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FAQs about Marine Livestocking 17

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Many puffers get much larger and are much messier than folks think. Investigate before you buy. 

Girlfriends, wives, and pet-fish lovers 7/7/05 WWM Crew, I have a little bit of a ongoing problem with my live in girlfriend and my fish tank. <...> Its a 95 gallon tank, and I am planning on getting a Picasso trigger. However my girlfriend wants me to get another fish, and all the ones that she continually points out to me are not compatible (clownfish, and dwarf angels). She basically likes anything colorful and active. I pointed out several tangs that are fairly aggressive to no avail. Whatever I end up getting for her will be put in the tank first and the trigger a month or so later. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Cory <Help her get her own tank. Bob Fenner> Need advice on the 30 gallon tank 7/6/05 Hi there, I did read your site and some of the FAQs.  It is very helpful but just too much information.  I can't get the exact information that I need,  so I just want to ask you direct, hopefully you can answer it. I have a oceanic cube 30 Gallons. I just got it up and is running right now without any fish yet.  I want to do some research before buying anything. My first choice of the fishes in the tank are: 1) two Maroon clown fishes.  Buy when they are young and introduce to the tank at the same time. <<The maroons will get too large for your 30.  Suggest percula clowns in their place.>> 2) one dwarf angel (a coral beauty or flame angel,  either one is ok) 3) one Royal Gramma 4) two firefish If that is too crowded and not possible, My second choice is to go with two Maroon Clownfishes and one dwarf angel. My questions are: 1) is my first choice do able?? <<No>> 2) Can I keep two maroon and one dwarf angel together in 30 gallons. tank, will they fight and kill each other. <<Tank is too small for these.  As above, the maroons will soon outgrow the tank.>> 3) if any of my choices are do able, what order should I introduce the fishes? I ask people but they keep on giving mixed and confuse answer. if you have any suggestion, I would really appreciated it. Thank you.  <<Bao, I would suggest two perculas, orchid Dottyback and a yellow watchman goby.  This will give you a good splash of color and the fish will be compatible.  You could replace the Dottyback and goby with the two firefish you had in mind.  Keep in mind you have a small surface area for the gallon capacity of the tank so your oxygen exchange at the surface will not be as efficient as in a rectangular tank.  Using a small wet/dry or efficient protein skimmer will help in this matter. I say this because you didn't mention the type of filtration you will be using. In the future, try and capitalize your "i's".  It shortens our response time as we have to correct the text before the query can be posted.  Thank you.  James (Salty Dog)>> Bao.

Stocking Questions & Refugium (Marine) Hi WWM Crew, <Hey, Mike G with you tonight.> Let's continue the tradition and start by saying you guys are the best.... <Thanks for the compliment. Of course, others here deserve it far more than I.> I have a 215 gal. with 200 lbs. of live rock, 2-3" inches of crushed coral bedding and 1200 watts of power compacts. My filtration consists of a heavy duty and large external "Beckett" style skimmer, a 50 gal. wet/dry sump with bioballs, 30 watt long throw UV sterilizer and 2 Sea Clear canister filters ( one pleated and one carbon). My bioload currently is as follows: 1. Arothron puffer 12" 2. Threadfin Lookdown 11" 3. Clown Trigger 4" 4. Niger trigger 6" 5. Naso Tang 6" 6. Yellowtail Coris Wrasse 6" 7. Black ribbon eel 26" 8. Emerald crab 2" (yes it has survived 7 months now in this tank). 9.Many snails and small hermit crabs. <Full house!> Given the size potential of the stated fish, is my bioload to high? <I would say that what you have now is just about as much as you want to have, maximum.> How about If I traded in the Niger trigger and ribbon eel for a tesselata or Hawaiian dragon moray? <You could do that, providing there are no aggression issues.> And lastly, Would adding a refugium benefit my system? Keeping in mind it could not be very big. (space issues). <Absolutely! Any size refugium can do wonders for any tank. I recommend adding it without hesitation.> On behalf of aquarists everywhere........ THANKS!! <No problem. Glad I/we could be of assistance.>

Quick Question: Tangs, Cardinals, and Tomato's Oh My... - 08/14/03 Howdy Wet guys and gals <Hi Paul, PF with you tonight> Would a Kole Tang and a Yellow Tang do okay in a 90G tang, or would they fight? <I'd say fight. I wouldn't try it unless the tank was at least twice that big, if not 3 times. Remember, in the wild these animals have territories in the yards, unless your a public aquarium, all you have to offer them is feet.> Also, are you familiar with the Longspine Cardinalfish (Apogon aptacanthus) <No, but I just researched the Apogon aptacanthus. ;) >.  I heard that they could be kept in groups that would school. <Yes, that's what I've read. They're a schooling species, and sound like a nice addition.> How many could be kept in a 90G that has a Kole Tang, Tomato Clown ( maybe a little too aggressive for them ), <I'd leave the clown out> Flame Angel, purple Dottyback <Do you mean the orchid Dottyback, Pseudochromis fridmani? They can be kept in pairs, if you get them young. I had a breeding pair myself (and am still kicking myself for selling them). , and a Copperband butterfly <Copperbands I would not recommend. Have you looked instead at the long nose varieties? Much hardier, and easier to train on commercially available foods. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/forcipig.htm  Copperbands are corallivores, and while some make the transition, many don't. To answer your original question, I'd say a group of 5 would be good, remember, always keep odd numbers to help spread aggression out.> Thanks,  Paul <You're welcome, have a nice night, PF>

Stocking Overview Hi crew!< Hi! Ryan with you today.> I love your expertise and fast speed at answering questions.  <Always therapeutic to help someone ;) > I have decided to restock my 75 gal tank. I did have a female undulated trigger but constant nagging from my girlfriend plus the idea that I probably cannot have a second fish comfortably and compatibly (is that a word?) in the 75g has made me return to happy, playful, friendly fish!  <She's right.> I was hoping you could read through the following list of "stock options" and give me some sort of order to introduce them to the tank: 2 x Ocellaris Clownfish (false percula) 2 x Tomato Clownfish <Pick one pair of Anemonefish> 1 x Canary Fang Blenny (Oualan Forktail /Canary Blenny) 1-3 x Smith's Damselfish (Pink Smith damselfish) 1 x Fire Goby 2 x Longnose Hawkfish 1 x Yellow Tang 1 x Cleaner Shrimp (not sure which type) <The hawk could eat them in maturity.> I realize that this may be horribly overstocking the tank but will gladly take suggestions b.t.w. it's a reef tank!  <If it's a reef, you may want to hold off on the tang until you're well established.  Pick one pair of the clowns and I like the rest.  Good luck! Ryan> Thanks so much!  Zack,  Newfoundland Canada

Upgrading from 46 to 90! - 8-13-03 I am getting a reef ready 90 gal aquarium and I would like to know what brand of filter would be best (preferably a sump with a protein skimmer)  <I would recommend either a Life Reef or My Reef Creations.> I was also wondering if a purple tang and a yellow tang would get along together  <I wouldn't try it.>  and with  two small clownfish and a few docile gobies (such as a Firefish and Blackray goby)  <Should be fine.> I would also like to know if angelfish only bite on coral when hungry or just that there attracted to them and the taste.  <All depends on what type of angel and sometimes size.  Coral is a natural food for many in the wild.> I am 14 and I am upgrading to a 90gal from a 46 so I had so question on some bigger and seeing if they would do good with my corals and fish.<Good luck with the bigger tank!  Cody>

A Very Fishy Question (Stocking and Compatibility) Hello Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. at your service!> I have a 75 gal All Glass Aquarium with a corner overflow, 80 lbs of Fiji live rock, and a 1-2" layer of Aragonite reef sand.  I have a 20 gal sump with an acrylic box (16"L x 10"W x 19"H) for mechanical filtration and filled with Bio cubes.  The sump has a heater (Ebo Jager) and a Mag-7 return pump.  I have a power compact hood with 4 96 watt lights (2 Actinic, 2 10,000K bulbs).  I am planning to purchase an AquaC EV-180 protein skimmer to replace the Berlin that I had. <A nice choice! Minor critique: I'd either decrease the sand bed depth to 1/2 inch or less, or kick it up to 3 inches or more. One to two inches is sort of a biological "no man's land"; too shallow to foster complete denitrification processes, but too deep to be fully aerobic...A potential recipe for problems down the line...> The tank has 1 Majestic Angel (5"), 2 Hippo Tangs (6"/5"), 1 Maroon Clown (4"), 1 Watchman Goby, and 1 Scooter Blenny.  There are some snails and hermit crabs as well - no corals or anemones.  I recently lost a flame angel, pygmy angel, and a spotted hawk due to a heater malfunction that sent the temperature over 92 degrees while I was at work. <Yuck! Sorry to hear that...> I would like to add a few more fish, depending on their size - how much room do I have if any?   <To be honest, in the opinion of this conservative-stocking fish nerd, you're already maxed out. The Majestic can easily hit 10 inches in length, and needs a lot of room to live a normal life span (captive records exceed 20 years for this fish!), and the Hippos will hit about the same length. In fact, I'd be seriously contemplating a much larger tank (like a 240 gallon or larger) to successfully accommodate all of these guys for long, healthy lives.> Here are some of my initial thoughts - which I hope you can reduce the list of options - so I can research them more in depth. <I'd be glad to give you my opinions on these guys, but it will be under the assumption that these potential additions would be added into a much larger tank...At least this may provide some basis for future research...> Option 1 - add 1 large angel (I am not sure the majestic would agree).  Would any of the following have enough room to thrive and coexist with the majestic - Pomacanthus annularis, Pomacanthus arcuatus, or Holacanthus ciliaris? <Not a chance, IMO. Even in a much larger tank, it is a potential recipe for trouble> Option 2 - add 2 smaller angels - would 2 of the following work - Pygoplites diacanthus, <I'd avoid this fish 99% of the time. They simply do not do well in captivity- yes, some people have kept them for a few years- but that is not what I'd call long-term success...Remember the potential life spans of angels are great...> Chaetodontoplus duboulayi, Chaetodontoplus mesoleucos? <Wonderful fishes, but the C. duboulayi gets 10 plus inches, and can be a bit feisty with other angels... The C. mesoleucos is usually pretty shy, and might be a better choice if you're dead set on another "full size" angel. It is smaller, but it still may be a problem. Many of these guys simply don't eat in captivity...> Option 3 - add 3 dwarf angels - would a trio of Centropyge acanthops or Centropyge aurantonotus work? <If you are thinking of keeping multiple Centropyge, the C acanthops would be a better choice. They are found in groups in nature, and can be kept this way in captivity, if provided with a lot of room. C. aurantonotus is another great small Centropyge; I have seen them kept in trios in captivity with success.. In the long run (and in a larger tank, as outlined above), a Centropyge species would be your best choice if you want to try another angel with the Majestic> Option 4 - would any trio of clownfish coexist with the maroon (I did not think there would be)? <I suppose that it can be done, but the potential for squabbles is great...I wouldn't do it, myself> Option 5 - Two from the following list of wrasses Thalassoma lunare, Cirrhilabrus solorensis, or Macropharyngodon meleagris? <I'd go for a C. solorensis. They are quite easy to take care of, stay relatively small, and are just plain awesome looking! The Macropharyngodon species are extremely difficult for most hobbyists, as they require a very well established system with plenty of fauna (Mysis, amphipods, etc) to forage for. They often starve to death in all but the most productive (By "productive", I mean a tank that has a refugium or thriving 'pod population) reef systems. They are really best suited for a tank that has been set up with their unique dietary preferences in mind...I'd pass> Option 6 - a pair of flasher wrasses Paracheilinus hemitaeniatus? <A nice choice, too!> I know these are a wide range of options - but I am looking for a stocking level, and realistic combination of compatibility. <As mentioned above- I'd call it a day, as far as stocking levels are concerned. You do have some choices that will make for a fine tank when larger quarters become available, however> Do you have a different option?  Thanks <Go big! Or- start another tank! (My recommendations for increased stocking always lead to more expensive answers!)  A pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Hold Onto Your (Bio) Balls And Pass On The Wrasse! Dear Crew, <Scott F. here today!> I have a 90 gallon system with a 20 gallon sump (with bio-balls) that has been established for 4 ? weeks now. I have 95 pounds of live rock, 3 inch sand bed (fine aragonite). Ammonia 0.5, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 7.5 (and slowly rising), pH 8.2, temp 26?C, specific gravity 1.024. <Are you sure that the tank is cycled? Detectible ammonia is not good...especially with zero nitrite...Sounds to me like it still needs to cycle? Do recheck!> I have in my tank - 2 x 1" clownfish, 1 x 1" blue tang, 1 x 2" lawnmower blenny, 3 x 1" barrier reef Chromis, 1 x 2" Longnose Hawkfish and a handful of hermits. <Wow- a lot of bioload on such a new tank...Again- monitor the water chemistry carefully...You might be overtaxing a newly-cycled system here...> I was wondering when it would be safe to start removing the bio balls from my sump so I can get my nitrate to drop and add a pair of Coral Banded shrimp. Also for my last fish would a Banana Wrasse fit well in with the rest of the tank mates? Your guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks, Dave <Well, Dave- I'd probably wait a while longer until things get more established...I know that I keep going back to the detectible ammonia reading, but you need to monitor carefully, hold the population as is for now, and let things settle in for a couple of months, at least. After a few months, you can safely remove the bioballs, as long as you have an established sand bed (you may want to kick it up to 4 inches to be more effective at denitrification). Make sure that good husbandry practices (aggressive skimming, regular small water changes, etc.) are all in place before attempting this switch. As far as the Banana Wrasse is concerned, if you're referring to Thalassoma lutescens, I'd  pass. First, this fish can hit almost 12 inches in length. Although it is reasonably peaceful, it can get scrappy at times. Also, it will munch on shrimp, hermit crabs, etc., so it would not be wise to keep a pair of shrimp with this guy! On the other hand, if you like the bright yellow color, and like a smaller fish with bright yellow color, the Canary Wrasse, Halichoeres chrysus is a nice choice. Much less scrappy, and a lot smaller, usually toping out around 4 inches. It can munch on tiny shrimp, such as the more diminutive cleaners, but it's a great fish, with lots of personality! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

220 Gallon Aquarium I've read through Mr.. Fenner's book and all the fa q's and can't really seem to find answers about stocking a 220g fish only with 220 lbs of live rock. <ok> right now I have everything set up and running (about 8 months).<good> I've got my huge skimmer and Sailfin tang, regal tang, and a school of Chromis. next I wanted to add 3-4 butterflies.<I would just add 2-3...maybe golden butterflies or semilarvatus or raccoon butterflies, they seem to be very hardy> I've had two before and they seemed very peaceful and never fought.<most of the time they don't> so I was planning on adding 4 (all from your best list)<Would only add 2-3 to this aquarium> and maybe a dwarf angel or Mac angel later on.<the maculosus angelfish is one of the hardiest, if not the hardiest angelfish in its genus... but they do grow large... and you have to remember that you have other potentially large fish as well. The dwarf angels are good. My favorite is the golden pygmy angel (Centropyge aurantius) my question is will 4 get along and is there any of them more peaceful than others? <The semilarvatus seem to do well together> I also planned on ordering them online marine depot, liveaquaria, or Jeff's fish.<all are very reputable, personally I like to view the fish in person before I lay down the big bucks on them> and quarantining them for 2 weeks in the 2 tanks I've already set up.<would Qt for 3-4wks> any problems with this?<It all sounds pretty good, Have fun stocking this large aquarium, IanB>

Adding Fish to New Tank (8-12-03) Hello, I currently have a 75 gallon saltwater tank that is cycled but currently with no fish.  If I add percula clownfish can I add 3 or is it better to add in groups of 2?  Can I put in 2 now and 2 later or will the first 2 not accept the later ones? <I would only put 2-3 in this size tank and add them all at once.> Also, I have considered getting a yellow tang for a long time but am reluctant because of all I hear about them getting ich.  If my tank is well established and maintained are the chances good that one will still get ich somewhere down the road? <Yes, your fish can get ich even if they are established.  Ich outbreaks come from stress or a new tank mate exposing the current fish to it.  That's why you quarantine all new fish a minimum of three weeks before you add them to the main tank..  Cody> thank you, James

Stocking Up (Choosing Tankmates) Hello Crew... <Scott F. your Crew member today> New to the marine side of this hobby.  I have 37 gallon tank with an Eclipse 3 hood setup for about 6 weeks.  I have approximately 18-20lbs live rock. The tank cycled quickly with 2 yellow-tail damsels.  I have removed one to help set up my quarantine tank because the other was picking on him (the other being much harder to catch with all the live rock). <An unfortunate occurrence with damsels- one will invariably pester the other...> In addition I have added I maroon clown, a cleaner shrimp, 4 hermit crabs and a snail. All seem to be getting along great and thriving... <Cool!> I am trying to establish a stocking plan for the rest of the tank.  My plan is to spread out my new acquisitions by approx 1 month and have them spend 3-4 weeks in the quarantine tank before introducing to the display tank. <Excellent! Very glad to hear that you are embracing quarantine and slow and careful stocking!> I would appreciate your thoughts on the following as well as the order in which they might be added... <Sure!> 1.  Pajama Cardinal Fish <May not do well with the clowns- pass> 2.  Saddled Filefish <Hmm...I might be inclined to pass on this guy, myself.. He might nip on some inverts> 3.  Sixline Wrasse <Add last> 4.  Purple Firefish <Add fourth> 5.  Yellow Clown Goby or Neon Goby <Add third... These little guys should be okay...> 6.  Shy Hamlet or Indigo Hamlet <Nice fish- but they get a bit too large for this tank (about 5 inches)... I'd pass> 7.  Flame Angel or Coral Beauty <I'd pass...they need a bit more space than this tank would afford, IMO. If you want a dwarf angel, you may want to consider Centropyge fisheri - after the tank is well established, I might add> 8.  1 blue and 1 yellow Assessor <Add right after the clowns, with caution...And I'd stick to one color...They are very shy and like caves or overhangs to hang out in... The clowns may be a bit boisterous for them, however> 9.  Blue Tang (would love one, but am afraid it will outgrow the tank) <Yep- pass...Think about the potential 10 inch plus eventual size here...> From this list, what are the best choices?  I don't intend to put all in. <I like the Firefish, the clown goby, the sixline wrasse...Frankly, I'd cut it at that- you simply don't want to overcrowd this small tank...Enjoy the neat little fishes, give them space, and you'll be rewarded with a healthy, interesting tank!> Thanks for your input.  I'm lucky to have found your site.  Great resource! Thanks...Bob <And I'm happy to be of assistance, Bob! Keep in mind that my recommendations are just that- recommendations-based upon my own opinions and experiences, and the final call is yours...You know what's best for you, and I know that you'll make the right decisions! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Fish Stocking - 8/11/2003 Bob: <Anthony Calfo in his stead... he's attending a Buddy Hackett look alike contest in Indo. Contestants are judged from behind> Love the newest book so far (as well as the "old" CMA). <thanks kindly... it was an effort by many of us here at WWM> Here's my current situation: 55 gallon AGA (48x13x20), 11 months in operation 130W PC 42 lbs. LR (adding small amounts over time) 4" DSB (150 lbs. of Southdown Play Sand) BakPak2 Skimmer 2 opposing power heads 1-False Percula Clown - (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1-Orchid Dottyback - (Pseudochromis fridmani) 1-Fire Goby - (Nemateleotris magnifica) 1-Clown goby - (Gobiodon okinawae) 1-Emerald Crab - (Mithrax sculptus) 2-Peppermint Shrimp - (Lysmata wurdemanni) X-snails and hermits (maybe 18 total) 5%-2x weekly water changes (thanks to you guys) In 10 gallon quarantine tank: 1-Cherub Angel - (Centropyge argi) Below are some desirable species.  I value your opinion about the possibilities: 1-Neon Goby - (Gobiosoma oceanops) (or G. evelynae) 1-Yellow Assessor - (Assessor flavissimus) 1-Scott's Fairy Wrasse - (Cirrhilabrus scottorum) (or 1 other small, colorful Wrasse) 1-Kole Tang - (Ctenochaetus strigosus) (or Chevron Tang - C. hawaiiensis) I have read on this site about these tangs in 55's, but I just wanted a direct opinion based on my system & tank mates.  I don't think I can have them all, but any particular combination come to mind?   <the neon goby is likely fine... the assessor is a serious risk to the pseudochromid...the Kole tang (and most any tang) runs the risk of being too aggressive, and the Scott's wrasse is just too finicky to keep here.> Am I fully stocked already?   <Not likely> Anyone incompatible with what I already have?  Thanks a million and a half, Rich. <Smaller fairy wrasse species would be better. Perhaps flames. Sunburst Anthias would be an interesting choice too... do look them up. Beautiful. best regards, Anthony>

Chromis in a 20 gal.  (8-8-03) I got two tank raised perculas in my 20 gal right now, they're about 3/4's of an inch large and are getting along fine, but if I introduced a blue Chromis or 2 of the same size into the tank would they be all right?   Nick <They should be ok but they should be the last guys as any more fish would be too many for such a small tank.  Cody>

Adding a Sohal Tang? Ahhhh... No.  - 8/10/03 I have a home built 260 gallon tank currently stocked with a Volitans Lion, an Emperor Angel (juvenile), a Long Long nose Butterfly, a Harlequin Tuskfish (all in the 5" range) <hmmm... nice tank. But still, these fish amount to a cumulative 36+ inches of fish at adulthood. Can be enjoyed in this tank... but hardly spacious in a couple of years if we are to be gracious for their optimal (not minimal) health/requirements> and a blue ribbon eel (And yes.. he is feeding and thriving.. thank God!.. had him for a few months.. greediest eater in the tank LOL).   <you do realize that a primary problem with his fish is not that it won't eat, but that it won't survive on most captive diets (nutritional deficiency issues). It's not hard to get these eels to eat in the hands of a good aquarist, like yourself seemingly so. That still doesn't make the fish likely to survive to see 2 years old if even anywhere near that. I suspect you've had yours less than a year. Not uncommon... and not appropriate with this mix of fishes at any rate. I'm sorry to see it outside of a species tank frankly> I would really like to add a tang to this mix and was thinking of a Sohal Tang... <the tank honestly does not have the room for any tang in the 2-3 year+ picture if you intend to be a responsible/conscientious aquarist> Two things scare me:  The reputation these guys have for aggressive behavior... <well deserved... notwithstanding their adult size at 1.5 feet that would be cruel IMO in any tank merely 6-8 feet long. This is a public aquarium sized species at adulthood> I lucked out with the Emperor (at least so far)... he's pretty laid back... and so my tank is fairly peaceful...would hate to upset that balance.    <and I am sure this is also a statement based on mere months of care (not more than a year or two). Do consider that this genus is on record at well over 20 years captive. Yours has not yet reached sexual maturity... and when it does, it will not likely break from the stereotype. I'm certainly not trying to berate you here... but we (WWM and friends) work very hard to teach aquarists to have a proper long view. Your species selection is familiar & understandable (we have shared admiration) but is no less unfortunate> Would d?or manipulation help this potential problem?   <not a prayer... the tank is too small> My aquascaping currently consists of a loose live rock wall undulating directly down the center of the tank that the more active fish swim through, with two "caves" at either end of the tank that are currently occupied by the Tuskfish and the eel. (This works quite well ascetically and apparently gets a "fins up" from my existing mix) <OK... for now> Secondly... would I be overstocking my tank??   <yes, my friend... by any measure. If nothing else... please research your prospects at http://www. fishbase.org  to glean adult sizes for you to make empathetic if not common sense decisions on stocking levels> Right now it looks a bit empty... but I know the fish I have will get much bigger with time.   <yes...please (!) have patience. We must allow these fishes room to grow. Else, like so many others, yours will stunt and die prematurely (developmental complications) after just a few years> If I can add another fish, and the Sohal would be inappropriate, can you suggest some other colorful tang that would be better for my mix of characters (and they certainly are!)? Thank you so much! Frank <My very strong advice is to enjoy the tank as it is and then some after the eel has passed or jumped out - leaving the tank for the big 3 (with or without the butterfly). Do use this advice as an excuse to set up another tank ;) Else, please do spare any more fishes and simply admire them from afar. Anthony>

Fish Stocking - 8/7/2003 >Bob: >>Sorry, mate, Marina today. >Love the newest book so far (as well as the "old" CMA). >>Many thanks. >Here's my current situation: 55 gallon AGA (48x13x20), 11 months in operation 130W PC 42 lbs. LR (adding small amounts over time) 4" DSB (150 lbs. of Southdown Play Sand) BakPak2 Skimmer 2 opposing power heads 1-False Percula Clown - (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1-Orchid Dottyback - (Pseudochromis fridmani) 1-Fire Goby - (Nemateleotris magnifica) 1-Clown goby - (Gobiodon okinawae) 1-Emerald Crab - (Mithrax sculptus) 2-Peppermint Shrimp - (Lysmata wurdemanni) X-snails and hermits (around 18 total) 5%-2x weekly water changes (thanks to you guys) In 10 gallon quarantine tank: 1-Cherub Angel - (Centropyge argi) Below are some desirable species.  I value your opinion most about the possibilities: 1-Neon Goby - (Gobiosoma oceanops) (or G. evelynae) 1-Yellow Assessor - (Assessor flavissimus) 1-Scott's Fairy Wrasse - (Cirrhilabrus scottorum) (or 1 other small, colorful wrasse) 1-Kole Tang - (Ctenochaetus strigosus) (or Chevron Tang - C. hawaiiensis) >>Definitely NOT the Chevron, the Kole...mmmm...*possibly*, but strongly recommend against unless you have plans to set up something on the order of 90 gallons or more within the next year or so. >I have read on this site about these tangs in 55's, but I just wanted a direct opinion based on my system & tank mates.  I don't think I can have them all, but any particular combination come to mind?  Am I fully stocked already?  Anyone incompatible with what I already have?  Thanks a million and a half, Rich. >>Be careful of the wrasses with crustaceans, though very small wrasses (sized as six-line wrasses) would be preferable.  Refer to http://www.fishbase.org (as well as searching our site) for the smaller species of fairy wrasses, as they'll more likely do better in the smaller system AND will be slightly less prone to taking your shrimps.  They seem to "like" being kept in pairs, do NOT pair males together (they're sexually dimorphic), if you can't do this, keep singly.  Neon gobies are so small that you can keep a small colony of three to five in your system EASILY along with what you have.  The yellow Assessor should do well, too.  In general, excepting the tangs, I see no reason why you can't add the fishes on your list, especially if you go with a wrasse half the size of the Scott's.  If you "must" have the Scott's, then I would be wary for the safety of the shrimps, and do watch your parameters carefully.  Consider adding a sump/refugium to both feed these choices AND add to the total water volume.  Otherwise, seems a very good stocking list to me.  Best of luck, and do have fun, Rich!  Marina

-Stocking list for a new 65- Hi.  I'm contemplating an upgrade to a 65 gallon tank (36x18x24) and have been  attempting to complete a stocking plan before purchasing the new tank. <An often overlooked step!> I  currently have a mandarin [fat and happy for 6+ months on frozen as well as  plenty of live copepods/amphipods from the refugium] <One of the few that eats frozen, you're lucky!> and an ocellaris clown and plan to add these two fish to the new tank.  I plan on introducing a second  ocellaris and would like to add a pair of fire gobies and a flame angel and some hardy invertebrates. <Be sure you have somewhere to remove the new clown to just in case the resident clown really beats on it.> I have an Aqua-C Remora Skimmer and refugium on my current tank and would install them on the new tank along with a 6 inch DSB (my  main motivation for purchasing a tall tank).  I've read through the FAQs and several other sources and seen mixed opinions on the tendencies of Centropyges.  Could a flame angel peacefully co-habitate with the aforementioned fish in this size of a system and/or do you think this is too many fish for this tank?  <I think this would be an appropriate stocking list. The centropyge shouldn't mess with any of the other fish, but it may nip at coral.> Also, I enjoyed the Reef Invertebrates book and look forward to the fishes! <Great! Will pass along. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks! Christopher

FOWLR tank stocking Hi guys, my name is Clay Smith and I have a 55 gallon tank that has been up and running for a year and a half already. <Hi Clay, and welcome!> It has a 35 gallon sump, 15 gallon refugium that has an opposite photo period , 600 gph pump running the overflows, canister filter, and 3 VHO fixtures.45 pounds LR and a 2 inch sand bed. <Sounds good> Up until now this ahs been strictly a predator tank with a few corals to add some color.  I would like to remove the predatory fish and have a more peaceful tank. I was thinking     1 pair clownfish( either maroon or blue stripe)     1 mandarin dragonette     1 royal Gramma     1 Blueband goby 3 purple Firefish. I am wondering if this would be a likely set up. Any info would be great. Thanks guys. <The only potential problem I see is the mandarin. Many, many of these fish simply starve to death in captivity. You need to have a very high population of pods and such in your tank to support these guys. Good luck with your new setup, Don> Clay Smith

Inches per gallon? 08/06/03 <Hi Jeremy, PF with you tonight> Is there a simple way of determining the amount of fish you can comfortably put in a 75g tank?  Taking into consideration their mature size.  A formula inches of fish/gallon perhaps? Thanks again for all the wonderful insight.  You all are saints to the hobby. Best Regards, Jeremy <Well Jeremy, the short answer is no, as is the long answer. To much depends on the fishes temperament, diet, and other factors. The best way (in my opinion) is to decide what type of fish you want, and then plan the tank. Predators? Schooling? A small tang? Then research the best species for what you want. Have a nice night, PF>

Saltwater mixing (don't try this at home) - 8/7/03 Your web site is AWESOME and I appreciate it very much <Thank you> I have a friend that has a 18 gallon saltwater aquarium. <Donovan, c'mon....is this friend really you?> He has 2 clowns, a rusty angel, a yellow tail damsel, a few small hermit crabs, some type of anemone (possibly a carpet ?), a Skilter 400 and a Wal-Mart 65 Watt grow light. <Donovan, first things first, this is an unacceptable environment for the inhabitants. An 18 gallon tank? I am not even going to dignify this with a response to what is wrong here. I would rather have you and your friend read some books, research the internet (this is a good starting off point don't ya think?), and attend a local reef hobbyist club for information on inhabitant environment. (What type of fish, size, feeding requirements, temperament, etc. etc.) This is not a tank set up for long term success. Read as much info on our site as you can!!!!> He has been losing a lot of animals including a few fish, a few red scarlet crabs, a few cleaner shrimp, all his turbo snails, 1 sand sifting stars and other inverts. <Not surprised.> He currently performs his water changes by using tap water straight from the tap, mixing the salt in it and putting it straight into the tank. <WHAT!!!!! No heating? No aerating? Hose???? This is utterly ridiculous!!!! No.....ricockulous!!!! I don't even know what to say. You are headed in the right direction by coming here, and no time like the present, but.........COME ON!!!! Where did he get this blatant disregard for life???? The politicians handbook??? The information is out there if you look for it. As a matter of fact, here you are, on a site that is easily accessible with solid information and methodology for aquarists, yet this person......Awwwww forget it. I am going to link to the place on this site that discusses water change methodology (best practices) but surely this is the least of the issues here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm Could you tell me if this has anything to do with why his animals are dying. <One of many. I am disgusted...> Any input or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. <I am feeling a bit frustrated, Donovan. My recommendation is to do your best to stop this friend from buying any more marine animals of any type, read some books, read some websites, talk to people with tanks you respect, join a reef club (if possible) and ask questions here if need be (we have two of the most popular and knowledgeable reef writers in the biz at your fingertips). Re-evaluate your set-up and create a plan, appropriate the funds and execute on said plan. Do your best, Donovan. I do commend you for voicing your concerns and coming here. You are on your way to becoming a Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Just need to do more research. -Paul>

Adding To The Fray (Stocking Questions) I wrote you earlier asking about swim bladder.  My fish had been swimming funny for about 12 hours.  I guess the clown just had some gas or something....it seems to be swimming around normally now? <Could be...I've found over the years that, in the absence of other, more serious symptoms, these types of "situations" will usually go away without intervention> I also asked about stocking.  Have decided to forego the Blue Tang until such time as we can get a much larger tank. <Good for you! Excellent call. I commend you on your restraint!> Instead, I'm looking at a Flame Angel.  How does this substitution sound with the rest of the livestock? <A nice fish; one of the more sturdy dwarf angels. However, despite the fact that they remain fairly small, I still think that a larger tank would be better for this guy. I'm particularly concerned about the damsels and their potential for aggression in this tank. On the other hand, if you did not have the two damsels, I would be a bit more enthusiastic about this selection. I love Centropyge angelfish, but I think that their needs have to be met in order for them to thrive, and one of those needs is having a bit more "territory". I suppose you could look into a C. argi, which is really small, and quite feisty, but it does have an almost damsel-like appearance, which could incite more problems with your established damsels...I hate to sound negative, but I think that restraint is in order again! I'd just hate to see those $2.00 damsels beat the crap out of the $30.00 angelfish (or any fish, really- regardless of price). I am just a bit leery of adding certain fishes to moderate sized tanks with damsels..> Thanks for any and all help you can give!   Marianne <You're quite welcome, Marianne. keep in mind that my recommendations are based upon my experiences and observations, and that I tend to be conservative on stocking. In the end, your best judgment and common sense will have to guide your decision. I'm sure that you'll do what's best for your animals! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: triggers (actually overstocking) so you feel a miniatus, eel, trigger, bird wrasse and h. tusk are too much for a 90 gallon fish-only with a 20 gallon trickle? I had thought that would be fine. <Yes, too much life, too little space. Read re how large these animals get... consider how cramped this system will be. Bob Fenner>

Narrowing the coral species selection? 8/4/03 Thanks much for your reply <Anthony Calfo with the follow-up here> I have been giving some thought to narrowing my range of corals: <very important for long-term success my friend. Focus on families or very specific bio-topes. Not the hodge-podge garden reef aquaria that are so common and rather challenged> My goal is to have a "diverse" group of corals, with different colors along with different shapes.   <understood... and it can be done without mixing unnatural tankmates> I've been thinking about hardy varieties that were attractive, but I haven't found anywhere that explained the problems with a multi-species smorgasbord (probably just haven't been looking in the right place). <good heavens... I suspect that you haven't looked anywhere at all then <G>?!? I can copy the bibles fro the back of my coral prop book for you to pursue more information on the subject. You should also look to find the papers of Eric Borneman on the subject of allelopathy (use that word in a keyword search of our site using the google search too by the way... many FAQs of help there). And of course, take a look at "Aquarium Corals by Eric Borneman> This being said, I really like clams, I like zoanthids (the orange and green variety I have seen is spectacular) and I find pulsing xenia absolutely mesmerizing. <agreed> My thought is to put these species at the top of the previously mentioned triangle rock mounds (6" from the surface?)--my wife insists that the tank be covered with a wood canopies, so I will be using the 440 watt VHO (2 actinic and two daylight bulbs) with fans to provide adequate cooling. <OK> This having been said, I'm not sure how to chose suitable companions to spruce up the rest of the tank.  (I won't need a lot more species, but a few more specimens should liven the place up).  Mushrooms are cool, but I have heard they can be aggressive towards the zoanthids.  Could I add a few more soft corals (i.e pipe organ, star polyps and leather corals) and save the SPS, etc for a later tank?   <a better idea yes> Or if that idea is fraught with peril, can you give me an idea of how to appropriately expand around the clams, zoanthids and xenia or point me in the right direction? <you are already on a good track... begin by avoiding the random mixing of species from vastly different niches like shallow hi-light/hi-flow SPS with deep water LPS or softies. You simply need to research the habitats of the corals you admire and make a list of the most compatible species> Thanks again for your help. Nate <best regards, Anthony>

Trigger Revisited Quick Question: Would a Maroon Clownfish be OK with a Picasso Trigger in a 180 if they start out the same size? <should be fine!  Just monitor the aggression.  Good luck- Ryan>

One Tank-One Hundred Possibilities! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> Later this month I will be setting up a 120 gallon reef tank.  Here is my plan-what do you think? The tank will be a 120 gallon reef ready (4' by 2' by 2') aquarium with a 20 gallon refugium and sump.  My main interest is fish, followed by the weird and the bizarre (lots of which can be found in the hobby). <People- or fishes? You'll DEFINITELY find both in the hobby! LOL> That being said, I plan on slowly (one or maybe two a month) adding the following fish to the tank:  a yellow tang, a royal Gramma, a orchid Dottyback, Jawfish (either yellow head or blue spotted), two Clownfishes, three fairy wrasses <Ideally, trio of two females to one male- one species only> , one mandarin goby, a Firefish, a court jester goby, a shrimp prawn goby, a yellow watchman goby. <I like the choices- particularly the gobies, with the exception of the "Court Jester Goby", which is alternatively known as "Rainford's Goby", a notoriously tricky fish to keep in most newly established (less than a year or two) systems. They need a very developed sandbed with infauna to forage in...> I would also like to add a shoal of schooling fish (4-6 individuals).  My research leads me to believe that these fish will be compatible-do you agree? <I concur, although there might be some initial confrontations between the Dottyback and the Gramma...> As for the school, I like the Anthias, but I'm worried about how difficult they would be to keep fed.  (Is Bartlett's Anthias relatively hardy?) <Any Anthias can be a bit difficult- they feed constantly, and require stable conditions and well oxygenated water. Yes. some are easier than others...Frankly, the people I know who have the best success with Anthias are the ones who have designed their system and population around the unique requirements of these fishes. Personally, this is how I'd do it with these fishes> Cardinals are another possibility as are blue Chromis. <Better choices, IMO- particularly the Chromis> Can you suggest any other commonly available schooling species that would mesh well with the previously listed of species? <I like the Chromis, as indicated above. They are peaceful, for the most part, and are much less expensive and easier to keep than Anthias (which, by the way- do NOT have to be kept in a school). I am sure that you'll enjoy them as much!> Now I move onto the bizarre.  I really like nudibranchs, but it seems like the only one that is really hardy is the lettuce seaslug (would two be too many?). <Well, the type you mention prefer algae, so you need to have sufficient algae growth to support one. I'd limit it to one. Nudibranchs are neat, but I honestly believe that the majority, if not all- are just not good aquarium specimens for long-term maintenance...> I would also like to get a globe urchin (or two) and a black spiny urchin (or two).  (What is the biological function of the orange "eye"?). <If I'm not mistaken, the "eye" to which you refer to is usually the anus in most species! Here's- uh- lookin' at you, kid...LOL> I would also like to keep several giant clams (maxima or maybe squamosa or Hippopus). <Make sure that you can supply them with the proper lighting intensity, placement, and even food, if the species that you're considering requires it> I also plan on getting some feather dusters (if none show up in my rock). <Interesting animals that do well with some dedicated care> Shrimp are also very cool-I am thinking about peppermint shrimp (a few), scarlet cleaner shrimp (a few) and a pair of coral banded shrimp (will this attack other shrimp?)   <Coral Banded Shrimp can and will attack other shrimp if they feel like it! Some ignore other shrimp of similar size, while others feel in necessary to dissect any other shrimp in "their" tank! Be careful if you want one of these guys...> It would be fun to keep an porcelain crab or some sexy shrimp, however, I am worried that clownfish might fight it off-if the clownfish chose a host, would it be safe to place a second host for the crab/shrimp out of the line of sight of the first host? <They can co-exist together in one anemone. However, please make sure that you're up to the challenge (i.e.; lighting, environmental stability, etc. before considering an anemone. The clownfish don't need one to be happy, and many tank-raised clowns have never even been around one! Also, purists might object to the keeping of cnidarians (anemones) and clams in the same system...Something to think about. Please don't feel "obligated" to keep an anemone> It would be relatively simple to have two hosts, each out of the line of sight of each other, see which host the clownfish chose and then place the shrimp or crab on the second host.  I the clown fish chose one host, is it likely they would take up residence at the second host later on? <Anything is possible. To clarify and augment my anemone position: One is a challenge, two is a dice role. If you must keep an anemone, just keep one, at least for some time...> I would also like to get a clean up crew to help with tank maintenance.  According to what I've seen, this would consist of  red-legged and blue-legged hermits (? gallons per crab) and snails (3-5 gallons per snail).  There are of course, many kinds of snails (Astraea, turbo, Trochus, bumblebee)-do you recommend ratio of one type to another, or are all species pretty much interchangeable in what they eat? <I would stick to Trochus, Strombus, and Turbos. I also find that the crabs will be of little value as "algae-eaters", as they will be easily out-competed by your tang for the filamentous algae that they favor. Also, the "Bumblebee Snails" are cool to look at, but they are essentially of little impact as a scavenger, IMO. They do consume some detritus materials, but not to the extent that I'd go out of my way to acquire them as a "cleaner"...Get 'em because they are attractive!> Of course, what reef tank would be complete without some seastars/starfishes (10 gallons per star).  I plan on getting several  Linckia and Fromia. <I'd limit it to one or two. Get the hang of these animals first before attempting to stock greater numbers of them...> I would also like to get some brittle/serpent stars, however, I have read that Ophiarachna and Ophiomastix have been known to eat fishes-is there any amateur-proof method of telling these two species apart from fish safe species, or is there any way of positively identifying fish safe species (it seems all the pictures of striped sea stars that I've seen in books identify safe species-is that true and are there other easy methods to tell the "good" from the "bad"?) <Ahh- glad you asked! There is some great information on these animals in Bob and Anthony's new book, "Reef Invertebrates". Check it out!> Here is a good time to mention my planned lighting-440 watts of VHO powered by an icecap 660 ballast <Okay...Will probably be adequate for anemones or clams if placed high up on the rockwork. In the long run, however, you might be better investing in a metal halide system- perhaps pendants. Yep- MH is more expensive, but offers more flexibility, in terms of the kinds of photosynthetic animals you can keep. And, of course, if the "reef bug" hits, you won't have to invest in new lighting down the line...Consider that!> Lastly, I think the tank would look much nicer with a few hardy coral species.  My tank will have 120 lbs of live rock that I am buying from a friend (augmented by a PVC pipe framework).  I will divide the live rock into two opposing triangles with a channel running between them (as shown on pg 115 of Marine Aquarist, except that the channel will run front left to back right to account for living-room-geometry). <A nice arrangement> On the left triangle, I plan on placing some pulsing xenia, zoanthids and the clams.  On the other triangle and on the sand, I plan on arranging several of the following corals (depending on the actual geometry of my aquascaping and retailer availability specimens):  Euphyllia, Catalaphyllia, Fungia, Favia, Trachyphyllia, Goniopora (how can I tell the hardy species from the non-hardy varieties?), brain coral, carnation coral and/or candy cane coral.  Would all of these "play well" together if they were given 6" from each other and the aforementioned left triangle (more in the case of Catalaphyllia?). <Well, I think that there would be a lot of problems in the long-un with this approach. You've mentioned anemones, clams, LPS corals, non-photosynthetic corals, etc. in one setup. Really a recipe for long-term (or even short-term) trouble. Too many different animals in one tank that are never found with each other. You need to make some choices as to what direction you're gonna take here! I don't want to dampen your wonderful enthusiasm, but you have to think long-term here. You did some good research, but I think that you need to specialize. You've essentially mentioned what could (and should be) populations for several different tanks: A clam tank, a Clownfish/Anemone biotope, an LPS "lagoon", a non-photosynthetic coral biotope, a Seagrass/Catalaphyllia system, a Goniopora Reef Crest system, an invert reef biotope, Anthias tank, etc., etc.! You now know why we "fish nerds" keep more than one tank! Seriously, you need to focus on one area, and try to develop a system that will meet the needs of the animals you intend to work with. This is a very fun process. BTW, I'm not saying that you have to keep only such-and--such an animal with one type of system- but you do need to narrow the focus (and stocking list) a bit! Again, review an modify your equipment selection to suit your animal's needs.> In conclusion (thanks for your patience), I plan on having the following equipment.  The reef ready pluming will run to a Rubbermaid container sump.  This sump will contain the protein skimmer (trying to decide between an Aqua C EV 120 or 180 or Precision Marine Bullet 1). <My vote is for an Aqua C EV 240...go BIG!> Would it be better to have a skimmer rated for 150 gallons or should I go with a skimmer with an even larger capacity? <Larger!> The sump will also contain a Fluval 404 (for mechanical, chemical filtration).  The heaters will reside in the sump.  A pump (what is your favorite brand for quiet/reliability?) <I like Iwaki for dependability, Dolphin for quiet operation> will return the water to the tank.   I also plan on having a 20 gallon refugium.  My thought is to use a t-valve to place the refugium in parallel with the sump.  The output for the refugium will go back to the sump, just before the return pump.  I plan on filling the sump with live sand (# of inches?) and live rock.  Do I need to add anything else? <Lots of different configurations to use with refugia- design and build one that works best for you. Check out DIY sites, like OzReef, and get a copy of Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" for lots of cool ideas on 'fuges!> As for substrate, I plan on using on using two inches of aragonitic sand (when I say sand, I don't mean beach size sand, but millimeter size pebbles, or is that in incorrect use of the term sand?).  I will have two areas of 4-6 inches in depth for the Jawfish. <I'd highly recommend a 4-6 inch bed throughout the tank, with some small pebbles mixed in for the Jawfishes> I plan on using T joints and elbow joints to direct the return water flow into several sets of opposing water streams to create turbulence (goal of 1200 gallons per hour), with more turbulence on the right side than on the left. <Turbulence is good for many animals...> Thank you very much for taking your time to help.  Myself and my future fish friends are very grateful. Nate Terry <My pleasure, Nate! You've done some great research, and have lots of cool and ambitious plans! Just narrow down your focus a bit, and you'll create a tank (or 5 or  tanks!) that your animals will love, and that you can be proud of! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Non-ich-magnets - Hi all, Hope things are going well.  I have several questions for you.  I have a 75 gallon saltwater FO tank with no live rock.  I had considered getting a Klein's butterfly as I have heard that it would be good for a beginner. <Very hardy once established> However, I recently heard in a local fish store that ALL butterflies are prone to parasitic infections and that I should stay away from them unless I was very experienced at dealing with that type of thing. <Sounds like more of a problem with the fish that THEY get. There are several very hardy butterflies that you should have no problem with, including the Klein's.> Please tell me what you  think.  Also, I currently have a pair of false perculas and a royal Gramma.  I had thought of getting a yellow tang at one time, but am scared because I have heard and read that they are all very inclined to ich and also usually bully other fish already in the tank. <Tangs are a little more susceptible to ich than some other fish, but provided that the fish is well acclimated and quarantined in a different tank (check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm) you should have no problem.> Are chances good that if I get one I will have to deal with ich, even with proper care; and would I have problems with them picking on other fish? <If the store you are dealing with consistently has parasitic problems with butterflies and tangs, you may want to find another shop! Simply quarantine and you should be all set. Should something happen it is very easy to treat in the QT.> Also, are there any types of tangs that are less susceptible than others to this disease? <Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm> Any recommendations as to a  fairly peaceful and hardy fish I could add to what I already have that shows itself a lot? <How about building up a good amount of live rock and going for a centropyge angel? ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/index.htm) Tangs and pygmy angels will benefit tremendously from the addition of live rock (the algae and critters are excellent natural food sources). Otherwise, be sure to feed these guys small amounts of a variety of algae based frozen foods several times per day. Good luck! -Kevin> As always, thank you so much for your help and patience with all my questions, James

New Aquarium..55 gallon Dear Crew,      How does this sound for a leaning reefward 55. A Cherub Angel, Flame Hawk, Six line Wrasse and Royal Gramma.  Taking the imperfect measure of 1" of fish for every 4 gal I end up with 13.75" of fish for my 55gal. The above listed equals 14" of potential according to posted expectations. Also keeping in mind the addition of "easy" inverts how did I do.<the fish selection sounds great, they are all colorful and hardy specimens, good luck, IanB> Thanks Rick

Stocking Dilemma... Thank you for the quick reply. <No problem! I know that picking compatible fishes is an important and challenging aspect of the hobby!> Now I comes the hard part, I have to decide which one to get.  I guess there have been worse dilemmas in the history of mankind.  :o) Thanks again, Gusty <Well, maybe it isn't...Maybe, just maybe, if you pick the wrong fish, it could mean the end of all life on earth! Think about it- and then think about the children of the world...LOL. Seriously, it's important to get it right, but if a mistake or two is made along the way, there are always opportunities to turn them into learning experiences. Nothing is ever wasted in this hobby- it can always serve as an example of what not to do! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Yet another stocking question >Hi crew, >>Greetings, Marina today. >Well, my Rabbitfish is doing well (knock wood) thanks to your help.  Eating like a pig though.  It loves the Ocean Nutrition enriched brown algae and the Caulerpa I have planted around the tank.  Won't touch freeze dried krill, or brine shrimp (should I worry about this?) >>No, I wouldn't, not if he's taking the frozen foods.  Try frozen every once in a while, that might do the trick.  Also, fresh (from your grocer) shrimp, squid, and octopus might be a treat. >Overview of my setup (I would think you would know this by heart considering how many times I've e-mailed you guys over the past couple of months :) >>:P >120 gallon, wet/dry, 100 lbs live rock, protein skimmer w/700 gph venturi pump & return, 2 400 gph powerheads.  2 3x32 watt T-8 lights, 1 2x40 watt blue actinic (= 272 watts).  Tank was fallow with just live rock for 6 months before stocking first fish.  I'm now ready for the second fish.  In terms of stocking plan, I was thinking:  some schooling Chromis' (vanderbilti or green); 1 mandarin or Scott's fairy wrasse; >>Way too soon for a mandarin, I would wait on the wrasse unless you're POSITIVE it's taking prepared foods. >1-2 tank raised false percula clowns; inverts.  My questions are: >1) I know mandarins are really tough to keep, but I have had tons of amphipods and copepods during the fallow period.  I haven't seen as many lately, but not sure if it's due to them maturing and burrowing, or the Rabbitfish snacking on them (or the Rabbitfish snacking on the blue-green algae I don't bother to clean because it likes it for a snack).  I really like the psychedelic mandarins, but if I can't keep it, I won't.  If need be, I'd convert the wet/dry to a refugium, and add more amphipods and copepods to harvest for feeding. >>If your heart is set on mandarins and filter feeders, I cannot encourage you enough to go with a 'fuge.  They REALLY do need well-established systems, and I'll let you know that you cannot add enough or variety as will be found in systems using refugia.  Wait to get one set up and going strong, then have at that mandarin. >2) Is it true I need to feed the fairy wrasse's 4 times a day?  I was reading Michael Scott's handbook, and I'm sort of skeptical as it says I need to feed my rabbit 2-3 times a day (it's always eating anyway), and to supplement with zucchini, broccoli, lettuce (which I know is bad). >>;)  What you'll need for success with certain fish is good availability, not just quantity, but quality and VARIETY.  With a 'fuge you'll get that for these little wrasses.  I won't argue with frequent feedings for grazers, but almost nothing is an absolute in this hobby.  I agree with you about *most* of the above listed foods, as the cellulose (if uncooked) is more than many fish can handle.  I like romaine, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens, and I give them a quick blast in the microwave to break down the large cellulose cells.  They are more for psychological benefit (and keeping the belly full) than they are a substitute for naturally occurring foodstuffs. >3) Does having the rabbit preclude the (later) introduction of snails and sea stars as a clean up crew?  It doesn't seem interested in freeze dried inverts (in fact, it spits them out).   Will it behave differently with live? >>Hhhmm.. not sure about that.  I wouldn't worry about it, myself, especially if he's kept very well-fed.  I would expect very different behavior in just about all fishes when live is available. >4) Any other stocking suggestions?  Thanks in advance, Rob >>Consider neon gobies, as well as many other gobies as suitable candidates that, for the most part, won't create a huge bioload.  Also, either Basslets/grammas, or pseudochromids, though they'll compete for the pods.  Enjoy!  Marina

-Looking for another nice fish...- Hello all, <Greetings! Kevin here> I have a 25 gal (tall) reef aquarium filtered by a Prism skimmer and two 301 powerheads with Quickfilter cartridge filters; my siphon overflow dumps into a ten gallon sump containing 2 of the new style Biowheel Pro 30 powered by another powerhead 301 with flow through a high dollar <?> media bag.  The main return flow is also directed through a media bag of the same kind.   I use Reef Crystals, C-Balance calcium/alkalinity additive, and Kent Iodine.  I change about 3 gallons of water weekly and sometimes do a 10 gal change (bi monthly)  my tank seems very healthy and in good shape as far as pest algae (however I don't test for calcium and iodine levels - I've almost always gotten away with just water changes and following additive directions) <Iodine test kits are often inaccurate and hardly necessary. You should regularly test your calcium and carbonate hardness levels though.> The aquarium has about 40 lbs of very nice encrusted live rock and about 15 lbs of live sand full of fauna (spaghetti worms and amphipods).  Livestock presently includes about 20 hermits, 4 types of snails (numbering about 15 total) five 6" button polyp colonies, 1 small Xenia (silver branch), a sand sifting sea star <You'll need much more than 15lbs of sand to keep this critter alive> and a fancy featherduster.  Currently I have only a Yellow Watchman Goby (and a pistol shrimp buddy) <Cool huh? They're great!> in the way of fish. My question is this:  I'm looking for a nice set of 2 or 3 fishes of the same species that are happy together - don't chase each other, are small, and that are compatible with the other species I listed.  Damsels are obviously out - but something of that size or maybe smaller is what I had in mind.  I'm not crazy about Chromis as they seem to not be as hardy as everyone claims (probably due to the juvenile size most often encountered in my experience). <Yes, green Chromis aren't as hardy as the other bulletproof damsels, but are hardy enough. I'd inquire about specimens from the red sea since they always seem to do better and have better color, IMO>  I'm looking for a species that swims in the open water around the middle to top area of tank.  Does any such species exist?  Mated pairs of clownfish sound like my best bet but those are hard to come by and I obviously don't have an anemone host (nor do I think I want one after reading about them on this site). <Clownfish only need anemones in the sea, it's pretty dangerous out there! Luckily they're in your glass box, free from any possible predation. I think a pair of juvenile tank raised clownfish would fit the bill here.> Any suggestions are appreciated - I just don't like the aggression in my tank and don't feel that its fair to the fish (in the case of Damsels) but my Watchman doesn't offer a lot of movement. <I'd go with a pair of Percula or ocellaris clowns, they are usually pretty passive. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks guys.

Stock Exchange? (New Tank Stocking...> WetWebMedia Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> Ok... I've read, researched, and tried to sift through the endless gigabytes of information available to the modern aquarist, and I think I'm ready to get some fish! <Cool! Now the fun begins!> I've read through lots of your marine livestock selection FAQ's and have tried to piece together a list of possible fish for me.  I absolutely love your website and Bob's book, and since I can't trust any advice from a LFS, I am hoping you can check out my list and let me know if it's all right or if it needs a major overhaul. <We'll give it a shot!>   First, here's the system: 75 g with 10 g sump flowing into a 20 gallon tank with a DSB (Bio-active aragonite, sugar grain size... pseudo-live sand).  There will be day/night alternating lighting in display and 20 gallon tank.  1" of same sand in display tank (total system sand is 100-120 lbs), 75 lbs. Fiji LR (almost cured) placed in two triangular peaks.  Iwaki MD-30RXT (nice flow!). No special lighting, only 2 - 40 W fluorescent bulbs. Automatic homemade freshwater top-off (gravity run) and calcium hydroxide dosing.  RODI water.   <Sounds good so far..> My current plan is a fish and hardy invertebrate system (whatever I can do without great lights.) Here's the current planned list (and some of my reservations): 1)  3 blue or blue-green Chromis (too territorial/aggressive? should I leave them out?) <Actually, they are probably some of the least aggressive of the commonly available damsels> 2) 2 or 3 false Percula clowns <Nice fish...They will ultimately pair off, and one will be an "outsider"....If it were me, I'd limit it to two individuals> 3) 1 long-nosed butterfly (I'd love to get one, but I've been unable to get a clear feeling about how this fish would interact with the others on my list.) <Should be fine, but they need to be in a more established system with ample foraging, IMO> 4) 1 Hippo Tang <They can get quite large, and need a lot of space. Despite the popularity of these fishes, I'd pass on them for this tank> 5) 1 Royal Gramma    <A great fish...a "keeper"!> 6) 1 Firefish or purple Firefish <Also a great fish, IMO!> 7) 1 Coral Beauty, 1 Flame Angel (I have seem cautionary remarks about this -- are my two distinct rock formations still not enough in a 75 g tank to keep these two at peace?) <I would not risk it...One or the other, IMO> That's it for my plan - 12 fish in all.  Is the order listed OK for introduction?   <Yep, the order seems fine to me. I'd really pass on the tang, myself> Lastly, I have a 10 gallon quarantine tank that I'm worried about keeping stable -- It seems likely to me that a fish that would otherwise live when put into a bigger tank with more natural surroundings might not make it in such a small tank.  Any advice??  I know quarantine is important... <It is...Remember, quarantine is only a 3-4 week procedure. With proper maintenance and diligence, fish will be fine for this period. You are really only doing one fish at a time in this sized tank, unless you're quarantining a few little guys...Read up more on the process on the WWM site!> Thanks in advance for your response and for your truly amazing website and dedication to helping "Newbies" like me get started on the right foot!  Nathan Saetveit <My pleasure, Nathan! We love what we do here! I hope you enjoy your new system! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: new 55 >Thank you Marina, >>Most welcome, Rick. >I was planning on using the canister filter because the skimmer sump has no mechanical filtration.  My thinking was because there is no mechanical or biological filtration in the sump I would be covering these areas and hedging my bet against the live rock.   >>Understood.  I believe that it would simplify your life to make mechanical filtration of the grossest level necessary, and set it up so that it is accomplished where the water from the tank first enters the sump.  A piece of polyfil or filter sponge/pad is often used (polyfil is what is used to stuff pillows). >Would I be better off deleting the canister from this plan and just go "Berlin"?   >>Only once YOU feel comfortable doing so, my friend.  If you incorporate mechanical in sump as mentioned above, you may feel more comfortable in eliminating the canister eventually. >I could add a filter screen or sock to the tank drain or sump inlet. >>BINGO! >As for the UV would it be better used on my quarantine tank?   >>Great idea, I think that is its best application when we're talking about stocking reef tanks.  When quarantining filter feeders, though, you may wish to eliminate the UV (yes, I am indeed so anal that I q/t EVERYTHING). >(Honestly didn't even think of the filter feeders!)  My QT is a 20 with a CPR Backpack 2r and an Emperor 280. Or the Eheim and UV could go on the QT without the Emperor?   >>If I recollect correctly the Emperor is a HOT (hang on tank) type filter, and as such is more easily cleaned than a canister.  However, for such application it is an "either/or" situation.  The decision would be completely personal, and you could even simply put filter sponges in the canister and keep it going as a refuge for many pods running off the sump until/unless you get a proper refugium up and running.  I wouldn't use it as such in a q/t, as I like to keep the specific gravity lowered for fishes (not for inverts), and if they need medication/treatment that may very well kill the pods off. >Now the fishes, I was a little worried that the Tang would get too large.  So OK for the Flame hawkfish and Centropyge Angel.   >>Yes. >Now I can pick any two (or maybe three) off the following list (I feel like I'm ordering Chinese): Pseudochromis, 2 Gobies, Wrasse 6/8 line or Royal Gramma/Fairy Basslet. >>WARNING: Do NOT mix pseudochromids with Basslets or grammas.  Choose either one or the other. >Cool! As far as inverts.  Reef safe crabs and snails, featherdusters and easy corals (Lighting will be 4x65 watt PC 2 10,000K and 2 Actinic on separate timers).   >>Sounds like a plan, and you are on your WAY! >Great site with great help by folks who give a hoot! Thank you for your help.   >>Again, most welcome. >I want to get this right from the start!  By the way I have kept a FOWLR tank for two years, this is the next step for me. >>Heh, I'm surprised you were able to wait that long.  It was a matter of two or three months of keeping fish only before I HAD to have reef.  ;) >Thanks, Rick >>Best of luck to you.  Marina

-More on order of stocking- Thank you.  I always thought the fish should be added in the order of their aggressiveness so that the least aggressive can establish their territory, i.e. Dottyback and angel last  I'm not doubting your advice, just asking since I am new at saltwater.  Thanks again <Yep, that's the idea, but the angel is the least aggressive of the bunch unless you plan on attempting to keep multiple Centropyge angels.> Addendum: would you recommend getting a very small hawk to avoid problems? <It really doesn't matter unless the hawk is titanic and the dotty/Gramma is minute.> Addendum again: Would the royal Gramma be a better all around choice than the Dottyback as far as trying to keep a fairly peaceful tank?  Thanks again. <Absolutely. Good luck! -Kevin>

Compatibility in a new tank Hi! <Hello! Ryan with you today> We are new to the world of saltwater aquariums, but are quickly becoming enthusiasts! <That's great!>  We recently "inherited" an aquarium from a friend.  It is 150 gallons, with live rock and live sand. <Wish I had similar friends!> It's current inhabitants are a 3 ft. zebra moray, a yellow tang, 2 domino damsels, and a maroon clown.  I think we will be taking the dominos to the local store, as they are spawning and becoming very nasty towards the tang. <A good idea-I encourage you to do so.  Tip: Use 2 nets...> The maroon will probably go as well, as our daughter had her heart set on a Percula (Nemo), and we understand maroons do not get along with other clowns. <True, I wouldn't mix the two.  But a small Percula could easily become a meal for that eel.  The maroon is very aggressive- this may have kept him from being lunch.  May be a safer bet to stick with what works.>  Is taking these to the local fish store the best thing to do? <Could post them on a local fish site for adoption/trade> The store has assured me that as long as they are healthy they will offer them for sale.  I don't want them to be "flushed" or anything. <The retail store makes money from the sale of your fish, as long as they are healthy.  Trust the dollar!> Also, once we are down to just the eel and tang, we would like to add a couple perculas and a few Jawfish.  Would these be appropriate compatibility-wise? <No, not really.  A Jawfish requires a deep sand bed to thrive- and the clowns would need to be purchased large to have any chance.>  Can you suggest some additional species that would be wise choices as well (our main concern being compatibility, but also looking at hardiness and interesting color and behaviors)?  <If you have filtration capable on handling another big producer, I would look into a wrasse or lion.  Very hardy, interesting fish with big personalities.  Stay away from fish that require a high level of care for a few years, you'll enjoy your tank a great deal more.  Best of luck! Ryan>  Thanks for your help! Alison

-Order of stocking- Hello, I hope all is going well with the gang there. <That it is, I hope all is well with you as well!> I have a couple of questions for you:  Right now I have a pair of false Percula clowns in a 75 gallon F/O tank.  I want to eventually add a flame hawk, a dwarf angel and a royal Gramma.  In what order would you recommend?   <Lets see... I'd put the hawk last, the other two wouldn't really matter.> Also, if I chose to go with a bi-color Dottyback instead of the royal Gramma would it be compatible with the others, and if so what order stocking for them? <It would be, but I'd put it in before the hawk, Dottybacks can be aggressive. Still, the order with these critters isn't imperative, you should have success any way you choose so long as the hawk isn't large enough to eat the Dottyback or Gramma. Good luck! -Kevin>   Thanks for your help, James

Building A Cool Community (Stocking) Kind crew, <Scott F. your Crew member today!> I recently upgraded from a 30 gal to a 75 gal. (the 30 sprung a leak, it was about 20 years old). <Hey- talk about getting your money's worth from a tank! Not too bad!> I managed to transfer all from the 30. Two Ocellaris clowns (paired), a lemon damsel, cleaner shrimp (Lysmata), feather duster and a few hermits. Only 30 lbs live rock at the moment, obtaining another 30 uncured from gulf-view, end of the month (adding more next year) and a friend in a few weeks will provide a cup or so of LS to seed my 4" DSB. <Sounds nice!> If all goes well, and QT set up I should be able to start stocking in September <Yes! Good for you! I'm stoked already that you're quarantining! LOL> Hoping to run my list past you. The must have fish is the longnose butterfly, (reason for 75), an additional cleaner shrimp (2 total),  5 blue green Chromis, and a Royal Gramma Basslet. Along with my existing 2 clowns and damsel. (not sure about him, so far he's been with the clowns over a year and has been acting civil) This would be adding 7 fish and 1 shrimp, making a total of 10 and 2 along with the duster and hermits. Too crowded? <Well, I'd say you'd be about maxed out on stocking at that point. And, as you suggested, I'd keep an eye peeled on the damsel. Even though it will be a new tank, they can often adapt a "this whole tank is MINE" attitude in no time. The Longnose Butterfly is a great fish, but they can be just a bit shy at first. The added stress of a harassing damselfish can be a problem, if it is left unchecked. Also, be sure to add the Butterfly as soon as possible after the tank is stabilized, so that he can become part of the "pecking order" quickly. I still am concerned about the damsel, though. Clowns can be a bit feisty in some systems, depending on the species, so watch them, too. The Gramma is also an excellent fish, and will settle in nicely. They can be a it secretive at first, so the damsel may or may not be a problem for him/her. The Chromis will act as "dither" fish, to help draw away some of the aggression, I'll bet.> I thought about a threadfin butterfly to compliment the longnose, but not sure how the two would work together and also would my shrimp and hermits be safe? <The threadfin gets fairly large, and in a 75, the potential interactions with the butterfly would likely be problematic. One or the other, IMO! But I think that Threadfin needs a larger tank, for greater long-term success> If this fish would work, I would bypass the Chromis and Basslet. I would like to try keep my tank understocked, and figured it would take about a year to slowly add the fish. Any thoughts would be appreciated. <Your patience will really make a difference here! As mentioned previously, my biggest concern about this tank is the addition of some initially shy fish into a "pecking order" that has a well-established damsel as the "alpha" fish> If I can add, Currently in the tank I have a mesh bag of the crushed coral from the 30, it was UG setup. I figured I'd have to wait until the new rock is added to remove? Or can I take it out sooner? It's been in there for 2 weeks. <You could leave it in there, in my opinion> Thanks, Dave K <A pleasure, Dave. Keep up with your admirable patience, and be sure to observe everyone carefully as you go! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

A New System- And A Stocking Toss-Up! G'day! Rob from Australia here! <G'day, Rob- Scott F. with you today!> I am currently in the process of planning my first marine aquarium! It's really exciting and I'm completely hooked! <Cool! And it's just going to get more fun!> However some advice would be really, really appreciated. My plans for the tank are as follow: 60 gallon tank(36" x 24" x 16"), Eheim canister filter, 2000 l/h protein skimmer, 3 x  1100 l/h powerheads (one for sump return/skimmer and two in tank for circulation), and a UV filter. Lighting will be 2 x 30W high intensity fluorescent tubes and 1 30w actinic tube all to be set on timers. Heating will be by a good quality 300W unit. I am planning to stock the tank with about 20kg of live rock and a 4" layer of sand (both very good quality legally available from the Northern Australian Reefs) <Sounds good so far...I like the idea of aggressive skimming, and U/V, although what I tend to categorize as an "extra" luxury item, is very helpful for long-term maintenance of tanks. About the only suggestion that I might make is that you consider a sump-based system instead of reliance on the Eheim for the primary filtration. Eheim's are good- don't get me wrong, but I've found that sump-based systems offer greater flexibility and performance for anything from Fish Only systems, to FOWLR, to full-on reef systems. Besides- they give you options for the future! Trust me on this- one day, the "reef bug" will bite! And when it does- you'll already have a viable system in place! Just a thought...> As far as livestock goes:     1 Frillfin/Mombasa Lionfish (Pterois mombassae), 2 Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) and one Bubble Tip Anemone (My local marine fish supplier can obtain a pair of clowns already bonded with a bubble tip!). <Well- I like the lionfish, but the fish may ultimately produce to much metabolic waste for this sized tank...Maybe down he line? The idea of Tomato Clowns already in an anemone is cool, but you do need to consider the needs of anemones. They require extremely bright light and stable chemistry...Get some experience with the basics of fish and invert husbandry first, and then you'll achieve great success with anemones! And- you don't need an anemone for success with clowns!> Whew! Now that's all out of the way, my questions! I have read (and reread and reread.....) your sight and have found it to be an absolute godsend! I am fairly confident that my setup is large enough and with adequate filtration and lighting for the proposed population, however.......as it's my first tank a nod of approval from the experts would be fantastic! I do have some doubts though: are the pumps and lighting adequate or overkill! <No- I think they are adequate. Perhaps a bit low, believe it or not!> I know that anemone require good light and water movement, but lion fish are susceptible to bright light! <Yep- kind of a toss up here- and I'm glad you're thinking of this! It is a potential problem...However- WHEN you are ready for the anemone (and the lionfish), be sure to have sufficient darker areas for him to retreat to now and then..> Do I have sufficient live rock? Would you suggest some form of nitrate control to protect the anemone? Any suggestions/hints you could give would be greatly appreciated! <I think that you're on the right track with the rock and sand. You could always add/remove rock as desired/need. I'd give lot of thought to the lighting and stocking issues here...So much to learn. Do a little more research on the basic aspects of keeping these animals...and then modify our plan accordingly, and-perhaps- adjust your equipment selections to suit the population and needs of the animals. You're doing well- you WILL be successful...Have fun with this project! We're here when you need us!> I apologize for the length and (to my mind) trivial query but your ideas and suggestions would be a real boost to my confidence. I have always dreamed of having this exact collection of reef critters, having come across them many time whilst snorkeling in Queensland. I never thought I could do it until I came across your website. So many, many thanks for that. I eagerly await your response. Best regards, R. Boyes Australia <Our pleasure to be of service! Thanks for stopping by! Regards, Scott F>

Newbie stocking questions >Thanks Marina, when we were waiting for your letter we changed a lot of stuff.  The price of all the fish was $496.00! So instead we are going to get 4 species each: 1 long horned cowfish 2 longnose hawks 3 convict tangs 2 tailbar (radiata) lionfish 2 Wimplefish 2 yellow tangs 2 dwarf zebra lions And my brother wants something that is small and burrows do you know of any?   >>Michael, PLEASE, for the sake of the animals, most of which are wild-caught, do NOT do this in this manner.  PLEASE buy at least one of the books I suggested to you.  Your system, unless GREATER than 500 gallons, is going to be greatly overstocked.  The Wimplefish are poor choices for beginners, as are the tangs, which WILL fight each other.  You can also expect the carpet-surfing longnose hawkfish to QUICKLY become feeders for the lionfish. >I want to surprise him. And I do like the lions the most. also my brother says that someone told him that if we don't put coral in the aquarium the fish will die, is this true? >>No, this is UNTRUE. >I also found that live rock is expensive do you know any site that is cheap and we can buy a tank at? Thanks >>First buy the book, Michael.  I cannot in good conscience suggest a place without knowing for sure that you are becoming educated in what these animals require for their care.  I do understand that this is quite exciting, it's why I love it, too.  But it is for the benefit of the animals that I will insist you and whoever is helping you learn FIRST, then decide upon your purchases.  You came to me for advice, for *good* advice, and this is the best I can give you, I promise.  Please buy the book, it will explain in further detail what you're going to need than I can here, as well as explain the compatibility problems with the fish you've selected.  Marina --Addendum-- >Sorry, I forgot this if you go to marine depot live and then go to tank cleaners (on site) which crew (as they call it) will not be eaten by the fish? It doesn't matter what size it is because we can get more than one. >>Michael, you're getting ahead of yourselves here, no need to worry at this point about cleanup crews.  I implore you and the adults financing this venture to PLEASE do some reading FIRST.  Marina

Compatibility for 75 gallon clown tank - 7/24/03 Thank you. By "trashing" my filter I assume you mean it not being able to keep up with the ammonia buildup from the food? <Yes. That is the correct assumption.>  Also, could you please recommend any type of fish that would be compatible with clowns, dwarf angel and bi-color Dottyback?  I would like to find some that are fairly easy to feed and are hardy; and could possible keep more than one of. <How about the flame hawkfish or bi-color or Sailfin blennies? These are very hardy choices (after proper quarantine and acclimation>  I had considered a goby, but I don't have a sand bottom like I read they like and need. <Good idea. Without a sand bottom, I think it would be cruel to keep such a fish out of his environment -PM>  Any recommendations you may have would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks again, James

-Fish order- Thank you for your advice; on your stocking suggestions:  I read it is best to add fish according to how aggressive they were.  You mentioned putting the angel first, but out of the three fish I mentioned, aren't they the most aggressive? <Flame hawks and Pseudo's become much more aggressive than a centropyge angel. The thought process behind that ordering was to put the angel in because they won't mess with anybody, next the pseudo because they can become a little aggressive, and lastly the hawk because IMO they are the most aggressive out of the bunch.> Sorry for all the questions, but really trying to learn. <I hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks again, James

Lionfish tankmates and so >Hi, >>Greetings, Marina here.  Sorry for the late reply! >I'm 14 so you might have to make stuff more simple. In a few weeks we will get ether 55,75,or 120 gallon tank and these fish: 2 flame angels 2 French angels 1 Longhorned cowfish   4 Longhorned hawkfish <no such animal to my knowledge> 2 snowflake moray eels 2 tail bar lionfish <?> 2 red volitans lion fish Some kind of cleaner and 8 more species, maybe. >>First, slow down, be sure you have some good books (Bob Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is a good beginning), and then, after learning a bit about the animals you're interested in, THEN decide what you want to keep vs. what you actually CAN keep, and THEN decide on your tank.  Larger is definitely BETTER with salt! >My first question is which tank will suit us best?   >>The biggest you can get. Second, will the lion fish fight and will they eat the other fish? >>The lions will NOT fight with each other, the angels WILL (and they are FAR more difficult to keep, especially for beginners--eliminate them from your list).  The first rule of thumb when buying fish is to expect them ALL to eat whatever animals will fit (or they think will fit) in their mouths.  This is especially true of the lions.  The moray eels will shred whatever they want to eat, and though easy keepers, not easy to handle for beginners (nasty bites, too). >Third, what other tank mates are there? >>More than we can shake any stick at, Michael.  First, get this book, and maybe one or two others, from authors such as Martin Moe, Jr., John Tullock, or C.W. Emmens (to name a very few).  Also, start spending time reading through this site and others, there are many dedicated specifically to keeping saltwater fish.  For someone new I recommend staying with one site, this one is very good as it's not so overwhelming as others.  Also, much of what is in Bob's book, as well as many of the magazine articles he's published can be found here.   >>This will lead you to your first order of business--deciding WHAT you really must keep.  Stay away from invertebrates, especially anemones, for the moment.  We want success.  Once you decide what you really want to keep (I have a feeling you really like the lionfish), this will lead you towards making the best-suited housing decision you can.  Again, BIGGER IS BETTER.  Once you've made those two decisions, then issues such as filtration can be better addressed.  I'm going to leave it at this for now, and as you make your decisions, if you need more help we're here for you.  Also, register on the forums at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and we have a GREAT "newbie" forum where you can get more "real time" answers to your questions.  In the meantime, buy at least that one book (you can find it at amazon.com) and have fun.  Marina

Lionfish and Blue Surgeon >Hi Crew, >>Greetings, Joel, Marina here today. >I only discovered this website a couple of days ago and I love it. I'm in the process of setting up a 600L tank with several powerheads, 1 protein skimmer and large wet/dry sump filter. >>Excellent, now I must convert in my head here...600L = close to 300 gallons U.S., yeah?  Good sized system. >I plan to have approx 80-100kg of live rock with medium lighting. I am trying to decided what it would be best to stock my tank with... I'm thinking a volitans lionfish and blue surgeon initially, are these two fish compatible? >>As long as the surgeon is definitely too large (not just in our opinion, but in the lion's opinion, too) to fit in the lionfish's mouth, yes, they'll be just fine.  Do cycle the tank by dropping in some raw shrimp or such, instead of using fish to begin the nitrification cycle, my friend. >... maybe a snowflake moray down the track?? What do you think? >>I'm wary of the snowflake, I've heard many a story retold where they are able to nail something such as lionfishes, and will often take other fish in the night.  Not even a fin or feather to been seen. >What other fish would be good to have with lionfish and a blue tang in this size tank?? >>I'm inclined to go with something like a larger angelfish, an annularis is a consideration.  Also, some of the larger wrasses (Coris gaimard) would be FANTASTIC--active, COLORFUL, and easy to keep.  Filefishes as well as any other Scorpaenidae (frogfishes, anglers) and triggers (go with mild-tempered such as Niger or Bluethroat).  If you really like something in the moray family, then let me introduce you to the Zebra moray--Gymnomuraena zebra--a more pet like animal I have NEVER known.  They can get quite large, yet are INCREDIBLY docile.  I worked in a shop with one easily as big around as my thigh, and he would present himself to be scratched (under the jaw, thank you very much), and would allow himself to be COMPLETELY removed from the water.  This fish was like a dog, he was so tame.  Far better choice, in my opinion, than the cranky snowflake (the only moray I've been bitten by, twice).  Tobies are another consideration, as are certain snappers and Sweetlips.  If you can keep tangs and angels well, then there are also many good butterfly choices--Copperband, Raccoon, Longnose--for instance.  I do hope this helps!  Best of luck to you, Marina

Stocking Plan Overview Hi Guys, <Hi! Ryan on the other end today> I am finally getting ready to start my first marine tank! I have been reading stuff on and off for the last year so I have at least tried to find out as much as I could. I Just want to make sure that I understand how to cycle my tank properly. <And the ecosystem you create will flourish as a result> My tank will be: 650L (6*2.5*2 but only filled to 2 so I can make some waves) with: AquaC 240 protein skinner <Nice choice> Deep sand bed <4-6 inches is best> I am building a FOWLR. After the water and sand are in and the SG, pH and temp are fine I put in my live rock. Do I spread the live rock over the sand to get the best transference from the rock to the sand or place it as I want it to be? <Place it as you want to be.  Have you considered using PVC pipe for the foundation?  Zip-ties may be very useful in your aquascaping as well.  http://wetwebmedia.com/lrplacingfaqs.htm> Then I measure the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate until the first two are 0. <Yes>  At this point the tank has reached an equilibrium. <We hope> If I add a fish now wont this upset the tank again and cause another cycle? <In a sense, but now there are beneficial bacteria in your system that will convert nitrite and ammonia.  The live rock and deep sand bed should cover nitrate.>  I guess what I'm after is how and when to add the fish and an approximate time scale. <Truly depends on the livestock you'd want to keep.  Big producers 'rock the boat' a little more than corals, smaller fish etc.> Also should I add my fish in a particular order? I want to eventually have: emperor angle, Valentini's puffer, threadfin butterfly and a antennata lion. <Start with the toughest fish and work backwards.  Here's how I would do it: Add the lion, wait a couple months and then add the puffer.  3-6 months later, introduce the angel.  Replace the butterfly with a more appropriate tankmate.  It's too finicky an eater for this group.  A wrasse would fit nicely into this mix.>  Any thought, comments on this? Hope I'm on the right track. Thanks for all your help <I'm jealous!  Sounds like quite a setup you have in the works!  Best of luck-Ryan> Cheers, Adam L

-Bullet proof blennies and gobies?- Good afternoon. <Good early morning!> I hope this question will help a lot of us to stop wasting money and the lives of fish. Can you tell me what type of blenny and goby are the best to have in a tank (will not starve)? <Since the list of gobies and blennies that fare well in aquariums is endless, it's easier to say which ones don't do well. I can't think of any goby other than the Catalina goby that does not fare well, and can think of no blennies. Mandarin and scooter dragonettes are often referred to as gobies or blennies and more often than not starve to death, stay away from these guys unless you plan to do tons of research first. -Kevin>

Large Aquarium with Extra Large Fish. Bob,<IanB here> I have a 240 gallon FO  tank. which has one huge Mac angel, and a huge Sohal tang, and a huge Blochii tang, and a adult emperor angel. The fishes are at least 1 ft long.<WOW they are some large fish...I hope you have a couple of good protein skimmers for this aquarium (these fish are very large and messy eaters.)> I want to put a small queen trigger fish.<I wouldn't advise it> I had a small one before, but it was a big one. Now if I get a small one, and it needs to grow, will it bite and punk up my other fish? <possibly> Or would it be ok, since I'm starting off with a small queen trigger? <I personally wouldn't add anymore fish to your already stocked aquarium> Thanks Linstun <IanB>

- Marine Fish Stock List - Hello WWMCrew, Well I have finally decided to set up that marine aquarium... the tank was used as a African cichlid tank and now I have converted it to a marine tank.. it has approximately 30-40 lbs of live and base rock which has been cycling for the past month and a half... I did all the test yesterday and they all came out looking good.. and now I am ready to add some fish.. I have done some research into the fish I want but I am not sure if they would be compatible or not and that's where I am hoping u can help me... here are the fish... 1. Cephalopholis miniata 2. Arothron hispidus 3. Melichthys vidua 4. Echidna nebulosa 5. Choerodon (Lienardella) fasciata 6. any of the larger angelfish (i.e Pomacanthus maculosus, Pomacanthus imperator, and Pomacanthus annularis) or any of the larger tangs (i.e Acanthurus lineatus) that is all at the moment and the size of the tank is 240 gallons... <I think most of those would work fine, but I'd hold of on doing the entire list. Additionally, for a list like this to work, you're going to need a lot more live rock, at least one pound per gallon, and you'll want to keep the water flow and circulation brisk. If/when you start to execute this list, please add only one fish every five to six weeks, and give them time to get used to the new surrounds before adding another fish. Also, don't forget the quarantine... wouldn't want to be breaking down 240 gallons of rock and water to catch a fish to treat it for ich.> Jiwan <Cheers, J -- >

Long nosed hawkfish temp requirements Hello I have a 70 gallon fish - only  temperate marine aquarium.  I live in England and the tank stays at 70 -72 ' F . I have a couple of native Blennies and 2 small native wrasse.   I  have recently added a 2" Picasso trigger which seems to have adjusted to the cooler water without any ill effects. (just as the guys at LFS said).   <Picasso Triggerfish are very adaptive to semitropical water temperatures, as their natural environment ranges south to the South African coast.> However,  they could not tell me if the Long nosed Hawkfish would be happy at the lower temp, just that it is a very hardy fish. <Although restricted to tropical areas, i.e.: the Indo-Pacific Ocean/Red Sea (with a lower temperature limit of 75 degrees F), with careful acclimation and a feeding regime mindful of the animal's slower metabolism in the cooler water, it should be fine, as long as the temperature remains in the 70's F> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance Matt <Best, Chris>

Greek Reefing with Wild-caught Fishes 7/14/03 Hello Anthony! <cheers, Thanassis> A few days ago I dived close to my summer house and caught some small fishes with a net. I have them now in my quarantine tank and watch them closely. <interesting> They are really interesting to watch. The fishes are the following: 1 small grey damsel 4 blennies (Parablennius zvonirimi) 2 gobies (seem like Gobius paganelus) 1 wrasse (Symphodus tinca) The most interesting to me are the blennies. I like their behavior . They are really smart. <agreed... very fun fishes> I am trying to choose which of the above fishes would be compatible with my new reef aquarium. <be careful of the damsel and wrasse for aggression and unruliness in the long term> I have decided to include small, peaceful fishes (2 Dartfishes, some neon gobies, a pair of False percula clown, and perhaps some of the fishes I referred above). I have also selected some hermit crabs, which are relatively big and move really fast. I am not sure they are safe for my new reef.   <likely not... most are predatory omnivores> I saw one of them eating a small shrimp that I had collected by change. Which kind of hermit crabs are the best for the reef? <most hermits in the reef are a calculated risk... I recommend very few if any. There are much safe scavengers to be had like some snails, brittle starfish, and various gobies> Thanks, Thanassis <kindly, Anthony>

Compatibility questions  <Morning! Ryan here> I would like to thank all of your staff for the excellent service you have provided thus far. I truly appreciate it. <Truly a team effort> I was wondering if there would be compatibility issues with the following-- Porcupine puffer; Picasso trigger; Yellow tang; Snowflake eel. <Yes, there will always be issues with predators like this.  The true question is, are you, as an aquarist, capable of overcoming them?  The tang is a little finicky for this setup, but acceptable.  The porcupine puffer could easily make this eel a meal in a few years.  Make sure he has lots of rockwork to feel safe.  How big is this tank?  Not sure which member of the family Diodontidae you have, but they get large.>  The biggest question is regarding the eel. Do they normally disturb these breeds of fish, and do these triggers normally pick at the snowflake? <Yes, you'll have to constantly monitor aggression in this setup.  Not to mention that these are all big eaters/waste producers.  Fish like this can spoil water quickly if you're not on top of it.  Good luck! Ryan>

Stocking Up! (Stocking Plan For 220 Gallon Tank) Editor's note: Something was missing from this email when it was posted. Our apologies to the sender.Hello again WWM crew, <Scott F. your Crew Member tonight> I tried sending this a couple weeks ago, but I don't think it got there. Sorry if you already replied, I searched the FAQs and couldn't find it. <Sorry if we let you slip through the cracks...happens every once in a while...> I've got a few questions on aquascaping and stocking a new 220g. Here's the general system components so far (all still dry at this point): 220g (72x24x30H) 2x20g sumps 50g Rubbermaid ag tub refugium w/DSB Berlin turbo XL skimmer 3x Iwaki MD55 pumps running through four SCWDs 8x39W T5 fluorescents. I plan to get the LR/LS/detritivore pkg from Tampa Bay Saltwater (I can drive over and pick the stuff up from them). I'm a bit worried about the tiger tail cucumbers (8 of them in the kit). Are they generally ok? Should I put a few in the refugium? <They are usually fine detritivores... I am not a huge fan of them, but they do a pretty good job of consuming detritus found in the sand bed. Sometimes, they do too good a job, and can decimate the sand bed infauna if kept in large numbers, IMO...I'd keep 'em out of the refugium...> Should I leave them all at the store? The kit also includes 440 lbs LR, 220 lbs LS,  440 blue leg hermits, 110 Turbo Snails, 5 Serpent or Brittle Stars and 5 Pistol Shrimp. Sounds like an awful lot of crabs and snails, will they strip the tank of vegetation for future fish (see list below)? <Well, there are lots of "formulas" for how many of these creatures you need for various sized tanks...Frankly, I have always felt that these numbers are overkill for most systems. I mean, many of these creatures are beneficial, but there may not be enough nuisance algae growth to sustain large populations indefinitely. Also, there may be some "attrition"-some of them will die, be consumed by predatory fishes, etc., but the numbers in these kits seem to be sufficient to overcome that.> Should I put some of the other critters in the refugium? <I would limit these additions to the snails...the crabs may potentially prey on desired macro algae and micro fauna...> The tank will be setup as a peninsula with one short end against a wall, viewable from three sides. I planned on arranging the rock as a spur from the end with the overflow about halfway across the tank and a small atoll at the other end with a channel between them. <Sounds a lot like my reef tank...I like the aesthetic and maintenance opportunities such a layout affords...And it gives the fish a lot more room to swim, IMO, than the traditional "wall of rock".> I tried to attach an image. The average sand depth will be about 3-4" with the deeper area inside the atoll about 4-5", hopefully for critters that like deeper sand. <Well thought out...I like the idea!> Here's my first stab at a stocking list (Order of introduction, Species, Quantity): 1. Green Chromis 7-9 2. Firefish 3-5 <Some people will say that you'll end up with just one, as they may all slowly beat the you-know-what out of each other, until their is just one...It's a judgment call. In a tank of your size- with lots of hiding spaces, your chances for success are better> 3 Yellow head Jawfish 2-3 4 Percula Anemonefish 3-5 5 Neon Goby (Gobiosoma oceanops) 2-3 or Sharknose Goby 2-3 (Gobiosoma evelynae) 6 Highfin Blenny or Jeweled Blenny or Midas Blenny or Redlip Blenny 7 Blackray Shrimp Goby 1-2 or Orangespotted Shrimp Goby 1-2 or Spottail Shrimp Goby 1-2 <Love the whole blenny/goby thing here! I always like small fishes in large tanks- it looks interesting, and is nice for the fishes> 8 Foxface Rabbitfish 1-2 <I'd limit it to one. They get large, and can be feisty with other Foxface> 9 Pacific Double-saddle Butterflyfish 1-2 or Barberfish 1-2 <If you are thinking about corals, most butterflies may be a risk> or Schooling Bannerfish 2 or Big Longnose Butterflyfish 2 <A better choice with corals than the Doublesaddle> 10 Flame Angel 1-2 <One, please> or Cherub Angel 1-2 or Genicanthus Angel 1-2 <Best choice for reef systems> 11 Six Lined Wrasse 2-3 <I like the six line...one or two max> or Rippled Coral Goby (Gobiodon rivulatus) 2-3 or Redheaded fairy wrasse 12 Atlantic Chain Moray <You were doing so well...! This fish is a heavy feeder/eliminator- and may munch on your goby collection...pass...please?> or Snowflake Moray <ditto> How does the overall order of introduction look? Is this too many fish? <Well, it could be too many fishes if you go for several of each...You might want to keep it to 1 or two of the smaller guys... They still add up and contribute to the bioload...My advice is to add the fishes from your list slowly and see how the tank population interacts with each other and evolves... If they are overcrowded, the fishes will show it in their behaviors...> If  so, what to leave out? <The morays, for one thing! Think about the butterflies, too. I like the wrasses and the gobies/blennies. The other moderate sized fishes can make for a colorful and interesting display...> Is it ok to add 7-9 Chromis as the first fish in the system or should I start with something else? I plan to let the system cycle then add the detritivores and let it stabilize for another four to eight weeks before adding any fish. <Good plan! I like the idea of cycling without fishes. You can add the Chromis first, but I think I'd get the little bottom-dwelling guys settled in first, before the super-active Chromis arrive> Is a 20g QT tank big enough to accommodate 9 Chromis all at once? <With good filtration and husbandry- yes> I would eventually like to add both soft and hard corals and Tridacnid clams after adding additional lighting (more T5's or MH).  Which of the Angels listed (10) is least likely to bother clams? <The Genicanthus species are your safest bet> The moray is still a big question at this point, will it eat any shrimp I put in the tank? <It could... > [Ed: rest is missing... sorry.]

Finding Nemo - But Losing His Tankmates! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. at the keyboard tonight> I was wondering if the fish in the "tank Gang" in the new movie Finding Nemo could be kept in the same tank in real life. The fish are a clownfish, Moorish idol, yellow tang, black and white humbug, Royal Gramma, blowfish, starfish, and a cleaner shrimp? Thanks. <Well...The Moorish Idol is just a bad fish to even think about keeping, IMO. They have a terrible time adapting to captive diets, and many die in a matter of weeks in captivity. Even public aquariums are very cautious with them...Shame on those money grubbing Disney folks for implying that a Moorish Idol is a suitable fish in captivity (and implying that hobbyists are evil...sheesh! Can you tell I have "issues" with them? LOL). My advice to hobbyists- Leave the Moorish Idol in the Ocean, where it belongs! A blowfish (i.e.; porcupine puffer fish) is really not a good choice with the other guys, unless you want "Nemo" to become a tasty treat for him! The rest of the fish seem to be okay, assuming that you have a large enough tank with plenty of hiding spaces and room for everyone to establish territories. That's my 2 cents worth! Regards, Scott F.>

Small Aquarium - with Small Fish I have a 35gallon saltwater setup that has been stable for a little while and I have 2 black convict blennies and 2 fire fish in it I was wondering if you could suggest some beautiful calm peaceful fish for my tank. THANK YOU <Maybe a six line wrasse...they are normally pretty peaceful...or if you want to spend the big bucks you can purchase a mystery wrasse Pseudocheilinus ocellatus-one of my favorite fish. Do look at are fish pages on WWM for more ideas... good luck, IanB> **RICH H.**

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