Saddleback Clownfish, New and In Stride on Animal-World

February 6, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Saltwater Fish

Saddlback Clownfish, Amphiprion polymnus

The Saddleback Clownfish, an Anemonefish with a “saddle”

The Saddleback Clownfish is so unique in its appearance! I truly believe that this little darling could easily replace Nemo as the best looking anemonefish. They can be orangish, black, or brown overall, but all color varieties have a broad white band that looks just like a saddle mounted on their backs

But looks aren’t everything! This is usually one of the most peaceful clownfish, yet if it has a batch of eggs, look out! Any fish, or human for that matter, that swims too close will get chased and even bitten by a protective parent. In the wild, a diver that got too close got a taste of this temperament, with blood drawn and a circular mark left on his head!

Fortunately in the aquarium this is simply an interesting fact. Most of the time these fish are quite passive and get along great with other peaceful fish. They do have a skittish nature, especially at night, and they don’t handle aggressive tankmates. What they really enjoy is being in a group along with a nice big anemone to snuggle into.

These clowns can be obtained as captive bred fish, which will be less skittish, and more readily adapt to a new home. The wild caught varieties can also be had, but are simply harder to acclimate and will take more diligence. A small group of these beautiful clownfish is great for intermediate or advanced aquarists!

Check out more about this “saddle” anemonefish. Pictures and information about the Saddleback Clownfish, along with its habitat and aquarium care!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Save our Pets!

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News, Wild Animals

Save Our PetsSave Our Pets now and into the future, let your voice be heard! Cat Ex Action Alert

Love keeping pets? Then let’s all help save our pets now and for future generations!

Imagine waking up a few years from now to your child or grandchild asking you what a bunny, hamster, frog or parakeet is.

How could this happen? Well, they would still see them in pictures and read about them on a digital device. If they live in an area where there is a public zoo they may get to see them live through bars. But they can’t actually touch them, watch them up close, or keep and care for them.

If you love animals as much as I do, then that future is unimaginable. What kind of world would this be without wonderful and interesting pets? Yet today, and for the last decade or so, there have been multiple actions to create just such a scenario.

Amazingly enough it’s our love for our pets and animals that has become the fuel for such a bleak future. We can’t stand to see animals abused or abandoned, so we are easily swayed to fight for causes to protect them.

Yet we must be leery of legislation that would undermine our children’s future ability to keep pets. Promoting actions to protect animals is great, but we must also be diligent to save our pets from restrictive legislation. Fortunately there are many people keeping an eye on legislative efforts, identifying those that are excessive and irresponsible.

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) is one such organization. USARK just posted an alert about a proposal that would enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to allow a “Categorical Exclusion” from NEPA requirements.”

They are concerned because “this rule would allow USFWS to add species as injurious (making importation, interstate commerce and interstate transportation illegal) without full due process afforded under the law. This affects reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, small mammals and a huge portion of the pet industry. Any species listed would disappear from the pet community.”

I too am concerned because this ruling would provide an over reaching authority to add any animal without people’s input and discussion, and it affects ALL types of pets. At Animal-World we believe that with the kinship and love that we feel for our pets comes the responsibility of knowing and providing what is best for them.

Public comments are needed from pet lovers right now, before February 21st. Let your voice be heard! See the Cat Ex Action Alert (Deadline 2/21/14). There you will find the USARK sample letter, which you can edit to fit you, along with instructions for where and how to send your opinion.

Spread this information to family, friends and neighbors, so we can all help save our pets today and into the future!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Fairy Wrasses, Creating an Aquarium Fantasy World

Animal-World proudly features: Fairy Wrasses, an aquarium fairyland at its best!

These gorgeous fish came into my life shortly after I started into the saltwater hobby. Fairy Wrasses quickly became my personal favorite finned fish when they first began to appear many years ago. They have held a special place in my heart ever since!

Initially Fairy Wrasses were not too expensive but then prices started to soar for a few years. Now they are at a moderate to very high price, depending on the species you want. Still they never disappoint and each species seems to have a little bit of a unique personality. Sometimes it’s a decision between paying the electric bill and buying a wrasse. Yes, it is an illness!

The Cirrhilabrus (which is their genus name) are very easy to care for. They are also easily trained to eat out of your hand, given time and patience. Then every time you walk by the tank they scream “look how pretty I am, feed me!” So hey, throw in a little smidgen of food if you want because their super energy bodies appreciate it.

The only down side to keeping a Fairy Wrasse is that they love to carpet surf. Being avid jumpers they can quickly leap out of the tank. This is easy to prevent however, if you are careful about their tank mates and provide a lid of some kind. An awesome trait is that they are fairly disease resistant, and sleeping in a slimy cocoon at night helps them in this capacity too.

Fairy WrassesFairy Wrasses, A spectacle to behold!

Choosing Your Fairy Wrasse

A great thing about the Cirrhilabrus species is that there will always be a color and size that will fit in your tank. If you have a 20 inch long aquarium, choose from the smaller 2.6″ to 3″ species, but if you have a larger tank, you can choose from the wrasses that are over 3″.

One of the smaller species is the 2.6″ Yellowfin Fairy Wrasse Cirrhilabrus flavidorsalis and a large wrasse would be the 5.1″ Scott’s Fairy Wrasse C. scottorum.

Some the most outstandingly colored wrasses, and a few favorites, are the Laboute’s Wrasse Cirrhilabrus laboutei which has amazing striping and the Flame Wrasse C. jordani with intense sunset colorings of red, orange and yellow. The Purple-Lined or Lavender Fairy Wrasse C. lineatus is beautifully adorned with yellow and red fins on a greenish yellow body with blue to purple lines. Another favorite is the Temminck’s Wrasse C. Temminckii, who seems to have the qualities of a flasher wrasse. Its body has many colors of the rainbow with bluish green dotted lines along the top, reflecting the reef line in your tank. It’s not hard to see why these are some of the most sought after fairy wrasses, and their price tags reflect that fact!

Fairy Wrasses range in price from $15.00 to $250.00 each. The color, but also the depths at which they are found, add to the price. Those that are found at very deep levels of the ocean are the ones that are the most expensive. They are also the ones who are very susceptible to improper collection, and because of this have the highest mortality rate, usually within a month of purchase. Who wants to come home to a $250.00 fish that is now dead because of carelessness? I sure wouldn’t! So keep that scenario in the back of your mind and demand a guarantee on these pricey fish.

Wrasses come in so many colors and patterns that even a tighter budget can allow for similarly colored, yet cheaper version of each. For example, if you want a fish with green or blue, the Indonesian Scott’s Fairy Wrasse C. scottorum will run you up to and over $100.00 USD. Yet the Solar or Red Headed Fairy Wrasse C. solorensis, which is my personal favorite, is similarly colored and will only cost around $40.00 to $50.00 USD. If you want a little red or orange, you can choose the Jordani Wrasse at $250.00 for a super male, or a $35.00 Redfinned Fairy Wrasse C. rubripinnis. How about pink? The Laboutes’ Fairy Wrasse has some pink, but is again very expensive. On the other hand, the Lubbocki’s Fairy Wrasse has similar coloring but is one of the least expensive. The Laboute’s patterning is by far more amazing though.

Keeping Your Fairy Wrasse Happy and Healthy

If you are limited on space but you are chomping at the bit to own a fairy wrasse, no problem. The smaller species will do well in a 30-gallon, or even a 20 inch long. They are movers and shakers though, so will do better with length over depth in a tank configuration. The larger species need at least 55 gallons, which should be at least 4′ long.

Be sure to have a lid on the aquarium. These wrasses do jump, and they will carpet surf at some point if the tank isn’t covered. An Atlantic Tang juvenile actually sparred with my Solar Fairy Wrasse, and chased him up and out of the tank!

The substrate is also no problem; you can choose whatever substrate you want. In fact you don’t need substrate since the Cirrhilabrus species do not bury themselves at night. They spin a slimy cocoon to sleep in. Provide lots of rockwork with crevices or caves for them to spin their cocoon in at night. The cocoon prevents their scent from being detected by predators, but will not affect water quality. Speaking of water quality, Fairy wrasses are quite disease resistant, but dirty tanks can still result in a sick wrasse, so be sure to do proper maintenance.

Fairy Wrasses are very active, and with that high-energy output there needs to be quality input. Provide them with a wide variety of meaty foods and feed them several times a day. The more you feed them, the less they will be inclined to chow on any copepods you have built up over the months. In smaller tanks you may need to add copepods periodically.

These wrasses don’t usually fill up too much on copepods when there’s lots of rockwork unless you have a large number of wrasses. I had about 5 fairy wrasses and a mandarin in a 150-gallon tank that was teaming with copepods, and the copepod numbers never seemed to dwindle. Other species, like Halichoeres Wrasses, are much harder on copepod populations.

Fairy Wrasses Enjoy Lots of Companions

Here are some considerations for keeping different Fairy Wrasse species together: Fairy Wrasses are some of the few saltwater fish where you can easily mix species. A great thing about keeping Cirrhilabrus wrasses together, is that there is no fight to the death, just chasing. Then after a hierarchy is established, life goes on. At the very worst a dominant wrasse will chase, and then the subordinate fish will hide. I had a Solar Fairy Wrasse that hid for a week under a rock when I added the Scott’s Fairy Wrasse. The Solar Fairy eventually got used to the idea and came out. You will only need to remove a subordinate fish if the chasing situation has not resolved itself in over 2 weeks.

You can keep multiple Cirrhilabrus species if you follow a few guidelines. First, the tank should be larger than the minimum size. When mixing sizes, the 2.6″ fairy wrasses like the Lubbock’s C. lubbocki and Longfin or Social Fairy Wrasse C. rubriventralis, should be added first and become established before adding wrasses in the 4″ size category.

The Solar or Red Headed Fairy Wrasse C. solorensis is an exception, it can be added at the same time. What I really like about the Solar Fairy Wrasse is that although it is one of the bigger ones, they seem to do okay with the smaller species because they have more mellow personalities. They will get along with the larger wrasses too.

Allow several months for the smaller wrasses to grow a little and adjust. Add the largest 5″ fairy wrasse species last, and add them as small juveniles so they are similar in size to your smaller and more timid wrasses. These larger ones would be like the Scott’s Fairy Wrasse C. scottorum, Temminck’s Fairy Wrasse C. temminckii, and Yellowstreak Fairy Wrasse C. Luteovittatus. I suggest that order for these larger wrasses because experience showed me the C. Luteovittatus can be quite aggressive, and that was in a 150-gallon tank!

If you are unsure about compatibility between species, or do not want to try and remove fish after adding them, your safest bet is to not house smaller wrasses, that are only 2 1/2″ to about 3”, with the larger 5″ wrasses that are more aggressive. You can house 4 – 5″ wrasses together without a problem provided you add the 5″ size last, and after the 4″ sized wrasses are settled and older.

Adding two females has resulted in one turning male for many an aquarist, though they may not become a “super male”. Super males are a premium fish with the most outstanding coloration, as reflected by the money you pay for them.

Keeping Fairy Wrasses with other fish: Cirrhilabrus species get along with most other fish, except the very aggressive fish that may bite at them if they enter their territory like dottybacks. Do not house them with fish large enough to swallow them whole.

Here are a couple other considerations for other fish you may want to house with Cirrhilabrus species:

  • Do not house with flasher wrasses Paracheilinus spp., since for some reason, the Fairy Wrasses do not tolerate them. It may be they are competing for similar foods. Very small fairy wrasses may be okay with flasher wrasses, but that is only in a very large tank over 100 gallons or at least 5′ long.
  • Smaller Halichoeres species will be attacked by fairy wrasses as well. Keeping species of these two genus together may work as juveniles, but only if the Halichoeres is larger. Halichoeres Wrasses differ in their sleeping behaviors too, they do bury themselves in sand while the Cirrhilabrus species do not.

You just can’t go wrong with a Fairy Wrasse. They rarely are the troublemakers of the tank, and if they are, it’s with their own kind. So save those pennies and buy your future favorite fish!

Carrie McBirney is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Vivariums, Perfect Homes for Exotic Pets

Tetrafauna ViquariumCan’t decide whether to get a pet fish or reptile? How about a vivarium that offers the best of both worlds! The Tetrafauna Viquarium provides both a land and water environment. It’s great for a small to medium sized habitat and it’s really fun to setup too! First decide on your favorite inhabitants. Mollies or guppys, even bettas can work well in the water habitat. Small lizards like anoles, or amphibians like tree frogs, do well on in the terrestrial side. Next choose your interior decor, gravel, plants, mosses, and woods that are best suited to your pets. Put it all together and then add your pets. It’s fun, beautiful, and a great exotic pet environment!

Housing your pet will never be as fun or rewarding as when you create its perfect home.

Each animal has its particular habitat needs and a vivarium setup is a re-creation of its natural home. There are as many unique virarium arrangements as there are exotic pets.

A vivarium is an enclosure where selected plants and animal species are kept or raised. The concept of vivariums started initially as a medium to study and research selected flora and fauna. Literally, vivarium means “a place of life”.

The ecosystem inside a vivarium is created to simulate, on a smaller scale, the environment conditions, which are favorable to the species. Vivariums can range from small enclosures that can sit on a table to a very large structure that houses bigger animals and are placed outdoors.

Types of Vivariums

There are several types of vivarium depending on the habitat that you wish to simulate and the accompanying flora and fauna that will be used. These include:

  • Aquarium: These are water habitats that can house freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and coral reef inhabitants.
  • Insectarium: These habitats are for housing insects and arachnids.
  • Terrarium: This is generally a dry habitat for housing reptiles
  • Paludarium: The paludarium simulates a semi-aquatic habitat such as in rainforests or swamps. Other setups of a paludarium combine a terrarium and an aquarium, sometimes known as a viquarium
  • Riparium. A riparium recreates the wet habitats near lakes, rivers, and ponds. The setup is suitable for marginal plants that thrive best in the water-saturated soil along the water’s edge.
  • Penguinarium: A unique habitat for housing penguins

Materials for a vivarium

Vivariums are commonly made of clear plastic or glass containers. Wood or metal can also be used as long as there’s a side, which is transparent. There are also vivariums made from plywood with built-in sliding glass doors.

The material that you will use depends on what flora and fauna you plan to put in, the desired size, height and weight, cost, desired quality, as well as the ability of the materials to simulate the natural environment and provide protection against extreme environment conditions.

Coated plywood can retain heat better compared to glass or plastic vivariums. These types of enclosures can also withstand high humidity. When making a vivarium, it is recommended to place a high-drainage substrate on top of a layer of stones to help retain humidity without the substrate surface being saturated.

Substrates

The type of substrate will depend on several factors including what is favorable for the plants and/or animals, the benefits, and the aesthetic value. The most common substrates used include soil, wood chips, pebbles, peat, sand, coconut coir, and wood mulch. There are also vivariums that use tissue paper and newspaper.

Humidity

These are the recommended methods to effectively regulate humidity inside the vivarium:

  • Regular pulverization of water
  • Enhanced water evaporation by placing a basin inside
  • Use of humidifiers and automated pulverization systems

Lighting

The lighting system is always designed to meet the requirements of the animal and plant species. Various types of bulbs are needed to simulate specific natural environments. There are also certain flora and fauna that require a good source of ultraviolet rays for vitamin D synthesis and assimilation of calcium. Specialized bulbs are available which can emit a more natural sunlight effect.

You may also need to put in a day/night regulator to mimic the change between light and dark periods. The regulator is set depending on the natural habitat of the species including the season that you desire to achieve.

Temperature

Heat inside a vivarium can be provided in several ways:

  • Heat rocks
  • Infrared lamps
  • Heating lamps
  • Hot plates
  • Heat mats
  • Heating cords
  • Equipment that can generate hot air inside the vivarium

The heat inside the enclosure is controlled by a thermostat. Thermo-control systems are often employed to regulate not only heat but also light cycles and humidity.

Ventilation

Aside from promoting proper air circulation, ventilation can also prevent the growth and development of pathogenic molds and bacteria. This is particularly true in vivariums that maintain a warm and humid environment.

About the Author: Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic – a company based in Melbourne, Australia that provides a wide selection of live aquatic plants and aquarium decorations.

Sebae Clownfish, makes a new debut to Animal-World

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Saltwater Fish

Sebae Clownfish, Amphiprion sebae

The Sebae Clownfish, the Anemonefish all know but few Have Seen!

The Sebae is the clownfish that everybody thinks they know, but this little darling is actually more rare in aquaria. It seems to be numerous because it is often “available”, yet most often the available fish are a mislabeled
Clarkii Clownfish with a similar color pattern.

These fish have a history of being skittishly nervous, often causing their demise. Getting them calmed down takes several months of cautious treatment and premium housing.

But there are dedicated aquarists who took the plunge and made all the right moves. Today these fish are not only being successfully kept, but are even being bred. They are not only bred, but even cross-bred with the Saddleback Clownfish creating what is known as a White Tip Clownfish.

Chances are if you accept the mission to find one of the elusive Sebae Clownfish, you will! Not only that, but you can find awesome designer varieties with fascinating color patterns called the Picasso Sebae Clownfish and the Platinum Sebae Clownfish. Getting one of these tank-bred varieties is great! They will be much calmer and more easily adapted to you tank!

Check out more about this “best Known” anemonefish. Pictures and information about the prized Sebae Clownfish, along with its habitat and aquarium care!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Wrasse Sleeping Behavior, what lengths would you go to get a good night’s sleep?

January 25, 2014 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Saltwater Fish

The Scotts Fairy Wrasse, Cirrhilabrus scottorum, is a rockwork sleeper that builds a mucus cocoon to sleep in!

Ask your favorite Wrasse about it’s sleeping tips!

Humans have many methods and tricks they can employ to help them sleep, but for a saltwater wrasse it’s dependent on its particular sleeping behavior. It may surprise you to know that not all wrasses bury themselves in the sand at night! When keeping saltwater wrasses, either a high-rise condo or a sand flat could be the place of choice.

Each of the various wrasse species beds down at night in a particular area of the tank, either the sub-level or the upper-level. In fact, there are an equal amount of wrasses that sleep in the sand and sleep in the rockwork. Out of the rockwork sleepers, a few genuses will even spin a mucus cocoon to mask their scent from predators!

Knowing the habitat requirements of an individual species can be confusing though, as retailers themselves aren’t always sure or may just assume they all bury themselves. The best way to prepare a proper home for your new wrasse is to know which genus’ bury themselves in the sand and which genus’ just sleep in caves and crevices among the rockwork.

Facts about wrasse sleeping behaviors and protective strategies

Sand-sleeping Wrasses: Wrasses that bury themselves at night are undisturbed by most nocturnal predators. Yet there are some predators that use sonar to locate creatures under the sand, and those pose the greatest risk to buriers. But even if detected, most of the time the wrasse has a chance to shoot out of the sand in an attempt to escape. Still there may be another predator swimming by just looking to take advantage of an unearthed morsel!

During the day, these wrasses will also take refuge in the sand if they feel threatened. Juveniles may also stay in the sand during growth changes. My Halichoeres garnoti, right before a growth spurt and color change, will stay in the sand for most of the day. So don’t get too worried and go looking for your juvenile buriers, they are just getting some extra sleep!

Cocoon Spinning Wrasses: The wrasses that spin mucus cocoons have an interesting strategy. They not only sleep in their cocoon, but it masks their scent from predators. Being in a cocoon still allows these wrasses to be alert to any predators that may find them accidentally, and it allows them a chance to escape quickly. This is an advantage over many other reef fish that are just hiding in the rock, as they are subject to getting flushed out and ambushed by night predators.

Cave and Crevice Sleeping Wrasses: The last group consists of the wrasses that, like other fish in the reef, will just hide in caves at night. Certain genus’ that sleep in the rockwork without a mucus cocoon will still hide in the sand if frightened, but they do not sleep in the sand.

What about the substrate?

What to use for a substrate is really one of the very first decisions you will make as a new saltwater aquarist. You’ll need to decide if you should you use a sand or crushed coral, both, or none. Thinking of your future inhabitants and their needs will help you make the best decision.

If you are going to have a wrasse that buries itself, whether out of fear or at night, sand is really your only choice. Personally, I feel about 2″ to 3″ of sand is by far the most superior substrate, and a sand designed for marine tanks can help keep the pH high. Though people like crushed coral for various reasons, it can lacerate your pet, causing sores, infection, and possibly death if not treated immediately. Crushed coral also tends to compact and needs to be mechanically stirred to keep debris from getting stuck and then rotting.

Bare bottom or Berlin tanks will work fine for wrasses that spin cocoons at night to sleep in, or who just sleep in the rockwork like other fish. But this type of tank is not the best choice for the wrasses who bury themselves at night or when frightened. These wrasses need that security or they will stress and eventually become sick, because that is what stressed fish do! One option is to add a sand filled plastic bowel that is longer than your wrasse but is at least 3″ deep. Believe me, your wrasse will find that bowl! This is also a great idea in a quarantine tank.

Sleeping behaviors for various wrasse species

This quick reference guide will help you decide which genus you want, and what substrate is the best. Below are wrasses grouped by sleeping habits. Some wrasses go sub-level at night and some stay in the upper levels within the rock.

They are listed by the common names given for a group or an individual species, followed by the genus name. Those with an asterisk * by their genus name do not sleep in the sand at night, but will still hide in the sand during the day if startled. These fish are also very active and have to rest during the day, so don’t get worried if they are resting on the sand or in the rockwork.

Sand Sleepers:

  • Candycane Wrasses / Ring Wrasses: (Genus Hologymnosus)
  • Chiseltooth Wrasse: (Genus Pseudodax)
  • Coris Wrasses: (Genus Coris)
  • DragonWrasse: (Genus Novaculichthys)
  • Halichoeres Wrasses: (Genus Halichoeres)
  • Leopard Wrasses: (Genus Macropharyngodon)
  • Pencil Wrasses: (Genus Pseudojuloides)
  • Tamarin Wrasses: Genus Anampses
  • Razorfish group 1: (Genus Cymolutes)
  • Razorfish group 2: (Genus Hemipteronotus)
  • Razorfish group 3: (Genus Iniistius)
  • Razorfish group 4: (Genus Xyrichtys)
  • Rockmover Wrasses: (Genus Novaculichthys)

Cocoon Mucus Spinners:

  • Fairy Wrasses: (Genus Cirrhilabrus)
  • Flasher Wrasses: (Genus Paracheilinus)
  • Lined Wrasses: (Genus Pseudocheilinus)

Cave and Crevice Sleepers:

  • Banana Wrasse: (Genus Thalassoma)*
  • Bird Wrasses: (Genus Gomphosus)*
  • Cleaner Wrasses: (Genus Labroides)
  • Hogfish: (Genus Bodianus)*
  • Maori Wrasses: (Genus Oxychilinus)
  • Possum Wrasses: (Genus Wetmorella)
  • Ribbon Wrasse: (Genus Stethojulis)
  • Secretive Wrasse: (genus Pteragogus)
  • Tuskfish: (Genus Choerodon)
  • Thicklip Wrasses: (Genus Hemigymnus)*

So keep this handy as a quick reference. Wrasses have amazing personalities, with each genus being different from the others. Their constant movement makes them very enjoyable to watch!

Carrie McBirney is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

The Spotted Snake Eels

Animal-World’s Newest Featured Animals are: The Amazing Spotted Snake Eels!

Out of all the salt-water fish I have ever owned, I have to say the Snake Eels of the Myrichthys genus have always been my favorites! Watching them bury under the sand, leaving just their head sticking out, is the funkiest thing you’ll ever see. But the coolest part of owning them is that they will eat silversides right from your hand! And if they accidentally grab your finger, it never hurts becuase they grab and swallow their prey rather than biting it.

I will refer to these as Spotted Snake Eels, because, well they are spotted! Two similar species are the Spotted or Tiger Snake Eel Myrichthys maculosus and the Magnificent Snake Eel Myrichthys magnificus, and these two are similar in care as well. Both are a creamy off white with large brown spots all over their bodies. But the Magnificent Snake Eel is a light tan color with large brown spots while the Tiger Snake Eel seems to be more of a creamy white and with slightly smaller dark brown spots.

Spotted Snake Eel Myrichthys maculosus in nature. Photo Wiki Commons, Couresty Qwertzy2 Licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

In the wild Snake Eels are very friendly to divers, readily coming up to them and investigating. The Spotted or Tiger Snake Eel is found in the Indo-Pacific and the Magnificent Snake Eel is found in the Eastern Central Pacific, including the Hawaiian Islands. So if you were diving there on vacation, you may very well have seen this eel.

Many retailers and people confuse the Spotted Snake Eels with the Sharptail Snake Eel Myrichthys breviceps, which is nowhere near as attractive. The Spotted ones can be readily distinguished because the spots on their faces are also large, unlike the tiny dots you will find on the Sharptail Snake Eel. Another member, the Banded Snake Eel Myrichthys columbrinus, is banded in black and white, but is also similar in care.

Spotted Snake Eels make great pets!

I own the Spotted or Tiger Snake Eel M. maculosus. Of course we named ours “Spot” because well, what else are you going to name one? This eel is great at stirring the sand bed and as a juvenile it came out every day to eat, although as an adult it only comes out every other day to eat. When it comes out to eat it will swim around the tank, which either elates or scares whoever is visiting our home at the time!

Although they are said to be hard to feed, personally I have never had one refuse thawed frozen krill or silversides. I feed 2 or 3 skinny silversides at a time, or until it is full, and then they’re good to go! After filling their bellies, they will bury themselves under the sand until they get hungry again.

The Spotted Snake Eels will grow up to about 30″ (78 cm) in length, but the girth of their body is similar to the girth of your thumb. Due to their skinny girth, they do not produce as much waste as a full-bodied eel of the same length. Consequently they are not as sensitive to water conditions as butterflyfish or angelfish types, which adds to the joy of owning one.

The most difficult thing about their care is that they are incredible escape artists, making Houdini look like an idiot! The one thing to be aware of is tank decor and equipment that offers any type of escape. If you can stick your finger in a hole, such as in some water pumps, the Spotted Snake Eel will more than likely be able to go through as well. The worst thing they will do in a reef tank is knock a coral over, but most aquarists know how to secure corals. My Snake Eel has never ever gone after any of my fish, and has not bothered any invertebrates.

Finding a Spotted Snake Eel will take some work and they are not cheap. But if you have a tank that has a tight fitting lid and are willing to make sure they are fed daily or every other day when adults, then go for it! With any of the Myrichthys species you will enjoy the oddity of their behavior, and a pet like quality that differs from the typical saltwater fish!

Spotted Snake Eel Myrichthys maculosus in the aquarium

Tips for housing Spotted Snake Eels in the saltwater aquarium

A tank that is at least 4 feet or longer is best for these thin elongated fish. They are great with normal tropical water temperatures and pH and they are not picky about any light or water movement. It is obvious by their burrowing habits that a sand bed is needed. Larger, more abrasive substrates such as crushed coral may lacerate their skin. Mine have always done well with 2″ of sand.

Be sure you have the aquarium covered with a very tight fitting lid. To prevent escape you must be able to seal off the top of the tank with only enough room for tubing to fit. Egg crate lids will not work as these eels can wiggle right through them as juveniles and young adults. They will come out looking for food and if they find a hole, will wiggle right through it and out of the tank!

The best tank is one that is completely sealed on top with an overflow. Make sure they cannot go over the edge of the over flow, because they will! The teeth or grating of the overflow at the top should reach and meet the lid, with no gaps. Most saltwater tanks are open on top because of the need for air exchange at the surface. When keeping a Spotted Snake Eel, you can add oxygen into the tank by adding an air pump and using fittings that make large bubbles instead. It is a little messier, but then what saltwater tank isn’t a little messy anyway?

If you have a pump that has any open holes at the bottom or sides, then it is just a matter of time before the eel will wiggle into it. It can get killed that way. Sicce Voyager pumps are better than Hydora Korolia pumps to use with these eels because they do not have any open holes that an eel can wiggle into.

Tips for feeding Spotted Snake Eels

As far as feeding them, it has been observed that they are very smart and will look for food in the same spot each time! My first Spotted Snake Eel I had when I was a noob saltwater tank owner. I hand fed it at the top of the water. So one day we came home and Spot was dried up on the floor. He was probably popping his head out of the water looking for food and jetted himself right out and over! My next Spotted Snake Eel, which I obtained years later, is fed at the bottom of the tank in a little rock opening. Consequently he only goes there in search of food.

Health Tips for Spotted Snake Eels

Spotted Snake Eels are disease resistant, but with no scales, so don’t treat their tank with any copper medications. If it should happen that you find your seemingly “dead” snake eel out of its tank, do NOT assume it is dead. Put it back in the tank for at least an hour. They have a defense mechanism that protects them from exposure to air for several hours. I learned this the hard way!

Carrie McBirney is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

The Coral Triangle, an Awesome Visage to be Spotlighted by Animal Planet

The Coral Triangle seen in the Philippines

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to scuba dive, the area known as the “coral triangle” is a part of our world that offers a panorama of beauty to sate every artist’s palette.

Animal Planet, a unit of Discovery Communications, plans to share a bird’s eye view of the incredible life swirling beneath the waves of our vast oceans. “WILD DEEP” will be presented as a six-part televised documentary with the first episode featuring “The Coral Triangle” debuting on Tuesday, January 22, at 9:00pm ET/PT.

In the Animal Planet WILD DEEP press release they say the documentary will showcase “the amazing wonders and epic beauty that exist in Earth’s seas and oceans.” Their first episode will start “with a deep dive into the waters of the Coral Triangle near Asia.” Subsequent episodes will involve “series dives into the waters surrounding Africa, Europe, Oceania and the Americas to showcase the dramatic, complex universes beneath their waves.”

Coral Triangle covers 5.7 million square kilometers in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

The Coral Triangle covers 5.7 million square kilometers in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is a roughly shaped triangular region encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

Each episode of the Animal Planet documentary should be a fascinating adventure, but the Coral Triangle region will definitely be a highlight.

The waters of this area are teeming with vast and extremely diverse life forms. Besides being known as the “coral triangle” it is also called the “Amazon of the seas”, reflecting the great Amazon Basin region which is re-known for the extraordinary beauty and diversity of its own inhabitants.

Even a single coral head is covered with multiple coral species and a variety of saltwater fish

When we see ocean corals and fish above water, viewed in the full spectrum of light offered by aquariums, photos, or videos, we can see the incredible colors they possess.

Yet under water, the red spectrum of light becomes reduced the deeper you go, and the animals present a much more even palette. A soothing elegance of interconnected color is created beneath the waves. Though not necessarily flamboyant, this natural deep-water setting offers an awesome, yet curiously comforting scene.

The The Coral Triangle Center states that “a full 76 percent of known coral species are found here and 37 percent of reef fish species.” Now that’s a lot of critters! There are extensive mangrove forests in the region. Mangrove swamps grow along coastal regions and have massive root systems that are efficient at dissipating wave energy, so they protect the coastal areas from erosion, storm surges, and tsunamis. But they also provide valuable nursery areas for all sorts of aquatic animals.

The Coral Triangle is incredibly diverse with 76 percent of the world’s reef corals and hundreds of saltwater fish species

The reef areas are also rich in life, with animals ranging from corals and fish to many types of invertebrates and algaes. They offer spawning and breeding grounds too, for whales and dolphins, sea turtles, and huge fisheries. According to the Coral Triangle Center, the life encountered in this region has “sustained sea faring island people for millennia.”

The Center says that today this incredible habitat “is recognized as the global centre of marine biodiversity and a global priority for conservation.” The diversity of these reef are the seeding stock for future coral reefs, and can help “ensure adaptation as our natural communities respond to climate change and other global trends.”

GMA News reports that the Coral Triangle region has been recognized “as an area of acute ecological importance and of great concern by many governments”. Countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands have come together to form ‘The Coral Triangle Initiative’. GMA reports that the Initiative’s purpose is to urgently spread “ideas about sustainable fishing practices” and to set up “marine reserves across the region to ensure pockets of this fragile ecosystem are protected and allowed to thrive.”

Animal-World provides pictures and information on a large selection of Coral Reef Animals and Saltwater fish, along with detailed information on the care necessary to keep them in a marine aquarium or reef tank.

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Who’s hungry? A Human Smorgasbord for Flesh-eating Piranha!

Swarm of carnivorous piranha attacked hundreds of bathers!

Photo © Animal-World.com, Courtesy Ken Childs

Christmas was a very warm day along the Parana River near Rosario, Argentina. Hundreds of city dwellers were trying to escape the 100-degree weather in the cooler waters of a popular beach about 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. But then, they began to notice bite marks on their hands and feet.

A swarm of carnivorous fish attacked hundreds of bathers, sending around 70 people to local clinics and emergency rooms for treatment.

The local Director of lifeguards, Federico Cornier, told reporters from BBC and other broadcasters in the area “it’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great… This is an exceptional event.”

A man is treated at a clinic in Rosario, Argentina, after a school of flesh-eating palometas, a type of piranha, attacked swimmers cooling off in the Parana River on Christmas Day. As per LA Times “Flesh-eating fish attack swimmers in Argentine river; 70 injured” (Silvina Salinas / Associated Press Photo/ December 25, 2013)

Cornier said that the fish responsible for the attacks were “palometas”, a type of piranha with large sharp teeth. Dozens of people had their extremities attacked. Paramedic Alberto Manino, speaking with the Associated Press, said that some children he had treated had lost entire digits!

The term ‘palometa’ is a common name used for several types of fish. This includes the Piranha, but it is also used for a Caribbean gamefish Trachinotus goodie and a Western Atlantic fish, the Maracaibo Leatherjacket Oligoplites palometa.

The Piranhas belong to a sub-family called the Serrasalminae, or the ‘serrated salmon family’ consisting of around 60 species. The unmistakable trademark features of the Piranha are their triangular, razor sharp teeth. As described in Piranha: Story of the Piranha Fish from Predator to Prey, these teeth enable them to ‘slice off pieces of meat, fins or scales, literally taking apart their prey piece by piece.’

The palometa that attacked these bathers is most likely the Red Piranha Pygocentrus nattereri, also called the Red-bellied Piranha. This is a very widespread species, occurring in several river basins of South American. Although it typically grows between about 3 to 9 1/2 inches (8-24 cm) in length, one specimen was reported at a whooping 19 1/2 inches (50 cm).

Keeping the Red Piranha in the aquarium is truly a fascination. In the wild the Red Piranha lives in large schools. This type of school is not usually possible in an aquarium, but with the proper environment these fish will show some traits of their wild behavior. In nature the largest fish is the ‘alpha’ animal and in the aquarium it is the most aggressive and bold. The alpha fish will dominate the best spaces in the tank and will basically own the feeding ritual. All other members are subordinate and will take on the traits of servants. Any unwilling ‘servants’ will be quickly and aggressively put in their place by the alpha fish!

Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and animal species write-ups.

Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings 2013

December 23, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Animal News

Holiday Greetings

Happy Holidays! Wishing you a festive holiday season and a very happy new year!

Our world is filled with so many fascinating creatures – pets, animals and people! Each one has a different path in life, but no matter where we go we find a little of each other.

Peace, love, acceptance and joy are the norm each day for all of earth’s creatures. But for the human species, the holiday season is a special time to reflect and embrace all the beauty of this great earth.

Animal-World Team wishes you a joyous holiday and a new year filled with splendor, hope, and peace!

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