From Reefhobbyst Magazine
I took a chance on a Live Aquaria Divers Den Juvie Regal Angel (Pygoplites diacanthus) about 2 months ago. As beautiful as this fish is, it ended up getting an appetite for some of my favorite SPS corals as well as a voracious appetite for my growing Zoanthid collection, so it’s got to go. Easier said than done right?
Catching a fish in a fully stocked, mature reef tank is often a hassle.A net is not going to work because there is too much coral growth in the way. Trying to remove the fish while it’s sleeping is not going to work (unless you are very lucky) because sleeping spots are so numerous and, invariably, the fish picks a spot at the bottom middle back of the tank. Removing rocks isn’t practical because, since the tank is mature, removing rocks probably means destroying the coral that you have worked to hard to grow. Since the reef is mature, it’s probably fully stocked with fish, so any attempt to use a fish hook isn’t going to work because other fish are going to get the food off the hook before the fish you are trying to catch even knows there is something to strike. Knock-out drugs won’t work either because not only are they hard to get, but even if you are able to squirt it in the face of the fish, the knocked-out fish can sink to the bottom where it is impossible to remove before it wakes up, swims away and laughs at you.
To the best of my knowledge, that leaves one option – the fish trap. 5 days ago, I pulled out my trusty acrylic trap, the kind with the weighted door that is held open by a piece of monofilament with a suction cup on the end. This particular trap also has another piece of monofilament that you can pull on to slam the door closed quickly instead of simply relying on gravity to trap the fish. I used some electrical tape to affix an old algae magnet to the trap so I can rest the trap on the glass instead of on coral. The magnet also allows me to leave the trap in place over time without it getting blown around by the current. This is very important because unless you are very lucky and the fish goes right in (I am not lucky), the trap needs to be left in place over time so the fish gets comfortable enough with the trap to actually go in the trap. Of course, the most important part of trapping a fish with this method is patience – and man can that patience be annoying.
Every night, I bait the trap with some Reef Nutrition Mysis Feast and watch patiently as almost every other fish in the tank-Orange-spotted rabbitfish (Siganus guttatus), Radiant Wrasse (Halichores iridis), Multicolor angel (Centropyge multicolor), Potter’s Angelfish (Centropyge potteri), Margined butterfly (Chelmon marginatus), Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis friedmani), Mimic Saddle Puffer (Paraluterus prionurus) and even green chromis (Chromis viridis) hang out in the trap and chow down – often all at the same time- while the Regal hangs out near the trap entrance waiting for scraps. Every night the Regal gets a little closer to the trap, but doesn’t go in. I may need to catch every other fish that goes into the trap to make the Regal feel comfortable, but not yet. Tonight I moved some Zoanthids into the trap to make it even more enticing. I hope.
It’s really frustrating, but I keep calming myself down reminding myself that patience is the key and it works. Just a month ago, I had to catch two big lunare wrasses out of the 212,000 gallon reef tank at work. It took two weeks of baiting the trap for the fish to be comfortable enough to go in, and when the finally did, I was able to catch both of them in less than 10 minutes. But it took patience. Patience.
Some corals have fallen over, but I am going to leave them for now as not to disturb the Regal. Algae is growing all over the front glass, but I am going to leave it as not to disturb the Regal. So, here I sit, most of the pumps off to keep the food in the trap waiting…and waiting…and waiting…because thats what I have to do.
This post would be in total fanboy territory were it not for the fact that the Diver’s Den has become a fixture of American reef aquarium culture. Like Reefer Madness before it, for many years LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den has been the online reefing community’s daily fix for real and window shopping of exotic marine aquarium life. This may be an opinion but it is one that is widely shared.
Video of a Commersons Angler (Antennarius commerson) ordered from Diver’s Den being all around cool and eating within minutes of acclimation.
I love LiveAquaria’s Diver’s Den. Really. What’s not to love about a vendor that has good customer service where you can go to order reasonably priced, hard to find, healthy, eating, pre quarantined animals that are delivered to your door? This isn’t some fanboy fantasy, but is based on my experience with the company over the years. I have ordered many animals from Divers Den for my home aquariums, and all of them have arrived in excellent health, disease free and ready to eat.
If you don’t know, Diver’s Den is the What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) wing of LiveAquaria.com. All the animals in the Diver’s Den section are are held, quarantined, treated (if necessary), and shipped from a state-of-the-art Aquaculture Coral & Marine Life Facility in Rhinelander, Wisconsin – and are not shipped unless they are healthy, eating and fully adjusted to a captive environment to make a smooth transition into your aquarium. I trust the care these animals have been getting so much that I feel comfortable skipping my own QT and putting Diver’s Den animals directly into my reef – though it is really important to note that that is absolutely a risk that I don’t normally take and that LiveAquaria.com recommends quarantining every aquatic animal prior to placing them into the display aquarium.
The Margined Butterfly (Chelmon marginalis), I ordered in 2009 from Diver’s Den arrived safe and sound in its perfect and impressive packaging. I acclimated it to my home system and, as expected, it promptly got its butt kicked by some long term residents a Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) and a male Blotchy Anthias (Odontanthias borbonius). Since the butterfly came from Diver’s Den, it was fat and sassy and not only able to take the repeated hazing, but it would even defend itself by aiming its dorsal spines at the bullies. By the second day, the C. marginalis was even pecking at the rock for food in between fights. Within a week, everything calmed down, the fighting stopped, the fish shows no signs or marks from the altercations and was eating like a champ. Other fish I have ordered from Divers Den including, a Juvenile Regal Angel (Pygoplites diacanthus), have had similar stories, and corals and inverts from the web site have been healthy and colorful.
I have always been a fan of Local Fish Stores and do everything I can to support them, but the economical issues of the last few years has had a interesting effect on the practices of local reef businesses. The most distressing of these is that there are fewer of LFS in the SF Bay Area; the nearest one that is good is at least 30 minutes away which means the days of getting in the car and hitting 5 stores or more in search of a special animal seem to be a thing of the past. Now, if I am looking for a ‘special’ animal, I do check with the local stores and if they have it I make the drive. If they don’t have what I am looking for, I go to the Diver’s Den easy to navigate and easy to use use website which has a large selection of ‘special’ animals (and information on those animals) that is updated and expanded daily.
Oh, one more thing. Almost all Diver’s Den animals come with a 14 day guarantee. If the animal “doesn’t arrive alive and stay alive for 14 days” they will credit your account of refund your money. I have never had to invoke that guarantee, and from what I have experienced with this company, I doubt I will ever have to.
As some of you may remember from my previous article ‘The anatomy of a disaster” http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/66910-epic-fail-anatomy-disaster.html I have a penchant for not keeping up on float switch maintenance and ending up with kalk overdoses. Regardless of the failsafes I put in place, I continue to OD on kalk, and guess what, I did it again recently, and I humbly present to you the newest of precautions I have put in place to possibly save my lazy butt from yet another disaster.
The most current kalk issue was not nearly as bad as the previous one. Last time I lost 95% of my SPS corals, where this time I only lost 2 – though some of them are going to take a month of so to recover completely.
When I caught it, the pH in the tank was 9.7, bad but not immediately kill everything bad. My sump is essentially a 180 gallon tank so when the primary float switch failed about 15 gallons of yummy kalk water was pumped into the tank until the secondary float switch, located about 3 inches above the primary clicked into action.
This time, instead of dumping gallons of vinegar in the system to lower the pH, I tee’d off of the CO2 feed to my calcium reactor and bubbled CO2 directly into the display tank. CO2 is better for a couple of reasons, the most important being the lack of bacterial bloom that results from gallons of vinegar being dumped into a saltwater system. Since the system wasn’t totally crashed, this was very important to me. Another good thing about the CO2 addition is that its effect of lowering pH is very fast and its hard to overdose – just take line out of the tank. Getting the pH down to 8.2 took less than 10 minutes, and the change was startling. Fish that were clearly stressing and hiding came right out and ate. A Linkia starfish that looked to be dead, perked right up. LPS corals started opening up within 30 minutes. I like the CO2 much better than vinegar. Of course, it should be obvious that CO2 can be dangerous for both your tank and you, so be careful and I wouldn’t even think of doing it without a calibrated electronic pH meter.
So what did I do to avoid this avoidable problem in the future. First, I further slowed the amount of water pumping into the system via the Auto Top Off. I also put the ATO on a timer with an on/off cycle of 30 minutes. The system can still move enough water to keep up with top off, but it takes time to fill it up, and that less time means more time before the problem becomes critical.
The second thing I did was reconfigure the sump equipment so it was all easier to get to and maintain. Easier and neater means faster and better regular maintenance. Now, the switches are right up front, in a dark space and soaking them in vinegar takes a matter of minutes. Easy peasy. I also modified the way the float switches were laid out. Now, instead of 3 inches between primary and secondary float switches, resulting in a 15 gallon addition, there is about .5 inches, resulting in a 3ish gallon addition before the secondary kicks in. Its such an obvious modification that I marvel at my lack of making it immediately upon receiving the float switches.
The third and most important think I did was set up a 4 month recurring calendar event on my computer to remind me to do the regular cleaning.
Will this work? Will I avoid disaster in the future? Only time will tell…