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What Does Parenting Look Like in Nature?

Ever wondered what parenthood looks like when it comes to the animal kingdom? From mouthbrooding to live births, parenting takes many different forms depending on the species. Here are a few interesting examples among the animals you might see on your next Aquarium visit:

Box Turtles

Box turtle crawling over substrate at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
Box turtles are an egg-laying animal. After breeding, the female will bury the eggs on shore, leaving them to hatch and fend for themselves. Did you know the temperature of the environment where the eggs are laid determines whether they emerge as male or female?

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Black-Naped Fruit Doves

Black-naped fruit doves sitting in a nest at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
This species splits parenting responsibilities between the male and female, with each bird taking turns looking after the nest while the other forages. That vigilant care is important, as the female often lays just a single egg that needs 18-26 days to incubate.

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Surinam Toads

Surinam toad sitting still underwater at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
Fun fact, Surinam toads are actually frogs despite their misleading name. Their intrigue doesn’t end there—these frogs have a particularly interesting reproduction cycle. After breeding, female Surinam toads embed the eggs on their backs and carry them until they hatch. Instead of tadpoles, offspring emerge as fully metamorphosed little frogs.

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Cichlids

Eartheater cichlid swimming at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Cichlids like this red-striped eartheater are mouthbrooders—this means they carry their offspring in their mouths until they are mature enough for independence. It may look strange to humans, but these fish will let their offspring forage for food before sucking them back up if the parent feels threatened. This close-quarters parenting gives offspring a better chance of survival.

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Stingrays

Stingray giving birth in shallow water.
One of just a few animals that give live births at the Aquarium, stingrays like the one above will carry their young for 11-12 months. Most of the time they give birth to just one pup, who is then left completely independent. While it takes a bit longer for the pups to fully mature, they enter the world with a fully formed barb ready to deter any possible threat.

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SHELL-ebrate the curious moms and dads in your life at Greater Cleveland Aquarium during Mother’s Day Weekend and Father’s Day Weekend.

For more fun, parent-themed animal facts, check out the video below:

These Small Animals Make a Big Impact

While the giant Pacific octopus or sandtiger sharks always make an impression on Greater Cleveland Aquarium guests, many little animals are capable of doing mighty things, often impacting their ecosystems in invaluable ways. Check out few examples of a few smaller species worthy of your appreciation on your next #cleaquarium visit.

Stoplight Parrotfish

Stoplight parrotfish swimming near coral at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
Parrotfish jaws and teeth are uniquely adapted for eating corals. Their strong teeth can crush up the hard coral skeleton and once it passes through the fish’s digestive system it is expelled as sand. It is estimated that parrotfish produce as much as one ton of coral sand per acre of reef in year.

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Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp

Scarlet cleaner shrimp on a rock in the Aquarium touchpool.
Cleaner shrimp set up cleaning stations on top of a rocks or coral, almost like underwater car washes. Once the cleaner shrimp sway side to side to signal they are “open for business,” fish drop in to have their dead cells and parasites removed.

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Cookie Dough Sea Cucumber

Cookie dough sea cucumber curled up against a rock.
Cookie dough sea cucumbers interact with their environment almost like an earthworm in soil, breaking down small particles in the water that contribute to the nutrient cycle.

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Eastern Musk Turtle

Up-close image of an eastern musk turtle standing on a rock.
Found in the Eastern and Central United States, these little turtles are sometimes called stinkpots for the big smell they produce to deter predators.

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Northern Clingfish

Underside of a northern clingfish stuck to the Aquarium acrylic.
The clingfish is unique in its ability to quickly attach and detach from wet, irregular surfaces. Their suction disk can cling so tightly that scientists are trying to create suction cups based on the clingfish’s disk’s functionality.

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Plan a visit to Greater Cleveland Aquarium for a BIG look at SMALL species during Spring Discovery Days.

For more small animal fun facts, check out the playlist below:

How Do These Animals Attract a Mate?

Love is in the air—and underwater—at Greater Cleveland Aquarium. With Valentine’s Day this week, you might be wondering how certain species at the Aquarium attract mates. Read on for a few fun animal courtship facts, from horseshoe crabs to red-bellied piranhas.

Weedy Seadragons

Weedy seadragon male carrying eggs
Weedy seadragons perform an elaborate courtship dance beginning roughly two to four weeks before breeding. This dance often takes place at sunset and involves two seadragons mirroring each other’s movements.

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Solomon Island Leaf Frog

2 Solomon Island leaf frogs together
When they’re ready to mate, male Solomon Island leaf frogs emit a barking sound to attract a female. When their brood is ready, the eggs hatch as fully formed frogs, with no tadpole stage for this species.

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Red-Bellied Piranha

Red-bellied piranha close-up photo
Red-bellied piranhas swim in circles to attract mates. The eggs are then placed in bowl-shaped nests and hatch in just nine to 10 days.

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Red-Eared Slider

Two red-eared slider turtles
These turtles can be a bit forward with their courting rituals—fluttering their claws around the face of potential mates to show interest.

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Horseshoe Crab

Horseshoe crab next to a heart
Horseshoe crab females attract mates by coming ashore and releasing pheromones to signal males. They can then lay up to 100,000 eggs in a brooding season.

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Plan a visit to Greater Cleveland Aquarium to learn more about species and nearly 250 others. We’d love to “sea” you!

For more Valentine’s Day animal fun facts, check out the playlist below:

What’s On These Animals’ Wish Lists?

At Greater Cleveland Aquarium, the holidays are for giving thanks and meaningful gifts. Let’s take a look at a few of the animals who call the Aquarium home, and the presents on their wish lists this year.

Picasso Triggerfish at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Named for its vibrant bands of color, the Picasso triggerfish wishes for a new paint brush set.

Paint Brushes

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Snowflake eel at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Snowflake eels want a tunnel to play and relax in. Tight spaces make them feel at home.

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Archerfish at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Archerfish have impeccable aim when they shoot water as far as 6 feet at prey, knocking them into the water. Let’s get this one a dart board!

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Harlequin Sweetlips at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Known for its plump lips that get more prominent with age, the harlequin sweetlips wants a new shade of lip stick for the holidays.

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Eastern Musk Turtle at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
The eastern musk turtle, known for the smell it produces to deter predators, surely has perfume on its wishlist.

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Blue Runner at Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Maybe not the fastest fish, blue runners still live up to their name with a fresh pair of tennis shoes.

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You can see these animals and more when you visit Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Check out the Aquarium’s See & Do page for a chance to see some of these species and nearly 250 others as you learn about their habitats and how you might support them.

What Are These Animals’ Favorite Meals?

All animals have their favorite foods, just like people do. This Thanksgiving, while humans are filling up on turkey and stuffing, these species want tasty treats like mice, crickets, crayfish and even sea monkeys.

Green Tree Python
Green tree pythons love to eat live mice like they would in the wild.

Greater Cleveland Aquarium Mouse

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Sandbar sharks prefer a hearty helping of squid for dinner.

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Freshwater stingrays like this ocellate river stingray often dine on crayfish.

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Moon jellies make a meal out of teeny tiny brine shrimp.

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This crested wood partridge looks for crickets when it needs a tasty treat.

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You can see these animals and more when you visit Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Check out the Aquarium’s See & Do page for a chance to see some of these species and others dine on their favorite snacks.

What’s In a Name?

How animals earn their monikers can be surprising. Their common names can come from the places they’re found, the people who discovered them or even fictional characters. The names of the ten Aquarium residents below are inspired by their appearance and/or actions.

 

shovelnose sturgeonShovelnose Sturgeon – Check out that shovel-shaped snout.

 

Red-eared slider turtle.Red-eared Slider – This turtle is named for the red patch on its ear AND the way it slides into the water when startled.

 

Clown Knifefish – This fish’s knife-like shape allows it to swim both forwards and backwards.

 

Crystal-eyed Catfish – Frank Sinatra might have been “ol’ blue eyes,” but this catfish gets attention for its light blue peepers.

 

Dyeing Poison Dart Frog – This name comes from an unverified legend that indigenous people used these colorful frogs to dye parrot feathers.

 

picasso triggerfishPicasso Triggerfish – This peculiar-looking fish has bright, artsy colors AND a dorsal spine will raise when startled.

 

Hammer Coral – Note the hammer shape of these coral polyps.

 

Scrawled Cowfish – The “horns” above its eyes and irregular body markings are what give the scrawled cowfish a distinctive appearance.

 

Raccoon Butterflyfish – This butterflyfish is named for the black-and-white “mask” around its eyes.

 

Black Drum – This fish can make drumming or croaking sounds with muscle movement around its swim bladder.

 

See these and other animals with interesting names and backstories at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

-Lili F.

*Hammer Coral Photo Courtesy David Davies, via Flickr.com

5 Things I Learned: Anableps

Quickly swimming at the surface, Anableps anableps can be difficult to spot despite the fact that they swim in schools. Let’s get a closer look at these unique fish.

Nature. It’s a curious thing.

– Megan Brown, Intern

5 Things I Learned: Bushynose Pleco

It might be hard to find a bushynose pleco, but that’s by design! Take a closer look at this bristlenose catfish in the video below.

Nature. It’s a curious thing.

– Hannah

5 Things I Learned: Red Terror Cichlid

This colorful, eye-catching fish is a red terror cichlid (Cichlasoma festae). It can grow to lengths of 12 – 20 inches and live somewhere between 12 – 20 years. But what else do we know about it?

The red terror cichlid in the Aquarium’s Tropical Forest Gallery is hard to miss. Stop by and see this and many other very different but equally intriguing cichlids at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Nature. It’s a curious thing.

– Sam Fryberger