Yellowhead Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) are on my short list for the impending tank downsizeNext year, our daughter will be heading off to college and our son will already be well on the way through his senior year at OSU. With two kids almost down and none to go, my wife, Melissa, and I will soon (more or less) be empty-nesters. It also means we’ll soon be selling our two-story, four-bedroom home and moving into something better suited to a twosome and a few occasional visitors. Of course, talk of downsizing our house has led to several discussions of downsizing my 125-gallon aquarium to something more manageable and what form of setup that might take. Below are just a few of the ideas I’m mulling over. If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation—or you’d just like to take on a different sort of hobby challenge—you might want to give one of these setups a try as well.1.
Ever notice that there are lots of articles and posts out there with titles like “The Top 10 Mistakes Novice Marine Aquarists Make”? Considering that newcomers are generally much more susceptible to making major errors than their experienced counterparts are, this stands to reason. However, just because the slip-up spotlight is usually focused on newbies doesn’t mean experienced hobbyists never make mistakes. In fact, they still make their share of blunders, most of which stem from complacency or overconfidence.So, turnabout being fair play—and to give hobby newcomers a break for a change—let’s look at what I would consider the 5 most common mistakes experienced marine aquarists make: 1. Failing to test Experienced hobbyists may like to believe they can ascertain the nitrate level in their tank by simply sniffing the water (“Mmm, smells like 20 ppm to me. Time for a water change!”), but the fact of the matter is, routine testing of water parameters is just as important for advanced hobbyists as it is for newbies. True, they probably have a pretty solid maintenance regimen in place, so water-quality problems aren’t likely to develop suddenly
Public aquariums can provide hobbyists with numerous insights that can apply to their home systemsHere in the US, the summer travel season is well underway, and popular attractions all across the nation are swarming with tourists. For those of us enamored with marine life, vacation travel often involves a visit to major public aquariums, where we can spend several quality hours figuratively immersed in the underwater realm. (Turns out most facilities get pretty upset if you try to do this literally!) As a reefkeeper, what I find particularly interesting about visiting public aquariums is not just the enthralling experience they provide while I’m there, but also the information I glean from the exhibits that can be applied to my own systems back home.Here are just a few examples: Aquascaping inspiration The smaller display tanks that are often peripheral to the gazillion-gallon crowd-pleaser tanks in public aquariums can provide excellent insights on how to configure rockwork and other aquascaping features in your home aquarium for optimum aesthetic appeal. Sure, artificial elements (e.g., faux coral inserts, etc.) often stand in for the real thing in these tanks, but it’s easy enough to extrapolate from the design concepts on exhibit. Which fish species might coexist Seeing different fish species or conspecific groups “playing nice” in a public aquarium display tank can be helpful in determining whether they’re likely to get along in a home aquarium. However, you do have to take the size of the exhibit into account because both heterospecific and conspecific aggression tends to become more intensified as tank size diminishes.
It’s certainly cause for celebration when a reluctant feeder starts eating in your aquariumIn discussing the myriad rewards of reefkeeping, we marine aquarium hobbyists tend, at least in my humble opinion, to exaggerate the “soothing and relaxing” nature of our systems. If I’m being perfectly honest, on balance I probably derive more tension than tranquility from this hobby—or at least both elements in equal measure. In part, this can be attributed to my characteristic pessimism. As my wife of nearly 25 years can attest, I’m rather a “glass-is-half-empty” sort of guy. When problems arise in any area of my life, it’s in my nature to fret about the outcome. Still there’s no denying that reefkeeping can be something of a “white-knuckle ride” for even the most upbeat hobbyist.My anxieties notwithstanding, there are certain simple joys I derive from marine aquarium keeping in addition to the obvious beauty the hobby brings to my life. Some of these might seem a little odd in the grand scheme of things, but they give me a sense of satisfaction and keep me coming back for more. Here are just a few examples: A completed cycle As I’ve written here many times, cycling an aquarium demands the patience of Job.
There are steps you can take as a marine aquarium hobbyist to help ensure the health of your tank’s inhabitantsDistilled down to its essence, success in the marine aquarium hobby is about keeping fish and invertebrates alive and thriving. And while it may sometimes seem as though fate plays a major role in how animals fare under our care, several decades of aquarium-keeping experience (and more than a few missteps) have taught me that it’s largely in hobbyists’ power to avoid livestock losses. I’ve found the following 10 tips to be exceedingly helpful in maximizing the survival rate and longevity of my fish and invertebrates. Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list (after all, virtually everything we hobbyists do related to our aquariums influences the survival of our livestock, whether directly or indirectly), but it’s a pretty good start.1. Ban the impulse buy! I can’t tell you how often CC and I get questions from anxious hobbyists who have made an impulse livestock purchase only to discover after the fact that they can’t get it to eat anything they offer, it appears to be wasting away, it’s getting bullied severely by tankmates (or vice versa), etc. Unfortunately, such ill-conceived purchases too often result in the death of the specimen or one or more of its tankmates