Guess Who? Shrimp Addition – Stenopus Banded Coral Shrimp Identification

Coral Banded Shrimp, CozumelEver play the board game “Guess Who?”? Its the one where you have to guess which character the other person is by asking questions like “Do you have a mustache?” or “Are your eyes blue?”. Sometimes identifying aquarium animals works the same way.

Banded Coral Shrimp, also known as Boxing or Boxer Shrimp, are popular for aquarists of all levels. Within this group, common names overlap, most are some variation of red-and-white-bands, two shrimp can be identical except for their antennae color and other subtle differences. These shrimp will almost always fight with another Stenopus species (and may not even tolerate their own species) so knowing which one you have is important. Read More »

The Next “Big” Thing – Maxi-Mini Carpet Anemones

Maxi Mini CarpetReef keepers know that the hobby goes through phases in regards to “hot” species on the market. Over the past few years we’ve seen trends in acros, montis, polyps and acans, just to name a few. Reefers can’t seem to get enough…crazy colors, one-of-a kind patterns, endemic color variants. The next big thing for reef enthusiasts may not be a coral, but and anemone – Stichodactyla tapesum, the miniature carpet anemone. 

Affectionately referred to as “Maxi Minis” these little guys are related to the much larger true carpet anemones that have been popular for decades. Maxi-mini carpet anemones have recently grown in popularity. Unlike true carpets that can grow to a massive diameter (more than 18 inches across), they only reach a size of about 4-6 inches in diameter. The are found in the rich tropical waters from east coast of Africa across the Indo-Pacific to the Great Barrier Reef and southern Japan. They occur in a wide variety of vivid patterns, and specimens of every color of the rainbow can be seen in a single colony.  The appeal is easy to see when you witness their beauty and diversity in person.

Besides the general care of these anemones, not much is known about them.  They are hardy and adaptable, easily acclimating to new aquariums. They require good lighting, such as T-5 or LEDs and decent water flow.  Actinic or lunar lighting will enhance their appearance, causing some colors to fluoresce. The more they are fed, the faster they will grow and the better color they will have…we recommend feeding at least three times a week. These little anemones are easy to propogate, and will probably split if given good environmental conditions. 

Maxi Mini CarpetYou can put multiple maxi-minis in a single tank, making for a fantastic color display.  I have not put them in with any corals, but I have read that others have placed them in stocked coral tanks with no problems. Their sting is rather strong, however, and we have not seen clowns approch these anemones as hosts. They are serving as hosts to anemone shrimp and crabs in our holding tanks though! Anemones usually move around the tank until they find a place that they like. The few maxi-minis that we have stayed in one spot for a majority of the time they have been here, and they seem to prefer a hard surface whether rock or glass to attach to. That’s all for now…but, keep an eye out for these eye catching anemones the next time you’re here. They may be your next obsession.

Thanks,

Sam

Muck Monsters – Weird Creatures in Your Pond

GammarusIt’s that time of year again…time to slip on the rubber boots or waders to clean out the muck accumulated in the bottom of your pond. Though it’s always nice to see our finned friends coming back to the surface to see us after a long Winter, there are also many things we can encounter in the pond that most of us would rather be left unseen. I’m talking about the nasty, writhing, wiggling creatures that take refuge in the muck and dormant filtration. While there are thousands of microscopic creatures in a pond that you will probably never have the opportunity to see, it’s the worms and larvae that you can see with the naked eye that can cause panic or alarm if you don’t know what you’re looking at.  I’d like to take this opportunity to talk to you about a few of the common critters you may find in your pond to hopefully save you some worries in the coming weeks. Read More »

How to Upgrade Your Aquarium

I recently blogged on some tips and techniques for moving an aquarium, but what if you just want a larger tank? This was a question asked after that blog was posted. Some people start with a small tank for “simplicity” and get hooked enough to want to expand. Others want to switch the type of livestock they are keeping or have fish that have outgrown their existing tank. No matter your reason, many of the considerations and techniques that go into moving an aquarium apply to upgrading as well.

The “easiest” upgrade scenario would obviously be one in which the new tank is being set up in any location OTHER than where the existing tank already stands and has all new “stuff” in it (meaning substrate, rockwork, decoration, filter, etc.); you can be a bit more leisurely with this switch. On the other end of the upgrade-spectrum, you may be putting the new tank in the same place as the old one with some of the same substrate, decorations and equipment and will need to be more expedient with the transfer. Read More »

Natural Nitrate and Phosphate Control in Marine Aquariums – Part 2 – Biopellets

KatalystIn Part 1 of this article, I talked about Carbon Dosing, and the principals and some of the products on the market that are being used in this method of natural nitrate and phosphate control.  You can read the first article for all the details, but for a quick review of what carbon dosing is all about, here are the basics.

By providing (dosing) a usable carbon source, the aquarist can increase the uptake of Nitrate and Phosphate by bacteria in the aquarium, and reduce the overall level of Nitrate and Phosphate in the aquarium to desired levels.  Maintaining this low nutrient system, improves the overall health of the system, eliminates nuisance algae, and promotes brilliant coloration in corals. Another benefit to this increased bacteria population, also referred to as bacterioplankton, is that it serves as a supplemental food source for corals and filter feeding invertebrates. Carbon sources that are used for dosing have traditionally been vodka, vinegar, sugar or commercially available products like Brightwell Aquatics Reef Bio Fuel, or Red Sea’s NO4-Px.  While effective, these sources of carbon must be added on regular basis (every day in most cases) and dosage levels are achieved largely on a trial and error basis. Read More »