Feb 16, 2011

Moving Your Aquarium

I recently moved from Wisconsin to Philadelphia, and wasn't willing to part with my fish. It wasn't easy, but I got most all of them to their new home safe and sound. Here's an article with detailed instructions on how to pack your fish and corals for moving across town or across the country.


Special thanks to Mandy, I couldn't have done it without you <3


Feb 11, 2011

The Hidden Reef Revealed

In 2009 I remember reading an article in TFH magazine about a store called The Hidden Reef in Levittown, PA near Philadelphia. I found myself wishing we had more local fish stores like that nearby. A year later my wish was granted when my husband was offered a job in Philadelphia. At the time I was the photographer/identifier for Liveaquaria’s Diver’s Den, and I absolutely loved my job. I was worried I might not be able to find a job that would allow me to stay in the reef industry, but I always had that article about The Hidden Reef in the back of my mind. Everything fell into place, and I am now working for The Hidden Reef! It’s different from what I’m used to, but I’m enjoying the hands-on approach and interacting with customers and my co-workers who are also knowledgeable hobbyists.

Even if you don’t live in the area, it’s definitely worth making a trip to check out the store. Right now we have (in my opinion) the best selection of corals in the area including Acroporas (even a blue one for $59.99!), a fat Copperband Butterfly that eats frozen brine, a Caribbean Red Scorpionfish that eats frozen mysis, a fabulous LED tank with fluorescing corals, a Potter’s Angel, a BREEDING pair of clingfish, my personal favorite Hawaiian Red Leaffish, and countless other fish, corals, inverts, and dry goods. I hope to see you there soon; be sure to say hi!

Be sure to check out Fish News which we regularly update with photos of new items, sales, and other news. Be sure to also sign up on our email list for coupons and other exclusive offers.

Feb 6, 2011

Tuberculatus Seahorses Perfect for a 10 Gallon Aquarium

One of the questions most commonly asked on seahorse.org is, "Can I keep my seahorses in a 10 gallon aquarium?" The short answer is no. None of the species currently available to hobbyists in the United States are suitable for a ten gallon tank (except a large herd of Dwarf Seahorses H. zosterae which require live Artemia feedings.)

Hippocampus tuberculatus courting males
Hippocapmus tuberculatus courting males
 Hippocampus tuberculatus is a small seahorse (~2-1/2")  from Australia that thrives in smaller aquariums but is large enough to eat frozen mysis shrimp. They are commonly yellow and sport bumps on their bodies, tails, and faces that may turn bright red especially during courting. This species used to be lumped in with the temperate Hippocampus breviceps, but they differ in having a smaller size and coming from a warmer habitat. H. breviceps and H. tuberculatus are most closely related to the large, temperate H. abdominalis.

Because all seahorses, even those that are not at risk of population reduction, were placed on the CITES list, exotic wild caught seahorses are not as readily available in the United States as captive bred seahorses. Most distributors consider importing Australian seahorse species not worth the trouble because of permit costs, shipping costs, and low survivability of wild caught seahorses. Divers don't usually collect them, but if they do, there's a good chance they will not be able to identify species or even gender.

For many years I searched for a supplier of my favorite seahorse species H. breviceps. According to Rudie Kuiter's 2009 Seahorses and their Relatives, this species is numerous in its wild Australian habitat. The species' success may be in part due to the recent drop in population of large predators. Normally this species is demersal, but in recent years, large colonies of pelagic individuals that normally could not survive predation have been seen living on sea grass mats.

Last May, friends in the industry who knew I was looking for Australian seahorses found a single pair H. breviceps on a list from a distributor. Despite the cost, I ordered them without hesitation. When they arrived, at once I realized they were both males. My dreams of breeding them were dashed! After consulting some seahorse ID experts in the US and Australia, we decided they were actually H. tuberculatus instead of the similar H. breviceps.

Hippocampus tuberculatus
Notice the red bumps and white forehead triangle typical of H. tuberculatus

I had a ten gallon chilled temperate aquarium set up for the Breviceps, but raised the temperature to 68F for the Tubercualtus (H. tuberculatus isn't fully tropical and should only briefly be exposed to higher temperatures of 75F maximum). After a couple days of acclimating to captive life, they began eating enriched live adult brine shrimp. They weren't gaining weight very easily, so they also went through a delicate but successful de-worming process. Within a month, they were eating frozen Cyclop-eeze along with the adult brine, and by the end of June were eating frozen mysis and fattened up nicely.

The most endearing thing about my two Tuberculatus that I named Lemony and Snicket was the way they "crash-landed" into a hitching post. Most seahorses swim to a hitch and wrap their tails around it to land. These Tuberculatus almost always swam at a hitch at full speed and then landed with the neck first, then body, then wrapped the tail around the hitch.

Hippocampus tuberculatus
H. tuberculatus first day in his new aquarium
Lemony and Snicket did well in captivity, eating frozen mysis and courting each other constantly. Even though I couldn't breed them because they were both males, I prized my rare-in-captivity Tuberculatus and doted on them. Unfortunately, five months later, one of the Tubers died for seemingly no reason that I could determine. In November I lost the other. He died still hitched to his hitching post without a mark on his body and a full belly. I've found that wild caught seahorses are much more difficult to keep than captive bred since they are more likely to be exposed to pathogens and diseases that are difficult or impossilbe to identify and/or treat.

My hope is that in the future the highly desirable Hippocampus tuberculatus will be collected and imported in larger numbers so captive breeding in the United States can begin and make this species available to hobbyists. This beautiful, unique species is worth the trouble because it is the perfect seahorse for most hobbyist's aquariums - small enough to fit in a 10 gallon tank but large enough to eat frozen mysis shrimp.

Feb 5, 2011

Coral Eating Nudibranchs

I found this Zoanthid eating nudibranch my friend's tank the other day along with the Turbinaria eating slug pictured last. I also found a Blue Eyed Crab eating his Pocillopora. If you ever find a hitchhiker in your aquarium, and you're not sure what it is, feel free to send me a photo or the animal if you can catch it.

Zoa Eating Nudi
a Zoanthid eating Nudibranch minus some cerata lost in transit

Anatomy of a Nudibranch

Zoa eating nudibranchs are a type of Aeolid nudibranch. Notice the black specks behind the first two "antennae?" Those are the eyes. The finger-like appendages on the back are called cerata. The dark tips of the cerata are called cnidosacs. A Zoa eating nudibranch can consume immature nematocysts from its prey and store them in these sacs for protection against predators. The nudibranch gets its coloration from its prey, and may also be photosynthetic.

Most reefers kill the nudibranchs to save their Zoanthus colonies. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, as some people culture the nudibranch and feed it Zoanthids!

Reefers have had success eradicating the Zoa eating nudibranch with Salifert's Flatworm Exit in high doses. Obviously, you have to be careful using this method. It's best to take affected colonies out of the tank and treat them in a bucket of tank water with an overdose of Flatworm Exit. If you have a lot of hidden planaria (which release toxins when they die) in your main tank, it could crash. Have several pounds of carbon on hand when using Flatworm Exit. Since Flatworm Exit won't kill the eggs of the nudibranch, you need to repeat the treatment four days later.


Zoanthid eating Nudibranch

This is only the second Turbinaria eating slug I've ever seen. Removal is not difficult since they are relatively large and don't seem to reproduce in captivity. Both specimens were found on Turbinaria peltata, the Pagoda Cup Coral.

Turbinaria Eating Nudi

Feb 3, 2011

NWRS/UPMMAS 2010 Frag Swap - Reminiscing

Has it really been almost a year since the last annual Northern Wisconsin Reef Society/Upper Peninsula Michigan Marine Aquarium Society frag swap? I know it's hard to believe, but land-locked Rhinelander, WI is a reefer's mecca (Liveaquaria and NWRS, one of the best small reef clubs in the country, are stationed in town.) Last year's annual swap was amazing. The frags and corals at this swap were high quality and priced low. You could find any type of coral you could possibly want from big-time online vendors to basement fraggers. I got a huge frag of Reverse Superman Montipora for $20 from House of Corals. I'm really bummed out I'll miss the swap this year. If I was still living in the area, you can bet I'd be there.

To all my NWRS and UPMMAS friends, hello, and I miss you!

Midwestsaltwater2 (4)
Midwest Saltwater corals

Jim's Reef Zoas

NorthernCorals (16)
Northern Corals Trachyphyllia Brain

Northern Corals (9)
Northern Coral's Frogspawn

CLcampuz2 (9)
Chuck and Lynn's Cyphastrea

johnanddawn (3)
John and Dawn's fluorescing Goochsters

Liveaquaria's Diver's Den donated awesome LE frags for the silent auction

NorthernCorals (7)


Raffle (2)

SULA (2)

Club Tank (1)
NWRS club tank

Houseofcorals (2)
House of Corals

Houseofcorals (5)

JimsReef (1)
Jim's Reef

JimsReef (2)

Midwest Saltwater (2)
Midwest Saltwater

Midwest Saltwater (5)

Northern Corals (8)
Northern Corals

CLcampuz (2)
Chuck and Lynn's tank


OntosRob's tank

Discovery World (1)
Discovery World

Custom Color (4)
Custom Color

T & Z Aquatics

UPMMAS club tank