The Essential Top 10 Reef Cleaners

»Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 in Blog, Glenn L | Comments Off on The Essential Top 10 Reef Cleaners

The Essential Top 10 Reef Cleaners by Glenn Laborda   The modern reef tank has evolved. In the past, a perspective reef keeper would have to go to a local fish store or stores to learn and purchase supplies for their reef. Today, there is literally huge shows and expos dedicated to this part of the hobby. At these events you can find some of the rarest items possible for your reef. You can purchase rare mushrooms in upwards of 10,000 dollars and a quarter inch of an S.P.S. frag in the thousands! The people who sell the items are generally not from a L.F.S.; they are coral traders. Great at buying and selling odd and unique corals, but not well versed in the ecosystem of an established reef. Most of us do not want a plastic tub with egg crate racks and small frags. We want a small, complete piece of the reef in our home. We want to make the most natural looking picture of this as we can. That takes a balance of macro- and micro-organisms to keep everything in check. I have been building these ecosystems for over 30 years. I have tried many approaches from the early Jaubert systems to today’s full automated and ap-driven reefs. Over that expanse of time I have learned there are some amazing reef animals that excel at cleaning and husbandry of your reef. Although there are probably over 100 reef animals that can make their way into the hobby, I will go over my top ten essential cleaners. These are all “generally” reef safe. Even safe cleaners can be opportunistic and eat a tank-make, but for the most part these are all good together. Red Stripe Trochus: (Trochus radiatus) is a great algae eater. Will clean from the glass to the rocks. Very hardy, can flip itself over pretty easily. Keep about 1 per 2 gallons of tank volume. Scarlet Hermit: (Paguriste cadenati) is a small Caribbean species which is great at eating filament type algae. They are omnivorous so supplement with pellets now and again. Same 1 per 2-3 gallons of tank volume. Tuxedo Urchin: (Mespilia globulus) is one of my favorite reef cleaners. Will mow down algae not to bulldozing as they stay small. Can eat your coralline though. 1 per 30 gallons is sufficient. Nassarius Snail: (Nassarius distortus) is the Tongan variety of sand snail. Omnivore/Detritivore, great at keeping sand stirred and oxygenated. Also great at finding uneaten food. 1 for every 2-3 gallons of tank volume. Sand Star: (Astropectan polycanthus) is the white sand star. Another great sand mover, also omnivore/detritivore. Make sure all 5 arms are solid upon purchase. 1 for every 10-20 gallons of tank volume. Conches: (Strombus sp.) are amazing at eating algae, stirring sand, and omnivorous cleanup. Some species get large, stick with fighting or tiger varieties. 1 per 10 gallons tank volume. Cleaner Shrimp: (Lysmatta amboinensis) is fantastic at finding uneaten food, keeping parasites off fish and general tank cleaning. Become very “friendly” and will jump on your hand during routine maintenance. 1 per 10-15 gallons of tank volume. Emerald Crab: (Mithraculus sculptus) is probably one of the best filament algae eaters in the invert world. This one though can be the most opportunistic “attacker” when large. Always buy the smallest ones. When algae is depleted, this becomes more relevant. 1 per 10 gallons of tank volume. Banded Coral Shrimp: (Stenopus sp.) can be great for cleanup of unwanted pests and overfeeding. The large hispidus (regular B.C.) can get big. I tend to go for smaller gold sp. (cyanoscelis) or blue sp. (tenuirostris) especially in nano situations. 1 per tank!! Tiger Pistol: (Alpheus bellulus) is an amazing sand mover. Unfortunately can end up behind rock. But they are still doing their job back there. They pair very well with yellow watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus). 1 per 50 gallons of tank volume. With this Top Ten List, you should have your algae and tank cleaning crew up to par. There is still a ton of odense on the reef keeper to help these guys out. Try to keep up with your husbandry and you will have an amazing piece of the ocean in your...

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Parasites, Parasites, Parasites! Part One

»Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Blog, Glenn L, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Parasites, Parasites, Parasites! Part One

If you have spent any time at all in our Aquaculture Facility, you know that we literally dip every day for flatworms, nudibranchs, etc. We have done a few blogs on different parasites and infections. I want to give a brief overview of some new techniques I have been using to combat some of these issues. Iodine based dips: A diluted Lugol’s, Tropic Marin Coral, and Coral Dip by Precision Solutions. We tend to use this for bacterial infections or to prevent infections after fragging. As a dip follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. As a diluted Lugol dip, add drops until the water takes on a light gold color (about 15-20 drops per gallon) leave coral in for 10-20 minutes, rinse in fresh salt water, then return to the tank. I would recommend a dip every day if needed, up to 5 days. Lugol’s in frag water, 5-10 drops per gallon can be used until you are finished fragging. Melafix: Also used for bacterial infections. I find it very effective on soft corals like sarcos, sinularias, cladiellas and the like. Not so great for SPS as I feel they slime up so much the Melafix does not penetrate and they generally suffer more parasitic maladies than bacterial ones. Dosage is about 4 caps per gallon. Corals can stay in there up to 20 minutes without effect. This has worked very well for sarcos with black or yellow rot! Revive, Coral RX (lemon juice citric acid based dips) We tend to use this more than anything else. Great for any external organism whether good or bad! That means commensal trapezious, harmless brittles, etc will die with the bad as well so be careful! Revive is also pretty deadly to the coral after about 7 minutes in my experience. If you put an acro in a dip and check on it after 20 minutes, you will usually have a nice bleach white piece the next day (do not do this!) Be careful! Dosage: Now I will go on the record and say, I pretty much double the dosage as I feel the regular will not affect larger flatworms. I think they can tolerate low doses and hang on. Using a turkey baster is a must to help flatworms, nudis, and the like to release from the coral. The eggs still need to be scrubbed off with a toothbrush or hard scraper blade. The dip should be repeated over a few days to ensure all the eggs are gone! H2O2 Hydrogen Peroxide This is a fairly new dip we have been using at the Aquaculture Facility and in the store. It works very well on external parasites, and like revive does not discriminate on commensal organisms. We have only used this on Zoas and Palys as it can be dangerous to LPS and SPS. It also works wonders on any algae that is attached to corals or frags. It will turn white and die off! Dosage: Hydrogen Peroxide works in a four to one ratio (4 parts water, 1 part H2O2) As with everything, I push it and use a higher concentration of 3 to 1, and it works wonders! Just like a wound you will see it bubble, parasites jump off, algaes turn white. I have not pushed past the 5 minute mark yet but we’ll see soon! Josh and Paul T. have helped a lot with these trials. You can also see them with your dosage/treatment questions. I think that’s a good amount for Part 1. As a side note, even after 20+ years of “playing” with coral, I still see new things. Today, 01/04/2016, I dipped a Galaxea in melafix. It had a bacterial infection from a sting, or so I thought. A flatworm, over 2” fell out, my immediate reaction is WHAT THE HAY! So I move the Galaxea to a revive dip and immediately 8 more flatworms fall off. I’ve now found a giant Galaxea-Eating flatworm! Crazy! Coming in the future, PART 2! Bayer Insecticide, Interceptor, Bifuran, Flatworm Exit, and...

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What’s your purpose?

»Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Blog, Education, Glenn L, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on What’s your purpose?

Aquarium Maintenance – Absolutely Fish, NJ   Aquarium Maintenance: What’s your purpose?   By Glenn Laborda   I kind of feel, that when you set up a beautiful reef tank, the coral should be your main focal point. With all that has been invested into your high tech gear like protein skimmers, reverse osmosis units, L.E.D. lighting, and all the other necessary equipment, fish should only be there for a purpose, or to do a job per-se! I know you're thinking “that’s the point of my cleanup crews like snails, hermits, urchins, and crabs”. True that they are the unsung behind-the-scenes heroes of your tank, but even the fish should serve some function. I know you’re also thinking “but I want a few amazing show type fish too!” As you will see; even the rare or cool reef fish can serve a purpose. We are going to attack this fish with a purpose by family or grouping. The first families will be the Gobies and Blennies! These little guys are small and on the front lines defending your tank from micro-algae or sifting the sand to keep detritus available to be taken out by your filtration! Some of my favorites are: Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus) Distribution: Indo-Pacific Size: 4″ or more Care: Easy Description: A great micro–algae eater, but a little tough with other blenny species. Bullet Goby (Amblygobius phalaena) Distribution: Indo-Pacific Size: 5″ Care: Easy Description: A great sand sifter. It may not be the prettiest, but it is one of the most durable sifters. Will eat prepared foods. Caution: Jumper. Neon Goby (Gobiosoma oceanops) Distribution: Atlantic Size: up to 2″ Care: Easy Description: Great for cleaning fish of any minor parasites, hardy, and great looking.   Another great family of fishes for the reef are the wrasses. Now there are a lot of large aggressive species so please get advice or do research before purchasing a wrasse for your aquarium.   Melanurus Wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus) Distribution: Indo–Pacific Size: up to 5″ Care: Moderate Description: A beautiful wrasse that is great at cleaning rocks. Will eat planarians or flatworms in small amounts. Caution: Jumper. Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) Distribution: Indo–Pacific Size: up to 4″ Care: Difficult Description: Great fish for cleaning parasites from other fish. Difficult to keep. Once parasites are gone they are not easy to feed, and many soon get skinny and die! Caution: Jumper. 6 Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexatneaia) Distribution: Indo–Pacific Size: 2″ Care: Easy Description: Great fish, but sometimes it can be aggressive towards smaller species. Great for cleaning rocks. Eats small bristles, planarai and flatworms in moderation.   Next is a group not generally recommended, as most are not reef safe and will eat corals, but are needed at times. Butterflies are beautiful and difficult to keep, that’s why they’re sought after…kind of a challenge.   Kleins Butterfly (Chaetodon kleinii) Distribution: Indo–Pacific Size: up to 5″ Care: Easy Description: One of the best Aiptasia/Majano Anemone eaters I’ve ever used. The downfall is when the anemones are gone the butterflies move onto coral. All corals from Zoas to S.P.S. can be affected. Caution: Must remove. Copperband Butterfly / Marginulus Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus / marginalis) Distribution: Indo–Pacific / Australia Size: up to 6″ Care: Difficult Description: A fairly decent Aiptasia eater. Very difficult to keep, hard to get to eat prepared foods. Sometimes may take 2–3 Copperbands to get one to “survive”! Auriga Butterfly (Chaetodon auriga) Distribution: IndoPacific, Red Sea Size: up to 8″ Care: Moderate Description: One of the “hardier” butterfly species, it even does well in fish only tanks. Will eat prepare foods readily! Similar to the Klein’s Butterfly, it will decimate Aiptasia and Majanos, but will move onto corals and polyps shortly after. Caution: Must remove.   Lastly, the real soldiers of the reef tank, the Tangs (Surgeonfish). They are the hardiest and hardest working reef fish you can buy. This family also has some rare “Gems” [pun intended] that can also be your “show” fish! Chevron / Kole / Tomy Tangs (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis / strigosus / tominiensis) Distribution: Hawaiian Islands & Indo-Pacific Size: up to 7″ Care: Easy Description: Very hardy fish. The “bristle tooths” are amazing micro–algae eaters. Their mouths are like tiny brushes full of bristles for scraping algae off rocks. Unless it is a large aquarium (200 gallons or more) only 1 per tank! Caution: Aggressive to other Tangs Purple / Yellow / Scopas Tangs (Zebrasoma xanthurum / flavescens / scopas) Distribution: Indo-Pacific / Red Sea Size: up to 8″ Care: Easy Description: Some of the “toughest” Tangs around. They are the “short snout nosed” Tangs. This short pointed snout allows for ripping...

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