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FAQs about Reef Livestock Selection 2

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Paracheilinus lineopunctatus, the Spot-Lined Flasher Wrasse. Aquarium photo of a male by Hiroyuki Tanaka.

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

Stocking a 90 gal Hi again--I am seeking your opinion as to my bio load and whether you think I can add another fish.  < Okay, I'll do my best. > The tank is a 90G with a 30G sump. I have about 120 lbs of live rock in the tank along with a DSB averaging 6 inches (7 in many areas, 5 in others). Water quality is very good, pretty much zeros across the board. Calcium runs about 450 and my alkalinity while a little low, runs within the norm (just on the lower end of it). I drip Kalk daily as replacement for evaporation (about 3/4 gallon per day) and use only iodine and strontium as additives once weekly. I also use buffer about 3x per week. I replace between 5 and 10% of the water weekly, a Sunday ritual now, and use R/O-DI water for Kalk and replacement. Tank chemistry has been pretty stable, the last fish being added about 6 weeks ago (the blenny). I have an ASM G2 skimmer and a phosphate reactor in the sump. Now the bio load- The tank is basically reef as I have a fair number of corals as follows: frogspawn, hammer, colt, starburst, a few mushrooms, Kenya tree, devils hand, and a couple of Sarcos. Fish in the tank include Firefish goby, two yellow tail damsels, one small Chromis, one yellow tang, a lawnmower blenny and a seahorse (I know, specialized tank, but she has been with me a long time and I hand feed her, she is actually doing quite well). I also have a couple of cleaner shrimp. I would like to add one more fish and am considering a flame or coral beauty angel to add some color, but am concerned as I have read differing opinions about the angels being reef safe.  < Either of these fish should be fine. Actually, they should be a very good addition. >  What do you think? My alternative is to add a Kaudern's Cardinal but I understand they do better in pairs.  < Well I actually think you could add a pair of them as well. Another good choice. >  I would appreciate your opinion on this.  Thanks - Larry < Good luck, hope it works out.  Blundell >

Stocking a 60 Gallon Marine Tank Dear Mr. Fenner: I am pleased to say that I have just finished reading your very informative book. It was great!  Now to my question, I would like your advice to stocking my 60 gallon reef. Tank parameters are as follows Temp: 79 Nitrites and ammonia are 0 Nitrates: 7 Salinity 1.026  5 gallon water change weekly.  80 lbs. live rock Right now all I have is one false percula clownfish.  I would like to add these fish in order of introduction: 1. another false percula clownfish 2. 1 royal Gramma 3. 1 Copperband butterfly 4. 2 neon gobies 5.1 hippo tang 6.1 coral beauty 7.1 flame angel ( angels added at same time and small) 8. purple tang 9. yellow tang (Zebrasomas added at same time and available under 3 inches) I am in the process of setting my 125 gallon tank up as we speak. It will have all the inhabitants of the 60 gallon be transferred Into it with no more fish being added into it. Invertebrates: 1. 2 skunk cleaner shrimp 2. 2 blood shrimp 3. 2 peppermint shrimp  4. some species of Fromia starfish My lighting is alright so when I say "reef" it means Xenia, polyps, and mushrooms. Thank you for all the extremely useful information on this sight. It is very helpful for all of us hobbyists. Thanks for everything!  You guys are great!! Chase Simmons >>>Hello Chase, If you're in the process of setting up a 125, why on earth are you planning to cramp all these fish into a 60 gallon? Your list is pushing it for a 125 quite frankly, let alone a 60! Forget any tangs in the 60, they require too much space to kept in such cramped surroundings. 72 gallons is the minimum for even the smaller Zebrasoma species such as the yellow tang. Also, it's tough to keep two dwarf angels of differing species together. One will always be dominant, and the other will be the main focus of the aggressors attentions. A very bad idea. My list for your 60 gallon would look more like - 2 ocellaris (I dislike the term "false Perc" ocellaris are cool fish!), 1 royal Gramma, 2 neon gobies, 1 coral beauty, and a flame or coral beauty angel, and a Copperband butterfly. (I assume you've read up on this species and are aware of potential problems) For the 125, you can add the yellow tang, but I would stay away from the hippo tangs unless you're very experienced. The purple tang is a possibility as well, but be sure to add him last. This is still a VERY small tank to think about keeping more than one species of dwarf angel. Whatever you decide, make sure you quarantine all fish for four weeks or so before introducing into your display. Frankly, the wise thing to do here would be to set up the 125, and use the 60 as a quarantine tank while stocking your larger setup, adding only ONE fish to the 125 at a time. That's you're road to a disease and frustration free experience. Cheers Jim<<<

Stocking a 60 gallon - Part Deux Jim. Thank you for your advice. I will indeed take it into acknowledgement. Now this is my stocking plan revised Fish: 1.ocellaris clownfish 2.royal Gramma 3.copperband butterfly 4.2 neon gobies 5.flame angel Invertebrates: 1. 2 skunk cleaner shrimp 2. 2 peppermint shrimp 3. snails/crabs 1. Do you see any problems in compatibility in my livestock above? 2. Is there any specific order to add the fish and inverts above? 3. Just to let you know I already have a 10 gallon Qt tank setup so my fish are healthy. :-) Are there any other fish that I could add to my system? Like not any big fish such as tangs, but small fish? My last question for you is what is bob Fenner's favorite saltwater fish and freshwater, and what is yours also? Thank you, and I hope you have a nice day, Chase Simmons Hello again Chase, Your stocking plane looks much better this time around. :) My only concern would be the flame angel. First, make sure you select a very healthy looking individual from Christmas Island or Hawaii if you can, as they are not cyanide collected. Second, make sure you add him last. They are rather aggressive, so you want everyone else established in the system first. As far as other fish go, there are many choices. There is the Sixline wrasse, the Orchid Dottyback (P. fridmani), a few Chromis damsels - the list goes on. :) As far as my favorite marine fish? Hmm....on one hand I'd say there are so many that I don't really have a favorite. The pygmy angels are up there quite high on my list, as are the groupers. I just love groupers! On the other hand, at the end of the day, it would have to be the Undulatus trigger! Freshwater fish? I've kept everything at one time or anther, but I'm a dyed in the wool cichlidiot! Cichlids of all types tend to grab me, as well as the larger predatory catfish. The Texas cichlid is probably my favorite. As far as Bob's favorites, not sure - you'd have to ask him. :) Cheers Jim<<<

Stocking 60 gallon follow up Jim, I am sorry to keep sending you all these messages.  I just want to make sure about my list, it has to be perfect! You told me I might be able to get a sixline wrasse, fridmani, or a few green Chromis. I decided to skip the Pseudochromis just to save the trouble of it maybe fighting with the Gramma.  So I was reading your "lined wrasses" FAQs and I am not quite sure about the sixline wrasse, as I read that they can be jumpers and I have a small opening on my tank. I also read they can be harmful to small shrimp, so I don't want my shrimp to be stressed out.  So no fridmani and no sixline. How well do you think 3 small green Chromis would fare in my tank? I am guessing they'd be alright since they are the less aggressive damsels and they'd be small. I also found out that you have a 60 gallon or a tank somewhere around 48' and I was just curious as in what you have in there so I could see what a good amount of livestock would be in that sized of tank.  Thanks again!!  You guys are super!!! Chase Simmons >>>Hey Chase, Don't worry about sending emails, that's what I'm here for. Almost ANY fish can be jumper, and to be honest I've never had a Sixline wrasse do this. I'm sure other have had the experience though. Also, it would have to be one MONSTER of a sixline to pose a threat to anything but the smallest shrimp. In captivity, this generally isn't a concern with this species. As far as the damsels, a group of 3 would be just perfect I think. As far as my own tank goes - yes it's 48" long, but it's also 32" wide and 24" tall. It's 150 gallon or so. I have 7 Chromis damsels in there, along with a pair of maroon clownfish, a Sixline wrasse, a Foxface, a Brazilian Gramma and an Orchid Dottyback. The orchids are not in the same category as other Dottybacks on the aggressiveness department, and can easily be kept in pairs. Cheers Jim<<<

- Overstocked? Most Certainly - Hello. First of all, thanks for all the great advice over the past couple years. I greatly appreciate it.  Would it be possible to hazard a guess as to whether my 2 year old 75 gallon reef tank is overstocked to the point it just isn't viable? Emperor 400 filter Precision Marine HOT-1 skimmer, with a RIO 800 (The Maxi jet 1200 it came with made more noise than foam, even after a replacement). 9 mangroves in small refugium, grown from nothing to 12-18 inches in the past eight months; refugium also contains a lot of Caulerpa, which my tangs love. However, even with 6 hours of direct sunlight, the algae doesn't grow all that fast, which leads me to believe excess nutrients aren't a huge problem. 2 ZooMed rotating powerheads. Total circulation 800-1000 gph. Around 80-90 lbs heavily coralline'd live rock. Deep sand bed. Corals: Plate coral, 12 inches + in diameter when open, has quadrupled in size in 16 months. Dozens of mushrooms, keep growing and reproducing all the time Pearl Coral, about 4 inches across, only a month old, looks great. Fish: & inverts: mandarin goby purple Pseudochromis 4 clowns, all about 2 inches hippo tang, 3 inches Naso tang 4-5 inches Achilles tank, 4 inches yellow tang, 3 inches powder blue tang, 3 inches powder brown tang, 3 inches  All fish have been in the tank 4-18 months, all have grown and seem to be in great health.  <Seem is a key word here... imagine living in a small box with all your friends... and even a couple of enemies. You'd all keep clear of each other, but below the surface, no one would be very happy.>  A little bickering sometimes between the Achilles and powder brown, but otherwise tranquility reigns. I don't see any apparent stress from overcrowding, perhaps due to all the nooks and crannies.  <Helps, but to answer your first question... this tank is packed, over packed.> 6 peppermint shrimp 2 brittle stars, 12 inches diameter now a few dozen snails & blue legged clams. I know that not too far down the road these fish will outgrow the tank. However, is this amount of livestock completely over the top even at present?  <Yes.>  I've been hoping the mangroves and algae in natural sunlight might do enough biofiltration that I'll be able to skate for a year or perhaps two with careful monitoring of water quality.  <You'd be skating on very thin ice.> So far, all seems well, except that I can't seem to get the nitrates below 15-25, regardless of the frequency of water changes. On the other hand, after three weeks of no changes, the nitrates seem to level at about 25-30 anyway. Might a different skimmer help with this, and if so, any recommendations?  <Only slightly... you need a larger tank... more water... dilution is the solution to pollution.>  Also, any idea as to the nominal capacity of a PM HOT-1?  <No, would have to check the Precision Marine web site.>  Last of all, do you know of any actual measurements or guesses of how much mangroves affect the levels of nitrates in a tank? <At the size you list, only a little.> Thanks very much,  Mark <Cheers, J -- > 

8 Gallon Reef Tank Bioload Hello to the crew that's working the computer, reading my email. Oh, also I want to say that the FAQ's on your site was like a bible to my reef tank hobby, and helped out a whole bunch to make my tank like it is now. <Please... don't worship... read, critically... make up your own mind> I am wondering how many inches of fishes I can have inside of my 8 gallon tank. <Depends... on what sorts of inches> The tank is a 10 gallon tank with 2 gallons divided up by a black board (previously was a wet/dry but replaced with a whisper 10 '5-10 gallon' power filter) and is used as a mini-refugium to breed and agriculture, macroalgae and crustaceans. <Neat> The refugium at the moment has 1 maidens hair plant (2.5 in. bush), Ulva Lettuce plant, and a Red algae which I think is a grape kelp plant. It also has a 3 inch DSB and 3 Nassarius snails to keep the sand aerated. oh, while I'm on this subject, is the refugium going to be big enough to keep the macro and the invertebrates? <Depends on what the latter are> Refugium. size : W. 5in x L. 7in. x Depth. 6-7in. around 5-6 of PC lighting shining down on it. I have a lighting kit I bought from Ahsupply.com, and it is a 72 watt light kit. I pushed the light bulb and the reflector over so that the bulb was hanging over the refugium and the main display part of the tank. Now to the 1st question, the main display in the system contains: Corals: -Xenias x3 red sea, and waving hand -Montipora digitata 4in -Montipora cap. 2in -Candy Cane -Horn Coral 1 in (6in. away from all other corals, I heard that its very aggressive towards other corals) -2 Ricordea -1 umbrella mushroom 2.5 in. (For the Corals, I'm willing to propagate and trim the branches of it, to keep from crowding) Fish: -1 Ocellaris 2in. Inverts: -2 Cleaner Shrimps 1.2 in. each (estimate) -1 Peppermint Shrimp .4 in. (estimate) -Feather Duster, Yellow -1 Rose Anemone 3 in <No...> -1 Turbo Snail -1 Red Foot snail -8-10 Nassarius Snails -2 Trochus Snails -2 Margarita snails (?) .5in. -3 Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crabs -1 Scarlet Reef Hermit Crab -1 Staghorn Hermit Crab -Visible copepods/Amphipods in both the main and the refugium display. (Lots in the refugium) -Many visible tiny white serpent stars in the sand and the rocks (some with color) -Few Baby snails and small 1mm white spirals on the glass, I'm not sure what this is though. Plants -Halimeda -Unknown Red Algae, looks like over lapping roses connected to one main base stem. -Visible purple/pink algae growing on the shaded areas of the live rock. Stats: 425 ppm Calcium (Should I raise this equally with Kalkwasser? and to how much if so?) 9 dKH KH sg. 1.022- 1.024 (slowly rising and decreasing throughout 2 weeks) 0ppm Phos. 0ppm Nitrate 0ppm Nitride 0ppm Ammonia pH : 8.2 constantly Temp: 78-80 F Maintenance: little pinch of Freeze-Dried Cyclop-eeze every 3rd day, Flakes every other day, and frozen brine shrimp or Mysid shrimp every other day after the flakes. 1 capful of DJ's live phytoplankton every other day (the fish store recommended to do this until the algae on the glass turned from brown to green, and then let it sit without the plankton until the algae was brown again and to repeat the process.) Anemone gets fed every 14 days with 1/4 pieces of frozen shrimp from the grocery. ( I'm also wondering how many pieces I should feed the anemone). Water changes with Catalina salt water at the LFS; .5 gallons twice a week. No additives added to the water. (I have the Seachem Reef Builder which I haven't opened yet, should I use this in the water about to be added?) The tank is about a year old, and the tanks been under control for about a 2 months with these inhabitants and the daily maintenance. I want to know if I can put a Six Line Wrasse in there and the Clown without any negative actions shared upon each other. Or if not, how many more inches of fish I can put in there (maybe clown gobies). And for the last resort if I have to get rid of some corals/inverts to ensure the safety and healthiness of the new fish. Thank you for all your help, and sorry that I added a few more questions than the '1' I mentioned in the beginning :). I hope you u had a great time reading this email. P.S. YOU GUYS ROCK! <Sounds like you've got this tiny tank wired... But I would be looking... NOW, for a much larger system... could be just a moment to absolute disaster... Bob Fenner>

Mixing Things Up! (Creating a Mixed Reef Environment) Guys, thanks in advance for your opinions/knowledge etc. I have just setup and currently cycling a 110g tank, with about 70lbs of live rock, 40lbs live sand, and three small blue damsels. (Eventually I'll be moving from my 44g a 6" Niger, 4" Huma, a clown, and another blue damsel). <Rough crowd...but interesting!> I have a canister filter designed for a 200g tank, and only the original 48" light fixture with two of the store sold 40W (Aquaclear, MarineGlo type lights). <As with all mechanical filtration systems, be sure to clean and replace the filter media often, to avoid them becoming nutrient "traps" that can degrade water quality.> I also have a Cyclone 100 Protein skimmer that I'm planning on kicking off when all the levels zero out (will this be enough for this size tank? <Do run a skimmer continuously. It's your best ally against lapses in water quality, short of frequent water changes.> I got it for my 44g tank and I hear that it might be enough?). <I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with this unit, but when sizing skimmers, I'd always try to shoot for one that is slightly oversized for your setup. On the other hand, ANY skimming is better than NO skimming!> The original purpose of the tank was to go with a FOWLR, but now I'm thinking about adding a few selected invertebrates after the fish are settled in (in about 2 months or so). What I'm imagining is a mixed environment with more of fish-only with a few inverts. Could this be done realistically with my setup, and if not, what do you recommend I improve on in order to accomplish this type of an environment. Thanks, -Nalaka <Well, Nalaka, first and foremost, I'd make sure that the Triggers don't make a feast of your corals and/or other inverts! I have seen a number of "mixed" systems with Triggers that worked out okay. However, you'd need to select a hardy group of unpalatable corals to resist their grazing...not an easy order to fill! Pretty much all shrimp, snails and small crabs will be delicious snacks for these guys. Better to just use live rock and synthetic corals, IMO, if you want to keep these fishes with the animals. Also, for most photosynthetic organisms, you'll need a lot more light than the 40 watt fluorescents can provide. Give some thought to what you really want to keep, and rework your stocking plan to meet your goals. Let us know if you have any additional questions! Regards, Scott F>

- Shrimp/Goby Pair and More - Hi again, Thanks for answering my questions! I found some info that says that the goby and shrimp become communication partners or something like that...  <You mean like Cingular and AT&T Wireless?>  There's a shrimp that hangs out under the rock with my orange goby!  <Neat... then quite possibly a pistol shrimp.>  I also noticed this long stringy white substance in the goby's cave, it's connected to a rock to the ground on something else, it almost looks like semen or something but that's how it looks to me!  <Could be a tube worm of sorts... many of these lay out nets of mucus they use to trap particulate food and then reel them back in. No worries.> Also, my Niger triggerfish seems to be really scared or something...he comes out every once in a while but he gets frightened by someone walking in the room or what not and he hides again in his cave...I'm sure this is normal, I got him about 4 or 5 days ago, how long does it take for him to warm up to the tank?  <A while... be patient, try to hang back from the tank and give it some time to get acclimated to its new environment. It will be more out and about in a couple of weeks.>  I have a squirrelfish, the goby, Foxface, clown fish, a school of mini fish, a zebra fish in the tank...  <I hope this tank is at least 75 gallons...> Thanks, Kristofer <Cheers, J -- >

- Stocking Questions - Just wanted your opinion: This is for my 150 reef, all LPS--Torch, frogspawn, Candycane, plate, open brain, button, tongue, etc.--and maybe someday a clam or two. I want to add the following fish (currently only a mandarin, a green Chromis and a fire shrimp): 2 Rainfordi Gobies 4 Bicolor Anthias 1 Lawnmower Blenny 1 Potters Angel 1 Four Line Wrasse 1 Magenta Pseudochromis Either a yellow or a purple tang Either a Goldflake angel, or a male/female pair of Zebra Angels (Genicanthus melanospilos) A Christmas (ornatissimus) wrasse Is there a reason (other than aesthetics) to pick one tang over the other?  <Not really... myself, I am tired of yellow tangs... see them all the time and wish people would pick the purple ones instead, but as you said this is an aesthetic issue.>  Which route would you go with regard to the angels?  <I'd go for the Genicanthus angels... much closer to reef-safe than the gold flake. As for the Potters, these fish are notoriously hard to keep and unless you are willing to 1) let the tank mature for a year first and 2) add the Potters angel as the first fish, you will likely not get to keep it for long.>  Realizing that no fish, and certainly no angel, is completely "reef-safe", how relatively safe would you expect a 4" Goldflake to be?  <Not very.>  How about the zebra angels?  <Much better.>  Lastly, how safe, relatively speaking, would a Christmas wrasse be?  <Almost not at all.> Would he gobble up a good sized fire shrimp?  <And have a clam for dessert, sure.>  As you may have noticed, I am going with predominantly Hawaiian fish, as I have a source in Hawaii for Hawaiian and Christmas Island fish. He has a Goldflake right now for $115, which sounds great, but I am not sure if that is a good choice.  <They are beautiful fish, but you are correct, it's not your best option. Cheers, J -- > 

Inverts and live rock arriving at the same time - 2/2/05 Hi guys...long time reader, first time writer. I couldn't find anything about my specific problem on your site. I have a relatively new (a few months) 75 gallon FOWLR tank with 4 damsels...  <really? No battling?>  ... one royal Gramma, 4 hermit crabs and 15 lbs. of live rock.  <So little live rock>  I decided I needed more live rock...  <Ahhhhh!>  ... so I ordered 25 lbs. off of eBay from a reputable dealer.  <Weird. but whatever works>  I also ordered about 15 snails and 2 peppermint shrimp from LiveAquaria.com to help combat algae. However, I didn't anticipate the 2 orders to arrive on the same day, and they are both coming tomorrow! I have a QT tank set up, but my question is, do I put the live rock and the inverts in there together?  <I wouldn't. Good for you for quarantining your animals and I rarely recommend this, but in this case I would go ahead and acclimate and release the inverts to the main tank with the lights off if there is no other way. Follow the Live Aquaria acclimation directions. Now, another alternative is to buy a Rubbermaid bin, add a heater, a pump, add saltwater to it, and quarantine/cure the live rock separate from the quarantine tank (or you can cure it in your quarantine tank if there is no getting a Rubbermaid or bucket.) The reason to do it this way is so you can still use you quarantine tank for your inverts and still mature your live rock.>  Or do I need to separate them?  <I would not put newly received live rock and new animals together under any circumstances for many reasons>  Or what?  <Cure the live rock in a Rubbermaid as suggested above and the animals in the quarantine. If it is not possible to get a Rubbermaid or even buckets, then I guess the only other suggestion is to release these particular inverts to the main tank and use the quarantine for the live rock>  Please help!  Tait <Hopefully this helps! Thanks for the question ~Paul>  Thank you so much for your time, and I promise to plan better next time!  <No worries! I am so impressed with the fact that you quarantine.> ANEMONE IN 12 GAL Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2005 Hi Crew, your thoughts on the following would be appreciated: I have a 12 gal FOWLR that has been established about two years. I would like to remove the few fish, and add two or three percula clowns and a compatible anemone; given the tank size, which anemone would be most practical? Thanks, Steve.  <Steve, the bad thing about putting an anemone in a 12 gallon tank is that the water parameters can change too quickly which isn't good. It can be done with daily monitoring of water levels, pH, etc. Another drawback is that the preferred anemone (Ritteri) is too large for a 12. The bubble tip, which is third on their most preferred list would be the better choice, but there is no guarantee that they will inhabit it. James (Salty Dog)> 

Dream Reef stocking Question Greetings WWM Crew.<Hello Ralph> I have to say that you guys are the best!<Thank you> I've learned so much as a newbie marine aquarist over the past 2.5 years by visiting your site ( and reading your books The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and currently Reef Invertebrates) and have probably broken every single marine aquarists rule in the book over the past 2.5 years. But I'm learning more and more each day and have vowed to change my evil sinful ignorant ways! I will be upgrading to my dream tank fairly shortly which will eventually be a full blown reef tank. Initially however, it will be a FOWLR for a while as I migrate many of my current tank inhabitants from my 54 FOWLR over with much of the LR and LS I already have cultured for the past 2.5 years. My Tank Dimensions will be 40x30x30 (custom built) equaling approximately 155 Gallons. I'll also have a 56 Gallon sump/refugium/ Euro Reef Skimmer set up  as well as very powerful lighting 2 Metal Halides equaling 500 Watts and 2 PCs equaling 130 Watts for all the Corals I plan to systematically get. I am planning a DSB of 4-6 inches in the display tank and approx 200 lbs of LR ( unless it looks too bare with just that ). I have my dream line up of fish already picked out and wanted your opinion on it as far as bio load and possible aggression. Here they are:1)Purple Tang, 2) Coral Beauty, 3) Yellow Tang, 4) Flame Angel, 5) Royal Gramma, 6) Orchid Dottyback, 7) Pygmy Angel, 8) Bluecheek Goby, 9) Sixline Wrasse, 10 & 11) 2 Percula Clowns, 12&13) 2 Neon Gobies, and possibly 4-7 Green Chromis. Is the Bio Load too heavy with this amount of fish for this sized tank? Will the tank be large enough for the two Tangs? The 2 Dwarf Angels? Will those Angels prey on corals? Inevitably I'll bring Corals, cleaner shrimp and snails. Your recommendations will be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for helping all of us green-pea marine aquarists! <The volume of your tank is enough for the tang, I say tang since you do not want to mix a purple with a yellow, or any other tang from the same genus, but the dimensions of the tank do not allow ample swimming room for them as they grow.  Dwarf angels can be troublesome in reef tanks.  Some people have luck with them not bothering corals, some don't.  I think the load is a little heavy for your tank.  Stocking capacity not only depends on tank volume, but also on surface area. You see, your surface area is 1200 square inches.  Now a 135 which measures 72x24x18, and is 20 gallons less, has 1728 square inches of surface area.  This is important for proper gas exchange of the water, so even though your tank is a 155, it could not support the same amount of livestock a 135 can.  Hope I made this understandable.  If it were me I would go with the Coral Beauty, Flame Wrasse, Perculas, Neon Gobies, four Chromis' and then the invertebrates you wish to keep. With the colors of live rock and invertebrates available, one can make a very colorful tank without having a lot of fish.  Hope I helped you.  James (Salty Dog)> Ralph

Corals, plants question... reef livestocking Hi, Let me start off by saying you guys are doing a terrific job, the broad subjects and type of information supplied to people on this website is impressive. Ok I have a question about my setup. I have kept a fish only tank so far. Now I am thinking about investing in corals, anemones? I have a 55 gallon saltwater tank, a 100 gallon protein skimmer, a Penguin 330 BioWheel filter, a penguin 125 BioWheel filter and just purchased recently 220W Jebo Compact lights. Also have about 40-45 lbs of live rock. I do water changes every week. I have a yellow tang, a coral beauty, a Koran angel, one maroon clown and a six line wrasse. Based on all this what would you recommend keeping, Corals, anemones? I want to have a beautiful colorful marine setup but do not want to buy animals which will not be able to survive in this setup. If you have any suggestions as far as corals that would do fine in my setup please list some and I really appreciate your help. Saleem, Ohio <Saleem, don't try keeping animals whose names you can't spell... Please read here: www.WetWebMedia.com re: livestock selection, reef set-up, coral selection, anemone selection... You have a ways to go before investing your income, time in trying to pick out, keep these organisms... enjoy the process. Bob Fenner> 

Stocking... a reef tank Greetings all. <How goes it? M. Maddox here, about to go voluntarily shred his palms\fingers 'til they bleed (ahh, the self torture of rock climbing)> Thank you for your help on previous occasions. <Glad we were able to help> I have a 40 gallon tank with about 30 pounds of live rock.  I recently added a 2 inch dwarf lion to the tank after a hellacious, and seemingly endless, quarantine for Ich and flukes, and was planning to add a hamlet to the tank, probably an indigo, in near future. <Ack!  If it is to be a reef tank, then why are you adding large predatory fish?  If it is to be a predatory fish tank, why is it only 30 gallons?  I would return the lion ASAP> I was also playing around with the idea of turning the tank into more a reef tank, adding some anemones and/or soft corals (would two 95 watt VHO's be sufficient lighting on a tank this small). <I would turn it into a reef tank OR an anemone tank, not both.  Two 96w VHO's would be sufficient for most soft coral and 'large polyp stony' coral, or a bulb-tipped anemone.  Mixing coral and anemones is a bad idea, however, and will lead to the death of one or the other in the long run> However, I am still having problems controlling green, brown, and bubble algae in the tank. <Excess algae is the indication of high levels of dissolved organics (nitrates, phosphates being the usual culprits). Perform more frequent water changes, adjust your skimmer to collect 2+ cups of dark skimmate a week, use ~1\2 cup of  carbon and\or phosphate removing compound and change it weekly> With the future in mind, would it be wise to buy an urchin (and if so, what species), or invest in more snails (I have both Astraea and turbo), hermits (I have between one and ten scarlets, [a broad range, I know, but they all have similar shells and I never see them all at once], and am waiting for my LFS to get some Marshall Island blues), emerald crabs (I had two, one died, I have never seen the other after it was added and cannot find the body), or some species of fish or invertebrates? <Consumers are not the end-all answer to this, but pencil urchins will eat hair algae, whereas most Cerith\Nerites\Astrea snails will eat other various microalgae.  I wouldn't worry about getting more hermits.  However, I would not add anything else until you've returned your lionfish> Regardless, should corals and anemones (and sea urchins) be quarantined and if so, what is the proper way; I do not want to waste any more money on livestock that I will kill with my inexperience and lack of knowledge. <A good start :)  Quarantine everything - a simple ten or twenty gallon aquarium with a bare bottom, a few pieces of pvc pipe or other inert material for the newcomer to hide in, and a simple air powered sponge filter is what I use.  Keep the sponge filter in the sump of your main aquarium so that it is ready on a moments notice - you can break down the rest of the quarantine tank when not in use>  Oh, I also have a sand sifting star.  Sorry to bother you again and thank you for your help; you run the most helpful site on the internet. <Find out exactly what you want in your aquarium, and build around those inhabitants.  You didn't list what your water parameters or equipment were, but if you don't have a protein skimmer you need one!  Thanks for the kind words, I'm just glad I can help out here and there> Robert <M. Maddox>

Marine Livestocking Hi Guys and Gals, <Michael here, on fire tooonight!  I swear it's not cabin fever...> I am starting yet another tank and this time it will be a 35 gallon reef. <Cool, I have a 40 gallon reef> I plan on putting two tank raised black Percs in the tank and would like to add another fish or two?  Any suggestions?  I normally like Angels and Butterflies but am aware that they get too large for a 35. <Pygmy angel would be nice...I have one.  They're small and colorful.  Some sort of goby or blenny is a possibility, as well>    Also, are there any anemones that you would recommend for hardiness and for compatibility with corals? <Well, there really is no such thing as "compatible" corals and anemones, and anemones and corals should really be kept in a different tank.  The easiest (and it isn't necessarily easy) to keep would be the bulb-tipped anemone...they can handle PC\VHO lighting rather well, and are hardier than other species.  Like all anemones though, they will get fairly large (~10-12" over several months\years with good feeding).  Make sure you do your research on anemones, through our archives, at the anemone&clownfish forum at www.reefcentral.com has a lot of good reading as well>    Thanks for all your help, <Anytime> Matt <M. Maddox>

Are there any corals for a regular fluorescent lit tank? I have read through you're website extensively... and am always learning.  I am having difficulty filtering through the information on corals and lighting. I have a 90 gallon saltwater Protein skimmer 90+lbs live rock mostly covered with red/burgundy encrusting algae (this is good... right?) << Yes, good. >> Two Clowns Two Gobies Coral Banded Shrimp Pistol Shrimp Sand bead ranges from 2.5 - 4" deep Canister Filter (suited for 125 gallon tank) My lighting is the basic fluorescent light included with the tank. << Definitely not enough for most marine tanks. >> Without upgrading to anything expensive... what can I get beyond invertebrates and fish for my tank? << Well you are even limited on them.  Fish are fine.  But many invertebrates will struggle.  I think you are limited to shrimp, snails, crabs, worms and the like. >> Are any corals an option? << I don't think so.  I can't think of any. >> Worms? << Yes. >> Clams? << No way. >> I love some of the colors on the clams.  I've heard that a feather duster would be a good option if it has some moderate water flow.  Any recommendations on some corals?  I have found that the following website (linked from your site) www.liveaquaria.com < http://www.liveaquaria.com> seems to categorize some of the corals pretty good.  Is this a good website that can be trusted for fairly accurate information? << I actually think it is a good website.  Remember they are trying to sell you things.  Clams are not an option.  They require very high lighting which would require massive upgrading.  Feather duster worms are okay, they need plankton and that is about it. >>  Would I be safe going with any of there   low-medium light required specimens as far as coral goes? << I really don't think so. >>  Any favorites that you can recommend that would do well with just a plain old fluorescent light?    As well, what is your opinion on moon lighting?  Does it do any good to my marine life?  Or is it more for effect and night time viewing? << It doesn't have any effect or do anything in your tank.  It just makes your tank look really cool at night. >> Thanks a bunch guys... you're awesome! Dave <<  Blundell  >>

Fish choices for a reef tank Dear WWM crew, I've been trying for weeks to make up my mind about what fish to get to restock my reef tank, but I just can't decide, so I thought I'd request some expert advice. I have a 72G BF reef with a 20G refugium and a Poseidon II skimmer (works great, I might add.  I dump a completely full (large) skimmer cup of stinky black sludge every week). << This may be a bad sign, maybe you shouldn't have all that skimmate in your tank to begin with. >> My corals are all LPS or softies: Euphylliids, Caulastrea, Turbinaria, Trachyphyllia, Lobophyllia, one Pachyseris, and a some star polyps.  Due to losses from moving, and to the removal of a marauding Fiji Bicolor Foxface who ate a colt coral and a Scolymia, I have only one fish in the tank, a medium sized green Chromis!  I would like to add a tang who will nibble on filamentous algae, but I can't decide between a Purple and a Chevron.  << Chevron is better at it, and typically collected with better methods in Hawaii.  More money but a better fish. >> Which do you consider "safer" with LPS, and which one would outgrow a 72 less quickly (I do have a 150 Fish Only for anything that outgrows the 72, and I hope to upgrade the reef, maybe to a 155BF, in a couple years). << Both are completely safe and fine for a tank that size. >> Along the same lines, I would also really like to try a smaller specimen of one of the medium sized angels.  I know that none of them are truly "reef safe" and that they will all eventually outgrow a 72G, but I would like to try to keep one there as long as I can.  I am an angel nut.  My Maculosus actually started out in my reef at less than 1", but outgrew it (and started picking at corals) inside of a year.  He's now about 8" and full adult in the 150, 5 years later.  The angels I am considering are: a flagfin, a Goldflake, a majestic, a Personifer, or a blue-spotted. << Wow uncommon fish.  I would have suggested an Eibli or a Coral Beauty. >>  Any thoughts?  Can you tell me anything about the bluespotted angel, or where to find the info?  I can't find anything. << Try fishbase.org or just a general Google search. >> Finally, I recently made a friend in Hawaii who happens to be a wholesaler, so I can get Hawaiian fish straight from the diver.  I was considering ordering a Moorish Idol from him. << Poor choice of fish. >> I had one many years ago, which lived and thrived for over a year until an unfortunate accident with the AC sent the tank temp to 95.  Amazingly, I only lost two fish, but he was one of them.  I've tried them a couple times since, but could never get a healthy, eating animal.  My friend assures me he can send a fresh healthy specimen which I could pick up right at the airport.  If I did try this, I am not sure which tank to put it in--the 150, which is lightly stocked at only 7 fish, but one of them is a large Map angel and one is a large Foxface, or the reef. << I wouldn't want a fish that quick.  I'd prefer to buy one from a store that is doing well.  Worth waiting in this case, otherwise you'll be disappointed in the end. >>  Last time, it was in the 150, but that was before the Map angel.  There's so little info out there about them.  I know their primarily vegetarians, like a tang, but how reef safe are they? << They are reef safe, but very hard to feed and keep. >> He was also urging me to try a Potter's in my 55 FOWL, as he says they really do quite well if they are handled carefully by the wholesaler and don't pass through 87 systems on the way to the consumer. << Yes a Potter's is a great choice for your tanks.  I suggest getting one of them first. >> What is your opinion? Sincerely, Jim Jensen <<  Blundell  >>

Stocking (large angels in a reef) 1/10/03 I currently have a 125 reef that is home to 1 yellow tang, 1 flame angel, and 2 Percula clowns.  All  is well, and I am considering adding 1 large angel. <My first piece of advice is to consider this carefully.  Many folks have large angels in reef tanks, but there is always risk.  They may pick at corals (or flat out eat some!) and can be quite aggressive.> My question for you is:  Is it ok to put a French Angel in with my Pacific / Indo-Pacific fish?  Or would it be better to add something like an Emperor? <Unless you are trying to maintain a "biotope" system, I don't see why regionality should be an issue.> Obviously, I am trying to choose between the French and the Emperor! <The French is probably a sturdier fish that will probably have been collected and handled better.> Also, what  are your feelings about the Majestic Angel?  I have heard from some that they are very difficult to keep, and others say they are ok to maintain, but shy. <This may be my favorite marine fish (based on looks alone).  Getting a good specimen and observing it eat are mandatory, and even then success is not guaranteed.  Removing your yellow tang (at least at first) would probably be a good idea.> I appreciate any advice you could give me!  Thank you! <Any of the angels you might choose should be quarantined for at least 2-3 weeks or a month.  Juveniles are less likely to pick on or develop a taste for inverts down the road, but avoid specimens under about 2.5-3".  Best of luck!  Adam>

Reef Tank Rising! Hello crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight> Well I've made some substantial changes from my FOWLR tank to gear up for the big move to a reef tank. My system setup is as follows: 45 gallon tank (36" L x 12" W x 24" H) AquaC Remora Protein skimmer <Great skimmer!> Upgraded from a 1" sand bed to a 4.5" DSB with sugar size aragonite. <A wise move! One half inch or less- or three inches plus! That's a good rule of thumb> Upgraded from 35lbs live rock to 70 lbs.   New 4 x 55W power compacts: 2 x 10,000K 2 x actinic 03 (about 2.5 inches off the water) Whisper Power filter 3 for the use of carbon and for additional circulation (removed bio sponge) 2 powerheads (200 gph each) My inhabitants currently are: 1 yellow tang 1 coral beauty 1 skunk cleaner shrimp 10 Scarlet reef hermits 10 Blue leg hermits <Good mix. The tang may ultimately outgrow this tank, however> The fish and shrimp are currently in my quarantine tank because I want to wait for my new sand bed and live rock to settle in for a week or 2 as my nitrates are up to about 20 mg/l from 0.  It was not a fun job upgrading to the DSB, and I kind of made a mess of things. <It's never a pleasant one, huh? Glad you're taking your time> The process I used was to simply put the unopened bags into the tank (with rock and fish removed) and cut a hole in the bottom.  This was dry sand which I did not rinse, and needless to say my tank was cloudy for about 2 days. <Predictable- but as good as any other technique, IMO!> I stirred my old sand in with the new, the grain size being very similar. I'm not sure if this was the appropriate thing to do as I may have destroyed most of the "live" in my existing substrate by doing so, however I suspect in time it will begin to function properly. <Exactly! In time, the beneficial infauna will begin to populate the "dead sand", and you'll have a thriving live sand bead. Just be patient!> The live rock was cured in a Rubbermaid container with a powerhead, an air stone, a small filter, and a heater.  I did 100% water changes 2 x weekly, and after 5 weeks my ammonia finally started going down, however nitrites remained high. <Well- they will probably remain high in such a container/situation- as no real continuous nutrient export mechanisms (except for water changes) are present in such a situation. Should not be as big a factor in your display tank, once the DSB kicks in!> So I decided to move the fish out of the display tank, and put the LR in hoping that the mature water / filter / skimmer would help speed up the final leg of the process....which I think it did, as three days later my ammonia is 0  and nitrites are about 0.3 mg/l. <Another good move, IMO!> However as I mentioned my nitrates are a little high. I plan on adding a couple more small fish such as a Lineatus fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus Lineatus) , and perhaps a watchman goby, with his shrimp companion.   <That should be it for fishes, okay? Especially with the tang, you'd really be pushing it, from a bioload standpoint...Don't wreck all of the good work you did so far by over-crowding, okay? Stock carefully, and you'll enjoy a thriving tank for the long run> I test regularly for ammonia / nitrites / PH / KH /nitrates.  I believe I will also need to start testing for Calcium when I begin caring for corals and possibly using supplements such as Iodine.  Any other recommendations for testing / supplementing would be helpful.  I have never added any supplements to the tank to date, thinking that my regular water changes can provide many if not all the elements needed. <Agreed. I am of the opinion that many supplements are not really necessary. Unless tests indicate that certain important substances (iodine, for example) are at unacceptably low levels, I'd refrain from adding them. Frequent small water changes are the best "supplementation" that you can do, IMO. I think we as hobbyists tend to feel that we must dose additives to the water in order for our animals to survive or thrive. In many cases, this simply is not true...Depend on your regular water changes, and let your tests indicate whether or not further supplementation is needed.> I am good about water changes, as I do a 5 gallon change weekly with aged/aerated water. <Excellent> I do, however use tap water which I know may not be my best choice, however I'm not ready to invest in an expensive RO/DI unit and with weekly water changes, it is not convenient for me to go to the LFS every time to purchase the water. <Understood. Do realize, however, that your source water may be adding some nitrate to the system with every water change. With good nutrient export processes (i.e.; aggressive protein skimming, use of chemical filtration media, etc.), you can help minimize the accumulation of these undesirable substances and the potential for nuisance algae that they bring> I plan on purchasing Anthony's book before I make any coral purchases already have Bob's CMA which along with this site have been invaluable resources), <You will LOVE that book! Mine looks like one of my old college textbooks- all highlighted and "dog eared"! A great resource for any hobbyist even considering a reef tank!> however with the new upgrades to my tank, I can't help starting my wish list. Here is what I am considering so far.  I realize that you recommend against placing corals from different origins in the same tank however I'm unclear as to whether this applies to corals from Indonesia vs. Indo-Pacific origins.  I want all my inhabitants to coexist in as peaceful and comfortable way possible, considering they will be in a 45 gallon glass box. <Well- more a matter of corals from different environmental situations, such as deeper-dwelling LPS and shallow water, high- current-and high- light-loving SPS corals>   Red mushroom coral (Actinodiscus) - Indonesia Bullseye Mushroom Coral (Rhodactis) - South Pacific Orange / Red colony polyp (Zoanthus) - Indo-Pacific Clove / Glove Polyp (Clavularia) - Indonesia Brain coral (Wellsophyllia) - Indo Pacific Brain coral (Trachyphyllia) - Indonesia. So, will these animals be comfortable under my power compacts and setup? I realize that some of them require higher levels of light, so halides may be necessary.  Any additional suggestions as to some relatively hardy aesthetically pleasing corals that would be appropriate for my set-up would be much appreciated.  Your personal favorites etc.... <I like your stocking list...I have personally kept all of these animals under PC's in the past with very good results...Just study the requirements of each and consider placement within the system to minimize allelopathy and other potential problems between the animals.> Thanks again for the awesome job you guys and gals do. One day perhaps I can return the favor. Best Regards, Jesse Canizio Boca Raton, FL <Just keep learning and sharing with others, and you'll be doing a valuable service to everyone in this hobby! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Fish to Get Hey crew,  <Yo, Kevin here> I recently was looking into sharks but, I realized that since I am a teen, I could only afford a smaller one. I was going to get one but after I added up the cost with a chiller, I couldn't afford one (someday).  <I hear ya, you need an enormous system for sharks>  Well now I am looking into a custom installation (dimensions of around 46x24x32).  <Whoa, guess money isn't that tight!>  I would love to own a beautiful reef aquarium with some live rock. If you would be so kind as to e-mail me back some suggestions of some stunning, breath-taking fish, it would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I have a limited budget...  <You bet you will after having a custom ~120g tank built and set up properly!!!>   ...and I would like 2-4 medium-large size fish, maybe more.  <Keep in mind that this tank is only about 4' long, a bit short for large fish. You would be much better off with a 6' aquarium that is much shallower, for the both the fish and your lighting budget (you will need very powerful lighting to penetrate a 32" deep tank, we don't really recommend much over 24" if you can avoid it). I would suggest that you pick up Bob's book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and Scott Michael's little paperback, Pocket Expert Guide to Marine Fishes. They will give you in depth guidance to what size tank these fish will require. That said, in this tank as it stands, I'd recommend at most 2 nice tangs (with different body shapes and color, for example a purple tang and a hippo/regal tang) as your show fish. Pick out a nice Centropyge angel if you're willing to risk a little coral munching, and there are far too many nice gobies, wrasses, and Anthias to even begin to describe. Peruse through the aforementioned books and WetWebMedia's vast array of marine fish articles and develop a potential stocking list for this tank and hit us back with it for comment. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks a million in advance!  six month reader, Ryan

One Tank - Two Owners - Many Directions! Dearest crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight> First, I want to say thanks for recommending I remove a dying serpent star (while I was babysitting for my husband’s new-ish reef tank). The tank only had a minor ammonia spike and nothing else died in the process. <Thank goodness for that...> I still don’t know exactly what the set-up is but will share what I know: * 150gal. 6ftLx26”Hx20”D approx. * Excalibur Protein skimmer (runs all the time) * Two pumps for reverse water flow…moderate + flow * VHO lighting, two blue, two white on 12 hours/day (don’t know wattage and can’t read it, but supposedly an 8 rating and it is bright) * 140LB live rock not Fiji, more porous, except for one coral skeleton (came with our used tank and the damsel loves it) * Live sand from 6” in front to 4” in back (I think) * RO water filtering system- tastes way better than tap! * A/N/N= 0 * Hydrometer reading says 1.024.5 *pH 8.4(?) * Temperature is never below 78 and never above 82 (mostly right at 80) We are adding Kalkwasser daily (Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime).  Did a recent 10% water change- 1X/month <I'm the water change junkie here- I like 5% twice a week- Tropic Marin LOVES me! LOL> Livestock: * Soft coral frags-happily multiplying * Xenia- really happy and my personal fave. * Typical cleanup crew with probably 30 turbo snails, 1 Tigertail sea cucumber (I know, I know), some blue legs, 1 sally lightfoot, 2 emerald crabs * One brittle starfish * One yellow tail damsel * 15 temporary molly millers (if we can catch them) Four days ago we added a mated pair of tomato clowns with their host BTA. More on that later.  Now, can I vent a bit? This tank is my husband’s to do with as he wishes, but after I’ve been reading various materials from your site he and I are at odds. The aquarium “pro” he works with uses fish, etc. to cycle the tanks faster. <A traditional technique- but I don't think that it's necessary> Right now we have about 15 molly millers (we live near Pensacola and they caught them in the Gulf) because the green hairline (?) algae was getting ridiculous. In disgust, I have just ordered a book on algae. Those little beasts have knocked over soft corals and turbo snails. They steal food from my brittle and the BTA, not to mention their attraction to flake food. If they would eat the brown algae maybe… but as it is… I do not like them Sam-I-Am! <Yep- most of the blennies touted as "algae controllers" are highly overrated for that purpose, IMO! I love blennies and gobies- but I wouldn't rely on them as algae control> I have only just begun on the venting thing…sorry…we do not have a QT. The female tomato cl. looks like she may have Ich (small white bumps along her right gill, a couple on her right side, and something(s) on her tail fin. She is not acting “itchy” and is eating normally. The aquarium shop guy says “N-o-O-O-o-o” to Ich. <If it looks like Ich...> Since she won’t pose for me, I have yet to get a good enough photo. I have read all kinds of stuff, mostly from your site, and I still think it is Ich. Meanwhile, if I am right, my, oops, :-), my husband’s tank could be in trouble. <It can be...Ich is a very contagious illness, and immediate attention is required to knock it out...Go with your instincts here...> On to the BTA. I guess it is a green or green tipped anemone. The base is brown, or should I say, was? It drifted the second night (while my husband was gone…the only time anything goes wrong). It ended up in the overflow tube strainer. I took the whole strainer out and put it on the bottom where he immediately started trying to extricate himself (ah, still alive, what a relief!). We ended up cutting the strainer apart (and then gluing back together of course…it was Sunday!). <A pain in the you-know-what, but worth the effort..> It was very pale (although the green was still easy to see). After the clowns found it and wallowed awhile, I noticed its mouth was open, so I fed it (food-6mm, right?). I was surprised that it ate after all the trauma (but it closed up a bit like I would expect and the food was gone before the MM knew what happened). Anyway it has found a rocky crevasse and seems to be recovering. My question is (finally a question)…is it too far from the lights at about 20” away? How often should I feed it, and what, based on its harrowing brush with death? I would rather keep it than nearly any animal in the tank and am willing to work at it. <Let the animal move to the area that it wants...As far as the light that you have being suitable for this animal...Hard to say- depends a lot on positioning...I prefer halides for anemones...The more light the better...> Now, for the fun stuff…stocking the tank. When I last wrote you, you said the crew would be happy to help us figure that out. I do not trust my husband’s fishy friend at the aquarium shop for this although he is knowledgeable. I just think he is careless. We are not adding anything until we figure out what’s up with the clown and get a QT (‘cause I said so). <Good for you! Be patient! Get the fish (all of 'em) out and into a separate tank for observation and/or treatment...Let the main tank run without fishes for about a month...It works> But when the time comes we mostly want more corals. I like the leathers and mushrooms. We have dedicated one end of the tank (thankfully the opposite of where the BTA is currently). My husband likes hard corals like Acropora. <I think it's a guy thing? LOL. Well, mixing SPS and softies is common, but not particularly advisable. Soft corals give off many noxious substances that can inhibit the growth of SPS corals...Lots of folks do it- but it's not the best way, IMO...SPS or softies...Make the decision!> As for fish, we aren’t sure. The clowns and the yellow tail are done bickering for now, although I still blush at the colorful metaphors the yellow tail was using. Unbelievably, the BTA has, for now, selected a spot under the yellow tail’s territory. Anyway, I digress… Wish list, Some kind of cleaner fish (what kind and how many?) <Maybe 3-4 neon gobies> A dwarf angel- maybe a coral beauty or a flame? <A roll of the dice with corals...I'd go for the Coral Beauty, myself> My husband wants two tangs- a blue hippo and a yellow sailfin of some sort-I don’t think I want any tangs, convince me otherwise. <Tangs are great fish- and the Sailfin is one of my favorites of all- but it gets to be 15 inches! The Blue needs lots of space, too. I'd go with just one for long term maintenance, probably the Blue> I would rather have several schooling fish if possible with the current damsel situation <Well, that's a toughie, if the damsels are aggressive...Maybe a group of Chromis?> We haven’t any shrimp and would like them too. <Plenty of good ones to choose from...Check the WWM site for recommended selections> Other than that, we haven’t a clue, as they are all pretty, yadda, yadda, yadda… Also, what order would you put fish, critters in the tank? <I'd go with the most passive fish first, then move on to the more aggressive ones...Consider adult sizes of the fishes, their interactions with the other life forms (i.e.; your corals!), and their husbandry requirements> Wow, is this long! I am so sorry, especially about the venting, but I do feel better. If you are still reading this mess, THANKS!  Crystal <Hey Crystal! Venting is good! It's important that you and your spouse reach a consensus as to the direction that your tank will take (anemones, SPS, softies, LPS, etc.). I like "garden (mixed) tanks, but I think that it's important to be focused, and make a decision that is best for your animals...Research the options, your desires- and act accordingly! Write us again any time! Regards, Scott F>

Sebae, neon goby, Acclimation to new light Hello Bob and Crew... <Crew says hello...Bob says "eat jet fumes" as he's taking off for Australia <wink>> Just a few questions to pass the day.  <I usually eat chocolate with orange juice for this, but ask away. Anthony> I have had my Sebae anemone for appx. 1 year now and it is quite a centerpiece in my system. It is occupied by my tomato clown, and feeds readily on pieces of squid about twice per week.  <excellent husbandry> This Sebae quickly changed from white to brown in my system, and I took that as a good thing, I believe it is development of symbiont algae as a result of my lighting.  <absolutely... you saved a dying animal indeed> My question is this...My Sebae doesn't seem to have as long of tentacles as many others I've seen in pictures, etc..  <Jason, Jason, Jason... it's not the size of the tentacles that counts, its the motion of the ocean. Seriously. Water movement is often the limiting factor in polyp extension in cnidarians. I suspect that you have good to string movement if the tentacles are shorter. Bright light will encourage this as well (favorably)> It has doubled in size since I bought it, but the tentacles are for the most part about 1-1/2" long. Near the mouth some of the tentacles are about 1/2". Is this abnormal, and would it appear that my anemone is lacking something either nutritionally, or photosynthetically?  <nope... all sound like great signs to me> I currently have 220w PC lighting over this system. It is a 50 gal flat-back hex.  <see... I wouldn't kid you <wink>> One other thing, this anemone does move frequently. For the first 9 months or so it sat in one place, but recently I elevated my LR off of the DSB using egg crate and PVC. I was thinking that it is looking for the perfect spot in the water column, but wasn't sure. By the way, this anemone can move quite quickly if it chooses. Sometimes as much as 12 inches or so in an afternoon. <not a great sign. Often does so because of aging bulbs or a dirty lens/glass canopy... do check. Fluorescents last 6-10 months by most estimates. If yours are a year old, I wouldn't go much longer> Next question...I just purchased a neon goby for additional cleaning duties (also because my research says that they are great fish!). Since introduction I haven't seen the little bugger (1"). I only have a yellow tang and a tomato clown for fish so I don't think it was sushi, Maybe just hiding out to get used to things. <maybe he's dead> Lastly, I was thinking about adding 1 175w MH to this system. Would this be overkill? I'd like to try my hand at some of the hardier SPS but is 220w PC enough if it's placed high in the column? Thanks in advance for your input. Jason Harris, MARS member and avid reader of WetWebMedia.com <Anthony Calfo, apprentice to life... <The PC light isn't too shabby for a foray with SPS if the bulbs are fresh and you keep the SPS in the top 10" of water as you suspected. I like halides better if you are going to commit to shallow water Scleractinians. With new PC's and/or a new halide do acclimate the tank slowly to the be bright light. The following is an article soon to be posted on WWM o the topic: 

Set-Up for Corals Surfs up Bob!-I have currently had my 18 gallon marine tank set up for 5 months with about 20 lbs of colorful liverock and 3" of crushed coral as my substrate. I've just been running the filter (w/ carbon) with the liverock all this time with no hurry in adding livestock. I just recently added a SeaClone skimmer rated up to 100 gallons 2 weeks ago and has been running at full speed, which I can already tell was a good investment. <As long as it is collecting dark skimmate almost daily for you, I have no problems with it.> My filtration is a Tetra-Tec 150 filter and an extra little Rio pump for extra circulation. My lighting is a 2x36 watt power compact 4 or 5 inches above the water (1 daylight/1 actinic). I use Reef Crystal salt and the only supplement I add is strontium 2x/week. <Probably not all that useful. I prefer to dose to maintain calcium and alkalinity and somewhat for iodine.> I'm not much of a supplement junkie.. haha.. <Me neither> My question is: I was wondering if my tank (hardware) is ideal for supporting some coral? <It will work for some.> I am mainly interested in pulsing Xenias' and toadstool leathers. <Xenia's are fine, the Toadstools get rather large for your modest size tank.> I've did my research via reading your FAQs and have a good idea on how to keep them and about my setup. And I do have a test kit and plan on raising my pH and alkalinity levels. <I don't believe you mentioned those, but ...> -I have also seen you mention calcium reactors, is this necessary for a system this small? <No, a two part supplement will serve you better.> -Do you have any input on other hardy corals I could support with my system? <Mushrooms, Zoanthids, polyps, etc. all will need propagated to control growth.> Inhabitants: (just bought 4 days ago) 1: med. coral banded shrimp 3: turbo snails 4: red-legged hermits *soon to purchase a small Foxface before the coral* <This fish grows way too large for this tank.> -Also, I was wondering if you knew of any sites that had a really good (detailed) compatibility chart?- (fish, inverts, corals, etc.) <Nothing comes to mind, but do keep searching.> Thanks dude, Jason in Florida <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Set-Up for Corals Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your input, and have second guessed getting that Foxface. Instead, I purchased a coral beauty which is very much eye pleasing. -Jason <A much better choice. -Steven Pro>

Anemone & Inverts with Trigger I have a 75 gallon tank with a few damsels, 1 niger trigger and an anemone. Plan to add maroon clown soon. Considering adding more inverts to spruce up the tank. Since my setup is relatively simple (no special high-dollar lights), any suggestions for inexpensive, easy to care for inverts which could mix well with these fish? <No, thanks for asking! If you do not have intense lighting, then your anemone and any other photosynthetic invertebrates you attempt will be doomed to die. Add to that, your tank houses a Trigger and many other inverts are potential food items for it. -Steven Pro>

Slowly moving towards a reef I have had a fish only tank for the past 6 years, and am in the process of preparing my tank to support gorgonians, anemones, shrimp, polyps, mushrooms etc.  Would you agree that these are good specimens to begin with before trying any corals?   <the polyps (Proto-/Palythoa and Zoanthus) and the mushrooms are very good and hardy choices. The gorgonians are highly variable ranging from hardy to nearly impossible to keep alive. Please (!) be sure to avoid aposymbiotic species (Red orange, yellow and anything with white polyps). Stick with brown purple and grey species. Anemones are an entirely different story. Never to be mixed with sessile cnidarians (they are motile) and most require higher water quality and brighter lighting than most corals! Species tanks only for gorgonians please and after you have gained reef experience. Too many anemones die prematurely> Do these specimens have the same requirements as hardy corals, except that slightly more forgiving?  My head is spinning trying to figure out how much and how often to supplement calcium, iodine, and strontium.   <it shouldn't be that difficult my friend. Iodine dosed in very small amounts daily. Strontium is not needed. And calcium as necessary (test weekly and maintain target of 325-450ppm. I recommend Kalkwasser> At the suggestion of a well known LFS in the North East (The House of Fins), I purchased the EVS B-ionic system, and 'Reef Solution' by Ecosystems.  Are these good products?   <I like the ESV very much (but shake this and all 2-part solutions VERY well before Every dose, else they become separated and misdosed). I personally wouldn't take or use the Ecosystems product for free. Unnecessary IMO> How long before adding my first 'reef' specimens should I begin using these additives?   <no rule here. Calcium is dosed as needed (Ca testing).> The B-ionic is relatively expensive when compared with Kalkwasser, so I think I will switch to Kalkwasser after I finish the B-ionic (Can you recommend a brand?).   <Kalkwasser is more tedious to use, but has many benefits over all others. Read up on it well before using. Have you seen my primer article on Calcium and Alkalinity here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm many other good reef articles here and beyond on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Latest%20Articles.htm> I have also learned that Kalkwasser eats away at alkalinity, What should I use to keep this up, Kent SuperBuffer?   <Completely inaccurate... Kalkwasser actually indirectly Supports (!) alkalinity. So much so that some people need little or no buffer additions . Still... test Ca hardness to be sure when to dose buffer> Since I plan to move slowly, I am thinking of adding a gorgonian, an anemone and a few shrimp to start for the first 3 months or so.  Does this light load of inverts change the dosing of supplements?   <no anemones for at least 2 years or until you get a dedicated tank for it with no other corals or anemones. Also resist getting a clown for the anemone at least at first (more harm than good to the anemone). Seek a brown Sebae or a bubble tip anemone first> (I currently have a 90 gallon w/ LR curing in a garbage can, Blue Linckia, crabs, snails, 2 Cukes, and an assortment of damsels and clowns, 1 yellow tang).  How does my plan sound? <sounds like you have a blue Linckia that may starve my friend. Most needs mature reefs over 1 year old with aged live rock. Please target feed this sea star several times weekly for its survival. The cucumbers are also at risk of starving on immature live sand> Any suggestions are much appreciated. <as per above my friend. Overall though it sounds like you are on a good track> My biggest concern is a regiment to help me maintain consistent levels of these critical additives with which I have no experience.   <in that case, simply conduct 25% weekly water changes and sleep well knowing that for the first 6-12 months you will be doing better with wc's than any supplements could provide> Thanks for all your help, I'm sure your advice will save me many $ and headaches down the road. Adam Best regards, Anthony>

Inverts Good Afternoon, <Good evening!>     I am in the process of stocking (slowly) my Reef set-up. I have been very careful to read up on the compatibility of the fish I am adding (with each other and with the reef). <Very wise!> I don't have a lot of information on invertebrates however. I recently read a FAQ on your site regarding the mixing of inverts (differing lighting and circulation requirements). Before purchasing any of the inverts, I make a point to ask the owner of the LFS about it's hardiness (or lack thereof) and lighting but I am now seeking more information. I have a 45 gallon (tall) glass aquarium. It measures 12"W x 24"T x 36"L. If I hadn't already had the tank (from an earlier set-up) I would have gone shallower. <24" is deep. If you had a 4" or 5" sandbed it would help.> I use power compacts - two 55W blue actinics and two 55W 6750K white bulbs. This gives me approximately 5 watts per gallon. <This would be on the low end for high light animals.> My LR comes to within approximately 10-12" of the top of my tank. My lights sit directly on top of the tank. I have a tank turnover of almost 25 times <Good to hear...> per hour when I have my mechanical filter going (once a month or so) and almost 20 when it is not in use. The flow is somewhat varied. Not including the fish or the clean-up critters, I currently have a squamosa clam, a flame scallop, <I know flames are cheap and easy to buy, but they do need to be fed. Good luck keeping this one long term (as in years)...> a leather umbrella coral, a frogspawn coral, a couple of polyps and feather dusters that hitch hiked with the LR and a Red Sea Pom Pom (I assume of the Xenia family). <Heteroxenia> I have stayed away from the maxima clams and any hard corals due to my lighting and inexperience. <Another wise choice.> The pom pom, the leather coral and the frogspawn <Euphyllia divisa: One of the better hard corals for a tank like the one you describe.> are all near the top of the LR. <Good.> I have started adding Iodine with the addition of the Pom Pom. <Are you testing for the amount of iodine in the water? You really need to so the limits will stay within reason.> I have 2 questions; with the given set-up, have I introduced any inappropriate items? <I don't see anything that should cause a problem. Be careful about mixing hard and soft corals. Many hard corals from the Scleractinia family have sweeper tentacles. Don't place them close to other corals. Corals from the Octocoral family use chemical weapons. Not a major problem if you have a good skimmer and use a little bit of carbon.> Do you have any suggestions or comments regarding any new additions with regard to hardiness and/or compatibility? <The choices are so numerous...I won't go there. You are making excellent choices so far. Continue your search at WetWebMedia.Com> Thanks for your help. Your site is an invaluable tool. <Thank you for sending these thoughtful questions. It is our pleasure to be of service. David Dowless>

Stocking A Small Reef System Hi there, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Just curious if this stocking plan will work with my 37 Gallon tank. I've got 30 lbs. of LR, LS, built-in Eclipse filter, Remora Pro Skimmer, Power Compact Smart Lite Retrofit (65 watts) & a Rio 200 Air Pump. Are there any major compatibility issues or problems with anything? Thank you for your help. Week 1: -1 Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) <Nice animal to start with> -5 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs (Phimochirus operculatus) <I like the idea of adding herbivores/scavengers before the fishes> Week 2: -1 Bi-color Angel (Centropyge bicolor) <Not one of the better choices for Centropyge angels for a few reasons: First, it's one of the potentially larger ones, reaching 4-5 inches (too large for this tank, IMO). Second, it has a rather spotty reputation for hardiness of late; if a specimen has been properly collected/handled, you'll have a better chance for success, but this is not always verifiable. Finally, adding a Centropyge angel to a newly established tank is not a great idea, IMO. They need a good growth of algae and fauna on the live rock on which to "graze"...this takes time to become established, so I'd hold off on adding an angel for a few months, at least. BTW, I'd certainly go for one of the smaller Centropyge species for this sized tank, like C. argi or C. fisheri..> -1 Flower/Ricordea Mushroom (Discosoma species) a.k.a.: Disc Anemones, Flower Corals, Mushroom Anemones <Good hardy corals to start with (mushrooms, that is). If by "flower corals", you mean star polyps or "yellow polyps", then go for it...> Week 3: -1 Canary Fang Blenny (Meiacanthus ovaluanensis) <A nice fish for smaller tanks> -1 Finger Leather, Sinularia (Sinularia species) <an easy soft coral that will do nicely under good PC illumination> Week 4: -1 Burgundy Linckia Star (Burgundy species) <I'd go for a brittle star, myself...more useful, and a lot less touchy than Linckia species, IMO> Week 5: -1 Percula Clown-False (Amphiprion Ocellaris) or  1 Percula Clown-True (Amphiprion Percula) <Great little fishes!> -1 Carpet Anemone (probably Stich. gigantea) <I'd pass on the anemone- not needed for the clownfish, and requiring very strong illumination and highly stable water conditions...Take it slow, like you've planned-make a few minor adjustments to your plan, and you'll be fine. Have fun, and good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Growing Pains (Stocking a Up-And-Coming Reef) Thanks so much for your response.  I also put this message on your chat board and basically got the same response.  We have a pink tipped Haitian anemone.  I just don't understand why my LFS would not tell me to buy a stronger lighting system.  They seem knowledgeable and we have been telling them we are new to this and they know we would have bought pretty much anything they suggested in the beginning.  Problem is I don't have much choice as there are only a few places around here that sell marine animals. <Well, one good thing- I'd certainly say that Condylactis anemones (which I believe your specimen is) are among the hardiest anemone specimens for captivity. Also, they are fairly abundant in their natural environment, so the impact of their collection is not quite as great as say, carpet anemones, or other species. That being said- they still require a high level of attention to do well in captivity...I also don't know why the LFS didn't recommend more light; perhaps there is some misconception as to their requirements...> Anyway, regarding the anemone and clownfish, as I said the one larger fish stays with the anemone while the smaller one keeps trying the other aggressively shoos it away.  I want the smaller one to be happy too. It doesn't give up.  It has found a hiding place in the rocks but keeps trying for the anemone.  Can I put another anemone in the tank (once I get better lighting)?  Does it have to be the same kind? <Well, I am not a big fan of multiple anemones in a relatively small system. the potential for aggression (yep- I said "aggression"- as in chemical warfare and/or cannibalism) between the two is too great. In time, there is a good chance that your smaller clownfish will become a male in this pair, and the female (the larger of the two) will probably allow him into the anemone at some point (assuming that they pair off), so just make sure that the little guy is eating and not being injured by the other one> We plan to eventually put more live rock, some coral and over the next 3-6 months, fish wise, we are looking at tangs and/or angels, <I'm not a big fan of tangs in smaller tanks, so do consider the ultimate size of the species that you are interested in, and your ability to provide for its needs in the long term. As for angels- I love 'em- but if you intend to have corals, you may have some problems with them nipping and/or eating the polyps. Study the fish you intend to keep very carefully, and make sure that you are okay accepting the potential "trade off" in keeping these animals> maybe one each of blennies, a Hawkfish and Pseudochromis. <These are much better choices, for the most part; they stay small, are generally not overly aggressive, and do very well in mixed fish/invert systems> We saw an electric scallop but don't know much about them.  I appreciate your thoughts and comments. <They don't do well in captivity...Avoid them! How's that for some advice! LOL...Seriously, they are most difficult to keep alive for long periods of time in captivity, and I'd say that they are really not good choices for captive systems> Thanks, Sue <No problem, Sue! Glad that you are growing and learning in the hobby! Just take it slow-read a lot, share your experiences with others, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Chrysurus angel... in a reef? hello there crew! I had a quick question about the Goldtail angel (Pomacanthus Chrysurus).  Now I know no angel is "reef safe" but I have to ask...Can a Chrysurus be kept in conjunction with reef  tank inhabitants? <Have seen one that was, long term... in a friend's large system whom you've likely heard of. Leng Sy of EcoSystem Aquarium> I know that some angels can get along in a reef such as Majestics and imperators.  I mean I've seen it done before and was wondering if you think a Chrysurus could fit into the somewhat reef safe angel category.  The tank will have mostly SPS corals with a very healthy fauna.  It's a 70g tall tank (I know waaay to small for this fish but will be upgraded to the likes of a 180-300g system by the time it grows out of its juvenile phase) with a 20g sump and 20-50g refugium.  All I'm asking is "can it be done" if I take the right precautions (quarantine, healthy eating individual, small initial size, etc.)?                                       Thanks for the help and quick response :)                                                           Chris AKA Fishtank <Can be. Bob Fenner>

Stocking a 75 Gallon Tank Hi all, <Hi! Ryan Bowen with you today> It has been a while since I've been to the site, was very pleased to see the new ezine 'Conscientious Aquarist.' <I'm enjoying it as well!> I wanted to get some input on my thoughts to add some new fish to an established reef tank. I currently have a 75gal tank; the total water volume including refugium and sump is ~105gal. It is one year old and everything is doing very well. It contains various corals a Crocea and a pair each of cleaner and peppermint shrimp. But my question is really on the fish, the tank seems like it needs a bit more activity in it or maybe it's just me. I would like at least one show fish and possibly some other small additions. The current fish inhabitants are 4 zebra bar gobies, a 2.5" royal Gramma (these 5 have been in the tank since 12/2003), a small bi-color blenny and a small marine Betta (these 2 have been in there since 8/2004). I was thinking of adding a small regal tang, a coral beauty or similar pigmy, and a 6 line wrasse. I do not want to disturb the success I currently have just to add some more movement to my tank. So I was hoping to get some suggestions on how to proceed. <I'd suggest a small angel, like a Flame or Coral Beauty.  A Regal Tang isn't really a great choice for this size.  You could also add some very interesting wrasses!  It truly depends on what's available in your area, but a variety of wrasses, including the 6 line wrasse, would likely work well in your scenario.> Thank you so much for all of your contributions to the hobby they are priceless. <Thanks! Good luck, Ryan> Cheers, -Ryan

How much is too much? (Reef stocking) Hi WWM crew, <Hello Ivan> I have a couple of questions to you about stocking a 120-gal reef. I sent you another e-mail asking about set-up but I guess it didn't reach you (I think the server went down or something). Anyhow, I'm still in the planning stage and I've decided to start off the tank as an inverts only tank. It will be hard corals mostly with a couple of clams, some (electric) flame scallops, <These are not easily kept> a few soft corals (xenia, Clavularia, Ricordea), a sand sifting star, a Fromia, 3-4 cleaner shrimps, some dwarf hermits, sand snails (like the Nassarius, Cerith and the like) and feather dusters; one inch sand bed, lots of live rock with caves, overhangs, etc. Eventually some of the inverts will go in the refugium (like the FDs) and I'll build it up to a true reef tank (so to speak). I've made an extensive research and I've decided on the following species of fish from which to choose: pacific blue tang (p. hepatus) flame angel 4 or 6-line wrasse Chaetodon miliaris big Longnose bf (f. longirostris) marine Betta Chromis cyanea Banggai cardinal chalk bass (Serranus tortugarum) Pseudochromis fridmani Here come the questions: 1. 4/6-line wrasse: It is known to eat cleaner shrimp, yet the two have been kept successfully together in some systems. Is there any difference in the behavior of the 4-line and the 6-line wrasse? <Either can be mellow to not... particularly re small crustaceans> Is there a safer one? <IMO the four> Other line wrasses that might be safer? <Nope> Will the fact that the system is not overcrowded, provides lots of hiding places, the fish is well fed and there is 3-4 cleaner shrimp increase the chances that the fish and the shrimp will get along? <Not really. One is about the same as a few> 2. Chaetodon miliaris (such a beautiful fish!!!) I've read that their colors fade in captivity. Is there any way to keep their coloration vibrant? <The use of a good-sized, vibrant refugium to provide exemplary water quality and plenty of live foodstuff> I don't want a pale yellowish-white fish. I read that it eats zooplankton and fish eggs mostly in the wild, well zooplankton (like Mysis) can be cultured and you can buy frozen lobster eggs, enrich them with vitamins, give it quality dry-food like tetra for extra color, etc... do you think that this would work to some extent? <Yes, at least worth trying> Also it's considered one of the safest bf for reefs, do you think that any of the inverts I mentioned above will be in danger? <Should be fine> I am always willing to take a calculated risk... 3. F. longirostris. Considered safer with inverts than the flavissimus; fishbase.org say that the big Longnose feeds on small crustaceans, worms, etc. I'm concerned about the scallops and the stars although unlike f. flavissimus they are not listed as part of its diet. Any suggestions here? <Both Forcipiger feed on about the same mix of organisms, but not large specimens of the invert.s you list... they have small priser-like teeth for pulling out small animals> 4. Marine Betta. I think I'm going beyond the calculated risk here but this fish is just magnificent! Real quick here: do you think it will be dangerous to the Pseudochromis, Chromis, Banggai, chalk bass? <Should also be fine> It will eat the shrimp but again as with the wrasses if the system is less overcrowded, lots of hiding places, the fish well fed, etc., etc. is there a sufficient chance for the shrimp to be left alone? <If/when the Betta is small, yes... when larger, the shrimp are molting...> I don't mind it eating a couple of hermits or snails, or even feeding it small guppies or mollies but there is only so much that is acceptable. How about the scallops and the stars? <These will be fine> If I get it small and get the shoaling fish and the shrimp big any better chances of it not eating them? 5. Shoaling fish (Chromis, Banggai, chalk bass) I haven't decided yet which one of these I'll pick. From what I read, the Chromis works well with SPS, the Banggai is more nocturnal and grass-shallows associated and then the chalk bass is found near solitary rocks and employ conch shells and the likes. I like them all. <Obviously!> I like the idea of the Chromis with the SPS, the Banggai ruling the night, the bass hovering over solitary rocks or empty shells. But I am very keen on the tang, the angel and the bf and I want everyone to have sufficient room so I have decided of introducing just one shoaling species but say in a group of 5-6. Any idea which would work best with my kind of system? <The Chromis you mention> And finally, I do want to understock rather than overstock, which species from the listed above do you think I should leave out? How much is too much for my size of system? Thank you, Ivan <You could eliminate one of the Butterflyfish species, but all will go... and be about all the fish life you want in your 120. Bob Fenner>

Regal Angel Enquiry Hi Wet Webbers... <Hi Brett, MacL here with you today.> Just a simple enquiry.  Are Pygoplites (Regal) angels reef safe? <NO they aren't, no way no how>  Can I trust one in my soft coral/coralline algae tank? <NOPE> I understand their natural diet is supposed to be tunicates and sponges.  Sadly, here in Thailand fish sellers (I use this term as most know little or nothing about the creatures they sell and are just out for a quick turn over of stock with little care for the animals in the time they are in the shop/market) feed their reef fish brine shrimp and nothing else.  I am not sure if this is due to the belief they are nutritious or just that fish seem to relish them.  As long as it is eating, will a regal eat other more beneficial foods with ease when I get it home or is it likely to be a struggle to get one onto them after prolonged feeding with brine shrimp. <Regals are very difficult to get to eat so if you have found one eating that's a good thing. It needs more nutritious foods and it does need the tunicates and sponges in order to stay healthy and live a long and fulfilled life without dietary deficiencies.  You can however get these in some types of angel formula foods.  Regals are one of the toughest of the large angels Brett but very pretty fish for sure.> Brett Moloney Bangkok

Reef safe butterflies Hi Bob, I am setting up my second tank and was reading Marine World, a magazine to which you have contributed a couple of articles in the latest issue. I was reading the Question and Answer section, where somebody asked about reef safe butterflies and Chaetodon collare. Vincent Hargreaves answered that, amongst others, Chaetodon auriga (sic) and Chaetodon Lunula and Chaetodon quadrimaculatus are reef safe - but not H. diphreutes?. Can you give us a quick list of all safer butterflies and with which type of set up they are safer i.e. soft/hard/SPS corals? Thanks very much in advance. Massimo, UK <Mmm, none are completely "reef safe", but amongst the species most likely to "leave soft and hard corals, Corallimorphs, anemones and "polyps" alone" are the above, the entire genus Heniochus, the Forcipigers and genus Hemitaurichthys. All these chaetodonts are more or less zooplanktivores. Bob Fenner>

Adding fish before coral - 10/07/03 Thank you in advance for helping me out. <It's what we do> I've been glued to your site since I've found it, and after reading and reading, and waiting patiently, my tank is finally cycled after adding LR, and I've begun my reef. <Very good> So far, all I've put in are 5 hermits, and 5 snails, at the advice from my LFS. <No problem> However, I have had conflicting advice over my next issue: Coral or fish 1st? I've had people tell me that coral first is a MUST, and I've had others tell me that as long as fish are added slowly, it's not much of a concern. <Hmmmm. Maybe I am more out of the loop than I thought as I have not heard either argument> I have a small 10 gallon QT in which I have a small scooter blenny, and a Royal Dottyback. They've been in there for some time now (around 4 months or so), <Oh yeah, they are ready to be moved> and before I have money to buy any corals, I was wondering if it was that bad of an idea to put them in first. <Go for it> one reason to free up the QT, and another, because my reef tank is a 50 gal, and presumably a more stable environment. Is this a bad idea? <Not in my opinion. Go for it -Paul>

Fish selections (10-6-03) Hi, <Howdy, Cody here today.> I set up I reef aquarium and is was wondering what some good beginner fish for a reef aquarium would be to put in it and how long after I put in the live rock do I have to water to put fish in. (it had been running for about a month before I put the rock in.) <As far as fish go you can find tons of info at our site: www.wetwebmedia.com.  You should be ok to put fish in when your water levels are in check, you can also find more about this at our website.  Cody.

Stocking List for a 100g Reef-Can You Keep a Dwarf Lion? >Hi there WWM crew from the UK >>Greetings from California, Martin, Marina today. >Great site. I always end up back here for info. Would appreciate comment/advice on my stocking plan.  I have a 100g  60x18x24 plus sump (15x15x24), will have 140lbs live rock. Am running an Eheim 1260, Turboflotor 100 SL skimmer, 2 MaxiJet 1260 powerheads, and 1-2" depth of fine/medium fine sand substrate. 1 x T5 90w  and 4 x T5 54w (2 blue, 2 white).  I am planning a reef tank so will have a majority of softies and LPS - with maybe some SPS corals at the top of the LR nearer the lights.  Would appreciate advice on my stocking plan.  When tank has cycled I plan to add inverts 1x cleaner shrimp 1x peppermint shrimp 4x red leg hermits 6x Astrea snails 6x Nassarius Snails 6x Cerith Snails >After a couple of weeks of inverts I will start with the fish in this order over the next 6 weeks. 3x green Chromis 2x true percula clowns 1x orchid Dottyback 1x citron goby More inverts - similar to last list plus a blue Linckia starfish Those I'm pretty sure about.  After that it gets a little difficult.  I would appreciate advice on what if any of the following would be OK to add after the first and maybe what the best combo of these are. I was planning  3 or so individuals from this list: a.. purple tang b.. Copperband butterfly (Aiptasia killer) >>Actually, if you ensure you get Lysmata wurdemanni you'll have a more reliable Aiptasia eating/eliminating resident (a.k.a. peppermint shrimp) >c.. dwarf lion (Dendrochirus zebra) >>Don't count on keeping your smaller fish or inverts very long with one of these in the system. >d.. coral beauty e.. mandarin >>Best only once the system is 1-2 years old, and really only if you have a refugium in place. f.. Bannerfish (Heniochus acuminatus) g.. fox face rabbit fish h.. long nose hawk fish (although it might snack on the shrimps) >>Less chance of this one doing so than the lion.  They do get froggy and they will JUMP, however. I.. Longnose butterfly My first thought was the tang, the lionfish and the mandarin (mandarin only when the tank has matured). But am worried that the dwarf lion will make lunch of the Dottyback and goby and maybe the clowns? >>Anything it thinks will fit in its mouth.  I would really leave the lion out altogether, myself. >Lastly - can you recommend a good algae eater (fish) for the list that I should think about making space for?  Best, Martin >>You've got the tang in that mix, along with all those snails, it and they should do a job on algae, though I would also target feed with Nori to ensure proper nutrition.  I believe that you need make some decisions and slim the selection down a bit.  Personally, I would leave out the Foxface (eats a great deal, though a very easy keeper).  I'd be wary of the butterfly and the Centropyge angel with LPS corals, they are known to nip (though I never had troubles with my own coral beauties and LPS's).  Of this mix, I would definitely leave out the dwarf lion, the Heniochus or the Copperband, and the Foxface or the tang.  It's more to do with size issues than anything else (except in the case of the lion).  You seem to already be aware of the problem with the mandarin, so let's not even discuss this animal at this point.  This would leave you with the Chromis, the clowns, the Pseudochromis, the goby, the Hawkfish.  From there you would do fine with the purple tang, I would suggest instead of a coral beauty a Centropyge argi (smaller, hardier, though a bit more pugnacious, but different coloring, no worse-generally, than other Centropyge in reef setups).  Choose two of the three butterflies (though I must warn you that they are known at times to nip LPS as well), and you'll be set, I personally love Copperbands and banners, however one of the Flavissimus butterflies (there are two species) would be good, too.  I think that would be quite the striking mix as well.  Size, activity, color, and so on.  Do be sure to quarantine ALL animals for a minimum of 30 days before introduction into the tank, yes, even the very first animals.  This is the only way to ensure you never introduce pathogens into the main display.  I hope this has helped.  Marina

Stocking List for a 100g Reef, Follow Up >Thanks Marina >>You're welcome, Martin. >Your advice  pretty much confirmed my thinking. Having read up on the Lion I thought it might be in with a chance being a "dwarf" species (albeit the goby and Dottyback would probably eventually have one fate) - but don't really want to lose the inverts as well.  Hadn't considered the Centropyge argi  before - will have a good look at this one! >>Please do, they're too often overlooked, I think. >Looks like it will be the purple tang, and the hawk and then a flip between the Bannerfish and the Copperband. Now why didn't I go for the 8' tank? >>The question all too often asked, eh? >Thanks again, Martin >>Glad to be of help, Marina

Pyramid Butterfly I was wondering if Pyramid butterflies are reef-safe. Would they do fine in a SPS tank, or would they eat the polyps. would the lights be to bright. Would they pick at any LPS corals (Cyanaria, Blastomussa). Any info would be appreciated. <Hemitaurichthys polylepis... is likely to the far right side in it's likelihood, tendency to "leave Scleractinians, Alcyonaceans alone"... The species, genus are principally zooplanktivores... do get quite big, live in areas of great water movement... Your lighting is probably fine, but procuring this BF in initially good condition (it ships poorly) is not easily done. Do seek out Hawaiian specimens if you're in the U.S.A.. Bob Fenner>

Patience Is A (Big) Virtue! Hello. <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a question relating to the timing of adding fish to my marine tank. The set up is a 265 gallon display with about a 40 gallon sump, and a 75 gallon refugium.  There is 275 lbs of live rock in the display, with about 50 lbs of live rock in the refugium.  I am using a Euro Reef skimmer, and no other filtration. <A great skimmer...An interesting setup, too> The tank has been cycled for about 4 weeks, and there are currently 5 turbo fluctuosa snails, 5 Ceriths, and 7 Trochus snails.  There is significant hair algae growth on the substrate (6 inch DSB), but the snails are keeping the rock pretty clean. There are many feather dusters growing on the rock, and a sponge as well.  There are a few tiny crustaceans in the display that I can see on the rock, and some of the same, along with a colony of tiny shrimp in the refugium.  I also accidentally acquired a yellow damsel (not yet identified) with some live rock that I bought locally. <I've heard o hitchhikers, but that's wild!> I am feeding the damsel, but it also is picking at the copepods.  The question is, I have not seen swarms of copepods in the display, or the refugium and I want to make sure that they have a chance to develop to the point where they will continue to exist after the addition of fish.  I eventually want coral, and other inverts as well, and want to make sure they have food.  So, how long should I wait to add fish, shrimp + others that may prey on the micro fauna? <I'll tell you- if you can hang on for 6 months, or even a year(!), you will have an absolutely phenomenal growth of fauna! It's really hard to be that patient, but it is a great way to accomplish this! The other solution is to employ a refugium in line with the system, which will yield a continuous stream of planktonic life for the system> Would plankton reactors be a good idea in the future?  Thanks. -Dave <Well, Dave- I think that plankton reactors are really cool ideas for systems containing large numbers of SPS corals and other life that would benefit from their presence. A plankton reactor is certainly a good idea for the future! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Stocking Crew:  Part 1:  I have an established 225 gallon tank (72" long x 30" wide x 24" tall) which currently houses 2 False Percs, 6 Green Chromis, a Royal Gramma, and 2 Chalk Bass.  Corals are all soft (Sinularia, toadstools, devil's hand), Zoanthids, and several varieties of Ricordea.  Inverts include cleaner shrimp, serpent stars, and snails.  Over time I plan to complete my livestocking with the following: 2 - Chalk Bass (currently in quarantine) 1 - Flame Angel (tank raised are now available) <yes, and are almost 80 dollars at liveaquaria.com!> 3 - Filamented Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus filamentosus (1 male & 2 female) and either  <nice attractive little fish> 1- Longnose Butterfly (Forcipiger flavissimus); or Bannerfish (Heniochus diphreutes).  <both are nice species> My stocking questions are (1)  do you see any problems with my proposed stocking plan;  <I don't recommend putting any species of butterfly fish in "any" reef type setting...I have had Chaetodon semilarvatus butterfly fish kill my cleaner shrimp!> (2) what is the optimal sequence to add the fish; and (3) re: the butterflies -- between the two is one a better choice and if the Heniochus is acceptable, do they need to be kept in a group (how many?) or can they thrive singly. <I would not purchase "any" butterfly fish for a reef aquarium and the flame angel might also be a bad idea... sometimes they nip and sometimes they don't> Part 2:  The two Chalk Bass I currently have quarantined (5 weeks now) each developed a single white spot on their tail which resembled the dreaded Ich spot.  I recently completed a 14-day copper treatment.  <I would have just performed a FW dip with Methylene blue>  The single spot has remained on each but there has been no spread to any other fins or body part. <it might not be Ich... was it blotchy? or did it just resemble a grain of salt?>   They have remained very active and feeding like horses. <good to hear>  Is it possible this spot represents something other than Ich. <if it is blotchy it could be Lymphocystis (viral infection)>   Would it be safe to add them to the display tank or is some other treatment required.  <I would keep them in Qt and monitor them... even though they have been in Qt for 5 wks... it's just not worth the risk of introducing disease to the reef aquarium> Thank you for your input and assistance. Your site is a fantastic resource. <You're Welcome, IanB>

Add The Wrasse - But It's The Last! G'day Scott, <Hey there again!> After I got your reply (which was very speedy and much appreciated) I got my LFS to test my water and the results were Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 & Nitrate 10. I had mis-read my test as the colour chart is very sketchy. <That's been known to happen! Glad to hear that it's a zero> Also I do realize my tank has quite a bio-load for such a newly established tank but you will have to understand that finding the species of fish (besides clownfish and damsels) you want to get in a healthy state here in Australia is a very hard thing to find. I know this isn't a very good excuse. <Well, no- but I can understand!> And also about the wrasse- I did actually mean the Canary Wrasse but the LFS had labeled it wrong and only realized after I had sent the email. <Thought so! The Canary is a great little fish!> I haven't bought it though, and won't for a while. The Wrasse being my last fish won't make my tank too over-stocked in the long run? If it will I will leave it out. <I think I'd add the wrasse and stop at that!> Anyway thanks for all your help. Dave. <My pleasure, Dave! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> P.S. Is there anywhere to get the second WWMC book on inverts in Australia? (loved the last one!) <I think that you'd be best served ordering it direct from WWM...However, I'll ask Bob and Anthony if they know...>

Kicking Off! (A New Tank) Scott, <Hello again!> I have almost completed the plumbing of my 90 and am very close to putting in the sand and filling it up. <Here's where the fun begins!> 5"-6" DSB, 30 Gallon sump, 1200 GPH turnover. I was planning on getting some live sand activator from IPSF.   But for only a few $$ more I can get the mix n match special, where you can get 9 items. <A great deal, from one of my favorite sources on the 'net!> This is the list of 9 that was recommended to me. Can these all go in a new system? 1. Baby Bristle worms 2. Wondermud 3. N-Reducer 4. Nerites Grazers 5. Strombus Grazers 6. Micro Hermits 7. Reef Amphipods 8. Live sand activator 9. Anthelia Polyps. <All would be fine, once the system has cycled> If all these are good to get the tank going.... Do I have to put something in for them to eat? <I'd start feeding a little bit of frozen foods to kick things off a bit> Or do you have any other suggestions if some of these are not good choices? <All are fine...The Anthelia (one of my favorite corals) are quite hardy, but make sure that you take into account their requirements, as far as placement and lighting are concerned> Thanks much Bill <My pleasure, Bill. Good luck with this project! Sounds like things are really going to start moving now! Regards, Scott F.>

No Butterfly Kisses Here (Butterfly in a Reef)... Oh knowledgeable ones, <Wow! I've been called susceptible, corruptible, culpable, even palatable...but knowledgeable- that's cool! Scott F. here tonight> I am thinking of adding a raccoon butterfly to a 500 gallon reef tank. Mostly SPS. I do have some rose anemones in the tank. Would they be at risk or the SPS.  Any thoughts would be appreciated. I did try to page through you question pages but could not find this are describing this. Thanks in advance. <On the whole, I'd have to call this fish "reef-unsafe". It really will eat, or at least sample, most of the SPS and other corals and inverts that you are keeping. In fact- I can recall at least one book that recommends trying an anemone as an appetite stimulant for a Raccoon Butterfly who's a reluctant feeder. Yikes! Much better to try a Chaetodon kleini, or a Forcipiger longirostris ("Big Long-Nosed Butterflyfish"), IMO. These fishes are a bit less of a threat to your corals. Granted, in a large tank with lots of corals- the "damage" is spread out over a lot of specimens, but do you really want to put them at risk? It's really a "roll of the dice" when attempting to keep a Butterfly in a coral-dominated reef system. Keep researching these fishes, and make the decision based upon your level of comfort...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Inverts Good Afternoon, <Good evening!>     I am in the process of stocking (slowly) my Reef set-up. I have been very careful to read up on the compatibility of the fish I am adding (with each other and with the reef). <Very wise!> I don't have a lot of information on invertebrates however. I recently read a FAQ on your site regarding the mixing of inverts (differing lighting and circulation requirements). Before purchasing any of the inverts, I make a point to ask the owner of the LFS about it's hardiness (or lack thereof) and lighting but I am now seeking more information. I have a 45 gallon (tall) glass aquarium. It measures 12"W x 24"T x 36"L. If I hadn't already had the tank (from an earlier set-up) I would have gone shallower. <24" is deep. If you had a 4" or 5" sandbed it would help.> I use power compacts - two 55W blue actinics and two 55W 6750K white bulbs. This gives me approximately 5 watts per gallon. <This would be on the low end for high light animals.> My LR comes to within approximately 10-12" of the top of my tank. My lights sit directly on top of the tank. I have a tank turnover of almost 25 times <Good to hear...> per hour when I have my mechanical filter going (once a month or so) and almost 20 when it is not in use. The flow is somewhat varied. Not including the fish or the clean-up critters, I currently have a squamosa clam, a flame scallop, <I know flames are cheap and easy to buy, but they do need to be fed. Good luck keeping this one long term (as in years)...> a leather umbrella coral, a frogspawn coral, a couple of polyps and feather dusters that hitch hiked with the LR and a Red Sea Pom Pom (I assume of the Xenia family). <Heteroxenia> I have stayed away from the maxima clams and any hard corals due to my lighting and inexperience. <Another wise choice.> The pom pom, the leather coral and the frogspawn <Euphyllia divisa: One of the better hard corals for a tank like the one you describe.> are all near the top of the LR. <Good.> I have started adding Iodine with the addition of the Pom Pom. <Are you testing for the amount of iodine in the water? You really need to so the limits will stay within reason.> I have 2 questions; with the given set-up, have I introduced any inappropriate items? <I don't see anything that should cause a problem. Be careful about mixing hard and soft corals. Many hard corals from the Scleractinia family have sweeper tentacles. Don't place them close to other corals. Corals from the Octocoral family use chemical weapons. Not a major problem if you have a good skimmer and use a little bit of carbon.> Do you have any suggestions or comments regarding any new additions with regard to hardiness and/or compatibility? <The choices are so numerous...I won't go there. You are making excellent choices so far. Continue your search at Wetwebmedia.com> Thanks for your help. Your site is an invaluable tool. <Thank you for sending these thoughtful questions. It is our pleasure to be of service. David Dowless>

Re: Porites and x-mas worms Hello crew.  I got my 90 gallon up finally and was wondering what kind of fish I could keep in there along with my corals.  I have a 2 - 175 metal halide system.  Corals consist of open brains, hammers, bubbles, some mushrooms and leathers, some clams, (does this sound compatible?) <Fine as long as each is in proper lighting/water flow/general conditions.> and a Porites with x-mass tree worms.  I had a wrasse in there and it would pick at the worms.  Is there any fish that I could keep in there that wont bother my corals and worms?   <Yes, many fine choices. Your Clown is one such example.  For more see the marine stocking section of WetWebMedia.com. Too many choices to list! All have recommendations as to reef compatibility.> Can I transfer my maroon clown over to this tank with the x-mass tree worms?  Thanx <Shouldn't be a problem.  Maybe look into some of the smaller Tangs?  Don't forget to quarantine all new additions for a minimum two weeks before introducing into display.  Craig>

Fishes For New Reef Tank Guys, I am looking for some input here. I have acquired a 300 gal tank that will (again) be a reef tank. The system is currently dead. I am rearranging things to start a DSB with LR, I have added a larger sump (55 gal), added a refugium (also 55 gal) with PC lighting and am trying to figure out how to add a calcium reactor. <Open wallet, remove cash... :) > My eventual goal is for it to be a SPS reef tank with a moderate amount of fish stock. Can you suggest a mix of fish that would be both commonly available and compatible with SPS corals? My wife is also insisting on a few Derasa clams so I guess they need to be safe as well. Many Thanks! Scott <Well, lots of possibilities here, actually. In a large tank, you could have a nice population of smaller fishes, like gobies, blennies, Anthias, reef-safe wrasses, (can you tell I favor smaller fishes?), smaller tangs, even some angelfish, like the Genicanthus species...lots and lots of choices-do check the wetwebmedia.com site for plenty of information on many different species that would fit your needs! This is the best part of setting up a tank, IMO. Have fun!  Scott F.>

New Reef Aquarist Hi, I have a 125 U.S. Gal with Live Rock. Am trying to keep (hardy) soft and hard corals in my tank I have a 300 Watt HQI Metal Halide ( I heard that its much better ) .  <HQI lights are generally very fine lights for symbiotic invertebrates. Better yet if the color temperature is 6500 to 10K> I will try to keep the pink sebae Anemone , Mushrooms , Star fish .etc...  <although a healthy sebae anemone is one of the hardiest species... it does not belong in a display with sessile cnidarians or other anemones (no coral! The anemone moves around and will eventually cause a terrible disaster). Anemones are best kept in a species tank. Enjoy your reef tank without any anemones> CAN YOU PLEASE NAME ME SOME OTHER KINDS FOR SUCH A TANK??  <there are hundreds of creatures to pick from. You need a good book my friend. For an illustrated reference, try Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals. For an intensive text book, try my Book of Coral Propagation, Reef Gardening for Aquarists. In the meantime... take my advice based on considerable experience. Focus on Soft corals and Zoantharians (mushrooms and button polyps). Avoid all hard corals and clams for the first year to make your life (and theirs!) a lot more simple> The guy in the LFS said that I can choose ANY invertebrates I want from the Red Sea <that is truly irresponsible advise. I'm sorry that you were told that> .Can you provide me with SOME hard or soft corals names that I can get from there and will live in my tank? I tried to find a GOOD books about good and hardy corals but I couldn't, that's why am asking for your help!!!!! Thank You WWM Crew. <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Aww Mom...Can't I KEEP him? (Aiptasia, reef stocking) <<Greetings, Wesley...>> I've got my 48 gallon bow tank up and cycled with 60 pounds of live rock. I added a couple of PJ Cardinals. Now I'm having so much fun watching all the life on the live rock I'm wondering if I should even add anymore fish. Would I be weird? :-D. <<Only if you covered the inside of your windows with tin foil and wore a colander on your head.>> I have one little glass anemone, well, he WAS little. I was going to get a few peppermint shrimp and go into the shrimpin' bidness to control the pest anemones but heck, they are cool. <<Well... cool for a little while, these have a nasty habit of spreading to the exclusion of just about everything else.>> I've got a whole bunch of things that I believe some might consider pests, like a very nice clump of turtle weed, but personally life is life to me and some of these so called pests are really beautiful. Anyway, I guess one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? <<That's what they say...>> What I'm aiming for is to have FOWLR and a decent clean up crew that wont harm all the little feather dusters and worms and macro algae that came with my rock. I've got a small micro algae bloom that is manageable so far with scraping but it would be nice to have it done "for" me. I think I have decided to go with snails and leave out the crabs. <<It'll never happen to that extent... you will always need to boost the natural process.>> I had some nice Mithrax in the past but they do end up eating whatever they feel like eating. <<That's a crab for you.>> Are there specific snails that will help me control the microalgae but leave the rest alone? <<The usual suspects will work fine.>> How about somebody to sift the sand? <<Perhaps some Nassarius snails... these work really well.>> I shy away from cucumbers because they just haven't survived for me. <<good plan>> Anyhow, thanks for listening and thanks as always for your help. Wesley
<<Cheers, J -- >>

Small Marine Aquariums
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Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
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