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Contains articles featuring information, advice or answering questions regarding reef aquariums, livestock or equipment.

Pulsing Xenia – The Heartbeat of a Reef Aquarium

Pom-Pom Pulsing Xenia is one of my favorite corals. Quite simplistic, in color and shape, but there is something about the pulsing action and the beauty of the polyps that ranks it in my top ten corals. There are a few different types of pulsing Xenia found in the trade, such as the Pom Pom and the Silver varieties.

Considered a pest or a “weed” to some, others find it almost impossible to keep alive. There are plenty of possibilities as to why this is the case, but it always comes down to water quality. It is thought that Xenia cannot take in food like many corals do feeding on zooplankton and phytoplankton, leaving photosynthesis as the main food source. Xenia also has the ability to absorb certain nutrients and organics from the water column when needed. Due to the rate of growth and the ability to absorb organics, some people use Xenia in refugiums with or without macro algae to export excess nutrients. Not a proven miracle worker, but something to brighten up a refugium and do some work at the same time. Not to mention a small income possibility; since Xenia has a difficult time being shipped from supplier to store due to the amount of time being in a bag, the best supplier of Xenia is from local “coral farmers”.

Xeniids, despite their tolerance to not so clean water conditions are very sensitive to lower pH levels, especially when there is a constant fluctuation in levels. This can lead to a lack of pulsing, or even to the disappearance of the colony. Temperature, lack of or too much water flow, low lighting, and even over skimmed and over filtered aquarium can lead to problems.

Pulsing XeniaThe other potential problem with Xenia is it’s ability to take over the aquarium. With an obnoxious growth rate, neighboring corals can quickly become the next object that the Xenia grows on, possibly choking out the individual. In this situation, removing the Xenia becomes the major problem. Simply cutting the Xenia off the coral or rock may do the trick, but it has an uncanny ability to sprout a new colony or colonies from the original piece. A Kalk paste ( a paste of kalkwasser that can be applied to invasive Xenia polyps to kill those encroaching portions) can do the trick, but must be used with extreme caution with nearby corals or with pH levels. Again, to most people this is a good problem, thriving corals can equal profit.

So the next time you are looking for a hardy, unique coral, consider giving Pulsing Xenia a try, in the right application it can really shine.

Tridacna Clams – New Eye Candy for Your Reef

Maxima ClamHi, Dave back again, just wanted to share with you some of the amazing Tridacna Clams that we have been seeing over the past few weeks. The diversity of colors and patterns that we have received in recent shipments may be the best that we have ever seen. That is saying something, given that I have seen thousands of clams over the years, but every time I walk past the clams lately, I cannot help myself from stopping to admire them for a while.

Maxima ClamThe photos shown here are just a sample of some of what we have had in stock, many were snatched up before we could even get pictures taken of them.  These clams have been coming from a number of sources, both captive raised and wild stock. We have gotten some really nice farm raised T. derasa and T. squamosa from ORA (oceans reefs and aquariums). The Derasa Clams in particular have had really nice color patterns.

We received some really amazing T. maxima clams that were wild harvested from Tuamota, a chain of island atolls in French Polynesia. We are expecting a new shipment of these Maxima Clams in the coming weeks, which we are eagerly awaiting. We only got a few of these specimens from the last batch that were imported, and were sorry we did not get more. These may have been the nicest Maxima Clams that I have ever seen.

Ultra CroceaWe have started to see T. crocea clams become available again, they had become scarce earlier this year. Most of the Crocea Clams in the hobby are coming from Vietnam these days. These wild harvested clams have been coming in a nice variety of sizes and color morphs.

Check out our YOUR CHOICE section of our livestock page in the coming weeks for all of our WYSIWYG clams and animals, Aquacultured Derasaas we get some more of the beauties in stock and up for sale.

Hope that you enjoyed the photos of some of our clammy eye candy!


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,