Guide to my first marine aquarium

Guide to my first marine aquarium – PART TWO-
Febbraio 7, 2021
Febbraio 13, 2021
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Guide to my first marine aquarium – PART THREE -


Buying a coral, a shrimp or any other invertebrate is an operation that many unfortunately underestimate: the beginner usually enters the shop, looks in the tanks, catches sight of the animal of his dreams asks the shopkeeper a couple of questions like “Is it easy to keep? Does it fit in my aquarium? What do I give him to eat? ". In the vast majority of cases, the seller says: "Go easy", while he puts the coral chosen in the bag, and it all ends there. With the result that the poor aquarist puts an unsuitable animal in the tank, or worse, already suffering. To overcome all this, here is a series of tips on what and how to buy, depending on the groups of animals. These are obviously tips for beginners, so to begin with, let's say which invertebrates you should forget for the moment


Among the hard corals LPS I strongly advise against all the Goniopore, beautiful but very delicate and short lasting in the tanks of those who have no experience (sometimes unfortunately also in those of the experts). Tubastrea coccinea, whose bright orange color makes it perhaps the most beautiful LPS: it is a coral that must be placed in dim light and must be fed DAILY, one octopus at a time. So forget it unless you have an hour a day to "feed" each octopus. Among the hard corals SPS I do not recommend to those who do not have a minimum experience more or less all the Acropora; in general, however, SPS are not easy animals, especially if you have high pollutants, with nitrates over 3-4 mg per liter. Among the corals without hard skeleton, avoid the red or purple gorgonians and the fan-shaped ones, in principle they are for specialists because they are free of zooxanthellae and must be fed continuously. Also avoid the very branched and pink and red colored soft corals of the genus Dendronephtya, they are not suitable for life in the aquarium. Among the molluscs, avoid Lima scabra, shell-like large clam and red mollusk with long eyelashes, because it lives very little in the aquarium and needs a lot of nourishment. Clams, on the other hand, can live for a long time but are not suitable for beginners, so don't let yourself be tempted. Then, ALWAYS, ALWAYS avoid starfish of all shapes and sizes, except perhaps the sand Archaster: in the aquarium they live little and badly, it is useless to make them suffer. Also keep away from sea lilies, colored nudibranchs, sea cucumbers and many other devilries that the shops sometimes offer.


The animal must appear beautifully swollen, colorful, perfectly set in the shopkeeper's tank; avoid buying LPS as soon as you arrive in the store, which may only seem closed but instead are suffering, and do not listen to the seller if he tells you that "once in the tub he will surely recover". If the shopkeeper is honest he must, at your request, grab the rock or the base with the coral and show you the base of the animal: do not buy it if you notice white areas with the uncovered skeleton, in which you can see the limestone lamellae because the fabric is it is withdrawn: an LPS with the tissue withdrawn is a bit like a tooth at the base of which there is no more gum, that is, sick or dying. Again, forget it. Even a deflated SPS coral with a half-open mouth opening is generally not good. If it is a variety with many polyps, do not buy if you see that some polyps have died leaving only the limestone calyx. Finally, by examining the base of the coral (to always do!), Be careful that there are no aiptasia anemones or other nuisances attacked, which would inevitably end up in the tank.


Do not buy whole cuttings or colonies if you notice white areas at the base or between the branches, and give preference to colonies that plump abundantly and are colored. Again, examine the coral base and be hesitant if you find strange formations or areas with dead polyps. If you see a white or colored crab moving between the branches of the SPS, don't worry, it's a symbiote, take it home too! Before buying, pay attention to the type of lighting of the tank where the coral is kept: if it is different from yours, keep the coral on the bottom for the first few days and then, little by little, place it in its place in the rock.


They must be nice swollen and with nice expanded polyps. Sarcophyton, Cladiella, Sinularia and company periodically make the moult, during which the animal appears shriveled, with closed polyps, and then gets rid of a sort of transparent film. So it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a wrinkled soft because it is moulting or because it is not well: if in doubt, buy only the beautiful expanded animals with open polyps. Also for the Discosoma and Zoanthus the same discourse prefer beautiful open polyps and analyzed before buying them the rock: watch out for unwanted aiptasias and snails such as nudibranchs or the zoanthus-eating snail, the Heliacus, white with black streaks


Before buying a shrimp or similar, check that it is lively, with its antennae moving and busy looking for food on the bottom and among the rocks. Avoid buying very firm specimens, even if they are more colorful, the important thing is the liveliness: among other things, when they are very still it means that they are about to make or have just made the moult, so the stress of transport could kill them. If you buy hermit crabs, remember to ask the shopkeeper to give you two or three extra shells, as hermit crabs are known to use them as a home and change them as they grow. Warning: the crustaceans must be acclimated to the new tank. Put the bag in the tank to even out the temperature, then, drop by drop, add a little water from the aquarium. After about a quarter of an hour you can free the animals.


Before buying a hedgehog, make sure it is healthy: it must not lose its quills, a clear sign that it is sick, and if observed closely it must constantly move the thin tubules it has between the quills. Another useful test is to try delicately to move them: if they are healthy they remain firmly attached to the substrate and, once we stop disturbing them, they “run” (so to speak) to hide among the rocks. As for the ofiures, which are easy to keep, also in this case they must be lively and quickly escape the shopkeeper who tries to capture them; avoid them if they have damaged arms or if they appear limp or not very vital.

The Turbo or Trochus snails or even Cipree and the like must be vital and in motion, you prefer those you see crawling on the glass on the rocks, constantly busy grazing algae. If they are stationary on the bottom or on a rock, they have to resist a lot if you try to detach them: if they come off immediately and the foot appears a bit wrinkled and limp, forget it. Molluscs must also be acclimated as mentioned above for shrimps. Be aware that Turbos etc. are nocturnal animals, so don't worry if they stay still during the day. As for the Spirographs and CocoWorms, make sure that the worm is inside the tube in which it lives. Furthermore, the corolla, that is the "flower" that emerges from the tube, must be beautiful and intact with the feather not wrinkled. As soon as a healthy spirograph sees a sudden shadow, he jumps back, seeing is believing, darkening the lamps with his hand near the animal (with the shopkeeper's permission !!).

Author: Metello Venè

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