- This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 6 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
August 9, 2007 at 10:46 am #1253cpbartakMember
I just wanted to note that shortly after the discussion with Leslie that I had here:
I located and purchased a mated pair of helfrichi firefish to serve as tankmates for my Erectus seahorses. I got the firefish at the best price I\’ve found for these fish online, $220 for the pair + shipping. Helfrichi\’s are rare fish; yet surprisingly, I\’ve found that they turn up quite frequently as mated pairs when they do turn up. It seems that it is not that uncommon for when these dartfish to be found in the wild, for them to be found with a partner. It took the vendor I purchased them from about a month to find them–but at the price I was able to get them from him at, which was a good $100 cheaper than anywhere else I\’d found at the time, I would have patiently waited much longer! If you must have them immediately no matter what the price, they are commonly offered as a mated pair from the marine center. I think the diver\’s den at Liveaquaria has a couple of mated pairs right now, too.
To keep a long story short, I am extremely glad that I bought them! I\’m going to briefly summarize my experience with these fish for anyone who might be considering them as tankmates for their horses. I noticed that Pete often lists the other two firefish species as potential tankmates but fails to mention these beauties for whatever reason (perhaps due to their scarcity or a lack of reports by aquarists who have kept them w/ SHs?). Whatever the case, I would like to note that these fish have been the most well-behaved and entertaining tankmates that I have personally had the pleasure to have in my company. The firefish have great personalities and act adorable as a pair. But I bet that the behavior they display would not be as interesting if there was only one of them!
The two of them stick together most of the time in the front-center of the tank, sometimes rubbing up against each other. When they\’re in hiding, the male frequently comes out from their home under the live rock (which luckily for me is right near the front of the tank and visible from some angles) to stave off perceived threats so that his partner doesn\’t have to worry. He doesn\’t really ever chase them (and the threats are never the SHs but typically my mischievous yellow clown goby). He just comes out and hovers in front of their home to let it be known that he is not afraid of defending their territory. The little gentleman even leads the way when he and his partner are exploring the tank, so as to make sure that no lurkers tend to surprise his lovely lady friend. The boy is a good half inch to an inch bigger than the female, I\’d say the two are @ 2 1/2 inches and 1 3/4 inches, respectively.
I certainly wouldn\’t risk having an open tank, but I would like to report that I have yet to witness any jumping issues with the firefish (i.e., i\’ve yet to see either getting scared and jumping into the enclosure). They do get frightened sometimes and dart behind a rock, though.
Probably most importantly to the people reading this, I have NEVER seen them bothering my erectus ponies. I wouldn\’t say they\’re \"friendly\" with the SHs, but the horses aren\’t scared of them and often hover by them carefree. I would say that the two groups pretty much ignore one another.
Unfortunately, I haven\’t kept either of the more common firefish to compare behavior to that of my lovelies. From some sources, it seems that the helfrichi\’s are more sensitive than the other firefish. Just from my observations, the Helfrichi\’s don\’t seem quite as bold as the other firefish that I\’ve seen in stores (but I don\’t know how representative those displays are of how those firefish would act in home aquaria). Mine do get startled by something on occasion and dart to hide. It will typically only be a few seconds though before they return to their previous hovering location.
One potential bonus (that needs to be verified by someone else) for those keeping erectus as tankmates–marine center notes that the helfrichi\’s firefish prefer slightly cooler water temperatures than the other firefish species. I\’ve looked into this a bit and it seems that the other species seem to be okay up to 80 or so degrees, whereas I\’ve helfrichi\’s should be kept between 72 and 78 degrees. I keep my tank at 73-75, which I think matches the optimal range of both the erectus and helfrichi\’s perfectly.
So, in sum. Yes, helfrichi\’s are expensive fish. But if you desire something exotic and to see some of the most beautiful fish other than SHs interacting in pair bonds in a SH aquarium, I say that the Helfrichi\’s pair can\’t be beat. Trust me, I\’ve looked far and wide and considered the requirements of most of the most beautiful fish I\’ve come across. For instance, the japanese dwarf angelfish certainly rivals the helfrichi\’s firefish in beauty; indeed, these angelfish were even captive bred for awhile by some folks in hawaii and could thus have been purchased as pairs. But they are fully impractical as SH tankmates. They are aggressive feeders and perhaps more prone to bullying docile ponies that accidently stumble into their territory. Furthermore, a pair of Japanese Angelfish would need much too large of a system as they can grow to 6\" or so each (a good 2\" larger than the other dwarf angels, none of which are quite as beautiful/exotic to me). I think that the fishes that are closest in beauty AND PRACTICALITY to the helfrichi\’s that can be kept at \"mated pairs\" are some of the fairy and flasher wrasses. However, to get the more \"natural\" behaviors that i can get from a pair of helfrichi\’s firefish, a large harem is typically required so as to displace aggression. I feel that a harem of flashers would need a larger system than the pair of helfrichi\’s to be comfortable–this would certainly be true for most of the fairies. Okay, that\’s my two cents!August 10, 2007 at 2:07 am #3759Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thank you very much for sharing your experience with the beautiful helfrichi firefish! They certainly sound like they would make stunning additions to any seahorse tank, and the fact that you can obtain them in mated pairs does indeed add a lot to their interest since you get to observe a lot of fascinating social interactions between the pair that you wouldn’t see otherwise.
Their gentle, inoffensive disposition, their shy, retiring nature and the way they tend to seek shelter amidst the rockwork briefly whenever they are alarmed is quite reminiscent of the behavior of their more common relatives, the Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris magnifica) and the Purple Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris decora). The behavior of my Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto) is very similar as well, and all of these small, very colorful fishes make excellent tankmates for seahorses.
You’re correct — I haven’t included them on my list of compatible tankmates up to now due to their rarity and the high price tag they command when available. But I shall amend my list to include these spectacular specimens from now on for the sake of those who can afford them.
Best wishes with all your fishes, CP!
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