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Cardisoma sp. (likely C. armatum). Southeast Asia, Indonesia Land Crabs. Soap-Box Crabs for how they're individually shipped (in plastic soap-dishes closed with rubber bands) to prevent cannibalism. To eight inches across... Not a community tank item... Actually not totally aquatic... if you're lucky, yours will crawl out of the tank and leave.  Full Size Link

Updated 8/8/18, Ask us a question: Crew@WetWebMedia.com
Brackish INDEX to Articles and FAQs;
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Other S
pecialized Daily FAQs Blogs: General,
Freshwater, Planted Tanks, Ponds,   
Daily Q&A replies/input from the WWM crew: 
Neale Monks, Marco Lichtenberger, Eric Russell, Chuck Rambo, Bob Fenner, are posted here. Moved about, re-organized into individual FAQs files!
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Brackish to Freshwater; lost Violet Goby; Fire Eel sys.       8/8/18
Hello Crew.
<Renee,>
I lost my Violet Goby today. He was in the tank when I did his water change last night, but when I went to feed him this morning, I couldn't find him. When I did find him, he had gotten out of the tank and wiggled into my closet. He was very dried out, but I tried floating him in the tank in a net all day - but he was gone.
<How cow! That's bad news indeed. Sounded a great fish.>
I've decided I'm not going to get another one, at least for now, and to convert that tank back to freshwater. I sent you a post a few days ago about compatibility between my BGK and a Fire Eel I will be getting from my friend this Saturday, and instead of putting it in with the BGK, I'm going to put the Fire Eel in the goby's old tank. My question is, how sensitive are Fire Eels to salt?
<Not especially, but they don't want brackish. On the other hand, a trivial amount is actually quite therapeutic, and a safer treatment for Whitespot and Velvet than the alternatives. Certainly, the addition of 1-2 gram salt per litre of water has been standard operating practise in Europe when keeping Spiny Eels of all kinds, including these.>
This tank is low end brackish, SG 1.005. Do I have to completely rinse out the tank, sand, filters, everything and start over, or can I replace the water, or a portion of the water, to drop the salinity as low as it can go without destroying the biological filter that currently exists in the tank.
<A succession of water changes will be fine, which I'd do across a couple of days to allow the filter to adapt. Keep adding a little flake or something to keep the filter bacteria ticking over. Once the salinity is
1.001 or less, you can add a Spiny Eel without problems. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish to Freshwater      8/8/18

Thank you!
<Most welcome! Neale.>
Re: Brackish to Freshwater      8/8/18

Thank you!
<PS. If a Violet Goby jumped out of your tank, a Spiny Eel will definitely do so. They are notorious escape artists. Double check every hole is sealed off with plastic mesh, filter wool, or something else that lets air through but nothing else! Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer      7/12/18
I have a green spotted puffer and I have had him for about a month now!
<Do remember these are brackish water fish, despite what pet stores tell you. They will not live well or live long in freshwater conditions. Adults may even need marine conditions, though I'd argue around SG 1.005 is perfectly adequate for a long and healthy life, i.e., about 9 grammes marine aquarium salt mix per litre of tap water (that's about 1.2 oz per US gallon).>
He is still very small and bright!
<Neato!>
But I noticed tonight his left side by his tail is almost flat looking but his right side and head are fine! I’m not sure what could be wrong with him I just didn’t a total tank clean.
<Puffers can/will change their shape somewhat, especially when they're overfed. But they can also turn dark when stressed, which can make them look very different.>
But I also was wondering could he need his teeth trimmed this little and what could I feed him other then the flakes they gave me at the pet store?
<Yikes! Flakes are not an option here. Sure, if he eats them, once in a while they're useful. But he should really be eating mollusk and crustacean foods, whether small snails, or small shrimps, or slivers of seafood. A variety, really. Even if your puffer can't eat whole 'cocktail' shrimp (which shouldn't be a staple anyway) he should be able to eat krill or brine shrimp. Do let me have you read, here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/gspsart.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/gspfdgfaqs.htm
The key things are: use mussels and prawns/shrimps sparingly; use snails and cockles liberally; choose crunchy foods where you can; visit marine aquarium shops for suitable bite-size frozen foods such as krill and Spirulina-enriched brine shrimps for economical staple foods.>
I’ve been looking into his diet and such but no one can seem to help me and I don’t think he is big enough for shrimp.
<He'll manage small frozen whole shrimp when he's bigger, but as a youngster, frozen krill and brine shrimp are more realistic. You can also try woodlice from the garden -- assuming no pesticides have been used. Bloodworms, daphnia and other pond foods are an option too.>
Please help and the faster the better!! I am worried he has become my baby quickly
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green spotted puffer    7/13/18

Okay I will check into other food today! But the place I got him from told me that he was raised on flakes so far and that he should be fine with those for now until he got bigger but upon my research is why I asked about it!
<For a start your Puffer was wild caught. It wasn't 'raised' on anything.
He may/may not eat flake, and if he does, that's great. Flake will provide a good range of nutrients. But it won't do anything for his beak.>
Also how will I know when he needs his teeth trimmed because he is only about and inch and half or maybe two if that big right now he has grown a lot since I got him as well!
<If you can see the teeth all the time, they're probably too long, and if he can't easily eat, they need dental work. Bear in mind that it's easier to trim the beak when the overgrowth is slight. Let me direct you to some reading:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/smpufferdentistry.htm
Personally, I wouldn't use a net to hold the puffer while doing the work,
but wet hands firmly. Nets can be rough and can damage fish.>
Now I have him in a small tank at the moment because I was worried he was getting sick so I upped the salt level a bit to help him over it but he may not need it!
<He needs salt. Quite a bit of it. Do read, understand about these fish.
They are brackish water fish, not freshwater fish. If you're not buying marine salt mix, and not weighing out substantial amounts each water change, you're not keeping it right. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green spotted puffer    7/13/18

(Cheyanne here) I got freeze dried shrimp that he loved he ate till he was full and I took the extra out but he loved it I have not seen him eat this well ever so I’m happy I found you guys
<A-ha! Good news he's eating well, and glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

E. xanthospilos in a river & other morays      6/24/18
Hello Marco, Neale, and all you good people at WetWebMedia,
<Welcome back, Ben!>
I remember reading about E. xanthospilos being kept in freshwater in a shop in UK. Then I found this on FB, this kid caught a E. xanthospilos on a river mouth in Banten, that's the northwestern part of Java Island. Interesting, eh? Maybe now we can add this species to the list of eels that often wandered to rivers?
<The first time I became aware of this species in trade, it was also sold as a freshwater species.>
Also, I visited Mr. Eko several days ago, and he showed me a bucketful of morays he captured from an estuarium north of Java. Again we see the usual: G. pictus and U. micropterus, which Fishbase listed as marine to brackish, and E. nebulosa, which are commonly accepted as fully marine, but apparently not the case here, as they are not rare in our estuaries.
<That's interesting.>
He currently keeps all his brackish morays including the E. nebulosa in 1.012-1.014 sg aquarium. They looks healthy and no deaths so far (except for those died during transport). I am tempted to keep the G. pictus in my 1.010sg aquarium, what do you think? Any tips?
<Personally I would not keep such moray eels in brackish water, even when they were caught in such an environment. It's so much easier to provide a high water quality in a marine system by using a skimmer and live rock. To achieve the same in a brackish tank, one has to do regular and large water
changes. The second reason why I would not keep G. pictus in a brackish tank is that we cannot be sure how long they stay in this environment in nature. Weeks? Months? A few years? G. pictus reaches up to 1.4 metres and become quite massive. I think the adults are mostly reported from marine waters.>
Thank you and Keep Rocking! Ben
<Hope this helps. Marco.>

Re: E. xanthospilos in a river & other morays    6/26/18
Hello Marco,
<Hi Ben.>
Thank you for your very useful info. So, the problem of keeping brackish morays in brackish are threefold: 1. need frequent water changes since we cannot use live rocks and skimmers; 2. inadequate data on how long these morays actually stayed in brackish without getting stressed; 3. In case of G. pictus, it could grow big.
<Exactly.>
From my part, I can handle weekly water changes, that is not a problem as I am not far from both seawater and pure groundwater (from a well). I also in good relations (obviously) with the procurers of the fish, so if I see any sign of stresses in any of the morays, due to the lower salinity, I can rehouse them back to the store, or even back to the river where they came from.
However, size will always be a problem, since now I know that G. pictus can actually grow bigger than 100 cm, I can see that it is not an ideal fish.
The ones offered to me are small for now, but if they can grow to 1.5 meters then that's too much. Again thank you for the very logical warning.
<No problem.>
I try to contact the people who fished out E. xanthospilos from our rivers, but apparently they knew it's a prized eel, so they set up rather high prices. Bummer.
<Usually they are sold around 100$ in the USA and Europe. Sometimes for much more.>
I also got offered G. richardsonii (there is only one left in the aquarium from a batch captured last month, picture included). In the same aquarium there is also a White-eyed moray (G. thyrsoidea?). And Mr. Eko offered me the E. nebulosa from the previous bucket for a discount. All three are juveniles and captured from the same estuarium. Which one do you think has the best chances of living happily in a 14 ppt brackish aquarium? I understand that brackish water might be just a transition for them and they
might eventually need at least 1.018sg water to thrive, so I am willing to construct another aquarium to move them in the future. Or donate them to other eel enthusiast who I can trust.
<Probably G. richardsonii. I know all three species you listed and I think G. richardsonii is the most adaptable among them. Also, it stays quite small. Still, you may want to try a higher salinity (maybe a skimmer and the use of live rock), especially when you have easy access to the sea.>
Well, thank you again dear Marco! My best regards to all you good people at WetWebMedia!
<Thank you very much. Ben.>

Re: E. xanthospilos in a river & other morays     6/27/18
Hello Marco,
<Hi Ben.>
Thank you again for your advice. Indeed, Mr. Eko also advised that I raise my salinity to match his high brackish aquarium (about 1.012-1.014sg now).
So that I can be sure that whatever eels he kept in his brackish aquarium, I can keep too.
At which specific gravity will skimmer and live rock start working?
<I'd say 1.018. Usual Skimmers are less efficient at lower salinity, because the bubbles are larger due to a lack of surface tension. With regard to live rock, it's mostly about the beneficial marine bacteria living on its large surface, which might be replaced by other strains at lower salinity. Cheers, Marco.>
Best Regards, Ben

kH in Brackish Water     6/20/18
"Everything happens for a reason" is one of my favorite sayings (although I find "Everything" to be a bit too broad) and the case of the failure of my filter hose in my Goby tank is an example. Before the hose split, dumped all that water (and my biological filter) onto the floor, and threw the tank into a mini-cycle, I thought everything was fine.
<Indeed! Sounds quite the crisis.>
But I've been struggling to get the tank to re-cycle again.
<So long as the substrate didn't dry out, there should be plenty of bacteria, albeit dormant, in the filter and/or substrate.>
I'm using Prime consistently, so the fish are not being affected, but the ammonia has been "jumping" around from .5 one day, to 2 ppm a few days later; I'll get a slight rise in nitrite, but then it goes away without increasing the nitrate (of which the test shows is less than 10) - it has been very frustrating.
<I would imagine. Nonetheless, I'd still have an optimistic approach here.
The filter bacteria will be there. There's no reason that damp filter media should lose all its bacteria, and indeed it should 'regenerate' into something useful within a few days. Of course do multiple water changes, perhaps 25-50% a day for the first week, and don't add any food. But there's no reason for a whole 6-week cycling process that I can think of.>
But I learned a similar lesson with my 125 gallon tank so I decided to check the kH of the tank and discovered there is none - no kH at all (if that hose had not split and caused the cycling problem, I might not have discovered this until the fish had been affected and might not have put it together even then). I put one drop of the test liquid in the test tube with the tank water and the water remained clear. After putting three drops of the test liquid the water had a slight tinge of yellow (yes, I know it's supposed to turn blue). I had to put in 10 drops of the test liquid before it turned a solid yellow and as I added more, it turned a light orange. I think that what is happening is that the amount of Instant Ocean I'm using to achieve an SG of 1.005 cannot provide sufficient kH because 1) I'm using RO/DI water (human remains in the water), 2) I'm brackish, not full salt, and 3) I'm low end brackish (1.005).
<I would agree with this analysis. Nothing a bit of baking soda can't fix!
Something along the lines of 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) per 5 gallons/20 litres should do the trick, but feel free to increase as necessary. Use a KH test kit to keep track, and adjust the dose
accordingly. Experiment with a bucket of water first and see what works. If you want to raise GH, then 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) per 5 gallons/20 litres can be used as well.>
When this same situation occurred in my 125 after I re-homed my loaches, I started using Seachem Alkaline Buffer to bring up the kH (I'm not chasing a pH, just working to establish a healthy kH.
<Precisely.>
The kH in all the tanks is 8 and that's just fine) and it has been working perfectly in all the tanks. But then I found myself in a quandary - I know Seachem make a Marine buffer, but I'm not keeping a marine tank - just low end brackish, and I was afraid the calculations and proportions in the directions on the Marine Buffer would only apply to full salt tanks.
<Should work, just go 10-50% dosage, as seems appropriate with your KH and/or GH test kits.>
So I decided to use the same Alkaline Buffer I use in my freshwater tanks.
I calculated the amount needed to bring the kH up to 8 like in my other tanks and split the dosage into three parts (I didn't want to do it all at once because I know it will affect the pH - I didn't want to inflict a radical change on the fish). I added the first dosage earlier this morning and when I tested this afternoon the test showed a kH of 3. Unless you think I'm doing something wrong, or you think the Goby and the Mollies need a higher kH, I'll put in the next two doses over the next two days. So that's the purpose of this e-mail - do you seen anything wrong with my thinking or my plan to correct this problem?
<Nope; it's a good plan!>
*Renee *
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: kH in Brackish Water      6/21/18

Great! Thank you!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

150l puffer tank       5/28/18
Hi!
How are you?
<All good, thanks.>
I am setting up a new tank and wanted to check with your expertise before I proceed - hope you don’t mind!
<Fire way.>
I have now set up a new 150l.
<Good size.>
I want to put in medium-large-ish puffers.
<Ah, well, not really big enough for multiple puffers, except perhaps the fairly tolerant Carinotetraodon irrubesco, Dwarf Puffers, and perhaps a small group of South American Puffers. A singleton 'lurker' puffer in the 10-15 cm size range could work too.>
I’ve called a round all my local fish shops and my current option is:
One shop has in 4 twin spotted puffers (8-10cm) which I understand are nearly fully grown (probably two thirds of their full size).
<A group is not going to work in a tank this size.>
The shop have had them in for a few months in a tiny tank and therefore feel like it would be good to take them.
<Not necessarily. Purchasing fish, even if you mean to 'rescue' them, is taken by the retailer as a sale. Hence, the likelihood is that the order for multiple Tetraodon leiurus will be repeated again. If the fish languish in the retailer's tanks for some months, they'll be seen as a failure, and won't be re-ordered.>
My thought process is that it would be ok because :
Water quality - I have a good external filter with 11-12x flow rate per hour. I plan to do twice weekly water changes (15-20%) but probably do 3-4 times weekly in the first few weeks. The shop is apparently feeding them twice a day on bloodworms/mussels/prawns (I’d probably throw in a cray fish or crab on occasion for their beaks). This sounds like a lot of food though maybe it should be reduced to once a day but that may increase aggression?
<Possibly, but it's sex hormones and their innate behaviours that cause aggression. This species is not social, and should not be treated as such.>
Aggression - the shop have had them in for a few months and there has been no aggression between them. I know these are generally aggressive but if they have been fine with each other for now then I don’t see that this should change. Plus a group of 4 means aggression will be spread.
<Indeed, if you had a couple hundred gallons it might indeed be worth a shot. But 150 litres/30 gallons? Bit tight.>
Swimming space - no issue as these are more of a ‘lurker’ fish. Not quite as inactive as a humpback but nothing like some of the active puffers.
<Agreed.>
Ultimately I think this could be a good option but wanted to check with you :-)
<I would not do this without a concrete Plan B, i.e., 3 more tanks at your disposal to handle the puffers should things go wrong. Moving the fish to a new tank could easily trigger territoriality. It's really very difficult to feel comfortable that this plan will work.>
Thanks
<Most welcome. I would try posting this idea up at ThePufferForum; they're very experienced, and might well offer a second opinion, or at least some work-arounds that might be useful. Cheers, Neale.>

Goby Trouble; sys., beh.       5/25/18
Hello Crew! I'm a little rattled this morning as my Dragon Goby made a suicide attempt.
<Oh yes; they are "escape artists">

I had come back in from taking the dogs out and found him on the floor (I got to him before the dogs did). He couldn't have been out long because he was not there when we went out and we were only outside for 15 minutes. I immediately got him back in the tank, he swam away, and now he's sitting on his PVC tube looking at me. He was not dried out when I found him, does not have any physical injuries that I can see, and his gills are moving normally. I found where he pushed the tank lid up and set a fairly
heavy rock on it.
<And cover over all holes large enough for it to get out>
So a little recent background, back on May 10th (I keep a journal on all the tanks), I did the normal water change (about 20 gallons from a 72 gallon tank) and the regular monthly filter cleaning. Everything
seemed fine when I was done but when I came back in from outside, the room around the tank was flooded because one of the hoses (the return to the tank hose) on the canister filter (those ribbed hoses on the Fluval 405) was split and gushing water.
<Yikes! Glad you caught it>
I got it shut down but, to my absolute horror, when I looked at the tank I estimated that I had lost
about 40 gallons. So with the weekly/monthly maintenance plus the hose splitting, this tank (72 gallon) lost about 60 gallons in two hours.
I knew I was in trouble, so I replaced the water, checked the salinity (1.004 SG), added two capfuls of Prime, and hoped for the best. I started testing the following morning and have been adding Prime and
testing daily ever since. For the first three days, everything seemed fine, but I knew better than to think it would be that easy. Sure enough, after day three, I had ammonia, only .25 ppm, but it was there.
<Toxic; debilitating>

The ammonia never went any higher and turned over pretty quickly (about two days) and the nitrite started to climb (I'm using Prime daily throughout this and I still am). It got to .50 ppm but has since come down to .25 ppm. Nitrate stayed steady below 20 ppm.
So after I got the Goby back in the tank this morning, I tested again and the ammonia is still zero, the nitrite is still .25, and nitrate is still below 20 ppm. Salinity is steady at 1.004 SG. But I noticed the heater light was off, which is unusual because it's still very cold here in the mornings. When I checked the temperature, it had dropped to 72 degrees in the tank (this had to have happened fairly recently as I always check temperature during weekly maintenance and last Monday everything was fine). I put in a backup heater and I'm now re-warming the tank to its normal 77 - 78 degrees. But in my constant quest for the "why" in everything, I'm wondering if the drop in temperature could have triggered the suicide attempt.
<Mmm; doubtful>
This tank has a fairly tight fitting lid (egg crate)so he had to exert some effort to get out.
*Renee *
<Bob Fenner>

Re: Goby Trouble      5/26/18
So you think this was just the Goby's natural tendency to "wander off?"
<Yes I do>
I guess I was hoping the temperature was what set him off and that warming up his water would prevent him from trying this nonsense again.
<Mmm; no. Sometimes having floating plants (a fave, Watersprite, Ceratopteris) and/or quickly moving surface fishes (e.g. Barbs of size) will help deter such escapades... But/otherwise a secure/complete cover is the route to go. >
I've attached a picture of the "egg crate" lid I use on all the tanks (the one in the picture is on a different tank but I use the same stuff on the Goby's tank just cut to fit a bowfront).
<Very nice!>
I cut this material so it just barely fits and I have to push it down into place (maybe that's how he got out'; I may not have gotten it pushed down all the way).
<Mmm, likely about the hang on power filter... I'd cut a pc. of Eggcrate, put this on top of the current one, around the filter area>
The part of the lid I found pushed up was right next to the space I cut for the output hose and I made sure to leave no extra space around it. It's plastic and the squares are no more than 1/2" x 1/2". The Goby is 10 inches long and his big old head would never even come close to fitting through them. Plus there is a 48" aquarium light that sits on top of it. Anyway, I can't shed an eyelash around here without hitting a rock,
<Interesting saying>
so I'll bring some inside to put on all corners of the lids.
<Real good. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Goby Trouble      5/26/18

Thank you!
<Welcome. B>

Goby Trouble /Neale      5/26/18
Hello Crew! I'm a little rattled this morning as my Dragon Goby made a suicide attempt. I had come back in from taking the dogs out and found him on the floor (I got to him before the dogs did).
<Yikes! Never heard of this for a Dragon Goby, but always a risk with large fish, especially eel-shaped ones.>
He couldn't have been out long because he was not there when we went out and we were only outside for 15 minutes. I immediately got him back in the tank, he swam away, and now he's sitting on his PVC tube looking at me. He was not dried out when I found him, does not have any physical injuries that I can see, and his gills are moving normally.
<Promising. These fish can survive in damp burrows when the tide goes out, so should recover well, provided their skin has not dried out.>
I found where he pushed the tank lid up and set a fairly heavy rock on it.
<Good move.>
So a little recent background, back on May 10th (I keep a journal on all the tanks), I did the normal water change (about 20 gallons from a 72 gallon tank) and the regular monthly filter cleaning. Everything seemed fine when I was done but when I came back in from outside, the room around the tank was flooded because one of the hoses (the return to the tank hose) on the canister filter (those ribbed hoses on the Fluval 405) was split and gushing water. I got it shut down but, to my absolute horror, when I looked at the tank I estimated that I had lost about 40 gallons. So with the weekly/monthly maintenance plus the hose splitting, this tank (72 gallon) lost about 60 gallons in two hours.
I knew I was in trouble, so I replaced the water, checked the salinity (1.004 SG), added two capfuls of Prime, and hoped for the best. I started testing the following morning and have been adding Prime and testing daily ever since. For the first three days, everything seemed fine, but I knew better than to think it would be that easy. Sure enough, after day three, I had ammonia, only .25 ppm, but it was there. The ammonia never went any higher and turned over pretty quickly (about two days) and the nitrite started to climb (I'm using Prime daily throughout this and I still am).
It got to .50 ppm but has since come down to .25 ppm. Nitrate stayed steady below 20 ppm.
<Good. Again, these are burrow-dwellers, and like Mudskippers I'd expect them to have some significant resistance to ammonia compared with a lot of other fish.>
So after I got the Goby back in the tank this morning, I tested again and the ammonia is still zero, the nitrite is still .25, and nitrate is still below 20 ppm. Salinity is steady at 1.004 SG. But I noticed the heater
light was off, which is unusual because it's still very cold here in the mornings. When I checked the temperature, it had dropped to 72 degrees in the tank (this had to have happened fairly recently as I always check temperature during weekly maintenance and last Monday everything was fine).
I put in a backup heater and I'm now re-warming the tank to its normal 77 - 78 degrees. But in my constant quest for the "why" in everything, I'm wondering if the drop in temperature could have triggered the suicide attempt.
<Possibly, but Gobioides have quite an extensive geographical range -- from South Carolina to Brazil -- and can probably handle a reasonably wide range of temperatures. So with a bit of luck you'll be fine.>
This tank has a fairly tight fitting lid (egg crate)so he had to exert some effort to get out.
<Live and learn, I guess. Thanks for sharing this experience, and best of luck. Neale.>

Re: Goby Trouble /Neale     5/27/18
Thank you!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Dragon Goby Concern       5/28/18
Hello Crew! First of all, feel free to set this post aside because I know you help a lot of people with problems more severe than mine.
<Oh!>
Honestly, I don't even know if I have a problem, but this is my first Violet Goby, and his/her behavior has changed radically in the last week from what I've experienced in the previous almost two months of having him.
First, the recap; I had a hose split back on May 10th while I was outside, lost a lot of water, and threw the tank into what I believe is called a "mini-cycle." I've been using Prime in the tank throughout this event and we're coming through it as the ammonia spike is gone and the nitrite is going down. I told you about the failure of the heater and temperature drop in the tank down to 72 and you indicated that you did not think that was a problem. I re-read my notes from you and your web site and noticed you indicated that this species is subtropical and prefers a cooler temperature, 75 degrees being the upper end of that range, so I adjusted my heaters in that tank down to 74 - 75 degrees (from 77 - 78).
<Their geographic range extends into the subtropics, but individual specimens may be collected from tropical areas. If lowering the temperature elicits odd behaviours, then why not raise the temperature back to where it was and see what happens?>
So his "new" behavior started with the suicide attempt. I got him back in the tank and he seemed fine - behaving in the manner I'm used to - just casually swimming around the tank - until I turned the tank lights out that evening and it got dark. I guess it was about 10 pm that night when I noticed him swimming all around the top of the tank looking for a way out (I have about 10 lbs of rock sitting on top of the tank lid now, so he was disappointed). I thought the best way to discourage that behavior was to
raise the powerhead up closer to the top of the tank and create a stronger current at the surface. It kind of worked as he stopped hunting for the exit, but he started swimming, against the current, toward the powerhead. Once he got to the powerhead, he'd let the current carry him to the other side of the tank, and then start again (he was swimming like a shark was chasing him - really swimming hard). He'd keep this up for 5 minutes or so and then stop, glide down to the bottom of the tank for a minute or so, and
then do it again. He was still doing it half an hour later when I went to bed (I was exhausted just watching him) and this morning he's just hanging out in his PVC tube.
<I have seen this behaviour in brackish water fish before, particularly Ariid catfish, where it suggests a migratory instinct. It often goes away after a while, but can be a sign that a change in salinity or water current is necessary, usually towards a more marine set of conditions.>
He's eating in what I've experienced as normal for him - he eats his pieces of algae sheets (red only now - he won't touch the green or the brown) and his Omega One Veggie Rounds. I only give him blood worms on the night before a water change because while the Mollies will eat a little bit of them, he won't touch them - I always find most of them piled up in the part of the tank where the current deposits all the tank "debris". He eats Mysis shrimp, but I only give him those once or twice a week because of the
thiaminase.
<Provided he's eating the other foods readily, I wouldn't worry too much about thiaminase. That's really a concern only where carnivorous fish are exclusively fed thiaminase-rich foods like prawns and mussels. Your goby likely gets thiamin from the algae wafers, which are designed to be a fully balanced food..>
I've put a lot of Prime in the tank since the hose burst, could I have used too much and its bothering him in some way?
<Possibly, but water conditioners tend to be quite benign.>
Is his behavior an indicator I need to increase the salinity in the tank (currently at 1.004)?
<Worth a shot.>
Am I leaving something out of his diet?
<Unlikely.>
Or is this just normal behavior for this species?
<Could easily be. These are big fish that dig burrows. The males tend have to go out and attract females into their burrows (I assume, by analogy with other gobies).>
He looks wonderful, his color is stunning and I don't see any blemishes anywhere on him. Further, he's growing at a staggering rate (earning him the nickname "Moose") and seems to be of a healthy weight. If this sudden need for adventure and exercise is normal, that's great! But, as I said, I've never had this species before so I don't know if I have a problem.
Other than your site, the information on the Internet is useless (mostly vague or outright contrary to what I've learned from you and/or experienced
with this fish). Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
<So long as he's feeding, I'd not be overly worried. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dragon Goby Concern       5/28/18

Ok, thank you.
<You're welcome. Neale.>
Ok, now I'm panicked Ongoing BR Goby       5/29/18

Today is the normal day of the weekly water change for the Goby tank and I don't know if what I saw just developed, or if it started after his suicide attempt and I just couldn't see it. He has red veins in his tail fin.
Not in the body of his tail, but just his fin and the red veins do not go all the way to the body of his tail.
<To be expected... damage from the escape. A bit of septicemia perhaps>
However, he seems to feel fine and was busy "helping" me with the tank cleaning. He's also eating normally.
<Good signs>
As soon as I was done with the water change, I researched the red veins in the tail fin and found a WWM post as follows: "Fish didn't make the move, Violet Gobies (Gobioides spp.) 1/26/08:...<The fish has a systemic bacterial infection, likely caused by Aeromonas spp. similar to those that cause Finrot and bacterial septicaemia. These bacteria block the blood vessels in the epidermis and fins, and this is what causes the inflammation. After a while the surrounding tissues die. The bacteria get in when fish are physically damaged or exposed to high levels of ammonia for extended periods. So either rough handling when you were transporting the fish, or else problems with filter in your new aquarium, were the
triggering issues....". I'll go down to the store Tuesday (they're closed today for Memorial Day) if I need to get him the medication you referenced in this post, but, unlike the individual who started his post, my Goby has been in brackish water and I'm increasing the SG from 1.004 to 1.005 as of today's water change. Also, I've always used Instant Ocean, not/never Aquarium salt. Further,
<Good and good>
I knew I would have water quality problems immediately after the hose break (10 days prior to the suicide attempt) and began using Prime before the ammonia and nitrite began to climb and I'm still using it. So he shouldn't have been affected by the mini cycle.
However, his leap from the tank was from a height of about 5 feet (55 inches from the top of the tank to the floor - vinyl floor, no carpet) unless he first hit the lip of the stand. I wish I could get a picture of
his tail to send you, but all I get is a silver/blue blur. He does not have any redness in any other part of his body and does not seem to have any inflammation in his tail fin as the redness in the veins is very sharp and clear and the "skin" around the veins is not raised. I hate using medication unless its necessary, so I'm asking what I should do.
<Were it me, mine, I'd skip medicating; rely on time going by, good circumstances for cure. Bob Fenner>
*Renee *

Re: Ok, now I'm panicked     5/30/18
Ok, good - I read a lot on your website, even when I'm not facing a crisis, and you've "prescribed" salt for other people for a variety of skin issues in a variety of species - so that's good. I'm still going to go down and get the Maracyn as indicated in the referenced post only because my aquarium supply store is 37 miles from my house.
<Wow; dedication, devotion>
I'd feel better having something on hand in case things get worse. I have KanaPlex, but I don't know if it would help in this situation and I'd rather use something recommended by experienced people.
<Well; there are a number of effective gram positive and negative anti-biotics... Am given to discount their use if not necessary>
So, obviously, if the red veins spread or the skin starts to look inflamed, I should think about using the medicine (maybe by then I'll be able to get a picture of it to send), but how long should it take to heal if the salt is working and if it doesn't heal in a certain period of time, should I use the medicine?
<A few weeks time. I would only treat IF/when the fish shows behavioral issues. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ok, now I'm panicked
Ok, thank you!
<Welcome Renee. B>
Re: Ok, now I'm panicked     5/30/18

He didn't eat last night (which is unheard of since I've had him) and he didn't come out of his PVC tube last night or this morning, so I am going to start an antibiotic this morning. Unfortunately, when I went to the aquarium supply store yesterday, they didn't have Maracyn or Maracyn 2 (they carry it regularly, they were just sold out), and because of the holiday, they won't get anymore in until next Monday. I don't think he can wait that long. I tried the big "chain" pet stores (my only other option around here) but they don't carry it. The kids at both stores had no idea what I was talking about when I told them what had happened and what the Goby was now suffering from - one of them even tried to sell me API Stress
Guard saying it was a general antibiotic. I left with a headache, but not the Stress Guard. So I'm going to start with the KanaPlex that I already have here at the house. It says it treats dropsy, PopEye, fin/tail rot,
and septicemia on the package and specifically says its for marine and freshwater fish. According to the directions, the treatment involves 3 doses, 48 hours apart.
<Ah yes; do change 25% of the water out before each re-treatment and monitor nitrogenous accumulation>
Hopefully it will work, but if not, I'm hoping it will provide him some benefit until my aquarium store is restocked with Maracyn. I have to ask, what are his chances of surviving?
<Good. B>

Ok, now I'm panicked /Neale      5/30/18
Today is the normal day of the weekly water change for the Goby tank and I don't know if what I saw just developed, or if it started after his suicide attempt and I just couldn't see it. He has red veins in his tail fin. Not in the body of his tail, but just his fin and the red veins do not go all the way to the body of his tail. However, he seems to feel fine and was busy "helping" me with the tank cleaning. He's also eating normally. As soon as I was done with the water change, I researched the red veins in the tail fin and found a WWM post as follows: "Fish didn't make the move, Violet Gobies (Gobioides spp.) 1/26/08:...<The fish has a systemic bacterial infection, likely caused by Aeromonas spp. similar to those that cause Finrot and bacterial septicaemia. These bacteria block the blood vessels in the epidermis and fins, and this is what causes the inflammation. After a while the surrounding tissues die. The bacteria get
in when fish are physically damaged or exposed to high levels of ammonia for extended periods. So either rough handling when you were transporting the fish, or else problems with filter in your new aquarium, were the triggering issues....". I'll go down to the store Tuesday (they're closed today for Memorial Day) if I need to get him the medication you referenced in this post, but, unlike the individual who started his post, my Goby has been in brackish water and I'm increasing the SG from 1.004 to 1.005 as of today's water change. Also, I've always used Instant Ocean, not/never Aquarium salt. Further, I knew I would have water quality problems immediately after the hose break (10 days prior to the suicide attempt) and began using Prime before the ammonia and nitrite began to climb and I'm still using it. So he shouldn't have been affected by the mini cycle.
However, his leap from the tank was from a height of about 5 feet (55 inches from the top of the tank to the floor - vinyl floor, no carpet) unless he first hit the lip of the stand. I wish I could get a picture of
his tail to send you, but all I get is a silver/blue blur. He does not have any redness in any other part of his body and does not seem to have any inflammation in his tail fin as the redness in the veins is very sharp and clear and the "skin" around the veins is not raised. I hate using medication unless its necessary, so I'm asking what I should do.
<I do agree that the use of antibiotic would be a good idea, just in case.
The red inflammation in the fins could be reaction to exposure to dry air for an extended period, and until things return to normal, an opportunistic bacterial infection is always a risk, as with humans. Do choose one safe in both freshwater and marine systems, to cover your 'brackish water' bases when it comes to efficacy. Given the fish is feeding and behaving normally, and in the absence of white (dead) tissue, I would not be overly concerned, but I would medicate, yes. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ok, now I'm panicked     5/31/18
Thank you! And thanks for "hanging in there" with us through all this - it means a lot!
<Am very glad to share w/ you Renee. Stay diligent here and all will be well. Bob Fenner>

Goby Update     6/2/18
Less than 24 hours after the second dose of KanaPlex, the Goby's tail is clear - no red veins! I'm still going to finish the 3rd and final dose as prescribed, but wanted you to know that we're battling back!
Thank you again!
*Renee *
<Ah good. BobF> 

Re: green spotted puffer help!  Now Topaz puffers   5/16/18
Hi Neale,
<Hello,>
Whilst still deciding whether to add the figure 8’s. I’ve found a pair of Topaz puffers. I understand these are v similar to the green spotted and therefore may do better with my GSPs?
<Yes; virtually identical in terms of size, behaviour, diet, etc. Taxonomically, real scientists consider the two species almost impossible to separate by looks alone, hence their reliance on DNA markers instead. Hobbyists are a little more confident, but you'll find some specimens on sale with markings that might be suggest either species, so there probably is some patterning and colouration overlap between them we don't always take into consideration.>
Do you know much about their aggression level?
<Variable, much like GSPs. Some specimens fairly easy going, others more snappy. The average specimen is probably a bit more aggressive than the average GSP, but there's not a huge amount in it.>
The ones I have found are c 4-5inches vs. the GSP’s that are currently around 2 inches. I assume this wouldn’t work due to size difference?
<It's worth a shot if you had some egg crate you could use as a divider if things didn't work out. Depends a bit on the size of the tank too. In theory, the two species will cohabit given space, though neither is what you'd call sociable.>
I really like them so thought I’d email you on the off chance you know more about them and can comment in compatibility and whether I can make it work. I am aware various different species are called topaz so I have included a picture below to help. As you can see they look awesome :-) but don’t want to buy them if they’ll likely demolish my GSPs!
<Definitely photos of what the hobby calls the Topaz Puffer, Tetraodon fluviatilis, yes. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!   5/16/18

Thanks
It’s a 120 litre but I plan to upgrade in the next year or so - would that be too small and asking for problems or Ok to try?
<I'd not be keeping a 4-inch/10-cm pufferfish in a 120 litre tank, unless perhaps if it was one of the inactive 'lurker' species. 120 litres/25 gallons isn't a huge volume of water, and while it's fine for one or more juveniles, by the time you start adding near-adult specimens, water quality management is going to become much more of a challenge. Egg crate or similar (e.g., tank dividers sold for cichlids) are useful with aggressive fish if you can't be 100% sure they'll cohabit. Approach with caution. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!    5/16/18

Thanks Neale - I'll avoid them then for now ��
<Cool. Cheers, Neale.>

green spotted puffer help! Sys., nutr.       4/26/18
Hi
I hope all is well,
<And likewise to you.>
I saw some articles about puffers and was hoping you could help. I am looking to set up a green spotted puffer aquascape/bioscope and have a few questions:
- what substrate would be the best/most natural in comparison to their natural habitat?
<Estuarine and coastal marine environments are very varied. But an 'idealised' environment might include a mix of sand and broken seashells on the substrate, perhaps with a bit of gravel mixed in. Rocks are often encrusted with bivalves such as oysters and mussels, so either of those, perhaps siliconed onto the rocks before use, could help to recreate an oyster reef of the sort you see around estuaries and harbours. I'd tend to leave out corals and large, obviously marine seashells like conches, as these tend to favour fully marine environments, so wouldn't be quite so authentic.>
- what plants are found in their natural habitat?
<Primarily seagrasses and mangroves, neither of which are easy. Seagrasses need strong lighting, while mangroves are trees that have only their roots underwater, so while relatively widely traded, they aren't really equivalent to the plants we grow in freshwater tanks. At low salinities, you can use Vallisneria species to mimic seagrasses, but above around 1.003, these won't do well in the long term. Unfortunately for the aquarist, there really aren't any obvious mid to high salinity brackish water plants because such habitats are frequently silty in the wild, so any plants there grow above the waterline. At low salinities though, pretty much anything that thrives in hard water will do well at SG 1.001-1.003, including Amazon Swords, Vallisneria, Java Ferns, hardy Cryptocoryne species, and so on.>
- are the brackish/salt requirements different as juveniles than to adults? What is the ideal level of salt?
<A very complex question! In practice, the salinity isn't critical, so long as it's not freshwater. So if you wanted to keep a GSP at 1.005 indefinitely, it'd be fine. It'd probably thrive in water at SG 1.003 for that matter! But a lot of aquarist find these fish do well in marine tanks, and that opens up a few useful options, including the use of live rock, protein skimmers, and even tankmates like Damsels that are punchy enough to do well alongside puffers.>
-my local shop has some in stock and put aside for me. They are currently in freshwater. How best to introduce the salt to the water? Presumably slowly over regular water changes as opposed to adding loads on day 1?
<Either. GSPs, like most brackish fish, are extremely hardy. In the wild they presumably have to be able to cope with changes in salinity as the tide moves in and out. So while I would set the tank up to match the shop simply to minimise stress, and only change the salinity across several weeks for the sake of the filter, people can and do acclimate them to brackish water immediately after purchase.>
- the ones in the shop are currently juveniles, 1-2 inches, can I fit 6 to 8 in 120 litre tank if I intend to rehouse them into a big tank as they grow?
<Yes, at that size they should coexist, assuming water quality was good and all were feeding well. A singleton can easily fill a tank around the 180 litre mark though, and you'd probably need to allow a good 80-100 litres for each extra specimen. I have seen GSPs kept in twos without bother, but other specimens are notoriously cranky and aggressive. You really do need to keep an eye open for the tell-tale circular bite marks on the flanks -- a good sign of aggression>
-what is the best diet (i know pure meat with some shell fish for their teeth but wondering about regularity/variety). Would frozen bloodworm once a day with shell fish/snails 1-2 times a week be OK? What would be optimum?
<I'm not a huge fan of gorge-feeding predators, even if it is 'more natural'. Let's be clear, GSPs in the wild will be constantly foraging on low-protein foods including algae, organic detritus, and of course various small invertebrates. This is why they seem hungry all the time -- they're programmed, if you like, to constantly feed because what they'd be eating in the wild wouldn't be particularly nutritious. On top of that, predators have a tendency to consume a large amount, digest relatively little, and pass out a lot of organic waste the filter has to process. Regurgitation is a common problem as well. While you'll have to observe your fish and see what works for you, I always preferred to offer small, regular meals that kept the puffers active, rather than filling their bellies to such a degree they'd settle down, curl up, and sleep off their meal for a few hours!>
The shop have put them aside till the weekend so hoping to buy them then.
<Cool.>
I have a freshwater tank already set up and fully cycled (was being used to raise fry) and therefore able to ‘adjust’ it to the scope in a short time frame. Though obviously it is something I want to get right and not rush.
<Understood. GSPs will thrive in freshwater for weeks if not months, particularly if you have hard water. So by all means get the fish home, feeding, and maybe do a small (~20%) water change with water at SG 1.003, so that the resulting aquarium salinity will be barely SG 1.001. That'll be enough to keep the fish in tip-top health, while not stressing the filter bacteria. From there on in, weekly water changes with water at SG 1.003 will nudge the overall salinity up to SG 1.003 after a few weeks. That's still 15% seawater, and more than enough for GSPs in the medium term. You can plan what to do next as they grow.>
Thank you in advance for your help!!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!      4/27/18

Hi Neale
Thank you very much for your detailed reply, I feel in a much more
knowledgeable/informed position to set up the tank
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!     4/30/18

Hi Neale,
Firstly - I got my GSP's - they are awesome!
<Yes, they are. And a good size too, when mature. Big enough to impress your mates, but not so big you need a mortgage to house them properly.>
The tank has a good internal filter, however I just remembered I have a spare external filter and all new filter sponges for it. I was thinking as the puffers are messy - I should add the external filter as I have it anyway.
<Maybe. While pufferfish are messy, you also keep fewer of them in an aquarium than, say, Guppies. I'd be aiming for a water turnover rate around 6 to 8 times the volume of the tank per hour while small, and above around
8 cm/3 inches, I'd kick that up to the 8-10 times per hour. In other words, if your tank had a capacity of 200 litres, you'd choose filters that collectively provide a turnover rate around 1200-1600 litres/hour while they fish were little, and up to 2000 litres/hour for subadult and older specimens. Make sense?>
Is there any issues to having 2 filters?
<None at all. But avoid over filtering while the fish are small, so as not to tire them out. You also don't want so much air/water turbulence that the water becomes supersaturated with oxygen, as that can cause problems. But
other than that, nope, multiple filters is fine.>
Is there any issues to putting on a filter with entirely new sponges?
<Nope. If one filter is mature, and the other entirely new, the new one will be matured within a very short span of time. Alternatively, you can dedicate the new one to mechanical filtration, cleaning out the filter media aggressively, ensuring nice clear water.>
I know normally a 'new' filter would mean cycling the tank - but I assume if there is already a filter on and working and the tank is well cycled then this wouldn't be an issue?
<Correct.>
Thanks
Kind regards,
Nat
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!     5/1/18

Thanks!
<Welcome.>
Apologies for the bombardment of questions - if it is too many please feel free to tell me to stop!
<Will do.>
I have been feeding frozen bloodworms and that has gone down well. In order to vary the diet I wanted to try introduce something else, ideally something with a hard shell in order to help their teeth.
<Yes; I'm skeptical about such foods ever being a 100% solution to the 'overgrowing teeth' problem, but it does help, and some pufferfish species are more prone to the problem than others. Do bear in mind crunching algae from rocks is probably a significant part of their diet in the wild, so it's not just whole invertebrates. You can also take a hammer to mussels and cockles to break their shells a bit, and allow the pufferfish to wear away their teeth as they feed on such food items that might be too big to crunch open whole. Whole frozen cockles are sold in marine aquarium stores, while mussels and cockles are sold in some grocery stores.>
I was thinking of trying live red cherry shrimp at some point. At 1-2 inches are the puffers too small for live shrimp?
<They'll certainly have a good go at them, but this is a crazy expensive way to try and feed them. Red Cherry Shrimps aren't all that crunchy, so their impact on the puffer's teeth will, individually, be minimal. You may as well just collect woodlice from somewhere in your back garden you know is free of pesticides. Much the same amount of crunchiness, readily consumed, and zero cost.>
I was thinking of getting say 10 shrimp and my thoughts were as follows:
Either I could keep them in a breeding trap in the tank and release a few to see if they get eaten and then a few days later a few more.
Alternatively, if the puffers are not interested then I could release all 10, they may breed and increase and eventually the puffers may eat them?
<The Red Cherry Shrimps will be dead in hours, whether harassed or eaten outright.>
I'm not really sure how best to go about this as I've never used feeder shrimp before.
<Some marine aquarium shops sell native shrimps from the Thames Estuary and elsewhere called 'river shrimp' and these make good food for brackish water puffers. They can be gut-loaded before use, and will survive many days, even weeks, in anything from SG 1.005 upwards. They'll survive some hours even in low-end brackish to freshwater conditions.>
If not shrimp - any alternative ideas?
<See above. I'd honestly be less given to live foods for now. You can get good frozen foods that'll be better value, such as Krill, while cockles and white fish fillet provide better nutrients than shrimps do (shrimps contain thiaminase, which we don't want). Whole lancefish are good for bigger GSPs, as are live or cooked crayfish, cooked brown shrimps (expensive, but delicious in potted shrimp!), even things like king prawns like you'd buy in Asian supermarkets. You can also find dried whole shrimps in Asian supermarkets, and these are a good value, if occasional, treat. As mentioned already, crustaceans (and mussels) should be a small part of their diet, with cockles, white fish fillet, lancefish, squid, and insects being generally better all around when it comes to nutrients. Some source of greenery needs to be considered too, whether Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp, gut-loaded worms or shrimps, or even cooked peas and algae wafers, if your puffer takes them.>
I have followed your advice in not overfeeding them ��
<Glad to hear it!>
Thanks again in advance - I really appreciate all of your help ��
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!  And 8's    5/10/18

Hi Neale,
How are you?,
<All good.>
As an update - I started adding salt at my last water change and all seems to be going well!
<Great!>
Quick question - A local shop I noticed have figure 8's in (about 2 inches). My GSP's are 1.5-2 inches. From my research - they both like Brackish and come from similar environments - could I put a few in there?
Or best not to?
<While young, yes, they will cohabit reasonably well. GSPs tend to be a bit more snappy, while Figure-8s are perhaps a bit more active. But there's not much in it either way. As they get older though, GSPs do become substantially bigger and potentially more dangerous. Also remember that they're somewhat different in optimal salinity. Figure-8s are freshwater to low-end brackish, doing best at a low salinity, maybe SG 1.002-1.005; your GSPs, on the other hand, while perfectly fine at SG 1.003-1.005 for long
periods, perhaps indefinitely, are often kept in higher salinities, even full marine conditions.>
I know ultimately the GSP's will outgrow them, but the intention is anyway in 12-18 months to get a bigger tank.
<Ah, yes!>
At which point I'll possibly put the GSP's in the bigger tank and keep the F8's in the existing tank?
<Sure.>
From my understanding it takes easily 2-3 years for GSP's to grow anywhere near full size anyway?
<Something like that, yes. Many specimens never get particularly big, though well-kept ones should comfortably reach 10 cm/4 inches, and be stocky with it.>
Even as juveniles can it be done? Or best to keep species only?
<See above. Yes, but with caution, and likely not indefinitely.>
Thanks
Nat
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffer, please help!      4/6/18
I would like to start by congratulating you on such a marvelous site, You are my one stop shop for any fish related question I have!!
<So no pressure then...>
Unfortunately I have stumbled upon a problem that is proving hard to find help for. I have a figure 8 puffer, alone in a 15 gallon tank. He was bough from a local fish store about 2 years ago, as a fresh water fish but as you advised, I gently introduced brackish water.
<Cool.>
We are having some building work done in our home, so I needed to move the tank, so rather than stressing him out by moving him from one tank to another, whilst doing my water change we decided to move the entire tank, whilst if was only half full, which went very well, ( although rather heavy!) without any hiccups!
<Can be done this way, yes; but do be careful -- the silicone seals aren't very resistant to 'twisting' when the tank is moved, so slow, weeping leaks are a risk when moving a partly filled tank.>
Once moved and the water change completed, in its new location, my puffer was swimming around happily coming to the front of the tank to greet anyone who passed.
<Good oh.>
I was so happy with my little fella coping so well with the move that a few days later I decided to reward him with some live blood worms, as he normally has frozen, which he guzzled down.
<I bet.>
However the next day I noticed that his belly had strange lumps in (and I apologise for my crudeness) his anus seemed rather noticeably open.
<Can happen if the fish has overeaten and the pressure of food behind the anus is forcing it open more than usual.>
This is not just the normal big belly after food, but almost 3 small pea size lumps.
<Likely just mouthfuls of food; I would not worry if the problem cleared up within a day or two.>
I have attached pics to try to show them.
<Yes; can see the issue.>
I read up on you site and though that maybe he is constipated, so I added some aquarium salt to his tank.
<Alongside the marine salt mix? This will achieve nothing. To be clear, it's Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) that helps with constipation and bloating, not common salt (sodium chloride). 1-3 tablespoons per 5 US gallons/20 litres.>
That was 2 days ago now and he doesn't seem to have changed, still 3 large lumps in his belly and although he isnt eating the food I offer him, He is still swimming around as normal and coming to say hello every time I walk up to tank.
<Then I would not worry too much. It is common (though bad practice) for pufferfish to be overfed to the degree they become bloated, and if left a few days, they will sort themselves out. This isn't natural though, and reflects our tendency to provide them with a much richer diet than they'd get in the wild. Epsom salt can help with constipation, as will high-fibre foods such as cooked peas, or failing these, Spirulina-loaded frozen brine shrimp or live daphnia.>
Do you think it could be caused by the stress of the move or is it more lightly constipation? If so how long should it take for the salt to..... relieve him?!
<Epsom salt will work quickly; a few hours.>
Should I just keep adding the aquarium salt to the water once a week whilst I do my water changes until the lumps go? Or is there something else I should try?
<There is NO need to add extra aquarium salt on top of the marine salt mix. Will achieve nothing, and will be raising the salinity somewhat, which may be harmful to any plants in the tank. The puffer won't care, of course!>
As I said he's not eating now either, how long will he be able to survive without food?
<An adult fish this size should be able to go 6-8 weeks without food.>
Is there a chance it could be internal parasites? if so is there a product you would recommend in the UK, Im struggling to find one on the UK market.
<I don't think that's the issue here.>
I am sorry to bombard you with questions, but we have become very fond of the little fella, so any help you could offer would be much appreciated,
<Understood.>
Other info I thought you might want to know is, diet of frozen bloodworms, snails and cockles in shells,
Ph is 7.5
Ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate between 0 and 2.5 ( it wasn't white but a slight pink tone to it)
water salinity 1.005
water temp 24.5
Many thanks and Kindest Wishes,
Emma
<Hope this helps. I would not be concerned about internal parasites or worms unless this persisted for more than a few days. Two days' bloating sounds like constipation, and can be treated without anything more expensive than Epsom salt, which you may well have at home anyways, and checking online, apparently £2.49 for a kilo at Boots drugstore! Way more than you'll need, but nice in a hot bath, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Switching from Freshwater to Brackish    4/4/18
Hello Crew!
<Hello Renee,>
Well, my latest sick Oscar has recovered (thank you Neale) and left this afternoon for his new home.
<Well done!>
So now I have an open 72 gallon tank that I would like to change from freshwater to brackish for a dragon goby.
<Interesting choice. These big, quite friendly fish make good pets. They are a little demanding in some ways, needing brackish water for example, but in other regards extremely tough. Their biology in the wild is fascinating. They live in tidal rivers where they are sometimes forced to survive for hours in a wet burrow when the tide has gone out! So unusually among marine fish they are able to breathe air. Many species in their group lack eyes, and even the ones with eyes have such tiny little eyes it's hard to imagine they see much. In the wild about half their diet is reported to be algae and organic detritus, so needless to say they're not fussy feeders, but their large size does mean they need quite a bit of food.
Besides algae wafers and the like, they readily consume bloodworms, brine shrimps, and other small invertebrates, but even the adults (which can measure over 40 cm/16 inches) very rarely take live fish, even Guppy fry, unless absolutely starving.>
I've done my research and spoke to the company I would be getting the goby from and they say the fish (about 4 inches) is currently a freshwater fish.
<Yes, often the case that they're shipped that way, but trust me, they all come from estuaries and tidal mudflats. They are highly specialised fish, rather like Mudskippers, that only 'make sense' in very specific situations.>
So my thinking is that I would get the fish, put it in my currently freshwater 72 gallon tank, and slowly acclimate both the fish and the tank to brackish water.
<That would work fine. You might want to change the decor of the tank though, which you can do with the filter running. Depending on the circumstances, you might want to remove any live plants (these are unlikely to do well in brackish water) and replace gravel with smooth silica sand (which these gobies like to burrow into). Rocks should be smooth water worn cobbles to avoid scratching the goby, and the use of hollow tube-shaped ornaments will provide useful hiding places. These fish are rather shy initially, so shelter is important.>
But I want to be very careful doing this as I use RO/DI water with Equilibrium and baking soda for a healthy pH/kH which has been working very well.
<Unless your tap water has very high nitrates, there's really no advantage to using RO water instead. Because you're adding minerals to the tap water, and these fish demand high levels of dissolved minerals, tap water rarely
presents any serious problems for brackish water fish. The exception is high nitrate, which can cause algae problems. Otherwise things like ammonia and copper in the water can be treated in the traditional way, with a good water conditioner.>
I plan to use Instant Ocean to make the brackish water.
<A fine choice. But because brackish water fish are less demanding than marines in terms of pH and mineral, even cheap generic sea salt brands can be fine, and save you a few bucks over the years.>
I have sent e-mails to both Seachem and Instant Ocean telling them of my plan and asking these same questions: 1) I normally do 20 - 25% water changes weekly, Can I slowly acclimate the tank through my weekly water
changes or should I do it more quickly or more slowly than once a week?
<I would go much more slowly than this. Assuming the fish is in freshwater now, I'd introduce the fish, and then immediately do a 25% water change with water that has a salinity of SG 1.004-1.005. The resulting salinity in
the tank should be around SG 1.001. That's fine for the first day or two.
I'd then do something similar, a 25% water change with SG 1.004-1.005 water, every other day. Crucially, this would result in the salinity going up gently over the course of a week or so, allowing the filter bacteria to adapt. Nobody really knows if marine aquarium bacteria, brackish water bacteria, and freshwater bacteria are all the same things or different species, so it's best to assume the latter, and allow the tank to do a 'mini cycle' over the course of a few weeks. Once at SG 1.004-1.005, leave the tank alone for a couple of weeks at least. This should be fine for the goby, and if he's feeding happily, there's no need to raise the salinity further for a good while yet.>
2) will the Instant Ocean in the replacement water cause drastic changes in pH/kH as it mixes with the water currently in the tank that contains Equilibrium and baking soda or are there any other potential interactions
between Equilibrium/baking soda/Instant Ocean that I should be aware of?
<There will be little difference in the pH before adding the salt and afterwards, though it might go up a tiny bit. The hardness (both general and carbonate) should go up a little too. But not enough to harm the fish.
Similarly, while these changes will have an effect on your filter bacteria, if you go slow, it won't be noticeable. Normally, there's no need to add Equilibrium and baking soda to tanks with marine salt mix added, because
marine salt mix essentially includes those two chemicals in its formula.>
3) in my research I came across a random post in a saltwater forum that Instant Ocean is not sufficient to keep a healthy kH when used with RO/DI water (this was a saltwater forum, not brackish) and that I would need to
use Seachem Alkaline buffer for that purpose. Would this be accurate for a brackish tank?
<This is a debatable point, but worth thinking about. Normally, marine salt mixes contain alkaline chemicals that buffer against pH changes, so you shouldn't have to add anything extra, such as baking soda or a commercial
alkaline buffer. But if you find the pH drops too quickly between water changes, then you might need to do so. If we recall that pH drops are caused by decaying organic matter in the tank, then if we have a spacious tank that's well maintained, there's no reason to anticipate a rapid drop in pH. Make sense? Bear in mind that these fish come from highly variable habitats, and are MUCH less fussy about pH than their marine cousins. So provided the pH doesn't go below, say, pH 7.5, you're probably fine without adding anything beyond the marine salt mix.>
4) The information I've found said that the best SG for a dragon goby is 1.006, does that sound right to you?
<Anything between freshwater and full marine would be experienced in the wild, so yes, 1.006 is fine. As noted earlier, I'd aim for 1.004-1.005 initially, simply to allow the bacteria in the filter to adapt. Once you go above 1.005 you seem to get a mini-cycle kicking in, so I'd wait for the goby to be settled in, and only change the salinity up if you feel the need, and even then, in little steps through weekly water changes to allow the filter to adapt. What you don't want is an ammonia spike. To be fair, these fish actually handle high ammonia levels quite well, being forced to live in wet burrows at times, but this isn't something you want to deliberately cause for obvious reasons! Furthermore, your final salinity might depend on your chosen tankmates. Many people keep these gobies with
livebearers, whether Guppies or Mollies, since these 'dither fish' help the goby feel more settled and secure, and add some colour and activity to a tank that can sometimes seem a bit Spartan. Mollies are also good for algae
control!>
I have buckets spread all over my bathroom and I'm going to start testing as soon as I pick up some Instant Ocean tomorrow, but any guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I'd love to have this fish, but I
have to be sure I can take care of it well before I jump in. Thank you!
<Hope this helps. These fish are genuinely not difficult to keep. But do make sure they can't jump out: like most eel-shaped fish, this can be risk if the tank has any large holes in the hood. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/5/18
Thank you so much for all the information and guidance.
<Welcome.>
You've made getting this fish fun instead of stressful now that I have a plan!
<Cool.>
Attached is a picture of his/her tank.
<Nice.>
It's a 72 gallon with a Fluval 405 canister filter on it.
<A good filter.>
Tank temperature is 78 degrees.
<Fine.>
The substrate is pool filter sand and all the plants are plastic.
<Both good choices. Algae control may be a problem without live plants though. Various approaches here, from the use of brackish water snails (such as Batman and Spiny Nerite snails, Clithon corona, Clithon sowerbyana, and Neripteron auriculata; also some US native species can work too, e.g., Neritina reclivata) through to careful control of lighting duration (4hrs on, 2hrs off, 4 hrs on) and nitrate control (minimal food in, regular water changes out). Still, if you get the tank right, with a good strong current in particular to keep down blue-green algae, the only pest algae will be diatoms, and they're easily controlled with Nerites.>
It's been up and cycled for a little over a year. It has a plastic egg crate top that I cut specifically to fit this tank that did very well keeping my Rope Fish in there when they had that tank.
<Perfect!>
It has a very snug fit to, so if the fish push on it, they won't be able to move it. That mass of plastic plants in the center is actually covering 4 - 2 inch pvc pipes, one on top of the other and fastened with zip ties. One tube is 24 inches, the next up is 18, next is 12, and the top tube is 6 inches. I know these fish get to be about 16 inches long, but I don't know what to expect in terms of diameter, but I'm prepared to make him/her a new "fish condo" out of 4 inch pvc if necessary.
<Understood. Juveniles should fit happily in the tubes you already have, and under aquarium conditions they're unlikely to get quite so big as in the wild. I think you're going to be fine for a couple years at least, and should you need to upgrade, that shouldn't be hard to do. Any ceramic ornament big enough for an adult Plec will be fine for an adult Violet Goby.>
Also, I have cut holes at 4 inch intervals along the tubes, about 1 inch in diameter, on both sides to ensure water movement within the tube so it doesn't stagnate. I can't find anything online that says these fish like a strong current, so I do not have a powerhead in the tank.
<They do like strong currents, as do most gobies, but I'd be using a strong current more to avoid blue-green algae than for the fish. Still corners tend to be where blue-green algae starts off, and once in your tank, it's a real pain to eliminate.>
I use RO/DI water for all the tanks because I'm on a well in a very rural area and my tap water has 1 ppm of ammonia in it AND human remains (probably wouldn't bother the fish, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies!)
<Understood, and yes, the fish couldn't care less. Ammonia will be neutralised by a good quality water conditioner, and as for the human remains, "parts-is-parts" so far as the biological filter goes. The reason I often advocate against using RO or DI water is a cost issue: people are more likely to do more frequent water changes if they can use the cheap water from the tap. If they need to be spending money on RO membranes, carbon filters, and all the rest of it, they're more likely to minimise the use of new water for doing water changes. Ultimately it's a balance. For sure, RO water is best, but 5 litres of tap water trumps 1 litre of RO when it comes to water changes! Make sense?>
I actually have never tested the tap water for nitrite or nitrate.
<Neither are critical factors here, but if your nitrate is very high, say, more than 20 mg/l, then algae problems are more of a risk, and you should take precautions as mentioned above.>
So I ordered the fish and he should arrive Friday. I have to have him delivered to the fish store where I get my supplies because UPS doesn't come out to my house. When I pick up the fish, I'll pick up the Instant Ocean and the store owner is going to loan me a refractometer until I can afford to buy my own.
<Refractometers are nice an' all, but for brackish they're overkill. At 25 C/77 F, 1.005 water is about 8.9 gram marine salt mix per litre (1.18 oz per US gallon) and can be made up using kitchen scales using these values
according to however much water your bucket holds. For example, a 5-gallon bucket would need 5 x 1.18 = 5.9 oz marine salt mix. Once you've done that, and it's all dissolved nicely, a plain vanilla hydrometer can be used to
check the specific gravity, and if the hydrometer is 'off' a point or two, just make a note of that, perhaps by putting a permanent marker line on the scale, and remember that's the level you want, not the number on the scale.
Refractometers are fiddly and need calibrating, and don't, in themselves, mean you're getting more accurate readings just because they're more precise (accuracy and precision being completely different things).>
Thank you for the suggestion about the Mollies for dither fish, but how many should I get without pushing the stocking limits of this tank?
<Oh, for a tank this size you could safely start with 6-8 specimens and let nature take its course. I'd get a single variety so that you can share the offspring with local pet stores, Mollies being popular fish. If you were feeling ambitious, you could get one of the two Sailfin Molly species, as these occur alongside the Violet Goby in the wild, so that'd been very authentic. Giant Sailfin Mollies in particular are expensive and difficult to breed in freshwater, but in a brackish tank will breed readily, adding value to your set-up. Alternatively, there are things like Micropoecilia picta and Micropoecilia parae that are very beautiful, difficult to keep in freshwater, and rare enough that any offspring produced would be easily sold on. As their name suggests, Micropoecilia are small, so you'd easily be able to keep a large group of them in a tank this size. As we've discussed, Violet Gobies generally ignore small fish, so you should be safe, but you might try out a few Micropoecilia first before buying a whole
bunch!>
So as you read this, can you think of anything I've missed?
<See above! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/6/18
Thank you again! Have a wonderful day!
<Off to the pub to meet a couple of friends, so that should be nice; my toddler deciding to vomit all over the sofa, less of a highlight. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/6/18

P.S. Per your suggestion, I just put a smaller powerhead in the tank. When I moved the BGK and the Ropefish to my 125 gallon, I had to get them a bigger powerhead. So I put their old one back in the 72. I don't remember the gph, but it worked well for the BGK when it was in the 72 gallon.
<Should work fine. To combat blue-green algae, what you want is the water *across the substrate* to be moving. So position the powerhead accordingly.>
Also, you mentioned the goby will need algae wafers for a balanced diet.
Will this fish also enjoy cucumber, zucchini, and peas like my Bristlenose Plecos do?
<Yes indeed. Violet Gobies are omnivorous, and very adaptable in captivity, but all reports on wild specimens confirm that their stomachs are more than half-filled with algae and organic detritus. In other words, very similar
to Plecs, and a similar diet should work nicely. Indeed, have odd little teeth in their mouths that can be used to scrape rocks, and some aquarists have seen them feed this way in their tanks. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/6/18

Oh, I'm sorry about your sofa! But at least you have a little while before the baby starts asking for the car keys!
<Indeed.>
Enjoy your day, and thank you again!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer, please help!    4/7/18
Thank you so much for your quick reply!! I was unaware that the aquarium salt wasn't Epsom salt!!
<Oh! Well, glad to help.>
I did ask in my local fish store and they told me that marine salt ( that I use to make the water brackish) was different to the aquarium salt,
<It is. Aquarium salt is basically sodium chloride, perhaps with some other bits and bobs added, but really not much different to the sea salt you'd buy at the supermarket. Marine aquarium salt mix, on the other hand, is mostly sodium chloride, but also a whole slew of other minerals, like calcium carbonate, used to buffer against pH changes. It isn't "dehydrated seawater" but rather something with the properties of seawater in terms of salinity, but a much higher ability to resist pH changes.>
so I assumed that aquarium salt was another "brand" of Epsom salt..... I know never assume!!!!!
<Sage advice.>
Not a problem, thank you for clearing that up, and off to Boots I go!!!
Thank you again for your help,
You really are the fish whisperer!!!

Kindest wishes,
Emma
<And thank you for the very kind words, Neale.>

OMG! He's Eating!  Dragon Goby      4/8/17
Hi Crew! Hi Neale!
<Hello Renee,>
Just so excited I had to give you an update - the Goby has barely been in his new home for 24 hours and he's out in the middle of the day, with the tank light on (it does have a diffuser) and he's eating. With everything I read about this species on the Internet, I was expecting to have a problem getting him to eat, so this is better than I dreamed possible!
<Certainly sounds promising.>
When I got him home yesterday, he went right to the bottom of the tank and just stayed there for about 20 minutes and then vanished into all the great hiding spaces I made for him. So I did as you suggested and did a 25% water change and mixing the replacement water to SG 1.004. As you predicted, that brought the whole SG of the tank up to 1.001.
<Sounds about right.>
Then I just left the lights off and let him rest for the remainder of the day. Then last night, just before lights out, I made him a little stew of mostly nori, but spiced up with a little bit of chopped bloodworms, Tubifex (Hikari) worms, and some brine shrimp - fed that and turned out all the lights in the room.
<Do be careful not to mince particles of food too small -- these end up in the filter and decay, doing the water quality no favours. Better to have fragments big enough you can remove any surplus easily if you need to.>
Didn't see him this morning, but didn't really expect to, so I just gave him a little bit more "stew" and went about my day. But just ten minutes ago I saw him out swimming around the tank until he found a pretty good sized piece of nori and the he just sat there eating away till it was gone and swam off in search of more. So here's my happy question; my aquarium supply store sells sheets of algae for marine fish. Should I get him some of that? Is it healthier for him? Or should I stick with the nori because he's eating it?
<The algae sheets sold in pet stores for marine aquaria is usually exactly the same stuff as the nori sheets sold in Asian food markets. Use either; use both; whatever suits your budget and/or convenience best!>
(all smiles!)
<Indeed! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: OMG! He's Eating!     4/8/17

Thanks!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: Dragon Goby      5/11/18
P.S. The Dragon Goby that you helped me with that I got in back on April 6th (he was about 6 inches long then) has been responsible for me getting a lot of "guff" from members of the local aquarium club.
<Well, that's good, isn't it!?>
They thought I was wrong to feed him seaweed (green, red, and brown - he loves them all!) and only the occasional bloodworms and Mysis shrimp - they insisted he was a carnivore and needed an exclusively "meat" diet AND a freshwater fish.
<Nope.>
Well, they're eating their words now as he has grown to more than 10 inches in just a month and his girth has quadrupled.
<Cripes!>
He is absolutely stunning with his silver and cobalt blue coloring (I keep trying to get a picture of him, but all I get is a silver-blue blur - I'll send you one when I get it) and he swims around the tank strong and bold as brass day or night, tank lights on or not.
<Quite so. Their other common name, Violet Goby, refers to this lovely colouration they can develop under good conditions. Healthy specimens might not be pretty, as such, given their weird proportions, but they are certainly impressive.>
Now everyone wants to know where I got my information on feeding this fish correctly and I gave them the address for your site.
<Yay!>
Thanks for setting me straight on caring for this beautiful fish!
<Ah, and thanks for this kind, informative and very welcome update. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Violet Goby       5/11/18

Yes, it is good! What's even more fun is to see peoples' reaction when they see him. They don't just stop talking, they stop breathing for a bit (no one as fainted yet!).
<They are certainly distinctive pets!>
I've been looking for more specific information about the different seaweeds that might shed some light on the Goby's menu selections, but so far I haven't been able to find anything (and the nutritional information on the package says they're all the same as far as percentage of protein, fat, fiber, etc.).
<Oh, I would not worry too much: while there is some variation, the essential nutrients in seaweed, such as iodine, will complement nicely the nutritional composition of things like algae wafers and frozen krill.>
But he definitely has his preferences; he always eats the red seaweed first, always.
<Yum! This group, the Rhodophyta, includes many of the ones humans consider most palatable, including Nori and Laver.>
Then he'll eat the green or the brown as he seems to like those equally, unless I have put a Algae Wafer or Veggie Round in the tank - those are preferred over the green or brown seaweed. I'd love to understand why (there I go again with the "why").
<Algae wafers will contain nice smelly proteins that attract fish to eat them. Red algae may well be extra tasty in the same way that your Japanese sashimi wouldn't be as good without the Sushi Nori wrapped around it!>
Anyway, I almost didn't get this fish, which would have been my loss, because the Internet says they are very difficult to transition to frozen foods. Now I know why.
<A common story with many oddballs. They're not difficult; they just can't be kept in a community tank and fed flake. Once you get past that, oddballs offer up some really fun pets.>
Maybe my experience will help someone else make more informed choices and be able to enjoy this incredible gift of nature.
<Quite so. Regards, Neale.>

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