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Thread: how to tell if my pipe fish are eating enough?

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    Apprentice clownfish4me's Avatar
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    Question how to tell if my pipe fish are eating enough?

    i have two pipe fish that I'm wondering if there getting enough to eat. i was told there zebra pipe fish by the lfs guy that sold them to me but every picture i found of a zebra looks different than mine. my pipe fish look like little dragons with wide cheeks, and a long snout (about 1/4 inch.) and there about 6 inches long. they cruse the rock work and substrate in my 55gal. reef tank looking for food. i try to get them to eat brine shrimp frozen and on two occasions live, but they seemed to be not impressed with my efforts! i watch them and it seems there mouth is to small. it looks like a small straw, and i notice them siphoning or picking at something really small in the tank but by the time i see them go for it its over! i miss it every time i cant tell if they missed or got what there hunting. they hang out close to each other but occasionally split up and i find them at different ends of the tank. its too cool watching them hunting through the polyps and other corals in the tank. i never notice there belly bulge out when there full or even know if pipe fish even swell at the belly when they have eaten. also i am switching the whole 55gal. set up over to a 90 gal. tank and i was thinking if there would be enough food for them. so that is my dilemma, any thoughts on this? i have red the other treads about pipe fish and i see post saying you can train them to eat frozen food, how do you do that? thank you for what ever help you can give....joe

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    Master Reefer saxman's Avatar
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    *buzzer sounds due to LFS mis-ID*

    you most likely have a species of what is commonly known as dragon-faced pipefish. the two species you're likely to encounter are Corythoichthys haematopterus or C. intestinalis. to be honest, i've never heard of a pipe commonly referred to as "zebra" pipes, altho i realize that folks tend to get creative when they don't know a species. if you post a pic, we can give you a positive ID.

    that being said, dragon-faced pipes feed on copepods, and what you're probably witnessing are the pipes snicking copepods off of the LR. your best bet would be to add a refugium and lots of LR to whatever system you put them in, as they will eventually deplete the system of pods.

    since dragons have such small snouts, they can only eat small prey/food items. many keepers have had luck with feeding them frozen cyclopeeze, altho some of these fish never switch. you must be prepared to offer them newly hatched BBS (<24 hrs old) or live copepods if the pipes don't take to frozen.

    HTH
    Greg

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    Apprentice clownfish4me's Avatar
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    i moved all the sand, rock, water, livestock and coral from a 55gal to an upgraded 90gal. i also added 40lbs. of new live sand (partially mixed in) and i am worried that i may have killed off most of my copepods and amphiopods in my tank as i can no longer see them like before. i am also still working with inadequate (?), filtration. i have been using a hang on bio wheel and a canister filter. my main priority is to try and get my planned 40gal sump/fuge built! i have a 40gal aquarium (hope its big enough) i am planing to add baffles and refuge section to for the 90gal but i am needing to know the best design/configuration and i am replacing a broke piece of glass from the side of the tank for the 'fuge. now for my QUESTION- is newly hatched brine shrimp small enough and do you think my two pipe fish will be able to eat them, or take to that type of foods? any and all help/suggestions are greatly appreciated! thanks, joe aka: ( clownfish4me )
    Last edited by clownfish4me; 09-24-2007 at 04:53 AM. Reason: spelling error

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    Master Reefer saxman's Avatar
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    BBS are fine. i know a guy who uses them as supplemental food for his dragon-faced pipes when his pods run low. this guy has the most gorgeous dragon-faced pipes i've seen in captivity. he keeps them in a reef-type setup that is planted with macro.

    as far as getting them to take frozen, try adding some frozen cyclopeeze when you feed them...just a bit at first, and try to see if they take it "by mistake". once they do that, gradually decrease the live food and increase the frozen. if this doesn't work, you may need to let the pipes get kinda hungry (try fasting them for a day, but no more than two), then try feeding them the frozen food.

    i've also just heard of some dragons taking frozen mysis, altho i suspect they're the H2O mini mysis. i'm trying to find out more about this as i write this. i'll let you know.

    pipes don't actually look "fat", per se', but a malnourished pipe will definitely appear skinny.
    Greg

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    Grand Master Reefer JustDavidP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saxman View Post
    pipes don't actually look "fat", per se', but a malnourished pipe will definitely appear skinny.
    Perfect answer.... listen to Sax-dude... he knows.

    A "skinny" pipe will sometimes look like an overturned canoe. What I mean is though they look robust from the side, you can see the concave belly from the underside. You will NOT notice this unless you can see it from bottom up. Again, like an overturned canoe.

    Dave
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    Apprentice clownfish4me's Avatar
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    so there belly wont poke out like a fish after it eats? there bellys are still rounded and not sunk in like you describe i just did not know if they bulged anywhere along there body like a snake does or like my ell after they eat. there long and slender but not puny. i have went and started some bs eggs to hatch to see if they go for it. i hope they like them ill feed them that until i notice my pod population increasing back to its normal size. i searched the tank for about 2 hours after the lights went out last night and did not spot a single pod cross the path of the beam from my flash light. the pipe fish seem to have expanded there hunting grounds to the entire tank, before they prety much stayed close by each other and to one end of my tank. dwindled food supply has got to be the reason for the sudden change. (now lets see if i cant get the problem fixed!) lol ill keep you posted. pictures of my pipes comming soon! yeah!!

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    Master Reefer saxman's Avatar
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    nope...syngnathids (seahorses and pipefish) don't really have the same type of stomach as other fish. they don't really "hold" the food for digestion, which is why they must eat daily. their stomach is more like a tube with numerous villi on the lining, which absorb the nutirients from the food as it passes thru. consequently, there is no "bulge" of food as it sits there digesting.

    your pipes will quickly wipe out your tank's pod supply. it took our pair of D. janssi all of a week to clean out a 20L refugium that was TEEMING with pods. if you have a sump or refugium, try adding a few wads of Chaetomorpha in it...pods LOVE the stuff. then you can place them into the display for the pipes alternately, or simply shake them into the tank. if you don't have one, try using a HOB fuge, or making one from a large HOB power filter.
    Greg

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    Apprentice clownfish4me's Avatar
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    heres a few pictures of my pipe fish. if you look you can see the pipe fish hunt the little pods and baby brine shrimp i fed them.



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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Nice shots!
    Carmie


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    Master Reefer THEJRC's Avatar
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    The pipes appear fine, careful with feeding brine as they will need to be gut loaded to be even near the nourishment quality of most copepods and/or amphipods. Ten to one the amphipods your not going to be so worried about it's species such as tigriopus japonicus and californicus copeods as well as marine mysis shrimp (all occurring quite naturally in modern reef aquaria) for them to snack on.

    In my experience most people have a harder time keeping the fish safe and comfortable (pipes stress super easy) than feeding so long as they have adequate aquaria and equipment (refugium). Get a fuge on there quick if you want to easily support these guys.

    You may also look at your feeds, do you add phytoplankton at all to your tank. Many argue that phyto is overused (and even though I tend to be a huge proponent of plankton I tend to agree) in reef aquaria. It's really somewhat unknown how many coral species truly benefit from additions of phytoplankton or what species of algae for that matter. Stick with what is known. Copepods will thrive when fed Nannochloropsis, Isochrysis, or simple nannochloris... most off the shelf phytoplankton have Nannochloropsis as it's one of the simplest to culture (coincedentally it's one of the most nutritious as well if harvested in log state). Feed from the bottom up. Add some phyto to feed the pods which will increase in population so long as they have a place to hide and thrive and they will eventually strike a balance with the predators for population.

    Bottom line though, get a fuge set up asap... make it as low flow as possible and avoid if at all possible any needlewheel pumps. Chaetomorpha or caulerpa are both great places for copepods to breed but you will most likely have better luck using a berlin type system (rock rubble with lots of surface area) or a mixture (I have two refugiums, one has a DSB with live rock rubble and Chaeto, the other bare bottom with rubble and caulerpa, both teem with life).

    If you need a jump start theres a ton of companies out there offering copepods for addition (ala reef nutrition tigger pods) or if your lucky there will be someone nearby in a reef club willing to suck some out of an established tank or mayhaps he cultures them..... but these guys eat, be completely aware! Like sax said, they tend to eat all day every day and thus you need to support the feeding habits.

    From the pics, they look healthy and decent, your doing okay for now but if they're expanding the search territory you may need to act sooner rather than later.

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    Grand Master Reefer CarmieJo's Avatar
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    Hi Joe and to TR! Thanks for the informative post. It's good to see another Dibsian over here.
    Carmie


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    Master Reefer THEJRC's Avatar
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    couldnt resist.... john drug me in and I saw a post on my beloved pipes.......

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    Insightful Reefer dkone's Avatar
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    <-- I am always to blame, it's my fault, I confess ! there, my soul feels better already ! and Welcome Joe ! good to have another scmas'er here to torment !
    John
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    What tank size is the mini for a pipefish? do they do better in pairs??? What kinda fish can they live with?
    JENN



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    Grand Master Reefer JustDavidP's Avatar
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    Love when new folk open old posts Jen... good question!!

    Some pipes, like the bluestripe, can live in reef-like conditions. Any pipefish that "darts", or "flicks" about the reef, in constant motion, can handle (and may prefer) medium, indirect flow. Others, who are larger, more "robust" and "lazier", prefer slower, lagoon or grass bed type, flow patterns. It all comes down to who they are, and where they evolved.

    The bluestripe stay rather small. Here's a picture of my boy (given to another hobbyist with a girl )



    Most larger, more sedentary pipe fish are better off in a species only tank or one with very docile tank mates. Heavy flow will push them around too much and also affect feeding habits. Aggressive eating tank mates may even starve them, robbing their dinners.

    Smaller pipes that associate with live rock, corals, or algae, often frolic and feed in stronger currents, but still don't like direct flow. They often sleep hunkered into live rock, sometimes parallel to them, out of flow when they rest. Otherwise, they can tolerate faster tanks with SPS etc.

    Dave
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    Your welcome dave!! I have been all over this sight just reading a bunch of threads. I love this sight. Thank you all for all your helpful advise!!!

    Now back to the pipefish. What tank size do they need??
    JENN



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    Grand Master Reefer JustDavidP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenn4183 View Post
    Now back to the pipefish. What tank size do they need??
    Which ones I've had juvenile Northern Pipefish (Syngnathus fuscus), from the Atlantic, in a 55 Gallon tank, but they get big. I released them a year later into...well.. the Atlantic

    The bluestripe pipe I showed, can live in a smallish tank, 30 gallons or more.

    Alligator pipes, (Syngnathoides biaculeatus) can get to be a foot or so and need larger tanks.

    Dave
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    If you're looking for me, and I'm MIA from the board, email me at JustDavidP (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Experience in aquaria, 37 years. Experience in marine, 22+ years. Experience in Reef Keeping, 8 years. Always a newbie!

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    Cool Thanks Dave!!!!
    JENN



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    Grand Master Reefer JustDavidP's Avatar
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    De nada.. now.. go get some sleep When you wake up, google "seahorse.org" or "sygnathid.org" and start reading there. Tell em I say hello.

    D
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    If you're looking for me, and I'm MIA from the board, email me at JustDavidP (at) gmail (dot) com.

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    Apprentice Ryan Underwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clownfish4me View Post
    heres a few pictures of my pipe fish. if you look you can see the pipe fish hunt the little pods and baby brine shrimp i fed them.


    Nice pipefish!



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    Apprentice clownfish4me's Avatar
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    Thanks ryan....
    They are alot of fun to watch....

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