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Questions and Answers

Picked by Andrew Nixon

A selection of Questions and answers from the WetWebMedia database.

Daily Q&A replies/input from the WWM crew: Ian Behnk, Sabrina Fullhart, Benjamin Kratchmer, Michelle Lemech, Scott Fellman, Mike Irving, Merritt Adkins, Eileen Ridgeway/Yunachin, Andrew Nixon, Scott Vallembois, Lynn Zurik, Sara Mavinkurve, Rich Dietz (Mr. Firemouth), Darrel Barton, Neale Monks, Marco Lichtenberger, Brenda Furtak, Chris Perivolidis, Eric Russell, James Gasta (Salty Dog), Chuck Rambo, Pufferpunk (Jeni Tyrell), Bob Fenner, are posted here.

Lysmata amboinensis, Lysmata debelius.- compatibility/behavior 01/23/09
Hello crew, good day to you. It's me again...with another question for you. Seems like i am constantly worrying about my tank. I have 2 skunk cleaner shrimps that are well acclimated, and both are pregnant.
<These animals are almost continuously pregnant (especially when there are males about-- as I'm sure there likely were where you got them).>
They used to love crawling all over my rockwork, but recently, they just hang ON my Clavularia at the corner of my tank.
<This is normal... they picked a spot they like, and now they'll likely stay there unless they find a spot they like better.>
They started doing this when they both decide to get pregnant. My Clavularia looks disturbed by their incessant crawling! Both shrimps are fine, feeding, cleaning, basically, normal. However, it is quite weird to see them just hanging on my Clavularia and wonder when they are going to continue exploring the tank like before.
<They might not ever start doing this again (unless you rearrange the tank or add new live stock that disturbs things).>
I hope there is nothing wrong with them, like, psychologically.
Also, i have a Blood fire shrimp, that i recently acquired from a fellow reefer. All he does is hide hide hide behind rocks and crevices, and i do not even see him at all!
<Again... is normal.>
Not in the day or night! It is a little bit disappointing as i was attracted to this shrimp due to its intense red and white colouration. Now all i see are its antennae sticking out of the rock..Ok, one last quick question. I have bought a Yasha goby and a Randall's pistol shrimp as a pair, and a diagonal high fin goby and a tiger pistol shrimp separately.
After introduction into the tank, the high fin goby and the Randall's pistol shrimp paired. The tiger pistol shrimp and the Yasha goby are both separated, but hiding in individual holes. Will the Yasha and the tiger eventually pair up? - Regards, Kai

<I don't know... maybe. You'll have to wait and see. :-)
Sara M.>

AquaC EV-120 vs. Tap Water Conditioner - Round 1 1/23/09
Hi All,
I am just looking for a quick suggestion from you, if you would be so kind.
My setup is a 135 gal mixed reef, mainly softies, some fish, and a 40 gal sump/refugium.
I have a brand new EV-120 skimmer, and I've always used Tetra Aqua AquaSafe Tap Water conditioner with BioExtract to condition my 5 gal of make up water I add every 3 days or so. Apparently, this water conditioner causes the EV series skimmers to foam like crazy.
I would really appreciate it if you could suggest for me:
1. The best method for removing the conditioner that currently remains in the tank.

<Carbon or just time.>
2. A quality product for conditioning my make up water that won't cause the skimmer to foam like crazy.
<I personally always used Kordon AmQuel in my pre RO days. See: for even cheaper/better options.>
Thank you very much for your expertise and time.
Thomas Bolton

<Welcome, Scott V.>

Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. Sel., sys. mostly  1/24/09
I have a basement tank, 36/ 18 by 14, 52 gallons. I plan on using a river sand bottom,
<Soft sand will be appreciated; the name Mikrogeophagus means "little eartheater", and like the true Geophagines cichlids, these fish (in the wild) sift the sand for algae, invertebrates and decaying organic material.>
my tap pH is around 6.8 to 7. but I plan on using RO water (With a ph of 6.0), they make for you at World of fish, (its voted best LFS in twin cities). At the store they sell blue angel rams, $30 a pair, from a local breeder. These fish look much better, more vigorous and brightly colored then the regular rams they also sell (blue/German) they keep the angel rams in RO water but the others they do not.
<Locally bred fish infinitely better and worth the expense. Farmed Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are of variable quality and often "juiced" with hormones and antibiotics; consequently their survival rate after shipping is dismal, even though they look nice in the shops.>
The tank they are in is labeled NFS, as they are treating for ich, but all fish on the mend, no signs of ich on the rams at all (Corys had it), rams are showing territorial/natural behavior and they use the same RO, water I'll be using if I get them, at the shop.
<If you have locally bred fish available, buying farmed specimens would be dumb.>
I'm planning on buying a high intense light, and planting with live plants and driftwood. What kinds of plant do Rams like or that grow well in their water?
<In the wild they live in sun-baked shallow pools with mostly amphibious vegetation that mostly grows above the waterline. So there's not really much "authentic" you can go for. Instead, concentrate on species that will tolerate the conditions in the aquarium. The very high temperature (minimum 28 C/82 F) will stress some plant species, while the necessary soft water will stress others. To be honest, I'd probably go with floating plants initially, such as the Limnobium, and leave rocks and hollow ornaments across the bottom for the fish. If you wanted rooted plants, buy species in pots that you can easily fertilise with tablets since the sand itself will contain no nutrients (unless you put a layer of pond soil or whatever underneath the sand). Cryptocoryne species would be ideal.>
What are good foods for these guys?
<These are quite fussy fish that tend to have favourite foods. I've never seen Mikrogeophagus show much interest in flake or pellets, though I dare say some will eat the stuff. Mostly they seem to require a varied diet of live or (wet) frozen foods: bloodworms, glassworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, etc. Remember to vary the diet; if they get just bloodworms, you're setting them up for a vitamin deficiency in the long term.>
I talked to the staff at the LFS and they said add tetras first after cycling then wait a month or more before aiding rams/ change like 5 to 10% of the water a week.
<Likely far too little in terms of water changes. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are acutely sensitive to nitrate, and tend to develop things like Hexamita at the first sniff of high levels of nitrate. In part this is surely why they die so quickly in most community tanks. So rather than estimating a water change, grab a nitrate kit and keep track of the nitrate level each week for the first few months. You'll get a picture of how quickly nitrate levels rise, and can act accordingly. You're aiming for under 20 mg/l nitrate, and ideally 0-10 mg/l. Part of this is avoiding overfeeding: these
fish need only small amounts of food to do well.>
I was think 1 or 2 pairs of rams and 12 to 15 tetras in a school.
I was wondering if a school of neon, rummy nose or cardinal tetras would be good dithers ? Are there any other good tetra-like fish to keep with them or is it best to keep the Angel rams separate?
<Neons need cool water, so they're not an option for use alongside the warmth-loving Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. Cardinals can work well, and probably make the best bet. Rummynose tetras would be good in some ways, but they're hyperactive fish, and need to be kept in a decent sized group to school properly; if they just mill about looking nervous, that'll have the reverse effect on your Mikrogeophagus. If you don't mind switching continents, Harlequin Rasboras work well too.>
I do understand the fancy type of rams are less hardy but I will be moving in five years + anyway.( though I am planning on taking the tank with)
<You'd be lucky if most of the farmed specimens last 5 months, to be honest. They really are abysmally poor fish. I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. Like pouring money down a drain.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Coralline algae die off and what to do to stop it. 01/24/09
Hello WWM crew, hope all is well. Anyway here goes. I have a 75 gallon tank with a 30 gallon sump, 2 250 Metal Halide PFO pendant lights, About 100lbs of live sand and about 125 lbs of live rock. I run a CPR backpack skimmer, 5 marine land 650 powerheads in a figure 8 configuration, a bio wheel, with the wheels removed with 2 bags of Chemipure elite on the sump, some grape Caulerpa and some Chaeto. Livestock includes 1 blue chin trigger, 1 yellow tang, 1 Banggai cardinal, a maroon clown, and a lawnmower blenny. Plenty of snails crabs etc. Corals are a bubble coral, frogspawn, various mushrooms and zoos, a cabbage leather, 2 Featherdusters, large xenia population and a green star coral. Parameters are .30 nitrate, 0 nitrite, 0 phos, 0ammonia, calc around 500, ph is 8.3. System been going for around 1 year now. Here's the problem. Had a red slime outbreak and tried everything to solve it, changed bulbs, increased water movement, upped water changes, added the Caulerpa and the Chaeto, nothing it seemed to get worse.
<Here's a little story I like to tell people struggling with Cyanobacteria.
Once upon a time, our government, seeing as it had more money than it knew what to do with, decided to fund a little project... they paid a man to search the globe for any kind of life that might be able to survive on Mars. If you know anything about Mars, it's a totally uninhabitable place.
After years of study and research, and searching high and low across the entire planet, the scientist in charge of this project determined that the only form of life on earth that might possibly survive on Mars would have to be a Cyanobacteria... some of which can be found living *inside* of rocks in places as unlivable as Death Valley. So what's the moral of this story? Simply that Cyano is a formidable opponent. So don't feel too bad when you can't kill it. Best to just try to keep it under control. Build a bigger refugium, get a more powerful protein skimmer, do more water changes... yes, indeed, you should do your best to fight it. But do also understand that you're always going to have at least a little bit of it and you're going to have break outs of it from time to time... it's just the way it goes.>
Finally in a fit of anger I went to my LFS and bought some Aquamedic red slime remover that the guy recommended too me and said it was great. See where this is headed already don't you. It pissed off every coral I have even the star polyp. Everything pulled through though and the algae seems to have subsided for now. Now I am noticing all my purple coralline on my back glass is turning white and im worried its going to affect my growth on my rocks( I was so excited that my back glass was finally getting covered, kinda sucks) Is there anything I can do to reverse this problem?.
<Unfortunately, what's dead is dead. The dead coralline won't come back to life. But it will grow back... in time. Oddly enough, the change in
lighting might have contributed to the problem, but who knows for sure?>
I've already done a 50% water change like the bottle said to on the third day of treatment. Please help. Thanks,
<Just keep doing your best to keep your water quality as high as possible (make sure you keep your Alk, calcium and Mg at good levels)... and be patient. I know it's a difficult hobby, but in time, it will get easier...
keep reading/learning.>
Sara M.>

Setting Up a New Tank with Old Filter Media 1/25/09
Hi, I'm new to this site and I really do love it.
< Thanks for the kind words.>
It is so addicting to explore it. However, I do have a question that I hope was not answered before.
1) I just set up a new tank and it is being cycled. How long will it take for the tank to start fogging up?
< The fogging you are asking about is the ammonia developing in the tank.
This depends on how many fish are in the tank, how much food, water temp etc....I would recommend getting some water quality test kits for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate to get a handle on what is going on and rely less on the "fogging" factor. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. If you see any readings then you may need a bacterial additive like Dr. Tim's One and Only. The nitrates can go up to 20 ppm or higher depending on the fish you have selected. You may already be ok with the old filter media and the tank may not fog up.>
I bought a 45 gallon square tank at a reasonable price. I also added filter media from another established tank to help speed up the process. It has been set up for about 3 days now.
2) What do you recommend I put in there? My tap water is soft and very acidic. I believe it is 6.2-6.5. I have kept fishes before and I decided to give it another try. Thanks.

< You have pretty good water for just about anything. Try South American or West African fish that naturally come from waters similar to yours. Rift lake cichlids require hard alkaline water. The addition of buffers and salts can bring the water up to levels required by these fish. I would caution you on testing the alkalinity of your water. Very soft water may not have any buffering capacity and can become very acidic and "crash".
Start out by researching fish you like for environmental compatibility, adult size and temperament.-Chuck>

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