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FAQs on Dartfish Behavior

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

Related FAQs:  Dartfish 1, Dartfish 2, Dartfish Identification, Dartfish Compatibility, Dartfish Selection, Dartfish Systems, Dartfish Feeding, Dartfish Disease, Dartfish Reproduction,

Microdesmids react and behave differently amongst different tankmates, even peaceful ones.

Ptereleotris zebra curious behavior         7/2/15
One of my Ptereleotris zebra is showing a curious behavior, wondering what do you think.
<Let's see>
First, some historical context is in order. Back in 2013 I contacted you regarding the behavior of a group of Ptereleotris zebra I had. One year later I have lost two due to jumping out of the water,
<Oh so common>
with just one remaining. Lesson learned, my tank is covered now.
The lonely one has been mostly fine, although it became more shy than before.
<I hope I've mentioned that this is a social species... Not all Microdesmids are, but this one and a few others NEED to be kept in a group... a few to several individuals>
Anyway when I fed the tank it came out immediately.
Suddenly, about two months ago, I witnessed three panic attacks while eating. The fish jumped out of the tank, barely squeezing through a corner. Fortunately I was there, so I could put the fish back into water immediately.
<See above>
It happened three times. And that brought the social question, I was wondering whether it was a result of being alone with other fishes
(a group of seven Chromis viridis, a Centropyge bicolor, a Nemateleotris decora, 4 Sphaeramia nematoptera and one Zebrasoma flavescens).
I have been avoiding to add fishes because I had some metal contamination problem long ago, wiping all my corals, but, well, it was time with the issue apparently solved (even Xenia died, now I have thriving Anthelia, some Zoanthus, and some other "softs") and some time for the tank with several days off.
So, I ordered three fishes from my LFS. The three turned out to be four, because the LFS guy wanted an extra one just in case one was DOA. I took the four of them home because leaving one at the LFS would have been a bad idea (nobody around my area keeps P. zebra as far as I know) and one more wouldn't make a difference.
After acclimation, when releasing them, I noticed that one of the fishes was severely battered. But I didn't worry too much because it behaved normally and I saw it eating frozen mysis like crazy. Several days later it showed no sign of damage and it's doing fine. In fact I can't tell which one of the five fishes it is.
I haven't had many problems, apart from some social displays, a couple of chasing incidents or so, and some barbel exhibitions without any consequences. Rather than one burrow now there are several of them (the substrate is a DSB made with "oolitic" aragonite)
<I'd mix in some rubble... more stable for burrows>
and the five fishes
just distribute themselves into two burrows. I can't know if they just choose a burrow at random or I have two gangs :)
<No big>
What I have noticed is a marked difference in daring character, something I have often observed in Dartfishes.
<Ah yes>
The surprising thing is, one of the fishes behaves in a strange way. It likes to lie down on a cleaning magnet, which is (for me) a surprising behavior for a Dartfish. Other than that it doesn't do anything odd. It eats perfectly (I should say gorges) and I haven't seen it being bullied by the others. Anyway it sleeps with one of the gangs.
Several years ago I had a Nemateleotris decora that went apparently went senile after two or three years with me. It just sat in a corner on the sand bottom, swimming up to feed when I added food, and being rather unresponsive to my presence. It spent maybe two or three months in that state before dying.
But this zebra doesn't look senile at all, and it indeed reacts when I move in the same room. Also, it turns to be the most daring of them, usually the first one to come out of a burrow even when there's no food.
Whatever, adding more companions has solved the "panic" problem. No more incidents since I added them, which is great. :)
Any ideas? I have no idea of which of the fishes it is. I mean, might be the veteran or one of the newcomers.
<Enjoy! Bob Fenner>
Re: Ptereleotris zebra curious behavior         7/2/15

> I haven't had many problems, apart from some social displays, a couple
> of chasing incidents or so, and some barbel exhibitions without any
> consequences. Rather than one burrow now there are several of them (the
> substrate is a DSB made with "oolitic" aragonite)
> <I'd mix in some rubble... more stable for burrows>
This is interesting. Can these fishes use rubble to improve their burrows? I still have a bottle of medium-coarse calcium reactor substrate and I no longer use a reactor. Would be a good way to make it useful.
I have noticed that they burrow with a rather brute force approach, just pushing and twisting their bodies to displace sand (and making the water very turbid for several hours :) ). Another fish I've seen burrowing, the A. rainfordi, does it with much more finesse, taking small mouthfuls of sand and disposing of them outside of the burrow.
<Thank you. B>

white hairs on zebra dart fish    10/24/13
I have 4 of these little guys in my 90 gallon reef tank. All of my fish are non aggressive and get along fine. I noticed that this guy had these little white hairs coming out. Do you know what these are and should I remove the fish, or try to remove the fish?
<Yeeowch! I do know... these are almost assuredly the podial spines of a Bristleworm... The dart got too dang close... They will wear, fall out on their own over time; I would not try catching the fish... too much stress alternatively.
Bob Fenner>

Re: white hairs on zebra dart fish     10/25/13
Thanks Bob, it all makes sense now. I do have bristleworms.
<Ah yes; Microdesmids DO live "with" such... I would be considering baiting/trapping and removing some of the larger part of the Errantiate Polychaete herd here. A bunch re archived on WWM re Bristleworm Compatibility FAQs. Cheers, BobF>

Firefish: pairing off process from within a group? – 09/10/13
Hello Folks at WWM. I would like to have information on the process by which Firefish (nemotoloris magnifica) develop pairs from within a larger group, in which there are no previously existing pairs. I presently have in my 75 gallon reef tank, a group of 6 of them, which I have had for about 4 months. (Please know that I didn't just jump into getting them without knowing anything. I've had saltwater tanks for about 15 years. I had done research, had kept pairs at various times, and for a year or two had both a pair of orange Firefish AND a pair of purple Firefish all living under the same rock together).
<Have seen this in the wild; twice... rare>
 I like to believe that 1. leaving a nippy chasing Chromis in the tank that I really don't like, has helped to maintain cohesion in the group of Firefish;
<Likely so>
 and 2. changing from once-a-day feeding to feeding smaller amounts  a few times a day, deposited broadly in the tank, has helped to prevent territoriality or competition for resources.
<And this>
 Getting more to the point of the e-mail: Up until tonight, I have seen no aggression between the Firefish. These Firefish are almost always all 6 out in open water everywhere in the tank, and they are not at all shy (I'm guessing they might be if single rather than in a group).
<I think so too>
I have been sitting here watching the fish for about an hour, and my observation makes me want to believe it's more than simply the typical Firefish aggression that causes six to become one. This aggression is strictly between 2 of the fish. They take turns chasing and nipping each other, but in between these turns, they hoover together like buddies. They hoover together with about an inch of space between them,  not nearly touching as I have observed from past bonded pairs I've had, but nevertheless, the two of them together away from the other fish, never interacting with the other four Firefish in the tank. What should I believe about the implications of this social behavior?
<Mmm, something going on, but I don't know enough re Microdesmids, this species, to speculate...>
 Is this the way
Firefish develop into a pair from amongst a larger group, or just some interesting aggressive behavior pattern?
<Could be two males "jousting"; might well be pair-bonding twixt a pair. In the wild, adults are almost invariable found as pairs>
Thank you in advance for any information, feedback, and. or suggestions you can give to me.
<I'd keep looking about (see WWM re scientific literature searches); and asking on the various specialized petfish and scuba bb's... Thank you for sharing; and please do continue to report your observations and co-guesses.
Bob Fenner>

Bar Goby    2/27/13
I have 4 Zebra Bar Gobies and all are healthy. One however, has in the past week developed whitish colored lips, like he has covered his lips in a milky white substance, but it is the color of lips themselves. He still eats like a pig and swims normal. The others are fine and look normal. Any ideas?
<Mmm, may be rubbing its face too vigorously on the substrate; perhaps a sexual change... No cause for real alarm. Bob Fenner>

Ptereleotris zebra observations     2/26/13
Hello :)
<Hi there!>
I've added a group (three) Ptereleotris zebra fishes to my tank. I've added the three at once.
So far so good,  it's been several days and I see no aggressions. My tank has a DSB bottom (sugar sized aragonite, around 10 cm deep) and they have made a burrow, which they share at night. I have only noticed that some days one or two of them can have some worm bristles attached (I have a healthy population) but I haven't seen any ill effects.
Even an Amblygobius rainfordi shares the burrow entrance.
<Good observations>
I have noticed something curious. Everyday at the same time, maybe one hour before the lights go off, one of them is performing what seems to be an alpha display, or maybe courtship. It extends the fins, especially two large round shaped pelvic fins, and moves close to one of the other zebras, encouraging contact. I've seen the "warning spine" a couple of times, but no aggression, and it has just flashed  it quickly, not shown it even for a second. And I've seen it opening the mouth and contacting the other fish, but not biting at all (despite the fact that they have teeth!). The "contacted" fish doesn't react badly either.
<Just intra-species communication>
Meanwhile, the third fish, which is a bit smaller than the other two, is just swimming somewhere else. At any other time with the lights on, the three stay mostly together. The other residents are one Centropyge bicolor, one Amblygobius rainfordi, one Pterosynchiropus splendidus, two Nemateleotris magnifica, four Chromis viridis, two Gobiodon histrio, one Zebrasoma flavescens and one Chelmon rostratus.
Any experience with such behavior? If it's interesting I can try and film it.
<Have seen this in the wild. A speculation: is a sort of reinforcement as to the whereabouts of the individual/s (as opposed to other groups, bolt-holes)>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Odd Behavior   4/1/12
Hey Guys,
So I have three zebra Dartfish, 1 tank-bred ocellaris clown, and 1 small yellow watchman.
<Mmm, the Microdesmids may be challenged by the goby>
 Everything was going well as far as I could see. Everyone was getting along fine with no problems.  However, this morning I noticed one of the Dartfish acting odd.  Its head was darker and eyes as well.  It seems to have
become extremely aggressive toward the other Dartfish.  These fish are extremely peaceful from what I have researched.  However, he seems to be searching for the other two and displaying its finds to assert dominance.
<Is possible>
 I did add two pieces of cured live rock last week, that’s the only addition to the tank in a while.  Please help.
<As stated; you may have one domineering individual... Maybe the new rock/habitat will help dissipate the aggression; if not they will have to be separated. Bob Fenner>

Firefish Behavior   8/4/11
Hi Crew,
<Hello Jerry>
I thought it might be a nice change to get a question about a healthy fish, rather than a problem. I have a Red Firefish
<A social species>
that seems happy enough with his little hole in the live rock that is his "door" to whatever kind of den he has established under there. I'm interested in one aspect of his behavior that I haven't seen before (but then I'm new at the SW side of things). He sometimes sticks the posterior half of his body into the hole in the rock and "wiggles." He sometimes interrupts himself when he's feeding to do this. Do you know what this is about? Is it some kind of scent marking of his territory? Actually, I get the feeling it has something to do with excretion, but why would he defecate and/or urinate into his den? Could he be trying to ensure that his excretions don't get into the water column, giving his presence away? That doesn't seem right, since he's hanging around in plain view at the time.
<May be that this fish is increasing circulation in the spot ahead of its entering (to respire)... or testing whether some other animal has taken up residence there (very common in the wild). Bob Fenner>
Re: Firefish Behavior   8/4/11
Hi Bob, and tanks for the response...But the fish really never does this prior to entering the residence. He often does it while feeding, and he certainly stays out in the open then. So I think the question is still unresolved, since none of us has fish ESP! Thanks for the opinion, though.
<I do agree w/ your stmt.s... Am/was just speculating of course>
Regarding the firefish as social, I think I asked about that a while back.
WWM discussions about firefish often include the comment that this is a social creature, but there are also WWM statements that keeping multiple firefish in a tank results in one individual killing the others.
<This species lives in "pairs", not in a group>
I think when I asked the question, I got the impression that it's okay to keep one in a small tank (mine is a 29 gallon). Could you provide a definitive opinion of what size of tank is good for this species, also how many should be kept?
<If the one is fine, I'd just stick with it solo here... in this size/shape volume>
<Thank you, BobF>

Reef Safe Schooling Fish 01/18/09 Hi all, been awhile since I wrote. My question of the day: I would like to get some schooling fish. I need reef safe and have ruled out Anthias because of their size, also understanding they constantly fight for pecking order within their group. Seems a poor choice unless I could house a huge school. Another I've ruled out is the Blue Chromis. Again, it's their size. I understand I could start with tiny ones, but know they will end up bigger than I want. I was told a Firefish -shown as a Goby on some sights and in the Dart fish family on others - would be a good choice but in my research it looks like they prefer to pair off so that tells me they would fight until they are down to 2 or less if there is no potential to make a pair. <Hmm, I don't know why you might assume this, but it is not so in my experience/understanding. They are quite peaceful fish. They do like to pair, or form groups of 3. I don't think it's common for them to fight when there are more than 3. They might form separate groups, but I've never heard of these separate groups not getting along in an appropriately sized tank.> But the Firefish is the size I was thinking would work best. I hope to add a Butterfly at some point in the future. <How do you not have room for Anthias, but have room for a Butterfly? How big do you want this school of fish to be?> Advice needed: Should I give up on the idea of having school of something or are their plenty out there for home aquariums but not noted as such? I need peaceful reef safe and of course I know you need to know information about my community. Here's my information Tank: 180 gallon FOWLR . Fish: Foxface, Percula Clown, Coral Beauty, Six Line Wrasse, Diamond Goby, Yellowtail Damsel. Other Critters: Red Fire Shrimp, Arrow Crab, 1 lg. Blue leg Hermit, 25 dwarf Blue leg hermits, 3 Emerald crabs, 25 scarlet hermit crabs, 1 Sally Lightfoot Corals: Mushroom corals. Note: We plan to explore Button Polyps or Zoo's that will handle low light but not until we replace our wet/dry system with a closed loop filter system. Our existing sump has too many baffles so we're in the process of ordering a new sump for the skimmer as always! ...one thing leads to another, huh? In closing, may I share with anyone reading this post to heed the advice this site gives, especially their warnings. Take the limitations of your home aquarium serious. No matter what kind of water box you're keeping, understand it's best to select specimens with highly proven track records for tank life <indeed> and leave it to Captain Kirk or marine biologists to go where no man has gone before! <And/or the very experienced/responsible/intelligent aquarists.> Thanks in advance for your help, <Best to keep reading/researching/pondering. You seem to be aware of your choices here. :-)> Debi aka fiskybizniz <Best, Sara M.>

Re: Reef Safe Schooling Fish 01/19/09 As always, thanks for a prompt reply....and your reply is interesting. It was left unstated if I have discovered all my possibilities? As for the Firefish, one of your sponsors (name intentionally deleted) advised a group of 5 or more would be a good choice. <This is usually the case with any schooling fish, yes. The problem is that Firefish don't truly "school" that often in aquariums. I'm sorry I didn't take the time to explain this earlier.> Bio's I could find about the Firefish else remain unstated and/or do not confirm enough particulars about schooling and staying in a school. <You're asking for concrete answers when there are only uncertain ones available. There are so many variables to consider with the individual fish and the system you might be putting them into. No one can tell you what's going to happen with absolute certainty. There is also a problem with the understood definition of "schooling." With true schooling, the fish move together, react together, etc. Firefish don't so much "school" as they do congregate.> Does anyone there at Webmedia know if Firefish 1) school as long as they don't have a mate? <They will likely school/congregate in any event. Once they have a mate, the pair might stick more closely together... but I doubt they would entirely alienate themselves from the group, if they wouldn't otherwise.> 2) School until they hook up with a mate and then split from the group? <They might. Again, they're not great "schoolers." It's more as if they tend to congregate at times.> 3) Or stay with a pack no matter? <They're not going to stay in the pack all the time no matter what. Mate or no mate, the group is likely to disband occasionally/frequently.> 4) Fight with each other till they have a pair and if no chance of a pair, fight till there is only one? <They will "fight" occasionally (more like chase each other). And if they're going to fight, they're going to fight/chase each other for any number of reasons... might have nothing to do with being able to pair or not.> Only information I have been able to find was their desire to pair and split and/or fight with others of their own kind. What does that mean? <It means they don't really school so much as they congregate.> You leave me a little confused about Anthias? Are you saying I could house a school of them in my size tank? <You have a 180g tank, correct? In such a size tank, I think you could have 4 Bartlett's Anthias (a good, hardy schooling fish).> As for my Butterfly idea, I hear ya. Some can grow quite large and/or be very needy for lots of territory. I would love a Saddleback but I have not conducted my research to find out if it's a good fit or another one for Captain Kirk. <Not a fish for the newbie, but not quite impossible either. I'd definitely put off acquiring one.> Speaking of CK, did I oops on my comment about marine biology? I did not mean to imply those in our hobby need a degree to aspire. <No worries, I didn't take it that way.> It was a comment to support the depth of the hobby. I hope I didn't offend anyone. <I don't think you did... don't see why anyone would take offense. I wasn't offended. :-) Cheers, Sara M.>

Update & Good Tidings... look behind the Overflow. Microdesmid beh., sys.     9/20/08 Dear Crew, I have a little story to share. Since I last wrote, I have come to the conclusion that one of my Lysmata amboinensis did indeed die. He never showed up. The post-mortem on the exoskeleton with the muscle in the tail pretty much sealed the deal. Anyway, a week later one of my two Nemateleotris magnifica was gone. He was the one who was very skittish and didn't appear to feed well. Water parameters were stable (pH 8.4, and zero ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, 80F, 1.022), <Mmm, the last a bit low... I would raise> so I attributed it to bad luck and the temperament these fish are known for. This was about a month ago. Fast forward to yesterday. A grammar loreto has been in the display tank for about a week, in addition to the two remaining L. amboinensis and two Perculas. The second Firefish is now gone. I start to panic a bit. He seemed to eat well. He nearly choked on the frozen mysis and loved frozen Cyclops (assumed to be copepods). He even eats spectrum pellets when the tank bred clowns don't gobble them all up. <Good> Water parameters are about the same with exception of nitrates of 20. Am I overfeeding? <Maybe... this amount of free NO3 is about all I'd allow> Am I behind on water changes? <Perhaps> Is there some monster I've missed living in the LR? <Starting to read like it> Did that piece of foil I let slip into the tank a few days ago with the frozen mysis pollute the tank? <I would find, remove> Today, I plan for a large water change (25gal). I'm going to put 15 gal back into the QT I cleaned out last weekend after using the same water (with partial changes) for the grammar and shrimp over a couple months. I'm hoping to buy a Centropyge bispinosus in the next week although I'm having some doubts due to another unexplained death. I take the lights and glass cover off the tank and peek into the overflow on this MegaFlow Overflow Aquarium with predrilled holes. I see not one, but TWO FIREFISH LOOKING UP AT ME. <!? Oh yeah... "jumpers"> I am not the harbinger of death, at least not this time! I vaguely remember looking here before but apparently not close enough. I thought this might be a helpful anecdote all the other newbies. (My tank is about 10 months old.) Don't lose hope and look in the overflow. He survived on messy leftovers for a month. I guess he's pretty lucky that I hadn't been turning off the circulation during feedings. The space between the overflow and the glass isn't much more than a centimeter, but they both managed to make it over. I guess I'll have to rig some kind of cover. The hardest part was getting them out. I had to use a net to basically "encourage" them to jump back over the overflow. In my profession, it's the "Oh by the way" comments that kill you ("I'm having chest pain... My left eye is suddenly blind"), but I've got to ask since I have your attention. Do you have any suggestions for additional livestock? I suppose I'm done, but I'll take anything I can get. Current stocking plan: 2 Perculas, 2 L. amboinensis, 2 N magnifica (!), one G. loreto, and one C. bispinosus. Thanks again for all the help. I hope this is useful. -Rich <For browsers, this is a 72 gal. bowfront... I would look for at least something more in the way of a "show" item... of size, motion here. Perhaps a Ctenochaetus or Zebrasoma species tang for now... A more peaceful species of mid-size wrasse (Cirrhilabrus, small Halichoeres)... Bob Fenner>

Orange Firefish, Behavior 8/26/08 Hi, about a year ago I brought an orange Firefish and I have now had it for good part of a year. For the first few months he was fine swimming out with the other fish all the time, but then a few months later I added a peppermint shrimp and now he hides away in a cave in one of my bits of live rock with it all day. If I am to walk past the tank he will dart away into the hole and not come out for a while and he seems not to be coming out when the food is around, I don't know if the shrimp could be getting it for him? <No> I have heard about pistol shrimp and gobies but I didn't know if my Firefish could be doing a similar thing. <They do not have this type of relationship with any shrimp.> Bit of a shame really since it is my fave fish and it now seems to be very scared of me Toby <Most likely it is being threatened by some other livestock in the tank. As fish mature they tend to get more territorial and aggressive, and the relatively passive Firefish is most likely a target. When a fish goes on high alert it will react more to other stimulus, like you, and spend more time hiding. It is most likely getting sustenance either from food when you are not looking, or feeding off pods growing in the tank.> <Chris>

Hiding Firefish, 3/13/08 Hello Crew, <Hi> I am starting a new FOWLR tank. It has been a month since I've started. I have a 48 gallon bow front tank with 50 lbs. LR and 60 lbs. LS. My cleanup crew consists of 5 hermit crabs, 2 turbo snails, 1 arrow crab, 2 peppermint shrimp, and 2 cleaner shrimp. My tank cycled perfectly in about 2 weeks, leaving me with 0 ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. I currently have, in order of addition to tank, 2 Perculas, 1 one spot Foxface, and 2 Firefish. My question concerns the Firefish. I added one two my tank 4 days ago. He immediately retreated to a nice spot beneath one of my LRs and did not show himself again. Out of concern, I consulted my LFS who recommended that I get a second. <Its generally a bad idea to add more fish when you think you may have a problem, however in this case it should be ok.> The second Firefish seemed to take entry to the tank much more readily, however, once he found the other Firefish he too does not exit their group haven. Since, they do seem to come out more often but not more than a few inches from the haven. <Normal behavior for this fish.> I am wondering if this is normal, and they will slowly be more sociable in the tank, or should I seek to save them and bring them back to the LFS. <That is pretty much what Firefish do, hang out near their bolt hole and picking out passing food particles.> Currently they do not exhibit any evidence of being attacked and still have a healthy weight. I thank you, in advance, for your incite on my problem. Thank you, David <See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/wormfishesArt/wormfishes.htm .> <Chris>

Scissortail gobies... domestic dispute? - 7/20/07 Hi folks, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. My husband's written to you a couple of times before, but this is my first time. <We are strangers but once> We have a month-old 55-gallon tank with a pair of scissortail dartfish in it. They pair-bonded immediately and have been spending their nights in the same little burrow under one of our live rocks. They would always be swimming around together. <Neat!> But tonight, I found (I think) the smaller of the two dartfish lying on the sand outside their burrow. He swam around quickly when I startled him, then went and laid back down on the sand. He seemed fine earlier today, ate energetically, etc. Water parameters are all good, and nothing has changed in our tank recently. Why would this dartfish suddenly leave his cave and start sleeping out in the open like this, when they've previously always wanted to sleep under the rocks? <Mmm, could be a few things... Might be guarding the front (they might have reproduced!), or could be an internal complaint (a "parasite time-bomb" let's say), or the cumulative effects of a lack of nutrition (Microdesmids need live food a good deal of the day... hence our push for refugiums with DSBs et al....).> Could the bigger dartfish have started fighting with him, and driven him out of the burrow? <Possibly, but doubtful> Do paired dartfish ever turn antagonistic towards each other suddenly? <Not often> Does this mean he's ill somehow? Or is it just a normal fluctuation in dartfish behavior and I'm being silly to worry about it? These are our first fish, and I'm really attached to them... Thanks, Laura <Best to stay diligent, keep offering small amounts of food, frequently. Bob Fenner>

More scissortail goby questions. Want To Stop Fish From Jumping But Worried About Sealing The Tank Up 'Too' Tightly -- 07/30/07 Thank you for helping me with my Scissortail Dartfish question (I'm the one whose mated pair of Scissortails seemed to be having a fight.) <<Hi Laura...I don't know who helped you before, but I'm certain they were happy to do so>> The good news is that they did indeed get over it on their own, and lived together happily for another week or so; the bad news is that we didn't have the tank covered well enough and came home to find the larger of the two dead on the carpet. :-( <<Unfortunate... And difficult to prevent... I've had Bartlett's Anthias jump right through the ½' squares of plastic 'eggcrate' mesh>> If you could answer a couple of questions related to the aftermath of this sad event, I'd be grateful: <<I shall try...>> 1) We got some clear acrylic and cut it to exactly match the top of our fish tank, so now there are only small holes around our tubes and wires and so on. This should prevent any future deaths by jumping, but we're a little worried that it's also blocking the flow of oxygen. <<Proper/efficient gas exchange is my worry as well. Do ensure lots of vigorous water flow within this tank>> We have a protein skimmer, <<Ah...a big help re oxygenation>> a power head, and the pump outtake breaking the surface of the water, but all of this action is under the acrylic cover, and it seems like it could just be recycling de-oxygenated air. <<Not a worry if the skimmer's air intake is outside the tank...if not then perhaps you can connect/run a tube to the outside>> Is this an unnecessary worry, or should we do something else to our system to improve the airflow? <<Adding a sump, and if possible, an in-line refugium, will provide many benefits to include improved oxygenation of the system and expelling of accumulated CO2>> 2) We want to get a new scissortail for our bereaved widower. Is there anything special we could/should do in either selecting or introducing the fish to improve the chance of their bonding with each other? <<I don't think it will be much of a problem as this species seems a bit more tolerant of conspecifics than some of the other Dartfish species. Actually, I suggest you keep a small 'group' of these fish rather than trying to 'pair' them out. A small grouping (5-7) should get along fine and will be more natural/make the fish more comfortable and less likely to hide...and as long as they aren't being harassed/chased by other fishes in the tank, having a small group 'may' reduce their tendency to jump>> Our surviving scissortail seems to be very stressed on his own (he's gone back to diving under a rock when he sees me coming, the way he did when I first brought him home a month ago.) <<Indeed...needs more of its own kind around>> We bought the previous pair from the same tank, so they got along from the very beginning without our having to do anything. Thanks for your time and attention, Laura <<Happy to assist. EricR>>

More scissortail Dartfish questions... sys., comp., beh.   8/9/07 Thanks for your patience with me and my Dartfish questions. To recap quickly, I had a pair of scissortail Dartfish, but my tank wasn't well enough covered, and one of them jumped out of the tank and died. The other one became very stressed after that and hid under a rock constantly. <A quite common scenario> After sealing our tank cover better, we went back to our LFS and bought three more Scissortails. When we put them in the tank, our original Dartfish immediately came out and started swimming with them, and now is eating and swimming normally again. So I guess it really was depression/stress/loneliness that was getting to him! However, now we have a new problem. One of the new Dartfish seems to have disappeared. The last two nights, only three have come out for feedings. We searched all around the carpet and there have been no more escapees, so I wonder if it died inside their burrow or something like that. <Possible> Soon after that fish disappeared, A) one of the other new Dartfish began hiding in the burrow most of the time, and B) we noticed our fairy wrasse begin to bother the Dartfish, scaring them back into their cave frequently. The wrasse never bothered our original pair of Dartfish, who had already been living in the tank for a few weeks when we added him, and in fact the surviving Dartfish from that pair (who I can recognize because his fin is darker than the others) is not afraid of the wrasse and swims around him with no compunctions. However, the new Dartfish go whizzing into their cave whenever he comes near them. I'm concerned that the third one, who is most skittish, may not be getting enough to eat (he does eat at every meal, but only a little.) I also wonder whether this may have been what caused the death of the missing fish (though I should say that none of the new Dartfish were this skittish until one of them disappeared, so their newfound fearfulness may be the effect of the missing dartfish's death rather than the cause.) <A possible contributing cause> So I guess my questions are these: 1) Is there anything we can do to help the skittish scissortail survive? <More space, less Cirrhilabrus...> It's a 55-gallon tank with lots of live rock, holes, sand, different hiding places, etcetera, but the fairy wrasse does seem to preferentially go over and swim right around the entrance to their nest. One of the new fish feels comfortable swimming around the tank as long as the original Dartfish is out, wrasse or no wrasse, but the other one has been completely panicky since the disappearance of the fourth guy. 2) Unless the missing fish miraculously turns up alive, we're back down to three Dartfish. Is that an OK number? The LFS said it ought to be fine when I called them. <Is fine> 3) This is the question I feel embarrassed about asking, but I can't help thinking about it; I've read the FAQ's and online information and entries in our fish books and everything says that fairy wrasses are NOT fish-eaters like some other kinds of wrasses, but is there any chance he could have eaten the missing Dartfish? <Mmm, perhaps if it were dead, the Cirrhilabrus very hungry... It could well have harassed the Microdesmid/s in this small volume, particularly if it is/was solitary... Fairy/Velvet Wrasses are very social animals...> He never *looks* like he's hunting them-- I mean he never lunges at them or anything-- and he's only about three inches long, but still, the fact that they're acting so afraid of him all of a sudden makes me wonder. The Dartfish are smaller than the wrasse is, maybe two inches long each. <Just territoriality and lack of other social interaction> Our water quality's been perfect, if that makes any difference. We've been feeding them frozen Mysid shrimp and the Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp. Is it possible we might be underfeeding them? <Mmm, doubtful. Do they appear thin?> Thanks for any insights you might have! Laura <Welcome. Bob Fenner> Angel compatibility and a not so happy purple firefish   5/9/07 Good day/night to whomever may reply to this enquiry from sunny Wales in the UK, <Good morrow to you from more than sunny S. Cal. where we are experiencing a delightful multi-day Santa Ana (the winds reversed from their typical offshore direction, coming instead from inland, over the desert... warm and very dry> I shall begin with my new system setup and parameters for you so it may give you an insight into what maybe going on, I have three tanks co-joined into one. My main display is a 6ftx2ftx2ft with 80kgs of Fiji live rock and a 3" sand bed of CaribSea Aragamax, it overflows into a 3ftx2ftx2ft sump which contains 7kgs of live rock rubble and 10kgs further of Fijian rock and is also host to a Aquamedic TurboFlotor multi SL 1000 and TMC Vecton 600 UV unit. <A very nice unit> The third tank is 2ft cubed and has a 4" sand bed of CaribSea Fiji live pink sand and 12kgs of live rock and plays host to some nicely growing Caulerpa, 2 x Lysmata amboinensis, 1 Centropyge flavicauda and a Nemateleotris decora whom I'll get back to in a minute. All results of these tests were taken this afternoon at 3 p.m. using Salifert test kits and a refractometer and Tunze monitoring equipment. S.G. - 1.025 Calcium - 380ppm P.H. - 8.13 Nitrate - 5-10ppm Temp - 26.3 dKH 6.4 (has been a consistent 8.2 - 8.6 before last weekend's first water change since the setup) Phosphate - between 0.00 and 0.1(very difficult to tell with this test kit) it shows very minimal blue colouration in the vial. <Ah, yes... and this is fine> Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 I set this up from an old 40 UK gallon system that I have had for a year, from which I have spent the last four months transferring the rock, water and eventually the inhabitants from, and is now maturing in another room to start transferring the inhabitants of another tank into but that's another story. Livestock in the main display include - 1) 4"dia. Zebrasoma xanthurum. 2) 1 1/2" Zebrasoma veliferum. 3) 1 1/2" Paracanthurus hepatus. 4) 2" Siganus (Lo) vulpinis. 5) 3" Centropyge flavissimus. 6) 4" Calloplesiops altivelis. 7) 4x 1 1/2" Chromis viridis. 8) 4 1/2" Amphiprion frenatus. 9) 2" Orange tailed Chrysiptera cyanea. 10) 3x 1 1/2" female Pseudanthias squampinnis. <One will become male...> 11) 10" Echidna nebulosa. 12) 2" Synchiropus picturatus who was my 1st fish bought just over a year ago and survived in the old 40 gallon tank with a few of the above mentioned fish. 13) 2" Anampses meleagrides (I know enough said, although on a good note he does feed on frozen Mysid and brine shrimp and has been with me for five months now, crossed fingers). <Congrats> All have been added at intervals dependant on shape, colour and size and I have not seen any aggression whilst feeding and all have nice niches in the tank at night. No disease has been treated for and all feed extremely well on various food stuffs which include Cyclop-eeze,Formula one and two, frozen mysis,squid,krill,plankton <Spacing of words...> and San Francisco Bay Brands Marine Cuisine and Angel and Butterfly frozen cubes which i alternate every three days between meaty items and algae items and then a mixture of the two. Other additives include LiquidLife USA' product BioPlankton and Kent marine Garlic extreme and also once a week I add 14 drops of  Warner Marine Research's Lugol's plus Iodine solution. I use RO/DI water for top off and add Tropic Marin's Re-mineral marine and triple buffer to it, and apart from that I do not add anything else. My last two investments are going to be a calcium reactor, however I am receiving mixed opinions for their use and am seeing some super quick growth with my SPS and also a chiller as I am forever fighting a battle to cool the tank down due to the intensity of the lighting and some really hot weather. I hope I haven't blabbed on too much but I think it may help lead towards a more informative message from my part so without further adieu i shall ask My first question is regarding a juvenile Imperator angel who is about an 1 1/2" dia. and has been kept for me at my LFS for 4 weeks now and is feeding great and looking excellent. I based the building of this tank on the notion of keeping this fish and my only concern is my Lemonpeel angel who is quite timid in his temperament but is quite larger than the Imperator, should I or should I not attempt to give it a try? <Mmm, I give you good odds of all working out here... the Pomacanthus is so small it will likely be looked over/accepted... and grow soon enough to become the alpha/dominant animal here> My second is to do with a very poorly firefish whom I moved from an existing setup 2 weeks ago from another room along with his/her partner, and have had these 2 together for several months now. I placed them both in the same time in the 2ft cubed tank, a fortnight after the angel and the 2 cleaner shrimp went in. Sadly one of the two died while I was on holidays last week and on my return I found the other is now at the front of the tank constantly just treading water in the lower corner. He/She has not eaten at all since my return which is now 5 days, He/She shows no sign of skin related infection or fin decomposition, the colour on the tail end of the body does appear more darkened than the front. I am getting worried now and am reluctant to move him/her back to the original home which will induce more stress. <I would do so... along with adding another individual at the time> A big thanks goes to your time and effort to respond to this and the many countless aquarists who face these end of the world type scenarios like myself, without you and this site most of what I have have achieved in the last 15 months would certainly not be possible. May I one day greet you all and express my deepest gratitude personally Jason. <I look forward to this. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Purple Firefish/Behavior 3/15/07 Hi <Hi guys> We are new to the fish world and have become obsessed after buying our daughter an 250 litre aquarium for Christmas. <Does happen.> We have in it now, 2 clowns, 1 Regal Tang, 2 Purple Firefish,  4 shrimp, 2 mandarins, 1 Sea Urchin and 3 pieces of coral.  Everything is  doing fine and is healthy and doing lots of reading and buying fish that will  get along. <The mandarins are definitely not a good first fish.  Most will only accept live food in the form of copepods/amphipods.  Do read here and related files above on this fish. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm> BUT..... After swimming about the tank very happily with everything for weeks the 2 firefish have suddenly taken up residence in their rock they always go into at night and rarely come out. One comes out to grab food at feeding time and appears to  be giving it to the other one who does not come out, but is not dead as we can  see it swimming (not floating!!) about in the rock. After being really friendly  with the clowns, 1 firefish just watches from the entrance to the rock and they  don't come out to swim. <Not unusual in your situation.  These fish do best in a specie tank and in groups of three or more.  If mixing them with other fish, it is best to mix with similarly behaved fish, especially aggressive eaters and fast movers.  Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/wormfishesArt/wormfishes.htm> Water is perfect and there is no disease, and although we are novices, we are avidly reading all we can get as we are perfectionists and want the best for our  fish and invertebrates and a happy aquarium. From all our reading as they are still healthy but keeping to themselves is it possible they are breeding in  such a new tank !! <Very unlikely.> If so what do we do ? <Continue to read/learn, especially before buying.  On another note, please do a spelling/grammar check before sending.  These queries must be edited before posting in the dailies and we just do not have the time available to do so.  James (Salty Dog)> Any information or advice would be much appreciated. Kind regards Colette and Paul (the fish novices) PS When will the create new account option be available again want to register now we've found the site, think we'll be regular visitors now we've got the fish bug. <I'm not aware that an account is needed to access the site. Bob?> <<Mmm, "Never had it, never will"... we don't register people, guns or commies. RMF>>

Firefish Gobies Strange Behavior   7/28/06 Good day to you all. I currently have a 37 gallon tank with 20 lbs. LR, two Ocellaris Clownfish, two Firefish and one Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp. All of the fish and the shrimp seem to act normal, stroll the tank and otherwise look healthy, however the Firefish during the feeding period and far less often at other times, seem to, and for lack of better words, flick their bodies against the substrate. <Mmm, "what they do" to a large extent... in the wild as well as captivity> Is this a natural behavior, or should this be a notification to me that they may have some parasitic attackers. <Likely no problem> My water temp is 80 deg. F. constant, ammonia and Nitrite 0, and Nitrate 5 ppm.  I have not tested iodine yet, and believe that the level is correct as the shrimp has gone through some molting cycles regularly with no issues. I look forward to any assistance you could provide me.  Thanks in advance... your site has been wonderful to me so far, keep up the good work. Erik from Norfolk, Virginia <I would change nothing here. Cheers, Bob Fenner> My experience with a Gramma and firefish... behavior  12/17/05 I would like to share my experience with a royal Gramma and a firefish. I have a 10 gallon setup with sand, about 10 pounds of rock, mushrooms and a couple other fish which I will not talk about since that makes me overstocked. <...> I bought the firefish and it looked to be full size. Then about 4 weeks later I bought the Gramma and it was small, maybe half the size of the firefish. When the Gramma is annoyed by the presence of another fish he opens his mouth as wide as possible moving towards the other fish hoping to scare it away. <Good description> It rarely attacks. I have seen the Gramma lunge at the firefish a couple times and the firefish did have a shredded tail once. Both fish compete for food in the water column but the Gramma will eat anything, where the firefish is more selective. I do not know what ticks off the Gramma to take his open mouth stance <Simple crowding> but whenever he is annoyed or wants to protect an area he opens wide. It is interesting to note that the two are always on one side of the tank very close to each other. It is a small tank but even so you would think one would be intimidated enough to find a place on the other side. <Perhaps both are more "afraid" of something else...> The only thing I can think of is that the filter water comes in where they stay and it is there that most of the food comes down during feeding time so they always hang around there. <Good reasons> The firefish's response to the open mouth is interesting. Sometimes he just turns his tail to the Gramma and at other times he just changes his angle and the Gramma backs off. Rarely does the firefish actually bolt from sight as he would when he is spooked.  They have been together 9 months and the Gramma is much bigger than the firefish and his mouth opens verrry wide.  Most of the time they just do their own thing and it is peaceful. The firefish hovers at his 45 degree stance and the Gramma does some landscaping by scooping up sand from an area he decides should be his home and he deposits it elsewhere mostly on the mushrooms and rocks. They are very colorful and that is why I got them. So my guess is that in a bigger tank you should have no problem. But as they say, past performance is no guarantee to the future. And the two fish that I have may not have the same disposition as the two you get. <Thank you for writing, sharing your observations. 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

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>

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>

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>

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>

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¢ª 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> 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!>

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 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>

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