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FAQs about Small Marine System Livestocking 14 

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Related FAQs: Small Marine System Livestocking 1, Small Marine System Stocking 2, Small Marine Stocking 3Small Marine Stocking 4, Small Marine Stocking 5, Small Marine Stocking 6, Small Marine Stocking 7, Small Marine Stocking 8, Small Marine Stocking 9, Small Marine Stocking 10, Small Marine Stocking 11, Small Marine Stocking 12, Small Marine Stocking 13Small Marine Stocking 15, & Cnidarians for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Small Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes and More for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Blennies, -oids for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Damsels, Clownfishes for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Dwarf Dwarf Angels of the Genus Centropyge by Bob Fenner, Jawfishes Suitable for Small Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, Little Basses for Small Systems by Bob Fenner,

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1:
Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2:

New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
Book 3:

New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Canthigaster Compatibility, and stocking a 40    10/4/11
Hello WWM Crew,
I want to run a potential stocking list by you real quick. I am trying to build a tank (on a budget) around a Canthigaster puffer, and around the space and equipment I have. The spot that the tank is going to go isn't going to accommodate anything bigger than 36" long and about 16-18" deep, height isn't a restriction. I'm considering either a 30 breeder, 40 breeder, 50 gal or 65 tall. Price wise, the 40 breeder is the best option, I can pick one up for 40 bucks right now, I can build a stand and canopy on my own fairly cheap and I believe I already have enough filtration, I am going to use an Emperor Biowheel 400 in combination with a Marineland H.O.T. Magnum that I already have for filtration, this tank is going to be FOWLR, so I'm not overly concerned about lighting, I'll probably just try to pick up a basic LED system for around a hundred bucks or so, and add on a HOB skimmer. I'm a little concerned about the filtration set up not being sufficient, I'd like to use a drilled tank with a wet/dry setup, but budget wont allow that, so I'm leaning towards understocking, besides the Canthigaster (Considering Papua, Solandri, or Valentini) I'm trying to add as much as possible visually while limiting the additional bioload. I'm thinking of adding a Centropyge Angel (leaning heavily towards bispinosa or loriculus)
<Neither in a forty>
for color and for movement I'm considering a small group of something flashy, either a trio of Pseudanthias,
of a larger group (6-9)
<Uhh, no>
of Chromis Viridis
<Maybe three>
to round out the tank. I'm not sure about clean up crew, the Toby might rip apart any invert I add to the tank,
I'm still tempted to add a few cheep inverts and feed the Toby well and just see what happens, If the particular Toby I get happens to like the inverts I'm thinking of using a lawnmower blenny to help with algae removal.
<Mmm, could start w/ a small one... but 50 gallons is about a minimum...>
Fr the live rock I'm leaning towards branching coral skeletons, Chromis seem to like that and it will add lots of interesting places for the Toby to explore as well as lots of escape routs/hiding places in case I happen to
get an overly boisterous Toby... Does anything about this proposed setup raise a red flag for you?
<See above>
Do you have any suggestions to improve it, or would you do anything differently? Thanks!
<Do read through all our archived files on the Canthigastrinae please; as well as any species you're interested in co-stocking. Bob Fenner>

Fu Manchu Lionfish compatibility... in an already over- and mis-stocked 29 gal.!?    9/28/11
<Hi there>
I have a 29 gallon Nano tank that has a huge sebae anemone (around 15 inches in diameter)
<Needs more room than this>
that has a Clarkii clownfish hosting it. It also has a small Tomini tang,
<I see a smallish Z. flavescens in your pic; not a Ctenochaetus>
small yellow tang,
<Oh, in addn. These need more room as well>
and a medium sized four stripe damsel. When we first put the anemone in this tank it was about 3 inches in diameter and has thrived, which is why we haven't moved it to a larger tank. We have several other tanks but this tank is our bad behavior tank that we like to call Alcatraz. We bought a Fu Manchu lionfish and he is about 3 inches. We are trying to figure out which tank he would work best it.
We are concerned with the compatibility of the lionfish with the huge anemone and with the damsel in this tank.
<You should be>
The damsel is very mean and has attempted and succeeded at murdering just about any other fish we've tried to add to this tank except for the two tangs and the Clarkii and they chase him. Do you think the lionfish can hold his own against the 4 stripe damsel?
Do you think the lionfish will be able to stay out of the anemone?
<Not likely either>
Also, what happens if any of the fish attack the lionfish? Will it be poisonous to them?
<Possibly if the fish dies>
(FYI: The cup in the picture is a trap with food in it to attempt (haha) to catch the damsel.)
<Bigger worlds for what you list... Bob Fenner>

29G Fowlr stocking suggestions   9/11.5/11
I have had my 29g Fowlr for over a year now and I have learned a ton!
Currently my set up includes.
Eclipse 3 hood (I run it without the bio wheel)
2 Koralia power heads
Eheim Ecco canister filter (rated for 80g)
30 lbs LR
2 Ocellaris clowns
1 chalklet bass
10 hermits (unidentified tiny things)
6 Astrea snails
1 emerald crab
plenty of Botryocladia sp.
Now I know my tank is pretty stocked for a 29g, but I feel I must have one more fish to swim around. Most people think I don't actually have any fish after the first glance. What would make a good free swimmer/ centerpiece for this community?
<I wouldn't add another fish here... temperamentally you're all filled up.>
all suggestions are appreciated thanks!
Jacob Gisler
<Bob Fenner>

Tomato Clown Growth 9/7/11
Howdy, crew.
<Hello Dustin>
I think I can preface this by saying that my question today will probably generate answers that tend to be generalizations rather than concrete expectations, but I'm curious (and have a moment), so I thought I'd give it a shot.
I've had a pair of Tomato Clownfish now in a 30 gallon system for about 3 months. They were pretty small when purchased, though were lacking the three stripes typically seen on juveniles, so I assumed they were at least a little ways beyond this stage (maybe 1.5 inches in length). They fought and fought, as was expected while establishing dominance, and continued to freak me out on a daily basis when new fin damage would appear after their struggles (I kept in eye on them and buffed up their food with Vita-Chem and added some variety in their diet, hoping the nutritional boost would aid in recovery). Surely enough, over the last three weeks, they have healed completely. They're currently being fed a good pellet food (name escapes me), Cyclop-eeze, and enriched Mysis on a rotating basis.
Though one has clearly established dominance over the other, the size difference is hard to see unless you are looking for it. My previous experience with clowns was with two Perculas, but they came as a pair and one was noticeably larger from the beginning. I read the article on WWM entitled "Clowns of the Tomato Complex", but didn't see any information on this. I was curious as to typical growth rates in Tomato Clowns, and how significant the size difference usually becomes in a mated pair? These fish are aquacultured, so I figured that may have an impact on their growth rates as opposed to wild caught specimens.
<As you state, will be a generalization. Growth rate depends largely on nutrition, water quality, and
volume of tank. In general, providing proper conditions/nutrition exists, growth rate is quite fast among clownfish.
The size difference in mated pairs should be easily noticed.>
Thanks for once again satisfying my curiosity,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
re: Tomato clown growth, stkg. a 40    9/10/11

Ah, very good...that's sort of what I had anticipated. I know that wild-caught specimens can grow up to 5 inches. Is this the same for aquacultured?
<Yes; though seemingly a bit slower... might be that they almost always start much smaller than wild-caught>
The water quality is great in the current system; in fact, no measurable phosphates/nitrates (which I'm currently working on correcting to allow at least some) are present. I'm also hoping to soon acquire a 75g tank, so I'll be interested to see how they fare both in growth and behavior once they have a little more territory.
<And you, BobF>
re: Tomato clown growth   9/10/11

One last question on the note about my clowns...my new tank is actually going to be a 40g breeder instead of a 75g (had a little convincing to do on the part of the wife). It's actually drilled (unusual for a 40,
<Mmm, not really>
so I'm adding a sump to increase the water volume/stability. I'm hoping for an opinion on my stocking, mainly so I know I'm not crowding, which I've definitely done in my Biocube 29. The livestock is as follows:
2 Tomato Clowns
1 Rose BTA (I know this size is still not ideal, but it's roughly twice the footprint of its current home)
1 Coral Beauty
<Not a good idea to crowd in here>
1 Yellow Watchman and his Randall's Pistol shrimp.
2 small Zoa colonies
1 large GSP colony
1 Trachyphyllia
1 Kenya Tree
And yes, the softies will be kept far from the SPS and LPS.
<Not too far... this system is small>
I'm hoping the larger footprint of this tank will afford some more comfort to its inhabitants than the current setup (I figure the actual display volume in the Biocube 29 is really only around 24-25 gallons).
Also, though this tank is drilled, it has only a single outlet (which is fine, with me, as I'm adding a back drop and don't mind piping the returns behind and over the tank). I'm planning on taking the CPR SR3 out of the BC 29 and adding it to the sump of the new tank. This should suffice for a 40, right?
<W/ proper maint.>
Also, can you point me in the direction of your plumbing/sump articles?
<... the search tool... indices: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm 
second tray/item down...>
Once I get the diameter of the drilled hole, I need to find out it's flow rate to the sump, so I can adequately plan the return. Electronics are old hat to me, but plumbing (especially a tank) is brand new, so I'd love
to read one of your posts regarding plumbing a sump (which I'm planning to use part of as a refugium, for the sake of biological diversity).
<There's a bunch t/here. B>
Thanks again,
re: Tomato clown growth   9/10/11

Thanks for the quick response and the link. You noted after listing my Coral Beauty that it's not a good idea to crowd in there...are there typically territorial bouts between dwarf angels and clowns?
Perhaps its because of the close quarters, but they don't show any signs of aggression to each other right now. Or were you suggesting that with the adult size of the clowns that I'm better off with just them and the goby?
<This as well>
If it's a territorial issue, I suppose I can only observe and keep an open mind about returning the CB if problems arise. If it's a crowding issue, I'll just go ahead and do that sooner rather than later. In either case, is there a smaller fish that could likely coexist peacefully with a clown pair in a 40? I've read that Royal Grammas tend to but heads with them, and damsels are too closely related to get along.
<See WWM re stocking small marine systems. B>

War     8/30/11
Hi Crew,
24 gallon Aquapod with LPS and T5 lighting. I have a light green Frogspawn that until recently looked very compact almost like broccoli.
I have it about a year. The Acan has been next to it for a few months.
A week or two after I took this picture it sent out some sweepers and zapped a few heads of the Acan on the right.
<No pic attached>
I moved the Acan away
<Mmm, not enough space here to move it away>
and that space is empty. Now the sweepers are getting longer, about 4 inches, and soon they may reach the brain (Trachyphyllia).
Any way to calm this guy down besides removing everything.
<Not really, no. Best to remove it, place in a larger established system>
<Welcome. BobF>
Sam, did find the pic. B

Left to right: Euphyllia, Acan, Trachy

BTA behavior   8/4/11
Good morning, crew.
I'm writing today to inquire about some behavior in my rose bubble tip that seems counter-intuitive to everything that I've read about them.
I've had the specimen in my system for about two months now. It is being hosted by a pair of tomato clowns, and came firmly attached to a large piece of rubble. The retailer had him in a shallow tank with a relatively low level of T-5 lighting.
To properly acclimate him, I used the drip method. To insure the BTA didn't bleach (I'm using pretty strong LEDs), I placed it's rock on the sandbed and gradually moved it up. When I got it to the position I wanted it (about half-way up the tank), I left it. My system parameters are pristine, with a SG of 1.026, 0 nitrates/nitrites/ammonia, 0 phosphates, <... this animal needs some/measurable NO3, HPO4>
temperature drops to 79 at night and gradually rises to a hair under 81 during the day. The BTA has been eating a varied diet of vitamin enriched frozen silversides and krill, being fed every three to four days.
My question concerning its behavior is this: why, in a spot with more PAR (measured at about 320 where it is), is it expanding more than where the lighting was less intense?
<Driven photosynthesis>
Everything I've read seems to indicate that BTA's will expand more to make better use of the available light,
<Up to a point; saturation... and/or limits of nutrient availability, other factors>
but in just two months, it has gone from about 2 inches inflated and expanded to about 7 inches. It didn't seem likely that it had simply grown this much.
<Mmm, nope; just inflation, more water>
Thank you for satisfying my curiosity.
<Hope I have. Otherwise you might enjoy and gain by reading: http://wetwebmedia.com/BTABehF3.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
re: BTA behavior   8/4/11

Thank, Crew, for the response. You mentioned that bubble tip's need a small, measurable amount of nitrate and phosphate (as I have been told about many organisms, including various soft corals).
<Mmm; yes; most all photosynthates>
What's a good method for maintaining control of this while allowing a small amount of nutrients to exist in the system?
<Just to not be too fastidious re "maintenance", cut back on, eschew the use of chemical filtrants>
I have a Biocube 29,
<Mmm, really too small for Entacmaea>
running a CPR SR3 skimmer in the middle compartment, a bag of Chemi-Pure Elite and a bag of Purigen. Am I just overdoing it on the filtration?
<Yes... I'd at least allow these chemical units to "get olde"; only replace every two-three months>
The bio-load isn't too heavy right now, as my fish include only the two juvenile Tomato Clownfish (each around 2 inches in length) and a Coral Beauty that is about 3 inches. My cleaning crew is 3 Peppermint Shrimp, 1 Skunk Cleaner, 3 Ceriths, 3 Astreas, 2 Nassarius snails, and 12 hermits (a mix of red and blue legged). I have 2-2.5 inch shallow sand bed, and about 25lbs of live rock for additional biological filtration.
Does it seem plausible that I could do without the chemical filtration?
<Not likely, no; with the amount, kinds of life here in such a small volume>
Would that be likely to allow a lower, reasonable amount of nutrients to remain in the tank?
<Not likely so, no>
I also have a small amount of Stylophora and a single Trachyphyllia specimen...would they be negatively affected by allowing my Nitrate levels to rise to around 3-4ppm?
<They would not be; however the presence of other compounds produced by the Cnidarians here might lead to allelopathogenic effects. See WWM re mixing:
and/or the linked files above, a search re the species you're dealing w/>
Thank you again,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re-Thinking Stocking Options -- 09/28/11

Howdy Crew,
<<Hey there Dustin>>
Just wrote for more of an appraisal than anything else today.
In my effort to become a more conscientious marine aquarist (hey, that sounds familiar! I guess I owe Bob 5 cents now),
<<He also accepts beer [grin]>><Yes I do. B<
I've decided to drastically rethink my stocking list for the new setup I'm starting.
I'm moving from a currently overstocked BioCube 29 to a 40 gallon breeder with a 29 gallon sump/refugium
(biggest sump I can fit in my stand)
<<Will still help'¦if only to provide a place for mechanicals>>
, in an attempt to get my total volume over 60 gallons.
<<Good move>>
I'll be running about a 3.5" aragonite sand bed in the display, an AquaC Urchin Pro for a skimmer
(or do you think I should go with their EV series?)
<<Up to you'¦the Urchin should serve>>
, a Miracle Mud based refugium (for a little biological diversity) culturing Chaetomorpha. The sump will be fed through a 1" bulkhead (considering expanding to 1.5") through a Durso standpipe
<<Mmm'¦while being a good addition, adding the 1.5' Durso to a 1' bulkhead/plumbing still means you have a 1' drain capacity>>
, and fed back into the tank through an Eheim pump.
<<Excellent choice>>
I'll be using a flare nozzle on the return, and two Korallias on a Wavemaker for additional, intermittent flow.
<<Sounds good>>
I'm in the process of trading/selling my current livestock of 2 Tomato clowns, a Coral Beauty, and my Rose Anemone
<<An overstocked 29g indeed!>>
, as well as a handful of soft corals (Zoa's mostly). I want to do a mostly peaceful tank community, with mostly SPS with the exception of an open brain coral or two, and a Derasa Clam.
I want to distance myself from allelopathic effects as much as possible, ergo, no softies or anemones.
<<Wise'¦in such small volumes>>
I wanted to run my current stocking plans by you.
One pair of tank-raised Ocellaris clowns
One Six-line Wrasse (tank has a canopy)
One Yellow Watchman Goby with a Randall's Pistol Shrimp.
Assorted cleaners (peppermint shrimp, red-legged hermits, snails, etc)
Once well established, I'd like to swap out the goby/shrimp for a green Mandarin Dragonet, if you think that's feasible.
<<Go with the 'tank-bred' specimens now available and this should be fine>>
My only SPS as of right now is a large frag/small colony (can't decide which description fits it best) of Stylophora. My lighting will consist of 2 AI Nanos, which AI assures me will provide enough light for SPS and clams, provided they're mounted properly.
<<As in 'close to the water's surface' no doubt (Change may be on the horizon, but I'm still a fan of MH where high light intensity is required)>>
I'd also like to add some Montipora down the road, and maybe some Porites.
What say you on this? Should all of these guys play nicely together?
<<It looks like you have planned a very sustainable system>>
Much obliged,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Rethinking Stocking Options -- 09/29/11

<<Hey Dustin>>
Thanks for the reply; it was a significant confidence boost.
<<My pleasure'¦and kudos to you for just taking the time to plan out your new system>>
If the Ocellaris proved to be too aggressive, my backup plan was a pair of reef
Chromis (whichever is less testy towards its tank mates).
<<In small volumes, the clowns can be real terrors'¦the 40 is likely borderline re'¦but the Sixline can likely hold its own'¦and if the goby and clowns take up residence at opposite ends'¦>>
I did want to clarify my previous statement about using the Durso standpipe. What I meant was, I currently have a 1" bulkhead and I am considering getting it drilled larger for a 1.5" (tank is empty for the planning stages), but will be using the appropriately sized standpipe either way.
I've seen a lot of people taking shots at 1" bulkheads
<<Indeed'¦ Mainly taking issue with tank manufacturers who drill one or even two throughputs for 1' bulkheads and then touting the systems as 'MegaFlow.' There's nothing inherently 'wrong' with using a 1' bulkhead'¦hobbyist just need to understand the flow/drain limitations (300gph gravity drain) when doing so. If this fits in to your 'plan,' then by all means go with the 1' drain>>
, but didn't really know if the additional flow of a 1.5" would be necessary in this system, all else considered.
<<I prefer to use other methods (e.g. -- propeller pumps) for creating flow within a display, rather than relying on the sump return pump for this. Especially so with smallish systems like you described. Two or three times the tank volume through the sump; and again, especially small sumps, will create fewer headaches (noise, micro-bubbles, etc.) to deal with. Of course if drilling the larger bulkhead is a small matter, then go ahead and do it'¦you can still keep the flow to a minimum as outlined, but the redundant flow capacity certainly won't hurt and will facilitate dealing with the issues mentioned>>
For a point of reference, all I'm adding to the Durso's intake is a strainer (no sponge)
<<This will still limit flow to some extent>>
, and it is emptying straight down into my sump; no horizontal runs or 90 degree turns.
<<Makes little difference re the drain capacity of a given throughput>>
This is my first sump setup, so I'm trying to keep the plumbing simple.
<<I don't foresee any problems as long as you understand and factor in the drain capacity of the chosen bulkhead fitting. Do have a read here if you haven't already (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BulkheadFloRateArt.htm)>> 
<<Be chatting'¦ EricR>>

RBTA Help Please/Entacmaea quadricolor/Systems/Behavior/Recipe For Disaster 8/2/11
Dear Wet Web Media,
<Hello James>
First I would like to thank you for your help and splendid website.
<You're welcome.>
I have searched all over the internet and all over your site and I can't find any information in regards to my Rose Bubble Tip Anemone.
<Is the same as Entacmaea quadricolor, just a different color variation.>
To provide some background information I have a 12 gallon JBJ Nano cube.
<Much too small for this anemone.>
It has been set up for 5 months now. In it is 20lbs of live sand, 20 lbs of live rock, 6-8 Scarlet Reef Hermits, 5 Astrena <Astrea> Snails, 1 Turbo Snail, 5-6 different mushrooms, 4 different Zoa colonies, a Kenya Tree, a Duncan, a Maze Brain frag, a Brown Birdsnest frag, a small Peppermint Shrimp, A large Cleaner Shrimp, a Coral Beauty Angelfish,
<Too small a volume for this fish as well.>
and 2 False Percula Clown Fish (who host in the Duncan), and I recently added a RBTA. My wife and I were given 2 RBTA but we kept the smaller and traded the other. As far as I can tell its tentacles bubble up really well and it looks healthy, except for the fact that it is not centered on its foot, and on one side it has some purple frilly stuff coming out from the bottom and it also has yellow stretch marks on it. I know my water parameters are not the best but they are improving.
My nitrates <20,
<Too high.>
nitrite 0, alkalinity 300, ph 8.2 I acclimated the anemone for well over 2 hours, and it has attached itself to the rock near the bottom of the tank. I haven't fed it yet, but it expelled some brown pellet looking balls earlier today. I am nervous because I am still new to the hobby. I don't know if it is splitting or if it is sick. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
<Is a normal reaction when moved to a new environment. I suggest trading the BTA or find an acceptable home for it. Your system is much too small for success with this animal, and all other Cnidarians will be at risk should the BTA decide to move, and likely it will. When the BTA dies, if unnoticed, you will assuredly have a complete wipe out....not worth the risk.
Please read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm
Thanks For all of your help!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Oops, sorry Jamie for addressing you as James. My oversight and you can call me Jamie if you would like. :-)
James (Salty Dog)

Re RBTA Help Please/Entacmaea quadricolor/Systems/Behavior/Recipe For Disaster 8/2/11- 8/3/11
Not a problem I go by either. But my real question was, what are the yellow stress or stretch lines on the anemone, and also the purple frilly stuff coming out of the bottom (is that it growing another foot?)?
<The "stress" lines are likely wrinkles, the anemone is deflated somewhat.
Not growing a foot but may be debris from a previous anchor or the anemone may have been injured when it was removed from your dealer's tank. Not enough resolution in the image to discern.>
Also, you said "when it dies", are you implying that the animal is sick now, or it will die someday?
<No, not sick now but very likely will not adapt to the environment it is presently in.
Do keep a close eye on it if you decide on keeping it.>
<<Is dying; quite quickly... RMF>>
hanks again for your prompt responses. The link that you recommended was very informative.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re RBTA Help Please/Entacmaea quadricolor/Systems/Behavior/Recipe For Disaster  8/4/11
My plans are to keep it until it splits, I do not feel comfortable trying to peel it off the rock that it is attached to because I fear that I will tear the foot. I have see a few people with RTBA in a 12g or smaller tank and it was doing just fine.
Thanks again for your help!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

quarantine   7/23/11
Dear Crew,
A quick question - thank you ahead of time. I have a 6 month old 10 gallon reef tank. Inhabitants are a few soft corals, 3 hermit crabs, 2 snails and 1 skunk cleaner shrimp. In 5 days I am "expecting" my first fish - 2 green-banded gobies, plus 2 Nassarius snails and a pom pom crab. I have read through most of the quarantine info on your site and my apologizes if I somehow missed the info I seek. I can set up a 5 gallon quarantine tank with sponge filter, etc as you recommend.
<Mmm, I'd just acclimate these animals perfunctorily and place in the ten>
But. if one of the purposes of a quarantine tank is to reduce stress wouldn't it be less stressful for my
new creatures to go directly (after acclimating, of course,) into my fishless system with great water, hiding places, etc?
I understand that if I observe that they are ill I would remove them. Would you recommend this? Also,
because I'll have 2 tiny new fish, a crab and 2 snails do I need 3 quarantine tanks? What would you suggest? My best to all of you for your help. Janet
<Thank you... just drip acclimate and place straight away in the main/display tank. As you state, there is little to be gained by having an intermediate stop w/ these species. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Saltwater fish tank questions, Stocking 7/14/11
Hello, I have recently changed my bio cube from a temporary home to a baby snowflake eel to a reef simulation tank. I want to stack the liverock with a sudden drop off in the front with powerheads on the side to simulate a real reef environment. The tank has stock lights and I believe it is 36 watts.
It may be more though because there are three different lights in it. If you knew the info on the Biocube 29 stock lights,
<Generally it is 2 36 watt bulbs.>
(tank specs 1.024 salinity, 2 inch deep sand, liverock, and good water quality which is checked weekly
The tank is five months old.) that would be greatly appreciated I have been searching for it for quite a while. I do know that they are strong enough to keep a pink tip anemone alive for a month until I traded it to a friend and a pulsing xenia alive and pulsing as well. Ok, so in your opinion, which of the three following stockings would be best to go with?
Some purple mushrooms
1 Ocellaris Clownfish
1 Peppermint Shrimp
1 Pom Pom Crab
<These generally do not do well in captivity.>
A few small reef hermits
Sea star
<Serpent stars do much better than most starfish, which have a dismal survival rate.>
pistol shrimp
Flame Angelfish
<Needs a bigger tank.>
Other Some purple mushrooms
2 Ocellaris Clownfish one orange one black
some reef hermits
1 Peppermint shrimp
1 Cleaner Shrimp
1 Pom Pom Crab
1 Longnose Hawkfish
<Needs a bigger tank.>
1 sea star
Which of these is best for me?
<I think there are issues with both.>
I want colorful fish and quite a bit of them but is this a bad stock?
<Some is inappropriate for your sized tank.>
Which is best? any substitutions? Please give me your expert opinion I tried a fish stock calculator it was useless.
<They usually are.>
Thanks a lot WetWebMedia!
Re: Saltwater fish tank questions, Stocking 7/14/11

So what can be removed or substituted from this list to make it a better final stock?
<"Sea Star" is very general so it's difficult to say if it would work in a small tank like yours or not, it depends on the species. The Hawkfish and angel both need a tank twice as large as you have currently, the Hawkfish will also eat your shrimp eventually.>
I really want all of these fish my lfs and experienced saltwater tank owning friend all say it is time to add more fish as it feels so empty.
<Marine tanks are not going to be nearly as heavily stocked as freshwater, in a 29 Cube you are looking at 3 to 4 small fish.>
At the moment, it has a sea star, yellow watchman Goby, ocellaris clownfish, peppermint shrimp, and a pistol shrimp plus a cleanup crew. The only thing that swims around is the clown.
<If this was my tank I'd add another clown and that's it. The tank is too small for much else.>
How about this setup? If anything here won't work, please, write what you would substitute it with.
1 ocellaris clown, 1 Longnose Hawkfish, 1 yellow watchman Goby, and 1 flame angel
<The Hawkfish and angel will not work in this sized tank. There are many more appropriate fish that would work here. See here for more. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm >

Chocolate Chip Starfish   7/6/11
My daughter embarked on the journey of a salt water aquarium. We didn't know much about much about aquariums as our only encounter with fish have only been at the local public Aquarium or at the dinner table so we relied heavily on the information given to us at the local Tropical Fish Store.
<At times, good; others...>
They gave us general knowledge that we thought was enough to get us started as they advised us to get a 10 gallon tank
<It's very hard, exceedingly, for even "advanced aquarists" to successively keep such small marine systems... Too unstable, prone to issues...>
for the type of fish that she desired.
They informed us the type of fish she desired were hearty fish and would be nice starter fish for a 15 year old to maintain with only 15% water change 1 per month.
She would be an expert in no time.
<Not likely at all... Too much so that she would become disappointed, give up... A VERY common fate in our interest>
She named them before we actually purchased them. "Chocolate Chip Starfish" named "Cecil" and a bright orange Clown Fish named "Sebastian"
The salesmen at the store were extremely nice as they lead us through each step. Step-up of the aquarium, making sure the water levels were perfect before bring the fish home, we set up the tank as instructed with daily checks of the water level until they said it was safe to add the fish.
We bought the fish and took them home. We added the fish to their new home with 45 minutes of getting them home as instructed by the salesmen.
The fish were fine from April until June. Sebastian swam all about the aquarium around and around. Swimming faster when the light was turned on, playful like and Cecil moved about the tank climbing the walls, putting his little limbs to the top of the water. We even thought it would climb out of the tank,
<A sign...>
although it has a lid. Peace and harmony. We took water samples to the local tropical fish star about every 2 weeks. They assured us the water levels were fine, PH was fine; ammonia was low,
<Has to be 0.0... any present is debilitating>
nitrates under control.
Then during Memorial Day weekend my daughter decided that Sebastian was lonely and needed a friend. So off to the local fish store we went...
"Bartholomew" another orange came home with us. He was not as bright as Sebastian and a little smaller.
<This system is too small...>
I hadn't noticed how much Sebastian had grown in the small time that we had him.
Within 2 days my daughter noticed that the 2 clown fish were never near each other. Sebastian resorted to remaining in the lower 1/8 of corner of the tank mostly under a little bridged décor; while Bartholomew swam most of the rest of the aquarium.
She found Bartholomew on the bottom of the aquarium on the 3 day. His eyes were all filmed over. We removed him from the tank and took him back to the fish store for an explanation of what happened. The salesman informed us that the fish was stressed, possible because he was smaller than the other clown fish or possibly because he was not the exact species as the other clownfish thus; they may have been territorial causing too much stress. He now has informed us that clown fish as extremely aggressive and sometimes become confused when there is only 2 of them, stating that maybe we should have stuck with either 1 of them or 3 but for the size of our tank 2 was the most we should put in there.
<Not so>
This was confusing... So we turned to the internet
that night. Reading all about clownfish, NOTE: we should have done this prior to going to the fish store... Lesson learned. Sebastian died that night. 1 day after Bartholomew.
Cecil was still doing fine; moving all about the 10 gallon tank. Now the salesman has informed us that the clownfish possible died because the sudden changes in water temperatures as the weather is hot one day and cooler the next so he sold us a water-heater, "Please get water between 84 and 86 degrees." Use this sand cleaner at the next time you do the 15% water change.
Cecil was fine; still moving about the tank.
4 days after Sebastian died; we noticed some darkening of the sand in the area where we found Bartholomew. The spot grew bigger, wider; along the edge bottom right edge of the aquarium.
So she cleaned the sand.
Now Cecil is not moving about the tank. He is lethargic. We bought him some brine shrimp and put him on it as instructed by the local fish store salesman. Now we realize how not knowledgeable the salesmen really are so we resort again to the internet.
<Some times useful, others...>
Last night we noticed, Cecil has a small clear bubble on one of his limbs, it almost looks like a clear blister. My daughter pressed it and it seemly went away; this morning it's back. Cecil has barely moved in 3 days. Today my daughter wants to do a deep cleaning of the aquarium; hoping to remove any bacterium that was left by the ill clownfish. Please let us know what you would suggest.
<That you talk with your daughter, have her read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ccstardisfaqs.htm
after you do... The ten gallon won't work for this "touchy" species; nor for most any saltwater selections commonly offered in the trade...>
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm
scroll down to "Small Systems"... peruse the articles linked there, and the many Small System Stocking FAQs files... You will find your situation is not uncommon. Bob Fenner>

Centropyge flavicauda tank size 6/27/11
<<Hi Tyler.>>
I have a 14 gallon BioCube mixed reef with LPS and some mushrooms, and I was hoping I could add one Centropyge flavicauda.
I have a few years experience, including experience with a Nano reef.
<<I would not, though 2.5" is still common, this fish can attain 3" and being a Centropyge it needs more live rock and surface area to swim and "browse" in the long term. Even for the smaller Centropyges, I usually recommend against them in anything less than a 40 gallon breeder with as much live rock to forage on and "patrol.">>
In terms of other critters, I only have one other fish: A small and inactive Flametail blenny, one of the few CB flametails from MACNA XXI.
There are also 3 blue leg hermit crabs in the aquarium. Thanks for all the work you do and the excellent advice on your website!
<<Thank you and you are welcome in turn. Good luck.>>
<<Adam J.>>
Centropyge flavicauda Tank Size (Much more than 14g.) -- 06/30/11

<<Hey Tyler>>
I have a 14 gallon BioCube mixed reef with LPS and some mushrooms, and I was hoping I could add one Centropyge flavicauda.
<<Mmm'¦not in 'my' opinion>>
I have a few years experience, including experience with a Nano reef.
<<This system is simply 'too small' for this fish. While being one of the smaller dwarf angels, these fishes still need a minimum volume of 40 gallons in my estimation and experience. These are active fishes that will decline and/or develop abhorrent behaviors in a too small system>>
In terms of other critters, I only have one other fish: A small and inactive Flametail blenny, one of the few CB flametails from MACNA XXI. There are also 3 blue leg hermit crabs in the aquarium.
<<Considering the size of this system, current stocking, and the long-term good health re'¦you are pretty much 'full up' in my opinion>>
Thanks for all the work you do and the excellent advice on your website!
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

30g "reef" fish stock list   5/31/11
First, let me say thanks in advance for the help. Your site is amazing and your dedication and attention are greatly appreciated.
I'm currently cycling a 30g tank with 41 pounds of live rock that will eventually be home to a bunch of softies and lps.
<Mmmm, do take your time here... stocking small volumes w/ Cnidarians is a touchy proposition>
I'm having a hard time coming up with an acceptable fish stocking list and I'm hoping you could lend some valuable input. Below, I've listed the fish I'm interested in housing, in no particular order. I assume I'll be able to keep around 4-5 of these guys in the tank. Here are the choices...
Pair of ocellaris clowns
Six line wrasse (would he be ok with a fire shrimp and pistol shrimp?)
<Not so much... better to have one or the others>
Pygmy possum wrasse
<This or the Lined Wrasse>
Orchid Dottyback (same questions as the Sixline...would these two be able to coexist?)
<Not really>
Wheelers goby
Flame angel (most sources say dwarf angels are ok in a 30 gallon tank, but I'm a bit skeptical.
<I too... not a good idea>
I also understand that these guys might develop a taste for my corals. If I were to get one while it were very small and keep it well fed, would that reduce the chances of a mass coralcide?)
Red stripe angel
<Eibl's? Not a good choice here either. Needs more room>
I'm also open to any other suggestions you might have for fish in this size/type of tank.
<See the FAQs files re stocking small systems and the various articles re posted on WWM>
<And you, Bob Fenner>

20 gallon possible stocking, SW    5/30/11
Hello crew. My name is Felipe and I am I fan of your site. You are all very insightful and have helped me through predicaments. My question is quick because I am at work. I have a 20 gallon tall (not a good shape I know) working on upgrading by the end of this year. Now I currently have:
Ocellaris clown (I'm guessing it is a male due to its small size. I've had him for over a year now.
I also have a bicolor blenny that I have had for over 6 months. Very healthy and fat.
I have a skunk cleaner shrimp for over a year. I have a porcelain crab for over a year. And a few assorted hermits and snails and an urchin. I'd like to know if there is any possibility of having another small fish?
<Mmm, perhaps...>
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. something you would believe to get along fine in these small quarters. Maybe Pseudochromis.
Cardinalfish. Anything would suffice. Thank you in advanced. Hope you guys never stop giving advice.
<The Dottyback (a tank bred/reared species/specimen) or another Ocellaris would be my choice. Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smswstk12.htm
and the linked files above for more general input. Bob Fenner>

Please help Clownfish trouble!    5/28/11
I am really stressed out guys. I have little time to explain and am deathly sorry about this I normally am REALLY specific with my intro specs. I have finals all week, drama crap in classes, and a clownfish who looks like a zombie from 28 weeks later!!! 29 gallon Biocube restocked from an overstocked tank with too many fish, lost my test kit so sorry!, 1.22 salinity,
<Mmm, would raise/keep near 1.025/6>
80 degree temp, stock lights, a pistol shrimp and goby, ocellaris clownfish baby less than 2 n long, a cleaner shrimp, and a cleanup crew.
After I removed my old temporary stock of a baby eel, and maroon clown
<These can't fit here>
(with others), I added the clown and cleaner. The tank got murked up when I removed the eel but I thought it would be clear by the time I got home so I bought a clown and shrimp. I didn't look at the clown really close in the bag or at the store but a hour after acclimation to my tank, his tail fin (back section) was weird. He swims with to <too> much push on his back tail thing. even with no flow, (I turned filter off) it was swimming overly back crazy. HE swam around near the top and later, he was gulping at the air at the top of the tank. I added a powerhead and changed 7 gallons of the 29 in water.
The powerhead murked things up more but got a good flow. I turned off the lights for about four days fearing the murk was partially an algae bloom, and turned the back on today. I nearly passed out. I can see over 6 veins in the Clownish tail!!!!!!!!
<... water quality. "murk">
they are all red and sick looking. He is fine other than his back section. He eats fine and everything but weird swimming and veins! Is this a disease or my fault? How can I fix it in ways other than water changes?
<Time going by; patience>
I only have my drivers permit and no one will take me to get de chlorinzer as I have just run out! Please help people I have nowhere else to go and am very stressed. I have never had a fish die in my tank and feel awful about this guy.
<Take a chill pill, ten big breaths... Focus on your schooling and ignore the tank for now. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater Stocking and Filtration Question 5/26/2011
Dear sir or Madame,
<Hello Camron>
I have a question regarding saltwater stocking.
I have an 18 gal. tank with a 40 gal. filter. I the tank I currently have 2 Cerith snails and 1 Green Clown Goby.
I am going to receive a Firefish.
The goby requires 10 gal. minimum. The Firefish requires 10 gal. minimum.
The goby is already a resident in my tank. And I cannot return the Firefish.
My question is with the 40 gal. filter, would both the goby and the Firefish be okay in my tank? If not, would buying a 50 gal. filter or stronger be helpful? Would moving the snails to another tank help?
<The 10 gallon minimum does not necessarily mean each fish requires ten gallons, but is the volume of water each fish would feel relatively comfortable in. James (Salty Dog)>

Goby/Blenny Concerns 4/24/2011 (Psychological Crowding)  4/25/11
Hello everyone.
<<Hi Felipe.>>
Well congratulations on the wonderful site. Just wanted to thank you first for the help in the past.
<<Thank you for the accolades, glad to be of help in your education of aquaria.>>
Now to the questions at hand.
<<Of course.>>
I have a 20 gallon tall tank and am in the process of securing a larger tank(50 gallon). May take about 2-3 months. In the 20g I have an Ocellaris Clown who has no problem with anyone. A few blue legged hermit, a few Turbos, a Pink Spotted Goby (who is the concern) and lives with a blue-legged Pistol Shrimp named Dozer, and a newly acquired Bicolor Blenny. Now the question is...the goby is a bit larger than the blenny. I would say the goby is about 2" and the blenny is about 1.5". The goby for the most part minds his own business but I have seen him. Puff up and open his mouth to intimidate the blenny.
<<Normal aggression between these two animals when lacking space. The configuration of the 20 tall set up does not give them the surface area they need to avoid each other.>>
I even saw him chase the blenny away from his cave. The blenny seems to pay no mind. He just continues to eat algae everywhere but he tends to stay on the side of the tank where the goby is instead of the opposite side. Would the aggressiveness be something to worry about or will they be ok till the new tank is acquired and set up? Please advise and thank you in advance.
<<At this point it sounds like territorial aggression rather than outright attacking of one another, the main concern would be that one specimen would scare the other into psychological submission keeping him from eating and thus starving/dying. In that case, yes one would need to be moved. While they make have enough room swim wise, chemical wise, they do not, comfortability wise. - Adam J.>>

Aqual Reefmax question, Small Marine Stocking 4/21/11
Hi folks,
Have been browsing through your site and have found a lot of answers to questions that don't seem to be answered elsewhere. I will give you short background of my status in the hobby before the question just so you have the context. I started out with freshwater (60g) which I have now maintained for 3 years and am successfully keeping discus in. I think I have found my feet completely with freshwater. I set up a 10 gallon a year and a half ago to "wet my feet" in saltwater. Set it up primarily as a fish only, no coral tank with 2perculas, 2 blue-legged hermit crabs 3 turbo snails and a cleaner shrimp. While the tank seemed to run okay, I found myself craving a more flexible tank.
Have migrated to the Aqual Reefmax system. I am certain you are familiar with the specs but it is about a 105litre with 2 brilliant white T5s (10K each) and an actinic (20K). It has an inbuilt skimmer, a trickle filter as well as a filter sponge area. I have added a Wavemaker since the tank has low flow. Have set it up with about 30lbs (may be off on the math since I think in kgs) of rock and a 2 inch live sand bed. Current occupants are - 1 fire shrimp, 1 cleaner shrimp, 4 turbo snails, 2 Perculas (1 orange, one black), 1 orange-spot goby, 1 purple fire goby. Gave the crabs to a friend.
<Where is Darrel when you need him?>
I also have some green watermelon mushrooms and assorted zoos as well as an open brain which seems to be doing pretty well (3 months so a limited time period) despite spotty luck with spot feeding it. I run all the lights for 4 hours daily and the actinic for an additional 2 hours.
<I would probably go a longer on the 10Ks as this is the most useful light for the brain, maybe slowly increase it to 6 hours. The mushrooms and zoos are not particularly picky but will benefit from it as well.>
Now for my questions -
1. Am I running the lights correctly?
<See above.>
2. How am I on stocking so far? I have read varied bit of information that put me at various places from overstocked to understocked.
<I would say you are bordering on heavily stocked, but not overstocked currently.>
3. I have repeatedly resisted the urge to add a mandarin because I realize the tank isn't large enough but am looking to add maybe 2 additional fish. I was thinking of the Royal gramma as an option but cannot decide on the second.
<The gramma will most likely terrorize your gobies to death, too similar body shape, and grammas can be very territorial.>
Every fish I seem to set my sights on and research turns our incompatible. I tried a fairy wrasse but it seemed to want to kill my fire goby.
<Firefish/gobies are very passive and tend to be bullied by many different fish. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_1/cav1i1/wormfishesArt/wormfishes.htm .>
The bicolor blenny is not an option because I understand he will harass the goby. Would really appreciate some suggestions on whether the gramma (I realize that the false gramma is out of the question) is a good bet and on what else I might stock.
<Something small and passive, perhaps neon gobies or an assessor. If the tank was a bit larger a small group of cardinals might work well.>
4. Corals - I am looking to add another species and again am not really sure what will work based on my tank. Most sites say things like 'moderate flow/moderate lighting' but that really doesn't mean much in isolation. I have been considering disc coral, flowerpots and frogspawns but the last 2 seem to be quite aggressive and the flowerpot also seems to be difficult to maintain. Any thoughts? Would my tank qualify and moderate flow/.lighting? or low?
<You would be low to medium lighting in my opinion, and the zoos and mushrooms may be problematic with some of the more difficult/sensitive corals.>
5. I found a tiny red fan worm growing behind one of my mushrooms. It is about ½ an inch is size. It is very pretty but I am not sure that it is getting what it needs in its current position. Is there any way to move it? The mushroom came on a flat rock and this fellow was a hitchhiker on the same rock.
<These are pretty common, you probably have more but just have not found them yet. No way to move without damaging them, but they tend to prefer the undersides of rock so it should be ok.>
6. My zoos were a brilliant light florescent green when I got them but seemed to have settled to a milder version of the same colour in my tank. I assume this is because of the lighting. Have had them for about a month now. Have also noticed some of them turn pink/orange while others have gone browner (but still brilliant in the centre). The end result is quite pretty because of the bunching but I am wondering is this is bad for them.
<They are ok, increased lighting will help with the coloring some.>
I would really appreciate your thoughts on the above questions.
<Ask and you shall receive.>
Forgot to mention, my tests have been consistently on the spot with the exception of calcium which tends to be between 380 and 450 depending on how long it has been since a water change. I change 15% every other week and am very regular with the changes. I measure Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, PH, KH, CA and iodine.
Re: Aqual Reefmax question, Small Marine Stocking 4/25/11

Hey guys!
Thanks again for your (amazingly) quick and insightful response. I had a couple of follow-up questions and would be most grateful if you could answer it. You suggest the neon goby as an appropriate addition and I just wanted to ensure that it won't cause any conflict with the orange spotted goby I currently have.
The LFS seemed to suggest it will but they have been wrong on most things I ask them. I actually think they were trying to sell me the cleaner wrasse pretending it was a neon goby (I know, I need to find another store but there aren't that many options in the UAE).
<Everyone tries to sell cleaner wrasses it seems, I see them all the time here in the U.S. unfortunately.>
I should clarify a typo (not going to even attempt to justify the crabs departure - late in the day, brain freeze!) in my current stocking description - I have 4 'turban' snails. I understand they are rock dwellers for the most part which is how they have been behaving in my tank. Is there anything I can add that will be more beneficial in cleaning the sand?
<Nassarius or Cerith snails may work here.>
I will make the adjustments to the lights that you recommend. I am concerned though about evaporation because this will mean the fans will run longer. Could you suggest a brand of hang-on auto top-up unit that I might be able to attach? I will most likely need to order it online and ship it since it is unlikely to be available here.
<I LOVE my Tunze Osmolator, but it is not cheap. Take a look through here for more opinions/options. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/h20makeupfaqs.htm .>
Lastly, I have been considering modifying the tank to build a sump (in which case I may not need the auto top-up) in the cabinet at the bottom (it will be concealed). Will I need to consider lighting for the sump as well even if I don't plan to stock it?
<Nothing beyond what is needed to see for maintenance.>
The real goal with the sump is to give me the added water volume. Would love to hear your thoughts since a sump is a fairly recent consideration (thanks in part to all your FAQs talking about water volume) and I am currently researching it in further detail.
<I'm not sure if the tank you have is tempered glass or not which makes drilling almost impossible, and I am not a fan of the "Over-the-Back" style returns, too many stories of floods with these. See here for more. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumpdesfaq.htm .>
Re: Aqual Reefmax question, Small Marine Stocking 4/25/11
Thank you Chris for the advice. Glad I found the site.

Couple Questions about Stocking, Sm. SW  4/9/11
I am new to the hobby (am living by The Conscientious Marine Aquarist!) and have a tank that is approaching 3 months old. I searched your site, and found some information, but I have a quick question. I try to do all my own research, but I am getting conflicting opinions.
<Often there are more than two ways...>
I have a 28 gallon bowfront tank, with a Remora Protein Skimmer. It's set up as a FOWL currently, but
have aspirations for making it a reef tank in the future, once I feel I have a handle on the fish. My current stock, excluding CuC, consists of 2 skunk cleaner shrimp, 2 ocellaris clownfish, and a firefish. Would I be
overstocked to add another fish?
<Mmm, possibly>
If not, one of the fish I am considering is a Royal Gramma.
<Not a good choice w/ the Firefish here>
Would this go well with my current inhabitants? It seems the consensus is that they will leave Cleaner shrimp alone, but I would love some reassurance! Would there be any better choices?
<Perhaps a small Gobioid or blennioid species>
Thanks for all your help, and for making this hobby a little less scary to dive into!
Adam Kennedy
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Couple Questions about Stocking, Sm. SW sys.   4/9/11

Ok, thanks for you super quick reply!
Thank you so much!
Adam Kennedy
<Glad to help! BobF>

Hello, I have some saltwater stocking questions including Clown fish, Brittle starfish, Crustaceans, and how they will get along thanks!
Saltwater stocking questions, Clownfish, Brittle starfish, Crustaceans 3/31/11

Hello, I'll start out with the info on my tank, then address my wanted stocking, and finally a few questions. My tank is a 29 gallon saltwater Biocube 2.5 weeks old. 15lbs of Liverock and 1.5 IN of sand all around.
Nitrate is about 3 right now and ammonia is in the same area.
<Sounds like it is still cycling, which is not unexpected based on the tank's age.>
Salinity is 1.021.
<Low, want this closer to natural levels, 1.025-1.026, 35ppt.>
The PH is 8.4. My water temperature is about 70-74 degrees average
<Low for most tropical species, closer to 78-80 is preferable.>
The nitrates are too high for fish but I added a cleanup crew of 1 sand sifting snail, 1 Mexican Turbo Snail, 1Coral Banded Shrimp, and a *duhm duhm duhm!....* Purple Spotted Reef Lobster as my LFS strongly recommended him for a water tester and interesting creature.
<You really should not add anything until ammonia and nitrites are 0 ppm, nitrates less than 20 ppm are ok in most cases. Invertebrates are very sensitive to water conditions and will suffer here. The reef lobster, Enoplometopus daumi, will outgrow this tank, and will eat what ever it can catch, namely fish and shrimp.
I took his word on it and bought the 1 inch long fish with little research *face palm* then, I went home and got on here to research him because you're website is amazing for that, and discovered that they can eat my shrimp, and a lot of other creatures in my desired clownfish setup. That brings me too my next point, stocking.
Here is my desired stocking of my 29 gallon saltwater Bio Cube when it is done cycling next week; 2 Oscelaris(sorry for spelling!) Clown Fish,
<Amphiprion ocellaris>
possibly 1 bubble anemone when I am better trained and ready (six months or so),
<This tank is too small for an anemone.>
and one starfish. The starfish is my main problem along with the lobster which brings me to my last point. How does this setup sound to you; an experienced saltwater fish keeper? 2 Clownfish, 1 bubble anemone, one starfish, one Mexican Turbo Snail, 1 Purple-Spotted Reef Lobster, 1 Sand sifter snail, and one Coral Banded Shrimp.
<The lobster as stated above will be a problem, and anemones need larger, more stable tanks with excellent lighting. The "starfish" depends on what you want to keep, a serpent star may work here, but more traditional looking "starfish" such as Protoreastor nodosus or Astropecten polycanthus will do poorly.>
The starfish that I am looking at have stumped me.... I can not find the needed tank size for these starfish which will be the deciding factor between the two. the first is a Chocolate Chip Starfish, and the second is a Black Brittle Star. Which will be more compatible to this smaller tank?
<The brittle by far, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brittlestars.htm .>
The Lobster should be safe he has quite a bit of spunk (I dangled a piece of krill in front
of his cave and he clamped down on the skin of my index finger).
<But will his tankmates be safe from him?>
I am worried that he may attack my clowns though! They are sold at about 1 inch long just like the lobster and should outgrow his claws of death by the time he is a mean killing machine like these stories I have read of ha-ha.
<Wanna bet? Or more appropriately do your clowns want to bet with their lives?>
Also, which starfish would be better off?
<See above.>
I have done research for like 50 min and can't find anything hopefully you guys can help.
<Keep reading.>
Big fan love the website! ps: this is my first question so how will I know when I get an answer?
<You should receive a copy in email for and will be posted on WWM.>
Please email back or something I have no clue how to know when or if this has been answered thanks!

Nano Reef that will support all life but fish, Cnid. allelopathy  3/30/11
Hello WWM Crew,
I am pulling my hair out with frustration. The crew has helped me in the past and I am very grateful, but this problem I am having is starting to get out of hand. Once again I am asking for your help. I have had an established Nano reef for the past year (I know a year isn't very "established"), but for the past four months, the tank has not been able to support any fish whatsoever. All my corals and inverts live and thrive, but fish just don't make it.
A little info
10 Gallon Tank,
<Yikes... very hard to keep such small volumes optimized, stable>
28 Watts T5 Actinic Light, Hang on the back filter with an activated carbon insert
Temperature is kept at 79 Degrees F verified by in tank thermometer
Specific Gravity is 1.026
Ammonia, nitrite 0
Nitrates less than 5
pH around 8.0
<These values are all fine>
Water changes are 10% once weekly and 30% once monthly. I use tap water filtered with a Brita faucet, treated with Prime, mixed with Instant ocean to 1.026 Sp. Gr. And allowed to sit overnight in an open container before being added to the tank.
I was adding extra Calcium, magnesium, and iodine twice a week but I have since stopped that (I was afraid I may have been overdosing with the small water volume)
<Easy to do>
Stock includes:
13 Lbs of live rock, has been in tank since initial set up.
<Mmm, oh, I see summat below>
Tank was initially set up with a small sand bed but I have since removed it so now the tank has a bare bottom (past five months)
Inverts/Corals: 4 Turbo Snails, 3 Blue legged hermits, Two Small Zoanthid Colonies of the same species(no more than 8 polyps in total, but started with two), One small xenia colony, one small Duncan coral frag with 5 heads.
<Likely the Zoanthids are poisoning your fishes>
When the reef was first set up, the only occupant fish wise was a yellowtail damsel. He always did well. In December, he died over night.
He was not showing signs of distress the previous day. I inspected the body of the fish and found no signs of parasites or trauma. He was just lying dead on the bottom when the lights went on in the morning. I scooped him out and gave the tank four weeks breathing room. During this time, the corals continued to propagate and all the inverts did fine and acted accordingly. After four weeks fallow, I decided to add another fish. In folly, I added a flameback angelfish by himself.
<Really needs more room... by at least twice>
He acclimated well, showed no signs of distress. Lived for one week, ate well, grazed constantly, then died overnight. Once again, no signs of distress the day before, body showed no signs of trauma or parasites. I gave the tank another month. All inverts continued to do well and propagate. Then I added another Damselfish from an established tank (my friend had him in a tank and he was being bullied so I took him). He acclimated well, and ate some food that night. Next morning, dead. At this point, I was wondering if it was because the fish was already partially injured from the beating he took in his former tank or if he fell to the same issue that my previous occupants had.
I waited 5-6 weeks this time before even contemplating adding another fish (I don't like things in my care to die). Yesterday, I went to my LFS (which always has good fish) and picked out a healthy looking blue damsel. I acclimated him very slowly over two hours, then added him. He grazed and explored all night. This morning, he was still acting normal.
Within the last hour or so, he started to breathe very heavily and hide in a small barnacle I have in the tank. I fear that he is about to fall prey to the same poisoning(?)that has been causing the other deaths.
Right now, I am at a loss. Unfortunately, I do not have another tank to move him too. I am considering just taking him out and putting him in a bucket with some fresh salt water, but I would have to manually agitate the water as I don't have a pump that will fit the bucket.
The only thing that makes sense to me at this point is that there is something that is poisoning the fish.
<I agree>
My current hypothesis is that the Duncan coral is the culprit, as it was added a few weeks before I started having problems.
<Perhaps indirectly... the Dendrophylliid over-stimulated the Zoa...>
I have done searches as the whether a Duncan coral is toxic to fish in small volumes but I haven't found anything enlightening.
<This family is not so much so...>
It just doesn't make sense to me. I thought that if there were water quality issues or something toxic at all in the tank, the inverts would probably be the first to go. But not only are they seemingly healthy, they are even propagating! The Duncan coral has grown an additional two heads since I added it to the tank, and the Zoanthids continue to grow.
<Ah yes>
I've always been more of a fish tank guy than a coral guy. If I could, I would take out all my frags and corals, but I can't. I don't have anywhere to store them.
I could really use an opinion and some advice from someone who is vastly more experienced then I am. Am I just having bad luck?
<No; doubtful>
Thank you in advance
<Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidcompfaqs.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
There are techniques for "acclimating" new life to established systems w/ more-toxic stinging-celled life in them... as you will see. Bob Fenner>
Re: Nano Reef that will support all life but fish  3/30/11

Thanks Bob, I will begin reading immediately. Unfortunately, the damsel didn't make it. After I wrote you yesterday I removed all the coral from the tank and placed it in a small bucket (I figured that coral, which has a slower metabolism, would be ok without a filter for a day or so), then changed 2 gallons of water in the tank. It didn't seem to make a difference.
What you are saying makes perfect sense to me though, I have easily four times as many Zoanthids now than I did before the tank was having trouble.
In your opinion, would it be safe to leave the Xenia and Duncan frags?
I am sure I can find someone to take the Zoanthids off my hands. Also, how much water should I change after taking out the Zoanthids?
<Serially, all of it a few times>
I'm tempted to change all of it but it'll probably cause the tank to cycle again.
Thanks for your valued insight
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Nano Reef that will support all life but fish    4/13/11

Hey Bob and WWM Crew,
First of all, I'd like to thank you for the help you gave a few weeks ago.
After our discussion I decided to get a whole new tank and get rid of the Zoo's at the same time. I ended up buying a 20g High tank. I bought an additional 10 lbs of live rock and a bag of Hawaiian black sand from Caribsea (I must say, I like it). I allowed the new rock and sand to cure before adding my existing rock and livestock into the tank. Things have been going well, I've been feeding the Duncan Coral every day and it's perked up quite a bit. The new rock I bought had quite a bit of life on it (something I haven't seen in a while), and I decided that since the tank was doing so well, I was going to add a single fish. Of course, that's when I started hearing the ominous pop pop pop sound of a Pistol or Mantis shrimp. He popped pretty much all night last night and a few random times today, and even though I haven't lost any of my clean up crew, I decided to err on the side of caution and do a quick freshwater dip (2-3 minutes) for all my rock, including my older pieces. Well, I didn't net a mantis shrimp or pistol shrimp in the bucket, just a few poor brittle stars that I wasn't fast enough to save. The tank is back together now and all the life seems none worse for the wear. My question is, if I did have a mantis shrimp, do you think my treatment took care of him?
<Mmm, no. It did not. I like "soda water" as the dip/spritz to drive out these pests. They can "hole up" with simple freshwater exposure>
I want to have some of the smaller varieties of fish (Clown gobies, neon gobies), and I really don't feel like feeding a Stomatopod my reef inhabitants. Part of me wanted to catch one as I know there are groups of people that love the animals and I wouldn't mind helping a fellow reefer out with some free livestock.
What do you guys think?
Best Wishes
<Please (re?) read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mantiscompfaqs.htm

Marine Aquarium Problem List/Stocking Levels/Compatibility 3/25/2011
Hello Gang-
<Good morning Bill>
I appreciate all of your insightful work and I enjoy perusing your BB. There is some great information.
<Thank you.>
Currently, however, I <I'm> stuck between a live rock and a hard place, and I am not quite sure where to go. I am hopeful that there is one common thread between all of my problems, but realistically, there many likely many possibilities.
<There is no one 'cure all'.>
My setup is now 7 months old. It was started as a daddy-daughter project, and well you know how these go, it is now a daddy project. It is a 40 gallon acrylic tank with a 12 gallon sump using bioballs and ceramic beads in the filter wet/dry chamber. I use an overflow siphon to get the water below, and have 2 Koralia 1 Wave maker heads along with a Rio pump to move the water from the sump to the tank. Overall, probably 400 - 500 gallons per hour of flow. I have 60 lbs of live rock and waited 6 weeks for the water parameters to stabilize, which they essentially did from the get go, as the LR was well cured from months in the tank at my LFS. I have 450<nm> and 10K lights set on a timer along with some LCD moonlights. There are 156 watts of light.
I was recently treated to an infestation of Grape Caulerpa, which I have now come to an agreement with and prune on a 2 week basis or so. There is good growth of pink coralline algae on the sides and back of the tank which I leave. I probably added a bit much on the bioload, and added over time 5 PJ cardinals, a Royal gramma, and 2 Percula clowns.
<Too many for your volume of water and with that nutrient load the algae have plenty of food for growth. You mention no skimmer and I recommend getting one to help control excess nutrients.>
There have also been some former tank members including a Yellow Head Jawfish, and 3 cleaner gobies (now all AWOL), and never found.
<Jawfish belong in a species tank or at the least, with peaceful fish. Cleaner Gobies are reasonably hardy fish, perhaps the food you are feeding was too large for them to accept. Read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/neongobies.htm>
My problems during the last 7 months have been:
1. keeping invertebrates, 8 peppermint shrimp added and gone, 2 cleaner shrimp (skunk), added and gone, 30 some odd hermit crabs added and gone.
<May have starved to death, 30 is a bit high for what a 40 gallon tank can support without supplemental feedings.>
I may have 5 or 6 still left.
Two emerald crabs which I have not seen for a few weeks.
<Mostly nocturnal and may have been the reason for your shrimp decimation.>
I still have 3 Margarita snails, 3 small Turbos, and 2 large Turbos, but they mostly stick to the walls and not the rocks and sand where I need them.
<I would add no more snails, should be good for your size tank.>
There are about 10 Nassarius snails in the tank that were previously quite active, but found my first empty shell today.
I also still have a Sand Sifting Starfish that is still about.
<They do not fare well in small systems and have certain requirements.
See here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sndsftstrfaqs.htm>
I have been reluctant to add any more hc <hermit crabs>, as they keep disappearing.
2. SFS not looking so hot.
<May be a little too early in the morning for me, but what is a SFS? Best to spell out names when writing us so we do not have to guess.>
Xenia that previously went nuts that I propagated. Had 3, now have 5
Currently all "shrunken," and pulsing just a little.
Mushroom corals that are propagating themselves, but not fully expanding
A leather coral that has grown and looks quite good.
<Should, it's the dominant coral in terms of allelopathy and is likely the reason for your Xenia degrading. The Mushroom Corals aren't helping matters either. Too small a system for this mix.>
Button polyps that have also spread and still look quite good
3. A lot of hair algae and over the last week or so, brownish filamentous algae on it.
<Reduce the bioload, incorporate a protein skimmer into the system. Is a must have for improving water quality.>
I have done a couple of 5 gal water changes in the last couple of days, and I will keep doing this. My water parameters look great (and have been great, I check regularly), pH 8.3, SG 1.022, 0 ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and phosphate.
<I find it hard to believe you have zero nitrate in this system.>
I must admit I had not changed the water prior to this for a few weeks (last was 5 weeks ago). I do not use RO/RI water. The one advantage of the hair algae is I do get to see that I have good flow in the tank, well at least the front part I can see.
My questions are multiple. First, why do all my invertebrates vanish?
<Water quality, perhaps lack of food, too many for your system.>
Perhaps a fish culprit?
<Your present fish inhabitants shouldn't be a concern here.>
Second, how can I control the hair algae? Third, any other tricks for controlling the grape Caulerpa?
<Yes, by reading/acting here and researching future animals before purchasing, ensure you can provide for their needs along with any compatibility issues that could develop between animals.
Fourth, any thoughts on a more resilient CUC?
<? CUC>
I appreciate your insight. In the meantime, I plan to do an additional water change tomorrow of 5 gallons, and promise to be more responsible with regular water changes.
<And please, do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/small.htm>
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Marine Aquarium Problem List/Stocking Levels/Compatibility 3/25/2011
<Hello Bill>
I am a little confused. I have read, and you confirm, that algae and the grape Caulerpa are likely a nutrient problem with too much nitrate and phosphate. However, my nitrate and phosphate consistently read 0. I don't understand.
<Excess nutrients do not necessarily show up as nitrates. Nitrifying bacteria or Nitrobacter are produced in the last phase of the nitrogen cycle. Nitrates are the wastes produced by these nitrifying bacteria. Bacterial breakdown of Ammonia turns it into nitrates. During the conversion of nitrogen, bacteria will first convert nitrogen into ammonia and ammonium during the process. Algae can use ammonia/ammonium as a nitrogen source.
It is possible your algae may be using up this source before it can be converted to nitrates, NO3-.>
Prior to this infestation of algae and Caulerpa, I had the same bioload, fed the residents in a similar fashion, and still had 0 readings for nitrate.
<In time you can get to a point where waste increases faster than it can be exported. My suggestion is to cut back your bioload, eight fish is a bit much for a 40 gallon.
Subtracting the displacement of the substrate and live rock and you likely will have no more than 25 gallons of water. By chance have you taken a water sample to your dealer to confirm your nitrate readings?>
I would not have needed to email you if my nitrates were reading high.
I do have an in sump protein skimmer. I apologize for failing to list it.
Would a refugium possibly help to serve as a nitrogen and phosphate sink?
<Set up properly, refugiums will always be a benefit in improving water quality.
See here and related articles/FAQs found in the header. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm>
Would adding more hermit crabs help control the algae?
<Not the Grape Caulerpa. Losing the amount of crabs that you stated indicates there wasn't enough food to sustain all of them. Adding more may result in the same outcome.
In your tank I would put no more than 15 Blue Legged Hermit Crabs.>
I would assume the contribution to bioload of invertebrates is considerably lower than the fish.
<Generally speaking, yes.>
Sorry, (it was late for me),
<And too early for me.>
I was referring to soft corals and clean up crew (CUC). Regarding soft coral compatibility and allelopathy, "Xenia could be affected by being in close proximity to Zoanthid colonies (is best to keep a distance between them)." Is my setup just too small to allow this, and would a refugium again help here?
<A refugium will do nothing to control allelopathy. Running a good grade carbon will help ease chemical allelopathy but does nothing for physical allelopathy.>
In addition, since the leather toadstool seems to be aggressive in chemical warfare, would adding carbon help?
<As above, but not completely eliminate it. Ideally, small systems need to be planned out for just this reason. Leather Corals and corals in the genus Euphyllia are the worst offenders.
Zoanthids and Mushroom Corals can be problematic as well. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Marine Aquarium Problem List/Stocking Levels/Compatibility 3/25/2011- 3/26/2011

<Excess nutrients do not necessarily show up as nitrates. Nitrifying bacteria or Nitrobacter are produced in the last phase of the nitrogen cycle. Nitrates are the wastes produced by these nitrifying bacteria. Bacterial breakdown of Ammonia turns it into nitrates. During the conversion of nitrogen, bacteria will first convert nitrogen into ammonia and ammonium during the process. Algae can use ammonia/ammonium as a nitrogen source.
It is possible your algae may be using up this source before it can be converted to nitrates, NO3-.>
Understand, but if that is the case, then should not the precursors in the nitrogen cycle also be spiking, ammonia/ammonium, and/or nitrite?
<No.> As I mentioned, all of these parameters have consistently been undetectable. I have not double checked with the local fish store, recently. Previously, though my test kits seemed accurate as I had some test strips that also agreed. I have another set of bottles for checking nitrates, I will use those to confirm.
Seems like I have made quite a few goofs on my marine denizens. Regarding the hermit crabs. They are mostly red-legged, and I understand they are omnivores and opportunistic scavengers.
I regularly see them picking the algae off the rocks. I also understand they do eat hair algae. As such, I have a hard time understanding how they would starve to death, especially if I am also overfeeding.
<I did say "likely".>
The problem is those little guys always look so hungry and gobble up everything I give them. Clearly, at least the fish are not starving. I also realize the grape Caulerpa is not on the menu for many. That being said, at this point, the algae seems to be outcompeting the Caulerpa. I have traded one problem for another.
<It's actually very simple to understand. Algae require two things to grow, nutrients and light. Nutrients can be in the form of phosphates and/or nitrogen (nitrates). Obviously you are providing both. Phosphates are found in almost every food source we feed our fish. It can also be present in lower grades of carbon as phosphates are used in the manufacturing process. Better grades are rinsed/cleaned much better and are usually advertised stating the product will not leach phosphates. If your nitrate test kit is accurate, and your reading is indeed zero, it is likely that phosphates are causing your aggressive algae growth. Is a good idea to rinse frozen foods in a brine shrimp net before feeding to minimize phosphates entering the system. I also suggest reducing your photoperiod to eight hours until you get this problem under control.>
In my humble defense, I did do a lot of reading. Just probably didn't read the right stuff. I hate the fact that creatures suffer due to my ignorance/lack of experience. As you are well aware, there are a tremendous number of opinions out there regarding management of the indoor marine ecosystem. The internet has permitted the proliferation of a lot of information, much of it bad. In my field, I am quite adept at sorting out the trash. This however, is a new venue for me. I find it challenging, yet right now frustrating. Your help has been fantastic. I have been toying with adding a refugium for quite a while, but wanted to feel a bit more successful before I took on another mini project. However, it might be that I need to pursue to better my chances of success. By stocking the refugium with grape Caulerpa, which I have lots of, leaving the light on 24h on the refugium, I might be able to beat back this algae problem. In the meantime, I will mechanically remove as much as I can, perform weekly 5 gallon water changes, and maybe, just maybe, turn the corner.
One last question. I have always quarantined everything for 4 weeks. I hate to say this (please don't hurt me), but should I consider a short or no quarantine to add some more hermit crabs?
<Isn't really necessary to quarantine hermit crabs.>
Thanks again.
<You're welcome.>
Hope you don't mind the ongoing dialogue!
<No, but I have previously linked you to plenty of information on controlling nutrients. Time to act. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Marine Aquarium Problem List/Stocking Levels/Compatibility 3/25/2011- 3/28/2011

Thanks again. Hopefully I can get this problem solved.
<You will.>
Keep up your great work.
We'll sure try. James (Salty Dog)>

Fish compatibility, Marine Stocking 3/23/11
Hi Crew,
My Neon Goby dies and I would like to replace him but rarely see them in stores.
<Pretty common fish, widely available through mail order too.>
But first, my tank an Aquapod 24 gallon with a Green Clown Goby, Firefish Goby, Spotted Cardinal, Blue Chromis.
<You are pretty heavily stocked as is, I would not add anything. Also the cardinal and chromis need groups to do best and are not happy alone.>
All are there between 2-3 years except for the Cardinal which is about 7 years. Also have a rusty goby but I don't count him because he is never seen.
<You may not but your bioload and his tankmates do, they are well aware of his presence and territory.>
All you see is a flash as he darts out for food. Sometimes you can see him upside down under a rock when it is feeding time.
Maybe you consider this tank fully stocked but these are really small fish (except for the cardinal) and you just don't see much activity.
<They will hopefully grow and you need to account for this, that is unless they are already stunted from the crowded conditions.>
The Chromis is the only one that is always out and swimming. The Firefish is also fairly active but can also make himself scarce for hours. The clown is always about but he just hops from one perch to another or stays put. The Cardinal can spend half the time in the rock and the rest of the time just hovering around.
Here is the list I would like to pick one from.
Royal Gramma
Citron Goby
Yellow Goby
Bicolor Blenny
Yellow Watchman Goby
Blue Gudgeon
<I really would not add anything else, you are already overly stocked.>
Will the Gramma get along with the Chromis. Had them in the past and are really pretty.
<Grammas can be territorial and be problematic, especially with firefish.>
Will the Citron or the Yellow Goby get along with the Clown.
<I would not try to mix these, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gobiodonfaqs.htm 
Not that excited about the blenny. Had one and ended up selling it. Cure but not that colorful.
Watchman should be nice. Had one a few years ago and he just died the first night. Seemed healthy.
Blue Gudgeon seems to be a type of dart fish so not sure if the firefish will agree to him plus might be too large.
<I am assuming you are talking about a Ptereleotris hannae, I would not mix with the firefish.>
If you have any other suggestions that would be fine.
<Really my suggestion is no more fish, the tank is just too small.>

Small Marine Nano Cube With Mushroom Coral (not for the inexperienced aquarist) -- 03/20/11
While visiting LFS, found that there was a supposedly established 6 gal marine Nano cube for sale.
<<Such 'small volumes' can be difficult to maintain'¦and certainly not for the beginning marine aquarist in my opinion, as so often touted>>
It has only mushroom corals.
<<A noxious organism, and often deadly in such a small volume of water if/when mixed with other inverts'¦best kept alone here>>
The set up was pretty and quite tempting to put on my desk.
<<No doubt'¦though I must admit to not being a fan of 'office' aquariums due to their tendency to be abused/neglected>>
When I questioned the extremely young clerk about maintenance, he said it would require only monthly water changes and little else.
<<Bunk'¦ If anything, more frequent (weekly) maintenance will be required as such small volumes of water 'Go South' much more quickly than larger volumes>>
Currently I only have a freshwater setup and I haven't owned a marine aquarium in nearly 30 years (F.O.W.L. R. back then-successful but sold it during move) but even with my limited and antiquated experience, his maintenance claims sound pretty light to me.
<<Indeed'¦ A lot has changed in 30 years; technologies have improved along with our understanding of both what/how to keep'¦and what NOT to keep. I suggest you get a good book or two, as well as doing some research and reading here and elsewhere on the NET before making any sort of impulse buy. Here's a few links on WWM to get you started: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/bookswwmsugg.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/ofcaqrelbiz.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/GoodBadMarLvstkSel.htm  , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quarinverts.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm  , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/small.htm
Do also follow and read among the associated links at the top of the pages>>
When I said so he replied it was so easy because the "corals only" set up required little care.
But that wouldn't stop evaporation changing salinity would it?
<<Nope'¦and any and all changes come very quickly in such a small volume>>
And I thought corals were sensitive to water conditions?
<<Some more than others, but yes>>
Anyway, I thought I would ask an expert before sinking money into this Nano venture.
<<I see it as three strikes against you at the moment'¦ a 'Nano' tank'¦ a planned 'office' tank'¦ and an 'inexperienced' aquarist'¦ I'm not saying this can't be done, but to avoid disappointment you really need to 'bone up' for a while before you set out on this venture>>
What would the optimal maintenance be for a 6 gal mushroom coral only setup?
<<Can be as varied as the animals kept in it (do check out the links provided)'¦but at the least it will need to be 'frequent'>>
Thanks for any reply!
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Saltwater beginner tank, 3/4/11
Hey there WWM Crew!
So I think walking down the saltwater isle in every fish store has taken its toll on me! I am hopefully going to be getting a 29 gallon Oceanic Biocube as a salt water system!
I'm pretty sure I'm good with all the basic concepts as they seem kind of, but still different from those of freshwater (which is where my past 2-3 years of fish keeping was at). So I've got a couple questions and concerns if you don't mind me asking!
<Fire away.>
A. Should I even be considering saltwater, or even any fish knowing that every once in a while we will be stepping out of the house for about 2 weeks at the max?
<It does add some complications, but they can be overcome.>
And I've already talked to the parents who won't allow anyone to enter the house for fishy needs while were away. So with this in mind I've been researching automatic top off systems that utilize sensors to determine if the water level has dropped from evaporation thus allowing a pump to fill up the tank (with RO water of course) until the sensor has been turned off by the appropriate water level. And as for feeding my fish id plan on buying a battery operated automatic feeder. Do you think this would cover the basics while I'm away?
Obviously I still won't feel as comfortable as if I were allowed a tank sitter, but what's your opinion?
<The autofeeders can be fickle, I would not use it unless you are going to be gone for more than a week, otherwise most fish will be fine without feeding for that long.>
B. If I was able to get away with such a set up, I was wondering if my imaginary stocking list (constantly thinking of different stocking ideas/ cool fish) was not to much of a burden on a somewhat smallish tank. Let me know if I should lay off a fish or more!
2 Percula clown fish (hardy good beginner fish from what I've read and heard)
1. Purple Fire fish
1. Yellow watchman shrimp goby
1. Tiger Pistol Shrimp (any other, possible larger species of pistol shrimp for recommendation would be appreciated as well!)
3. Snails of some sort (still need to research)
And if not a conflict with the pistol shrimp. either
1. Peppermint shrimp and Porcelain crab (2 maybe?)
1-2 Squat lobsters with peppermint shrimp?
<I would choose 3 of the 4 fish for this sized/shaped tank, especially when considering extended absences. Either the pistol shrimp or the peppermint, not both in such a small tank, and avoid crabs altogether, they are more trouble than they are worth generally.>
If the lobster/crab wouldn't work with the pistol shrimp would the peppermint shrimp still work? If not the shrimp either how about 5 blue legged hermits?
<Hermits are probably ok, but most crabs are opportunistic carnivores and in an unfed tank can become fish/coral hunters.>
I appreciate any feedback you can give me! Thanks!

Coral Allelopathy, Placement   2/23/11
Hi WWM crew,
Evening! The new tank crawls along slowly but surely. I'm looking at my coral stocking list and having perused all the material I can find on Your Friend and Mine, Allelopathy and have turned to you for direct application of wisdom regarding my coral plan in a 28g MH nanocube. Parameters, assuming you trust my judgment after all my prior foibles, are well within the accepted norm and even the temperature (halides are hot!) is under a steady control to maintain 78-81F. God love me I even do a religious 10% water change weekly.
<I'd make this twenty>
I'm adding the following kiddos this week:
On the skirts of my cove-shaped live rock pile:
4 Eye of Rah Zoanthids
3-5 True Red People Eater Zoanthids
10+ LA Laker Zoanthids
<Mmm, you realize how toxic these are?>
On a rock of their own, to limit the fission-based encroachment:
<Oooh, I do like this term>
1 Pink Ricordea
A few LPS on sand or their own ledge as they see fit, away from all and sundry:
4 heads Tyree Mystic Grape Favia
1' Aussie Tricolor War Coral
2-3 Heads Neon Green Candy Cane Coral
2 Head Aussie Duncan
And finally though I do assume I'll be giving this one back to the LFS:
2' ORA Birds of Paradise
Aside from my hope to add a few other colors of Ricordea to the Rock o' Ricordea, I have no plans to add any other coral to this setup.
I'm planning on following standard sand first - higher as they like the light acclimation.
I estimate the odds that you'll immediately find the errors I've made at 20:1 against myself, and thank you for your continued attention and patience!
<Well... w/ slow introduction/acclimation of the parties... Starting w/ the Poritids in there first... dipping some water twixt the "other" way-station/separate system... so that the parties can "smell", get-used to each other... you might be able to keep all this Cnidarian life together for several months... a couple of years w/ restricted feeding/nutrient availability... Otherwise, really, I'd be getting the/that new much larger system up and going.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Question, killing fishes in too-small volumes. No reading, crap grammar... Microdesmid in a 6 gal...  2/22/11
yea i know its a small system but they book i have for just nano tanks said it ok for these type of fish. As long as the clown fish will turn out fine i guess i goot start from scratch again.
<Wrong. See WWM re all. B> 

yellow watchman goby... Sys., mis-stocked 10 gal., not following WWM directions    2/14/11
Hi, I recently introduced a small yellow watchman goby to my ten gallon tank
<Needs more room than this>
about 3 weeks ago, and I have just noticed that something appears to be wrong with his bottom lip. It is a little red in color and look like it may be torn a little bit.
<Very likely a physical injury... from panicking... bumping into something...>
I only had a clown fish, a serpent sea star, an urchin, and some hermit crabs in the tank with him until yesterday when I got him a candy striped pistol shrimp to pair up with.
<... don't necessarily pair up. You have an untenable situation. Either secure larger quarters (at least three times this volume) or return the Alpheid, Cryptocentrus and Urchin>
The two have not taken to each other and live in separate caves so is it possible that the shrimp did something to my goby and hurt him? Or could the goby have some sort of disease? He does not act sick and is still eating normally. What should I do? Thank you.
<Read... on WWM; start here:
search re the names of this life as you were asked to... Bob Fenner>

Sixline Wrasse or other choices? 2/13/11
Hello everyone. Felipe here from Miami, Fl. I find a lot of my answers here on WWM and I think you guys and gals are great. Now to the question at hand. I have a 20 gallon reef that's been up and running for about 1 year and all is well. My question is pertaining to stocking it with one more fish. I currently have 1 Ocellaris Clown and a Pink Spotted Goby. Both get a long great. I have a Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, Porcelain Crab, Blue and Red hermits, some snails, red and green mushrooms and a brand new green
Ricordea Florida which is now splitting into two. Now I tried a Chromis
<Not enough space...>
in my system but my Clown went nuts on him and he died in 2 days. So I was thinking of maybe a Sixline Wrasse
which I've read has a little more attitude...but I'm afraid maybe it has too much? Would you guys suggest anything else that would do fine that's not a Cardinal? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Best regards. Felipe.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm scroll down to small reef livestocking articles and FAQs. Bob Fenner>

28g Metal Halide Stock List/Stocking 2/3/11
Hi WWMedia Crew,
<Hello John>
Back again with (yet another) question. I promise I do have other avenues to occupy my time besides pestering you for good information.
I'm planning the stock list for a JBJ 28g Nano HQI. The tank is cycling as we speak on the following specs:
150 w MH
<<Whoa! Heating issues. RMF>>
45 lbs. Live rock
Filter floss/(coming soon)Chemi-pure Elite/Chaeto
Eshopps HOB skimmer
25 lbs. Aragonite sand
I'm planning on adding the livestock in stages:
*Stage 1:* CUC <clean up crew> as suggested and purchased from reef cleaners:
20 Dwarf Ceriths
9 Nassarius
9 Florida Ceriths
6 Blue Leg hermits
3 Large Nerite and 3 Small to medium Nerites
<What do you plan on feeding all those snails with. Too many, especially in a new system. About 10% of what you have above would be more in line with your tank volume.
Turbo and Astrea Snails are more efficient at controlling algae than the above. I would suggest adding two or three of these replacing a few Ceriths.>
(An aside -- I've heard inverts are much more susceptible to nitrates.
<Would depend on the invert.>
As I'm planning on adding these guys at the end of the cycle around the diatom/hair algae bloom, any recommended maximum nitrate numbers there? Conflicting reports as always...)
*Stage 2*: Aiptasia control + other inverts
1 Peppermint Shrimp
2 skunk cleaners
Provided the cycle keeps checking out stable -
*Stage 3:* Fish (and a tiny invert)
Midas Blenny
Yasha goby + pistol shrimp
Tomato clown (have one in another tank that needs to move on grounds of...well, being an utter jackass to my Green Spotted Puffer, who is a pacifist apparently)
<Tank too small for this fish, will continue to be a jackass in your 28.>
-- possibly a small juvenile Tomato clown to make a pair I'd love a Six-line Wrasse or Dwarf Angel species, but have heard they're hostile to inverts and coral respectively and the current list may already be at the cap for the system. All ears if you can suggest a personality-heavy fish that would fit here and play well with others)
<Perhaps one of the Basslets.>
*Stage 4:* Coral
Not sure what I'll add here; probably give the tank some time to mature and see what I can come up with at frag swaps/LFS/LiveAquaria ORA
*Stage 5:* Final touches
As the tank hits or approaches a nice stable year running, perhaps a small clam and a *Linckia laevigata* or *Fromia milleporella* star.
<Can/will be difficult to keep in this small size system. A small Brittle Starfish would be my choice.>
From what I've been able to dig up, this should work out. Any red flags from my reef-tank sempai?
<As above.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re 28g Metal Halide Stock List/Stocking 2/3/11- 2/6/11
28g Metal Halide Stock List/Stocking 2/3/11

<Hello John>
> 150 w MH
> <<Whoa! Heating issues. RMF>>
> You ain't kiddin, sir. As the tank is still cycling rock I've tried a few
> experiments with running the lights, and on a full cycle they top the
> temperature out at 83 degrees. This is with the room temp at around 76;
> I've ordered a fan for the back of my system and will see how that does
> through the spring; a chiller may be required to keep up with our humid
> Kentucky winters.
><Mmmm, the JBJ 28g Nano HQI that I'm aware of incorporates four cooling fans.
Is the fan you are adding in addition to the four cooling fans?
James (Salty Dog)>
> 28g Metal Halide Stock List/Stocking 2/3/11
> Hi WWMedia Crew,
> <Hello John>
> Back again with (yet another) question. I promise I do have other avenues
> to occupy my time besides pestering you for good information.
> I'm planning the stock list for a JBJ 28g Nano HQI. The tank is cycling as
> we speak on the following specs:
> 150 w MH
> 45 lbs. Live rock
> Filter floss/(coming soon)Chemi-pure Elite/Chaeto
> Eshopps HOB skimmer
> 25 lbs. Aragonite sand
> I'm planning on adding the livestock in stages:
> *Stage 1:* CUC <clean up crew> as suggested and purchased from
> reefcleaners:
> 20 Dwarf Ceriths
> 9 Nassarius
> 9 Florida Ceriths
> 6 Blue Leg hermits
> 3 Large Nerite and 3 Small to medium Nerites
> <What do you plan on feeding all those snails with. Too many, especially
> in a new
> system. About 10% of what you have above would be more in line with your
> tank volume.
> Turbo and Astrea Snails are more efficient at controlling algae than the
> above. I would suggest
> adding two or three of these replacing a few Ceriths.>
o.0 Will certainly take that into account. This was the suggestion from John at reefcleaners using the specs for my tank; hard to find anyone more trusted in the hobby present company excepted. I've never had two contrary opinions from two sources I consider primary/mandatory before ;). I do have a healthy supply of Nori after living six years in Japan - but that's for me. Also have the fish-grade stuff.
(An aside -- I've heard inverts are much more susceptible to nitrates.)
> <Would depend on the invert.>
The fellows above, to start. I'm of course waiting for the end of the cycle, ammonia and nitrite at zero - but in my experience the nitrates are harder to pin down to low levels at the unstable beginnings of a tank, so I'm a bit curious as to when the CUC can go in (assuming their food source rears its ugly head as always). I'd like them to eat the algae after my cycle but would prefer them not to be eating dirt because the nitrate level was too high!
> *Stage 2*: Aiptasia control + other inverts
> 1 Peppermint Shrimp
> 2 skunk cleaners
> Provided the cycle keeps checking out stable -
> *Stage 3:* Fish (and a tiny invert)
> Midas Blenny
> Yasha goby + pistol shrimp
> Tomato clown (have one in another tank that needs to move on grounds
> of...well, being an utter jackass to my Green Spotted Puffer, who is a
> pacifist apparently)
> <Tank too small for this fish, will continue to be a jackass in your 28.>
Ah, then probably back to the fish store for him. Never in my life seen a fish with such an unpleasant demeanor, even having kept Tomato Clowns in the past.
> <Perhaps one of the Basslets.>
My girlfriend votes with you in favor of a Swissguard. With the theoretical tomato pairing out of the picture, perhaps this guy and a PomPom crab?
> *Stage 4:* Coral
> Not sure what I'll add here; probably give the tank some time to mature and
> see what I can come up with at frag swaps/lfs/LiveAquaria ORA
> *Stage 5:* Final touches
> As the tank hits or approaches a nice stable year running, perhaps a small
> clam and a *Linckia laevigata* or *Fromia milleporella* star.
> <Can/will be difficult to keep in this small size system. A small Brittle
> Starfish would be my
> choice.>
Roger roger. Will give the star a pass.
> From what I've been able to dig up, this should work out. Any red flags from
> my reef-tank sempai?
> <As above.>
> Thanks,
> <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
> John
> Thanks again!
Re 28g Metal Halide Stock List/Stocking 2/3/11- 2/6/11
Hi James,
That's right, there are four cooling fans on the unit itself. They seem to do pretty well, but the heat buildup in such a small enclosed space gets pretty intense.
<Mmm, I should know better than to doubt the Master (Bob).
<<Heee, wait till you see the biceps on John from hauling all the make up water from evaporation! B>>
I would have thought four fans would be plenty of cooling in that amount of space. The fans obviously do not put out too much CFM.>
I'm adding an extra Azoo 2-fan unit to the rear filtration area to see if that pulls the temperature down a degree or two; at $25 or so definitely a cheap solution if it works and worth a try one way or the other.
<You're welcome and do keep us informed of the results. James (Salty Dog)>
Re 28g Metal Halide Stock List/Stocking 2/3/11- 2/6/11
Thanks, will do. Might also try dusting off my Dremel skills and upgrading the fans at some point.
Mind if I ask your thoughts on the changes to the list?
<What list? If you changed/edited your original list, I do not have the old list to compare to.
If that was the case, never edit previous threads, just reply to original thread with any additions/deletions.
However, if you did edit the old list, still too many snails for this small system. James (Salty Dog)>

Coral/macro algae chemical warfare question 1/7/11
Sorry to send so many questions with a small time span but I stumbled across a few articles on WWB medial about corals launching chemical warfare against each other. well I planned to stock a tank with SPS and LPS but now I'm not to sure.
My tank is a RSM 130d which is 34 gallons. Such a small volume of water would make it easy for a attacking coral to win against others around it quickly right?
I also read that Caulerpa macro algae also does a kind of chemical warfare to. question is since I already have grape Caulerpa in my tank (I think that's the right name its the one with round ball type ends) adding coral would make my tank a toxic soup?
I have a skimmer but run no carbon, I got Chemipure elite and Purigen. I do notice on a regular basis a green tinted water in skimmer cup could that be the macroalgae?
<Likely so>
right now I only have one fish(jester goby) and a normal clean up crew(hermits, snails, emerald crabs, etc. .). To give you a better picture of what LPS I want to add are hammer coral, acan's, possible brain corals, maybe Duncan. What would you suggest? a all SPS tank?
<That you practice on easier species. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/CnidIndex1.htm
Bob Fenner>

Leather compatibility  12/9/10
Dear crew,
<Hi Sam>
At this point, as a hopeful first time reef-keeper, I have been thinking hard about which coral would best suit my desires/abilities to maintain them.
<Heee! I remember, and your musings seem all too familiar to me!>
I have so far ruled out Corallimorphs, Montiporas, as well Zoanthids and am currently leaning towards one of the various leather corals. I am housing a year old Long-nosed Hawkfish in my 14gal and plan on moving it into the 28 I have recently received once it has finished cycling (which unfortunately is taking a while as I chose to start from scratch to avoid getting any hair algae or bristle worm Polychaetes into the 28 from the 14).
<28 gallons is far too small for this fish'¦ wants 50 at least http://www.wetwebmedia.com/longnosehawkfish.htm?h= your system really needs to be 3 x bigger>
I was pushed in the direction of a Montipora after ruling out the mushrooms and Zoas, however seeing as they do require higher quality water to survive I have veered away from them, too.
<Montiporas really are beautiful, hardy, forgiving & rewarding corals. My favourite.>
I know the Hawkfish is definitely pushing it as far as size goes, but I am hoping that I can supply enough variety in the 28 to satisfy its needs.
<Space'¦ you are not providing this essential parameter, and no amount of clever aquascaping will help with this>
If not one of the various leather corals, would a sea fan be a wise choice?
<Mmm, no. I would go for a mixture of Corallimorphs & Zoanthids myself in this volume. Most 'leathers' just get far too big, although they can be trimmed, but in a small volume that would impart plenty of toxins to the system>
I am aware that Long-nosed Hawkfish often perch upon them, however I am unsure whether a 750 gph Korallia powerhead in a 28 would be able to mirror the strong current they face properly.
<By my calculations that is 26 times the volume.. should be fine.. my system runs at 19>
I am either going to go for a leather or sea fan as is, (I may or may not swap the Hawkfish for a friend's Ocellaris depending upon how well it does)
<this is a far more suitable fish for this system>
and seeing as I am confident I will be able to supply proper lighting (esp. if they rely upon Zooxanthellae) I think it's going to come down to which is easier to support in a 28 gallon with a 15g sump/refugium.
<The smaller growing softies mentioned would be easier, the leathers next, followed by the fans>
Assuming I am away from the tank for several days and do not have a calcium reactor or any other automatic supplement, would either have a hard time dipping in such elements for that sort of time?
<Are not Scleractinian, so daily maintenance of such will not be necessary>
Again, I apologize if it seems like an obvious answer, but I really feel bad about having anything die under my supervision and am looking for something that isn't so much bulletproof as amateur resistant.
<In that case you should change your Hawkfish out for something more suitable>
Thanks a thousand times,
<No problem Sam>

Small Marine Aquariums
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