This page contains all the tank events from 1 April 2006 to 30 June 2006.
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We took a trip to Aquatic Fanatics to get our Deltec MC500 protein skimmer repaired again. It suffers from occasional noise problems, the resolution of which seems to be to replace the rubbers, this time with Eheim ones which apparently don't shrink as much. Anyway, while we were there we bought a few more invertebrates for the tank.
First is a Blue Linckia starfish. It is about 10 cm across and the books say it is one of the more suitable varieties for aquarium keeping, though bizarrely they also say that its source of nutrition is unknown to biological science.
The second is a Flame Scallop with wonderful orange tentacles. We're told it has a neon flash that moves across its mouth which we look forward to seeing, provided it doesn't become too reclusive [we didn't see it, but see here for a later effort with Flame Scallop II]. It is a filter feeder, so we bought some Kent Marine ZooPlex zooplankton which we will feed it via tube and syringe.
Scallops can propel themselves by ejecting water through their rears, which this one did between the first photograph (on the left) and the second. It can move surprisingly large distances (many 10's of cm) very quickly indeed.
Just to prove how suddenly it can take off, here's a short video of it doing so.
The upper part of the pulse coral we saw travelling below is now doing well, though the bit that was left attached to the horizontal ledge has died off. So that you can see its complete journey with more depth than is allowed by pictures taken through the tank glass, here's what you might call a post-vizualisation done in anim8or, a shareware (free) animation package. The journey shown represents about 2 months in real time.
As an aside, the Green Star Coral, though spread out, has begun dying back. Not sure what the cause is - we thought possibly the warm weather, as the tank temperature is closer to 26 C than it has been for a while. We asked Andy at Aquatic Fanatics about it and he thought it wouldn't be the temperature (die-back only begins to occur at 29 C), it could possibly be not getting enough water flow across the coral, or may be due to low iodine levels.
At last, the pulse coral has broken in two. It has taken 28 days from the first moment it attached itself to the vertical rock face to when it let go of the half that insisted on remaining attached to the horizontal ledge. The bit attached to the horizontal ledge is sprouting arms as well, so we'll see how it does.
The travelling pulse coral is oh so close to splitting now and, though you can't quite see it in the photograph below, in the last few days it has begun putting out arms on the other end as well.
While we're at it, here's a picture (left) of the Zooanthids we got on a rock from the aquarium shop in October of last year: lots of new growth and some considerable movement up and to the left compared with the picture from January (right). They don't move as fast as the pulse coral but their travel mode is quite similar.
Speed-wise, the furthest distance moved is 4 cm. Five months is around 150 days or 3600 hours, so we make that 11 nano-kilometres per hour or just under 7 nano-miles per hour. The furthest distance moved by the pulse coral coral on the other hand is about 20 cm in four months, which is 70 nano-kilometres per hour or just under 45 nano-miles per hour: definitely the sprinter of the soft coral family.
While doing a water change tonight we noticed a worm in the sump tank. Believing worms to be baddies, we siphoned it out and captured it to take a photo. If we have identified it correctly, it's actually an Aquarium Fireworm which is a really beneficial scavenger. We put it back into the sump to let it continue the good work (though it was nibbled by Hannibella on the way down).
It is about 7 cm long (its rear-end is coiled-up in the picture below). Notice the three antennae and the pink feathery gills, each gill arranged above single hairs along the side of its body that are used as sort of legs.
Four days have passed and the pulse coral is still hanging on by a thread.
We've found the fragment of pulse coral that dropped into apparent oblivion earlier! It's safe and sound in the little rock arch below and to the left of the ledge it started on. We would have thought that the natural current in the tank would have taken it to the right rather than to the left. Clever thing.
The other interesting bit of pulse coral is the bit that remained on the ledge but decided to move back along it towards the rock wall. Here's how it has been able to cope with a 90 degree bend in the rock.
|22nd April: having moved backwards in the direction of the arrow, the pulse coral connects with the back wall but still has its tree-like arms out.|
|Five days later and it has closed-in all its arms to be just a bridge between the ledge and the wall.|
|A further thirteen days later and the connection with the ledge is about to break.|
|Because the picture above is so bad we took this picture through the Mesoscope showing that the pulse coral is about to put out its arms again.|
The Orange-spotted Goby has become more bold and is now excavating the front of the tank. It has made a new home for itself, quite deep and comfortable. Here it is sitting on the stoop. If you compare the colour of the coral sand in the inset picture with that from just five days ago you will see how white it has become as a result of his efforts in digging and cleaning.
The video below shows the amazing way it moves rocks with its mouth to create its home and then the more mundane activity of continually keeping the coral sand on the bottom of the tank clean. If you look carefully you can see that in the second case the cleaned coral sand exits backwards through the gills.
The Orange-spotted Goby has been at work, excavating a hole in the middle of the coral sand. Since the sand layer in our tank is only a few centimetres deep he's not been able to make a very satisfying hole but the hole is much larger than any of our previous Gobies have been able to excavate. He has dug down to the glass, thought this is not easy to see in the photograph.
We bought another Orange-spotted Goby today, a larger one (that has already performed a splooshing jump). We've stuffed filter gauze into the holes in the corners of the tank to prevent it leaping out. It is extremely active though.
We also purchased a little more soft coral in the form of a Finger Leather Coral or Pussy Coral.
Finally, we bought another Cleaner Shrimp to keep our remaining one company.
Feeding time arrived, but couldn't see the Regal Tang anywhere. Alice said it had been swimming around happily during the day, but on closer inspection we found it face-down in the tank. Some marks on its body but difficult to tell if these were incurred before or after the fact. Since it was so small and so recently introduced it's likely to be an original-health issue we think.
Also one of the Cleaner Shrimp pegged it today, but they've been around for some time so it may simply have been old age. We will go for a more mature Regal Tang next time and will replace the Cleaner Shrimp.
We heard a bit of a splooshing noise late last night. Took a look around the tank, no sign of water, dismissed it as one of the dishes moving in the pile in the kitchen sink or some such. Opened the top of the tank to feed the fish today and found, shrivelled up on top of the cover glass inside the tank, the body of the Orange-spotted Goby. Since the covers were all closed the only way it could possibly have got there is by jumping through the very few square centimetres of gap where the feed hose goes into the tank. Just bizarre.
We've had a bit of a splurge. First we've bought a Rust Angelfish. Lovely bright blue colours, and it appears to like being cleaned by the Cleaner Shrimp.
Then we've bought a teeny tiny baby Regal Tang, not more than 2 cm long, to add blueness back to the tank.
Then finally we've found another Orange-spotted Goby.
It's begun cleaning the coral sand already.
Also bought two more turbo-snails to make up numbers as we've lost a few to the Cleaner Shrimps recently.
We've had a few calls from Aquacure telling us that they think we need to change the carbon filters on our water filter (now 6 months old). To be sure about this, we've bought a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter from Atlantis Aquatics (around £48). This says we've got 20 ppm total dissolved solids in the RO water. Tap water for comparison shows 120 ppm. A Google search suggests that the input purity level is already good and that we should get 90%-95% rejection in the RO filter (15 to 30 ppm output), so while the quality of the RO unit may have degraded, the purity of the output is still OK. We'll monitor it and if it goes up to 30 ppm we'll do a change.
We bought some insulin syringes from the chemist this weekend, mixed up some very concentrated Kalkwasser mixture (one level teaspoon in two level teaspoons of water) and injected the three Aiptasia or Glass anemones in our tank with it. Seemed to shrivel them up good. We'll wait to see if it has a permanent effect. Certainly there was no fall-out from the injection: other very close-by tube-worms and starfish were not affected as the highly concentrated Kalkwasser just sat in the hollow where the Aiptasias grew.
This appears to be an unfortunate side-effect of Hannibella being annexed to the sump tank. Ever since she moved out, the Yellow-tailed Blue has shown patches of lost colour, something he rarely did when she was around. Hannibella definitely used to chase the Yellow-tailed Blue, and both are Damsel fish so you would have thought the competitive pressure would be even greater but, given the record of deaths in the tank, the species connection coupled with the clearly dominant position Hannibella occupied must have somehow protected the Yellow-tailed Blue. We found its body, pale white where it had previously been blue (but still with a yellow tail), in the middle of a huddle of Hermit Crabs. We just hope that the new occupants of the tank don't include a killer amongst their number.
The pulse coral has been splitting and spreading around the tank pretty fast in the last 10 weeks.
Also one of the original segments, which hasn't looked particularly happy recently (notice how the hands aren't very open), now has a weird set of nodules on the side. Could they be buds for some new hands?
Within 24 hours this segment disappeared entirely. The foot that attached it to the rock was getting quite long, so it must have decided that floating away to some new niche was the best option. This is the opposite decision to that taken by the segment on the upper side of the rock, which has moved back towards the main rock face. We can't see the dropped-off segment anywhere at all but hope that it will appear in good time.