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FAQs about Jawfishes, Family Opistognathidae Behavior

Related Articles: Jawfishes

Related FAQs:  Jawfishes 1, Jawfishes 2, Blue-Spotted Jawfish, Pearly Jawfish, & Jawfish Identification, Jawfish Compatibility, Jawfish Selection, Jawfish Systems, Jawfish Feeding, Jawfish Disease, Jawfish Reproduction,

Jawfish never stays in burrow... Jawfish Behavior\Systems 9/7/2010
Dear WWM,
<Hi Laura>
Hope all is well at WWM.
<All is great, thanks.>
I set up a JBJ 28g LED Nano Aquarium around a Blue Spot Jawfish.
<A Beautiful fish, one of my favorites.>
I have 42 pounds of live rock in this tank, a 4" sandbed, lots of shells and rubble for burrowing, and the tank has a covered top.
<Covered top is important, they are jumpers.>
I thought this would make any BSJ quite happy, as the his only tankmates are a yellow clown goby and a juvenile tailspot blenny.
<A nice stocking list for this tank.>
The Jawfish was added first. Tank parameters are: Temp: 77 degrees constant, Nitrates: 0, Phosphates: 0, Ammonia: 0,
Calcium: 460, KH: 9. I got the BSJ 10 days ago.
<All looks good there.>
Although this fish has made small shallow burrows all over the tank under the rockwork, he has not utilized any of the rubble or shells I have provided for him.
<Hmm... what kind of sand? They really prefer a mix of fine sand, with some coarser substrate like a crushed coral>
Even more interesting is that he spends his day and night swimming all over the tank, and I mean, all over.
<That is uncommon>
He goes in and out of holes, swims freely, peeks out of caves, and doesn't bother either the goby or blenny whatsoever. Rarely do I see him in any of his "burrows." He lays openly out on the sand, and eats voraciously from a pipette I use to feed him Spectrum Pellets, and various other meaty foods. His colors are brilliant, he shows no signs of being stressed - not a mark on him, no torn fins, nothing.
<All sounds fine there.>
Is this fish so "comfortable" he does not feel the need to spend his time building his burrow, rearranging it, and living in it, as Jawfish "supposedly" do, or is something wrong with him or the conditions I have provided for him?
<Normally this is because they don't like the substrate - either it keeps collapsing on itself, or it is too rough for its liking. Have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/jawfishbehfaqs1.htm >
Thanks in advance,
Re: Jawfish never stays in burrow... Jawfish behavior\system 9/7/2010
Hi Mike,
<Hi Laura.>
Thank you so much for your reply.
<My pleasure.>
I have fine sand in the tank. I did put some shells and some rubble pieces in, but there is no crushed coral mixed into the sand at all. I just bought a bag after reading your response. If you could provide me with some kind of ratio on fine sand vs. crushed coral, I would greatly appreciate it.
<Well, make sure you rinse it well before putting it in the tank, you want a mix of 75% fine sand and about 25% crushed coral. Just mix it in with the sand.>
Thanks Mike, and I hope I see some burrowing activity from this guy tonight!!!
<Give it a few days, he should settle in.>
Re: Jawfish never stays in burrow... He is digging now! 9/11/2010

Hi Mike,
<Hi Laura.>
I just wanted to follow up with you on my Blue Spot Jawfish. He is indeed burrowing...big-time!
<Excellent news!>
Has made a snowdrift under a mushroom rock that is 6" high and working quite hard on the project. I haven't seen much of him today. He did do freestyle swimming around the tank when I "woke" him up this morning to feed him. He apparently slept in in his new digs until he smelled the food hit the water.
<That is normal for them. Once he gets his home built, you will see him peeping out more and more.>
I so appreciate your advice and thought you might like to know how much it helped me.
<Glad it helped! Enjoy your Jawfish, they are, by far, some of the most entertaining fish you will keep.>

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

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

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

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

Blue Spotted Jawfish...Behavior Questions   5/18/07 WWM, <Shawn.> Just purchased a Blue Spotted Jawfish from my LFS about 2 weeks ago. <Neat.> I placed him  in my main tank the other day. He started to make his burrow that evening after he was placed in the tank for several  hours. My question is this morning he started a new burrow about a foot or so from the original one. <Not uncommon for them to have multiple, especially if they are the only animal in the tank that inhabits that niche.> I have read that these little guys  will make burrows until there happy with one. <True.> So finally my big question will he or she go back into any of these other burrows that where built? <Perhaps, perhaps not...depends in the individual really. It is not uncommon for them to have an "area" or territory and have multiple burrows within that territory that they inhabit.> Also will he or she take any of the rubble that was used in constructing the other burrows? <Might, might not, is really a question of individual behavior.> Thanks for your help. <Anytime.>   Shawn <AJ.>

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

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

Blue Spotted Jawfish ... beh., hermit health, supplement use...   5/9/06 Hi, I have a 75 gallon reef tank. Everything in my tank has been doing fine. I have a 4-inch Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), 3-inch Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus), <Not easily kept> 3-inch 5 Bar Mystery Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus ocellatus), 1 1/2-inch Sixline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia), 4-inch Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus), 3-inch Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus), <Ditto> and just purchased a 3-4 inch Blue Spotted Jawfish (Opistognathus rosenblatti ). I have a hammer coral, a torch coral, a Lobophyllia brain coral, a Kenya tree coral, and a couple button polyps. The lighting is four 65 watt compact fluorescents and one 40 watt regular fluorescent bulb. The sand/coral rubble is about 4 to 10 inches deep (ten behind the rocks and about 4 to six inches in the open). There is a 55 gallon sump, about 60 lbs. of live rock, two Magnum 350s (one on the sump and one on the display) display one only runs carbon), a Whisper 60 on the display for circulation with nothing in it and the main pump is a Via Aqua pump (600 gph), and there is a sea clone protein skimmer on the sump too. I have 4 questions. 1) I had a Electric Blue Hermit Crab (Calcinus elegans) in the tank. It always was in its shell and seemed tipped over. Plus whenever I put it on the rocks it would fall off and didn't move much. Why is this? <The item you mention below, the addition of supplements directly to the system is very likely the root cause here> 2) That same hermit crab was dead after the addition of the Blue Spotted Jawfish. I saw what was left of its legs along with the shell on the bottom. Could the Jawfish have eaten it. <No, not likely> 3) In the back of the tank where the crushed coral and some sand reaches about ten inches deep the Jawfish decided to make its burrow there. I couldn't find it for two days and after one day I went out and bought a lid for the tank knowing they are jumpers. Its burrow is very deep. There is about 4 inches right on the back glass and maybe another 4 below because the fish is about 3-4 inches. I know this seems like a favorable spot seeing as he/she can have such a nice burrow but is there anyway that it will maybe come to the front of the rocks or tank so that I won't have to go behind the tank to view it? <Not likely, though it may become more outgoing with time> 4) My hammer coral keeps its polyps retracted almost all the time. They aren't completely retracted but they aren't out like they are suppose to be. My torch coral is doing great along with the others and both are on the same level in the tank and the torch might be getting slightly less light than the hammer coral. I threw that in because both are Euphyllia corals. Calcium is added daily and strontium molybdenum is added every Sunday. Can you tell me why this may be? <... not a good practice to add such supplements directly to tanks. Add them through your regular water changes, through pre-mixed water... Covered on WWM. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tim Morrissey P.S. Do you have any really cool ideas as far as fish for my tank? Also considering the bioload I have now, about how many more fish could my system handle? <Your system is already "full-up" fish-wise with what you list. Bob Fenner>

Opistognathus rosenblatti- acclimation  - 04/27/06 I have a 300G. reef tank. (96in.X30in.X24in.). I have a rather open aquascape: 1/3rd of the tank is a rounded slope; narrow at the top to almost the top of the tank, widening in a rounded fashion as it meets the substrate. In the middle, a islandic bommie to maybe 1/2 the height of the tank. The right third is a series of caves to about 2/3rd the height of the tank. The substrate is sugar fine sand and moderately coarse aragonite 5 to 7 inches deep. There are many, many nooks, crannies and hiding places. I have had a Opistognathus rosenblatti in the tank for better than 8 months. Unfortunately he died when he jumped out of the tank (stress related to the capture of another fish?). <They just do this> He had no trouble burrowing, and hiding when necessary. At any rate, I have purchased another Opistognathus rosenblatti, and have read that when acclimating a Jawfish one should leave the lights on at least overnight, or some sort of night light (re: Scott Michaels). <A good idea, practice> I put him in the tank this past Sunday A.M. and made sure ALL possible exits from the tank were covered. He swam around and retreated to the back of one of the caves, he never displayed any gasping. Only my Harlequin Tusk showed any interest in the Jawfish,   <Can eat it> and whenever the Tusk came near the Jawfish, the Bluespot flared at the Tusk, but never ran. Only once did the Jawfish display any jumping behaviour. On this past Monday morning, the Opistognathus rosenblatti was on the opposite side of the tank, near the bottom. Although I could not see that he had actively burrowed, he was using one of the crannies in the rockwork and had piled up some rubble in front of this area.   Interestingly this is right next to another small cave-like area (the previous Jawfish had excavated this) that the tusk uses to hide and sleep in. The Jawfish has eaten enthusiastically each day. Monday afternoon I noticed that the Bluespot was up in the upper left corner of the top of tank, and mainly seems to have remained there. He does NOT seem stressed, <Should be on/in the bottom...> he eats, he is not gasping. As I have mentioned the rock work reaches almost to the top of the tank on this side, and the Jawfish bounces in and out of the rock work in the same manner as Jawfish bounce in and out of a burrow. Okay, so the Opistognathus rosenblatti has been in the tank 3 days, but should I be worrying about his hanging at the top of tank, rather than actively burrowing? <I would, yes> I noticed that even with the previous Jawfish I had, he would occasionally swim about the top of the tank,   not just hang around his burrows (Opistognathus aurifrons seem to stay near their burrows much more than Opistognathus rosenblatti). There are really too many hiding places in the tank to get a fish out without completely dismantling the rock work. The Tusk doesn't even seem interested in the Jawfish any longer. <...> I guess what I'm wondering is should I be worrying, and is there anything I can do it about it anyway? <?> Any thoughts from anyone? <Always keep your beer in a cool place> I hope I've not been too long-winded. Thanks so much, Dave Harvey p.s. any thoughts, hints, tips regarding Jawfish care would be greatly appreciated. DH <Mine are posted on WWM. Bob Fenner... friend of Alex Kerstitch (RIP), the discoverer of this species, and acquaintance of Dick Rosenblatt... Bob Fenner>

Jawfish M.I.A.?   2/10/06 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you tonight!> Just a quick question for you. I received a blue spotted Jawfish from the Marine Center yesterday. <An excellent source!> A friend of mine acclimated it (he is a professional tank service person anyway) while I was at work. <Hope he quarantined it first?> He said it was unbelievably nice. The only problem is I cant find it anywhere. I figure that its just hiding. Is this normal, if so how long until I should be worried? Tank is a 150 gallon reef, sand bed ranges from an inch to six inches, mostly on the deeper side of the range. I would say the fish load is rather low. 1 purple tang maybe 5 inches. 1 Hippo Tang about 3 to four inches. 1 Bellus Angel (awesome..) a Pink-Spotted Goby, a Black Percula in a Rose Anemone and 2 Pajama Cardinals. I think I have a pistol shrimp in there somewhere... I hope this fish does well as they are now nearly impossible to maintain and very expensive. Make me feel better! Thanks as always, Brian J Ferraccio <Well, Brian- I don' have a Crystal ball, but I do have a lot of experience with little fishes in big tanks! Generally speaking, these types of fishes, including Jawfishes, will hide for some period of time after their introduction. Once they are "settled in" and construct a burrow, they will be much more visible. Give him a little time and I'm sure that he'll show himself at some point! Enjoy! Regards, Scott F.>

Jawfish 06/08/05 Hey, I have a problem regarding the newly introduced Jawfish. It is an undescribed species, but it keeps on digging holes, and the elegant corals all fall in!?! Is there any way to stop the Jawfish from digging so many holes from random spots? << That is what Jawfish will do. They love to burrow and that is what they do naturally. So there is really no way to stop them.  Unless they find a really nice place that they like they will keep making the burrows>> Thanks~ <<No problem.. EricS>>

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

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

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>

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>

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>

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>

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

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

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

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

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

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