Apologies for the lack of updates. My tank is still running and approaching its third birthday in a couple of months time. There have been a few changes/losses since my last update, I'll post in stages as I have quite a bit to report.
Firstly my lovely Bruun's cleaner shrimp passed away in February after 2 years and 2 months in my tank, she just vanished one day and I am assuming (hoping) that she just died of old age. I think 2+ years is the average lifespan of cleaner shrimp in aquaria and she appeared to be fully grown when introduced. Sadly I never saw her clean any of the fish but neither did she irritate any of the corals as the more commonly available cleaner shrimp are inclined to do.
I really missed having a shrimp roaming around the tank so when I discovered another of the same species for sale (from the same online supplier that I had purchased Crystal from) I did not hesitate. However when my order arrived I was somewhat shocked to discover that the new shrimp was absolutely tiny, less than two centimetres long. I thought well surely that's going to be an expensive snack for a wrasse.
After acclimation I carefully introduced the shrimp into the tank hoping that it would take refuge in the mass of zoanthids. Unfortunately the little guy thought otherwise and ignored the safety of the zoas/rocks by swimming right down to the bottom of the tank and rested on the sand. Luckily as it was so small (and practically see-through) the fish didn't even seem to notice it was there. However all good things must come to an end and the shrimp decided to move on and swam right into the path of the rather large Yellow wrasse who immediately took chase, scaring the life out of me and the shrimp. Luckily it managed to dart out of the way towards the right side of the tank but as I moved round to get a better view I lost sight of it, I did however discover a Pintail wrasse swimming casually away from its last known location. A goner for sure I thought, but no! After lights out I was gobsmacked to discover the plucky little shrimp swimming happily around the tank.
For weeks after that the shrimp would sensibly only come out at night to hunt for food but then after a month I discovered it out and proud on the side of the weir, exactly where the original shrimp used to reside and she (he?) has been there every day since. It must be the best spot in the tank for a Bruun's cleaner shrimp to hang out.
To date Crystal #2 has been with me for 6 months and has grown some but still is quite small, she is now totally ignored by all the fish. I am hopeful that I may discover her cleaning them one day but at this point it seems a tad unlikely.
Firstly, time to update the fish list.
Sadly the Red Spot cardinalfish are no more, thanks in part to the tiny but rather mean Red Spotted goby. There were no more jumpers but the three that remained never really settled no matter how much I tried to feed them. They vanished one by one until there were none left, the last disappearing on the 4th August. I have to say that the tank looks empty without them but I will not be replacing them as I feel they are simply too sensitive for this sized tank especially with its current fishy occupants.
In addition to the loss of the cardinals, one of the Red Spotted gobies also vanished. The smaller of the two and not, I might add, the mean one. Sigh! Perhaps he had got bullied too?
At that point the fish list consisted of Candy the Red Striped goby, Hop & Skip the Nudus gobies (although I hardly ever see them any more), Edna the Possum wrasse, Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse and Rocket the remaining Red Spotted goby. It was time for something new and this time I decided I wanted a bold and above all easy to keep fish. As I'm rather fond of wrasses I'm afraid to say I bent my rule of staying with small fish only. I opted to add a juvenile Yellow wrasse, Halichoeres chrysus. What a ray of sunshine this fish is, certainly not one to blend in with the rockwork.
He was introduced on the 21st August at 4pm and as expected, immediately dived into the sand. He was up and about just after 9am the following morning. After 30 minutes of orientation he began picking tidbits off the rockwork/sand and when it came to feeding time there was no hesitation or fussiness. He ate everything offered without a second thought. Hmm this fish is going to grow fast I think (oh dear, what did I say about never upgrading tanks ever again...).
Ray, as he is now known, is a lovely fish. He's settled into a routine of getting up around 8.30am and going to bed at just before 7pm, he sleeps in the same area of sand every night. During the day he's constantly on the hunt for pods/worms/whatever else takes his fancy and if I approach the tank he comes up to say hello rather than hiding in a cave, now that's a refreshing change! Fortunately, he's not tried to eat Crystal the Bruun's cleaner shrimp yet and I hope he never does (always a risk with these fish). So far the easiest trouble free introduction ever.
As for the corals, growth is steady and colouration improving. I have managed to resist the temptation to add anything new although I do keep looking, lol. I am a little concerned for the Red Tuxedo zoanthids, I fear that they are suffering from the bacterial infection known as zoa pox. If I am correct I know this could spell disaster for my entire zoanthid collection but as they have encrusted onto the rockwork directly I am a bit stuck. To dip them would mean a complete strip down of the right-hand rock pile which is something I'm not prepared to do at this point (or ever if I'm entirely honest). I am simply watching and waiting and hoping it doesn't spread.
I am working on updating all the coral photos and am almost there bar a few.
Everything seems to be ticking along nicely at the moment. The KH dipped a little following the addition of the carbon dioxide filter and I've had to up my dosing rate as a consequence. I'm hoping it means that the corals are happier with the higher pH values and have increased their growth rates. Unfortunately perhaps, also due to the dip in KH (down from approx 7.0 to 6.5), the coralline on the back wall took a bit of a beating. It's not a problem as such but clearly I need to keep a better eye on the alkalinity level.
Swipes the porcelain crab, Petrolisthes galathinus, has settled in nicely and is proving to be a star attraction with the rest of my family (after Lurch the conch, who still remains the absolute favourite inhabitant). She has made her home underneath the left-hand rock pile and spends the majority of her time hanging out with Edna & Kylie (the two wrasses), filtering out small morsels of food from the water.
Ming, the Pom Pom crab (Lybia sp.) has also settled into the left-hand rock pile, in a small hole, way under the ledge. He's still pretty shy and we don't get to see him out in the open very much as of yet, I did manage to capture a sneaky shot of him in his hidey hole using flash today however.
It's pretty time consuming trying to take individual photos of all the corals individually on the same day so there just a small selection below, I'll work on adding the rest later in the week hopefully.
To finish, I just have to share a couple more shots of Crystal the Red Spotted cleaner shrimp, Urocaridella antonbrunnii, because she is the most incredible looking shrimp.
I've just been having a quick play around with the on board flash on my camera in the hope of getting a reasonable shot of Crystal, my Bruun's cleaner shrimp (Urocaridella antonbruunii). She (or he, I have no idea) never stops swaying so taking a picture without flash almost always results in some motion blur. I expected the shots to be rubbish but was actually pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Next time I hope to catch her facing the camera instead of looking away.
Crystal is the best shrimp in the world! OK, I may be biased in that regard but she is a model citizen and has never bothered anything else in the tank. She doesn't try to steal food from the LPS corals or irritate them in any way. I know this can be a problem with certain other ornamental shrimp and I have certainly found that out myself in the past. Ugh, Lysmata amboinensis, never again! Crystal tends to be most active at night when she can be found swimming freely around the tank. During the day she likes to rest under her favourite rocky overhang waiting for the pumps to go off and signalling feeding time.
She really has the most amazing red and white markings and how about those awesome 'wave form' looking spines along her back! I never knew they were there until I saw them in this photograph. Too cool!
A new month and a new FTS. Besides a few new corals not that much has changed really. The Stylophora is showing some nice growth, the Lobophyllia and Acanthastrea look good, the zoanthids are, err, surviving. I think that all the nudibranchs have gone now and the remaining heads are opening up once again, I did lose a few of the orange ones that were on top of the rock, they simply melted away. Too much light/too little light/too much flow/too little flow? Who knows?? To be honest I've never really been that successful with zoas, perhaps the water is too clean? I'm considering feeding some coral foods to see if it helps them at all.
Acro #1 looks the same, it was knocked off the rockwork by a naughty hermit crab and when I stuck it back down it was in a slightly different orientation so it's difficult to tell if there has been any growth or not. Acro #2 has shown a tiny bit of growth and the damaged tips on the lower left-hand branches have regrown. I do think that they have lost a little colour though, another reason to try feeding perhaps, plus the nitrates and phosphates are still undetectable which according to current thinking is not ideal for SPS these days.
Since the Pink Streaked wrasse was added the Nudus gobies and Red Striped goby have moved to the front right of the tank. I get to see a lot more of them now which is really great. The tank has settled down nicely again. I need to relocate the Lobophyllia as Lurch the conch keeps knocking it to the left in his quest to clean the lower rocks. I am also thinking of adding a plating coral to the rock that sits above the pistol shrimp and Whitecap's home (I've seen them again today btw, two days on the trot I think that's a record, lol!) in order to give the entrance to the burrow a bit of shade, I think that will help them to feel more comfortable and hopefully they will become more visible. At the moment the lighting is really too bright for them.
I've been trying to get some shots of the Possum and Pink Streaked wrasse but it's proving difficult as they don't sit still like the gobies do. I will keep trying. Oh and last but not least Crystal the Bruun's cleaner shrimp shed her exoskeleton again last night so she seems fine too.
Day 57: I'm loving the new crusty additions. The Bruun's cleaner shrimp is an amazing little thing, we have named her (no idea of the sex actually!) Crystal as she is pretty much completely see through with just a few spots of colour and her insides visible. She is pretty hard to find unless you are specifically looking for her.
The crinioid squat lobster is all over the tank, in a new location every day. We have named him Stripes, not very original I know. I'm pleased just to be able to admire him, I'm sure in a bigger tank with more rockwork he would be almost impossible to locate once introduced. He has really long chelipeds (the first pair of legs with the claws) they look rather unwieldy to me but I guess they are perfect for him. I wish that I could keep him with a crinoid friend but crinoids are extremely difficult to care for long term due to their filter feeding requirements. Luckily squat lobsters do not need them to thrive in a reef tank environment.
Day 53: Time for some crustacean action! I have a particular fondness for shrimps and crabs and am hoping that with a smaller tank I'll be able to introduce and actually observe some of the more reclusive species. In keeping with the smaller theme I chose a Bruun's cleaner shrimp, Urocaridella antonbruunii and a crinoid squat lobster, Allogalathea elegans. I also introduced a couple of Striped Nassarius snails, Nassarius sp. to scavenge excess food, fish waste and detritus in addition to keeping the sand turned over.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!