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.
Some bad news to report.
First up, the King Midas zoanthids I introduced just under 4 weeks ago. For the first week I left them sitting on the sand and they looked great, opening up nicely so I decided to fix them down on the rear of the right-hand rock pile. Oddly after that they refused to open up again. Hmm, I thought maybe they don't like that spot so I removed the frag plug from the rock and sat it back down on the sand at the front of the tank again. Happily they started to extend once more so a couple of days later I fixed them to a new spot not that far from where they were sitting on the sand. Sadly they never opened up again and started to shrink. As it stands they are pretty much all gone now, a couple of tiny polyps remain but they are closed up tight and will no doubt soon fade away. I am at a loss as to why these particular zoanthids have not survived when my other 7 varieties appear to be doing well. It's very frustrating and I'm quite sad about it because they will be my first coral loss since I started up. I didn't even manage to take a picture of them when they were open to post here for posterity's sake.
The next loss is not so much of a mystery which makes it all the more maddening although I've only just put two and two together after the damage was done. The two new Red Spotted gobies (Trimma rubromaculatus) are indeed a male and female pair as I've noticed them "gettin' jiggy wit' it" on a number of occasions now. This is a lovely thing but unfortunately means that they don't want any fish swimming near their patch and sadly their patch appears to be the entire rear lower half of the tank. Now this just happens to be the same area that the Red Spot Cardinals (Apogon parvulus) like to hang out. I'd noticed recently that the Cardinals had taken to swimming at the top of the tank where the flow is quite brisk, This a bit odd for them and should have paid more attention to it. It all became clearer this morning as I watched one of them stray just a bit too low and was immediately and aggressively chased upwards by the larger of the two gobies (named Rocket which seems quite appropriate considering the response I witnessed). I'm sure you can guess where this story is going now, skip back to yesterday and one of the Cardinals sadly jumped out of the tank. I was working opposite at the time but did not realise what had happened until it was too late. I feel sure after what I observed this morning that it was being chased by one of the gobies, after all these fish hadn't shown any inclination to want to jump before the Red Spotted gobies were introduced. Sigh, another hard lesson learned, mixing different fish even really tiny ones in a small space is not an easy thing to do.
Now that I'm down to four Red Spot Cardinals I've noticed that they no longer shoal together. Two of them hang together in the back left-hand corner of the tank, the third swims alone in the back right-hand corner and the fourth, the smallest one, swims right out at the front of the tank. I must admit I do miss seeing them all together.
As for the Nudus gobies I've not got a clue what they are up to any more. They used to be out all day long but now they are mainly hidden underground doing goodness knows what. I wish I had X-ray vision so that I could see what they are doing. They are using the pistol shrimp's burrows; are they interacting with him at all? I would be nice to think that one day they might pair up but I can't see it happening at the moment
Will, the blue-legged hermit crab shed his exoskeleton this week which reminded me that it'd been a while since I added any new shells. As soon as I dropped in some larger accommodation he marched up to the nearest one, whipped his naked bum out of his old shell and moved into the new one. Has he no shame, lol! Here he is showing off his bright white new shell soon to be covered in coralline no doubt.
I noted in my June update that the Plexaurella sp. gorgonian had a damaged area on one of its branches. Well, a couple of days following that two more small damaged areas appeared and this time the gorgonin inside was exposed. The polyps then retracted completely. I waited for a week in the hope that it would miraculously recover but the polyps remained hidden and a layer of algae began to cover the branches. I decided then to take action and move the Plexaurella to a different area of the tank, if I left it where it was it would be a goner in no time at all. Finding a new location proved somewhat tricky as real estate in the tank is limited these days (ahem, what did I say about not over stocking my tank with corals!). In the end I decided to fix it close to where Acro #2 used to reside, it's not really an ideal spot long term, especially if the tiny remaining base of Acro #2 survives and sprouts new branches, but that's a problem for another day. Anyway I doubted that the gorgonian was going to make it but it appears I might be wrong. The following morning the polyps began to extend again and now 3 days later they are almost all back out again, it's not back to its previous fluffy glory but compared to how it looked before moving it's amazing. So was it a flow issue or a lighting issue? Or was the Seriatopora hystrix to blame, it was directly down flow of the Seri, maybe that was releasing some noxious substance that the gorgonian didn't like. Now I need to wait and see if the damaged areas can be recovered.
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.
What did I say about Jinxing the tank? Why, oh why, did I have to say that all the fish looked settled earlier on in the week?! That statement turned out to be the kiss of death because when I got up this morning one of the Red Spot Cardinalfish was gone. I checked carefully inside and outside of the tank for evidence of a body but couldn't find any. Yesterday it was absolutely fine, fat and healthy looking swimming along with its friends and today it's vanished. I can't say that I'm entirely surprised as I have read of this happening in many other reef tanks but after 7 trouble free weeks I was beginning to think that I was going to be lucky. There is a tiny voice at the back of my head shouting "but what if the Balanophyllia ate it?". I mean I add the coral and 3 days later a fish goes missing, what are the chances of that? I know it's unlikely but still I can't help but wonder. I really, really hope that I don't lose any more of my lovely Cardinals.
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.
I was just in the process of performing a water change when one of the Red Spot Cardinals spawned right in front of me!! The female released the most enormous packet of eggs where upon the male immediately took them into his mouth, it took several minutes for him to juggle them into position so that they all fit in. I really don't know how he did it, his mouth now looks fit to burst. To say that I was gobsmacked is a complete understatement, the fish have only been in the tank for six short days! This has to be one of the best days in my reef keeping journey so far.
I wished that I could have videoed the magical moment but I was busy siphoning water out of the DT, I'm surprised I didn't have a disaster whilst distracted. I will try to take a picture of the proud daddy in the next couple of days if I can, he's easy to spot with his bulging mouth.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!