Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ant Hill

This morning I noticed I have something that looks like an ant hill in my tank. It is about 1/4 inch tall. All of the sand in the hill is white and algae-free. It's obviously fresh sand dredged up by a criter of some sort. Picnic anyone?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Flame is In and the Fire is Out

Yesterday the firefish started swimming around the tank in full view away from their bolt hole. They didn't stay out for hours at a time but they were out nonetheless. One of the fish ventured completely to the opposite side of the tank. So, it ended up taking about a week and a half for them to get comfortable. The yellow tang doesn't bother them anymore either.

I also added a Flame angelfish yesterday. It is such a beautiful fish I had to try it. It was still hiding behind the live rock this morning. I did get a glimpse of it. Some people say they are absolutely reef safe other say they are not. I'll see how it does in mine. Hopefully, it doesn't pick at my corals.

Many would say I am overpopulating my tank at this point. Perhaps I am. I am planning on setting up another tank this year that will be centered around a Picasso Trigger. My Blue or Yellow tang can eventually move into that tank. I tested nitrates last weekend and they were at 5ppm. Still nice and low.

There are two more fish I want to add to this tank. A Scooter Blenny and a Six Line Wrasse. I will wait several weeks before adding anything else and keep an eye on the nitrates in the process.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Somebody Stop Me

I went to my LFS to buy some food and have my water tested. I noticed that they had fire shrimp on sale for $29.99. I've seen these before for $55. Although I have always wanted one I didn't want one that badly. At $30 I wasn't leaving without one.

Symbiotic Relationships

One of the things in this hobby that fascinates me the most is the amount of symbiotic relationships that can be observed in the tank.

The example above is the cleaner shrimp and pretty much any fish. The fish allows the cleaner shrimp to eat parasites off of it. The shrimp gets a tasty meal.

Then there is the clown fish and anemone relationship. The clown fish gets protection from the anemone and the clown fish feeds the anemone food scraps. This isn't occurring in my tank but maybe it will some day.

Then, of course, there is the relationships between corals and the zooxanthellae algae that lives inside of them. The algae gets a place to live and the coral feeds off of the photosynthetic byproducts of the algae.

Probably the most basic relationship is between the denitrifying bacteria in the tank and the animals. The animals produce ammonia as waste which is then broken down to nitrite and later nitrate by bacteria in the tank. The bacteria get to thrive and in tern the animals get cleaned water and also thrive.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

How Much is the Dory Fish?

My 5 gallon bucket of Instant Ocean salt is running low so I decided to do some price shopping. I went to Petsmart and they had it for $48.99. I then went to Petco just down the street and had it for $62.99. What a rip off on salt. However, Petco does have a limited selection of saltwater fish so I decided to look around. Their fish are always much cheaper than the fish at the independent fish stores. I've always worried about the quality. Indeed, one of their yellow tangs looked absolutely awful.

They did have a small blue tang that looked remarkably healthy and was a very rich deep blue. For some reason these fish usually look absolutely terrible in the local fish stores. They are usually very pale with a white cast over the blue. For this reason I always told my kids we can't get one because they never look good. Rumor is these tend to be frequently caught using cyanide. I decided this one may be good enough to bring home. The only problem was the price wasn't marked anywhere. In fact they had lots of fish that didn't have prices. When I asked for assistance from the girl with no less than 8 piercings on her lips and nose she had to go get her boss. Her boss then came over and yelled to someone else and asked "How much is the Dory Fish?" It doesn't bother me when kids refer to species of fish as Dory and Nemo. It doesn't bother me when adults use these as the species names when talking to their kids. However, I draw the line at adult employees using these names when speaking to other adult employees at a pet store. They should know better. Call it a Blue Tang, call it a Regal Tang, call it a Blue Surgeonfish or Paracanthurus hepatus. But whatever you do, don't call it Dory. OK, my rant is over.

Whatever you want to call it I bought it for $34.99 and it's in my tank getting along with all of its tank mates. It's interesting to note that my yellow tang ignores it. Usually similar species will fight but the yellow tang isn't interested in the blue tang. He's much rather harass the fire fish which aren't tangs at all. Go figure.

So you may be thinking what did your kids say when they saw your new Blue Tang? You know the answer. "Dad you bought a Dory! Yeah."

More pictures

I'm posting these to help justify the purchase of our macro lens.

Cleaner Shrimp

Red Legged Hermit Crab

Yellow Tang

Fire Fish

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Yesterday I spotted what I think is a tiny starfish crawling across a rock. It is no bigger than the diameter of a pencil eraser. It is white with orange in the center. I took the best picture I could. It is in the center of the picture below. The starfish was partially obscured by a piece of rock in front of it.

The Firefish Have Emerged

Well kind of. They still spend most of their time in their evil lair. However they do emerge from time to time to display their colors and erect triggers. If the yellow tang is around it will chase them into their bolt hole.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Still in Hiding

My two firefish still are in hiding. I can see their heads sticking out from their cave every once in a while. They will occasionally stray a few inches from their cave but never for long. I try to send some food down their way and I've seen one grab a few specs of food but never a lot. I hope they are eating enough.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yesterday, I spotted what I think is a slug, Nudibranch or a flatworm in my tank. It is in the center of the picture below. It is gray with 3 or 4 black circles that are white in the middle. It didn't stay in this location for very long. I have no idea where it is now. Has anybody ever seen one of these before or know what it is?

A few days after this was originally posted I spotted another slug type thing. It looks different and was bigger. It's body is more visibly segmented in what look like plates.

The Torch is Lit but the Firefish are Hiding

Friday on the way home from work I stopped at Beyond the Reef in Schaumburg. My sister and Brother-in-law gave my a gift certificate for Christmas and it was burning a hole in my wallet. To put out the fire I purchased a Torch Coral frag. Here it is burning away in my tank.

I also purchased two Firefish. I can't publish my own photo here because they are in hiding. They were out and about for the first evening I put them in. However, I didn't see them yesterday until about 1:30 in the afternoon. Until I saw the first one I thought they had died. Perhaps prey to a Mantis Shrimp. I watched them bolt under a rock right at the substrate. They are still there. I occasionally see their heads emerge from their retreat. When they did come out yesterday they were chased around a bit. The Yellow Tang and Royal Gramma seemed to harass them the most.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wandering Anemone

My green bubble anemone has been wandering around the tank quite a bit lately. Every time I think it has settled down it decides to move. It had been opening really wide during the day to a diameter of about 10 inches. Then it decided to pack up and move. Just before it moved I had fed it some Formula one frozen food. Yes, I thawed it first. The next day there was some stringy black material coming out of its mouth and it wasn't fully open. I can only assume that this was anemone poop. Yes, anemones poop out of their mouths. Be thankful you're not an anemone. It then decided to start wandering around. For about a day it moved to the glass by my heater. Now it is back under a rock. It was a tucked into a ball last night. This morning it was open to a diameter of about 5 inches.

I have noticed that it tends to move after I feed it. I can take a hint. I'll stop feeding it and see what happens. They say if your anemone wanders its not happy. All my water parameters seem good so I don't know what to change. I'll leave it be and see what happens.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Dirty Bubble

I performed a water change this evening. In the process I decided it was time to remove the bubble algae infesting a piece of my live rock. I noticed a few pieces of bubble algae on the rock right after I bought it. I left it because I thought it added diversity and looked kind of cool. The emerald crab I purchased to keep it under control wouldn't touch the stuff. From pictures I've seen on the web I'm guessing that the species of bubble algae on the rock was Valonia Macrophysa. I placed the infested rock in a bucket full of water I just removed from the tank. I did this to keep the coralline algae and any desirable critters on the rock alive.

The algae grows in clusters and was a lot firmer than I imagined it would be. Supposedly, the large bubble pieces are full of spores so I needed to be as careful as possible to avoid breaking open the bubbles. I then started picking off the bubble algae. Some pieces came off in chunks very easily.

Then suddenly it happened. I got squirted in the eye. Now, you probably have never been squirted in the eye by the reproductive spores of an algae before. Let me tell you it wasn't very pleasant. I now also had a bucket full of spores ... allegedly. So, what was I supposed to do?

Beats me. I decided to leave the rock in the bucket of water for now. I can't put it back in the tank as is since I would risk contaminating the rest of the tank. Plus there are small colonies all over that rock. The rock was a really nice weighing about 8 lbs and had a lot of surface area. Lots of branches of former coral skeleton. It probably cost close to $50. However, if I put it back in the tank I risk an infestation and a much bigger loss.

What have I learned? Once you see even one bubble remove it! Don't wait and see if it will stay under control because chances are it won't.

For now, I'll leave it in the bucket until Mermaidman and Barnacleboy show up to defeat The Dirty Bubble. Or, I can think of something else to try.

Like a Frightened Turtle

A while ago I reported that my Xenia was not looking that great. Its polyps were shrinking in both length and girth. After making sure my water temperature wasn't too cold I decided to start dosing my tank with iodine. I'm using Kent Marine Tech*I. I've been dosing with three cap-fulls every Sunday for the last three Sundays. I'm glad to report that my Xenia is once again living up to its full potential. It has a certain spring in its sway and is beginning to pulse again. I guess iodine really does work. I don't think I need to call a marine biologist if the polyps remain full for more than three hours though.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Big Picture

It's been a while since I posted pictures of the tank in its entirety. So, here is a picture along with some closer, but not macro, shots. I have also included a picture of the tank the first week it was set up almost three months ago. In today's pictures you can see the coralline algae growing in patches on the filter lift tubes and the back glass. You can also see that the back glass has taken on a green hue. This is algae that I just let grow on the back. It's a pain to remove plus it serves as a food source for the snails and the tang. The rocks have purpled up quite nicely with additional coralline growth. It's interesting comparing today's picture with the picture of the sterile brand new tank taken three months ago.

Also, my green bubble anemone decided to move to the front of the tank for all to see. It had been hanging out in the back of the live rock near the left filter lift tube. It moved overnight to its new location a few days ago. Unfortunately, in its new location it partially obscures the rock with the Christmas tree worms. However, that rock can easily be moved.

Today - January 13, 2008

October 17, 2007

January 13, 2008

January 13, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I gave my wife a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 macro lens for Christmas. I decided to get the tripod out and take some fish tank pictures today. It is rather difficult, actually, to take close up pictures. The lens must be at a 90 degree angle with the tank glass otherwise the picture comes out distorted. I hope you enjoy these pictures.

Christmas Tree Worms

Xenia Coral

Open Brain Coral

Open Brain Close-up

Open Brain Close-up

Mushroom Anemone

Star Polyps

Bubble Algae

This bubble algae is really starting to colonize a piece of live rock. I'll have to try to remove it soon.

Cleaner Shrimp

Green Bubble Anemone

I am sponge-worthy

I have a white sponge growing on one of my live rocks. I've noticed it growing over the last few weeks. At least I think it's a sponge. You never know what you are going to get growing out of your live rock. Kind of like a box of chocolates that way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Blue-Legged Horseshoe Worm

I noticed today that my horseshoe / Christmas tree worm living on a shell was on the opposite side of the tank where I last saw it. I has been moving around a bit. Since it was near the front glass I assumed that I was hitting it with my magnet cleaner. However, today when I saw it it was far away from the glass. It turns out that a hermit crab has moved into the shell. So now this feathery worm is mobile.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Emerald Crab Molted again

I forgot to report that over the weekend I noticed another emerald crab shell. My crab molted again. The last time I noticed it had molted was November 18'th, about 1 1/2 months ago. It may have molted before but I never noticed it. It definitely looks bigger than it did when I purchased it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Picked my Brain

Today I purchased an open brain coral. It is mostly green in color with five large polyps. I just added it to the tank after acclimating it. The polyps aren't fully open yet but I took a picture anyway.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Closer Look

Usually we tend to look at things as a whole. In the case of a yellow tang someone would notice it is of course yellow. They would also notice that its height is about the same as its length making it have a very different appearance from many other fish which tend to be slender. They may also notice the white scalpel at the base of the tail. But how many people look closer. Just take a look at this macro picture of my yellow tang's tail. The pattern of rays fanning out to the end is simply stunning. It makes me want to look closely at everything I come across in day-to-day life.