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FAQs about Fish-Only Marine Systems 2

Related Articles: Fish Only Systems by Bob Fenner, A Marine Fish-Only Set-Up Checklist by Bob Fenner, Creating a Marine Fish-Only Aquarium by Bob Fenner  FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Plumbing Marine SystemsRefugiumsMarine Biotope, Marine LandscapingFishwatcher's Guides

Related FAQs: Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, FO System Set-Ups, FO System Lighting, FO System Filtration, FO System Skimmers, FO System Livestocking, FO System Feeding, FO System Maintenance, FO System Disease, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Marine System Plumbing Biotopic presentations

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

new tank.... Hysterical        4/12/16
getting a 240 gallon fish only salt water tank. Which filtration do u recommend? Refugium systems or sleeve?
<'Fuge for sure>

Would u recommend sleeve without refugium? Why?
<All gone over and over on WWM>
What kind of lights do u recommend on a reef tank?
<Hahhaaaa; this too. Don't write, READ>

Reef to Fish-Only   2/7/12
Hello Wet Web Media Crew. My name is Leo and I am a big fan of yours from Brazil, for quite some time now. I have an 80 gallon reef tank with a 26 gallon sump and refugium. The tank is full of Corallimorphs (that dominated the space) and a few other soft coral species. Sorry I can't tell you the amount of live rock, when I bought it I was kind of new to the hobby and I just trusted the retailer. The fish inhabitants are: A pair of Ocellaris Clown fish, a Royal Gramma and a Green Mandarin. It is running for six years now. Due to Brazilian importation laws regarding aquatic animals, the corals and invertebrates come here at exorbitant prices (fish is not exactly cheap either),
<Folks there should be producing what they can through asexual fragging>
 so diversifying the tank with different coral species (can't handle more mushrooms) is becoming virtually impossible for me. I decided to upgrade the tank to a 120 gallon, sell all the corals and invertebrates, and make the reverse path for most people: go from reef to a fish-only tank. Adding a few other fish species a long the way.
My questions are: 1) If I gradually substitute the coral filled rock for new ones (Keep in mind that in Brazil they rarely sell live rocks anymore, those sold today are mainly the ones that once harbored life before, in a natural reef setting, but now just constitute the basic calcarium structure) how slowly the process of transformation from one tank to the other should take place?
<Weeks, a few months>
 Once the rock foundations of the tank are relatively stabilized I would make the transfer, using the same substrate (Halimeda skeleton), some rocks from the old reef that don't contain Corallimorphs and the same sump and refugium. Increasing skimming and the power of the return pump. 2) In this stage is it a good idea to mix my Halimeda substrate with other types of substrate with different granulometry? Like Aragalive for example?
<Yes; should be fine/okay>
            Now to the stocking: 3) My clowns formed a symbiotic relationship with the Corallimorphs. How problematic will it be for them once I remove the mushrooms?
<A bit stressful, but should be okay>
 I know that they will suffer a little but I don't think giving the fishes away is the solution here. They might end up in a tank without Corallimorphs or anemones anyway. I want to stay away from tangs, big angels, triggers and fishes that grow too much. I don't like to give my animals away when they grow up, as if they were things. So my plans to stock the new 120 G tank are: one *Cirrhilabrus solorensis*, one *Halichoeres chrysus*. let me pause for my fourth question here: 4)
Will those two be fine in this volume if added at the same time?
I wanted a yellow fish, witch is a detail that seems small and stupid at first but you learn to appreciate in the long run. I could substitute it by a Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (*Forcipiger flavissimus*) continuing a filefish (*Pervagor melanocephalus*) and a Bartlett's Anthias (*Pseudanthias bartlettorum*). 5) Overstocked??!
<No; not yet>
6) If not, could I add still a couple more like a Flame Hawkfish (*Neocirrhitus armatus*) and a Heniochus Butterflyfish (*Heniochus acuminatus*)?
7) To many questions?!!!
<Not too many>
8) What's my Grandmother's middle name?
9) What are the mysteries to life, universe and everything else?!!!!!
<See the number 42>
This has been fun. Tanks for the attention anyway.
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Help with setting up a 125 aggressive /predator tank... Reading      6/12/11
Hi, I see so many options on set ups just want to keep it simple. I would like to stock tank with a Blue Throat Trigger, Volitans Lion, Snow Flake Eel, Dog Face Puffer and something to graze on algae a Tang, Angel or Fox Face? Is this a safe list?
<Mmm, no... the most likely problem fish is the Lion. I'd leave it out...
too likely to get picked on>
I plan on 2-3" fish and small eel.
<... won't stay small>
What size sump, Filter socks? Bio balls or just LR and how many lbs.,
<... this is all gone over, archived on WWM>
ASM G3 Skimmer, how deep and what type of substrate,
25watt UV sterilizer, Fluval FX5 Canister Filter along with a sump?
<I would not for reasons stated...>
3- 1300 gph power heads. The tank is a 125 with dual overflows. I've kept reef tanks since 96, this is my first try at a predator/aggressive tank any ideas would be extremely helpful.
I've checked many websites and everyone seems
<Not I, nor the vast majority of our site>
to contradict each other so I figured my last resort would be ask the experts. I do have a massive saltwater library here at home but everyone has there own opinion. Thanks, Vince
<Keep reading; take good notes re options/choices. Bob Fenner>

Marine Set Up/Stocking Level... FO  12/10/09
Hi Team.
I have only just recently started to develop an interest in marine fish and have had my first aquarium set up now for about a month (not including cycling time of course) and up until now I have only been gathering information from the owners of the aquarium shop I visit (assuming their expertise would be sufficient) But I keep reading a lot of information on the internet which is contradicting everything I've been told by the staff in this store. I will explain my problem and hope you will shed some light for me on this...
<Will try my best.>
My tank size is 40gallons (which I bought from their store as well) and I only keep two fish in it. The first fish I was recommended was a Volitans Lionfish (which was added after cycling the tank for two months) and after two weeks of adding the lionfish I went back to the store and they recommended a good fish mate would be a 'Sailfin Tang'. These are both seemingly juveniles (they are nowhere near the sizes I have now read they can reach) But it now seems from the information I have read online that my tank is majorly undersized (and after researching this site, it's what prompted me to write to you).
These fish seem to get on perfectly well for the two weeks I have currently had them together and I haven't noticed any acts of aggression towards each other at all, they mainly just keep to themselves and both eat different types of food (so there is no competition for it) The tang is very active and just laps the tank constantly (only shying away when I approach the tank a little too quickly), whereas the lionfish just hides in a cave and only comes out during feeding.
I am now worried that I will have to quickly upgrade my tanks size (which I am prepared to do as these fish are just amazing) and have read I will need at least a hundred gallon tank. The problem is I won't be able to afford a
tank this size for about four months and so was wondering if my current tank will sustain them for this period of time? (if I maintain it with regular water changes etc) Or should I just take the fish back for an exchange/refund? (which would be a bit embarrassing considering the staff told me it would be fine)
I suppose I deserve it for only researching from one source at first, but I don't want the fish to be affected by this as well.
Any advise on this situation would be great.
<Providing your filtration system (you did not mention) is up to par, you should be fine with keeping just these two fish until larger quarters becomes available.
Do ensure that your filtration system is capable of handling a larger tank or this will need to be upgraded also. Sensitive fish, such as your Sailfin Tang should not be introduced into systems with less than 6 months of operation/aging.>
Many Thanks.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Marine Set Up/Stocking Level, FO  12/11/09
I'm relieved too hear that my current tank will sustain the fish for the next three/four months (thanks for letting me know) and I apologies for not explaining the filtration system I have installed (so I will do now for extra reassurance, hopefully)
The tank came with a internal filtration system already (but unfortunately I do not know the details of this) and I also was advised to buy a second external filtration system, which is called 'Eheim Ecco Pro 130'
I have taken a reading using the test strips today and it read...
Nitrate: 20
Nitrite: 0
P.H: The colour seemed to indicate between 8.0 and 8.5
KH: 240
I also have two pieces of small live rock in the tank and perform 20% water changes every two weeks (as well as taking out excess dried shrimp daily that the lionfish fails to eat) I also feed the Sailfin Tang 'Marine Flakes' and intend to buy a form of marine algae for it as well.
With this new information, would you still say that I can maintain healthy living condition for the two fish? (if I continue following the same procedures I currently perform)
<I would add more live rock than what you have. Will aid in denitrification as well as giving the tang a sense of security in the form of retreats.>
Sorry for being a nuisance, but your expertise on this matter is greatly appreciated.
<No nuisance, is what we are here for. I will provide you a link to our marine index which will aid you in searching for information.
Again many thanks.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Marine Tank basic info, reading -- 11/23/2009
Hi there, this is Pavan from India. I would like to start a marine tank. I heard of fish only tank. Could you please help me what it actually is and what are the things essential requirements for a marine tank and why
they needed. I would like to raise clown fish. Please help in this regard.
<Hey Pavan, its JustinN from the US! Looks like you have a great deal of reading ahead of you -- all your questions have been posted, responded many times over... Start ingesting information here:
 -- this will run you down for everything from setting up a captive system to what you should stock in it.. Good luck! Let us know if you have some specific questions! -JustinN>

36 Gallon System: Setup\Reading\Learning 4/22/2009
Hi Fish Masters!
<Greetings Fish Apprentice!>
I think I am in over my head - I know this, so please don't pick on me too hard :)
<I like to think I pick on people just enough....:-) >
I have a 36 gal bow front, fish only tank.
I have 2 filters - 1 is for a 40gal tank, the other for a 35 gal tank. (so I think I am OK on filtration)
<Hmm... brand names\model numbers would be helpful here. A protein skimmer
should be used here as well. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm >
I established the tank 4 months ago - Being that I was very poorly informed, and didn't know it - I had assumed that the tank cycled with my 5 lbs of live rock and 40lbs of live sand. I did not do testing beyond that of salinity, because again I was unaware of just how unaware I was.
<Fair enough.>
I have 2 Ocellaris clowns - one is about 2 inches, the other 1 inch. They were purchased separately, and thus are not a mated pair, however they do seem to get along quite well and swim side by side.
<They are pairing up.>
I now have been regularly testing my ammonia and nitrates/trites and they are nonexistent to low ranges.
<Hmm...ammonia and nitrite need to be nonexistent nitrate should be 20ppm or less.>
Salinity is kept about 1.021
<Too low - you will want this around 1.023 - 1.025.>
I do 15% water changes every 2-3 weeks and the clowns have been appearing healthy and happy for their 2 months living in the tank.
<Sounds good so far.>
I obviously need to start my marine education, and where as your site is amazing with information, tips, FAQs and advice - I don't know where to start.
<Ahhh.. You can start on this page:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm >
I would like to add in some additional small fish, however again, am uncertain about the stocking limits of a woefully small tank. Are there specific fish that are recommended (permitted) for a smaller tank?
<Two Clowns in a 36 gallon going to limit you.>
I have kissed my dream of the yellow tang goodbye as I don't believe I have enough room.
<You don't have enough room. I wouldn't even attempt one unless the tank was at least 75 gallons.>
I understand that I will need to stock fish slowly and conservatively. I am interested in nice color and eye candy for the tank.
<Perhaps a Firefish or two would work here.>
Could I add in another ocellaris pair - or would that upset my 1st pair.
<They would fight - No more Clownfish and no Damsels.>
Also, I see a lot of talk about a "cleaning crew" describing snails or shrimps I believe - but again am dreadfully uninformed as to if I should have one/some of these.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marscavart.htm A few snails and perhaps a hermit crab would fit nicely here.>
Also - how much live rock should I be stocking up on? My current pieces are lovely, and are small - I initially purchased them because they seemed like a nice "decoration" - little did I know.
<General rule of thumb is 1 - 1.5 pounds per gallon Though with a smaller tank, I would go a bit less. 20 pounds should serve you well.>
Any help, advice, and guidance as to where to start my education is much appreciated.
<Start with the setup articles, and then use the Google search bar at the bottom of most pages - select the WetWebMedia button when you search to limit the results to what is on the site.>

FO VS FOWLR. Marine Set-Up 9/24/07 My dentist has a saltwater fish only tank. Is has some sensitive fish in it (Tangs, angels, etc.). What would I have to do to have a successful fish only tank (type of filter, etc.)? <Danielle, do start by reading/learning. Read here and linked files above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm James (Salty Dog)> Danielle A. Smith

Stocking a 90 Gallon (Fish Only) Marine Tank 10/11/05 Hi Guys, <Hi Daniel!> I just cycled my 90T gallon tank and wanted to know if it would be big enough for one or all three of these particular fish (as adults): Volitans Lionfish  <Have seen this fish at 30" needs at least a 6 foot tank but don't fret I have some more appropriate Lion suggestions for you: Fuzzy Dwarf Lion (Dendrochirus brachypterus) Fuzzy Dwarf Lion (Dendrochirus zebra) Radiata Lion (Pterois radiata) -First two are probably the best choices due to their size.> Snowflake Moray eel, <Unfortunately the 90-gallon tall variance lacks somewhat in surface area, and at a potential 36" it's not an ideal choice.> and a Picasso Triggerfish. <The Tank size is right about the minimum for a Picasso Trigger. Furthermore Triggers are not ideal tank mates for lions. Trigger have a tendency to chew up the Lions o' so delicate fins.> I'd appreciate your advice. Thanks. <No problem, and don't be discouraged by this. There are plenty of other wonderful animals that are suited to this tank.> Daniel Gallen <Good luck with the new set up, Adam J.> 

Back in the game  10/3/05 Great Site! I'm putting my helmet on and getting backing in the saltwater game (FO with predators).  Going to have a 150 acrylic with three 1.5"-2" overflows going down to my basement were I'll have all the room for any types and sizes of sumps and pumps needed.  <Ahh... very nice.  Basement sumps provide plenty of working room, no worries about messes and a very quiet living space!> Would like to anchor the system around a Huma and a Niger, with that in mind, could I use a skimmer to refugium to sump as my only means of filtration? <If you plan on having a fair amount of live rock in the system, then yes.  Also, don't skimp on the skimmer, larger models by Euro-Reef, All-Seas Marine, Aqua-C, Precision Marine and My reef Creations all offer good choices.  See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm > Was planning on building a 36Wx36Dx15T tank divided in half to give me a large refugium and return sump.  Would those dimensions be accommodating, <There is nothing wrong with those dimensions, although it is generally cheaper and easier to use a standard tank, especially since it will easily accommodate standard lighting fixtures.  Those dimensions translate into just over 75 gallons, so a standard 75g tank may be a reasonable option.> if so, what should I put in my refugium and should it be lighted? Would a Iwaki MD70RLT give me what's needed with about 11' of head?  <For a fish only tank, some rock and either Caulerpa or Chaetomorpha would work well.  Sand is optional, but may cause problems with large amounts of fish wastes.  An Iwaki 70 should provide plenty of flow up to the tank, although you may want to consider some additional in-tank circulation.  With such messy fish, I would aim for 10x the tank volume in total water movement to keep wastes suspended.  Best regards.  AdamC.>

Just how "not important" is lighting not important to saltwater fish only setup? 7/7/05 Hi WWM crew, First of all I would like to THANK YOU all WWM crew members for being such a great help for all my aquarium problems. I can't think of another better place that helps me so much! THANKS!! <Welcome> Sorry for the long story I tried my best to make it short already. People had always told me that lighting is not important at all in a saltwater fish only with live rock tank. Some of them even say that the fishes actually don't need any light at all, and the light is just for my own viewing pleasure. <Mostly so> I used to have a 136W compact fluorescent lighting system for my 45G tank. It broke down after about 2 months. I didn't have much money with me at that time for me to purchase another compact fluorescent and since people said lighting is not an issue so I used a incandescent hood from my previous 10G tank which only has two 30W mini fluorescent bulbs I'm not even sure if those bulbs are truly fluorescent). <If not... then what?> Those two bulbs barely light up the tank. However, ever since my compact system was gone, my tank has been going down hill. First my Regal tang got ich and died, then my yellow tang and two ocellaris clown died mysteriously, then my totally healthy well eating Moorish Idol died with white patches on his body, <Rarely live... and a 45 is too small...> and then most fish I added after that disaster just keep dying without obvious reasons. <Not likely related> It just seems so strange to me, the first two months my tank was running perfectly, and then the lighting broke down, and from that moment on my tank has been a constant nightmare. Fish dies easily,(with no problem in water chemistry) all the fish keeps hiding, all the fishes are always scared. Could there be even a slight chance that the lighting has anything to do with it?? <Mmm, perhaps indirectly... some lighting helps promote algae growth... algae help to absorb nutrients, make overall environment more stable, provide some food...> Could it be that the fishes always think it is night time so they always hide? <No... get "clues" re day from outside light> I have this theory because I once notice my Moorish Idol had different color pattern in day time and night time. And after the compact system broke down, it never fully change back into day time pattern even in the day. However, I think I should mention that even with so little lighting, I can still see clearly into the tank in daytime since the room the tank is in is quite bright in the day. <Bingo> That is why I can't convince myself that the fish is thinking it is night time. But they somehow act like it is night time, especially that Moorish Idol incident I mentioned above. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm Thanks any opinion would be much appreciated! <I would get a better lighting set-up, study re your livestock choices ahead of purchasing. Bob Fenner>

Lights, Chiller... Action! Hello Guys, Scott, <Scott here, Captain... (I love to say that, LOL) > Here to yet again ask another question before I make up my mind in my current setup, I am in the process setting up my new custom made 107 Glass tank 34x25x30 ,it will be a FOWLR. I need to know what you recommend as to lighting and if you go in the direction I think you will, will I need a chiller and if so which one.. :) <Oh, boy- I'll bet that you think I'll be recommending halides, huh? Well, I would recommend halides if your later intent was to add some corals, as MH gives you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of the animals that you can keep (I'd probably use 2- 150w double-ended HQI pendants). On the other hand, if you are dead set on just having FOWLR and the reef bug is not gonna get you, then I'd go with PC's. Actually, PC's can be used in some reef situations as well. If you need a chiller, I really like the JBJ Arctica myself, as it is efficient and quiet.> Thanks again and I will send a picture of it once it is done!!!! this tank is going to be made possible thanks to your recommendations and information I have learned through the site...thanks again for everything. Marlon <Please do send some pics! And thanks for the kind words! Regards, Scott F.>

Five IS A Crowd! A Big, Messy Crowd! I have a Niger, Bluejaw, Clown Trigger, Porcupine Puffer, and Harlequin Tusk. <That's a rough crowd!> I feed twice a day a variety of meats (shrimp, cuttlefish, squid, Octo). I chop the pieces into small tic-tac size pieces and it would be about 1.5 tablespoons of food. Twice a day. My nitrates are between 20-40 constantly. I change 25% weekly. Amm and nitrites are always 0, ph 8.2. Temp 80. Is this too much food? <It doesn't seem like it, and quite frankly, those nitrate levels aren't all that bad, when you consider the level of metabolic waste these brutes produce! I think that you can do better, however.> Should I make it once a day? I have 2 emperor 400's and 2 Bak-Pak skimmers. 100 gal tank. Plan to split into 2 100's  or move to a 180 gal in a year. 29" of fish total. <Ahh...I think that your tank is way over the limit for these fishes. Way over. You're fighting a very noble fight to keep the nitrate levels where they are, but this tank is too small to sustain this population for the long run. A much larger tank is in order. Also, reliance on mechanical filtration is probably not as good as a live-rock/sand-based approach, IMO. A good sump and powerful skimmer can do the job. The mechanical media in your power  filters will trap detritus and organics, which, if left unattended for long periods of time, will degrade water quality. They are great at supplementing other systems, but I would not use them for primary filtration in my system. You might want to use a more efficient protein skimmer for larger fish that produce more metabolic waste, as well.> For going on a 2 night vacation, can they go 48 hours without feeding without too much stress? <I'm sure that they will be fine for this length of time. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Have I Achieved Overkill? Naw.. So, I'm afraid this is going to be a dumb question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. <<You've got moxxie.  I like that.>> I'm setting up a 65 gallon FO system and I'm wondering if the following equipment list sounds excessive. Attached to one outlet I'm planning 1 power strip/timer with 1 magnum pro filter that came with the tank, 1 Maxi-jet powerhead, 1 heater rated for 40 watts, and 1 pump/air stone like Bob recommends. <<NO airstone for a salt tank, unless you REALLY like topping off and cleaning up salt creep.  Also, the heater is too small, it's not even 1W/gallon.  You need/want 2-3W/gallon.  Yes, I read that.>> (Any recommendations for the pump?) <<MaxiJets are fine.>> Attached to another outlet hopefully coming from a different subsection of the circuit breaker--I'd even get a separate one of those, if I could--1 power strip/timer, 1 Eheim 2235 canister filter, 1 Aqua C Remora Pro protein skimmer, 1 heater rated for 40 watts, and another pump/airstone. <<Same comments as above, then you're set in my opinion.>> It seems to me that if I'm going to be selfish enough to take animals out of their native habitat for my own personal enjoyment or even just one's bread for it, the least I can do is provide them with the best possible living conditions and chance of survival in the event of an electrical flub. Am I overshooting my goal with all of this? <<NOPE!  You're doing very well, with the elimination of airstones in favor of powerheads creating surface agitation, and make SURE each heater can do the job on its own in the very instance there's a problem with one set of equipment.  Otherwise, I think you're golden.  Marina>> Thanks for your time and help. You all are a godsend. Sincerely, Marianne <<You're welcome.>>

Lighting For Tall FOWLR Tank (Growing Coralline) - 05/06/05 I have a 96x30x36 (tall) tank which mostly will be FO but I am going to add about 200 pounds of live rock. I have received inconsistent information from various suppliers on this question: Will my 6x96 watt PC light fixture be adequate to support coralline algae (I intend to buy the LR fully cured) assuming PH 8.2+ and the usual trace mineral additives? <Mostly FO? This statement concerns me...please decide first what, if any, inverts you plan to keep...this will determine your lighting requirements. As for just the coralline, I've grown coralline in a 22" deep tank under 6x40w NO lighting...likely the 6x96w PCs will function the same for your 36" deep system. Regards, Eric R.>

Adding Live Rock to Fish Only 4/17/05 Hello Crew. Just a couple LR questions. I plan on adding some LR to my fish only setup(55g). I currently have a 48" single strip with a Hagen PowerGlo bulb. Is this adequate? Also, do I need to quarantine the rock prior to placing it in the display tank? If so, could it be quarantined with the new fish to aid in filtration. Thank you for always taking the time to respectfully answer my questions, many of which are likely "dumb" questions.  <The live rock will need to by cycled (Even if it is sold as "pre-cured" or "pre-cycled"). No fish are necessary and should not be present. The time it takes to cycle will also serve as a quarantine. You can use just about any kind of container to cycle the rock in, but ideally the rock should fit loosely. While cycling, the rock should be treated like it is alive! Strong water movement, water changes, proper temperature and salinity and maintenance of calcium and alkalinity will ensure that as much live survives as possible. Once ammonia and nitrite are zero, the rock can be moved to the display. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Fish Only Lighting I have looked on your site, which I must say has been very informative for my own tanks, more than my LFS which seems to want to only sell me stuff I don't really need.....imagine that. My parents have fallen in love with my tanks so I'm wanting to set up a 20 gallon FO for my mom. I plan on setting it up and showing her the proper maintenance on saltwater.  My question is how much light is needed on a tank with live sand as the substrate, power filter rated for a 40 gallon and a powerhead if more circulation is needed. My mom did ask if she could put live rock in the tank but I don't believe she can without buying a bigger light set up. Can I use the existing light fixture and just get a 20 watt Coralife 10,000 or 20,000 bulb for this setup? Also do you feel that she will need a protein skimmer with just fish only, I wouldn't think so with proper filtration and water changes. Thanks for your time and help. I'm glad there is a place that other fish geeks can go and spend hours reading, I know I do.  <Lora, it all depends what kind of critters are on the live rock. If there are corals and/or other light loving inverts you will need a 100watt lighting system. You will also need this light to propagate any coralline. Weaker lighting also encourages nuisance algae growth.  James (Salty Dog)> 

Fish Only Lighting Follow-up I'm sorry maybe I didn't explain this well enough. I don't plan on putting any live rock in the tank. Just a fish only. If I can get a 40 watt light for it will that be enough to keep the unwanted algae out of the tank.  Thanks.  <Lora, I thought your mother wanted to know if she could put live rock in? Anyway a 40 will be fine. I would try to get 10K tubes though. James (Salty Dog)> 

FO Marine Filtration, Feeding the Lions Hiya, <Hello there> We have a 75 gal. tank w/ one Fluval 304 and one Fluval 404, very thin substrate, weekly 10% water changes, one Picasso Trigger and one V. Lionfish, now for the question...is the filtration system(s) enough or should we be using something else due to the kids' waste output? <Mmm, could> The Picasso is so easy to feed a variety of frozen food and live gut loaded occasionally as a treat. He'll eat anything but flake food. Now the Lion is a little tougher switching over. Is time a factor here? <Sometimes...> We've had him for one week tomorrow. He's hasn't gone for anything frozen... ya know, the I'm gonna eat dance and then realizes it's frozen and snubs it??? We will try to starve him, but what is a recommended amount of time for the starvation? <Depends on size, state of condition... weeks> He's about 4 inches long, just a baby. We lost a Lion a few years back due to lack of knowledge, and with the help of your website, we are learning quite a lot about all things marine, and we thank you for that! Any help w/ the above is greatly appreciated.  Thanks Jenn & Bob <Glad to share. Bob Fenner> 

150 gallon Fish only tank filter choices... Hey guys I want to get a 150 gallon Fish only tank and want the best quality water for my fish. Money is no object. I was wondering if I should get a wet/dry filter system with a skimmer or get a refugium system with a skimmer? What is the best way to go. Thanks, Will <Depends... wet-dries are pretty pass?nowadays... but are useful for some folks... mainly with all-fish set-ups. Rather than money, trial and error, I encourage you to spend your time educating yourself re options here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Bob Fenner>  

Re: 150 gallon Fish only tank Thanks Bob, I did some research and for some reason I like the sound of a refugium set up with a skimmer. I did look at many manufactures and ways to set one up and my head is about to explode...Any suggestions on systems you liked, that worked for you? <Not that there is space, time for here. You would do well to peruse the last published effort by Antoine and myself: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/dealers_and_distributors.htm as a good quarter of it is devoted to Refugiums... Bob Fenner> 

54 Gallon Corner Setup I want to set up a 54 Gallon Corner Tank - SW Fish Only. I was considering the tank with a built in overflow but I heard it may be somewhat noisy (constant waterfall?).<It's very bearable>  Also, should I go with a wet/dry sump type filter or maybe an Eheim canister for this size tank?<Wet/dry>  I've gone through numerous articles on the site regarding types of filtration and see numerous opinions. I 'm really confused on what to get. I would appreciate your specific input. <Personally I would go with an Ecosystem 60 hang on or sump model.> Also, I've read many of the articles and you guys obviously recommend using Live Rock. With a Fish Only Tank, would I still have good results not using Live Rock.<You will need a biological filter of some sort.>  I've read that if you have to medicate your tank at any time, the chemicals would kill the Live Rock. I will not have a hospital or quarantine tank available. Let me know your input on that. <If copper is used, it certainly won't help the rock any.  Invertebrates will be lost. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your help. Mitch

Marine Tank Stocking Question I am planning my first marine tank (75 Gallons) and I need to know if these fish will be ok in there: Ocellaris Clown Royal Gramma Blue Hippo Tang Kaudern's Cardinal Humbug Damsel Flame Angel Firefish Goby If they are okay, in what order should I introduce them?  John <Good choices... put the animals in... in the order you present them... in groups of 2, 2 and the last three species. Bob Fenner>

Starting Off Right! (New Marine Systems) Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. at your service today!> Here is my plan.. I have a 125 gallon aquarium. I also have a Sea Clone 150 protein skimmer, and a Fluval 404 canister filter for filtering. I plan on using 4 powerheads around 250 gph. I'm going to use about 150lbs of live rock and about 50lbs of live sand for seeding and add an additional 50lbs of non-living sand. This is going to be a fish-only tank. No inverts or corals, so for lighting, I will only be using 2- 36" 50\50 bulbs. I'm going to be curing the rock in the tank itself. So is there anything else I'm missing. Since this is going to be my first saltwater tank, I don't want to fail or get discouraged. Thanks for all your input. Joe <Well, Joe- I'm glad that you're planning ahead! That's the key to success! As far as your system is concerned, I am a big fan of protein skimming in any marine tank. Make sure that you really work the Sea Clone, and pull a few cups of dark skimmate every week from the tank. This skimmer has a somewhat checkered reputation for effectiveness, so really make sure it's doing the job...tweak it as necessary to get the right results. In regard to the Fluval- it's a fine filter, but, as with all mechanical filtration systems, it needs to be cleaned and have the media replaced often. If not properly attended to on a regular, frequent basis, the mechanical media within the filter can become "nutrient traps", retaining detritus and other organics that can gradually deteriorate your water quality. Be sure to follow a religious maintenance schedule, including the aforementioned filter cleaning, as well as regular cleaning of the skimmer, and frequent small water changes (like 10% weekly, if you can do it). Stock the tank sensibly, with compatible fishes, and feed them carefully. Best of luck in you journey into the exciting world of saltwater aquariums. Be sure to make liberal use of the vast free information on marine systems that we have on the WWM site! We're here if you need us! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Specific Gravity for a FO Marine Aquarium (8/13/04) What is the lowest advisable permanent specific gravity for a FOWLR tank containing Lionfish and a Porc. Puffer? <1.017 to 1.020> I have heard the lower the S.G., the lower the chances for parasitic infestation (within reason of course) is 1.021-1.022 too low? <Nope should be fine and you can go even lower in a FO marine set up to between 1.017 and 1.020, with the exception of fish from the Red Sea where natural specific gravity is higher @ 1.027, Achilles tangs, some seahorses, and several fish that have symbiotic relationships with invertebrates like clownfish. These require a consistent specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 to thrive. For additional information on specific gravity in marine systems please have a look at this article......... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm

Why Won't My New Fish Eat? Evening to whomever is catching tonight! << Blundell here >> Last Sunday I purchased a Blackcap Basslet.  Did all the usual checks and fish looked fine and was eating in the LFS tank.  Brought em home and placed him into quarantine.  Being the usual quarantine tank there is the sponge filter and few PVC fittings.   This guy hangs out between the base of the filter and the top of where the sponge part starts.  I am feeding twice a day per the LFS recommendation, a marine color type flake in the am and an enriched frozen brine in the evening when I come home from work.  This guy will not come out from his lair.  If the food floats by him and it is in front of his nose he takes it and that is it.   My concern is that he may not really be getting enough nourishment. << Valid concern.  This is all too common, and unfortunately not much you can do.  I would just make sure he isn't being harassed by other fish, and wait it out. >>  Any suggestions here?  He is in a 10 gal. tank, all water parameters are OK and  I siphon out whatever is not being eaten.  He is a gorgeous fish, no signs of illness (yet)! Thank you kindly for your advice! << I would suggest using some live brine or live mysis.  It is rare to find a fish that won't come running out for live food.  Use this until he is comfortable and will take prepared and frozen foods. >> <<  Blundell  >>

New Tank Questions Dear Mike D<Hi again> Thanks you very much for your quick reply.<You're welcome>  Your answers put my mind to rest as I thought my tank was heavily infested with some sort of parasite.<Understandable as the cycling process can be mystifying when first beginning.> Nevertheless I will keep my tank empty till the nitrite is undetectable.<Excellent and thank you!>  I purchased about 5 pounds of LR today as you recommended.  I'll give up surgeons until I get a larger tank.<Another very good decision. I suspect that eventually you'll end up truly enjoying this hobby, even with the bad beginning.>  Again, thank you.<You're VERY welcome> Asma

29 Gal Set-up Oh Great SW Masters... << Sorry, you have to settle for me instead. >> I have been all over the internet and imbedded in reading material, but seeing as how I have a pretty specific issue, I felt it necessary to drop you guys a line. I am converting a 29gal cichlid set-up over to a FO SW tank.  I plan on having mostly artificial decorations (bleached and dried LR, etc), a handful of 5-6 fish, and 1-2 pieces of LR just for filtration and bio needs. My question...I am running a Penguin 170 w/ BioWheel right now with a separate powerhead which keeps the water really clean (especially with my religious water changes).  I would like to be able to make the conversion without buying a new filter. My LFS is recommending just adding a Skilter 400 to my current set-up, but I read little about them that is positive.  Instead of messing with a Skilter, can I just add a good skimmer and keep the Penguin running? << Oh yes of course.  I would clean out that penguin and make it like new, but a good skimmer is a big help. The key here is how many fish you have, and how much feeding.  Live rock will definitely help out, so I highly recommend you get plenty of it.  But your penguin and a good skimmer provide a lot of leeway. >> I'd really appreciate your help! << Now don't write me back asking what is a good skimmer.... because I don't know. >> Thanks, << Best of luck >> Matt <<  Adam Blundell  >>

150 gallon fish only tank Hi Bob and crew, my name is Tim, and I am trying to break into marine fishkeeping.  My store contact told me to read your book, and I have, along with a couple other ones too.  I am extremely lucky in that a family friend is giving me a 150 gallon glass aquarium and a custom stand that they made. <Wow, I'll say. What a gift!> The stand has an aluminum/plywood frame, and so it's super durable, but it is entirely closed, which might hamper my filtration abilities. <Yes, and do take care to not have the aluminum frame interact with the system water... and vice versa> With a large tank at my disposal, I am hoping to raise 2 or 3 larger species in a fish only system with live sand/rock.  After tons of research in-text and online, I have decided upon an Odonus niger and a Diodon holocanthus as my must-haves and possibly adding a Paracanthurus Hepatus and/or an Echidna catenata, if there is room. <Possibly... with attention to make sure the less aggressive feeders get enough to eat> I know that the trigger and the porcupine are aggressive, messy eaters, and I have read up on most of the common filtration methods and components.  I just can't seem to make up my mind on what to use.  If I can get a sump under the stand, I want to run a DIY sump with perhaps a wet/dry (the less time my hands are spent in the tank the better!) but if I can't then I might try a deep sand bed, plenum, or even reverse flow under-gravel.  Either way I plan on using two large hang on power filters that are currently being used on the tank, and a good protein skimmer (do you know anything about the Kent Marine Nautilus? Kent seems like a name to trust. http://www.kentmarine.com/nte.html). <A little... I am a bigger fan of other lines... as you will find by reading through the many FAQs on WWM on skimmer selection>   I also know I want to utilize live rock and possibly sand (depending on if I have a substrate at all), but again I'm not sure if it will be placed in a sump or not. <Some there, some elsewhere>   If you were in my position (assuming the stand isn't an issue) what equipment would you use to maximize cost and effectiveness? <I am given to propose the outside power filters and the external sump and skimmer... as I strongly suspect you will be "upgrading" to more of a reef set-up in several months... You display the inherent curiosity and wonder of a "rapid evolver" in our interest> I plan on keeping the tank in my room, by the way, so a quiet system would be appreciated. <Do investigate the pump recommendations on WWM and elsewhere> I know a fish only tank can skimp on filtration and get away with it, especially with only 2 fish in 150 gallons.  But I want my livestock to be healthy and happy.  Many thanks for producing a great book, and also a great web resource. <Thank you for your involvement and kind words. Do keep looking into your options for filtration till you feel comfortable to proceed. You will know. Bob Fenner>

Best Filtration for a 110g FO Tank  I'm setting up a 110 gallon fish only tank.  I work at a highly regarded pet shop where everyone is very experienced,  <you're very lucky and so are your customers. I wish I had one of those around when I started>  ..and they are all telling me something different.  <That is not all that unusual in this hobby. I am sure you have heard the expression "different strokes for different folks". There is more than one way to get the same or similar effect >  For filtration for a fish only tank is it better to have a canister and a hang on filter, a wet dry with a hang on, or just a wet dry? What is the ideal filtration for a fish only tank?  < Live rock, sand and a Protein skimmer would be very beneficial. The type of fish you want keep should be taken into consideration when making this decision. For instance Puffers, Eels and Triggers are much messier eaters, heavy waste producers and can have few if any clean up critters in their tanks as most will make meals of the clean up crew. So as a result require more filtration than some of the cleaner less messy fish. I am really not sure there is any ideal. As you can gather form your co workers advice there are different ways to do the same thing. The best advice I can give you is to do some research of your own and once you have done some reading, formulate some questions and ask for trusted friends experiences. You can start with this article Archetypal "Fish-Only Marine Systems"  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishonsetup.htm as well as the related FAQs http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fosetupfaqs.htm and  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fosetupfaq3.htm   You could also post here on the Chat Forums http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ asking what has worked best for folks with your size tank and proposed stock list.  There are also some good threads on http://www.reefcentral.com.  What works well for one may not work well for another. I can tell you canisters are not my favorite filters. I have 2 high end canisters sitting in my garage. They came highly recommended by several folks whose opinions I trust. I find them to be a pain to get out from under the tank for cleaning and media changes and not only that, no matter how careful I was opening and closing them, I always had water on the carpet. Some might say I am just messy :). So guess what.....I didn't clean the darn things as often as I should have and I had some problems in my tanks at the time and lost some fish. It does not matter how ideal something may be if you don't use it properly it could be considered be close to useless, as those canisters were for me.  I am not sure which, if any of the hang on the back filters would be appropriate for a 110g. I have done quite a bit of research and most if not all are rated for smaller tanks. I did come across one hang on the back wet/dry trickle with a skimmer but have no experience with it. It seems from reading the posts on several boards that wet/dry trickle filters are preferred by most FO keepers Most of the folks with tanks over 50g seem to use sumps and refugiums. I can say I personally need something I can get to easily without making a mess. >  Thanks!  <Your quite welcome>, Leslie

Evolve to FO pt. 2 A very good evening to you crew, .....(Evolving to a reef tank from a FO ?)) <I wish you the same! Ryan with you today> A rundown on my set-up first. Should I include a rundown each time I e-mail you?) <Yes, far too little time to find your previous email> 180g tank 20g sump (tank double drilled with two 1 1/2" holes at each end with pipes to surface to skim from top) Both leading to trickle filters with bioballs. <Cool> One goes to a skimmer first, a Turboflotor 1000 and then to bioballs) <I would certainly lose these, a handful at a time.> One goes straight into bioballs, (both have prefilters). Also have a Berlin skimmer in sump driven by  Eheim 1060 which doesn't seem to produce much skimmate at all. <Is it new?  May still be breaking in, or if it's used it may need a new pump> Nonetheless, I think having two skimmers is a great idea! <As do I> Two canister filters (which I hate) one has nitrate reducing granules (haha) one has chemical, (carbon & RowaPhos) filtration. The chemical one goes through UV (55watt) back to tank. <Nice> SG = 1022  Ph 8.2 Temp = 80F Ammonia = 0     Nitrite = 0   Nitrate = 40ppm ....OK, Alk = 4.23       Dkh 11.8  Calcium 270 !.........Now a week later it is 290. I am  raising my calcium by the use of Kalkwasser.........SLOWLY !!! <Have you considered a calcium reactor?  Much easier on your blood pressure ;)  > I would like to fire two million questions at you guys but I know I can't in one go, so here are just a couple? <Sure> First of all. Can I, or rather should I  (once my refugium is set up (DSB LR Macro etc) ) Use an external skimmer, for the supply to the refugium? <You can, but many feel that refugiums provide more nutrient export if supplied directly with tank water.> If yes (and I know you hate to be brand specific but an external skimmer that is rated for around 500G will do fine as my system will be around 250G (I live in the UK).....Any preferences? This will simply run through the refugium and under gravity back to the under tank sump. <I don't know much about brand availability in the UK- For this type of cash I would build my own.  I would look into Euro-Reef's CS series, they're a well-made product if you can get them in your area.> Also I intend eventually (after doing my homework) to keep an Anemone. Maybe a Bubbletip or one of the easiest to keep that may be a home to a clown or two. I have at the moment in my 6x2x2 display, 2x150wattMH and 2x40watt Actinics. Would it be more beneficial to the anemones to install a 3x150watt MH at 14k each and if I do this, would I need to add actinics too? <Certainly would do the metal halide upgrade.  Actinic to personal preference- some prefer this effect more than others.> One more then I'm done.....Promise! <Careful...I have that in writing!> The DSB...... Should it be just fine grade sand? or can I just take out of my tank the mixture of fine (aragonite) and rough stuff  (crushed coral) to seed it? <Yes, but don't mix, just shove a handful of old stuff in a corner where you won't see it.  Leave the crushed coral out.> Anyway I am getting conflicting ideas on how best to make this DSB as I guess the LFS's are trying to sell me Miracle mud etc..........Any opinions? <Isn't right for your application.  Get some aragonite, silica-free sand.  Aim for .2-.8mm grain size, and make sure make it deep- Sand of this quality has a half-life of about 24 months.  Check it out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm> Very much appreciate the information and support given freely and impartially on this great site.... <Thank you, glad you are a part of it> Cheers, and many, many thanks crew! <Anytime!  Good luck, Ryan> Simon

Starting a Fish Only System Hello, <Howdy> I have been enjoying Mr. Fenner's book, and have found your website to be very informative.  I had seen Mr. Fenner's thoughts cited on several other web pages, and was pleasantly surprised that someone of his stature in the industry would be providing such a service. I was hoping you would be able to answer a few questions that I had.  Intend to start a fish only system, am looking at getting a 90 gal. aquarium, and wanted to gain as much information as possible.  Visited several LFSs and had two recommend starting with a canister filter, and the third recommended an integrated wet/dry with lots of live rock.  I notice in your FAQs that you are not big fans of wet/dry, and was wondering what you thought of starting with a canister filter, protein skimmer, and some live rock. <I would leave out the canister filter... and consider a sump type arrangement instead>   Would it be all right to cycle the tank with 50 pounds of live rock, and add more over time. <Yes> Also, I am refinishing my basement, where I intend to place the aquarium, and was wondering if paint fumes would have any adverse affect on the system during the cycling process.  The fish I am considering would be  neon goby, a percula clown,  royal Gramma, a flame angel, and possibly 2 Heniochus butterflies.  Would the tank be big enough for the butterflies and am I getting to the limit of a 90 gal. or would I be able to add a few Blue-Green Chromis. <Yes to all>   All of these seem to be listed as peaceful, except the flame angel, and I was wondering if you thought they would get along. <Should, yes> Also, with the exception of the flame angel being added last would there be any concerns about stocking order.  Thank you for your time. Sorry for the number of questions, but the wealth of information which you offer can be somewhat overwhelming to one just starting out.   <Glad to share> Thank again, Dan Kohne <Bob Fenner>
Re: Starting a Fish Only System
Thank you very much for your quick reply.  I'm sure I will be back with more questions as I delve more deeply into marine aquaria.  I will also make sure to use the Click to Pay button, and encourage others to do so.  Look at this as a dynamic book, with the ability to converse with the author and consider what that is worth. Thanks again, Dan Kohne <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

75 Gallon F/O Aggressive Setup Hi to all at WetWebMedia from the U.K. My Name is George I live in London. <Hi George, JasonC here... I once lived in London myself.> Firstly I just gotta say your site is absolutely first class I've been browsing for literally months and there's still bits I've missed!! Basically I've acquired my new aquarium, its a 48x17x22, approx 75 gallons....I think, :-) I plan to set it up as an aggressive tank housing perhaps 2-3 impressive specimens, I've had thoughts about stocking but I would like your professional opinion. :-) <Ok... a 75 really won't fit too much so you'd better be careful.> The tank will be run on one Fluval 204 and an Eheim 2260 for filtration with a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer and 2 1800 litre per hour powerheads for water movement. I would like to add live rock later but at the moment the finances will have to recover first, LOL. <Add the live rock before the fish if you can.> Does this sound like a good setup, for stock I was thinking Harlequin Tusk, Puffer (specific unsure) and a Volitans? <That could work, but again... each of these fish could live in this tank by themselves, they certainly get large enough.> Do these sound like good choices or will the puffer just shred his tank mates? <No, this is a good mix... all the fish would get along.> Any suggestions on stocking would be great as there are so many variations for a tank of this type and I need some of your professional clarification! :-) <There are many choices, and to me... I'm always interested in keeping whatever fish it is for as long as possible. I hate the thought of raising a fish to a certain size and then getting rid of it because I don't have the space. I'd rather see you plan for a different mix that would live well and for a long time in a tank of this size than any one of the fish you list which would outgrow this system.> Also I'm confused by the substrate issue, which would you use in a tank like this, I was thinking a very thin layer perhaps one inch, again am unsure. <That would be fine - easier to clean, probably a good match for such mess makers.> Sorry if my post is very long but you guys are the best and I trust your knowledge much more than any LFS! Kind Regards George. PS. Iv read the "conscientious marine aquarist" its by far the best most honest and inspiring book around! :-) <Cheers, J -- >

- Livestock Selection, Follow-up - I guess I'm a little confused. <Oh?> I have read on WWM many times that for a FO setup, LR may not be the way to go. <Certainly I've never written that... live rock has many benefits to most all tank-types. One of the best reasons is that it can provide a source of live food for your fish. Natural nitrate reduction is another.> I have 2 saltwater tanks now that are doing wonderful and they are fully stocked with LR and LS. I plan on starting my 3rd tank soon, but I planned on having one or two fish that would sadly eat any inverts I add to the tank.  I've read many times that if you don't plan on having (or can't have) inverts then adding LR may not be the way to go. <Don't agree with this premise one bit.> I can understand that the Flame Angel and Tang would be much happier with LR.  In the e-mail below it talks about nitrate reduction.  Isn't worrying a ton about nitrates in a FO a little over kill? <No.> You guys are the experts, so I'll listen to what you have to say.  I'm just a little confused why I read on WWM that no LR in a FO is ok for some people but not everyone. <I'm not sure what FAQ you are talking about, but there will always be a difference in opinion. I think you'll find with further research that the majority of respondents on WWM take my stance.> I value all of the info I get from you guys. Keep up the head work so guys like me don't end up making mistakes!!! Thanks once again! Steve PS  Oh yeah... really, how do you guys end up answering questions on WWM? <Really, someone offered me the red pill and I ate it. Cheers, J -- >

- Starting a New Tank - Hi, how are you? I want to start a new 55 gal. SW fish only tank. I was wondering what time of filtration system I should aim for. I had in mind to do a sump so.. what would be the best for my system... Berlin system, use live rock and bio-media, canister filter, wet-dry?? <Something similar to the Berlin system is how I would go - live rock, skimmer, sump, good circulation in the tank.> I know that they are all good type of filtration media but what do you recommend the most for an F.O. tank? <Just that, doesn't need to be complicated.> I'm planning to have some hardy species like damsels, clown fish, an angel fish and maybe an anemone. <I'd skip the anemone, but if you insist make certain that you have very strong lighting - metal halide is what you would need.> Should I use live rock in the sump? <I wouldn't hurt.> Use a good filter... <If you used the Berlin method, the filter sock would be more than adequate.> Anyways.. help me, I read some books including yours but I still don't know what would be the best for what I want... If you have some question for giving me a better answer please ask me. <No worries, as I said, the simple approach is the best one.> Thx for your help Very good site by the way an sorry for my English, I'm French :P <Aucun s'inqui?e, mon plaisir.> Charles <Cheers, J -- >

Anemones Hi, Are there any species of anemone for a fish only aquarium. I have a blue and white T8 fluorescent tube, can you suggest any? which will also be safe to house an ocellaris clownfish? Many Thanks Aaron. <Hi Aaron, anemones are one of the more difficult reef creatures to keep, I would not recommend any for your current set up.  T8 bulbs are normal output fluorescents and do not give off enough light to meet the anemones requirements.  They are also very sensitive creatures and should not be added to a tank until the tank is well established, well established for many months, to years.  Check out the link below, and the related links at the top of the page for more information.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm  >

New Fish Only Setup >Love your site..... The Faq's have given me an overload of information though, and it always seems to be specifically tailored to each individuals tank.  So here are my questions: I have a brand new 125 gallon glass aquarium... that I'm intending to do FISH ONLY (I like puffers and yellow tangs mostly, maybe a lionfish but probably not).  DO I use a 4 inch live sand bed AND live rock? (only) for biological filtration? >>Not necessarily.   >What is an adequate skimmer for my size tank? >>The manufacturer will have that outlined based on the brand you go for.  I'll recommend Euro-Reef, AquaC, and CPR. >Do I have the tank drilled in one of the corners and install that Richard Durso system with a sump underneath?? >>This is a good method of getting the water from the tank to the sump. >Do I need a sump, [or] is the skimmer with LR and LS adequate with powerheads to move the water around?? >>For fish only..?  Hhh..  If you had a KICK-ASS skimmer, then I'd say yes, depending on what fishes you're housing of course.  I think what you really need are a few books.  "The Marine Aquarium Handbook: Beginner to Breeder", by Martin Moe, Jr., "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", by Bob Fenner--two GREAT books to start off with that will REALLY help you understand and PLAN (the handbook can even help you build some of this stuff yourself) your system far better than I or our FAQs can, honestly. >ALL of your help is greatly appreciated.  Chris >>In a nutshell, yes, you can filter using a DSB (deep sand bed, not just live sand) and live rock, you'll need COPIOUS amounts considering the animals you mentioned.  In my opinion you might do well to utilize a refugium, either hanging on the tank or underneath.  Skimming, absolutely, righteous skimming (Euro-Reef, spendy, but WORTH EVERY PENNY) can run a system entirely.  The nutshell got big, buy hey.  Marina

New Fish Only Setup  >Thanks for your reply...  >>You're welcome.  >I went to my LFS and bought the marine aquarium handbook, while I was there I was talking to one of the helpful people (read sales guy) and he told me that they could setup my system for me for 50.00 an hour.  >>Heh.. I guess the price has gone up. I did setup and maintenance for a few years, priced either by the job or at $30/hr. This was back in 1990-93.  >My questions after reading the marine handbook is that I still intend to go FOWLR a deep sand bed (4 inches), invertebrates, Remora Pro protein skimmer.. Sales guy at LFS still says that he recommends a wet/dry filter for this setup..  >>Ok. Nothing really inherently wrong with this, especially if you're not using much live rock. Nitrification has to be accomplished somehow.  >Can you give me advice???  >>Since you have the book you'll be reading that nitrification, the oxidation of ammonia and resultant nitrogenous wastes, MUST be accomplished (this is also called biological filtration). Without it your animals will quickly die, especially given the action of ammonia at the higher pH levels of marine systems. HOW this is accomplished can be a matter of debate, and is very much a matter of personal preferences. Wet/dry filtration is a means of oxidation of ammonia (nitrification), the end result of which is nitrate. With me so far? What your skimmer will do is reduce the amount of DOCs (dissolved organic compounds) that will decompose into ammonia, thus leading to HIGHER nitrate as an end result. Avoid that, avoid higher nitrate. The deep sand bed will allow the creation of an anoxic region in which there will grow (VERY slowly, much more so compared to the aerobics of nitrification fame) anaerobic bacteria the further break down nitrate, partial end result of which is good old Nitrogen gas. Now, the deep sand bed can certainly also be harnessed to handle the nitrification bit, but will be better enhanced by live rock. (This also helps with denitrification.) So, my advice is to read as much as you can, including on this site, price things out (for instance, good quality live rock, at a ratio of around 1-2lbs./gallon, and the wet/dry unit), and make your decision based on the pros and cons of each and what WORKS FOR YOU. As I said, this can be rather subjective. As I also said, a wet/dry can work just fine, heck, you can go with an undergravel filter if you want to. Takes a bit more maintenance, but they DO work. Marina 

WQ parameters Hi there, <Howdy> Great website, very informative. I have a quick question about Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite readings. What are considered "safe" for a fish-only system? All the cheap home test kits have different detection levels, and they don't specify whether the results are as Nitrogen or not, i.e. NH3 vs. NH3-N. Please clarify this for me. <Zip, nada, zilch for ammonia and nitrite, and a few tens ppm of nitrate are about right. Bob Fenner> Thanks much. Tracy Manning
Re: WQ parameters
Thanks for the quick response, but 20 ppm of NO3 as N equates to around 80 ppm of NO3 as NO3 - which one are we talking about here? <The latter, which the vast majority of kits measure. Bob Fenner>

Starting a fish only marine tank Hi guys, you have been extremely helpful in the past and I have a few other questions to ask. <Good to hear> I have a 35g tank with one Aquaclear 200 and one Aquaclear 150 along with 150watt heater. I have been planning to set this up as a African Cichlid tank, but I am so drawn to the Yellow Tangs and Clown Fish that I have to ask. can I use these filters adequately for a fish only marine tank? If this set up won't work, what would I have to change? <For the tang, you need a much larger tank, at least 4' and 6' would be better. The clowns would be OK. I would add some live rock (25-30#) to help with bio filtration and a skimmer would be a great addition as well. A couple of power heads to get some water movement wouldn't hurt. Don> Cheers. Mike

Filtration setup on a fish only. 08/03/03 Hello again! <Hi Leo, PF with you tonight> I am planning of starting a 500 gallon saltwater system (fish only), but was wondering for  the filter what should I use , I was thinking about an overflow that will go trough a pre-filter (sponge, foam of some sort ....), after that the water will fall into the bio-balls, to get to the sump where there will be a Berlin protein skimmer,  with the water  returning from the skimmer  to the sump (maybe through  carbon filter not know if needed?) and  then back to the system. Will that system work or should change something , was looking trough your site and now I don't really know what to do ? Also have an U.V but don't know if should use it and where exactly! Thank you again for  your help. Leo <Well Leo, I would skip the pre-filter unless you plan on cleaning it out every day or so, it will become a nitrate sink. As for carbon, here's the FAQ on it: www.wetwebmedia.com/carbonfaqs.htm . I would advise running it for a few days every month with the system you are envisioning. The sump sounds good, but you don't really need the bio balls. Have you thought about a refugium instead? Read more here: www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm . It would not only help filter your water, but would add planktonic life to help support your tank. By placing it first in your system, the detritus laden water would act as fertilizer for your detritivores/macro algae instead of adding nitrates to your system. As for uv, IMO it's not really needed in most cases. Here's some more info for you. www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm . All in all, it sounds like a nice setup, which I had a 500g tank to work with. : )  Have a good evening, PF>

Water issue 07/20/03 Dear Bob, <Well not Bob, but one of his minions, PF> I tried seeking the answer to my questions on the FAQ list, but alas I could not.  Thus I am writing to you.  I have a newly established marine tank.  It's a 75 gallon oceanic with a crushed coral substrate.  I have a Yellow-Tail and a Domino Damsel.  My equipment consists of an Amiracle Wet-Dry filter and sump (MR-200), an Aquamedic T-Flotor 1000 protein skimmer, an Ocean Clear canister filter, and a Lil Giant pump that drives the water into the tank (3MDQ-SC).   The water we used to fill the tank was tap water.  We dechlorinated it and used Coralife scientific grade salt.  My problem is that my water's pH level is too low.  I've been adding Kent Marine super buffer to it once a day, about 1 Tbsp dissolved in tap water and added to the sump.  Two days ago I started adding Kent Marine Tech-M magnesium supplement.  As of today, here are my water measurements: pH = 8.0 (from a low of 7.5) NO2 = 1.6 NH3 = 0 KH = 15 The age of the tank is approximately two weeks old.  Now the guys at my fish store are giving me varying types of information.  The latest was to add the magnesium in order to facilitate the SuperBuffer. The fish seem to be ok, although the Domino Damsel has something on its left sideways fin (sorry for not knowing the proper term).  Their appetites are good and they do not seem to be showing any signs of stress. Whatever advice you have would be appreciated. Thank you. Tom MAIT (Marine Aquarist In-Training) <Well Maity, two weeks and the tank is still in the stages of curing. At this point your LR should be curing (and you should be using LR). While your tank is still in the setup stage, I would recommend removing the crush coral and replacing it with a deep sand bed. The DSB will not only help remove nitrates, it will also help buffer your water. Check here for more info: www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm. If you're not using live rock, I would also recommend you read this and immediately change your setup: www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm . A lot of dechlorinators lower pH, are you buffering your top off water? Also, you should be aerating it for 24 hours before use, same with your tank water. Hopefully this will help, PF>

African Cichlids to a Marine Tank <Hello! Ryan here> I have kept Africans for 3 years now and I have been researching the possibility of switching to a fish only marine tank. <Great.> I have a 55 gallon and I am thinking of 1 porcupine puffer, 1 trigger fish, 1 coral beauty, 1 flame angel, and maybe 1 black and white clownfish. <No way.  You could have 1 or 2 of the fish you selected, excluding the puffer and trigger. You can't mix angels either.> I have a few questions.   1) Will the puffer and trigger get along? <Sure, in a 200 gallon setup.>  2) Will they eat the dwarfs? <No>  3) Will the dwarfs be compatible because I have read that only one dwarf to a tank. <No, pick 1.  The tanks I have seen with multiple angels are hundreds of gallons>  4) Is it realistic to get a black and white clownfish?  I have seen the perculas everywhere, but not the black and white ones. <May have to mail order it if it's not readily available in your area.  Many LFSs will special order you a fish if a deposit is left.>  5) I have done plenty of research but is there any important info that you can me besides the basics - protein skimmer, live rock, pH, etc.?  <Too much to include in this conversation, I'm afraid.  Keep reading the FAQs.>  6) Africans take a lickin' and keep on tickin' - I am hesitant to (go) with the marines because they seem so delicate.  I understand that they are expensive but are most of the precautions for beginners or what? <Depends on the fish in question.  Also, hardiness is a highly variable term.  Resilient to what?  Toxic water conditions, aggression from other fishes, etc.  Too broad a question.  African cichlids are closely related to Damsels, so I would start there if you're looking for something similar.  Good luck.>

Almost Ready to Make My Big Purchase I am new to the marine aquarium, and I am almost about ready to dive in.  You guys have been very helpful so far, and the CMA was a fantastic resource.  Here is my set up, and forgive me first off with the size and no sump, but money and space are a big issue.  I will be setting up: 1) a FOWLR 2) 40 gal breeder w/ 40lbs. of LR 3) Aqua C hot skimmer w/ the 1200 maxi jet 4) 2-3 powerheads 5) HOT filter w/ carbon that will run 3-4 days/month for mechanical & chemical filtration. Live stock: 1) pair of percula clowns 2) Royal Gramma 3) 3 yellow tail damsels 4) Cherub angel 5) various cleaners (shrimp, hermits, snails, brittle stars) 6) Feather dusters >>Nix the damsels and your stocking list will be safer, they could get aggressive with the clowns and that little angel.  Consider instead Chromis, small cardinals, or neon or clown gobies (small gobies). >Here are my questions: 1) Should I use a shallow sand bed >1 inch or a DSB <5 inches? >>Since you're going with no sump, I suggest a DSB. >2) I am not planning on buying live sand due to the purchase of LR, is this ok?  Will the LR make the sand live?   >>This is fine, it is likely this is how the purchased live sand became live in the first place.  Cure the l/r first, then place in display, then add sand (aragonite or other calcareous is preferred), seed with piece of shrimp to start cycle and feed sand and l/r.  When readings get to zero and nitrate is low, then you can begin stocking. >And is aragonite a good selection or should I use crushed coral? >>For DSB, sand is preferred to crushed coral. >3) Due to cost and heat output, I would rather not use compact fluorescents, are NO fluorescents (one 10,000K and one actinic blue) ok?   >>Not familiar with N/O's that have a Kelvin rating of 10,000K, but if they exist they should be fine for the most part.  Coralline algae does need available calcium, so aragonite would be preferable, as is good quality l/r.   >Can I get coralline algae growth from this or do I need compacts?  Do compacts throw off a lot of heat? >>I believe that it isn't the lights themselves that put out so much heat as it is the ballast that does.  To the best of my knowledge the ballast can be located somewhat remotely, depending on the setup of the power compacts.  It is my opinion, however, that in the long run you'll be happier with the pc's.  Contact a good lighting supply, such as hellolights.com (or one of our sponsors) and ask them these questions as they ARE the "experts".  Best of luck to you!  Marina

Adding Live rock to F.O. system... >Good day Wet-Webbers, >>And good day to you, Lenny.  Marina here. >I have a 140 gal. F.O. system using Bio-balls/Protein Skimmer w/ 50/50 Actinic fluorescent lighting.  I have an aggressive tank w/ lion, purple tang, emperor angel, Foxface, harlequin tusk and Clown trigger.  Is it possible to add a large piece of Live Rock to my tank without changing lighting (or if so, enLIGHTEN me)  I thought doing this would help bring my nitrates down and secondly allow my herbivores to graze on the rock.   >>Of course you can.  Live rock generally requires no lighting unless it has photosynthetic animals or algae upon it that you wish to grow.  However, do know that if it is encrusted with such, it will quickly be consumed.  Also, please know that in order to reduce nitrates, you will need an amount of live rock equal to 1-2lbs./gallon of total tank volume.  A more efficient way to garner natural nitrate reduction would be to plumb in a refugium, where you can put in live rock, a deep sand bed (a.k.a. DSB), and grow macroalgae cultures that will help sop up excess nutrients, and they'll be removed via harvest of said algae.  Please search our site for all articles and FAQ's on refugiums (I do prefer this methodology to plenums) for complete setup and maintenance information.  Also, don't let anyone try to tell you that the wet-dry filtration method is a "nitrate factory".  You will end up with nitrates no matter WHAT method of nitrification is used, and their reasoning is logical fallacy, true sophistry.  What is needed is a method by which the nitrates can be further reduced to their components, ending with nitrogen gas.  This is well-executed utilizing the refugium with DSB. >Right now my tank has lava rock and skeleton coral with Puka shell (Aruba) substrate. >>Begin on our homepage http://www.wetwebmedia.com -->go to "marine aquarium articles" -->go to "set-up" -->go to the sections on natural nitrate reduction, plenums (you'll see what a PITA they are), deep sand beds, and refugia articles.  There's more information there than you can shake a stick at, and by the time you're finished you'll practically be an expert (ex-spurt?)!  Best of luck to you!  Marina

Overflow and Sump set-up for FO Just want to say thanks for the previous help,, but have another question to ask. I have a 120 gal tank with internal overflow and single return, the bulkhead from below tank will flow into one sump with 1.25 pvc inline will be 2-45degree elbows a gate valve and union with a ball valve before the entrance of the wet/dry filter. <I suggest using valves, etc. on the return from the pump, not on the drain line. Use the valve to control return, not drain.> The wet/dry will be inline with a 15gal tank which will house my aqua-c skimmer with 700g Sen pump recommended by aqua-c. <You may want to go with a larger sum to accommodate needed water volume in case of a power outage, etc. See WetWebMedia.com marine set-ups for suggestions.> Exiting the second sump I plan on having a md-30rlxt Iwaki for the single return back to tank with about 8-10 head with  3/4" pvc. Will this work for fish only.......... thanks for your help. <Depends on fish you wish to keep and the flow rate and filtration required for these fish. I suggest researching fish wish list at WWM.com and tailoring flow rate/filtration to these requirements. Much to learn! Hope this helps!  Craig>

A New Beginning! Hello Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member today!> Hope all is well! <Sure is!> I'm replacing my 29gal. FOWLR, with a 40gal. breeder tank. I like the width 36"x18"x16".I currently have 1 Flower Anemone, 2 False Percula clowns,1 Royal Gramma a few snails, and one Emerald crab. (For anyone else reading this, these fish get along very well, if you're wondering what 3 fish to keep in a small tank.) If I bag my fish individually and put them in my 10 gal. quarantine tank, to keep them at a constant temperature, will this be o.k. for 1 day? I don't want to try to catch them twice. <I understand your desire not to catch the fish twice, but I think that the stress of being netted carefully twice is much better than the stress that they would endure being bagged for 24 hours. You can catch the fish easier in the QT by simply draining some water down so that it's easier to catch them. Besides, you want to make sure that the tank cycles completely before reintroducing them into the new tank.> Hopefully, this will keep the stress down. I have to add more new sand in both the 40 gal. tank and a small 23"x 4"x 12" hang on refugium I just made, and have to wait till the water clears from the sand. I will add the current 29 gallons of water/40 lbs. LR and sand to the new tank. After testing the water, can I just add my livestock into the new tank, or will I have to wait for a tank cycling? <In my opinion, the tank will cycle; it's best to wait and test the water for a week or so to monitor the ammonia and nitrite level> Main question: In a 40gal.breeder tank, with a small DSB refugium, which is more important? A 4 inch DSB in the main tank for nitrate control, or water volume, for temperature stability/ better swimming range/ and overall health of the habitants? <Well, I like both, actually! Swimming room is important, but so is stability of water parameters and high water quality, which the DSB provides. A "remote" DSB is a good compromise...> I will have a 4 inch DSB in the refugium with greens and small shards of live rock, for Copepod production . I currently have a 1 inch Aragonite substrate in the 29 gal. and siphon it and do a 3 gal. water change twice a week. <I like to hear that! Twice a week, that's all I ask! LOL> I know, I lose all the little critters in the sand by siphoning, but feel it's more important to keep my tank nitrates low/ sand clean. Hopefully, the DSB in the refugium will help with some nitrate control. <Absolutely, a DSB in remote location will do the job quite well> Also, if perhaps over a year, I replace some of the Live Rock with new Live Rock, what do you do with the old rock? Keep it clean folks. : )  Thanks, Steve <Well, "old" live rock is still good rock. If it has been smothered by microalgae, you can place it in a unlit location (like a Rubbermaid or other container) for a few weeks, to help kill off the algae (unfortunately, some of the desirable life forms can be lost by this process, too)...It can and should be re-used. Good luck with your new system! Regards, Scott F.>

Hints for a newbie Hello                                       I have been thinking about setting up marine aquarium for sometime now. I already did some research and acquired most of my equipment. With time I would like to have a reef tank but for now I decided to start with a FOWLR system. Until I become a better keeper.  I just recently came across your website. (lots of information).  There a still some things I am unclear about and would love some tips. I will begin by providing the details of my setup:       - I have a 55 gallon glass tank (48" x 12" x 20")                     - CPR back pack skimmer with the bio media on the side. - AquaClear 500 with the carbon insert and the sponge media - 200 watts heater - 2 Aquaclear3000 powerheads for circulation - Coralife PC lighting 48"  4 X 65w    2 actinics/ 2 full spectrum bulbs I plan on keeping a yellow tang, couple clowns, maybe a damsel or some other fish. I will also keep crabs, snails and maybe a shrimp. First off - can you offer any advice as to my general    setup?  Does this sound like an appropriate mix of   equipment and inhabitants?  I know that the Aquaclear  filter is not very powerful but I decided to keep it     for the carbon. Would this be like a mechanical filter too? <Your set-up sounds fine. I advise plenty of live rock and perhaps removing the bio-media in the CPR depending on your choice of and stocking level of fish. The Aqua clear will provide some mechanical filtration as well as bio-filtration unless it's maintained often. Do so at least bi-weekly to prevent nitrate production. You may want a larger heater depending on your location.> I am sort of confused about the approach of cycling this tank. See I don't have the budget to purchase all rock necessary for my tank at once and curing it myself and then cycling the tank with the rock. So at the beginning I am planning to purchase about 15-20lbs of Live Rock from my LFS, fully cured and cycled and adding more with time. I will also purchase 50 pounds of aragonite with 15 pounds of that being live sand. What are my option of cycling this tank with 20 pounds of rock and some live sand? <With live rock and seeding the sand with live sand it should "cycle" quickly without fish or wastes. I would be cautious loading this new biosystem as it's capacity is low.> At my LFS I was told to put my substrate in along with like 8 damsels to cycle the tank and then once the tank cycles. They told me to bring back the damsels and put the initial 15-20 pounds of rock in and then stock the tank with my choice of fish. The guys at the LFS said that if I put their Fully Cured rock at the beginning it will die. What is your suggestion in my situation? <The rock won't die if the water params are correct (pH, temp, alk, calcium) and no ammonia or nitrites. With fully cured live rock, transported in a bucket or container of water short term, there would be essentially no die-off and the rock and sand would become established relatively quickly. I would skip the Damsels. They can be a problem to catch, introduce or host ick or other pests. I would introduce clean-up crew in new set-up after appropriate testing and feed shrimp/crabs fish food to provide nutrient load while you quarantine your new fish. WHAT, no quarantine? Better head over to WetWebMedia.com and look at the quarantine pages.> Should I also keep the bio media on the side of the CPR skimmer and in the AquaClear500? Or is that gonna produce an overload of nitrate along with my live rock after the system is cycled. <You can keep or remove. If you remove them from the start and stock slowly after appropriate QT, then the bio-capacity will grow to accommodate inhabitants as you stock.> Say that I get the cure rock form the LFS, should I clean it before putting it in the tank or how does that work? <Nope, if it's cured, just put it in the tank. Cured rock won't tend to have any dead material on it and will smell like clean ocean. You WANT the live materials on the rock, you are starting a miniature ecosystem.> Sorry for such an overload of questions but I just don't want my fish to suffer if a make bad decisions at the beginning. Thanks for your help. Sincerely Karl <No problem at all Karl. I suggest a good book and a quarantine set-up for your new fish. Search on each fish by name at WetWebMedia.com for any special requirements. Enjoy!  Craig>

New marine fish setup - 4/14/03 Hello                          I have been thinking about setting up marine aquarium for sometime now. I already did some research and acquired most of my equipment. With time I would like to have a reef tank but for now I decided to start with a FOWLR system. Until I become a better keeper. I just recently came across your website. (lots of information) <Ever adding to it> There a still some things I am unclear about and would love some tips. <Cool. That is what we are here for. Paul at your service. Sorry for the lateness of this reply though.> I will begin by providing the details of my setup:       - I have a 55 gallon glass tank (48" x 12" x 20")                     - CPR back pack skimmer with the bio media on the side. <Like this very much as this is what I primarily use in my setups as well.> - AquaClear 500 with the carbon insert and the sponge media <I don't think you will need the sponge filter> - 200 watts heater <About 3 watts of heat per gallon. 200 watt heater is fine but do it with 2 100 watt heaters> - 2 Aquaclear3000 powerheads for circulation - Coralife PC lighting 48"  4 X 65w    2 actinics/ 2 full spectrum bulbs I plan on keeping a yellow tang, couple clowns, maybe a damsel or some other fish. I will also keep crabs, snails and maybe a shrimp. <OK>  First off - can you offer any advice as to my general    setup?  Does this sound like an appropriate mix of       equipment and inhabitants?  I know that the Aquaclear      filter is not very powerful but I decided to keep it     for the carbon. Would this be like a mechanical filter too? <Sure. You can convert space for mechanical purposes too. Although you may not really need mechanical in this instance. See here about basic needs of the marine aquarium if you haven't already. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm please read through the links and FAQs that relate to you. I think you will find all the necessary information already there waiting for your eyes =)> I am sort of confused about the approach of cycling this tank. See I don't have the budget to purchase all rock necessary for my tank at once and curing it myself and then cycling the tank with the rock. So at the beginning I am planning to purchase about 15-20lbs of Live Rock from my LFS, fully cured and cycled and adding more with time. I will also purchase 50 pounds of aragonite with 15 pounds of that being live sand. <Not much to be confused about. I would set up a Rubbermaid with a heater and powerhead and throw rock with saltwater from water changes or aerated heated premixed saltwater to it and let it cycle for a few weeks to a month or so. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm read the articles and FAQs again, if you haven't already> What are my options of cycling this tank with 20 pounds of rock and some live sand? <Much information to be found on our site.> At my LFS I was told to put my substrate in along with like 8 damsels to cycle the tank and then once the tank cycles. They told me to bring back the damsels and put the initial 15-20 pounds of rock in and then stock the tank with my choice of fish. The guys at the LFS said that if I put their Fully Cured rock at the beginning it will die. What is your suggestion in my situation? <Don't get me started. =) First off don't cycle the tank with damsels. No need to put animals through the unnatural stresses that will probably occur with the cycling process. I would study up more about the biological processes outlined on our site in the various articles and FAQs of questions already asked and answered before buying from this store. Live rock will aid in the cycle process cured or not. But if this is a case of the rock being outstanding and so full of life then there is a chance it might die-off a bit through the cycle process. Again, lots of methods here but most people put the live rock and live sand in together and let them cycle together before putting fish in. Read more about live rock at the link I posted above. The store's heart is in the right place but I think they are executing poorly here. You be the deciding factor in you research and education. Then you can walk in there empowered with the knowledge of your needs (budgetary) and the needs of your future inhabitants (fish). You are on the right track! Do read the links posted above. Take your time should be no hurry here. The animals aren't going anywhere> Should I also keep the bio media on the side of the CPR skimmer and in the AquaClear500? <I would. I am not sure what you mean "by the side of the skimmer"?> Or is that gonna produce an overload of nitrate along with my live rock after the system is cycled. <Well, yes, that is part of the cycle> Say that I get the cured rock from the LFS, should I clean it before putting it in the tank or how does that work? <On all questions please read through our setup links and live rock links that I posted above. These questions have been answered many times before and are posted for all to read. I don't mean to dodge your questions Karl, but many emails coming in and no need to re-invent the wheel so to speak. You understand right??> Sorry for such an overload of questions but I just don't want my fish to suffer if a make bad decisions at the beginning. <Very good. I agree with this statement whole heartedly. That is why I do this. With your soon to be gained knowledge hopefully you will pass on to others so they too can feel the way you do. I appreciate your questions and am sure you will find the answers at the links posted above.>  Thanks for your help. <My/Our pleasure. Paul> Sincerely Karl

Reef to Fish-Only   4/14/03 Thanks for the response!<No problem>? I have a couple of other questions regarding switching from a reef tank to a fish only tank.<Shoot> Do I need to continue to add all of those additives still like calcium, magnesium - I was using SeaChem reef plus and reef complete- Or is none this necessary?<I don't see the need.  Normal water changes should be fine.> Is there any additives/ minerals I should add to a fish only tank?<Just a good 10-15% water change every week or two.>  I would imagine the reef buffer I have been adding to my water changes is no good anymore. I would also imagine I would just be using the standards test kits, testing for PH , nitrite , nitrate and ammonia. I guess what I am saying is I wont need my Iodine, calcium, magnesium test kits any longer. Do you agree?<I doubt they will be of much need, but may come in handy.  Best to plan for the unknown.> For lighting I was using a 440 watt PC kit- Would it be harmful to continue to use this kit with fish only or should I sell it and get a  some with less wattage?<This is fine.  There is a guy on Reef Central I think who has 400 watts over a 20 long.  Thanks Ananda for that info.> Thanks Ron<Glad to be of service!  Phil>

Filtration in a fish only tank Dear crew,              I have been successful in keeping all my freshwater fish and a pond now for 2 years.  I have always seen the saltwater tanks and been amazed by the fish.  For the last two months I have been reading every book and every website that I can find.  I have settled on the size tank, which will be an 85g, and it will be fish only.  I cannot figure out what type of filtration will be best.  The livestock I would like to have is 1 yellow tang, 1 blue tang, 2 clownfish, and 1 porcupine fish.  Decorations would be light, some live rock and some fake corals.  My stand, lights, and hood I can make myself, so I looked into building my own wet\dry filters, but heard they could lead to problems.  Could I use a Whisper power filter 4, a Skilter 400, and 2 300gph power heads?  I would really like the advice on filtration. <You could run your system minimally with the gear listed. I would get at least another power filter and greatly upgrade your skimmer selection. The various types of set-ups and alternative modes of filtration, product reviews are posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for your perusal. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with this information. Bob Fenner>     

I am confused <just needs to read> The more I read the more confused I get about marine FO tank setup. I am currently setting up a 500gal tank. My question is will a wet/dry filter with protein skimmer suffice or should I incorporate a refugium? Do I need a wet/dry? Then what type of substrate do you recommend in the tank DSB or none. I plan on keeping a bamboo cat shark and a couple of Volitans Lions. Your help would be much appreciated. <Please read here re marine aquarium filtration: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm and continue reading through the FAQs and articles (in blue, linked at top). Bob Fenner>

66 Gallon Fish Only query Hi Guru's, Great Website. <Thank you kindly!> Well I'm in the process of setting up a Saltwater Fish Only and will upgrade to a FOWLR setup when I get the hang of things. I used to be a good freshwater caretaker but am hooked after snorkeling in the Maldives on my honeymoon....(spent more than 50% of the time in the ocean with our Snorkels....lol) <Egads! You do love the fishies!> Ok I have a few questions regarding my setup...this has been recommended by my LFS here in the middle east (not too many saltwater stores around...so Im sticking to the best of the lot) Setup I have ordered a 66 Gallon Glass tank. 1.2m x 40inch" x 50" Renaissance / Hydor Prime 30 External Filter Aqua AP4 pump Powerhead (don't know the name as yet) <A powerhead is a powerhead> U.G. Filter <Can work but please plan on stocking lightly> Crushed Coral chips...was lookin for Live Rock but no one will Ship to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates...guess normal rock will have to suffice for hiding places <No volcanic rock, please> One 40 watt Fluorescent tube <The fish won't care how much light you provide> Question 1- Is my setup too Basic for a fish only system ? <Nope> I am planning to buy a Protein Skimmer & Live rock 3 months from now when I holiday in the Fiji islands as Im wasted on the cash after the Maldives trip....hahaha <You need a protein skimmer. Get something good> Livestock I would like to have A small Dwarf Angel A small Threadfin butterfly (pair if possible ???) <It will grow. No pairs please> A pair of Clarkii or Fake Perculas Maybe a couple of Dotty or 3 striped Damsel as well. <May I suggest that you stay away from angels and butterflies. They really do need high water quality and they may not survive a novice aquarist just learning the ropes> Question 2- Is this overstocked ? <The level is about right but I wouldn't do the "pairs" that you mention. The dotty back is territorial but beautiful> With a bit of experience I may adopt a baby Powder Blue after 6 months perhaps. <No! These are very touchy fish and your chances of success with this filtration, IMO, is slim to none. These fish are known worldwide as "ich magnets."> Question 3- Is this alright ? <As I suggested above> Please advise me if my hardware & livestock lists need modifying.... <Spend time reading and learning before spending your cash and emotions. Get a good stocking book such as "Marine Fishes" by Scott Michael. It will really make your stocking efforts much easier> Appreciate your response... Best Personal Regards Lyndon <Take care! David Dowless>

Marine f/o tank - newbie                Like many here, I am considering moving from fresh water to salt, fish only.  I have read a great many of the FAQs and articles here, and clearly am among the people who want a nice tank, not a lifestyle. That eliminates reef tank as a viable option for me, from what I gather.  The tank (110 gal) is to go in an office that is relatively short on space, so it will be impossible to have a place to keep a garbage can full of premixed saltwater.  And the tank will be a good forty feet from the tap, which could make r/o a problem. 1) Should I just give up and keep cichlids until I'm ready to devote a basement to saltwater? <Your choice. SW or FW will take a commitment of knowledge, time, money and yessssss...space> 2 If I were to go saltwater f/o, I've read here that live rock and sand are very helpful.  Do I also need all the cleaning critters as well to control algae? <Won't hurt...> 3 Are you able to comment on Tampa Bay Saltwater, they offer a package that comes with cultured live rock, sand, invertebrates to maintain the system for one price, shipped directly to closest airport. <Haven't used this company before. Can't comment. Check out our message boards at WWM> 4) but then  I no longer have a fish only system, do I?  I guess I'm confused about live rock/sand with saltwater. 5. For fish only, do you recommend a UV sterilizer? <No. Mostly useless> 6.  If I do marine f/o, and no live rock/sand, how to start bio filtration. <Read at Wetwebmedia.com> 7. In my current 55 gal African cichlid tank, I had gotten ammonia and nitrites to nothing but couldn't manage to lower my nitrates, and I'm not a good twice weekly water changer, then I found Purigen and my nitrates went from way too high to zero in about a day.  Does this stuff interrupt the biological filter by clearing out the ammonia and nitrite as well (in other words does it starve the bacteria?) <I have no experience with Purigen. Good husbandry will alleviate these problems. SW fish and critters will not survive long term with any amount of ammonia and nitrates. You might be better off sticking with the cichlids> thank you very very much for your help.  Your site is hands down the best aquaria site on the web. <Thanks! David Dowless> Daniel Heller

F/O To Reef Hello, I have a couple of questions on my salt water tank. <I'll try to answer them for you! Scott F. here this morning> I have had set up a 90 gal. f/o tank about 2 years ago. I am planning to change it over to a reef tank. First I would like to know how hard it is to do this, and is it true that I can buy corals that don't need strong lighting. <Keeping a reef tank is within reach of any hobbyist who has a grasp of the fundamentals of marine aquarium husbandry. Great attention needs to be paid to water quality and consistent environmental parameters. Yes, there are quite a few corals that don't need super light intensities to thrive> Can I use my reg. lighting with stronger bulbs? <Well- all depends on the type of "regular" lighting that you use, and the types of corals that you will be keeping> Also I already have live rock in my tank. I would have to say about 40 to 60 lbs.. What would be the fastest and safest way to set up my reef tank? Thank You, Chris <Wow, Chris- so many ways to achieve the same thing! My best suggestion is to do the research on what you'd like to accomplish, then plan your system around this. Try to embrace a "holistic" approach, which considers your aquarium a dynamic environment, rather than relying on tons of technical "props" to do the same thing. Simple, biologically sound systems, with a few technical aids, like protein skimmers, can help you achieve the success that you desire. Do research among the numerous resources that we have on the wetwebmedia.com site. Good luck, and have fun! Scott F.>

Fish Only Marine Setup Mr.. Fenner, <Hi Dan, Craig here this time,> I probably should try to extrapolate an answer to my questions but I'll take the easy way out and just ask you directly. After being out of the hobby for several years my wife and I decided that perhaps the technology had advanced to the point where we could raise fish and be more successful this time around. I just purchased a 175 gal., Oceanic Bowfront, Reef ready tank with an ETSS 800 skimmer and ETSS sump, 135 lbs. of Fiji live rock, 40 lbs. of live sand, 80 lbs. of regular aragonite, and a Spectra Pure RO/DI unit. I have had the tank setup for four months and it is stocked with the following fish;<Boy Dan, all is great up to here. I like as much LR and sand as I can reasonably fit, which brings us to your abundantly clear problem.......where is there room for water with your stock? Are you kidding?> Clown Trigger;<16" aggressive, MEAN fish, needs 100's of gallons.> Harlequin Tusk;<  Blue spot grouper;<  Emperor Angel,<  Blue face,<To 16", needs HUGE system, hundreds of gallons.>  and Navarchus angels;<To 12" in captivity. Angels need on average 10 gallons per inch of adult angel. This fish requires 100 gallons and is a big waste producer.>  Sailfin and Naso tangs; <Need huge systems and room to swim. Strong currents and aeration.>  Dragon goby;  Scott's Fairy wrasse;  and Radiata and Dwarf lions. <Egads, messy, need room 30-40 gallons each, will be harassed by triggers, Angels and puffers...>  As you can see, I have a heavy bio load. <No, you have a septic tank with colors.> To compound the situation my wife and I tend to overfeed.< Dan, I don't mean to be short, but what are you doing?> My dealer assures me that there is no problem but I would like another opinion. <Your dealer is smoking crack. YOU are paying for the crack. I would dump this guy faster than my unemployed brother-in-law living in my garage.> 1.) My skimmer foams constantly. In fact, I can only open the valve from the pump halfway or the foam would pour out of the skimmer. <I'm not surprised. Better get it pumping out thick, dark skimmate right away... empty it as often as it takes, probably several times a day with the soup your cooking> 2.) My nitrates typically run from 75 to 100.<Not a shock, FAR TOO HIGH. You need to do regular water changes, perhaps daily, to reduce waste for this many fish in this little space.> I would like to keep the fish and add more filtration if possible. Every pet shop I visit has a new recommendation but what I need is informed objective opinion. Thank You, Dan Berg <Alright Dan, IMO you have two choices. Sell/return a whole bunch of fish, or spring for a massive upgrade in all equipment, mainly aquarium volume, 1-1.5 lbs Live Rock per gallon, 4-6" deep sand bed, and larger sump/skimmer/filtration to match. Right now the fish are suffering in these conditions. FIRE your fish store, but not before you make them take some of these fish back. How's this for an unbiased, objective opinion? The Emperor alone needs 200 gallons and you have three huge angels, huge tangs, the Grouper gets 18"!!! Honestly, FIRE your fish store. How do you feel about 500 gallons? Before you blow another penny on anything, buy the Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner, it will save *you*, Dan, thousands of dollars and heartache. Please change the water right away and STOP feeding so much!!!!! You're killing them with food and waste. Craig> 

Re: Fish Only Marine Setup Thanks Craig. Your comments make perfect sense. I will work with my dealer and return several of these fish. All the fish are fairly small right now (2-3") but clearly they're going to run out of room. It's not my intent to make them suffer. Dan Berg <Hi Dan, I'm glad to hear they are small, but if you are feeding as much as I think, they won't stay that way long or your water quality will catch-up to you. Actually it has already and then some. You have about eight fish that range from 12 inches to 18 inches, all of whom need to live in large open areas, so you have to narrow it down. Make sure you take temperament, waste production, food and grazing needs and native environment into account when stocking your tank and returning fish. You have the room and environment for a few of these fish, but not all of them together or as many potentially large (but admittedly beautiful) fish in 175 gallons. Your taste is impeccable, you just need to be realistic about how many fish you can house. Please look closely into the success rate, care, amount of live rock, and room required by some of your Angels. The Grouper can be 18" and the Trigger 16". That's a lot of fish! Err on the side of caution and you won't regret it. You can find a lot of information to help you on WetWebMedia.com. To your success! Craig>

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