Time for a proper tank update starting with the fish.
Sadly Rocket the Red Spotted goby vanished on the 29th December 2019. In the few days prior to his disappearance he hadn't been eating as vigorously as normal, did he die from old age or was there some other reason (perhaps refugium related)? I had him for just over a 18 months. This means I'm down to just one nano goby now in the form of Hop the Nudus goby. Hop was one of the first fish to be added to this tank in December 2016, he was introduced along with a female Nudus goby and a Red Striped goby. His mate passed on after 15 months and the Red Striped goby after 22 months. Hop has been with me for 27 months at this point so I'm worried how long he has left. The clock is ticking, I really wish nano gobies had a longer lifespan. I can't always locate him every day as he spends a lot of time hidden in his sandy burrow but he usually pops out for food whenever he feels like an extra snack. Even when he's not been target fed his belly always looks rounded so he must be finding plenty of pods to munch on when underground.
Edna the Possum wrasse (Wetmorella tanakai) has been with me for just over 2 years and 2 months now. She's quite secretive but much bolder now that the corals are a bit bigger. She flits from rock to rock when the light is at its peak but can be found swimming out in the open when the lights are dimmer. She loves PE mysis above all other frozen food and will home in on the bigger pieces even if they do take several 'chews' before she is able to swallow them.
Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse (Pseudocheilinops ataenia) was added next so she has been a resident for 2 years and 1 month. Another model reef tank inhabitant, slightly more active than Edna, loves to hunt for 'pods'. Her favourite food is fish eggs which she will take straight from a pipette. I wish I could find her (him?) a mate but whenever I see another Pink Streaked wrasse in a shop I wimp out in case it's the wrong sex.
Rei the Yellow wrasse (Halichoeres chrysus) has been with me for a year and a half and has grown enormously. I still think of her as female but she has transitioned into a male now. If I'm totally honest this fish is too big for the tank and really needs to be moved on. I'm just not sure if he could be caught that easily, sometimes I just have to sneeze near the tank and he vanishes with a puff of sand.
Tinker and Belle the Pintail wrasse pair have been with me for 16 months and they are still going strong. I did fear that I might be asking for trouble introducing two of these fish as females of this family have a reputation for changing into male in captivity and this almost always results in all out war with another male. So far, I am relieved to say this has not happened. Will it happen in the future? I do not know. Tinker regularly displays to Belle and occasionally chases her around the tank when he's feeling moody, most of the time however they co-exist quite peacefully together. These fish love to eat and will try to consume as much of the food as they possibly can before the rest of the fish can reach it.
Jessie, the Rainford goby is the most recent introduction, I've had him for just over 6 months now and he is the most enchanting fish, totally peaceful and not at all shy. He naturally gives way to the larger wrasse when they come barreling past or at feeding time but he is always waiting at the top of the tank (along with the male Pintail wrasse) to try and grab as much food as he can. He can often be found sifting sand, pecking copepods off the back wall and to a lesser degree, eating hair algae.
That's the lot, every now and again I toy with the idea of adding one more fish but I am hesitant to upset the status quo. All of the fish get along and are healthy so I should be content with that, right?!
My next update will be corals.
Apologies for the delay in updating this blog. I'm pleased to report that Tinker the male Pintail wrasse DID survive his cave diving experience after all. He refused to eat for three whole days following the ordeal but then on the fourth day he tried sampling a couple of small pieces of Mysis and then on subsequent days he ate a little bit more at every feed. He was feeding pretty much normally again after two weeks. His wounds (lost scales and shredded fins) repaired themselves in short order once he began eating again. I hope he's learnt his lesson not to go wedging himself into small holes in the rock again.
Jessie the Rainford's goby continues to do well. He is such a sweet little fish, keeping to himself whilst going about his daily business hunting for pods and sand 'chewing'. I think he's grown a bit since introduction.
On the 18th December, Edna the Possum wrasse will celebrate her second birthday in the tank. She is visible much more than she used to be, the corals have grown in and she can weave her way through, under and around them without exposing herself to the scary open water too much. This doesn't apply at feeding time when she's out ready and waiting to sneak a choice piece of her favourite food, PE mysis.
Hop the Nudus goby celebrated his second birthday on the 3rd December, he may have lost his mate back in March but he is still going strong along with Al, his shrimp partner. Red Spotted pistol shrimps are reported to only pair with Whitecap gobies but after mine sadly jumped out (through the mesh of the tank lid) the remaining shrimp accepted the Nudus pair instead. They have been together for well over a year now.
Before I sign off for today I'll leave an updated shot of the two Dendrophyllia sp. because why not! They are just so pretty. Notice the Pintail wrasse sleeping under the rock.
I hope to update more fully in the next couple of weeks. I have just one new coral addition to report.
Not the best of days on the reef today.
At feeding time I noticed the Male Pintail wrasse was MIA. He was absolutely fine the previous day, eating more than his fair share of food as usual. Then today he was gone. This prompted a frantic searching of the tank both inside and out by the entire family. There was no sign of him in the tank so we got on our hands and knees with torches searching the entire room, under cupboards and behind the tank (even though I have a net top to the tank). The fish however was nowhere to be found, how can a fish as large as this vanish so completely in a small tank?
It was my son who finally solved the mystery, he spotted the very tip of the wrasse’s tail poking out from a hole in a rock hidden right at the back of a cave at the very bottom of the left hand rock pile. Possibly THE most inaccessibile area of the tank.
Now I was faced with an impossible decision, let the fish die (the tail was still twitching) or pull out all the rocks? My husband pointed out that even if I did remove the rocks complete with large corals, how was I going to actually get the fish out of the hole?
We decided to wait and see if he could miraculously extricate himself on his own. For hours I hovered nervously around the tank hoping for a miracle. It was heartbreaking watching the female Pintail waiting around/in the cave, clearly aware that her mate was in there somewhere. Kinda surprising considering how he likes to chase her sometimes.
I had pretty much given up hope when, late this afternoon, the stupid wrasse managed to wriggle all the way THROUGH the hole in the rock and emerge out the other side. I didn’t know that was possible, up till now the only critter to use this hole is the Pom Pom crab.
Sadly the fishie is now in a really poor shape. His dorsal fin is shredded, he has wounds on his face and many missing scales on his side. I don’t know if he will survive this ordeal or not but he was in good condition yesterday so I can only hope. He wouldn’t eat tonight however.
Keeping a reef tank is so relaxing... NOT!!
The tank has survived to reach its second anniversary today, how the time has flown. Needless to say after two years of running, the exciting stocking phase is pretty much over with (although never say never, lol!) and I've moved on to the not quite so exciting fragging phase.
The first coral that needed a proper pruning was the Seriatopora hystrix. It has grown in rather an unruly manner and some of the branches were growing over the top of the clam (a definite no-no!) and a good section was also now obscuring my view of the sun coral, making it harder to feed. The tips are easy to frag but I found that when trying to cut branches further down, whole sections would break off instead, so I removed far more of the coral than I intended. Oh well it will recover given time (assuming that the Utter Chaos zoanthids don't take it over completely).
Finally, I am able to see the sun coral in all its glory again. As you can see it does try to keep the branches of the Seri in check by stinging and killing off the tips that stray too close. If you look closely you can also see a few of the baby sun polyps that have settled on to the rockwork to the left. The whole tank is pretty much spotted with baby suns right now, even the Scolymia already has one settled on its skeleton.
Talking of sun corals, the Dendrophyllia frag I added in August is doing really well, it started out as 3 heads and now has 5, with another 4 more developing. This seems like a much faster growth rate than the Tubastrea, or maybe it is just more noticeable due to its branching formation.
I have also been lucky enough to pick up another Dendrophyllia frag from a fellow reefer. Morphologically it looks the same as the yellow one so it's possibly just a different colour morph (or perhaps it's a different species, I don't know). I so looove these corals, I know that they are only at their best after the lights go out but I simply don't care, I think they are spectacular! I sometimes wonder if I should have just gone with an NPS tank and be done with everything else, lol! Ideally I'd prefer to feed these corals during the day so that I can admire their beauty with the lights on but it's so darn frustrating. The wrasse try to steal the food and 98% of the time they are successfuI before the polyp has a chance to fully ingest it. No matter how I defend the coral, the bloomin fish sneak in and grab it most of the time. It's just not worth the effort and stress it causes (to me and the coral). Oh to be outwitted by a few fish....
Anyway back to fragging. The second coral that needed reducing in size was the green plating Montipora, I'd been psyching myself up to do this for months. I knew the time had finally come when the Acanthastrea corals growing directly below it started showing signs of struggling, they were at that point pretty much completely shaded out by the coral above. I kept putting it off because the Montipora had grown into such a perfect saucer shape and looked lovely, I knew that once I'd had at it the shape would be ruined. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of either this or the Seri before I began chopping, I don't know what was I thinking? Anyway the plate coral may look quite delicate but it was surprisingly hard to frag, lower down the skeleton is deceptively thick. I took off a good couple of inches around the edges on the right-hand side and probably should have done more but that's a problem for another day.
Now that the there's a bit more light, the Acanthastrea 'Lava Glow' looks good again. Its smaller brother to the left of it is unfortunately still somewhat shaded. However this coral has never really grown well even when it received better lighting. I did try to move it to another location recently but it's fused to the rockwork so I'm afraid it's there to stay.
The third coral that needed to be fragged was Acropora hyacinthus. I've been nipping the front tips off here and there for a while as they grew towards the front glass but more drastic action was needed this time as I was no longer possible to clean the glass in front of it. Due to the fused branch growth it was now impossible to remove individual bits so the best remedy for the long term was to remove the entire front half of the coral and as with the Seriatopora more was removed than intended. In fact there's not much of the coral left now, just the base and one main branch. Hey ho!
Whilst fragging the A. hyacinthus a large chunk snapped off at the base and fell right on top of the Scolymia. Argh! The Scoly looked very unhappy for a few days and remained shrivelled up, naturally I feared for the worst but fortunately the reefing gods were smiling down and it has bounced back to full glory once more. To say I'd have been upset if a frag that originally cost £15 took out a much, MUCH more expensive coral would have been a bit of an understatement to say the least, lol!
The Scoly loves to eat but never shows its tentacles till after the lights go out so I only feed it at that time. I offer it krill or LPS pellets once or twice per week.
The Favia has grown from a frag the size of inch squared into quite a big beastie and has spread out not only over the rockwork but also out onto the sand towards the Acanthastrea to the left of it. There used to be a good gap between the left and right rock piles, a space in which the conch could easily pass through but now his shell won't fit through at all. I fear that it's only a question of time until the two corals start fighting each other and there won't be much I can do about it as they are both well and truly encrusted on to the rockwork, It won't be pretty I'm sure!
The Heliofungia also continues to do well, there's no sign of it wanting to break away and wander round the sand (which is fine by me!) nor are it's offspring. As you can see from the photo below the coralline algae growing on the glass is a bit of a pain. I want to scrape it all off but I don't want to damage the coral during the process. Everywhere I've read says if the flesh gets torn then it's "hasta la vista baby!", so I feel it's best to just leave it be.
Jessie the Rainford's goby has settled in beautifully and whilst he always gives way to the much larger wrasse at feeding time, he's not shy at all. He roams all over the tank, pecking at algae and chewing the 'sand'. He now feeds really well on frozen food and tries his level best to grab as much as he can before the greedy wrasse hoover it all up, I still offer him a bit extra via a pipette to make sure he gets enough to keep his little belly full.
Sadly I haven't seen Candy the Red Striped goby (Trima cana) since the 8th October. He/she was one of the first fish added to the tank on the 3rd December 2016. I understand that nano gobies do not have long lifespans, only a couple of years, so I'm assuming it was just his time. Two years is just too short sadly. I can't help but wonder how long Hop the Nudus goby will be around for now. He was also added at the same time as Candy and he already lost his mate earlier this year (March).
Sadly I don't have a recent(ish) photo of Candy to share as once the zoanthids grew over his rock he took to hanging out behind Lobophyllia where he was difficult to photograph. I'll post this sneaky shot taken last year instead. :'(
The rest of the fish are fine.
I have a new invert (see, I can still squeeze more stuff in lol!), a crinoid squat lobster. I tried keeping one of these adorable little crustaceans back in 2016, when the tank was relatively new. Sadly it vanished after just 20 days and I vowed not try another... then I came across this little guy. I reasoned that now that the tank is mature this itty bitty crustacean would stand a better chance at survival so he now resides in my tank. As I type this, it's been 27 days since introduction and I'm happy to say that he's taken up permanent residence amongst the branches of Seriatopora, hiding underneath the relative safely of the Utter Chaos zoanthids during the day, he blends in extremely well with the orange of the polyps. He's been named Jaffa and readily accepts all sorts of food from the pipette, I am hopeful he will do better than Stripes did.
Jobs I still need to do. I need to frag the branches of the Stylophora that are growing too close to the glass on the left-hand side and try and remove some of the many Utter Chaos zoanthids that have spread round the tank (I really regret adding those devils).
I've run out of time now so I'll sign off with the obligatory full tank shot.
To this, in two years.
Not much new to report really, everything seems to be ticking along and there have been no new additions.
I harvested a load of macro algae from the refugium as the upper half was a completely solid mass. I think I might have been a bit over zealous with my pruning as the algae growth seems to have stalled somewhat since then. A knock on effect being that the nutrient levels within the tank have risen slightly. On the 9th January phosphate tested at around 0.046ppm and nitrate 0.35ppm using the Elos low range kits. When I tested again on the 10th January the phosphate level had crept up to 0.08ppm and nitrate to 1ppm. Hopefully once the algae growth picks up again the levels will stabilise as I don't really want the phosphate level to get any higher. I must get into the habit of harvesting smaller amounts of algae on a more regular basis.
I've also been chasing the male pintail wrasse round in the hopes of capturing a decent photo of him displaying to the female but boy, he's really fast! I have multiple shots of just his tail or the rear half of his body, lol. I am very persistent though, thank goodness for digital cameras or I would have probably given up by now.
I finally relented and moved the Balanophyllia to the sump, it was on the fast track to coral heaven if I left it in the DT thanks to the Pintail's attentions. It's so much easier to feed down there now, especially during the day as the refugium is reverse lit so it's nice and dark. The good news is whilst the flesh on one side has receded quite badly due to the earlier infection it doesn't appear to be getting any worse and it's certainly happy to start eating again. It's a pale shadow of what it once was, the photo below shows how far the tentacles currently expand (and the receded skeleton). I hope it improves and opens up fully again.
The green tentacled corallimorph was looking a little more extended than I usually see it during the day so I whipped out the camera for a quick snap of that too (with flash). It looks like an anemone (and is commonly called a ball anemone) but actually is a part of the mushroom family. It hitchhiked into my tank on a small piece of zoanthid rock and doesn't appear to have spread much in 8 months time, mind you neither have the zoas either, lol. I think it actually looks rather attractive.
I'll sign off with another short video. It's not much different than the last one I posted tbh but hopefully still enjoyable to watch.
Just prior to the skimmer failure I sent off water samples for yet another ICP analysis. The results of which are shown in the link below:
100%! Apparently I have a full house, everything is in balance although to be honest the salinity is a bit higher than I would like. I must try harder. The conductivity probe had drifted out of calibration. The tin contamination is gone at last but I seem to have a reading for iron this time round. The only change between now and the last test is that I have begun to soak the fish food in a vitamin supplement, I wonder if that’s the source? Something (else) to keep an eye on. I still can’t get much of a nitrate reading despite adding a couple more fish and feeding loads. I wonder if running the tank for 5 days without a skimmer has raised it at all?
Moving on to the corals, the warfare continues. The Favia continues to batter the Cyphastrea relentlessly. I thought it might stop once the leading edge was dead but no, the dead area seems to get larger every day. I would move the Cyphastrea if I could but firstly, it's well encrusted, and secondly I have nowhere else to put it.
Two of the Montipora sp. (#2 & 3) are now clashing with Acropora loripes and both are losing. Montipora #2 is also being hammered at the back by the Stylopora.
Despite religious feeding the Balanophyllia has still not been doing so well, It was only after I made the decision to move it that I discovered that it was receding very badly at the back where I couldn’t see. There was a white band of what I assume to be a bacterial infection at the receding edge. I relocated it to the rear of the tank but in hindsight I should probably have placed it in the sump because as soon as the Pintail wrasse were added, feeding it became nigh on impossible. They just kept stealing its food. Fortunately the Sun coral continues to do well and has grown multiple new heads. Feeding it can be a battle with the wrasse but it can be done with a little perseverance.
Moving on to the red bug problem, with no plan of attack they are obviously still present but the Acros seem to be coping with them for the time being. I fully expected the afflicted corals to be failing by now but they still have reasonable polyp extension and colour. I'm sure that they could look better as could their growth rate but at least they are not dead. The watching and waiting continues.
I've indicated some of the red bugs present on the Acropora below with red arrows there are more shown in the shot but you get the general idea.
As for the fish, Edna the Possum wrasse passed her first anniversary in the tank on December 18th and Kylie the Pink-streaked wrasse will have her first anniversary on the 28th January 2018.
A few more photos of the Pintails (Tinker and Belle) and Rei the Yellow wrasse too.
A few other random coral photos. I had hoped to have more shots to share but Christmas preparations got in the way.
Thanks for following my blog, I hope you all have a great Christmas! Hopefully I have more photos to share next week.
I realised last night that it's been a year since I introduced the first fish to this tank. I thought I should mark the occasion by taking some celebratory photos of them. Unfortunately Candy the Red Striped goby was the only one prepared to pose for for me. The Nudus gobies were, as usual, hidden in their burrow so no shot of them sadly (they really don't like the new Fairy wrasse, especially the male who constantly tries to steal their food). Anyway happy 1st birthday gobies!
It's been four weeks since I introduced the two Pintail wrasse and I've been nervously watching their behaviour like a hawk.
Oh boy these fish really like to eat! When it comes to feeding time they are like mini sharks especially the larger male and yes, from what I've seen I do indeed have a male and female of the species (I'll elaborate a bit more on that in just a moment). Given half the chance they will eat all the food that I add into the tank no matter whether it's meant for them or not. This has caused a bit of a problem for me as I like to make sure that everyone gets their fair share. To do this I offer food directly to some of my livestock, this includes the Possum wrasse, Nudus gobies, pistol shrimp, Pom Pom crab (occasionally), cleaner shrimp and some corals most notably the sun coral. Pre-fairy wrasse days I used to do it via the end of a long pipette. Unfortunately it took the fairy wrasse all of a couple of days to realise that the pipette equalled food and no matter how I tried to evade them or distract them 9 times out of 10 they would steal the food. In the end I had to discard the pipette and be a little bit more inventive. I connected a syringe to a long piece of acrylic tubing with silicone hose. The tubing is wide enough to take up whole pieces of food, so now when I need to feed, the food is inaccessible to the fish until I depress the syringe plunger. It drives the male Pintail crazy as can he see the food is there but he can't get at it no matter how much he pecks at the tube. Then I wait for him to lose interest and dispense the food, this seems to be working quite well so far.
Moving on, these fish may be sharks at feeding time but when it comes to glass cleaning they turn into complete and utter nervous wrecks. I have read that these fish can be jumpers and boy do I believe it, show them an algae magnet and it's splashes all round. Thankfully I have a mesh top to prevent any would be escapees. They show no sign of wanting to make a hasty departure at any other time including water changes. As a consequence I have been avoiding cleaning the glass as often (and hence taking less photos), I hope they learn to accept that the algae magnet is not out to get them because I really like being able to see into the tank.
Now that they've settled into their new home their behaviour has changed. The larger fish is most definitely male because he's very recently started displaying to the female. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed how he changes his colour during the nuptial display. It really is amazing! He extends his fins are and his colour intensifies especially the area on the rear of his belly which turns red and the area under his dorsal fin turns purple. I know that this is natural behaviour but I hope it doesn't cause any long term issues with the pair. I'm slightly paranoid having read that keeping pairs of these fish in smaller tanks generally doesn't work out in the long term. I really don't want him to harrass her to death or for her to change into a male. I will be watching very carefully and intervening if needed.
It's been five months since I removed the frag of Acropora sp. #2, due to an infestation of red bugs (Tegastes acroporanus). As I reported before a tiny piece of encrusted base remained in the tank, it was scrubbed rigorously with toothbrush whilst the surrounding water was siphoned away. The Acro base amazingly survived the scrubbing ordeal and has finally began to branch upwards once more. It appears to be red bug free, however, and this is the big downer, the tank is NOT free of these pests! Whilst taking some macro photos of the corals yesterday morning I discovered that at least three of the other Acropora sp. have red bugs crawling over them too (A. gomezi, Acropora sp. #3 & #4). So basically I tossed Acro #2 for nothing. To say that I'm feeling a wee bit disheartened with the tank right now is an understatement.
So what to do now? Remove all of the Acros? But most are encrusted to the rockwork so this would be tricky. Try biological control using a pipefish? The biggest drawback with this (apart from size of the tank, feeding/flow issues blah blah) is that I feel the tank is fully stocked now (see below for the recent and last fish additions). Of course I could strip the tank down entirely and quit or start again. The word 'upgrade' and using this tank as a quarantine tank has even been mentioned! Lots to think about.
Elsewhere war is underway between the Favia sp. and the Cyphastrea sp. The Favia is clearly winning since there is an area of dead skeleton on the leading edge of the Cyphastrea. The fighting occurs only at night so I'm going to have to camp out with a flashlight if I'm to catch the Favia in battle mode. Also the green encrusting Montipora is on the losing end of a clash with Acropora loripes.
Now on to happier news (had I known about the red bugs I would have held off buying any fish but I didn't, *sigh*). I visited my favourite fish shop a couple of weeks ago with the intention of choosing one final fish for the tank, I thought maybe a firefish or a wrasse, one that might actually relish eating pyramid snails. Talking of which I've just spotted one of the buggers in the shot of the damaged Cyphastrea above, argh!! Anyway, I decided against buying a firefish (I really loved the Helfrichi but just couldn't bring myself to fork out so much for one fish) and was discouraged from trying a Leopard wrasse because of possible compatibility issues with my resident Yellow wrasse. Instead I was directed towards the fairy wrasse; colourful and peaceful and not overly large. Now I must confess that I didn't really know too much about this group of fish so I was relying heavily on what I was being told by the lovely shop assistant. There was a group of Pintail wrasse, males and females (although they all looked pretty much the same to me) and apparently I was informed that it was possible to keep a male and female pair together, which is always a plus point for me.
I have since found out that female fairy wrasse almost invariably change into males in a captive environment resulting in warfare between the now two males. Unfortunately I was an hour into my journey home when I discovered that fact. I should have walked away for a coffee and research time before having a pair bagged up. Anyway they are in my tank now so I'll have to deal with issues if and when they arise. As if I don't have enough issues already!
These fish are really very pretty, the male is slightly larger than the female with perhaps more defined markings but to be honest they don't look that different to me. I hope that's not a bad sign. As expected they took some grief from the Rei the Yellow wrasse. She was not best pleased to see some new fish moving in to 'her' tank. She is the undoubted boss of the tank. The rest of the fish ignored the new additions after their initial curious inspections. The har-wrasse-ment by Rei continued for about three days after which she decided it was just too much bother and now lets them be. Most of the time she ignores them aside from a few half hearted chases every now and again.
OK these Pintails really like to eat!! Right from the very first feed they were in there grabbing their fair share even stealing food from right under the nose of Rei and they'll eat whatever I add to the tank almost without question. At the moment during the day they coexist quite peacefully with each other. When the lights dim in the evening there is a bit of jostling for sleeping accommodations, at least that's what I think is going on. It certainly doesn't look like the male is displaying to the female. I will be watching on very carefully for signs of it all going south. Gulp!
And now for a few more updated photos. Sorry there's no video footage yet, I got a bit distracted by the red bug fiasco and needed a large glass of wine to help ease the pain.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!