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FAQs about Jawfishes, Family Opistognathidae 1

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Related FAQs:  Jawfishes 2, Blue-Spotted Jawfish, Pearly Jawfish, & Jawfish Identification, Jawfish Behavior, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Disease, Jawfish Reproduction,

Opistognathus aurifrons in a wholesaler's cubicle

Jawfish Tank Adjustment Hey guys, Let me start off with my accolades, you guys are the best! Okay, now I've had my 55 gallon tank for a little over a year now and I haven't had any issues in the least for a couple months. Right now I have a Gymnothorax tile (eel), blue devil damselfish, Hawaiian feather duster, flame scallop, two Condylactis anemones, and a coral banded shrimp. Everyone seems to be thriving nicely. The Condys have chosen their places and haven't moved in months. My question is two-fold concerning Jawfish. My tank has a coarse substrate mostly of dolomite and crushed coral of a 20/80 mixture. I would like to add a Jawfish or two but I realize they need a mixture of sand to stabilize their burrows. Is their any way I can mix sand into the substrate without taking anybody out of my main tank (I have a 10 gallon QT tank, so obviously not everyone can come out)? <Worth trying to add, or possibly (though funky looking) provide a deep container with mixed media for this purpose> My second question is, do you think I am going beyond my bioload (I keep a regular eye on chemicals and my nitrates stay below 5 almost constantly), and do you think the Jawfish would bother/be bothered by any of the current residents? <Should be okay... I take it this is Opistognathus aurifrons (not a Pacific species), so it should be aware, steer clear of the Condylactis> I don't want to overload my system because it seems very stable right now. (pH: 8.3, Amm/Nitrite:0, Nitrate:3, KH: 10, traces of iodine, and calcium, I feed vitamin enriched krill, brine shrimp, and photo/phytoplankton mixes couple of times a week) <Sounds fine. Bob Fenner> Sick Jawfish First, I would like to thank all of you for this wonderful service you provide. <Welcome>   I would never have been able to get my tank  running without your website.  Here is the problem, my Jawfish has come down with some type of fin erosion.  His tail fin is severely eroded and  parts of his body seem to also have (skin/scales) erosion. I have searched  through your website and it seems sometimes you recommend that people place  the fish in a hospital tank and dose with antibiotics, sometimes you recommend improving nutrition.   <Mmm, not me at least... the root problem with these circumstances is almost always environmental... I encourage folks to check what they can, and even if nothing is detectably wrong, to execute large water changes> Not being an expert myself, I have attached a photo  of the Jawfish to see if you agree with the diagnosis.  Also, if you do  recommend treatment with antibiotics can you recommend a brand? Also, do I have  to worry about his tankmates catching it?   <No and no> Will adding some iodine  help?   <Won't hurt, not likely help> Is it at all possible to treat with antibiotics in the main tank (I  know it will be bad for the beneficial bacteria, but it will be difficult to  remove the Jawfish due to his extensive network of caves.  I do want  to add that he has been in the tank for about 3 months now and he is still  active and eats well.  Please forgive the multiple questions, but I want to  make sure that I do the right thing. <I understand... a few things will definitely help... to bolster the fish's immune system by soaking its food in a supplement like Selcon, doing the water changes... and having looked at the photo (but still wanting to know what the other fish/livestock are) am more concerned that you have a predaceous problem... looks to me like your Gramma is being brutalized... by? A pistol shrimp? A mantis? Other?> Here is the usual information. -Nitrates/Nitrites  0 -P/H  7.9-8.1  (I have problems maintaining p/h above 8) -specific gravity 1.025 -temperature 79 -29 gallon tank established for 8 months tankmates are as follows -2 clownfish (ocellaris) -6 line wrasse -1 queen conch -assorted snails and hermit crabs -xenia -star polyps -Live rock <Ahh, am more convinced of the predator possibility...> As for nutrition, I alternate between these foods Formula 1 Formula 2 Vitamin Enriched Krill Vitamin Enriched Brine Shrimp Thank You for all of your help! -Charles <Do keep a flashlight handy and take a look by night for goings on in your system... perhaps (I would) try a baited trap of sorts (described on WWM) for finding the bully here. Bob Fenner>

Info. on Opistognathid culture? Hi, <Hello there> First off, I want to say that this website is great! I've just stumbled across it while doing a search for info. (which brings me to my question in a second...) and it is very cool that you (Bob) and the other generous persons on this site are providing all this information. :-) <Welcome> Ok -- on to my question: Do you know where I could get information on rearing techniques for Opistognathus sp.? I saw on your site that "some species of Opistognathids have been bred and reared in captivity" and I was wondering who or what organization I could contact to possibly get details. <Mmm, Frank Hoff's works, general searches on the Net, there are some recent books... Do you read German?> I recently completed my Master's thesis project at a university on the East coast involving finfish culture and I'm now on the West coast and getting ready to start up some culturing of my own to possibly sell to LFS/warehouses in the area. <Ahh! There is much anecdotal (as opposed to more scientific) information/observational work on Jawfish reproduction... but many species have been cultured.... though the principal (aurifrons) is still mostly wild-collected...> Thanks in advance for any information or advice you can give me. Sincerely, Kristin <Will help you... more... if you'd like, on return to the States (where ref. works are). Bob Fenner, in Quito> 

Yellowhead Jawfish lifespan Hi,   I have had about 20 Yellowhead Jawfish for roughly 2 years now.  I was wondering if you know the expected lifespan of a Jawfish in captivity and/or the wild.  I would just like to know in case I try to rear the fry, or if I'm going to need to restock my tank anytime soon.  Thank you for your help Mark Olsen <If memory serves, some public aquariums have had this Opistognathid in captivity for more than eight years. Bob Fenner> Jawfish Behavior (9/8/04) <Please capitalize the first letter of sentences and the proper noun "I" so we and our readers can read your messages more easily. It takes a lot of our volunteer staff's time to fix this.> First of all just want to say that I love your site, I read it all the time when I get a new fish to learn about it. My question today is I have two yellow head Jawfish, I bought them from a pretty nice pet shop and both were pretty young and sharing a burrow. After floating the bag for about 20 minutes I let both Jawfish go. Immediately  both swam under a rock and began building a burrow. Both are fine now as they both live in the same burrow, one live in front of the burrow and the other in the back of the burrow since the burrow they share has two opening. The front end to the other end of the burrow is about 5 inch apart. so really the two Jawfish is 5 inch apart from one another. <Are you certain this is a single burrow with two openings, not two separate burrows.> My question is, could this be a male and female pair? <could be> Or is it possible for two male and two female to pair up, <not so likely> because I read some where that they are really aggressive against their own kind. <Only in tight quarters. Several can co-exist in a large tank if they can stay about 12" apart, as in the wild where the live in colonies.> Or do you think that when their young they aren't aggressive toward each other but when they get older one of them have to leave the burrow. I do see them both taunting each other with there huge mouth now and then but I know nothing fatal will come out of it because both share the same burrow at night when they sleep. If both is a pair is this normal. <Who's to say what's normal or not? If they get along, then it's normal for those two and you needn't worry.> Is the taunting of the with their mouth normal. <Yes, could be playful, sexual, or aggressive. If they get obviously aggressive toward each other they may need to be separated, but if they pair up or your tank is big enough (say 75+ gallons) everything should be fine.> Thanks a lot for helping with my questions. <Hope this helped. Steve Allen.>

Sick Yellowhead Jawfish Hello. <Hi Ray, MacL here.> I think I know the answer to my question but I want your opinion to  see if there is something I am missing.  <Lets find it then.> I have a 55-gal mini reef whose inhabitants (until this morning) were all doing wonderful.  One of my fishies is a Yellowheaded Jawfish  (Joey). He is one of my favorites with his behavior and his little  hole.  <They are wonderful fish.> Today, he is just not acting right.  He is sitting in his  hole, breathing very hard and fast.  When I did my daily feedings, he did not even seem interested in food. Usually, only my percula clowns eat more than he does and this is the first time he has not eaten anything since I got  him 4 months ago.  I cant see any spots or splotches on him, but then again  most of him is in his hole. <Good point!> NOTHING new has been added lately and nothing has been added  without being QT'd since Jan.  All other inhabitants (fish, corals,  inverts) are all accounted for and doing fine.  I did a full water  parameter check and it is great (zero ammonia, nitrite, silica, phosphorus,  nitrate 5, Ca 320 (little low), pH 8.25, dKH 10, SG 1.025). <SG is a tad high and nitrates should be a zero so a water change might be in order.> The only thing I can think of is that his hole is below and slightly to the left of my growing rose anemone. It has tripled in size  since getting it in early March and the tentacles are several inches long  (GREAT rose color) and the anemone has not moved an inch since putting it in the tank. <They are lovely creatures but can be horribly deadly in reefs.> Could my little Joey be suffering from an anemone sting? <Definitely a possibility and if so might be a huge problem.> If  it is a sting, from what have read in the archived FAQ's, I don't think there is anything I can do but wait it out and watch him closely. <Provide the best water conditions you can and I would add some stress guard.>  Is there anything  I can do about it? <Not really, but if you seriously suspect that to be the problem, one of them has to be taken permanently from the tank.> I am in the process of mixing water for my hospital/QT  tank just in case I need it (should be ready by tonight). Also, any ideas for getting him out of the tank should I need to? <That one is going to be a toughie, he'll hide in that hole.> If you have any ideas, please let me know.  It really saddens  me to see any  of my beautiful creatures sick or suffering. <I agree, mostly at this point its just a wait and see but the problem is that one of them needs to go, the anemone or the Jawfish. Good luck, MacL> Thank you very much.

Update on sick Jawfish 16 Aug 2004 Thank you for the quick response and the feedback. <Hi Ray, MacL here.  This bounced back to me with most of my reply gone so let me try this again.  I guess my computer had a brain . . .well I'm sure you can fill that in.> Sadly enough, my sick little Jawfish Joey did not make it though the night after my first question. <sooooo sorry to hear that! I know what its like to loose a great fish.>  When the lights went off, he was still  in his hole breathing very hard.  When I found him in the morning, the few hermits I have, a few bristle worms and the shrimp had already done a job on  him. <They will sometimes converge on a fish not doing well. But it really sounds like he got enough of the anemone to take him down. I'm very sorry this happened.>  I could not make out from what was left as to the cause of death.  All that is left is a big, empty hole in the middle of my tank, and my heart. <I truly do understand this.> All other members of my tank look the same (got a Featherduster and  a few mushrooms looking a little sickly but I think I moved a powerhead slightly last cleaning so current is interrupted). <Possibly but keep an eye on them just in case.> The nitrates are between zero and 5 (slight color tint) before I do my weekly 10% change so that is  nothing new.    I did not change the water as scheduled because I  was preparing to set up the hospital tank and needed the water. <Might be a good idea to go on and do one now if you can.>   I will continue to keep a close eye on all other inhabitants but as there is no sign of illness or infection in any of them, I highly suspect the anemone is the culprit. <They can really pack a wallop which makes it even more fascinating that the clown fish love them so much.> All the other fish stay clear of it (clowns come  close but tend to ignore it) and I think that Joey just had his hole too close  and may have accidentally gotten stung. <Possibly the change of current as well? Sent the tentacles closer to the Jawfish.> Thank you again for your help.  I just wish there was a happy  ending to this one.  <Me too, definitely.> Sadly, this will be my last Jawfish until I get 2 more  tanks (planning a Lionfish tank next) but they are just so wonderful to watch  there will be another.  <I saw the most amazing tank in Nagoya, Japan with only Jawfish in it.  Was a big deep tank and quite lovely.> I have gotten lucky with my anemone (it's happy,  healthy, growing, colorful, hasn't moved in 5+ months, and my other few corals are nowhere near it) so it is staying in my tank.  I don't want to risk  loosing another Jawfish to it. <Very smart, stay away from things like mandarins as well that probably wouldn't know what an anemone is.  Good luck, MacL> Thank you again.

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

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

Ongoing re Opistognathids <Hi, MikeD here> Concerned over the welfare of my yellow headed Jawfish..... Tank 125g, ETSS reef devil sump, skimmer combo;  Mag 18 driving return flow;  122# of live rock;  ph 8.6;  ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and phos all undetectable on tests;  1.022; temp 79-80.8....Alk is mid-range on red sea test;  calcium 350;<it sounds perfect!> Inhabitants are:  many small hermits;  many small snails ;  2 Turbos;  2 blood red and 1 coral banded shrimp;  2 sally lightfoot;  2 Mithrax crabs;  in addition to the 2 jaws, I have 3 small yellowtail damsels, a large lawnmower blenny and a juvenile Pinktail trigger.<The trigger could be a problem eventually, if not sooner. While Pinktails are considered among the milder members of the family, they can and will decimate your crustacean population, possibly quite soon.> Although both the jaws had made 2 dens each, they are both now living on the surface. one under a large mass of Chaeto and the other in a "cave" under a piece of live rock...one hasn't eaten (even after turkey baster treatment) in 3 days....<This sounds stress relate, as if they/ve been evicted, possibly being hunted.> neither is in his/her den.....the trigger took over the one's den (but he/she is OK under the Chaeto and eating well)...the other abandoned his/her den on the west end of the tank....and there are no other fish within a foot of his/her den "porch" on any regular (if any at all) basis...... Should I be concerned?<Yes. These Jawfish are under extreme stress>....these jaws have been in the tank since mid May...the "new arrivals" entered the tank about 10 days ago (trigger, blenny, shrimp and 4 crabs)...will the jaws settle in? <That's difficult to say, but I strongly doubt it as they were already established when the others were introduced.> By the way, my substrate is a mixture of oolitic, reef sand and crushed coral, with plenty of shells and rock fragments to build with...at least IMHO....the depth ranges from 2.5 to 4"....plenty of open sand surface as the LR is stacked to 16" in places...<again, sounds like an admirable set up.> The original dens they constructed were quite nice, or so I thought.....<Yellowheads and many other Jawfish species move on a regular basis, so that's not unusual.> Your input would be appreciated...<While the most probable culprit is the Pinktail, without actually seeing him harassing them I would suggest that you watch your tank carefully.  Blennies, too can be very territorial and also like dens and tunnels, thus could also be the origin of the Jawfish's anxiety, but it's almost certainly one of the two, possibly even both.  As I see it, in the near future your going to need to make a choice and find new homes for somebody(s?)> Grunfeld in Detroit (Home of the NBA Champions)<Good Luck>

Breeding Jawfish Dear Mr. Fenner,      <John>        Recently, I noticed one of my Jawfish carrying eggs in its mouth. I have read the FAQ's page discussing Jawfish breeding but still have many questions. My questions are geared toward the raising of the Yellowheaded Jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) from eggs to larva to adults. Currently the pair is being housed in a 90 gallon display tank, with wet/dry filtration, powerheads, and a skimmer. I Don't think the larva will survive the display tank but I've been thinking of setting up a twenty gallon species tank, for the purpose of breeding. I would appreciate any thoughts and recommendations on equipment for this set-up. <A twenty might do... you should (quickly) read through Frank Hoff's works on food culture, start your gear going for same... see Florida Aquafarm's site re> Also, I have no idea what the requirements for caring for and feeding the larva and on to the fry (hoping they make it that far) should be. I would appreciate any advice you can give me, and any references to web sites or books where this may be discussed. Also, I was wondering if many people have had success raising Jawfish to adulthood. Thank you for your time, John <There are a few protocols. Take a look on the "Breeder's Registry"... Bob Fenner>

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

Preparing For a Jawfish (3/6/04)   First of all, I really appreciate the time and effort it takes to answer all the questions you do. <You're welcome. Sorry for the delay. One of the crew is out and I'm helping clear his inbox.>   Cutting quick to the chase....I would like to add a Jawfish to my 29 gal setup. <Very interesting fish. Which species? The Blue-Spotted are very nice, but cost a lot more than the others.> There is a series of steps I need to take before I could do this and I'm not quite sure how to go about them. <OK. First make sure that your tank is completely covered. Jawfish will jump through the tiniest hole. Also, only peaceful tankmates, and only a couple of them in this small tank. The Jawfish really should go in first if possible.>   Firstly I need to add depth to my substrate, currently I only have 15 lbs of aragonite.  I guess the first question I have is how much of what would I need to add?  <Minimum of 4", preferably 5 or 6. Also, not sugar fine. It needs to be bigger with some chunks it can use to line & cover its burrow.>   Secondly, What process (beyond rinsing and dumping) should I use to add substrate to the tank?  I'd like to triple or quadruple the depth of the bed and I have reservations about dumping that much sand and gravel straight into the tank. <I'd gently rinse it to remove debris and pour very slowly. I pour mine through a long large-bore funnel I bought at Pep Boys. That way there will be much less clouding. I've added it straight before (without rinsing) and swept up the debris in a net, but it sure made a mess of the rock. I had to gently blow all the sand off the rock with a baster. If you already have rock, the funnel allows you to direct the sand exactly where you need it.>   Thanks, you've been a big help already <Hope this helps too, Steve Allen.> Sexing Jawfishes 2/6/04  Hi (love you're site!) I was wondering if you new how to tell how to tell the difference of the Yellowheaded Jawfish.  <the one that won't stop to ask for directions is the male...>  I couldn't find it on your fish articles all it says is that it's hard to tell the with the Yellowheaded Jawfish.  <true. Its not reliable, and best done with a group to compare to. Males have larger skulls, thicker lips and larger buccal cavities (chin-pouch so-to-speak). Rather like sexing FW cichlids. Anthony> 

Jawfish Trouble (1/2/2003) This morning I made a beeline for the fish tank to see if the yellow head is still in the world of the living, when I saw the peppermint shrimp on its side being the main course for  2 blue legged crabs. <Not unheard of. Hard to say if the shrimp died first and the hermits are scavenging or if one of them killed it, which is distinctly possible.> Please help me if you have a few minutes. <I'll try. Steve Allen tonight.> The mandarin and the yellow head <definitely have personality> are my absolute favorites and we're attach to them which probably sound stupid since they're just fish. <Not stupid at all. They are interesting creatures. Though their brains are tiny, they do have individual personality traits. I worry about aquarists who do not have some sort of "bond" with their charges.> Dear WetWebMedia, My husband gave me a 10 gallon tank, sand and live rock as a gift a year ago. <Kinda small & harder to maintain. Requires constant vigilance to water quality. What additional filtration do you have?> With the exception of 1 clown fish and a shrimp way in the beginning, I was fortunate enough not to loose any other fish. Heaven knows I'm no specialist and just enjoy watching them. <You don't have to be a "specialist." Just be a "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and acquire the level of knowledge you need to responsibly care for what you have or eventually intend to have.> We just came home from our New Year's party in a happy and good mood when I noticed this ugly covering on my yellow head Jawfish. It looks like something you can just swipe off, like the whole body is busy to change its skin. Also at the 2 small front fins their is 'n red line where the fin attach (like a bruise) as well as next to the mouth and 'n thin red line that goes to the eye (like the veins are filled with red blood and you can see it). <Worrisome signs indeed. Has his behavior changed at all? Is he lethargic? breathing fast? eating OK?> I can send a photo first thing if this does not sound familiar. <Pix always help if not blurry.> We have a Mandarin <How long have you had this fish?>, the Jawfish, Peppermint Shrimp and 2 Clown fish lots of crabs and snails. <Too much bioload for this small tank. Give back a clown as noted below> I desperately am trying to get rid of the 1 clown since he's really aggressive these last few days and does not allow the fish (with the exception of the Mandarin) to come out of the live rock - I just don't know what to do with him after I got him out! <Most LFS will give you 50% of what they can expect to sell it for> Do you think the stress can cause the white stuff. <possibly contributory> I thought is might have been Ick, but apart from being a novice I really could not see separate little spots. <Ich can start out with whit spots and cause mucusy slime. Another big concern would be Brooklynella. Do look up some pix of this on WWM & other websites to compare. Bacterial infection may be part of this, too. Time to consider removal to QT and treatment. Consider posting your dilemma in the 911 forum on wetwebfotos.com to get some suggestions from others with experience of similar problems. Also read more about diseases on WWM.> Please help, the Jawfish is my personal favorite <understandable> and he's been in the tank for almost a year and no problem. He still eats (less though), he does come out of his cave, but he looks really bad covered in that white slime/muck. His eyes are clear . The water tests seemed normal <I trust this means zero ammonia & nitrite> with the exception of the Nitrate which seemed a bit high <number, please> - I'll do a water change first thing in the morning. <always a good idea> <I also fear for your Mandarin. Your jawfish's problem is probably contagious. Keep an eye out for sliminess or rapid-breathing. Additionally, it is very rare for a Mandarin to survive in a tank like yours. Does it eat frozen foods?> Ps. By the way - a very happy year to all of you. <Thanks, you too.> Thanks for helping us newbies enjoy our saltwater tanks without having Marine Biology as a major. <a labor of love> Kindest regards - Ronel Uys. <hope this helps>

Re: Please help my Jawfish does not look good 1/5/03 Thanks for  answering back. As per your question on the Mandarin, we have it now for almost  7 months and it ONLY eats frozen bloodworms and picks off the rocks. <This is very rare and fortunate.  Most mandarins refuse all prepared foods in favor of feeding exclusively on live microcrustaceans.> I have to admit our LFS warned me it might not make it, but so far so good and he stole my heart as it is. (The fish not the LFS) <They are quite irresistible (the fish, not the LFS!)> I use the Quick Dip sticks to test the water -  Nitrate is 40 (mg/L) the Nitrite is 0.5 the PH is 7.8 <Please do repeat these tests with suitable test kits.  I would hesitate to trust the accuracy of dry test strips.  If accurate, those values are quite worrisome.  If you have Nitrite present, I would suspect that you may also have some ammonia present, ammonia/nitrite toxicity would explain your jaw fishes symptoms.  Your low pH is indicative of a problem too (should be 8-8.4).  After your current problem is solved (see warning below), this can be fixed with water changes and/or the addition of buffers.> Also I took a chance and put "Rid Ich+" in the tank (I have no idea how to get a Jawfish out of a live rock tank.....without removing the rock) <In such a small tank, removing the rock is a perfectly ideal way to remove the fish as is draining the tank down to 1-2" of depth.> I treated the tank (1tsp every 24 hours) for the last 2 nights and none of the fish seems to be affected, but I'm not sure if it is working either and what about the organisms in the rock we don't see?? <From the photos and signs you described, I doubt that ich is the culprit of your Jawfishes problems.  Any medication poses some risk to the organisms in live rock, so I would discontinue it's use.> I've tried to catch a clear shot of the Jawfish, can you see the yellow is fading from its head? <The photo isn't super clear, but color loss is another symptom of ammonia/nitrite toxicity.> The tanks' been great for almost a year and the only new addition I've done about 3 weeks ago is live plants and a shrimp. Can the tank develop its own sickness or is the likelihood for that coming from new stock you add to it? <It is always possible to introduce disease with new organisms, and that is why quarantine is so important.  I suspect that an animal died (could be just a snail, hermit or shrimp) or part of one of the plants your introduced died or contained some dead material and caused an ammonia spike.> Thank you for taking the time to answer back. I really appreciate your input, we really want to pull this little guy thru. <If you correct the problem, the fish should pull through just fine.  As a quick fix, you can use some Amquel+ to eliminate any ammonia or nitrite (after confirming their presence with a good test kit) and then do a couple of large water changes (25% or so) and look for and remove anything that is dead or dying.  Do not do a water change or add buffers without testing for ammonia!!  Raising the pH dramatically increases the toxicity of ammonia.  If ammonia is present, only add buffers or do water changes AFTER adding Amquel or allowing the ammonia to naturally come back down to zero.  HTH.  Adam> Ronel

Jawfish Compatibility Issues (12/27/2003) I've read many questions and comments about Jawfish being territorial, but is it possible to house 3 in a 90 gallon? <probably not> I just added 2 and there are very interesting little creatures. They were just added today so no territories are established yet. <Best to stick with only two. You need to QT any new livestock which means it would be a month before you could put in the third one. By then the two will be well-established in territory. Even if you put all in at the same time, two could end up pairing up and attacking the third.> Second question! I recently switched from a Berlin ho to a Berlin classic to save some precious cabinet space around my sump. The problem is that so far it has removed nothing. My ho wasn't removing a lot, but I don't have a very heavy load on it. When installing this in my sump the space was limited so in order to make it work I had to form a curve with my tubing. I did say a curve not a sharp bend. The water output seems to be fine but it's not removing anything. It's powered by a Mag 5 by the way. Should I be concerned? <you want skimmate> Should I try to switch back to a hang on in my case? What do you think of the berlins? <They do not enjoy a good reputation from what I have read. I'd suggest you post this problem on http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  under equipment/dry goods and seek advice from others who use this product. Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

- Jawfish Foe - Hi, I have been lurking on your site for tips for two years since I set-up my 50 gal Uniquarium reef system. <Glad you find the site useful.> All is going well and I have followed your advice (and from The Conscientious Marine Aquarist") and have had great success. Live rock is plentiful and productive, corals (a few LPS and several soft corals) are happy and I have a stable crew of compatible tank mates. All have been in together for at least 1 year. 1 pair Maroon Clowns 1 Orange-tail Blue Damsel 1 Bicolor Blenny 1 Yellow Watchman Goby 1- Banggai Cardinal 1- Flame Angel 1- Neon/Tailspot Wrasse Plus snails, a few shrimp, many hermit crabs, 3 brittle stars and 2 Fromia Stars. Here is the question/problem... When I started, it was my intention to have a Jawfish, so I built an area of higher (5-6") sand bed on one half of the tank (3-4" overall) with lots of rubble. I added a Yellow headed jaw first (along with the cardinal, blenny and goby) and added the more aggressive and those needing more established tanks later. Everything was fine for three months. Until I decided to add a Diadem Dottyback. He fought with everyone and within a few days the Jawfish was gone (presumably becoming the bulge in my red brittle star's disk.) Not knowing what caused his demise, I tried to add another Jawfish (blue spot this time. An expensive mistake.) He spent a few days finding the perfect spot, built a wonderful tunnel, ate well and was very cool, capping his tunnel with a rock at night.  After about two weeks of apparent bliss, (for me and him) I found him one morning in tatters trying to escape the surface of the tank. He eventually died. I blamed the Dottyback and finally managed to get it out (the soda bottle trap really works!!!). Thinking the coast was clear, I added another blue spot (money to burn, I guess) who settled in nicely in the same spot. After about two weeks of no apparent fighting, I found him one morning in the same tattered condition. Dead! <Bummer.> I have watched for hours at a time and have witnessed no aggression against the Jawfish. It all happens during a single night with no prior scuffles. <Hmm...> Who could be the culprit that does not want a Jawfish in the community? <Could be you have a snapping shrimp or even a mantis - that would be my guess. Each of these burrow and would eventually encounter the Jawfish in it's lair and if the crustacean were large enough, the Jawfish would likely lose. Hard to say specifically because I would have initially blamed the Dottyback, same as you did. More observation is warranted as well as perhaps some more soda-bottle-trap action over night just to see what shows up.> I am determined to house a Jawfish and am willing to find a new home for any fish that refuses to live with it! Any clues? <Not many... interesting problem, sorry I don't have a better answer.> Christopher <Cheers, J -- >

Jawfish Hi Guys. My local FS here in the UK has just received a delivery of 6 of these beauties.......... <Agreed. This is a neat species.>       "Opistognathus sp. U1. One of many as-yet undescribed Jawfish species. Dr. Randall (pers. corr.) told me once that he had backlogged at least a dozen or so in this family... let's hope he gets around to them soon. N. Sulawesi pix.  OR    Opistognathus sp. Gold Specs Jawfish. Mabul Malaysia. A male with a mouthful of eggs."     Difficult to ID as the ones they have in have similar body markings but totally black heads with bright orange eyes. <Mmm, I wrote the above text and took the pix... as far as I know this species is still unidentified... What else can I add? Let's see, for the family they're quite outgoing, and don't seem to get any larger (have seen a couple dozen specimens)> We get very very few Jawfish into the UK and they are always expensive. I am taking a pair (can you ID male /female ??) for my system as first fish in. <Have seen males with eggs in mouth... but no discernible external differences I'm aware of between sexes> I have mixed substrate (aragonite, course grain and rubble) to a depth of 4"...I assume that would be ok. <Sounds good> Notice on WWM site that this species has very little information. can you give me a pointer to any other sites that might have or is this a relatively newish !! species. <Would have to look the same as you> Look forward to your prompt reply.  Steve. Tope <Keep good notes, and an open eye for literature... and consider writing an article and more re your experiences. Bob Fenner>

Sores on a Jaw Fish I have a blue spot Jawfish that has 2 small sores on near the base of his tail fin. Due to the nature of a Jawfish, he spends mush of his time with his head out of his dugout when I am at the front of the tank. Of course, if I back up, he'll hover in the column, but then I can't see the injury well. I'm sure you get the idea. <I think so, yes.> So far this problem has existed about a week, but I do not see the wound healing or getting worse - it seems to be on the balance, in limbo. <These types of things take time - more like a month.> I have a Q-tank that is unoccupied, so I could move the fish BUT, is the difficulty and stress of trying to extricate a Jawfish worth the move? <Probably not unless the spots start to spread.> (tank is 30" deep and the Jaw is well dug in) Is there a greater risk of damage in trying to get the Jaw to the Q-tank than the risk of the sore getting worse? <I'd be concerned about both.> Thanks a lot.  BTW. I got my signed book the other day, "Reef Invertebrates".  It's quite impressive. I'm soaking in every page, and letting my children check out all the pictures!  You did us all a favor with this book! <I'm glad you are enjoying it.> Bill Roh <Cheers, J -- >

Substrate for pearly Jawfish How are you guys today? Can you tell me what type of substrate is good for a pearly Jawfish and blennies? Fine sand or something more coarse? For Jawfishes,  a mix of some fine (a few millimeters) and larger (several millimeters) and some rubble (shells, coral bits) is best... to allow for digging, tunneling. There are too many types of blennies of too many different modes of life to be overall general re their needs... sifting types are best with fine (1,2 mm.) sand. Bob Fenner>

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

Jawfish quarantine Hello everyone,      I thank you for the headaches you relieve (better than Excedrin).  I just read Mr. Fenner's article on Jawfishes and he stated that if one is to keep multiple specimens in a single tank, it is better to introduce them at the same time.  He also stated that they were somewhat territorial.  If I am to quarantine them (2 yellow headed Jawfish) should I place a divider between the two? <Yes, a good idea in a small tank... alternatively, and this may seem counter-intuitive, if you had a handful of these fish, they could be crowded together w/ little risk> Will they be ok together in a ten gallon q tank for about a month without causing each other damage?  Usually I don't put substrate on the bottom of the q tank, will it stress them out if I don't? <I would place at least sections of PVC pipe, but some coarse coral rubble be best> On a related note, how does one determine the sex of a Jawfish?  Are you guys a non-profit yet? <Don't know how to sex Jawfishes... and not an official non-profit, but not profitable!>   Maybe you should look into it if you're not!  Thank you for your help. -Cory <Thank you for writing, Bob Fenner>

Jaw Won't Leave Rocks. Well, well, well... Guess what.. The Pearly Jaw for my new tank came today and he built a burrow immediately! Hmm, I guess you just never know with these guys. They're crazy fish! Fun, but definitely crazy. -Will  < You are going to have fun with this guy, they are one of my favorites. Cody>

Re: Jawfish Won't Come Out  4/9/03 Stupid Jawfish!<LOL> He's still just hanging out in the rocks...<Give him more time, I'm sure he will come around.> Oh well, give him time I guess...<Or maybe a beer... j/k plez don't try this. :)  > Thanks for your input Phil.<No problem Will> See ya around the boards!<See ya> -Will<Phil>

Get In Your Hole!   4/7/03 Hi there :)<Hey Will, you got Phil, or Bozek on the forums.> Did any of you guys check out my thread on the message board that I got a Blue Spot Jawfish for $50?<Ya, GREAT deal!> Hmm, hehe, well..<You lucky....> It's doing really well- eating like a piggy, defending his territory against wanton snails, and didn't jump last night- but he hasn't made a burrow yet. He's just hanging out in the rocks as if he were in a burrow-- ya know, hovering a few inches over his hole, etc. I've read that they should make their burrow on the first night, and my guy didn't do that.<I read a book that said all tanks need an UGF, so not everything goes as we read.  As much as we would like things to go on time that don't always.  I don't see anything to worry about.  He is eating and that's really good.  Just make sure nobody else is picking on him.> Is that normal?<See above> Thanks!<No problem Will.  I'm sure he will be digging his burrow soon, good luck and post some pics of the little guy!  Hope this helps! Phil>

Gobies and Jawfish >Hey Guys, >>And gals.  Marina here. >Is it alright to have a Blue Spotted  Jawfish  and a Amblygobius phalaena Goby >>Do you mean "Amblygobius"?  Check this link for information--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amblygobius.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amblygobiusfaqs.htm >in a 135g together? There will also be a Purple Tang, Ocellaris Clown, Flame Hawk, Blue Hippo and possibly another Tang. Also, can gobies of different species be kept together in a system this size (Amblygobius Phalaena  and Mahidolia mystacina)? >>To the best of my own knowledge, care should be taken with animals that occupy the same niche, or have very close taxonomy.  I would exercise care, and not try to mix similar species. Look here for a bit of information on the shrimp gobies (which I think would do alright with the Jawfish or the A. phalaena) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpgobies.htm >Last questions, are Copper banded Butterflies truly reef safe? >>Generally, yes, though there are always stories of some that may get a bit nippy with some types of corals.  Keep them well-fed and I would expect few problems. >And I have read and heard that they will eat Aiptasia Anemones, is that true, and would they eat an Anemone like a Curlicue or a Bubble Tip Rose Anemone? >>I've heard the same as well, it's not an "always" kind of thing.  Also, to the best of my knowledge curly-cue's are an Aiptasia, I've never heard of a Copperband getting nippy with the larger anemones (especially if it's being hosted by clowns). >Thanks for your time,  Nick Shushkewitch >>You're welcome, Marina.

Jawfish and Deep Sand Beds Good Evening. <And a great evening to you! Scott F. with you tonight!> I'm in the planning stages of a salt tank, not having had one in quite a few years.  I happened upon this website a few months ago and am delighted at the wealth of information - told my fiancé that it was the Holy Grail. <Or at least a really good source of information on aquariums! LOL> I have a question that I haven't been able to find the answer to here yet, but if I just have been looking in the wrong places please forgive and re-direct me. I would like to incorporate pearly Jawfish into my tank, and would like to provide them with the correct substrate for them to burrow on, which I understand is a mixture.  However, when reading about the deep sand beds, it has been advised not to mix different particulate size as this is detrimental to it's function.  So - would it be plausible to section off an area more suitable for Jawfish tunnels and give them a happy mix in there and have the sugar-sized sand throughout the rest of a tank, and if so, How?  What could I use to section off an area that wouldn't create dead pockets, but would be effective against mixing the different substrates....or at least delaying mixing... Thanks! Ginger <Well, Ginger- I understand exactly what you're talking about, and can appreciate your concern. I like your idea about possibly sectioning off some of the sandbed to accommodate the Jawfishes' habits. However, even if you did this (By creating a separate area surrounded by rocks or something), there is no guarantee that the fishes will choose to utilize that area as their "tunnel territory". I think that you will have to accept some loss of efficiency in parts of the sandbed. On the whole, you will probably not lose too much efficiency in a decent sized tank with one or two Jawfish. If you have a large population of Jawfish, the situation might be a bit different-the overall function of the sandbed might be somewhat impeded. However, in the long run, I'll bet that there is little chance that they would disturb the entire sand bed to the point where you'd have problems...As far as the substrate size, I'd try to stay with the sugar sized stuff, with a few "pebbles" of crushed coral intermingled in the sandbed. On the whole- I think that it will work just fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Mixing Jawfish? 3/24/03 I would be grateful for an opinion on Jawfish compatibility: <easy one... they are scary territorial> Can more than one Blue-Spotted Jawfish get along in and 80G tank? <probably... seek females (smaller head/jaw, buccal cavity)> How about one Blue-Spotted and one Yellow-Headed? <not recommended... but a very tight cover on the tank for all is... they are serious jumpers> More than one Yellow-Headed? <perhaps yes... 2... not more than 3 conspecifics. All need very deep substrates too. Some say 12" ideally. Most all say 6" minimum> What about Dusky Jawfish--can they be kept more than one to a tank? <indeed, not. Quite aggressive to each other.> Thanks! <best of luck... do try to purchase a pair/trio from the same tank/dealer for better chance of compatibility. Anthony>

Plenum, Yes! Jawfish-No! Bob, <Scott F. on call today> I have a 75 gallon reef tank with a plenum. It has been working very well. I would like to add a blue spotted jaw fish to the tank, but I'm concerned that even with the protective screen below the first layer of sand the jaw fish will disturb the plenum system to the point of severe problems with my system. What do you think? <Your concern is definitely valid. Even with the plenum screen in place, It is too disruptive to have this fish in a plenum-equipped tank, IMO. I'd rather keep these guys in a separate aquarium assembled just for their special needs. The fish will do better, display more readily, and both you and the fish will be happier in the long run. Good luck! 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>

Jaw Fish Export <Thank you for your note... but I think the Jawfishes (Opistognathids) we deal with are different than your fishery... and at any length we're in the ornamental aquatics (aquarium), live-use interests. Bob Fenner> President/CEO's name- M Kamran Hamid Corporate Address- 23/A Free School Street, Ground Floor (Office Complex), RODHAM SQUARE, Kathalbagan, Panthapath, Dhaka- 1205 Distributor and Exporter- Jawfish Dear Sir, I got your address while browsing at the Internet. I am a citizen of Bangladesh having my Distribution & Export business in the longest beach of the World i.e. Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Bangladesh. Jawfish is very common sea fish which is readily available in any number at our stock. We will dry it and export under consignments at any time and to any given place. Please respond to my email with your detailed requirements as soon as you receive this mail. You can visit us also at Cox's Bazar to verify and place necessary order for shipment. Sincerely, M Kamran Hamid CEO and Managing Director Aikatan Marine Fisheries Company Cox's Bazar Chittagong (Bangladesh) Cox's Bazar Address, Babu Stalion Computers Sea Queen Market Cox's Bazar Chittagong

Blue spotted Jawfish question Hello I purchased a blue spotted Jawfish the other day. I have a 75 gallon tank that has about 3-6 inches of sand, depending where in the tank, that is made up of many different sizes. I have also added some larger building rubble. I also have a small yellow tang and 2 Perc. clowns. my concern is that since the fish has been in the tank it has been hiding behind one of my base rocks in the back of the tank where there is almost no substrate. I know this fish likes a 360 degree view, so is he just waiting until he is very comfortable to build.  <Likely so... that and very frightened no doubt from capture, being moved about.> other than that it seems to be fine, no problems feeding. just kinda wondering if I'm ever going to see this fish I spent so much money on. any help would be great. thanks, Jesse Lancaster <Maybe, maybe not. Take care to prevent it jumping out (very common). Bob Fenner>

Indo Pix of the day, week, life (Identifications... this time Opistognathid U1) Lovely new pics. Are you sure your "Opistognathus sp." isn't indeed; "Opistognathus macrognathos" the banded Jawfish? http://filaman.uni-kiel.de/Photos/PicturesSummary.cfm?StartRow=1&ID=3686&what=species <... absolutely sure... the one pictured is also found on Fishbase as the species you mention: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=3686&genusname= Opistognathus&speciesname=macrognathos  along with a pic by myself...  But the species (O. macrognathos) is found in the tropical West Atlantic... the pix I sent as unknown species I shot (for sure) a couple weeks back in N. Sulawesi. I have a bunch of "unknown" pix... and appreciate any help ad identifying them... Bob Fenner>

Breeding Pearly Jawfish Hi Bob, <cheers, friend from afar. Anthony Calfo in your service whilst Bob travels> I have a 200l tank with a pair of Pearly Jawfish in it. I have set this tank up solely for the purpose of breeding the Jawfish.  <it is very exciting to hear an aquarist with a proper system for fish breeding> I live in South Africa so we do not get the Jawfish here very often as flights are long and the losses are great.  <understood... a fascinating fish indeed> I have had the pair now for close on to a year and they have now started breeding. The female will really swell with eggs (Clearly visible behind the stomach). The female enters the males borough about 1Hr after lights on and spends about 15 to 20min with the male. When appearing again the male will be carrying eggs in his mouth. The eggs are white in color and are about 1mm in diameter. The problem is that the male eats the eggs after 1 to 3 days. <this is not at all uncommon with many young pairs... even the best suited mates often fail with the first several to a dozen spawns> I feed them once a day with a well varied diet which includes live food. I keep feeding them while he is carrying the eggs which he leaves in his borough to come and eat. Could the eggs be infertile?  <quite possibly as they are a bit clumsy with each other at first> Should I try to recover the eggs from his hole when he is eating and then try and agitate them with a small pump?  I would wait to see after several more attempts before trying to rear artificially> Could this work as I have read that some people hatch their Dottyback eggs in this manner?  <yes my friend, but it is a lot of work and very tedious. Lets see if the natural parents don't evolve> Any help would be appreciated. Tokkie. <keep up the good work! With kind regards, Anthony>

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

Blue Spot Jawfish Blues Hi Bob,  <Anthony Calfo in the house... rapping to a funky beat... while mix-master Bob gets new gold caps on his front teeth (one tooth with a fish stamp cut out of the gold to let the enamel shine through> I was hoping that you could give me some advice before I invest in a rather expensive fish. My tank is 30 gallons and includes one of each: Halichoeres chrysus - golden wrasse Paracanthurus hepatus - blue tang True Percula Clownfish (All of these fish are very small - 2 inches or smaller) Pistol Shrimp - Synalpheus species Cleaner Shrimp - Lysmata amboinensis I am seriously considering buying a Bluespot Jawfish and want to know what I need to change (if anything) in my tank in order to accommodate this fish's needs.  <I seriously recommend that you don't by this fish for such unnatural company. Such Jawfish are best in species tanks with very deep (6-12") sand of an appropriate grain> I want to make sure that this Jawfish is comfortable and healthy. <species tank only my friend> My plan is to add 1 or 2 watchman gobies eventually. Are they OK with the Jawfish?  <Yowsa!!! a surefire way to stress the Jawfish if not elicit an all out war among like competitive benthic creatures! Way bad, dude> Any chance that the Bluespot Jawfish would pair up with my pistol shrimp the way that they do with shrimp and watchman gobies? <what are you smoking? Heehee... seriously... ahhh, no. Commensals almost ALWAYS have to be collected together. At least the species has to be natural, and more often they literally have to be collected together. Not going to work unless you find a pistol from the Sea of Cortez... good luck> Once again, thank you for all your great words of advice. <and thank you for putting up with my humor as well. Anthony>

Blue spotted Jawfish Hey guys. Just got a blue spotted Jawfish. I usually quarantine all my fish for a minimum of 3 weeks.  <excellent... 4 weeks/better> Anyhow, the quarantine tank is a bare bottom tank. Is the Jawfish ok, for a few weeks in a bare bottom tank (some PVC) ?  <PVC tubes of varying diameters are likely fine. But if the fish back into a corner of the aquarium... offer a butter dish of new dry sand to reduce the stress> I know they like to burrow, but just curious if this is an innate need, or something they like to do.  <eh... really a big deal for their behavioral needs/stress> I don't have substrate in the tank since I occasionally need to medicate in there.  <agreed...all QT must be bare-bottomed> Should I set up something small and put substrate in there, or is he ok. Thanks for all the help. Jim <good thinking overall... kudos to you. Anthony>

Treatment stress versus illness First, as with so many before me, I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks for all the conscientious advice you've (all) given on the subtle art of salt critter care. _The Conscientious Marine Aquarist_ has been my unfailing guide for the several years I've been in the hobby, and I've found no other printed source that compares favorably to it. Likewise, this site is extremely helpful. However, having read the FAQs and many letters and responses on parasitic diseases and troubleshooting, I remain in a quandary and hope you can help. <We'll try> The set up: I am transitioning from a 3 year old 30 gallon small peaceful fish and live rock tank to a 60 gallon fish and hardy invert/tolerant corals tank with a plenum, deep (over 4") aragonite/live sand bed with a separator at 1 1/2 " depth to protect the plenum from diggers, more intense lighting (240 watts of pc lighting, 50% white and 50% actinic), approximately 100 lbs of live rock, brisk (20x/hour) circulation divided between several pumps, and air-driven skimming (which seems to kick the tar out of our finicky Venturi skimmer in terms of skimmate production).  <The usefulness of various skimmers labeled as "Venturi" type is huge in variance> The new tank has been cycled for a few months and is maintaining good, stable conditions (zero ammonia and nitrite, falling nitrate as the plenum comes into effect -- it seems to have a longer maturation time -- pH 8.2, salinity 1.0235 at 78 F, dKH 8.  <Yes... a general "rule", the larger the system, the longer to establish> The tank went through a diatom bloom and a little red slime production, both of which were eaten by the cleanup critters (a variety of snails and small hermits) or passed away naturally as conditions matured. Once everything looked good, we started moving stock. Sadly, we had little old stock to move as the switch was catalyzed by the fact that the lighting on our 3 year old Eclipse hood had been shocking our old system, quietly killing our fish. We put a stop to that when we noticed frayed fins, heavy breathing, and some slight lateral line erosion on our pair of true Percula clowns and psychedelic mandarin goby, all of which have been with us for the whole three years (yes, we bought the dragonet before we bought the book that told us not to, but with 60 lbs of live rock in a 30 gallon system and lots of live brine enriched with Selcon and VitaChem he was thriving until the electrocution began. The dragonet was the first to move, as the critter-rich waters of the newer system seemed to offer his best chance of recovery. He has been feasting there for several weeks and is very active and slowly fattening again, but has a bald (colorless) patch on top of his head which neither recovers nor worsens.  <This will hopefully improve with time> It is not as "dimensional" as the hole in the head pictures I've seen, but I assume it's a combination of nutritional issues and electrocution. Nonetheless, he's doing well and really pigging out on enriched brine and all the life in the new tank. Next we added a store bought royal Gramma. We dipped him but our treatment tank was already occupied by the Percula clowns, as their electrocution damage evolved into a very deep-seated and stubborn fungal infection of the mouths, which we are still treating. The Gramma was bright and beautiful for almost a week, then developed a heavy whitish slime and -- since we were totally unable to catch him -- died in two days. We waited in terror to see if the dragonet would show signs of infection, but none developed. So we bought two Banggai cardinals, dipped and quarantined them with the clowns for a week and a half and then added them to the tank. All was well, and still is with the dragonet and cardinals. Here comes the dilemma. After a month of looking, my reef retailer was able to acquire a blue-spotted Jawfish -- my long-time dream fish -- for me. He suggested that the fish would undergo less stress if dipped and placed immediately in the system he was destined for. Since the hospital tank does not have a sand bed for him, I agreed and so after a long dip and acclimation I placed him in the tank. After a scary while of sitting in stun on the floor, he set up a deep little burrow for himself and moved in. On the second day he started eating hungrily (flakes, strangely enough, ignoring all live food offerings). But he is extremely noctophobic, leaping out of his burrow and cowering when the lights go out, so we've had to give him a "night light" to keep him from freaking out. <Good idea> Anyway, morning of day three (today) he is sick, with clumps of very dimensional (over a millimeter high and wide and somewhat uneven) white clumps and a few "strings" of white body slime as well, which I presume is a reaction to whatever's eating him. He's still eating, and given how stressed he is I'm afraid to stress him more by moving him to a treatment tank or dipping him. However if we're looking at Oodinium or Brooklynella it seems from reading your site that he has little chance of recovery, none without treatment, and has probably already infected the whole system. So, what do you think the disease is, and what would you do were you in this situation (given, yes, that you would never have put an unquarantined fish into your tank in the first place). Sorry for the length of the inquiry, but I feel that detailed information is crucial to looking at things in a whole-systems approach, as you advocate. Thank you in advance for your help! Ananda <At this point I would try adding a cleaner species or two, and otherwise "hope for the best". I agree with your assessment of the role of stress here and the likelihood of improvement with further movement. Bob Fenner>

Blue spotted Jawfish Hello there. I have been looking into getting a blue spotted jaw for my 55g reef, but I still have a few questions. First off, it looks like brittle stars are not good tank mates for them, as well as the serpent stars. I currently have a large brown brittle star, and was wondering if I should remove it before the introduction of the jaw. <yes...they are generally territorial towards other benthic animals> Also, it is about 10" across, <nice...almost eatin' size...hehe> so do you have any recommendations to animals that could substitute for it's "detritivore" capabilities and stirring the sand? <a smaller goatfish species would be interesting and quite effective. Sturdier starfish too like the sand burrowing star (Archaster typicus) AKA "White Linckia" from Indonesia> Also, once I get some various rock sizes, and the jaw makes his home, is he likely to keep digging all over the place and making new burrows, or will he mainly stay in the one he built? <many homes in time> I ask because I have some LPS on my sandbed, that I don't want to have buried. Thanks. <just be sure to keep species that can shed sand (no open brains but Fungiids for example are good. Best regards, Anthony>

Deep Sand Bed Clarification - Jaw Fish Questions Dear Mr. C, <<Greetings>> Just curious as to your opinion on the sand bed debates. Dr. Goeman's recommends four inches of 1-2mm over a plenum. Dr. Shimek calls for 6-8 inches of sugar-size on the bottom of the tank. Bob seems to go for 3-4mm and 3-4 inches with or without a plenum. The hoipoloi have various strongly held and voiced opinions. I am at a loss, and my head hurts. Besides Advil, any suggestions? <<two Advil? Personally - really this is what I have in my refugiums - I would just do a sand bed as deep as is practical, with the finer sugar sands and as much liver rock as is practical. Plenums do work, but require more time to set up and the debate is whether or not the interstitial critters can move through the layers the way they need to or not. Four inches of sand would be fine.>> Semi-related question: Approximately how much floor (sandbed, not living room) space does one allow per yellow headed Jawfish?
<<I am not recalling, I do believe it's more than you might think... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishe.htm - one per system is what Bob says.>>
like that No rush; at the rate I'm progressing my tank will be up in 2003.(And the whole philosophy will change again! Sigh.) Thanks, Pam S. <<then again, it may not and you'll be well prepared. Cheers, J -- >>

Blue spotted Jawfish. Hi, I just got a blue spotted Jawfish from Jeff's Exotic Fish and I was curious about what is best to feed them? Sometimes he will eat stuff I put in the tank but none of it seems to be sufficient. Any ideas? Thanks! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/jawfishe.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner> Rian

Yellow Headed Jawfish Feeding Problem Hello Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo, friend and fellow Pittsburgher in your service> I need your help with a slight problem I am having. I recently purchased a Yellow Headed Jawfish. To say the least it is a very interesting and entertaining species to watch.  <indeed! Quite comical> My problem may be a common one, but I am not sure. The Jawfish will not go far from it's burrow. When feeding all of the other fish eat 99% of the food before he has a chance at getting any.  <indeed a common problem... you were ill-advised to put this animal in an inappropriate tank of competitive fish> I read that they will not venture far from the burrow, so do you know of any way I can get frozen foods in front of him so he can eat, other than the typical food clip.  <your best bet really is a species specific tank or trading the fish back in. Short of hand-feeding, this poor fish will die prematurely. Even with hand-feeding... it is possible that it will simply be intimidated by the unnatural tankmates even without aggression from them, again, by their activity alone> I tried a turkey baster but it scared him into the hole and the food floated away and was consumed by the rest of the hungry crew. I have only had him a few days, and hopefully over time he will venture out further as he grows more comfortable in the tank.  <don't count on it... not a natural behavior and almost guaranteed not to happen with active tankmates> He will eat if food gets near him, so I am trying to assist him during his vittles time. Any suggestions or methods would be sincerely appreciated. <in a perfect world, without giving up the fish, you could set up a refugium in-line to house him. That will save you from buying a whole new filter system. Until then, make a one inch rigid lift tube slightly longer than the height of the tank (+6" say). Notch a half moon at the base and set that "open" end down by the Jawfish burrow. leave it there in the same place for days so that the Jawfish learns to ignore it. Food can be dropped down this tube and sucked/picked out of the bottom by the Jawfish> Thank You For Your Time, Jim Stawiarski Pittsburgh, Pa <Jim...have you heard of the Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society? A great club, meeting once monthly. Last month we had Eric Borneman speak, this month (this Saturday 23rd) we have reef lighting by Sanjay Joshi... Bob Fenner is coming up in a couple of months and is an annual speaker. Do check us out at www.pmas.org. Best of luck, Anthony Calfo>

Jaw Fish Breeding Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo, here in your service> As many others have said, the Conscientious Marine Aquarist, was the first in our marine library. It gave us a good start, and continues to answer our questions along with WetWebMedia. Thanks! <an important and must-have reference, indeed!> We have three yellow tail damsels (Chrysiptera parasema) and two yellow head jaw fish (Opistognathus aurifrons) in a 55 gallon tank with 6 inches of mixed substrate (aragonite sand, crushed coral, and Aruba shells) and about 30# of Fiji live rock. For external filtering we have a CPR backpack (OK) and an Eheim 2026 canister (worth every penny). Additionally there are some sponges, several Aiptasia, and various worms that came with the rock and for cleanup we have some janitors from GARF. (We also have a 75 gal reef tank with a bunch of corals from GARF and a few fish.) Today we noticed one of the jaw fish was holding its mouth slightly open and looking in we can see glistening beads. WOW! looks like we're pregnant! <Wow! you have a mouth full of eggs too?! How exciting and bizarre!...actually, Congratulations!. How wonderful.!> We are overflowing with questions about how to give the potential new arrivals the best chance to survive. Any sage advice? I can't find much of anything searching the web. We have your jaw fish bibliography, and will try to find Young's book on breeding. <yes, realistically...be prepared that this first batch is not likely to survive in the community tank with pumps, filters and predators... but do seriously consider a dedicated species-specific tank for breeding. Secondly, get set up with a live food culturing station promptly. Refer to Moe's marine handbook "Beginner to Breeder" or the Marine Aquarium Reference" for basic food culture advice. And do look up Florida Aqua Farms for algae, rotifer and shrimp culturing supplies and handbooks (they even have a plankton culturing manual)> Following are a few observations that I have not seen on the web: When the brooder needs to eat or do burrow maintenance he puts the eggs somewhere down in the burrow, does the work, then picks up the eggs when done. Since this whole operation can happen quite fast (a few seconds) the egg mass must be sort of sticky. From time to time in the past (while in quarantine and when first introduced) we would see the two sharing a burrow but lately they seem to stay separate. The burrows are about 8 inches apart along the edge of a pile of rock. At this point there is no evidence that these tunnels are connected. In quarantine, the substrate was not very deep so they had connected tunnels with several openings under a large piece of live rock. When first introduced to the 55 gallon tank we expected they would take a while to acclimate but they seemed to be right at home, maybe because we also brought in the large chunk of live rock. It did take a few weeks of excavating and trying different locations before they settled in to their current locations. They sure can move a lot of material around. <yes...and very entertaining! have you noticed them stealing shells from each other at night to cover their burrows...a hoot!> When the lights go out (sometimes a short time before lights out) both jaw fish completely cover their burrows. This cover is so complete there is no evidence that there was ever a hole there. After the lights come on they remove the covers. <ahah! I should have read further...hehehe> Have been looking for a way to tell the male from the female and don't see anything except the brooding. <difficult...but notice the enlarged folds of the buccal cavity (chin) and broader skull> Lee & Mary Powell <please write a follow-up... looking forward to future spawns! Anthony Calfo>

Question about a possible pair of Pearly Jawfish Hi Bob, <Actually, you have reached Steven Pro. Anthony Calfo and I are helping Bob answer some of the daily questions.> You don't know me but I'm one of your biggest fans. Your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, was the first in my marine library and allowed me to get off to a good start in this hobby. I've ready your page on Jawfish at www.wetwebmedia.com as well - thanks for that information! I have a bit of a puzzle and I figure you're the man to help me decide what is the best thing to do for the animals involved. I have a 5 month old 120g reef tank set up that is doing quite well with many stony corals and the following fish (placed in the tank in this order): 1 royal Gramma about 3" 2 Ocellaris clownfish about 2" 1 yellow tang about 3.5" 1 Sixline wrasse about 1" (coming soon hopefully - 1 flame angel) I have many pictures of my tank on a web site here if you would like to see the tank: www.sjwilson.net/reef My local fish store (a very good one) has what appear to be a pair of pearly Jawfish. These fish are about 3.5" and have been in the store a little over a month. They are assumed to be a pair because they have been sharing the same burrow since they have been there. <Probably a good assumption> They are in a 20g long tank by themselves. I would love to put them in my reef tank (4" sand bed) but I fear my Gramma would not tolerate them. She is the undisputed boss of the tank right now. <I would not be too worried about the Gramma as the Jawfish want to stake out a territory in the sand and the Gramma should have claimed an area around a nice hole in the rock.> At least until the tang grows up :-) <You are right about the yellow tang.> Anyway, I also fear that the Sixline wrasse could cause problems. He's very small and easy going now but I've heard they can troublesome. <Not to worry, fairly dissimilar fish.> I do have a 20g tall tank that I've been using as a quarantine tank and I've been considering setting it up for the Jawfish pair. I would put in a lot of sand, possibly up to 6" and keep them as the only fish in this tank hoping they might breed. <No matter where they end up, please do quarantine them.> I'd love to hear your opinion on my plan for the 20g tank as well as if you think it is possible that these Jawfish are indeed a pair. <If you indeed wish to attempt to breed them, the 20 is your best bet.> Susan Wilson

Help – Yellowhead Jawfish is sick Mr. Fenner, I’ve had this Yellowheaded Jawfish for a little over 5 weeks in my 20g tank by itself. (5” crushed coral substrate, LR, power filter). It has been very shy since the beginning, always staying under a cave in its borrow. <Very typical> I have been feeding live black worms and a variety of meaty food, including shrimp, squid, clam and scallop. I noticed that it has something brown growing on its lower lips. It stopped eating since 2 days ago, although it came out more. This morning I saw it swimming outside of its borrow for the first time – is that a good or bad sign?  <Likely yes> I’m not sure if this brown color thing is “mouth fungus” or “cotton mouth”, or something else. I’m treating the tank with Melafix, I suppose that couldn't do any harm. What kind of disease is it? <Maybe nothing more than normal coloring. Look at pix of this species on the Net. Particularly fishbase.org> What should/could I do? <I would "do" nothing here. A larger tank (at least something four feet long), live rock, others of its kind... all would be better... Bob Fenner> Thanks. Jason

Circulation and Jawfish Dear Mr. Fenner: Have been doing research for 125 gallon reef project in planning stages.  <Ah, good> Questions on circulation: In a tank setup like a peninsula with only one short side facing a wall and two long and other short free for viewing, what configuration, number, and type of powerheads anchored along the back short wall would be advisable?  <Maybe two, three... one at the top "back" corner, the other one or two at the bottom opposite or both corners... Intent is complete circulation, top, bottom and between.> Strength and positioning of outflow needed also helpful. <Look to the larger Hagen or Aquarium Systems units here. About best quality, highest flows available. Please read through the "Marine Circulation" FAQs posted on our site as well: http://wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaqs.htm> Worried about dead spots in this type of setup. Also, do you prefer wavemakers, oscillators, pulsers, or other type of water movers? <Mmm, a general "it depends" here... by and large in fish only set-ups, simple uni-directional units are fine, better> Am overwhelmed with choices; everyone has horror story about some brand of powerhead, pump, or other device. <The two brands, manufacturers mentioned are excellent... Do ask other actual users if you're concerned... perhaps through the bulletin boards, chatrooms. Ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Very nice, knowledgeable, practiced folks there> Unrelated question: Have been in love with Jawfish since twelve years old and viewing at a public aquarium in Pittsburgh (I think--twelve a long time ago). WetWeb has only sad tales to tell of them in a home aquarium.  <Really? Will have to write some positive ones myself. Kept, and seen many gorgeous displays of Opistognathids over the years> Am I destined to failure along those routes? Any secrets to share (besides no brittle stars)? <Mixed substrates, complete covers, not too many over-competitive tankmates... Really, a generally aquarium-hardy family of fishes. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your time, Pam Shriver

Re: Tank Suggestions Dear Bob, Thanks for responding in such an astonishing manner. <Wonder what about such responses warrants them "astonishing"?> I have a couple questions that I hope you can find time to answer. I went ahead and bought the 440g tank, and just the tank from a friend of mine. I want to turn it into a reef but for now it is just empty in my shed!  <Must be a big shed!> My questions have to do with the 55g reef setup I wrote about earlier! While I wait for my skimmer to get here can I go ahead and start mixing the water in another bare bottom 55g and add a few damsels to start the cycling process? <Hmm, good idea... no need for the damsels... I'd use a bit of live rock> Also I have already had success with all of the angels mentioned in my first e-mail, I was just wondering if the Potter's was more likely to pick on corals than the Fishers? <Both out of Hawai'i range... but the Fisher's much smaller... both about the same likely to pick...> Also I did the math, how is 9.8 watts per gal for this tank,  <This is a bunch... you will need to "match" the availability of carbon dioxide, biomineral, alkalinity... to the boosted illumination...> I plan on keeping all types of coral later on so I figured why not upgrade the combo I just bought, it now houses 2 -175w 10,000k German bulbs and 2-VHO Actinic "03" 95w tubes, they are housed in a fan cooled oak canopy! Would I be able to keep Flowerpots and clams down the road what about Blue Ridge and Birds Nest? <Perhaps> As for lighting the hang-on refugium, what would you recommend? It's only 24"L * 4"W * 12"H!  <A small compact fluorescent fixture would be ideal> Would one of the sand swallowing cucumbers be alright even with the Jawfish having their burrows in the sand?  <S/b fine> Would 3 Jawfish work in the 55 with the rest of the fish?  <Not much space for three on the bottom... would limit this to two individuals...> I ordered a Berlin H.O skimmer how's that one?  <Okay> One last question and I'm off of your screen for a while, Doe you know of any sources on the internet besides The Marine Center, that would maybe have the prices on either a Clarion or a Clipperton angel, and any sites with picture of the most beautiful angelfish? <The Clipperton I've only seen in the UK (at Tropic Marine Centre (at a wholesaler's... the Clarion is now available through Robinson's efforts at LA wholesalers, but only know Marine Center in TX to sell to the end-user... Images: http://wetwebmedia.com/clariona.htm of the Clarion we have, not Connie's Holacanthus... do you have Allen and Allen and Steene's latest Angel and B/F book? You should... ref. to it on the WWM site.> Thanks a bunch! I'll send you some pics of the reef once it's up and running! <Bob Fenner>

Jawfish Hopes, Losses, Resolution Hi, I have your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, which has provided wonderful information and great educational as well as entertaining reading while waiting for my 55 gallon marine tank to complete its cycle.  <A delightful description of all that I could/hope that my writing efforts might accomplish> There is a bulletin board online that I also frequent for information and advice and many of the moderators on the board routinely recommend your book to newcomers.  <Ah, no higher praise, please> I have kept freshwater tanks for about 10 years, but this is my first marine tank. Have always wanted to try them. Now for my problem.  My thirteen year old son is my partner in this endeavor and as we have both been doing a lot of reading and studying before and during the set up of our tank, he fell in love with the Jawfish, or what he has read about them.  So in anticipation of eventually owning a Jawfish or two for our tank, we set up with a deep sand bed (it's about 5 inches I'd say) with regular aragonite on the bottom and 30 lbs of live sand on the top. I also have  around 40 lbs of live rock. Anyway, to make a long story short, the tank finished cycling, I ordered a clean up crew online, which arrived fine.  This crew was recommended for tanks with live rock and live sand and consisted of a black brittle star, a black banded serpent star, 2 inpatiens cucumbers, 1 abalone, 2 Mithrax crabs, 10 burrowing Cerith snails, and 1 red Fromia star fish. As a surprise for my son, I also ordered 2 pearly Yellowhead Jawfish. Well, one of those was DOA (nearly) and the other seemed perfectly fine and happy. We even had the pleasure of watching him build his little home on the night of his arrival. His little face was so adorable! Then alas, I woke this morning hoping to see him out and about while the lights were off, and things were quiet, but he was being eaten by the banded serpent star! Now I was pretty mad about this. But what I need to know is first, did I jump the gun and get Jawfish too soon in my tank,  and second, was the Jawfish most likely dead BEFORE the starfish decided to make him a meal, or do these critters hunt and kill other fish?  <First, sorry to hear of your losses... this is a very traumatic experience... given your study and preparation... Yes, it would have been better to wait on the fish... and yes, I would have excluded Brittle Stars (and the Abalone) from clean-up crew choices here (the former are indeed opportunistic fish eaters/predators, and the latter rarely lives in tropical systems...). But the real issue/cause of trouble here are likely the fish (Opistognathus aurifrons)... the ones out of the places of collection in the north of the tropical West Atlantic have been notably poor in quality the last few years... Those from further south (to mention Brazil) and tank-raised/reared specimens are far hardier... Please do wait a couple of weeks, perhaps remove the Brittle Star (well may call for extracting the LR, digging through the sand/aragonite...) and try again with better specimens... Oh, and please add to your reading/studying (even enjoyment) sources in the pet-fish realm, the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> May seem a stupid question, but I want to know before I spend any more time and money.  <No such thing as a stupid question asked in earnest> I don't have a reef set-up, and don't intend to have any anemones, corals, or such, just fish, live rock, and inverts such as would be included in a cleanup crew. But is this the wrong crew for my tank? Sorry for such a long email, I know you are a busy man.  <Every one has the same amount of time...> But I also know you are a very experienced and wise man, and would love to hear your input. Thanks so  much in advance. Melody Lewis, McDonough, Georgia <Thank you for writing. You are welcome to forward my comments to the supplier of your livestock and request credit/replacement for your Jawfish, the Brittle Star and Abalone. Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Jawfish replacement? Hello, again! I wrote not too long ago with a question about moving our anemone (it didn't move, instead we've adapted!). I've included part of my prior message below, listing our tank's inhabitants. <Ah, good> I also mentioned that we were on Jawfish #3 and #4 in 1 week. One never reappeared after making a burrow under some of the rock. Well, the second guy looked great and ate brine shrimp very well. He was active burrowing, but just as we thought he'd made a great home, he'd move on to another place. He seemed fine for almost 2 weeks. Then 2 days ago, he disappeared completely for 15 hours. It looked like he had suffered a cave-in (he was starting to burrow horizontally from his vertical burrow in about a 7" deep mostly aragonite - is that the one between fine sand and Puka rubble?  <Comes in many grades, products> we have all 3 - substrate). I went on a search and rescue mission, as one of the other Jawfish previously seemed to have buried itself to death...I blew a turkey baster in the area to clear a channel and sort of reached down and pulled up with my fingers and later that day he reappeared looking distressed. He then ate OK yesterday and now has disappeared again. This time, I think it's terminal (I haven't tried any searches, but he typically was always visible). I really loved watching this fish (so did my 6-year-old daughter), but I'm scared to try again with another - I don't want any more deaths on my conscience! These have been our first fish losses...Should we try again with Jawfish that have been held by the dealer longer? (These came from FFE) and, perhaps, are hardier, if that's the problem. Or is our substrate insufficient? It's plenty deep and mixed... <There's more afoot here... the Opistognathus aurifrons aren't doing well (to put it mildly) this last year or two... would wait till the water (in the Caribbean) got a little cooler (November on) before trying them again> If we should give up on the Jawfish (sigh), can you recommend other fish that would be good additions to our current tank? Anything else that has a personality or is active like the Jawfish? <Take a look through the materials stored on the site: Home Page , in particular the Fishwatcher's guide section to the tropical west Atlantic... for some ideas of what's available, desirable> Thanks again for your help. We're so appreciative of having you as a resource! Brooke Cannon >> <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Opistognathus whitehurstii Hi Bob, First of all, thanks for writing such a fabulous book. I got my copy last week and I've truly found it to be a phenomenal source of information. My question regards the Dusky Jawfish. My LFS has a large one (6 inches +).  How safe are these guys? Their mouths seem huge. Baensch talks of this genus being safe with most inverts. Are cleaner shrimp at risk? How about small fish? They seem very shy and timid. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jason >> Wow, a six incher at a retailers? That's a big one! Opistognathus whitehursti, though not as colorful as their "pearly" congeners in the Atlantic (O. aurifrons) are one of my fave "character" additions to reef and peaceful fish only systems... and yes, they will eat/inhale most anything that will fit into their cavernous mouths... but only the smallest cleaner shrimps will be in trouble. I wouldn't worry about keeping them together. Bob Fenner

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