Outsmarting bullies in order to introduce new fish

Discussion in 'Fish Discussion' started by Reckotch, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Reckotch

    Reckotch Member

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    Small backstory and description of inhabitants:
    I have a ~50 gallon reef, no sump, that has been running for about 4 years. I started up with 2 ocellaris clowns, 1 ecsenius bicolor and 1 stenopus hispidus shrimp. All of these 4 learned to live together and were the only ones lasting; the shrimp has been hunting the blenny since the beginning but the blenny learned to keep distance. Sadly, about a year ago we moved the tank and had all live rock placed in a tub, blenny hid in a rock and jumped out of the rockbucket and went floorsurfing. During the 4 years the tank has been running we have had several fish, all of which have mysteriously died. We have now seen it confirmed that the female clownfish beats up anything that comes into the tank (no big surprise) but also that the shrimp goes hunting anything that is slow/peaceful enough or goes to rest in the wrong place in the wrong time. She catches fully healthy fish, or the fish that have been beaten up by our female clown and are thus weakened.
    This means we have a reef with only 2 fish, and major desire for a few more species. You see my problem, of course.

    I have been thinking and reading and come up with a couple of possible solutions, or at least things to try to be able to introduce new fish to our murdertank and would be happy to hear your thoughts on it, or other tips regarding this issue. Sorry about the lenght of the thread, but I hope all info gets across well. And if someone have had the same problem with killer shrimp and killerclowns and succeeded in introducing new (mostly peaceful) fish I am very glad to hear how you did it and any other clever tricks you could recommend!

    (NOTE: Before any introduction all fish and shrimp will be extra well fed. I will also ensure they remain extra fed the coming days to hopefully make them a bit less grumpy against the newcomers.
    The introduction may or may not be combined with a mirror to make the clowns focus on themselves instead.)

    IDEA 1A:
    Lights out, dim lamp next to the tank.
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    WHY THIS MIGHT WORK: In the dark, new fish will be harder to find, but they will have a harder time finding caves and hiding places in the dark. A dim light from outside the tank might make them harder to see, but still make them able to find the hidingspots. I will also be able to see what happens.
    IDEA 1B:
    Same lighting level, combined with some rockwork slightly rearranged + sandbed slightly stirred to make the tank a bit more foggy and different. This might disorient the clowns and cut viewdistance, but still be bright and clear enough for new fish to learn the tank cave locations.

    IDEA 2:
    Complete rescaping.
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    WHY THIS MIGHT WORK: Territories need to be resettled, new fish might get a chance to establish their own caves while clowns and shrimp look around the new layout to find the best new spots for them.

    IDEA 3:
    Putting clowns and shrimp in QT tank for a time while new fish is introduced to DT. (Catching clowns might require a trap or a complete rescape of the tank.)
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    WHY THIS MIGHT WORK: The new fish gets the entire tank to themselves to settle in. The clowns and the shrimp will hopefully "forget" before they are put back in, and the new fish will know the area well. If the new fish are there before the clowns, the clowns may be more accepting and keep other fish in account when they reestablish territories.



    These are the main ideas I have thought of. If I can break up the territory, the clownfish should hopefully be peaceful enough to accept new fish while she reestablishes her place. The shrimp on the other hand can be more tricky, as she can more easily ambush hiding or sleeping fish and seem less territorial and more "on the hunt".

    Would very much like to hear your thoughts and experiences!
     

  2. eatbreakfast

    eatbreakfast Fish Nerd Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Showcase Editor Expert Contributor Partner Member Partner Member 2018

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    Those plans may work with the clowns, but unfortunately once CBS get a taste for fish, they will keep hunting.
     
  3. Reckotch

    Reckotch Member

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    Ah, that is unfortunate to hear. She has hunted quite a few. (10+ over the years we now believe.)

    I suppose another option would be to either use the QT tank to become a small shrimp/fragtank of sorts or give her back to the shop. The problem is that I wouldnt want someone elses fishes to become lunch, and despite her murder-mood she HAS been around since I started so she is part of the sentiental feelings.
     
  4. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    The lights out option probs won't work... fish are pretty adept at using their lateral lines for sensing objects and other fish / shrimp etc.

    Complete rescape will probably work... redefining territories etc. I used this all the time when I had an ultra aggressive FW tank (CA cichlids... snakeheads, even a small wolf fish for a while lol) worked every time.

    Worth a punt would be either sectioning off a part of the tank with clear acrylic or using a social acclamation box... the fish can all see each other but can't physically attack. Once they've all chilled out, remove the divider/ box.

    The CBS is a different issue... he's not defending a territory, has hunting for food... only options here would be to rehome him (best option) either in another tank or to someone else... or to select fish unlikely to be hunted... sand burying wrasse species spring to mind, or something that the CBS should recognise as dangerous... a dwarf lionfish or a marine Betta (they mimic morays).

    Good luck!
     
  5. Reckotch

    Reckotch Member

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    Thank you for your input, the CBS WILL be a continuous issue but I don't want to rehome her as she is currently ~4 years old and was there from the start. I also wouldn't want to sell a fish eating shrimp to anyone else. ;)
    I have come up with another idea that I will probably go for; the shrimp will move into his own tank and the clownpair might join. those 3 and a couple of corals should make a decent smaller project to work with and leaves my 50 gal completely open for any new fish.

    However, I DO like clownfish in the big tank, so one solution leads to more questions..
    If anyone has any inputs regarding my further clownfish questions I have a thread over here https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/a...s-if-they-are-placed-in-the-tank-last.319505/

    Trying to come up with the best solutions for it all. :)

    I am still interested in the thoughts regarding the above written ideas or other experiences around it if I (or others who might read) end up in a similar situation again!
     
  6. Maritimer

    Maritimer Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader CTARS Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I think all of those ideas have worked at one time or another - they're all good, and a sort of "range of escalation", each being more drastic - but more likely to succeed - than the last.

    Sometimes, all you need to do is place a mirror at one end of the tank - other times, nothing short of rehoming a fish will work.

    ~Bruce
     
    eatbreakfast likes this.
  7. Bluecbs

    Bluecbs Well-Known Member

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    Imo, put clown and cbs in acclimation boxes, rescape, and put new fishes, and monitor, release them only when you feel comfortable. During this time just feed the cbs pellets for few months...may forget to hunt fish, or may not....
     
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