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FAQs about Small Marine System Livestocking 11  

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Related FAQs: Small Marine System Livestocking 1, Small Marine System Stocking 2, Small Marine Stocking 3Small Marine Stocking 4, Small Marine Stocking 5, Small Marine Stocking 6, Small Marine Stocking 7, Small Marine Stocking 8, Small Marine Stocking 9, Small Marine Stocking 10, Small Marine Stocking 12, Small Marine Stocking 13Small Marine Stocking 14, Small Marine Stocking 15, & Cnidarians for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Small Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes and More for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Blennies, -oids for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Damsels, Clownfishes for Small Systems by Bob Fenner, Dwarf Dwarf Angels of the Genus Centropyge by Bob Fenner, Jawfishes Suitable for Small Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, Little Basses for Small Systems by Bob Fenner,

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

New Print and eBook on Amazon: by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Small Marine Aquariums
Book 3:

New Print and eBook on Amazon:
by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Sarcophyton species & sizes 6/30/09
Hello all, and thanks in advance for letting me bug you yet again with another question. I have a newly-set-up 34-gallon Solana Nano that is still cycling, so I'm in the planning stage as far as livestock is concerned. My question is: Do all Sarcophyton species get very large, or are there some (or even one) that stay a reasonable size for this tank capacity?
<Mmm... well... the most commonly available species can/do get huge... much larger than most all hobbyist systems... They can be "slowed down", even dwarfed... by not much feeding... starting with small specimens, cuttings...>
I read in your account of "Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae" that S. glaucum gets to be 12" in diameter. Is this the "cap" or the stalk?
<The capitulum>
Would this be a small enough size to stay in a 34-gallon tank, if it was the only coral (aside from a couple of Zoanthid colonies)? And is there a way to I.D. this species just visually, without resorting to slides and/or
<Mmm, not able to discern small specimens to species myself period... See Phil Alderslade's name... on the Net in re to>
Thanks in advance for your help. I hope I haven't peppered you to death with questions. As always, your help is invaluable and much appreciated.
K. Gabriel
<There is a broader concern than size per se with keeping this genus, more generally the family... chemical allelopathy, no matter the mass... Please see WWM re this, techniques for limiting its effects:
and the linked files above>
The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
--Flannery O'Connor
<The "truth" is merely the accepted opinion of the immediate majority; and many people consider themselves the majority, both immediate and general.
The truth does not change at all, only our perception of "it". BobF>

Stocking Question, sm. SW  6/27/09
Hey all,
Great website! After shuffling all the great info on your site, I've "think" I've finally decided on which live stock to feed.
I currently have a 24 gallon Nanocube with around 22lbs of live rock and about 2 inches of live sand.
I have narrowed my selection to 4 choices:
1 False Perc
1 Black and White False Perc
1 Long Fin Cardinal
<What species is this? Banggai?>
1 Black Cap Basslet
<Really needs more room...>
If I had to leave one of the list, it would either get the Long Fin Cardinal followed by the Black and White False Perc. Would the orange and black/white clown get along if I get them both small and introduce together?
<Likely so...>
If so, would you recommend keeping the 4 fish and if so, in what order would you stock them? If you only recommend 3, which combo would you recommend and in what order?
<The Basslet is best left out in such a size, shaped system>
I would also like to keep either 1 or 2 skunk cleaner and 1 fire shrimp and some snail/hermit combo.
<I'd leave out snails, hermits as well...>
Will the black cap Basslet attach the shrimp?
I had a friend and his royal gramma continually attacked/killed his shrimp which was out of character for a royal gramma. I am concerned since the black cap Basslet will have the same characteristics as the royal.
I am new to the marine hobby and any advise would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance! =)
<I'd keep reading for now... perhaps adding the shrimp... Bob Fenner>

Adding a Black Cap Basslet to a 24 Gal Nano Cube 6/25/2009
Hey Guys,
<Hello Jonathan.>
Love the website and help that you provide to fish hobbyist of all experience levels! I have been reading a lot of forum posts and have learned a lot regarding which fish would suit my needs best.
<Thank you for the kind words.>
This is my first marine tank and am very excited. I have a 24 gallon Nano cube with about 23 lbs of live rock and 20 lbs of live sand. I currently have:
A mated pair of False clowns.
1 green Chromis
1 long fin cardinal
1 skunk cleaner shrimp
1 red fire shrimp
12 snail and hermit combo
<Very crowded for a 24 gallon tank, the Chromis is ill suited for a tank this small, as they are open swimmers. 24 gallons is also a bit too small for a pair of clowns.>
All have been getting along great after I took out a royal gramma that seemed to harass the other tenants. Also, I strongly felt that the gramma took out a cleaner shrimp. I was told that the gramma was a docile fish that would not eat ornamental shrimp therefore the gramma was one of the earlier entries into my tank.
<They generally will not, however in cramped quarters, 'all bets are off'.>
I am now planning to add a black cap Basslet and have it has my last addition before possible corals.
<Not a good idea.>
Will the addition of the black cap Basslet disrupt the harmony in my tank?
I know that they are very similar to the royal gramma, and some have said that they CAN be more aggressive.
<They are behaviorally the same as a Royal Gramma.>
I seem to have plenty of room for the black cap Basslet and have plenty of live rock for the Basslet to roam.
<Not in a 24 gallon with that many fish in it already.>
My current fish all swim in the water column and the black cap would look great in the caves. My main concern, will the black cap become aggressive again, since he was the last addition, or will I run into the same problem I had with the royal gramma?
<You will have the same problem.>
I am also running the Oceanic protein skimmer since it is the only one that will fit my tank. I know its not the best skimmer, but it's better than nothing!
So I guess my question is 2 fold: Will the addition of the black cap Basslet overstock my fish and will the addition of the Basslet disrupt the my tank?
<You are already overstocked, and yes a Basslet will disrupt your tank further.>
Any input you have will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
<I would recommend getting rid of the Chromis and not adding anything else..read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm >

Nano Cube Stocking Neon Goby Compatibility\Aggression\Overstocking 6/25/2009
<Hi Susan.>
I'm relatively new to owning a tank and find your site super informative!
I've been doing a ton of reading on your site. Its great! Thank you!
<Glad you find it useful.>
I have a Nanocube (12 gallons). I have several small corals, a (leather?) anemone,
a few crabs & snails, hitchhiker bristle starfish, and a pair of perk clowns and two Neon Goby's.
<12 gallons is too small for a pair of Clownfish, not to mention too small for an anemone.>
I love the Neon Goby's, they are very cute to watch.
<They are a fun fish to own, and under the right circumstances will readily breed in captivity.>
The fish store sold me a "pair" one larger female, the other a small male (so I am told).
<Likely so.>
When I first introduced the Neon's, they got along great. For two weeks there was complete harmony in the tank, both Neon's perched in the open and the perk's were not bothered by the new additions in the least. After 2 weeks, the larger Goby started harassing the smaller one.
<The fish are crowded, unable to establish territories of their own.>
So, at the advise of the fish store, I added more rocks to the tank. While it gave the smaller Goby more hiding spaces, it did not eliminate the chasing.
<Just not enough space in a 12 gallon.>
The small one comes out every day to feed, the larger one chases him during feeding, but he definitely eats daily.
Its been about 6 weeks total, and the chasing has not let up. The smaller one's fins are intact, so he's not being bitten, just chased, and he now hides all day. He is not in immediate danger, obviously, he's been living this way a while and seems adjusted, but I feel bad for him and want to see him out and about again.
<The continued stress will eventually harm him.>
He tries to come out sometimes and gets chased back into the rocks so I know he's not just shy. Is there anything I can do to bring harmony back to the tank.
<Reduce the number of fish you have in your tank. Personally, I would return the clownfish and the anemone, as a tank of this size is inappropriate for either.>
I feel so bad for the little Goby. I want him to be happy in the tank, too. I do not want to tear up the tank to try to get the bigger Goby out (but will if I have to). Is adding another fish (small like a clown goby or wheeler's watchman or other suggestion you may have) a good idea to distract the big Goby from the little one?
I presume adding a third Neon Goby would be a disaster.
<Likely so.>
Is there anything else I can add (type of perching tree / seaweed /etc) to break up the space of the tank?
<You can try rearranging the rock and keeping the lights low for a few days, but with a tank as overcrowded as it is, I doubt it will do much good until you reduce the crowding.>
I am desperate and open to any suggestion you have.
<Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aggr_lossfaqs.htm >
Thank you so much, from me and Little Blu!
<My pleasure.>

Doing It Right - Where to Go... Stkg. sm. SW   6/9/09
<Hi there Randall>
Thanks for the excellent forums. I have read through many of the posts and found them useful. In addition, I was hoping to get some advice as to where would be appropriate to take my current set-up in terms of coral and additional livestock.
I have had a fish/inverts/live rock tank for 10yrs and now moving to coral, and I want to "do it right" and be realistic. Long term goal if feasible would be an anemone / clownfish pair. I would eventually like to get a
larger tank, but want to cut my teeth on my current set up.
<Sounds good>
Current set-up: 15 gal (~12x12x30 wide), 10# aragonite sand 7# liverock, converted Penguin BioWheel as sump with the wet-dry removed and simple charcoal/nitrate screen in place. One non-reciprocating powerhead. Set up 1 year ago. ph 8.4, nitrate always <5ppm SG 1.24 temp ~77, dKH 10-12.
Weekly ~10% water change with home RO water. Up until 1 month ago lighting was low output CF, now have a Current Nova Extreme T5 24w x 2. Run it ~11-12 hrs day.
Livestock: 1 damsel, 1 camelback shrimp, hermit crab, snail.
Thanks so much, I hope the level of detail was appropriate!
<Mmm... am at a loss re what you're looking for here... This volume is too small for adding much of anything else. Please read here:
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>
Re: Doing It Right - Where to Go... Stkg. sm. SW, part. Actinarians    06/09/09

Thanks, and I just read over a bunch of the Nano FAQs.
I guess a specific question would be with 48w of T5, can I eventually add an anemone, and if so what type, and any set-up modifications?
<Please see WWM re Anemone systems in general and by species. Other than "cheapy" Condylactis species, there is none that can be kept safely, with assurance in such a small volume as yours>
And, is adding stony corals a marginal idea or a bad idea?
<Marginal to bad. There are folks who have a modicum of success, mostly short term, in keeping Scleractinians in so-called "mini-reefs"... but they are few>
It seems as though half of the Nano setups in the FAQ have mixed soft and stony.
Thanks again!
<I'd keep reading for now. BobF>

General Questions?  Sm. SW sys... anommies? Not... Other mis-stocking nonsense... reading  06/04/09
Some of these seem like they should be pretty well explained elsewhere but I am having problems finding them (on your site or any other). So I thought I would ask.
A bit of needed background. I have a 14 Gal BioCube that I got in an attempt to try to keep a saltwater aquarium.
<Generally, it's a bad idea to start out in marine aquarium keeping with such a small volume of water.>
One of my goals in this aquarium is a no fish system.
<Unfortunately, there are very few fish you can keep in such a small tank.>
I am also not interested in keeping corals. I do want to keep an anommie in time,
<Hm, no... unless you want to keep Aiptasia or majano anemones. Any/all of the ornamental anemones need much more than 14g.>
but I'm in no rush as I have read here that they are difficult to keep. In short, my immediate goal is to keep a invertebrate tank. Some of them are very interesting, more interesting to me then any fish.
The problems I am having are very basic, and I can find the information if I had a fish system. But because few people seem to keep an invertebrate system I am having difficulties with a few key factors.
Feeding. I have been over feeding the tank lately (high nitrates and phosphates when the source water has none of either). Obviously I need to feed less. Any tips on how to measure food for such small creatures.
<This can be tough... if it were me, I'd feed very little. See if you can find some sinking pellets, and feed only a few daily.>
I am using frozen brine shrimp (not babies) for the larger things like the arrow crab, most everything else is algae grazing (I think, I will give a full list later on), or eats off the bottom. I know I need to feed less,
but when you break off the smallest bit of frozen shrimp you can and then mix it with tank water, the only thing you can do is break off a smaller piece, but there's no way to tell if it's actually smaller or contains less
brine shrimp. I have also started trying to feed silver sides, but the frozen ones I picked up, while small from my perspective, are way to big.
<Yes, they are.>
I have tried cutting/mashing them up and that seems to work as I can just remove any big pieces from the tank after the scavengers have had their fill. Any tips on how to feed less when everything in the tank is a
scavenger of some sort.
<Yes, Spectrum foods makes a marine pellet food that sinks.>
Stocking: I have been going pretty slow for the most part. Add a specimen wait to see how the load reacts, add another. But with everything being so small, very few things that I have added have had any noticeable effect on the tank's cycle. Still I add one (or if it's very small 2) of something, then wait and see how things react. I am nearing my ideal stocking (having everything I want), but with ammonia and nitrite reading 0 or only traces (between then 0 and the second color on the chart), how can I tell if I am over stocking or not? Everything seems to have plenty of physical room, and the specimens do not bother one another.
With fish there's rules of thumb and what not to use as guidelines, but no one can tell me how many inverts are safe, and in those rules of thumb, they never count the inverts.
Phosphates: As I said, I am overfeeding. I am trying to get this under control but having issues. This has caused a spike of phosphates. Can you recommend a good product/method for removing phosphates. I have read about mangroves on your site, and that seems like a decent natural way to reduce nitrate and phosphates.
<Oh dear... where did you read this? This needs to be edited or removed... they are NOT a good way to remove nutrients (especially not in such a small tank). They do remove some nutrients, but they do so very slowly and not to any degree that would be noticeably helpful in an aquarium.>
Do I have this correct?
As promised here is a list of stock for reference above. I have included what I feed them (or try to feed them)
3 Olive Snails - I spot feed them some left over brine shrimp or silver side mush. It's my understanding they eat broken down food when there under the sand as well.
5 (very small) hermit crabs - I do not feed these, they seem perfectly happy eating what grows on the rocks.
2 Astraea Snails (I think) - no direct feeding, they love algae.
1 small sea cucumber (Holothuria forskali) - no direct feeding, he is pooping a lot so I assume he is getting plenty to eat.
1 purple sea urchin - He eats a lot of algae and can devour a pretty good size chunk of silver side. Won't eat brine shrimp though.
1 feather duster - no direct feeding because of size.
1 Fire clam - DT's phyto-plankton (I know he will only last 18 months at best due to their natural life span but I wanted to try, so I got the smallest one and I spot feed it. The leftovers should be enough to feed the
feather duster.)
1 arrow crab - eats silver side and brine shrimp. As much as he can get his claws on.
1 tear drop star fish (I can't find it's proper name anywhere) Loves the brine shrimp, will eat the silver side mush, will take but eventually reject a larger silver side piece.
<I do think you're at your stocking limit for inverts here...>
Robert Cotey
<De nada,
Sara M.>

Unknown pest eating my corals... too small volume, too much incompatible livestock-- 05/09/09
Good Morning Crew!
For the past month I've slowly been losing a few of my corals to an unseen horrible pest eating away at them in my tank. I'll list my water parameters
first because I know that's what most people blame on loss of corals...
Tank: 12gal
<Small volumes are very hard to stock, keep stable...>
Nitrite: undetectable
Nitrate: <5ppm
Spec. Gravity: 1.025
Temp: 77-79
pH: 8.1
Ammonia: undetectable
Tank inhabitants:
- Clark Clown
- Green Bubble Anemone
<Not easily kept in tiny tanks>
- Skunk Cleaner
- Tiger Pistol Shrimp
- Red Banded Shrimp Goby
- Derasa Clam, 3" (EATEN--please read on)
<Almost impossible to keep Tridacnids in....>
- 2 Hermits (I am pretty positive they're Scarlet hermits)
<All predaceous to an extent>
- 3 Nassarius Snails
<Plus a few more you list below...>
Here is my story. Last month I noticed my small colony of Pulsing Xenia had some of the polyps missing...it looked like something had bit them off. I had no idea what could've done that,
<Easily the Clown, perhaps one of the shrimp>
so I figured it was a fluke and maybe they were just closed. I did a small water change in hopes that maybe that was the problem. Nope-- next morning, most polyps have been demolished and what's left isn't looking so hot.
The next situation is with my Derasa Clam 2 weeks after this incident. I had placed him securely on the rockwork just above the sandbed and it had been doing fantastic for the past 4 months that I had him. I wake up one morning to find it on it's side on the sandbed, so I pick it up to place it back onto the rockwork...to my horror, half of it's flesh had been eaten.
I spoke with my LFS and told them all the livestock I had in the tank, and they suggested it was perhaps a Nassarius Snail that was being opportunistic when the clam fell onto the sandbed. I felt disgusted.
<Could be>
A week later, I find that my Toadstool Leather
<You really need a much larger system... these Alcyoniids are too chemically allelopathogenic to be kept in little aquariums>
that is almost always open was looking very limp and was secreting some stringy mucus.
<Oh yes... smell the water>
I look closer and notice that the base had been chewed into...like how a cartoon beaver chews in the middle of a tree trunk. Either something had been taking big bites, or it'd been pinching/cutting parts out of it. Another loss. I would use a small flashlight when lights were off to try and see if I could find the culprit. No luck.
<It really is "you">
Now, just yesterday after a little over a week of no losses, I find that one head from my Torch Coral
<You're joking, come on>
isn't open like the other heads. On closer inspection, I see that half of the head has been ripped out and the skeleton is visible. It seemed like this one can be salvaged, so I am keeping it in a 5gal quarantine tank so nothing will bother and further destroy it.
Please, if anyone has any advice or insight as to what horrifying creature could be the serial killer behind all my coral + clam loss, I would greatly appreciate it. I suspected that perhaps it was my Tiger Pistol Shrimp since he's got a 1/2" claw now and that may just be what's chopping away at everything, but I do target feed him and his goby-- I don't see why it would want to eat my coral as well, especially since they're supposedly reef safe.
Thank you so much for your time, I really look forward to hearing a response from you. I think for the time being, I will have to place all of my coral in the QT tank so nothing can eat them.
<Please read re the needs of all the life you list here... Again, you really need a much larger system. What you list can't live for any time for well in such a small volume. Bob Fenner>

Re-stocking, reef  5/5/09
Hello Crew,
My name is Ron. I would like to thank your crew in advance, for all of the advice you have and will give me.
I have a 110 gallon reef system. All was well, for almost a year in this system. (Thanks to your crew advice in setting it up) Then I had a flood in the area where my the tank is located. I hired a company to dry out the area. The cleaning crew was over zealous, using too many dehumidifiers.
This caused a extreme temperature rise to the area and my system. All of my fish, invertebrates and most of my corals perished.
Correction, my yellow watchman goby did survive. I have managed to get my water back to within acceptable levels. Now I have to restock my system and need your advice.
Here is a list of my system equipment.
110 gallon glass tank ( 48Lx18Wx30H ) not drilled
48" Outer Orbit 2x150 watt, 10K HQI-MH w/ 4x45 watt T5HO & 18 Lunar Lights
Rena Filstar XP3 canister filter
AquaC Remora Pro Hang-On Skimmer with Mag 3 pump
2 Hydor Koralia pumps 1- #3 and 1- #4
2 Visi-Therm Deluxe heaters
Glass Covers on Top ( To keep the jumpers in )
Here is my wish list of livestock, I would like to have. In what order should I add them to minimize aggression. I would love to have a Butterflyfish and a clam? I would be thankful for your input.
1 Purple Tang
1 Flame Angle
1 Onespot Foxface Rabbitfish
2 True Percula Clownfish - Tank Raised
1 Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse
1 Dot-and-Dash Flasher Wrasse
1 McCosker's Flasher Wrasse
1 Blue Flasher Wrasse
1 Yellowfin Flasher Wrasse
<I would limit the Cirrhilabrus selection to one species... a male and perhaps two females of the same>
1 Yellow Watchman Goby- my only survivor of the heat wave
<And get a partner for this>
1 Pinkbar Goby
1 Tiger Pistol Shrimp
1 Fire Shrimp
1 Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp
2 Serpent Starfish
25 Nassarius Snails
25 Cerith Snails
<Just ten of each is what I'd do>
A assortment of mushrooms, Zoanthids, and polyps
Pulsing Xenia
Colt Coral
Lobophyllia Brain Coral-Red Stripe
<See here re stocking Cnidarians...:
and the linked files above. A very good idea to be systematic re their acquisition, placement... though water-mixing during quarantine/acclimation. Bob Fenner>

Percula in 10g -- 05/03/09
Hi! I'm Clare. I have three questions.
<Hello Clare.>
I have seen you recommend that clownfish not be kept in anything under 20g, due to the potential instability in water quality.
<And the rest. Clownfish are territorial and fairly boisterous fish, and they like a decent amount of swimming space.>
However, I have maintained a 10g FW tank with no problems with water quality (other than the nasty stuff coming out of my tap, which just means a bit of extra treatment before it goes into the aquarium). If I can do this, would I be able to handle a true Percula in a 10g? I don't want to crash my first SW setup!
<Clare, to be honest, if this is your first marine aquarium, it's important to make things as easy as possible, not more difficult. While maintaining a freshwater tank gives you many of the basic skills, there are other issues such as salinity, alkalinity, RedOx potential, lighting and so on. I really cannot stress how difficult it is to maintain even a 10 gallon freshwater tank to a decent standard, let along a marine aquarium!>
Also, what kind of stock could I keep with my clownfish in a 10g?
<Not much.>
I know I'll need a cleanup crew of some sort, and I really like dwarf zebra shrimp. How many of these, and how many and what kind of shrimp and snails, would I need? After that, what else? I love fairy wrasses, but they're so expensive!
<And also 10-gallons isn't enough space; Wrasse tend to be "restless" fish that need more space than you'd expect.>
Any ideas for something cheaper?
<If you're starting out, there's much to be said by starting with simple, reliable choices: live rock, mushroom polyps, cleaner shrimps, turbo snails. Get the hang of these first. Spend the next 6-12 months reading;
both here and traditional books, a selection of the best of which are listed here:
Bob's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists" is probably an essential book for someone like you, looking to make the jump into marine fishkeeping. It's an easy read, but with lots of step-by-step information on building tanks, install equipment, choosing species.>
Finally, how much LR would I need?
<The usual recommendation is 1-2 pounds of rock per gallon.>
Thanks so much!
<Suggest more reading before doing anything else! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Percula in 10g -- 05/03/09

Hey, Neale. I've seen you on TPF, where I go by LilGreenPuffer, and I've read a couple of your articles.
<Hello Clare!>
Someone told me that 10g would be fine (an admin at theclownfishforum.com, actually), but I wasn't sure (too good to be true), so I wanted to check.
Thanks. I actually have found my 10g FW to be quite easy, after the initial setup, but when I read posts about SW and reef stuff, I'm lost, so I'm still seeking a site that explains what's going on in plain old
stupid-person English.
<I'm sure people have kept Clownfish in 10 gallon tanks; and in fact I've helped someone set up a tank like that that worked reasonably well. But for a beginner, there's a huge advantage to a bigger tank, and in my opinion, Clownfish work much better in at-least 15 gallon set-ups. I don't really subscribe to the "minimum tank size" school of fishkeeping; just because it can work, some of the time, doesn't make it worth doing. And, above all else, the amount of space needed for a 20 gallon tank is little more than for a 10 gallon tank, and the price differential is trivial by the time you've factored in heating, filtration and lighting. I can't see any
advantage to a 10 gallon tank, to be honest.>
Yep, reading is definitely in future plans - I was planning to spend the summer prepping and get things actually going in the fall. So, would a 20g be okay?
I do have to keep my space limits in mind, since I'm in college, and I also have to move twice a year (only a 5-minute drive, though), and I don't want to move anything too big. If I absolutely have to, I can wait 'till I have a house of my own.
<Do review your college regulations carefully; a 20 gallon tank might be over the allowance. I kept fish while at college, but I did so by setting up a nice big tank in a lab rather than my dorm room. Eventually I was entrusted with two 200 gallon systems in the zoology building foyer, and much of my marine and brackish water experience came from those. Moving fish tanks is a real chore, and with marines, there are numerous complications. There's a temptation to spend money when you're at college on pets that, long term, you can't really afford. So with that in mind, do consider the alternatives, things like Triops and carnivorous plants, which offer fun, but with much less effort and expense. You're also more free to abandon these sorts of "pets" while on field trips, summer vacations, etc.
So what I'm generally saying is think carefully! Cheers, Neale.>

Question about stocking a small tank, Stocking Nano 4/24/09
Dear Bob & WWM Crew,
< Adam Jenkins here. >
I'm in the process of getting a 28gal Nano Cube tank set up. I have 25lbs of LR and 1inch of sand, and have been researching which fish would be best for my little tank!
< Sounds good so far. >
I've been thinking of getting 2 Firefin Gobies, 1 Six Line Wrasse, 1 Turbo Snail and a Skunk Cleaner or Peppermint Shrimp.  Would a few Blue Chromis be a better addition than the Gobies I want to avoid overstocking the tank, but I also want a little excitement!
< All great choices on an individual level. Actually I think the Chromis would be better additions than the wrasse. The Sixline are wonderful fish but can be aggressive towards more mild-mannered tankmates such as the Firefins. I would go 3 Chromis OR two Gobies, one Chromis (The latter choice being the best option ).Either shrimp should be fine although I am
personally partial to the skunk cleaners. I would stay away from the Turbos and go with Cerith and/or Nassarius. >
Thank you for your expertise!
< You are very welcome. >

28 Gal Stocking Anxiety 4/20/2009
Hi WWM Crew,
<Hi TJ>
Long time reader of the site, first time actually asking a question.
I have a 28g reef aquarium that has been running for a little over 4 months. Specs are:
40-45lbs of liverock
15lbs sand
Fluval Canister Filter (for now at least)
Bak Pak Reef Skimmer
2x Koralia 1 powerheads
150W MH and 2x 65W actinic blue compact fluorescent
All measurements are normal (1.023sg, 8.2ph, 78.5F, 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite,
<5 Nitrate, 480 Calcium)
<Sounds good so far.>
Tank is stocked with:
2x Black Osc Clowns
1x Coral Beauty
1x Flasher Wrasse
1x Circus Goby
Trumpet Coral, Frogspawn, Open Brain, Star Polyps, Acro, Maxima Clam
<Clam is going to get large.>
Now getting to my question... I am worried that I have too many fish for my tank.
<I agree>
I had originally planned to have the clowns, the beauty (seems that information on the site is a bit contradictory on the keeping of pygmy angels in a Nano environment), and possibly the wrasse.
<It really depends on now "Nano" the system is, what type pf pygmy angel, and what else is in there with it.>
All the chemistry numbers have been stable thus far, but... what are your thoughts are on the long term viability of this set-up?
<In my opinion, both the Coral Beauty and the Flasher Wrasse are inappropriate for this sized system. The Coral Beauty will get too large and territorial, and the Flasher will just be too territorial..Given the
other inhabitants of your tank, to include your inverts, there just will not be enough "elbow room". >
Thanks much,
<My pleasure>

Very Coarse Substrate
<Stocking Level/Systems> 4/15/09

Hell again!
<Really, having a bad day?>
I just set up my 29 gallon BioCube and have a dwarf Hawkfish.
<Mmm, I'm guessing a Falco Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco).>
I plan on adding a Valentini puffer and a yellow fuzzy dwarf lionfish. Right now I have 20 pounds of coarse substrate..broken shells and what not. After searching and reading for hours I've come to the conclusion that this substrate is horribly wrong considering the messy eaters I will be housing in my tank.
<Yes, and so is your tank size horribly wrong for these type of fish.>
I plan on putting 3 inch sand bed in place of the crushed shells. Couple questions concerning this.
Is it nesesary <necessary> taking out the crushed shells or can i <I> add the sand on top of the crushed shells? I personally don't think it would be a problem just adding the sand on top of the shells. Just looking for some more avice <advice>.
<Is best to go with the same particle size, you likely will have compacting issues. See here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm>
Also with the deep sand bed, what would you suggest i <I> use to shift the sand?
<Shift or sift?>
I was thinking a cucumber of some sort but not sure? Some say snails but I know that my puffer would eat em all up.
<Shouldn't, because the puffer should not be in that size tank, and is better to keep puffers in dedicated tanks.>
What other options do I have for substrate shifting creatures?
<None, with a puffer, but do look here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: System Stocking: Mixing inappropriate species in a very small volume of water, Reading 4/11/2009
Hi Rich here,
<Hi Rich, it's Mike.>
I have been researching hard and appreciate what advice you have given, what I was told was a carpet anemone is in fact a giant elephant ear mushroom anemone and it was the king of the tank until recently.
<With a 58 liter tank, I'm not surprised. These get to 20 cm in diameter.><<Much more. RMF>>
It ate my regal tang a few weeks ago and continued to be large as life but the last week or so it has gone rather limp and withdrawn.
<Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? pH, Lighting?>
My calcium and magnesium was low but I have buffed them up but he still doesn't look too happy.
<Anemones don't actually need that much calcium and magnesium, those are more important to stony, reef building corals. proper food and optimized water quality are necessary here.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm >
<<Mmm, actually Mike... this is a Corallimorph. But have similar needs. http://wetwebmedia.com/corallim.htm
I am wondering if i can target feed him anything as I read he needs large meals of Artemia ( not sure what this is ?).
<Brine shrimp - Nutritionally useless. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anemonefdgfaqs.htm >
Although you advised me to empty most of my tank I have not been able to do so and again although I do respect your professional opinion I have had mixed advice and seeing as everything else in the tank seems OK
<It isn't OK, the anemone is dying.>
I am going to persist. I am feeding my Harlequin shrimp sea stars and they are very happy, they have their own little domain yet quite active as a pair, have both shed once and i believe mated and laid a sack of eggs.
<Sounds good, though if you add up what you are paying to feed these, you will find dollar for dollar, (Pound for pound) they are eating better than you are.>
My clown fish and domino are feeding well and getting on ( I do understand this may change as they get older).
<No, it will change. You have a domino, a clownfish, a carnivorous anemone, and a lobster in a 58 liter tank. This is akin to me shoving three people and a large, not so well adjusted dog in a bathroom and sliding food under the door. Everything will be fine.... for a little while...>
I am target feeding my lobster at night so he seems fine ( is it true I could feed him regular cooked prawns we might eat ?)
<Raw would be better.>
My other corals are flourishing and my snails and hermit are obviously OK I am trying to learn as much as I can but if you could help with these topics I would be very grateful.
<Do read where you were directed earlier. Again, I STRONGLY urge you to return most of your livestock. You are heading for a disaster.>

Marine stocking question
30 gallon Tank mate? 4/4/09

Hi Crew,
<Hi Tom, Adam Jenkins here>
I am getting ready to add fish to a 30 gallon tank that now has live rock and two Peppermint Shrimp (though I could remove one or both of these to my 75 gallon tank, if this was better for the 30 gallon).<Two should be fine as long as there is plenty of food to go around>
In my 15 gallon quarantine tank now, I have a Firefish (~2.5 inches)<Firefish are known jumpers. Please be sure incorporate some type of cover into your tanks top> and a Chalk Bass (~1.5 inches). I'm thinking about adding one more fish. One of my concerns is having at least one fish that inhabits the water column most of the daylight hours.
My past experience suggests that the Firefish will hide much of the time, and only come out briefly around feeding times.<This is typical behavior for the Firefish. They tend to keep close to their "home". Jetting out for the occasional tasty bite> Is this true, or can I expect this Firefish to be out and about during daylight hours? Firefish hiding may depend on who it has as tank mates. Right now, in the quarantine tank, the Firefish seems to be out most of the time, as does the Chalk Bass.
I have never had a Chalk Bass before. Is this fish likely to be out and about during daylight hours, or to lurk in a hiding place, making occasional forays out in search of food?
<The Chalk Bass will spend most of the day moving about the rock work. Very hardy and generally considered reef safe. However, they have been known to snack on small decorative shrimp, and can be aggressive when protecting their territory>
If neither of these fish is likely to spend most of the day in the water column, would a Green Chromis be a good third fish? Would it do OK as a single fish?<The Green Chromis would make a lovely tank mate. The tend to stay up in the water column and have even been known to lure their shy tank mates out. Tons of personality and very curious, they do best in odd numbers. Although most commonly kept in small schools, in my personal experience, one should be fine.>Do you have any other choices that I have not thought of that would be compatible?
<Personally, I would stick with something in the Chromis genus. Peaceful and easy to keep>
 Please don't suggest a Clownfish, though, as I don't
want one of them.
Thanks for your thoughts, Tom
<Hope this helps> 

System Stocking: Mixing inappropriate species in small volume of water, Reading 3/30/2009
Hi my name is Rich and I am in need of quick reliable information to help me maintain my aquarium.
<Hi Rich, you've come to the right place, there are thousands of documents here for you to read.>
I'm gonna be honest and say I got in to this with absolutely NO knowledge (and still an amateur to say the least !) so please be painfully simple with your information.
<Fair enough, but do realize that with a marine tank does come the responsibility to educate yourself in the care of the animals you keep.>
I'll start with a run down of my experiences thus far. (excuse me if I'm painfully simple with you)
<No problem at all.>
I set up a 58L Orca marine tank about two and a half months ago, I filled it with a bag of live sand and Nutri-Seawater - left for 2 a week or so - then introduced 1 large, 2 medium and 1 small piece of live rock - left for 2 weeks to mature some - I then had a water test done at my aquatic centre which showed the pH, calcium, KH and magnesium was low, I treated with
Aquavitro solutions and Nutrifin cycle and my tank was good to go.
<Hmm....Nutrient Cycling?>
I introduced some Anemone's - a red starfish and a purple reef lobster,
<Completely inappropriate for a tank of this size, particularly a new tank.>
I fed the lobster a little frozen brine shrimp two days in a row and two days later both were dead. The mushroom anemone started to deteriorate and a flowery worm which was attached to the same rock spat it's self out, I removed these from the tank and returned to my aquatic centre to do another water test.
<Which revealed lots of toxic substances in the water I'm sure...>
This revealed Ammonia, Nitrate and nitrite levels were high.
<...and there it is...>
After having been explained that decaying food caused this I followed their course of treatment and I was good to go again.
<WHAT? No, decaying food was NOT the cause, unless you were dumping the food in by the handfuls.>
I then introduced a Sand sifting starfish, 2 burrowing snails, a Clown fish, a Regal Tang and a new anemone.
<Oh no....>
- this went well until my Regal Tang went missing ! A couple of days later the mystery was solved when my large ( think it is called a carpet cactus) anemone spat out the remains.
<Carpet anemone..... Grows to over 30cm in diameter, again, completely inappropriate for this tank. Needs several hundreds of liters, and specialized lighting to survive. Oh yes, they are excellent at eating your prized fish as well.>
This was a shock to me as I never new this was possible but it was an act of nature so not too upsetting. I left my tank for about 3 weeks and have enjoyed maintaining my marine life.
<No, this is NOT an act of nature. You, through your inexperience, and your local fish store through their desire to sell you totally inappropriate species.>
Yesterday I done another water test and it was in a good state to make more introductions to my tank.
<Oh no....>
Taking in to account I had an aggressively hungry anemone I bought a Domino Damsel, a blue striped Hermit crab, a necklace sea star and a pair of Harlequin Shrimps.
<Thus introducing the one thing guaranteed to devour your starfish, then starve to death, not to mention more potential food for the anemone.>
Today I have learned that these beautiful little creatures eat star fish, hence I am now a sand sifting starfish down, again not too upset as nature IS in charge.
<Stop right there.... No, Nature is not in charge here, YOU are in charge here. YOU choose what is put in this tank, and YOU have the responsibility to learn what is and is not appropriate.>
My necklace sea star is now on the run !
<With two Harlequin shrimp, I'm amazed it is still alive.>
I do have a few specific questions for you but any general info or ideas you have picked up from my run down would be great.
Should I introduce Asterina stars or will they take over ?
<Do not add anything else, you need to remove many of the things you already have in there, as they will not survive.>
Will my necklace sea star survive by just moving around the glass ?
Are any other fish immune to anemones ?
<A few species of Clownfish, but again, the anemone will not survive in this tank in the long term.>
Will my shrimps feed on anything else ?
<No, Harlequin shrimp only eat the tube feet of starfish.>
My reef lobster has hidden behind the rocks just like the last one did will he starve as the 2 fish are quick to eat up at feeding time ?
<No, eventually it will get hungry enough and attack\kill\eat the fish you have in there, until the anemone kills it.>
Could you tell me any specific food my other friends need to survive ?
<Before we worry about proper diet, you need to get the inappropriate species out.>
I'm sure I could go on with random questions but I will wait for your input first.
<My input is this, and I apologize if I sound a bit harsh. You need to stop adding things to this tank, and you need to take the majority of it back to the store. a 58 liter tank is best suited to some small peaceful fish and\or some smaller corals.>
Would it help if i sent you photo's of my set up ?
<Not at this point, no.>
I'm sure you are busy answering lots of people but if you could get back to me asap I would be so pleased. I have asked a lot of questions at my aquatic centre but i think they are a little naughty with sharing too much information as they are a business and want you to keep coming back buying more, please educate me !
<I suspect they do specialize in selling anything to anyone without asking.. It is time to educate yourself Richard, before anything else gets killed needlessly.>
<Please get yourself to a book store and pick up "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" By Robert Fenner (Who also runs this site.) Also do please start reading here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarInd3of6.htm  and follow the links,
particularly the ones on stocking,>
Look forward to learning from you, Richard Woods.
<Cheers, Mike.>
Re: System Stocking: Mixing inappropriate species in small volume of water, Reading 3/30/2009

<Hi Rich,>
Thank you for your honesty and I understand it is up to me to educate myself, I guess I've got a bit carried away.
<You are not the first and you definitely will not be the last. I must confess that your last email did poke one of my sensitive spots with a rather sharp stick. Where I live, there are several shops that sell marine livestock. All too often I see them more interested in making a sale rather than building long term successful customers. The end result is much like what you have: An inexperienced customer stocking inappropriate species. After spending a large amount of money and watching livestock die needlessly, they get out of this hobby.>
I've just found out my hungry anemone is in fact a giant mushroom not a carpet.
<Hmm.... may be semantics here. UK/US, two countries, separated by a common language....:-) A picture would be helpful, as I suspect, based upon this mushroom eating a fish, that you do have a carpet anemone.>
I am going to try and set up a second tank much bigger to run along side this one so i can separate what shouldn't be together and would love some advice on where to start.
<To start with, for 58 liters, you can have the hermit crabs, the snails, and you can keep the Clownfish for the short term. Everything else needs to come out of the tank and should be returned.  Domino Damsel: Grows to 15cm in length, has a VERY nasty disposition as it gets older.>
Harlequin Shrimp: Dismal survival record in captivity, unless you buy rather expensive starfish for them to munch on regularly.  Lobster: Not easy to take care of, can\will eat small fish if given the opportunity.  Starfish: Generally do not do very well in captivity, needs lots of space to forage for food.  Tang: Herbivorous fish, needs lots of space. 200 liters is generally not enough - 400 liters.  Anemone\Mushroom. Needs lots of space, specialized lighting, and expert
care I've had a good old moan at my fish shop by the way although i know it is predominantly my fault. So if I was to buy a 4ft tank of around 200L what else would I need to get set up to move some of my inappropriate creatures to safety ?
<If you are interested in anemones, 200L is a good start for a Bubble-Tipped Anemone and a clownfish, with a few other small peaceful fish, some hermit crabs and some snails.>
<Do read the articles on the page I gave you the address for earlier.
Most, if not all of your questions are answered there. Further, you can find some good set up articles on this page:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm >
thanks for your quick response, great service !
<Thank you Rich, all the best.>

Eel system: Stocking 3/26/2009
Hello WWM crew!
<Hi Frank>
Hope you all are doing well.
<Fine, thanks.>
I am looking for some suggestions for other fish I could put in my tank with my snowflake moray. Right now I have a 30 gallon tank with live sand and live rock. The snowflake is a baby and right now he is only about 6 or 7 inches long and as big around as a number two pencil. I am going to upgrade to a much larger tank probably at the first of the year if I continue to have some success with everything. Anyways I only wanted to add two or three small fish until I get the bigger tank. So far I had thought about the following (please give feedback for each because I trust your opinion over any LFS) :
A small 2-3 inch Coral Beauty angel <No>
A royal dotty back <Rather aggressive for this small of a volume.>
either a Diamond Goby or an Engineer Goby <Diamond Goby>
and possibly a Six Line Wrasse or
A multicolor Lubbock's Wrasse <Neither.>
What do you think of these and could you recommend any others that would be OK or to avoid. Thanks again for all the info you put out there for folks like me!!!
<Possibly a Royal Gramma or other smaller peaceful fish.>
Take care,

Small Fishes for a 30g'¦and a Snail ID -- 03/15/09
Hey Eric, hope all is well.
<<Hello Erik'¦doing fine thanks>>
Well the angelfish is leaving today; I can't wait to watch him or her swim a couple of laps in that new tank!
<<Excellent news'¦ While Centropyge species are generally considered a 'small' fish, they do much better with/require more room than a 30g display provides'¦is comparable to the smaller Tang species (e.g. 60g+)>>
I have decided with your input of course on adding that other pair of scarlet cleaners.
But now here is the big fish question for you! I am thinking about adding Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) to my tank. But as I have been reading around your site it seems many other aquarists have issues keeping them alive?
<<Indeed'¦ I think there is a key aspect of this little fish's husbandry that we hobbyists have not quite figured out yet. Most all in my experience/observations have simply just disappeared within a year or less (often much less). And while considered a 'social' species that suffers when kept alone'¦keeping more than one in a captive system of most any size has also proven problematic>>
So here goes!! Would it be alright if I added Firefish to my aquarium?
<<I think there are better options'¦ Perhaps one of the smaller Cardinalfish species'¦ Maybe a trio of Apogon cyanosoma or Sphaeramia nematoptera'¦or even better in my opinion for your 30g display, a small group (5) of Apogon leptacanthus>>
From what I've read it seems three are pretty much required but I don't know how they would fair in my quarters.
<<There are some who would say this is fine'¦I am not among them. I feel certain you would only have one after a while'¦and then not even that>>
And if it is ok, would they leave my scarlet cleaners alone or, would I have to worry about losing a sizable investment?
<<Neither the Firefish or the Cardinal species I have mentioned are a threat to adult cleaner shrimp>>
I haven't read anything that says I should be worried about that but... I would much rather be safe than sorry. Especially as I have grown attached to my little cleaners!
<<Not a problem>>
Oh, I also finally took a picture of those little snails that are "thriving" in my tank! So if you would kindly take a look see I would really appreciate it! If you need a closer shot or anything else don't hesitate to ask!
<<These appear very much to me to be a Pyramidellid species (look up the genus and see what you think). If you have no clams, and they aren't attacking any corals, they will likely wane on their own>>
Looking forward to your advice,
<<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Small Fishes for a 30g'¦and a Snail ID -- 03/16/09
Thanks for the info about those snails!
<<Quite welcome, Erik>>
I think they are leaving my sponges alone and don't seem to be bothering anyone...yet.
<<If not bothering anything in the tank now, they are not likely too>>
But after I read up on them I've decided that I would rather get rid of them now before I upgrade. I can only imagine the hassle it would be to try it in a 300 gallon tank. Especially since I plan on placing the same rock from my current tank into the new one.
<<If my ID is correct, yes, you do not want to introduce Pyramidellid snails to your new display>>
So With your approval I was wondering if adding 1 six line wrasse to the equation would be a good idea?
<<I find this wrasse species to be more trouble than it's worth in most cases, due to its nasty disposition towards similarly sized and/or shaped fishes. But in this instance, it may be worthwhile to introduce one to the 30g tank'¦let it take care of the Pyramidellids (hopefully)'¦and then return it to the LFS before stocking any other fishes>>
I know that they can eat small inverts but I don't plan on adding it right away.... not until I get those other 2 shrimps and when they are a big enough size, so that way they won't seem so...tempting.
<< Pseudocheilinus hexataenia isn't likely to be a problem re your cleaner shrimp, unless VERY small'¦but I have seen them attach and harass other small fishes to death on too many occasions>>
And from what I've read the Sixline is reef safe and would hopefully be a wonderful little addition to my aquarium.
<<This seems to be the conventional wisdom'¦ I am inclined to disagree'¦ But as with everything else we discuss'¦do research other sources and use your own good judgment to make a decision>>
By the way the Sixline would stay the only resident in the tank (fish wise).
<<Ah'¦okay'¦different scenario. As the ONLY piscine resident of the 30g, yes, I do agree it would make a 'wonderful little addition' as you say>>
Now if you don't think it's a great idea, I'll go for those cardinals!
<<Up to you (one or the other)'¦but the Cardinals will be of no help re the snail eradication>>
More specifically the pajamas they just seem safer as far as aggression and invert safe. And'¦they are pretty cute lil buggers!
<<A great little fish (I have a dozen in my own reef display)>>
Oh! I almost forgot, my scarlet shrimp (the not preggo one) is acting a little withdrawn. He seems to not be so into eating as much as the pregnant one, they both were voracious eaters until today now she seems to be eating enough for the both of them. So do you think that maybe he is preparing to molt?
<<A possibility>>
Or should I be concerned?
<<Don't know'¦and even if so'¦what would you do?>>
Water parameters are all stable and pristine.
<<Then likely nothing to worry about/nothing you can do>>
A penny for your thoughts'¦eh make it a dollar lol. Thanks in advance!
<<Is a pleasure to share... Eric Russell>>

R2: Small Fishes for a 30g'¦and a Snail ID -- 03/17/09
Once again thanks for the prompt response.
<<Always welcome>>
I must say you all do an amazing job here and your advice is greatly appreciated not only by your readers but also the little guys in the tanks!
<<Thank you'¦this is indeed our intent>>
I am sure the wrasse will be a great pest controller and beautiful addition!
<<Very nice/attractive little fish (love the green tails)'¦just so dang mean!>>
BTW the shrimp did molt he's back to normal!
<<Ah, excellent>>
Thanks again for all of your help!
<<Any time my friend>>
Best wishes!

Stocking Level, small SW  2/24/09 Hi Crew, I recently upgraded from a 10 gallon to a 24 gallon Aquapod with new rock and sand. I have a Clown Goby, a Firefish and Candycanes moved from the old tank. I added 3 Peppermint Shrimp, pods and snails. Can I add either a Blue Chromis (Chromis cyanea) or a pygmy angel (Centropyge argi) to this size tank. Or would a shrimp goby (Cryptocentrus of some sort) be a better fit. <A better fit would be another Firefish rather than a Chromis, will give more color to the tank and Firefish seem to do better when more than one are present. Your tank is too small for a pygmy angel. If you had Googled our site, you would have known this. Sam, please Google before sending. We just do not have the time to hand feed information that is easily found on WWM.> So far I have had to clean the glass only once in the past 4 weeks. I guess the nutrients have not built up yet to be a problem. <Sounds good.> I also added an HOB skimmer which I am trying to adjust. Even though it is not working great what little is coming out is better than being in the tank. <Yes, a good move here in adding the skimmer.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Sam 

29g saltwater tank stocking question 2/23/09 To whom it may concern: <Hi> After reading your website about keeping fishes feature in the movie Finding Nemo. I started a saltwater tank. It has been running for 6 month now and everything seem to be working fine. I have a Remora skimmer, 20 pounds of live rock, an air pump, a compact florescence light with 6000k and 10000k tubes and a power head for water flow. I have a small crown fish and a quadcolor anemone. <Do realize that anemones are difficult to keep, and not necessarily for beginner hobbyist.> I have recently added a refugium and am ready to add more fish into the tank. The clown fish is about 1.5 inch long, I believe it is a mix breed clown fish. It is a false ocellious clown, <Ocellaris> it's orange color with white strip, but as it get bigger, it turns half black on it's back. <Fairly normal coloration.> I originally purchased two, and the other one got pick on so much that it eventually die. I wanted to add more clown fish in the tank, but I am worry that it might get bully and suffer the same fate. <Possible, but they normally pair up fairly easily.> I was wondering if there is anyway I can ensure it does not happen again. <Not really, just make sure you have good water conditions and hope for the best. But Amphiprion ocellaris generally are not too picky about their mates.> What if I over stock my tank, and keep up with the water quality, will it make my clown fish less aggressive? <Probably have the exact opposite effect.> All I wanted in my tank is clown fishes and anemone, I don't want anything else. <Ok, but only 1 pair in this sized tank.> Please advice. And thank you for your help. <Welcome> <Chris>

2/20/2009 Jawfish sys, stkg pearly Jawfish compatibility Hello Crew! <Hi Danny> Let me apologize upfront, my e-mail system tends to put random question marks through my letters. <I see this.> I've recently acquired a JBJ 24 gallon Nano. It is currently cycling with 35 pounds of live rock and over 40 pounds of Fiji pink live sand, so I will not be getting any fish for at least a month. <Very good!> I have in mind that the star of my new little tank is going to be a pearly Jawfish. I've been reading through forums and the FAQ's here of course, to find suitable tank mates. However, I read conflicting information on whether a pearly would peacefully reside with a black cap Basslet, Firefish (red or purple), or royal gramma.? Just to clarify, I am considering just one of those fish with the pearly. Some posts say their niches are too close, others say those fish will reside closer to the rock work and will not bother with the Jawfish. I want to make sure the pearly Jawfish is happy and will not have any conflict with other fish or be out competed. So, are any of those fish compatible? Any recommendations would be great...as you can see, I am particularly found of the elongated gobies and Basslets. :) <Well Danny, they are personally one of my favorite fish as well. I currently have one in my 150 Gal with a Royal Gramma, Blackcap Gramma, and a Firefish. I would say that your best choice here would be to have just the Jawfish and a Firefish.> Thank you for your time! <No Problem> Danny N. <Mike>

2/20/2009 Jawfish sys, stkg, a bit too small for what is desired. Re: pearly Jawfish compatibility   2/22/09 Thanks for the quick reply Mike! <Hi Danny, no problem> I have in mind to add a pearly Jawfish, Firefish, clownfish, and then royal Gramma (in that order) to this tank. <For a 24 gallon system, I would add the Jawfish, a Firefish and nothing else. With a 24 gallon tank, you are going to lose almost 10 gallons of capacity between the live rock and the deep sand bed that both of these fish require. Neither a Clownfish nor a Gramma would be happy in a tank of this size, and certainly not together.> I know that is probably pushing the fish limit on this tank. <Well past the limit I'm afraid.> Do you think they will be all compatible then? <Grammas and Clownfish can and do get territorial, you would have aggression issues putting them in a tank this size. They would likely bully each other and certainly bully the Firefish and Jawfish. A Jawfish and a Firefish should get along well in this setup, then add a couple of hermit crabs, perhaps a cleaner shrimp, a snail or two, and some macroalgae you would have a very nice display that will not be too difficult to maintain. I have intricate rockwork, lots of holes, crevices, and arches. Just want your expert opinion. <Sounds like it will be a very nice looking tank, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that you keep any more than two fish in the system.> Thanks again! <My Pleasure> Danny <Mike>

Feather duster molting? aggressive hermit: is he attacking the old tube, or is he trying to eat my feather duster? Reading... Sm. SW mis-managed  -- 2/21/09 Oh, my, my. I have had my 12 gallon Nano tank for nearly two years, moved with it, and things were going quite well. Now, I'm afraid a crash is imminent. My first problem was bristle worms that hitchhiked in, and they began to multiply to the point that I was afraid they were going to take my tank over. Yuck! <Don't panic... easily controlled> For over a year, my tank was stocked with three big pieces of live rock replete with the bristle worms, two hermit crabs (one, Hermes, is crippled and has never grown, molted, or changed shells) <Something/s amiss here... See WWM re... water quality issue most likely> and Kingston. I think he's turning into a troublemaker. He was always larger than Hermes, but I bought some new shells last November, and his size has probably quadrupled since then. He now changes shells regularly, sometimes several times in a day, and he's really big. He is now larger than a quarter but smaller than a fifty cent piece. (Twelve gallon tank, remember.) Last fall, just after my 300 mile move, I added a damsel fish to see if I could keep a fish alive. She's still swimming around, now at the mercy of a clown fish that stood his ground against her. <Not enough room for these...> In January I ordered an assortment of critters including the clown fish, hoping to mature my tank, eliminate the bristle worms, and have the pleasure of watching everything. I bought a coral banded shrimp-also growing fast, <Predaceous... not enough room for this and the Pomacentrids> a feather duster, some kind of red algae that looked like a clump of red fern which they have all now eaten COMPLETELY, an arrowhead crab, <See above, WWM re this... the same as the Stenopid> and some kind of coral that fell off the live rock and is now happily growing on the floor of the tank, pretty green fluorescence and all. The feather duster has apparently outgrown his tube which began to split about two weeks ago. Today, when I cam home, the hermit crab was all over the feather duster's tube, and most of the worm-about three inches--is outside the middle part of the duster's tube, and the feather duster seems to be unable to pull inside the neck of the tube even with Kingston aggressively attacking the tube that appears to be dying. <Is eating it> The feather draws up tight when Kingston is on the tube aggressively tearing at any section of the tube that seems to be a potential meal, but the feather duster seems unable to disappear inside his tube as he normally does when the Kingston crawls all over the tube. The neck of the feather duster is above the higher of the two splits, and the neck of the tube appears to be intact. The original split is now longer than it originally was, but the worm's body is outside a split that I never saw before today, and I have been looking at it obsessively. Kingston, the bigger crab, is all over that tube, crawling around and tearing at the tube with his claws. Is he trying to eat that old tube? <What's in it, yes> Will the feather duster grow a new tube? Where will I begin to see signs of a new tube? What do I need to do, if anything? What do I do with the old tube if the feather duster survives this process? I will happily ship Kingston out if he's going to eat everything. Is the feather duster's tube food for a hermit crab? <See WWM re... going to be ingested here... not regenerate likely> My alarm level really shot up about two weeks ago when, for the first time ever, I got a reading of 10 ppm nitrates. Until then, I had straight zeroes on any chemical problems. Last Sunday, it had increased to 15! I added water tonight to compensate for evaporation and then had to add some salt water to bring the specific gravity up to an acceptable level. Now the nitrates are 40, though the pH is 8.4, the ammonia is 0 and the nitrites are 0. <See WWM re... changing some substrate, LR... natural succession occurring here> Additionally, I am having difficulty with what I think is micro-green algae. I added a turbo snail two weeks ago, and he has really helped. Kingston seems to be trying to eat the turbo, too. My new house has no spot that is really dark enough for my tank, and it gets high light on the north side, so algae grows. I keep my light on about four hours in the evening. I think my tank is a little cool (72-74. I have a thermometer on the side); I don't have a heater. <Get one> I think Kingston is hungry, and I don't know what to feed him that is nutritious but won't add to a nitrate load. The clown and the damsel are ravenous, too. When I put in a fish flake or the cube of defrosted Mysis shrimp that I am now buying, the clown eats ravenously for about one minute and then stops. I spent $15 on New Life Spectrum Small Fish Formula (krill and fish meal formula). They don't like it. The damsel still prefers Omega One Marine Flakes, but I'm afraid I'll overfeed and kill everything. I still see bristle worms occasionally, but they are much smaller and less numerous. Maybe some of these critters that I bought with the hope that they would eat the bristle worms are doing their job. Any chance you can give me some help before all my critters crash and burn? <Sure... just learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM. In other words, read> I am unbelievable fond of these fascinating little creatures! Marti <Me neither. Bob Fenner>

Two SW Angels in 30 Gal     2/20/09 I have a 30 gallon tank with live rocks, cleaning crew (snails, crabs, and a peppermint shrimp), an entertaining goby, a darling baby cardinal, a bicolor angel <Too small a tank.> and a yellow tailed damsel. I want to add a coral beauty. Is this a good idea? <Horrible idea.> If not, what do you suggest? <Research, looking before leaping....your system is too small for the angel already there, muchness the prospect of adding another.> We will eventually add another baby cardinal; as the one we have looks lonely. It constantly stares at its reflection in the glass. Lastly, our bicolor appears to be begging the shrimp for a good cleaning. The shrimp simply ignores/avoids it. Why is that? <No guarantees re behavior here, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hipshrpbeh.htm about this.> Thanks in advance for your help. Sonia <Hmmm, welcome, but do help yourself a bit. Some reading, here on WWM or elsewhere will shed some light on all of this. Scott V.>

24g Nano lighting, stkg.   2/5/09 Greetings from Tampa Bay!? <Hello Danny. Minh at your service.> I was in the reef addicts club for a few years and took an unwanted vacation, but I want to join again!? <Welcome back to the addiction.> I plan on acquiring a JBJ 24 gallon Nano cube.? Lighting comprises of 2 x 36 Watt 50/50 CF Lamp w/ Remote Ballast + (2) Nite Vu LED Moonlights.? Dimensions are 18"x19.6"x19.7".? <Excellent all-in-one Nano tank. I am an owner myself.> I have read through the FAQ's that 3 watts per gallon isn't considered moderate lighting; however, I read a few FAQ's stating that 3 watts per gallon can be irrelevant depending on how shallow your tank is.? I did read that light penetration weakens at 20 inches or more of depth.? <Wattage per gallon is not a good rule of thumb when it comes to modern reef aquarium lighting. Intensity should be the primary focus when evaluating a lighting set up.> With that being stated, is the factory lighting scheme of 3 watts per gallon sufficient for soft corals or polyps in that size tank?? <The factory lighting should be sufficient for soft corals and polyps such as Palythoas or Zoanthids and even some LPS such as Caulastrea or Acanthastrea.> Or should I consider retrofitting another 36 watt PC into the hood?? I had difficulties in the past with a tall tank and my soft corals trumpeting to absorb more light.? I do not want to replicate that problem, although I don't want to overheat the tank!? <Although the factory lighting is sufficient, you should know that there are other contemporary lighting methods that are both more efficient (higher intensity while using the same if not less energy), longer lasting and run much cooler such as T5 High Output lighting and LED lighting. Unfortunately, the cost of LED lighting is still out of reach of most reef hobbyists at this time, T5 High Output lighting is fast becoming a favorite. More information about T5 HO lighting can be found here: http://tfivetesting.googlepages.com/ . Furthermore, there is a lot of good information available from other Nano Cube users here: http://www.nano-reef.com/ .> Thank you in advance for you advice! Danny N. <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>
Re: 24g Nano lighting  02/06/09 Thanks for the quick reply Minh!? <You're welcome, Danny.> You said some LPS would fare fine in my tank...would that include Euphyllia?? I loved the branching frogspawn (Euphyllia paradivisa) when I had my 45, but I am very concerned I might not have the intensity of lighting (2x32 CF's) needed with this tank or do I?? <Euphyllia would fare well under 2x32W PC lamps in a 24G Nano Cube. There are certain things you can do to maximize the amount of light reaching corals. For example, use creative placement of more light intensive corals higher on your aquascape scheme. Also, CF/PC bulbs lose quite a bit of intensity rather quickly and depending on the brand, may expire by the 6 months mark so make sure to keep up with bulb replacement to maintain intensity.> I do not want to sentence beautiful corals to their doom needlessly.? <Lighting is only one part of successful coral husbandry. I suspect if you maintain proper water quality along with proper animal selection, you should be successful with the factory lighting on the 24G Nano Cube.> Thank you again! Danny <Good luck. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

New year, new reef! Sm. SW set-up, Acan. use...    2/3/09 Hello Crew, <Sweta> You have saved my behind and my fish and my corals on several occasions. Thus, I feel compelled to consult you before I take a rather huge step in reef keeping. <Okay> I have 2 tanks, one 75 gallon with 3 small fish, and plenty of soft corals and Zoanthids. That is doing great. I just started a mini reef with my 29 gallon. (Salinity - 1.25, Ph- 8.4, Calcium- 400 - and this thanks to James' advice, Magnesium- 1400, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are undetectable, temperature 78). I have over 30 pounds of live rock, and a DSB (5"). I have a canister filter. My skimmer is not attached to the tank yet. (Aqua C remora) Right now, all I have is a couple of Zoanthid colonies, one small mushroom colony on its own rock, and a small anthelia freebie on its own rock. I was kind of lollygagging about what other corals to keep and given that my experience has always been in softies, I thought this tank would be one of those as well. However, a friend suddenly and unexpectedly gave me 3 Acan lord frags for free. Now, they are beautiful and I am very very very tempted given the outrageous prices charged for these corals and the "great" price on these. But even free is too expensive if I can't keep these beauties. <Nice!> Firstly, I tried my best to identify them as Acanthastrea lordhoweensis instead of other LPS species they could be, and by my amateur deduction, they are Lords. They are about 3 polyps each. I pored through your site and every internet resource I could find on these corals. 1. Lighting: I have 2 x 65 watt compacts. From what I have read, these seem to be sufficient for them. If that doesn't work, there is the other MH lit tank but I don't want to risk my softies. If it doesn't fit, they go to the LFS. <Okay... Acanthastrea can adapt to about either type/amount of light here. More folks use MH for looks, boosting metabolism with this genus of Mussids> 2. Growth: Your crew has been pretty honest about how mean these corals are. I have three shelves of about 5X5 each where they won't ever come into contact with the other corals, but am afraid they may eat my Cleaner shrimp or grow so large they will take over my tank. I have looked everywhere, but I have no idea what happens when they reach the edge of the shelf. Do they grow vertically? <Mmm... maybe will go "over the edge"... but this and related genera (e.g. Symphyllia) don't grow all that quickly... chances are you'll be moving, even fragging them in time> Should I take out my Zoanthids, mushrooms or Anthelias? <Not necessarily> 3. Feeding: I target feed my corals IPSF coral food three times a week, occasionally supplemented with oyster eggs. They have responded very well to this. However, I am not sure if Acans will be okay with these foods or whether I need to pick up frozen Mysid that most people recommend for this coral. <Try and see is my best suggestion> I know if I keep the Acans, I am going to end up being one of those DREADED Reef Garden keepers. <Heee! Too late... you already are> But even though I bought the book James' recommended, I am not getting anything on Acan Lord compatibility. Are there any corals I can keep with this one? <Sure... with the general provisos for mixing most all Cnidarian life... size of system, placement distance, most importantly careful acclimation to each other... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above> Or should I just tell my generous friend that his corals don't fit in my tank? <I wouldn't... I'd accept this gift graciously and keep moving forward with your learning, appreciating, enjoying the greater breadth of experience> Getting a new coral for me is scarier than getting married. I'd prefer to do it right the first time. Please help!!! <Gladly. Bob Fenner>
Re: New year, new reef!   2/5/09
Mr. Fenner!!!!!Each time I hear from you, it is like getting a letter from a celebrity. <?!> For people like me just learning the ropes- it is the equivalent of a 1st year physics student getting help on his homework from Stephen Hawking. <I could beat him in a foot race; I think> I told the friend who gave me the Acans that you wrote to me, and he didn't believe me so I showed him the PROOF. He actually bet me a frag of my choice. <Dang!> I was tempted by his sun corals, but realistically, my tank is far too small to handle the "fouling". I also travel quite frequently- and prefer that my husband not target feed my corals. I chose the Duncan instead. So, thank you Mr. Fenner for my new frag. I read up a lot on this coral before making that choice. Since I didn't want to be the "dreaded" reef garden keeper, I moved my mushrooms, and Zoanthids to the softie tank. Now everything in my tank eats the same food at the same size which simplifies things. Except for the anthelia but she is just there because the tank looks so barren. She will go out once things look a little more full. Thanks once again for your help. James ("Salty Dog") was also invaluable in getting this tank "stable". <Welcome Sweta! BobF>

20 Gallon Tank Stocking Levels, Yikes! 2/3/09 Hey guys! <Hello Micah> I have a 20 gallon saltwater setup that has been up and running for about 9 months. Currently I have about 20 Kilos of live rock, live sand, a feather duster, a Lettuce Nudibranch slug, a Yellow Clown Goby, <Not a good choice here. These fish often come in malnourished and can be difficult to feed.> 3 Green Chromis, a Scooter Dragonette, a Maroon Clown, <This fish needs to go back, much too large for a 20 gallon tank.> a Bubble Tipped Anemone, <Tank too small for this animal also, will be short lived in your tank, and does not belong here to begin with. Fish will be in danger of being stung and these animals require good lighting and water quality to survive, and most rarely survive more than a year to begin with. I'd see if your dealer will take this back, most won't.>. some shaving brush plants, and a large population of polyp corals. <What does your lighting system consist of? You mention nothing in this regard. Did you do any research/reading on these animals before purchasing?> We have a bio wheel filter and a 160 gph powerhead. The power head is set up to suck some air into the tank to aerate the tank. I was wondering if we had too many fish or a good amount. All the fish we have are pretty small. <Too many fish. I class 20 gallon tanks as Nano tanks and should be stocked as such. Do read here and related articles/FAQ's http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm> We are wanting to get a green Mandarin Dragonette, but are unsure if there is enough room in the tank for it. <Will starve to death, incompatible tankmates, these fish rarely eat prepared foods. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mandarins.htm> That would be our last purchase for the tank. What do you think? <I think you need to do more research/learning about animals you wish to keep and know their requirements and whether you are able to provide them. Is all available on this sight. See index to our content here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm I don't mean to sound rude in any way, but you are a perfect example of why people get in and out of this hobby quickly. Is due to frustration from constant losses due to lack of knowledge/understanding before diving in. Much more reading/learning required here.> Thank you very much, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Micah

Compatibility/Stocking Order, Sm. SW,  2/2/09 <Hi Donna> I apologize in advance if this has been asked but couldn't find an answer. <Has been asked a gazillion times.> I actually have 2 separate questions. I have 2 tanks that are still cycling and want to know about fish compatibility and what order to place. Am planning to wait 3-4 weeks in between each fish introduction to allow tank to stabilize and fish to adjust. Both tanks will have a protein skimmer. <Good move incorporating the protein skimmer.> 1st tank is a 24g Nano cube. I want 2 black and white false clowns, a Tail Spot Blenny and a goby (probably a Yellow Watchman). I read if blenny and goby are added at the same time they will do fine? <Should be fine, the Tail Spot (one of my faves) is rather peaceful along with the watchman. The Watchman Goby many threaten any fish near it's cave with mouth agape gestures but that should be the extent of it. You may want to add a Tiger Pistol Shrimp in this system, an interesting relationship will usually form between the Watchman Goby and the shrimp.> 2nd tank is a 36g bow front. I want 2 false clowns, a Falco Hawk, 2 angels, and if there is room a Black Sailfin Blenny. As far as angels I want 2 Half-Black or 1 Half-Black and 1 eibl's. Also read these get along if added at the same time. <Not in my opinion. A Half Black or Eibl's Angel should be the only dwarf angel in this size tank. << Too small a volume for this. RMF>>  In smaller tanks such as yours, fighting likely will ensue between conspecifics. I do not know your experience level, but these two angels can be a little difficult to acclimate and both are not good reef dwellers if corals are in your future. The Falco Hawkfish is a good choice keeping in mind that it can/will eat small shrimp.> If these are all compatible please tell me the order they should go in tank. I really like my LFS but have read these guys will tell you anything to make money. <I'd put the clownfish, Hawkfish, <<There's not enough room for a Cirrhitid here either>> and blenny in first, then ONE angelfish. In the smaller tank, I'd put the Watchman Goby <<And this will very likely starve here. RMF>> in first, then the blenny and the clownfish. Do read here and related articles/FAQ's listed on each link. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/index.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trublennies.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hawkfish.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gobies.htm  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpgobies.htm  Here is a good video depicting the mutualism/behavior shared by the shrimp goby and pistol shrimp. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taChNbtKIV0 > Thanks in advance, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Donna

Compatibility/Stocking Order, Sm. (24 gal. BioCube) SW, 2/2/09 Bob, <James> Sorry on the Eibl's angelfish. Realizing now that this is one of the larger species (6") of dwarf angelfish. The querior must be reading minimum tank sizes stated by etailers as many of them recommend a minimum of a 30 gallon tank and is likely what came to my mind at the time of my post. <Still too little room...> On to the Falco Hawkfish. As this fish reaches a length of 2 1/2", I am wondering why you state "not enough room". <Too small for behavioral reasons here...> And, as to the Watchman Goby "starving to death". I've kept mine in a 29 for over one year before moving into a five foot tank and have had no feeding problems whatsoever. They do not take kindly to dried foods, but my specimen relishes Mysid, brine, bloodworms, etc. Have I been lucky? James <Perhaps... my experiences have differed here... and am wont to offer much anything different than "general" experience on the "Net". B>
Re: Compatibility/Stocking Order, Sm. SW, 2/2/09
OK, Mmm, thought the Falco Hawkfish was rather peaceful. James <I don't consider any of the Cirrhitids so... esp. when boxed in too-small volumes. Other fishes, crustaceans will suffer. B> Thank you, will keep this info. J <Real good. B>

From 10 gallon to 24 Aquapod, 1/22/09 Hi Crew, <Hello> My 10 gallon (over 6 years old) has been very successful thanks to the crew. It has sand and rock , a clown goby (5 years), spotted cardinal (5 years) and neon goby (2 years) plus some snails. <Nice> Also have 65w PC's and candy canes. Filter is a mini penguin with a bio wheel. I will be closing down the 10 gallon. The Aquapod footprint is not much larger than the 10 gallon. The length is about the same. The width and height are larger. It has 30 pounds of rock (cured) and will be adding 1-2 inches of live sand shortly. The Aquapod just has a glass top so I will use my PC lighting. I tried buying an Aquapod cover with PC lighting but they do not sell it separate. I will try to place the coral along the path of the light and within the same distance from the light that it was in the 10 gallon. <Good> I plan on adding a Firefish and possibly one more, a chalk bass or gramma. <I would not, the bioload capacity of the AquaPod is not going to be significantly greater than the 10G due to its depth.> But the gramma may be too much for the Firefish to handle. <I would think so, especially in this sized tank.> The filter is simply a pump pulling water out of the tank through a sponge and shooting it out like a powerhead from 2 nozzles. The water flow is much stronger than my 10 gallon. I will be placing carbon behind the sponge. Any suggestions would be appreciated. <Adding a skimmer is always a good idea.> I am debating whether to use my 5 year old rock from the old tank. It is one piece about 10-12 pounds. I know it has life inside but it also has pest algae on the outside on about 1/3 of it which is impossible to get off other than chiseling it down. Is it worth it? <That depends on you, will save some money and bring in established rock, but the algae will most likely continue unless physically removed.> Thanks, Sam <Welcome> <Chris>
Re: From 10 gallon to 24 Aquapod 1/22/09
Hi Chris, <Hello> I do not understand the statement highlighted below. <Can't see the highlights on our mail system.> Isn't the bio load dependent on the volume? <That is only one factor, and a small one in my opinion. Surface area for gas exchange and the footprint for available territory, which just about every reef fish will attempt to establish, are much more limiting than volume of water. Even if you massively overfilter a tank to provide good water quality it you can still run into problems if you do not provide the necessary "living space" for the fish's needs. Fish need lateral space, which the cubic design on the Aquapod does not provide a whole lot of.> Thanks, Sam <Welcome> <Chris>

Solar Wrasse in a Puffer Tank  ~ 01/12/09 Hello, <Hello Jessy here> I am about to purchase a Solar Wrasse to replace my Coris that bellied up this weekend. <Sorry to hear. My Coris is one of my favorite fish> The question that I have, will the Solar Wrasse and my puffer get along? Right now I have a 30 cube with my porcupine puffer and a clown (soon to be upgraded to a 90 bow front)...The puffer has eaten a couple of fish when they were sleeping, he never bothered the Coris because he would ditch in the sand at night. I have read that Solar Wrasses do not go to sand but rather find a hiding place in the rock? <You are right that the solar wrasse sleeps in the rock and the Coris sleeps in the sand. I would assume that if the puffer can fit it in its mouth the fish will be in danger sleeping in the rocks. Just as all your other fish have fallen victim to the hungry puffer. It will be at your own risk that you add this beauty of a wrasse> Any suggestions would be fantastic. Thanks. Timothy N. Wells <Regards, Jessy> <<This system is too small for this Puffer alone... will very likely damage any other fish. RMF>>

Advice regarding fish stocking, Nano Marine, 1/5/09 Hi all. I have a very precise question that I think will not be answered by the new edition of the Fenner book (on order). ;-) <Fire away.> This will be my first SW tank. I had intended to get a Nano Cube 28g HQI. While I wanted a real reef tank (including SPS)--and I think this is achievable given the info that is now out there--I am a bit stumped by the fish I should add. <Ok> Specifically, I was HOPING to add an Onyx Clown (tank bred), an Orchid Dottyback (tank bred), a pygmy geometric "hawk," a six line wrasse, and a Flame Angel. Each of these fish is good for a beginning reefer, I've read, and each is appealing in its own right. I have a small tank, and every fish must count. <Too much.> The question, then, is threefold: (1) does this combination count as overstocking? <Yes, I would not have more than 3 fish, and that is pushing it.> (2) What would be the correct order of entry into the tank of these selections? <They are all fairly aggressive, I would probably go clown, hawk, wrasse, Dottyback, and then the flame, which really does not belong in this small of a tank anyway.> (3) How safe would corals be with the angel? <Definitely would be a crap shoot, but I would not have a flame angel in anything less than a 55, so it should not be a problem.> You know what answers I'd LIKE, but I really want the truth! <Always.> By the way, I will be changing 10% of the tank water each week and will be using 1.2 lbs of live rock per gallon. <Good> I will be using the built-in skimmer, but I will get a better one if this is advisable for the livestock. <Built-in skimmers are generally pretty poor, but you may have troubling finding another skimmer than will fit.> I guess I'll have 1-2 inches of aragonite sand on the bottom. <The general rule of thumb is less than 1 inch or more than 4, otherwise you are in a gray area where detritus gets trapped but it is not deep enough for nitrogen reduction.> Thanks so much for any light you can shed! Sam <Welcome> <Chris>
Re: Advice regarding fish stocking, Nano Marine, 1/5/09
Thank you very much for your amazingly fast reply. <Welcome> I included the angel in the list because I have seen very different minimum tank sizes for it (from 25 gallons to 55). However, some have asserted that it really is happiest in a 55 gallon tank. So much for fish size tank rules. <Always error on the side of larger in my opinion.> If I somehow managed to add, say, 6 gallons, in an external sump/refugium, and replaced the skimmer with a Tunze Nano, do you think I could keep the other four fish? (I'm hoping the small size of the pseudo-hawk might make this possible.) <I would not, it's a matter of available territory and aggression more than anything in my mind.> Thanks again! Sam <Welcome> <Chris> re: Advice regarding fish stocking Thanks Chris. I'm sure you've saved me some heartache. <Welcome> <Chris>

Any suggestions? Sm. SW stkg.   1/3/09 Hi! <Hello Gisela, Minh at your service.> I've just set up my first saltwater tank. It is a 29 gallon tank and only has live rock, live sand and all of the water levels are looking fine. <Congratulations on your first saltwater tank.> I'm getting ready to add fish to it pretty soon, but was wondering what kind and how many. I've definitely done my research and am leaning towards clownfish, three stripe damsels, or cardinals. I like Firefish too. I know I can't have them all, but what would you suggest? <They are all are fine choices for a first time saltwater keeper. I will hold my suggestion as the decision on which fish is a personal choice and ultimately it will be up to you to make that decision. Rather, I will give you some person experience with each type of fish to supplement the information you've gathered during your initial research. Clownfish is a great all-around choice as most are readily available as tank-bred specimens. The Three Stripe Damsel is a very hardy fish and provide a striking contrast in an aquarium, however, like most in the Damselfish family, it is very territorial and may be aggressive toward tank mates particularly in a 29 gallon environment. Cardinalfish and Firefish are both great choices though less active than Clownfish and Damselfish. Also, they both would prefer a calmer more peaceful environment than Clownfish and Damselfish. In the case of Cardinalfish, there are some excellent tank-bred specimens available.> I definitely don't want to overcrowd, but I want a nice variety. I know I'm asking a lot, but if you could maybe suggest some possible combinations of fish it would be great. It doesn't necessarily have to be the fish I named, but just some hardy, small fish that would get along with each other. <There are several things to keep in mind when making your decision. First, put higher consideration in tank-bred specimens if they are available. These specimens are much more adept to captive life and it would be the environmentally conscious choice. Second, do your best to be patient when adding fish. After you've made up your mind on a stocking list, force yourself to stick to it and allow your tank to adjust to new inhabitants by giving it plenty of time between additions. Lastly, know that although the saying, "variety is the spice of life," it may not apply well to your marine tank. Less is often more, in this case. So before adding multiple species, consider their size, behavior and aggression as they grow. The type of fish you've listed are exactly what I would've suggested for a first time marine tank owner so I do not think you will go wrong in selecting any of them. For example, a clownfish pair and damselfish combination would be a great active and energetic tank. If you wish for a more laid-back and relaxing tank, a Cardinalfish or Firefish (Or another in the Dartfish family) combination would be excellent. Good luck and keep us updated with your choice. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>  

Adding, removing and the rest!, Small Marine Stocking 12/30/08 Hey guys <Hello> I have a 15-20 gallon saltwater aquarium. <Small> I am currently cycling the tank. The fish I want to keep after cycling are a Royal Gramma and 2x T. Percula clownfish. <Ok, but there may be aggression issues in this sized tank with these fish.> I have been cycling with a blue devil damsel for about four weeks now. <Better ways to cycle a tank than with live fish.> Firstly, when cycling is complete, I am going to return the blue devil from the tank and take it back to the store. I have quite a bit of rockwork with caves, corners and crevices that are Impossible to catch a fish in. So, I thought that just putting the net in and chasing after the fish would be useless. <Probably> I also don't want to have to take out and rearrange the rock. <This may be unavoidable.> I was thinking that since he eats from my hand and comes right up to the top of the water I could dip a flake in and while holding the flake just at surface-just underwater I could hold a net up above the water and quickly net him. <Long shot but may work, but he will catch on fast.> I think this plan would work great but I just want your opinion. <Worth a try, but most likely you will end up breaking down the tank to get him out I think.> Next, with the Royal Gramma, I am going to keep it at the LFS for 2 weeks and make sure it is eating. I am wondering if you think I should keep it there for 3 weeks. <Could, but still no guarantee of health.> Also, do you think I should add the clowns or the Gramma first. <Probably the clowns, in my own tank the gramma rules the tank, so give the clowns a chance to get a foothold.> I have heard that sometimes the Grammas hide for the first 5-7 days, <Might be a bit timid to start with,> I want him to be able to adjust to the new environment without the activity of clownfish. But I have also heard that they can be aggressive. <Both the clowns and gramma can be quite aggressive, which may become an issue in this sized tank.> As I have mentioned I have made the tank an environment suitable for the Gramma so he will not feel open and vulnerable, therefore keeping stress levels at a minimum. <That is ultimately for the fish to decide.> Thanks guys and I hope you can give me the answers and advice that you always do. Dean' <Welcome> <Chris>
Re: Adding, removing and the rest!, <small> Marine Stocking 12/31/08
Would a black cap Basslet, orchid Dottyback or royal Dottyback be better. <Pretty similar fish, although these tend to get more aggressive than the gramma.> I live in Australia and Basslets seem to cost so much more. Over here most of the Royal Grammas cost between 80 dollars and 200 dollars. <WOW!!!> Whereas looking at some American websites they are only 15-20 dollars. <Sounds right, a very common fish over here.> I don't really think that Black cap Basslets will be any better. <Agreed> Although over in Australia a Royal Gramma or Black cap Basslet in a store is a rare and special occasion Royal Dottybacks are very easy to get and are a current resident in most marine stores sale tanks. Also whoever it is that has to reply to this email, could you please tell me some areas in the Caribbean in which you can see Royal Grammas snorkeling or scuba diving. <They are very wide spread and common in the Caribbean, but all my diving has been in the Pacific or freshwater, I'm sure Bob can comment more on this.> I have just been to Heron Island (Eco resort island which holds 90% of the Great Barrier Reefs fish, corals and invertebrates. <Lucky> It was absolute stunning and just to mention a few: Reef Sharks, Moorish Idols, Threadfin Butterflies, Sailfin Tangs, Longnose Butterflies, Foxfaces, Turtles, Bicolor Angels were just SOME of the fish we saw on the trip. <Neat> Thanks guys and even though not all this email is about the aquarium side of the hobby I have heard that most of you go on dives and I am just wondering an area in which I can see a royal Gramma. Thanks Dean <Wind chill is currently -4 F here today, all this talk of tropical diving is depressing me, There are some great places in the Caribbean to dive, although I'm not sure they compare that well to the Great Barrier Reef,> <Chris>

Fish Keep Dying, being killed... reading  12/25/08 Hello, <Howdy> I recently set up a 10 gallon saltwater tank (I know its small). I placed live sand, about 12 lbs of live rock (Fiji), live plants, and some airstone. The tank was set up for about a month and a half and cycled; The levels read: Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 PH 8.4 Temp 78 Salinity 1.023 Calcium 440 I started adding turbo snails right when the levels were manageable. Two of the three had died and the one is still in it. I placed 2 damsels <This volume is too small for Damselfishes> in the tank a few weeks after the snails died. The one damsel died the same night and the second damsel died the next night. The second damsel that died looked fine for a day and a half and then began breathing very fast before it died. I went to a LFS and asked what it could have been. They said perhaps the acclimation process <Good guess, assumption> and that only water condition could kill a fish this quickly or perhaps it was a bad batch of fish. So I purchased a Green Chromis <A social species... again, inappropriate in this tiny volume. Doomed... "had you read..."> and did the drip method acclimation process for about 2.5 hrs <!?> and placed it in the tank along with three hermit crabs. The fish lived for two days and then died. There were no visible marks or cysts on the fish and the breathing rate seemed normal. Currently in the tank are 3 hermit crabs and the lone snail. The snail has recently been falling over <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/snaildisfaqs.htm and the linked files above re Systems... As you'll see, you need to pay attention to alkalinity and Magnesium levels here...> and doesn't seem to be his self. The plants seem to becoming transparent, <Dying> which I read may be due to light source ( I use a 10,000 K 15 watt bulb). With all the levels checked out as mentioned above do you know why the fish can't make it past 2 days? <Yes> If you need more information I will be happy to provide it. Thank You! Klynt <Please read... re the needs... at least the Systems, of what you list here, intend to "try" in future... You're "shooting in the dark"... killing this life out of ignorance. No sense... as you can avoid further losses by reading about the many similar mistakes I and my friends have recorded on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish Keep Dying  12/25/08
Bob, <Klynt> Thanks for the quick response. I know I need to learn a lot more and would love to. <Is a wondrous, continuing process... for all> This tank is just a starter tank until I purchase a much larger tank (125 gallon). I didn't realize it was too small for a damsel since they only grow to about 4 inches. <Some Pomacentrids a bit smaller, a few quite a bit larger than this> The 2.5 hr acclimation I read online and was told by the LFS owner, so that was what I thought was correct. <Is much longer than usually suggested protocols...> I'll make sure to check my magnesium in the tank to help my turbo snail. Would the 10 gallon volume kill my fish in 2 days? <Yes, could... very stressful> I didn't think it would since the fish were so small. Thanks, Klynt <Do give a read re smaller, more sedentary groups of fishes Klynt... There are only a few that are readily offered in the trade that will go for any time in such a small world... Some of the gobies, blennies... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Adding Fish, small reef...    12/25/08 Hi WWM crew. <Hello! Benjamin here.> I have a few questions related to what order I should add my fish. Firstly, I have been cycling my tank for around 3 weeks and 4 days now with an electric Blue Devil Damselfish. <Do refer to our pages on fishless cycling for future use...> I have 6kg of Live Rock and 4kg of Substrate which is fine white marble chip. <Marble? I think you will find this unsuitable> The tank is 15 gallons and has 2 x 26w power compact fluorescent lights, an undergravel filter and most importantly my multi stage internal filter which is hidden behind the back ground of the tank and consist of 4 chambers Chamber 1. Sponge Chamber 2. Sponge and dead coral pieces in a stocking to aid in more biological filtration capacity. Chamber 3. Sponge and filter wool. Chamber 4. Return pump and back out through spray bar into aquarium. The filter has chemical, mechanical and biological filtration means within it. <I see biological, mechanical...chemical?> When the cycling process is complete I will be taking the Blue Devil back to my LFS and getting a discount on my next fish or money back. The fish I want to keep are as follows. 2 x T. Percula Clowns 1 x Royal Gramma Along with these fish I am going to be keeping various corals such as : Star polyps, Zoanthids, Candy Cane coral, and some Mushrooms, and another coral but I am unsure of the name. I am wondering if I should add the R. Gramma or the 2 T. Percula clowns first. <I would advise against two clowns in this space; they really need more room. Also, do consider narrowing the coral list to a couple species, genera...need to be at least 6" apart, and many mixed varieties will cause illness> If you advise me to add the clowns first how long should it be before I add the Gramma. <Do quarantine your clown, gramma...in this small space, watch for signs of aggression, stress.> Thanks for the Help , Dean' <Benjamin>

Re: Please Help (10 gal. tank, goatfish...)  12/28/08 No it is a hang on style filter. I also use a powerhead for movement. I have 14 lbs of live sand and about 10 lbs of live rock. <Good.> I discovered the Goatfish was inappropriate after I got him home and happened to run across a couple web sites that said there minimum was way bigger than my 10. <The reason to look before you leap!> I was going to take him back to the LFS the next day but didn't have the chance too before he was gone. <Unfortunate.> I am coming to realize that smaller tanks are way harder than the bigger tanks that I am used too. <They are indeed! Scott V.>

Question about frogspawn, coral stocking, and Clownfish. Allelopathy potential poster circumstances   12/11/08 Hey Guys, <And ladies too...> I've searched far and wide on your site, I've been using it for ages now, and once again I have to say thanks so much for everything you guys all do! There is a real wealth of information here, and I've turned more than a few friends who are just getting into the hobby to this site. Apparently they think I'm an expert or something after less than a year of reefkeeping..... <Heeee! You are> that makes me laugh out loud, when I realize how much there is to learn about this hobby and ALL of the mistakes I`ve made. And thus I point them to the more knowledgeable! Anyways, I`ll give you the details about my set-up first. Standard 29 Gallon tank, has been running for about 9 months. 35 lbs of live rock, with good coralline growth, also on the glass, (and some really cool flaking/encrusting dark red coralline, on everything.... looks really neat) A Prizm Red Sea skimmer, with a box in the outlet flow area for active carbon. Converted hang on the back filter for some mechanical filtration. 2 Small powerheads for even more water movement, pointing at each other towards the middle to get some good turbulent flow. Also a small heater to regulate temperature. I run active carbon in both the skimmer box and the hang on filter, rotating each bag out after every two weeks, so each bag (2tsp of carbon each) is in for a month. I do 5 gallon water changes every week and a half to 2 weeks, and I let the water aerate with a powerhead in a bucket for 24 hours before adding it, with some light siphoning of the substrate. I`ve tested the saltwater for phosphate and nitrates, and it`s negative for both. I use R/O water for top ups and changes. I use Seachem Reef buffer with some of the water changes occasionally, but the pH has been pretty stable. Also add a Kent trace mineral supplement once every two weeks. I feed the fish a mix of New Life Spectrum flakes, Mysis shrimp, and Cyclops. Also some Nori. I've also just bought some assorted seafood (Mussel, Squid, Mysis and Brine Shrimp), and will be mixing these into blocks for freezing after I've thawed and drained off all the nasty murky juice they packed it with, so the fish will have more variety now. Also some vegetable/Nori flakes for the angel. I just started soaking the foods in Zoecon (I'm thinking kind of like Selcon, but not sure) before feeding. They mostly get flakes every day, supplemented every second day with all the meaty foods above. LPS Corals get fed every couple days. Water Chem - Ammonia - 0.00, Nitrates almost 0, Phosphates 0.05. pH 8.3, Specific gravity 1.025, Alkalinity is in the normal range of the test kit, and Calcium is 400-450ppm. Critters: Two false Percula clowns (one is a notably larger, dominant female, the other clown twitches when she swims close) A coral beauty angel (still very small, and I know inappropriate for the tank, I'm planning on getting a bigger tank (150ish) in the next year or so so this guy will be happier). A purple Firefish (neon goby) A fire shrimp Cleanup crew consisting of 2 turbo snails, one scarlet hermit, three small blue legged hermits, about 20 or so Nassarius snails, and two weird looking slugs, with soft looking shells, one jet black and one white... came in with some coral, don't know what they are. Corals, I have a white bubble coral, about 4 inches across. Also a branching frogspawn, colt coral, 2 open brains, and then a whole bunch of mushrooms and button polyps, all variety of colors, and a green star polyp colony. The corals are all doing pretty good, they open well, and are not physically touching one another. The big pink open brain I bought was not doing too well, and I tried 'rescuing him' from the store.... <Mmm, I would not add any more/new Cnidarians here... in this small, established system... too great a chance of them "not getting along"> he wasn't eating at first, but now he is, and has regained a lot of his color.... a really beautiful coral. Like I said earlier, I feed the LPS corals once ever two days or so at night. The white bubble coral ejects a stringy brown mucus every few days, for the last week or two. Okay now for problems.... Since I added the colt coral (it's the latest coral I've added, as I heard it is fairly toxic/aggressive and wanted to add it last), the dominant female clownfish has started hovering around the frogspawn, and poking her head in and 'nipping' at it. <Likely trying to establish a bond... Clownfishes will develop symbiotic relations with Euphyllias... among other non-anemone hosts> She doesn't bite bits off, it looks like she just pokes around in there, but the coral is clearly distressed and retracted, though it has yet to jettison any mucus like stuff. I think maybe it's a dietary deficiency, which is why I just got all the new food and feeding methods etc, to try and add some spice to their diet (before it was just flakes and Mysis shrimp, with some Cyclops). Is there any other reason she would do this? <See above...> She doesn't seem to want to host in it, she sleeps in the opposite corner of the tank from it, and the male clown rests himself on a bed of button polyps, though during the day while she hovers around it (facing it the whole time) she'll chase away other fish. <Woe to them if these two reproduce... no "room to run/hide" here> Other problems are more minor, there is one green mushroom, with little bumps on it, that seems to be burning run of the mill blue mushrooms next to it. Its not a Ricordea, or a hairy mushroom, but it has more texture then the smoother blue ones around it... do the different colors of mushrooms generally coexist? <Mmm, can, yes... once again, if "accustomed" to each other...> Also on a happier note, two of the striped mushrooms I have are splitting off foot processes, which appear to be growing into new mushrooms.... really cool! The only other problem I have is every morning the sand is white, but by evening there is a brown layer that looks like diatoms which disappears by morning. Am I overfeeding? <Mmm, not likely... natural succession...> That's pretty much it, I can`t begin to say how much I appreciate the help you guys have given me already, you`re an invaluable resource. My tank and myself have both gained so much knowledge from this site, it wouldn`t be nearly as nice now if not for you, so thanks! Eric <I'd be speeding up the process of acquiring that larger system... and keeping steady with the regimen of maintenance you detail... Your system is doing about all it can/should do, given all you list... but you could have a catastrophic cascade event... with the Cnidarians... perhaps triggered by the female Clown's behavior... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question about frogspawn, coral stocking, and Clownfish.  -12/11/08 Allelopathy potential poster circumstances
Hello again Bob! <Eric> Thanks again for the swift reply. I definitely agree, not much more going into this tank, except maybe some little button polyps if i can find some cool ones, or a mushroom or two... but for the most part, I'm just going to let it grow. I was worried about allelopathy too, the mushrooms don't extend as much in the last two days, or the bubble coral. Also the frogspawn but that's from the clownfish. I changed some of the carbon, did a water change, and we'll see what happens.... <Good moves> everybody else looks good. I also forgot to mention the clam I have ( a small blue Crocea) he is doing alright, though hasn't opened fully in the last day or two either. I'm hoping that adding the colt coral didn't push my system over the limit...time will tell I guess. Thanks for your input though, much appreciated as always. Eric <Welcome... am hoping Santa won't strain his/her back with the new big tank under the tree... BobF>

Clean-up crew, 12/10/08 Hello, <Hi> So I was wondering about he cleanup crew for my 29 gallon saltwater reef tank. Is 12 dwarf blue leg hermits, 12 dwarf red tip hermits, 10 Astraea snails, 1 emerald crab, and 2 peppermint shrimp too much for my tank? <Yes in my opinion.> I already have a little purple Firefish in there and I was planning on getting a ocellaris clownfish too. If that is too big of a cleanup crew what would you suggest? <A couple hermits, maybe 3 snails, drop the emerald, and the peppermints. Much more than that and they will likely starve.> Thanks, Scott <Welcome> <Chris>
Re: Clean-up crew, 12/10/08
Thanks for the quick response, <Welcome> Many websites say a lot more than that. <Yep, easier to sell that way.> LiveAquaria has a reef cleaner package that has way more inverts in it. <Yep, but way way too much for the sized tank they recommend.> Do you think I could get by with 10 hermits and 8 snails? <I think ultimately they will starve, or the hermits will pick off the snails as they run out of easier food.> That is what I have used in my other similar sized tanks. I do have sort of an algae problem. I trust your judgment but I think I need more than what you suggested. <I think you would be better off determining the source of the algae problems than try to combat it with the clean-up crew. If it helps in my 46G I have a 2 Astrea, 1 Cerith, 2 Nassarius, and 2 Red legged hermits. They are all about 7 or 8 years old now. > Thanks again, Scott <Welcome> <Chris>

Most Likely Last Fish For Nano Tank - 12/06/08 Hiya peoples! =D (Sorry. Don't mind me, I'm just hyper.) I have a 24g Aquapod containing: 1 Green Chromis (MIDORI-CHAN!!! =DDD) 1 Royal Gramma 1 Saddle Blenny, and 1 Signal Goby If I add either a Flame(Hawaiian), Coral Beauty, or Pygmy Angelfish, or a small fairy or velvet wrasse, would that be overpopulation for the tank? Would a pair of clowns be better? <Mmm, maybe a Pygmy Angel... or the (tank bred) Clowns... likely Ocellaris or Perculas... might go... not the others> Thank you in advance for your advice. PS: If I could get hold of one (or two! =D) Sebae, Two Banded, Saddleback, True Percula, Cinnamon, Pink, Allard's, "Stumpy"(ORA),"Teardrop"(ORA), or Clarkii clownfish which would make the best aquarium specimen for my tank? <See above... all other species get too large, aggressive for this small volume> Could I put both a clownfish and an Angelfish/Wrasse into my tank? <I would not, no> Or would that be too much? <Too likely so, yes> Also, where on earth can I find a good pic/photo of a Rose Skunk Anemone/Clownfish which clearly shows its coloration/appearance? I've been searching, but I can't find one ANYWHERE! I REALLY want to know what this fish looks like! The curiosity is KILLING me here! THANX AGAIN, BYEZ (Lol, sorry, I'm so hyper...) <... less caffeine... I'd take a look via Google or such with the name: Amphiprion nigripes, look at the images... Bob Fenner>

Critters... small SW sys. stkg... 12/05/08 Hi Crew, <HI, sorry it took so long for you to get a response. Sometimes our crew members put emails in their folders and "forget" about them for awhile.> I currently have a 10 gallon saltwater tank that is 6 years old with some coral and fish. The fish are over 4 years old and WWM is what made this successful.. Anyway, I am toying with the idea of a critter tank, no fish or coral. Hermits, crabs, shrimp etc. <Cool> Whatever I think can coexist. Will probably not have snails since my experience is that the hermits will eventually take their shell. It will be a 10 gallon with sand and live rock. What do I need as far as filtering and water movement. <Likely the same as you'd need for any tank.> Will a foam filter be enough? <Not at first, but perhaps after the tank is well established (I'm assuming you'll use live rock?> Do I need a cover? <no> Standard fluorescent light strip. <Should be enough> Any algae needed like Caulerpa or Chaeto? <This would help.> If yes how much light will I need to keep it growing. <VHO lighting might be best.> Anything else to consider? <Depending on what type of critters you want to keep... just make sure they're not all eating each other. I think you're essentially setting up a hermit crab species tank. Though, if it were me, I'd skip the hermits and make an emerald crab tank (I have done this actually). And what will you feed the tank?> I assume I can feed them the same as my fish. <Probably yes, but feed less.> Thanks Sam <De nada, Sara M.> <<Mmm, this was resp. to... in recent days. RMF>>

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