Natural Nitrate and Phosphate Control in Marine Aquariums – Part 1 – Carbon Dosing Basics

Reef BioFuelIn the never ending fight against excess nutrients in the home aquarium, many products have come along in recent years to help aquarist win the battle.  Chief among the nutrients with which all aquarium owners struggle (especially the reef aquarium owner), are nitrates and phosphates.  These nutrients fuel algae growth, and in the case of nitrate, can jeopardize animal health as well.   In the reef aquarium, nitrates and phosphates are a serious problem, and controlling these nutrient levels are vital to the health of the living coral and invertebrates in these systems.

Phosphate absorption media, macroalgae refugiums, deep sand beds, and frequent water changes have been the methods used by most to maintain low nutrient levels in aquariums over the years.  More recently, aggressive biological methods for combating nitrates and phosphates have become increasingly popular, and several Carbon dosing methods to remove nitrates and phosphates have been developed. Read More »

Interesting Fish and Inverts New to That Fish Place

Recently, some new fish and inverts arrived in livestock shipments that we haven’t seen before. I thought I’d take a moment to highlight a couple of the most intriguing.

First up is the Comb Goby (Paratrypauchen microcephalus). There is very little information available on this species of fish, but what we know is that they generally inhabit intertidal lagoons or brackish estuaries in the Indo-West Pacific. They have elongated bodies which helps them burrow down into the mud or sand. When we got these fish in they were fighting each other within minutes of being kept in the same Japanese Bassletstyrofoam acclimation container. They should probably not be kept with each other in a home aquarium, unless the tank is very large and has plenty of space where each individual would be able to set up a territory. They are rather cryptic so far in our tanks, remaining hidden under rocks here in the fishroom.

Another first for us is the Japanese Basslet (Liopropoma collettei). This fish is a small fish that reaches a size of about 2-3 inches. This fish is also cryptic, hiding in rock work and claiming a small area for its own. They can be slightly aggressive with other fish that come into this area, but shouldn’t harm tankmates. It will eat small meaty foods like plankton and krill and may pose a threat to small shrimp like Sexy Shrimp or similar creatures, but will generally leave larger inverts such as cleaner shrimp and arrow crabs alone. The Japanese Basslet has a slender body and an elongate snout used for picking copepods and other small inverts from nooks in the rock. Here in the store the fish hides in a coral ornaments or in the PVC tubes we keep in the tanks. When placed in a home aquarium this fish will most likely keep this shy behavior, only coming out at night to look for food. If kept with smaller less aggressive fish, there is a better chance of it showing itself. It may be an ideal candidate for smaller reefs or nano tanks.

We also received an invert, the Zebra Thorn Crab (Zebrida adamsii), for the second time. These are very interesting little crabs that will live symbiotically in the spines of some urchins. They are very small Zebra Thorn Craband striped with black and white, so they camouflage against their host urchin. Their carapace is a very unique shape and they have specialized hooks on some of their legs which alows them to hold onto the urchin’s spines. At such a small size, usually less than 1 inch, they are also a great candidate for a nano tank where they can be more easily found and observed. These crabs will eat small meaty foods such as brine or mysis shrimp, but have been known to occasionally eat soft coral tissue and polyps, so beware if placing in a reef. We have the crab housed with an urchin, and we have yet to see it leave the urchin’s spines. It seems pretty secure and does not hide when a hand is placed in the tank.

Stop in and check out our interesting new critters! Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to take one home to your own tank!

Setting Up a Tanganyikan Mbuna (Rock Dweller) Cichlid Aquarium

N. brichardiThis time we will talk about setting up an aquarium for Tanganyikan Mbuna, or rock dwelling cichlids. The smallest tank I’ve ever attempted for these fish was a 20 high that housed a trio of brichardis I was breeding. Let’s say for the sake of keeping a community you should start with at least a 30 gallon tank.  A 30 gallon has a footprint of 36 inches by 12 inches, so it doesn’t take up too much space, but still gives the fish some room to play.

I keep my rift lake aquariums pretty much the same, whether its Malawi, Tanganyika or Victoria. With this particular type of set-up you may need to do some minor tweaks to the pH, and live plants might have a better chance than in other cichlid set-ups. Let’s start from the bottom up. Read More »

The “New” Office Aquarium – Reclaiming and Repurposing Old Aquarium Parts and Supplies

Repurposed  nano tankI don’t think there is an aquarium hobbyist out there that doesn’t have spare parts laying around in a closet, basement, garage, or all of the above. I know I have plenty, from lights to filters and everything in between. If I needed to, I think I have enough equipment to set up a small coral farm in my basement.

Last week, Eileen and I decided to set up an aquarium in the fishroom office using parts we found laying around the store. Our goal was to prepare a home for a single blue-ring octopus that will hopefully arrive to us in the next couple of weeks. With a touch of creativity and a little ingenuity, we managed to piece together 12 gallon nano tank. The tank and stand had been lying around for years, stowed a way after the livestock it used to house was moved into a larger and more current display.  Read More »

New Species Update – a Giant, “Bearded” Crayfish is Discovered in Tennessee

Crayfish in aquarium with Apple SnailHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I’m glad to see that crayfishes are beginning to get more attention from aquarists.  Many can be bred in the aquarium, and their colors, ranging from apricot to blue and deep red, rival those of any marine invertebrate.  The USA, home to over 80% of the 600+ known species, is a center of their diversity (84 species occur in Alabama alone).  The year 2011 opened with a bang for Crayfish enthusiasts – a unique new species, twice the size of those nearby, was discovered Tennessee.  “Tennessee Giant Crayfish” would seem a suitable common name, but for now the unique crustacean is known only as Barbicambarus simmonsi. Read More »