Aquascape For Fish Health

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Paul B

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As I sit here self quarantining myself I have a lot of time to look at and ponder my tank. As I study it from the front and the back which I just scraped clean just to do something I noticed something that we rarely speak about.


We normally make our aquascape to look like something pleasing to us. But how do we know if the fish like it? After all, they have to live in it.

I think my fish absolutely love their home and if they had thumbs, they would be giving me the "Thumbs Up" sign.


Most of us (no one here I am sure) certainly look very ugly and scary to our fish and remember they can see us as well as we see them. They can also see our homes, TV, sock drawer kitchen etc. When we eat fish, I put a blanket over the tank so they don't get the horrors.


Anyway, I designed my aquascape with so many caves, nooks and crannies that I have some fish that I see maybe a couple of times a year. That may not be good for me but one fish that I saw maybe once a year lived almost undetected for 18 years. A Brutlyd or 6" cusk eel and I killed it by accident when I took out a rock and didn't know he was there.


Fish need to feel secure and if you can see them, they know it and don't feel safe. PVC pipes and flowerpots do not cut it and you may as well shoot those poor fish as they hate that. That is one big reason so many fish die in quarantine. It isn't their perceived disease, it is their surroundings.


My entire reef structure is built on a base which I built out of cement and the thing sits roughly about 1 1/2" off the gravel.

I can see the back of the tank under the reef almost everywhere and in that under space is an interconnected catacomb system where a fish the size of a mid sized copperband butterfly can hide while traveling from one end of the 6' tank to the other.


After cleaning the back of the tank a couple of days ago I discovered that I have two rainsford gobies, 2 green clown gobies, 2 six line wrasses, 2 possum wrasses, 2 gecko gobies and a pistol shrimp.

I didn't realize I had two of those fish because of all the hiding places I never see both of them at the same time.


You may not like this, but the fish do, which is one reason they only die of old age.


If you do any diving you will notice that there are very few, if any fish that will let you get with in a few feet of them before they hide. Great white sharks are one that let you get very close and personnel. :eek:


Fish like Hippo tangs love to jam themselves into a tight space just to have some "personnel" time which is why if you see them in a bare tank, they will be behind the heater. Mine is hiding right now and if I had to find him, I probably couldn't.

My 7" Janss Pipefish rests laying up side down on the top of a cave and my 2 Gecko Gobies have found such a secure place that I can say I never see them. I know they are there because if I "shoot" some live worms into their hole, I get to see a glimmer of a fin or tail.


This system of caves (not just one or two) and hidden passageways is crucial for many fishes health and one big reason we have a disease forum because fish that can't hide are very stressed and stressed fish are the ones that get sick.

I myself am writing this from under a chair right now. :eek:


This piece I built from real rock, dead coral and cement. This and two more like it form the base of my reef structure.


 
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Eggs

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I always aquascape keeping in mind the fish need for a safe zone to hide and sleep.
Using the same logic when adding a new fish, I ask myself are there some vacancies in the tank for a new fish.

I was recently impressed that a new Blackcap Basslet moved into the former apartment created and vacated by a Blue-Spotted Jawfish.
A Happy ending.
 
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Jordan Prather

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This is something I always think about when I see these super "minimalistic" tanks. Sure they look nice fish have room to swim but they have nowhere in the tank to hide and feel secure. When I designed my tank I put the fish first (caves, tunnels, safezone) and I think the fish seem content with what I did. Only issue I didnt leave good real estate for coral so I will be redoing it and trying to find a better balancing point. I also go against the norm and have 2 rocks in my qt tank the fish act more natural having natural hiding places which leads to less stress while trying to get them healthy to go into the main tank.
 

mfollen

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Agreed. I don’t how many new tanks I see with no adequate caves or half the tank is a flat table top rock with an open bottom side.

Without refuge fish are constantly stressed, and then sick.

and the table top is just so ugly and unnatural sorry...
 

Auquanut

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How ironic is it that Paul B is quarentining himself!
Uhm... Don't know what to say to that. Not really the same thing, but huh. Weird how things come about. :)
 

Zeal

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E4BF6E23-E77C-47B7-B0E7-7B64A7C7C187.jpeg

well now I wonder if this is ok for my fish... I just started up this Red Sea 170. I have some rock left that I could maybe glue together And add more arches or things around the base

eventually it’s going to be a mixed reef
 
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Paul B

Paul B

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How ironic is it that Paul B is quarentining himself!
I am also fresh water dipping myself. But I have plenty of hiding places, eat lots of fresh seafood, drink clean water and I have a great immune system.

I also don't take any medications (so far) ;Bucktooth And I have no spots. ;Happy
 
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Dbichler

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Absolutely necessary I have 10 fish in my 210 and cant see any when I get too close to fast and have to search for them when lights go out.
 
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Paul B

Paul B

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I think a lot of people make the mistake of buying, or collecting rock and stacking it in their tank. I think that is a totally wrong approach.
When they collect rock in the sea they throw it up on a barge. Doing that breaks off all the cool looking protrusions so we get roundish, un interesting, few holes rock.

We can easily make it much better for almost free. That picture of conglomerate rock I pictured at the beginning of this thread is about 3' long.
It was simply built by cementing together using Mortar, like you use for bricks smaller pieces of rock and dead coral skeletons.
It spans half my tank and only touches the gravel in 3 small places. I have three of those home made rocks which support my entire reef.

My original plan was to build the entire thing supported from above on cables and it would have been able to be raised and lowered. I didn't have the time to do that but imagine being able to raise your entire reef structure a few inches for maintenance or just looking for a creature.
I think that would be so cool. But it didn't happen.
Here is another piece in my tank. It is about 18" long. You can't correctly build hiding places with tunnels using small pieces of rock. It just can't work.

 

ScottR

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I’m sending Paul B a stack of pennies for his quarantine bath. He’ll understand ;)

I like to stack live rock on live rock. I can’t find a single fish when the lights go out. They each go to their nook and cranny. And when I feed, they slip out through the rocks like champs. Hiding places are key to long term survival. I’ve never lost a fish that hasn’t made it past a week.
 

Brew12

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All of my smaller fish no longer use the rocks for hiding. Now they hide in the coral that has grown in enough to provide shelter. I think this is another great reason to start stocking a tank slowly, especially if you want plenty of room for coral to grow. You can get away with minimal rock work with a few caves for bigger fish. The tank will mature in both its biological ability to house fish, and provide the apartment space they need to feel safe.
 

Sallstrom

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I think aquascape, and even more, tank size, is overlooked when it comes to survival rate of new fish.

I've seen fish spawning a couple of hours after being added to a large reef tank(after being in a bag for 24+ hours). That was a 10000L tank full of rocks and corals. And one quarter of the water volume was behind a background. Not one of the fish ever looked even a bit nervous in that tank. They knew that had a lot of safe places to hide if they needed, so they were out swimming. Thinking about it, the Wetmorella wrasse was shy.. Only saw it once a month.. But all the others were not! :D
 

Lindaanne60

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E4BF6E23-E77C-47B7-B0E7-7B64A7C7C187.jpeg

well now I wonder if this is ok for my fish... I just started up this Red Sea 170. I have some rock left that I could maybe glue together And add more arches or things around the base

eventually it’s going to be a mixed reef
Needs more caves and hiding places on bottom. Not quite so high. maybe you could do a lower scape and use some shelf rock.
 

atoll

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I have been saying this almost as long as Paul, but he is a month or so older than me. Most fish can't aqua scape to the point of a home they would like, there are however a few exceptions.

So many reefers build their reefscape to look pretty with form over function as fas as fish are concerned. Now to a couple of species of fish that might be fine but then the aquarist puts in a while lot of fish that the pretty aquascape does not suit. In fact I would go so far as to say they put fish in a totally uncomfortable and unsuitable environment for many.

Most of my fish are small and either live in my reefscape or stay relatively close to it as they are found in nature in their natural environment minus the predators of course. I stay clear of tangs and large angelfish as they are reef roamers not so much reef dwellers.

Nature has the answers as to how to keep our fish and it's not so difficult to create a reefscape for them, well the small reef dealers anyway. If you provide an environment close as possible to what mother nature provides then you wont go far wrong.

OK, so we can only provide a small portion of what a typical reef may look like and all reefs aren't the same but we can do a pretty good job of it and your fish will thank you for it. Not sure they will buy you a beer but being happy, stress free, healthy, living a long life and spawning is a pretty good reward in my book.
 
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Paul B

Paul B

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Since I have a lot more time now, like everyone else, I scraped the back of my tank clean. I was never able to see anything back there but Now I see there is a huge systems of interconnecting caves where many of the fish and crustaceans that I rarely see, hang out.

Now I spend more time in the back of the tank than the front.
These Rainsford gobies always stay on opposite ends of my 6' tank. But I see they get together in the back to hang out and I think they are spawning.



I have 2 of these Sunburst Anthius and they also don't seem to get along. One stays in a small cave in the front and I rarely know where the other one is. Now I see they both hang out in the back.
I don't think they are spawning yet, but they are young.



This Janss Pipefish I also rarely see, but now I know where he hides.



This female Bluestripe is also there constantly trying to spawn with the much larger Janss. I think this is impossible and probably illegal.


This Perchlet also lives there.


1585914255288.gif 1585914255442.gif
 

Katrina71

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I have a love affair with the little guys too. Trying to pay close attention to scape in the Miracle tank. Working on specific structures with lots of escape routes and hiding places. Planning from the smallest occupant on up. I'd love to see some pics of your PVC...I like the idea. Btw, I eat crab sushi in front of my tank when my big hermit (Jenny Craig) bulldozes coral frags just to remind her how things could end.
 
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