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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

Mail Order For Live Stock??? Dear Robert,  What is your opinion regarding mail order for livestock?!? Preferably that of corals and fishes. <Sometimes a good deal, for some folks the only deal...> Is it safe to do so? Will they arrive alive and in good health? <Many companies have a good track record. A good idea to check with actual users... through the bulletin boards, chatforums. Ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> I hesitate since I cannot see them. What do you think? Have you ever bought livestock through the mail?!? What is your personal experience? <My personal experience is zip, zero, nilch for etailers... but have shipped, received many thousands of boxes of marine (and other) livestock over the years...> Thank you once again. Hope to hear your expert opinion. Sincerely yours, Aleida Ann Graichen <Do check out the fine folks at the Chatforum. Bob Fenner>

On-line shopping?   Reef Hi Mr. Fenner, I know from reading your FAQs that you think of the idea of on-line shopping as the way of the future. <Only one way> But what is your honest opinion about the survivability rate of animals (specifically corals), being shipped directly to your house. <Mmm, about the same as when/how they're shipped from the wild to wholesalers, jobbers, retailers... depending on how well they've been collected, held, packaged... shipped... received... and this all over again once or twice more... they might be better/worse off for wear> I have a FOWLR tank that I've converted to a reef setup, and is ready to start slowly stocking with corals, but up here in Canada the cost of everything is much more then in the States. <What about sharing fragments, cultured material with other hobbyists?> I was considering the idea of ordering my corals on-line but frankly I'm a bit worried. All that one hears, and reads about fish already often not arriving 100% in good health, and corals are supposed to be even more sensitive to environment changes, and shipping. IS it a gamble to order directly?  <Life is a gamble my friend> I know that all the LFSs also gets their stock shipped pretty much the same way, but they know that they will absorb the losses at times <No... these costs are all passed on> (didn't mean to sound cruel; really wish all living things would have 100% survivability rate) <Could be done, but all would cost much, much more...> The price difference is really intriguing (on-line versus local LFS), but not if most of the time your purchases will arrive doomed from the get go.  <If this were the case, then these companies would go out of business.> One other thing, I've been told by a few people that to order corals directly up here in Canada will not be that easy. Something about permits to import, or export from other countries being very restricted, <Define "very"> and that my only option pretty much is to buy from the stores.  <Stores have the same restrictions> Have you ever heard anything about that? Greg N. <Do check with listservs, bulletin boards regarding other local hobbyists actual experiences, suggestions here... Not as didactic a proposition as you make it out to be. Bob Fenner>

Need Suggestions on What Fish to Add 8/9/05 5.5 gal, Reef I have a 5.5g AGA with a 28W PC and an AquaClear 300 turned fuge. The tank consists of 7 Nassarius snails, 2 Cerith snails, 1 peppermint shrimp, and 4 sexy shrimp.  There are currently 4 distinct small zoo colonies and a 5th is on the way.   I feed DT's phytoplankton twice a week very sparingly and I feed 5-6 Spectrum pellets daily for the inverts.  The main ingredients in the pellets are Krill, Herring, Wheat Flower, Amino Acids, and Algae Meal. I am looking for a list of fish that would be good choices for this system. I want like to keep the same feeding routine.  I plan to add only one fish so I want to make the right decision the first time around. <... look to the various Blennioid and Gobioid fishes here... These are covered in detail on WWM... the index here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm Scroll down, click and read. Bob Fenner>

Clownfish ? Stocking a saltwater tank with a Crowbar... 6 gal., reef Hello Robert, <friend, author and Malt Ball lover Anthony Calfo in your service> I was reading through some of your articles online and noticed the section that said a reader could email you with a question. Here is mine: I have a 6 gallon saltwater tank, which successfully held a clownfish.  It originally came with 2 cardinal fish, the clownfish, a Basslet, anemone, live coral and a Featherduster (not sure what they are called)  <My heaven's... was it stocked with a crowbar? Hehe... that really is a dreadful bioload for 6 gallons and rather cruel of the previous owner> One by one these things died leaving the clownfish and the Basslet the longest. The tank had those tape worm looking things and just fell apart quickly. It was a gift and an unexpected one at that. I'm thinking there was far too much in there.  <excellent intuition...very well> I went away for a month and took that time to put the survivor - the clownfish - in a tank at a pet shop....he was all by himself. cleaned out the aquarium totally, put in shells and one large rock. conditioned the water and put survivor back with a new friend. This was in Sept. A couple of weeks ago the original died.  <the tank is beyond it's critical threshold with even two fish... if you must keep a 6 gallon, please keep only one small fish indeed> His mouth faded in color although I didn't see any white spots or threads that the articles refer to. His gills were sticking out and his lower "lip" was quivering all the time. he was lethargic and finally died about 2-3 weeks ago. <not indicative of any specific pathogenic symptom unfortunately> The remaining fish was fine until about 10 days ago. his gills aren't sticking out nor is he as faded around the mouth. He is extremely lethargic and always in the lower corner of the tank at a 45 degree angle. We think he is blind because he used to shoot to the top of the tank when we'd even walk by in hopes of being fed but now he moves but doesn't track our fingers anymore. we feed him in the a.m. and at night. I haven't seen him eat in days. <please test the water chemistry (pH, ammonia, salinity)... really bad things can happen so fast to water chemistry in such a small tank even if you test the parameters weekly. It really is a torture chamber as marine aquaria go by virtue of its size> The water temp was 86. I lowered it to 80-82. <yes, a must. The low dissolved O2 in that small tank was much lower still at such high temperature and could have easily killed the clownfish> Any other suggestions? <honestly... do consider a larger aquarium... and if not, just one fish and weekly maintenance and water testing please> Do you think he has the parasites? <not symptomatic... more likely water quality> Thanks, Christine <kind regards, Anthony>

Ten Gallon Nano Stocking Level   Hello Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I enjoy reading your column. I find it very helpful and informative. My question is regarding a ten gallon nano tank that I started up five weeks ago. I would like to know if I can safely keep the following animals in it. I currently have: 2 True Perculas 1 Watchman Goby 1 Dragonet (pinkish in color) <The key word above is "safely". I would not recommend keeping anymore than two fish in a ten gallon tank safely.> 1 Bubble Tip Anemone <And I do not recommend people get host anemones unless they are willing to work hard to provide the utmost of care for those challenging animals. A ten gallon is just not large enough.> 2 Peppermint Shrimp 2 Blue Legged Hermits 6 Small Red Hermits 10 Astrea Snails 1 Sand Stirring Starfish (beige and brown in color) <I would remove this guy. He will surely starve in time in such a small tank.> 18 lbs of live rock 2 inches of crushed coarse coral Remora Protein Skimmer (Berlin Method) 1 Rio 90 Power Head 1 Rio 180 Power Head 10 Gallon Via Aqua Tank 1 32 Watt 50/50 SmartLight 1 18 Watt 50/50 Light Yesterday in my LFS, I learned that my Dragonet eats only Copepods. I'm fearful that this one will eventually run out of food. <Yes, he will if he hasn't already.> I'm planning to return the Dragonet and possibly replace it with another fish. <See above note. Just return, do not replace.> What kind of fish do you think would be a good fit with the Goby and Perculas? I'm thinking of adding a second Goby, but I'm not sure if this is a good idea. I have the Maxi Jet 1200 on the Remora so I have plenty of skimming, water flow and live rock filtration going on. Am I pushing my luck if I keep 2 Percs and 2 Gobies? Would I be better off in the long run if I just kept 2 Percs and the Watchman Goby? <Yes> What would be best to feed the Anemone and how often? It doesn't like Krill much, but seems to like Silversides. <Please read this article to see what is required of you to successfully house these creatures, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubbletipanemones.htm > Will the Goby be okay eating formula1 and frozen brine shrimp? <Brine shrimp is not a great food. Try finding some Mysis instead. The Formula I is fine.> I'm new to the hobby so any advice you can give me would be very helpful for me. Thank you very much for your advice. <My best advise is to get Bob's book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and read it.> Sincerely, Scott D. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Thank You, Invert ?s  20 Reef Hey, <what?> Thank you for your help.  <you're welcome...now what do you want?! Heehee <smile>> I have decided to stick with the Sixline wrasse for my setup. I do have a question about inverts. in my tank. I will have 2X55 10000K PC lighting over my setup (20 gallon). I have never kept or tried any kind or corals. Do you think this will be enough light and could you suggest some corals that would be good for a beginner?  <plenty of light for many corals and invertebrates. Trust me on this one... I have a lot of experience with the subject <wink>...avoid all LPS hard corals (many reasons...aggression, wild populations, sensitivity to handling by newbie, etc). Also resist most SPS and hard coral in general until you have a clear understanding of the difference between pH, Alkalinity and Calcium... and how to test and control/maintain these levels consistently. Instead... enjoy most soft corals, Corallimorphs (mushrooms) and Zoanthids (button polyps). Because of the size of your tank... you can easily find some attractive creatures from these groups and be assured of success> Also, would an Anemone be possible for the clowns and would any of the clams work? <not even close to being possible. Anemones an corals absolutely don't mix...especially in a small tank. They are also relatively to very difficult to keep successfully for most people. Never for beginners. And the hardy clams that will tolerate a new tank and lower light grow too big (T. squamosa and T. derasa grow to 18-24"). The blue clams need quite a lot of light for long term success. Trust me... stick with soft corals only and you will do wonderfully as you make your way up to bigger reefs <wink>. Not a matter of if, but rather when...heehee! With kind regards... Anthony> Thanks, Jonathan Pac

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

Questions on 20 gallon reef? Hello everyone at WWM, I have a 20 gallon high setup now its been running for over 2 years with only 2 green spotted puffers the normally brackish ones but they have been switched over to saltwater. Well I might be removing them because I'm not sure if they would pick on mushrooms, polyps, maybe some other small hardy corals. <More likely to nip at LPS corals, feather dusters, worms, and beneficial critters in general.> Do you know if these can be kept in a reef tank or no. There's one mushroom that came on a rock and theirs no bites out of it. The lighting I was thinking about using is 4 55 watt pc.s is this too much for the inverts I have suggested. <Two would more than likely be sufficient.> The only fish I want would be a Longnose hawk but are these hard to keep? <Yes, they are hardy.> Maybe a clown and just some small gobies and things like that probably only 4-5 real small fish. <More likely 3-4 fish. The Hawkfish and Clownfish are not too small. One more similar size fish would max you out.> For filtration I have a Skilter 400 is this enough? <It is rather modest. I would prefer a better skimmer.> I would say the water is at lease turned over 15 times an hour plus I have a small powerhead on the inside. Do the long nose eat real little gobies or is this okay to be together. <Probably ok. Hawkfish are far more likely to harass shrimp, crabs, etc.> I plan to have about 40 pounds of live rock already have 20 now? Do you see any problems in this setup what is the best temp for the inverts? <I like to target around 78F in small tanks such as this. Much more room for error. -Steven Pro>

25 gallon reef Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead, Ari> What a site! For a beginner (I'm on my second tank) this is Heaven-sent. Thanks. <thank, you!> My question is relatively basic. I have just purchased a 25 gallon reef tank -- equipped with everything I need. In Chicago we have a great shop called Old Town Aquarium that is very customer service oriented, <huge and famous!> so that's the first step. My question, however, is about which kinds of fish I can put into my reef tank once it has matured and the inverts and [some hardy] corals are thriving. Believe me ... I'm through the trigger and eel phase, but I'm still enamored by the fish themselves and would like to have a tank with some good fish (maybe 2). I know that gobies and blennies are good, just as Royal Gramma are, but do you have any suggestions outside of these? Any would be great. < a shoal of Firefish (royal/queen sp if funds allow), or cardinal fish would be great...very peaceful and small. Also, Blue reef Chromis (Blue with black stripe...not the blue/green pacific sp)> I heard that I cannot have one of my favorites -- long nosed hawk fish -- because of its appetite.  <pretty frisky, and may harass snails and shrimp. Probably OK though> Thanks for your time and assistance. Best Regards, Ari Klein <do look into joining a good local aquarium society like CMAS/Chicagoland. Also. there is a good marine conference in Chicago in 2003 to look forward to (www.theimac.org). And on March 23rd of this year, The Midwest Marine Conference as well with four speakers including myself and Eric Borneman (www.masm.org, follow link for conference). Anthony>

Stocking   2/7/06  29 Reef Hello, <Hello Shane> I have a 29 gallon tank with an eclipse canopy, lighting has been upgrade with the addition of a 65 watt 50/50 PC so that lighting now totals 105 watts. There is 35-40 lbs of LR and approximately 50 lbs of LS with a plenum underneath. I am slowly building a collection of softies but would like to add a few fish. Since this system is at my office and the fish will have to get by on pods each weekend what would you recommend for possibilities? <Yellow Tail Damsels, Percula Clowns, Dottybacks (only one here as males are aggressive toward one another), Pajama Cardinals, etc. As long as the fish are fed nutritious foods during the week there is little danger of them starving to death over the weekend especially with pods for snacks.> Thanks for your time and your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Shane

Fish capacity   29 Reef I have a 29g reef with a skimmer, LR & LS. This tank has 1 Ocell. Percula clown, 1 Bubbletip anemone, 1 sun coral, various snails & crabs. I would like to have a few clowns in this tank. I would like to add 2 true Percs, and 2 saddleback clowns. Is this too many fish for my tank &/or should I avoid mixing different types of clowns together?  <more a problem o the latter... aggression between the species> What would you recommend?  <it is always best to mix fish of dissimilar color shapes and sizes, and feeding habits to minimize aggression...especially in smaller aquaria> Also, could you recommend a hearty reef safe starfish.  <most any serpent or brittle starfish (except green O. incrassata) and most Fromia. Avoid Linckia (sensitive) and thorny backed stars (predatory)> Thank you. <always welcome. Anthony>

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

Zoanthid "Pimples"/Fish Selection - 12/22/05   30 Reef Hello, (insert name of WWM crew member on duty here). Sorry, but I hope you're up for some reading. Thanks in advance for your time. <<Hello...EricR here...ready to read..>> Question #1: My girlfriend and I have been running a nano-reef (20 gal with 10 gal fuge/sump) for a while now.  We recently picked up two frags of some nice colorful Zoanthids.  About a week after getting them, we noticed white dots appearing on the stalks of one of the colonies.  These dots have been increasing and now some of the most afflicted Zoanthids aren't opening at all.  The colony is pretty much covered with them now.  The other colony, which I placed a bit away, has some too but not nearly as many.  Our nitrites and ammonia are zero, nitrates are 0-5 ppm, specific gravity is 1.023, pH is 8.3.  I actually don't remember our last phosphate and alkalinity readings but they were well within what I have seen listed as acceptable on WWM.  I have checked at night to see if I can find some sort of predator or culprit but no luck.  I thought perhaps another coral was doing something but haven't found any sort of info on the corals I have to indicate this would be so.  When the white dots started appearing, I had these corals in the tank: -Candy cane coral -Various mushrooms -Zoanthids -Pearl coral -Green star polyps I know the green star polyps can be very aggressive but they are actually one of the farthest corals from the colony and the other colony, the less effected one, is much closer.  My fish are a royal Gramma and a six-line wrasse. Any thoughts? Does this sound like the work of some pest that I perhaps haven't caught at work? <<Mmm, more likely physical/chemical aggression from another coral, or, a symptom of too intense lighting.  For the former...make sure no other corals are touching and add some Polyfilter and/or Chemi-Pure to your filter path...for the latter...make sure the Zoanthids are not close-up and directly under any intense lighting.>> Question #2: We are moving up to a 105 gallon tall tank with these measurements: 48"L x 28.5"H x18.5"D.  I have been trying to plan out the fish who will one day inhabit this tank carefully.  It will be a reef tank consisting of softies and LPS with at least 100 pounds of live rock. I have read a LOT on WWM about compatibility and the fish I am considering but I still have some questions and I would also like an overall opinion on this list: (# of fish) Name [Adult size] (1) Six-line wrasse [3"] (1) Starry Blenny (Salarias ramosus) [5.5"] (1) Royal Gramma [3"] (2) False percula clownfish [3"x2=6"] (2) Two spot gobies [3"x2=6"] (1) Red Head Solon Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus Solorensis) [5"] (1) Scott's Fairy Wrasse [6"] Total: 9 fish, 34.5 Inches My thinking is to vary up the habits of the fish so they won't all be competing for the same space and also just to see different types of fish in action. <<Very good>> So there's the 3 bottom-dwellers, the six-line likes to move through rockwork, the Gramma sticks to a spot in the rock, the clowns can be dither fish for the wrasses.  I also tried to select larger fish that are peaceful (the wrasses) <<The six-line isn't.>> so we can keep the small fish we like and have more fish overall. Are there any conflicts here I am not seeing? <<Generally speaking I think you have done a good job researching/making your selections...kudos to you for that.  My only real concerns are the six-line wrasse and the starry blenny.  The six-line can/will become problematic for the other wrasses.  I have seen this fish maim/kill the more peaceful fairy/flasher wrasse species...even in displays of several hundred gallons.  You might get away with it if you add the six-line to the new tank as the last fish...but don't expect to be able to add any fishes of similar size/shape/habits later on.  And as for the blenny, It's just my opinion they are not suitable for reef tanks...too likely to munch corals I feel.>> Okay, now assuming that list passes muster, I want more (doesn't everyone that writes in?).  For either of the other two fish I would like, I could sacrifice members of the above list if necessary. <<Mmm...maybe the six-line and the blenny?>> Of course it would be cool if we could have all of that and these two. <<Yeah, I know...and I would love to have a half-dozen Zanclus canescens in my reef. <grin> >> We would still be under the rough 1/2" per gallon rule but it still feels to me like adding two more would be pushing it. <<Forget this rule...make your choices based on compatibility/suitability, feeding habits, mature/adult size, activity, natural environment, etc., etc, etc....and some good common sense.>> First, I would like to have a flame angel but am worried he may be too aggressive. <<Hmm, probably no more/less than the six-line.  The bigger issue is will it eat your corals...bit of a crap-shoot really.>> OTOH, lots of people seem to keep them in reefs with several other fish without much of a problem. <<Does happen/is possible...but still a gamble.>> I was hoping that by keeping him with larger wrasses I could prevent him from feeling dominant in the tank. <<Mmm, no...but less of a threat than you might think.>> I am not sure though if he is likely to pick on the bottom-dwellers. <<I doubt it...more likely to go after con-specifics/similar shaped fishes/other dwarf angels.>> Also not sure if this is sufficient space and rock work to not have to worry about the Gramma, clowns, and six-line. <<Likely so, yes.>> I would also like to have a mandarin (waiting at least 6 months after cycling).  The tank will have at least a 30 gallon refugium and we are planning on adding cultured pods to kick-start pod production.  I am not clear on whether or not the starry blenny or two spot gobies would compete for his pods. <<And the wrasses too!>> I have read the blenny and goby FAQs but didn't see anything about this.  I am also not clear on whether the fairy wrasses and flame angel are big pod eaters.  I know the six-line is.  Trying to research and plan as much as possible. Thoughts? <<Do keep up the research...But I'm hesitant to recommend the mandarin as I consider your new tank/refugium marginal for keeping this fish.>> THANKS! -Clark Carruth <<Regards, EricR>>  

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

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

Stocking Trade Offs...   1/11/06   40 Reef Hello, <Hi! Scott F. with you tonight!> This is my first post, but I often procrastinate by reading your site. It's great. <Thanks much for your kind words!> I'm just starting a 40 gallon tank--my first one.  Right now I just have a couple of Hermit Crabs, a Coral Banded Shrimp, and a Maroon Clown, plus several inches of live sand and about 35 pounds of live rock (with plans to get another nice big piece or two).  I want to add a Snowflake Eel, Valentini Puffer, and Fuzzy Dwarf Lionfish (I know the little critters will probably get eaten).  Do you see any potential problems with this set up?   <Well, you asked! Yep- I do. This tank is really too small to sustain such a population of fishes. These guys are very messy eaters, who produce a lot of metabolic waste, need lots of room, and generally may not get along with each other. Remember, once you account for rocks and substrate, that 40 gallon tank may hold less than 30 gallons. Do rethink this population. I'd recommend a group of much smaller, more appropriate fishes for this tank. Perhaps some Blennies, Gobies, a Wrasse, or maybe a small Hawkfish if you like drama! You might even want to think about one of the smaller Centropyge Angels (A Centropyge fisheri, for example), although you may want to think about this fish and its potential to nip at corals if you are planning on a reef system at some point.> Also, a little down the road I'd like to try adding some mushroom corals and maybe some other types.  I know the Puffer can't be totally trusted around coral, but what about the others? <As above- I think the larger issue is the sizes and waste production of the fishes you are considering> Do you have any suggestions of anything I could try putting in to add some color? <Zoanthids are pretty cool.> Also, does "non-reef safe" mean a fish that eliminates fan worms? <In most instances, that is a safe bet!> And no Starfish, right?  I'm just torn because I love all that stuff, but I really want to do the puffer. <Well, if you really want the Puffer, I'd consider a much larger tank, possibly dedicated just to this fish! Lots to think about...Wanting to try lots of different fishes and animals is the reason why so many of us fish nerds end up with more than one tank! Enjoy this addictive hobby! Regards, Scott F.> Thanks for your advice! Aimee

Not ready for primetime marine stocking  - 01/12/2006   40 Reef Hello, <Hi there> This is my first post, but I often procrastinate by reading your seat; it's great. <Man, I've got to lose weight... folks are reading my seat! Heeee!> I'm just starting a 40 gallon tank--my first one.  Right now I just have a couple of hermit crabs, a coral banded shrimp, and a maroon clown, <Yikes.. this fish will limit your further choices... extensively> plus several inches of live sand and about 35 pounds of live rock (with plans to get another nice big piece or two).  I want to add a snowflake eel, <Mmm, not in this system... too small> valentini puffer, and fuzzy dwarf lionfish (I know the little critters will probably get eaten).  Do you see any potential problems with this set up?   <Yes... the Toby will bite the Dickens out of a Lion...> Also, a little down the road I'd like to try adding some mushroom corals and maybe some other types.  I know the puffer can't be totally trusted around coral, but what about the others?  Do you have any suggestions of anything I could try putting in to add some color?   Also, does non-reef safe eliminate fan worms?  And no starfish, right?  I'm just torn because I love all that stuff, but I really want to do the puffer. Thanks for your advice! Aimee <... Keep reading... Bob Fenner>

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

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

Quick Questions of Fish Compatibility and Coral/Calcium Problem  50 Reef Hi Bob! Hope that this finds you well, long time no talk! <Bob is enjoying himself in Australia right now.> My 50 gallon reef has been doing well for a while, no losses over the last year until recently. I have two animals that I am concerned about. Firstly is a blenny that I added last weekend (that's what I get for messing with the balance, I guess.) Meiacanthus grammistes is what it looks like. It is eating fine and swimming at the front of the tank with the rest so I can see him, but the tail is looking more and more chomped, although I have sat in front of the tank for hours to watch and not seen anything picking on him, and not seeing any other fish looking bothered. This morning the tail was red. Inhabitants in the tank are: 1 Golden Coris Wrasse (know that's not the real genus, since he has gained size he has dutifully eaten all the feather dusters, finished the last one off last week and swam with it hanging out of his mouth for hours), 1 small yellow stripe maroon clown, 3 blue Chromis, 1 flame hawk, 1 flame angel. They are all lovely and friendly little critters and I haven't noticed any personality conflicts until this addition. <They have already established the territories and hierarchy and now all want to exert themselves over your new addition. Try moving him to another tank or moving and/or adding decorations.> I can move him to a 25 gallon reef, the only fish inhabitants are a sebae clown (which has turned entirely black, only tiny yellow pinstripes left on the side fins) and an Arc-eye hawk. They get along fine, but I did try to add a clown goby and they both bothered it so badly I had to give it away so I am not sure it would be a better place for him. <It does not sound like your other tank is too promising.> The other issue is an "octopus" coral (like a frogspawn I think) which has done well and grown for the past year, and now is not opening up. Nothing close at all, it had a star, center stage position in the tank. The other corals in the tank (outside of buttons and mushrooms) are frogspawn, hammer coral, toadstool leather, cabbage leather, and something that I don't know what it is -- hard coral with flower looking things that comes out of it. They are all opening and growing as they should. The water salinity has not changed, ph is 8.2, no ammonia/nitrate/nitrite problems. I was told by my LFS that it might need calcium, so I did add some liquid calcium to the tank, but nothing else. Any ideas? <Several ideas. I take it you have not been monitoring and dosing for calcium or alkalinity? Please do so immediately. When discussing growth in LPS corals, we need to look not so much at tissue but at skeletal (calcium) deposit. None of your corals may be doing well right now and this one is the first to show signs. Another possibility is chemical warfare. This can be helped by aggressive protein skimming and use of quality activated carbon.> Thanks for your time, Cari <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: advice (marine livestocking)  50 Reef Hi Steven Pro or Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo here in your service... many good folk sharing e-mail/mentoring responsibilities> I am adding to the email I sent out last night, I told you that I wanted to keep a cinnamon clown and cleaner shrimp together, <yes... I have read the query and reply> but  my main goal is to keep 2-4 large (4-6 inches) fish of any breed with lots of corals and a few simple inverts. If you could please recommend some species that would fit me. <Hmmmm... I'll have to assume that you are talking about getting a larger aquarium, because a 50 gallon tank would be fatally small (beyond cruel indeed) for as many as four 4-6" fish. Especially if we are talking about "tang" size/type fish. Case in point, Purple and Sailfin tangs are quite common and popular but a single average sized specimen (with an average adult size of 8-12"...with Sailfins reported at approaching 16"!!!) but a single fish will outgrow or stunt and die within just a few years. My point is that if we are still talking about the 50 gall... you'll need to buy fish with an adult size of 4-6 inches to have a prayer of keeping 2-3 in a 50 gall tank. That unfortunately rules about a lot of popular butterflies, angels, tangs and wrasses. Wanting "large" fish and having a 50 gallon tank are honestly incompatible my friend. Your request is for recommended species. While I cannot recommend any large fish, would you consider some interesting recommendations for small to mid-sized fish? How about a shoal of royal Firefish...perhaps some of the hardier fairy wrasses (like the magnificent flame wrasse).. and if you are very good about diverse feeding (Sweetwater zooplankton, Mysid shrimp, etc)... some of the smaller Anthiines would be great. Best of luck in your endeavors. Kindly, Anthony> Thanks, Ryan 

Tank Suggestions (set-up, stocking, life)  55 Reef Dear Bob, I enjoy both your book and your website a great deal.  <Ah, great to read> I refer to both before making a FO system change or before buying a new specimen. Recently I broke down a 55g FW tank to start a reef. I think I've got it all figured out, but greatly appreciate it you would look over my setup and let me know if it seems to be missing something or has something I don't need! I want the tank to be a Soft and Hard Coral tank with anemones and small clams as well as shrimps and crabs with some fishes as well.  <This is a lofty goal for such a small system... Would suggest starting slow, small specimens, no anemones...> Here is a list of the equipment I have bought for the tank, please let me know if I'm missing something! 4- Maxi Jet 900 powerheads 2- Ebo Jager 200w TS heaters 1- Tapwater Purifier w/an extra refill cartridge 1- Metal Halide/VHO fixture with independent controls *Haven't purchased but either a Prizm or a SeaClone Skimmer <Look for something "larger", more efficient than either of these> 4- Timers 3- Power strips 2- Ground Fault Interrupters 2- 5g buckets (for water changes) 4- 1g jugs (to hold purified top off water) 2- CaribSea Flamingo Pink reef sand Seaflor (20 lbs ea.) 1- CaribSea Seaflor special grade reef sand (15lbs) 1- bag Caribbean crushed, aragonite based (20lbs) 1-25lb bag of live sand (not yet purchased) 2-45lb boxes of pre-cured live rock from FFExpress (not yet ordered, should I get Fiji or Walt smith) <Either... Walt's is Fiji> 1-200g bucket Instant Ocean salt mix 1-Aquafuge hang on refugium (24"L * 4"w * 12"H) 1- Rio 2100 aqua pump/powerhead (right now have no use for it maybe a suggestion?) <For circulating pre-mixed synthetic water. Moving it into the tank on water change days> That is the hardware and everything else that I far, how does it sound? <Fine... could use a better skimmer is all> Nothing is assembled yet, I get paid Friday and want to wait until I buy the skimmer, before I order the rock and sand. Do you think that this small refugium will support a reproducing population of both Mysis shrimp and copepods or like crustaceans, as well as a few species of Caulerpa?  <Yes, a good idea> How long should I allow the copepods and Mysis to have the main tank to themselves so they can establish a good population?  <A couple of months> Is a detritivore kit from Inland Aquatics good for this purpose? <Again, a good choice> Will the Mysis ever establish a replenishing population that reaches all they way to adult shrimp?  <Possibly> I also want you to take a look at the fish that I plan to keep in this tank. Please let me know if this is too much on the bioload, or if some of the fish aren't reef compatible. 2- Yellow-Headed Jaw Fish {Opistognathus aurifrons} (How deep does the sand bed need to be to keep these fish) <Three, four inches: http://wetwebmedia.com/jawfishe.htm  Mixed size so it "holds up" to tunnel-making> 2- Purple Firefish {Nemateleotris decora} 2- Pajama Cardinals {Sphaeramia nematoptera} 1- Flame Hawkfish {Neocirrhites armatus} 5- Green Chromis {Chromis viridis} 1- Fine spotted Fairy Wrasse {Cirrhilabrus punctatus) 1- Eibli Angel {Centropyge eibli) 1- Potters Angel { Centropyge potteri} or Fisher's Dwarf Angel {Centropyge fisheri} <Just one Centropyge, please... the Potter's is hard to keep.> * Substitutes include possibly a tang (either Purple, Brown, or Convict) or a Gramma (either Blackcap or Royal) - Snails and Hermits - 1/2 cleaner shrimp <The Hawkfish will sooner or later eat the Shrimp...> -other sand stirrers to keep the sand bed stirred up. So please let me know if you see anything that needs to be changed.  Oh , and I know that those angels are often hard to keep for the average aquarists. I chose them because I am confident in my ability to keep them. I have kept all but the Eibli before in my other FO tanks! <Yes, a good aquarium species. Please see the coverage of the genus on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>  Thank you very much, Mr. Fenner! -James Bolton

No Vacancy?  11/12/2005  55 Reef Hi guys I have had a 55 gal setup with 2 Emperor 280 and Remora Pro 1200 and 52 lbs of live rock with a Coralife Lunar Aqualight. Per your advice I added a wave maker and timer center for my lights and powerheads. I added a Zoa as my first coral (a month ago) and it's been doing great and my kids love it.  My tank has been up for about 3 years now and since I've spent my lunch hours searching your site over the last few months my tank has gone from frustrating to a real fun hobby. I plan to add a few more corals over the next year or so but my question deals with my fish. As I said its only 55 gallons and I want to know your opinion on additions. Currently I have a Banggai (sp?) <<Banggai - absolutely beautiful fish.. actually, I love this whole group of fishes.  MH>>  Cardinal who has been in for 2 and a half years. He is my favorite fish and is huge compared to ones I see in the store. My clown is also a little over 2 years and is also quite big.  I also have a Regal Blue tang for about 5 months now and after a rough first month is doing great and starting to grow. As I said I have kids (6, 5, & 1) so you can see the Nemo connection. I also have a blood shrimp (2 years) who blesses us for appearances at feeding time, A Sally light foot (1 year), Choc chip starfish (8 months), and several assorted crabs and snails about 20 total.  My snails seem to die after 6 months except the bumblebees and 2 strong Astreas who are over a year. My crabs do well I have about 3 zebras, 2 blue hermits, 3scarlet and 2 red hermits. They also do well and seem to be happy. To get down to it, I would love to have about 5-6 corals when I'm done and like to add a pygmy angel ( I had a flame for 2 years who died suddenly in the spring) like a coral beauty or another flame or bicolor. <Mmm, this tank is about full-up fishes-wise> I would also like to add a very small clown hoping the big clown won't destroy him (remember the whole Nemo theme, this would make Dory, Nemo & Marlin). Is this possible? <Possible, but will not likely work... if you want to try still, I would "float" the new fish in a plastic colander for a week or two, then switch it for the larger one for a week or so...> I would also like to add a clam eventually and a cleaner shrimp (had one for 2 years and gave to my brother who is starting out). Are my hopes going to blow up in my face by an overcrowded tank? <Mmm...> Or is this realistic? <Well, will need to upgrade the lighting... or perch the clam high up near the present light...> My water is great and I clean my cup in my Remora every day. Or is it possible with a better kind of filter setup and what kind would work best? Thanks for any advice you can give and thanks for making this fun and educational for my whole family. <Well... it is obvious you have patience, careful observation... A commendable hobbyist. Bob Fenner> 

Stocking levels  9/7/05  55 Reef I have 45 lbs of Fiji and 60 lbs of live sand which probably aren't enough for the mandarin. How about a scooter blenny are they the same way? <They are much more forgiving> I definitely want to buy a regal tang it is 1-2". <Joe, why are you wasting my time asking for advice about the regal when you are going to buy one anyway?> I have 260 watts of powercompacts( Coralife). It is about 5 watts per gallon.<Should be enough for most softies and some easier to care for hard corals.> Is a bicolor angel suitable? Would it probably nip at the corals? <You have a 50/50 chance, some do, some don't.  You can search this info on the Wet Web Media where loads of advice are given whether you choose to believe it or not.  James (Salty Dog)> thanks <You're welcome> Joe > Stocking levels > hi guys, quick question <OK, quick answer> > I have a 55 gallon reef for about 7 months now. Currently inhabited by 2 > true or false Percs (not sure but I think true),<trues are much deeper in > color> a sebae clown, a sebae anemone which was completely bleached and > now boom fully back to dark brownish/purplish. I also have some Turbos > and hermits along with a scarlet cleaner shrimp, tons of Capnella which > won't stop splitting, and green star polyps which keep on spreading like > crazy. I just saw my favorite fish on sale on LiveAquaria.com and I am > definitely going to buy it. The regal tang! I also wanted to buy a dwarf > angel such as a lemon peel or bicolor and maybe a small fish such as a > mandarin or a scooter blenny and a six line wrasse. I also was considering > on adding maybe a small clam and probably a candy cane coral or brain. > Would this be ok? I have read mandarins need an established aquarium > because of amphipods...do they eat anything else or is it a hassle? What > about the angel...bad idea because of the corals? <Joe, your > tank isn't large enough for the regal.  It may be now, but as it grows it > will require more space.  If your experience level is low, stay away from > the lemon peel.  There are many other dwarf angels that are much more > easier to care for.  Mandarins require live food such as amphipods.  They > are best kept in very established aquariums with plenty of live rock.  A > pod population should be introduced and allowed to propagate before adding > the mandarin.  A refugium works well for this purpose.  There are some who > have gotten mandarins to eat prepared food the cases are rare. As far as > the clam goes, you will need at least five to six watts of lighting per > gallon to be successful. The candy cane coral will require 4+ watts per > gallon provided it is placed at least mid level in the tank.  Search these > subjects on the WWM for more info.  James (Salty Dog)> > Let me know. > Thanks > Joe

Fish capacity question?  55 Reef Bob, I have recently purchased a 55 gal tank, a Fluval 304 canister filter, a SeaClone protein skimmer, 40lbs of biologically active sand (Arag-Alive), and 40lbs of dry reef sand to be used as my first marine aquarium. I set up the tank on Dec 30, 2001 and added two Blue Devil Damsels on Jan 2, 2002. I tested daily for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate and have yet to see any!  <You may not... the live sand likely "pre-popped" this system... established sufficient biological cycling. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> On Jan. 10, I added two Domino Damsels and have still failed to see any ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. A friend of mine who has been keeping a reef tank for years said I possible missed the nitrogen cycle since I added the biologically active sand.  Is this possible and if so, can I add another fish such as a common clownfish to the tank in a week or so?  <Yes, and yes...do keep an eye on the Dascyllus (Dominos)... can be quite mean.> How many fish can I keep in this size tank? I was planning on adding a blue-headed wrasse, a strawberry fish, a blue cheeked goby, and possibly a flame angle. <Please read over the various Stocking, survey by group articles, FAQs on WWM here> Is this an acceptable mix in regards to both temperament and space?  <Possibly> My last question is in regards to hiding places. I currently have a 14" by 14" coral reproduction that has a cave built in the base as well as a single 12" elk horn coral reproduction. Do I need more structure in the tank for the fish I have listed to hide in/behind? <More would definitely be better> Thanks for your help. Ray McClain <And for your query, participation. Bob Fenner>

Stocking, marine... 55 Reef Hi Bob (I guess I can call you Bob?) <Certainly. This is my name> I've been reading all the great advice you've been giving and just had to get some for myself. My wife and I are looking to buy a 55g tank set from Top Fin, and then add a protein skimmer. I've also seen a similar 55g complete setup from Wal Mart, but am not certain of the quality of the tank- any thoughts? <Over the years they have been made by a few good companies... I am a big fan of Mr. Walton.> I've done exhaustive research, and one of the sites I found was Tampa Bay Saltwater, who manufacture their own live rock. They seem comparable to some of the other sites I've looked at, and offer a "package", which I've listed below (I apologize for the length of this e-mail, but you seem the ideal "guru" to answer these types of questions): <No worries my friend> "Size of tank 55gal Pounds of Live Rock 110 Pounds of Live Sand 55 Number of Blue Leg hermit crabs 110 Number of Turbo Snails 28 Number of Tiger Tails Cucumbers 4 Number Serpent stars or Brittle Stars 2 Number of Pistol Shrimp 2 Total Cost* of "The Package" $ 580.00 * Additional Information Prices above include the average number of Insulated Styrofoam shipping containers and shipping materials used for shipment of the specimens. During the winter time, depending on your location, additional "heat pack's" may be required to ensure stable shipping temperature. Each shipment is unique by nature and may require a few more or less than the average. Your total cost will reflect the actual number of insulated Styrofoam containers and shipping materials used in your particular order. © Copyright 1996-2000. All Rights Reserved Tampa Bay Saltwater " <A very thorough message and a good bargain in my estimation> Knowing next to nothing about the amounts I would need, I contacted the company and was assured this was the ideal.  <Yes... their "made" rock is more dense than the varieties commonly offered from the South Pacific> I was also told I could keep as many fish as I want- <Mmm> which I know from personal experience, and your insights, to be certainly NOT the case. Any thoughts here, opinion? <Of a certainty this statement was made/taken out of context...> Recommendations of other places to consider ordering from?  <Many... the sources in the South Pacific are not able to be beat... due to very reasonable air freight, inexpensive labor... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm  and the FAQs beyond on our site> My local LFS had live rock that was partially exposed- the salesgirl's response when I pointed this out was that live rock was found in tide pools and was used to being out of the water (??!). Not much local help. <Mmm, a trip to Fiji may be in order... some LR that is collected is indeed intertidal...> Also, as I want to do LR, some corals and anemones, I've been trying to limit fish choices. It would seem most butterfly fishes are out?  <For a fifty five gallon system there are better family group choices> As are most/all the Tangs?  <No... Please read over our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) re the genera Ctenochaetus and Zebrasoma... some of these species would be excellent choices> I would like a clownfish (maybe breeding pair) with an anemone, an angelfish or two, <Whoa... do study re the anemone choice... and only a small specimen of one of the smallest Angelfish species would be appropriate> was considering a raccoon butterfly and/or Wimplefish, maybe a tang variety. Trying not to go with damsels, although I've had them before and they all seemed to get along. Everyone has an opinion, I'd like yours... Gerry Sames <You will learn... to like your own as you progress. Bob Fenner>

Stocking levels Marine  55 Reef Hello, I have a 9 year old 55 gallon tank, running a wet/dry trickle filter (in a sump), an in-tank protein skimmer, 2 powerheads (one sweeping) in tank. Currently (since November), I've got three pieces of live rock, 3 Florida Condy anemones, 3 serpent stars, 7 snails, about 10 blue legged hermits, a cucumber, a cinnamon clown, 4 damsels, a brown bird wrasse, and a yellow tang (fish are 2 1/2 - 4 1/2" long, damsels are about 1 inch).  <amazing that the bird wrasse hasn't eaten the crabs yet<G>> My lighting consists of 2 24" 50/50's that span the length of the tank end to end, and a 24" 10K placed in the middle.  Are these 20 watt fluorescents? If so... nowhere near enough to keep the anemones in the long run. They will look good for a while then simply fail> I use a product called "ocean's blend" for calcium and the other nutrients (I used to use the whole line of Kent products) once a day. 1. Can I put a Kole tang safely with the yellow tang? <a good bet when one chooses to mix tangs> 2. I'm thinking about switching to 2 Hagen power Glos (18K each) and a Hagen marine Glo for the actinic. What do you think? <upgrade wattage... less concern for color. And for the record... aim for 6500 to 10K for most cnidarians> 3. How many more fish can I safely put in before overloading? <if you subscribe to the old stand-by 1/2 inch of fish per gallon (actual water volume 48-48 gallons in your rock and sandscaped tank)... you are really already full. Consider adult sizes in the 2-3 year picture at least (!): 4 damsels 2+" each (8+"), one melanopus clown male 2-3 ", female 3-5" (say 3"), yellow tang 6-8" (say 6"), bird wrasses female 6-8" unchanged male to be 8-12" (say 7") and Kole tang 6-10" (say 6")... that puts you at a total of 30" with conservative adult sizes and WITHOUT counting the bioload from the crabs, starfish, snails and anemones. As empathetic aquarists we really need to be considerate and plan for adult sizes which even by this rule are arguable a bit crowded and "uncomfortable". My advice is that if you must add another fish... the Kole is your last> 4. I want live rock, but not with hard coral or very delicate/high maintenance inverts. Just coralline algae growth is fine. <very fine... do maintain calcium and alkalinity... also consider Seachem's Reef calcium (calcium gluconate) for strong coralline growth> I just recently started to be more serious than ever about the tank. I've spent thousands of dollars on fish over the years only to have them die.  <You could have saved many or even most of them with a small investment in a quarantine tank, my friend. It should be standard issue for any aquarist> The tank has always had life in it, even when I didn't take care of it very well. Thank you. Randy M.  <with kind regards, Anthony>

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

Newbie setting up marine aquarium  55 or 80 Reef Dear Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro this afternoon.> I'm planning on starting a salt water tank soon. I'm currently doing as much research as possible before purchasing or designing anything. 1) Is there a difference between live rock and coral reefs? <Live rock is one part of what makes up a coral reef.> I've read that the anaerobic bacteria in live rock helps break down the nitrates in the water, and I would be interested in using this advantage. <Also, a natural food source and habitat.> 2) I have an idea of what fish I would like in my tank (tank size will be minimum of 55 gallons but probably around 80), I would like to know if these fish will live peacefully or if I will have problems: a couple of clown fish, 1 fox face, 1 Huma Huma trigger or Assasi Bursa, 1 Red Volitans Lion or Dwarf Lion, 1 Butterfly, 2 Tangs, and maybe a ray. <Leave out the ray. Chose between having the trigger or the lionfish.> 3) Would these fish species generally be safe in a reef environment with sea anemones, shrimp, or lobsters or live rock environment? <It would depend on the Butterflyfish species. The triggers will eat shrimp and crabs and may flip over corals. The lionfish will eat anything it can swallow.> 4) Last question, do you know of any reef safe angel fish? I love the brilliant colors of these fish however I hear they are completely unsafe in reef environments. <Many of the dwarf species of Angelfish, Centropyge, can be house in a reef tank. They may eat some of your inverts though. It is kind of hit and miss and depends on the inverts kept.> Thanks for your time. And thank you for an excellent website. I wouldn't dream of trying this hobby without the information available here. <The website is great, but I would recommend buying and reading Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". -Steven Pro>

Question on Lunare Wrasse and Maculosus Angel   60 Reef Bob, I currently have a 60 gallon reef tank that I will be converting to a FOWLR tank so that I can keep an angel. Here's the setup: 60 gallon FBH acrylic tank, 380 watts VHO, BakPak II skimmer, 15 gallon sump w/The Eliminator Protein Skimmer (not sure of the brand). I also have a wet/dry filter that currently has no bio media in it (I will be adding the bio-balls tonight).  <I wouldn't. No need for this media.> This system has around 150 lbs live rock and has been up for about 1.5 years. Current fish: flame Hawkfish, 2 tomato clowns, Banggai cardinal, coral beauty angel, 3 damsels. I have on hold at my LFS a 4 to 5 inch lunare wrasse that I will pick up this weekend (after removing the coral in the tank).  <A rambunctious species... will you be removing the current inhabitants?> I also would like to add a maculosus angel (map angel in case I spelled that wrong). I realize the tank is too small for full grown specimens but I figure these 2 should be fine for a while. My question is, of the fish I currently have in the tank, what ones should I keep/get rid of when I add the wrasse and the angel?  <Oh! Depending on the size of the Angel, I'd remove the extant dwarf, and be ready to remove others possibly as the Angel grows.> Any help is appreciated! P.S. - I live in the Ann Arbor MI area and frequent the Fish Doctors. I hear you're friends with the owner, Tom.  <Yes, please say hello to him for me. I heard through the grapevine that he and his long-standing girlfriend were married.> Also, I love your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". It's the first book I bought (before I bought the tank) and I still look to it for advice! <Ah, good to be of service. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Holly L. LaClair-Bogedain

How about a list?   65 Reef Bob, Is there a reference guide somewhere that lists simple groupings of things that will coexist? <I have seen numerous attempts at such compilations... even tried to make same...> I have read over the extensive lists on your site but still have been unable to take the plunge for fear of screwing up the selection. <Mmm, no need to fear... worrying will not change the future... but to go ahead with "best available" knowledge.> I would like to get things for the aquarium that will be easy enough for us to maintain. I am looking for a simple list of favorites. <Oh! I do have those under a few "Selection" articles, such as: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarLvSel.htm > Favorites based on their ability to be kept by even inexperienced people. Originally the tank was purchased to be all about fish since then we have admired the corals and all of the other beautiful and interesting things within the confines of the systems. Do you have an area that has this type of a "list"? <Not yet... a "best", most likely to live assemblage is a good idea... would need to be very large to encompass the animal groups... point out the regional (where collected on the planet), size, sexual (if any) differences in survivability... types of foods taken...> I would just like to know what other more experienced individuals enjoy the most and recommend for people like us that don't have the experience to know what will and will not work. We have a 65 gallon tank w/ ecosystem. We would like to have a diverse group of inhabitants so that we can enjoy a little bit of everything. Thank you Bob, Trisha <Perhaps you will be a writer/photographer for such an article? I will gladly help you in this endeavor... the literature could be perused, compiled, along with hobbyists' input... Bob Fenner>

Re: how about a list? Bob, I will begin collecting information and will send it to you in a format that hopefully will be successful. I cannot promise this information to be forthcoming quickly (own a restaurant + 2 kids) but I do promise to send you everything I collect. I tend to be rather thorough so it should be informative. However, I do think that it will not be anything an experienced person wouldn't already know. A list of favorites would be fun. <Yes> Do you happen to have any excellent web sites as far as networking with other hobbyists?  <Yes, a collection of friends that are fellow hobbyists: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ on a Chatforum.> I lurk in several but you may have a hidden treasure. <Indeed. You will not simply be a browser much longer> By the way, my husband bought me one of your books for our anniversary yesterday, can't wait for Monday (restaurant is closed) so that I can pour thru it. Trisha <Balance and center my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Level/Compatibility/Stocking a 65 gallon reef tank  2/18/06   65 Reef I am setting up a 65 gallon reef tank and would like to put the following fishes in it : a niger triggerfish (Odonus niger) or Bluechin triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus), a blue hippo tang Paracanthurus hepatus) or yellow eye tang/Kole tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus), a comet/marine Betta (Calloplesiops altivelis), a blackcap Basslet/blackcap Gramma (Gramma melacara), a midas blenny (Ecsenius Midas) and 3 of the following damselfishes; yellowtail blue damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema), jewel damselfish (Plectroglyphidodon lacrymatus), blue damselfish/blue devil (Chrysiptera cyanea) and the electric blue (Caerulean) damselfish (Pomacentrus caeruleus). My question is am I overstocking my 65 gallon system? The system will have approximately 65 lbs of live rock, a ASM G1X protein skimmer with a Sedra 3500 pump, a mega flow 3 sump with a Mag 9.5 pump rated at 950 gph and a SEIO 820 powerhead. Also, will the marine livestock that I am interested in be compatible with each other, the invertebrates (clams, snails, shrimp, etc.)  and corals that I plan to put in the system? Some of the readings I have read say that the are reef safe and some say they are not, I need another opinion. I look forward to hearing you guys soon. <Oh boy oh boy...Jesse do search the Wet Web and read on the species of fish you want and their requirements.  Some of these are going to be meals for other fish and some aren't compatible at all.  Your choices would certainly overstock a 65 by a long shot.  You also mention clams/corals, but nothing of the lighting you are using, important issue here.  Do read/learn here before taking the plunge.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome.> Jesse        

Adding a Kole Tang   65 Reef I am wondering if I can add a Kole tang to my current mix of fish. I have a Longnose Hawkfish, an African Flameback angel, a yellow watchman goby, an engineer goby, a maroon clownfish, and (gulp) a purple tang. Unfortunately I have had the purple tang in the tank for about a year now, and I think I should not add the Kole tang because of this fish. However, I do know that they are not co-geners, but they do have a lot of body structure in common, so will there be fighting? <Always some fighting when mixing Tangs.> I know you do not know everything, and all individual fish differ slightly, but I value your opinion. The tank itself is a 65 gallon reef with a lot of live rock and corals. Thanks again! <The Kole was a good choice to mix with the Purple Tang. Your problems are the Purple was there first and the tank is too small. Sorry. -Steven Pro>

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

A few questions - Please  70 Reef Dear Mr. Fenner <Hello there> Greetings from the UK. First of all thanks for the pages they are great. I've spent lots of time reading them as this is our first venture into keeping marine fish - or any fish for that matter!  <Ah, a bold adventure> Hopefully Santa will be bringing me your book for Christmas. A few questions in the meantime if that's ok. I have a Juwel 240 liter, (about 70 US gallons I think) <Very nice tanks> With about 23Kg cured Live rock. As well as the inbuilt filter in the tank I have a Eheim Professional Canister Filter, A Prizm Skimmer, TMC Vecton UV Sterilizer, and a Maxi jet 1000 powerhead. So far we've taken it fairly steady we waited about a month with the live rock in just with a few snails and red leg hermit crabs. <Good idea> We now have about 5 soft corals (will get more) and are moving onto the fish. Do you think the tank would benefit from another powerhead? <Yes... placed at the opposite end of the other> The fish we have so far are: 1 Sailfin Tang 1 blue band Goby These seem to be settling in really well the Tang is demolishing the algae and the goby is doing a good job with the coral sand. we are thinking of a dwarf angel of some kind, plus a Banggai Cardinalfish. How much more do you think we can reasonably accommodate? <These and perhaps one, two more small fishes (up to 10cm.), or twice that in very small (5 cm.)> I rather fancy a butterfly fish but as they all seem to munch on corals I think that's out. <Actually... there are some good candidates that leave corals alone... you know where to read here> But we'd like something with a splash of color. Could we have another Tang or is the tank too small? <Another Sailfin like a Scopas might go, or a Ctenochaetus species... likely with just a bit of "jousting" before settling in.> Thanks, Phil <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Stocking a 70 Gallon... reef Hi, I have a 70 gallon tank with 30 pounds of live rock and 170 pounds of bolt  rock, SeaClear filter, and a Magnum 350 filter. My plan is get a Jebo 220  wt pc light fixture, get an Aqua C remora skimmer and to add mushrooms  and polyps to the tank. I have a Hippo tang, a blue damsel and 2 clownfish in  holding tanks right now so I can fix up the 70 gallon. I plan to get a lawnmower   blenny( do they eat diatoms?), a coral beauty angelfish, either a striped  sailfin ( not desjardinii) or a yellow tang, and maybe a 6 line wrasse. Are there  any problems with the fish I would like to get? Are these fish reef safe?  Are they safe with the fish I have now? If they are safe to add to my tank, what  order should I add the fish in? Should the corals be put in before the fish, or  could I add them after? Thanks >>>Greetings, Your tank is on the edge for even considering one Tang, let alone two. I would forget the idea of putting another Tang in there, ESPECIALLY a sailfin as they are one of the larger species. Lawnmower blennies are notorious for starving in captivity, so I would steer clear there as well. I myself had one starve in a tank larger than yours with plenty of diatoms. The coral beauty is a good choice, as is a sixline wrasse. Mushrooms are very hardy corals, and can bee added anytime after the tank is cycled. Of the fish, the sixline wrasse should be added LAST for sure. They can be rather aggressive, so you want everyone else situated before you add him. Most importantly, take your time stocking your tank. Add fish slowly, and infrequently, and ALWAYS quarantine them. You have enough fish already to keep you busy for a few months. Hippo tangs are one of the more challenging fish to keep - not for beginners. Make sure you quarantine him for at least a month before adding him to your display. I would add him first, and let him become established and verify he's disease free. Then add your clowns, then take the damsel back to the store. Or, if you must add a damsel, add him second to last, just before the sixline. Hope this helps. Cheers Jim<<<

Great Book (stocking questions)  72 Reef I have been reading your book (Conscientious Marine Aquarist). I have just finished my cycling period on my 72 gallon reef tank. You mentioned when selecting fish- start with the must have species first and then figure out what is compatible. My must have is a Lionfish. I was wondering if you could please suggest what would be compatible with this type of fish.  <Most anything that won't fit into their very large mouths... and reciprocally not fishes that will pester the Lion too much, steal its/their foods (like Triggerfishes, large Puffers). Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm and the FAQs beyond> I noticed a lot of other species are not able be mixed with the Lionfishes. Would it make any difference if I went with the dwarf Lionfish.  <Yes... smaller species, smaller mouths> I also would like to keep Flame Hawkfish, Yellow Tang and some medium size Angel fish. Are these safe with the smaller size Dwarf Lionfish? <Maybe not the Hawkfish> I also realize the lion fish is a good fish to start with after the cycle period has ended. Please let me know what your suggestions are. Thanks Ron <Please peruse our site at your leisure. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Questions  72 Reef Hi gang- What an invaluable service you provide the reef community! Thanks in advance for looking at yet another stocking list for a new reefer (as wave upon wave of newbies nip at your heels). Here are my particulars: 72 gal. AGA Bowfront tank w/built in overflow, twin returns in back corners 100 lbs.. live "Fiji" rock, 5" DSB seeded w/packaged live sand over aragonite base Aqua EV-120 skimmer in sump w/Mag500 pump K2R calcium reactor Custom Sea Life T3 return pump 800gph. Teclima CA240 chiller/heater w/Dolphin DP270 supply pump Captive purity 4 stage RO/DI JBJ Formosa Deluxe 2x96w 6500/7200k PC lighting <A very nice system indeed.> My tank has been up and running just three weeks, but peaked and cycled in only a week. So far, my only residents are snails, sand critters (an assortment of stuff from IPSF, including their Wondermud and live sand activator), long feather Caulerpa and Tang Heaven red macroalgae. <All very good and showing nice patience to boot.> My water parameters are: pH 8.2-8.3, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate non-detectable, calcium 500mg/L, alkalinity 14 dKH, phosphate <.025 mg/L, temp 81, specific gravity 1.024 <Excellent!> Here's my livestock wish list, ready for your paring knife (in my proposed order of introduction): Purple Firefish Blue-green Chromis (5 if possible) <Better go with just three because of tank size constraints.> Cleaner or Peppermint Shrimp <You could get one of each. They each have their good attributes, fish cleaning and Aiptasia removal respectively.> Citron Goby Percula Ocellaris Clown pair Bubble Tip Anemone <Sorry, but not enough light for the anemone.> Flame Angel Chevron or Kole Tang Soft corals and a few lower light stony corals (interspersed with fish introductions) <All sounds fine taking my above notes into consideration.> Thanks again for the support and guidance. -Ron <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Stocking/Maintenance - 02/19/06 75 Reef Hello Wet Web Media Crew. <<Howdy>> Everyday when I'm at work (Hotel Night Auditor- 11pm-7pm shift) I'm on your web site gaining valuable information, and I just want to thank you for having this wonderful site before I get started. <<Glad you enjoy it/find it useful.>> Well let me 1st tell you about my system, then I'll get to my questions.  I have a 75 gallon tank, with 75lbs of live rock, and about 60lbs of live sand that's been up and running for about 7 to 8 months.  The current inhabitants are 3 PJ Cardinals, Marine Betta, Christmas Wrasse, Flame Angel, Indigo Hamlet, and a pink leather coral my LFS gave me just see if I'm ready for corals. <<?>> I have a Coralife Super Skimmer 125, a 10 gallon tank sump made into a wet and dry system that is in turn hook up to a Maxi-Jet 1000 connected to an Aqua-Medic 9 watt UV sterilizer that runs right into my other 10 gallon tank sump made into a refugium with a 3in. live sand bed, few live rock rubble, and Caulerpa with 24 hr. lighting with a 50/50 24-watt bulb, which is pump back into my main 75 gallon tank with a Rio aqua pump (I believe 2100, I'm not sure what model).  I also have a Maxi-Jet 1200 Natural Wave System, with two Maxi-Jet 1200 in each corner of the tank and one in the middle with a Hydro-FLO rotating deflector connected to it. My water parameters reads as Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 10, <<If you expect to keep corals you should strive to get this to 5 or below.>> pH 8.2, Calcium levels are around 450.  All tested by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Test kits.  I had a bad hair algae and Cyanobacteria attack, and my nitrates seem to be off the charts, no matter how many times I did my water changes (which were like 2 times a week 25 gallons each time), until I added the refugium, and started buying my saltwater already made at the LFS.  Since buying my water already being made so now I only do water changes twice or three times a month, due to the cost. <<Mmm, perhaps time to change/experiment with different salt brands.>> I feed my fish at least once or twice a day with squid, Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, Nori seaweed, table shrimp, and some flounder fillets I found at the grocery store. <<Excellent!  I'm a huge fan of feeding fishes well with a varied selection.>> All my food is soaked in garlic guard and Zoe.  LOL, my girlfriend says they eat better than I do. <<Indeed>> Well my 1st questions is I want to add a Foxface, Lo, with this addition am I over loading my tank, or is my tank already overloaded?  That will be my last fish. <<You might be able to get by with the addition of the Foxface...though I think you're pushing the envelope.>> I also want to add mushrooms and soft corals to my tank, as of right now I only have a 54 watt Coralife Aqualight strip light for lighting my main tank, I was wondering should I upgrade to an VHO retrofit 48in 440 watt light system, or would that be too much?  How much wattage would you recommend for my size tank and for what I want to do? <<I think the VHO outfit will give you good flexibility.  Organisms can then be placed in the tank (up and down the water column) according to their lighting requirements...that I'm sure you will research.>> The pink leather coral is doing great.  I placed it near the top of some of my live rock.  If I must say, the pink leather coral somewhat doubled in size.  My Flame Angel is not too happy with my Indigo Hamlet.  Should I take the Flame Angel out and set him in my refugium for a week or so and then put him back? <<If the hamlet was added to the display after the angel, this may help.>> Also for some reason the Marine Betta and the Indigo Hamlet see my Christmas wrasse (which is not small, about 3 1/2 inches compare to there 5 inches) as food, and chase him like they want him for lunch. I thought they only went after really small fish, like maybe a 1/2 an in. to 1 in. <<These guys can/will swallow surprisingly large fish.  It might just be aggression, though the Marine Betta is considered quite peaceful toward other fishes, unless it wants to eat them of course.  Your wrasse may truly be in peril.>> Also is it better to keep PJ Cardinals in a bigger shoal then just 3?  I've always seen them in trios in other people's tanks. <<They'll do fine either way.>> One more thing, I've gotten rid of most of the hair algae and Cyanobacteria in my main tank, but now my refugium has Cyanobacteria floating on top of the water and in other places in my refugium. Should I be worried, and what do I do to get rid this Cyanobacteria in my refugium. <<You say it is on the decline...I would simply siphon it out of the refugium.>>   Do I increase my flow in my refugium. <<Shoot for a flow rate of 10x the 'fuge volume.>> Sorry for the long e-mail, and all the questions.  I know you guys are really busy, but any input you guys may have on my system would great. Thanks. <<Regards, EricR>>
Stocking Suggestions II - 02/20/06
Eric, Thanks for the reply. <<Welcome>> What I meant to type was 1.025, sorry. <<Ah yes...much better <grin>.>> I'm thinking that the wrasse, fridmani, flame, and possibly a clown my "fill" my tank (with fish), but hopefully not overfilled. <<Nope...the Foxface mentioned in your earlier correspondence would still be a worthwhile addition in my opinion.>> I just replaced my anemic pc light fixture with 2x250 MH 14k - WOW!!!  What a difference in the colors of the fish and inverts, it's like a new tank. <<Indeed!...metal halide lighting gives you most bang for the buck.>> My system is gradually evolving into a full blown reef - very addictive. <<Much wonderment ahead!  Regards, EricR>>

Saltwater Stocking list
 10/3/05  75 gal reef Hi there, <Hiya Clare, Adam at your service tonight.> I have a 75-gallon tank with 79 lbs. of live rock, and a wet dry filter (125-gallon capacity) and a Protein Skimmer (SeaWorld systems). I also have about 1' of Live Sand. I have a stocking plan for my tank and here goes (please cancel out fishes you don't agree with, as I am open to an experts opinion ;) 2 Ocellaris Clowns     3 Green Chromis 1 Royal Gramma 1 6 Line Wrasse     1 Neon Goby     1 Yellow eyed Kole Tang     1 Flame Angel 1 Ritteri Anemone <Sorry Clare Im going to have to X this one. Most of these don't survive much longer than a month or two in captivity.  The few healthy ones I have seen are directly under either 250 watt or 400 watt MH.  Lets also consider the adult size, the diameter is larger than your tank is wide.> 1 Majestic Angel <This one gets the X too, not so much for its poor adaptive abilities to tank life but for its potential size.> I know your probably going to be all over me for my last choice, but on all of the sites I have read it claims a minimum of 65 gallons is necessary, please tell me your opinion. <Multiply that 65 by three and you will get the minimum tank size for a majestic, seriously though a 180-gallon tank is necessary for this fish.> Oh yeah, my tank gets about 1100 gph, and about 6 watts per gallon. (and I have a QT!!!!) <Glad to hear it!> Thanks, Clare <Adam J.>  
Reef Tank Additions   75 Reef Unfortunately, I have made a mistake. I purchased a purple tang as my third addition to my 75 gal reef tank with soft corals. I realized I should have waited to add the tang until last. <Not really a mistake. Merely something to work around at this point.> I do intend to add about five different fishes for a total of seven. <Depending on size, seven may be too many.> I already have a tomato clown and a blue devil damsel. I still have about 4 weeks or so to add some other fish because the purple tang will be in quarantine for the next four weeks. <Good for you and your fish.> I have read your site about fish from the Red Sea & I am having a hard time deciding on which types fish to add over the next four weeks. I can tell if they are from the Red Sea or not, but I can't always tell if they are reef safe. <The easiest way is to identify what they eat. Coral eaters are not reef safe. Fish that eat plankton and algae are generally ok.> I do have lots of inverts and soft corals. They don't necessarily have to be from the Red Sea - they just have to be reef safe. I have had flying fish tell me Dwarf Angels are reef safe. <To varying degrees.> Someone else told me that only copper banded butterflies are reef safe. <Somewhat, but not always.> Are these true? Could you please name a few different species that would be appropriate for my tank and then I will be more than happy to research them myself on your web page. Thanks Ron <Start by looking here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeflvst.htm Look at small wrasses, Pseudochromis, blennies, gobies, etc. -Steven Pro>

Reef Tank Additions II Thanks for your feedback! Is a Flame angel or a Coral Beauty a possibility considering the soft corals, inverts & shrimps? <Sometimes. No guarantees with any of the Centropyges.> Also how about Flame Hawk? <Can be a problem with small shrimp and hermit crabs.> You mentioned Blennies & Gobies which are not aggressive feeders - Are they OK with the Tang and Clown? <Varies by species.> Aren't these aggressive feeders? <The Damsel is your biggest problem.> That's the reasoning for maybe the Angels or Hawks. Please let me know what you think or what other species to consider. Thanks Ron <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Starting/Selecting sizes for marine fish livestock, and lighting, 75 gal, reef   1/7/06 Mr. Fenner,         I have a 75 gal starting to be a reef tank,  I have had problems with the acclimation of larger fish.  5"+, I follow quarantine procedures, and I drip acclimate.  I have lost about 200 dollars in fish, even though all parameters are of good quality.  PH 8.3,  Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, dKH 12, Temp 78.  I have about 87 gal total volume, with 1300 gph turnover.  Smaller fish under 4" acclimate readily, and even turn out to be excellent fish.  Current stock is as follows;   1 Long nose Hawkfish 3"   1 Sixline Wrasse 2.5"   1 Flame angel   3 Blue-green Chromis 1.75" each   1 Lysmata amboinensis 3" body, largest I have ever seen he will chase the long nose   2 Peppermint shrimp 1.5 and 2"   1 Sarcophyton about 6" tall (toadstool)   1 colony green star polyps   various Corallimorpharians, blue striped, green striped, purple, blue, and a couple unidentified on live rock   20 blue legged hermit   1 scarlet hermit   1 emerald Mithrax 1.5"   1 cream colored crab, looks like emerald, except in color, and body seems hairy, about .5" came in on some new live rock, small enough not worried yet, still trying to Identify.   various snails about 15 total, turbo Nassarius, Mexican black hats, and a sand conch   I have about 120 lbs of live rock, (have an addiction)   I have found no parasitic infections, on current stock, have tried 2 different tangs, Kole, and yellow, both died, and a one spot fox face, all were larger then 5", each had a one month quarantine, did great.  Added to display, none at the same time, worried about bioload as well.  They would be fine for a few days eating well, then they would stop eating, and invariably die. Yes I add marine foods, and a very wide variety.  Each fish has a good diet.  Most food is also frozen, some Hikari pellets for the Chromis, trying to keep Hawkfish a little more hungry, but do not fear he does eat 2x a day, the others 3x, the  Sixline I want to only eat once or twice, for his personality is great that way, and he doesn't hide then.  Flame Angel used to hide a lot, but Chromis were great dithers.  So aside from possible size problems I cannot see why these fish died.  If you have any other ideas, on this it could help.  Yes I have a Protein skimmer, and at the time I was running 440 watts of VHO 1 03 act. 2 6500, and 1 10000, But I have recently bought 2 150 HQI pendants.  The bulbs that came with are 20000, and they are CoralLife AquaLight clip on pendants.  So The main question is was the 440 brighter then the 300 or the other way around. <The 20ks may look/appear brighter... are not as "bright" to your photosynthetic livestock> And would a Squamosa be a good candidate for current lighting scheme.  And yes I plan on changing the bulbs to 10k, what brand do you feel is best. <Like some of the Japanese lamps, the Buschke product. Some of Phillips lines> (everyone's opinions matter, it just depends on how one receives said opinion)  Other then the fish loss, to date 2 percula, 1 killed by blue devil, 1 suicide bungee jumper, no bungee cord, silly fish, 1 Blue Chin Trigger (FAMA Idea on reef safe triggers, was working but he to was over 5") 1 Blue devil, killed by Blue devil (newbie mistake) 2 velvet damsels killed by blue devil ( newbie mistake, thanks to LFS "oh yeah they are shoaling fish that get along with everything") 1 Blue Devil fed to Volitans for being a mean little fish attacking my Sixline wrasse.  Also everything is grounded and drip looped.          Also, sorry I know I am a pain, I keep trying to find good examples of lower light SPS, I don't want Acropora, and I am using the softies for husbandry skills, bigger they get the more they are worth. I do plan on going to SPS and clams, preferably lower light species, will buy a chiller and more powerful lighting if necessary, but prefer to start with lower light and hardier species of SPS and clams.  Also I found two Clarion Angels online, but I am not spending over a $1000 on something that could possibly die, so should be left on the reef, probably also illegally obtained.  But they are a dream fish for a species tank.  Also our community recently lost a fellow reefer in the avalanche in Colorado.  Gabe Medina had 2 150 gal reefs, a 75 gal species, and a 24 gal nano reef.  He lost his life at the age of 32.    <A shame...>   Thank you for your time and patience,   Thomas <The larger fish may just have been poor specimens, but larger fishes of any given species are not nearly as adaptable to captive conditions, nor do they ship as well as "medium" sized specimens per species. I would start with the tangs and Siganids at 3-4 inches in length. Bob Fenner>

How much is too much? (marine stocking)  75 Reef Mr. Fenner, I have a 75 gallon reef tank. 80lbs LR, 70lbs LS, 380 watt lighting, Berlin Skimmer, 30gallon refugium, Amm & Nitrite 0, nitrate 5ppm, pH 8.3, SG 1.024, 78 degrees, 1 yellow tang, three green Chromis, 1 cleaner shrimp, and my lonely Pearl coral. I am at the stage when I want to stock (slowly) the coral for my tank. It is very bare as of right now. I have learned so much from reading your web site! I would like to know if the presumption I have made is a correct one. That as long as one coral does not harm another, adequate feedings, trace elements, lights & water quality, compatible fish & invertebrates, there is no limit to the amount one can stock your reef? <To a large degree, this is an accurate presumption> I ask because at my LFS they have a densely stocked show tank, and I am in awe of it. <Mmm, with folks "keeping an eye on it", the organisms coming/going at a clip...> I would like to over a good amount of time and experience get to that point. <A worthy goal> Is there a point (inches of coral to tank space) when one should call it quits? <Perhaps more beneficially, a "point" at every moment, addition when the potential for troubles increases to a level where the aquarist feels comfortable, competent...> My other concern is my tap water. I do a 10 gallon change every other week with water that is circulated and heated for 1-2 weeks minimum. <A good practice as you, I and I do wish all knew, employed> I wonder what tests I should run on my tap water to see if I am in need of a RO or RO/DI unit. Phos. Sill. Cop. (sorry for the abbreviations, not a good speller and don't want to embarrass myself) or any other? <Your self-effacing behavior is to be lauded. No real tests necessary... by definition... You're successful... would knowing more about the constituents make you more so? Gain you insights, advantages? If so, especially in the face of adding more and likely more touchy livestock, I would possibly measure phosphate (not silicates or copper or anything else unless "obvious problems" come up that you consider might be due to other materials. I take it you do measure alkalinity, calcium... in your main system...> Sorry for the long post! I apologize. I hope all is well for you, and big thanks for any advice you can give. :) <A pleasure my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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

Livestock question   90 Reef Hi! (BTW I followed your advice and used some carbon (80g/3 ounces) to remove the bad smell coming from the tank and after half a day it doesn't smell at all! Surprisingly effective, thanks!) I bought my three first fishes two weeks ago: Nemateleotris magnifica, ocellaris, and a Kaudern's cardinal. The clown and the Firefish are doing great so far but a few days ago I found the cardinal lying dead on the sand when I got up in the morning.  Since then I've been reading again on cardinals and realized that they do better in groups, an information I overlooked at first. Here is my stocking plan for this 90 gal + fuge reef tank with DSB (4-5") and 130lbs LR: 1 Clown Goby, Green (Gobiodon strangulatus) 1 Kaudern's Cardinal (Pterapogon kauderni) 1 Ocellaris Clownfish - Tank Bred (Amphiprion ocellaris) 1 Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica) 1 Yellow Tang - Hawaii (Zebrasoma flavescens) 1 Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) 1 Sexy Anemone Shrimp (Thor amboinensis) 1 Coral crab (Trapezia rufopunctata) 1 Pompom boxing crab (Lybia tesselata) 1 Electric Blue Hermit Crab (Calcinus Elegans) 1 Marble Sea Star (Fromia sp.) + Montipora digitata, Xenia, and Euphylliids. My questions regard the possible replacement of the cardinal by another species... - Should I really avoid cardinals if I am not willing to get a small school? <There are some few that do okay as single individuals, but almost all sold in the trade are social> - Would it be a bad idea to replace it with a Pseudochromis fridmani? They are supposed to be relatively aggressive but I have mixed reviews about that. Don't want to cause problems to my future mandarin or to the inverts. <Up to you> - Are Pseudochromis fridmani generally good at limiting bristle worms population? <Small specimens, numbers, yes> I would like that. Are they going to prey heavily on other microfauna as well such as micro stars... <Not so much> - I saw a twin-spot goby in my LFS and found it very interesting. The problem is that one is not supposed to introduce a sand sifting fish when using a DSB methodology. Also of concern is heavy competition with the mandarin although the mandarin gets them more on LR I guess. What is your opinion here, should I definitely leave that goby out of my plan? <I would omit this fish... does poorly in general, w/o a partner very difficult to keep> - Otherwise I would like a fish that "plays in the sand" (if you have any species suggestions here...). So a Jawfish could be an option.  <Others are listed on WWM> They don't really go through a DSB sifting the sand for food as I understand. The only thing that bugs me is that the available species all seem to be from the Caribbean and I try to go Indo-Pacific only.  Thank you very much in advance for your input! Dominique <Keep investigating your choices... and remember the virtue of patience. Bob Fenner> 

Interesting but Deadly Critters?   90 Reef Hello Bob/Gentlemen, <I'm not sure if I resemble that remark, but thanks kindly anyways...Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a few questions regarding a package of invertebrates that I am interested in adding to my 90 gallon reef tank. The package includes: - 2x - tropical abalones <most heinously excellent creatures...very good algae scavenger> - 2x - Mithrax crabs <OK> - 1x - impatiens cucumbers (Holothuria impatiens) - 1x - tiger tail cucumber (Holothuria hilla) - 1x - pink and black cucumber (Holothuria edulis) <hello cucumberville!> - 1x - red Fromia star (Fromia sp.) <very good...Fromia are much better captives than Linckia species> I searched through your website for related articles and FAQ as well as other publications, and the consensus is the lethal potential of cucumbers "eviscerating" and then wiping out the entire tank.  <ya... that is troubling> While I certainly do not want that to happen, I noticed you (Bob) cited in one of your FAQ that the species of cucumbers mentioned above have a lesser potential of eviscerating. <have you never been a victim of Murphy's law? Hehe...> Having said that, should I go ahead and purchase the cucumbers or eliminate the them from my selection?  <if you do not have a distinct passion or need for sea cucumbers, please don't bother to take the risk. There are plenty of other detritivores out there. For simply diatom reduction and sand sifting...consider a goatfish, they are great and very underrated > Secondly, with regard to the red Fromia star and Mithrax crab, what is the likelihood of them bothering/eating my corals? <low risk...worth it if you like. Although the Mithrax are not the most diligent members of any janitorial crew> Lastly, will the above mentioned livestock cohabitate with my existing livestock? Tank Conditions: - Inhabitants include: yellow tang, purple tang, male flame wrasse, 2x - female flame wrasse, an assortment of soft and hard corals, black brittle stars, cleaner shrimps, snails, and hermit crabs. - Water parameters: spg - 1.026, carbon hardness - 10dKH, calcium - 420 ppm, ammonia - 0ppm, nitrite - 0ppm, nitrates - < 2.5ppm, phosphate - <.03ppm, magnesium - 1350ppm, temperature - constant at 78 degree, and pH - 8.2 (this may be attributable to my calcium reactor, the CO2 could be suppressing the pH value). - Filtration: 120 pounds of live rock, and a hybrid 30 gallon ecosystem/ETS skimmer sump. <compatibility is likely to be fine...but the pH is indeed a bit low. A very beneficial and convenient correction for this is a second media reactor for the effluent of your calc reactor. Tempers the pH and maintains extraordinary alkalinity> My reef has been running well for the past two years; I wanted to add the above invertebrates for interest and maintenance values. I want to thank you in advance for your time and effort. Your website is a great value/tool to all hobbyists to learn and share! <thank you very kindly.. and for what it's worth, a second skimmer and/or better water flow would negate the maintenance needs of such a minor crew of detritivores. Anthony Calfo> Best, Dan

Cyano/stocking level... Featherdusters  1/16/06   90 Reef Hi! I have a 90 gal reef tank (30 gal fuge, 5"DSB, and 150lbs LR) that is 8 months old now. Things are going quite fine (and I owe it in great part to your great website) except for a constant fight against Cyano. Nothing dramatic, but annoying. I do a 20% water change each second week. I have half a dozen crustaceans, corals, and 6 fishes (a young yellow tang, a pair of ocellaris, a clown goby, a mandarin, and a lawnmower blenny). Nitrate and phosphate are at 0 on my Seachem tests. <Read here for some help on controlling Cyano. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm> I have a Tunze Comline automatic 3130/2 skimmer. I think it works well but it's only producing 350ml of skimmate per month. Is this normal or is there something wrong? <Seems normal to me with your fish load.> I have four big feather dusters. Two of these are there since 6 weeks and the two others since 6 months. I found the feathers of the latter's lying on the DSB this week. One of them 4 days ago and the other just today. Can they lose the feathers by themselves? <Yes, but should grow back in a healthy system.> Could it be from starvation? <They feed mainly on bacteria and organic matter present in the tank but supplemental feedings of phytoplankton are beneficial.> There is one electric blue hermit in the system (Calcinus elegans), could he be responsible?  <Possibly, they have been known to damage feather dusters along with attacking snails, eating them and taking over their shell.> I am going to upgrade to a 210 gal tank. I am planning the fish load now. I would like to ask your opinion as I want to be sure not to overstock. Here is the plan, is it too much/borderline (gives about 70" of fish for a 210 gal + min. 50 gal sump/fuge) ? 1 yellow tang 1 other tang (maybe Kole) 2 ocellaris (mated pair) 5 clown goby 2 mandarin (mated pair) 1 Tailspot blenny 1 Jawfish rosenblatti (blue spotted) 5 Chromis viridis 5 Banggai cardinals <Good choices.  I'd probably go with a blue tang rather than the Kole.> Many Thanks! <You're welcome> Dominique

Is my tank big enough? - 09/08/2005   105 Reef Hi, <Hello.> I am looking at setting up a 5" <I assume you mean 5'/five feet in length?> 400 litre marine aquarium, <About 105 US gallons....> I am hoping to stock it with a Porcupine puffer, <Too large for this tank, by far.> Blue Tang, <In my opinion, a tang will not have enough swimming space....  but many folks successfully keep them in tanks of similar size.  You'd probably be fine with this.> Snowflake Moray, <Also too large for this tank, IMO> 2 Clown fish with 2 Anemone <Clowns, great; anemones, maybe not - anemones are exceedingly difficult to care for and have extreme lighting and water requirements.  Please research these intensively prior to deciding to purchase.> and a red hermit crab. <Crustaceans are mostly just puffer food, when you couple them with puffers.  If you decide upon a puffer more suited to the size of this tank, omit the crab.... and any other crustaceans.> I have the  existing jewel internal filter, Eheim external canister filter, sander  protein skimmer and a Sander ozonizer. Is this set up adequate for the fish I wish to keep in it? <I might consider a better/more powerful skimmer....  But any skimmer is better than no skimmer.> If so, is there anything you would recommend that I add to the system in terms of filtration. <Live rock - at perhaps a pound per gallon - would be of great benefit.  You could consider a deep sand bed and/or a refugium, as well.> I have had bad experiences previously with overstocking a 120 litre tank, due to bad advice at fish stores, so your advice would be greatly appreciated. <I urge you to start reading:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm .  Much to learn, here.> Thanks,  -Kev <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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

Stocking a Marine Tank  120 Reef I am starting to load a recently cycled 120 gallon reef tank (22 days since I put 60 kilos of live rock in). All readings seem good; PH 8.25, Ammonia, Nitrite at 0, Nitrate between 5 and 10ppm, salinity 1.025, temp. ranges between 24 (morn.) and 25 (evening) degrees centigrade. Just put in two false Percula clowns, a small Kole tang (2 inch) and two leather corals. How long should I wait for the next load? <Generally about one month.> Is there some variation in water chemistry which will tell? <Ammonia and nitrite should both remain at zero. There maybe a small increase but should drop back down in a month's time.> I am planning on a (small) magnifica anemone, a few more soft corals and some easier hards (no pun intended), maybe a clam, another tang (purple), a pygmy flame angel and a mandarin fish. <I would wait at least one year for the anemone, clam, and mandarin. All are somewhat difficult and not to be recommended for the novice. All other seem fine.> Thanks again, Jordon <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Hair Algae And Fish Stocking - 11/14/05  120 Reef Hello Crew! <<Howdy>> It has been a while. Thank you for all your wisdom to date! <<We hope it has been helpful.>> I am writing to ask you several questions about my 120g reef tank. I have a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, UV sterilization (8 watt), mixture of actinic and metal halide lighting. It is stocked with about 90-100lbs of live rock, several soft corals (mushroom, polyp, and brains), coral banded shrimp, blood and skunk shrimp, 75-100 crabs, and 10-15 snails. I have several fish: Percula Clown, Hippo Tang, Yellow Tang, Flame Angel, 2 Fire Fish, Banggai Cardinal, Lawn Mower Blenny, Striped Goby, and 3 Anthias. <<Mmm...a tank full...>> Here are my questions: 1.Recently I have had a huge green hair algae bloom. <<Might be the fish load.>> I have tried (and trying) the suggested ways to decrease the algae. I do 10% water changes every 10-14 days, I have been feeding less, I have checked the PO4, <<Likely the algae is using the available PO4 before it can be detected.>> I decreased the amount of lighting to 8 hours a day, <<I never recommend decreasing the photo-period.>> added more crabs, hand plucked the larger thickets, my nitrates are normal, but I am losing the battle. Any other suggestions? <<Well, I don't believe in starving fish...you might want to consider finding another home for the Hippo Tang to reduce the bio-load. You can also try raising pH to about 8.5/8.6 and make sure calcium stays above 350. But I'm sure you read about all this in our FAQs.>> << <giggle> <hint hint> >> Anything I can add to the tank that will destroy or eat the algae? <<Not with any consistency...besides, you're just treating the symptom...you really need to find and eliminate the cause.>> 2. Do I have too many fish in my tank? <<Ah...I think so, yes.>> 3. I have a green polyp coral that has been overrun by the nuisance algae, the polyps have ceased coming out, if I can control the algae do you think it will come back? <<Very likely it will recover once the algae is under control.>> Thank you. Dr. M <<Regards, EricR>>

Helpful hints needed... (marine livestock selection)  120 Reef Dear Bob, Let me start by saying that your site is one of the best sites (not just fish sites) on the web. It is very easy to find what you are looking for. <Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated by all.> I hope you can help with a few gentle nudges in the right direction. The following is what we currently have in our tank: Tank - 4ft x 2ft x 2ft Capacity - 450l 120gal Filter - Fluval 403 Powerhead - Atman At-f102 4 Undergravel plates Lighting - 4 x 2ft Arcadia Fluor. Tubes 2 x Marine Blue 2 x Power Glo 20W Heating - 1 x 250 watt heater <I might add another heater... to ease the burden on the one in cold weather... and make the temperature more uniform throughout... place in an opposite corner.> Protein Skimmer - 1 x Orca 35 skimmer Live Stock - Live Rock - 50kg 110pounds 1 x Coral Banded Shrimp - Stenopus hispidus 1 x Snail 1 x Blue Tang - Paracanthurus hepatus 1 x Tomato Clown - Amphiprion melanopus 1 x Scribbled Angel - Chaetodontoplus duboulayi 1 x Bubble Tipped Anemone - Entacmaea quadricolor 1 x Star Fish - Fromia milleporella ???? 1 x Soft Coral - Nephthea sp ???? I have a few questions that I hope you can help with. The angel is very shy and will not come out of his few favorite hiding places except when no one is around (or al least thinks there is no one around). we have actually hidden in places where we can still see the tank and he comes out then. From time to time when I am feeding the other two fish, he will just stick his head out, see me and retreat. Will this change in time? <Yes, though this Genus is notably retiring> Secondly we are looking at adding some more fish very soon and just wanted to get your thoughts. The ones we are considering are the following: Copperbanded Butterfly (I am aware of there track record but am willing to put in the hard yards) Blenny Royal Dottyback Dwarf Lion Niger Trigger <Mmm, the Lion and Trigger might eat your shrimp...> Lastly, our Tang occasionally like hitting himself up against some of the rock in the tank. Is this a normal behavior, or should we be looking into this more? <Normal to an extent. No gashes, obvious external parasitic involvement, no problem> Thanks you very much for your time and keep up the exceptional work. <Will endeavour to do so my friend. Bob Fenner> Regards, Scott Fawke, Brisbane, Australia

LR curing and stocking plan  120 Reef Hi Bob, After what seems like forever, my system is finally setup and actually has water in it! Yeah! My wife never thought this day would come! :-) I just ordered some LR from FFE and it should arrive tomorrow. Can't wait! Here's a quick recap: 90 gal tank, 30 gal sump (1/2 filled with 3-4" sand and will have Caulerpa), Dolphin 800 for return, Aqua-C EV90 skimmer, 90lbs LR (tomorrow), 80lbs cc (about 1.5" deep), Rio800 (leftover from old tank) for additional water movement, 220watts pc. Two questions: I still have a Turboflotor 1000 available. If I wanted to cure the whole 90lbs of LR in place, would running the Turboflotor along with the Aqua-C speed up the curing?  <Wouldn't hurt. I would run it> Second, could you give me your opinion of this potential stocking list: 40 Astrea snail, 10 blue leg hermit crab, 2 Lysmata amboinensis, 2 tank raised true Perculas, 2 Gobiosoma oceanops, 1 Pseudocheilinus hexataenia, 2 Gobiodon citrinus, 1 Ctenochaetus strigosus, 1 Cirrhilabrus scottorum, 1 juvenile Pomacanthus imperator, plus various 'Shrooms, Ricordea, Sarcophyton, and later anchor coral and frogspawn? Would I need additional lighting for the anchor and frogspawn? <No extra lighting... you know the Emperor will outgrow this ninety> Sorry about the long email. I'm just really excited! Thanks again for everything. During this whole process, I've felt like I've had a friend help me along every step of the way. Have a great weekend. <Ah, a pleasure. Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Re: LR curing and stocking plan Wow Bob, good morning. I didn't expect a reply this early. You must be reading emails while brushing your teeth! :-)  <Instead of...> And yes, I know the big angel will eventually outgrow the 90, but the wife loves that one. If I started with a 3" juvenile, how long do you estimate it would be happy in that environment? 2-3 years hopefully? <About this time frame, yes> I'd be able to provide a larger tank by then. If not, then I can try talking the wife into a Centropyge again in the meantime. Thanks. <No thanks! Bob Fenner>

Combining tanks  12/17/05   120 Reef Hi Guys and Gals, <Whats up Jeff? Adam J here with you this evening.>      I am going to be buying a single family home soon and have got the OK to use the entire basement for my fish obsession. <Ahh, lucky you, very few homes, have basements here in SoCal, though a greenhouse would be nice eh?> I currently have two 120 gallon tanks set up. The first has a small (4inch) dog face puffer, lunar wrasse, yellow tang, dwarf lion and dwarf angel (coral beauty).   <Stocked quite heavily.> The second tank has a Purple tang, two Perculas, one dragonet, one red scooter blenny, one potter's angle, one lyretail Anthias and a few corals (mushroom and other leathers).  I wanted to get your input on how you think possibly combining both groups would go in a 300 gallon tank? <It would not go very well at all, your first set-up has rather boisterous fish in it while the second has much more sensitive critters such as the dragonets, the Anthias and the C. potter the puffer and lion could make short work of these. Due to the potential size/aggression of the puffer I would omit him anyway, especially since you have sessile invertebrates.> Would I need to use a divider? <Either that or keep in separate set-ups.> I am concerned that the puffer might go for the Perculas or the Dragonettes, <Yes a very LARGE likelihood he would go for them.> or that the angles and tangs might have issues, what are your thoughts on this? <This is a possibility too, I would rather not mix the angels mostly due to the timid behavior and sensitivity of the C. potteri. The tangs could work together in the 300, depends on the individual fish, the purples can get quite testy with other tangs, especially those in its genus (Zebrasoma) like the yellow. If you plan to keep the tangs together, try to add simultaneously and be prepared to remove one if it does not work out.> I know the tangs and angles could have issue in the 120 but I was wondering if the 300 would be enough room for them to create territories. <See above.> Thanks <Welcome.> Jeff   <Adam J.>

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

Marine Tank Upgrade   2/2/06   120 Reef Hi , <Hi Nicole.> I have a 2 part question.   <Okay.> I'm moving up from a 55 gal to a 120 gal.   <Awesome.> First part After I cure live rock in new tank, 90 pounds can I move all of my 55 gal into the new tank (rock, soft corals, and fish, refugium) at the same time? <You could but as you allude to below, patience is the best way, maybe ½ one week and half the next, giving time for your new nitrifying bacteria to adjust.> I'm figuring no. o.k. second part In the new tank I plan on having 2 Bannerfish Heniochus diphreutes 1 four lined wrasse. What fish from my 55 gal do you suggest I keep without over stocking? I have 4 Blue-green Chromis  1pink skunk clown 1 ocellaris clown 1 mandarin goby this one I am  keeping) 1 skunk cleaner 5 peppermint shrimp. <Remove one of the clowns from the list and you should be fine.> I am  torn I have had my tank  for 5 years , but I fell in love with the Bannerfish and I Have no room for both  tanks. Thanks so much Nicole <Welcome, Adam J.>

Maroon Clown and Sixline Wrasse   125 Reef Bob, I currently have a 125 gallon reef tank with a couple of leather corals and some mushrooms. The only fish I have are a Sail fin tang, a coral beauty, a Foxface, and a six-line wrasse. I wanted to add another fish and wasn't too sure what I could get that would not disturb the peace in my tank. I went to my LFS and they had two fish that I was interested in. Once was a lemon peel angel and the other was a small maroon clown. I was a little hesitant on purchasing the lemon peel angel because I didn't want it to fight my coral beauty. <Good instincts> Both the lemon peel and the maroon clown looked to be in excellent condition and the lemon peel was the same size as my coral beauty. The LFS said that the lemon peel should be alright with the coral beauty as long as there were plenty of places to hide and the fact that I had a 125 gallon tank. <True, but still a gamble.> Even with all of this I was hesitant on purchasing the lemon peel. After some thought I decided to not chance the lemon peel and went ahead and purchased the small maroon clown. I figured it was the safe bet considering what I already had. <Yes> After quarantining him for 2 weeks I placed the small clown in my main tank. none of the fish seemed to mind the new addition. I left the tank for a little bit and when I came back I thought I noticed some nipped fins but was unsure. I stayed there and observed the fish for a while and to my utter surprise I watch as my six-line wrasse proceeded to beat the hell out of the little clownfish. <An unusual conflict. These two are fairly dissimilar fish.> the clown is slightly smaller than the six-line wrasse but I was shocked because my wrasse usually minds his own business and does his own thing. I removed the clown and placed him in a small 30 gallon tank that I have. My plan right now is to try and get him healed in there and hopefully get him to grow a little bit so he is bigger than the six-line wrasse. Now to the point of my questions. Do six-line wrasses and clowns usually not get along or I am right in assuming that it is a size issue and that once the maroon clown is bigger than the wrasse the wrasse will leave it alone? <Probably and possibly> I really like both fish but I don't want to maintain a second tank just for the clown. If I can't put the two together I will probably have to get rid of the clown since I will probably never be able to catch the wrasse, not that I would want to, it is probably my favorite fish. Do you have any suggestions on this? <When the clown is healed and larger, try reintroducing and moving around some of the decor.> Thank you for any info or help you may give me on this. Gianluca <This is not a guarantee, but worth a try IMO. All fish have their own personalities. There are generalizations, but you will always find fish who have not read the same books as all of us. :) -Steven Pro>

Bigger Tank...Bigger Fishes? (Stocking Questions) 7/29/05   125 Reef Greetings Bob & crew! <Scott F. your Crew member today!> Sorry to be pestering you lately, but you are the best and most reliable source for info I know of.  Sorry for the long background, just want you to know what I have before offering advice. <No apologies required...We're here to serve!> I just upgraded my 55 gal reef to a 125 reef and everything has pretty much faired out just fine. <Glad to hear that!> I transferred the 60# of LR and added it to about 90# of base rock.  50# of my old LS added to 70# of new Aragamax sand.  I have a sump/fuge now (40-gal) that has a DSB with old/new sand in it and will soon have macroalgae and LR (when I get lighting installed and money for the rocks/algae).  Still have dual 175W MH pendants and will be adding a third (probably a 250 to go in the middle) in a few months.  There really is no coral under the space where a third would go, so no real worries there. Left it as a open space with a single, large vertical rock for swimming room (my yellow tang loves it!). <I do, too! It's nice to leave lots of open space, instead of the usual "wall"!> Other equipment includes a AquaC Remora Pro skimmer (will be getting an EV-180 for x-mas but this will do for now), Whisper HOT 60 filter, CPR HOT fuge with mangroves, various powerheads for ~18x current flow, dual heaters (one in tank, one in sump....in case one goes out). <Sounds good...Just change the media in the power filter very regularly, to avoid having excess organics accumulate and degrade the water quality.> Water parameters (watch like a hawk.....borderline obsessive-compulsive about it)  SG 1.025, pH 8.28 (+/- .03), dKH 10, ammonia & nitrite zero, nitrate 0.3 (think I lost a bit in the move, should be zero within a week....yes it is 0.3 and not 3 as I have a low range test kit), Ca low 400's, phosphates & silicates zero.  Use only RO/DI water for top offs and mixes. <Sounds very nice! Nothing wrong with lots of testing...Just don't drive yourself crazy trying to hit every parameter perfectly...Sounds like the trend overall is terrific in this tank.> Fishies:  3" Yellow Tang, 2 Percula Clowns, Yellowtail Damsel, Firefish Goby, Neon Blue Cleaner Goby, Coral Beauty. <Nice, active, colorful mix!> Inverts:  2 Fire Shrimp, 2 Serpent Stars, 5 different species of snail (including 6 Nassarius (sp?)....will be adding more), 2 Scarlet Hermits (keep them fed and they don't hurt anything), 3 or 4 micro blue hermits, and I still have tons of pods and Mysis in my tank/fuge/filters that made the trip. <Cool...> Corals:  My prized RBTA....still in one place after the move.  Open Brain Coral, Yellow Polyps, Zoanthid Polyps (3 color variations), Mushrooms, Xenia, Anthelia, Green Star Polyps, a new, still unidentified coral (check your mailbox), and a feather duster. Phew!  Now, what I definitely plan to add: More Nassarius snails for the DSB and main tank.  Thinking around 6 more. Skunk cleaner shrimp (my only move fatality) Macroalgae (Gracilaria) A second Firefish Goby <Do think this addition through carefully. These fish can be remarkably territorial, and adding a new one into a tank with an established resident Firefish could spell problems for the newcomer, even if you have lots of places for it to retreat to.> Sharks with laser beams attached to their heads!  (j/k...been a long week) <Ahh..an obscure "Austin Powers" reference! All you want is a pair of sharks with freakin' laser beams....LOL> Now, what I am debating: 1.  I would like another Tang.  Debating between a Blue Hippo, Naso or Lineatus (clown) tang.  I think I have enough room and if I get one about the same size as my yellow, and one different enough of a color/shape, I am thinking they will be alright. <Hmm...I'd rule out the Naso (simply a HUGE fish with big-time space requirements) and the Lineatus (a beautiful fish that can become an absolute terror in all but the largest (we're talkin' HUNDREDS of gallons) tanks. If you are seriously thinking of any of these guys, I'd be inclined to get the Blue Hippo. Even then, this fish has big space requirements, and can reach 10". I'd actually pass on all of these selections, sorry. A possible addition would be the smaller, yet interesting (and useful!) Kole Tang, Ctenochaetus strigosus.> 2.  I would like a large angel.  Having corals, this is causing me concern.  Did plenty of research and asking around who has what in reef tanks and have rounded down to three choices.  The Regal, Majestic and Imperator angels are what I am thinking about.  I would get them small of course, and keep them well fed with an angel-appropriate diet. <All can be difficult to acclimate to captive life. It really depends upon the source of the fish. Regals used to be almost un-keepable due to bad collection practices (read that- cyanide), but there are other, better sources for these fish now (like the Red Sea or Australia) which improve your odds of success/ However, they are fishes that require the utmost in care. I'm debating about whether or not the 125 is a good sized tank for this fish, given the other livestock. The Imperator is really a "pass", in my opinion, as this fish gets very large (like 12"-15"), requires huge amounts of physical space, and can certainly munch on LPS and Xeniids, given time and opportunity. The Majestic is also a huge fish, hitting 10" plus easily. It's a wonderful, long-lived animal once it's settled in, but it really needs a large tank, and is not guaranteed to co-exist with your corals! Again, given your other inhabitants and proposed inhabitants, I'd be inclined to pass on this one, too! I know that you're ready to "liquidate" me at this point, as Dr. evil might say, but you really need to consider the "end game" when keeping large angels and tangs. Even though we might think of a 125 as a pretty large tank, to a 10" fish, it's like you or I being confined to a modest sized house for the rest of our lives, with no chance to go outside. Sure, you can survive that way, but you'd be miserable over time. My viewpoint on large angelfishes does not endear me to some hobbyists, but I believe it is right. Unless you have an 8'-10' plus  long tank, and hundreds of gallons of capacity, I'd pass n almost all large Angels. Sure, lots of hobbyists keep them in smaller systems, but it doesn't make it right, IMO. This thinking is exactly why I favor Centropyge Angels for most aquariums. I think that many of them are better suited for long-term husbandry.> 3.  Crocea clam.  This would wait until the third MH is in.  Have the space for it on my sand bed.  My coral beauty seems to leave all my corals alone but I would be concerned about the large angel. <I'd be concerned about ANY angel with a calm, with the exception of the Genicanthus species. Your Coral Beauty may not have interest in the corals, but who know what he/she will do with a tempting clam in the house!> Of course, everything would be subject to the mandatory QT for a month. <That's what I'm talkin' about! Yeahhh!> Well, that is it for now.  Sorry for the long email, just wanted you to have all the information.  Any suggestions/ideas are very much appreciated.  Thank you again for all your help....I definitely owe you a beer or two someday! -Ray <Well, Ray- sounds like you are on the right track. I like the fact that you are researching before purchasing the fish you mention. It's always nice to learn all you can BEFORE you make the purchase, and for that, I commend you! I hope that I didn't sound too negative in my views on some the fish, but I just want you (and other readers) to really think through the needs of such fishes before committing yourself (and the fish) to a life in your tank. Take my opinions (and anyone else's, for that matter) with a grain of salt, but do think of the caveats regarding the sizes and needs of the fishes you are considering. Do also consider many of the other smaller, equally fascinating choices of fish that are more appropriate for your system. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Schooling Fish  125 Reef Am looking for some ideas for a school of small fish in a 125 gal "reef" (really a FOWLR and a few soft corals). I have a 180gal tank with a school of 9 green Chromis. They both add interest to the tank and serve as "dither fish" for some of the shy fish in that tank. I'm interested in a similar theme (but visually different school) in the 125. Current residents of the 125 include a purple tang, a Kole tang, a marine beta, (2) tomato clowns, a dragon goby, and a neon goby. I've considered a handful of blue Chromis (not really "different" enough from the green Chromis in the other tank), a couple of Banggai cardinal fish (2 fish don't really seem to give the school effect), and Anthias options seem both expensive and delicate. Am I overlooking some other good choices? Your thoughts? <Mmm, well, there are some hardier than other Anthiines... given plenty of zooplankton food... and many other schooling damsels... both are mentioned, rated on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com)... For a 125 if you didn't mind giving them the center stage, a trio of Heniochus spp. or Gold Masked Butterflyfishes (Chaetodon semilarvatus) would be spectacular... Bob Fenner>

Re: More Questions from Mexico :)   125 Reef Hula Robert Your speed at answering questions amazes me :) My question is about my future tank inhabitants. The fish I already have: a couple of P. biaculeatus, 1 Salarias fasciata, 1 royal Gramma, 1 yellow surgeon, 1 six line wrasse (after your suggestion of avoid the green bird) and 1 Valenciennea strigata (small). Shrimps: 2 S. hispidus, 2 L. amboinensis and 3 L. wurdemanni The tank is 110 gal + 15 gal sump with 180 (approximately) pounds of live rock In the main tank (from Fiji and Mexico's gulf) + 20 pound of Mexico's gulf rock in the sump (do you think I still need more LR?) <No... but likely a bigger sump!> The sump capacity is in fact 27 gals, but because of the water circulation and the fact that I use the world famous "R. Shimek Kalkwasser addition method" (an inverted bottle, in fact 2 of them) inside the sump I haven't increased the water level. How much I should increase the amount of water in the sump? <Oh! This new volume is better, fine...> Is there room for more fish? I guess not for big fish, but what about some gobies? damsels? Chromis? <Yes...> Which ones? Pseudochromis? how many? <Would stay away from the last genus unless you can pick out some of the easier-going species that are tank bred... And would add a couple, trio of what interests you and wait/see how psychologically fit the mix is before adding more.> I love the fridmani the flavivertex and the springeri.  If I add some of these, I still have room for other of the fish I mentioned above or should I choose between the Pseudo's or something else <Something else would be better, less likely to inspire behavioral problems... the tank bred flavivertex tend to be easy going however... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/pseudoch.htm> So far the water parameters are "perfect" except for the Ca which I can't get above 390ppm. <This is fine> Last questions: I really love xenias, which are really difficult to find here in Mexico I saw the Xenias FAQ's and seems people either love them or hate them. What should I look when buying a xenia? <Local supply (terrible shippers), good health, pulsing...> Do you think they could survive a 1 day trip from US to Mexico? <Maybe... best to "hand carry" in your back pack...> One of the owners of a pet store could get me a permission for import, but I don't know whether the Xenia could stay in the bag for a day. <Just say any/all such livestock is for "personal consumption"... If asked, what are these for: Personal consumption> Same situation with some Tridacnas (which are VERY expensive here) and shrimps, which besides the Stenopus are hard to find. I wish I could get some more L. wurdemanni if they could survive and perhaps some small corals if they could survive the trip. Which could be my best options? <These can all be shipped with little chance of loss... by folks who know what they're doing (loose bags (even though the cabin is pressurized), multiple layers, some sessile invertebrates suspended/floated upside down... all carry-on... all for Pers. Cons...> Guess I should put them (if I can find one) under a shadow and in front of a current? <Okay> I have 2 250 watts 12000K bulbs) Will the shrimps eat the xenia? <Not likely> Any special tricks to making the xenia grow? (seems a lot of people have exactly the opposite problem, but here that won't be a problem cause I'm sure I could trade them). <For a few months... very easy to keep in general> Guess that's all for now. Gracias, nos vemos edg <Por nada mi amigo. Buenos suerte. Roberto Fenner>

Stocking question and angel noises  01/01/2006   129 Reef Hello, and thanks for all the excellent info on this site!  I have a question about stocking my tank.  I have been keeping fish for about 10 years so I am not a newbie, but I greatly respect another point of view, and yours more than most.  Here goes with the system info.  My system is a 100 gallon with 29 gallon sump.  Equipment includes a Turboflotor skimmer, UV sterilizer, 4 x 65w power compact, 2 x T5 bulbs.  About 200 pounds of live rock are in the tank and sump (hard to keep track over the years!)  The rock forms a wall from floor to top of tank with many, many caves for all the fish to swim through, however about ½ of the tank is free off all rock so that the fish can swim then entire length of the tank in the open if they wish.  Inverts include 2 blood shrimp, 1 skunk cleaner, 1 coral banded shrimp, blue Linckia sea star, a large brittle star, many mushrooms and numerous hermits and snails.  Fish include a bi-color blenny, long nose hawk, royal Gramma, a pygmy angel (Centropyge argi),  blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus, 5"), Purple Tang 6", an unknown fairy wrasse, possibly a Cirrhilabrus solorensis, a yellow Coris wrasse, Halichoeres chrysus, 2 maroon clowns, mated pair, and the big daddy of them all, a changing juvenile Imperator angel, 5".   The long-term game plan is to move the tangs, hawk, clowns (the female is rather large) and large angel to a 150 or 200 gallon tank in the next year or so and make the 100 gallon more of a Ëœreef" tank with the smaller fish.  I have had the yellow Coris, clowns, and blue tang for at least 3 years and the rest of these fish for about a year, starting off in a 55, then a 75, now the 100 that they are in.  You know how this hobby does that to your wallet! <Oh yes> I have chosen these fish carefully for compatibility, and they get along great.  The tangs and large angel swim together most of the time, and everyone else just ignores everyone else.  The large female clown has a hissy if the yellow Coris gets into her territory, which is very rare since the Coris likes to swim in the open and the clown likes a particular cave.  I have two Bulb anemones in this tank's future to keep her aggression down.  She was a VERY docile creature when she had her long tentacle anemone, however the anemone preferred the sand substrate to root in and did not get enough light to survive, which is why I am going to find some bulb anemone for the clowns which prefer the rock to root in, which is should put them much higher up in the tank closer to the lights - right? <Hopefully, yes> I followed the X inch per fish per X gallon rule I learned somewhere from some website or book sometime in the past, and as of right now, I am ok with my stocking levels according to that formula.  I know that I WILL have to get a larger tank as the tangs and angel grow larger, but my wife just HAD to have the blue tang and we all know how big they can get!  Not that I am complaining about getting a bigger tank¦ Do you see anything that I could possibly add to the tank? <Not at this point... I would hold off till there is more room... the occasion at the time for mixing/blending something in> I was thinking about a Jawfish or shrimp goby and pistol shrimp combo.  My wife is partial to Firefish but I told her that was a bad idea with the hawk, large angel and large clown.  Or should I remove some of the smaller fish (Gramma and/or pigmy angel) to my 12 gallon nano with only corals in it?   I really want to get a small dog-face puffer, Arothron nigropunctatus, if I remove the shrimp would that be ok?  I don't mind if I lose a few hermits or snails to him.  I probably already know the answer to this but I have to ask.  Sorry.   <Patience my friend. You're topped off currently... in need of more room, not more livestock> Personally I think I did a pretty good job picking these guys for compatibility but what do you think? <A good mix>   Since I have had these fish for quite some time, I have grown quite attached to them and their personalities, and as much as I would like to see more life in there I would also hate to upset the balance I have by adding anything else.   <Then I would not> My other question is about my changing imperator angel.  He makes noises. Lots of strange grunting, low frequency noises.  He seems to have one for Hi, how are you doing, you going to feed me?  He also has a rather sharp sounding one for anyone that ticks him off, a kind of get out of my way grunt-noise.  When you DO put some food in there for him you get a strange excited clicking/grunting kind of noise.   I have researched all over the web and have found no reference to angels making these noises.   <The larger angels are quite audible... and do, as you state, have a large vocabulary... Have heard them in tanks as well as in the wild> The first couple of times I heard these strange noises I about tore my sump apart looking for a malfunctioning pump!  Have you heard of this?   Thanks in advance and you guys are great, keep up the good work. David <Thank you, will do. Bob Fenner> Stocking level   130 Reef Dear Bob  <Cheers Jim> You'll be pleased to hear my flame angel is eating chopped Mysis and the odd small brine shrimp now. I also recently purchased a lovely (non anemone) porcelain type crab (more on him later).  <Ah, good news> I have a question concerning stocking level, here is my tank spec. 72"x24Hx18dp (130 US gallons). Running a wet dry trickle filter (approx 30gal). Aqua medic Turboflotor 1000 (very efficient skimmer in my opinion). UV sterilizer. Running two marine whites (60") 1 actinic 03 (60") and 1 50/50 (48") all with reflectors. Have approx 25Kg of live rock mixed with ocean rock.  I have converted to a fish/invert tank in the last 4 months; stocking hardy inverts such as button polyps, Sarcophyton, mushrooms etc.  My fish stock is:-  1 regal tang  1 midas blenny  1 flame angel  1 Banggai cardinal  4 ocellaris clowns  1 Rainford's goby <Rainfordi> My invert stock is  5 Sarcophyton specimens varying species)  1 mushroom colony  1 green button colony  1 green star polyp colony  1 yellow polyp colony  All I'm concerned with is the stocking level. Could I add more live rock and hardy inverts? <Yes> Plus do you think I could squeeze a neon goby in on the fish stock? <Yes> Plus is my lighting suitable for an anemone such as a bubble tip (My LFS says a Ritteri would not survive with my current lighting, Halides are a must apparently).  <You would need more lighting... do try some members of the Caryophylliidae instead for now: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caryophyllids.htm> My local fish store says I can squeeze 25 different invert species in a tank this size (that's species not number of corals) This seems too much to me, can you advise?  <Less is better... would need to hear definitions of "different", "species", "squeeze"... Starting with small specimens, you could fit many species (much more than this number in)... and assuredly actually already have hundreds... if not thousands... already... A matter of looking more, closely.> Cheers! Your friend from across the pond, Jim  <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Reef fish   135 Bob Hi, how are things going? I have a quick question for you. I have a 135 gal reef tank with 2 lyretail Anthias, 1 sixline wrasse, 1 purple tang, 1 hippo tang, 2 percula clowns, 1 cherub angel, 1 royal Gramma, 1 fire fish, and 1 Banggai cardinal. I was thinking about adding some more fish. I love angels, clown, Dottyback and butterfly fish. I know you are very busy but if you wouldn't mind giving me some ideas on what fish to add if any I would be grateful. The tank is doing very well and the fish are getting along, so I want to make sure what ever I add won't upset the apple cart. Thank you for your time and help. -Jason <Why don't you narrow the choices a little first. Then we can be of more assistance. Any more clowns, angels, or tangs could cause serious aggression problems. -Steven Pro>

Re: reef fish (Butterflyfishes) Steve, What are your thoughts on a lemon butterfly fish or threadfin butterfly fish for a reef aquarium? -Jason <The Threadfin is a definite no. The Lemon is marginally better, but may very well pick on some of your inverts. All Butterflyfish are potential problems in a reef tank. One of the best Butterflyfish for a reef would be the Heniochus diphreutes. There are several similar looking Heniochus, so a good reference book will be a must to distinguish them. -Steven Pro>

Re: reef fish (Wrasses) Steve, Would a Scott's fairy wrasse be ok for my tank? I didn't know if my sixline would be a problem. Once again thank you for your help. I am trying to figure out what and how many fish I can add to the tank. Jason <You have 11 fish now, right? Two or three more should be ok for your 135, depending on size. The fairy wrasse should be ok. May have a little trouble with the sixline, but Sixline's are not known to be too terrible. -Steven Pro>

Re: reef fish (Triggerfishes) Steve, Are there any trigger fish that would be ok for a reef and community tank? I have liked the trigger for a long time but I was always under the impression that they were not reef safe. -Jason <No, not really. Anthony just had a conversation about this topic. Look at today's or tomorrow's FAQ for the details. -Steven Pro>

Fish Stocking  135 Reef Bob Once again thank you for all your help and if I am bothering you, please let me know. I have a fish compatibility question for you. As I told you before I am currently upgrading my 46 gal reef to a 135 gal reef. I had a 6 line wrasse, cherub angel, Percula clown and a fire fish in my 46 gal. I would like to add to those fish one more Percula clown, Yellow assessor, Royal Gramma, schooling banner and a decorated goby to the 135. I have also thought about a blue assessor and a flame angel for this list. I want to know your thoughts about the compatibility of these fish with each other and the reef environment. <Should all be fine in the 135> I also want to make sure I am not adding too many fish to this system. I do not want to have any overstocking problems. Once again thanks so much for your help. Jason <Press on my friend. It is obvious you have been studying. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish Bob I have a couple of follow up question if you don't mind. I have done research on the flame angel and have found some info that says they will eat soft coral and other that say they are just fine if fed twice a day. <Some individuals, sometimes do/will consume stinging-celled animal tissue> Would you feel comfortable with one of these in your reef tank?  <Yes, have kept Centropyge of many species in reef tanks many times> I also want to know if the yellow and blue assessor will be ok together.  <If the system is large enough, has sufficient decor/habitat, yes> Finally, is there any order in which I should introduce all these fish into the tank. <Certainly... the least aggressive, more adaptable at first, ones that need more stable environments, more interstitial fauna later> Thanks again, Jason <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Purple Tang and Picasso Trigger  150 Reef Bob, I have a question. I need to know what you think of mixing a few different fish. I have a 150 Gallon tank with a few fish. (1)Bi-color Angel 3", (1) Eibli Angel 2", (1) Snow Flake eel 6", (1) Leopard Eel 2', (1) Black-back Butterfly 3", (1) Threadfin Butterfly fish 3", (2) Fire Fish Goby 2", (1) Clown 1" and (1) Long-tentacle Anemone. I was looking to add only two more fish, the Purple Tang and the Picasso Trigger. The Purple Tang is about the same size the Black-back Butterfly. The Picasso Trigger is about the same size. I just wanted to know if the Picasso Trigger would eat my Anemone or any one else or if the Tang or Trigger would kill any one of my fish. I know they can be territorial.  <Yes...> The other fish in my tank have held there own with the 2 foot long Leopard eel. Before I buy these fish I would just like your opinion on the possible two new tank mates. I have seen some of these fish together in my LFS. I did do some reading from your web site on these fish but I would just like your opinion. Thanks in advance, Pat <I hope that the Trigger will be one from the "mellower" end of the spectrum... this species exhibits wide, changeable ranges of behavior... It might cause trouble or not. And I would keep an eye on the Leopard Eel... you will likely want to trade it out in the future... as this species is "messy" with size/growth, and a piscivore. Bob Fenner>

A Question of Community   150 Reef Hello, Bob (and friends), <Steven Pro in this morning.> It's nice to be writing to you without a laundry list of problems. Thanks so much for your past assistance in bringing us to this state! I would like to add some additional members to my aquarium, and would appreciate your thoughts. I have a 150 gal reef, with 200+ lbs of live rock. All my water levels are great, and every fish looks healthy and they are all eating well. In addition to numerous soft corals, polyps, Zoanthids, worms, shrimp, snails, crabs and other things, I am growing a couple of kinds of macroalgae to supplement my herbivore's diets. The current denizens include (most of them are full grown): 1 yellow tang 1 ocellaris Anemonefish 1 pink skunk Anemonefish 1 scissors-tail goby 1 zebra bar goby 1 Firefish (magnifica) 1 purple Firefish (decora) 1 blue assessor 1 royal Gramma 1 pajama cardinal 1 Swiss guard Basslet 1 lawnmower blenny 1 pink bar goby (Don't know real name, though it behaves like a watchman type) 1 flame angel (dwarf) 1 coral beauty angel (dwarf) 1 Dispar Anthias 1 orange-tail Solomon island damsel 1 smithi damsel (it's much more gold/yellow than pink in its highlights) 11-member school of green Chromis <A total of 29 fish now.> I would like to add only 4 more fish in the future, and would appreciate your advise as to appropriateness, size, and sequence. First, I'd like to include two more tangs: 1 tank-raised hippo, and 1 sohal. I have seen more than one reef, even smaller than mine, with 3 tangs living peacefully together. <Peacefully does not seem like the right description. More like a negotiated settlement or standoff.> In selecting these specific ones, I thought that since each was from a different genus, that would reduce their potential negative interactions. <Yes, will help to cut back some.> Because my yellow tang is currently the "big man on campus", I would try to trap him and put him into my 45gal acclimation tank at the same time as I introduced the other two. Hopefully that would "reset" their territories, and when I put them all into my display tank, they would be able to get along. <Yes, when mixing Tangs, Zebrasomas should be added last. They are usually the most aggressive tangs and yellows can be some of the absolute worst.> I thought I would buy a sohal which was slightly bigger than the yellow, and a hippo which was slightly smaller than the yellow. <Ok, put the Blue Hippo in first and then add the Yellow and Sohal together.> In addition, (either before or after the tangs), I would like to add one fairy or flasher wrasse (probably a fairly good-sized one... 4-5"), and a Sargassum triggerfish (maybe a bit on the smaller size). <The Wrasse is fine, but I would forget the Trigger. Your crabs, shrimp, worms, etc. would all be up for grabs. Their other bad habit is overturning rocks searching for foods.> Thanks so much for your insights. Sincerely, Jim Raub <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Stocking babble   2/9/06  150 Reef I'm planning a 150g 6' long 2' wide 20" tall tank. FOLR with a BTA and Shrooms. I'm thinking on getting a Sequence hammerhead pump to run return and Beckett skimmer. The tank has center overflow with 2 1" bulk heads. It also has 1 1" bulk head in each corner which I plan to use as a drain. A 1" bulk head can do roughly 600-800gph? <... not likely, even in a "perfect world"> In my case 3200gph max.? The pump can do 5520 @ 4'. What is left over will go to a dual Beckett skimmer that I'm going to make. I can't decide on how I want the return. I can get a 1" sea swirl for the center and have 2 returns in the center pointing to the sides. Maybe a power head in the corners. Or have 6 ports going from back to front. Back to front is more common but I like the idea of the fish "riding the wave" across the tank. Stocking, imperator or majestic angel, flame and/or bicolor dwarf angel? <...? The first two will get too large for this system... You can read re their stocking, compatibility... on WWM> not sure if I can mix. Queens get too big and mean? <...> Could I also add a grey puma or blue spotted angelfish? <Not and have them be in good health> Not 100% sure I have ever seen a mature blue spotted angel. Do you know a good place for pics? <...? Books by Rudie Kuiter, Gerald Allen and Roger Steene, Scott Michael... on the Net through a Google search...> Tang, purple and/or blue Caribbean? Do Nasos get too big? <... all posted on WWM> Anthias, I have a pair of lyretails can I add some others? Like bicolor? A BTA and pair of tank raised Perc. clowns. Shrooms and ric's. I would like to have snails and crabs as well as cleaner shrimp. Can I keep a Sargassum trigger in here? Golden butterfly? Other pos. Coris wrasse but then no shrimp, red spotted Pseudochromis? Long nose filefish? As always, any help would be great. Love the site, Billy <Read Billy, read. Bob Fenner>
More stocking babble   2/14/06
OK, I have done some reading and still not understanding. first do you like flow from back to front or side to side? <For what? Overall circulation? Posted... should be random, complete...> You say both imperator and majestic angel get too big for my tank. I have read on your website that a 180g 6'x2'x2' is ok with a imperator and French angel. <One... not both... and neither forever> Is the extra height going to make or break me? <...? No> I have read that a purple tang may be to aggressive. How about the blue Caribbean? The no grey puma, no triggers I don't want my rock work moved without me), golden butterfly may go after BTA and no Coris wrasse. I believe the flame or bicolor will be ok. <... Please, don't write... read. The individual species and family accounts of these species "Systems", "Compatibilities" are posted on WWM... learn to/use the Google search tool, indices, links... Bob Fenner>

Ambitious Fish Stocking. 150 gal, reef For a 150 g (will upgrade when the two angels outgrow the tank, they will be 5" when I get them: 30 fish: Imperator Angel, Flame Angel, Regal Angel, Coral Beauty Angel, Watanabei Angel x2, <Pick one or two of the above> Bicinctus Clown x2, Australian Orange Tailed Damsel, <will become aggressive and territorial> Blue Reef Chromis x7, Fiji Devil, Jeweled Damsel, <The same thing could be said about these two also> Neon Goby x6, Neon Goby: Gold Stripe x2, Purple Firefish, Firefish, Lawnmower Blenny, Cleaner Wrasse <I would also cut the Cleaner Wrasse> <The damsels get to be a real nuisance for a lot of people. You may consider leaving them out.> 40 Invertebrates: Fire Shrimp x4 , Cleaner Shrimp x4, Peppermint Shrimp x4, Camel Shrimp x4, Red Lobster, Purple Lobster,  <All of these shrimp will probably not get along and the lobsters will surely not like one another and try to eat some shrimp> Blue Stripe Tuxedo Urchin x3, Blue Linckia x2, Bubble Anemone x2, <Lighting?> Pink & White Feather Duster x4, <Will need target feedings> Pink and Blue Linckia x2, <You might want to just get one Linckia total> Anemone Shrimp x2, Anemone Crab x2, <These guys are difficult filter feeders> Dancing Anemone Shrimp x2, Cat's Paw x2, <I do not know which genera of coral you are referring to?> Orange Sun Coral x2, <Another difficult creature that must be selectively fed> Toadstool Mushroom x2, Maxima "Ultra" Turquoise Clam <You did not mention your lighting> Clean up Invertebrates: Scarlet Reef Hermit x27, Red Leg Hermit x29, Left Handed Hermit x5, Emerald Crab x5, Red Fromia Starfish x2, Hawaiian Black Brittle Star x4, Orange Knobby Star x2, <Most thorny or knobby starfish are omnivores capable of eating a wide variety of things including corals.> Black Banded Serpent Star, Red Banded Serpent Star x2, Impatiens Cucumber x3, Tiger Tail Cucumber x2, Pink & Black Cucumber, Burrowing Cerith Snail x20, White Burrowing Starfish x2, <You probably will not need all of these sand sifters. They will be competing against one another for a limited amount of food. If one or several starve to death, you could have a real mess.> Turbo Snail x12, Bumble Bee Scavenger Snail x12, Abalone x3, Tonga Burrowing Cowry, Hawaiian Marbled Cowry Too Crowded? <Yes> Seem ok? <See above notes> Thanks a lot <I might have seemed a little too critical and that was not my intention. In fact, I applaud you for asking before purchasing. You will probably have a problem controlling nutrients to keep the corals happy with this fish load, even after cutting out some guys. Good luck, Steven Pro (Bob is out for a while and he asked Anthony Calfo and myself to fill in for him.)>

Marine stocking guidance  02/12/06   180 Reef Hello to all. <Hi back to the same> I need some help regarding livestock for my system.  It's a 150 with 220lbs of LR, 1" sand base, Euro reef skimmer with ozone, 30 gal DSB refugium with Chaeto, 10x turnover, and 4x65w PC.  Water param.s are 0's, PH is 8.4, and salinity is .0125.   <...> Current pets: 9 large turbo snails, 24 blue legged hermits, 3 emerald crabs, 1 fire shrimp, 1 dragon goby, 1 yellow tang, small colony of yellow polyps, blue mushrooms, and green mushrooms.  Oh, and we have 8 blue-green Chromis nearing the end of their quarantine.  The wife and I really enjoy our current mix and all of them seem to be thriving as well. Using LiveAquaria as a basic pictorial reference and guide, I assumed my choices were vast, but having read through tons of FAQ I've realized that "Reef Safe" doesn't mean it will mix well with what we have. <A very relative term>   We plan on adding a few more low/moderate light polyps and mushrooms, and as our final addition a flame angel.  I was planning on a six line wrasse, a fridmani, and a bicolor Foxface, but after reading your site the wrasse and Foxface seem to be bad news for my crusties. I know that butterflies love polyps, <Not all...> but I've also read that Hemitaurichthys polylepis would be suitable with my current mix.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I'm not asking for you guys to stock my tank, I just need a little help with which types to consider.  One of the aspects about the hobby I enjoy most is the research, so if you guys could throw a few hints my way I'll take it from there.  One last question - could I add another fire shrimp, would they become a pair or just rivals from not having been added at the same time? <Mmm, nope. Room for two here> Thanks for all your help! <Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Suggestions  10/4/05  180 gallon reef Greetings Crew. <Hi Dean! Adam with you.> Thanks again for sharing all of your knowledge and opinions with all of us marine tank enthusiasts. <The pleasure is ours.> I have done some research but would like your opinion on a few things. I am ready to move the contents of my 55-gallon reef system to a 180 gallon system.  <Oh congrats on the upgrade.> Because I am hoping to add additional corals and polyps along with the ones from the 55 g tank I want to place only reef friendly fish in the new system. I am wondering if you might suggest a shoaling fish i.e.: Chromis or Banggai cardinals for this purpose. I have been told that the Chromis will become very mean and territorial and I want to keep this a" friendly as possible" community tank.  <Chromis in general are a lot more friendlier and reliable than their damsel cousins.  Most aquarists keep them and hardly report harm to other livestock.  Having said that occasionally the Alpha of a Chromis group will become aggressive towards it fellow Chromis and possibly toward tankmates.  The Banggai cardinals are a good bet, especially if you can find a tank-raised bunch. As far as schooling goes, most captive animals cease their normal schooling behaviors in captivity; they tend to just hang out.> Would 3 or 4 yellow tangs shoal together or is this not a good idea?  <To big of a risk in my opinion.  Both to each other and other livestock, it would also be a heavy bio-load.> I will be adding two percula, a bi-colour blenny, a scarlet cleaning shrimp from the 55 g tank. Are there any butterfly fish that might not eat my polyps or soft corals ?  <Most, if not all, butterflies are a large risk but your best bets are those in the Heniochus genus, Forcipiger flavissimus and, Chelmon rostrata (not an easy one).> There are some beautiful species but I believe most are not reef friendly. <Calculated Risk, that decision is up to you.> As always thanks. I really would appreciate anything you might have to offer in ideas to my questions. <No trouble.> Thanks, Dean Fowler <Adam J.>

Opinions on a fish stocking list   210 Reef Hi, Bob, <Hello> Hope you had a good trip and thanks for all the help on previous questions. Due to a cracked acrylic tank that the manufacturer is kindly replacing, I will be tearing down my current 210G and setting it up again. I'm going to take the opportunity to adjust my fish list and wanted to run it by you for your thoughts on compatibility and load. The tank is a reef tank with mixed corals (LPS, SPS and soft). BTW I like the double triangle rockscape in your book and will do something similar (3 interlocking triangles I think). <A worthy guide/model> Current fish who are moving to the new tank: P. asfur C. loriculus P. fridmani A. rainfordi Purple tang 9 Chromis viridis Chrysiptera parasema (yellow tail blue damsel; seems meek enough) Red Firefish Fish I am currently planning on taking back to the LFS: Two maroon clowns P. sankeyi (nice and calm but not the prettiest) V. puellaris orange spot Sandsifter (Rainfordi is enough on the sand sifting front) Scooter "blenny" (dragonet) An orange fairy wrasse (unsure id but a little on the drab side) 4 Lemon damsels I haven't decided for sure on my C. fisheri angel but I'm thinking I'll keep him. He's a cute little guy. <Yes> Fish I'm thinking of adding to the new tank after it settles down from the change: A new clown pair. I have a H. crispa that is thriving and a green bubble tip. I'd like to get a rose bubble-tip anemone and plan on putting all the anemones on one of the triangles) sort of an anemone bommie. The H. crispa and E. quadricolor don't love each but they seem to co-exist).  <In this size, shape system, yes> I like my maroons but they aren't a mated pair and I'd like to get a mated clownfish pair. <They would become a "pair" in time... as you likely know> I've heard maroons can be very territorial though so I'm considering a true or false Percula pair instead. (My maroons aren't very territorial but they are also smallish.) <Time...> A yellow long-nosed butterfly. I think butterflies are gorgeous and this seems to be the only reasonable one to try in a reef tank other than Bannerfish which I don't care for. Besides, it will give me some bright yellow. I've had reasonable luck with a long nosed butterfly before in a reef tank. I'd love to try some of the others but they doesn't seem very wise. (Guess Bannerfish do okay but they don't appeal.) <A good fish, or two: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/forcipig.htm > A fairy wrasse mated pair, maybe a Hawaiian flame pair. <Neat fish, Cirrhilabrus jordani> Some more C. parasema. That's probably it. I'd love to try a flame Hawkfish but everything I've read suggests they'll eat my damsels so unless you think that really isn't a problem, I'll guess I'll pass. <Mmm, won't eat the damsels... but will eat shrimps... perhaps small true or false (Hermit) crabs...> Thanks! Marc PS on the cracked tank, I'm going with three instead of two cuts for more front to back bracing and some changes on my lighting so I don't think I'll have this problem again (fingers crossed ;-) <Agreed... a huge job moving, replacing. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Fish Stocking   300 Reef Hi Bob, I've read through the FAQs on fish stocking, and I've read up on fish stocking levels in about a dozen books. I never seem to get a straight answer.  <There may not be one... there may be several...> Your recent answer to Jason that he add "no more" than the 11 fish he discussed for his 135 reef tank prompted me to pose this question: There seems to be some disagreement on the suitable number of fish for a tank. I've seen numbers ranging anywhere from 1" of fish for every 2 gallons of water in a FO tank, to 1" of fish for every 10 gallons of water for a reef tank. I also read that you are not supposed to count the tail when doing the computation -- if I could get him to stand still while I measure his tail! <LOL> Of course, there is also the adage that size counts considerably in the equation, i.e. one 10" fish consumes more of the available bio-load than 10 1" fish. <Yes> All of these considerations make sense, but, in the long run, it seems incredibly difficult to calculate the available bio-load for a given tank.  <That's why these are called "rules of thumb", guesstimation...> I've thought about the route of coming up with a "hopeful" stocking list, and gradually introducing the fish on the list over a course of time. That doesn't take into consideration still more factors, however! The "try another fish" approach to see if the chemical parameters don't come to equilibrium fails to address the fact that the chemical bio-load may not be the same as the "stress load" of all of the inhabitants. Also, the rule is to add the most aggressive fish last, right? So, if he/she is the largest (and most desirable) fish, this method could very well knock him/her out of the tank. What is one to do? <Possibly try to take all into consideration in ones mind...or try to record, work a multi-variate, multi-variable equation taking most all into account.> Let me ask your sage opinion on a simple number to shoot for. I have a 300 gallon reef tank with live rock / sand and a plenum. I also have other filtration devices -- which supposedly allows you to bump the stocking level, right?  <Yes> I also have a large sump and I am adding a refugium -- which puts about 350 actual gallons of water into flow. I also don't have a problem with doing monthly water changes. I'm guessing/planning 30 fish total. Now for size: 8 medium (yellow tang-size) assorted tang-types, 11 sundry damsel/Chromis-size aqua poodles, 3 dwarf angels, 7 different blennies and gobies, and a fairy wrasse in the proverbial coral tree. Too many fish? Not enough ;-) By how many? <Sounds like a nice mix. Should be fine. Bob Fenner>  

Small Marine Aquariums
Book 1: Invertebrates, Algae
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Small Marine Aquariums
ook 2: Fishes
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Small Marine Aquariums Book 3: Systems
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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