Gulf Marine Life Found With Christmas Tree Worm Rock

Fishes

Blue Angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis) Gray Angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) Spotfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ocellatus) Foureye Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus) Jackknife Drum Œquetus lanceolatus) High-Hat Drum Œquetus acuminatus) Slippery Dick Wrasse iHalichoeres bivittatus) Beau Gregory Damsel (.Stegastes leucostictus) Colon Goby (Coryphopterus dicrus) Blue Goby (loglossus calliurus) Tiger Goby (Gobiosoma macrodon) Seaweed Blenny (Parablennius marmoreus) Red-spotted Hawkfish (Amblycirrhitus pinos) Sponges Orange Finger *

Red Finger (Amphimedon compressa)

Red Lettuce *

Orange Flower *

Orange Ball CCinachyra sp.)

Red Ball * I ^iflHHfl

Orange Slime *

(* Commonly sold under these names. Exact species reference unknown.)

Gorgonians

Porous Sea Rod CPseudoplex-

aura sp.) Knobby Sea Rod iEunicea sp.) Purple Whip (Leptogorgia sp.)

Murex Purple

Mollusks

Murex Snail (Murex sp.) Star Shell (Astraea tecta)

Greek Goddess Nudibranch (Hypselodoris edenticulata)

Octopus (Octopus sp.)

Lion's Paw Scallop (.Chlamys sp.)

Echinoderms

Black Urchin (Echinometra lucunter)

Variegated or Carrier Urchin (.Lytechinus variegatus)

Common Sea Star (Echinaster sentus)

Serpent Sea Star (Ophioderma appressum)

Beaded Sea Star (Astropecten articulatus)

Burgundy Serpent Starfish (Ophioderma sp.)

Basket Starfish (Astrophyton muricatum)

Sea Cucumber Usostichopus sp.)

Pygmy Sea Cucumber (Pentacta pygmaea)

Arthropods

Anemone Shrimp (Periclimenes sp.) Pistol Shrimp (Synalpheus brevicarpus) Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni)

Arrow Crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis) Decorator Crab (Podochela reisi)

Blue-eyed Hermit Crab (Dard-

anus sp.) Sponge Crab (.Dromia sp.) Calico Crab (Hepatus epheliticus)

iitl

Stareye Hermit Crab ÍDardanus venosus)

iitl

Chapter Seven 189

Hepatus Epheliticus

Sponges are thought to remove tiny particulate matter and dissolved substances from the water, while the worms and other filter feeders, such as the Pygmy Sea Cucumber, probably feed on a range of different sizes of plankton. Providing a suitable plankton substitute has always been a challenge for marine hobbyists, and there are many commercially available products with which to experiment. Feeding appears crucial in order to sustain these beautiful specimens in their original condition. This, in turn, means that nutrient levels in the water must be carefully monitored and controlled in order to avoid algae proliferation. Since the specimens come from deeper waters, moderately intense lighting rich in blue wavelengths should serve the needs of Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni): excellent as scav-the coralline algae and any other photosynthetic species that engers and compatible in groups, which will likely spawn, are present.

The requirement for regular feeding with a plankton substitute renders Christmas Tree Worm specimens more appropriate for a tank designed to reflect the habitat offshore on the central Gulf coast of Florida. They are not suitable specimens for the traditional, nutrient-starved reef aquarium. Reef tanks as currently perceived are populated largely by photosynthetic corals and tridacnid clams. Only a few nonphotosynthetic species are mentioned in most reef tank references. The necessity for introducing (relatively) large amounts of food for these organisms leads to nutrient management problems, and this should be taken into consideration when designing a filtration system for an aquar- At home with the beautiful sponges of the Gulf, the Arrow ium for such species. Crab is a curious favorite of divers and aquarists alike.

Keeping several Peppermint Shrimp in the tank with the filter feeders may be helpful. The shrimp are excellent Gulf rock, survive quite well under a range of aquarium con-

scavengers and also happen to spawn readily, with their lar- ditions, even when no special feeding is attempted. How-

vae serving as prime fare for other organisms. (The larvae ever, Spirobranchus may fall prey to dwarf angelfishes can also be reared successfully, although this will require a (Centropyge spp.), Arrow Crabs, and perhaps some other separate aquarium and food cultures.) fishes and invertebrates.

Spirobranchus worms themselves, together with other LIGHTING. Roy Herndon also offers aquarists several sedentary annelids that would naturally accompany them on other tips for maintaining healthy worm specimens. (He has

Marine Worms

190 Natural Reef Aquariums had success in keeping them over two years with no no- and/or trace element additions in the Gulf of Mexico aquar-ticeable loss of their original beauty.) He stresses that light- ium. Many sponges are thought to accumulate trace ele-ing is minimal at the depths from which these specimens are ments, although it is an open question whether they require taken. "We collect in 40 to 60 feet of water. The average wa- specific elements to survive and grow. Bear in mind that ter visibility at this depth is 15 to 20 feet. If you subject live rock from this depth to higher lighting in the aquarium, it will have a propensity to fade, although I have noticed that in a lot of cases the corallines will go through a 'metamorphosis' and regrow." One tank housing a Christmas Tree Worm display at Sea Critters is lit by a single fluorescent bulb and has no

Echinometra Lucunter

mechanical filtration rela-

Rock-boring Urchin (Echinometra lucunter): common arrival, often tiny and unseen at first, on Gulf rock.

sponges — more species than enumerated here — are among the most important "co-fauna" found on aquacultured rocks from the Gulf

Both the worms and the coralline algae found on these specimens deposit calcium carbonate skeletons. Therefore, maintaining pH at 8.4 and alkalinity greater than 3 mil-liequivalents per liter will be important to facilitate calcification. Additions of limewater should accomplish both these goals and assist in maintaining a calcium concentration around 400 ppm. Strontium, possibly an important ion in the calcification process, could be supplemented, but see the discussion on page 61. Iodide supplementation may stimulate growth in coralline algae, and possibly other organisms.

Cool water temperatures may also be important, and I should not be intensely illuminated, or the worms should would suggest that a Gulf of Mexico tank be maintained at tively dim with nothing to remove any particulate matter upon which filter feeders might dine. All of this suggests to me th at the problems aquarists may experience with these specimens may be due to exposing them to very bright light in tanks that are better suited to the cultivation of shallow water, photosynthetic invertebrates. A tank intended for Christmas Tree Worms and species from the same habitat

Christmas Tree Worm Habitat

Spotfin Butterfly iChaetodon ocellatus): as with other Atlantic butterflies, a species best left to the experts.

be placed in deep or shaded locations.

about 70 to 75 degrees F. Filtration should be accomplished

Vl/ATER QUALITY. Herndon also has the advantage of us- through the use of heavy protein skimming and live rock.

ing natural seawater. Aquarists not living near the coast

The Herndons' aquaculture beds produce a coralline should make certain that they keep up with water changes algae-encrusted rock that would make both a good "base"

Chapter Seven 191

and "topping" material for a Gulf of Mexico aquarium. Alternatively, the bottom cover could be a layer of aragonite sand or "live sand," pebbles, or a combination of these two. It is important to have invertebrates and fishes in the tank to help stir the sand. Gobies, brittle stars, and the snapping shrimp listed would be suitable for this purpose. In short, this aquarium would be set up and maintained as a Berlin-style coral aquarium (see page 31), but without the intense illumination and with much more supplemental feeding. If one were willing to invest in a chiller for more precise control of water temperatures, mimicking the seasonal temperature fluctuation found in the Gulf would probably also be of benefit.

Marine Reef Aquariume
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