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FAQs about Marine Livestocking 2

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

Related FAQs: Best Marine Livestocking FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Livestocking FAQs 1, FAQs 3, FAQs 4, FAQs 5FAQs 6FAQs 7FAQs 8FAQs 9, FAQs 10, FAQs 11, FAQs 12, FAQs 13, FAQs 14, FAQs 15, FAQs 16, FAQs 17, FAQs 18, FAQs 19, FAQs 20, FAQs 21, FAQ 22, FAQs 23, FAQs 24, FAQs 25, FAQs 26, FAQs 27, FAQs 28, FAQs 29, FAQs 30, FOWLR Livestocking, Small System Stocking, Reef LivestockingAngelfish Selection, Triggerfish Selection

Overstocked or Over-rocked?  It's all About the "O"!  11/12/2005  40 gal FOWLR Hello, I've got a 40 gallon breeder tank and am currently curing 40 pounds of live rock in it. Once I cure it I'll put the rock I have from my 12 gallon aquarium that has gotten sort of overstocked. <... even less room after adding all this rock...> The aquarium has a carbon filter and protein skimmer. Anyhow, would you advise putting a male-female pair of Anthias, or a male and two females of possibly Lyretail Anthias, Bimaculatus Anthias, or Resplendent Anthias. They would be sharing the space with a ocellaris clownfish, blue tang, green mandarin, a pair of banded coral shrimp, and two peppermint shrimp. Brian <Mmm, nope... not enough room for "any of the above".... If you didn't have any fish here, you might fit a Fathead Anthias in... Bob Fenner> 

Trigger's Tank Mates, Fish and Invert Compatibility - (Incredibly) Poor Livestock Choices 10/27/05  80 gal FO I have a 80 gal. tank with 10 gal refugium w/ deep sand bed and huge skimmer.  <Okay.>  I just purchased a 2" Picasso trigger. I have a large sailfin tang, a cleaner wrasse  <Mmm…are you aware of the reputation of these animal?  Best left in the ocean: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/labroide.htm .>  and two juvenile true percula clownfish.  <This is not a good mix long-term for this tank. The potential size of the trigger and sailfin (over 12" for both) alone warrants a 150 gallon tank, furthermore the Trigger could eventually make snacks of its tank mates, especially the clowns and definitely the shrimp.>  <<150 gallons AT MINIMUM.  Added for emphasis.  MH>> Also I have a giant clam that I am worried the trigger will find tasty, although so far he has not ventured a taste.  <Maybe not at his current size…just wait until he gets bigger.>  I am wondering what problems I will run into down the road,  <Yes see above.>  and also wondering if the true percs will become a mated pair or rivals, as they are exactly the same size.  <Unless they are both females already one will become dominant and during this process there could be aggression.>  Additionally, I have 3 cleaner and 1 fire shrimp that I am worried the trigger will eat.  <Yes eventually, seems as if you have a mixed invert tank, needless to say a Trigger is probably the worst choice for this type of set-up. In the future please research before purchasing livestock. In fact its completely possible that this trigger will not tolerate any tank mates at all as it ages.>  What do you think? <I think you need to make some choices about your current stocking scheme, Adam J.>  <<And we'll add to the usual admonition, "PLEASE!  Research first."  MH>>

Done with the Goni., addressing overstocking - Holy Cow! 10/25/05   100 gal FO Hi Adam <Ignatio.> Again, I need to confess that seems I over stocking my fishes.  <Uh-Oh!>  In my 100 gallon (the age: 9 months), I have: 9 fishes + 4 Lysmata amboinensis 1 blue face 4" (2 months already) <This guy is a tank buster…needs a much larger tank as an adult.> 4 Flame angels 2" (3 months already) <Is that a typo?! Four flame angels…. honestly I'm surprised you haven't had more problems, as harsh as this may sound you really should consider ridding yourself a few of them.> 1 Regal angel 3" (2.5 months already) <That's another angel that needs a boat-load of room. WAY to many angels my friend. As well as not having enough physical room, there could….there WILL be aggression later down the road. Seems like you want this tank to go in the direction of a reef so in that case all but maybe the flame (only one preferably) should be omitted. Even without considering the future reef these fish need new homes at earliest convenience, to avoid aggression and space restraints, especially the larger angels and at least 2 of the flame angels…preferably 3 out of 4 as mentioned above.> 1 Chaetodon lunulatus 1.5" (only eat open brain coral) (3 months already) <Careful now it could pick on other corals down the road, including your new Goni, best to omit this one to in a full blown reef.> 1 Yellow tang 2.5" (1 month) 1 Purple tang 2" (2 weeks) <Oh yes the warring Zebrasomas we have spoke of in our previous conversations, well as I said earlier their will be aggression especially as they both become adults, eventually you will be only able to keep one and that's IF your yellow decides to play nice for the time being, you may have to remove one sooner than later.> All of them are healthy and want to eat, some times I saw my biggest flame angel is chasing each other but not too aggressively because I put them in the same time. (the same case like yellow vs. purple tang).  <It will get worse as they get older, these animals weren't "built" to live in this proximity. What seems like harmless nipping, chasing can be quite stressful>Fortunately my Blue face not bothering the others. So what do you think the longevity of my fishes for 9 of them <This array of 9 fish is not at all a wise long term assortment. The blue face and the regal alone need tanks upwards of 200 gallons (separately not together). I would seriously consider re-thinking your stocking list especially if you want a reef, look into gobies, clowns, blennies and cardinals to name a few (after you fix the current problem that is). Lots of enjoyment in these fish most are "reef-friendly" and would make much better long term citizens.> Do you ever go to Indonesia? <<Di Fenner says Indonesia is one of her favorite places on earth to visit.  MH>> <No…farthest away from the mainland I have been is our tropical island chain State known as Hawaii.> Thank you Adam Best regards Ignatio <Good luck, and if you want some more ideas restocking your tank I would be happy to help, Adam J.>

Re: Overstocking and Nuisance Algae, Marine 10/25/05 As always, you help tremendously.  <No trouble you are welcome.>  It looks like the Niger is going to have to go. <I understand.> BTW, I plan to upgrade to a 110 gal. I say 110 because I want to keep the same stand and canopy. I realize that won't give me much but I like the higher tank due to aesthetics. Maybe one day I will get a 200 . . . . <The emperor will need that eventually.> Thanks again, John Michael Woodward PS. In reviewing the archives, it appears that many aquarists overstock their tanks.  <Unfortunately yes.> Should I remove more than just the Niger?  <Eventually (with your current tank size) the Emperor and all but one tang will outgrow the tank.>  Once I remove him, I can probably get more or a clean up crew (snails, crabs, etc.) <Yes your other stock seems to be invert. safe, Adam J.> 

Marine: Newbie Stocking questions - 10/23/05   40-45 gal FOWLR Hi, <Hi Ed.> I have a fair bit of experience in freshwater fish and would like to get a marine tank.  <Very Fun, Very addicting.>  I was thinking of getting a 40/45 gal set up with fish an a few inverts, I would like to get a dwarf lion  <That's going to cause you to leave out most motile inverts.>  (Fu Manchu or Zebra) and I was wondering about tankmates. <While both of the fish you mention are indeed dwarfs of their genera, they are large dwarfs at an adult length of around 7", so you will not be able to keep on ling term in a 40/45 gallon tank. You can keep a juvenile but you would have to ensure it would have a home once it outgrew your tank.> Could I get away with a Mandarinfish or a Psychedelic Mandarinfish, <No please research the needs of this fish, most starve in captivity. They need very large and very mature reef type setting to thrive. A fish best left to those setting up a tank just for it or to veteran aquarists.> together with a couple of smaller clownfish, and a couple of larger hermits to be janitors? <Depending on the relative sizes all of these, they could fall prey to the lion.> Unfortunately if I get a tank of this size I would not be able to fit a sump or refugium of any kind in the space I have available, can you recommend a sensible method of filtration to go with the lots of live rock I'll have to keep the mandarin fed  <In a 40 your going to have to omit the Mandarin.>  and the lionfish sheltered? <Look into hang on Protein Skimmers such as the Aqua-C Remora and be sure to include lots of live rock and a deep sand bed.> Thanks for your time. Love the site, you guys rule. <You're welcome, and thanks for the compliments.> Ed <Keep reading WWM, Adam J.> 

Lots of Fish, REALLY BIG Tank  10/19/05   1000 gal. FO Dear WetWebMedia, <Hello Robertino.> You guys have been instrumental in successfully keeping my current aquarium and researching for my next one. <Glad we have helped.>  LFS tend to be too unreliable and only by showing that I know what I'm talking about (giving scientific names for fish hehe) do they give me real information, be it the real answer or a "I don't know, let me get you someone else". However, I have a question regarding what would be an appropriate size tank for a FOWLR tank that I'm planning on constructing. The fish that I wish to keep are the following: (1) Brazilian Flameback angelfish Centropyge aurantonotus <Hardy fish when collected properly but as with nay angel should never be added to a new tank.> (2) 1 male and 2 female Squareback Anthias Pseudanthias pleurotaenia <Quite Finicky around feeding time, I find that mysis usually works.> (3) Flame Angelfish Centropyge loricula <Same information as the Centropyge above.> (4) Royal Gramma Basslet Gramma loreto <Very hardy and comical.> (5) Tomato Clownfish Amphiprion frenatus (6) Cinnamon Clownfish Amphiprion melanopus <Pick one clown species or the other do not mix.> (7) Foxface Lo Siganus vulpinus - Do they need to be kept singly or could I keep a pair? <Keeping a single specimen is more than okay.> (8) 3 Blue Tangs Paracanthurus hepatus <Well this is the first indication that you will be needing quite a large tank.> (9) Desjardin Sailfin Tang Zebrasoma desjardini (10) Harlequin Tusk Choerodon fasciatus (11) I'm not sure which type of angelfish would be better for this tank. I was considering: Asfur Angelfish Pomacanthus asfur, Regal angelfish Pygoplites diacanthus, Emperor angelfish Pomacanthus imperator, Queen Angelfish Holocanthus ciliaris. I'm inclined toward the Queen angelfish basically because I can collect my own specimen, but I also know of their non-optimal behavior. Also, I'm not 100% sure if in a large system, a large angelfish would pose a threat to the Centropyge angels. <The Regal is probably your worst choice here due to it survival record. To avoid aggression between these larger angels the Centropyge angels you are going to need a BIG tank.> (12) Purple tang Zebrasoma xanthurum <Quite aggressive towards other durgeons.> (13) Sargassum Triggerfish Xanthichthys ringens or Crosshatch triggerfish Xanthichthys mento <Both are pricey but hardy and slightly more predictable in behavior as far as triggers go.> (14) Spotted drum Equetus punctatus. I will collect my own specimen. I understand that they are very docile and I'm concerned whether they would be able to compete for food. Any input? <You may have to target feed either with a feeding stick or turkey baster as far as collection your own please look into the legality.> (15) 1 male and a couple of females of Thalassoma bifasciatum (I'll be collecting these) <Same as above, look into legality.> (16) Goldbar wrasse Thalassoma hebraicum (17) Heniochus butterflyfish Heniochus acuminatus (18) Australian Copperband Butterfly Chelmon rostratus. I'm not sure if it would be safe to house to morphologically dissimilar butterflies in a large tank. <In a very large tank maybe but it is not without risks.> (19) 2-3 Flame Cardinals Apogon spp. <Likely to be outcompeted for food or succumb to aggression with the tankmates you have listed.> (20) 5 Blue chromis Chromis cyanea - again, I will collect them. <Once gain look into legality.> (21) 1 or a mated pair of Sleeper Gold head goby Valenciennea strigata <Should only be added to a tank with a large mature Deep Sand Bed.> (22) Vlamingi Tang Naso vlamingi <Very large species that needs lots of room to roam.> (23) Cuban hogfish Bodianus pulchellus (24) Marine Betta Calloplesiops altivelis. I know they can eat small fish, but I'm not sure whether it would prove a threat to the Flameback angelfish, flame cardinals and blue chromis. If it is, I'll take it off the list. <Possibly a threat to the chromis but as for the Betta itself, they are quite reclusive and in a tank of this magnitude feeding may be difficult.> (25) Sharptail Snake Eel Myrichthys breviceps. I know you guys think it has a dismal survival rate, but I collected one and it did excellent until I decided that I wanted to add shrimps to my current aquarium and released it after having it for 2 years. <Bad idea to release animals back in the wild, please do not do this again.>I will be able to entice it with some live shrimps which will be collected with this individual, before training it on frozen food. <Make sure you quarantine everything before addition to your display.> (Note: I was keeping only fish collected from the same beach. Thus, by releasing it, I did not introduce any foreign pathogens.) <Not true.> I know this is a huge list of potentially large fish. I want to build the tank around the species that I want to keep in the long run. I was thinking a 300 gallon tank might work <Far to small for the species listed.>, but I'm not sure because of the species potentially large size and activity levels. <You have picked some fish with high activity levels, apart from physical space you could also run into psychological crowding. If you plan on a 300-gallon I would revise your list into "must-have" species as you are currently looking at a tank of well over 1000-US gallons. Furthermore most of the fish you picked are mass waste producers look into a large probably custom protein skimmer for this application.> Thank you very much, <Wishing you luck.> Robertino <Adam J.>

Beginner's Stocking Questions - 10/16/05  95 gal. total FOWLR Sorry to bother you guys with a sort of mundane question, but I need a little advice on stocking my tanks. <<Nothing mundane here...glad you show the interest, though tis best to do the research "before" making the purchases...>> I have a 55g tank and a 20g tank with both connected through an approximately 20g sump. The water parameters are pretty stable with this linkage- T 86, pH 8.3, salinity 1.023-24, ammonia 0,nitrites 0, nitrates barely detectable. My sand beds are shallow < 1" (Sorry, I know I'm bucking your advice here) except in the sump/refugium where it is 5 in. <<No worries mate! While I do advocate deep sand beds in the display, if you (anyone) chooses not to go that route then a sub one-inch bed is the way to go...and kudos on the 5" DSB in the sump!>> I also have a 12" HOT refugium on each tank with miracle mud plus rubble, Caulerpa, and Chaetomorpha. <<Mmm...best to pick-and -stick to one specie of alga. These compete for space just a fiercely as any coral/fish does.>> There are at least 100 lbs LR in the system in total. <<A lot of rock...>> I'm running a CPR in sump skimmer but feel like the skimmate is a little wimpy, so I plan to upgrade shortly. <<Best to spend the money for a quality skimmer my friend.. will pay dividends down the road.>> Both tanks also have mechanical filtration. <<Cleaned "at least" weekly I hope.>> I also have a 20g quarantine tank and 10g treatment tank on standby. <<Excellent!>> I perform weekly 10% water changes (I have an auxiliary 20g tank to accept overflow in the event of a power outage, but can also divert water to a 5g waste buck. All I have to do is turn off the return pumps and presto, 5 gallons are removed for my water change. <<A gambler, eh? <G> >> Anyway, current stock is as follows: 55 gallon Yellow Tang  <<sigh>> Tomato Clown pair Magenta Dottyback Bicolor Blenny This is my feisty fish tank, but there is only the very rare, brief territorial squabble between the blenny and Dottyback. <<Yes...no "peaceful" fishes for this tank...>> There's a lot of branch rock in this tank with intricate channels and holes that all the fish enjoy except for the clowns who are at home in a bubble tip anemone  <<another "sigh">>  which occupies one back corner. I think with those two tucked away, and the blenny typically seen as only a goofy head sticking out of a hole in its choice LR, the tank appears less crowded than it may actually be. <<agreed>> 20 gallon Firefish pair Banggai Cardinal pair Yellow Goby <<Much better!>> These are my peaceful, non-competitive feeders in this tank, and they behave pretty much accordingly. I think I've reached my limits and just want to make sure I haven't overreached them. My only disappointment is that I would have liked a Flame Angel and/or Fairy Wrasse for the 55. <<Flame Angels are a fav fish of mine. The 55 is really too small for the tang in the long term, my suggestion would be to return the tang for credit on a Flame Angel...the better of the two choices (angel/wrasse) for this tank in my opinion.>> So to your eye, is there anything in excess or anything missing? <<As already stated...with comment on the need for anemones to be kept in specie-specific systems, by experienced aquarists.>> Since I only have very common fish with a common beginner tank size, this question might be relevant enough for beginners to justify the use of your time. <<Never feel because you are a beginner that your questions have no merit...and the "justification", comes from the fact you and others are out there asking the questions.>> Thanks, Jeff <<Kind Regards, EricR>>

Proposed reef set-up, stocking  8/28/05  55g FOWLR WWM Crew, <Erik> I love your website!  A good friend recently convinced me to shed my fear of "high maintenance" saltwater aquariums and I've since kept myself busy (read: obsessed) over the past two months doing my research. The more I learn, the more I find I need to learn! <Ah, good> I've read many of the FAQ's and articles on WWM (in addition to other web, book, and periodical resources) and would like to share my planned setup with you and solicit your comments and suggestions.  I am still about 2-3 months for purchasing anything, but any feedback you (or the community!) could provide would be greatly appreciated! <Glad to> [I apologize in advance for such a long email.] My goal:  An attractive display of interesting guests with a minimum of maintenance, i.e., allows for occasional 3-4 day trips with no upkeep and 7-14 day trips out with minimal upkeep by house-sitters. Auto-dosers, top-off systems, etc. to be researched and incorporated as req'd. <Okay> My current plan for a 55g FOWLR setup: 80lb live rock 5-in. deep oolitic "sugar fine" sand, seeded with live sand 20g sump tank 250gph protein skimmer (with collection cup drain) Tank pump sized for no less than 450gph to main tank 10g refugium with 40gph flow, 6-in. oolitic DSB, possibly grow macro algae, but mostly for copepod production for main tank guests (esp. Mandarin) Tank guests (in order of introduction): Turban Snails [x10] (sp? Not cone-shaped Astrea tecta) <Many choices> Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) Brittle Star (NOT the predatory Green Brittle!) Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli) Randall's Prawn Goby (Amblyeleotris randalli) Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) [x2] Green Mandarin (Pterosynchiropus splendidus) Longnose Butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus or f. longirostris) <Mmm... this is a bit small volume for a Longnose> The live rock formations will be solidly set on PVC pipe supports (raising it above the substrate).  These formations will have multiple levels and lots of hiding places on each level.  A handful or so of large crushed coral fragments will be sprinkled on the sand surface for the diggers to play with. Lighting details are TBD but 200W of 1/2 "full spectrum" and 1/2 actinic VHO's on sunrise/sunset timing. Other equip: Two 100W submersible heaters 300gph of powerhead circulation So, after all that intro, here are my questions, comments, concerns: Are the Pistol and Brittle Star suitable tankmates? <Yes, can work>   I didn't find anything in the FAQs that specifically says either way.  If not, can you suggest a replacement for the Brittle Star, or is the above guest list adequate without the spiky long-armed janitor? <Again, many choices, and not necessary...> I'd love to have a blenny, such as a Lawnmower, but I'm concerned about the compatibility with the Shrimp Goby.  What are your thoughts, opinions, and/or experience? <A small blenny could work out here... the Shrimp are smart, not pushovers... place it first> There are dissenting opinions on whether oolitic is acceptable for Pistol Shrimp/Goby pairs and whether the Shrimp/Goby pairs are detrimental to the nitrate reduction capability of a DSB.  Your thoughts, opinions, experience? <I like a mix of substrate sizes for such burrowers, but Alpheids will adapt, burrow under a bit of the LR. There is minimum disruption to DSB's, even plenums with adequate screening> There are also dissenting opinions on the difficulty of pairing separately acquired shrimp and shrimp gobies.  Your thoughts, opinions, experience? <If the species are known to associate in the wild, they almost invariably will pair up in captivity over time> Again, your time and responses are greatly appreciated! FYI, I'm looking to eventually turn this tank into a species tank (puffers, perhaps?) <No... too small a volume> and add a 180g reef tank with lots of inverts and a 30g tall hex tank for displaying seahorses.  But all in due time! Erik Pierce <Ah, yes... enjoy the journey. Bob Fenner> Stocking a 70 Gallon... reef Hi, I have a 70 gallon tank with 30 pounds of live rock and 170 pounds of bolt  rock, SeaClear filter, and a Magnum 350 filter. My plan is get a Jebo 220  wt pc light fixture, get an Aqua C remora skimmer and to add mushrooms  and polyps to the tank. I have a Hippo tang, a blue damsel and 2 clownfish in  holding tanks right now so I can fix up the 70 gallon. I plan to get a lawnmower   blenny( do they eat diatoms?), a coral beauty angelfish, either a striped  sailfin ( not desjardinii) or a yellow tang, and maybe a 6 line wrasse. Are there  any problems with the fish I would like to get? Are these fish reef safe?  Are they safe with the fish I have now? If they are safe to add to my tank, what  order should I add the fish in? Should the corals be put in before the fish, or  could I add them after? Thanks >>>Greetings, Your tank is on the edge for even considering one Tang, let alone two. I would forget the idea of putting another Tang in there, ESPECIALLY a sailfin as they are one of the larger species. Lawnmower blennies are notorious for starving in captivity, so I would steer clear there as well. I myself had one starve in a tank larger than yours with plenty of diatoms. The coral beauty is a good choice, as is a sixline wrasse. Mushrooms are very hardy corals, and can bee added anytime after the tank is cycled. Of the fish, the sixline wrasse should be added LAST for sure. They can be rather aggressive, so you want everyone else situated before you add him. Most importantly, take your time stocking your tank. Add fish slowly, and infrequently, and ALWAYS quarantine them. You have enough fish already to keep you busy for a few months. Hippo tangs are one of the more challenging fish to keep - not for beginners. Make sure you quarantine him for at least a month before adding him to your display. I would add him first, and let him become established and verify he's disease free. Then add your clowns, then take the damsel back to the store. Or, if you must add a damsel, add him second to last, just before the sixline. Hope this helps. Cheers Jim<<<

Reef safe-Fish?  120 gal. hello, I would like to get your blessing/critique for the following. Your site is a staple in my research of all marine topics so I have to ask you guys what you think.  The tank is a standard 120 gal with a deep sand bed (4-5") and a whole lot of rock from a five year old 75 gal.  I have a skimmer, sump, etc. as a part of the system.<ok>  I plan on keeping a reef with some soft and LPS corals but I want it to be primarily SPS.<ok>    My ideal tank would be one that is significantly understocked but I love fish too much.  So if there are too many, non-compatible, non-reef compatible etc. fish on my list, then let me know.  Also any suggestions of some of your favorites wouldn't be bothersome.  Here is what I would like to keep in the tank in terms of fish: - Candy or twin spot hog (Bodianus bimaculatus)<very nice reef-safe fish, to about 4" in length> - Yellow tang<also a good choice, would quarantine the hippo and the yellow together and add simultaneously to the aquarium, have seen the two mixed but have heard to add both at the same time.> - Blue Hippo tang<above> - Australian Harlequin<not a reef-safe fish, will eat clams, and crustaceans and are too feisty for a reef setting> - Maroon clown<good choice> - Royal Gramma<good choice> - Coral Beauty<would not trust any Centropyge angelfish in a reef setting, known to nip and harass corals to death> - school of Chromis<good choice> It feels like too many but I have seen tanks with more.  I don't know I guess I want to keep a lot of fish but my conscience is bothering me.  Should I decide between the hog and the harlequin?<yes-HOGFISH> Will the harlequin get too big?<yes to about 12" in the wild> I know that it is not uncommon for harlequins to eat snails, shrimp, and hermits<their staple diet in the wild>- do you think that the clean up duties could be carried out by some starfish and maybe a tuxedo urchin?<can/will eat starfish, urchins> all That was kind of my plan.  Well, critique away...  I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions.<my choices for reef-safe fish are fairy wrasses from the Genus Cirrhilabrus (Cirrhilabrus lineatus is by far my favorite but expensive), clownfish, tangs. Have heard angelfish from the Genus-Genicanthus are "more" reef-safe but I would still research before adding. The Tusk Wrasse is a definite NO NO. You can try the Yellow/Hippo mix, again I have seen it before but would try to add them at the same time. Keep reading at WetWebMedia and good luck. IanB> Rafael Rodriguez

Re: problem with purple tang Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob watches "Crocodile Dundee" for the 8th consecutive time to nail the accent in preparation for his Australian dive trip> Thank you for the info. The condition of the purple tang has improved and there is only one single white spot left. In fact, he's boss around a lot now that he's better. Sailfin was harassed whenever I strap Nori and put it in the tank. Even when I put two pieces at two far end corner of the tank. It is getting to a point that I have to remove the Nori. <yes... often difficult to mix Zebrasoma sp> Question: my intention is to add a flame angel and a long-nose Hawkfish in a couple of months, will the tang and the flame angel get along as their diet is fairly similar? <no...a reasonably safe mix as they are so dissimilar in shape, color and size.> Thanks, Carmen <a pleasure>

New and Misadvised, 75 gal. reef Hi Robert, and thank you for tanking the time to read my mail.. <Jason... Anthony Calfo here, answering Bob's mail while he has been away in the far East perfecting his new found love for expressing himself through the performance art of belly-dancing> I am new to the salt water hobby, but I am very excited, and trying very hard not to get discouraged, but lighting my tank is making it very hard.  <hang in there, bud...really no big deal> Right now I have a 75 gallon tank, that has a pink and purple tip anemone, carpet anemone, and a Sebae anemone. <new problem... anemones are very hostile/competitive with each other (allelopathy). The may look fine for some months, but be assured there is silent warfare going on. Mixing different species in the same tank is fatal to one or all in the two-year picture or sooner. Especially with a tiger like the carpet anemone... well documented. You must separate these animals in the near future in my opinion for their optimum survival in captivity> I also have a sea apple cucumber, <Jason... fire whoever told you to put a sea apple in your tank and perhaps insult them (joking) if they were the same counsel who suggested that you mix anemone species too. Sea Apples are VERY difficult to sustain and one of the worst animals for a beginner. It is unethical or at least inappropriate for this animal to have been sold to you. They may exude a toxin under stress (fish nipping, temperature increase, etc.) that can kill most or all other animals in your tank. I'm sorry to say. It sounds to me like you will be less likely to be discouraged in this hobby if you gather more information on your animal selections before you buy them. Kudos to you for trying so now. Keep up the good work... read some good books like the Conscientious Marine Aquarist and stop shopping at stores that regularly give your such shameful advice> star pulps, and brown mushroom's (which are doing well, but are definitely stretching for more light). <hardy and excellent choices> I also have some live rocks that are growing some other anemone like creature's, and some fan like thing's. Overall I think the tanks doing well. my question is with so many light out there what would be the best light's for me, I'm trying to put together a reef tank with both soft and hard corals. <but not mixed with anemones... a surefire disaster> I look at all these web sites and they have all these light's for five or so hundred dollars, there's no way I can afford that.. I'm looking for something around two or so hundred. <might be tough to fit that bill if your long-term goal is a reasonably well-stocked tank with hard and soft corals. You may have to wait on the inverts until you can afford the lights. Then... 400-600 watts of VHO or PC lights split between daylight and blue colors should work well for most beginner type corals> thanks again for your help in advance. any other pointers or info would be greatly appreciated. <very best luck to you... kindly, Anthony> Sincerely, Jason 

Central System (going over on acclimation, quarantine procedures)  680 gal. FO Hi Bob, I think the selling point that Consistent sea, Inc. had was that they hand picked nice healthy fish and offered them for resell to stores that can't drive to the wholesalers (such as myself).  <Yes... "selection services" have been around for as long as there has been livestock distribution. My friend Walt Smith ran his for decades out of Phil Shane's Quality Marine...> He said he started his business by moving to LA to hand pick fish for a store in NY. He then started offering it to other stores. Anyway, I was just wondering of you knew of this company. I'm kind of leery of businesses that I can't find much info about. <I am not familiar with the company, its agents. I would do as you are... check with others who have used their services> I know that you are a busy man, but if I could give you the specs of the central and quarantine systems that I installed this summer, I would greatly appreciate any suggestions that you may have. <Sure> Central System 12 - forty gallon long aquariums - drilled - with different coral substrates in each 2 - 100 gallon sumps plumbed together Aerofoamer 848 skimmer - pump rated 2000 gph (Works wonderfully) Water pumped through biomedia at 2400 gph 2 - Mag 2400 return pumps each pumping about 1200 gph - Seems to have about 200 gph through each aquarium 2 - Aqua UV 57 watt sterilizers (Doesn't seem to have much contact time - short tubes) <And not many watts for this size system, flow rate... but worthwhile nonetheless> Am Marine pH Monitor Auto Evaporation and SW replacement with RO/DI Water <Nice feature> pH - Avg 8.1 Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 30 - (I think an employee was overfeeding) Salt 1.023 Fish seem to do OK in the central system except for an outbreak of ick from a shipment that was rerouted and got cold. (The quarantine system was dismantled and was being rebuilt when this shipment came in so they had to go in the CS.) (Did you know saltwater and metal shelving doesn't mix?) <Umm, ah, yes> I fought this for 2 months until I got a copper test kit and raised the copper to the right level. (Coral must have been absorbing it). <More likely calcareous rock, substrate... this happens> It doesn't seem like the UV does much in preventing the spread of ick. <You have to have many watts, long contact times to get close to 100% kill rate... realistically, UV's will not prevent, let alone treat parasitic problems> I didn't want to put copper in the CS, but I felt I had no choice. I was also told that UV can't be used while medicating with copper.  <No. Only certain types of chelated coppers are affected by UVs> Should I keep copper in the CS at the recommended level or should I remove it, turn the UVs back on, and possibly add 200mg/hr of ozone? <Are you using non-chelated copper? I would keep it up till your quarantine system, procedures are in place fully> Quarantine Systems There are two separate identical systems. Each has: 6 - twenty gallon aquariums - drilled - painted bare bottoms 29 gallon sump with biomedia Red Sea Berlin Skimmer Mag 1800 return pump - returning about 600 gph - 100 gph per tank Aqua UV 40 watt sterilizer Am Marine pH Monitor Auto Evaporation and SW replacement with RO/DI Water pH - Avg 8.1 Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 30 Salt - 1.023 Fish come in and stay in a system for two weeks. Another shipment comes in the next week into the other system. They continue a two week rotation. <And you bleach filter media in-between use/cycles> The QSs don't have copper in them. I noticed in one system today, though, that there is ick in a couple of tanks. (AAAGGHH!) A customer told me that other stores with similar systems keep copper in the quarantine systems. Is this advisable?  <Mmm sometimes... routinely... better to have good suppliers, use pH adjusted freshwater baths enroute to the quarantine systems... and do w/o the copper...> Should I turn off the UVs and do this? If so, what about dwarf angels, lions, and other copper intolerant fish? <I would hold off coppering if you could... or move the copper sensitive animals to the other parallel quarantine system... though at this point they are likely infested> When a shipment comes in, I try to follow your recommendations for acclimation. I have two 15 gallon acclimation aquariums. I dim the lights, divide the fish up by aggression, and pour fish and shipping water into the aquariums. I drain out excess shipping water, add airstones and start siphoning water from the QS into the aquariums. I add Methylene blue, Novaqua, KM Ammonia Detox, SW Maracyn, Seachem Paraguard. I let this work for an hour or so as the water slowly mixes. This is one part I am confused on - I don't adjust the pH of the water coming from the QS into the acclimation tanks. Which would be better: Allowing the pH to rise from the shipping level to 8.2 from the acclimating water over an hours time, or lowering the incoming water to that of the shipping water then moving them from the lower pH to the higher pH of the QS all at once? <Slowly is better, in the acclimation procedure... with airstones, inorganic-acid reduced pH mixing water...> Or is there a better system? <Trays with system water and reduced pH water both... airstones... red lighting overhead... all mixed water to waste... all nets, trays, specimen containers to bleach and rinse buckets between use> I guess I just want to know if the equipment seems to be sized right. Then if, when, where, and how to use copper in these systems. Any other things that I am overlooking? <A seeming lifetimes worth... but you are on the right tracks, path> Thank you very much for any info you can give. I just want to have the best quality for my customers to keep them happy and in the hobby. <I'm totally with you here. If you have troubles with suppliers or finding same... do contact me. Bob Fenner> Larry Aquatic Designs Little Rock, AR

Re: another stocking question... Thanks for the very quick reply Robert! Let me re-phrase my filtration. I'm doing large water changes on all of my tanks every 2 weeks or so. Usually 10-20%. My nitrates have always been zero on all of my tanks, and apparently the minerals are all there because as you said lots of purple stuff:) I may consider purchasing a skimmer for the tank, but I'm trying to keep it uncluttered as it is in an island that separates the kitchen from the living room. I wanted to go 18" deep but the counter is only 24" wide, so we would have eliminated a lot of counter space. <... then do try to keep the bio-load, feeding minimal> A few smaller questions based upon your answers: Why do you not think a 45G would not be capable of keeping a single flame angel? As, this tank was setup to keep this fish:) I just re read the section in your book about Flame Angels and I see why 2 wouldn't work, sorry for even asking. <No worries re asking anything. It's just a small space for this species... and especially due to the system's shape, being viewed from both sides.> If my tank had a skimmer would the tank size itself be able to hold a longnose butterfly? <Likely> Can you reiterate about the coral banded shrimp? He would eat my large cleaner? And he shouldn't bother a Jawfish? <Oh, sorry re. Was referring to the Hawkfish being problematical with both... when they molt, would be eaten... the two shrimp species may well co-exist, given hiding space, adequate feeding> Will an arrow crab work in this system? I know they prey on smaller crabs and worms, but do they bother shrimps or fish? BTW, would he pick on a emerald crab or zebra hermits? <I would skip the Arrow Crab. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/swcrabs.htm and the FAQs beyond> Thanks for the link to Microcosm, shall I tell Scott you said hi:) <Please> TEE for all the help. Oh, and have you ever considered speaking on bulletin boards? I'm sure www.reefcentral.com would love to see your words. <Yes, have participated on the various bbs... and do so when requested. Bob Fenner>

Re: another stocking question... Thanks for the clarification, I will make adjustments to the stock list as necessary. Hmmm, really wanted that flame and butterfly, maybe I'll have to go buy a 65 (same dimensions just 6" wider) and change the plan (it just finished cycling, has an orchid dotty and a large cleaner in it now, and a few pieces of LR). Oh, well, looks like it's time to cycle some more sand and beef up that counter top:) <And... do consider the "dwarf" dwarf angel species instead... Fisher's, Autonomous, the Cherub...> One more question, I am the webmaster and member of the NJ Reefers Club. What would we have to do to possibly have you speak to a group in the phila/NJ area? <Ask. Am in NJ a few times a year... wife's family live in Garfield, Belmar... let me know about when, where.> Again, thanks for the quick reply's and time to help me from racking my brain. <Racking is good> I will say Hi to Scott for you, <Do so. Bob Fenner> John

Compatibility Hi Bob, I emailed you a while back on the compatibility issues between my c. argi angelfish and my red lip blenny (if you can remember with all the questions you answer)! I found a great home for my red lip blenny at a new store in town, (in a huge liverock curing and coral rehabilitation tub).  <Ah, good> My cherub angel is doing great alone in my 38-gallon and is one of the coolest fishes I've ever had. He doesn't seem to like it when other fishes bother him, but is fine with fishes that don't pester him. For instance, he would chase my blenny all around the tank but only because the blenny would bite him first. But he never fought with the Foxface I used to have in there, (traded him in due to the tank size) because my Foxface was totally peaceful. <Good> Anyways, I'm interested in adding something before my angelfish thinks the whole tank is his own. How do you think the following combinations would work out? I don't want too many fish in the tank so tell me what you think. 1-2 tank-raised Banggai cardinals <One in this size system> OR 1-2 Firefish <Mmm> OR 1 Lubbock's fairy wrasse <The best choice> I purposefully picked more peaceful fishes so they won't be aggressive towards my angel, (which in return makes him aggressive). Are these fish too peaceful to cope with an established cherub angel? <Should be okay... easygoing, but not "dummies". Do also read through re other fishes from the same region (TWA): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/twafwgv1.htm> Thanks for your time, what you are doing with the website is great! <Thank you my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Your advice, please (stocking a small tank)  20 g reef Hi Bob, I enjoy reading your advice to aquarists on WetWebMedia. I myself have a question that I'd like to ask your help with. My tank is a 20g reef that's been running for over four years. I have 23 lb LR, DSB, a finger, bubble, cup coral, one flower anemone, a huge mushroom population, a scarlet cleaner shrimp, and the only piscine occupant is a 2" bicolor blenny. I would dearly love to have some more fish, but I am not sure how many I can get away with in this size tank. I was hoping to add two small (1" - 1.5") mated Banggai Cardinals and a dwarf angel (C. acanthops or a small C. loriculus). What do you think Bob? <Hmm, perhaps the acanthops... not the Flame... and I would go with just one Banggai... in a twenty... or perhaps skip all the above and try a couple of smaller species of tank raised clownfish? Many other choices exist. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Chris

Fish selection...  75 FO Greetings, Bob... I just finished reading (the very long) article on your website about fish selection. I think most of my favorites are on the "good" list, but I was unable to access the good/bad list link (even the revised link mentioned in the FAQ's). <Hmm, will have to check this... the one from the AMDA?> I'm still about 6-7 weeks from actually adding a fish, as we are going on vacation for 12 days at the end of August and I don't want to risk a fish in a new system to my house sitter (less stress for both of us). I'm actually about 1-2 weeks from adding a clean-up crew yet, but patience has never been my virtue. I want all of my research on selection done so that when the time is right, I can buy instead of research! <I applaud your patience with patience> Two days ago, my live rock (cycling the tank) hit the nitrite peak with no ammonia. Basic tank set-up is 75-gallon, Remora skimmer, Aquaclear filter (going to replace when fish are added) and a lovely 40-watt bulb that I'm sure is too old (bought the whole thing used)...the lighting will be upgraded as well...as soon as I can convince my husband to go along with shelling out $400 for some power compacts. I'm thinking about four 96-watt bulbs...does that sound good? <Yes, you both will be pleased> I'd like to have the whole reef thing, so I know I'll need great lighting. And I will add a refugium (hang on back of tank kind) by early next year. So, back to fish selection...these are the specimens to which I've taken a liking: False perc clowns...mated pair preferred Sleeper goby (golden head) Banggai or Pajama Cardinal...do best in pairs? groups? <Individuals to a couple in this size system> Six-line wrasse Mandarin (eventually) <So far, yes... wait on the Mandarin and Goby for a couple of months... as you likely know... for much in the way of "food" to become situated> Does this sound like a "good" list as far as temperaments, etc? Am I overstocking for the tank size?  Would the six-line, goby and mandarin all compete for the same food (and not have enough?).  <Should be fine> And finally, any particular order best for adding them to the tank (all I know is that the Mandarin comes last...like in a year). <Percs, Cardinals, Wrasse, the rest> My primary concern is with my fishes' happiness and well-being in my care (yes, I'm one of those who sometimes cries over dead fish), and I generally prefer tank-raised (no guilt trip about taking the fish away from his home). <Okay all the way around> Thanks for your great website and all of your personal attention. <You're welcome.> Kind regards, Misty Johnson PS. My LFS (which seems pretty good and caring) has a Catalina Goby in stock right now, so I e-mailed them the link to your paragraph about how they don't live well in warm tanks...not sure what they could do with him, but maybe it will keep them for ordering another one. If I had the cash, I'd rescue him and set up a cool water tank for him as he is a beautiful little dude. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Advice, 240 FO Hello Mr. Fenner <Howdy> I have had my 240 up with the same fish in it for almost a year now. I keep a 6" Blueface angel, 5" Yellow Tang, 5"Regal Tang, 9" Naso Tang, 3 Evans Anthias, 5 1.5"-2 " yellow tail damsels, 1" 3 stripe damsel, 1 6 line wrasse, pair of tomato clowns, black Sailfin blenny, flame angel, a yellow watchman goby, a clown goby, and a long nosed Hawkfish. All of my fish currently get along great and are very healthy (the clowns are even breeding). All fish w/o sizes listed are full size adults. <Okay> I would like to add a magnificent Rabbitfish, a pair of flame wrasses, and a splendid Dottyback. In your opinion would this overstock my tank? Do you foresee any problems with compatibility. I would like to add these fish but I do not want to upset the balance in my tank too much. <Hmm, the mix is more or less compatible, and the choices excellent in terms of aquarium suitability... probably fine, though more crowded with the growth of the Blue Face. I give you good odds here of all doing fine. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Everett

Revised Stock List  40 Reef Hi Bob, Using your input to the last email and the information on your website I have formulated a new list for the planned stocking of my 40 gallon aquarium (with 2x96w CF lighting, an Eheim Pro II filter, Bak-Pak IIR skimmer, and 20 lbs. of live rock): 10 Snails (Do you suggest snails?) (Astrea, Turbo, others?) <About three each of these... and see the WetWebMedia.com site under "Marine Snails"> 1 Leather Coral (family Alcyoniidae possibly Sarcophyton elegans) 1 Xenia Pulsing Coral (??)(how hard are these to keep?) <Mostly very easy> 1 Coral-Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) 2 Tank raised Percula clownfish (prefer "true" but possibly "false") <Either will do> 1 Bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea sp.) 1 Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) 1 Butterflyfish (?)(Are there any from the "Good Chaetodon" page that are easy to keep and that don't eat soft coral or anemone) <Not for a forty gallon> 1 Blenny (Lawnmower ?, Atrosalarias fuscus , others ?) <The middle one> 1 Goby (Neon??) <Okay> 1 Starfish (probably Archaster typicus) (possibly a Fromia, do they stir/sift sand) if yes, which one do you recommend?) <Fromias don't stir, but don't get big and eat your fishes> 3 Damsel (probably blue (Chromis or Pomacentridae) (maybe domino or others?) <Not Dascyllus... too big, mean... two damsels maximum here... including the Clowns... i.e., one or the other, not both> 1 Hermit Crab (possibly genus Paguristes) (would it get along fine with everything else especially the starfish??) <Likely yes> I also have a few other questions: 1) How likely is it that two young tank raised clownfish would accept the bubble-tip? <Likely. More than fifty percent> 2) How much, if any, other life could I support in the aquarium (mainly fish but also mushroom "anemone" (Corallimorpharia or sea mat Zoantharia)?  <Some of these would be fine> If any other fish, do you have any suggestions? <Not really> 3) What should I do to prevent/get rid of bristleworms on live rock when I first get it? <Don't worry... the worrying will cause you more harm> 4) What books/authors do you suggest (Baensch, Burgess, Sprung, Delbeek, Debelius, others)? <All these and Sven Fossa, Alf Nilsen, John Tullock, Scott Michael, Eric Borneman> 5) What online livestock suppliers do you recommend (FFExpress, others)? <These are listed on the WWM Links Pages> As always any and all comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot, Kevin <Your note shows considerable study and intelligence. Press on. Bob Fenner>

Fish Selection  40 FO Hi Robert, I got a 40 gallon fish only tank and I've been wanting to get some fish but I just don't know which ones. I want a fish that is nice in color, active, hardy and isn't to expensive. I'm asking you for your advice. What specific kinds of fish would you recommend? Thanks. <Perhaps a pair of tank-bred and raised Clownfish here... Yes, a very good choice... for beauty, behavior, hardiness. Please read through the "Marine Livestock Selection" area on our website here (WetWebMedia.com) for a good introduction to what to select for and how to go about choosing. Bob Fenner>

Compatibility?  110 Reef Hello, I've written you with questions in the past, and have always appreciated the answering back greatly! I have a couple of new questions. I now have a yellow tang, 3 tank raised Ocellaris, 2 four striped damsels, 1 royal Gramma, and a sand sifting goby (not quite sure on the type, he is about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long, with light brown, and orange rusty markings in a pattern along his body, I've tried to compare him to pictures on your website, and the closest thing I've found was a maiden goby. <If you have a bunch of time, and the interest, you might scan through fishbase.org on the Net for a description, image that may lead you to identification> Also I have a variety of snails, and a handful of hermit crabs calling the bottom their own. My tank is a 110 gallon with some live rock, and no live corals, and quite a bit of coral skeletons . (In other words, I do have nice hiding places). After reading up on specific fish on your site, I'm still not sure about the following fish to add, could you help me out? I really like the dwarf flame angel, (had one, but didn't last too long, I think he got stressed out too much. Got covered in white spots by the third day, quarantined him with copper, and he died the second day in quarantine). Although I'm hesitant in trying another one I'd really like to! Like I said, I really like these fishes! <A healthy one should go fine in your system... with the other fishes you list, the use of live rock... I would quarantine the newcomer for two weeks ahead of introducing> I was also thinking about a long nosed butterfly, (but I think he will give me problems, as butterflies are pickers in general, and I once had an auriga butterfly that was picking off all my snails, so I returned him. Am I right in assuming this with the long nose also? <I give you good odds of enjoying a Forcipiger Butterfly here... should leave your snails alone> Also on my deciding list is an African Flameback angel, or any other Flameback angel, but I think also not a good idea if I put in my first choice of a flame angel, right? <Yes, you are correct> And what about a coral beauty with all of these (I saw some at my store that said they were from Fiji, are these good, or not) and I found them very pretty. <Just two maximum of the Dwarf Angels you list here> Now, also, are all of these fish o.k. if I put in a small starfish. I saw one in particular, and I can't remember the name of it now, but I also did not get it yet, as I wanted to double check the compatibility. He is small now, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches, and the store said he will grow to about 5 inches, and that he is very peaceful, and will not bother anything in the tank. He is a very bright reddish orange. I have seen this one particular type in the store often, and they say it's because they are very peaceful, and have never had any complaints about them going after anything.  <Likely a genus Fromia member, and one of the best for aquarium use. Please read through the "Seastar" sections on the WWM site> I have still held back on getting him yet, because I've never had a starfish yet, and would like to hear your opinion. Should I get back to you with the particular name of this guy, or can you give me an opinion in general about starfishes, or do they vary a lot as far as characteristics, and compatibility? Two last fast questions. What exact purpose does the cocoons that cleaner wrasses make around themselves serve. Are they for protection during the night, or is it more of an environmental thing for them while they sleep, <Both these... and may also serve as a food-trapping device> and how do they make it exactly, <Produce the mucus on the body, "blow" it up and over their outside> it seems that one second it's not there, and the next second if I look again there it is when he settles down for the night. He wasn't on my list of what I had at the beginning of this letter because I don't have him anymore. I am also not getting anymore of these for cleaning since I've read your articles on what's a good cleaner, and am taking your advice on other types of cleaners.  Last question I promise). I've read in your maintenance section that buying the products sold in stores for buffering the ph are money for nothing, and that baking soda serves the purpose just as well, and is cheaper. The question is, is that on the buffers sold in the store they give what amount to put per gallon, and I don't know what would be good measurement to use if I try plain baking soda. I don't want to put an amount that will be too drastic, or anything, so what would you recommend? <About a teaspoon per hundred gallons is a safe bet on a weekly basis. Best to use this (and all other additives/chemicals) in conjunction with an (in this case) alkalinity test kit... to ascertain how much, if you have enough buffering capacity. The sodium bicarbonate/baking soda, will not elevate your waters pH to a sufficient level by itself... and the commercial products do have other ingredients in them. There is much more to state that is important re pH, alkalinity...> Thanks, and keep up with the best website in the world for saltwater aquarium knowledge. Greg, Montreal, Qc. Canada <Thank you for your kind words, and for contributing to WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: Livestock Selection Thank you for your quick reply. I wasn't expecting one so soon. I have a few more questions; I hope you don't mind. I wasn't sure what you meant about selecting gobies that aren't "the same" as the algae blenny we have. Are you referring to size or color or something else? <Size, color, occupying the same niche... I recently saw Salarias and Atrosalarias blennies occurring "next to" each other... but with a couple of square meters of inshore space/rubble per individual... they don't like to "share"> Also, as you probably know, it's very hard to figure out some marine aquarium problems since the available literature is chock full of contradictions from one source to another. <I do know this...> But I've been told that angels of any sort would not be recommended because they pick on corals and invertebrates in the tank like butterflies do. <A gross, inaccurate generalization... read on my friend... there are all sorts of diets, tendencies in both these families... no carte blanche warrantee, but some "good risks" in both chaetodonts, Pomacanthids...> I've looked into the two types of tangs you noted, and am excited about the possibility of getting a new one. However, I'm also worried about potential problems with the regal tang. Is there any cause for concern?  <Yes... always.. Acanthurus lineatus can be quite terrible with age, growth, adjustment in a system... but I give you good odds here> Should I make sure to get something larger (our current tang is very healthy, but about as small as they come)? Also, would you recommend Firefish or reintroduction of a couple Banggai cardinals?  <One or the other> We loved the two that were so unfortunately taken by our Hawkfish, but now that he's gone, they might work out. Will there be problems with Chromis or the Dottyback if we tried this?  <Much more likely with a Dottyback> And finally, (so many questions!) are there any fish you might recommend that would do well in a pair in our reef? Thanks so much for all your help. Chris Pua <Please read over the "Selection" pieces and reviews of groups of livestock on our site: WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Thanks (stocking, marine)  40 gal Reef First of all, I would like to say thanks for all of your help (I'm sure I will be talking to you some more however). I would not hesitate to recommend your site to anyone starting a marine aquarium (the brackish section is good also). <Ah, even though that area is just started... hope to write enough for a/the proverbial book by the time we are done> Anyway, my reason for writing this time is to see if you approve of the set-up that I am planning (to convert my 40 gal. brackish aquarium into a marine reef): 1. Soon (hopefully) I am planning on getting 20 lbs of live rock and placing it in a 20 gal quarantine tank for curing (with a Bak-Pak 2 skimmer, a bio-wheel filter, and a fluorescent lamp). After the curing, I plan to add the rock to a bed of live sand in the 40 gallon with compact fluorescent, a Eheim Pro-II filter, and the Bak-Pak 2 skimmer. Good? <Sounds fine> 2. The fish and invertebrates I plan to add (slowly of course) are: leather coral, a Sebae anemone (or other type?) <Look to other, more commonly bred and tank-reared species> a coral-banded shrimp, a small pencil urchin for algae control (?) <There are much better species for this purpose... see the marine set-up and algae control sections of our site> some snails (also for algae), a blenny (again, for algae and looks), a pair of tank raised Clarkii clownfish, a group of Banggai cardinals, a goby (Firefish, neon, or other), a group of damsels (blue, others?). How does this sound? Too much of an overload? <Unfortunately yes... for a forty gallon? Best to have just one Cardinal, no Firefish... and possibly the Yellow Tang> What about a yellow tang? 3. Any other suggestions (I'm still looking at the web site :) ! <Keep studying my friend. I'll be with you. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for everything, Kevin

Wondering (about stocking in anticipation of a huge system)  75 to much larger FO Hello, <Hi there> I have a 75 gallon aquarium set up. it has a Amiracle sl-150, two Fluval 404's for filtration and about 60-85 pounds of live rock and 3/4" of live sand. in the tank I have a 4" harlequin tusk, a 4" volitans lion fish, a 1" red emperor snapper, and a 1 1/2" Humu Humu trigger.  <Wow, surprised the Lion hasn't sucked the last two down!> is this too much for this size of tank for now? <Mmm, not yet> What if anything can I add to the tank, or should I remove any fish (I would get ride of the trigger) right now my wife and I are building a house and have AquArt (Dublin Ohio) building a 1200 gallon bow front acrylic tank (120" x 48" x 46" ) (roughly $6900) so I will be upgrading the above fish to this tank. <I'll say!> Right now we are looking for the tank to be set up and running for a little while by Christmas. Just wondering what your thoughts and concerns maybe at this time in regards to my 75 gallon tank. <All should be fine till then> Ohh yes, I also have a engineer goby who is hiding among the live rock and I am unable to catch him for the last 6 months and he is nearly 8 inches long and is eating flake as well as frozen meaty foods. <Sounds fine> Thank you for your time. Jeff Morningstar, Dayton Ohio <And you for your input. Bob Fenner>

Big tank questions (stocking), 50's and 150 FO Hello Bob, <Hi there> It is me again. Thanks for your help with the xenia questions. I moved them and they are doing better. <Ah, good to hear/read> Now my next question is this. An office building in town is remodeling and is planning on installing several aquariums in the walls. I am not sure of the exact size at the moment but I am guessing 150 gal for the large one and 50 gal or so for two smaller ones. A friend who works there knows I love fish and they have asked for my advice on setting up the tanks. (Great fun, I get to design wonderful tanks using someone else's money)  <Yes, and a worthy task all the way around> Several of the office staff have requests for the large tank: a full size angel, a puffer (porcupine preferred), and a trigger (possibly a clown). Would this work? <For the 150 (or hopefully even larger), yes, could be made to work... given careful selection of the species and specimens. Some Angels and Triggers are unsuitable for such a volume on their own, so you will need to look for smaller, easier-going types> I know anything else in there is fair game for lunch but I am suggesting considerable live rock anyway for water quality help.  <Good idea> Is this going to max out this tank?  <Yes> The smaller tanks are going to be a seahorse tank (I know they are a pain in the rear but he really wants them) <Do look for the ones from Ocean Rider (link on the www.WetWebMedia.com site) from Hawai'i... tank bred, trained on dead Mysid shrimp... as wild-caught specimens are trouble here> and a clown fish with anemone tank. <The Seahorses in a separate tank I trust... lest the anemone consume them. This is my understanding from your statement that there are to be three systems.> These two I can handle, it is just the big one I was wondering about. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give. Olivia <Keep good notes on what you will do. Bob Fenner>

Serious Stocking Plan  92 FO Hi Bob, Hope I have given you enough time to settle back in the old fish race!! <Barely my friend... many exciting (and time-consuming) activities coming up... helping to cook for the Red Dress Run here in SD, a pitch and visit to the Sacto marine club and Steinhart, and getting my pitch together for the MACNA do!> I had told you I would be back with my wish list for my 92 gal. corner. I love tangs and would love nothing better than to have one of each,  <You'd need a much larger (MUCH) system... especially to keep many of them happy they would need to be kept in a group... some sizable> however, I know that is impossible. I have narrowed the tang list down to one yellow and one hippo.  <Good choices> I already have the two false perculas and a scooter blenny that I want to keep. In addition to the tangs, I would like to have 2 Banggai Cardinals, 2 neon gobies and a Foxface. Does this sound like too much?  <Right about the maximum I would try> I have a canister filter, a skimmer, 2 powerheads for circulation and a bunch of live rock with red and green Caulerpa growing on it. At the time I also have the dang damsel and 2 yellow tail damsels. I am definitely getting rid of the domino as soon as I have the time to take my live rock out to catch him. <Sshhh! Don't let that Dascyllus read our e-mails!> If you think I am crowding, I will remove the damsels also. Thanks for holding my hand, maybe someday I'll be brave enough to make these kind of decisions without your guidance (doubtful!!)!  <Ah, my friend. Only offering my scant opinions to aid you in judging what you consider> Thanks as always, I remain your faithful student......Joyce <And I, your humble servant. Bob Fenner>

Serious Stocking, continued Hi Bob, Joyce again. I have been thinking a little more about the wish list and I was wondering if I would be better off with either a coral beauty dwarf angel or a dwarf flame angel in place of the Foxface? I don't want any shy fish. However I don't think any of these three are shy.  <Actually... all three score relatively highly on a "shyness index"... would be out of sight most all the time> I was considering a little later having a few LPS corals and I might try an anemone so I'm not sure which would be the best.  <Keep studying till you do know> I also forgot to ask about order of entry for my list. Do all of these fish do fine in the blue dip? <All the ones listed, yes> I'll be California in December, by then I will owe you a bunch of brewskis!!! Thanks again as always....Joyce <Ew, oh, had a few too many last eve... preparing for the Red Dress Run... Badly ion-unbalanced, Bob Fenner>

Bio-load  37 Reef Hi Bob, I am trying to determine what is an acceptable bio-load for my tank. I have a 37-gal eclipse system with a Remora protein skimmer and a maxi-jet 400 for additional circulation. I have about 45-50 pounds live rock with a 3" aragonite base. The tank contains a blue damsel and a Pseudochromis diadema. I also have a Hawaiian feather duster, breadcrumb sponge, blue and green mushrooms, a variety of polyps, two Mithrax crabs, about twenty five hermits of different types (I really like hermits) and a dozen Astreas/Turbos. I also have a large growth of Caulerpa serrulata. <Sounds like a very nice set-up> How can I determine what impact different type of life will have and what is an appropriate amount not to exceed?  <Hmm, all a matter of "guesstimation" depending on gear, size, type, order of introduction, size of livestock, dynamics of their interactions... of course, best always to under-crowd...> Do mushrooms and polyps add much to the bio-load? <Yes, by virtue of their chemical and physical interaction potential> I would like to add a third fish as the damsel gets bullied a lot. Maybe a maroon clown or dwarf flame angel.  <Both really too large for this system...> I would also like to add a shrimp or two if possible to complete the tank.  <This is a possibility. Please look over the "Shrimp" sections on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> Your input is always appreciated and maybe you could suggest a fish and or shrimp if there is room. Thanks, Lowe <Maybe take out the current Damsel and replace it with a couple of Chromis... perhaps a small species of goby, like an Engineer? If you're going to skip on the shrimp, one of the smaller Hawkfishes? Bob Fenner>

Re: Bio-load Thanks for an incredibly quick response. What do you think of removing the damsel and adding a pair of Banggai cardinals? <A better choice. Make them small to start. Bob Fenner>

New tang, big-fish-mix (marine livestocking)  160 FO Wow, what a strange week in fish world! (That deathly sick show queen.) I did a 80gal water change, the damn fish was pigging out within a day! On the other side of the spectrum, I lost a large crosshatch and Naso tang due to a 2 in gap at the back of the tank! My question is one of suitability: I have:  a show queen angel Australian tusk 6in blue face (boy has he grown) and a clown I would like to add ultimately, a large Hawaiian Durgeon (from what I have read they are non aggressive) red sea green bird wrasse lunar wrasse Formosa wrasse another Naso perhaps another tang (ACHILLES), or are there any interesting fish that you might recommend? <Oh, I see this tank is larger than the eighty you mention above...> The tank is a 160, from what I have read on your site and in your book, the Durgeon should work, along with the wrasses, I just wanted to make sure before I start acquiring. Clearly, however, I will be purchasing glass first to cover that (demonic?), gap at the back of the tank!! <Ah, yes. A more peaceful, not quite so huge trigger species.> Always learning, Tom <And therefore living. Bob Fenner>

Fish stocking plan/ning  46 FOWLR Bob, I have really enjoyed reading your book and looking over your web page. I am setting up a reef tank again. The first time I did not have much luck.  <Let us plan and make your next attempt what you seek> I have a 46 gal bow front with JBJ lighting, Bak pak filter and two power heads. Is there anything else I need? <Does the CPR Bak Pak you have incorporate a protein skimmer? You need one.> I have 50 lbs. of Fiji live rock and I am wanting to do soft corals for the most part. I am trying to plan what type of fish to put in the tank and how many.  <Good idea> I have talk to many people ( probably too many) <Hmm, as long as you "talk to yourself" first and foremost, no problem> and everyone has a different opinion. I do not want to over crowd the tank but I want as many hardy fish as possible. The only fish that I have to have is a Percula clown. I want fish that will be beneficial to my reef system. I like the looks of angels, tangs, Dottybacks, grammas, assessors/comet and fire fish. If you could give me some guidance as to how many and what kinds of fish would work for my system I would certainly appreciate it. Thank You for all your help. Jason <Well... you could have one dwarf angel in this system... if you chose such, I would look to the "dwarf" dwarf species... read over the genus Centropyge coverage on the WWM site here. You could have one tang... a smaller species of the genera Ctenochaetus or Zebrasoma... coverage, you know where. Likewise just one of the "nicer", if you can tank-bred and reared species of Pseudochromids (Dottyback) OR assessors/comets/roundheads (hardier, easier-going than wild collected) OR a pair of Firefish... do keep gathering information about these fishes temperaments, husbandry until you feel secure in your choices. Bob Fenner> 

Re: long term planning  120-180 FOWLR Hi Bob, Thanks for getting back to me so fast! I appreciate it. 4 clown fish it is. If you don't mind, I'd like to run the fish I'd like to have in the tank by you and get your opinion: Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum) 3-5 Swiss guard Basslet (Liopropoma rubre) 1 Blue Assessor (Assessor macneilli) 1 Yellowhead Jawfish Opistognathus whitehursti) 1 Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani) 3 Orange striped Cardinalfish (Apogon Cyanosoma) 3-5 Red spotted Hawkfish (Amblycirrhitus pinos) 1 Black-Axil Chromis (Chromis atripectoralis) 4-6 Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) 4 Sharp finned Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus angulatus) 1 Red spotted Blenny (Istiblennius chyrsospilos) 1 Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora) 3 Neon Goby (Gobiosoma oceanops) 3 Wheelers Watchman Goby (Amblyeleotris wheeleri) 1 (& attendant Pistol shrimp) (sorry if I butchered the Latin) <Socios miseris habuisse dolorem dicet: Cicero in the 2d century, (though lifted by Billy Shakespeare), "misery loves company")> I based the numbers of off the information I got from Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" and from various web sources. <A worthy source (Mike.P) and a good list I'll warrant> The tank itself will be at minimum 120 , <I'd make this at least 180) 1/3-3/5 volume in live rock, 4-5 inches of substrate (for the Jawfish and watchman/pistol pair), a 55 for a refugium using an Ecosystem filtration setup & a 20 gallon for a quarantine tank. I was planning on MH and VHO for the lighting as I would like to keep corals also. I'm planning on setting up the refugium first to get the macroalgae going and stocking the mud with a piece or 2 of live rock from an LFS, and maybe a kit or 2 from a couple of different web companies. Let that cook for a while (3-5 weeks). Next was putting in the rock and sand, letting it sit for a while (3-8 weeks till everything tests ok), then gradually introducing everything over the course of roughly a year, starting with the less aggressive species first and ending with the most territorial. I plan on keeping a number of inverts also (besides the aforementioned corals). Cleaner shrimp, lettuce leaf sea hares, a pair of coral banded shrimp, a clam, sponges, and tunicates, in addition to detritivores/sand stirrers/ and cleanup crew (several varieties of snail and blue legged hermits). <Sounds like a good workable plan... and obvious you've been studying> I'm going to be searching for new LFS's, as I'm being relocated from Denver, CO to Eugene, OR. By any odd chance, would you be familiar with any high quality stores in the area? <Only through second-hand "experience"... I'd be getting out the phone books, making an itinerary, chatting with other hobbyists in the area... maybe joining a marine club.> Thanks again for your help and advice, I wish there were more people like you working at LFS's. Mike <There are my friend, and many more to help. Bob Fenner>

Livestock compatibility chart What do you think of the attached compatibility chart? Would you make any changes? Also, please feel free to add any references (books/articles) to which we can refer people. Thanks! Wayland <Well, looked over and over your chart while in the Far East... good work, and dangerous (as you well know) to make broad sweeping stmt.s to hobbyists (I know all too well, from continuously doing so). I would go ahead with what you've presented (finished), with the proviso stated above it and below: "This Chart serves only as a general guideline... Marine Fishes are individualistic and all aggressive/opportunistic to a point. Do your best to stock yours at appropriate sizes, under-crowd, keep well-fed, and above all under constant close observation". Bob Fenner>

Ethics in Aquarium Service  75 FO Greetings Bob (or is it still Lorenzo manning the ship?): <Am back, but just barely> Here's a question that may be a bit different than most you get... I run an aquarium service business. It's in its infancy, but business is rapidly beginning to pick up. Already I've run into a little problem, and would appreciate your advice/thoughts. One of my commercial clients is pressuring me to *grossly* overstock his tank. I won't get into all the details, suffice it to say that what he wants is a tank *FULL* of fish. We're talking 30 or so fish in a 75g marine tank!! I of course, do not want to do this. Through education, I have been trying to discourage the client, and help him understand why this is such a bad idea. He seems to listen, but I still get the feeling that he's thinking "this is my tank, I pay you, you do what I want". <Really? Then let him overstock and kill the livestock.> Prior to working with this client, I did put together a contract that outlined my services, prices, blah blah blah. In that contract, I specified that I couldn't guarantee "livestock lifespan" (who can guarantee life?). <No one and everyone> I did NOT however, specify that I would be the ultimate decision-maker on exactly WHAT goes in the tank. We discussed his needs in length, and he NEVER brought up this idea to overstock his tank. In fact, we'd outlined several possible stocking plans, all of which he seemed excited about, and he's been pleased with the service so far. I suspect he saw a tank somewhere that had way too many fish in it and decided that was the look he wanted. I suppose that I could just cram this tank full of fish, and replace them as they die off (customer pays for livestock). But I have a fundamental problem with killing fish in such a pointless fashion. My client sees them as "just fish" and doesn't seem to care if his fish die and get replaced. He wants that flashy, overstocked tank (and he can afford it)! I will of course, continue to educate and persuade this person that overstocking is the wrong way to go. In your personal (and professional) opinion, should I just stuff the tank and replace the livestock as it dies off, or should I hold firm and refuse to stock the tank in this manner? (Which means I could/would lose the account) <There are grounds of "reasonableness" in such judgments ("how much overstocking is expedient")... I would shoot for some "middle-ground" here> I need customers. On the other hand, I also feel a strong need to do what is right for the captive fishes. Any opinion? Is there some way to write a better contract the next time so that I don't have to go through this scenario again? Am I "out of bounds" in refusing to do what this customer is asking? Regards, hope you had/are having a great trip to Asia! Jay T. Fishy Business Complete Aquarium Service Commercial & Residential Jay Thompson - Owner/Operator Phone: 602.614.7251 email: FishyBusiness@go.com <Thank you for writing so lucidly. "In the final synthesis each must decide for them self"... Above all be true to yourself. State (in writing and verbally) "I would do so and so, and wouldn't do so and so, and the reasons for it... and if indeed you come across situations that call for you to compromise your values (what you prize as important, valuable, ethical...) choose what you deem to be right... irrespective of apparent "needs" for customers. Don't cheat yourself, this is impossible. Bob Fenner>

Could you help? (stocking questions for a marine system) 75 FO Mr. Fenner, <Hi Gussie, Lorenzo Gonzalez for Bob still...> I am nervous about writing to you. I have read your books and am looking forward to the next published. I recently discovered your web page and have spent hours reading everything I can. I have worn the spine of T.C.M.A. out, and your web page is for now my home page. I am a novice to this hobby and you have been a irreplaceable source of information. <<Deeply gratifying to read. Bob F>> <He'll be very glad to hear it. He's a pretty awesome guy. EXTREMELY friendly, amenable, even if his email replies seem 'short' sometimes, it's because he gets around 30-40 questions a day...> <<And this isn't the only e-addr. they come in on Zo-ster...>> If you could lend a bit of advice I will be in your debt. I have a 75gal. saltwater aquarium. A Wet/dry filter, red sea skimmer, a wave-maker on low, 78 degrees, Ph 8.2, S.G. 0.0023, 0 amm., 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, 40lbs L.S., 65lbs L.R. 3 Sergeant damsels (laid back) 2 Domino damsels (1 fairly territorial, 1 laid back) 1 3" Clarks Clown (territorial and aggressive but not to the point of causing injury) I would like to eventually take the damsels away and have; my Clown, Flame Angle, Yellow Tang, and a Zebra Lionfish. This is my first stab at a grouping for my aquarium. I feel like, as far as size and compatibility, I might be close to the disaster line. I worry that my Clown will be too territorial and will harass my other fish into an early grave. In your opinion, do you think my fears are justified? I could really use some reassurance. <I think the mix you have proposed is possible, but is definitely the limit for your 75. In fact if you are successful, your selection will nearly outgrow your 75 within a few years, and will require at least 90g to be truly comfortable. Tangs are real cruisers, lions are messy, Angels are wanderers/explorers. For compatibility, a flame angel can usually learn to avoid a bully clown, yellow tangs are waaay faster than mean clowns, the lion fish should be the very last fish you add, and should be at least as big as the clown, but not much bigger.> I hope to hear from you, or the care takers of your web site while you are away, as soon you have a chance. :) Best wishes, Gussie <Best regards, good luck, and 'be chatting!' as Bob likes to say!-Lorenzo> Marine Fish, Stocking  37 FOWLR <Cheryl, Lorenzo Gonzalez standing in for Bob, who's on Safari in Asia...> I have just recently set-up a salt water aquarium. It is 37 gal. with live sand and a live rock. I started with two damsels. My tank cycled really fast. then I got a yellow tang and a clown fish. Another fish guy said that my tank couldn't have gone through the cycles that fast (9 days).  <It is possible, if you started with a good bed of live sand, plus that (one?) live rock.> After I had the tang for three days. I checked again and all the levels were at 0. The tang got a fungus and I used dip-a-way on him, after two dips he seemed fine. After 1 1/2 weeks he started to turn light yellow and I noticed a few spots on him. I checked the water again, (ph 8.2 , ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates- at 0 level.. I put him in another tank (5 gal.) and he got worse ...then I dipped him again and he looked better. I'm getting copper to add today. I couldn't get it earlier) <Don't put that copper in your main tank! It'll destroy the live sand, and kill your rock! That's what quarantine/sick tanks are for, I'm glad to hear you already have one...> I just found the web site today and I read your articles-questions. (I loved all the information) I have decided to get a cleaner wrasse...all the cleaner shrimps are gone. After the store gets stocked again...can I get a couple cleaner shrimps...or do they work if you have a wrasse in a 37 gal. tank? <Yes, you can have the wrasse and the shrimp together in the same system. I sure wish you'd change your mind on the wrasse, have you read Bob's articles on these 'obligate cleaners'?> When you say to freshwater dip new fish, is that after you have acclimated it before you put it in your tank? <You can freshwater dip a fish almost anytime, but in between the transport bag and your quarantine tank is the most common/appropriate time. Read Bob's FAQ's on dips, for more info> I noticed that a lot of people in your questions/answers have a lot of fish even with a small tank.. I figured that I shouldn't get more then 8 fish?  <Bad idea, you're right. It can be quite hard to strike a good balanced bio-sphere with too many fish. The '8 fish' figure depends entirely on the size and eating habits of the fish you have in mind. The only way you're going to pack 8 fish into a 37 gallon system is if they're really tiny.> I also noticed that people have several tangs and angels. I thought you are only suppose to have one tang and one angel because they don't get along...is that true?? <Many varieties of tangs are great schooling fish, in a large enough system. But angels should generally not be mixed with other angels, and an angel and tangs are usually just fine together.> I haven't gotten a skimmer yet.....Is it important to get it within the next month? <Get a skimmer as soon as you reasonably can - it's the most important piece of hardware in a 'mostly fish' or 'FOWLR' (fish-only with live rock) system, in my opinion.> Thanks for all your information. Cheryl <Quite welcome, of course! -Lorenzo>

Last few questions... (set-up, stocking)  100 FOWLR You've been invaluable to me as a reference as I setup my new 100G FOWLR tank. I have a few remaining random questions if you don't mind. <Please> I have two lighting systems to choose from and will sell the other. They're almost identical... like the JBJ Venice Any preference between two 55W bulbs or four 36W bulbs? Since it's fish only I know it doesn't matter too much... but I can only fit one, so I thought I'd ask. <I'd choose the 55s just in case...> I read from your Faq's that a guy had a "difficult" time mating the Eheim 1060 to the TF1000. Your thoughts? Is this most easily done with flex tubing or hard plumbing? <Flexible> How big (Law) does the plenum in my Rubbermaid 40G container need to be to be effective? <... a one inch gap, three inches of substrate, 1 1/2" each would be nice> I have the TF1000 and a return pump in there now, so I can't use all the space as it is now. One thing I thought about was putting in the plenum across the entire Rubbermaid container... then place in the return pump and TF1000 on top of the plenum, suspended an inch over the plenum via egg crate and/or PVC. Your thoughts? <This is what I would do> You know how the order of introduction of fish into a tank is important... like putting in the most aggressive fish last. Does this make a difference when simply relocating fish to a new tank?  <No, negligible difference> I have a black spot angel that kinda chases the flame angel around here and there... would putting in the flame into the new tank first, like a week ahead make a difference, or do fish remember each other and old behavior takes over. <Better to just place all at once...> I'm thinking of either dropping the black spot angel or flame angel to get a juvenile emperor instead. Suggestions?  <This fish will eventually be too large for this system... Better not to unless you're planning on a bigger tank within a year> Other fish in the tank are a small Picasso Trigger, small Maroon clown and a medium Valentine Puffer. All fish get along great now, except for the mild angel rivalry. <Bob Fenner>

Fish list  100 FOWLR Greetings Bob - hope this note finds you well. <Yes my friend, thank you> A quick question on fish compatibility/stocking. (I bet you get sick of these questions...). <No, at least, not yet...> I currently have housed in a 100 gallon FOWLR tank the following: * Imperator Angel (5 inches, still juvenile coloring, though looking very close to beginning to change). I've had him for 14 months. Definitely king of the tank. * Picasso Trigger (3 inches). Held 6 months * Powder Blue Tang (4 inches). Held 12 months * (true) Lemonpeel Angel (3 inches). held 6 months * Miniatus Grouper - gorgeous, stunning fish! (5 inches) Held 1 month * One uncatchable huge Four-Stripe Damsel that has cycled four tanks now. (He can ONLY be caught in an decor-less, half full tank.) <I'll bet... and further that s/he believes s/he is "king of the tank"> All the fish appear to get along fabulously. They all eat VERY well. In fact, I believe Mr. Grouper polished off two "Neon" Damsels that I also couldn't catch. I didn't think there was any way he could swallow those damsels, but they're gone, and he's got a fat tummy (and a lot bigger mouth than one would think). <Very likely so...> In your opinion, are these fish "compatible"? Obviously they can't be all that incompatible, given how long they've lived together, and they seem to be thriving. Was wondering though about when they get bigger? The trigger is pretty mild mannered as triggers go. A friend told me there was no way the grouper would fit in, but he seems to be doing fine, and gets bolder every day. <They are compatible... as species in general and as individuals... do wish they were in a much larger system... two hundred gallons or so now... three hundred or so for about average maximum size... There may be some troubles with growth, crowding... especially should food, oxygen, many other possibilities become limiting...> Was thinking of adding another fish, but am unsure how much to pack into the 100 gallon tank. It's got about 70 lbs live rock, well filtered, water is great, meticulously maintained. I'd like a clown trigger (I know, I know). Or I just saw my first Harlequin Tuskfish and it was beautiful--still reading up on that one. <Please, no more fish/es... start planning for the larger quarters...> Opinions seem mixed on adding a clown trigger to this already well established group. Your opinion would be appreciated. I was thinking of getting one bigger than the current resident trigger, but the fine LFS said smaller would be better. Now I'm confused. <Don't be confused, and don't add a Clown Trigger here... Please read over the 'Trigger' sections posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for a bunch of anecdotal accounts of what has/might happen/ed with such introductions in too-small, crowded systems... trouble> Once again, you can't be thanked enough, nor paid enough for all you provide to the hobby! Any hope of The Conscientious Reef Aquarist being published? <I am going to write and beg Glen Axelrod (and James Lawrence, again!) to consider this project... have much of the sections written, the images on hand... Thank you for your kind, encouraging words... and do keep goosing me re please. Bob Fenner> Regards, Jay T. Fishy Business Complete Aquarium Service Commercial & Residential

Re: Fish list Thanks for the thoughts. Will take your advice and add no more. And rest assured that a bigger tank is already in the plans. Have been eyeing a lovely ~350 gallon custom tank that someone commissioned and then bailed out on. Probably can't afford it for another year unless my service business does better than expected. <Perhaps we can devise, divine a new marketing campaign for you to add accounts...> Do you think my fishes listed will be OK for another year or so in the 100?  <Probably... but this is about it time frame wise> I definitely do not overfeed, and fish growth is intentionally held slow because in my experience, the fish seem to do better if not "pushed" to grow too quickly.  <Yes, assuredly... healthier, longer-lived.> (They are far from starved, just not pushed to grow quickly--I think you know what I mean). I could also move one fish to my 60g reef tank, but I'm thinking only the Lemonpeel would be appropriate for that. A customer is begging me to sell him the Imperator, but I just can't part with him as I'm pretty fond of the guy. <I understand> Could/would some sort of "grass-root movement" from your fans (and there are many) to your publishers help convince them of the benefits of printing "CRA"? I'd be happy to help organize such a thing if you think it would help. <Hmm, interesting possibility... will cc your note here along with my own to "the powers that be"...> Also, I've seen in several FAQs on WWM where you mentioned posting some of the policies/procedures and info from your old shop. But I can't seem to find anything. Is it there? <Oh yes... a bunch... but do need to place many images to go along with articles, action plans, contracts, releases... all on the "Aquatics Business" Index, parts of the WWM site... you will be happy, amused and inspired reading through someone's works who has been "there" as well. Bob Fenner> Regards, Jay

What next.. (stocking)  75 FOWLR Dear Mr. Fenner, For four months now I have worked on establishing the correct environment for my 75 gallon (48x18x22) saltwater aquarium. I know it is because of your web site and books that I am successful thus far. <No my friend, it is due to your efforts... we only provide ideas, opinions... "thoughts w/o action are worthless".> This letter is first off my way of conveying my most sincere appreciation and gratitude for sharing your knowledge with beginners of this hobby. It has done more for the well-fair of my tank, but most importantly for the gift of a aquarium that gives me peace in a crazy world, and a feeling of worth. <Ahh, thank you... no greater goal.> I have one question, or I should say a need for advice. I cannot promise that I will not have more in the future but this is the most important as of now. :) My set up = Delray wet/dry filter, Berlin counter-current skimmer, 80lbs live rock, 20lbs live sand as well as finely crushed coral (about 2" deep), all my water levels are perfect. I have no fish and three blue legged hermit crabs that had hitched a ride on my LR. When I set up my system I used uncured LR to start and it was just three weeks ago that my water tested right. A long time but I am sure it was well worth it. <Yes> Lots of coralline algae overtaking the rocks. I have 440watts power compact light on for 11 hours a day. Here is the kicker though. Fish. I have no bloody idea of what kind to get. I'm not picky, I do like the boxfish or puffers but I know the limitation<s> that come with them. What I hope for is at least two fish that draw the eye because of color, or striking appearance. Some bottom dwellers to stir some sand. Maybe some fish that can be kept as a small school to add some life and activity. I basically want a well balanced tank that gives the best overall show and variety. Could you possibly name a good size combination for my aquarium, taking in to account the above preferences? I know it is a lot to ask but I genuinely have no idea of what to do. Your suggestions would mean the world to me. Even if I do not hear back from you. I just want you to know that you have been the mentor that I needed, and still are. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Clair Bennet <Ah, please do re-read the "Livestock Selection" (marine in general and reef) posted on the WWM site... and at this time, take your time, look through fish books, visit fish stores, a public aquarium... to develop your stocking list... perhaps with a key species as a centerpiece to build around... There are many choices... and you will know when you have found them. Bob Fenner>

Re: question on a Firefish Thank you for your quick response. Do you have any suggestions on reputable dealers? Tara <Yes, look to the etailers posted on the WWM site, AND query the users/consumers of such via the hobbyist listservs, AND ask the folks in your area which LFS they recommend... Bob Fenner>

29G Reef Hi, I have a 29G w/ 2 55W PC lights. I'm planning on a reef set-up, but still haven't decided on any fish. I really would like a clownfish or two with an anemone, I was originally thinking 2 Maroon clowns but decided they are probably too big.  <Likely, yes> I think I might try the ocellaris. Some other fish I was thinking about was a pearly Jawfish and maybe a neon goby. I also like the Half-black angel, Kole or Scopas Tang, FuManchu Lion, and some kind of Frogfish. (I'm not thinking of adding all of these)  <Ah, what a relief> I know these last fish will need some more consideration before I get any and that they would influence the set-up of the rest of the tank. Any input to help make this decision would be greatly appreciated. Matt <Please read through the "Marine" and "Reef" "Selection" pieces on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com and the many survey articles there... you have a good grasp thus far... now hone that stocking list. Bob Fenner>

Mail order fish. Bob, I have only crappy LFS around me. I consider almost all of them death trap for any fish. They are like a Nazi death camp for fishies! For the last 8 years I have been going up to Skokie IL (Sea Shell Pet Shop) and Park Ridge IL (Living Sea Aquarium) for my fish. That is about an hour and a half trip for me with traffic). They have superb stores and I highly recommend as a top class stores.  <Good to hear/read> I really would like to give them more business but they are too far away and are expensive when compared to FFExpress. I want to try FFExpress for buying fish. Have you any words for me on this. <Have known the company since its inception... very good customer service, good folks. Am glad to be associated with them> I used to be the "fish guy" at a local pet store and we used to get in shipments much the same way with shipping. (I quit there because they too killed almost everything they touched! My advice and ideas were flushed along with their fish. Then of course there was all of those STUPID customers killing massive amounts of their own for ignorance and stupidity. Sorry, I digress.) <Geesh> I can save a lot of money with FFExpress but will do so only if the company is good. It is hard to get any info on this. Zimmy <Hmm, they do post customer reviews... but you might try asking on the various listservs and bulletin boards on the net for opinions of actual customers... Bob Fenner>

Stocking list  55 Reef  Hi! Thanks for having such a useful forum. I am setting up a 55 gal. Fish & hardy invert system. I have 96-watt PowerCompact light, an Eheim canister filter, CPR BakPak skimmer/filter, 50 lbs. of live rock, & 30 lbs. very fine aragonite for substrate. I am trying to work out my stocking list and have a few questions. <Sounds like a nice system> Here are the species I am considering: FISH Purple Tang OR Sailfin Tang Coral Beauty OR Flame Angel Snowflake Moray Royal Gramma One of the sand-sifting gobies INVERTS Mushroom anemones featherdusters Blue Linckia Star Hermit crab Nassarius bumblebee snails Also want to cultivate macroalgae for the angel & tang to eat. Here are my questions: 1. Will the snowflake moray eat the Gramma, goby? What about hermits & snails? Will stocking it last mitigate these concerns? <Maybe the hermit crabs. Should leave most else, all the fishes alone.> 2. Will a dwarf angel munch on the featherdusters? 3. What kind of sand-sifting goby etc. would you recommend? <Please see my list on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com... under sand sifters, Gobiids.> 4. I read your article on reef maintenance, but am still unsure about how best to keep the live rock in good shape... it's already being overtaken by brown algae... that's why the snails are on the list. Do you have any better ideas for my system? <There are so many variations... as you can appreciate with size of systems, components, types of livestock... more light will help here... as definitely will your culture of macroalgae... don't get too focused on this situation for now.> If you have any other feedback on my choices, I'd love to hear it. Thanks for your advice! Suzanne. <Do agree with your "or" statements... and think you should be okay to start placing the fishes. Bob Fenner>

Fish compatibility & stocking levels  65 Reef Mr. Fenner, I own a copy of your book and find it both enjoyable to read and a great resource of info. <Ahhh, glad to read> I am a beginning marine aquarist with a tank that has been 'maturing' for nine months with live rock and a few other inhabitants. I am ready to add fish, and would appreciate some feedback on my list if you have time. I used your book and Scott Michaels pocket guide to Marine Fish as my main resources but also consulted a wide variety of other sources.  <Very good> I would like to know if you can confirm my choices as compatible and if the numbers/sizes of fish are approximately right for my set up and tank size. Please tell me if you think I could add more over time, or if you think I have include too many. <Okay> Thanks very much. I begin with an overview of my set-up, then a list of fish, and at the end I have a list of questions for you. I am pretty excited, I have been working on this for months using Scott Michael's "Marine Fish" Pocket Guide and Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" along with many other sources. Many fish I loved were eliminated based on Scott Michael's minimum tank recommendations. <this is wise> To review my current set up: 65 gallon breeder style tank (36 long x 18" wide x 24" deep), 40+ pounds live rock, tank and rock have been set up for nine months, Bak Pak II protein skimmer, 2 maxi-jet 1200's for circulation. Occupants: numerous hermit crabs and snails, 1 Linckia star, 1 serpent star, 1 yellow tail blue Damsel, 1 Waving Hand Xenia (recent addition), (I also plan to add an orange marble star). Substrate is 2.5 - 3" crushed coral? and aragonite reef sand on top (lots of bristleworms and misc. creatures). Temperature 79/80, salinity 1.0225 - 1.023. Lights: three 36" 40 watt fluorescent lights: 1 actinic, 1 Trichromatic, 1 10,000K. My goal is to have a healthy natural looking tank with interesting fish (neat patterns & colors) and some very hardy invertebrates--those that can survive under fluorescent lights in my deep tank and that can handle a close to 'normal' fish occupancy (I am figuring about 1" per gallon as a ball park, and will then watch water conditions closely as fish are added and grow.) ****************************Fish List******************* 1 Potters Angelfish (Centropyge Potters), 5.1" long, (reasonably hardy, good for reef -- may eat small shrimp), 20 gallon tank minimum <Not an easy species to keep... I encourage you to look into other Centropyge Angels...> 1 Gold specs Jawfish (Opistognathus sp) (Bali Tiger Jawfish), 3.9" (Good as single or pair, may eat sm. Shrimp, good for reef-may eat small shrimp), 20 gal/min. 3-5 (a small school) Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum) 3.1" (good in small groups , good for reef-may eat small shrimp) 20 gallon minimum <Would limit this size system to just one of these little Basses...> Or, Instead of Chalk Bass as my 'school' I am also considering Damsels: Yellow Tail Blue Damsel, or Allen's Damsel or Princess Damsel (these are supposed to be least aggressive of the Damsels and are all a beautiful blue which I love-but are they too aggressive for the Jawfish or Angelfish?) <Perhaps... the genus Chromis would be better...> Maybe I would also add: Springer's Dottyback 1.6" one only per tank, eats small worms, good for reef, 20 gallon+ *********************************************** The following list includes others I am still considering as alternates to above, or maybe? additions if it is not overload! * Blue spotted Jawfish, 3.9" (hardy, 1 per tank, expensive!? not sure where I can get these) <Get bigger than this... about six inches... and available more and more from sources in southern Baja, but costly, yes.> * Pearly Jawfish <A very good choice... beautiful, hardy, relatively easygoing> * Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge B. spinosus), 3.9" (hardy, inexpensive, colorful, good for reef), 20 gallon+ <A better choice by far than a Potter's> * Collared Butterflyfish/Pakistan Butterfly, 6.3" (harder to acclimate, reef?) 55+ gallon <Better in larger tanks, kept in small groups... would not keep Butterflyfishes in this size/shape system> * Atlantic Blue Tang, 9.1" (in small tanks can be belligerent-is mine too small?) 75 gallon+ <A Ctenochaetus or Zebrasoma species would be my choice instead of this Acanthurus> * Blue Spotted Angel, 5.5," 55 gallon+ <No... not a good choice.> There are many I regretfully leave off my list due to size or poisonous qualities or behavioral challenges: I love the Cowfish, Scribbled Boxfish, many Triggers, and lots more . . . <Me too, enough to avoid losing them or having them live short, unhappy lives in too small confines> *************** Questions about my selections and getting started adding new fish: 1) What do you think about the community of fish I have put together? Any opinions on Chalk Bass versus Damsels for a small group/school? Would you make any substitutions/additions? <See above and please read through my further notes on these and many other species accumulated/ing on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> 2) Will the Potters Angel eat algae? (I have Caulerpa in the tank) I thought I read that it likes to browse on Algae as well as worms (I have plenty of these!) <Actually, this Hawaiian endemic rarely eats much of anything in captivity... avoid it> 3) Should I plan to add the fish over a period of months? If I add several at once, how many can I safely quarantine for 2 weeks in my 10 gallon tank? <Not necessarily. I would add them in batches/waves in about halves or thirds... your system can take this, and the social dynamics will be better this way... less aggressive/territorial species first> 4) If I keep several fish in the 10 gallon quarantine then, should I change water once a week or more often? <Watch ammonia, nitrite... read this over in the quarantine section and related FAQs on the WWM site> 5) I still have a yellow tail blue Damsel that I have tried to catch and put into the Q tank but after a couple of hours of moving slowly and sneaky with two nets, never got it. Too much live rock caves to dart into. I guess I better rearrange the rock to get the fish? Or, just how territorial is it likely to be after nine months alone in there? <Would just leave in... with addition of a few other fishes it will not likely cause harm to any one> 6) This is the order I am thinking I should add them: 1. Chalk Bass group, 2. Jawfish, 3. Angelfish (of course if I have Damsels instead of Chalk Bass, then maybe they should go last?) <Chromis and Jawfish, then the others all at second pass> 7)Is there a small Tang? - (I haven't found any in Scott Michaels book that is recommended for a tank my size). I would like someone to eat algae, plus I like tangs. <Yes, search the genera/species mentioned above on the WWM site> Thank you! Katherine Steichen Rosing <You're certainly welcome. Glad to be of help in assuring your success. Bob Fenner>  

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