When one of my hermit crabs decided to upgrade his shell, I gave his old home a prime position in the tank front and centre next to the glass. Why did I feel the need to feature an empty shell? Well, this particular shell is home to an abundance of neat hitchhikers.
Aside from the purple coralline algae there are the the bumpy pink blobs, these are a colonial foraminifera called Homotrema rubrum.
These forams feed on tiny particulate matter, bacteria etc that they catch using fine filamentous protoplasmic strands that poke out of the pink shell. Apparently the pink colouration is due to an iron salt that is incorporated into the shell. Pretty cool huh!
Then there are the teeny tiny barnacles. There are at least a dozen scattered over the surface of the shell. I love watching them extend their feather like cirri in and out sifting for food. I fully expected them to starve quite quickly in my tank but they must be finding enough food as they are still doing their thing.
Additionally in the photo above you can just about see a pair of dark/transluscent coloured things (no idea what that is) top left and another pair of whitish siphons just to the right of them, a tunicate or sponge maybe? There are also some small chaetopterid worms and vermetid snails too (they get everywhere). Last but not least a baby sun coral has decided to join the party too.
So much life on one small snail shell and that's not even counting the amphipods and mini brittlestars that are taking shelter inside and underneath it. Too cool!
It's been 15 months since I posted an update on the Oxypora. I kind of forgot about this coral to be honest so I thought I should rectify the oversight asap. It had grown from a small frag to a nice sized coral over the three years since it was introduced despite being overshadowing by other corals. I wanted to transfer it over into the new tank pretty much intact but whilst trying to detach it from the old rocks I discovered why it also goes by the name of porous lettuce coral. The skeleton is rather brittle and breaks extremely easily. After managing to remove it from the rock I ended up with a colony about half the size of the original which wasn't that bad but when trying to fix it on to the new rocks I ended up crushing it a lot more. Then it fell off/got knocked off twice during the following week by snails/hermits. By that time it's was a mess of broken skeleton held together tenuously by thin covering of flesh. I decided the best thing to do was to admit defeat and cut it down into the smallest piece just so it would be easier to glue down, better to keep a small piece rather than lose the coral entirely.
This is how it looked in the old tank on the 4th September 2019 (taken with flash on).
Here's the tiny piece that remained, six weeks following transfer. It's showing signs of recovery but looks a little pale.
Six weeks later...
And here it is today, back on track once more.
A couple of days ago I noticed one of the conches had knocked over the Walking Dendro as it clumsily pushed past it in search of more food. Whilst I find that rather annoying it did allow me to snap a quick photo of the underside of the coral. The perfectly round hole for the peanut worm can easily be seen.
I also took the opportunity to set up my phone to record a video of the base of the coral, hoping to catch the moment the worm popped its head out of the hole in order to right the coral again. I left it alone for 15 minutes and when I checked back sure enough the coral was upright. However on viewing the footage I was gutted to find that it was the pulsing flow from the nanostream pump that had pushed the coral up again. Darn it, foiled again!
This morning when I was cleaning the glass I discovered a strange white blob stuck to the right-hand glass panel. On further examination I realised a lot more of these strange blobs were scattered along the length of the back glass. My first thought was that they were more limpets (because I have plenty of those already) but when viewed from the side these blobs lacked the pointy shape characteristic of limpets. When viewed through a magnifying glass it became clear that they were in fact egg sacs. I hadn't seen this particular type of egg sac in my tank before so they must have been laid by something recently added. Three Nerita sp. snails were introduced on the 23rd October 2020 and a quick search of the internet confirmed that these snails were probably responsible for the eggs. Unfortunately is unlikely that I will see baby snails develop in the future as the larva require sufficient planktonic food for survival. Shame!
In a further attempt to raise my nitrate levels I decided to add a few more fish to the tank. I was watching a video posted on social media by my LFS and spotted that they had some Ghost Cardinalfish (Zoramia leptacantha) in stock. I have rather fancied trying these fish ever since I saw a large group of them in a tank at the Horniman Museum in 2019, whilst they are not really showy, they do have the most incredible blue eyes. I checked that they were still available and the shop kindly allowed me to pay for them over the phone and pick them up outside which was perfect for me.
The recommended minimum number of Cardinals to add to any tank is five so that's what I purchased. On introduction it didn't take long for Sunny the Sunburst Anthias to decide that he did not like these fish at all (there's always someone/something that has to play up whenever I add something new!). One of the new fish became separated from the rest and ended up trapped in the top right hand corner of the tank where it was repeatedly harassed by the Anthias. The rest were chased as well but they had safety in numbers. I kept mentally willing the solitary fish to go and join his brothers and sisters but he just couldn't pluck up the courage to move. After a while, when I could bear it no longer, and I shooed the solitary fish over to the others with a net. Now it was five against one, much better odds. The Anthias continued to chase the group but they just scattered briefly before shoaling together again so no damage was done.
Here they are sticking together on the day of introduction.
They didn't eat anything on the first day and didn't seem keen to eat on the second day either so I tried adding some live copepods. They loved these and that seemed to give them the boost to try frozen food later on and they haven't looked back since. In fact I have since discovered that these fish love to eat, they love to eat a LOT! In fact they are like little piranhas. I use a pipette to target feed some of my fish and they very quickly learnt to associate that with food and crowd around it whenever it enters the water. It's refreshing to have some fish that are not finicky with food but the downside is it's made it trickier to feed some of the more shy fish. I can't really win, lol.
It's been just over a week now since they were added and they don't tend to keep together as much any more. Three of them swim together in front of the big gorgonian, one hangs out above the A. hyacinthus and the last one swims round the back. They all come together however when it's feeding time. They look fantastic under the LED lights, the blue around the eyes really seems to light up and the scales look like they have been dipped in silver. Sunny the Anthias still chases them every now and again especially at feeding time but the Cardinals don't seem to care one bit, they just dart out of the way and resume whatever they were doing two seconds later.
All in all I've been very pleased to add these fish, in hindsight I wish I'd added more than five now. I hope that I have a mix of males and females and they settle enough to start breeding. Fingers crossed.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!