Bioluminescent Ostracods

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nschomer

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Hello Everybody,

I am currently building my first marine reef system (have kept freshwater tank for over 20 years, but first saltwater setup), and was looking primarily for biodiversity in my reef system. The system is built on 3 connected tanks (four if you count the refugium), and I want to have reservoirs of several different trophic levels represented. Going to build it from "ground up", starting with phytoplankton and chaetomorpha (and maybe "green caviar" type caulerpa), and adding several species of copepods and amphipods to the next two trophic levels (while seeing if I can culture rotifers in situ or need to keep them completely separated).
In looking for suppliers of various small marine invertebrates, I stumbled upon some mentions of bioluminescent ostracods (also called - according to wikipedia "blue sand" or "blue tears"), which seem like they could be a super cool addition to a reef system in the second trophic level, but didn't find any suppliers or mention of people aquaculturing them from online searches. Anybody have some experience or know of any suppliers for these?

Thanks,
-Nathan.
 

Wendigoblue

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Good luck with your tanks! They sound awesome! (Just wanted to give you a bump)

They look like bioluminescent bacteria to me and I know that they do sell dried or powdered bioluminescent bacteria (some form of it). I wonder if it ever goes out or if you can buy a live culture. I would love to hear about it with fish, as I'm also not sure as if it's okay for fish.
 
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nschomer

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Thanks echi, just got the primary tank+quarrantine tank+refugium through a leak test, so looking good to get the nitrogen cycle started this weekend.
Ostracods aren't bacteria, they are small crustaceans - and I'm not sure about how the fish I specifically want would react to them, but in their natural environment the fish-ostracod interaction is VERY cool looking - here's a video from the bbc of the "fireworks" they make as a defensive reaction to getting eaten.
 

Wendigoblue

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Thanks echi, just got the primary tank+quarrantine tank+refugium through a leak test, so looking good to get the nitrogen cycle started this weekend.
Ostracods aren't bacteria, they are small crustaceans - and I'm not sure about how the fish I specifically want would react to them, but in their natural environment the fish-ostracod interaction is VERY cool looking - here's a video from the bbc of the "fireworks" they make as a defensive reaction to getting eaten.
Thats a very cool video! I love the fire work reaction!
 

Jsigmo

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Very interesting.

But how does the presenter know that the fish spit them out because of the light? I'm always skeptical when a scientist attributes some behavior of an animal to a particular thing that the animal is allegedly thinking.

Sure, the fish have preditors, and sure, having your mouth light up might attract those predators. But how do we really know that's why the fish spit the ostracods out?

You can see trails and puffs of the luminescence left in the water. So the luminescent chemicals are being expelled out of the ostracod's body. For all we know, the stuff tastes nasty, and the fish spit them out when they taste the stuff.

It would be difficult to design an experiment to test and prove the hypothesis that the fish spit them out due to the luminescence, and even harder to prove that it's because they fear that it will attract bigger predators. It sounds like speculation and anthropomorphism to me.

Perhaps the luminescence serves to warn other ostracods to stay away from that place, because there's a fish there, chowing on an ostracod! Perhaps the luminescence is accidental, and the real truth is simply that the stuff is nasty and triggers a spit-out.
 
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nschomer

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I had sort of the same thought about their "motivations" for spitting out the ostracod, but the reality could be somewhere in between. I doubt very much that there is a cognitive "wow this thing is lighting up in my mouth, if I don't spit it out quickly I'm probably going to be spotted" type reaction - but that reaction could be the result of an evolutionary arms race, where they developed the ability to detect bioluminescent molecules by taste and then spit them out "so that they wouldn't get eaten". Not a conscious decision, but an evolutionary one.
Which is why I'm even more interested to see how that behavior would/would not be replicated in species that didn't co-evolve alongside them.
 

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That seems more likely. The fish that spit out what they're eating when they sense that stuff might well have been selected for over time.

In your setup, either way, you'd get a light show. If they spit them out, that's interesting to see. If they don't, then you might get to see how long the luminescence persists inside of the fish!
 
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nschomer

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That's what I'm thinking, in maybe 5-6 months, when the tank is fully cycled and populated by copepods, (and hopefully I can get my hands on some of these ostracods) gonna try with some Mandarin Dragonettes - already a psychadelic looking fish, I'm wondering what an internal light source(however brief) might do to them
 

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Look up a company called BioPop. I looked into getting some of these but never did. They come with a "tank"(I wouldn't call it a tank, more like a plastic dinosaur filled with water and ostracods). They are pretty cool though. I'm not sure how they would do in an aquarium though.

Edit:Here's the link. It's actually pretty cool!

It's back ordered until February 29th though:/
 
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nschomer

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Thanks for the link, but I've seen these before and they aren't what I'm looking for. The bioluminescence in these dinosaurs is from dinoflagellates (hence why they put them in a dinosaur). The only place I've seen to date selling the ostracods sells a dried powder form of them for science experiments, still haven't found a place to get a hold of the live ones.
 
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