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Overfeeding and Water Quality

Please welcome Sam Yost as a blogger on That Fish Blog.  Sam has recently been promoted to Fish Room Supervisor and will be graduating from Millersville University in December with a degree in Marine Biology. 

Hello, My name is Sam Yost.  Being a hobbyist and working with other hobbyists in the trade, I have grown to understand that  keeping good water quality is one of the most important parts of aquarium keeping. If your aquarium water quality is bad, and a regular maintenance schedule is not kept, your fish will not be healthy, or will not live to their full potential.

There are many things that can happen in a tank to degrade the water quality. One of the major problems in maintaining water quality is overfeeding.  By overfeeding, a lot of unused food ends up breaking down in the tank.  It can be difficult to tell when fish have had enough, especially if there are a lot of fish in the tank, but it may be best to underfeed instead of dumping copious amounts of food. When uneaten food breaks down in the tank, it can cause a spike in ammonia, nitrites or nitrates. This spike, even if it is small, can be deadly to fish.  It may also settle into the substrate, where it can break down and cause chemistry problems, fish illness and other problems down the line.

There are several things you can do to help alleviate these overfeeding/water quality issues.

Consider what your fish need. Different fish can require different types and sizes of food, and some may require more frequent feedings than others. Generally, fish should be fed food that is about the size of their eye or smaller, or foods that can be broken easily, like flakes, that they can easily take in.

The amount of food administered should be what they can consume with in a minute or so. It is better to feed your fish several small meals than one large meal. Generally in a community, small feedings in the morning, evening and night will work great!  By doing three small feedings, there is a smaller amount of food being wasted.

Small, frequent feedings are also more healthy for the fish.  They are not eating so much that they look bloated, and the food can be used more efficiently.

You can also minimize the amount of waste that is put in to the tank by rinsing frozen food. This action gets rid of excess preservatives that are used to keep the food fresh so they go down the drain instead of breaking down in the tank.

Finally, small frequent water changes to reduce nitrates and gravel siphoning after several days can remove any waste and decaying food from the substrate.  A good, regular maintenance schedule will allow you to keep the water pristine and give your fish the best possible water quality for long, happy, healthy lives!



Dragonets – Beauties with Specialized Palates

Hi everyone, Jason here!  Reefs can be described in so many ways.  They have every color imaginable, and creatures different in such drastic ways all living in closely intertwined communities.  Some are the hunters and some are the prey.  You could explore the same section of the reef everyday and there is a decent chance of discovering something new, whether a new creature or a specific behavior that allows so many creatures to coexist in a specific area.  Reproducing these niches cause a rather difficult situation when trying to put these rare and exotic creatures into the confined area of a home aquarium. 

 Green Mandarin Dragonette One of our more frequently sought after fish are the Dragonets.  We usually carry three or four different species of them.  The most common two are the Green Mandarin Dragonet (Synchiropus picturatus) and the Blue Mandarin Dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus).  These fish are extremely colorful and very entertaining to watch when placed in an adequate aquarium.

The Dragonets are a challenging fish to keep in the home aquarium.  It is not as much an issue of how hardy they are but rather their diet which can make them difficult to keep.  Unlike most fish available to the aquarium trade, they are not easily enticed to eat prepared foods, mostly because they do not recognize these processed items as food.  In the wild, they hunt small crustaceans called the copepods.  They usually require a tank that has been established for about a year, with at least 90 pounds of live rock to provide a population of copepods.  The naturally occurring copepods provide prey for the active hunting lifestyle of the dragonet.  Some aquarists try feeding live black worms in an attempt to wean them off of copepods with occasional success, but this will require regular purchase and maintenance of live black worms. This practice works for a short time, but ultimately, black worms do not contain enough nutrition to act as a substantial food source.  If it were not for their constant hunt for food and limited food source these fish might be easier to keep. 

Blue Mandarin Dragonette If you are able to provide a sufficient copepod/amphipod population, Dragonets can do well in the aquarium with most other fish.  However, when it comes to being kept with other Dragonets there can be an issue (besides exausted food sources).  A pair consisting of a male and female will usually get along without aggression, but if you put two males in an aquarium (unless it is very large) they may fight, as they are very territorial.  You can differentiate between a male and a female by their size and the elongated dorsal fin.  The male will be more robust than the female, and he’ll have a long extension from the dorsal fin that the female lacks.  Dragonets have been known to breed in captivity, but there is usually an extremely low success rate.  The male and female will rise up into the water column side by side to release the eggs and sperm.  Typically, they are more likely to show this behavior under actinic lights which simulate dusk or dawn lighting. 

If you have the well established reef to sustain them, and you want a show-stopping little fish, a Dragonet may be the way to go! 


Until next time,


Reef Trends – The Chalice Coral Craze

Hello, Cory here with a short blog on an interesting new wave in the world of reefing, the new obsession with Chalice corals.  A couple years ago, Chalice Corals were not very popular or in demand type of coral, despite the ease of care and collection. They were offered around the country, at very reasonable prices. This is no longer the case. With the influx of ridiculously colorful specimens in the market, the Chalice Coral craze has begun!

The Chalice Coral’s appearance can be difficult to describe. Chalice corals are part of the Pectiniidae Family, more specifically the Genus Echinophyllia, but Mycedium and Oxypora species can also be considered in the group. Chalice Corals can be very easy to Crazy orange Chalicekeep. They require low to moderate light, with a few species needing a bit more to help bring out some of the intense coloration. Due to the ability of Chalices to adapt to most lighting conditions, you must try to replicate the lighting conditions of the store or person before you, or the coral may change it’s colors completely. After a few weeks to a couple of months, you may have a coral that looks nothing like the one you purchased. Too much and too little water movement can have negative effects, but don’t worry too much. They can be tolerant of most currents as long as they are more turbulent rather than laminar. These corals can be very aggressive, but most lack very long sweeper tentacles, so the space around them can be manipulated. Since thier growth is relatively slow, you don’t have to worry about them encroaching upon your other prize corals. However, always remember over time they may eventually converge with a neighboring coral and the battle will begin. They primarily feed at night, preying upon small, meaty foods such as cyclops and oyster eggs.

For the past year or so, Chalice Corals have become the popular corals to keep, like Acans and Zoanthid polyps before them. Prices per frag range from 15 to 20 dollars for the standard variety. The more uncommon varieties are ranging from 50 to as muchMiami Hurricane Chalice as 300 dollars or more per frag, depending on the size!  One example, the Tyree LE Bumble Gum Monster Chalice can be as much as 250 dollars per ¾ inch frag! Recently, an extremely rare species, coined the My Miami Chalice frag was auctioned for 2000 dollars on eBay. The frag was close to an inch in size. My collection includes two variants at the moment, the Sour Apple and the Christmas Chalice. That Fish Place carries a few varieties such as the Miami Hurricane and the Rainbow Delight (Jason Fox frags)with many others hopefully to come in the future.  Check them out!

Until next time,


JBJ is Back At TFP!

Hi everyone, Dave here. It has been a few years since we last offered any products from JBJ USA, we are proud to once again offer products from this innovative manufacturer.  As one of the pioneers of the all in one Nano-Reef aquarium, JBJ’s Nano Cube allowed aquarist with limited space and/or budgets to enjoy the beauty of the natural reef aquarium.  Over the years, the JBJ Nano Cube has undergone quite a few changes, and we have brought the product line back to TFP with two of their most advanced models  ever, the 28 gallon HQI, and the 28 gallon power compact powered Nano Cubes.

The 28 gallon HQI Nano Cube features a single 150watt 14K metal halide bulb, as well as 4 LED Nite-Vu bulbs, which give a high power 24 hr lighting system for whatever your reef keeping desires may be.  Along with its powerful light source, the New Nano Cube has a wealth of other high tech features, like a built in Air powered protein skimmer, and a dual return pump system that incorporates a pair of JBJ’s Accela powerheads controlled by an adjustable JBJ Ocean Pulse wavemaker.  These features add up to give this new Nano Cube a lot of bang for the buck, and allow you to keep even the most light demanding species of coral happy and healthy.

The 28 gallon power compact version of the tank features much of the same technology as its HQI powered counterpart, including the integrated filtration system, dual pump wavemaker, and LED Nite-Vu systems.  The biggest difference between the two is obviously the light supply.   The power compact Nano Cube uses a high power (105 watt) quad tube power compact, that has a dual spectrum output of 10,000K on one side, and 7100K on the other.  With this set up you can use the system for freshwater or saltwater, and there is plenty of lighting power for keeping  live plants or many corals thriving in this cool little tank. The compact flourescent model does not have a protein skimmer like the HQI version, but does have another interesting option.  The filtration tray has a clear lid on it, so that the filtration compartment can easily be transformed into a built in refugium.  Simply remove the media and replace it with macroalgae, pretty cool.

If you are in the market for an all in one aquarium system, you should check out the latest offerings from JBJ here at TFP, they are very nicely designed little tanks.

Until next time,


The Danios – Little Fish with Big Potential

Hello everyone! This is Craig, just writing a short blog on a group of fish that seems to be seeing a swell in popularity within the aquarium hobby lately. The danios. Yes… the lowly, boring, indestructible danios. You might just be surprised at how diverse and beautiful this group of fish has now become within the hobby. Gone are the days when Zebra danios (Danio rerio) and Leopard danios (Danio rerio ‘frankei’)were the only choices for hardy danio species. With the influx of newly discovered freshwater fish from South East Asia, there are many new and colorful species of danio. Almost all of these new danios still hold that indestructible danio trait. Here are some of the newest species in the hobby:

Danio choprae – the Glowlight Danio
Glowlight DanioThese fish are one of the smallest of danio species. Barely attaining a size of 2 inches, these little fish are very active and have been known to spawn in home aquaria! Their body is a beautiful gold with glowing orange stripe going down its side. You can also see some blue barring on the fish when they are very happy! Kept in groups of 10 or more, these little fish are really spectacular!

Danio sp. “Burma” – the Burma Danio
This is a relatively new discovery in the world of danios. A subtle, yet beautiful fish. The Burma Danio is another smaller species that has a wash of gold and green down its sides. These washes form very distinct green spots that are ringed in metallic gold! When these little fellows are kept in large schools of 10 or more, they swim in tight formations and swing from one side of the tank to the other. If you want to see what schooling fish are all about, this is your fish!

Danio kyathit – the Orange Fin Danio
The Orange Fin Danio may look like its cousin the Zebra Danio, but when placed in a planted aquarium with plenty of other OrangeOrange Fin Danio Fin Danios, this species will develop broad, reddish-orange stripes on its fins. To make things even more interesting, this fish comes in a striped or spotted color morph! Regardless of the morph you see, this fish makes a robust and hardy addition to any home aquaria.

Devario sp. “Giraffe” – the Giraffe Danio
A slightly larger species of danio, these 3 inch schooling fish boast an iridescent green and orange pattern to their sides that will remind you of a giraffe’s mottling. Very hardy and very rare! This species of danio is one of the most uncommon seen today and is already proving to be a beautiful and hardy fish. As with all danio species, these fish are lively and appreciate a well planted aquarium.

Laubuca dadiburjori – the Dadio
Hailing from India, this tiny danio reaches barely over an inch and is another rarity in the hobby. It has shown to be very hardy and even able to tolerate cooler water temperatures. The Dadio shows a more muted coloration and has a thin body with pale orange on the side and a thin blue stripe going through the orange. There is also a second color morph in which the blue stripe has three tiny little balls of blue spaced along the stripe. This is yet another species that will benefit from being kept with several of its own kind.

As you can see, there are some beautiful and interesting new species of danio that are just now making their way into the hobby. I, like most hobbyists, have overlooked the danios for years, but seeing the newer introductions, I have to say that they are indeed charming little fish that add life and even a little splash of color your aquarium. Even the old standards, the Zebra and Leopard danios, tend to take on new beauty now! Just remember, these spunky little fish will always do better in larger schools of 6 or more. Also, these guys love to eat, so a couple of small feedings per day will help to keep them in good shape. If you decide to get a handful of these little guys, enjoy!