Kansan Reef

You're not in the ocean anymore.

NOAA proposes ban on 66 coral species


Nick Miller, a student at the University of Kansas, grows numerous species of corals in his 3-bedroom apartment in Lawrence, Kan. His years of successful coral growing may soon end because of a possible trade ban on 66 species of corals, proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.

Banned CoralsThe NOAA has proposed changing the status of 66 coral species to either threatened or endangered. The proposed change will make it illegal to import, sell or trade all 66 of the corals on the list.

“The people who are trying to save the reefs politically don’t care about the trade at all,” Ian Higby, fishroom manager at Pet World, Lawrence, Kan., said.

“There’s no argument about it – its stupid. It’s ruining the reef economy. They say ‘don’t hurt the reefs,’ but they’re missing the target,” Higby said.

The NOAA aims to preserve and protect coral species in their natural habitats. A species is endangered “if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” and a species is threatened if it is “likely to be endangered in the foreseeable future,” According to the NOAA.

The proposed change will ban the trade of numerous corals common in reef aquariums, whether they were once wild corals or grown in captivity.

Captive grown, or aquacultured, corals are much more hardy and rebound quicker from stress, Evie Anderson, an employee at Paradise Aquatics, Lawrence, Kan., said. “Collected corals don’t ship as well and are more sensitive to fluctuations in water conditions,” Anderson said.

Most of the proposed banned corals are naturally found near Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and some of the species are only found near the Great Barrier Reef.

Habitat of Proposed Banned Corals

Among the 66 proposed banned corals are species of frogspawn, bubble, torch and hammer corals, all of which are common in the reef aquarium trade.

“A lot of the ones I have, like the frogspawns and the torches and the hammers, they totally take off in people’s tanks, ” Anderson said, “It’s a little overwhelming to think that they say that so many of them are endangered.”

Paradise Aquatics has grown colonies of many of the proposed banned species, some of which have lived in the store for nearly 10 years. “It’s just hard for me to comprehend because they do so well in captivity,” Anderson said.

If the NOAA’s proposal takes effect, hobbyists and storeowners will be unable to sell or trade the banned species. “What do they want me to do with them?” Anderson said. People who keep proposed banned corals will have to destroy the corals they no longer want or can care for. “At some point, they’re going to outgrow the tank,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that if the proposed ban passes, Paradise Aquatics would “happily ship their threatened or endangered corals to wherever they’re struggling in the ocean.”

Miller said none of his corals were harvested from the ocean – they’re all captive grown.

“By taking corals from the ocean and getting them used to captivity, we’re only helping the ecosystem,” Miller said.

Below is an excerpt from my interview with Nick Miller

Transcript of the interview excerpt.


Leave a comment

Selecting an aquarium setup right for you

Starting a new aquarium can be a challenging task. To ensure the health of the animals and the sanity of the owner, you should consider the level of care you’re willing to provide the aquarium, the type of animals you can keep, the size aquarium you will need and how many fish you can keep, given all other factors. The chart below is from information gathered from the New Aquarium Set-Up articles from Drs. Foster and Smith. Follow the chart to determine what aquarium setup is right for you.


LED Lighting: is it up to par for reef aquariums?

Leave a comment

Transcript of the video.

LED lighting is becoming a popular alternative way to light aquariums, however many LED fixtures may not be ready to grow corals in reef aquariums.

Lack of the correct variety in light spectrum and less water penetration can reduce coral and plant growth, both of which are things to consider when thinking of buying LED lighting.

“If you want to get the quality of a fluorescent, with the same type of spectrum, you’d have to buy a more expensive LED,” Ian Higby, an aquatics specialist at Pet World Inc., Lawrence, Kan.

Vinton Ebling, owner of Paradise Aquatics, Overland Park, Kan., said a full spectrum LED lighting fixture can cost as much as $600, where a comparable metal halide lighting setup will cost about $350.
Continue reading

Aquarium fish can be affected by disease and sickness

1 Comment

If you notice you aquarium fish acting or looking different, it may be ill, which can often lead to death. Early recognition of illness is important to restoring your fish back to health.

Like humans, fish are more susceptible to illness when they’re under stress, Hannah Owens, a graduate student of ichthyology at the University of Kansas, said. “They’re just like people. When it’s finals week and your not sleeping and eating right, you get sick.”

“You can’t just call fish sickness one thing,” Owen Hurst, sales manager at Pet World, Lawrence, Kan., said. “As fish’s immune systems become weaker they become more susceptible to more things.”

Fish Sickness Infographic

Sickness among fish can be difficult to diagnose, so close observation is important. “Watch its behavior, is it swimming, is it lying on the bottom, is it eating, is it gasping for air,” Owens said.

There are many different kinds of sicknesses that can affect aquarium fish. Ick, fin rot, popeye, fungus, neurological disorders and parasites are some of the common things that make fish sick, Hurst said.

“Ick is the most common. There hasn’t been a week where I haven’t seen it,” Luke Ballou, aquatics specialist at Petco, Lawrence, Kan., said. Ballou said he’s learned everything he knows about fish illnesses from helping people work out their problems with their fish during his nearly 4 years at Petco. Ick is a parasitic disease that is highly contagious among fish.

Parasites can be harmful because they take nutrients from the food the host fish eat, which leads to starvation, and can cause internal blockage, which leads to digestive problems, Owens said.

Owens researched the relationship of sharks and parasitic tapeworms while working on her master’s degree. “For sharks, it’s no big deal because they’re huge and the worms are tiny and they’ve evolved together.” Continue reading

Reef aquarium “hitchhikers” can cause serious injury

Leave a comment

Transcript of the video.
Reef aquarium “hitchhikers,” or things introduced to the aquarium accidentally, can cause serious injury to reef aquarium hobbyists.

Aquarium trade and exotic fish are now invasive in U.S. waters

Leave a comment


What can we do to help control invasive species?
Below is an excerpt from an interview with Hannah Owens.

Transcript of the interview excerpt. 
Fish commonly kept in the home aquarium are turning up in waters in the United States, according to the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, SEFSC. Hobby fish, such as lionfish, humpback grouper and clown triggerfish, are now considered invasive in the Southeast United States, according to the SEFSC.

“There’s no way for a reef fish from the Pacific, that’s tropical, to get to the Atlantic, unless somebody’s helping it,” Hannah Owens, a graduate student of ichthyology at the University of Kansas, said.

Studies have shown that lionfish have been introduced into the Gulf of Mexico multiple times, Owens said. A prevailing hypothesis is that somebody had an aquarium that they no longer wanted and dumped it, “it was definitely more than one introduction,” Owens said.
Continue reading

Decline in reef growth indicates chronic stress factors

Leave a comment



Coral reef growth has decreased as much as 70 percent in some places, according to a study conducted by The University of Queensland, Australia, QU.

It’s not so much in industries that people willl notice the lack of reef growth, but “reefs serve as barriers,” said Dr. Daphne Fautin, a program officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a professor of invertebrate zoology at the University of Kansas. “The places least damaged by the Southeast Asian tsunami were the places with the best developed coral reefs.”

According to QU, corals accumulate and produce calcium carbonate, set against the loss of carbonate through erosional processes. There are many causes of reef decay, Fautin said. One of the sources comes from increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Increased carbon dioxide in the air means more CO2 in the water, said Fautin. Carbon dioxide in water makes carbonic acid and lowers the pH, which can lead to chronic stress in the corals. “Coral reefs do well in chronic stress if well established.”
Continue reading