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Old 03/21/2019, 08:21 AM   #576
Michael Hoaster
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That is surprising!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 03/21/2019, 05:15 PM   #577
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Very informative thread


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Old 03/25/2019, 06:29 AM   #578
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Thank you houstonreefer!

I made substantial progress on the faux sycamore roots for my 75g FW stream tank this weekend. I put about two hours of work on it Friday afternoon, and another couple hours on Saturday morning. I applied plaster cloth to give the structure some more form, and to provide something for the grout to adhere to other than just smooth PVC pipe. I struggled mentally with how this might work and when first working with the plaster cloth, I found it not as easy to work with as I had hoped. However, once I figured out the best way to get it done, I made the best out of the situation that I could, and it worked out well, I think. What was the problem? Basically, the wet plaster cloth losed rigidity fast, as expected, but likes to stick to itself sometimes better than what you're applying it to. Also, it is difficult to work with in tight spots, in this case, between roots. And finally, gravity works against you if you try and work under the structure. To solve the last problem, I simply worked on the front/top first, and then flipped it over to work on the back/bottom of the structure. After that, I flipped it back over, and put the finishing touches on.

In this pic, my first attempt at application, you can see what I'm working with, as I place the wet plaster cloth onto the structure. Basically, you drag a strip of the cloth across a pan of water, and then apply it to your structure. Then, use your fingers to spread the plaster around a little bit. This becomes the base for the next strip, as you have to overlay the next strip in some way over part of the first one. As I said earlier, it sticks best to itself.


After I was done with it, I took a few photos off the work bench. This first one is a front view:


Front, sort of off to the right:


Right side view:


After that, I fitted it into the tank. The first pic is what it looks like today, the second pic is what it looked like prior to the application of the plaster cloth:



I'm fairly happy with it, but, a few things bug me. The hole in the "knot" that I tried to create became much smaller than I had hoped. I may have to drill or cut it out, the reapply some plaster again, or maybe skip the plaster and just coat it with grout. The small root coming down out of the middle looks like ET's hand, asking the viewer if he could "phone home". I think that I can live with that. There are a couple other flaws that I don't like, but will have to live with, that maybe nobody but me would worry about.

The next steps: apply grout and final form, to supply the structure with some weight and durability, and to hide any of the pipe look and get rid of straight lines. After I'm happy with that, then I'll paint it with Drylok mixed with cement dye to give me the colors and realism that I want, as close as I possibly can. This should also seal in the grout and plaster and prevent water from seeping in, preventing pH spikes from happening and also from plaster getting into the tank. I will apply several layers of Drylok.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump

Last edited by Chasmodes; 03/25/2019 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 03/25/2019, 08:29 AM   #579
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WOW. That looks amazing! Great work. Your vision is coming is coming into focus beautifully. Finishing touches and you're done! A great root, worthy of a great wall.


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 03/26/2019, 06:10 AM   #580
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Thank you Michael. It's finally coming together. I'm looking forward to the next step.


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Old 03/26/2019, 06:50 AM   #581
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That looks really nice! The fabric has added a nice texture which makes it look much more realistic. Great job!


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Old 03/26/2019, 07:14 AM   #582
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Thank you McPuff!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 04/01/2019, 07:48 AM   #583
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Last week, I noticed another skilletfish acting weird, not coming to the front to eat, breathing heavy, not interested in food if I put some near it, etc. My fear was that it was going to die like the other one did, mysteriously. So, I decided to treat it with Prazipro, thinking that perhaps I never got rid of the flukes. My reasoning was that a couple gobies have been scratching for a while now, not going crazy or acting sick, but, that is a sign that it could be flukes. Anyway, that was Wednesday night.

On Friday night, I got home, took out some leftovers for dinner, put them in the microwave so that my wife and I could eat dinner and watch a TV show. While the food was in the microwave, I went downstairs to check on my fish.
The sickly skilletfish was still in the same shell, doing the same thing. The previous night, at feeding time, only two fish came out to eat, the others hid in their shells, although a few of them did eat when food drifted by. But, normally, they all come out to eat out of my hand. I shined my flashlight around the tank, as not many fish were poking their heads out, and that worried me. Inside one of the shells, I noticed one of the male blennies upside down, breathing heavy. There was another male blenny that wouldn't come out of his shell and eat that I noticed the night before too, and he had me worried.

I went into panic mode. I had plenty of circulation and aeration in the tank, but, maybe the fish couldn't take the meds. So, in my mind, 90% water change, so I drained the tank. Only a small amount of water was in the tank, with the fish.

While I was at it, I figured that I'd pull out the oyster cultches and fix some of the things that fell apart over time. For example, there was an overhang that I thought was really cool that broke apart and fell, and I really wanted to fix it. There was another couple of oysters that fell off that weren't originally glued well also. These things really bugged me, even though things looked OK in the video, I hated knowing that it wasn't as I had planned.

Of course, pulling out the reef meant that fish could be in the reef, out of the water, and I had to shake a few fish out. The blenny that hid in his shell wouldn't come out that I was worried about was one of the fish that I had to shake out. I finally did, and then I saw why he was behaving that way...not disease...he was guarding eggs! Well, that was good news.

Anyway, I thought the upside down blenny was dying for sure, but, after removing the reef, I counted all of the blennies swimming around just fine. He was probably just in the shell, as they always do, acting goofy in his shell. I panicked for no reason.

Of course, when pulling the reef out, I was worried about leaving a fish stuck in it, but as it turned out, all of the fish were accounted for. I didn't find any crabs, so I don't know what happened to all of the crabs in the tank. They could still be in the tank buried in the sand. I hope that they weren't in the reef, because it's been out of the water under repair since Friday night.

I filled the tank with newly mixed brackish water, increasing the salinity just a tiny bit. I left about a dozen loose oyster shells in the tank for hiding spots, and tossed in a half dozen PVC pipe sections for additional hiding spots, with the hopes of calming the fish down and easing potential aggression.


Anyway, I repaired the large overhang and it looks really good:


I beefed up the two other overhangs and any other loose oyster shells:



I also removed a dozen complete oyster shells that I collected that were laying by themselves on the sand, that were loose or had come completely apart, with the purpose of gluing them together. I also wanted to glue them to the cultches to provide more hiding spots on the main structure. The clothes pins are about a half inch thick, and are perfect spacers for gluing open oyster shell hiding spots. I used thick rubber bands to since them tight so the glue would hold nicely.




After they dried, last night, I glued them onto each of the structures pictured above, adding a dozen new open oyster shell hiding spots solidly to the structure, Previously, these shells were either lying on the bottom of the tank, or loosely stuck in crevices in the reef.

The problem is that, even though the dead oyster shells are great cover, and the fish use them, they eventually come apart and become litter on the bottom of the tank. I wanted something more permanent. And, since they also like the permanently glues ones on the reef, I figured more is better.

Tonight, I will remove the remaining oyster and clam shells from the tank and repair them. Then, I'll place the oyster reef back into the tank, and tomorrow night, place the repaired oyster and clam shells strategically in the tank (where I can easily observe them). I need 24 hours for the glue to cure.

By the way, I used Gorilla Glue again. Most of the reef is still really solid, so I'm happy with how it held together over time. I just used more of it on the overhang, and it's really solid now. I just didn't use enough glue the first time. Also, last night, after gluing the new hiding spots permanently on the structure, it looks really good. I couldn't be happier.

I still am not sure what to do about the "sick" skilletfish. I may QT it and try and treat it. Maybe the water changes will help it recover, I don't know. I'll do another one tonight, maybe 50%. The rest of the fish are doing OK, although disoriented because their favorite hiding spots were removed. I think that once I return the reef to them, they'll get back to doing what they do.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 04/01/2019, 08:05 AM   #584
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That looks great Kevin! Your fish are going to love it.


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 04/01/2019, 09:15 AM   #585
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Thank you Michael. It even looks better with the new hiding spots glued on. I didn't have a pic of that, but you'll see it and in the tank on tomorrow's post. I really like the overhangs. Otherwise, the oyster cultches remind me of lettuce heads!


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Old 04/02/2019, 07:23 AM   #586
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Last night, I removed the remaining complete oyster and clam shells, and the PVC pipe. I'll glue the compete shells and place them strategically into the tank tonight to provide additional hiding spots. Once I build the larger reef, I'll wind up gluing these to the other sections of the reef that are currently not in a tank. I placed the improved structure with the repaired overhangs in the tank, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I moved the remaining shells in the tank that were halves or pieces to the front of the tank until I decide what to do with them. I will keep the ones in there that have good "life" on them. I may or may not keep the others. What I've learned is that eventually, some of the shells, even complete oyster shells, will be buried in the sand. Current and critters cause this. I have no idea what happened to the mud crabs in the tank. They may still be in there, but I haven't seen them. They could have been in the reef when I removed it for repair, but, I never saw any sign of them climbing out. I might find one on the floor in the rec room some day, LOL.

Anyway, below is a pic of the remaining shells that I glued lat night. I use a clothes pin to create a 1/2" gap. There was a journal written about the gap preferences of striped blennies (and other benthic fish) for breeding purposes, and their findings showed that 1/2" was the optimal gap. I glued the inside base of the shell with Gorilla Glue, placed the pin in the front of the shell, and used rubber bands to bind them until the glue dried. The clams need less glue, because the joint is stronger than oysters. I used the clothes pin for them too. The clingfish prefer the clams, it seems, but that may be because the blennies prefer and use up the oyster shells. In truth, when hiding, they all use anything available. Here are my gluing efforts, and results:




The tank was too cloudy last night because of the work that I did removing everything, so I couldn't take a pic. I cleaned out the filter and put in a new pad. Hopefully, the filter will keep working. Last night I found it had stopped. I cleaned it out again and the impeller was stuck, so I freed it. Although it's noisy, it was working after the repair and cleaning.

I took a pic this morning after the filter did some work. I don't have an FTS before the repairs (with the overhangs collapsed), but here's a video where you can see it in the first 30 sections. After that, the pic shows it all repaired:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttcj3N53R10




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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 04/02/2019, 07:34 AM   #587
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Looks great! Nice work. I hope they appreciate those half inch gaps! A labor of love…


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 04/02/2019, 07:53 AM   #588
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Looks really good. A lot of work I'm sure!


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Old 04/02/2019, 08:40 AM   #589
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Thanks guys. I suspect my ammonia and nitrites will go up after having the "rock" out of the water for 3 days. It was still damp though. Think the bacteria may have survived? The sand bed didn't change though. I guess I'd better test tonight


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Old 04/03/2019, 06:21 AM   #590
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I "planted" the remaining complete oyster and clam shells throughout the tank, some placed on the reef structure, some in the substrate. I grouped most of the razor clams together to simulate a colony of those, and moved the half oyster shells around the bases of the reef structure. I think that it turned out pretty well, very similar to the early days of the reef. I may move the two major cultches on the right side a little tighter together, and more to the left, to create additional open space under the overhangs. Overall, I'm happy.

The fish seem happier, much more bold today than the past few days, coming out for food and even eating out of my hand. The one skilletfish that I'm worried about is still not eating...I'm not sure at this point that there is anything I can do for it. It doesn't look all that bad, so maybe it will turn around, we will see. If it starts eating again, then I'll feel much better.

Here's the latest FTS:



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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 04/03/2019, 07:23 AM   #591
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Looks good!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 04/04/2019, 06:57 AM   #592
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Thank you Michael!

I shot a couple videos and uploaded one to YT last night. The fish are still skittish from my hands being in the tank so much. To them, it must have seemed like Godzilla crashing through town when I broke the scape down and set up up again. The fish are cruising the structures and checking out all of the new hidey holes, re-establishing territory, etc. My guess is that egg laying will start again pretty soon. The males are all nicely colored now, which is either a good sign that they're going to spawn soon or that their happy in their new oysterscape. It could be a little of both. Anyway, hope you like the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAvju369s70&t=1s


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 04/04/2019, 07:23 AM   #593
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Oysterscape! Ha ha. The fish look happy. The vid stopped for me about 2/3s through, for some reason.


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 04/04/2019, 08:16 AM   #594
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I don't know why I didn't think of "oysterscape" sooner, LOL, but, why not? I ran the vid on two different browsers, and it seems OK now. Perhaps there was a buffering issue. I added music to the video, and it didn't seem to work right away, so I fixed it. Perhaps, during the fix, YT caused something. Was there music in the video when you watched it?

A few things concern me about the tank now. First, my HOB filter stopped this weekend. I cleaned it out, and it seemed OK, until last night. So last night, I gave it a thorough cleaning, took out the impeller, cleaned the impeller housing with vinegar, etc.. I got it up and running again. But, it doesn't seem to have the flow that it used to have, so I'm not sure that the problem is solved (despite it being really clean). I may have to buy a new HOB filter. It's the way to go for this size tank.

Second, the one skilletfish still isn't eating. But, when the large male (that was on the left in the clam shell in the video) approached it, they began spawning behavior, so that was encouraging. But, it could have just been instinctive behavior, and not a factor of health. We will see.

Third, I don't know what happened to my mud crabs in the tank. I don't know if they just died due to life span issues, or they are in the tank but can't see them, or if the fish killed them, or if I somehow killed them. The issue isn't so much how, but, that I have no way of knowing. The mud crabs in my other tank are fine. But, they hide a lot, even without fish in there. I guess I just need to collect more crabs. I have seen video of a Chasmodes blenny eating a small blue crab, so, it is possible that the fish ate them.

I don't know if you all noticed, but you can really see it in this video, that Chasmodes blennies (as well as a few other genera of Atlantic blennies, Hypsoblennius, etc.), seem to have a colored film in their eye, almost like internal sunglasses. I asked my scientist friend about this a while back, and the purpose is unknown. Perhaps it helps them deal with bright shallow waters during the summer? Anyway, I thought that I'd point that out. In my tank, it almost makes it look like the blennies have yellow eyes.


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Old 04/04/2019, 09:38 AM   #595
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it is fantastic arkwork.


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Old 04/04/2019, 11:27 AM   #596
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Thank you houstonreefer!


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Old 04/08/2019, 09:56 AM   #597
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Bad news:
My largest male blenny committed suicide, and jumped out of the tank last Thursday night. I found him all dried up on the floor. I had one small spot that they could get out next to my HOB filter, and that's where he was, on the floor, under that spot. I found a temporary solution to fix that issue. I don't know if it jumped because of me rearranging the tank and huge water change, or if it was spawning stress from rival males. The tank is almost like it was before, with even more hiding spots. I thought that they might resume finding the same shells that they had before, but, they seem to have found new spots to defend.

Good news:
I think that I mentioned that during the winter, with water temps dropping into the 50's, that my fish pretty much stopped laying eggs. The amount of daylight might have something to do with this cycle too, as there is exposure to daylight via a nearby window. I didn't see any other spawning activity during that time. I was a bit worried about that.

However, things are beginning to happen again with the blennies. Now that spring in my area has arrived, and tank temps are now around 62F, they've started some spawning activity, but the male blennies are all fired up. Also, when I broke down the tank, I found a shell with eggs in it, so, it's not because of the giant water change. Things were already happening and I just didn't observe it.

In this video, you'll see a male striped blenny (Chasmodes bosquianus) flash and chase a female, trying to lure her to his shell. He is interrupted by a rival male, and a confrontation ensues, with the first male winding up chasing the other one off. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB4U6sfkFuI&t=1s


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Old 04/08/2019, 10:16 PM   #598
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Ah love! The sweetest chase. And so many bedrooms to choose from…

So you don't heat your tank. I guess that makes sense, if you live where your fish live. I hadn't thought of that!


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As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 04/09/2019, 10:55 AM   #599
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Thank you Michael. Yeah, it kind of makes things easy, especially since my max temps are about 72 degrees in the summer. The fish are very happy at that temp!


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Old 04/15/2019, 08:48 AM   #600
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Last week, I showed males starting to get aggressive due to spawning activity, re-establishing their territories, more actively defending oyster shells, sparring with each other, and flashing the female while trying to herd her towards their shells.

This weekend, for the first time since I broke down the tank, I found a male guarding eggs. I wouldn't be surprised if the others are also guarding eggs. I can't tell because they both hang out behind the oyster structures out of sight until I feed them.

I was worried about this particular male before I broke the tank down, because he was the smallest male. He was picked on and chased by the other males, and was the only one that hadn't bred with the female, to my knowledge. Now, he chases away the larger males and defends his shell as brave as any blenny possibly could! And, his shell is right in front of the tank for me to film. Soon, there will be fry swimming around again. Here's a video showing the eggs and other activity around the tank, and also, later in the vid, you can see the female skilletfish stuck to the glass, and can easily see that she's ready to lay eggs too. Hope you enjoy the video, thanks for watching.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXiHgD1e0Cs&t=14s

I guess my theory was correct, that when temps in my basement went down, breeding activity came to a halt. When they crept back up, it resumed. I suspected that would happen before the winter began. There were eggs in a shell when I broke the tank down, and they've resumed again a few weeks later.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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