That Fish Place Aquariums and Fish Recap – Week of 8/17

Patty here, and welcome to our Friday recap. Lots of fun and interesting stuff crop up both worldwide and right here at TFP over a week’s time, so we’ve decided to start hooking you up with sweet updates on these kinds of things. Be sure to let us know what you think of these posts (The little thumbs up, thumbs down at the bottom), and feel free to send us some of the excellent things you’ve read in the comments or on Facebook.

This week’s Noteworthy Fish stuff

  • I know that a little romancing can go a long way, but who knew that a little Barry White could push a cold fish into a passionate frenzy?! At the Sea Life London Aquarium, they’re doing what they can to set the mood for poor Zorro the Zebra Shark to woo the ladies. Good luck, little guy, everybody needs a little love!
  • We already know the benefits of having live plants in the home aquarium, but it never hurts to say it again. I personally don’t think enough can be said about the benefits, and this article breaks it down in easy terms just to push the issue a little more. I mean, how would you like it if you were suddenly dumped in a bubble with only plastic trees and flowers? It would be like living on a Hollywood movie set!
  • How lucky is this guy? I can’t say I don’t envy him! This beautiful behemoth seems to be just as fascinated by the diver as the diver is by him, so whatever he is doing to draw its attention is working, just watch out for flailing fins and tails. The amazing shots are definitely share-worthy. Sure, these are mammals and not fish, but still….
  • MACNA 21 is just a few short weeks away! The Marine & Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA XXI) is being held in Atlantic City, NJ September 25-27, 2009. This is one of the biggest annual events for people in the industry and hobbyists alike. There are loads of exhibitors, awesome speakers scheduled raffles and tons of other fun to be had, drop the family at the shore and head to the Sheraton! Check out the homepage for full details! *Shameless plug* Your favorite Aquarium Supply store will be there too, so stop by and say hi to Dave.
  • Meanwhile, back at That Fish Place the most exciting project going on is the newly constructed Coral Propagation room. The room will soon be slowly populated with lots captive grown frags and in house cultured frags for future sale both in the retail store and online!
  • Our 700 Display got bright new bulbs this week and a few new fish additions. If you look closely at the rock it would appear that we’ve had a spawning , as there are numerous tiny new colonies of either Pocillopora or Seriatopora appearing all over the place! Stay tuned, they have to grow out a little to be sure.
  • The results of our first cross-Facebook/Fish Catalog photo contest are in, and Michael S. from McConnellsburg, PA is the winner with this sweet pic of a Black Misbar and a Derasa Clam. Michael will receive a $100 gift card, and have his photo featured in the Fall fish catalog. Check out Michael’s picture here, and if you’re interested in entering for the Winter Fish Catalog, send your high-res photo to
  • Cool new stuff at That Fish Place this week

  • Spanish ShawlYou can see where the Spanish Shawl Nudibranch gets its name, flamenco anyone? Very cool but they are specialized feeders like many other nudis!
  • Chestnut Cowries eat algae when their little, but may develop a taste for sponges and softies on the side as they mature, so keep that in mind!
  • This Hawaiian Cultured Blue Maxima is A-mazing!
  • Two species of microrasboras, very cute, very tiny, maybe worth a small species tank, but probably not fitting for the average community right now due to their small size.
  • Though I’m not nuts about crazy hybrid cichlids, this Red Dragon Flowerhorn is pretty eye catching.
  • Two sweet War Coral Frags…Get them while they’re here!
  • And from ORA, Extreme Misbar Ocellaris! No two are alike!
  • Just a sampling, come see us and check out these and tons of other cool stuff!

    Until next time,


    Long Live the Queen Angel in Declining Caribbean Reefs?

    Melissa here. I recently read an interesting article (sadly, one of many) on the decline of Florida reefs.  The prognosis for the future of many Florida and Carribbean reefs is not looking good, especially if steps are not taken soon to stop the forces that are having such a negative impact on these environments. The reefs off the coast of Florida’s keys are in real danger, and according to this report, there has been a significant decline of both reefs and some fish populations in just the last 10 years. Snapper and grouper populations in particular have declined according to the article, and it is estimated that they are below sustainability levels. While I have been to Florida several times, I have yet to scuba dive there. I have been told by friends that it’s beautiful, and that wild queen angels (my favorite fish!) swim freely on these reefs. This article doesn’t address the Queen Angel population, but with their habitat being in trouble I wonder and worry about the impact on them over the next decade and beyond. I don’t know about you, but being an avid Queen Angelfish lover, I would love to take a trip to the Keys so I can take in the beauty of these reefs before it is too late. It may be sooner than we all think that this and other majestic species will only rarely be able to be observed, except in a captive aquarium environment. Feel free to let any thoughts you may have about the declining reefs and fish. Here is a link to the article if you want to read more:

    Feeding Canned and Live Insects to Marine and Freshwater Fishes – Part 1

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Anyone with an outdoor swimming pool is aware of the vast numbers of insects that continually crawl into or alight upon the water.  If you now consider how many billions of terrestrial insects find their way into the world’s fresh and marine waters each day, you will quickly realize that fishes have ample opportunity to consume a food item that is not usually included in captive diets (and lets not forget about the millions of aquatic insect species).  Small wonder that earthworms, crickets and waxworms are among the most effective fishing baits known.

    An Overlooked Resource

    However, while the sale of live and canned insects to reptile owners has long been a booming business, aquarists have largely disregarded insects as a food source for fishes.  Even well-known insect specialists such as African butterfly fishes (please see photo), mudskippers and archer fishes are rarely provided with the invertebrate-rich diets they favor.


    My Introduction to Insects as Fish Food

    I first became aware of just how much fishes favored insects quite by accident.  As a youth I constantly experimented with mixed species “shoreline” type aqua-terrariums…green treefrogs living on branches above guppies, bronze frogs with pumpkinseed sunfishes and so on. 

     I noticed that crickets which fell into the water were set upon ravenously by whatever fishes happened to be nearby.  Dead, water-softened crickets elicited a feeding frenzy among even the most “peaceful” of fish species, such as guppies, Cory cats, platys and swordtails.


    Using Live and Canned Insects

    I soon found insects to be eagerly accepted by many typical (and untypical!) aquarium fishes, including freshwater, marine and brackish species.  I continue to use substantial numbers of insects as food for a wide variety of fishes, and believe that the vigor, color and health of many has benefitted as a result.  Increased feedings of insects and similar foods may also be useful in bringing certain freshwater species into breeding condition.

      Canned invertebrates offer a convenient method of providing your fishes with valuable dietary variety.  Next time we’ll take a look at their role in fishkeeping and some other examples of insect-feeding among wild fishes.  Until then, please write in with your questions and comments.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.


    Further Reading

    The archer fish feeds almost entirely upon terrestrial insects, knocking them from vegetation with well-aimed jets of water.  By specializing so, it is able to exploit a unique food source in a habitat teeming with competing species.  The Friends of the National Zoo has posted information on their care in the zoo and natural history at

    Please see also the following article on our blog – Archerfish: Aquatic snipers for husbandry advice.

    Image refereneced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Toniher.

    Novelty vs. Cruelty: The Ethics of Dyed or Tattooed Aquarium Fish

    A recent news article brought an old debate back to our attention here at That Fish Place – how far is too far to go to get a “unique” fish for your aquarium? The article discusses the recent trend in the Chinese aquarium market for tattooed fish believed to bring luck and prosperity to their owners. The fish in the article are Parrotfish, a fish that is already considered a hybrid of other South and Central American cichlids. These fish are being laser-tattooed with designs or Chinese characters like “luck”, “happiness”, or “May your business boom,” the article states. This tattooing is done much like that on a person and can severely damage the scales and body of the fish. I’ve seen and heard of other fish in the international aquarium trade that have been tattooed in a similar way, like Giant Gouramis and mollies.

    Similarly, “Jelly Bean Parrots” have also been available in the trade. These fish are usually brightly colored in shades of green, blue, pink or purple – a process often done by first dipping the fish in an acidic solution for a short time to remove their protective slime coating, then dipping them in a dye solution. This process is not permanent and usually fades over a few months, and the mortality rates of these fish during the dying process is very high. Some other fish like tetras (some are often known as “Stained Glass Tetras” or “Painted Glass Tetras”) are also dyed in a similar way or injected with dyes to give them their bright, artificial colors.

    Here at That Fish Place, we make every effort to avoid carrying fish that are the product of unethical practices like the dying or tattooing of fish but unfortunately where there is a demand, there will still be a supply in some areas. While some fish that seem unbelievably brightly colored are the product of selective breeding and are completely healthy, others have been through a lot to get that way. As a general rule: if you see a fish that doesn’t appear to be a “natural” color for that type of fish or the color seems to good to be true, ask if it is! Practices like this will only stop if we, as ethical aquarists, ban together to speak against them.,27574,25926147-13762,00.html

    Live Rock: Some Common Questions

    Especially for beginners, getting what you need for setting up a saltwater or reef aquarium can be daunting.  One of the most confusing aspects of the process may be Live Rock.  Here are some common Q & A that may make it a little clearer for anyone, especially those who just starting out.

    Do I need Live Rock and what is its purpose?

    Live rock is the calcium carbonate skeletons of ancient corals and other calcareous organisms, which forms the base of coral reefs.  It is not actually “alive” but is it is usually encrusted with coralline algae and inhabited by microscopic and macroscopic marine organisms.  The organisms on the live rock help to establish the biological base of the aquarium.  The rock serves as a biological filter hosting nitrifying bacteria that fuel processes like the nitrogen cycle to eliminate organic waste.  Live rock also has a stabilizing effect on the water chemistry, especially helping to maintain constant pH by releasing calcium.  The other obvious purpose is for decoration.  The rock, once established, serves as a shelter for fish and inverts, as a decorative element encrusted with colorful coralline algaes and other organisms (that may appear to spring from its surface from nothing), and as a platform for corals that you introduce to grow onto.

    What is the difference between natural and cultured rock?

    There are many varieties of live rock.  Most are named for the region where they are harvested, and often they have distinctive forms and characteristics. Some are dense, some are lighter and more porous, some are branchy, some are plate-like, ect.  They all basically serve the same purpose, and they may be mixed and matched according to your taste and needs.  Natural rock is chipped off and collected from specified areas in designated regions.  This rock is naturally occurring and highly variable.  Cultured rock is man-made from specially mixed concrete that is formed into basic shapes and then placed in the oceans near reefs for a period of 1-5 years where it is seeded with the same micro and macro organisms as natural rock. The rock is then collected and distributed for aquariums.  Cultured rock is favorable as it has the same benefits to the aquarium, but less environmental impact and is sustainable. It is typically less variable in shape.

    How much rock do I need?

    You may hear different opinions on how much rock you need, but it will depend on what your intentions are. Generally, the rule of thumb is 1-2 lbs per gallon.  This amount can vary depending on the arrangement you want and the density of the rock.  You may choose to purchase all the rock you need when setting up the tank initially, as the rock be used to cycle the tank, and will cure in the process.  Otherwise you can buy the rock a few pieces at a time, cure it in a separate vessel then add pieces periodically until the arrangement is where you like it.  The other option is to purchase base rock and cover it with fresh live rock.  Over time the base rock will be seeded by the live rock.  Just be sure your arrangement has spaces where the water can circulate through the rock and dead zones don’t occur.

    What is curing and how do I cure rock?

    Curing Live Rock means conditioning or cycling it for use in your aquarium. Cured rock has already been conditioned and is stable to use right away in an aquarium with minimal concern of fluctuations in water chemistry.  Fresh live rock is not cured and it shouldn’t be placed directly into a main aquarium until you cure it.  The collection and shipping process of most rock involves it being out of the water for days at a time, and a lot of the organic matter on the rock dies off.  By tanking and curing the rock, you allow the rock to recover from these stresses.  The dead matter breaks down and new beneficial organisms have the chance to re-establish and freshen up.  If you purchase fresh rock, a saltwater rinse or dip and shake will help to remove loose debris and some of the dead matter to kick start the curing process.  You can learn how to cure live rock in this short video.

    How long will it take for stuff to start growing on my rock?

    Once the rock is in the tank and the rest of your set-up is complete with adequate lighting, skimmer, and circulation, additives such as calcium, iodine and strontium will encourage the growth of colorful coralline algaes, and contribute to the health of other forms of live rock growth.  As the tank establishes and becomes more stable, you’ll probably see a variety of organisms from macroalgaes to small corals and other sessile inverts.  Each tank and each piece of rock may reveal different surprises, but the important thing is patience.  Taking the time for careful set-up and maintenance and a time allowance for the tank to progress at a comfortable pace will result in a healthy and sustainable reef environment.