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FAQs on Brackish Water Livestock in General

Related Articles: Brackish Livestock, Brackish Water Livestock Selection by Neale Monks,  Purchasing, Transporting and Settling New  Freshwater/Brackish Water Livestock by Neale Monks Brackish Plants, Fresh to Brackish Fishes, Brackish Invertebrates

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A nice Knight Goby.

Marine and Brackish ideas for a 5 gallon aquarium; Neale/BR      8/3/17
Hey Bob. Just out of curiosity what sort of Marine life would you recommend for a 6 gallon aquarium? I have some Ideas for small creatures such as freshwater shrimp, but no real clue for marine. Nor brackish. Any
suggestions on marine or brackish creatures I could keep in a 5 gallon aquarium?
<For brackish, you're a bit limited by what's commercially traded.
Bumblebee and Rhinohorn Gobies are two possibilities, but I'm a huge fan of Australian Desert Gobies for being much more interesting and easier to breed. They're little better than annuals though, and notorious jumpers, so
you do want to get a group, keep them securely, and get them breeding (which they will, and the fry are big and as easy to rear as Kribs). I'm not aware of much else that'd fit 5 gallons that's widely or even sporadically traded though. Even the smaller brackish water livebearers such as Micropoecilia really need a bit more space than that, though I dare say people have kept them in "nano" tanks at times. Ditto brackish water killifish. On the other hand, there is the brackish water Betta species Betta mahachaiensis, and a singleton might be viable in 5 gallons (mixed sex groups would surely need more space, as per Betta splendens and other bubblenest species). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Marine and Brackish ideas for a 5 gallon aquarium       8/3/17

Thank you Neal
<Most welcome.>

Big brackish tank - livestock selection & build     4/14/17
I've written to you several times and have always gotten great advice!
Thank you!
<Hey Meghan, Earl here today.>
I have a violet dragon goby that I want to build a big tank for, but I also want to create something really special and have some ideas I want to run past you.
<The size of these guys is such that they would really appreciate the long, low tank you mention below.>
I'm going to build a huge plywood & glass aquarium - 8 ft long, 4 ft wide, and 4 ft deep. I only want to fill it to a depth of about 30 inches so I can make it into a paludarium style tank with above water plants along the back & sides. If my calculations are right, it will hold about 350 gallons of water.
<Very ambitious but excellent! This is a great example of the kind of unusual tank that also represents a biotype. There is a reason you see them in public aquariums these days...a habitat to hopefully inspire and educate
more than being a garden or zoo, if that makes sense. I am definitely inspired by these and a paludarium has been on my to-do list for a long long time! Would love to hear updates as you go, pics, etc. for "prosperity" on WWM. There is a dearth of info online about this and your experiences executing it would be valuable.>
My dream is to use it to house some unusual brackish aquatic critters. SG 1.010 to 1.012. Temp in the mid to high 70's. Use a protein skimmer and sump for filtration.
<I cannot speak as to the functionality of a skimmer in a brackish tank like this but I can say that mechanical filtration, probably carbon as well, would be vital, especially with the debris that plants and their accompanying silt/soil would create. What I would do is definitely to visit public aquaria, maybe zoos or arboretums, park nature centers as well, and try to get hold of the people in charge of their setups. Many of them will be more than willing to chat about this and would be absolutely invaluable resources you will have a very hard time finding elsewhere. Not sure about your location but the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has a large amount of these setups. Also ask people who keep Amazonian frogs (so-called poison dart frogs and similar). You will be creating something that is also akin to a pond in some ways so people who deal with those (vs. people who are strictly aquarists) may be of use.>
My ideal stock list is as follows:
6+ Indian mudskippers (P. novemradiatus)
3+ fiddler crabs (whichever I can get)
6 banded archer fish (T. jaculatrix)
1 violet dragon goby (G. broussonnetii)
8+ four eye fish (whichever I can get my hands on)
12+ blue leg hermit crabs (C. tricolor)
I have been researching this combo and have run into stern advice against putting many of these together, including on wet web media. But it seemed to me many of the issues revolved around too little space or the large fish making the mud skippers reticent to enter the water. If I can solve these problems they all seem to need the same kind of temperatures, do well in similar salinities, etc. If I can pull it off, it would be one heck of a tank!
<It'd be hard to overstate the number or severity of problems that are primarily tied to crowding issues. The setup you propose could indeed help with this but have a plan B. Having animals from a similar region is the way to go IMHO. Offhand, paludarium can/should be segmented via a series of walls or weirs and that could be used to mitigate the issue of the skippers avoiding deeper water with large fish. Possibly helping them ease into deeper water as they desire over time? Just spitballin', there is a near limitless number of ways to set this up especially if you build from scratch. Very exciting.>
I've been thinking about how to build an environment where they will all feel comfortable, and my idea is as follows:
On one side of the tank build a shallow area where the water is only a few inches deep (against the front of the tank), that then slopes up to a sandy land area (against the back) for the mudskippers & fiddler crabs. Put some
plants & rocks/caves along the back of this beach. On the side of the shallow water & beach have a steep slope into deeper water.
<Sounds good. Again, check out other displays for inspiration.>
I'm debating how to build this slope & shallows/beach.
I'm thinking a "false bottom" like you see in dart frog vivariums.
Basically a hallow, permeable support structure for drainage with a circulation pump underneath. Wrap it with fiberglass screen and put the sand/gravel substrate on top.
<Beware of fiberglass screens. I myself had a sad "adventure" with them several years back which you can read about on WWM that involved a tank wipe due to the fact that some fiberglass is impregnated with a fireproofing substance that is toxic. Be on the lookout. On another note, the plan you describe seems very high maintenance, perhaps even overly complex. I find the low-tech, low-maintenance route the way to go whenever possible. Especially if it's more failsafe. Ask yourself, "if this needs taken apart, how possible will that be and will I be willing to do it?"
Again, hard to nail this down without going so far as to draw out some blueprints.>
I could completely enclose the underwater area beneath (and hide the heater, pumps, etc here).
<Easily hidden behind plants, rocks, but must be easily accessible for maintenance.>
Or I could make it open, like an underwater ledge or overhang. Use disguised pillars to support it. I bet the violet goby would appreciate the shadowy, protected area. Then maybe add a sculpted ramp against the rear wall of the tank - all the way up to the beach, so if the crabs or mudskippers end up in deeper water they can more easily climb back to the surface.
<Now you're talking! Another idea is to let the return flow from a pump let out water over the ramp as a spillway. Several advantages: natural-looking, grows some useful algae, diffuses laminar flow, adds interesting movement
for the animals, will cause some evaporation which is probably desirable in this case...humidity.>
I could even sculpt a permeable underwater lip at the edge of the shallows to discourage them from getting in trouble. Add emergent plant stalks, root-like structures and floating plants along the edge to keep the larger fish at a distance to make the mudskippers more comfortable.
<As is the case in nature...animals who can simply avoid others when they desire are calmer, healthier.>
Then for the four eye fish, build a second ledge all the way across the back wall of the tank with a narrow land area that slopes into the water and then flattens out. Put plants on the land, and add some roots and floating plants at the edge of the underwater ledge to create a secure feeling area where the four eye fish can beach themselves and rest. Would this work? I read somewhere that the resting area should be in the middle of the tank, but no explanation was given for why.
<Watch out for too many species-specific modifications that may not be desirable down the road and may be a bit of a Rube Goldberg device. Do you really need separate ledges and so on for two amphibious species? I can
tell you that in the wild, mud skippers are perfectly fine hanging out on large roots, plants hanging into the water, shells, broken wooden palettes, iron barrels.....you get the idea. As long as they have a way to get out of the water plus some sand to beach on, they are golden. Point being simply that you don't need several separate habitats in one tank. Try to boil it down to be as simple yet effective as possible. What is actually *strictly* needed? Then go from there.>
The fringe of plants along the back and edge can be where I release insects for the archers to shoot at.
On the bottom create some caves & whatnot for the violet goby to dig & hang out in.
Let the blue leg crabs be the clean up crew on the bottom.
<Likely will need tens of these but they will be very interesting to watch and add a lot visually.>
I figure I'll use fake plants because of the high salinity and I don't want to constantly have to trim them in such a
deep tank.
<Ah well that changes a lot but at least consider mosses and at least a few contained/potted live plants. Artificial vines hung about would add a lot.
Also java ferns are easy. I will direct this also to the pond crew here at WWM who are past masters on that subject. See also http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/v4i2/brackish%20systems/brackish.htm 
and one of my favorites http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mangrovetrees.htm.
My main concerns are preventing anyone from getting munched or drowning and providing a healthy and appropriate environment for all of the critters.
<Those are the main things to keep in mind, or course. I'd add "maintenance that's easy to keep up" and "everybody gets good nutrition" and all bases are covered, I'd say.>
I'd appreciate any advice.
Thank you!
<NP and keep us posted!>
Big brackish tank - livestock selection & build     /Neale        4/17/17

I've written to you several times and have always gotten great advice!
Thank you!
<Most welcome.>
I have a violet dragon goby that I want to build a big tank for, but I also want to create something really special and have some ideas I want to run past you.
I'm going to build a huge plywood & glass aquarium - 8 ft long, 4 ft wide, and 4 ft deep. I only want to fill it to a depth of about 30 inches so I can make it into a palladarium style tank with above water plants along the back & sides. If my calculations are right, it will hold about 350 gallons of water.
<The mind boggles!>
My dream is to use it to house some unusual brackish aquatic critters. SG 1.010 to 1.012. Temp in the mid to high 70's. Use a protein skimmer and sump for filtration.
My ideal stock list is as follows:
6+ Indian mudskippers (P. novemradiatus)
3+ fiddler crabs (whichever I can get)
6 banded archer fish (T. jaculatrix)
1 violet dragon goby (G. broussonnetii)
8+ four eye fish (whichever I can get my hands on)
12+ blue leg hermit crabs (C. tricolor)
<Some interesting ideas there. But...>
I have been researching this combo and have run into stern advice against putting many of these together, including on wet web media. But it seemed to me many of the issues revolved around too little space or the large fish
making the mudskippers reticent to enter the water.
<Correct. It may be possible in giant tanks -- I've seen large Mudskippers, probably West African Mudskippers, combined with Scats and Monos at the London Aquarium, for example -- but those Mudskippers are the length of
your forearm, and much bolder than most other species.>
If I can solve these problems they all seem to need the same kind of temperatures, do well in similar salinities, etc. If I can pull it off, it would be one heck of a tank!
<I'd say!>
I've been thinking about how to build an environment where they will all feel comfortable, and my idea is as follows:
On one side of the tank build a shallow area where the water is only a few inches deep (against the front of the tank), that then slopes up to a sandy land area (against the back) for the mudskippers & fiddler crabs. Put some plants & rocks/caves along the back of this beach. On the side of the shallow water & beach have a steep slope into deeper water. I'm debating how to build this slope & shallows/beach. I'm thinking a "false bottom" like you see in dart frog vivariums. Basically a hallow, permeable support structure for drainage with a circulation pump underneath. Wrap it with fiberglass screen and put the sand/gravel substrate on top.
<Makes sense, and the Mudskippers would be happy using a pool of water to bathe in, while avoiding another part of the set-up with bigger fish in it.>
I could completely enclose the underwater area beneath (and hide the heater, pumps, etc here).
Or I could make it open, like an underwater ledge or overhang. Use disguised pillars to support it. I bet the violet goby would appreciate the shadowy, protected area. Then maybe add a sculpted ramp against the rear wall of the tank - all the way up to the beach, so if the crabs or mudskippers end up in deeper water they can more easily climb back to the surface.
I could even sculpt a permeable underwater lip at the edge of the shallows to discourage them from getting in trouble. Add emergent plant stalks, root-like structures and floating plants along the edge to keep the larger fish at a distance to make the mudskippers more comfortable.
<All sounds very imaginative.>
Then for the four eye fish, build a second ledge all the way across the back wall of the tank with a narrow land area that slopes into the water and then flattens out. Put plants on the land, and add some roots and floating plants at the edge of the underwater ledge to create a secure feeling area where the four eye fish can beach themselves and rest. Would this work? I read somewhere that the resting area should be in the middle of the tank, but no explanation was given for why.
<It's simply easier in "box" tanks. Anableps will rest on anything flat, and in the wild, that'd be the "beach" part of the river or mangrove.>
The fringe of plants along the back and edge can be where I release insects for the archers to shoot at.
On the bottom create some caves & whatnot for the violet goby to dig & hang out in.
Let the blue leg crabs be the clean up crew on the bottom.
I figure I'll use fake plants because of the high salinity and I don't want to constantly have to trim them in such a deep tank.
<Agreed, unless you use true saltwater plants, such as mangroves or even seagrasses, both of which *can* be grown in tanks, though they are demanding.>
My main concerns are preventing anyone from getting munched or drowning and providing a healthy and appropriate environment for all of the critters.
I'd appreciate any advice.
<Archers are carnivores that will take anything they can swallow. Toxotes microlepis is the smallest brackish water one, and ideal for this set-up because you can keep several (they can be bullies) without needing a huge volume of water or worrying about carnivory too much. Mudskippers will eat bite-sized crabs, so be careful combining them. I'd probably add some Mollies simply for algae control, but there are some brackish water Nerites out there that'd do an even better job. I don't personally recommend mixing Anableps with anything bigger or more aggressive than they are because they're super-nervous animals prone to miscarriages when stressed. I think Violet Gobies, Mudskippers, crabs, and perhaps Mollies would be fine, but the Archers might be a bit much for them unless the Anableps were a good size. Do also look at true Green Chromides (Etroplus suratensis) when you get a chance. Gorgeous schooling fish, and quite peaceful. They get along well with Archers, Monos, etc.>
Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Big brackish tank - livestock selection & build      4/19/17

Hi Neal,
Thank you for your reply!
I realized I got the gallons wrong for the tank. Filled to 30 inches it will hold almost 600 gallons, not 350 like I stated before. So I have more water to work with!
It sounds like the Anableps are much more nervous than I thought. I don't want them to be miserable.
<I doubt they will be miserable, but they are nervous. In the wild they occupy a habitat where fish are extremely vulnerable to predators. Little depth of water to hide from birds, but at the same time escaping from predatory fish is difficult because if they go the wrong way they can end up on dry land. So Anableps have those marvelous eyes that allow them to see predators above AND below the waterline, and alongside that, behaviours
that mean they react very quickly to anything unusual or risky. They work best on their own, or possibly alongside other shallow water specialists, such as Mollies.>
I really want the archers, I've dreamed about them since I first saw a nature special as a little girl. So I will scratch the four eye fish off of the list.
<Understood. Or alternatively, if the tank is huge, divided it into two halves, with a rocky barrier in the middle for the Mudskippers. If the Archers and Anableps are in separate halves, while the dry land bit is decorated to look like a seashore or mangrove, the tank would work nicely AND look pretty cool!>
Can the Toxotes microlepis (hope I spelled that right) handle water with an SG of 1.010 - 1.012? I think I read somewhere they are best at very low salinity.
<Correct; I'd be going for SG 1.005, which is fine for almost all the common brackish species; Anableps, Mollies, Mudskippers, Chromides; etc.>
If they can, I'd love to use the smaller species of archer fish - I could use more of them and I think a school of 12+ would be stunning!
<Quite so. In groups they're a lot more docile and well behaved. Singletons are safe but nervous, while twos and threes tend to be bullies towards each other.>
Those green Chromides are gorgeous! I'd love to include them but have one concern: my violet goby is a slow eater and often backs off of food if there are very boisterous, persistent fish at the food. I had him in a tank
with 8 Sailfin Molly adults and they drove him away from the food so much that I moved them because the goby was getting thin.
<Understood. Chromides and Archers mix very well, eating different foods; the Chromides being more omnivores with a taste for plant foods, while the Archers are strict carnivores that feed from the surface. I'd expect the
Archers and Violet Goby to work well too, since the Archers won't feed much from the bottom, and aren't well adapted to feeding on tiny plankton like brine shrimp that Violet Gobies love.>
Do you think the green Chromides would present the same problem?
<Possibly, since the Green Chromides will happily consume foods from the bottom as well as brine shrimp.>
I really would like to have some kind of mid water fish, but haven't found any I'm sure about.
<If this tank was divided into two, as suggested above, the Violet Goby could be kept with small things like Guppies, and probably Orange Chromides, a dwarf species that shouldn't pose much threat to an adult Violet Goby. On the other half could be the Archers, Green Chromides and Mollies, plus anything like a Silver Scat that took your fancy.>
Thank you!
- Meghan
<Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish water setup.  And stkg. f'     9/11/16
Greetings, people at WetWebMedia. I hope you are doing alright!
I want to set up a brackish aquarium, and I was considering some stocking ideas, so far the most appealing setup to me is the next one:
125 gallon aquarium, Sg 1.005, mildly planted with Java fern, Crinum spp and maybe Lilaeopsis brasiliensis if I can manage to pull it off in brackish aquaria, a few big driftwood pieces and tree stumps at the corners, kind of giving that submerged river feel.
<Understood. Unless you're widely tied to SG 1.005, I'd honestly lower that to 1.003 for the sake of the plants. That's still 10% seawater salinity, so ample for the species you describe below. On the other hand, if you make sure the water is nice and hard, that'll offset the slightly reduced salinity a bit. So 15-20 degrees dH for example, and at least 5 degrees KH, for a pH around 7.5 to 8.0.>
Fish stocking: 2 Violet gobies, 5 Etroplus Maculatus, 3 Toxotes jaculatrix, 5 Sailfin mollies, 2 local flounders: I don't know the species of the flounders, but there are wild specimens that can be caught in a mangrove system locally, I live in El Salvador, central American, by the way. A few people have successfully kept these flounders for a few years in brackish water.

<Agreed; most problems with flounders aren't salinity but feeding. They're not easy to feed, especially when very small.>
How does this sound?
As always, thanks, for your time!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Brackish water setup.      9/11/16

Tap water comes out at 10 GH and 10 KH (I don't measure DH? how does it correlate to GH and KH? I use GH and KH because that's what's used for high tech planted tanks)
<GH is simply the acronym for "general hardness" and is measured in degrees dH. So they're the same thing.>
PH anything between 7.9 and 8.1. So very hard already, I have to mix some RO water for my Apistos and even some plants. So I guess Sg 1.003 is viable, then.
I would be using salt mix, do I need to use RO water like one would for a marine tank? or can I just mix it with the tap?
<Tap water is fine. Brackish water fish are generally much more adaptable than marines, and the key thing is that nitrate isn't the nuisance in a brackish tank that it is in a marine tank. At a low salinity, some fast-growing plants will help you control algae.>
About the flounders: fellow aquarists report they take freeze dried Tubifex and Ramshorn snails (shell removed) very easily. I actually have a tank for breeding Ramshorns to live feed my Apistos to get them into spawning. I guess this is enough? however, I don't know the species... how much can I expect these to grow? they are generally caught at 2 cm diameter, the biggest I've seen is a 6 cm diameter.
<Most of the species kept successfully can get to about 15 cm in length, so pretty big. A variety of foods is important, and some species are nocturnal. They're not difficult to keep as such, but if they don't get food, they'll starve.>
Thanks for your time!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Brackish water setup.      9/11/16

Sorry about the double response...
<No problem.>
But I need to know, how stocked would this tank be when the fish are adults? am I nearing total capacity or would it be moderately/lightly stocked? I would prefer a lightly stocked tank, I intend to do 40% water changes every two weeks due to the time it takes preparing the water and haul the water containers/pump plus my high tech planted tanks and catfish tank. I would prefer something with less maintenance.
<Understood. Your 125 gallon tank has plenty of space for a couple Violet Gobies, and archer (I'd keep these singly or in largish groups; pairs and trios can be snappy) and a few other fish of that size. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish Tank Questions; stkg., substrate, fdg.      4/15/16
Hi, I haven't had an aquarium in a while and I'm thinking about getting back into the hobby. In particular, I'd like to start a low-end (SG 1.002-1.003) brackish community tank in the 29 gallon aquarium sitting empty in my basement. I have some questions relating to stocking, substrate, and feeding.
<Fire away!>
First off, my tentative stocking plan is:
(1) Peacock spiny eel (Macrognathus siamensis) OR (1) Barred spiny eel (M. panacalus)
<Either should work here, though Macrognathus pancalus is arguably the more truly brackish of these species. Neither will want much salt though; 1.002 should be ample. Lower salinity will also ensure plants can grow well, especially Indian Fern, a definite plus here for stopping Spiny Eels from being jumpy.>
(1) Male and (2-3) female short-finned mollies
(2) Orange Chromides
<Generally fine, though as territorial as any other cichlid of this size.>
(1-3) Knight gobies
<Nice fish, and will ensure no baby mollies survive!>
Would this be overstocked?
<Nope. Busy, yes; overstocked, no. Just keep on top of filtration and water changes.>
I'm also concerned that in a 29, a pair of Chromides might become tyrants if they decided to breed.
<Always a risk.>
If you think that would be the case, I'll either reduce the Chromides to a singleton or remove them from the plan completely. (If you think this setup would be overstocked, they're also my first choice on what to eliminate.) I'm also wondering if even provided enough hiding spaces, the 29 might be too small for multiple knight gobies. How many do you think would be ideal for this setup?
<Two females and a male should be okay.>
On to substrate, I have a bag of CaribSea Sunset Gold sand laying around my house. Would that be soft enough for the spiny eel, or should I stick to buying some silica sand?
<I've not handled this brand of sand personally, but if it feels smooth rather than sharp, it's probably fine. That said, pool filter sand/smooth silica sand is so cheap, you might want to play it safe and go straight for that.>
Additionally, what depth of sand would be best to allow the spiny eel room to burrow but not to risk anaerobic decay? Does 2" sound about right?
<Sounds fine.>
As for feeding concerns, I want to make sure that the plant-based foods for the mollies and the meat-based foods for the other species wouldn't cause any health problems if the other party ate some of it. I also would like
some advice for feeding a balanced diet to the spiny eel and knight goby.
I know that spiny eels go crazy for earthworms, and I suspect that the knight goby would enjoy them, too.
<Yes! Very much so. Knight Gobies are very much predators.>
However, I'm a bit confused as to which of the big three in aquatic feeder worms (bloodworms, blackworms, and Tubifex worms) is most nutritious and least likely to carry diseases.
<Not much in it, to be honest. Tubifex have a very bad reputation, probably justified. But bloodworms and blackworms aren't exactly cultured in crystal clear pools of French mineral water! On the other hand, if gamma
irradiated, they shouldn't carry any pathogens, and if used sparingly, the risk from introducing heavy metals, for example, shouldn't be too serious.
That said, marine aquarium foods like krill and fortified brine shrimp are certainly safer and usually accepted readily.>
I've seen claims in favor of or against all three of them, even here on Wet Web Media. I'd sort of like to start a culture of one of these in one of the smaller empty tanks as an easy source of live food, but I don't know which would be best for the fish.
<If you're growing them yourself, they're probably all reasonably safe.>
I intend to buy wet-frozen krill as another food for the goby.
Do you think that the eel would also eat those?
<Yes; spiny eels are hesitant feeders, and nocturnal to boot, but they aren't over-fussy. My specimens have happily taken chunks of prawn, for
I also know that any and all molly fry will probably end up knight goby
<Oh yes!>
What other foods would be good for one or both of them?
<See above.>
Some of the things I commonly see suggested, such as lobster eggs, aren't available in my area as far as I know,
<Do try stores aimed at marine aquarists.>
and others, like tilapia, I don't think my parents would approve of buying seafood sold for human use to feed to pets.
<So far as seafood goes, one approach is to buy white fish or squid for yourself, and wrap the scraps in some aluminium foil and place it in the freezer. Your fish aren't fussy, and for a few weeks at least such scraps will contain sufficient useful nutrition.>
If I do get the Chromides, I plan on using one or two brands of cichlid pellet or flake food for a staple, in addition to the smaller varieties of worms.
Finally, for the mollies I'll provide some sort of spirula-based flake food, and maybe algae tablets, but I'd also like to give them fresh veggies. When I see stuff like this mentioned, I always hear that you should blanch the vegetables and put them in the tank when they've cooled off, but I never see any recommendation for how long to cook the veggies.
Is there some sort of good rule of thumb for that?
<None. The blanching thing is about softening, not cooking. Zapping lettuce in the microwave for a few seconds usually does the trick. But lettuce is nutrient poor and shouldn't be anything more than a "salad bar" that goes
along with the main course, i.e., the good quality flake. Some foods, like cucumber, can be left in the tank to soften naturally, and the fish will peck away at over time. Since these foods contain near-zero protein, their impact on water quality is minimal, even if they end up as horrible mush.>
Thanks for the help.
<Welcome. Sounds a nice tank and well planned! Cheers, Neale.>

My Tank; stkg. sm. FW        9/22/15
I have a 10 gallon tank with an African bumblebee catfish
<Which one? Microsynodontis batesii? A small, somewhat sensitive riverine fish.>
and a Pleco ( I know the Pleco gets too big, I'm putting it in a bigger tank when it grows).
<I'll say! 75 gallons if you want clear water; 55 gallons absolute minimum but that'll be a tank with fish faeces all over the place.>
Could I put two Figure 8 puffers
<Brackish water fish; will not live long in freshwater.
By the way, I don't care what the guy in pet store says about them being freshwater fish. They're not. Sadly, decades ago this species got mixed up with another species (that looks nothing like it, called Tetraodon palembangensis).
Since that time a few books said the Figure 8 was a freshwater fish, but everybody now knows it isn't, except people trying to sell this fish.
Shame, but that's business I guess.>
in there with 2 Corys as well?
<Not in 10 gallons, no. The fish you have don't belong in 10 gallons; or rather, while Microsynodontis batesii might work in a biotope tank this size, that's only alongside other "nano" species such as, for example, Ember Tetras or Endler's Guppies.>
Sent from my iPad
<Sent from my computer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Tank     9/23/15
It's actually a South American bumblebee catfish
and it just stays in a cave...
<Makes sense. More common in the trade. Various species sold under this name though. Microglanis iheringi is the commonest. Quite small (5 cm) and very shy. Tends to starve unless you provide suitable food at night. I wouldn't force it to compete with substantially larger nighttime catfish such as Plecs.>
Also if I put the figure 8 in freshwater until December would that be okay.
<Possibly, but why bother? You could keep Polar Bears in the desert for a while, but why not keep them somewhere icy instead? Same issue here. Figure-8s are always kept on their own. They're nippy and territorial. So set up a 15+ gallon tank for a singleton, or a 20+ tank for three or more, and keep them properly from the start. You're going to have to eventually
or they'll sicken and die. Brackish water isn't expensive; buy a box of marine aquarium salt and use at 10-20% the amount stated on the package for a specific gravity around 1.001 to 1.003 (3.5-6 gram/litre).>
And yeah my cousin has a 100 gallon tank so I'm giving him the Pleco when it gets bigger, and I'll buy another small one and continue that process.
<Why not just get a Bristlenose Plec that stays small, 12 cm/4 inches, it's entire life? Your approach doesn't make a lot of sense.>
I don't have cories yet just the Pleco and bumblebee. Thank you
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: My Tank    9/24/15

My Pleco died sadly.
<Indeed, sad.>
Now i could probably just make it brackish if all u need is salt.
<Marine aquarium salt mix. Not cooking salt or "aquarium" salt sold for freshwater fish. I have written much on this here, elsewhere; but could start here...
Maybe pivot over to the Figure 8 Puffer articles elsewhere on WWM, such as here...
Follow the links; maybe join up with the (serious) pufferfish folks over on ThePufferForum.com for example.>
Thanks for all the help.
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: My Tank      9/26/15

I ended up with a 6 gallon brackish tank with a figure 8 puffer. I love it. Thanks for all the help.
<Sounds good. Do bear in mind you'll need a bigger tank in time... 15 gallons maybe? Cheers, Neale.>

Question for Neale Monk' BR stkg., Arothron env.       4/5/15
Neale, my name is Mark and I am converting a 125 gallon aquarium from freshwater to brackish and would like to use the following parameters:
1.010 sg, crushed coral, rocks and boxwood, stocked with Sailfin mollies, Orange Chromides, and a small Dogface puffer.
<Cool. Do bear in mind adult Dogface Puffers are more marine than anything else, though they are very tolerant animals
The tank has a few mollies in it now for the conversion. Now my questions are; 1) I have read the Orange Chromides can have a sg of up to 1.012. Can I keep the puffer and Chromides happy at 1.010?
<Yes and yes. Orange Chromides don't enjoy higher specific gravities than that though. It's debatable whether they're truly brackish water fish in the wild; some recent work suggests they're more freshwater with brackish water tolerance.>
I know any fish could be at risk with the puffer especially the mollies but that aside, is it possible?
<Dogface Puffers aren't particularly "bitey" and much less nippy than, say, Green Spotted Puffers. Indeed, Arothron generally are considered fairly good additions to community (marine) aquaria.>
2) I also read to raise the salinity at a rate of .002 sg per week until I hit the desired amount. Do you agree?
<In so far as this won't upset the filter bacteria, yes, sounds about right. But the fish won't care, and Sailfin Mollies for example can switch between marine and freshwater using nothing more clever than slow acclimation in a bucket across half an hour.>
3) is crushed coral okay to use as a substrate?
<Yes. Buffers the pH nicely while it's clean. Doesn't look especially authentic though, and for a more mangrove appearance, you might want to mix it with plain silver sand and even a bit of gravel. A few smashed up mussel and oyster shells will look good in there, too. Experiment a bit in the kitchen, and when you find a mixture that works for you, go for it.>
I have read as much of your work as I could find on the web but I guess I want some confirmation on my plan and if it is okay. I really want to keep the Orange Chromides and DF puffer together if possible.
<While the Dogface is young, yes, this should be fine. Longer term you would probably want more robust, larger-sized tankmates, whether high-end brackish (Selenotoca for example) or hardy marines (Damsels, Snappers,
Thank you very much for your time!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Question for Neale Monk (RMF, thoughts re: Arothron)       4/6/15

<<Don't think that Arothron can live permanently in too-dilute seawater. RMF>>
Thank you for your response! Just for clarification, can the dogface puffer live in these conditions for life?
<Probably, but I've not done that. To be clear: these puffers are adaptable and probably euryhaline to some degree. In the wild they certainly move about between reefs, seagrass meadows and estuaries. But can they live indefinitely in brackish? I simply don't know. I'd guess middling brackish conditions 1.010 upwards would be okay, provided hardness and pH were
appropriate. Do recall that in the past it was absolutely standard to keep fish-only marine systems at SG 1.018, which is about 75% normal marine salinity. This was for damsels, lionfish, etc., so I'm sure Arothron hispidus would be absolutely fine in such conditions for life. But below that... a mystery.>
If not, then What is the lowest salinity for life that the puffer could thrive in if not full marine? I also have read the Volitans Lionfish can tolerate low salinity but I can't find any info as to how whether or not they can thrive in low salinity.
<See above.>
What is your feeling on this fish as it pertains to living in perminate lower salinities and how low that salinity might be? Thanks again.
<When I bought my juvenile specimens back in 1990 they were being sold as freshwater fish, and I've no doubt at all these fish are incredibly tough.
I'd experiment with them at SG 1.010 with a clean conscience, knowing full well that they'd show gradual symptoms of stress if they weren't happy -- they wouldn't suddenly die. I'd be looking out for subdued (dark) colours and lack of appetite. If neither was apparent, I'd be happy that my pufferfish were thriving.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question for Neale Monk (RMF, thoughts re: Arothron)       4/6/15

Well yes, Bob, agreed; but what would be “too dilute” in this instance, for a demonstrably euryhaline, lagoon and estuary dwelling coastal marine species???
Cheers, Neale
<I had tried to find a simple/r one or two ref. to add... Even "true salty" (euryhaline) vs. steno- organisms that make their adult lives in full-strength seawater suffer in less dense water. I have never encountered the genus Arothron as adult, full-time residents in brackish settings. Am not (of course) stating that they don't, but only that this has not been my first or second hand (reading) experience. Too dilute would be anything below 1.022 or so. BobF>
Re: Question for Neale Monk (RMF, thoughts re: Arothron)       4/6/15

Yet how to explain the “standard operating procedure” of yesteryear when species such as this were kept at SG 1.018? Was often stated to be less stressful, kidneys having to work less hard… that sort of thing.
<Ah yes; I sense our thoughts are confluent>
So far as reading goes: do review Klaus Ebert, Aqualog pufferfish book… Arothron hispidus said to be healthy “a long time” in brackish (by which the author seems to mean half-strength seawater) though not permanently.
As stated in previous comments: I would not have a problem keeping a youngster thusly (quite possibly more natural than fully marine conditions for such) but once half-grown, say, would acclimate to near-marine… SG 1.015 upwards… and be prepared to either trade in (for another youngster) or move to fully marine.
Cheers, Neale
<And you. Bob>
Re: Question for Neale Monk (RMF, thoughts re: Arothron)       4/6/15

Thank you both for your insight. I agree that it is more natural to migrate this puffer to full salt over time, but also believe that there is nothing natural about keeping fish in a small glass box. That said, I do try my best to ensure the fish I keep are healthy and hopefully happy. If I am understanding you correctly, the safe answer to my question about keeping a dogface puffer healthy in 1.010 SG for long term or maybe for life is that it should gradually be migrated to marine over time. However, I guess the real answer is, who knows since no research has been done. I will take your advice Neale and start a youngster in 1.010 and keep a lookout for stress and he grows. Worse case for me is I get another saltier tank for him. What a great excuse for a new aquarium! I think this will be a unique and fun setup (for a while at least). Thank you again for the help and I sincerely appreciate the dialog.
<Most welcome. Good luck with your project; maybe let us know how things turnout a year or two from now?
Cheers, Neale.>

SW stocking & filtration      1/21/15
Hello there. I have a 125 brackish set up that I plan on converting over to saltwater in the next few months. The tank currently has the following:
1 green spotted pufferfish
1 ruby scat
8 mono Sebaes
2 Columbian catfish
1 white crayfish
<These aren't brackish.>
3 black mollies

As The salinity of the water gets closer to seawater (around 1.015) I plan on returning everything back to my LFS except the scat, both catfishes, and three of the monos.
<Cool. Though the Puffer and Mollies would be fine in seawater (though how long either would survive alongside a Volitans Lionfish is debatable! So your choice here is a wise one.>
Once I finally get the salinity to 1.022 I plan on introducing the following:
1 black volitans lionfish
1 red cigar wrasse
1 orange shoulder tang
1 black edged moray eel
1 African starfish
3 squirrelfish

<An interesting mix of fish. Do think about the Squirrelfish carefully though; many species are happier at slightly lower temperatures than some other tropical marine fishes.>
I was wondering if this would be too overstocked because if so, I can easily get rid of the monos and the catfish but the mono is special to me.
<That's a lot of fish for a 125 gallon tank! The Cigar Wrasse alone gets to some 50 cm/20 inches in the wild, so even a 200 gallon tank would be somewhat cramped. If this was me, I'd stock somewhat slowly. I'd skip echinoderms and other invertebrates, at least initially, because they're much more delicate (with a few exceptions) than marine fish. A Scat; a pair
or trio of Monos (they often form pairs that work rather well); the Shark Cats would make good "carry overs"; add to these the Lionfish (an excellent companion for robust brackish water species); a peaceful and easy Moray like Echidna catenata would be my next choice; then if you want something active and midwater-y, then perhaps a snapper, tang or even a robust
Angelfish. One of the smaller groupers can work too, but not many are scaled for life in 125 gallons.>
Also, I am currently running two MarineLand penguin 350 filters that have a combined flow rate of 700 gph so I was wondering if this would be sufficient in keeping up with the bio-load in the aquarium or would I have to upgrade to something bigger.
<Do let me direct you to Bob's article on stocking marines.
Various links from there. Much fun to be had with fish-only systems, but would recommend aiming for the FOWLR avenue at some point, canisters alone being okay but not great for marines. In such systems brackish species can make interesting additions; Monos as dither fish for shyer species, Shark Cats as centrepiece predators. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish tank stocking        12/20/14
I have a 125 gallon brackish set up with a salinity of about 1.007. I plan on converting it to full marine in the next 5-7 months. The tank is empty, aside from three black mollies that I'm using for cycling purposes. I plan on stocking my tank with the following:
- five Mono Sebae
- one Ruby Scat
-three Target fish
-two Colombian Sharks
-one freshwater moray

With that being said, would I have enough room for a Black Volitans lion fish when the tank is full saltwater (assuming that i still have all of the previous fish in there already) In addition to the lion fish, i intend on getting some saltwater plants such as sea lettuce and other types of macro algae. The tank is 72x18x22 and I run two MarineLand 350 power filters that are rated for up to 320 gallons per hour. If i can't get a lionfish, could you recommend another saltwater fish that could possibly coexist with the other inhabitants in the tank?
<The jokers in this pack are the Moray and the Targetfish. The Scat, Monos, and Shark Catfish can all make excellent community fish, the catfish in particular being extremely mellow and more likely to be bullied than to cause problems. Scats are normally easy going but are pushy, while Monos sometimes throw their weight around a bit, but are normally pretty good.
The Targetfish are (in the wild) reported to be fin-and-scale eaters. In aquaria -- if well fed on an omnivorous diet -- they are usually okay with active tankmates, but a Volitans Lionfish might be too good a target to miss. This is especially true of the adults, which tend to be much more easy-going than the youngsters. So if yours have matured to the schooling phase, you might find them fine. The Moray is another one to watch. Echidna species are typically less likely to snap at tankmates than Gymnothorax, but there's not a lot in it, and even within species there's a lot of variation. So it's usually recommended Freshwater Morays are kept in their own system, either singly or in groups. Beyond the Moray and the Targetfish, the others should mix with pretty much anything, though Sergeant Majors, Snappers, Wrasse, Goatfish and so on would be obvious suggestions in terms of needs and temperament. Shark Cats can look amazing in reef systems, though bite-size fish and crustaceans will of course be viewed as food. Monos and Scats are more or less reef safe, and neither are accomplished piscivores. Cheers, Neale.>

Small brackish tank question. Stkg.     7/5/14
I have a 20 gallon tall low-end brackish tank which currently houses 5 bumblebee gobies. The tank is cycled and has been running for nearly a year. I’d like to continue to stock the tank with some other interesting fish that will hang out in different levels of the tank (and are unlikely to eat the bees). I am considering a small school (6-8) of spotted blue-eye (*Pseudomugil gertrudae*)
<A freshwater species.>

and perhaps 3 (1m, 2f) peacock gudgeons (*Tateurndina ocellicauda*). The little bit of information I've found about the peacocks has been conflicting, especially on whether they need brackish or freshwater to thrive. Can you could shed some light on this?
<They are definitely NOT brackish water fish; need soft, slightly acidic to neutral conditions to do well. Confused by your research here. I wonder if some sources are mixing this species up with something else, like the Empire Gudgeon?>
Are these three species potentially good tank mates?
<Blue-Eyes, possibly, yes, though the brackish water species seen in the trade is Pseudomugil signifer, not Pseudomugil gertrudae. Alternatively, and perhaps better, would be any one of the Ricefish species, for example Oryzias dancena, or a small livebearer such as Micropoecilia parae or Phalloceros caudimaculatus. Wrestling Halfbeaks are ideal companions for BBGs since they feed in a fundamentally different way.>
Would this be overstocking the tank, and if so, could you suggest better stocking?
<I would not keep other gobies with Bumblebees; at least, not species substantially larger than they are, for fear Are any of these likely to produce a ton of fry (in my ideal world all my fish would be prudes)?
<Pseudomugil are not difficult to breed, but their fry are unlikely to survive in a community tank. Ricefish lay bigger eggs and their fry are a step up in size, but you're unlikely to be swamped with these either. Halfbeaks breed slowly and often not at all, so any fry you do rear will be an accomplishment. Micropoecilia and Phalloceros breed faster but are quite rare fish in the trade, meaning you can easily sell excess fry.>
Thank you so much for your help!
Best wishes,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: small brackish tank question
I'd been reading a lot of older posts on tank-mates for BBGs - some of my confusion may have stemmed from whether the posters thought BBGs were brackish or fresh.
<There's no simple answer to this. Some BBG species are commoner in freshwater than brackish, and one or two may even be blackwater (soft, acidic water) dwellers. I've kept them in medium hard freshwater without any trouble at all. The main reason for BBG mortality is starvation though, and throwing them into community tanks is pretty much a death sentence (by starvation) unless you keep them with species (like halfbeaks) that do not take food from the bottom half of the tank. With this said, BBGs seem to be easier to keep in brackish water than otherwise, and live brine shrimp (an ideal food for them) will live a very long time in brackish water tanks with air powered sponge filters, which are, in short, ideal BBG aquaria.>
Thank you so much for your help!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

New to Brackish Setups, BBGs; stkg. more broadly      10/27/13
I've had a spare 10g tank for ages and I'd like to try an aquarium with brackish fish; ideally the salinity would be about 1.005 (that's the low end of brackish water, correct?).
<It's "high-low end" if that makes sense. For what you have in mind, going down to SG 1.002-1.003 at 25 C/77 F might be better.>
I was hoping you might be able to suggest some tank mates for Bumblebee gobies (Brachygobius xanthozona).  I was considering Endler's Livebearers due to their small size; are there other notable small fish that thrive in brackish water?
<BBGs will get along with any small fish that won't steal all the food.
Endler's and regular Guppies can work, so can other small brackish water livebearers; Limia spp., Micropoecilia parae and Micropoecilia picta would be particularly interesting options. Wrestling Halfbeaks can also work well, perhaps even better given they ignore food from at the bottom of the tank.>
Similarly, I've read that Bumblebees can be somewhat aggressive; how many are suitable for a 10g (with aforementioned tank mates)?
<BBGs are territorial rather than aggressive; provided each has a cave of its own, and a good couple inches clear space between it and the next BBG, they're fine. Indeed, big groups can be somewhat useful in the sense that a large swarm can't be dominated by a single bully. So trying getting 6-8 rather than 2-3. Given their tiny size and low cost, this approach isn't difficult. You might also look out for the gregarious species, Brachygobius aggregatus, that is best in a school.>
Lastly, the classic aquarium question: will crabs work with this set up?
<Not really. Crabs have such specific needs it's almost never "easy" to mix them with fish.>
I was hoping to try out a male/female Fiddler crab pair, but I know mixing crabs and fish is a tricky business.  (As far as dry land goes for the crabs, I would set up a DiY "underwater island" for their benefit.).
<Instead of crabs, consider shrimps. Cherry Shrimps will thrive at SG 1.002-1.003, and should even breed. They'd look good. Amano Shrimps will work too, but need more saline water to breed.>
Any other information for a brackish-tank-newbie would be most welcome. 
Please let me know what you think!
<Much here; read. Any questions; ask. My FAQ might be useful, too.
Thank you,
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: New to Brackish Setups     10/27/13

Thank you for the prompt response!  Though...now I think I have more questions than when I started...
<Go on...>
I found out that my LFS actually sells both Brachygobius aggregatus and xanthozona, so...is one preferable to the other or do they look/act different...?
<Brachygobius xanthozona is distinctive because it is never sold in aquarium shops, despite the name being extremely commonly used. What you see in aquarium shops are various Brachygobius species that are impossible to identify to species level (without examination under a microscope, at least). But there are two "flavours" out there, the dwarf species (apparently mostly Brachygobius nunus and Brachygobius aggregatus) and the normal-sized species (Brachygobius doriae and Brachygobius sabanus are said to be the most common). Beyond that, there's absolutely no way the hobbyist, or the retailer, can be sure what's for sale. None. Zip. Nada.
And anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't spent time talking with goby scientists who work on the taxonomy of this genus! For all practical purposes then, you have Bumblebee Gobies for sale, you buy some, and you enjoy them. Hopefully they'll all be one species so they'll breed. If you're really lucky, you might be offered a "swarming" species under the Brachygobius aggregatus name, but whether that's what you've actually got is up for debate; Brachygobius mekongensis for example looks and behaves very similarly. Be clear: these are all differences without distinctions; beyond the fact the "dwarf" species are smaller and more sociable, all BBGs have identical requirements. Slightly brackish water, shells and other caves, some plants, moderate water current, small live/frozen foods, and suitably small tankmates that won't compete for food.>
From what I've read, B. xanthozona is more tolerant of freshwater environments, is that the major difference?
<Nope; as I say, the key thing about Brachygobius xanthozona seems to be its extremely rare in the wild and hardly ever collected, even by scientists. So it's the one species you can be 99.99% sure you will never see in an aquarium shop. On the odd chance that one sneaks in, the fact it was called "Brachygobius xanthozona" on the aquarium shop label is sheer fluke -- they use the "Brachygobius xanthozona" name in the hobby for any/all of the larger Brachygobius species, most of which seem to be Brachygobius doriae, Brachygobius sabanus, and other similar-looking species.>
I searched both species online and the same images show up for both; frankly, I'm not sure what to make of it.
<Quite so. Externally their colours are all virtually the same, with enough variation within a species to mean some from species A end up looking more like species B. When I was editing my brackish water aquarium book, the goby-scientist who wrote the chapter on gobies said that the one thing you can say for sure about Bumblebee Gobies is that almost all photos in magazines, books and on websites are misidentified.>
I'm also a bit puzzled by the numbers you recommended; I really didn't think a 10g could biologically support 6-8 Bumblebee gobies and another shoal of small fish.
<Oh for sure you could fit 6-8 BBGs with, say, a school of 6 Micropoecilia picta.>
Are these gobies really that "light" of a bioload?
<They're certainly small, yes, and don't move about much. Such a tank would be less heavily stocked than, say, the average 55-gallon tank with a Plec and an Oscar!>
If so, how many Wrestling Halfbeaks would you recommend as tank mates?
<Wrestlers are bit more finicky and fiddly to keep because the males squabble, so a single male and 2-3 females would make sense. Possibly just the females if you wanted. The commonly traded Silver Halfbeak seen nowadays is a very small, slender fish that only gets to about 5 cm in length, the males less.>
Lastly, what kind of flow is ideal for these species of fish?
<For the BBGs, a brisk current is ideal. That's the point of their "suckers", to hold onto rocks and plants while plankton is washed overhead.
They like to snap at food that streams past them. But they aren't fussy.
Micropoecilia prefer more moderate currents, as the "Swamp Guppy" name would suggest. Halfbeaks are fine either way.>
Were it up to me, I'd stick a Aquaclear 30 HOB filter (rated at 150gph) on the 10g tank for the extra turnover, but I don't want these little fish to be blown away either.
<No risk of that with the gobies at least.>
Should I stick with an Aquaclear 20 HOB (rated at 100gph) instead?
<It's an option, but to be honest I'd look at an internal sponge filter so that you can offer live and frozen foods (which BBGs need) without worrying all such foods will be sucked away into the filter. Plus, by turning the air pump up or down, you could adjust flow rate to suit the livestock you've got.>
Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New to Brackish Setups; stkg. more broadly (include prev. corr.)      10/28/13

Well, I'm really looking forward to getting this brackish 10g started!  I'd like to try the fish you recommended:
Bumblebee Goby x 6
Wrestling Halfbeak x 5 (1m, 4f)
Possibly a few Red Cherry Shrimp if it doesn't seem crowded.
<Should be fun.>
I believe my LFS keeps their BBGs and Halfbeaks in freshwater, so should I set up the tank as purely freshwater for the initial addition of fish and slowly increase the SG with my weekly water changes until it reaches 1.003?
 Is an increase of .001 per week too fast of an increase?  I just want to avoid shocking the fish with more salt than they're used to.
<I would do precisely as you suggest.>
Along the same topic, I saw that you had a webpage listing plants that can tolerate brackish water and I'm debating moving some Dwarf Hairgrass from one tank to this new setup.  Do you generally see something akin to "melting" as the plants adjust to the new salinity level?
<It can happen, but "melting" is a reaction to changes in the environment generally rather than to a specific change. Set the tank up as per your local water chemistry, get everyone settled in (including the plants) and then do slight salinity changes over succeeding weeks.>
Are there any plants you can recommend to help replicate the BBGs natural environment?
<Relatively few authentic species from these habitats are traded, the most notable ones being things like Crinum spp. (one species, Crinum augustifolium is a brackish water specialist) and Cryptocoryne spp. (again, Cryptocoryne ciliata being something of a specialist in such environments).
So while you might not get the precise species mentioned, any hard water tolerant Crinum or Cryptocoryne will do just fine at SG 1.002-1.003, and would provide the right sort of look, too. Otherwise your aim is probably for a jungly sort of look, but bear in mind that in the wild (remarkably enough) BBGs are often found in soft, acidic blackwater habitats with little submerged vegetation, so you might elect for a mix of bogwood roots, thin twigs and branches, and perhaps a few epiphytes like Anubias and Java fern to green things up. Really, since these fish live in a range of environments from mangrove forests through to inland forest streams, any Southeast Asian biotope tank is going to be acceptable.>
Thanks again, my apologies for the excessive questioning!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: New to Brackish Setups       10/30/13

It's always a pleasure to read your responses and I highly value your staggering knowledge of all-things-aquarium.  Thank you very much for all your help!
<Thank you for these kind words. Good luck with the aquarium! Neale.>
Re: New to Brackish Setups, stkg.       11/3/13

Unfortunately I've hit a bit of a snag in that I can't seem to locate any Wrestling Halfbeaks (Dermogenys pusilla) at this time.
<Can be tricky to find... perhaps seasonal? Do remember for a couple of years not seeing them at all, then they were everywhere all at once!>
Celebes Halfbeaks are in abundance, but would not be suited for a 10g.
<I do agree.>
I'll continue to search, but in the meantime I wonder if you could suggest a few alternative top-dwelling brackish fish to go along with Bumblebee Gobies.  The best I can come up with are Endler's, Celebes Rainbows, or the Poecilia picta guppies we had discussed previously.
<Correct, though Celebes Rainbows probably don't need brackish water, despite older books suggesting they do. Do also look at Micropoecilia parae "melanzona red" and Micropoecilia parae "melanzona blue". They'd be ideal and are extremely pretty. Limia species such as the Humpbacked Limia (one of my favourite fish) are another possibility. In fact virtually all small livebearers will thrive in slightly brackish water, even if they are not naturally found in it. Also look at Pseudomugil species, several of which are sometimes found in brackish water areas (Pseudomugil cyanodorsalis, Pseudomugil signifer and Pseudomugil gertrudae among others) and their small size and lovely colours make them really nice fish to keep. Finally, consider the Ricefish, some of which will tolerate slightly brackish water extremely well including the species Oryzias dancena that is currently very widely traded (usually as Oryzias melastigma). Ricefish are easy to breed and completely peaceful fish, and their tiny adult size and high degree of hardiness make them ideal for small tanks.>
Are there possibly any small Hatchetfish that would thrive in low salinity (1.002-1.003)?
<Not that I'm aware of. They're strictly inland, rainforest habitat beasties, and most likely soft water fish at that.>
I also had a few questions related to brackish stocking; I read your page regarding Nerite snails and saw that Corona Nerites (Clithon coronae) were listed as freshwater, though they breed in brackish.  Are they capable of permanently living in brackish waters (SG of 1.002-1.003)?
<Most if not all Nerites will do perfectly well in low-end brackish conditions.>
Would a pair of Peacock Gudgeons (Tateurndina ocellicauda) be suited for the same low-end brackish environment? I've been on several different sites, some claiming they're strictly freshwater, others saying they're entirely capable of living in brackish water.
<They are freshwater fish in the wild, but I expect they will tolerate slightly brackish water given their evolutionary background. I've not tried it though. In a bigger tank I'd have suggested Empire Gudgeons as an alternative. They're as much brackish water fish as freshwater, and the males have amazing colours when spawning.>
Thanks for your time,
<Most welcome. Neale.>

fish suggestions; UK folks, 15 gal., BR?    9/8/13
hi everyone
<Hello Denise,>
Looking for a bit of advice really. My husband and I were in one of the Maidenhead branches earlier and they've started to get in fish that are around 3cm or under.
<Ah yes, several MA branches seem to be doing this. The branch at Morden in South London was one of the first, but it's a good development to see more and more branches doing the same thing.>
This has given me an idea to possibly have a few shoals of small fish in a tank around 60L although just ideas at the moment.
<Many options. 60 litres (15 US gal.) is a good size to start planning communities.>
They had bumblee gobies, Brachygobius doriae which from initial reading I've done seem to require brackish conditions so would only be suitable with other brackish fish.
<Yes and no. They are possibly easier to keep in brackish water, albeit only the merest "taste" of salt is necessary, 2-3 gram/litre. As such, you could easily keep with, say, Endler's Guppies, Micropoecilia species (like Micropoecilia picta and Micropoecilia parae, both utterly gorgeous fish), Ricefish, even Wrestling Halfbeaks. They could also work with Figure-8 Puffers, one of which could work in your 60-litre tank if maintained scrupulously well. Few other fish work with puffers, but BBGs are among them.>
They also had chili Rasboras, Boraras brigittae and pygmy Corys, Corydoras pygmaeus. they also had various small killifish and said they'd be getting other small fish in soon including galaxy Rasboras.
<These don't want salty water of any kind, even very low salinities, but oddly enough, BBGs can thrive in plain freshwater. The biggest reason for failure with BBGs is starvation rather than salinity. Still, for the casual aquarist, the addition of salt does make BBGs that big easier to keep, so it's widely recommended.>
I've done a small amount of reading and will carry on before making any definite fish choices but was wondering if anyone could give me any suggestions of possible fish to look at.
<Dwarf Rasboras (Boraras spp.) and Dwarf Danios (Danio nigrofasciatus) would definitely be worth considering, as well as Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae). Celestial Pearl Danio (Danio margaritatus) is another option but it does like somewhat cool water, around 22-24 C being ideal, so that may affect your choice of tankmates. It also prefers sort of neutral water that isn't too soft or hard, nor too acidic or alkaline, whereas most of the Dwarf Rasboras are blackwater fish that do best in soft, acidic water -- though to be fair, the commonest species in the UK trade, Boraras brigittae, often called the Chili Dwarf Rasbora, is pretty tolerant and will thrive in all but the hardest water, providing water quality is good and tankmates are appropriate. You could also look at Threadfin Rainbowfish, a personal favourite of mine, and if you want something that's cheap as chips yet easy to keep and colourful, look at the Cherry Barb. These are probably my favourite barbs because of their lovely colours (males are various shades of red, while females are equally attractive peachy colours with longitudinal bands). The females hang about in gangs while males claim small patches of territory, often around a leaf, and so you have this interesting social behaviour that rarely gets out of hand provided you keep a fair number, say 3 males and 4-5 females. Don't forget about shrimps as some species, especially the Cherry Shrimp, are easy to keep and colourful. Ricefish of all kinds are excellent and generally adaptable, with Oryzias woworae, the Daisy Ricefish, perhaps the (expensive) pick of the bunch, while the inexpensive Ricefish species Oryzias dancena is less colourful but has bright blue eyes and amazing raggedy fins (on the males). One cool thing about Ricefish is their breeding behaviour: females carry around bunches of big eggs they deposit one at a time on floating plants and Java moss, and when these hatch surprisingly big fry emerge that can be corralled into a breeding trap and easily reared on powdered flake food. I mix Ricefish with Cherry Shrimps and pretty much have self-sustaining populations of both in a 50-60 litre tank jam-packed with Java Moss. It's a really fun tank to keep and watch, and since neither species is delicate or messy, maintenance is minimal.>
We've got a lot of tanks with "normal" sized fish in and I'm getting excited about the prospect of a tank filled with far smaller lives, think with a bit of reading and thought I could have a tank with a lot of interest and activity.
<Hope this gives some ideas. Cheers, Neale.>

What is your professional opinion on... BR stkg.       3/9/13
Red scats and figure eight puffers together in a 65 gallon tank?
<Risky. Figure-8s aren't the nippiest fish, but eight of them with one Scat… don't like them odds! I wouldn't keep more than one Scat in a mere 65 gallons: they do get pretty big, pretty fast, and given they're sometimes aggressive if kept in twos, you want space enough for at least three, preferably more. Cheers, Neale.>
re: What is your professional opinion on...      3/9/13

Alright. I mean, my tank set up idea was a scat, an archer, two or three monos and one or two figure eights. Hmm. Some rearranging is in order.
<Ah, I see. Well, you could try one or two Figure-8s and see what happens.
But do keep them well fed, given them suitable crunchy foods to occupy their little beaks, and be prepared to remove one or both if you start seeing bite-marks on the other fish. Like most experienced fishkeepers, I prefer to keep puffers on their own, but Figure-8s are normally fairly inoffensive animals. Cheers, Neale.>
Another scat question! Comp., stkg.   7/21/13

I know, I'm insatiable.
I'm curious- right now I have a single red scat in a 65gal tank. Would it be wise to get one more (or two more? Better odds in threes?) scat and then some other species, or should he be a lone scat?
<Scats do well singly or else in odd numbered groups. Provided there isn't anything aggressive or nippy, singletons settle down well, so don't feel obliged to keep more than one, and in 65 gallons, I wouldn't. Cheers,
Re: Another scat question!     7/21/13

As they get older they're getting moved to a 175g. Hmm...looks like a new tank is in order.
<Ah, a good size for three Scats plus their companions. They do grow fairly quickly, but slow down after a couple years (at which point they're around 20 cm/8 inches). Cheers, Neale.>Re: New Brackish Tank (Bob, any insight into Scat/Mono behaviour from your obs. in the wild?)      8/2/13
Yet another hello!
Had a quick question concerning a, seemingly, odd behavior.
<I will respond here and place your query in Neale's in-box; he's out till 8/6>
My violet goby (the ninja hiding master) has slowly started to come out during the day.
This evening I was taking in the opportunity to admire him as he was hanging on the glass (top of the tank actually).
The Monos have been very curious about him (but lose interest quickly upon approach). The silver scat on the other hand has decided to become quite the fin nipper!
<Not atypical w/ Selenotoca>
I have not read anywhere they had this behavior. The scat has _never_ acted aggressive toward any of the Monos.
<They're faster; more aware>
The goby arrived with some tattered tail fins so, until now,  I had not thought anything out of the ordinary.
I will, obviously, continue to observe the behavior in the tank but was wondering if you had encountered Scat/Goby aggression before?
<Yes; they're curious animal species; like to "examine" everything... with their mouths, eyes>
Would there be steps I could take to reduce this?
<Really best to do as you state below... The other fishes here are too likely to outcompete the Goby for foods as well>
I am looking at "alternative" housing, but options are thin.
(55g planted with rainbows, Plecs, and platys) and (65 goldfish / loach) are not good candidates.
I do have a 35g, with the mollies. SG: 1.003 (cube-like tank 24wx18dx22t) which is an option, but very small for the goby.
<I might try moving the Scat here for a few weeks... see if this takes some of the "vinegar" out of it>
29g "other" with some plants and platys but they could be moved if needed.
Am I "jumping the gun" or did I get a foul-tempered scat? (or one that is just curious as to what this wiggling thing is that looks like food?)
Oh, Scat is around 2 inch and goby is around 6 inch though I don't feel size is ever a real issue (just talk to a puffer!).
<Mmm, well then; at this size, either one could go in with the mollies for quite a while>

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

30 gallon Brackish tank, stkg...  6/18/2013
Hi, I have a 30 gallon brackish at .003 salinity.
<1.003 I presume you mean? So low-end brackish.>
Right now all I have is a lily pad plant, possibly a flounder (had 3 but I hardly ever see them, have seen two corpses),
<Are nocturnal and tricky to feed.>
sand bottom, rocks, snag, and a CRAP LOAD of tiny snails.
<Melanoides spp., more than likely. Would deal with promptly if they concern you.>
I had a violet goby who mysteriously got sick (stayed upside down on bottom) and died, 4 gobies (couple jumped in filter, others diapered),
<Not good so far!>
and Nerite snails (didn't survive the night).
I need to know what easy to find, hardy animals I could put in this. I was thinking about scratching the brackish and just getting a predator fish or two, if you have any ideas let me know. If neither of these work let me know what I could do with this tank.
<Aaron, let's start with the basics. Are you *sure* you have the salinity right? I'd kick off by doing a series of water changes and replacing the water entirely with freshly-made brackish water at 5-6 grams of marine aquarium salt per litre (about 0.8 oz per US gal). When you're done, let the temperature settle to 25 C/77 F. Now use your hydrometer. Make a note of the specific gravity. Not all hydrometers are accurately calibrated, and if the temperature is off by a couple degrees, they can be very misleading.
But at 6 gram/litre you should have a specific gravity of 1.003. Take out all the substrate if you want shot of the snails as far as possible, clean with boiling hot water, rinse (the snails should settle on the top) and then replace. Else replace the substrate entirely. Live plants may or may not thrive; Anubias, Java fern and Vallisneria are the best and easiest for SG 1.003. Should thrive. Next up, stock the tank slowly. Sleeper Gobies are tough and adaptable, so look out for something like Dormitator lebretonis or Butis butis if you want something around the 10 cm/4 inch mark and don't mind the predatory instincts of these fish towards bite-sized tankmates (should be fine with adult Flatfish though risky with teeny-tiny youngsters). Alternatively, you could try a Pupfish like the Florida Flagfish. Other Pupfish are available in the US through what are called biological supply houses because they're much used in labs. Both the gobies and the Pupfish are very tough when kept in brackish conditions. I'd recommend just one goby or else a pair of Pupfish, and either way allow the tank to settle down before adding anything else. Wait at least a month before adding anything new.>
Thanks, Aaron
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish Tank, stkg. low sal.    1/31/13
Hello Neale!
it's been a while! (not that you'd remember haha I'm sure you answer tons of emails in the run of a day) I'm looking for some advice on my Brackish water aquarium. I have an 85 gallon now. Seems I can't stop myself from upgrading.. it went from a 10 to a 20 to a 55 now my 85.
I plan on sticking with this one though. My question is on stocking.
I currently have:
- 2 (juvenile) Monos
- 8 Mollies
- 1 orange Chromide (because, sadly, he killed the other two Chromides I had)
<Ah, probably got three males. Not normally so psychotic! Oddly enough, their closest relatives, the Green Chromide and the Canara Pearlspot are both schooling fish.>
I love brackish water fish for their diversity, their quirks and because they're just so interesting!
<Quite so.>
I've learned a lot. Mostly from online research and the lion's share of that from WWM - much appreciated! I want a really interesting tank. Something amazing to observe, fun to watch grow and interesting to talk about. I am not opposed to the idea of trading in my Monos. As neat as they are I've read that as they get older they need higher levels of salinity, (is that true?) My tank is low level (0.002).
<SG 1.002… more than enough for the low-end species, but your Monos may need saltier conditions as they mature.>
I guess I could raise that if the fish I choose need it. I also feed them mostly flake and pellet food - along with some parboiled veggies, mealworms (when I had my archerfish - he was killed by my male mollies - I don't expect that to happen again since I have since given away some males and the ratio for male to female mollies is much lower) and I'm willing to feed some raw fish. Also my substrate is black sand. I have some live plants but mostly plastic, although I would like to branch out with some more plants (basically scats are out of the question).
<As will raising the salinity; at SG 1.002 you can basically keep any hardy (and hard water tolerant) plant. But above that, things get pretty difficult. It's not that plants don't grow in mangroves, but those plant species just don't imported -- except mangroves of course!>
    Fish that I am interested in are:
- bumblebee gobies
<Tricky to feed, but otherwise adaptable.>
- "freshwater" flounder
<Like gobies, can be difficult to feed.>
- Columbian sharks/shark catfish
<These will eat most anything they can bite.>
- Indian glassfish
<Fussy feeders, but great fun. They're like little gangsters, always chasing one another about, but at the same time wanting to be with their pals. Basically harmless, but will eat baby fish.>
- four eyes
<No, these are REALLY specialist fish best kept alone.>
- dragon gobies
- violet gobies
<The same thing as Dragon Gobies.>
- pufferfish
<Tricky in communities, but has been done with Figure-8 Pufferfish.>
- Horseface loach
<Salinity to SG 1.002, no higher.>
- blue legged hermit crabs (not a fish but interesting all the same)
<Salinity 1.010 or higher, to fully marine. There are brackish and freshwater hermits, but they're almost never traded, sadly.>
- archerfish
<Super-predatory, so be careful!>
Obviously I don't mean all of these fish together in the same tank.  I do however want a variety! (feel free to suggest others you think I might enjoy) The advice I'm asking of you is, what is the largest variety of brackish water fish I could keep as tankmates in my 85 gallon?
<You could keep together: Mollies, Knight Gobies, Glassfish, Horseface Loach and the Chromides. These would all be fine in a planted SG 1.002 aquarium. You could also add Peacock Spiny Eels if you wanted something eel-like. I'd skip the Flounder, or at least, would keep it separately until you figured out how to get it feeding reliably (likes bloodworms and shrimp, but at night, and will lose out to other fish if you aren't careful). Also look at (instead of the Mollies) Limia species, such as Limia nigrofasciata. Really neat fish. Possibly Toxotes microlepis (the "Freshwater Archer") if you can find it and identify it correctly, but it is predatory and does best with fish of similar size. It is quite a bit smaller than the plain vanilla Archers though. Violet Gobies could work, but they are large fish, and though not at all predatory, feeding them and the other bottom-feeders (Gobies, Loaches and Spiny Eels) would require a lot of effort if you wanted them all to get a fair deal.>
What are some tank options for me? (i.e.. higher salinity, trade in my Monos, go with smaller species tank etc.) I am open to suggestions.
<Monos need middling to high salinity, and work best with Scats and the larger Archers (such as Toxotes jaculatrix) and Colombian Sharks. The bigger sleeper gobies like Butis butis ("Crazyfish") and Dormitator maculatus work great with them. Possibly Moray Eels but some folks have not found their Morays as peaceful as others. Long terms, the most fun with Monos is combining them with marine fish in a FOWLR system, with the sorts of species you don't keep in reef tanks, such as less aggressive Triggers, Stars-and-Stripes Puffers, and so on.>
My only desire is to keep it interesting! This has been my one qualm with keeping brackish water fish. It is difficult to find ones that mesh well. Also difficult to find accurate/consistant information about that. For example I read on WWM that Clown Loaches are found in brackish/salt water. Then I read you figured that was a case of mistaken identity. It's just difficult to really know what to do, There seem to be many varying opinions and frankly I trust yours. Seems like you know what you're talking about!
<I do trust Bob, but in this case, until I've seen a scientific report (as opposed to second or third hand accounts from fishermen) I'm not going to put any Clown Loaches of *mine* in a brackish system! I do personally believe there's a mistranslation going on here, e.g., Clownfish for Clown Loach, or some such.>
I think I have an information overload! I've read so much that now I'm confused and it's like I think I remember reading "Chromides can be kept with a variety of tankmates"... wait ... maybe that was mollies ... ??? It leads to me just leaving the computer in utter frustration.
<Like cats, dogs, and of course people, not every Orange Chromide is the same. Most are relatively mellow, but they are cichlids, and come with all the baggage that entails. Kept in tanks with bigger tankmates (like Monos) they're unlikely to do any real harm, and in the wild seem to have a symbiosis with the bigger (to 30 cm) Green Chromides, where the Orange Chromides supposedly work like cleaner fish. Neat.>
Suggestions for my tank would be great, I want uncomplicated feeding habits, interesting behavior and a variety of species. I'm starting to think this is too much to ask. Feel free to tell me THAT, if that is the case. Thanks for reading my long, detailed, possibly boring email. Sincerely, Jessica PS there are some brutally honest emails on WWM about punctuation, grammar etc. I hope mine isn't too bad!?
<It's just fine! Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Brackish Tank, stocking   1/31/13
Thank you Neale!!! That does clear a few things up! I like the glassfish/knight goby/molly/Horseface loach/Chromide combo Just to clarify:
I can keep a spiny peacock eel with this selection?
<Yes, provided specific gravity did not exceed SG 1.002-1.003.>
Would a violet goby work along with the eel? Or is that a one or the other type deal?
<I would keep just one kind of eel. Peacock Spiny Eels are fairly sociable, so you could keep more than one. Alternatively, you could look for some other Macrognathus species, such as Macrognathus aral. Mastacembelus species may work, but they are solitary and very predatory; for example, I have kept Tyre-track Eels in low-end brackish systems.>
Would Bumblebee Gobies also work with these?
<Knight Goby food.>
I'm wondering mostly about the glassfish, (I'm kinda thinking they'd eat the BBG's)
<No, the BBGs should be fine. But Molly fry will be eaten.>
I'm not planning on getting ALL of them. I just want to know so that when I go looking, I know I can buy any of these and keep them together. I have my doubts that I'll be able to get knight gobies, although I'm going to try!
<Are far from rare, but may be seasonal. In the US have been sold as "Fan Dancer Gobies". Do also look for Clay Gobies, Dormitator lebretonis, a fine alternative.>
But I know I can get BBG's and I like them a lot. I really love Gobies and I'd really like to keep some. Plus BBG's are so darn cute.
<Can be.>
Also could a figure 8 puffer possibly fit in here somewhere?
<Work well with BBGs, but are otherwise fin-nippers; Tetraodon biocellatus has been kept in communities, but not with 100% success. A lot depends on the size of the tank, how densely its planted, how quickly tankmates move about, etc.>
As for the Chromides, should I try another?
<It is usually a peaceful species. If you do have one psychotic male, he might be okay as a singleton in a community. All cichlids become substantially more aggressive when spawning.>
(Or possibly a group - to see if they'll form a pair)  I'd love to breed these at some point in time but I'm afraid where mine is already larger then a jeuvie I'd get from a pet store, that he'll just kill anything I get even if it IS a female... or am I simply imaging this would happen?
<Why not just keep one female?>
*Sigh* I ask a lot of questions don't I (that's rhetorical) Thanks again,
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Re: Brackish Tank, stocking    2/22/13
Hello Neale!
I'm very excited :) I just purchased my very first goby. I got a knight goby. He is a beautiful fish!
<Yes, they are. Even better in groups of 5+ specimens when they hover in midwater, displaying to each other.>
I also got Fig8 puffer, hoping he is peaceful. If not I will return him.
I have made some good friends at my LFS and they are very accommodating.
<Ah, good.>
They couldn't get me a spiny peacock eel but they can get a half banded spiny eel and I'm wondering if that could work in it's stead?
<What's the salinity? I'd recommend a specific gravity of no more than 1.003 at 25 C for this collection of fish, and preferably 1.002. At this level of salinity, Macrognathus circumcinctus should do okay. But it isn't a true brackish water species like the Peacock Eel.>
(Along with my new Knight Goby, my Blue Acara, Orange Chromide, Fig-8 puffer, Mollies and possibly in the future Horseface loach) Also could some sort of sleeper goby be another option for me?
<For sure. A good choice would be the Clay Goby, Dormitator lebretonis. The Empire Gudgeon, Hypseleotris compressa, could work too. Do bear in mind sleepers, gobies and gudgeons tend to be territorial so be careful when stocking.>
Thanks in advance, Jessica
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish Tank  2/23/13

In that case I think I'll hold out for a peacock eel. I'd rather keep a true brackish species.
<None of the Spiny Eels is a true brackish water fish; at most, a few species tolerate low salinity conditions and may exist in such conditions in the wild. If you're keeping a low-end system at SG 1.002 or thereabouts, then most Macrognathus and some Mastacembelus species are perfectly viable.>
One time before you recommended a pair of Golden Wonders to me but that was a while ago when my stocking choices were different but my salinity is the same 1.001-1.002. Would they still work in my community?
<At this low-end set of conditions, yes, they will do well, and wild Aplocheilus are quite common in slightly brackish marshes and streams. Again, they aren't estuarine fishes like Monos or Scats, so won't want SG 1.005-1.010… but if you're keeping Figure-8s, Knights, Chromides and other low-end brackish species, then SG 1.002 is all you need. Basically a "taste" of salt reflecting freshwater habitats occasionally influenced by the sea.>
Got to say, I really appreciate what you guys at WWM are doing for all us amateurs! Amazing advice!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Brackish tank questions     – 11/20/12
Hi! You have a wonderfully educational site. I have learned more than I even knew I didn't know, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I have a 29g tank with mollies and swordtails. It is heavily planted, fully cycled, and has been in operation for maybe a year. At it's most occupied I had 1 male and 3 female swordtails, 1 male and 3 female mollies, 3 emerald green cories, and 4 Otocinclus. The oldest swordtail female died a few months ago - I think from age, as she was about 3 years old, and I have been having trouble with mollies the entire time I've had mollies. At the moment I have 2 female mollies, no males. Thanks to your website, I now realize several things I was doing wrong with the mollies, so this is what I have done and am planning to do: 1) I am converting to a brackish tank, so I took out the Corys and the remaining Oto and put them in other tanks.
2) I have pulled out a bunch of Malaysian Trumpet Snails, as I understand they won't do well in brackish conditions.
<On the contrary: they thrive in brackish water! They can tolerate up to about half-strength seawater, around SG 1.010. At the low salinity you want for Mollies, around SG 1.002-1.003, they'll do perfectly well.>
3) I purchased Instant Ocean marine salt and a hydrometer last night, and combined about a cup of salt with about 1/2gallon of the tank water in a pitcher I use for water changes. I let it sit all night, then today I added a couple of cups of hot water (dechlorinated, of course) to the solution to bring the temp up to the tank temp, stirred like crazy until the salt was dissolved, and added the solution to the tank. At the moment the hydrometer shows no changes from the pre-salt water, which I would expect, since it's a very light solution at this point.
<Quite so.>
My questions are these: 1) How slowly or quickly should I add more salt to avoid shocking the fish, who have only been in freshwater to this point?
<Take your time, several weeks if needs be. The Mollies won't mind, and the longer you take, the better for the filter bacteria and plants (assuming of course you're keeping the specific gravity low and have chosen salt-tolerant plants).>
2) Will the swordtails tolerate and/or appreciate the brackish environment at the same level as the mollies, or should I move them out at some point before getting to the brackish level that is good for the mollies?
<Swordtails do just fine at SG 1.002-1.003. This level of salinity will also be fine for low-end brackish species like Knight Gobies, Bumblebee Gobies and so on.>
I do have an empty 45g tank that will eventually house a variety of livebearers, Corys, Otos, and maybe some non-livebearers like Rasboras (if they are compatible; haven't checked that out yet), and I could put the swords in that tank. I am not ready to set this tank up yet, but if the swordtails aren't going to do well in the brackish environment I can slow down my conversion of the 29g so that I can move them before it gets too salty for them.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Overstocking     7/19/12
I have a 40 gallon brackish tank which currently holds one dragon goby (over a year old, 10"), 8 bumblebee gobies (a few month) and I just purchased 8 young knight gobies.
<All sounds fun.>
I was wondering if this tank set up would be considered over stocked?
<If not yet, will be within a year or so. For this collection, even 55 gallons would be pushing your luck. Knight Gobies can be very territorial, and the Violet Goby will get a bit bigger. The Bumblebee Gobies aren't a factor -- the Knight Gobies will eat them as soon as they're able to.>
I was considering adding one or two (no more than two, if at all) figure 8 puffers, but I fear my tank load may be at its limit.
I also fear that puffers are aggressive. So my questions are this: Is my tank over stocked?
<See above.>
If not, can I afford a small puffer or two?
<No. Puffers aren't community fish, and while Figure-8 Puffers and
Bumblebees seem to work for some reason, generally speaking keep Puffers on their own.>
Secondly, would adding a puffer or two be detrimental to the fish I currently have.
<Yes. Can you say "Gobies with missing fins"?>
My gobies are all aggressive in their own way, so though I know puffers have a reputation, it is my understanding that figure 8's are of the smaller and more tame variety,
<Handguns are smaller than surface-to-air missiles, but that doesn't make them safe. Figure-8s are smaller than Green Spotted Puffers, but for their size, they're every bit as nippy.>
so I was wondering if the aggressiveness would cancel itself out.
<If I put Tyson and Holyfield together, would their aggression cancel out, and we'd see them sitting down making daisy chains?>
I look forward to your response and your help. Thanks for everything.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish tank, stkg.     4/20/12
I have a 150G tank, and am wanting to convert it to a brackish tank from the fresh water that is currently is. My husband brought home a Colombian Shark without doing his research so I am looking to find out what I should/can keep in the tank with it to both make it happy and give the tank a "wow" factor.
<Well, for a start, two more Sharks! They are quite nervous, even shy fish that need the company of their own kind. When kept in a fair-sized group they will be much more outgoing and less likely to "pace" in one corner of the tank.>
Ideally I would like a fair amount of movement in the tank as well.
<For sure. The more water movement, the better. These catfish are migratory and do swim A LOT.>
I have been doing research on the brackish tanks and have got the setup and maintenance figured out I am just having issues finding solid information on compatible species and quantities as all the information I come across seems to contradict one another.
<Do you want to keep them (long term) with brackish livestock or marine livestock? Shark Catfish work very well with hardy marines like Lionfish, Snowflake Morays, Yellow Tangs, Arothron spp. puffers and some of the big but less aggressive Damselfish. So, if you're looking at that end of the salinity spectrum, you may want to focus on species able to live in marine conditions, such as Scats, Monos and "freshwater" Morays. Alternatively, if you plan on keeping them in a brackish system, then you might instead look at Sailfin Mollies, Fat Sleeper Gobies, Crazyfish, Knight Gobies, Shortnose Gar, Archerfish and Green Chromides to name a few. Any favourites among these? Scats consistently score well on the "fun" scale because they're friendly, beg for food, and become very easily tamed. The Silver Scat, Selenotoca fasciata, also happens to be hands-down one of the prettiest fish in the hobby, whether freshwater, brackish or marine!>
Thanks :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

changing the tank up, BR stkg. rdg.     4/7/12
Im thinking of rescaping and possible reconsidering some of the stock choices in my 65 gallon archer fish tank...
What's it like now? Well firstly i have 5 healthy active Toxotes  microlepis, and 4 (was planning on more, since i do know there schooling fish....the 4 were all they had and for 25% off too) boesemanni rainbow fish. Also an African knife fish who i will be re homing due to the slight aggression between the archers as they have their social hierarchy worked out (the king of the tank has changed to a completely black appearance while the others remain normal coloration).
-Basically the tank has  root like driftwood on the far right side with thick plantings along the sides.... I'm thinking its a little too clogged up and thus some of the archers are sticking to staying under the "roots" due to the plants taking up some swimming space...
<What they do>
-So! I was thinking take out some of the Hygro and penny-Wort so all i have are the Val species, java moss, and java fern and sell  back the boesemanni rainbow fish, and knife fish. Aso was planning on rescaping with maybe one or two pieces of the root like driftwood in the center of the tank and planting the java fern inside the lowly lit crevices. This leaving the back open area planted with the Val.s and partially on the sides too. All in all the main frontal space will be open and free with tall plantings along the sides and a dense "escape" of mangled driftwood in the center. Nice open, yet interesting layout.
-Why? Well i know the archers are "fine" in freshwater being the species they are but they are also found in low-end brackish (I'm curious as to the specific ranges they are found in in their natural habitat) Also this will be sort of a test to see whether they are more outgoing and active in freshwater versus low-end brackish, also health wise too.
-lastly, since only the archer will be in the tank... any opportunities for fish in the same requirement area of 1.003-1.005 sg to coexist with these mighty yet small species of archers?
<Quite a few... peruse here:
 Their not fully grown, the largest being 3" MAYBE 4" at the most. My lfs is awesome at getting in fish that id like mostly because i know the employees well (very lovely pop and ma run store) and I've given them excess plant growth and pointers/help with many of their oddball species. They also have an ACTUAL brackish tank, which is shocking since most stores don't bother with the correct conditions. So I've seen them have orange Chromides, and figure eight puffers, both of which seem to be fine at this sg?
Not saying id get either... just wondering what you would do?
<Read, consider my options/choices. Bob Fenner>
Re: changing the tank up, BR stkg.    4/9/12

I suppose the "freshwater moray eel" (not freshwater by a long shot I know)
is out of the question? As it requires a stronger salinity than 1.005?
<Likely so. B>

Re: A Newby~ Question about fish compatibility for stocking a tank... BR stkg.   1/16/12
Hi Neal,
Couple more quick questions...  Would Mollies or a Knight Goby or even Indian Glass Fish or an Orange Chromide eat Ghost shrimp?  I feel like the Knight might but haven't been able to confirm this yet in the forums.
<Knight Gobies will certainly go for small shrimps, and Glassfish will eat anything they can swallow whole. The other two species, perhaps the Chromides, given the chance, but Mollies aren't especially predatory or equipped to deal with large prey, though they certainly do eat mosquito larvae.>
Also, I found some small cut up granite stone.  It's pink and was sold in
bulk and is dirt cheap and attractive.  I am planning on using this in my
secondary small tank (10 gallon) for the initial quarantines.
<I see.>
Is that substrate harmful to Ghost Shrimp?
<Pure granite without any metal seams should be fine. I use green granite in my tanks now and have used Aberdeenshire pink granite in the past. Your own experience may vary of course depending on the type of granite sold in your area.>
After I get all my fish into the 29 gallon, I was thinking of using that tank for some Endler's and Ghost Shrimp... I read that Ghost Shrimp catch Endler's Fry and if I still end up with too many Endler's the LFS will likely take some as they're always short on those. 
The other fish I'd thought of using the smaller tank for were a Bumblebee Goby and a few of the beautiful Cherry Shrimp.  I think you said Cherry's tolerate low brackish too, do those two species tolerate granite chips for substrate?
<Yes, the granite chips won't cause problems, but Knight Gobies will certainly eat Bumblebees. Has been reported many times.>
I can do something else if necessary.  It was super inexpensive stone - like 20 times cheaper than sand or commercially bagged gravel, and beautiful too.  Right now I'm on a tight budget.
<I see.>
Thank you again.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A Newby~ Question about fish compatibility... BR stkg.     1/16/12

Thanks, Neale. 
I wouldn't put a knight with a bumblebee...  I might decide put a bumblebee and some cherry or ghost shrimp in the 10 gallon after I've totally finished using it for a quarantine tank for new fish.
<Real good.>
Though, I'm really not sure how those things work....as  I imagine I might need it again someday for quarantine!
<Entirely possible. It's fun to keep shrimps in such tanks to keep the filter ticking over. Plus, some shrimps breed away merrily in tanks without fish.>
I think once people get started in this hobby it's easy to keep acquiring more and more tanks!  I don't want to go overboard.  I'll just play it by ear I guess. 
Glad the granite will work.  Green sounds attractive.  I couldn't find any info in the forums on granite other than that I wasn't the first one to think of checking the local garden stone supply store for more affordable substrate. 
<Yes, I get all of my rocks and sand from garden centres. If such materials are safe for use in ponds, they should be safe in fish tanks.>
Thank you again.  Have a nice day.
<You too. Cheers, Neale.>

85 gal Brackish, stkg.  11/16/11
Hello Neale,
I'm in the process of upgrading to an 85 gal tank from my 55. I'm really excited and I'd like your advice on a couple of things, to make sure I'm not getting ahead of myself.
One being the possibility of overstocking my tank. This is what I have: 25 Mollies (mostly raised from fry) I plan on downsizing my Molly population to 6. 1 male 5 females, I'd like to keep the live food in my tank. A Blue Acara, 2 Monos,
<Duos don't always get along. Watch for signs of aggression. I'd recommend three, but see how it goes if you prefer.>
1 Scat (on the way),
<These are quite big and messy, so do be aware of that.>
a Malawian Cichlid (he is an experiment and so far is doing well), a Horseface loach,
<These loaches, like the Blue Acara, are very much low-end brackish water fish, SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F is about the tops for them. That's ideal for low-end brackish water fish like Mollies, Knight Gobies, Orange Chromides, Figure-8 Puffers, etc., but might be too low for the Monos and Scats in the long term. Do remember Monos and Scats are essentially saltwater fish once mature. While they can do well in brackish water as low as SG 1.003, a lot will depend on water quality and the overall level of healthcare.>
2 Orange Chromides and an Archer Fish. I also have a Green Spotted Puffer - I got him off a friend who's two other puffers were picking on him. Right now he's in a hospital tank (he's pretty beat up) with the same parameters as my tank. But my plan is to put him in the 85 gal as soon as its ready along with all my other fish. What do you think? I get the feeling your going to have something to say about my GSP or my Malawian.
<GSPs are a gamble in any mixed species tank. Some specimens are peaceful, but others can be extremely aggressive or else nippy. The Malawian, assuming it's some type of hybrid Pseudotropheus, may well tolerate slightly brackish conditions up to SG 1.003 without problems. But I wouldn't keep it in more strongly brackish conditions.>
Is this my limit?
<More or less.>
I REALLY want to try some Gobies. Specifically a Dragon Goby and some Bumblebee Gobies.
<BBGs would be much too difficult to feed in this aquarium, so aren't really an option. A Dragon/Violet Goby could work, but they're sitting targets for pufferfish, and they're also somewhat difficult to feed, so you need to be aware of their particular needs. They don't eat flake, for example, and do need things like wet-frozen bloodworms and krill, live brine shrimps, and the occasional algae wafer.>
Am I overstocking? Are they not compatible with my other fish? My substrate is a fine black sand. My new tank is completely covered. Salinity kept around 1.002 - 1.004. I'd also like to plant my new tank pretty heavily, right now I have a couple of Java ferns but that's it. Aside from Java moss and the obvious Mangrove, what other plants would you recommend? Anubias?
<Yes, at SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F these work well. Scats eat plants, as will Malawian cichlids oftentimes, so they're going to limit your options a bit.
But in theory, almost anything that does well in hard water will do well in low-end brackish. Options include Vallisneria, some of the hardy Amazon Swords, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Cryptocoryne ciliata, Hygrophila polysperma.
Do have a look at the plant section on my Brackish FAQ, here:
I'm also looking at putting a UV bulb in, good idea? I hear it kills bad bacteria.
<UV can be helpful, but they aren't cure-alls, and they do need maintenance (tube cleaning regularly, new UV tubes every 12 months).>
Will it also kill the good bacteria from my filter?
Any advice would be great! Thanks in advance, Jessica :)
<Glad to help.>
PS Where can I get your book on Brackish Aquariums?
<Oh, online probably best; Amazon for example. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 85 gal Brackish, stkg.  11/16/11

Hi Neale,
thanks for the quick reply.
<Most welcome.>
Also thanks for warning me about the Scat eating my plants. I think I'm going to leave it out of the mix.
<If you want plants, then yes, that's the best approach. On the other hand, Scats are exceptionally fun and intelligent fish.>
I have a friend that has a saltwater tank and would adopt the mono's as they got to be 4 or 5 years old. So I would get another Mono to keep my other 2 happy instead of the Scat.
<Sure thing!>
My puffer fish is very peaceful, that's why he was getting picked on in his old home, he's small and slow and he's about 3 years old.
<"He" may be a "she", hence the lack of aggression'¦>
He's in right now with one of my male mollies that's old and was getting picked on by another male, and my GSP leaves him alone as well as all the other small slow moving fish in the tank he just came from. I also have plenty of sand in my tank, and lots of hiding places. Driftwood, rocks, etc. So far so good?
In this mix could I add a Violet/Dragon Goby?
<At some risk. Do please understand there's no guarantees here with regard to feeding and getting along with your GSP, even a peaceful GSP.>
Also, I know BBG's are slow especially when it comes to eating but if I made sure food got to them, then would they be alright with the water parameters and the other fish?
<Yes, but getting food down to them will be extremely hard.>
If not, :( is there any other small fish you would recommend? Some other Goby perhaps?
<Yes, the Knight Goby, as stated before. Would be exceptionally good at eating the Molly fry. Any of the sleeper Gobies would work too, e.g., Butis butis, or Dormitator lebretonis. Though it isn't a brackish water species in the wild, Mogurnda mogurnda is a very colourful and lively Sleeper that eats most foods (mine likes Hikari cichlid pellets) and knows how to throw its weight around when it needs to!>
I'd really like one more species, something different, interesting etc. I've looked for wrestling halfbeaks, like you suggested in a previous email but I haven't been able to find them.
<Would be too small and easily bullied for this rough-and-tumble collection of fish.>
Although I'd pick up 3 or 4 if I ever came across them. Killifish just don't interest me much and I don't really like Florida Flagfish either. (I know, I'm picky'¦)
<Ah, well, too bad. I have a trio in a coldwater tank, and they're great fun. Lovely colours in summer.>
How about a Siamese Tiger fish? Would he eat any of my fish?
<Only SOME species are brackish water, i.e., Datnoides polota (formerly known as Datnoides quadrifasciatus) and Datnoides campbelli. The others are freshwater fish. In any case, Datnoides campbelli gets really big and is very aggressive. Not recommended for anything less than 150 gallons in my opinion. Datnoides polota is a nice fish, but gets to around 30 cm/12 inches in captivity, so still needs a big tank. Yes, it will eat anything it can swallow. Does work well with bigger fish though, like Scats.>
Or some type of "shark" perhaps?
<A group of Colombian Shark Catfish is always an option, but they do need middling brackish to marine conditions when mature.>
What about a fresh water flounder? And I live near the ocean/rivers that have flounder galore. Could I catch one and put in my tank? Or is that risky?
<Not worth bothering. They are EXTREMELY difficult to maintain in the long term. Easily starve, strictly nocturnal, and only eat live and wet-frozen foods. Also, temperate zone animals like those in your rivers will die in tropical aquaria.>
I'm not looking to get all of these fish I'm just looking for one or two more things to make my tank a little different. I love variety. Something neat to watch that's compatible with my Acara, monos, Horseface loach, archer fish, orange Chromides, and possibly a dragon goby, if he's possible. Any suggestions are appreciated.
<That's already quite a lot of fish for 80 odd gallons. You might want to get them all settled first. The Monos may well be temporary additions, moving after a year or two. In that time, you can keep your eyes peeled for brackish oddballs. If you look over my Brackish FAQ you'll get some idea of what's around. There are lots of things that appear only rarely, and keeping some space in your aquarium means you can snap them up when they do appear!>
You can even call me crazy for all these questions! I'm just so mesmerized sometimes when I'm trying to pick out fish and plants and everything! So I really appreciate that you answer personal emails!
Thanks so much,
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Viable Brackish stocking, or expensive buffet? 5/12/2011
I was wondering if I could trouble you for a second opinion on my stocking plan. I've tried searching online, but I can't find enough information to be confident in my choices. I have a 30 gal tank (36"L 12"W 15"H) with a Magnum 350 filter that I am planning on converting to a low-end brackish tank. I picked the tank up used when I needed somewhere temporary to keep the livestock in my Sumatran biotope tank. Unfortunately my house shifted rendering the tank non-level. I've since moved it to more stable wall and
now the 30 gal is sitting empty begging for fish.
My preliminary stocking plan is
1M:3F chocolate Lyretail mollies - hybrid of some type with a maximum size listed at my LFS comparable to the other shortfin mollies
<Indeed. A good species for brackish water systems.>
6 fairy gobies - *Redigobius balteatus*
<Another good species, essentially identical to Bumblebee Gobies in terms of care.>
10 Blueback blue-eyes - *Pseudomugil cyanodorsalis*
<A very rarely traded species, but known to be hardy and easy to keep, in brackish/marine conditions at least.>
10 Rudolph shrimp - *Caridina gracilirostris*
<Another good species.>
I'm slightly concerned though that the blue-eyes and shrimp would end up an expensive snack for the gobies. Would the pacific blue-eye (*Pseudomugil signifer*) fare a bit better since it's larger? or should I go with a different goby or schooling fish?
<I can't imagine the gobies eating the Blue-eyes. Shrimps are a bit hit-and-miss, but I wouldn't expect them to eat the shrimps either. Worth a flutter. These gobies are mostly eating zooplankton and small insect larvae.>
Also, 11 months of the year, our water is very hard (as in almost identical to lake Malawi). For the aquascaping of this tank, I was planning on including some mussel, snail and oyster shells, along with some of our local limestone and possibly Aragocrete (as long as it doesn't look too marine-like). Would the shells, marine salt and my tap water push the hardness too high for a brackish tank?
Should I only be including shells during the month after the spring melt when our hardness plummets?
<I wouldn't rely on shells or rocks to stabilise pH and hardness. Instead, place a bag of crushed coral in the filter. A cup should do. Keep this clean by rinsing under hot water every month or so. It will dissolve into the water much more reliably than shells or rocks covered with algae and bacteria. In any case, your marine aquarium salt mix should be steadying pH and hardness all by itself if the specific gravity is at least 1.005, which it should be for these species.>
Thank you in advance for your help,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Weird brackish water habitat in FLA   4/18/11
Hi Bob,
> These are rather jolly. Not sure what the salinity is, but there's a real weird mix of stuff: common Plecs, red-ear sliders, gar, mullet, stingrays and more. The seagrass, turtle grass or Vallisneria looks really bizarre trimmed down like that. Definitely not something Amano would be trying to recreate in an aquarium!
> http://frank.itlab.us/silverglen_2004/
> I did know about the St Johns River stingrays, the only freshwater stingrays in North America, but seeing them with a bunch of exotic freshwater tropicals is remarkable and perhaps worrying. But it really is fascinating to see that the boundary between freshwater and saltwater habitats is so fluid in reality, despite the differences we aquarists perceive in them. 
> Anyway, enjoy!
> Cheers, Neale
<As the writer states, the calcium carbonate concentration is high enough (but not too high) to allow all to osmoregulate. Am bummed to see the Oreochromis here. Cheers, BobF>

my fish tank, BR, stkg., rdg. /RMF  3/29/11
Hello, I have a 40-50 gallon tank that got given to me by a friend when they moved. it contains 2 green spotted puffers, a Dalmatian molly, a gold flecked molly, 2 black molly's and several tiny fish that I don't have a name for. after doing some research I'm pretty sure that with the puffers this is to/o many fish in that tank. but I don't know what to do with some of the fish to make room?
<Not unless the GSPs are very large, not yet.... Do read here:
and the linked files above>
I cant fit another tank in my little house I barely have room for this one. and I cant find any one to give them to do you have any ideas.
Also I've had the fish for a couple of months now and they seem fine but I don't know how to check to make sure the water is still good for them to live in.
<Also posted... please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM>
I'm not sure what kind of filter came with it and I do a 50% water change every week and deep clean every month. What can I get to make sure my brackish water is where its suppose to be?
<... read>
all of the pet stores that I've gone to I'm not even sure that any of them know what brackish
water was all they knew was fresh and salt.
<...? Really? Inform them. Bob Fenner>
thank you
my fish tank, BR, stkg., rdg. /Neale   3/29/11

Hello, I have a 40-50 gallon tank that got given to me by a friend when they moved. it contains 2 green spotted puffers,
<These are "nippy" fish and can be territorial. While I have seen them get along with Mollies, don't bank on it.>
a Dalmatian molly, a gold flecked molly, 2 black molly's and several tiny fish that I don't have a name for.
<Likely these tiny fish are baby Mollies.>
after doing some research I'm pretty sure that with the puffers this is to many fish in that tank.
<Hmm'¦ not right now perhaps. But two adult GSPs will need 55 gallons, so throw in the Mollies, and yes, even a 50 gallon tank would be cramped.>
but I don't know what to do with some of the fish to make room?
<Mollies shouldn't be hard to rehome: they're popular fish. GSPs are "pets" in many ways because they become very tame, to the point where they can be hand fed. So the ideal solution is one GSP in this aquarium, rehome the other GSP, and either move the Mollies to another (ideally slightly brackish, but at least hard water) community aquarium.>
I cant fit another tank in my little house I barely have room for this one. and I cant find any one to give them to do you have any ideas.
<Many fish shops will take back unwanted fish. Here in England at least, the Maidenhead Aquatics chain will certainly do so, so if you're in the UK, that's one option. Alternatively, fish clubs exist in most large cities. These are good places to rehome fishes.>
Also I've had the fish for a couple of months now and they seem fine but I don't know how to check to make sure the water is still good for them to live in.
<Well, I'm sure they'd be dead by now if something was seriously amiss -- both Mollies and GSPs are sensitive to poor environmental conditions. So you must be getting at least the basics right.>
I'm not sure what kind of filter came with it and I do a 50% water change every week and deep clean every month.
<Sounds good. In fact, a 25% water change each week is usually adequate, but by all means, do bigger water changes if you want.>
What can I get to make sure my brackish water is where its suppose to be?
<I'd recommend two bits of kit. The first is a nitrite (with an "I", not nitrate with an "a") test kit. This is a good measure of water quality. If it isn't zero, then something is wrong. Too much food, too many fish, not enough filtration. Secondly, get a hydrometer. This measures the saltiness of the water via something called specific gravity, often abbreviated to "sg" or "SG". At 25 C/77 F, the specific gravity of the water should be 1.003 for Mollies and GSPs as youngsters, and anything up to 1.010 as they get bigger. But let's stick to 1.003 for now. That's fine for long-term health, and is low enough you can keep hardy plants in there such as Giant Vallis, Java Ferns, Indian Fern, Anubias, and so on. In terms of salinity, it's 6 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix (e.g., Reef Crystals) per litre of water, or about 0.8 ounces per US gallon.>
all of the pet stores that I've gone to I'm not even sure that any of them know what brackish water was all they knew was fresh and salt.
<There's lots to read here at WWM on this, as well as my wonderful (!) book, Brackish-Water Fishes. Do peruse my FAQ, too:
thank you
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking Q's?!   2/25/11
Hi Neale,
Jessica here. (that's probably a dumb thing to say as you more then likely have hundreds of ppl sending you questions)
I have a 55gal brackish setup kept at a specific gravity of 1.002 with Mollies, Platies, Cherry Shrimp and a Horseface Loach.
I plan on getting a small school of Indian (undyed) Glassfish (probably around 6 or so) and a Blue Acara.
<Both should do well, though I wouldn't put much money on the shrimps lasting too long...>
My question is this, could I put either type of pufferfish in with them?
<I wouldn't, though Figure-8 puffers might just work, if you get one of the less nippy specimens.>
Would they eat my shrimp?
Also I hear bumblebee gobies are difficult to care for. Is that true?
<Not really. They're difficult to feed, so tend not to last long on busy community tanks.>
If I can't have a puffer and the gobies are high maintenance, is there any other little interesting fish that would be compatible with the other tank mates I have?
<Violet Gobies are certainly very unusual, and many people like to keep them. Wrestling Halfbeaks are another option, but they're a bit small and might be bothered by the Mollies. Peacock Spiny Eels thrive in brackish water at low salinities like yours, so you might try keeping a couple of them. Finally, you might also try a killifish of some sort, perhaps the Asian Killie, Aplocheilus lineatus, most widely sold nowadays in its "Golden Wonder Killifish" form. It's a good community fish, but territorial towards one another and predatory towards very small fish.>
Or would I be over stocking?
<55 gallons is a lot of space for fish this size'¦>
I'm really counting on the Glassfish to eradicate my molly fry overload.
<Oh yes, as will Asian Killifish.>
As of Tuesday I have well over 60 fry! I've lost count! That's a good indication my water parameters are good though right?
<Can be.>
I do test for Ammonia(0), PH(9),
<Seems a bit high, but brackish livestock shouldn't care.>
Nitrate(0). But there are a lot of minerals I don't test for. Should I be? All those test kits are expensive!
I'm also considering setting up a Betta tank in my 10gal and taking the platies out of my 55 gal and putting them in with the Betta. Would that be ok?
<Can work, but Bettas are a bit inept at feeding time, and Platies are boisterous, and the males will squabble in 10 gallons.>
If it is, how many would be too many in there with the Betta?
<I wouldn't keep Platies in less than 15 gallons, which is ample for two males and four females.>
I haven't emailed in a while so I know I'm asking a lot of questions but I REALLY appreciate that you reply to all these emails! Thanks so much! It's really awesome...
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stocking Q's?!   2/25/11
I'm not quite sure I follow...
Will the Acara or the Glassfish eat my shrimp? Or both?
And if I get a calm figure 8 puffer they might not eat the shrimp?
<Oh, it'll eat the shrimps either way. But a calm Figure-8 won't eat the fins from your other fish; a nippy one will.>
Could I put the cherry shrimp in with a Betta in a 10gal?
And should I only get 1 Killifish, since they tend to be territorial?
<Allow about a square foot each specimen, though males tolerate females better than other males.
Cheers, Neale.>

Adopted "Brackish" Aquarium - Combining BW/FW Fish 12/23/07 Hello Crew, <Hi Jess, Pufferpunk here> I have recently adopted a 29 gal aquarium from a friend( by recently, I mean I've had it for about 2 months). She had a GSPuffer in it along with 2 dwarf Gouramis and a blue paradise Gourami. The sides of the aquarium were so thick with algae and other gross things that you couldn't actually see through the glass. Obviously, I have cleaned and spruced up a bit (a giant piece of petrified wood and some hardy FW plants have been added and the nasty plastic children's toys were removed). I have read on your website, the GSP is actually a brackish water fish and the gouramis are a strictly FW breed I am at loss as to what to do. The GSP isn't doing so hot, he is still a dark olive color except a bright green patch on his head. I'm not entirely sure of what to do. If I raise the salinity the gouramis would almost certainly die and keeping it where it is now is hurting the GSP. I was thinking about stealing a 10 gallon tank from my mother and turning it into one of their homes, but then neither will have enough room. I am at a loss as of what to do, please help. <If the puffer is still small (under 2"), you can keep it in the 10g tank for a short while but over 2", it will need a 30g tank (I suppose the 29g will suffice). Otherwise, I guess you will have to move the gouramis in the 10 gallon tank. Be sure you read up on cycling a tank before moving any of them. Get yourself a good liquid test kit, to keep an eye on ammonia & nitrite (should be 0 at all times) & nitrate (should be below 20). Also pH, which should be neutral for the FW fish (around 7.2) & alkaline for the puffer (around 8). Have you read this article? It will tell you all about the care & feeding of the puffer. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Also check out more info on puffers at: www.thepufferforum.com. In addition, there is plenty of information info about your gouramis at our site. You will probably want to upgrade them some time soon.> Thanks, Jess PS, buying a larger tank is hopefully in the distant (as in after I have graduated college) future but that's not going to be for another 3 or so years. <In that case, you may want to find homes for either the gouramis or the puffer. ~PP>

BW Fish, FW Fish & Iodine Q  7/3/06 I have put this one of the forums that you have on you web site already...  Not to sound too blonde, but when I posted it (originally) I was actually trying to send the question to ya'll...  Anyway here goes the question, please let me know if you can help.  Thanks sooo much the awesome site!!!  I have really, really enjoyed reading it!!! I have a 37 gallon brackish water tank. In the tank resides a green spotted puffer fish (T. nigroviridis), a blue crayfish, three Bala sharks, three zebra danios and four neon tetras. <What exactly do you mean by brackish?  There is only 1 brackish water species in there--the puffer.  None of any of your other fish would appreciate living in true BW.  As far as the amount of MARINE salt your puffer would need in it's tank, a rough estimate would be around a cup of salt/5g (& that's just when it's young).  As it matures, marine conditions are recommended for a GSP.> I know that it is a really weird combination, they kinda go together like stripes and polka dots. <<Why not toss in a zebra and a cheetah then? RMF>>  I also know that you have reservations about puffers and crayfish living together or puffers and anything living together for that matter. My puffer, Calypso, is about 1 1/2 inches and my crayfish, Cozumel, is about 2 inches in length. <There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that your puffer will eventually maim/eat the Cray, in addition to the neons.> My Balas, Marga, Rita and Ville seem very happy they are apprx 2 inches in length. There is plenty of room for them to swim. <They will eventually grow quite large.> My crayfish has even started to come up to me when I'm at the tank!!  She and Calypso have gotten along very, very well. As long as I keep them both fed and plenty of hiding places. I also have a snail breeding tank, for Calypso and Cozumel, which they just love the escargot treats!!! Okay so I do actually have a point. I have yet to find this anywhere, but not that Cozumel is having health problems, but just incase for whatever reason she may come down with something in the future, and I do give her the iodine treatment (Kent marine, one drop per every 10 gallons of water). Could this somehow affect Calypso or any of my other fish, also could it maybe affect the snails that I use to feed Calypso and Cozumel. I know that the snails are in my tank for only a short time before Cozumel and Calypso can smell them. Even so, would the iodine affect the snails and therefore in return affect Calypso and Cozumel after consuming the snails??? Like I said before, things are really good and my water is not off balance but if something were to happen this may help in the future... Thanks for your help, if you can. <As long as dosed as instructed & not overdosed, it should be OK to use.  I'd rethink your species combo seriously though.  ~PP> Also most of all thanks for the kick butt site!!! Not only is it informative but it is also fun to read!!!- - Arlyn

Eyes Bigger than Tank?  2/14/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hey there, me again. Thank you for all your previous advice. VERY bad news, though. My tank is now broken (All fish are A-OK)! So that new tank might be coming sooner than I thought... Anyways, my point is, next year I was considering getting a ~100 gallon tank, and making it an archer fish tank. I was thinking six common archers (not seven-spot) in the bottom 75 gallons, and a cricket part on top. <As archers grow to a foot, I would say you could maybe keep 2 in a 100g tank.  That's it.> Would I be able to get ~4 scats that my LFS says will stay around 4 inches as well? <Scats grow as large as a dinner plate, not 4".  Again, you could keep 2 in there, that's it & no archers then.> Or maybe some gobies too... do you have any compatible suggestions of interesting fish for a brackish tank? It will be very well planted with tons of driftwood to simulate mangrove roots and have lots of java fern. <If you are using real wood, then it is not recommended in a BW tank.  It will release tannins & lower the pH.  You want to keep the pH around a steady 8.  Best done by using crushed coral or aragonite substrate & no driftwood.  PetSmart makes really nice fake mangrove roots for a tank like that.> Any fish/plant/decoration suggestions would be appreciated. Also, I cannot find any suggestions on how much salt to use! What salinity level should the water be at and how many tablespoons of Kent sea salt will I have to use per gallon? <We are not talking teaspoons but more like cups.  It takes "roughly" a cup of salt/5g to raise your SG .005.  Depending on what kind of fish you get, some (like scats) need to have the SG raised over time, to eventual marine conditions, as these fish mature.  Always premix overnight & test with a hydrometer.> I was also looking at freshwater lionfish for the tank (toadfish). Good choice, or not? <If you're considering any gobies, the toadfish will eat them.  BIG mouth! I would suggest either 2 archers or 2 scats, or 1 of each.  Then if you want, you could keep a few knight gobies in with them.  There are lots of smaller BW fish, like figure 8 puffers, green or red Chromides, etc.  Just remember, some prefer high-end BW/SW as adults, others don't.>    If you have any suggestions, please tell me. Also, I was wondering if you could recommend  any filters for this tank. Remember, I am pretty much limited to canisters as other filters would not reach the low water level. <I am only familiar with Eheim filters.  Have been using them for >20 years & still use the originals.> Thank you, and take your time with this, as I am in no rush to begin this future project. Thanks again. -Eddy <Yes, take your time to research different species--water requirements, adult sizes, etc.  Sounds like a fun project!  ~PP>

Mixing Fresh with Brackish fish 11/6/05 <Hi Anna, Pufferpunk here> I have a very "unique" tank to say the least. I inherited a 90 gallon system originally drilled for reef use and then patched to work for freshwater. At the time I had just a few fish left over from a my 20 gallon (of which only one tinfoil and a fire striped dwarf gourami are still with me), so I took in a friends figure 8 puffer and a mono argenteus. <Monos are a schooling fish that grow to around a foot & require marine conditions as adults.> I decided to convert the tank to slightly brackish (1 tbs aquarium salt per gallon, I now use Instant Ocean to maintain the pH) <Not nearly enough salt to call BW. Even to make low-end BW (SG around 1.005), it takes roughly a cup of salt/5gal.> for the mono and invest in a snowflake eel. He is to the best of my knowledge, a Gymnothorax tile. I then got 2 Colombian shark cats and a large Pleco. <Plecos do not like salt of any kind. The Columbian sharks are schooling fish that grow up to 18" & require SW as adults, as does the eel.> Recently, in an effort to make the 90 gallons feel more full <Sounds like it's getting pretty full to me--you need to consider adult sizes of all your fish.> I bought 3 breeding pairs of black convict cichlids who have done very well for the 2-3 months I've had them, I also purchased a lone green terror as an experiment to see if he could live with my less aggressive fish (he's also done very well with the salt and only bothers the convicts). My dilemma now is that I have half brackish fish living in the proper water, <Not exactly> and half new world cichlids who have been acclimated but both groups having vastly different water needs. <Definitely correct there> I'm wondering what a good middle ground would be for pH? 7.0 seems to be OK for all of the fish as it is on the high end for the cichlids and the low end for the brackish fish <Extremely low for BW--should be 8.> but I'm afraid that as the eel requires a saltier environment (and a pH of 8) that the cichlids will begin to stress. <and the other aforementioned fish that require SW conditions as adults. The puffer also likes a pH of 8, although does best at a low-end SG of 1.005.> I also wonder if the cichlids can adapt to a harder water than is ideal for them? I was contemplating adding some Aragalive marine sand to the existing cichlid substrate to help maintain the pH, could they handle that? <Cichlids are best kept in harder water & aragonite or crushed coral substrate is necessary to keep the pH around a steady 8 for BW fish.> I am also curious is the salinity has any effect on the growth of the freshwater fish? My tinfoil especially seems to have stopped growing at 7" from 2.5" when I got him. I guess all in all this is a big experiment, both to see if the freshwater fish make it and if I can keep aggressive fish with my leftover community tank mates. I just want to try and make sure I'm doing all I can to meet their diverse needs. -Anna <Sorry, it just can't be done. For the best health & well-being of your fish, you need to choose between the 3 types you have--FW, high-end BW & low-end BW. I believe you already see the results of keeping your fish in improper conditions... ~PP>

Brackish beginner - 12/11/05 Hi, I'm an slightly experienced freshwater owner. <Hello... John here this evening> After quitting the hobby for four and a half years, I'm ready for more! I was planning on making a freshwater aquarium with tetras, platies, and all the skittish fish. But I read a really neat article about Archer Fish. It appealed to me, and now I am seriously considering turning a 36x12x21" (40 gal) tank into a brackish aquarium. Is keeping a brackish fish difficult for a person like me? <I don't know you ;)... but, no, it shouldn't be.> Some other fish I'd like are monos, bumblebees, scats, and puffers. <These can't go in together... a 40g is too small for monos or scats. Most puffers are best kept alone.> If they grow too large, then I won't get them, but I'd really like Archer fish. <I would recommend a larger system for archers... 55 gallons minimum... even larger is better, due to their size and need to be kept in groups..> And one thing: I'm an 8th grader with a $10 allowance weekly, so tell me if I could afford it, too. <I suggest you look into smaller fish - a couple of figure-eight puffers or a few bumblebee gobies for this system.> Thanks ahead of time for your valuable response! <You're welcome! Best regards, John.>

Mixing Fresh with Brackish fish 11/6/05 <Hi Anna, Pufferpunk here> I have a very "unique" tank to say the least. I inherited a 90 gallon system originally drilled for reef use and then patched to work for freshwater. At the time I had just a few fish left over from a my 20 gallon (of which only one tinfoil and a fire striped dwarf gourami are still with me), so I took in a friends figure 8 puffer and a mono argenteus. <Monos are a schooling fish that grow to around a foot & require marine conditions as adults.> I decided to convert the tank to slightly brackish (1 tbs aquarium salt per gallon, I now use Instant Ocean to maintain the pH) <Not nearly enough salt to call BW. Even to make low-end BW (SG around 1.005), it takes roughly a cup of salt/5gal.> for the mono and invest in a snowflake eel. He is to the best of my knowledge, a Gymnothorax tile. I then got 2 Colombian shark cats and a large Pleco. <Plecos do not like salt of any kind. The Columbian sharks are schooling fish that grow up to 18" & require SW as adults, as does the eel.> Recently, in an effort to make the 90 gallons feel more full <Sounds like it's getting pretty full to me--you need to consider adult sizes of all your fish.> I bought 3 breeding pairs of black convict cichlids who have done very well for the 2-3 months I've had them, I also purchased a lone green terror as an experiment to see if he could live with my less aggressive fish (he's also done very well with the salt and only bothers the convicts). My dilemma now is that I have half brackish fish living in the proper water, <Not exactly> and half new world cichlids who have been acclimated but both groups having vastly different water needs. <Definitely correct there> I'm wondering what a good middle ground would be for pH? 7.0 seems to be OK for all of the fish as it is on the high end for the cichlids and the low end for the brackish fish <Extremely low for BW--should be 8.> but I'm afraid that as the eel requires a saltier environment (and a pH of 8) that the cichlids will begin to stress. <and the other aforementioned fish that require SW conditions as adults. The puffer also likes a pH of 8, although does best at a low-end SG of 1.005.> I also wonder if the cichlids can adapt to a harder water than is ideal for them? I was contemplating adding some Aragalive marine sand to the existing cichlid substrate to help maintain the pH, could they handle that? <Cichlids are best kept in harder water & aragonite or crushed coral substrate is necessary to keep the pH around a steady 8 for BW fish.> I am also curious is the salinity has any effect on the growth of the freshwater fish? My tinfoil especially seems to have stopped growing at 7" from 2.5" when I got him. I guess all in all this is a big experiment, both to see if the freshwater fish make it and if I can keep aggressive fish with my leftover community tank mates. I just want to try and make sure I'm doing all I can to meet their diverse needs. -Anna <Sorry, it just can't be done. For the best health & well-being of your fish, you need to choose between the 3 types you have--FW, high-end BW & low-end BW. I believe you already see the results of keeping your fish in improper conditions... ~PP>

GSPs Living with FW fish?  4/26/05 HELLO: <Hi Mike, Pufferpunk here> I have a question about moving from BW to SW, I know from your site that GSP's like full marine as adults. I would like to keep all these fish together if I could. I have 1 Pleco approx 6", 2 GSP's (1" babies), 2 Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid (1.5"babies) and 2 Jewel cichlids (1.5"babies), I would also like to get 2 electric yellow cichlids.  Will these fish live in a SW tank if raised slowly? <Absolutely not!  All the fish you have, other than the puffers are strictly freshwater fish & will not even like brackish water, never mind marine water.  Don't confuse cichlid salt with marine salt>   If not, what is the highest SG I can raise it to keep all happy and healthy?   <Please don't even consider trying to keep FW fish w/BW-SW fish!>   My current tank (30 G hex) set up is pH 8.0, SPG 1.004,ammonia is 0 (or near 0), nitrate is 0. nitrite is good and the water is a little on the soft side (soon to add crushed coral to help).  My Filtration is 1 emperor 280 with a BioWheel and a 6" air stone bubbler. <You say your water is soft, but your pH is 8?  That's a little confusing.  You tank is already fully stocked (as far as FW fish), I wouldn't add any more, as the fish you have will grow & get very aggressive, especially if they pair up.  There is a smaller "footprint" on a hex=less swimming room.  The Pleco will definitely outgrow a 30g tank at 18".  The BioWheel isn't usually recommended for BW-SW tanks, as the salt spray from the wheel will make a huge mess.  How was the tank cycled?  You should be showing some nitrAtes & never any ammonia, ever.  I would consider cycling a different tank for the GSPs (at least 20g) & make it BW for now.  As they grow up, you can upgrade (they will need 30g each as 6" adults) & turn it SW then.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP> Thank you again for your help, Mike

Keeping BW & FW fish together  4/27/05 Hello: <Hi, Pufferpunk again> Thank you for all your help. My LFS has steered me VERY wrong, leading me to believe my cichlids (electric yellow, jewel, blue Johanna <I think>) are brackish water fish...... <As I mentioned before, cichlid salt is not the same as the marine salt, used to make BW.> OPPS, I also have 2 GSPs. My question is, although I know GSP's Like full SW as adults will they survive in a light brackish tank i.e. 1.004-1.008?   <As juvies yes, but your other fish won't appreciate those conditions.  Also, as they get older, they will get meaner & bother your other fish (fin-nipping, possibly killing).  For GSPs to thrive (not just survive), they will need a much higher SG.  Not necessarily SW, but high-end BW.  One of the he reasons for getting it up to SW is, that a protein skimmer can then be utilized, which is a great filter to use for fish.> I would love to keep them and the cichlids together, I now have a 30G hex BUT looking for a 55-75 G Tank. <You'll need at least a 55, just for the puffers as 6" adults.> MAN, I started out with guppies. LOL! The money adds up.  VERY addictive. <Boy, are you ever right!  I now have 9 tanks & 15 puffers!.  Please don't keep FW & BW fish together.  ~PP> Thanks again for the help I am slowly learning and appreciate the advice. Mike

Brackish System Livestock  6/24/04 Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am in the process of setting up a brackish system, 29 gallon.  I have looked over your website and the internet and have problem finding much useful information on compatible livestock, especially on the smaller side and for invertebrates.  As this is a 29gallon most of the fish described as brackish are just too big.  I currently have 2 black mollies in for cycling the tank.  I am currently in the process of slowly "salinating" the tank, and am thinking of maybe adding a few small live rock and a small layer of live sand over the current coral rubble bottom, depending on my final "salinity" level.   <Live rock & sand will not "live" in BW conditions, only SW.> I am somewhat very loosely modeling a shore-side mangrove environment. (faux mangrove on left, skeletal stony coral on right - (coral was bought as dried/dead many years ago).  I am very interested in what invertebrates I could keep in the tank. Depending on the salinity needs and compatibility I have been considering small fiddlers (the faux mangrove does sit slightly out of the water but worried about their aggressiveness), various shrimp, possible anemone.   <Anemones are SW & extremely difficult to care for.  Fiddler crabs are BW & would fair well in a part land/water BW environment.  They may crawl out of the tank, if the land portion was on top of the mangrove root.> On the fish side  I need something suitable for a 29g, and would like something in the catfish family and possibly something in the Ropefish and/or eel family.   <All of which are FW.> I want to weight the tank heavier to the invertebrate side with just a few fish but without knowing compatibility and availability on either side of "salinity" I am not sure which way to go.  This is probably a very generic and open request but any help and suggestions will be appreciated <Inverts/crabs don't mix well at all with fish.  It is highly likely that most fish will pick at smaller inverts, like ghost shrimp & fiddler crabs may grab a fish dinner (unless you have the smaller clawed females). I have a lovely 29g tank with 3 figure 8 puffers (see: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml), 4 knight gobies & 6 bumblebee gobies.  I have crushed coral as a substrate & fake corals & anemones, with a fake mangrove root in the middle.  You can see my tank (& many others of mine) here: http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=userview&userID=1918  It is photo #19.  You really need to do more research on BW fish.  Here's a good site for starting a BW tank: http://badmanstropicalfish.com/brackish/brackish.html> Patrick Glenn <Good luck in your hunt for the perfect fish!  ~PP>

Combining BW & FW Fish?  5/8/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 20 gal hex brackish water tank with 1 tbls salt per 5 gal and good nitrite and ammonia levels. <That is hardly what I'd call brackish.  I bet if you measured that salt with a hydrometer (which is necessary for BW) it would barely  register.  Are you using marine salt?> My temp is 78-80 f. and I have an Emperor 280 filter which works wonders in that tank.  My ph is 7.4-7.5. I have Sailfin mollies in it 2 males and 2 females left. I lost 1 female Sailfin, 2 small clown loaches and 2 small algae eaters. This is an ongoing battle.  I love these fish and cannot seem to keep them alive in my tank.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. When the fish die they look normal and usually are fine one minute and floating the next. <1st of all you have BW fish (mollies) combined with soft water loving fish (loaches & algae eaters).  It's hard to diagnose a problem without any symptoms.  I would decide if you want a BW tank or a FW tank.  Those clown loaches will grow to around 12" & not knowing what kind of algae eaters you have, I can't tell you about them, except that if they are common Plecos, they grow to 18".  If they are Chinese algae eaters, they are monsters when adults.  They stop eating algae & start attacking other fish eating their slime coat.  Are you doing regular weekly water changes?> Also I LOST an African butterfly. It simply disappeared.   <I guarantee you it is dried up on the floor somewhere.  I won't keep those fish anymore, due to their jumping ability--being able to fly several feet through the air to catch bugs in low-hanging branches over the water, in their natural habitat.> Can you help??? <Sounds to me, like you need to do much more research on the species you are interested in, before purchasing your fish.  Check the species profiles at WWM & other fish sites.  ~PP>

Brackish stocking My girlfriend has a Fresh, Brackish and Salt tank.  She wants to add some spice to her Brackish tank. She keeps the salinity very low. She has a Scat, Mono, Puffer and Archer, all fairly big. <Sounds pretty spicy already!  Those are all cool fish! Monos are schooling fish, so if she could find some the same size, it would be cool to see them schooling, but they grow to 1' a piece & would need around 600g for a school of 5.  Most of the fish mentioned need SW as adults.  You said they were fairly large, so I assume they are approaching that age?  Monos, scats & green spotted puffers (T nigroviridis--you didn't mention what puffer you had), are all are born in FW, then they migrate through the estuaries (streams) between FW lakes and the ocean, to live out their adult lives in saltwater. I'm not sure about archers.> She wants to add something else like some type of catfish, a clown knife, Bala shark or a cichlid. Can any of these fish be acclimated to a brackish tank with low salinity? <absolutely not!  Most catfish & the clown knife (CK grow over 4'), come from soft waters, the opposite of BW.> Are there any other Brackish fish she can get? Scott Michael mentions that a white spotted grouper can go brackish, but at 1.014 or higher. I think she keeps her tank at 1.004. Are there any other marine fish that can go brackish? <You'd be better off making that BW tank marine.  I would raise the SG .002/week, so as not to destroy the FW nitrifying bacteria faster than the SW bacteria can grow (they are different animals).  Then you could add some SW fish.  My 6" adult GSPs live in a marine tank w/damselfish & a tomato clownfish.  Just beware--if a GSP the puffer you have, it can kill most any fish it can catch!> What about Damsels? Thanks. <How big is that tank anyway?  Scats grow as large as your outstretched hand, archers--1'.  Puffers & scats are messy eaters and high waste producers. Extra filtration is necessary for these dirty fish.  Immaculate aquarium upkeep is a must. ~PP>   A new brackish aquarium (10/19/03) Hello there... <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> my name is Robert Baxter and I've got a few questions about the proper maintenance of a brackish aquarium I just set up. I have two aquariums, one 55 gallon and a 10 gallon. Just recently a plague of Ich wiped out half the fish in my 55 while all the fish of the 10 gallon survived. In the large one I originally had two Oscars, two angels (very veteran angles, have lived with two 12" Oscars before, two 8" Pacus at a later time, and now with the two baby 2.5" Oscars), a two Raphael catfishes, a fat fin catfish, three zebra Danios (originally cycled the aquarium, Oscar chow), a large plecostomus, and two convicts. Both Raphael's, the convicts, all the zebras, and the fat fin catfish died before the Ich was suppressed with advice from a real expert. <Let me see...leaving the 55 with the Pleco, angels, and small Oscars?> Having taken her advice as the resident brackish nerd in the city and probably the entire area, I decided to move all my little fish from my 10 gallon aquarium (two tiny Plecos, an albino Cory and 11 neon tetras to re-cycle the aquarium after a total cleaning) into my 55 gallon and start up a brackish aquarium. <Uh, neon tetras are definitely *not* what I'd use to cycle a tank... and those Neons may be destined to be Oscar lunch.> Now my large aquarium is good with my Oscars happily fed many Neons and a new catfish to clean the floor (the two extra Plecos will be adopted by a store where I'm good with), and I just got the 10 gallon set up. With black volcanic sand and a few plants to help stabilize the water, I put in two bumblebee gobies and a pufferfish of equal size. Now at the pet store I was told that the gobies eat shrimp food pellets (or at least that's what they feed them at the store), but after having read articles about gobies here on these Q&A pages, I am worried that I don't have the right food. <If you've got the gobies eating dry food, you're in luck. Most bumblebee gobies will not eat dry food. You can add some fishy vitamin drops to them to make them more nutritious.> The pufferfish has delightfully been eating all my remaining frozen blood worms from a deceased eel, but I don't know if he will continue to like that or not. <Puffers can get bored of some foods. And they *need* hard-shelled foods, including seafoods, snails, and the like. Check out the assorted "Puffer Feeding FAQs" on the WetWebMedia site.> Ok, here's enough beating around the bush. What is the optimal hardness, temperature, and food for this tank to be set up for breeding? <For breeding the bumblebee gobies?? It probably depends on the specific species of bumblebee gobies -- there are several similar species. Your first step would be to identify the exact species, and then check http://www.fishbase.org for more info about that species.> There are only about 4 pet stores in this city where I could look for frozen or live foods, but I wouldn't expect to find anything exotic here. Professional suggestions? <The frozen seafood section at the grocery store is going to be a primary source of foods for your gobies & puffer. For example, one of my puffers' favorite foods is shrimp tails. I buy tail-on shrimp, chop off the end of the shrimp for the big gobies, and the puffers get the tail sections, with the shell still on. Just take care to freeze any fresh seafood for about a week to kill off any nasties it might be carrying. --Ananda> Robert Baxter

Eating Problems with an African Fahaka Puffer/Brackish Fish Compatibility Ananda, <Yep, I'm back...> First off, I just wanted to thank you for getting back to me. Getting advice when you really need it is better than not knowing what to do next, so thanks. <You're welcome. :-)> So the puffer, he/she is eating now. I don't know if it was the formaldehyde that I put in the tank or if it was a change in diet, but it is now eating like it always did. <I would guess diet.> I changed to krill and he/she seems to like it. <I have heard of extremely few puffers who turn down krill.> You had mentioned that his teeth may need some work, I read the links you had included in the email, not for nothing but a Dremel tool seems a little over the top, I don't know if that is the road I want to take. <Okay, but then you'll need harder-shelled foods than krill....> I also read that you can put crabs, clams and or mussels in the tank, is that a possibility for my tank? <Yup. I would avoid freshwater mussels that have not been frozen, however...there is some anecdotal evidence that these can be disease carriers.> What would you recommend? He does have a set of teeth on him, but I don't think it is restricting him from eating. <Try some other foods and see how he does. Shrimp tails are an easy one to start with, as are crab bits (especially the pointy ends of the crab legs).> You mentioned that my tank may be a little small (20 gal) for the fish that I have in the tank. <For their adult sizes, no "may be" about it.> How many gallons would you recommend for them. I have the Fahaka puffer, <Pufferpunk just got a 125 gallon tank for hers.> 2 Mono's, <Long-term, 75 gallon, minimum...also depends on what other fish you keep in with them, since they need a brackish tank going to saltwater> one yellow Labidochromis <Probably a 55 would be sufficient> and a Pleco. <Long-term, maybe a 90 gallon -- what the fish stores don't tell you is that these guys can get to be 2' long. It *might* be able to share the Fahaka's tank, if the Fahaka will leave it alone.> I think you said somewhere around 55 gal? <It depends on the species in the tank....> You also sad that as the Mono's mature, they will need brackish water and eventually salt water as they approach their adult size. How long does it take to reach their adult size, how salty should the water be, can they remain in the same tank as the other fish, and how can you  tell if the fish already needs saltier water.    <It should probably have saltier water now. How big is it?> More questions, what should the average temperature, of the tank I have now, be considering different types of fish? <Most people I know go with 76 degrees for most of their fish. Some particular species like warmer temps, but 76 should be good for now.> Sorry about the length of this email, but I figured that I should ask as many questions I could based on the helpful response I received from you before. <If you'd like more peoples' opinions, do check out our brackish and freshwater forums on http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/!> I know I may be doing some things wrong with the tank I have now, I would rather know what I am doing than do further damage to the poor little fish. <And we are happy that you're investigating things now, *before* those fish have difficulties.> Thanks again, Chris <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer confusion (09/17/03) <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have had a Fig-8 puffer (2 inches) in a brackish system (29 gallon, SG=1.008, pH=8.2), with a green scat (3.5 inches ), and five bumblebee gobies.  Everything was going good for a while, until my scat became a little too comfortable, and aggressive. <They get big, too... too large for a 29 gallon, eventually.> I don't know what I was thinking, but when I was at the LFS, I fell for what they called a Jade Puffer (about 3.5 inches; also known as Ceylon puffer, and same genus/species as fig-8). <I'm not certain they're the same species... they are sometimes sold as the same genus/species and have some similarities, but are from very different areas.> I tried the new puffer in my existing tank after a slow acclimation.  Once in the tank, aggression was higher than before, but I probably should have been anticipating that, so now the Ceylon puffer is alone in a 20H.  The scat is scared for his life right? <Well, that may be getting a bit anthropomorphic, but possibly...> I know your site says fig-8's are freshwater, but I have read both sides of the matter.   <Me, too.> I would like to get rid of my scat, and go freshwater with both tanks if possible.   I would appreciate any help. Ian <Hmmm. Your bumblebee gobies are definitely brackish. If you wish to keep them, you should have at least one brackish tank. --Ananda>

Help with my brackish water tank Bob <Amanda> I read your recommendations on plants for brackish water and I just wanted to see if what you thought about my situation... I recently introduced bumble bee gobys to my formerly VERY happy fresh water tank ... now after some research I am learning they need brackish water... <Yes> ok I don't want them to die... but the tank is doing so well ... I have some Japanese shrimp, vale, Sagittarius, and neon tetras... plus the new bumble bee's will everyone be ok with a little more salt? <Actually... most all, but not the Neons. I would put them in a system with softer, more acidic water... with no added salt. Bob Fenner> Thank you Amanda

Re: brackish water question... Here is my problem... I recently bought five bumble bee goby's even more recently I learned they need brackish water... (no one at the pet store said a thing) <Mmm, must be the same tank, Amanda> The tank they are in is my favorite - it is well planted with fast growing Val and Sagittarius... there are two Japanese shrimp and about ten neon tetras... will adding a small amount of salt for the bumble bee's harm the others? <Just the Neons> I am hesitant because the tank is so well balanced I never have to clean any algae ... just remove the Val when it starts to take over... Thank you so much for any ideas.... Amanda <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Brackish Livestocking Formula Dear Bob, Is there a specific formula for how many fish you can fit in a brackish water aquarium.  <No real formula... same sorts of general rules per thumb... an inch maximum per 2-3 gallons...> Is it the same as a freshwater aquarium? Irene <More conservative... due to their typically more active metabolisms, tendency to be more aggressive. When/where in doubt, allow more room is a commonality. Bob Fenner>

55 gallon tank (brackish livestocking mainly) Hello again! <<Hi... JasonC this time.>> I wrote just yesterday and you replied instantly! thank you so much! Well, I went out and bought some furan 2 for my sick Arius seemanni, but by the time I got home it was too late, he had died while I was gone. His physical condition had diminished so fast and when I finally realized what it was, it was too late, but thank you so much for your help! <<I am sorry to hear of your loss.>> On a lighter note...I have been reading massive amounts of articles and care sheets - you name it! and everything conflicts horribly and I haven't been able to pin down exactly what I should be doing... I am relatively new to brackish keeping and I am very new to large aquaria (I'm used to small tanks with cheap livestock - goldfish!) so I'm not really sure where my inches to gallons should sit. I have heard 1 inch per gallon for fresh and 1 inch per five gallons for marine, but brackish is neither so...??? <<Erk... I'm not at all a fan of inch-per-gallon ratios. They are a poor guide and typically lead to overcrowded systems.>> what do I do? <<Be conservative, stock less than you think you should.>> Or maybe better is to give the fish I would like to have and maybe you can let me know if there are too many! I would like to keep 3 mono Sebae, 3 marbled gobies (really a brackish fish? the LFS says yes, but is the SG too heavy for the Monos or the gobies?) and one dog faced puffer. <<Hmm... well, you are actually leaning more towards a marine system here. The puffer and Monos would all need a specific gravity of 1.021-1.025 to thrive. As for those gobies - they reach a maximum of two feet and probably aren't really suitable for anything but the largest aquaria. In addition, these go towards the more freshwater end of brackish rather than close to marine. All that being said, you didn't mention the size of your tank.>> The puffer is actually one of the problems! I placed an order for fish and I just asked the woman to put me down for a dog faced puffer (my intention was A. hispidus), but apparently nearly all of the Arothron species are called dog faced puffers and so I could be getting anything! I have seen a lot of pages and say the nigropunctatus are the most commonly available but that they are also marine, should I decline the fish if that's what it turns out to be or will he adjust to heavy brackish? (1.011) <<It may adjust for a little while, but in the long term will not survive such a low SPG - these are true marine fish.>> I have tried to find info on my own but I haven't found anything specific. <<Try reading up here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/monos.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracgobioids.htm >> I'm worried! puffers are amazing fish, and I certainly don't want to put a little puffer into a brackish tank where he'll be unhappy or maybe even die! <<Perhaps consider a marine tank.>> I've heard they're very adaptable, but I don't want to make him miserable! At any rate I have a billion more questions but I don't want to bother you that much at once! <<Well... you've got some reading there. Do check out those articles and the FAQs beyond - could be your questions have already been asked and answered there.>> Thank you again for your amazingly quick reply on the last email, you rock! Have a great day and thanks for your patience with me! Sincerely, Rachael <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sick Arius seemanni Hi Bob We have 3 Arius seemanni in a 46 gal. hexagonal tank with 10 African cichlids, 3 tiger barbs, 3 golden barbs, 4 cherry barbs, and 2 common places. <wow... what a truly bizarre mix <G> of fishes from Africa, Asia and South America. Really, you have fishes needing three different water qualities here: African for hard, alkaline and mildly brackish... neutral Asia water quality preferences... and soft acidic south American demons (Pleco). It is difficult if at all possible to maintain all such fishes in good health in the long run under such compromised water quality> The water is brackish. ph 7.8, ammonia-norm, nitrate-norm temp -80. we have two fake plants and lots of brook rocks, and crushed coral on the bottom,  <all conducive to the African cichlids> a magnum 350 filter, and two 6" air stones.  <is the magnum the only biological filter?!?! If so... it is very poorly suited and undersized for the job. Really just a good mechanical and chemical filter instead. Do add much better biological filtration (like an Eheim with ceramic noodles and course foam or a wet/dry filter> The catfish have developed white spotty lumps all over their bodies and are not active as when we bought them a week ago they also have not eaten for about a day. Do you know what this is and if so what can we do about it? <hmmm.... likely a bacterial infection, but do review the archives on disease to see if a photo or description can help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm> Thank You, Jenessa <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

brackish water fish to freshwater Hi Bob, I am thinking about starting a new aquarium and I was wondering if you could answer a quick question for me. The question I wanted to ask was: Is it possible to keep brackish water fish in a freshwater tank? If you could give me some feedback I would really appreciate it. <Some species, yes... as long as the water is hard, alkaline... Please take a read through our Brackish Subweb: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm and chat with other "brackish aquarists" on our Chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Bob Fenner> Chris Sais

Brackish Anemones Just curious if you have any information on the plausibility of keeping anemones in a brackish water tank? I've heard that the Beadlet, Snakelock, & Starlet anemones can be acclimated to a brackish environment.  <Only have some notion as to the actual species you mention, but yes, do know of, have kept Actinarians in (even collected same from) brackish water systems... and will get off my duff and write, post more on these topics soon (did outlines for "components", "set-up", "maintenance" during a recent trip away), onto actual livestock groups. The ones thus far: http://wetwebmedia.com/brackish.htm> I plan on setting up a tank w/ a specific gravity of approximately 1.01. I do not want to cause any undue stress on the animals and I can't find very much reliable information on the subject (not a good sign). Any information you could send my way would be appreciated. Thank you for your time. <There have been many articles over the years, even a couple of small book/lets on brackish biotopes... but not much that is/was complete... Perhaps you will be the one to "put it all together". Bob Fenner>

Brackish Questions Been slowly lifting the salinity of my brackish tank; targeting .017, .018, etc... any advice on which marine fish can tolerate (or even thrive) in these conditions? I've been told the damsels do well, so I'm wondering about any other fish and/or anemones... <<If I were you, I would post this question on the WWM discussion forum, in the brackish area. There are some avid brackish drinkers there who probably have some experience with this. http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/  If you prefer, I can post it for you...>> as well, the water went cloudy and all the fish became aggressive toward each other (this is in another brackish tank) after living healthy and peaceful lives for months. I've changed the water a few times, cleaned the filter (canister type), tried feeding less, etc...but the cloudiness hasn't really changed. lots of orange-brown algae starting up as well..... what to do? <<for this, I would start with some activated carbon, if you haven't run some already.>> thanks for any advice Toronto fish nerd <<you are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Brackish aquariums Do you know which fishes I can keep together with a mudskipper in a 60l aquarium, with a water depth on 15 cm, Ph 7, sg. 1.005-1.015 and with a hard water quality? <please begin to research your interest in brackish aquariology at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackish.htm Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Sourcing Livestock, FW Do you any where that I can buy a white molly? <Contact your local stores... or the etailers on WetWebMedia.com Links pages> What's a good site to buy brackish fish? <Need to look about. Ask the folks on our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Bob Fenner> thanks

Hey Mr. Fenner (livestocking a brackish system) I am wanting to keep three Monos (Monodactylus Argenteus) and a puffer. Nigroviridis) or two in a 75 gal aquarium, would this work? and I'm thinking about whether to get sand or gravel for my bottom and a canister or one or two box filters. any suggestions? Should do okay... Please read through the various Brackish Water Set-Up et al. pieces on our WWM site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackish.htm I would use a calcareous substrate, and a hang on filter... or sump type. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hey Mr. Fenner
any suggestions for the substrate? <Please use the search feature on, read over WWM here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hey Mr. Fenner
oh by the way, I think your site has a pretty good layout:) <Thank you. Suggestions for improvement gladly accepted. Bob Fenner>

Brackish Livestock Selection Dear Sir: <Just Bob, please> I have an established 35 gallon tank with 6 Gouramis approx 2", five black mollies approx 2", one Plecostomus approx 4", 3 green catfish approx 1", and 4 leopard or spotted puffers 1" to 1.5" I added the puffers without really knowing what I was getting into. The people at the LFS didn't really know about them. In fact they told me that they would eat flake food. <Would like to see these folks live on dry cereal for a while> After I began researching them on the internet I began feeding them brine shrimp worms etc.. and they seem to be doing well (it's been about a week). I have put in approx 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt for each 7 gallons and all fish seem fine with that. Now that I have this working I am wondering what will have to change as these fish grow. I realize that the mollies are also brackish and am considering trading in the Gouramis for other brackish type fish. <Mmm, they may be fine with this amount of salt, and even more. Please read through the brackish livestock section here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackish.htm including the livestock area> But I wonder if I really have room for more anyway? <You are wise to not overload your system. All much healthier, happier with room to spare> I would like to possibly add a freshwater snowflake eel that I have seen on the Internet what is your opinion on this. <My area on these species: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwmorayeels.htm I would leave off with trying one here... too likely to eat your other fishes... and/or jump out> You have a great site (already bookmarked). I appreciate any help. <Ah, a pleasure my friend in fish. Bob Fenner> Thanks, D. Joe Hall

Fwd: brackish fish hello FAMA, I was wondering if you had any information on brackish fish, mostly puffers, Australian bullrout and the gobies  <Hi. Your request was forwarded to me by the fine folks at FAMA. Please see the listings of brackish livestock articles posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishfishes.htm Bob Fenner> 

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