Monday Is Where Tears Come From

Slime-atron is down by two.  One is still designated Missing Slime-atron, and it vanished early on Friday morning.  It might pull a Smithers and return from the aether in a day, a week, or a month, but I have my doubts as the second loss was a very obvious Covered-in-Snails-And-Crabs-Oh-Lord-That-Can’t-Be-Good Slime-atron.  I actually had a moment straight out of a horror movie as I poked around the tank with a flashlight at night counting fish… There’s the clown pair, there’s four Slime-atrons… where’s the fifth… oh there he is… and then the shrimp eating the Slime-atron rotated its body ever so slightly to the side and what looked to be an intact fish was suddenly half of an intact fish head and half a gruesome skeleton with bits flaking off.

A member of the Slime-atron collective

A member of the Slime-atron Collective with its face intact. We assume.

This is a very strange hobby.

Since the 65g is a brand-new tank, I expected to lose at least one member of the Collective to stress (this is why I started with common species of fish purchased from a local store instead of ordering the exotics from an online dealer).  But two?  I am trying to not flip out over fish loss as I do when it happens in the smaller tanks, because the 65g is better able to survive the event.  The decaying body of a fish releases all sorts of toxins in the water and has the potential to create another mini-cycle which could wipe out all of the livestock.  The 65g is bigger and has a refugium attached to it, and the volume of water coupled with increased filtration should be able to absorb all of the pollutants coming off of one small decaying fish without breaking a sweat.  But two?  Pro-ba-bly, but it’s a new tank and two decaying fish might be too much of a shock.

Oh no, you didn’t just say I should find a net and remove the bodies, did you?  Because if you did, you’ve obviously never seen a shrimp drag a fish into a three-inch-long crack deep in your carefully-placed rockwork and eat the fish’s face.  While laughing.

I did a five-gallon water change, threw some carbon and a bag of Purigen into the first chamber of the refugium, and waited six hours before testing the water.  Everything looked good, but as of Saturday night one of the members of Slime-atron was hiding away from the rest of the Collective.  Warning! If a species of fish that is most comfortable when it pairs up or swims in a school has a lone fish lurking despondently away from the main group, it is a sign of something wrong.  Thinking that my tests were inaccurate, I took some water in to the LFS to be tested.  Everything looked good.  I figured maybe the fish just needed a little time to overcome some stress; sure enough, as of late on Sunday evening the Reluctant Slime-atron has rejoined the Collective.

A montipora capricornis, slowly turning white.  This is a Bad Thing.

My montipora capricornis, slowly turning white. This is a Bad Thing.

Unfortunately, one of the baby clownfish is now doing the same thing.  The smaller member of the pair has picked a corner of the tank and refuses to leave it, even if there is food available.  This is not good.  If I lose a baby clownfish, I’ll be sunk in a funk for weeks.

One last problem, this one in the 30g.  A SPS coral has started to bleach.  It began while I was out of town and has gotten progressively worse over the last week.  Bleaching occurs when coral is stressed and a symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae abandons the structure; in SPS coral, the structure is a calcified white, which makes bleaching easy to spot.  I’ve had other SPS coral bleach on me before… a pink milleopora frag fell into clownfish territory a while back, and they attacked it for several hours before I noticed and returned it to its original location in the tank.  It took a few months but it did recover.  This new bleaching event, however, doesn’t seem to have a direct cause.  Water conditions have been the same, and temperature and lighting haven’t changed.  In case it is caused by a water quality problem, I did a huge water change this morning and will later add carbon, then Purigen, so as to not clean all of the water in the tank too quickly and exacerbate the stress.  I really don’t want to lose this little guy, as he was just starting to get the crinkly edges that means it’s about to fold over itself in neat layered patterns.

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~ by KBSpangler on April 27, 2009.

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