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  1. Hello, I purchased a young banggai cardinal on 11/7. It is in quarantine and has been swimming normally but hasn’t been eating food from what I can tell. I have tried Ocean Nutrition Prime Reef, PE mysis, Robs Food Polyp Poppers. She took some samples but seemed to spit it out. Other times she wasn’t interested at all. I was in the hospital unexpectedly since Monday morning and just came home tonight. I forgot to have someone check on her and now she is swimming abnormally and doing cork screws and backflips. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I’ve reduced the flow of my HOB filter and added fresh water to bring the salinity back to 1.025. Is there anything that can be causing it to swim this way? I’m worried she won’t make it through the night.
  2. Breeding the Banggai Cardinalfish in your Home Aquarium Introduction The Banggai Cardinalfish or Pterapogon kauderni is a species of cardinalfish endemic to a small area of Central Sulawesi Indonesia around the coasts of 33 islands in the Banggai Archipelago. They are a striking, hardy, disease resistant fish making them a great choice for aquariums. They can be kept singly or in a mated pair as once sexually mature they are no longer tolerant of conspecifics. They are an excellent community fish leaving all other fish, coral and invertebrates alone and will even be hosted by long-spined sea urchins (Diadema antillarum) as well as various corals and anemones. Due to their demand, limited distribution in the wild, and the ease of raising their fry they are an excellent choice for captive breeding. They form non-monogamous pairs with the females willing to mate with multiple males. The following is my personal experience with breeding these amazing fish in my home aquarium over the past three years. Getting a Mated Pair and Encouraging them to Breed The Banggai Cardinalfish lacks any easily visible sexual dimorphism when young but develops some differentiating characteristics once mature such as males having a larger more “bull dog” looking mouth as well as growing longer second dorsal fins and broader pelvic fins. The easiest way for the average hobbyist to get a mated pair is to purchase 4-5 fish and let them form pairs on their own. Once you see a pair form you can re-home the remainder of fish. There is however another way. Between the pelvic and anal fins there will be either one or two small vents. Females having one vent and males having two. These vents are exceptionally hard to see when young but if you look closely you may be able to see them, feeding heavily will help the vents become more visible. Taking photos or video with a DSLR camera and macro lens can also help. See the photos below, single vent on the female (left) and two vents on the male (right). There is no secret to getting them to breed. Give them a quality diet and an appropriately sized and maintained aquarium and they will reward you with a new fry every 2-4 weeks. When the female is ready to transfer the egg sack she starts following the male closely and starts vibrating on his side then on the other. While the male shows his readiness by flaring out his mouth. They will do this on and off for some time and then in a flash the egg sack is quickly fertilized and transferred to the safety of the males mouth. The male will hold the eggs anywhere from 23-30 days and release anywhere from 10-20 fry at a time. Once the male is holding the eggs the female will become more territorial and protect the male. Even when the male is not holding the females tend to be more aggressive but when he is holding this behavior is exaggerated. Collecting the Fry When the male is close to releasing I put in a several fake sea urchins made of epoxy and zip tie clippings and remove mechanical filtration as well as making sure all pumps have foam guards to prevent fry from getting sucked into pumps. Alternatively you could somehow prevent them from entering the sump but all methods I tried restricted the flow and it was ultimately easier to just remove the socks and rescue any that ended up down there. You'll know he's close because you will see the little baby fish trying to push their way out of the male's mouth in the days before he lets them go as seen below. The male will tend to release the fry in the hours before the lights turn on or just after they’ve turned off. The fry will tend to go to the sea urchins and especially the ones in lower flow areas. The sea urchins provide shelter from predatory fish and groups them together for you to easily collect. On several occasions I've turned the flow off and been able to just slowly lift the sea urchin up and the fry will travel up with the urchin, then I just put a net under and slowly lift them out, setting the fake urchin aside once out of the water. (Fake sea urchins made of epoxy and zip tie clippings) I check just after lights out, in the middle of the night if I'm up, and first thing in the morning every day until they are all released. Also, it's common for fry to be released over the course of a couple or a few days so don't assume he's empty until you see him eat again. As he releases them I snatch them up with a small net trying to damage as few corals as possible. A bright flashlight after lights out will be key with this method. And I put them into either a breeder net or a Tupperware with slits cut into it, just enough to provide some flow but not large enough for them to escape. I keep them in there for the first couple weeks or so before transferring to a 10 or 20 gallon of their own. While the fake sea urchin method is effective for display reef systems a dedicated breeding system for just the Banggai pair and their fry is obviously ideal. (Baby Banggais with tiny Fungia corals in a Tupperware) Feeding the Fry Once released the fry will readily eat Artemia nauplii (Baby Brine Shrimp) and culturing them was the easiest way I found to keep the fry fed. It's important to note however that Artemia alone is not the best source of nutrition so you should enrich the Artemia with Selcon and its included HUFA's. The newborn fry will be prone to shock events known as “Sudden Fright Syndrome”. When shocked by the lights turning on or some other stressor they will sink to the bottom of the tank and lay on their side often times breathing heavy and will sometimes die from the ordeal. The supplementation of HUFA’s to their diet will decrease sudden fright syndrome occurrences and dramatically decrease or prevent mortality from those instances. In my case it was dramatic, before I started enriching I would lose 1-2 from each fry and have several sudden fright syndrome episodes. But early on I found out I could enrich the Artemia. After I started enriching my Artemia, I did not lose a single one for the remainder of the time I bred these fish and did not observe any episodes of sudden fright syndrome. Artemia will hatch in 12-24 hours depending on temperature, hatching faster when kept at a higher temperature. I found any standard 40w Incandescent bulb will produce adequate heat in my home. Artemia will be most nutritious in the first 12 hours after hatching when they still have their egg sacks attached but will need enrichment after that. For me it was easier to just enrich every batch on a set schedule. (My live food setup, the 10 gallon was a holding tank for blackworms) For the first two weeks I feed Artemia heavily every 3 hours during the day. Once transferred to the grow-out tank I begin weaning them off life foods and onto either frozen or Reef Nutrition TDO. I start offer very small amounts of prepared foods and less and less of the Artemia and eventually they will switch over. I’ve had the best luck with frozen spirulina brine shrimp. Then once I have them eating prepared foods they are ready to be sold to local hobbyists or to the local fish store.
  3. I got two banggai cardinals from the local fish store five days ago. One of them died hours after I got him, so now there is only one left in my 10 gallon tank and he didn't have any sign of active eating. I tried flakes, pellets, freeze dried mysis shrimp, frozen brine shrimp, and the garlic dipped version of all the foods above. Right now he seems to interest in the freeze dried mysis shrimp the most, but will spit it back out. He will also go after the frozen brine shrimp, but will stop in front of the food and won't even try to put them in his mouth. I also have two cleaner shrimp, and one tiny neon goby that were introduce to the tank with him. The cleaner shrimps sometimes will accidentally touch him with their antenna, and the cardinal will swim away, but beside that, there is nothing aggressive in the tank. I'm really concern that he will eventually starve to death, so my questions are: 1. How long can the banggai cardinal stay alive without eating? Some people said it took them almost a week for their fish to start eating, so I'm not sure is this my case or he is just killing himself by not eating. 2. Is he getting affect by the death of the other fish? They were keep in school back in the store, so maybe he's appetite is getting affect by his mood since he doesn't use to being alone? 3. He is about 2 inch from the head to the tail, so I don't think he is carrying eggs, but I have saw him acting weird by open his mouth really wide in second and doing something like throwing up. He is also slow at detecting food. Unless the food is sinking right in front of him or I use a fork to tape the water to get his attention, he never realized there is food in the water. Also, he never swim really fast when he go after the food like the other fish, so is he injured or sick? I don't really see any obvious things that look wrong. 4. I have a small quarantine tank that is about one gallon, should I separate him out from the 10 gallon tank so its easier for him to detect food? Or I shouldn't change his environment that often in order not to stress him out? 5. Should I keep trying other foods like cyclopeeze or maybe even some boiled egg yolk? I think they feed all of their fish live baby brine shrimp back in the store, but now he seems to have a greater interest in the mysis shrimp. I'm not sure is he spiting them out because they are freeze dried instead of frozen? So is there going to be a different between freeze dried and frozen? 6. One of my cleaner shrimp molted in the tank, and the shell was in a few large piece instead of whole when I found it. Is there a chance that he ate some of the shell, so maybe he is not eating because of he is full from the shell? I'm sorry that's a lot of questions at once, but I'm really worried that he is going to die. I'd greatly appreciated to any thought, suggestion, and past experience since this is my first time keeping a saltwater tank.
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