I have now reached the point in my updates where Coronavirus takes hold and the UK along with pretty much everywhere else in the world goes into lockdown.
I allowed Sunny (the Anthias) three weeks to settle, making sure that he was eating well and healthy looking. During that time I noted the nitrates/phosphates levels were continuing to fall so I thought I should get some more fish in there pronto. Since there was no way I could source any new stock from the LFS due to the lockdown I decided to move some over from the Reefer. I had purchased a fish trap ages ago but never got the chance to put it to good use, it was the smallest trap that I could find (the Little ocean small fish trap) but even so there was no way it was going to fit into the tank as it was, some coral need to be removed. I cut out a significant branch of the Pinnigorgia gorgonian and gently (as far as I could) snapped off the yellow Dendrophyllia and Balanophyllia from the rockwork. I took the time to scrape off every single head of Utter Chaos zoanthids that had grown onto the Balano rock as I'm not going to be transferring these 'pests' over to the the new tank.
Once the yellow Dendro was out of the way I carefully slid the fish trap into the front left side of the tank. Unfortunately the magnets are on the other side of the trap in this orientation so I wasn't able attach it to the glass, I had to simply lay it on the sand. I expected it to take a while for the fish to get used to the trap but within a few minutes Jessie the Rainford's goby and Kandy the Spotted Mandarin had popped inside to check it out. The fish I really wanted to catch first though were Rei the Yellow wrasse and Spike the Firefish but they were not impressed with the new state of affairs at all. Rei immediately vanished into the sand and Spike just kept well away at the back of the tank. I waited for 2 days but it became clear that neither Rei nor Spike were going to venture anywhere near it any time soon, in fact Rei actually decided that sleeping in the sand was far more preferable to eating. On the third day I decided my plan of catching specific fish was a non starter so I opted to try to catch any fish that I could. Jessie the Rainford's goby was first in and the trap worked perfectly, a quick tug of the cord and the door dropped down with the fish safely inside. Two days later it was Edna the Possum wrasse, the day after that it was Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse and the next day it was Kandy the Spotted Mandarin (actually Kandy loved the trap so much that he spent more time inside of it than out).
The newly transferred fish seem to like their new home and it's a pleasure to watch them weave in and out of the caves in the rockwork. Unfortunately it seems I am currently person non grata, whenever I approach the tank they all vanish at breakneck speed and it breaks my heart just a little bit every time. Hopefully they will forgive me in a few weeks. Feeding has been a bit hit and miss in the new tank and I have been worried about the Kandy especially. He used to feed extremely well on frozen food in the Reefer but in the new tank all prepared foods were refused. I decided to set up a second Tisbe pod culture since it seems lots more might be needed. Fortunately after two weeks he's back on the frozen again (PE mysis rocks!) so I'm a little less worried about slow starvation now.
I have also transferred over the Orange Dendrophyllia and both of the Tubastrea corals so now I have a little NPS garden going on in the new tank. It's such a pleasure to be able to easily feed them at the moment, there's no fish trying to steal the food or corals overgrowing/around them and I don't have to bash SPS corals with a pipette trying to reach them. I wonder how long that's gonna last for.
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.
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.
Just a couple of fish shots that I took yesterday following the blog update, if only they could all sit still for the camera like Candy the Red Striped goby does (now!).
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.
Not a whole lot to report regarding the gobies and pistol shrimp over the last couple of days. The Whitecap is nowhere to be found during the day but it does venture out after the lights go down and roams the tank. It looks so tiny and seems to be easily buffeted by the flow, I am yet to see it eat anything. There have been no sightings of the shrimp at all and no pistol shots heard either, I can't decide if I am more worried for the fish or the shrimp now. The T. nudus gobies are also still unsettled although #1 (Hop) has started to eat again, #2 (Skip) is still on hunger strike. Edna the possum wrasse and Candy the Red Striped goby seem completely unfazed by the new additions, nothing puts them off their food, lol!
With all this upheaval I have failed to mention that on Saturday I added a few more corals to the tank. A couple of small Acropora sp. frags and a single head of Lobophyllia sp. I haven't taken any photos of them before today as I have been avoiding cleaning the glass in fear of causing even more disturbance to the fishy occupants. I decided to risk it today however.
Happy New Year everyone, I hope you all enjoyed the festivities.
I am pleased to report that my tank has corals in it at last! I took absolutely ages at the LFS deciding what to buy. I'm still not sure if I have made the right choices but the deed is done now so I'll have live with the consequences. My criteria for selection were small pieces/frags only and easy(ish) corals to care for. So I am now the proud owner of a small rock with a scattering of zoanthids, a frag of Stylophora pistillata and a frag of Acanthastrea sp. At the insistence of my son I also came home with a couple of micro hermits. As far as my kids are concerned, crabs are absolutely awesome and corals are just blah! I did however, put my foot down at the suggestion of buying a clam at this point. As much as I would love one I think the tank is too young and unstable at the moment.
With regards to the resident stock, the squat lobster is still MIA so it's looking like he's probably gone up to the great reef in the sky, I doubt that I'll be getting another if that is the case. He will be my first loss and will be sorely missed. The Scaleless Shrimpgobies are spending more and more of their time hidden in their cave and have become very protective of it too. Any hermits that venture too close are immediately attacked. Neither goby has fed today in fact I have only seen one of them (not sure which one) a couple of times this afternoon. I do hope they are OK. Edna the possum wrasse has become a bit more confident and I can feed her directly from a pipette, she still quite shy and prefers to swim close to the rockwork and hang out under overhangs though. Candy the Red Striped goby is going strong and seems unfazed by anything at all, food is definitely on top of her list of priorities.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!