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.
It's only taken me 4 months but I have finally managed to snap a shot of Gordon the Whitecap goby. It's not much of a shot but believe me it's waaaayyy better than anything else I've managed to take to date. At least he is recognisable as a fish and not just a white blob that could easily be mistaken for a grain of sand, lol!
He's a lot bolder these days and I generally get to see him and Al, his pistol shrimp buddy every day. They are most active towards the end of the day when the lights are going down but I do see Al (or more accurately Al's antennae and claws) at every feeding time. I don't really know what Gordon is eating, I occasionally see him take cyclops/Calanus and even a small pieces of Mysis if Al doesn't get to them first. I also see him strike at 'stuff' unearthed by the shrimp's digging activities so he must be finding tiny crustaceans to eat as well. Most of the time when when the rest of the fish are fed he's nowhere to be seen.
Now I just need to get a decent shot of Al too, this was the one and only shot from tonight's session. I'm embarrassed to post it, but hey you can tell there's a fish and a pistol shrimp in the shot right? :o)
I'll start with the 'red bug' coral first (Acro #2), it remains parasite free and is starting to extend its polyps again. It still needs to regain some colour but I'm sure that it will improve given time.
The Acropora that is suffering from blisters (Acro #3) looks about the same or maybe a little worse. It's still extending its polyps so it's really quite perplexing.
I performed as many water tests as I could last week in the hopes of picking up some obvious imbalance. The results were as follows:
Specific Gravity: 1.026
Iodide: <0.01ppm, Iodate/iodine: <0.03ppm
In the light of the results I have upped my KH/Ca/Mg dosing (again) as I've noticed a small downward trend now that there are more corals (plus a clam) in the tank. I have also begun to dose a small amount of Lugol's iodine every 3 days. I realise the Strontium level is low too but I want to retest that before deciding on a course of action. It was my first time using that particular test kit and, oh my, what a faff it was! I really hope I don't have to test for Strontium levels too often.
As for the gobies, they are endlessly fascinating and completely annoying at the same time. Poor old Gordon the Whitecap goby was chased out onto the sand by one of the T. nudus gobies (the darker one called Skip, who I've actually now renamed to Psycho Goby) for two nights on the trot. I know I wanted to see a bit more of him but not like that. He was swimming all over the tank, I feared I'd find him sucked over the weir or mangled by one of the powerheads the following morning. Fortunately on the evening of the third day of torment Al, the pistol shrimp finally reappeared. Had he been shedding and had gone into hiding for a few days as a consequence? Anyway he is back together with Gordon and they (well he certainly is but I've not seen Gordon since Friday) are now residing under the far right hand side of rockwork, keeping out of the way of Psycho Goby if they know what's good for them.
So now the T. nudus gobies are back in their old cave again and have taken over the pistol shrimp's old burrows. They do seem to have undergone a personality transplant which I think can only mean one thing, they are getting ready to breed (again?). Skip (AKA Psycho Goby) vanished into the cave late last week and was not seen for a day or so and now for the last two days Hop has remained hidden in the cave. From this behaviour and what I've witnessed before I am assuming that Skip is female and Hop is male. Poor old Hop is not allowed out of the cave now even to eat. At feeding time Skip snags loads of food, as bold as brass but Hop is simply not allowed to. He does appear at the cave entrance (only at feeding time though) but is promptly chased back in by Skip, she has become really quite aggressive towards him. At the last feed yesterday when she discovered his head popping out she turned really pale (almost white in fact), opened her mouth wide in a clear threat posture and chased him back in again. I guess his job now is to guard the eggs and nothing else lol! Clearly well and truly under 'the fin'. The only way to know if my assumptions are correct is to watch for the release of fry, I don't know how long goby eggs take to develop or at what time they normally hatch out. I expect it's most likely after lights out so I will be waiting with a torch in hand hoping to spot them.
Things have been pretty settled on the fish front recently but today that all changed, trouble brewing on the goby front. This morning I discovered both the T. nudus gobies sitting right outside the pistol shrimp's main burrow entrance, I've not seen this behaviour before. As the day progressed I actually observed them popping in and out of all the shrimp's burrow entrances/exits, something was certainly amiss here! There was no sign of the pistol shrimp or his Whitecap partner but they've gone missing before so I was not overly worried. That was until the afternoon, when Gordon the Whitecap goby suddenly popped right out of a hole in front of me. I mean the whole fish, not just the head but the whole body and tail too, I would have been beyond excited if it were not for the fact that he'd been chased out of the hole by one of the nudus gobies. What the...?! Where was his pistol shrimp buddy?? The Whitecap is such a timid fish, he's completely lost without his pistol pal. The lights are off now and he's been chased out on to the sand again. This is not good and I'm seriously worried about the whereabouts of the pistol shrimp. Has he died, perhaps through an unsuccessful moulting? If that's the case then I doubt Gordon will survive long without him. I really hope there's another explanation to the shrimp's absence and that he'll resurface again very soon.
On a lighter note I discovered two Stomatella sp. snails cruising about the tank in the last couple of days. I spotted one on the shell of the T. crocea clam when it was introduced but obviously there must have been two. Some good freebie hitchhikers at last!
The new corals have been fixed in place and are looking great, I just hope I can keep them looking as good. I had to move the Lobophyllia as Lurch the conch kept barging past it and knocking it over, it's well away from the Acanthastrea now so there'll definitely be no coral warfare between those two.
Also, and try not to laugh too much, but I managed to take a quick video of Gordon the Whitecap goby and Al, his pistol shrimp partner. Al had decided to rework the 'wall' yet again giving me the best chance of capturing them on camera. Unfortunately I had to position the camera downwards to see into the hole so there is some glass distortion and I've never taken a video in my life so there's that, lol! Still you can see that they are alive and doing their thing.
Whitecap goby & Pistol shrimp
I'm happy to report that the Whitecap goby is fine. The pistol shrimp seems to have settled down in one area now (fingers crossed it stays there) and pretty much every time I feed the tank the same hole opens up and it's relatively easy to drop a bit of food down there. Unfortunately the pistol seems to snag all the food, I didn't see the goby get any at all yesterday. Do pistol shrimps share food with their goby partners I wonder? I'm betting not. At this rate I'm certainly going to have the fattest Red Spotted pistol shrimp ever.
Today I haven't observed so much shrimp activity, it's probably digesting all that food from yesterday, lol. Anyway I tried feeding one last time just now and the Whitecap definitely got a nice sized chunk of mysis after I'd distracted the shrimp with it's own piece of food.
I'm also pleased to say that the T. nudus gobies have abandoned their hunger strike now. I don't see them as much as I used to when they lived in the cave which is a shame. They are now hanging out on the far right-hand side of the rockwork along with Candy the Trimma cana goby. They all seem to get along fine which is good. I need to try and get a photo of the three amigos together but every time I approach with the camera they vanish like lightning into a hole in the rockwork.
As expected, the hole had not reappeared at the front when I got up on Saturday morning, however some other serious sand moving had taken place overnight. I guess the T. nudus gobies will not be moving back into their cave anytime soon because it no longer exists, it’s been totally filled in with sand. I now refer to it as the wall and not the cave. I may not be able to actually see the pistol shrimp much but it’s certainly making it’s presence known within the tank.
When it came to the first feed of the day to my very great surprise as soon as food hit the water a crater appeared in the sand just in front of the wall and a claw popped out, how very, very convenient! I was able to drop a piece of mysis right into the hole whereupon it quickly vanished. I dropped another piece in hoping to catch a quick glimpse of the Whitecap but sadly I did not. The view is not the best as you have to peer at an angle down through the glass again and the burrow vanishes under the rocks but still I’ll take that. I hope he stays put and works on it some more. I am hoping to be treated to views of the goby hovering at the lip of the burrow with the pistol in constant contact with his antennae hard at work shovelling sand. Ha, we’ll see! Sadly at the moment the hole does not remain open very long, the movement of the conch and other members of the clean up crew fill it in very quickly.
I managed to get brief glimpses of the shrimp at later feeding times but nothing of the Whitecap. This morning the same thing happened at feeding time, the ‘sinkhole’ reopened and a claw appeared at the bottom, but where is the fish?! I need to see the fish too just for my peace of mind, I hope he’s still OK in there.
Right, on to other reefing matters. I decided to whip out the algae magnet this morning and give the glass a much needed clean, I’ve only done it once since the pistol and goby pair were introduced in the hopes of allowing them time to settle. Anyway a layer of algae had built up allowing the copepods to flourish. There were literally hundreds of them! I actually felt bad squishing them with the algae magnet. Edna clearly needs some help eating them. Anyway it was at that time when I was taking extra care not to pick up any grains of sand and scratch the glass when I something new caught my eye. An Aiptasia!! Sitting there brazenly ‘growing’ out the the sand bed. Where on earth had that suddenly come from?! OK, I’ve only added two sets of corals, the first coral came with zoanthid munching nudibranchs, now the second with Aiptasia. I can’t wait to see what’s going to arrive with the next lot, planaria or a Eunice worm perhaps?? Now that's something to look forward to, rofl!
Well my wonderful view of the Whitecap goby and pistol shrimp partner has been somewhat short-lived. Lurch the conch came bulldozing over their newly constructed burrow this morning and proceeded to fill it in whilst performing his routine clean-up duties. Normally I'm thrilled to see him cruising around keeping the sand clean looking but not today. Doesn't he realise that area is now off limits? I'm betting the shrimp will be burrowing somewhere else tonight, somewhere that I can't see I'm sure. :o(
Talking of clean-up duties my eldest recorded a time-lapse video of the tank with his GoPro Hero4. At that time the tank just contained snails and a couple of hermits. I feel exhausted just from watching how busy the 'crew' are, they work so hard.
Breaking news, both fish and pistol shrimp are alive!! I am so overjoyed that I feel the need to crack open a bottle of bubbly right now to celebrate and it's all over a fish less that a couple of centimetres long. My family think I have finally lost all my marbles.
After my posting yesterday I heard a single shot from the tank so I was fairly confident that the pistol was still alive and then this morning I discovered a new hole had appeared in the sand right in front of the rock pile. He couldn't have picked a better spot really because if I peer down at an angle I can partially see into the burrow. After a few minutes peering into the hole I thought I saw some movement, a pale object that could have been the fish but equally could have been the shrimp. Looking through glass at an angle really distorts objects and before long spots were starting to dance before my eyes. I could have been staring at a bit of sand wafting in the flow for all I knew, lol! Anyway I decided to pull myself away and prepare the first meal of the day, a delicious mixture of PE mysis, Omega-3 brineshrimp, cyclops and Calanus. I was in two minds as to whether I should try and drop food directly into the hole or not in case I scared whatever it was in there away. In the end the need to know was too great and I gently pipetted some food towards the hole. As luck would have it a small piece of mysis stuck in the sand on the lip of the hole, shortly after that a beautiful Whitecap goby poked it's head out and ate it. I also saw the antennae of the shrimp. Boy, am I a very happy reefer today. :o)
Sadly there's still nothing much to report on the new fish and shrimp additions. I've not seen the Whitecap since Monday night when it came out and swam around after the lights went out. I did add another dose of live copepods last night in the hope that they might tempt the fish out to eat, but no joy. I can't deny that I am fearing the worst for the little fish now. With regards to the shrimp I did catch a tantalising glimpse of an antenna poking out of a tiny hole at the base of a rock on Tuesday morning, it was a blink and you could have missed it moment. Gosh, what I wouldn't give for x-ray vision right then (and indeed now!!). Who knows what's going on underneath those rocks? The shrimp has been oddly silent since the first night and there's not much in the way of observable digging activities either. Having said that a hole has re-appeared in the sand at the back of the right-hand rock pile today which I can only assume is the pistol shrimp's handiwork. Unfortunately there was a T. nudus goby sitting at the top of the hole and not the much longed for Whitecap, argh!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!