Species Profile: Splendid Dottyback

I would like to welcome back Melissa Leiter, One of our staff Marine Biologists here at That Fish Place. Melissa has a species profile for one of the thousands of fish here in our fish room.

Welcome Melissa,

The Splendid dottyback, Pseudochromis splendens, is a spectacular fish with its bluish gray stripped body and brilliant yellow tail. They tend to be bullies or down right nasty if they are housed with smaller docile fish. They do best if kept with other larger semi-aggressive fish in a large tank, or kept by themselves in a smaller tank. They definitely don’t need “friends” to be happy.

Something cool about dottybacks in general, including the splendid dottyback, is that they are all hermaphrodites meaning theoretically if you add 2 of the same species you should get a male female pair as long as they don’t kill each in the process of deciding dominance. Splendid dottybacks adjust to captive life very well, and in fact, are one of the few marine fish species that have been succesfully raised in captivity. Splendid Dottybacks will accept many foods including mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, formula 1, formula 2, even flakes and pellets. They are far from “picky” eaters.

They may also hunt down and eat those annoying bristle worms and flat worms to keep those populations under control. So if you are looking for a small hard headed fish that has the attitude of an angry trigger from time to time then the splendid dottyback is the fish for you!


Thanks Melissa, Psuedochromis are one of my favorite types of marine fish. They have alot of attitude in a little package, and are alot of fun to keep.

Until next blog,


Coral Whisperer

Most of you have probably heard of the Horse Whisperer, and some of you are familiar with the dog whisperer as well. How about the Coral Whisperer? While he may never get a movie made about him, or his own cable television show, Mitch Carl of the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha Nebraska is being recognized for his ability to successfully raise Elkhorn Corals in captivity. I came across an article posted on the Omaha World Review website dubbing Mitch Carl as “The Coral Whisperer” for his ability to raise corals from wild captured eggs and sperm, where many others have had less success.

As part of an international research project which is studying sexual coral reproduction (SECORE), Carl and the Henry Doorly Zoo were one of many facilities that took part in the ongoing project, and received wild harvested Elkhorn coral eggs and sperm to try and raise in captivity. According to the article, 500,000 embryos were collected and distributed, of those only 1,100 were still alive after 3 months; these were Mitch Carl’s corals. As techniques have improved in subsequent harvests, survival rates have dramatically increased since the initial collection. Last year Carl was able to keep 75% on his embryos alive, other facilities involved in the project were still unable to achieve more than a 50% success rate. This is where the legend of the Coral whisperer comes from.

This project is of significance because of the coral species at the heart of the project. Elkhorn Coral is vital to natural reef systems throughout the world. It is not only one of the skeleton building corals that build foundations of the world reefs. The heavily branching Elkhorn coral provides habitat for many fish and other animals, as well as providing shorelines with a barrier from storm and wave action. Some estimates put destruction of the worlds Elkhorn Coral, mostly from human related activities, as high as 90%, and Elkhorn Coral is now an endangered species.

Most coral farming is done using asexual reproduction or cloning, taking small pieces or “frags” from a parent colony and allowing it to grow. This process is repeated time after time, and results in many copies of the original. Coral Farming using this “fraging” method produces coral that is adapted to captive environments, and thrives in aquarium conditions. This process works well for corals that are intended for aquarium or zoo use; however it is not a good method of reproduction for coral that is for reintroduction to the wild. These corals have been in captivity for many generations, and have adapted for unnatural conditions. Asexual reproduction is slow, and there is also the risk of introducing unwanted elements back into natural habitats.

Researchers hope that a viable sexual reproduction strategy can be reached, this will allow for “wild” corals to be grown in captivity in huge numbers, then be reintroduced back to the reefs where the eggs and sperm were collected. The hope is that these corals can be grown in coastal regions, where the eggs were collected, so that conditions can be matched as closely as possible to where they will be “planted” on the reef. Successful sexual reproduction of corals would also be of great value to the aquarium trade, the more captive raised corals become available, the less impact the hobby will have on natural reefs, as well as potentially lowering cost with the ability to mass produce corals sexually.

I hope you enjoyed this story. You can get more inforation about the SECORE project at www.secore.org

Until next blog


High Tech Wave Makers

Wave makers have gone high tech in recent years; I would like to introduce you to a couple of the units that we carry here at That Fish Place. The EcoTech Marine VorTech propeller pump system, and the Seio Electronic Controller from TAAM.

The EcoTech Marine VorTech is one of the most ingenious water pumps ever made. The motor section of the pump is actually located outside of the aquarium, and powers the inner propeller section through a magnetic system. This eliminates heat caused by traditional submersible pumps, as well as gives the internal portions of the device a really small size, especially for the amount of flow that it is capable of. This system allows the pump to be mounted virtually anywhere in your aquarium

The pump is controlled wirelessly with the EcoTech Marine Wireless Wave Driver. The driver allows you to control the output of the VorTech from 500 gph to 3000 gph, with several settings for different flow patterns. It also has a feed mode that shuts the pump off when you want to turn it off for feeding your aquarium.
EcoTech Marine also makes a battery back system for the Vortech that can keep the unit running up to 30 hours in the event of a power outage.

The Seio Electronic Controller, when mated with two Seio Super Flow Pumps, creates a powerful wave making system. The controller will operate one or two Seio Pumps from 30% to 100% output, and you can control the duration and cycle of speed changes. The result is wildly variable water currents that mimic nature in motion. The unit also has a feeding mode that shuts down the pumps for feeding your aquarium

I can’t wait to see what comes out next

Until next blog,


Home Aquarium Care – Choosing a Power Filter

At That Fish Place, we get questions from hobbyists at all levels of involvement: from those looking to try their hand at keeping a few freshwater tropicals to someone ready to install a 2000 gallon reef system in their living room. This post is geared toward those starter hobbyists looking for reliability, ease and convenience in maintaining their first aquarium: while keeping costs to a minimum. I’d like to focus on the “ol’ reliable” of aquarium filtration: the Power Filter.

First, let me say that though everyone wants a “quick fix” when it comes to aquarium filtration, there really is no filter that can take the place of regular water changes. Regardless of the system you choose, regular water changes will always be required to keep your aquarium in ideal condition.
Three of the most popular aquarium power filters, and certainly ones with staying power and longevity on the market, are the Tetra Whisper, Marineland Emperor and Penguin and Hagen AquaClear power filter models. All have been around for years and each are about as simple and straightforward as it comes in maintenance and operation.

Whisper power filters are designed with only a single moving impeller to draw aquarium water into the filter, where it then flows back into the aquarium through the filtration media. In this case, a simple-to-use and replace cartridge uses activated carbon and floss material to provide chemical and mechanical filtration, while an additional bio-sponge maintains biological activity. With only one moving part, they’re easy to maintain and repair and are renowned for their ease of use. As the name suggests, these filters are also very quiet. The only drawback is they really don’t offer many choices for additional filter media. Depending on your aquarium’s conditions, you may want to add extra media to take out ammonia or phosphate, and Whisper models don’t really allow for much customization.

Penguin and Emperor Bio-Wheel Power Filters are well-known for their patented Bio-Wheel design. This rotating wheel provides beneficial bacteria access to the atmosphere, which has much more available oxygen than your aquarium water. The bio-wheel system on the Penguin and Emperor filters allows for far more efficient biological filtration ability than a standard power filter. Chemical and mechanical filtration is provided with a cartridge, just like the Whisper model. Water flows through a single-impeller pump drawn through an intake tube. The Bio-Wheel and impeller parts are easy to find and replace. The Bio-Wheel design does add some extra water flow noise, but nothing that is too noticeable. Like the Whisper model, the penguin filter does not offer additional space for chemical filter media. The Emperor models offer an additional cartridge space that allows you to add your own choice of chemical media to the filter.

Hagen’s AquaClear Power Filters are also a popular option. Each one uses the single impeller motor design typical of power filters. The biggest difference is that these units also have a filter media area, allowing for more customized filtration options. Various medias are available in premeasured packets from Hagen, or you can add your own using a filter media bag. The lack of an easy-to-change cartridge makes these models not quite as simple as the others, but the premeasured media packets and increased versatility make up for that.

There are also a few new options on the power filter market. While not as proven or tested as the established stand-bys, some of these offer unique features worth taking a look at. The new Aqueon Power Filter offers a larger biological grid as well as a motor that actually sits below water level inside the tank: eliminating priming and noise.

The Biosystem Power Filter uses a typical cartridge type filter system, as well as a cool intake tube that actually acts as a surface skimmer to take away build-up on the surface of the water in your tank.


The new Rena SmartFilter Power Filter is one of the more innovative filters to come out in this market segment. The SmartFilter offers an easy-to-install cartridge design and bio chamber, and has many different cartridges available to customize your filtration options. The smartfilter also has an available integrated SmartHeater systems that actually doubles as the intake tube for that filter, thus eliminating the need for a separate heater in your aquarium, aquarium viewers will never know its there.
While not recommended for larger tanks, power filters offer excellent filtration to the right size aquarium; and they can’t be beat when it comes to ease of use and durability. I hope that this has helped you make a power filter selection for your aquarium

Until next blog,


Chemical filtration: Media Reactors

One of the most beneficial pieces of equipment to make its way into the hobby in recent years is the media reactor. Media reactors maximize the efficiency of just about any chemical filter media. By actively passing fluid through a reactor, you will eliminate clogging and bypass problems found when using a traditional filter media bags. Media reactors can have very specific uses, like the calcium reactors and kalkwasser reactors that I discussed in a previous blog, or they can be used for a variety of other purposes. Two similar reactors that are sold as fluidized phosphate media reactors, the Two Little Fishes Phosban Reactor, and the Kent Marine Phos Reactor, can be used with most granular or pelletized chemical media. These units are not just for phosphate remover; these units work great for carbon and other resins.

One of the coolest reactors to hit the market is the new Simplicity Fluidized Bed Chemical Reactor from Magnavore. This unit is designed for use in a sump, and is very easy to install and operate. Micron sieves on either side of the reactor make sure that nothing escapes from the reactor, and the media container is reversible to eliminate clogging problems before your media is exhausted.

The Magnavore unit can be purchased as a stand alone reactor, or there are actually two units incorporated into the new Magnavore Berliner 125 wet dry filter, which is one of the most innovative wet dry filter available.

Get the most out of your chemical filter media, try a reactor

Until next blog