It’s a problem that affects all genres of aquarists. You finally find that “perfect fish” – a discus, angelfish, cichlid, tang, whatever – that is healthy, bold and beautiful at the pet store, but when you get it home, it disappears from view, hiding behind the biggest ornament or plant it can find. Is it sick? Scared? Shy? How can you get it out into the open? For some shy or reclusive fish, it could be as easy as giving it an example to follow. Enter the “dither fish”. Read More »
Author Archives: Eileen DaubFeed Subscription
Aquarist First Aid – Bristleworm Spines
Almost every saltwater aquarium that has had live rock or corals has bristleworms. They may not be obvious, you may not see them, but chances are that they are there…and their “attacks” are some of the most common injuries that hobbyists encounter. Read More »
Aquarist First Aid – Assembling Your Emergency Medical Kit
There are a few things every aquarist should have on hand, especially for saltwater and reef aquariums. Algae scrubbers, food for their fish, extra filter media…and first aid supplies. Even the most cautious of us gets scraped, stung, poked, cut, irritated and altogether abused sometimes when we work on our tanks. The supplies you may want to have depends on what you have in your aquarium (freshwater aquarists may not need many of these items) and your own medical history (if you know you are allergic to something like bee stings or salt creep or fake SCUBA diver ornaments, you may need some extra items like an Epi-pen or special medications). Keep these items in a clean, waterproof container in your aquarium stand or nearby for easy access. Read More »
The Real Purple Reef Lobster – Daum’s Vs. Debelius
Some time ago, we discussed the scientific naming system and how common names can vary between hobbyists, sources and regions. Sometimes, they can also overlap. Take, for example, the “Purple Reef Lobster”. There are two lobsters that are commonly sold and imported under this generic name. Daum’s Purple Reef Lobster and Debelius’s Purple Reef Lobster are similar in size, color and appearance, but are actually separate and unique species. An untrained eye may easily me fooled…
Daum’s Purple Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus daumi) is probably the more common out of the two in most marine aquariums. Its body is mostly orange with some fine red lines and markings. The purple is on the top of the head, just behind and to the rear of the eyes, and on the front claws. The front of the claw – mostly the hinged “thumb” part – may be faintly banded. The shell on the abdomen of the lobster has tiny white spots and the legs are usually bright reddish-orange.
Debelius Purple Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus debelius) is in some ways the opposite of the Daum’s and, in my opinion, more deserving of the “Purple” in Purple Reef Lobster. Instead of a colored shell with light spots, the base color on the Debelius is light lavender with darker purple spots over its entire body and darker purple claws. The legs and antennae are bright orange and the tip of the claws and the “thumbs” of the claws are banded with pale and bright orange.
Cliff Notes version? Daum’s = colored body, white spots. Debelius = pale body, darker spots. Both lobsters are generally considered reef safe and community safe with caution, have the same meaty scavenger diet and grow to about 5 inches in length. Two different lobsters, one common name, but each a beautiful and fun to watch aquarium addition to your saltwater aquarium.
How to Set Up A Quarantine Tank
Every aquarist has a horror story about something terrible happening to their tank after adding something new. An outbreak of ich, a giant, scary bristleworm, or some other unwelcome hitchhiker that created panic and a scramble to get the aquarium back to its former condition. To avoid or prevent such situations we can’t recommend enough the assembly of a quarantine tank. For a few bucks and an hour of your time the isolation tank will likely save you the stress and anger of common issues that come with adding new stock for the duration of your aquarium keeping days.
Quarantine tanks, or “hospital tanks”, are a highly beneficial and typically underestimated part of keeping your fish healthy and happy. A good quarantine system will help you monitor the health of new fish before adding them to your aquarium, minimizing the spread of disease and ensuring that the fish is eating well. The tank is also highly useful to treat sick or injured fish, a smaller volume of water means less medication, and the smaller tank helps you monitor the recovery. Even the simplest quarantine tank will pay for itself in money saved from reduced use of medications and fewer fish losses. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re an aquarium veteran, this piece of equipment should be considered as essential as a good filter.
Quarantine tanks only require a few essential pieces of equipment. All you need for a successful tank are the following:
Tank – ten to twenty gallons is usually sufficient, depending on the size fish you plan on keeping
Filter – anything from a simple sponge filter to a small power filter
Heater – essential to tropical and saltwater systems
Simple shelter – not completely necessary, but will reduce stress by giving the fish a place to hide and feel more secure. Think PVC tube, old driftwood or an old plant or ornament.
You may also want to keep a small air pump and airstone on hand to apply during periods of medication.
Quarantine to Suit Your Needs and the Needs of Your Fish
There are two main types of quarantine systems, permanent and emergency. Permanent systems are highly recommended because they are more stable, but emergency systems will work in a pinch if properly maintained.
Permanent systems remain set up and established all the time, whether a fish is being medicated or not. This allows for a stable environment closer to that of the main aquarium, but requires space and time for it to be maintained. This type of quarantine tank should be equipped with a small power or canister filter, and water conditions kept similar to the main tank. Ideally, the filter should allow for easy removal of the chemical media (carbon, zeolite, etc) while medicating. The tank should be maintained regularly as well. Frequent water changes and algae maintenance after cycling will keep the tank healthy and ready for new arrivals or ailing fish. Hardy fish like danios or plecos (for freshwater) or mollies and damsels (for saltwater) will keep the tank cycled and stable between uses. When adding new fish to these systems, the fish should be slowly acclimated to the new tank, as water conditions will be different from their previous tank.
Not everyone has the space to keep a second tank set-up all the time. Keeping the necessary equipment for setting up a hospital tank (even if it is stored in the basement or garage) will help you be prepared if you have a problem.
The emergency quarantine tank is one that is set-up as needed. While not as stable as a system that remains established, these systems are good for isolating and medicating sick fish, or as a temporary home for a new or displaced fish. Since these tanks are set up only as needed, a power filter is preferred, but not necessary. A simple sponge filter attached to an air pump is sufficient. The tank should be filled with water from the existing aquarium to give the fish a somewhat more stable environment. For this reason, a long acclimation is often not needed. These tanks also do not require starter fish to maintain the nitrogen cycle because they are cleaned out after each use. When cleaning, it is important to remember not to use harsh chemicals like Windex, or other cleaners. If disinfection is necessary, a very diluted bleach solution can be used. Just make sure to rinse the tank thoroughly after using the bleach water, and allow the tank to dry thoroughly before using it again.
Quarantine systems may seem like an unneccessary hassle or a waste of money, but anyone who has experienced an outbreak or any other major issue will tell you it’s worth your time.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.