Opae’ula Bubble Trouble Solved

The bubbles are gone. I hope. I sat and observed the opae in the 10-gallon for about ten minutes this morning and didn’t see any with the dreaded bubble “disease.”

What happened?

The answer is so simple that I’m embarrassed to admit it. The bubbles were really just that — bubbles. Air bubbles, to be more exact, and not symptoms of some form of infection or disease. How do I know?

Yesterday afternoon, I netted more of the bubbled opae and added them to the 1-gallon quarantine tank. And, as before, they seemed to lose their bubbles once in the tank. I assumed that it was an optical illusion, that the bubbles were still present but I just couldn’t see them because of the poor visibility afforded by the plastic container.

The obvious difference between the quarantine tank and the 10-gallon is the absence of an air filtering system. Assuming that the bubbles couldn’t be benign and had to be some kind of horrible disease, I didn’t give this difference a second thought. That is, until yesterday afternoon. Could filtration be the cause? Seemed far-fetched, but I was desperate and had nothing to lose.

The UGF in the 10-gallon runs 24/7, and it produces a constant bloom of tiny bubbles. I decided to experiment and turned the filter off last night. This morning, a few minutes ago, I checked to see if it had made a difference.

Voilà, it had, much to my relief and chagrin. I didn’t see any opae with bubbles. I’ll continue to monitor the tank throughout the day to see if this observation holds true.

I’ll keep the quarantined opae in the isolation container until I’m sure the 10-gallon really is safe. Perhaps later today or early tomorrow they’ll be able to rejoin their colony.

Another plus for the 10-gallon with filter turned off is the appearance (or visibility?) of numerous tiny juveniles. In the filtered state, I might’ve missed them because of the constant agitation of bubbles or they might’ve been hiding in the condo to avoid the turmoil outside.

In any case, the 10-gallon seems like a totally different environment with filter off. More peaceful. Less stressful? Not sure. The grazing seems more relaxed, less frenzied. Not sure if this is a healthy sign.

I remember, early on, experimenting between filter-on and filter-off periods. At the time, I found that the opae became more active as soon as the filter was turned off, but after a day or so, their activity level seemed to decline. My assumption at the time was that the chemical balance was upset by the absence of the filter. I decided to simply leave it on 24/7.

Now I’m wondering if I should move to a cycle that alternates between filter-on and filter-off. Perhaps this step is needed if bubbles begin to attach to the opae? If not, then leave it on 24/7?

I suppose another question is, are the bubbles trapped on their shells harmful? They don’t seem to be. Could they be beneficial in some way?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the support and comfort that Robin and Odin provided during this crisis, which seemed all too real at the time. I learned a heck of a lot and will no longer think of no-maintenance as an ideal. Low-maintenance, in the form of close observation-based monitoring is essential. I guess the rule of thumb is, if something doesn’t look right, investigate.

A second rule of thumb may be, don’t overlook obvious causes. In other words, don’t assume anything. In this case, I should have explored the air filter as a cause before jumping to other diagnoses. Bubbles beget bubbles seems, in hindsight, to be a no-brainer.

Before clicking on “publish,” I’ll do a 5-minute observation to make sure that I’m not hallucinating.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Opae’ula Bubble Trouble Solved

  1. Odin says:

    I hope your situation is resolved, if you wish to keep a filter I would highly recommend an air driven sponge filter that can be stuck too the side of the tank interia. The air feed can be adjusted with a tap and the exit for the filtered water can sit slightly above the water line to give a slow waterfall effect, you won’t have a huge batch of bubbles coming from the filter you use now.

    If you are worried about oxygen levels you could look at having a small airstone, and then could ditch the filter. I understand you have just gotten into the world of testing water perameters (which I find fun) but I’d highly recommend a salt water liquid test kit. These are more accurate and easier to read, plus it will last you years of use.

    Either way a 50% water change at least once a year will keep things healthy in your tank. Everything living likes a freshness booster now and again. Also I would advise the use of RO water instead of bottled water, this way you will never need to doubt your water source if issues arise again 🙂


  2. Robin says:

    😀 Yep, I’ve jumped the gun a time or two myself. Caring for critters and wanting to do right by them will make you a bit paranoid. One of the stories I used to remind myself to start with the simple reasons happened back when I was working with horses. A woman came back from a trail ride and her horse was lame. We all stood around doing Shock and Horror! Torn ligament? Ruptured tendon? Broken splint bone? An older trainer came out and asked whether or not anyone had checked to see if the horse had a rock stuck in his hoof. Oops. And it was a big one. And just a very simple solution. I am SOOOO glad it was this way for you! YAY!!!

    I wouldn’t worry about the bubbles. You said yourself no one was dying. Your tank isn’t saturated with bubbles so the shrimp have the option of avoiding the bubble stream from the filter. Maybe some of them found something yummy near the bubbles or maybe, like the one video, they’re playing in them. My personal preference is for a higher rate of gas exchange, particularly in smaller tanks. That means bubbles or flowing water. The ponds have a large surface area for the breezes to agitate or the rain to pound on, but we’re stuffing these guys into little boxes in a protected and somewhat sterile, compared to the wild, environment.

    I have a thread I waded through on The Planted Tank forum. I don’t know (remember) if you have seen it or not, so if I’m duplicating, my apologies. The guy in this thread went way out with his tanks at higher end brackish, live rock, and some acclimated ‘down’ salt water plants. It covers a couple of years and 700+ posts, but a very interesting read. Lots of neat photos, too. Here’s the link: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/88-shrimp-other-invertebrates/196018-opae-ula-hawaiian-red-shrimp-supershrimp-whatever.html

    And, YAY!!! again for a simple find on your problem! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s