Saltwater

HARLEQUIN SHRIMP

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Looking for something unique to add to your saltwater reef aquarium?  Or maybe you have an abundance of little white nuisance sea stars (Asterina) taking over your reef?  Then maybe what you need is a Harlequin Shrimp! These adorable little shrimp, Hymenocera picta, are native to the Indo-Pacific and get about three to four inches in length.  Their body is a white-ish gray color, covered in pink-ish purple abstract spots.  Their defensive claws are clownishly enlarged and circular in shape.  Their second set of claws act more like a tongue, with which they rub together as if tasting their surroundings.  They have five pairs of legs, the first two pairs act as feeding tools.  The first pair of legs is more like tiny feeding claws, allowing them to pick up chunks of their favorite meal.  The second pair of legs moves the food to the very small mouth opening just below the eye stalks.  The back three leg pairs are just for walking. Their antennas are very lob-like, with light orange or tan speckles. harlequinanatomy

The Harlequin Shrimp’s main diet is sea stars.  They do not have any other preferences, but they are not picky at what species of sea star.  Most people will feed them either the Asterina Stars or the Chocolate Chip Star, mainly due to cost.  For the most part they will start with eating the tube feet of the star, then work their way up by eating the legs, to get to the gooey center or oral disc.  As with most invertebrates, how often you feed pertains to how fast they grow.

If you have a lot of pest sea stars, or just like how they look and don’t mind sacrificing sea stars to keep them alive, these creatures would be a great addition to your home reef aquarium!  Come by and see for yourself!

Sarah FirthMarch 24th 2015

Sarah 

 

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HELP US SUPPORT CAPTIVE BREEDERS!

In recent years, many fish, invertebrates, and corals have been successfully bred and raised in captivity.  What started as a limited selection of Xenia and a few inbred clownfish has expanded into a wide variety of tank raised livestock.  The benefits of purchasing these creatures far outweighs the additional costs.  First, by introducing captive bred animals, you avoid a majority of parasites and diseases that wild caught specimens can carry with them.  Second, captive raised livestock is mostly conducted in aquarium conditions.  This greatly improves the chances of success when introducing them to your home tank.

But the most important reason deals with sustainability.  By purchasing captive bred livestock, we help reduce pressure on natural populations of fish and invertebrates.

We here at Aqua Serene strongly support the continuing expansion of captive raised livestock.  In the future we hope to carry a wider variety of these animals.  In order to do so we need your help.  By purchasing captive bred livestock, you can help increase the awareness of other hobbyists.  The more captive bred fish and corals we sell, the more diversity we can expect in the future.  By making this market more viable, we help to reduce the stress on wild populations.

Thank you for your support!

 _____________________________________________________________ THE BENEFITS OF FEEDING LIVE COPEPODS TO YOUR REEF AQUARIUM

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Mandarin Dragonette, Seahorses, Pipefish, Reef Wrasses, Dwarf Angelfish. What do all of these marine fishes have in common? They all require live copepods to feed on as a major part of their daily diet. Sure, most of the mentioned above fishes can be kept in your home aquaria and be feed a steady diet of various frozen shrimp foods. But if you’re one of thousands who are hypnotized by the beauty of the Psychedelic or Spotted Mandarin Dragonette, then you have probably heard that they only eat live copepods that live among your live rock. They are not the only marine fish that eat these little crustaceans though, in the wild every reef fish does. So doesn’t that mean that anyone who has a reef aquarium at home provide this major dietary staple? YES!!! “Copepod” is a term used for a group of aquatic crustaceans that live in pretty much every aquatic environment. There are two classes; Pelagic and Benthic. Pelagic (meaning open ocean) copepods are free swimming and Benthic (meaning sea floor) copepods zip around the live rock and sandy bottoms. The Benthic copepods are feasted on by marine fishes like Dragonettes, Seahorses, and Wrasses. The Pelagic copepods are fed on by more actively swimming fishes (Tangs, Damsels, Angelfishes, etc.) and most coral species. Most people think buying a huge portion of copepods on the internet and having it shipped will save them time and money. But it is quite the opposite! When they arrive, more than likely half of them will be dead and what is left will only survive for maybe a couple weeks due to the appetite of your fish. Maybe in that time they will reproduce and lay eggs, but that also is not likely. The best way to provide a constant supply is to go to your local marine fish supply store and purchase small enough portions and do that every couple of weeks. Providing various species of copepods for your various marine fishes will insure a healthy reef habitat, and in the end will make you a very happy reef hobbyist!

Sarah FirthSeptember 26, 2014

Sarah

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KEEPING FISH TANKS COOL DURING THE SUMMER

Temperature is one of the most important parameters in an aquarium. During most of the year, aquarists are trying to keep their tanks warm enough for their fish. In the summer, however, many houses in our area become very warm. Here are some tips to keep your tank cool, even during the hottest days. First, check to make sure all your equipment is running properly, especially heaters. A malfunctioning heater may not be a problem in the winter, when a tank is consistently cold, but in the summer it can cause a huge problem. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water. In addition, fish’s metabolism speeds up as water temperature rises. This combination makes a hot aquarium a very dangerous place for a fish. By checking your heater and using an accurate thermometer, you can avoid a lot of issues. Another area to focus on is your lighting. Some lights, especially metal halides, produce a lot of heat. If that heat is not removed from the top of the tank it can build up and really warm things up. This is where fans come in very handy. Whether using a small computer fan or lager oscillating fan, be sure that you are setting it up in a safe manner. Creating air circulation over your aquarium can cool things down dramatically. Adjusting your light cycle can also be helpful. By running the lights a few hours less the tank will not heat as much.  Raising the light higher over the aquarium can also reduce heat buildup. Using fans and raising your lights can reduce temperatures greatly. If your aquarium is covered with a glass canopy, removing it during the summer will increase evaporation, thus helping to keep it cool. If you have fish that jump, you can purchase egg crate to keep the fish in and let the hot air out. Another factor to consider is the temperature of the room the tank is in. If the temperature in the room is hotter than the aquarium the tank will surely get warmer. By regulating the room temperature, you can greatly improve the temperature of the tank. This can be accomplished by shading the room during the day and opening windows at night. Keeping the room cool will keep the tank cool. In some cases, all these steps fail to cool an aquarium. This is where chillers come into play. There are many chillers on the market that keep tanks cool. Although expensive, they are a sure way to maintain proper temperatures even during the hottest summer. In summary, taking steps to reduce the heat in your aquarium can make a huge difference in the summer. Checking equipment, removing glass canopies, increasing ventilation, and keeping rooms cool will help keep temperatures down in your aquarium.

Paul_1368x1824

July 25, 2014

Paul

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KEEPING MANGROVES IN REEF AQUARIA

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 About three years ago, I took a vacation down to Florida. While I was there, I was able to do a day kayak trip through the beautiful Mangrove Forests off the coast. As I was weaving my way through the gigantic roots, the scene sparked an interest. I was then captivated by the idea of replicating the large overgrown root-look in an aquarium. After my trip, I went home and started my research. What I discovered was not surprising at all; reef hobbyist had already tackled my idea and perfected it! Which made my searching easier, but there is still quite a bit of conflicting information. So finding the best way to grow Mangroves in a home aquarium became my new project. Before I go into how to grow them in your aquarium, let’s start with basic Mangrove ecology.

Mangroves are characterized as halophytic (salt loving) trees and grow in brackish to saline tidal zones. This area is also known as an Estuary zone; where fresh river water merges with the salty ocean water. The roots grow in low-oxygen soil, where slow moving water allows for sediment to accumulate. Between the ocean tides and the river run off, the water and soil throughout the swamp is very tannin heavy and nutrient rich. The large root system cause the water current to slow and provide optimal shelter for many different creatures; i.e. crabs, fish, snails, and even Manatees. Mangroves only grow in tropical or sub-tropical latitudes, mainly because they cannot handle freezing temperatures. But because they grow on the coast with quite a bit of wind from the ocean, they cannot deal with extreme high temperatures.

To successfully grow Mangroves in your saltwater aquarium, they need pretty specific conditions. Obviously the aquarium needs to be open top, to provide plenty of space for the tree to grow. They are slow growing, so don’t expect it to be growing out of your house in a year. The soil that is most recommended is refugium mud by Caribsea. You want to give a nice thick, about three to four inches, of substrate for it to root into. I would suggest doing a thick layer of the refugium mud then a thin layer of fine reef sand. Filtration isn’t a huge necessity for the tree, but if you are growing a Mangrove in an existing aquarium with fish and coral you will obviously have one. If you do have a filter, just make sure there isn’t too much flow.

When it comes to lighting, you want full spectrum. So that means all of the different color wavelengths, simulating what the sun would provide. But you don’t want too much light; so metal halides are not recommended, not only because they are bright but also for the fact that they get really hot. I would either recommend a ceiling mounted T5 fixture at 6,000 to 10,000 Kelvin or ceiling mounted LEDs. I would go T5s over LEDs, mainly because they are better at providing full spectrum light. They do get a little warm, but with it being ceiling mounted the Mangroves will have plenty of distance between them and the light. With LEDs, you want to find full spectrum ones and that can be kind of costly. But they produce very little heat and consume very little energy as well.

Now we should go into how to buy a Mangrove. The best way to purchase a Mangrove and have the most success in growing one is to buy a propagule not a seed. A propagule is going to have a few leaves sprouting out the top and should have a good start on the root growth. This will provide you with a good basis to start with and you should see growth rather quickly. Also when purchasing a Mangrove propagule, try to determine the salinity of the aquarium water from which you are removing it from and then adjust your home salinity accordingly. That way you don’t cause what is called osmotic shock from the difference in salinity. When that happens the propagule takes on a wrinkly appearance after about two to three weeks, then dies.

There are conflicting stories online regarding the benefits of growing Mangroves in an aquarium. There have been a few studies done on if they reduce Nitrates and Phosphates in the water. Have a knowledge of how most plants work, I believe they do. But most people grow them in their aquariums for aesthetic reasons.

The main reason why I wrote this blog is because I have two propagules here at Aqua Serene that are growing like crazy. If someone doesn’t buy them soon I am going to have to move them to our large reef tank. I wouldn’t really mind doing that, but once I do they will not be for sale any more. So come down and get them while they are hot!!

Sarah FirthJune 6, 2014

Sarah Ann

 

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ALGAE TROUBLESHOOTING

Whether you have a freshwater or saltwater aquarium, dealing with excessive algae growth can be very frustrating. Contrary to popular belief, using an algaecide is possibly the worst thing you could do to your aquarium. If you are dealing with an algae bloom, it is generally related to poor water quality and/or to much light. But I have run across many instances where customers are really on top of their water quality and still have problems battling algae. When you come into Aqua Serene and ask us how you can fix your algae problem, the things we will suggest are:

-           Cut back on the amount of food you are feeding

-          Reduce the total amount of hours your lights are on to eight to ten hours; and

-          Do a substantial water change. Reducing the amount of food you feed will reduce the amount of organic waste (i.e. un-eaten food and fish feces), which will eventually reduce your total amount of nitrogen waste (ammonia, ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate). Nitrogen wastes, in particular nitrates, fuel algae growth. By also reducing the total hours your lights are on will reduce the algae’s ability to photosynthesize and grow. Starting with these two suggests will only lower your algae growth over time. By doing a substantial water change, you will lower any high levels of nitrogen waste quicker by dilution. It will also allow you to manually remove any algae covered décor or rocks and really scrub your tank clean. But still try not to remove more than fifty percent of the aquarium water. You don’t want to stress any fish out or remove too much of the beneficial bacteria, that will cause you more problems than you want to deal with at once. If you want to be really cautious, instead of doing a large water change all at once, you can do a couple smaller water changes throughout the week. After we cover those first few subjects, we then will go over more specific solutions. What kind of lights are you running, LEDs or florescent? If you are running florescent lights, when was the last time you replaced the bulbs? After about six to nine months, the small amount of liquid mercury inside the bulb evaporates and causes a slight change in the bulbs light spectrum. This slight change can trigger an algae bloom, even if your water quality is in order. If, after all of this, you still have major algae problems, we might need to check into some other water parameters. Especially in saltwater aquariums, saltwater algae can be very persistent and tricky. I could go on for a long while trying to explain all of the different chemistry things that can occur, but I don’t want to confuse you. What is mentioned above is the basics. If you continue to have algae problems, give us a call or come in and talk! We are here to help!

Sarah FirthMarch 01, 2014

Sarah

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NANO REEF AQUARIUMS

nano reef aquarium

Not everyone has a large house, or the time and money, to maintain a large reef aquarium. The size of your space, or the depths of your pockets, should not prevent you from enjoying a piece of the ocean in your own home. A nano aquarium might be what you need to provide you enough of a window into a different world. Nano aquariums range in size from one gallon to twenty gallons. Most aquarium supply companies, like Marineland or Fluval, design nano aquariums that come fully equipped. All you have to add is substrate and water. Nowadays, just about all these setups are equipped with LED lights, which is a big selling point. But like with most lights, standard LED lights can only promote minimal growth for corals. You can also design your own nano aquarium with whatever bells and whistles you like, with the standard glass aquarium. Designing your own nano aquarium will sometimes raise the price line, but will allow you to modify to your needs a lot easier than the brand name kits. Just like with all aquariums, you have choices on what you decide to put in your nano tank. In my experience, the best way to stock a small tank is with no fish, just corals and invertebrates. Fish, even small ones, produce a sufficient amount of ammonia. With the amount of space being limited in your nano aquarium, removing the fish waste component will really help maintain a stable environment. Of course with a little bit more effort, you can also do a nano aquarium with a few smaller fish. Just make sure you keep an eye on your water quality. Since nano aquariums are small, evaporation can have a huge effect. Salt doesn’t evaporate; so when the water level goes down, make sure you add de-chlorinated freshwater. Also the water will evaporate quicker, making you add water more often and causing your water quality parameters to fluctuate. But you will notice as the years go by, this will slowly not be a problem anymore. The “take home message” here is to take your time. Just like with any aquarium, rushing to set it up with fish can cause a lot of problems, especially in a small environment like a nano aquarium. With our help, you will definitely be successful! So, come down to Aqua Serene and take a look at your options!

Sarah FirthJanuary 7, 2014

 Sarah

  ______________________________________________________________ SALTWATER MEXICAN TURBO SNAIL AT AQUA SERENE

Paul at Aqua Serene fish store  talks about these cool rock-like snails called Mexican Turbo Snails. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsLnvcBamMo The Turbo Snail is extremely popular among reef hobbyists, since it quickly eliminates large amounts of nuisance algae. Also known as the Turban or Top Shell Snail, Turbo fluctuosa has a thick, top- or turban-shaped shell with an irridescent interior. The Turbo Snail is native to the Gulf of California off the coast of Mexico.   ______________________________________________________________

KEEPING TANGS IN YOUR HOME AQUARIUM

IMG_3183 Tangs fall into the family Acanthuridae, which also includes Surgeonfishes and Unicornfishes. There are about 82 different known species in the Acanthuridae family; each varying in color, pattern, body shape, and region. The one feature that groups all of these fish together is their sharp caudal spines, also referred to as a scalpel, which is located at the base of the body and right before the tail. With a rapid side swipe of the tail, this spine will leave a nice gaping slash on the intended victim.

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In the wild, you will see these beautiful fishes in large schools, grazing on algae and zooplankton that exists around coral reefs. In a much smaller environment, like your home aquarium, Tangs have a tendency to be very territorial and a bit aggressive. So when adding them to your home aquarium, you should try to follow these rules: 1) If you have a large enough tank for multiple Tangs and want a large school of one species, you should try to introduce them all at the same time. 2) If you have one Tang already living in your aquarium and you want to add more, you should generally purchase Tangs with a different body shape than your existing one. For example; you have a Yellow Tang, it would not be a good idea to introduce a Purple Tang, Sailfin Tang, or Scopas Tang. But you could probably add a Pacific Blue Tang, Achilles Tang, or a Unicorn Tang. Now these two rules are not a sure thing. You should also take into account the size of all of the fishes; you generally want them to all be around the same size. That way no one gets singled out.

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Tangs are considered omnivores. They spend most of their days grazing on algae and detritus that accumulates on rocks, but they should also be provided some protein a couple times a week. I like Mysis Shrimp or Spiralina Brine Shrimp. Over the years, I’ve noticed that Tangs are very prone to getting external parasites. I would definitely recommend quarantining them upon purchase for at least a month before going into your main aquarium. Like most marine fish, Tangs can be a challenge. But they can definitely be the perfect addition to any home aquarium. Come by to Aqua Serene and check out our wide variety of species! You might find exactly what you are looking for!

Sarah FirthOctober 25, 2013

Sarah

 


TO QUARANTINE OR NOT TO QUARANTINE?

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Simply put: a stressed fish is a sick fish. By the time you see the marine fish in our store, they have been in a handful of poor quality and stressful situations. From being caught out of the ocean; trans-shipped across the country; held in heavily stocked tanks at wholesale warehouses; and then finally shipped overnight to us. Then, of course, it’s our job to make the transition to our tanks as stress-less as possible, so you take home a healthy fish. But that is not always guaranteed, which raises the question of the home quarantine tank. The point behind a home quarantine tank is to not introduce any new pathogens to your main aquarium. Essentially, you want to reduce the amount of stress on the new fish so that they can fight off any illness on their own and grow to be a healthy fish. To do that you need to provide a sterile and stress-free environment. The best way to do that is to setup a bare-bottom twenty gallon aquarium, which basically means no gravel or sand, with water and filters from your existing aquarium. You will want to run the quarantine tank for a couple weeks, allowing it to cycle before you add your new fish. You will also want to provide hiding places; the best ones are small chunks of PVC pipe. When you get your new fish home, you will want to acclimate them to your quarantine tank the same way you would into your aquarium. The length of time you want to keep the fish in your quarantine tank is about 90 days. That way you can really make sure they don’t come down with any parasites or diseases. If they do get sick within that first 90 days, you then treat them with any medications and once they are all well again, you will start the 90 days over. Essentially, you want them to be healthy for a full 90 days before you add them to your main aquarium. Of course there is always a chance that the fish get sick after you add them to your main aquarium. If that happens, move the fish back to the quarantine tank and start treatment. If your home aquarium is a reef aquarium, with corals and invertebrates, then it is also good to have a quarantine tank to treat any of your existing fish separately. Most anti-parasitic medications should not be used on reef systems, and the ones that can are not that effective. A quarantine tanks allows you to properly treat your sick fish without sacrificing your beautiful corals and invertebrates. So I say, To Quarantine. There are a lot of people out there that would strongly disagree with me. But from my experience, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We, here at Aqua Serene, have all you need to setup a home quarantine tank. Come in and we will help you set one up!

Sarah FirthAugust 27, 2013

Sarah


SEAHORSES (Hippocampus species)

seahorses

First rule of keeping Seahorses in your home aquarium is; DO NOT buy them on a whim. Seahorses are not for the beginner aquarium hobbyist and are THE toughest marine fish to care for! If you have your heart set on one day owning Seahorses, here a few things you should know before buying one. There are over thirty different species of Seahorses living throughout the wild and captivity. They range in sizes of less than an inch, all the way to a foot long and just about every color of the rainbow. Depending on which species of Seahorse you decide on, a 20 to 40 gallon aquarium would be best. Nothing too big, but still allows room for healthy growth. Because of their peculiar body shape and lack of big strong fins, they are not the strongest swimmers. They spend most of their days in the wild holding on to sea grasses and stay far away from the sloshing of the tidal zone. In your home aquarium, you might have to remove a few powerheads and adjust the flow of your filter to get that nice gentle flow. Compared to other saltwater fishes, Seahorses are not the hardiest when it comes to water quality fluctuations. It may take a few months of water changes, good quality live rock, and a healthy amount of beneficial bacteria in your home aquarium before it is ready for a Seahorse. A good filter system is also very beneficial; like a canister filter or sump system, not a hang-on-back filter. The hardest part about caring for a Seahorse is getting them to eat. In the wild, Seahorses eat small crustaceans like mysis shrimp and copepods. In captivity, feeding frozen versions of these is the cheapest thing to do. But it is really hard to convince the Seahorses to eat it, especially if they are wild caught. You can get live mysis shrimp off the internet, but it costs a pretty penny to keep the amount they need. Seahorses don’t have a stomach and digest their food really fast. So they need to be fed quite often. (Which is also another reason why you need a mature amount of beneficial bacteria in your aquarium, so you don’t get an ammonia spike with all the feedings.) It is also not wise to keep Seahorses with most other fishes. They are “sit and wait” predators and don’t compete for food well. You can keep them with a goby or two; like Shrimp Gobies or Sleeper Gobies. But any other fish; like clownfish, tangs, or angelfish, are way too quick to the food. Seahorses are beautiful and unique creatures. But they take dedication and patience. If you do decide that you want to go down this hard road, please come to Paul and me here at Aqua Serene! We will work with you and take you through every step of the way. 

Sarah FirthJune 23, 2013

Sarah


HOW TO ACCLIMATE YOUR NEW SALTWATER ANIMALS PROPERLY

saltwater aquarium

Whether or not you purchase your saltwater animals for a store near you or off the internet, knowing the right way to acclimate them to your aquarium is a very important step to having a successful saltwater aquarium. In general saltwater animals, whether its fish, corals, or invertebrates, need a slow and long time to acclimate to their new environment. The top three important water parameters to pay attention to are temperature, salinity, and pH. Temperature: Your aquarium water should be sitting around the 76°F to 82°F range. Of course if you live right around the corner from your aquarium supply store, the temperature in the bag is not going to fluctuate to drastically. But if you live a few hours away or order your livestock online, the water can either go too cold or too warm. The warmer the water equals less oxygen in the water. Salinity: If you have a fish only aquarium, with no corals or invertebrates, your salinity can be in the 24ppm to 32ppm (1.018 – 1.022 specific gravity) range. If you are doing just fish and invertebrates (crabs, snails, shrimp, etc.) then your salinity can be in the 28ppm to 30ppm (1.020 – 1.023 specific gravity) range. If you are doing corals then your salinity should be at around 30ppm to 34ppm (1.021- 1.026 specific gravity) range. pH: The pH of most saltwater aquariums range between 8.2ppm to 8.6ppm. Corals really like their pH to be at the higher end (around 8.5ppm – 8.6ppm). But for most other aquariums without corals, you can shoot for somewhere in the middle (8.4ppm is a good spot).  As your animals are on their way to their new home, they are stressing and creating Ammonia. High levels of Ammonia lower the pH in the bag. Testing the pH of the bag water will help determine how long you should acclimate for. Acclimation: The most effective way to acclimate your new additions to your aquarium; whether its fish, corals, or invertebrates, is the “drip method”. You take a five gallon bucket (or a large Tupperware container; the deeper the better) and empty the whole bag into it, including the new critter. Set the bucket next to your aquarium. Then take a long piece of airline tubing with a gang valve (a valve that allows you to control the amount of water going through the tube) and create a siphon from your tank into the five gallon bucket. Adjust the gang valve to a slow trickle and let that sit for approximately one to two hours or until the amount of “new” water is two to three times the amount of bag water. Another way of acclimating is the “measuring cup method”. It starts out the same way as the one above with the five gallon bucket and the whole bag emptied inside it. Then at about every 15 minutes or so, take a ½ cup of water from the bucket and dump it. Then add back ½ cup of your aquarium water to the bucket. Do this over an hour period. What that is essentially doing is a 100% water change.

After either one of the methods is done, gently scoop the new critter out of the bucket with a net and add them to your aquarium! Both of these methods with help ensure that your new addition will make it through the night in its new home! The slower you take to acclimate them, the better chance they have! Good luck!

Sarah FirthJune 23, 2013

Sarah


SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS YOUR REEF AQUARIUM

Balicasag Island clown fish family

Symbiosis Definition: A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.

The most common symbiotic relationship people think of is the Clownfish and the Anemone. A pair of Clownfish will take residence in an anemone for the purpose of protection. All anemones have powerful stinging nematocysts that will inject toxin into its prey or predator and paralyze it. Clownfish use that to their advantage. How do the Clownfish not get stung, you ask? Well, the Clownfish will produce this thick slim layer between their scales and the outside world. Then the Clownfish will constantly brush up against the tentacles of the anemone to become immune to the sting. In this case just the Clownfish benefits, and the anemone doesn’t really get anything out of it, except maybe some leftover food from time to time.

Another really common symbiotic relationship involves the Cleaner Shrimp. Cleaner Shrimp will basically setup “cleaning stations”, where other fish can come along and get cleaned. What the Cleaner Shrimp does is nibble off any eternal parasites or bacteria it comes across on the fishes scales. This time both species benefits from the relationship.

One symbiotic relationship that a lot of people don’t realize happens is inside the body of corals. Inside each coral polyp lives a one-celled algae called zooxanthellae (zoo-zan-thel-y). This algae produces oxygen and other nutrients that the corals need to survive and in return the coral produces carbon dioxide for the algae. The other necessity the algae needs to survive is lots of sunlight to photosynthesis, which is why most corals grow so close to the surface of the water. Also, if you put the corals under a black/blue light you will see it turn florescent colors. This is actually the algae reflecting the light not the coral itself.

Now all of the examples I have given here are all good forms of symbiosis. Parasitism is another form and is not as pretty or as fun to talk about. There are thousands of different symbiotic relationships in the ocean, especially on reefs. Each reef is essentially a community, with each organism working with another to survive. You can recreate this in your saltwater aquariums at home. It takes a lot of research and lots of questions, but we here at Aqua Serene are more than happy to help you recreate your own  little piece of heaven.

Sarah Firth

May 18, 2013

Sarah


PAUL’S  WEEKLY PROFILE

Hi, my name is Paul and I’m the saltwater manager at Aqua Serene. I’m starting a weekly profile on various fish and invertebrates. With so many different organisms to choose from, it helps to have good information before making a purchase.

Before I start my weekly profiles, I’d like to get some input from our customers. If you have an idea, please email me at fishstore@aquaserene.com attention Paul, so I can include it in the upcoming weeks. Thanks!

April 20, 2013

Paul


BENEFITS OF WATER MOVEMENT

Water movement in the reef environment is both essential and pleasing to the eye. Corals depend on water movement for feeding purposes as they can only get food that comes within their reach. They also need circulating to aid in shedding mucus and waste material. Lack of circulation can result in corals remaining closed for inordinate lengths of time. Added benefits are such that fish waste, un-eaten food, and other debris can more readily be removed by your filtration system. Fish also seem to thrive better in a system with good water movement. They will often align themselves in the water flow to nab tidbits that pass by. What is suggested is a turbulent water flow. This can be accomplished by using circulation pumps aimed in a fashion that they oppose each other, or bouncing the flow off glass of the tank. This will probably involve some experimentation to arrive at the desired movements. You are just trying to simulate the ocean with all its irregular patterns that constantly change.

March 23, 2013

Kent


COMBATING AIPTASIA ANEMONES

Combating the aiptasia anemones can be frustrating but not a problem that cannot be overcome. At first sighting, these anemones are often thought of a bonus by beginning hobbyist. However they can quickly overtake an aquarium. Relative to their size, they can pack a dis-proportionate sting injuring surrounding desirable inhabitants. In a fish only system, they can be dealt with reasonably easy. Remove all decorations, rocks where they are growing and soak in hot freshwater for an hour. Clean all aspects of the filtration system such as tubing, intakes returns, etc. as these pest are capable of thriving in total darkness. Siphon any out of the substrate. Several products are readily available to chemically destroy them as well, but exercise caution to avoid harming other inhabitants.

In a reef/ coral system the anemones must be dealt with in a more individual basis. Not wanting to ill-effect corals, fish, etc., use a calcium additive, hot water, or lemon (acidic) juice in a hypodermic needle to individually inject each anemone. This is tedious at best, but desired results can be achieved with patience and persistence. The same careful and complete cleaning of the filter system is necessary.

January 12, 2013

Kent


WINTERIZING YOUR FISH TANK

This time of year, many people are preparing their yards and ponds for winter. Aquarists should also consider winterizing their aquariums. As temperatures fall, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your fish are safe.

First, it’s a good idea to check your heaters. In the summer, when temperatures are typically warmer in your house, heaters don’t need to run as often. Sometimes they don’t run at all if you have powerful lights on your aquarium. Make sure to test all your heaters.

Another thing to consider is power outages. Winter is the time of year when the Northwest is most likely to experience storms and blackouts. For those of us without backup generators, a simple battery operated air pump can save the day. These pumps keep the water in the tank circulating. This alone could save your livestock.

The final thing to consider during a power failure is temperature. If the power is out for a long period of time, you should try to insulate the tank. A blanket is a good option, but the best is Styrofoam. By cutting panels of Styrofoam to fit the panels of the tank, you can retain the heat in the tank much longer than any blanket could.

With the changing seasons, it’s a good idea to plan ahead to avoid issues related to colder weather.

November 10, 2012

Paul


BENEFICIAL GRAZING

Seeing a few tufts of long algae accumulating on rocks and decos? One of our many Rabbitfish may be just the help you are looking for. From the Fiji Foxface to the Double Barred Rabbitfish, we have a lot to choose from.

Not only are they beautiful fish, but when it comes to eating away those pesky clumps of hair algae, there aren’t many better suited for the job. Reef safe, good in groups (for a large tank), and almost always working- these awesome tank-mates are available today. Stop by and get some help with your tank’s spring clean-up.

March 31, 2012

Paul

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