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Oyster Reef Ecosystem Tank

Discussion in 'Brackish' started by Chasmodes, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Quarantine is boring when it comes to watching my fish. Plus, my worry gauge is double what it normally is. That said, the fish are all doing fine. They look healthy, they're eating, they establish and maintain pecking orders, and defend territories, albeit zip tied pieces of PVC pipe. They were very skittish the first week and a half, but now respond to me during feeding time and don't flee during that time or during water changes, testing or treatment of meds. I guess that they're used to it. I have to wonder if any spawning activity will occur. Has anyone had that happen in QT while treating diseases?

    Regarding the treatment and disease status, the fish have completely stopped scratching since about the fourth day of treatment, and the white film and spots on the fish are gone. They all look fat and healthy, breathing looks normal. So, to be safe, I'll have them at least in QT for 2 more weeks with copper, then another two weeks for observation after I get rid of the carbon. By that time, the tank should be parasite free, as it would be fallow for six weeks. I'm 1/3 of the way there, and so far so good.

    The display tank is also a bit boring, although it is interesting to see more of the invertebrates than when fish are in there, specifically the crabs and bristle worms. The white thing is definitely a tube anemone and only fully extends after dark. When I turn the lights on, it draws back into a hole in the oyster shell. More jellyfish budding polyps have shown up on the same shells as the small anemones, if that is what they are. They could be another jellyfish species budding polyp, but I haven't seen any long tentacled jellies swimming around the tank. I have seen the short tentacled ones from what I know are the budding polyps, floating around in my tank. It's pretty cool, but I think that my power filters kill them off.

    Some of the tunicates died off, but about a dozen of them are still alive and feeding. The mussels are still alive as are the barnacles and open up to feed when I add plankton. But overall, the DT is a bit boring without the fish, although the grass shrimp constantly cruise the tank without the fish in there. I had one shrimp commit suicide as I found it on my tank top glass. I can't figure out how it jumped out of the only tiny hole, but it did.

    I only put the lights on for 4 hours a day, and cyano and other hair algae species have died way back, as have some of the other light dependent life, perhaps dinoflagellates? So the tank water is gin clear and the tank looks really clean. One month to go, and all will return to normal.

    So, what happens then? I will work on the big tank for sure, but also keep the 20g long QT tank set up just for that purpose, with the mummichogs to keep the tank bacterial population going and use it for new collections. I will use the 20g high for invertebrate collections as an observation tank, keeping it fishless and fallow, so that any invertebrates, shells, or anything else becomes parasite free before adding it to the display tank. And once the 100g is set up, the 20g long DT will become a macro tank, most likely for sticklebacks and other weed loving bay critters. All of my current fish will go into the 100g oyster reef tank.

    Future stocking list additions to the fish that I have now will include a hogchoker, a few more striped blennies, maybe one to three feather blennies, maybe some sheepshead minnows, perhaps a porcupinefish, and hopefully a tropical stray spotfin butterflyfish. My goal is to catch them all, but, I may have to purchase the last one if I don't have any luck finding any.

    I'm so happy that the QT process is going well so far. My nerves will be much more calm when I can return all of the fish to their oyster reef home.
     
  2. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Here is the display tank, fishless (fallow) as it looks today. I keep the lights off but save a few hours each day and have reduced feeding to a tiny bit of flakes each day plus bottled plankton 3x per week, so much of the hair algae and cyano has greatly reduced:
    [​IMG]

    Video updates:
    First video of the QT, fish are doing well, doing what they do but in a pretty much sterile, copper treated environment with PVC pipes zipped tied for hiding spots:


    I'm pretty sure that this is a small tube anemone. It is bigger than the jellyfish polyps but smaller than the Ghost anemone. This guy is growing though, about 2x the size that it was when I first found it. It retreats to hide when I turn on the lights, so it is light sensitive. I may flip the oyster shell over once so it stays out when the lights come on, not sure yet. I doubt it is a worm, because it has too many tentacles, and don't seem feather like as most filter feeding worm tentacles appear.


    with the fish out of the display tank, the invertebrates and far less shy. Bristle worms come out to play a lot more these days. I believe that this species is commonly known as a clam worm. Here is one out foraging. I have yet to see one attack anything. They have a pretty nasty proboscis and will bite if handled (like bloodworms) but they seem to be very skittish. Even grass shrimp spook them, as you can see at the end of this video. I find them quite fascinating to watch. I'd say that I saw perhaps a half dozen different ones out at various times. There are many more tough, because there were at least a dozen that I could see along the edge of the tank glass in their burrows that never came out.


    Remember the tiny anemones that I thought that I had? Well, they never seem to grow any bigger than what I can see enough of with a magnifying glass. So, I have been observing more and more, looked at this video, and then researched, and found that they also are moon jellyfish polyps, just a different stage (before budding). So, I'd say I have about a dozen either budding or non-budding polyp moon jellyfish in my tank.


    Here's another moon jellyfish polyp:
     
  3. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Update on my brackish tanks:
    In the 20g Long display tank, which is fallow, I finally got a good video of what I was trying to ID earlier, and I'm pretty sure it is a ghost anemone, but still could be a tube anemone. I'll have to study more about both to determine this. But, it's not a worm, definitely a cniderian. I am also ruling out that this is a jellyfish polyp, because it's much larger than those, and is growing, and has not changed to a budding polyp. It has been there for a long time also. Also, in the video, I found a small tunicate that I hadn't seen before just to the left of the anemone. I think that my tunicates are reproducing. This is the second one that I've found. I need to go back and look at older pics and vids to determine if this was there before or not.

    Also, the ghost anemone wasn't doing well in the 20g high. All of a sudden, it wasn't attached to anything, its tentacles were withdrawn, and it looked a bit withered. I did a water change and it looked a little better for a while, but then became detached again. So, I took the opportunity, since it wasn't attached, to move it to the 20g long display tank. It is attached to a shell now and is doing much better. The tentacles haven't fully extended yet, but the main body and overall health looks much better. I've wanted to move this creature to the display tank for a long time.


    The fish are in their last week of copper treatment, and are doing well. They're eating and look very healthy. After the last day of treament, then I will do water changes and add carbon to get rid of the copper. After that, I'll observe them in QT for a few weeks until the display tank fallow period ends, and then they get to go home.
     
  4. SnakeIce

    SnakeIce AC Members

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    You have more fish than I realized, and the invertebrate activity is the sort of thing that interests me in brackish or saltwater. Is that the sort of fish density in the wild or did you have to go a bit wider area to find all those fish?
     
  5. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Thanks Snakeice! This is pretty much what you'd expect on an oyster reef with all three species of fish as far as density goes. The more empty oyster shells around and hiding spots, the more fish occupy them. All of the blennies and skilletfish were collected near Kent Island, 3 different locations. We caught plenty of gobies there too, but I had 5 from Point Lookout already in the tank and didn't want to add any more. Sometimes when you scoop with the dipnet, you might get 3 of one species in one haul, or several of all species. When I set up the 100g version of this build, I imagine having 12-15 blennies, maybe 8 of each skilletfish and gobies. I'd like to add a hogchoker, a spotfin butterflyfish (if I'm lucky to find one), or a striped burrfish. When that tank is up and running, then I'll convert the 20g long to a less aggressive tank, perhaps seahorses, pipefish and sticklebacks.

    A couple more videos:

    The fallow display tank:


    A couple Harris Mud Crabs (Rhithropanopeus harrisii), one of two species in the tank. I always thought that these were a nasty muddy brown when collecting them in the field, but in a tank, they "clean up" really nice, and I find them quite attractive. They are very secretive though, but during the fallow period, when the fish are away, the crabs will play.
     
  6. Sploke

    Sploke resident boozehound
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    this is a fantastic thread. Out of curiosity, what are you using for filtration on your QT tank?
     
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  7. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Thank you Matt!

    I'm using a hang on back power filter rated for up to 40g, with a foam insert. I also added a bag of ceramic filter media to help with ammonia/nitrite control. I was careful to choose filter media that won't absorb copper, but would instead create a nice environment for biological filtration.

    I also transferred a sponge filter from one of my display tanks when I set up the QT to help with cycling and add bacteria. I added an air stone for additional circulation, which is important when using copper.

    To aid in cycling, I dumped in the rest of a bottle of bottled bacteria that I had. It helped, but I still had to keep up with water changes, every other day at first, then weekly, now once every two weeks. The tank has fully cycled, and I'm measuring zero ammonia and only a tiny trace amount of nitrite, almost zero.
     
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  8. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    I had a minor setback the other day in QT. I saw one of the gobies scratching. I used to think that this behavior was at times due to an itch in general, not necessarily a parasitic symptom. But, I've since reconsidered that philosophy, and I now think that it's almost always because of a parasite.

    I've been using Cuprimine, and at the time that I purchased it, I also bought a copper test kit from API. Since then, I've read that the API kit doesn't accurately measure Cuprimine for some reason, but I went ahead anyway and dosed based on the directions, and tested with the kit. The kit has been measuring consistently the same thing after my final dosing of Cuprimine, and until the other day, parasitic symptoms disappeared.

    As a result, and based on what I read about the API kit, I went out in search of kits at local fish stores and the only one most of them carry is the API kit. The info that I had was that the Seachem and Salifert kits are better, and the best is an expensive test kit that you can only get on line. I'd rather not go expensive, and I thought it would be faster to find either of the other kits at a LFS...not so easy.

    Well, yesterday, I found the Salifert kit at a LFS in the Baltimore area after a doctor's appointment that I had up there. I got home and measured, and sure enough, the dosage was a bit below the therapeutic level, so I upped the dose by adding 5 drops more last night, and five more today. I will measure again tonight, and keep doing that until I reach the therapeutic level, and then the countdown begins again for treatment. This time, I'll keep them at this level for three weeks.

    They're still eating and active, so far so good with that. I haven't seen any more scratching, so that is good. The QT is also more than 10' away from the nearest tank.
     
  9. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    The tank is doing well, as is the QT process. All of the fish are eating well and active, but they seem more aggressive right now. I'm not sure if it is due to breeding behavior, or just stress from a QT environment. As far as the fallow display tank, I found a third anemone on the underneath side of the oyster shell that the second anemone adopted as home. I thought earlier that they were tube anemones, but now I think that all three of them are ghost anemones. The one that seemed in poor health that I moved from the 20g high to this tank seems very healthy again. Here is a video of it below, sorry for the poor quality. I'll try and get a better shot of it in the future. The anemone moved from a razor clam across about 3" of sand to the base of the largest oyster cultch, and has stayed there ever since.


    I also found another unidentified invertebrate. I think it is some type of worm, but I'm not sure. It has moved to another oyster shell since this video, so it's not completely sessile. Here's a video of it:


    Most of the tunicates died off, but 3 of the larger original ones are hanging in there and seem to be healthy. I have two "new" ones that I've found that seem to be juveniles, about 1/4" wide now, one that I've found on an older oyster shell that I collected and also one on my cultch, which leads me to believe that they reproduced in my tank. The grass shrimp, mussels, barnacles, and the many bristleworms are also doing well.
     
  10. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Looky what I found in my tank?



    This little snail shows up 6 months after my last collecting trip. I never saw any evidence of snails in either of my tanks. Last night, I saw it feeding on the side glass of the tank. It is tiny, and at first, I thought it was just a gas bubble from algal growth on the glass, but it moved... So, I zoomed in with the camera, and saw it was a gastropod, and took the video. I have no idea what species this is, and I assume it's a grazer.

    Why is this a big deal? I keep finding life in the tank that I haven't seen before, like this snail, and the third anemone that I didn't know that I had. Where the heck did this guy come from? I was wondering if things can be introduced via bottled store bought plankton? Anyone know? I've tried several kinds, the latest being Reef Nutrition Oyster Feast and phytoplankton...
     

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