Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reef Biotope Tank

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Chasmodes

Chasmodes

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Well, I was wrong about another thing about my tank. The "missing" skilletfish that I hadn't seen in a week, was on the glass near the other two skilletfish that were waiting patiently for me to feed them. This particular skilletfish wasn't interested in any of the food that I dropped into the tank. It's as if it couldn't see the food. Yet, it looked fat and healthy. I don't get it. It must be eating. Maybe bristleworms? Anyway, I'm relieved that it's still alive and seemingly well, but concerned about it shunning the food that I drop in. Maybe it eats leftovers off the bottom later.

Also, I hadn't see any jellyfish polyps since I broke down the tank, until this morning. I went down, before my tank light comes on, and shined a flashlight along the bottom to see if I could find the anemone, and lo and behold, on the sand bed nearby, were a colony of jellyfish polyps. I scanned a bit to the left, not far from where the anemone was, and saw tentacles. More anemones? Or, was this the same one that moved? Weird. Just plain weird, but cool, at the same time. I'll try and get a picture.

I took a close up video last night of the blenny eggs. They're probably going to hatch soon. If you look closely in the video, you can see the eyes in each egg, at least the ones toward the front of the oyster shell. I also like when the blenny returns to tend the eggs and hang out of the oyster shell. You can really see the detail in the coloration and structure of his head.

 
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While searching for the anemone that I saw a few days ago, I found more anemones. There are three small ones, as it turns out. The first anemone must be buried. In an earlier post, I thought that the blennies killed off the ghost anemones, but, apparently, the original two not only survived, but have reproduced. I find that fascinating.

I took a video. The first half of the video shows the three small anemones. Then, I pan right to the jellyfish polyp colony. I have since found another jellyfish polyp colony to the right of those.

Again, I quote Ian Malcolm (of Jurassic Park) - "Life uh...finds a way..."

 
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This morning, I went down with my flashlight and magnifying glass to see what was active before the lights were on, looking for that first anemone. I found it, plus the three in the video...but...there are actually four in the video! And, I found another one on the other side of the tank, making it 6 anemones! Man oh man, have they ever reproduced!
 
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Chasmodes

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Everyone's probably sick of my tank by now with all of my updates, but, I can't help it. I love it and want to share it LOL.

The skilletfish that disappeared and then reappeared died. I found the half eaten carcass floating at the surface. The blennies and other skilletfish looked pretty fat! They still ate like pigs when I fed them. When it was alive, it had no signs of disease. I just stopped eating.

Here's a video update. The fish were a bit skittish this time, not sure why.
 

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Everyone's probably sick of my tank by now with all of my updates, but, I can't help it. I love it and want to share it LOL.

The skilletfish that disappeared and then reappeared died. I found the half eaten carcass floating at the surface. The blennies and other skilletfish looked pretty fat! They still ate like pigs when I fed them. When it was alive, it had no signs of disease. I just stopped eating.

Here's a video update. The fish were a bit skittish this time, not sure why.

I definitely am not sick of this tank - I really liked the expression at 2:43! Sorry to hear about the skilletfish. I have definitely found inspiration in this tank and have read and reread your thread while thinking about putting together my own 55g biotype oyster reef with Tampa Bay natives. Please keep the updates and videos coming!
 
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Thanks P.R., will do. The blennies always amaze me with their antics and also how tough they are when the males defend their oyster shells, but how timid they are when they invade another one's area. Once in a while, both become bold and they battle it out. The female is one tough cookie too. She only chases other species, but she can take the abuse the other males dish out, and keeps on doing what she wants to do. There are days when I feel lazy and only want to drop in some food and go back to doing something else, but every time I get to the tank, I wind up watching it for an hour or more!

Good luck with your oyster reef build. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

BTW, the Tampa area should have a good mix of blenny and goby species. You should be in oyster reef heaven there!
 
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Everyone's probably sick of my tank by now with all of my updates,

Definitely not. I had honestly forgotten about this tank so I'm looking forward to going back and reading through the posts that I missed :)
 
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Thank you smartwater101!

Last night, I knew that I had to go downstairs and feed the fish. I got home from work and was dog tired. I ate dinner, fell asleep watching TV, and work up at 11 PM. I thought that I'd just go down, drop some food in, and go back to sleep. Instead, before feeding the fish, I started watching them. The males were all out, flashing, trying to herd the female towards their oyster shell. I ran back upstairs to get my phone to film it. By the time I got downstairs, all that activity stopped. So, I waited a bit, the decided to film anyway. Next time, I'll bring my phone with me the first time, and catch that excitement to share with you all. Anyway, I fed them, and watched them some more, and didn't get outta there until 12:30 AM. I lost the sleep that I made up earlier! I just couldn't get enough of watching them. My lights are set on a timer, so if it wasn't for them, I might have been up until 3 AM watching them, LOL. Anyway, what happened last night was kind of the reason that I wrote what I wrote, about being excited about the tank. Yet, I was sort of disinterested in it until I actually went downstairs. I kind of scare myself about that. I need to be enthusiastic about it when I'm away from it. Crazy, huh?
 
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The male striped blennies are very bold. When I search the tank with my magnifying glass, the blenny that defends the left side of the tank often charges me, trying to scare me away from his territory. I've always wanted to catch it on film. Until last night, he was the only one that did it.

Last night, I was trying to zoom in and film the anemones in the sand at the front, center, of the tank near the glass. The male blenny that guards the back/middle of the oyster reef charged out and tried to attack me and the camera! I caught it on film, however, he was way out of focus and it looked like a big blur. So, I focused the camera on him, and tried to coax him to do it again. Only, this time, although he didn't charge all the way to the glass, it still turned out pretty cool. This video captures that event. This might be my favorite of the blenny videos that I made!

 
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Last night, I was able to catch some really cool spawning activity on the video. One of male blennies was able to successfully herd the female blenny into a shell to spawn. He worked hard to get her there, but, he did it. The only problem was, it wasn't his favorite shell that he was hoping to herd her into. Still, it was really cool watching how he did it, and, I captured it on film. Also, to make this video even more interesting, another male blenny attacked the camera again, this time, an all out attack! Yesterday's vid was my favorite, but this one blows it away. I hope y'all like it!

 

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For anyone remotely interested in Blennys this video is a must see!!! ;Watching This is awesome and destined to be a classic! ;Woot ;Woot ;Woot

I watched this several times and was absolutely fascinated - thanks for sharing and great job on capturing the action!
 
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I've got three videos to share for this update:

This first one is only 16 seconds long, and shows three of the anemones that I've found recently in the tank. Not long ago, I thought that all of the anemones died off. When I first discovered that they survived and reproduced a few weeks ago, I counted six. I counted a dozen last night. They're small, so I had to zoom all the way in with my iPhone, which made the video a bit shaky.

This next video is about a minute long, and showcases the male skilletfish (Gobiesox strumosus). This is the same male that was guarding eggs at the back of the tank in the previous video. He's since moved to the front of the tank and has established this clam shell as his new territory.

This last video showcases both naked gobies (Gobiosoma bosc) and skilletfish. I wanted to show more of them since most of my recent videos focused on the blennies so much. A blenny makes a cameo appearance at the end of the video. The video pans back and forth between the two species, and starts out following a couple male naked gobies posturing for territorial dominance. Later in the video, I captured the male skilletfish trying to coax the female skilletfish into his shell. This takes place after feeding time, so the tank substrate is still a bit messy. This vid is a little longer at 5 minutes.

I hope that y'all enjoy them.
 

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Long term have you been able to keep the seaweed species healthy? 5 or 6 years ago I made a Long Island Sound tank in a 75 gallon and kept numerous local fish species, but i could not keep seaweed (rock weed, sea lettuce) alive, Im wondering if this because I was not using RO water now. Do you use RO or anything to keep plant species alive?
 
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Long term have you been able to keep the seaweed species healthy? 5 or 6 years ago I made a Long Island Sound tank in a 75 gallon and kept numerous local fish species, but i could not keep seaweed (rock weed, sea lettuce) alive, Im wondering if this because I was not using RO water now. Do you use RO or anything to keep plant species alive?

I bet that was a cool tank! What fish and inverts did you keep in there?

I haven't been able to keep green plants alive other than a couple species of hair algae. I kept some Gracilaria alive for almost a year before I tossed it out. I have a few small pieces still alive in the tank, but, it grows very slowly. I don't currently use RO/DI water, and am using well water. But, I don't think that's the problem. I'm sure that the minerals in my well water combined with the high nutrient bioload from the animals in the tank may be adequate to grow macroalgae, such as Ulva and Gracilaria. The lighting on this current tank is inadequate. With better lighting, I know that the Gracilaria, Ulva and other macros will take off.

The only sea grass species that I've tried is widgeon grass. I haven't tried eel grass, but would like to. My attempts at keeping widgeon grass failed. But, I've read that if you collect sea grasses with roots and substrate, have adequate lighting and nutrients, that it will survive in an aquarium. There is a reefer on another site that has a thread titled, "weeds" that keeps macros and manatee grass, and the grasses and macros are thriving. He doses CO2, uses metal halide lighting, used potting soil under his sand and gravel for nutrients, and doses ammonia now and then, and he's done quite well long term. So, it can be done. I'd love to keep eel grass, but widgeon grass is common where I collect, and probably makes for a better biotope. I have an RO/DI unit that I need to install, and build my water changing station, so maybe it will help keep cyano and hair algae down. If anything, the well water just allows to the wrong plants to thrive in the poor light because they also got there first, and outcompete the desirable plants. I also purchased a really good lighting sytem for my larger tank build. So, when I build that tank, I'm considering the potting soil method, dosing CO2 (eventually) and see if I can get the widgeon grass to grow. More to come on this topic in the future. I need to get the larger tank up and running!
 
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I bet that was a cool tank! What fish and inverts did you keep in there?

I haven't been able to keep green plants alive other than a couple species of hair algae. I kept some Gracilaria alive for almost a year before I tossed it out. I have a few small pieces still alive in the tank, but, it grows very slowly. I don't currently use RO/DI water, and am using well water. But, I don't think that's the problem. I'm sure that the minerals in my well water combined with the high nutrient bioload from the animals in the tank may be adequate to grow macroalgae, such as Ulva and Gracilaria. The lighting on this current tank is inadequate. With better lighting, I know that the Gracilaria, Ulva and other macros will take off.

The only sea grass species that I've tried is widgeon grass. I haven't tried eel grass, but would like to. My attempts at keeping widgeon grass failed. But, I've read that if you collect sea grasses with roots and substrate, have adequate lighting and nutrients, that it will survive in an aquarium. There is a reefer on another site that has a thread titled, "weeds" that keeps macros and manatee grass, and the grasses and macros are thriving. He doses CO2, uses metal halide lighting, used potting soil under his sand and gravel for nutrients, and doses ammonia now and then, and he's done quite well long term. So, it can be done. I'd love to keep eel grass, but widgeon grass is common where I collect, and probably makes for a better biotope. I have an RO/DI unit that I need to install, and build my water changing station, so maybe it will help keep cyano and hair algae down. If anything, the well water just allows to the wrong plants to thrive in the poor light because they also got there first, and outcompete the desirable plants. I also purchased a really good lighting sytem for my larger tank build. So, when I build that tank, I'm considering the potting soil method, dosing CO2 (eventually) and see if I can get the widgeon grass to grow. More to come on this topic in the future. I need to get the larger tank up and running!

More awesome videos and content!

For sea grasses, you may want to look at refugium mud (either purchased or from your local sawgrass beds) to add to the base two inches of your sand bed. Most sea grasses want at least 4-6 inches of a sand bed substrate.
 

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I bet that was a cool tank! What fish and inverts did you keep in there?

I haven't been able to keep green plants alive other than a couple species of hair algae. I kept some Gracilaria alive for almost a year before I tossed it out. I have a few small pieces still alive in the tank, but, it grows very slowly. I don't currently use RO/DI water, and am using well water. But, I don't think that's the problem. I'm sure that the minerals in my well water combined with the high nutrient bioload from the animals in the tank may be adequate to grow macroalgae, such as Ulva and Gracilaria. The lighting on this current tank is inadequate. With better lighting, I know that the Gracilaria, Ulva and other macros will take off.

The only sea grass species that I've tried is widgeon grass. I haven't tried eel grass, but would like to. My attempts at keeping widgeon grass failed. But, I've read that if you collect sea grasses with roots and substrate, have adequate lighting and nutrients, that it will survive in an aquarium. There is a reefer on another site that has a thread titled, "weeds" that keeps macros and manatee grass, and the grasses and macros are thriving. He doses CO2, uses metal halide lighting, used potting soil under his sand and gravel for nutrients, and doses ammonia now and then, and he's done quite well long term. So, it can be done. I'd love to keep eel grass, but widgeon grass is common where I collect, and probably makes for a better biotope. I have an RO/DI unit that I need to install, and build my water changing station, so maybe it will help keep cyano and hair algae down. If anything, the well water just allows to the wrong plants to thrive in the poor light because they also got there first, and outcompete the desirable plants. I also purchased a really good lighting sytem for my larger tank build. So, when I build that tank, I'm considering the potting soil method, dosing CO2 (eventually) and see if I can get the widgeon grass to grow. More to come on this topic in the future. I need to get the larger tank up and running!

I had a skillet fish, juvy sea robins, juvy sea bass, a cunner, a juvy stripped bass, juvy flounder, killifish, a spider crab, chocolate finger mud crabs, asian shore crabs, and I would add shrimp weekly for the fish to eat. I would keep the stripers and sea bass only for the summer as they would outgrow the system, I would let them go, but the skillet fish and the juvy sea robins stayed all year round. Took the tank down after 2 years when the skillet fish died, he was my favorite, after that i released all inhabitants when the LIS water temp matched that of my system.

I loved having a local tank, my only regret was I couldnt have a bigger one, In the future I want to build a 500 gallon or so system for local species.
 
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Very cool VSVP. A 500g oyster tank would be awesome. Maybe I can do that some day if I hit the lotto, LOL.

I wasn't going to shoot a video last night, but, I couldn't help it. I saw this male striped blenny (Chasmodes bosquianus) corral a female blenny into his shell. I quickly grabbed my camera to see what happened next. His attempts to keep her in there until he could squeeze in with her were fascinating. After that, they attempted to lay eggs. When it was all over, I'm not sure if they laid any or not, because there may have been eggs in there already. It was a cool attempt though! This is the first time that I've witnessed this stage of blennies spawning. I've seen them corral a female into a shell, and I've seen them afterwards together in a shell, but, not this activity in between. It's a longer video, but, for blenny addicts, it's interesting. I hope you like it.

 
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It's not a very good pic because of the angle that I had to shoot from, but, you can see the eggs that were laid during the filming of that last video. Those eggs were laid in just 11 minutes (the length of the video). I find that amazing.
IMG_1048_zpsfs1oslzp.jpg
 
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Here's a quick peek at a male striped blenny that comes out to attack the camera. You can see some of the spawning coloration, such as the blue spot and yellow/orange streak on the dorsal fin, orange tail, orange trimmed over yellow pectoral fins, orange lips and the orange/peach patch on the operculum.

 
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