Fish, Tanks and Ponds


Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Marine diary chapter nine

Blue Devil Damselfish, Chrysiptera cyanea
Blue Devil Damselfish, Chrysiptera cyanea

Now that I was able to get the hair algae under control for the first time since I set up my tank, my confidence in my ability to keep my tank grew. I was pleased with the look of the tank and felt that I had a huge accomplishment getting through the first stages of the setup process with the only casualties being a few snails. The fish were getting along fine with each other and even my Yellow-tailed damsel was a peaceful creature despite all the warnings I got from books and fellow hobbyists I met at the LFS.

After a few blissful weeks had gone by I started getting itchy fingers and needed some change. Even though I had a small tank, I fell victim to that "just one more fish" syndrome that is the plagues a lot of hobbyists, new and old alike! While at the LFS I saw a beautiful bluish-gray damsel with a nice dark dot on the dorsal fin that I thought would fit in nicely with my other fish. I wasn't sure the name of this new fish and was told that it was a fairly peaceful damsel as far as damsels went, so I decided to get the fish. I brought him home, slowly acclimatized him, and then added him to the tank. Like all new fish in a new environment, he darted for cover so I turned off the lights to let it settle in. I picked up my books to see if I could find anything on this particular damsel but didn't have any luck so I decided that I would treat it like the Yellow-tailed Blue damsel that I already had in the tank.

After a few hours went by, I decided to turn the lights back on in my tank to check on the new addition and much to my horror I discovered a completely different environment within the tank. All the original fish were huddled together in a corner and the caudal fins on my Yellow-tailed damsel were mutilated! The new fish was nowhere to be seen! I was fairly certain that the new addition was the cause of this odd behaviour and damage to my other damsel, but I didn't want to jump to conclusions since I hadn't seen the fish picking on anyone. I decided to feed the fish and see what happened and out of nowhere came this streak of blue lightening! It flashed across the tank gobbled up the little bit of food I added to the tank and was gone once again! So I fed a little more food closer to the group of fish huddled together in the corner so that they could get some this time. Once again there was a flash of blue but instead of going for the food it headed straight towards my Green Chromis and took a nice round out of the poor fish right in front of my eyes!

I couldn't believe how mean this supposedly peaceful fish was and knew that it wasn't going to be staying in my tank! It had only been in the tank for five hours at most and had already damaged two fish and stressed out the rest of them, claimed the rock pile as it's own and ate more food then the rest of the fish would have eaten! Unfortunately, by this time my LFS was already closed and I didn't really have anywhere I could put this little monster but I knew that if I left it in the tank the other fish were doomed! I decided to mix up a small batch of new saltwater in my 2.5 Gal pails that I had dedicated to using for the tanks, find an old air pump and stone to keep the water aerated and put in the additional heater I had for the fish. One of the old habits I have carried over from my freshwater days is allowing the water to sit a couple days before using it in the tank. This time I didn't have that kind of time to let the water cure a little and wasn't really sure if it was necessary or not with saltwater, so I decided to compromise by talking half the water out and replacing it with some tank water to mix it up better and ensure less of a difference in the water parameters. After all this fish had just been added to the new tank and had a stressful day already, I didn't want to harm it, just remove it from the tank! Once this was set up it was time to catch the fish.

At this point in time I didn't have all that much rock in the tank so it's hiding places were very limited but I swear, I couldn't find where that fish had gone! At least when it was hiding I knew it wasn't

attacking the other residents of the tank but I had to find it and get it out of the tank before I went to bed because I didn't trust it alone for one whole night! So armed with a net in each hand, the hunt began!

After carefully looking in all nooks and crannies that I knew about I still couldn't find the elusive damsel. I remembered that he was more then willing to come out of hiding when I added food to the tank so I decided to attempt to lure him out with some more food, but I strongly believe that he was psychic and knew that he was doomed should he leave the security of his newfound secret lair! No amount of baiting would get him to show himself and I had to go into the tank for a full out attack! Fortunately the other fish were used to me sticking my hands in there by this time and actually came towards me as if begging for protection from the fiend that invaded their previously safe home. I was more determined then ever not to let them down.

I commenced slowly moving the rocks around in the tank with one gloved hand (I learned my lesson with the fire worms!) while holding the net in the other hand for when I came into contact with the target. I took the top layer of rock off the pile and carefully examined all holes and crevices before moving it to the other side of the tank. With still no sign of the elusive damsel I moved on to the bottom layer of rock. I was most of the way through the pile when I spotted the quarry! It was sitting under a back ledge of the largest piece of rock in the tank so I carefully moved the other rocks from around it, got the second net ready to scare the fish out from under the ledge and into the larger net I was already holding, or at least that was the plan! Everything went smoothly right up until I scared the fish out from under the ledge, and that's when the fish decided it wasn't going to co-operate with my plans. I had left a small opening between the glass and the net that was just big enough for a determined damsel to fit through and off he darted into the pile of rocks I conveniently left lying in the other side of the net for him to hid in once again! For the next hour or so I ended up playing hide and seek with a fish and much to my annoyance, the fish was winning! As time when on I eventually ended up removing the heater, power heads, and all the rock from the tank so there was finally nowhere for the damsel to hide! It's amazing how much energy that little creature had and still he was resisting capture and continued to evade the nets at all cost. By this time I had accidentally caught all other fish in the tank at least twice, but not that blue streak of lightening! I have never seen a fish so fast and so stubborn before! The guy at the LFS made it look easy to catch and I was having a horrible time at it! After chasing the damsel around for another ? hour or so, I finally succeeded to capture the fish and into the bucket he went to await transportation back to the LFS the next day!

I replaced all the rock in the tank once again and attempted to create the aquascape I had before but to no avail. There was no way I could get everything back the way it was so had fun spending the next hour or so playing around with the rock and coming up with a new design that I was pleased with. Afterwards I had a little more respect for the skill that people learn catching fish at the LFS and understood why they rolled their eyes at me when I insist on one particular fish!

The next day when I brought the fish back to the LFS, Jake was there to take the fish back once again. He laughed at my troubles with catching the fish and then preceded to tell me the common name of the fish was a Blue Devil and was one of the most aggressive damsels around. Yep, the name definitely suited the fish! From that point on I swore I wouldn't get any fish that I didn't know the name of and learned how important it was to do some research on the animals and their compatibility before bringing them home instead of relying on advice from the store clerks or trial and error.

Back at home I didn't have any medications for the injured fish so I had decided to look around for something while at the store. I had noticed that all the meds that I picked up were for either Freshwater fish or Saltwater without any inverts. I couldn't find anything to use in a tank with my snails and I didn't have an adequate system set up for a quarantine tank. So I decided to leave the fish alone and hope they pulled through everything on their own. I made sure the water quality was good and gave them food soaked in Kent Zoe vitamins to give them that extra boost. The Yellow-tailed damsel was eating fine and slowly recovered from the ordeal with a small scar above one fin. The Chromis that had a round taken out of it wasn't doing very well and hid in the corner all the time. It refused to come out of the corner even when food was offered. I'm sad to say that it didn't recover and I lost it a couple days later. The other two Chromis and the two clownfish were fine and didn't have any lasting effects from their day of terror!

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