It's been 2.5 months since I introduced the Ghost Cardinals and I am so glad that I did. They are all round lovely fish. Totally peaceful towards each other and the rest of the livestock, shoal together most of the time and eat frozen food with enthusiasm. They are also really, really pretty fish, my photos don't do them justice at all. The icing on the cake for me however, is that they've now started spawning.
On the 4th December 2020 I noticed that one of the cardinals had stopped feeding, his jaw looked distended and a different shape to the remaining four fish. I hoped that this was an indication that he was carrying eggs rather than being sick. He resumed feeding again after about 5 days I think, there was some disruption to the tank at the time so maybe he was too stressed or inexperienced to carry them to full term.
On the 18th December, during a water change, I happened to notice two of the fish were separate from the rest. I glanced away for a moment and when I looked back again I caught one of them in the act of taking up an egg mass in to his mouth. I have previously observed Red Spot Cardinalfish spawning during a water change (in the Reefer 170), I wonder if the pumps being switched off is a trigger for the female to release eggs, perhaps it's easier (safer?) for the male to pick them up when he's not blasted by flow?
I am yet to witness any babies. Perhaps the fry are released late at night or maybe he hasn't reached the point where he's felt confident/happy enough to carry them to full term.
This week that he's carrying once again, maybe I'll be lucky enough to spot some babies this time...
Day 4: The Beast is getting bigger, I may have to break off the rock it's attached to at this rate. Of all the Aiptasia I have been keeping an eye on none have been touched yet. The egg spirals laid on the small piece of rock have vanished so something probably ate them over night, I'm feeling pretty gutted about that.
Day 5: No change in Aiptasia but I can confirm that one of the nudibranchs is still alive, how do I know this? Well, I discovered one sitting on the silicone bead at top left corner of the tank first thing in the morning. Err, no there aren't any anemones to eat up there!
The nudibranch stayed there all day along, at least it didn't get eaten.
Day 6: No change and the Berghia is still in the same spot on the silicone, is it on hunger strike?
I moved the small rock a little so that I could take a photo of some odd looking polyps that seem to have sprung up from nowhere (more on this later) but as I did that I discovered some more eggs spirals had been laid inside a hole. Hopefully these will be more protected from predation unless mini brittlestars have a taste for nudibranch eggs in which case they will be toast.
Day 7 (today): The Berghia has vanished from the silicone, hopefully it's gone in search of a snack. No visible change in Aiptasia, well they did say it could take a while...
Day 8: Nothing new to report. I can't see if the egg spirals are still intact or not. I just wish that one tiny Aiptasia would vanish offering me at least some hope for the future control. Oh well I guess need to be patient a little longer.
Despite my very best efforts, Aiptasia anemones have taken a hold in my tank. I tried killing any that I discovered with Red Sea Aiptasia-X but more often than not they just bounced back. I moved on to NT Labs Anti-Aiptasia, that proved equally useless. Some would say that the problem lies with me but no matter how carefully/stealthily I approached the anemones to apply the killing solution they would hunker down and reappear a couple of days later. I also tried covering them with putty but no matter how carefully and forcefully I squished the putty down around the Aiptasia they would manage to find a way around it. As things stand I have one rather large Aiptasia (aka The Beast; it looks massive to me) and more than a fair few tiny ones. In fact the more I look with a magnifying glass, the more I find. So basically I've come to the conclusion that they are everywhere and if I don't do something soon it's going to get a lot, lot worse. It's time to get serious about this.
Plan A: Berghia nudibranch. These tiny sea slugs eat Aiptasia and only Aiptasia so are guaranteed to do the job if they survive long enough. The recommended number to add is 1 Berghia per 50l of water with a minimum of 3. My system is approximately 380l so I would need 8. Also there is a risk that wrasse might try and eat them even though they taste bad so it's also recommended to add an extra one in case one gets sampled. Now I have 3 wrasse, I can't imagine that the Pink Striped or Possum wrasse would eat them but the Yellow wrasse certainly might. I opted to order 10 to cover all bases.
The little guys were delivered on Tuesday 19th January from Berghiaonline, they were packed in a box with a heat pack which was still toasty on arrival and they all looked to be in good condition. Somehow I expected them to be bigger but in reality they are quite small.
I took extra care with acclimation because firstly, I wanted to maximise my chances of them surviving and secondly, I wanted to wait till the Yellow wrasse went to bed before introducing them. When transferring them from the pot to tank it's important not to scrape them off as this can damage them, instead it's recommended to use a pipette to dislodge them before sucking them up and depositing them in the tank. However the best and easiest way of adding them is to just place the whole pot in the tank and let them move out when they're ready. Naturally I chose the easiest and safest option, these babies are precious there was no way I was going to risk death by pipette. If I could have, I would have placed the pot with the open end right next to The Beast, lol. Come and get it guys, dinner is served! However that proved impossible to do so I had to make do with placing the pot on the sand and leaning it against the bottom of the rockwork. I was concerned that the pot would become dislodged overnight by a hermit or snail and end up rolling around the tank in the flow so I had the brainwave to weigh it down with a small rock and I had the perfect rock in mind. It came equipped with at least 3 tiny Aiptasia snacks, so if they felt peckish before moving out they could have one for the road so to speak.
Day 1: I rushed down to see if The Beast was gone but darn it! It was still alive and healthy. As far as I could ascertain all the Berghia were still mooching about in the pot. As the lights became brighter the nudibranchs took refuge in small holes in the rock or hid underneath it. OK, out of prying eyes of hungry wrasse at least. Disappointingly the tiny Aiptasia growing on the rock in the pot appeared untouched. To my very great surprise during the course of the day one of the Berghia laid a spiral of eggs on the small rock,
I have to say I was pretty chuffed with this, more recruits for my Aiptasia munching army assuming they managed to survive to hatching.
Day 2: The Beast still remains untouched. The pot appeared devoid of nudibranchs but they could be out of view in or under the rock. I opted to leave the pot where it was for a little while longer mainly to protect the newly laid eggs. I feared that my hermit crabs might find them an irresistible snack given the chance. By the afternoon however a hermit had managed to find its way into the pot and had no way of escaping. It was unconcernedly picking 'food' off the small rock. This forced me to take action, I removed the pot, liberated the hermit crab and placed the small rock on the sand next to the rockwork. As I was placing the rock I discovered the nudibranchs had laid another two spirals of eggs (on the opposite side of the rock to the first batch). Pretty cool huh! I hope that they don't all get eaten now that they are exposed to fish/crabs etc.
Day 3: The Beast is thriving dammit! In fact I don't see that any Aiptasia have been touched even some really tiny ones, that's not to say some haven't, just none that I can tell. There's no sign of any Berghia, hopefully sitting tight, hidden in the rockwork and building up an appetite. The eggs have survived the first night in the tank, maybe they are not very appetising to hermit crabs? Fingers crossed.
That's it for now, I hope and pray that these little nudibranchs do the trick and rid my tank of Aiptasia. Time will tell I guess. If they don't make it then I'll have to move on to plan B....
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!
Yesterday morning the male T. nudus goby was back out with the female again so I knew immediately that the eggs must have hatched at some time during the night. He had been caring for them non-stop for the last 7 days without eating so I was expecting something to happen within the next two days. I checked on the tank 2 hours after lights out the previous night but there was no sign of any fry at that point. When I checked again in the morning there were a few tiny goby shaped objects floating around the tank and one was even still wriggling but it was swept away by the flow before I could reach for a pipette to catch it. Unfortunately the fry don't really stand much of a chance of surviving intact by the time I get up in the morning to look for them. The powerheads are so fierce and the fry are so delicate, not to mention that I now have a shoal of hungry Cardinals that are always on the look out for any tasty morsels that happen to float by. I expect that they had a breakfast feast yesterday and the Acanthastrea looked suspiciously happy too!
At least I took better notes this time so I'm fairly confident now that the egg incubation period is 7 days so maybe next time if I stay up late or get up really, really early I can actually catch and photograph some.....
After waiting absolutely ages for delivery I was finally able to set up my shiny new GHL Profilux 4 controller over Easter. The hope is that when the time comes I can monitor the tank whilst I'm away, so less worry for me. At the moment I just have it set up with four probes measuring temperature, pH, redox and conductivity.
There is just 0.1 degree Celsius difference in temperature readings between the digital GHL probe and the Simplyaquaria temperature controller which is pretty good going considering the price difference between the two. I am going to keep the Simplyaquaria controller running as a backup to the GHL, two alarms are better than one in my books. I may actually move the Simplyaquaria probe to the DT so that I have two separate temperature readings to compare.
The conductivity of the tank water measured by the GHL probe was 51.8mS which converts to a specific gravity of 1.0257. My calibrated refractometer measured it to be 1.026, again the values are pretty close which is good. I am happy to know that I've been maintaining a suitable salinity using the refractometer.
I never bothered to purchase a pH test kit this time round so I had no idea what the actual pH readings were going to be. The levels are fluctuating between 8-8.2 or thereabouts, I would like to study the whole 24hr cycle but haven't managed to work out how to access data from the Profilux yet (if indeed it's actually possible to do).
The redox probe is still bedding in, to be honest I'm not really sure what to expect from the readings as I've never used one before. It came with the set so I thought it'd be interesting to set it up and investigate what it can tell me about the tank.
On the livestock front, Charlie the hitchhiking hermit crab is now on borrowed time after his first tank misdemeanor yesterday. He knocked my prize Acropora gomezi frag off the rock in his quest for food. I supposed I should be pleased that he just wanted to graze off the rocks and not eat the coral but still it's annoying. He's really quite big now so I'm sure that he'll cause more trouble in the future if I don't try and catch him now.
I think the T. nudus gobies have spawned again, Hop has been sequestered in the cave for the last two days and Skip won't let him out to feed, so I'm hopeful that there are eggs hidden inside. I hope I actually get to see some fry this time round, pretty please! The Cardinals also appear to be courting but there's been no further release of eggs.
Daddy Cardinal made it all the way to the end of the 6th day mouth brooding the eggs and then on the morning of the 7th day they were gone. Soooo, did he get a bit peckish overnight and eat the eggs or did the fry hatch out and he released them?? I just don't know, it's really quite frustrating. First I missed the Nudus goby fry and now the Cardinals too.
Talking of the Nudus gobies their latest attempt at spawning (maybe) ended at day 4 thanks to the pistol shrimp who decided to fill in the entrance to their cave again. Following that disruption the gobies went MIA for 4 days and then both reappeared as normal. I wish that they'd just move over to the left hand rock pile and then they wouldn't be bothered by the shrimp's digging activities at all.
Here's some pictures of the proud Father. It remains to be seen if he can carry the eggs for the full 7 days without eating them. Every now and again he will partially spit the eggs out, juggle them around a bit and then suck them back in again. It's really cool to watch.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!