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Thread: Biodiversity

  1. #1
    Clownfish

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    Biodiversity

    It's raining and I feel like rambling. Biodiversity. I am facinated by this. I also think it is a cool word. But for us aquarists it is restricted to marine animals, some good (for our tanks) and some bad (for our tanks). All animals are good for something, at least they think so. Even paracites have a purpose and a niche, although I can't think of one at the moment.
    Looking at an aquarium we first notice the fish, then the corals and rocks and as we get closer and more interested, we can barely pick up movement in darker areas. Under and between rocks, crawling or slithering through the substrait. These are the things that facinate me. Yes I have some fish and corals but they are common. Everyone knows all about them and we all have or had them or at least seen them. But the creatures from the darker zones, thats where the real action is.
    In my reef there are maybe 18 fish, but I would imagine that for each fish there are a hundred brittle stars, fifty bristle worms, a thousand amphipods and possably a million copepods. I never counted so don't hold me to those numbers.
    But we rarely look at a tank and say "wow what a cool amphipod that is". Well I do, but I am a little strange.
    Take a brittle star for instance, very cool animal. They hang out all day under a rock with one or two arms sticking out. I am not sure why they are hiding because almost nothing eats them. I guess it is because even though the fish don't eat them, they do pick them up, chew on them, then spit them out. Maybe that is the reason they hide. Good reason, anyway, how do they even know they are hiding? They have no eyes, no brain, and no ears. They don't even have a lateral line like all true fish have to help them get around. Instead of those sensors they have others more suited to a bottom dwelling animal. Even without eyes they can sense light. We can also if we just close our eyes we can tell light from dark. But what really facinates me about these and animals living in similar habitats is the fact that even without a brain, they are so much better at some things than we are. Maybe not basketball or pole vaulting but their ability to find food. We humans can smell certain foods from a few feet away but if you put blindfolds on us and put us in a room with 4 or 5 fans blowing the air all over the place I doubt we would know where the food was.
    Snails and crabs can, as can brittle stars and bristle worms. Sharks can do that with blood and they can sense electrical signals but they have a brain.
    I have a small tank with local snails, worms, crabs and shrimp. There is a small powerhead in there also. If I throw in a pellet, in about 5 seconds the seemingly sleeping snails all turn in the direction of the pellet and "race" to the exact place, trying to beat out the crabs. I don't know how much a dry pellet smells but I don't think it is all that much but I really don't have any idea how these "lower" animals can know the direction to go. Especially with the water swirling about, but they never falter, they know exactly what direction to go.
    Amphipods are another cool animal. Most tanks don't have these as I collect them in the sea, they are different from copepods that are in all tanks as they are many times larger. We tend to call anything tiny a copepod but they are not all the same. Many of them are the young of crustaceans and most of them will die in a tank long before they get much larger than a real copepod. They haven't yet mastered the art of growing up away from the sea which is the reason we don't see baby hermit crabs or coral banded shrimp all over our tanks. Hermit crabs and shrimp spawn all the time as do all crabs and shrimp but the babies all die in a few days.
    It must be frightening to be one of these animals, Oh wait, they have no brain so I guess they can't be frightened, good thing too because as a brittle star lays around waiting for a meal there are also, in the same hole bristle worms. They crawl all over each other but they don't seem to mind.
    I guess these creatures make better neighbors than some of us.
    Fishkeeping almost 60 years, Reef tank started in 1972

  2. #2
    Clownfish

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    I don't know how many of these local mud snails and grass shrimp are in my reef but I dropped two pellets in this spot and with in 5 minutes there are 8 mud snails and 3 grass shrimp here fighting for lunch.
    The tank is 6' long so they came from long distances to get here.

    Fishkeeping almost 60 years, Reef tank started in 1972

  3. #3
    Cleaner Shrimp
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    Ya it boggles my mind brittle worms are fast allso. Berghia fascinates me the most.

  4. #4
    Wrasse
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    Paul, always a good read. Thanks for the for the thoughts of those not thought of often

  5. #5
    Clownfish

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    Yesterday I was looking at this guy who was resting in a hole. Suddenly I noticed there was something in there with him. I took my flashlight (that I keep next to the tank) and peered in. It was a huge bristle worm wrapped around the bleeny. At first I thought the fish was dying and the worm was eating him. But on closer inspection the worm was only hanging out with the fish and needed a place to rest it's tail which was almost completely wrapped around the fish.
    I put in some black worms and the bleeny came out to grab some then hurried back to the hole where the bristl worm again rested his tail over the fish.
    This fish has been with me a few years so I guess he knows where the safe places to rest are and he is in no danger.


    Fishkeeping almost 60 years, Reef tank started in 1972

  6. #6
    Clownfish

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    Here is a picture of the inside of my "in tank" surface skimmer. I don't have a sump and this thing skims the surface to remove the thin film that accumulates there. It also functions as a overflow as It feeds my HOB protein skimmer.

    This is a view from inside after I removed the bottom. It is almost completely filled with tube worms and amphipods. The tube worms grow from the sides and go all the way to the center almost stopping the water flow. These tube worms I would imagine are a very effective filter and water purification plant. I am not sure what they would remove but I imagine they feed on any microscope life including bacteria. In this picture, much of it looks like wet cement, thats because I had to break a lot of them to allow more water to flow.
    I love this stuff.



    This is the unit from the side. I don't remember how old it is but I guess it has been there for 12 or 15 years.

    Fishkeeping almost 60 years, Reef tank started in 1972

  7. #7
    Wrasse
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    Do you think the critters living in there cleaned the water better than the unit did??

  8. #8
    Clownfish

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    No, but they did remove some of the particulate matter. Of course it was then converted into ammonia by the animals and then into nitrate by the bacteria. I just think the more creatures that pop up by themselves, the better. To an extent.
    All this life is just a healthy sign
    Fishkeeping almost 60 years, Reef tank started in 1972

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