Climate Researchers Mess Up Their Fish Tank, Infer Global Food Web Collapse

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Researchers testing the effects of global warming on a 2000 litre fish tank have warned that the world faces a major collapse of coastal fisheries, because some of their fish died.

Climate change could drive coastal food webs to collapse


Ivan Nagelkerken

Professor, Marine Biology, University of Adelaide

Sean Connell

Professor, Ecology, University of Adelaide

Silvan Goldenberg

University of Adelaide

May 1, 2017 6.01am AEST

Coastal marine food webs could be in danger of collapse as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels, according to our new research. The study shows that although species such as algae will receive a boost, the positive effects are likely to be cancelled out by the increased stress to species further up the food chain such as predatory fish.

Test tank

We used a self-contained ecosystem in a 2,000-litre tank to study the effects of warming and ocean acidification on a coastal food web. This approach can give us a good idea of what might happen to genuine coastal food webs, because the tank (called a “mesocosm”) contains natural habitats and a range of species that interact with one another, just as they do in the wild.

Our food web had three levels: primary producers (algae), herbivores (invertebrates), and predators (fish).

The results show that carbon dioxide enrichment can actually boost food webs from the bottom up through increased algal growth. This benefited herbivores because of the higher abundance of food, and in turn boosted the very top of the food web, where fish grew faster.

But while this effect of ocean acidification may be seen as positive for marine ecosystems, it mainly benefits “weedy” species – a definition that can be applied to some species of algae, invertebrates, and even fish.

In contrast, habitat-forming species such as kelp forests and coral reefs are more likely to disappear with rising CO₂ emissions, and with them many associated species that are deprived of their habitats and food.

Detrimental effect

Our results therefore showed that warming had a detrimental overall effect on the coastal food web we studied. Although higher temperatures boosted algal growth, herbivorous populations did not expand. Because herbivore abundances remained similar and elevated temperatures result in a higher metabolic demand, predatory fish consumed more herbivorous prey, resulting in a collapse of these prey populations.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Boosted food web productivity through ocean acidification collapses under warming


Silvan U. Goldenberg,

Ivan Nagelkerken,

Camilo M. Ferreira,

Hadayet Ullah,

Sean D. Connell

First published: 27 April 2017

Future climate is forecast to drive bottom-up (resource driven) and top-down (consumer driven) change to food web dynamics and community structure. Yet, our predictive understanding of these changes is hampered by an over-reliance on simplified laboratory systems centred on single trophic levels. Using a large mesocosm experiment, we reveal how future ocean acidification and warming modify trophic linkages across a three-level food web: that is, primary (algae), secondary (herbivorous invertebrates) and tertiary (predatory fish) producers. Both elevated CO2 and elevated temperature boosted primary production. Under elevated CO2, the enhanced bottom-up forcing propagated through all trophic levels. Elevated temperature, however, negated the benefits of elevated CO2 by stalling secondary production. This imbalance caused secondary producer populations to decline as elevated temperature drove predators to consume their prey more rapidly in the face of higher metabolic demand. Our findings demonstrate how anthropogenic CO2 can function as a resource that boosts productivity throughout food webs, and how warming can reverse this effect by acting as a stressor to trophic interactions. Understanding the shifting balance between the propagation of resource enrichment and its consumption across trophic levels provides a predictive understanding of future dynamics of stability and collapse in food webs and fisheries production.

Read more (paywalled):

Note: the link to the study does not work in some web browsers, I had to view it using Google Chrome

Unfortunately the full study is paywalled, but attempting to infer global consequences of increased CO2 from a toy eco-system in a 2000 litre fish tank is absurd.

On the positive side, the researchers performed an actual experiment, rather than just running a computer model.

But anyone who has ever kept fish knows how difficult it can be to keep a fish tank eco-system stable. Fish in a tank are subject to numerous stresses, even a small mistake with feeding, water contamination or filtering waste can lead to disease and death.

If the researchers had instead studied regions of the ocean with elevated CO2 levels, they would have discovered plenty of places in the ocean where CO2 levels are naturally elevated well beyond anything anthropogenic CO2 will achieve, due to natural outgassing from volcanic sources.

Many of these reefs are ridiculously healthy, despite corals and fish growing in water which is continuously totally saturated with CO2.

The existence of healthy natural reefs with populations of fish growing in regions of the ocean which are full of CO2, strongly suggests whatever killed the fish in that 2000 litre research tank had nothing to do with CO2.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Peter Morris

2,000 liters?!?
Are they kidding? Is that some kind of bad joke? If that’s a mesocosm then my .2 acre backyard is a veritable wilderness refuge.

Tom Halla

Yea, 2000m liters does seem a bit on the small side to make any statements about. Rich amateur class, but most amateurs probably do a better job.


Yes, I could list a fair few differences between a 2000 liter tank and the real coastal world!!!!!!!!!! Just how naive can research “scientists” be????

Patrick MJD

They are based in Adelaide, Australia, y’know that smart state where they all believe coal destroys planets and they all drink evian too.

Samuel C Cogar

Yup, an aquarium size of 2,000 liters (528 gallons) is but a drop of water in a teacup compared to these aquariums, to wit:
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, USA contains 6.3 million US gallons (24,000 m3) of water and several thousand fish. It measures 284 ft × 126 ft (87 m × 38 m) and the depth ranges between 20 and 30 ft (6.1 and 9.1 m),
The S.E.A. Aquarium (South East Asia Aquarium) situated in southern Singapore contains a total of 45,000,000 litres (9,900,000 imp gal; 12,000,000 US gal) of water.
The Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is a theme park situated in Hengqin, Zhuhai, People’s Republic of China. Allegedly the world’s largest aquarium featuring 4 whale sharks, manta rays, corals, and many other species.

Joe Crawford

Hell, I’ve got a 500 gallon (1892.L) cistern sitting next to my carport that we made out of the bottom half of a concrete septic tank. My grandmother use to raise goldfish in tanks bigger than that. I wouldn’t call anything less than maybe 50,000 liters (~13.200 gal) a mesocosm (i.e., medium world) when it comes to studying coral reefs. That would at least give you an area of about 13′ depth by 10′ width by 20′ length. Don’t know how you could call anything less a medium scale system, At least according to several websites, the most prolific reefs occupy depths of 18–27 m (60–90 ft).

2000 liters is 2 IBC containers worth, I have two of them in my back yard with the tops cut off which I use to breed fish. As far as things go, they’re as vulnerable an environment as you can get given anything living in them is totally dependent on the person managing them. Occasionally I have even been known to bubble CO2 through them .. we’re talking about an insignificantly small volume of water that is probably more vulnerable to rapid temperature changes than any effect from CO2 .. oh, I see they didn’t make any claim to be regulating temperature in their press statement, I wonder if they recorded it in their ‘study’ or is that, like the sun, an irrelevance ?

Tom Halla

I am too damn American, and have problems visualizing SI quantities over mL amounts. Mr former brother in law had at least a 1500 liter fish tank, given a while to think of the volume.


And I hate to think what might be lurking in my 2.0 acres

george e. smith

2,000 litres spread on my front yard, wouldn’t even make it wet enough to need to put my galoshes on, and it certainly wouldn’t qualify my yard as a wet land.


“and it certainly wouldn’t qualify my yard as a wet land.”
George, be very careful the EPA doesn’t hear you say that. !!


There’s a joke among Northeast Indiana farmers that you need to make sure your tiles are in working order and have your colverts clear, because if water sits in your field for more then 3 days the EPA will declare it a wetland and seize it.
… though come to think of it, nobody laughs when it’s said. <¿<


There’s a joke among Northeast Indiana farmers that you need to make sure your tiles are in working order and have your colverts clear, because if water sits in your field for more then 3 days the EPA will declare it a wetland and seize it.

No joking matter.
That DID HAPPEN in the north end of San Francisco Bay at the mouth of the Napa River. Farmer lost an ages-old dike after a short flood one spring.
Wet mud, couldn’t fix the dike for a few weeks.
Lost the fight, field, the farm, and his life fighting the authorities just trying to “fix the dike” so crops could grow again.

Mike McMillan

A fish tank may have been too ambitious for the researchers. They should start with an ant farm and work their way up.

J Mac

2000L = 528 gallons US. That’s less water volume than a 10 person hot tub! Researchers at University of Washington and similar will use this ‘bath tub gin’ experiment to claim a cause and effect relationship showing why killer whale populations are down in selected areas of the Pacific.


Yes! I put my killer whale in a 500 gallon aquarium, and it died!

Rick C PE

Yea, not exactly the Sheds Aquarium. For us Americans, 2000 L = 530 gal. Would fit in a 4 x 4 x 4 1/2 foot tank. Hard to imagine a decent representation of a real marine ecosystem in such a small container.

Rick C PE

Shedd – dang autocorrect.


Arthur ‘Two Sheds Aquarium’ Jackson, eh? 🙂


I’ll gladly take the 500 gallon tank off their hands. My goldfish can use some more room.


Just don’t move them to a Hamner-Brown aquarium, PLEASE!

george e. smith

Hey Mates, why don’t you drop on over to see us on Zealandia; we have a fish tank you wouldn’t believe. At times it seems like the whole damn place is one big fish tank.
And it would blow your mind to see just how the predatory fishes that live on Zealandia thrive like there is no tomorrow.
They absolutely love the warm waters in Zealandia.
I think you may have your internal plumbing crossed up there Mates, if you think predatory fish don’t like warmer water.
PS I won’t be there to greet you, since I have ex-patted to the USA.

Patrick MJD

NZ supports dual citizenships with the US. You may still qualify if you want. I will not be giving up my NZ and British citizenships when I become an Australian.


I inject CO2 into my tank to maintain the plants. My fish like healthy plants.

They get what they ask for, delibretly …

2,000litres. That’s smaller than my oil tank!

Mick In The Hills

They could only run a 2,000 ltr tank in Adelaide because the wind-provided electricity there can’t be relied upon to keep the aerator pump going for more than 2 hours at a stretch.

Janice Moore




A cubed fishtank sides 126cms

Ed Fix

Well, mine is, too. If I don’t mow it.


The researchers managed to model the performance of a kelp forest in only 2,000 liters?

They used the “short” variety of kelp – from Antarctica. It didn’t like the higher temps. I lost all my bananas in Manitoba this winter – didn’t like the cold. Another example of total junk science from the blob.


That is 2 cubic meters. a bit bigger than 6 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet.
I bet their jacuzzis are larger.


6x3x3? That’s barely a bathtub.


Wow, 2000 liters. That’s almost–ALMOST–6 % of the size of my backyard swimming pool.

One more example of people who don’t really understand what an ecosystem is elevating themselves to expert status.
You’ll notice most environmental activists live in cities. They have no idea what the real world is, they think everything is going to hell in a hand basket because they never see trees. It’s actually kind of tragic.

BTW, I should mention I’m overly smug on this subject because I’ve spent 40 years living in the wilderness. I actually like cities, but I don’t spend much tie in them. They become more useful the older I get.

That is one thing I noticed years ago. Before a recent study showed there were more than 3 trillion trees in the world I was wondering how many trees there were, my wild guess was there had to be at least a trillion, but I realize that most trees are never seen by people. most people in the developed world live in or near cities. I it is like we are fish. Many fish probably have no idea there is any such thing a dry land. If all the trees you see are from cities or roads you have no idea how many trees there really are, it is easy to see why this limited view would make someone think we are cementing over the world, but it is not anywhere near being true. When I try to explain this too many people they think I’ve gone mad.


they think I’ve gone mad
At some point in the recent past the world became an asylum and there was a sign on the door: “Under New Management – Now Resident Owned and Operated”.

Juan Slayton

Ogden Nash comes to mind:
I doubt if ever I shall see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
In fact, unless some billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

: > )

I have a similar experience Tom, for the past 40 years I’ve lived on an in-holding in CA’s oldest State Park. Trees as far as I can see in every direction, truly beautiful.
But the folks who live in the cities rarely come here. For about 0 years I ran a B&B on the property hoping to introduce more of them and it was very successful but I maybe changed 500 minds on the subject. Millions more are still living with the illusion the urbanized world is the entire universe.
Some I’m sure live there by choice, others because they think they must. I’ve done my best but I’m retired now.
The world isn’t going to hell in a hand basket. It just isn’t happening. It’s all mediated hype and instilled fear. An illusion.

“For about 10 years…”

“Tom Trevor April 30, 2017 at 7:38 pm
That is one thing I noticed years ago. Before a recent study showed there were more than 3 trillion trees in the world I was wondering how many trees there were, my wild guess was there…”

All too frequently in this world where Sesame Street influenced millions of youngsters that counting things is normal and represents our world and universe.
Only the sampling and extrapolations are just as looney as the “University of Adelaide’s” 2,000 bottles of beer in their personal ecological disaster and aquarium mismanagement.
There are many false estimates floating around pretending some perversion of reality; e.g. fanatical estimates for stars or planets in the universe. Better known as the limitations of the human mind meet infinity beyond our conception.
Near where I live are some fields being reclaimed by forest species.
When Bradford pears flower in the spring, these fields are ablaze in pear blossoms. Flowers that adorn trees of every size from two feet to fifty feet plus.
The Bradford pear is one of those abused fruiting trees, that fruit with small numbers of pears roughly a peppercorn in size. Birds can easily clean these trees of fruit in a few hours and then following nature’s course drop pear seeds far and wide to sprout.
Trying to walk through these overgrown fields is nigh impossible. The pear trees easily number in thousands per acre.
Nature never does things halfway. Berry eating birds freely seed Virginia holly, wild cherry, Virginia cedar, American beech trees and whatever else was on the menu.
During the Civil War, War of Northern Aggression or War between the States; several famous battles were fought very nearby.
Both Chancellorsville and the Battle of the Wilderness were fought in similar overgrown tangles of trees. During the Battle of the Wilderness, cannon fire ignited the dry woods with the fire claiming many injured men who were unable to escape the burning wilderness. Burned skeletons were found late into the twentieth century.
I’ve observed similar overgrowth occur in a number of states. It is very much a function of forest growth.
As time moves on, taller trees shade out shorter trees, longer lived trees capture upper forest sunlight as shorter lived softwoods perish.
Still, for many years, the overgrown plots of land are rife with trees. When winter arrives and leaves fall, it becomes obvious that there are just as many cedar trees as pear trees. When the forest reaches sufficient age, slower maturing trees begin blooming marking their own portions of overgrowth.
If researchers sampled these overgrown plots and then extrapolated tree populations, there would be many trillions of trees around the world.
The woods on my property is roughly one hundred to one hundred twenty years into a maturing hard wood stand. Yet, there are still hundreds of trees per acre. My oldest oak trees are hardly through their years of youth; and the beech trees are yet small. I long for American Chestnuts to return and join in the fun.

Try telling them humanity occupies 3% of the planet. Mad doesn’t come close. Did I read somewhere that the whole of humanity could each have a house and a yard in the state of Texas? If that’s the case, I would be a plumber.


I have a question. It’s a bit Zen.
Q. If a climate scientist is in a forest and says something, but there is nobody there to hear him, is he still wrong?
A. A climate scientist is never in a forest. That’s too much like the real world for them.


HotScot – I did the Texas House and yard back-of-the-envelope analysis several years ago. I figured out a modest suburban home, somewhat below median value, with a front and back yard. With Google Maps, I figured out the square yardage. I multiplied that by the population of the world. I compared the square footage needed to give each person this suburban home square footage in Texas with the square footage that might be available in Texas. I subtracted some portion, since, obviously, rivers and other geological areas are not suitable for a home. Yes, we could all fit in Texas, with a modest suburban home including front yard and back yard.
I convinced myself we are not “running out” of land.
I then went on to examine whether we were “running out” of food. Basically, I calculated how many calories per year the entire population would need, if assumed a 2,000 cal/day requirement. I figured out that the U.S. annual corn production would meet 1/3 of those calories. At that point, I felt no need to go further to calculate U.S. wheat, oats, rice, soybean, or Russian wheat, Chinese rice, etc. There is plenty of food.
So, I am in no panic about humans crashing the planet by overpopulation. I do believe we can over-fish and lose species. I do believe water is limited, but that existing desalination technology can solve that problem.

Tom, this is also why city folks will go to crazy lengths to protect one tree. Guess what people, there are plenty more trees.
Here in Alberta, most people live well South of the middle of our province, in the area that is farm land and grass land. Few Albertan’s realize that our Northern half (which is larger than the Southern half) is unending trees. It is so large, it can just be estimated to be infinite.

I did 20 years by the fish market in lower Manhattan . The ignorance of the typical urban dweller about the real world is one of our great modern dangers . They can’t even connect the warmth and light in their apartments to the resources providing it , but by pure dumb numbers inflict their ignorant delusions on vast rural regions .
It is only by the almost incidental wisdom of the USA’s electoral college system that those vast areas were able to elect a practical builder like Trump over the urban dysfunctional like Clinton .

Louis Hooffstetter

Omphaloskepsis one of my favorite sesquipedalian words.


I have googled both words…:)


How in the name of all that is holy did oceanic food webs survive the entire Mesozoic Era and the Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene Epochs of the Cenozoic Era, all warmer, some by a lot, than now?
Or most of the Paleozoic Era, also hotter?
Most of the Phanerozoic Eon, ie the past 541 million years, have enjoyed much hotter climate than now, with naturally much higher CO2 levels. The plants and their photosynthesizing ancestors were happier campers then.

george e. smith

Well L.C.Smith seems quite happy to stay unemstincticated with all this warm acidic ocean water around. They are not even supposed to communicate with human beings since we left them of the list of important sea critters.

“How in the name of all that is holy did oceanic food webs survive the entire Mesozoic Era and the Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene Epochs of the Cenozoic Era”
Because they weren’t in a fish tank.


I would compare this to the Biosphere 2 near Tucson, AZ. Neither is a real environment.


That was my thought. It was very similar to the fish tank experiment. It was a self-contained environment designed to see if humans could sustain themselves on Mars.

Additionally, it served to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with five areas based on biomes, and an agricultural area and human living and working space to study the interactions between humans, farming, and technology with the rest of nature.

It didn’t go well because of a whole bunch of unanticipated problems like the morning glories taking over the rain forest. link As far as I can tell, nobody has yet succeeded in creating a completely self-sustaining self-contained self-regulating ecosystem. The more recent mars habitat analogs build in ‘supply missions’.


As I recall, wasn’t there a bit of fraud involved with Biosphere 2 project, something about food and supplies being surreptitiously inserted into the biosphere by outside scientific monitors to ensure the participants didn’t starve.


Rhee May 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm
… wasn’t there a bit of fraud …

They say they’re innocent. link 🙂


“Nobody”? I thought that was where we resided.


Barryjo May 1, 2017 at 6:31 pm
“Nobody”? I thought that was where we resided.

No humans have succeeded in duplicating that on a small scale.


I briefly skimmed the paper, was thinking about a clever reply, but I cannot come up with a better description than the title of this post. Good job Eric.


From the paper I think they had 12 X 1,800l tanks, simulating 3 different scenarios, run at 900ppm CO2 and +2.8C above ambient, claiming those are the predicted numbers for the end of the century.
Still doesn’t make it realistic, though.

That’s a big tank for a home enthusiast and a tiny tank for anything serious.

David H. Dodds

As soon as I saw the term “ocean acidification” I tuned out.

Janice Moore

Latitude, et al. hit this bogus spitball of a junk science claim out of the park when a particularly vile little troll calling itself “Julienne” kept up a steady spew of grossly inaccurate claims:
Latitude: “… aquariums in the house are a decent example of why the ocean acidification does not work…. It’s common for CO2 levels in a closed house to be 1,000 ppm or higher. Aquarists maintain pH by simply adding buffer…. The oceans will not become more acidic unless they run out of buffer…. and as long as carbon dioxide is converted to calcium carbonate that won’t happen.”
( )
Latitude: “… Julienne, are you aware that CO2 is nothing more than an acid, and that there are much stronger acid releases in the ocean…….that do not lower pH? As far as acids in the ocean……CO2 is a non-player.”
( )
{continued below}

Janice Moore

Latitude: “Julienne Stroeve says, March 8, 2012 at 8:19 am: Latitude, there are many studies out there that contradict what you say above, including the recent Science paper. Do you have evidence to show that atmospheric CO2 does not impact ocean pH? — Chemistry is easy………..biochemistry is hard. First, show all those clean surfaces where pure chemical reactions take place……can’t be done, it’s a biological process. CO2 can only lower pH in the lab, where you continue to inject CO2 until you deplete all of the buffers. Buffers are replenished in the ocean by bacterial processes in the sediment. The boundary layer between the aerobic and anaerobic…the oxic. As you increase CO2 levels in the real world, the oxic migrates closer to the surface making the process faster. Biological processes produce such a huge amount of acids… makes the whole CO2 acidification look stupid and

silly….which it is. Bacteria alone produce so much acid and CO2…that it dwarfs anything CO2 could do…..”
( )
Pat Moffitt: “Many of the loosely defined ‘harmful algal bloom’ cells were too small for the counting methods routinely used prior to the late 80s. An increase in harmful blooms can be the result of changes in salinity, temperature, silica, grazing pressure, flushing times, allelopathy, tidal range, nutrient ratios, wind, mixing, light, state changes, end point bias …”
( )
{continued below}

Janice Moore

Stark Dickflüssig: “Julienne Stroeve says, March 8, 2012 at 8:39 am: Latitude, so you are saying that all the published studies on how atmospheric CO2 changes the pH of the Ocean are wrong? — … there are no papers that show this. Yes, there are many papers that purport to show that CO2 may cause a decrease in ocean pH, but absolutely nothing to demonstrate clear causation in the pH of the actual, physical oceans of the Earth.
Unless you, Julienne, know of some paper that states such unequivocally, I would suggest you retract your baldly unscientific statement that ‘atmospheric CO2 changes the pH of the Ocean’.
( )
E.M.Smith: “… the proposed bad consequence of oceans [being] ‘less alkaline’ is the inability of shell fish to make shells. [However,] the distribution of freshwater clams into areas with surface water pH in the very acid 4.x range kind of says that’s not a problem: Also, there are many megatons of carbonate on the ocean bottom ( ‘fish gut rocks’ along with diatoms, et al.) that will buffer the pH such that it can’t change much at all. Oh, and don’t forget the megatons of METAL NODULES, a.k.a. manganese nodules, that have precipitated out on the ocean bottom. They, too, are going to prevent acid conditions from forming…”
( )
{continued below}

Janice Moore

John West: “In addition to above……. To go from 8.3 to 7.0 pH using H+ concentration as apparently used by the [self-snip], it’d take a 1900% increase. So, a 26% increase even rounded to 30% isn’t much. It’s crazy to use %’s with pH — if any of my chemists tried that …”
( )
Latitude: “Julienne Stroeve says, March 8, 2012 at 9:53 am: Latitude and others, Scripps has been investigating the impacts of dissolved CO2 and pH both in the laboratory and in the oceans. — Who was it that said something about keeping up?
Scripps blockbuster: Ocean acidification happens all the time — naturally:
Until recently we had very little data about real time changes in ocean pH around the world. Finally, autonomous sensors placed in a variety of ecosystems “from tropical to polar, open-ocean to coastal, kelp forest to coral reef” give us the information we needed.
It turns out that far from being a stable pH, spots all over the world are constantly changing. One spot in the ocean varied by an astonishing 1.4 pH units regularly. All our human emissions are projected by models to change the world’s oceans by about 0.3 pH units over the next 90 years, and that’s referred to as “catastrophic”, yet we now know that fish and some calcifying critters adapt naturally to changes far larger than that every year, sometimes in just a month, and in extreme cases, in just a day.”
( )
{continued below}

Janice Moore

Smokey: “Julienne Stroeve says, What I have been asking you to back up is your assertion that atmospheric CO2 is not important in terms of ocean pH levels. — … Atmospheric CO2 levels, being less than one four hundred-thousanths of the CO2 contained in the oceans, are not important. To assume atmospheric pH is important to oceans is to assume the tail wags the dog. More accurately: that the flea’s wagging tail wags the dog’s tail that wags the dog.
To help Julienne get up to speed on the subject, here are some articles that deconstruct the “ocean acidification” nonsense:
{4 great links debunking ocean acidification junk science}
Ocean pH varies far more than the calibration tolerances of the recording instruments, therefore the claim that there has been a change of 0.1 pH cannot be supported. Like most of the alarmist claims, ‘ocean acidification’ is a baseless assumption. …”
{continued below}

Janice Moore

Jimbo: “Julienne Stroeve says, March 8, 2012 at 9:53 am: Latitude and others, Scripps has been investigating the impacts of dissolved CO2 and pH … They have a laboratory apparatus that enables studies on the effects of varying CO2 and oxygen levels on marine organisms in a controlled setting. — The Oceans are not a lab. …”
( )
Gail Combs: “Julienne Stroeve, you will not get anywhere here on WUWT, because most of us have scientific training of some sort, so the newest scare scenario just isn’t going to fly. … In short, this is why you are being ignored: Chemical Laws for Distribution of CO2 in Nature: …”
( )
{continued below}

Janice Moore

David A: “Oh Julienne, I forgot the link to my post. While visiting, you may wish to read these also. All of [them] debunk the disaster meme of CAGW and ocean acidification. …
{6 articles linked in comment}
( )

Janice, I believe you’ve just become the WUWT historian of record. I more or less expected that to happen after you finished your last project and now we have clear evidence. 🙂

Janice Moore

Well, Mr. Bartleby, I can’t claim to have done any additional research — I just used that handy dandy little anthology (I just used Ctrl – F and entered “acidification”).
The hard part was breaking up my comment into parts — aaaarrrgh!! I STILL had one part go into the spam bin — no “your comment is awaiting moderation,” just **POOOOOF!!** (ha, ha! smirks WordPress) gone.
Thank you for your vote of confidence AND for the chance to vent. Huff …. puff….. huff…. puff….. Frown.
#(:)) (smiling at you, though)


Thanks Janice.


2000 litres is 528.34 gallons, hardly an ecosystem and sure as hell not even big enough to be a pond. If they went to one of those big public aquaria that contain all sorts of fish, the occasional shark, maybe even a crab or two, and took measurements there twice a day, i might listen, but then their experiment would fail badly because they wouldn’t be allowed to alter the pH of the water to suit themselves.
Sorry, but this isn’t science. It is twaddle.

528.34 gallons is about 28.34 gallons larger than my hot tub.
My swimming pool, which is saltwater, is 30,000 gallons and it’s not excessive, just a regular octagonal pool that happens to be deep enough for me to teach open water diving candidates in. I would hesitate to describe it as an “ecosystem”, though it does occasionally grow algae imported on our equipment from the Monterey Bay.

Sheesh. Octagonal? How did I do that?
The pool is a very conservative rectangular shape. The house is octagonal. I had no idea my fingers and brain have been working against me like that…

Chad Irby

They used six species, and only ran the test for three and a half months.
They boosted the temperature by 2.7C for the “hot” tanks. According to their appendix,
“The physical condition of the predators, based on Fulton’s condition factor (Bolger & Connolly, 1989), remained unaltered by future climates (ANOVAs: df(1,8), p > 0.7 for OA, T and OA×T). The only 5 fish that died, out of the total of 84 individuals, were distributed among the mesocosms with elevated temperature.”
In other words, the fish were fine and healthy, and they don’t know why they died… but anyone who ever kept tropical fish wouldn’t bat an eye. It could be anything. For one thing, they “tested” the temperature adaptation that they expect to happen over the next 80 years or so in 14 weeks, and didn’t allow for reproduction.
There were some interesting effects, too. For example, herbivore production in these heavily-controlled tanks varied by a factor of four (about 0.4 grams per month to about 1.6 grams per month) in the high CO2 + high temp tanks. They also had a threefold variation in predator weight gain in the high-temp only tanks.
Here’s the kicker: According to their numbers, six of the nine non-control tanks had equal or better production among predators and herbivores than the control tanks, and only three had lower outcomes. Considering that two of the three “bad” results fell outside of their 95% confidence interval, I’d start looking at what they screwed up in their tank management in the high CO2 + temp environments…

george e. smith

Hoe many Great Hammerhead sharks were among those predatory species ??

Not Chicken Little

I’ve got a 2500 gallon fish pond, almost 5 times bigger than these pikers, and I’ve kept all my fish alive. In fact my fish and plants are all loving the extra CO2 (so says MY research) and multiplying like crazy, so I’m sure my results show that their results are just from incompetence…the first rule of fish ponds is keep your fish and plants alive…

Curious George

Adelaide? They are still suffering from blackouts.


I had a cousin who suffered from blackouts.
We finally convinced him to stop doing drugs.


Modern [political/social] scientists are prone to exaggerate to absurd extremes in both time and space, forward and reverse. The limited frame of reference traditionally recognized by science and promoted by the scientific method is, apparently, an inconvenient, restrictive truth.

Michael Jankowski

Well at least they didn’t just use a computer model.

John Smith

I can get more than 2000 litres of water in my hot tub and the ecosystem in there is alive and well


This taps into a big puzzle.
In high school, in my oceanography class, we took a trip to the shore and captured samples of sea live we could catch with some nets we set on the floor, bayside, for a while.
We hauled in our catch, then dumped the catch into a waiting salt water tank – there were 3-4 students per tank.
In the end, the very tiny crabs grew, and captured and ate everything else – which I guess was shrimp and fish and I don’t recall what else. Really, kind of sad and morbid.
This always reminds me of playing Chess, or Risk, or Monopoly: at first, there is something of a balance of powers, but eventually one trend overrules the rest. So, it seems that in competitive environments, some species will dominate, but in that domination seal its own fate. The crab died once all food source was gone.
Frankly, for those who have faith in the theory of evolution, you have to deal with this phenomenon: one party gaining enough advantage to run rough-shod over others. This would produce a status quo quite unlike what we see out there in the real world. Sure, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there, but the only monocultures we see are man-made, and those suffer from various inevitable problems.
In nature, we see many species amazingly integrated and sustained over vast stretches of time without nose-diving it all, as did this aquarium, and as did my high school aquarium. Sure, species go extinct, but we still live in a world where any biome we might stumble upon has an amazing array of community members somehow carrying on in very complex arrangements. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I just have not heard any defense of this long-term sustained complexity in the defense of evolution. So, I am skeptical of the simple, limited claims of evolution.

george e. smith

I think you must have changed the ecosystem you were studying, which led to it all going pear shaped. How would you like to be that aquarium, that had this benign little octopus in a big tank along with a whole bunch of quite big sharks.
The sharks started getting disappeared; like overnight. How does a big shark get emvanished with no water spilled out of the tank.
A late night video-camera discovered the secret. Little cute octopus ran them down and killed them and ate them one after another. Now I knew that a six foot octopus could squeeze itself through a hole the size of a shilling; and actually watched one do exactly that to remove itself from the boat that caught it in a net.
But who knew they can do the same trick inside out, and surround themselves about an eight foot shark. That is some nasty preditation if you ask me. On second thoughts; don’t ask; I just can’t bear the thought of how big a something they might be able to eat.


No, I heard it was a 2,000,000 ml oceanic simulator.

Janice Moore


warming had a detrimental overall effect on the coastal food web we studied.

Didn’t get the memo OBVIOUSLY.
Here ya go, Nagelkerken, Connell, and Goldenberg:

Dems B. Dcvrs

Now, now. Its not fair to use Facts against AGW F.U.D.


A microcosm of a mess.


This is a hell of a good reason why such people should NEVER be put in charge of ANY ecosystem…. especially the Earth.

Janice Moore

There is more data represented by this simulated aquarium than by that tank in the study:
“Finding Nemo” — aquarium in dentist’s office



This is a 2700 litre tank …comment image

Dems B. Dcvrs

Disney’s Living Sea (tank) holds 21,576,847 Liters.
For perspective, Great Lakes hold 22,712,470,704,000,000 Liters.
Test tank held 2,000 Liters.
Need one say more about how unrealistic the test was.

Of course, these are Orstrayleyah’s sceancists, from the same University that sacked Murray Salby because he ‘knew too much’.


Perhaps we should study my 1,500 gallon septic tank? I know something NATURAL is going on there!

1,500 gallons? Piker 🙂
My local planning board made me put in a 3,000 gallon septic tank. They decided my house had 10 bedrooms and of course they got away with it.
I’ll be happy to talk septic tanks. I think I have the largest septic tank in the county.

Tom in Florida

What size is the drain field?


You’ll be amazed at the similarities … a lot of technology for marine coral and fish tanks is adapted from sewerage treatment!


I run an Aquaponics system based around a 1000L tank. If their fish started eating more it’s a pretty good bet the Ammonia and Nitrite levels increased markedly.
In an AP system this is dealt with by bacteria and plants. In a closed lab system you’d need constant monitoring and adjustments to keep the levels where the fish can tolerate them.
Somehow I can’t imagine priests of AGW actually opting for a ‘dirty’ natural system like AP. 😀


Oh… when I say ‘based around’ there is also a 1000L sump tank and 2 x 250L growbeds with media and plants.


Freshie or salt? Marine is a little different.

“I run an Aquaponics system based around a 1000L tank. If their fish started eating more it’s a pretty good bet the Ammonia and Nitrite levels increased markedly.”
Yes, that’s a great point. More food = more growth = more excrement. If you can’t deal with the extra excrement… boom. The sea volume is huge, not nearly as touchy, and natural solutions will tend to come into play… more growth of things that use those things themselves.

george e. smith

Yeah you have to excommunicate the excrement.
Funny thing is the ITER project has the same shitty problem.

Mike Flynn

Obviously, use warm water and plenty of CO2 plant food if you want algae to thrive. A small tank helps.
I don’t believe anyone has managed to grow commercial algae crops in the open sea. Nature doesn’t seem to want to co-operate.
Maybe that’s the reason the icthyosaurs became extinct – and a fine thing it was, if you were icthyosaur prey. Wouldn’t it be fun, if the climate change funding machinery ground to a halt! Would anyone care if climatologists became as irrelevant as phrenologists?

Mike asks: “I don’t believe anyone has managed to grow commercial algae crops in the open sea.”
Check U.S. Aquaculture, now the “Monterey Abalone Company”. They were public a few years ago and I think it’s the same company. I almost bought in as a founder in 1998.
Anyway, they grow kelp and abalone. They’ve been a going concern for quite awhile but their market seems to be Asia so they don’t get much US press.

Chad Irby

Well, they grow abalone.
They harvest naturally-occurring kelp. That’s not the same as growing it as a crop.

george e. smith

Well NZ green shelled muscles grow in the open Ocean; well in Cook Straight anyway.
But they are not supposed to be algae, but the ones I had for lunch yesterday, did have some sort of vegetation growing on the shells.

george e. smith

Well L.C. Smith did not become extinct, and it lives in oceans that are quite warm with plenty of CO2.


You guys laugh, but for a week or so in the 1960s Ehrlich forgot to feed his bunny and Stanford still hasn’t recovered.


Speaking of Ehrlichs and bunnies:
The 20th century American Paul Ehrlich was a prof of mine at Stanford, 1969-72. Even then, students laughed at him as a Marxist prophet of doom.

Steve Lohr

“We used a self-contained ecosystem” STOP!……..Stop….stop…stop, right there. What the flippin’ heck is a self contained ecosystem but an imaginary, sophomoric, fantasy concocted by a poorly trained student. Captured marine animals in a glass box is the equivalent of putting a mouse in a bell jar and watching it smother and claiming insight into the natural world. It is an insight only in that applying unnatural conditions generate unnatural results. Aquariums screw up all the time simply because they are, well, unnatural. Bizarre!


A much more likely explanation for the UME’s and food chain collapse in the Pacific


The link will take you to a junk radiation site. I don’t recommend clicking on it. As a Health Physicist, I had a good laugh at the site – in between sobbing knowing that there are people that believe this garbage.


i see, so someone who profits from radiation encourages people not to look at clear scientific information.


I love it how you declare that anyone who knows what they are talking about you are being paid to disagree with you.
Then again, it’s not like you’ve ever come up with a valid argument or actual facts.
That just isn’t your style.
Instead it’s screaming that radiation is going to kill us all. Even when the increase is so small that it’s only measurable on the most sensitive of instruments.
That granite pen holder on your desk is giving you more radiation than Fukushima is.


There is no food chain collapse in the Pacific.
And no the whales are not dying off.


You again? At least Monty Python could have the option for an actual argument, and not simply a vacuous contradiction.


Some things are so incredibly stupid that they are self refuting.
For a good example, check out the nearest mirror.
There is no poisonous ocean and the whales are not dying.
Why don’t you peddle your p@ranoid lies somewhere, where the inhabitants are as stupid as you are.
Perhaps you can find some acolytes there.


The oceans are being decimated, and we get “MarkW” what a tool

Your alarmism is a kind of bizarre necrophilia. Looking at life you see only death. The humpbacks need no help – you do.


Wow, you really do revel in propaganda don’t you.
Not a factual statement in any of the links provided, just breathless p@ranoia disguised as brainless propaganda.
You really are convinced that radiation is going to kill us all, yet you know nothing about it.
The fact is that the world is awash in radiation, always has been, always will be.
You will get hundreds of times a greater increase in radiation moving from Miami to Denver than you would get by moving to Fukushima.
There was no massive release of radiation from Fukushima.


stock, I know that you are so scared that you can’t read straight, but your whale death site talks about a small increase in whale deaths in the ATLANTIC.
Even someone as ignorant as yourself can’t blame that on Fukushima.


Ohhhh, 14 whales in 2 years.
From what you had claimed earlier, I thought the Pacific was supposed to be devoid of whales by now?
Heck, Japan harvests several times that number every year.
Even the NOAA doesn’t declare what the cause is, yet you are 100% convinced that it is caused by radiation.
Sheesh, why don’t you just check yourself into the nearest day care center. The nice ladies that work there will give you milk and cookies and put you down for your afternoon nap.


PT, I guess you understood the story when the Pedophilia gate was gaining traction, and then the Pope came out with “focusing on bad news, even if true, was like eating shit”.
What is tells me is that when the true sociopaths/pedophiles at the top (likely to include the Pope) are about to be fully exposed….they bring out the top gun to sway the true believers to shut there eyes and minds. Even if its true.
So it was interesting that you picked up on the “eating shit” meme. Pope is also promoting a huge wealth transfer via fighting carbon. He is captured, they probably got him on video with some boys.

That’s it, better out than in, stock. You’ll feel better if you confess it all. You’re in safe company here.


Notice how the troll tries to change the subject when it knows that it has lost.
Instead of actually defending its nonsense, it declares that anyone who disagrees with it is like those who ignored the charges of pedophilia that were leveled at the Catholic church.
Just admit that you were wrong and quit embarrassing yourself.


MarkW focuses on one article on the Atlantic, 42 whale deaths, declared a UME by NOAA and then he presents it as 14 whales, and then pretends it was the only evidence submitted.
A simple google search will clear up the massive whale deaths in the Pacific and now for some reason the Atlantic.
BTW I participated in the NOAA whale counts in Hawaii. I am not blowing smoke.

Gary Pearse

Two cubic metre tank would fit ~ under a pingpong table. Not adequate spatial access for fish. You can’t uniformly heat a habitat and get any indication of problems in the wild. In the ocean, the fish could seek different depths to cooler water, breezes push currents and cool areas, clouds… One main failure would arise by not providing adequate non organic resources. CaO is a major oxide in ubiquitous basaltic ocean basin formations. It’s solubility is comparatively low but rises with pH and is everywhere in sufficient abundance for invertebrates (contrary to alarmatrophic literature). This adds another buffer reaction along with the well known carbonic acid/carbonate resistance to pH change. The heating would also evolve CO2 from the water
WUWT had an exellent article written by an ocean ecology researcher who stated that nearly all lab experiments done on ocean habitat are worthless. He gave a list of requirements for proper testing protocols.
I’m only a geologist/mining engineer, metallurgist but this has earmarks of failure for a layman critic. First, to their obvious surprise they carbonated and heated the water and got great response from algae and invertebrate algal eaters, but the fish went gangbusters and ate up too much of the invertebrates and some of them died. This is a great positive result in an experiment most likely to fail because of scale, suitability, ratios of resources and the physical modelling problem. The reason you don’t make a model airplane with metal is you are stuck with air as the medium it has to fly in and slower speeds – it can’t be scaled. You have to alter the materials to make up for this shortcoming. Similarly, you can’t scale the fish down to fit. They probably axed the unexpectedly good result by bogging CO2 and heat at rates and levels the creatures couldnt handle in a little box. This may have been an execution of the poor little fellas.


It’s curious that the articles cited in the post indicated that increased CO2 concentrations were a net positive, but that this was more than canceled by the detrimental effects of warming. But I couldn’t find anything indicating how high they had to increase the temperature to get those negative effects. Given that the IPCC projected surface air temperature rise is between 1.5-4.5C, and that both the thermal capacity and density of seawater is so much higher than air, I find it hard to believe that they could have generated measurable effects with the kinds of realistically small ocean temperature increases that we would see over the next 500 years even if all the IPCC fantasies of warming came true,


That wasn’t quite what happened. Apparently, they had better results if they increased CO2, and they also had better results if they increased temperatures. It was only when they increased CO2 AND temperature that they had problems – and the result there was so wide-ranging that it was probably something else in the tank that injured the fish.

Dean - NSW

The real cause of the fish deaths was probably the blackout stopping the filters…..


Exactly … oxygen depletion in a hurry + spike in hydrogen sulphide overdose.


One small coment: There are no weeds or weed species in nature. Weed ( the no non-smoking kind ) is a human concept and nature couldn’t care less about what grows and what doesn’t.


True. A weed is a plant out of place, as determined by humans.


There are “weedy” species though, that are adapted to quickly exploiting disturbed habitats, e. g. after fires or earthslides. They typically breed fast and have short life-cycles. Such species are preadapted to succesfully colonize e. g. your driveway or rose-garden, so they get labelled as “weeds”.

In addition to all of the other problems with this experiment is the fact that it was carried out in a very short time span, which immediately invalidates its claims about environmental events and processes that take decades to occur and, among other things, thereby ignores any evolutionary responses of fish species to increases in CO2. The experiment therefore has managed to violate both time and space.


You could not make this stuff up.
It could only happen in South Australia, failed Albania-type state of the south!

So their experiment was a total failure in that they found the obvious, CO2 is beneficial and “acidification’ is merely an easing of a mildly alkaline environment and really has no effect on sea life as long as it is even marginally such. Basically known for 150 years.


This is beyond belief. For a study of an oceanic ecosystem, 2000L isn’t significantly different from 20 gallons. Truly, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Where is PETA? Where is SINA?

george e. smith

Well down in Zealandia we really know about fish tanks and life sized echosystems. Our Aussie Mates are welcome to come on by and try there experiment again over here.


To successfully simulate an ecosystem it is very important to have a number of top predators in it. Somehow I can’t see a viable shark population living in a 2,000 litre tank.
Another complication is that many organisms are mobile, if density of a species becomes too high in a specific locality, some of them routinely move away. Not easy to do in a tank.
Also small population are very vulnerable to extinction through purely stochastic variations. As a matter of fact I would expect a 2000 liter “marine ecosystem” to collapse in short order.
There are (fairly) stable ecosystems even in very small ponds, but they most certainly don’t include multiple trophic level fish populations.


2000 liters can be held in a 4 foot 1 inch cube.
Its an effing hot tub, for gods sake.

george e. smith

Hey a Helgramite is a good enough replica of a shark for a 2,000 liter tank. Good thing they don’t grow to six feet or even two meters.

elevated temperatures result in a higher metabolic demand,
elevated temperatures allow higher metabolic performance
predatory fish consum more herbivorous prey, resulting in / a collapse of these prey populations./ –> higher numbers of populations of all kind:
other this studies are failed due to Systematik errors.


“Many of these reefs are ridiculously healthy, despite corals and fish growing in water which is continuously totally saturated with CO2.”
Aye, that be true! My 2,000L coral display tank runs with pH at 7.8 – 8.1… CO2 is high constantly despite +A1 fresh air circulation and climate control air-conditioning. The magic triangle for a reef display is water movement | water chemistry | water quality … the answer lies inside the triangle!
There’s one thing I know about flunky academics such as these, they have no experience in sustaining the ecosystems they talk of for long periods of time … how can they otherwise possibly know anything? If they did, I’d have heard about them in Australia.

Who’s done the gold fish in the bowl? What’s next? Who ate my homework?


Maybe they should try removing CO2 from the water and see what happens…


I would be more interested to know what is the minimum size area that marine species can live without needing outside help.
Whatever that was then i would then try to create that as a testing area.
The fact is you cannot create hurricanes that replenish coral reefs by churning the seabed and all the other myriad ways nature works in the sea.
The marine life in the experiment were severely stressed from the start. Probably on a death spiral when they hit the 2000 litre tank.


a little more than 400 gallons….go take a look at some lobster or fish tanks in a retail food store, thats the scale of these guys’ ecosystem….


These are scientists. They had twenty 2000L tanks and 20 control tanks. Not only that, they repeated the tests at 20 different CO2 concentrations. One of their fellow Climate Scare troughers Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has participated in a significant well constructed experiment in vivo, utilizing coral atolls. This study ENCORE found high levels of nutrients did not kill the reef. What to do with these results when scientist are being funded to kick farmers?
So best to do one tank, make a statement and not have the difficulty of having to bury an inconvenient result with any claim of significance.

george e. smith

Hey it’s a scale model; just like the real thing pretty much.


How about studying the devastation that’s likely to affect the reef and fish etc. as a result of the creeping tide of poisonous ocean heading our way from nuclear plant that blew up in Japan in 2011. It’s already killing everything in its path. Maybe it’s less alarmist and convenient to attribute destruction of the reef to climate change. That way it also keeps researchers funded to do dumb and irrevalent studies thereby allowing the rest us to remain in blissful ignorance as to other reasons for why the reef and fish may be dying?
[??? .mod]


You really need to calm down and get a grip.
First off, traces of radiation from Fukushima reached the west coast of N. America years ago. If there was a creeping tide of poisonous ocean, it would have reached here long ago.
Beyond that, there is not and never was a creeping tide of posisonous ocean.
There is no die off of fish or reef.


Moderator, are CB and stock the same guy, they both seem to push the same way, way, way off the wall garbage about radiation.


Oh, god. I just realised that this “research” was done at the University of Adelaide. I’m going to have to send my degree back.


Aus budgets coming up, tonight i think?
and UNI funding is being cut i gather
reading dross like this..I am bloody glad they ARE planning to cut wasting taxpapyers money.
weird with majority high fee paying O/S students in almost every aussie uni nowdays(spot the aussie) how they keep grabbing ever more govvy grants n handouts?
education might be costing more..but the results of that costly ed seems to be pretty poor to “what a waste of time” you shoulda been a brickie end results;-)
big fish ate the lil fishies , golly gosh it was the co2 dunnit..
ffs! fail em all

The Original Mike M

CO2 improved olfactory sensitivity of all species, (favoring predators because prey had nowhere to hide).

george e. smith

Where is hide in a 2000 liter tank. I would suggest that the pray fish’s hide is in jeopardy.
[Those who get eaten always pray. .mod]


An atheist swimming in the ocean, when he see’s a shark in the water, so he starts swimming towards his boat. As he looks back he sees the shark turn and head towards him. His boat is a ways off and he starts swimming like crazy. He’s scared to death, and as he turns to see the jaws of the great white beast open revealing its teeth in a horrific splendor, the atheist screams, “Oh God! Save me!”
In an instant time is frozen and a bright light shines down from above. The man is motionless in the water when he hears the voice of God say, “You are an atheist. Why do you call upon me when you do not believe in me?”
Aghast with confusion and knowing he can’t lie the man replies, “Well, that’s true I don’t believe in YOU, but how about the shark? Can you make the shark believe in you?”
The Lord replies, “As you wish,” and the light is retracted back into the heavens and the man could feel the water begin to move once again. As the atheist looks back he can see the jaws of the shark start to close down on him, when all of sudden the shark stops and pulls back.
Shocked, the man looks at the shark as the huge beast closes its eyes, bows its head and says, “Thank you Lord for this food for which I am about to receive…”