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The Hawaiian endemic cleaner wrasse. NOT for small systems

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

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

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

I think I have a good plan now correct me where wrong... small reef set-up.    02/11/2008 Hello again crew, <<G'morning, Andrew today>> after having read a good deal, can't say everything but everything I could get my hand on I think I have come up with a decent plan for a mini-reef. 30 gallon tank (36 inch long variety), 35 lbs of Tonga and Fiji LR 1" sand bed in display, RDSB of 8" of sugar fin aragonite, 2 # Koralia pumps, rated flow totals about 1200gph, a remora skimmer, and a 175 watt MH HQI lamp. live stock plan, Xenia and Sarcophyton, plan to get one of each at start and prune and frag as necessary preferably having an arrangement of Xeniid Sarco Xeniid Sarco Xeniid in final stage, rocks arranged to form a large archway and two other arch like swim throughs. <<Sounds superb>> Possibly also having at the corners of tank so to speak "frag stations" can not remember exact name but the platforms to place frag plugs into, some sort of ceramic in nature, not eggcrate, have seen on marine depot among other places, snails only, no crabs not even hermits, don't entirely trust em. For fish I will be having: 1 flame fish (worm fish) <<Flame angel? Cardinal Flamefish?>> 1 or a pair of neon gobies possibly a pair of Banggais or a small group of PJ cardinals, preference given to Banggais though if would be more likely to have peace will go PJs. I don't think this is over stocked but again correct me if I am wrong. <<Fish stocking list size sounds ok to me, more clarity needed on the flame fish>> Would also like to have in the open space away form the rock work a small T. Derasa (knowing full well he will need to be moved to a larger tank, which will happen upon moving to a house as opposed to the space limitations imposed by apartment life.) though if you think I am likely to have better success with a different clam again please tell me so. <<Personally, I would leave the clam out and buy this when you "do" get the larger aquarium. Sometimes we plan on going bigger in the future, however, sometimes this does not always come in to fruition>> the tank will remain all but uninhabited until I get better Coralline growth unless you think I can add one of the gobies (be it neon or so called goby firefish) <<There is no need to wait for coralline to start growing before adding fish/corals. You can happily start adding once the cycle has completed and the tank stablised>> I am not aware of any allelopathy issues, granted the Sarcophyton - xenia arrangement I understand to be a good mix, form Mr. Calfo's book and what I have found on the site, clam with softies seems to be okay from what I have read so long as not touching (referring to "Clams and Alcyoniids 1/16/07" and response by Mr. Fenner) <<the choice of corals is fine in my opinion>> Thank you so much again for your time and expertise, also as previously stated, if you have better recommendations with regard to livestock choice please feel free to suggest. Forrest <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Re: I think I have a good plan now correct me where wrong 02/11/2008 ok will do so on the clam, also firefish, Nemateleotris magnifica. <<Ahhh yes...beautiful fish, keep a nice tight lid on the tank as they really do enjoy jumping to get in some carpet surfing>> Thanks so much. should have used scientific name from get go I know. Thanks a bunch again, keeping an eye on the levels gonna get the neon and get him into qt shortly, figure month of qt for him and set up time for the tank should get close, even if takes a little longer a neon goby in a 10 should still be reasonably happy :) <<yes, that sounds fine to me. Good luck with everything. A Nixon>>

Water flow, temperature and placement inquiries... sm SW set-up  02/06/2008 hi WetWebMedia crew, <<Hello, Andrew here>> I just started a 20g saltwater aquarium and is now in the 3rd day of cycling my tank. There are roughly 24 lbs of live rock with 4-5 inches of sand. I added a 1.5" domino damsel on its first day because they said adding one or two hardy fishes can speed up the process. I noticed the fish just stayed at the bottom of the tank looking weak and is even being carried away by the current. The fish died overnight. <<This is probably due to either stress or ammonia poisoning. Its pretty inhumane to cycle a tank using fish, even the hardy variety. A more common method employed now is to add the carcass of a raw/uncooked shrimp or prawn, wrapped in fine nylon and added to the tank. This will decompose and produce the much needed ammonia to start the cycle. When ammonia reaches about 4 - 5ppm, remove the carcass and dispose of, then let the cycle continue its own course>> Is my 800 liters per hour power head (roughly 200 gallons per hour) too much for the small fish? <<No, the amount of flow in your tank is fine at that level>> I just took a reading of my temperature on the second day and noticed it was as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit. <<Arrrhhhhhhhhh>> I tried half submerging my power head but it hardly registered a change. I just removed the glass top and managed to reduce the temperature down to 86 degrees. I haven't installed any lighting system yet and I don't think I can afford a cooler now. I'm still observing the tank overnight, but is there any advice you can give me regarding my problem? I live in the Philippines and I'm more worried especially now that summer is approaching. I'll try the fan-cooled approach but I'm thinking it would only work on the air on top of my tank that would primarily be heated by lighting. Room air conditioning is not also one of my options. <<Getting a clip on fan and having this blow across the water surface will help a lot to reduce the temp. Another solution is to float a bag of ice in the tank, or a sealed bottle of frozen water>> If my case of temperature problem wont be easily solved, can you suggest a few [hardy] fishes and corals that could be kept in relatively warm water? <<Realistically, you do need to keep the temp down by employing the methods above, or by adding a chiller>> Also, would the aquarium being placed between two giant speakers do any harm to my aquarium? <<It should not no, but some stress may be exerted on the inhabitants if the music level is too high, certainly not something I would recommend, loud noise>> Thanks and best regards to your team, Ariel <<Thanks for the questions Ariel, hope it helps. A Nixon>>

Equipment recommendations, sm. reef  02/03/2008 Hello. <<Hello, Andrew today>> I am new to game of salt water and I am interested in setting up a 20 gallon coral tank I understand you disagree with this but it is all I am able to set up. I have been doing as much reading and research as possible and getting more confused. I will be joining my local coral reef club but that will not be until March. What I have is a standard 20 gallon tank 100 watt. heater. my canister filter with a bio wheel. I want the tank to have live sand live rock some low to med. light corals and eventually a couple of fish. <<Sounds like a good plan>> As for hardware if you could recommend what else I need to purchase amount of lighting powerheads size of skimmer etc. <<Powerheads, you could go for 2 Hydor Koralia Nano, which will give you about 26 x water circulation which is enough for the proposed inhabitants.>> <<Lighting, around 100 - 150w of T5, power compacts>> <<A Reverse Osmosis unit, about 50 or 75 gph is fine, 5 or 6 stage ( Reverse Osmosis + DI would be better )>> Like I said I have been getting mixed recommendations of using a filter or not having too just live rock and sand . So I need some definite direction on my set up and purchases. Thanks Mike <<A hardware list can be endless really with a reef system. Of course, suggest a specific area of equipment, and we shall do our best to advise>> <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Starting an AquaPod reef... 1/29/08 Hi Bob, <Alex> I've been a visitor of your site for as long as I can remember'¦one of the best sites on the web and what a fantastic source for information. <Am glad you find it useful> I previously had a 100 gallon marine/reef setup for about 6 years and gained a ton of knowledge through many ups and downs during that period. I've since been without a tank (moved out of parents place) as I now live in a small condo that does not have space for a 100 gallon setup. I purchased a 12 gallon Aquapod yesterday and have done the obvious'¦2 inches of aragonite, 15 pounds of some of the best liverock I've seen and I plan on leaving it to cycle for at least 3-4 weeks. <Ok> My question (sorry for babbling) is this, I'm a little paranoid that with the AquaPod I might not be getting all the filtration I should get for an ideal reef tank, there's no protein skimmer (other than the surface skimmer it comes with) and I don't know how I would install one if it needs it. <Best to add a small sump, remote there> I plan on putting 1-2 mangrove plants in the tank to make up for that <Mmm, not advised. Too likely to add pollution...> as much as they can but like I said; my intentions down the road are to have it as a reef tank. With the AquaPod equipment installed what can/should I do to ensure as successful a reef tank as possible? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/small.htm and the linked files above> Besides the obvious water changes, media replacement. The fish will be kept to a minimum of 1-3 tiny species along with about 20 hermit/zebra crabs, gold headed goby (or jaw fish'¦same thing I think). <Mmm, not enough space> I'm wondering if there is a perfect combo of fish/crabs/goby/snail/shrimp that I can get to keep this tank as self-maintaining as possible and as healthy as possible. I am not trying to avoid maintenance on my end but because it is such a small enclosure I would like to keep my hands out of the water as much as possible and try to keep the tank disturbance to an extreme minimum. Money isn't a huge issue; if I need to spend it on a few things to capitalize on my experience I'm more than happy to do so. I understand that overall these questions could be answered through your FAQ section but I could not find anything that hit on my exact situation; I thank you so much for helping me out with this! Take care, Alex <Keep reading, cogitating furiously Alex... All will come together. BobF>

New Marine Tank 1/26/08 We just started a saltwater tank 2 weeks ago. <Congratulations.> We have 2 inches of live sand and 5 pounds of live rock in a 29 gallon tank. <I would increase the depth of the sand an inch or two, or decrease an inch or so. See the link below regarding DSBs.> We put 2 small tank raised clownfish plus 5 pounds of live rock in the very next day after getting the aquarium set with salt plus live sand. <Too quick to add to the tank. What species of clown?> We put salt in and have a hydrometer. We tested the water last night and the salinity, nitrate, ammonia, pH levels are good/stable. <OK, will take your word all is good.> We also did a 10% water change last night. When would you recommend that we can put more fish in the aquarium and what would you recommend we add as a new tank mate? <Hmm'¦do you have any other filtration besides the live rock? Five pounds isn't much. What you can add will also depend on the type of clownfish you have added to the tank already. Some species will outgrow the tank you currently have setup.> Thanks, Tom <Do read through the FAQ/articles regarding the livestock you have and wish to purchase, paying close attention to stocking levels and compatibility. You should also wait for your rock to 'cure' and any other biofilter you may have to cycle. I included several links below to get you started. Best of luck, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm

Next reef decisions, sm. reef set-up...  -- 1/18/08 Hello Crew hope you are all well, I had previously sent an email subject line "polyps?" which I have managed to take care of. The things were hydroids, which I have managed to get rid of, basically did 20% water changes while scraping em off and sucking em out of the tank they seem to have gone away, at least for now, have in the interim while waiting for my skimmer been using carbon like crazy, the nitrates went sky high apparently, while I was gone for Christmas. any way that problem solved I have questions about a new set up I am contemplating. Considering doing another small reef, maybe 29 maybe a 40 have yet to decide but assuming I go for the 29 the plan is as follows. a standard 29 gallon with a 10 gallon acting as a sump, I am considering doing a remote DSB or possibly plenum setup in the 10, or just a refugium have yet to decide would appreciate any input on that decision. also a shallow sand bed say about 1-2" in the tank itself. <See WWM re DSB depths: http://wetwebmedia.com/dsbdepth.htm> want to do a relatively simple reef setup having live rock making a C-shaped wall with a lagoon if you will in the center of the tank, over which I will hang a metal halide (possible HQI) pendant and some actinic blues across the back. a remora skimmer from Aqua C, not sure if hanging on tank is best or on sump. thoughts? <All sorts. They're posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/skimrs4smsysfaqs.htm> I would like to have some sort of center piece in the lagoon, possible a Tridacna possibly a Fungia or other LPS (I know the clam would eventually outgrow this set up, how long would I have assuming I got a relatively small one, say 1.5"- 2 "? <... please, learn to/use the indices, search tool...> continuing, possibly polyps or some other softie on the inside of the C and considering Mushrooms on the outside of the C the outer wall is you will. any suggestions about light height about tank or above substrate would be great. I also would like to keep some small fish in the tank preferably gobies or cardinals or both. as to which, I like all the cardinals so input on which would work bet would be great, I like the clown gobies, and also the neon gobies. My goal with regard to live stock is only aquacultured so I am leaning to the neon goby unless you know of anywhere I can get a cultured clown goby. <No such thing presently> sand sifting gobies I also like. If there is a "best" way ( least likely to fail) to set up a tank like this I would love to hear it. Thanks again for you help with my various tanks. Also, I am intending to go to MACNA again this year, went to the one in Pitt last year, Bob, if I buy you a beer will you autograph my books? (Conscientious and Reef inv with Calfo) :) <Oh yes! Cheers, BobF>

Thinking of upgrading 01/11/2008 Dear fonts of knowledge, <<Hello, Andrew here>> I have been running my marine tank for about 3 years now. All in all, it is quite healthy. I must say this is in part due to your website, so thank you. <<Thank you>> I have a 30 gallon tank with 1 big power head, 1 Fluval 4 filter, a red sea Prizm protein skimmer on the back, 192 W of 50/50 CF lighting. In the tank is a lot of live rock (to be honest, I bought it so long ago, I forget how much. I think I followed the 1-1.5 lb / gallon rule), a bunch of xenias, a leather coral, some star polyps and some candy cane coral, 2 clownfish, 1 yellow tang<<Will need a bigger home>> and a skunk cleaner shrimp. There are also lots of red and blue hermits and lots of tiny snails (no idea what kind, or really where they came from) and 3 bigger Astrea snails. Everything is running along just tickety boo - nobody seems sick, chemical levels are mostly good. My problem is that I have red slime algae. <<Read up here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm>> Not a lot of it, and it's not that hard to control, but it does mean that I have to clean the tank with maybe higher frequency than I'd like. I usually do a 4 gallon water change about once a week. I also vacuum the substrate when I do this. <<If this is happening, then there is an apparent issue that needs resolving, rather than controlling>> I get the impression that this is perhaps more frequent than would be necessary in a completely healthy tank. I would like to upgrade things, but I am not really sure how to proceed. I would really like to keep the tank the way it is, for now as I am somewhat constrained in space and not rich, but I am definitely willing to spend some bucks on some kind of upgrade, as long as it will improve the health of the system. What would be ideal, in my opinion, would be a 20 gallon sump underneath the main tank. Unfortunately, the tank is not drilled for overflow. I can see you don't really approve of the siphon driven overflow boxes, but I'm not really sure what my other options are. I'm sorry this is a little bit rambly but I'd like to make sure I get all the information across so I can get enough information to make a good decision. <<As a suggestion, I would spend the money on upsizing the display tank, as some of the current stock is not suited to your tank size>> My options, as I see them: 1. Replace the gravel I have with a deep sand bed. I worry that this conversion process could be detrimental to the health of the tank while the changeover is going on. <<Done in small amounts, it will be fine, just keep an eye parameters>> 2. build a hang-on refugium with a built in protein skimmer and a deep sand bed. The trick with this is that I'm not sure how much benefit the few extra gallons and small sand bed would provide. on the plus side, it would be gravity feed back into the tank, so there would be no chance of overflowing the tank or the fuge onto the floor. <<If I was doing that, I would just do it as a fuge, not with the skimmer>> 3. use a siphon box and put a sump under my tank with a DSB and protein skimmer and so forth. <<Sounds feasible, a far better option>> 4. set up a refugium next to my current tank. this is obviously undesirable from a space perspective, but I could drill the new tank to avoid the flooding problem. 5. I guess I could put everything into a temporary tank of some sort and get my tank drilled. I have no idea what kind of stress this'd put on everyone, or how much getting my tank drilled would cost. I suppose I could do it myself, even, although I would be a little scared of that. <<The best option out of the above, besides spending the money on upgrading the display tank size, is to add a sump with a refugium and skimmer. Drilling tanks are not hard and well documented with instructions on many forum sites. Drilling many tanks personally, and all have been easy as long as the process of drilling is done slowly and not forced>> Anyway, I would like any feedback you have on this, including if there are better options that I haven't even thought of. I think what I am going for best nutrient export bang for my buck, where buck equals money and time and effort and low chance of disaster.<<Sump tank/refugium>> I've scoured your site, and the rest of the internet, and I think I've hit information overload and am having trouble making a decision. Thanks, Colin <<Thank you for the questions, hope the above helps. A Nixon>>

DSB in Nano 01/10/2008 Hello Crew, <<Hello, Andrew here>> I've been in the marine hobby for about 4 years now and still hooked <<Aren't we all>>. I have a question and a comment. Right now I have a 2.5 gallon tank on my desk which has been running for about a month with just live rock. I am upgrading to an 8 gallon bio cube with the intent of putting a single mushroom polyp and 2 or 3 Zoanthid polyp and watching them grow<<Sounds great>>. To most people that might seem like a waste of space and a tank but I've always been fascinated with watching things grow and multiply. I test twice a week keeping a record of all my result and I do a weekly 10% water change, with several micro water changes during the week to keep the salinity stable. The same will apply to the 8 gallon once its up and running. My question is this, I would like to know if I should go with a bare bottom tank or have a deep sand bed (3" +). I know that having a bare bottom will make cleaning very easy, but I have never set up a tank with a DBS and I would like to try it so that I may further my knowledge and experience with the hobby. If I do opt for a DBS, what are the long term effects in a Nano tank? <<You could do a DSB of 3 inches, yes, however, I feel in a small aquarium as this, a lot of space will be wasted. Benefits of a DSB is that you will have an anaerobic area for denitrifying bacteria and provide nitrate removal. More info can be found here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >> And now for my comment. I work at a local fish shop and I do my best to get people started on the right foot by telling them before buying anything research it. I usually hand a business card with your website written on the back of it. I am still surprised and a little frustrated with the attitude towards aquariums. It seems like people insist on stocking the tank as fast as they can. Too many times I've seen customers walk in with tanks stocked past the limit within the first 6 months of the set up. Then they come back after a year and complain they have terrible algae problems or that all their fish are getting sick. I can't stress enough the benefits of being patient. One more thing, I'm really sick of people treating the fish as if it were an ornament to put in a glass box. These are living creature with (to some extent) feelings and personality. I don't understand why people insist on give the fish less than adequate conditions. My biggest pet peeve is tangs in anything smaller than 100 gallons. All those poor hippo tangs that have died because of an ignorant hobbyist putting it in a tank that is way too small. I hate that excuse "but its small and I will switch it to another tank when it gets bigger" statement. That fish will probably develop growth problems before you decide to invest in a bigger tank. Would you keep your child in a 3'x3'x3' room, over feed it and clean it once a month? will it be healthy? Think about it people!!! treat it as if it was your own child and it will reward you. I promise. <<I understand your concern, the vast majority feel the same. Let us hope this type of fishkeep always stays, at most, in the minority of the hobby>> Thank you for your time. Pat <<Thank you for the questions and comments, A Nixon>>

My New Saltwater Tank...  Set-up, sm. 12/28/07 Hi WWM crew <Hello.> I got a 29 gallon oceanic BioCube for Christmas. The first day I already had live sand but my parents stored it kind of badly in the garage so the bacteria probably got too cold and died off. <It will come back.> But the first day I had the salt water in there at 1.022-1.023 and the sand. <I would raise to 1.025-1.026.> The next day I went to the pet store and the guy who worked there is a marine biologist and an expert at salt water tanks said if I get some live rocks I will only need to let it sit for 2 days then I can get fish. I'm not sure why he said this but I'm curious is this false or true? <Wait.> Because I've read that you need at least 4 weeks of cycling. <Yes, fair estimate.> Also when I put in my live rocks I realized I got some free creatures. A snail climbed off and a worm like thing kept coming out of a hole and climbing around. Also I noticed a lot of little clear insect looking things on the rock, is this normal? <Yes, all beneficial to your tank. It sounds like you have been researching cycling and are on the right track. Do be sure to get the basic saltwater test kits Alk, calcium, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. You will need the last three to help you determine where you rock is in the curing (cycling) process. For more information on what to look for curing your rock read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm Have fun, Scott V.>

TINY saltwater tank? 12/28/07 Hello there. <Hello Tori.> I had a small five-gallon freshwater tank running for about a year that I was quite fond of. I had a nice, mid-sized spiny eel who got to be very well adjusted and happy, and three neon tetras. Unfortunately I left for a week and left it in the care of my parents and halfway through the week the filter cut out. This has happened before because I have sand in the bottom and the eel kicks it up sometimes, but they couldn't get it working again and all of the tetras died in only a day or two and the eel before I got home. :( <Too bad> I really want to get it up and running again. I don't think I'll attempt another spiny eel in this size aquarium. <No> I was a little unprepared when I got him and didn't realize such a small aquarium would be so tricky with him. My dad is suggesting that I make a small saltwater aquarium with just a couple of live rocks, an anemone and a clownfish or two. Is this doable? <Not really, the tank is much too small for an appropriate anemone.> I'd really love to have a saltwater tank, but would it be smart to attempt one this small? I imagine it would be quite unstable. <There are those that keep marine tanks this small, but it is not for the beginner. You nailed it on the head, just too instable. If not, what would you suggest? <Perhaps investing in a larger system, at least forty gallons or so if you want to go saltwater. As far as your five gallon goes, a few Neons could do fine. Perhaps a Betta, it will be a totally different fish in a five gallon than it is in those little unsuitable bowls!> Thanks so much! I love you guys! Tori <You're welcome, thank you for the kind words, Scott V.>

Three Concerns... Nano/Sm. SW... maint., set-up, circ.  12/20/07 Hello Crew, <Parker> Thanks for being such a reliable source. So I have a few concerns about the direction my hobby is going. After reading many hours of internet, I haven't really been able to pinpoint my problem. First, I have been trying a new route and I started a 12 gallon eclipse 12. I have to contest that keeping a small tank hasn't been very difficult or time consuming. <Can be done> To be able to be helped correctly, I had the standard bio-wheel and a small powerhead. Around 15lbs of LR, a small bioload, and about 3? of substrate. Also all good readings on my chemicals. Tank was in good shape. <Need real... hard data... actual species, test results... or in turn this becomes more of a guessing game> In the past, I had a 29g tank but I have never tried to add a fuge to the tank. I just put a 2.5g aquaquatics aquafuge2 hang on the back on my 12g. To be able to sufficiently place the fuge, I had to remove my bio-wheel filter from the system. In addition to adding the fuge, I added a HYDOR Koralia that pushes around 400gph thus removing the old power head. <... I do hope/trust the Koralia is not "turned up" all the way here> I do not have any LS. I was wondering if by removing the filter from the system can I have any additional problems keeping water quality excellent? <Can you? Sure> I really don't want to add a skimmer. I am hoping that the water flow will be enough with the LR and fuge to keep water in good condition. My concern about this is that my fuge has only been running for a couple days. <Takes time...> Secondly, by adding the Hydor and having the additional gph from the fuge pump, will I have too much water circulation in the display tank? <Could...> That would be roughly 400gph from the powerhead and 360gph going to the fuge. If not, should I place the overflow from the fuge and the powerhead on opposite ends of the tank? <I would not have this much actual water movement in a twelve gallon volume system> In essence, should I create a circular flow of water or should I place them against each other creating a more irregular flow? <Whatever prevents all from turning into a swirling vortex...> Finally, I recently added a watchman goby and I had only crushed coral as a substrate. To be able to help keep the goby happy and healthy, I added a small layer of sugar fine sand on top of the crushed coral. After a couple weeks, most of the sugar fine sand is still on top but another quarter has seeped into the coral. I have good growth within the substrate and can see small worms and other small creatures moving through the substrate. I was wondering if by adding the two different types of grades together, will I eventually cause major imbalances in the water quality? <Not likely. I would leave as is> Thanks guys for you time. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Three Concerns... Sm. mar... set-up? 12/27/07
Bob, <Parker> To tell you more hard data, I have two clowns, tank raised I think, a watchman goby, two feather dusters, a handful of assorted snails, and a hermit crab. I have 0 nitrite, 0 nitrates, kept at 78 degrees, 1.025 SG, I perform regular water changes on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. I douse with Kent TechA and B occasionally and douse occasionally with Kent Trace Elements. Occasionally being during the water changes. I have a compact fluorescent 13w. I have about 3" of substrate consisting of crushed coral and sugar fine sand. I have about 15lbs of live rock arranged with some artificial rock. I removed the Hydor and replaced it with a smaller power head to reduce turnover rate. Not sure the actual size but more suitable for a small tank. I have good growth in the fuge but a lot is brown algae but only in the overflow and intake areas. Not sure where that is going or if it will turn into another type of algae. Should I remove or scrape this alga or let it sit to help establish the fuge. <I would leave it be> So back to my original concern, will the tank suffer from not having a power filter and no skimmer? <Mmm, possibly... if something were to go awry... might go that much faster w/o... Like a dead animal, overfeeding...> I feel that with a good established tank and a fuge that the water will still stay good. Am I trying to make something work that wont? <All sorts of redundancies can pay off... but you're likely fine as is> Thanks again for the help. Parker Aldredge <BobF>

Nano Reef help! 12/19/07 Hello Crew! <Hello> First I just want to say what a great and helpful site you guys run. It's been a big help to me in the past. <Good to hear.> However, I need to ask a few questions pertaining to Nano Reefs. <Fire away.> I am planning on purchasing a Nano Cube 24 gallon aquarium. I have heard that these cubes are sufficient as far as filtration. <Maybe, but I usually avoid built-in skimmers like the plague. Small tanks like this are a lot of work.> However, would any additional lighting be required to keep coral? <Depends on the coral, probably ok for low and mid-level light needing corals, but the small tank size is a big limiting factor.> I would also like to add a pair of black Percula clowns and a bubble tip anemone as a host. Will this setup have enough light to support the anemone, and will the anemone harm any coral? <The tank is too small for the anemone, and they should not be kept in a system with corals, especially one this sized. The clowns will be more than fine without it.> Also: about how many fish would I be able to add? <If it were my tank I would stick with just the pair of clowns.> Would the 2 clowns, a blenny or goby, and a flame angel be too much of an overload for the 24 gallon setup? <Maybe ok with the right blenny or goby, but the angel needs a tank at least twice as large as what you have. Three small fish is your max in my opinion.> And finally, is there any additional equipment, livestock, or anything else at all that you would recommend for starting a Nano Aquarium? <For a new hobbyist I would seriously think about getting a larger tank, nanos tank a lot of work and experience to run well. Might want to look into some of the Nano-skimmers now available, I believe both Aqua-C and CPR make Nano models.> Just so you guys know, this isn't my first venture into saltwater aquaria. <Good> I have an established 40 gallon FOWLR tank that has been running for 6 months now, so I have a bit of experience in the field. <A Nano may require all your experience and more, be prepared.> Thanks in advance! <Welcome> <Chris>

Lagoon... small mar. set-up - 12/16/2007 Hi Crew, I'm in the planning stage of building a 15 gal. lagoon tank with a 10 gal. refugium. I'd like the 15 to have a sloping (probably fairly drastically) sand bed to a deeper end as if falling off the atoll (or whatever), if you can imagine with me. The deep end will have a 2 live sand substrate. It should have at least 5 to 6 of water at low tide. The shallow end will have a short beach, then slope through the mid-section of the tank. The slope will have mud on top of aragonite. <I highly doubt you will be able to do this in a 15g tank.> I will attempt to facilitate a scheme to resemble tides by using a pair of peristaltic pumps to move water very slowly over a 6 hour periods each way between the display and the refugium. I need to work out the volumes and flow rates. Lighting will include a 150W incandescent pendant over the mangroves, a 36W PC over the remainder (about ½) of the 15 and another 36W PC over the 10gal. refugium. At least that's the way I see it right now. <Mangroves, in a 15g? Seriously?!> In my dream the display will ultimately house about half a dozen small fiddler crabs, a couple of mangroves, and deeper, live rock, small hermit crabs and a couple of peppermint shrimp. The beach area should be exposed during low tides and then inundated at high tides. <It's a nice idea, but you need a bigger tank for this.> The refugium will house 2 live sand, live rock, and macro algae (yet to be determined). I'd like this to be a filter less system. Do you think that's possible, using the macroalgae for nutrient export not the mangroves, although they may help to a small degree and the live sand/rock for a bio filter? I like to make smaller (10%) water changes twice a week rather than, say, 25% once a week. It seems to have been effective with my other tanks. Should I build up the end that will be shallow and exposed tidally with aragonite or should I build a form out of concrete?? and then top the form with live sand and/or mud? <I would consider the later. But again, you need a much bigger/longer tank.> I'm concerned about the system going anaerobic with a sand bed that may reach 7 or 8 deep in some places. <"Going anaerobic?" Why is this a bad thing? And just FYI, sand bed can have anaerobic zones even more shallow than 7in.> BTW, you guys and gals are fantastic!! You are beyond being an asset to this hobby. IMHO, you're a necessity. <Well, thank you!> Thank you all so very much for you efforts, Mike <De nada, Sara M.>

Pistol shrimp/goby Nano tank set up   12/11/07 Hello Crew, I'm still reading and researching, but am in the process of setting up an 8 gallon Nano for the purpose of keeping one of the shrimp/goby combos available from my LFS. The tank will have a refugium made from an AC 70 (with LR rubble and Chaeto), and about 8-10 lbs of live rock. Lighting will be CF (2x18w) with about an inch of sand and LR rubble in the display. <I'd increase this by at least double... to allow tunneling> I expect the AC 70 to flow around 150-200 gph as modified. The footprint of the tank is 9"x 15," and I plan on keeping a simple mix of either mushrooms, zoos (not sure of spelling), or just utilizing green star polyps with a few accents. Am I on the right track? Thanks, Stan <Pretty close. BobF>

Nano LR Quantity 12/6/07 Hi to anybody who might do me the favor of answering this lines... <Hello David.> I've read through your web site and some others, and everywhere I find I should stick as a guideline with 1-2 pounds of LR per gallon of water volume. <General guideline.> I'm setting up a custom 17 gal with a 10 gal sump. I got 4 big pieces of LR at my LFS weighting 9 pounds total... I didn't get more pieces because it just seemed too much for my little display, and indeed, when I got home and did the aquascaping it seemed to me it there was just the right open space left for the fish to swim and aesthetically. Of course I could stack some more rocks but I think it would look too rock-crowded in there. Not even being one pound of rock per gallon, my concern is if this amount will be able to keep up with the biological filtration. <Should be if you stock this sized tank appropriately.> I'm using a Remora Pro with a Mag3 on this system. <Nice skimmer.> Thanks on regard... David (from Mexico... woo hoo!) <This is a fair amount, especially if you plan to add corals to this tank. They usually come on some amount of rock and quickly add to your total LR volume, especially in a tank this size. Good luck, Scott V.>  

Finnex FI-MTG-2402  11/12/07 Bob, <Greg> Been awhile since I have been on the website and even longer since I have last maintained a tank but want to get back in. I am looking at the Finnex (FI-MTG-2402) 30 gallon aquarium and wanted to know if you are familiar with the product. <Am not... have seen on the Net: http://www.fishtankshop.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=10120> I found a review that was talking about the plastic mount for the lights but have not found the same review since. According to the review, the mounts don't do the job. For $350, it has everything that one could want to get back in the hobby but if the mounts don't do the job it is a lot of money to spend. <The mounts are easy to modify, amend... Looks like an okay unit... though, with a bit of study, effort otherwise, you could put together a bit larger, more functional set-up. Bob Fenner> Any advice would be great. Thanks Greg
Re: Finnex FI-MTG-2402  11/13/07
Bob, <Greg> Thanks for the advice. What are you referring to in terms of a better unit? Piece everything together individually? <Bingo> I am coming from a 90 gallon setup and really wanted to look at a Nano set up. Is 30 too large for a Nano set up? <Nope. RMF> Greg

Nano logistics question... adding a sump  -- 08/17/07 Greetings Crew, I hope all is well with you today. First, a great big thanks for what must be a tremendous amount of work y'all put into this site daily. It's appreciated more than can be expressed. <Welcome> Here's my question. I have a JBJ 12 gallon nano set up in my office. It's been up and running for about 6 months now, and is doing pretty well. It's got about 1/2 inch of sand, about 10# of live rock, one true percula clown, two turbo snails, one peppermint shrimp, one blue legged hermit and an unknown number of Stomatella snails (they hitchhiked in on some rock I was keeping in the sump of my 120 at home). Corals consist of a few varieties of zoanthids, a couple of Ricordea and a branching frogspawn with about 6 heads. Circulation is provided by the stock pump (a Maxi Jet 600 I think). The only problem thus far has been some film algae on the glass. Everything appears to be thriving. I've been changing 5 gallons of water a week, and all my tests have been looking good. Zero ammonia and nitrite, nitrates <5, calcium is usually around 400, alkalinity "normal" (I need a better test kit for this), and phosphates hover between .5 and .25. While things are going well, I can't help but think things could always be a little better. Here's what I've been contemplating and need your guidance with. The rear section of the JBJ tank (where the "filtration chambers" are) is plastic. I would like to drill it and install 2 1/2" bulkheads <Make this a one inch for drain and whatever the pump diameter is for return> (in the back, not the bottom). Below my desk, I'd like to set up a 10 gallon tank to use as a sump/refugium. I'd like to go even larger, but this is all space will allow until I get promoted :-). I'd like it to house about 6" of sand, some macro algae, and maybe a hang on skimmer (a Remora maybe?). Here's where the logistics come in. The rear compartment is made up of three chambers. Should the bulkheads be in the same compartment? If so which one? <The "intake one" in the first filter chamber, the return in the last> I'm not planning on using the return for circulation, so I don't need to plumb it through to the display portion of the tank. If I drill the holes maybe a couple of inches below the water level, will it work to just hook vinyl tubing to the bulkheads and have the drain work properly? <Yes, should... if the flow-rate is not too great> Is this even possible? Would there be any real benefit? <Yes, yes> Would the tank evaporation show up as a lower level in the sump, or still in the 3rd chamber of the rear of the tank where it does now? <In the former> Any guidance, input or advice would be greatly appreciated. Eagerly awaiting your reply, Pearson <An interesting project for sure! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Nano logistics question - 8/17/07 Thank you, Mr. Fenner, for your prompt reply and input. I'm a bit confused as to how this would work as you have described. I have attached a drawing (please excuse it's crude nature) of the current setup with the proposed locations of the bulkheads as I understand them. <I see this graphic> Since they are located in separate compartments, will there still be enough water going from the weir to the circulation pump? <Mmm, yes... if there is sufficient water in the system total... and once again, IF the pump/return isn't too great... that is you'll want to match/engineer the pump flow rate or control with a valve to not pump too much more than the drain, plumbing on the drain side of the system can accommodate... and make sure the sump is "topped off" to not too low, not too high... Does this make sense? It is possible in the configuration presented to overpower the drain line... drain the sump too low... and likewise, there is a danger of flooding should it the system/sump be too full and the power/pump fail> Is there the possibility of overflowing the sump, due to the fact there is no way to match the gravity drain into the sump with the return pump rate? <Mmm, there are ways... again... start all off full with the circulating pump turned off... turn it on and mark the lowest point the water is drawn down... with a glass marker... DO NOT fill the sump past this point with the pump turned on> Please forgive me if these questions sound ridiculous. I'm usually very good at visualizing things like this and reasoning them out, but I'm having some trouble with this one. Thank you again for any further clarity you can provide/allaying my apprehension. I'll be happy to let you and the crew know how it works once I get it underway. Thanks again, Pearson <Glad to co-conspire with you... Again, please read on WWM re drain/bulkhead size and placement. BobF>

Best Nano Tank?  7/29/07 Red Sea Max http://www.premiumaquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=RED-ARE40110&Category_Code=Aquariums Cadlights http://www.cadlights.com/product_info.php?products_id=116 M-Tank http://www.premiumaquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=FI-MTG-2402Q2&Category_Code=Aquariums JBJ Nano Cube http://jbjlighting.com/prod_28g_nano.html Oceanic Bio Cube http://nanofishstore.com/product_detail.asp?ProductID=1911 Aquapod http://nanofishstore.com/product_detail.asp?PartNumber=CUR-AP-7055 Would like some kind of rating, opinions, recommendations on which nano-tank is the best, or if it's something not on this list. If money were no object and you simply wanted the best one out of the bunch, which would it be, I think alot <... no such word> of people would be interested in the answer thx Nick <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm Scroll down to Small Marine Systems... Bob Fenner>
Re: Best Nano Tank?   7/30/07
followed your suggestion, <...> didn't really see an answer to my question. Which >system is the best, if only technology wise out of these all-in-one aquariums? <None of the above. Better by far for you to read/study... make your own... with an over-sized refugium, skimmer, better lighting... Please... don't waste your time, money, resources in general. Study, then purchase. BobF>

Nano lagoon project...  6/30/07 Hi Mr. Fenner, <Dominique> Hope you're having a great summer. My 2 years old 90 gal reef is doing great (me too, am on vacation...) and I would like to start a minimalistic nano tank as an aside. <Ahh!> The concept would be a micro lagoon: 20 x 10 x 6 inches high = 5 gal, 5mm sugar fine sand bed, 2 live rocks. The tip of one LR would be emersed with a very small red mangrove on it. <Don't stay tiny...> The only pieces of equipment would be a micro powerhead (5-6x/hour turnover), a small 7,5W heater (a pad placed under the sand), and a normal living room spot lamp with an incandescent 50W full spectrum plant growing spot bulb. I would do weekly water changes (as I do with my 90 gal). Planned livestock: macro-algae (Ochtodes/blue ball + red Gracilaria), one red mangrove, a white pompom xenia frag, small mushroom corals, green star polyps, 1 pompom crab (L. tesselata), 1 blue stripe pipefish (Doryrhamphus excisus). <Mmmm, really needs much more room... won't feel comfortable in these confines... Have you seen this fish, this genus... in the wild... Moves back from divers approaching...> Does-it make any sense? Could you please give me some advices/inputs? <Start slow... the simpler life first... Develop and adhere to your maintenance routine religiously> I have been searching on the net and in my books but still one doesn't find as much about a lagoon concept and what would be its more typical fauna (Anthozoans and others) as for a reef and it's such a tiny set-up... A few questions: -Too small for a single 7cm pipefish? <Yes, IMO; behaviorally> -Is there any chance this lighting would be fine for the mangrove? <Yes> -Would a Fiddler crab or a Red Claw crab fit in there (adaptable to full salinity 1.025, danger for tankmates, escaping from open tank even if rocks are not touching tank walls...?) <Yes> -Or a Sally Lightfoot? <Mmm, no... too predaceous, large, skittish> -Is it healthy for the system to use under the sand heating in such a set-up? <Yes... very worthwhile> Sorry to send you such a long mail for a so tiny plan... Many thanks! Dominique <Enjoy your holiday... Life! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Nano Tank Critique - 6/25/07 Hello- <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Thank you for providing all the help and (seemingly) endless supply of knowledge in regard to saltwater aquariums. I read about 1-2 hours (or more) per night of your site, and feel l will never be able to read everything. This is truly an addictive, and enjoyable hobby. <I agree on both points!> My tank is as follows: -20gal high nano tank -Aquaclear 30 filter -standard florescent lighting -Fission Nano Skimmer -Maxi Jet 600 powerhead -1inch very fine (sugar) grade sand bed -about 7 lbs live rock with a ton of surface area (all small pieces) and also ornamental rock. I plan on adding about 1 lb live rock per week until I hit about 15 lbs -ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, all zero -ph is 8.3 -SG is 1.025 <Sounds good so far!> For fish - I have 2 small (1 inch) false Percula Clowns 1 Bicolor Blenny (2 inches) 1 Firefish (2 inches) -all are doing well and eating well. <Good to hear...> I also have a Scarlet Hermit Crab and 2 snails (about 1/2 in shells, +/-)The only live animals I plan on adding are some more inverts - more for the 'workload' than appearance (any suggestions??) and about 6 months or so down the line, a small, hardy anemone. <Oh...Well- I have to give my two cents on the anemone. Really, I'd avoid an anemone in any small system. My rational is twofold: First, water quality and environmental stability are so important to anemones, and the challenges of keeping such stability in a small volume of water are many. Second, you really need high intensity lighting (ie; metal halides) for overall anemone health, and such lighting can potentially overheat a small system.> Questions: Is there anything about the setup that is jumping out at you saying "what are you thinking?!" <The anemone is the only thing that really stands out as a potential problem.> -Is the bioload too much for this system? <No, but I would not add any more fishes.> -how do you feel about dry foods such as plankton/krill/etc. I normally feed frozen. <I'm a big fan of frozen foods myself. I rarely, if ever feed dry foods. Nothing bad about most dried foods-I just like the "control" I get from thawing, cleaning and feeding frozen foods.> -My skimmer has only been up and running for about 12 hours... How long should it take to start collecting the skimmate (I have been reading, but there's not a whole lot about Fission skimmers on the site)... That I could find. <Give it a day or so. If you're not getting skimmate, further adjustment may be necessary to get production.> Thank you very much for the help! Eric <My pleasure, Eric. Sounds like you're on the right track! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Old Tank-New Set-up, Sm. SW   6/20/07 I am semi new to salt water set-ups. I recently set up a 24g AquaPod, which is blooming now. I recently received a old salt tank from a friend (fish, "live-rock", and bio-wheel included). The previous owner was just able to make water changes. When I received the tank it was completely covered in hairy brown algae, including the live rock. The tank is somewhere between 15-20 gallons. I want to re-do the tank completely. I live in Korea, and quality equipment is hard to come by. <Can it be mail-ordered? Sent by etailers in other countries? I take it this IS S. Korea... a very "first nation"> The tank lighting is set-up for a basic FW tank. The tank is also about 18' long, 15"deep, and 15" wide. I was planning on upgrading the lighting to Coralife 150w 20,000k HQI Metal Halide Pendant. Is that over-kill? <Is not overkill, but you will need to pay attention to potential/real heat effects... temp. swings, increased evaporation/top offs...> I plan on having coral with the 4-fish set up. I added a Korean protein skimmer with a 300 gph pump. Produces some foam not much, only till I can get a better set-up. Should I get rid of the bio-wheel and go with a box canister? <Maybe in time...> The only thing I am worried with is the flow rate for the corals with a bio-wheel. I plan on changing the substrate out to sand( its a crush coral/rock mix). Removing the "live-rock". Am I on the right track? <One of them> What filtration would be suited for a tank of this size and limited space? Thanks for your help. You have an amazing site! John U.S. Army-Korea <Best to have you read re sumps, refugiums... Many nice alternatives here... Please start at the top: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Bob Fenner>
Re: Old Tank-New Set-up, Sm. SW   6/21/07
Thanks for your reply. I have one more question for you. After reading more on your site I picked and purchased a skimmer for my re-do tank. I got the AQUAC REMORA WITH MJ1200. I also purchased the AQUALIGHT ADVANCED TANK-MOUNT - 1X150W 20000K HQI. I got a MJ400 for the HYDOR BIOFLO SMALL AEROBIC FILTER for good flow inside the tank. My question for you is: With the current old set-up (bio-wheel and cheap protein skimmer knock-off Korean version, hardly any foam build up), would it be better to start with new LR and sand after I get the new items or can I start cycling the LR with the current set-up, and then switch the equipment. <This latter> Also is the skimmer going to be enough filtration for the tank (10-15g), along with the LR and filter on the BIOFLO. Thanks again! You guys are amazing. <We'll see... depends on the type of livestock, foods/feeding, maint.... Bob Fenner>

Opinion of the Red Sea Max Reef System, Sm. SW maint.    6/13/07 Crew: <Sarah> I am totally new to the saltwater world, but had successful freshwater systems in the past. I wanted to know your opinion(s) of the Red Sea Max "Plug and Play" Reef System for beginners. Knowing that you are all likely (and deservedly) to be purists, please remember that the key word is beginners. <Understood... and for browsers, here's a fave desc. of this system: http://www.norbreck-aquatics.co.uk/max.shtml Appears to be a good, serviceable unit all the way around> I purchased a Max a month ago, and have, so far, knock on wood and saltwater, had a wonderful experience with it. I am interested to know if I am in the minority, majority, or all alone, in this opinion. My 34 gal aquarium cycled quickly (with 3-4" substrate and 30 lbs live rock) and I now have (and do not see any reason to add more any time soon) 3 fish (royal Gramma, pygmy angel, maroon clown), <This last will likely prove to be trouble in time in this small volume... incompatibly territorial> 5 corals (2 polyps, a xenia, a torch and flowerpot), <And these... should be investigated on WWM... the last will likely perish soon... perhaps causing trouble for your other livestock> a fire shrimp (who just shed - freaked me out - I found the molted shell and thought he'd died! - he's fine, just taking a little time to come out from his rock cave as he's probably still a bit soft), a brittle star, buncha hermits, buncha snails. I just intro'd a gorgeous BTA 2 days ago, <... misplaced here. I would NOT mix an anemone with Stony Corals in such a new, small volume...> as I had a very unhappy little maroon clown, and the two were inseparable within 10 minutes. The BTA had settled in to a lovely rocky crevasse within 2 hours. <... Do keep your eye on this...> The ease and simplicity of this system has quickly addicted me to the saltwater world - watching my aquarium is now my favorite form of procrastination. Is this a good thing?... I think so. <I agree... though I do wish there was a requisite, concomitant "education" that went with such purchases (dream on... I live in this world...)... As it is too easy to "get into trouble" even with the most complete, simple set-ups in our interest. Here you have some real stocking issues...> Are there any things to watch for to tip me off that something is not right? <Mmm, yes. The best/foremost, your keen observation... Coupled with useful knowledge (again, please do read re the Systems, Compatibility... of the life you list... AND any that you intend to add going forward... AHEAD of its/their acquisition...> Am I just freakishly lucky (reading some of your articles about WWMers who beat their heads on their tanks for 2 years to get a BTA to settle in, etc.), or is the Max the reason all has gone well? <Does appear to be a relatively complete, well-thought out product... And you are to be given credit (along with your stockist/LFS for careful screening of specimens, passion-enough to investigate, take care...> I'm glad to have found your site, and look forward in the future to success through research, rather than success through luck! Sarah <I too am hopeful for this... Keep a keen eye on your livestock... water quality testing... and regular maintenance/water changes... and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

First Saltwater Tank 5/25/07 Hi! <Hello> I have just recently set up my first saltwater tank.   I've had freshwater for years but never before have I ventured into salt.  <Its fun.>  I've got a 40g Long tank, no live rock as of yet, no skimmer, Penguin Bio-Wheel Filter, salinity is 1.023, PH of 8.4, Ammonia and Nitrites are 0, Nitrate is 20. <If you are going to add live rock (which I highly recommend), do it soon, because it will cause havoc with your water parameters at first, causing another cycle.  Also, get a skimmer too, much better than a bio-wheel filter for marine applications.>  I feed New Life Spectrum pellet foods exclusively to my freshwater fish and after a discussion with Pablo (the developer of NLS) I intend to try my salties on the same diet. <Good stuff.>  I plan to use Thera-A in the .35mm and 1mm sizes.  I also will use the NLS Stable Wafers, primarily for my Lawnmower Blenny since algae is in rather short supply as yet. <Another reason to get the LR soon.>  My question is regarding compatibility.  I've got a list of fish/inverts decided on but I'd like to double check that they'll be compatible before leaping in with two feet.   The tank currently has the following: 1- Lawnmower Blenny 2- Yellow and Gold Chromis I plan on adding the following fish/inverts eventually if they'll be compatible.. 1- Flame Angel <Would skip, the tank is a little small for it and with the other livestock your probably pushing it a little too much.> 1- Skunk Cleaner Shrimp 1- Neon Goby 2- Banggai Cardinalfish (I plan to acquire a small group of these, allow them to pair and then return all but one pair. ) and possibly 1- Tiger Dragon Goby Thanks for your time! -Heather <Seems ok, but with a little study you can tell the difference between male and female cardinals, so you won't need to go through all the extra purchasing.  Don't forget to QT everything.> <Chris>

How to Set-Up a REALLY small nano-reef    5/7/07 Good morning Crew, <Hello there Sara, I have commented on parts of your query but the link below will provide you with most of your answers.>                   First of all I would like to say that you guys (and gals) are the Best of the Best. <Why thanks!> Anyway I have been keeping Freshwater tanks most of my life and currently have 4 tanks up and running and fully stocked. <You are officially addicted.> I have been thinking about starting my first Saltwater Reef tank because of the vibrant life and color that Freshwater does not offer. <Better hide from those cichlid keepers!> I would like to have some Soft Coral, maybe a fish or two, and would like to keep it small (real small like a 5.5 gallon or something similar) <That is really small...a bit too small for even some veteran aquarists let alone a novice.> since I have limited space in my fish room. <That I do undertstand.>    I thought I would ask a few questions before setting off on this journey and getting to lost. <Okay.> I have read that small Saltwater tanks are hard to maintain <An understatement; yes...> but I don't mind a challenge. I was wondering what kind of equipment you would recommend for a 5.5 gallon Reef. <Hmmm, a small hang on power filter, mostly for water movement and to have a way of running carbon. In all honesty the filter in this tank would be you; and by that I mean bi-weekly water changes at the least.> As far as the lighting goes - what wattage bulb should I use? <A small powercompact fixture would probably be your only option here, that or incandescent lighting due to the small size of the tank.> How bright should I go - 10K - 12K or higher? <!0k is fine.>   What kind of filtration would be best? Can I use a Bio-Wheel and what should the turnover rate be? <Well I would use live-rock for biofiltration not bio-media, and I would want a turnover rate of at least 10X per hour.> Stocking is another issue. I know I cant have to many fish or anything to big. <Right, in all honesty this nano would be best off without fish.> What kind of fish would you consider keeping to start or cycle the tank? <Well read up on WWM re: establishing bio-filtration in marine aquaria. DO NOT use live animals in this process. Again I would prefer you not go with a set-up of this size and if you do I wouldn't like to see any fish in it. However is you MUST, a single clown goby or neon goby and even that is pushing it.> Once it is cycled or when I think I can handle it what would you suggest to keep an eye out for? <See the link below.> To make it short and sweet - how would you Set-Up and Stock a Nano Reef??? <Hmmm actually I have an article on this subject; read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm .> Thanks for your time and keep up the good work. <Thanks.> Sara N.

Plumbing Return Line and Drain Line for Nano System -- 5/4/07 Hello Crew! <Mike.> I hope this email finds you well. <It does, thanks.> I have a plumbing/planning question for you and your expertise. <Lets here it...> I have a 20gal glass aquarium (tall).   <Neat looking but difficult to aquascape.> My original plan was to run one 1' drain from the back of the tank to a 10gal sump, through a MAG 7, and back to my tank.  (1' plumbing throughout.)  With a 3' head, this should put me at about 400gph'¦right at my 20x target turnover rate. <Yes, however...while I do encourage aquarists to have ample amounts of water flow, I do not recommend pushing this much water through the sump; especially if you have a skimmer or refugium there. I usually aim for only a 7 to 10X turnover rate in the sump. For additional water flow to get you to that 20X plus goal, I sally supplement with closed loop manifolds.> I then find out that a single 1' drain to the sump will neither handle 400gph, <1" drains can handle up to 600gph at maximum but that's with no restrictions whatsoever.> nor is it a good idea to use a single drain. <Yes, well it's nice to have security...I'll put it that way.> Okay, I've not sent the tank to be drilled yet so I will go ahead and put another 1' drain for safety/assurance that my tank will handle all that flow.   <Okay.> Today, what arrives at my doorstep? <Hopefully not a child...> Surprise! a MAG 9.5  Going back and doing some math, it seems that a MAG 9.5 will crank out almost 800gph @ a 3' head. Ouch. <To much flow through the sump you plan on using, could use this pump in a closed loop though, with multiple outlets.> Now I'm curious if two 1' drains will handle all that flow. <Should be able to...but again I don't recommend all that flow through this size sump.> I'm also envisioning my poor tank inhabitants living in a dusty substrate storm because of a constant blast from the returns. <Well bear-bottom is an option, or very shallow coarse media.> So, would drilling yet another 1' hole in the back (3 total) compromise structural integrity and is a 40x turnover rate really desirable/sane?   <Yes but not in the arrangement you have.> Does it constitute more drilling/upsizing plumbing? I'm thinking about using the ball-valve in the return line to simply throttle the pump down.  Though, I've heard mixed reviews as to if this is acceptable in regards to pump life/cost effectiveness. <Yes, could put to much back-pressure on the pump.. I thought it was my lucky day when that 9.5 arrived by mistake'¦ now I'm not so sure. :( <Like I said I think you can find a place for it but not as a return pump on this size set-up. Search WWM Re: Anthony Calfo (Closed Loop System).> I appreciate any and all advice.  Thank you! <Welcome.> Mike. <Adam J.>

35 Gallon Reef, Equipment Choices  4/26/07 Hello from Australia, <Hi.> I am in the process of setting up a small 24"x18"x21" reef tank. <Neat.> It will hold approx: 35 US gallons which converts to about 125 litres. I will only be putting in 2 x percula clowns, 1 blue damsel and maybe a goby for algae control. <Sounds modest, this is good for a smaller tank.> Live rock will be added and if everything is fine a few months down the track I might go for a few very basic corals. I have purchased a 3 x 24w tube T5 light, a vortex style protein skimmer suitable up to 180 gallon tank, 2 x 400 litre/p/h power heads and a 500litre/h hang on filter for any floating detritus. Would you recommend the use of a UV sterilizer ? <There are pros/cons to using them. (posted on WWM) However I personally think it would be a bit much on an aquarium of this size.> Do you see any problems with the equipment chosen?? <No.> Any advise would be appreciated. I seem to get mixed feed back here in Oz. My major problem will be heat in Summer. My current tropical tanks can reach up to 32 Celsius. <Do see WWM regarding temperature control as well, usually a few temperature controlled fans can do the trick in a tank of this size.> Thanks Randall     <Adam J.>

Preparations for Semi-nano Reef; FOWLR to Reef  4/17/04 Hello WWM, <Hi.> I was planning on turning my FOWLR 36 gallon tank,  into a reef aquarium. <Beware of the dark-side young Skywalker...> I do not plan on infesting the tank with corals, <Infesting...interesting way to word it.> but with  maybe about 5 different ones, however, I need to make sure I can provide  conditions that are suitable for each one. <Right.> The tank set up is like this 45 pounds of live rock ---SEIO 620 power head ---Bak Pak 2R protein Skimmer ---Flame Angelfish <I wouldn't go with a Centropyge in this size tank long-term.> ---Citrinus Clown Goby ---Established for 4.5 months. I  was planning on adding another fish, such as a firefish, but wasn't sure whether  to add one or not since I am close to fully stocked, and my tank will become  reef. <If you drop the angel it would be a good addition.> I need suggestions on lighting for the specific corals I would look to  keep, these would Include, Ricordea Mushrooms, Brain Coral, Zooanthids, Polyp corals, Sun Coral, and some other possible soft corals. I was thinking of one of  these lighting fixtures _ http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=3796&N=2004+113174_ ( http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=3796&N=2004+113174)  .  I do not know whether to get the 36, or 24 inch fixture since my tank is 30" in  length. Could this work, or do you have a better suggestion?' <I only got the second link to work for me, which directed me to a VHO fixture. This could surely work, and I would much prefer it over a PC fixture. Having said that, have you looked into T-5 HO fixtures? If not, I would encourage reading up on them.> I was looking for  4-5 watt fixture without lunar lights. What bulbs should I use, an actinic and  which bulb? <If your going to have one of the bulb be actinic (20,000k range) the other needs to be 6,500k to 10,000k range.> Also, I have one power head the SEIO 620, which is pretty strong, but I was considering adding another to increase flow and remove dead spots. <Yes, more flow wouldn't hurt.> I can normally keep my nitrates below 10, and can be lowered more with an extra water change a month and added macro algaes. <True, and by reducing your livestock load.> My calcium is maintained at 400+ all the time. Do you have any suggestions I should do before I convert to reef? <I'll put it this way, you can't be to patient and you can't research and read to much.> P. S, - I do ask a lot of questions, do I form a problem? <Not yet my friend.> Thanks again,    Joe <Adam J.>

Quick question ... Nano re-do   2/22/07 Hi guys!  I have a 16 gallon bowfront tank.  For the past five years, I have had a Skilter, regular CoraLife bulbs, live sand, and two pieces of live rock.  I kept a small, regal tang <Way too little room for this species> and a false clown.  Several months ago, the tang attacked the clown - he died a few days later.  The tang lived on for another year (total of 5 yrs). <Bonsaied>   Now that I do not have any livestock - I'd like to do things right.  I emptied the live sand and went with just a clear bottom.  The one piece of rock is browning ... I am assuming it is dying off.  The other piece has a bit of coralline algae on it.  My questions: I'd like to get something other than the Skilter ... is the Aqua C Nano Remora the way to go for protein skimming? <Much better, yes> I'd like to do something with the lighting to increase the growth of the rock/future inverts ... is the USA 24" 2x65W Power Compact Orbit Fixture overkill for my tank? <Is not... a very nice unit> I don't want to overdo it ... but I want something good. Last of all - do I get rid of the dying rock ... or hope that I can save what is left of it?   <I would save it... can either "re-grow", or be of use as base rock, substrate with a bit of new placed near-by> Thank you so much ... Liz <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Marine Set-Up 2/20/07 Hello Bob :-) <James for Bob today.> I love your book, and articles on Salt Water aquarium & fish! <Bob thanks you for this.> I have a quick question I hope you can give me your incite on. I'm thinking of starting a "Fish Only" 20 gallon saltwater tank with a few clown fish. Kind of a starter into the world of marine fish keeping. How do you all feel about this? Would this equipment work well in this 20 gallon tank: Twin-Tube Fluorescent Strip Light 30", Stealth UL Heater 100 Watt, Rena FilStar XP1 Canister Filter, <A nice filter, easy to maintain.> CoraLife super skimmer, Instant Ocean Hydrometer, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Saltwater Liquid Master Test Kit, <I like Aquarium Systems and Salifert kits myself.> Oceanic (TM) Natural Sea Salt Mix? <Instant Ocean is my choice of salt.> I was going to do a brackish tank with mangroves & a mudskipper (I have the tank setup with crushed coral as a substrate & mangroves now, but can eliminate them easily), but I don't know if I will ever be able to purchase a mudskipper around here, the pet store people tell me it could be months, or maybe never. Well I have always wanted to have a few tank raised clown fish, so I was wondering what I have setup is alright, and what else I need to be successful as a beginner with saltwater fish. <Tom, a good place to start would be sending you to this link.  Do read linked files above also.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm This should answer most, if not all of your start-up questions.> Thanks. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Marine Set-Up 2/20/07 Hello Bob :-) A Quick Question On A 20 Gallon Setup
Hello Bob :-) <Tom> I love your book, and articles on Salt Water aquarium & fish! I have a quick question I hope you can give me your incite <Heee! Insight> on. I'm thinking of starting a "Fish Only" 20 gallon saltwater tank with a few clown fish. <Two> Kind of a starter into the world of marine fish keeping. How do you all feel about this? <Can be done... tank-bred...> Would this equipment work well in this 20 gallon tank: Twin-Tube Fluorescent Strip Light 30", Stealth UL Heater 100 Watt, Rena FilStar xP1 Canister Filter, CoraLife super skimmer, Instant Ocean Hydrometer, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Saltwater Liquid Master Test Kit, Oceanic (TM) Natural Sea Salt Mix? <Yes> I was going to do a brackish tank with mangroves & a mudskipper (I have the tank setup with crushed coral as a substrate & mangroves now, but can eliminate them easily), but I don't know if I will ever be able to purchase a mudskipper around here, <Maybe mail-order... etailers> the pet store people tell me it could be months, or maybe never. Well I have always wanted to have a few tank raised clown fish, so I was wondering what I have setup is alright, and what else I need to be successful as a beginner with saltwater fish. Thanks. <I say... you go Tom! Bob Fenner>

Is this temperature ok? (Bob F., if available). & Nano stkg...  2/16/07 Hi, Great site as usual!     I am setting up an Oceanic Bio Cube 14, as a nano  reef. I had a company by the name of nano-tuners.com <Neat name> do a mod to my hood that  increased the lighting from 48 watts to 72 watts of PC lighting. I am running 1-  10k bulb, one actinic, and one 50/50) As expected with a light increase,  there was a heat increase. I have freshwater in there now, and am testing all of  my equipment. I am getting temps in the 80- 83 degree range consistently with  out the use of a heater. <Mmm, temp. and range will likely be okay... I would use/place a/the heater... just set at the lower temp.> I will employ the use of a 50 watt heater when I  get it set up, but will these temperatures be ok for the following? 15 Lbs of Live Rock <From tropical clime, yes> 3 Lbs of rubble as a bio filter 20 Lbs of Live Sand <Ditto> 212 model  zoo-med power sweep power head + stock pump, yielding a turn over of 20x 2  True Percula clowns (a pair if I can manage it) <Start with just two small tank-bred ones... they'll become a pair in time> 1 Fire fish <Mmm... really needs two square feet of space per individual, and most species available are best kept in pairs... Highly stressed otherwise> Various  softies (xenia, mushrooms, Ricordea, etc) <A Pacific Ricordea species would be better than a Floridian> Some hard corals Other various frags An anemone (Bubble tip??) <Mmmm... this tank is really too small> A clam (can you recommend a specific species?) <Ditto> 2 cleaner shrimp (Am I  better off with a mated pair of golden coral banded shrimp, or two  skunks?) <Better with Peppermints... again... this volume is too small> 2-4 hermits (2 blue, 2 scarlet) 5-10 snails  (Suggestions?) <I'd avoid here> Top off every other day with pure R/O water 10% w/c once a week <Make that twenty> I will be exclusively using Nutri sea water for this setup. Filter floss cleaned at every top off under tap, and squeezed dry. Chemical filtration: Pura pad. Does this set up look good to you? Any  other recommendations are gladly welcomed. Thanks, Anthony <Appears you've been doing your "homework"... again, go slow... small colonies of those Cnidarians... Bob Fenner>

New Tank 2/12/07 , SW, anem. sel./sys., subst., First and foremost let me start off by saying your online resource is enjoyable to read and I appreciate the time you all put into answering questions. <Thanks> Now I have a 29 gal tank with an Emperor 400 with Bio-Wheels, a 3 inch crushed coral substrate, a maxi-jet 900 and 17 pounds of various types of live rock. <No skimmer?> My tank has only been running for about one week.  My questions is with the current set up that I have is it possible to have an anemone and two clown fish set-up (once the tank is cycled of course)? <Too small/unstable for an anemone, fine for a clownfish pair.> I plan on adding more live rock however I just need some direction.  Should I ditch the crushed coral for some type of sand?  <Could, would help with water quality.>  I have read various responses on your website as well as in numerous books and I just wanted to ask a direct question about my specific set up.  Thank you for any and all help that you can provide. <Welcome> <Chris> -Andre F. Ousley

Small Marine Systems... Adam!  2/11/07 Hi <Hello.> my name's Jenn, and I'm planning on turning my freshwater aquarium into a reef aquarium (my boyfriend is taking me freshwater fish) and i had some basic questions. the main thing i wanted to purchase was an anemone, i was considering a Haitian pink tip anemone, or a condolactic anemone, i only have a 10 gallon tank, so i was only planning on getting a clown fish, and a scarlet hermit crab, because i don't want to crowd the tank. my first question is: is it possible to have an anemone in a 10 gallon tank if i dont buy many other fish or anyhting. my second question is: >My question is why did Adam not send this back to you to correct your English? WHY do you want to appear ignorant, or have us appear so? WHY do people think I have nothing better to do with my time? WHY do you not follow instructions if you want our help? RMF< which anemone would be better for a small tank? my third question: what watt of metal halide bulb should i purchase? my last question: what clownfish would go best with the anemone you suggest? I've had many different pets throughout my life, and I know the worst thing you can do is buy a pet without reading up on it first <Very Good!> , it's a good way to kill it and that is the last thing i want. So any tips you have I would really appreciate. <Hey Jen try this article first, see if it helps out, if you need clarification respond and I will be more than happy to do so: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm.> thank you so much for your time! -Jennifer <Adam J.>

New 32 Gallon Reef Tank Setup 1/30/07 Hi, <Hello> Let me start out by saying thanks for helping me out last week - I had my whole tank destroyed by a brother-in-law who dumped a whole bottle of pellet food into my tank.  Because of some of the tips and emails I received I have so far have managed to keep my remaining 2 Ocellaris clownfish, Javanese damsel and brown clown goby, tiger pistol shrimp plus a handful of Nerite snails and some tiny hermit crabs alive in a small uncycled tank (been changing 25% of the water every 2 days). <Good to hear, keep up the good work.> So rather than re-setup by old glass tank that was filthy and in need of a good cleaning from the food mishap, I have purchased a 32 gallon M-tank by Finnex. <Ok> The version of M-tank I have has a rear sump, but is not setup for any kind of wet/dry or bio media.  This version is a custom version... It has a skimmer, and refugium with compact fluorescent lighting instead of a wet/dry or filter tray.  <Nice, although I usually am skeptical on the efficiency of the skimmers that come with these types of setups.  Make sure you are able to get it to work.> My plan for the tank is this: 1) refugium with either a DSB or Mud with Chaetomorpha and possible mangroves (I have 2 mangroves left over from my old tank setup).  I have read all that there is on both the DSB and Mud approaches.  I plan on having a 3 - 4 inch sand bed in the main tank and I plan on keeping the skimmer on at all times - do I go with Mud or go with a DSB in the fuge?  <I would go with a DSB, although a mud system could be worked out too.> 2) I am going to add 30 - 40 pounds of LR - Is it ok to use un-cured since this is a new setup? <Yes, even preferable in my opinion.> 3) 3 - 4 inch sand bed with aragonite fine sand bed in the  display.  (do I use any store bought live sand or just go with straight aragonite)  <Just go with the aragonite, the LR will seed the sand.> 4) Protein skimmer in the rear sump running 24/7. <Make sure it produces well or be ready to replace.> 5) Light fixture in compact fluorescent 3 X 55w (165 W total) - each bulb is a different spectrum. <Ok> I plan this Wednesday on adding the sand, then the LR and then adding the water (RO water using red sea coral pro salt).  I will also use bio-Spira as this seems to me the preferred method to speed up cycling.  <Will help, make sure it is refrigerated, otherwise it is useless.> In a few weeks after cycling has completed I plan on adding the 2 clownfish, goby, damsel, pistol shrimp, snails and hermits. <Slowly if possible, over the course of a few weeks ideally.> A few more weeks or maybe a month after that I wanted to start introducing some corals to the reef. <The longer the better, let the system settle a bit.> As far as non-corals the most I will add a few months down the road are more snails and hermits and maybe a starfish like a serpent star or something. <Careful with the stars, many that are not appropriate for aquariums, and many that are very good.  Both seem to be available equally.>   Down the road maybe another "nano" fish that grows to only a very small size because I think the bioload is close to the max with the fish I have already in this aquarium. <Will be difficult after the clowns and damsels establish themselves, may not allow newcomers.> Do you see any holes in my setup?  Any potential issues?  Any limits on what kinds or corals and how many corals I can add in the future?  Bioload issues? <Seems like a good start, no obvious pitfalls.  Would qualify the bio-load as heavy once everything is added.> Any advice is greatly appreciated as I want to start things off on the right foot with this tank... <Keep the brother-in-law away from it.> Thanks again, Dave <Chris>

Some things Never change'¦Nano Reef Questions Hello fellow fish people, <Hello, in the future I kindly ask that you utilize black or at least dark colored font, the yellow against white was not easy on the eyes'¦.and I'm young, could you imagine if Bob opened this'¦j/k.> <Heeeeeeee! RMF>     Excellent site -- <Thank you.> my fish thank you as well. I've looked everywhere for an answer/advice on this specific topic but need some further clarification please <I will do my best.> A brief background -- 18 months ago, I purchased a 15 gallon aquarium/marine set-up, complete with established live sand (4'), a few small colonies of button polyps and one small Ricordea (?) mushroom, as well as a pair of tank-raised false Clowns (2 nd generation Nova Scotia Clowns!!!). It was the chance of a lifetime, as the tank/inhabitants were all lovingly raised at a local Marine department of Dalhousie University. <Neat.> Since then, I have religiously used your site for guidance and all is well due to regular/weekly (aggressive water changes), regular testing and up-graded lighting. So far, everybody is thriving and fascinating. Small cleaner crew includes 3 blue legged hermit crabs, a cleaner shrimp, a peppermint shrimp and 2 turbo snails. <Some concerns here re: livestock density.>      I would like to up-grade the size of the tank because even with the constant monitoring and adjusting of water, I find it a struggle to keep the water quality steady. <You don't have to tell me chief.> (Nano tanks require an enormous amount of attention, no matter what anybody claims!) <Oh trust me I know.> Finally, the question'¦ I have room (desire) for either a 25 gallon tall (24'x12'x20') or a 29 gallon (30'x12'x18'). <I prefer the footprint of the 29 to the 25.> The 25 gallon means I do not have to modify my light canopy. The 29 gallon requires a canopy and stand modification. Is there a clear benefit to either tank? <The 29 has a larger footprint and more surface area, it is also not as tall which means it will be easier to (although I concede there is only a 2' difference).> I don't mind making the modifications in order to gain a great benefit by having the 29 gallon. However, the easiest route is purchasing the 25 gallon tall and keeping the existing equipment. What do you think? <Well I think you know my opinion but you have to weigh he pros and cons and make that decision for yourself.> I do not intend to add any corals to the mix and my current lighting are 2 - 18' 15 Watt -- one PowerGlo 18 000K bulb and one 10 000K Actinic bulb. (Is my lighting OK as is?) <See the link below it should answer this question as well as provide more detail for most of the others.>     I lied -- one more question. With the 25 or 29 gallon up-grade, could I introduce another small fish such as a Neon Goby to the mix? <Possibly but I would rather you not, your better not upsetting the pair of clowns.> (After quarantine time in the now empty 15 gallon quarantine tank, of course!) <Of course'¦here is that link'¦genius author (that's my vain side) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm .> Thank you very much! <Adam J.>
Re: Nano Reef Set-Up  - 01/24/2007
Hello Crew, <Hello again!>     Thanks so much for the reply and sincere apologies for the font colour - have no idea how that occurred and hopefully this reply comes in the expected black. <No worries'¦> 1. Will re-think the 25 gallon Tall and opt for a larger (29 gallon+) tank. <Okay.> 2. If the Clowns might be distressed by the addition of a tank-mate, then they will be happy on their own in a larger tank. <Correct.> 3. Re-read the lighting FAQ's and will up-grade to three T-5 lights for the re-vamped hood. <Good choice.> All fantastic advice I needed before making the move. <That's what we are here for.> This leads to one more question. Unfortunately, I don't have the room/set-up for an under-tank refugium/sump or a large tank. However, I do want to improve the filtration on my larger tank-to-be. (I'm currently running a Fluval 204 on the 15 gallon - clean the hoses and media on a regular basis). Also use a Powerhead for additional flow .For the new filtration system I've been looking at the CPR HOB Refugium vs. a decent protein skimmer (Remora - HOB). <Both are great choices for this tank size'¦.both would make a great combo.> Your site/advice seems to be in favour of both systems. <Or like I mentioned above a combo of both'¦'¦'¦'¦.> With the tank and lighting up-grades, the move is suddenly becoming expensive (again, D'oh!) <I know how that is.> and at this time, I have the budget for a good quality skimmer or the HOB CPR refugium... I've poured through all of the FAQ's and know I should have at least one of these on the new 29 - 37 gallon tank. Does one type of these HOB systems have a clear benefit over the other? <Both have great; similar and different benefits'¦.I would personally prefer to have the protein skimmer in the infant stages of the system, and then add the refugium later, many will have differing opinions for differing reasons. Either way you go, weekly water changes will help immensely.> Or, if one added one system now and one system at a later date, what system should be added first? <See my 'opinion' above.> Thanks again! <Anytime.> Fantastic article on Nano Reefs Adam J! <Thanks, hopefully I will be motivated to submit the others I have written or write more'¦.**AJ.>

30 gallon tank - 10/17/06 Hi, just a quick thanks before I even ask a question, you guys rock. <Hey Tris, you are too nice to us. We appreciate people who do the research.> I'm shutting down my 135 gal tank, to 2 more manageable tanks while I'm at school. I have already set up a 30 gallon cube and will set back up a 55 gallon of mine. I have a urchin that was a hitchhiker on my live rock years back, he has grown considerably and I was hoping that he could go into my 30 gal? <I think he would be fine in a 3o gallon. I understand your hesitation and thinking about waiting but you need a tank that is established to provide him plenty to eat.> In the tank are 2 percula clowns, 1 little watchman goby, a royal Gramma, elephants ear mushroom, Ricordea, candy cane, 2 cleaner shrimp,2 feather dusters,1 tiny tiger tail cuke and some pipe organ...wow that sounds like a lot. Would I be better to wait and put him in the 55 when I set it up? also is there any specific requirements to keeping pipe organ? the polyps never extend for me. <Pipe organ coral is difficult to feed, you might try to use the cone method for feeding each individual polyp to get that, you don't mention your lighting but they have high lighting requirements as well. At least halide in my experience so you might be better to trade it for a different coral.> Now with enough live rock and janitors would I have to have filtration on my 30 gallon? right now it has a little whisper filter which looks odd on a cube. <With you load, I would consider adding additional filtration but definitely some type of additional water movement.> Sorry for so many questions, last one...I promise. On my 55 which is 20" high, would I have enough light to keep some sort of anemone? The light is 260 watts of pc. I would like a RBTA but don't know if i can. <You might be able to keep an Atlantic anemone but honestly I think you are going to have troubles.   thank you so much for the help and I look forward to hearing back from you.  <You are going to do great with everything you do, you read and research and ask questions and are doing so much right. Great job, MacL> Tris

Nano Cube Woes 10/14/06 Hi - <Good Morning Sure> I have a 24 gal. nano cube. Everything has been great - I have seahorses, pipefish, plus some inverts - all thriving nicely. <I personally wouldn't suggest seahorses in this type of tank, they are very specialized and I would put them where there is more room.> I purchased and installed a Fission protein skimmer because the store I do business with, recommended this skimmer for a small tank. <I know its very hard to get a skimmer that will fit in a tank this small, however, in my personal opinion this skimmer will do absolutely nothing for you.  It's junk, to be frank.> But nobody told me about maintenance of it.  How often to empty it?   <You should be collecting a full cup of skimmate a day - so everyday.> How often to replace the fiber inside?  Does the sponge need to remain over the bioball filtration? What is a safe distance for the sponge to be from the circulating pump?   <Google this: however you are going to find more negative comments than you know what to do with this one.  From my experience, it really doesn't work at all, let alone efficiently.  The best thing to do with a tank of this size is plump a sump or a refugium tank where you can add a skimmer that is better rated.  Plus you then add more to your water volume which is always a good thing!> Why do these people only put in a rudimentary diagram and NO INSTRUCTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are there different light bulbs that can be purchased (higher intensity or Kelvins) for the nanotank?  Sources?   <Yes, there are various places that provide right size bulbs with higher intensity, or retrofitting tanks to accommodate such.  Once again google.  Good luck, Jen S.> Thanks, Sue S/

Marine Set-Up 10/9/06 Hello everyone. <Hello Kevin> I used everyone because I am not sure which of you will respond. <James with you today.> I had a very quick question regarding stocking and filtration.  I will be setting up a small 30 gallon hexagonal tank (I know, I know, too small).  I do not have high hopes on stocking this thing to the gills as I am well aware of my limitations.  I will be using a CPR Cyclone BAK-PAK 2 for skimming, a Fluval 303 (or 203 I forget the exact model) for canister & media filtration (or should I just go with a H.O.T. magnum), <Although the Magnum is a nice filter, you are limited as to what media you can use in the chemical container.  Bagged media, such as ChemiPure cannot be used, just isn't enough room in there.  The Fluval is more versatile in this regard.> and one or two 203 power heads for circulation.  I plan on having 30lbs of live rock and a 2.5" deep sand bed.  Now to the fish....  I was thinking of a pair of Percula's (Ocellaris), a Fairy Wrasse (Red Head Solon or a Scotts)  and maaaaybe a Lemon Peel Dwarf Angel.  Is this feasible or am I pushing it with the Angel? <Not enough room for the Lemon Peel, and can be difficult to acclimate...not a good one if you are a novice.> Does my filtration sound OK, I think it should be adequate for this particular setup and bio-load. <Sounds fine, the live rock will handle most of the denitrification.> I know you guys get 100's of these questions, but your input is valuable to me and I appreciate it.  We all do. Thank you, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Kevin C.

Just a few questions I seem to be getting the most conflicted advice on. New Setup Checkup 10/2/06 Hi.  Your site is great, I've learned a lot already from it and hope to keep learning from you. <Good to hear.> I am saving money up to start a saltwater tank, and am definitely interested in doing things correctly the first time. <Good>  When I started keeping freshwater tanks a few years ago I was steered in every wrong direction possible, a mistake I don't want to make this time, especially since most of the stores here seem to be in the same "money over customer" base one store even told me I could keep 2 Oscars in a 10 gallon tank forever!)   <Well, I wouldn't go there for advice ;)> I guess I should start with my plans.  I only have the space for a small tank, a 29 gallon.  I am going to use aragonite sand and have a bed of about 2". <Less than 1 or more than 3 is best.>  I am unsure about how much rock I am going to use, I am going to get a lot of porous 'dead' rock from my LFS and seed it with some beautiful aquacultured live rock that I have found.  Probably about 5 lbs of the LR.  For my equipment, I know I will use pc lighting, have a skimmer and have  a fuge.  Plus the obvious things like heaters.  I plan on getting all of the non-living things first, setting up the tank then adding the liverock to cycle it.  I figure the rock can cycle it and while that is happening I can watch to make sure I don't have any bad hitchhikers in the tank.  After it has been set up for a couple of months (after cycle basically) then I will add the livestock to it. <I would probably let it run a little longer to let the LR really establish itself and seed the base rock.> I don't want a lot of fish, just a few.  I know I will have an ocellaris clown, and a clown goby still haven't' decided on a colour yet, most likely a citrinus though)  I was planning on a rainfordi goby, but have read at your site that they need a more established tank. <Yep> Though would a 29 gallon tank be enough for one after it has been set up for a while? <Probably not.>  Or should I forget about that plan? <I would> I want about 10 snails, an even mix of astrea, cerith and Nassarius. <Good>  I am also planning on getting a scarlet hermit crab or two, I love to watch hermits and have been told that those are the most reef safe, as far as crabs go. <Yep> I don't have any plans to keep shrimp, but if I did decide to I would get peppermint cleaners. <They are nice, enjoyed them when I had them it the past.>  For the corals, I will have a random assortment of zoanthid and palythoas.  A Ricordea and some xenia.  Perhaps someday a Capnella OR devil's hand for some variety.  Does this sound like too much livestock, or can you find any big incompatibility problems with my list? <Not really, just don't overload it with corals, just a few and leave them room to grow.> For my filtration, I know the skimmer and rock are the bulk of it, but what skimmer should I get?  I was going to get a remora, but the LFS I am going through is hesitant to get any in because he has never used them himself. <I absolutely love mine.>  He stocks the CoraLife super skimmers. <Check some of the message boards for opinions on this model.>  I have heard that either works "better" than the other.  Also I have heard, dumb question here, that xenias like their water a bit Underskimmed. <High water quality is important for these like all other corals.>  Would I be overskimming for them with either skimmer, or would I be just fine?   <Will be fine.> The fuge I am going to use will be an AquaClear filter made into one.  It'll have some sand, perhaps a bit of rock, and some macro.  Probably either sea lettuce or turtle grass.  Is either one better than the other? <Should be fine, although not as fast growing as some other macroalgae.>  It'll be lit by a small pc light.  I'm hoping to grow out pods in it.  <Will>  The model of filter I was looking at has 500 gph flow rate.  Should I go for the next size down model(300 gph), or should I keep this one in mind? <Bigger the better.> Also, with either size would I need to have additional powerheads for more flow, or should I be fine with that much? <Almost impossible to have too much flow, I would add a powerhead or two.>  My LFS has said to add another one or two powerheads to that mix, yet that seems like the flow would be nonstop everywhere in the tank.   <Looking for 10X tank volume turnover.> Also, how much light should I get? <Depends.> The LFS has said that the single light pc strip(65 watts) should be more than enough for the tank. <Maybe> Should I stick with that plan or should I get the double strip light?  I am never going to have any form of anemone, clam or SPS in the tank.  And really most LPSs don't interest me.  Huge IF I ever tried one in that tank it would be a candy cane.  I've read that they don't need massive amounts of lighting, and I could keep it near the top of the tank for more than it would be getting otherwise.  So yeah, 65, or 130 watts? <Really depends on what specific corals you get.> What salt should I use?  Hm, don't really know how to elaborate more on that one, just which brands seem to be better, in your experience?  Or is there even a really big difference? <Most are pretty comparable.  Most popular is Instant Ocean, most commonly available, reasonably priced.  Shedd Aquariums brand of choice if that helps.> I think that is about all my head has rattling around in it at the moment, so thank you in advance for your time. <Sure> Dana <Chris> Black Sand Nano 9/26/06 Hello folks, <Hi> A friend turned me on to your site, great info.  I am in the process of setting up a 29 gallon oceanic cube. I wanted to use the fine black Fuji sand.  This is not live sand, so how does this figure in the equation of setting up a mini-reef?    Thanks Stephen <Should work fine, if I remember correctly it is calcium based so you will get some buffering from it and the critters from your Live Rock will populate it with time.> <Chris>

Flow Question 9/24/06 My question actually is in regards to water turn-over.  I've always heard 4 times an hour, which is about where I am now with a 575gph return pump and a 4ft head height.  But I've read on your web site, and others, that 10 to 20 times turnover an hour is recommended for mini-reefs. <That's correct'¦you want at least a 10 time turnover> My sump already sounds like a tidal wave is coming, with water vigorously pouring in from the overflows.  Evaporation is quite fast -- 2g a day, because of all the water turbulence, and you can see a constant, steady mist of salt spray over the input area in the sump.  I simply cannot imagine increasing water flow through the sump to 750 to 1500 gallons an hour. I'm sure it would sound like filling a bath tub.   <Could be a bit scary! I would recheck the plumbing> I'm running 3 power heads; a 250gph, a 175 and a 110.  They are all causing pretty good flow around the rocks and corals, good water surface turbulence, and turbulence in the water column. Enough to gently blow corals around and keep detritus suspended. I'm hoping this is the case, but does this 10-20 times turnover include power heads and in-tank circulation?   If not, I really can't imagine 1500 gallons of water going through a sump every hour'¦ <Scott, the 10 time turnover is a general rule.  You overflow is only designed for so much flow and can only take so much.  I'm not sure of your exact set up, but I would think you could go to at least 750 GPH with no problem.  Flow is very important in a reef tank.  I personally wouldn't include power heads in your turnover rate'¦figure those as an added bonus!> Thanks guys! <Our pleasure! Cheers -- Dr. J> Scott S.

10 Gallon Marine Tank: A Doomed System?   9/16/06 I looked through FAQ's on the Marine section of your website (and I recommend this site to anyone with a fish/aquarium/amphibian/meaning of life question, you are all amazing) and read the (very discouraging) article on small marine tanks as well as the ones on nano reefs, and I am still tempted.   I really don't have the option of anything larger than a 10 or 12 gallon tank (worries of the floor falling through to the driveway below after a period of time), but I am VERY interested in a marine tank.  As in, I spend much free time drooling over articles about it online, and drooling over the books that I cannot afford to buy in paper but instead check out of the library.  [I highly doubt I am alone in this.  I also think I may be stalking several articles on WWM.]  I know the larger the better: more stable; easier to maintain; and in case of livestock death, the whole thing won't go kalbooie as easily. But I really want a small, happy, marine tank.  I like the idea of keeping featherduster worms because I love watching them.  I also really like barnacles and anemones, but I doubt even you can think of an anemone or barnacle that would do well in this size tank.  (I can dream, though.)  I'd be in heaven with a single anemone, featherduster worms and maybe a fish (not necessary at all for me to be happy).  I read and understood the stern advice about over-feeding: keeping bettas will do that to you. Does anyone at WWM have some favorite invertebrates you can imagine doing well in a small tank like this?  I understood the shrimp (fire, scarlet and sexy) and the mushrooms as well as polyps, but are there any specifically that are hardy and do well in a (much) smaller environment?  I'm more interested in the invertebrates and reef-type systems, but I just don't have the ability to keep a larger tank.   I realize I have to do much more frequent water changes and constantly test, but my mom's a chemist so I've got more than a little know-how of practical chemistry and I can devote the time to testing daily and weekly 1/4 to 1/3 water changes. I'd love to set up a tank like this, but I realize the futility of a failed endeavor and don't want to kill livestock and waste money because I am determined to try something stupid.  I'm also not talking about setting up a tank like this for some time, I feel more research is necessary--again, I don't want to kill the animals or stunningly crash and burn. Thank you for any advice you can give, Meghan R <<Meghan:  A 20 or 25 would give you even more flexibility if you can swing it.  Invert only tanks are really cool.  In a small tank, you could have a Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, hermit crabs, feather duster, etc.  In my 25, I currently have a coco worm and a tuxedo urchin (great creatures but they need coralline algae to eat).  Frankly, an anemone is not realistic in a small tank; but, you can get the waving movement effect with several other things; including colt coral, frogspawn, Fungia, torch coral.  Small tanks are harder to maintain; but, if you proceed cautiously, you can do it.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Where do I start? Nanos, Coral, Skimmers....  8/31/06 Hi,    <Hello there>      I am a very frequent visitor of WWM, and have  been visiting almost daily for the past year or so, to read the  freshwater FAQ's and of course, seeing the Pic of the Day. Why do  I visit daily? Because it is an awesome site!!!     <Heeeee! Thanks>     Now, I have been interested in Saltwater from the  beginning, but have never been umm... brave enough to do so.  I  have a 26 gallon community tank, 2.5 gallon guppy setup (failed breeding setup),  a 55 gallon Cardinal/ Ram community tank, (all planted) <Nice> a 20 gallon  pleco/ frog tank, and my prize possession- a 125 Planted Discus Tank (8 med-  large Discus who are happy and healthy and breeding thanks to the WWM  crew) So that's 1..2..3..4..5 Tanks. May not seem like much, but I am still in  high school (junior) <!> and my parents are not my greatest fans! LOL (Direct Quote  from Mom: "Fish are icky, smelly and slimy" <Heeeeee! Can be!> What cracks me up though, is that  every time a guest comes over, my collection is the first thing they show  off....go figure.    <I get the same for my gardening efforts...>      Well, I figured, if I can do discus, I may be  able to handle saltwater.( I may also pursue a career in this area  (biologist of some sort) (not sure)) <Mmm, not too soon to "do a stint" as a retail clerk... even start gearing up for part time self-employment work in the Aquarium Service industry...> Problem is, my parents have banned me  from keeping more tanks. Any suggestions on how to convince them??? <Mmm... perhaps an inquiry as to their specific concerns... Is this principally to do with their wanting you to focus on your studies? Perhaps a pledge/contract to excel will satisfy them here... A consideration for costs? Here's where the part time work might come in... Maybe there's not enough room, or electrical power in the house? I'd ask them directly> I want to  set up a "nano-reef". My tank will be the AGA  7 Gallon Glass Mini Bow. I  have been looking, reading, and learning (hopefully) about saltwater tanks for  about the last week or so, on nano-reefs.com, WWM, and a forum devoted to 7  Gallon Mini Bows, just to name a few.      Problem is, I am overwhelmed by all of the info (as I am  sure you know, there is quite a bit out there). But, I believe I have a grasp on  quite a few things. I apologize for the length of this email, but I feel you  should be well-informed of my situation.         I plan on having a "natural" tank of the following  specs: 7 gallon glass mini-bow Live rock Live sand bed corals (numerous types) <Careful here> "clean up" crew a pair of true percula clowns <Mmm... these really need much more room> Now for the questions: 1.) How many pounds of live rock should I purchase, and what type? <A few to about ten... S. Pacific...> 2.) How many pounds of sand should I purchase <Ten or so...> 3.) Lighting: The tank comes supplies with a 14 watt 16" long fluorescent   bulb. Is this sufficient for keeping corals? <Mmm... not many species can/will thrive under such low illumination> I do not plan on keeping  anemones. 4.) If not, how can I achieve the proper amount (what is the proper  amount?) <Changing out for a small CF unit likely> 5.) What should my clean-up crew consist of? (I want shrimp, crabs, and snails) Can you recommend some species? <Some mix of small snails... specifically here...> 6.) Corals: Could you recommend some low- med light species that stay  small/ grow slowly? <Bits of small species of Alcyoniids are what I'd start with... trading frags through a club highly recommended.> Also, how are corals attached to live rock? (similar to java fern on driftwood? lol) How do they consume energy? I read something about micro algae. Do I need to feed them? <All posted on WWM...> (Do I need to add any chemicals?) <Likely not... just regular water changes.> 7.) Do I need a protein skimmer? I have received conflicting information, would prefer not to use one though. <Would be a good idea to have/use a small one> 8.) Can I use a regular HOB Power filter? What media should be kept in it?   <Can, and posted> Can I place a heater in the filter? <I would not. I'd put this in the little tank> 9.) What should the salinity be of this type of setup? <1.025... matched carefully with new water> I found an already mixed solution called Nutri-SeaWater (_www.naturesocean.com_ ( http://www.naturesocean.com) ) It has a pH of 8.3,  is this good? <Synthetic would/will be better> More importantly, it has a salinity of 1.027, is this a good  level? <Too high> 10.) Top-off: Can I top off with Distilled water? Or is RO better? <I'd use RO, but can use distilled> (Can   easierly (is that a word?) obtain Distilled) 11.) Water changes: I plan on 1 gallon a week with the  Nutri-SeaWater. 12.) What is the best temperature for this setup? <Upper seventies F.... higher can be trouble>     Umm I think that's about it.... For now. I want to  keep this as simple as possible. I really truly appreciate your time and  effort, I apologize for the length again, but I want to be successful.  Do you have any books that you could recommend to me? <John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums">   I would gladly  purchase them. Thank you! Anthony <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Nano Reef, not ready   8/14/06 Hello Crew, <Jenn> Recently set up a 24 gallon Nano Cube, deep sand bed, lot's of live cured really good rock. I want to eventually do SPS only. <Not easily done in such small volumes... can't provide steady, optimal conditions> Is the Current 70 watt HQI halide sufficient, or should I do the 150 HQI?? <Up to you> Do I need a skimmer on the system?  Which do you suggest? <... that you keep reading. Obviously you aren't sufficiently informed to proceed. Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nanoreefsysart.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Please help. I appreciate your advice. Thanks, Jenn Perry NYC

Frogspawn setup -lighting question.   8/4/06 Dear Bob, WWM crew,   I can't thank you guys enough for all the advice I've received with my past reef and FW setups. I came across your website and read CMA and Anthony's book on coral propagation after I set up my reef and have relied on you for help. For the first time, I'm actually setting up a smaller reef tank after reading on your website and the above mentioned books.   My goal is to house two frogspawns -one Euphyllia divisa and one Euphyllia paradivisa. AND NOTHING ELSE -except for macro algae, live rock and live rock hitchhikers. I currently have a 20 gal "Long term QT" that is housing 15# live rock, 4" DSB, red kelp, Chaetomorpha and the two corals. These will be transferred to the new setup over the course of 6 months or so... after the new DSB matures.   I had a 45 gallon acrylic tank built for this -dimensions: 24" X 24" foot print and 18" height, with a 20 gallon sump. I have a Remora Pro with Mag3 pump, and an Eheim 1250 return pump -with a 3' head, this should flow about 240 gph. The return is plumbed thru a SCWD with nozzles on either side at the back of the tank. In the middle of the back side of the tank, I'm planning on adding either a sea swirl of one of those oscillating power heads for an additional 200ish gph flow by the time the corals make the move. That's about a 15X turnover...   The tank will have a 5" DSB with 12" of water and about 30# of live rock. The system water volume is about 40+ gallons, with 28 gallons or so in the display, 12-14 in the sump/circulation. Questions: a) I have some polyp and mushroom coral hitchhikers on the LR -I'm on the fence as to what to do with them -remove them or let them be? I don't want to deal with any chemical aggression between the three groups. b) Lighting options -I want to use a single HQI bulb to light the center of the tank so I can have glimmer lines and adequate lighting near the center of the tank with subdued lighting along the walls and rim to encourage coralline algae growth. The bulb will be exactly over the center of the tank, with one coral offset 4" from the center and the other offset about 8" from the center along a diagonal -I hope this makes sense to you. I don't know if I should go with a 70W or 150W HQI bulb -15,000K spectrum. Heat is not a consideration, as I'm willing to use a chiller if that's what it comes down to, but I don't want any more light than what I can get away with. Thank You, Narayan <<Narayan:  Frogspawn generally likes medium to high light and medium flow.  I have one about half way down in a 180 tank under 400W SE MH lights and another at the bottom of a 75 tank under VHO lighting.  Both of them are growing and doing fine.  When mushrooms get near the frogspawn, they lose.  Thus, I don't think you have much to worry about.  As far as lighting, you can use either bulb.  You seem to being planning a lot of flow.  Frogspawn will not like to be blasted by a lot of flow.  You'll have to direct the jets of water away from it.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Pico Reef Tank - 07/29/06 Hi WWM crew: <<Howdy Jeff!>> After a couple of years of keeping a medium-sized (46 gallon) reef tank and learning all the million and one things NOT to do, I've decided--even though I know I have to learn another billion or so things NOT to do--to take the plunge into a Pico reef tank. (Yes, I'm aware that most nanos and picos fail in the long-run, so I'm taking this risk with no illusions.) <<Mmm, must admit to disliking pico/nano systems...death traps for the most part, in my humble opinion>> I've been continually learning by first-hand experience, by countless hours of reading your FAQ's, articles and books, and by talking with other "reef geeks". <<Let's hope it will be enough...>> Now here's my set-up plan: TANK, EQUIPMENT, & SUPPLIES - 3 gallon mini Deco with 18 watts of PC light, 50/50 (dimensions 12.5"L x 9.5"W x 7.5"H), Deco power filter (Hang-on) with 80 gph of flow (so about 27X turnover per hour) - note: filter cartridge to be replaced by a bag of Seachem's Purigen. <<A good idea>> Tetra 50 Watt heater (4.5" long, fully submersible, preset at 78F) <<Hmm...this sounds too large...would quickly do damage if it were to "stick on">> Algae magnet cleaner, Digital thermometer, Refractometer, AP saltwater test kit, Salifert Alk test kit, Seachem Reef Salt, Seachem Reef Buffer. <<Dosing additives is dangerous/should be unnecessary on this small volume of water.  Frequent partial water changes will be quick/easy and will provide/replenish all the elements this tank will need...and do so safely>> MAINTENANCE REGIMEN - DAILY: 2 CUPS of water change (approximately 4% of tank volume daily), Top-off (I have yet to measure exactly how much water is lost to evaporation in 24 hours; if necessary I may have to top-off twice a day--once in the morning and once in the evening) <<Indeed...won't take much evaporation to cause large swings in water chemistry>> Scrape algae off acrylic wall, monitor temperature, pH, and specific gravity. -WEEKLY: Siphon of substrate & LR, cleaning of filter & replacement of Purigen as necessary, salt water mix prep in 5 gal bucket w/heater & powerhead, refill top-off water bucket, test for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, & Alkalinity. SUBSTRATE: .5" of white sand, 2-3 lbs of live rock. LIVE STOCK: This is where I need advice.  I know that stocking this tank will be the most critical. <<Indeed...won't be keeping much in this tiny volume of water>> I gave it a lot of thought and decided it will house only the following: A single colony of some species of xenia (I've actually kept the elongata species in my larger tank, and it has grown rapidly) - 2 red-leg hermit crabs - 1 Astrea snail I choose xenia because they're relatively hardy, almost fully autotrophic, <<Mmm, do feed through absorption...have been proposed as viable organisms for "animal" filters (a vessel filled with organisms utilized for the water filtering capacity>> and because I love their pulsing behavior.  I'm thinking the waste from the live rock, crabs and snail will give it enough sustenance without me having to feed it by polluting the water. <<Possibly, yes>> I'm afraid of putting any food in the tank at all since overfeeding would be too easy. <<Agreed>> I will also not dose any supplements & additives--too dangerous in this system. <<Ah...good!>> Besides, the Seachem Reef Salt (which I'm using for my larger tank) contains good levels of trace elements. <<Agreed again>> My Question is: which species of xenia would you recommend (if at all)? <<X. elongata or X. umbellata would be fine choices I think.  Though if you've kept Xenia before you should be aware that sometimes it declines for "no apparent reason">> And would the wastes produced from the LR, crabs & snail be sufficient supplemental nutrition? <<Maybe...though the crab and snail may need supplemental feeding at some point...maybe best provided by exchanging the old rock with new>> If not, what "feeding" regimen would you recommend? <<At this point, none.  If you choose not to swap out old rock for new (about every 4-6 months...maybe more often), a shrimp pellet or two (literally), tossed in every 3-4 days may suffice>> Best Regards, ~Jeff <<Cheers, EricR>>

55 to 12 gallon downsizing SW system   7/25/06 Hello,   I have problem here. I am moving and need to down size from my 55gal to a 12 gal.   I currently have in my 55gal 65lb LR,3" LS, clean up crew of hermits, Cerith, Nassarius snails spelling?) <fixed>, Astrea snails, turbo, 2 emerald crabs, 1 brittle star.    2 BTA large and medium, frog spawn with sexy shrimp hosting it, mushrooms, maxima clam, 2 leathers not sure what kind given to me from reef club., many rocks of zoas, button polyps, colt, pumping Xenia, pair false percs, mandarin, fire fish, watchman goby, pistol shrimp. I will be able to any amount of what ever I listed to put in the nano. I would like to stock the nano with the right amount of livestock, clean crew, ect.... <No such word... Etc... short for "et cetera res", Lingua Latina for "and other things">   The nano is a stock 12 gal JBJ dx 2005 and will have 2x24w 50/50, 1 24w day/day for lighting plus fan no modifications. a hang on back Prizm skimmer if it will fit not to sure about the skimmer. I think the tank has a surface skimmer and carbon wet/dry filter and stuff. Whatever I can fit in the Nano would be great but I am not sure what and how much to put in it. LR, LS corals, fish that would be fine under 72w of light in a 12g nano.   Thanks for all your help and looking forward to hearing from you.   Thanks again,   Wes <No clam, no anemones, no mandarin, likely no watchman goby or firefish... the soft corals will likely have to be fragged with most of the biomass given away... I'd leave out Zoanthids period... Not re-place the Crabs or serpentstar... I'd use as much of the gear listed as you can fit around this 12... Bob Fenner>

Questions on nano tank setup/inhabitants  7/23/06 Good afternoon WWM Crew!  I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your continued support.  I don't know if I would have had the courage to finally "take the plunge" & start my first marine aquarium if it weren't for your valuable website.  I have been researching & reading off & on about reef-keeping for several years & have found this website & the conscientious aquarist such a help.  I have several issues that I'd like your advice on & hope you don't mind the long e-mail.   <Not at all> First off I'll tell you a little about my setup.  I have a 12 gal JBJ nano cube dx (I know you are cringing but because of space restraints this was my only option.... <Can be made to work...> me, my husband, and two babies under age 2 in an 800 sq ft house.  Space is at a premium.)  set up 7 mo.s now.  I have the back three compartments set up as follows:  #1- Chemi pure, carbon, small sponge that is rinsed weekly, and MJ 600 that has tubing aimed over the back wall and down towards the bottom to help w/ flow.  #2- 1/3 full of live rock rubble, Chaeto & light. #3- another MJ 600 powerhead, Visitherm heater & temp probe.  My sg is 1.025, temp a steady 78 degrees, ph 8.2, ammonia- 0, nitrates- 0, nitrites- 0.  I have about 14 lbs live rock, lots of encrusting coralline, Chaeto, red Gracilaria, and unfortunately an ongoing battle w/ hair algae, sigh.  I let the tank cycle 6 weeks before slowwwwwwly adding cleanup crew, then livestock.  This was very hard (self control- wise)! <Heeee!>   Inhabitants include 1 ocellaris clown, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp, 3 dwarf blue leg hermits, 5 Nassarius, 2 Astrea, 3 margaritas, 1 small colony of zoas, 1 small colony of pulsing xenia, an ever dwindling population of pods and two new additions:  a toadstool leather & a blenny (Ecsenius bimaculatus).  I do weekly 10% water changes and once a month a 25% water change using reef crystals & distilled water. First question is regarding the toadstool leather.  It was quarantined for 1 week before adding.  Within an hour of putting in the tank, she had all her tentacles out & was looking happy.  Her base was nice and straight and columnar- about 3" in diameter & she stands about 8" tall.  Now, a week and a half later, her base is hourglass shaped.  She still looks healthy, but midway up her stalk, it curves inward & is about   1 ½" in diameter, with the top & bottom of the stalk still 3" in diameter.  Is this something I should be concerned about?   <Mmm, not necessarily... a "natural" reaction to being moved...> I removed a small sponge that was growing up against her stalk while she was in quarantine (didn't know if it could have been exposed to the air).  This didn't seem to affect her at the time.  Also, I've noticed that the margaritas & Astreas occasionally crawl up the stalk (about once or twice a day) and the cleaner shrimp and hermit crabs will climb on her also, but less frequently than the snails.  It doesn't seem to really bother her, as her tentacles stay out during their attention.  Is there anything I should do? <Mmm, keep an eye on your fishes... as good/best "bio-indicators" here... for signs of distress, have a good deal/volume of pre-made water, another unit of Chemipure to switch out if the Toadstool changes the water chemistry too much, too fast in way/s that mal-affect the other livestock> She is the showpiece of my tank & I've grown quite attached already...would be sad to lose her but I could find a new home for her if you feel she won't thrive in my tank. <Mmm... will have to "trim", "frag" this soft coral in time...> Concern #2:  The bimac blenny.  He was in a short quarantine (5 days) because I've read that this is best for blenny's, made even shorter because he didn't seem to eat a thing in quarantine.  Otherwise, he seemed quite happy & healthy spending much of his time perched on his rock.  My first concern is that I have never (in three weeks) seen him eat.  There is plenty of algae in the tank & I also feed a rotation of frozen formula 1, Sweetwater zooplankton, formula 2 flakes, brine shrimp, and small bio blend pellets.  Also, soak food occasionally in vita chem.  I feel like it's a good assortment & there should be something in there he likes.  The clown can be quite aggressive at feeding time, so I've tried putting her fav's at one side of the tank & while she is preoccupied, dropping the formula 2 flakes & bio blend pellets on the other side near the blenny.  I can see his little eyes moving as he watches the food, but he never makes a move towards it.   <Hopefully is "nibbling" on this and that when you're not watching> Also haven't seen him grazing on any algae either.  Are they bottom feeders, or do they eat from the water column? <Actually a good deal of/from both... nibbling filamentous algae types that are attached, and small free-swimming animals in the near-bottom water column... more or less continuously during daylight hours> Haven't been able to find this info anywhere. <Have observed Ecsenius blennies for long hours underwater> Then yesterday evening, noticed him rubbing a little on the rocks- which is normal behavior in a blenny from what I read. <Also correct> But he was also occasionally twitching & flashing his tail- if you can understand what I mean. <Yes... a type of "non-verbal communication"... likely intended for the Clown and you> But no other signs of crypt that I can tell.  The clown has never had it so I don't think it's in my tank unless the blenny has had it all along & just now showing signs. <I don't think this is Crypt, or other parasite>   Should I put the blenny back in quarantine or will this be too much stress?  Anything I can do to entice him to eat?   <Just what you are doing really> I haven't seen any signs of aggression from the clown- thought this might be stressing him but have ruled it out. Next question-  Down the road (maybe in another 6 months or so) if everything is still going smoothly, do you feel it would be okay to add a dwarf feather duster & a Florida Ricordea to this system? <These choices should go here fine> After those two additions, my wish list is done- or am I maxed out already? <Close to it, and more... with growth, asexual reproduction> I'm aware of the allelopathy issues that can occur but would like to give it a try.  Maybe with the Chemi-pure & carbon & frequent water changes it could work out? <Yes> I would appreciate your take on this. And my very last question...I promise!  What is your opinion of Boyd's vita chem.? <A good product... I have used this...> Is this a good product, or am I just feeding my hair algae? <Only to a small degree... Worth using for the benefits it affords your other livestock IMO> Thanks in advance for your consideration.  It is much appreciated!!! -Jaime <Thank you for writing so well, sharing... Your intelligence, learning and passion for life shine through. Bob Fenner>

Nano Aquarium Upgrades    6/14/06 Hey guys, <Hello Travis'¦>      I want to thank you for all you help in the past and for your great site. It's saved me a couple of times. <Always nice to hear.>   Anyway, I have a 20H nano reef with a CPR BakPak skimmer.  Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates all at zero. <Very cool, nanos aren't the most stable creatures.> My tank is stocked with a pair of pink skunk clowns, a cleaner shrimp (possibly another one later), and a colony of hairy mushrooms. I eventually want to add more corals.   <Okay.> Anyway, my CPR BakPak hasn't been pulling much it out.  Its like a tan/clear liquid with some tan sludge on the side of the collection cup.  I wouldn't mind the noise from the venturi if it actually pulled some gunk out. <In my experience the Bak Paks rarely produce dark skimmate, they usually skim very wet and produce loads of tea colored skimmate'¦.its not a great skimmer to be honest'¦but obviously adequate in some situations.>   This has turned me towards refugiums. <Well I wouldn't give up on the idea on a protein skimmer altogether, especially on such a small system.>   I could get a large fuge that hangs on the back of the tank but I couldn't put a light on it (long story here).  Would this be sufficient if there was just rock and sand in it? <For microfauna production yes, for macro-algae growth and nutrient control'¦.not in the least bit.> I was also considering an internal fuge that could use the main lights of the tank to grow Chaeto and mangroves (because i like mangroves) <Mangroves are too big for this tank and they aren't very helpful at pulling out nutrients to be honest (see A. Calfo's article re: this), an internal 'fuge can work though I will admit they aren't to pretty.> and to hold my heater.  Should either of these ideas be put into action? <Well an internal refugium, is not a true refugium simply based on the definition of a refugium which means 'a refuge', the external idea is not a good idea because you can't grow and macro'¦and your main goal it seems to be is to use the refugium as a means of nutrient control.  Why not look to upgrade your protein skimmer, Knop, P.M., Aqua-c and Deltec all make great hang on models and MRC is also supposed to come out with a hang on model soon as well.> I was also considering upgrading my main lighting from a 65w compact fluorescent light to a 2 x 24w T5HO fixture. <That's a worthy upgrade.> I suppose I could keep all softies, LPSs, and a BTA clone. <Well the tank is a little small to be mixing the sessile cnidarians with an anemone....> Thanks again for everything. <No problem.> -- Travis <'¦Adam J.>
Re: Nano Aquarium Upgrades    6/14/06
Okay, I guess I wont do a fuge then. <Sorry to be the bearer of bad news'¦but do keep in mind that if you ever can add one they are of nothing but benefit, lots of pros and very few cons about adding more water volume, microfauna and nutrient control.> I just cant stand my BakPak skimmer and don't exactly have enough money to buy a Deltec or similar skimmer. <The Deltec is by far the most expensive skimmer on that list I gave you, probably DBL if not triple the price of the others, the Aqua-C would be the best bang for your buck, and they are quiet barring a very low hum from the pump. Don't get me wrong the Deltec is a great model but for a nag on skimmer Aqua-C is probably the most economical choice performance and price wise.> Would the tank do all right with no forms of filtration other than biological? <And LOTS of water changes with fish in the tank.> Or should I implement the use of some kind of HOB filter. <An HOB filter would only serve to add water flow, would not help much in this aquarium'¦especially with nutrient removal.> Thanks again, Travis <Adam J.>

New Nano Saltwater tank 5/12/06 Hi Bob. <Hi, Chris with you tonight> I am really new to the salt world. I have kept freshwater fish for three years, and recently bought a 12 gallon AquaPod. <Tiny for a saltwater tank, especially for your first.> I wanted to do a reef, so my local store has been helping me get that set up. We let the little tank cycle for about a week with a thin layer of live sand (less than an inch thick) about 7 to 10 pounds of live rock. All water tests look great, with the exception of the nitrites are at .5. <Not great, nitrites need to be 0 before adding livestock.> Started off adding a turbo snail, and three blue legged hermits. Kept a close eye on all of them, and they are doing great. Dropped in some red algae, and one feather duster about three days later. All is well. <Too much too soon> So I moved on to wanting to add a fish. We purchased a Royal Gramma, and it is a riot to watch. He eats well, and is all over the tank. <Nice fish> My son wanted "Nemo" from the beginning, and I liked the Clowns as well, so I asked, and our LFS said they preferred I kept only one fish in the 12 gallon tank, but we could "probably get away with a small clown." So we bought a small False Perc. that they had. Added him yesterday, and he just sticks to the left side of the tank, and swims up and down with his reflection. Is this always going to be the case with him? Can a single clown be kept, or do they need to be in pairs to be happy? I would hate to have to get rid of my royal. He also would not even look at the shrimp I fed yesterday. Thanks for any advice you can give me. Gram M. <2 fish for a tank that size is a lot.  Plus the Gramma can be a terror, in my 46G my Gramma owns most of the tank, and is quite aggressive in keeping the clowns out of his territory.  I'm afraid in a 12G there just isn't enough room for both of them.  Really one fish is plenty for that tank.  Plus poor water quality with .5 nitrite she is getting a double whammy.> <Chris>  

New Nano Saltwater tank Part II 5/12/06 Well, this is discouraging. <Sorry> The Gramma and the clown get along fine. <Good> They were hanging out side by side today eating. My Nitrates are 0, water PH is 8.2 Ammonia .25 <MUST be 0> and the Alkalinity is at 300. The only thing that was a touch high was the nitrite, and I went off the advice of my local store. The owner there has a 12 gallon AquaPod as well that she has kept for a year, with great success. So what will happen if I leave them both in there...or what should I do at this point? Return the clown? Remove things from the tank? I sure appreciate the time you took to reply to me, and I don't want to hurt any of the fish, or coral. Gram M. <At this point I would take both fish back to the store if possible.  Have them keep them until both ammonia and nitrite are measuring 0.  That is when the tank is cycled and ready for livestock.  It can take up to 4 weeks.  Then add both fish together and be ready to change water since adding 2 fish at once can cause ammonia/nitrite to rise.  Clowns are pretty tough so he should be able to co-exist with the Gramma, but keep an eye on them to make sure.  QTing is important, please check out the articles on WWM to get more information on them.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but a little work now will make long term success much easier to achieve.  Remember, with aquariums nothing good happens fast.> <Chris>

Nano-Tank Pre-Set-Up  5/11/06 Bonjour Crew... <John.> With the best of intentions (and we all know where THOSE lead !) <Oh-yeah'¦> I took what I thought would be a time-saving shortcut setting up a new AquaPod 24 gallon reef tank. <Not a nano'¦.hehe.>   My shortcut was to add 4.5 inches of CaribSea Aragonite "sugar grain" sand (rinsed in a cloth lined colander until the flow ran clear then a final rinse with distilled water) to the empty tank, then filled the tank with more distilled water (RO/DI is on the proverbial Xmas wish list). <Okay.> Right now the water is being heated to 78 deg F and aerated with two air stones, anticipate adding Tropic Marin salt mix on Saturday the 13th (<==hope it isn't an omen) after buffering. <Well Tropic Marin isn't my first choice'¦.but salt mix choices amongst hobbyists is like arguing'¦..well I don't have an analogy but it's like something you argue over and never agree on hehe.> The really stupid question I have is: about how long will it take the water at the bottom of the DSB to reach equilibrium with the salinity of the tank water ? <Fairly quickly'¦.though to be honest I would have put the sand in after the fact.> Dredging up the residue of high school chemistry class, I *think* it should be almost instantaneously achieved but have no way to calculate a diffusion rate at all. <Relatively quickly'¦yes.> Since the tank will be left untouched till Friday the 19th (when I have scheduled delivery of 20 lbs of live rock) the salinity of the water throughout the DSB should have equalized, shouldn't it ? <Yes and since the tank has not cycled yet anyway, there is no harm in stirring, sifting it as of right now.> My confusion is enormous, but the WWM Crew ? C'est magnifique ! <Hehe, thanks for the laugh and compliment.> John <Adam Jackson.>

New Saltwater tank  - 5/5/2006 Hi guys, <Hi there> I'm looking to start a saltwater tank.  I have read a bunch of web sites for ideas, maybe to the point of too much info.  Also, I just ordered Bob's book, so I can really overload the brain. <Fun isn't it> Here is my tank(s) plan. What do you think? 29gal acrylic (30"x12.5"x17") main tank <Kind of small for a first tank but not too bad.  In a perfect world I would recommend a 40> Internal overflow in the back. (I like the safety of the internal overflow vs. losing a siphon on an over the tank but it takes up valuable space. Which way would you go? <Internal by a large margin> If you go with an internal, would a corner overflow be better (think I could hide it better in the back)? <Either one is fine> 1" bulkhead for overflow ¾" bulkhead for return 20 gal tall (24"x12.5"x17") acrylic tank for a sump 4" x 4" water intake area Urchin or Remora skimmer (can the Urchin sit on the substrate or do I need a separate skimmer area? <Better in a separate area> Can a hang on the back skimmer work in a sump where          the water line is not at the top?) <Can but not ideal> Mag 5 (or Mag 7 depending on high I build the stand) looking for around 300gal/hr <Might try to go a little bigger, you will lose flow depending on the height of the return> 11"x12.5"x13" (less the 4x4) area for refugium. 11"x12.5"x12" area for my return water. Is this a good division of the sump or what area would you increase? <Lose a little from both to make room for a dedicated skimmer area> This should give me 4-5 gallons for a power failure. <Advise testing this, skip learning the hard way if the power fails and you are not home> I wasn't planning on having a quarantine tank but after reading so many FAQ's in which you "yell" at others for not having one, I started to debate in my head if I should forget about the sump and put a quarantine tank in the cabinet.  I don't have much room in my condo.  I have decided on getting both. <EXCELLENT!!!> Is a 5 gal tank for a quarantine ok, or do I need a 10 gal? (sounds like most people use a 10 gal) If you had to choose between the two which way would you go?  <Ten is better, I have used fives in the past, can be a bit demanding, but five is better than none for sure.  These are temporary tanks so they can be put away between uses, so bigger is better.>   Glasscages.com is coming to Boston the first weekend in June so I would have to order my tanks soon if I go with them, and have them customized for me. (If it isn't already too late, but I just found their site.) <Lots of acrylic manufactures out there so if they can't make the one you like look around.> Thanks for your input. James <Sounds like you are on the right path to success.> <Chris>

New 10g Nano    5/2/06 Hello Crew! <Hello Dr. M!> It has been a while. Hope all is well in WWM land. <All good here.> Well as they say "2 is better than 1", I am in the process of starting a 10g Nano. Like my 120g reef tank is not enough. <Ha!  I know what you mean, but be careful here -- much different than dealing with a 120gal.> My wife thinks I am crazy, she is probably right! <We might all be.> Anyway my question is, when is the best time to start adding fish and corals? <After it has all cycled -- more like a month time frame.  Like I said above, much different here because of how easily water parameters can swing.  So better safe than sorry.> Currently I have 12lbs of live rock in the tank. The tank has been going for about a week. I have a simple Tetra hang on filter (with Carbon filter bag), CPR Bak-Pak 2 Protein skimmer, Current 2 x40 Watt Dual Satellite with 40 Watt 10000K White/7100K Blue (50/50) PowerCompact Bulbs. I have tested my water and my ph is 8.3, Ca 400, Alk 4, Nitrate and Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, <All good, but still I would wait longer than a week.  Its possible you haven't begun the cycle yet!> My plan was to have a nice mix of soft corals, and maybe some LPS. In addition maybe a pair of clowns and some other small inverts (shrimp, crabs). <Remember not too much here.  Just two fish would be plenty.> Should I add the fish first then wait a period of time before I add the corals? <Yes, just in case there is a drastic ammonia swing -- which is VERY possible after adding fish.> Thanks. When I started my 120g about 1.5 years ago I had a local woman (who owned the LFS help me with the set up). She made some mistakes and I learned from those mistakes. I just want to make the right decisions early on so I can avoid killing any marine life. <We all make mistakes in this hobby.  You just get as informed as you can! Good luck, Jen S.> Dr. M

Sm. marine plumbing Qs   4/28/06 Hello,      I have been reading through your site for quite some time now. I am now ready to take a plunge into plumbing a small set-up. (I have too much time on my hands and not enough space for a larger tank.) My tank is 29 gallons, sitting on a 36 inch stand. I plan on using schedule 40 PVC and small flexible pieces to hook up the SCWD. Please take a look at my attached diagram and let me know if you see any disasters waiting to happen. <Mmm... are you planning on drilling the tank through the bottom to fit the return? Relying on a check valve should the pump/ing fail? I would NOT do this. This line should be run over the top... The one inch return line is inadequate for a Mag 7... The valve shown on the return is unnecessary> Should I change my drain line to 2 45 degree elbows in order to eliminate the horizontal run? <Mmm, likely won't make much difference here if this is kept as one inch I.D.... will siphon w/o air... With upgrading to a larger diameter, I would change the ells out> I am hoping to get somewhere around 400 gph on the return. Does this sound about right to you (roughly)? Thanks for taking the time to help! Steve <Steve, take a read through our plumbing articles, FAQs: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm A bunch more to consider, ponder before cutting and solventing here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sm. marine plumbing Qs  4/29/06
Thanks for the quick response. Sorry, the diagram does not show my return adequately. The tank is drilled only for the drain line. I do plan on running the return over the back, so the siphon will break in case of power failure. <Ah, good> The check valve was added as an extra precaution. You said that a one inch return would be inadequate for a Mag 7. I plan on using a 3/4 " return line. Is this inadequate? If so what size return do you recommend? <... for the return, an inch and a half> From my research, the Mag 7 should pump about 450 gph at a 5 foot head. I am hoping that the 90's will slow this down to around 400 gph. <Mmm... I would over-size this and all returns. As you will find, with screening, use, they tend to "run slow"... Bob Fenner>

Nano DSB  - 04/26/06 I am a huge fan of the DSB and have had great success with it in my 75 gallon reef tank at home (thanks to the info on wetwebmedia.com). I have now started a 24 gallon Aquapod at work so I can enjoy my reef all day. <Very cool!  I want one at work too!  But just remember -- you're working with a whole different animal here now that you limited your water volume to such a small amount.> I employed a 4 1/4" oolitic sandbed with 25-30 lbs of LR. <Sounds nice -- however severely limits your volume once again, you will have to be much more careful here, won't be as forgiving as your 75g> I also threw in a couple scoops of sand from my DSB at home to seed it with some pods and worms. The tank is stocked with 2 small chromis, a very small ocellaris and the usual assortment of janitors. <Just fine amount of bioload here.> Corals include a pom pom xenia, star polyps, Fungia sp, assorted zoo's, 2 Ricordea yuma, and other various mushrooms. The Nitrate has steadily risen in the Aquapod (unlike my tank at home that has had undetectable levels for almost 2 years) it's currently around 50ppm after 2 months. <Ouch, much too high here -- especially stressful for your inverts.  You have much too much in this tank given its only 2 months old.> Is the DSB just not deep enough for a volume this small, maybe it needs more time? <I wouldn't add anymore sand here, you already have little water.> I don't think the bioload is anywhere near "too much" fish wise and I feed very sparingly. <Bioload is fine.> I run a micron filter pad, changed daily and use RO for top off. I'm planning on buying a little skimmer for it, but don't have great confidence in the cheap ones that can fit in an aquarium like this (current's fission skimmer). <Absolutely must have a skimmer here.  Personally I've found that the fission doesn't do much.  Adding a sump/refugium with a better skimmer like the Remora, would be the best option.> Would it be worth slowly adding another inch or so of sand? <I wouldn't, no.> Any ideas are appreciated. For now I'm just going to go back to weekly water changes until I get things figured out. <Keep up your water changes, it is possible that you haven't quite cycled completely though.  You're really high and you have enough in there to add to it daily.  Next time, with a volume so small, I would wait a little longer than you did before adding inverts precisely for this reason.  Good luck, Jen S.> Thanks so much, Jeremy
Re: nano DSB For Jen S.
 4/27/06 Thanks for your reply Jen. <No problem Jeremy!> Your right, that is a lot of coral for a 2 month old tank. They have all been frags from my big tank so pretty much free (it's hard to resist bringing them with me to work!). <I get you here!> Anyways, I  just wanted to let you know that if you really do want a nano for work, fostersmith is selling these 24 aquapods on special for only $169(shipping was $13 so its like 25% cheaper than I've seen anywhere) for the next week or 2. <Thanks for the info -- I ALWAYS order from them, but I don't believe I'll ever go nano reef tank again (I have a 12gal up and running among others.)  There are just too many mod.s to make to these already built systems.> They do run a bit hot and we had to mod them with some additional fans in the light cavity and some breathing ports on the outer shell to evaporate the condensation. <Great mod.s, you should have seen me adding proper lighting to an eclipse hood!> All and all I am pretty happy with them so far. I'm going to try and shave 1/4 off of a Berlin airlift 60 skimmer nice and quite plus no extra wattage in the tank) crossing my fingers....it should fit in the back chamber. <Great luck!  I just added a sump/refugium to add the skimmer into, among the many other benefits.  Thanks again for the info!  Jen S.> Thanks again! Jeremy

Small system set-up, stocking  - 04/02/06 Dear WWM crew: Thanks for your valuable, inexhaustible volumes of information. <You're welcome.> I've spent months researching and setting up and my first saltwater tank is ready to go. I've held out on asking any questions till now but felt I had to run this by you before I added any livestock. My system is: 30 gallon long, plus 10 gallon sump/wet-dry built into the back. I removed the bioballs and converted the space to a ~6 gallon refugium with a 5-in. DSB, a few small pieces of live rock, and clump of Chaetomorpha. <Very good idea doing this.> I diverted some of the flow to maintain ~15x turnover, and light it with an 18 watt PC, alternating day/night with main tank. <Most, including myself leave the refugium lighting on 24/7.> The sump also has a Clear-for-life venturi skimmer, foam filters, and a carbon bag. My tank has 40 lbs. live rock, 1 inch aragonite sand, 130 watt PC 10000K 50-50 lighting, Rio 1700 powerhead. I had a bit of a BGA bloom after I added the LR, but things seem to have stabilized after a few weeks of regular water changes and the addition of the Chaetomorpha and 20 Margarita and a few Cerith snails. My parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, ~5 nitrates (forgot the units...is it ppm?). <Yes> I'm using natural seawater from Scripps (with fingers crossed). As for fishes, I'd like to add (in this order?) an Ocellaris clown, a Royal Gramma, and a fourline wrasse. I've read the wrasse can be a bit aggressive, especially with snails. Would this be a wise addition? <No> I love their playful behavior, but have heard conflicting information, so please advise. Maybe a fairy wrasse, instead? <Much better, more interesting/colorful.> I'd also like to add a pair of neon gobies, but might they be picked on by the others, even if I added them first? <Don't believe so, but Neon Gobies are very aggressive among themselves unless they are a mated pair, so caution should be used here if adding two.> And would they mind only having 1-inch of sand to dig in?  <Wouldn't mind.> I'd also love to hear if you have a favorite, perhaps an active, under-appreciated fish I could add in place of the wrasse or gobies that might coexist more peacefully. <A Yellow Watchman Goby will work.> I'd had my heard set on a Rainford's goby, but now think my small system will not provide the sustenance needed. True? <No, they will accept most foods, do need at least two inches of sand for these guys.> Down the road, I'd also like to add a few soft corals, like a pulsing xenia and green star polyp. Thanks so much for reading, I look forward to your advice. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Scott, San Diego

Nano and Plenums   3/25/06 First off, thanks for the wonderful resources this site provides and the job you guys are doing. <Welcome> I'm currently downgrading a 40 gallon FOWLR into a 20L Reef system.  I am considering setting up a plenum system to achieve natural denitrification. <Mmm, these have largely fallen out of favor... more likely problematical in small/er volumes> My thoughts are to use 1.5" of crushed coral on the bottom with 1.5" of livesand on the top. I was using a DSB in my 40, but I have an Orange Spot Goby (*Amblyeleotris guttata) *that likes to dig down to the bottom and it seems because of that, I get limited areas for denitrification. <Yes, likely so. If you go this route, with two different substrates, I'd add a layer of "screen door" (non-metal of course), twixt them> I plan on running a Sea Clear 150 Skimmer on the system, and filtration will consist of a magnum 350 with the return water passing through a Laguna 1000 8W UV Sterilizer. Water movement will be 2 powerheads and spray bar return from the canister filter. I have plans to add a small dump bucket system down the line for surge. Tank will have 1.5 Gallon Refugium lit 24 hours a day with a Coralife 10W 50/50 Bulb. Tank lighting will be 2X 65W PC (110 Total Watts). Tank will have 30 LBS of mature Fiji Rock elevated on slate platforms above the substrate. Livestock load is light consisting of 1 Orange Goby, 1 Cinnamon Clown and 1 Neon Velvet Damsel <I hope these Pomacentrids get along> with no plans to add any other fish. Corals added will more than likely consist primarily of Zooanthids, Ricordea, Mushrooms and Xenia. Base Maintenance will be 20% changes every two days, and top off daily with mix of RO and Tap water. <Sounds do-able> Now, that being said, with the equipment being used and good husbandry, will the Plenum system be overkill or take up so much space in the small volume as to useless?. <Only experience can/will tell> Would I be better served running 2-3" of substrate and perhaps a Flame Scallop or Clam with lower lighting requirement to filter the water instead of relying on denitrification. <Mmm, no to these choices/alternatives> I am also considering adding a small BTA for the clownfish separate from the corals. <Mmm, no> Will the 5-6 W of  light per gallon (assuming some displacement of total water volume due to rock and sand) be sufficient to support a BTA in the long term?  Any advice you guys can provide would certainly be appreciated. <I would not add, mix an anemone with the other cnidarians in such a system... size, type. Bob Fenner>

Starting a mini-reef  3/25/06 Hello, my name is Scott <Hi Scott - Tim answering your question today!>. I was reading over your site and found it very informative <Very glad to hear that.>. I do however have a few questions that you may be able to answer. I would like to start a reef tank. I have had friends that kept them in the past, and I have always been fascinated by them. I have one serious draw back though. Money <Don't worry - no one ever has enough money for a reef tank... the more you have the more you spend!>. I have the opportunity to buy a 25 gal. <Small for a reef tank> glass tank from a friend for $50, but reading the info on your site about small systems has me second guessing. I know I can afford the maintenance and stocking as necessary, it's the initial build up that worries me. As I am currently deployed with the Army, I don't have the option of talking to local vendors to assess what it will take monetarily to get started. Given that I haven't ever done this before, I am unsure of what equipment would be needed, and thus, checking vendors' sites is like trying to read Greek. I was just wondering if you could clue me in on what I need, or if you knew of an economical way to accomplish my goal. <Have a look at eBay - you can very often buy a complete set up second hand for a small fraction of the original cost! Otherwise you will need - the aquarium, a powerful filter, a heater, a protein skimmer, high wattage lighting (for a reef, metal halides are the best option), substrate such as aragonite and live rock, critters and additives. This will allow you to keep basic corals - though many of the more demanding corals will require RO water, a calcium reactor and other more specialized equipment. In this hobby it does really seem that the sky is the limit in terms of equipment that you can add, but the initial list above is the must haves for a successful reef.> I don't want anything extravagant at first, just sweet simplicity for learning sake. <Consider a fish only marine system to begin with - you will be able to save a lot of money on lighting and may be able to use a lower rated protein skimmer.> Maybe one day I'll be able to build a beautiful and working ecosystem in a tank, but on my current soldier's salary I can't. This will be my last deployment, so the time will be there. I just need to know if there is a way to do it without having to eat Top Raman for a year. <Afraid not! Sorry>   Thanks for your help   SGT Scott McWilliams

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