Sep 26, 2009


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.