I went away this weekend and managed to find the time to visit a few not so local fish shops (as the reef-obsessed tend to do given the opportunity). In the 3rd shop I struck gold and located the Porcelain crab (Petrolisthes galathinus) I've been searching for since I first set the tank up. She is one of the hitchhiking species that are sometimes found in live rock. I used to have one of these peaceful filter feeding crabs in my old tank and knew I wanted one for this tank too. When I arrived back home everything in the tank seemed fine and my crab (a female according to the shape of her abdomen) was duly acclimated and introduced just before the lights went out.
This morning I eagerly rushed down to check on my new crab only to discover that the curse of the Red Spot Cardinalfish had struck again. Another one of them had died, this time I discovered the body, the Lobophyllia was trying its best to eat it! The meal turned to be too much for the small coral to stomach and I was able to remove the dead fish using a pair of tongs. It was at this time that I happened to notice a small shape lying on the carpet to the side of the tank. Closer inspection showed it to be Gordon my Whitecap goby, nooooooo! He had jumped out of the tank at sometime during the night. I do have a mesh lid on the top to prevent any jumpers but somehow he still managed to find a way out, he was a very small fish after all. There is no doubt in my mind that he jumped as a direct result of the persecution by the Nudus gobies. The female in particular went out of her way to terrorise him at every opportunity. I have no idea what will happen to Al the pistol shrimp now and I dare not introduce another Whitecap as the same thing could happen all over again. He's going to have to make do on his own from now on and I expect I won't see him nearly as much as when Gordon acted as lookout for him. I feel so very, very sad today.
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.....
For a while now I've been trying to decide on my last fish additions for this tank, I wanted something small, peaceful and reef safe, oh and would swim out in the open most of the time. That couldn't be hard, could it? In actual fact finding something that fits all those criteria was surprisingly difficult. I researched loads and visited more than a few shops checking out what was on offer. It soon became clear to me that there wasn't actually that much choice really, the small fish category is not well represented at any of my LFS or indeed any of my not-so-local fish shops either.
In the end after much wavering, I decided to take a bit of a risk and try a small group of Red Spot Cardinalfish. These fish have a bit of an iffy reputation in captivity, there are a fair few reports of them vanishing/dying for no apparent reason at all. If the feedback were all negative then I wouldn't have considered them at all but along with the bad there are also reports of success and some even having them breeding. I hope my experience of them will be the latter.
At the LFS I asked for five individuals (I've heard that odd numbers work better than even, I have no idea where that recommendation originated) but in the end I came away with six fish. The very nice salesman added an extra to my bag for free, who was I to say no to that?
They were introduced to the tank late on Saturday afternoon and I must say that they've really brought it to life, they are always out in the open and haven't hidden away once. Even the wrasses have more confidence now and are out and about a lot more which is lovely. They appear to be eating well although it's hard to know if they all are getting their fair share. I was advised to offer them smaller foods but they seem keen to take bigger items too. So far they have eaten cyclops, calanus, lobster eggs, enriched brineshrimp and PE mysis. I can understand how these fish may fade away if not fed enough as they are always on the go, never taking a rest even at night. I hope that I can keep up with their dietary requirements without polluting the tank at the same time.
Some say that these fish are boring and ugly but I would strongly disagree, they are delicate and subtly coloured. Do they look like a fresh water tetra? Well yes, they kind of do but they work for me and have fitted in to my tank without issue (...so far).
This tank is approaching the 6 month mark (on the 16th April). Wow, where has the time gone to? It's now well and truly in the 'spotty phase', the back glass is covered with spots of coralline algae and spirobid worms. I have scraped it once already and am now in two minds if I should do it again. Does it look natural or does it just make the tank look messy? I can't decide, answers on a postcard please. :o)
I've had to move the Lobophyllia yet again. The Lobo was very happy in its last spot but, darn it, the snails (Mr Conch I'm looking at you particularly!) just kept knocking it over no matter how hard I pushed it in to the sand. So now I've glued the base of the skeleton to the rock work on the right-hand side at the back. It's not great for viewing but at least it won't get damaged there. Fingers crossed that's the last time I have to move it!
Acropora sp. #2 still appears to be red bug free and the PE looks good. Acropora sp. #3 is on the mend I think, to my eye there appear to be less blistering now. It's not completely out of the woods yet but I'm feeling a little more confident about its future. General coral colouration is not great but I'm not too concerned about that at this point.
My mysterious hitchhiking crab has thankfully moved away from the S. hystrix and has set up home in the uppermost right hand rock. I still don't have a decent picture of him to show I'm afraid, he moves like lightning whenever I get close. So far he's not attacked or eaten anything that he shouldn't, I regularly observe him scraping at the rock work with his spoon shaped claws and he does a great job of keeping that area clean of algae and detritus. He has grown considerably and I am probably not helping matters by occasionally feeding him directly. I have tentatively identified him as Chlorodiella nigra which is a member of the Xanthidae crab family. According to my research they are generally fine when smaller but can become troublesome as they grow and their appetite increases. I am investigating removal options just in case.....
Yesterday afternoon I introduced probably my last fishy additions for this tank, they are still settling in at the moment, pictures to follow hopefully later on in the week.
For the most part the tank is doing OK. There is very little in the way of nuisance algae, the furry stuff that was coating the rocks seems to be fading away without any intervention on my part. The zoanthids are opening up nicely and looking good, so I think the nudibranch problem is solved. The LPS expand nicely during the day and are always ready to eat whenever they sense food in the tank.
Most of the SPS corals are doing well, showing good growth or at the very least basing out. Colouration however is not great for some of them, I'm hoping that with time and stability the colours will improve. Maybe it's a nutrient issue?
There is one Acropora sp. (#3) that does not look good. I have noticed recently that there appears to be blistering to the flesh. This is a new one on me so I did a bit of searching on the web and others have reported this ailment. Unfortunately no one really knows what causes it. Some say that it's due to an imbalance with the big three, i.e. KH, Ca and Mg but in my case I have those parameters well within recommended levels and they haven't fluctuated much either. The only suspect I can think of at this stage is KZ Sponge Power, I began dosing this on the 11th February (1 drop every other day). It may have nothing to do with the problem but I think I'm going to stop using it for a while and see if the Acro improves.
I nuked the tiny Aiptasia that sneaked into the tank on the clam shell with Aiptasia-X and didn't feel bad about it at all. Now I just have to be vigilant for more Pyramid snails. My list of hitchhikers found in this tank is growing ever longer.
I'm happy to report that the fish are all doing fine. It's been just over a month since I added the Pink Streaked wrasse and I'm thinking that the time might be right to introduce some more soon. This time I definitely want fish that will swim out in the open. I have fish that hug the rockwork, that sit on the sand and one that hides in a hole in the sand, I really need some bold fishies that aren't shy!
Nothing much to report really, there were no new additions last weekend. The tank is ticking along nicely and the fish have settled back into their fishy routines. For the gobies this is sit on the sand and wait for food to float by and for the wrasse it's cruise the rockwork searching for tasty morsels.
I am getting to see the the pistol shrimp (Al) and Whitecap goby (Gordon) everyday now which is excellent (well the heads of them anyway). On Friday Al decided that the 'wall' needed some modifying/rebuilding. I must have sat and watched him for at least 2 hours shovelling sand up and over the top. True to nature Gordon the goby hovered nearby and I was treated to the best views of him so far, I saw not only his head but his anterior dorsal fin too! OK that doesn't sound like much but it's more than I've seen since, well, introduction really. I could have taken photos but I was so entranced by all the activity that I didn't want to risk scaring them off. I am still hoping for whole body views sometime in the future. I must say it's almost tempting to destroy the wall so that I can watch Al rebuilding it again, lol! I won't of course, that would be too cruel.
Since I still have no pictures of Gordon or Al I thought I'd show you Lurch the conch instead, he's grown amazingly since he was introduced on the 14th November 2016. His day typically consists of waking up midmorning eating algae off the sand and rocks all day long and then at some point at night he buries himself back in the sand for a nap. He's a lot more agile than I expected a conch to be, he can climb on to the lower rocks and has even made it all the way up to the top of the left-hand rock pile on a couple of occasions. Getting back down again is somewhat problematic and basically involves him falling off, at least the sand bed is there to cushion his fall. I think his eyes are really beautiful!
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.
Finally I can confirm that the Whitecap goby and pistol shrimp partner are still alive. Yesterday the hole at the front of the tank reopened a tiny amount and an antenna popped out and waved around, additionally there were several shots heard throughout the day. Phew! There was no sign of the goby however as the hole was too small and awkward to see in to. Can a tiny fish like that survive sealed up underground for 6 days without food? I honestly thought not, I am so pleased to say I was wrong about that. I guess there could be small critters such as copepods to snack on but it's hard to imagine being confined in the dark with no route in or out for days on end, fine for the shrimp perhaps but what about the goby??
Anyway today at the first feed of the day the front hole opened up a little again, at the second feed it got a bit wider and lo and behold a white head appeared below. Whoop whoop! I got to see the shrimp and fish at the third AND last feed of the day too. Three sightings in one day, crikey I'm not sure I can cope, lol! Now I just need to see the whole body of the fish to know if it's skinny or not and to take a photograph of the pair together of course. I can dream can't !! Needless to say the Whitecap has now been named Gordon (from the film Flash Gordon, gotta love Brian Blessed's catchphrase). :o)
My other good news is that Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse has also begun to feed and is now starting to hang out with her new best buddy Edna the Possum wrasse. She still looks a bit unsettled but we are heading in the right direction so all is good hopefully.
I need to clean the glass now ready for a new FTS tomorrow, wow January passed by really fast.
It's all gone quiet on the pistol shrimp and Whitecap goby front, no positive sightings since Wednesday the 25th and no new burrow holes have appeared in the sand either. Still apart from their absence the tank looks to be doing OK. Parameters are within normal ranges and the corals that I have look fine, time for some new additions methinks.
I still really want to add an Acropora colony with a commensal crab hidden in amongst the branches but all the colonies I have seen have really large bases which would be difficult to find places for on my rockwork. I could cut them down I suppose but it would be hard to do without damaging the coral, not to mention freaking out the crab, so I decided yet again to stick to small frags only. Unfortunately the tank is going to look pretty empty for ages whilst they grow out and I will have to make sure that I stay strong and don't get tempted to fill in the empty gaps with extra corals. So anyway on Saturday I chose a beautiful green frag of Acropora formosa (I think) and a frag of Seriatopora hystrix. Additionally I perhaps rather foolishly decided to purchase another fish, one that will hopefully be on display (eventually) for a bit more time than my current fish stock. I settled on a small Pink-Streaked wrasse who I was assured by the LFS was not just a pretty fish but also functional predator of the troublesome red bugs etc. I don't have any of those in my tank at the moment....but you never know.
Needless to say the tank is now in fishy turmoil again. The Nudus gobies have moved out of their new (version 2) home and even Candy the Red Striped goby has changed her usual perching spot. Sigh! Interestingly Edna the Possum wrasse doesn't see bothered at all and seems to be ignoring the new fish. Who knows what the Whitecap is thinking imprisoned under the rockwork (alive I hope!). I must point out though that the Pink Streaked wrasse does not appear to be aggressive at all to any of the resident fish, she has spent all of today cowering in the right-hand back corner of the tank.
I think that's it for new fish additions for a while, the current occupants need to settle down and chill out a bit.
So I managed to sneak up on the gobies and capture them doing their thing, gosh it's such a hard life waiting for food to float by. It's not the best shot but at least they are all present and correct. You can't tell from the photo but the T. nudus gobies have grown quite a bit over the last 7 and a bit weeks (even with their bout of self-imposed hunger strike following the introduction of Whitecap goby & pistol shrimp pair).
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!