Saltwater

Healthy Fish

We’re dedicated to providing the healthiest fish possible for your aquariums.  We start by hand selecting only the best fish from the best suppliers.  These fish are then quarantined on site, where they are carefully acclimated and placed under close observation until they are ready for sale.  Once the fish have been here for at least a week, and are eating well, and showing no signs of disease or stress, they are moved out to the sales floor and are ready to go home with you.

Reef Aquariums

Here at Preuss Pets, we specialize in reef aquaria teeming with all sorts of fauna from starfish to beautiful sea anemones and elegant surgeonfish.  Have you thought about keeping a saltwater aquarium but heard it was to much work?  Innovations in keeping aquariums have made saltwater aquariums an affordable and reliable display to maintain even without prior experience.  Ask us just how easy it is to get started!

Fortunately they can be quite easy with our support, a well planned out system, and some patience.  One tough part is being patient in the beginning during the setting up of the tank, and learning to make small adjustments, as opposed to big changes.  If this process is done properly, maintenance of the tank should only take 15 minutes/week.  Feel free to stop by the shop, and we can go over the maintenance routines on one of our in store displays so you can see just how easy it can be!

 

Many factors play a role in this question.  How big will your tank be?  What kind of lighting and filtration is appropriate?  Will you be doing a curved tank, or a rectangular one.  Will the support stand be a custom hardwood, or economical pine.  A good estimate is $25-50/gallon, which includes all equipment such as the aquarium, filtration, lighting, furniture, live rock, sand, water etc.  Everything you need to get started along with the first fish and invertebrates.  Stop on by the shop, and we’d be happy to show you some different size aquariums, and design a system just for you.  We can help you pick which options are best to invest in, and also which options you can economize on.

 

The first step is deciding on a location.  The best locations for aquariums are firm surfaces and are often located in areas of the house that you spend a lot of time in.  The next step is ‘leveling’ the aquarium.  Feel free to ask us to demonstrate this in the store.  An unleveled aquarium is the most likely to leak.  Next, put some base pieces of live rock into the tank resting directly on the glass.  Next place the sand into the tank, around the base live rock so it doesn’t move.  Now add just enough water to cover the sand completely.  This will allow the finest particles to settle while the equipment and the rest of the rock are added resulting in a clearer tank upon filling.  Now add the equipment and remaining live rock into the tank.  The equipment includes the heater, protein skimmer, as well as water flow devices.  The lighting can be left aside for now.  Finally, the water can be added to the tank, either by pouring it down onto the live rock, or onto a plastic bag, or a plate placed on the sand.  This will help the water remain as clear as possible once the tank is full.  Regardless of the water clarity, all pumps and equipment should be turned on once the aquarium is full.  Finally the light should be added with the timer set to 10-14 hours a day and run this way for the first week.

During this first week, one should start feeding phytoplankton (we suggest Phytofeast) so the bacteria and other fauna on the live rock and in the sand begin creating a proper ecosystem for the future tank inhabitants.  After 1-2 weeks, or when algae can be seen on the glass or sand, the “clean-up crew” can begin to be added.  Here’s an example of an ideal starting point per 10 gallons of aquarium water.

1 – Trochus snail                     1 – Turbo snails (if hair algae present)

2 – Cerith snails                       1 – Scarlett hermits, or 2 Mexican red leg hermits

One week later, bring in a water sample for testing.  At this point, we can recommend what should be added next.  Generally this will be some additional snails or crabs based on the type(s) of algae not yet under control as well as possibly some fish, shrimp, or even corals.  In general, for the clean up crew, reassess the algae situation every 2-4 weeks and add additional snails accordingly.  Some good clean up crew to consider for a more mature tank would be: Emerald crabs, Nassarius snails, peppermint shrimp, conch, and money cowries.

Patience learn you must! (or Ready are you? What know you of ready?)  J  We all want to add fish immediately, but a couple weeks of patience can really pay off.  There are several reasons to wait, one is the nitrogen cycle.  When we test your water after your tank has been full for a couple weeks, we can help you determine if your tank has ‘cycled’ and if it’s ready for fish.  This is critical as you are trying to set up in your tank.  Generally we add the first fish within 2-4 weeks of setting up the tank.  Most commonly we start with clownfish, but there are other species to consider as well.  Feel free to stop by and check out what fish species will be best to start with in your aquarium.

 

 

Excessive nuisance algae can be one of the most frustrating conditions in an aquarium.  Over the years, we’ve seen about every kind of algae, and are confident that we can help you get it under control.  The first thing to realize is that nuisance algae is normal and is something every aquarist will deal with from time to time.  It can grow out of control in any tank if there are excess nutrients, poor water conditions, or an inadequate ‘clean up crew.’  The ‘clean up crew’ is a group of animals which graze upon algae growth.  The presence of a hard working ‘clean up crew’ in addition to appropriate control of nutrients through water changes, protein skimming etc, are the first two steps to control nuisance algae.  You’ll also want to be sure to maintain ideal levels of KH, Calcium, and pH,  Nitrate and Phosphate.  Phosphate and Nitrate encourage algae growth and should be reduced as much as possible.  Generally the KH should always stay within 8 to 11 degrees,  the calcium between 350 and 450ppm and finally the pH should be between 8.0 and 8.4.  If you are struggling with nuisance algae, it can be helpful to be able to describe the algae (color, location, texture).  This will help us figure out which of the dozens of different algae we’re dealing with, and get us started working with you on the optimal solution.  A digital picture brought in or e-mailed to the store can be an excellent aide.  Water quality testing will also give us a better picture of what is going on in the tank, so bring a water sample from the aquarium to take advantage of our free water testing services.

In summary: There are several ways to combat algae growth.  Often a combination is best!

Eat it faster!
Too few herbivores – Depending on what type of algae is growing, certain fish or invertebrates can help regulate growth.

Make it grow slower!
Fix Overfeeding –  If you’ve got excess nitrate, you’re probably overfeeding.  Food should be added to the tank very slowly, only as fast as the fish are eating it.  If food is flying around the tank, getting by the live rock etc, then there is too much going in too fast.  Don’t worry, almost everyone overfeeds when they get started.  One of the best ways to have an easy to maintain aquarium is to learn to feed the fish efficiently.  We would be happy to show you our techniques in the store at any time.

Add less phosphate – Phosphate comes from two main sources – fish food and water.  The level in the tank should not exceed 0.03 ppm.  The first source we’ll discuss is phosphate from the water used for top off, or water changes.  One benefit of using the purified Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) water purchased from us is that we commonly test our water for purity to ensure we’re using only the best water in our displays.  If you’d like advice on alternate sources of purified water, or would like to install an RO unit to produce your own water conveniently in your own home, we’d be happy to help.  If you use tap or well water, while this may work for some, most people using this approach will find themselves battling horrendous algae problems before very long.

Remove phosphate – Phosphate removers like ‘Rowa-phos’ or ‘Phos-guard’ are excellent tools to control algae.  With tanks that regularly use phosphate removers we find that the glass stays clear for weeks at a time.  Also hair algae etc, will cease growing and be much easier to control.  This approach works very well if you are using RO water already and allows you time to work on adjusting your feeding regime.  Due to the amount of phosphate in unpurified tap water, trying to control this with phosphate remover is ill advised.

Nutrient Export / water changes – Water changes should be around 10% every two weeks if there is little to no nitrate (<5ppm), or up to 20% every week, if nitrates are high (>25ppm).

Nutrient Export / protein skimming – Any good protein skimmer should have a significant accumulation of skimmate every one to two days.  Ideally, the skimmer cup should be cleaned daily, and adjustments made to maximize the skimmate gathered for the next day.  Be sure you know how to adjust and clean your skimmer properly.  We can show you how to do this in the store if you aren’t sure how to do it.  The pump on the skimmer should be cleaned in white vinegar every 2 months.  Also, the air intake tube should be manually cleared of salt buildup at about the same frequency.

Maintain KH, Calcium and pH - By keeping these three important factors in the ideal ranges, good algae like coralline algae will be encouraged to grow and nuisance algae of all types will be discouraged.

Maintain water flow - This is the most important criteria in controlling cyanobacteria, otherwise known as ‘Red Slime Algae.’  You want to make sure there is enough flow and it is maintained by cleaning all pumps in white vinegar as often as every two months.

This could be due to a recent increase in lighting which would be too intense for the coralline algae on the live rock.  It might also be an indication that something else is going on in your tank.  Let’s do a water test at the shop and check our calcium and KH levels and make sure we keep these two parameters in ideal ranges.  If it’s only the rock at the very top of the tank, and there’s a clear line where it starts and stops, it could be a result of leaving the lights on during a longer than ideal water change.  To correct this, you can make efforts to do a more rapid water change, or consider turning out some or all of the lighting while the tank is less than full.  Either way, bring us a water sample and we would be happy to trouble shoot the situation with you.

 

Clownfish are very hardy, and make very good “first” fish for a new tank.  All clownfish at Preuss are captive bred, many here in Michigan.  An interesting fact about clownfish is that they are all born unsexed.  In any group, the dominant fish becomes a female and the next one in line a male.  All others in the groups typically remain unsexed.  For this reason, starting with two small clowns almost guarantees you’ll end up with a pair.  Female clowns can be quite aggressive.  For example, if the male of a pair perishes, replacing it with a new clown might not work.  If the new one is a female, it will likely be killed.  For that reason, we will try to give you a smaller one to ensure it’s unsexed – or perhaps a male.  Even then there is a risk of the old female rejecting it.  It often works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

The most popular clownfish that we offer is the ocellaris clownfish, otherwise known as the false percula.  This species is very durable, and comes in both vivid orange, and black varieties.

For larger tanks, with more aggressive fish, maroon clowns may be a good choice.  They get very large and very aggressive.  Tomato clowns also grow fairly large and aggressive in behavior.  Clarkii and saddleback clowns can be treated similarly.  The others (skunk, percula, occelaris) are the best choices for small community tanks.  It’s always best to get two clownfish at the same time, if you want a pair.  They do fine by themselves, though.

In general, it’s best to stick to one species of clownfish per tank.  They tend to be aggressive towards other clownfish species in all but the largest of aquaria.

Clowns do not need an anemone to be happy.  Clowns will only host in anemones of Indo-Pacific origin.  Bubble-tip anemones (Entacmea quadricolor) are generally accepted by almost all clowns and make the best choice as a host anemone.

We feed our clowns primarily high quality pellets and frozen mysis shrimp.  Reef Nutrition’s Arcti-pods will help keep the orange clowns super orange.

Phytoplankton is a key food item the diverse fauna on your live rock.

Common uses of phytoplankton:

  • Aquariums with live rock should be fed phytoplankton daily.  This is essential, and should start as soon as the first day the rock is placed in the aquarium.  It’s however never too late to start!  Every tank will benefit from regular feeding of a quality phytoplankton.  We use and recommend Phytofeast by Reef Nutrition.  In our experience, it is well preserved, intact, and a good value for its concentration.  Initially feed a small amount, 1ml per 10 gallons per day, which is 1 drop per gallon per day.  Gradually increase to 5ml per 10 gallons, over the course of the first 12-18 months of the aquariums life.

Here at Preuss Pets, we stock a variety of other foods as well:

The following products can be found in the refrigerator and are used on a regular basis in our displays:

  • Phytofeast (1-15 microns) – Plankton designed for filter feeders, such as Tridacnid clams, scallops, feather dusters, and tunicates and other live rock fauna.  Phytofeast should be kept in the refrigerator and it will keep for up to 6 months past the ‘best by’ date on the label.  It’s in black print on the dark blue background.  Shake well before using.
  • Oysterfeast (1-200 microns) – Composed of oyster eggs and ovarian tissue, this will be consumed by LPS and SPS corals, filter feeders, sea fans, and invertebrates.  Excellent for spurring rapid growth, and beautiful color in sps such as acroporas and montiporas!
  • Rotifeast (40-275 microns) – For superior color, vitality and growth-rates Roti-Feast is a highly nutritious plankton feed perfect for hard corals, larval fish, sea fans and other reef carnivores that feed on small zooplankton.   Feed 2.5 teaspoons (.4 ounces) per 100 gallons.  Feed daily and increase dosage as needed.  Before feeding turn the bottle upside down and gently swirl the contents to bring them into suspension.  Add to high flow area of tank or premix in a cup of tank water. Target feeding undiluted product is not advised.
  • Tiggerpods (250-1700 microns) – These live copepods are a great enrichment tool.  They swim upwards with a stimulating, jerky swimming motion which is attractive to both fish and people. Finicky fish love them!  Tigger-Pods are perfect for culturing and restocking reef tanks & refugiums, as well as an excellent feed for fish, including mandarins and pipefish. They breed rapidly producing hundreds of eggs per female.
  • Artipods (3000 microns) – These Artic copepods can be fed to LPS corals and finicky fish, such as Mandarins.  They also have fantastic color enhancing effects on captive bred orange clownfish.

 

This relates to the size of your tank, available filtration, and how large the fish are.  Our staff can talk to you about what is already in your tank and make suggestions about how many more you can add.  Sometimes you’ll hear figures like 1” per 10 gallons, but due to the number of factors involved here,  it’s likely best that we help you plan a population for your specific tank here in the store.

 

Unfortunately no.  These species have very specialized care requirements, and as a result, are not practical for most home aquariums.  If you’re interested in keeping one of these beauties, feel free to stop by and we can discuss the required aquarium system and specialized care with you.

 

We do sell captive bred seahorses!   They are much more durable in aquariums than the wild ones which preceded them.  The primary difference is that the captive bred seahorses feed aggressively upon frozen mysis shrimp, where as the wild ones of the past would generally only eat live food.  In general, seahorses should be kept in what we call ‘species specific’ tanks.  This means that fish population in the best seahorse tank is limited to just seahorses.  Many other fish can be aggressive, and surely swim much faster than the seahorses and out compete them for food.  So if you’d like to look into keeping seahorses, come on by, and we’d be happy to show you our seahorse display and talk about how you could keep seahorses in your aquarium!

 

 

 

Mandarin gobies are pretty neat!  Most mandarins are wild caught, ,and they do very well in mature reef aquariums which get regular feedings of phytoplankton.  Generally the recommendation is that the aquarium has been set up for over 3 months, and is over 30 gallons.  The reason for this is that the mandarins typically only eat fauna produced by the live rock.  It just takes a big mature tank to supply enough food for these hungry guys.  There’s talk that captive bred mandarins will be available soon.  These will most likely be eating frozen foods or even pellets.  This should make them far easier to keep in smaller aquariums.  Talk to a staff member for more information.

 

 

 

At Preuss Pets we do it for free, so why not?  Maintaining the ideal environment for your fish and other inhabitants is key for a healthy tank.  In addition, the water chemistry in aquariums is always changing, so we monitor it regularly to keep everything in ideal ranges.  If we catch something early on, we can fix it and hopefully avoid any losses in your tank.  If you notice something is “off” in the tank, bring in a water sample for testing to give us a better idea of what is going on.  We’re happy to help you with advice to prevent as well as resolve problems.

 

 

water change is removing a certain amount of water from the tank (usually by siphoning water into a bucket or sink).  The removed water is replaced with salt water. Topping off is replacing water that has evaporated with RO (or fresh) water.

Water changes should be done once every week or two with 10-20% water removed and replaced.  For smaller tanks with high fish load, and no protein skimmer, 20% once a week is recommended.  For larger tanks with protein skimmers and lighter fish loads, 10% every two weeks should be appropriate.  For your convenience, we sell both RO and salt water by the gallon to make maintenance easier.

Ideally it’s best to top off the aquarium for evaporation on a daily basis.  This will keep the salinity from changing too much.  Also, it’s best to always make sure the aquarium is topped off with RO water before starting a water change.

 

Sure thing.  We have a courtesy call book for this specific purpose.  Simply let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll do our best to track it down.  For items that we normally stock, but are temporarily out of, we’ll give you a call once they arrive, and at that time if you’d like, we can hold the fish for a short period of time until you have a chance to pick it up.  For other items, that we normally wouldn’t carry, we can arrange for a special order with a deposit.  Availability will vary, so we cannot guarantee an arrival date.  Although we do hand select fish every Friday and look forward to helping you find the fish you’re looking for.

 

Sure!  Preuss Aquarium Innovations is our aquarium maintenance service.  We maintain a variety of aquariums in homes and business across the state.  Our services are customizable to your needs, but typically include: comprehensive water testing, equipment maintenance, algae cleaning, health check of livestock, water changes as well as suggestions for the long term success and beauty of the aquarium.  Feel free to give us a call so we can share with you the peace of mind that our aquarium service customers have been appreciating for decades.

 

The ‘clean up crew’ consists of a variety of snails and hermit crabs.  Each of these organisms occupies different areas of the tank – rock, sand, glass… and consumes different algae – brown film, green hair etc.  We typically offer the following organisms for control of the listed pests:

Snails:

  • Tiger trochus snails – film algae and hair algae on glass and live rock – very hard working, and the best snail at flipping itself upright after falling.
  • Astrea snails – film algae and hair algae on glass and live rock – not as large or hard working as the trochus, but ½ the price.
  • Turbo snails – these guys excel at hair algae on the rocks, but also eat film algae on the glass.  They are generally the largest of the snails in the clean up crew.
  • Cerith snails – sand burrowing snails that also spend some time on the rock and glass.  Excellent for controlling diatom growth (brown filmy algae) on the sandbed.
  • Nassarius snails – sand burrowing snails that are a valuable addition to a mature aquarium.  They excel at keeping the sand from compacting, and consuming a variety of algae in the sand bed.
  • Money cowries – these excellent and exotic looking snails are great for film and hair algae contol.  Only periodically available, but a great addition to most reef aquariums.
  • Fighting conch – excellent for sand beds, especially for tanks struggling with cyanobacteria (red slime algae) on the sand bed.

Crabs:

  • Mexican Red Leg Hermit Crabs – great for hair algae control on the live rock.
  • Scarlett Hermit Crabs – generally larger than Mexican red legs, and also ‘redder’ J  The beautiful bright legs of these crabs make them not only functional crab, but also a cool critter to observe in the aquarium.
  • Emerald crabs – excellent for the control of Valonia (bubble algae) as well as hair algae on the live rock.  Also called Mithrax crabs, these guys are really fun to watch.

 

 

Uh oh, it sounds like it could be Aiptasia.  If it looks like the one in the picture, then that’s most likely what is is.  Aiptasia are small brownish nuisance anemones that can get our of control and cause some headaches.  They are commonly introduced into a system by hitchhiking on live rock.  Aiptasia thrive in an overfed aquarium and quickly overtake the live rock and cause stinging damage to corals.  Thankfully, we have several proven controls to choose from.

Feeding your tank properly can prevent Aiptasia from getting out of hand.  Feed you tank slowly only putting food in as fast as the fish can consume it.  If any food is getting past the fish or more than halfway from the top of the tank, then there is too much food going in too fast.  It is best to add small amounts of food over a longer period of time.  If you think about it, the aiptasia require food to live and reproduce, so their presence alone indicates there’s an overabundance of food available.

In addition to a careful feeding regimen to control aiptasia, we recommend a two pronged approach of predation and the use of products like Joe’s Juice.  By using a product such as Joe’s Juice, you can combat the largest aiptasia.  The goal is not to eliminate all the aiptasia with Joe’s Juice, as all the tiny bits left over can and will become new smaller anemones.   However by reducing the number of large anemones, the predators have an advantage to get the problem under control by consuming the smaller anemones.

After turning off all pumps and powerheads in your tank, take a syringe full of Joe’s Juice and squirt a few drops directly into the mouth of each adult aiptasia or majano.  As a guide, try not to use more than 1ml of Joe’s Juice per day, per 10 gallons of aquarium water.  If you’re only able to kill 4 or 5 in a day, do that each day, or every other day and you’ll gradually get ahead.  After dosing each anemone, use a siphon or empty syringe to suck up/remove the dying tissue.  This will discourage new anemones from sprouting from the deceased one.  Avoid spreading Joe’s Juice onto other corals in the tank.   Just like it harms the anemones, it can also harm the other corals if a significant amount is placed onto them.

As you treat the adult nuisance anemone population, introducing predators to consume any small nuisance anemones is the next step.  For aiptasia, peppermint shrimp, scats and copperbanded butterflies are the best choices.  We recommend 1 peppermint shrimp per 10 gallons, while one scat or copperbanded butterfly is often adequate for larger aquariums.

Majano are another nuisance anemone.  They look almost like a miniature bubble tip anemone.  The often have a bright green base, and short tentacles.

For Majano, the same treatment with the Joe’s Juice applies.  As far as predation, the choices are more limited. Filefish such as Acreichthys tomentosus are the most reef safe, or butterflies such as raccoon butterflies can be used for fish only systems.  Some Acreichthys filefish have been known to consume zooanthids.  This seems to vary by the individual filefish, so they should be added with caution.