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.
Another short video for today, time lapse this time. I recorded it just after the lunchtime fish feed when the lighting is whiter. The sun coral expands it's polyps a lot more in the early evening but the lighting is ramping down again (i.e. very blue) so difficult to capture.
Early morning on the reef (so it's really, really blue).
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.
Sorry for the lack of updates, there's a bumper one with video footage coming over the weekend (hopefully).
For now I just wanted to post a quick progress update on the baby Heliofungia actiniformis bud that I discovered last month. Now it has siblings! There are three in total (that I can see), the original one plus two more have developed either side of it. Nice!
The Heliofungia was looking a bit sorry for itself last week, it was that time of the month again, waste excretion, yum! The Yellow wrasse really enjoys this extra treat, lol! Is there anything that this fish won't eat? Anyway that's beside the point, under normal circumstances I only get to view the top of the coral but because it was a little deflated I could see part of the underside too. It has developed a baby with it's own mouth and ring of tentacles! Now I still consider this coral to be a baby itself although it has grown a lot since introduction, I am still waiting for it to detach from the rock and become free living. A quick bit of research showed me that Heliofungia do indeed asexually reproduce by budding on the underside of the skeleton. So cool, I love discovering new stuff!
When the tank hit one year old I sent off for another ATI ICP-OES analysis. The results of which are below.
Sooo, if it's not one thing it's another, last test the calcium level was a little low and now this time it's potassium. I don't currently own a potassium supplement and am debating whether I really need to order one now or not, I've never had to dose potassium before so it's a new one on me. The tin level is continuing to drop so that's one issue sorted and I seem to have hit on the right level of iodine dosing too. Nitrate and phosphate are still on the low side, I keep expecting them to rise as the tank gets older but there's not been much change yet. Despite this the coral growth is slow but steady and the colours are looking nice (well to my eyes they are at least) so I will continue as is for the moment.
A quick video clip taken today of a rare sighting of the two Tomiyamichthys nudus gobies together with the Red Spotted pistol shrimp (Alpheus rubromaculatus). Sorry the footage is a bit shaky but it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. If I'd have waited to set up my phone on the the tripod I'd have missed them entirely. These guys are too cool!
My tank is exactly a year old today! Wow, where has the time flown to? I've been a bit lax with the updates recently so there's lots to catch up on.
First lets get the bad news out of the way. I'm afraid that I've lost the lovely Tridacna maxima clam, it simply never thrived in my tank. Before adding it I carefully checked the shell looking for any nasty hitchhikers but I never found any. I must have missed some (or their eggs at least) as I started to notice some pyramid snails feeding on my precious Trochus and Turbo snails. Nooo! I checked the clam regularly at night with a flash light but never found any of the little devils feasting on it. After two and a half months it finally it became clear that the clam was doomed so I decided to remove it before pollution became an issue. I checked it over again when it was out of the tank and still couldn't find any pyramid snails on it. These guys are so small and clearly hide really well! Later on three teeny tiny ones did emerge from inside of the clam, it's hard to imagine that just three could have any impact on an animal so much larger than they but clearly over time they do. Unless of course the maxima was suffering from something else too?
At this point there's not much I can do about the pyramid snails, I am removing any that I see every day and I've become quite adept at spotting them now. On average I remove about 10 per day. The wrasse are sadly not eating them, come on guys I could really do with a helping hand here, sheesh earn your keep why don't you!! At least I haven't lost any of the snails yet and my original Tridacna crocea clam seems to be doing fine, it's laying down new shell so I take that to be a good sign for now.
The other blip on my reefing horizon is the Balanophyllia. It just doesn't look as good as it once did and I can't work out why. Am I feeding it too much or not feeding it enough? I had been offering it a piece of food once per day (at night), generally PE mysis, clam, Krill or lancefish, perhaps that wasn't enough to sustain it? So I decided to up the feedings to multiple times per day (anywhere between three up to a maximum of five a day) but this seemed to make no difference at all (in fact the coral looked a little worse) so now I'm trying less food. It's really frustrating because the sun coral is looking fantastic on a single feed per day.
Apart from the above everything else seems to be doing OK. The fish are all good, Rei the Yellow wrasse eats like a horse and is noticeably bigger. The best news is that my Tomiyamichthys nudus gobies have finally paired up with the Red Spotted pistol shrimp so I get to see them all much more now. The male goby still goes MIA every now and again but always resurfaces at some point. The gobies and pistol shrimp do not naturally associate together in the wild but I suspect they have done so in my tank because there are simply no other alternatives.
The corals are getting bigger and some are starting to get close to each other already, war is on the horizon I expect.
The zoanthids are spreading nicely especially the Utter Chaos, these are reproducing at a phenomenal rate and unfortunately over taking some of the original slower growing morphs. Whatever was afflicting the Red Tuxedo zoanthids seems to have subsided and I've not lost any more recently, I hope that's the end of that.
After a bit of a slow start the algae in the refugium has really got going now and the amount of life in there is incredible. It's amphipod, mysis shrimp and brittlestar heaven! Charlie the hitchhiking crab is alive and kicking and still growing. She was such a tiny thing when I first noticed her in the DT hanging out in the Seriatopora, now she's huge in comparison.
Life in the refugium.
Whenever I harvest any algae, I spend the following 30 minutes rescuing brittlestars from amongst the fronds. Well I can't just throw them out can I? It's easy to see how they are reproducing by division.
My first canister of ATI Carbo EX came to the end of its life in September, it lasted just over 3 months which I don't think is too bad. I have decided to continue with the CO2 scrubbing and have replaced it with a fresh cartridge.
Last week to celebrate the fact that the tank was approaching its first birthday I decided that some new additions were required. There was a gap (left by the T. maxima clam) that was just crying out to be filled. OK it didn't really need to be filled but what can I say, any excuse to shop for new corals.
I decided another encrusting Montipora sp. would do nicely and since it was likely to be the last addition (never say never tho) I wanted something special. I decided the Beach Bum (what a name!!) Montipora would contrast nicely with the three that I currently have. Since I was mail ordering from a fellow reefer I found I couldn't just buy the one coral so I ended up with frags of Hawkins Echinata (Acropora echinata) and a Sunrise Goniopora too. My name is Lisa and I'm a coral addict, lol!
Here they are on the sand awaiting fixing (squeezing!) in place.
Phew that was a marathon (are you still with me?) before I sign off I'll add a few more updated photos. After all who doesn't love a bit of eye candy?!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!