Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reef Biotope Tank

Discussion in 'Member Tanks' started by Chasmodes, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Here's a blenny pic for today. This is the largest striped blenny in the 20g long tank. It's grown almost a half inch in the last month and is almost 2" long now:
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. chris85

    chris85 Well-Known Member

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    Keep it coming!! Love it.

    As for the things growing out the oyster they might be amphipods. Keep an eye on the end at night with a red light and see if you two little white arms come out kind of like praying mantis arms. They look a lot like a mantis shrimp but really tiny.
     
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  3. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks Chris, I'll check it out tonight. That would be cool!
     
  4. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I've got quite a few changes. First, in the 20g long, I added some red algae and it looks great. Also, the widgeon grass that I put in last time didn't root, so I tossed it. I brought some more home that had some roots and planted it, so we will see. I meant to bring home some substrate but didn't do that. I caught 7 more blennies, kept the three smallest and added them to the tank. I also added more oyster shells to create more hiding places for the additional blennies. I also added more grass shrimp.

    Here is one of the blennies that I brought home:
    [​IMG]

    Here's a FTS of the 20g long:
    [​IMG]

    The red macro and the new widgeon grass:
    [​IMG]

    In the 20g high, I gave away all of the fish. I did, however, bring home the biggest skilletfish that we've caught yet and added it to this tank. It is currently the only fish in the tank, hanging out with a bunch more grass shrimp and three hitchhiker crabs. I also added a big bunch of the red macro and a bunch of Ulva.

    This is the jumbo skilletfish in my photo tank that I brought home and put in the 20g:
    [​IMG]

    Here's a really good view of the specialized fins that the skilletfish (and clingfish) have that allows them to use suction to grip oyster shells, glass, and even fingers ;)
    [​IMG]

    Here's a current look of the 20g high:
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Juvenile striped blenny, Chasmodes bosquianus
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I have a couple updates, one that I meant to say something about last week, as well as something new. I'll start with the new tidbit. A new colony of bryozoans like the snowflake shaped ones that are growing on the right side glass appeared on the left side, almost in the same location. It appears that they prefer the darker areas of the tank. Either that, or I keep scraping them off when I clean the front glass.

    The event that happened last week freaked me out, but I guess that I shouldn't have been all that surprised. Striped blennies are pretty fearless and tough characters in the tank. Even the smallest ones are brave and chase away both the gobies and the skilletfish (although both of the other species will chase them off too at times). But, I never expected this to happen:
    [​IMG]

    It occurred in the 20g high tank. Yep, I lost a juvenile blenny due to skilletfish predation. This medium sized skilletfish ate my blenny!!!! I saw it happen. It wasn't a scavenging event. I couldn't believe it. All of these fish had full bellies. I mentioned last week that I gave all of the fish away from that tank, but this one little blenny was going to move to my 20g long tank. All he had to do was make it one more day.

    Anyway, that is something to keep in mind when keeping skilletfish or similar clingfish. They have large mouths, and, although most of what you read about them says that they eat worms, amphipods, small crustaceans, etc., they will also eat fish, even small more aggressive ones.
     
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  7. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Oh yeah, I forgot, there was more to the story. I actually trapped the skilletfish with the blenny in his mouth against the glass with my hand, so I could see if the blenny was still alive or not. The gills had already stopped moving by that time. I was going to try and free the blenny. But, since it was gone, I just let him eat it. This pic was taken after I released the skilletfish from being pinned against the glass. About 4 hours later, the blenny couldn't be seen and the skilletfish was fatter than fat.... The horror!
     
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  8. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I have some updates on my 20g long. The Ulva is pretty much gone. I'm not sure that the parameters are right from growing macros in this tank (light, etc.), plus, I'm sure that the shrimp and crabs eat some of it. I probably won't add much until I get the main tank set up. I can't tell of the other macro is growing or not. There are some parts that seem to, and others I'm not so sure about. It looks good in the tank still, and provides good cover for the smaller fish, so I'm leaving it in there. The sea grasses have died off, so that experiment ends until I get the main tank set up. I have some cyanobacteria and some green hair algae areas on shells and sand where the most light hits that could be competing with the macros and seagrass for nutrients. Right now, I'm not too worried about this but would like to figure it out prior to setup of the main tank. We will see how that goes. I personally don't think it looks that bad as it still adds color, plus, the crabs and shrimp seem to eat it.

    Both colonies of bryozoans are expanding across the tank glass on either end of my tank, in the darker areas. They look cool.

    One thing that came in handy was the purchase of an automatic feeder to keep my fish fed while I was away on vacation. We couldn't find anyone reliable that new much about fishkeeping, so this was my solution. It worked out OK. The only issue that I anticipated was if the fish would actually adapt to and eat flake food or pellets, since, up until my trip, all they've eaten were live or frozen foods for the most part. My attempts at feeding them flakes were with mixed results. The gobies ate flakes with gusto. Some of the blennies ate the flakes, ingesting some or spitting out some, and other blennies ignored the flakes. The skilletfish ate flakes at times, but not often.

    As far as pellets go, they were a little too big for most of my fish, and for the ones that tried to eat them, they spit them out at first and later kept attacking them until they were bite sized enough to eat them. The blennies broke them up and ate some, and then the gobies would follow behind and eat some of the fragments, while the skilletfish ignored the pellets altogether.

    So, I made the decision to go with flakes in the auto feeder. I had no other choice.

    After returning from my trip, I noticed that all of the fish will eat flakes now. Gobies still eat them with gusto, as do the blennies if they're hungry. If the blennies aren't hungry, they ingest them and sometimes eat some of the "flavors" while spitting out others. Skilletfish will eat flakes at times, but not that much.

    The gobies and blennies all grew and are all fatter than fat. A couple of the gobies grew almost a 1/2" while we were gone (about 10 days), which I thought was amazing.

    Also, I thought that I had only two crabs in the tank, but as it turns out, there are three of them. I've identified two of the crabs as the white-clawed mud crab, a.k.a. the Harris mud crab (Rhithropanopeus harrisii). I'm not sure of the third crab species as it looks different, but, I really haven't had a good look at them. Until now, the crabs have been hiding mostly. Recently, two of them come out during feeding time, and one of those is out foraging even while not feeding. In fact, last night, it was moving all over one of the oyster reef structures all the way to the water's surface.

    From what I've read, they only grow to about an inch or so, and they aren't aggressive toward fish or shrimps. I'd bet they'd eat them if they could catch them, but, so far, I've seen blennies actually land on them and the crabs just move away. They raise their claws if fish near them, but so far, haven't tried to grab any fish. The shrimp seem to be good at avoiding them. I also read that these crabs feast on all types of snails. I don't have snails in my tank at the moment, but if I add them, these will have to be stocked often to keep a population of them.

    Here are a couple videos of my tank.

    The first one pretty much follows the largest blenny of the tank:


    I tried to view the tank in general with this video, bouncing from one fish to another:


    Hope you all like them.
     
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  9. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Here is a video of one of my crabs. I think that this crab is the white-clawed mud crab, a.k.a. the Harris mud crab (Rhithropanopeus harrisii). If this is not correct, I'd appreciate the correct ID. (thanks in advance)

     
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  10. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    We discovered a new critter in my 20g long tank. After feeding some frozen brine shrimp, my daughter noticed a worm-like creature, a little over an inch long, swimming around the glass in the front right corner of the tank, about mid depth. At first, I thought it was a chunk of dead sea grass caught in a current eddy, but nope... Upon closer inspection, it was brownish and had a segmented body, with 2 long antennae or head appendages, and a bunch of legs. It resembled a centipede, so I assumed it was some sort of isopod. It was too fast to get a picture. By the time that I had my phone at the ready, it had scurried back into the oyster reef. It was pretty cool.

    Of course, I had some concern about the potential for parasitism, even though I thought it was probably OK (because if it was a fish parasite, then it would have a host by now especially since it was over an inch long). Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool but it freaked the heck out of my daughter.

    After researching on-line, it looks a lot like the on-line pictures of the elongated eelgrass isopod, Erichsonella attenuata. This species, if correctly ID'd, is not a threat for parasitic activity.

    I will try and get pics and see if anyone can confirm the ID.
     
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  11. vlangel

    vlangel Seahorse whisperer R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award PMAS Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    What a fun tank. I would love to be able to set up a tank from local foraging along a nearby shoreline. Unfortunately I live near Pittsburgh, PA so there are no nearby shorelines :-(.
     
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  12. WilRams

    WilRams Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Very cool tanks!
     
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  13. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I have an update for my oyster reef "system". The 20g long that started this thread is still going strong, with 6 small striped blennies, 5 small skilletfish, 5 naked gobies, two new juvenile killifish (probably juvenile mummichogs), 3 white-clawed mud crabs, an unidentified harmless isopod, a bunch of grass shrimp, and red macroalgae. All of the fish are fat and healthy. I tried to add three silversides but that didn't work out. They made it home just fine, which is what worried me the most. They were about 2 1/2" long and looked great in the tank, until the 2" clingfish killed and ate the first one. Another one was harrassed by the blennies and died, then devoured by the gobies and a crab. And the last one died of unknown causes during the night, probably killed by the same culprits. The only issue with the tank is that with the heavy bioload and feeding, cyanobacteria growing some pretty large patches. I don't think it looks necessarily bad, but I'd rather have those nutrients consumed by Ulva which hasn't done well in this tank.

    The 20g high tank that I was using as a holding tank is now set up as a display also. I added a large artificial oyster cultch that I built for my large tank so that it could also grow life and additional bacteria needed to cycle my large tank when I set it up, in addition to the sand. This tank seems to grow Ulva pretty well. I have a small hang on back power filter and a bubble sponge filter in the tank, and two garage clamp on light fixtures overhead with LED bulbs. Cheap and simple, but it works. Over the weekend, my daughter and I went collecting again and found some inhabitants for this tank. We added 6 adult blennies, 2 jumbo skilletfish, 5 adult naked gobies, and two mummichogs to the tank. We had one jumbo skilletfish, a live barnacle, a bunch of grass shrimp, and 3 mud crabs in the tank prior to adding these. When rearranging the tank and moving the oyster shells around, I discovered that bloodworms were living in the tank. Awesome! A natural food supply! I also discovered a tunicate that is alive and well, and is growing much faster than I thought that they would. I think that the Ulva is really responding to the heavy bioload. I have a little bit of cyano in the tank and some hair algae, but the macros (Ulva and a red algae) are doing well. The fish have only been in the tank for a few days and are already feeding out of my daughter's hand. All of the fish were eating mysis shrimp the night that we introduced them to the tank. All are fat and healthy.

    Here's a video of the blennies in the 20g high (sorry about the music, I figured it was better than hearing our clothes dryer running):


    The water parameters of both tanks are great. No ammonia, no nitrites and very little nitrate, so the bacteria and algae are doing their job.
     
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  14. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Feeding the 20g high. It's like a fish mosh pit...

     
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  15. chris85

    chris85 Well-Known Member

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    Thats awesome whats your salinity at?
     
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  16. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks Chris. Right now, it's at 1.019 sg.
     
  17. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Quick update: the Ulva in the 20g high is doing well. No die off now and seems to be growing. One thing that I noticed that when it dies off, the large "leaves" tend to break apart and get holes in it. That isn't happening in this tank. I'm not sure about the other algae, but it's hanging on. These fish are all tame, almost too tame, because they don't act naturally, always coming to the front for food, even with full bellies after a meal. If I stay still, they kind of forget that I'm there after a while, but if I move or flinch, they come back and chase the glass again. I guess I'll need to build a blind if I want to see them act naturally. What gluttons! But, the good news is that all of the fish are healthy.

    The tunicate is doing well and the barnacle is still alive. I haven't seen any crabs, but I know that three are in there. It is possible that the fish ate them. I guess I'll have to visit the tank at night and view with a red light so I can see what else lives in there that the blennies haven't eaten.

    Here's another feeding video, featuring mostly skilletfish feeding out of my daughter's hand with the others hanging around for dropping morsals.
     
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  18. chris85

    chris85 Well-Known Member

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    Did you start with dry rock? I am pretty sure the ulva is getting eaten by pods that is why you have the holes in it. I have trouble keeping edible algae in my tank because of the bugs. I have noticed that when it dies back the edges crinkle up and some times gets yellow tips. You said you were using the curly q bulbs right? Those worked well for me along with a t8 shop fixture with a 6500k and an actinic bulb but then again that was before I started collecting bugs for my fish. I did put some under a 6500k led floodlight from home depot it got turn from a neon green to a dark green but it got munch up pretty quick. I had some growing in a bucket in the backyard that did well but i killed it from playing around with it to much. I have found that they grow a little better under dimmer light for 14 to 16 hour. It does do better under cooler temps like low to mid 70s. Maybe someone with more experiance will chime. I can't wait till winter time we get all kinds of macro here because the plankton dies back and the macro picks up the slack. Any way I will stop rambling. Keep the post coming love those fish!!
     
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  19. chris85

    chris85 Well-Known Member

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    Did you start with dry rock? I am pretty sure the ulva is getting eaten by pods that is why you have the holes in it. I have trouble keeping edible algae in my tank because of the bugs. I have noticed that when it dies back the edges crinkle up and some times gets yellow tips. You said you were using the curly q bulbs right? Those worked well for me along with a t8 shop fixture with a 6500k and an actinic bulb but then again that was before I started collecting bugs for my fish. I did put some under a 6500k led floodlight from home depot it got turn from a neon green to a dark green but it got munch up pretty quick. I had some growing in a bucket in the backyard that did well but i killed it from playing around with it to much. I have found that they grow a little better under dimmer light for 14 to 16 hour. It does do better under cooler temps like low to mid 70s. Maybe someone with more experiance will chime. I can't wait till winter time we get all kinds of macro here because the plankton dies back and the macro picks up the slack. Any way I will stop rambling. Keep the post coming love those fish!!
     
  20. Chasmodes

    Chasmodes Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks Chris. No dry rock, just sand and oyster cultches. I do have a hang on back filter on each, and in the 20g high, a large sponge filter. That's it.

    I can't see the pods unless they're really tiny, but that could be. My lighting is cheap and simple right now. On the 20g long, it's just a FW LED fixture, not all that powerful, but it will do for now. It looks nice, but I don't think it's good for plant life except cyano and maybe some hair algae, LOL. The 20g high has two clamp on shop fixtures with simple LED household bulbs. They're pretty bright, but I'm not sure about the specs.

    I purchased the EcoTech Marine Radion XR30w G4 Pro LED Light Fixture for my 101g tank. I'm sure it's overkill, but that's OK, the fish colors should really pop with that light. We will see how plants do under it. I hope that it will work out where I can keep some sea grass alive. If so, macros should grow just fine.

    My water temps in both tanks are now in the upper 60s F. They were as high as 78 F at one point. I think it will be in the low 60's by winter. These fish won't see the 40 degree water that they do in the wild during winter, but it might be cold enough to induce spawning behavior as it warms in spring time. All of the tanks are downstairs, no AC and not much heat down there, and no sun. IMHO, it's perfect for keeping native Maryland fish.
     
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