Dec 22, 2009

Cardiff Bullet Reef Tank

I've heard your requests for an updated full tank shot of the Cardiff Bullet shaped Reef tank. These tanks are really neat to see in person, but the U shape really distorts what you can see on the sides of the tank if you are standing in front of it. There is a Toadstool and another purple Gorgonian on the left side, and a Turbinaria and an orange Gorgonian on the right side that you can't see in the picture. This tank would be displayed best if easily viewable from three sides. Mine is not.

Cardiff

Here are some closeups of my corals:

The green polyp Toadstool

My Aquarium

Pink Zoanthus

Pink Zoas

Super neon green Leptoseris

Leptoseris sp.

Pumping Xenia

Xenia sp.

Purple Blastomussa frag

Blastomussa wellsi

Peanut Butter Cup Zoas

Peanut Butter Cup Zoas

Green Favia lizardensis

Green Favia brain coral

Dec 21, 2009

Caribbean Blue Zoanthus

It's been a while since I've taken a photo of my favorite Zoas. I got a single polyp of these Caribbean Blue Zoanthus from Sealifeinc.net in 2007 for $5! I think they sell nano frags now instead of single polyps, which makes more sense. They also have larger colonies for those of you with less patience than me.

I used to have these in my seahorse tank (before it was totally non-photosynthetic), but I had to remove algae from all around them all the time. I moved them to a coral-only tank in August, and they are doing much better. I think the lighting is better, and the water quality is pristine.

Before pic:
Caribbean blue Zoanthus

After pic:
Caribbean Blue Zoanthus

Dec 18, 2009

For the Love of Seahorses

If you haven't joined Reef Tools yet, and you are a marine aquarist, click here. Make sure you add me, "Felicia" to your friends list.

Photobucket

I wrote a short article about seahorse care for people who might be thinking about starting a seahorse aquarium. Check it out here. (Some of those photos might look familiar to some of you, dear readers, especially the last photo of my beloved seahorse Hoover.) I hope I didn't leave anything important out of the article. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I will get back to you!

Dec 16, 2009

Dwarf Yellow Lionfish

I got a new pet yesterday, my first ever Lionfish. She is a Yellow Dwarf Lionfish, the yellow variant of the Dendrochirus brachypterus. Acclimation was uneventful, in fact, she showed absolutely no fear and was curious about what was going on (I guess I wouldn't be scared, either, if I was so venomous!) She hasn't gone into hiding at all and likes to hang out in the open, calmly watching us walk around the kitchen. She's like a puppy!

Lionfish Face

Check out Lionfishlair.com run by my good friends Renee and Greg Hix. Most of the photos on the site were taken by Renee, who is the best photographer I've ever met. Her macro shots inspire me to become a better photographer.

For more info on lionfish care, go to http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-11/fm/feature/

Dec 12, 2009

"Jawbreaker" Crab

Check out this awesome hitchhiker my friend Cindy gave me. I think it's some kind of Xanthid egg crab or reef crab. I'm pretty sure it's not a good crab for reef tanks, though. I think it's pretty; it reminds me of a Jawbreaker candy. I'll keep it with my other bad crabs in my sump.

Reef Crab

Did you know that many colorful Xanthid crabs are poisonous?

Dec 9, 2009

Pygmy Coral Croucher

Today is an exciting day for all Caracanthus lovers! If you think Coral Crouchers are like pygmy Scorpionfish, wait till you see the Pygmy Coral Croucher. Today we found a very tiny Coral Croucher (aka Venomous Velvetfish) on an Acropora coral from Fiji. I'm pretty confident with the ID of Caracanthus unipinna because of the color and elongated tubercles. It's about the size of my thumbnail; I've never seen a Coral Croucher this tiny. It isn't spotted like the other Caracanthus, but it's pretty in its own right - the color of copper with a dark dorsal area.

Caracanthus unipinna

I've named my new acquisition "Penny" and have it acclimating into my coral tank right now. I think that will be the best place for it because there are no other fish in the coral tank, and the water quality is pristine. This tank is crawling with Amphipods and Munnid Isopods which will come in handy while I'm trying to wean this little fish onto frozen foods. I don't want to lose this tiny fish in the comparitively huge 25 gallon tank, so I bought it a little guppy breeding box. I'll keep "Penny" in there with a (somewhat) live coral frag until it is trained to eat frozen mysis and gets big enough to go into the main tank. Click here to learn more about Coral Croucher care.

I've had pretty good luck with Caracanthus in the past, and this one seems to be in good health. It really amazes me that this miniscule creature hitchhiked all the way from Fiji to my house in the middle of the U.S. continent. I'm really lucky to have the opportunity to care for and study this little known species of Caracanthus. Wish us luck!

December 18 UPDATE: Success! Penny voraciously attacked and ate a piece of frozen mysis a few minutes ago. That means I won't have to hunt for Amphipods and try to suck them up into the feeding syringe anymore. I'll keep you updated on Penny. I wonder how much bigger it will get?

November 2010 Update: Penny never got much bigger, but was eating frozen well. I decided to put it in the main tank where it disappeared. I knew there was a good chance it was still alive, but very small and cryptic. I moved my tanks recently and was sad that I didn't find it among the many other cryptic creatures I hadn't seen in over a year.

Nov 11, 2009

Swimming Crab

I've mentioned my friend Cindy from work before who likes to adopt "bad" crabs. For a long time now, Cindy has been telling me about this monstrous Swimming Crab that she has. It was small when she found it as a hitchhiker on a coral, but has since grown to over four inches wide. The crab is a confirmed female, having been gravid in the past. I've always been fascinated by this crab and had hoped to visit Cindy's home to photograph the crab and her other aquariums.

swimming crab2

Yesterday, I was greeted at work by Cindy holding a large bag of water. She explained that the aquarium the crab was living in crashed and the crab needed a new emergency home. Being sympathetic to bad crabs myself, I of course agreed to put the crab in my sump. I thought my husband would be pleased, since he is a self-professed crustacean lover, but when I handed him the bag, he screamed like a girl. I have to admit, I'm a little scared of the crab, too. I was careful not to get my fingers too close to those claws.

swimming crab claw

It was hilarious when I poured the crab out of the bag, she is heavy! We think the crab is a Red Leg Swimming Crab or something similar. If anyone can ID this crab to genus or species, I'd love to hear from you. Since she was found on a coral that was imported for aquarium trade, she is likely from the tropical Indo-Pacific or possibly Australia.

Cindy says this crab loves to eat table shrimp and will actually use her hind legs to swim to the top of the water if she senses food. Check out these flat swimming legs.

swimming crab leg

I'm excited to be caring for this crab for a while, she is certainly an interesting specimen. She moves around a lot more than the other crabs I have, constantly walking around and eating things off the floor...probably my other bad crabs.

More Swimming Crab Pics

swimming crab

Nov 5, 2009

Squat Lobster Hosting on Seahorse

I had a wonderful weekend as a bridesmaid at an outdoor Halloween wedding, or "Hallowedding." Unfortunately, I got the flu and didn't even look at my aquariums for a few days. (My husband was kind enough to feed the seahorses and new Flashing Tilefish for me.) I got up this morning for work and decided to pop a cube of mysis in for the seahorses quickly. I glanced in right before leaving and saw something strange on Hoover, one of my female seahorses. I looked closer, and saw my newest Crinoid Squat Lobster hosting on her!

Squat lobster hosting on Seahorse

At first, I was shocked. This is not normal behavior. I wanted to knock the thing off or her as quickly as possible, but I had to grab a couple quick snapshots of the situation first. I think the squat lobster was smart for doing this, because as Hoover swam up to the top of the water to eat some mysis, the squat lobster grabbed some mysis, too. I don't know how it thought a seahorse was similar enough to a Crinoid to host on it, but it worked. Maybe someday squat lobsters will figure out that seahorses are better hosts than Crinoids, because they move toward the food instead of waiting for the food to come to them. It was sort of funny, because the squat lobster seemed a bit triumphant in his experiment, but also a little confused as to why his host was moving around so much. He looked like a cowboy trying to hang onto a bull.

Hoover didn't seem irritated by the squat lobster. Normally if something is on her (like another seahorse), she bucks and shakes, trying to dislodge it. Even though she was acting normal with the squat lobster attached to her, it made me really uncomfortable. So I grabbed her and shook it off of her. She went back to eating right away, and the squat lobster sunk to a crevice in a rock, where he has stayed.

Squat lobster hosting on Seahorse

Oct 22, 2009

Flashing Tilefish

I finally got my dream fish two weeks ago - a Flashing Tilefish Hoplolatilus chlupatyi I've named Blinky. These fish are notoriously delicate and difficult to keep, but Blinky was in excellent shape when I got him. He's been eating like a pig from day one and has a nice, full belly.

Flashing Tilefish and Seahorse

For the first two weeks, though, he hid under a rock and I had to target feed him. It didn't take him long to recognize me as the mysis dispenser, and he would come out from under his rock a few inches to eat. He's even started coming out of hiding any time I walk up to the tank, hoping to be fed. Today he was comfortable enough to swim further from his hiding place and explored the whole left side of the tank. I'm really happy he's doing so well.

As you can see, tilefish and seahorses make great companions. Above is a picture of Blinky and Juniper, my adult male H. erectus seahorse, sharing a meal together. This blue color with the green dorsal is Blinky's default coloration. When he gets excited or scared, he starts rapidly flashing all different vivid colors - pink, yellow, green purple...it's incredible. My boss had one of these for years and said that after a while, it stopped flashing and just stayed blue all the time. It's still a gorgeous fish even when it gets comfortable enough to stop flashing.

Flashing Tilefish

One reason tilefish are difficult to keep is because they are so shy. They should have the most peaceful tank mates like seahorses and gobies. Flashing Tilefish are especially delicate because they are deepwater fish living in waters over 100 feet deep. This is what causes their higher price tag; deepwater fish are more costly because it's more risky to dive for them. Once they are collected, they have to be slowly acclimatized to lower pressure or they will die. A Flashing Tilefish will set you back about $150 or more. But if you can find a healthy specimen, they are worth it.

Flashing Tilefish must be kept in an aquarium with a tightly closed lid. Any tiny holes in the canopy or top for tubes or cords should be well covered. The number one cause of death for Tilefish after being acclimated is from carpet surfing - jumping out of the aquarium.

December Update: Blinky is doing so great, I just love him. His favorite activity is definitely eating. He nibbles on the end of the feeding syringe or my fingers when I feed. He has no fear now and swims around all the time. He has filled out really nicely and has a fat belly.

Check out these Youtube videos of Flashing Tilefish changing colors:



Oct 19, 2009

Squat Lobster Battles

Welcome to Felicia's Aquarium Adventures, your number one source for pet Crinoid Squat Lobster information!

A couple weeks ago, I was happy to find a large white and yellow Allogalathea elegans that I think was a female. Similar Galatheid crabs can be sexed by the width of the carapace; females have a wider carapace than the males for carrying eggs. But another close relative, the porcelain crab, the females are significantly smaller than the male. Either way, I think there is a difference in width between male and female Crinoid squat lobsters.

The photo above is a wild gravid female Crinoid squat lobster in its host. Most of the squat lobsters I see are probably juveniles or males, so I don't often see the ones with wider bodies, like the one pictured below.

Yellow Allogalathea elegans


squatting lobster
Originally uploaded by Salt Water People
After seeing my black Allogalathea elegans and my Galathea inflata sharing a Crinoid, I had the idea to try to make a pair of one of my squat lobsters. I've talked to divers who say it's rare to see more than one squat lobster on a Crinoid in the wild. No one is quite sure if they live as pairs or prefer solitude. Sadly, the new squat lobster didn't live through acclimation. My dreams of having a pair of squat lobsters were dashed.

I did find another yellow squat lobster soon after, but I believe it is either a male or a juvenile. I bought him and added him to my aquarium where he started a game of musical Crinoids with the other squat lobsters.

I've never actually seen my squat lobsters battle, but I see the aftermath. There are two Crinoids in my aquarium, both are black. They've been alive, honestly, longer than I expected. One is in pretty good shape still, and it is the preferred Crinoid. The other lost the tips of its arms long ago. Darth Maul, my 2+ year old Galathea inflata, in August was sharing the good Crinoid with Darth Vader, an Allogalathea elegans who has been with us about 6 months. For a few weeks, it seemed like a truce had been struck between the two. Then one day, I woke up to find Darth Maul's molt under the good Crinoid. Darth Vader was there, but Darth Maul was missing. When I finally found him, he was in the small Crinoid and missing an arm. There must have been a feirce battle while Darth Maul was molting and Darth Vader found him in a weakened state.

Squat lobster status quo was reached and maintained until a third squat lobster, the yellow and white one my husband dubbed "Bananarama II" was added to the aquarium. This is when the game of musical Crinoids commenced. The next day, Bananarama was in the small Crinoid, Darth Maul was in the preferred Crinoid, and Darth Vader was alone. The day after that, Darth Vader took the small Crinoid from Bananarama, who I found on the complete other side of the 4 foot aquarium. Here he is next to my special-needs goby and laying claim to this empty snail shell

squat lobster and goby


Chucks' addiction has a beautiful gallery of hitchhiking Galatheid squat lobsters.

Oct 14, 2009

Anthias Mouth Stuck Open

When I came home from work today, I was shocked to see my one-eyed yellow eye anthias Pseudanthias lunulatus, Lucky, with his mouth stuck open! Unfortunately, I've heard of and seen this happen to anthias before when they are stressed out, and they usually don't come back from it. I have no idea why this happens, but I've always wondered. I think Lucky may have just been surprised by the door opening abruptly (the tank is right by the front door). Lucky is blind in one eye and often swims full speed into rocks and other objects in the tank, so it's possible he injured his mouth doing that. Luckily, Lucky was able to close his mouth after a few minutes and is eating right now.

It kind of looks like this, when an anthias' mouth is stuck open.

Here's a picture of Lucky right after I brought him home. He was still a little thin in this photo, but he's doing great now.

Lunulatus anthias

I've also heard of and seen stressed anthias who bend in the middle and can't straighten themselves. They usually die shortly after. Small anthias are delicate little creatures and should always be handled with great care! Don't expose them to sudden bright lighting, changes in water parameters, aggressive fish, or other stressors. Stress kills anthias.

Sep 26, 2009

Columnaris

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to visit aquarium and pet stores. On a trip to Madison this spring, we picked up a few guppies for our freshwater tank. I hadn't been paying enough attention to my freshwater tanks and only had a few fish left. One was my favorite guppy, a male that was descended from a line of albino magenta pintails crossed with some neon doubleswords and some of my best friend's mutt guppies. He was the last of my guppies, and had no mates.

male guppy

I added the two new females after a long, careful acclimation. I didn't bother to quarantine them, after all, they're only guppies, right? Wrong. Less than two days later, the new guppies looked like this:

Guppy fungus

I removed them to a quarantine tank, but they were too far gone. I started doing heavy water changes and maintaining a salt level of about .2% (about one teaspoon per gallon) using freshwater aquarium salt. Within days, my favorite guppy and a number of my other livebearers had succumbed to the disease. I also dosed with Mela Fix, though I'm not sure how effective it was. Perhaps without it, the mortality rate would've been higher. Everyone else has since recovered, but when I added some healthy new fish last month from a private breeder I trust, a few of them contracted what I suspect was columnaris and died shortly after I put them in the tank. Columnaris can stick around for a long time, even though my other fish are not showing symptoms.

Columnaris, Flavobacterium columnare (formerly known as Flexibacter columnaris) is a gram negative bacteria that is not easy to treat. I don't like to use medications, but some popular medications for curing Columnaris are Acriflavine, Furan, and low doses of Formalin. Neomycin and many common antibiotics are not effective. Medications must be used in quarantine tanks because the medications kill the aquarium's ammonia-eating bacteria. Ammonia is much easier to control in a bare tank than in a display tank containing substrate. If you have more than one tank, be careful not to cross contaminate with fish nets, hands, or specimen containers.

If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to leave a comment. If you've had a Columnaris outbreak in your aquarium and successfully treated it, I'd love to hear from you!

Blue Eyed Crabs



Blue Eyed Crab
Probably the baddest of the bad crabs (for SPS tanks) is the blue eyed crab, Cymo spp. They live on stony corals like Acropora and Pocillopora sp. Unlike most symbionts, these crabs do considerable damage to their hosts. I'm not sure if it's so bad in the wild, but in captivity, these little crabs can quickly kill your prized Acropora colony. I assume they eat the coral's flesh, as they leave dead, white patches in their wake.

My friend Cindy from work shares my sympathy for all things "bad" in the aquarium world, and has adopted countless bad crabs, Stomatopods, and other weird reef-unsafe stuff. She says the blue eyed crabs will eat frozen foods if they don't have a coral to eat (though hers usually do, the spoiled brats). She has some gorgeous bad crabs in many different colors; one is the size of her hand!

red Xanthid crab
 I have a 13 gallon trash can under my aquarium that acts like a sump. There's not much I can put in there, because it's so tall and narrow. I have some Chaeto and other algae in there, but not much else. I started noticing a thin layer of grossness collecting on the bottom, and decided to start collecting "bad crabs" to help clean it up. I already had one bad crab, some kind of red Xanthid crab, shown above. I moved that crab to the trash can sump and have been on the lookout for more bad crabs ever since.

I threw three blue eyed crabs into my trash can sump along with my red Xanthid crab last week. There's enough Chaeto in there to prevent territory disputes, and I'm sure enough food gets to them to scavenge. We'll see how these crabs do in my sump. I'll probably be adopting more"bad crabs" in the future. I'll let you know how it goes.

I found this blog post really interesting, along with having a great photo of one of these beasts, it says that the blue eyed crab in Singapore, Cymo andreossyi, is listed as Vulnerable. Do you need any more reason to throw your bad crabs into the sump instead of your trash can?

Sep 21, 2009

Hexagonaria Coral Fossil

I recently got a new fossil, a 350 million year old Hexagonaria sp. coral fossil. (My husband is probably thinking, "Oh, great, now she's collecting dead corals, too.") This particular fossil was collected in the Sahara desert. It's hard to imagine that 350 million years ago, there were oceans in the Sahara and mid-west America where corals of the Hexagonaria genus thrived. It's so interesting to think about; this is the ancient ancestor (or distant cousin) of the modern closed brain corals in our aquariums and oceans. It looks so much like a Montastrea or a Prism coral. Wouldn't it be amazing to go back in time and see this coral when it was alive? What color were its polyps? What was its habitat like? Did it have any symbiotic relationships? We can only imagine.

Hexagonaria sp. fossil coral

Macro shot:

Hexagonaria sp. fossil coral

Here's a macro of the neon green Favia lizardensis in my coral aquarium for comparison:

Favia lizardensis

Check out more fossil photos on my Flickr page->.

Sep 16, 2009

Malachite Secretive Wrasse

I just had to tell someone about this fish. I photographed this Japanese Malachite Secretive wrasse for work today, and I am in love.



Not to anthropomorphize him, but this fish had a lot of personality. The first time I looked at him, he was a completely different color. It wasn't the typical stress pattern that wrasses sometimes get, he was actually bright red, blue, and white mottled all over. But when I approached him to photograph him, he turned this gorgeous yellow-orange color right before my eyes! Just like a chameleon. I've seen plenty of other orange Pteragogus wrasses, but this one was simply stunning. To top of his amazing coloration, he's got super long first and second dorsal spikes. And look at the patterns on his face. Spots and whorls! Plus that beautiful, toothy smile. Who can resist?

He's from Japan, so he prefers cooler water temperatures in the sub-tropical range. If I had a cool water FOWLR tank, this little cutie would be coming home with me. Alas, my tank is full of tiny gobies and seahorses. So I will have to cherish what little time I have left to spend with him. If you buy this fish, I hope you will send me updates on him. He is truly special!

Sep 9, 2009

New DFS Blog

Drs. Foster & Smith has unveiled their new pet blog! And I'll be writing for it occasionally. I've written 2 posts for it so far, the first being a quick introduction to my seahorses, but you're all regular readers of Aquarium Adventures and know all about them already. The latest post is all about my 2 year old sun coral (and its babies), in which I give tips on care, feeding, and the magic of reproducing these gorgeous corals (that's right, I said reproduce, not frag).

Sun Corals

My boss Kevin is also writing some aquarium-related posts for the DFS pet blog, check out his post on quarantine tanks. My husband Keith, who is a professional writer, will be posting about our parrots and leopard gecko. If you are into dogs, there are lots of posts about dog health, training, and agility. This blog has something for everyone, even Ferret lovers, cat owners, and small pet keepers.

Why are you still here? Go read the sun coral post and share your tips, stories, and comments!

Sep 3, 2009

The Deadliest Animal Planet

I was recently contacted by a Mr. Stitchman from Icon Films regarding my photography on Flickr. He said that he was working on Animal Planet's series "River Monsters 2" and was interested in using some of my Sturgeon photos. At first I was really excited that my photos might be used on a huge TV network.

sturgeon mouth

I'm a really positive person by nature, and I don't like to talk badly about anyone. But I can't stand Animal Planet anymore. I remember when I was a kid watching the hard-to-find nature shows on PBS, and when I heard about a new station called Animal Planet, I thought it would be more like that. Instead they have shows about how dangerous and deadly animals are to humans. Every time I turn on Animal Planet, a man with an action-movie-announcer voice is warning us about some deadliest animal in the world (whatever). With these shows, Animal Planet is not educating people as much as they are creating unjustified fear of animals and vilifying animals. It's no longer just "Animal Planet," it's become "the Deadliest Animal" Planet.

I had hoped that "River Monsters" would be different, as Mr. Stitchman said it was about "some of the biggest and most interesting freshwater fish." I Googled it and found some clips on YouTube and was instantly annoyed. Some of the titles include "KILLER CATFISH," "EUROPEAN MANEATER," and "AMAZON FLESHEATERS." I didn't contact them again about those photos. I just couldn't sell myself out. I don't want to be associated with a show like that.

Since when did Animal Planet become a network for horror films about animals? I am not interested in shows that bombard us with rare, freak animal attacks; negatively highlight the contention between humans and animals; and invoke fear of animals in children and other impressionable viewers. If I'm watching a show and hear the words "deadly," "dangerous," and "attack" within the first two minutes, I know to change the channel. Why doesn't Animal Planet show more educational shows, or shows about conservation? Some of my favorite Animal Planet shows are Buggin' with Ruud, Corwin's Quest, Growing Up..., and Orangutan Island. Animal Planet needs more shows like these that advocate conservation, learning, and treating animals with a healthy respect. Sure, those sensational shows about man-eating animals have some merits. At least now I know never to harass a Polar bear, king cobra, or great white shark, should I ever encounter one here in Wisconsin.

Do you agree, or disagree? Feel free to leave a comment and tell us how you feel about Animal Planet.

Aug 29, 2009

Shedd Aquarium Tour

My husband and I went to Chicago this week to see one of our favorite bands, Modest Mouse, and to visit the Shedd Aquarium. We got a private tour and got to see some really awesome behind the scenes stuff.

Ventralis Anthias

The Caribbean Reef exhibit is the first one you see when you walk into the Shedd. It is absolutely enormous. There were a lot of large Caribbean fish in there like tangs, sharks, porkfish, parrotfish, wrasses, turtles, and a big school of Lookdowns.


Shedd Caribbean Reef

I think I spent most of my time in the coral quarantine room. They had a fine collection of neon colored Fungiid corals and some of the biggest and brightest LPS I've seen. I was totally blown away by the group of gorgeous Tridacna crocea clams, soon to be on display.

What really amazed me was that the Shedd has been spawn collecting Acropora palmata corals from the Caribbean. Like all Caribbean stony corals, Acropora plamata is illegal to collect, which is why I've never seen one in person. These larger pieces pictured are about two years old.

I mentioned that it's too bad that A. palmata isn't more colorful, but at least some of the smaller pieces had green or purple colored polyps. They said that A. palmata doesn't have colored polyps in the wild, but after DNA analysis of the symbiotic Zooxanthellae algae (what gives coral its color), they found that the sexually reproduced pieces were taking in Zooxanthellae from Pacific speices of coral. That is what is giving them the colored polyps, and also makes them hardier.

at the Shedd Aquarium Most public aquariums traditionally had fake corals in their displays, mostly because the corals were too difficult to keep, and so they could treat the displays with copper. Sure, they had reef fish and rubber coral replicas, but not much to offer the seasoned reefer. The Shedd has an exhibit called the Wild Reef, a giant room downstairs with wall-to-wall reef tanks, live coral everywhere! I was also really impressed with the Shedd's collection of Anthias.

I am a little sad that I didn't get to see the seahorse and sea dragon exhibit called "Seahorse Symphony" wich has since moved to Duluth and is now called "Seahorse Secrets." The Shedd has a small collection of seahorses, mostly H. reidi, H. kuda, H. erectus, and H. comes. Most of them were in fairly good condition, which is not bad for a public aquarium. They also had a few nice pipefish and trumpetfish mixed in with the reef tanks. It's hard to impress me with seahorses, but I did enjoy the small sea dragon exhibits. They seemed to be in good health, considering their delicate nature.

Leafy Sea Dragon

I was really upset by one of the other guests at the aquarium who was using his camera's flash to photograph these sensitive animals. There is a large sign next to the tank that says, "NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY;" I pointed at the sign and said, literally, "You're not supposed to use your flash on these. It kills them." He glared at me and continued to use his flash. I use my flash on my home aquariums all the time, but I don't do it for 12 hours a day every day. This is why I didn't use my flash at all at the Shedd. It's not good for the fish and animals there to be constantly hit with bright lights. Sea dragons are particularly sensitive to camera flash (or any bright light), it can literally stress them to death. So if you go to the Shedd, don't use your flash, please.

There are a lot of freshwater exhibits, as well. I really enjoyed the Goodeid exhibit and the planted neon tetra tank. I got to meet Steve, one of the aquarists who breeds and cares for the freshwater fish. We thought he was a really cool guy who seemed to be really passionate about his job.

Neon Tetras

See more photos from my trip on my Flickr Shedd Aquarium set. Also check out the Shedd Aquarium Chicago Flickr Group where you can submit your own Shedd Aquarium photos. THis group is frequented by the Shedd staff and other Shedd Aquarium enthusiasts.

Aug 22, 2009

squat lobsters sharing crinoid



I still have the two black Crinoids in my aquarium, but the purple one slowly fell apart and died. The black ones are not doing bad, still extending their arms to feed.

I was surprised last night when I glanced at one of the Crinoids to find that both of my squat lobsters were hosting in it.

squat lobsters sharing crinoid

Darth Maul, in the lower half of the photo, is a Galathea inflata. He prefers to cling to the rocks underneath a Crinoid. Sometimes he moves to a different Crinoid, and sometimes doesn't stand under one at all. Darth Vader, in the upper portion of the photo, is an Allogalathea elegans. He is always in a Crinoid, usually in the center or on the arms.

Squat lobsters are solitary creatures, so it's unusual to find them sharing a Crinoid. These two have not been fond of one another, either. Darth Maul has chased Darth Vader from his favorite Crinoid before. But it looks like they've made a truce. There is another Crinoid in the aquarium, exactly like this one, but they both prefer this one. They are still sharing this morning, I wonder how long this will last.

Aug 13, 2009

Yasha Goby and Red Banded Pistol Shrimp

Last night when I was feeding my fish, I was shocked to see that my Yasha goby has a friend! Kenobie, my Yasha goby, has been alone for over two years now. About a year ago, I bought her an unidentified green pistol shrimp from my LFS; I later ID'd it as Alpheus ochrostriatus. They completely ignored one another. So in February, I got a Wheeler's goby for the pistol shrimp. Kenobie was still all alone, except for her peppermint shrimp friends. In February I bought her an Alpheus randalli, red banded pistol shrimp, which is the pistol shrimp that Yasha gobies are commensal with in the wild. I heard a lot of pistol shrimp popping and shooting, and didn't see the red banded pistol shrimp after that at all. I thought for sure it was killed by the much larger green pistol shrimp. But all is well, and my Yasha has a new pistol shrimp friend!Yasha-Goby-pistol-shrimp

Aug 4, 2009

Almost Finished Renovations

I finally finished moving my aquariums around the kitchen. The 55 gallon with the 20 gallon sump is now home to all the reef fish, inverts, non-photosynthetic corals, and seahorses. The 25 gallon nano bullet tank is now a coral-only tank. The 37 gallon, which used to be the seahorse tank, is now a planted guppy and Limia tank. I usually go to bed pretty early, but some night I'll try to stay up past dark and get a shot of all three tanks with the lights off in the kitchen so you don't have to look at my refrigerator.

Allogalathea on Crinoid

I had to combine the two saltwater tanks and was nervous at first about how everyone would get along. So far, there haven't been any major problems. There was a squat lobster confrontation, however, on the first day. Darth Maul, the Galathea inflata, evicted Darth Vader, the Allogalathea elegans, from its favorite black Crinoid. In the wild, Darth Vader would have been eaten immediately without the protection of a Crinoid. So it felt that it had to move quickly to the nearest Crinoid, which happened to be my newest Crinoid, a purple one. It was obvious that Darth Vader did not like the purple Crinoid much, because it made its way to the nearest uninhabited black Crinoid soon after. Darth Maul, the Galathea inflata, does not live on the center of the Crinoid like Darth Vader does. Instead, it stands on the rock underneath the Crinoid's outstretched arms.

Purple Crinoid

What I found interesting is that the short, tufted antennae on either side of its rostrum were pointed toward the Crinoid the whole time it was travelling toward it. I wonder if commensal squat lobsters use those to chemically sense, or smell Crinoids. I wish I knew what those little antennae, circled in red on the picture at left, were called.

Pink Zoas

I found this pretty Zoanthus gigantus rock at my local store. Since I was good at the doctor and didn't hit the anesthesiologist this time, my husband let me buy it. For this photo, I tried out my new surface viewer while the coral was in acclimation. I think it turned out pretty well.

The light fixture I won from a raffle is kind of broken. Only some of the bulbs light up now. That's ok, since this is a non-photosynthetic tank now, and the hair algae is dying. Both the actinics light up, which looks pretty nice. Here's my sea cucumber under actinic lighting. It's still doing well and eats phytoplankton every day. It's difficult to tell since they change shape so much, but I think it has grown. It definitely hasn't gotten smaller. You can also see in the photo a small, white tuft coming out around the mouth. Since taking this photo last week, it has grown into a regular sized feeding tentacle. I don't think the animal hasn't lost any tentacles, so I wonder why it's growing new ones.