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Old 08/30/2001, 03:39 PM   #26
rshimek
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Originally posted by Erin
Hi Erin,

I don't think that's a very good analogy, Dr. Ron. After all, I live comfortably, and certainly grow, with just candy bars!!

Depends on the candy bars...

Probably a better analogy would be cotton candy.




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Old 08/30/2001, 09:36 PM   #27
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LOL!

Well, I have experienced a "paradigm shift" as Stephen Covey would call it!

Thanks for the info Dr. Shimek. I appreciate your taking time to help others understand. Everyone programs us that we're overfeeding and polluting our systems, and that you should err on the side of underfeeding for better water quality.

I think I'll go feed my fish!


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Old 08/30/2001, 10:14 PM   #28
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Thanks for the lengthy reply, Dr. Shimek. This is very interesting stuff!

All animals need to feed in some manner. Without appropriate food, EVERYTHING - EVERYTHING else is immaterial

Absolutely! I think that would be obvious to everyone. I never questioned that food was important. It was the lack of lighting I had the questions about.

I intend to keep feeding my s. Haddoni (under intense lighting)

Thanks again,


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Old 09/01/2001, 10:22 AM   #29
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Dr. Ron:

You've argued that we should try to recreate the optimum environmental conditions in which animals are found. You've also identified optimum conditions as those areas where the highest diversity or densities of animals are found. Furthermore you've noted that animals will spread to their environmental limits, but the animals living in these areas will not thrive.


Isn't it contradictory then to now condone and even endorse the idea of keeping anemones in marginal sub-optimum low light conditions? Daphne Fautin writes, "These anemones exist only in shallow water....these anemones live at depths of no more than 50 meters, generally in clear water." Her observations are consistent with mine. The majority of host anemones I've seen live in fairly shallow water and receive significantly more light than found in a typical reef tank. Below 40 feet densities dramatically decline and at about 100 feet, one can only find the occasional animal. The deepest anemones I've seen are spread flat as a pancake in an apparent attempt to gather as much light as possible.

If anemones don't need light, why aren't there host anemones in deep water? Why aren't there host anemones at 200 and 300 feet where there's plenty of food, but little light? Seems like the dark zone would be perfect for an animal that has the ability to capture and kill things as large as itself. Why are anemones shallow water animals if photosynthesis is providing no more than cotton candy?


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Old 09/01/2001, 01:35 PM   #30
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Originally posted by GSB
Hi,

Isn't it contradictory then to now condone and even endorse the idea of keeping anemones in marginal sub-optimum low light conditions?

I think that lighting is important to these animals in the real world for one reason. It allows them to get nutrition. If their nutrition needs are adequately met by feeding them, then I don't see any thing wrong with keeping them in an environment that has lower light intensity.

If anemones don't need light, why aren't there host anemones in deep water? Why aren't there host anemones at 200 and 300 feet where there's plenty of food, but little light?

In natural systems their nutrition needs are met by a combination of food, probably mostly fish, and light for the zoox. Both of these are less abundant in deeper water, smaller fish (anemone food )are more abundant in shallow water as that is where their foods are too. The lower limit to host anemone abundance is likely set by a number of factors, and food intake is likely only one. However, if there were sufficient food they would be likely be found deeper.

Additionally, there have not been sufficient quantitative surveys in what might be marginal habitats for us (Daphne's work included) to say what the limits of the anemone distributions are, or why those areas are marginal. When folks go to study anemones they go to those areas where they are most abundant - not the areas where their survival is marginal.

Seems like the dark zone would be perfect for an animal that has the ability to capture and kill things as large as itself. Why are anemones shallow water animals if photosynthesis is providing no more than cotton candy?

First, what else can photosynthesis provide?

Second, the dark zone is perfect for many anemones, the fact that these particular animals may not be found there could be many. I suggest that it is likely that that juvenile anemones probably can't find the foods they need at those depths, and that the adults are also food-limited in most of their situations. Hence, they stay in shallow water because in those areas the zoox provide them with supplemental nutrition. This supplement is basically sugar....to tide them over between real meals.

If they don't have the fish to eat, they certainly need bright lights. But if they have the food, light intensity is secondary.


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Old 09/01/2001, 05:15 PM   #31
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Hi Ron, this thread has brought about some interesting discussion on another board. Some of the points made have already been raised here but I'd really like to hear your thoughts on Marting Moe's experiences. I hope I'm not breaking any rules here but I thought I'd paste his comments for you to look at and possibly respond.



Quote:
Random thoughts. I used to keep many anemones, a dozen or more, mostly carpets, when we had the clownfish farm in the 70's and 80'. We used them to stimultate the clownfish, mostly wild caught then, to begin spawning. Once the pair spawned a few times they would continue to spawn without the anemone. The tanks were kept under low flourscent lighting and regular water changes, about 50% every week or two. Under these conditions the anemones would begin to bleach out in a few months. So we would move then to an outside tank under sunlight when we saw the first signs of color loss, and then move one inside that had been the outside tank for several weeks. The partially bleaced anemones would regain their color in a week or two in the outside tank. We seldom lost one. They were also fed frequently. a bit of shrimp (on pin attached to a stick and placed in the tentacles), and they also picked up some food particles from the clownfish feedings.
So I think good lighting is essential. Also, back then most anemones were kept under "fish tank conditions" and little attention was paid to calcium levels, pH and alkalinity. Usually, in most hobbyist's tanks at that time, calcium was never considered and as long as pH was above 7.8, it also was not a consideration. In my opinion, anemones need a normal calcium level and without it their metabolism is "out of kilter" (not very scientific, but descriptive). Under the right conditions, lighting, chemistry, and nutrition, most anemones can be kept in captivity, pehaps not for a full anemone lifetime (we don't live that long) but at least not for only a few months.MAM



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Old 09/01/2001, 06:41 PM   #32
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Troy,

There is nothing in Martin's statements that are really at odds with mine.

If these animals are kept in low light, they may bleach. This is a problem if they are not fed well. I suspect Martin was neither feeding them enough nor the proper foods.

They need a lot of food. As far as calcium, if they are fed a lot of fish, they get a lot of calcium from the fish - bones and such are seldom excreted. I have kept my female haddoni for over 10 years now, and she is in a tank that I never add calcium to. She by all measures a healthy animal, so I presume she is getting what she needs from her diet.

Incidently, should the point be raised, while I firmly believe lighting is not the end all for these animals, I don't keep mine in the dark, or even poorly lit conditions. They are all kept under normal reef tank light - whatever that is - . However, they certainly could be kept healthy under low light.


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Old 09/01/2001, 08:44 PM   #33
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Ron, do you think that the feeding, or lack of, is what has made these animals so hard to keep alive?

I'm concerned that people may misinterpret what you are saying and conclude that they are easy to keep. (I know that is not what you are saying). Considering the impact their removal from the oceans has they hardly need to be collected any more than they already are.


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Old 09/02/2001, 01:52 AM   #34
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If they are feeding, you can keep all host anemones in absolute darkness until they are bleached whiter than sheets, and they will live just fine.

Slightly off topic, but I have always wanted to have an anemone and some clown anemonefish. That in itself is one of the main reasons I got into saltwater/reef vs the freshwater tanks I had.

I have been reading everything I can get hold of concerning keeping anemones and there seems to be a concensus among authors that keeping anemones are very difficult and should only be attempted by seasoned aquarists.

Do you think that this train of thought is based on the problems people are having with anemones based on their misunderstandings as well pointed out in this thread? Or are anemones that difficult to keep in a 'standard' reef aquarium.

Any guidance on this matter would be of great help to me (and others it seems).

Thanks Dr. Ron. Keep up the excellent work.

Gene


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Old 09/02/2001, 02:13 AM   #35
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Gene, I highly recommend that you pick up Shimek's book on the subject: Host Sea Anemone Secrets by Dr. Ron Shimek: ISBN: 0-9664549-5-2

Also, searching back within this board will surface a large amount of information on this topic.

Cheers,
Matthew


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Old 09/02/2001, 12:30 PM   #36
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Hi Matthew, THANKS!!!

Quote:
Originally posted by Green Lantern
Hi Troy,

Ron, do you think that the feeding, or lack of, is what has made these animals so hard to keep alive?

Absolutlely. The animals have to have appropriate nutrition. It has to come from a combination of zoox and feeding. It is relatively easy to give the animals the bright light the zoox need, but then you still have to feed them some nitrogen source. IF the lighting is not as bright it is still possible to keep them thriving, but they need to be fed quite a bit.

I'm concerned that people may misinterpret what you are saying and conclude that they are easy to keep. (I know that is not what you are saying). Considering the impact their removal from the oceans has they hardly need to be collected any more than they already are.

Indeed, but additionally we need to make certain the ones that we do have live well, and asexually reproduce if possible. We also need to get breeding programs going.




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Old 09/02/2001, 07:54 PM   #37
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For what it's worth...

Growing up, I always learned and thought of sea anemones as being master predators with a powerful ability to paralyze unlucky passing animals. I even remember being afraid to be near one, thinking that it would stretch out, sting me, and digest me. Of course, this is all in the mind of a overdramatic 12-year old.

Since then, I've been on a roller coaster of information; however, I try to back everything I read or hear by some sort of biological fact of life that I have stored away in my brain somewhere.

Anyway, everything that Dr. Ron is saying makes complete sense. Remember that your anemone is an animal and not a plant -- light won't cut it alone!


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Old 09/03/2001, 06:13 PM   #38
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Question Host Anemone Feeding

Your opinion is noted and wrong. These animals need a lot of food. A full grown ritteri to be growing and healty probably eats about the equivalent mass of a Big Mac every week or two.



I was curious Dr. Shimek, on what you are basing this recommendation? I note your use of qualifiers such as "probably" and "about" ... does this mean the Big Mac analogy is a guess or is it based on anything published in the scientific literature that I could read for myself?

Thanks!
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Old 09/04/2001, 10:52 AM   #39
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Hi BL,

My value was a guesstimate based on 1) other inverts of about the same mass, and 2) scaled-up information from small zooxanthellate anemones.

There is zippo work done on either the physiology or the population biology of any host anemone, which is why, of course, we are debating these things. Lots of folks have looked at the clownfish part of the association, and Fautin has looked at the anemones taxonomically, but real information on the living animals is not there. A couple of good pH. D. topics, in my estimation.

Anyway, to scale up...

There has been a lot of work done on several species of zooxanthellate anemones - Anthopleura elegantissima, Anthopleura xanthogrammica, and (ya gotta love this one) Aiptasia pallida.

You can go to the literature - probably the best data base would Zoological Record online or on CD-ROM at a large library and do searches on these species. Most of this work has been done in the last decade, so it should show up. You should be able to find the metabolic rate estimates, and mean sizes. From Fautin's work, and maybe the work of some other folks, you can get mean sizes of host anemones, and you can apply across the board estimates - with appropriate fudge factors.

Some of the data are interesting. About 25 years ago, in his doctoral dissertation, Ken Sebens found that the temperate intertidal zooxanthellate Anthopleura elegantissima normally ate well only during one period of the year, during the settlement of barnacles into the intertidal zone. But during that short period it REALLY pigged out. After this it tended to divide, and bide its time until the next year or occasional small feedings on plankton. The algal symbionts basically helped it pass through the winter where there were not incidental plankton.

From these types of studies, one can get values for the relative contributions of food versus zoox, and of values for the total energy budget. Then you have to scale up, and adjust for the higher temperatures of the tropical anemones- which may be metabolizing at rates from 150 to 300 percent of the temperate ones simply due to the Q10 increase in metabolic rates in warmer areas.

From all of this I think you can get an estimate that a large anemone, say one with a mass of about 2.3 kg (=5 lbs) would require something one the order of 100 to 200 g (3-6 oz) of food per week.

Such a value is also consistent with the requirements of some other larger inverts such sea stars, and it is signficantly lower than other large but much more active inverts such as big snails or lobsters, so I think it is a good ball park estimate.

So... that was the basis of my guess.


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Old 09/05/2001, 07:20 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally posted by rshimek

From all of this I think you can get an estimate that a large anemone, say one with a mass of about 2.3 kg (=5 lbs) would require something one the order of 100 to 200 g (3-6 oz) of food per week.
Dr. Ron:

I understand that this is a "back of the envelope" estimate, but I'd like to understand how you reached this estimate. You say a mass of 2.3 kg, but we're not talking about the animal itself are we? It must be the weight of an anemone as one carries it home in a plastic bag. If that's correct, most of the weight is saltwater, isn't it?

It that's the case, this is a rather large anemone. Assuming most of the weight is saltwater, it must be something like 16-18 inches across. Is that what you based your assumptions on?

If most of the weight is saltwater, the weight of the tissue is going to be a small fraction of this. What would you say? Maybe 5%? Using some of the few scientific articles on anemone nutrition I've been able to find, your proposed 100-200g seems very high. It seems like it ought to be something like 10% of this or less.

Any more you can share about your assumptions would be appreciated.


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Old 09/06/2001, 11:51 AM   #41
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Originally posted by GSB
Hi,


I understand that this is a "back of the envelope" estimate,

Very

but I'd like to understand how you reached this estimate. You say a mass of 2.3 kg, but we're not talking about the animal itself are we? It must be the weight of an anemone as one carries it home in a plastic bag. If that's correct, most of the weight is saltwater, isn't it?

I am trying to estimate live tissue weight here. This would be the mass of animal contracted as much as possible. Anemones are pretty massive animals for cnidarians and have a lot of fibrous protein and live tissue in their mass.

Yes, even so it is mostly water - but when fully contracted, it would have about the same water component as a given mass of fish or other aquatic animal.

It that's the case, this is a rather large anemone. Assuming most of the weight is saltwater, it must be something like 16-18 inches across. Is that what you based your assumptions on?

More like the big ones one sees on the reefs, say a ritteri with a column 18 inches across and an oral disk about 2-3 feet across.

If most of the weight is saltwater, the weight of the tissue is going to be a small fraction of this. What would you say? Maybe 5%? Using some of the few scientific articles on anemone nutrition I've been able to find, your proposed 100-200g seems very high. It seems like it ought to be something like 10% of this or less.

Check out the work by Mimi Koehl on the biomechanics of anemones, published in about 1977 or 78, I think ( I don't have the reference in my data base, sorry). Anyway she looked at smaller anemones than these giants, but from her work you should be able to "scale" up to them. I think my estimates of live tissue weight are fairly reasonable.

I examined the diets of smaller azooxantellate anemones, Urticina crassicornis for this publication: Shimek, R. L. 1981. Neptunea pribiloffensis (Dall, 1919) and Tealia crassicornis (Müller, 1776), On a snail's use of babysitters. The Veliger. 24: 62 - 66., and although I did not quantify the weights of the foods, a large number of these animals (which are about the size of the average bulb tipped anemone seen in the hobby) were eating prey that were on the order of 100 gr or more (sea urchins, etc.).

Other folks, working with Anthopleura xanthogrammica, which has both zooxanthellae and zoochlorellae, and which can reach sizes to rival an average ritteri, have found that they eat mussel clumps (knocked out of the intertidal by wave surge) that can weigh up to several hundred grams.

In some other unpublished research on a subtidal temperate azooxanthellate anemone, Cribrinopsis fernaldi. I found it was eating whole swimming scallops (caught on the fly as they swam by). These are smaller anemones, maybe only 10" across, but the food item could have about 20-50 g wet tissue weight.

Anyway, the gist of this babble is that a lot of anemones seem to eat a lot of food. In many temperate areas they appear to be very important predators eating apparently a lot of food per unit time, I see no reason to assume that they are not doing the same in the tropics.




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Old 09/06/2001, 01:31 PM   #42
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Hi Good Doctor, it's Mary!

Just for future references, where can this "Gamma foods lancefish" can be bought?

I know I will eventually (once I believe I have learned enough) try to keep anemones, so as usual, liked to be prepared.

Thank you, Doc!


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Old 09/06/2001, 04:15 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by filishy
Hi Mary,

Just for future references, where can this "Gamma foods lancefish" can be bought?

I purchase mine frozen and mail ordered in from:

Saltwater City
13626 NE 20th Street
Bellevue, Washington 98005

425-644-7050
fax 425-644-7075

Ask for Trev or Pat.




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Old 09/06/2001, 04:56 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally posted by rshimek


In many temperate areas they appear to be very important predators eating apparently a lot of food per unit time, I see no reason to assume that they are not doing the same in the tropics.

Thanks. That is the question, whether host anemones are such aggressive predators in the tropics.

Thanks for the references!


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Old 09/06/2001, 06:31 PM   #45
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Dr. Ron,

First off I would like to thank you for taking the time to host a forum like this that is so readily accessible...I think your contributions to the hobby and the science are great.

As a successful keeper of anemones myself (success rates over 1 year) I wanted to get your opinion on the following idea surrounding anmeone feeding-

It has been my experience that anemones use their tentacles and zooxanthellate not only for photosynthesis but also as a physical way to assist feeding themselves direct meals.

If the zooxanthellate die off due to lack of light, won't the anemone lose some or all of its ability to use the stinging/cling receptors to kill or hold direct meals as it feeds itself. (my anology, not trying to be gruesome here... is a person without hands or teeth....certainly they can survive on food fed to them, however without the use of hands or teeth to aid the feeding process, this becomes much more difficult)

I would also want to confirm that you are not suggesting feeding alone is the only factor that leads to successful anemone keeping (although it goes a long way!) Just because you sufficiently feed an anemone directly, this factor alone does not guarantee success, you must also make sure you have good water quality/parameters.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09/06/2001, 06:55 PM   #46
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Hi Greg,

If the zooxanthellate die off due to lack of light, won't the anemone lose some or all of its ability to use the stinging/cling receptors to kill or hold direct meals as it feeds itself. (my anology, not trying to be gruesome here... is a person without hands or teeth....certainly they can survive on food fed to them, however without the use of hands or teeth to aid the feeding process, this becomes much more difficult)

The loss of zoox should not effect this in the slightest, as long as the animal is getting appropriate nutrition from other sources. The stinging capsules - nematocysts - are secreted by the anemone's cells and there is no evidence to indicate anything in them is directly related to the zoox byproducts.

Similarly, the anemone's adhesion to the substrate is simply done with a thick mucus. This also appears to be no different here than in anemones without zoox.

I would also want to confirm that you are not suggesting feeding alone is the only factor that leads to successful anemone keeping (although it goes a long way!) Just because you sufficiently feed an anemone directly, this factor alone does not guarantee success, you must also make sure you have good water quality/parameters.

One needs a number of things to keep these animals in good shape.

First is appropriate nutrition, probably second is an appropriate physical substrate, and of course one needs good water.




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Old 09/07/2001, 06:39 AM   #47
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Muchas gracias, Doctor!

Mary.


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Old 09/07/2001, 12:09 PM   #48
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To ask a detailed question, how often and how much lancefish would you recommend feeding a small (2-3" anemone), and how would this vary for slightly larger ones.

I take it other fish will be unable to approach the anemone to 'steal' the lancefish!


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Old 09/07/2001, 12:22 PM   #49
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Hi Jon,

To ask a detailed question, how often and how much lancefish would you recommend feeding a small (2-3" anemone), and how would this vary for slightly larger ones.

This is somewhat hard to guage, it depends a lot on the species, and probably on the individual. I generally feed every other day. I would start by cutting the fish in half (easy to do when frozen) or dicing them. I would initially feed one or two. If the animal takes them readily, perhaps up the amount. If you are feeding more than "maintenance amounts" the animal will start to grow noticeably. If you don't want this, feed less. If you wish it to grow faster, feed more.

I take it other fish will be unable to approach the anemone to 'steal' the lancefish!

No. Not quite. Clown fish will eat the lancefish on occasion and will take them out of the anemone, sometimes. And put them back in. If the anemone is "hungry" it will often fold up over the food so fast and vigorously that the clowns can't do anything.

I haven't had other fish try to get near the anemone to get the food but I suppose this is possible. It is also possible that these fish would then be stung and eaten.


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Old 09/07/2001, 12:27 PM   #50
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Dr. Ron,

Through most of this thread I understood that you were making a statement that Host anemonies needs can be met sucessfully with feeding even in the absense of it's symbiotic algae. However I have noted that you keep your under intense lighting.

I am hoping that you are not reccomending that people keep these animals in dim lighting conditions. These animals have proven hard to keep, possibly due to the fact that they need a lot of food. It seems then that it would be a bad Idea to remove a non polluting food source for an animal that even with intense lighting requires supplemental feedings. Also by having intense light the nutrient processing capibilities of the tank are enhanced (Algae growth) so better water quality can be maintained.

I guess what I am trying to ask you is- Would you reccommend keeping these animals under dim or no lighting?


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