I haven’t posted about the fishtank in ages. All the dudes seem to be hanging out and doing well. Over the winter the tang had been acting increasingly neurotic, and was having scale issues, but we moved his food clip a few months ago and it seems to have helped a lot – he’s much more social and is looking and acting like a completely different fish. Kevin’s also been quite disciplined about filtering the water that goes in the tank and about nightly kalkwasser supplementation, and that seems to be having a noticeable impact as well. We’re still talking about a bigger, quieter, automated tank but we’re still probably a ways away from installing it.

I wanted to post, though, about the leather. Since I last posted in February, it’s grown another few inches up and out – truly a monster. I’ve been very worried about the Ricordia below it (the pretty green and blue corals), since it’s increasingly blocking their light. However, apparently the ricordia decided to take matters into their own hands, and have started climbing to a better location. Unfortunately, they chose to move up (instead of over), which means they are now slowly marching up the trunk of the leather!

Here’s a close-up:

This is less than ideal. First, they won’t get any more light because they’ll still be under the lip of the leather. But more importantly, soft corals have limited defences – they move very slowly and don’t have rigid structures to retreat into. Their only real defence mechanism is chemical warfare – trying to sting or annoy away anything that encroaches on their turf. You can see that both the leather and the ricordias look a bit the worse for wear – the ricordias aren’t fully out (they pull their little nubs in at night or when they’re feeling attacked), and the leather is pulling away from the rock and is susceptible to a reddish algae around its base. We’re probably going to have to intervene by both paring back the leather and removing some of the now-embedded ricordias, but I need to gear up a bit more before undertaking that high a level of coral surgery.

Exciting Fish News

We had a huge tank event tonight! The clownfish spawned!! Kevin was starting a water change and saw the eggs!!

We’ve had the clowns for more than four years, and kept hoping they’d mate. Clownfish are hermaphrodites: they start out male, pair off, and then one fish becomes dominant, quite a bit larger, and female. Clack has been the bigger fish for years, and they’ve displayed lots of the typical clownfish pairing behaviour, but no spawning until now!

I need to read up on more about exactly what happens (since clownfish are one of the most successfully captive-bred fish, there’s a lot of information out there), but Click (male) and Clack (female) did alternating passes of circling around the eggs. They bind them to the rock (I think that’s Click’s job?), lay eggs (Clack) and fertilize them (Click). They chose a spot right behind the leather, which makes sense as usually Clowns lay eggs on rock near the base of their anemone.

There are many steps, special food, and extra tanks involved in raising fish fry into baby clowns, so we’ll probably let things take their course (ie, either the eggs or fry will be eaten by other creatures in the tank), but Kevin was having fun brainstorming baby clownfish names: Clickety, Clackety, Yakkity, and Yak were leading contenders. 🙂

I got a few videos of them as they spawned. We were so captivated and delighted. The first has reflections from the kitchen light (oops! sorry!) but you can see well how first one circles, then the other. They repeated this for ages (We watched for well over a half hour, and only saw a portion.)

At first I was disappointed by the second video because Click stopped mid-circle and seemed to lunge at Clack. I wasn’t paying enough attention to the other creatures in the tank though, since the shrimp had decided to come check things out. I might not have noticed him, but the Clowns definitely did and they chased him off.

Happy Tank

We keep watching in amazement as the leather just keeps growing. Really the only change has been the clownfish’s behaviour, so it’s quite incredible to watch it continue to expand.

Meanwhile, the yellow montipora has also recently taken off, and is really starting to grow in the classic shape.

You can compare the leather and the monti (just a tiny corner is visible) in this photo from Oct 26th:

The difference is rather shocking.

New Years

We rang out the old year by going to the fish store to talk to them about ordering a custom tank and stand. When we bought the house part of the plan was to improve the fishtank and it’s exciting to finally be past enough of the insulation and water heater type projects that we can start working on this one. We definitely want to go a bit bigger (though certainly not to the swim-in dimensions that Kevin aspires to), but equally important factors are noise reduction and automation (ie, no more buckets stacked everywhere for water changes and water top-off!!). Our designs are now submitted so that we can get a quote. Fun! The fish store also had a great group of Royal Grammas and we brought one home. (Our first fish was a gramma, and we thought he was great. So sad when he didn’t make it through the wind storm power outage two years ago.) The timing is great, since we’re done with travel for a few months, and after acclimating him for a bit we got him settled in the quarantine tank. He’ll stay there for the next month (he’s unlikely to be susceptible to parasites, but if he’s carrying any we need to give them time to die off before we introduce him to the tang). He’s been doing a little bit of exploring, which seems practically sociable compared to the old gramma, but wasn’t really visible enough for photos. Perhaps in a few days…

Champagne, etc, to celebrate “New Years in Boston” (aka 9 PM) while we finished getting the new guy settled:

(Kevin’s covered in salt residue. You can see a bit of purple in the bottom-left corner of our tank – our new dude!)

Larry came by a little bit later for champagne and to catch up (we haven’t seen him in ages).

Everyone looks lively in this photo but Larry was planning to go out and practice his avalanche skills the next day, so he left just after 11. I was asleep 20 minutes later. 🙂 Such a fun day, but not our rowdiest-ever New Year’s celebration?