Anemone Movement and Freeze Dried Fish Food – Common Aquarium Questions

Back for another installment of FAQs submitted to!  Here are two questions we hear pretty often.  We’re here to help, so keep the questions coming.

Ryan wrote us with a common question about anemone behavior:

I have a pink-tip anemone in a seventy five gallon tank. I have had it for a couple months now and it seems to be doing good, but it never stays in one spot. It is always moving around on the glass, around the rock work, everywhere.  Is this normal? Is there anything I should do or just leave it alone?

Marine Bio responded:

That sounds like a fairly typical behaviour for that type anemone. They move constantly it search of favorable conditions as far as lighting, water flow, and feeding opportunity, as they depend a lot on food items passing by in the current that they can grab onto. It may eventually find an area that it favors and it may stay there for awhile, but probably not for extended periods.  Host anemones are often more prone to finding a position they like. In a spot with good conditions, they can anchor onto a solid surface for longer amounts of time, expanding to feed and take in the light, though they do move periodically as well.  Just make sure that any intakes to pumps or filters are covered with a sponge so that if he crawls on them he won’t get sucked into the equipment! Other than that you shouldn’t have to do anything except feed and maintain the aquarium as normal. They move to a happy place, maybe every day, maybe once a month.

 Beth wrote to MarineBio with a question about feeding:

I have a 75-gallon saltwater aquarium housing a lawnmower blenny, false-eye sharp-nosed puffer, long-nose hawkfish, spot-tailed wrasse, and 2 blue damsels. I feed my fish the frozen food and pellets recommended by the professionals at That Pet Place. I have been reading about the freeze-dried foods–shrimp, plankton, etc. I was wondering if freeze-dried food would be acceptable as an additional supplement to what I already feed them so that they are getting a healthy variety of foods to include all vitamins and minerals they need. If freeze-dried foods are appropriate, what would you suggest I get for my fish?

Marine Bio response:

Freeze-dried plankton and/or Mysis would work well for you. It is hard to give you fish too much variety. It is important to vary their diet as best as you can so that their dietary requirements are met and they don’t develop nutritional deficiencies, and that goes for any type of fish tank.  I typically recommend a good basic flake or pellet like Spectrum or Ocean Nutrition supplemented with a frozen mix and freeze dried treats appropriate for the fish you’re keeping. In your case, the fish you have will be most interested in a meatier diet, though some of them will happily take vegetable matter too, like sea veggies or bits of algae in the frozen formulas, especially if you lack natural algae growth. You can customize your feeding regimen according to their needs, but be sure not to overfeed the tank. Smaller amounts of a variety of foods can be fed at different times, or at your scheduled feeding time, but make sure the fish are consuming the foods and they are not falling to the floor of the tank or collecting elsewhere where they can cause water quality issues.  It sounds like you’re doing just fine!

Introducing Moray Eels (Superorder Elapomorpha, Order Anguilliformes, Family Muraenidae): Natural History and Basic Care


More than 200 species of moray eels, all classified within the Family Muraenidae, have been described.  Like the familiar American eel, morays are considered to be true eels of the Order Anguilliformes.  The Superorder to which all eels belong, Elapomorpha, contains over 800 species, including the decidedly “un-eel like” tarpon.

Natural History

Although usually associated with tropical and subtropical habitats, a number occur in temperate seas, and several enter brackish and fresh water on occasion.  Ranging in size from the red-faced eel (Monopenchelys acuta), which reaches only 8 inches in length, to the 12.5 foot long giant green moray (Strophidon sathete), all share a similar body pattern and habits.  The latterly flattened body allows them access to the narrow caves and crevices that form their home base.  Many spend their entire lives within close proximity to a favored shelter, leaving only to mate and foraging nearby.

Some Interesting Facts

Morays can reach quite high densities in suitable habitats, accounting for nearly 50% of the carnivore biomass on some reefs off Hawaii.  Although nowhere considered a delicacy, moray eels are eaten on occasion, and instances of fatal poisoning (ciguatera) have been reported in the Philippines.  A number have unusual life histories…the leaf-nosed moray (Rhinomuraena quaesita) begins life as a dark blue-and-yellow colored male and later transforms into a black-and-yellow female.

Diet and Feeding

Moray eels are carnivorous, and in captivity will readily accept frozen silversides , sand eels , clams  and other fish, crustaceans and mollusks.  Local seafood markets are wonderful shopping grounds for the moray owner – be sure to try mussels, conch and various marine fishes.

Well-fed eels will coexist with smaller fish, but there is always the possibility of predation.  On the other hand, morays are not quick feeders, and indeed can be rather shy about this, so one must take care that they are getting enough food if they are housed with large, aggressive fishes.


Moray eels are, like all their relatives, master escape artists.  If this occurs, be sure to move the animal back and forth in the aquarium once it is replaced, so that water is forced through the gills, and treat it with Stress Coat Marine to help replace the skin’s slime coat.

Even small morays are equipped with needle-sharp teeth, and they are not shy about using them in defense or if they mistake your finger for a tasty food item.  The resulting wound almost always becomes infected, and large animals can cause permanent damage.  These are definitely not fish for homes with children.


Well cared for specimens can reach impressive ages in captivity.  A huge green moray I worked with at the Staten Island Zoo is still going strong at age 30+.

Snowflake Moray, Echidna nebulosa

Brilliantly patterned in black and white, this Indo-Pacific native averages 24 (rarely to 40) inches in length and makes an ideal first choice for one new to keeping moray eels.  Many individuals become quite tame, reaching out from their lairs to accept food offered on feeding tongs.

They are, like other members of their family, slow feeders, and so are best individually-fed if kept in a community aquarium.  Snowflakes readily accept all manner of frozen or fresh marine foods such as shrimp, clams and fish.  Like all morays, they will not thrive unless provided with a secure retreat.

Other Commonly-Available Moray Eels

The girdled moray (Echidna polyzona) hails from the Red Sea and Indo-Pacific and its small size (to 35 inches) suits it well as an aquarium subject.  It has a relatively small head ….food item size should be adjusted accordingly.

The attractively patterned reticulated or leopard moray (Gymnothorax tesselatus) also appears in the pet trade.  Pale reticulations on a dark background lend it a spectacular appearance, but it reaches 5 feet in length and is therefore suited only to large, very well-secured tanks.

Please write in with your comments and questions.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

You can learn more about moray eels at:

Update: NCPARS/That Fish Place Retail Store Frag Swap Event January 31

Hi, Dave here, It has been a while since I have posted a blog entry, I have busy working on some renovations and remodeling of our fish room here in our store.  The bulk of the work is now complete, and wow what a change we have made, the fish room seems HUGE now.  Anyone who has not visited the store in the last couple months is in for a surprise when they visit the fish room.   Walls are missing, systems have moved, systems have expanded, and we are not done yet!

One of the objectives of the remodel was to create a bigger, better open space in what was our “pond room” for hosting events and having a flexible area for whatever we want to use it for.  The first event to take advantage of this new space will be the TFP/NCPARS winter frag swap extravaganza on January 31st, 2009.

I wanted to add some more details about the event, which we had announced a while back, and had a previous blog entry for.

The Frag Swap is being run by NCPARS (the North Central Pennsylvania Reef aquarium Society) and all proceeds from the event will go to benefit the club.  Information about the club can be found on their website  Entrance to the event is $5 for members and $10 for non members.  Attendees and sellers can pre-register on

The event has morphed into much more  than just a frag swap, and will be of interest to any marine aquarium hobbyist, from beginner to expert.  Through TFP’s assosiation with industry leading manufacturer’s and experts, we have put together a show that will include some great seminars, as well as on-hand manufacturers representatives to answer questions about their products.

Seminars for the event include:

Anthony Calfo: Anthony is a well known reef aquarium expert, Authored  “The Book of Coral Propagation” and is the publisher of “C the Journal“.  Anthony has spent years traveling the world and working in many phases of the industry, his seminar for this event is “Interesting facilities of the world” a showcase of places he has visited through the years in all areas of the hobby.

Steven Pro: Steven has worked in the industry for many years in many capacaties, including retail, wholesale, maintenance, and now manufacturing.  Steven’s presentation “You Touched it, Now What? Poisonous, Venomous, and Contagious things in your aquarium” puts together many things that he has seen and learned about dangerous things in your reef aquarium, and how to deal with them.

Randy Reed: Founder of Reed Mariculture, a manufacturer of specialty reef foods, that includes Phytoplankton and Zooplankton diets.  Randy will do a presentation about the “Fundamentals of Feeding Your Reef”

Dave Troop and Mike Elliot:  Dave and Mike are the founders of a new company in the hobby, Aquatic Life.  Dave and Mike have been integral members of a number of industry leading companies through the years, and have now joined forces to start a new company, that strives to bring truly innovative lighting and products to the hobby.  As a former TFP employee, Dave is returning home, to provide a presentation about ” Understanding light Output”

Ike Eigenbrode: Ike is a long time hobbyist, and is now the vice president of sales and marketing of Current USA, an industry leader in aquarium lighting and chiller manufacturing. Ike is going to do a presentation on “Aquariums and Energy Efficiency”

Along with these Seminars, manufacturer Representatives from Brightwell Aquatics, Kent Marine, Seachem, EcoTech Marine, Ice Cap, Coralife, Red Sea, and others will be present throughout the show to answer questions and showcase some of their products.

Last but not least THE DEALS!  TFP will give every paid attendee a 20% off one item coupon, good for use after the sale (restrictions apply).  In cooperation with our manufacturers, both attending and non attending, we will have a selection of over 300 additional products on sale the day of the event ranging from 10% – 25% off our already low prices.  These sale items will only be available to frag swap attendees.

Also benefiting NCPARS, the show will end with a raffle of some really great items that have been donated by our manufacturers.  A sample of some of the items in the raffle include:

Complete Solana and Cardiff aquarium setups from Current USA, these are beautiful high end nano aquarium, valued at over $700 dollars each!  These aquariums will be set up as displays during the show, so you can see them in all their beauty!

EcoTech Marine Vortec WMP 20 wave pump

Sunlight Supply  400watt Blue Wave Metal Halide ballast

Red Sea C-Skim 1200 Protein Skimmer

Aquatic Life pH Controller

Two Little Fishes Phosban Reactor

And Many more items………

Come Join us January 31st from 11-5 for our first frag swap, there is alot of buzz about the show, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Schedule of Events:

11:00 Event Begins
11:30 demo 1:  fragging corals
12:00 demo 2:  tank drilling
12:30 demo 3:  setting up a calcium reactor
1:00 Anthony Calfo “Interesting facilities of the world”
2:00 Steven Pro “You touched it, now what? “
3:00 Aquatic life (Dave Troop/Mike Elliot) “Understanding Light Output”
3:30 Current USA (Ike Eigenbrode) “Aquariums and Energy Efficiency
4:00 Reed Mariculture (Randy Reed) “Fundamentals of Feeding Your Reef
4:30 Raffle
5:00 event ends

Hope to see you there,


Clearing Cloudy Water – Common Aquarium Questions

One of our most frequently asked questions is answered below.  There tends to be a spike (pun intended) in cloudy aquarium questions after the holiday season has passed and all of the new gift aquariums get set up.  This might help if you’re a newbie!

Tom wrote:

I have a 90 gallon fresh water tank with a Fluval 405 canister filter. The tank is about 4-weeks old. I have been using Cycle to speed things along, but my water for the most part of 4-weeks has a white cloudiness to it. When I do water changes, the water clears up and then a day or 2 later it’s cloudy again. I have well water with a built in water softener and sediment filter.  My main question is, do you recommend the use of resins in conjunction with carbon to battle this problem?

From Marinebio@thatpetplace:

If the cloudiness is caused from particulates in the water, then yes a resin will help. If the cloud is from a bacterial bloom, which is highly likely, then resins will not solve your problem. Have you tested your water? Any ammonia or nitrite present? If either of those are showing levels above 0ppm, small weekly water changes of around 5% will help keep the toxic levels of ammonia and nitrite diluted, while still allowing you to cycle the tank. The trick is to keep the levels low enough to not lose fish, yet high enough to not to disrupt your nitrogen cycle and the beneficial bacteria that are trying to colonize. Large water changes can lengthen the amount of time it takes to finish your cycle, thus lengthening the time your tank stays cloudy. So if you can test the ammonia and nitrite levels, we can see where you are in your cycle.

For additional info on beginner aquarium basics and the nitrogen cycle view the following articles:

Scientists design aquariums for the blind

Eileen here. The blind and visually impaired  have greater access than ever before to activities that have been off-limited in the past, but until very recently they have not been able to enjoy the beauty and activity of a colorful aquarium like the rest of us. A group of scientists is working to change this. The Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology is designing what they have dubbed “The Accessible Aquarium.”

The Accessible Aquarium is fitted with cameras and sensors that track the movement of the different colored fish and sends the data back to a computer system. The data is then translated into different pitches, instruments and sounds that change with the speed and movement of the fish. The center is also hoping to be able to apply this technology to venues like zoos and museums as well as aquariums. According to a recent Yahoo! Tech news article, the researchers “wanted to help people with disabilities do something that’s more fun and than functional.”

Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology:

Yahoo! Tech article: