Some photos from Last Sunday at Castle Beach in Falmouth. Above, the periwinkle Littorina littorea, which aggregrates in great numbers on the upper shore. Below, three echinoderm cousins: a Cushion star Asterina gibbosa and a little Sea cucumber Pawsonia saxicola with a Brittle star in the background. It was the first time I saw this beautiful colour variant of the Risso’s or Furrowed crab Risso pilipes. More common is the very similar Montagu’s crab Risso hydrophilus, there are usually 5-10 individuals under a single rock. The small ones especially come in a range of colours that make them excellently camouflaged against the pebbles. Next a juvenile Shanny Lipophrys pholis, a detail of a Corkwing wrasse (I could pick it up, that is how low the tide was) and a shot of the beach, showing the versatility of the mzuiko 60mm lens.
In a recent post I showed some pictures of fish I caught off the quay in Flushing. I have since quite regularly scraped the sides of the quay with my net and netted a bunch more species. No good pictures of the Shanny, Rock Goby and Two-spotted goby yet, but here are some OK pictures of other species (I do not like to keep the fish too long out of the water so it is a bit rushed). Besides many juvenile individuals, occasionally I catch an adult Corkwing wrasse Symphodus melops. I have only once I managed to cath a bright green juvenile Ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta:
My friend Thor is a very good photographer with a very good camera and he made some great pictures of fish in the cuvet this week. Two Corkwings, a Fifteen-spined stickleback Spinachia spinachia, some Thick-lipped (probably) grey mullet Chelon labrosus. The latter are more difficult to catch as they are in open water and the net has a small mesh size. As a bonus the most common catch, a Common prawn Palaemon serratus:
The large mop of Harpoon weed has been added to the tank (tied to a large pebble). I also added Grey topshells Gibbula cineraria, several hermit crabs, two Sting winkles Ocenebra erinacea and five shrimp. Although being potentially dangerous to fish, I could not resist putting in a green snakelocks anemone and it looks stunning under the blueish light . It is quite hard to take good pictures as the blue comes out too strong (using a camera and adjusting the white balance does not really work either, as the photos turn too reddish).The Corkwing wrasse is doing fine but is a bit too obsessed swimming up and down one end of the tank (as in this picture). The Purple top shells Calliostoma zyzyphinum are doing well, as they have laid long strings of eggs several times already. (They are a bit weird though; sometimes they lett go of the glass and just lie still down on the sand for one or two days.) The Tunze pump is switched off, as the Harpoon weed catches too much of the current. I’ve had to remove some seaweeds as there is a brown algae that is slowly but surely covering them (remarkably it does not grow at all on the glass). I will do some water changes, but I do not expect this to help too much, and it definitely is not a permanent solution. I need to dunk a bag of Rowaphos (and activated carbon) in the filter compartment, I had forgotten about that actually….I am also thinking of trying out the ‘wodka’ method, more about that later…
With the aquarium back on track, it is time for some more tank-related posts. I released one of the two Corkwing wrasse I caught, as the slightly bigger one was quite bullish. The Corkwing is very beautiful, although it has the nervous habit of chasing its reflection in the glass sometimes. I caught two small (4 cm) Fifteen-spined sticklebacks Spinachia spinachia as well that I wanted to observe. One disappeared without a trace and the other I did not see feeding on frozen artemia so I released it again. Most if the time these fish were facing the seaweed, probably to pick off any tiny crustacean that would appear.
Very difficult to photograph these restless fish with a phone! I am not attempting to decorate the tank with rocks etc just yet, as I first want to experiment with trying to keep different kinds of seaweeds alive (I hope to have more luck now I have the LEDs and chiller). I plucked some of the seaweeds but for some I chiseled off small pieces of the bedrock they are attached to. (I might try to use superglue to attach small pieces of rocks to a rack, similar to frags in reef tanks.) I have a whole bunch of seaweed species, but it seems that the more I learn about them the less I know….False Eyelash weed or Beautiful Eyelash weed? Red rags or Starry liver weed? Irish moss or Grape pip weed? Of course I also collected a small Bushy rainbow wrack (see the first picture). It is very fuzzy, partly due to epiphytes, and hardly iridescent but it hasn’t seemed to die on me just yet. (Note that as this is a perennial, slow growing and usually not abundant species which harbours a lot of other life on it too, it is important to pick as little as possible.)
With the aquarium ready and a neap tide, I resorted to some fishing from the quay with my humongous (>2.5 meter) net. This thing is a pain when moving/emigrating but I’m glad I’ve kept it. It is custom-made for RAVON: Reptielen Amfibien en Vissen Onderzoek Nederland (Reptiles Amphibians and Fish Research The Netherlands), a great club that I joined for a while when living in Holland. (The ‘fish’ in the acronym covers only the species living or migrating in fresh water). The net can be bought via the RAVON web shop; at the time they also sold a handy cuvet:
I have scraped along the sides of the main quay in Flushing a number of times now (btw, the quay was built by the Dutch; Flushing is named after Vlissingen in Zeeland, the old Cornish name of the village is Nankersey). Two-spot gobies (the most common semi-benthic species), a rock goby and even a Fifteen-spined stickleback Spinachia spinachia have ended up in the net. The last species I did not keep, as they prefer live food that I cannot offer them, but I took it home for a quick pic:
I never caught young mullet, a species that is great for the aquarium, which is strange as they are common around water fronts. This weekend to my surprise I caught two wrasse for the aquarium:
a Rock cook Centrolabus exoletus and a Corkwing wrasse Symphodus melops. Two very beautiful little fish (both species grow up to 15 cm, these were around 5 cm). Here the Rock cook Corkwing wrasse that looked superficially like a Rock cook but back home in the aquarium showed its distinctive spot on the base of the tailfin (best way to identify is counting scales and rays but that is almost impossible now; useful info on wrasse determination on this angling site):