Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Marine diary chapter eleven

Lawnmower Blenny, Salarias fasciatus
Lawnmower Blenny, Salarias fasciatus

The next fish that I purchased was one of the most entertaining fish I've had to date. A few weeks later, I stopped in at the LFS and found that they had a new shipment in with some fish that I hadn't? seen before. They were small black fish with two white strips down it's back that closely resembled a neon Goby. I had been looking for Neon Gobies for a while but hadn't had any luck so I thought that these ones looked similar enough. A quick scan of the labels told me that they were referred to as an Eel Goby. Of course I didn't know anything about them but I assumed that they were similar to other gobies and wouldn't grow too large.

Unfortunately, by this time my most reliable source of information at the LFS, Jake, no longer worked for that particular LFS so I was left to rely on the other attendants who quickly assured me that the Eel gobies were easy to care for and didn't get any larger then 4 or 5 inches max. They were already 2.5 inches so I assumed that they would fit in my tank nicely and wouldn't outgrow my tank. I asked to see if the fish were eating and the attendant quickly went and got some food for them. Most of them eagerly went for the food and they looked health with dark colouring, no cloudiness in their eyes and they quickly scattered when someone put their hand in the tank. I knew that generally gobies do best in pairs or small groups so I decided that I would conveniently forget about all the lessons I learned before about getting fish that I didn't know much about and asked for three Eel gobies to add to my tank.

When I got home I slowly acclimatized them and as they were in the drip station that I had set up for new arrivals, I attempted to find out if there was any specific information in my books about them. Alas, after scanning every page in the book I hadn't come up with a single reference to the fish. It was around this time that I started toying with the idea of getting the Internet in order to learn more about fish but I put it off for a while because I didn't think it would be worth it.

When I was ready to introduce the new fish to the tank, I fed the others so they would be distracted while I introduced the new comers to the tank. The other fish ignored the new gobies as I had hoped. The largest of the gobies seemed to be more interested in getting some of the food floating around then hiding from the other fish so he drew the interest of my Yellow Tailed damsel when he tried to grab the same piece of food as the damsel was going for and after a couple second fight everyone settled down and there were no problems with adding the new fish. After most of the food was gone, I turned the lights out leaving only the room lights to go on. The other fish headed for their own little part of the rockwork and the Eel gobies started poking around one of the rocks.

The next morning I awoke to find all three of the Eel Goby lying down on the crushed coral in plain view of all the other fish and they looked like they had died during the night. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed and went to fetch the net to get them out of the tank. I easily netted one of them and was going for the second one when all three of them started moving around a bit. I was happy that they weren't dead, but I honestly didn't think they would last much longer and that the stress of introducing them to the tank would prove to be too much for them. Around a half hour later, I looked in the tank again and all three of them were up and actively poking around the rock that they took such interest in the night before. I was happy that they appeared to be past the difficult stage and began to think they would adjust to their new home just fine. Throughout the day, they constantly poked and prodded that one rock and I noticed that they were slowly moving some of the smaller pieces of crushed coral from under one area of the rock. It was neat to watch them working because they all worked together as a team to get things out of the way.

The only time they would stop working on what I assumed would be their new cave was when feeding time came around. They would all eagerly consume anything they could find and weren't afraid of the other fish in the tank. Once they were done eating they were like children on caffeine and redoubled their energy clearing out from under their rock. This obsessive digging kept on for a while. Each night they would crash on the substrate (when I say crash I literally mean drop where you are and sleep like a log type crash), each day they would work at clearing rubble from under the rock. It was amazing they were able to work together and lift pieces of crushed corals that had to weigh as much as they did or more and move them across the tank.

After about a month I stopped and realized that the gobies had grown a little more then I had anticipated. After all I was told they only grew to about 4 or 5 inches and all three of them had already exceeded that estimation and didn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Not only did they exceed their estimated size limitation but they had also started changing their colour pattern, which was something I totally did not expect. Their thin horizontal white lines were becoming thick vertical white lines and the black was becoming a little more dull/grayish. By this time they had cleared a nice hole under their rock and used that as a home base while they attacked the rest of the substrate.

Everything seemed to be going nicely in the tank and I had become used to coming home and seeing the substrate scattered around the tank and new small piles appearing in unexpected places. Overall I thought it was amusing until they decided to make a nice large pile right on top of my largest feather duster! As soon as I noticed the new pile was where my feather duster was suppose to be, I quickly went to its rescue and removed the 3 inch pile of rubble that was covering my prized feather duster. I smoothed out the substrate around the tank. I assumed that it was just a coincidence that the gobies decided to bury the duster and didn't think much of it. Unfortunately, my eel gobies had other plans for the feather duster and buried it again the next day.

All right, they declared war on me and I wasn't about to lose to a few small fish, I would be able to outsmart them right? I thought that perhaps they just wanted the location that the feather duster was in so I moved the duster around the tank but to no avail. No matter where I moved it they would once again bury it in the substrate. I then decided to redo the rockwork in the tank and built a small wall between the gobies preferred cave and the location of the feather duster, but that still didn't work. Next I attempted to place the duster up in the rocks and gently wedge it's tube between some rocks. However the Gobies still found a way to place rubble on top of it. Unfortunately, the feather duster wasn't fairing to well under this abusive treatment and started losing some of its feathers and eventually shed it's crown.

I was at a loss as to what I could do to prevent the gobies from attempting to bury the duster anymore and I didn't have any idea what to do with the duster once it lost it's crown. There was nothing in any of the books I had that referred to these types of problems. One thing I did find out during my research was that the feathers actually served two purposes; one was as external gills as well as catching small food particles, which made matters worse because now I knew the worm couldn't eat and it's oxygen intake capabilities was severely compromised.

I was becoming reluctant to trust the clerks at the LFS to be able to provide me with valid information; after all these 7 inch feather duster burying gobies weren't as peaceful or as small as the clerk estimated. I still didn't know many people in the hobby who didn't work for a LFS so I couldn't really ask them what to do, so once again the idea of getting the internet crossed my mind, this time with a little more urgency since the feather duster was in bad shape and I really didn't want to lose it, so I started to shop around for an ISP.

Before I found an ISP that I was satisfied with, the worm had crawled out of it's tube and was quickly set upon by the other fish in the tank. I was really disappointed with losing that feather duster. At least I still had the second smaller one that the gobies had left alone. Since the immediate crisis was resolved (with me losing the battle I swore I wouldn't lose), I gave up on getting the Internet at that point in time.

Michelle's Marine Diary
By Michelle Stuart

Chapter - one:
Making a start.

Chapter - two:
Finally set up,

Chapter - three:
Cycling the tank,

Chapter - four:
Oh no, algae.

Chapter - five:
The importance of acclimatizing

Chapter - six:
Making some adjustments

Chapter - seven:
The rocks are alive

Chapter - eight:
They're just sleeping!!!

Chapter - nine:
Just one more fish

Chapter - ten:
Pure water

*Chapter - eleven:
War is declared

Chapter - twelve:
The art of skimming