Model Design

Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish

Idiot Guide To The Marine Aquarium

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Decorator Crab

This is a good tank for a desktop. The main attraction is found in the Gulf of Mexico and never fails to delight viewers with its remarkable camouflage behavior.

Aquarium Capacity 5 gallons or less

Life Support live rock, live sand, equipment supplied with tank

Lighting compact fluorescent lamp, or light source supplied with tank

Background black

Decoration none

Special Requirements reef water conditions

Fish none Invertebrates

Algae snails 1

Podocheila reisi 1

You will need to replace some live rock periodically because the crab will remove encrusting organisms and attach them to specialized bristles on its carapace. The attached invertebrates and bits of seaweed provide perfect camouflage, as the crab habitually chooses items from its immediate vicinity. When the crab molts, its wardrobe is shed along with its exoskeleton, requiring it to go "shopping." It may select items from its old exoskeleton and reattach them or choose a whole new ensemble from whatever is at hand (or chela). Hardy and easily fed on various kinds of seafood, the decorator arrow crab enhances its camouflage by moving with studied slowness, lest it attract the attention of a hungry fish.

Set this tank up along the same lines as the others described in this chapter.

Elysian Fields

MODEL DESIGN 43

This strikingly beautiful sea slug can be a challenge to keep. I recommend this small tank for experienced aquarists only.

Aquarium Capacity 20 gallons (long)

Life Support live rock, live sand, hang-on filter with built-in skimmer

Lighting two to four fluorescent lamps

Background black

Decoration none

Special Requirements reef water conditions, gentle current

Fish none Invertebrates

Algae snails 1

Elysia crispatae 1

Or Elysia ornata 1

Seaweeds (see text)

As long as the aquarium supplies a lush growth of the appropriate seaweed, these remarkable sea slugs should do well. However, they are quite delicate and demanding. See the model design on page 142 in chapter 9, "Biotope Tanks," for more information on Elysia.

184 Saltwater Aquarium Models

184 Saltwater Aquarium Models

The main thrust of this model design is to create a lawn of seaweed. Live rock, therefore, should be limited to a small amount for biofiltration purposes, placed so as to obscure the filter equipment. Set the tank up and make sure the seaweeds are growing well before you add the slug. The algae snails should help control growth that develops on the glass and should not harm the larger seaweeds intended for Elysia.

MODEL DESIGN 44

Atlantic-Caribbean Nanotank

Cultivated live rock from the Atlantic and the bright red peppermint shrimp make for a colorful desktop display.

Aquarium Capacity 5 gallons or less

Life Support live rock, live sand, equipment supplied with tank

Lighting compact fluorescent lamp, or light source supplied with tank

Background black

Decoration none

Special Requirements reef water conditions

Fish none Invertebrates

Algae snails 1

Brittle star 1 small

Lysmata wurdemanni 1 to 3

Once again, for a small tank such as this, one nice piece of live rock is better than a bunch of stacked-up little ones. Choose a specimen with plenty of colorful encrusting growth. The shrimp may feed on some of the small organisms on the rock, requiring you to replace the piece if significant damage is done. You will have to make this determination as the tank matures, since predicting accurately what the shrimp may find tasty is impossible.

Follow the setup procedures outlined for the other small tanks in this chapter.

Small Tanks 185

Small Tanks 185

MODEL DESIGN 45

Indo-Pacific Nanotank

Indo-Pacific live rock forms the basis for a tank featuring false corals and a zoanthid. Aquarium Capacity 5 gallons or less

Life Support live rock, live sand, equipment supplied with tank

Lighting compact fluorescent lamp, or light source supplied with tank

Background black

Decoration none

Special Requirements reef water conditions, a starter piece of live rock

Fish none Invertebrates

Algae snails 1

Rhodactis sp 3 to 5 individual polyps

Discosoma sp 3 to 5 individual polyps

Parazoanthus gracilis 1 small colony

You may not need any additional live rock if you select false coral and yellow polyps that have attached to a nice piece of rock. Make friends with your dealer and ask him or her to keep an eye out for something appropriate. He or she is sure to cooperate if you mention that you will be buying the nanotank for housing the specimens. The coelenterates all should do well with relatively subdued lighting, so the tank should be both inexpensive and a cinch to set up. Place a layer of live sand on the bottom, then add a chunk of live rock and the algae snail. Wait until the inevitable algae bloom subsides, remove the starter rock, and begin adding the display specimens. Space your additions about two weeks apart. Don't be surprised if the false corals multiply in this tank. If so, give extra ones to friends or explore the possibility of trading with your dealer.

For comparatively little expense, a small saltwater tank can be as breathtaking as a larger one. Remember not to overdo it. Be conservative with your additions of specimens. Quality is more important than quantity. Pick rocks, for example, with as much colorful life present as possible. Avoid using anything artificial, as it will look even more so in a confined space. With time, your microtank, or nanotank, will mature, taking on a natural look. Be patient, and your investment will be repaid many times over as you watch in fascination the goings-on in your "jewelry-box" aquarium.

186 Saltwater Aquarium Models

186 Saltwater Aquarium Models

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