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FAQs on Brackish Water Livestock Selection, Acclimation

Related Articles: Brackish Water Livestock Selection,  Purchasing, Transporting and Settling New  Freshwater/Brackish Water Livestock by Neale Monks Brackish Livestock, Brackish Plants, Fresh to Brackish Fishes, Brackish InvertebratesThe Brackish Waters of the Bayou: Native brackish water fish for the home aquarium by Neale Monks

To FAQs on the above groups: See their articles for links. Brackish Water Systems in General,


brackish tank with F8 puffers, BBG's, Balloon mollies     8/15/14
Hello crew! I did read through the before you write section, and had quite a good laugh I might add.
So I hope to not make many mistakes in writing this. As many people have said, the service you provide is truly irreplaceable and greatly appreciated. So I have recently started a low end brackish tank that currently has 2 figure 8 puffers, they are very small as of now at around 1/2 inch each.
I ordered 4 bumblebee gobies and they are coming in tomorrow. The current water parameters are as follows:
Ammonia- 0 ppm
Nitrite- 0 ppm
Nitrate- between 10 and 20 ppm( sometimes I have a hard time deciding which one because the colors are very similar, and I have a tendency to be indecisive ;)
SG- 1.002, and will be increased to 1.004 and be maintained around there
<If that; SG 1.003 would be safer if you have plants in there.>
I do not have a GH/KH test, but it is coming in the mail next week.
<If you're using marine aquarium mix, GH and KH will take care of themselves. These offer fairly good buffering capacity, which can be augmented by adding some calcareous material to the substrate or inside the filter.>
But the substrate is aragonite sand, and the water in my area is very hard.
<All good.>
On to the questions that I have. I have read that bumblebee gobies can be difficult to feed.
<Not especially, but they are slow feeders. They will take brine shrimp and bloodworms, frozen or live, that drift past them. But they won't chase stuff down.>
I have a device that looks like a turkey baster, but thinner. I am hoping to use that to try to get food to them.
<Maybe, but thin pipettes will be easily blocked by the food. So you'll need to experiment.>
But I want to run an idea past you guys, and I hope that you don't judge me because it is kind of cruel( or so I have been told). I was thinking of getting balloon belly mollies, particularly 3 females and 1 male. The point of this would actually be to supplement food for the gobies, or if the puffers get feisty. The reason for the balloon belly mollies in particular is actually because they are deformed and the fry are less likely, from what I have read, to thrive very well. Which I would think would make them an easier meal.
<In theory, yes, but Mollies produce so few fry on a *daily* basis that supporting predators this way doesn't really work unless you have many dozens of them per predator. Another problem is that Molly fry swim at the surface, whereas BBGs are down at the bottom.>
So I know it is mean, but could it work?
<Unlikely. And in any event, the Figure-8 Puffers may well harass the Mollies. Puffers aren't reliable tankmates for slow-moving species like Balloon Mollies, even fairly good species like Figure-8s.>
Thanks for everything you guys do! Have a great day, and I hope to hear from you soon.
<The BBGs can be fed on frozen foods and small chunks of seafood. Just provide enough that they can get at it without the puffers stealing it first. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: More on Archers, also BR acclim. f'     6/20/13
One last thing- when acclimating an archer kept in freshwater at work to my brackish water at home, should I just use an airline drip over an hour or so, or I'd there a better method?
<The drip method is overkill; brackish water fish have evolved to tolerate rapid changes in salinity, and don't need such molly-coddling. If you're going from freshwater to low-end brackish (up to SG 1.005) then you can simply net them out of one tank and pop them into the other. Or do the water changes to up the salinity in the tank. Whatever. For bigger changes, then putting them in a bucket part filled with water and doing 2-3 additions of new water to change the salinity (and fill the bucket) will be adequate, perhaps over 30 minutes. Keep a lid on the bucket though -- Archers are incredible jumpers.
Cheers, Neale.>

New Brackish Tank (Bob, and some Goldfish compatibility stuff too!)      5/31/13
Hi All, Before I begin, I want to let you know how much I appreciate your site. The information is invaluable. Before recently (last fall) getting back into the hobby, I had experience with marine tanks (10 years ago) and now have a few freshwater tanks established. Because I love talking about them, they are currently; 55 gal planted (15 platys; 6 Boesemanni rainbows; 3 Bushy Nose Plecos) 65 gal goldfish (1 Calico Ryukin; 1 Black Moor; 1 red fantail) 29 gal misc ( 10 platys; 1 Rio-Negro Pleco) Platys; started with 3… Anyway, I have a 150 gal (48" x 24" x 30") which is approaching the end of a fishless cycle. Originally, the plan was an Oscar and sailfin Pleco. Or a bichir and suitable mates. Filtration is Eheim 2227 and 2 x Emperor 400 hob. The new idea is a brackish system with a Violet Goby and Mollies (possibly something else compatible... bumblebee goby?)
<Possibly, but BBGs are fiddly to feed, whereas Violet Gobies are "gulp" feeders, so I'd choose one or the other. Violet Gobies are much more fun though, so I'd go with them if you have the space. Basically, Violet Gobies get along with anything that leaves them alone, and if adequately fed won't even eat livebearer fry. Mollies are basically easy-going, except that can be a bit hard on other similar-looking fish, such as Guppies. One nice thing is that Mollies and Violet Gobies are both algae-eaters in part, so adding algae wafers every few days will feed both species adequately well on those days, and you can offer bloodworms and brine shrimps on the other days. As for tankmates, you have a lot of space in 150 gallons, so you could go with a small group of Monos or Scats, or an Archerfish (these tend to be a bit territorial *in aquaria* if not in the wild, so most easily kept singly unless you have a large group of them, say 5 or more). Green Chromides would be another option; very pretty schooling fish, but not so easy to get as their small cousins, Orange Chromides, that would of course do equally well, especially in a decent sized group that minimised any territorial aggression -- unlike the social Greens, Orange Chromides seem to form pairs and hold territories. Other options that wouldn't compete with the Violet Goby include Siamese Tiger Fish (yes, some are brackish fish) and any number of Sleeper Gobies. I'd be leery of either Pufferfish (often nippy towards Violet Gobies, though the Figure-8 might work) and Colombian Shark Catfish, which would likely compete strongly for the same sorts of food, so you'd need to get the Violet Goby feeding freely first before combining them. For some other ideas, check out my FAQ, here:
There are really too many brackish water species in the trade to list here, though getting hold of specific species or varieties can be tricky. You may want to choose options that tolerate seawater conditions, with a view to upgrading the tank in due course. That's what many people do.>
Conditions: pH: 7.7 - 8.2 (range of tap) Hardness (ppm): always > 200 (have seen it approach 300) Alkalinity: always high ( > 200 ppm)
<All sounds fine for brackish.>
My concerns are: 1. Tank decorations include three pieces of driftwood (one rather large piece) and a few sprigs of water sprite (to help with acclimating). Would the driftwood have any adverse effect on the brackish system?
<Not with you level of hardness, no. Wouldn't bank on the plants doing well that deep down the water column though -- the tank lighting doesn't look very strong. Do also bear in mind that once you get above SG 1.003 few commonly traded plants do well, and above SG 1.005, hardly any. Unless I was going for the "taste of salt" type aquarium (which is perfectly viable for low-end brackish systems) I wouldn't bother with plants. Bogwood, rocks, oyster shells and other maritime clutter will produce a more authentic look. Again, see my FAQ.>
2. Will converting the tank destroy the beneficial bacteria already established? (Assuming I should do this over the course of two or three weeks).
<Freshwater bacteria will do fine up to about SG 1.003, even if salinity is changed all in one go. But above that go in small changes of salinity upwards, perhaps SG 1.003 to 1.004 one week, to 1.005 the next, so the bacteria can change. Precisely when and how this happens is obscure, but people who up the salinity too much in one go often have a filter/water quality problem.>
3. The substrate is rounded pebble. Should I drain and make it sand? Or will it work as it is?
<Violet Gobies prefer sand, yes, but if the gravel is smooth and fine enough for burrowing, they won't mind. A mix of about 30% gravel, 70% sand does, I think, look especially authentic, like a river bed, and the gravel helps to tone down the brightness of new sand (as sand ages in aquaria, it darkens).>
4. Will converting to a brackish system make my currently high levels too extreme?
<No. Brackish water fish thrive on hardness and high pH levels, in the case of mid to high salinity species, often tolerating higher hardness, pH and even salinity levels than marine fish!>
Notes: I do not want to fight against my water conditions. If I am blessed (cursed) with high pH and alkalinity, I would like to stay in that area. (Sometimes makes me sad since I would love to see some Clown Loaches as pets).
<Brackish is not your only option. There are LOTS of freshwater fish that thrive in hard water. Here are a couple article that I've written on the topic:
There are plenty of adaptable species like Danios and Corydoras that will do perfectly well in "liquid rock", especially the farmed species widely sold today. X-Ray Tetras are perhaps the pick of the bunch -- they look like classic delicate soft water fish from South America, but they inhabit coastal streams and can supposedly tolerate 35 degrees dH, which is much, MUCH harder than Lake Malawi! A big school of those in the planted tank with a few species of Corydoras at the bottom, some Bristlenose Plecs for algae duty, and maybe a school of Endler's or Common Guppies at the top of the tank, and you'd have a lovely community aquarium!>
One other q before I go: The 65gal from above. I am looking to add three dojo (weather) loaches. Some sites say they work great with goldfish. I tend to shy away from adding _anything_ with goldfish. Do you have an opinion?
<Mixing Weather Loaches with standard (non-fancy) Goldfish is fine, assuming water quality is good -- the problem for many unfortunate loaches is that the average Goldfish keeper doesn't keep their Goldfish aquarium terribly well! But provided you have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, and do the usual 25% water changes every week or so, Weather Loaches will cohabit with Goldfish (which are, when all is said and done, basically big cyprinids like minnows or barbs). Fancy Goldfish are a bit more of a mixed bag. The hardy, robust varieties like Black Moors and Common Fantails that can swim and feed reasonably well should be okay, but I wouldn't combine the more exotic Fancies with anything other than their own kind -- Lionheads with Lionheads, Ranchus with Ranchus, and so on.>
Thank you in advance for the information and hope I am not too wordy! Attached a (bad) photo of the tank.
<Glad to help! Neale.>

Re: New Brackish Tank (Bob, and some Goldfish compatibility stuff too!); BR stkg. f'      7/16/13
Hi there,
I wanted to say thank you for the previous email's information and wanted to ask a few more questions.
Since the last email, I have changed the tank quite a bit. Added slate and sand to parts of the tank as well as a rocky bed along the back corner. I have also added a tunnel/cave in anticipation of the violet goby (I hope he/she appreciates the work placed into the hiding spot). Salinity is approx. 1.007 and levels are, once again, nearing safe levels (tank was drained, redecorated, and salt added). Filtration is same. Your comments from the last email have me thinking a lot. I am still looking at a violet goby and sailfin molly mix, though I have been looking in the lines of scat and mono's.
<All good fish, and not incompatible, if their social and dietary needs are considered.>
Let me present my thoughts/ questions as numbered items since it helps me to organize (hope it makes the answering easier).
1. Will the goby exist in harmony with the scat (or will he be considered food once the scat gets larger)?
<Violet Gobies and Scats get along well, and pose no real threat to one another. However, Scats are very greedy fish, so do ensure both species get enough to eat. Sinking algae wafers may be helpful here (Violet Gobies enjoy them) as well as "planktonic" foods like brine shrimps that the Scat can't monopolise.>
2. I have read sources which say scats (and monos) need higher salinity levels as they mature. Others say they do not. Would these be healthy to keep in a low brackish range with the goby?
<They will be fine at anything from SG 1.005 upwards, provided carbonate hardness and pH are sufficiently high.>
3. After reading about monos, I am concerned about territory issues as they grow. A group of 5 (with a scat) seem like quite a load on the tank size (150 gallon). (Tank is deep as well. Only 4 ft long).
<Monos can be tricky, it's true, but if reared together and there's added disruption in the form of the Scat, they should be okay in 150 gallons.>
4. Currently I have some Java Fern, Wisteria, and Water Sprite in the tank.
Assuming my salinity can raise just a little more and these guy will still survive? (~1.01)
<Probably not. Remove before they die.>
5. Assuming I should only look at one Scat with this tank size? (Can you tell I am hesitant in overpopulating the tank. I have never seen anything good come from a cramped or populous tank).
<Scats are big and messy, so with the Monos, you'd probably want to stick with a single Scat; of the varieties sold, the Silver Scat is generally the more modest sized (only gets to15-20 cm/6-8 inches). The Common Scat (identical with the Red or Ruby Scat, even though as babies they look different) gets to 20 cm/8 inches at least, potentially more.>
Thank you again for the assistance. Lots of information on the site and I have learned quite a bit. Just sometimes need to ask the questions before I make a mistake. Attached photos of new design. Cut them down to size for email. Hope they are not too small.
<Nice tank. Would spend some time looking at (underwater) photos of mangrove roots and oyster reefs, as well as harbours, to get some ideas about a more "brackish" look, though what you're doing, with plastic plants, could wok just fine! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: New Brackish Tank (Bob, any insight into Scat/Mono behaviour from your obs. in the wild?)      8/2/13
Yet another hello!
Had a quick question concerning a, seemingly, odd behavior.
<I will respond here and place your query in Neale's in-box; he's out till 8/6>
My violet goby (the ninja hiding master) has slowly started to come out during the day.
This evening I was taking in the opportunity to admire him as he was hanging on the glass (top of the tank actually).
The Monos have been very curious about him (but lose interest quickly upon approach). The silver scat on the other hand has decided to become quite the fin nipper!
<Not atypical w/ Selenotoca>
I have not read anywhere they had this behavior. The scat has _never_ acted aggressive toward any of the Monos.
<They're faster; more aware>
The goby arrived with some tattered tail fins so, until now,  I had not thought anything out of the ordinary.
I will, obviously, continue to observe the behavior in the tank but was wondering if you had encountered Scat/Goby aggression before?
<Yes; they're curious animal species; like to "examine" everything... with their mouths, eyes>
Would there be steps I could take to reduce this?
<Really best to do as you state below... The other fishes here are too likely to outcompete the Goby for foods as well>
I am looking at "alternative" housing, but options are thin.
(55g planted with rainbows, Plecs, and platys) and (65 goldfish / loach) are not good candidates.
I do have a 35g, with the mollies. SG: 1.003 (cube-like tank 24wx18dx22t) which is an option, but very small for the goby.
<I might try moving the Scat here for a few weeks... see if this takes some of the "vinegar" out of it>
29g "other" with some plants and platys but they could be moved if needed.
Am I "jumping the gun" or did I get a foul-tempered scat? (or one that is just curious as to what this wiggling thing is that looks like food?)
Oh, Scat is around 2 inch and goby is around 6 inch though I don't feel size is ever a real issue (just talk to a puffer!).
<Mmm, well then; at this size, either one could go in with the mollies for quite a while>

Other than this, life is well and the Monos are still voracious eaters!
Always hungry and never leave a scrap! Feeding them multiple small meals.
Is it easy to overfeed them?
<Not really no; they swim off all categories in short order>
I read they require a good bit of food since they are quite active and metabolism is higher at the temperature they are in.
<Ah yes>
Continual gratitude,
-Douglas A. Dunn
<As continuous welcomes. Bob M. Fenner>

new 55 gal brackish, set-up, stkg.   12/17/10
Hi Neale,
I have my new 55gal brackish aquarium set up.
<Kept at a real low salinity, I take it? 5 grammes/litre, for a specific gravity about 1.002-1.003 at 25 C/77 F.>
I've been adding the pinches of flake food ever couple of days as you suggested (for nearly a week now) and so, minus the heaters (which I'll have in the next day or so) and the plants which are on their way, the tank is set up.
I'm wondering though if I should add a platy or two? I know they are tolerable to lower temperatures and I'm wondering if this might help the cycling process along?
<May well do, but don't you already have some mollies? Mollies are good fish for new brackish and marine aquaria. Much hardier in such conditions than they are in freshwater. Platies will do okay in slightly brackish water too, at the salinity listed above. Limia nigrofasciata are among my favourite livebearers for slightly brackish tanks, but you could also use Wrestling Halfbeaks or even Endler Guppies in the same way.>
Like I said I'll have the heaters in a few days and I could wait until then or should I wait even longer to add any fish?
<Don't add any fish until you have the right temperature in the tank, but as you've noted Platies, especially Variatus Platies, can tolerate cool water remarkably well. Xiphophorus variatus can tolerate water down to about 15 C, and here in England they're sometimes sold as coldwater fish and make a great alternative to Goldfish.>
I had a friend of mine suggest using Zeolite. Are you familiar with it?
Do you think it's a good product?
<In certain situations, like hospital tanks where a biological filter can't be used.>
I've heard/read that it traps ammonia and eventually becomes part of your biofiltration. Should I use it during cycling?
Should I use it at all?
Another thing I was wondering about is if I do a complete fishless cycle in my tank will I still have ammonia spikes whilst adding the fish?
<Shouldn't do. Ammonia is ammonia, and provided you've added enough pinches of flake to match the amount you'd give the first batch of fish, it makes no difference whether the flake went through the gut of a fish or simply decayed through bacterial action on the gravel.>
Could the Zeolite be beneficial then?
Also I've been adding small amounts of marine salt each week to my freshwater aquarium during water changes for the fish but also for the filter since I am planning on switching over that filter and using it in my
55gal as well rather then keeping the 10gal up and running. If I add all the salt at once I've read that you say it wouldn't harm the fish since brackish water fish are accustomed to sudden changes in salinity but could it kill all the beneficial bacteria in my established filter?
<Changing from 1.000, i.e., freshwater, up to 1.002, i.e., slightly brackish water, will not stress filter bacteria.>
And if that's the case at what point would it be safe for me to switch the filter to the 55gal(which has about 1 1/2 tbls of salt per gallon)?
<Please don't use teaspoons or tablespoons for measuring out salinity. Far too risky! Salt absorbs water from the air over time, so spoonfuls steadily become less and less salty and more and more watery, even though they all look the same. The easy approach is to use a hydrometer, a floating glass one will cost about $5. At 25 C/77 F, the right specific gravity for this set up will be 1.002. Alternatively, weigh out the salt. You're aiming for 5 grammes per litre, or 0.65 oz per US gallon. You can download a Windows
and Mac application on my website that shows you how salinity, temperature and specific gravity are related, and the program works in both metric and US units.
Compared to spoonfuls, weights are much more reliable, and a hydrometer gives you a pretty good indication of specific gravity provided the water temperature in each bucket is close to 25 C. Do read here, on my Brackish FAQ:
Should I raise my fresh water tank to that level of salt and then switch the filter or could I do that sooner?
<Shouldn't make a huge difference either way, given the very low salinity we're dealing with here.>
Also a question about tankmates for my mollies platies and blue Acara (when I get it). Could I add a Betta?
<No, none of the traded Betta species comes from brackish water. There is a brackish water Betta known as the Mahachai Betta that comes from slightly brackish swamps. However, it isn't much traded, and you're only likely to see it if you're a member of a Betta club.>
How about a rainbow or fiddler crab?
<Neither of these are aquarium residents, both need a vivarium with mostly land. On top of that, Rainbow crabs will catch, eat small fish.>
How about some sort of shrimp maybe or Algae Eater?
<Cherry Shrimps and Amano Shrimps thrive in slightly brackish water, and in fact I keep some of my Cherry Shrimps in a slightly brackish system with Limia nigrofasciata and they breed constantly! Shrimps are good for algae control, but supplement them with Nerite snails for a good all-around algae-control combination, around one Nerite per 4-5 gallons, possibly slightly more depending on how quickly algae grows in this system.
Algae-eating catfish do not belong in a brackish water system, but you might try Florida Flagfish, wonderful little fish rather like territorial dwarf cichlids in personality. They feast on algae, and get along fine with Acara and Livebearers.>
I don't mean to add all of these but if I were to add one or two which would be compatible and how many would you recommend?
Thanks a ton!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: new 55 gal brackish  12/17/10
That does help! Thanks!
I'll be buying a hydrometer asap. Online if I can't find one around.
<Indeed. Weighing salt will do. Measuring teaspoons almost never works reliably.>
I do have mollies so I suppose I should switch them over first.
So once I get the heaters and raise the temp I should add the mollies? Say 3 of them?
I'm loving the cherry shrimp idea. How many of these should I get.
<A big swarm, at least six, preferably 10 or more to start with.>
You were saying they breed well so would 2 females and 2 males suffice?
<Doesn't seem to work that way. While you might be okay, chances are in a 55 gallon tank they'd simply lose one another. Get sufficient that they can form a school, and that behaviour will keep them together. Certainly no fewer than six. They're cheap as chips, so get as many as your budget can stand, that'd be my advice. They look really good in big swarms.>
Also I have a few plants ordered like I said (java moss, java fern, Anubias) will the shrimp eat or harm any of these plants?
<Neither Nerite snails nor Cherry shrimps should harm healthy plants.>
I really like the shrimp because I wanted something different for the tank.
Any other tank mate suggestions? Gobies maybe?
<Bumblebees could be an option, though they might eat baby shrimps. Knight Gobies certainly will eat shrimps as well as small fish, up to about the size of a male guppy.>
Or perhaps clown loaches?
<Not a brackish water fish. Horseface Loaches, on the other hand, can be kept in slightly brackish water.>
I would like one more kind of fish. I know you mentioned glassfish in an earlier email but I'm not so fond of those.
<Glassfish are fun in gangs because they tend to lunge at each other, I guess figuring out who's top dog. They do lack colour, and some folks prefer brightly coloured fish. In that case, look at any hard water Rainbowfish you like, as all should thrive at SG 1.002. Melanotaenia boesemani is particularly popular and does well in slightly brackish water.
Madagascar Rainbowfish and Celebes Rainbowfish will also do well. I mentioned Florida Flagfish as something else you might consider, and another killifish that could work would be the Asian Killifish, often traded in its Golden Wonder form. Although predatory and territorial, it handles itself alongside Mollies rather well. Does need floating plant cover and a corner with a gentle current to be happy. Do read some more on brackish fish options here at WWM and on my Brackish FAQ, and you may well find my book useful too.
The list of brackish water fish in the trade is extremely long, and far more impressive than many assume.>
Any suggestions would be great. Thanks again! You've been lots of help!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: new 55 gal brackish, stkg.  -- 12/19/10

Ok, I'm warming up to the glassfish idea. Especially in a gang of 6 or so.
That could be neat.
<Can indeed. They are very effective predators though, and small fish, such as Molly fry, will be eaten.>
What about a rainbow shark?
<Cannot be kept in brackish conditions.>
Would he eat the shrimp?
<No, but not really an option here.>
So far I'm looking at :
1 Blue Acara
6 glassfish
8-10 cherry shrimp
And I have:
3 mollies
2 platies
As well as:
10 Molly fry
4 platy fry
(The fry range from 4-12 weeks)
<These should all work well, with the proviso that adult Glassfish can, will eat any juveniles they can fit in their mouths; realistically, up to about an inch or so in length.>
What do you think? It's not over populated is it? I don't want to have too many fish either cause I'd like to continue raising Molly and Platy fry.
<Ah, in that case skip the Glassfish. Wrestling Halfbeaks and Limia nigrofasciata would make good companions. Cichlids are generally inept predators, so while the Acara will eat some fry, its impact should be minimal.>
Eventually I'm pretty sure I'll have to give some away but for now I'd like to raise a few more.
<A worthy goal, and rearing fry to maturity is harder than many assume, even in the case of "easy" fish like Mollies.>
Alrighty, thanks AGAIN! :)
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: stocking and scaping new 55 gal brackish   12/22/10

lol. So I'll skip the glass fish then. So many ideas! Hard to decide!
<That's the fun!>
I like the halfbeaks idea and seeing they're livebearers that would be a really neat addition! Another challenge to see if I could raise some of their fry!
<Much written about them here at WWM; halfbeaks are my favourite fish, and I routinely keep, breed them at home.
So I picked up some driftwood yesterday. (from the beach, I live very near the ocean... I can see it :) so I boiled it now I'm soaking it. One piece I picked up is too large to boil and I'm a little afraid of the bleach and soak method. For now I have it soaking in my tub. I've been filling the tub with really hot water when it cools I drain it and fill it up again. Could I just do this a few times and it be safe for the tank?
<Should be. Provided the wood smells clean and not oily or organic, it should be fine.>
It's really smooth, sun bleached stuff. No bark, no splinters etc.
I can also get black sand from a beach nearby. Very cool stuff. It's slate sand. All the cliffs and beach are slate. Could I boil this and use it?
<Yes, but I'd use a thin layer initially, to see how things go. It might be too sharp for burrowing fish such as gobies and eels, so choose fish accordingly.>
I'm also wondering if epoxy is a safe adhesive to use?
<Can be, but the safest is aquarium-grade silicone sealant.>
Umm so many questions!
Thanks for the answers!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: stocking and scaping new 55 gal brackish   12/22/10
Hello Neale!
I agree! It is fun picking out fish!
<Indeed it is, Jessica. With brackish water livestock there's a bit more effort involved, but also some unusual species you couldn't keep otherwise, so the trade-off is worthwhile, if you're an advanced aquarist at least.>
Actually I bought some Guppies. I know they're the most common fish almost ever but they're neat and I'm kind of addicted to raising fry which I hear guppies are the millions fish so I wanted to try my hand at them. I got just 4. 1male:3females.
<Should be fine.>
My LFS agreed to take any raised fry for me if my tank gets overstocked, so I'm covered there.
Eventually if the livebearers get out of hand I may then go with the glassfish idea. At least I know what kind of fish to get to keep them under control when need be!
In the mean time I'm going to keep looking for the halfbeaks. (There's none available close by. And when I say close by I mean 5 hours or more, I doubt if they'd make that sort of commute)
<Halfbeaks aren't widely traded, but they are traded, and Wrestling Halfbeaks are on all the Southeast Asian exporters' lists. So asking your local retailer should turn up some specimens if they get stuff from Singapore, etc.>
I may try the sand eventually. For now I'm going to leave the tank alone as it cycles. The black sand is quite smooth ( to my touch anyways) I could walk barefoot on it, as long as it wasn't a hot day! lol
But umm, eels you say? There's an eel I could get? Compatible with my fish?
Livebearers, Acara etc.? That would be neat if you have any suggestions there!
<Peacock Spiny Eels (Macrognathus siamensis, often erroneously Macrognathus aculeatus) should work well. Another option is the Horseface Loach. Both thrive in slightly brackish water. In either case, these are shy, burrowing fish and the Spiny Eel won't eat dry foods, so review their needs carefully before purchase. Notorious jumpers, so keep the tank securely covered.>
Alrighty thanks again Neale!
<Glad to help. Merry Christmas, Neale.>
Re: stocking and scaping new 55 gal brackish   12/25/10

The Horseface loach sounds really neat. Hopefully I'll be able to find one when I want to get one. Selection around here is not the greatest.
<Ah, but there's no need to buy all your fish on Day 1! Let the retailer in your area know what you're after, and see if he/she can bring some specimens in some time.>
In the meantime my male guppy died. His mouth was stuck open yesterday. I searched the net a bit for what it might be but I couldn't see anything stuck in his mouth. When I woke up this morning and found him dead his mouth was still open. Should I be worried for my other fish?
<Well, I tend to be a bit "ho-hum" about dead Guppies and Neons because they're such poor quality generally. If water quality seems good, water chemistry seems right, and everything else in the tank seems happy, I'd simply remove the dead fish and keep a close eye on the tank over the next few days.>
They all seem fine. The ammonia levels in the tank are still very low. So I don't think it has anything to do with the water quality. Maybe stress from transport? New environment, etc.?
<Perhaps, or something else. Difficult to say with fancy Guppies.>
Also should I go out and buy another male or just see if the females are already pregnant? Chances are one of them will birth a male'¦
<Either, but I wouldn't add any new fish for at least 2 weeks, preferably 4. Treat the collection of fish you have know as a "quarantine" of sorts, and wait to make sure everything is hunky-dory. If, by the end of 4 weeks, they're all happy, then yes, feel free to add another male.>
Ok, well... Thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>

Overstocked?    9/8/10
Hi, love your site. Learned so much from just reading.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a 55 gallon brackish tank. sg 1.015. Aragonite and live sand as substrate. Dead corals for decoration and some plastic plants. Coralife 9 watt uv sterilizer, Fluval 305 canister filter.
<Not enough filtration. You need at least another Fluval 305 to get the right sort of turnover in a tank this size. Fluval 305 has a pump rated at 260 gallons/hour (actually turnover is apparently 185 gallons/hour). For big fish like these that come from high water current environments, you want a turnover of at least 8 times the volume of the tank per hour, i.e.,
440 gallons/hour. Realistically then, that's two Fluval 305s.>
Stocked with
3 spotted green puffers
1 figure 8
2 silver scats
2 monos
4 black mollies
<Okay. Two things here. Firstly, you're quite a bit overstocked. Scats and Monos are fairly large fish, and even by themselves three Green Spotted Puffers would "fill" a 55 gallon tank. Secondly, your salinity is a bit high for Figure-8s, though the other fish should be fine. In fact, you might consider getting rid of the Figure-8, going up to SG 1.018 and using live rock and a skimmer. Actually, a skimmer works down to about SG 1.010.>
I am constantly cleaning the tank, due to the puffers.
<Insufficient mechanical filtration; as I say, more filtration needed.>
Tested water param.s. Amon. .5, Nitrite .5,
<Again, two many fish, not enough filtration.>
Nitrate 10-15ppm, ph 7.6, dKH about 9 drops to turn it yellow. Temp. 80 degrees.
<Bit too warm; nudge that down to 25 C/77 F.>
Question is, am I overstocked?
<Yes, and under-filtering.>
I just cant seem to get the ammonia and nitrites down to 0
Secondly, Amquel plus claims to make the nitrites and ammonia and nitrates non-toxic for fish and the biological filter can still eat it. Is this only temporary and is it released back into the water column as free ammonia once again. or is it permanent.
<Don't even think about this question. It's totally irrelevant to what you're trying to do.>
Is the dead coral causing problems?
<Clean coral skeletons shouldn't be causing any problems at all. I hope these are from marine aquaria though, and not bought as bleached corals!>
I set it up this way so I could go full marine if I chose to without changing a lot.
<Indeed, and many people do use their brackish water systems this way, eventually combining a few damselfish or lionfish with their brackish water stock.>
Thank you for your time Cliff
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re overstocked?    9/8/10
Thank you for your help Neale.
<My pleasure.>
The corals actually came from a dive off the keys in Florida about 15 years ago. They have never been in aquaria until now. I used a bleach solution to clean them up and let them sit for several weeks before using them in the aquarium.
<Cool. My concern is with the trade in bleached coral skeletons, which is not even remotely sustainable. In fact I believe here in Europe it's illegal, in much the same way as rhino horn or tiger pelts. But if the corals were collected from a beach, they were dead already, so bringing them home is just fine.>
A friend suggested to add a Marineland BioWheels rated for 70 gallons.
although it would help, is it a good idea. (a lot cheaper than another Fluval) .
<Sounds good. You might also consider an undergravel filter, particularly a reverse-flow one, which as Bob Fenner explains elsewhere on this site is one of the best low-cost, low-tech ways to maintain any aquarium, even a marine tank. The good thing about reverse-flow is it pushes waste and faeces up from the substrate into the water column, making it a breeze for your canister filter to keep the tank clean.>
I may just go ahead and go full marine then to add live rock and a skimmer.
Doing this would be ok with the stock that I have then. correct?
<Except for the Figure-8, yes. He's a low-end brackish puffer. Given the size of your tank, thinning it out a little would be no bad idea. I'd also encourage you to go look at Al Auve's tank here:
I've written a piece about his aquarium for an upcoming issue of 'Tropical Fish' here in the UK. It's not just one of the best-looking brackish tanks, but also one of the best-looking aquaria of any kind I've ever seen. A lot of the stuff was DIY, which kept the cost down even if it did increase the labour. He's a member of the Brackish Water Aquarium Mailing List, so if you want to discuss the details, that might be the place to start.
I am so grateful for you and your crew. Thanks a million, Cliff
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Marine, brackish, marine mis-stocking    5/5/10
I believe I have probably the most odd-ball or rarest tank around.
<I'll say.>
I have always been interested in brackish fish but wanted to step outside the box. After a year of homework I think I have found the perfect match.
I currently have a 120 gallon tank with 1 silver scat, A clown fish,
<A reef-dweller, and so far as I know, doesn't occur in brackish water at all.>
1 green scat, shark cat, 1 mono (they school together),
<What, the Mono and the Scat school together? Yes, this does happen, though not necessarily ideal for either.>
2 sergeant Major damsel,
<Only somewhat tolerant of high-end brackish conditions.>
1 jewel cichlid (wild caught),
<Not really a brackish water fish, though tolerant of low-end brackish conditions.>
1 porcupine puffer,
<Diodon spp. are only occasionally found in estuaries.>
1 fuzzy lion fish,
<Likewise, Dendrochirus are occasionally found in estuaries, but it isn't their usual environment.>
and 1 datnoid.
<Again, of the five species, only two are brackish water specialists, and neither of them occurs in marine conditions, so far as I know.>
I acclimated them in separate tanks slowly about a year to be precise.
Bringing brackish up slowly and marine down slowly until they matched salinity (1.13).
<Surely you mean SG 1.013?>
I then joined them together in one tank (120g). All was fine but I decided to get more creative and add some invertebrates.
<Indeed. Fish are "osmoregulators", meaning that all species have some ability to adjust their salt/water balance to match their environment.
You've imposed rather too liberally here for my tastes, but under some conditions, the tolerance *some* fish have for non-optimal salinity is remarkable. Invertebrates are different. Most are "osmoconformers", meaning they have no ability to regulate their salt/water balance. In many cases, as with echinoderms, seawater is essentially used as their bloodstream as well, so they're doubly sensitive to variations in salinity.>
I added red leg hermits,
<Some of which come from estuaries and may be able to adjust to below normal marine salinity.>
Nerite snails,
<Many of which are intertidal and able to adjust to varying salinity.>
chocolate chip starfish,
<Will not adapt to below normal marine salinity!>
electric blue hermits,
<Again, some Clibanarius, including C. tricolour, are known to be adaptable to below normal marine salinity.>
and red wrath anemones.
<No ideas what this is.>
Again all was good but started having problems with nitrates so I bumped up filtration (Fluval fx5, Marineland 350, Skilter 250, and 2 powerheads). I know over kill, but these are going to be big fish.
Ok that's not all. Here is where I become lost. I have just raised salinity back to marine after 1.5 years being brackish. I have added live rock and would like to keep my babies.
<Returning to normal marine salinity is essential here, but I can't see the Datnioides or the Hemichromis lasting long under such conditions.>
I am also upgrading tanks again to a 180g custom with sump. My question is how will my babies be with lps corals, feather dusters, and some more exotic anemones?
<Will vary. Puffers and Porcupinefishes simply view corals and anemones as food, and will also eat tubeworms without a moment's though. Scats and Monos are somewhat reef safe. Colombian Sharks are also reef safe but will eat mobile invertebrates, particularly crustaceans.>
I seen the scats eat upside-down jellyfish and I'm a bit worried about them eating corals and dusters. Have you heard anything about scats and corals or anemones?
<Scats generally don't eat corals and anemones, but if hungry, will nibble at anything. They don't have strong jaws though, so are about as reef-safe as a "good" Butterflyfish species.>
I don't want to separate the fish but will if I have to.
<If you don't, I suspect the laws of biology will separate off some of these fish to the Big Aquarium In The Sky.>
It just took so long to get my project to this level. Please give some good advise.
<I've done what I can.>
<It's hugely tempting to create fun brackish-plus-marine collections, and if planned carefully, such tanks can be real eye-openers to those who haven't seen these species combined. Rather than collecting "one of everything" though, I'd recommend you looked a bit more carefully at the species you have, and maybe remove some to make space for some real oddballs. Here in England you can find things like Congresox talabonoides and Platycephalus indicus in some shops, and while sold as brackish water fish, they'd be better in marine tanks.
In a fish-only or FOWLR tank such oddball species would be fantastically weird companions for Monos and Scats. More easily perhaps, there are genuine marine/brackish puffers out there, including various Arothron, Chelonodon and Takifugu species, and these would do rather better than Diodon spp. Likewise, while there are some cichlids that adapt to saltwater conditions -- in the wild as well as in aquaria -- most of them can't. Hemichromis bimaculatus isn't among the marine-tolerant species so far as I know, though interestingly its close relatively Hemichromis letourneuxi is one species that can adapt to marine and even hypersaline conditions, and there's so much uncertainty about what species exists in the trade, and whether they're hybrids rather than species anyway, it's difficult to know precisely how long your Hemichromis will last in saltwater conditions.
I'm worried that in trying to be too off-the-wall, you're actually stressing, and likely killing, some of the fish and many of the invertebrates you have. As you understand, the overlap between brackish water and marine fishkeeping is huge and under-appreciated. But at the same time, there really are many animals best kept in either one or the other conditions. Sit down, read some more, and think carefully about what you're trying to achieve here. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish tank inquiry... set up, stkg... mistakes... leaping before looking...    7/11/09
Dear WWM,
I have a ten gallon freshwater tank, in which I have kept a Java loach, and two firebellied toads for almost two years. Recently I transferred them all to a friends house while I was on vacation so that she could watch them for me, and the toads managed to squeeze through the gaps in the tank and, essentially, "run away".
<Ah, in other words, ended up dried out on the carpet. Scientist that I am, I tend to avoid euphemisms where possible, because they often allow us to dodge reality and avoid responsibility. Yes, amphibians should always be kept in tanks with tight-fitting hoods.>
After this, I decided to make the tank a full tank, and add some new fish. My choices were a snail, some ghost shrimp (the loach got used to eating the crickets that were meant for the toads, and has refused to eat pellets and flakes since they disappeared, so they're for him,) a Pleco, and of course, a 3" Silver-tipped Shark.
<Shrimps and snails make great choices for 10-gallon tanks. But a Plec? Or Sciades seemanni? Insane choices! Plecs get to a good 45 cm in length within two years, and the Sciades only a bit less. In any event, Sciades seemanni is a migratory, schooling fish that needs a lot of space as well as tankmates of its own kind; kept singly, they invariably become neurotic, pacing water in one corner of the tank, and clearly unhappy. Within the group they make all kinds of audible clicks and other sounds, so it's obvious they're constantly "talking" to one another; without the comfort of other members of their own species, singletons must have a pretty miserable life.>
Upon getting home, I decided to do some research beyond what the pet store told me, and stumbled across the knowledge that my shark is doomed to a slow death if I don't transfer him to brackish water, and eventually a larger tank.
<The old mistake of doing research after buying the fish. Yes, Sciades seemanni is a big fish that needs brackish water. Of course, I'm assuming your Silver-tip shark is Sciades seemanni, as opposed to the non-brackish, but equally big and gregarious Silver Shark Balantiocheilus melanopterus.>
Now, the larger tank I can scrounge up fairly easily in time, but I was wondering if the other fish would be alright in brackish water.
<What other fish? The shrimps and the snails are Shark Catfish food; as for the Plec, no, it can't be kept in brackish water, and no, loaches can't either. So, all pretty simply. If you add enough marine salt mix (not tonic salt, cooking salt or aquarium salt) for the Sciades seemanni to be healthy, you'll kill the other fish. Juvenile Sciades seemanni are happy around SG 1.005 at 25 C, which is about 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre; adults will need around half-strength seawater up to fully marine conditions; aim for SG 1.010 at 25 C, or about 15.5 grammes of marine salt mix per litre.>
I looked around to see what I could find, and most of the sites I found only seem to list things like how to breed them, how big they get, what they eat, etc. I know that I'll have to move at least the shark soon (this is day one of him being in my tank, and he seems lethargic already,) unless the others can handle the brackish water he needs.
<The eat primarily molluscs and crustaceans in the wild, so squid, cockles, mussels and prawns all work well, as will small portions of white fish (frozen lancefish are ideal). Keep the diet varied to avoid problems with thiaminase (mussels and prawns contain a lot of this dangerous enzyme).
They generally take good quality catfish pellets readily. Aquarium specimens generally get to about 20 cm or so in length, but they can get bigger. Breeding doesn't occur in captivity.>
Also, if I do end up needing another tank to move him into immediately, I want to know which of the other fish, if any, I could move into it with him.
<Sciades seemanni get along extremely well with other brackish water fish of similar size: Monos, Scats, Archerfish, Green Chromides, etc. They also work well in marine aquaria with non-aggressive Damsels, Tangs, Angelfish, Lionfish, etc.>
I don't want to buy more Silver-tips,
<Not an option really; these are very sociable fish that need to be kept in groups of at least three specimens.>
since they do grow so large, but I can't stand the thought of returning him to the store that sold him to me, and abandoning him to his fate. Thanks in advance for whatever help you can give me. :)
Oh, in retrospect (seem to be doing that a lot today) is the fact that he's venomous actually a danger to my other fish?
<No danger at all; only a danger to you, if you net the thing clumsily and jab yourself on his pectoral and dorsal fin spines. These fish, though predators, are extremely gentle towards anything they cannot swallow whole.>
The loach has been known to pester his tankmates.
<Well, he won't be in the brackish water aquarium, so shouldn't be an issue.>
Thanks so much for reading this,
<Do please read around the subject of brackish water fishkeeping, either here in WWM, or in my book, Brackish-Water Fishes, which your library might be able to get, even if you don't want to buy a copy. Cheers, Neale.>

Tank mates (brackish, freshwater; selection) -- 6/14/09
We have 3 tanks. 55 gallon, 29 gallon, and 20 gallon. The 55 gallon has 2 Plecos, 2 Raphael's, 3 guppies, 4 small regular Gourami's, 5 dwarf Gourami's, 7 small angel fish, 4 kuhlii loaches, 3 horse face loaches, 3
serpae tetras, 3 transparent tetras, 2 red Dalmatian Mollies, 3 common platys, 1 sword tail platy.
<That's quite a collection! I wouldn't recommend mixing Serpae tetras with Angelfish or Guppies though, as Serpaes are notorious fin-nippers.>
The 29 gallon has 1 horseface loach, 1 Beta, approx 20 neon tetras, 5 Glo fish, 3 serpae tetras, 2 common platys.
<Keeping Serpae tetras with Bettas (note the double "t", it rhymes with "better") is another no-no.>
The 20 gallon has 1 green spotted puffer, 3 Dalmatian Mollies, 4 tiger barbs and 1 small algae eater.
<What's an "algae eater"? Do you mean Pterygoplichthys sp "Plec" or a Sucking Loach, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? Neither of these will live in a 20 gallon tank for more than few months, and Gyrinocheilus aymonieri is infamous for becoming extremely aggressive when sexually mature at around 20 cm/8 inches. Both these fish get to 30 cm/12 inches in length, and even the 55 gallon tank will be cramped.>
We have been slowly turning the 20 gallon tank to brackish water and it's about full brackish now and all of the fish seem to be doing fine, even the tiger barbs and algae eater.
<If this tank is full brackish, the barbs would be dead. So what do you mean here? Adding a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon isn't "full brackish". Even at a low level for brackish water fish, say, a specific
gravity of 1.005 at 25 degrees C, that's 9 grammes (about three level teaspoons) of marine salt mix per litre of water, 1.2 ounces per US gallon.
The Green Spotted Puffer will of course get much too big for a 20 gallon tank; adults are around 15 cm/6 inches in length.>
Do I need to move anything from the 20 gallon to another tank?
<Yes; the barbs and the "algae eater" whatever it might be. Nerite snails are (by far) the best algae eaters for brackish water tanks, but Puffers do tend to view snails as food, so this is a risky move.>
If so, which of the tanks would they fair best in? Also, I would like to get a dragon goby to put in the 20 gallon tank. Would this be acceptable?
<Not a chance. Again, Gobioides broussonnetii is a big fish, in fact one of the biggest gobies of all, getting to 50 cm/20 inches in the wild. As such, it needs a big tank, 55 gallons being a fair choice for a single specimen.
It's a poor choice for life with a Pufferfish, given how aggressive mature Green Spotted Puffers tend to be.>
Thanks, Pam
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tank mates (brackish, freshwater; selection) -- 6/14/09
I haven't just been using regular aquarium salt in the 20 gallon. It's marine salt.
<Good stuff! Don't use regular aquarium salt at all; it's plain cooking salt, and I don't need to tell you the sea (or brackish water habitats) aren't just cooking salt and water! Aquarium salt is specifically for use as a medication for freshwater fish. It has no value in either brackish or saltwater aquaria.>
I will test my water better and get back with you. In the mean time, are you saying the dragon goby would do ok in the 55 gallon fresh water tank?
<Definitely not saying this! Dragon/Violet Gobies (Gobioides broussonnetii)
may last a few weeks or even months in freshwater aquaria, but they invariably sicken and die prematurely. So unless in the very short term -- i.e., a few weeks while you're re-jigging your aquaria to free up the 55 gallon as a brackish water system -- I would recommend strongly against adding the Goby to the a freshwater tank.>
Also, I know the Serpaes don't usually mix with the angels and such, but they have been ok so far. Are you suggesting I should remove them anyway?
<Serpae tetras were my very first tropical fish. I quickly learned that they attacked Angelfish and Gouramis. They actually have a feeding frenzy, and you'll often see shredded fins in tanks containing just Serpae tetras, especially the long-finned variety. I'd recommend only ever keeping them alone, or with things that hide all the time, such as nocturnal catfish or loaches. I honestly don't recommend them at all as community fish. Hardy and pretty yes, but well behaved, often not. As always, your own experiences will vary, but if you see damage to the fins of other fish, or suddenly find yourself having to deal with Finrot because a fish has been nipped, you'll have your answer.>
Also, will the barbs be ok with the fish that are in one of my other two tanks?
<Tiger Barbs tend to be nippy, especially when kept in insufficient numbers (less than ten). So again, choose tankmates very carefully. Like Serpae tetras, Tiger barbs are not a species are recommended, and indeed most aquarium books will state clearly "not with long-finned or slow-moving fish" or words to that effect. On the other hand, Tiger Barbs work great with tetras, barbs, loaches and other fast-moving fish.>
Thanks, for your help. I love my fish and don't want to hurt any of them,
<Jolly well hope not!>
but as you can see, I like a wide assortment.
<That's fine, and in fact part of the fun of the hobby. It's like being zoo keeper who gets to collect all kinds of fun animals. But do review their needs prior to purchase. If you don't have a book to hand, and you can't find anything here at WWM that helps, feel free to ask us about a fish on offer at your pet store. We're not selling anything, unlike the guy at the store, so our advice is as unbiased as can be.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish Stocking -- 05/03/09
Hi. First off, I find your site very informative and helpful. For one, I was about to use Zeolite in my brackish tank, but found out it would pump ammonia into my tank...
My 29gl set up is as follows...
- 3 Juvy monos and a goby.
- ph 8.0 SG 1.008
1) I was thinking of sealing the openings of the tank, adding a turtle dock and putting some fiddler crabs in there. Would the monos/goby eat them?
<Given half a chance, yes. More specifically, Fiddlers really aren't going to be happy on a turtle dock; they're burrowing animals that spend most of their time on land. They work well in tanks with a little water but big mounds of sand and bogwood.>
2) One of the monos bullies the other two to no end. It doesn't seem territorial because he just goes after them wherever they are. I feel like adding more monos but I know as adults they get large and when I upgrade to a larger tank say 55gl, it still wont be large enough for them.
<This is, unfortunately, quite common. I find mixing Monos, West African Monos, and Scats solves the problem. They school together well enough, without actually being violent. In groups of 6+ Monos generally settle down, but it is far from uncommon for people to end up with just a single (or a mated pair) of Monos per tank. All this said, 29 gallons isn't nearly enough for Monos; realistically, you'll want a tank twice that size.>
3) I could add Mollies to the tank but I've read in some cases, gobies attack them as well.
<Knight Gobies are predatory and certainly will eat small fish. They're not really nippy though, and given sufficient space, Sailfin Mollies should work fine with them.>
4) Donate my monos somewhere and restock the tank using the goby as a guide for suitable tankmates (suggestions?). I am not married to the monos and I find the goby very charming...
<Knight Gobies are actually very good in groups, when you see some of their midwater territorial behaviour. They also work well with Glassfish, Orange Chromides, small Archerfish species (such as Toxotes microlepis, though this prefers a lower salinity, SG 1.005 or less). Other compatible goby
species include Butis butis and Violet/Dragon Gobies. At a low salinity (SG 1.003) you could also keep Asian killifish, Florida Flagfish, and catfish such as Hoplosternum littorale or the "small" variety of Mystus gulio.>
I suppose I could try 1) - 4) above and monitor all this for a few hours but I wanted to see what you think before I add anything else to the tank.
<Do peruse my Brackish FAQ for some comments and thoughts on other brackish water fish, here:
Thanks in advance
<Cheers, Neale.>

Question about Brackish Tank, stkg.  5-10-09
I had emailed before when I had figure 8 puffers and a Pleco together in a Brackish tank.
My Puffers seemed healthy up until the last day and then died.
The Pleco seems to be doing well and thriving in the brackish water.
I am wondering how long I should wait after 2 fish have died to add any new ones.
<It is good to figure out why your fish originally died before adding more.>
Also what fish would you recommend for a 26 gallon brackish water tank with the Pleco that are hardy fish.
I have looked up a little information and was recommended these species:
Etroplus suratensis, Etroplus maculatus, Datnioides microlepis, Poecilia species
<I would not recommend the Etroplus suratensis (Green Chromide) because they get very large and a 26 gallon tank is not large enough. The Etroplus maculatus (Orange Chromide) would be great for your tank. The Datnoides microlepis (Fine scale tigerfish) also get too large for a 26 gallon tank.
Of the Poecilia species I would recommend the short-finned molly (Poecilia sphenops). They would do well in your brackish 26 gallon tank with plenty of room to spare.>
What combination of these fish would you recommend and how many of each species?
<You could easily get 5-7 short-finned molly's and maybe 1 or 2 of the orange Chromide. Both fish species are non-aggressive.>
Thank you, you guys are amazing!
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Advice for brackish with marines -- 02/19/09 I have a 75 gallon brackish tank which I've converted to saltwater over the last year. stocked with 3 green scats, 1 Monodactylus argenteus, 2 Gymnothorax tile morays, many snails and 2 Sailfin mollies. SG of 1.022. currently shopping for larger (150 gallon) tank as the scats are getting very big. I would like to add marine fish to my tank but unsure how they will mix with my brackish fish. <In my personal opinion a 150 gallon tank will be quite well stocked with what you have already. Scats as well as Monos produce a copious amount of waste, as may the morays, which when grown may try to eat at least the Sailfins, maybe some the others, too. If you disagree with my opinion in terms of enough space for further additions, only choose assertive species and fast eaters, which can compete with the Scats and are large enough to be safe from the eels. Such fish mix well with the species you have.> Are Scats or Monos reef safe? <Scats have often been used to clear marine tanks of algae and even Cyano bacteria, Monos are also commonly seen in large, public FOWLR tanks. However, both are known to sometimes pick on coral polyps and in a home aquarium of 150 gallons I believe the damage they can do will be too much for the corals to survive. Also, the waste they produce will make it difficult to let any but the least demanding corals grow. You can try some small frags from a friend, maybe mushroom polyps, but don't expect too much.> or should i try sticking with fish only or a FOWLR tank? <These options have better chances for success.> thanks for your advice, not much literature on scats or monos in marine tanks. <No, because this combination is only common in very large, public FO and FOWLR setups where both can be kept in larger groups.> Brian <Cheers, Marco.>

Puffers/Turtles/Overstocking=Doomed Tank  -- 10/24/07 Yeah, I'm new with the whole "fish thing" and I have 2 turtles, one soft (size of a 1/2 dollar) and red eared (sized of a quarter), I also have two fiddler crabs, 13 tiger barbs, 2 gourami, 2 fire mouth cichlids, 7 pretty feeder fish and a fat guppy, 2 Chinese sucker fish, and 2 zebra danios.... <OMG! Not all in the same tank with the 3 GSPs?!!!> I know, I have WAY too many fish, and my LFS said it would be fine (obviously) to have all these fish (except put the turtles in a giant aquarium or kiddie pool when they get bigger.... <You know but you do this anyway? I don't get it. Turtles eat fish. They need to be removed. Anything that takes a bite of those puffers will die. > I definitely cannot afford to get a bigger tank. <Well, you already know the turtles need a huge tank.> or even any size to put the other fishes in. I can't sell them back either because I love them. What should I do? Are they all just going to die? <Yes, everything in your tank will die from being poisoned by their own waste (No amount of water changes can keep up with what you are housing) or eaten by the turtles & puffers. Forget about how much you "love" them (if you truly loved them, you would have researched their needs first) or whether the shop will give you any money for them. Return the puffers, feeders (do not belong with tropical fish), turtles, crabs (they need some land), at the minimum! ~PP>

Ideal Brackish Livestocking?  9/7/07 Hey WWM crew, I have a 125 gal tank that is brackish (1.015 spec. gravity). It has about 100 gallons of water in it (water level lowered for mudskipper). At the moment, I have a mudskipper (who loves his floating log!) and a fluctuating school of mollies (breeding, eating, breeding, eating...). This tank is at a science museum, and I want to stock it with a good variety of species to demonstrate the awesome, often overlooked species of brackish communities. This will be a whole display area about estuaries and how to protect them. The specific gravity does not have to stay so high (I know to lower it gradually if needed). What would be your "dream team" of brackish fish (and inverts!) in this tank? If you could give me different scenarios for different salinities (that the mudskipper would still be okay with), that would be great. I found the place on the site on "brackish livestock selection", but it only considered smaller tanks for lower salinities. Any help would be greatly appreciated! PS--tank chemistry: ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates always below 40. pH around 7.9. Thank you!!! -Melissa <Hello Melissa. Well, I could start by telling you to get hold of a copy of my book, "Brackish Water Fishes" from TFH. That covers just about all the species you're likely to see in the trade. Over here on WWM, my article "Brackish Livestock Selection" covers three scenarios divided out by salinity as well as tank size. The final set of suggestions specifically covers large, high salinity brackish water aquaria, and is perhaps most relevant to you (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/brlvstk_sel.htm). Now, mudskippers make things a bit complex, because they respond to other fish in particular ways. If the fishes in the tank are too small... they eat them. But if the fishes in the water are big and active, the mudskippers stay on land more of the time, which isn't necessarily good for them. Mixing them with anything other than gobies and livebearers therefore tends to be dodgy. As such, I'd tend to be looking at medium sized things like knight gobies (Stigmatogobius spp.), violet gobies (Gobioides spp.), orange Chromides (Etroplus maculatus), and perhaps (Anableps spp.) if you can get them. Flatfish such as Brachirus and Trinectes spp. would also work well, though they're something fiddly to feed, being nocturnal predators on insect larvae and the like. All these fish would prefer a slightly lower SG, maybe 1.010-1.012, as would, incidentally, your mudskippers. In terms of education value, all of these suggestions exhibit quirky things. Violet gobies are highly specialised to feed on algae and small invertebrates they either get by gulping water or from sifting mud. They have big mouths, tiny but sharp teeth, and rudimentary eyes. They live in muddy estuaries. Anableps have adapted to feed on insect larvae (midges and mosquitoes mainly) that are very common in shallow brackish water. To avoid predators from above they have eyes that see above the waterline. They are livebearers as well. Chromides are cichlids, but of a very primitive sort, and closely resemble the marine ancestors from which the rest of the cichlids evolved. As such, they're a kind of living fossil. They are also among the few non-marine "cleaner fish", picking parasites off larger cichlids, Etroplus suratensis, that live in the same habitat. They generally breed readily in aquaria, and as such are good value to watch. Knight gobies are classic gobies in shape and lifestyle, and given that gobies are perhaps THE definitive brackish water fish group, make a useful addition to the tank. They are rather predatory though, and will quickly work through excess molly fry! If you were feeling adventurous, you could try one of the smaller puffers (Tetraodon biocellatus would be ideal) and even spaghetti eels (Moringua spp.) if your retailer can get hold of them. They're lovely mini-moray eels (~40 cm) that feed on insect larvae and dig into the sand. Totally harmless and very easy to keep. Invertebrates for the brackish water tank can be fiddly to obtain, but my favourites would include Clibanarius tricolor (the blue-leg hermit kept in reef tanks), Nerites such as Vitta usnea, and even small crabs like Uca spp. Hope this helps, Neale>

New tank set up, FW leaning to BR. Bumblebee Gobies...      5/11/07 Hi all, <Hello!> Its been a while since I last wrote in.  I am about to be the proud  owner of a new 60 gallon tank. Wondered if you could answer a few questions as my  set ups have never been this large. <Will do my best.> I now plan to keep tropical fresh water fish.  I love the  brackish fish especially the bumble bee goby and wondered if they could be  adapted to the fresh water environment. <Basically no. A few supposedly brackish water fish are actually freshwater fish that tolerate salt, such as glassfish and wrestling halfbeaks, and these are obviously fine in freshwater. Bumblebee gobies are a mixed bag. Some species are found in freshwater and can potentially be kept in even soft/acid conditions. However, identifying bumblebee gobies to species level is basically impossible for aquarists. So as a default position, BBGs are best kept in a brackish water tank (and ideally a single species one, as they're quite tricky to feed).> Brackish fish are quite hard to  find here in Scotland and I found my choice limited hence the decision to go  freshwater. <Often people don't realise the variety of brackish water fish out there. Besides the things like scats and monos, there are also numerous cichlids that do well (if not better) in brackish water, and there are also a few marine fish that thrive in (strongly) brackish water, such as various Arothron and Lutjanus spp. as well as a few inverts, like blue-leg hermit crabs. Agreed, brackish water fish are not easy to obtain on a single trip to your pet store, but over the year you are bound to see many different types. In the UK, you have some good options for mail-ordering fish, with stores like Trimar Aquaria and Wholesale Tropicals offering overnight delivery. Skim through a copy of a British fishkeeping magazine like PFK and you'll find lots of such dealers. These places often have lots of brackish water fish, and would be able to plug any gaps you can't find locally. I'll add that when I live in Scotland (Aberdeen) I didn't have much trouble getting brackish water fishes. There were a couple of decent shops in Aberdeen plus another in Dundee. Trips to Edinburgh or Glasgow would likely be rewarding, too.> I also plan to have some clown loaches how many I believe they like to be in groups. <Correct, they are sociable, and best kept in at least trios.> I have a supplier near by also that stocks mollies reared in fresh water will they thrive the same? <Rearing mollies in freshwater doesn't change anything. They are sensitive to high nitrates (anything much above zero), low pH, and low hardness. Keeping them in brackish water fixes these problems, which is why they do best in brackish water. So even if reared in freshwater, if you plonk a molly into water with high nitrates or a low pH/hardness, it'll get sick.> I will have a shallow sand bed (playsand) and I know it must be  stirred regularly to prevent gas and toxins.  is there any freshwater critters available that can aid in this. <Anything that burrows. I happen to like Malayan livebearing snails (Melanoides spp.) but these will breed rapidly if you overfeed the tank and do not remove organic waste quickly. Loaches and catfish also clean sand very effectively, and so will most benthic cichlids.> Finally I would like to have some real plant life.  I thought if  I bought them potted they would thrive better than placing then directly in the sand. <Potted plants are a bit of a con in some ways. Many plants do not thrive when potted, and need to be unpotted at once. Java ferns and Anubias, for example, shouldn't even be put in the ground at all! What matters is the development of the roots. I'd sooner take a loose plant with a decent root system than a potted one I cannot observe properly.> What are your recommendations? <For plants? Depends on your level of experience. Because sand is pushed about a bit by large fishes like clown loaches, you want to choose plants that develop deep root systems quickly, such as Vallisneria. Alternatively, go for Java ferns and Anubias that grow attached to stones/wood, as these don't care about the substrate either way. In fact, sticking with epiphytic plants like Java ferns, Anubias, and Java moss, plus floating plants like hornwort and water sprite, might be the best option. That way you only need 1-2 cm of sand, and there's zero risk of anaerobic decay.> Thanks ever so much Lesley <Cheers, Neale>

I know certain fish can transition from freshwater, brackish, and saltwater.    5/11/07 Hello Crew, I hope everyone is having a good day. <So far, so good!> I know certain fish can transition from freshwater, brackish, and saltwater. <Indeed. Such fish are called "euryhaline fish" as opposed to "stenohaline fish" that are confined to freshwater or saltwater habitats their entire lives.> Does their food need to change also? <A good question. It depends upon on the fish. Certain fish live in one environment for part of their life cycle, and another environment the next part of the life cycle. In many cases, there are dietary changes along with these ecological changes. Atlantic Salmon for example live in freshwater as hatchlings and for the first few months of their life, feeding mostly on insect larvae. They then go to sea for a few years where they feed on crustaceans of various kinds and small fish. Once they reach a certain size they will migrate back into rivers to spawn, but during this spawning run they don't feed much, if at all. They then return to the sea and begin feeding again, in preparation for the spawning run the next year. Other fishes, like scats, simply eat whatever they find wherever they go. These fish move between freshwater and the sea all the time, and what they eat depends only on what they encounter. For the aquarist, one of the striking things about brackish water fish is their greediness. The problem is making sure you don't overfeed them and compromise water quality as a result. Some brackish water fish are predators, and need a primarily meaty diet, but most are omnivores and take a variety of foods including algae, plant matter, frozen foods, and pellets.> I know the salt levels change, but what other effects does it have on their bodies? <The change in salinity is the main thing euryhaline fish have to deal. So in freshwater a scat (for example) will be pumping out excess water while conserving salt, but doing the reverse when it is in the sea. Secondary issues will be differences in temperature (the sea varies more slowly than neighbouring rivers so may be cooler or warmer depending on the season), pH, hardness, and other aspects of water chemistry. Salt water also provides more buoyancy than freshwater, and euryhaline fish also need to adjust the amount of gas in the swim bladder to keep the same level of poise when swimming.> I am particularly interested in mollies. <The relationship between mollies and brackish water is complex. Mollies are naturally found in freshwater, brackish, and marine environments. But in aquaria they tend to do poorly in freshwater, being very prone to fungus, finrot, and the "shimmies". It is not 100% clear to me that they need brackish water, and some aquarists have suggested that it is the ambient level of nitrates that matter. In brackish water nitrate is less toxic than in freshwater, so the mollies will thrive even if the nitrate levels are quite high. It certainly seems to be the case that people who have luck keeping mollies in freshwater aquaria also keep the nitrates at very low (practically zero) levels. In ordinary community tanks where the nitrates are around 20-100 mg/l, mollies just don't do well.> Thank you,      Ann <Cheers, Neale>

Large Brackish Tank  3/6/07 Dear WetWebMedia Crew, <Hi Ben, Pufferpunk here, for your brackish water needs.> I am setting up a 230gal U.K. <276 USG> brackish tank of which will have a lowered level.   <You need to calculate how much water will be left after lowered.  Let's just guess it's by 1/3rd, which would leave around 150UKG or 180 USG (sorry, I'm from the US & need to think in USG--you'll see why).> I intend to try and grow mangroves in there and have a raised  section for the archers to squirt at. <Nice!> My predicted stocking so far will be: monosx6, scatsx6, archersx5 and some green puffers.  If so, how many <puffers>?  Also, with  green puffers can I add mudskippers or is that a no-go? <Whoa!!!  You really need to start considering the ADULT sizes of these fish.  Scats grow to the size of a dinner plate & require 50 USG ea.  Monos grow to a foot long & like lots of swimming room.  A school of 6 adults would require a 300+ USG tank.  Archers also grow to a foot & require a minimum tank size of 100 USG each.  As far as the puffers, they require a min tank size of 30 USG each & are extremely nippy fish.  No mudskippers with the puffers.  You need to reconsider you stocking plans.  Your tank may look quite large empty but after filled with the heavy decor these fish all require, as adults, that does not leave them as much room to swim as you think.  ~PP> Thanks for any help, Ben <Please Ben, next letter you send, check your capitalization, spelling  & punctuation, before emailing us.  We have to correct all of that, before sending over to our FAQs--very time consuming.>  

From Brackish to Marine  10/11/06 Hello Bob, <Hi, Pufferpunk here today.> I am aware of Mollies being able to live in a saltwater environment (reef). I personally have some mollies on my reef tank right now. I've been reading about brackish water fish and I am really interested in buying some species for my tank. My question then is if I buy a Targetfish (Terapon jarbua) and some Scats from my local fish store, would I be able to acclimate them to a saltwater environment in a short period of time, like I did with the mollies (8 hours) or I would have to establish a brackish water tank, then increase the salinity as the fish mature along months/years? <I'd go with your latter idea.  The fish you mention both live in marine conditions as adults.  Beware, the scat grows as large as a dinner plate & neither may be reef safe.  ~PP> Thanks, JP Marchetti

Keeping Marine Fish in Brackish Water  9/10/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was wanting something like an oyster toadfish or scorpionfish for a tank mate in my brackish water tank. I was wondering how hard and rare it would be to find one of these types of fish for such a setting? <Bad idea to keep a marine species in brackish water salinity.> I saw an orange toadfish and a scorpionfish of the same color in a LFS (Live Fish Store) <Actually, LFS usually stands for Local Fish Store.> but unfortunately they were marine. <Yup!> I had told them I had a brackish water tank with an albino moray with a salinity setting at 1.008 and they told me that if I were to raise my level up to about 1.015 I would be able to put one of those fish in my tank as the salinity they were using was at 1.016. This does not sound right to have marine settings at 1.016 when marine settings should be at 1.020 or better. <You're quite correct.> So far my eel is thriving in my tank with no problems and he has one very healthy appetite. I would rather risk getting something I can have adapt to what I have than forcing my little guy into those kind of changes. Are there any options to take that I could safely add such a fish to my tank? Are there any other venomous fishes that are easily gotten that I could look for to add to my brackish tank that you are aware of?  Even a stone fish would be good. <Yes, according to Neal Monks (see: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/aquaria/brackfaqpart1.html?), there are lots of venomous brackish water fish. All of the waspfishes (family Tetrarogidae) are venomous, of which Neovespicular depressifrons (butterfly goby waspfish) and Notesthes robusta (freshwater scorpionfish) are the most commonly traded. Some of the toadfishes are venomous, but the aquarium species Allenbatrachus grunniens is not one of them. It has been reported that scats are venomous (having toxic spines in the dorsal fin) but other reports deny this. At the least, they should be handled carefully, just in case. Shark catfish (Ariidae) and eel catfish (Plotosidae) are both venomous. The Colombian shark catfish, Hexanematichthys seemanni, has venomous pectoral and dorsal fin spines. The eel catfish, Plotosus lineatus, normally sold as a marine fish, does well in brackish water. It has a very powerful venom in the pectoral and dorsal fin spines. Good luck finding these fish & be careful!  ~PP> Thank you

Re: Venomous Fishes in Brackish Waters   9/11/06 <I Just got another note from Neale Monks about keeping a venomous fish with your moray: "Morays are tricky. There are two basic kinds, fish-eaters and invert-eaters. The fish eaters (e.g. Gymnothorax) have sharp conical teeth and view their tankmates as potential food. Probably exactly the same as with marine morays. Probably only safe tankmates are big, robust beasts, like GSPs or dog-faced puffers, that are able to take care of themselves. The invert-eaters (e.g. Echidna) have blunt teeth for cracking shells and tend to ignore all but the smallest fish. They seem to work fairly well with monos, scats, etc. I don't think being venomous or not will make a big difference, because by the time the fish has used its venom, your moray will be dead. So you want something that says "don't touch" to the moray. Puffers will do that with their bright colours and puffing-up, and so will Colombian shark catfish thanks to their "clicking" warning (though these must kept in a group). I fear butterfly-goby waspfish will be too small (they're only 8 cm long) but the Bullrout Notesthes robusta is essentially a sluggish lionfish, and not much molests it. Otherwise, his best bet is to keep the thing at 1.018 and add a snapper or grouper. Either of these should do fine, as well as being an entertaining pet in its own right." Just though you'd like to know...  ~PP>

Stocking a Brackish Tank  2/19/06 <Pufferpunk again> Thanks for the response. Just wondering, that sounds like quite a bit of under-stocking for ~80 gallons. And would the archers be happy with only two in the tank? They are schooling fish, <Actually, archerfish adults are solitary fish.> but as I am mostly into freshwater, the general rule for me is about an inch of fish per gallon. Of course this doesn't really work with bigger fish (would you keep an Oscar in a 12?), but  I would think that because they school, they wouldn't really be needing that  much space over 75 - 80 gallons. <Well, you just argued against your 1"/gal rule.  This only applies to fish that are thin-bodied & 1-2" long.  You must always consider adult size.> Also, thanks for clarifying the whole scat thingy. LFS's can be pretty dumb when it comes to fish. Another thing, I have never had problems with bogwood or driftwood lowering the pH in my FW tanks (although it would probably help, as I have mostly fish that prefer a pH of around 6.5, and I don't use pH buffers), would this be different with BW? <Yes, salt will eat away at the wood.> If this was true, wouldn't the mangrove swamps of brackish water have an effect on the pH? <Mangroves are living plants, not dead driftwood.  You are also not taking into consideration that the ocean is getting constant 100% water changes.> I know that I am probably bugging you with this but I have one more question, totally unrelated to this topic: for marine  tanks, like shark tanks, etc., how would you do large water changes, while keeping the salinity at a constant level? Just a question, I would never think of keeping sharks, however one of my LFS's has a 2000 gallon shark tank, and I got kind of curious. <Since I've never kept a 2,000g shark tank, I can only guess that they have a wonderful filtration system & also have huge vats of premixed salt water ready for water changes, along with a drain & fill system.> Thanks a bunch, your site has been an ongoing source of knowledge for me, and I congratulate you on the good work. -Eddy <Thanks & good luck with your project.  ~PP>

Puffers and Gobies and Crabs.. Oh My! - 3/21/2006 I have read very much on the figure eight puffer and the bumblebee goby. <<That's always the smart way to start!>> I have a 20 gallon and a 10 gallon brackish water tank.  They both have java fern and moss and driftwood, pots and rock with coral substrate. <<All sounds good, except the driftwood.  It will deteriorate in salty water.  What is the current SG in your tanks? Are they cycled? If so, how?>> Now in the 20 gallon I have two fiddler crabs.  They will be moved to the ten gallon once I get the gobies and figure eight.  My plan is to have one figure eight and five gobies because they both don't get too large, and if need to I can invest in a 40-50 gallon later down the road. <<It is best to start puffers, and all fish, in their final homes.  You are lucky here though, as you can keep one figure 8 puffer and a few bumblebee gobies in the 20-gallon tank for life.  Is the tank long as opposed to tall?>> So my questions are, can I keep them together? <<Yes.>> Will they be able to live out the rest of their lives? <<Yes.>> Another question is, can the fiddler crabs live with the puffer or not?  My guess is no, but they are pretty large compared to a puffer's mouth. <<Crabs=puffer food.  Check out www.thepufferforum.com for great articles and info on caring for your puffer.>> Thanks a lot Mark <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Brackish Fish and Crabs - 3/5/2006 I am very interested in having brackish crabs and brackish fish. I have not bought a decent sized tank yet but I want to research types of fish first. I like puffers (who doesn't) but obviously, they cannot go with crabs and the like. <<Depends on the personality of the puffer, but you are right, as a rule.>> I have gone on very many internet sites and they sometimes have information on brackish crabs and fish in the same tank, but only ever say top dwelling fish and short finned fish. One of the only examples of brackish fish and crabs was red claw crabs and bumblebee gobies but those are bottom dwelling! If possible, could I be told of all possible combinations of fish and crabs (in brackish conditions) including more than one type of fish to one type of crab? <<Too many variables, you are going to have to do your own research here.>> I like red claw crabs but would go for another like fiddlers. I would only aim at having one or two crabs in a tank. To make a more specific analysis of what type of tank I am after I would have to say an around 50-gallon tank with a lot of depth and width (not much of a tall tank person). For internal decoration and design, I would like to have a fake rock cave with its entrance facing the front of the tank so I can still see the crabs inside (maybe logs so they can reach the air not sure yet on what add so they can reach) <<Do make sure you house the crabs you choose properly, and create a dry land area, if necessary.>> I would really like to know some names at least of some top dwelling short finned brackish fish.  If there are no good combinations, if possible, could I be sent a table or something in which it shows what brackish fish can go with what? <<No such table exists, sorry!>> This is a lot to ask but it would be extremely helpful and I may have asked things against your policies (apologies if I have) but I saw that I had to type properly and I hope I did so adequately. <<Capitalized I's would be nice too.>> I will not expect a question this long to get a full reply instantly and I do hope this is a free service otherwise oops. <<It is, yes.>> Yours sincerely and thankfully whether I get the things I asked for or not (very long message to read), James Briscoe <<Look into Orange Chromides; they are a beautiful low-end brackish Cichlid.  Good luck with your research. Lisa.>>

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