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RF Staff
Jun 12, 2006
Los Angeles
Hi everyone –

The ID business is a hard one. Even large inverts can be difficult to name. Sometimes the characters that define species are microscopic or internal or just plain iffy. Vague descriptions like “I found this white thingy on my glass, it’s kinda slimey & stringy, what could it be?” aren’t exactly helpful. Even detailed descriptions may not be useful because let’s face it, a whole lot of unrelated inverts with different life styles look a lot alike.

So what can you do? The absolute best thing is to get a good crisp picture clearly showing the body. Maybe even a couple of pics since some animals like snails require shots of both the top & bottom to be identified or in the case of crabs the claws are important. Tell us what it’s doing in your tank since behavior is sometimes a clue. Is it in the rockwork or on the sand? Living on a coral or another animal? – then tell us what kind since some inverts are commensals that only live on one host.

How do you get a good pic of your unknown critter? Capture it and photograph it in a clear or off-white dish with enough water to cover it. If there’s no way you can capture it then get the best focused shot you can through the glass. Borrow a real camera if you have to as phone pics often can’t do good close ups. If you just can’t get a decent pic, try to find an image of something similar on the web & link to it. There are a lot of good images here on RF in the gallery & links in the library. Over time we’ll be adding more links of special interest for invert lovers.

No pic and you can’t find anything on the web? Oh well, describe it & we’ll do the best we can to id it for you. And by "we" I mean everyone who's interested in inverts. No promises though! :)
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