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The VLM is scheduled to re-open the downstairs gallery in about a week after several long months of flood recovery. In the meantime, the aquarium staff has been getting all our exhibits back in shape for public viewing. As of the scheduled date, we will have only one exhibit not ready for prime time – cavefish. The aesthetic rock work was completed yesterday, but its not enough time to cure the concrete work and cycle the tank…but on a positive note there are some new things to see. Like the new sheepshead (below).

 Sheepshead in our piling exhibit
Sheepshead – a species of porgy – are notoriously aggressive and “nippy” towards other fishes, and therefore not an ideal tank mate. However the striped, feather (pictured below), and seaweed blennies in piling are no picnic themselves, so they reach territorial stalemates of sorts.
Feather blennies defend small home territories, such as this whelk shell
One of the downstairs exhibits that was unfortunately damaged, was our jelly exhibit. we previously exhibited sea nettles and prior to that lions mane, but now after the flood we are back to moon jellies. 
Sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha)
Lion’s mane (Cyanea capillata)
Moon jellies are much more passive swimmers than the other two species, and also require planktonic food or foods prepared very small.The other jelly species were hand fed bits of fish and shrimp, but now we will again hatch Artemia nauplii or “brine shrimp” for them to feed on twice daily. We acquired them from a generous swap with National Aquarium in D.C. (thanks to Nick L.) and Baltimore  (Jennie J. and Andrew P.)!
Moon jellies (Aurelia aurita)
We also will be debuting the shrimp exhibit described in the last blog. Previews have been outstanding so far. And in our Mountain Cove, we have retired our large rainbow trout and brook trout in exchange for some smaller trout. Some of our broodstock went out to stud at the hatchery and a few remain here in the non-public portion of the exhibit (hint: they can still be seen from the upper viewing deck). The new trout are excellent eaters – as most trout are – and growing quickly. These hatchery fishes are mixed in with the trout born here last year and this in April. Next spring, some of these fish may be mature enough to start the cycle all over. One of the new rainbows is pictured below on exhibit.

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