‘Aquatics Live’ PR Promises Engaging Event

Aquatics Live is nearly upon us…. unfortunately we won’t be able to make it this year, but take a look at what the event organisers have to say below!


Aquatics live is an event for everyone from novices to established aquarist with lots of great features including seminars from celebrities in the aquatics world, interactive aqauscaping, stunning fish and reef displays, shopping opportunities plus lots more.

The event will be bringing together manufactures, retailers, clubs and societies from all over the UK representing every branch of the fish and reptile world giving visitors a unique opportunity to view a stunning range of exotic and native fish as well as reptiles, purchase a wide variety of new and existing products, talk to the experts, watch demonstrations and attend seminars hosted by some of the biggest names in the Aquatics world all under one roof!

Some of the industry’s leading manufacturers including Tetra, Eheim, JBL and Reef One will be showcasing their latest innovations. ALF, Sublime Acquario and Coventry Aquatics will be demonstrating their new lines and unveiling an exclusive Godiva marine system with their staff will be on hand to offer advice and answer questions. We have a number of large scale and independent retailers selling the widest range of products direct to visitors at the show.

Two seminar theatres will be running live sessions throughout the weekend with celebrity speakers Heiko Bleher, James Starr-Marshall, Chris Lukhaup, Dave Hulce, Jeremy Gay, Simon Garratt, Mark Evenden and Dave Wolfenden talking about a range of topics aimed not only at experienced aquarists and specialists, but also at beginners and novices who are looking for advice and inspiration. At the end of each day they will also be taking part in a full Q&A session in the main auditorium.

UKAPS (UK Aquatics Plant society) team will be on hand to offer expert help to young hobbyists in an interactive aquascaping activity zone where visitors will have the opportunity to design their own aquascapes and underwater worlds with help and advice from the experts. UKAPS will also be running a competition for the 10 finalists for the best Aquascape whilst Blue Planet Aquarium will be running a superb hands-on experience with touch pools telling an interactive story of the UK’s native coast line including sea urchins, starfish, shrimps and crabs. There will be an ocean reefscape in an eight foot, 400 gallon feature tank of large marine fish and reef characters such as Puffers and Clownfish as well as corals and live rocks creating a stunning reef display. Cubic Aquarium Systems will be launching there Jelly Fish Aquarium at the show and we also have Air Swimmers, the remote controlled flying fish who will be gliding around the exhibition. ITC Aquatics will be launching MarineMad at the show, a new concept in aquatic social networking integrated into your aquarium profile!!

Aquatics Live will also feature a range of reptile exhibitors including Crocodiles of the World with Channel 5’s latest star, Shaun Foggett and his baby Nile crocodiles where you can learn all about the worldwide conservation. In addition there will be a Reptile Forum where John Berry from John Berry Reptiles will be hosting fascinating talks.

The Clubs & Associations Pavilion, sponsored by Hagen, will host a variety of groups and organisation including the Federation of British Aquatic Societies who will be on hand to offer advice and information for new and existing members. There will be stunning displays of live bearers, discus, koi and rare goldfish as well as an interactive furnished tank contest. Also Sparsholt College will be offering advice and expertise on specialist aquatics education careers and courses.



High Speed Video Used To Study Pomacanthids Unique Bite

image: Digital-Reefs

Recent research undertaken by Nicolai Konow and David R. Bellwood of the School of Marine and Tropical Biology and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies respectively, has taken an close look at the kinematics behind the unique mouthparts of the marine angelfishes of the Pomacanthidae family.

Thanks to an extra joint in their lower jaw these fishes have the unusual ability of being able to rapidly protrude their mouthparts and bite at the same time. This attribute, combined with an extra set of bristle-like teeth gives them a firm grasp of their food, and allows them tear food from parts of the reef that other fishes cannot reach. Free to exploit plentiful food sources (such as algae, sponges etc), this adaptation has allowed them to thrive in a range of environments. The study’s key discovery however, was that this design has been so successful that even though they occur in diverse areas with a range of food sources, it is the configuration of their gut and body shape that has evolved to accommodate this change, rather than their mouths.

Reviewing the study, Peter Wainwright of the University of California said “This is an interesting pattern that you can get different specialists in different things using a system that’s not getting heavily modified. That is pretty interesting. You don’t see that very often.”

Private aquarists keeping such species in captivity may well be able to witness this interesting mechanism in action! Read the paper, and view some interesting high speed video footage of a range of species feeding HERE.

TMC Brings Australian Rarity To The UK

image: Richard Ross, California Academy of Sciences

In an apparent first for the UK, TMC have very recently imported a rare Rainfordia opercularis (Flathead Perch).

An endemic to Australian waters, little is known of its lifestyle, mainly due to it’s cryptic habits in nature. It is known to grow to around 15cm though, and has been observed feeding on glass shrimp in captivity. Given that, it is likely to be hardy and should become less shy if fed regularly in captivity (as carnivore, note that this species is liable to consume ornamental crustaceans if they are mixed).
After being received at TMCs Manchester depot briefly, the fish has already gone to a North West retail outlet and is on offer for sale to private hobbyists for a four figure sum. Further details on the fish’s background and import are sketchy at the moment but we hope to bring you more on this in the coming days.

We certainly hope whoever owns this rare fish has the time and commitment to keep it thriving and takes the time to report on it’s behaviour.

New Sponsor: Dreamreef, UK

As importers of rare and exotic corals, including Australian and ‘hard to find’ species, Dreamreef, Leicester, are one of the UKs top specialist suppliers.

With all stock is CITES registered, and a range of dry goods also available, we are very pleased that they have chosen to become a digital-reefs sponsor… and we look forward to reporting on more of their stunning offerings in the future!

Digital-Reefs Goes Mobile

If you’ve got a smartphone, you might be interested to know that you can now view an optimised version of this website on your device using WPTouch technology… so now you can keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the reefkeeping world while on the move!

Unlike certain other blogsites, the service doesn’t end there. Instead, with a free subscription, you can also log-in and use the service to access the extensive Digital-Reefs galleries. Provided you have network coverage, this allows you to check care requirements and identifications for thousands of ornamental fish and invert species while you are right there at your retailers.

Look out for a short video on how to make the most of this new service coming soon!

Seaweeds Gain Upper Hand In Reef Turf Wars

The results of a recent study published in PNAS have demonstrated that certain species of seaweeds can damage corals directly, and worryingly, they are invading an increasing number of reefs.

A particular problem in locations with depleted populations of herbivorous fish species, these weeds are quick to gain a foothold and can kill corals by extended direct contact, or by the excretion of chemicals called terpenes. They also make it harder for coral larvae to settle by colonising large areas of substrate. Often unpalatable to all but a small number of species, the seaweeds are quick to exploit conditions where such herbivores have been removed, through fishing for example.

Not all seaweeds are toxic though, and some authorities suggest that only small coral colonies stand to be totally destroyed through such contact.

Read more HERE

REVIEW: Coral Sea Dreaming: Awaken (Blu-ray)

image: Plankton Productions

Whether you are just creating a reef aquarium or looking to develop an existing one, inspiration can be found in many different places. Photographs in books, magazines or the internet, diving experiences, or even pure imagination are just a few that can all play a part. If you are seeking such inspiration, the unbridled splendor of pristine wild reefs presented in Coral Sea Dreaming: Awaken is not just visually stunning, it is also an invaluable resource for reefkeepers.

As a sequel to the original Coral Sea Dreaming DVD (released in 1992), the capture of this all-new footage has clearly been a labour of love, painstakingly recorded and edited with the latest HD equipment. The multilayered Blu-ray also now runs with an upgraded menu system which offers a range of options and extras including music only or music with narration, creature identification and loop playback. In our opinion, all elements are beautfully crafted, from footage, to script, to music score (the music is similar to the first version). Image quality is excellent, rising to’ jaw-dropping’ in places. The high definition is particularly stunning on wide shots and the surround sound is also a delight even on our own modest system. It’s no surprise that this was an award-winner at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. The extra features are extensive too, indeed we particularly liked the ‘visual decor’ section and think this would be great as an ambient display in a nightclub-type environment. Interviews with David Hannan and Tania Rose are also very interesting.

With a main feature running time of nearly an hour and a half, all the extras included, and the pure level of detail on display, this package should provide hours of entertainment. Perhaps our only slight disappontment was that there was no ‘pure fluorescence’ night-dive footage included, which we felt could have provided for some stunning imagery given the diversity of the locations (we emphasize this is a not a complaint).

If you are as serious about reefkeeping and conservation as we are, you’ll want to have this in your collection!

REVIEW: Tanktests.co.uk

Water tests are one of those aspects of reefkeeping that you either love or hate. Sometimes, if you don’t have a lot of time, fiddling around with bottles of solutions, vials and syringes can prove to be a real pain.. and then there’s always the worry if you are getting the right results. Test kits aren’t cheap either… and they don’t last indefinitely.

That’s why we really like the service offered by tanktests.co.uk – the UK’s only mail order water testing service. If you’ve never used this service before, basically, you just order and pay for your test and then a small bottle is sent to you along with a return envelope. All you do is fill up the bottle, put it in the return envelope and then send it back to tanktests recorded delivery (which you pay for). That’s it… you can then just sit back and enjoy your tank! A few days later, you’ll receive your results back by email. With several levels of test available, we particularly like the Advanced Test which, for £15 plus postage, gives you 12 key parameter readings- pH, Salinity, Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Iodine, Strontium, Potassium and Silica.

But how is the testing done specifically you may ask? Well, rather than using just one brand, it’s reassuring to know that tanktests have chosen from a range of different brands of tests kits with a view providing the most consistent and accurate results. At present, Coral Shop test kits are used for the Calcium, Magnesium and Alkalinity, and they also use the Coral Shop standards (reference solutions) and the lab set. This means they use glass phials and latex free gloves to ensure any skin contact does not effect any results. Tricky Phosphate testing is done with a D&D high sensitivity test kit, although at the time of our review they are parallel testing with a Hanna phosphorous checker. For general good practice, all phials and syringes are rinsed several times with RO water and then allowed to dry naturally (some dry cloths/kitchen roll may have contaminants). Finally, although time consuming, only one water sample is tested at a time. This enhances the accuracy of results as some tests can be very time specific for adding reagents or comparing results. The other advantage is that cross contamination of samples or even results is avoided.

In conclusion, it’s great to see this operation offering such a useful service under new ownership. We wish them all the best and look forward to having the Digital-Reefs tank tested by them again in the near future!


REVIEW: CoralCulture Mail Order

In light of some stunning stock on offer through this supplier recently, we decided it was time to add a few new bits to the Digital-Reefs tank. We were also keen to take advantage of a short term discount offer running at the time and as such snapped up a lovely solid blue Acro frag and a mini Scolymia for a very good price.

Communication from this supplier was excellent with a tracking number popping into our inbox the day after ordering. The day after this, the package was duly delivered and feverishly opened later that day. I have to say that the packaging was absolutely excellent, indeed I hope this quality comes across in the images. Basically, my two frags were safely double bagged together within a larger bag. Each bag was “clipped” using an Aqua-Clipper (a method that exporters and wholesalers use), and as such, the bag was topped off with pure Oxygen before sealing (this is the first time we have ever seen this expensive kit used by a retailer). Surrounded in bubble wrap and with a heat pack in the bottom, they were also encased on all sides with approx 1 inch thick styrofoam. All of this was within a sturdy cardboard box.

Once out of the box, the bag water was tested for temperature and using the same thermometer as used for the tank, we ascertained it had only dropped by a few degrees Farenheit – to 73f. As such, the bags were opened up and floated for about 20 minutes after which time they had equalised. The frags themselves were just as shown on the website, decent sizes for the price. Over the next 3 hours, small amounts of water were added to the bags to bring other parameters into line. During this process, a couple of coral barnacles in the acro frag could be seen raking the water with their feet, obviously unperturbed by the changes occuring. The frags were then carefully lifted out of the bags and placed on the substrate to acclimatise for a couple of weeks.

A month on and I’m happy to say that both pieces are as perfect as the day they arrived. The shipping process clearly hasn’t had any negative affects and I’m sure this is down to Coralcultures vast experience and expertise in this area… and also the quality of their stock. We highly recommend this supplier if you are in looking for top quality stock delivered to your door.