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FAQs about Marine Livestocking 6

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Centropyge bicolor, the Oriole or Bicolor Angel, Fiji, where it is a good aquarium species...

Saltwater Stocking - 2/17/2006 75 FO Hi Lisa <<Hi Elise!>>, I need your advice once again.  My new 75 gallon FO saltwater is up and running fine, so far.  We cycled it with Bio-Spira, live sand and 5 damsels, which worked out great.  However, I took the damsels back to the LFS because they were aggressive little things and I feared for my future fish. <<Can be quite aggressive; more so with age.>> I replaced them with three percula clowns that seem very happy and we just adore them.  Do you have any suggestions for future stocking?  I've been researching and I am totally overwhelmed.  We had wanted a blue tang (Dory) but from what I've read my tank isn't big enough. <<Unfortunately, you're right.>> Basically, I just want fish that will get along and not get too big for my tank. I'd like to keep the tank somewhat under stocked; I want to avoid trouble as much as possible. <<Look at Basslets, gobies, cardinals, wrasses.>> Can I get an angel or something else bigger than the clowns? <<You could.  I would look into a Flame Angel, or another Centropyge.  Look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/ and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/loricula.htm.   Do keep in mind that these may or may not be reef-safe, should you decide to go that route later, and do MUCH better with live rock, as do most reef fish.  I highly recommend you add some.>> Are there small fish compatible with clowns that I could get 2 or 3 of? <<Some green or blue Chromis would be a great peaceful addition.>> I'm open to any suggestions; my only rule is I'm keeping the clowns! <<I don't blame you, I love mine ?>> Thanks so much for your help! <<Anytime.  Lisa.>> Elise

Stocking, SW, making a plan   2/14/06  FI I'm looking more for an opinion here than anything else. I have a 40g flatback hex, w/ SeaClone 100 skimmer, AquaClear 3000 powerhead, ~14lbs of live rock, and ~25 lbs of Tufa which is at least partially seeded after these past two months. I also have a whisper 40 power filter which I haven't decided whether I should use or not (for supplemental mechanical/chemical filtration). <I would if I had it laying about> Currently the tank has these crustaceans in it: 2 small scarlet hermit crabs, 1 larger blue-banded hermit crab, 2 emerald crabs, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 cleaner shrimp, <A Lysmata species I hope... not a Stenopid> 1 fire shrimp, 10 small snails (the name alludes me at the moment), 1 average sized snail, 1 horseshoe crab, and 2 queen conches. <Snails and conches aren't crustaceans> Currently all seem happy, I am concerned about the horseshoe and emerald crabs, but as of now they seem healthy. <Okay> In the way of fish, there is a Bicolor Blenny and a Coral Beauty Angelfish. <A forty is too small for...> I would like to add some small(ish) fish to add some more color. I've already created for myself one large stocking problem with a small yellow tang who had a certain love of genocide (he took out my previous coral beauty), I would like to avoid another. Suffice it to say, the tang is now back with his mates at my LFS. I'd like to have 2-3 of something small that lives in a shoal, like firefish, but wanted to get a more experienced opinion before I commit myself to anything. What are my possibilities? If I have none, what is posing the biggest impediment to the possibility? <the size limit of your system... please see WWM...> Calcium: 300, ph 8.2, dKH 14, ammonia 0.25, nitrites 0, nitrates 12.5. Currently waiting for the biological filter to adjust before adding any livestock, but wanted to have a plan first. James Tanis <Then develop one... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm and the FAQs files linked above... your plan will gel... I assure you. Bob Fenner>

Marine stocking guidance  02/12/06   180 Reef Hello to all. <Hi back to the same> I need some help regarding livestock for my system.  It's a 150 with 220lbs of LR, 1" sand base, Euro reef skimmer with ozone, 30 gal DSB refugium with Chaeto, 10x turnover, and 4x65w PC.  Water params are 0's, PH is 8.4, and salinity is .0125.   <...> Current pets: 9 large turbo snails, 24 blue legged hermits, 3 emerald crabs, 1 fire shrimp, 1 dragon goby, 1 yellow tang, small colony of yellow polyps, blue mushrooms, and green mushrooms.  Oh, and we have 8 blue-green Chromis nearing the end of their quarantine.  The wife and I really enjoy our current mix and all of them seem to be thriving as well. Using LiveAquaria as a basic pictorial reference and guide, I assumed my choices were vast, but having read through tons of FAQ I've realized that "Reef Safe" doesn't mean it will mix well with what we have. <A very relative term>   We plan on adding a few more low/moderate light polyps and mushrooms, and as our final addition a flame angel.  I was planning on a six line wrasse, a fridmani, and a bicolor Foxface, but after reading your site the wrasse and Foxface seem to be bad news for my crusties. I know that butterflies love polyps, <Not all...> but I've also read that Hemitaurichthys polylepis would be suitable with my current mix.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I'm not asking for you guys to stock my tank, I just need a little help with which types to consider.  One of the aspects about the hobby I enjoy most is the research, so if you guys could throw a few hints my way I'll take it from there.  One last question - could I add another fire shrimp, would they become a pair or just rivals from not having been added at the same time? <Mmm, nope. Room for two here> Thanks for all your help! <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Trade-Offs   2/10/06   90 FO Hey WWM! I just have to tell you guy's / girl's at WWM I learned a lot just by reading your website. It's AWESOME!! <Thanks for the kind words! Scott F. on call tonight!> Well, I'm doing some research {like you guy's say to do} on stocking my tank but need a little help. I have a 90 Gallon tank, and I'm kind of digging the Red Sea fish but don't know if these fish are compatible.   This is what I put together so far...Please let me know if not compatible. 1 Yellow Tang-Hawaii (Zebrasoma flavescens) 2 Purple-Red Sea Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) <In a 90- it's one or the other, IMO. Two Zebrasoma will be a constant battle in most cases...Choose your fave. I like the Yellow, myself. Smaller and a lot nicer, if you ask me!> 3  Yellow Mimic Tang (Acanthurus pyroferus)   <A nice fish, but at it's full size of almost 9-10 inches, too big for this tank!> 4  Sasi-Red Sea Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus assasi)  [definitely want a trigger, if there's a better compatible one please let me know] <Another tough call. It's a fish that can and will reach almost a foot in length. It needs tons of physical space and heavy duty filtration. Unless this is the only fish you'll be keeping, and even then for just a short time, I'd have to tell you to pass.> 5  Maroon Clown-Gold Stripe (Premnas biaculeatus) [ can I put 2 of them together?? ] <I'd only try this if you add them together as juveniles, or if you can find a mated pair.> 6  Red Scooter Blenny <A neat fish in an established tank with a functional refugium and a healthy population of small crustaceans.> 7 a couple of  Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata sp.) <Fine choices> 8   some snails <No problem here> These are just some I really like and want to give them the best possible environment possible so I need some expert advise Thanks for all that you do for us Newbie's John <Well, John, I like your choices, but several of them are entirely too large for a 90. I have always been a big fan of "smaller versions" or substitutions for some of the big guys. How about fishes like a Centropyge Angelfish, a Hawkfish, Halichoeres species wrasses, a Pseudochromis or Gramma, maybe a Marine Betta, or some assorted small Blennies. Just some ideas for fishes for this tank that may be more appropriate. Do a little reading here on the WWM site and see what you think! Have fun! Regards, Scott F.>

Stocking babble   2/9/06  150 Reef I'm planning a 150g 6' long 2' wide 20" tall tank. FOLR with a BTA and shrooms. I'm thinking on getting a Sequence hammerhead pump to run return and Beckett skimmer. The tank has center overflow with 2 1" bulk heads. It also has 1 1" bulk head in each corner which I plan to use as a drain. A 1" bulk head can do roughly 600-800gph? <... not likely, even in a "perfect world"> In my case 3200gph max.? The pump can do 5520 @ 4'. What is left over will go to a dual Beckett skimmer that I'm going to make. I can't decide on how I want the return. I can get a 1" sea swirl for the center and have 2 returns in the center pointing to the sides. Maybe a power head in the corners. Or have 6 ports going from back to front. Back to front is more common but I like the idea of the fish "riding the wave" across the tank. Stocking, imperator or majestic angel, flame and/or bicolor dwarf angel? <...? The first two will get too large for this system... You can read re their stocking, compatibility... on WWM> not sure if I can mix. Queens get too big and mean? <...> Could I also add a grey puma or blue spotted angelfish? <Not and have them be in good health> Not 100% sure I have ever seen a mature blue spotted angel. Do you know a good place for pics? <...? Books by Rudie Kuiter, Gerald Allen and Roger Steene, Scott Michael... on the Net through a Google search...> Tang, purple and/or blue Caribbean? Do Naso's get too big? <... all posted on WWM> Anthias, I have a pair of lyretails can I add some others? Like bicolor? A BTA and pair of tank raised perc. clowns. Shrooms and ric's. I would like to have snails and crabs as well as cleaner shrimp. Can I keep a Sargassum trigger in here? Golden butterfly? Other pos. Coris wrasse but then no shrimp, red spotted Pseudochromis? Long nose filefish? As always, any help would be great. Love the site, Billy <Read Billy, read. Bob Fenner> More stocking babble   2/14/06 OK, I have done some reading and still not understanding. first do you like flow from back to front or side to side? <For what? Overall circulation? Posted... should be random, complete...> You say both imperator and majestic angel get too big for my tank. I have read on your website that a 180g 6'x2'x2' is ok with a imperator and French angel. <One... not both... and neither forever> Is the extra height going to make or break me? <...? No> I have read that a purple tang may be to aggressive. How about the blue Caribbean? The no grey puma, no triggers I don't want my rock work moved without me), golden butterfly may go after BTA and no Coris wrasse. I believe the flame or bicolor will be ok. <... Please, don't write... read. The individual species and family accounts of these species "Systems", "Compatibilities" are posted on WWM... learn to/use the Google search tool, indices, links... Bob Fenner> Stocking   2/7/06  29 Reef Hello, <Hello Shane> I have a 29 gallon tank with an eclipse canopy, lighting has been upgrade with the addition of a 65 watt 50/50 PC so that lighting now totals 105 watts. There is 35-40 lbs of LR and approximately 50 lbs of LS with a plenum underneath. I am slowly building a collection of softies but would like to add a few fish. Since this system is at my office and the fish will have to get by on pods each weekend what would you recommend for possibilities? <Yellow Tail Damsels, Percula Clowns, Dottybacks (only one here as males are aggressive toward one another), Pajama Cardinals, etc. As long as the fish are fed nutritious foods during the week there is little danger of them starving to death over the weekend especially with pods for snacks.> Thanks for your time and your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Shane Too much crammed into too small... Poor English  02-05-06  20 FI I have a 20 gallon SW tank with 2 clownfish 1 hippo tang. <Too small...> 1blenny and clean up crew I had one clownfish and recently added another ( from the same family- occelirious ) <Not a good idea... too small...> Now my original clown fish is twitching when he swims in midwater. It s like he's having spasms or a seizure he will go on his side and will start to just twitch into uncontrollable spasms Now the new clownfish is doing it also. I performed a 15% partial water change But I want to know  what is going on with these clowns Filter- Skilter 400 <... http://wetwebmedia.com/faqstips.htm Bob Fenner> Frenchman looking for a perfect tank - This is my ideas !   2/2/06   175 ish FI Hello from a Frenchman located in Kingston Ontario, <Howdy from a pet-fish boy in S. Cal.> I think I made my research in setting up my tank 72''w X 24''h X 18''d with a 50 gal sump and a protein skimmer. In addition to the overflow/pump circulation I have 3 intermittent pumps to complete the water movement. I have about 2 inches of rough sand and 90 pd.s of live rock distributed between the tank & the sump. It's currently inhabited by 2 red scarlet crabs, 40 blue legged hermit crabs, 2 Nassarius snails, 3 cleaner shrimps, 2 emerald crabs, 1 fire shrimp and 2 scooter blennies. (one of which will be transferred soon to the other smaller tank) <Okay> I also set up a quarantine tank of 10 gal with 1.5inch of sand and 5 pounds of live rock that I want to do as natural as possible. I will put 3 cleaner shrimps, 1 Neon goby, 1 scooter blenny, <Needs more room, food...> 35 blue legged crabs, 1 red scarlet crab, 2 Margarita snails, 3 Nassarius snails. All water, sand and live rock comes from my already cycled large tank. I want this tank to be the mandatory stop over for all new comers in the house, fishwise obviously ;-) After looking at all fish/critters available I wish for my large tank, when completed in 6-12 months depending on availability and adaptation of fishes, to be as follow; 90 Blue Legged hermit crab 2 Red Scarlet hermit crab 2 Sally Lightfoot crab 3 Cleaner shrimp 2 Fire shrimp 2 Bandit shrimp ( pair) 7 Nassarius snail 10 Bumble Bee snails 2 Nudibranch lettuce 1 Neon Goby 1 Coral Beauty dwarf angel 1 Bi-Color dwarf angel 1 Flame dwarf angel 1 Majestic angel 1 Anthias Lyretail male 3 Anthias Lyretail female 1 Scooter blenny 2 Pearlscale butterfly 2 Firefish gobies 3 Royal Gamma Basslet 1 Hippo Blue Tang 2 Mandarin Psychedelic (pair) 4 Clown fish Percula My questions are; Do you think my large tank would be overcrowded with crustaceans or fish? <Mmm, no. The above list should be fine... w/ the exception of the Majestic Angel... not an easily kept species, and will outgrow this tank (in 2/3 years, depending on whether it lives, what size it starts at...> Do you think my isolation/quarantine tank would be efficient for new fishes or treatment of old ones? <Mmm, needs to be larger... perhaps a twenty gallon... even two of these...> In which order do you think I should introduce the fish to limit new neighbors bickering? <The Majestic (if I can't talk you out of it) and the Tang last> I know about the dwarf angels territorial behavior, but is my tank large enough for the 3 of them, or at least 2? <Two would be best... the Centropyges> Any suggestion on my set-up or my choice of marine inhabitants will be greatly appreciated as well. Thank you in advance for your advice & help. BTW your site is a gem to which I referred to often in all my research. Yves Leduc <And there is a French/Belgium mirror of WWM... Bob Fenner>

Marine Tank Upgrade   2/2/06   120 Reef Hi , <Hi Nicole.> I have a 2 part question.   <Okay.> I'm moving up from a 55 gal to a 120 gal.   <Awesome.> First part After I cure live rock in new tank, 90 pounds can I move all of my 55 gal into the new tank (rock, soft corals, and fish, refugium) at the same time? <You could but as you allude to below, patience is the best way, maybe ? one week and half the next, giving time for your new nitrifying bacteria to adjust.> I'm figuring no. o.k. second part In the new tank I plan on having 2 Bannerfish Heniochus diphreutes 1 four lined wrasse. What fish from my 55 gal do you suggest I keep without over stocking? I have 4 Blue-green Chromis  1pink skunk clown 1 ocellaris clown 1 mandarin goby this one I am  keeping) 1 skunk cleaner 5 peppermint shrimp. <Remove one of the clowns from the list and you should be fine.> I am  torn I have had my tank  for 5 years , but I fell in love with the Bannerfish and I Have no room for both  tanks. Thanks so much Nicole <Welcome, Adam J.>

Infected LFS? 7/29/05    30 FOWLR Hello - <Hi Ron, Ali here...> I've had a 30 gal FOWLR tank set up now and thriving for approximately 3 years. <Awesome> When I first got into the hobby, I started out at my LFS.  At first, I purchased all my livestock there, mostly hardy fish like clowns, damsels, etc.  I thought there were problems with my water, because all of these fish would die, with what looked like fin rot to me. <Can you hear it? I hear it coming. the Q-word...> I've tested the water numerous times, and never found any issues.  I started purchasing fish at TFP in Lancaster, and have not had a problem since.  My question is, do you think that the LFS' tanks are infected?  And, if they are... what could they possibly have?  The fish do not seem to have any problems at the store, until about 3 weeks after they are brought home. <...Here it comes! Quarantine! Ron, in all seriousness, regardless if the LFS is 'infected' or not, you should be QT'ing every single fish purchase for at least a full 4 weeks, 6 is even better. Please take the time to do a search here for QT tanks, methods, etc. These fish we keep can live for up to 20 years, so taking 4 to 6 weeks of that time span to QT and possibly treat them beforehand is the way to go. Additionally, if you are not comfortable with the quality of fish you are receiving from them, simply find another good vendor. Some online vendors do a phenomenal job of providing you with quality fish.> Thanks, Ron <Good luck Ron> Big Bad Fish! - 7-26-05   150 FO What are some of the most aggressive, ferocious fish you can get for the home saltwater aquarium?  I have a 150 gallon saltwater tank, and I am tired of always having inactive fish.   In my old tank, I had some triggers that were pretty aggressive, but I was wondering if there was any other fish that you would suggest? <Triggerfish are always fun, as well as pufferfish (porcupine, dogface, stars-n-stripes), wrasses (lunar, etc) large angels, and damselfish.  Take a look around your LFS, or an online dealer to get an idea of possible species> Thanks <Anytime - M. Maddox> Livestock question   90 Reef Hi! (BTW I followed your advice and used some carbon (80g/3 ounces) to remove the bad smell coming from the tank and after half a day it doesn't smell at all! Surprisingly effective, thanks!) I bought my three first fishes two weeks ago: Nemateleotris magnifica, ocellaris, and a Kaudern's cardinal. The clown and the firefish are doing great so far but a few days ago I found the cardinal lying dead on the sand when I got up in the morning.  Since then I've been reading again on cardinals and realized that they do better in groups, an information I overlooked at first. Here is my stocking plan for this 90 gal + fuge reef tank with DSB (4-5") and 130lbs LR: 1 Clown Goby, Green (Gobiodon atrangulatus) 1 Kaudern's Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni) 1 Ocellaris Clownfish - Tank Bred (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1 Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) 1 Yellow Tang - Hawaii (Zebrasoma flavescens) 1 Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) 1 Sexy Anemone Shrimp (Thor amboinensis) 1 Coral crab (Trapezia rufopunctata) 1 Pompom boxing crab (Lybia tesselata) 1 Electric Blue Hermit Crab (Calcinus Elegans) 1 Marble Sea Star (Fromia sp.) + Montipora digitata, Xenia, and Euphylliids. My questions regard the possible replacement of the cardinal by another species... - Should I really avoid cardinals if I am not willing to get a small school? <There are some few that do okay as single individuals, but almost all sold in the trade are social> - Would it be a bad idea to replace it with a Pseudochromis fridmani? They are supposed to be relatively aggressive but I have mixed reviews about that. Don't want to cause problems to my future mandarin or to the inverts. <Up to you> - Are Pseudochromis fridmani generally good at limiting bristle worms population? <Small specimens, numbers, yes> I would like that. Are they going to prey heavily on other microfauna as well such as micro stars... <Not so much> - I saw a twin-spot goby in my LFS and found it very interesting. The problem is that one is not supposed to introduce a sand sifting fish when using a DSB methodology. Also of concern is heavy competition with the mandarin although the mandarin gets them more on LR I guess. What is your opinion here, should I definitely leave that goby out of my plan? <I would omit this fish... does poorly in general, w/o a partner very difficult to keep> - Otherwise I would like a fish that "plays in the sand" (if you have any species suggestions here...). So a Jawfish could be an option.  <Others are listed on WWM> They don't really go through a DSB sifting the sand for food as I understand. The only thing that bugs me is that the available species all seem to be from the Caribbean and I try to go Indo-Pacific only.  Thank you very much in advance for your input! Dominique <Keep investigating your choices... and remember the virtue of patience. Bob Fenner> 

Sand Sifter choice Thanks! I will avoid the twin-spot. But would you otherwise advice against any one small sand-sifting fish considering my set-up (possible problems with DSB... microfauna... mandarin)? <A small species, like a Goby of the genus Valenciennea would be fine. Bob Fenner> 

Marine (over) Stocking   90 FOWLR I have set-up a 90g FOWLR.  I had a 55g and changed to the 90g to keep a small blue face angel, Singapore angel, small Pearlscale butterflies, small tomato clown and a Scott's fairy wrasse.  Would all these fish get along and also am I overloading the tank or could I add another fish? I wanted to add a copperband butterfly.  Would the butterflies get along? I was told by my LFS that the copperband is a really hard butterfly to keep, is this true? From a scale of 1-10what would you give the copperband and the Pearlscale. Thank you for your help. <<Well... I think the 90g is too small for two angels that will each grow large enough to feel crowded on their own, let alone share the space with another angel. This is what I see as the prevailing issue - the fairy wrasse and tomato clown do add to the overall bio-load but that isn't the problem here. As for the Copperband butterfly - these have a fairly specialized diet, and are most often acquired to deal with Aiptasia problems... once the Aiptasia is gone, they often starve to death. They can be taught to eat other foods, but because you already have one butterfly, I can't really recommend a second one in this size system... too much of a chance that one will beat the crap out of the other one, same as the two angels. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: non-aggressive fish   90 FO I appreciate your quick response time. I was not expecting it. I read your information on the trigger and angels and I was still wondering, in your opinion, what is the least aggressive trigger and large angel? Can you give me two or three choices for each? Like I stated before, now that the domino is gone, the tangs and clown are hanging out a lot more. <with only a 90 gallon aquarium now, we couldn't fairly recommend any of the larger fishes. Especially with talk of a Tuskfish as well. The Tusk, Angel, Naso and Trigger together will amount to 48" or more as adults in just a few years. Your tank is honestly overstocked currently. Until you actually get a bigger tank, PLEASE do not add any more fishes. Again, with the four above reaching or exceeding 4 feet of total length in 3 to five years, you are literally going to need a tank 500 gallons or larger... or, like too many aquarists you will watch the fishes stunt and die prematurely (they look fine for a couple of years and then die "mysteriously"). With all of that said... if you actually do get a monster tank... Humu complex and Niger Odonus Triggers are generally well behaved and Annularis, Blue and Black Pomacentrid Angels top the list of big guns. Best regards, Anthony>

Reef Tank Additions   75 Reef Unfortunately, I have made a mistake. I purchased a purple tang as my third addition to my 75 gal reef tank with soft corals. I realized I should have waited to add the tang until last. <Not really a mistake. Merely something to work around at this point.> I do intend to add about five different fishes for a total of seven. <Depending on size, seven may be too many.> I already have a tomato clown and a blue devil damsel. I still have about 4 weeks or so to add some other fish because the purple tang will be in quarantine for the next four weeks. <Good for you and your fish.> I have read your site about fish from the Red Sea & I am having a hard time deciding on which types fish to add over the next four weeks. I can tell if they are from the Red Sea or not, but I can't always tell if they are reef safe. <The easiest way is to identify what they eat. Coral eaters are not reef safe. Fish that eat plankton and algae are generally ok.> I do have lots of inverts and soft corals. They don't necessarily have to be from the Red Sea - they just have to be reef safe. I have had flying fish tell me Dwarf Angels are reef safe. <To varying degrees.> Someone else told me that only copper banded butterflies are reef safe. <Somewhat, but not always.> Are these true? Could you please name a few different species that would be appropriate for my tank and then I will be more than happy to research them myself on your web page. Thanks Ron <Start by looking here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeflvst.htm Look at small wrasses, Pseudochromis, blennies, gobies, etc. -Steven Pro>

Reef Tank Additions II Thanks for your feedback! Is a Flame angel or a Coral Beauty a possibility considering the soft corals, inverts & shrimps? <Sometimes. No guarantees with any of the Centropyge's.> Also how about Flame Hawk? <Can be a problem with small shrimp and hermit crabs.> You mentioned Blennies & Gobies which are not aggressive feeders - Are they OK with the Tang and Clown? <Varies by species.> Aren't these aggressive feeders? <The Damsel is your biggest problem.> That's the reasoning for maybe the Angels or Hawks. Please let me know what you think or what other species to consider. Thanks Ron <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tank Stocking   75 FO Hi Jason, Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I have revised my list and the order in which I wish to stock. Please make any changes necessary. I would like to add the Filament Flasher wrasses in a couple of weeks, how long should I wait between adding fish? Revised-Wish List and order I wish to stalk Filament Flasher Wrasse, (Paracheilinus filamentosus) (3) Royal Gramma, (Gramma loreto) (1) Marine Betta, (Calloplesiops altivelis) (1) Banggai Cardinal, (Pterapogon kauderni) (3) Sharknose goby (Gobiosoma evelynae) (1) Yellow Tang, (Zebrasoma flavescens) (1) Or, (which would be the best fish and more disease resistant for my tank)? Bristlemouth choice (1) <<Before I answer, I just want you to know that I have only four fish in my 75, and not a one of them is over 3". That being said, I would only add one more fish to my own tank, a Centropyge [pygmy angel]. These are great fun, smart and small, and many are quite flashy. With your vulpinis and maroon clown, your tank will become a boisterous place before long. You would be best served by picking either just the single tang, or the other list, and you might reduce the number of flasher wrasses to just one. You might also want to consider instead of all of those a pygmy angel of some type. Check the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/centropy.htm - I'm really a big fan of these. You'll get better long term results if you stock light, and give everyone room to not feel under threat. If your maroon clown is of any size, your really going to know when it's feeling crowded - <nip!> Will you be quarantining these new incomers?>> Thank you, and Happy Holidays! Lori <<Yourself as well. Cheers, J -- >> The Trials of Impulse Buying/Stocking a Fresh Tank   112 FO Dear Mr. Fenner: <<Mr. Fenner is away diving - JasonC here helping out until his return.>> I started this marine hobby on 1 Sept, exactly 3 months ago and I am on my third aquarium which holds 112 gallons here in Hong Kong. Two weeks ago, I set up this aquarium and decided to start cycling it with live sand, one long tentacled anemone , one gigantean carpet anemone and one tiny Percula (which was always attached to it since five weeks ago) clown. Surprisingly, the Percula is very much alive up to now. <<Don't know that I would recommend using anemones to cycle a new tank.>> Five days after setting up the aquarium, I had an emergency 2 day business trip to the Philippines. Gosh, the fishes there cost only a fraction of what they would cost here in HK or through the internet.  <<Unfortunately, this is because very few people buy marine fish from the Philippines any more due to a history of cyanide use for collect. >>  With such irresistible temptation, I couldn't control myself and on impulse buying,( aware of my insufficient cycling), I chose some real hardies and I came back with:  <<impulse buying of marine organisms can be hazardous.>> 50 lbs of Live Rocks it was dry) 1 Peacock lionfish 1 bird mouth wrasse(green,5.5 inches) 1 Marble wrasse(4.5 inches) 1 Tomato Clown( 3.5 inches) 2 Honeycomb grouper ( 3.5 inches) 1 Blue spotted grouper or lapu-lapu(3 inches) 1 Dampiera grouper that was the name they gave me) 4 inches 1 Auriga Butterfly( 5 inches) I have installed 2 units of 1200 liter external filters, one unit of 15watt UV, one turbo protein skimmer, one airstone protein skimmer , two powerheads, one airstone. Recent checks showed 1.0205 spg, 26.5 deg C, 8.0 ph, but nitrite was at about 16mg/l. With much regret, some lesions/wounds appeared on the Auriga two days thereafter and it was immed. moved to another tank, but didn't survive after another 24 hour ordeal. I know it was probably due to insufficient cycling and stress. But my son urged me to consult you on the physical explanation for the death--- parasite attack? Internal virus? As the fish immune systems was weakened/induced by the stress?  <<Most likely the latter - this is a very common response as the fish goes into "high alert" mode, or often called fight-or-flight when the fish is in constant GO-mode. As a result, the immune system weakens and things quickly break down. An otherwise health fish can succumb surprisingly quick. The non-cycled tank only made things worse.>> All the other fishes had such a voracious appetite---rushing to live guppies and live 1-2 inch sized live shrimps with lightning speed and bulls eye precision. The Tomato clown also had a hearty appetite for the shrimps and UV worms. Most of the time, she was squeezing herself in between the tentacles of the carpet anemone.  <<if this tank still isn't cycled, you probably should not be feeding so aggressively.>> My worry is the bird mouth wrasse also has developed from one to three lesions on one side of her body. However, it has one of the most voracious appetite and always the first to catch the live feeders. Pls explain the lesion and what I would have to do with the wrasse.  <<lesion could be from any number of things, no way to know for certain. If anyone chasing, nipping at it? Water quality is certainly playing a major factor in this.>> All the other groupers were very active except that occasionally, they would scrape their bodies against the rock. Should I worry about this? Physically, they look fine. Please advise.  <<I fear, unless you have somewhere with good water quality to separate these fish and let this tank cycle, your problems are only beginning.>> Last question, due to some negligence, a 4 inch Regal Tang was transferred from a 75 gallon tank with spg 1.025, but 3mg /l nitrate, 8.2 ph to this 112 gal tank three days ago.  He would hide himself horizontally between the crevices of the rocks and would breathe slightly heavier than normal/ On her first two days, he ate, but today he did not swim to eat his favorite UV worms, brine shrimp meals. I am getting worried, what should I do?  <<cross your fingers, it really doesn't sound good.>>  Should I move him back to the 75 gallon tank which specific gravity is now 1.023, but being adjusted slowly to 1.022?  <<given the condition of your new 112, I would move it although it sounds like stress is beginning to take its toll - a move might likely put it over the edge.>> Or should I just leave him there in the 112 gal tank?  <<then again, leaving it in this tank isn't going to help either. You should reflect about what has happened/happening.>> What other measure should I do to help this Regal Tang? <<Think about how you might avoid such things with the next regal tang.>> In retrospect, after spending many nights taking a crash course by reading your website, I realize so many foolish mistakes I have committed. But I am learning.  <<I'm glad you've been reading. And I don't want to rub it in or drag you through the mud, your experience is not uncommon. Making mistakes is one of the great opportunities to learn. Perhaps you will take a slightly different approach in the future. Keep reading the site.>> My sincerest appreciation. <<Good luck. Cheers, J -- >>

Yikes! Stocking  125 FO Gentlemen: The current inhabitants of my 125G FOw/oLR are as follows: 1 hogfish 1 blue hippo tang (about 6" long) 1 Foxface (about 6" long) 1 Kole tang 1 Percula clown 1 Banggai cardinal 1 crown squirrelfish 1 Arabian Pseudochromis Both tangs, the clown and the Foxface have been in the tank for over 2 years. I would like to introduce a few more fish. I am thinking about a Naso tang, a green bird wrasse and a small school (3 to 5) of green Chromis. I would appreciate your thoughts, especially regarding any possible aggression between the current tangs and the possible Naso.  <aggression is not the problem my friend... the adult sizes of the current fishes (two tangs, Foxface, hogfish and squirrel) are already more than enough (arguably overstocked to be merciful considering the adult size of the hog, squirrel and blue tang). The addition of the Naso and bird wrasse (12"+ as adults) would just be obscene. Truly it would break my heart to see it unless you are set up for significant weekly water changes. Even if you tried it... the bird wrasse would wreak havoc... I have had adults eating 3-4" feeder fishes!!! So your Banggai, pseudo and clown are gone in the 12 month picture> The Kole seems to act aggressively toward any new introductions, but the use of taping a mirror to the tank and letting him fight with his reflection has worked in the past. <a bit cruel to impose the stress in my opinion, but I won't call the ASPCA <wink>> Also, the squirrel developed exophthalmia in both eyes a few days ago. I adopted a wait-and-see approach. Well, the swelling in one eye has decreased noticeably. Perhaps my doing a 10% water change and adding a Poly Filter helped...any thoughts? <bigger water changes with the fish load you have. The addition of Epsom Salt (mag sulfate) at 1 Tbs. per ten gallons helps with pop=eye too.> As always, your expertise is extremely valued. Take care, Mitch <best regards, my friend. And take the money that you would have spent on the new fishes and add a 30 gallon refugium onto the display <wink> Anthony>

Questions on 20 gallon reef? Hello everyone at WWM, I have a 20 gallon high setup now its been running for over 2 years with only 2 green spotted puffers the normally brackish ones but they have been switched over to saltwater. Well I might be removing them because I'm not sure if they would pick on mushrooms, polyps, maybe some other small hardy corals. <More likely to nip at LPS corals, feather dusters, worms, and beneficial critters in general.> Do you know if these can be kept in a reef tank or no. There's one mushroom that came on a rock and theirs no bites out of it. The lighting I was thinking about using is 4 55 watt pc.s is this too much for the inverts I have suggested. <Two would more than likely be sufficient.> The only fish I want would be a longnose hawk but are these hard to keep? <Yes, they are hardy.> Maybe a clown and just some small gobies and things like that probably only 4-5 real small fish. <More likely 3-4 fish. The Hawkfish and Clownfish are not too small. One more similar size fish would max you out.> For filtration I have a Skilter 400 is this enough? <It is rather modest. I would prefer a better skimmer.> I would say the water is at lease turned over 15 times an hour plus I have a small powerhead on the inside. Do the long nose eat real little gobies or is this okay to be together. <Probably ok. Hawkfish are far more likely to harass shrimp, crabs, etc.> I plan to have about 40 pounds of live rock already have 20 now? Do you see any problems in this setup what is the best temp for the inverts? <I like to target around 78F in small tanks such as this. Much more room for error. -Steven Pro>

Fish stocking  100 FO Hi again, will this be overstocking a 100 gal fish only aquarium? <Yes> I hope to have in tank eventually.. <If it were me, I would leave out the marked ones> 2 perculas 1 Picasso trigger <out> 1 wimple 1 flame angel 1 Emperor angel 1 Achilles tang <out> 1 powder blue <out> 1 regal tang 1 yellow tang 3 yellow tail damsels 1 porcupine puffer <out> 1 double saddle butterfly 2 bluer cheek gobies Thanks for the help, Craig brown <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: thank you (Flame Scallop, challenging marine livestock, life) Anthony, Thank you and of course I agree with you....about the animals sent..... <thank you for understanding... as we (WWM crew) answer e-mails and share opinions in somewhat of a mentoring fashion, it seems necessary to step up on a soapbox a little bit at times for the greater good of the many other aquarists that browse these posted FAQs. Diligent and sincere folks such as yourself are the best place for challenging animals. But not all aquarists have the time or heart to dedicate to animals such as flame scallops and various anemones, for example. As such, they need to know that it is not OK to just accept them into their tank when a dealer pushes them and just hope for the best> it did send me into a learning frenzy but I know that it was not a good idea..... <I'm very grateful and delighted that you were inspired so urgently to want to learn about the needs of these animals> I am enjoying this tank so much....I joked with Bob F on a previous email and wondered when the reduced heart rate thing was going to happen and actually a few times I have sat with my new tank and husband and boy and really enjoyed just watching....relaxing....not feeling that I have to run and do an ammonia test.....it is a wonderful little metaphor for many things. <yes... truly a wonderful hobby for all the right reasons> Thanks for the help. I'm ordering some phytoplankton for the Flame. Helene <very good, and do learn about the feeding technique of the phyto substitute from past FAQ/message board posts, etc. (keep refrigerated, buy and use fresh only <6 months old, and whisk in a blender or like device before feeding. Best regards, Anthony>

Yet Another Stocking Question   120 FI Hi, I have a 120 gallon fish + invert system. I had a 60 gallon reef for 2 years and then set this up last November by using my live rock and substrate from the 60 gallon. Here's what it contains right now: 150 lbs. live rock 110 lbs. aragonite substrate 1 5" Koran Angel 7 1" Green Chromis 1 2" Multicolor fairy wrasse 1 1" Bicolor Pseudochromis 1 3.5" Coral Beauty Angel (fine with the Koran, believe it or not!) 1 2.4" Yellow Tang 2 Cleaner Shrimp Assorted snails and hermits Assorted mushrooms Here's my setup: 380 watts VHO lighting (2 actinic, 2 50/50) Aggressor 250 Protein skimmer (rated up to 250 gallons) Acrylic creations wet/dry filter multiple powerheads Here's my question: I want to add more fish but am having a really hard time deciding what to add. I would love to add a Queen Angel but know they'll grow to large for the 120g and wouldn't get along with the Koran (it's a tough temptation to resist though!) I nearly bought a beautiful Achilles tang that my LFS had, but again resisted since they have such a poor survival record. I would like to add 1 more large fish and perhaps 2 more small fish. Any suggestions? Holly <I would stay away from any more angelfish or tangs. Think about a butterflyfish for the larger fish. There are many gobies and blennies that would blend in nicely with your other fish. -Steven Pro>

Restructuring of tank inhabitants... (marine livestocking)  165 FOWLR Greetings to the WWM crew... <Greeting to you. Steven Pro this morning.> To recap... I have a 125G FOWLR and a 40G sump. 125lbs of LR and less than 1" of LS for aesthetics. The 40G sump contains the heater, a TF1000 skimmer and the return pump. Current family of fish include: Naso lituratus - Naso Tang - 5.5" Rhinecanthus aculeatus - Picasso Trigger - 3.5" Balistoides conspicillum - Clown Trigger - 3.5" Premnas biaculeatus - Maroon Clown - 1.5" Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus - Porcupine Puffer - 3.5" (soon to be returned to LFS) I've been emailing y'all the past couple weeks hoping for a cure to simpler natural nitrate reduction, but due to my liking of messy fish, NNR seemed difficult at best, so I've opted instead for a RO unit and frequent water changes. However, to somewhat help matters, I have decided to get rid of the biggest eater and mess maker, the porcupine puffer. Luckily I have a great LFS who takes back any unwanted fish for credit. Anyhow, I am contemplating between these following fish and would like your opinions on them, and how they'll interact with my current family. For what it's worth, the two triggers are very friendly, and I have yet to see any aggressive behavior from either of them. I know this may change as they grow, but I've got my fingers crossed. Also, please assume that I won't be adding any fish till I get my nitrates well under control... steadily below 20 ppm... no additions till I've made a perfect home for them. I'd appreciate some of your thoughts on compatibility/suitability for each of the species listed here. I'd only pick one or two of the following: Chaetodon auriga / Threadfin Butterflyfish - I thought they were hard to keep, but your articles state otherwise. <This is a relative thing. Hardy for a butterflyfish, but not a good choice with such rowdy tankmates.> Pomacanthus imperator / Imperator Angelfish - Always has been my "Dreamfish" to raise because of it's beauty. But in reality, I'll never have larger than a 125G tank, so if it's too small to keep once adult size, I guess it will have to remain a dream. <Will not get as large as your Naso, but again not a good choice with these guys.> Ctenochaetus strigosus / Kole Tang - Hoping he could help out with some minor hair algae in the tank. Love their swimming motions as well as they cruise the live rock looking for food. How will this species do with the Naso Tang? <Better choice. Should be ok with the Naso.> Paracanthurus hepatus / Blue Tang - If I could find a nice 3-4" healthy specimen, I'd be tempted, but this has been hard to do. Most of these tangs I see at the LFS are skinny and weak looking. How would this tang do with the Naso? <Same as Kole tang. Look for a Hawaiian one. These two tangs would probably squabble some though.> Or some dwarf angel like the Flame or Coral Beauty are some other favorites of mine. <I would like to see you chose something larger, better able to defend itself.> Thank you once again for all the help you guys provide. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Fish question I am setting up my first salt tank. It took awhile to decide what to go with, reef or fish. So I decided I wanted reef but also one or two fish. I was told to get damsels, any damsels. Well I did, a pair of yellow tails. Now I'm being told that once my tank is fully established that they are likely to pick at my corals, rock, anemones, clams, etc. <No, not likely to eat corals or anything else, but can become quite territorial with other fish.> Can you recommend a fish that is fairly easy for a beginner and will not harass my reef environment? I prefer the reef environments, but my husband really enjoys the fish and I want to make a compromise. Thank you. <There are many good reef fish. A few come to mind quickly, six-line wrasse, algae blenny, clownfish, various tangs (depending on tank size), etc. -Steven Pro>

SWF COMPATIBILITY  175 FO Hello Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro this evening.> Thank you for your time. I would like your recommendations regarding fish compatibility. Also which species, size and order would be best. Equipment: 175g Oceanic bow-front, 400g W/D, lg. protein skimmer, 125w UV sterilizer, lots of coral skeletons, and some LR Existing fish (in order of addition): 4" Blue Hippo Tang, 3" Kole Tang, 4" Dogface Puffer, 3" Sailfin Tang, 2" Maroon Clown, 2.5" Pink Skunk Clown, 2" Arc Eye Hawkfish, 2" Saddleback Clown, 4" Heniochus acuminatus, two 1.5" true Percula Clown, 4" Parrot Princess, 3" adult Red Coris Wrasse, 3" Potters Angel <You have a pretty strange mix already. The clownfish should not like one another and the puffer should not like anyone.> Potential Additions: small eel, a Map and Queen Angel, a trigger (possibly Clown), a dwarf lion, a Harlequin Tusk, a Blonde Naso, a Six-Line or Fairy wrasse, a Lemonpeel and Flame Angel <Of these choices, the only one I would consider adding is the Naso.> Thanks again for any insight. I've enjoyed reading your books. Sincerely, Robert Keller

Re: Fish, Filters and Rocks oh my. (marine livestocking) Anthony, thanks for the info, This will be the last inquiry for awhile I promise.  <no worries at all my friend, ask away!> I was just wondering what exactly some of the fish you suggested are.  <ahhh, yes. My fault... I violated one of my own rules by only using common names. My apologies.> I assume a barber fish is a goat fish,  <nope... it is a "Barberfish" (a cleanerfish/pseudo butterfly} (less commonly known as Black nosed Butterfly) a remarkable attractive brass colored fish...pics do it no justice: Johnrandallia (Pseudochaetodon) nigrirostris...see http://www.oceanoasis.org/fieldguide/john-nig.html> and a football fish is a puffer, but I'm not positive mostly on the later,  <nope again...my fault: a Footballer is Chrysiptera annulata. Very hardy and uncommon. If not available at your LFS... try specialty places like the Marine Center advertising on this site...lots of rare and unusuals> also my LFS (not always very insightful) said nope no football fish here hehe, Also what do you think of the multicolored velvet wrasse (male?) for this system?  <very lovely...reasonably hardy, but passive. You'll need to keep a more peaceful tank that rules out many active community fish (tangs, angels, other wrasses for sure)> So, I figured I'd consult you one last time. Thanks again, you've been a tremendous help, and my fish will be healthier and happier because of it. Sincerely, Brian. <truly my pleasure. Anthony>

Fish Mix  55 FO Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro this evening.> Just found your website and it has been a wealth of information as I am fairly new to the hobby. I had a question on fish mixing for my first aquarium and would appreciate your regarded opinion. First my setup: -55 gallon aquarium dual bulb hood with full spectrum and blue actinic -60lbs Marshall Island Live Rock (currently curing) -roughly 1 inch of Aragonite Substrate -Red Sea Berlin Turbo Hang-on Skimmer -Emperor 400 filter with additional sifting filter media -Ebo Jager 150 watt heater -2 Hagen 402 Powerheads I am currently interested in placing these fish into the aquarium over a specific amount of time to allow for bio buildup and will also add a "clean-up crew" prior to fish introduction: 1 -Foxface 2 -Ocellaris Clowns (tank reared) 1 -Flame Angel 1 -African Fireball or Flameback Angel 1 -FuManchu Lion 3 -Yellowtail or 3 Stripe Damsels Will the tank be overcrowded and can these species live in relative harmony? <No to the harmony part. The two angels will not tolerate one another in a 55 and the lionfish will end up eating the damsels.> I have read in many places to skip the Damsels as they are too aggressive and present stress in other fish merely by their presence (I can still recall being attacked near a reef as blue damsels nipped at my foot and leg hairs!) <The yellowtails are better than the 3-stripes, but both can be territorial.> Perhaps a colorful group of gobies would be better? <Still potential lionfish food.> Can any Trigger species be successfully housed in a tank of this size? <Some Triggers will harass the Lionfish and ones that don't may make the Lion so nervous they go off of feeding.> Is a Flame Hawk a viable substitution for any of the above fish? <A good substitute for either of the Angelfish.> I welcome any advice you might have and if there is a fish which is out of place, a replacement suggestion would be great. <Leave out the Lionfish and the Damsels and make the Hawkfish substitution. Maybe add a tang.> I thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to your response and am rushing back to your site to gorge on more information. Thanks Again! David Yurko Aspen, CO <Glad to hear you are reading on your own. -Steven Pro>

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

Moving too slow? (Marine set-up, livestocking)   130 FOWLR Thanks for the great website and all the information you make available to us newbies. It can become a little overwhelming but as I am reading and re-reading a little more sticks each time. However, I am finding that part of the fun of the hobby. <Yes, I feel the same> I have a question that I have not seen in your FAQ's. I have seen at every turn that patience is a requirement in setting up a new system. However, is it possible to progress too slowly when setting up a tank? <I have never experienced this, first or other hand. Practically, no> I have recently started up my 130g FOWLR and I purchased 100lbs of "un-cured" live rock that I am curing in the tank by itself. The rock has been in there for almost 3 weeks and I have seen very little change in ammonia and virtually nothing in either nitrates or nitrite. In fact, all are now zero with PH 8.1 and alkalinity 7. The alk. seems high but it has always (since I mixed in the salt) been that high and I've seen nothing saying too high is a problem. It appears that my rock may be already cured but I will give it a few more weeks to make sure. I am enjoying spotting all of the little critters and algae that are showing up. <Yes> So my question relates to the two things that are holding up the next steps to building my tank -money and a planned vacation in May. Money is almost always an issue with most people but I was also planning on going on vacation for a week or so in early May and thought it would be best to leave the tank requiring as little maintenance as possible from a tank sitter. With that in mind, I was planning on adding 160lbs of Caribbean Aragonite substrate in the next few weeks followed by some snails (Nassarius, Trochus turbo, Baja), crabs (Sally-L, Hermit) and possibly starfish (Brittle, Sandsifting) {specific suggestions/qty's welcomed here} and leave these in the tank by themselves until after May. Would these be able to fend for themselves while I was away and/or would it be a problem to have them in the tank for 2-3 months without fish to load the food chain? <No problem on both/either counts> I am building my plan/list of fish (non-aggressive community) to add later which I am sure I will be asking you about as I move forward. I could give you the list I've compiled so far but this Email is already getting a bit long. Let me know if you think I could be heading for a problem. I don't think so but I value your opinion and guidance. Thanks again for all your help you give both to me and others. Sandy <You are exactly the reason for our efforts here. Thank you for writing so lucidly. Bob Fenner>

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

Interesting but Deadly Critters?   90 Reef Hello Bob/Gentlemen, <I'm not sure if I resemble that remark, but thanks kindly anyways...Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a few questions regarding a package of invertebrates that I am interested in adding to my 90 gallon reef tank. The package includes: - 2x - tropical abalones <most heinously excellent creatures...very good algae scavenger> - 2x - Mithrax crabs <OK> - 1x - impatiens cucumbers (Holothuria impatiens) - 1x - tiger tail cucumber (Holothuria hilla) - 1x - pink and black cucumber (Holothuria edulis) <hello cucumberville!> - 1x - red Fromia star (Fromia sp.) <very good...Fromia are much better captives than Linckia species> I searched through your website for related articles and FAQ as well as other publications, and the consensus is the lethal potential of cucumbers "eviscerating" and then wiping out the entire tank.  <ya... that is troubling> While I certainly do not want that to happen, I noticed you (Bob) cited in one of your FAQ that the species of cucumbers mentioned above have a lesser potential of eviscerating. <have you never been a victim of Murphy's law? Hehe...> Having said that, should I go ahead and purchase the cucumbers or eliminate the them from my selection?  <if you do not have a distinct passion or need for sea cucumbers, please don't bother to take the risk. There are plenty of other detritivores out there. For simply diatom reduction and sand sifting...consider a goatfish, they are great and very underrated > Secondly, with regard to the red Fromia star and Mithrax crab, what is the likelihood of them bothering/eating my corals? <low risk...worth it if you like. Although the Mithrax are not the most diligent members of any janitorial crew> Lastly, will the above mentioned livestock cohabitate with my existing livestock? Tank Conditions: - Inhabitants include: yellow tang, purple tang, male flame wrasse, 2x - female flame wrasse, an assortment of soft and hard corals, black brittle stars, cleaner shrimps, snails, and hermit crabs. - Water parameters: spg - 1.026, carbon hardness - 10dKH, calcium - 420 ppm, ammonia - 0ppm, nitrite - 0ppm, nitrates - < 2.5ppm, phosphate - <.03ppm, magnesium - 1350ppm, temperature - constant at 78 degree, and pH - 8.2 (this may be attributable to my calcium reactor, the CO2 could be suppressing the pH value). - Filtration: 120 pounds of live rock, and a hybrid 30 gallon ecosystem/ETS skimmer sump. <compatibility is likely to be fine...but the pH is indeed a bit low. A very beneficial and convenient correction for this is a second media reactor for the effluent of your calc reactor. Tempers the pH and maintains extraordinary alkalinity> My reef has been running well for the past two years; I wanted to add the above invertebrates for interest and maintenance values. I want to thank you in advance for your time and effort. Your website is a great value/tool to all hobbyists to learn and share! <thank you very kindly.. and for what it's worth, a second skimmer and/or better water flow would negate the maintenance needs of such a minor crew of detritivores. Anthony Calfo> Best, Dan

Reef fish   135 Bob Hi, how are things going? I have a quick question for you. I have a 135 gal reef tank with 2 lyretail Anthias, 1 sixline wrasse, 1 purple tang, 1 hippo tang, 2 percula clowns, 1 cherub angel, 1 royal Gramma, 1 fire fish, and 1 Banggai cardinal. I was thinking about adding some more fish. I love angels, clown, Dottyback and butterfly fish. I know you are very busy but if you wouldn't mind giving me some ideas on what fish to add if any I would be grateful. The tank is doing very well and the fish are getting along, so I want to make sure what ever I add won't upset the apple cart. Thank you for your time and help. -Jason <Why don't you narrow the choices a little first. Then we can be of more assistance. Any more clowns, angels, or tangs could cause serious aggression problems. -Steven Pro>

Re: reef fish (Butterflyfishes) Steve, What are your thoughts on a lemon butterfly fish or threadfin butterfly fish for a reef aquarium? -Jason <The Threadfin is a definite no. The Lemon is marginally better, but may very well pick on some of your inverts. All butterflyfish are potential problems in a reef tank. One of the best butterflyfish for a reef would be the Heniochus diphreutes. There are several similar looking Heniochus, so a good reference book will be a must to distinguish them. -Steven Pro>

Re: reef fish (Wrasses) Steve, Would a Scott's fairy wrasse be ok for my tank? I didn't know if my sixline would be a problem. Once again thank you for your help. I am trying to figure out what and how many fish I can add to the tank. Jason <You have 11 fish now, right? Two or three more should be ok for your 135, depending on size. The fairy wrasse should be ok. May have a little trouble with the sixline, but sixline's are not known to be too terrible. -Steven Pro>

Re: reef fish (Triggerfishes) Steve, Are there any trigger fish that would be ok for a reef and community tank? I have liked the trigger for a long time but I was always under the impression that they were not reef safe. -Jason <No, not really. Anthony just had a conversation about this topic. Look at today's or tomorrow's FAQ for the details. -Steven Pro>

Stocking level   130 Reef Dear Bob  <Cheers Jim> You'll be pleased to hear my flame angel is eating chopped Mysis and the odd small brine shrimp now. I also recently purchased a lovely (non anemone) porcelain type crab (more on him later).  <Ah, good news> I have a question concerning stocking level, here is my tank spec. 72"x24Hx18dp (130 US gallons). Running a wet dry trickle filter (approx 30gal). Aqua medic Turboflotor 1000 (very efficient skimmer in my opinion). UV sterilizer. Running two marine whites (60") 1 actinic 03 (60") and 1 50/50 (48") all with reflectors. Have approx 25Kg of live rock mixed with ocean rock.  I have converted to a fish/invert tank in the last 4 months; stocking hardy inverts such as button polyps, Sarcophyton, mushrooms etc.  My fish stock is:-  1 regal tang  1 midas blenny  1 flame angel  1 Banggai cardinal  4 ocellaris clowns  1 Rainford's goby <Rainfordi> My invert stock is  5 Sarcophyton specimens varying species)  1 mushroom colony  1 green button colony  1 green star polyp colony  1 yellow polyp colony  All I'm concerned with is the stocking level. Could I add more live rock and hardy inverts? <Yes> Plus do you think I could squeeze a neon goby in on the fish stock? <Yes> Plus is my lighting suitable for an anemone such as a bubble tip (My LFS says a ritteri would not survive with my current lighting, Halides are a must apparently).  <You would need more lighting... do try some members of the Caryophylliidae instead for now: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caryophyllids.htm> My local fish store says I can squeeze 25 different invert species in a tank this size (that's species not number of corals) This seems too much to me, can you advise?  <Less is better... would need to hear definitions of "different", "species", "squeeze"... Starting with small specimens, you could fit many species (much more than this number in)... and assuredly actually already have hundreds... if not thousands... already... A matter of looking more, closely.> Cheers! Your friend from across the pond, Jim  <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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

25 gallon reef Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead, Ari> What a site! For a beginner (I'm on my second tank) this is Heaven-sent. Thanks. <thank, you!> My question is relatively basic. I have just purchased a 25 gallon reef tank -- equipped with everything I need. In Chicago we have a great shop called Old Town Aquarium that is very customer service oriented, <huge and famous!> so that's the first step. My question, however, is about which kinds of fish I can put into my reef tank once it has matured and the inverts and [some hardy] corals are thriving. Believe me ... I'm through the trigger and eel phase, but I'm still enamored by the fish themselves and would like to have a tank with some good fish (maybe 2). I know that gobies and blennies are good, just as Royal Gramma are, but do you have any suggestions outside of these? Any would be great. < a shoal of Firefish (royal/queen sp if funds allow), or cardinal fish would be great...very peaceful and small. Also, Blue reef Chromis (Blue with black stripe...not the blue/green pacific sp)> I heard that I cannot have one of my favorites -- long nosed hawk fish -- because of its appetite.  <pretty frisky, and may harass snails and shrimp. Probably OK though> Thanks for your time and assistance. Best Regards, Ari Klein <do look into joining a good local aquarium society like CMAS/Chicagoland. Also. there is a good marine conference in Chicago in 2003 to look forward to (www.theimac.org). And on March 23rd of this year, The Midwest Marine Conference as well with four speakers including myself and Eric Borneman (www.masm.org, follow link for conference). Anthony>

Stocking Questions   75 FO Dear Bob, <You reached Steven Pro today. I am taking my turn answering some of the daily queries.> I have found your book and web site as invaluable pieces of info and I thank you for them. I am setting up a 75 gal DAS hex tank with LRWFO some hardy inverts. I would like your comments on 1) my system in general 2) fish compatibility 3) stocking plan System 75 Gal DAS flat back hex with built in filter and skimmer. Eheim 2215 canister, 2 100 w Ebo Jager heaters, (2) 160 gph power heads for circulation. air pump with stone for aeration, (2) 96 watt compact fluor. Tank will be stocked with 60 lbs of Florida aquacultured rock this Friday (2/15/02). <60 pounds of the aquacultured rock does not amount to a lot of rock for decoration purposes. The aquacultured rock is nice enough, but pretty dense stuff.> After tank is cycled my stocking plan is as follows: Clean up crew, Flame Angel, Purple Tang, Royal Gramma, Banggai Cardinal, O. Clownfish, Purple Fire fish, Lawnmower Blenny, Blue Banded Goby, (one of the colorful calm wrasses) Blue starfish, red starfish, feather duster, (2) blood shrimp. The question again is, is this a good mix? <I would leave out the Purple Tang. It can get large and aggressive with this group of other fairly peaceful fish.> If so in what order would you stock? <First to Last: Clown, Blenny, Cardinal, Firefish, Goby, Wrasse, Gramma, Flame> Finally if this work out O.K. Do I have enough lighting to try a few hardy coral? Which ones? <Maybe some mushroom anemones> Thanks in advance. -Rocco <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Stocking Hi again and thanks for bringing me down to earth on this stocking plan. <thank you, for putting up with my humor and sarcasm! Anthony> I will for sure go with the Tuskfish, blenny and trigger. I don't know about the tang as they are disease magnets. <now you are talking, my friend> So. . .you confirmed my worst fears (poor stocking plan). Do you think the Tuskfish, blenny, and Humu trigger are winners for a 100 gallon?  <if the 100 gall is six feet instead of four feet in length, I'd say it is an indefinite solution most likely> And. . . my wife insists on a purple fish. <buy her rose colored glasses instead> Any suggestions for a fish that will fit this mix. I DON'T WANT TO PUSH MY LUCK!! If I can't add anything purple to this tank, it's alright. <the problem is that anything large enough to be interesting will skew the bio-load (like the tang) and anything small enough is at risk of stress if not aggression from the growing/large Tuskfish. There probably is something that will work nicely, but my brain is honestly fired tonight <G>. Look through a reference, if you don't mind, and make a short list that you'd like to share for an opinion. Thanks kindly, Anthony>

Stocking...not Stalking   120 FO I have a 100 gallon tank with a 20 gallon sump, 100 lbs of live rock with a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer, a system pump turning 1200 gph with two 300 gph powerheads and 420 watts of VHO. I have a few questions about stocking. <sounds like a very nice setup> Currently the tank houses a colt coral, and a lawnmower blenny for the good old hair algae and lots of Caulerpa, Sargassum, Udotea, etc. Tank has been cycled since October 15. I'm just a little slow stocking. <all the better> A few days ago I made an impulse purchase. . .  <the phrase we hate to hear...arghhhh!> an Australian harlequin Tuskfish that's 6.5 '' long (head to tip of tail).  <very expensive taste...nice shot! If you are going to impulse purchase, do it right...eh?> I had a slight ammonia spike after feeding this guy for the first time (0.2) but today it seems to have disappeared. As I sit and watch this amazingly beautiful creature <indeed...magnificent...but does not belong in this tank leaning towards reef with a colt coral and bite sized blenny (not really...the tuck eats crustacea<smile>> swim by the front glass and pass through the live rock (he's eating well and is very active)  <feed shell-on food daily to keep up with his teeth...live crayfish periodically too please> the thought occurs to me, "I wonder if this guy is too big for my tank and how will this affect my stocking plan?" <FUBAR, my friend> Here's what I had in mind: Keep the Tuskfish Keep the blenny 1 Picasso trigger between 3-4 '' 1 lionfish maybe a radiata or possibly a dwarf species 1 longnose butterfly between 3-4 '' 1 purple tang 3-4 '' <really...I had no idea that you were a crack addict...hehe. Just kidding, but you are too ambitious as I'm sure you have suspected. The adult size of the Tuskfish and the lionfish alone are too much for the 100 gallon. Not mush to talk about here, bud. And the butterfly is way too passive for any of these fish even without their aggression (Strike one). The blenny is most likely safe from the Tusk, probably safe from the Humu trigger, and certainly lunch for the Lion (Strike two). The Zebrasoma tang has a good chance of growing up to be a mean son-of-a-gun! Could even nip the lion and will definitely beat the butterfly into submission. All told, its a lousy mix. Your best bet would be the Tusk, Tang and Trigger and hope for the best with the blenny too. The Lion and butterfly are too slow to compete.> 1) Bob, Anthony, Steve, will my tank sustain this much life? 2) If not, how can I modify this stocking plan so that it works? 3) Is there a standard inch-per-gallon kind of formula? (not in Bob's book...I checked.) <because it is a lousy rule... a 12" pooping Tuskfish and 12-1" gobies produce two very different amounts of waste... lousy rules of thumb> 4) I'm guessing the tank will suffice for a while but not really long term (many years). <please don't tempt fate anyway...under stock in the beginning (ironic to say "under stock" compared to the ocean they just came from...hehe) and just let them grow into their adult sized quarters> Assuming this is your answer, if I feed sparingly, any idea how long it will house this fish collection?  <less than one year for certain before something really bad happened> If I can keep the fish comfortably (no ridiculously large water changes) for a couple of years I'll eventually trade them in at the LFS. 4) Are there any upgrades I could do to make the tank more efficient? Canister, wet-dry, etc. <yep...you named it in the next line down> I already have my eye on a 200+ gallon!! Thanks for the help and keep up the good work gentlemen!! <thank you very kindly...take care of that beautiful fish...he is a masterpiece to build your tank around. Anthony> From the City of Lost Wages uhhh... Vegas, David D.

Marine Compatibles Thanks for the suggestion Anthony. <quite welcome, compadre> Once upon a time I wanted a Fairy Wrasse from the place I go to, but they told me that it would not do well with tangs and would probably succumb to their aggression.  <true with most fairy wrasse species> I guess if the tangs are out it's not a problem. Do these wrasses pose a problem for my cleaner shrimp/hermits? <likely no trouble at all... its the larger wrasse species that are not "reef" safe> Anyway, I looked at some on WetWeb and here's three I really liked: 1-Flame Wrasse <an outstanding choice! Hardy, ships well from Hawaii. easy to come by...no complaints> 2-Scott's <less hardy largely due to shipping rigors/difficulties on import for starters> 3-Solar....male <hardy once established... also ships hard even for a fairy wrasse (they are all a bit sensitive)> Thanks Anthony, Rick....(yeah, that [Budweiser/Statue of Liberty] commercial was awesome.....my office window view is straight down the block to the mess) <whichever wrasse you pick... pay the extra money for one that is tanked and feeding for some days to a week or more if possible. Pre-pay the fish if your LFS will let you so that it gets established in holding before being moved again. 5-7 days minimum at the LFS would be nice. I'd definitely go for a larger Flame wrasse. Kind regards, Anthony>

New addition (no room at the inn)   55 FO Hello Robert! I live in Greece and have been reading articles from your site since a few days now. Let me give you my congratulations for your great site. I really enjoy visiting it almost every night! <Thank you my friend> Well, O have a 55 gallon only-fish tank where I have put a complexity of corals (that makes nice places for the fishes to hide). Till a week ago I had : - one Damsel - 3 years in the aquarium - one Heniochus Acuminatus - 5 months - 2 1/2 inches - one Acanthurus Lineatus or Clown Tang - 4 months - 3 1/2 inches - one Paracanthurus Hepatus or Blue Tang- 3 months 2 1/2 inches - one Odonus Niger (Blue) 1 month 2 1/2 inches My aquarium is 10 years old, but in the last couple of years I had neglected it, so since last summer I started taking good care of it (water changes, took out the existing undergravel filter and put away a lot of sand while cleaning the gravel, etc). Now I have 0 Nitrite, 0 Ammonia, PH 8.3 and a lot of Nitrate (100!- even darker red than the 100 of the Tetra Nitrate Test Kit!). First I would like an advise about me fish selection, after I give you a short description of the situation in the aquarium: As you see I wrote the fishes I have in the term from te older to the newer. The Heniochus was the second fish to add, and he was well adjusted from the first day (as well as all the other fishes - they even ate leaf-food on the second date! this was something I was lucky about). After I introduced the Clown Tang nothing changed, in fact the three fishes in the aquarium ignored each other in a way, I mean they had no problems at all with each other. The first problems started when I introduced the Blue Tang. e is small, but very active, clever and happy fish. I really liked him a lot when I saw him at the dealer's shop. (He is the same until today). After the blue Tang found a coral to hide and started being not afraid (this took only a couple of days) he started confronting the Clown Tang , who is almost double than him.  <Not unusual for these two species... in such a small system> From this day they keep fighting each other when one finds the other near him. However the Clown has never harmed the Blue Tang. Their fights take only a few seconds and you can not tell who is the winner! When I introduced the Niger, the balance was lost for a few days. The Niger (even if I had the info that is a peaceful fish) was moving towards the damsel and the blue tang and ignored the Heniochus and the Clown. Then there was a relative "balance" with thee two clowns still fighting all the time and the Niger being sometimes aggressive, but not to the point that a fish would be afraid to swim near him. All of a sudden a morning I realize that the tail and upper fin of the Heniochus was cut (I was sure this was coming from a bite not from an illness) and the fish did not eat but instead he was staying near the bottom moving a little bit up and down. I made the mistake not to isolate it in a separate place in the tank and went to my work. In the afternoon , when I arrived home it was too late. The fish could not swim well. I took it in a separate place, but next morning it was dying. I still do not know who could be the responsible for this (the Niger ignored ir, so did the Clown and the Damsel). May be the Blue Tang, who knows. <I suspect the Niger> Now I have the 4 fishes left in the aquarium and getting along "well" (I do not really know what will happen in the future, there is an aggressiveness and a territorialism among all the fishes, but still there seems to e a balance). I would like to think however about my next tankmate: a new fish that would "fit" to this environment, so I have started making a research. I have been told about having an angelfish and I have started been informed about the several genus and members of this family. What would you suggest ?  <None actually... this system is topped out, full of fish life> I know everything is relevant and works different in every aquarium, but still an opinion like toys would have a weight. My other question concerns the Nitrate. I have been told that that I should turn my brown algae into green, in order to reduce my Nitrate. This can be done by increasing the lightning hours (to 14) and by letting the sun coming directly into the aquarium (I can do this, the sun can see my tank for 1 hour in the morning). What is your opinion? <A good idea to turn the algae to the Greens... with lighting as you mention> Thanks in advance for your response, Regards, Thanassis Papavassiliou Thessaloniki, Greece <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Dangerous Liaisons was Re: Cowfish dipping Cowfish Anthony, ciao again.  <Ciao, bello... in your service> I find lots of nuts quite often - mostly on the golf course though, after the squirrel has gotten through with it. . . I guess they are hand me downs. :-). <hehe...> I have him right now out of my eel/grouper tank, and in a smaller tank with a tiny damsel and a small bursa trigger. Another bad neighbor, but this trigger is quite small < 3" <agreed...not so bad, given to choose> and gets the hell out of the cow's way - sort of like after you've tipped the cow on your cow tipping soiree. . . (funny comment you had on the cow tipping, which I failed to acknowledge the first time :-). <Ha! Subtlety is what I call it when things aren't funny <smile>> I think what makes him ok, is that he's quite large. I thought he was about 4", but he's more like 6", and 4" from top to bottom, and 2 1/2" thick. He's quite a beast in this 50 gallon that I'm watching him in. There isn't anything that is going to get near him and think he's food since he's too big to swallow even for a 12-16" grouper. He's just too big top to bottom and too big around. I think after a few days, I have to get him out of the 50 gallon and put him into the 215 just for his own comfort as he's ok, but a bit cramped in a 50gallon (call it a q-tank for all intents and purposes). <yes...agreed on all counts> I do have a very large tank that I'm in the process of building (900+ gals) <beauty!!!> which will make it even more spacious for all these carnivorous/omnivorous fish I have. . . . Hopefully the cow won't ever do one of his toxin releases, but if he does, there is about 4000 gal/hr going through it that'll hopefully dilute and remove it. . <do use small relative) frequent changes of chemical media and always have a barrel of new seawater on hand that in good times lies in wait for the next water change and in bad times will serve as a toxin free, friendly body of water to remove survivors to if necessary> Looks like the cow likes brine shrimp a lot and since brine breaks up, he seems to get his share, < a truly deficient food for the long run... soak with Selcon in the meantime but break him of that habit ASAP. Brine should constitute less than 20% of the diet (and that is being generous). Adult brine shrimp is merely water made to look like a shrimp (hehe) unless it is gut-loaded or enriched> even with a little dexterous trigger swimming around greedily. . . You don't want to know the grouper, eel, and cow species that are actually involved, since I'm killing you already with the generics. Not sure I want that printed in a FAQ forever, for all to see :-). <Ha! And please accept my thanks for sparing me the pain <G>. Best regards in your endeavors. I'll look forward to pictures (and perhaps a visit!) of that sweet 900 gallon tank. Kindly, Anthony> Ed

Re: Cowfish dipping, Dangerous Liaisons Anthony/Bob, thanks for the responses. <Hola! my friend. Anthony> I've had a cowfish in the past (along while back) that co-existed with a grouper and an eel before.  <Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes as they say...still not a safe/responsible mix my friend. These are living creatures...treat your charges respectfully> Eel never went for the food when the other fish were feeding. Obviously different fish, different set of circumstances, and the results that I got in the past. <agreed> Was just trying to recreate that for the current set-up. . . With this tank, the grouper is quite small (< 4") and smaller than the cowfish. It is an omnivore (Cephalopholis polleni), <Aieeeee! You are killing me <smile>. Polleni groupers max out at 16-18"!! And they are rather rare and expensive... it will truly be a shame to see him choke to death or die of neurotoxin> and is categorized as semi-aggressive (as compared to just about all the other groupers at aggressive) and co-exists well with just about anything. <assuming he has read the same books as you have and agrees that he will not be the exception...hehehe> I'll definitely heed your advice for the cowfish on the dipping and be careful of introducing any tankmates. <yes, thank you> Unfortunately I'm a bit limited in the number of tanks, so I'll just have to choose his few mates carefully. Ed <very good, and best of luck to you. Anthony>

Clarification Steven, Thanks for pointing out what I forgot (newbie and lots of stuff to learn/remember). I don't plan on doing any inverts for SOME time (if ever) in this particular system. I'm just getting the hang of marine fish (really different from the Gouramis, fw angels, tetras, etc I used to keep)... IF I was to ever consider inverts in this system I would have to jettison the coral skeletons/substrate and replace it all correct? <Yes> Thinking ahead, as you said...although, highly unlikely, given that there is a 90% chance that a butterfly is going to live with little Fu and the Zebrasoma (purple) tang, and I know that if I have one of them (butterfly), I can't have inverts. <You could have snails, hermit crabs and mushroom anemones with the butterfly but not with the copper.> Thanks again. Rebecca <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Education Dear Bob, Just a quick comment....Why doesn't every school in the country have a salt water aquarium in it???? <Mmm, expense, lack of expertise, many other perceived higher priorities...> How much more can one project entail than these tanks? Lighting, chemistry, ecology, biology, writing (to you) not to mention crisis intervention you again) and I could go on and on....Do you know that my kid's HS taught Oceanography for freshmen biology and I thought that was so great until I realized that even though I live1 mile from the ocean in Maine THEY NEVER WENT TO THE OCEAN and never saw a tank..... <Crazy... I have taught a few-day H.S. level "Common Nearshore Marine Biology" class and field trip for a friend who still teaches at this level for about 25 years... and generally ask the students (most whom are seniors, with three years previous science experience) and invariably many have not been to the sea period! Living about twenty miles from it here in San Diego...> I only mention this because I had 3 boys here last night (17 yr) who were seated in front of my curing rock with magnifying glasses just having a great time with a million questions (of course all you have to do is read to 17 year old boys about Mantis shrimp and say you have one and they would sit there for hours trying to get a glimpse) (if they could just see one "spear" something they would be WILD) I think that they learned more in 1 hour then in the whole stupid class. <Imagine if you had a simple microscope like the Intel/Mattel QX3... I do> My brain is about to explode with information and so far so good with the tank although I have a bit of a brown algae thing happening and can't catch that pesky shrimp and may have a few questions by tomorrow about how long the ammonia levels should hover, never really spiking but never going away completely. I've had the rock in there for 2 weeks on next Tues. Nitrites are creeping up and all life seems to be ok (including the muscle type critter who is opening and closing better). I'm about to go in there and do battle with the test kits and partial water change.  <Wait off on the water change/s till the system is fully cycled> Good thing it's winter and I'm a landscaper in Maine or the business would be going to hell in a handbag!!! We keep moving the return from the sump around to move the water in new ways. Does that seem OK? <Yes> Sometimes it really disturbs the live sand and builds it up a bit deeper than I'd like and I have to push it down level again. Also we have moved the rocks around quite a bit trying to expose all side to circulation. We also move them so that we can see what's on the other side (heaven forbid we'd miss something) Our next rock arrives when I call for it and I'm not ready yet. I want to really get this part pretty settled, if not in the tank than at least in my mind....Take it easy and thank you for being there...Helene <Very exciting my friend. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Ugggh Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo here grateful this isn't another question about Mandarinfish destined to die <smile>> Hi, its me again. Just to let you know that all the 3 Moorish idols and 2 melon BF are all dead! <not a surprise...consistent with stats> Guess they aren't that easy at all compared to the common cleaner wrasse, <I hope you are joking... the common cleaner wrasse is a truly awful and inappropriate creature for most people...almost never to be recommended. While a few do live for a couple of years or even longer... over 90% are dead within weeks of collection. The trade in this animal does not serve the greater good> and I guess that I'll save my money for easier to keep species. I'm debating between the rock beauty or the Cortez angel. Which would be easier? <Arghhhhh! You are killing me! A rock beauty?! My friend... please do get a good book on hardy and suitable fish species for captivity like Bob Fenner's CMA or Dick Mills, The Marine Aquarium. And do not even look at a Rock Beauty until you are an advanced aquarist (if ever). The Cortez is reasonably hardy if you have a six foot tank or larger to responsibly handle it's fast growth and large adult size> I've just got a 5 inch French angel and a 3 inch queen angel about 4 days ago. The French was eating heartily but the queen wasn't.  <Aiieee! I wish you wanted a mandarin at this point...hehe. Mixing angel species that are eventually and naturally territorial and hostile to each other is not responsible my friend. Sorry to be so critical... I'm certain that you have a passion and love for these beautiful creatures. But you NEED to information gather properly BEFORE you buy these animals and that does not include info only from the LFS that is trying to earn/take/steal your money> Surprisingly, I observed that the queen was eating parasites(?) off the pair of golden red sea BF and it has been picking all day long. <very common and well documented...in books <wink>> The interesting part is that the pair of BF is hovering whenever the queen comes close, inviting it to clean. Based on your article, it has been recorded that juvenile French act as cleaners but I'm quite surprised that the queen has this habit. Have you seen this before? <Most standard angels do including all of the Pacific species that I've seen...again, very common... but no less a marvel and miracle of nature> <with kind regards, Anthony>

Strange Brew   46 FI Greetings - I've been in the process of starting my new aquarium. <Cheers, Bill... Anthony Calfo in your service> Here are the stats : 46 gallon bowfront, started with live sand... been running for approx 2 months. All of my levels have stabilized, and I've gotten the water changes down. Current fish are 1 blue damsel (took 2 others out that were used to cycle the tank - they were getting very aggressive) <typical... may want to avoid damsels in the future> 3 percula clowns (tank raised), <hmmm...probably will work out, but don't be surprised if a pair forms and tries to kill the third in time> a psychedelic mandarin goby, <Arggghhhh!!! Somebody gave you awful advice or you need a good book my friend to help yourself. The Mandarinfish is one of the absolute most difficult animals for even some advanced aquarists to keep. Almost all starve slowly and die within six months. You need a large reef display, for example, that is mature with a healthy population of natural plankton to keep this fish alive. Please delve deeper into this subject to see if you want to make changes in your system (like setting up a refugium fast!) or just spare the animal's life by trading it to someone who has a better shot at keeping it alive. Even if your tank was mature enough for it... they are unlikely to survive with active aggressive feeders like clowns, tangs and damsels> 2 hermit crabs, and a chocolate chip star. <no complaints...hardy> this past weekend, we added 2 fish - a Purple Tang (from the size, most likely a baby), <a rough choice considering the passive clowns, cardinal and Mandarinfish> and a Banggai Cardinalfish. The cardinal fish has been hiding a lot - only peeking out momentarily, we've been reading that they are nocturnal - but at the pet store, he was out... not sure what ups with that. Any ideas? <may eventually come out... but if the tang and damsels remain active and aggressive like most... it may just be intimidated like the mandarin. Furthermore... was it in a group of cardinals at the store? They really shouldn't be kept singly... they are somewhat neurotic and stressed once isolated> The Purple tang seems to be scaring the crap out of the clownfish...  <no surprise... more bad advice on putting this tang with peaceful clowns and a mandarin> he isn't chasing them, I think they are freaked because he is a little larger than them. Will this subside? will they learn to get along? <not necessarily... if the aggressive posturing continues beyond three days towards a week... it is less likely to stop and the chased fish will eventually succumb to stress> Thanks for your thoughts...~bill <Bill... do research your fish before you buy them to save some money and lives... its always hard to get objective advice from people trying to sell you something. Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist could really put you in the right ballpark. Please consider it. Anthony>

More Strange Brew * Bill's follow up in stars * Anthony's follow up to, er... the follow up in double carrots Greetings - I've been in the process of starting my new aquarium. <Cheers, Bill... Anthony Calfo in your service> **** thank you very much for your time **** <<again my pleasure... pitching in my share to help aquarists and our dependents>> here are the stats : 46 gallon bowfront, started with live sand... been running for approx 2 months. All of my levels have stabilized, and I've gotten the water changes down. Current fish are 1 blue damsel (took 2 others out that were used to cycle the tank - they were getting very aggressive) <typical... may want to avoid damsels in the future> **** they were used to cycle the tank. the two that were removed were beating up the 3rd, I took those out - and took to the petstore for them to give to someone else to cycle - they were very hearty. I didn't take the 3rd because it has frayed fins - and I figured they would just flush it :)... it is now healthy - and will be taking that one back now too. this one isn't aggressive to any of my existing fish. **** 3 percula clowns (tank raised), <hmmm...probably will work out, but don't be surprised if a pair forms and tries to kill the third in time> a psychedelic goby, <Arggghhhh!!! Somebody gave you awful advice or you need a good book my friend to help yourself. The Mandarinfish is one of the absolute most difficult animals for even some advanced aquarists to keep. Almost all starve slowly and die within six months. You need a large reef display, for example, that is mature with a healthy population of natural plankton to keep this fish alive. Please delve deeper in this subject to see if you want to make changes in your system (like setting up a refugium fast!) or just spare the animals life by trading it to someone who has a better shot at keeping it alive. Even if your tank was mature enough for it... they cannot survive with active aggressive feeders like clowns and damsels> **** This was a major screw up on my part. When I saw the little guy in the store, I couldn't resist - since I've gotten him - I've added about 10 pounds of live rock to the tank - that's been in for like 2 weeks now. Levels are still good, and he appears to be eating - he doesn't hide much - we see him a lot. He also seems to grab frozen brine that I feed the others that drops to the bottom.... **** <<Please keep frozen brine shrimp feedings to a minimum (I personally wouldn't take the food for free or use it. It is extremely low-grade (mostly water) and your fish will starve on this staple if it comprises a significant part of the diet as it likely does for the mandarin. Use Pacifica plankton and especially for Mysid shrimp instead>> 2 hermit crabs, and a chocolate chip star. <no complaints...hardy> this past weekend, we added 2 fish - a Purple Tang (from the size, most likely a baby), <a rough choice considering the passive clowns, cardinal and Mandarinfish> and a Banggai Cardinalfish. The cardinal fish has been hiding a lot - only peeking out momentarily, we've been reading that they are nocturnal - but at the petstore, he was out... not sure what ups with that. Any ideas? <may eventually come out... but if the tang, damsels and clowns remain active and aggressive like most... it may just be intimidated like the mandarin. Furthermore... was it in a group at the store? They really shouldn't be kept singly... they are somewhat neurotic and stressed once isolated> **** Since I wrote the email - I saw the cardinal out this morning - just a side note - the cardinal and tang were added separately.. the cardinal on sat, and the tang on Sunday. At the store - he was one of two in his own tank, with mostly Tomatoe clowns in with him.**** << a good sign already... may work out just fine>> The Purple tang seems to be scaring the crap out of the clownfish... <no surprise... more bad advice on putting this tang with peaceful clowns and a mandarin> he isn't chasing them, I think they are freaked because he is a little larger than them. Will this subside? will they learn to get along? <not necessarily... if the aggressive posturing continues beyond three days towards a week... it is less likely to stop and the chased fish will eventually succumb to stress> **** This is what I hate about the aquarium stores. You'd think because I am going to a real saltwater store that someone where would know what they are talking about. <<yes... good and bad advice everywhere. Your best bet is to be an informed consumer before you walk into you fave LFS>> What are your thoughts on Mr. Purple Tang.... should I take him back, or see what happens over a few days. I haven't seem him go after any fish yet, << do give him a try for a while longer... may work out after all>> and the folks at the store said that "yes, they are semi-aggressive, but only towards the same species... <<mistaken or an outright fib... all Zebrasoma tangs are notoriously aggressive>> they said not to put more than one tang in my tank. <<an interesting and equally inaccurate piece of advice. Tangs are often and easily mixed if dissimilar genera (Like a blue regal with a purple tang). Nonetheless... they all need a lot of room to swim, so one per tank is fine for most>> We are wanting only one more fish in the tank - a Coral Beauty Angel - thoughts on that with the existing setup? ********** <<actually, most likely a great choice. Buy one feeding in the store and then quarantine at home>> Thanks for your thoughts...~bill <Bill... do research your fish before you buy them to save some money and lives... its always hard to get objective advice from people trying to sell you something. Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist could really put you in the right ballpark. Please consider it. Anthony> *********** THANK YOU VERY MUCH! *************** <<you are very welcome, good sir. Keep up the good work with your tank and education. Anthony>>

Fish Compatibility   20 FO <Anthony Calfo here in your service> Can you keep a Burrfish or porcupine fish in a twenty long <tank is too small for either one of these fish alone... Burrfish are not at all hardy anyway... please do avoid> with a fire goby, scissortail goby and a purple Firefish <in most parts of the world... the above listed fish are considered "bait" for pufferfish. Please consider a good marine aquarium reference book to help you through the wonderful maze of questions you have as a beginner. Bob Fenner's Conscientious Marine aquarist, Dick Mills The Marine Aquarium and Mike Paletta's The new Marine Aquarium are all good choices to start with> some other like shrimp and crabs in a reef tank if so what species and any special requirements? <none of the fish you mentioned above are suitable beginner fish... I'd recommend you start with more durable fish at first like clownfish. Anthony>

Beginner's Fishes   120 FO Hi I am a beginner at this stuff and I was wondering if these following fishes would work. It is a 120gallon. Snowflake eel Queen Angel Porcupine puffer 2 Volitans lions flounder Naso tang yellow tang AND maybe a banded cat shark or nurse shark if that will work Thank you for all your help <Philip... you have a nice sized tank and some good choices on the list with a few notable exceptions. Put the sharks out of your mind forever... the nurse shark is inappropriate for most every aquarium you and I will ever see. They grow well over eight feet long and will outgrow your tank promptly or suffer and die prematurely to water quality issues. I personally, like many, have a very grave opinion about the integrity of any aquarium store that makes nurse sharks available to customers for impulse purchases. The banded cat shark gets three feet long and will need to be about the only specimen in the tank for proper stocking...no fun. The flounder is way too passive and specialized for a beginner... forget about it. And by the way... if you have seen flounder and nurse sharks available at a local store... take my advice and find another store... it's a bad sign. Cast your vote for responsible aquariology by spending your dollars elsewhere! Basically, Eels, Lions, and Puffers are generally quite hardy and suitable for beginners. They can make a wonderful tank. Although a bit risky, sturdy angels and tangs may also be able to live together... but wait until much later, after you've worked with the aforementioned hardier fish first. My biased opinion, however since you are a beginner, is to skip the Naso and Queen angel for at least a year. Best regards, Anthony>

Difficult Fish Species Dear Bob, <Hello. Steven Pro talking. Bob is incommunicado for awhile and he asked Anthony Calfo and myself to fill in for him.> Hello, its me again. It is almost 10 days since I purchased the 2 melon BF and 3 Moorish Idols. The melon is fine and well fed as they have been picking at the live rock but not taking frozen brine or flakes. <I hope you are attempting to feed them with more than just frozen brine and flake food.> One Moorish Idol gave up the ghost today, due to harassment by the other two and I euthanized it. They have also not been taking food offered to them but are foraging on the Caulerpa. It is a tough challenge keeping these 2 species, definitely harder than the common cleaner wrasse. Well, I'll keep you posted but one thing for sure is that I will not try these 2 species again if I fail this time. <I very good idea.> Maybe I'll go for easier BF's like the auriga and black backed. <It can take months for a fish to slowly starve to death. Any success is measured in years.>  Good day.

Fish (stocking density guesstimates) How many fish can I maintain in a 55 gallon salt water tank. I have 5 lbs of live rock, a Fluval 304, BioWheel 330, BioWheel 175, and two power heads. <Please read over the stocking, selection articles and FAQs pages on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Thanks, JD

My dragon wrasse, stocking, scavengers... Dear Mr. Fenner: I hope you are off to a Happy New Year! I emailed you before about my spiny box puffer, maroon clown fish, and dragon wrasse. I feed them Formula One and Brine Shrimp plus. I have an ammonia tester which is still in yellow so there must not be much uneaten food. <Don't rely on just one such "tester"... the best assay of what's going on in your system is your careful observation of your livestock's' behavior...> I noticed that for the past 2 days after eating my dragon wrasse will swim upside down as if he is full. His belly appears swollen and I wondered if I should put in only 1/2 a cube instead of the whole one. <A good idea... and I would vary this diet with other meaty foods, bite-size... even "human-intended" seafood like shrimps, clams...> It seems he greedily runs to snatch away food from the clown. <Yes... a good idea to train, feed "simultaneously" at opposite ends of the system...> My puffer eats Krill-e most of the time 2-4 pieces a day. I have been feeding 1 cube of frozen Formula one and then 1/2 a cube 6-12 hours later. Should I feed only once a day? <With this mix of fishes, probably fine> I feed the Puffer 2 Krill-e at a time twice daily. I have a friend that only feeds his fish every other day. Would that be better for the wrasse?  <Yes, if it is over four inches or so in length> I read that the clown and wrasse should eat at least 2 times a day but I certainly do not want to overfeed either. <Agreed> I added 2 snails to the tank to eat algae and then I read in your book that an urchin would possibly be a better choice. <I am surprised the puffer and wrasse haven't eaten them> The puffer hasn't eaten the snails and they usually stay away from the fish. (2 turbo snails in a 55 gallon) I wondered if the puffer or wrasse would harm an urchin.  <If hungry, yes> Do urchins usually live long? My local pet shop "The Bermuda Triangle" says they only get urchins in on live rock and would save me 2 back (hopefully purple ones) but that they don't live long. What would you recommend? <Please see the various parts of WetWebMedia.com here: under "urchins", "marine scavengers"...> OK... I apologize because I know there are about a million questions here but I promised my friend I would ask one more. :) He has the purple lobster that he will give me later when I establish a new tank. It is in a 37 gallon with a tomato clown and Percula clown. He never really sees it. It hides under rocks and also doesn't seem to make tracks along the coral. He feeds it the same formula one and alternates with squid. He says the lobster has molted once and that by moving the rock, he sees it is still alive. Is there anything in particular he could do to make this world a happier place for the lobster to feel enough courage to come out and say hello? <Lower the lighting, increase water circulation, use activated carbon once a month, check the alkalinity, biomineral content of the water...> Thanks so very much for your time and patience in these matters. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Kelli <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Question about butterflies, bag fish sales, and hello    55 F Hello! I have never asked you a question so far but I have been reading the articles on your site for quite some time. <Glad to finally be chatting> My question is this: what is the main difficulty in keeping copper band butterflies? <Adjustment through the rigors of capture, moving, holding mainly... vying with the trauma therein...> I have not been able o find a thorough straight answer. Also, I hear butterflies should not be added to a newly set up tank, but a long nose butterfly can?  <The genus Forcipigers dual species have proven more inherently tough for captive use> My set up is a 55g FWLR. I have about 50lbs. The fish are currently an ocellaris clown, a Christmas wrasse, and a red finned fairy wrasse. My inverts are two brittle stars, 7 hermits, a blue tuxedo urchin, 9 Nassarius snails and a couple Astreas. I will get more Nassarius in the future. Also this tank has a 6" in tank DSB, a prism protein skimmer that is doing a good job, and an emperor 400. My last question is a bout a bagged fish sale. You see, every Sunday my LFS has a sale where fish direct from the wholesaler are put for sale floated in the bags they came in. I think this is a good idea, do you think any fish should be avoided? <Mmm, a few stipulations here: IF one knows what one is looking for... IF one knows what one is looking at... IF one has the capacity (tanks, background, patience...) to properly acclimate, thoroughly quarantine such specimens... THEN such "in the bag" sales can be a good idea/practice. HOWEVER in actual practice, these are a source of more livestock and hobbyist loss (not dead hobbyists, thank goodness) to the trade than any store has ever generated net income or retained consumers... Caveat Emptor!> As I see it, it is almost the same as if you ordered fish online and got them at your doorstep. Please respond ASAP. Thank you. <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> Re: Question about butterflies, bag fish sales, and  Thanks a lot Bob. I have a 20L with some LR and a DSB I am planning to use as quarantine. It used to have fish but I moved those to my 55g. Would a butterfly or dwarf angel in the range of 3"-4" be comfortable in this tank for the quarantine period? <Yes> Also about the sale, I know of fish to pass up because of fragility, but do you have any recommendations as to what fish to avoid?  <Many recommendations... these are posted all over WetWebMedia.com and specially in a few livestock selection articles... Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarLvSel.htm following the links where you lead yourself> I know of angels, butterflies, Anthias, etc, do you find this to be true if the fish in question is healthy in the bag? I know health can only be assessed so much by just appearance, but would one of those fragile fish be an unwise purchase? <Much to discuss my friend. See WWM for a while. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question about butterflies, bag fish sales, and hello I have read through that part and saw some hardy examples. I have also gone through the fish articles and read the profiles. I am beginning to see the picture. So if it is a hardy fish, go for it, but be prepared for the worst if doing the wholesale from dealer thing.  <Yes, well stated> I see that the square spot Anthias is recommended as hardy. <Relatively> Also, it says one to a tank. So I am assuming one male will do fine in a tank by itself? <Better than two... or two of dissimilar sex in a too-small system> Also one link that I typed in for good and bad fishes did not work. Do you have an alternative one? <I don't understand the last paragraph. Which page/s? Bob Fenner>

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