Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Fish in our Reef Tanks, Part 1


Being a "reef nerd," fish have always been a second thought for my tank.

While planning past and current tanks, I find myself thinking more about what corals I want to keep rather than what fish I will get.

Only recently have I become fascinated by the fish in my tank and their unique characteristics. Their interactions with each other and their surroundings as well as their usefulness within the tank have become more and more intriguing to me.

Some may recall my 54-gallon tank build from previous posts (type "54" in the search box in the right column if you're unfamiliar). Well, that tank is now history: I've since upgraded to a 120-gallon aquarium. After relocating my orchid dottyback and pair of black & whie Ocellaris clowns I decided that all fish hereafter would be carefully considered before being added to the tank. No more impulse purchases.

Despite my best efforts--water changes, nitrates/phosphates at zero, refugium with cheato growing--I was having a nuisance algae problem. The liverock had a coat of red turf/hair-like algae growing on it. I knew my first round draft fish was going to help me deal with this problem.

I began researching algae eaters so I could choose the right prospect for my lineup. After digging through books and clicking through countless web pages I thought I'd found the perfect candidate: the Orange Spotted Rabbitfish. I purchased one and, lo and behold, he's done a fantastic job cleaning up the tank. 99% of the red algae is gone!

Equally impressive is his personality. When the lights turn on he is the first fish to greet me. His face and body language seem to say, "Look at me! Feed me!" Whenever my hands are in the tank for maintenance, he's a cool cat and could care less that I'm poking around in his habitat. I think he'd even let me pet him. Of course, with his venomous spines, that is not a risk I'm willing to take.

In my new post, "part two," I will recount my search for the "perfect" angelfish.