Fish Species at FishChannel.com

May 2009 FAMA Editor's Note

Hail to the Inverts.

By Clay Jackson

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Invertebrates. The word conjures up different images for different aquarists. To many reefkeepers, the word might invoke thoughts of colorful corals and other “flower” animals (aka anemones). To hobbyists losing fish one by one at night, nightmares of mantis shrimp might haunt them. Whether creepy or cool, invertebrates are never boring.

They also are some of the hardest-working animals in our saltwater and freshwater setups. Of course, some aquarists build entire setups around invertebrates — the standard reef tank filled with all kinds of corals, for example. Cleaner shrimp and snails are often “hired” as “janitorial crews” to rid our systems of uneaten bits of food and other detritus. Any way you slice them (figuratively, not Benihana style), invertebrates are some of the most interesting animals we keep.

As a fan of every loathsome, under-a-rock-dwelling thing sans a notochord (backbone equivalent in lower vertebrates), I present Freshwater And Marine Aquarium’s first-ever invertebrate issue. For fish lovers, there are still plenty of images of fishes in this issue and some of the columns also have a decidedly fish theme to them (what are you going to do with “Bettas and More” and “Discus and Depth”?). Actually, even “Bettas and More” has a betta-invert slant to it.

A special issue such as this forces our writers to think and write outside of the usual fish-and-coral box. This is a tremendous benefit to you, as new information is often the outcome.

Because we so often focus on corals and anemones, those animals receive spotty coverage in this issue. Instead, you can read and learn about Amano shrimp, sea stars, Stenopus banded shrimp, sea fireflies, peacock mantis shrimp, fiddler crabs, crayfishes, herbivorous snails, hermit crabs, etc.

If we failed to include your favorite invertebrate, we’re sorry. The list of extant marine and freshwater invertebrate species numbers in the thousands. We hope to get to them all eventually, but for now, enjoy the ones in this issue.

Speaking of inverts, I write in a recent “Ebb and Flow” blog about how humans have spread estuarine invertebrates across the globe. Read my “Aquariums as Ballast Holds” blog here.

Midwest FragFest Coral fans shouldn’t miss the Midwest FragFest, April 25 and 26, in Rockford, Illinois.

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