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NEWZEALAND

Local Marine Aquarium Setup Guide.

By Mark Paterson. 2013.


Cover photo:- Giant Shore Anemone (Oulactis magna) By Mark Paterson CONTENTS. 1. Foreword. 2. The Nitrogen Cycle 3. Cycling the tank. With or without fish. 4. The Aquarium, type and siting it. 5. Collecting Saltwater. 6. Rockwork and substrate. 7. Aquascaping your tank. 8. Protien Skimmer. 9. Water Movement. 10. Plumbing and the sump. 11. Lighting and testing the system. 12. Seaweeds for the tank. 13. Seaweeds graphic. 14. Clean up crew. 15. Clean up crew Graphic. 16. Summary. 17. Maintenance. 18. Legalities arund collecting specimens. 19. Pot Belly Seahorse. 20. Species for the aquarium with care data.


New Zealand coastal waters have a unique and diverse range of flora and fauna present as they cover temperature ranges from sub-tropical to sub-Antarctic with major current systems impacting on its shores. Its waters are thought to contain over 15,000 known species and scientists believe there may be as many as 65,000 marine species present, with many of these species not found anywhere else in the world due to the country's isolation. There are some very different kinds of marine environments, rocky shore, mud flat, estuaries, varying tidal environments, but most people's introduction to our local marine life is through the rock pools at the local beach, these pools can contain a wide range of animals and plants that are exposed to a wide range of fluctuations. Exposure to summer sun can create high water temperatures which in turn will lead to evaporation so the salinity can get very high, or in turn rain can drop the salinity rapidly. The sun can also increase the photosynthesis of algae to generate oxygen, which can raise the pH levels so your average rock pool inhabitant can survive a wide variety of conditions. These pools are generally flushed with new water twice a day which keeps them functioning whereas in the home aquaria doing this can be time consuming. So to compensate for this some care is needed to set up an aquarium that won’t end up a smelly soup after just a few months of running. To create a sustainable closed system the first step is to have lots of patience, a cold water marine system takes longer to cycle than a tropical marine one and both take longer to cycle than freshwater tanks, the full cycling process can take anywhere from 3 months up to a year to attain a mature system. Most aspects of saltwater aquarium keeping are universal. Regardless of whether the ultimate goal is a fish-only tank or a reef style tank, installation of the equipment requires the same steps and water quality is paramount. Similarly, all saltwater tanks require the active participation of beneficial micro-organisms therefore, in the early stages of the tank’s development; the procedure is focused on getting these unseen helpers established. First you need to understand the nitrogen cycle and how the bacteria in the live rock actually break down the wastes excreted by the various living organisms in the tank.

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THE NITROGEN CYCLE Basically all fish and invertebrates excrete ammonia as a waste product; ammonia is extremely toxic to them. There is a group of beneficial bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrites which are also toxic; a second group of microbes convert nitrites into nitrates, which are not nearl y as toxic. Accumulated nitrates should ideally be kept below 10 ppm, but fish may show no ill-effects with slightly higher levels. These two groups of bacteria need to be present and established in sufficient numbers prior to adding your fish and other animals. Ammonia levels will raise followed by a rise in nitrite levels as ammonia begins to decline. Then, as nitrite levels begin to decline, you will more than likely see a very slow rise in nitrates. The appearance of nitrates is a good sign that your various bacteria are making all the necessary conversions, however, some tanks with a significant amount of live rock, li ve sand, macro algae, and are regularly maintained with water changes may never see nitrates accumulate. There are several methods that can be used to cycle a tank, however, the basics are both cycling with or without fish, if you don’t have access to fresh salt water please don’t cycle with fish as they cannot generally tolerate high ammonia levels and water changes required can be expensi ve if using an artificial salt mix.

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Cycling With Fish Using fish to cycle a new saltwater aquarium is one way of preparing the new tank for life but nitrite and ammonia can reach toxic levels during the process. There are only a few fish that live naturally in this environment, Triple fins found in pools higher in the tidal zone, Parore, Rockfish and spotties. Frequent water changes will help to keep the water parameters stable for the inhabitants. Cycling Without Fish Ammonia is needed for the cycling process to succeed so it can be produced in several ways. From dead decomposing matter, a piece of mussel or a fish to using unscented ammonia that doesn't contain any additives, the goal is to maintain a level of 5 ppm of ammonia in the tank which is usually achieved by adding 3 to 5 drops of ammonia to every 20 litres of water on a daily basis. Continue adding the ammonia and testing the water until it shows a nitrite reading once this shows reduce to 2 to 3 drops per 20 litres until both the nitrite and ammonia tests reach 0 ppm. Once you have this then a large water change can be done, watch temperature as too large a variance can stress the bacteria; add some activated carbon to help remove any unwanted additives that may have been in the ammonia.

Allowing the tank to cycle is crucial, it's the process that creates a chemical balance that can sustain plant and fish life, prior to cycling make sure your tank is up and running and your equipment is properly functioning. Circulation and a stable temperature are essential factors for the health of your livestock long-term as well as at the beginning when bacteria levels are establishing. It is good to run your tank lighting on for several hours each day during cycling as it will help set the balance for when the tank is stocked. For any cycling method you want to use a good quality salt mix or natural salt water (NSW ). W hile cycling (regardless of the exact method), you will need to maintain your salinity around 1.027 and your temperature between 18C and 20C. If you have access to fresh clean natural salt water (NSW ) you can set a tank up from scratch by doing 2 x 25% or 1 x 50% water changes weekly with a few hardy fish to help cycle the tank (Parore, Spotty, Rockfish)

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The Aquarium All glass aquariums sealed with silicon are the most common around these days but are not well insulated and can cause condensation on the glass when ambient temperature is higher than the aquarium is set at. Acrylic tanks are recommended for a coldwater system as they will build condensation slower or not at all depending on external humidity and temperature. Glass aquariums are less expensive than acrylic ones and are not prone to scratching when cleaning them too. Pick an area away from direct sunlight to situate the tank so as to avoid heating and algae issues. The larger the tank the more stable it will be for water parameters etc. Image by Kees Tucker

A good solid well made stand will be needed to sit the tank on with a flat base and at least 10mm thick polystyrene to ensure its base is supported properly and not cause any breakage, remember there is a lot of weight once rockwork, water and equipment are added. Ensure any under floor supports are adequate to hold the entire unit if on a wooden floor, perhaps even checking with a professional builder to ensure you have got it right. A steel frame is best for weight and strength but a wooden frame isusually cheaper and easier to DIY for the average person. Site the tank in an area away from direct sunlight which can cause heating or algal problems and a quiet area to help reduce stress on the inhabitants. Having it in an area that has temperature controlled by a heat pump can help with stability in your system.

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COLLECTING NATURAL SALTWATER Clean natural salt water can be collected locally in many parts of New Zealand; you just need to ensure it is clean. Collecting about half an hour before high tide is best but not after any recent rain as this can include contaminants from land runoff. Near river mouths or areas where there is a lot of boat activity should be avoided as well for the same reasons. Collected water can be stored indefinitely in sealed containers away from any light sources. The task of collecting water can be made easier by using a 12V pump that plugs into the vehicles cigarette lighter and then pumping it into large resealable, food grade plastic containers. Commercial bulk containers of 1.000 litre capacity can be used, but remember 1 litre of salt water weighs just over 1kg so a suitable towing vehicle will be needed.

I use a 250 micron felt filter sock when I collect the water to ensure it is as clean as possible, once I get home I pump the water into another IBC passing it through a one micron filter to ensure any possible parasites in the water are eliminated and won't infect my aquarium livestock as the infective stage of Ich is larger than 1 micron. The IBC's can be sourced through chemical supply companies or online trading sites just ensure they have previously contained food grade products or cleaners. I wash them out then leave with freshwater in them for a day then drain, repeat this 2 or 3 times to just to make sure their clean.

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Two essentials for good water filtration are live rock and a good quality protein skimmer.

You will need some clean coral rock as this is more porous than rocks from the sea and makes a good home for the beneficial bacteria and pods that will help maintain your system to live in. You can use live rock from a tropical marine tank but some of the bacteria etc. may die off in the transition. Coral rock is often purchased dry, and the bacteria are dead, or have formed spores. This live rock has to be cured which means left in water for a period of 6 weeks or longer, until all the various types of bacteria have established themselves and the rock can be used to provide filtration in a tank. Rock from the sea with encrusting inverts or plants may be added once cycle is completed, if it is added too early the life on it will die and add to an ammonia spike. As the rock cures, decaying organisms will produce ammonia, which will be converted to nitrite by beneficial bacteria. As curing proceeds, additional bacteria will oxidise the nitrite to nitrate. Therefore, simply test the water for nitrite periodically and keep track of the results. You will see an initial rise, a peak, and then a sharp decline to zero. At that point, the curing process has run its course, usually after about two weeks. During the cycling process you can test the water every few days until you have the ammonia levels controlled. Once the nitrate levels reach 25.0+ the cycle is complete and you can safely add fish to your saltwater aquarium. Substrate The tank can be set up with substrate or no substrate (BB, bare bottomed), having no substrate can be easier during cycling whereas substrate can provide a more natural look. If you go for a sand bed, make it either 2cm or a minimum of 10cm and seed it with about 1 cm of rich natural substrate collected below low tide mark, keep it wet when collecting or bacteria will die off. You can then top up with whatever you want as long as it’s not too coarse and not too fine. Lots of debate on grain size but I've had good success with the coarser stuff that looks a bit like coral sand, aim for around 1 to 2 mm grain size, this can be found at low tide and accumulates on the surface on mid to low tide sandy beaches and on the sandy fringes of rocky headlands. Larger shell fragments can end up trapping detritus and turning your substrate into a nitrate factory causing algae blooms and problems with disease.

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Live Rock Live rock is coral rock that is from an established aquarium, rock from a tropical system can be used but there may be die off in some of the bacteria. W ater changes will help with any resultant ammonia spike, as a simple rule you will need 1kg of live rock per litre of water. It is imperative that the aquarium be filled with seawater at the correct salinity, pH, etc., and that all equipment is operating properly before the live rock is introduced. The more rock you have the more bacteria to support your bio load. When the rock has been placed, add dry substrate, live sand, and/or live rock pebbles as your design dictates you can top off the tank with seawater.

Scaping the Tank. Aquascaping a marine tank seems to be one of those skills you either have, or don't have, look around at others tanks for ideas or visit the many websites available on the internet just. remember to leave swimming space for your fish and caves or gaps for them to feel safe in.! If you are starting with dry rock you can set it up outside the tank for the look you require but whatever structure you end up with ensure it is stable and can't fall onto the glass base. Keep the structures open and off the walls to allow room to clean the glass of algae or to siphon out detritus build up, allowing water flow under the rocks will also ensure a cleaner tank and less chance of a nitrate buildup in the future.. Start with the big pieces as a base to ensure stability, have these touching the glass so if you are using substrate they can't be dug under and cause a collapse by any future inhabitants. Cable ties Reef safe putty or drilling and pushing acrylic rods through the rock will ensure that no accidents can happen in the future. Once you are happy with it test it to ensure its stability by pushing it or applying pressure and dDon't be too worried about being able to see things like putty or ties because if you stock your tank with corals and keep calcium levels up things will soon start to get covered in corraline algae and/or corals. Remember any future corals will grow and fill those empty places in so keep your basic structure fairly low in the tank as some can suffer sunburn from lighting.

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PROTEIN SKIMMER. . Nearly all reef tanks use a protein skimmer. A protein skimmer removes small particles of dirt, bacteria, and proteins from the water. The skimmer works by pumping the tank water slowly through a vertical or cone shaped tube, fine bubbles are injected into it by either an airstone or an air injected needlewheel pump. The bubbles collect waste on their surfaces which rise to the top as foam which then builds up and flows into a collection cup. A good quality skimmer is another major tool for ensuring a long lasting tank and it is a good idea to source a skimmer with the capability to handle more than the tanks volume. There are many skimmers available in the marketplace with the new cone shaped ones seeming to be the most efficient. There are several different styles of protien skimmer on the market from hang on back of tank to internal or external sump types, all work on the same principle so it gets down to what is best for your system. All have different systems of operation, water height etc so it is best to read the manual lol.

Cone shaped skimmer In Sump design.

Hang On Back External Skimmer 8.


WATER MOVEMENT Another major factor in your tanks health is the gas exchange going on at the water’s surface with nitrogen gas leaving the tank and being replaced by oxygen. Sessile invertebrates also benefit from strong currents that wash away wastes and bring nutrients and oxygen to them. The return pipe from the sump discharges water in one direction only and in a continuous stream whereas in nature water movement is multi directional and intermittent. This can be achieved in the aquarium by the use of power heads or flow pumps, try to set up these flows to create turbulence and current to wash debris towards the outlet to sump. Basic rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 10 times the tank volume in water flow, if a tank is 100 litres, you want pumps at least equaling an output 10 times that, or 1000 litres per hour. Flow pumps can upset a sand bed or substrate so you may have to spend some time trialling their positions and settings out.

Typical flow pump system.

Return Pump If you are running a system with a sump you will need a water pump to return the water to the tank this pump runs 24 hours a day and needs tot be made specifically for saltwater use with a ceramic impellor shaft. Each system will be different as to the flow rate required in tank but as a general guide a FOWLR tank, flow rate should be at least 7 times per hour and a reef tank at least 10 times per hour up to as much as 30 times per hour. Flow rate through the sump needs to allow time for the skimmer to have contact time with the water so anything from 5 times to 10 times will work just remember it is entirely controlled by how much flow the overflow to sump can handle

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Plumbing and The sump. In m y personal opinion having a sump on the tank is better than using canister filters; these can be used but may need the filter media washing in NSW frequently to avoid a buildup of detritus in them. Canister filters are also good for running activated carbon in to help remove toxins, phosphate removers to help with water chemistry or filter wool for polishing your water by removing particles from your water column. Many manufactured tanks come “ready to go.� or you can D.I.Y. it all yourself. Drilled holes in the tank and an overflow box with Durso standpipe allows surface water to be drained to the sump. Narrow slots at the top of the overflow prevent large objects from entering the plumbing. In some designs, the return pipe passes through a second hole in the tank bottom and extends up to the top of the pre filter paralleling the standpipe. In other designs, the return pipe passes through the tank bottom at some distance from the drain. In still others, a return hose simply loops over the rim of the tank to discharge water just below the surface. A plastic part known as a bulkhead fitting provides a waterproof seal around the holes in the tank and connects to additional pipes or hoses to transport water to the sump which is usually placed underneath the display aquarium. At the opposite end of the sump from the inflow a pump returns water back to the main tank. The protein skimmer can be placed in sump or adjacent to it. Locate the skimmer where it will be easily accessible for inspection and cleaning. If you are using a chiller, it will be installed in the return line between the pump and the tank. Install the chiller’s thermostat sensor in the sump. It is a good idea to lay out the equipment arrangement on paper before you proceed with installation. You will want to make sure everything can be hidden underneath the tank while remaining accessible for maintenance.

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Lighting T5 fluorescent lighting or L.E.D.'s are adequate for most N.Z. local marine systems and will certainly create less heat into the system than metal halides will. Stronger lighting at around 10k rating is only required when housing kelp and other macro-algae, if not keeping these then you can use just normal T5 or T8 fluorescent lights in a combination of marine blue and white tubes. You will need a timer for the lighting system to keep the inhabitants in equilibrium. Testing the System. After filling the tank, plug everything in and allow the equipment to run overnight. Adjust the thermostat on the chiller, to maintain the correct temperature. Use an accurate thermometer to check the water and make adjustments to reach the target temperature. The temperature should remain constant within two to three degrees over a twentyfour-hour period. W ater should be circulating from the tank to the sump and back. The skimmer should be operating, although it will produce little, if any, foam until the tank contains salt. You will make final adjustments to the skimmer after adding the salt mix or NSW , and again later after adding li ve rock and fish. Settling In with Your Habitat. Once you have it all in place, full of salt water and circulating let it settle in and run for a week you can take a trip to the local shore side and pick up a few critters. Start with a cleanup crew like hermit crabs, grazing snails, chitons and glass shrimps from local rock pools, if you look under boulders (on sand) try and get some mottled brittlestars, they set up shop beneath your live rock and are brilliant at sorting the accumulating nitrogenous crap. Because of the inevitable algae blooms early in the life of any saltwater aquarium, it is a good idea to choose algae-eating snails as some of the tank’s first tenants, Cats Eyes are a good one. Have a look round locally for areas with lots of polychaete worms in a fairly course 1mm substrate. (if the worms are there, then there should also be all sorts of micromolluscs, echinoderms and other microbial life) Also remove any large predatory pol ychaetes if you encounter them. They are the big pearl white ones with visible legs that can swim like eels!)

Keep the bio load low for at least 6 months - That's the hard part, Patience, Let it balance out and then you can start to add your finds.

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SEAWEEDS IN THE AQUARIUM Seaweeds are an important part of natural temperate marine habitats and provide a home for a diverse range of invertebrates as well as add movement to your display. Sub tidal red algae are the best for a closed system, with many attractive species available that will survi ve in an aquarium. The slow-growing encrusting coralline red algae are particularly attractive and suitable for aquarium life. Encrusting corallines form the beautiful pink patches coating rocks and will survive quite well under aquarium conditions try to avoid exposing them to air. Other species of red algae may be tried and often do quite well, but should be removed when undergoing rapid loss of color or deterioration. Temperate seaweeds that do well in the aquarium are generally subtidal species adapted to relatively low light levels. Most of these belong to the red algae group and make very attractive display additions. A simple light system consisting of fluorescent tubes (one actinic blue and one cool white are agood combination) on a 12-hour cycle should be adequate for a standard tank. Metal halide lamps can damage seaweeds collected from deeper levels than a rock pool as well as add extra heat to your system. All seaweeds should be collected with the holdfast intact. This attachment structure can be wedged into crevices or even glued with cyanoacrylic adhesives (super glue gel) onto the smooth surfaces of rocks (both surfaces must be dried before applying glue). In an aquarium with insufficient water motion, seaweeds may become smothered by detritus so a good varied flow in the water column is essential to keep them in their best condition. After all remember they are used to a more rigorous environment than can be provided in the average aquarium and will cause problems if they begin decaying. To encourage Coraline algae growth extra calcium can be added to the aquarium water to maintain a level of 400 mg/L and frequent water changes will help with nutrient levels.

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A few of the Sea weeds that do well in an enclosed system. Coralline algae Coralline algae are hard and come in encrusting and upright branching varieties, extra calcium can be added to the aquarium water to promote growth, limpets and urchins may eat it. Velvet Weed(Codium fragile) Feels like velvet. it can at times be found above low tide usually found in sheltered harbours. Grows from a holdfast.

Green Grapeweed (Caulerpa geminata) This weed is sometimes found in healthy rock pools or growing sub tidally. Its roots form a growing network so can be lifted off the rock it is on in a mat, this can be bound with cotton on rock work. Strap Weed,Carpophyllum maschalocarpum Needs good varied flow to keep sediment off it, this a very slow grower and may be eaten by Urchins and snails.

Sea Rimu (Caulerpa brownii) This derives its name from the resemblance to the New Zealand rimu tree. Found sub tidally in medium shelter, East Coast North Island. This plant grows from runners, use Super Glue Gel or cotton to re attach it to a rock..

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CLEAN UP CREW FOR THE AQUARIUM The “clean-up crew� is a term used to describe the various small invertebrates that in nature clear up decomposing matter, algae growths and sift through the sand bed to help promote a healthy system. The most commonly used are hermit crabs, turbinaria snails, and glass shrimp though there are a variety of other snails, limpets, brittle stars, etc. One important factor to consider is the type of habitat you are trying to replicate and the compatibility of li ve stock in the tank. Leatherjackets, Puffers or wrasses can predate on hard and soft bodied invertebrates so you may be limited to animals with a hard shell; large snails and hermit crabs You also need to ensure there is enough food in the tank to sustain them, a newly set up tank may support a few shrimp or hermit crabs as these can be fed easily. W hereas grazing snails will possibly starve until the algae levels are up in the tank, unless you can supplement feed them, some clean-up crew members require a sandbed for survi val and a new bed may not have enough nutrients required to support them. It's Important to check on invertebrates to ensure that they are still alive, a good rule is to keep track of any livestock you put in the tank as dead animals can quickly pollute the water in your tank. Sometimes the clean up crew can predate on each other, for example Hermit crabs are known to kill snails when they need a new home so adding spare empty shells will help solve the problem.

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Common Clean Up Crew members. Black Spotted Topshell Diloma melagraphia atheops Diet: Grazes on algal film and also detritus Cats eye Snail Turbo smaragdus Diet: Foliaceous algae and macrophytes Cooks Turban Cookia sulcata Diet: Foliaceous algae and Ecklonia radiata Turret Shell Maoriculpus rosea Diet: Deposit feeder, filters sediment.

Glass Shrimp. Will eat almost anything, a good species for cleaning up uneaten food in the aquarium. Brittle Starfish Diet: sediment deposits detritus feeder Sea Cucumber are detritus feeders, by sifting through the substrate they are very good at keeping a sand bed clean. Hermit Crabs are good at cleaning up any food leftover by fish, some are filter feeders also using their antennae to sift particles from the water. They need a supply of empty shells to move into as they grow or may kill snails to get a new home.

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SUMMARY. W hen it comes to setting up a saltwater aquarium, big tanks and small ones differ only in the amount of water and materials invol ved. The basic procedure is the same. After readying the tank and setting it in place, install the equipment. Test the plumbing with fresh water, and make sure everything else is working properly before adding salt mix. Aquascaping is next, using li ve rock and sand, or non-living materials, or a combination. Allow for a break-in period as the aquarium develops a population of beneficial micro-organisms, from this point on, you are the custodian of a living ecosystem. You must maintain the aquarium over the next several months to allow basic biological processes to develop appropriately. The aquarium will continue to mature and change for a period of months. Early on, for about six to eight weeks, you can expect a series of algae blooms to occur, typically, brownish diatoms and red/purple slime algae appear first then later, filamentous green algae supersede the earlier growths. This waxing and waning of algae blooms is normal, you can siphon out patches of slime algae, and use a pad to clean the glass, but do not reduce lighting in an attempt to limit algae growth. You will only prolong the process, algae grows because the water contains compounds, such as phosphate, that stimulate their growth. Removing algae from the tank helps to export the compounds. Protein skimming also helps. You will note that the skimmer begins to produce foam during the break-in process. As micro-organisms grow, reproduce, and die, they release organic compounds into the water, some is taken up again by other organisms, and some is removed by the skimmer. As the developing ecosystem becomes more and more stable, you can introduce additional invertebrates and fish about every two weeks. Although the process of stocking an aquarium can be slow, patience is rewarded with a thriving, easily maintained tank.

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Maintenance of your system requires little apart from this suggested routine. Daily: check temperature, ensure equipment is functioning correctly, and check and feed inhabitants, ensure livestock are moving in a normal manner with erect fins etc. clean algae off glass. Weekly: check salinity and adjust as needed with RODI water; check pH and adjust as needed; carry out a 10 percent water change; Monthly:check nitrate; carry out 50 percent water change; replace detritus removal pads in sump; siphon out debris as needed. Semiannually: carry out 50 percent water change, clean power heads if needed. Annually: replace lamps; service system pumps, skimmer etc.

GO SLOW KEEP THE BIO LOAD MINIMISED AND YOU WILL BE FINE.

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Legalities around collecting native fish etc. There are laws in New Zealand such as the Biosecurity Act (e.g. unwanted organisms), Freshwater Fisheries Regulations (e.g. Noxious fish), Conservation Act (e.g. Restricted Fish), that are based around our native species. Amateur fishers can take their daily bag of 50 koura and use them for whatever purposes they like. This arose from the creation in 2001 of a bag for all species of shellfish not-named under the Amateur Fishing Regulations (eg periwinkles, pupu, etc). The definition of shellfish includes all crustacea, so the regulation now controls all non-commercial taking of koura, copepods, and shrimp. A person may not raise, feed, release, process, or deal in native fish for sale in any establishment (i.e. a fish farm) without a licence under the Freshwater Fish Farming Regulations 1983. This applies to koura and shrimp as well, and it is up to MFish to follow this up with aquarium hobbyists on TradeMe. You also require a permit to take anything from marine protected areas, the Marine protected areas may be found here https://www.mpi.govt.nz/law-and-policy/ legal-overviews/fisheries/fishery-maps/#customary N.Z has a quota management system in place for marine species which means that some species have a minimum take size so you need to be aware of this when collecting for the aquarium, your local MPI office can be approached and a permit applied for to keep undersized fish if needed. You may not transfer live aquatic animals from one natural waterway to another without permission. If the species does not exist in the recipient waterway DOC permission is required. If it does already exist there, approval is required from the Ministry of Fisheries. It is also illegal to release fish back into a natural waterway without prior approval, even if you are returning them to where they came from. The only exception would be where a fish has been caught and then returned immediately to the same waterway (eg. if you are recreationally fishing). If a fish that has been in captivity is transferred back into a natural environment it could have contracted some type of disease or fungi which that fish could then spread to a natural population.

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Seahorse care sheet Seahorses are so named for their equine appearance our native seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) or Pot-belly seahorse is one of the largest seahorses, growing up to 35 cm long. Their bodies are well camouflaged with with dark spots and blotches on the head and body. Males have a brood pouch, longer tails, and a shorter snout. The potbelly seahorse can live to 10 years in the wild.

The Pot bellied seahorse is found around New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand it usually inhabits harbours and sheltered coastlines amongst seaweeds around rocky areas, they are more active at dusk and night than in the daytime spending most of the day anchored by their tail to rocks or weed. Seahorses feed on crustaceans, such as amphipods and shrimp, which are sucked into their tube-like snouts and ingested whole, in the aquarium they can be fed on live Shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, guppy fry and whiteworms (very fatty) also frozen foods such as mysid and brineshrimp. A mature, cycled saltwater aquarium with gentle to moderate currents is needed for them as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to be able to feed properly. There must be adequate biological filtration and you should do water changes of 5- 20 percent per week. Height in the tank is important to allow natural behaviour in courting and mating, a depth of 2 to 2 ½ times the length of the seahorse is needed for this. They need cooler temperatures to remain healthy as prolonged warmer temps can lead to fungal that will be fatal to them. Water should follow these guidelines before you introduce a seahorse S.G. 1.025 - 1.027, pH - 8.0 to 8.3, Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0, Nitrate No more than 10ppm, Temperature 15C to 18C.

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Selecting livestock for the aquarium can be a difficult task as many fish will eat other fish or invertebrates, rule of thumb usually is "If it fits in a mouth it will be eaten" When i first started out on this journey i fossicked in rockpools and thought that as they get hot in summer any fish i find in there will be tough but i soon learnt that those pools are only warm for a few hours each day and get flushed twice a day by the tide.


I will list some of the local marine organisms I have kept in aquariums and some of the basic requirements I found necessary to keep them. Black Angel : Parma alboscapularis

Description: New Zealand’s only true angelfish, starts life vibrantly coloured like tropical Parma species - they are a neon blue and yellow which slowly changes to jet black with a white ear patch. Size: 28cm Habitat: Found around coastal headlands and offshore islands in the north. Temperament: Normal damsel angel type personally, timid when small, would be aggressive with same species and tends to harass new fish in the tank. Tank Age/Maturity: Mature tank at least 6 months and 400 litres up to 1,000 litres for mature fish. Diet: Eats most things eventually, mine love flake, bloodworm, tuatua, Mysid etc Special Requirements: Only one per tank as they get aggressive as they mature.


Blue Cod

Parapercis Colias

Description: Young fish are blotched in varying shades of brown. Adults are usually green to blue-black above with a white belly. Young fish are blotched in varying shades of brown. Adults are usually green to blue-black above, with white on the belly. Can grow to 60cm and weigh up to 3kg. Habitat: Usually found offshore around N.Z. over reefs and sandy bottoms to 50 metres. Temperament: Predatory. Strongly territorial and any species that fit in its mouth will be eaten. Tank Age/Maturity: 1000 litres and at least six months. Diet: This fish feeds mainly on small fish and crabs etc, so readily accepts all meaty foods. Special Requirements: Good clean water and needs swimming space. A Quota fish, with a minimum legal size.


Blue Maomao Scorpis violacea

Description: Bright blue as an adult, but silver with yellow spots and fins as a youngster, will grow to 25-35cm. Habitat: Usually found in reef areas of broken rock. From rock pools and sub-tidal areas down to 30 metres around the eastern side of the Upper North Island. Temperament: Peaceful, easy to keep and recommended in a large enough tank. Tank Age/Maturity: At least 6 months old and preferably 600 litres, when caught as 2.5cm youngsters can attain 10cm+ in their first year. Diet: Readily accept all foods; live and frozen pods, mysid shrimp, raw mussel, prawn. Special Requirements: Need room to swim.


Bluenose, Warehou Seriolella brama

A deep water fish which can be caught as larvae in a harbour where they come in on the current during the early summer months. Description: Silvery oval shaped body with black bar behind gill cover. Grow up to 60cm. Habitat: Deep water 40 to 1500 metres at 14 C Temperament: Predatory will eat smaller fish in the tank. Tank Age/Maturity: 6 months at least and 1,000 litres minimum. Diet: Any meaty foods Special Requirements: A large tank as they reach 15 to 18cm in their first year Aquarium Suitability: Only in a very large tank with good swimming space, best caught as juveniles and grown up in tank..


Bridled goby Arenigobius bifrenatus

Bridled goby is a burrowing coastal and estuarine goby self introduced from temperate areas of Australia. Habitat: They are found around the coastline in estuaries around the upper North Island to depths of about 3 metres. Temperament: Peaceful Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least 6 months old. Diet: Readily accept all foods both live and frozen Pods, mysid, raw mussel, prawn and flake foods, will also graze green algae. Special Requirements: Bridled Gobies are generally easy to keep so long as the aquarium is well maintained and there is some green algae present for them to eat - they cannot eat filamentous (hair) algae. They are burrowing fish so do better with substrate in the tank but will live without it. Can get aggressive with own species during breeding season Size: 8cm


Butterfly Perch Caesioperca lepidoptera

Description: A pinkish coloured fish with a speckling of small black spots, a large black spot on sides, bluish hints around the head. Grows to 30cm Habitat: Found inshore, near rocky reefs to 100m. Splendid perch found in more northern waters and Allports in southern waters. Temperament: Peaceful and timid. Tank Age/Maturity: Mature tank at least 6 months and 400 litres up to 1,000 litres for mature fish. Diet: Newly caught fish need live food but after settling in tank eats everything from flake food to mysid, partial to prawns. Special Requirements: A very timid fish when newly caught, can easily be pushed off food by other more boisterous fish. All of these I have had have been caught in deeper water on a Sibaki rig and so have needed air bladder aspirating quickly once brought onboard the boat.


Carpet Shark Cephaloscyllium isabellum

Description: The Carpet Shark or Draughtsboard shark get its name as many of them have blotchy patterns on the upper side reminiscent of a carpet. Will grow up to 1.2 metres and can reach 60cm in 2 1/2 years. Habitat: They are endemic to New Zealand coastal waters and are found at depths of 1 to 400 metres.it is a bottom dweller that is mainly nocturnal and during the day is usually found hiding under ledges or inside caves on rocky reefs, at night, it emerges to forage for food Temperament: Predatory. Tank Age/Maturity: At least 1,000 litres and minimum 6 months old. Diet: It feeds on a wide variety of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Special Requirements: Needs a large system to grow in 1,000 litres plus.


Clingfish - Giant Haplocylix littoreus

Description: Can be Distinguished from other clingfishes by its large size, broad spade-like body, and large sucking disc, its colours range from olive green to golden brown or yellow with faint markings over the head and body . Can grow up to 15cms. Habitat: East coast of New Zealand around the low water mark amongst seaweed, on rocky coastlines. At low tide can be found under rocks. Temperament: Peaceful Tank Age/Maturity: 250 Litres at least 6 months old. Diet: Eats crustaceans and once settled will accept meaty foods mussel, shrimp etc. Special Requirements: Need live food until ready to accept frozen foods. Aquarium Suitability: Need live food for survival.


Clingfish - Hectors, Green clingfish Gastroscyphus hectoris

Description: A small greenish clingfish with modified pelvic fins which act as suckers to hold them onto rocks in wave action. Grows to 3cm. : Habitat: Inter-tidal rocky shore around NZ coastline usually amongst brown seaweeds. Temperament: Peaceful Tank Age/Maturity: 6 months 200 litres minimum Diet: Need live foods, crustaceans etc.though thet quickly learn to eat any meaty food offered. Special Requirements: Need an established tank


Demoiselle (New Zealand Demoiselle) Chromis Dispilus

Description: New Zealands true damsel, have a round shaped body that is a dark blue with a white spot behind the gill cover. The demoiselle juveniles are a dark green colour and change to a bluish green as they grow and start feeding in the water column. Grows to 21cm usually about 15cm. Habitat: Found between North Cape and East Cape of the North Island of N.Z. to depths of 60 metres off rocky coasts. Juveniles can be caught by hand nets in shallow water during the summer months. . Tank Age/Maturity: 400 litres and at least 12 months. Diet: : Mid-water plankton feeder which feeds almost exclusively on copepods in the wild so needs live food until they can be weaned on to frozen food. Frozen mysid shrimp and brine shrimp in the water column will be picked up and eaten. Special Requirements: Mature large tank, live foods initially. As it matures only have one Demoiselle per tank. Endemic: Yes


Goatfish, Red Mullet Upeneichtys Lineatus

Pic of juvenile fish by Kees Tucker. Description: Can easily be identified by the twin barbells on its chin. These are used to sift in the sand to find prey. Has the ability to make quick changes of colour and pattern – sometimes brilliant red or silver with a darker red stripe on the lateral line and holds both its dorsal fins erect. Grows to 30cm. Habitat: Found inshore, near rocky reefs and sandy bottoms to 60m. Usually in small groups seldom more than 2 metres above the bottom. Temperament: A peaceful fish in a mixed tank. Tank Age/Maturity: 400 litres and at least six months. Diet: Newly caught fish need live food but after settling in tank they eat everything from flake food to mysid shrimp, partial to prawns. Special Requirements: A very timid fish when newly caught, easily pushed off food.


Golden Snapper Centroberyx affinis

Description: A red oval shaped body and a large bony head, Can grow to 50cm's Habitat: Found around New Zealand coastline from 10 to 300 metres. Temperament: Predatory once established may eat smaller fish. Tank Age/Maturity: Need a large established tank at least 600 litres. Diet: Eat any meaty foods fish, crustacean, mollusc etc. Aquarium Suitability: Only large systems with other large fish. Special Requirements: Most of these I have had were caught by barbless hook at greater than 10 metres depth so needed their air bladder aspirated once brought onboard.


Hiwihiwi Chironemus marmoratus

Pic of juvenile fish by Caroline Paterson.

Description: Lovely patterned native fish, small beak like mouth. Bown and white patterns. Grows to 25-30cm. Habitat: Found around coastal reefs and rocky coast, lives amongst kelp type weed. Temperament: Predator but gets along with similar sized fish except with own species. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres but these guys ultimately will need 1,000 litres plus. Diet: A easy to care for fish, eats just about anything once acclimatised. Special Requirements: Can hassle timid fish away from their food. Can be aggressive with its own species.


John Dory Zeus Faber .

Description: A very thin, disc shaped fish. Body and fins are olive brown with green-brown wavy stripes and a golden sheen. A large central dark spot ringed with silver is present on each side of the body. Its pelvic, and in particular dorsal, fin rays are elongated and they have a very large, extendable mouth. Grows up to 60cm. Habitat: Found around the coastline at depths of 0 – 300 metres, but are uncommon south of Cook Strait. Temperament: Predatory they have a huge mouth so can swallow quite large tankmates. Tank Age/Maturity: 500 litres and at least six months. Diet: Should be fed live foods to start with as take a while to accept dead foods, then feed fish, mussels, prawn and meaty foods. Special Requirements: Lots of room to swim


Kahawai. Arripis trutta

Description: The Kahawai has a dark bluish-green body , indistinct rows of spots forming narrow irregular bands on upper sides. Juveniles have golden bars on the upper sides that break up into spots in larger individuals, a yellowish pectoral find with a black basal spot and a black margin on the caudal fin. Size: 40 - 60cm. Habitat: They are found all around the New Zealand coastline from estuaries to depths of 90 m. Temperament: Predatory if it fits in its mouth it will be eaten. Tank Age/Maturity: 1000 litres preferably larger as it needs room to swim. Diet: Readily accept all foods both live and frozen Pods, mysid, raw mussel, prawn and meaty foods. Special Requirements: Lots of swimming room, a very fast fish that does not settle well to Aquarium life as the take fright easily.


Leatherjacket Parika scaber

Description: Diamond shaped fish with brown leathery skin and extendable trigger above dorsal fin. Can change colours in camouflage patterning depending on the mood. Size: up to 35cm. Habitat: The Leatherjacket can be found as youngsters around weed in shallow water from November onwards. Larger fish can be caught by line around most N.Z. waters. Temperament: Quite a peaceful fish in a mixed tank. Very easily tamed, but can nip if food not coming fast enough. Tank Age/Maturity: At least 6 months old and preferably 600 litres, when caught as 2.5cm youngsters can attain 10cm+ in their first year. Diet: Eats everything from flake food to mysid, partial to shellfish. Special Requirements: If chased in tank can wedge itself in rockwork by extending its trigger, will usually release if left alone. will eat sponges and invertebrates owing to their teeth arrangement.


Mado Atypichthys latus

Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=1033212

Description: A small hard to observe fish with black/green longditudinal stripes on a whitebody with yellowish fins. grows to 20cm. Habitat: Usually found around the north eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand to depths of about 60 m off headlands and offshore islands. Temperament: Peaceful and timid Tank Age/Maturity: 300 litres and at least six months Diet: They need live food as they feed on small crustaceans, such as amphipods, in the aquarium they can be fed on live mysid Shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia and whiteworms (very fatty) and hatched brineshrimp. Special Requirements; Need plenty of live food to get them established in the aquarium and suffer stress badly.


Moon or Lunar Wrasse Caprodon Longimanus

Description: Typical elongated wrasse shape with the body dark green to blue. Its head is green to blue with irregular pink to violet. Habitat: Found around coastal reefs, and in protected seaward reefs around northern New Zealand at depths of from 1 – 20 metres Temperament: Fairly peaceful Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres and at least six months Diet: Feeds mainly on small benthic invertebrates and fish eggs. Easily adjusts to eating frozen foods but will benefit from live food in the tank Special Requirements: Can be harassed by larger wrasses Size: 25 - 35cm Self introduced, becoming more frequent in NZ waters in recent years around the North Island.


New Zealand rockfish. Acanthoclinus littoreus

Pic by John Sullivan

Description: A long almost eel shaped body with te topdorsal fin running the length of the body almost, colouration can be mottled brown to black. Size: Between 5 and 15 cm. Habitat: All types of habitat round NZ coastline down to 15 metres. Temperament: Predatory. Tank Age/Maturity: 6 months at least 200 litres. Diet: Basically all meaty food types, partial to crustaceans. Special Requirements: Will eat anything that fits in its mouth. Aquarium Suitability: Very easy fish to keep but predatory, can be found under rocks above the low tide mark. .


Parore Girella tricuspidata

Description: A dark brownish-green coloured fish with narrow darker vertical bands. Slow growing but may eventually reach 60cm. Habitat: Found inshore, in habours and estuaries. Fry can be caught early summer around weedy rocks and wharves . Temperament: A peaceful fish in a mixed tank. Can be aggressive to its own species as they grow. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres but these guys ultimately will need 1,000 litres plus. Diet: In the wild they are primarily a plant eater but will readily adapt to eat everything from flake to mussel flesh, even scraping algae off the rocks in the tank. Special Requirements: Need room to swim, but these guys as they grow can become quite territorial with new fish.


Pink Maomao Caprodon Longimanus

Description: A brilliantly coloured fish, pink with fins carrying a slight blue tinge. Grows to 60cm. Habitat: Found inshore near rocky reefs to 100 metres. Temperament: A peaceful fish in a mixed tank. Tank Age/Maturity: 600 litres and at least six months. Diet: Newly caught fish need live food but after settling in tank they eat everything from flake food to mysid shrimp. Partial to prawns. Special Requirements: A very timid fish when newly caught, easily pushed off food. To catch these I usually use a barbless hook and once brought on deck the air bladder will need to be aspirated with a fine needle.


Porcupine Fish Allomycterus jaculiferus This fish is poisonous to eat as it contains the powerful nerve toxin tetrodotoxin (TTX) in its skin and intestines.

Description: The body colour is grey-brown with a white stomach and irregular blackish patches on the back and sides and the head is large and bony and the body is long, tapered and covered in spines. When excited it inflates with water to the size of a small football. Grows to 60cm. Habitat: Usually found offshore around the North Island of N.Z. over reefs and sandy bottoms to 50m. less common in the South Island Temperament: Peaceful Tank Age/Maturity: 400 litres preferably larger at least 3 months old. Diet: Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms, so readily accept all meaty foods. Special Requirements: Good clean water, swimming space and hard food like crabs or molluscs to help trim their teeth.


Red banded Perch Hypoplectrodes huntii

Public Domain, commons.wikimedia. Description: Elongate red and white striped body with a large head that comprises one quarter of its length. Will grow to 20cm. Habitat: Found around the North Island and northern South Island of New Zealand, at depths between 5 and 100 m. Temperament: Predatory, large mouth. Tank Age/Maturity: 6 months at least and minimum 250 litres. Diet: Eat any meaty foods fish, crustacean, mollusc etc. Aquarium Suitability: Very suitable so long as housed with fish the same size or larger. Another fish that if brought up from depth may need its swim bladder apirating.


Red Gurnard Chelidonichthys kumu

Red Gurnard Brian Gratwicke wiki commons.

Description: Body slender; head large, bony; Reddish to greyish brown above, pale below; fan-like pectoral fins green with blue streaks and spots, grows to 50 cm. Habitat: Found around N.Z. coast Usually on soft bottoms in offshore waters around New Zealand, up to 200 m. Temperament: Predatory if it fits in its mouth it will be eaten. Tank Age/Maturity: 400 litres preferably larger at least 3 months old. Diet: Feeds mainly on small crustaceans, fish and invertebrates. Will eat anything you feed it once acclimatised Threatened Species: N/A Special Requirements: Need room and open spaces on tank floor to swim, best on a sandy bottom.


Red Moki Goniistius spectabilis

Description: White fish with several black vertical stripes on body, rubbery lips and large pectoral fins. Weighs up to 3kgs. Size: 60cm Habitat: Usually found offshore around the North Island of N.Z. over reefs and sandy bottoms to 50m. Juvenile fish can be caught in shallow water amongst rocks and weed, from December to March. Temperament: Territorial even as juveniles with own species. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres but these guys ultimately will need 1,000 litres plus. Diet: Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans etc, so readily accept all meaty foods. Special Requirements: Good clean water, swimming space, as they are a quota fish they have a minimum legal size so need a large tank. Territorial with own species even as a juvenile.


Red Pig Fish Bodianus unimaculatus,

Pic by Ian Skipworth (commons) Female fish. Description: A large wrasse with mature males a bright pink colour with a black spot on dorsal fin, females and juveniles are a pinkish colour with darker lines and dashes on their sides. Males grow to 50cm females about 30cm. Habitat: Commonly found in shallow coastal waters along rocky outcrops in depths to 60 m. Temperament: Predatory if it fits in its mouth it will be eaten. Diet: Will eat most meaty foods offered. Tank Age/Maturity: 1000 litres preferably larger as it can be aggressive to its own species when larger. Special Requirements: Plenty of swimming room


The Bearded Cod Lotella rhacinus

Description: This cod yellow-grey to red-brown with white fin margins. It has an eel shaped body which is covered with tiny cycloid scales. There is a barbel on the chin and juvenile fish are black in colour. Grows to 50cm. Habitat: They are found around the coastline It is usually seen in caves, in bays and coastal reefs, depth range 10 90 m. Temperament: Predatory if it fits in its mouth it will be eaten. Tank Age/Maturity: 400 litres preferably larger at least 3 months old. Diet: Readily accept all foods both live and frozen Pods, mysid, raw mussel, prawn and meaty foods. Special Requirements: As they are cave dwellers nooks and crannies should be provided. Seem to do well with all fish so long as they don’t fit in its mouth.


Splendid Perch and Allports Perch Callanthias australis and Callanthias allporti

Description: A brilliantly coloured fish of pink, golden, yellow, orange and red. The caudal fin is red and all other fins are orange. The Allports perch has a slightly more subdued colouration.Size: 30cm Habitat: Found inshore, near rocky reefs to 100m. Splendid perch found in more northern waters and Allports in southern waters. Temperament: Peaceful and timid. Tank Age/Maturity: Mature tank at least 6 months and 400 litres up to 1,000 litres for mature fish. Diet: Can be difficult to get to eat. Supply live food, either pods in the tank or grown separately. Will sometimes eat bloodworm, brine shrimp, pods from the rock and maybe flake food Special Requirements: Keep only in a mature cycled aquarium. Must have room to swim. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods .Easily out competed for food by faster fish. Another fish that usually needs its swim bladder aspirating.


Scorpionfish Scorpaena Cardinalis

Description: Usually bright red but can come in various shades of brown, individuals vary considerably with fin appendages and spines.Be very careful when handling as these fish have toxins in their fin spines which can be very painful for hours if you are spiked. Can grow to 40cm. Habitat: Most commonly found around the coast of N.Z. on rocky reefs from 5 – 100 metres. Temperament: Predatory. Tank Age/Maturity: 300 litres and at least six months. Diet: Eats fish and invertebrates that will fit into its large mouth. Hard to wean on to frozen or dead food as its hunting tactic is to lie motionless on the bottom and wait for food to pass by. Special Requirements: Live foods until acclimatised. Be very careful when handling as these fish have toxins in their fin spines which can be very painful for hours if you are spiked


Dwarf Scorpionfish Scorpaena papillosa

Description: Smaller than Northern Scorpionfish Usually bright red but can come in various shades of brown, individuals vary considerably with fin appendages and spines.Be very careful when handling as these fish have toxins in their fin spines which can be very painful for hours if you are spiked. Can grow to 25cm. Habitat: Most commonly found around the coast of N.Z. on rocky reefs from 5 – 100 metres. It can be found on rocky bottoms, in shallow estuaries, in muddy waters as well as other environments, such as in offshore kelp beds and shallow seagrass beds. Juveniles of this species are sometimes found in large rock pools. Temperament: Predatory. Tank Age/Maturity: 300 litres and at least six months. Diet: Eats fish and invertebrates that will fit into its large mouth. Hard to wean on to frozen or dead food as its hunting tactic is to lie motionless on the bottom and wait for food to pass by. Special Requirements: Live foods until acclimatised. Be very careful when handling as these fish have toxins in their fin spines which can be very painful for hours if you are spiked


Sea Perch Helicolenus percoides (Red gurnard perch)

Pic by Ian Skipworth Wiki commons. Description: This fish can be recognised by its usually orangish red colour with two branched bands laterally and small dark spots on the head, notched dorsal fin, large pectoral fins and its colouration. Can grow to 30cm. Habitat: Most commonly found around the coast of N.Z. on rocky reefs from 5 – 100 metres. Temperament: Predatory if it fits in its mouth it will be eaten. Tank Age/Maturity: 300 litres and at least six months. Diet: Eats fish and invertebrates that will fit into its large mouth. Hard to wean on to frozen or dead food as its hunting tactic is to lie motionless on the bottom and wait for food to pass by Special Requirements: Live foods until acclimatised. Be very careful when handling as these fish have toxins in their fin spines which can be very painful for hours if you are spiked


Spotty, Paketi Notolabrus celidotus

Description: The Spotty is a typical elongate wrasse shape. It has a protruding mouth with noticeable teeth. The body is a creamy colour with brown flecks over it and a large black spot on each side. This fish changes colour and sex as they grow. Initially very small juveniles can be green or red but soon lose this in an aquarium. Large females can change sex into a brilliantly coloured terminal male pase with blue lines on their heads. Males dominate several females. Size: 23.9cm Habitat: Inhabits shallow water all around N.Z., but may reach to depths of 15 m. Temperament: Easy, tolerate poor water conditions. Good starter fish but be warned hard to catch out later as it outcompetes slower fish. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least 4 weeks old. Diet: Spotties feed on a variety of invertebrates, hermit and other crabs, molluscs, and echinoderms, will eat anything you feed it. Special Requirements: Spotties tolerate poor water conditions and are easy to keep. They will eat almost anything offered and outcompete slower fish, they can be impossible to catch out of your tank without removing all the rockwork. A good starter fish but can rapidly become annoying, young fish up to 3cm can be netted amongst seaweed in shallow water from October onwards they can be red or green but quickly lose this in the tank. Not recommended.


Sweep Scorpis lineolatus

Description: Identical to Blue Maomao but gray as an adult, silver with red spots on belly as a youngster. Size: 25 - 35cm Habitat: Found inshore, near rocky reefs to 100m. Fry caught early summer around weedy rocks and wharves Temperament: A peaceful fish in a tank.easy to keep and recommended in a large enough tank. When young best in a school. Tank Age/Maturity: Minimum 400 litres and 6 months old Diet: Eats everything really, especially mysid and minced tuatua, but happy on flakes. Special Requirements: Need room to swim,

Endemic: N/A


Tarakihi Nemadactylus Macropterus

Description: Silvery fish with black mark behind head, rubbery lips and large pectoral fins. Can weigh up to 3kg and grows up to 60cm. Habitat: Usually found offshore around N.Z. over reefs and sandy bottoms to 50 metres Temperament: A peaceful fish. Tank Age/Maturity: 1000 litres and at least six months. Diet: : Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans etc., so readily accepts all foods. A NewZealand Fisheries Quota fish (minimum legal size) so need a big tank to start with. Special Requirements: Good clean water and plenty of space to swim.


Wrasse - Banded Pseudolabrus fucicola

Description: It is a typical wrasse shape with the body coloured in alternate green and yellow-brown bars running in wide vertical bands along its length. Young fish start off a reddish brown colour and get more green-brown with yellow bars on their flanks. Adult Males are very similar in appearance but the bands are a darker purplish colour.Size: 60cm. Habitat: Found off the east coast of Northland in New Zealand, in weedy reef areas at depths of between 10 and 30 m. Temperament: A peaceful fish in a mixed tank. Can be aggressive towards its own species as they grow. Tank Age/Maturity: 1000 litres preferably. Diet: feed on a variety of invertebrates, hermit and other crabs, molluscs, and echinoderms will graze the rocks in the tank. Special Requirements: Easy to keep, feeds on a variety of foods readily. This is an energetic fish that loves to show off, friendly with all other tankmates, note these will eat and attack any shrimp or crabs.


Wrasse - Orange Pseudolabrus luculentus

Description: This fish goes through different colour phases depending on their age and sex, It’s colours are highly variable from grey to brown to bright orange and red-brown. Males have black and white splotching on their backs, females have several white lines under their eyes, but lack the blotches seen in males. Size: 40 60cm Habitat: Found around New Zealand including the Kermadec Islands over rocky reefs at depths up to 50m. Temperament: Predatory if it fits in its mouth it will be eaten.Can be aggressive especially with conspecifics. Tank Age/Maturity: 400 litres preferably larger at least 3 months old. Diet: Feeds mainly on small benthic invertebrates like ophiuroids, chitons, amphipods, and small gastropods. Will eat anything you feed it once acclimatised Special Requirements: Need room to swim,


Scarlet Wrasse Pseudolabrus miles

Description: an elongate fish of typical wrasse shape, young fish have a red head and horizontal reddish and white lines on their sides, with three pale orangish spots at the base of the dorsal fin. The tail is orange with a black vertical bar at its base. Older males have a bright red body, yellow flanks and belly and a prominent white patch behind the head. Size: 20 - 40cm Habitat: Found around New Zealand in deeper offshore reefs areas at depths of between 5 and 100 metres. Temperament: Can be aggressive. Tank Age/Maturity: 1000 litres preferably larger as it can be aggressive to its own species when larger. Diet: Scarlet wrasses feed on a variety of invertebrates, hermit and other crabs, molluscs, and echinoderms Will eat anything you feed it. Special Requirements: Not recommended, beautiful but very aggressive fish, very easy to keep but only suited to a very large tank with other large fish not of the wrasse family. Would attack and nip fins of all fish, very territorial but friendly not shy.


Triplefin - Blue Dot Notoclinops Caerulepunctus

Description: Yellow orange head covered with large bright red spots back as far as the first dorsal fin. Upper half of body is a series of dark blue-black square areas, with an iridescent blue spot joining between each square. Smallest triple fin in NZ. Grows to about 5cm. Habitat: Usually found in reef areas of broken rock. From rock pools and sub-tidal areas down to 30 metres around the eastern side of the Upper North Island. Temperament: Peaceful. Tank Age/Maturity: Mature tank at least 6 months and a minimum of 100 litres. Diet: Require live food as in the wild they feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods. In the aquarium they can be fed on mysid shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, whiteworms and hatched brineshrimp. Will also remove parasites from large fish. Special Requirements: Keep only in a mature cycled aquarium. Must have moderate to gentle currents as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods .Easily outcompeted for food by faster fish but do well with other less hardy triplefins, weedfish, pipefish and seahorses. Endemic: Yes


Triplefin - Oblique-Swimming Obliquichthys maryannae

Description: The body is orange-brown with a red tinged head, a black eye and a wide black lengthwise stripe on each side. Size: 8cm. The only triplefins to spend most of their time swimming in loose schools, rarely resting on the bottom. Their common name comes from swimming at a slight upwards angle. Habitat: found along the north east coast of the North Island of New Zealand from depths of about 5 m to 50 m. Usually inhabiting sheltered coastlines amongst seaweeds around rocky outcroppings. Temperament: Peaceful and timid. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least 12 months old. Diet: Oblique-swimming triplefins are plankton feeders taking their tiny copepod and euphausid crustacean food in mid-water., so require live food in the form of Brine shrimp etc. Special Requirements: They don’t have a swim bladder though so have to keep on the move. They settle down at lights out and hide in the live rock. unfortunately they are a bit vulnerable as they emerge in the morning to school up.. Easily out competed for food by faster fish, does well with Weed fish and seahorses


Triplefin - Blue-eyed Notoclinops Segmentatus

Description: Small triplefin with striking colours. Black vertical stripes on a white body with reddish fins. Gets its name from its bright blue eyes. Grows to 6cm. Habitat: Found around the coastline in rock pools and to depths of about three metres. Common around the upper North Island. Temperament: Peaceful and timid. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old but preferably longer to establish a good Pod population. Diet: Can be difficult to get to eat. Supply live food, either pods in the tank or grown separately. Will sometimes eat bloodworm, brine shrimp, pods from the rock and maybe flake food. Special Requirements: Newly caught fish require live food until weaned on to other foods Large aggressive fish (who will eat them). Intimidated by larger more aggressive triplefins. Best kept with seahorses & pipefish. Endemic: Yes


Triplefin - Common Forsterygion lapillum

Pic by Ian Skipworth (commons) Description: A small fish with a changeable appearance but usually light grey to brown mottled pattern with stripe down its side. Grows to 8cm. Habitat: All types of habitat round NZ coastline down to 15 metres. Temperament: Generally peaceful but can be very territorial during breeding season October to February. Tank Age/Maturity: 6 months 200 litres minimum Diet: Any meaty foods. Special Requirements: None but may be eatenby larger predatory fish. Endemic: Yes Aquarium Suitability: Very suitable as first fish once tank has cycled, a hardy bottom dweller in the aquarium,


Triplefin - Mottled Twister Bellapiscis lesleyae

Description: Mottled Twister are small fish that enliven the tank, they are a mottled pattern of dark and light with speckling of red on their backs. It length is up to 6 cm. Habitat: This triplefin is commonly found around the coast of New Zealand in rock pools and down to depths of about 5 m in reef areas of broken rock. Temperament: Peaceful, easy to keep and recommended in a large enough tank. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least 6 months old Diet: Readily accept all foods; live and frozen pods, mysid shrimp, raw mussel, prawn Special Requirements: A well maintained tank with green algae is required Incompatible with large aggressive fish (who will eat them) and other blennies (keep only one per tank)


Triplefin - Spectacled Ruanoho whero

Pic by Ian Skipworth.

Description:: The spectacled triplefin is the only species in the genus Ruanoho. It's head is flattened with large eyes surrounded by a dark band giving rise to its common name. The head and fins have a pattern of fine blue lines. Its large pectoral fins are used as props when resting on the bottom where it spends most of its time.In the breeding season in winter and spring the males become darker, with a blue/black head and black first dorsal fin, and dark bars on the body. Grows to between 4 to 8 cm. Habitat: It is commonly found around New Zealand from depths of a few metres to about 30m, most common in reef areas of broken rock. Temperament: Peaceful, Easy to keep in a mature system if you can supply live foods. Tank Age/Maturity: 4 Months and at least 100 litres. Special Requirements: This fish will require live food to get established to tank life easily out competed for food by more aggressive fish.


Triplefin - Variable Forsterygion varium

Description: Variable triplefin are small fish that enliven the tank. They are a mottled red brown colour with seven different coloured saddles on their backs. Breeding males have a bright blue tip on their fins.Size: 12cm Habitat: They are found around the coastline in rock pools and to depths of about 30 metres. Temperament: Usually peaceful, but will compete with their own species over territory. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least 6 months old. Diet: Readily accept all foods both live and frozen Pods, mysid, raw mussel, prawn and flake foods, will also graze green algae. Special Requirements: Large aggressive fish (who will eat them) Can be aggressive towards other triplefins and same species.


Triplefin - Yaldwins Notoclinops Yaldwyni.

Description: Stunning coloured triplefin. The male ranges from bright orange fading to yellow, the female is duller but has a lovely spotted pattern. Habitat: Found around coastal reefs and offshore islands in the north of N.Z. Temperament: Peaceful Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least 12 months old Diet: Feed on frozen food, blood worms and mysid shrimp to begin with then slowly add flake to their diet Threatened Species: N/A Special Requirements: A difficult fish, only suited for mature, peaceful tanks • Incompatible with large boisterous fish, best kept with seahorses, pipefish etc Endemic: Yes


Triplefin - Yellow-and-Black Forsterygion Flavonigrum

Description: Typical triplefin shape with Black head and tail, while the rest of the body is bright yellow. Habitat: Usually found around the north of the North Island of N.Z. at depths of between 15 – 30 metres, in reef areas of broken rock. Size: 7cm. Temperament: Peaceful. Tank Age/Maturity: Minimum 100 litres and 6 months old. Diet: Require live food as in the wild they feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods. In the aquarium they can be fed on mysid shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, whiteworms and hatched brineshrimp. Will also remove parasites from large fish Special Requirements: Keep only in a mature, cycled aquarium, easily outcompeted for food by faster fish but do well with other less hard triplefins, weedfish, pipefish and seahorses Endemic: Yes


Crested Blenny. Parablennius Laticlavius

Description; An almost white body with a black lateral line often cnfused with the Variable Triplefin but the blenny as two yellow eyebrows that form a crest. An endearing little fish that lurks in rockwork and grazes algae from its surface. Often found with just their heads protruding from a favourite hole. Habitat: Found around the coastline in rock pools and to depths of about three metres. Temperament: Can be bossy with its own species and other triplefins. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres minium at least months old. Diet: Readily accept all foods; live and frozen pods, mysid shrimp, raw mussel, prawn and flake foods and will graze green algae Special Requirements: A well maintained tank with green algae is required Incompatible with large aggressive fish (who will eat them) and other blennies (keep only one per tank)


Wide bodied Pipefish Stigmatopora nigra

Description: Body slender and snout elongate a slender tail without a fin. The body widens out and looks flattened in females, males are more slender with a brood pouch on the underside of the tail immediately behind the anal fin. No tail fin. Grows to 16.2 cm. Habitat: Usually found inhabiting harbours and sheltered coastlines amongst seaweeds around rocky areas in fairly shallow water, can be found in deeper waters as well. They are more active at dusk and night than in the daytime spending most of the day anchored by their tail to rocks or weed. Temperament: A peaceful fish Minimun Tank Size: 100 litres preferably larger. Tank Age / Maturity: At least 6 months Diet: Pipefish feed on small crustaceans, such as amphipods and shrimp, which are sucked into their tube-like snouts and ingested whole, in the aquarium they can be fed on live mysid Shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia and whiteworms (very fatty) also frozen foods such as mysid and brineshrimp Special Requirements: Pipefish should only be kept in a mature, cycled marine aquarium. Their tank must have gentle to moderate currents for them as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to be able to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods Incompatibilities: Easily out competed for food by faster fish, does well with Weed fish and seahorses.


Long Snout Pipefish Stigmatophora macropterygia

Description: Long thin pencilfish with a long dorsal fin used for propulsion and a slender long tail that lacks a fin. Grows to 22cm. Habitat: Usually found inhabiting harbours and sheltered coastlines amongst seaweeds around rocky areas in fairly shallow water, can be found in deeper waters as well. They are more active at dusk and night than in the daytime spending most of the day anchored by their tail to rocks or weed. Temperament: Peaceful, Easy to keep in a mature system if you can supply live foods. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old Preferably longer to establish a Pd population Diet: Pipefish feed on small crustaceans, such as amphipods and shrimp, which are sucked into their tube-like snouts and ingested whole, in the aquarium they can be fed on live mysid Shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia and whiteworms (very fatty) also frozen foods such as mysid and brineshrimp Special Requirements: Easily out competed for food by faster fish, does well with Weed fish and seahorses.Pipefish should only be kept in a mature, cycled marine aquarium. Their tank must have gentle to moderate currents for them as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to be able to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods


Common Weedfish Heteroclinus Perspicillatus

Description: Body slender and flat with clear fin membrane patches, the colour is variable, with about seven broken bars extending onto dorsal and anal fins; a black bar from below eye to upper jaw. Size: 20cm. Habitat: Usually found amongst rocks, seagrass and algae in bays, tidepools and along the coast in depths of 0 – 10 metres. Temperament: Peaceful. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old Preferably longer to establish a Pod population. Diet: Require live food as in the wild they feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods. In a tank they can be fed on live mysid shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, whiteworms and hatched brine shrimp. Special Requirements: Keep only in a mature cycled aquarium. Must have moderate to gentle currents as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods .Easily outcompeted for food by faster fish but do well with other less hardy triplefins, weedfish, pipefish and seahorses.


Crested Weedfish Cristiceps Aurantiacus

Description: Resembles a piece of seaweed with a large crest on its forehead. Its body is long, slender and very flat. The colour can be mottled, reddish-brown to green or yellow. There is usually a distinct dark oblique bar from eye to rear of mouth. Size: 18cm. Habitat: Found around New Zealand in rock pools and to depths of 10 metres, usually amongst rock areas of seaweed. Temperament: Peaceful. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old. Preferably longer to establish a Pod population. Diet: Their food in the wild is small crustaceans and larval fish, so live food is a must. Daphnia and mosquito larvae will be eaten. Special Requirements: Require live foods as hard to wean on to frozen food. Easily outcompeted for food by faster fish, does well with seahorses and pipefish


Longnose Weedfish Heteroclinus Tristis

Description: Compressed body, very long snout which is pointed. First dorsal fin is tall, short based and arises just behind the eyes. Colour varies from reddish to brown, usually with complex markings. Grows to 30cm. Habitat: Found around New Zealand in rock pools and to depths of 10 metres, usually amongst rock areas of seaweed. Temperament: Peaceful. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old. Preferably longer to establish a Pd population. Diet: Require live food as in the wild they feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods. In the aquarium they can be fed on mysid shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, whiteworms and hatched brineshrimp. Will also remove parasites from large fish. Special Requirements: Keep only in a mature cycled aquarium. Must have moderate to gentle currents as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods .Easily outcompeted for food by faster fish but do well with other less hardy triplefins, weedfish, pipefish and seahorses.


Orange clinid Ericentrus rubrus

Description: Body orangey brown with variegated markings, white stripe on forehead. The body is flattened to resemble a piece of seaweed. Grows to 10.5 cm. Habitat: Usually found inhabiting harbours and sheltered coastlines amongst seaweeds around rocky areas in fairly shallow water, Occurs in rock pools and subtidal area down to 30 m. Usually found living on brown algae (Carpophyllumand Cystophora). Temperament: Peaceful, Easy to keep in a mature system if you can supply live foods. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old Preferably longer to establish a Pod population. Diet: They need live food as they feed on small crustaceans, such as amphipods, in the aquarium they can be fed on live mysid Shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia and whiteworms (very fatty) and hatched brineshrimp. Special Requirements: Weedfish should only be kept in a mature, cycled marine aquarium. Their tank must have gentle to moderate currents for them as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to be able to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods, Easily out competed for food by faster fish, does well with other Weed fish, pipefish and seahorses.


Rosy Weedfish Heteroclinus Roseus

Description: Body is orangey brown with variegated markings. Fins have translucent patches that resemble holes in seaweeds. The body is flattened to resemble a piece of seaweed. Size: 10.5cm. Habitat: Usually found inhabiting harbours and sheltered coastlines amongst seaweeds around rocky areas in fairly shallow water. Occurs in rock pools and sub tidal areas down to 30 metres. Temperament: Peaceful. Tank Age/Maturity: 100 litres At least six months old Preferably longer to establish a Pod population. Diet: Require live food as in the wild they feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods. In the aquarium they can be fed on mysid shrimp, mosquito wrigglers, daphnia, whiteworms and hatched brineshrimp. Will also remove parasites from large fish. Special Requirements: Keep only in a mature cycled aquarium. Must have moderate to gentle currents as they are not strong swimmers and to enable them to feed properly. Very hard to get to accept frozen foods .Easily outcompeted for food by faster fish but do well with other less hardy triplefins, weedfish, pipefish and seahorses


Anemones Sea anemones are a group of marine, predatory animals that are named after the Anemone, a terrestrial flowering plant, because of the colourful appearance of many. As they are usually stationary sea anemones are dependant on food swept towards them by currents of water which is ingested into their mouth, that serves for taking in food and ejecting waste products. The stomach is directly below the mouth and in the centre of its fleshy foot, they feed on any small fishes, shrimps, and shellfish which come within range of the tentacles, they use the tentacles to ensnare and sting their victims preparatory to swallowing them whole, later spitting out the bits they can't digest. You need to be careful when adding to the aquarium as they have the ablity to eat some prized possessions, some like the Jewel Anemone need food such as phytoplankton to survive whereas the Giant Shore Anemone can take a large fish or crab. Anemones can be scraped off the rock or dug out of a sand bed but be careful not to puncture the stomach or they will die. Giant Shore Anemone Oulactis magna

Habitat: Usually found in the tidal zone between rocks or in deepsand beds. Diet: Fish or crustaceans that wander into it are stung and consumed, needs feeding weekly.

Waratah Anemone Actinia tenebrosa

Habitat: Usually found in rockpools in the tidal zone. Diet: Fish or crustaceans that wander into it are stung and consumed, needs feeding weekly.


Jewel Anemone Corynactis australis

Habitat: Usually found below the tidal zone. Diet: Phytoplanktons, crushed mussel, cyclopeeze, needs feeding weekly.

White Striped Anemone Anthothoe albocincta

Pic by Graham Bould. Habitat: Usually found in rockpools in the tidal zone. Diet: Fish or crustaceans that wander into it are stung and consumed, can become invasive in the tank.

Wandering Sea Anemone Phlyctenactis tuberculosa

Pic by Anna Barnett. Habitat: Usually found in rockpools in the tidal zone. Diet: Fish or crustaceans that wander into it are stung and consumed, very hard to sustain.. Speckled Camouflage Anemone Oulactis muscosa

Pic by Toby Hudson. Habitat: Usually found in the tidal zone between rocks or in deepsand beds. Diet: Fish or crustaceans that wander into it are stung and consumed, needs feeding weekly.

Guide to keeping N.Z. local marine life  

A Guide to keeping New Zealand local marine life in an aquarium, with some care tips on different species that can be kept.

Guide to keeping N.Z. local marine life  

A Guide to keeping New Zealand local marine life in an aquarium, with some care tips on different species that can be kept.

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