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Apogon Reef Leonardo den Breejen is the owner of Leonardo’s Reef, a custom aquarium manufacturer in The Netherlands and Shenzen, China. He is also an active blogger on his website ( Leonardo’s latest creation, Apogon Reef, is a beautifully understated reef tank. Join him for a review of the evolution and final incarnation of this dream reef.


Get your feet wet! Introducing marine breeding Kelan Larson is a beginner breeder from Missoula, Montana, who believes that with clear instructions, marine breeding can be easy enough that even a beginner can do it! Have you ever considered breeding and raising clownfish? It’s easier than you might think! Here, Kelan shows us the basic setup required and details the step by step process involved, from the establishment of broodstock pairs through the raising of their offspring.


fourth QUARTER 2012 | Volume 6 Copyright© 2012 Reef Hobbyist Magazine. All rights reserved.

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on the cover

chingchai’s exquisite reef Chingchai Uekrongtham, a founding member and the treasurer of the Siam Reef Club, has excited the global reefing community by showcasing the positive results of detailed planning. In a recent trip to Thailand, Reef Hobbyist Magazine was privileged to be invited to tour this exquisite tank and speak with its creator. Here, we will share a small piece of Thailand’s reefing scene with our readers.


quarantine & acclimation – the fishy medicine cabinet Mindy van Leur has been a reef hobbyist for almost 20 years and currently keeps a 90 gallon SPS dominated reef. Many hobbyists fail to appreciate the importance of proper quarantine until it’s too late. In this article, Mindy walks us through the setup of quarantine tanks and reviews the medications she keeps in her fishy medicine cabinet to prevent or control disease outbreaks.


a regal spawn Darren Nancarrow is an Australian fish breeder who provides 10 species of clownfish to the Australian market. In this first of a two part series, Darren describes his process of discovery in breeding the Regal Tang. Previously believed to be unable to successfully spawn in the home aquarium, Darren’s tangs prove the point that our knowledge keeps moving forward while myths are left behind.


awesome possums Adam Mullins is a professional aquarist from southern California and an owner of The Mystic Reef in Riverside, California. The wrasses of the genus Wetmorella are known commonly as the possum wrasses. In this review of the genus, Adam shares his personal experience with this cryptic but fascinating group of fishes and offers recommendations for their captive care.

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comments or suggestions?

leonardo den breejen

apogon reef


y passion for underwater life started early, approximately when I was 4 years of age. We had several old aquariums in the garden which I filled with animals and plants that I collected from nearby ponds and lakes. At the age of 5, I started

my first tropical freshwater aquarium. I constantly upgraded to larger tanks until I started my first marine aquarium at the age of 16. It contained several leather corals, star polyps, Zoanthus sp., a Scopas Tang, and some wrasses.

But after 2 years of keeping a marine aquarium, I gave up the hobby for other things, only to return at the age of 21 when I decided it was time for a new reef tank. One of the things I loved about reef keeping was the constant learning experience. The knowledge gained from my own and others’ successes and failures was invaluable. I spent more than 1½ years researching and reading to make sure my next tank would be exactly as I would like it. The result was my first Acropora reef tank, the Formosa Forest. After having the Formosa Forest for 2 years, I experimented with several tanks and setups, with Apogon Reef as the result. The idea was to have a reef tank with many Apogon fish species hiding in and between large Acropora colonies. I spent a whole year collecting Acropora colonies and frags and aquascaping the tank before achieving the result I was after.


Aquarium Profile Display Tank Dimensions: 43" x 34" x 22" high

The first of many Cardinal fish. More will be added gradually over time.

Display Tank Volume: 135 gallons Sump: 20 gallons Skimmer: Bubble King Super Marine 250 Return Pump: Eheim 1262 Water Movement: (2) Tunze Turbelle Stream 6301â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on a multi-controller Flow rate: 2,377 to 7,925 gallons/hour Lighting: 10 x 39 Watt T5 using ATI Sunpower pendants Calcium/Alk: Grotech TEC III dosing computer using Fauna Marin Balling-Light Water: RO/DI 25GPD membrane, dual DI resin, <0.2 TDS

Lighting 5x ATI Blue Plus 2x ATI Purple Plus 2x Arcadia Actinic 1x ATI Aquablue Special I believe lighting photo period is one of the most important considerations as far as coral color and growth is concerned. In my opinion, many hobbyists light their corals for too long a photo period. Too much light slows growth and results in a reduction of coral color. The corals in my display tank were grown from frags with a 6 hourper-day photo period under T5 lighting. With this arrangement, I have found coral growth to be consistent and rapid enough that I can take frags from my colonies frequently. I chose to use more T5â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on the blue end of the spectrum because of the large number 10 x T5 in ATI Sunpower pendants, very close to the water surface.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


A side view of Apogon Reef.

of deep water Acropora table corals I keep which are adapted to this light. An advantage of the T5 lighting is that there are fewer shadows, resulting in the illumination of more coral tissue and better color development. Since the lights put out relatively little heat, a chiller is not required for this system. I’m thinking about changing the lighting to LED since I’ve seen positive results in my customers’ tanks. I believe two or three multichip wide-spectrum LED spotlights can provide sufficient light for my setup, and that will be an upgrade in the near future.


Water circulation is another important consideration in a reef tank. Proper circulation provides oxygen to all living organisms and keeps the detritus suspended in the water column. This creates a valuable food source for sponges, tunicates, feather dusters, and of course, corals. I have a bare bottom tank, and using no substrate allows me to achieve higher flow in the display. The flow is provided by two Tunze 6301 pumps, pulsing 30-50% every 8 seconds, creating a strong and random flow throughout the tank. The return pump also creates a good amount of flow.

Filtration and Water Quality

I have found a key component of successfully growing SPS corals is keeping alkalinity (Alk) stable. If you are new to the hobby and are considering keeping SPS corals, I cannot stress the importance of this enough. It is crucial for me to keep a close watch on my alkalinity. In fact, to ensure stability, I test alkalinity daily. I once had my Balling doser offline for 5 hours and my alkalinity dropped from 3.5 meq/l to 3.0 meq/l. Calcium and alkalinity supplements are being dosed in my tank every hour. In my opinion, it is very easy to determine the dosing rate for these two parameters. Simply measure the water parameters to determine the corals’ daily demand for calcium and alkalinity supplementation and calibrate the dosing pumps accordingly.


This method guarantees 100% stability and above all, peace of mind. Any changes in demand can be adjusted for quickly and easily. Preparing the Balling solutions is no problem either; I use 10 liter containers so I can forget about it for some time. Refilling the Balling reservoirs is done every 2 weeks. One important type of chemical filtration that I employ is carbon in the overflow (two ½ liter bags). Every month, I change out the carbon in one of the bags. For me, this is absolutely necessary; it purifies water by binding toxins and organic substances that color the water. Using activated carbon increases light penetration and raises the redox potential (ORP) level as well. I also run 500 grams of Seachem Phosguard in a Phosban Reactor and change it out every month. I’ve found that if I go longer than a month, my phosphates start to creep up so I make it a point to stay on that schedule. In my sump, I run a Bubble King Super Marine 250 Skimmer skimming wet, and I’m very happy with its performance. I’ve used D-D H20cean Pro+ salt from day one in this setup, and since it’s worked well for me, I haven’t tried anything else. I believe consistency is an important factor in order for corals to thrive, so I try not to ever change anything on my system unnecessarily. I guess you could consider my reef keeping style pretty old-school, since I don’t add many supplements or chemicals to the tank. I prefer to stay with tried and true methods. I typically do a 10% water change every week. Two Tunze 6301’s create the necessary flow to keep detritus suspended.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


Water Parameters

Acropora suharsonoi.

Specific Gravity: 1.026 pH: 7.9 - 8.1 Calcium: 430 ppm Alkalinity: 7-8 dKH Nitrate: < .5 ppm Phosphate: 0.02 ppm Magnesium: 1,350 ppm Temperature: 79 to 81 F

Tank Maintenance

The daily maintenance consists of checking the equipment, temperature, and feeding/checking the inhabitants. I check to make sure all the inhabitants are there and that their behavior is normal. I clean the skimmer when the cup is full, usually every 3-4 days. I clean the glass with a Mag Float daily since doing so helps reduce scraping time and keeps the corals from touching the glass.

Acropora sp.


The look of Apogon Reef is mainly determined by my true love for SPS corals. From the very beginning, I was delighted at their variety of forms, shapes, and colors. Those features provide unlimited possibilities for aquascaping. I have always wanted to own a tank that would create an understated impression despite the large size of mature SPS colonies. For me, the best style of aquascaping is when people form minimal and balanced compositions. That is why I used a small amount of live rock to achieve an entirely spatial look. It is quite similar to bonsai art and the Amano-style freshwater aquascaping. It is very hard to definitively identify coral species. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why I only mention the genus of the SPS. In Apogon Reef, I have Acropora, Montipora, Stylophora, Pocillopora, and Seriatopora corals. All of them have been grown from frags. I focused mainly on deepwater Acropora table corals. The lower parts of the tank are dedicated to some colorful LPS corals. In the future, I want to add some more staghorn corals to give the coralscape more height. I also want to add some movement by acquiring some Goniopora corals. Most Goniopora species wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t survive well in SPS dominated tanks, but there are a few that can. The main fish in this tank are Cardinal fish (Apogon species). Cardinals are nocturnal, carnivorous fish, but when established in an aquarium, they will become more active during


Acropora sp.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


the day. Their large eyes are a clear sign of their seminocturnal life. Because they are carnivorous fish, they have to be fed with meaty foods like Artemia, Mysis or even krill. I feed OSI Spirulina Pellets and PE Mysis twice every day, but not more than my fish can consume within 3 minutes at each feeding. Once they are acclimated to life in captivity, they will also accept flake and granular foods. I think it is better for the fish to eat smaller quantities of food more often. In nature, they eat small quantities during the whole day, and if possible, you want to simulate that. Because Cardinal fish are small (probably tasty) fish, they are prey for many larger carnivorous fish on the reef. That’s why they tend to be shy and like to have a hideout within a short distance. Large, branching SPS colonies or nooks and crannies between rocks can provide enough shelter to make these fish feel comfortable. After some time in a tank, Cardinals will start to swim more in the open and hide less often. An advantage of the schooling Cardinal species over other schooling fish is that they will stay shy enough to continue to form a tight school, even after years in the aquarium. That’s why I prefer these fish over Chromis species, for example. Other inhabitants in the display are some cleaning and peppermint shrimps and about 20 turbo snails to keep the live rock clear of algae. Thank you for reading my article on Apogon Reef; for more information about Leonardo’s Reef, Apogon Reef, or my blog, go to Apogon Reef.


Serranus tortugarum.

Zoramia leptacantha.

kelan larson

get your feet wet! introductory marine breeding


uccessfully breeding and raising your own marine fish is one of the great challenges that our hobby has to offer. While many are intrigued by this

process, only a small number of hobbyists have tried it. I am here to show you from start to finish how easy it is to begin breeding the classic beginner breederâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fish: the clownfish. Please understand that this is only one approach to breeding. Just like other aspects of the reefing hobby, there are a myriad of ways to accomplish the same result.

Clownfish are protandrous hermaphrodites, meaning they all start out as non-functional males until there is a decidedly dominant fish. That fish will become the female while another will transform into a functional male. There is a fascinating interaction that takes place during the determination of dominance. Displays of aggression, such as fin nipping and chasing, will be commonplace until one surrenders and accepts the other as dominant. This is done by turning perpendicular to the attacker and quivering, as if having a seizure. Eventually, the female will grow several times larger than the male. At this point, you will have a bonded pair. For beginners who are ready to get their feet wet, the equipment needed is fairly minimal. A broodstock tank will house your breeding adult pair. In my case, I used a 24 gallon tank. Adding a ceramic tile or clay pot to this tank will make removing eggs easy. Next, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll need a larval tank in which to transfer the eggs for hatching. The most common size is a standard 10 gallon tank with


My broodstock in their reef tank. This picture shows the basic equipment needed for a larval tank: a small tank, seeded sponge filter, heater, and moderate light source.

a seeded sponge filter, heater, and a moderate light source. Some people like to paint the bottom of the larval tank white and the sides and back black to increase the visibility of food for the fry. Although not required, a growout tank (usually 20 gallons or more) to move the first batch into is nice when your next batch is on its way. There are a few things you can do to encourage your new pair to start spawning. First and foremost, make sure they are in a stress free environment (no aggressive tankmates!). Feed them a high quality food three times a day or more to minimize time until breeding. Increasing the broodstock tankâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s temperature to around 80°F seems to help as well. Other than these tips, it is a waiting game. Keep your fish happy and well-fed, and they should start spawning as soon as they are old enough to breed. Continuous cleaning of the tile or pot is a good sign that your clowns are deciding on the best spot to lay their clutch of eggs. Eventually, the female will become gravid with eggs, and within the next few days, spawning will occur. On the day prior to spawning, a small tube, called the ovipositor, will descend from in front of the femaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anal fin. This is what the eggs will travel down to be deposited onto the chosen nesting site. The female will travel back and forth depositing eggs while the male will follow behind to fertilize. They continue this process until all the eggs have been laid. The entire spawning event can take up to 3 hours. The male and female have different but vital roles in egg development. The male tends to the eggs by creating water motion over them to keep algae and bacteria from growing. The female will usually stand guard and protect the nest. The incubation period for most clownfish lasts between 6 and 8 days, depending on temperature and species. Remember, the higher the tank temperature, the faster the metabolism. The eggs start out bright orange and will darken considerably as they mature. In the final days, the eggs will take on a shiny silver color due to the emergence of developing eyes. This would be an optimal time to transfer the eggs to your larval tank. Use water from the broodstock A female standing guard while the male tends to the eggs.

tank to fill up the larval tank halfway, and make sure to heat the larval tank to the same temperature as the broodstock tank. An airstone should be placed under the eggs at a slow bubble, just enough to allow the eggs to move slightly. On one of the next few nights, roughly an hour after the lights over the larval tank are shut off, the eggs will begin to hatch and you will have baby clownfish fry!

A pair of clownfish with bright orange (newly laid) eggs.

These eggs are almost ready to hatch, evidenced by the silver eyes visible through the eggs.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


Once your clowns have started spawning, acquiring a food source for your fry is essential. Rotifers are the staple food supply for breeding in general because they are relatively easy to start culturing. If you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find a local hobbyist that will give you some, APBreed sells a rotifer starter kit that I really like. A basic rotifer setup requires a 5 gallon food-safe bucket, an airstone, and microalgae. Aerated, room temperature saltwater at 20-25ppt will suffice for this culture. Once your starter culture is temperature acclimated to your fresh saltwater, add it to your bucket along with enough microalgae to tint the water a light shade of green. While it is commonplace for people to culture their own phytoplankton to feed rotifers, more and more breeders are moving towards frozen and refrigerated microalgae products for their enrichment qualities and cost effectiveness. The aforementioned starter kit comes with a bottle of RGComplete, a microalgal-based rotifer food. Daily feedings to keep the water color consistent will keep your


A simple rotifer culture setup.

A growout tank full of baby clowns!

This clownfish is tending to a new batch of eggs.

culture dense and healthy. Harvesting your rotifers is easy. Turn off your airstone for a few minutes to allow the rotifers to come to the surface and detritus to settle to the bottom. Scoop out what you need and replace with fresh saltwater. Rotifers will only be needed for about 10 days after the fry have hatched. You will then need to transition the fry to other foods. I highly recommend purchasing the APBreed TDO Hobbyist Breeder Pack. It contains several sizes of Top Dressed Otohime so you can increase the size of food as your fish grow. For the first few days, the larvae will still be feeding off of their yolk sacs, but it is extremely important to start adding your freshly harvested rotifers to the larval tank. This will encourage the larvae to start hunting for their food. At this point, the clownfish eyes are still developing, and their depth of field perception is very limited. To increase their chances of finding food, you need to keep the density of rotifers in the tank fairly high. Too low of a rotifer density and the larvae will starve; but too high of a density will cause oxygen depletion. Finding that happy medium may take some trial and error. Adding RotiGreen Omega to keep the larval tank a light green tint will allow the rotifers to stay alive and be seen more easily by the fry.

Here, we see eggs just before eyes develop.

After the fifth day, start adding some Otohime A with your rotifers. The objective is to accustom the fry to eating a prepared food. Around the 7th to 9th day, metamorphosis will take place. This means that the fry will start to display some orange coloration, and the recognizable white banding will become pronounced. Usually a head band will be the first to show. Once all the fry are eating Otohime A, you can stop adding the rotifers and add your seeded sponge filter. As your baby clownfish grow, slowly increase the size of food. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s it! It may seem like a daunting task at first but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let that discourage you. I have done my best to break down each step and keep things as simple as possible. Marine breeding is in its infancy, and new breakthroughs are being reported on a regular basis. Right now is the time to get involved in the community. Become part of something much larger than just breeding. Captive bred fish are a major step towards a healthier, more sustainable hobby. Happy breeding! Reef Hobbyist Magazine


rhm staff

chingchai’s exquisite reef


HM visited Bangkok in early July, which is Thailand’s rain and thunderstorm season. In this tropical

climate, there are often flash floods resulting from

short but rain filled storms that pass through the city in brief spans of time. On the day we were scheduled to tour some local reef tanks, a friend and fellow hobbyist, Chanakarn

Phinichka, graciously took time out of his busy schedule to drive us around the city in the “mostly stop and hardly any go” traffic for which Bangkok is well known. Most of these tanks belonged to members of the Siam Reef Club. After about 45 minutes of driving through the city, we found ourselves turning into a tiny little street lined with shop houses where a mid-size car could barely squeeze through without scraping both side mirrors off. After a few turns down the alley-like streets and narrowly missing what seemed like every car parked on both sides of the alley, we finally stopped in front of a shop house where Chanakarn parked. We exited the vehicle and dodged puddles in the alley to get to the front door. As soon as we walked in, we could see the glow of aquarium lights. There were several smallersized reef tanks in the office space showcasing colorful Acropora spp., beautiful clams, and various other hard and soft corals. Soon after we entered, Chingchai walked out to greet us and introduce himself. We talked for a while about the smaller reef tanks in his office and soon were led across the street to another shop house which we assumed contained the show tank we’d heard so much about.


As we walked into the house, it felt like we were entering a sleek Miami style home with shiny, white stone floors and white lacquered walls; it was an amazing transformation as we stepped through that doorway. We could have easily been walking into a small factory or motorcycle repair shop as many of the shops on this street were inhabited by these businesses. But through this door was a glowing and absolutely stunning show tank in a room at the end of a hallway. To the right and left of us in the entrance were closet doors spanning from floor to ceiling, stretching along the hallway that led into the main room. As we walked into the main room, there was a long couch to the left, strategically positioned for comfortable viewing of the enormous show tank. Soft opera music surrounded us, which added to the excitement of the experience. I couldn’t come up with anything to say for a good 5 minutes as I gazed in awe. Not only was the size of the tank unbelievable, but the health of the specimens and the overall number of species of fishes and corals were just mind-boggling.

A picture of central Bangkok in between rainstorms.

The Exquisite Reef Recreating one of the most complex and dynamic environments on the planet is a challenging task. Attempting to do so without a solid plan in place can quickly lead to frustration, overspending, and a rapid exit from the hobby. Proper planning should include all aspects of the design, installation, stocking, and maintenance of a system and goes far beyond just creating a budget. Having Side view of the tank. a clear vision of your final goal is critical and will guide you and allow you to make informed choices along the way. There are many tools available to help you plan out your system in every way imaginable, from flow calculators to 3-D graphic rendering programs. Many of these can be accessed online for free. Another great resource to tap is the collected knowledge of your local reef club. While it’s easy to repeat the good advice that detailed planning brings a higher chance of success, it’s not often that exemplary planning is well documented. In a recent visit to Thailand, RHM was pleased to be invited to view Chingchai’s reef tank and see firsthand how meticulous planning has led to an amazing display. Chingchai speaks of Takashi Amano as one of his inspirations, and the similarity of approach is immediately obvious. If you view an Amano tank, it’s clear that the impression of beauty and simplicity relies on a true mastery of the details involved and that nothing is random in either approach or execution. This same attention to the importance of details is also evident in Chingchai’s approach.

Coral colonies seem to grow out of other colonies, an aesthetic result of careful planning and due diligence.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


While this masterpiece certainly speaks for itself, we’ll present here just a few details to give you an idea of the scale of this project and the immensity of the planning that was required. Let’s begin with a quick look at the display tank itself. This bonded acrylic aquarium is 10 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet deep. The acrylic is 1.94” thick, and the manufacturer estimates the tank weight at 2,200 pounds. The acrylic sheet used for this tank is of the highest quality, and the tank itself is a work of art.

You can see the thickness of the acrylic in this full tank shot.

As we all know, circulation in reef tanks is critical, and this has not been neglected in Chingchai’s tank. The circulation pumps for the display consist of six Tunze 6305 powerheads and six Tunze 6212 wave boxes. This array of circulation pumps is controlled by a Profilux 2 controller. Additionally, there is a healthy flow from the return pumps located in the custom designed sump. Lighting this display is a custom made stainless steel light rail. The rail itself is suspended and motorized, allowing it to be raised up for access to the main tank (click on the QR code at the end of this article for a video showing the motorized light rail). The light rail contains eight Lumen Bright reflectors fitted with Ushio 20,000K 400 watt lamps. These are powered by IceCap ballasts. Additionally, there are four 60” VHO bulbs and six 48" VHO bulbs. Moonlight is supplied by a series of Philips blue LED strips.

Custom made stainless steel light rail.

Custom designed refugium and sump.


Reef Hobbyist Magazine


Pin Wheel Brand: Royal Exclusiv Model: Bubble King Deluxe 650-ext Max Capacity: 10,000 liters

Tunze Wave Controller Board.

The skimmer for this tank is a Bubble King 650, and here’s the manufacturer info to give you an idea of the size and power of this piece of equipment.

Light ballasts are enclosed in a separate compartment in the electrical room.

Diam. Size: 650 mm. Height Size: 850 mm. Foot Print Size: 750x850 mm. Planning played a large role in the

For tanks from 4,000 to 10,000 liters (1,057-2,642 gal) Power: 7,500 liters/hr. air – 30,000 liters/hr. water Base Plate: 750 x 850 mm Height: 850 mm Pump Power Consumption: 255 watts/hour


Bubble Pump Type: Water Pump 3xRed Dragon Deluxe 2500 85w Air Intake: 7,500 liters/hr. Feed Pump Type: Water Pump Rate of Flow: 30,000 liters/hr.

Bubble King 650.

One of the most impressive success and aesthetics of this system. As you can see, the plumbing aspects of Chingchai’s system goes into the ground and underneath is the clean, aesthetic look of the stone floors of the room. some necessarily complicated plumbing. To plan this and other aspects of the system, the 3-D rendering software 3DS Max was employed. The need for sophisticated plumbing becomes more obvious when you consider the list of water filtration equipment being employed. In addition to the industrial-sized protein skimmer, water quality is maintained through the use of a Schuran Jetstream 2 calcium reactor, a large

Just some of the reactors employed in this system.

Heavy duty water filtration system.

phosphate reactor, carbon reactor, kalk reactor and a large ozone reactor powered by a Sanders 500 ozonizer. Despite the impressive filtration equipment, the plan is for a weekly 200 gallon water change, fully automated of course! This change is accomplished by draining the sump and refilling it with fresh saltwater from the 320 gallon mixing container.

A huge acrylic water storage tank.

This system has some beautiful farmed live rock and the substrate is composed of Miracle Mud and Bio-Activ live aragonite. And this system doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stay cool by itself but relies on a titanium coil temperature controller fed by a 52,000 BTU compressor with a 4 horsepower pump. This is needed for the total system volume of 1,295 gallons.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


These Scolymia are some of Chingchai’s favorite corals in the tank.

Some nice NPS corals.

With such an amazing system, we had to ask Chingchai for some words of wisdom for his fellow hobbyists. These are his three pieces of advice: 1. Simplicity is best. 2. Put in your time and effort. 3. Slowly but surely. Chingchai relied on the extended worldwide reefing community for advice but in particular his local community in the Siam Reef Club. As he says, “Siam Reef Club is my most devoted thing in this hobby.” Here at Reef Hobbyist Magazine, we’ve always believed that local reef clubs provide some of the best resources for information. Siam Reef Club went so far as to open and operate a café in the name of the club where hobbyists can go to discuss the hobby and have a cup of coffee or pick up some fish food. Proceeds from their café go to the club. They have created a great community with an impressive set of goals. These are the objectives we’ve found on their site:

A variety of branching and plating SPS corals.


Objectives: 1. To exchange knowledge and experience in keeping marines. 2. Support tank raised or captive bred livestock to decrease the capture of wild marine fish and damage to reefs.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


3. Arrange seminars to help educate people about nature and our captive systems. 4. Provide community service. Help and contribute to the children’s centers and old people’s homes. 5. Create and share awareness of the ecological damage and preservation of our reefs. 6. Help people to understand the correct way of keeping and breeding marine life. 7. Provide information on how to breed and propagate fish and corals. We certainly admire this group of dedicated hobbyists that have pushed the boundaries of what a reef club is all about. We applaud Siam Reef Club for a truly worthy list of objectives and for setting an excellent example of how to think big, clearly a characteristic shared by Chingchai! In closing, we urge our readers to remember that all tanks benefit from well thought out planning regardless of their size. Good planning helps to ensure your ongoing success in this fascinating hobby, and it is your responsibility to the lives in your care. Many thanks to Mr. Chingchai Uekrongtham for his dedication to sharing his vision with RHM and the global reefing community. We’d also like to thank Mr. Chanakarn Phinichka for taking us on this tour and Mr. Mod Punnakanta for allowing us to tour his fish and coral propagation room.

One of the two large Gem Tangs in this tank.


A Resplendent Angelfish calls this reef home.

Video of Chingchai feeding his reef during our visit.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


Mindy van leur

quarantine & acclimation the fishy medicine cabinet


proper quarantine is the single most influential practice standing between you and a disease outbreak capable of killing your entire fish pop-

ulation. It takes just one diseased fish slipping through (and that fish may not even be showing signs of disease) to endanger your whole tank! A good quarantine procedure is your first opportunity to help ensure your fishy friends live a long and disease-free life. Quarantine tanks have many uses. Not only does a quarantine tank significantly reduce the chance of a disease making its way into your precious display tank, it also helps to acclimate fish from life in the ocean to life in an aquarium. Some fish make this change without skipping a beat, while others will perish before learning the ropes. When you first acquire a fish, keep in mind that it has had a rough time in the last few weeks. The journey from the ocean to the home aquarium can be a long, stressful one that often weakens a fish


A group of juvenile Bangaii Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) in a 55 gallon quarantine tank dimly lit with actinic T5 fluorescent bulbs.

and makes it much more susceptible to disease. The fish may have been a carrier of one or more diseases in the ocean, but it was healthy, and its immune system was strong. Now, the same fish is hungry, stressed, and hoping someone can help it before it becomes its own vector. Those same diseases to which it used to be resistant are now some of the biggest threats to its life.

Like all of us, I know you will be very excited when bringing home a new fish and will want to see it swimming around happily in your aquarium right away. But don’t be in a rush to dump the new fish in, as this is the worst thing you can do! First, many wild-caught fish are initially reluctant to eat aquarium foods. They may not have eaten since they were in the ocean. Fish that have gone this long without food will generally do one of two things: eat like a pig at the first chance or be difficult to entice to prepared foods. The differences come down to the species of fish, the type of food offered, and importantly, the environment the fish is in. An established display aquarium will often have several boisterous fish that are aggressive feeders. This leaves little opportunity for the newly acquired, currently timid fish. Not only is there little feeding opportunity, the new fish may not be accustomed to prepared foods. Secondly, there are several diseases and parasites that a new fish can introduce to your display tank. Oodinium or Marine Velvet can wipe out an entire tank of fish in just a week. Brooklynella is another particularly nasty disease which kills quickly and famously affects clownfish, but other species are also at risk. For those with reef tanks, many of these diseases have no reef-safe cure!

A new, breeding pair of Bangaii Cardinals in a simple, quickly set up 10 gallon quarantine tank. Take note of the Seachem Ammonia Alert badge, airstone, heater, and tile cave for shelter.

Setting up the Tanks A quarantine and acclimation tank should be sized relative to the size and activity level of the fish to be quarantined. It is easier to target feed a small fish in a small aquarium, and big fish need room to swim, or else they will become stressed. Small fish, like gobies, do great in 10 gallon tanks, whereas large, active fish like tangs will need a much larger quarantine environment. Ammonia needs to be checked regularly in these holding tanks and is often the culprit in quarantine tank failures. I personally like the Seachem Ammonia Alert “badges” that stick on the glass inside the tank. I don’t find them overly accurate, although I do find they are handy for their advertised job - an alert! Ammonia control is the big ticket item in quarantine. For this reason, I find permanent quarantine tanks to be the easiest to maintain as they are always “cycled” and ready to use. My permanent quarantine tanks have large pieces of live rock in them and one or two pieces of PVC piping. If a disease breaks out and I need to use a medication that is not reef-safe, I can easily relocate the live rock into a holding bin, and the fish will still be familiar with the PVC piping that is left in the tank. This greatly reduces stress. Aside from the live rock,

which provides biological filtration and cover, these tanks also have an airstone or powerhead for water movement, a heater, a small clip-on light to provide moderate lighting, a lid to prevent fish from jumping out, and of course, a Seachem Ammonia Alert badge. I like the clip-on lights (called clip-on reflectors at most hardware stores) because they can be swiveled away from the tank to provide dim lighting for newcomers. I find that dim lighting makes a big difference when helping wild fish acclimate to captivity. Medications I will list some of my favorite medications which I always have on hand in the fish room medicine cabinet: • Chloroquine phosphate and formalin are my picks to treat Marine Velvet, Brooklynella, and Marine Ich. • Nitrofurazone is an antibiotic for both gram-negative and gram positive bacteria which has the added benefit of not affecting nitrifying bacteria. For the record, most bacterial infections that affect marine fish will be gram-negative bacteria like Vibrio spp. or Pseudomonas spp. • Praziquantel is a great dewormer and works really well for flukes too. It is a very mild medication, although it can cause temporary anorexia. Make sure the fish has been eating well for a week or so before treatment. • Methylene blue is used in freshwater dips and has a mild antibiotic and calming effect. Freshwater dips are great to initially knock parasites off before treating with another medication. Freshwater dips can also be Reef Hobbyist Magazine


Feeding A good retail fish outlet will tell you if a fish is eating before you buy it, although you will probably have to ask for this information. You can also ask to see the fish eat, and taking a new fish home with a full belly is often a good approach (unless you are traveling for hours where the fish will foul its bag). There are several groups of fish that are unlikely to be eating well or at all before they are sold. These fish are often either timid species or have specific feeding requirements. Some of the more common fish in this category are dragonets, butterflyfish, anthias, and large angelfish, to name a few. Extra care should be taken with these fish, as they will really benefit from a quarantine and acclimation period. Other species are particularly susceptible to various diseases and parasites like clownfish, surgeonfish, large and dwarf angelfish, and jawfish. Of course, there are many others. Finicky feeders may be enticed with fish roe, live black worms (Lumbriculus sp.), white worms, live or frozen brine or Mysis shrimp, clams in their shell, or even frozen bloodworms. Some of these foods are not acceptable long-term foods like brine shrimp and the various worms, but some food is better than no food in the beginning, and you can always wean them onto more nutritious fare later. Sometimes, a floating feeding ring or a feeding dish or jar on the substrate can be used to concentrate food and feeding in one area. I have had good success getting Green Mandarins weaned to frozen fare using a small glass jar on its side with a few frozen brine shrimp in it. Fish roe is another favorite of mandarins. Butterflyfish seem to really go for the live worms and clams in their shell. used to check for parasites if you’re unsure if the fish is afflicted or not – perform the dip, and then check the bottom of the container for parasites. Hyposalinity is a great prophylactic tool to use against Cryptocaryon irritans (Marine Ich) in quarantine as it interrupts the life cycle of Ich. If you interrupt the life cycle for long enough, the Ich will die off. However, I don’t recommend hyposalinity as a treatment for Ichinfected fish since hyposalinity usually does not work fast enough to save the fish. One of my least favorite medications is copper. The lethal concentration of copper medications is not far from the treatment concentrations. Add to that twice daily testing and dosing, and then combine that small window of effective but non-lethal dosage with hobby-grade test kits, and I think it is a recipe for disaster. Copper is also known to cause liver and kidney damage in fish. Listed previously, there are many much safer alternative medications to treat the same diseases as copper. For these reasons, I do not stock copper medications in my fish room medicine cabinet. I should note that formalin is carcinogenic and proper precautions should be taken to prevent absorption through your skin or inhalation of fumes. For that matter, don’t forget these are medications and care should be taken when handling them. Before choosing each medication and treatment process, please do some thorough research to figure out what best suits the diagnosis. There are many published articles regarding specific treatments for each disease, and I do not have room to detail them here.


A Cautionary Tale A reefing friend of mine named Brad Morgan learned about quarantine the hard way when he introduced Marine Velvet to his 180 gallon SPS dominated (and very nice!) reef tank in late January of this year. In Brad’s 12 years of reef keeping, he had never had a lot of faith in quarantine and didn’t have any quarantine practices in place. When the disease hit, Brad faced the arduous task of temporarily and quickly draining, then refilling his large reef to catch the fishes and remove them to a quarantine tank. Brad was not prepared with appropriate medications nor experienced in maintaining fish in quarantine. Both factors contributed to an almost total loss of fish - some of which had spent over a decade in his care! Brad expressed a great emotional toll as he described his beloved

A couple of juvenile clownfish playing hide and seek in their clay flowerpot. They are undergoing hyposalinity treatment following a mild Ich infection.

Naso Tang, Cowgirl’s last moments. “I spent an hour trying to move water through her gills; [it] just kills me.” This disaster probably would not have happened if he had engaged in solid quarantine practices. Months later, Brad’s wounds have healed, and he has put in place new quarantine procedures. Too little too late for the victims of this occurrence, although his future fish will enjoy a healthy life in a safer home. Brad’s thoughts now? “As someone that has really been an opponent of quarantine for 12 years, actually getting hit with a disease like Marine Velvet completely turned my views around. Now, nothing goes into my tank without a month in quarantine and (prophylactic) chloroquine phosphate treatment.”

Another pair of Bangaii Cardinals comfortably fattening up in their established quarantine tank. Sand is used to help support beneficial bacteria, but limits the types of medications that can be used if needed.

I suggest a minimum 3 week quarantine and acclimation period. Although 6-8 weeks is optimal, I don’t think many people are willing to go for that long (much praise and high regards to those that do!). If a disease outbreak occurs, the clock is reset and quarantine restarts after

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


the last symptom has disappeared. I definitely suggest you at least wait until you have fattened up the new fish so it is strong and healthy before introducing it to an established group of fish that may pick on it for a while. In this article, I have just barely touched on basic quarantine methods. I would need to write an entire book to cover all the details! For more in-depth information on specific diseases, treatments, and quarantine setups, I would suggest you do additional research. There are good reference books that most retail stores should have in stock as well as online articles by well known authors. If you take time and care when stocking your marine aquarium, your fish will be around for you to enjoy for many, many years – maybe even decades!

Since I was unsure exactly which disease I was dealing with, I chose a broad spectrum treatment - a formalin bath. Here, the fish are waiting for me to add the very important airstone and the formalin.

The Orchid Dottybacks healed well after the treatment and are now a healthy 3 year old breeding pair.

I had two juvenile Orchid Dottybacks (Pseudochromis fridmani) that exhibited an unknown skin infection while in quarantine.


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darren nancarrow

a regal spawn paracanthurus hepatus

(1 hour post spawn)


y experience keeping saltwater fish began in October 2009 with the purchase of my first fish tank, a 180 gallon setup (6'x2'x2'). My girlfriend

and I were inspired by the reefs and fish we had seen while visiting Thailand in mid-2009. I suppose that like a lot of other aquarists, I started with some common fish such as clownfish and Regal Tangs (Blue Tangs here in Australia). The third and fourth fish added to the tank were juvenile Regal Tangs which have grown up in this tank to adult size.

How it All Started

a cloud at the end of the game with a splash, and it clicked as to what was happening...they were spawning! Over a few weeks, this behavior started to become more regular, and we began talking about it as them â&#x20AC;&#x153;playing chasey (tag).â&#x20AC;? The culmination of the process was generally a large splash at the surface, the release of a cloud of eggs that looked like tiny air bubbles, and both fish diving for cover away from the spawn like they had just done something that they shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have. I did a little bit of research and fairly quickly came to the conclusion that it was not worth collecting the eggs and attempting to raise them. From what I had read, it seemed that it would be impossible for the eggs to be fertilized properly in a small, short tank. All of the information I was able to locate stated that they needed massive volumes of water and the ability to perform a spawning rise in order

In late 2010/early 2011, the pair of Regal Tangs began what seemed like a bit of a game as the lights of the tank turned off. The object of the game was seemingly to determine who could swim in the tightest circles, with both fish shepherding each other at one end of the tank. The game would start with the pair swimming in a large, random pattern, using about half of the tank. After a few minutes, their turns would become faster and tighter, eventually swimming circles in an area about 8 inches in diameter. This would happen in the top half of the tank just below the surface. At some point, my girlfriend pointed out that they were releasing


An adult P. hepatus, also known as a Regal or Hippo Tang.

to successfully spawn. Obviously, I know now that this is incorrect. My fish simply adapted their natural spawning process to suit their captive environment. Initially, the spawns occurred every 1 to 2 weeks. As time went on, the spawns became more frequent, now occurring every 2 nights. Lighting seems to be key to the process, with the fish spawning almost 100% of the time in the section of the tank that stays lit the longest (the tank lights turn off from left to right over the course of a half hour).

Attempting to Hatch the Eggs

Some months went by, and in that time, I focused on breeding clownfish species. In October 2011, I was on a forum and happened to mention that my tangs were spawning fairly regularly. The response from people interested in them spawning prompted me to collect and photograph the eggs. This simple step changed my focus on marine fish breeding from something for fun to a more serious effort. Having the opportunity to be the first known hobbyist able to breed Regal Tangs really spoke to me; I embraced that challenge. I can still remember collecting the first batch of eggs and having to scare the other fish in the tank away so that they wouldn’t eat all the eggs. I went with the very high tech “dunk” method, simply dipping a large plastic container into the tank and scooping up eggs and water at the same time. It was summer here in Australia, so keeping the eggs and water warm outside of the tank didn’t require a heater. I left the light on over the container and took photos of the development of the eggs every few hours. The astounding detail that I was able to view with my camera and a good quality macro lens really encouraged me to keep up with the process and document as much as I was able to about the egg development.

A hatching container with a batch of eggs.

My original spawning pair of Regal Tangs (male – foreground).

Eggs at approximately 30 minutes post spawn.

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


One of the problems that immediately became apparent was the relatively small amount of information available on what I should be looking for in the development of the eggs. This led me to erroneously believe that the eggs that remained clear and floating were unfertilized and the eggs with changes (gradually turning cream colored and sinking to the bottom) were viable. As it turns out, this is completely backwards; good eggs are clear to the naked eye as shown, with green/yellow oil globules.

Egg at approximately 1 hour post spawn.

The eggs were about ½ mm in diameter and transparent. They looked like tiny floating air bubbles just below the surface of the water and were almost impossible to see unless you shined a torch on them at an obtuse angle and knew what to look for. Every 4 to 6 hours for the next 2½ days, I collected eggs from the container and photographed them on a piece of glass against a black background. At around 30 hours post spawn, this photo (to the right) of the egg with a constrained larval shape was an exciting discovery and changed my way of thinking about what was a good or bad egg. The information below, some of which contradicted what I had read online, is what I discovered through my own research and observations:

Eggs at approximately 21 hours post spawn.


1. Clear eggs are good 2. Opaque eggs are bad (generally ciliates feasting on or in the egg)

3. A spawning rise is not required for the Regal Tang (and perhaps not for other tangs) 4. A massive tank is not required to spawn Regal Tangs (mine is 6'x2'x2', 180G) 5. Collection of the eggs does not require any form of specialized equipment A few hours later, I was photographing another egg, and the embryo inside of the egg began to move; it wiggled around, and I could not believe it! This was the most exciting experience, and I still struggle to describe it to people even today. I was seeing something that very few people in the world, let alone hobbyists, had ever seen before; a live Regal Tang embryo! I stood there just watching it for a few minutes, not really sure what I could do. It was the middle of the night, and I can remember shivering

and having all of the hairs on my arms and neck stand on end. I wanted to be able to share this with the people around the world who had been so helpful and encouraging. The problem was that my camera could not record video. My solution was to use my phone to video the LCD on the back of my camera to show the egg development. I was also able to take a similar video showing the heart of the embryo beating while it was still in the egg. By scanning the QR codes below with your smartphone, you can see the videos that resulted. Please join us for the exciting conclusion to this article in the next issue of RHM! Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note: we are pleased to present some of the first information available on sexing the Regal Tang based on direct observation of a proven pair in captivity. See page 38.

Video of egg with movement

Eggs at 30 hours post spawn showing one good egg and fourteen bad eggs.

Prolarvae heart beating

Reef Hobbyist Magazine


Sexing and Dimorphism of the Regal Tang

When I started out with my Regal Tangs, I simply purchased two small individuals. As luck would have it, they were a male and female fish. When adding a third Regal Tang, I wanted to make sure that I added a female so that I would hopefully not disrupt the original pair while trying to create a breeding trio. At this point, I had spent a lot of time watching the interaction between my pair and felt that the differences in their behavior were related to their sexes.   With the addition of the third fish, it was quite apparent within the first week that the new individual was a female. The male would escort her around the tank and encourage her to swim with him. If she got distracted, he would swim back to her, get her attention, and then lead her around again. Within a short period of time, she started spawning with the male.   While there may be better methods for determining the sex of these fish, my process was to look for the following behaviors and what I believe are “tells.”  


The male is quite active and seems to swim with purpose. Direction changes are often rapid and abrupt, and he uses his tail a lot in these actions. The male also actively investigates the goings on in and outside the tank. The male will quite often guide one of the females around the tank and encourage them to swim in formation. The male gets agitated easily and will swim back and forth with his nose against the glass if there is something on the outside of the tank that he does not like. He will also react this way if the glass is freshly cleaned and he can see his own reflection. This behavior could be described as frantic or even threatening and lasts for a couple of seconds. The females, by comparison, are much more passive and not really too involved with what’s going on in the tank. When swimming around, they use their paired fins quite a bit, rather than just their tails. Movements are more subtle, and the females are more likely

to hide if something is going on inside or outside the tank that they don’t like.  


The male is darker on the top of his body than the females. When preparing to court a female, he becomes a very deep blue color on the top part of his body and quite light across his belly. As the male has matured, his coloration changes have become more significant with his large center spot turning white (almost no blue at all) when he is upset or during courting and spawning. This area returns to a deep blue almost immediately after spawning. The females’ color does not change significantly during courtship or spawning. The females will lighten slightly when upset, but will remain blue in color.  

Body Shape

I’ve noticed a small difference in the shape of the fish. The difference is much more pronounced on the day of spawning, with the female looking plump in comparison to the male. The male has a “V” shape to the belly/behind the pelvic fin while the female has a “U” shape to the belly/behind the pelvic fin. For those trying to determine the sex of their Regal Tangs, I hope the information above helps. If you have any questions, I can be reached via facebook at or as CaptCrash at


adam mullins

awesome possums


f ever there was an odd mammal, the possum would surely fit the bill. The only marsupial in North America, the possum is quite well adapted to survive wherever

food, water, and shelter can be found. Possums are

secretive, mostly nocturnal animals with large eyes and a pointy nose, which must have been enough of a resemblance for someone to relate them to a unique little genus of wrasse. The family Labridae is one of the largest, containing some of the biggest and most boisterous, not to mention inquisitive, fishes on the reef. With common names like Napoleon, Rock Mover, Dragon, or the menacing sounding Harlequin Tusk, these brutes of the reef can do some damage, especially in a home aquarium. The Humphead (aka Napoleon) Wrasse can reach lengths of over 7 feet and is considered a delicacy in coastal parts of the world where itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s found. However, the ones weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re here to spotlight, the possum wrasses, are among the smallest, topping out at a mere 3 inches. The possum wrasses are a very intriguing group, perfectly suited to life in a nano reef tank. I like them so much I have at least one in nearly each of my tanks which range from 24 to 300 gallons. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not going to be open water show-offs of the reefscape


like many of their cousins or sport neon colors like the fairy and flasher wrasses. Possums are much more subtle, closer to their terrestrial namesake in that they can be in the shadows right in front of you, yet remain completely invisible. With three slightly different species showing up in the market with much more frequency lately, possums are a great reef fish choice you may not have considered for your tank. Though not a common occurrence in fish stores, or even wholesalers for that matter, there are at least three known varieties of possum wrasse that make their way into the hobby from the genus Wetmorella. These are W. albofasciata, W. tanakai/triocelleta, and W. nigropinnata. The three possum species are commonly known as the Starry-eyed or White Banded (W. albofasciata), for the white stripe that crosses and splits across the eye, giving it a starburst effect; the Red Pygmy (W. tanakai/triocellata); and the Yellow Banded (W. nigropinnata) Possum Wrasse, whose relative appearance should be pretty self explanatory. It has also been noted that the White Banded Possum is more often found in pairs while the Yellow Banded Possum is more often found in small groups. Other than the appearance of stripes or color pattern, there are little to no other differences between the three species. Their native range includes many of the common aquarium export countries such as Indonesia, New Caledonia, Australia, and the Red Sea. Most, if not all possums in the trade, originate from the Indo-pacific where they can be found on small patch reefs and drop-offs down to depths of 60 meters or so.

The Red Pygmy Possum Wrasse.

The White Banded Possum Wrasse.

The Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse.

The Starry-eyed (or White Banded) Possum Wrasse.

Nose to the substrate in search of the next meal.

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very hard to label a fish reef-safe, especially with each reef tank being a different concoction of life from different seas exported from many different tropical countries. Many of the popular so-called reefsafe fish all too often have a habit of picking on corals, invertebrates, or other reef life. Possum wrasses seem to be completely safe in a reef tank environment (unless you happen to be its tiny prey, which can include small ornamental feather dusters) and are much more likely to be the victims of bullying than the antagonists. These smaller, more cryptic fishes truly have a place in the properly thought out aquarium where their secretive and interesting behaviors can be showcased. These wrasses are also appropriate in a nano tank where their natural habits will be the least disturbed by more boisterous tank mates. And with a lack of predators and bullies, these tiny fish can become even bolder than they would on a natural reef. Even a modest sized nano, when properly established and fed well with good micro fauna populations, can provide plenty of food to keep the possum buzzing around all day as they would at home in the wild. While the resident prey in a nano tank may not be able to completely satisfy their nutritional requirements, this should pose no problem as most possums readily accept various common fish foods. Feeding and care is pretty straightforward. Scott Michael wrote a seminal article on this genus and noted that these fish rarely seem to be susceptible to bacterial infections which threaten many other fish, and provided they are fed well, this group of fish is a very hardy addition to many reef tanks. In my experience, they are very tough and are also much more resistant to Ich than many other common species. Reef Hobbyist Magazine


These little guys sate their appetites by constantly foraging the reef for micro-invertebrates such as copepods and mysid shrimp. While ideally sized and suited to nano tanks, possum wrasses are quite capable of holding their own in larger established reef aquaria with good populations of micro-invertebrate life, much like a mandarin. However, supplemental feeding is a must in smaller tanks where prey populations can quickly become exhausted by hungry predators. Thankfully, possums accept a variety of meaty foods with gusto after some acclimation. They devour Cyclopeeze, Mysis, Reef-Nutrition’s Arcti-pods, as well as many of the other omnivore preparations that are available in most local fish stores. It’s quite funny to watch a 1-inch Starry-eyed Possum in a 24 gallon Aquapod go after the large PE Mysis. I love to watch these fish as they hover about the tank, not darters or marathoners, but like mandarins, quite unaffected by their tank mates, provided there are no bullies. They like to swim about the rocks, nose down and on the hunt, but always ready to flee in case of danger. I have noticed my Starry-eyed Possum, housed in a 24 gallon Aquapod with a pair of ocellaris and some other gobies, seems to be comfortable coming out into the open water and swimming all over the tank. This contrasts with the behavior of the possum wrasses in my larger 150 and 300 gallon tanks where they assume a more benthic role, clinging to the rock work and overhangs. I’m sure the larger environment leads to a more exposed and vulnerable feeling. They certainly are not a centerpiece fish in anything larger than 40 gallons or so, but that doesn’t mean they should be excluded from larger tanks where other, more cryptic aspects of their behavior can be appreciated.

A couple of Red Pygmy Possum Wrasses.

The White Banded Possum, while probably the most coloful possum wrasse, is also the least commonly seen, often showing up as one of the other possum wrasse species on stocklists.

Subjectively, the Starry-eyed and Yellow Banded Possum Wrasses seem a bit more robust and daring than their Red Pygmy counterparts; however, this is purely based on my experiences with each fish in their respective tank environments. There are few more relaxing things for me, especially within the confines of walls, than watching my favorite fishes as they do their thing around the tank. The slower pace of these tiny wrasses definitely gives them a much more relaxed attitude than that of the somewhat frenetic tangs or other popular pugnacious aquarium fishes. If you’ve succeeded in your aquarist duties, hopefully your tank gives them as natural an environment as possible to showcase their unique personalities. As always, be on the lookout in your dealer’s tanks for these possums and other interesting or unique fish you may not notice at first glance. Often times, interesting behaviors make fish worth owning that you might otherwise pass over because of muted coloration. Many fish don’t sell well because their unique personalities are not displayed properly in a typical retail setting of cubical tanks. If you have any questions or maybe have a favorite fish that you’ve found, feel free to e-mail me at References Michaels, Scott, 2004. Aquarium Fish: Possum Wrasses, Genus Wetmorella. Advanced Aquarist (10) Randall, J.E., 1983. Revision of the Indo-Pacific labrid fish genus Wetmorella. Copeia 1983(4):875-883.



Reef Hobbyist Magazine Q4 2012