SPS and How to Keep Them

Posted by on Nov 6, 2017 in Blog, Josh M | Comments Off on SPS and How to Keep Them

SPS and How to Keep Them Written by Josh Maxwell               SPS (Small Polyp Stony) corals are some of the most beautiful corals to keep in a reef tank.  They have amazing coloration and growth patterns that liven up any aquarium.  However they are among the most difficult corals to care for and that air of difficulty surrounding them makes reefers who would aspire to keep them reluctant to try their first frag.  As a reefer who pulled the trigger on keeping SPS and absolutely loves them I’ll attempt to help would be SPS keepers learn the basic ins and outs of keeping these amazing corals.              Most SPS corals that are seen in the hobby are native to the Indo-pacific region of the world in shallow waters surrounding islands and coasts such as Indonesia, Australia, Fiji, etc.  Stony corals in general are important ecologically as they make up the very foundation on which the reef itself is built with their calcium carbonate skeletons.  The structures that these invertebrates build are essential safe havens for many species of fish and invertebrates.  In the  hobby, SPS represent the highest tier of care for most reef keepers.  They are in some cases very demanding to care for but are very rewarding when successfully grown in an aquarium. (See all photo credits at the end of article.)             The question now is how to keep them.  SPS, in general, are found in shallow water reefs in the wild, where there is abundant sun light and flow from the crashing waves at the surface.  As such when these corals are kept in a reef aquarium they require strong light and strong flow.  Lighting can be provided by LEDs such as Ecotech radions and AI Hydras, or through T5 lights.  Flow can be provided by any strong powerhead such as Ecotech vortech pumps, or sicce voyagers.  Flow is important because as SPS colonies grow they can collect detritus in their structures and if left unchecked can actually kill tissue in certain areas if not swept out by adequate flow.  Filtration is extremely important for keeping healthy SPS.  Nitrates and phosphates need to be kept to a minimum as they can irritate SPS tissues, phosphates especially hinder skeletal growth on SPS.  Filtration should include an adequate protein skimmer as well as the use of chemical media like GFO (granular Ferric Oxide) to remove phosphates specifically.              It’s not just about what you remove from your tank, its also about what you add to keep your corals healthy.  SPS require the addition of calcium, magnesium, and carbonate (alkalinity) continuously so that they may build their skeletons.  Levels are as follows for optimal health and growth; calcium at 400-450 ppm, magnesium at 1400-1450 ppm, and an alkalinity of 8-12 dKH.  This is typically done in two ways.  The first is the use of a calcium reactor which uses carbon dioxide to break down aragonite into calcium and alkalinity to be used by your corals.  The other method is to use a dosing pump which adds certain amounts of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium at certain times.  Organic elements need to be introduced as well.  I prefer using both planktonic foods and liquid foods.  SPS are quite capable of catching small planktonic organisms and benefit from target feeding. ...

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Species Spotlight- Polypteriformes

Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Blog, Cameron | Comments Off on Species Spotlight- Polypteriformes

Species Spotlight – Polypteriformes by Cameron McMath   The longest river in the world, The Nile is home to an abundance of diverse and interesting species of wildlife. In an otherwise arid, dry climate many African organisms are dependent on The Nile for water and vital habitat, one such being the archaic Polypteriformes (polypterus and rope fish). Polypteriformes is an order of Actinopterygii found only in tropical African waters comprising of the bichirs and ropefish. At first glance the polypterus may seem ancient and rudimentary, and indeed they do come from a time period more than sixty million years ago, however it poses a surprising number of interesting qualities. Adapted to survive in murky, hypoxic (low oxygen) environments, this peaceful predator possesses a number of advantageous traits including a keen sense of smell, as well as a modified swim bladder that allows them to gulp oxygen from the surface of the water. With thick ganoid scales and elongated bodies their snake-like appearance makes them a favourite for oddball tanks.   Juvenile Polypterus palmas   Tank Setup Housing these reptilian-like creatures is rather simple, provided one has an adequate tank size and set up. While many polypterus are bought relatively small, it is important to keep in mind their potential for growth. Some of the smaller species such as the palmas and retropinnis grow to around a foot in length, whereas the behemoths like the endlicheri congicus can get as long as a whopping thirty-nine inches (three feet in length!) in the wild. Being that both the bichir and the ropefish are benthic (bottom dweller) organisms, they do require a tank with adequate width and length so as to maneuver and search for their food. Lighting for these creatures is not too big a concern, as the polypterus eyesight tends to be poor. They hunt using two elongated sensory nostrils to detect prey or scraps for an impromptu meal, and due to their poor eyesight must literally scrounge around the bottom of the tank until they are right on top of their food. Younger poly’s may be kept in smaller tank sizes, provided of course that their tankmates can’t fit in their mouth, however fully grown specimens will need to be housed in a minimum of 60 gallons with larger tank sizes are preferred for the polypterus to live comfortably. Predators tend to add a greater bioload to the tank, so it is important to make sure tank filtration is adequate or over filtered preferably. As far as water chemistry goes, the polypterus is a rather hardy fish. Thriving in tropical water parameters (neutral ph, 78-80 Farenheit), they are also very tolerant of cooler temperatures and poor water quality as aforementioned their wild lifestyle often dictates adapting to available water conditions.   Adult Polypterus ornatipinnis   Compatibility While polypteriformes are considered peaceful predators, their potential for growth and predatory status can make them tankbusters. When planning suitable tankmates it is important to make sure other fish cannot fit in the mouth of the bichirs. Other large fish make good companions provided they are not too aggressive and do not require any extreme water parameters. Some examples of good combinations with the bichir include certain arowanas, larger species of catfish, larger schooling fish such as lemonfin barbs, and certain peaceful cichlids...

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3 Interesting Synodontis Catfish That Won’t Get Bigger Than 8 Inches

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in Blog, Kristen R | Comments Off on 3 Interesting Synodontis Catfish That Won’t Get Bigger Than 8 Inches

  3 Interesting Synodontis Catfish That Won’t Get Bigger Than 8 Inches by Kristen Rigolizzo                     “Typical” catfish have an iconic and endearing appearance that’s hard not to visualize. Long whiskers, strange body shapes, and (often) cute faces make them hard to resist for some aquarists. However, many aquarists also know how big some catfish can get – and how quickly their tankmates can disappear.                 Fortunately, we carry catfish of many sizes and shapes. Synodontis, a genus of African catfish, includes many small to medium-sized species with beautiful appearances. Synodontis cats are found all over central Africa, form the Congo River and western streams to the rift lakes in the east. Most Synodontis sold at Absolutely Fish stay below 8 inches in length. Here are three examples of unique Synodontis cats that won’t outgrow popular freshwater aquarium sizes and won’t get big enough to eat most tankmates:                   The Upside-down Cat (Synodontis nigriventris):                 The upside-down cat is probably the most well-known catfish on this list. They are squat in shape and only reach about 3-4”. This catfish is adorable both in looks and personality. They are famous for their strange swimming behavior; they swim mostly upside-down. Originating from rivers of western Africa, they do best in peaceful aquariums at a minimum size of 20gal and a pH range of 6.0-7.5. Be sure to include hiding spots for these little guys and some friends too. They are least shy when other upside-down cats are present.                   The Cuckoo Cat (Synodontis multipunctatus):                 This attractive cat reaches 5-6” maximum length and, endemic to Lake Tanganyika, requires a high pH (7.8-9.0). The cuckoo catfish is named for its breeding tactic know as brood parasitism, made famous by cuckoo birds. The cats take advantage of mouth brooding cichlids’ good parenting by tricking their cichlid hosts into incubating their eggs for them. As a result, they are relatively easy to breed in captivity. The cuckoo cat is perfect for any African cichlid tank of minimum size 40gal, so long as you provide enough places to hide. This is another cat that does best in groups.                   Angel Catfish or Angelicus Cat (Synodontis angelicus)                 S. angelicus is probably the rarest catfish on this list and has an unforgettably beautiful appearance. This fish originates from the Congo River, and accordingly does best in soft water with lots of plants (but can do well in a wide range of pH: 6.0-8.0). This is a great unique fish for a peaceful aquarium, but reaches about 8”, so a tank of minimum size 55 gal should suffice for a full-size adult. Here’s a bonus: Angel cats will pick at algae as well as any sinking food you drop in the tank.                   The above cats easily accept sinking pellets, frozen/freeze dried treats, and flakes. These are just three of many amazing Synodontis species available at Absolutely Fish. Come in any time to ask about our Synodontis cats; our staff is always happy to show you what’s in stock and how to care for...

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Stingrays for sale in New Jersey

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in Blog, Cedes Militante, Thomas Tarkazikis | Comments Off on Stingrays for sale in New Jersey

Stingrays for sale in New Jersey

Stingrays for sale in New Jersey by: Thomas Tarkazikis   Perhaps the jewel of our freshwater department, our freshwater stingray tank has been known to turn heads. Many customers are captivated by these misunderstood fish and have questions on how to properly care for them. Stingrays are extraordinary animals with personality of iconic identity however; people are usually deterred from purchasing them because of the size, difficulty in care and cost of the animal.             About Rays/Behavior: Freshwater Stingrays can be found in parts of Asia and the Americas. In our store and throughout the hobby, the Stingrays we see in home aquariums are almost entirely indigenous to Parts of South America throughout the Amazon and connected basins. They are true to their name in that they have the potential to sting! Their tail is equipped with a serrated barb covered in a sac of tissue filled with venom. As the serrated barb impales its victim it tears open the venom filled sac and releases venom into the wound it creates when it stings. The wound can range from very painful to a serious injury/infection and should receive immediate medical attention. Typically they do not sting! Stingrays are intelligent fish and learn their environment well over time and become very used to or even “friendly” with their owners. They are Predators and will try to engulf smaller fish but their barb is a last resort defense against something harming them. It is extremely unlikely that they will sting their owner; typically it only occurs when they are stepped on in the wild. In the home aquarium, owners should be cautious while cleaning the tank not to bump into them as they may be out of sight, buried in sand. I would recommend approaching them with caution, especially new arrivals that are getting used to the tank and their owners hands in it. After a number of weeks in captivity, they become more accustom to people and can even be taught to be hand fed in many cases.             Water Quality: Stingrays have high standards for Water Quality and their size and appetite can make that difficult to maintain. Stingrays are not great first fish, they are very much like discus in terms of water quality. They prefer a tank with softer, more acidic water. This can be difficult to maintain, most people have harder water coming out of their faucet with a ph of 7.4-7.8. There are several products on the market to help achieve a lower ph and softer water but are not always stable. Powder buffers can lower the ph of tap water temporarily but should be tested in the days following as the ph can climb back up sometimes overnight. With rays collected from the wild, a stable ph of 6.5-7.0 is ideal to get them eating and accustom to the tank. Using a ratio of a quarter to a half R.O. water to tap water, most people will end up with a stable ph and hardness in that ideal range. Many of the stingrays we are starting to receive now are bred in captivity and born in water with a ph of 7.2-7.4 and do not require a lower ph. Eventually, even a once wild ray can be acclimated to ph in that range. They...

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Live foods to buy, New Jersey

Posted by on Sep 12, 2017 in Blog, Cedes Militante, Education, Freshwater Fish, Heather H, News, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Live foods to buy, New Jersey

Live foods to  buy, New Jersey

What should you feed your picky aquatic eaters?   by: Heather H. Live foods must be chosen with care. In good condition, live foods can add to aquariums fishes’ diet as they contain fresh, active ingredients that can aid in digestion. Additionally, they tend to stimulate the innate feeding responses of a fish and can sometimes trigger breeding behaviors. However, certain live foods can cause needless problems like poor water quality, unbalanced diets, and even certain serious health issues. Below I have listed some common live foods you can use in freshwater and saltwater aquariums: Adult Brine Shrimp: Artemia spp. – As brine shrimp grow to adulthood, their nutritional value diminishes greatly. They are great aid in getting stubborn, picky eaters to start eating, but they should be enriched before feeding. You can use anything from spiralina powder, Selcon (or ay product containing omega-3 fatty oils), Cyclop-eeze, or even crushed up flakes. For best results, fortify the brine shrimp for 8-10 hours before feeding to the aquarium. Always suggest that the customer rinse the brine shrimp before feeding to their animals. Black Worms: Lumbriculus variegatus – In the wild these worms will anchor themselves to the substrate, but in the container we keep them in, they anchor to each other creating a ball. They are high in protein and can help induce breeding behavior in a number of aquarium fish (aka conditioning). Another good treat, but be sure to tell the customer to wash them at least once daily. Ghost Shrimp: Palaemonetes spp. –These little guys can be quite irresistible for aquarium animals. They are herbivores that live in rocky stretches in both fresh and brackish waters (some prefer it). They are an excellent live food that ca also be gut loaded. I feel these to the little cat sharks to stimulate them to eat frozen. It usually works. Feeder Fish: Roseys, Guppies, Goldfish – For certain predatory fish in captivity, this is one of the only things they will eat. For the average aquarium, feeder fish should only ever be considered as an occasional treat and should not become a steady diet. They lack fatty acid that many fish need to stay healthy and can be very messy (causing ammonia spikes). This course does not include every live food available, but you should be able to find these items at your local store. Ask a trained Aquarist to help you select the right food for your aquarium. Good luck in your feeding endeavors!    ...

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Octopus Vulgaris (Common Octopus)

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Blog, Education, Ryan S | Comments Off on Octopus Vulgaris (Common Octopus)

Octopus Vulgaris (Common Octopus)

Octopus Vulgaris (Common Octopus) by Ryan Sickles The Vulgaris Octopus is a very wide-spread all over the Atlantic Ocean. This kind of cephalopod can be found from the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic areas to the Indo-Pacific regions. They generally inhabit shallow water going only as far down as as 200 meters. Something special about the Vulgaris is that it can regulate its body temperature to whatever ambient temperature is. however, they thrive best in 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. These magnificent creatures can move swiftly along the shaded, rocky outcrop areas of the reef where the food source is convenient and hiding places are plentiful. These hiding places are needed to help the animal rest and restore its energy for the next hunt. Like most other cephalopods, the octopus enjoys snacking on many different crustaceans like crab, lobster, snails, and clams.  Occasionally, even small fish that would pose as prey along the reef are an acceptable meal for this brilliant species. The Vulgaris Octopus is well-known for its bulging head, eight arms, and hundreds of tube-feet. These wonderful animals have a very complex respiratory system. When they gomobile and hover over the rocks, their oxygen intake increases by two and a half times as much of that of a resting octopus. But it cannot ho9ld its oxygen intake levels that high for too long. Eventually, the octopus would need rest and re-circulate as much oxygen and blood as it can without over-exhausting itself. Due to all that blood pumping just to get around, the octopus has a short lifespan. Females can lay 120k – 400k eggs,  but will die after hatching the last embryo. The eggs that she hides and buries are legacies of her heir. She will starve for months without eating while protecting he eggs. These eight armed fellows are masters of the art of escaping. In case a predator was to come along and try to strike, the octopus has the ability to wedge and/or squeeze into tight and intricate spaces. Whether it be a hollowed rock or a long, thin pipe from shipwreck, the octopus can maneuver through just about any complicated spot. Having no vertebrate or any inner shell is the unique part of being an octopus. They can also escape out of almost any aquarium that is not secured tightly enough. The octopus is a smart enough animal to participate in: lifting glass canopies, squeezing through overflows, intake pipes and climbing right out of the tank. Want to learn more about how to keep an octopus? Stop into the Absolutely Fish to hear the stories and witness the elegant animal in an enclosed ecosystem. Be sure to also ask about our other varieties of octopus species like the Mimic, the Atlantic Pygmy or the Bimac...

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An Aquatics Shop So Exclusive

Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Blog, Education, Patrick D | Comments Off on An Aquatics Shop So Exclusive

An Aquatics Shop So Exclusive

9 out of 10 fish cannot get in… By D. Patrick Donston   The aquatic animals you purchase are important to us. This is why we diligently research and inspect all of our suppliers we source. We evaluate and grade every livestock shipment. We utilize monthly data to record a yearly assessment for each vendor. We confirm they adhere to appropriate facility standards, which includes qualified staffing, packing, transport and acclimation. Harvesting, farming and handling must be covered by collection, fishing and holding standards. Whereas skilled divers collect to order, using non-destructive collection methods, aqua-farms must be operated by trained professionals who utilize proper husbandry protocols with environmentally sound irrigation techniques. We believe the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the trade are important to hobbyists, conservation and government agencies alike. As well; “healthy organisms handled, quarantined, and transported properly ensure an aquarist’s success”. Subpar suppliers operate on low budgets and cut corners to make a profit. The animals pay the price with negative environmental impact. An end consumer may feel good about the “cheap price”, although most of us actually find value in an exotic animal. We treasure these animals and feel privileged to keep them in our care. We understand cost is reflective of the conservation value to the global socioeconomic state of the animal’s region. We’ve been asked many times why we do not get certain fish from particular regions or suppliers. The reason may be sustainability or valid operators whom we cannot justify. As trite as this may sound, it’s true… and we believe it’s important, when in fact we turn many soliciting-suppliers away each year because they do not meet our standards. We do our very best to bring in only quality fish from expert supply chains. Because it’s important to us as well as you; “You might say we only house exclusive fish”. In fact so exclusive, 9 out of 10 can’t get in…...

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Unique Freshwater Fish for Sale- The Four-eyed Fish

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in Blog, Education, Freshwater Fish, Mercedes C, News | Comments Off on Unique Freshwater Fish for Sale- The Four-eyed Fish

Unique Freshwater Fish for Sale- The Four-eyed Fish

The Four-Eyed Fish by Mercedes Calabro The Anableps anableps is an incredibly adaptable freshwater fish. Part of the order Cyprinodontiformes, it is related to killifish and livebearers sharing a specialized organ called a gonopodium. Females max out around ten inches and the males reach around seven inches. Anableps are found in tidal waters along the South American coastline, the Gulf of Paria, and the Amazon. In these tidal conditions, their adapted eyes come in handy. Anableps have two eyes on each side of their head that sit on top of one another and allow an extended field of vision while they search for food. During low tide sneak up on small insects and crabs using the set of eyes above water and launch themselves out of the water to grab their prey. When the tide rises they use the lower set to find small fish, snails, and amphipods (microscopic scavengers) below the surface. Anableps are fairly hardy. They need large, preferably shallow, tanks with brackish water and enjoy both open spaces to swim and built up rocks and driftwood to rest on near the surface of the water. Based on the variability of their natural habitats they can handle a pH anywhere from 7.5 up to 9.0 and like the typical tropical water temperature of seventy eight degrees. Based on the size of the tank and how many fish are present, a strong filter is needed (canister filters work well) as they produce a lot of waste.                 Anableps do well mostly in species specific tanks, but are compatible with other, bigger yet peaceful livebearers, and should not be placed with other top-dwelling fish that create too much competition for food as they have no competitors in the wild. Lastly, Anableps have a wide diet including: terrestrial insects, red macroalgae, small crabs, and small fish. So in your own aquarium, there are many options to feed to recreate their natural food sources. A basic pellet should be used for most feedings, preferably one with added spirulina would be beneficial, as they eat it in the wild. Also, Bug Bites by Fluval can substitute for the insects they usually hunt in the wild. Frozen bloodworms, chopped up earth worms, and occasionally blackworms (especially if the fish aren’t interested in pellets or frozen yet) can be used a few times a week for some added nutrition. Overall, the Anableps adaptations make it a very interesting and unique fish that would be a great addition to the right aquarium....

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Mandarins and Scooter Dragonets

Posted by on Feb 24, 2017 in Blog, Chris F, Education, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Mandarins and Scooter Dragonets

Mandarins and Scooter Dragonets

The family Callionymidae is comprised of several species of small, colorful, reef-safe fish that have captivated the attention of aquarists for years, most notably the mandarin dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus and others), brightly colored members of the family that have been a staple for the aquarium hobby. However, these are considered the most difficult of the commonly-kept dragonets due to the difficulty in sustaining adequate amounts of food (more on this later). Hardier species are commonly available such as the brown scooter dragonet (Synchiropus ocellatus), red scooter dragonet (Synchiropus stellatus), and the recently described and popular ruby red dragonet (Synchiropus sycorax). What makes these species hardier than the mandarins is their ability to accept prepared foods, such as frozen foods, more willingly. Mandarins, on the other hand, are strictly dependent on copepod and amphipod populations within an aquarium to sustain their nutritional needs. To meet the requirements of dragonets and their relatives, an aquarist must be well-prepared in advance. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons (the larger the better) that has been cycled and established for around a year with adequate amounts of live sand and rocks should be considered mandatory. A refugium would be also be welcome in conjunction to adequate filtration, as it would provide a safe haven for copepod and amphipod populations to grow without predations. Most people will dedicate a compartment of their sump to a refugium filled with sand, live rock, and macro algae. Tank mates should be peaceful and small, as large aggressive fish may harass and eat the small dragonets (although some dragonets can emit a toxic, foul-tasting slime). Another consideration in regards to tankmates is the competition for copepods and amphipods; limiting the introduction of fish that feed on these should be considered to avoid competition and starvation. Prime choices are gobies, fire fish, clownfish, cardinal fish, blennies, chromis, etc. Dragonets are very aggressive towards others of the same species and careful planning in regards to stocking of conspecifics must be considered, especially for males. Large tanks, with adequate amounts of food and rock, help limit aggression. Here at Absolutely Fish we almost always have scooter dragonets in stock, so stop on by and have a look! If you have any other questions regarding this unique group of fish, feel free to approach a M-1 Certified employee....

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Top 10 Saltwater Reef Critters

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Blog, Kristen S, Reef Aquariums | Comments Off on Top 10 Saltwater Reef Critters

Top 10 Saltwater Reef Critters

Maintaining a reef aquarium allows an aquarist to create a mini ecosystem in their tank. The fish and corals are of course the highlights, but reef critters can perform useful clean-up jobs and are pretty fun to watch. Here are our top 10 most sold reef critters!   #10. Cleaner Shrimp are both entertaining to observe and useful in a reef aquarium. They can be seen cleaning parasites off of fish, which is important in a reef tank where medicating is difficult. #9. Emerald Crabs are great when that pesky hair algae takes over. They do a great job picking the algae out from between corals that can be difficult to get out manually. #8. Sexy Shrimp are just fun to watch. They will host an anemone and ‘dance’ by wiggling their tails. It’s especially cool if there’s a whole group in one anemone. #7. Banded Coral Shrimp are another purely ornamental reef critter. They usually hide a lot but their long claws make them a very interesting tank mate and they also come in gold and blue. #6. Trochus Snails are a very useful part of any clean-up crew. They do a great job cleaning algae off the glass, keeping the aquarium looking tidier for longer. #5. Scarlet Leg Hermit – another great clean-up crew member. They’re great for picking algae and detritus that collects on live rock. #4. Nassarius Snails are a helpful part of your clean-up crew that you’ll probably never see. They burrow under the sand and keep it moving to prevent algae and cyanobacteria from forming on the sand bed. #3. Sand Sifting Starfish are an alternative to the nassarius snails. They also burrow under the sand and move it around, plus they’ll feed on detritus in the sand bed. #2. Tuxedo Urchins are another option for cleaning up hair algae. They’re a cool alternative to emerald crabs and are fun to watch crawl across the reef. #1. Tigertail Sea Cucumbers are excellent detritivores, cleaning up left-over food in tough to reach places. They are also very unique looking and make an entertaining addition to any reef...

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