Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Marine Livestocking 18

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 13, FAQs 14, FAQs 15, FAQs 16, FAQs 17, FAQs 19, FAQs 20, FAQs 21, FAQ 22, FAQs 23, FAQs 24, FAQs 25, FAQs 26, FAQs 27, FAQs 28, FAQs 29, FAQs 30, FOWLR Livestocking, Small System Stocking, Reef LivestockingAngelfish Selection, Triggerfish Selection

You too can keep LPS like Euphyllia glabrescens with patience, knowledge, application. 

Hawaiian dragon moray compatibility  4/29/06 Hey Bob, <Am floating>             Wondering how you felt about putting a Hawaiian dragon moray about 14" in a 140 gal with a 6-7" emperor, 5-6" majestic, 8" Volitans, 16" snowflake moray, 5-6" clown trigger, 4" dogface puffer, 4-5" BlueLine trigger, and a 4-5" polleni grouper in a 140 gal? Last of course. <A very poor mix. Troubles in feeding, big troubles in compatibility, getting worse. Bob Fenner> Jonathan C. Curry

Stocking Levels  4/27/06 Good afternoon... <And to you, Dave> I'm in the process of setting up a 165 gallon tank (5.5' long, 2' x 2').  I'm going to be using about a 50 gallon sump with a powerful protein skimmer.  I'll ensure to include lots of rockwork for caves, etc... I'm interested in a handful of medium - large fish.  My 'must-have' fish will be a Zebra Moray Eel.  With my eel, am I ok introducing a small panther grouper, a dwarf lion, and an emperor angel? I realize the Grouper will get quite large... up to 2ft; however, I have read many articles through different organizations and it seems unlikely that captive Panther Grouper's exceed 18".  Would I be overstocked with the list above?? Or would I have room for perhaps a tang or a wrasse? <With the system you mention I believe you're OK in adding a tang or a wrasse.  James (Salty Dog)> Dave

Opinions (I have a plenty!) - 06/25/05 Hey guys. <<Howdy>> Just wanted a professional opinion on my reef tank, what I'm doing wrong, right, or not doing.  my tank setup is as follows: 55 gallon, penguin biowheel200 filter, 60 gallon skimmer, under gravel filter, 60 lbs. live sand, 25 lbs. live rock, 260 watt lunar AquaLight, 56 watt t5, 40 watt fluorescent, of these 93 watts are actinic. <<Hate to see under gravel filters used in marine systems, especially reef systems.  It will pull and hold detritus in your substrate causing water quality issues...best to remove this.>> all water quality tests are good. <<Won't stay that way with the UG filter.>> livestock is as follows: 2 feather dusters, 4 turbo snails, 5 blue legged hermit crabs, brittle star, flame scallop, 4 damsels, yellow tang, tomato clown, snowflake eel, green open brain (on sand), elegance (in between live rock), colt (on live rock), moonstone (on live rock). <<Some problems here as well...the tank is too small for the yellow tang and the snowflake, even on their own...the flame scallop is doomed to starvation...the elegance coral is another questionable acquisition, and again likely doomed as well.>> I add distilled water for evaporation, calcium, strontium, trace elements, iodine, live phytoplankton, ZooPlex, feed fish flakes, feed coral scallops and shrimp. <<Do buffer your top-off water...only add elements you are testing for...I don't really see anything you need the phyto for, and the Zooplex is probably doing more harm than good.>> 10% water change a week. <<Excellent...this will likely provide all the calcium/trace elements you need.>> so just wanted to know how I'm doing, please be brutal, I want the best for my little bit of the ocean. <<Have been straightforward my friend <G>.  Please do research our FAQs re filter systems and tank setup, and do research your livestock before purchasing.>> thanks <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Over Stocked? Hello, <Hello> I have a 33 gallon with a Fluval 404 and an AquaClear 300 for filtration, a powerhead provides additional flow. I actually have two questions, the first one is regarding aeration. I have been told that since I have the AquaClear disturbing the surface of the water additional aeration is not needed, but how effective can the AquaClear be since it doesn't actually make any air bubbles, it just creates turbulence on the surface. <I would Highly recommend you invest into a protein skimmer. This will help with aeration and remove waste at the same time. This is a piece of equipment that should be considered a must. There are a lot of good small skimmers out there that are very effective.  (CPR BakPak or AquaC remora) this investment will same you time and money in the future.> My next question is fish load, the tank contains a 3" Picasso trigger, a 4" powder brown tang, a 1" clownfish and three 1" blue damsels with about 20 lbs of live rock. This tank will be their home for 6 months at which time they will be going into a 65 gallon. Am I a disaster waiting to happen? <make sure you test your water biweekly, to make sure as these fish grow that all levels are staying consistent.  If levels begin to change do water changes or add a protein skimmer to help with the bio load. Good Luck MikeH>

Stocking 09/10/03 Dear Crew: <Hi Steve> Thanks again for your ongoing, invaluable service to this hobby in general and to me personally. I am in the process of building back up the stock of my 80G eventual reef tank with reef-safe fishes now that I have moved some of the fish into my new 180G FOWLR. Current stock is a Yellow Tang and an Ocellaris Clown. I have in QT a very small Yellowtail Blue Damsel (Chrysiptera parasema) and a Solar Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus solorensis). I would like to add a couple of additional small fish. I had considered a Royal Gramma (my original succumbed to ich a few months back :(  but I seem to have cleared that up with 6 weeks of running fallow). The Royal Grammas seem suddenly hard to find at LFS here in SLC, so I am considering alternatives. I had been thinking of a Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica), but have found them to be way too timid. I have also been thinking of trying to find a pair of Orchid Dottybacks or some other Dottyback, but am fearful of  their aggressiveness. Would they be OK with the present company (no Firefish)? Any other suggestions for this set-up? Thanks, Steve Allen <Well Steve, I'm not sure about the damsel. As for Dottybacks, I've kept pairs myself, I've also had 2 of them go at it and wind up with only 1 survivor. If you do try the Dottybacks, I'd say stick with the orchids, and get the smallest two you can find. As for other fish, perhaps a small school or Chromis, or some flasher wrasses. If you go with the Dottybacks, I'd skip the Firefish, the shape and coloring are similar enough to cause problems. Have you talked to your LFSs about the Grammas? Some species of Dartfish can be kept in groups, as well as the golden wrasse, aka yellow coris. Lots of choices out there. Have fun making yours, PF>

Soon to be stocking 09/09/03 <Hi Bill, PF with you today> Hello crew. I think Scott F has answered my previous questions on tank setup but whoever has good advice for me this time I thank you in advance. I have set up my 90 Gallon tank with an internal overflow and  30 gallon sump. Added about 40 pounds of not so live rock at first, then 2 days ago added another 30 Pounds of live rock with lots of growth on it. I have yet to see the ammonia spike. SG is at 1.025, Temp stays at 79F, PH is 8.2 - 8.4. No readable nitrites or nitrates yet. Ammonia is at .5.  <Well, the tank is just starting, this takes time, as has been said before, nothing good happens fast in a reef tank (a tip o' the hat to Bob who told me this one a long time ago)> The tank has been running for just over a week now.  I will also be adding a DSB to it this weekend.  My first question is when should my skimmer begin producing the dark skimmate a few times a week that I have read about? So far I don't get much at all. and sometimes I get clear colored skimmate. <See above about good things and time.> Now on with stocking questions. Once cycling is finished and my cleanup crew is in, <I would put fish in first, then the clean up crew. The clean up crew needs food to eat too, remember. Also remember, you don't need a huge crew. To often far to many animals are offered in packages, and you'll clean up your algae, only to have them die. Better to have a small problem, and a stable sized crew than see-saw back and forth> the fish I would like to have are a Yellow tang, Hippo Tang, and 2 clowns (ocellaris Probably) and not all at once of course. :-). <I'd say no on the hippo, they need a bigger tank.> I would also like to add some schooling fish. Possibly Green Chromis or Purple Firefish? <Go with the Chromis, Firefish generally are solitary, or in mated pairs. The groups you see in LFSs aren't natural.> How many could I do and which would work better with the mentioned livestock? Or could I possibly do a small school of both? What order would you recommend adding these fish? Would my tank be pretty much full on bioload at this point? Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks A bunch. Bill <I'd say Chromis first, then the Firefish, the clowns, and then the tang. Stock least aggressive to more aggressive. Hope that helps, PF>

RE: clarkii clowns 0/09/03 Dear PF, <Hello again Steve> Thanks for the message. I only have 1 tank, so I separated the clowns (smaller fish could pass through, but not the tangs, angel or clowns) for a week, moved everything around and took out the partition 5 days ago. After a few tense house, things have settled down. A few skirmishes, but everyone intact. The Angel stays on one side of the tank, but seems content and eating well. So thanks for the advice! My next question is: Do you think my aquarium is "fully stocked" or can I add a few more fish. I'm looking at a Foxface, Copper Banded Butterfly, and/or some kind of trigger fish. Here are the stats: 80 gallon tank, fish only. 3 yellow tanks (~3.5 inches long <I assume you mean tangs>), 2 Clarkii clowns (3" & 2.5"), 4 gobies (4"), 4 blue damsels (1.5"), 1 brown bird wrasse (5"), 1 Flame Angel (3.5) inches. Any suggestions, warning, etc. would be appreciated! Thanks, Steve <Well Steve, I'd pull out 2 of those tangs. Groups aren't recommended, unless you have a big tank, like a 150 gallons+ big, and even then... Damsels are aggressive, so they're iffy. You're bird wrasse should be in a tank of about 120 gallons or so. I'd avoid the Foxface, the butterfly, and the trigger. The Foxface and the tang could fight (similar body shapes), the butterfly is an obligate corallivore, and has a poor survival record, and the trigger is likely to eat the rest. Have you looked at flasher wrasses, or perhaps a twin spot hogfish? Maybe orchid Dottybacks (mellow for Dottybacks, I've owned breeding pairs before). Then again, I'm biased towards small, colorful, peaceful and active, and those are just my preferred choices. Hope that helps, PF>

Adding New Fishes... Slowly! Hi Scott, how are you doing, hope you are doing great. <I am, thanks! Hope all is well with you!> A few weeks ago I wrote you about my tragedy, with my pump failure, now I am trying to bounce back from it, As I mentioned I lost my clown trigger and my harlequin Tuskfish. <Yuck> The only ones alive are a miniatus grouper which was in my 140gal office tank, and my puffer that didn't die at home in my 90 gal. <Glad to hear that...> So I went to the fish store the other day and saw these incredible clown trigger approx 3" (green tail, orange cigar mouth, excellent conditions, and I purchase it, along with a zebra moray eel, both beautiful specimens, and I bring them to the office tank (140gal) <Wow! That's two pretty heavy eaters in a modest-sized tank...Keep up the heavy water changes and excellent husbandry techniques for this pair!> So now I have in my office 1- clown trigger (3") 2- miniatus grouper (4") 3- zebra moray eel (1') 4- striped puffer (5") Its a very large tank so I want to put 3 more fish in the tank 1- harlequin Tuskfish 2- Lion fish (Volitans lion) 3- Angelfish <Uhh-Ohh...This is the part where 'ol Scott becomes the bad guy...LOL. PLEASE don't add any of these fishes to this tank...Maybe a couple of smaller, tough fishes. But do think of the "end game" here- the ultimate size of the fishes that you're keeping...It's better for you- it's infinitely better for your fishes!> 1st question. Angelfish. I have heard that it's almost impossible to keep angelfish, but I promise my wife that we would get one ( I never lost a fish before), so please tell me which of these angels, that I already make some research is the one the You suggest the most: Passer angelfish, Blue angelfish, French angelfish Emperor angelfish, Koran angel fish, Queen Angelfish Xanthurus Cream angelfish. <Well, unfortunately, all of the fishes that you mention would be too large for your tank in it's current configuration; most would simply be too large for this size aquarium, all would simply overcrowd your system, in terms of waste and metabolic products...>   Which of these angel fish do you recommend as the most hardy fish and more appropriate for a aggressive community tank.????? <Well, as mentioned above, all would be unacceptable. Perhaps a Centropyge species would be more appropriate. I'd look into a Lemonpeel or a Eibli, both of which are a bit larger Centropyge species and might be able to hold their own in a tough tank like this one...> 2nd question. About a year ago you told me about when you're making the cycle in a new tank you told me to put a fish every 3-4 week because of the bioload. <Still recommend that strategy! No sense in rushing things; this process gives your system a chance to adjust to an increasing bioload> Since my home tank had 4 large fish and now only has 5 small damselfish, does the bioload go down?? <The "bioload" is the "load" placed on the filtration system by the animals in the aquarium, so it will only "go down" if you remove animals from the tank! The system and its beneficial bacteria will adjust as you add new fishes, so that's why I recommend doing it slowly...> And you have to put a fish again one ever 3 weeks, or if it's fully cycle, and had 4 large fish, you can put 3 large fish at the same time?? <I wouldn't push it that much...Go slowly...> Because I don't want to put any fish in it to first finish my office tank, and if some fish is aggressive, put him in the other tank and introduce him last. <Again- I'd go one large fish at a time. Or a few, if they are smaller, less active (and less waste-producing) fishes> Thank you again for your advice, you guys are great. Saludos desde Tijuana. Forgive my not so good English. <It's just fine, my friend! Please feel free to write again any time! I hope my answers were of help! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Oh so many questions! Hi Bob! Rachelle from Nevada City. We met at Findig in Sacramento. (I'm the one who wants to have only captive bred livestock.) <Ah yes! Good to hear from you> I really enjoyed meeting you.  You're a genuine, nice person (not old). <Ha!> I learned so much. I've been busy gathering as much information as I can before taking on the responsibility of fishes.  The ones that we talked about are: Yellow Striped Maroon Clowns (pair) Orchid Dottybacks (pair) Bristle-Tooth Tang Banggai Cardinal (2 or 3) Mandarin <Okay> I have a 72 gallon bowfront with snails and crabs.  I have lots of live rock, around 200 pounds, give or take a little.  The live rock has supplied me with lots of Caulerpa, hence your suggestion of a Bristle-Tooth.  I also have a growing collection of LPS and soft corals from GARF. My LFS is holding 3 Cleaner Shrimp for me for 2 weeks. (Is that long enough to wait?) <Yes> Temp.77  PH-8.4  Sal 1.025  Nit-0.  I have a CPR Aquatic 4 gallon Sump with Bio-Bale (some have told me to remove the bale & some say no) <You could leave it or no. No worries in waiting, taking out later if you should so decide> and a Venturi Skimmer, Aqua Medic inline Oceanrunner 3500(900 gal. per hr.),  Aqua Logic Drop-in Chiller with a 2 stage controller, 3 Maxi-jet 1200 power heads, and a Pinpoint PH Meter will be here this week.  The tank has been set up for about 1 ? years.  I have only introduced the snails, crabs, and corals within the last 6-8weeks. <Sounds good so far> Are all of these creatures going to be able to live together? <Should> In what order should they be added to my tank? How many at a time and time between different types? <Could go in in two batches... all but the Dottybacks and clowns in first, a week or two later, them> I really need the Bristle-Tooth soon. The Caulerpa is taking over. WWM says add Bristle-Tooth last. <In most or general cases yes... You have a large tank, lots to nibble on... NOW. Can go ahead with the tang> Is this so that there will be a food supply, or does this mean I can't add anything after the Bristle-Tooth due to behavior? <Nope, no worries> Is there a particular Bristle-Tooth that you would most recommend for my situation? <All about the same function-wise. I really like the Kole/Yellow-Eye and Hawaiiensis/Chevron species for looks> You mentioned larval raised Bristle-Tooths.  Who is raising these? <Some (French) folks out of Polynesia... they collect and rear post-settled larvae. Your supplier might be able to get these through Rob Miller's "ERI" in Los Angeles> Any Particular Mandarin? <Probably the Blue> My copepods seem to have died after a 6 hour power outage.  Is this normal?   <Happens... they'll likely "come back" with time> There seem to be a few small ones now, but nothing like the huge population before the outage.  Will they reach the previous levels by themselves, or is there something I can do to help? <Just be patient> About how long do you think it will take? It's been 2 weeks already. <Perhaps a few more> On an software note, do you recommend a Palm OS program for keeping track of tank maintenance and livestock?  I have a Sony Clie that uses Palm OS 5. <Neato. I'm still a written log sort of person> Thank you for being so helpful and patient.  The more I learn, the more questions I have.  I'm glad that there is someone with answers. Rachelle <Glad to have friends, fellow hobbyists of such caliber. You're doing fine with your investigations, planning. Bob Fenner> Stocking Question: Aggressive Damsel Hi, guys...You were very, very helpful to me once before, so I thought I'd see if you could answer one more question for me: I have a 65-gallon reef tank that's been established for almost a year, and it's doing well, thanks to a Euro Reef, chiller, good lighting and high and steady calcium levels, etc.<ok>   It consists mostly of a number of soft corals, leathers, Xenia, a feather duster, etc., but I also have a few fish.  These include one royal Gramma, now almost 2" long but not aggressive, one true percula (1.5" and also not aggressive), two cleaner shrimp, snails and hermit crabs, two small Chromis (again, mild-mannered fish) and -- Finally, one fire damsel that I added five months ago when he was very small.<very aggressive species of damselfish to say the least>  But, the damsel is growing rapidly, and is now about 1.5" in length.<as anticipated>  He doesn't go after the Gramma or the percula, but he does chase the Chromis.<similar shaped and size fish, again as expected>  I would also like to add one or, at most, two more mild-mannered fish.<try a mystery wrasse (Pseudocheilinus ocellatus) or a peppermint hogfish (Bodianus sp.), they are fairly expensive but worth the price>I am worried that the damsel will get more and more aggressive as he gets larger,<agreed> and could give a very tough time to the other fish (and one or two more that I would like to add over time).<could add a lot of stress, which may lead to a parasitic infection>  What would you recommend that I do,<get a barbless hook and try to catch him, or catch him with a net. I would do the latter and do it at night while he is laying at the bottom and not adjusted to the lights being turned on...trust me this method works, this is how I catch my fish!> if anything, with the damsel?  Will he likely become more and more of a problem?<yes indeed>  Also, would the damsel likely go after Banggai cardinals,<possibly> if I add one or two of those?  Or a gentle wrasse, such as the six-line?<possibly>  Thanks so much if you have the time to respond.  Ralph Westlake Village, CA<good luck, IanB>

Big Plans For A Small World! (Pt.2) Hi Scott. <Hello, again!> You're a top bloke and no mistake! I'm looking into these little beauties this very moment, the wrasse is stunning. <Excellent! I had a feeling that you'd like it!> I'm a bit bitter on wrasses though. As much as I love watching them  'fly' I can't get over a time I was visiting an LFS some years ago, who'd just placed A LOT of stock into their tanks for sale. I witnessed two lunar(?) wrasses teaming up and beating a young percula to death, eating and scoffing all the while, I'm sure. Okay so they were only doing what they know but the way they attacked each flank simultaneously (much like the Raptors in Jurassic Park) made me pity the poor creature and stare in amazement. I called the store owner over but by the time he'd moved  10 feet to the tank it was more or less gone. <Yep- the larger ones can be nasty...No problem with the sixline, though...They're good citizens, IME> Many thanks for your time and sharing of wisdom slash experience. There's no questions here just praise and a recount of something you've  probably seen many many times (the wrasse thing). Best regards, Kendal McGuire <Thanks so much for the kind words, Kendal. I just paused to admire my own little sixline right now...Love the little guy! Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F>

-Final fish addition- Hi, my name is Ed and we have been recently given a wonderful gift: a 60  gallon reef aquarium with 20 g sump, etc. Anyways, currently we have about 60lbs of live rock (planning to add some more in the sump), an open brain coral, two pieces of star polyp coral, zoanthid polyp colony coral (two pieces), and a frog spawn coral. We have 7-8 hermit crabs, and a variety of snails (Trochus, Cerith, 1-2 turbo), a peppermint shrimp, and a cleaner shrimp. In terms of fishes, we have a percula clown (that loves the frog spawn), a neon goby, a lawnmower blenny, a coral beauty, and a orange tailed blue damsel. I would like to make a final addition to our tank. I was considering adding another dwarf angel (the flame) but most people I have talked to and the things I have read suggest not to because of the coral beauty. <Yep, they'll likely fight> One possible suggestion was adding at least two different types of dwarf angels to spread out possible conflict. What do you think about that? (My gut says it is not worth trying) <methinks your guy is right, adding more angels will only compound the problem. It's been done before, but you wouldn't want to be another of the failures!> The other possible addition I am leaning towards making is adding a tang. I had my heart set on the powder blue, but reading and researching has made me think twice about it. <There's hardier tangs out there> So instead, I am leaning towards the purple tang. My concerns with any tang, is the size of our current aquarium, their hardiness, and their aggressiveness. What would your thoughts be on adding a purple tang with our current community? <If the tank is at least 4' long, a small purple tang would be fine for a while. Keep in mind that they get large, and would likely need a larger home in the future.> Also if you have any other possible suggestions for a final addition to this tank, that would be appreciated. <A small yellow or hippo tang would be nice, provided the tank is large enough. Otherwise a colorful Anthias would do the trick. Keep looking around, there's tons of possibilities! -Kevin> Thank you and I am finding your website very helpful. Ed

A Tank Fit For A Queen! My email was just returned..... I am just resending it.  There was no answer.  Sorry for any confusion. Eric <Yikes...I suppose it happens in cyberland! Scott F. with you today!> I wrote a while ago about compatibility.  To refresh your memory I have purchased a 300 gallon tank (8ft long, 2ft wide, 30" high).  It is powered by 2 little giant pumps, 2 UV Sterilizers, and a Reef Concepts Skimmer (huge).  I would like to add the following things to the tank in this order: Live Rock (about 250 lbs), one or two anemones (bubble tip, or easy to care anemone compatible with clownfish). <Bubble tip will fit that bill, but I would never characterize anemones as "simple" to keep. As you know, they have strict demands for high water quality and light> I will cycle the tank with the live rock.  Then I want to add a shoal of Chromis viridis (15 or so) or Pterapogon kauderni (ten).  I would rather the Cardinalfish but I wouldn't want to lose them with them being the first fish to the system. <Well, attrition is potentially possible with either species, unfortunately> Then I would like to add 2 Clownfish.  Then 6 Heniochus (black and white 3"), then a fairy wrasse (will discuss in a moment), then a purple tang, then a Queen Angel.  The tank will also have a few crustaceans ( I realize the risk with the angel).  I also will add a few little fish along the way at random like Firefish, blennies or gobies, or Basslets.  Here are my questions:  1) Do you foresee any compatibility issues, 2) does my order sound reasonable, 3) will there be any crowding?  Also, I know very little about the fairy wrasses, although I have read your faq and your article on them.  I think I have decided on a Scott's. <Excellent choice! A great looking fish- and a cool name, huh? LOL! Should I keep it with several females? <That would be optimal, IMO!> Can I keep it with another species of fairy wrasse, and if so can I keep both species with females? <I'd limit it to one species, myself...> How many females should I keep if I keep them?   <I'd use one male to 3 females> Also, keep this in mind.  I bought the tank for the Queen Angel.  That is the one thing that can't go.  If things have to change, change in around that!!! Thank you for such a wonderful site and service!!! Eric Alspaugh <Well, Eric- sounds like it's gonna be a cool tank! If you are planning on working around the Queen Angel as your pivotal species, I'd avoid many species that can compete with this fish for swimming space. If it were me, I'd avoid the Heniochus for that reason. I like the idea of a small school of Chromis or Cardinals (probably the Chromis would work out well...). I love the Fairy Wrasse idea, but if you're leaning towards a more "Caribbean" biotopic presentation, who about a group of Royal Grammas? They are awesome looking, and can add a nice touch in this tank. Your idea of other Basslets, such as Chalk Basslets, would be cool, too. Just remember the space requirements of the Queen, and try to avoid fishes that compete with it...Have fun researching and executing this large tank! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Compatibility I wrote a while ago about compatibility.  To refresh your memory I have purchased a 300 gallon tank (8ft long, 2ft wide, 30" high).  It is powered by 2 little giant pumps, 2 UV Sterilizers, and a Reef Concepts Skimmer (huge).  I would like to add the following things to the tank in this order.   Live Rock (about 250 lbs), one or two anemones (bubble tip, or easy to care anemone compatible with clownfish).  I will cycle the tank with the live rock.  Then I want to add a shoal of Chromis viridis (15 or so) or Pterapogon kauderni (ten).  I would rather the Cardinalfish but I wouldn't want to lose them with them being the first fish to the system.  The I would like to add 2 Clownfish.  Then 6 Heniochus (black and white 3"), then a fairy wrasse (will discuss in a moment), then a purple tang, then a Queen Angel.  The tank will also have a few crustaceans ( I realize the risk with the angel).  I also will add a few little fish along the way at random like Firefish, blennies or gobies, or Basslets.  Here are my questions:  1) Do you foresee any compatibility issues, 2) does my order sound reasonable, 3) will there be any crowding?  Also, I know very little about the fairy wrasses, although I have read your faq and your article on them.  I think I have decided on a Scott's.  Should I keep it with several females?  can I keep it with another species of fairy wrasse, and if so can I keep both species with females?  how many females should I keep if I keep them?  Also, keep this in mind.  I bought the tank for the Queen Angel.  That is the one thing that can't go.  If things have to change, change in around that!!!   Thank you for such a wonderful site and service!!! Eric Alspaugh

-Drop-dead butterfly follow up- Thanks, Kevin.  FYI, I do quarantine nearly all my fish, but my quarantine tank isn't very big, and the lion is.  Both big and healthy, so I didn't quarantine him. <Still, you really should quarantine everything if you're going to do it at all.> Everyone else is fine.  The butterfly had a small red spot/wound on his right side BEFORE the introduction of the lion, but that has been there off and on for years.  Came and went.  I never did figure out what it was.  I doubt it was a parasite, as I quarantine in hyposalinity and keep my FO tank a bit on the low side, lowering it all the way to 1.009 at the first sign of any parasites.  I dunno. <Very weird situation, my best guess is some type of bacteria or virus introduced by the lion. Otherwise, I have no idea...> Oh, and my large adult Imperator and my majestic weren't anywhere near as aggressive as this map angel.  Only the queen came close.  I know they each have their own personalities.  This one is MEAN! <Hehe, hurray for map angels!> Anyway, thanks again. <Anytime. -Kevin> Jim

-Scared stiff? (literally!)- Dear Bob (et. al.), <Et Kevin today> I really do appreciate your site.  I have been SW fishkeeping for 15 years, but I still learn something new almost every time I visit.  I especially value the information on conditions, requirements and behavior, as there are some species with which I have always done well, and others I have never been able to keep without knowing why.  My marine Betta, who resides in my reef tank with only Chromis, gobies and a coral beauty especially thanks you.  I tried bettas years ago in my large, active, fish only tank, having been told they were groupers and having seen them gulp down some large prey. Never could figure out why they died. <Not nearly as aggressive or hardy as a common grouper> Now, onto the question:  I am an avid butterfly and angelfish keeper.  I have tried many species over the years, only learning the hard way which ones do and don't survive, until I discovered your site, with which I nearly always agree. <Glad this site put a stop to that! If only more people would research...> There is one thing I have never been able to figure out, however.  My current FO tank is an AllGlass 150 with about 125 lbs of base rock, built up across the back in a wall with lots of caves.  After a most unfortunate filter problem last year, I had only five occupants in that tank: a 6-7 in Foxface I have had for years, a 5-6 in adult maculosus I got as a 1" baby under the belief it was an asfur, a small honeycomb moray, a small/med Sailfin tang, and a large (4+ in), healthy saddleback Bfly, also with me several years. <Sounds like an appropriate fish population, I'd call it quits on any more> Most of these guys started out small and peaceful. I had no idea how aggressive a map angel could be. <Hehe, welcome to the wonderful world of adult angels> The only adults I had previously kept were Imperators, Majestics and Queens. <These guys can also get pretty mean>  Now for the question:  at my wife's request, I recently purchased a med-lg Volitans lion (realizing my tank will never again be a home for small, docile b'flys and angels anyway, as long as I have it's current occupants).  I have always understood that a lion will only bother things it can gulp in.  But after I added the lion, the saddleback promptly went into hiding and died in about a week.  I NEVER saw the lion bother the Bfly in any way, shape or form.  I had this exact same problem once before about 5 years ago.  I added a lion and the large, healthy b'flys in the tank all died.  Is this typical? <No, I would suspect that the lion is bringing disease with him. Did you quarantine it pre-introduction?> Do the bfly's just get "spooked" and die without provocation? <I would find that hard to believe in this case> Are there any bfly's (obviously large enough not to be food) that can be successfully kept with a Volitans lion? <I doubt it's the lion itself that is the problem> I am not planning on adding much more, as I don't want to overcrowd, but I would think another fish or two should comfortably fit in a 150,  I have an opportunity to acquire a pair of semilarvatus and an excellent price, and was wondering how you thought they might do. <If they are eating well, well acclimated, and go through a lengthy quarantine AFTER you haven't added any fish nor seen any visible disease for a month. Since a fish just dropped at the introduction of something else, suspect some sort of disease.> I hate having a semi aggressive tank.  I don't enjoy the fighting.  But I've had the Maculosus forever and I am just not ready to get rid of him.  Oh well. I look forward to your feedback. <Good luck, and check out our articles on quarantine. -Kevin> Jim Jensen

Stocking My Reef Tank and Some Other Questions Hey there guys.<hi> This is the first time I have asked a question, as all my prior ones have already been answered. What a great site! All my Australian friends are now hooked as well! Ok my tank as it is right now: 120L tank AKS overflow box feeding to…. 40L sump with a rather large skimmer in it (rated to 1500L aquarium) http://www.aks.net.au/protein.html (its the 2nd one from the top.) Producing around a cup of dark smelly brown gunk a day. <sounds good> Filtration a via an Eheim 2213 canister filter (running mechanical, biological, and chemical {carbon}) with a 15W UV in the return (inlet and outlet both in main tank for canister) 150w 10000k MH sitting about 10 inches off the waterline (tank open top)…  runs for 8 hours a day, has a UV glass filter on light unit 2 X 20W "marine-glo" (blue) tubes… runs for 10 hours a day, overlapping the MH 20kg's life rock <ok> 1" dead crushed shell grit bed full of soft and stony corals… all doing great <good to hear> 2 clams a pair of red and white coral banded shrimps <very aggressive shrimp... be careful with smaller fish and inverts alike> 1 abalone 1 hermit crab 2 star fish and a few snails water changed 25% every 2-3 weeks <good> fresh water top offs done so with RO water Does all this sound alright to you… I'm open for ANY suggestions is an air stone a bad idea in the main tank with corals?<I would not add an air stone...> I've been told not to, is the corals will not like it? is this true? <yes... it's not a good idea for many reasons> NO fish as yet in main tank.. had a bad white spot drama and lost yellow tang, blue tang, and a clown. Display tank has now been sitting with no fish for around 2 months now.<you should be able to start adding fish... QT first though> Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 6 ppm Salinity 1.023 Temp 26 deg. C calcium 550-600ppm (does it matter it is that high?) KH: 250ppm Phosphate: 0 Ph 8.4 Now for the last 3 weeks I have had a pair (well they are trying to pair) of ocellaris (1" each) and a bi colour Dottyback (1") in QT. QT<sounds great> 18" tank with the small AKS skimmer running, and some matrix as bio filter all levels good A few days ago a caught the Dottyback scratching into things every now and then (no visible spots), so I took ALL fish out of QT and gave them all a separate F/W bath for around 6-7 min.s, then put them back in the QT tank. All done well. And brought the copper levels up in the tank as per instructions. No scratching.. no nothing… all seems happy now.<good> How long should these guys spend in QT before I can put them in the display tank?<i would say at least 3 weeks... Personally with new acquired specimens I try to Qt for about 4wks> After these guys are in and all seems well I would like to add some more fish.. one by one.. and in this order: (of course after their stay in the QT tank 1)  Nemateleotris decora (purple firefish) x1 <great fish> 2)  Zebrasoma flavescens (yellow tang) x1 3)  Centropyge loricula (flame angel) x1 <this may pick at the clam mantles and corals, i do not suggest you put this Centropyge angelfish in your reef aquarium> Does this sound like too many fish? <I would get the yellow tang and purple firefish but I would exclude the Centropyge angelfish> Will these fish get along? <they should> Will I require another canister filter? <no> If I still have any room for an extra fish or two... any suggestions for something interesting? <personally I like Helfrich's firefish as an expensive alternative to the purple firefish... also Pseudocheilinus ocellatus (mystery wrasse)... very attractive little buggers!!!.> Again, all comments, are welcome and appreciated. Thank you, very much for you help. I would not be here enjoying my tank with my family if it were not for you guys and girls!<thanks> Keep up the good work Garth Thanks again<good luck, IanB>

- Compatibility - I was just wondering about the compatibility of a pink tail trigger, two domino damsels, har. Tuskfish and a clown tang in the same tank. <Well... a couple of things: first, the Clown Tang is a highly aggressive fish, and needs 100g plus to itself - anyone else in the tank will get their heads kicked in - I'd skip this fish. As for the rest, they will do fine together provided you have a large enough system, again over 100 gallons. I'd also skip the domino damsels or if you have them already trade them in... as they age they will become consummate jerks. Cheers, J -- >

Livestocking Density Algorithm Hi crew, I've been reading a lot of the FAQs and see the common question of how many fish can I put in my tank (especially dealing with saltwater.)  Or is this to many fish etc., etc.?  The response is often one can't tell due to many different factors (ultimate size of fish, eating habits, metabolism and more.).  Bob you once said a huge algorithm would have to be created to take into account all of this.  Would you be interested in creating one? <Mmm, possibly... with coefficients for differential metabolism by species, size? Integrated/differential functions for types and amounts of foods? Shapes of systems, aeration...?> Creating an easy to use program that any lay person could use and get a estimate if their stocking selection is "okay."?? <Would be neat to "discuss"... offer up efforts to the public for input...> I would definitely be willing to help on this project if WWM wanted to take a stab at it.  I have a few ideas about the program (easy to use excel format, maybe???)  Just let me know what you think. Thanks for all the wonderful information. Alex Purdue Engineering <I'll help. Bob Fenner>

Re: density algorithm Hi crew again, I am glad you are interested in the density algorithm.  Is there any way that you would like to go about starting the process of creating the program? <Let's start with a multiplier in front of all subsequent sub-set factors for the "Q10 factor" of the effect of temperature on metabolism... basically, for any given organism (w/o reference to adaptation, variation) there is an "ideal" range of temperature of their environment... with ten degrees (C) more about doubling metabolic rate... or halving it going in the other direction). What next would you like to include in the formulation?>  Does WWM offer any monetary benefits or is it a non profit organization? <Mmm, non-profit. What little money we generate collectively from sponsorships (banner and shared border ads) and a part of book sales, we share on "as-needed" bases, and spend on dive adventure and pet-fish trips> Here is a short list from what I know that should be involved in the algorithm. Fish max. size/type/metabolism Food fed/ frequency/ amount <and relative "complete" nutritional content> Tank size and shape (actual amount of water in tank) Amount of live rock/sand if any Circulation/aeration Water change habits Filtration, protein skimming <And thermal consideration per above> As I said earlier, an excel version of the program could be made.  For me this would probably be the easiest way to make the algorithm. However, an HTML (Dreamweaver) version could be made so the user could directly enter their information on the website.  This would be a little more complicated though and more time consuming.  Also it would take up a good deal of space (memory) on the website. <We "rent" 300 megs from Datapipe for the root web and have 280 gigs on our WWF server. No space problem> I don't know how much memory you have from your host.  However, I am sure the excel version would be relatively small probably less than 100 KB.  Tell me what you think, Alex Miller <I say... let's continue. Take a stab at codifying/quantifying or even just verbalizing the above parameters... and let's see where we go. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer and Soon-To-Be-Overstocked Tank II - 8/22/03 I appreciate your telling me your concerns about overstocking. However, it's very disheartening to hear.   <I am sad to have to say it too, my friend... surely some combination of your eagerness, misdirection by sales folk and lack of perspective/research> Every step of the way, every fish I chose and in what order, I ALWAYS got WWM's opinion and advice.   <Hmmm....  not quite my friend. Please do re-read our concerns about parrotfish in aquaria: main page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parrotfi.htm  [a quote, "Their only downside, and it's a big one, is that Scarids [parrotfish] rarely live for anytime in captivity(!); either starving to death for reasons that will become obvious, or "stressing" out to extremes due to other rigors of captivity [limited tank size/swimming space]"]. also... there is the issue of you keeping way too many fish that will grow to large to be kept all together> Most of the fish I've had for two or more years and they are thriving.   <a very short view as most can live over 20... rather typical of aquarists alas... such fishes commonly hang in, as stated before, for a few years and then things naturally get thinned out one way or another (stunting, disease, aggression from growing fishes, etc)> However, when I just recently purchased my blue throat and half moon I again made sure I checked with you guys.   <they are both reasonable to very good fishes. I have no qualms with these species... you simply have too many fishes for a 120 gallon tank if they are to grown to anything near adulthood.> You guys even told me to get the blue throat before the maculosus -- to add him last.   <agreed> There was never any mention of overstocking.   <this is not rocket science here, my friend. You have what amounts to over 5' of potential adult fishes, and you have a four foot long aquarium. One does not keep a Great Dane in a single bedroom apartment... and you just have too many fishes for the long run. Again, please confer with www.fishbase.org if you do not have an atlas to consult for adult sizes> In fact, reading your website I see that I am in the MINORITY with only having six fish in a 200 gallon tank.   <I have no idea how you have come to this conclusion... please see above regarding potential adult sizes. Cut that in half, and you are still overstocked IMO> My fish receive a weekly water change, <only 10%... way too modest. Please see the newest water change article on Wetwebmedia.com by Fellman (do a google keyword search or see list of new articles by link on the FAQ page> eat the best foods, and are given constant love and attention.   <I truly believe your passion and intent is sincere... you simply have been too eager and selectively optimistic> I am very attached to them so it is very disturbing to hear that you think I'm basically stunting their growth therefore giving them a slim survival rate.   <just get a bigger tank, bub... no worries. Lose the sharks and get a 300+ for the rest (Hmm... well, the parrotfish will likely need to go too, other issues though)> However, I appreciate your honest opinion and help. <and I appreciate your consideration of it all. Wishing you the very best of luck... and please do remember these words if/when you have mystery deaths in a year or two (developmental problems, perhaps). Anthony>

Confusion over stocking levels 8/25/03 Anthony, You have obviously gotten your emails mixed up.   <quite correct... a retraction/apology was printed and posted yesterday. We are down a few crew members and absolutely swamped at some points with e-mail. The impetus for the mix-up> I DON'T even HAVE a parrotfish or a SHARK!!!!!!!  And I certainly DO NOT have a 120 gallon aquarium!!!!  I  have a 200 gallon aquarium - 6 feet long!! <yes... I do recall... but your tank is still/will be overstocked> I have attached my original email for you to reread! In your rather piercing words. . . "it's not rocket science, my friend".  Excuse my apparent distaste for your return email but I would rather you follow Robert Fenner's attitude.   He is always very nice, patient, and compassionate about passing his knowledge on in a  very "teaching" manner -- not condescending and berating.  Furthermore I don't even have the livestock you are mentioning. <reread and recalled... and the truth stands: you either have never seen an adult half moon angel or adult Naso... or you lack empathy, because even at half their adult size, the aquarium will only be slightly wider than they are long... add to that a wrasse and trigger that could/should push another 16-24", plus a maroon clown to go 6" inches, and you still have what will be an overstocked tank. There's an old saying... "If you throw a stone into a crowd of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit." I think it may have crossed your mind that some of these fish are perhaps not suitable for this display long term and hence the reaction. At any rate, your tank is indeed not so nearly burdened as the chap I confused you with. My very sincere apologies again. This too will be posted on the dailies as all of our communications are. Do consider pulling one of the two biggest fishes and likely enjoying many more years of success and good health with the remainder. Bob is back in the country and reading all/available to answer. Anthony>

"The Undiscovered Country"  (Keeping Difficult Animals) ScottF: <Hi there again, Steve!> I strongly agree with your advice not to buy Moorish Idols. Just because one has been "fine" in someone's tank for many months does not mean it is actually in good health. <Yep! And, unfortunately, as hobbyists we are often lulled into believing that because someone has managed to keep a difficult fish like this alive for some time, they have "mastered" its care where all other hobbyists and many public aquariums have failed. We are often on the "cutting edge" of husbandry with marine animals, but we need to really study the requirements of such animals before we experiment with them...Keeping a fish that lives 10-20 years in the wild for 1, 2, or even 5 years does not constitute success, IMO> Fish often seem "fine" up to the moment they die. A friend of mine who was bragging about how healthy his was and how much it was eating found it dead one morning after about six months. Probably starved slowly. <An all too common experience...> All tests normal and all other fish fine in this long-established large tank. I'm  beginning to feel the same way about Chelmon rostratus personally. I had a 5" one that was thriving--eating a large variety of foods vigorously and active--for several months. One morning he was leaning dead against a rock. Had responded normally and eaten well the night before. <Yeah...this is not an uncommon experience with these fishes. There must be some sort of dietary issue that we are not solving, even with the best captive diets, and with excellent water conditions. Some fishes simply do not adapt to captive life. We need to really research the academic studies on such animals, and perhaps we can glean more about what they need to thrive in captivity...With the vast knowledge out there on the internet, and the many discussion boards out there, many of these mysteries can be solved> All other fish remain fine and all tests normal.  Steve Allen. <Well, Steve- I'm glad that you share this philosophy! As hobbyists, we have a responsibility to the animals that we keep, and to the wild reefs. It's important to continue to push the "state of the art" in aquariology, but we need to do it in a highly disciplined, controlled manner, with a complete understanding of the ecology of the animal in question. Most important, never forget to share your successes (and failures, for that matter!) with your fellow hobbyists. Together, maybe we can unlock some of the mysteries that may make it possible to keep these challenging animals for their natural life spans. And THAT is success! Here's to the future, the "Undiscovered Country" (Yikes! I've been watching too many "Star Trek" movies...!) Regards, Scott F>

Confused in Disappointment - 8/23/03 I'm confused. <on the contrary... it seems I am the one who was confused <G>> Your response with this title: Skimmer and Soon-To-Be-Overstocked Tank II - 8/22/03 seems to mix info from the original "Skimmer and Soon-To-Be-Overstocked Tank" and "All the Wrong Moves: Reality Check on Stocking." <by gumption you are right... my apologies to all. I meant to chastise the bloke with almost 6' of fish potential in a 6' tank, not the crack addict with over 10' of fish potential in a 120gallon  and two smaller aquariums (another ~ 70 gal. total). It has been a lot of mail for me at WWM and in my personal boxes this last week. Amazing that I/we keep up with it at times.> It was "all the wrong moves" that had a crowd (Banded Reef Shark, Huma huma, Niger trigger, yellow line sweet lips, 2 maroon clowns, a blue line snapper, a yellow tang, a orange shoulder tang, a V-tail grouper (gorgeous fish), a couple of large damsels") in a 120. He's also the one with a parrotfish and another shark in smaller tanks!   <ughhh... yes. Unbelievable.> I thought "skimmer" claimed to have "one Naso tang (7"), one Half Moon Angel (5"), one Sunset Wrasse (7"), one Blue Throat Trigger (6"), one Yellow Tang (3"), and one Maroon Clown (4")" in a 200. Is this really overstocked? <absolutely... it blows my mind that most folks cannot agree on this. Even without the Naso... the hardy angel and wrasse easily reach a foot long each in a matter of years. A 12" fish (let alone two, plus three others adding another 24" plus cumulatively)... in a 24" wide tank is embarrassing. Lets talk in people terms - how crowded does a 2' wide human seem living in a box four foot wide by 12 foot long seem. Now add another 6 foot tall human, and three children to the same box. Yikes!... its not even a fair comparison, because fishes have an even wider home range than we do.> The Naso could be a bit too big, but it seems to me that--possibly in addition to a smaller substitute for the Naso--the others would fit in a 200,  <ahhh... you've hit the nail right on the head ;) They will "fit">  ... though there could be aggression issues with the Trigger. <least of our troubles here... fairly well-behaved species. Besides... the wrasse is tough and fast... and the angel and maroon clown are just mean as sin> I hope you do not think this overstocked, because I'm working on a 180 that will have a Snowflake Eel, Bird Wrasse, Picasso Trigger, Maroon Clown, and a Banded Hawkfish. <I am certain the above tank is overstocked... and yet yours seems tolerable. The eel isn't actively swimming, and the wrasse is the only fish mentioned with a prayer of coming anywhere near 12"> I am also considering a Purple Tang or a Harlequin Tuskfish...  <I wouldn't... but certainly not the tusk if you must pick one. Too large and too active... needs swimming space... not a crowd>  ... though I am uncertain due to the Trigger behavior issue and my concern about overstocking. Am I about to make a big mistake here?  Steve <you are killing me Doc! <G> And a pediatric physician of all things, no? Heehee... what about optimal environment and developmental impositions for juveniles. Pretend like your fish are your patients doc... and if I hear your tank is overstocked, I'm gonna file a complaint. Ha! Thanks for pointing out that I was confused. Somebody's listening <G>. Anthony>

Stocking Levels - 8/24/03 Anthony: No need to file a complaint with PETA (hehe)--I'll stick to the Snowflake Eel, Bird Wrasse, Picasso Trigger, Maroon Clown & Banded Hawkfish. <Ha! good to hear... and all will be better for it <G>> These are sufficiently interesting in their behaviors. It's just that it can be hard to show restraint when one sees the following in a "thriving" 180 at the LFS: Achilles Tang, Harlequin Tuskfish, Semilarvatus Butterfly, French Angel, Spanish Hogfish, Hippo Tang, Majestic Angel, Flame Angel, and a couple of gobies. "All you need is a great skimmer and a UV sterilizer!" However, there do seem to be fewer fish in there than there were a few months ago. <exactly, my friend... its a common case of short vision and disservice on the part of the LFS here> Of course, this is the same place I overheard an employee tell a newbie mother setting up a 29G Nemo tank that you can "just keep adding fish until the ammonia level gets difficult to keep down, then you know it's full." <ughh.... the fascists!>> Steve Allen <keep on rockin' :) Anthony>

Butterfly/Angel for my 75 Gallon Tank Hi team!, I wanted to compliment you for the excellent work you've done for all of us new hobbyists!. Here's my situation. I have a 75 Gallon FOWLR with 60 pounds of LR, and about 3" of substrate. It's been up for 3 months and already houses:  2 Ocellaris (3" & 2.5") 3 Green Chromis (2.5") 1 Cerulean Damsel (3"). All live peacefully, the Cerulean  is a little bit territorial and chases the Chromis or Ocellaris every once in a while, but no harm has happened. I just got a Niger Trigger (3") and is acclimating himself in a 10 gallon QT - still shy and stays hiding most of the time after 4 days of being there, but he comes out to eat, and he looks fine. <sounds pretty normal for this species of fish>  I would like to add one or two more fish to finish stocking it. I already discarded adding any Inverts, Cardinal or Butterfly fish to the tank due to the trigger coming in (am I right in discarding these). <Yes, the butterfly fish would not be a problem... but they do need their swimming room> I'd like to add (after the trigger leaves the QT) either an Angelfish or a Tang , which Angel or Tang would happily live in my tank? <I would try to find a angelfish from the genus Centropyge or Genicanthus, and I would not bother with a tang...most are aggressive/territorial and grow quite large>  Am I already in the limit of what my tank can safely handle in the long term? I have a canister Eheim filter, an 801 powerhead and a Tunze skimmer in this tank. If it's not a Tang or Angel, is there any other pretty fish you think may fit better?   Thanks and keep up with this great job! <I would go with an Angelfish from the genus Centropyge (my favorite is a Centropyge aurantius - I own one thanks to ScottF and his friend) or 2 other fish that are attractive and hardy-not to mention hard to get are a Five Bar Mystery Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus ocellatus) and a Peppermint Hogfish (Bodianus sp.),  good luck with the fish search, IanB>

Big Fish for Small Tank (8-23-03) Hey Guys, I've got a 65 Gallon Fish only aquarium (53 Gallons approx. after displaced) the tank physically is a bow-front tank, The system is filtered by an Eheim 2227 wet/dry canister filter and an under gravel filter powered by a pair of Powerhead 802's giving lots of water movement and high amounts of filtration in the tank and high oxygenation levels.  It's currently stocked with a 4" Maroon clown and a 4" yellow tang.  I would like to add a Volitans lion and an Auriga Butterfly.  Both specimens are in excellent health, as are the two fish in the tank.  I know about  the venomous nature of the lion and I'm ok with that,  I just want to know if you think that my choice is good? All the fish are too large to fit into the mouth of a lionfish and I just want an expert's opinion on the mix of fish that I am putting together.  <The yellow tang, lion, and butterfly will out grow this tank in a short while.  Plan on getting a bigger (120+) tank in the near future if you decide to get these fish.  As far as compatibility goes you should be ok.  Cody>

All the Wrong Moves: Reality Check on Stocking - Staggering stocking/ nitrate issues  Hey guys, <howdy> Okay I got a question for ya - let's see how you do.   <we're volunteers and don't need to take tests <G>> I have been in the saltwater hobby for about a year.  I spend way too much time finding info and doing research about keeping a saltwater tank, maintaining, the inhabitants and blah blah blah. <"blah blah blah" - great attitude... I would have never guessed> Anyways, I have a 25, a 46 bow front, and a 120.  The 25 is our iso tank, but became our shark weaning tank, the 46 is our reef and the 120 is our aggressive tank.   <shark weaning implies that you have a shark (or more)... yet you only note a 120 as your biggest tank (too small even for adult cat/bamboo sharks). Problems in store for you in the future here. Poor planning. Kudos for setting up the QT tank though> Now the first and big question is how do we solve our problem with getting down our high nitrates?   <much to say here even without knowing what the actual nitrates are (define "high"). Are you using any chloramine water conditioners that alter test kit readings (Nessler's reagents used? - do read your reagents in the kit)? Have you used two or more different types of test kits to confirm accuracy? Are you testing for nitrate as nitrogen or as the ion?> We feed every 2 to 3 days and only what they can consume in minutes, we have filtration for at least 3 times the amount of water, protein skimmers, plus we do water changes of 10% once a week. <the water changes are waaaaaay too small IMO. That means 90% of dissolved urine, feces etc. is left behind every week. The filters do not magically export such matter... they simply convert them... to nitrates... if they are good/ample enough> Even after water changes the nitrates never go down.  We have had a constant 120 reading.   <if not read as the ion, your actual nitrates are 4.4 times 120ppm... doh! Over 500 ppm> But at the same time, the fish are happy, colorful and better off then they were when we bought them.  Plus they are growing.   <how many fishes, how much food, what kinds, etc> Now we have tried running extra carbon with frequent changes and that has done nothing.  I put a quarter what is recommended of all supplement.  Any ideas why nitrates are still high?  All we use is RO water and Red Sea Salt.  Every other level we test for is good.   <doh... are you also using Red Sea test kits? Not my favorite brand based on customer feedback and experience. Not the worst either... but there are much better choices - LaMotte, Hach> We never have any nitrites or ammonia levels.  We keep a salinity of about .019, Calcium is at a steady 420 and ph is at 8.2.  In the 25 we have a baby banded shark (just hatched) and a clown trigger.   <good heavens...> In the 46 reef I have 2 convict blennies, a perc, a fairy wrasse, a parrot fish, 3 cleaner shrimp, 4 peppermint shrimp, a sand sifter, 8 or 9 soft corals, a serpent star, who knows how many small hermits (like 20 maybe), and about 25 snails.   <ahhh... parrotfish... in the reef. A juvenile no doubt. Yikes. Do know/watch in time for destructive behavior (ethics aside for keeping such fish that grow too large for home aquaria)> I have no die- back in the tank. Filtration is a Penguin 400 and a wet-dry rated for a 75 gallon tank with protein skimmer. <hoping the skimmer is tuned well enough to produce 3-5 cups minimum of dark coffee colored liquid weekly. A good way of reducing nitrate> I have about 75lbs. of live rock and a 3" base of fine sand. I do have couple of secluded patch algae growing in the tank but the tank is really clean and crystal clear. (hell its looks better than some of the show tanks around town that are in a few of the fish stores)  Now the 120 is our aggressive tank.  We have a ( we think it is) a brown banded reef shark at about 1ft. (he looks like a brown banded, but he has leopard spots on him), a Huma huma, a Niger trigger, a yellow line sweet lips, 2 maroon clowns, a blue line snapper, a yellow tang, a orange shoulder tang, a V-tail grouper (gorgeous fish), a couple of large damsels ( about 6"), 2 x-large hermits, and 3 6" chocolate chip stars. <my friend... you need to stop buying so many fishes so fast and research their needs before you buy them. The Sweetlips is not destined long for this world in captivity and will grow too large for home aquaria even if it does. 2 sharks  and a parrotfish in your possession are also very poor choices (tank size/availability). Add to that a snapper, grouper and several triggers that do not have a prayer of living together past 5 years captive in the aquaria you have available (adult sizes, and a potential lifespan of well over 20 years). Many bad choices here.> We run a wet-dry rated for a 125, and two power filters that are rated for up to 75 each. Plus a protein skimmer rated up to a 250 gallon tank.  We have about 145lbs. of live rock and about a 2.5 inch base of semi fine sand.  In all three tanks I run 2 to 3 powerheads for counter-clockwise circulation including the return flow. <you clearly are a passionate (good) but perhaps impulsive hobbyist. The money you have spent in less than a year on all of this livestock and hardware was way too much, and way too fast. Your local pet stores must love you <G>. Do slow down and research more before you buy. We have an enormous archive here at WWM... all free and all waiting for those willing to help themselves. Not to mention, show respect for the living charges in our care> Now I said this before, but all of our tanks are crystal clear with no problems. <ahhh... OK> As in healthy fish, great colors, everyone is happy, no parasites or infections, everyone is eating and flourishing.  The only tank that shows notice of something being wrong is the reef and that is only because none of the corals are multiplying, spawning, spreading, etc.  Now I know this is due to the high nitrate level.   <not only/entirely> So any suggestions, comments, concerns?  Please let me know.   <as per above... start here: www.wetwebmedia.com and work your way through the archives on some of the issues addressed above: stocking densities, adult sizes, ethics(!)> Thank you for your time and help.  Hopefully you might be the one person that can actually give me an idea that works. Well give me an idea and I will see.   <I hope you will take the advice to heart... but suspect you will take exception. I have been consulting the public for over a decade, and have a vibe here. I do hope to see you succeed!> I have tried most of what dozens of people have suggested and some have just suggested after they were at their wits ends and nothing seemed to work or more that everything seems great and that the high nitrates are just there and weird that if all is healthy and great just keep doing what I am doing and hope for the best since that is the only problem but it doesn't seem to be a real problem so I should not worry about it. Thanks Rich <"dozens of people"... yikes. Better to consult all but not try all <G>. Information gather, and then make a judicious decision based on an intelligent consensus. Consult www.fishbase.org to see the adult sizes of candidates before you buy them... and please (!) seriously consider reading Bob Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist". What you need are much larger water changes, perhaps better skimming, certainly larger aquaria or less fishes (if only for longer view 1-2 yrs plus. Reality check here, my friend. If you gave up every other fish you own now and kept only one shark... that still leaves an animal that grows 3 feet long to live in a tank only 2 foot wide. Not sensible. Summary of stocking density/potential: 2 sharks (30-36" each as adults), 3 triggers (over 24" cumm. as adults), a parrotfish (1-2 feet), a snapper (holy cow... to be measured in pounds?!?!), 2 tangs (the orange shoulder has an adult size of over 12"), two clowns and fours damsels (6" each... two already there), a grouper... ughhh, other small fishes. And these are just the ones mentioned. All for a 120 and a 46 gallon tank. Staggering... just disappointing. Please take their welfare to heart. You have allowed yourself to be misguided by your locals... and oversold on fishes while undersold on hardware (tank size). You are essentially a cash cow at this point for the LFS waiting for the tank(s) crash and opportunities to sell it all to you over again. Be an educated consumer, mate. Anthony... hoping for an enlightened reply.>

All the Wrong Moves: Reality Check II - 8/23/03 <shark weaning implies that you have a shark (or more)... yet you only note a 120 as your biggest tank (too small even for adult cat/bamboo sharks). Problems in store for you in the future here.> The shark will take a while to reach full size so I think they will be fine till I can get them in a 300+ tank when move into a house within the next year. <<very well... but do understand that we hear this all the time, and it rarely happens. It's still poor planning and taking a chance with living creatures' lives>> <Are you using any chloramine water conditioners that alter test kit readings (Nessler's reagents used? - do read your reagents in the kit)? Have you used two or more different types of test kits to confirm accuracy? Are you testing for nitrate as nitrogen or as the ion?> Well what we use for testing are the quick dip sticks.  That good or bad? <<test strips are categorically low grade and less reliable. I personally would not take them for free. And I would not stake my investment in my tank on their accuracy. Again, do consider Hach or LaMotte for quality. If you seek something more affordable, do look at Aquarium Systems brand>> Info on where to get please and find out about since I have never heard of them, thanks. <<please be resourceful, my friend. Do a simple keyword search on google.com and you will find numerous links. LaMotte is very popular with experienced aquarists and they have been around for decades. I would be very surprised if your better LFS was not aware of them if not selling them>> What would you suggest for water changes?  Everything I have read or heard says 25% biweekly to 10% to 5% weekly.   <<it depends on your bio-load, your husbandry (feeding modes largely) and water quality. In your case, you are having nitrate issues and an overstocked system... as such, I'd suggest 20% weekly as a start. A few larger water changes may be necessary at first to knock the nitrate levels down low enough to maintain with 20% weekly> In the 25 we have a baby banded shark (just hatched) and a clown trigger. <good heavens...> ???? <<my concern here is the poor choice of the nippy trigger however small it may be with a shark hatchling. Having worked high volume wholesale of marine livestock for over a decade... I have seen too many baby sharks get their eyes pecked out. Then, there is the matter of their adult sizes and your limited tank space in the long run>> <ahhh... parrotfish... in the reef. A juvenile no doubt. Yikes. Do know/watch in time for destructive behavior (ethics aside for keeping such fish that grow too large for home aquaria)> 1) only in tank till he gets to big and 2) fine with soft corals <<call it what you like/rationalize... it's still irresponsible IMO. Lots of promises for getting a bigger tank and lots of fishes. Your inventory borders on the unbelievable for the 5-year plan. You have 2 sharks, a parrotfish, 3 triggers, a grouper, a snapper, and then some (24" of damsels and clowns among the small fishes)... all with only a 120 plus a 46 for means. Doh! The adult size of the 2 sharks at 2-3 foot each and the 3 trigger over 2' in length is staggering without the others in mind. Disappointing>> Bad choices in our part maybe. They stay the same size and grow up together there are no problems. <<Bad choices indeed... but with livestock at risk. You are saying that you can conquer evolution ("growing up together") and physiology ("stay the same size")? If you put a 3 foot dog in a 3 foot cage... it's animal cruelty. And the dog will not live a full lifespan. The same is true with imprisoned humans and any other animal that is unduly crowded/confined. I'm not asking you to set up a swimming pool... I'm just asking you to use some common sense. Some discretion and resistance when taking fish into your care>> My tanks never crash "knock on wood" ha ha but yes I know for full size there is definitely a problem, but again I plan ahead.  Don't count your chickens until they have hatched right. <<exactly... the business of life has many obstacles. Family comes first and who knows if you will have the means to buy that dream tank down the road>> Again info to help me drop the nitrates and make my tank better till I can upgrade and not slandering on what I do have.   << my apologies for the tone... but this is one of the most extreme cases of overstocking we have seen. And that is significant in light of the thousands of e-mails/queries we have fielded over the years>> Help me take care of what is there and make sure they survive till they do have their large tank to be happy in later. Thank you again <<the best advice I can give you is to do large and regular weekly water changes, skim aggressively (have 2 skimmers cleaned alternately), and find other homes immediately for the largest species in your care to improve the quality of life for all. The sharks are out... the snapper and parrot need to go too. The triggers arguably grow slow enough that they can be enjoyed as long as the aggression doesn't flare. Wishing you the best of luck. Anthony>>

Skimmer and Soon-To-Be-Overstocked Tank - 8/22/03 My tank is run by a Mag 12 and I have two powerheads inside the tank for internal circulation.  I thoroughly checked out my skimmer and found some errors.   <common with most tanks... few skimmers are well-tuned> It is skimming perfectly now and I'm getting lots of yucky stuff every day.  Will this help with the hair algae?   <outstanding, and yes... sure to starve out algae in a matter of weeks. Have patience and control other nutrient sources (input from food, tap water quality, etc)> If so, how long will it take for the hair algae to die off / not grow?   <about 2 weeks likely> As for my tankmates.  They get fed 3 cubes of Formula One or Two, a 5" x 2" strip of seaweed, and twice a week I include a clam, mussel, or a small amount of zooplankton.  Am I feeding them too much or too little?  They all seem very happy and healthy.   <I cannot say if the amount is too much, but for the frozen whole prey items (clam, krill, etc) it is very very important to thaw and decant all pack juice from the portion and not pour this into the tank... it is rocket fuel for nuisance algae. Thaw such foods in cold water, strain and put meat only into the aquarium> I consider my tank under stocked -- please tell me what you think.  I have one Naso tang (7"), one Half Moon Angel (5"), one Sunset Wrasse (7"), one Blue Throat Trigger (6"), one Yellow Tang (3"), and one Maroon Clown (4"). <I do not feel that your tank is under stocked, my friend... quite the contrary with even a short view of 1-2 years. The cumulative adult sizes of these fishes is around 48"... Naso (18"),Angel (12-16"), Wrasse (12), Trigger (12") Tang (6-8") and Maroon Clown (6-7")... over 5 feet of fishes (!) if you had the space and husbandry to bring them to adulthood. See fishbase.org to confirm all. now even if these fishes stunt at half potential (and lets assume the stunting does not lead to their premature death in just a few years, which is not a likely assumption IMO) that still means you will have 24-30" inches of fish in a tank that is only as wide as 4 of these fishes will/could be long. Honestly... I feel the tank is poorly planed unless you intend to get a 300-500 gallon aquarium in the next 2 years. Else, you need to thin out the ranks. Start with the Naso, send it to a public aquarium where it likely belongs ;)> Thanks for your advice and helpfulness.  You guys are much appreciated!   <best of luck... and please do take the stocking advice to heart. Most aquarists make the mistake of looking at their immature sized fishes and ignore the long view for their needs. Anthony>

An Ocean Of Choices, But Only 100 Gallons To Work With! (Stocking) Hi Scott, <Hello again, Jim!> Well, I've left you alone for a whole month, trying to educate myself and not drive you nuts, but the questions are starting to pile up on top of each other, and my brain is starting to hurt :o) <I know that feeling! And you haven't even had the chance to get sore arms from all of the water changes you're gonna do, right?> I've used all the great advice from you and the site, and now a world away from my initial BioWheel, canister filter, UGF, and who knows what else I was thinking. Thanks! <Very cool! I sometimes think that if people avoided the so-called "beginners" products, they'd have a much more successful start!> The piggy bank is crushed, but here is where I am, 100g tank, with 5 x 1" drilled overflows, AquaC EV180 skimmer, 100lbs live rock (tank still dry/still setting up the plumbing), Iwaki MD70RLT (1500 GPH) return pump with teed manifold (hoping I won't need powerheads), and crushed coral substrate (apparently there is no sand in all of Argentina). <Awesome! Everything sounds great! I guess you'll have to make the crushed coral work...Is it possible to get an aragonite play sand, like the famous "Southdown" sand that people have managed to adapt to aquarium use? Check around some builder's supply stores? Just a thought...> Here goes (if you are still willing): <And able!> Cycling: Was planning to cycle the tank with just the rock. <Good plan- no need for damsels, etc.> This may sound dumb, but I read something on the web, from someone who sounded like he knew what he was talking about, that I should only use a little of the live rock to cycle the tank to avoid rock die off. <I don't agree with that one...> The rock is fully cured (been in a tank with fish for a couple of months/from a fish friend who imports it).  I understand the bacteria colonization, ammonia spikes, etc., but will the fully cured live rock "kill itself" while cycling the tank? <Well, some of the life on the "cured" live rock will die off in the cycling process, but the majority of the life on the rock will rebound...> Most of what I have read on WWM says just dump it all in.  Any thoughts? <I agree with my WWM pals- dump it all in...The tank will have to cycle. Cycling the tank with a lower bioload, then adding another large load of cured rock would simply delay the process, IMO...Get it all in at once, work that great skimmer of yours. It's been done like this for years, and it works.> This may sound even dumber, but does it make any sense to load up the rock in the water from the tank it is in, run it over to my house, and dump it in the tank?  Will the move (30 minutes) likely cause the bacteria to die off and start a brand new cycle anyway? <Nah...If you think about it, most rock is collected or cultivated on the reefs, then shipped in a moist state thousands of miles to the major aquatic markets of the world without incident, a journey that can take days...The short drive out of water from your friend should be no problem...> Does it matter since there will be nothing else alive in the tank? Stocking: Here is what I am thinking.  Will add from least aggressive to most aggressive over several months (after the tank is fully cycled): Bicolor Angel - Centropyge <An awesome fish, but make sure that you're getting a net-collected specimen...Some are still collected with chemicals, and they will not do well...Look on the WWM site for tips on picking "clean" specimens. Add after tank is better established to provide consistent foraging> Blue Tang - Paracanthurus hepatus <A great fish, too- make sure that conditions are stable in the tank...And they get quite large...Consider this and the responsibility that goes with it...They can live 20 years and reach 10 inches plus!> Copperband Butterfly - Chelmon <Can be a bit touchy....>   Moorish Idol - Zanclus canescens <Please pass on this one! The lack of success aquaristically is well-documented. They should stay in the ocean!> (2) Clownfish - Amphiprion ocellaris <Great fish!> (3) Yellowtail Damsel - Chrysiptera hemicyanea <Nice, but they can get a bit territorial if added early on...> (Yes, I have kids, and yes they have seen "Finding Nemo" 4 times, and have significantly influenced the choices.  My next goal is to figure out how to get a Great White into the tank). <Or how to feed it! LOL> The only one that gets sort of large is the blue tang. I know the Moorish Idol (Gil) is a hard fish to keep, but from what I have read it sounds mostly like a shipping survival issue. <Nope- I have to disagree with you on this one, my friend- it's a nutritional and/or environmental issue...The dietary requirements of this fish are not entirely understood> This one has been in a tank here (near my house) for a month, eats, and looks very healthy.  Will be at least six weeks before I would put it in, so if it's still alive/healthy thinking maybe it's doable. <Umm- it really is not recommended...Long term captive survivability is simply not good with this species...Please, please consider this...> Any red flags you see with this plan? <As above> Too many fish?  Skip the damsels and find something more passive? <I am not a big fan of the damsels, myself...People always seem to want to get rid of them after a while, so why start with them? That's my philosophy, anyways> If I replaced them with a Yellow Tang, potential trouble with the Blue Tang (Dory)? <I have kept Zebrasoma and Paracanthurus species together before, but it requires a pretty large system...Again- consider the ultimate size of these fishes and their requirements for space...> Thanks again for all your help!  Jim <My pleasure, Jim! Good luck with the tank! Sounds like it's coming along! Keep us posted! Regards, Scott F>

It's a Conspiracy! Hi, <hello! Ryan with you this afternoon> Your help has been great and I thank you!  <And I thank you for reading!>  As I continue my plan I am confused as usual.  My plan calls for a stocking method which allows once cycling is complete and the critters are captive that corals will be next.  My plan is to use self- propagated livestock and tank additions be slowly placed (e.g., one specimen a month at most). <Very good>  This allows the bio load to catch up and more importantly me to catch up in learning curve.  <yes, a slow stocking plan will be of huge benefit.>  Having said all this I am confused that some livestock distributors with great reputations who understand the dynamics of a reef also advertise packages of product at reduced prices (as well as shipping becoming more economical) to encourage purchases of numerous livestock at one time.   <Can be very cost-effective for group buys, multiple tanks even still>  I realize that given enough space quarantining could solve this problem, but my instinct tells me the average consumer will not on these high numbers.  <Yes, the uneducated consumer could easily max out a bioload with an impulse purchase>  I have rambled. Are these packages overstocking at one time or am I all wet?   Thanks in advance.  Sam <In this industry, you've truly got to be a thoughtful consumer.  Not only is your dollar at stake, but the lives of the very animals you want to keep.  Yes, these packages can be dangerous to a bio-load.  Are they purposefully blowing your tank in an effort to make you buy more?  Now that's a conspiracy theory!  Ryan>

Clownfish Question hi there!!!  I have few questions to ask if you don't mind... I have 2 clown anemone fish, may I add another kind of clownfish in my tank?... <no they will fight>  Another is our LFS is selling corals that are already dead (hard), in short this are for display, can I put it inside my tank? will it do any harm w/ my FOWLR tank?.... <I would just purchase regular LR>  I'm really confused about anemone? I heard that healthy anemones will attack other anemone and corals, does this mean that I can't add another anemone or coral once I put an anemone in my tank?.... <some anemones will sting certain corals to death... I suggest you research more before you purchase any corals, etc>   What is the most compatible Butterflyfish with damsel, tangs, and clowns?  <I like Chaetodon Semilarvatus-nice and hardy BF fish>  is there a probability that a bf will eat a damsel, clown, or tang?  <Probably not>  Neway you Guys (and your site) ROCK!!! thanks ?br><you're welcome, IanB>

Stocking a Stocked System (8-20-03) I have the following fish in a 90 gallon tank with 90 lbs live rock: 1 yellow tang 4" 1 Kole tang 3" 2 Clarkii Clowns 3" & 2" 1 Banggai Cardinal 1 six line wrasse 1 arch eye Hawk fish 1 yellow watchman Goby 1 Maiden Goby (he is getting skinny mistake on my part did not know they were hard to feed).  So I have 9 fish the Kole is the meanest. but nothing major fight wise.  I was thinking of adding a flame angle cause I figure he can hold his own.  Do you think this tank is over stocked as is and I should let it be? I do 20 gallon changes 2 times a month.  Chemistry always good.  Thanks Bob, Illy <I would hold off with adding anymore fish until you get a bigger tank as those tangs will need one in the near future.  Cody>

More Electrical & Stocking Questions - 8/19/03 Thanks for the reply.   For what it's worth, the GFI unit I was referring to below you can get at Lowe's, for example.  It looks like the attached (if you can open it), but it has a 6' cord that runs out the bottom and ends, as I mentioned, with a 4 outlet box (which, incidentally, has a circuit breaker in it). <Very cool. Haven't seen such a contraption before, but I do understand its usefulness. Very cool find>   A couple follow-ups if you have the time (if not, that's understandable): 1.  What is the real gripe with extension cords?  <Haven't really heard of one per se>  Do they tend to overheat easily (from having power run through them 24 hours a day)?   <Possible, but I have rarely experienced this> 2.  If one could afford it, would it be advisable to replace say at one year or so intervals a few items such as in-tank power heads and heaters?  <No need>  It seems to me they'll eventually fail over a period of years, so why wait for that potential, which may result in relatively harmless shock even with a GFI?   <Most quality products are made to withstand breakage and provide years of service under normal circumstances (up to ten years or more in some cases)> 3.  Do you think for the 46 gal bow front I referred to the 96 watt light is sufficient for everything but stony corals.  The store person suggested so.  <Wouldn't go that far, but a few of the hardy less light sensitive soft corals. Many zooanthids and mushrooms, and some Nephtheids, Alcyonium, and Lobophyton...... maybe. Do your research before purchasing, and that doesn't mean whatever the store clerk tells you. =)> 4.  There seems to be low regard for the Sea Clone skimmer which I unwittingly bought.  It doesn't fill much with foam but it does collect gunk and recently had a half-inch of green liquid in it.  Can you give a couple alternatives should I upgrade next year and that is, say, under $200.  <CPR BakPak Reef ready, (hang-on the back) and any AquaC product. Use the links here for purchase!> Through the grapevine I hear the AquaC Remora is good?  <Oh yeah. Check through our site and the chat forum for reviews and recommendations. Use this site as a tool, dude =)> 5.  Lastly, I'm thinking of how to stock my tank in a conservative way with as much color as possible (fish-wise).  Again, it's 46 gallons (with 40 pounds of live rock plus 2-3 inches of sand,<Make it 4 inches> which probably displace the water to about 37 gallons).  How would you view the following:  one or two maroon set (or other clown set);   <Maybe> .. a flame angel; a royal Gramma; PLUS combination of the following within a tolerable overall limit:  a Damsel(s) <Nope>, a longnose Hawkfish; a blue hippo tang ; <not sure about this one>   a yellow tang;  <not sure about this one>  a lawnmower blenny.... Just wondering what your sense would be.  Am I off in assuming that from the foregoing list, somewhere between 5-7 fish would be the good limit?  <Totally depends on aggressiveness of chosen fish and ADULT size (not the juvenile size when usually purchased.) All I can say about your prospective inhabitants is I would definitely not do a damsel or in most cases even the clown fish as these are fairly aggressive fishes and perhaps limit future inhabitant choices. Do your research, ask in the forums, and read some books before purchase -Paul oooout!>

Starting Again from Scratch... Ian, Thank you for your help.  <you're very welcome>   Unfortunately, my clown did die as well as two other fish. <sorry to hear of the losses>  I only have a Fourstripe damsel left. <they are tough little buggers>   Time to start over.  <agreed>   My next step is to get a Q tank.  <THIS IS A DEFINITE MUST>   I talked to another specialist, and he told me it was probably ich.  <could have been or some other form of parasitic infection>  He also said I probably should put in one fish at a time, and that I may have to stick with a sturdier fish, since my tank is so small (35 gallons)  What do you think?. <yes, also I would purchase a neon goby or 2... they are excellent cleaner fish. Please stay away from cleaner wrasses. Most die... even though some people get lucky from time to time... same with Regal Angelfish... but I won't get into that right now LOL>   I am going to visit him on Wednesday, and hopefully I will get things going again. <sounds like a plan my friend, good luck and keep me informed on how the Qt aquarium and the new aquarium works out. IanB>

Fridmani Pseudochromis Compatibility - 08/17/06 <Hi Wendy, PF on call tonight> First of all I would like to say that your site is very informative and I love it!! <Thank you much, a lot of people do a lot of hard work on this site, glad it's been helpful.> I was curious to get your opinion on an addition that I would like to make to our 75g bow front tank.  Current residents are: (1) gold striped maroon clown; (1) tank-raised ocellaris clown; (2) Yellow tail Damsels; (1) Bi-color Dwarf Angle; (1) green Chromis; (1) purple starfish; many snails and (3) very small blue-legged hermit crabs.  There are many Tufa rocks and dead corals and several 'silk' plants - so there are lots of hiding spots. My question is... Can we add a tank-raised Fridmani Pseudochromis without any major personality conflicts? Their striking color would make a perfect addition to our system. A little "personality background" may be helpful...  The clowns fought terribly when we added the gold striped, until we separated them for 24 hours.  Now they've divided the tank down the middle and pretty much stay on their own side.  The 2 yellow tailed damsels tend to chase (including me) anyone that comes near their respective coral homes. Although it's all talk, no physical damage is done.  In contrast, our Bi-Color tends to be a 'picker' he likes to pick on occasion at the snails or the starfish once or twice as he swims by - and he is the reason that our skunk cleaner shrimp are not listed as "current residents". He just bugged the heck out of them.  The green Chromis pretty just much swims around oblivious to all around, especially at feeding time.  Thanks in advance for your advice!!  Wendy <Well Wendy, I would switch out one of the clowns for a matching member of the same species (a much smaller one). That way your clown could pair up, it would cut down territoriality across the board. As for the damsels, well, most people I know call them dam(n)sels. They're only going to become more territorial over time. As for the Pseudochromis, it's a gamble. Many are fairly mellow (for Pseudochromis), some are holy terrors. I'd go ahead and try it, but watch them closely. Well Wendy, have a good night, and good luck.>

Purple Haze...? (Should She Add A Pseudochromis)  [Same question, different person answering it.]First of all I would like to say that your site is very informative and I love it!! <Glad to hear that! We're happy to bring the site to you each day! Scott F. at the keyboard...> I was curious to get your opinion on an addition that I would like to make to our 75g bow front tank.  Current residents are: (1) gold striped maroon clown; (1) tank-raised ocellaris Clown; (2) Yellowtail Damsels; (1) Bi-color Dwarf Angel; (1) green Chromis; (1) purple starfish; many snails and (3) very small blue-legged hermit crabs. <Sounds like a nice community!> There are many Tufa rocks and dead corals and several 'silk' plants - so there are lots of hiding spots. My question is... Can we add a tank-raised Fridmani Pseudochromis without any major personality conflicts? Their striking color would make a perfect addition to our system. A little "personality background" may be helpful...  The clowns fought terribly when we added the gold striped, until we separated them for 24 hours.  Now they've divided the tank down the middle and pretty much stay on their own side.  The 2 yellow tailed damsels tend to chase (including me) anyone that comes near their respective coral homes. <Very common behavior for damselfishes. They can be quite territorial> Although it's all talk, no physical damage is done.  In contrast, our Bi-Color tends to be a 'picker' he likes to pick on occasion at the snails or the starfish once or twice as he swims by - and he is the reason that our skunk cleaner shrimp are not listed as "current residents". He just bugged the heck out of them. <Interesting!> The green Chromis pretty just much swims around oblivious to all around, especially at feeding time. Thanks in advance for your advice!! Wendy <Well, Wendy, the Fridmani is certainly an awesome fish, and can be one of the best of the Pseudochromis for a community setup, IMO. They can get a bit scrappy at times, but it sounds like he'll be able to hold his own in your tank, provided that there are enough hiding places and territorial boundaries for everyone. Sometimes, it can be helpful to do some re-arranging of the decor prior to introducing a new fish (particularly one that can be somewhat territorial itself at times). I'd proceed with this addition (following a proper quarantine period, of course!) if you do the "re-decorating" and are prepared to intervene if things get out of hand...Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

Lobster and Pistol Shrimp - 8/17/03 Good evening guys. I am hoping you can answer this question. Can a pistol shrimp (with goby) be in a 90g with a lobster ( not sure if it will be purple or red or blue). <not likely... the lobster will probably be quite territorial> Also can a small (not dwarf) lion be in the same tank with them? <the lion will likely be fine with the lobster if the lobster is large enough (same size or larger). Best regards, Anthony>

Goats and Hawks? <Hello! Ryan with you> Hello. I have a 90g tank and I was wondering if the bicolor goatfish will be o.k. with a longnose hawk since they both seem to get food from the bottom of the tank. Thank you. <Should be fine, just keep a close eye for aggression.  Giving the Hawk some shelves of rock to perch will give him some space of his own.  Good luck!>

Flame Hawk and Cleaner Shrimps Me again Guys, <Morning Stu! Ryan here> I am keen to get hold of a pair of cleaner shrimps to put in my reef tank. How well do they get along with a coral banded shrimp? And will my Flame hawk devour the cleaners, as this guy has in the past guzzled 5 peppermint shrimps in a matter of minutes of putting them in the tank. Will the size of them make them inedible for his mouth? <If the Hawk doesn't eat them, the Coral Banded likely will.  Yes, they are a little larger than a peppermint, but to a hawk, they'll be irresistible.  Best of luck! Ryan> Cheers, Stu

Fish to Get Hey crew,  <Yo, Kevin here> I recently was looking into sharks but, I realized that since I am a teen, I could only afford a smaller one. I was gonna get one but after I added up the cost with a chiller, I couldn't afford one (someday).  <I hear ya, you need an enormous system for sharks>  Well now I am looking into a custom installation (dimensions of around 46x24x32).  <Whoa, guess money isn't that tight!>  I would love to own a beautiful reef aquarium with some live rock. If you would be so kind as to e-mail me back some suggestions of some stunning, breath-taking fish, it would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I have a limited budget...  <You bet you will after having a custom ~120g tank built and set up properly!!!>   ...and I would like 2-4 medium-large size fish, maybe more.  <Keep in mind that this tank is only about 4' long, a bit short for large fish. You would be much better off with a 6' aquarium that is much shallower, for the both the fish and your lighting budget (you will need very powerful lighting to penetrate a 32" deep tank, we don't really recommend much over 24" if you can avoid it). I would suggest that you pick up Bob's book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and Scott Michael's little paperback, Pocket Expert Guide to Marine Fishes. They will give you in depth guidance to what size tank these fish will require. That said, in this tank as it stands, I'd recommend at most 2 nice tangs (with different body shapes and color, for example a purple tang and a hippo/regal tang) as your show fish. Pick out a nice Centropyge angel if you're willing to risk a little coral munching, and there are far too many nice gobies, wrasses, and Anthias to even begin to describe. Peruse through the aforementioned books and WetWebMedia's vast array of marine fish articles and develop a potential stocking list for this tank and hit us back with it for comment. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks a million in advance!  six month reader, Ryan

Sohal Tangs and Ribbon Eels... ughhh. - 8/15/03 Hi there, <howdy> Thank you for your advice.  There are a couple of questions your response raises for me.  It was not my intention to subject any animal to a limited suffering existence.   <understood... but we do see many such people well-intended but poorly informed making bad decisions that lead to the same dismal statistics. Relying on LFS advice primarily or to exclusion is not prudent. However good they might be... they are still trying to sell you something.> I only took the ribbon eel after hearing the LFS had been keeping 2 of them successfully for some time (over 3 years), and witnessing this one eat.  If nutritional deficiency is the demon I have to deal with... how best to minimize the issue? <the answer is not clearly known... that's why this fish in part has such a very poor reputation. It eats but still suffers from attrition in time for most. Your best bet is to try to offer an extremely varied diet based on known natural habits> After all... the fish (for better or worse) is now in my tank, and cannot be returned.   <alas... this is the kind of mail we answer too often> He currently receives a diet of squid, silversides and shrimp soaked in Chloe (a vitamin supplement).   <please consider Selcon in addition to or instead of your Chloe... and also read the page on ribbon eels thoroughly at fishbase.org (natural history, feeding, sexing, etc)> He was weaned to this diet from one of almost exclusively ghost shrimp.  Also... you indicate the eel is a poor choice for my community of predators... if I am to set up a species tank... how best to optimize for the ribbon eel?  Substrate?  Size?  Etc. <the concern being that the eel with suffer stress from the unnatural activity in the narrow confines of a crowded aquarium even if (assuming) the tankmates do not harass it. Prolonged stress adds up> Please understand... this is not an attempt to justify my original choice. I am only trying to do the best I can given the current situation. <understood my friend. Do research the natural history and habitat of this creature and simulate its niche> The second question I have is about your negative reaction to the Sohal tang as an aquarium fish.  After reading Dr. Fenner's article here and the other FAQ's ... there seems to be a genuine disagreement about this fish. <quite true...> For example: Fenner: "This fish has much going for it; good looks, ready food acceptance, disease resistance, active, interesting behavior. The only negative I would have applied to it in years past is "expense"; but no longer... Acanthurus sohal is still not cheap, but well worth the investment in terms of beauty and longevity."  "Though some open-ocean surgeons approach two feet in length, the Sohal generally max's (SIC) out at about eight inches in captivity"  "Don't be dissuaded (out of hand) by the price of Red Sea specimens for your marine system. Most are well worth the extra cost. The Sohal tang is one prime example. Almost all imported specimens thrive; and they're gorgeous. The best of their family? You must decide for yourself" <I would agree with all of this exactly as it is stated here. But to then apply it to your soon to be overstocked aquarium, and with consideration for its aggressive nature and your ribbon eels very passive disposition... I still feel the choice is poor beyond unnatural> It seems many people make the choice to pursue ownership of this seemingly highly recommended tang based on Dr. Fenner's article (Bob's a doc?), and then, when questions arise before or after purchase, get seemingly contradictory reprimands for considering (or buying) "a public aquarium sized specimen" that is doomed to failure in anything but a swimming pool of an aquarium. This leaves many of us confused.   <as described above, we share advice and opinions based on case by case situations. And this is further amplified by the fact that we are each/all free-thinking individuals with many different experiences. This is not the Stepford crew ;) > Personally, I will err on the side of caution and pass up ownership (given my particular tank... this seems wise in any case). <agreed> But I will tell you... it is disconcerting to read a glowing recommendation... and at the next moment, told something totally different. <I do believe you are reading more into the matter than there really is... or at least without consideration for the fact that situations and opinions can honestly vary.> Is there, in fact, a difference of opinion on this fish?   <to answer your question from my point of view. I don't think so... not much at least. Sohals are hardy, beautiful, aggressive and fantastic fishes for any aquarium of a proper size and with proper mates. Few fishes are aggressive enough to hang with an adult Sohal. Few home aquariums are big enough to house them. Even if yours only approaches a foot in length (half size)... that means that because of poor husbandry it has been stunted... and if that weren't true... it still would not change the fact that its residence will not be much wider than it is long. I do not call that conscientious aquarium-keeping> If so, perhaps the article should contain both sides of the issue. <we are an all-volunteer site... completely free. We get several hundred e-mails weekly and struggle just to maintain the site at times. It is enormous. We rely on intelligent aquarists to simply read through our FAQs, articles and archives at large and take them into consideration with other research to make their own informed decision based on an intelligent consensus. I ask you to do the same.> Anyway.... again... thank you for your time!! Frank <best regards, Anthony>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: