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FAQs about Marine Livestocking 29

Related Articles: Stocking, Collecting Marines, Marine Livestock Selection, Reef Livestock SelectionQuarantine, Acclimation, Acclimating InvertebratesMarine Life Use in Ornamental Aquatics

Related FAQs: Best Marine Livestocking FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Livestocking FAQs 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5FAQs 6FAQs 7FAQs 8FAQs 9, FAQs 10, FAQs 11, FAQs 12, FAQs 14, FAQs 15, FAQs 16, FAQs 17, FAQs 18, FAQs 19, FAQs 20, FAQ 21, FAQs 22, FAQs 23, FAQs 24, FAQs 25, FAQs 26, FAQs 27FAQs 28, FAQs 30, FAQs 31, FOWLR Livestocking, Small System Stocking, Reef LivestockingAngelfish SelectionTriggerfish Selection

Stocking levels Hi,  <Hello Heather> We have a 92 gallon corner tank, complete with protein skimmer, 15 gallon filter (goes in cabinet underneath tank), and U.V sterilizer. Currently, our tank is home to a 8 week old coral banded shark, medium sized dogface puffer, and humu trigger. We also have about 25 scarlet crabs (very small). My question is, do we have room for any other fish? We realize that these fish put out a decent amount of ammonia which we maintain with weekly water changes, but the tank does look somewhat empty despite the population. I was thinking maybe a school of 5 or so damsels, but I do not want to have the levels and whole tank crash. We are upgrading the size of the tank as soon as we see the shark grow a little bit larger, but for now is it possible for a new addition?  <You don't say the actual size, but I'm thinking you are probably close to the limit. I like to figure one cubic inch of fish per five gallons tank volume. Maybe this will help you. James (Salty Dog)> 

Re: Yellow tail blue regal tang Thanks so much for your help. The store won't refund my money or replace the fish, so I've learned an expensive lesson. <Mmm...> I would like to ask your opinion on getting some other fish, if they will work together. I currently have a 60 gallon aquarium w/a protein skimmer, built in overflow box, and a UV sterilizer. The tank has been up for over a year now. I have about 34lbs of live rock in it, as well as a bicolor blenny and a chocolate chip star fish. I would like to add 4 fish and a shrimp. The fish I'm interested in are a coral beauty angel fish (my favorite!), a clown fish (percula or maroon), <Go with the Percula... Maroon's are too pugnacious> a yellow tang (I know I need to add it last), and I don't know about the 4th one because I had planned on the blue regal. In your opinion, will these fish, for the most part, do well together? <These are other good and compatible choices> Any suggestions on percula clown vs. maroon? Any suggestions on what to get instead of the blue regal. Once again, thank you very much for your help! <Let's leave the last slot open for a while... methinks something will "pop up" in time. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Marine Fish Compatibility (And Compressibility!) - 04/28/05 Hi Eric, < Hello Junaid > Thanks for the good advice. I agree with that it's better to choose a few specimens rather then overcrowd them. < Ahh...very good to hear my friend. > So just two (well technically 3) more questions for you and I think I'll be ready to go. < Shoot > * I like your lionfish/trigger combo. Can I keep the yellow tang or an angel in there too or is that going over the top? I'd like to keep more than 2 fish in the tank if possible, and I'm willing to settle with 3 fish. < Ummmmmmmmm...probably could get away with the Yellow Tang, or possibly an angel from the genus Centropyge. Do be conscious about size to start, so as to keep one from becoming food for the other. > * What invertebrates can I keep with this (if any)? I'd like to put starfishes, crabs, shrimps, snails etc, in with tank to kinda keep the tank a bit cleaner and add more interest. Is that ok?  < All run the risk of becoming fish food. > Thanks for the great help. You guys rock.... Junaid < And roll too! Eric R. (Yeah, yeah...you could see it coming <G>. >

Compatibility/Size Issues - 04/27/05 Hey all, < Hey Junaid! > First I'd like to say is great site. < My thoughts exactly. > It's been very helpful with tons of info. < I hope I can uphold the tradition. > I'm starting a 90g tank (FOWLR) and I need some advice on stocking it (I've successfully kept fresh water tanks for about 5 years now). I plan on getting a protein skimmer  < Oversized and of good quality, I hope. Considering what you want it to keep up with. > along with a wet/dry along with live rock and live sand, so I think my filtration system is adequate. My initial thoughts for the tank are: Volitans lionfish (the black and white ones are my favorite) Porcupine Puffer Yellow Tang Blue Regal Tang Picasso Trigger So my questions are: * Is the tank too small for this type of stocking? < Yup... > * From what I've read, it seems that porcupine puffer will easily outgrow the 90g tank. Is this true? < Yup, again... > * If so, can I replace the porky with a dog-face puffer and keep everything else? < Um...nope... >  * Also, is the Picasso Trigger docile enough to leave the other fish alone? If not, is there a trigger that would fit the fill? < The Picasso is actually one of the better choices for a community tank. >  * I guess my main question is which of these fish can I keep in a 90g assuming that I must have a lionfish and the puffer (porky or dog-face)? < And herein lies the rub...Both (all three) fishes can/will attain a foot in length (Up to 20" for the porky), please do consider the adult/mature sizes of these fish and plan accordingly. My suggestion would be to forget the tangs (you'll have the same size issues with the regal anyway), pick the Lion (least active of the two <lion/puffer>), and pair it up with the Picasso. Or...Choose the Dog-Face and pair it with the Yellow Tang. Likely these suggestions can be tweaked some, but do concentrate on providing healthy conditions for a couple choice specimens rather than a tank full of stressed and stunted fish. > Many thanks for your help. Best regards, Junaid H. Subzwari < Most welcome. Regards, Eric R. >

Substrates follow up 4/26/05 Thanks for your advice AdamC. I will wait another 4 weeks just to be sure. I do have at least 3" 0f Aragonite crushed rubble and sand, and Some deeper areas around the tank for the Jawfish. <Sounds good!> I think I am going to go with a mostly reef tank. Thanks for your advice on the Cleaner Wrasse.  I only buy Captive bred and raised fish. <Choosing exclusively captive bred fish is a worthy goal, but it will definitely limit your choices.> I have a soft heart for the ones that have been in the tank to long. <We all do, but resist the urge to "rescue" fish, especially those that are difficult to care for.  When you buy them, you encourage that retailer to order another.> I don't like those people who take rare fish and coral (anything for that matter) and sell just to get a few bucks, such as Marinecenter.com. Thanks for your advice it's always a big help. Jonathan  <I agree with your admonishment of the practice of profiteering on "rare" items, especially when that rarity is overstated.  However, I disagree with your characterization of The Marine Center (and a couple of companies like it).  First, these companies are supplying a consumer demand and without these companies, some of these animals may never enter the trade.  Second, there is a huge difference between rare in the wild and rare in the trade.  Expensive and elusive fish like Z. gemmatum (Gem Tang) are not especially rare in their natural range, but that range is outside common collection areas and the island of Mauritius where they are collected limits the number that can be taken.  Other examples are many wrasses and Centropyge angelfish that are quite common - at great depths.  Collecting them is dangerous and expensive and their availability and price reflect this.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> What Can I Add? (4/25/05) Hello Crew, <Hi. Steve Allen here with you today.> Thanks again for being a beacon of good knowledge and advice. <My pleasure to play a small role.> I would like to add some additional fish to my 120g set up that currently has 2 Percs clown, 2 fire fish, and a royal gamma. <Nice.> I have about 80lbs of live rock and a few long tentacle anemones. What/how many more fish can I add without overcrowding? <Depends on the size you choose.> I was thinking about a dwarf angel? <Should fit in well, but add after any other more peaceful fish.> Yellow Tang or Naso Tang? <You need over 200 gallons for a Naso. This would be a good tank for a yellow tang. If you added this and the angel, you'd finish out your tank quite nicely. Some sort of shrimp goby (like a Yellow Watchman) on the bottom would be a nice finishing touch.> Any other suggestions on other types of fish I could safely add to my system? <A fairly unaggressive Wrasse perhaps. A Hippo Tang might be nice instead of the Yellow. Any Tang will be more susceptible to ick than other fish. You might also want to consider a Rabbitfish. They are rather hardy and generally peaceful. Lots of possibilities really--check out Scott Michael's "Marine Fishes" handbook.> Thanks. <You're welcome.>

Refugium - Stocking 04/25/2005 Hi, I have a 72 FOWLR and have a bit of a nitrate problem (< or = 40 ppm) and bought a hang on refugium from eBay (12 x 18 x 4 inches - only $35 shipped!) basically a generic CPR one. <Hey nice hardware.> I have an extra 32 watt PC (actinic/10,000 K) that I plan on using for the refugium, is this too much light? <I think that light will work nicely> Also, what type of Caulerpa do you recommend? <There is a lot of discussion on this and the most popular macro seems to be Chaetomorpha. Fast growing and will not go asexual which is the rumor on a lot of Caulerpa> Should I put red mangroves in? I've hear they do a good nutrient export job, which is strictly what I am looking for. <Mangroves, which are nice, take some room to grow and Chaetomorpha is much easier to grow with this setup in my opinion> Should I put a sand bed, use mud, or go naked / bare. <This is all based on what you want to keep.  Because this is a fish only that will depend on the food requirements for those fish.  Amphipods can be grown with a larger substrate while copepods like a smaller particle size.. It all depends on what you want to harvest.> All I'm looking to do is improve my water parameters, the refugium isn't for looks as it's behind the tank. Oh, and one more thing - should I be running the lights 24/7, a reverse schedule of my main tank, or something else? <A lot of people have success with 24/7.  A good reason to run a cycle that is opposite your main tank is to help stabilize PH.  So I would recommend the latter of the two.> Thanks so much for the help! <Anytime.. EricS> Stocking Levels Hello to all the WWM crew that keep all us amateur aquarists in reading and information (and sane minds!!).<Hello Martin> I have a display tank of approximately 58gallons, a sump system for that tank with an additional volume of 18gallons, so in total 76 gallons of water in the aquarium. I am running the system at 26C, 0 ammonia nitrite and nitrate, sg of 1.024. Equipment wise I am running 2x Fluval 3 internal filters (more for circulation than anything), in the sump I have bioballs, lots of filter media and activated carbon, an Aqua medic TurboFlotor 750 skimmer and an Oceanrunner 2500 (I think approximately I am circulating the entire contents of the tank about 11-12 times per hour, including the internals). there is no live rock it is purely a fish only system. I have one Dascyllus humbug damsel in there at the moment, however I am more than happy to remove him and place some Heniochus butterflies in there. How many heinous can this system take?<I would say three at most with no other fish.> I was hoping to put 3 in there! If this is fine for the size of system what other fish (Red Sea) could I put in there with them without overstocking the system? I also have a 35g nano-reef tank and a 20g quarantine tank and your web site has proved invaluable to me as well as the fantastic book of Mr. Fenner's that I keep with me at all times "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Thank you to all for doing such a wonderful job, you all make our lives a lot better with your knowledge and sincerity. <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Regards Martin Gorton

Red Foot Moon Snails Dear crew,             I recently ordered a clean-up crew from live aquaria. In the package were 8 Red foot Moon snails. I have found out from this site and others, that they like a temp right around 74-76. Currently my tank is at 84-86. Could this be the reason for them not wanting to "Stick" to anything? I am forever picking them back up and resticking them. I have already lost two. <... this is a coldwater animal... Norrisia norrisii (put this scientific name in your search engines...). Will not live for long at the temperatures you list> I am getting ready to float a frozen 1 liter bottle to attempt to bring the temp down, but am concerned about how cool I can make it. I still have tropical stuff such as Margarita snails, red tipped hermits, scarlet red leg hermits, yellow polyps, GSP's and a lawnmower blenny. Any Ideas? Tank: 50 Gallon All Glass Filtration: 130 lbs LS 130 lbs LR Fluval 404 w/carbon, chem.-pure, Phos-Zorb, and biomedia Aqua-c Remora 18" HOB w/Maxi jet 1200 and a skim box Readings: Temp=84.1* SG=1.025     NH3=0.5mg/l <Should be zero, zip, nada> NH4=2.0mg/l <Ditto> NO2=0.1-0.5mg/l NO3=10mg/l PH=7.9 shortly after lights on PO4=0.1mg/l CA=375ppm ALK=2.0meq /l Making water for change now, but it still has to mix for a day. Tim Wagner. <Tim, this planet has many differing habitats, micro-habitats... your mix of tropical and temperate marine species is incompatible. You can either get another (chilled) tank, or give up on non-tropical species. Bob Fenner> Re: Red Foot Moon Snails Thanks for the help. I am going to try and find someone with a chilled tank, if they last that long. I just loaded the tank with this clean up crew and the blenny, so I assumed this is the reason for the elevated ammonia. Thanks Tim Wagner. <Thank you... there seems to be a cyclicity in the trade of folks providing, retailers offering cold-water to cool-water organisms (inappropriately) every few years... Let the Buyer Beware (Caveat aquatica inappropriatum?). Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Reef Safe (5/14/04) Hello hope your day is going well but I have a question. Do you know if any triggers are reef safe or angels that are too?  please send back thank you <Steve Allen here tonight. "Reef safe" is a relative and somewhat unreliable term. Some individual fish of species not considered reef safe will leave inverts & corals alone, while others that are supposedly reef safe will eat them. In general, you can count on Triggers to eat snails & crustaceans and most will nip at corals. Most Angels nip at corals but some of the genus Centropyge may leave them alone, particularly the Coral Beauty. I would suggest you consult either Nilsen & FossÃ¥'s Reef Secrets or Scott Michael's "Marine Fishes" for details on specific fish.> 

Rapid Fish Deaths  So here goes. I browsed previously asked questions but didn't find anything close. I have a relatively new 90 gal saltwater tank (saltwater in it for 6 weeks now) that has completed cycling in the last three weeks. I have 150lbs of live rock, a 4-5" sandbed, turbo classic skimmer, U.V. sterilizer (just switched on), pc fluorescent and metal halide and water changing about a gallon a day. Parameters during the period of my tale: Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, Nitrate 15 ppm, Calcium 550 ppm, Magnesium 1000 ppm, Alkalinity 15dKh, pH 7.9, ORP 315, Salinity 1.023.  One and a half weeks after cycling completed I attempted to introduce a few Damsels (yellow tails). Acclimation was to drip tank water for 60 minutes, remove 50% of contents, fast drip for 30 minutes and........then the fish died.  <Hmm...>  I tried again. This time I added an airstone to the fish bag, floated the bag in water that was kept between the temperature of the arriving fish water and the tank (only a 3 degree spread between these two), measured fish bag pH at 8.0 and tank at 7.9 and arriving salinity of 1.019 vs. tank of 1.023. Acclimation was to drip tank water for 1 hour, remove 50 % of contents ,slow drip for 30 minutes (even slower than first time), remove 50% of contents and fast drip for 30 minutes.............but the fish died.  <Wow- something ain't right here...>  Taking some advice that the acclimation process may have been too slow with the possibility that the fish underwent oxygen starvation in the bag, I tried again with a modified acclimation procedure - floated the bag in the tank for 15 min.s, added a cup of tank water after 10 min.s and so on for 4 cups, dipped the fish, and then into the tank.  Success - the fish was quite inquisitive for about 10 minutes and then found its way up the intake tub of a powerhead and in the 5 minutes following the powerhead encounter..................the fish died.  <Yikes...lousy luck!>  I tried again. Same acclimation as immediately above, the fish was inquisitive for about 10 minutes and just slowly gave into the currents in the following 5 minutes and..............the fish died.  <Okay...not good here...>  I'd really appreciate some suggestions because at this point its no longer fish slaughter but first degree fish murder if I try again. Thanks  <Okay, I have a few observations/thoughts here. My first recommendation is to quarantine all new arrivals in a separate tank before placing them into the display...I know that you are having troubles just acclimating the fish, but this is a good practice to start with. My other thought is that you may be getting some fishes from a source that has questionable quality, or that you may not be selecting healthy fishes to begin with. Do consider obtaining your fishes from another source, and really read up on the FAQs here on WWM concerning the selection of healthy specimens (and how to evaluate them). The other thought that I have is to think about the possibility of a toxin of some sort in your water. Your acclimation techniques sound fine, but something doesn't jibe here...Assuming that all of your basic water quality parameters are correct, and at proper levels, as you report, then something else may be going on. Have you used any type of household cleaning solutions near the tank? Any paints, solvents, insecticides, etc., which somehow could have gotten into the tank? Any "additives" that you have been using? Are all tank items and decorations non-toxic? Have you obtained rocks or decorative corals from unknown sources, which may have contained a toxic substance of some sort? Think of all of the possibilities here...From the basics to the exotic. In the absence of measurable water chemistry problems, you need to look at all sorts of possibilities. I'd recommend continuous use of activated carbon and Poly Filter, not to mention some water changes...Aggressive protein skimming is helpful, too. Just keep looking beyond the obvious, and think about some of the things that we've discussed here. Don't be discouraged- you can and will be successful here...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>(

Rapid Fish Deaths (Follow Up) I have tried two fish sources. I have been quite meticulous in the care and handling of water and materials. Although I should be quarantining, these are the first tank inhabitants so have not done so. <I understand your thoughts, but you could still introduce potential diseases that can lay in wait for further additions to the tank. Quarantine is a really good idea right from the start> I have had indirect contact with the London Aquarium who are similarly baffled. There has been a suggestion that the DSB has ripped sufficient oxygen out of the water as it turns anaerobic to cause depletion. <An interesting theory-I'm not sure of the plausibility; but worth running an oxygen test  to see if this is the cause...> I have done a 100% water change and will try again.  Thanks <Get up again and keep at it...Your determination and perseverance are inspiring to others who run into obstacles along the way in this hobby! Thanks for sharing, and feel free to contact us again if we can help! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Good shops in San Diego Off the previous subject, my father lives out in Poway, Ca.  The fish store that he was previously using closed.  I understand that some of you live in the San Diego area.  Can you recommend a reputable fish store?  I thought I saw in a message that one of you runs a place in the San Diego area.  It doesn't necessarily need to be in the North County. Thanks. Neil Markus <We live in SD as well... for saltwater there's a few choices in town: Octopus' Garden and Aquatic Whse. down in the Kearny area, and Fountain's out in La Mesa... there's a couple of good places in N. county but can't recall their names offhand... I would check out folks recommendations on the BB's for a wider set of opinions. Bob Fenner>

Recommendation for a LFS Crew, <Dave> I'm having a hard time finding a good fish store in my area. I've visited 4-5 of them and seem to get different/bad advise from most of the time. I live in the Cincinnati, OH area and was wondering if you have had an recommendations for me? I've totally weeded out 2 of them, grossly wrong on suggestions or the livestock looks mistreated. Ii can see why you wouldn't want to put this on the public site if you don't want to. Thanks for all of your help, Dave <Do posit your question on our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ There is an area for such questions... and many more folks who may know the stores in your area to respond. You and my values agree re "voting with your dollars and feet" for stores, practices you want to endorse. Bob Fenner> - Twitching Fish - Hi. <Hello, JasonC here...> I was in my marine fish store today and they had a beautiful threadfin butterfly fish. <Neat.> I was tempted to buy him (he would be my first butterfly) but upon watching him I noticed that every few seconds his head or ventral fins would twitch.  Physically he looked fine, fins intact, color vivid, no red, blotchy, or otherwise strange looking areas.  What would cause this behavior? <Hard to say for certain, but my guess [as I've seen my fish do this too] is that is like a big stretch... like when you wake up in the morning.> I assume I was prudent in not purchasing him. <I don't think it means anything is wrong with the fish.> Had I not studied carefully I wouldn't have seen the odd motions. Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated. <If you are uncertain, perhaps put a deposit on the fish and let it stay at the store another week or two, but I wouldn't be concerned.> Thanks, Patrick <Cheers, J -- >

A Conscientious Fish Source? Dear Sirs: <Hi there! Scott F. this afternoon!> I hope you can help me with my search for healthy marine fish.  I am in the process ( 2.5 years and counting ) of establishing a 180 gallon reef tank. I have purchased and read numerous books by Fenner, Tullock, Delbeek, Sprung, Calfo, Borneman, Vernon, Goemans, Shimek, Vernon, Baensch, Wilkerson, Michael, Fautin/Allen, Fossa/Nilsen and others. Also, I subscribe to FAMA, TFH, many online magazines/articles, and try to search the net for any other information I can find. If my wife knew how much I have spent on all this reading material I would be forever banished to the proverbial dog house.  However, I am willing to risk my spouse's wrath, in order to find healthy aquarium specimens, and care for them under the best possible conditions. <Even a spouse's wrath is tolerable if you have such lofty goals, IMO! Well- ok- it's reasonably tolerable...> In my never ending search I have found many sources of captive bred and captive/tank raised corals/invertebrates.  Unfortunately, I have had less success in finding  retailers of  captive/tank raised, or captive bred fish. I realize the list of captive raised fish is relatively small, and the list of captive bred fish for sale is even smaller. But, I hope you can direct me to, or recommend, some online sources of captive raised and bred fish. <We share similar concerns and goals. I am a big supporter of these types of suppliers. I could, with a high degree of confidence, recommend that you check out Inland Aquatic, which offers captive-bred, captive-reared, and certified drug free fishes. Also high on my list would be Marine Specialties International, whose owner, Mary Middlebrook, is deducted to ecological-minded practices. Another trusted source would be Marine Center, which sells both common and rare fishes that are procured conscientious collectors. There are still other sources for humanely-handled fishes out there- just keep searching. High on my list for animals other than fishes would be Indo Pacific Sea Farms, whose owner, Gerald Heslinga, is a pioneer in mariculture, and runs a great business. There are many other individuals out there who can provide you with the properly handled fishes that you desire> Also, any recommendations for a retail source for humanely, net caught fish, would be greatly appreciated.  Without going into details the LFS is not an option (trust me on this). <Believe me, I can relate!> And, I do not know of any local clubs in my area, Colorado. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with all of us. I hope to confer with you in the future as I set up my aquarium. Sincerely, Peter I. <Good luck in your search. I commend you heartily on your standards, and wish you luck in the future! Regards, Scott F.>

1st saltwater tank!!! Waiting for our 135 gal set-up to be delivered. Planning on live rock (50 lbs ?) <Maybe enough... you can always add more later> fish only tank. Husband & I trying to put together a tank with each of our favorites.  <Now this could be tough> Have spent 100 hours on-line and read every book available which leaves us even more confused with stocking as some say o.k. and others never. Have seen tanks with these fish mixed but need your opinion. I want 6 black-axil or green Chromis, 1 common clown, 1 royal Gramma, 3 pyjama & 2 Banggai cardinal, 1 flame angel. Husband wants 1 regal or hippo tang and a small (2") clown trigger which he is convinced if put in last might be fine. Help...short of needing to set-up separate tanks I would really appreciate you opinion. I'm so glad I found this web-site!! <Me too! Your collection/selections are much more likely to "get along", live peaceably together... and be much more easy to care for... But... the only "solution" I can see here is... to get another set-up! So you can both have what you'd like to try. Bob Fenner>

Setup Question (actually stocking) Thanks for all the time you take answering everyone's questions. Your knowledge and love of aquaria is amazing. I have enjoyed reading all the info at your web site. <Hopefully as much as our generating, placing it there.> Now for my questions: I have 55 gallon fish-only tank with one yellow tang which I have had for 2 years. I added 45 lbs of Walt Smith live rock 2 weeks ago. My filtration consist of UGF with 3 powerheads, an Emperor 400 and a SeaClone skimmer. I am in the process of adding a Tidepool SOS and Tidepool sump, should be finished this weekend. I am also adding a Lifeguard 40W UV sterilizer on the sump return. <Considerable improvements> After the sump has been running for about a week, I want to start adding fish. Would the following fish be compatible, good together and with my yellow tang? I would like to add a Flame Angel, Bi-Color Angel, <Just one of these please> Porcupine Fish and a Naso Tang or Huma Trigger to start with. Would this be too many to add at once?  <Please wait a few more weeks... to make sure your rock has settled in... and be aware that these will be more fish than your system can happily contain in the long haul (six months to a year...)> Are there any fish in the above list that *should not* be subjected a freshwater dip with methyl blue? <No, all will do fine with this prophylactic measure> Also, if I wanted to add a butterfly, do you have suggestion on which would be the most hardy? I might add butterfly instead of one of the above. <I would not place a Butterflyfish in such a system... with such rough and tumble tankmates...> Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Chris Blansit <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

Fish Compatibility Question Mr. Fenner, I just purchased your book online so I should be receiving it within the week. I have heard only good things and can't wait to receive it.  <Ah, anticipation> I have a question about beginning a 65 Gallon fish only aquarium (this is my first fish tank). I am currently cycling my tank with 4 yellow tailed damsels. I have only dead coral and rocks for decoration. I want to add the following, but would like some suggestions as to which types, compatibility, and whether  I can even put that many fish in my 65 gallon tank (I have no room to later purchase a larger tank). I would like to purchase: 2-3 clowns (not sure which type yet maybe percula or maroon) <Not the Maroon... too feisty> 1-2 Banggai Cardinals Flame Hawkfish Angelfish (possibly Passer or Emperor) <Neither... this system is too small for either> Dwarf Angel (Coral Beauty or Bicolor or Fisher's or Potter's) <Please see our coverage on "Marine Angelfishes", "Dwarf Angelfishes" on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com here... you don't want the Potter's... and want to direct your purchase of either of the "full size" dwarfs to the country of origin...> Tang (Naso or Powder Blue, but I have read you don't think Powder Blues are a good choice) <You are correct... and a Naso will be too big... take a look at the WWM site, and please consider a genus Zebrasoma or Ctenochaetus tang instead... much better.> Butterfly (bluestripe or yellow longnose) <The Forcipiger> Possibly some Dottybacks and/or grammas <Make that "a".> Also can I keep my yellowtail or get rid of them? <Either, the choice is yours.> What do you think? Please tell me if this is too many fish, if they will or will not "get along", what order I should add them to the tank, etc... I am open to any and all criticism.  <This is wise> If you don't think I should get some of these fish please let me know, or if you think a fish would be good that I did not mention please let me know. Any and all input is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Jeremy Weiss <Welcome to the hobby my new friend. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater fish (selection) I have a 75gal tank, and the only two fish that are in there are a clown and a mandarin. I would like it to be a community tank, and I was wondering what other kinds of fish you would recommend I put in there? If you would please recommend one set of schooling fish also. Thanks, Shawna <Too many choices here... please read through both the "Marine" and "Reef" livestock selection survey articles on the www.WetWebMedia.com site and the many survey pieces and associated FAQs on what's available, it's needs/ranges of requirements, likelihood of surviving... posted on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Timeliness... of livestocking, learning, living Mr. Fenner. I have come to a crossroads of sorts in my saltwater tank keeping. First all the std stuff: 125g tank, 100lbs live rock, about 1-2 inches of course sand, over 10x's water circulation (through return pump and 2 powerheads in the tank), protein skimmer for 180g tank or smaller, and sump with bonded filter pads for filtration of particles and food. Now to the question, I have came to the point were I am going to start adding my list of chosen fish to my tank. <Ah, how exciting.> My live rock was purchased uncured, let it cure by itself with no fish for 3 weeks and have done multiple water changes and siphoning of junk. <Only three weeks? I'd wait a couple more... for larger systems, a great deal of rock... I generally advise two months or so...> The protein skimmer was pulling out oozes of black nasty smelling liquid (filled up about half a gallon in my skimmer overflow). <Amazing that some folks don't use skimming isn't it?> The water smelled putrid for about 2 weeks, but now for about a week has smelled great, fresh and like the ocean. I have read countless books including the best one, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist <Know the author myself!> and talked to endless amounts of people at LFS's and on the net and completely understand the nitrogen cycle in a new tank. So here I am 10 days after I started getting readings of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, little to 0 nitrate, ph 8.0, salinity stable at 1.20 and am wondering what I can get on my list of fish. I added 3 2" damsels to the tank a few days ago and everything is kosher. But my problem is this, I need to know what fish I can add, and when. First my list of fish: juv Emperor angel, 4-5" Naso tang (possibly a P. Blue later), a threadfin, Pakistan, and saddleback b/f (all 3-4") and maybe later a 4-5" Asfur or Map angel. <A bunch to say here... would still wait on adding your new fishes... till some nitrate shows accumulating... and do consider raising your specific gravity... all will be happier with it nearer Natural Seawater (NSW) conditions... about 1.025... not all at once... at most a thousandth per day... And only one large Angel species for this tank... either the Emperor OR the Asfur OR Map (any of which will need a larger tank in a year or so... > I am asking someone like yourself this question because no one will give me an answer. Everyone says, don't put an angel or b/f in a new tank. And why is this; because your tank has not cycled completely and stabilized. But mine has, even though it is only 3-4 weeks old. The rock shows no signs of white or brown decay, it is starting to slowly grow coralline algae and small amounts of hair algae, all tests are great and have been reading that way for over a week. To quote your book, "angels are sensitive to new tank syndrome and should never be the first species put into a new system. Only place the in aquariums that have been seasoned and have housed other species in good health for a few months." So should I still wait to get one of these fish for another week, month, couple months?  <As carte blanche advice (in print or the internet), yes... the "windows" you have to look at your water quality are fine... but they do not test for many other physical, chemical aspects that are important in determining livestock health... Do wait on the butterflies and Angel... the "lowered" stress from your system aging is worth the wait> If the damsels continue to do great for the next week or two and all tests and water quality are great, what other reason could there be for me not adding a b/f or angel? <The changes in your water are large... and largely due to "succession"... the dying off, competition, predation that goes on in/with an environment with change in "controlling factors" (light, circulation, circadian rhythms, population dynamics galore... in moving the "live" rock to new exigencies... The re-favoring/disfavoring of different types of life in a "new" system results in the release of many important types of molecules (scatols, phenols, terpenoids... allelopathic short chain fatty acids of many sorts... that do effect the health and well-being of "macro" life like these fishes... Hence the sort of suggestion of "waiting", "curing" new systems, rock... using skimmers, water changing... activated carbon... to make the aquatic environment less hostile...> And which of the fish above should I be pretty safe trying first. <If it were me I'd wait... and first place whatever "cleaner upper" organisms (invertebrates), then next the fishes for the same (see the site: www.WetWebMedia.com in a few places on this mix of life> I am not wanting to rush anything, but my tank cycle has not taken the length of time that you and other people say it usually takes.  <Perhaps... then again, it may well "re-cycle" or oscillate at this point...> I do realize that maybe my tank just cycled quicker, but I want an experts opinion about what I should do and what fish I might try. Like I said before, I have taken this very seriously (probably too serious, I actually worry about the 3 damsels) and do not want anything to happen to my fish. I have done more than enough homework on saltwater fish and everything that it involves to make it work well.  <Careful here my new friend.> But I am getting very frustrated about the advice and answers I am finding and receiving. Every LFS and book and newsgroup says the exact opposite of what the other says and I don't know who to believe.  <Believe yourself> For example, your book and most net sites say that lionfish are very hardy and you have to beat with a stick (as you say) to kill them. And then at my LFS's they tell me they aren't that hardy and that they can be a problem. Then my LFS tells me that b/f's are almost immpossible keep and don't even try them. And then your book says that a proper sized, healthy specimen like a raccoon, threadfin, saddleback, Pakistan, etc. are very hardy and with regular water maintenance are easy to keep.  <Yes, much differences of opinion... one of the principal joys of the aquarium hobby... for me at least... One finds that an inquisitive, to a degree cynical mind works well here... A suggestion: Ask specific questions (perhaps even write them down) when inquiring of these different sources of information... AND their specific reasoning for their opinions... compare these... especially with your own first and second hand experiences... You will know...> And it goes on and on and on. So if you could just explain why angels and b/f's should not be introduced to a new tank or my tank, and who I should listen to, <Yourself> I would very happy and not so confused. Also a recommendation on which of the fish I listed on my list that I would have good luck with as a first major fish.  <Let's wait on this issue for now... study up on what that "clean up" bunch might look like... and keep adding notes to your fishes wish list...> I look to people like yourself and other aquarists as experts and not so much LFS people  <We are all just people.> They act like they know everything but I don't think half of them even own any of the fish they sell. They just work there. <Ahh, the world is not this simplistic... perhaps you might volunteer some of your time at a local fish store, even work at one for a time... you and the public would/will gain greatly from the experience> Sorry for the overly long email, just want you to know all the facts. Thanks again, Ryan Fick <No worries on the length, and no one will know all the facts, enough to seek to know ourselves, and be satisfied. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Marine Livestocking Plan Thanks a lot for your prompt reply to my Tang question! I'm hoping I can get your input on my overall stocking plan - I currently have a 55 gallon fish-only aquarium, with a wet/dry filter & protein skimmer (the CPR combo one), and a 10 gallon refugium with a plenum & sand bed. The refugium has ~10 lbs of live rock, macroalgae, and amphipods galore. I currently have a single tank-raised true percula clownfish. I am considering (in this order): wild-caught cleaner/neon goby (Gobiosoma oceanops) small blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) small long-spined porcupine puffer (Diodon holocanthus) dwarf flame angel (Centropyge loriculus), I've heard Hawaiian is the best? <The Hawaiian ones are very nice... hard to come by though... I do like your list and gear... with the exception of the Puffer... it's the "odd fish out" here... will get big, eat a bunch of things I think you'd rather it not... and make messes galore in your fifty five...> I also have three red-legged hermits, which would have to go if I got a puffer. I've been told that a small puffer might get too big in as soon as a year. <Oh, see you have been doing your studying... yes, I'd sub another fish for the puffer> These would be introduced over a six month period. If all of these are OK, does that pretty much max out the aquarium? <Look through the selection pieces (marine, reef) and the survey articles on groups of fishes, non-fishes posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... I would encourage you to have a few hardy soft corals, polyps...> Thanks for any advice! Keith (who can't seem to find your book at the bookstore, but I'm sure I can find it online) <Ah, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is between much needed reprinting... my latest is offered on/through Amazon, the WWM site listed above... Bob Fenner>

Tank mates Bob, I currently have a 125 gallon aquarium with a Green Dragon Wrasse, a Tomato Clown, 2 Banggai Cardinals, and a Blue Angel. I was wondering what would be a good addition to the fish that I already have. I would like a peaceful but active swimmer, preferably something that swims around the upper part of the tank since most of my fish currently hang out in the lower half. I would like something that is reef friendly though. I do not currently have a reef tank. I have plenty of live rock, some polyps, and some mushroom anemones. It isn't a true reef tank but some day I may upgrade it to one. My blue angel is probably my most active fish but I'm not sure what I can put in there with him. I would love to put another angelfish in there but I know that you are not supposed to put two angelfish in the same aquarium. I appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thank you. Gianluca <A bunch of choices here... and a non-angel would be best for your 125... read over the selection pieces and especially the Surgeonfishes... on the www.wetwebmedia.com site. Bob Fenner>

Fish/Invert life spans Hi Bob, I am new to this hobby and I have been trying to read all I can. I really like your CMA book by the way. I haven't been able to find much on expected life spans for different species of fish and inverts. Could you point me in the direction of this information or give me some generic ideas? Thanks in advance, Brian Battles <Thanks for writing... A few public aquariums (Monaco for one) do keep and post records of longevity for their livestock... I encourage you to check out the public aquariums links posted on the www.wetwebmedia.com site and read through these sites. Some of the figures are very surprising... Bob Fenner>

Marine Livestocking Bob, Thank you for all of the helpful advice. I have a couple of follow up questions for you if you're not too busy. Per your high praise for the Fromia species of starfish I am planning on purchasing a couple but I don't want to add them too soon. Should I wait until after the tank has cycled and my cleaning crew is in place (by way of review, I'm currently cycling an Oceanic 58 with 90 pounds of ffexpress pre-cured Fiji rock--currently TurboFlotor is producing very wet froth as there is a major brown algae bloom [lighting: 2 96 watt power compacts on 13 hours a day])? Should I wait until all fish are added? Is it OK to add them at any point once the tank has cycled? <Thanks for the thoughtful writing and strokes... Yes to waiting till at least the system has cycled completely and yep to placing the clean up critters first/foremost... you can/could place the Fromia(s) ahead of your fishes> Are there any urchins out there that you would recommend? I get the impression from reading your various statements about them that you're not too crazy about urchins as additions to the reef? I think that the blue stripe tuxedo is a sharp looking critter but I'd like some more information before I purchase one. <You're right re my lack of recommendation for Urchins for reefs... most get too big, too destructive, too potentially dangerous (physically and chemically) for other livestock... for any other than really BIG systems (hundreds of gallons, plus...). Do wait until your system is up and going completely, and if you can't be outright dissuaded, do start/try only smaller individuals> I am still planning on adding a pair of fire fish once the tank has cycled. Do you know whether they would be compatible with a pair of purple fire fish? <Hmm? Most small microdesmid species (What is the first one?) will mix in a large enough system... I would allow at the minimum, one square foot of open bottom space per individual> Finally, do you know where I could find some of the rarer forms of lionfish? <Ask your suppliers to in-turn request these... they can be found, are collected sporadically from several places in the world> (Don't worry, I'm not planning on putting them in my reef tank!) <The smaller ones are fine... just as long as they're not so large as to inhale other livestock, including mobile invertebrates..., and you have adequate filtration... they're messy> I recently picked up a copy of Scott Michael's Reef Fishes and would like to find some of the rarer forms described (Pterois mombassae, sphex, lunulata [the true lunulata--not the russelli normally sold as a lunulata] as well as the ebosia bleekeri, Parapterois heterura, and Dendrochirus bellus). It's unfortunate that these fish don't make it in the trade more often. I believe that some do but they're typically generically labeled as "dwarf" or "black volitans" or "red volitans." <Do agree and Scott's books are fabulous> Thanks again for all of your help! Re: Livestocking Bob, Really appreciate your site; I find myself accessing it daily. I have a couple questions I was hoping that you could answer. I currently have a 58 Oceanic cycling with 90 lbs of pre-cured Fiji live rock from ffexpress (lighting: 2 96watt PCs; circulation: Rio 2100 and 3 assorted sized power heads; using a TurboFlotor in the sump [currently doing a good job of skimming quite a bit of brown junk]). This is the first time that I've had anything other than a FO tank. Should I anticipate the protein skimmer to continue to pull out as much brown liquid once the tank has cycled?  <No, it will slow down to a virtual trickle with time...> What is the average amount of time before a tank of this size with this much live rock takes before it cycles (obviously I'm just asking for your best educated guess here as I know that many factors are involved)? <A few days to a couple of weeks... really> Once the tank is cycled I'm wanting to put in a pair of ocellaris clownfish. Will the ocellaris accept a bubble-tip? I know that the quadricolor is the hardiest but I'm concerned that my clowns would not accept it. What are the hardiest anemone alternatives? <Should... and lots to say here... more depends on how the animal was collected and through whom it transits... and if you can observe it otherwise before purchasing for tears, general health... take a look at the site re and the Breeder's Registry on Anemones.> In a previous question I asked about the best species of Caulerpa. You mentioned the sertularoides and taxifolia. What are the common names for these? I'm thinking about setting up a refugium off of my sump with some mud and/or sand with a bunch of Caulerpa lit 24/7 for nitrate reduction. I don't know how I'm going to build such a thing since I'm kind of limited in terms of space. Any thoughts? <These are the best common names... make the space> In your opinion what are some of the hardier polyps and soft corals out there for my 58 reef? I notice that you think that the yellow Fiji leather is hardy yet ffexpress lists it as one of its 'non-guaranteed' shippers. Where can I find your "best-list" from the non-fish category (anemones, soft corals, etc.)? <Posted in FAQs on the site> In addition to the ocellaris I'd like to put in a couple of firefish (is it possible to find them in pairs?) <Yes, definitely. How they're generally found in the wild> , a flame hawk (if you don't think they're too out of control for a peaceful tank), a lawnmower blenny, and a royal Gramma. I'm also planning on throwing in the requisite cleaner snails and crabs.  <Hawks will eat small crabs... most shrimps> Finally, I'm leaning toward a cleaner, peppermint, and coral-banded shrimp--do you see any problems here? Lastly, what are your thoughts about Fromia elegans or monilis starfish? How hardy are these critters? What order should I add all of these items once the tank has cycled? <Fromia spp. are tops> Finally, what is your recommendation regard ng ideal temperature, salinity, and calcium levels for the reef tank (sounds like everyone is a little different--I'm wondering how particular about all of this I need to be). Thanks in advance for all of your help! <Depending on organism mix, locality... upper seventies F., 1.025, 350-450 ppm...  Bob Fenner>

Good day - document/web page question Hi, Just a quick question. I was looking at your site, www.wetwebmedia.com when I came across a article: How to go about planning and picking out marine livestock Good article, thanks. However, it referenced a link that is no longer active. I was wondering if you know where it may be found. The link in question is: www.exec.com/~jkos/amda You mentioned that this was a ongoing document/compilation of desirable species as well as a dirty list of fish. To me, this is very valuable. As only a reefer for 2 years now, selecting fish is quit a task. I'm constantly looking to add a fish or two for color, assistance in algae and pest control, or diversity. However, conflicting stories about good fish/bad fish make the task hard. Anyway, just looking to educate myself on what is good vs. bad fish for my tank. Thanks for any help. Have a good day. Oh yeah, this site has some good information. Thank you for taking some time out to help others. ScottF >> Thanks for the heads-up... did search for the American Marine Life Distributor's Association... and maybe they're gone... Will make a note to remove the reference... and do consider helping me finish the volume two "Best Livestock For Your Reef Aquarium"... the Fishes. Bob Fenner

Re: Good day - document/web page question Hi Mr. Fenner, Sorry to bother you again, but after doing some more searches for your name and this document, I actually found it. It can be found at: http://www.execpc.com/~jkos/amda/ecolist/ecolist2.html For some reason, the document that I was reading did not have the rest of the url. I found it in another document you provided. Thank you, have a good day. -ScottF >> Ah good. Will update. Bob Fenner

Adding tank mates. Hi Bob, I want to say thanks for all the wonderful advice that you have given me through your book and your column on setting up and cycling my 46 gal. tank. I added my first fish and coral yesterday 12/13. I added an algae goby and a yellow daisy polyp. They both seem very happy. I had never seen a coral close and open. The pet store I drove to lied about their stock, so I didn't add my clean up crew. I want to add 25 Astrea snails,5 Turbos, 15 red leg crabs today. Can I also add another fish today? I want to put in a royal Gramma, or a couple of small Clark clowns. Any advice is always appreciated. Thanks, Rob O. >> Hmm, adding another fish should be okay... Don't know what more "advice" I can offer with the above information. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Re: Adding tank mates. Hi Bob, I have read that you should add at the rate fish one every 2 weeks, so you do not over load your system. What affect do crustaceans and invertebrates have on the bioload? How often and how many corals can I add at one time? >> Actually, adding livestock in a few "waves" of a few organisms in batches is a safer, accepted approach... divided into groups by such factors as temperament, nutrition, acclimation to new environments... and by metabolic load effects.... depending on size of the system, filtration... a new coral (size? type?) per thirty, fifty gallons...  Bob Fenner

Some Questions Once again I seek knowledge of the great wise one... <Ha! Can we settle on wisenheimer?> I will start by giving a brief synopsis <Hmm, now you're twitching> of my tank again, as I am sure that  you receive a great amount of e-mail and are not going to remember what  everyone has written to you about. I have a 125 gallon tank with an  undergravel filter powered by four powerheads, an outside power filter with  bio wheels, and a large (30 inch) venturi downdraft protein skimmer. I am  still in the process of cycling my tank with 90 pounds of live rock and 3  damsels (1 three-stripe, 1 yellow-tail blue, and 1 domino), but still need  to know something things so that when the process is complete I know where  to go. So far the cycling process as gone pretty smoothly as the ammonia levels  didn't raise above 1 ppm and have dropped to almost nothing in a matter of a  few days (I am guessing because of the live rock) <Yep, likely>. The three-stripe damsel  is VERY aggressive, while the domino is fairly aggressive, and the  yellow-tail seems quite passive. I know that this species (damsels) is  known to be aggressive, and that is why I am worried since I want to keep a  semi-reef aquarium. When I say semi-reef I mean that I want to keep fish  and invertebrates, but no corals <I understand>. I might want to add a anemone at a later  time. Since damsels are aggressive, might I want to remove them when the  cycling process is complete or is the tank big enough to the point where it  won't matter as much? The only reason I put them in there is because they  are said to be one of the hardiest fish for cycling. I wouldn't mind  bringing them back to the store if it meant saving the lives of some shrimp  and starfish. <Not necessarily... depends on what else you intend to keep... The Domino will become the number one "bad boy"... and if there is an opportunity to remove it and the other Dascyllus (striped)... I would> Another thing I was curious about was a few species I can't seem to find  enough information on. The first is the coral cat (Plotosus lineatus). All  I have found is that they are not scavengers and are best kept in groups. I  have seen a fairly large group of them in a tank at a local store and they  seemed quite entertaining, yet quite tiny. First, how big do they get?  Also, are they safe for mixing with invertebrates? What is the minimum  number one should have? And last, what do they prefer to eat? <Take a long look at the article on Marine Catfishes stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com for much more on this species. Get bigger, very venomous, easily fed... eat most everything, anyone they can get in their mouths...> The next species was the flounder. I haven't really seen much on them or of  them (probably because they are so good at camouflage). Once again, is this  a good fish to have in any aquarium, much less one with invertebrates? How  big do they normally get in aquariums and what do they eat? <Most species of flatfishes are too high strung, easily damaged for aquarium keeping... what's more, they're typically rapacious feeders... on fishes and invertebrates... require large, soft sand bottoms... specialty set-ups> Last, but not least, I have read some conflicting information on angel fish.  In a book that I have it says that all of them shouldn't be kept with  corals or invertebrates because they like to eat them. On the Flying Fish  web page it states that the dwarf species is generally reef safe. What's  the scoop? <Agree with Flying Fish... and have seen almost all known species kept in reef tank settings... The large species in very big tanks of course... > Well, that's all for now. Once again, I appreciate all the help that you  have given me. -Matt Lindstrom  <And I appreciate your patronage! Bob Fenner>

Marine Fish Hi Bob! Got a question for you: Here is a tentative list of what I want for my 75 gallon tank: 4 Blue Damsels (to start to cycle the tank) 1 Naso Tang 1 Clown Tang (maybe, still thinking about this one) 1 Blue Hippo Tang (Indian Ocean) 1 Foxface Rabbitfish 1 Yellow Tang 1 Coral Beauty Angelfish Then I want to have a couple starfish, shrimp and snails for cleanup of algae. List of the inverts and cleaners are: 1 Orange knobby starfish 1 Red serpent starfish 1 General Red starfish 4 Camel shrimp 2 Gold Coral Banded Shrimp 2 Hawaiian Green Shrimp 10 Astrea snails My setup of what will actually go in my aquarium will be just a few things such as dried white (tabletop) coral, purple striped barnacles, and a few shells. I was told by my local petstore to keep it fairly simple. Please advise of any fish listed that will be difficult for compatibility or are not hardy or prone to certain types of diseases. Also, with this type of fish-only tank, would it be better off for me to get a 20" US Aquariums Protein Skimmer ($118.00), or could I do just fine with something not as expensive, such as a Skilter or Lee's brand skimmer on the tank? I presently have a Aqua Mill 2000 Filter for up to 90 gals. Thanks a lot!! I really appreciate it!! ~Kim >> And thank you for writing... I would go with the bigger, better skimmer for sure. The other two you would not be happy with. The fish list is okay (maybe with the exception of that Regal Tang (Acanthurus lineatus), that can become very aggressive... But, this livestock plan is too much for a 75 really.... A bunch of these animals will be getting too big, too soon... and you should leave off with either the Damsels or the Regal... and one of the seastars... and IMO, the Hawaiian Shrimp with the others... And, I would add a modicum of live rock to your tank... and wait a good few months on adding all but the snails to it as invertebrates... This is still "a simple set-up"... and much better with the live rock than not. Bob Fenner

My aquarium I have a 29gal and am starting a 55gal. aquarium could I fit six fish in it if I make it an invert aquarium. These fish include a regal tang, hawk fish , an angelfish, Naso tang ,and a maroon clownfish. The pet store I attend says an emperor angelfish, regal tang, and powder blue tang should fit is this right .please reply fast .THANKS A LOT! >> Thank you for writing... As you know from being in this hobby, there are many wide and varying opinions on most all topics... and livestocking is a real hotbed of differences. IMO, a fifty five is too small for an Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)...  even if you start with a small specimen, it will be too large, and unhappy within a year in such a small living space. This four foot long system is just barely adequate for a fast moving tang like the Naso (N. lituratus) as well... And you mention the Powder Blue Surgeon (Acanthurus leucosternon)... this is really a very hard animal to keep in anything but a very well set-up, established, large reef system. Their historic survivability is terrible in marine fish tanks. Please take the time to read about these fishes, the articles on Livestock Selection, and other possible fishes to have at the website: www.wetwebmedia.com I want to help you be successful, and not suffer the preventable hardships of livestock losses. You are on the right path by asking about, planning your assortment before purchasing. Bob Fenner Reef transition I have a 55-gal that has been set up for many years and stocked with various fish, the last two left being a large panther grouper and snowflake eel. I'm ready for a change, and want to get back into a reef setup. I've done regular water changes about every 6 weeks, but I haven't checked the water quality the last few years because I've never had a problem with the fish I kept, so I assume its fine.  <I wouldn't... not with the heavy eaters/defecators you have in there now... I would trade them in... and tear the tank down, clean it up and restart it... > Tank has a built-in wet/dry, and we added a Magnum. After I remove the fish, how long should I wait before introducing live rock?  <If it were me, I'd clean it out as stated above... after that, wait about a week before putting in the live rock... and a month after that for the rock to cure/re-cure> Do I need to add any water conditioners to prepare for rock and invertebrates?  <No... just wait the week with the newly made-up seawater... > After my rock is added, how long must I wait to add starfish, anemones, shrimp,  crabs, etc....? <Phase into such animals in monthly groupings... the first stage should comprise the cleaner-upper type animals... you will notice, "copious" amounts of algae growing on your rock, et al. at that first month interval...> And, how many can I add at one time?  <How many... a couple of ounces, let's say... a month... what would that be? Twenty hermits and snails... or one or two small fishes... or one medium (3-4") fish...> I've been checking out your web site, and I'm getting anxious to place my order, but I want to make sure I'm going about this transition correctly. Thanks, Julie F >> I understand. You seem to be well on your way. Bob Fenner

Figuring out my next fish for my 125 FO Tank Hi Bob,         I have a 125 FO (UV, Wetdry) tank and am currently in the process of stocking. My stock currently consists of a. Blue jaw Trigger (small) b. Yellow Eye Tang (Kole Tang) c. Flame Angel (Out of QT in 4 days, doing well) d. Fox Face (Out of QT in 4 days doing well) I am trying to come up with a long range stocking schedule. Tank has been going for 4 months and doing great. Here is a list of fish I am considering in order of purchase. Please comment and advise against or for if possible e. Want Purple Tang and Desjardin Tang at same time in QT <Might fight between, but probably not... worth a try... start them small... 3" max.> f. Any Butterflies? (Kind of like them) or leave them alone? <MANY possibilities... see the survey articles on the family, genera, species at www.wetwebmedia.com> g. Thinking of finishing tank of with medium sized angel like an Asfur??? Suggestions? <An excellent choice, though the animal will be getting too big for your system in about a year> I have read everything you have written in response to peoples inquiries and would appreciate your advice. The more I read on fish the more confused I become. >> <Then keep reading... you're likely right on the precipice of understanding... think deeply about this... and do limit the 125 to no more than six of these "medium" size fishes total... Bob Fenner>

Setting up an 55 gal. aquarium Hi , my name is Marcus. I want to know what I need to set up an successful 55 gal. marine aquarium. And will an Emperor angelfish get along with a powder blue tang, Naso tang , palette or'' RHINO '' tang and an coral beauty in a 55 gal. reef or all fish aquarium? Please reply as soon as possible thank you. >> Yikes, where to start... a fifty five is really too small for all these fishes... reef or fish-only... and an Emperor and Naso by themselves will get too big for such a system... And the Powder Blue Surgeon... not an easy species to keep. Do you have much background with marine systems? I would start with some more-hardy species of fishes... Maybe take a look at a standard reference work or two in the field, and/or the pieces stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com for some ideas on how to go about "Livestock Selection" and many possibilities on what's available, most appropriate for captive care. Bob Fenner Other pet stores had approved this list, and were probably hoping I'd come back to replace the die off!! Thank you for being honest about this. >> And thank you for your intelligent, caring involvement in this forum and hobby. Bob Fenner Mixing Hi Bob, My question is that I am getting ready to set up a 55 gallon marine tank. Its going to be half "reef tank" and half "fish tank". I'm going to have live rock and sand in my tank to support my Mandarin Dragonettes, but still have enough room for a few fish to move around. What kind of equipment do I really need in order to keep everything running and alive. I've been given several different opinions on the different types of equipment, and need to find the best option for a limited budget. <The differing opinions may well be due to the fact that there are several ways you can/could go in filtering this sort of set-up... For me, I'd probably install a "Berlin" type system in a sump under or next to the 55... with separate lighting, and some Caulerpa macro-algae in it... and have a hang on power filter, and/or canister over the side for back-up and help with mechanical filtration... and a couple of powerheads...> Also, here is a list of fish/inverts that I have been looking into. Please give me your opinion on them as to compatibility or any special needs, since I am a beginner. 4 Blue Damsels 2 Sea stars (sand stirrers) 1 green brittle <Not this animal, it will start with eating your dragonettes... then...>, 1orange knobby 1 Foxface Rabbitfish 1pair of Mandarin dragonettes 3 Yellow tangs <Too many for a fifty five, I'd just have one> 1 Blue ribbon eel <Nah, almost never live in captivity> 1 Clown and 1 anemone combo <Wait a good three months before trying an anemone> a couple of shrimp and hermits and snails for cleaners 1 Spanish dancer <Nope, too hard to keep, and too mobile for such a small system> 1 Nudibranch <Zip this... not a good gamble. Specialized diets, die easily, pollute water...> 1 pair of gobies (not sure what kind yet)<Only hardy species need apply> Thanks, Kim >> Take a look through the survey pieces on "Reef" and "Marine Livestock Selection" and the survey articles on families, genera and species posted at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com I hate to cool your ardor for this project... just want to help ensure your success. Bob Fenner

I currently have a 29G fish only tank with a damsel and a clown I am thinking of buying a rock beauty angel and a Naso tang. Both of these are still fairly small (the rock beauty 4" and the tang 3". I know they both grow quite large. I will be getting a much larger tank setup and running in the next couple months. My question is if these fish will be compatible in their confined temporary tank? Also if the rock beauty is difficult to keep, particularly its diet. I have heard the Naso is a fairly hardy fish and there is plenty on algae in the tank for grazing. >> I wouldn't try these fish... in this size system... at this time... And the Rock Beauty (Holacanthus tricolor) is a bad choice historically... Most die easily and mysteriously, perhaps mainly due to nutritional deficiencies (they eat a lot of sponge material in the wild... Some folks have success keeping one in a huge, well-established biotopic (tropical west Atlantic) set-ups). The Naso (probably N. lituratus) may be small now, but really does very poorly psychologically in small systems... rather than a 30" long tank, the smallest I would start one in is a "fifty five" at 48" in length... Wait on this species till you have that much larger tank. Bob Fenner, who says information on better suited angelfish species can be found in articles and book sections stored at www.wetwebmedia.com

My New Tank and Favorite Hobby Hello. I'm thrilled to have found your column and have ordered The Conscientious Marine Aquarius!!! In the meantime, would you give me a bit of advice? I've had my new 55 gal tank up for 30 days (I've intended it as a partial reef tank), all levels are great (cycling-wise), I have a Seaclone protein skimmer (which I now know won't really do it after reading your other responses) 30 lbs. of happy cured live rock, 3 damsels that I haven't seen really fight with each other - good sign, had a few snails and hermits fix up my little algae problem, and I think I'm ready to build it up. My lightning's all set up to handle a few live corals, too. Where do I start? As soon as I think I've decided on my first fish to add, I read somewhere what it doesn't do well with or how it will eat another fish I like, and I just can't figure out where to start!!!! Any fun suggestions? Different people give me different advice, and I've read that you sometimes advocate giving back the damsels in favor of less territorial fish. Seeing as I am a beginner (though have gotten quite good at my little chemical/water tests everyday) I'd rather follow directions right now than reinvent the wheel!!! A Tang? A Coral? I was all excited about triggers 'till I looked at their diets!!!! Help? Thanks so much !!!! >>And thank you! for being part of this forum, and exciting hobby. My general approach to livestocking plans is to 1) either settle upon a "must have" species and build the assortment around it, 2) put together a biotopic presentation: compatible organisms that come from the same geographic range, and similar micro-habitat... 3) a list of the most easygoing (though no marines are absolutely peaceful) animals... Towards all these approaches, do consider reading as much as you have time for... and while waiting for that fabulous tome, look through the selection articles and systematic treatments stored at www.wetwebmedia.com, FFExpress.com... and elsewhere!  Bob Fenner

You Wouldn't Believe << Bob, Well, I am still slowly setting up my 75 gallon reef tank. By the time I  collect all the necessary stuff (money in particular), it will be up in about  3 weeks. I work in sales for a home warranty company dealing with real estate agents.  I cover the states of Delaware and southern New Jersey. I stopped by a fish  store in a little town north of Wilmington, DE today. When I arrived at the  store I got to talking with the owner. He asked me if I wanted to see  something different. He lead me to a back room where there was 180 gallon  tank. What amazed me was that it was a tank with both fresh and saltwater  fish swimming very happily in the same tank! The tank included some Percula  Clowns, Niger Trigger, Swordtails, Foxface, Cichlids and some Tetras! The  owner even had two other tanks (smaller scale) setup the same way. All the  fish looked very healthy! On each tank there was only a filter. No skimmer. No sump. All three tanks  were basically fish only. Each tank did have some fragments of old live rock  or coral skeletons. He showed me a Patent certificate that was awarded to him (on January 25,  2000) for the Acclimation of Saltwater fish with Freshwater fish. I just wanted to pass this on to you to see if you have ever heard of such a  thing. Now I am not one to race towards this type of tank, but I have to  admit that it was pretty neat. Talk to you soon. Bob Wrigley >> Have seen this sort of menagerie... can you imagine mixing these different animals with their varying temperaments? How long before the trigger eats those swords and tetras? Most familiar with the two cycles of the "Sucrose" (raising spg., not ionic content) products.... Magic Ocean... and Wonder Water (think those were the names...)... taste the water... pretty sweet? A practical, long term situation (mixing marines and fresh)? I think not. Bob Fenner, off to Guinness (the beer, not the sideshows)

Lookdown Fish Dear Bob, I'm thinking about getting a school of small Lookdown Fish for my 45 Gallon. Is this a good idea and if so can I mix with small Triggers and Puffers? Thanks, Nick >> Actually... though Lookdowns have improved greatly on initial quality, collected and shipped from the wild... I wouldn't encourage you to keep them in such a small system... They'd be unhappy, and not do well within a few months.  And, if you did have a large enough tank (100 gallons plus) to keep this fish, they're really not compatible with triggers or most puffers... who would greatly outcompete the Lookdowns for space and food. Bob Fenner

Marine startup Bob- I recently setup a 100 gallon marine aquarium. I've got about eight small  damsels at this time while the tank cycles. I'm probably two weeks away from  adding additional fish.  I'm trying to decide whether to go with more aggressive fish such as  triggers, puffers, maybe a small grouper, etc., or to stay with a nice  community setup with clowns, damsels, wrasses, etc. As somewhat of a novice to marine aquaria, I'm interested in moving slowly  and obtaining fish that are not only hardy but will eat primarily frozen  foods. Which route would you recommend to get started? And depending on your  recommendation, can you suggest a collection of fish that I could order from  you... Thanks, Jonathan >> Thank you so much for writing... and I am very interested in your success... And you are right to want to arrange your livestocking by level of aggression... Though you will find that all marines are tough/mean to a degree (ounce for part of ounce the damsels are amongst the tops!).  If it were me, I'd make a few lists of "by looks, behavior..." types of life you might want to keep if the sky was the limit... and then go back and select a/few key species as "must haves"... and build the rest of the assortment around it/them... There are folks who would say otherwise: "No, just go with the hardiest varieties", "Keep just "nicer" fishes together"... "The meanest fishes are the toughest and most fun to watch"... and all points of view are valid... To me, the anticipation of such issues as "what type of fish to get" are really great parts of the hobby... and there are no cookbook formulas for them... Just self discovery, learning and the great search for what you can find. Bob Fenner, who's way too philosophical this morn

Live rock Hi... MY name is Heather Lerner and I just started a saltwater aquarium. It is a  55 gal. and currently fish only, I have 3 fish all damsel fish, one is a  three stripe, 2nd is a domino damsel, and 3rd is a blue with a yellow tail.  All are about 1in. long. The tank i have the had the fish for 10 days and  they seem to be doing well. I checked the ammonia level and ti was between  .25 and .50 with no nitrites. I would like to know if i need a Protein  Skimmer? I would also like to know more about live rock? When do you think i  would be able to add more fish to my tank. Thank- you for your time Heather Lerner age 15 please write back with the answers >> In my opinion, yes to the protein skimmer. This is a very worthwhile tool for keeping your marine aquarium water clean, and your fishes healthy. I would definitely use one if this were my tank. I am similarly in favor of using at least some (a few pounds) of live rock... this will not only improve your water quality, but provide  your fishes with habitat, and something to eat during the day. You can safely add more fishes when your system becomes better established... as measured by the ammonia and nitrite. Take care to not feed the damsels very much at any one time as this boosts these two... And you will find that in a few weeks the ammonia goes to 0 ppm, with nitrites rising and then falling to negligible as well. At this time you can add more livestock...  Bob Fenner, who thanks you for writing.

Fish Compatibility Hi Bob, I am currently cycling a 75 gallon tank with damsels and when ready I would like to know if the following fish will be compatible: Percula Clown, Blue Hippo Tang,, Clown Triggerfish, Dog faced Puffer, Volitans Lion, Copperband Butterfly and Arusetta Asfur Angel along with some hermit crabs and astro snails. In what order would you introduce these fish if compatible? Thanks. Howard Cushnir Jacksonville, Florida >> Wow, quite a mix... and going to be a bit crowded in a while... Well actually, all of these animals might get along if you were lucky... and were able to pick them out and introduce them at ideal sizes... But in all frankness, I would go "back to the drawing board" with this list... and decide either on a low/medium/high likelihood of aggression grouping... or build your livestock list around a certain "must have" pick... Let me be more specific with your choices... The Trigger and Puffer are too rambunctious for most of the other livestock choices. They'll eat the hermits and snails for instance... almost immediately.... many of the others for dinner, later. The Copperband is actually a challenging species... and I would hold off on trying one till you're ready for a full blown reef. I could (must stop myself) go on, but the point is made and some suggestions offered for how to proceed at this point... Keep studying and making those lists! Bob Fenner

Thank you for the advice I know you must be very busy, but if you could just help me out with one more thing it would be a great help. From reading about morays on wetwebmedia.com it seems that Lysmata cleaner shrimp would be okay with a snowflake eel, which is good because I want to avoid disease outbreaks as best as I can, but what I am really hoping for is to set up a biotype tank with the snowflake eel and I am unsure of which fish it coexists naturally with. I have had trouble finding information on marine biotype aquariums on the internet and I would really appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction with some sites or books on biotype aquariums. Sorry to throw more questions at you, I really appreciate the help you've given me and think what you do is great. Thanks again. Thank you for your thank you. Yes, I can help you: have just self-published a book on such a topic (A Fishwatcher's Guide to the Tropical Marine Aquarium Fishes of the World... with sections on the Carib., Trop. E. Pacific, Hawai'i, the Red Sea) and had to do a bunch of searching as you might guess to figure out who was from where (in addition to having been to these places and taking pix myself). One of the more comprehensive works, though riddled with errors and oversimplifications, is the Marine (Reference) Atlas by Hunziker, Axelrod, and Burgess (by TFH). They have a nice (borrowed) scheme of listing the fishes shown by geog. region. Scott Michael's still working on masterful tomes as well that will provide this info. Let's say though, that you've set upon a given region where the Snowflake is found. For sake of argument the Hawaiian islands are host to the puhi (eel), Echidna nebulosa... you could easily get a work on Hawaii's fishes. There are a couple of recent dandy's by John Hoover and John Randall... and pick and choose through what t they list. Better still, come on out and dive (I'm in Maui right now!) and see what the environment looks like, draw, take pictures and have fun trying to replicate part of it in a captive marine environment. Bob Fenner

Clean Up Crew Hello again Mr. Fenner, I just wanted to tell you thank you very much for the advice you gave me  on my last question and thanks for writing your daily column of Q and A  (I read it every day). My tank is established and currently inhabited by 7 assorted damselfish.  Soon I will be trading in all damsels to my local pet store in exchange  for a 2" Black Striped Lionfish. I will also be ordering a 2" Clown  Trigger, 2" Emperor Angel fish and a 2" Miniatus grouper, all from flying  fish express. It is my hope to place them all in my 55 gallon tank on the  same day so they are all new at the same time and have no territory  disputes. Do you think this is a good idea?  Also, I noticed on special this week is a lawnmower blenny. This is of  interest to me because the algae blooms are really starting to take hold  in my tank. Would this fish be ok to put in now and leave in after I add  my new fish when I order them. Will the fish that I want to order leave  it alone? Or, would it be better to order certain items from your clean up crew? The red slime algae is my biggest problem so that is what I want  to target. Would Red Leg hermits eat Red Slime algae and be left alone  by the more aggressive fish? Should I add an abalone too?  Any and all information you can provide will be greatly appreciated as  always. I want my fish to have little shock and adjustment problems as  possible so I trying to get all of my problems and questions out of the  way now!! Thanks again! Clint Sires  >> Call me Bob, Clint (it's my name after all, unless I'm in trouble). Your stocking plan (the four initially tiny fishes) sounds fine, and I would not be overly concerned if the animals were a little bigger or different sizes to start... and I would place the lawnmower blenny ASAP, chances are he'll do fine with the others. I would hold off on the other "clean up crew" type critters ffexpress sells for right now... snails and hermit crabs are better put in real well-established systems, and I'd exempt the abalone entirely. These ancient mollusks are actually kind of hard to keep, and should only be tried in very well-established systems with bunches of macro algae for the Ab to chew on. Also, in all likelihood the Clown Trigger will munch the Ab, the hermits and snails, in that order. Bob Fenner

Fish mix Bob, I have (2) questions: 1. After treating a tank with Copper for a period of (2) weeks at 0.15 level, the live rocks could be destroyed. Do I need to replace the rocks or just leave them there and it will revive itself ? I would just leave the old, probably partially wiped out live rock in place. Part of it will grow back, especially if you add some new live rock material to the system. 2. I have a 105 Gal tank and am planning to have the following fishes: Med = 3=4", Large = 5-6"  Imperator Changing Angel - Medium size Passer Juvenile Angel - Medium Flag Fin Angel - Medium Powder Blue Tang - Large Atlantic Blue Juvenile Tang - Medium Gold Rim Tang - Large Sohal Tang - Large Blonde Naso Tang - Large Are these fishes compatible in the tank ? Will it be too crowded ? Thanks, jt >> Well, I'd probably skip the Flag Fin, Powder Blue and Gold Rim Surgeons as all being too touchy. They will all likely be dead within two months... in this order, Powder Blue, Flag Fin and Gold Rim (I should probably be applying my strong intuition skills to betting on horse racing, but I so hate to see fishes die unnecessarily and have future friends drop out of our hobby). The remaining fishes are about as compatible as such mixes can be. The Imperator will chase whatever other angels you place around. Ditto with the Sohal tang and other surgeons... But they shouldn't do any real damage unless one is/gets sick. Bob Fenner Marine Fish Hi Bob, Thanks for your quick response! I guess I have a follow up question regarding the compatibility of the current inhabitants of my tank with the cleaner shrimp and gobies you've mentioned (which you were probably expecting). Currently, the following animals call my tank home: 1 7-8" Sohal Tang 1 6-7" Naso Tang 1 3" Kole Tang 1 4-5" Purple Tang 1 4-5" Bluehead Wrasse 1 5" Juvenile Imperator Angel 2 Lawnmower blennies 1 Scooter Blenny 1 3" Sergeant Major (wow, they grow fast!) Two medium-large hermit crabs One arrow crab Plus about 15 assorted small damsels. (Actually, the crabs will go back in once I get the copper out) The aquarium only contains about 10 pounds of live rock now, but I'll be putting in another 50 when I get the copper out next week. I'd also like to add a niger trigger at some point, but I've been leaning away from it upon learning more about trigger aggression. Anything you can tell me about how these guys will get along with the shrimps and gobies you've mentioned would be much appreciated. I guess I'll also take this opportunity to ask you how close you think my tank is to it's maximum bioload. Thanks again, Randi Well, I'd give you good odds that a couple of Lysmata Shrimp would make it... do keep your eye on that Arrow Crab, with age/growth he/it will become a problem. And you're tanks about half full/empty stock wise (if it's the same 150 gallon as we've been discussing). But, better too empty than too full as you know. And I would skip on triggers for this set-up en toto. I have a feeling you're soon to trend reef-wise. Bob Fenner I would like to know what you think of my fish selection They will be going in a 125g FO. 2 clown fish, flame angel, coral beauty, I-color angel, Foxface, Naso tang, pd. blue tang, niger trigger. If I am not pushing my luck I would also very much like a lionfish, Wimplefish and an imperator angel. What do you think and what order would you add these. By the way I just ordered your book and very excited to read it. Thanks for the help. Michelle Looks like a nice grouping... and agree with your concern about who goes in first. The first list is about in the right order of introduction. Make sure the Niger trigger starts small (2-3"). A small lionfish might go, the Wimplefish (aka Poor Man's Moorish Idol, Heniochus, Bannerfish) will always go, and a smaller (to start) Imperator would be a very nice "king" specimen for your 125. I'd place these fishes in about thirds, one month apart... Good luck. Bob Fenner

I hope you will have time to answer this question. I have a 90 fish only tank with a protein skimmer and UV sterilizer. Currently, I have a clown trigger, lionfish, Imperator angel, green bird wrasse and a fire clown. Do you think this is tank is overloaded? If not, how many more fish do you think I can have in this tank. I would like to add a purple tang as my last fish. I do about a 20-25% water change every week to 10 days and I also supplement the biological filter regularly with a biological supplement. Any help you can offer would be appreciated. Sincerely, Heather Mann >> Not yet... but the Trigger, Lion and Angel will all be getting much larger over time... and be about all you can/should keep in such a volume and shape system. You could try the Purple Tang, and use it as a "jumping off" point for your next personal pet-fish evolution: a reef system! I foresee another aquarium in your near future. If all is going well with your maintenance regimen, I say keep it up. Bob Fenner

Question: I have been stocking a 125 gallon tank for the past several months and would like to know if you have any suggestions when I should stop. I would like to put a small blue tang and possibly some more dwarf angels in the tank. I would appreciate any input you may have regarding my system. Thank you in advance. The tank has:

  • about 70 pounds of live rock
  • 30 scarlet hermit crabs
  • 3 sally lightfoot crabs
  • 15 snails
  • 1 knobby black cucumber
  • 1 serpent star
  • arrow crab
  • coral banded shrimp
  • skunk cleaner shrimp
  • medium Naso tang
  • juvenile imperator angel
  • lemon peel angel
  • flame angel
  • two skink clowns (in carpet anemone)
  • two percula clowns
  • red lip blenny
  • Salarias blenny (a.k.a. algae eater)
  • small coral hog fish
  • fairy wrasse
  • longnose hawk fish
  • small blue damsel

Filtration includes wet dry filter, protein skimmer, HOT magnum filled with charcoal. I also have powerheads in the tank to increase flow. Thanks again, Rob Bob's Answer: Hey Rob, thanks for the thorough input. Stop! You're past topped off with the nice assortment you list above, for a few reasons. The most obvious is the fact that some of your fishes will grow into whatever rule of thumb might be considered reasonable for "inches per gallon" measure. But the reality is that especially the angels will territorially split up (have already) the 125 as being theirs. I would stop here with what you've got, and start saving for that 180, 240, custom giant system you'll build next!

Question: Hi Bob, my name is Jesse and I have a 65 gallon reef with mostly SPS corals in it. It has a few soft (corals) like Clavularia and star polyps just to name a few. My question is, how do you remove Clavularia from the rocks without damaging the whole colony. I am trying to get Clavularia and xenia to cover my over flow box (one on one side and one on the other). The only problem is that it is growing all over the rocks too and I want to keep it away from my SPS. I was told that it would peel right off the rocks but my first attempt was not good. I would appreciate any info you can give me. Thank you. Jesse Bob's Answer: Hey Jesse, my friends and I have had the most success with actually removing and replacing new LR material after sharp cutting of the colonies stolons with a sharp razor. Try not to cut any more than a few sections per day, waiting to see how the rest are doing the next day, and judging whether to cut through more. Is this clear?

Question: Hi Bob: I have a 55 gal tank and have 50 lbs. of rocks, I would like to know how many fish I can keep in my tank? Bob's Answer: As a general rule about twenty inches (half an inch or so per real gallon of water), but of course contingent on the metabolic and behavioral requirements and mix of given species. For instance, one twenty inch bass of any sort would be too much, as would twenty one inch three spot damsels (Dascyllus trimaculatus)... but you catch my drift.

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