2195 E. Edgewood Dr.
Lakeland, Florida 33803

Feb 19


December 17, 2015

Help protect Florida’s reefs, and get some cool gifts!

Florida’s unique coral reef system is the third-largest barrier reef system on the planet. Sadly though, this system has lost over 90% of its coral coverage over the past four decades. Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, is at the forefront of efforts to both preserve and restore Florida’s reefs. Mote Marine is offering a means to conveniently purchase a Florida Save Our Reefs license plate while at the same time making a donation to Mote’s ongoing efforts at protecting and restoring Florida’s coral reefs.

In addition to the license plate that shows your support for reef preservation and restoration, you’ll receive a remarkable gift package with a combined value of over $300. Included in the gift package are…

  1. (2) 16oz. Tervis Tumblers & (2) Coozies (value: $35)
  2. Mote Aquarium tickets 2 for 1 for up to 6 people…..buy 3 get 3 (value: $57)
  3. 25% off Okuma Fishing Gear (up to $125)
  4. Save 15% off all Reef Safe Suncare order
  5. Mote & Bombora Branded T-Shirt and Coupon for up to $30
  6. 1 Pass for Fury Water Adventures Key West (value: $40)

For more information, or to purchase your Reefplate and claim your prize package, go to: Reefplate.com

October 2, 2015

A Rough Summer for Florida’s Reefs

In what experts are calling one of the worst coral bleaching episodes in two decades, Florida’s coral reefs have been decimated this summer by the death of acres of corals. The direct result of abnormally-high water temperatures, bleaching occurs when corals expel the beneficial algae which provide their coloration and some of their nutrition. This bleaching leaves the coral polyps vulnerable to disease, and is often fatal. What is left behind is a severely-weakened or dying coral colony characterized by white calciferous skeletons. Waves and tides break apart these skeletons, leaving a bleached wasteland where once there had been a vibrant reef habitat.

According to Margaret Miller, ecologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center, “It’s significant impact, and it’s permanent…Corals do not grow back very effectively. So that’s a permanent loss to our coral community. It just becomes rock.”

Federal and state officials say the damage began this summer as water temperatures peaked. They expect conditions to improve as ocean waters cool this fall and winter. However, they caution, many coral communities, which support a wide variety of fish and invertebrates, may be so damaged they may not be able to recover.

July 23, 2015

Got Aiptasia?

We received an interesting inquiry a couple of weeks ago from a visitor to our website who raises berghia nudibranches. Berghias are an effective natural control for aiptasia (a nuisance anemone that reproduces at an alarming rate), and this visitor was inquiring as to whether we sold the pesky anemone – he needed a ready supply to feed his berghia. I was somewhat amused by this inquiry, since so many of us work so diligently to remove aiptasia from our systems, and would never think of encouraging their spread, but it reminded me of the fact that, in nature, little is wasted. It seems there’s a use and a place for everything – even the lowly aiptasia.

Sooner or later, almost everyone who keeps a marine aquarium will be forced to deal with unwanted aiptasia. In case you find yourself in that category there are a number of effective means to control this unwanted invader. Among these are natural controls, like the aforementioned berghia, as well peppermint shrimp, some types of hermit crabs, and a few species of fish. Each of these have limited effectiveness, and are typically unable to rein in a wide-spread infestation. There are also chemical products available from your LFS for dealing with aiptasia, but be sure to read the product information carefully before using any of these remedies. For other creative methods of removal, check out some of the videos on YouTube. My personal favorites are those where folks blast them with boiling water or zap them with lasers! If you’re looking for more information, here is an excellent article from Salty Underground: Aiptasia Information and Control.

June 30, 2015

Lobster with a Side of Lionfish

As an incentive for Florida lobster divers to help cull the invasive lionfish population in our state waters, the FWC, in its June meeting, put in place an exciting opportunity that will launch this summer. Divers who harvest ten or more lionfish per day during the annual two-day sport lobster season (July 29 & 30 this year) will be permitted to harvest an additional legal spiny lobster per day (i.e., one more than the legal bag limit.) In addition, participants can take a photo of their lobster/lionfish catch and post it to Facebook.com/LionfishReefRangers to get a “Be the Predator” T-shirt. As an added incentive, each photo entrant will be entered into a drawing to win a life-time saltwater fishing license. For a complete description of the program, rules and regulations, as well as links to other information about Florida’s spiny lobster harvests, go here.

June 24, 2015

Some Very Good Reasons to Shop at Your Local Fish Store

Like most small retailers, your local fish store (LFS) will be hard-pressed to beat the prices you can find on certain products – dry goods in particular – at online or big-box retailers. The ability of these large retailers to purchase huge quantities at deep discounts gives them a pricing advantage we simply cannot match. At the same time, however, there are some very valid reasons why saving a few dollars on the front end could cost you over time. Here are a few such reasons:

  • Many online retailers still do not collect state and local sales taxes on purchases you make on their websites. This puts them at an unfair advantage over your LFS right from the get-go. In addition, when you shop with these tax-evading retailers, the end result is that your money – as well as these tax revenues – leaves your community never to return. When you buy locally, your money gets recycled locally, and your sales taxes work to improve your state and community.
  • Your LFS is staffed by sales associates who know the products they sell, how to install and use them, and the appropriateness of these products for use in your system. Try gleaning this sort of expertise from FishyStuff.com.
  • Sales associates in big-box pet stores are typically generalists (they have to be), meaning they have a general knowledge of all things “pet” – dogs, cats, gerbils, geckos, etc. – you get the picture. The staff at your LFS are aquatics experts. They know fish, invertebrates, aquatic plants, pumps, sumps, filters, etc. Most are avid aquarists themselves, and their knowledge and enthusiasm are born of their love for the hobby.
  • Your LFS is a phone call away to provide guidance, answer questions, and assist you in your pursuit of the perfect set-up. Not sure how to install that new reactor? No problem. Just call your LFS, and let their staff talk you through it.
  • Walk into your LFS, and you’ll likely be greeted by several staff members. Have a question or need advice? You won’t have to wander the aisles looking for someone to help you, or be made to feel like assisting you is a major inconvenience.

In conclusion, remember that value and price are not the same. The knowledge and assistance available to you at your LFS are the values added to the price of their merchandise, and are seldom included by that online or big-box retailer.

June 18, 2015

Ocean Temps, Coral Bleaching and NOAA Resources

For marine aquarists interested in or concerned about the heath and conservation of our planet’s coral reefs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA – has a remarkably-informative online tool. NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program website provides volumes of information on coral types, growth, cultivation, conservation and threats to our reefs, as well as wonderful resources for educators, links to academic papers and research data and much more. This site also provides links to other NOAA programs, including its Coral Reef Information System and its Coral Reef Watch satellite monitoring system. This system, updated daily, shows areas of concern for risk of coral bleaching in all oceans worldwide.

Regardless of one’s position on global warming, the fact is that, since about 1985, the amount of thermal energy stored in our planet’s oceans has increased at an alarming rate such that last year marked the highest annual average ever recorded (to view the data, go here.) Coral bleaching is a direct result of increased ocean temperatures, so, unless and until this upward trend is reversed, our reefs will continue to be at peril.

June 9, 2015

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats…

In order for our hobby to be sustainable, it will become increasingly important for scientists and researchers to expand the list of marine fish and invertebrates that can be successfully captive-bred, and raised in such numbers as to be commercially viable. At the vanguard of the growing effort to accomplish these objectives is Rising Tide Conservation. Headquartered in Orlando, Rising Tide describes itself as “…an initiative of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund,” and lists as its goals the exchange of information on–and the raising of funds to support–research in aquaculture. Of the 1,500-plus species of marine fish sold in the aquarium industry, only about 125 species have been successfully bred in captivity. However, that list is growing as continuing research identifies new methods for bringing new species to the commercial market. (For a look at Coral Magazine’s 2015 Captive Breeding List, go here.) For example, Rising Tide recently reported some success in the captive breeding of Yellow Tangs – a species that has never been successfully tank-raised. As the wild capture of marine fish–and the methods used in wild harvesting reef fish–put more and more pressure on the health of our planet’s reef systems, the work of Rising Tide and other such groups will likely be the means by which the marine aquarium hobby is able to continue to grow. To learn more about Rising Tide Conservation, including ways you can support their work, click here.

June 4, 2015

Healing Reefs and Wounded Vets

In July, 2015, and for the fourth year, Mote Marine Laboratories will host an underwater event that brings together marine scientists from Mote, teen scuba team Aquanauts, and combat wounded veterans in a unique collaboration aimed at restoring Florida’s ailing coral reefs. Working at Mote’s coral restoration lab in the Florida Keys, this group will transplant staghorn coral frags, and, in the process forge relationships and build life skills. To read a report from last summer’s dive, go to Mote’s website at Restoration and Remembrance. To view a beautiful and inspiring video shot at the 2014 dive, go here.