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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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    I have some new additions to the oyster reef system in my holding tank shown in the video below. On Saturday, I brought home two small four spined sticklebacks, Apeltes quadracus, two species of Ulva macroalgae, a few more sea squirts and a cluster of mussels, and two beautiful large ghost anemones. When I say large, I mean about as big as they get, about 1.75" wide at the tentacles, and about the same length for the base. These are also not pure white like the others in my display tank. Rather, they have a pinkish hue to them. Here's the video:


    The sticklebacks are feeding on small copepods and amphipods, but ignore my offerings. I guess I'll have to start raising some baby brine shrimp or buy copepods until these fish are big enough to eat the frozen foods. My plan is to keep them in this tank for a while, but move them into quarantine and treat them with copper. At that point, the holding tank (my 20g high), will be for invertebrates and macroalgae, and will remain fallow. After 6 weeks, then I'll move stuff to the display tank. If I go collecting and bring more stuff home, then that clock resets. The point is that I don't want to introduce ich to my display tank.

    Eventually, this summer, I hope, I'll have my big tank set up and all of the fish and invertebrates will move to that tank, except for the sticklebacks. I will keep the 20g long as a stickleback tank, with macroalgae as the dominant aquascape, with perhaps an oyster cultch or two (to be made later).

    After this weekend, all of my fish that are in quarantine will move to the display tank. I had a tragic death on Friday night, however. One of the female blennies went carpet surfing. I have no idea how she got out. My guess is that she jumped through the egg crate top that I had, because there weren't any other openings large enough for her to fit though. Now I'm down to 5 males and one female blennies in the tank.
     
  2. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    I have some new additions to the oyster reef system in my holding tank shown in the video below. On Saturday, I brought home two small four spined sticklebacks, Apeltes quadracus, two species of Ulva macroalgae, a few more sea squirts and a cluster of mussels, and two beautiful large ghost anemones. When I say large, I mean about as big as they get, about 1.75" wide at the tentacles, and about the same length for the base. These are also not pure white like the others in my display tank. Rather, they have a pinkish hue to them. Here's the video:

    The sticklebacks are feeding on small copepods and amphipods, but ignore my offerings. I guess I'll have to start raising some baby brine shrimp or buy copepods until these fish are big enough to eat the frozen foods. My plan is to keep them in this tank for a while, but move them into quarantine and treat them with copper. At that point, the holding tank (my 20g high), will be for invertebrates and macroalgae, and will remain fallow. After 6 weeks, then I'll move stuff to the display tank. If I go collecting and bring more stuff home, then that clock resets. The point is that I don't want to introduce ich to my display tank.

    Eventually, this summer, I hope, I'll have my big tank set up and all of the fish and invertebrates will move to that tank, except for the sticklebacks. I will keep the 20g long as a stickleback tank, with macroalgae as the dominant aquascape, with perhaps an oyster cultch or two (to be made later).

    After this weekend, all of my fish that are in quarantine will move to the display tank. I had a tragic death on Friday night, however. One of the female blennies went carpet surfing. I have no idea how she got out. My guess is that she jumped through the egg crate top that I had, because there weren't any other openings large enough for her to fit though. Now I'm down to 5 males and one female blennies in the tank.
     
  3. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    The fallow period is over and my fish are not out of QT and back into the display tank. While in QT, they were pretty much doing the same territorial chases that they've always done, defending their favorite piece of PVC pipe. But, after a few days in the display tank, the males established homes in their favorite oyster shells and really colored up into their spawning colors, pretty much like the one that I caught last week. Not only that, they're defending their 6" of space, all the while chasing, flashing, and harassing the female, I guess, to breed. It's weird though, like a love-hate relationship. They get all fired up and flash when they see here, then they both display side by side and shake (mostly the male), then he chases her away. Only, all of the males are after her like this. Her tail has been pecked a lot, and at one point was almost down to the caudal peduncle, but has since grown back some.

    The male spawning coloration includes a bright blue spot on the dorsal fin as well as a dark stripe and a yellowish/orange stripe along the front half of the fin. Also, they darken up their entire bodies almost to the point that their stripes fade away, their fins become tinted with orange, their pelvic and anal fins darken up and are trimmed with a white and black border, and their cheeks become and orange or peach color. You can really see this in the video that I'm posting below. That bright blue spot is quite pretty. The males are about 3.5 to 4 inches long now. In the six weeks that they were in QT, they grew quite a bit. It's hard to believe that it was less than a year ago that all of the fish were less than an inch and a half long.

    The female remains in the juvenile coloration, mottled with vertical bars and faint horizontal variable stripes. She is the smallest fish in the tank at 2.75 inches, but she is tough as nails.

    In this video, there are two scenes of a pair of males sparring over territory, presumably over a potential place to spawn and guard eggs. The first battle begins at the 3:30 mark, and the second one at the 5:02 mark. The video finishes showing the object of their affection, a female striped blenny.
     
  4. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    Tank update: I noticed that the fish in the 20g long were breathing heavily, mostly due to constantly defending their territories, but after a couple water changes to clean up detritus, I decided to also add an airstone. I also cleaned the HOB filter and powerhead and now there is much more flow. As a result, the fish are out much more and much more photogenic. While cleaning the filter, I discovered several tunicates in there, and also some inside some of the oyster shells. My original ones all died, so I assume that these are progeny. The three small anemones disappeared since I added the fish. I don't know if the fish killed and ate them, or if they simply moved or are hiding. In fact, all of the invertebrates except for the shrimp rarely come out (crabs, worms, etc.). Their vacation is over! Time for some pics...

    Full Tank Shot
    [​IMG]

    Male striped blennies battle over oysters and the lone female. The blenny that I dubbed "King" is on the left. He pretty much rules the roost but the one on the right holds his own and sometimes wins these battles
    [​IMG]
    The next couple pictures show King sporting his spawning colors: the bright blue dorsal fin spot, the dark anal fins trimmed in black and white, the yellow/orange dorsal fin stripe, peach colored gills and mouth, and orange trimmed pectoral and tail fins. Notice how dark King gets in the above picture during the standoff.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The object of their affection, the lone female in the tank. Notice the drab coloration. She is quite a bit smaller too. The males chase her constantly, nipping at her, and sometimes shaking their bodies. I suggested to them that they take a nicer approach to courting, but it's hard for them to break bad habits.
    [​IMG]

    King peeking out of his oyster shell that he defends constantly.
    [​IMG]

    I have a couple more cool videos and will post them as soon as I can.
     
  5. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    My blennies spawned, probably on Friday. I didn't see the spawning activity, but was wondering why I wasn't seeing one of the largest males. The reason he wasn't out and about was because he was guarding eggs. He does make quick trips to come out to eat during feeding time, but goes back and forth between the oyster shell and the food.

    Here's a pic of him guarding the eggs. You can see the eggs and also the female to the right hanging out. He is tolerant of her, but still chases her off if she hangs out too long.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a pic of the shell and eggs that he left to chase off another fish:
    [​IMG]

    Here is a cool video of him guarding the eggs. There is another male that challenges him, not for his eggs, but rather to defend another oyster shell that he is claiming as territory. This is interesting, because he is somewhat smaller and not even a week ago, but two larger males were picking on him pretty bad. Now he fights back and stands up for himself. My guess is that he's claiming his own spawning location:
     
  6. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes AC Members

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    So the female striped blenny is very brave, despite being smaller than all of the males. She struts about the tank and gets chased and harassed by all of the males. But, she keeps doing her thing. However, sometimes the chasing is more like corralling. Normally, a male will chase and bite her to scare her away, as he does rival males. However, when he wants to breed, he chase, nip, or sometimes push her to get her into his oyster shell, while at the same time positioning his body between her and the escape routes away from his shell, while shaking (flashing), with fins erect and displaying his colors to her. This is an attempt to push her into his oyster shell. I saw this happen a couple nights ago, and ran upstairs to get my phone. But, by the time I had it set on my tripod, another male blenny chased her off. He actually kept her from going near the other male, although probably not on purpose, rather, just to chase her away.
    Meanwhile, another male on the other side of the tank had a different approach. He would just come out of his oyster shell and position himself higher on the reef above her, and kept doing that until she got close to his shell and eventually she would enter. He would follow her in and then she’d shoot out and swim away until this started all over again. He was so close! It was so fun to watch that I was down there from 10 PM until well after 1 AM watching this, trying to get a good video and/or pics. They never seem to behave the way you want when the camera is pointed at them.
    Also, the territorial battles between the males and their shells is fun to watch in itself. Most of the time, the skirmishes are just all show. Sometimes, albeit rarely, they trade bites and even take chunks out of each other’s fins!
    However, last night, I was able to capture some of this drama on film. Instead of one male doing this, three of them were competing for her! One of the males actually pushed her half way across the tank toward his shell, but she got away. I'm not sure if I got that on film or not. It's not in this video, but maybe I caught it in another one. I have to go through those videos to see if I can find if I caught it or not. Anyway, this is the best video of the action so far, especially the first third of the video. I can watch them for hours!
     

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