Manicina Areolata

Remote Finger Reefs
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the spectrum. When illuminated with such lights, the water will have a definite bluish cast, well known to divers, but will not have the eerie "black light" effect created when the very blue actinic lamps are used alone. Combining one blue actinic lamp with one bulb of about 5,000 degrees K will create the desired effect.

Apart from crustaceans, such as a mated pair of Banded Coral Shrimp, this aquarium habitat can be used to showcase some of the reef's most spectacular inhabitants. The muted colors of coralline algae, running mostly to mauve, lavender, and cool pink, provide a striking contrast to the blue, yellow, and iridescent turquoise of the Queen Angel (.Holacanthus ciliaris). Since this species attains about 18

inches in length in the wild, a roomy tank of at least 150, Resplendent Angel iCentropyge resplendens): a rare little and preferably 300, gallons will be required to accommodate dazzler from Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic it for a full 20-year-plus lifespan. Although largely herbivorous, adult Queen Angels feed mostly on sponges, supplementing this diet with a variety of other encrusting invertebrates and algae. Large angel specimens can be difficult to acclimate to captive life, and it is therefore wise to obtain a juvenile specimen and allow it to grow up in the aquarium display. In this manner, it will become accustomed to feeding on a variety of aquarium foods more readily obtainable than its natural diet. At least one manufacturer of frozen foods markets a formula containing sponges. In my experience, this product is readily accepted by the Queen Angel and should form a portion of the diet of any captive specimen. Many fishes, including squirrelfishes (Holocen- Cherub or Pygmy Angel iCentropyge argi): an endearing tridae) and soldierfishes (.Myripritis spp.), a grouper, or any deeper-water species that will spawn in captive systems, of the smaller Atlantic moray eels would make compatible tankmates for the angelfish in a large system, but most of the choices for this aquarium to hermit crabs, sea urchins, the sessile invertebrates discussed in this chapter will sooner algae-grazing snails and perhaps a small spiny lobster. But or later fall prey to the angel's aggressive appetite, limiting with so spectacular a fish in residence, who will notice?

If the urge to create a deep fore-reef aquarium appeals

Queen Angel (Holacanthus ciliaris): a captivating species for a to you but a large tank lies outside your budget or space lim-

Natural Reef Tank

carefully planned large, deep fore-reef biotope aquarium.

itations, simply scale the same general design down to a 30-

180 Natural Reef Aquariums

Peppermint Basslet

Swissguard or Peppermint Basslet (Liopropoma rubre): a Blackcap Basslet (Gramma melacara): typically found on deep prized specimen for a deeper-water habitat with rocky refuge. walls, but also occurs in shallower waters near some islands.

to 50-gallon aquarium. Instead of the Queen Angel, this tank could be occupied by a Cherub (or Pygmy) Angel, ('Centropyge argi), which is found most commonly at depths greater than 100 feet, ranging from the Bahamas to the West Indies. The Cherub Angel also occurs in the Florida Keys, and companion species might include one or more garden eels, a shoal of iridescent Blue Chromis, or an attractive hamlet (.Hypoplectrus sp.). If your desired habitat is meant to reflect the Caribbean, the Blackcap Basslet ('Gramma melacara) would be a nice choice, albeit not for the budget-conscious. The Swissguard Basslet (Liopropoma rubre) and deep-water Caribbean basslets would make eyecatching tankmates; fishes from the deep fore reef can command breathtaking prices, directly related to the difficulty and danger of collecting at such depths.

Finally, another aquarium possibility would focus on the deep fore-reef microhabitat of Ascension Island, a tiny speck of the British Commonwealth lying about 9 degrees south of the equator, smack in the middle of the Atlantic between Brazil and the African coast. Here, and only here, lives the Resplendent Angel (Centropyge resplendens), an electric-blue and yellow dazzler with obviously close genetic ties to C. argi. Rare in the trade, usually expensive, and beautiful enough to warrant a tank of its own, the Resplendent Angel has proved itself to be as hardy as its cousin.

Anyone who has traveled in this hemisphere knows that coral reefs in the tropical Atlantic are not restricted to Florida, and the dividing line between Atlantic and Caribbean waters is biologically rather arbitrary. (Visitors to various tiny Caribbean islands are often bemused to learn that the eastern side of the island is considered to be bathed by the Atlantic, while the west coast sits in the Caribbean.) The Bahamas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, the Turks and Caicos, Bonaire, Curaçao, Venezuela, and the eastern coasts of Mexico and Central America are all home to stony corals, invertebrates, and fishes that range far and wide in and around the Caribbean and tropical western Atlantic. Ascension Island and Brazil, both sources of marine aquarium specimens, are rather remote from my old Florida Keys haunts — Pigeon Key lies about 5,300 miles northwest of Ascension — but the marine life found

Chapter Six 181

Tropical Reef Fishes CuracaoManicina Areolata

Rose Coral (Manicina areolata): tiny specimens often arrive on live rock.

Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) massive, fast-growing species.

Lavender Coral Specimens

FingerCoral C Pontes po rites): ra re lavender thin-finger or divaricata form

Mustard Hill Coral Image

Mustard Hill Coral (Pontes astreoides): found at depths from 3 to 160 feet.

Branching Fire Coral

Branching Fire Coral (Miliepora alcicor-nis): a hydrozoan and not a stony coral.

in these two locales are not totally foreign to each other.

While similarities exist among the faunas of all these wider Caribbean-Western tropical Atlantic waters, the aquarist bent on duplicating the view remembered from a snorkeling trip to, say, Bonaire, may have to be content with one or two species actually found there, fleshing out the aquarium display with species from Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, or elsewhere. This has more to do with the peculiarities of the aquarium trade than with the distribution of species. Most tropical Atlantic species sold by aquarium retailers come from wholesalers in Florida. These, in turn, may buy specimens from local collectors, may be collectors themselves, and may import species from other regions.

Fortunately, the habitats and aquarium designs de scribed in this chapter as being typical of Florida are closely related to diverse locations throughout the Caribbean basin. Trendy restaurants in Miami now reflect the c:ose ties between frost-free south Florida and its truly tropical island neighbors by featuring "Floribbean" cuisine on their menus. In the same spirit, you may opt for a "Floribbean" aquarium; it may not be scrupulously accurate, but I doubt that anyone will take umbrage at this concession to practicality. Purists, of course, will try to be as true to nature as possible, going to the extra effort (and expense) of finding sources of invertebrates and fishes from the same geographic locale. As in all aspects of this hobby, there is room both for the beginner and the diehard enthusiast bent on replicating a wild reef habitat in miniature.

Reef Aquarium
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