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FAQs about Pearly Jawfish Compatibility

Related Articles: The Pearly or Yellow or Golden-headed Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons, Use in Marine Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Jawfishes

Related FAQs:  Jawfish Compatibility, Pearly Jawfish, & Pearly Jawfish ID, Pearly Jawfish Behavior, Pearly Jawfish Stocking/Selection, Pearly Jawfish Systems, Pearly Jawfish Feeding, Pearly Jawfish Disease, Pearly Jawfish Reproduction, & Jawfishes 1, Jawfishes 2, Jawfish Identification, Jawfish Behavior, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Disease, Jawfish Reproduction,


Jawfish and Foxface; comp.     2/1/14
Hi Bob, I am curious as to whether a Foxface one spot and the yellow headed Jawfish are compatible?
<Usually so; if there's enough room for both to be>

One of the Jawfish is so confident he travels over to the other side of the tank.
<Ah good>
This morning I witnessed the Foxface nip the Jawfish! There is no damage and it didn't freak the Jawfish out as surely the fish would run to its burrow?
<Yes; likely not an issue>
Your help is much appreciated.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Jawfish and foxface; O. aurifrons beh., incl. repro. f'     2/1/14

Thank-you I think there is enough room it's a 70gallon tank. I'm trying to breed the Jawfish I have 6. They all live in 1 burrow, I got them a week ago and waiting for them to make separated burrows. In the wild do they live as colonies or separately?
<In colonies... B>
Re: Jawfish and Foxface   2/1/14

Thank-you for your help Bob.
<Welcome Lorna>

Yellow Head Jawfish; symb. rel.s: comp. f'       1/19/14
Hello WWM crew,
I have read on the internet that: "... some Yellow Head Jawfish will form symbiotic relationships with certain types of shrimp."
<Really? I've never observed this... in the wild or in captive systems>
Yet I seem unable to find any further information on the matter, just the same general statement reposted.
I was wondering if anyone there could provide any further insight on which species could pair off with YHJ?
Thanks, in advance.
<There may be some sort of commensals that find their way into their burrows... bristleworms (Errantiate Polychaetes)... perhaps some Crustaceans; but I don't know of any evidence for same. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish Compatibility ala Jordan     3/29/12
Hello, my name is Luis.
<Hi Luis, Jordan here>
Currently I have a 120 gallon reef tank and I plan on getting a Yellow Head Jawfish.
<Great fish with lots of "personality." One of my favorites.>
I had a few questions about them that I couldn't seem to find elsewhere. I was wondering if a Yellow Head would eat cleaner shrimp, Skunk Cleaners in particular.
I've been checking my future livestock for compatibility with Jawfish and everything is almost ready, except this question. Also, I know they are mainly shy fish, and was wondering if their territoriality would be a problem for other small fish (a Dragonet, for example).
<They will posture with mouth wide open if another fish ventures to close to there burrow but that's about it. They will quarrel violently with other Jawfish though.>
 Thanks a ton,
<Quite welcome>
Jawfish Compatibility/ James  3/29/12

Hello, my name is Luis.
<Hello Luis>
Currently I have a 120 gallon reef tank and I plan on getting a Yellowhead Jawfish. I had a few questions about them that I couldn't seem to find elsewhere. I was wondering if a yellow head would eat cleaner shrimp, skunk cleaners in particular.
 I've been checking my future livestock for compatibility with Jawfish and everything is almost ready, except this question. Also, I know they are mainly shy fish, and was wondering if their territoriality would be a problem for other small fish (a dragonet, for example).
<Likely the other way around.  Other burrowing fish may bully it so the Jawfish should be kept with other docile fish.  It is best to keep multiple specimens which will provide very interesting behavior.>
 Thanks a ton,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re Jawfish Compatibility    3/29/12

<Hi Luis>
I'm following up on the Jawfish questions, and I'm sorry if I didn't clarify but I don't plan on keeping other different burrowing species, the only bottom feeding fish would be a Mandarin Dragonet, and the other fish would be a royal gramma, two true Perculas, and 5 Chromis. Is getting multiple JF a good move?
<I only stated that based on the size of your tank (120).  I would not have recommended it if your tank was under 55 gallons.>
I can imagine that they're interaction would be a riot to watch, but I'm not sure about getting a lot of them yet.
<Three would be fine, not an army of them.  Multiple specimens are not necessary for the well being of the fish, it's just more interesting.  The choice is yours.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Pearly Jawfish Questions/Jawfish Compatibility/Systems 3/31/2011
<Hello David>
Thanks again for everything that you all do. It is truly appreciated.
<You're welcome.>
I have some Jawfish system set up and tankmates questions for you. I am currently planning a 50 gallon FOWLR system (36 x 15 x 20). I am thinking of moving my Pearly Jawfish (*Opistognathus aurifrons*) to the new tank. My fiancé really loves the character of it so it makes me wonder if a second one be added to a tank of that size? I've read that they need about a square foot of surface area per pearly. My guess is that there is no exact formula, so I don't really trust that.
<Shouldn't be a problem, are found in groups in the wild.>
In setting up the deep sand bed would it be better to create one deep area where I would want the Jawfish to settle or keep it deep all over?
<You can create an area you would like them to settle in, not necessary to do the entire tank.>
I'd like to not take away too much water volume out, as I'd like to add some tank buddies for them and the move water the better.
<Mmm, best to read here and related articles/FAQs found in the header.
I am curious about tankmates for a tank this size. In the smaller set up for the pearly I stayed away from even the somewhat aggressive fish, which has worked out great. With a larger tank I wonder if it would be possible to add something like a flame angel (*Centropyge loriculus*), Lemonpeel angel (*Centropyge flavissima*), or a six-line wrasse (*Pseudocheilinus hexataenia*) without causing a battlefield?
<The swimming area of your tank is a little small for most Centropyge, would not choose this species.>
Additionally I wonder about a blenny likely a lawnmower (*Salarias fasciatus*)
<Would work keeping in mind they can reach nearly five inches full grown.>
if I need an algae eater or a starry blenny (*Salarias ramosus*),
<Ditto here.>
or instead of a blenny a smaller goby like the green banded (*Elacatinus multifasciatum*) or the Wheeler's (*Amblyeleotris wheeleri*).
<More suitable size wise.>
Again in a smaller set up another bottom dweller would be certain warfare, but with the bigger footprint I wonder if it would work. My guess is that one other bottom dweller might be ok as long as it is only one blenny/goby and one pearly Jawfish.
<You should be fine with the last two choices. It's nonconspecific burrowing fish that may cause problems.>
Thanks for your time and for your thoughts,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Jawfish home/tankmates question 8/29/10
Greetings and salutations,
I'll start with a big thank you for all your time
and efforts for this wonderful website, your efforts are sincerely appreciated.
I am planning out the home and inhabitants of my 29g Biocube (fish only). It was previously up and running for over a year but, as I moved its former inhabitants to their new and much larger home, I'm looking to place new livestock in and want to make sure the plan is workable before I add any livestock. I have decided that I definitely want a yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons).
<Neat animals>
I have done much reading and searching the web for answers but while having a great number of issues addressed, am left with some remaining questions specific to my plans.
If you are not familiar with the size of a 29g BC here are some details: The swimming or display area where the fish will live is about 15x19x15. As it is sw I removed the bioballs and use the back chambers as a sump. I do not have a protein
<I would>
I use filter pads and employ a filter bag containing activated charcoal instead of the expensive and poorly designed cartridges which came with it.
<You are wise here>
When up and running with inhabitants I do 25%-30% water changes weekly or bi-weekly depending on nitrate levels.
In preparing for a Jawfish I have added more live sand (of a larger size than what I had already had), I crushed up and added some live rock for larger pieces of substrate and have added many empty snail shells. I placed some live rock
pieces on the glass bottom and built on top of the them for my rock structure to avoid falling rock issues. I began with 2 inches of sand. I have wanted to go beyond the 3 inch recommendation desiring up to 6 inches. However in adding
much substrate I realized that I lose living space for non-bottom dwellers, which brings me to my first question:
I wonder if it would meet with Jawfish approval if I began with shallow substrate in the back and increased the levels moving towards the front in such a small space (about 285 square inches)? If so how large of an area would need to be
<Yes; a square foot or so; 3-4 inches>
This then brings me to the next question concerning tank-mate which is then in part dependent upon the answer to the above question. I will certainly put the Jawfish in first and leave it to establish itself for a few weeks before adding any new
fish. As I understand it Flame Hawkfish, six line wrasses, and Dottybacks are acceptable as tank mates.
<Mmm, well... this size/shape container is really unsuitable for Cirrhitids/Hawks, and Sixline's are a bit too mean at times... Some Pseudochromid species, particularly tank bred/reared are fine...>
(While to me the small wrasse and Dottybacks are fast and active swimmers, they don't fall into the category of fast and active swimmers to avoid with Jawfish). Obviously in a 29g all of these together would be too much fish. So I am trying to
determine which two I could bring together with the Jawfish.
<Mmm, how 'bout a Fridman's?>
I fear with a Flame Hawkfish that in a smaller tank as this one they might eventually become aggressive towards the Jawfish and any other inhabitants.
<Too likely>
I fear with the Dottybacks and six lines that aggression may also be an issue, depending on the individual fish. I've had to
return two six lines to my LFS due to their aggression in two separate tanks where a more peaceful six line would have been fine.
(I love all three fish and their swimming styles so any thoughts you might give on the better and safer combination would be
greatly appreciated). In theory these three would be ok in a tank of this size; however, I wonder what happens when I make the tank even smaller with the enlarged substrate. So in relation to the answer to my first question is my plan for tank mates ok?
<Not what I'd risk, no>
Thank you again for your time, effort and consideration and I apologize for any mistakes I have made in attempting to ask my questions.
Best regards,
<And you David. Please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smswstk12.htm
and the linked files in the series (above) for much more in the way of ideas. Bob Fenner>
Re: Jawfish home/tankmates question
Thank you so much for the quick and insightful response. Additionally thanks for the link. I had not come across that in all my searching. (user failure for sure.)
Have a Great weekend! (Well what is left of it anyhow)
<Welcome and thank you, BobF>

Blackcap Basslet vs. Yellowhead Jaw fish [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]   6/23/09
<More public thievery? Defence.gov of what?>
I currently have a 280lt (Im Australian) Reef kicking along successfully, but which to own a few Caribbean species, so Im currently setting up a Caribbean corner tank appx 120lt or 31Us Gal. I was just wondering if it was possible to put in a pair of Yellowhead Jaw fish and a pair of Blackcap Basslet
<Need more room than this>
(owned previously) in this tank, apart from snails and maybe a blood shrimp, this will be the only livestock.
Filtration if sufficient for all of this. Being a corner tank I can set up artificial holes at either end (approx 32 inch apart) for the jaw fish even if they decide not to pair and burrow separately, my biggest concern is will these two species be compatible. Noting they are both from the same region.
<Found in different depths, habitats... in the same geographies. They are compatible... given sufficient room/space>
Do you have any definitive information on sexing of blackcap Basslets
and if so was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I have found some information but it is limited.
<Just the usual Net, books re fishes of the region... Bob Fenner>
Thank you very much for you time,

2/20/2009 Jawfish sys, stkg pearly Jawfish compatibility Hello Crew! <Hi Danny> Let me apologize upfront, my e-mail system tends to put random question marks through my letters. <I see this.> I've recently acquired a JBJ 24 gallon nano. It is currently cycling with 35 pounds of live rock and over 40 pounds of Fiji pink live sand, so I will not be getting any fish for at least a month. <Very good!> I have in mind that the star of my new little tank is going to be a pearly Jawfish. I've been reading through forums and the FAQ's here of course, to find suitable tank mates. However, I read conflicting information on whether a pearly would peacefully reside with a black cap Basslet, Firefish (red or purple), or royal gramma.? Just to clarify, I am considering just one of those fish with the pearly. Some posts say their niches are too close, others say those fish will reside closer to the rock work and will not bother with the Jawfish. I want to make sure the pearly Jawfish is happy and will not have any conflict with other fish or be out competed. So, are any of those fish compatible? Any recommendations would be great...as you can see, I am particularly found of the elongated gobies and Basslets. :) <Well Danny, they are personally one of my favorite fish as well. I currently have one in my 150 Gal with a Royal Gramma, Blackcap Gramma, and a Firefish. I would say that your best choice here would be to have just the Jawfish and a Firefish.> Thank you for your time! <No Problem> Danny N. <Mike>

2/20/2009 Jawfish sys, stkg, a bit too small for what is desired. Re: pearly Jawfish compatibility   2/22/09 Thanks for the quick reply Mike! <Hi Danny, no problem> I have in mind to add a pearly Jawfish, Firefish, clownfish, and then royal Gramma (in that order) to this tank. <For a 24 gallon system, I would add the Jawfish, a Firefish and nothing else. With a 24 gallon tank, you are going to lose almost 10 gallons of capacity between the live rock and the deep sand bed that both of these fish require. Neither a Clownfish nor a Gramma would be happy in a tank of this size, and certainly not together.> I know that is probably pushing the fish limit on this tank. <Well past the limit I'm afraid.> Do you think they will be all compatible then? <Grammas and Clownfish can and do get territorial, you would have aggression issues putting them in a tank this size. They would likely bully each other and certainly bully the Firefish and Jawfish. A Jawfish and a Firefish should get along well in this setup, then add a couple of hermit crabs, perhaps a cleaner shrimp, a snail or two, and some macroalgae you would have a very nice display that will not be too difficult to maintain. I have intricate rockwork, lots of holes, crevices, and arches. Just want your expert opinion. <Sounds like it will be a very nice looking tank, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that you keep any more than two fish in the system.> Thanks again! <My Pleasure> Danny <Mike>

Mixing Jawfish Question 11/19/2008 Hello Crew, <Hi Riley, Mich here> The yellow headed Jawfish is probably my favorite fish, <Is one of my favorites too!> and I was thinking of adding five of them to form a colony in my 120 gallon (the 60" 18" footprint) FOWLR system. <Sounds awesome! Presumably you know these fish have a propensity for jumping and need a deep sand bed for borrowing.> Would this number work? <I would think, I have seen them this dense in the wild.> Also, I can't seem to find good info about mixing different Jawfish species, so I was wondering if other types of Jawfish such as the bluespotted, dusky, and black cap could be mixed in as well, if there were five yellow head and 1 each of the others? <Hmm, I don't have any personal experience mixing any of these congenerics. But if you do so, do so cautiously and have a way to separate these fish if need be. Some of these fish are known to fight conspecifics to the death.> If these would be too crowded together, would one of each of the different Jawfish work? <I think you have a greater chance of success if you stick with one species, the Yellowheaded or the Dusky would be the best choices.> If they can't be mixed, what would be the most Yellowheaded Jawfish I could have in my tank? <I think 5 of the Yellowheaded is good place to start, you might be able to add more, but I think it's better to be conservative.> The tank mates at the present would be a pair of Ocellaris clownfish and 7 Green Chromis. If the chromis' aggressive eating habits would spook the Jawfish too much, <Just make sure some of the food gets low in the tank to allow the Jawfish to eat without straying too far from their borrows.> my club members would be happy to buy them from me. <Is always good to have a back up plan!> What would be some good schooling tank mates? <Cardinalfish> I was thinking maybe some orange striped cardinal fish would be nice. <I think this is an excellent choice!> thanks, Riley <Welcome,

Re: Yellowhead Jawfish... Horse Conch comp. Thank you for the answers! I have to apologize again for asking so many questions, I did find some more info and realized that some of them probably shouldn't have been asked. It is just so overwhelming when you have so many different questions and you are getting different impressions from different sources. <Focus... one thing... at a time> I will definitely look into reading those books. I still haven't bought the Jawfish, but he is still there so I have hope! I bought 20 lbs of live sand and some live rock, and I'm letting everything cycle. Hopefully all will be well before he is sold. I am also preparing myself to part with one of the crabs so I can free up some more tank space for him. There is one question that you didn't answer in my last email, and it was a pretty big concern of mine. Will the horse conch try to eat the Jawfish when he (the conch) gets to be a few inches long? <Shouldn't, no. Pleuroloca gigantea eats mainly other snails and bivalves> I have visions of the conch positioning himself over the jawfish's hole and sticking his body down there to eat him... the way he does with the snails he eats. I was able to get a better picture of the conch to send to you; he wasn't being very photogenic last time. I'll attach a picture of one of my marginellas, too. Thank you again for your time and knowledge! :) <Welcome! BobF>

Jawfish/Goby and pistol shrimp combo 01/09/2008 Hey guys and gals how are things? <<Hello, Andrew here>> I have a couple questions this morning. I've been doing a lot of research regarding Jawfish, and also have a love for the shrimp/goby relationship. The FAQ's have provided me great knowledge regarding these animals.<<Great to hear>> But, I still have a couple questions. I've been playing with marine aquariums for over five years now, and have set up three of four tanks due to moving and travel. Unfortunately, until now I had no idea that the rockwork is better placed on the glass rather than the substrate. <<A lesson well learned>> My tank has been sitting for about 2 months with no fish, it's 40 gallons with 50ish lbs of live rock. (1/2 of which is either touching bottom glass or very close to it from digging liverock into substrate) I also have Goniopora, Button polyps, green star polyps, and mushrooms. I have created a 6"-7" DSB about 9" square away from the liverock for the Jawfish to build his den, sand bed is about 2" elsewhere. Now for the questions. With this setup will a Jawfish build his den in the desired location? <<Stands a good chance, nothing is certain though>> If not will it put my rock structure in danger of shifting and damaging my tank? <<If the fish digs under rock which is only supported by sand, then yes>> If so, would the pistol shrimp/ goby combo be a better fit? <<The pistol will dig just the same as the Jawfish>> Lastly, if both the Jawfish and pistol/goby are o.k. in my conditions would it be at all possible for me to have both? <<Yes, given good tank size and big enough deep sand, should be fine>> Thanks again for everything you provide, any help as always is greatly appreciated. Steve <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Re: Jawfish/Goby and pistol shrimp combo 01/09/2008 Thanks for the quick response Andrew, greatly appreciated. <<No problem>> If I dig under the liverock so it will be in direct contact with the bottom of the tank will the concern about the Jawfish and goby/pistol be laid to rest? <<Yes, that will be better>> thanks again, Steve <<Thanks, A Nixon>>

Follow-up Re: Crab Removal, and now Jawfish compatibility issues -- 12/17/07 Good morning Lynn, <Good afternoon, David!> So, I removed my crab infested rock. <Excellent.> I wanted to get the crab out 'manually' without waiting for the crab trap to work or not work, as my quarantine tank wouldn't have beneficial lighting for the small corals beginning to grow. It took about 20 minutes with the rock out of water... but I finally got the big crab out with a screw driver and didn't come across any of the smaller crabs. <Heeee! Probably hiding from the giant silver 'claw'!> At this point, the other crabs don't appear to be at a size where they could do damage. <Yep, probably okay for now, but do keep an eye on.> The big crab is now in my 200g tank and I'm willing to bet he'll fall prey to the Harlequin Tuskfish before the Snowflake Eel gets to him. I also relocated my huge banded serpent star, who lately has been hiding in a small cave arched ~ I recall reading Green Brittles hiding in caves and arching and then collapsing onto unsuspecting fish <Yes, indeed, and it gives me the creeps. I must have watched too many monster movies as a kid!> ... so figured it'd be best to move him too. <Good thinking.> My reef tank is coming together now and my soft coral polyps seem to be doing well after 3 weeks. Just wanted a suggestion. I do plan to add several more corals to my 90g tank w/30 gallon sump. Current inhabitants: 2 x yellow headed Jawfish <Love these fish!> 1 fairy wrasse 1 Kole tang 1 small blue yellow-tailed damsel 1 Coral Banded Shrimp and a few small hermits. I do have two False Percula Clowns and a large Yellow Watchman Goby in a 24g bowfront nano tank. I moved them out to allow the Jawfish plenty of time to get settled as the last time I introduced a single yellow headed Jawfish to my tank, the outcome reminded me of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. <Ah yes, I remember reading about that. I believe the suspects included one of the Clowns and a Dottyback.> With new liverock, the addition of a wavebox, and the aquascaping entirely redone, the Clowns would definitely be the new kids on the block. <Good plan.> The Jawfish have been nicely settled sharing two side by side burrows for the past 2 months. <Awesome.> So, my questions, now that you have my novel of background information: <Heeee.. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."! Seriously, it's better to give us too much info rather than too little!> Do you think the two False Percula Clowns would now fit in nicely with this mix... likely leaving the Jawfish alone? <With the steps you've wisely taken, I think they'll do fine. It's possible, though, that the larger Clown could try to bully the two Jawfish if she decides she likes their part of the tank. Hopefully, it won't be a problem, but if she does get overly aggressive, take her/the pair back out. At least Clowns are easier to catch than Jawfish!> Do you think adding the large Yellow Watchman Goby would work with the Jawfish burrowed at the far back corner of the tank? Once that goby's in the tank, to get him out would mean dismantling all of the liverock. <Yep, that wouldn't be pretty. Watchman gobies don't usually go after other species, so given the fact that the Jawfish are at the far end of the tank, you should be okay.> I realize that additional corals would in a sense, increase the bio load on the tank. <Yes.> Am I appropriately stocked? Overstocked assuming the Clownfish move in? <How large are they?> Assuming the Yellow Watchman also moves in? <You'd be maxed out on fish, for sure. I think you might be one tang, or possibly a clown and a half, over the limit. Excellent husbandry and observation are going to be key. Do keep an eye on your water parameters, and general behavior/health of the fish. If they're crowded, you'll notice behavior problems/nipping/aggression, and/or disease/various maladies showing up.> I certainly won't be adding additional fish... but will likely add some more small hermits. <A couple would likely be okay, but frankly I wouldn't add anything else for a while. Let the tank settle in with this bioload and see how it goes.> David Brynlund <Take care -Lynn>

Jawfish tankmates -11/18/07 Hello all, <Steve> I have had some unfortunate circumstances with my tank recently. (previous question to you is attached below) The one positive circumstance that this bad situation has offered me, is to start fresh and create the "perfect" tank environment for the fish that I want. I have been reading a lot on your website, and one other about Jawfish. Which, I must say I love already and cannot wait to get a couple of the little guys. Anyway, my questions are regarding appropriate tankmates. I've come to realize that choosing appropriate mates for a Jawfish is a must, and I would just like some specifics. After I introduce the Jawfish first, I would like to add a blackcap Basslet, as well as two Banggai cardinals, and two Ocellaris. Throughout readings I have discovered that Banggai's and Ocellaris should be quite suitable. But, I have noticed that blackcap's may not be. What I've done is created a cave for the Basslet (due to their need to be covered from lighting) which is located a considerable distance from my deeper sandbed (about 5") where I hope the Jawfishes will burrow. My question is will this situation provide an appropriate environment for my new fishies. Thanks again for all your help, and providing everyone with such great information. Steve <The Basslet and all else here should get along fine... if this system is large enough... Sixty or more gallons let's say. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish killing help  11/6/07 Hi I have a question about my Jawfish to see if you might could help me. My current tank inhabitants are: a small maroon clownfish, yellow goby, cardinal Banggai, royal Gramma and pearly Jawfish, <Mmm, these last two...> and a yellow tang in my 75 gal tank which have all gotten along fine. I also have two cleaner shrimp and a peppermint shrimp. A few weeks ago my dad noticed my Jawfish swimming upside down and very funny in the current which he never did. My dad took him out of the tank and the Jawfish was very easy to catch and put him in our quarantine tank. The Jawfish acted just fine in the quarantine tank and ate like normal. Yesterday we decided to put my Jawfish back into the tank and acclimated him. He was fine yesterday, although he was very hard to catch. My dad left the light on acclimating him this time because in one of our fish books it said to leave the light on for the Jawfish for him to be able to find a home. We normally do not do this but we did this time. This morning I found my cleaner shrimp eating on part of my Jawfish which was not in one piece. My question is do you have any idea what could have killed him? <A best guess... the Gramma loreto... these two hail from overlapping habitats, but don't generally get along. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish Burrows'¦ Suitable Tankmates 11/2/07 Message for Mich <David> Thanks! <Welcome!> Yes, these little critters are my wife's favorites as well and they rank up there on my list too. <Love'em> I lowered the overflow in my 90 to incorporate a wavebox. I have a good 4inches of open air from water level to top of the tank with egg crating above. As well I offset two pieces of eggcrating to minimize the space that a critter could fit through topping off my overflow. I think I have taken care of any accidental suicides with these guys. <Does sound good.> I'm trying to figure out if I want to pull out my large serpent star... Brown with black bands. It does move ever so slow when using its arms on food items. <Serpent stars are generally less predatory brittle stars.> The red brittle star I had on the other hand became quite proficient at catching shrimp quickly ~ but he seems to have disappeared over the past 18months. <Sorry.> I have a small blue yellow-tailed damsel in the tank and a coral banded shrimp. I'm wondering if I should reintroduce my two false percula clowns in a month or so... Let the jaws get settled comfortably first. <I would give the Jawfish time to get comfortable.> I did have a bad experience the last time I tried to introduce a Jawfish but I think I went about it all the wrong way. (First of all, the clowns had been in the tank for years and the rockwork hadn't been readjusted in at least 18months. The Jawfish was the last one in the tank sharing quarters with: large yellow watchman goby, two clowns, regal tang, and a Royal Dottyback. Within 24hrs the larger clown and Royal Dottyback were ripping the poor critter apart.) <Not good.> Other than that, I wish to add a Royal Gramma. <Give the Jawfish time. The Gramma can be a little territorial.> I might raise a small Regal Tang in the tank to be moved to my 200gallon FOWLR after a year or so when he grows. Any suggestions/favorites of yours that I could also add in that wouldn't upset the Jawfish and are reef safe? <There are many lovely fish that fall into this category. Fairy wrasses are another one of my favorites. Perhaps a Firefish would make a nice addition. There are lots of neat Gobies. I'm fond of the genus Stonogobiops and their symbiotic pistol shrimp, of course how can you not love the genus Gobiosoma? Cardinalfish can make interesting shoals. Many choices, you need to do some research and see what you like.> Banggai Cardinals perhaps? <An excellent choice.> I'm all about slightly under stocking and stress-free life. <Is a recipe for success. Good luck to you my friend, Mich> David Brynlund

Re: Jawfish Burrows... Suitable Tankmates  11/6/07 <Hi David,> Thanks for the response... <Welcome!> Pistol Shrimp, really?? <So long as there is some space between all...> I used to have one with my Yellow Watchman Goby... <Cool!> But it kept nibbling my starfish down to stubby discs. <Un-cool!> I caught him and traded him at one of the stores. <Good.> However, after introducing three new cured pieces of live rock... I do hear a familiar clicking sound from the tank. Kind of like someone's gently tapping a penny against the glass from time to time. I've spent some time looking, but can't seem to locate anything. Sound like a pistol shrimp to you? <Yup.> It's been years since I had mine.... <Are neat creatures!> David Brynlund <Cheers, Mich>

Jawfish compatibility-- 09/17/07 I need some help with my stocking list. I have two reef tanks side by side, a 125 and a 30 cube. The 125 currently houses a yellow mimic tang, a canary wrasse, a Firefish, a royal Gramma, a pair of false Perculas, 4 Chromis, a cleaner shrimp and a fire shrimp. The 30 houses a single pearly Jawfish. I was considering adding a flame angel to the 125, but am at a loss for the 30. I love the jawfish's personality. He has become quite bold in leaving his burrow, especially at feeding time. I don't want to do anything to alter that. I thought that a pair of Banggai cardinals might make good roomies for the Jawfish, but although the body types are quite varied, that leaves me with three somewhat colorless fish. I really want something with a different body type that occupies more of the upper part of the tank, has some color (maybe purple or red), and will leave the Jawfish alone. I've always wanted a flame hawk but realize it would likely pester the Jawfish. I'd also like to stay away from what I already have in the other tank. Some thoughts that I had included: pipefish or seahorse (I have a very large fuge) <Mmm, maybe... perhaps a species found in the same range as the aurifrons> fairy wrasse <Nah... need more room> mystery wrasse canary blenny assessor <These three are too inactive to suit me> Hopefully there's something similar out there that would make a reasonable tank mate. Thanks, Jeff <I'd keep looking... no rush... BobF>

Stressed Jawfish Not Eating...Best Kept On Their Own, I Say -- 08/31/07 Hi I had written you earlier about a Jawfish that I thought was dead because I had a yellow watchman goby in the same tank. <<Mmm, yes...not the best of tankmates for these rather shy and peaceful fish (I'm assuming the species in question is Opistognathus aurifrons, the Yellow Head Jawfish)>> The yellow headed Jawfish is still alive. <<Ah! Guess I should read ahead [grin]. Okay, good...but for how long? Its chances are best in a species specific system...or at least housed with other smaller, not 'too' active, and very peaceable species>> They are both underneath the same rock right next two each other although different holes I think. <<Yes...is most likely>> The goby moved to that rock when we put the Jawfish in there. <<The Goby views the Jawfish as a competitor for its food items>> My question is; is there anything I need to do to get the Jawfish to come out of the rock. <<Remove the Goby...or move the Jawfish to its own system>> Occasionally I will see some sand move or him stick his head up to the top of the sand. That is the only reason I know he is alive. I have never seen him come up for food, <<Though it won't stray far, a happy and healthy Jawfish will extend from/leave its burrow to feed>> although for the past few days I've been mixing some garlic flavor and brine shrimp in a turkey blaster and putting it right by his hole. Today, being Thursday has made it a week since I got him. I know fish can sometimes hide a week, but will he ever come out of the rock? <<Maybe...maybe not... This situation is much like that when folks place Nemateleotris species of Dartfishes (commonly called Firefish) in systems with aggressive and/or boisterous fishes. Even if the Goby is not expressing direct aggression towards the Jawfish, just its presence/proximity may keep this shy fish from feeding properly. This along with induced stress will spell disaster for the Jawfish. There can be exceptions, but unless this fish adjusts/starts to feed actively soon...well...>> I don't know what to do. Thanks, LeAnne <<I can only relate my opinions/experience, but in more than 30 years in the hobby I don't recall ever seeing these fish do well in the long-term when kept with other large or boisterous fishes...especially other 'substrate-dwellers.' They can be pugnacious at times with their own kind, but are usually intimidated very easily by other fishes. These are wonderful little fishes with very interesting behaviors that can be fascinating to observe especially when kept in groups, but is also a demanding species best kept in a specialized system...in my opinion. Do please read here and among the associated links at the top of the page (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishe.htm). Regards, EricR>>

Assembling A Jawfish Community... -- 06/11/07 I am going to expand my salt water tank system. I am presently running a 50 gallon tank which I plan to attach to a new 90 gallon tank that has a sump and separate hang on refugium. Both tanks will have live rock and a deep sand bed. <Sounds interesting> My 50 gallon tank presently has 2 Percula Clowns, 5 Clown Gobies, a Yellow Watchman Goby, two Neon Gobies, 2 Peppermint and 1 Cleaner shrimp (and a few soft corals, snails and hermit crabs) <Quite a crowd of small, interesting fishes.> I will be connecting the two tanks with a bridge which will allow fish and water to move between tanks. <Neat.> I want to put in a deep sand bed (6") for jaw fish in the 50 gallon tank. I have read that the material in the sand bed for jaw fish should be mixed size and include some larger items like shells. <Correct.> I will be putting the rock on the floor of the aquarium in both tanks to prevent any instability due to digging. Some people have noted that they use PVC pipe for the jaw fish. I am thinking of doing this as well and creating an area in the tank with several 1 inch wide PVC pipes surrounded by an area of courser material. Do jaw fish prefer to live in close proximity or further away from each other? <Some species are not very social, such as the Blue Spotted Jawfish (Opistognathus rosenblatti). Other species, such as the Yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons), my personal favorite- do well in small groups.> (I am thinking of 2-3 yellow headed jaw fish which would be added at the same time) <Good call...> I presently have a sand bed in the 50 gallon tank that is mixed size material--which is collecting too much detritus--so I was planning to clean the sand and sort out the larger material such as crushed shells. This larger material along with sand would be added to the area for the Jawfish. (presuming I can get them to go to this area) I would like to put finer material in the other areas of the tank to prevent the buildup of detritus in these areas. <Okay..> The 90 gallon tank and the refugium would both have 3" sand beds of fine sand. I am currently growing spaghetti algae and pods in a separate 10 gallon tank to use in the refugium once it is set up. <Not a bad idea.> I will be moving some of the pods to both tanks as well as keeping them in the refugium. The Jawfish would be the first fish added to the new system, but I would also like to add a dragonet (maybe two --a Green and a Spotted) and an Orange-spotted Blenny once the tanks are better established. <I think that the Dragonets might be a bit of a problem- the Jawfish might harass them...Use caution. The Orange-spotted Blenny is a real hit-or-miss fish, in my experience. Some do great and acclimate well, others perish quickly in quarantine. Select carefully.> Since everyone in the tank I have get along now (except one neon who chases the other--even though the fish store said two would be fine....) are there likely to be any problems with this fish combination? <As above.> Maureen Baker Wilkinson <Best of luck with this system. Hope to see some pics one day! Regards, Scott F.>

Yellowheaded Jawfish Compatibility   3/31/07 Afternoon, <Still trying to awaken in HI...> I'm considering how I can please my wife and add a Yellowheaded Jawfish (that she loves) to either of my two tanks. 90g soon to be reef tank: 100lbs liverock, 4" sandbed 2 False Perculas 1 Yellow Watchman Goby (about 4inches) 1 small yellow-tailed blue damsel  (had to be moved out of 200g tank because of Royal Dottyback bullying) 1 Coral Banded Shrimp 1 Banded Serpent Star Assortment of snails and hermits 200g: 220lbs liverock, 4" sandbed 1 Snowflake Moray 1 Yellow Tang 1 Foxface 1 Royal Dottyback 1 Banded Serpent Star 3 Sand stars ** note I'm moving one sand star back into the 90gallon once I modify my 90g I had an issue when trying to add a Yellowheaded Jawfish once before.  Either Dottyback and larger clown killed the Jawfish as they were both tearing him up the morning after I introduced him... or else he died due to stress and they were attacking his body.  Anyhow, once I renovate my 90gallon reef tank... I would be adding the Jawfish first and allowing him to settle for a week or two before adding any other fish. <Sounds good, workable> I figure the Jawfish would definitely have to be in the 90g... but am wondering if the Watchman Goby would be an issue as they both are bottom dwellers.  Is a standard 4ft x 18" bottom enough room for both bottom dwellers? <Likely so...>    If not, is the watchman goby suitable for the 200g with the Snowflake Eel? <Mmm, I would not tempt the Echidna here... usually are non-fish eaters... however... Bob Fenner> David Brynlund

Clown Goby loss... and Jawfish/Sexy Shrimp comp.   12/14/06 Hello again, <Hi there Tom!  Mich with you again.> I have to quick questions for you. <Alrighty> 1. Are Pearly Jawfish compatible with Sexy Shrimp. The have quite big mouths and I was wondering if the temptation may be too great for them to bear. <I don't think the Jawfish will go after the shrimp looking for a snack, but the Jawfish will defend its' burrow.  If the shrimp tries door to door sales, it could have an unpleasant encounter at the Jawfish residence.> 2. A while back I bought a Clown Goby. He seemed to transition fine and he was nice and active ( he was the first fish I added to my nano tank after the tank had cycled for about 7 weeks). All had gone fine for about the first 6 weeks, but then two days ago he seemed to not want to come out, so he stayed hidden the whole day. I didn't get too worried because I thought he might just need some "alone time". Then yesterday, he wouldn't stop swimming around. He stayed out the whole day, eating and doing what fish do. As the day went on he seemed to get a little pail <What did he do with the little pail? Hehehe! Maybe you meant pale!>. By night he still seemed as fishy as ever but his color had really faded. This morning I went over to look to see how he was doing, and to my dismay, he was lying on the tank floor dead! I have no idea what caused this. The levels in his tank are all where they should be. He doesn't have and other tank mates ( I had made a the nano tank just for him). The only other thing I can think to tell you is that when his color faded, only the green faded ( sorry I should have told you he was a green clown goby earlier). The red dots and stripes were still as bright as they usually were. If you have any insights they would be greatly appreciated. <I'm sorry for your loss.  There is nothing that leads me to suspect anything particular contributed to his death.  Obviously there are many possibilities.>   My apologies, this dragged on longer than I thought it would. <No worries.> Thanks for all the great work you do. <A collective labor of love.  -Mich> Tom
Re: Clown Goby loss... and Jawfish/Sexy Shrimp comp.   12/14/06
Hi Mich, <Hi Tom!> I was not planning on getting a soliciting shrimp :), <Heee!> but since it could happen do you think it would be better just to avoid Sexy Shrimp? <It would eliminate potential problems.> Do you think the Clown Goby may have just died of natural causes? <Hopefully yes, but it's impossible to say.> If you think he didn't are there any other thing I should check? <Like no one wiped the outside of the tank down with bleach or accidentally spike the tank while spiking the eggnog?> Maybe he was caught under his little pail :)? <Could have been!> Sorry about that last time, yes I did mean pale. <It's OK, just having some fun with it!> Thanks again. <You're quite welcome.  -Mich> Tom
Re: Clown Goby loss... and Jawfish/Sexy Shrimp comp.   12/14/06
Hello again Mich, <Hi there Tom!>   Alrighty, I will steer clear of the sexy shrimp for now. <A good idea I think.> If it was from a bleach wipe down, what's the longest you think it would take from the time of the wipe to the time of his death (just so I can do some investigating)? <Hmm, not sure, would depend on many factor but I would say more than a few minutes to less than a couple of days, big range I know.> The tank does get wiped down but I do not use cleaners. My thought is maybe someone else used the cloth with cleaners and didn't rinse the cloth. <Would recommend a dedicated cloth or disposable paper products.> Do you think that could be a cause? <It's possible, but so are many other things.> I'll be sure to put up a sign beside the tank that informs people that the fish doesn't drink to eliminate the other idea you had ;). <Do a Google search on reef tanks and vodka, you will be amused!> Thanks again. <My pleasure.  -Mich> Tom Serpent Star and Jawfish compatibility  - 05/22/2006 Hello, I've perused the site for a definitive answer, but have only come up with 1) brittle stars and Jawfish can be problems, since both are benthic, but 2) most brittle stars, except the green brittle star are safe with fish. <Some useful generalizations> I have 2 tanks, the smaller is a 46G reef tank with several corals (Acropora, Goniopora, Frogspawn, green mushroom, a couple of polyp colonies, Xenia), 2 peppermint shrimp (wurdemanni) named Bubba and Gump, <Good names> 2 Mithrax crabs (pinchy & sandy), <Keep your eye/s on these...> assorted snails and blue leg hermits, 2 green-blue chromis, and 1 black banded serpent star named Twinkle (Ophioderma longicaudum, I think). Names are courtesy of the kids. Since setting up the tank, I have wanted to add a Jawfish. I have a 4" fine sandbed and am planning to raise it with courser materials. But I just read of the concerns about keeping with my star fish. <Mmm...> Please verify if it is inappropriate to add Jawfish with the star fish? <Your system is more than "full up" livestock wise... if it were much larger... by a few times, I would not hesitate to add an Opistognathid> Another question: when I got the tank there was a large number of small white feather dusters (maybe Bispira brunnea) on the rock. They proliferated all over, on the glass, some of the corals, even in the overflow until....I got the peppermint shrimp. The shrimp were acquired to tackle a growing Aiptasia infestation. <... don't always stick to assigned tasks...> They tackled that problem with due speed. But when done with the Aiptasia, I started noticing a decline, then nearly total disappearance of my feather duster population! Is it known that these shrimp eat feather dusters? All of them, or just this particular species? Any other explanation? <"They come and they go"... could be predation at play here, or senescence alone, a lack of food stuffs... Bob Fenner>

Re: Serpent Star and Jawfish compatibility   5/23/06 Dear Bob, Thank you for your help and the enormous resource you provide! <Glad to share> Surprised that the tank seems "full", it actually feels pretty "empty" since the organisms described all fairly small, and the appearance is of a large amount of live rock (about 60 lbs) but only scattered life, mostly the still modest sized corals. <Mmm, there is much to say here... Most likely your Goniopora will die soon (don't have a crystal ball, but this is an easy speculation)... Will "challenge" this 46 system, occupants... would likely "take" the Jaw with it... How to begin again here... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/poritidselfaqs.htm I am/was really simply trying to "stall you"... but am less reticent re telling you why at this point> The inverts mostly hide during the day at least. And there are only 2 fish each about 1.5 in. But if you think it's stocked, I'll lay off and maybe save the Jawfish for a planned 29G refugium I want to add to my other tank, a 120G FOWLR full of showy aggressive species. <Ahh!> As to the feather duster disappearance, although I never witnessed it, they were definitely eaten, and quickly. <Likely the Mithrax/Mithraculus here> Even their tubes are mostly gone, wiped clean off every nook and crevice of the rock. If I had thought them a pest (some sites have indicated small feather dusters can reach pest status) they were certainly cleaned up. Since they were thriving and always had their crowns out, right up until the shrimp had finished the Aiptasia, Bubba and Gump are the "creatures of interest." Could the Mithrax crabs also be suspects? <Yes, most likely candidates> They are original inhabitants and have been perfect citizens since I bought the tank contents about 5 months ago from a hobbyist getting out. It would seem strange that they would suddenly turn on the feather dusters, just when the shrimp arrived. I'm just surprised since I haven't read anywhere about shrimp eating worms. But as they say, the creatures don't read books, or websites. Oh well. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mithraxfaqs.htm> No need to reply unless you wish, thanks for your info on the Jawfish/star fish pairing! Michael <Mmm, do look into trading out the Flowerpot, or at least keep a close eye on it... And do investigate before buying livestock. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish 10/16/05 Hi I was wondering what would be the best setup for some Jawfish and what are some compatible tankmates in a 40 gallon aquarium.  <Read here Steve. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishe.htm.  Good tankmates could be percula clownfish, the smaller gobies, Dottybacks etc. James (Salty Dog)>

Jawfish (Opistognathus sp.) and other stocking questions'¦ Hey Crew, <Hello Aaron.> I would like to know if I could house a Yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) and what I would have to do to keep it healthy.  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishe.htm , as well as the FAQs at the top of the linked page.>  I have a 49G bowfront FOWLR aquarium. It currently has 50 pounds of live rock and a 4-inch crushed coral sandbed.  <I usually prefer to see 6 inches in a Jawfish tanks.>  I have an Excalibur skimmer, an Emperor 400 power filter, 2 powerheads, all tests (Ph, ammonia, nitrate, etc.) are good, and the specific gravity is 1.022. I only have 30W of lighting, but I am planning on upgrading that. I am also planning on getting a UV sterilizer.  <Not that I am against UV sterilizes (and some are) but make sure you are getting it for the right reasons (research) as many folks buy them and then realize later it was a waste of money, they aren't necessary in all set-ups.>  I have one false percula clown, one blue damsel, and one banded shrimp. I am planning on getting a Banggai cardinal  <Tank-raised if possible please.> a Firefish goby,  <This fish will inhabit the same lower area as the Jawfish, you may want to reconsider this choice.>  another false percula clown, a Bluegreen chromis, a tiger tail sea cucumber  <May not have adequate food in a 50 gallon tank.>  some bumblebee snails   <I would prefer to use Cerith or Nassarius, bumble bees (in my opinion) have a larger, negative, effect on microfauna populations.>  a blood red fire shrimp, and maybe a yellow Hawaiian tang or a bicolor angel.  <Both of these choices would not be inappropriate. The tang will grow far to large and the bi-color is just not a hardy fish. However the pygmy angel idea may be a good one, just choose another angel within Centropyge genus.>  Do you think that all of these fish will work in my tank?  <Not the tang or angel.>  If not, please tell me which ones or if there are too many. Also if there are any other neat fish (or other creature) that you could suggest for my tank (for the record, I am fairly new to the hobby), I would really appreciate it. I would appreciate a couple suggestions for good reference books as well. <The contentious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner and Reef Invertebrates by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner are two of my favorite ones.> <<Editor's note:  While many aquarists are certainly contentious, Bob's book is actually "The Conscientious Aquarist".  A spoof of the book, "The Contentious Aquarist" might be a fun read.  Marina>> Thanks, Aaron <No problem, and be sure to search the WetWebMedia site many of the questions you have are explained in much more detail within the articles as well as different opinions/perspectives in the FAQ's. Adam J.> 

Jawfish Compatibility - 05/08/05 Greetings WWM folk, hope all is well! Ok, so here goes.  I recently set up a 75 gal saltwater tank with about 25 lbs live rock and about a 4 inch sand bed.  The first inhabitants were a pair of tank-bred Perculas that I kept in a 12 gallon Eclipse.  They're doing great.  Then I added about 9 green Chromis. They are a very inexpensive fish and look great schooling.  So far everyone is happy.  Well the whole point of the tank was to house pearly Jawfish, maybe 4 or 5. <Jawfish can be very territorial, I don't think you'll get away with this many in this size tank.  In fact, I think the problem you describe below is attributable to aggression between the two Jawfish you have now.> So far I have 2 living there but they've had complete opposite reactions to their surroundings. <As already stated, more likely reactions to each other.> They both took to burrowing, however one can usually be seen spitting sand out of his hole whereas the other never comes out at all.  I can see the shy one hiding in his hole behind his little "door" but it's been a week and I don't think he has eaten.  I understand you can't keep Jawfish with fast swimmers but I've searched high and low, on this and many other sites, and can't find any ideal tankmates.  Any ideas? <Tank mates should be of a "peaceful" nature, which in my book, clowns are not.  Have you had a read here yet?   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfaqs.htm> Pudge <Regards, Eric R.>

Dwarf lionfish questions 7/28/05 I have a well-established 46 gallon tank.  Currently I have 2 Percula Clowns, 1 Chocolate Chip starfish and a Coral Banded Shrimp (approx. 2 inches long). < Sounds like a barren tank, and mostly a FOWLR. > I am interested in getting a Dwarf Lionfish but am concerned about its compatibility. < Well I think you should be okay.  I've seen a few of them in tanks with coral banded shrimp and clownfish.  I don't think I would buy the biggest dwarf lion and keep it with baby clownfish, but in general I think this sounds fine. > How large does a Dwarf Lionfish grow to be and would it  harm or eat any of my current fish? < Grow to about 5 inches, and if well fed with a variety of frozen foods it should be worry free. > Thanks Mark <  Blundell  > <<Sooner or later he'll suck'em up brah. RMF>>
FAQ daily question that was asked 8/7/05 Minimum tank size for a dwarf lionfish 8/6/05 I bought a 24 Gal Nano Cube that I was going to have for Saltwater. The only thing I want in there is a fuzzy dwarf lion fish. < That is a very small tank.  But if you plan to have one and only one fish, you may be okay. > I have been getting mixed opinions on if the tank is to small and I've decided to ask the experts! < Well that is a tough call.  Personally I wouldn't do it, but I think it can easily be done. > Would this size tank be fine for him/her? I lied. I also want a Yellowhead Jawfish. Would they be fine together? < Fine together, and probably okay in that size tank.  Too bad you already made the purchase, as a 55 gal would be much better. > This was posted on the FAQ, in my limited understanding, wouldn't' a Jawfish either stay in its burrow in this tank or be food for the lion.   <Yes> I'm just picturing that small a tank, that as soon as Jawfish pokes its head out, it would be gone. Plus if you make a sandbed adequately deep enough for that jaw, you wouldn't have enough room for the lion to swim about? <Hee! We are in agreement... totally. Bob Fenner> Blundell is far more knowledgeable than I, but thought this response odd. <I as well>
Re: FAQ daily question that was asked  08/08/2005 You both may certainly be correct.  I wouldn't think a dwarf lion would take out a Jawfish.  But I guess it may.   <Will... definitely, in time. Dang Pteroines should be called "suck-em-ups" commonly> Although I do agree that this size tank is just way too small.  The fish may live and grow, but that just can't be a happy life for them. Blundell <Mmm, okay. BobF>

Jawfish Compatibility Issues (12/27/2003) I've read many questions and comments about Jawfish being territorial, but is it possible to house 3 in a 90 gallon? <probably not> I just added 2 and there are very interesting little creatures. They were just added today so no territories are established yet. <Best to stick with only two. You need to QT any new livestock which means it would be a month before you could put in the third one. By then the two will be well-established in territory. Even if you put all in at the same time, two could end up pairing up and attacking the third.> Second question! I recently switched from a Berlin ho to a Berlin classic to save some precious cabinet space around my sump. The problem is that so far it has removed nothing. My ho wasn't removing a lot, but I don't have a very heavy load on it. When installing this in my sump the space was limited so in order to make it work I had to form a curve with my tubing. I did say a curve not a sharp bend. The water output seems to be fine but it's not removing anything. It's powered by a Mag 5 by the way. Should I be concerned? <you want skimmate> Should I try to switch back to a hang on in my case? What do you think of the berlins? <They do not enjoy a good reputation from what I have read. I'd suggest you post this problem on http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  under equipment/dry goods and seek advice from others who use this product. Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

- Jawfish Foe - Hi, I have been lurking on your site for tips for two years since I set-up my 50 gal Uniquarium reef system. <Glad you find the site useful.> All is going well and I have followed your advice (and from The Conscientious Marine Aquarist") and have had great success. Live rock is plentiful and productive, corals (a few LPS and several soft corals) are happy and I have a stable crew of compatible tank mates. All have been in together for at least 1 year. 1 pair Maroon Clowns 1 Orange-tail Blue Damsel 1 Bicolor Blenny 1 Yellow Watchman Goby 1- Banggai Cardinal 1- Flame Angel 1- Neon/Tailspot Wrasse Plus snails, a few shrimp, many hermit crabs, 3 brittle stars and 2 Fromia Stars. Here is the question/problem... When I started, it was my intention to have a Jawfish, so I built an area of higher (5-6") sand bed on one half of the tank (3-4" overall) with lots of rubble. I added a Yellow headed jaw first (along with the cardinal, blenny and goby) and added the more aggressive and those needing more established tanks later. Everything was fine for three months. Until I decided to add a Diadem Dottyback. He fought with everyone and within a few days the Jawfish was gone (presumably becoming the bulge in my red brittle star's disk.) Not knowing what caused his demise, I tried to add another Jawfish (blue spot this time. An expensive mistake.) He spent a few days finding the perfect spot, built a wonderful tunnel, ate well and was very cool, capping his tunnel with a rock at night.  After about two weeks of apparent bliss, (for me and him) I found him one morning in tatters trying to escape the surface of the tank. He eventually died. I blamed the Dottyback and finally managed to get it out (the soda bottle trap really works!!!). Thinking the coast was clear, I added another blue spot (money to burn, I guess) who settled in nicely in the same spot. After about two weeks of no apparent fighting, I found him one morning in the same tattered condition. Dead! <Bummer.> I have watched for hours at a time and have witnessed no aggression against the Jawfish. It all happens during a single night with no prior scuffles. <Hmm...> Who could be the culprit that does not want a Jawfish in the community? <Could be you have a snapping shrimp or even a mantis - that would be my guess. Each of these burrow and would eventually encounter the Jawfish in it's lair and if the crustacean were large enough, the Jawfish would likely lose. Hard to say specifically because I would have initially blamed the Dottyback, same as you did. More observation is warranted as well as perhaps some more soda-bottle-trap action over night just to see what shows up.> I am determined to house a Jawfish and am willing to find a new home for any fish that refuses to live with it! Any clues? <Not many... interesting problem, sorry I don't have a better answer.> Christopher <Cheers, J -- >

Jawfish replacement? Hello, again! I wrote not too long ago with a question about moving our anemone (it didn't move, instead we've adapted!). I've included part of my prior message below, listing our tank's inhabitants. <Ah, good> I also mentioned that we were on Jawfish #3 and #4 in 1 week. One never reappeared after making a burrow under some of the rock. Well, the second guy looked great and ate brine shrimp very well. He was active burrowing, but just as we thought he'd made a great home, he'd move on to another place. He seemed fine for almost 2 weeks. Then 2 days ago, he disappeared completely for 15 hours. It looked like he had suffered a cave-in (he was starting to burrow horizontally from his vertical burrow in about a 7" deep mostly aragonite - is that the one between fine sand and Puka rubble?  <Comes in many grades, products> we have all 3 - substrate). I went on a search and rescue mission, as one of the other Jawfish previously seemed to have buried itself to death...I blew a turkey baster in the area to clear a channel and sort of reached down and pulled up with my fingers and later that day he reappeared looking distressed. He then ate OK yesterday and now has disappeared again. This time, I think it's terminal (I haven't tried any searches, but he typically was always visible). I really loved watching this fish (so did my 6-year-old daughter), but I'm scared to try again with another - I don't want any more deaths on my conscience! These have been our first fish losses...Should we try again with Jawfish that have been held by the dealer longer? (These came from FFE) and, perhaps, are hardier, if that's the problem. Or is our substrate insufficient? It's plenty deep and mixed... <There's more afoot here... the Opistognathus aurifrons aren't doing well (to put it mildly) this last year or two... would wait till the water (in the Caribbean) got a little cooler (November on) before trying them again> If we should give up on the Jawfish (sigh), can you recommend other fish that would be good additions to our current tank? Anything else that has a personality or is active like the Jawfish? <Take a look through the materials stored on the site: Home Page , in particular the Fishwatcher's guide section to the tropical west Atlantic... for some ideas of what's available, desirable> Thanks again for your help. We're so appreciative of having you as a resource! Brooke Cannon >> <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish Hopes, Losses, Resolution Hi, I have your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, which has provided wonderful information and great educational as well as entertaining reading while waiting for my 55 gallon marine tank to complete its cycle.  <A delightful description of all that I could/hope that my writing efforts might accomplish> There is a bulletin board online that I also frequent for information and advice and many of the moderators on the board routinely recommend your book to newcomers.  <Ah, no higher praise, please> I have kept freshwater tanks for about 10 years, but this is my first marine tank. Have always wanted to try them. Now for my problem.  My thirteen year old son is my partner in this endeavor and as we have both been doing a lot of reading and studying before and during the set up of our tank, he fell in love with the Jawfish, or what he has read about them. So in anticipation of eventually owning a Jawfish or two for our tank, we set up with a deep sand bed (it's about 5 inches I'd say) with regular aragonite on the bottom and 30 lbs of live sand on the top. I also have around 40 lbs of live rock. Anyway, to make a long story short, the tank finished cycling, I ordered a clean up crew online, which arrived fine.  This crew was recommended for tanks with live rock and live sand and consisted of a black brittle star, a black banded serpent star, 2 inpatiens cucumbers, 1 abalone, 2 Mithrax crabs, 10 burrowing Cerith snails, and 1 red Fromia star fish. As a surprise for my son, I also ordered 2 pearly Yellowhead Jawfish. Well, one of those was DOA (nearly) and the other seemed perfectly fine and happy. We even had the pleasure of watching him build his little home on the night of his arrival. His little face was so adorable! Then alas, I woke this morning hoping to see him out and about while the lights were off, and things were quiet, but he was being eaten by the banded serpent star! Now I was pretty mad about this. But what I need to know is first, did I jump the gun and get Jawfish too soon in my tank, and second, was the Jawfish most likely dead BEFORE the starfish decided to make him a meal, or do these critters hunt and kill other fish?  <First, sorry to hear of your losses... this is a very traumatic experience... given your study and  preparation... Yes, it would have been better to wait on the fish... and yes, I would have excluded Brittle Stars (and the Abalone) from clean-up crew choices here (the former are indeed opportunistic fish eaters/predators, and the latter rarely lives in tropical systems...). But the real issue/cause of trouble here are likely the fish (Opistognathus aurifrons)... the ones out of the places of collection in the north of the tropical West Atlantic have been notably poor in quality the last few years... Those from further south (to mention Brazil) and tank-raised/reared specimens are far hardier... Please do wait a couple of weeks, perhaps remove the Brittle Star (well may call for extracting the LR, digging through the sand/aragonite...) and try again with better specimens... Oh, and please add to your reading/studying (even enjoyment) sources in the pet-fish realm, the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> May seem a stupid question, but I want to know before I spend any more time and money.  <No such thing as a stupid question asked in earnest> I don't have a reef set-up, and don't intend to have any anemones, corals, or such, just fish, live rock, and inverts such as would be included in a cleanup crew. But is this the wrong crew for my tank? Sorry for such a long email, I know you are a busy man.  <Every one has the same amount of time...> But I also know you are a very experienced and wise man, and would love to hear your input. Thanks so  much in advance. Melody Lewis, McDonough, Georgia <Thank you for writing. You are welcome to forward my comments to the supplier of your livestock and request credit/replacement for your Jawfish, the Brittle Star and Abalone. Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Question about a possible pair of Pearly Jawfish Hi Bob, <Actually, you have reached Steven Pro. Anthony Calfo and I are helping Bob answer some of the daily questions.> You don't know me but I'm one of your biggest fans. Your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, was the first in my marine library and allowed me to get off to a good start in this hobby. I've ready your page on Jawfish at www.wetwebmedia.com as well - thanks for that information! I have a bit of a puzzle and I figure you're the man to help me decide what is the best thing to do for the animals involved. I have a 5 month old 120g reef tank set up that is doing quite well with many stony corals and the following fish (placed in the tank in this order): 1 royal Gramma about 3" 2 Ocellaris clownfish about 2" 1 yellow tang about 3.5" 1 Sixline wrasse about 1" (coming soon hopefully - 1 flame angel) I have many pictures of my tank on a web site here if you would like to see the tank: www.sjwilson.net/reef My local fish store (a very good one) has what appear to be a pair of pearly Jawfish. These fish are about 3.5" and have been in the store a little over a month. They are assumed to be a pair because they have been sharing the same burrow since they have been there. <Probably a good assumption> They are in a 20g long tank by themselves. I would love to put them in my reef tank (4" sand bed) but I fear my Gramma would not tolerate them. She is the undisputed boss of the tank right now. <I would not be too worried about the Gramma as the Jawfish want to stake out a territory in the sand and the Gramma should have claimed an area around a nice hole in the rock.> At least until the tang grows up :-) <You are right about the yellow tang.> Anyway, I also fear that the Sixline wrasse could cause problems. He's very small and easy going now but I've heard they can troublesome. <Not to worry, fairly dissimilar fish.> I do have a 20g tall tank that I've been using as a quarantine tank and I've been considering setting it up for the Jawfish pair. I would put in a lot of sand, possibly up to 6" and keep them as the only fish in this tank hoping they might breed. <No matter where they end up, please do quarantine them.> I'd love to hear your opinion on my plan for the 20g tank as well as if you think it is possible that these Jawfish are indeed a pair. <If you indeed wish to attempt to breed them, the 20 is your best bet.> Susan Wilson

The Odd Couple? Odd problem (or maybe not): <Odd is good for me!> I've had a yellow-headed Jawfish in my 80G tank for over a month now. The aragonite sand is about 5" deep. I had laid out a slab of LR that has a nice notch in it a little more than an inch wide . The Jawfish made this the back of his burrow and has lived happily there since. Judging by the sand piles around it, he has excavated extensively. <There's no place like home!> I added a purple Firefish 2 days ago & it vanished. There are lots of hiding places in the tank. I couldn't find it with a flashlight and there was no way it could jump tank. Today I found the Firefish swimming normally a few inches above the Jawfish. It suddenly darted down past the Jawfish & vanished into the hole. It's been down there since & I assume it has decided to be the jawfish's roommate. (Perhaps this is temporary.) I see no obvious signs that the Jawfish is bothered by this. <Interesting...!> I am a little concerned though. Do you think that this is OK or will it be stressful for the Jawfish? I worry that the Firefish is sitting back there chewing on his tail. Should I intercede & evict the Firefish? Thanks, Steve. <Well, Steve, unless you're seeing the Jawfish in obvious distress, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think that if you intercede, you may cause more of a problem than you think that there is! Just enjoy the unusual behaviour...Only intercede if there is a serious problem. Enjoy! Regards, Scott F>

Mixing Jawfish? 3/24/03 I would be grateful for an opinion on Jawfish compatibility: <easy one... they are scary territorial> Can more than one Blue-Spotted Jawfish get along in and 80G tank? <probably... seek females (smaller head/jaw, buccal cavity)> How about one Blue-Spotted and one Yellow-Headed? <not recommended... but a very tight cover on the tank for all is... they are serious jumpers> More than one Yellow-Headed? <perhaps yes... 2... not more than 3 conspecifics. All need very deep substrates too. Some say 12" ideally. Most all say 6" minimum> What about Dusky Jawfish--can they be kept more than one to a tank? <indeed, not. Quite aggressive to each other.> Thanks! <best of luck... do try to purchase a pair/trio from the same tank/dealer for better chance of compatibility. Anthony>

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