Posts Tagged marine tank

Marine Nano Tank Time Lapse Video

This is what I spent my afternoon doing! Incase you stay here to watch it, here’s what I wrote on my Vimeo page.

My first time lapse movie using the iSight camera on my MacBook and Gawker software. Really disappointed that I had trouble exporting the movie full size from iMovie – for some reason the video frame froze after about 2 seconds of play while the music carried on, so apologies for the rubbish quality.

You can see my Clown Fish ‘Tina’ busying around on her Toadstool ‘Matey Boy’. The Orange Button Polyps middle screen are interesting, particularly in the second half of the vid when the view gets wider – they appear to pulse with the music.

Keep an eye in the bottom left quarter of the video window for a yellow fish. This is my Yellow Watchman Goby, ‘Rossi’. Other movements are the Nassarius Snails who bury themselves under the substrate, slide around the bottom of the tank and then dig themselves back in again.

I had loads of fun doing this, hope you enjoy.

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Nano Tank

I spent a good portion of the afternoon yesterday with my hands in our marine tank due to issues caused by a new resident. Last weekend we added three new critters to our tank which, until now only contained live rock and soft corals. Actually, we did have Mr Whippy the hermit crab but sadly he died for reasons unknown after only 2 weeks in the tank. We think he wasn’t quite right from the start as he never moved around much and spent all day every day sleeping, until that one particular night when he pulled himself out of his shell and dumped himself on the substrate to be eaten by the bristleworms. I came down in the morning to find a pile of inedible legs and his shell laying on the gravel. Sad times.

The new residents are facinating. First off we bought another Hermit Crab. He’s a bit different from the last one, not as attractive and slightly disabled yet at some point during the day he wakes up and goes for a wander to turn over the substrate in search of food before returning to the same rock under the toadstool coral to sleep. His legs are an orangey brown colour and I’m not sure but I think he may be missing an extra leg on each side as he only has two skinny little legs that pull him around and two pincer claws at the front which he uses to pick through the sand and eat. The pincer claws are what got him his name, with one being very large and the second being much smaller we decided to name him Jeremy Beadle (a late British TV presenter who, due to Poland Syndrome, had one had smaller than the other).

The other two new residents are a pair, a Yellow Watchman Goby fish and a Pistol Shrimp. The deal with these two are that they form a ‘symbiotic pair’ which is a pairing of two different species. The shrimp digs a burrow in which the fish lives and in return for the shelter the fish protects the shrimp – whom is blind.

Watching Valentino (the shrimp) and Rossi (the fish) live together is facinating in that Valentino is like the super busy tidy freak – or your mum busily trying to vacuum under your feet while you slob on the couch. And Rossi is like a fat lazy teenager who hangs around in one spot looking out for food all day. Where ever Rossi sits, Valentino is never far behind shovelling arm loads of substrate out of the way to provide a better more spacious cave for them both to hide in. If Rossi gets in the way I’ve seen Valentino shovelling him  out of the way too.  The whole time Valentino is working Rossi sits at the entrance of the cave keeping an eye out for food and predators – or us, walking into the room. Rossi warns Valentino either by a specific twitch which Valentino feels by keeping his long antennae rested on Rossi’s back or simply by getting crammed head-on back into the cave as Rossi makes his lightening fast duck for cover!

Valentino is like a minature bulldozer. Shaped like a dwarf lobster he has two longer arms at the front with pincers on the end. One pincer is larger than the other and together these arms are capable of shovelling and holding about half a teaspoon of substrate! He spends all day every day bulldozing mounds of gravel from underneath the rocks creating a maze of interlinked caverns beneath. And therein lay the reason for my arm bath yesterday – within an hour of introducing them to the tank, Valentino had already shovelled so much gravel from under the reef that part of it collapsed in the middle! Worried that he would eventually set to work on the rest of it I had to reach in and rearrange the rock so it sat flat on the tank floor with no gravel underneath it.

Fortuantely the rearrangement has worked out really well providing much more space for new corals and even bigger areas for Valentino to safely clear out creating their new network of caves that has at least four exits from which he and Rossi sit viewing the tank floor and grabbing the occasional brine shrimp that floats past.

Valentino’s talents don’t stop there. Being blind I guess hunting food can be a bit tricky so these aptly named ‘Pistol Shrimp’ posses an awesome ability in thier larger claw which doubles as a mini gun.

Routinely throughout the day and evening you can hear a loud CLICK coming from the tank, this is Valentino shooting his prey. With one clamping shut of his larger claw he can create a shot of air that fires through the water at over 60mph.  When the air bubble bursts it results in the loud click that we hear. I’ve also read that when the bubble bursts it emits a flash of light (not visible to the naked eye). This flash has a temperature of over 8,000 degrees farenheight, the temperature of the sun! The force and sound eminating from this deadly claw stuns the shrimps prey so he can eat it. How does it find the prey in the first place? I guess it’s by vibrations in the water.

Here is a little video of Jeremy Beadle asleep under his toadstool, Rossi ‘watching’ and Valentino bargeing in and out of the cave with arm loads of substrate gravel.

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Our First Marine Critter

We’ve had our marine tank set up for nearly two weeks and today we introduced our first critter. Meet ‘MR WHIPPY’ an Electric Blue Legged Hermit Crab or ‘Calcinus Elegans’ if you want the proper name.

Mr Whippy

Mr Whippy

Mr Whippy, named after his current ice-cream whip shaped shell was introduced to the tank this afternoon. No sooner had he gently plopped onto the sandy substrate at the bottom of the tank he propped his shell up over his elongated blue eye stalks and set to work on the nearest rock clearing algae and cramming it into his face a pinch at a time with his little nippy claws . That was five hours ago – he’s just stepped off that small rock and moved onto find something else.

The tank has had other interesting activities going on during the past few days. The biggest coral, a toadstool leather suddenly withdrew all of its polyps (the flowing hair-like strands that protrude from it’s surface and wave about in the water). The following day it never put the polyps back out again. This coincided with the first water change Wil and I had performed as new marine tank owners. It hadn’t helped that for our first water change the fish shop didn’t have any premixed saltwater and instead could only provide us with some RO (distilled) water and some salt for us to create the mix ourselves. The withdrawal of ‘Matey Boy’s‘ (the toadstool leather), polyps caused us to worry we’d done something wrong with the mix. However, after a good read of various marine forums and websites and an examination of the tank on the second or third day led us to believe that Matey Boy was shedding a protective layer. Apparently while they do this they close up and wait for the clingfilm type covering to peel off their surface and disappear into the water. It’s taken three days and now he’s back on form with his extended polyps waving in the flow.

Just to the side of matey boy there is another mushroom type coral which looks a bit like a minature palm tree. ‘Short Stuff’ as we’ve named him only stands about 3cm tall although we’d noticed that he does tend to stand taller on some days and shorter on others. The surprise came today when I was examining Matey Boy’s shedding progress and noticed Short Stuff seemed a lot further behind Matey Boy than he had been before. I compared a photo that I’d taken of the tank when we first set it up two weeks ago and confirmed that Short Stuff had taken a SHORT TRIP!

Once again, thanks to the wealth of wisdom on the internet I discovered that many soft corals can actually move themselves by swelling up so as to cover a larger footprint and then detatch their hold on the side from which they want to move – a bit like a snail. We confirmed this at the fish shop today where the guy fishing our hermit crab out of the tank pointed out one of their toadstools suckered half way up the glass at the front of it’s aquarium. Apparently they do this to get themselves to a position in the tank they like and wish to settle. Very difficult to get my head around the thinking that these are living creatures and not plants!

In the meantime we’ve set up a third aquarium in which we will fulfill our original intention of rehoming the Pygmy Puffer fish which currently resides in our community freshwater tank. The new tank is beginning it’s ‘cycle’ in which beneficial bacteria crucial to the correct functioning of the tank will begin breeding on the filter and substrate. Adding any fish before this cycle is complete could result in death and since the idea of this tank for one little puffer fish has already resulted in my becoming au fait with all things marine and owning three separate aquariums, I dread to think what daft ideas we’d come up with to fill the void should we lose the intended inhabitant of the new freshwater tank.

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