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FAQs on Going from Freshwater, Brackish... to Marine Systems 3

Related Articles: Converting from Freshwater to Marine Set-Up,

Related FAQs: Freshwater to Marine 1Freshwater to Marine 2,

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

SW stocking & filtration      1/21/15
Hello there. I have a 125 brackish set up that I plan on converting over to saltwater in the next few months. The tank currently has the following:
1 green spotted pufferfish
1 ruby scat
8 mono Sebaes
2 Columbian catfish
1 white crayfish
<These aren't brackish.>
3 black mollies

As The salinity of the water gets closer to seawater (around 1.015) I plan on returning everything back to my LFS except the scat, both catfishes, and three of the monos.
<Cool. Though the Puffer and Mollies would be fine in seawater (though how long either would survive alongside a Volitans Lionfish is debatable! So your choice here is a wise one.>
Once I finally get the salinity to 1.022 I plan on introducing the following:
1 black volitans lionfish
1 red cigar wrasse
1 orange shoulder tang
1 black edged moray eel
1 African starfish
3 squirrelfish

<An interesting mix of fish. Do think about the Squirrelfish carefully though; many species are happier at slightly lower temperatures than some other tropical marine fishes.>
I was wondering if this would be too overstocked because if so, I can easily get rid of the monos and the catfish but the mono is special to me.
<That's a lot of fish for a 125 gallon tank! The Cigar Wrasse alone gets to some 50 cm/20 inches in the wild, so even a 200 gallon tank would be somewhat cramped. If this was me, I'd stock somewhat slowly. I'd skip echinoderms and other invertebrates, at least initially, because they're much more delicate (with a few exceptions) than marine fish. A Scat; a pair
or trio of Monos (they often form pairs that work rather well); the Shark Cats would make good "carry overs"; add to these the Lionfish (an excellent companion for robust brackish water species); a peaceful and easy Moray like Echidna catenata would be my next choice; then if you want something active and midwater-y, then perhaps a snapper, tang or even a robust
Angelfish. One of the smaller groupers can work too, but not many are scaled for life in 125 gallons.>
Also, I am currently running two MarineLand penguin 350 filters that have a combined flow rate of 700 gph so I was wondering if this would be sufficient in keeping up with the bio-load in the aquarium or would I have to upgrade to something bigger.
<Do let me direct you to Bob's article on stocking marines.

Various links from there. Much fun to be had with fish-only systems, but would recommend aiming for the FOWLR avenue at some point, canisters alone being okay but not great for marines. In such systems brackish species can make interesting additions; Monos as dither fish for shyer species, Shark Cats as centrepiece predators. Cheers, Neale.>

Marine conversion, Cu concern   12/30/12
Dear WWM,
I'm thinking of converting to saltwater I have a running freshwater set up.
I have in the past once used Interpet no 6 white spot and Waterlife Protozin medications which I think contain copper. These were used a long time ago over 1 year, I do weekly water changes and have also moved house in the last 6 months so the tank was totally drained. I also use PolyFilter in my filter which i have read removes some copper. Currently i have snails, filter and Amano shrimp in with the fish which are all fine, do you think with a good clean the tank could one day be used for marine including inverts?
<This tank will be fine... there is no appreciable free copper to be concerned re here>
Thanks muchly
<Welcome in kind. Bob Fenner>

Pump Equipment Information (just the beginning) -- 08/13/11
<<Greetings Brandon>>
I have several questions.
I have a 90 gallon reef ready tank with a 125 gallon rated sump.
At the time I am running a Sicce 4.0. I am looking to run a quieter pump, possibly Iwaki or Velocity and I am torn about the two.
<<Likely the Iwaki but if you want truly quite (and reliable), I suggest you look in to the Eheim line of submersible pumps>>
At the time I am running freshwater but will be switching over.
<<I see'¦ Do start reading here and among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm >>
I am curious as to what type of skimmer to use.
<<I like the 'needle-wheel' skimmers, with my fave being those from Reef Dynamics (formerly Euro-Reef), but there are other good manufacturers out there (H&S, Bubble King, Reef Octopus, etc.). Start searching/researching the NET re>>
I also need to know should I run the pump in or out of the sump and should I also use separate pumps for the sump and skimmer.
<<I prefer submerged pumps where noise might be an issue, and for simplicity' and yes, the skimmer should/will have its own dedicated pump(s)>>
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Brandon Baer
<<Happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>

fresh to salt 8/14/10
Hi there,
<Hi Roy,>
I'm thinking of changing my discus set up to marine. At the moment I run five tanks from a sump on a centralized system.
<Sounds pretty involved.>
Would it be OK if I just did the normal change over of salt, skimmer, aragonite, etc?
<The first and most important step here is to do everything slowly. Take time to think, and plan, and allow for stability. Changing a five tank system to saltwater sounds like a big project. The steps as I see them
are: (1) reading as many books on marine aquariums as possible, (2) find homes for all of the freshwater plants and animals, (3) remove all the freshwater, objects, and substrates, (4) washing the tank out well to
remove detritus, (5) add aragonite and RODI/salt water to the whole system, (6) letting that sit with the pumps on for at least 24hrs, (7) adding new equipment such as a skimmer, (8) adding live rock to the tanks/sump, (9) waiting about a month for the water parameters to stabilize, (9) start to try some livestock.>
As I get more experienced I want to use one of the tanks as a show piece.
So, is it this easy to change?
<It is not easy, but is doable. The major hurdle is knowledge. Bob has a book on the subject, 'The Conscientious Marine Aquarist'.>
<Scott T.>

Converting a freshwater tank to saltwater 4/30/10
I have a 55g tank and I really want to change over to a saltwater tank.
<That sounds like a fun project. Please take your time, and read as much as possible before starting. A couple of links to check out are:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm and
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm .>
I would like to know if I need to clean the tank after I remove the water and substrate? If so how and what do I use to do this?
<It would be good to give it a thorough scrub. Don't worry about sterilizing it though, as not much from a freshwater system could handle the change to salt. I'd personally take it outside after you've removed the substrate and hose it down good. Get a clean bristle brush and scrape off all the algae or other buildup you can. Avoid soaps and other cleaning agents. Then Read Read Read. Marine aquariums are a whole different creature than freshwater. Please keep us updated on your progress. If you have any other questions, keep sending them.>
<You are very welcome, Scott T.>

Aquarium Question, conversion of FW to Marine  12/01/08 Hi Guys, Thanks for all your help over the years :-) <Welcome Mike> We have a very stable 40g tank that we have had for 4 years now, with a maroon clownfish/5 inch anemone, a damsel, and a royal gramma, with much coral (watermelon mushrooms, elephant ears, xenia, green star polyps). We have 20lbs sand and 40+ lbs live rock. We have a bacpac2 protein skimmer and an emperor 400, both on their last legs after 4 years use (we clean and maintain them well). We want to up grade to this 90g acrylic and try a sump/and in sump skimmer rather than all the hang on the back filtration that we have been using. It has been used as a freshwater tank. Is there any reason we couldn't convert it to saltwater? <Nope.> Many Thanks, Mike <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fw2mar.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Going to switch from fresh water to salt water. 11/29/08 I currently had peacocks and haps and I gave them to someone so that I could start making the switch to salt. I am going to start out with fish only and as I get more funds I am going to switch over to FOWLR. I want to make sure that this is a ok idea. <I would highly recommend to you that you not start to set up your salt water tank until you have all the funds you need to set up the system the way you want it. Wait till you can start with the live rock. Trust me, you will have a lot easier time (and likely lose fewer fish), if you have the live rock from the start.> If I start off with fish only and add live rock here and there what would be bad about this if anything. <Yes... it could cause your tank to "re-cycle." Plus, live rock is a major source of biological filtration in any marine system. You want to have it from the beginning.> This is about the only way that I will be able to make the switch due to the funds. <Then please reconsider the switch or wait until you have the funds saved. Marine aquarium keeping is an expensive hobby. See if anyone in your area is taking down a marine tank. They might have live rock you could get for cheap.> I currently have a 75 gallon aquarium with a Rena XP3 canister filter. I plan on picking up a skimmer and I think I will go with a hob for the money. <Again, this is a bad way to approach marine aquarium keeping. Making decisions based only on limited cash flow is a bad idea and could likely, ultimately, cost you more in the long run. Marine fish are not cheap, and replacing them is a costly habit. Get a good used skimmer (try Craig's list or eBay, etc.).> I would like to know the recommendation for the skimmer. <The Remora Pro by Aqua C is a very good hob skimmer.> Also will the XP3 be ok to use? If so what do I put in it to use with the setup? I also have an All-Glass Twin-Tube Black Fluorescent Strip Light for lighting. <This depends on what kind of fish you want to keep.> Will this be ok and if so what bulbs should I put in it? I was going to go with live sand because I heard that this would help establish the aquarium. Is this true? <Please see the various articles on WWM on these topics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> Please help me with the setup? I badly want to switch and I am just going to do a little at a time and take my time doing it. <Ah, good.> I was just hoping that it would be ok to start out with FO and then switch to FOWLR later by just adding live rock a little at a time until I get to the amount of live rock I need for the aquarium. Any other suggestions would be great! <It is much better to start with FOWLR.> Thanks in advance for the help! <De nada, Sara M.>

Source water for SW sys., switching an African Cichlid set up to marine  -- 10/10/08 Hi all, <Marc> I have a 75 gallon tank, with 80 lbs of live rock, a Remora Pro protein skimmer, an Emperor 400 that I just run filter pads with no charcoal, two Hydor stage 4 power filters, and a stage 3. For livestock I have a Yellow Tank, three Green Chromis, Lawnmower Blenny, Firefish, Chalk Bass, Six Line Wrasse, Cleaner Shrimp and assorted snails and crabs. My question is about water changes. I do about a 15% water change every Friday. I test my water, add the necessary supplements, usually calcium and a dKH buffer. I use tap water and mix in Reef Crystals about 15 minutes before i add the water. I know it's not ideal, <Mmm, we'd have to discuss, agree on what is "ideal"... IF your system is doing what you want it to do... the livestock fine... this would be ideal to/for me> but it's not practical for me to treat the water earlier because of a small living space, and my girlfriend not being as enthusiastic as i am, doesn't want two buckets of water kicking around the apartment. And since i only have one day off, I like to get tank done first thing in the morning, and the pet store isn't open early enough for me to buy r/o water. <I use RO for drinking, cooking... tap/mains water for my own tanks> Now that I'm done making excuses, here's my question. Would I be better of doing a water change every other week? It doesn't seem like my mushrooms open up all the way until a couple days after the water change every week. I was wondering, if would be less stressful for the tank, to only do the water change every other week. <Worth trying out> Thanks, Marc P.S. I also have a 75 gallon African Cichlid tank. I was thinking about switching it over to a saltwater tank. My question is, I have about 100 lbs. of lace rock in there, and about 80 lbs. of live freshwater cichlid sand. Could I use the rock and sand for a saltwater tank? <Mmm, some "lace rock" has a good deal of phosphate (can be tested for in a few ways)... and would need to know what the make-up (even just Brand, name of product) of this sand... but it can likely be added, blended with something a bit more soluble, otherwise useful. Bob Fenner>

Marine Aquarium Qs, set-up... conv. from FW  -02/24/08 Hello, I have just one main question. I am interested in starting a new tank. I would like to have at least 30gal. I am interested in the percula clown fish, and cardinal fish in a fish with live rock and eventually adding an anemone after I get the basics down. <If you want to keep an anemone, I'd suggest a larger tank (at least 55g).> I was wondering if you could give me some set-up advice as well as the types of equipment you would recommend. Also do you know of any aquarium kits that would be good for a first timers. <These are all good questions to ask your LFS and other local aquarists. It's also good to read about these things on your own (make use of the search tools -get a good book or two). A lot of it is personal preference.> I have two freshwater aquariums I have had them since September and are running fine and think that it is time to upgrade to a salt water. <Upgrade? Salt water aquariums aren't necessarily "better" than freshwater ones. Again, it's a matter of personal preference. I've seen some professionally set up planted freshwater aquariums that could put the average home marine aquarium to shame.> My fresh waters are a 29H with three goldfish 1 fancy tail and 2 feeders that I put in to cycle the tank, two Cory cats, 1 red tail shark that the 5 from the 10gallon they were picking and his fins were torn to pieces and a plecomus. My other is a 10 gal with 5 red tail sharks 2 tiger barbs and plecomus. <Ugh, it seems you have a lot to learn still about even freshwater aquarium keeping.> Thank-you for your advice and time <Sure, but please do be prudent and read as much about marine aquarium keeping as you can before starting one.> Brett <Best, Sara M.>

Freshwater Tank Qs, lvstk. sel., cycling...  -02/24/08 "My fresh waters are a 29H with three goldfish 1 fancy tail and 2 feeders that I put in to cycle the tank, two Cory cats, 1 red tail shark that the 5 from the 10gallon they were picking and his fins were torn to pieces and a plecomus. My other is a 10 gal with 5 red tail sharks 2 tiger barbs and plecomus. <Ugh, it seems you have a lot to learn still about even freshwater aquarium keeping.> Thank-you for your advice and time <Sure, but please do be prudent and read as much about marine aquarium keeping as you can before starting one.> Brett <Best, Sara M.>" hi I was just wonder if you could elaborate on you answer to having a lot to learn about freshwater aquariums? <<1) you used 2 "feeders" to cycle a 29g tank--not the best way to do things for a lot of reasons. 2) You have 4 "red tail sharks" and 2 tiger barbs in a 10g tank?! Unless you like watching fish slowly kill each other, this is a stocking nightmare. Tiger barbs are fiercely aggressive fish. The red tail sharks get to be up to 6in long and even ONE of these would need a lot more room than 10g. These are the two biggest reasons I think you have a lot to learn about freshwater aquarium keeping. But I don't mean to pick on you. Certainly, these are mistakes a lot of people make. However, if you're not the type of person who likes to do much of your own homework and reading, these kinds of mistakes will cost you even more in marine aquarium keeping.>> and all of my LFS are lame I have to drive at least 1 hr to an 1 1/2 hrs to get to one that has any variety of any live plants or any one who has any knowledge. My 10 gallon and occupants was recommended by my LFS <<Oh, I can easily believe that. Unfortunately, many LFSs give a lot of bad advice when it comes to livestock selection. They're better for knowledge about dry goods (IMO). Fortunately, for knowledge on livestock and livestock selection, there are a lot of other good resources... books, websites, etc. Again, best to research before you buy, before you even set up the tank. Here's one place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm>> thanks again <<De nada, Sara M.>>

Freshwater Tank Qs -02/24/08 thank you very much. with your advice I better slow down and do a lot of research before I start which I plan to do starting with your site. <awesome> I have been reading it all day and it is very informative thank all of you for your time and patience. could you give me any other web sites that sell marine kits that you would recommend thank you again and I will have to do something about my tank right now I agree I didn't do enough research before I bought but I will do my homework on the marine setup seeing how the price is so much more <Yes, considering marine aquarium livestock run about (at least) 10x the cost of freshwater, this is a wise plan. As for marine "kits," even though it's far away, I would still start with a "local" aquarium/pet store. It's nice to be able to see these things in person before you buy them. For anything you can't find in the store, I'd recommend Salty Critter (but only because I'm familiar with them-- there are likely many other such LFSs with a corresponding online store). Good luck and happy reading :-) Sara M.>

Freshwater to Marine 12/9/07 Hello WWM crew how is your day going? <Hello, very well, thank you.> I was wondering about getting a marine tank. I know how to set them up and keep them running. But I don't know how I should get one. I have a 25 gallon cichlid tank 12 gallon goldfish tank 12 gallon eel/Pleco tank and an empty 25 gallon that are all freshwater right now and I was wondering if I could make the 25 gallon Eclipse into a saltwater. <Sure, but a larger tank is easier (more stability) for starting out.> Do they make marine filters that will fit the eclipse lid and lights that will fit too? <The same filter will work fine. If you want a reef the lighting will depend on what you want to keep. You could possibly fit a power compact inside the Eclipse.> Or do I have to make/buy a custom lid with marine pumps and lighting. Would all this doing be worth it? <For a reef you will need additional flow via an extra pump or powerhead. It really depends on what you consider worth it. Reef tanks have a way of costing more money than you plan at the start.> Or should I just go buy a 14 gallon BioCube and spend a lot more money. Which would be easier? <About the same. For my money I would get a tank in the 40-75 gallon range and plan on using the 25 gal as a sump/refugium.> Also just out of curiosity, do freshwater test strips work for marine too? <Some do.> Thanks for all your help and support. <Keep reading on this site and others to familiarize yourself with the requirements of a marine/reef tank. If you want to take the leap you will save yourself much time, trouble and money in the long run. Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Quicker cycle? FW and SW nitrifying bacteria are different strains       5/21/07 <Hi Breanna, Mich here.> I have a well-established cichlid tank, which I want to turn into SW. <OK.> This is a healthy tank no diseases or issues. <OK.> I'm wondering if I make the N cycle quicker, if not skip it, if I save the water from this tank? <Mmm, nope, different strains of bacteria at work here.  More here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm > I could get rid of the fish, decor, fw plants, gravel, leave the under gravel filter alone as much as possible mix in salt to right level put in play/live sand, and a few pieces of live rock.... <I personally would remove the undergravel filter when setting up a marine tank.  More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/u_gfiltmarfaqs.htm > Guess the real question: is the bacteria that changes ammonium to nitrate in a fw tank the same as in a sw tank? <That is the question and the answer is no.> Would I be better off "gutting" and cleaning and starting the standard way? <Yep!  Your live rock will be the most helpful in cycling your system.  Start fresh!  Mich> thanks Breanna

Another half-baked idea? SW, FW tog.  -- 4/9/07 Someone on another forum discovered this. I have no idea if it's a wind-up or not. But it's certainly insane! http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6016770.html Now you *can* keep marine fishes in your freshwater aquarium! Cheers, Neale <I see future queries with titles such as "Clown Trigger not Getting alone with Koi fish..." Thanks for sharing...Adam J.> <<The real issue... compatibility... Brings back memories of the "Magic Ocean", "Wonder Water", other sucrose products that would allow this temporary association... Raising specific gravity, osmotic pressure sans ionic content. Bob Fenner>

Converting Freshwater Tank to Marine risk questions  2/19/07 Hey crew, <Joe> Kind of an easy question (or two) but one that I cannot easily find an answer to.  I have had a 240g Freshwater tank up and running since new for 3yrs with all the necessary equip for a marine set-up (Wet/Dry, dual overflows, titanium submersible heaters, dual powerheads, retro CF lights 10k and Blue. <Some planning ahead!> I have just removed all water, substrate, cleaned the tank, cleaned the wet/dry and bio-balls.  The only places I cannot easily get to is the overflow boxes (inside) and the hoses for the drain and return to the wet/dry. They have brown and green algae in both that I cannot get to clean.  I know these will not live in Saltwater, but will they cause me any issues? <Mmm, no... will likely die, be killed... but of no practical consequence... will be supplanted in time by other species> I need to know this before I refill the tank with RO/DI water, Salt Mix, and Aragonite sand. <Not a worry> Lastly, the water that was used in the Freshwater tank was my well water.  Due to the older pipes in my house I think there was some trace amounts of copper in the water.  I have never used any medications or copper on the tank, but should I be concerned about the trace amounts of copper that was in the tank before? <Mmm, how much copper? If there is measurable (parts of ppm), likely this will "fall out" of solution in being mixed with your synthetic salt mix... allowing a few weeks to go by before livestock introduction... If not, or if you are further concerned, use of Polyfilter, Activated Carbon, other specialty filter media can/will remove... But/and the "real" question to/for me, is if there is "too much" free cupric ion, am concerned re what all else there might be... and want to encourage you to investigate the use of simple RO technology for your system as well as potable uses... See WWM re... and/or let's chat...> Better to know these risks before I spend several thousand dollars on 300lbs of Live Rock and inhabitants. <Yes... though, I assure you, this is not really likely a concern> Thanks guys and keep up the great work, Joe <Thank you Joe. Bob Fenner>

FW to SW Setup 11/30/06 Hi Bob and Company, <Hi> Your website is great very informative. I was searching the website but had some questions about the transformation from freshwater to salt. My current tank is 125 Gallons, and houses African Cichlids. I was planning switching over to SW with fish and some live rock, and maybe some invertebrates. Substrate: I currently have African Cichlid sand and Florida Crushed Coral, 3-4 inches in some places. Do I need to reduce the level of substrate? <I would either go with less than 1/2 inch or more than 3 inches of sugar fine calcium based sand.> Filtering. I currently run two Eheim Pro II canisters 2028. Should I remove the mechanical filtration and replace with biological substrate only? I also have an emperor 400 BioWheel filter and Hagen 501 powerhead. Do I need anymore filtration? <A skimmer is necessary in my opinion, along with live rock which should give you all the biological filtration you need.  You can use the other filters for water movement but I would not run any filter pads or the BioWheel.> Final question, a few months ago I treated the tank with CopperSafe, I know this doesn't come out of the water for awhile, if I plan on adding invertebrates, Do I need to do anything about the CopperSafe? <Definitely remove the substrate, this will hold and slowly release the copper over time.  It can also bind with the silicon, so run poly-filters to try to remove any that is release from there.> I was planning on adding: clown fish - blue tang -1 -2 <1> puffer - if possible  <Be careful, some of these get quite large.> some other small fish <ok> Many thanks, and I'm going out today to buy your book. James <Good luck with your new endeavor.  See the articles on WetWeb for more on setting up a salt water tank.> <Chris>

Converting fresh to saltwater  - 8/9/2006 Hi, <<Hello.>> When converting a mature freshwater tank to saltwater can I use the existing water by doing a partial water change and adding the correct amount of salt? <<I suppose you could, but I wouldn't want to.  I prefer to aerate and heat my saltwater for at least 24 hours before adding it to my tanks.>> And assuming the existing substrate is suitable for saltwater can I just give it a thorough vacuuming? <<Again, possible, but not desirable.  If you are hoping to keep any nitrifying bacteria alive, they will die with the addition of the salt, and you will have to re-cycle your tank anyway.  You will see significant (read: ammonia) die off in the substrate of anything living if you go straight from fresh to salt water.  My recommendation is to empty the tank, give the substrate a thorough rinsing (assuming it's aragonite or another SW substrate) mix your SW, add it to your tank, cycle it, and then research fish to add :).>> Thank you. <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Minimum Age For Saltwater Aquarist???  - 06/07/06 Crew: <Paula> I know I am a newbie to this site, and some to my knowledge of fishtank care, but is there a minimum age or "experience years" that I should be before I try to convert my freshwater tank to a saltwater tank? <No age or "experience years", Paula.  Do read here, and related links above, to get your feet wet.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Paula

Permission request. Looking for AnthonyC  5/28/06 Dear Sir,    (I could not find contact info for Mr. Anthony Calfo, I apologize if this is a wrong address to contact for this subject. And if this is the case and you forward the message to the right person, I will be grateful)    <Ah, will send this to him... best to reach at/through MarineDepot.com where he works, is paid to help folks>   I am writing this mail for a permission request about publishing one of the articles, "Converting from freshwater to marine aquarium keeping", on WWM site. The content of this permission requisition is to publish the Turkish translation of the selected article on a Turkish aquarium forum website.      Actually, the success of your article directed us for such way. I believe that trying to write a similar article on the subject will not make more than a cheap copy. On the other hand, lack of foreign language, many aquarist in our country do not have the opportunity to utilize such articles. That is why we want to translate the selected articles and place them on our Turkish web site, with their author name, link to original page, and the publishing permission provided by authors or sites, if given, of course.      Let me give the information below about the permission we request,        - Website: http://www.akvaryumforum.com/forum/      - Action: English to Turkish translation and publishing the Turkish version ONLY under related topic of akvaryumforum.com      - Article to translate and publish: "Converting from freshwater to marine aquarium keeping"      Your response will be appreciated.   Best Wishes <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

FW to SW conversion 5/9/06 Hell! <Heaven! aka Hawaii> I have heard a rumor that once a tank has been used for freshwater fish it can't be sterilized and then used for SW fish. Is this true? <Bunk> Is the converse true? <Nope, a good cleaning with a mild bleach solution and some elbow grease will make tanks fine for any use> Thanks, Love this site! <Me too!> Jeremy <Chris>

27 gal. Eclipse planted tank conversion to SW    4/25/06 Hello, <Hi there>             I have a 37 gallon eclipse 3 that is currently a planted tank, but I am thinking of converting to a FOWLR or a low-light reef tank.  I retrofitted it with a 65 watt 6700k pc bulb and a 20 watt NO fluorescent.  I plan on using about 45 pounds of LR and a remora skimmer as filtration.  I have several questions, and was hoping for your expertise to answer them. 1. Here is my proposed fish list:  a flame angel, <This system is really too small for this species> pajama cardinal, percula clown, and a couple of neon gobies.  Is this too many fish?  Can I add a royal Gramma? <In place of the Flame, yes> 2. Is my lighting good enough for low-light corals and possibly an Entacmaea quadricolor? <Some of the former, not the last> 3. I will have a couple of power heads for circulation, but should I continue to use the filter with some floss for added mechanical filtration? <Mmm, not adequate... use the Google search tool on WWM with the two words "Eclipse Conversion" or "Eclipse Modification" and read the cached versions. Bob Fenner> Thank you so much for your time!  

Nitrifying Bacteria, FW not SW not FW  2/23/06 Hello Friends at WWM! <Hi Scott! My name is Tim -- I will be answering your question today.> I have an emergency, so I don't have time to browse through the archives.  I'm just going to hope it's not somewhere really obvious!  I am setting up a marine quarantine system <Excellent!>, that I at this very second have fish bagged/boxed waiting to go into.  The quarantine system that I bought came from a local freshwater breeder who is moving and came with established sponge filters.  I need to know if the bacteria that is in those sponges will live in saltwater and provide me with filtration - or if they're going to die off and wipe out my new system <The bacteria are unfortunately not the same - your quarantine tank will cycle when converted to saltwater. My suggestion is to clean the filters thoroughly with water as you suggest below, although new filters would undoubtedly be the preferred option if possible! Afterwards keep a close eye on the ammonia and nitrite levels in your QT and be prepared to make frequent water changes to keep these as low as possible. Note that you can help the cycling process by using water from your display tank in the QT as this will contain beneficial bacteria. Otherwise the addition of a biological starter such as Stress Zyme will encourage the cycle>.  I was hoping I could just rinse them out with RODI water and be ready to roll.  Could I be that lucky? <Sorry.> Preemptive thanks! Scott

Marine Set Up, reading...  1/18/06 I have a 29 gallon fish tank that I want to convert to a salt water tank.  I want to put a dwarf lionfish in it?  What kind of set up would you suggest that I use? <Read here for starters my friend.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm  Most questions can be easily found on the Wet Web Media.  Please search here before sending a query.  Thank you.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for the help, <You're welcome> Mike

Making The Transition (FW to Marine) 10/28/05 Hello. <Hey! Scott F. here today!> My name is Landon, and I was just wondering if you could help me out a little bit. <That's what the site is all about!> I currently have a 20 gallon tank with tropical fish in it, and I am going to upgrade to a saltwater tank. <How exciting for you!> I was wondering if you could give me some general information and stuff that you suggest I buy for a new tank. Also, I would like to know what size tank you think I should start with, and some types of coral, rock, and fish I should get. Please e-mail me back with some advise as of what to buy and general information. Thanks, Landon <Well, Landon- that's a tall order to fill in the confines of the Daily FAQ's! You could literally fill a book (in fact, many have) on how to set up your first marine system. You're in the right place by coming to WWM. We have a ton of information here on virtually every topic of marine aquarium set up and care, right here on the WWM site. You can read for days and days on just about anything that you need!  Also, do consider investing in a good book, such as Michael Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium", or Bob Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Both provide a tremendous amount of concise information on the design, set up, and care of marine systems! I'm thrilled for you as you start your new journey into saltwater! Enjoy the adventure, and feel free to consult us if you have any questions along the way! Best of luck on your new adventure! Regards, Scott F.> 

Freshwater to Marine Conversion: Substrate 10/27/05 Hi, I'm pretty new to the hobby.  <Hello Andy and welcome to the addiction, I mean Marine hobby.>  I have kept some cichlid for a while and want to try my hand on coral and anemone.  <Okay be sure to thoroughly research these animals beforehand, reef tanks are not a casual endeavor. The anemone especially is quite challenging and has specific needs'¦.best left in the ocean or to veteran aquarists.>  I need to know if I can use my current crush coral as a substrate for my saltwater tank? <Short answer is yes. However depending on the grain size you may want to reconsider, if it is a large grain size I would not use it as it will trap detritus and cause nutrient problems. Also look into adding more sand or crushed coral to enjoy the benefits of a Deep Sand Bed. At the least I would remove the crushed coral and thoroughly rinse and dry it before use in the marine tank.> Thank you very much for the advise. Andy <You are welcome, Adam J.>

Marine aquariums, not for the passive 10/2/05 Dear Mr. Fenner <James today> I am an experienced person in the area of freshwater aquariums since I own several discus of an expensive nature and have been many years caring for them. I have decided that I want to start up a Marine aquarium and I need all this new information about how to do so. I also want to know if it is worth it to leave behind fresh water and begin saltwater.
<Up to you Dylan, whatever floats your boat.  Generally marine aquariums are more interesting displays than freshwater and if you stick to easy to care for animals such as clownfish, it is really no more difficult than freshwater.  Discus are much harder to keep than clownfish.> I have been looking around in the net but I have been overwhelmed with all this information about all these products and types of aquariums. Having come across your website I am understanding just a little bit more. I was wondering if you could assist me by informing me what exactly I would need to set up a simple marine aquarium to keep clown fish, starfish, anemones, corals and all the regular stock. Can you please help me and send an email with all the products I need for a 300l (80us gallons) aquarium. <Dylan, lets start by reading this article.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm  Using the same WWM site you can search for info on other subjects that interest you.  Your choice of filters, skimmers, etc is really going to depend on the budget you are allowing for this project.  If you decide to make the change, stay away from anemones and sps/LPS corals for a while as these will require more care.  Most people give up on this hobby because they purchase animals that are difficult to keep and thereby watching their money go down the drain so to speak.  James (Salty Dog)> Yours Dylan

FW to Marine Transition, much more research to be had'¦  9/25/05 <Adam J here.> I've had freshwater for years and recently decided that freshwater wasn't challenging enough and decided to take on saltwater. <You never tried a planted discus tank did you?>   My parents had a saltwater tank until it started to leak and I liked watching the fish in there.  I recently obtained a 20 gallon aquarium (since my apartment agency is really testy about large aquariums, this was probably the maximum size I could get away with.  I want to try a 30 gallon later on). <I understand your dilemma and you are right to want to begin with a larger system, tanks 40 gallons and under are usually a bit to unstable for beginners. However with the right amount of discipline and the correct equipment you can make it work.> I haven't set it up yet and I've been trying to do my research on how to keep one up with the goal of having a small reef aquarium in the future.  I haven't researched lighting for reef aquariums yet but, <The lighting for a reef tank will depend on the targeted photosynthetic specimens, the lighting amount and intensity is highly varied amongst corals.> if I were to start off without the correct lighting for the intention (for now) of a fish-only setup, would a live rock help/hinder the tank startup? <I have never run a marine tank without liverock, whether it be a Fish Only with N.O. fluorescents or a Reef tank with Metal Halides, live rock is the ultimate source of efficient biological filtration.>   Would it help with the Nitrobacter populations? <Tremendously.>   What can I expect to grow (plants?  Coral?) off it? <Depends on the region form which the rock was collected and the curing process that followed.>   Is it possible to grow coral without the blue light at night? <'¦.By blue light do you mean the actinics that are used to supplement the lower temperature (white/yellow) bulbs or moonlights? Generally speaking both are for aesthetics.>   I know Damsels are the best starter fish due to their hardiness <Yes but DO NOT cycle your tank with these fish, live rock is the most efficient way to cycle your marine tank, furthermore these fish are very territorial and can be highly aggressive to tank mates.> But what about the converts such as black mollies (I know you have instructions somewhere on how to acclimate black mollies.  Can you link me?)? I was also wondering if other brackish fish could be converted, such as dwarf puffers and dojo loaches. <You can acclimate the mollies and allow them to live in your marine tank but I get the feeling you meant cycling with them too, just to reiterate do not cycle with fish. The dojos I believe will not thrive in a full marine environment, in fact I have only seen them in full FW set-ups.  As for the puffer it depends on the exact species, some will thrive in a full marine environment and some will not. You can skim through the brackish link as to how to convert appropriate fish FW to Brackish; Brackish to Marine, the general recommendation is .002 per week http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracfishes.htm > One final question, how do I  figure out just how much fish I can put in XX gallons?   <There are tons of rules of thumbs for this particular subject, and in my opinion, and they are all horrible. A given fish of one size may have very different needs from another species of the exact same size (24' snowflake eel compared to a 24' Naso lituratus Tang). You really have to start developing an individual stocking list and select specimens that are suitable to your set-up. The stocking levels will generally be a lot less than the FW set-ups you are used to.> I know freshwater has the rule of one (tropical) inch per every gallon but I don't know if the same generally applies for saltwater without considering aggression. <Not in the least bit, in fact I don't think this rule of thumb should apply to any aquatic life whether it be FW or Marine.> Thank you for your time, Sarah <You are wise for researching before taking 'the dive' however in conjunction with your research here at WWM and the Net I would purchase some books as well: The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by our own Robert Fenner is a good choice and for first timers I like Mike Paletta's New Marine Aquarium too. Many more books are out there and you can get reviews from Amazon and the large number of Aquarium chat boards.> <Anytime, Adam J.>

Brackish To Marine.. The Switch Is On! Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I have been searching for this info and cannot find answers. Brackish tank 16 months old, all stock are fat and sassy! <Cool! Brackish tanks are neat!> Tank ½ round cylinder, 70 gallon Eheim, power head, need skimmer.. and better lights Stock, 3 Monos, 3 Scats, 2 Mollies, 1 Puffer (Figure 8), 3 Rams, 1 Krib, 2 Knight Gobies and 5 Weather Loaches. <Nice.> I have been moving the salinity up gradually, the fish such as the Rams, Weather Loaches and Krib will not go full marine so I will trade them. <Sounds logical!> Here is the question. As I move this to a full marine system I would like to have a reef/marine setup.. At what salinity will live rock grow? <Well, the rock will not "grow", but the fauna on the rock will. You'd need to get the specific gravity in the range of 1.019-1.026> Can these fish share space within a reef? <The Scats and Monos do get pretty large; you may have to trim down the population as they grow.> If so what do I need to watch out for/ avoid? <In a tank of this size, you need to monitor water chemistry parameters carefully, especially with messy, aggressive feeders like Scats and Monos. Also, do observe the behaviors of the fish carefully to make sure that everyone gets along okay.> I would like to add, inverts, corals and a few more marine fish later and really can not find much written on this subject. <Well, I have not seen all that much written about converting brackish systems to marine/reef tanks. However, once your tank is "marine", all of the standard husbandry and stocking rules apply...nothing new there. The WWM site is, of course, chock full of information on maintaining a marine system.> Can you folks help or direct me to a reference? Thank you in advance. Ellen O'Meara <You'd do well to start right here, Ellen! Also, refer to good basic primers on the marine hobby, like Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium", and Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist". These texts will serve as a basic introduction to the marine aquarium. Enjoy the journey! Regards, Scott F.> 

Converting from Fresh to Marine >Hey, >>What? >I've been keeping fish for about 3 years now (first brackish-water tank w/puffers, Oscars, etc), and I'm looking for a bit of change now. Ever since I've laid my eyes on the clownfish at the LFS. I'm wondering about what's needed in order to make the transition from one of my 30.US-G Freshwater tanks to a FOWLR marine tank scenario. >>You know what's funny? We already have many, many articles and FAQs that cover this extensively. Have you tried searching the site? One recommendation I want to note first is to ONLY use A. ocellaris or A. percula in a system this size, and NO MORE than two, as they'll limit what other animals you can keep (unless you decide you want to try adding inverts). >It's equipped with a 100watt Heater, AquaClear 150, and a Powerhead w/filtration add-on. I've also purchased plenty fine-grain Arag-sand, and wondering if I should add some coral substrate. >>Heater wattage is determined by tank size, same-same for fresh vs. salt. I like to double/treble filtration (as indicated by manufacturer's specifications) as a minimum starting point. Consider also investigating refugia technology for filtration. Beyond that, FIRST decide what you want to keep - this size tank is to be considered and treated as a nano. Choose animals, filter accordingly. No need to worry about adding another calcareous material, aragonite sand is fine, unless you happen to like the crushed coral. >In addition, I also plan to order 10-15lbs of live rock and get some live sand from a friend's reef tank. >>Plan on AT LEAST 1lb./gallon of live rock for best utility/filtration, get more, cure, quarantine. Also, this is NOT the place to scrimp, get the best rock you can. If you're already paying for live rock, paying for live sand is a huge waste of money in my opinion, and I'd want to be absolutely CERTAIN there have been no diseases, parasites, or other unwanteds before adding sand from your friend's tank. I feel that just seeding with the live rock is plenty sufficient. Use our Google search to answer all these questions, as well as the ones you don't have yet (such as curing the live rock). >Am I set with just the add of sea-salt and cycling to successfully keep actual fish? Or is it yet another classic death trap for my fish due to an amateur marine hobbyists like myself? Please, I need help. Thank you. Abdul. >>You'll be fine, but know that there is a LOT of information contained within our site. I think you should start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fw2mar.htm  There will be, I promise, MANY more links of interest in just those two to start. Pay particular attention to the "small marine" FAQs and articles. As for myself, my favorite tanks over the years have been nanoreefs. Marina 

Fresh to marine substrate Mr. Fenner, <Ron> I have a 75 gal aquarium that has been used for African Cichlids.  It has an aragonite substrate.  If I change this tank to marine, Can I keep the same substrate in there? <Mmm, yes... I would take it out, wash it (likely in a "pickle bucket" and garden hose, until it ran clear), and add more (like a good half again) as the older material has likely lost a good deal of its "easy solubility"> What will the effects be if I do?  Will it cause an ammonia spike resulting in a cycle? <Will have to be recycled again... the microbes present will be almost completely wiped out with the cleaning, change to saltwater... Read about this, and be prepared to wait a few to several weeks for cycling to become established... with or w/o the use of prep.s. Bob Fenner> Thanks! Ron And Christina Allison

Plans for the Future - Freshwater Now - Saltwater Later >I am going to be purchasing a 180 to 200 gallon aquarium to set up as a native fish freshwater aquarium.  In 3 -5 years I plan to convert it to a saltwater fish only tank.   >>Alright. >I do not want to start off with a saltwater tank because we occasionally lose our power during storms, sometimes for a day or two,  and I do not yet have a generator. >>Understood. >My question is how I can setup my freshwater tank to avoid the least amount of equipment conversion when I later switch to a saltwater fish only tank?   >>Quite easily, especially since you already know what direction you want to go in when converted to marine. >I imagine that I can purchase a light that may be overkill for freshwater, but will not need to be replaced at a later date.   >>Nay, if your intention is to be fish-only marine, then lighting is not at all a factor.  Use what pleases you.   >My budget right now is not a factor, I just want to set the tank up for now so that I can make the switch easier at a later time,  while switching the minimum amount of equipment.  Can I set all the filters, lights and everything now so that for the most part all I need to do is switch substrate and water later?   >>Essentially, yes.  Actually, if you went with certain fish (those that do well in hard, alkaline water) you can even use the same substrate - e.g. African rift lake cichlids, using crushed coral or even an aragonite sand.  You can, for freshwater, set up what would normally be sold as a marine-type filtration system, say, a sump with biological filtration (skimming is difficult in freshwater, but not impossible), power or canister filtration, really, any/everything except a refugium.  The only caveat is that we must increase filtration by at *least* one third (turnover + capacity) for marine relative to fresh. >A LFS told me that most of the equipment would need to be changed, but some things I have read on the net tells me differently.   >>Of course they'd tell you that.  They can get you to buy twice if you go that route, can't they?  Or, it may simply be ignorance of the basic principles of filtration that may have generated this assertion. >Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Kevin   >>Kevin, do some research on filtration for fish-only marine systems, plan for the dirtiest fish possible, then boost/increase the filtration and apply that to the system you're creating now.  There are those who would say you should never go with canister filtration, I disagree, but will caution that there is a "pain in the arse" factor when it comes to servicing and maintaining these filters.  There are also those who will tell you that something like a biological (bio-balls in tower) filtration is a "nitrate factory", but this belies a misunderstanding of biological filtration in general.  In concert with good quality live rock and foam fractionation this sort of filtration will work just fine.  Decide what you can and cannot do realistically (in terms of maintenance, especially) and go from there is my best advice.  Our site has much information on filtration for saltwater, and this can all easily be applied to fresh, with the exception of the protein skimming (foam fractionation).  Marina

Changing to saltwater Hi guys at WWM, this site is always a big help. <SOOOO very nice of you to say!!!> I currently have a 55 gallon tank with a South American cichlid setup. I just purchased a Eheim pro II 2026 which is running on the FW without the biological media (which I'm saving for SW). With in the last week I bought 3 bags (60 lbs total) of water packed Arago-alive Bahamas oolite for a substrate (I hope this is enough). <Depends on the depth of sand you want to have.> I plan on adding LR over a time period as I get money for it (I'm only 16 but work at a fish store). I was reading on your site that aqua c remora, Tunze, and CPR bakpak2 are good skimmers. <So is Euroreef and multiple others.> which is the best one for a 55 FOWLR in your opinion for a manageable price. <Really depends on what you are wanting.> What steps should I follow when setting up this tank. Should I fill the tank with SW then add the substrate since its alive or add it first? <I would add the sand and its water that's in the bag and then add additional saltwater.> Anything else to continue the setup would help also! <You don't have to add your live rock all at once Joe, you can add it a piece at a time if necessary!  Sounds like you are well on the way and hope its amazing for you. MacL> thanks, Joe

Freshwater to Saltwater Hello, <Hi Melissa, MacL here with you tonight> My creatures gratefully thank you for all the knowledge that you share!!!! <I am sure everyone here thanks you for your kindness.> I have a few questions that I have not found on the site; I think I just cant seem to word it correctly in the search feature. <You aren't the only one. I spend a lot of time myself just reading things but I always learn so much> Firstly I have a Columbian shark (Arius jordani) about 4-5 inches in a 60 gal., which I have had for the past year as a barely brackish fish. Since he has thrived/grown over the past year I have not had thought to look anymore into his preferences. But yesterday I did and I feel bad, come to find out he prefers saltwater as he matures. so my question is how to I bring him over to salt. I imagine that it will be very slowly, say replacing (in a 10 gallon temp tank) 10% of the water daily with salt water until I reach 1.025? <Slow is the key!!! >  I have a 120 reef that will be replaced with a 180 this weekend. This tank is a mixture of creatures it has yellow tang 2", hippo tang2-1/2" and 2 Bartlett's Anthias, purple Firefish, GS maroon clown and 2 Lysmata amboinensis and a scooter blenny  and a derasa clam. A branching hammer, frogspawn, Ricordea, open brain, galaxy, candy, sun coral, some leather coral. We also have a refuge which has some Chaetomorpha, live rock and DSB. If I acclimate the shark over to  saltwater would any of my reef inhabitants be in danger (shrimp, corals, snails (Nassarius, Cerith & turbo)? <I'd like to tell you they would be safe but the truth is that lots of things would be in danger, definitely the shrimp and snails and quite possibly the fire shrimp. I have seen some that don't bother anything but for the most part as they grow their appetite grows and they eat everything in sight.> Are there any creatures that I should know about that I should not mix with him (in general)? Our tank has been running along wonderfully until a skimmer malfunction and a delay in getting a new one ($$) caused a nutrient increase. We have had the new one on for about 2 weeks (EV 180) and have been getting some very very nasty stuff but I still feel like there is a lot of excess nutrients, when we upgrade obviously we will be adding about 60 gallons of water, will this help with the nutrient aspect and allow the skimmer to actually "catch up" better? The skimmer is rated for tanks up to 200. <Should give it a better chance but I would think with it being over rated it might have been able to catch up pretty easily. Possibly you need to give it some help by cutting back on the feedings for a while?> Also we would like to add maybe one more fish and are looking for variety, I have read that the copper banded butterfly or Forcipiger are some that could be reef compatible. <Copperbands sometimes work but they will eat any anemones. Most butterflies are not reef compatible.>  As there are many butterflies do you have any other suggestions for an addition? I know that these fish can be reef nippers and am nervous about that addition. <You might consider a Foxface, I think they work well in reef tanks> But it would be nice to add one more fish. Also would the yellow of the Forcipiger cause conflict with my yellow tang?   Our cleaner shrimps are always loaded with eggs and last week I noticed that we actually have tiny cleaner shrimps in the refuge they all hang out in one corner and vary in sizes from very tiny to a little larger than the live brine we get at the LFS. <I think what you have is copepods and not baby cleaners although would be lovely if you had baby cleaners. Generally Mysis shrimp flourish in refugiums and they look like tiny shrimp. BUT they are a good thing and a sign of a very healthy tank so that's good.> They are definitely shrimp and don't seem to have the characteristics of the brine; so I am assuming that they are the cleaners. What is their chance of survival, I had been under the impression that the eggs would never really produce but it does seem that they have. Of course the conversion to the 180 will be detrimental but I will try my best to baby them. <Definitely try to take them with you they are good for the tank.> Final question, I found some information on WWM written on "Southdown Sand" from Home Depot which is their play sand. This info I found said that with Very Good rinsing many aquarists use it for their tanks. My Home Depot does not have the "Southdown" brand but carries a brand called Paragon, have you all heard of this and do you think that I could use it as well? It is a very fine grain aragonite sand. <There are additional brand names for the sand, the big thing is to make sure it says Caribbean sand on the outside of the package is my understanding.> I really appreciate your time and knowledge and thanks again for sharing. <Good luck Melissa, MacL> Take Care Melissa

Fish and Wives Hello there! <Hi, MikeD here> I have been reading info on your site for quite a few weeks now, and I believe I am ready to convert my 2-year-old 30-gal FW system to SW.  I kept my most prized critters that I became attached to (a couple of African Dwarf frogs and a small school of 5 neon tetras) in a small 10-gal FW hex.  I originally added the frogs in the 30-gal before I knew they were not supposed to be compatible with tetras, but they've been very happy and active, and I'm proud to say I have yet to witness a fatality in my tank!  I could have just gotten lucky...
<While luck may have had some bearing, the tank size helped as well.   In the smaller 10 gal. tank there's less room for the Neons to avoid the frogs fingers, which act very much like a catfish's barbels or "whiskers", so there's a greater chance of them being swept into the amphibians mouth upon contact, usually at night, so don't be surprised if the school gradually decreases in size.> Now, having a neat 10-gal FW tank and an empty 30-gal tank, I wish to convert it to SW.  I have just went out and bought some things, based on literature from your site.  So far, what I have: 30-gal tank synthetic sea salt 2 hydrometers (one for the display and one for the QT/mix bucket) live sand 3 SW-safe heaters (two for the display and one for the QT/mix bucket) plastic bucket (Walgreen's trash can) All necessary test kits Thermometer Protein skimmer (I got the CPR Bak-Pak 2) 35 lbs of Live rock Extra tissue for the times I cry when I think about the $$ spent<LOL! Well said...make sure you keep the sense of humor when using the tissues!**grin**> The live rock and the sand, though already purchased, are still awaiting me at my LFS The fish: I tried to stick with fish that would not exceed 4 inches, and also tried not to exceed "an inch of fish per gallon of water", keeping in mind that my tank would hold less than 30 gallons because of the live rock.  I was planning on: A pair of clownfish One (or two) three-stripe damselfish One flame angel One Royal Gramma Several sand sifters and cleaners That's less than 20 inches of "total fish" at adult length.  I know the damselfish will be aggressive, but will it get to a point where it will be detrimental to the health of the other fish?
<There's no guarantee, as like all animals, aggression often varies from individual to individual, but I've had Damselfish attack ME while snorkeling, if that helps to gives you any idea of the attitude they CAN develop once established.>  
I used to own tiger barbs, and I noticed they were less aggressive towards other fish when kept in pairs or schools.  Would the same apply to the damselfish?<Absolutely not!  These are not school fish and any similarity is strictly in appearance.>   If you absolutely had to have one in your tank, would you recommend one or a pair?<Truthfully, in a 30 gal. tank, NONE.  I have one 5" Sergeant-Major in my 300 gal. tank and wouldn't attempt two there.> The reason I must have a 3-stripe is because that is the only way my wife agreed to let me get into SW!  She made me promise to get either a 3-stripe damsel or a Longfin Bannerfish, which is way too big for the 30-gal.  At any rate, she loves the "zebra" look. (Can you guess whose idea it was to get the barbs?)... I'm so whipped...<my suggestion would be to skip the damsel and promise her a Heniochus (the Bannerfish) at a later date, then stock your tank and resort to your original plan. With your original list you already have some built in problems to consider....Clownfish are actually members of the Damselfish family and every bit as territorial, so a pair plus a 3-stripe is actually three damsels and simply too aggressive for a 30 gal. tank.  For best results, I'd suggest adding the Royal Gramma, sand-sifters and clean up crew first, then the clowns and finally the Flame Angel last, keeping in mind that many people find keeping Angels in a newly set up tank difficult to impossible (I've personally never had one do well in a tank set up less than a full year, and that's been almost 40 years now.)> In the future, I will learn to use her request for the Longfin Bannerfish as an excuse to get a bigger tank!
<It worked for me as well! **grin**> At any rate, I feel like I'm missing something, like the feeling one gets when walking out the front door and realizing he forgot to put his pants on!<You mean I'm not the only one?> Please advise on what else I could possibly need, on my tentative fish selection, or just feel free to bash me for getting married to someone who wants to get involved in my hobbies! ;)<The latter I'd NEVER do, as, IMO, that's the ONLY way the two of you will ever truly enjoy the hobby, one that definitely benefits from being shared.  In the future, if there's one piece of information that I can offer it's that the bigger the marine tank, the easier it is to maintain....while this sounds like a paradox, it's true, as it cuts down on inter-fish aggression plus allows for some leeway for error.> Thank you for a WONDERFUL site with plenty of useful information. <And thank YOU for looking us up. We try as best we can.> All the best,

Small Marine Aquariums
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Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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