The Hawkfish – Genus Cirrhitichthys

Falco’s HawkfishThe genus Cirrhitichthys is the largest group of hawkfish represented by 8 different species. The name Cirrhitichthys comes from the Latin “cirrhi”, or “cirri”, meaning filament or fringe, and “ichthys” which simply means fish. As their name suggests, the fish in this genus are distinguished from other hawkfish by the filamentous tufts on the end of their dorsal spines.

Cirrhitichthys, like all other hawkfish, are protogynous hermaphrodites. That means all hawkfish are born as females, but rely on environmental triggers to incite one female to become a dominant male. They are typically found perching high up on corals, watching below for small crabs and shrimp which they swoop in to eat, much like a predatory hawk. The fish prop themselves up with their large, skinless pectoral fins. Because these fins are skinless, they do not feel the sting of the corals they perch upon, so a coral colony can offer protection to these smaller fish.  Hawkfish are generally quite active during the day, hopping from one perch to another in search of food. They are generally hardy and disease free. They should be offered meaty foods such as mysis shrimp and squid, but their greedy nature will lead them to snatch up pellets, flakes and pretty much anything else you offer. Just like any fish, variation in their diet and vitamin supplements will help to maintain health and coloration. Read More »

Aquascaping – Proper Techniques for Planting Aquatic Plants

Amazon SwordLive plants are to the freshwater aquarist what live corals are to the saltwater reef aquarist. They add a natural look to the tank, can benefit the water quality and other livestock and can be a challenge to maintain and “aqua-scape” into just the right look for the aquarium. Just as corals need to be placed in the right area of the aquarium and secured correctly so they can remain healthy and thriving, so also do plants need to be planted correctly and appropriately. Knowing how to best plant different types of live plants that you may have will help them thrive. Keep in mind however that these are general guidelines. Some plants prefer larger or smaller substrates or may have special considerations for their species.

Bunched Plants

Bunched plants are popular and common. Though their appearance, care and requirements vary, “bunched plants” are all sold as bundled individual stem cuttings held together with a metal plant anchor or rubber band.  These plants generally root within a week or two and the growing tips can be pruned and replanted to make new plants. Some bunched plants like hornwort an anacharis, can be left floating on the water’s surface. You can plant each stem of a bunch individually by inserting the end into the substrate, or keep them in their bunches for a bushier look. The plant anchors or rubber bands can be removed once the plant is rooted in place. Read More »

Synodontis Catfish – African Companion Fish for Your Cichlid Aquarium

Synodontis eruptusIt isn’t hard to understand the appeal of Synodontis Catfish. I mean, what’s not to like? Besides the array of bold and attractive patterns they exhibit, they have interesting history and habits that drive many freshwater aquarists crazy. If you’re not familiar with this group of fish already, read on to find out why they’re one of the most popular in the aquarium trade.

Synodontis Cats originate from the continent of Africa from the sub-Saharan rivers and rift lakes. There are over 120 identified species, ranging in size from just a couple of inches to over a foot in length. They are robust in build with prevalent dorsal and pectoral fins as well as large adipose fins (between the dorsal and the tail). Large eyes and 3 sets of barbels (whiskers) are also distinguishing characteristics. Synodontis catfish are also scaleless.  Read More »

Mysterious Mantis Shrimp – A Look at Distinctive Anatomy for Species Identification

Peacock Mantis ShrimpNo matter the profession, everyone has favorite parts of their jobs. One of my favorite “duties” is identifying the livestock we get into our store. Although we used to only offer them as “assorted” individuals, we recently started identifying the Mantis Shrimp we get in whenever possible and they’ve become my new favorite subjects!

Mantis shrimp offer some of the most varied coloration of all the marine animals that enter the hobby. The same species can have a seemingly unlimited array of color schemes depending on where they were collected, gender, surrounding habitat, and a number of other factors. Knowing what to look at as the characteristic and consistent traits is key. Sometimes, especially when they are small, it can be difficult to inspect these aspects without getting closer to the shrimp than you may like or without examining a molt or dead shrimp. Many of the available references use rather technical anatomy terms that may not be easy to understand. Here are some terms that are helpful to know and parts of the shrimp that are helpful to look at when trying to identify a mantis shrimp: Read More »

LED Aquarium Lighting – Energy Efficient and Cost Effective

Ecoxotic Cannon LEDWhile LED lighting is still relatively new to aquariums, practical applications of new LED fixtures have shown the effectiveness of this technology for growing plants and corals. But what about cost? It’s common knowledge that LED’s use much less energy than metal halides or compact fluorescents, but did you ever consider their overall longevity and cost advantages they also offer? Well, let’s take a look at the numbers to see how popular lighting types stack up.

Consider this: Read More »