Tank photos

Two neat sets of tank photos after the lights went out!! First, I had a looming sense of things not being right with the tank, probably thanks to how much reading I was doing about terrible crabs – I think that big black one is a Black Mithrax crab. People seem to agree they are bad news. They’re related to the Emerald crab, which gets more mixed reviews (can cause damage in a tank, but generally people excuse it because they’re pretty). So I went to check on the tank, hackles already up, and found TWO cleaner shrimps, and the one I saw first was moving completely the wrong way…

Of course, I realized a moment later that the shrimp had just molted, and the ghostly one was really the shed shell, attached to the rock by its feet and blowing in the current. Whew. Here’s our shrimp, safe and sound.

The second set of photos was from the next night. We final got a view of more of the body of the amazing white spotted chiton. He is much longer than he looked before. Kevin can see the chiton classification, I believe it but still can’t make it look like one.

You can see that there are several bands of grey and cream, and in addition to the three circles that we could see clearly, there are several more that range from looking like circles to looking more like red slits. This photo almost looks like one of the red slits is the eye of an angry octopus – it’s very easy to let your imagination run away when looking at this dude.

This one is zoomed out enough so that you can see his size compared to the turbo snail and blue legged hermit crab — their shells are on the left side of the photo. He’s not small!

He’s harmless and neat, but so unusual!

More tank photos

Some of the chitons were out, so I went to grab the camera and take pictures. They’re so pretty. This one is a mottled purple and yellow.

And a similar color scheme but much lighter down below the strawberry lemonade birdsnest coral.

The shrimp is dancing, perhaps he would like to clean the camera?

Click and Clack are nearly nine years old – crazy!

One of the many nassarius snails, out doing its rounds.

Water change whiteboard

One of my three goals* for this post-daycare/pre-job stretch was to finally learn how to do water changes and maintenance on the new tank. For a long time it was Kevin’s job because he knew how and I was too pregnant to easily do any of the bucket lifting. Later, I seemed to perpetually be holding a newborn or infant, and it seemed easier for him to sneak in a quick waterchange when it fit, instead of finding some way for us both to have a free 45 minutes with no kids so that he could explain and I could take notes. But last night we finally headed out to the garage, so that I could reduce the maintenance on all of this:

To this:

Next week, I’ll fly solo. Wish me luck!

* The other two goals are: 1. Find a job, and 2. Do the 10 week 5K training program.

Amazing coral photos

Kevin took his fancy lens to take pictures of the new dude, who’s still seeming happy, I’m hoping that we can send him to the main tank over the weekend, although it’s TBD if our tank cover will arrive in time. Apparently, fish are most likely to jump out in their first few days in a new tank. We will not be covering the main tank (ugly, less light for corals), but we are worried about him — he seems pretty content to perch and eat now, but you never know once there are other fish in the picture. So we’ll cover for the first week or so.

My photos were decent of his form and body, but Kevin really captured his character. He’s a funny little fish, he makes us laugh.

When he finds a spot to perch, he stays there for several minutes, so this isn’t a case of Kevin waiting patiently for his “shot”. The fish is just a quirky, amusing little dude and it’s fun to see what he’ll decide to do next.

After the fish photos, Kevin went to the main tank, and some of the coral photos he got were utterly spectacular. A lot of the detail you can’t actually see when you’re looking at the tank with your eyes, so to see the close-up on the computer screen is lovely and amazing.

The “teal” staghorn acro is pretty much just a vivid blue now. We had a pump failure in the late spring while we were on the east coast (on the plus side, nothing overflowed in the house or garage; on the minus side, the tank got very cold for a day). We were lucky, this staghorn coral was our only casualty. The dark part is where it died back, but as you can see, there are two parts still alive. It hasn’t shown much growth, though, we’ll love to figure out what to do with it. (My default assumption would be more light, but other corals at the same height or lower in the tank, ie less light, are thriving. Mysterious. Stress?)

You can see the very small flower-like mouths, and if you click for the bigger photo, you can see the amazing maze-like pattern on the rest of the coral — this pattern is definitely not visible to the naked eye. How cool.

The “strawberry lemonade” birds-nest coral. This one has been super tippy (sometimes it’s hard to get a good bond between the corals and the rocks, we use non-toxic superglue, but you apply it underwater and the coral spits out a protective slime when you handle it, so it’s tricky to get a great bond. I think the birds nest clashes with the rose coral behind it, but would work really well to unify the bubblegum pink pocillopora and the avocado green staghorn acro, so we’re going to try moving it over there.

Here’s the pocillopora, with a bit of the avocado acro peeping up behind it. We’ll need to get pictures of the avocado one, it’s covered in new growth points and so happy in its spot.

A really pretty closeup of a florescent green monti plate coral. This is probably the brightest thing in our tank. It’s so vivid. I love the bumps, and really hope it grows, these can be spectacular. The light/white-green at the edges is a good sign, that’s what new growth looks like.

Our orange eye acan, with a few feeding tentacles out (in the border between the pink and the orange). These get longer when there’s food in the tank or when we feed the fish.

Amazing green zoos — these guys are still there, but in stasis. They haven’t grown or shrunk appreciably in the last half year. Maybe the light is too high? Or flow is too low? Kind of a mystery.

Brown and blue zoos are marginally happier, but also haven’t taken off. Again, light? I’m tempted to move these guys somewhere lower and more sheltered, and then if they do well with that switch, also move the amazing green dudes.

The tang, checking things out.

Xenia, pulsing madly.



The lime green acropora is happy, happy. The pinkish-white dimpled nubs at the ends are new growth, and this one just keeps going.

Again, definitely click this one to see the bigger view of the florescent green mouths and the fascinating brown speckled dot pattern on the rest. I can’t see the speckles in real life, you seem to need a camera.

Click, wriggling like the best of the clownfish.

This textured purple mushroom is tucked deep in a corner at the back of the tank, and is a little over an inch wide.

Dark green sponge on the left, fan on the right. Sponges mostly grow where flow is very low, so this one is lovely but I worry about him.

The cleaner shrimp has taken to riding the oscillating blower, back and forth, back and forth. We are amused.

The “fizzy green mushrooms” are still effervescent.

And the rose cluster acro is going strong. The bluish-white stubs at the end of the branches are new growth in the last month or so.

Click for big on this photo — not only can you see the darker fronds, but there’s a pale/translucent projection — a feeding tube? a mouth? it’s very, very neat.

We had to majorly up our dose of kalkwasser… Kevin will correct me, maybe it’s really a different system/reactor, I’m fuzzy on this, but effectively, corals need lots of calcium to grow, and this helps provide it. There are complications with making sure everything’s buffered appropriately, but after a long hiatus, we’re testing the water and seeing how we’re doing.

Introducing our new dude

Kevin and I discovered the lawnmower blenny back in 2005 when our tank was very new, and have wanted one since then. Our new tank should be a really good environment for one, and so as soon as we were able (we wanted to be past travel and past the brightest time of year when days and nights are so lopsided) we found one to bring home.

He is a character and a half. Here he is poking out of a 2″ diameter pvc fixing.
At some point we started calling this the “homer simpson fish” — I think because it’s so full of character, has googly eyes and a five o’clock shadow?

Between the eyes and the fronds, he’s crazy expressive.


He is a perching fish, and will sit on the sand or bits of rock. It’s very casual, like he’s just tucked up his feet for a moment.

Here he is, eating algae off the glass. The camouflage works, right?

New dudes

After over a month of talking about it, we finally got the quarantine tank all set up and headed to the fish store to look for new corals and fish!! In our defense, the fish store’s weekend hours are terrible for us relative to lunch and nap. Given that the driving takes an hour and it takes at least that long to get livestock settled when we get home, we have to make a conscious decision to schlep the kids along and tank nap (no pun intended) if we both want to be there, which of course we do. Yuck.

Anyway, we bit the bullet on Sunday, and declared an all out fish tank day. Water change, getting the tank set up… Our lights from our old quarantine tank never fit the new one, plus the bulb goes on the fritz. I suggested the idea of doing an undermount light on our cabinet. (Snazzier light, better use of counter space, too, and easier to protect the electronics from spills. Everything’s on GFCI outlets, but I still don’t want to be able to accidentally slosh water near the power strip.) I love that I’m able to say something like that for aesthetic/safety reasons and Kevin’s able to run with all of the specs and find us the right lights. (Oh, man, the circuits and watts and color temperatures, etc. I have some of it written down, and could probably figure out how to look up the rest, but I genuinely appreciate not having to. It’s nice that his brain operates well at that level.)

So we got home, and he finished installing our new, removable LED panels.

They are so fancy and shiny and little. I’ve never been a compact florescent fan, we dutifully installed them for years, but I think the hype about their lifespans was wrong, and they’re ugly colors of light, the environmental impact is questionable. But I can’t wait until the LED bulb thing gains a little bit more traction, these are smart systems and they keep getting better.

While we worked, Henry was very excited to be the first person to notice the enormous dead crab in our tank — you can see his upside down shell (with creepy light blue eyes) and two front claws…

I’m pretty sure this is a dead crab, not a molted one (it’s a little bit hard to tell after other creatures in the tank start to scavenge, but usually when crabs molt we only see a claw or two, not the entire body together). And I’m really, really hoping it’s this one. The size seems right (you can see the tang for scale).

Here are the two tanks, all set up. The back tank is all cloudy because I just went and blew off the rocks and sand.

The next two pictures are sad — we were hoping to get something in the blenny/goby/jawfish category — the sand sifters, a lot of them are really pretty and they’re total personality fish, with perching and goggly eyes. The fish store was out of some of our leading contenders, but they had a few orange-spotted jawfishes. So pretty.

So we got one. The transfer to the tank was scary, he jumped out of the drip container (you drip your tank water into their bag water to allow their bodies to acclimate, but he was a floppy little thing and tried to flip off my hand, up my arm, and onto the counter. I scooped him up and got him in, with the worst adrenaline rush, and he seemed fine. He ate, he mostly hid but swam a bit… but on the second night he jumped and Kevin found him in the morning on the kitchen floor. So sad. We read a bunch afterwards (should have read beforehand, and the fish store probably should have warned us), but given that we don’t intend to cover our tank, we shouldn’t get jawfish, they are notorious jumpers. 🙁 Rest in peace, little dude.

In less horrible fishkeeper news, the new corals are stunning and seem really happy. These photos are all terribly purple/blue, but I’ll keep them just because it will be fun to look back and see how much they grew if they thrive. We rigged a real coral tray for the first time — that white grid is from the lighting department of the hardware store, perfect for placing corals into. Kevin had to cut it down while I worked on cutting the PVC supports, a major chore with a zillion cuts, but it works perfectly.

A rose-colored cluster acropora.

A lime green acropora. I LOVE this one.

A slightly-purplish pink acropora (we think?). This one is interesting because in addition to the darker pink mouths, there are also longer white protrusions. It’s very pretty. Lopsided because this was a sideways-growing branch, not a vertical one. When we mount it in the tank, we’ll break off the plug (true for all of these) and turn it back to its original orientation.

An avocado green staghorn. This is an awkward shape (and was cheap) because it’s a pretty recent frag, but it’s already growing well — those pinking spots grew and multiplied even over the next two weeks. I can’t wait to see what this one turns into.

They called this a “Pink lemonade” birdsnest. Pink at the tips (new growth), lemon yellow for the rest. This is another one that I can’t wait to see in a few months or years.

And, even though I was so glad to see the last one go, a torch coral. We need more movement in our tank, and this is a good start. We need a leather, too. Our xenia are very small, even though they pulse away. I’m hoping this one is happy.

Cleaner shrimp

I happened to be standing next to the tank with the camera in my hand just in time to catch the cleaner shrimp cleaning Clack.

He cleans the tang daily, and Clack often, though Click seems more skittish. You can see he actually climbs on while Clack stays close to the rock, and then goes back and forth. He jumps on and off a few times, the whole thing is such a dance and both the shrimp and the fish seem ready to bolt at the slightest provocation.