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FAQs about Fish Behavior

Related Articles: Marine Fishes

Related FAQs:  Marine Fishes 1, Marine Fishes 2, & FAQs on Marine: Fish Identification, Fish Compatibility, Fish Selection, Fish Systems, Fish Feeding, Fish Disease, Fish Reproduction,

See also, the many other Behavioral FAQs files by organism, group in the Indices.

That fish followed Arya        5/20/15
<<Well, it looks like you all had fun with the fishes... Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: re: That fish followed Arya

h my goodness! I'm honestly not sure how I sent that to you! Haha so
sorry.
<No problem. Neale>
It was a good time.

orange shoulder tang dorsal fin; beh.       4/22/15
Hi guys,
<Mark>
I have an Orange Shoulder Tang that been with me for around 18 months and is close to 6" in length. It still has juvenile colors (but occasionally turns gray/blue at night).
<What they do at night... helps to hide from predators>

My question is about it's dorsal fin.
For as long as the fish has been with me, it's dorsal fin has always remained closed. The fish appears to be in good health otherwise, very active, feeding well, no signs of parasites or other illness and growing well. Is this just a random occurrence or something with which I should be concerned?
<Not a problem. The opposite of freshwater, marine fishes keep their dorsal and anal fins mostly closed... whereas freshwater keep them raised... Your Acanthurus would have its fins spread more if it were in a bigger system, one with more circulation>
Many thanks,
Mark
<As many welcomes. Bob Fenner>

confused... SW Fish beh.   8/21/09
Good morning !
<And you>
? I'm writing because I'm confused with almost everything that's going on with my tank. First of all, I have a clarkii clown that is hosting a CONDY anemone, which everyone I've spoken with has never ever heard of any clown
hosting a Condy.
<Can/does happen... not in the wild of course>
And yes, it is a Condy, no a long tent. was wondering if you've ever heard of this? My other clarkii is hosting a carpet anemone,
<Actually vice versa>
which isn't shocking at all. My second question; why in the world does my sergeant major damsel clean my yellow tang?
<Happens as well>
I've never ever heard of this before either. And lastly, I have a lawnmower blenny that eats any shrimp or pretty much anything I put in the tank, including other fish that fits in his mouth ?
<Yes>
It's like I read and study on everything, and everything does the complete opposite in my tank.
Thanks a bunch, Angel
<Welcome to the world! Bob Fenner>

Marine animal life expectancy 5/12/09
Do you know of a text or website that provides information on life expectancies for various marine animals? Obviously, the more inclusive the better. I do understand that with many animals we do not know how
old the animal may be when it comes to our care, but the only info I have been able to find is bits and pieces you have to hunt for, and much of it is on the on-line retail sites so it's reliability must be questioned.
<Mmm, as with humans, environment, diet, etc will have much to do with life expectancy of marine animals and life expectancy would be difficult to determine in that regard. Likely, the most information on fish can be obtained at www.fishbase.org. For invertebrates I will ask the crew for their input.>
Thanks.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Mark Simon, VP
Living Marine Art

SW: System: Use of Dither Fish 4/23/2009
Hi Crew,
<Hi Samuel>
Just wanted to share something. Over time when reading about fish I have come across the comment that
a particular fish tends to stay in the open and thus causes you other fish to come out of hiding.
<Yes, dither fish. They convince the other fish that it is safe to come out. (i.e. There are no predators around.)>
I never paid much attention to that.
My wife generally comments that she hardly sees any fish even though my tank is overstocked.
<Not too overstocked I hope, what is in the tank?>
Recently I was buying something and the store and they just got in a batch of baby Percula Clowns. So I bought one even though it does not fit my current group but I figured that at least my wife would now have something to look at.
<Not the best selection method for purchasing a fish.>
Since he did not attempt to go into the rock there was no aggression from the old timers. He just fluttered around up and down back and forth out in the open.
Since then all my fish are out in the open. In fact my wife commented that now I have a lot of fish and maybe it is overcrowded.
<Thank you for your observations.>
<Mike>

Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) -- 01/26/09 Hi Guys, <<Hey Brian>> I have a 330g reef tank fairly well stocked with 70g sump, weekly 50-60g water changes, ozone, skimmer, Kalk reactor, 4 x 400w HQI MH 20k. <<Cool>> I maintain good water quality and stable conditions. I have noticed many of my fish have slightly lost the vibrant color they had when introduced to the tank, mostly: Lyretail anthias (the male and females), purple tang and Sailfin tang. The color is more faded on tangs, and on anthias the appearance of slight darker spots on them. My blue/green chromis, orange clownfish, and Pseudochromis still have very good color. I have been feeding: Bio-Pure mysis shrimp green seaweed <<Ah! This alone is not enough to adequately meet the nutritional requirements of your fishes and is very likely the reason for their loss of color vibrancy. Food additives can help (Selcon/Selco, Vita-Chem), but these often are abused or simply not provided due to the cost/hassle. Offering a wider selection of frozen foods would also be of benefit'¦but if you do nothing else, I VERY MUCH suggest you add New Life Spectrum pellets to your fish's diet. This pelleted food is very palatable and amazingly nutritious and wholesome. I have a 375g reef display housing five Tangs from four genera. Along with an assortment of frozen foods, I provide daily offerings of the Spectrum pellets and the colors of these and all the fishes are (admittedly'¦my opinion) spectacular>> I have recently switched to PE mysis due to higher protein content (although I am starting to wonder if they get higher simply due to less water mixed into cubes) and brown/green/red seaweeds. <<Still not enough>> Rarely do I use Vita-Chem and garlic additives. <<Okay>> I have also recently stopped using carbon due to suspected involvement w/ lateral-line on my tangs. <<Mmm'¦this will also likely be 'cured' with better nutrition>> I am wondering if this is likely a nutritional deficiency or what exactly is the cause? <<Very much an environmental issue'¦and in this case a lack of adequate nutrition, I do believe>> Thanks a lot as always! <<Happy to assist>> Best, Bryan <<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) -- 01/27/09 Thanks a lot! <<Quite welcome Brian>> What's your opinion on plankton cubes, brine, and bloodworms? Worthless and not beneficial? <<The Brine Shrimp is of questionable value, but both the Plankton and Blood Worms are of benefit>> I'll look for those pellets. <<Please do'¦ The Spectrum food will be of great benefit to the health, vigor, and color of your fishes>> Should I continue Vita-Chem and add Selcon also? <<These can also be of benefit (the Selcon more so than the Vita-Chem, in my opinion). I use both on an infrequent basis>> I always had read brine is useless except to entice feeding initially. <<Depends'¦ Adult Brine Shrimp are mostly water with little nutritional value, but if 'gut loaded' before feeding if live, or freezing by the food manufacturer, they can be of some value. Even so, I don't think they should ever be the primary food source. Regards, EricR>>

R2: Fishes Losing Color (Inadequate Nutrition) - 01/27/09 BTW I failed to mention I feed a mix of Formula One, Two, and Reef Blend w/ an automatic feeder 4 times a day. Does this change anything? <<Mmm, no'¦ Our previous discussion on the color and condition of your fishes would seem to indicate it is still not enough/is not 'doing the job.' Make sure the fish are eating this offering'¦and that you are providing 'enough' of it. And I can't mention this enough, but if this were me, I would replace these with New Life Spectrum pellets in the auto-feeder. Cheers, EricR>>

Predator Life Span -09/02/08 Hello, I was just wondering about the life spans of the fish in my predator tank? Also, I don't know their current age so if you could determine that by my estimating their size, it would be greatly appreciated. -Snowflake Eel (20 in.) -Humu Picasso Trigger (5 in.) -3 stripe damsel (1.5 in) -Blueface Wrasse (6 in.) Thank you for your time. <Hmm, this is something you could/should research on your own. Though, I'd caution you to be discerning regarding some sources on the internet (I've seen some sites say that surgeon fish only live 2 to 3 years-- um, no, many can/do live for decades, even in captivity). It's difficult to estimate the age of fishes based on size because they grow at different rates depending on different factors in their environments. However, it's fairly safe to say that if a fish is only a fraction of its adult size, it's likely still a juvenile. As for lifespans, again, this is difficult to estimate for fish in captivity. Typically, larger, egg-laying fish tend to have longer lifespans, usually on the order of decades (though this is a generalization). Damsels likely don't live quite as long, I would think <10 years. Best, Sara M.> Re: Predator Life Span -09/02/08 Well, thank you for your time. I couldn't find much useful stuff online, <There does indeed seem to be a dearth of this particular kind of info for individual species (perhaps because it's not known for certain?).> but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough. <Not necessarily... specific species info does seem hard to find. Maybe BobF knows better where to look?> And as you said, it can be hard to say... Again, thank you for your time. <De nada,
Sara M.>

Do fish sense water? -08/22/08 Hey guys, love the site. Thanks for your patience when dealing with us. <our pleasure> I'm sure you have heard it all, but here is one for you. Yesterday my BTA died. It had been going through a period of seclusion under live rock and moving all over the walls of the tank. I knew something was up, and was trying to figure it out. When I next visited the aquarium, I noticed a flesh-colored slime floating in the water and accumulating on the filter intakes, powerhead, and wall near the surface. I located the BTA and it was "spitting" out a white cloudy substance every couple of seconds. <possibly a stress spawn?> The mouth was open (and didn't look like a mouth anymore), and looked like it had melted. <Hmm... this might have been the proper time to remove it.> For the next couple of hours I spent some time trying to figure out what happened, and what to do in order to make sure the rest of my tank didn't suffer (I read many WWM topics). After I went to bed, a storm rolled into the area. Right as I was about to fall asleep the power flickered. I thought nothing of it until I heard a rattling noise coming from my aquarium room. I got up and discovered that the filter was no longer functioning correctly. The power flicker had caused something to go wrong as the canister was no longer taking in or exhausting water. I spent another couple hours trying to figure this out, as now was not the time I needed my filter to go out (as if there is a good time for this). Finally, I had enough and went to bed. <Oh, not good...> The next day I got up early to try and solve the problem before work. When I went to the aquarium room, a small movement caught my eye. When disassembling the filter the night before, I had used a lid to a plastic container to catch the water. I left it on the floor, with about a ¼ inch of water, that I was going to clean up later. The movement I noticed was coming from this lid. Upon closer inspection, my ocellaris clownfish was flopping around in the lid. I couldn't believe it ? it had jumped. After rescuing the fish, I looked around the tank and found a trail of dried water from behind the tank all the way to the lid. <Hmm... from the splashing fish inside the lid I imagine.> All throughout this message, there are many opportunities for learning the hobby, as well as many places to explore for further education. I'm not writing for that. What I am really curious about, is if fish can sense water? <Can they sense water when they are outside of it? ...doubtful. I imagine this fish either just got really lucky, or, it jumped in a particular direction responding to your activity, such that it happened to land in the lid.> I didn't mention that with the way the lid was positioned on the floor, there would be about an inch lip for the fish to get over. <Uh, it seems HIGHLY unlikely that the fish knowingly or intentionally jumped into the lid after falling to the floor. I believe that it either fell into the lid and the water around the lid was just splashes made by the fish inside... or, it landed on the floor and just flopped around energetically enough that it got lucky and flipped itself into the lid. Either way, this was almost certainly just a lucky shot, not any "intelligent" action of the fish.> To me this is really amazing, and I am very happy that it found the water. <Not amazing to me... except for the "dumb luck" of the fish/you.> BTW - I was able to get the filter functioning before work. When I returned home the "diver" seemed to be back playing with ocellaris #2, so everything seems ok for now. <Ah, good... happy to hear it.> Thanks for your time, Tony <De nada, Sara M.

Questions Regarding a Rehab Project (Marine Tank Cycling) -- 08/23/08 First and foremost, what an amazing site you have here <<Thank you'¦quite the collective effort>> - it's quite popular on all the search engines; nearly every query leads me to your site which is loaded with great information. <<Ah yes, I too have noticed this>> While I have been searching and reading as much as I can, it is the obvious sick appearance of my urchin that has prompted me to write sooner, as opposed to later. <<Okay>> Please bear with me; I feel like I know some of the very basics, but certainly not enough to stop reading and learning. :) <<Hee-hee! Nor do I!>> Some background: I have little background in saltwater aquariums but ended up inheriting a 45 gallon salt water tank that was in need of serious rehab. The water was dark green, and I could barely see the animals inside, rocks were covered in green "carpet", especially hair algae. <<Does sound like a serious case of neglect>> It contained 1 lawnmower blenny, 2 clown fish, 1 black long-spined sea urchin (still trying to figure out exact species- see attached photo), <<I see it'¦some possibilities are Diadema antillarum and Diadema savignyi. Try a keyword search on those names (or even just on the common name 'black long-spined urchin) and see what you think. I do also want to mention that a 45g tank is a bit small for this animal. The urchin can easily reach the diameter of a soccer ball in size, and the tank really isn't large enough to house ample live rock for the urchin to graze upon. Also, if you plan to keep corals this genus is known to munch on them as well>> 5 crabs, 1 goby, 1 small star and a Tiger Cowry Snail. It also contained 50 pounds of live rock, and live sand. The person I got the tank from was using an effusium/infusium (did I spell that right?), <<Hmm'¦ 'Effusium' seems to have something to do with hair loss (as well as the nomenclature for animals and plants)'¦and 'infusium' seems to be a hair conditioner (Infusium 23). I think what you may have meant to say was 'refugium''¦see here and among the associated links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm >> which he swore was the best way to go, <<A valuable methodology/system component for sure>> but it broke while we were disassembling the tank cabinet. <<Mmm'¦perhaps you can employ another. Doing so would certainly add to the stability and long-term health/success of the system>>>> The first thing I did was test the tank's water and received the following numbers: Ammonia .25, <<This should be 'zero''¦and the tank's inhabitants should be moved to another system until it is>> Nitrite .25, <<Ditto here'¦ These last two are VERY toxic to your livestock. If these are accurate (do 'check the checker'), more than the urchin will be malaffected'¦and soon>> Nitrate 100, <<Much too high as well'¦it seems this tank is 'cycling''¦see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm >> pH 8.3, Spec Gravity 1.025, <<These are good>>>> KH 12.2, ALK 4.34. <<I think these are okay too'¦but for future reference please include the units of measurement (e.g. -- ppm, mEq/l, etc.) Temp 78. <<Also good>> I was torn between getting the animals in a healthier environment, and not shocking them by making huge environmental changes. <<Based on you water chemistry readings you should be executing large water changes to keep the nitrogenous compounds diluted'¦right now these are more harmful than any 'changes' will be>> I was told to not scrub the algae off the rocks, <<Not important at this stage'¦and possibly an ally at the moment re the high Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate readings>> so I just rinsed them with clean salt water, made with Oceanic Natural Sea Salt mix. <<This is fine, though I would use a better brand of salt mix. I find this brand too inconsistent between batches. I would like to encourage you to look to the Seachem line of products for salt, additives, test kits'¦excellent quality/value in my opinion>> We began using a protein skimmer. <<Excellent'¦and hopefully a quality design. For this tank I would highly recommend the AquaC Remora (hang-on style)'¦or the AquaC Urchin if you employ a sump>> I did a major water change, nearly half the tank, replaced the animals, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. <<Mmm, need to do more than 'wish' these problems away. Do keep up your research/reading and learn to 'know' what the right approach is. But as stated'¦the large water change(s) are definitely called for here>> Everyone seemed to make it through okay; we fed them once a day with either Cyclopeeze or granulated krill/shrimp mix and everyone seemed active and fine. I have been testing the water daily, and it has stayed in approximately the same range that it is now, after I changed the water the very first time: Ammonia .25, Nitrite .1, Nitrate 2, pH 8.0, spec. gravity 1.022. Temp 80. <<Do check your test kits for accuracy against another brand'¦if true, you need to move that livestock to a safer system, stat! You also need to keep the Salinity up and closer to NSW levels (1.025/1.026)>> I'm frustrated that I can't seem to raise the pH even after adding baking soda in increments as you have suggested in a previous post. <<The Sodium Bicarbonate won't (can't) raise the pH any more than this. Look to the Seachem buffer for this'¦though changing/choosing a better salt mix as suggested will likely help as well'¦along with proper preparation re. Start here and browse among the associated links for much info on water changes/water prep: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm >> I'm wondering what I'm missing here. <<Nothing I think'¦other than the urgent need to move the livestock to safe quarters and letting this tank cycle and stabilize, for now>> I was tempted to add some damsels to munch some of the excess hair algae, <<No!>> but was hesitant to add anything to a tank that is unstable. <<Indeed>> What prompted this email, is over the past two days, my urchin is losing his spines, and the more I read about it, the more grave it seems. <<Indeed'¦at the least the toxic environment is killing it, though I suspect other factors at play as well (starvation, lack of sufficient bio-mineral content of the water)'¦and it is likely beyond saving now. These animals decline very rapidly once they start to 'lose spines'>> First it was 2 spines lost, which I chalked up to "normal", <<A couple spines lost now and again is not of concern, agreed>> but this morning I woke up and found about 8 or 9 on the bottom of the tank. <<'¦and so it begins. A very bad sign>> There are two spines that appear to be still attached to the urchin that are almost white. <<This is not atypical>> I read about how urchins can lose spines when they are not getting enough to eat, so I fed him extra, and made sure that he "got some". <<The extra feedings/presence of these animals in this toxic system period, are only compounding the problem>> Then, I emailed you. The urchin seems to be active, moving around, etc'¦but the spine loss is scaring me. I'm wondering if I shocked him, and if so, why is this just showing up now? <<Not shocked'¦poisoned>> Is there anything I can do to help him? <<Move it'¦all livestock'¦to a safer system. Perhaps there is an LFS that will hold the livestock until your tank is ready to receive such again'¦or maybe a fellow hobbyist>> Is it too late? <<To be honest'¦for the urchin, I think so. But if you act quickly, who knows?>> All of the other animals appear to be fine; active and eating. <<Not fine my friend'¦they too are being poisoned>> He seems to be too, except he's losing spines. I would like to know more about the steps I need to take to improve the water quality, how to remove the tremendous amount of green algae from the rocks and what I can do (if anything) to save my urchin. <<All posted'¦and plenty of time to read/learn once you move your animals>> Today makes one week since I received this tank for rehab. <<Ah'¦then almost certainly the Nitrogen cycle was upset/restarted when the tan was moved. This will balance out again, but you must give it time'¦something your livestock doesn't have at the moment, in this system>> I'm still sifting through my books and online resources, and it can get overwhelming. Hope you can help point me in the right direction. <<I hope I have'¦ And again'¦I can't stress enough the importance of removing the livestock while this tank cycles>> Thanks, Ginger <<Happy to assist. Regards, EricR>>

Growth rate and max size of a few fish... Reading, the high/er cost of ignorance, marine fish stkg.   2/8/08 Hello, <Scott> I have a 75 gallon tank and am wondering how rapidly and to what maximum size a couple fish will reach. They are the Formosan Coris, Queen Angel and the Blue face Angel. <Uhh... each of these species will be mal-affected in its growth rate in this (small) size/volume system... the angels in particular with each other> My LFS that so far has been very good with recommendations and setup questions, assures me that they will grow very slow and will not outgrow my tank. <Actually... the more likely scenario is not quite so promising... the Holacanthus ciliaris will likely kill the other two... the Blueface dying first here> Also, in a fish only tank, how many fish of decent size could I safely put in? <You're not joking?> I currently have 2 Damsels, (Lemon and 3 Stripe), Royal Gramma, 2 False Perculas and a Purple Tang. Thanks for your advice. Scott <... please, follow directions if/when writing us. Use the search tool/indices... for the species you list... You need to. Bob Fenner>

Re: Growth rate and max size of a few fish I apologize, I have a disability with my vision due to diabetic retinopathy, which makes it next to impossible to read through the incredible amount of information the website has. I am new to the hobby, which I am sure you could figure that out and am trying to learn as much as I can without destroying my eyesight completely. Sorry to trouble you and thank you for your time. Scott <The loss of vision has been a continual issue with me my entire life (have greatly diminished use of one eye, congenital)... I encourage you to have a well-sighted friend help you by searching, reading for you. Cheers, Bob Fenner, who looks forward to better technology in coming years... for seeking out information for us, as well as human health>

QUESTIONNAIRE  2/4/08 Hi crew, and thanks to Bob for his recent advice re: Ich, Hypo, Copper, Moray, Formalin. Everything is back in the reef tank now and no sign of ich as yet (5 days later). I am tackling the HLLE that developed on my A. Lineatus while in QT with a 'super dooper enriched vitamin home made food' that cost me a small fortune in supplements from my local health shop! I'm sure I can see an improvement already - he's been munching on sponges, algae's and the like that have grown in my tank over this period as well. I'm feeling pretty positive at the moment! <Good> Only thing is that the sudden introduction of all these fish has caused a bacterial bloom and my water is cloudy. Should I leave this to sort itself out, or should I drag my old U.V. out of hibernation and employ that for a few days? <Up to you> I have filled in your questionnaire, <Thanks> Thanks very much, Simon, England Question #1: List the common and, if available, the scientific name each of the fish and/or invertebrates that have lived at least three years in your aquarium. (If more than three, choose the longest living three in your tank. Three years Niger Trigger (Odonus niger), Green Bubble Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) Four years Green Wolf Eel (Congrogadus subduscens) Five Years Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus) Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus Imperator) Volitans Lion (Pterois volitans) More than five 2 Clarkii Clowns (Amphiprion clarkii), Giant hermit crab (blue legged, species unknown) Question #2: Please indicate current water parameters for the following: Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 2 ppm PH (I'm having trouble measuring this. My test kit shows 8.1 (Salifert), my meter shows 8.8. I think that both are wrong, as when I calibrate the meter (it's a Hanna meter) it goes to 8.5 for a while then back up again. I still think that 8.5 is still too high as after calibration I test it with borax and it still reads high). Total Alkalinity 8.3 dKH Calcium 520 Question #3 Please fill in the following blanks: Tank Size 180gallon US Water Changing: Bi monthly (every other Saturday) Water Changing: 20 percent Finally one admittedly unrelated, but in the author's opinion, extremely important question that should be of interest to every aquarist who buys sea salt: Please indicate the nitrate content and brand of sea salt you use. (Use I/O water only and check 12 hours after mixed but prior to adding to tank. Also check I/O water for nitrates first. Only if zero nitrates are indicated should you continue with this test) Product: Gro-tech Coralmarine Reef salt Nitrate Level After Mixing Salt w/R/O water Nitrate - 0 Phosphate - 0.03 (trace) Etc.... <Again, thank you, BobF>

Survey 1-22-08 Question #1: List the common and, if available, the scientific name each of the fish and/or invertebrates that have lived at least three years in your aquarium. (If more than three, choose the longest living three in your tank. I started about 5 years ago. It took a few months of failing then finding WWM to get things right. Four years Spotted cardinal- Sphaeramia nematoptera Green Clown Goby Gobiodon atrangulatus Question #2: Please indicate current water parameters for the following: PH 8.2 (field 16) <Thanks for the input Sam. Bob Fenner> Survey  01/22/2008 Question #1: List the common and, if available, the scientific name each of the fish and/or invertebrates that have lived at least three years in your aquarium. (If more than three, choose the longest living three in your tank. 3 years-Blue Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) Pink Skunk Clownfish (Amphiprion perideraion) Acanthastrea Echinata 4 years-Banded Coral Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) 5 years-Candy Cane Coral (Caulastrea furcata) Green Mushroom Coral/Anemone (Rhodactis sp.) Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) Question #2: Please indicate current water parameters for the following: Ammonia-0 ppm Nitrite-0 ppm Nitrate-Unknown PH-8.0 Total Alkalinity-8.0 dKH Calcium-430 ppm Question #3 Please fill in the following blanks: Tank Size-125 gallon tank with 30 gallon sump half full Water Changing: Slightly more than bi-monthly Water Changing: 10-20 percent Finally one admittedly unrelated, but in the author's opinion, extremely important question that should be of interest to every aquarist who buys sea salt: Please indicate the nitrate content and brand of sea salt you use. Red Sea Coral Pro used with DI only water-not sure about nitrates of mix P.S.-I apologize in advance if I've filled out this survey incorrectly or submitted it to the incorrect email address. Wasn't quite 100% sure how to do it. Thanks though-these surveys are so important and MANY, MANY more should be done. Thanks so much. <Thank you for your participation/input. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fall 2007 Sea Scope Article... now marine livestock longevity   1/1/08 Thanks for the suggestion. It seemed to me he was describing an on-going process rather than an isolated phenomena, but either way, I will pursue further reading on the subject and read Hovanec. <Ah, good> Also, a suggestion: I find there to be very little info. on the longevity (real life) of various marine species in salt-water aquariums. I wonder if you would consider adding a brief survey to your website on this issue. <You pen it, I'll place it! And make a folder, links to archive input> I realize the vast disparities in equipment and upkeep make the effort less scientific, but if, say, basic parameters were asked for in the survey, it might improve the value of responses. I also think most readers who fill out the survey probably could be considered serious hobbyists. <Good points... there are some hard data re for public institutions, but much of this is not published, and/or very hard to find> Since there is no possible way the aquarium industry will ever produce such data, perhaps you can do this as a service to both hobbyists and fish. Just a thought. Thanks for all your information and commitment, it is genuinely appreciated. <Thank you for your input, participation. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fall 2007 Sea Scope Article 1/12/2008 <<Yes... it's back: http://www.instantocean.com/sites/InstantOcean/knowledge/newsletter.aspx?id=1298> Mr. Fenner: I've attached a first draft of the survey I'm suggesting. If you like the basic idea, feel free to make any changes/additions you wish. I think given the large viewership of sophisticated marine aquarists that you have, the survey results would be of genuine interest throughout the hobby. I tried to make it as simple as possible for people to fill out in the hope that it will increase participation. <Looks good Eric> On the last question, I took your suggestion and went to the FAQ you suggested. I found not a single mention of the nitrate specific issue. Moreover, in taking a look at the most recent comprehensive analysis of the contents of sea salts, a study which examined over 30 different elements and compounds, nitrate was not included. <Such is our "science" presently> I find this either unbelievable or some sort of effort by the industry to suppress this information. Either way, I think the question needs to asked and answered. <Yes... a bit might be stated re the use/costs of making synthetics... the combination of metals/non-metals that are salts... the history of formulations, problems, mostly induced re...> Please take a look at it and let me know what you think. I love your web site and your book. Thanks! Eric Shulman <I will post today. Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fall 2007 Sea Scope Article 1/12/2008 Fabulous. Let me know if I can be of further assistance. BTW, in my own experimenting I found that Tropic Marin had almost no Nitrate. <Ah, yes... "real" salt mixes don't. Cheers, BobF>

Re: Fall 2007 Sea Scope Article... Marine fish/livestock longevity survey  - 1/17/08 Bob -- Where do things stand on the survey? Have you run into any problems? <Posted... but no responses thus far... Need to think of a way to display this a bit better. B> Re: Fall 2007 Sea Scope Article - 1/17/08 I'm inclined to agree as I couldn't find it either! Perhaps on the "Marine Aquarium Articles and FAQ's" page with a word or two from you asking for participation. <Will try...> That might boost participation! Thanks for your effort here. I am aware this is largely a 'labor of love' for you! Eric <Ah, yes... Cheers, BobF>

Livestock Longevity Survey: Please fill out and return to us via email for accrual.

Longevity Survey of Common Marine Fishes and Invertebrates 

            The primary purpose of this survey is to inform aquarists, aquarium stores and the aquarium industry in general of the likelihood of success in keeping common marine fish and invertebrates.   Although there is certainly a great deal of information available on this topic of a species specific nature based on extensive research and observation, there is virtually no empirical data gathered from a large group of those closest to the hobby, aquarists themselves. 

There is some attempt to insure uniformity of results by requiring information on tank size, water quality and maintenance habits, however, it is not possible to remove all variables.    As such, the survey should only be considered a guide to likely success in caring for a particular fish or invertebrate.  Readers should also factor in the overall number of survey respondents in considering its ultimate reliability.  The larger the participation rate, the more reliable the results.  

By definition, this survey should only be filled out by people who have maintained salt-water or reef aquariums for at least three years. 

Question #1: 

List the common and, if available, the scientific name each of the fish and/or invertebrates that have lived at least three years in your aquarium.  (If more than three, choose the longest living three in your tank. 

            Three years                  (field one)         (field five)         (field nine)

            Four years                    (field two)         (field six)          (field ten)

            Five Years                    (field three)       (field seven)      (field eleven)

            More than five (field four)        (field eight)       (field twelve)

 

Question #2: 

Please indicate current water parameters for the following: 

Ammonia                                  (field 13)

Nitrite                                       (field 14)

Nitrate                                      (field 15)

PH                                           (field 16)

Total Alkalinity             (field 17)

Calcium                                    (field 18) 

Question #3 

Please fill in the following blanks: 

Tank Size         20 -- 40            (field 19)

                        40-75               (field 21)

                        75-150             (field 22)

                        150-300           (field 23)

                        >300                (field 24) 

Water Changing:   Frequency 

Weekly            (field 25)

Bi-Monthly       (field 26)

Once Monthly  (field 27) 

Water Changing:   Volume 

10 percent        (field 28)

10-20 percent   (field 29)

20-30 percent   (field 30)

30-50 percent  (field 31)

>50 percent      (field 32) 

Finally one admittedly unrelated, but in the author's opinion, extremely important question that should be of interest to every aquarist who buys sea salt: 

Please indicate the nitrate content and brand of sea salt you use.    

(Use I/O water only and check 12 hours after mixed but prior to adding to tank.   Also check I/O water for nitrates first.   Only if zero nitrates are indicated should you continue with this test)

Product: 

Instant Ocean   (field 33) Tropic Marin    (field 34)

(Fill in other major brands) 

Nitrate Level After Mixing Salt w/R/O water 

Instant Ocean Tropic Marin

Etc'¦. We  may also want to ask about test kits, but since this is not intended to be a scientific survey I think we can forgo it and still get some very interesting and useful data.  (ES)

Survey 1/18/08 Hi Bob, I'm hoping this is the email address that you'd like these surveys sent to! Take care, -Lynn <Thank you Lynn! BobF> Longevity Survey of Common Marine Fishes and Invertebrates The primary purpose of this survey is to inform aquarists, aquarium stores and the aquarium industry in general of the likelihood of success in keeping common marine fish and invertebrates. Although there is certainly a great deal of information available on this topic of a species specific nature based on extensive research and observation, there is virtually no empirical data gathered from a large group of those closest to the hobby, aquarists themselves. There is some attempt to insure uniformity of results by requiring information on tank size, water quality and maintenance habits, however, it is not possible to remove all variables. As such, the survey should only be considered a guide to likely success in caring for a particular fish or invertebrate. Readers should also factor in the overall number of survey respondents in considering its ultimate reliability. The larger the participation rate, the more reliable the results. By definition, this survey should only be filled out by people who have maintained salt-water or reef aquariums for at least three years. Question #1: List the common and, if available, the scientific name each of the fish and/or invertebrates that have lived at least three years in your aquarium. (If more than three, choose the longest living three in your tank. Three years Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora) Four years Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus) Five Years (field three) (field seven) (field eleven) More than five (field four) (field eight) (field twelve) Question #2: Please indicate current water parameters for the following: Ammonia -0- (field 13) Nitrite -0- (field 14) Nitrate -0- (field 15) PH 8.2 (field 16) Total Alkalinity 9.62 dKH (field 17) Calcium 365ppm (field 18) Question #3 Please fill in the following blanks: Tank Size 20 -- 40 one (30g) (field 19) 40-75 one (55g) (field 21) 75-150 one (75g) (field 22) 150-300 (field 23) >300 (field 24) Water Changing: Frequency Weekly (field 25) Bi-Monthly X (field 26) Once Monthly (field 27) Water Changing: Volume 10 percent (field 28) 10-20 percent X (each time) (field 29) 20-30 percent (field 30) 30-50 percent (field 31) >50 percent (field 32) Finally one admittedly unrelated, but in the author's opinion, extremely important question that should be of interest to every aquarist who buys sea salt: Please indicate the nitrate content and brand of sea salt you use. (Use I/O water only and check 12 hours after mixed but prior to adding to tank. Also check I/O water for nitrates first. Only if zero nitrates are indicated should you continue with this test) Product: Instant Ocean X (field 33) Tropic Marin (field 34) (Fill in other major brands) Nitrate Level After Mixing Salt w/R/O water Instant Ocean - Sorry, never checked this! I mix with RO/DI water so I know there aren't any nitrates in the water going in. Just assumed there wouldn't be any coming from the salt. It's supposed to be nitrate free, but I've never confirmed this. Tropic Marin Etc'¦. We may also want to ask about test kits, but since this is not intended to be a scientific survey I think we can forgo it and still get some very interesting and useful data. (ES) The test kits I use are Salifert (for everything - Iodine, phosphates, calcium, alk, pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates). I also use a refractometer for specific gravity.

Re: the survey 1/18/08 Hi there! <Howzit?> I just wanted to comment - I like the line across the FAQ's about the survey, and the link works. However, (and I don't think this is purely because I am a Mac User), I have tried 3 browsers - Safari, Firefox, and Opera - and in none of the browsers does the survey work properly. To give you an example, this is what I get: "Question #1: List the common and, if available, the scientific name each of the fish and/or invertebrates that have lived at least three years in your aquarium. (If more than three, choose the longest living three in your tank. Three years (field one) (field five) (field nine) Four years (field two) (field six) (field ten) Five Years (field three) (field seven) (field eleven) More than five (field four) (field eight) (field twelve)" Because of this, while I would like to answer the survey, I cannot do so...just thought I would respond as possible. Thanks for your tremendous site, Kerstin:-) <Arghh... Is the medium really the message? If so, I need a massage. Danke. BobF>

Survey 1/18/08 <Thank you for your input. BobF> 3 fish living apprx 4 years: Naso Tang Fridmani Pseudochromis Foxface Lo Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 40 -- has been this way for a couple years pH 8.2 Alkalinity 1.0245 Calcium unknown 75 gallon tank (240 gallon on order -- yeah!!!) Weekly 15% water Changes Have always used Instant Ocean (nitrate .10 after mix) Thanks Again for all you do'¦. Committed to Your Success, Scott Nicholson

Lifespan of aquarium fish Hello, I just found your site. Anyway, where can I find information about the lifespans of various saltwater aquarium fish.  <The most readily data here are posted (at times) by Public Aquariums. You can find links to many of them here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlinks.htm> I have or should say had a small brown Scopas tang for about 1 1/2 years. This morning I found it dead. Basically I would like this information just so I can tell if it is just old age or other problems. <Mmm, not old age... Zebrasoma Tangs have been kept in captivity for teens of years> I had it in a 50 gallon tank with 60 lbs of live rock. All of the water parameters are fine. Also in the tank are 2 small clownfish, a blue damsel and a yellow tailed wrasse. These fish are all fine and very active. The Brown Scopas has always been very active up until this morning. Thanx, Rod <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Rapid gill movements? REM...er, RGM: rapid gill movements? Hello guys, hope things are well.  <and to you the same with thanks> This is a quick one (I think/hope!). I've seen many warnings against improper gill movements, but a description of what that is hard to come by.  <each species is different... but 60/min is close for many> I agree that this along with other observations is a very good indicator of health, and I'd like to know where my fishes' breathing should be at. Right now, the fish I'm researching are the ones I own...one of each of Centropyge tibicen (4-inch) Pomacanthus semicirculatus (2 1/2-inch) Zebrasoma flavescens (4-inch) Ctenochaetus strigosus (5-inch) Pseudochromis diadema (2-inch) 2 Amphiprion frenatus (2-inch) Thanks for the input Matt <yes... a lazy and deliberate once per long second is "normal" for many fishes. Labored breath is fairly obvious and indicates impending infections of parasites in gills, low dissolved oxygen, etc. Best regards, Anthony>

Fish Lifespan How long can I expect my fish will live if the conditions I give them are good? Yellow tang? <Easily 10-15 years or more.> Blue devil and Yellow tail damsel? <Well over five years, perhaps as much as ten.> Boxing shrimp (red banded)? <I don't really know about this one. Easily over five years, but I don't know the maximum. What I can say, is just about any fish will live longer in captivity than in the wild, given appropriate care and conditions. In aquariums, they are free from disease and predation. The predation is the real killer. I remember seeing a study on Jawfish which showed they only lived about a year in the wild. They eventually get eaten. It is like this with many smaller fish. They are food for someone else.> Thank you, Carlos Díaz <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Life expectancy? >What are the life expectancies of salt water fish.  I have a regal tang, percula clown and a bi-color blenny in a 30 gallon tank.  Thanks. >>All species are different, but the fishes you've mentioned should live at least ten years, with the tang possibly having a lifespan of 20 years.  Marina

Aussies discover world's tiniest fish SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- They must have needed a really small hook, but Australian scientists say they've caught what they believe is the world's smallest and lightest fish.

In fact, researchers at Sydney's Australian Museum say the Stout Infant fish is so minuscule -- it would take a million of them to tip the scales at one kilogram -- they are seeking to have it listed as the world's smallest and lightest vertebrate.
The microscopic fish, first discovered by Australian scientists in 1979 but not classified until today, is formally identified as Schindleria brevipinguis. Males of the species are just seven millimetres long while females average 8.4 millimetres.
The world's current acknowledged smallest vertebrate is the dwarf goby fish. Males of that species reach 8.6 millimetres and females 8.9 millimetres.
The Stout infantfish, a wormlike thread with big -- comparatively speaking -- eyes but no teeth, scales or pigmentation, has only been found near one island off Australia's east coast.
It was listed as a new species in the Records of the Australian Museum, Volume 56 Number 2, published Wednesday after two American researchers, William Watson of the National Marine Fisheries in La Jolla, Calif., and H.J. Walker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, confirmed it was a separate species.

Fishies won't come out and play 1/20/07 I have a quick question for The Crew. <and I might have an answer for ya! Graham T. with you tonight.> I just bought a Foxface and Blue Spotted Puffer a week ago and they seem to be uncomfortable in the tank.   The puffer is a little better then the Foxface but they pretty much just hide in the back and come out every once in a while to eat (if I'm not standing by the tank). <Normal for the Foxface, and not a cause of concern for the puffer, either.> Does this mean they're not feeling healthy, therefore they don't feel strong enough to take on a challenge like "get used to humans"?  Or does it mean they are simply not social?  Appreciate the help!! <It means you may have to give them more time to acclimate to their surroundings. Consider what they've been through.> Jon <-Graham T.>

Behavioural Question, SW fishes    6/13/07 Hello Bob & Crew, <Mike> I have a question regarding the curious behaviour of the inhabitants of my aquarium. I read all the compatibility info on these species that I could, but nothing on "group behaviour" though. <Wouldn't it be great to have such...> Set-up: Three month old 72gal. Bowfront with 80lbs LR, 1-2" Reef Sand, Eheim Pro-ll Filter, Hang-on slightly oversized Skimmer, and now a new Maxi-Flo 1200 Powerhead. Thanks for that advice Bob. (I knew your name sounded familiar. Small world. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist was one of the first books I bought at start-up. Served me well, thank you) <Ah, welcome> Stock: Various Snails and Hermits, smooth Brittle Star, Conch, Feather Duster, Colt Coral, Blood Shrimp, Coral Beauty, 2 Percula Clowns and a Pixie Hawkfish. Water quality tests well weekly. PH 8.2, no sign of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, I'm slowly raising SG from 1.021 to 1.023 as per Bob's advice. I do have a little trouble keeping temp stable though. The heater keeps the temp up (mid 70's) and I occasionally have to use my home A/C to bring it down. (from low 80's) <Small vacillations, changes here should not be a problem in this good-sized volume> Here's the situation that I find odd. The Blood Shrimp set up shop at one end of the new (but cycled) tank in a crevice between two rocks with a nice view and a bit of beach in front. (Lucky Shrimp!) I noticed when I added the two young Clowns, they liked to "hang out" on the beach in front of the Shrimp's luxury accommodations. They might only take the occasional stroll up and down the beach. Then I added the young Coral Beauty and, sure enough, she likes to hover around in the same crevice above the shrimp when she's not cruising the length of the tank swimming in and out of all the tunnels. I just added my Hawkfish, and now he seems to want to hang around with the crowd at the same bottom corner of the tank when he's not rock climbing all over the tank. (Don't ask why the Coral Beauty is a "she" and the Hawk is a "he". It's either a mental thing or just lack of knowledge, or both) <You are to be congratulated for such self-awareness> Ok, it may not be a 210gal tank, but 72 gallons is looking huge the way these inhabitants are treating the available real estate. I don't understand. I did my research and built all the tunnels and hideouts to accommodate my stocking plan and now everyone seems to want to live at the same address. Trust me. The rest of the beach front properties are equally nice. I know. I built them. I do not limit feeding to this end of the tank, and there are no Sharks, Triggers or nets at the other end. Is it the draw of the Shrimp's "cleaning station"? <Likely to a large degree, yes... This Lysmata has probably "set the dynamic" here> He is only doing minor detail work on the Coral Beauty at present. I do have short bursts of tiny air bubbles intermittently coming out the filter output tube at the opposite top corner of the tank. Are they trying to keep away from this? <Perhaps> They certainly don't mind cruising the area. Where they congregate is right beside the entrance to the room they are in. Do they just want company? Ours; theirs? <Heeee! Hard to state... there could possibly be many factors at play... Would it not be neat to have several such systems? Or this one on a set of casters to rotate, move around... to investigate whether it's some aspect of ambient lighting, perhaps the dipole moment of our planet... That may be influential here?> I can not see anything inside or outside the tank at the other end that I can recognize as a problem (but I am not a fish). Again, they do cruise the area regularly. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with this. Frankly, it makes observation easy. But is it normal, or is it extremely unusual and should I be looking for something. <Maybe there is some sort of predator... perhaps a crustacean hitchhiker toward the other end...> Everyone seems to get along so far. Only one tiny Clown occasionally tries to play tough guy with the new, but larger, Hawkfish. This is just too funny to watch. It's half the size of the Hawk! Just wanted to check if there is anything to worry about here. (I'm sure you are accustomed to all novices worrying too much) Thank you for your time and any words of wisdom you may offer. Mike <Likely no worries... and the stock will "spread" out in time... Esp. with the Clowns growth... Bob Fenner>

Re: Behavioural Question -- 06/14/07 Hello Bob & Crew, Just a thank you note. No reply required. Funny, we had the same thought of being able to turn the "tank on casters" to test the attraction to that one end of the tank. <A friend who was studying fish physiology... orientation to polarized light... actually had a tank on a record player... to slowly rotate...> I will not be attempting this any time soon. <Heeee!> For what it's worth, I am very impressed with the crew's knowledge, patience and the level of service you are providing to baffled, head scratching, nervous mother aquarists of every skill level. <So am I!> I can only imagine how grateful the surviving fish are! <Ah yes my friend... Karma works in many ways... perhaps the antithesis of that "pay back" thing> I may not know anything about fish, but I do know a great deal about service and yours is excellent. My fish thank you. Mike <And we gladly accept them cosmically. BobF> I know certain fish can transition from freshwater, brackish, and saltwater.    5/11/07 Hello Crew, I hope everyone is having a good day. <So far, so good!> I know certain fish can transition from freshwater, brackish, and saltwater. <Indeed. Such fish are called "euryhaline fish" as opposed to "stenohaline fish" that are confined to freshwater or saltwater habitats their entire lives.> Does their food need to change also? <A good question. It depends upon on the fish. Certain fish live in one environment for part of their life cycle, and another environment the next part of the life cycle. In many cases, there are dietary changes along with these ecological changes. Atlantic Salmon for example live in freshwater as hatchlings and for the first few months of their life, feeding mostly on insect larvae. They then go to sea for a few years where they feed on crustaceans of various kinds and small fish. Once they reach a certain size they will migrate back into rivers to spawn, but during this spawning run they don't feed much, if at all. They then return to the sea and begin feeding again, in preparation for the spawning run the next year. Other fishes, like scats, simply eat whatever they find wherever they go. These fish move between freshwater and the sea all the time, and what they eat depends only on what they encounter. For the aquarist, one of the striking things about brackish water fish is their greediness. The problem is making sure you don't overfeed them and compromise water quality as a result. Some brackish water fish are predators, and need a primarily meaty diet, but most are omnivores and take a variety of foods including algae, plant matter, frozen foods, and pellets.> I know the salt levels change, but what other effects does it have on their bodies? <The change in salinity is the main thing euryhaline fish have to deal. So in freshwater a scat (for example) will be pumping out excess water while conserving salt, but doing the reverse when it is in the sea. Secondary issues will be differences in temperature (the sea varies more slowly than neighbouring rivers so may be cooler or warmer depending on the season), pH, hardness, and other aspects of water chemistry. Salt water also provides more buoyancy than freshwater, and euryhaline fish also need to adjust the amount of gas in the swim bladder to keep the same level of poise when swimming.> I am particularly interested in mollies. <The relationship between mollies and brackish water is complex. Mollies are naturally found in freshwater, brackish, and marine environments. But in aquaria they tend to do poorly in freshwater, being very prone to fungus, finrot, and the "shimmies". It is not 100% clear to me that they need brackish water, and some aquarists have suggested that it is the ambient level of nitrates that matter. In brackish water nitrate is less toxic than in freshwater, so the mollies will thrive even if the nitrate levels are quite high. It certainly seems to be the case that people who have luck keeping mollies in freshwater aquaria also keep the nitrates at very low (practically zero) levels. In ordinary community tanks where the nitrates are around 20-100 mg/l, mollies just don't do well.> Thank you,      Ann <Cheers, Neale>



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