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Thread: Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reef Biotope Tank

  1. #121
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    It's been a while since I posted about this aquarium. I had one sad set back. One of my male blennies all of a sudden became blind about three weeks ago. I discovered that he wasn't swimming out to accept food, and the other blennies were terrorizing him. And, after observing him for a while, I determined that he was blind. So, I moved him to my 20g high, away from the other blennies that picked on him and outcompeted him for food. From that point on, I fed him using a turkey baster, and he was much happier, just blind. That is, until a couple nights ago, where he acted very sick, swimming near the surface and breathing heavily. I suspect that some sort of disease overcame him, probably the one that I quarantined him from before, suggesting, perhaps, that his immune system was compromised. So, I euthanized him. I didn't feel much like writing about this, because I was pretty emotional about it. The other fish in my 20g long are all doing well and healthy.

    I don't understand why this happened, and I may never know, but usually, this happens to fish that become malnourished. I think that the blindness was the result of that, but I have to wonder if an internal parasite may have been the root cause of the malnutrition, especially since, prior to this, the fish ate readily everything that I offered. I feed them quality food, either fresh or frozen. I don't feed them flakes or pellets at all, except when I'm on vacation. However, included in the mix of food were meals of frozen brine shrimp. I fed them frozen brine shrimp every third meal. I haven't heard of any studies on this, but some have suggested that, over the long term, fish that eat frozen brine shrimp sometimes become susceptible to blindness. Has anyone experienced this before? So, the only change that I've made over the past three weeks was to give up on the brine shrimp. I feed my fish frozen or fresh sea food now. The fish love it, but my wallet doesn't, especially with the food purchased at my LFS.

    As far as the tank goes, all three species spawn about every three days to a week, depending on the species. All seem healthy and eat well. My attempt with the cage failed, not because of the cage, but probably the fish starved and need live food, not just frozen baby brine shrimp or oyster eggs. So, I'm going to set up a system to raise these fish soon, once I get some free time.

    To keep this from being a depressing post, I included a video that I shot from a while back, showing my fish doing their thing. About 2/3 through the video, you'll see that two male blennies will have an encounter. The blenny that the camera is tracking changes coloration, one that is common after or during aggression with another blenny. You'll notice that the dorsal half of the fish, from the eyes back, becomes very dark, almost black. This is an indicator of an aggressive mood in these fish. I haven't seen anyone document this before, so, there ya go, now it's documented Click here to enlarge This was after a feeding session, including a dose of Oyster Feast. I hope you like it.

  2. #122
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    Last night, when I went to feed the fish, all of the blennies came out to feed aggressively except one of the males kept hiding in his shell. This is the blenny that I dubbed, "King", because at one time, he was king of the tank. He no longer is, as the other males caught up to him in size and can hold their own against him while defending their piece of the rock. "King", staying hidden and not eating reminded me of the behavior of the one that went blind, so I was quite concerned.

    After I finished dispersing the food, I decided to shine a light in the shell and see if he was OK or if I could find signs of disease. Just as I picked up the flashlight, he came out to feed, so I shined my light into the shell, and lo and behold, I found eggs. He was guarding eggs! This confirms my thoughts on a question that I had, that one female will breed with multiple males. I've seen two other males hiding out like this, the first was the one that I filmed guarding eggs a couple months ago. The second male blenny acted the same way, but I couldn't verify if he was guarding eggs or not, because his territory is in the back of the tank. This blenny was right in front. How convenient!

    So, I went upstairs to grab my phone, brought it down and set it up on my tripod and waited for him to leave his shell and catch a vid of him guarding the eggs and also a good shot of the eggs. It took about an hour, and he came out to fight off a rival male, and gave me the opportunity to get a shot.


    I have two videos, and I'll post the other one tomorrow. This is the second video that I shot, but it has a close up of the eggs, so I thought that I'd share it first. It also features what the other fish in the tank are up to. Hope you like it.

  3. #123
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    Here is the other video that I promised. I didn't have time to finish processing both of these yesterday:

  4. #124
    DIYFK member HillbillyHomer's Avatar


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    Farewell "King".
    Sorry about the loss.




    Your wishes. To be placed in the goldfish graveyard.
    Click here to enlarge











    Your Wife!
    Click here to enlarge

  5. #125
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    "King" is still there, using the same shell, guarding the eggs last night (as in the last video). Although I'm sad, he is happy! One less male competing for the lone female's attention!

    The goldfish graveyard, that is funny! Funny toon also!

  6. #126
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    I don't have much of an update, so I thought that I'd post another video update.


    Many of the fish are hunkered down in their oyster shells, guarding eggs, some out of sight. The hidden ones only come out to eat, then right back to their egg guarding duties. Toward the end of this video, two males encounter each other and look like they're about to fight, but both of them decided that it wasn't a good idea. Notice how dark the back of the head on the blenny to the left gets...that's an aggressive coloration.



  7. #127
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    Here's a video of one of my critters that rarely comes out...the black-fingered mud crab, Panopeus herbstii.


  8. #128
    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    Looking good

  9. #129
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    I went on vacation last week for about 10 days. I used an automatic feeder on the 20g long oyster reef tank with fish and fed them flakes. I must have opened up the door a little too much, because the glass was full of algae and the fish were fatter than fat! I had another feeder for my 20g high but it broke, so I asked the neighbors to feed that tank a pinch of flakes a couple times (crabs, anemones, shrimp, worms, barnacles, and mussels) while I was out. That tank also had a ton of algae on the glass. I'm sure both tanks received too much food, and the lights were on the entire time. I guess I need some timers for that. Anyway, all of the inhabitants of both tanks were just fine, and no disasters while I was out, so, life is good. Here is a video update of what the tank looked like last night after I cleaned the glass:

  10. #130
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    The skilletfish in the clam shell at the back of the tank seen in my previous video spawned again last night. He seems to guard a new batch of eggs about every three days. I don't know how many females are laying eggs in his shell. My hunch is that it is more than one because of the frequency that new eggs appear. I'm not sure how many male skilletfish that I have. I think one, because he is the only one that always hangs out in his shell. The others tend to roam the tank and use shells as they please without any one being a "home" shell. I assume the other three are females, but again, it is difficult for me to tell.


    The gobies have spawned a few times, but not in the last two weeks, that I have seen. If they have, then I can't see the eggs. All of the males hang out in their favorite shells but come out to feed. The lone female has a favorite shell too, much higher on the reef. I suspect that this is because the other males harass and flash her all of the time. I'm fairly certain that of my five gobies, that I have only one female. She is noticeably smaller than the rest of the gobies, and they're all the same age.


    Since there is only one female blenny, it's easier to see how often she spawns with any particular male, as long as I can see the oyster shell with eggs. The female is smaller than the males, and has a different coloration pattern, more mottled and camouflaged than the males. The males have bright blue spots, peach colored cheeks, and orange tinted tail, dorsal and anal fins..


    The male in the video below appears to occur about every week to ten days now. There could be spawning with the other males as well, one in particular, hides in a shell at the back of the tank, out of sight, so I don't know how often that has happened. The other male that I know has spawned prefers a shell toward the center of the tank, and she has spawned with him several times. There is a fourth male that has claimed four different shells, but has yet to settle on one, so I don't think he has spawned with her yet.


    This next video, shot two days ago, shows the largest male blenny in the tank courting a female. He flashes her a few times, then tries to herd her toward his shell to lay eggs. He is also guarding eggs from a previous spawn. I also noticed something interesting about this male. The males have a blue spot on the dorsal fin (you can see it if the light hits it right). In his case, he is developing a second spot! I haven't seen this before.

  11. #131
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    This is another male blenny that guards an empty oyster shell in the front left side of my tank. Up until this video was shot two days ago, he had not yet spawned with the female, to my knowledge. I went to feed my fish on that day, and the female shot out of the same oyster shell with him still inside. I didn't capture it on video, but they must have just finished laying and fertilizing eggs. I managed to grab my camera and capture him tending his eggs for the first time. Once again, I just missed filming a blenny spawning event.


    Since this blenny's shell is so close to the front of the tank, I was able to see a lot more. The blenny that I previously took a video of guarding eggs is about 8" to the right of this guy. The female blenny, meanwhile, looked really fat last night, so maybe I'll luck out and catch them in the act again soon.



  12. #132
    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    Are the blennies mimicking the oysters whose empty shells they inhabit? The body kind of looks like a clam foot.

    Have you tried any live food cultures yet for the fry?

  13. #133
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Nil13 Click here to enlarge
    Are the blennies mimicking the oysters whose empty shells they inhabit? The body kind of looks like a clam foot.

    Have you tried any live food cultures yet for the fry?
    That's a good observation. There are a few researchers that believe the stripe running from the dorsal fin to the nose on the nape on Chasmodes blennies resembles a live oyster, providing additional camouflage. It's very apparent in the female and on youngsters. it's more subdued in males when they are in their breeding colors, but if they are frightened or really fired up about something, it appears.

    I haven't tried the live food cultures yet, but that is my plan, so set up those cultures and a grow out system. I caught the blennies in the act last night and took plenty of video footage. Once I have the vids processed, I'll post them today. I was pretty excited last night.

  14. #134
    DIYFK member Chasmodes's Avatar


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    Last night, I ventured downstairs to feed my fish, and lo and behold, one of the oyster shells seen in previous videos that had a male striped blenny guarding eggs had company. A female poked her head out of the shell, the ducked back inside. At that point, I set my camera up on my tripod and began to film the event, despite my front glass having some algal growth on it, making the video a little blurry. I apologize for that, but I didn't want to scare her out of the shell, so I felt it best to capture the moment and clean it later. The angle that I had to use may also contribute to the blurriness, but that was the best way to see what was going on inside the shell. Anyway, hope you enjoy this video of a pair of spawning striped blennies!



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