Tag Archives: Lionfish

Lionfish in trouble

9 Apr

Oh my goodness, my Dwarf Lion acts so healthy but I think he/she is in trouble. I just saw this bulge in the anal area, a prolapsed intestine I believe. What can I do? Nothing much I’m afraid. I’ll stop feeding the Lion for awhile, and make a water change soon.

I fear the worst. How can this just pop back inside? Not likely. And is it my fault? Did I overfeed the Lion and cause this?

This is my favorite fish. The prettiest,  most amazing fish.

Lionfish eating Smelt

27 Mar

I fed the Lionfish this morning before I cleaned up the tank .

Frozen Smelt are too big for my Dwarf Lion and even though I sliced this one, it was still too big.

The Clownfish and Royal Gramma get a meal of Smelt eggs and scraps.

I Smelt It: Part One

26 Feb

As my Lionfish depletes the Silverside minnows, I have been intending to get to the Asian market and buy some frozen Smelt.
Tonight I did just that, stopping after work and finding a 2 pound bag for $5.40. I was thrilled. Compare that to about a dollar per ounce for Silversides. The Smelt are under 20 cents per ounce.
The Smelt are much larger than the Silversides and when I got home I noticed the bag said Canadian Lake Smelt. I had a lot to learn about Smelt. Are they freshwater? I thought they were saltwater, and I want saltwater fish to feed my saltwater Lionfish. As I have mentioned before, it is imperative that a Lionfish eats saltwater fish. The fat content of freshwater fish like Goldfish and Rosy Red Minnows is not healthy for Lions.

OK, back to the story.
I thawed out a few Smelt in a bowl of cold water. I picked the smallest one and sliced it lengthwise, making it about the same size as a Silverside Minnow. I took it over to the Saltwater tank and swished it around the surface of the tank, trying to get the Lionfish’s attention. He must not be very hungry tonight because he ignored it.
As I swished the fish around, many little eggs went floating out into the water. The Clownfish and Royal Gramma started snapping them up!
After they ate I took the remains of the Smelt to my freshwater fish where they enjoyed Smelt Cavier as well. Here is an interesting thing that I just read on Wikipedia:
Smelt is also served in Dim sum restaurants deep fried with the heads and tails attached as Duō luǎn yú (多卵魚), which loosely translates as  “fish with many eggs”.

Cool, “Fish with many eggs”.  So why is that? It appears that at least some species of Smelt DO live their lives in the Ocean but they go to freshwater lakes to spawn, where they are captured, hence the captured ones may be full of eggs. So far I have only one fish to go by! Not Goby, which were also for sale at the Asian Market.
We have a popular Fish Market/Restaurant in town but they have NOTHING compared to this Asian market.  I can’t wait to go back and buy seafood there.

Stay tuned for Part Two of The Smelt Story, which involves Beer.


11 Feb

My happy hungry Dwarf Lionfish!

I have been feeding this Lion with frozen Krill  and frozen Silversides (a saltwater minnow).  The Silversides cost about $1 per ounce, which is not bad, but I have read that some fish-keepers have discovered that buying frozen Smelt at an Asian market is cheaper way to go. I  will need to buy food soon so I’ll let you know if I find the Smelt and how much it costs.

Note: After seeing this post my brother commented, “I bet the Clownfish are saying FEED THE LIONFISH, too!”

The Lion is a Chameleon (It’s about a fish!)

23 Jan

You’ve seen my Dwarf Lionfish.  Beautiful colors. Deep oranges and browns, bright blue eyes, white flecks all over, fins spread out wide.

He is a camouflage artist! Sometimes I can’t spot him right away. I have to get very close to the tank to see him, he nestles up against a piece of coral and doesn’t move.

Tonight he just amazed me.

I had given away a lot of the plants that are growing in my salt tank, it was just getting too thick in there. The tank is more open now, it is brighter. The dead corals that were under the plants are exposed, and they are quite pale. Tonight the Lionfish snuggled up against a piece of that off-white coral, and you can see from this picture what he did. His color is very faded and he has his fins clamped in a strange way. I swear, I would think he was sick but I am convinced this is something that is natural, like a chameleon.

I’ll just let the picture show you what I mean.

Saltwater tank made easy

22 Dec

I set up a Saltwater tank 4 years ago,  I started with 2 Ocellaris Clownfish which are still alive, a Royal Gramma who is still alive, and a Blue Damsel, who died of old age. I recently added a Dwarf Lionfish who is doing great. I have bought NO other fish.

I have not had any smashing success with the invertebrates. Little hermit crabs would live a few months , then disappear, Feather Duster worms also faded and died. My worst choice was to try a Bubble-tipped Anemone and it also died a slow death. Currently there is a healthy population of snails, micro tube-worms, and various other worms and “bugs”.

Saltwater can be expensive, VERY expensive. But my saltwater tank is not. Essentially it is the same as a freshwater setup, with the addition of a Protein Skimmer, which is essential.

I do not have “reef quality” lighting. I do have two fluorescent bulbs over the tank, which I would call strong freshwater lighting. The bulbs I have are 10,000K and 6,700K, which is enough to grow the plants in my tank but would never be good enough for live corals. If you want live corals and anemones in your tank start reading, a lot, on other sites about those subjects. If you want a tank with a few healthy fish and some nice green plants let’s keep going.

Locally I can get rocks that are limestone. The bedrock in this part of Iowa was once in an ocean and this limestone is full of fossil coral and shells, really neat stuff to look at. A few of these rocks in the tank looks great but also serves to help keep the pH of the tank around an 8.0

Our city water is also high pH, at least 7.8, which is also perfect for African Cichlids by the way. But back to the saltwater, I just use a little sand on the bottom of my tank, about an inch deep, but you should probably buy a bag of shell-based substrate that is made for a saltwater tank to keep that pH in line.

Then you get the salt mix. Any brand name salt mix will work. You need a hydrometer to measure “specific gravity”, which tells you the salt concentration. Try to set yours close to 1.022. Add salt to make it higher, add water to make it lower.

Of course you have a heater, right?  Pretty obvious.  Set it to at 78F. Don’t go below 75, and 80 is wonderful.

I wish Skimmers worked in freshwater too, but they don't.

The Protein Skimmer. I use the cheapest kind you can buy, an air-driven skimmer. Mine is called a Berlin-type skimmer. It uses a regular aquarium air pump and a wooden air stone.  It pushes micro-air bubbles through a narrowing passage, then the air bubbles come out into the top chamber and expand and “fractionate”, they burst into separate components and the fish pee (and other proteins) stays in the skimmer.

Google “Protein Skimmers” and read about them, decide what you want. My cheap skimmer cost about 35 bucks a few years ago, plus the air pump, tubing, adjustable valve, I must have 60 bucks in the skimmer. You can spend hundreds if you want. I did see a Skimmer, similar to mine, at PetCo recently for around 50 dollars.

You can see the bottom part of the Protein Skimmer.

You need a filter. In my 35 gallon tank I am currently using 2 side filters with cartridges that slide in and out, just like in a freshwater tank. These filters claim to pump about 150 gallons per hour. I don’t use any carbon in the filter but you sure can.

I was using only one side filter but when I added the Lionfish I figured he was adding a large biological load to the tank, which is to say he eats and poops a lot.

Time to give away some Caleurpa. See the little Lionfish hiding at the bottom right.

I keep two types of aquatic plants in my saltwater tank for the same reason I like plants in my freshwater tanks. They are natural filters. They take waste and turn it into “leaves”. One of the plants I have is a type of Caleurpa, which is truly a “macro-algae”, an algae with big leaves. The other plant is called Chaetomorpha, which looks like a blue-green scrub pad.

The Chaetomorpha is the plant on the far left.

I’ll write a separate post about the Caluerpa because there are some issues that people have with using it but I like it. I have not had the problems that I have read about.

The real reef experts in the Saltwater community use Caluerpa and Chaetmorpha in their “refugiums”. A refugium is a tank that is connected to their main tank and used to filter their water. In a way, my main tank is a glorified refugium. I like it. It’s cheap. When I want to do corals someday I’ll buy the expensive lights and filters and…wait a minute, I ain’t gonna do that.

What else do you need? Ah yes, PATIENCE. Set up the tank, run it for weeks with no fish. If you can, borrow a handful of  sand/gravel from someone’s saltwater tank. That will speed up the process. Your tank has to “cycle”. Read all about it.

When I set up this tank  I used some Mollies to cycle it.  Buy a pair of Mollies, keep them in a small tank or bucket and add a little saltwater to their tank over the course of several days until they are in nearly full-strength saltwater, then add them to your tank.  In my case, the Molly Mom had babies in the tank and it took me weeks to catch them when I finally got my Blue Damsel. I started with a Blue Damsel because they are tough and only cost 4 bucks. You can leave the Mollies in the tank or take them out and slowly convert them back to freshwater (or preferably brackish water but that’s another subject!).

This Balloon Molly was born in my saltwater tank.

If your ONE fish lives a month, add another one or two. It should take you months to stock your tank, not days , not weeks, but MONTHS.  PATIENCE!

I have had this Royal Gramma for 4 years.

Feed them good food, make 20% water changes every month, monitor and understand the skimmer, which means empty it and clean it so it functions properly.

If  you can take care of a  freshwater tank and understand your fishes behavior, you can easily do the same with Saltwater.

Don’t starve your Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish

6 Dec

My Little Lion lives with two Ocellaris Clownfish

I bought a new fish for my salt-water tank. A Dwarf Lionfish, also known as the Dwarf Fuzzy Lionfish.

My new little Lion was in a bare 30 gallon aquarium and the previous owner said he was eating shrimp pellets. I don’t think  that he had the fish very long, and I don’t believe he was eating anything, unless it was the guys other fish because the tank was empty.

The Dwarf Lion is a predator, I mean a killing machine. In the wild they are a night-time feeder, so I shut off the main tank light,  added a group of smallish guppies, and let him do his thing.  So he learned that guppies are food. A few days later, I added guppies in the daylight. Then, a few days later, small feeder goldfish. POW, gone. Now he knows that goldfish are food. By this time, he realizes that when I approach the tank , open the tank lid, and give the other fish a little food, that it is dinnertime. ( I think it helped to always feed the other fish first to get his attention)

After a week of one or two goldfish per day it’s time to convert to a healthier diet. Lionfish should not be fed a constant diet of freshwater fish. Search the internet for more information on this topic.

They are much healthier and long-lived on a diet of shrimp and a frozen saltwater fish called Silversides. Silversides can be purchased at almost any store that sells tropical fish. Look in the freezer where they have Brine Shrimp.

This post is called Don’t Starve Your Lionfish for a good reason. Many Lionfish owners say that to get your Lion to start eating the Silversides you must starve them for a week to make them attack almost anything. That’s when you drop in a Silversides.

I have a different approach.

Continue to give him feeder goldfish. Hold the goldfish by the tail, wiggle it at the surface until the Lion is almost upon it. Then let it go. BAM, it’s over.  OK, now, after a few days of this, hold the goldfish and don’t let go. Wiggle the fish at the surface and let half the body stay under as the Lion approaches.  Believe me, he’ll take it right out of your fingers. He may knock the fish loose and have to go chase it, but he’ll get the idea. NOW, wait a day or so, don’t feed the Lion. He won’t be starving but he will be hungry. Thaw out a Silversides.  Go through the same routine you would do when you fed him goldfish. Open the lid, feed the other fish a little, wiggle that thawed Silversides under the surface and he will come up and smack it.

If he hits the Silversides and doesn’t swallow it quickly enough it may sink to the bottom of the tank.  If you don’t have other fish or scavengers that will eat it, get a net, scoop it out, and try again. He won’t eat the Silversides if it’s just laying on the bottom.

The Dwarf Lion will spend time in this downward-facing position, alert for live food scurrying along the bottom