When you receive your reef ball you will receive green sea lettuce balls (ulva), and amphipod breeding mats where you will see breeding colonies of amphipods (grammarus sp.) as well as isopods and copepods. You will also see seahare egg which will hatch into many tiny baby sea hares.
To feed the amphipods immediately, simply shake or gently squeeze the sea lettuce to release the amphipods into the water. The seahorses really love these and will quickly chase them down. However, the amphipods really hate light and will go as fast as they can to any dark place…so make sure the seahorses are watching you release the amphipods into the water. If they miss them, no worries as they will eventually find them, but probably while you are not watching!
Both the amphipods and other critters including the algae will flourish with proper care. The algae needs some light and the amphipods need dark hiding places. They will eat detritus found in your tank. If you do not have any you can feed the shrimp gro but be careful to use micro amounts 2 or 3 times a week only. With proper care you will see that the amphiods are making nests (small slimy pockets) and reproducing. Sumps and refugiums usually make great homes for these critters.
Water quality parameters should be the same as for the seahorses with the exception of temperature:
- Temperature 60F – 77F
- Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0
- PH 8.2 – 8.4
- Specific gravity 1.0252
- Very mild aeration is needed
Although the amphipods may be hard to find or may seem inactive, follow the acclimation procedures carefully anyways. It make take some time before you are able to detect the nests and the population of babies and adults.
Please acclimate slowly. The best way is to:
- Float the bag in your tank for about 20 – 30 minutes to equalize temperatures.
- Then partially open the bag and add 1 cup of tank water.
- Wait 10 minutes.
- Remove 1 cup of water and add another cup of water from the tank.
- Wait 10 minute.
- Gently release the sea lettuce and any small pieces of debris (the amphipods may be hiding in this debris)animals into the tank, discarding the water left in the bag.
- Do not feed until day 3 after arrival and acclimation.