Mr. Saltwater Tank Interviews Richard Ross


I’m kicking off my Reef Junkie Insider Interview Series by interviewing Richard Ross, Senior Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium. Richard is known for his work with octopus, cuttlefish and approaching the saltwater tank hobby with a skeptical view point. In this interview, I ask Richard, “Does the data really matter?”

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Comments for this article (18)

  • Matt says:

    If I hear the word data one more time…

  • george Nicholson says:

    I personally would not be opposed to being asked at events or stores “would you like to donate $1.00 $5.00 or $10.00 towards research of ich or what ever else would help the hobby progress.

  • Matt says:

    Great topic Mark and well done with the interviewing skills.

    Made me think…yet once again…why are Moorish Idols(and many others) still being sold in LFS?? Really scrapes my scales!

  • mike says:

    with my own business I think im inadvertently doing some of the things your talking about like compiling data via Facebook my website and costumers tanks . at least in a local way .. + my own fish breeding coral fragging and rock making. A central way to provide good proven information and to collect data captive breeding fragging and live rock production I think could be done easily via Facebook and a short survey sent out to all fellow fish geeks
    Im sure there is plenty of OCD reefers out there that would love to help

  • Dave says:

    I have an idea how about we take this “tax” you are proposing and put it towards continued research in aquaculture instead of seeing how we are affecting the fishery this way we take our hands out of the fishery and this whole conversation becomes a moot point. Great video, I highly enjoyed it

  • Kelly says:

    I remember years ago the argument raised in the sport diving industry I have seen many changes in that hobby that made a lot of positive impact on the environment and have seen many divers ignore those changes but the dive industry as a whole supports the environment ie PADI aware foundation is one

    It takes leaders in the industry (hobby) to teach the proper ways to conserve the environment.

  • Dave lanchester says:

    Great interview raising some great debate but most local fish stores use the purchase from wholesale into there tanks and ready for sale within hours this practice is wrong they should also be responsible for the well being of these fish and see them as animals not just a quick buck I wouldn’t hesitate to pay more for a quarantined feeding prep food fish

  • Simon says:

    Mark, This video isn’t playing…just a black box….

  • Joe says:

    I’m curious about the effects of rising ocean temps and ocean acidification in comparison. We might come to a time where certain coral is only found in captivity.

  • Patrick says:

    Dave Lanchester, I totally agree I think that all wild caught and captive bred fish that come in to a retail store should have to be quarantined for a min. amount of time before they are able to be sold. over all the prices of fish would go up because of that time but it would require the stores to be more responsible when selling fish and in turn it would educate there customers on on why they are kept for a set time. and also teach customers more about the demands of each fish! i can’t count how many times i have been to a fish store and they will sell you a fish that is floating upside down and tell you its just shipping stress. Hands down, if there was a local fish store that quarantined fish for 30 days treated them if needed and informed each customer they would not only profit they would succeed immensely.
    just my opinion!

  • Simon K. says:

    Great interview Mark,

    Definitely something to think about. We (as hobbyists) should take note and be proactive about gathering the correct information regarding our hobby. I also agree with having a “central” hub or organization with standards of practice outlined. Even things like procedure manuals and encyclopedias of information relating to our hobby would be fantastic.
    Keep up the great work Mark.

    PS. I can’t believe I found another Simon listed in the comments section…woop woop!

  • trey says:

    I made the mistake a didnt quarantine now I have an emporer and singapore angel with ich so bad I can see it in there eyes. The sinagpore is breathing really quickly and I have a feeling he not going to last long. Im so beat up I feel terrible i screwed up big time.. the clowns on facebook will say anything. The forums havent really given me diffintve answers. I read the Ich essays on reefkeepers.com which so far has been my go to guides. All i know copper is what i need to be using. I dont have a hospital tank set up yet will any HOB filter work? Im in okinawa japan the language barrier makes it extremely hard to get anything done or ordered. Ive been forced to order stuff from amazon and brs with the holidays its extremely hard getting mail here.

    I dont t know what to order. Im leaving for the lfs right now hopefully I can get soemthing going

  • Rob says:

    Is there a best practice standard when it comes to LFS handling and caring for the fish if not this is a must and some kind of governing bodie to set the stage for how this all should work information on mortality rates of fish loges at every stage from capture to sale and each fish should be sold with a fish fact sheet designed to provide the essential knowledge required to best surve the needs of a fish and empower each person buying or handling a fish with the resposapilaty and accountability for its wellfair. Only then can LFS and handlers of fish be held acoundable for there methods of care. There seems to be to much “it’s just a fish” and “it died so I will just buy a new one” giving the impression that people don’t care.
    And I don’t think enough credit is acknowledged to the acumalated welth of knowledge the reef creeping community has that may well one day be the key to repopulating the sea with hardyer fish able to withstand fluctuating water chemistry caused by climate change that happens to quickly for fish in the whiled to adapt to.

  • radomir says:

    Mark, as usual, thks a lot for your effort in sharing these themes…
    I’m fully behind Rob’s comment while I wanna add this is not just US matter, but assume a worlwide issue. In Europe, esp Central Europe, LFS just mostly looking to maximise their turnover via max imports from wherever w/o being responsible f/selling healthy fish & corals. A need f/quarantine becomes a topic after its too late (in my case it happened, too, I lost 14 great fish out of 60 be ause of ick brought to displ tank from professionals – LFS!!!) => tough & expensive learning, too.
    I & believe many others would appreciate more insight to most common deaseases, indications to find a-quick-a-p & apply propr treatment. I was hoping to hear that during the interview w/ R.Ross. Hope to hear/learn more soon. Brgds f/white & freezing Europe (CZ)

  • Joe…agreed. There might come a time when what is in our tanks might be broodstock for the ocean.

  • Marc says:

    I’ve been out of the hobby for 3 years, with plans to get back in soon. In previous tanks, all fish and coral were tank bred for the purpose of not putting any extra strain on our oceans. Today, it seems like the fish breeding industry has made advances (with success with mandarin dragonets and some angels), but seems like finding tank bred species is actually becoming harder. Every hobbyist should be aware of the benefits of keeping tank bred fish, and should ask their LFS to carry more of them. It’d be great to see an upcoming Mr Saltwater Tank show with a fish breeder.

  • Pierre Bouic says:

    This subject has far reaching consequences, thanks for bringing it to our attention Mark. As I understand it there are roughly 180-200 species of marine fish that fish biologists have been able to breed with some more difficult to get to hatch out than others, this being said I don’t think that hobbyists would accept only having this number of fish to choose from to stock our tanks. what happened to stores displaying Marine Aquarium council stickers on their sign as a form of certifying the ethical capture of fish being sold in that particular store. I live in Australia and would feel very secure in knowing this was an option but we don’t have that sort of certification process here down under. There are strict rules for capture of fish on the Great Barrier Reef but I’m aware of them.
    I think that global weather change is threatening all coral reefs & fish, this should be reason enough for justifying research on fish & coral propagation. In the indo pacific region teaching locals aquaculture is and has been the key to stopping populations of fish, coral species from being plundered and gives them the knowledge to start businesses. This alone to me is justification for aquarium sciences being undertaken and is a good way of shutting up the anti aquarium people along with threats from climate change. Coral frags being more hardy as well as tank breed fish are also reasons for justifying these sciences, but there is lots of work to be done yet to learn how to breed all fish species that are harvested for our hobby. My wish is for a type of international body that certifies stocks of fish, coral, and cultured or made rock can be proven as being sustainably harvested or breed, with a LFS store having gotten a certificate. This would go a long way to stop us being made to feel guilty for our hobby. Knowledge is power & this power to save species from extinction is the future of reef keeping.

  • Dustin says:

    I am a certified diver, and I pay extra for every cert card I get to donate to Project Aware. I know there are places to go online for information such as Reefcentral, reef2reef, etc, but for every question you ask you get at least 5 different responses to how to handle that question. I would pay for a service that would compile the good information or information backed by research, to make it easier to find the best solution to a problem and even fight our battles as hobbyist. I think it would look better in the eyes of the law makers that we as a hobby are willing to put forth the effort/funds to make us more responsible as a whole. Just my 2 cents

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