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FAQs about Marine Livestocking 24

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

Related FAQs: Best Marine Livestocking FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Livestocking FAQs 1, FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5FAQs 6FAQs 7FAQs 8FAQs 9, FAQs 10, FAQs 11, FAQs 12, FAQs 14, FAQs 15, FAQs 16, FAQs 17, FAQs 18, FAQs 19, FAQs 20, FAQ 21, FAQs 22, FAQs 23, FAQs 25, FAQs 26, FAQs 27, FAQs 28, FAQs 29, FAQs 30, FAQs 31, FOWLR Livestocking, Small System Stocking, Reef LivestockingAngelfish Selection, Triggerfish Selection, to do: add other sel FAQs files when adding FAQs f's here

Cirrhilabrus rubripinnis male, aquarium photo by Hiroyuki Tanaka.

Mismatched Marine Set-Up -- Compatibility Issues (4/22/05) Hello  <Hi. Steve Allen here.> I've been reading thru numerous FAQ's on your site to help to pick out a new addition to my marine tank, and seem to have found that I have already made some poor choices in my saltwater community.  <Don't we all?>  I have a 55g, 7 month old set-up with an Emperor 400 filter, SeaClone protein skimmer... <Get something better for your new tank.>  ...and a Penguin 440 power head for water circulation.  <More circulation too.>  Its lighted by a two light fluorescent strip and I recently added a H.O.T. Magnum canister filter for additional polishing.  <Just be sure to clean it of nitrate-generating detritus frequently.>  I have live sand, coral skeletons and non-live rock in the tank for the fish.  <"Dead" rock becomes live over time.> The tank houses a 3" Hippo Tang, 4" Purple Tang, 4" Foxface, 3" Sleeper Goby, 2" Percula Clown, 3" Royal Gramma, 2" Six-Line Wrasse, 2" Cherub Angel, 2" Orchid Dotty Back, 3" Firefish Goby, 3 Feather Dusters, a Cleaner Shrimp, and about 12 Blue Leg and Red legged Hermits. I am setting up a 125g tank to slowly transfer the fish into since I have already reached the present tanks limits.  <Indeed, beyond actually.>  And wanted to add another small Wrasse, a couple more clowns and some sort of larger Angel.  <Sorry, but the fish you already have will grow to fill the 125. Are you aware of the adult size of the Hippo Tang and the Rabbitfish? I can tell you from experience that Rabbitfishes grow fast. Mine went from 3" to 6" in a year. They get to 9". Also, clowns don't do groups. You could add one more percula to pair up with the other one you have now.  You could have some compatibility problems with the Tangs as they grow. In short, I would not recommend adding any more fish that grow large and adding only one or two small ones.>  But it seems as though I have already put together some poor matches. i.e. hermits with feather dusters, Wrasse with hermits. What would you suggest I remove and can I add the mentioned fish to the bigger tank?  <As above. If you want other fish, you would need to sell some of the ones you have now back, but it really is an attractive mix, as long as the Purple Tang isn't too aggressive. (They often are.) Keep an eye on the Dottyback too--prone to going after gobies.>  They seem to get along fairly well now, except for some "missing" hermits and the occasional hermit pecking at a Feather Duster. Rich  <Well Rich, you could always consider the hermits to be wrasse food, but they may well be OK even with the Wrasse. Picking at the featherdusters can be a problem, I doubt that the Blue-Legs would do any real harm. Even the red ones, if they are one of the smaller species are not likely to do much harm to a featherduster because the worm pulls in so quickly that the hermit ought to wander off quickly.>

Marine Fish Query... Oh my gosh, you folks have an amazing site! So much info.  Here's a question - I was wondering if there are marine fish that are good for the beginner, and that are perhaps less susceptible to disease than other types of fish. I have a very healthy spotted mandarin, that survived a velvet outbreak while the clownfish I had perished. How is that possible, they're supposed to be so delicate!  Nothing in the tank but the spotted and some invertebrates. It's twenty gallons with 15 pounds live rock, live sand. Any thoughts about tankmates? P.S.  I will be using a quarantine tank this round.  Ed <Ed, I would recommend clownfish. You might have just gotten unlucky with the last one. They are very hard and can handle mostly anything. If you don't want to go that route then try some cardinalfish (could eat shrimp though) or maybe a coral beauty (can pick at corals) I always like small fairy wrasses for that size tank. Good Luck. MikeB.> 

Three Angels? <Hi, MikeD here> Last month I added a juvenile blue angel and a flame angel (both about the same size) to my 125 (plus 15 gal sump) FOWLR (with 130 lbs rock). The flame angel was killed overnight.  Fortunately the LFS gave me store credit saying I never should have been sold both fish together.<Are you sure the killer was the Blue Angel?  Usually, if there are plenty of hiding refuges in the LR, these species will ignore each other in a tank the size of yours when added at the same time. Having the LR arranged too open and airy, without tight crevices to dart into can often lead to new fish being harassed.> Now a different salesman there is telling me that I can have a flame along with the blue angel if I also have a third angel in the tank.  Is this true?<I'd say no, particularly once an angel is established.>   Can the third angel be another dwarf?  Should it be a juvenile or adult?  Larger or same size?  Any recommendations?<I'd tend to shy away from another angel now that your Blue is established, even more so when you consider that the Blue will eventually grow to at least 15".  I'm assuming the LFS employee is referring to keeping Dwarf angels in a colony set up, where adding all three (or more) of the same species of dwarf are added simultaneously and is just a little mixed up.> My other occupants: Blue Angel (juvenile) Yellow tang Clarkii clown Royal Gramma Green Chromis Dragon goby Purple Firefish Redlip blenny Chalk bass Tobacco bass Sixline wrasse Canary wrasse You can see that I have no red-colored fish in the tank.  That's one of the reasons for wanting a flame angel.  Is there any other red fish that would thrive in my tank and get along with the others?<Have you considered something like the Black-bar Soldierfish? Once established, many of the Squirrelfish are out in the open quite frequently, with hiding normal when new.> The canary wrasse was just added two days ago.  LFS says the Sixline won't bother him due to different shape and size (Sixline had previously attacked a fairy wrasse--thought he could be my red fish).<Six-lines are often aggressive with ANY other wrasse if already established, with color often having no bearing.> Anyway. as soon as the canary was released, he buried himself in the sand as many Halichoeres do.  He has not come out.  I stirred the sand where I saw him go and he darted out and buried himself in another spot (so I know he's alive).  I know this is normal behavior when he's scared, but at what point should I be concerned that he's hiding too long?<That one may be tricky, as if it's a small specimen it may be being intimidated by the other fish.>  Is he eating anything under there?<No, wrasses don't eat while buried.> Finally, my Clarkii clown is quite large (over 4"--actually the biggest fish in my tank).  Could I add any other clown?<Again, I'd suggest against it as it's likely your established specimen will attack any other clown that you add.> A Friendly Crowd (Overstocking) Hi Crew, <Hello there! Scott F. here today!> I found your site a few months ago. I started about 11 months ago with a 10 gallon for dwarf seahorses. Was not cycled properly and lost them and decided to change to fish, peaceful. Started with 4 Green Chromis. Then added (over 2 months time) a Royal Gramma, a Firefish Goby, Clown Goby and Rainfordi. <Wow! That's waaaaaay to many fish! We're not talking Neon Tetras here...These fish need more volume!> Gave Chromis away and got a Pygmy Angel but he gave goby a hard time so I gave him away. <Yikes...> Then I ordered a Sixline Wrasse but they sent me what I think is a Striped Parrotfish that I gave away because the goby was all torn up the next morning-died a few days later. <Wooooaaahhh...Slow down, my friend...> They finally sent me the Sixline. Also added 2 Pajama Cardinals. So I have worked hard at getting a peaceful mix. <Do it on paper first-please...You need to do more research before purchasing fish. And you are really overstocking this tank...Remember, we're talking 10 gallons here- and that's not taking into account rocks, sand, etc. You may actually be talking about as little as 6 or 7 gallons here...> So now I have 2 PJ Cardinals, a Rainfordi, a Clown Goby, a Royal Gramma, and a Sixline Wrasse. Water tests very good except nitrates around 20 and I change a gallon a week. <The nitrate reading does not surprise me. It's not dangerous, in and of itself, but it is indicative of a substantial fish population and biological filtration that is struggling to catch up! I do commend you on your water changes, but with this crowd, you could even change 20% per week> According to what I read and your answers to others, I am overstocked. <I commend you on recognizing this! That's the beginning of your "maturing process" as a hobbyist. Do continue to think about the long-term needs of your fishes when developing and implementing a stocking plan.> Am I just fooling myself into thinking this can work. My thinking is they are peaceful and behave differently so it should work as it has now for over 2 weeks with no aggressiveness. <The stocking plan that you have seems okay, but as I keep stating, it's simply too many fish to be a viable long-term arrangement> The Cardinals just hover around, the Rainfordi ignores everyone, the Clown Goby stays on the bottom and only the Gramma and Wrasse swim back and forth. I have seen different ones race to the food and the first one wins and the other just backs off without fighting. <Again- it sounds like a sustainable population for a larger tank- say, 30 to 40 gallons or so. I don't like to keep harping on you, and dampening your obvious enthusiasm for the hobby, I just want you to be more aware of the potential long-term implications of this type of crowding. Please consider a larger aquarium- and soon! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Compatibility Questions Crew, <Hi! Ryan with you today> I am looking for some advice on fish selection. We have a 45 gallon reef tank that currently hosts 3 fairy wrasses and a coral beauty. Our LFS recommended the three fairy wrasses despite our concern that a 45 gallon tank was too small. <Certainly>  Unfortunately the mail fairy wrasse is bullying to the two females. We have decided to return all three fish to the store and try something a little smarter. <A great idea> We'd ultimately like a maroon clown for our BTA, and a friend for our coral beauty (he really perked up when the fairy wrasses were introduced). What fish would you recommend to accompany a maroon clown and coral beauty? <I actually think that a maroon clown is too much fish for a 45 gallon enclosure. There are, however, clowns that will live quite happily in this space. I'd recommend a Pink Skunk Clown, or even a Tomato Clown. As far as other tankmates, please select something that is vastly different in appearance. A goby, small hawkfish, or something that occupies a different zone in the tank will be your best bet! A Clown Goby is a great little addition to nearly any tank> Long-term plan is to also add a mandarin fish.. <Will likely never be healthy if you don't add a refugium, or wait until the tank is years old. If you're very serious about keeping this difficult beauty, you should refrain from adding other pod predators at this point. Good luck! Ryan> Thanks for your help. Christine 

Adding The Last Fish... Hi, Hope things are going well with all of you there. <They sure are! Scott F. here today> I have a several questions please. First, I currently have a 75 gallon F/O tank with the following inhabitants: a pair of false Percula Clowns, a Royal Gramma, a Coral Beauty Angel and a Flame Hawkfish. Would adding two more fish be too much for this tank? <Well, it depends on the size of the fish, and their space requirements. If we're talking about two small blennies or gobies, then I think that you'd be okay, provided no more fishes are added> Also, could you recommend a good addition that is fairly easy to keep and compatible with the others? <I think a really cool addition would be a "Canary Wrasse", Halichoeres chrysus. A great looking fish that should be able to take care of itself. That should be your last addition, however.> I know fish should be added in the order of their aggressiveness, so is it too late to add a real peaceful fish? <It's too late to add a docile fish, but a peaceful fish like the aforementioned wrasse, or maybe a small Ecsenius species blenny could be fine. Just watch for any problems> Thank you for all of your help. James <Glad to be of assistance! Regards, Scott F>

Avoiding "Nano-No-No's!" (Maintaining/Stocking A Small Tank) Hi Wetweb, <Hey there Scott F. at your service today!> First of all, your site is awesome. I've learned so much that's helpful from you in the last two months. That's when I got a second-hand 16-gallon tank with about 20 lbs of live rock and live sand. The lighting is power compact, 40 watt, 10,000k. No skimmer. I've been doing 10 percent water changes weekly, though have been told recently to up that to about 30 percent (yes?). <I am a water change fanatic (at least according to my friends), but even I only do 10% a week. Although there is nothing wrong with establishing a good water change routine, you don't want to overburden yourself or traumatize the life forms with constant large water changes. I like 2 5% changes a week> I've been adding livestock very slowly and right now have a Dottyback, a clam, mushrooms, polyp fragments, a leather, a couple hermit crabs, etc. Here are my questions. First, should I get a skimmer? I'm been reading your site, and am considering an Aqua-c, but am worried that it will be too powerful for my tank in terms of water flow, and also taking nutrients out. Should I go ahead and get one and just run it part-time, consider something else, or keep on with the water changes only? I've read all of your skimmer responses have ended up a bit confused about this. <I would not hesitate to add a skimmer. You run little risk of depleting trace elements or desired compounds from the water. With continuous replenishment from our dedicated water change schedule, you probably won't even need to use the "additives" that everyone loves to buy! A protein skimmer is an absolute must, IMO> Next, is my lighting ok for my little clam, and in general, for getting other soft corals like xenia and bubble coral? <Marginal for the clam, but okay for some of these less-demanding (from a light standpoint) coral. I would not mix Xenia and Bubble Coral in a small water volume like this, myself though> My LFS said xenia needed metal halide lighting, but on a site, someone keeping xenia was doing fine with a power compact. <PC is fine for Xenia, trust me> I don't think I can spring for metal halide lighting, but if my lighting is insufficient, should I get more powerful bulbs? <Well, when you reach the point were you are considering a $300 lighting system for a $100 tank setup, it's time to shop for a larger tank! You've been "infected" by the hobby at that point, and the only cure is to move up! LOL> I'd like to get a couple small shrimp, but am also concerned about changes in my salinity. I try to keep things around 1.023 and 1.024, (is this right?) and was pretty successful. Then I read I should take the cover off my tank to improve my lighting, but evaporation is now more of a problem and the salinity goes up more than I'd like. <Yep, in a small ("nano") tank like yours, the difficulties of maintaining stability are magnified. It's not impossible by any stretch, it's just that things can happen pretty quickly in a small volume of water. You have to remain especially vigilant to water quality and evaporation in such a system.> Is there anything I can do about this? <Top off the system daily to maintain stability. Some people even design and build automated top off systems for their tanks. These things scare the hell out of me, but I envy them for not having to constantly reach for a pitcher of water for top off > Also is this the right salinity for a shrimp? And if so, what kind of shrimp do you suggest for my tank size etc. (Someone suggested cleaner shrimp)? <Your specific gravity is fine for shrimp. I'd go with one of the many small "cleaner" varieties available. Do a little research on the WWM site for candidates, or get a copy of Bob and Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates" book for a thorough treatment on these cool creatures!> Also, for fish, I plan to add just one or two more. I'd like a mandarin, but again have gotten conflicting info. At one LFS, I was told it would do fine, even with a Dottyback, at the other, I was told a mandarin would starve because the Dottyback would get all of its food. Can I get a mandarin? <I would avoid this fish for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the fish can be difficult to feed, particularly in a newly established system. Plus, you don't want to over tax a small tank with too much bioload. How about a small, colorful goby or blenny? Plenty of cool ones to choose from> Also, after that, if I have room, I'd like to possibly get a small clown or a Chromis. Would it or the clown have territory issues with the Dottyback? <Please refrain from adding more fishes after the goby. Understanding the limits on small tanks is part of the challenge and art of keeping them. In fact, even in 300 gallon tanks you need this wired. You need to have the discipline of when to say when with this hobby, but this is imperative with small tanks like yours. Enjoy the animals that you've already assembled at that point, and consider a larger tank when you want to expand. The patience will serve you well, trust me.> Would either stay small enough for my tank? <Nope. See my rant above!> Last question (for now), someone locally is breaking down is 100 gallon reef tank and I can possibly pick up some livestock, but the tank has been a bit neglected. Should I go ahead? What should I keep an eye out for? <Well, much to review, including the quality an condition of the animals and equipment. Obviously, as mentioned above, you need to have the room for the animals, and the ability to maintain the ones that are available. It can be a good deal, but I'd do some homework first to see if what you would get is viable, within your means to keep, and healthy. Sometimes, the reason why these systems are available is because the guy selling them made bad equipment/livestock choices, and is now paying the price. Don't take on someone else's burden, if this is the case...> Thanks so much for your help. <My pleasure! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Finishing Touches (New Additions To A FOWLR Tank) Hi Crew, Happy Cinco De Mayo! <Ola! Scott F. (who took 4 years of French in High School, but can still order a good Margarita when called upon) with you today!> I have a 120 gallon FOWL tank with about 150 lbs. of live rock, and a 30 gal Sump/Skimmer set up for about 8 mo. with an acceptable 1100 gph circulation. Current inhabitants: a 6" Australian Lienardella fasciata, 5 yr old 2" Dascyllus aruanus, and a 6" Odonus niger, a half dozen various hermits (all but the largest have disappeared, go figure ;) and 3 or 4 monster turbo snails,. I want to make the tank a little more natural looking, and was wondering if a growing a crop of macro algae in the main display, such as something from the Caulerpaceae family would be easy/feasible/smart. <Caulerpa is an attractive algae, but it can be difficult to eliminate once it gets established, and it can really take over an aquascape! I'd opt for a less "palatable" (to the fishes) macroalgae, such as Halimeda, which is equally attractive, but has few of the negatives that are commonly associated with Caulerpa> Lighting is minimal, 2 40w NO fluorescents, (one actinic, one daylight) on 10 hours a day. Is this enough light? <You might want to get some more light in there.> Are there any drawbacks/ toxicity issues, which would affect water quality, (I've read the numerous articles/ inquiries regarding this species of macro with coral reef displays) <Exactly. Caulerpa are great, but you need to consider the other inhabitants of the tank (i.e.; sessile inverts and other algae), as well as the life cycle of these macroalgae when contemplating their use.> Lastly, to finish off the display; your thoughts on adding 1 or 2 specimens from the following "I want really badly" list of inhabitants: Balistoides conspicillum 3-4" Gymnothorax favagineus (I'd have to find other quarters for the damsel first, I know) Holacanthus ciliaris 5-6" <Well, you asked me...I'd pass on all of these. You do have a nice-sized tank, but I think that you'd be risking overcrowding things with the addition of any of these fish.> Or, are there any small schooling species (where I could add 5-6 small individuals) that would be compatible with my tank? I've always loved watching schooling fish, though I know this behavior is greatly affected in such close quarters... <It can be. A lot of hobbyists like a small school of Chromis for this purpose. You may also want to consider a few smaller "specimen" fish, such as a Halichoeres species wrasse, or a small group (like 3) of Royal Gramma, or maybe a single Pseudochromis...Lots of possibilities. Do take into account your trigger and its potentially aggressive tendencies, though> Thanks for all the help, now and in the past. <Glad to be of service, Blair. Feel free to discuss any other ideas that you have with us.> Blair P.S. Can't wait to see / meet some of you in Chicago this summer. <Me too! See you at IMAC! Regards, Scott F>

Lessons Learned! Thanks for the reply. <Scott F. with the follow-up today! A big "You're welcome" on behalf of whichever one of my fellow Crew members helped you out before!> After I sent the message, I found the section on lighting and learned a lot of what you told me. (sorry) You really gave me a whole new methodology of how to think about what livestock I'm planning. Then the computer locked up and I couldn't find it again. <That sucks..!> The tank has been in operation since Nov 03. I have been really slow about adding livestock since I really want to understand the water cycles and chemical balances before moving on to more delicate creatures. <Absolutely nothing wrong with that approach!> I got the Chromis since they are hardy without the aggressiveness of damsels (and they school which is entertaining in itself.) I HATE it when something dies. <A feeling that we both share...> I really spend a lot of time researching and want my ducks in a row before adding needlessly or out of balance. The #1 mistake in aquarium keeping is supposed to be moving too fast. <Yep...And not researching before moving too fast! A lethal combination!> I don't want to make that mistake. Again thanks.   <Neither do we! Feel free to query any of us whenever you have any questions! Regards, Scott F>

Fish Out of Water! Hi! <Hi! Ryan with you> I am new to the saltwater hobby, but after keeping freshwater aquariums for a number of years I guess it was inevitable that I try.  I have started out with a 20 gal just to see how much trouble it would actually be and if I would enjoy it.  I have read your site religiously for the past several weeks and have really enjoyed the tremendous amount of information it contains!! <Great!> I am going to explain my plan before I post my problem so I don't get fussed at. (Not that you would..;)....) My plan was to cycle my aquarium using live rock.  I am through the ammonia portion (0 for almost two weeks) and my nitrites are beginning to drop from the 4.0 range down to the 1.6 range.  I had no plans of adding fish until cycled.  I had some problems keeping PH up, but seem to have conquered that using a marine buffer and it is maintaining at 8.3 nicely.  Two days ago, I decided to add more live rock.  I am up to about 15 lbs of live rock and have many interesting specimens such as hermit crabs, various worms, feather dusters and snails growing. Life was going well.  Upon returning home with another large (8lb) chunk of live rock I opened the box and received my most interesting specimen out of live rock yet.  A Firefish goby.  He was laying in the bottom of the Styrofoam container the live rock was in, out of water.  Bless his heart, it was a 30 minute trip from the fish store at least.  I assume he was hiding in the live rock when it was taken out of the tank.  Not having any means to acclimate him, and due to the fact that he was looking like he could pass on at any moment, I took a chance and just dumped him in my tank.  (I do realize that I should QT, acclimate, etc, but I just couldn't let the poor fellow die!!)  Now after two days, he is finally coming out of his hiding place (in the same live rock) when fed, but is twitching a lot.  He does not have any apparent visual signs of disease, but the twitching continuously does bother me. <This is a naturally twitchy fish, constantly adjusting their height in the water column.  Keep an eye out for rubbing on surfaces, substrate, etc.> For future reference, do you have any suggestions should myself or another reader run into a problem such as this?  And is there anything that I can do now to help this poor fellow, or any specifics I should watch for? <If a fish is near death, I would quarantine him ASAP.  When a fish is under this serious amount of stress, pathogens and other nasties have a higher likelihood of entering the body- therefore causing disease.  My rule of thumb- I don't even shop for a new fish until I have my quarantine out from the garage.  Typical pet shop ailments are ick and Popeye.  If you see small salty grains on his skin, you're going to need to quarantine him ASAP.  Popeye is typically caused from smashing into glass, rock etc.  It goes away, but should be treated in quarantine as well with medication.  You scenario is a little different, as he is the only fish, and is unable to transmit disease to others.  But, please wait at least a month to make sure he's healthy before adding more tenants.  Karen, this is a brand new tank!  Let's start it with the SAFE methods and procedures.  Good luck, Ryan> Thank you in advance for your help and information!!   Karen

Stocking List Can't begin to tell you how much I've learned from the site. Thx! My system is close to being completed and I wanted to run some details by you ---<Surely! Ryan with you today> 1) 120g 48x24x24 FOWLR, 120lbs live rock/2" live sand enough to support Imperator, Harlequin Tusk, Clown Trigger, Zebra Moray? --- that's all the fish I plan for, I promise! Or will I need to supplement with some bioballs? <Too much, no matter how many bio-balls you stick in there.  Adult size of these fishes is not compatible with your system.  I would remove the trigger from the mix.> 2) Trapezoid prefilter - 1.5in drain and 0.5in x3 returns, will probably add Tunze stream for increased turnover, sound ok? Tank has already been drilled so I can't change bulkhead size or number  =(    3) Euro-Fil sump 36x12.5.20in 4) ASM G2 skimmer, should I go to G3? <You should overshoot the rating.  I haven't had experience with this brand> 5) Sedra 9000 x2 returns (rated 900gph each) 6) 18w TurboTwist UV sterilizer 7) T5 48" 38w x3 - two white, one actinic, is this enough for the live rock? Should I add one more white and one more actinic? <Be fine for rock> Thx guys for all your input, <Surely!  Tom, everyone will be happier without the trigger.  He'll be too rambunctious, and stress kills in glass boxes.  Cheers, Ryan> Tom

Tank Set Up and Livestock Review  Hi:  <Hi Dan>  First, Thank You for taking the time to answer so many questions - Your site is immensely valuable and I appreciate it.  <You're most welcome. Thank you for your kind words and appreciation.>  I have been planning my first saltwater setup for a few months now - so much to read and learn.  <You're off to a great start. I can't say enough for planning and reading.>  I've always had freshwater, but this is first saltwater try. I wanted to run my plans by you and ask you about my inhabitant selection and I'd appreciate any general thoughts as well. I have decided to go with a 38 gallon starter tank with either a 10 or 15 gallon sump, your thoughts? - I thought 15 to add volume in case of problem] to add to water volume/stability to the extent possible and also to conceal skimmer, heater, etc.  <Sounds good. The more water volume the better>  I contemplated having the tank drilled, but have decided against it despite noticing your comments about overflows. I plan to move up someday if things work out and will buy a pre-drilled tank with an internal overflow once I get the hang of the saltwater thing.  <Funny thing this hobby it can become a bit addicting and you may find yourself upgrading now and again or even adding just one more tank.>  At any rate: CPR CS100 overflow w/ Aqualifter pump, dual 150 watt heaters (failure redundancy), an AquaC skimmer, not yet bought, but likely the Urchin/Urchin Pro, 9W UV sterilizer, Orbit 2 x 96 W 50/50 10,000K w/ 3 lunar lights, pumps/powerhead plans not yet final, approx 50 lbs. live rock/Tonga branch, 20-30 lbs. live sand with 35-45 lbs. other sand for DSB. The following would be my cleaners/maintenance crew: 2 smaller peppermint shrimp  <They grow quickly>  6-8 red and scarlet hermits and 10 Astraea and turbo snails. I would like to introduce smaller sizes of the following fish: 2 blue-green chromis,1 ocellaris, 1 yellow watchman goby, 1 Banggai cardinal and 1 royal Gramma.  < Actually it sounds just fine. You might want to consider pairs for the Ocellaris Clownfish or the Banggai Cardinalfish as both species do well in pairs and pair interaction can be quite entertaining and fascinating. All the fish you have chosen just happen to be available captively bred. Please do consider this environmentally wise option when you are ready to purchase your stock. http://www.inlandaquatics.com  and http://www.drmaccorals.com/sys-tmpl/door/  are both excellent sources of captive bred and tank raised fish and inverts.>  Eventually: button polyps, colony polyps, hairy mushroom coral, bull's-eye mushroom coral and green fluorescent mushroom corals.  <All good choices>  I know it might be a large load and that is why I planned the sump and hope to be able to handle it with the OR, LS, cleaners/maintenance, as well as aggressive water turnover. I also realize I maybe planning too much - just be gentle- I'm trying to plan carefully and be responsible.  <No bullies here. Your doing a great job>  Anyhow, let me know what you think when you get a chance.   Again, thank you for your help and all your time. Dan Kelley  <Your most welcome!> Leslie

Stocking Continued 5/9/04 SO it is all good in a 75 gallon tank. <Well that depends on which cowfish species you decided on. The larger species will need a minimum of 180g and much bigger if you intend to keep 3 of them.> The species of cowfish are called Lactoria cornuta. < I had a feeling this was the fish you were considering. They are fairly common. Well my friend this species has a potential to get to be 19 inches in the wild.> The LFS guy said they grow to 2 - 3 inches in the home aquarium. <He is sadly mistaken and misguiding you. They may not reach their full potential in the home aquarium but 2 to 3 inches is a gross understatement. Is it really fair to take a juvenile animal from the wild and confine it behind 4 glass walls that are 1/2 the recommended size for the fish to live comfortably and then expect it to thrive and live a full happy life. Someone needs to be an advocate for these creatures. I feel very strongly that when we choose an animal or they choose us it and we decide to take it into our care it is our responsibility to provide it with the best care and environment possible. Hopefully this is a case of mis information rather than the attempt to make a sale.  I have learned the hard way whose advice  to trust at the LFS and whose to avoid at all costs. I still ask at the LFS but always come home and do my homework before I make a decision. I also use it as an opportunity for education and always attempt to pass on what I know or have learned. Please skip those Cowfish unless you are prepared to provide a much bigger tank in the near future. Leslie>

- ? - hi , my name is john , imagine that { he he } <Ok.> i have a 75 gallon talk , 36 pounds of live rock 6dollar kind , a coral beauty , 3 damsels yellow tails , and a hermit crab that is about to lose his tank privileges , and or life { eats all and everything , live rock is cleaned of all life forms after i added this critter ! bummer well my ? is i want to get to this scenario - one large angel , and a lot of blennies , i love these small guys , i also love wrasse fish ,  i have a sandy  to fine base coral in there at about 3 inches , i know it takes awhile to get the bed of sand full of eatable stuff for the blennies and mandarin fish , but how do you go about putting stuff in the tank to achieve this , { will it all happen with live rock and   time along with water changes ? <Yes, but your tank will not produce enough life to support a mandarin fish.> by the way my tank has been set up for about 6 weeks , <It's going to take a while longer than that - months.> i run with a wet dry system , and chem pure , , thanks for addressing my ?'s and help me get to euphoria with a large angel , blennies and a wrasse  all livin in a peaceful harmonious state ! thanks i love your site <Cheers, J -- >

FOWLR Questions Hi, <How goes it? Michael here> I have a FOWLR with three large predators: a golden meleagris puffer <I envy you!>, a clown trigger, and a snowflake moray. <Must be a large aquarium!> I want to liven up the look of my tank. I've ruled out adding another fish due to space concerns and my trigger's past homicidal outlook toward anyone other than his two buddies. <Gotta love triggers> The tank's live rock is unglamorous "base" rock and has no coralline on it. My water parameters are good across the board -- PH 8.2, Total Nitrates 20, Cal 400, Alk 11, SG 1.023 -- save for phosphates which I am working hard to drop from the current 0.5 reading. <That will interfere with coralline growth, try Seachem's Phosguard or Seagel, or two little fishies' Phosban> I am in the process of adding coralline-encrusted rocks to the tank which I will help spread through the use of ReefCalcium. But I would like to add some of the following. I have corresponded with several people with similar tanks to mine. What they have told me is that some of them -- some -- have been able to keep mushrooms, brown polyps and finger/ leather corals in with puffers and triggers. Chocolate chip stars haven't been harmed in any of their cases. <I wouldn't add any invertebrates to an aquarium containing puffers\triggers, but I guess that's just me - hard to keep the water quality high enough for coral growth> Snails seem universally killed, and hermit crabs can last a while depending upon the mood and hunger of the fish. <Wouldn't add either of these, either> I would like to add a little more visual impact to the tank, and if they/it could aid in hair algae control that would be an added benefit. What would you do if you were in my shoes? <Add Chaetomorpha and Caulerpa, and attempt the coralline growth if I really wanted it> Which are my best bets in your opinion? <Killing your phosphates, making sure you have enough lighting (coralline loves actinic lighting as well) and dosing Calcium Glutamate - See GARF's coralline growth guide at www.garf.org> Also, for both this tank and a smaller tank, do chocolate chip stars eat coralline? <Hmm, not as far as I know> And which hermits tend to stay away from coralline --I read conflicting reports? <Small Mexican red legs, can be purchased from GARF - just don't add them to your current tank, or they'll be easy snacks> Thank you for your kind help! <No problem, and I'm still jealous of your livestock! M. Maddox>

- 30 Gallon Tank Mates -  Hi,  I have a 36"X12"X17" inch 30 gallon F.O. tank, with no live rock, but lots of dead rock. I have had a percula clown in there for a month who is doing great. I want to add a Falco's Hawkfish and Orchid Dottyback eventually but first want to add a yet undecided fish. <Wouldn't add any more than these two... last thing you want to do is overstock a small tank.> I have what I believe sufficient filtration (A Biowheel Emperor 280, and a Fluval 403). <All the same, is best not to push your luck.> I am worried about possible tankmate aggression and space problems, however. 3 possibilities I have considered are a canary blenny, yellowtail fang blenny, or Randall's shrimp goby. <The fang blenny would be a mistake - I'd pick one from this list and perhaps the hawkfish, no more.> Any suggestions on these or other possible tankmates? Thanks a lot? <My pleasure?>  -Mike  p.s. Great site. Informative and extensive  <Cheers, J -- >

To The Max  Hello Crew  <Hi! Ryan with you>  I have a stocking question for you. Currently I have a 135 FO system with a 30g sump...no live rock. Like a lot of newbies I went out and bought a lot of small fish that don't stay small. Now the tank is beginning to get crowded. The current inhabitants are:  1 Harlequin Tusk  1 Porcupine Puffer  1 Humu Trigger  1 Clown Trigger  2 Yellow Tangs  1 Lunar Wrasse  1 Yellow Damsel  1 neon goby  <Holy mother of bio-loads, Batman>  A big load I know. Now the good news. I set up my 72g bowfront and will be able to remove some of my current fish from the 135 and relocate them to the 72. <OK...>  The puffer is first on the list to go. He is about 6" and is in great health but he has an appetite for sand sifting stars and hermit crabs that I would like to keep in the 135. <This puffer will not fit in a 72 gallon tank for long at all>  I would also like to get a Volitans lion to put with the puffer. <Volitans is too big for this tanks also>  Are there any recommendations you would make for the rest of the fish. Should I move others to the 72 or take some of them to the LFS? If so, which do you suggest? I cannot part with the Tusk or the triggers.  <OK...here's your best bet. 72 gallon could hold: Lunar Wrasse and Humu Trigger. 130 Could hold: Tusk and Clown trigger, but there could be problems once these guys brawl. Puffer has got to go, he'll just be too big too soon. Damsel/Goby could go either way. Yellow tangs could go in the 130, but without live rock I doubt they're getting the dietary supplements they need. I would seriously consider adding a large amount of live rock to both tanks.>  Also, I have seen in various pet stores Oceanic now sells water from the Ocean in 5g boxes. What is your opinion on this product? Do you have any experience with it? <Haven't tried it, seems pretty pricey. I'm sure that you could find a review over at Reefcentral.com>  Thanks for taking the time to spread some knowledge!  <No problem! Good luck, and make sure to research future purchases! See ya, Ryan>  Kirk -  Austin, TX

Frightened Canary 2 (4/24/04)  Well, doesn't sound good for the Canary Wrasse (or rather, the other fish we might have to give up) but thanks for the help. The damsel we have is a yellow tailed one that we had to start our tank off last year (there was 2 of them originally). We know he's definitely a problem, which is why I said he's being given up for adoption soon. But I didn't know that the Tomato Clown will also get more aggressive with age, are all clowns that way? Or just the Tomato? <Clowns are all Damsels, but some are more aggressive than others. Maroons are notorious. Tomatoes also have a reputation. Quoting Scott W. Michael, "It can also prove to be very belligerent when it begins to mature, striking out at peaceful tankmates...">  We've been researching some new fish to get that will get along with the Canary. Would a longnose Hawkfish be a good tank companion? <Cool fish! It will eat any shrimp you have. It should be OK with the Canary since they reach approximately the same size, but I would start out with one that is clearly smaller than the Canary. They have been known to eat fish that are smaller than they are.> Thanks for the advice, love your site! :) <An honor to play a small part. Steve Allen.> Kerry

Being a Good Samaritan (4/22/04)  First off I have to thank you all so very much for this veritable font of information. I read your site daily and sadly have pestered you with questions already. I have been searching the site this evening and can't find any answer to my question. I was browsing around a LFS and saw a beautiful fish, I thought about the fish for 3 days and had to go back and have a look. The poor thing was huddled in the corner, it's mouth is open all the time but it's gills don't appear to be moving rapidly or really slowly either. I asked if it was dying and was told that it had bumped into a new rock they had put it the tank, it has a lump on one side, it's like a bug bite. It bothered me all day at work and after work I made my mom go look at this little beauty, she felt bad for him too. I asked if they were giving him any medicines and they claim he's fine. I'm a sucker for an underdog and would love to buy this fish but I'm new at this and not sure what all his problems might be. <Which is why you should not buy this fish, no matter how sorry you feel for it.> I have read Bob's book cover to cover but am still at a loss. I have a 120 gallon that I have been cycling for 2 months, all my water levels check out great, I've had 2 damsels in it for a month, which I intend to leave in the tank. I have a 20 gallon quarantine tank. This fish is a Paddlefin Wrasse, I had my heart set on another Thalassoma wrasse but if I could help this one I wouldn't be disappointed, it's a gorgeous fish. It had it's mouth open the whole time I was there, it has the lump on it's side, when they put a net in to assure me he wasn't dying he "paced" around the tank a bit and then scratched against some LR a couple times, almost slamming into it and hid with a cleaner shrimp under a rock. So what's your diagnosis? <Impossible to guess. Could be a tumor, internal parasite, bacterial infection, or multiple issues.> I thought the scratching had to be a parasite of some sort, but again I'm new and not well versed in fish diseases. They said they'd hold him for a couple days but I'm not sure I'm up to the challenge, does it sound like he could be cured in my QT? <Not likely.> I can't find a lot of info on Wrasses, any ideas? <Nothing particularly useful without seeing the fish myself.> Thanks a ton! <I strongly advise you to not let your understandable pity for this poor creature get the better of you. You have stated that you are a beginner. Diagnosing & treating mysterious illnesses is difficult even for more advanced aquarists. You would be in for a difficult and possibly discouraging experience that most likely will end as a failure. Start your hobby with better odds of success--it's challenging enough with healthy fish. Steve Allen.>

Aggression Issues (4/24/04)  Hi Guys: Thank you very much for your prompt response (Steve), after reading it I went into the LFS and exchange the deposit for the tang for a few pounds of live rock which at the moment I'm re-curing. About my 3 bullies in the tank do you think it might be wise to exchange the damsel for another Clarkii to mate (hopefully) with my Clarkii. <You would need a significantly smaller one, but there still may be fatal aggression rather than pairing.> I know a quarantine period must be observed and an introduction protocol as well in order to re-adjust the territories already in possession. I don't really want to get rid of my Maroon, I'm quite fond of it, but if you foresee a future problem. <I strongly doubt that you would be able to safely keep 2 Clarkii and a Maroon in the same tank. Even one of each may get to be a problem. Clowns generally don't like each other unless they are a mated pair.> I could give it a thought. Maybe a complete change of the live rock / anemone positions, could help on the territorial problems? <Might, but anemones can be harmed by being moved.>  I would also like to ask if you know any good retailers in the Laredo or McAllen, TX area. I live in Monterrey, Mexico and 2 hours away form the border. We have a couple of good and responsible retailers here, but aren't always well stocked, specially on dry goods, and wouldn't mind driving there. Internet orders work, but the shipping prices aren't always a bargain. <I'd suggest you post this question under Local/Internet Stores on the WetWebFotos forum. Somebody there may know of some.> Thanks again. <You're welcome. Steve Allen.>

- Fish Mix -  Hello. I'm in the process of planning a 90-gallon reef tank (due to be set up by the end of the month), and the information I've found on your website has been invaluable. I'd love to have your opinion on the livestock I'd like to have in the tank. In terms of corals and invertebrates, I plan on having mostly soft corals (leather, mushroom, colt and other fairly hardy types) and also possibly some ornamental shrimp (see question below), hermit crabs and snails. As for fish, I'd really like to try my luck with a dwarf angel (either c. argi or an African or Brazilian Flameback), a sailfin blenny (Atrosalarias fuscus, gold morph if possible), a couple of neon gobies, a pair of Banggai cardinals (male and female), a flame hawkfish, a peppermint hogfish (not Bodianus masudai, but the smaller/slimmer species that is being more commonly imported) and a five-bar mystery wrasse. <The latter three will make it very difficult to keep any shrimp, decorative or not.> I plan to add the fish slowly over time after adding the corals. The tank will have a 36-gallon sump with a built-in refugium. First of all, do you think I've included too many fish on my wish list given the size of the tank? <Because they are all on the smaller side, they'd likely be fine - of course given enough places to hide, etc.> Second, given that hawkfish, hogfish and wrasses have an appetite for shrimp and snails, are there any invertebrates I could include in this tank that would be safe around these fish and would function as a clean-up crew? <Not really... all would be sampled eventually.> Finally, are you aware of any compatibility issues with having a hawkfish and a blenny in the same tank? <No problems that I am aware of.> I know most blennies don't like sharing tanks with other blennies, but I don't know how one would feel about a hawkfish. <Most likely indifferent.> Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. You guys are the best!  Keith  <Cheers, J -- >

-Stocking a 65-  hello, I've read hundreds of posts and decided it's about time I began my own symbiotic WWM relationship. It the AM and I am watching my tank in awe, as I do every morning. It is a 65 gallon w/ built in overflow. The overflow leads to a 10 gallon DIY mud/algae filter. The system has been set up and cycled for approximately 4 months. While I don't' have the specific values, I can say that the water is tested bimonthly (PH, NH, NO2, NO3, magnesium, phosphorus, salinity, etc...) at a very reputed  LFS. <Cool, but it is important to have test kits on hand for the unsuspected disaster.> They assure me every visit that everything is going fine, even with a hint of surprise in their voices, probably because I am most obviously a novice. I have in addition to the minimal but very effective filtration, I have 400W of lighting (combination of pc and MH), 2 power heads, 40 # or 1.5-2" live sand, 90# live rock, and the water is/was all r/o and true store bought sea water (all an advantage to living on Miami beach.) <Neat!> Stocked with; 2 true Percs, 2 sleeper-head gobies (eat anything I give them), 1 mandarin (no worry yet of the life food issue already plenty from the refugium), one yellow-Hawaiian tang, 1 Seabee anemone, 1 leather toadstool, a large "patch" of star-burst polyps, one large (somewhat unidentified mushroom), numerous hitchhiker mushrooms and Ricordea, and an innumerable amount of hermit's and snails. <k>  I think I've at least slightly covered it. Now for my question(s). First, the pair of clowns, one of them from day one (I didn't notice it at the store) has a complete lack of pectoral fins; no nubs, no scars, not even a hint of a blemish. It eats swims and gets along fine although it's color is remarkably duller than it's counterpart. Is this common? <Not that I know of! Usually when any fin gets nibbled off it will grow back, imperfect as it may, they should eventually grow back. Sounds like this guy was born w/out them, which I suppose could happen.> Secondly, can I or should I consider adding more fish? <You could probably handle another small fish or two (definitely not any fish that would compete w/ the mandarin though). I wouldn't add anything else unless your really head over heels about it (i.e. don't just impulse buy the remaining 'fish slots' since the fish community will do better w/ a smaller number of residents).> Finally, for now, the anemone eats often, the bits of squid, shrimp, and other meaty foods I feed the livestock. It seems to be doing quite well. For a month it has been attached to a beautifully craggy boulder and only moving a bit now and then to meet with the water flow. My concern, hopefully unfounded is), should I be feeding it specifically more or less? <I would regularly feed it a large chunk, say once or twice a week in addition to the stuff that it randomly catches.> Or, are there signs I should look for that it is not getting enough nourishment? <It would likely get smaller as it slowly consumes itself, also look for signs of bleaching even though you have adequate lighting.>  Thank you for your time and attention. This I am sure will be only the first of my many questions submitted. <Excellent, I hope this is of some helps! -Kevin>

Just One More Fish, Please. (4/21/04) Hi there: <Hello. Steve Allen at your service tonight.> I want to congratulate you on a very useful and information full website, job well done and thank you very much for it.  <'tis a pleasure to play a small part. Others have put far more into this than I have. It's been a great resource for many, myself included.> I have couple of questions about adding a yellow tang to my system, but let me resume my tank specs first: 95 gal FOWLR water parameters: Ph 8.2 Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, temp 26 Celsius, 2 power heads in tank for water circulation and a wet/dry bio-ball trickle filter - skimmer - activated carbon in sump. As of the show tank I have around 80 pounds of live rock and a 2 inch crushed coral bed (system's being running for almost 18 months now).  Live Stock: 1 Clarkii clownfish 2", 1 Maroon clownfish 1.5",  <these two may not get along in the long run>  1 blue damsel 1.5" <tends to get very mean with age>  1 Sailfin Tang 4.5", <will attain 15">  1 Raccoon Butterfly 2" <eventually 4X or more bigger>  1 Cleaning Wrasse 2.5" <True Cleaner Wrasses (Labroides sp.) almost always starve to death in aquariums>   2 Chocolate Chip sea stars,  1 long tentacle anemone (8" diameter home of the Clarkii),  5 bubble tip anemone (+- 1" diameter one is home of the maroon (at the beginning there were only two but one has divided into 4 individuals) <Wow>  several red legged hermit crabs  1 Mexican turbo snail  1 peppermint shrimp  1 banded coral shrimp.  And the question is, Do you see room in here for a Yellow Tang? I saw it a my LFS it's about 3" and I'm a little concerned for territorial disputes with the Sailfin? <Deathmatch 2004 will eventually ensue. I strongly recommend against this addition in a 95.>  The other concern is that I put a 50% deposit for it last Friday and when visited on Sunday found out that he as well as all other tangs on display (yellows, purples, blue powders) were showing a big ich problem. <RED ALERT! RED ALERT! Get your money back now. If he won't give it to you, walk out the door and never set foot in that store again. Thank the powers that be that you didn't take it home on Friday and dump it in your tank.>  The LFS owner told me to wait for a week for them to treat them and then take him home, but I'm concerned on passing on the disease <BE VERY AFRAID!> as well as survival chances with another stressing move from the LFS to my place. <Do not accept a fish that has only been "cured" for a week unless you can quarantine for 8 weeks. He might as well advise you to pour Drano in your tank. His system is infested. You have a beautiful, thriving community. Do not put at risk for this particular fish! Waaaay not worth it! Have I made myself emphatically clear enough?> Thanks in advance for your help. Alfonso <You're welcome. Well, you should clearly understand my position on taking this particular fish by now. Honestly, I think it would be a big mistake to add any Tang. I'm not sure I'd add anything to this mix. A Flame Angel would be a possibility, but I'd probably get rid of the Damsel first. 3 bullies in one tank could get ugly down the road. Your clowns and Damsel are all notorious for getting a lot meaner as they grow.>

Revised Stocking List For a 110 (4/21/04) Hi <Hello. Steve Allen again.> How about this as a revised fish list for my 110 gallon fish only tank. Trigger (either Picasso or Niger) Moray Eel Dog face puffer or other type of puffer Yellow Tang Koran Angelfish Thanks <This is a nice mix of fish. I hesitate a bit with the puffer because they can get really big. Some attain football-size. The Koran can exceed a foot too. If you choose a bigger Moray than a Snowflake (Zebra for instance), I'd recommend against the puffer. The tank might seem kind of empty with only the trigger, moray, tang & angel to start with, but they'd sure enjoy not being crowded and would fill the tank quite nicely over a couple of years. I'd also expect them to express a lot more personality and interesting behavior with some personal space. I've heard Picassos referred to as "a fish that thinks it's a dog."> How Many Fish Can I Have? (4/19/04) Hi <Howdy. Steve Allen tonight.> I have a fair size reef aquarium - 55 gallon - (that been running for 6 months) which has been going pretty well so far. I've now decided to set up a FO aquarium for all those fish a really like but can't get in a reef aquarium or would grow to big. The tank is a 4ft by 2ft by 2ft with a fairly large sump underneath (made out of an old 3ft aquarium. So I'm guessing it will be between 100 and 110 gallon.   The fish I would like to keep in order of preference are: Flying Gurnard <Skip it--needs hundreds of gallons and a really long tank. Depending on species, adult length is 2-3 feet and they really do fly Niger Trigger <ought to be OK. Have you considered a Picasso?> Boxfish (although I may go for a cowfish because of the poison the box fish can give off)  <Cowfish have it too, and the grow over a foot in length. Count on the Trigger to eventually "trigger" a toxin release.> Blue Surgeon <Species? Do not get a powder blue--not hardy and an ich magnet.> Moray Eel <A Snowflake would be nice.> Lionfish <A dwarf would be preferable> 3-5 Regal Tangs AND/ OR 3-5 Yellow Tangs <Only one Tang is a tank of this size.> So what I'd like to know is are these fish compatible? <See individual comments above> If so which do I put in first? <The lion probably. It's most likely to be the most difficult to establish.> What could I put in to clean up the tank? (shrimps would just be food as would crabs right?) <Yup. Your hands and a gravel vac would be best. 1/2 to 1 inch of crushed coral for an easy-to-clean substrate. I do not like deep sand beds in this sort of tank. You might even want a trickle filter. Be ready to change water a lot. If you want a DSB, have it remote in a refugium. Consider larger brittlestars, but they might be nipped by the Trigger. Mine have been OK for 8 months now.> Is there anything else to watch out for? - obviously if I get a Lionfish I have to make sure the other fish are big enough not to be food - same goes for the Trigger.  I really don't want to overload the tank - so advice on fish stocking would also be very handy. <You have a list of too many fish for this tank. Definitely leave out the Gurnard, and think carefully about the Trigger and especially the Lion. The Eel would be nice & should be OK with the Trigger. A single Tang such as a Yellow or Purple would be OK. The Regal really needs more like 135G. Other fish to look at would be a larger Hawkfish or a Rabbitfish.> Thanks. PS other details: little bit of live rock to seed - lots of Ocean rock, Bio-balls, sand etc in sump - very good skimmer (probably Berlin Classic) <Not the greatest reputation actually. This is a key component in such a system. Look at Euro-Reef or AquaC. Consider adding ozone as well--read FAQs on this.> Straightforward fluorescent tubes. <NO's are fine. I light my 6-foot, 180G FOWLR with six 36" NO bulbs.> <Hope this helps.>

Hospital Tank (not what you think)  >Bob,  >>Not Bob.  >We have had a 240 gal Salt Water tank Setup (with 50 gal Sump) with 380 lbs live rock donated to our Hospital 3 weeks ago.  >>Nice.  >We have placed it in our Lobby and it has been a big hit. It came with 1-Arabian Angel, 1-Yellow tailed Damselfish, 1-Black and white Humbug, 1-Picasso Triggerfish, 1-Naso Tang, and 1-Yellow Tang. For the opening show off to the public we added 1-Ocellaris Clownfish & 1-Regal Blue Tang.  >>I hope the Regal did well with the other established tangs.  >We have contracted with a local gentleman who runs an aquarium servicing business. We are very pleased with him. He is curing the tank.  >>Of what?  >It was poorly cared for before it was donated to us. He has added "Grunge" I believe it is called. He added a week + later a Reef package consisting of 50-scarlet hermit crabs, 30-Blue leg Hermit crabs, 50-Turbo/Astraea Snails, 1-Coral Banded Shrimp, 10 emerald crabs, 3-Brittle Stars, 3-Feather Dusters, and 5 very small Peppermint Shrimp.  >>To feed the angel and trigger? Or does he plan on removing these fish before they eat these new additions?  >The Diatom Bloom is still going on and the Nitrate/Nitrite/Ammonia levels are decreasing.  >>Some "donation". The Astraea snails should help with the diatom bloom, though so will some copious water changes, frequent, for the first few weeks to months. So will some outrageous foam fractionation. And the addition of macroalgae (which those tangs would surely love, if it's the right type!)  >Our "fish guy" has told us to figure out what we want in the tank.  >>I'm not clear here, are you replacing the animals you have?  >We need to put our plan together. We have thought about putting the fish from "Finding Nemo" in, but know that is only a few more fish. What fish and invertebrates and plants would you recommend for a healing environment for the public and patients?  >>A mix of aggressive tangs wouldn't be my first suggestion, as if they go at it the results are horrific. They're not also called surgeonfish for nothing. Since I'm not clear on what you plan on doing with the present residents, I can't advise you to the best of my ability.  >Thanks, Sean Bennett  P.S. We already took out the 6' eel and very large (very nervous batfish).  >>Let me know just how far you're willing to take this thing back down, and we can go from there. It would be my opinion that schooling fish would be one of best places to start, green Chromis would be one of my first choices. However, you'd have to remove the trigger most likely, and the humbug and yellow-tail damsels almost definitely. Peaceful fishes would be your aim, but HARDY above all else. Let me know what you plan on doing with your current residents, and we can move from there. One of Bob's sidekicks, Marina

-Stocking a new 90-  Hi,  We are just starting a 90 gallon saltwater tank with 85 pounds of live rock which we have cured for a month now. Our ammonia is 0.1 <Not very toxic, but it's still there>, nitrate 5-10 <No worries>, and nitrite 0.1 <Worries, nitrite is still toxic even at a very small concentration.>. Are we ready to add fish yet. <Both Ammonia and nitrite should be undetectable for at least a week before adding anything more.> Also how important is it to have snails and how many should we put in a 90 gallon tank? <That depends on now vigorous the growth of algae is, when your water checks out fine, start off with a half a dozen or so and gradually build up until you reach some sort of an equilibrium with the algae growth. Too many people set up a new tank and pour one of those internet '100 of this and 200 of that' deals into their tanks only to have most of them starve.> We also have an anemone crab, 2 hermit crabs, and a red hermit crab. We are thinking about purchasing about 50 snails. Are they an important part of a cleaning crew. <Yep> Also how many fish should we put in our 90 gallon tank. <Unfortunately, there's no magic formula or number.> We are thinking about an Auriga butterfly, a long nose butterfly, <make sure it's eating!> b &w Heniochus, coral beauty angel, Pseudochromis, a yellow watchman goby, 2 yellow tangs <Yikes, keep tang species singly in this tank, it only works in very large systems.>, a blue hippo tang, 2 clownfish (Ocellaris), <This is a pretty big stocking list, I'd drop one or two of the butterflies or a tang.> 2 more crabs, a blue starfish, a white starfish. Is there any fish here that are not compatible or should we change our choices. <Just the 2 yellow tangs won't get along, again, I'd also suggest you slim down your population.> We plan to add them together. <Very bad news adding all of those fish at once. I would suggest that you set up a quarantine tank (search WetWeb for all the quarantine advice you could ever need) so that they may be quarantined individually for 30 days or so each. You would stock them in order from least aggressive to most aggressive (start with the gobies, and end w/ the yellow tang and the pseudo).> Is this the right way to add them and is the amount ok for a 90 gallon tank. Please reply. <I hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks, Cindy

Compatibility Hi! <Figure 8 comes in tomorrow! oh, wait...Michael here ;p>  I'm currently have a 55g tank which have 1 Naso, 2 normal clown, 1 Dotty damsel, I was thinking of adding new fish into it, what fish should I buy? <You mean after you find a new home for the Naso tang that is going to outgrow your 55? Naso's get 8"+ and need lots of swimming room> (The tank is already 6 months old and has 20lbs of LR). I was told that is very hard to mix two kind of tang and I think my tank also not big enough. <Not really large enough for any tangs> So, can it be possible to mix two kind of clown? <I wouldn't recommend it - it can be done but they will bicker constantly> My damsel is very territory and how should I add new Chromis or damsel to my tank without any fighting problem? <Move the rockwork\decorations around, feed, and turn off the lights before a new damsel introduction. This will help mix up previously established territories. However, don't add anymore fish until you find a new home for your tang>  Well, that's all for my question and hope u all have a good day! <And you as well :) M. Maddox>

New 20g tall stocking questions 4/13/04  1) I just started a twenty gallon (tall) marine aquarium-it has just cycled and my wife and I are about to go out and get our first fish- The tank has some live rock (9lb) and a couple of hermit crabs, a camelback shrimp, 3 medium sized snails, plus a chocolate chip starfish. My question; What four fish would you recommend? We want them to be very colorful and of course hardy-damsels don't do much for me. I would also like to add a couple of cleaner shrimp. I keep a 45 gallon tank of Cichlids but Saltwater is a different world.  <In a tank that size, you are limited to smaller fish that aren't active swimmers. Clownfish, blennies, gobies, firefish and cardinal fish are all decent choices. Most of the above are size/activity appropriate for your tank (or at least will have a couple of years before outgrowing it). Beware that some gobies and firefish are potential jumpers.>  2) We had a lot of algae, hence the hermit crabs and the snails-they seem to have really done a number on the live rock-which is practically white now. I am using half/half lighting, 12 hours a day. Have I hurt the live rock?  <Coralline can be killed by being overgrown with nuisance algae. Also, coralline algae requires vigorous water movement (ideally 10x the volume of the tank per hour) and proper maintenance of calcium and alkalinity.>  Have I made a mistake with the Choc. Chip star fish? ok three questions.  <That depends. Chocolate Chip stars are voracious carnivorous predators. It probably isn't a threat to any of your fish, but it will need to be fed a pea size to marble size piece of meaty food at least every few days.>  Appreciate your help. Best regards Rob  <Glad to! Best Regards. Adam>

Cardinals and Clown Goby  Guys,<Hi, Narayan!>  I have a Banggai cardinal, a pajama cardinal and a rippled coral goby in a 20L QT. After reading the WWM articles and FAQ's I was under the impression that these fish were non-aggressive feeders. Well, Let's just say the cardinals, especially the Banggai should have no trouble keeping up with tangs and grammas at feeding time. I'm concerned about the clown goby now!!!???? He seems to eat so little... After about 3 small brine shrimp, he gives up and settles down. They are fed all the brine shrimp they can eat twice a day and all the Mysis they can eat once a day.<Well they are very small fish, as long as he gets as much as he wants with out having to fight for it you should be fine. I would quit feeding the brine as it has little to no nutritional value, another great smaller food is sweet water plankton. Cody>  Narayan

Flame Angel and Lion II  Do you know of any angels that would safely work with this setup? I have a 75 G tank. Sorry to bother you about this, but I know you guys are a great source of info.  <Hmm, I can't think of any right now unless you upgraded to a larger tank in the future. Check out our site for a lots of info on different angels. Cody> Thank You

Stocking--What & When (4/12/04)  Hi all <Hi! Steve Allen tonight> - I have a 72G, 120 lbs (very) live rock. Read the FAQs a lot on the fish I'm planning to purchase, but want to be sure my selection and order is proper. Tank has been running for 2 months with no fish, some hermits and snails and two hitchhiker crabs I'm trying to get rid of. I have two ocellaris Percs in QT for three weeks. I have made prelim choices on the rest of the fish, but need some feedback on my selection, order introduction for these fish and whether it is stocked OK or overstocked. Thanks in advance for the feedback. Here are the fish and the order I thought necessary:  2 ocellaris Percs  4 to 6 Blue Green Chromis  1 Orchid Dottyback  1 Flame Angel  Possibly 1 Yellow tang  Any changes or better suggestions? All fish will be QT'd before introduction. <Smart> Thanks for the help/feedback.  Mike <Are you the one that posted a list on the forum that included larger Tangs? Anyway, I'd add the Flame Angel last, and would skip it if considering a reef. A Coral Beauty might a better choice. They cost less and seem to be a bit less aggressive and perhaps more reef safe. The Tang is a tight squeeze, and I hesitate to recommend it, but it would probably be OK. I recommend a Royal Gramma rather than the Dottyback. Just as pretty (prettier IMHO) and much less aggressive. Dotty backs can be holy terrors. As for the Chromis, I'm biased here--I think they're boring in color and thus are not the sort of fish I switched from FW to SW to own. That said, many people like them, so If you do, go ahead and put 4 in. BTW, it is not necessary to have the clown in pairs. They get along just fine without a "mate." Definitely do not get an anemone. As for alternatives to consider instead of the Chromis or the Tang, look at Fairy Wrasses & Flasher Wrasses. You could easily accommodate a Fairy or a trio of the smaller Flashes if you leave out the others. Plan carefully, avoid impulse buys & follow-through on the QT--these are keys to success.>

200 Gallon aquarium  Hi there. I have just upgraded my 125 gallon tank to a 200 gallon. Now I am almost ready for fish and I would like some advice on fish. I would like to put a blue spotted sting ray, any type of shark that would best fit my tank, and a large enough, non-eatable lionfish (preferably a radiata lionfish but if not any other would be fine as well). Thank you. <I would not go with the lion in this setup...also I would not go with a blue spot sting ray. The rays rarely live in captivity and need a much larger aquarium...preferably oval or circular not rectangular. The only shark that I can actually recommend are bamboo cat sharks, I would do more research before you purchase anything. Also purchase Scott Michaels book on Sharks and Rays, Good luck, IanB>

Stock List for Neurotics  >Hi!  >>Greetings.  >I am new to this salt water "hobby" and so far it feels like way more of  a job than a hobby.  >>Well, I suppose that everything is relative, and how one perceives the necessary work is one of those things, eh?  >I have had a 120 gallon tank sitting in my living room since Jan., I have been reading and researching, so I've been gathering things slowly. I have had the water in the tank for a month, the filters, powerheads, skimmer all going well, my water checks out fine. A small spike but nothing extraordinary.  >>An ammonia spike with nothing but water and filtration going????? Something is missing here, like *how* there got to be an ammonia spike. There needs to be something in there to cause such a spike.  >I have 52 pounds of live rock in my tank.  >>Aha! So, I would wager that within a certain period of placing the rock in the tank you experienced the spike, which means that you actually did a bit of a cure in there, too.  >This past week brought on the lovely brown algae, a clean up crew of a couple turbo grazers, Astrea (sp) snails, and some hermit crabs have done their mission and cleaned most of it off. Now for my newest in a long line of questions: I noticed a rock getting a large number of grape algae things on it and wanted to remove them before they took over, I had to lift one rock out to remove them all and when I took out the rock it almost knocked me to the ground.  >>Uh oh.. I REALLY hope it's not Valonia. If not, it may be grape Caulerpa, and while not as bad to deal with as Valonia, can be quite persistent (though more edible to more creatures).  >It smells heinous!  >>LOL! Worse than unwashed ass I'd bet! You, my friend, hit an anoxic region. Have to be quite careful with that sort of thing you know, as you could release hydrogen sulfide (and other really neat chemicals) and inadvertently kill your animals. Do keep sufficient water for 100% change on hand at all times for occasions such as this (yes, it needs to be kept circulating and heated - an emergency is an emergency).  >I have searched the site but don't find the answer to my question, is the rock  bad? Should I throw it out? I just purchased it 2 weeks ago and didn't notice  the odor then.  >>Clearly it's still in the curing stage, I believe you've rushed through a couple of steps here. Remove it to its own trash can (honestly, I would check ALL the live rock at this point) with good circulation, after scrubbing and rinsing with saltwater, to finish its curing process OUT of your display. Oh, btw, welcome to the world of live rock curing.  >Because I'm anal I took out all the rock (just lifted it above the water), piece at a time and this is the only one that stinks!  >>Well, if you're positive of the rest of it, then just work that one piece.  >While I'm hassling you I may as well ask all my questions in one fell  swoop.  >>Or is it one swell foop?  >When is the appropriate time to set up the QT? Do I wait until I'm sure my water is cycled and then use the water from that tank or how do you cycle the water in a QT?  >>You cycle in the display and the q/t the same way: fishless. That means you use a bit of food (lots of folks like the raw shrimp bit, works FAST) dropped in, allowed to rot, testing for ammonia, nitrite spikes. When the nitrate begins to come up you know that you're culturing both species of nitrifying bacteria necessary for biological filtration. Neat thing about live rock is that it's already GOT lots of these bacteria in situ. Problem IS that you've got to feed them, as they are like lemmings and will only reproduce proportionately to available food (ammonia/nitrite). So, a sponge filter in the q/t with its OWN water, cycled thusly is the best way. Be sure to provide hidey holes with PVC pieces (including elbows). So, to answer your question, allow about a month before you expect to purchase your first fish. I do hope it's sufficiently large (I think 30-40 gallons is a nice size for this).  >And lastly, for the fun stuff.  >>What, the butt-stink live rock wasn't fun enough?  >While I've been cycling this last month I've come up with a "wish list" of sorts.  >>I'm not so sure that you haven't actually been curing more than cycling. Add a bit of food and see if it spikes on you. If so, you're still in the cycle process. If not, then you're pretty much through it.  >Would the following fish be too many in my 120 gallon tank, I'm worried about size and them having room to really enjoy life. I want a fish only tank. My first fish and if it would be too annoying for the others I would just let this fish be my one and only, I have read that they are pacers and always moving. Here goes:  Thalassoma Wrasse (true Christmas wrasse, if I can find one!)  >>Know that it will make very short work of that little cleanup crew you have. Expect any larger wrasse species to do so. Also, know that many wrasses of the genus Thalassoma tend to be.. (trying to think of a nice word here).. um.. nasty, and have been known to harass other fishes to death if they can't stand up to them. Not all, but some. I prefer wrasses like Coris gaimard, many of the gorgeous Halichoeres species, but none of these will ignore your shrimps, snails and crabs, either. So, yes, it could end up being the fish that really bothers the others, but the problem is that your best method of introduction is to make this one among the last in.  >bicolor angel  >>I cannot, in good conscience, advocate this species of Centropyge for a beginner. Consider instead the C. loricula, C. argi, C. acanthops or C. fisheri.  unicorn tang  >>WAY TOO MUCH FISH for this size tank. Go for another tang, much smaller Zebrasoma species, something like that (what you want to do is consider FIRST final adult size here). This animal can easily attain sizes similar to something like the Queen angel, and will be more difficult for someone new to the hobby. That unicorn tang will reach well over 2' in length, whereas your run-of-the-mill Z. flavescens will top out at 6". BIG difference there!  >and possibly another angel. The LFS told me an Emperor would go well with these aggressive fish or a Queen. I wholeheartedly disagree with the Queen as I feel my tank it too small for it, even were it to be the only fish in the tank, but the Emperor is a possibility.  >>It should be LESS a possibility than the Queen, for it will easily grow much larger. On par with the Queen, and perfectly suited to your size system is the Blue Lined angel - both reach about the same adult size. Do use http://www.fishbase.org to search adult size for all fishes. If you're really going for aggressive, nix the idea of a Centropyge altogether, maybe excepting the C. argi.  >The LFS told me I could add a few more, and I checked at 3 different places all with the same thought that I could add more. But I think I'd be happy with 4 fish and my little clean up crew.  >>Don't expect your cleanup crew to survive any but the smallest wrasses. Also, with the activity levels of the animals you've outlined, I would only add very small fishes to this mix, Pseudochromis sp., grammas, and similar.  >Thanks for all your wonderful advice! I have enjoyed reading your site immensely over the last few months. I read it every day. However, I think  I may have scared myself and be a hypochondriac looking for signs of illness on  my poor fishies! I have had freshwater tanks for years and have kept the  fish happy until ripe old ages so hopefully that will hold true for salt water!  Neurotic newbie!  >>Yes indeed! You're doing research beforehand, instead of just buying what you like, and this is THE most important thing about keeping salt you can ever do. Marina

Simon's Lighter a Few Quid - Dactylopteridae Follow-up  >Thank you Marina,  >>Most welcome, Simon.  >You really have done your homework here! and yup, it is the 6x2x2.  >>Ah, mate, there's this machine, the COMPUTER! It's amazing I tell you! Just amazing!  >Dead right about being a few quid (English eh?) slimmer if I were to give up  this fascinating hobby, recon I'd own my own Lear jet by now!!........but no way I'm afraid.....sooner have the tank.  >>Myself not English, but I have several friends on your little island who've wised me to what "proper" English is. They also delight in calling me "Yank", which grates on this Southern-born woman to everyone's delight.  >As far as who are the ringleaders in my own lil WW3, I would say you're pretty much right with the tang being the worst offender but the wrasse is very placid.  >>Alright, then, easier to move on.  >Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but have been searching to find out which wrasse this is exactly.  >>NO worries there, we've been swamped here!  >I can now safely say that I have a "Halichoeres chloropterus" or pastel green wrasse/green Coris, which is 3" in length, from, I understand now, the Indian Ocean. Just goes to show, this was sold to me as a lime green wrasse.  >>Common nomenclature will bugger you every time.  >You forced me to do my homework there! (should have done it b4 I got the fish, I know)  >>Sometimes it hurts the brain, but in the end no pain no gain.  >I am trying to find out more about the Oriental Flying Gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis). You gave me a fright the other day when you mentioned they may grow to 36" in length!!  >>Ah, that's quite specifically the Dactylopterus volitans. If you haven't discovered it yet, know the beauty that is http://www.fishbase.org  It's an incredible database, and wonderful to have available to hobbyists.  >I had already asked the LFS to save me a couple. Mind you even if they grow to 35cm that is still one big fish.  >>Ah, yes, it is, but much more likely to do well in your tank at half the size of the D. volitans.  >I love the idea of neon gobies. Is it possible to keep three or four in one tank?  >>In that size tank? Jebus, you could keep a whole colony! You've almost got 200 gallons US in there, you could get away with a dozen of these little peeps in there. You see, not only do they stay small (2" or so), but they're quite slim-bodied, and don't swim about much, staying around the rockwork mostly. They can also act as cleaners on occasion, yet are very well kept with commercial feeds. I love them, myself. They come in blue and yellow varieties.  >The Rabbitfishes I'm not so keen on. The butterfly, oh yes, although maybe not the H acuminatus. Maybe a saddleback?  >>Sure, or a raccoon, or even a Copperband (acclimate well, and quarantine for sure).  >The green Chromis. How could I be so daft to forget them!  >>It's only because they're so OBVIOUS.  >The Apogon?.......Never kept those before but I do like them...Will give them a go for sure.  >>Most are pretty easy to keep, though many are a bit shy at first. But overall a first rate family of fishes in my opinion.  >The Anthias.....Wreckfish.......I love these but have read that they are very difficult to keep in the long term?  >>Biggest issues with these fish are space (territory, must be horizontal), and feeding (planktonic feeders), you see. Keep your water quality well enough for corals, many delicate inverts, and butterflies, and you've got it for many commonly kept Anthias.  >I Know of no-one with experience of these fish.  >>Try some of the reefing forums, http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk - http://www.reefs.org - http://www.reefcentral.com (this one's a very large community, can be easy to get lost/overwhelmed).  >Have thought of screening the top but I need all the light I can get because of the BTA.  >>Understood. Do consider instead something more like a corral then (fence 'round the sides).  >I honestly thank you Marina for taking your time to help guide me through this minefield. I just don't want to fall into the trap I and many other aquarists have fallen into buy not thinking about this all first. It was a rather "open" question I admit and an admirable answer. If you're half as good at writing novels as you are answering questions on marines, then I look forward to your Number One bestseller!!  >>Oh please! No, I don't actually write novels, it's that the folks around here have dubbed me "the Novelist" for my ability to go on, and on, and on.. (once I learnt to touch-type, you see, 'twas all over). However, you are most sincerely welcome. Your words give real tangibility to the true purpose of the entire WetWeb mantra, and your success is ours.  >PS. I took the ozonizer off the Turboflotor skimmer two days ago and nothing has changed. Maybe there could be a fault with the needle wheel or something? I took the pump apart yesterday but all seemed ok. When I plug it in it gives a brief flurry of bubbles then seems to stop......Coincidence maybe (with putting the ozone on?) Ah well, sods law we call here!  >>I'd definitely call the manufacturer for this one (hopefully they're as helpful as the folks at Euro-Reef, which is made not far from my home). Or, if you're really having trouble, email us again about it and we'll get it to Scott or another member here who's familiar with this make.  >Thank you again for parting with your time and knowledge. With much thanks, Simon.

Feelin' Fiji Hello Crew! I'm building a Fiji reef biotope display. I've had a couple exchanges with Anthony in the past concerning biotopes and I think I've about finished with my fish stocking list which I'd like to run by for comment. First a bit of info about the display: The tank is 96" x 30" x 30" with a 6" sand bed. Since the display is viewed from two sides, the rockwork runs down the centerline and consists of two large arches (to within 6" of the water's surface) with smaller arches and caves intermingled. Just off-center the two larger arches form a brightly lit crevasse which will eventually be home to Tridacna clams. Corals are being  limited to SPS species with two or three LPS (Fungiid) specimens. The system is supported by a 55g refugium with 6" sand bed, 15 lbs. rock rubble, and Chaetomorpha algae. The sump also contains 3 sq. ft. of course filter pads and approx 10lbs. of rock rubble for additional "pod" production. Now to the fish list.  Rabbitfish Siganus (Lo) uspi - 1 ea.  Anthias Pseudanthias bicolor - 7 ea.  Wrasse Paracheilinus carpenteri - 5 ea.  Wetmorella albofasciata - 1 ea.  Dartfish Ptereleotris heteropterus - 2 ea.  Cardinalfish Sphaeramia nematoptera - 5 ea.  Dragonet Synchiropus ocellatus - 3 ea.  I've attempted to keep the list confined to Fiji natives, or at least close visitors, and based on aquarium hardiness, availability, and compatibility. I hope I have it worked out but please let me know if you see any issues with compatibility. I also think I've kept the numbers on the conservative side for the size of the display but would rather err on the side of caution, If you think these numbers could be increased please comment.  <I'd adopt a wait and see approach... slower is much better when stocking fish for so many reasons. Not the least of which is to allow the living substrates to build without predation. In fact, running the tank for 4-6 months minimum without any fish will make this display infinitely better (and look very different!). If you have patience, you will be rewarded>  Also, any opinions on additional species you feel would be suitable are welcome. Thanks, Eric.  <glad to hear of your research in advance... wishing you the best, Anthony>

Aquacon.com Opinion 4/6/04  I would like to get your opinion of livestock sold by Aquacon.com. Are you familiar with this company?  <I have never personally used them>  I have never ordered from them but I have always been tempted by their range of fish and corals. I have noticed they  list nearly all corals as "Great Beginner Coral - Very Hardy" when this is not the case.  <interesting, yes>  It does seem that they are really trying to push sales rather than be concerned about the success of their customers but I am specifically interested in the quality of their livestock.  <best to consult large message boards and forums for public consensus. Reefcentral.com has a vendors experiences forum dedicated for just this sort of inquiry>  If I do my own research to ensure I am only buying appropriate corals or fish, should I be concerned about the health or relative appearance of anything purchased from Aquacon.com?  <yes... from any mail order source. Frankly, I recommend avoiding the purchase of animals sight-unseen whenever possible. Trust me, its worth the extra money to buy on sight at your LFS. Many reasons for this>  Any personal or word of mouth feedback would be appreciated.  Thank you! Greg  <best of luck, Anthony>

Welcome to the hobby! Change ups in System  >After your advice  >>Note: Kevin first answered this query. You've got Marina today.  >I decided to nix the Emperor power filter and use that money to buy a better protein skimmer ( the Remora Pro), and add maybe 45lbs of live rock to cycle.  >>Sounds like a plan. Although, I want you to know that there's a difference between cycling and curing. The live rock will have to be cured, depending on the amount of life held within it may go very quickly, or may take a few weeks. I, personally, prefer to start with completely "raw" or uncured live rock, the closer to point of origin the better. Why? Because, the amount of life kept is incredible! It's a stinky process, with LOTS of water changes, LOTS of protein skimming (because what you *don't* want is to allow the ammonia/nitrogenous peaks associated with cycling), but it's well worth the effort. Cycling is the process of establishing and culturing nitrifying bacteria. When going with live rock you can count on having starter colonies of nitrifiers, what you don't want to do is kill them, and what you *do* want to do prior to adding fish/bioload is culture larger colonies. This is best done post cure fishless (with a bit of raw shrimp), testing for peaks in ammonia, then nitrite, and when those get to zero levels you know you're cycled.  >Also I have decided to go with the live sand at about five inches deep, and change up my fish list:  3 Blue Chromis (Chromis cyaneus )  A pair of percula clownfish (Amphiprion percula) instead of the tomatoes  (Amphiprion frenatus) they are smaller and less aggressive right?  >>Yes, MUCH less aggressive.  >and a Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto)  and a Cherub Angel (Centropyge argi)  >>I like the C. argi, but note - they're among the more pugnacious characters of the genus. Establish this fish after the clowns and Gramma.  >Thanks again for all your help!!!  >>I think Kevin would say, "You're welcome, and glad I could help." I say, "This sure was easy!" Marina  -Nick

Evolving tank.  >Thanks for good advice (yet again) Not sure where I'd be if it weren't for you lot!  >>Eh, a few quid slimmer is my wager, yeah?  >What I thought would be an easy job turning a FO into FOWLR+BTA, but is not as easy as I thought, especially when it comes to thinking ahead about livestock.  >>This much is true, though there is certainly the odd bloke who just throws it all together and damned if it doesn't just work.  >Basically I have a 200g display (bottom drilled) with 40g wet/dry sump FO set-up.  >>The 6x2x2 system, yeah?  >I am moving house in two months and will increase the sump size to a 60g and also will add a gravity fed DSB of 40g (i.e.. from display to DSB to sump). The bioballs will go and be replaced with live rock.  >>Sounds like you're planning to essentially convert to a refugium, which I think is the best way to go.  >From a stocking viewpoint bearing in mind I will have a BTA in the tank, can you give me in rough terms some idea of inverts and fish I can add to this system?  >>I'll do my best.  >At present I have  Yellow tang  African fireball angel  2x Percs + BTA  Gramma loreto  Lime green wrasse 3"  2x cleaner shrimps  >>The wrasse description's a bit vague, it would be helpful if you could nail down genus and/or exact species. For instance, I can find one Cirrhilabrus (fairy wrasse, least aggressive), one Halichoeres (middling), and three Thalassoma (generally most aggressive) species that could all be called "lime green wrasse". Although, my guess is that it's unlikely you have Thalassoma, as they'd find those shrimpies a nice snack.  >I realize this may seem a rather vague question but I am determined not to  make any silly mistakes regarding stocking this tank. In the past it has been sod's law that whenever I added a fish to my tank I had world war 3 break out! I've had more flying fish than I've had hot dinners. Had rocket gobies, flying hawkfish, etc, most have been caught (almost literally) and returned to water. I got very tired of adding a fish then spending hours breaking down the tank to get the thing out again. So any advice on stocking would be very much appreciated indeed. Not specifically but generally what types of animals would be suitable?  >>I'm going to be guessing here, but I'm supposing that the tang, angel, and wrasse may be your worst offenders. If not, I'll need correction, as much depends on who's creating the most havoc in there. With that in mind, I can suggest neon gobies (very small, staying situated about the rock), Rabbitfishes (those spines mean they'll take little guff from the angel or tang), possibly a butterfly (hardier species, but hesitate to recommend either longnose species as they're quite visually similar to the tang), maybe a Heniochus would be better. Also, the tried (but true!) green Chromis, in a small group, would add movement, color, and be fairly peaceable - usually accepted by the group you have on hand. Going through my atlas, it appears that if you could find yourself the Oriental Flying Gurnard (Dactyloptena orientalis) it would be suitable, and only reaches 35cm as opposed to the D. volitans' 90cm (appears to be a prettier fish, too). Anthias, one male with two females, might work, but water quality is quite important for these fish. Choose wisely. Then we have one of my favorites, the Genus Apogon (cardinal fishes). I love Banggai cardinals, but they can become aggressive towards each other in groups, though your tank might just be large enough for a suitably large group. Striking fish, though, and should get along with the others, too. I'm on my way to writing a novel, so I think I'll wait and hear back as to the wrasse species (fairy and/or sixline wrasses would be another group to consider). If you have many fish going carpet surfing, do check out methods of control, such as screening or egg crate (light diffusing grid).  >One more question I would like to fire at you good folk. I have 2 skimmers  in the sump. 1 x TF1000 and 1 x Berlin classic. I have just added a Sander Certizon ozonizer 200 to the Tf1000. Since adding the Ozonizer three weeks ago the TF produced about one inch of milky coloured liquid after the first day, then nothing at all since then. (in fact the main chamber looks to be less 'bubbly' than normal) The Berlin strangely enough, has started to produce a little more than usual. This sounds to me like there may be ozone getting into the sump water but I have carbon on the TF outflow and above the collector cup.  >Any ideas or should I just leave alone?  >>Hmm.. this is tough, because the ozonizer is oxidizing DOC's and whatnot in there, but that doesn't render them "unskimmable" to the best of my knowledge. I'm thinking that the oxidation process may be changing on a molecular basis what the skimmer can pull, and so much of how well they work is a matter of design. I'm completely unfamiliar with the TF1000, and at best would suggest contacting that manufacturer, as well as the ozonizer manufacturer for advice on their particular products. Odd that the Berlin would be producing better skimmate now, but also goes to show that it's very much a matter of design. There may be another crewmember who knows more about this than I who would like to chime in.  >With much gratitude. Simon.  >>You're quite welcome. Marina

Overstocked! (4/6/2004)  Dear Michael  This is too many fish for a 2 hundred and ten gallon? <Way too many, and too many angels of similar looks. Please read out FAQs regarding stocking, as well as our angelfish info and FAQs> Did you say only feed every other day? <Temporarily, to reduce the bioload and help curb your ammonia spike> Please what is going on with the Navarchus "sunken areas around the face"? <Possibly due to stress from the ammonia\nitrite levels, being in an overcrowded aquarium, or from being abused by tank mates, especially other angels>  Thanks Kirt  <Please look into finding new homes or a larger aquarium quickly! M. Maddox

Stocking a New tank (3/31/04) Hi Guys,  <Steve Allen tonight.> Amazing site! I spend hours on here. <me too> I have some stocking questions for you. I have a 90 gal tank right now, pre drilled with 40 gal sump. I am going to have 70-90lbs of LR. Going to be pumped back with a Mag 9.5 and skimmed by a Aqua C skimmer. Also considering a 40w UV sterilizer. <Most folks would advise you to save your money.> There's no water in it yet...its hard to keep it that way but pre planning saves lives. <Patience is richly rewarded with success. You can't go back and fix things very easily.> It will be a pure predator tank. <So we like the meanies, eh? How was your childhood? JK! I have predators too, though I do not feed live food, for reasons well-covered on WWM>   Here is my wish list: 1 Picasso Trigger (already have about 1.5-2")                       1 Volitans Lion 1 Porcupine puffer 1 Niger Trigger 1 Valentini Puffer Want a clown trigger but I'm afraid he's too big for the tank so I'm leaning towards not getting one. <Yes, skip it--too mean too.> I was wondering if you could shed some light on which fish will kill everyone else. He Will it be over crowded (I'm sure you'll say yes). <Then why ask? As far as compatibility issues which would you eliminate? Keep in mind I already have the Picasso and I have to have the Volitans. <Why?> Thanks for your help, Kris <Well Kris, there is no doubt your tank is too small for this list. Ho about you go get a 300G tank and use this 90 as a sump?. Wouldn't it be nice? As for using the 90 as your display, you cannot keep 2 triggers in a tank of this size. I love my Picasso Trigger. A great fish. Even 90 could be a bit tight down the road though--the fish will exceed 10" in length someday. It should be OK with the Lion. However, all Triggers tend to get meaner with age, That said, Picassos are less aggressive than most. You might want to consider a smaller variety than the Volitans. Puffers get quite large and few would fit here. One small one might be OK. Have you considered a Hawkfish? These are actually quite interesting predators. You might also consider a Snowflake Eel instead of he puffer. They're attractive, hardy, and interesting.> Stocking Density (4/1/04) Hi Guys, Thanks a lot for getting back to me so quickly on my previous 'death of a clownfish' question I asked a while ago, I think the problem was that my tank hadn't cycled properly, but it's stable now and all the water parameters have leveled off. <Good. Sorry this reply is slow. Your query just turned up in the inbox yesterday.> I have another question about the stocking density of my tank and the compatibility of the fish in it, I have done a lot of research on it and have found several different views so I'm still a little confused.  I have a 30 gallon <Imperial?> fish and invert tank with plenty of rock work in it (but not live, just covered in algae right now), I'm running an in tank jewel filter at 600 l/h, the temp is around 79 - 80F and salinity around 1.022, the light is on for about 8 hours a day and a SeaClone skimmer is running 24/7 (which unfortunately is still spilling thousands of tiny bubbles into the tank....not sure what to do about that!). <Get a better skimmer? This one has a very bad reputation. Search with Google an you should be able to find instructions for a DIY modification that may help.> The tank's inhabitants are currently 2 small false percula clowns, 1 (inch and a half long) royal dotty back <This meanie limits your choices>, 2 cleaner shrimp, and 5 small red hermit crabs.  I wanted to know if I could get 2 firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) <The Dottyback will likely kill them outright or bully them to the point that they will hide and starve.> and 1 pajama/six -line wrasse in there, without the royal Dottyback bothering them, as I know they can be very territorial and sometimes aggressive <not just sometimes> (although it doesn't seem to bother my clownfish). <But timid firefish of a similar body shape are very vulnerable. A clown will stick up for itself, although Pseudochromis have been know to eviscerate fish quite a bit bigger than themselves.>  If I do buy these 3 extra fish (with a good few weeks gap in between of course) will I be approaching the tanks livestock limit? <Yes.> from what I've read I'm not entirely sure, and if not how many more fish in your opinion will I be able to get comfortably in there?. <1-3 small ones> I was also thinking about getting a blue starfish, are these hard to care for? <More than 90% die within a few weeks. In fact they're already dying in the store. Read more on WWM. Look to Genus Fromia instead.> and will a 30g tank be large enough to house it? <No, they get to big and eat too much if they survive Fromia is much better for you.> Sorry that the questions are probably a bit trivial but I am still a beginner. <No problem. Better to ask than make a bad choice.> Thanks for any help/advice you can offer. <The sixline ought to be OK. Consider Flasher Wrasses. I'd recommend Gobies, but the Pseudochromis will harass/kill them too. I'd recommend an small Hawkfish, but it might take out your cleaners.> Cheers, <To you as well.> Mark (Essex, UK) <For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I." We post all queries and replies on our site permanently an want them as readable as possible. Our volunteer crew will have a lot more time to answer queries if they don't have to proofread them. Thanks.>

Stocking Questions (3/31/04)   Hi, <Greetings. Steve Allen tonight>   I love the site-it's a valuable resource, thanks for all the hard work and attention. <Our pleasure> I have a 5 week old 90 gallon tank that's recently finished cycling. I've had 2 3-stripe damsels <Do you really want to keep these potentially very aggressive fish?> and a black-and gold Chromis for almost a week and would like to add the following fish: 1 Yellow Tang, 1 dog-faced puffer, 1 bird wrasse (will he get too big for my tank? <Yes. More below.>), 2 clownfish and some cleaner shrimp (do they need special lighting? <No>) and a couple of neon gobies.    Could you suggest a stocking order/timing? I'm not sure which fish to introduce first/last. I would also like a cleaner fish/invert of some sort, but I know the puffer will make a meal out of any shrimp I put in, or will be irritated by the constant pecking of the neon goby. <And possibly eat it as well.> Are there any compatible cleaners (of fish parasites and of to clean substrate food remnants) that will be compatible with the puffer? <Anything is at risk.> Regards, -Angela <Here's my take on the issue. The Bird Wrasse is a wonderful fish, but it gets rather large (10+ inches) and is very, very active, much to the annoyance of tankmates. I think it would be a big problem in a tank of your size. I sold mine out of 180 because he was too annoying to my Rabbitfish and was in the habit of knocking my starfish off of the glass and stealing the food right out of it's mouth. He'd steal food from my Picasso Trigger as well. A for the puffer, it will also get quite large, and no crustacean will be safe with it. The Tang should be fine, but would add near last. Have you looked at dwarf angels such as Flame or Coral Beauty. How about a harem of Fairy or Flasher Wrasses instead of the puffer. I'd suggest you think a little more about what you really want. Check out Scott Michael's "Marine Fishes" handbook for ideas. Hope this helps.>

Custom Advice from the Author Himself Mr. Robert  A couple of months ago I bought your wonderful book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist....".  Now I plan to buy my final fish:  <Good to find that you've taken your time>  Flame Angel Fish , (would it eat corals, sponges????)  Hepatus (Blue Tang) , (is it to big, can fight my Yellow Tang, eats well  ???)  <May nibble some corals, sponges... not a big problem if the tank is large, there is plenty of life in it>  since, I would like you to help me, since there are just 2 dozen marine aquarists in my country; not enough data. I read some in the web, but I can not make up my mind yet.  <Wow! What country are you in?>  I have a 6 months old 50 gal tank with wet/dry, next month I add a P Skimmer, chemistry is fine. It is stocked with:  2 clowns (ocellaris) 3 inches ea.  1 Yellow Tang 4 inches ea.  1 Gramma Loreto  2 Gobies  Some snails  2 tubes  1 actinic  2 bulbs 3,500 K  <Do look into upgrading the Kelvin rating on those lamps... Should be a good 5,500 K>  Thanks a lot, Richard  <A pleasure to meet you, share. Bob Fenner>

Marine Fish Selection Bob, I appreciate you answer, but I still have the doubt.  Which fish should I buy: Hepatus or Flame Angel? <A tough choice... as your system is a bit small for either. Given the chance to take one I'd choose the Pacific Yellow Tail Blue Tang. It will eventually grow to be too large, but is a better suited candidate for this size, shape system and cohabitants.> I forgot to tell you most important: I keep 45 pounds of live rock and I plan to add some sponges and soft corals soon. <I surmised this> My country Chile, is located in the south end of Latin America; a long and narrow pacific seaside land; but very cold. Border with Los Andes Mountain/ with Argentina. <Yes, I have visited there, and my wife was just there about two weeks back and tangoing in Buenos Aires> The few stock we get is from the Atlantic, Brazil.  Now we have two new dealers in this trade, who will bring stock from Miami. Five years ago there was only one store.  The hobby is catching up.  I believe due to the web and better economic situation. <Outstanding. Glad to hear of improving conditions for the Chileans> Thanks a lot, Richard <You are welcome. Bob Fenner>

Like the Man Said, "If Wishes Were Fishes.."  >Hi Everyone,  >>Hello one.  >I have a few questions for you.  >>Hotay.  >I have a 135 reef that has been running for about a year and a half now. It has about 150 pounds of live rock and I am running a AquaC EV180. My inhabitants are as follows: Flame Hawk, Fire Goby, Mandarin that eats Mysis, Fairy Wrasse, Four inch Kole Tang & a 3 inch Powder Blue (currently in a QT, will be ready to move to display in two weeks). Would a Pseudochromis fridmani work in this tank?  >>Sure.  >How about some Anthias?  >>I'd be more careful, they really like their real estate.  >If so, which is the hardiest?  >>Tough for me to say, there are several species readily available that folks have good luck with (other than territorial issues).  >How about a dwarf angel?  >>That would work well, too.  >Which angel would do best in a reef?  >>Matter of opinion, there. If you have LPS, expect any angel to give them a try. Bellus (genus Genicanthus), C. argi, Coral Beauty, and Flames are favorites of many people, while others have had bad luck, most notably with LPS corals such as open brains.  >Any other ideas?  >>Yep.  >I have come to the conclusion that I do not want any damsels. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.  >>Mm.. well, I love gobies and blennies. A boatload of neon gobies would act as cleaners, and while not flashy and large, tend to help fill out the little spots well. So do clown gobies. They are relatively undemanding both in terms of territory and bioload, as well as being rather hardy. Certain other gobies will require that you make sure jumpers are guided back into the tank, but animals like scissortails/blackfin Dartfishes (Ptereleotris evides), placed in small groups, are a lovely addition as well. I suggest finding a shop or ordering a copy of a marine fish atlas (such as Burgess's) if you're really having trouble, they're well worth the money (which isn't much, really, for the mini edition - around $25-$30 if I recollect). They're invaluable at times like these. Marina

Getting To The Fun Stuff (Stocking A New Tank) Well I finally did it. Jumped in so to speak. Purchased a 37 gal. tank. Aqua Clear 300 power filter with a surface skimmer attachment (should I remove the sponge?), 2 Aqua Clear 301 powerheads, 200W heater, 35lbs of live rock and 60lbs (20 live) sand for a DSB (4'). Waiting for the Aqua C hang on Protein Skimmer. PC lighting 4 x65w with moon light.  Now the questions..... Although the rock had a strong smell in transit, once in the tank it no longer smelled. The rock looks great. The water has been clear from day #2. Today is day # 15. I have been testing my water every other day with Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit (drops). What are your thoughts on the cycle so far? Temp is maintained at 79 degrees. Spec. Gravity at 1.0235 3/12  Ammon.-1.0,  PH - 8,   Nitrite -2,    Nitrate -10-20 3/14      A-  .5,  PH -7.9,  Nitrite -2,    Nitrate -10-20 3/16      A-   0,  PH -8.1,  Nitrite -2,    Nitrate -10-20 3/18      A- .25,  PH -8.2,  Nitrite -5,    Nitrate -20-40 (peak ?) 3/20      A-   0,  PH - 8,   Nitrite -.25   Nitrate -5 3/22      A-   0,  PH - 8,   Nitrite -<.25  Nitrate -10 3/24      A-   0,  PH -7.9   Nitrite -0,    Nitrate -10 I would ask if you believe it may have cycled already but I don't wish to infer that I'm rushing things. I have every intention on waiting at least 4-6 weeks before considering livestock additions. Longer if necessary - someone suggested waiting 8 weeks - uuuhhhgggg... <Well, it sounds like things are on the right track. I'd keep testing for a while to confirm that the tank has, indeed, cycled. The admonition to maintain an "addition free" tank for 8 weeks is not a bad one. This long interval can really help things stabilize, and allow the beneficial infauna to multiply within the tank> Because my PH has fluctuated, I also tested the water the last few times with Aquarium Pharmaceutical Tabs,  but have routinely gotten higher readings (8 - 8.4) with them. <I'd try another dry reagent test, such as the Sea Test line, which are quite accurate and easy to use> My Live fish store guy advised me to not skim during the cycle. I'm not sure if it was because he could not deliver the Aqua C (still waiting..) or because it was appropriate advice. I've read conflicting info since. <Really a matter of personal preference...I like to run the skimmer from day one, myself> I was also told that I should not turn on the lights during the cycle, and again I've read conflicting advice. I must admit that on a few occasions I've turned on the actinics for a few hours though. <I'm partial to lighting during the cycle, myself...> I'm looking to set up a QT tank currently and reviewing livestock as candidates. Graham suggested a sump but unfortunately space is an issue as my cabinet presents limitations. The best I can do is a 7 gallon waste basket. I'm not sure if it would be worthwhile though. <Well, it may very well be beneficial...Sumps are great for flexibility and efficiency> Since I haven't received the skimmer I could always change the order to a Aqua C Urchin sump model if it was deemed worthwhile. <Both are great skimmers. If you opt for a sump, I'd get the Urchin, myself> At what point would you suggest adding some hermit crabs and snails. How many each? I haven't noted a great deal of algae at this time (no light???). <I'm thinking like one or two per gallon. Herbivores should be added as soon as the system cycles, as they constitute a "first line of defense" against nuisance algae blooms in a new tank...> Lastly, I've narrowed down the livestock to: A - 2 True Perc, 1 Fridman's Dottyback, possibly a Assessor Basslet (bioload issue?) <No, but a possible conflict between the more assertive Fridmani and the shy Assessor> B-  1 or 2 Black and White Perc., 1 Flame Hawkfish, 1 Fridman's Dottyback <If you get the Hawk, say goodbye to your hermit crab population, especially in this sized tank!> C-  1 Gold Striped Maroon Clownfish, Assessor Basslet possibly a Fridmani Dottyback <I like scenario A better> Any suggestions? Order of introduction? <Your first plan seems to be the most interesting and promising, IMO. I'd make sure, however, that you have suitable hiding spaces and territory for the Dottyback and the Assessor.> Well, thank you for your time. I have spent many a night on the web enjoying your site. I may have to back off a little, though, because if I mention the word fish tank these days the Mrs. has those little veins on her temples throbbing... <Yep! Common spousal reaction...Gifts and nights out  usually can alleviate that problem!> Having a blast. Learning patience. Bob probably would be surprised how far I've come from my original e-mail (spaz....)         Anxiously awaiting your feedback. Thanks Again,                    Ortho Bill <Well, Bill- Sounds like you're on the right track! And we all spaz out now and again! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

125 salt fish only compatibility issue 3/28/04 [respect for life - conscientious aquarium keeping] Oops, previous message sent without completion...a list of fish to keep with lions would be great so I can start finding or ordering juveniles. By this, I mean fish that are commonly ok with lions as I do not wish to have either fish injured. I would like to raise as many of the fish as possible from smaller stages.  Any help you can provide would be great. Thanks, Mike <its hard for me to say/begin with where you are clearly going astray here my friend... but your ambition is clearly doomed to fail if you do not change course. From our vast collective experience, your brief message has the earmarks of an uninformed and dangerously ambitious aquarist that will kill a lot of fishes in the very near future. For starters... you say "lions" (plural) for this 125 gallon tank. Pterois volitans easily get over 12" each and a mere pair will be uncomfortable in just a couple years in this tank that is not much wider than they will be long. Further more... you frightful request for a list of "as many [juvenile] fish as possible" to mix in with them is a big - Yikes! There is not enough room for two lions in the 2-3 year picture here let alone adding more. Your fish will stunt and die prematurely most likely if the tank simply does not crash first. The best you can hope for (with massive weekly water changes and impressive filtration hardware) is a crowded tank of fishes that survive (not thrive) in an un-conscientious if not unethical display of disregard for living creatures. I mean to be brusque here with you as a wake up and with hope you will embrace what it means to be a conscientious aquarists... leading to a successful enjoyment of your hobby with healthy display animals. Do read some better books on the hobby before you buy any (more) live creatures. Anthony>

My first marine fishes 3/28/04 Dear Reefers, <cheers> With your help I now have a 100 gal skimmerless system with LR and sugar fine DSB, plus laminar flow macroalgae refugium (I call it an Ecosump) also with fine sand bed. The system has been running for 6 months, with some basic mushroom corals, Xenia and Caulastrea. I feed 1 gram of finely chopped krill alternating with scallop, and 150ml live phytoplankton daily, with 150w MH plus actinics. Flow rate is 10 to 15 times per hour, as I find 20 times seems too much for the current inhabitants. <all good> I have now cultured an increasing population of Spionids, Terebellids and other worms, including the ubiquitous orange/grey detritivore bristleworms which I may need to cull as they are starting to eat mini starfish legs, Gammarus and Amphipod crustaceans, and filter feeders. The only macro creatures are mollusks - a large Trochus , Ceriths, Nassarius, Stomatella, Doves, and an Astraea. I judge the water quality with regard to dissolved organics by the degree of foaming in the inlet to the Ecosump, and it seems stable enough. Bearing in mind that this is a skimmerless system, is it time to add my first fish yet, or should I wait for another 3 months, or even longer? <longer is always better... but 6 months is a great start and admirable> I was originally intending to add an Ecsenius sp about now, but there is not enough nuisance algae in the tank to feed one, only Sargassum which I am gradually removing. The pivotal fish species for this tank were planned to be a Comet Assessor, with a few Anthias in due course.   <very fine... do look at Sunburst Anthias too (AKA Fathead Anthias)> However an  Ecsenius and/or Mandarin were always planned as necessary for control, particularly when the cryptic zone system and overhead refugium tanks are added. At the moment my main concern is that I do not want to lose my population of detritivore worms etc by adding a fish prematurely, but the Gammarus are numerous enough to be fair game now. I do have a "plague" of a few hundred brown acoel flatworms, although they stay in the shaded parts of the tank away from the corals. <no worries... they wax and wane unassisted in time> In Scott's marine fish book he suggests that the Green Spotted Mandarin may eat acoel flatworms, and this has raised the question. What should I do therefore:- <ignore the worms for starters> * Add a Comet Assessor now, as the main tank fish from the outset, and live with his eating habits <a great fish... very hardy> * Add a Green Spotted Mandarin, and hope that it does not eat the worms, but concentrates on the Gammarus and possibly the odd flatworm <quite possibly none of the above... they east copepods. Please do resist this delicate fish> * Add an Ecsenius as a safer bet to start with at this stage       <perhaps your best bet> * Do not add any fish yet, and if so how much longer should I wait? <I do believe you can proceed slowly now and enjoy a fine start> If I do add a Comet, how much should I increase the daily food input? <a couple of hearty feedings weekly in fact is fine> I have kept freshwater fish for over 30 years - with "fish" being the operative word. A fishless fishtank is a strange concept for me, although there must be over a hundred different life forms in this reef tank. <yes! I wish more people had this patience... such a great start for numerous micro-organisms> I can actually identify many of them with the help of Robert and Anthony's excellent book "Reef Invertebrates", so there are compensations. Best wishes to you all from Blighty and I hope that you have a great Easter. Eric Brightwell FZSL <and to you in kind my friend. Anthony>

125 salt fish only compatibility issue II 3/28/04 Ya know it would be nice if you guy would be a little more helpful rather than coming down on people and assuming the absolute worst.   <you opened the door by saying you have done extensive research and then demonstrating the contrary in a position that will clearly kill fish IMO. I'm trying to open your eyes> I understand your point of view as some people do not think things through and just shove as much as possible in a tank, but that is not my plan.   <It is your plan as stated in your own words below and from the last e-mail. You want to keep volitans lions (plural - 2 or more) plus "as many fish as possible" with it. If you've done any research at all, then you know that volitans lions get almost 18" long (38 cm - see fishbase.org for authoritative non-hobby data). And assuming that you only want to keep two lions... and assuming that they stunt fully 1/3 without killing them prematurely (for the unnaturally tight confines, lack of swimming space and developmental retardation)... then you still have 24" of messy (heavy biomass/feces production, feeding needs) fish in a tank narrower than they are wide and only 3X as long for swimming. To then want to add more fish to that is not possible/ethical> I have been keeping a variety of freshwater fish for around 10 years.  I know the constraints of filtration as well as tank size.   <I disagree> The tank does have a 55 gallon sump in the bottom, as well as a protein skimmer.  I am planning on adding a fluidized bed as well.   <this does not change the fact that the swimming space in the display will be grossly undersized> By a list of as many as possible, I mean a selection of which I can choose.   <the point is moot (adult size of 2 or more lions)... and you must allow some grace here for not understanding "what you really meant" in the limited medium of e-mail text> That way I can tailor the tank to my likes.  By a pair, I have found conflicting information on what can be kept in a 125 tank.  Some recommend only keeping them in a pair while others say solo (as you guys do).   <simply look at the adult sizes of these/any fishes and be respectful> I am planning to start with one juvenile black color phase Pterois volitans.  I have done some pretty extensive research on this subject on a variety of forums.  You guys tend to take the most conservative view, which I like as I am trying to do the best thing possible for whichever species I choose to keep.   <this I am grateful for... truly so. And let me ask you to consider a comparative life for yourself in a 4 foot wide, 12 foot long box... even with the exclusion that your natural exercise range is far less than that a lionfish would roam in the sea. If you agree that the quality of your life would be reduced in kind, then please be more generous with your marine tank, And mind you... I am not proffering this as a blanket statement for all marine fishes. Just those for which large runs for swimming are natural or necessary. For example, I would give no grief at all if you had said you wanted to keep a 2-3 foot long moray eel in the same tank. More than a few eel species have very restricted activity and ranges. As such, no worries for one of these larger fishes in a 125 gallon display tank like yours> So again I ask, which fish are best to keep with the Pterois volitans .   <none please if you wish to keep/feature the species volitans> I would like to get all the fish that I choose to keep in the aquarium as juveniles so that I may raise them together.  I have found with many species that this tends to aid in their eventual cohabitation.   <OK> This is what I did with the African and south Americans that I have kept in the past.   <apples and oranges: this is not a fair comparison... African cichlids do not roam/range like marine species of fishes. Many African cichlids spend their lives (and generations of their kin!) in the same square meters> So, a list of fish that are safe to keep would be great.  That way, when looking for tank mates, I will not choose the wrong fish to go together with my black color phase Pterois volitans. Thanks, Mike Ps I have on order over $150 in various books in order to learn more than what I have been able to find on the internet.  Just wanted your experienced opinion.         <excellent to hear of your continued research. Do take my/our opinion as but part of your informed consensus. I do hope you are fortunate enough to find/read other empathetic opinions rather than someone that simply tells you what you want to hear. Best of luck, Anthony>

125 salt fish only compatibility issue III 3/28/04 {AKA - "throw a stone into a crowd of dogs and the one that yelps is the one that got hit."] If you took time to read the messages rather than instantly criticize people and being unprofessional, you might help out more people.   <let me remind you that you are writing into a free content website and have got 3 personal replies in the same day! We are all unpaid volunteers here, snappy <G>. If you don't like what you read/hear... then don't write back. No really... please... don't write back. I'd much rather chat with folks that don't want to stick fishes into their aquariums with a shoehorn> My original message stated that I wanted to raise as many of my selections for my aquarium from juveniles, not that I want to get as many fish as possible in the aquarium.   <you truly are not listening... I have recognized this from go and I point out yet again that your position is moot when your intent is to raise 2 or more lions that each can get 18" long in a 24" wide tank. Your insensitivity is embarrassing. if you are not prepared to keep a fish for its full lifespan, then please do the living (limited) resource a favor by getting out of the hobby> Your information on the site is conflicting.  These are direct quotes from your site: {{{---Habitat: The bigger, the better; a good 30-40 gallons per adult Pterois and half that for other species. <<Hi! Scott F. your Crew Member tonight!> I have a new tank 6 x 2 x 2.5 ft. The tank will be used for lion fish only. How many  fully grown lion fish can this tank hold? <<Well, depends largely on species...If you're talking about the bigger guys, like P. volitans- you probably wouldn't want to keep more than 3, IMO...On the other hand, if you're talking about the "dwarf" species, you may be able to keep a few more. Remember, lionfishes are messy eaters and impart a lot of metabolic wastes into the water. Excellent filtration capacity and water quality is essential here!>---}}}}} As for my research, I have done quite a bit, but have not found fish that have never had a problem with lions.  Marine Fish magazine stated in their recent article that a 55 gal would be sufficient for an adult volitans.  I am doing a 125 with extensive filtration.  I want the lion to be as free from harassment/damage as possible.  No one has answered my original question yet.  I feel that the snide remarks are unprofessional and I hope to find someone that will be professional and polite in answering these e-mails.  This is my last try and I shall look elsewhere.  Assuming a single volitans, what can I keep with this fish.   Assuming a single adult volitans in this tank is my eventual goal. <your question has been answered clearly in more than  few ways. Do reread my last two replies... slower if you have to. And the different perspectives on this site represent different opinions, different aquarists... and different times (years of archived information and an evolution of ideas/understandings on aquarium husbandry in time). I do hope you are capable of understanding if not agreeing with this. And again... we are an all volunteer crew on an enormous website paid for out of pocket at times by the founder, our friend, Bob Fenner when modest revenues do not even cover operating expenses (server space/storage, etc). At worst, you got what you paid for. Please be a conscientious aquarist. Please. Anthony>

Two in One - An Unanswered Stocking Question >Hi Guys, Thanks a lot for getting back to me so quickly on my previous 'death of a clownfish' question i asked a while ago, I think the problem was that my tank hadn't cycled properly, but it's stable now and all the water parameters have leveled off.  I have another question about the stocking density of my tank and the compatibility of the fish in it, I have done a lot of research on it and have found several different views so I'm still a little confused.  I have a 30 gallon fish and invert tank with plenty of rock work in it (but not live, just covered in algae right now), I'm running an in tank Juwel filter at 600 l/h, the temp is around 79 - 80F and salinity around 1.022, the light is on for about 8 hours a day and a SeaClone skimmer is running 24/7 (which unfortunately is still spilling thousands of tiny bubbles into the tank....not sure what to do about that!). The tank's inhabitants are currently 2 small false percula clowns, 1 (inch and a half long) royal dotty back, 2 cleaner shrimp, and 5 small red hermit crabs.  I wanted to know if i could get 2 Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) and 1 pyjama/six -line wrasse in there, without the royal Dottyback bothering them, as i know they can be very territorial and sometimes aggressive (although it doesn't seem to bother my clownfish).  If I do buy these 3 extra fish (with a good few weeks gap in between of course) will i be approaching the tanks livestock limit? from what I've read I'm not entirely sure, and if not how many more fish in your opinion will i be able to get comfortably in there?.   >>It's my opinion that you're about hitting your limit.  With that Dottyback in there you can expect its overtures towards the Firefish to leave them in a crispy state (that is to say, dried up on the floor, as they're KNOWN jumpers in the first place, and timid at best in the second).  I say choose one or the other species.  The sixline would be alright, but you really need to be careful and allow for adult sizes here, ESPECIALLY due to your lack of live rock in there.  If you must have this fishy, I strongly suggest you begin replacing your dead rock with live (with proper curing and quarantine, of course). >I was also thinking about getting a blue starfish, are these hard to care for? >>Your system is quite new, and NOT a reef, you will likely be dooming this animal.  I am going on a couple of assumptions here, one being that your tank's parameters aren't stable yet, the second being more knowledge than assumption, and that is that the blue (Linckia) stars are very delicate creatures.  If you simply must have a sea star, consider a serpent star.  Honestly, I think you should wait till the system's a year or so old (WITH that live rock!) >and will a 30g tank be large enough to house it? >>Tank size is less a question at this point. >Sorry that the questions are probably a bit trivial but I am still a beginner.  Thanks for any help/advice you can offer.  Cheers, Mark (Essex, UK) >>Nay, Mark, not trivial at all.  Sorry this was never answered.  Marina Stocking I just set up my 90 gallon built-in overflow fish only tank with an AquaClear Pro 150 wet/dry with protein skimmer, UV Sterilizer, 1" - 2" dolomite bottom, and 8 damsels. Once the tank is cycled, I plan to add the following in this order:<I would take out all the damsels out before adding any fish.> 2 ocellaris clowns 3 green Chromis 1 blue hippo or powder blue tang<Both of these guys are ick magnets and will out grow you tank.> 1 raccoon or auriga butterfly 1 red sea golden butterfly<I would only add one butterfly and not the golden as it require the most room.> 1 flame angel <I would put them in in this order: Chromis, clowns, angel, then butterfly. Cody> Is this a good mix of fish? please advise on number of fish, compatibility and appropriateness of stocking order

Cramming' 'em In (3/25/04)   I have a fish-only 75 gallon aquarium.  Current fish are purple tang, flame hawk, blue-girdled angelfish, and maroon clownfish. <Your tank is full.> All have been in tank for over 2 years.  I've had no success adding fish, they never last more than 6 months. I have bought from the marine center and liveaquaria.  Fish seem to acclimate well, but no success past 3-6 months. <Probably because your tank is already full and cannot support more fish. Also, the Maroon Clownfish, the Flame Hawk and the Purple Tang are all very aggressive, territorial fish. In this small tank, they will harass any newcomer to death, often behind your back.>   Thinking of adding a few small specimens, like small trigger <no such fish exists--minimum Trigger size 10"--most closer to 18>, or dwarf angel, or small grouper (like panther grouper). <Small?! This fish grows to 2 feet in length. Yes, it's relatively small compared to the 4 footers, but waaay to big for a 75.>  I'd also consider any recommendations. <My emphatic recommendation is to settle for what you already have. I cannot stress enough that your tank is already full, if not over-full. It is barely big enough for the Tang and probably too small for the angel. Also, you have a very aggressive mix of fish. Be a responsible an conscientious marine aquarist and do not attempt to add more fish.>   I have undergravel filter, plus Fluval 404 canister, plus protein skimmer and hang on AquaClear filter.  I change 15-25% water every 2 weeks.  Water tests great. <And what does that mean? With an undergravel and a canister, I would expect rather high nitrates, which can be harmful. You need to clean the canister weekly. Also, I'd suggest increasing your water changes to 10-15% each week given your high bioload. The fact that you can't seem to add a new fish to what appears to be a stable system strongly suggests that the system is barely in balance and that any addition tips the scales for the worse.>   Is it unrealistic to add livestock? <Absolutely, positively, 100%>  Would you recommend any particular fish? <Nada> I'd love to add live rock, but find it unrealistic at this point without contaminating water. <If fully cured, and added slowly, should be OK> Also, a quarantine tank is not possible. <Why not? This is so fundamental to success in this hobby that there is no excuse for not using one.> Thanks for your help. <Glad to offer an opinion, even if it's painful to read. With no LR and the type of filtration you have, I fear that your tank's success is precarious. Do not risk it by adding anything. Even as is, you may run into problems as your fish grow.>   P.S. I love your site.  It has great articles and pictures. <Thank you. A lot of people have put far more into it than I, a relative newcomer. I learn a lot here too. We are all indebted to Bob, Anthony and others for this wonderful resource. Steve Allen>

How Many Fish Can You Cram Into 100 Gallons? (3/23/04) Hi, I have a 100 gallon aquarium, I was wondering how much can my filtration hold (as in livestock)? I have a Eheim wet/dry filter, a Fluval 404, a protein skimmer for a 150 gallon tank, and two pumps inside the tank (the tank is glass, so I needed to use canister filters). I have a niger trigger, around 34 Chromis (small), two yellow tangs, a spiny puffer, and a blue tang. I'm not sure how much the aquarium can support before the whole thing goes into an ammonia meltdown. <There's more to it than filtration. Would you want to live in a tiny house with 40 other people?> I would bet I have too many Chromises <yep> so I want to know how much I should take out. Thanks! -Alvin Chan <This is way too many fish. Id get rid of all but six Chromis. Also, lose one yellow and the Blue Tang. Two yellows are unlikely to get along in 100G as they grow. The blue really ought to be in a bigger tank anyway. It might be OK in the 100 if you get rid of both yellows. The Puffer may not do well because it will feel cramped as it gets big. Also, the Niger Trigger may harass it as it becomes bigger too. However, Nigers do tend to be less aggressive than many other Triggers. Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

New Tank Stocking! Hello and thanks for all the information on the site. <Thank you for writing!> I'm a beginner and with that being said, I'm also confused by the amount of info that can be had out there (most of it contradicting). I have started a 110G that I'm waiting for cycling to complete. I don't want a lot of fish in the tank and I want them to be all of a fairly small adult size.  I am thinking, 6 Percula clowns? Is this OK? Can you recommend another fairly small fish that I can have about 3-4 of that will live happily in the tank with them. I would also like to have a few cleaner shrimp and a couple snails. Also, can I put in a few feather dusters with this arrangement?  <This should be fine.  Some other fish could be some Chromis.> 110g tank, wet/dry filter that is approx 900gph, Protein skimmer and about 1-1/2" of crushed coral as the substrate. no live rock for now.<I would definitely look into LR before you purchase any of the inverts.> Thanks again to all for such a great site.  I think I'll always look around for opinions but return here for advice. I would also like to thank you for talking me out of Anemones...at least not till I have about 100yrs of experience with marine aquariums.<Hehe.  Thank you for the kind words!  Cody>

Stocking Plan Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> First time asker and new to marine.  I've been reading your site on and off for about a year now.  And I think it's time to try my hand at this.  I have a 65 gal. tank. It's 36"across, 18" wide and 24"deep.  Other than a 15 gal. quarantine tank, this is all I have.  I've read that I should have about 90lbs. of live rock and at least 5" of substrate to help with filtration. <DSB is just one of many techniques that you can use, but it's a good one!> I'm also planning on having some type of refugium, something that will fit under the stand.  Lighting is something that I still have to work out yet.  My question has to do with stocking and this is what I've narrowed it down to. 2- Clownfish (Ocellaris) 2- Neon Gobies (Gobiosoma oceanops) 1- Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto) 1- Rainford Goby (Amblygobius rainfordi) <Wait until the tank is very well established first> 1- Sixline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia) 3- Yellowtail Blue Damsels (Chrysiptera parasema) a few Sexy Shrimp a few porcelain crabs a feather duster or two a T. maxima clam an Bubbletip Anemone <Nope- not unless you're running metal halide lighting and plan on keeping no corals> Open Brain Coral (Trachyphyllia radiata) Brush Coral (Pocillopora eydouxi)       Do you foresee any problems with these tank mates? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  

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