5 Nano Reef Fish

»Posted by on Dec 7, 2018 in Blog, Cedes Militante, Chris F, Chris F, Conservation, Education, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on 5 Nano Reef Fish

5 Nano Reef Fish By: Chris Fong                 As the hobby continues to evolve with advancements in technology ever growing nano reefs are becoming more and more popular. These setups are attractive towards most people due to their small size requirements, significantly smaller setup cost compared to larger systems, and the wide variety of options aquarist can choose from in terms of equipment and livestock. However, even as our understanding of aquariums has improved along with advancements in technology small tanks in general are still considered more difficult due to their smaller volume of water. As a result, the aquarist should pay extra attention towards these smaller setups to help reduce fluctuations in parameters which could be potentially devastating. To clarify a Nano reef is considered around 5-30 US gallons by most people and the fish described in this blog will comfortably live in this 30-gallon setup long-term considering their husbandry requirements are met. These requirements include a properly cycled aquarium with adequate filtration, heating, water quality combined with proper compatibility and diet. In this blog I will discuss 5 great fish species suited for a Nano reef. Side Note:  The best fish suited for small nano reefs or pico reefs long term are gobies as most of them stay incredibly small.  But to add variety to this list I decided to add other fish that can live comfortably in a larger nano tank. Panamic Barnacle Blenny (Acanthemblemria hancocki) This fish can be located from Panama to El Salvador and even as far down as Ecuador. It is an excellent choice for Nano tanks as it has a maximum size of 2 inches when fully grown. The barnacle blenny has a unique personality preferring to sit inside of a small hole and occasionally poke it’s round head out to look for food and predators. On top of this, the barnacle blenny also has large googly eyes making it an adorable addition to a small tank. Also, when food is added to the aquarium the barnacle blenny will dart out of its crevice at an incredibly fast speed and then quickly retreat into the same crevice making it a very entertaining fish to observe while feeding. The barnacle blenny should be kept with peaceful fish although it can sometimes exhibit aggression towards similar looking fish or fish that invade its territory. Additionally, many nooks and crannies should be made available for this fish to hide in naturally. Finally, a diet of small meaty foods such as frozen blood worms, brine shrimp, plankton, and Mysis shrimp should make up most of its diet combined with quality flakes/ pellets that have been soaked in vitamins. Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto) While the Royal gramma is the largest fish on this list growing to 3 inches when fully grown making it ideal for tanks around 30 gallons for long term housing I decide to include it in this list because of it’s outstanding coloration and hardiness. Naturally these fish are found in deep water reefs in the Caribbean hiding in and around rock crevices. Due to this natural behavior the royal gramma will hide a lot especially when first introduced into the aquarium. Over time though this fish will become bolder and venture out into the open. Royal Grammas are very hardy fish making ideal for beginners who want to add a colorful fish to their larger sized Nano reef. While mostly peaceful towards other fish the royal gramma can sometimes be territorial towards other similar looking fish or fish that invade its territory. Due to its cryptic behavior a large amount of rock structure should be provided. Finally, a diet of small meaty foods such as frozen blood worms, brine shrimp, plankton, and Mysis shrimp should make up most of its diet combined with quality flakes/ pellets that have been soaked in vitamins Clown Goby (Gobiodon sp.) Clown gobies are another excellent Nano reef fish as there are several species each with a distinct color. Some are green with red markings on their face while others are solid yellow or black. This group of fish only max out around 1 inch making another fine addition to small tanks where you will find them perching on rocks and corals. These small gobies are naturally found living amongst soft and hard coral colonies in the Indo Pacific where they utilize these corals for shelter. However, in the reef aquarium they can sometimes kill portions of SPS colonies they host as a result.  Clown gobies are considered very hardy and peaceful towards most other fish but can sometimes become territorial with other similar fish or those that enter its territory. Additionally,...

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The importance of water changes in the home aquarium

»Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in Blog, Chris F | Comments Off on The importance of water changes in the home aquarium

The importance of water changes in the home aquarium by Christopher Fong   photo provided by Absolutely Fish   Water changes provide many benefits to most home aquariums by adding essential minerals/elements and removing organic/inorganic toxins that can build up over time in a closed environment like an aquarium. The concept of adding “good stuff” and removing “bad stuff” can be the difference between a successful long-term aquarium and a problematic aquarium where the aquarist constantly battles nuisance algae and disease. The benefits of water changes can be applied to all different types of aquariums ranging from a simple 10-gallon freshwater community tank to a 150-gallon reef tank. However, certain aquariums benefit more from regular water changes such as African cichlids, goldfish, Discus, saltwater fish only and large predatory tanks. Water changes become especially important in tanks where filtration is undersized, the fish population is overstocked and overfeed. However, for water changes to be effective they must be done correctly regarding frequency, size, and preparation of the new water. In this blog I will discuss how to correctly perform a water change to help benefit your aquarium during maintenance. Frequency: How often an aquarist must perform water changes on their aquarium varies depending on several factors regarding the way a tank is setup and stocked. For example, a 75 gallon with overstocked large predatory fish and an undersized hang on back filter rated at 30 gallons is going to need more frequent water changes compared to a 20 gallon with an oversized hang on back filter rated at 75 gallons stocked with an appropriate amount of small community fish. Water changes also vary depending on people’s schedule between family, work, and school. Personally, I recommend water changes be conducted every week for most types of aquariums. This helps to keep the amount of organic and inorganic impurities limited in the aquarium as these toxins can have a negative effect on the health and growth of fish/ corals and can also promote the growth of nuisance algae. Another benefit of doing frequent water changes is the addition of essential major, minor and trace elements that can help maintain proper water parameters and keep the organisms within the aquarium healthy. With doing regular water changes the PH of the aquarium also remains more stable with the addition of carbonates/ bicarbonates and the removal of organic wastes that can acidify the water overtime. In a scenario where an aquarium receives a water change once a month the aquarium will often experience a drop in PH due to the build up in organics until the next water change where the PH will then suddenly rise with the addition of new water containing a higher PH. This shift in parameters can cause stress upon the organisms within an aquarium compromising immune systems and enabling disease to take hold. Once again, every aquarium is different and different water change schedules can work equally well ranging significantly.    Size: Once again, the size of a water change depends on a variety of factors depending on how a tank is setup and stocked. Some aquarist will prefer smaller more frequent water changes while other prefer larger less frequent. But what exactly constitutes a small and large water change?  This varies from person to person, but I believe water change sizes should be categorized as: Small: 10-25% of total aquarium volume Medium: 25%-50% of total aquarium volume Large: 50%-75% of total aquarium volume With this guideline established, most people should be doing small/ medium sized water changes on their aquariums depending on their stocking levels and filtration setup. Personally, I believe a good percentage to aim for is around 30% as this size water change can remove sufficient amounts of organic and inorganic impurities a 10% simply cannot. This size water change can also add sufficient amounts of major, minor and trace elements need for proper health/growth of aquatic organisms. Additional notes: As already noted size and frequency of water changes performed on aquariums varies depending on many factors including but not limited to: -Size tank -The Age of the aquarium -Type of filtration equipment -Type of aquatic organisms being kept (regarding amount of waste produced and desired water chemistry) -Number of aquatic organisms being kept – The addition of supplements -The frequency of cleaning (Filter/Substrate) If you would like to see a demonstration on how to perform a water change and to clean your filter/gravel bed. Please stop by the store and an associate will be happy to show you!...

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Rabbit Snails of the Genus Tylomelania

»Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 in Blog, Chris F | Comments Off on Rabbit Snails of the Genus Tylomelania

Rabbit Snails of the Genus Tylomelania by Christopher Fong photos by James Ong     Rabbit snails are a large group of freshwater snails endemic to Sulawesi which is located in Indonesia. Within Sulawesi many of these unique and interesting snails are restricted to a small number of lakes such as Lake Poso/ Lake Malili. What makes these snails attractive to many is the bright coloration of the flesh combined with the smooth cone shaped shell. However, by far the most attractive feature of these snails is their eyes and mouths which resemble that of a cuddly rabbit making them down right adorable.  Another unique feature with this group of snails is that their oviparous, meaning the production of young by means of eggs hatched within the mother’s body. Finally, this group of snails comprises of several different species each having their own unique coloration and shell pattern. Rabbit snails are hardy if certain requirements are meet such as good water quality, correct substrate, peaceful tankmates, and enough food. If these requirements are meet these snails will live for long periods of time and in certain scenarios even reproduce!     Water Quality: PH ranges from 7.2 to 7.7 and Carbonate/General hardness hovering around (3-7) should be satisfactory to allow these snails to construct their calcareous shell.  Soft Acidic water will gradually eat away at the shells of these snail resulting in their ultimate demise. Ammonia and Nitrite should be zero with Nitrate being as low as possible.  Finally, always use a good quality water condition to remove harmful heavy metals, chlorine and chloramine from the water which is harmful to aquatic life (especially inverts). Finally, never use medications intended for fish diseases when keeping rabbit snails and other inverts in the aquarium. Often times most Fish medications are toxic to invertebrates. Substrate:  A sandy bottom would be considered ideal as this allows the snails to naturally borrow and seek shelter mimicking natural behavior. If sand is not an option any small smooth gravel like substrate is satisfactory. Tankmates: Should be peaceful such as tetras, barbs, rasboras, small catfish, shrimp and other similar snail safe fish/inverts. Crabs These snails are considered plant safe although in situations with little food they can turn towards aquarium plants for sustenance. Feeding: Rabbit snails are herbivores by nature so having algae within the tank prior to introducing these snails is advisable. Even with algae present within the aquarium supplementation is recommended to keep these snails well feed and healthy. Foods such as algae wafers and dried seaweed are excellent choice for feeding rabbit snails. Rabbit snails of the genus Tylomelania make unique and interesting additions to most community/planted tanks, adding the diversity needed for proper ecological health of an aquarium. These snails can live long periods of time and even reproduce when a sufficient food source is present for both the parent and young. If you want to see these adorable snails in person or have any question regarding these awesome creatures stop by Absolutely Fish and ask us to show you these unique creatures! Sources: http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/features/articles/snails-from-sulawesi...

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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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Keeping Feather Dusters in the Home Aquarium

»Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in Chris F | Comments Off on Keeping Feather Dusters in the Home Aquarium

Keeping Feather Dusters in the Home Aquarium

“I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough of the bad luck of the worm” said Franklin D Roosevelt. When someone mentions a worm most people picture your stereotypical earth worm living in the garden eating compost and getting eaten by birds in the cool early morning. However several species of worms known as “feather dusters” within the marine aquarium hobby display a splendid variety of colors and patterns along with unique lifestyle. Believe it or not feather dusters are annelids, which simply means they’re closely related to earthworms, such as the ones you find in the garden. However they differ significantly from their mobile relatives by being sessile (living in a fixed spot). Similar to earth worms, feather dusters have a segmented body, although it is usually hidden by a tube constructed of mucus/detritus with some species living within corals or constructing their own calcium carbonate tube. The most distinguishing part of a feather duster is the “crown” which is basically feather shaped rays known as radioles. These radioles are arranged in two half circles that form a funnel utilized in filter feeding of suspended material. The cilia on the radioles generate currents which draw water, food particles and waste in and out of the crown. The feather duster worms belong to several families of Polychaeta. Those with a soft tube consisting of a polysaccharide matrix of mucus/detritus are generally from the family Sabellidae, with a single genus being capable of creating a calcareous tube. The hard tube feather dusters belong to the family Serpulidae. Feather dusters feed on a variety of particulates suspended within the water column such as fine detritus, bacteria, phytoplankton, and tiny microorganisms, most of which are found within a well-established reef aquarium at least a year in age. For best success one should only add a feather duster once the aquarium has been established for this amount of time and there is a healthy population of other reef safe organisms such as corals, fish, shrimp, snails, etc. The addition of various filter feeder foods such as phytoplankton, rotifers, zooplankton, marine snow and various other liquid-based foods will meet their nutritional needs. Remember to feed sparingly as excessive overfeeding will contribute to poor water quality. Water flow is crucial to the health of feather dusters worms and the reef aquarium in general as water currents stimulate natural physical functions, bringing food/waste to and from the organism and helps in respiration. Thus water flow for feather duster should be considered medium and indirect, preferably alternating, flow via a wave maker. Lighting is not a major concern to feather dusters as they obtain the majority of their nutritional needs from filter feeding and don’t directly rely on symbiotic zooxanthellae for their energy requirements. So placement of feather duster worms usually occurs on the bottom/middle portions of the aquarium. Problems with feather dusters in a correct environment are relatively scarce. However, some fish and invertebrates have been known to eat/damage feather dusters deliberately or accidentally. Butterfly fish can easily eliminate feather dusters due to their specific lifestyle and diet. Some wrasse species also have a penchant for eating feather dusters, thus care should be taken to research any potential species being added to an aquarium containing feather dusters. Finally, some crabs and serpent stars may become opportunistic feeders, thus careful observation should be implemented with these species. Feather dusters will occasionally shed their crown and or tube due to a shift in parameters such as a transfer from aquariums or a fluctuation in water parameters. Inexperienced aquarists believe the feather duster has simply died and throw the entire tube out. The best course of action is to save the tube and patiently wait to see if the feather duster will regenerate its crown/ tube over the course of several days. The species: Bispira violais The most common feather duster within the aquarium hobby. It’s generally found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters situated high on top of rocks and algae. Bispira brunnea Collectively known as the cluster duster which frequently lives within closely packed groups of several small miniature feather dusters. They form clusters of clones attached to a hard substrate at a central point. It’s found throughout the Caribbean where collectors remove specimens from rocks. Unfortunately they do not readily reattach to rockwork in the home aquariums. The best solution to this problem is to utilize reef glue “cyanoacrylate“ to reattach the colony to a solid piece of rockwork. Protula bispiralis The hard tube “Coco worm” originates from Indonesia and is extremely popular and relatively expensive. However this feather duster generally has a...

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