Blog posts about fish, coral, and invertebrate education.

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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Invasive Aquarium Plants and What You Can Do About Them

»Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Blog, Conservation, Education, Jenn, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Invasive Aquarium Plants and What You Can Do About Them

Invasive Aquarium Plants and What You Can Do About Them

Invasive Aquarium Plants and What You Can Do About Them Thanks to globalization, there’s a variety of aquatic plants and animals available in the aquarium trade that has never been seen before. While this means more gorgeous tanks and ponds than ever, it also brings a new threat: invasive species. You’ve probably heard about the snakehead, a predatory fish native to Asia that can travel short distances on land, leading it to populate New England, or maybe your rose bushes have been chewed up by Japanese beetles. Those are both invasive species, introduced to the US accidentally in the case of Japanese beetles, and purposefully as food stock in the case of snakeheads. Animals are not the only living things that can become problems when introduced to lands not originally their own. Aquatic plants can also cause destruction when introduced to rivers, lakes, or oceans. Following are the three most common invasive plants found in the aquarium trade. After learning about the damage they can cause, we’ll learn how to prevent it.   Anacharis: A common trait all of these plants have is their ease of care, which lends itself to their success in environments they should not be in. Anacharis is possibly the easiest plant on this list. It requires medium light (perfect for lakes) and doesn’t even need to be planted in the substrate to thrive and grow. Floating anacharis will grow roots along its stem, drawing nutrients directly from the water column. Anacharis can be propagated by breaking the stems into pieces, which is great news for a plant that humans try to physically remove from waterways. Any pieces left behind can immediately begin to repopulate. Problem: Anacharis grows faster than many native aquatic plants and can block out light and rob them of nutrients, out-competing them. Anacharis can also form thick floating mats that prevent recreation like swimming, rowing, fishing, and boating. An unsuspecting boater can get a nasty surprise when their propeller gets tangled in a mass of anacharis.   Water hyacinth: An admittedly gorgeous ornamental pond plant, water hyacinth has a dark side. Like anacharis, it can form massive, acres in width patches, blocking light from lower levels of the water and making recreation difficult if not impossible. Its light blocking effect doesn’t just slow down growth of other aquatic plants. Preventing light from reaching those plants prevents them from photosynthesizing, which prevents them from producing oxygen. Additionally, just the hyacinths’ presence on the water surface decreases the area for gas exchange. What we end up with is a body of water that is oxygen starved and full of dying fish. Waterfowl can’t land on hyacinths. Their habitat is effectively destroyed when lakes and rivers are clogged with floating plants. The density of hyacinth patches slows down any water movement at the surface, enabling algae growth and mosquito breeding (and remember, all the fish that might eat the larvae are already dying from a lack of oxygen). Hyacinths are also excellent at reproduction, employing two strategies: budding, and seeds. During their active growing season, hyacinths grow “daughter plants,” small hyacinths that grow off of the original plant until they are large and established enough to grow on their own, and then break off and begin growing and budding on their own. Hyacinths can also reproduce sexually, producing seeds. Seeds are the insidious sleeper cells. They can begin growing within a few days, or lie dormant for years in case of unfavorable conditions like droughts. Once the environment is more conducive to growth, the seeds will sprout and begin the invasion all over again. The main weaknesses of water hyacinth are herbicides and cold winters, which have prevented their spread into the northern half of the US.   Water lettuce: Can any plant sound less threatening? Water lettuce? C’mon. How dangerous can soggy Romaine be? Don’t be fooled: this plant is nearly as bad as water hyacinth. It is another floating plant that clogs up rivers and lakes, out-competing native plants, lowering oxygen concentrations, creating mosquito nurseries, and stealing habitats. Additionally, it’s invaded Hawaii, where some of their most important crops are grown at least partially underwater, like taro and rice, and is becoming a noxious weed. Another layer of difficulty in controlling water lettuce is its inedibility. Very few animals are willing to eat it, because it is full of needle-like crystals made of calcium oxalate. Eating water lettuce would lead to a severe itchy burning sensation in your mouth and throat, as well as damage to your GI tract. Only two animals can really make a dent: the hippo, and the manatee. Unfortunately, it would be a...

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Keeping Dory and Responsible Fish Care

»Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Blog, Conservation, Education, Saltwater Fish, William C | Comments Off on Keeping Dory and Responsible Fish Care

Keeping Dory and Responsible Fish Care

Are you anticipating the release of Finding Dory? We sure are! After the success of Finding Nemo, we expect Dory’s movie to be an even bigger blow out. And like with Nemo, we know you’re going to wonder… “Can I keep a Dory?” Let me begin with, “Yes, absolutely!” We love when people get to bring home a fish they can connect with as well as Dory, but there are some things you should know first… By William Ciaurro Dory Specifics Dory is a fish known as the Hepatus Tang, that’s Paracanthurus hepatus for you nerds! Hepatus tangs, much like other tangs, like A LOT… A LOT of space to swim and roam! I would almost never sell Dory to any tank smaller than 75 gallon. AND YES, that does include the tiny “nano” Dorys we get. These are just babies. The babies will grow, and need a large nurturing tank to grow up healthy. Dory is what I would consider a delicate fish so an ultraviolet sterilizer is an absolute must (see our sizing guide)! Dory should have a very mixed diet consisting of vitamin soaked pellets, frozen mysis shrimp, and LOTS of algae. Tangs prefer to graze throughout the day therefore we recommend the use of algae sheets attached to rocks or clips. My last major key to success with Dory is consistent cleanings. No fish wants to have 40 gallons of water flushed in and out of their tank once a month! It’s much better to do smaller water changes more frequently, like say 20 gallons, every 2 weeks in your 75 gallon aquarium. (wink, wink: Do it!) Please note: Dory does not play well with other Dorys. When they get large, almost one foot, they will be territorial with one another. Being Responsible What do I mean by being responsible? Well fish are animals too. It’s important that we treat them with the same respect that we treat cats, dogs, and other animals with. We at Absolutely Fish always stress that fish live a long time, and you should be prepared for that. Hepatus Tangs can live over ten years. It’s very disheartening when folks bring back their fish in buckets looking all chomped up saying, “I had no idea it would get this big/live this long.” Don’t buy a fish on the false premise that you will “upgrade later”. We would once again like to emphasize, they live a long time, and the last thing we want is for the animal to outgrow the tank. If you’re going to take these animals home to your “ocean in a box,” then please make sure it is in fact an ocean. Fish keeping is not a right, it’s a privilege that we should not abuse. We take a lot of care to ensure that fish end up in great forever homes, and we hope that this blog inspires you. Our aquatic friends mean so much to us, and we hope they mean as much to...

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Top Ten: Nano Reef Fish

»Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Blog, Education, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish, William C | Comments Off on Top Ten: Nano Reef Fish

Top Ten: Nano Reef Fish

Check out our top ten nano fish! We carry all of these and more! Top Ten Nano Reef Fish at Absolutely Fish William C Skip to our top ten nano reef fish! Let’s talk about something I’d like to describe as Saltwater Syndrome. When afflicted with said syndrome, saltwater newbies(and old-timers alike) ask to purchase fish such as the magnificent Queen Angelfish. Which is fine. Only when I ask about their aquarium, it’s a 30 gallon reef tank… not at all adequate. And no, it’s not a good temporary home— as a matter of fact a “home” should be a fish’s permanent dwelling. The Queen grows far too large for a 30 gallon aquarium and should be housed in something closer to 90 gallons or more! Further, the entire grouping we call Angelfish ARE NOT REEF SAFE. Sure you may have a 50-50 shot with that Argi Angel when it is first introduced in the tank, but you’ll be really upset 6 months down the line when you can’t add any corals that are even minorly “fleshy” (Bye, bye Acans!) After explaining this though the saltwater syndrome kicks in further, “But I bought a saltwater tank to keep exotic fish!” Exotics such as the Queen Angel and say — the Hepatus tang (popularized by Finding Nemo) should be housed in large appropriate tanks. So I’d like to clear up some misconceptions about the saltwater nano reef, and suggest the APPROPRIATE fish one might keep in such a habitat. Firstly a lot of fish are not reef friendly, meaning they eat corals, shrimp, worms, sponge, or some other reef invertebrate you care deeply for. Angelfish, Butterflyfish, and Triggers are the major offenders in this category. Alternatively some fish just grow too large for a nano reef (40 gallon tanks or less). Tangs for the most part grow to sizes of 7 inches or larger and need plenty of space to grow. In addition some very active species just need lots of space to live in a natural way. Take anthias for example,while most species do not exceed 6 inches they do like ample space to swim during the day! Lastly, there are the aggressors — some fish may be perfectly happy in a 30 gallon tank, and that’s great — but when your Domino Damsel goes on a killing rampage because his tank mates occupy too much of his space— we have a problem. Aggression doesn’t just include towards other fish… If you have a full grown Maroon clown in your 30 gallon reef and you just purchased the most magnificent little torch coral — expect the Maroon to attempt to host this piece (your results may vary). So what fish does that leave us with? Well below is a top 10 list of what in my opinion are the best common nano reef fish. Top Ten Nano Reef Fish 10. Clown Goby Max Size: 2″ Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons Clown Gobys are some of the cutest little fish for the nano tank. They stay incredibly small, and are either bright yellow or vivid green. Some specimens will live in and around the corals in your tank. They’re quite the little beauties!   9. Skunk Clown Max Size: 4″ although most rarely exceed 3″ Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 20 gallons Hold your seahorses folks, I know there will be an uproar over Skunks v. Ocellaris. I’ll have you know now — Skunk Clowns are cooler! They come in pink and orange! They’re also unique in a sea of Nemos, and will host some anemones more readily… but for those naysayers Ocellaris would be good too. 8. Pajama Cardinal Max Size: 3″ Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons PJ Cardinals are some of the prettiest fish, with their big beautiful eyes and polka dotted patterns. The only downside is they move infrequently some people find this boring, but I see it as conservative! 7. Sixline Wrasse Max Size: 3″ Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons Small, zippy, bright colored fun! With the sixline wrasse it’s a blast of excitement. A warning though: If you plan to keep other small wrasses, or small pseudos down the line this fish may not be right for you. 6. Royal Gramma Max Size: 3″ Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons It never ceases to surprise me at just how many people really dig this fish. Small children will exclaim, “I want the purple and yellow one!” This fish is peaceful, brightly colored and small growing. It’s nearly the perfect reef inhabitant. 5. Firefish Max Size: 3″ Minimum Recommended Tank Size: 10 gallons Firefish are wonderful little animals. They...

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Pests in the Reef Aquarium

»Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in Blog, Education, Josh M, Reef Aquariums, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Pests in the Reef Aquarium

  As aquarists, it brings us great joy seeing the organisms in our tanks not just survive but thrive and grow.  To the reef aquarists it’s a more acute feeling, whether it’s seeing our single polyp of rasta zoanthid start growing like mad or that acropora frag that you’ve had for months start growing ever so slightly at the base of the plug that it’s on.  That feeling of excitement at seeing our corals and other organisms grow in our tanks is, for most, the reason we keep a reef tank.  This is why it’s heartbreaking and frustrating when your corals become dinner for some strange little creature that has randomly appeared in your beautiful tank.  Sadly this happens more often than not, but there is hope! In this piece I’ll go over a few more common pests that can appear in a reef aquarium and how to remove them safely so that your coral can once again go about growing and thriving. Flatworms Flatworms, also known as planaria, are flat disc shaped worms that crawl on corals and coralimorphs.  The reason they do this is because they contain symbiotic zooxanthellae in their tissue that perform photosynthesis and provide the flatworm with nourishment and in exchange get a home just like corals.  This means they have to find a nice bright location for the algae to perform photosynthesis, and the best place in a reef tank is unfortunately on our corals.  When they do this they can effectively smother corals with their numbers and prevent the corals themselves from photosynthesizing. Treatment The best way to remove flatworms is by manual removal, the most efficient method is dipping the affected corals.  The best results we’ve seen is from Revive by Two Little Fishes.  The dip will knock off the flatworms almost immediately.  Another way to get rid of flatworms is using a predator.  Blue Velvet Sea Slugs of the genus Chelidonura are highly efficient at eating flatworms but unfortunately don’t live very long after eradicating them. Nudibranchs We all know about the beautiful, colorful sea slugs from nature documentaries.  The ones I’m talking about are anything but.  Coral eating nudibranchs typically feed on montipora and zoanthid corals in reef tanks.  The main problem with nudibranchs is that they not only eat corals but they also lay lots of egg clusters near their victim so that their offspring have a meal as soon as they hatch.  The eggs look like the cerata on the adult nudibranch’s back and are laid in clusters that often look like spirals on or near their host coral.      Treatment Just as you would get rid of flatworms, dipping corals affected with nudibranchs will remove the adults.  The eggs however can really only be removed manually with a pick-like tool of some kind.  If you don’t want to poke and prod your corals to remove the eggs dip the corals constantly until no more nudibranchs are found. Mantis Shrimp Everybody knows about these guys and dreads hearing that clicking sound in their tanks.  Mantis shrimp are not typically a threat to corals but pose a very real threat to the fish and other motile invertebrates that call a reef tank home.  Some species of mantis shrimp that hitch a ride in live rock are nocturnal and are active hunters during this time.  This is of course bad news for the unsuspecting fish that’s caught sleeping in a rock or the snail that’s happily grazing on algae. Treatment Unfortunately, mantis shrimp are difficult to remove from an established aquarium.  The best way to remove them is to make an effective trap or find the spot in the tank that it calls home and remove it manually.  If you choose the latter route, use caution. Mantis shrimp claws can hit with enough force to create light, heat and sound.  As one can imagine it’s not a great feeling when one of these guys attacks your hand so use extreme caution in removing and handling a mantis shrimp.   These are a few of the pests that plague reef aquariums.  The best way to remove these little devils is to ensure they don’t get into your tank in the first place.  Prevention is key when it comes to stopping outbreaks of these little critters from making your experience in reef aquaria less than...

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