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Best FAQs about Marine Livestock Stocking 1

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It's best to look-up the maximum size prospective livestock grow to before purchasing...

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Livestocking Pico, Nano, Mini-Reefs; Small Marine Aquariums
Successfully discovering, determining, picking out the best species, specimens for under 40 gallon saltwater systems.
Book 1: Principles, Algae, Invertebrates

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Opinions on Marine Livestock E-tailers, 60 gal., FOWLR Hi Bob, Thanks so much for your advice; it really is very giving of you to donate your time like this. <A pleasure and honor my friend> One follow-up question to my tank-starting efforts (I have a 60 gallon, 90 lbs. LR). I've finished the cycling stage and have a tank that's beginning to get overgrown with algae (mostly brown on the LR, back of tank, and even sand). I keep reading that you're not the biggest fan of hermits and snails as cleanup. Given your reasoning, I'd tend to agree. My questions are: can I introduce a midas blenny and a tang (purple or Kole) already?  <A Salarias, Atrosalarias or other Blenny would be better than an Ecsenius spp.... and yes if the tank has completely cycled> will they be sufficient in cleaning the algae?  <Likely so> what about the algae on the back walls of the tank?  <I'd leave it be...> should I get a couple of snails for those? <If you'd like> what about the algae on the sand? can I get a sand-sifter starfish to get rid of the algae on the sand? A couple of Cerith snails perhaps? <Yes to all possibilities... you will find your fishes, regular maintenance and mainly just time going by, succession will "take care" of most of this.> Lastly, I checked out The Marine Center (linked from you WetWebMedia page). They seem to stress the fact that they have net caught fish (mostly). <Yes, a fine company, very high standards, ideals> Is FFExpress the same?  <Don't know about FFE's actual practices... they are mainly a "selection service", going out to other businesses (marine livestock wholesalers in LA) and shipping out what they gather from them> Would you say there's a difference in quality between the two?  <Don't know enough to say really. Both seem to get high marks from hobbyist/customers... judging from listserv et al. inputs... Marine Center does seem to focus more on the "upper end", rarer livestock.> I understand if you'd rather not answer such questions, but thought I'd ask anyway. <Don't mind answering any/all queries... with what little I either know or "have heard/read" second or more hand...> Thanks! Javier <You're welcome my friend. Thank you for your insightful questions. Bob Fenner>

Marine/Compatibility   3/3/06 Hello <Hello> This question is to anybody apart from Robert. I have a 371 litre tank with the following fishes. 2 common clownfish, 1 eibli angel, 1 flame hawk, and 1 Rainford's goby. I want to add one, perhaps 2 more fish. How would another flame hawk go? What about a flame angel? Or perhaps a butterfly? <Compatibility questions are easily found on the Wet Web.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you. <You're welcome>

Research, Research, Research - Before you Buy: Flame Scallop Care 2-4-06  So now that I have purchased what I have been reading about will not likely survive, <Tsk, tsk my friend. We are to research prior to purchase not after to prevent this very thing from happening.> where can I get some information on feeding my flame scallop.  <Here; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bivfdgfaqs.htm , other things that will help include a LARGE fishless refugium and a phytoplankton reactor, if not then daily target feedings are mandatory. Even this animal rarely lives past a few months in captivity.>.Had I read some of these e-mails yesterday, I would not have gotten it. <You know what "they" say……."it's 20/20."> It's so beautiful and I am dreading what sounds like the inevitable.   <Unfortunately yes.> By the way, the aquarium store that sold me the flame scallop also sold me a sea apple-THE SAME DAY! <2 choices I would not make to say the least.>   Of course, after the fact, I came home and read two of my books, both written by Bob Fenner, and I got so paranoid about the sea apple, that I made the guy come and take it out. <Good.> So now back to my first unwise decision, can you please direct me to some detailed info on the care and feeding of a flame scallop?   <Use the above link as well as the WWM Google search feature and read before you purchase/write. If you need help choosing a phytoplankton substitute/product, DT's is probably the best in my experience.> Thank you, Kim Hamilton <Adam J.> Stocking The Conscientious Way 75 gal, FO Hello Crew, <Hey there! Scott F. here today!> Thanks in advance for your feedback, and as always great site and books! I currently have a 75 gallon tank with 75 lbs. of LR, a sump/fuge with a 5 in. deep sand bed, and macroalgae. The tank is currently stocked with 8 soft corals and the following fish/inverts: 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Bicolor Blenny, 1 pr. True Percula Clowns, 1 Blue Hippo Tang, 1 Passer Angel, 1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, and 1 Fire Shrimp. Yes, I know the passer and the tang will outgrow this tank which leads to my explanation and question. <Okay...you read my mind here!> I can't afford to have multiple tanks to create different types of systems, so I plan on changing my tank every 2 years. <That can be pricey, huh?> I want to add an Urchin Pro skimmer to my sump and more 40 lbs. more LR. <A great skimmer, but with the crowd that you're keeping and your plan to swap to (larger) systems, I'd get a skimmer that's a bit more capable.> After trading in all my current fish and corals, I want to restock with the following: 1 Harlequin Tusk, 1 Purple Tang, 1 Trigger (Humu Humu or Clown), 1 Angel (looking for a suggestion), and 1 Hawaiian Sharpnose Puffer. Can this work starting with all small specimens? What order would I stock these fish? Will this work for 2 years? And finally, if this plan is a disaster can you recommend some fish choices based on my taste in fish listed above? Regards, Greg <Ahh, Greg- now I understand what you meant by "changing the tank" every two years! The idea is to keep the fish for this period of time, then swap them out for new ones, right? Well, I have to be honest with you. In my humble opinion, this is an absolutely awful idea! I understand that you figure that you'd trade the fish after they outgrow your system. But this essentially "downgrades" the animals to the status of used cars or something.  Think about it. if, for example, you lived in an apartment and couldn't keep a full sized dog or cat, would you purchase a puppy or kitten and then trade it away after two years for a new one? I doubt it.  Please don't think about fishes like this! Who knows what kind of care they'll get after you "trade them in"? My most fervent wish is that we as hobbyists only purchase fishes that we intend to keep for the rest of their lives, and not even think about obtaining specimens that will outgrow our systems. Quite honestly, my rather terse opinion on stocking fishes is to simply not purchase ones that will outgrow your current tank.  All too often, the new tank that we plan to get 'next year" is tabled when the car breaks down, the roof needs repair, or some other unforeseen financial distraction occurs. I'm off the soapbox now! As far as specimens for your tank- try "miniature" versions of the fishes you're talking about. For example, a Halichoeres Wrasse instead of the Tuskfish, a Centropyge Angelfish, etc. In the end, you'll need to do your homework- but the results will benefit your chosen specimens for many years to come. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Stocking level  09/13/2005 Hey... I was wondering what eel would you recommend for a 300 gallon which I'm setting up next year...how many? Would any other fish do good with that eel? <What eel, how many what?? James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your time ...Great website! David

Need Suggestions on What Fish to Add 8/9/05 5.5 gal, Reef I have a 5.5g AGA with a 28W PC and an AquaClear 300 turned fuge. The tank consists of 7 Nassarius snails, 2 Cerith snails, 1 peppermint shrimp, and 4 sexy shrimp.  There are currently 4 distinct small zoo colonies and a 5th is on the way.   I feed DT's phytoplankton twice a week very sparingly and I feed 5-6 Spectrum pellets daily for the inverts.  The main ingredients in the pellets are Krill, Herring, Wheat Flower, Amino Acids, and Algae Meal. I am looking for a list of fish that would be good choices for this system. I want like to keep the same feeding routine.  I plan to add only one fish so I want to make the right decision the first time around. <... look to the various Blennioid and Gobioid fishes here... These are covered in detail on WWM... the index here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm Scroll down, click and read. Bob Fenner> Fish selection 8/9/05  180 gallon FOWLR Hello,  my name is Kevin and I am just in the planning stages of setting up a 180 gallon FOWLR.  I have had past experience with freshwater, but not saltwater tanks. My questions concerns the feeding schedule of saltwater fish.   My concern is that once a year we take a one week vacation and due to where I live, I may not always be able to count on having someone come by to feed the fish.   I am looking at one of the morays (zebra or snowflake) and a lionfish, both (from what I have read) of which can go a week without feeding.   <Yes. Easily... and a much better risk than having someone unqualified do this in your absence> Can you tell me of some other potential tankmates that would go with these two that can also get along without feeding for the week, preferably something interesting or colorful? <... could, but this would/could take hours... instead, please read... on WWM on the compatibility and selection FAQs files...>   I would like to add two other tankmates, something along the lines of a trigger, angelfish or panther grouper- if my tank is large enough.  Are the automatic feeders made these days reliable enough for this situation? <Some are>   I would try my best to get someone reliable to check in on the tank a time or two while gone, but I may not be able to count on it.  Thanks for any suggestions, I really enjoy your great website. Kevin     <Welcome to marine aquarium keeping! Bob Fenner>   Addition Of Livestock 8/9/05 Hi! My name is Sam. I currently have a 2"Lx1"Wx1"H tank, 4 damsels ( electric blue, tiger, yellow tailed and domino), <Too many for this size...> 1 Clarkii domino, 2 fairly size tube worms (all fishes are of similar size i.e 1"). I'm thinking of adding 1 common clown, 1 damsel (similar size) and stone grown polyps. Do you think it would be OK considering the existing community? <No.... you know where to read... Bob Fenner>

Stocking Plan 8/6/05   90 gal, reef Hi, I have a 90 gallon aquarium with live rock and corals in which I want to stock the following: 1 Mandarin Dragonet 1 Bicolor Blenny                                     1 Rainfordi Goby 1 Lawnmower Goby 1 Yasha Hashe Goby 1 Yellowhead Jawfish All of this with only one big partner, a Sohal Tang and maybe a Flameback Angel. Do you think I would have any problems in the mixture, I want it to be more of a goby community and blennies aquarium. If not what do you recommend, Thanks a lot for your help AJ <Well, AJ- your stocking preferences are similar to mine! I love Gobies and Blennies, which make up the majority of my fish population. I would recommend some modifications to your stocking plan, however. First, the Mandarin has a reputation for being a bit of a fussy eater; you will need a very well established system with lots of microfauna for him to forage among if you intend to keep this fish. The same goes for the Rainfordi Goby. If you don't have these conditions, consider a different couple of fishes. I like Halichoeres species Wrasses, myself. The Flameback Angel is a great aquarium fish, but I am less inclined to recommend the Sohal Tang. These Tangs have a well-deserved reputation for viciousness, and require large amounts of physical space to thrive in captivity. They can take an extreme dislike to a particular fish or fishes and can make life shorter and more miserable for their "mark". All-in-all, I just don't think that this is a fish for the casual aquarist who wants a Tang in his/her system. They really need special conditions to thrive. There are a lot of other far more suitable Tangs for use in a community fish tank like yours.>

Stocking A Marine Tank: A "Downsizing Trend"? 7/22/05  125 gal, FO We're trying to finalize a fish list for our 125g (6ft).  I think we are mostly there, but have still been trying to decide on a couple things.  When we were at the LFS the other day, they had a Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis.  What an amazing fish! <It is a spectacular fish.> It was listed as an adult and only about 4 inches so I started doing some research.  We'd dismissed most of the non-pygmy angels, but WWM says that this fish only grows to 8 inches in the wild.  What do you think about the suitability of our tank for this fish? <Well, a 6 foot tank is definitely enough "physical space", IMO, but think again about water volume and it's ability to process dissolved metabolic wastes (which can be considerable in a tank of aggressive, heavy-feeding fishes). If this guy is the largest fish in the tank, and if there are not too many tankmates, it could work, with a few caveats regarding the tank's environment, rockwork, etc...> Secondly, this is our current proposed list of fish: Picasso Trigger <An excellent fish, but it can become "attitudinal", taking a particular dislike to a certain fish...They are unpredictable, and can produce large quantities of metabolic waste.> Thalassoma lucasanum (or similar) <Can get pretty good sized...I'd opt for one of the mid-sized Halichoeres species, if you are so inclined, such as H. marginatus, etc.> Valentini Puffer <Another one of those guys that can be unpredictable. Neat fishes, but potentially a problem...And when you have the dental work that one of these guys have, "problems" can be fatal to his tankmates...> Clown (underdetermined, something that will hold it's own) <If you are going with tough fishes, then a Maroon (Premnas sp.) is the way to go, IMO. They can be feisty!> One pugnacious Pseudochromis <Troublemakers at any size, but in a large tank with sufficient hiding spaces, he should be fine...depending on the species that you chose. Alternate- the not-so-sexy, but equally beautiful Royal Gramma...A Caribbean favorite, even among us "Pacific Snobs"!> How would this angel fit in this mix, and do you see any other problems?  Thanks a bunch! Ben <Well, Ben- because of the ultimate size, setup needs, and environmental parameters that this fish requires, I'd consider this angel the "centerpiece" of the tank, and develop a stocking plan around him. My thought is to eliminate the Trigger, Puffer, and go with smaller versions of the wrasse. I think that there are tons of cool blennies, gobies, small Hawkfishes, and other small-to-medium-sized fishes that will be a better, but still awesome-looking "supporting cast" for this spectacular angel. Compromise is everything in marine aquarium stocking, so set your priorities and plan around them. Remember, if you DO elect to go with the Trigger and Puffer, think about the potential for aggressiveness, and the very real havoc that their dental work can wreak on tankmates and decor (I can vouch for the Trigger's teeth- I've caught them fishing with a bamboo pole many times out on the Big Island, and these choppers are not pleasant to deal with!). I am a big fan of "downsizing" stocking plans- choosing smaller versions or similar types of fishes to the big guys...Often a better recipe for success for hobbyists with medium-to-moderately large tanks. Remember- this is just my opinion, and should not be taken as the "last word", but I've made plenty of stocking mistakes over the years, so I think I'm pretty well qualified to comment :) . Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.> Stocking Plan for a 75g Tank 7/21/05  FOWLR Hi crew, <Tyler> First, thank you for running this great website. It really is a wonderful resource! <Welcome> I have a few compatibility questions about my 75 gallon tank. It's pretty much a FOWLR now, but will be a soft coral reef. This is the tentative stock list that I've been thinking about: - 2 (a pair) of captive-bred Blue-Line Cinnamon Clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus) - 1 Yashia Goby (Stonogobiops yashia) with a Randall's Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli) - 1 Jawfish (probably Opistognathus aurifrons) - 1 (or maybe 2) captive-bred Yellow Assessor(s) (Assessor flavissimus) - A small or medium sized fish that will swim around in the open Do you think the clownfish will be too aggressive for these tank mates? <Mmm, I'd place it last... as a small/er specimen... but will likely work out fine> They are in the tank now, but could be moved to another tank while other things were added if they needed to be added last. The clowns could also be permanently moved to the other tank, but it wouldn't be my preference. Do you think that a Bubble-Tipped Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) would be likely to catch the goby, Jawfish, or assessor? <Mmm, no> According to most sources, BTAs are one of the anemones least likely to catch fish, but the Jawfish seems to be particularly high risk. Do you think that the shrimp/goby pair would be compatible with the Jawfish? <Should be enough room for all> In some ways it seems like they occupy a similar niche, but they are both pretty passive. Would there be a risk of the shrimp and Jawfish meeting underground and fighting? <Not much> The "prime real-estate" is an isosceles triangle that covers about 20% of the tank's bottom. <The shrimp and goby will go elsewhere... under a rock> Could I get a bonded pair of the yellow assessors (instead of just 1)? <Maybe> Though there are lots of little gaps in my rockwork, I think of my tank as having 2 caves (both reasonably large and have several entrances/exits each). The clownfish both go into one of the caves at night or when they are startled, so I think that that probably only leaves one cave for the Assessor(s). I'm still thinking about what the last fish should be. I've read that having a "dither fish" that will swim around all the time will help to bring the assessors out, but I've also read that large fast swimming fish can keep the goby in its burrow. I'm really not sure what I want this fish to be yet, so if you have any ideas, I would be happy to hear them. <Look into the genus Cirrhilabrus... I think you will be pleased> Finally, does this sound like an okay bioload? <Yes> Should I just leave off the last fish? <Mmm, no> I have an AquaC Remora Pro Skimmer and about 90 pounds of live rock, but no sump or refugium.   <Perhaps later. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tyler How much research is sufficient? How About Using a Spell-checker? Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven> Suddenly, it across my mind on this question: "How much research is sufficient? Where do we stop before making the purchase?"  <A very good question... as it's one that makes me wonder... At first pass I'd say, "each must decide for themselves"...> We are all humans, we make mistakes. I am not 100% conscientious myself, however, at least I recognize and promote that livestock should not be added until the aquarium is cycled with LR. <At least (and a very strong positive personal trait) you are self-aware> I have spent quite an investment in books. (gathering the knowledge is one thing, practicing is other - more difficult). <A/the human condition> Why I ask this question is because I often advise others that they have to research, research and research before embarking on the hobby, adding fish....etc...etc. (of course, I am occasionally impulsive and buy before adequate research). <Okay> So are we in position to advise others, when sometimes we yourselves commit such mistakes? <Hope so... else I've been full of the proverbial beans all these years> (At times I view it as "we help each other - because, there are times we are in neutral position as we are not the ones buying that lovely fish, therefore have a clear mind and advise conscientiously, sometimes we need it because our conscientious approach is blocked by impulsive behaviour.") <I agree with your view, observation> Sorry back to question, how much is sufficient? (what if somebody throws the question back at me). I admit the ocean is not build and understood overnight. There is hundreds if not millions of data in the net, books, magazines, forums and discussions. Sometimes we get contradicting information may be due to different setups, different mix of communities, mix results due to lack of adequate success in the hobby like anemones. I thought of this solution - Placing a figure of 10 research articles from different sources is easy (mix of net, books, experiences, etc) but I think it is the feel of knowing if i am going to go the extra mile to provide a safe home and provide its dietary needs such as culturing live food, chop and mix, lighting, etc etc. I know is subjective. Thanks Steven <I am reminded of one of my favorite works by an early Taoist, Chuang-Tse/Tzu... "The Lathe of Heaven"... of course transliterated by a Trappist monk... the word "Chien" for Heaven is better understood as "nature"... Okay... the finishing lines: "To stop at what can be understood is a high achievement. Those who cannot (non-volitional?) will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven/nature"... The conceit/device of a lathe is apropos... as the only tool that can physically (re)produce itself... Where are you in this poem/construct? Oh, and to give a plug here, this is also a title by Ursula K. LeGuin... a worthy read and lesson on this same issue (knowing, limits, foibles). Bob Fenner> 

Thanks a ton, New "Rule of Thumb" Thanks a ton for helping me out.  I appreciate the rules of thumb, so different than the old one inch per gallon rule I once followed in fresh-water.  <Yes it is Aaron. Keep in mind oxygen levels aren't as high in saltwater as they are in fresh. James (Salty Dog)> 

Starting out I am thinking of starting a marine tank. My research has indicated the smallest one should start with is 55 gal. Yet I saw a reader here that indicated they had a 20 gal tank that was doing well. You didn't chastise so I guess 20 gal would be okay? How many fish could I support in that small a tank? I am very familiar with freshwater but am ignorant of marine aquariums. Thanks for the help!  << What a delightful query! Glad to have another intelligent sensitive mind in our hobby. Yes, the larger the system, definitely the better... more stable, less prone to disasters, more flexibility in stocking, more margin for error in... And yes, I agree with your assessment: generally the smallest tank size I endorse for (especially for new marine aquarists) is forty gallons. And yes, I don't always reprimand folks for their apparent pet-fish shortcomings... But, there are indeed some "advanced", make that learned, observant and patient marine aquarists who have success with "small" systems. Stocking densities are a little tricky with saltwater. As with fresh, the type of livestock is more important than size/length in inches per gallon... Are the animals fast moving, mean, high oxygen-demand? And here again, the smaller systems call for more caution... but something in the half inch per gallon, give or take... or a calculation per surface area... or let's say about half of freshwater... When, where in doubt, under stock. Bob Fenner>>

Ambitious Fish Stocking. 150 gal, reef For a 150 g (will upgrade when the two angels outgrow the tank, they will be 5" when I get them: 30 fish: Imperator Angel, Flame Angel, Regal Angel, Coral Beauty Angel, Watanabei Angel x2, <Pick one or two of the above> Bicinctus Clown x2, Australian Orange Tailed Damsel, <will become aggressive and territorial> Blue Reef Chromis x7, Fiji Devil, Jeweled Damsel, <The same thing could be said about these two also> Neon Goby x6, Neon Goby: Gold Stripe x2, Purple Firefish, Firefish, Lawnmower Blenny, Cleaner Wrasse <I would also cut the Cleaner Wrasse> <The damsels get to be a real nuisance for a lot of people. You may consider leaving them out.> 40 Invertebrates: Fire Shrimp x4 , Cleaner Shrimp x4, Peppermint Shrimp x4, Camel Shrimp x4, Red Lobster, Purple Lobster,  <All of these shrimp will probably not get along and the lobsters will surely not like one another and try to eat some shrimp> Blue Stripe Tuxedo Urchin x3, Blue Linckia x2, Bubble Anemone x2, <Lighting?> Pink & White Feather Duster x4, <Will need target feedings> Pink and Blue Linckia x2, <You might want to just get one Linckia total> Anemone Shrimp x2, Anemone Crab x2, <These guys are difficult filter feeders> Dancing Anemone Shrimp x2, Cat's Paw x2, <I do not know which genera of coral you are referring to?> Orange Sun Coral x2, <Another difficult creature that must be selectively fed> Toadstool Mushroom x2, Maxima "Ultra" Turquoise Clam <You did not mention your lighting> Clean up Invertebrates: Scarlet Reef Hermit x27, Red Leg Hermit x29, Left Handed Hermit x5, Emerald Crab x5, Red Fromia Starfish x2, Hawaiian Black Brittle Star x4, Orange Knobby Star x2, <Most thorny or knobby starfish are omnivores capable of eating a wide variety of things including corals.> Black Banded Serpent Star, Red Banded Serpent Star x2, Impatiens Cucumber x3, Tiger Tail Cucumber x2, Pink & Black Cucumber, Burrowing Cerith Snail x20, White Burrowing Starfish x2, <You probably will not need all of these sand sifters. They will be competing against one another for a limited amount of food. If one or several starve to death, you could have a real mess.> Turbo Snail x12, Bumble Bee Scavenger Snail x12, Abalone x3, Tonga Burrowing Cowry, Hawaiian Marbled Cowry Too Crowded? <Yes> Seem ok? <See above notes> Thanks a lot <I might have seemed a little too critical and that was not my intention. In fact, I applaud you for asking before purchasing. You will probably have a problem controlling nutrients to keep the corals happy with this fish load, even after cutting out some guys. Good luck, Steven Pro (Bob is out for a while and he asked Anthony Calfo and myself to fill in for him.)>

Re: fish size/tank size? Dear Bob, Thanks very much for your answers to all my questions. I have a couple of quick follow up questions. The only source I have found with recommended tank sizes for specific fish is Scott Michael's book.  <A very good single source, and a very good writer/photographer... but still, only one...> There seem to be more considerations than just full grown size.  <Yes indeed... social dynamics, resource specialization considerations... so much more, would require an algorithm (analysis of variance, ANOVA) of huge proportions... You can understand... there cannot be a truly useful formula/model that simply states: "oh so many, inches of a will always get along with some other unknown mix..."> When I am looking at other sources like the internet, how can I determine if a fish will thrive in my tank size? <When in doubt, ask about... Many folks here (the Net) who have actual real-life (and death) experience with the livestock you have in mind... Ask on the various bulletin boards (WWM's can be found at www.wetwebfotos.com/talk )... AND also if/when in doubt, UNDER-CROWD... the more space, the better...> One other question, regarding a Tang: instead of an Acanthurus, you recommended I look into Ctenochaetus or Zebrasomas. I love the Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis in Michael's book but it requires a larger tank (100 gallon). The Zebrasoma Scopas is very interesting -- is this a better choice (75 gallons is recommended in Michael's book) <Yes... these animals like more room... but one can/will do fine in your size/shape system... and help tremendously to keep it "tidy"> Thanks! <Please, last time, read through the selection articles and reviews of these fishes posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Inches of fish per tank?  Fish-only marine tank, 90 or 110 gallons Dear Mr. Fenner: I just bought your book over the weekend after an exhaustive search to find someone who still carried a copy. Anyway, after perusing through several pages, I couldn't find any recommendation as to how many fish I might be able to keep in my future marine aquarium.  <Yes, a complex question... different formulae/rules of thumb offered by others at times... half an inch per gallon... not really workable, simple to state.> I have heard many different theories, such as 4" of fish per gallon for saltwater. <Yikes, way too much... even a ten inch specimen in a twenty gallon system at "half an inch" would likely be way too much e.g...........> I bought your book because I personally consider myself a conscientious person and would not do something that would risk the well-being of the rest of the population in my tank. <Good for you, us, the planet> My plan is to develop a Fish-only marine tank, 90 or 110 gallons, 100 lbs. of live rock and a deep sand bed. Maybe even a plenum. Is there any magic number? <Hmm, decidedly not... without developing a huge algorithm that would somehow take into consideration metabolism, instantaneous rates of agonistic effects, coefficients of variability per species/size/sex, dynamics likelihood between and amongst all possible mixes... Whew.> Thanks and your book is terrific! Fred Siegele <Thank you my new friend in fish. Suffice it to state/write that "less is better" and a mix of species, ultimate "average" maximum sizes at half an inch per real gallon is a good "maximum" stocking density... Please augment the CMA coverage with the surveys and referenced works on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com and feel free to contact me or chat over your particular proposed livestocking list on our chatforum. Bob Fenner>

Overstocking a small marine system I have 2 questions for you that hopefully you can answer. The first one is concerning a tang I have in my tank. I have a 30 gallon tank with 40 lbs of live Fiji rock, protein skimming and power compacts. This is my second tang, the first one I had was a Yellow tang which did not make it due to ICH problems.  <Likely added to by the stress of being in such a small system... a thirty is a "little world" for this species.> I have read that all tangs are very susceptible to ICK,  <Mmm, some much more than others> the one I just purchased is a Sailfin tang.  <This is even a worse choice (in the same genus) of tangs... gets to be about half the length of your tank in the wild... I would trade it back in for more suitable livestock> I spoke to the shop where I bought the tang, and he told me to keep the salinity between 1.020 and 1.021, on the low side to stop the life cycle of the ich parasite.  <This won't "stop" it... only slow it> Is this a good method? Will any of my other fish suffer at this salinity level, I have 3 Chromis, a clown, Firefish, and a mandarin.  <If the spg is/was moved slowly enough (no more than a thousandth per day) and the fishes in initially good health, then probably not... many invertebrates suffer much more with these changes... And again, your system is more than "topped out" with the fishes you list BEFORE having placed the Sailfin... Please take a look through the "Stocking" and "Livestock Selection" (marine, reef) materials posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> I don't want to go through the same experience I had with the yellow tang, I was constantly moving him to a hospital tank and doing freshwater dips on him to get rid of his ICK. I would do a treatment on him , he would be fine for like a week and then BOOM once again he would get the ICK. I guess the stress of freshwater dips and changing tanks got to him because he did not make it. Well, thanks in advance for all the help you can give on this matter. I almost forgot my second question, will a long nose butterfly be able to live in that tank with out any problems with the tang. Thanks for all your help once again. <Thank you for asking. You strike me as an intelligent, compassionate aquarist... who desires their livestock, system to do well... I would start planning for a (much) larger system, and/or decide on smaller fishes, perhaps some invertebrate and algae additions other than the larger fishes listed... Neither a Longnose or Zebrasoma Tang are appropriate for a thirty gallon> PS. How do you reply to all your email so quickly, you must get thousands of email a day? Alfredo Carrion <Generally just dozens, am a fast keyed, passionate about helping, inspiring, setting an example if you will. Bob Fenner>

Massive Fish Loss, 72 gal., FO Hi Bob, <That title is unsettling...> I have a 72 gal bow front marine aquarium started in Feb 2001. It is a fish only tank with sand and Tufa rock. I have a large Amiracle wet/dry, AquaC Remora Pro protein skimmer, UV sterilizer and a 2 powerheads for circulation. Live Stock is: Panther Grouper, Snowflake Moray, Clown Trigger, Yellow Tang, Blueface Angel (juv), 4 Damsels and a FFExpress cleanup crew. I realize this is a significant load and every 4 or 5 days I measure a slight trace of ammonia & nitrites (.2 or less) - <Not good... as you know... very stressful to have to live in a veritable sewer... this system is way overloaded... physically and psychologically> it comes and goes, <So do we... let's make it later> and PH is at 8.2. This is been going on for a while (2 months or so) with no adverse affects - till now. <No deadly apparent ones...> About 5 days ago my Clown Trigger seemed to have this white powdery residue on him, and in spots it's pealed off similar to a pealing sunburn (that's the best way I can explain the pealing). His spirit is somewhat reduced but he is still eating. I did have a high Nitrate reading (100+ ppm) in the tank, and did a large water change (50%). I also noticed this on one of my large Domino Damsels, but not as severe. <This is too much water, too much waste, too much fish...> Well, things got significantly worse......I removed the trigger and put him in a quarantine tank and treated it with Maracyn (recommendation by a LFS). <Did they recommend a much larger system?> Well, the trigger didn't make it overnight. A day or so later I noticed the grouper has what seemed to look like pop-eye in one eye and the damsel getting worse. So I did another 50% water change and medicated the main tank with Maracyn. This was probably not the right thing to do, but I don't have sufficient equipment to individually hospitalize all of my fish. On Monday I lost my yellow tang - he looked pale, but was eating the day before it died. Tuesday I lost my angel and a damsel. Both were eating and looked okay the day before they died. Man, I feel helpless!!!!!! <You are not helpless... you are the one to make things right.> Today, the grouper is still hanging in there.....Still has pop-eye and nothing else visual. The eel I can honestly say shows no debilitating signs and is still eating. Ironically, the snails and hermit crabs seem totally unaffected by what's happening...Why? <They're scavengers for the most part... waiting and scavenging> I introduced about 30 lbs of live sand about a month ago. I feed them a variety of foods. Frozen krill, frozen silversides, brine shrimp cubes, frozen specialty jell-based foods (formula 1, trigger formula, etc.) frozen squid cubes, fresh chopped clam, fresh scallops and romaine lettuce. All of them soaked in Zoe. <You're just lacking space... perhaps more vigorous filtration for the larger space> I have also use supplements such as Zoe, Zoecon, and essential elements. I have twice fed the carnivores live shrimp (krill size and transparent in appearance) that the LFS says are caught locally (Long Island, NY). Do you think these could be a carrier of something, or something in the other foods? <Not likely a/the factor> Can certain types of algae growth do this? <What? Bring about livestock losses? Yes, but this is probably not a cause here> I have a tight glass top, due to the eel, so could there be a lack of oxygen present? <Maybe... can be tested for...> I know my water quality has been on occasions sub-par, but would that cause this massive fish loss, <Absolutely> or am I going through this "wipe out syndrome" I've only briefly read about? I read a lot on your site but obviously not enough. - Please Help Thanks, Ed <Keep reading, studying, thinking deeply on your situation my friend. You've placed a few thousand gallons worth of fishes in a seventy two gallon box of water... this is the primary reason for your losses. Start with fishes that are and stay smaller, or look to getting a much bigger system. Bob Fenner>

New tank and a whole 'lotsa fish, 75 gal., FO hello <Anthony Calfo in you service> I have just purchased a new aquarium, and I wanted to ask a few questions about the compatibility of the fish that I would like to put in this aquarium.  <fire away...> It is a 125gallon tank (72" X 18" X 22"), with wet/dry filter and protein skimmer and will be cycled in about 5-6 weeks. in the 125 I would like to have- 5-6" emperor angel, 3-4" Sohal tang, 3-4" clown trigger, 4" Australian harlequin Tuskfish, 6-8" Vlamingi tang, golden puppy dog puffer, 3-4" Lyretail hogfish, 3-4" powder blue surgeonfish, 4-6" queen or blue-face angel. do you think it is a wise idea to house these fish in this tank?  <admittedly it would be seriously overstocked even while many of these fish are juveniles. The Vlamingi and Sohal are not even candidates for a tank this size even as the only fish! An adult Vlamingi grows to 2 1/2 feet long (60cm)!!!! and the Sohal is not far behind. We really must be responsible aquarists and plan for this growth in the 2-5 year picture just as one would do considering a big dog in a small apartment>. The puffer is way too clumsy and dangerous for this crowd (really belongs in a predator tank perhaps with the clown trigger (most likely in fact). The two angels will almost certainly fight... you'll need to pick one. If you are a beginner, don't take a Powder Blue tang for free... they are sensitive and it would be best to wait until you are more experienced and prepared.> I have an existing 75 gallon tank with the emperor angel, Sohal tang and clown trigger and when the time comes I am going to take them out and put them in the larger tank. thanks for your time and advice <as adults...these three fish will outgrow the 125 gallon easily (cumulative adult size of the three approaching four feet of fish in total in the 4-7 year picture. So... it is hard to recommend more fish without knowing if there is an even larger tank in the future (else you might watch them stunt and die prematurely and wonder why). In the meantime, frequent water changes, two good skimmers (cleaned alternate times) and of course a great biological filter... I'd say the hogfish would be a nice addition or even a blue or green bird wrasse (probably could hang with this tough crowd)> Ian Behnk <Best regards, Anthony>

Hazy Water, 125 gal. FO Hello and I just wanted you to know that I have read a lot of your great advise. I will take my turn and ask for your advise.  <batter up...> I am new to this hobby. I have a 125gl fish only tank with a sump under it. I have a micron sock and a hanging fluidized sand bed (rated for up to 300gl) on it. I have about 20 pounds of live rock and 2 inches of crushed corals.  < a nutrient sink and dangerous problem in a medium to heavy-fed fish tank... thin this out to less than 1" (.5) otherwise it traps too much detritus> I also have a prism hang on skimmer.  <please do consider a second and more efficient model> My fish include a Yellow Head Eel and Jewel Eel both about 1 1/2ft long. A small snow flake Eel, 3ft Green Moray Eel (The Beast), A Panther Grouper, Big Eyed Soldier fish, Niger Trigger, 2 inch Damsel, Banded Shark And a Toad fish.  <Marty... it truly breaks my heart to hear this obscene amount of fish in your tank. You were done a great disservice by whoever sold all of these to you. Your tank spatially and biologically is not even humane as a home for just the green moray. You need help fast, my friend>  Every one gets along great except when the green beast goes to eat. Then they all hide. As I would too. Hahaha. My problem is this. I have always had a white haze in my tank.  <heavy bio-load, serious over-stocking> I can never seem to get the water crystal clear.  <above> Reading a lot of the advise I see on here I am beginning to thing I don't have the proper filtration.  <what you need is a 1000 gallon tank or to thin out your population drastically. That biological haze you are seeing is the last step before a meltdown. Might be days, weeks or even a couple of months away... but it is quite cruel and you will lose fish> I was thinking of putting bio balls in my sump. Would that help.  <saltwater rain above your tank would not help at this point...hehe> I have also read that I could put live sand and live rock in the sump. Can you please help me . And please don't tell me I am over crowded because I would then have to buy a new tank cause I would never want to get rid of any of my fish. They all have there own personalities. Thanks, Marty <Bless your soul! Thank you truly for allowing me to give you an excuse to buy a new tank!!! I am perhaps as passionate about aquariology as you are. Please get that new aquarium ASAP and conduct weekly water changes in the meantime. With kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Re: advice (marine livestocking) Hi Steven Pro or Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo here in your service... many good folk sharing e-mail/mentoring responsibilities> I am adding to the email I sent out last night, I told you that I wanted to keep a cinnamon clown and cleaner shrimp together, <yes... I have read the query and reply> but  my main goal is to keep 2-4 large (4-6 inches) fish of any breed with lots of corals and a few simple inverts. If you could please recommend some species that would fit me. <Hmmmm... I'll have to assume that you are talking about getting a larger aquarium, because a 50 gallon tank would be fatally small (beyond cruel indeed) for as many as four 4-6" fish. Especially if we are talking about "tang" size/type fish. Case in point, Purple and Sailfin tangs are quite common and popular but a single average sized specimen (with an average adult size of 8-12"...with Sailfins reported at approaching 16"!!!) but a single fish will outgrow or stunt and die within just a few years. My point is that if we are still talking about the 50 gall... you'll need to buy fish with an adult size of 4-6 inches to have a prayer of keeping 2-3 in a 50 gall tank. That unfortunately rules about a lot of popular butterflies, angels, tangs and wrasses. Wanting "large" fish and having a 50 gallon tank are honestly incompatible my friend. Your request is for recommended species. While I cannot recommend any large fish, would you consider some interesting recommendations for small to mid-sized fish? How about a shoal of royal Firefish...perhaps some of the hardier fairy wrasses (like the magnificent flame wrasse).. and if you are very good about diverse feeding (Sweetwater zooplankton, Mysid shrimp, etc)... some of the smaller Anthiines would be great. Best of luck in your endeavors. Kindly, Anthony> Thanks, Ryan 

Clownfish ? Stocking a saltwater tank with a Crowbar... 6 gal., reef Hello Robert, <friend, author and Malt Ball lover Anthony Calfo in your service> I was reading through some of your articles online and noticed the section that said a reader could email you with a question. Here is mine: I have a 6 gallon saltwater tank, which successfully held a clownfish.  It originally came with 2 cardinal fish, the clownfish, a Basslet, anemone, live coral and a Featherduster (not sure what they are called)  <My heaven's... was it stocked with a crowbar? Hehe... that really is a dreadful bioload for 6 gallons and rather cruel of the previous owner> One by one these things died leaving the clownfish and the Basslet the longest. The tank had those tape worm looking things and just fell apart quickly. It was a gift and an unexpected one at that. I'm thinking there was far too much in there.  <excellent intuition...very well> I went away for a month and took that time to put the survivor - the clownfish - in a tank at a pet shop....he was all by himself. cleaned out the aquarium totally, put in shells and one large rock. conditioned the water and put survivor back with a new friend. This was in Sept. A couple of weeks ago the original died.  <the tank is beyond it's critical threshold with even two fish... if you must keep a 6 gallon, please keep only one small fish indeed> His mouth faded in color although I didn't see any white spots or threads that the articles refer to. His gills were sticking out and his lower "lip" was quivering all the time. he was lethargic and finally died about 2-3 weeks ago. <not indicative of any specific pathogenic symptom unfortunately> The remaining fish was fine until about 10 days ago. his gills aren't sticking out nor is he as faded around the mouth. He is extremely lethargic and always in the lower corner of the tank at a 45 degree angle. We think he is blind because he used to shoot to the top of the tank when we'd even walk by in hopes of being fed but now he moves but doesn't track our fingers anymore. we feed him in the a.m. and at night. I haven't seen him eat in days. <please test the water chemistry (pH, ammonia, salinity)... really bad things can happen so fast to water chemistry in such a small tank even if you test the parameters weekly. It really is a torture chamber as marine aquaria go by virtue of its size> The water temp was 86. I lowered it to 80-82. <yes, a must. The low dissolved O2 in that small tank was much lower still at such high temperature and could have easily killed the clownfish> Any other suggestions? <honestly... do consider a larger aquarium... and if not, just one fish and weekly maintenance and water testing please> Do you think he has the parasites? <not symptomatic... more likely water quality> Thanks, Christine <kind regards, Anthony>

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