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FAQs about Pearly Jawfishes

Related Articles: The Pearly or Yellow or Golden-headed Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons, Use in Marine Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Jawfishes

Related FAQs:  Pearly Jawfish ID, Pearly Jawfish Behavior, Pearly Jawfish Compatibility, Pearly Jawfish Stocking/Selection, Pearly Jawfish Systems, Pearly Jawfish Feeding, Pearly Jawfish Disease, Pearly Jawfish Reproduction, & Jawfishes 1, Jawfishes 2, Jawfish Identification, Jawfish Behavior, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Disease, Jawfish Reproduction,

Blackcap Basslet vs. Yellowhead Jaw fish [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]   6/23/09
<More public thievery? Defence.gov of what?>
I currently have a 280lt (Im Australian) Reef kicking along successfully, but which to own a few Caribbean species, so Im currently setting up a Caribbean corner tank appx 120lt or 31Us Gal. I was just wondering if it was possible to put in a pair of Yellowhead Jaw fish and a pair of Blackcap Basslet
<Need more room than this>
(owned previously) in this tank, apart from snails and maybe a blood shrimp, this will be the only livestock.
Filtration if sufficient for all of this. Being a corner tank I can set up artificial holes at either end (approx 32 inch apart) for the jaw fish even if they decide not to pair and burrow separately, my biggest concern is will these two species be compatible. Noting they are both from the same region.
<Found in different depths, habitats... in the same geographies. They are compatible... given sufficient room/space>
Do you have any definitive information on sexing of blackcap Basslets
and if so was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I have found some information but it is limited.
<Just the usual Net, books re fishes of the region... Bob Fenner>
Thank you very much for you time,

"Fish remains" question; Jawfish beh.  06/03/09
Hey Wet Web Crew,
<Hi Lindsay.>
I have a strange question that I haven't been able to find a direct answer to in the FAQs. About 2 weeks ago I got a pearly Jawfish. He started burrowing immediately to endless entertainment. He was eating in the store before I got him and was eating the second and third days while in the tank. Then about day 4 he disappeared completely. Since I don't see him coming out to eat, I'm fairly certain he's dead by now.
<Possible, but they often are not visible for periods of a week or more if you cannot watch the tank all the time and will hide very well during cleaning actions. Might be still alive...>
I have my tank completely covered with a fiberglass screen kept in place with Velcro fittings, so I'm really sure he didn't escape (nor is he anywhere on the floor or behind the tank). I have since done a water change
+ cleaning, and much to the unhappiness of my other tank inhabitants, picked up every rock, even moved some of the sand layer, to figure out if there was a skeletal remain somewhere...NOTHING!!!
OK, now for more details. I have a 55 gallon tank that is now 1 year old with about 4 inches live sand, 50 lbs live rock, 1 rusty angelfish, 2 percula clownfish, 1 flame Firefish, 1 purple Firefish, 1 Bluegreen chromis, 1 cleaner shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp, 3 red-legged hermit crabs, 3 blue-legged hermit crabs, 2 emerald crabs, half a dozen snails, and 1 rock urchin. Nitrates 15, pH 8.3, salinity 1.023, and temp ~80. All the
other fish look just fine. I never really saw any aggression towards the Jawfish, except that he did give a wide mouth display when the angel swam past once. I'm guessing this fish was just stressed from the recent move and died without a specific agitator.
<Hard to tell, "vanishing" is not a very helpful symptom for a diagnosis.>
My question is this: how much of a fish can be scavenged if it dies in a tank?
<A lot... in a well running reef. 3 inches of Jawfish can be scavenged over night, even more... it mostly depends on how many scavengers are available and how hungry they are.>
Is it weird that I haven't found any remains at all, or does this happen?
<It does... not rare at all.>
Do you think a skeleton is just still in there somewhere and it will turn up eventually?
<Possible, but not probable.>
I also have quite a few bristleworms; I only mention them because I have seen a couple that are over 6 inches and wasn't sure if that would make a difference (also don't know if it's time to physically remove the really large ones or not). What do you think?
<Would be happily surprised and glad if the fish would turn up again. Would not be so much surprised if you would never ever see a bit of it again. Also see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishdisfaqs.htm >
Thanks, Lindsay
<Welcome. Marco.>

Caribbean Biotope, stocking, new tank media replacement and substrate for Jaw Fish 4/25/09
Hello all,
<Hello, sorry for the slow response here.>
Thanks in advance for answering my questions and for being (at least for me) one of the best online sources of information.
My question is this I read you FAQ on Caribbean Biotope and I wanted to start my own but with some slight differences. I was going to add LR to both sides and leave the center open or maybe just on one side and leave the rest an open area would the latter be better for everybody?
<Either can work fine, tis more of a personal aquascaping choice.>
I have 3 fish now a Royal Gramma, a Lawnmower Blenny, and a Yellow Clown Goby and 2 Peppermint Shrimp that I want to add to my new system.
My new system is a Red Sea Max 65 Gallon all in one and because it is a new system I will leave it fallow for 2-3 months or more so it can get established or my wife makes me.
<LOL! NO reason to wait so long unless you are curing new rock...even then you can accomplish the swap once it is "cured". See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm>
For stocking I was going to add some more fish but I don't know what else to put in there and my wife want to put fish that are seen and not hidden and I don't want to push my bio load because I want to make a reef safe tank with some species of coral that will go with my lighting.
<Okay, again a very personal choice of taste. Research re suitability and compatibility will show you the way.>
My next question is should I replace my foam media with a different type of foam? Also should I replace my ceramic pieces for LR rubble?
<What, where? Do you have LR in the main system?>
My last question is the substrate for the Jaw Fish, I read your FAQ on Jaw Fish systems and I want to make sure that I have my 'ducks in a row' before I start. Can I add 30lbs of Aragonite Aragamax sugar sand, (1st layer) 40lbs of Ocean Direct Caribbean Live Sand (2nd layer) and 10lbs of Florida Crushed Coral sand (3rd layer) or would I have to add more to make my new Jaw Fish happy?
<This will put you at about the bare minimum IMO. I would include some more CC or even some larger shell type pieces.>
Thank You,
Ramon and Sons
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Jawfish System/Behavior 4/8/2009
<Hi Clynt>
About two weeks ago I purchased a Jawfish who made his burrow.
<One of my favorite fish, I have two myself>
After he was established in the tank and doing well I decided to add a 2nd Jawfish (a week later). The morning after adding the 2nd Jawfish I could not find him/her.
<Very common with Jawfish.>
After 4 days I figured she had died and was buried under ground.
<Some will hide for days...>
Well when I went to feed the fish I noticed that the 2nd Jawfish was in the same burrow as the original Jawfish.
He/She was very timid and only popped their head out of the burrow. It didn't seem like she was eating anything.
What do you suggest I do about her not eating?
<Target feeding with a turkey baster works well - Mysis shrimp are accepted quickly, then you can wean them onto pellets.>
Why do you think they are sharing the burrow?
<Normally for mating, but it is really anyone's guess.>
I know they share their burrow when they mate but I don't think they would have mated in 4 days.
<Seems unlikely, but it is possible, Many "normal" behaviors in the wild do not apply to tanks.>
Any information will help, Thank You!
<Keep trying to target feed, enjoy your new fish!>

Jawfish: System/Behavior/Compatibility 4/8/2009
Howdy gentlemen,
<Hi Matt>
Long-time reader, first time writer. I've got a 33 gallon Red Sea Max reef tank that's been established for a little over a year. All measurements, salinity, well within limits and I use activated carbon, a protein skimmer, and Purigen for filtration. I've got the following livestock:
- Percula Clownfish
- Mystery Wrasse
- Pygmy Angelfish (very small/young)
- Red-headed Jawfish (the name the LFS gave me)
(and a variety of soft and LPS corals)
<A bit crowded for a 33 gallon.>
The Jawfish is a recent, and very entertaining, addition to the tank.
When I first added him, he hunkered down in a corner and stayed quiet. After a few days, though, I came home, he'd made a burrow for himself, and the next day he was eating frozen mysis, Formula 1 pellets, and Formula 2 pellets (didn't care for the frozen formula 2, oddly). That was about a week ago.
Since then he eats daily, his color has perked up, and he has stopped hiding so much in his burrow.
<Sounds like he has adjusted well. Very good.>
My only concern is that he's moved burrows probably three or four times, from the back of the tank, to the front of the tank, to the side, back to the front. After the first two times, I thought perhaps the issue was the
depth of the substrate (currently a fairly coarse aragonite), so I have added some additional mixed coarseness substrate to some of the areas where the substrate was a little thinner (2" - 2 1/2") and he seemed to want to hang out. Despite this, he's moved out and back twice more - I even caught him in the act this morning:
<Something is harassing him.>
When I got home after work today, he'd made the burrow featured in the video, covered one of my plate corals with substrate...and then moved back to his original burrow in the back. After a somewhat rambling intro (my apologies), my question is - is this behavior something I need to be concerned about? Perhaps a symptom of displeasure with the substrate? Or is this just normal behavior?
<They will move from time to time, but if he is moving constantly, he is unhappy with something - it is usually harassing tankmates. I would suspect the Angel or the Wrasse>>
If you don't mind my asking a quick follow-up question, my Pygmy Angelfish is, right now, very very small - maybe 3/4" long. I was concerned that as it grew, I might be overstocking my tank with the other three fish. Do you agree, or should I be comfortable with those four fish going forward?
<It is a bit overstocked in my opinion, more from a psychological crowding perspective. The Pygmy Angel in particular is a rather boisterous\territorial fish.>
I wanted to thank you for the service you provide - it's a wealth of information, and I try to read some several times a week. I've learned a ton, and I consider myself a better aquarist for it (including my
ownership of the Conscientious Marine Aquarist). Thanks very much for your time.
<My pleasure>
Take care,

Re: Jawfish: System/Behavior/Compatibility 4/8/2009
Thanks for the prompt response - I hadn't seen any harassment, nor competition for food, as I made sure to feed the other fish up front generally, and target feed the Jawfish with a turkey baster one pellet at a time.
<Sounds good, but the difference is, what we perceive as bullying and what the fish perceives as bullying.>
However, I'll keep an eye on the Jawfish over the weekend when I'm at home and see if there's any visible harassment, or if things settle down..
<Sounds good.>
As far as the overstocking, I'll be starting a fish tank at the office, and I'll see if I can't move the angelfish to that one once it is established - it's very pretty and active, and I think it would be a pleasant sight there.
<They are>
Again, thank you for your time,
<Again, my pleasure>

2/20/2009 Jawfish sys, stkg pearly Jawfish compatibility Hello Crew! <Hi Danny> Let me apologize upfront, my e-mail system tends to put random question marks through my letters. <I see this.> I've recently acquired a JBJ 24 gallon nano. It is currently cycling with 35 pounds of live rock and over 40 pounds of Fiji pink live sand, so I will not be getting any fish for at least a month. <Very good!> I have in mind that the star of my new little tank is going to be a pearly Jawfish. I've been reading through forums and the FAQ's here of course, to find suitable tank mates. However, I read conflicting information on whether a pearly would peacefully reside with a black cap Basslet, Firefish (red or purple), or royal gramma.? Just to clarify, I am considering just one of those fish with the pearly. Some posts say their niches are too close, others say those fish will reside closer to the rock work and will not bother with the Jawfish. I want to make sure the pearly Jawfish is happy and will not have any conflict with other fish or be out competed. So, are any of those fish compatible? Any recommendations would be great...as you can see, I am particularly found of the elongated gobies and Basslets. :) <Well Danny, they are personally one of my favorite fish as well. I currently have one in my 150 Gal with a Royal Gramma, Blackcap Gramma, and a Firefish. I would say that your best choice here would be to have just the Jawfish and a Firefish.> Thank you for your time! <No Problem> Danny N. <Mike>

2/20/2009 Jawfish sys, stkg, a bit too small for what is desired. Re: pearly Jawfish compatibility   2/22/09 Thanks for the quick reply Mike! <Hi Danny, no problem> I have in mind to add a pearly Jawfish, Firefish, clownfish, and then royal Gramma (in that order) to this tank. <For a 24 gallon system, I would add the Jawfish, a Firefish and nothing else. With a 24 gallon tank, you are going to lose almost 10 gallons of capacity between the live rock and the deep sand bed that both of these fish require. Neither a Clownfish nor a Gramma would be happy in a tank of this size, and certainly not together.> I know that is probably pushing the fish limit on this tank. <Well past the limit I'm afraid.> Do you think they will be all compatible then? <Grammas and Clownfish can and do get territorial, you would have aggression issues putting them in a tank this size. They would likely bully each other and certainly bully the Firefish and Jawfish. A Jawfish and a Firefish should get along well in this setup, then add a couple of hermit crabs, perhaps a cleaner shrimp, a snail or two, and some macroalgae you would have a very nice display that will not be too difficult to maintain. I have intricate rockwork, lots of holes, crevices, and arches. Just want your expert opinion. <Sounds like it will be a very nice looking tank, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that you keep any more than two fish in the system.> Thanks again! <My Pleasure> Danny <Mike>

Mixing Jawfish Question 11/19/2008 Hello Crew, <Hi Riley, Mich here> The yellow headed Jawfish is probably my favorite fish, <Is one of my favorites too!> and I was thinking of adding five of them to form a colony in my 120 gallon (the 60" 18" footprint) FOWLR system. <Sounds awesome! Presumably you know these fish have a propensity for jumping and need a deep sand bed for borrowing.> Would this number work? <I would think, I have seen them this dense in the wild.> Also, I can't seem to find good info about mixing different Jawfish species, so I was wondering if other types of Jawfish such as the bluespotted, dusky, and black cap could be mixed in as well, if there were five yellow head and 1 each of the others? <Hmm, I don't have any personal experience mixing any of these congenerics. But if you do so, do so cautiously and have a way to separate these fish if need be. Some of these fish are known to fight conspecifics to the death.> If these would be too crowded together, would one of each of the different Jawfish work? <I think you have a greater chance of success if you stick with one species, the Yellowheaded or the Dusky would be the best choices.> If they can't be mixed, what would be the most Yellowheaded Jawfish I could have in my tank? <I think 5 of the Yellowheaded is good place to start, you might be able to add more, but I think it's better to be conservative.> The tank mates at the present would be a pair of Ocellaris clownfish and 7 Green Chromis. If the chromis' aggressive eating habits would spook the Jawfish too much, <Just make sure some of the food gets low in the tank to allow the Jawfish to eat without straying too far from their borrows.> my club members would be happy to buy them from me. <Is always good to have a back up plan!> What would be some good schooling tank mates? <Cardinalfish> I was thinking maybe some orange striped cardinal fish would be nice. <I think this is an excellent choice!> thanks, Riley <Welcome, Michelle>

URGENT - JAWFISH SAVED FROM FLOOR, sys.    10/23/08 Hi there <Hello> I haven't looked through your other answers as i don't feel i have time. <? So... waiting hours for a response...?> About 30 minutes ago I heard a splashing from my tank, which is covered apart from the two back corners of glass which have corners cut off for cables to run through anyhow i had a quick look couldn't see anything amiss. About 5 minutes later i checked again moved a portable heater (not on) to discover my yellow headed Jawfish on the floor - still gasping i scooped him up and popped him back in the tank he swam round a bit disorientated for a while and has now hidden under a rock. Do you think I should move the rock to see how he is or is there anything i can do to reduce the stress - if he is still alive? Desperate Thanks Tracy <? Can't tell from here. Best to leave as is... hope for the best. RMF>

Re: URGENT - JAWFISH SAVED FROM FLOOR, new adj.   10/23/08 For the record I have just found the half eaten carcass consumed by the reef lobster - so your sarky <sarky (sär'ke) adjective sarkier sark'·ier, sarkiest sark'·iest Brit., Informal sarcastic> remark at the start of your response doesn't help. <Thank you for the follow up... do read re Opistognathid systems... on WWM... need to be thoroughly covered... BobF>

Yellow-Headed Jawfish Colony (ooh, how cool!) -- 09/12/08 Hi, <<Hello>> I have a 55 gallon tank that I am thinking about using to create a home for a small colony of yellow-headed Jawfish. <<Very nice, these are very interesting fish to observe in colony habitats'¦I'm hoping you have been going your homework re>> I am trying to determine how many Jawfish I should add. <<I see'¦ A few decades back when I worked in the live fish department of a local Pier 1 Imports store (yep, they carried tropical fishes back then) we had a 40-gallon setup with a dozen or so Opistognathus aurifrons in it that seemed to do very well. But, many authors these days will advise limiting stocking of this species to avoid constant battling to either one for about every ten gallons of tank capacity, or for about every square-foot of substrate surface area. The success of that 40-gallon Pearly Jawfish tank so many years ago may well be put down to the fact that is was grossly 'overcrowded' (note that I did not say 'overstocked'). You can sometimes see this strategy with highly territorial species like Marine Angels and Tangs, where a large number are 'squeezed' in to a system in an attempt to nullify interspecies aggression (ever seen the 75-gallon tank at the LFS with 12 Yellow Tangs in it that 'appear' to be getting along?)'¦'¦is not always successful, and when it is, is not always for the long term. I'm not going to suggest here that you add a dozen Opistognathus aurifrons to your 55'¦so take what you want from this>> The tank has a 1 foot x 4 foot footprint. Some places seem to suggest a rule of thumb of 2 sq foot per fish. <<For some of the larger species, yes'¦and more'¦but only about half that is need for the Pearly/Yellow-Headed Jawfish in my opinion>> But with this rule, my 120 gallon tank (2 feet by 4 feet) could only hold 4 Jawfish! So, I am wondering if it would be bad to add 4-6 Jawfish to a 55 gallon tank? <<Four would be fine for the 55'¦I think you might even get away with five'¦especially if all added at once to the display>> The tank would have 4-6 inches of varying grades of sand, <<I would go with 6-inches of the mixed substrate'¦the happier the fish are with their burrows the less prone they will be to jump>> some bits of rubble and a protein skimmer. That's it. So what do you think? <<No other fishes? Excellent!!! These wonderful little fish are always best kept to species-specific systems, in my opinion. It sounds to me like you are well on your way to a very nice display>> Another option is to use the tank to house a colony of garden eels. <<Mmm'¦>> How many would you recommend for a 55 gallon tank? <<None'¦ These fish are much more difficult to keep than the Jawfish you propose (needing a constant laminar current to suspend a continuous supply of planktonic (preferably live) food organisms'¦and of course the facility to culture such)'¦and would require a tank at least three times this size just to start, in my opinion. I'm not saying it can't be done or that the eels couldn't be trained/wouldn't eat frozen fare, but you are much more likely to be successful with the Jawfish>> Thanks, Nate Terry <<A pleasure to share'¦please do keep me posted on the progression/success of this interesting display. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Jawfish Behavior 9/21/06 Hello WWM crew! <Hi Scott> I have a question regarding a Yellow Head Pearly Jawfish I purchased for my 30 gallon reef.  I added the Jawfish to the tank about one week ago, on 9/13/06.  After adding him, on the first night, he found a place in the front of the tank and just sat there overnight. <Unusual.  Did you acclimate with lights out?> The next day, when the lights came on, he dug a burrow underneath a large rock. Since that time, he has covered the hole to his burrow and refuses to come out.  Thinking he might be dead, I dug out the opening of the burrow and within several minutes he appeared from the burrow, only to begin covering the opening again.  During my research I read that they can survive for a week to ten days with no food, but what I found very troubling was that yesterday, after I dug open the entrance to his burrow again to get him to show himself, I tried to feed him some brine shrimp that had Garlic Extreme added to it. I put the brine in a dropper and shot it at the opening to his burrow and he took a mouthful of it, only to spit it out the opening of his burrow! He did the same thing with a piece of krill. He insists on having his burrow completely closed up and I can locate no other openings around this rock. I have been able to find no literature or any other aquarist who seems to know why he buries himself completely under that rock. Thank you very much for your time and any help you can offer. <Scott, as you know, it is quite normal for Jawfish to burrow.  I'd be worried if it didn't burrow.  I'm thinking he is burrowing under the rock as the depth of sand is not to his liking and there are no small pieces of rubble for him to reinforce the burrow.  Five to seven inches of sand is ideal for these guys.  If this is provided, they will generally burrow near a rock, but not directly under it.  They seem to feel more comfortable with a 360 degree view of their surroundings.  On feeding...Jawfish can sometimes be troublesome in this regard.  Best way to acclimate in this regard is to offer live food, then slowly try to acclimate to a good quality frozen food chopped into small pieces.  It is always a good idea to use a dropper and direct food near the burrow. Another problem may be tankmates.  They do not do well with aggressive eating fish and/or aggressive fish period.  If this is your case, the Jawfish will do well and eventually die.  Jawfish do much much better in a specie tank, preferably with three to four other Pearly Jaws.  They seem much more comfortable this way as each fish is always on the lookout, and when one retreats to his burrow, the rest follow. It reminds me of Meer Kat behavior.  Hoping this will help you.  Do check out our info on Jawfish on the Wet Web Media.  James (Salty Dog)> Scott

Re:  Jawfish Behavior  9/21/06 James, <Scott> Thank you so much for your reply to our question! <You're welcome.  Scott, in the future, please reply with the original query. Makes it much easier to file/place.> It is greatly appreciated. If I may trouble you for one last time for a final question, please comment on the following. As you mentioned, it is quite common for Jawfish to burrow in the substrate, however, all the literature I have found in my research describes their burrowing as having a hole or entrance to the burrow, from which they will peak out or stick their heads out the burrow opening. This particular Jawfish buries himself completely, seals off any openings to his burrow, and simply stays put constantly.  The only time I see him, and the only chance I get to try to feed him, is if I pull the sand away from the front of his burrow so he has to come out to close it up again. <As I mentioned earlier, the recommended sand depth is 5 to 7 inches for the Jawfish to construct a burrow to his liking.  Again, they do much better in a specie tank in groups of three or more.  No aggressive feeders should be present along with aggressive fish.  Good tankmates would be Firefish.> I acclimated him with the lights off for a full day, turning them on the following morning. There is about 3 inches of substrate of an aragonite sand and a crushed coral mix. <Yes, please re-read the original query with my comments.> The other inhabitants of the tank include a small clownfish Amphiprion Clarkii that is a rather aggressive feeder and a six line wrasse, who just slowly graze the live rock for food.  There is also a small Coral Banded Shrimp that is very inquisitive and some hermit crabs acting as a clean up crew.  During my research I found information suggesting that large aggressive fish could cause a problem, but I was able to find no mention of the particular fish in my tank.  The place I bought the fish from, Live Aquaria, assured me these fish would be fine with the Jawfish. Would it be a good idea to remove the Clarkii to a holding tank for a while? Maybe the Coral Banded Shrimp as well?  This little Jawfish is proving to be quite reclusive. <If you want to enjoy the antics/personality of these fish, I'd set up another tank large enough to keep three of them.  Blue Legged Hermits and a few snails would make a good clean up crew.  Otherwise, your chance of success with these fish will be minimal.  They are a shy fish and become nervous with other fish hanging around.  A feeling like...if you thought four or five guys were hanging around your house, waiting to beat you up when you came out, would you go outside? Maybe, but very cautiously.> Once again, thank you so much for your valuable time and input. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Respectfully, Scott

Jawfish - MIA? - 09/15/2005 Thank you for a wonderful website. <Glad to be of service!> My question is about my Jawfish.  I put it in about 1 month ago and it was visible for about 2 weeks.  It has since disappeared.  My substrate seems to have received a work-over during the night on a regular basis.  Substrate is continuously moved and piled up in different places.  Is it possible for this fish to be alive and living under the substrate where it cannot be seen or is something else doing the construction work?  Please help. <It is possible that the Jawfish is still around, perhaps doing his work at times that he isn't or can't be observed, and remaining well-hidden much of the time.  Of course, it is entirely possible that something else is doing the remodeling.  Not knowing anything about your system or what you've got in it, there is no way for us to know.  Sneak out at night after lights-out on the tank with a flashlight with a red film over it, and see if you can find the Jawfish - or another culprit - doing some late-night redecorating.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Powder Blue / Pearly Jawfish Hi Bob, Got a couple of questions to ask if you don't mind :) <<I don't think Bob minds at all, I get to answer the email... I hope YOU don't mind ;-) >> I have a 50 gallon reef, with ample filtration, great water conditions and water movement. Until last week, the only fish residents were to false Percs. When I went to the fish store last week, I saw this little 2-3 inch powder blue in a really bad tank, overcrowded by a lot of other fish, many of which were tangs and since it was so small, it was getting into really bad shape. I couldn't help it and decided to rescue the poor little guy. I know what I have isn't exactly suited for a powder blue but if it does happen to make it pass the mysterious death period of the first 2 months, I do plan to go to a bigger tank later on as it grows. <<If you do make it through this period, I would get the larger tank before it grows - large quarters are necessary to make this tang feel comfortable.>> Right now, it is doing much better than it was in that nasty tank before. Its body is rich blue and head is deep back, as compared to the pale colors it was exhibiting before. However, it only excepts very little bit of the food I offer it so far (Formula 2, Formula 1, brine shrimp soaked in vitamins, <<you should really use Mysis shrimp instead of brine - brine shrimp, regardless of gut loading and vitamin soaking are bunk.>> and rather spends his time picking off algae from the rocks, rear glass panel and the sand/crush coral. <<Yes, and you should probably try to substitute this with algae based foods, dried seaweed, Nori, etc.>> It is not showing any signs of emaciation as it is quite robust. Will he begin to eat more of what I offer him soon? Also does the powder blue eat hair filamentous algae like soft hair algae (I previously had a yellow tang and it ate all that hair algae up with a gusto). <<I would say this is different from tang to tang, but yours may find an appetite for it in time...>> In addition, sometimes it swims around the tank exhibiting the lines going down the blue part of his body (signs of aggression), I think perhaps looking for a fight? <<These color changes can mean all kinds of things, surprise, stress, aggression, depression, sleepy-time, etc.>> Is this normal for a new addition (4 days)? <<Well, most fish take weeks to adjust to a new tank so... I'd say the flashing is normal for a fish who is feeling a little out of join in a new tank.>> Lastly, I added a pearly Jawfish at the same time and this fish is quite comical. Although I hardly see it, I do enjoy watching this fish more than I thought. Its already dug itself a nice burrow with and continues to do stuff with the sand/crush coral and stirring up the sand bed. Yesterday, it ate for the first time several brine shrimps since I saw it peeking its head out from the burrow......When do you think this guy will come out a little bit more and eat a bit more? <<Well, these fish are known for staying mostly out of sight. In the burrow most of the time. Will likely only leave the hole for food if it doesn't drift by.>> Will it do okay with the powder blue in the tank? <<I think it will do fine.>> It really seems to me that the Powder Blue scares it when it swims by and it quickly zooms back in the tunnel. <<Well, the Jawfish is likewise a bit uncomfortable with the new surrounds. Give it some time.>> Does this mean that I have to get rid of one of them? <<No.>> Thanks Bob, sorry for the long e-mail and I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Jimmy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Land of The Lost...(Missing Jawfish) I've had my jaws for three weeks now. <Wow- I've had mine all my life...almost broke one surfing once, but that's another story...Scott F with you tonight...Sorry about the wisecrack- but you gave me an opening- I HAD to take it!> They even dug a neat little hole at the back corner of the tank.  Three days ago they vacated the premises.  I have looked in the sump, in the overflow, on the floor and every hole I can find without tearing the tank apart.  Is this normal?  If they were dead I am sure they would've showed themselves by now.  I would have seen the scavengers all munching on them and I have not seen that yet. <Well, Jawfish can and do hide in rockwork, as well as in the sand. I would not give up. On a darker note: It is quite possible that fishes could die in an established reef system and be consumed by the scavengers in your tank (without your noticing) and leave no traces...Keep an eye out for these guys... If they are alive- they'll show themselves eventually...Regards, Scott F>

Continual Relocation (Bagman Jawfish).... <Hi Grunfled, MacL here> Have a 125g AGA....population, IPSF bottom feeders, 3 yellowtail damsels and 2 yellow headed Jawfish.  Running an ETSS Reef Devil in their sump.  Tank up since 04/16...live rock, fully cured, added 04/30...all readings fairly normal. <Which means?> The 2 jaws settled in nicely 3 weeks ago and immediately dug burrows, quite near one another actually...looked like they were even inter-connected under some live rock.    Well, 5 days ago, jaw #2 disappeared...found him in one of the overflows (tank is 100% glass covered)....retrieving him (her) she fell into the small space between the inner and outer shell of the overflow (new style).... she came back out in the AM...and I re-caught her and returned her to the main tank... now she has moved virtually every day...inside a live rock on day 1.....dug a corned burrow on east side of tank on day 2.....returned to west side corner on day 3 (near her "partner"...these 2 were co-habitating a small tank at the LFS and not fighting, so maybe a pair?)......packed-up and moved to the east side hole (it's really not a burrow) this AM but is actually under a mess or Chaeto macro that I've got there....not eating hardly at all... <These fish do best with feeding by the turkey baster method.  Meaning take some Mysis or other meaty food, chopped into tiny pieces and put it in the baster and feed them directly over their home.> oh, yeah, the question....is this typical...will she settle in...geez, it's a 125g wit 4" or better of substrate (oolitic sand plus the Carib sea reef sand plus tons of shells plus crushed coral....is the other jaw bothersome?...heck, they lived, slept and ate next to one another for 2 weeks before this "bagman" routine started.... <I love these fish they are so very wonderful.  Actually its very typical for them to keep moving around until they find the "perfect" home.  Even if a pair, often they will want their own space. They will constantly rearrange and move their burrows around once one is finally picked.  That's part of their charm. I think that eventually they will calm down for you, its like a kid in a candy store, too many good places to live.> Thanks, Grunfled in Detroit <Good luck>

Jawfish Question Hi,<Hi there! MikeD here> I have a 50 gallon saltwater acrylic tank. In the tank I have a maroon clown fish, a Pelewensis Butterfly, a Yellowheaded Jawfish and a chocolate chip starfish. I have had all the fish for at least 4 months<Wow. That's pretty close to a full load>. As of the other day, my Yellowheaded Jawfish started eating less then usual. Also, the Jawfish had been hovering over her/his hole, but has started (again as of the other day) to swim all over the tank. Is this normal behavior or do I have a problem?<That's hard to say. It's common for them to relocate on a regular basis, but they ARE sensitive to high nitrates, so it could be either. You don't mention whether or not you have a skimmer, but I'd suggest changing about 5 gal/per week to keep nitrates at an absolute minimum> Please help. I am still a novice and am afraid I will always be.   My water parameters are: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, pH 8.2, Nitrate 40, Salinity 1.022.<The parameters appear OK, but yellowheads are more of a true reef fish, thus tolerate change poorly, the reason I suggested weekly, rather than monthly changes, as many people do> Thanks Lou

Jawfish Question (continued) <Hi, Mike D here> Thank you for your quick reply.<You're welcome>  Currently I do water changes every three weeks, about 30%.<The problem doing it this way is that you're allowing a build up, then doing a large drop, all at once. I do 5 gal/week, making it a 5 minute job that too easy to even bother putting off and have been having great results, utilizing nothing but dechlorinated tap water>  Would adding bio-Spira help at all?<Is this a product? If so, I'd probably advise against it>  Is there any living being I could add that would help to keep the nitrates down?<Sure. Any type of macro-algae utilizes nitrates and phosphates for fertilizer, so any that you encourage to grow are a big assist. Many people install a lighted sump with lighting that's on 24/7, while I prefer to grow the fauna in the tank itself, which the fish seem to love.>  Thank you.

Jawfish Behavior (9/8/04) <Please capitalize the first letter of sentences and the proper noun "I" so we and our readers can read your messages more easily. It takes a lot of our volunteer staff's time to fix this.> First of all just want to say that I love your site, I read it all the time when I get a new fish to learn about it. My question today is I have two yellow head Jawfish, I bought them from a pretty nice pet shop and both were pretty young and sharing a burrow. After floating the bag for about 20 minutes I let both Jawfish go. Immediately  both swam under a rock and began building a burrow. Both are fine now as they both live in the same burrow, one live in front of the burrow and the other in the back of the burrow since the burrow they share has two opening. The front end to the other end of the burrow is about 5 inch apart. so really the two Jawfish is 5 inch apart from one another. <Are you certain this is a single burrow with two openings, not two separate burrows.> My question is, could this be a male and female pair? <could be> Or is it possible for two male and two female to pair up, <not so likely> because I read some where that they are really aggressive against their own kind. <Only in tight quarters. Several can co-exist in a large tank if they can stay about 12" apart, as in the wild where the live in colonies.> Or do you think that when their young they aren't aggressive toward each other but when they get older one of them have to leave the burrow. I do see them both taunting each other with there huge mouth now and then but I know nothing fatal will come out of it because both share the same burrow at night when they sleep. If both is a pair is this normal. <Who's to say what's normal or not? If they get along, then it's normal for those two and you needn't worry.> Is the taunting of the with their mouth normal. <Yes, could be playful, sexual, or aggressive. If they get obviously aggressive toward each other they may need to be separated, but if they pair up or your tank is big enough (say 75+ gallons) everything should be fine.> Thanks a lot for helping with my questions. <Hope this helped. Steve Allen.>

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