Native marine aquaria are pretty scarce. Little information exists on how to be successful in maintaining healthy coldwater marine systems in domestic aquaria.

Hopefully this record of my failures, triumphs and ideas will assist others interested in keeping some of our fascinating, beautiful and often little known sea denizens in aquariums.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


The tank is lightly stocked as far as fish goes. To maintain water purity I plan on feeding as sparingly as possible. A number of undesirable have crept in unnoticed on rocks, but as I regularly release stock and replace with something different this isnt a huge issue.

Below is a list of the livestock

2 no. Corkwing Wrasse about 1" long
2 no. thick lipped grey mullet 3/4" long
1 no. shanny 1/2" long (undesirable hitcher on rock)
at least 4 no. crab- probably shore crab about 3-5mm (undesirable hitcher)
10 no. common hermut crab - shell size of 5mm - 12mm
85 various snails - including flat periwinkle, edible periwinkle, banded periwinkle, toothed winkle, flat topshell, grey topshell and 2 no. netted dog-whelk
12 no. beadlet anemone
20 no. snakelocks anemone
4 no. warty anemone
2 no. unidentified spider crab - heavily covered in seaweed camouflage
6 no. common prawn
5 no. mussel
4 no. blue cushion stars 2mm - 10mm
~6 no. brittle stars approx 1mm body size - really tiny

This list is not exhaustive, every day almost I see something new that hitherto had remained hidden on a rck somewhere.

Good fishes include the mullet which doesnt harm anything and grazes on algae
Shanny are voracious, intelligent and omnivorous, the suck hermit crabs out of their shells and rapidly demolish barnacles.
Bass grow very rapidly and eat everything
Tompot blennies are even more voracious than Shannies - they will even eat anemones!
Wrasse are good grazers but take chunks out of anything - they nip at snails and barnacles and dont seem to like company much - I have 2, one will have to be released soon as its getting bullied by the slightly larger one
hermit crabs are excellent - part of the cleanup crew
snails are essential for the grazing of algae, under my lighting conditions hair algae growth is very strong, large numbers of snails - roughly 4x natural density is currently used to bring growth under control - then most will be released back again.
Shore crabs are almost impossible to keep out but have to be trapped and removed as soon as they grow over 30mm or so when they can become a serious predator.
Netted dog-whelk are a great scavenger and rapidly eat leftover foods
Prawns are another essential part of the clean-up crew
cushion and brittle stars are great scavangers of organic detritus that accumulates in hard to get at corners

I feed all the inhabitants on frozen brine shrimp and frozen rotifer. Occasionally I also add a single frozen whitebait or 2. Feeding is light - about every 48 - 72 hours a single cube of either.

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