Our shrimp seems to be settling into a nice, regular schedule of molting and then producing eggs! I’m pleased, since that seems to be a sign of good health. It’s very hard to get a picture of the eggs, since he (she?) gets much more cautious and shy when carrying them, but I managed to get a reasonable view at feeding time. He was working away on the food.

You can see areas of yellow on the underside of his tail. The eggs are yellowish (slightly green) and about the size of a poppy seed, and you can see the masses of them through his skin. I’m not entirely sure what happens to them (I’m guessing the shrimp eats them? They seem like they’d be nutritious) but they disappear after a few days.

Shaking up the clowns’ world

I was blowing off the rocks with the turkey baster (a common fishtank chore – it stirs up the detritus so that our skimmer and filters can remove it) when I got a little bit too close to the leather and sucked at some of its arms. It was not pleased and promptly retreated, leaving the clowns very confused.

It’s an amazing coral, since it can pull in those long (over an inch) arms in completely, leaving only a dimpled top. I love the texture, especially when it leave a few arms out for grizzle around the edges.

(You can also see the pretty patterns on the trunk – click for big – so delicate and lovely.)

After a few minutes, the clowns started nuzzling in. This did not seem to improve the leather’s mood.

(You can also see the shrimp dancing away. Clack recently started letting it clean him, and the shrimp has been paying him lots of attention.)

About a half hour later, the water started to clear and the leather, grudgingly, came partway out again. It curled its top into a funnel shape. Amusing to me because it still looks outraged.

The clowns were being very protective when I came near with the camera, and whenever the tang swam by to investigate. Cute. 🙂

New Trick for Click

For the last few months, the clowns have been hanging out under the leather. Before, they used to mostly stay under the purple rock near the zoos and the xenia, but Click started to move over around the time we got the shrimp, and Clack decided to join him in late September. Typical photo of Click hanging out and keeping watch, with Clack zooming back from a jaunt to join him:

(Click for a bigger photo) The leather has been getting quite large, and so it must feel like good protection and shelter from a fish perspective. The tang occasionally tries to join them, but the clowns don’t like having him there and he doesn’t seem to like the way the leather feels (every time he gets brushed by it, his fins flare and his tangs come out) – definitely a clown-only fort.

When Kevin was at PDC last week, Click started mostly hanging out IN, not under, the leather!

Clownfish instinct takes over!! We don’t have an anemone for them, so the leather must seem like the next closest thing. While it used to shrink every time a fish brushed it, the leather now seems remarkable unperturbed about its new resident – all of that boneheaded fish persistence clearly paid off and it just decided to succumb to the inevitable. 🙂

I videod Click swimming away (my first youtube contribution) – no sound and pretty low quality, but you can get the idea.


I love the tang in the background, keeping an eye on everything from a safe location by his rock. He’s basically completely cured – adding Selcon to his Nori did the trick. We’re cutting the Selcon down to every other day now that he’s looking better (it definitely seems to contribute to algae in the tank). So yay, Tang.

Shrimp excitement

Our cleaner shrimp molted – always a good thing because it means he’s healthy, eating and growing (as far as I know, shrimp are like lobsters and keep growing throughout life and molting once their exoskeletons get too small). Our old shrimp used to molt right after producing eggs, which happened quasi-monthly. However, it always gives me a rush of grief, because I’m walking by the tank and see what looks like a dead shrimp (Oh, no!!) and it takes a moment for my brain to sort out that the other one’s still there and acting like his normal, alive self.

We leave the shed skeleton in the tank, and it always seems to disappear in a day or so. But in the meantime, it’s such a broken, fascinating thing to look at.

Life, in all its forms, is amazing.

Les Dudes

Kevin just got a new lens – neat! The dudes look great with it. Here’s Click nestling into the leather (he seems to be attempting to host in it – much luck to him? The leather is not enthusiastic. ) :

Plus the clowns being cute:

We’re all worried about the tang. All of a sudden he’s showing signs of headline lateral erosion – a symptom of stress/poor nutrition/water quality/etc. He’s looked a bit symptomatic since we got him early last spring, but for the most part he’s been eating well and nothing seemed to phase him. Now, he’s not eating the Nori and his scales and fins are starting to look very ragged. We’re worried. We just ordered Selcon (a vitamin to soak his food in) so hopefully that will fix things soon. Here’s the tang – you can see the HLE at his temple, and stretching up in an arc from his eye to his tail.

No good. Feel better soon, little dude!!

A new dude!

Kevin went to the fish store for more salt and came home with a new cleaner shrimp!

We’ve been trying to find one for a good eight months (since we moved into the house), and we haven’t had much luck finding mature ones. We bought a teeny one when Kevin’s family was here for Christmas, which was a mistake as it fell prey to the ricordia in a matter of minutes. We were crushed and felt so guilty.

This morning, I felt a surge of the same emotion again, as I checked the tank on my way out the door to work and saw a shrimp body half-consumed by the ricordia. Luckily my eyes deceived me – the shrimp had molted (a good sign that he’s physically in order, since that’s an appropriate response to adjusting to the new environment), and it was just his old skin that was caught in the ricordia – a major relief.

The fish are intrigued but trepidatious. Here’s a typical moment: The shrimp was doing his cleaning dance and Clack (with Click nearby for moral support) swam up to him. But the second that the shrimp started to guide him into place to be cleaned with his antennae, Clack remembered he doesn’t like being touched by the shrimp after all, and cringed away. This photo is the closest I’ve seen of a fish shrugging off physical contact:

The tang consented to be cleaned for almost a whole second (Kevin saw it, I didn’t), which seems like a good sign since he’s the one that can benefit the most from grooming. He’s jittery enough around us that I suspect he’ll be too nervous to sit still when we’re home, but who knows what they all do when we’re away at work. 🙂

The right sort of friends

We’ve been having fishtank light issues for about a week. The fans on our lights (the same things that are in a computer case) have been noisy for the last year or so, but one of them has apparently become completely unbalanced and starting last Sunday now makes a loud revving noise approximately every five seconds. I figured out which fan was causing the problem and took the light apart to try to remove it. Electricity isn’t exactly my forte, though, so Kevin took over once everything was in pieces and I’d given up.

Kevin ordered new fans, put the light back together, and the day after they arrived, the actinic lights blew. We have four compact florescent bulbs in the upper tank – two are white (with yellow/pink tints) and two are blue (technically called actinic). Kevin took apart the lights again, played with wires, switched the bulbs, checked the switches and sockets, and it appears that part of our ballast blew – expensive and crummy. The light is three and a half years old, so it shouldn’t be dying but it’s also well past its warranty. Adding to the worry is the fact that we’re looking at upgrading our tank in the fall, so this really isn’t a good time to be looking at multi-hundred dollar temporary light fixtures.

Just when we were starting to get fairly distressed, we realized that Amanda and Brian not only gave us back our old fishtank when they moved away, but Brian threw in his two compact florescent fixtures. They’re perfect (even the right pin configuration!), and now we’re back in business.

A wild success! Thanks, guys. What a save!

Fishtank photo session a bust

I haven’t posted about the tank in ages. In January, Kevin upped the Kalkwasser (a calcium hydroxide slurry) dosing to daily from a few times a week/when he thought of it, and now the tank (fish, corals and rocks) really looks amazing. We were so happy when Sanna noticed without prompting at Easter how “clean” the tank looked. She last saw it when it was still a bit turbulent from the move, so there was bound to be some improvement regardless, but we were all sorts of gratified.

Anyway, I went to take pictures, and first I had the wrong setting on the camera (Kevin had been out in the yard taking photos of the plants with his macro lens) and by the time I figured that out, the tang was so agitated that the clowns were riled up and half of the corals were retreating. Bummer. So here he is, fully flared, eyeing the camera through the clowns’ rock.

Tangs are extremely expressive fish. They have a top and bottom fin which they use for speed and steering. When they are wary or alarmed, you see them zoom from hiding spot to hiding spot, and stop (very suddenly) with the two fins totally extended to examine the threat. It changes the shape of the fish from essentially a triangle to a vertical oval, and is very distinctive. Here’s a good look of that pause, which lasts all of a second before he dispatches for safer ground.

And here in front of the rocks:

I really wish he didn’t find us so alarming. And it’s not just photos — feeding, cleaning, water changes: all cause for panic. I wish I could explain that they’re in his best interest. Fish-brained tang.

Peer Pressure

I didn’t make a note of it here, but the tang has finally graduated from the quarantine tank! We put him in the main tank last Saturday, and although the transition really stressed him out, he seems great now. When we went to move him, it took me an extra try to net him (he half evaded the net and caught his tang), and then when we got him in the main tank, he caught his other tang and struggled for a few heart wrenching seconds before struggling free. He quickly darted down behind the torch coral’s rock, and actually lay on the bottom, breathing heavily. Not what you want your fish to look like. We didn’t think engaging with him would help, but we were so worried. I finally reached over and tapped on the glass by that corner, which seemed to startle him into action – he looked like he was just going to dart to a new hiding spot, but then he saw the clowns, his fins flared in interest, and he made a beeline across the tank for his new friends. Clack and (especially) Click took quite a bit longer to remember their manners and be sociable (Click was still trying to nip him away from all spots in the tank, especially the clown’s rock), but he’s really settled in, and the three of them now seem to be getting along nicely.

I had to get a picture of Kevin feeding them. The clowns generally swim up to the surface any time we come into view, just in case it might be time for them to eat. The tang, you can tell, really wants to be part of the party, but he just can’t bear to go anywhere near the surface or the front of the tank when we’re in range. He rockets around in panicky circles behind the rocks at the back, sticking close to the bottom, and you can practically hear a little fish voice shrieking, “Danger! Danger!” while the clowns bob and weave up at the surface. It’s very funny. And every now and then he pauses long enough to notice them up there, and you can tell he really wants to go see what they’re doing, because he thinks they’re interesting (especially after 6 weeks cooped up by himself) but he just can’t bear it.

I was so glad I got the picture when I did, though, because about a minute later you could see something click in his little yellow brain and all of a sudden he realized that the clowns were up at the surface gobbling FOOD. At which point he gave up his objections and joined the party.