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FAQs on Dartfishes 1

Related Articles: Dartfishes,   CA: Family Microdesmidae, the Worm- and Dartfishes by Robert Fenner and Anthony Calfo, Gobies

Related FAQs:  Dartfish 2, Dartfish Identification, Dartfish Behavior, Dartfish Compatibility, Dartfish Selection, Dartfish Systems, Dartfish Feeding, Dartfish Disease, Dartfish Reproduction,

Ptereleotris evides in the Maldives.

Firefish Free-For-All (Keeping Several Firefish Together) 6/31/05 Hi all, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> We recently purchased 3 Firefish (after reading through all your articles and FAQs on the subject, of course).  Eventually, they are to be housed as the only fish in our 55g refugium.  Sadly, our quarantine tank is only 10g so we knew quarters were going to be tight for the first month.  One of the Firefish has quickly (within 2 days) assumed dominance over the tank and is bullying the other two, to the point that their fins are torn and they spend their time either hiding or fleeing from the bully.  This sounds all-too-similar to the other stressful Firefish deaths detailed on your site and we'd like to avoid that outcome. <Yep- a common occurrence, unfortunately.> Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with the situation?  If we have to remove a fish, should we remove the bully or the other two? <Personally, I would be hesitant to keep a group of firefish in all but the largest systems (several hundred gallons). Virtually every time I have tried (or people I know have tried) keeping multiple Firefish together, one inevitably becomes the "Alpha Fish" and succeeds in beating the others to death. I've seen people start with groups of 5 or more of these fish and end up with just one..> If we can somehow separate them during quarantine (by setting up another 10g tank?), what are the odds that the same behavior would return once they were reunited in the 55g? <Probably pretty good. And If you take away the bully, the next guy in line will step up and make life miserable for the other one...If you still want to try this, I'd get a couple of tank dividers and put them in the quarantine tank.> Thanks in advance! Kevin and Susan <My pleasure, guys. I don't want to be overly negative- it's just that myself and many hobbyists I know have had a notoriously difficult time keeping several of these fishes together. Maybe you'll have better luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Firefish Free-For All (Pt. 2) 6/31/05 Update: Just after I wrote this mail last night, we isolated the bully Firefish in a colander.  Sadly, the damage apparently has already been done for one of the other two, who later last night repeatedly threw himself against a pile of rock rubble until he showed bright red bruising all along one side. He then dug himself into the bottom of the rubble pile and drew his last breath :-(. <Sorry to hear that...> On the bright side, the other remaining, beaten-up fish is already showing signs of improvement.  Even if the trend continues though, we still have the original dilemma of what to do with these guys in the longer-term.  Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Kevin and Susan <Well, I'd try to find separate homes for both fish. It's just a risky proposition keeping these guys together...Not much else I can suggest here. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Ribbon goby Hi,  anyone there have any experience with keeping blue-barred ribbon (or razor) gobies (Oxymetopon cyanoctenosum)? <Have seen this microdesmid (dart goby family member) sold at times> A LFS has a very nice feeding specimen that I was thinking about purchasing and was curious if  y'all had any information on them. Thanks! Charlie Mann <Times when I've seen them kept successfully they were in a grouping... not solitary... in a peaceful setting... That's unfortunately all I know. Bob Fenner>

Re: ribbon goby Thanks a ton....there seems to be a paucity of information about these guys...if I end up getting him/her, I'll let you know what I find out. Charlie <Thank you. Do appreciate the sharing... will post for alls edification. Bob Fenner>

Firefish goby I have a 25 gallon tank with 8 gallon sump and 4 gallon hang-on-back refugium. This tank has 4-5" of sandbed, live rock, assorted corals and a pearly jawfish, citron goby pair, a Rainford goby, a crocea clam, and a cleanup crew of assorted snails, a brittlestar, 2 small blue-legged hermits, and a pair of peppermint shrimp. The tank has been established for 8 months or so and everything is thriving. I had a bi-color blenny in there until recently, and removed him because of aggression against his tankmates and tendency to nip at my clam. To take his place, I thought this setup would be ideal for two firefish gobies, and I have always admired the beauty of these fishes. I reasoned the citron gobies had a territory in the rock pile on the right, where they lay eggs regularly, and would let someone else live in the rock pile on the left (the jawfish occupies open sand in the middle). I thought wrong, apparently, because when I tried to introduce the firefish, they were harassed by the citrons and, although the tank was covered, apparently it was not good enough, and one firefish expired on the rug. The other one is back in quarantine while I seek advice/figure out what to do. <Get a larger system> The dealer does not accept returns, and the firefish would be unhappy, I believe, in my community 75 gallon tank. <What is in the 75?> Is the firefish doomed to spend the rest of its life in the quarantine tank (not a prospect I relish, as I had planned to take that tank down soon), or do you think I could get the citrons to accept it by removing them, putting the firefish in, then reintroducing the citrons later? <Not likely in this case... they will reclaim "the whole tank" as their territory> Would my chances of success (and fish happiness) be increased if  I were to replace the firefish that jumped so that I had two? <Mmm, no, not in the smaller tank, but yes in something of adequate size, composition> Or should I give up and conclude the citrons were there first and will never accept the interloper(s)? Any advice on how to deal with this would be appreciated. <Appears to me you're aware of your choices... choose. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Question 06/08/05 Hello Again, A while back I asked the following two part question, 1a) Can you house more then one firefish or does always "one" come out as the lone survivor ? << Sometimes pairs can be found at a local store. This would be the best way to introduce them>> 1b) Can you mix and match firefish (magnifica and decora) ? << I really would not advise that unless you see them in a tank together at the store not fighting.  All fish have the possibility of fighting so it is really hard to judge what they will do. A lot of times if this is a large tank and there are a lot of hiding places then most fish can get along.  But you can never plan on it.>> And I received a response of ... <Google search, keyword, firefish, on the Wet Web> Well I did that, and read a lot of articles and FAQS but I really didn't find my answer, unless it was "written between the lines". In a nutshell, my setup currently is as follows: 150gal Oceanic RR tank, 160lb LR, 120lb LS, with 5 green Chromis, two fire shrimp and one cleaner shrimp. Thanks again for your time and advise. -Stan <<Good luck.. EricS>>

- Fish Behavior - Hey guys. Thanks for your website. I read it quite frequently. My current setup consists of an Ocellaris Clownfish, Pajama Cardinal, Royal Gramma, a striped damselfish and a newly added Red Firefish. The firefish is doing well since I added him last week but he has not been coming out much because when he does, the other fish chase him it seems like. Then, he just goes and hides in the live rock for a little while until he decides he wants to make his appearance once again. Is this a normal situation to have? <Yes, especially in the first month or two.> I have never seen an instance like this, I have seen the situation clear up as the other fish become more acquainted with the new tank mate. <Yes, although the longer fish have been in one place, the more territorial they get so that any new addition is always at a disadvantage as all the good spots are already taken, and the newcomer is perceived as competition for food. Time will tell.> Let me know if there is anything I can do, and tell me if this is the norm. Thanks, guys. I do greatly appreciate your help and assistance in matters such as this. <Cheers, J -- >

Firefish Goby's strange behaviour Hi there, <Hello> Hope all are well.  First of all, I have to say thank you to all of your efforts of running this site.  I have been using the site as a guidance and references ever since I set up my saltwater tank.  I have a concern regarding my firefish goby that I don't seem to find an existing answer from the site.  I have had this firefish for about 4 months now.  It has been doing great but until three days ago, it refused to eat and hide all the time.  It ate the day before.  I promptly looked for it and put it in my 10 gallons QT.  The setup of the QT is bare-bottom and contains a filter, a heater and a piece of decor.  There are no lights. <But hopefully a cover... this fish is a great jumper> The firefish looks perfect with no white spots.  What really makes me worry is that it behaves like a bottom dwelling goby.  Ever since it was placed inside the QT, it hides most of the time and when it comes out, it only swims around by resting it body and fins on the bottom. <To be expected... I would return this fish to your main system> I have never seen it eating.  The water parameters of the QT are good with PH 8.0, ammonia and nitrite being zero.  As far as the display tank is concerned, the tankmates include 1 small perc. clowns, 1 small pajama Banggai, 2 small green Chromis.  The firefish appears to be the largest in size.  The tank is 30 gallons and parameters are perfect. <Small world... perhaps the damsels were/are pestering your firefish> The firefish has been in the QT for 3 days now.  I have never seen it eat.   It hides in the decor in the morning and only comes out at night.  Sometimes it sits at one spot (usually the corner) for a long time.  It does not seem to breathe heavily.  It is still very alert because it is aware of my existence.  I am not treating it with any medications.  My question is whether I should keep it in the QT or put it back to the main tank. <Return it> Hope I have gathered all the information you need. Thanks, Aaron. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Firefish I haven't received a reply to the last two emails I've sent to you guys, but hopefully this one will get a response. My firefish has been in QT for 25 days, 22 of those in hypo. I am currently in the process of raising the salinity to 35ppt. He had ich and an internal bacterial infection, both of which seem to be gone, thanks to the hypo and Maracyn-Two. I stopped the M2 treatment about a week and a half ago and added the carbon back into the filter. He hasn't eaten prepared foods in 22 days. I don't know what he's living off of, but occasionally I see him biting at the sand. He doesn't show any interest in the multiple kinds of food I've presented to him. Flake food, brine shrimp, Formula One pellets, raw shrimp, etc. All with and without garlic (I would try Mysis but I can't find any around here for the life of me).  For the first couple days I had him, he was eating the flake food just fine. I feel as though I'm running out of options. Right now, I'm just trying to get him into my display as quickly as possible, hoping he might gain an appetite once he's in there (he has never been in my display; he went straight into the QT the moment I got him). He's getting skinnier and skinnier and it's really hard to watch and not know what else to do. I would really appreciate any help on what to do here. He's still swimming around the tank some, and he actually seems more active lately than he has been. Thanks in advance! Heather <Heather, I would try some frozen Cyclop-eeze.  There are not too many fish that will refuse this, small fish that is. Also might want to find some live adult brine and try that. <James (Salty Dog)>

Firefish I have tried freeze dried brine shrimp (the San Francisco Bay brand). Is the frozen adult brine that much different? <Heather, you might want to try boosting the water quality and see if that helps. I think Chemi-Pure is a good product in that regard. The company does advertise that it increases appetite. I use it all the time along with 10% weekly water changes and my fish literally jump out of the water at feeding time. Not saying that it's all attributed to Chemi-Pure, but I think it does help. Anything alive is going to be more nutritional and the movement does help trigger a feeding response. Keep in mind that sometimes you can't always save a fish...it's just the way it goes. James (Salty Dog)>

Blacktail Gobies Dear Bob: <Bob is out right now, Mike G from the crew here> I recently came across a few Blacktail gobies (Ptereleotris heteroptera) available at my LFS.  <Lucky find!> So, before purchasing, I poked around the Web. <Always a responsible practice.> Your website states that they are "rarely seen in the pet-fish trade". <Indeed they are.> Also, your general statements for Dartfish state: "most should be kept in pairs" & "make excellent aquarium inhabitants for reef and peaceful all-fish set-ups." So, I bought a pair a while back. I have a 55gal standard glass tank, 40 gal upstream refugium, 65lbs total LR, 75lbs LS, 1 False Percula (Amphiprion ocellaris) and 1 Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani). After I introduced them to the main display, I saw them go under the LR. The problem is they have not come out since being added (10 days).  <Common behavior. I would not worry myself about it. Just give them time.> I have tried to squirt some food in their direction, but I have not even seen a head poke out. I just had to check yesterday by moving the rock, and they were alive and half buried in the sand. Do you think this particular species will ever spend any time out in the open? <Eventually, yes. Immediately, no.> Is there a way to entice them to come out? <Not particularly, aside from time.> Are they just night dwellers (have not witnessed this yet)? Most importantly, if they do not come out, will they be able to stay alive without any direct feeding?  <If your tank has a significant 'pod population, I'm sure they could sustain themselves. You could try enticing them with Mysis soaked in Selcon or garlic.> I am glad to be contributing to a conversation on this species that does not exist on your website. I guess this is a testament to their rarity. <It certainly is. Congrats on a good find!>

Firefish Feeling Ill Hi. <Hey, Mike G with you this afternoon.> I purchased a Firefish 11 days ago and have been keeping him in a QT since the moment I got him. <Very good, QT is always the responsible way to go.> Unfortunately, I noticed he had ich, so I brought the salinity down to 1.009 over the course of three days. He was eating for the first three days I had him but he has not eaten since then. A day or two after he stopped eating, I noticed his belly looked swollen. He was also acting lethargic. <Those symptoms just cry out "Bacterial Infection!"> I waited a day to make sure I had an internal bacterial infection on my hands, something that is said to be common among fish with an immune system weakened by ich. His belly continued to enlarge during this time. I then went out and purchased Maracyn-Two and am now on the sixth day of the treatment. His belly is no longer swollen and he seems a bit more active. <Wonderful! That is always good news!> However, he's still not eating. <Not-so-good news, but at least the swelling is gone.> I've tried feeding him multiple kinds of shrimp, pellet food, and flake food but to no avail (I even soaked some of it in garlic). Do you think his lacking appetite is due to the hyposalinity and medication? <I think that would be safe to assume.> Is there anything else I can do or should I not be concerned about this? The quality of the water is very good\u2014No ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates, pH at 8.3. Another thing I've been noticing is his tendency to swim along the bottom of the tank. He will rarely swim out in the open and seems to prefer having his body grazing the bottom of the tank at all times. Is this normal swimming behavior or is it a sign of something? Thanks in advance! <Well, I personally would continue with the medication, and try feeding him several times a day. Stay on top of your water changes, and keep the conditions right. I would also begin to raise the salinity once I was positive he was free of pathogens. Hopefully you will be rewarded with a wonderful and healthy firefish! Good luck, Mike G>

Why Won't They Show Me? LFS Refuses to Show That Fish are Feeding >Hi All, >>Hello, David, Marina tonight. >I went to a LFS today to purchase my second (and third) fish for my aquarium. I had visited the store earlier in the week and they had a nice collection of firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica), some smaller ones and some larger ones. I didn't buy then because it would be 5+ hours before I got home and it gave me time to read up, learn, and ensure I could provide a good environment for them, as well as test my QT tank. >>I like your thinking. >Today I went down to purchase the fish, they looked healthy, no labored breathing, no spots, the dorsal fins were in good shape, and their eyes were clear (very reflective too, like little mirrors). Last thing on the checklist was to see the fish eat. However, the shop person (in charge) stated that he had already fed the fish that day and refused to feed them again.  >>What? Seriously? >I pressed him on it, but he wouldn't agree to feed them. I asked when he fed them (with the intent of coming back the next day to see them eat), but, apparently, he feeds them in the morning before the store opens for business.  >>Well, that's not how things were done in any shop I worked, but ok.. problem IS, how can you show a customer who's ready to walk out with those fish that they're eating alright? Doesn't he want to make the sale, or is he more interested in spending money on feed? >He assured me the fish were fine and would have died by now had they not been eating.  >>Bull Pucky! >(Mind you, the smallest Dartfish from 3 days previous were no longer present in the tank).  I've never worked in a LFS, I don't know the nuances of the trade, but what harm would there be in feeding the fish a second time? >>NONE. However, what harm is there in being obstinate with a good and conscientious customer? >From what I've learned, watching a fish get fed and seeing him eat is a good indicator on the vigor of the fish. >>Indeed! And it's been recommended to all since long before I ever got into this trade/hobby. Not exactly good customer service, and were it me, I'd try someplace else (if possible). >The only thing that makes sense is that they weren't eating and trying to feed them would confirm this.  >>Well, I don't know if we could say that (of course, I wasn't there, so I couldn't "read" this person as you could). There are some INCREDIBLY peculiar people who work this trade, my friend. And plenty are plenty obnoxious, too! <giggle> >If he refuses to feed them, then there is still a chance of making a sale, assuming that I trust a salesman at his word.  >>Give me a guarantee on the fish, and maybe we can talk. >Because of this, I did not purchase the fish(es), nor did I purchase the net, PO4 test kit, fish food, and small siphon I would have gotten with the fish.  >>Good for you! Dollars talk, and they should know this. >I also doubt that I will ever return to this store. >>I am in complete agreement, though I'd like to speak with a manager/owner. >Am I missing something here?  >>Nope. >Or was am I just misinformed? David >>By this person? I cannot say. Regarding making sure a fish is at least feeding before you buy? Not at all! You are a smart consumer, good on you, mate. Marina 

Firefish help Hi Was hoping you would be able to help me out with a small concern! On the weekend I purchased two firefish which I identified from your site as being (Nemateleotris magnifica). I added them to my FOWL 55gallon tank which already includes three small Chromis  and one bicolor angel. The water parameters are fine. After adding the two firefish, the bicolor angel started bullying them around a bit - but it wasn't anything too aggressive. When I woke up the next morning, there was only one firefish and no sign of the other. He has now been missing for 36 hours with no sign of him anywhere. The other firefish appears to be okay.. he's already started eating - although only when the food comes to him. So my questions are: 1) Do you think my firefish is dead? <Yes>  I read somewhere that if they are shy, they can lock themselves into a bolt hole and not come out for a while.  <You would still get a glimpse of him during this time.> 2) If he is dead, was it because he was already doomed or do you think something in my tank was the culprit.  <Could be either/or. Firefish are best kept in a species tank or a tank with very non-aggressive fish.>  I find it hard to believe that the bicolor angel could have done that despite the harassment.  <Firefish are touchy to some degree. They are very timid and are not going to be very brave in going after food with a lot of other fish motion going on around them.> There are no traces of him to be seen anywhere. 3) I do have a crab that lives in my live rock who only comes out at night - could he have knocked him off?  <Don't know what kind of crab it is.>  And if he did, is it probable that that sort of event would have occurred on the very night that I added the fish?  <It's very possible.> 4) Is it okay to keep a firefish on its own? I read that they need to be kept in at least pairs.  <They feel more comfortable in groups of three or more.> Although if it is the crab, then I assume the other wont be around for much longer.  <Let's hope it will.> Thanks for your help.. much appreciated. <You're welcome. Here is an article on firefish you should read. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/wormfishesArt/wormfishes.htm.  James (Salty Dog)>  

Firefish Help - II Wow. Thanks for the quick reply. I did read that article earlier today and found it very helpful. I am aiming to have a non aggressive tank. I never realized that the bicolor was aggressive. When I purchased the firefish, they were actually being stored in the same tank as a bicolor, so I assumed that they would be compatible. Is there anything that I can do to help out the other firefish.. I would hate to lose him too. But I guess not knowing the cause of the first death would make it hard to know what to do.  <I would see if your LFS would exchange it for something else.>  Over time, I was wanting to put in a Dottyback and a small tank bred percula as well.. do u think these fish are compatible?  <Should be OK, just don't get two Dottybacks, most if not all are aggressive toward each other. James (Salty Dog)> 

Stocking Level Wet Web Let me say first, sorry to bother you with another stocking question.  Currently I have a 30g tank, 2 powerheads (the exact gph escapes me right now), an AquaC remora and 2x96 PC lighting (1 10k lamp and 1 actinic 03 lamp). There's about 75lbs of LR in there with a 3" sandbed. Current livestock includes 3 smallish colonies of zoos and polyps, one bubble tip anemone, one unknown SPS frag (was given by a friend), 2 skunk cleaner shrimp, 3 peppermint shrimp, 2 smaller Percs and 1 firefish. There used to be 2 firefish, but one died this morning for unknown reasons. My first question is if it would be alright to introduce another firefish (will the older one harass the new one to death?). <No, they generally do better in groups of three or more.><<James... this tank is way too small for these... a thirty with 75 pounds of live rock?! RMF>> Second question is what would be a good addition to this tank in your opinion. I was thinking along the lines of 2 neon gobies, or a royal Gramma and a yellow watchman, or possibly 3 green Chromis. Thanks in advance for any help/opinions.  <You could add two more firefish or, the neon gobies and yellow watchman. The choice is yours, Mitch. James (Salty Dog)> 

Firefish Questions (2/5/05) Hi Aaron here,  <Hello. Steve Allen with you today.>  I recently purchased a firefish goby and was wondering what are some suitable tank mates.  <That depends to a degree on what size of tank you're talking about. This fish is very timid and can easily be scared into permanent hiding to the point of starving. Avoid particularly aggressive fish such as Dottybacks and Damsels. A peaceful bottom-dwelling goby like the Yellow Watchman Goby would be fine. Royal Grammas, Percula or Ocellaris Clownfishes and Angels of the genus Centropyge usually work out, but can be aggressive. Peaceful wrasses (Flashers, for example) should be OK. Again, the choices depend on tank size.> Also, it kind of swims at angle. Almost vertical but it can level out and swim normal if it wants. Is this normal?  <They tend to hover at an angle and twitch their dorsal spin. This is normal.>  Lastly, would it be able to survive on a diet of brine shrimp and/or krill?  <Brine shrimp are the potato chips of the fish food world. Inadequate nutrition. Try a variety of frozen foods including krill, Mysis and others. There's a lot of great stuff out there. A small, high-quality pellet like Spectrum will be good as well.>  Thanks again for the help.  <You're welcome. I hope it helps.>

Fire Goby I have had a lot of ups and downs with my salt water aquarium of 30 gallons and in the process lost many fish due to inaccurate advice.  However, for the last 4 mos., I have maintained stability in my reef safe tank which is home to a beautiful but territorial maroon clown, fire goby, royal Gramma, and dragon goby.  I'd like to add one last fish to my aquarium.  I'm eager to add a Purple Fire Goby, but am not sure if it would fight with the Red Fire Goby already in my tank.  Any thoughts?  <Gobies tend to do best in groups of three or more of the same species.  If things are going good right now don't add another especially with the bully clown>  James

Considering Firefish I have a 60 gallon, LR/LS reef tank with 2 Chromis, a neon goby, pink anemonefish, lawnmower blenny, mandarin goby (who, after 5 months, now has a flat tummy instead of a concave one!) <Good> , a fire shrimp, a sifting star, one snail and a Sailfin tang. I am considering purchasing a Scissortail goby-Ptereleotris evides and a fire goby-Nemateleotris magnifica. <Mmm, you'd be better off getting two of just one of these species> I know I should buy them at the same time, but I was concerned about how my other fish will react, and if the new ones will thrive. Most of the fish are pretty calm, other than spazzing and hiding, but the tang is one aggressive guy when it comes to food. He never nips or chases anyone, <Doesn't have to... the other fishes realize it's danger> but he eats pretty fast, and the food is gone pretty quickly. I have been reading that the firefish may be slower eaters, and may starve if housed with faster eaters. Is this true, and will they learn to eat quickly? <Yes... if your mandarin is doing fine, so will these fish. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rebecca Firefish Mr. Fenner, <Jim> I understand you're a diver.  I'm interested as to what areas of the reef firefish inhabit.  I'm considering buying two for my 30 mini reef, but am concerned as to the amount of water current they are accustomed to. <Most species that are offered in the trade can be found on reef slopes and their bases/ends... in a mixed (but always including) sand and rocky bottom... near the bottom. A few, like Ptereleotris evides are generally found next to solid rock, making caves there hidey holes. Current isn't too much a concern... though microdesmids look fragile, they are strong swimmers (and jumpers! Keep your tank/s covered!). Bob Fenner>> Thank You, Salty Dog (Jim Gasta) Firefish together Hi, <Hi Jonathan, MacL here with you this evening> I have a 29 gallon reef and am wondering if I can keep a purple and red firefish in the tank without any problems. <I have kept them together with no problems other than that they tend to jump out of tanks>  In the 29, there is only a pair of ocellaris clowns.  Thanks!

Re: Purple and Red firefish together in a 29 gallon? MacL, <Hi Jonathan!> Thanks for responding.  How big was your tank? <My very first saltwater tank was a 30 long and I loved it immensely.> I'm thinking since you are an expert, you must have a 150+ gallon beautiful tank =)<You are very kind calling me an expert.  Right now I have a 120 gallon reef, a forty cube, and a 180 tank running. All of these have sumps and refugiums.  But Jonathan, the size of the tank isn't what makes it beautiful, to me beauty is defined by the health and condition of what's inside the tank.>

Purple and Red Firefish MacL, <Hi again Jonathan> Which one of your many tanks have you successfully kept a purple and red firefish? <I kept them in a 75 gallon tank together. BUT I had a large amount of live rock and lots of hiding places and lots of "escape" places for them.>  Wow, you have two 100+ gallon tanks.  Your electricity bill must be through the roof! <It is, lol> Helfrichi Firefish 10/28/04 I plan on keeping a biotopic setup with Nemateleotris helfrichi. <outstanding... one of my fave fishes. I have kept more than a few for years. Hardy with the right (peaceful) tankmates> My tank is 800 l (200 gal) and will have 4 in line refugia of 200 l (50 g) each. my question is what fish and invertebrate live in the same niche and occur in the same geographical regions and will peacefully co-exist with the Dartfish? Thanks Huig <this is very exciting to hear you interested and willing to do the research and set up a proper tank for this/any animal. My advice to start you on your journey is to go to fishbase.org... see the geographic distribution of the species (and so many more links on the species splash page with info on diet, reproduction, etc)... then carry that info to the library for field guides. Better still... check out the outstanding regional/field and dive books at seachallengers.com for some outstanding additions to your library. A good field guide will tell you much about history, niches and possible tankmates. Anthony>

Nemateleotris history 11/5/04 thanks Anthony - I've already spent hours on fishbase in the past but didn't find what I was looking for so at this stage I'm looking at pictures from scuba sites but most of them are just one specimen without much info. <do e-mail and call some of the Hawaiian and LA wholesalers that will take the time to respond to you. All of these specimens come through these channels. These folks can tell you about locales, niches, and other biotopic tidbits> I'll look for some books you've recommended. I think the best thing to do is buy a plane ticket <heehee... yes, agreed!> but I'm doing some (read  a lot) reconstructions at my home. so my diving will be in the cold dark waters of the north sea.  Greetz <best of luck/life. Anthony>

Sick Firefish-Or Funky Behavior? My purple Firefish has been in Cupramine for nearly two weeks.  I treated it because it looked like it was flashing.  On occasion it would dive down, touch its belly on the bottom and then dart up.  It did this again today after 12 days of copper. Could this be something other than ich?  It never rubs its gills, always the underside.  Also, would it still be doing this after 12 days in copper?  I know that these fish bury themselves in the sand and I'm wondering if the behaviour I saw is normal. <Good thought...I have seen similar behavior in Halichoeres species wrasses, and it can easily be mistaken for "scratching". If the fish is otherwise appearing healthy, without other symptoms commonly associated with ich or other parasitic diseases, then I'd back off the meds and observe the fish for a few more days. If all looks good, I'd repatriate him into his display tank> If you think it is ich, after 14 days should I do a water change with display tank water and try formalin in a few weeks? <May not be ich, as stated above. I'd opt for observation before another round of stressful medication.> Many thanks, Peter <My pleasure, Peter! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Firefish Hunger Strike (10/25/04) Hi, <Steve Allen with you this evening. For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first letter of sentences. We post all queries and replies on our site permanently and want them as readable as possible. Our volunteer crew will have a lot more time to answer queries if they don't have to proofread them. Not only that, some of us older presbyopics have a hard time reading unpunctuated text. Thanks.> I really hope you can help me out here.  I have this pff for 6 months and it was doing fine, eating fresh/frozen shrimps, pellets and even seaweed. when lights go off, it would retreat into it's comfy zone. However, 4 days ago, it just hid in its little cave and won't come out even during feeding. I can see that it's breathing quite heavily although I do not see any injury on it's body. I put food into it's little cave and it's still not eating. This morning I woke up, it's not in it's cave. I hope I can find it tonight. The only change to my tank was that I upgraded to T5HO lights a week ago. <The brighter light may be bothering it--ought to be temporary.> Tank mates are 2 maroon clown (doesn't bother it unless the pff wanders near their BTA) <For now, anyway. These are mean fish>, 1 yellow wrasse, 1 baby blue tang (2") and 1 G. okinawae. these may not be the ideal tank mates but they have been living together for the last 6 months without any problem. <Things change.> Everyone gets their share of food. 50gal tank running for 8 months. <Way too small for your Tank long term. You will need at least 125 gallons for it.> I do weekly water changes. Will do another water change tomm. Please help. Any way I can 'lure' it to at least eat something? <Consider trying live brine shrimp just to get it to eat something, though this is not good long term food. You might also try soaking the food in garlic as an appetite stimulant.> Thanks in advance. Ai kun <Hope this helps.> p/s:  As I  always say, keep up the good work.  I really appreciate the help that you guys are offering and the knowledge that you so willingly share. <A pleasure for me to play a small part.>

Firefish Gone (10/31/04) Hi Steve <Howdy!> Thanks for your reminder. I will ensure readability this time. <My tired midnight eyes thank you.> The PFF didn't show up and I couldn't find a trace of it. <Sorry to hear.> My LFS told me that it is possible that it may have died and my two cleaner shrimps could have eaten it. Could this be possible? <They do indeed have a voracious appetite. I'd bet they, aided by bristleworms and other critters you may not be seeing, could easily polish of a Firefish corpse in a couple of days.> I did two 20% water changes over a 4 days period. All water parameters are good and all livestock look happy.  I am planning to upgrade my tank some time next year when I move to my new place. Hope to plan the setup properly this time around and would most likely be needing WetWebMedia help to clear some queries then. <Love to help out. My biggest regret with my system is that I wish I had left it fish-free for at least 6 months to really let all of the dormant life on the live rock come out and thrive. There's so much we never see because the fish get them before they can proliferate. Food for thought.> Thanks for your help. Ai Kun <You're welcome. Enjoy the planning process--it's half the fun. We look forward to hearing from you as you move forward. Steve Allen.>

Fun With Firefish Hi crew! <Hello! Scott F. with you tonight> I have several queries regarding a new trio of firefish I purchased over a week ago. I had all 3 in a 10 g quarantine tank and all was going well-the fish were getting along, all sleeping under the same pvc pipe, eating with gusto until...I came home to find one of them severely beaten up (I call him shreddy now) and being bullied/cornered by the largest one (his name is 'crooked'-his fin is bent now). Shreddy's dorsal flicker fin was torn off, as was most of his tail. <Grr.. an all-too-common occurrence with Firefish. Even in large tanks, it seems like one or two will bully the rest> I wasn't sure what to do-I knew I had to separate them, but they are so fast, and it was late so I couldn't pick up a divider for the tank either, so I put all of them into my 90g display with lots of hiding places, hoping Shreddy could get some peace. (I didn't know whether to put the 2 into the display and leave Shreddy in QT to recuperate, only to reintroduce him into the main tank and have the 2 bully him to death, etc. I had heard that it's always best to introduce all the firefish at once). <Well, you're right with the idea of introducing them all at once. However, I probably would have left them all in the QT for a while, maybe with a divider to allow "Shreddy" some peace while he recovers. Then, I probably would have placed this guy in the display first, followed by the others a few days later...> I know the quarantine time wasn't sufficient (a week) but they all looked very healthy and were eating well. I have been feeding Cyclop-eeze, Sweetwater Plankton, Mysis shrimp and a fine chopped seafood mix. <Excellent, excellent dietary choices for these fishes!> 3 days later and all are eating well (Including Shreddy but he's the shyest and hides more than the other 2). I thought the other 2 might be a mated pair, but more than once I've seen Shreddy and Crooked emerge from the same cave! The trio's relationship is very confusing! <Well, at least there seems to be some form of peace, huh?> Anyway, back to my main question. It looks like the firefish have some abrasions on their skin (white patches and skin flapping). It's definitely not ich-but looks like small blisters almost. Could it be from the substrate (I have crushed coral not fine sand)?   <Possibly. Do watch these guys very closely> I'm also wondering if the neon goby could be irritating their scaleless skin. The neon goby keeps hopping on them in an attempt to clean. The firefish seem mildly annoyed. Maybe the small micro-hermit crabs I have are nicking their skin? <Another possibility.> Any thoughts would be helpful, thanks. <Well, at this point, I'd simply observe them carefully and be prepared to take action if required. If the fish are displaying signs of distress, it may be time to get them out again for observation and/or possible treatment, if required...Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Intimidated Firefish 8/2/04 It has almost been two weeks since I introduced a firefish with three damsels (yellow, yellowtail and 3 striped) into a 30 G tank. <Ughhh... this was a profoundly ill-advised mix. Firefishes are too passive in most any tank with damsels... and especially so in a small tank like this. please read more about this/them in our first issue of CA e-zine: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/wormfishesArt/wormfishes.htm> Everything seemed to be going fine until today I noticed that the firefish has a bloated belly; actually I noticed his stomach area has turned a dark color and is swollen (about half of the swelling protrudes giving it an unsightly profile!) about the size of bee bee just behind his dorsal fins.   <try adding 1 TBN of Epsom salt per 5 gallons to the tank. If this does not improve the fish in 2-3 days, remove it to your waiting quarantine tank for treatment with antibiotics (Furan-2 or Kanamycin)> He never eats much since the damsels are far more aggressive about grabbing the food, <firefish almost always starve to death slowly (months) in the presence of damsels. Yours will too sadly if left in with them> he usually seems content just nibbling at the small amount that floats to him - rather than going up to the top when its Spirulina or Mysis shrimp.  Other than this nasty appearance his behavior seems typical of what I have seen the last two weeks.  My water conditions are optimal (8.1 pH, 1.022 salinity, 0 ammonia and nitrites, 81?? F) except that nitrates are around 20.  Can you offer some advice? Thanks, Derek <please do read/research more about compatibility before buying any fishes... and do so from objective sources. Not merely from the LFS trying to sell you things <G>. Anthony> Firefish In Peril? Well, I have been treating my 2 clowns, two Chromis and Firefish for about two months now ever since they have had ich. I'm glad to say that the ich looks like it's gone with no new spots appearing and only a couple of spots left. <Good to hear that> Unfortunately, the Firefish, (who I regret quarantining to begin with because he never had ich) has stopped eating and hides all day. <As a not- quarantine is the right thing to do. No regrets, okay?> I looked at him closely and on his side there is a reddish bruise forming. This really worries me because I love this fish. I immediately did a water change and I will do another one. I'm just wondering what could have caused this and what should I do? Could it be the low salinity (1.009)? <I doubt it. Could be anything from some sort of trauma to an internal problem of some sort> I have had him in hyposalinity before and nothing happened. Also, what else can I do other than water changes? All five fish are in a ten gallon with hang-on filter and a protein skimmer. Should I treat with a medication, if so which one? <At this point, we are not certain what we're dealing with here, so using medication is not a good idea> Would acclimating him to a higher salinity within a few days and moving him back to the main tank help, or would it make the problem worse due to stress? <If it were me, I'd start re-acclimating the fish back to normal specific gravity, and get him back into the display as soon as possible. I would think that this will help alleviate some stress.> Thank you so much for your help. <Glad to be of service! Regards, Scott F>

Purple Firefish - Nemateleotris decora 4/19/04 Hi Guys, <howdy> I hope everything is well in wetwebworld, <were wacky and wonderful> Just a quick one. Had my CBS for about 6 months and I'm looking at purchasing a Purple Firefish. 50 Gallons with 20 lbs of live rocks. Should I rethink this stocking plan? <no worries... room here for a firefish, to be sure> I read the faq on both species and one hobbyist were mentioning how his CBS killed the purple firefish. Thank you again. Dan <CB shrimp are always unreliable/unpredictable. You simply never know how, if or when they will catch a little fishy. It is a chance, but likely small. Best regards, Anthony>

Firefish On The Mend! Hi Scott / Crew <Hi there!> Thanks for your prompt reply. <You're quite welcome!> The Purple Firefish seems to be its normal self again. Heavy breathing is getting less obvious and it is also eating the fresh shrimp that we fed. <Excellent to hear. as I always say, "A fish that eats is a fish that lives". It's true!> I will continue to monitor. <Good...Stay on top of things!> Thanks. Ai Kun
<My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Know this fish? Hi, I am hoping you can help me.  Do you know the name of this fish? <It's Gunnelichthys curiosus: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=12677&genusname=Gunnellichthys&speciesname=curiosus> The Local fish store gave a name I could not find on the Internet, and I cannot remember what they called it now, as it has been some time.  I want to get another one and would like to learn more about their needs. Thanks for your help. <Use the scientific and common name to find more through the Net. Bob Fenner>

Come on Baby Light My Fire(fish) I recently bought a firefish goby for my 12 gallon nano-reef. He's the only fish in there besides a scarlet hermit and a peppermint shrimp. After acclimation the fish was doing fine, hanging outside all the time, feeds well and was so for about 2 days. One time the light was off and he was swimming about as I happened to walk by the tank, I guess he felt threatened and darted beneath the rocks...and I have not seen him out ever since. This has been for about 2 days as well. I'm afraid that he's too stressed out and wouldn't come out to feed anymore...Please help. Thanks in advance... P.S. Grateful thanks to folks like you guys for the knowledge you provide which makes this hobby a much easier and fun thing to do... <Firefish are often shy fish which prefer a calm environment. Some fish are known for hiding for weeks before they finally come out to feed. I would do some "night searches" and look for the fish. If you're unable to find him, you may want to take apart your rockwork to locate him. If the fish is alive, it should eventually come out. Continue to feed, although in smaller amounts, for the fact that the fish may still be alive. I've had a similar experience with a Royal Gramma. In this incident, the fish went missing for 9 days before he finally came out to eat. The fish has been doing fine ever since. I hope this helps.> Take Care, Graham Wetwebmedia.com Crew 

Re: firefish trouble,,, Thanks for your input, but he died last night when I checked under the rock. <I'm sorry to hear about your loss.> I kinda expected that as he was gasping pretty heavily since the hiding began...I'm suspecting that I did not acclimate him too well and with too little time...I'll try another firefish and see the difference with a much longer acclimation period... By the way, is common household super glue ok for sticking corals unto rocks as far as toxicity goes? Please let me know...Thanks... <Yes, most super glue is fine for gluing corals. Make sure that it contains Cyanoacrylate. Many of the super glue which doesn't contain Cyanoacrylate will not be safe in your aquarium. For gluing corals under water, I actually prefer superglue gel instead of the standard superglue. The gel is able to mount corals under the water.> Graham Stephan

Re: firefish trouble,,, I've heard that calcium levels that are too high can be toxic to its inhabitants, especially fish. I do add liquefied calcium to the tank on a regular basis (to manufacturer's recommendations - 1 drop per gallon everyday) and I don't have a calcium test kit...Do you see a problem? <Yes...I see a major problem. One of the most important pieces of information I've learned in this hobby is that you should always test for what you add. I cannot stress this enough. I would recommend you purchase a calcium and alkalinity test kit as soon as possible and test for these elements. From my experience, Salifert and LaMotte test kits are some of the most accurate kits. Could this have killed my fish? Thanks for your input once again... <I highly doubt so. If you did indeed have an extreme amount of calcium, you would most likely be seeing a calcium carbonate substance building up on your glass/rockwork. I'm thinking your fish died due to excessive amounts of stress rather than from water quality/acclimation.> Take Care, Graham Stephan

Goby Suicide? My dart goby killed himself this morning. I got him on 02/09/2003 so he was almost a year old. The other day I notice he was stressed out lying on the bottom. I placed him in a refugium below the tank. A day later he seemed fine, so moved him back to the main tank. Everything seemed fine. He came out when I started feeding... but the tank needed more food so I put some more in. All of a sudden the dart Goby was in the corner digging wildly. The dart goby stopped and fell half in and half out of the whole he had just dug. He dug his own grave. I don't get it. I removed him promptly to place him in the refugium again but he was dead with his mouth wide open.   Anyone else have a goby commit suicide. It was weird. <I've seen this happen before to wrasses and other gobies. I'm not sure if it is a "phenomenon", or just a bunch of uncorrelated coincidences. When a fish dies suddenly, I'd always launch my own "investigation" as to the cause of death. Often, it can be traced to some specific incident, like a poisoning, lapse in stable tank chemistry, or pestering by another fish. Other times, the answer eludes us. All I can suggest is to eliminate the obvious stuff, then explore the exotic! The truth is out there...Regards, Scott F.>

From the Frying Pan and.. Firefish Fry.. >Hey there howdy, Hey there yourself. >I picked up a pair of Firefish recently (Nemateleotris magnifica), they're spawning right now,, I'd really like to have a crack at raising the fry. >>Alright.   >I've raised Gold-Stripe Maroon clowns successfully twice (times unsuccessful, don't ask) so I have a blacked-out tank etc. ready to go.  I can't find anything useful in the breeders' registry and am wondering about the incubation period and feeding of the fry.  Maybe you can point me in the right direction of someone who has done this successfully?  As always, great job. Best, Justin >>Hhmm.. well, assuming you've already Googled, I'd try hitting up some of the reefing boards and forums.  I'd also try contacting the folks who are providing animals like captive bred Dottybacks and gobies as well (OSI is a big one, if I recollect).  I would expect you'd need something akin to a proper fish room, but if these fish are already breeding, I'm fairly certain they'll do it again.  Marina

Playing With Firefish Hi, I'd like to add Firefish to my 55-gallon tank. My questions are, how many could/should I add, and whether they would be compatible with the established inhabitants. I have two Ocellaris Clownfish and a Bicolor Blenny. No other fish yet, it's still a new system (7 weeks old). <Well, a good recommended stocking level for these guys would be one for every 20 gallons, which means that you could try 3 of them. However, when you take into account the dimensions of this tank, and the presence of other inhabitants, it might make more sense just to get one individual. However, if you have a lot of rockwork to provide "territories" for more than one fish, it might work. I would introduce all of the Firefish at one time, though. > I'd also like suggestions for additional future fish -- perhaps a macro-algae grazer appropriate for my tank size. Currently FOWLR, but I'd like to add soft corals and polyps within a few months. <Well, you could consider a specimen from one of the many species of smaller fairy wrasses, or, perhaps a Gramma. These are interesting, colorful fishes that stay reasonably small. Small gobies and blennies are nice, too...> I'm running a CPR BakPak Dual Pak (rated for 100 gal.) and a hang-on-tank canister for filtration and two Maxi-Jet 1200 powerheads for circulation. I have 50 lbs. live rock and a 4" sand bed. I'm hoping to add a refugium early next year. (Please point out any glaring problems you see with my setup.) <Nothing really wrong, but I do implore you to clean and/or replace any mechanical (filter pads) and chemical (i.e.; carbon) filtration media frequently> In case you need to know what invertebrates I have, they are: 2 Peppermint Shrimp, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, an Emerald Mithrax Crab, a Brittle Star, 30 hermit crabs, four Astrea snails, 12 Nassarius snail and a handful of Ceriths. <A nice mix to start with...> I'm new to marine aquarium keeping, and got really caught up in the invertebrates -- some of my favorite tank inhabitants -- and never quite got past planning for common clowns and the potential Firefish. <Interesting fishes, nonetheless!> The blenny was something of an impulse purchase -- although I knew he wouldn't be a problem with the clowns, I've since heard bicolor blennies sometimes badger Firefish, and as much as I love my blenny, I could certainly see this happening. <It is possible...> He's such a character. Also, will the clownfish pester the Firefish, since I'd be adding the Firefish after the clownfish (another mistake which I even knew about but made anyway)? <The clownfish could become a bit of a problem, once they get established.> Thank you for the site, I've learned lots more about this fascinating hobby since stumbling upon it (and have found that a lot of other newcomers have the same problems and panicky moments as I do). Sorry for the long e-mail. Thanks, Amy <A pleasure, Amy. Just keep thinking about compatibility and each fish's unique requirements (i.e.; territory, space, etc.), and you'll do fine. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Curious about the Curious Worm Goby: Gunnelichthys curiosus 11/26/03 Hey guys (and girls?) got a few questions I couldn't find answers to. First off thanks for all your help and providing hobbyists with such an informative and easy to use website.   <your appreciation is... er... appreciated <G>> I am looking to add 1 or 2 more corals to my 45gal tall tank and I had a  few in mind (I already have a silver-branched pumping xenia, devils hand, and a small zoanthid mat-all aqua-cultured) and I was looking to add either pink cauliflower coral (Pocillopora damicornis)  or a few species of Montipora digitata.  Which would be a more natural, safer combination in the long run? <cannot speak to natural here regarding mix (regarding niches for all of the above... varied)... but the Montipora digitata would be a very hardy and safe bet (weakly aggressive). If you prefer Pocillopora... go for the brown one instead as it is much less demanding. I doubt you have the lights to keep a pink one pink. No worries though> Could I have them all?   <do resist mixing many species in such a small tank without leaving room for growth... and distance between to temper chemical aggression> And do have any information on the curious worm goby? <a cute little fish, but not much to chat about. They are very poorly suited for community aquarium life. They are very easily intimidated into not eating/thriving. For perspective, one might fairly say they are more difficult to keep than mandarinfishes, seahorses or their Firefish (Microdesmid) kin. The Curious Worm goby needs a very peaceful tank with deep soft sand for burrowing: Gunnelichthys curiosus> I cant seem to find any info at all.   <Always include fishbase.org in your searches my friend... a link for this fish follows. Please be sure to follow all of their links on the page... info regarding gut analysis telling of natural diet reproduction, etc. http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=12677&genusname=Gunnellichthys&speciesname=curiosus> A friend of mine bought one on an impulse buy (I know, I promptly slapped him) and now it has be hiding out of sight for about 2 days, with no signs of burrowing into the substrate.  Any info will be much appreciated. Thanks again. -Nick IMO... if this fish shares the tank with a single wrasse, damsel, clown or tang... it will die even without aggression from its mates. They are just that shy. Please suggest that your friend get that marvelous little fish into a quiet refugium or another tank altogether with ultra slow and ultra peaceful fishes. They can be kept well under those conditions. Feed zooplankton substitutes. Best of luck, Anthony> Mated Pairs Howdy, <Hi there> Do any of you know any on-line retailers who sale mated pairs of vert.s and inverts? Thanks, Steven <Most all of them do... principally clownfish species, some shrimps... If it's something "important" you can even put in requests... that reach all the way back to collectors, breeders.  Which part of the world are you in? For ease of matching close-by suppliers. And what sorts of organisms are you looking for? Bob Fenner>

Re: Mated Pairs wow, thanks for the fast reply Bob. I am located in the southeast, US. I was kind of interested in a mated pair of Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus Hispidus) and a mated pair of Fire Fish (Nemateleotris Magnifica). I would actually like more of the latter, say around 4 or 5 but it may not be a good idea. I would think a truly mated pair would be allot safer. I have a 100g by the way. Again, thanks for the quick reply. Steven <Don't know about the Dartfishes (the way they're collected I don't think the pairs are kept separate), but the CBS are do-able. Have your supplier/LFS contact Quality Marine or Sea Dwelling Creatures in Los Angeles. Bob Fenner>

Fireworks? (Firefish  Population Dynamics...) Hey all, <Howzit? Scott F. with you today!> I've got a pair of purple Firefish (N. decora) in my 125 gallon.  Was doing some gobioid research and saw the N. magnifica listed as a more communal fish.  Is it possible to successfully mix these pairs without much combat? <It's really hit-or-miss, in my experience. These fishes are often found in groups in the wild, but this dynamic does not always translate well in a captive situation. I've seen numerous attempts to keep several of these fishes in one aquarium, that ended up with one fish slowly killing all of the others, until there was only one left!> I've seen it suggested to keep as many as 1 per 20 gallons (on a wetwebmedia article, no doubt) and even I had to second guess that a bit. <As well you should...there are no guarantees with these fishes. You could try to find a mated pair, which is the most reliable way to keep more than one of these fishes together...> All in all, in the 125, I've got a Heniochus Bannerfish, a lawnmower blenny, two pajama cardinals, 2 maroon clownfish, and the two purple Firefish (N. decora).  I'd like to add a few of the N. magnifica if compatible. <Well, again- there is no guarantee here...If provided with a large tank, with plenty of hiding spaces, so that each fish can have it's own "territory", you may have your best chance of keeping more than one together.> My full stats are: 125 gallon, 150 lbs live rock and soft corals.  It's been up about a year.  The pair of Firefish have taken residence in the back corner of the tank under a rock (their 'bolt hole') Oh, and any way to determine sex besides size? (Because even just going on size can be misleading if you've got a pair of males and one is just dominant of the other).. <I'm not aware of any really reliable external sex differences...> Thank you very much, James C. Graham <You're quite welcome, James. I wish you luck on your endeavor! Regards, Scott F.>

Fire Fish Wasting Away <Hello! Ryan with you> First of all - I have been researching this problem on the internet for 2 weeks and this is the BEST site I have found - I'm very impressed but I haven't found what is happening to my fish. <I'll do my best!> Now for my problem - I have a 30 gallon fish only tank. I have 2 Fire fish (pair) - I have not seen them eat anything for 3 weeks and are wasting away. It seems like in the past 2 weeks they are always sleeping or really having problems swimming around the tank. Now one is swimming sideways (today). They hide under the rocks almost all of the time & don't seem to be afraid of the other fish - I have never seen any fighting between any of my fish. It  My question is - How can I convince these guys to eat something before they die?? They look like they are going to die at any moment & seem in a trance. They sometimes pick at the rocks but will not eat anything. <They are under stress-if they were eating properly, and this developed, it is certainly related to water quality.> Also, for such a small tank - should I be using a protein skimmer? <yes> I haven't bought one because of lack of money but have been considering it.  Maybe it would help my tank be healthier then it is right now. <Certainly would be worth the investment.> Should I have live rock - would that help lower the nitrate? <Among others, and debatably necessary to keep Firefish.> I'm worried about adding live rock now that my tank has been set up for 2 years and my other fish seem healthy. <please see: http ://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm> I just  want to make sure that whatever has happened to my fire fish doesn't happen to the rest. I also "lost" 3 green Chromis a few months ago & have given up trying to keep them in my tank. <Chromis is among the hardiest of marine life.  There is certainly a problem we need to fix here.> Here are my tank stats: 30 gallon, 10 lbs. coral gravel, outside filter (Whisper?), heater, air pump with 2 air stones and some rocks (not live rock).  Fish: 2 fire fish (1in - in tank 1 year), Lyretail Anthias (2 inches -3 months) , Basslet (1in - 3 months) & a Scooter Blenny (1 in & 1 1/2 years). All of these fish eat fine and seem healthy. I tested everything I have tests for: Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphorus, Hardness & PH, The Nitrates are slightly high (Right now I'm changing 20 % of the water daily. It seems like this past year I have never been able to reduce the Nitrate reading to 0. <You may never, especially without the use of a refugium.> The PH (8.4) and Hardness test were high too.  <How high was   If you have any advice or suggestions I would appreciate it. <It's time to address the filtration issue: You're underpowered.  You're going to need live rock, or a filter upgrade to properly maintain a marine tank.  I would advise the rock, as it is aesthetically pleasing and much quieter!  Once you're in balance, you'll only need to change 10% of the tank's volume weekly.  As for Firefish snacks, frozen Mysis shrimp or very small live brine are your best bet.  Good luck!> -- Thank you!

Honeymooners? Nemateleotris Magnifica acting strangely 07/19/03 Hello there crew ! <Hi Luis, PF here today> Great work you're developing here...! We have this FOWLR 65 Gal. display tank and the actual population comprehends 1 Zebrasoma flavescens, 1 Percula, 1 Yellow tale blue damsel, 2 Nemateleotris Magnifica. A week or so ago we began to realize only 1 at the time of the Magnifica's went outside their usual cave to eat and take a look around like they both used to. Could this mean they've spawned. Is it possible they're setting up "guard" to the "nest" one at the time? If so, can we do anything to help preserve the future bunch to survive? Thank you. Luis Santos (Portugal) <It sounds like a spawning even to me. Very cool! Unfortunately, I checked Google and the breeders registry (http://www.breeders-registry.gen.ca.us) and I couldn't find any information on breeding Nemateleotris Magnifica. My best advice would be to get your hands on Martin Moe's Breeding the Orchid Dottyback, lots and lots of good advice on breeding fish in there. I think though, the odds are that your hatchlings are destined to become part of your tank's planktonic mass. Mr. Moe's book includes advice on removing the larvae, feeding, etc and I really think it's your best bet. Good luck and keep us informed, PF>

Purple Firefish questions I bought a purple Firefish on Saturday, a beauty. I FW dipped him and placed him in a 10 gallon Qt. It appears to be very shy, active at times but staying mainly under the PVC pipe. I have yet to see him eat. Have tried anti-bacterial flakes, Mysis squid, pellet food and emerald entree. It appears that the fish just doesn't know I am feeding the tank. The food doesn't appear to be laying on the bottom of the tank. I have a small whisper filter. I'll try brine shrimp tonight, maybe that will at least get him started. <Yes, continue the variety. When you find something he likes, start mixing other stuff with it. It has only been 3 days and that is not unusual with shy guys like this.> I was reading up on Firefishes on the site and some FAQ. I see some conflicting statements, some say single and some say in pairs. Was I wrong to get a single fish? Also, I saw not to QT these fish. Should I take him out of Qt or wait a few more days or keep the normal 4 week QT period. I would like to get him eating prior to placing him in display tank. <I think a single is good, a 75 is on the edge for supporting two unless you get lucky and they get along well from the get go. I would QT all fish for a minimum of 4 disease free weeks.> 75 gallon reef, clownfish, coral beauty, misc shrimp. 50 lbs live rock, 3 inch crushed coral substrate. Neither of my two fish have shown aggression towards each other, at least that I have seen. <Yes, all good, but in the future, the more aggressive (the angel/clown) should go in last. You may have difficulty feeding the Firefish at first with the others as they are aggressive eaters and may keep the Firefish away from food, but you can deal with that if it becomes a problem later.> I was thinking of adding one more fish. either a longnose butterfly, the LFS has some lil cuties. It would be my biggest fish and since none seem to be aggressive YET, I was thinking it would be okay. Or I was thinking a pair of Banggai cardinalfish. the Tropicorium in Michigan has some real magnificent specimens. <I think either would be good for this tank with my preference to the Banggai cardinals.> Thanks ahead of time for your thoughts and advice. <No problem, Don> Mike

- Adding some Firefish - <Hello, JasonC here...> Hi I have a 70 gallon reef tank with two ocellaris clown fish, I wanted to get a small group of Firefish, I was going to get like 3 of them would this be fine or would they fight with each other? <The chances are good that they will at least form a pair, with the third maybe accepted, may be tortured. These fish do live in groups in the wild so you're better off purchasing and placing them all at the same time. Keep an eye on them and remove the low man on the totem pole if things don't go well for him, otherwise... enjoy.> I do not want them to fight so would they be fine in a 70 gallon? <Yes, about 20g per individual.> I plan on getting a neon goby maybe a pair of Banggais and a yellow tang as my last addition? <Skip the tank, these grow as large as dinner plates and need much more room than you have currently.> Would the Firefish fit into the mix? <Yes, but don't over-crowd the tank - try to understock and you will enjoy the tank much more.> Thanks a lot if you could help me out that would be great!! Thanks a lot! Sincerely, Nick <Cheers, J -- >

Firefish Down!   3/19/03 Hi Phil,<Hey Richard!!  What's up?> Bad news, just had a casualty overnight.<Oh no, I'm truly sorry!  The loss of a fish is never easy!> I've got a 30 gallon which cycled properly.<Good> My first inhabitants were a pair of Firefish. Day one they were out feeding together in the water column day two I introduced a orange spot goby. During the second day one of the Firefish started to stay out of sight it would come out occasionally but wasn't feeding. It would stay under a rock shelf, its dorsal fin was laying down and wouldn't come up. Day three in the morning I found it dead on the bottom of the tank so I took it out, it had a bite out of the neck probably after it died the orange spot took a taste. Any ideas as to what happened, I thought these were hardy fish. I couldn't see any lesions on the body. Should I do anything with the other fish?<You shouldn't really keep two Firefish together in a small tank.  You can keep a pair in a tank say 100g or bigger.  The one will be fine alone.> Thanks <No problem, again sorry about the loss.> Rick <Phil>

Firefish expecting? and calcium confusion Greetings Crew!   If you could give me any information on the mating behaviors of Firefish gobies I would really appreciate it. I have had a pair I bought about 4 months ago that are always by each others side except for the past 2 days. The larger of the two has been spending most of its time in their bolt hole occasionally coming out for feeding or to swim with the smaller one in front of their favorite powerhead. It looks as healthy as ever, and I haven't noticed any aggression towards it by any other tank mates. Using my poor internet searching skills I have found some references to gobies staying in their hideaways after copulation. Wondering if this could be a signal of poor health or something to look forward to. <This lifted from fishbase.org for the family Microdesmidae: "Eggs are deposited in the burrows and presumably guarded by the parents; larvae are pelagic."> I started this tank about 7 months ago as a FOWLR (my first salt tank after a couple years in the fresh hobby) with the idea of having everything covered in coralline by now. After adding some new LR a couple of months ago I was surprised to find mushrooms and button polyps galore. Since then I have been trying to raise my calc to at least 400 with no luck. I suspect I am being overly cautious with my Kalk dosing but wanted to get an expert opinion before I start going crazy with it. I'm currently hovering in the 300-350 range. Current regimen: soon as the lights go off I add a slurry of 1/8 tsp in a cup of RO, and in the morning I do my top off using a saturated solution of 2 tsp in 1g of RO. Ph is 8.3 when the lights turn off and 8.1-8.2 in the morning when I add top off so I suspect I can double my slurry amount?? Or do I need to test ph soon after adding slurry? <Umm, I would not do either w/o measuring your alkalinity first... do you add other "supplements"? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and the linked files (in blue, at top)> My coralline appears to be doing fine, but not growing past where it was when I got the rock and the slimy brown lumps that turned out to be buttons and mushrooms are bright green and appearing to be doing well but alas no new growth. Lemme know if I'm leaving out something important. <Alkalinity. See WWM re coralline algae> Specs: 55g tank, 2x 65w 8800K pc's and 2x 65w Actinism (planning on swapping the actinics with daylight bulbs.. probably 10,000K when their 8 months is up), Emperor 400(until I stop buying car parts and build a sump/fuge), Red Sea Berlin HOT w/ Rio 2500 (also will be upgraded to a Remora Pro once I get tired of cleaning and tuning it), and about 600gph of powerheads. Livestock: 1 flame angel, 1 royal Gramma, 2 Firefish gobies, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 scarlet skunk cleaner shrimp, 8? Astrea snails, 10? blue and red hermits, 1 blue tux urchin, 1 Echinaster sp, and more Mysis and copepods than you can shake a stick at. 75 lbs of LR and a 3.5" DSB using sugar sized aragonite (will increase to 5" when everything is moved to the 75g in waiting) Parameters: sg 1.023, ph 8.3-8.1, temp 80-81, ammonia/nitrites/nitrates 0, dKH 11, <Oh, this should be fine> phosphates are less than .025, cant speak for silicates as I don't have a test but the LFS I get my water from has changed the filters in their RO unit in the past 2 months....like that means jack :) Included are a couple pics of some Cyano? that I'm hoping is part of the "new tank" thing. I feed only enough to be consumed in 1 minute (Thera A+A or Spirulina flake one day and frozen enriched Mysis or blood worms the next) daily in amounts that doesn't leave stuff to rot. <Maybe> notice the happy yellow sponges that have doubled in number since I got the rock.. Cyano pic is below I have been vacuuming this stuff out, and although it comes back weaker every week it still comes back. Thanks again, y'all rock! Now go out and have fun, its Friday! Emerson <Do take a read through the Cyanobacteria control articles, FAQs posted on WWM as well. Bob Fenner>

Firefish substrate depth Respected sir Hello to all members of wetwebmedia.com. well sir i want to ask you that will the fire fish  be happy in a one inch deep sand i had seen the photo in your website. I really like to keep that fish. please reply me soon.  LIFE UNDER WATER, MONTY <Hi Monty, these fish burrow, so they need at least two inches of appropriate substrate, the deeper the better.  Nice fish!  Craig>

The Odd Couple? Odd problem (or maybe not): <Odd is good for me!> I've had a yellow-headed Jawfish in my 80G tank for over a month now. The aragonite sand is about 5" deep. I had laid out a slab of LR that has a nice notch in it a little more than an inch wide . The Jawfish made this the back of his burrow and has lived happily there since. Judging by the sand piles around it, he has excavated extensively. <There's no place like home!> I added a purple Firefish 2 days ago & it vanished. There are lots of hiding places in the tank. I couldn't find it with a flashlight and there was no way it could jump tank. Today I found the Firefish swimming normally a few inches above the Jawfish. It suddenly darted down past the Jawfish & vanished into the hole. It's been down there since & I assume it has decided to be the jawfish's roommate. (Perhaps this is temporary.) I see no obvious signs that the Jawfish is bothered by this. <Interesting...!> I am a little concerned though. Do you think that this is OK or will it be stressful for the Jawfish? I worry that the Firefish is sitting back there chewing on his tail. Should I intercede & evict the Firefish? Thanks, Steve. <Well, Steve, unless you're seeing the Jawfish in obvious distress, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think that if you intercede, you may cause more of a problem than you think that there is! Just enjoy the unusual behaviour...Only intercede if there is a serious problem. Enjoy! Regards, Scott F>

Playing With Fire! (Firefishes) I have been reading up on your Firefish FAQ's. I have one Firefish who is doing well.  I couldn't find another Firefish in the whole city....  Next time I see one I plan to acquire it.  The questions... 1.  So now knowing that they should be paired... is it a "good idea" to run the risk of buying another that will not pair up?  If they don't pair up they will fight, won't they?? <Usually, one will dominate, and possibly kill the other one. This is not always the case, but it happens often enough to advise against adding another one unless the circumstances are right> Is there a way to differentiate male /females? <External sex differences are not really known, as far as I'm aware> 2.I have a 90 gallon that is 4ft long and about 2 ft deep...  is that enough surface area???  2 ft per fish right? <Yes- on paper, this should be enough room. It depends, really, on how accepting your current resident Firefish is!> 3.I have about 2" (some parts more some parts less) of live sand in the bottom with lots of hiding spots in my 90lbs of live rock.  Is this sufficient? <Sufficient to maintain these fishes-yes. But from a biological maintenance standpoint, 2 inches is sort of a "no-man's land"; too shallow for complete denitrification processes to occur, but too deep for long-term maintenance in many tanks. We always say "1/2 inch or less, or 3 inches or more", in regard to sand beds...> They do burrow in the sand don't they or will they just hide in the nooks and crevices? <In my experience, they tend to retreat to rock work as opposed to digging in sand (not that they can't, but I personally have never observed this behavior with these guys). Best to have a lot of rockwork for the fishes to establish their own territories and retreat to when they feel threatened. 4. Any problems with Firefish and coral banded shrimp, pistol shrimp, or emerald crab? <Not in my experience> My two Percula Clowns were bullying my Firefish upon introduction but have figured out that he is not food.  One tried to sample him, but my feisty Firefish bit him back... since then they have left each other alone. <Sounds quite normal, actually! Just keep an eye on everyone, and intervene if necessary should the aggression happen again> So what do I do?  Stay with the one? or get another Firefish?  Anything in particular to look for IF I am to acquire another one? Dave <Well, Dave- it's really your call here! The tank is certainly large enough to support two, the layout seems okay, but it all boils down to the fishes themselves. You do run a risk of problems if you add another one; on the other hand, lots of hobbyists have done this with a great deal of success...If you do add another one, I'd try to get one that's slightly larger than the one you have, to give him/her a little "edge" upon introduction...Once again- it all boils down to the fishes and their individual personalities...Good luck with your tank! Regards, Scott F>

Playing With Fire! (Firefishes) Scott, Just wanted to let ya know that I did purchase 2 Firefish from the LFS. And boy, are they awesome! <They really are beautiful fishes, I agree!> They immediately started checking out their new digs, ate really well and snuggled down for the night on top of one another in a little cave in my 20gal. One is a little larger than the other and it is very obvious that he is very protective of the smaller one.  So much so as to stake out their claim in the tank and when they ventured out, the bigger one would show the little one around.  You don't see one without the other. Looks like I found quite a pair at the store. <There is certainly a possibility that it is a pair! Perhaps the size disparity will help ensure the peace in your tank. As I have mentioned a number of times here, every fish is an individual, and the fact that these two guys are getting along is really encouraging. Usually with Firefishes, the aggression starts almost immediately, so the good behavior of these two bodes well for a happy future!> I will keep an eye out if their behavior changes. What a cool hobby this is.  Also, thanks for the info on the nitrates. Maureen <Wow, Maureen- you've got me all stoked now! This sure is an awesome hobby! Good luck with these fishes- do keep me posted on their progress! Regards, Scott F>

Dart Goby Ptereleotris evides, yes that is my fish.  It still doesn't really eat anything, though it does appear to be very healthy. Very active, not skittish, gets along with and seems to stay near the biaculeatus (they seem to "hang out" with each other). I fed a good amount of the Sweetwater zooplankton into the tank, which the clown eagerly ate, but the dart just sampled one or two pieces and spit it out, or would make as if to get a piece, then ignore it, or completely ignore all pieces altogether. <Perhaps try some Mysis shrimp, too.> Could you clarify this statement please? <Sure> "<If you do well with it there will not be one for long.>"  Not entirely sure what the "one" is referring to. If I do well with the anemone there will not be what for long? That is how I was reading it. Sorry for my lack of comprehension! <No problem, BTA's are known for being fairly prolific when healthy. They can be encouraged to divide almost monthly given the proper conditions. I was referring to you ending up with a tank full of BTA's.> Thank you again for all your help! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Firefish Hi WWM Crew <cheers> I've been reading up on Firefish a bit, and from your site I've found that they don't do well unless they are in pairs.  <true for most... but they need to select their own pairs... as in, having been caught as a pair or forming a pair in captivity upon re-establishment> I was told by a fellow reefer that unless you get two of opposite sex, once mature they will kill each other. Is this true? <not so absolute... many aquarists enjoy various numbered populations... the key is larger aquaria with peaceful tankmates. If you have a smaller tank (under 100 gallons) do be sure to see that the pair behave as if pair bonded in your merchants tank and do so for more than a week after import. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks, Barry

Ptereleotris zebra Hi Bob, I was wondering what you thought of Ptereleotris zebras? Are they known to harm clams or corals? <Neither. And I do like this microdesmid. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dartfish.htm and the FAQs file beyond. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the advice, Jackson

Purple fire fish Hiya, <Oi!> Love the site, tons of good info. My quick question is this. I have a pair of purple fire fish for several months and they were feeding well, and swimming nicely together. Out in the open. However just a few weeks ago, I noticed one that had disappeared! To my distress I thought it had died, but just yesterday I saw him pop out of a rock to grab some food. He looked healthy for the few moments I saw him. <that answers my first question> Is this normal? Are the Firefish breeding or something?  <has the secretive one taken up a bolt hole or crevice?...if so, courtship/spawning may be evident. Otherwise less likely if just hiding in rocks> I was thinking of moving around the rocks to get him to come out and play, but I don't want to stress the rest of the fish out. <Please don't... with disturb breeding cycle if so> Recommendations? I really like the look of this fish.  <a real beauty> Should I get a third one? Or perhaps another pair? <hmmm... I think that might cause more harm than good if they seem to be pair bonded. If they are not, or were new...then I would say that yes.. a group/shoal is much nicer> Miguel <kind regards, Anthony>

Firefish and Lionfish... Oh, My! <Roger... Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob is away> Good evening Rob, to start I must tell you how impressed I am with the website, I've gotten lots of info from your site and it did stop me from getting a mandarin goby (thank goodness), and I work in a pet store so I share the info I find with customers who ask about certain species I have read up on here (salt water). Although we don't sell salt water fish but the store in town that does is always closed Sundays and so sometimes there customers ask us in desperation. Any how, I bought a beautiful 3" lion fish, I know it's not a dwarf but it doesn't look completely like any on your web site (I'm assuming due to it being a juvenile. But I digress, I have a pair of fire fish whom I have had for at least six months and they live under some slates of marble that are just wide enough for them, originally as protection from my coral banded shrimp who I'll now trade in for a prickly leather jacket (according to my research it should be a good tank mate for my lion). Any way, I've become rather attached to my fire fish and would like to know if you think that their cautious nature will be enough or if I should exchange them so that they have a better chance of survival. <under no circumstance could the Firefish survive in this tank... they are sure to be eaten. And with all due respect... the very nature of the question indicates your relatively new participation in the hobby. Kudos to you for taking the time to gather information first. Indeed, we must take the time to learn everyday. To the point... without deference to Bob out of posterity... I strongly suggest you buy and read The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. It is loaded with the very information you seek. Easily one of the best references on marine aquariology that you will find. And keep learning! Anthony>

Firefish and Lionfish... Reply! Thank you Anthony, for your quick reply, <quite welcome James> and I will do just as you suggested. As you guessed I am new to salt water. <a beautiful thing...we all start somewhere. Enjoy the magic of discovery> I've done fresh, tropical and brackish for the past 10+ years and decided a year ago this February to give salt a try. So far it's been a real challenge, many of the tricks you learn for the others aren't applicable. Any how, I'm always on the watch for books and I'll ask my boss to find that book for me. I must admit that I had a feeling the answer to my fire fish question would be no but I've always found it good to ask for a second opinion.  <absolutely...good instincts. Please don't hesitate to call again. If you aren't doing so already... peek in on our message board at WWF. And also look into the possibility of a local aquarium club/society. It's one of the best places to get honest information from people who aren't trying to sell you something. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks again, James 

Firefish I currently have a Firefish in quarantine. It has been there for a week and appears to be doing great (eating, reacting to my presence, etc.) I am wanting to add other fish to the quarantine tank but I know I can't do that until it's out.  <Not w/o starting the time clock back to zero...> Is it necessary to quarantine Firefish?  <Generally no... too timid, likely to suffer more from stress than it's worth... or jump out in the meanwhile...> Is it necessary to quarantine any fish that doesn't have scales?  <Yes> Do you think I could give it a freshwater bath and add it to the main tank without too much risk? I really am trying to be patient. . . . <Likely fine... best not kept singly... Bob Fenner> Keep up the good work Bob! David Dowless

2 quick questions (microdesmids, Gobiosoma) Hi Mr. Fenner, Two quick questions tonight. First, will the Firefish Nemateleotris magnicifica sometimes, or ever launch themselves out of the tank, or is it more the Dartfishes? <Both... launches itself out of the tank all the time, and IS a member of the family Microdesmidae> Second, does the neon goby Gobiosoma Evelynae always stay bluish with a yellow head, or can they become like the Gobiosoma randalli, and turn only with the yellow markings? <Not as far as I'm aware...> I ask this because I think one of the local LFS is selling G. Randalli as a sharknose goby, and is charging $20.00 more then the G. Oceanops that they also have. Should the sharknose be more expensive? Greg N. <Where's my Gobiosoma specialists when I need them!? Have seen (and yes, identified), G. randalli as G. evelynae (sigh) myself... Think I've finally had them sorted out on the WWM site. The non-oceanops gobies often sell for quite a bit more, not being widely cultured (that is, instead being wild-collected. Bob Fenner>

Firefish in Pairs? (and sick Red Sea Sailfin Tang) Mr. Fenner, I hope you had a great time in HI.  <Still there, but just barely> Now that you have returned, Its time to start shooting questions your way again. I purchased 2 red Firefish and began quarantining on Sat.-One of them was not as animated and active as his buddy. He stayed on the bottom of the tank 95% of the time & actually waited for the food to come to him to eat. Well, he was dead Monday when I got home. My question is: should I get the surviving ff a new buddy & extend the quarantine time for the extra days? <Wait a couple of weeks> Or should I keep the 1 fish alone & add another Firefish later? I know that they like to be in groups. I'm also considering a pair of small clarkii clowns as my next addition to the main tank. Should they be treated w/ therapeutic amts. of copper (.2ppm) while in the quarantine tank? <No to the copper... simple dipping and placing with tank-bred specimens> Your book says that they are susceptible to diseases. <Mainly wild-caught ones> Thanx again for your advice. Craig ps. my "SICK REDSEA SAILFIN" is doing great in the main tank. I soaked his food w/Zoecon & Zo?while you were in HI & the signs of lateral line has diminished quite a bit. <Excellent. Congratulations on your success. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock and Firefish Hi Bob, I would really like to thank you for creating this website. It has become an invaluable tool in my quest to learn and have fun.  <Outstanding! Exactly our intent> My question regards the curing of Live Rock in my 55 gal. I ordered 45 lbs. of Fiji from FFE and have 10 lbs. of Base Rock from my LFS. When I placed the Rock in my tank after picking off dying sponges and macro-algae, I saw that Ammonia was at about 4 and Nitrites at 3 or so. I did a water change and now they are both at .25 (and have been for a while) with Nitrates at 15. Since both Ammonia and Nitrites are at .25 will they stay there?  <Possibly... there may still be some substantial die-off that might well boost these to "water change" levels (as in more than 1.0 ppm> Is there an end in sight? <Likely so... patience is more than its own reward my friend> Also...once my live rock cures I would like to add a pair of Firefish to the tank. How do I establish a pair? <Ask your supplier, or pick out two that seem to get along. Bob Fenner>

Question on a Firefish Hi, My name is Tara. I was surfing the internet looking for answers to a sudden death of my Firefish. I came across your site and was excited with all the information I found on other topics, but unfortunately, not on my problem. Maybe you could help me----- <I will try> I recently purchased a Firefish (I asked for two, but was only sent one). He seemed to be doing well, then just died all of a sudden today.  <Among other sources of "stress"... you know (or seem to) that these are not "solitary" animals... shame on the folks who only sent you one... they should be held in "solitary confinement" for a while...> I have a 90 gallon reef with a sea clone skimmer, a hot magnum 350 Biowheel, two actinic lights (one white, one blue) and two daylight lights. In the tank is about 50 lbs of live rock with various hard corals, starburst polyps, 2 cleaner shrimp, a false percula, a diamond watchman goby, a bi-color blenny, a sebae, 2 Condys, 3 tiger-tailed cucumbers, 2 brittle stars, and tons of Turbos and blue-legs. The water quality, at least from what I can tell, is great. No ammonia or nitrites, about 15 ppm nitrate, ph is 8.2 and the salinity is .023. Everything else in the tank is doing perfect. What could have happened? I know that the Firefish like to be in groups, but would that have actually killed him? Any thoughts on it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. <I do consider that the cumulative hardships of collection, shipping, being alone did conspire to result in the loss of this individual. Do try again, more than one, with a different dealer. Bob Fenner>

Fish species Dear Bob, I have two questions regarding two of my fish. I like to know as much as possible about my fish, and I love details. <Good for you, your livestock, the planet> First, I have a Foxface rabbit (Lo vulpinis) that is now 5". (He was only 2 1/2" when I got him 8 months ago). He looks just like the pictures, with one exception; instead of having a solid yellow body, he has a big black polka-dot on his butt--well, near his tail where his butt would be if he had one. Sometimes the black extends from his head to his tail in one bar, but usually just the dot. Is he a Lo vulpinis from a different area or is he something else? <Possibly. Take a look through the coverage of the Rabbitfishes (family Siganidae) presented with images on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com... the Foxface does exhibit regional variability and change in pattern with age/growth... but this could be a similar species> Second, I bought a beautiful little fish identified to me as a rainbow goby. It's about 2" long and has a body build and movement identical to a juvenile convict blenny. Its coloring is striking red and yellow neon stripe on a white body and dark pelvic line. I was told it would grow up to be the size of my convicts, who are 6" now. I got this little fish almost 3 weeks ago. He immediately disappeared and I gave him up for gone, only to have him reappear 9 days later. Since then I've only seen him 4 times and only for about 5 minutes each time. So you think he'll ever stay out or is he a permanent hidey-fish? Do you have any info on this guy? <Don't know this fish... and similar to Pholidichthys leucotaenia? (the Convict "Blenny")... which are one of my favorite species... very outgoing... But, yes, most Gobies (a huge assemblage, likely the largest family of fishes...) are shy, retiring... and this one will likely become only a bit more outgoing with time... and not grow very fast or much compared with the Convicts. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Linda

Species figured out Dear Bob, Several days ago I wrote you asking to help me identify a fish the LFS called a rainbow goby. Unfortunately the description I gave you was from memory (I'd only seen this fish 4 times since acquiring him 3 weeks ago), and rather inaccurate. His body is much like a young convict blenny; he has a narrow neon blue stripe running from the top of his head to his tail, and a beautiful orange and yellow stripe lengthwise on his white body. A different LFS that I went to this morning had the big encyclopedia and I found a picture of this guy. It's Gunnelichthys curiosus, and they call it a yellow-striped worm-eel. Perfect description! I still don't know much, except that it's a sand burrower and probably eats sand dwelling life. So he should be OK, as I have live sand and live rock in my 100 gal. but I'll feel better when I see him eat prepared food. <Neat, and congratulations on the i.d.... Have never seen this fish in the wild or captivity myself (one of thousands...), about all I could find quickly is: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=12677&genusname= Gunnelichthys&speciesname=curiosus You can cut/paste... This is a microdesmid... like other Dart Gobies it's shy, dives into holes in the bottom, eats mainly zoo-plankton, small fishes...> Thought I'd share this with you. Finally finding out what something is gives me a sort of high. Almost, but not quite, like a marine biologist discovering a new species.:>) Linda <Oh yes... a delight. Things learned from personal experience innumerably more satisfying than second hand (books, Teevee, even the NET! Bob Fenner>

Firefish in a shoal? Can Nemateleotris sp. be kept in a shoal if their tank is big enough and if there are enough "bolt holes"? What size tank would you suspect this to be? If it could be done a species tank would be absolutely stunning. If you have any ideas about how this could come to fruition please share them. Thank You! <Not in a shoal per se... but microdesmids may be kept in "groups" of a few individuals in "large enough systems"... most are found in pairs or group associations in the wild (i.e. not singly), and I would allow a good four square feet of bottom per individual. Bob Fenner, who refers you to the family coverage and other FAQs about worm gobies on the www.wetwebmedia.com site>

Firefish? Hello Bob, I was wondering if purple fire fish will fight with red Firefish? I have two red Firefish in my tank and was thinking of adding a purple Firefish or two? any compatibility problems? what about with Helfrich Firefish? thanks for the info! Ben Garbi <These three species of Dart Gobies (family Microdesmidae) can mix together peacefully given sufficient space... I would allow at the minimum, a good square foot of open (discounting the area covered by rock, other decor) of bottom per individual. However... it would be best to display one species per tank/system for behavioral and survival reasons. Bob Fenner>

Helfrich's  I'm thinking of adding a Nemateleotris Helfrichi (Helfrich's Firefish) and  was wondering if this is a hardy specimen, and if it would get along with  the other members of the Firefish family. I was also wondering what it's diet  consist of, and how long it may live in captivity. >> This Dartfish Goby (Microdesmidae) is about the same as its more popular, common shallower water conspecifics... best kept in a small group in a large system... generalized zooplanktivore... In propitious circumstances (rare) they live for a few years. Bob Fenner

My question is could they be breeding, or what do you think is happening? I received two purple fire fish on 1/11/00 from ffexpress, for the last 5  days one of them has taken up residence in seashell, I have not even seen it  come out to eat, but when I put flake food in at feeding time the other one  seems to "fan" food in to the shell with it's tail. I shine a small  flashlight in an see it is still alive. They are about 2 1/2 in. My question  is could they be breeding, or what do you think is happening? >> Could be... or maybe just one of them is shy... I would try some live and otherwise bits of meaty food turkey baster squirted in their direction occasionally...  Bob Fenner

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