Fish in 2005

This page contains all the tank events from 7 August 2005 to the end of 2005.
Forward to later fish pages, to main fish page.

Anemone Upside-down
26 December 2005

Ritter Anemone (upside-down and near the surface, hence the confusing reflections) with Hannibella The Anemone has moved slightly to the left in the last few days, but when we came in this evening it was in the same position upside-down, which is not a good sign.  We fed it some shrimp which it grabbed but we don't think was able to get to its mouth.  It appears to be turning itself back over again, but if it doesn't succeed we'll give it a hand tomorrow.  On a positive note Hannibella has begun nestling in the tentacles, though possibly with the ulterior motive of stealing the Anemone's food.

Vital statistics show water temperature 26 C, salinity 1.022, pH 8.16, nitrate 35 mg/l, nitrite < 0.3 mg/l and ammonia 0 mg/l.  Nitrate is probably high because we've been deliberately over-feeding before leaving the fish over Christmas.  Water changes continue at 10% every week.

Still no sign of the Orange-spotted Goby.

Goby Gone Again?
25 December 2005

The Orange-spotted Goby has been absent for several days now, which is beginning to be a little worrying.  We are watching the sump.

Also, the Mushroom Coral, which is now sitting just beneath the Anemone, is showing signs of a few bare white patches. We're wondering whether they don't get on at a chemical level.

Bristle Worm Versus Snail
24 December 2005

Alice spotted a bristle worm poking out of a hole in a rock in the bottom of the tank.  What we hadn't spotted was that its nose was poking into one of the Turbo Snails.  A little while later we tried to move the snail, but it was too late - the snail's body was already loose from the shell. The body is at the nose of the bristle worm on the left of the picture and the shell is the pinkish triangular thing on the right of the picture.  A new house is now on the market for the Hermit Crabs.

Bristle Worm, snail innards and snail shell 

Anemone Travels
24 December 2005

Anemones will move around the tank until they find a suitable spot.  What's been a surprise is exactly how good this sack of water is at rock climbing.  The Anemone started out on the rock it came with in the bottom-right of the tank then during yesterday evening it climbed up to the top of the rocks where the light is strongest.  Overnight it moved along the top of the rock towards where the water flow is strongest.

Anemone travels

This position is also ideal for feeding it.  We tried krill but it didn't seem interested.  Smallish frozen cooked peeled prawns, however, it grabbed and gobbled up.  This has the added advantage that the pieces are too large to float away or attract the other fish.  Hannibella has not shown too much interest in the Anemone yet, other than dipping in to steal the left-over krill.

Looking around Reef Aquarium Guide and WetWebMedia we see that the lighting recommended for keeping anemones is several times more intense than ours.  Consulting with Andy at Aquatic Fanatics he's pretty happy that our 90 Watts will do for the Ritteri Anemone.  We'll see if it settles down and if not we'll add an extra tube. 

Anemone On Board
23 December 2005

The anemone arrived today.  It's a Ritteri Anemone and is quite large - about 15 cm across.  With it we've added another 30 Watt marine white Arcadia lighting tube bringing the total up to 90 Watts.   Reading the advice in Marine Invertebrates by Ronald L. Shimek, we've increased the water temperature by 2 degrees to 26.5 C; it also seems that a higher salinity (around 1.025) is preferred.  We will slowly increase the salinity over the next few weeks.  Keeping anemones is no doddle, but since we don't have any better ideas as to how to calm Hannibal down we're going to give it our best shot.  Aquatic Fanatics say that in the worst case TMC would probably take Hannibal back at no cost if we could arrange for him to be taken there.

Ah, and another thing.  Hannibal is apparently a she.  The dominant clown fish always develops into a female.  Should probably begin calling her Hannibella.

Ritteri Anemone

Angelfish Deceased
19 December 2005

The Angelfish didn't last the night.  Hannibal has done it again. In the space of a few days the Angelfish went from apparently healthy to hiding (so that we couldn't catch him), to unable to swim properly, to dead; and this a larger fish that is more boldly coloured than Hannibal.  In case we are blaming Hannibal unjustly we've decided to adopt a different introduction process for all new fish from now on.  They will spend a few weeks in the sump tank first to make sure that they are healthy and eating properly.  We will also make sure we have the anemone for Hannibal.  If this doesn't work, we may have to find a way to get rid of Hannibal.

We've also ordered a Trap-Eze fish trap (available from  This should help with future attempts to catch at least the healthy fish. 

No Anemone, Angelfish Ailing
18 December 2005

Rang the aquarium shop and found that though they have an anemone the delivery it came in was at 11 C on arrival at the shop and all the creatures that live inside the anemone, giving it colour, had died.  Another delivery is due next week so we may get our anemone in 5 or 6 days.  The Angelfish has continued to hide and has been having obvious difficulties keeping itself upright, rather as Percy the Persecuted Cardinal did in his final hours.  We can't get at the Angelfish to catch him, so we've tried capturing Hannibal instead, but have only chalked-up two near-misses so far.  Not looking good.  Reading around Reef Aquarium Guide Alice found several mentions of aggressive clownfishes stressing other fishes to death.  We haven't seen Hannibal touch the Angelfish, and the Angelfish shows now signs of contact damage.  Does Hannibal have powers of hypnosis or something?

Angelfish In The Blue Corner
17 December 2005

The Angelfish spent all of today hiding and didn't want to come out to eat, though I think I managed to get some food into his hiding place.  His colour has become a little powdery and he's developed some orange patches where his dorsal fins join his body. We fear he may be developing persecution syndrome.  If all goes to plan, Hannibal's anemone should arrive tomorrow and that should calm Hannibal down.  Fingers crossed.

Percy Deceased
6 December 2005

Unfortunately Percy the Persecuted Cardinal didn't make it through the night.  I find it difficult to believe that a creature can go from healthy to ragged, unable to support itself, then dead-thing in the space of just over 48 hours simply due to the bullying effect of another fish; a lesson learned.  We will watch the progress of the Fijian Yellow Angelfish carefully.

Persecuted Percy
5 December 2005

Well, the return of Percy the Persecuted Cardinal didn't last long.  He refused to eat in the main tank and his fins fell apart at an alarming rate. We immediately decided to catch him, but failed to do so until tea-time today when he was so finless that Alice could catch him with the net.  He's back in the sump tank now, but is sufficiently unable to orient himself that he keeps getting stuck to the pump inlet or the protein skimmer inlet.  Alice has managed to block the way to these and we hope he will survive for a few days and begin eating again.  There's probably nothing for it but to feed him back to full strength and see if the shop will take him back. 

Fijian Yellow Angel
4 December 2005

Decided it was time for more colour in the tank and so purchased a Fijian Yellow Angelfish.  It's bigger than Hannibal so shouldn't suffer, though there's a risk the Bangaii Cardinal will suffer more of course.  We've also decided to get an Anemone to keep Hannibal occupied which should arrive in time to be a Christmas present for him.

Fijian Yellow Angelfish

Cardinal Returns
4 December 2005

The Bangaii Cardinal has been well fed in the sump tank and has re-grown most of its fins.  Today we returned it to the main tank. Hannibal took a snap at it even as it was leaving the bag we used for the transfer.  We live in hope that it continues to feed properly.

Feather Duster Deceased
19 November 2005

We'd pretty much given up on the Feather Duster, with constant Hermit Crab attack. The nail in the coffin came a few days ago when it had been entirely yanked out of the sand and was bent double under a rock.  We removed the carcass today.

Cardinal Rescue
28 October 2005

Alice managed to catch the Bangaii Cardinal today with some brine shrimp, a large plastic food bag and a lot of patience.  He's now moping in the sump out of Hannibal's way and has immediately begun eating again. 

Hermit Crab False Alarm And Other Happenings
24 October 2005

A small sigh of relief - the body of the Hermit Crab that we thought we saw must actually have been a skin-shedding from one of them (which explains the lack of a shell nearby).  All six were counted as present and correct today.  Phew.

To balance this, the Bangaii Cardinal has been moping around up in the top right of the tank and eating only one tiny sample of any brine shrimps delivered to him.  We've seen Hannibal chasing him, highlighted by load knocking noises as he runs away, and his ventral fins are  looking somewhat shredded.  We would like to put him in the sump tank and feed him up there, but catching him is easier said than done.

Elsewhere, the Feather Duster is being attacked by the Hermit Crabs and has shed it's crown (which has since been eaten by the Emerald Crab).  We watch and wait.

Temperature And Copepod Bloom
18 October 2005

Having found them useful in the vivarium, we bought another digital thermometer from Thermometers Direct and installed the sensor in the main tank then set the lower and upper temperature alarms to 23 C and 27 C respectively.  Interestingly, the temperature appeared to be only 23.5 C whereas the other temperature sensor we generally use in the sump tank showed around 24.5 C.  The instrument is only accurate to within a degree, so it could be just that we're on the lower end of its tolerance, but since the heater in the tank is set to 24 C we decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and up the temperature setting by 1.5 C.

Alice also noticed a lot of tiny creatures in the sump - up to 4 mm in length with long antenna and around 10 legs each.  These would appear to be copepods, a type of shrimp, which the fish will love to eat.  The Caulerpa is also growing well.  Blooming in the refugium.

Some Soft Corals
15 October 2005

We bought some soft corals today.  A Mushroom or Leather Coral, a Green Star Coral and, to keep Alice happy, a Feather Duster.

Feather Duster Green Star Coral Mushroom or Leather Coral

Also bought a Calcium test today.  This showed 385 mg/l, which is just about optimal for soft corals.

Pyjama Wrasse Deceased!
11 October 2005

Just to cap it all, the Pyjama Wrasse was found floating upside-down in the tank today.  It was hale and hearty yesterday, dead today.  We managed to get to it before the shrimps (had to fight with one of them for it), so we have the body for post-mortem.  Its stomach looks a little distended, but nothing otherwise untoward.  If bad things come in threes, we've had our fill.

Brownie Deceased
10 October 2005

Not having a good week.  We found the entire fishy population of the tank dragging the brown hairy crab's body around this afternoon.  Quite a fracas.

Hermit Crab Deceased
5 October 2005

Found most of the body of one of the hermit crabs on the floor of the tank today, thoroughly dead, its shell nowhere to be seen.

Goby Gone
29 September 2005

Jesus did his stuff again and disappeared for 3 days, this time to  reappear in the sump tank.  He had somehow managed to get over the weir and through 4 metres of pipe work (including 1.5 metres vertically up).  Unharmed by this journey, he fed quite happily in the sump and was given some coral sand to play with.  Quite how he got over the weir is a mystery.  The gap above the weir guard is pretty small (around 5 mm), so it's difficult to see how a bottom-dwelling fish could have launched itself up and over.  There's a possibility that there's a gap in the weir guard at the bottom of the tank which he might have burrowed under, but even there the gap between the weir guard and the glass of the weir itself is not much more than 5 mm.  If he does it again, we'll consider a renaming to Houdini.

More Fish
18 September 2005

Alice decided we need a Pyjama Wrasse (also called 6-line Wrasse) and since the shop had one in stock we set off to get it.  While there, Alice also fell for a Bangaii Cardinal so we bought both.  Got some more Caulerpa for the sump along with a free Turbo Snail which seems to have come with it, bringing the total up to 7 snails in the tank.

Bangaii Cardinal Pyjama Wrasse (just its head as it's hiding in a crevice)

Frabjious News - Jesus Fish!
17 September 2005

The Orange-spotted Goby has risen from the dead!  I had talked to the aquarium shop earlier in the week and they said that it would hide for about 4 days and then come out.  Maybe me poking around with a stick to scare it out wasn't such a clever idea.  It's obviously recovered from the shock now and is sitting in the coral sand filtering away.  I even managed to get a photograph of it.  Next task is to figure out how to get food reliably down to where it sits at the bottom of the tank without the other fish intercepting the food along the way.

Orange-spotted Goby

Good News And Suicide Fish
14 September 2005

The good news is that, 6 weeks from filling the tank, we seem to be through our brown algae phase.  The feed pipe to the tank is clear and the tank itself is pretty clear due to the activities of our clean-up crew.  All that remains is some brown tufts which are too big for them to clear up easily.

The bad news is that the Orange-spotted Goby has not reappeared.  Reading one of our books, it is relatively difficult to keep as it is prone to hiding somewhere obscure to build its nest and then can't be fed.  An expensive mistake.

Vital statistics are: temperature 26 C, pH 8.22, nitrite < 0.3 mg/l, ammonia 0 mg/l but nitrate slightly higher than 25 mg/l; this should cause our Caulerpa to grow.

The Maintenance Regime
11 September 2005



More Fish, Better Water
10 September 2005

After some negotiation with AquaCure, we now have a replacement membrane and filter for our RO unit that will produce 50 gallons per day (as opposed to the 15 gallons per day from the previous one).  This should cut the nitrates down at source.  In the same vein, we've installed an 18 watt white lamp in the sump, on for 8 hours a day, and put some Caulerpa in there to absorb nitrates.


We've also taken a trip to the aquarium shop and increased our Red-legged Hermit Crabs count to 6 and our Turbo Snail count to 6 (though Alice say's the ones we've added look more like Astraea/Lithopoma but these also eat algae).  More exciting, we have an Orange-spotted Goby, which was very active in the shop making a deep hole in the coral sand. He started filtering our coral sand through his gills, but then ran off into the back of the tank somewhere.  Hope he comes out soon.

Turbo Snail

Not Gorillaz
7 September 2005

The brown hairy crab has been sighted on the left-hand side of the tank and appears to be cheerfully eating algae.  On close inspection, the pincers aren't black-tipped, so we're going to keep a watching brief.

More Aiptasia?
6 September 2005

Alice has noticed that there may be several small Aiptasia Anemones on the rock next door to where we cleared the large one off.  Having read in some detail about them (see here), we've decided that we'll get a Peppermint Shrimp of the right sort to keep it at bay and ensure we don't overfeed while keeping up with the water changes (which we need to make as easy as possible).

5 September 2005

Kimsboyfriend on Reef Aquarium Guide has advised that the brown hairy crab might be a Gorilla or Xanthid Crab which can prey on small fish and shrimps.  Characteristics are hairiness and the black-tipped pointed pincers.  However, since we've seen nothing of it after the tank was stocked and all our fish/shrimps remain we're not going to worry about it yet.

Clean-up On Aisle X
3 September 2005

During the last week the conditions have remained largely stable, though ammonia has shown something closer to 0.25 mg/l on two days.  Brown algae build-up has occurred, though the Emerald Crab that has taken residence on the right-hand side of the tank has been busy scraping it up.  Doesn't help with the brown stuff on the left-hand side of the tank or on the gravel though.  Checking nitrate levels indicated 25 mg/l so action had to be taken.

We went out and bought another Cleaner Shrimp plus a Caribbean Red-legged Hermit Crab and some spare shells.  The Red-legged Hermit Crabs are less likely than other Hermit Crabs to eat other molluscs such as Turbo Snails, or disturb corals if/when we get some. It turned out that two of the spare shells also contained Red-legged Hermit Crabs, which was rather a bonus.  All these creatures won't eat the algae directly but will help clear-up the detritus that causes the nitrate level to rise which encourages algal growth.

Caribbean Red-legged Hermit Crab

We also did a 10% water change.

In discussion with our aquarium supplier what we need is probably an Orange-spotted Goby, which will filter the algae off the coral sand and possibly a tang (Regal Tang or Yellow-eyed/ Kole Tang) to nibble at the algae on the rocks. A posting on Reef Aquarium Guide has brought some advice from Kimsboyfriend suggesting that we gradually add Hermit Crabs and Turbo Snails up to a maximum of 20 of each, plus a couple more Emerald Crabs.  Our sole Turbo Snail is leaving a clean white trail through the brown algae on the live rock and the hermit crabs are at least turning over the coral sand.

A Triffid
2 September 2005

Various hydras, anemones, a tiny starfish and a turbo snail have appeared on the live rock.  Unfortunately a rather large and pretty anemone has turned out to be a Triffid Anemone or Aiptasia Anemone, capable of stinging small fish and multiplying rapidly.  We removed the rock with it on and scrubbed under hot water to get rid of it.

Adding Fish
27 August 2005

We went away on holiday for two weeks and came back to find the conditions as we left them (nitrite < 0.3 mg/l, ammonia 0 mg/l) but with a smattering of brown algae on the coral sand.  We cleared this away, did a 5% water change and then added the Clown Fish, Yellow-tailed Blue and Cleaner Shrimp from our old over-grown tank. We could see that at least the Emerald Crab was still alive and kicking as well.

Adding Live Rock
12 August 2005

The live rock was added and the whole thing left to mature before adding animals, though a few crabs, a worm and a Turbo Snail came with the live rock.  The crab on the left is an Emerald Crab (identified by the green colour and the faint red spots on the elbows). 

Emerald Crab that arrived with the live rock Brown crab that arrived with the live rock

At the start of maturation the vital statistics were: temperature 26 C, pH 8.39, nitrite < 0.3 mg/l, ammonia 0 mg/l.

The Setup
7 August 2005

The tank was made for us by Seashell Aquariums measuring 120cm across by 45 cm deep by 53 cm high (so about 260 litres capacity) with a central weir.  Into this we have put two 30 Watt lighting tubes, one marine white the other marine blue actinic (made by Arcadia). Both are on simple mains timers, adjusted so that the blue is on for 10 minutes longer than the white giving a dawn/dusk effect.  There is room for a third lamp.

The tank is mounted on a large oak sideboard right in the middle of the house where it gets no direct light from outside.  A solid 1¼ inch pipe leads from the weir and under the floorboards out to the built-in garage where a 3 foot (80 litre) tank receives the water under gravity feed acting as the sump.

Tank Diagram

All the filtration and heating is in the sump.  There’s a Deltec protein skimmer, MC500, mounted inside the sump and a NewJet 2300 litres/hour pump which pushes the water down a 1¼ inch flexible pipe back to the tank.  Heating is from a VisiTherm 300 Watt thermostatic heater placed in the sump and set at 26 C.  There’s a sink in the garage next to the sump where my old reverse osmosis filter is mounted to provide water for changes.  I'm still working on the water change mechanism.

Back in the main tank, the base is covered with 8 kilos of coarse gravel, 4 kilos of medium gravel and 4 kilos of sand (all Tropical Marine).  This is a fairly thin layer.  On top of this is 60 kg of live rock (apparently from Jakarta, Indonesia) built into a wall with grottos.

Sump Tank in the garage Aquarium in the lounge

The tank was first filled on 7 August 2005, primarily as a system test of all the equipment. Filling took around 12 hours, then a further 8 hours to come up to temperature at 25 C.  There was no discernable temperature difference between the sump and the tank.  Salinity was then brought up to 1.021 with Red Sea salt.

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