The Ongoing Saga of the Saltwater Tank

Back in December (2007) when we got our tank I didn’t blog about it ’cause the tank was more for my husband.  Besides, it was just before Christmas and I was overwhelmed with school, etc.

Then I fell in love with the tank, and discovered it was for me, too.  My favorite date is to the fish store, and I’d rather study or write with the sound of the circulating water in my ear than anywhere else.  Saltwater fish are actually interesting, and unique, unlike most freshwater fish I’ve seen.  But it seemed a bit late to start blogging about it.

A few months passed, and our first (and only) fish disappeared.  A mysterious clicking sound resounded from our rocks.  Our hermit crabs started showing punctures in their shells, and little puffs of sand would appear out of the rocks, accompanied by more clicking.

We had a Mantis Shrimp.


Only instead of being bright and colorful and wanted, our Mantis Shrimp was drab and grey and unwanted.  It was a murderous fish-eating hitchhiker that would prove truly obdurate to get out of our tank.

We tried the traps, both homemade from a two-liter bottle, and store bought.  We baited them with various delicacies, including fresh whole frozen shrimp, but all we caught were our own snails and a few hermit crabs.  We tried videotaping the tank at night using the infrared setting, to see if we could pinpoint where it was, but our mantis shrimp had scotophobia.  We moved rocks around and generally disrupted the whole tank looking for the silly thing, to no avail.

Weeks passed, and by know I knew I should be blogging the whole experience, but still wasn’t.  Maybe it just seemed a little silly.  We had a tank, but no fish, because any fish we put in would just be a shrimp-snack.

Finally, we set up a container beside the tank and bought two big bottles of club soda.  We’d read that you could pour soda into the rocks where the bugger was hiding and shock it out.  Of course, it can also kill the stuff living on the live rock, but we were desperate.  We pulled out any likely rocks, once again making a total mess of the tank, but got nothing.  We were ready to give up, or maybe buy a shark and see which of them came out alive.

The next day, my dh was sitting in front of the tank, staring morosely.  And out of the rock just in front of him poked a little mantis shrimp head.  He called me in, and I went into berserker mode.  In maybe two seconds, I had the container set back up, the long glove on, the tank open, and had yanked the rock out of the tank and slapped it down in the container.

We poured on the club soda, and sure enough, out came our dear little mantis shrimp.

Long story short (or somewhat shortened) we soon had our tank up and running again.  We now have two lovely and personable clownfish named Izzy and Jeff, a Lawnmower Blenny named Moe, several mushrooms and corals coming along, and will be adding more over the weeks and months to come.  As soon as we conquer the glare-on-glass problem, pics will follow.

It’s official, and I’m blogging it.  We have a tank.

8 comments to The Ongoing Saga of the Saltwater Tank

  • Ginger

    So how did it get in there anyway? Is this a dumb question? I know nothing about saltwater tanks. And I wish I could have seen you diving in to grab it. So after it was grabbed–what did you do to it??

  • One important element of a reef tank is live rock, which is rock that has living organisms and tiny critters on it. Unfortunately, sometimes it also has a small crab hiding in it or–you guessed it–a mantis shrimp.

    In other words, it was a hitchhiker.

    As for what we did with it, ever heard of sushi? 😉

  • Becca

    Haha! Love the sushi line 🙂

    Now I know what a mantis shrimp is. Very interesting story. I used to have freshwater fish as a teenager. It would be fun to get a saltwater tank. You’ve inspired me!

  • Always happy to be an inspiration. Just be warned–it’s a very addictive hobby. One minute you’re a very reasonable person, the next you’re trying to justify expensive lights ‘as an investment’ in growth from the hypothetical corals you’ll buy!

  • I recently caught my Mantis shrimp; not for sushi but to keep and study. I think it is beautiful!!!! My app. 5 year saltwater hobby has unveiled a new world in which I’ve fallen in love with! My shrimp could have actually been around that long, but unlikely, as Ive bought live rock many times, so who knows. It never killed a fish, that I know of, but has a taste for hermits. It is ring finger in length and a nice bluegreen which Im told is juvenile colors. His new home is in a 12g. nano tank, beside my bed. Alone, with a couple snails and I feed him by hand. Not bare handed but with long tweezers. My storys first chapter.

    • Sounds fun, and a much happier ending then ours! I wonder what kind yours is–could it be a juvy peacock? The peacocks are beautiful, with bright irridescent colors like the one above. Our was a grey-brown, almost black. Good luck with it!

  • Brooke

    I was talking with my roomate about plants, she keeps some of them in tanks, which reminds me of my new want for some type of fish. That led to me going to the local pet store and just looking around when I saw a mantis shrimp, obviously had to ask a worker what in the world it was. I think they are very interesting creatures and very pretty but i don’t think I could ever have a pet that I have to feed another pet to. I’m thinking just a little gold fish. something simple to start off with? What do you think?

    • People sometimes call gold fish boring, but they can actually be quite fun. I think it’s all in the kind you get. I had a friend with what I think was a koi who had gone blind (from age?), and he had a super fascinating personality. Strange, but true!

      Good luck with your search, and thanks for posting!

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