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Thread: Salt Water fish tanks...some help?

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    Default Salt Water fish tanks...some help?

    This is sort of like Katie's thread, though it is about salt water fish...and I didn't want to hi-jack her thread.

    I just visited the E-quarium in the mall yesterday...it was awesome. It had every kind of fish I ever wanted. I already wanted to do a salt water set up beforehand, but this just set me way over the edge.

    I wanted to set up Peaches' 29 gallon after she moves into her completed Exo-Terra.

    What I want :

    Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus OR the clown triggerfish...don't know the scientific name, sorry)
    Blue Hippo Tang - AKA: powder blue tang, blue tang, etc
    Common Clown Fish (the red ones/lol)

    I'm not sure if any of these can fit into a 29 gallon, though I think the clown fish might? I really don't know.

    If the tang can, I would set up everything revolving around it/them. If not, I will revolve everything around trig. Then if that doesn't work, the clown fish will have to do.

    A few questions about equipment:

    1. Are protein skimmers absolutely necessary?

    2. Do I need a UV Sterilizer?

    3. I'm a bit confused as to the recommended gallonage for each fish is. For example, say I wanted _X_ fish, but you needed 30 gallons for this particular fish. Now would I have to only keep this one fish in my 29 g...or can I keep more smaller fish.....?

    4. This hobby is EXPENSIVE! $50 for salt, $200 for rocks, $100 for fish, $200 for filters...it goes on and on. Can you tell me what you have on/in your tanks and give me the price range you spent?

    If I think of more, I'll post them.

    Thanks!!
    Tyler

    Rhacodactylus ciliatus - 1.2.15.4
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    No time right now to answer all this, but to answer quickly here:

    Absolutely no to keeping the trigger or tang in the 29g. Sorry.

    Clown = yes. No, you don't need an anemone (someone will surely tell you that, so now you know in advance - it's not true).

    Yes, protein skimmers are important. Yes, people get by without them, and no it's not ideal or for the starting hobbiest.

    Gallon wise, when it says "recommended tank size = 30 gallons" - what that means is that fish needs to be in a minimum 30 gallon tank to stay happy and healthy. Sometimes it's due to space (tank swimming length), sometimes due to temperament, territory issues, or adult size... that does not, however, mean you can't keep two fish in a 30g tank if both will do well in a 30g tank. That recommendation isn't telling you he needs that space to himself. It just means he needs that much space to do well.

    And yes - this is a very expensive hobby. I no longer keep s/w because of it.

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    I figured about the trigs and tangs after I posted this/lol. I was just reading about them and some people didn't even recommended them in a 75 g! They need something like 6 feet of swimming room, not because of their size, but because they are a fairly active species. Go figure.

    I knew that about the anemone. Wheew! I've read that it's sort of difficult to keep them alive. Plus the strong lighting = even more money. How many would you recommend? One or two?

    So then I shouldn't get the protein skimmer? Good, because I don't feel like paying $150 more than I need.

    That's good about the gallonage! I'm like, "Wait, wouldn't it get a bit bare with only one fish?"lol. Is there a rule as to how many fish I can stock without over doing it?
    Tyler

    Rhacodactylus ciliatus - 1.2.15.4
    Felis domesticus - 0.1.0

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    Quote Originally Posted by crazycresteds View Post
    How many would you recommend? One or two?
    Clowns, when juveniles, can change gender. If you get two adult clowns who aren't paired up already, chances are they will fight and one will dominate the other. If you get two juveniles, one will end up female and one will end up male. I would personally get two.


    Quote Originally Posted by crazycresteds View Post
    So then I shouldn't get the protein skimmer? Good, because I don't feel like paying $150 more than I need.
    ahh you misunderstood Yes, I do recommend them. What I was saying is that some people get by without them and do fine. However, those people are typically much more experienced with SW tanks and have very large systems with first class filtration. Skimming by on a skimmer is not something I recommend. Yes, they are expensive. But that comes with the territory when starting up a SW tank.

    Quote Originally Posted by crazycresteds View Post
    Is there a rule as to how many fish I can stock without over doing it?
    The only rule of thumb I recommend is to never use any rules when stocking fish tanks. If you want some kind of guideline, the rule of thumb that I typically hear for SW is to estimate one inch of fish per 3 - 5 gallons of water. So if you have a 4 inch fish, it would take up approx. 12 - 20 gallons of your tank.

    You will have your work cut out for you in a 29g tank. Typically it's recommended that beginner SW keepers not attempt anything smaller than 55-75g tanks. Things flunctuate far too much in smaller systems. People also have the nasty tendency to overstock tanks, not realizing that SW needs much more room and stable water conditions than FW. SW systems can be incredibly stable when set up properly. Almost "self sustaining" (as much as possible in a closed system). However, those types of tanks are very very big and set up with great quality equip. You will note that most big reef tank keepers put very few actual fish in their very large tanks. Not only will many fish nibble or even flat out eat the corals, lots of fish produce more waste than the system can really tolerate.

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    I think Indy was suggesting that it's best to go with a protein skimmer. They're not always a necessary addition but they're worth every penny in keeping a healthy, long-term saltwater setup and I strongly suggest adding one. My boyfriend has a 30 gallon Oceanic with a Bak-Pak 2 skimmer and has had good things to say about it. As a rule, you generally get what you pay for so most skimmers can be pretty pricey depending on which you decide on.
    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Produc...20skimmer&Np=1

    UV sterilizers are also not a necessity but they do help protect against free-floating parasites that may be suspended in the water collum and help prevent any possible free-floating algae blooms. I'd suggest the protein skimmer before getting the UV sterilizer though if you're looking to save money.

    I'd say minimum size for an ideal, first-time marine setup would be something minimally around a 29/30 gallon, with larger setups being a bit easier to maintain because you won't have as quick of a fluctuation if your readings dip or spike as you would in a smaller volume of water. My boyfriend has a few nano tanks currently running but they can be a little frustrating if you're just starting out, especially if you're looking to get into a wider selection of fish.

    Clown fish and other kinds of damsel (or "humbugs") species are usually ideal for beginner fish, being that most are considered generally hardy and easy to care for specimens. They can be reasonably aggressive with their own or like-species so if you plan on keeping more than one, it's best to add them simultaneously since an established specimen may attack any newcomer to their territory.

    These fish are born asexual, with no determined gender. The most aggressive one in the group will become the dominant female with a male being her subordinate. Clowns will generally fight for dominance before pairing up, so if you are looking to establish a pair it's best to add two with a noticeable size difference where the larger one will assume her position as female with little resistance from the smaller fish. You can also buy mated pairs occasionally from pet shops and online dealers but they will usually jack up the price for proven breeders.

    If the clowns are kept in a group and two pair off, the rest will remain asexual until either the male or female passes away. If the female dies, most likely the male will then assume leadership, as well as change it's sex to female. Once a clown fish is female it can never revert to a male again. (this whole idea of clown fish sexuality would have made the movie Finding Nemo very disturbing if the writers took this whole system into account )

    Anemones are very difficult to keep long-term and considering they can live on indefinitely in the wild, they have a very poor survival rate in captivity even if successfully kept for a number of years. The longest my boyfriend and I have kept one for is a few years and it's still going on strong. We embarrassingly don't even know what species it is exactly, since it came in as a "rose anemone" and it certainly doesn't resemble the species that we have kept in the past. We have yet to identify it in any databases or book and many other hobbyists we've spoken to have failed to identify it as well, which is unfortunate considering how well it's done in our tank.

    Condylactis anemones, or "condys" are one species do not need high intensity lighting like many other species require, but not all clowns will be guaranteed to host in them. Clown fish do fine in captivity without anemones though and don't require one as a host for a proper setup, so I wouldn't worry if you choose to go without one. I've even had some clowns take refuge in certain species of soft corals as a surrogate and they do fine just as long as the coral doesn't get over-molested by their constant cleaning and rubbing.

    If you decide to go with a clown fish, ideally look for one that is captive bred. Most clown on the market today are captive bred but the occasional wild caught shipments still do come in, they just may not acclimate as easily and are a little more delicate. "Common" clown fish is a name generally applied to amphiprion ocellaris or amphiprion percula. A. ocellaris is sometimes referred to as a "false percula" but both species look very similar to one another and they may be difficult to tell apart. In fact the only differences really between the two is that ocellaris are typically more of a rich orange while the percs may be a bit of a yellow-gold and have thicker black bars. Ocellaris also are known to have more dorsal spines than a percula and are found in different locations in the world. Even experienced hobbyists may have difficulty telling some specimens apart if they don't know the original source because of the variety of color and pattern that the species can share.

    The are several other types of clown fish commonly available on the market, including the slightly more aggressive and larger "maroon clownfish" (premnas biaculeatus), "tomato/cinnamon clown" (amphiphron frenatus), the slightly more skittish "saddle back clown" (amphiphiron polymnus), as well as hybrids of mixed species. Common percula or ocellaris clowns also have variant morphs due to selective breeding, including miss-bars (where the white lines are broken), picasso (where the lines are skewed randomly along it's body), no-bars, and black, where the orange is replaced by a rusty brown-black coloration.

    Other small fish that I really enjoy keeping and can recommend for a smaller setup are the pearly jawfish (opistognathus aurifrons), royal gramma (gramma loreto), neon goby (elactinus sp.), green banded goby (elacatinus multifasciatum), clown goby (gobiodon atrangulatus), or bangai/kaudern cardinal (pterapogon kauderni). Like Indy said, the tang and trigger would just get too large to be kept in a small tank for long. Clown triggers can be highly aggressive and/or inquisitive with their teeth and can bully other species if the tank isn't large enough. I wouldn't keep them in anything smaller than 150-200 gallons, with a larger setup being ideal.

    The tang I would keep in at least 100 gallons. Powder blue tangs are also usually referred to as another species than the Hippo (or Regal, blue) tang, although the names are often falsely applied and interchanged. Powder blues (acanthurus leucosternon) can be very aggressive fish and will defend their territory fiercely in a home aquarium, often bullying even larger fish outside their own species. Hippos (paracanthurus hepatus) are usually peaceful, but as a rule tangs usually do well singly as the only large herbivore or in a large group where the pecking order will be dispersed.

    I suggest getting a really good book to sit down with and skim through, such as "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Bob Fenner, it's deinitely worth a read and explains things nicely to someone just starting out. In the meantime I would continue to look up products and compare prices and reviews and perhaps join a local aquarium society to talk things up with other aquarists and get a wider range of veiws on the hobby to plan things out well in advance. It's a very fun and rewarding hobby if you can look over the high price tags and matinence that go along with it.

    I wish you luck in whatever you choose to do! I'm not as well-versed with marine aquariums as I am with freshwater, but my boyfriend is a bit older than me and has been doing this for years longer than I have and I'd be happy to have him offer any of his advice if I can't offer answer from my own experiences.
    Last edited by CrestedLove27; 02-18-2008 at 03:58 PM. Reason: correction on product name
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    Re: Fenner. He has a great website I'd forgotten all about. wetwebmedia.com

    In years past, you used to even be able to e-mail him (and his "staff"), and get a direct reply. Not sure if that's still an option or not.

    Crestedlove - I had no idea adult clowns could change gender. I thought that was only a juvie thing. Glad to know!

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    Ahh, that's right. The whole trans-gender bit I mean . Having 2 clowns would be terrific and to most people, a pair is even better, but I just don't know what I would do if I got eggs/fry. I wouldn't have anywhere to put them. I wouldn't even have anyplace to sell them/give them away...except the LFS, but I very much doubt that they would take stock from a random fish dude that breeds clowns in his basement/lol. I think I'll go with just one, especially since I have a very small (compared to other SW tanks) aquarium.

    I figured I mis-understood. My bad . What exactly does a skimmer do? I heard that it takes out...something...before nitrates have time to form...which is bad??

    Does that rule apply to inverts also?

    *EDIT* ---ok, I just missed CL's post and Indy's 2nd post. BTW- that was a very well written post CL!

    The clown fish gender shpeal (?) is great! Never knew that until only a couple days ago. Like said, I'll probably only end up keeping 1. What are they going for now a days?

    Next up: Fishy lingo terms ---- LFS=?? SPS=?? any other common used terms I should know about?

    I'm getting the impression that the most expensive of equipment is MUCH better than their skimpy counter-parts. What you get is what you pay for I guess. I will most diffinately get top notch stuff, especially since my 29g will be harder to care for than say, a 75g.

    Stock list (so far) :

    1 clown fish (probably ocellaris)
    1 six line wrasse
    1 (or more? can you have more than one?) neon goby...it doesn't even have to be a neon...just a cool goby

    Inverts:

    1 peppermint shrimp (for eating antasia if it ever pops up)
    a couple small hermit crabs (are they like land hermits, in the fact that they need groups?)
    1-3 snails...for algea cleanup...any small, hardy species that you would recommend?

    BTW, Indy- What fish/tanks did you keep? Just curious...

    THANKS!!
    Tyler

    Rhacodactylus ciliatus - 1.2.15.4
    Felis domesticus - 0.1.0

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    Quote Originally Posted by IndyCrestie View Post
    Re: Fenner. He has a great website I'd forgotten all about. wetwebmedia.com

    In years past, you used to even be able to e-mail him (and his "staff"), and get a direct reply. Not sure if that's still an option or not.

    Crestedlove - I had no idea adult clowns could change gender. I thought that was only a juvie thing. Glad to know!
    Yes, wetwebmedia is still up and running and they still take dozens of dozens of emails a day and reply to all they can (I don't "work" for them, but my best friend does, and she's always busy with the darn thing!)

    I can't second more strongly Fenner's book, though. "Consciencious Marine Aquarist" (as incorrectly as I'm sure I spelled it) is one of the best on the market.

    Other small fish that I really enjoy keeping and can recommend for a smaller setup are the pearly jawfish (opistognathus aurifrons), royal gramma (gramma loreto), neon goby (elactinus sp.), green banded goby (elacatinus multifasciatum), clown goby (gobiodon atrangulatus), or bangai/kaudern cardinal (pterapogon kauderni). Like Indy said, the tang and trigger would just get too large to be kept in a small tank for long. Clown triggers can be highly aggressive and/or inquisitive with their teeth and can bully other species if the tank isn't large enough. I wouldn't keep them in anything smaller than 150-200 gallons, with a larger setup being ideal.
    These are all great suggestions, and I would add to them:
    These are my TOP THREE all-time favorite small saltwater fish:
    1) Six-line wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)
    2) Pajama cardinal/polka-dot cardinal (Sphaeramia nematoptera)
    3) Barnacle Blennies (at least 2, they're very social) (Acanthemblemaria sp.)

    Other options include:
    4) Orangespotted Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea puellaris) *if* you plan an eventual upgrade--they do eventually but slowly mature to over 6 inches. (Other sleeper gobies, like the gold/yellow head fall in the same category.)

    5) You might could get away with a dwarf angel (Centropyge species)--"flame" (loriculus) or "coral beauty" (bispinosus) are the most common, and stay the smallest, about 4 inches. Lemonpeels (flavissimus) and bicolors (bicolor) are also sometimes available, but generally pricier, more fragile, and a little larger (aobut 6 inches tops). This would have to pretty much be your 'centerpiece' species.

    6) If you insist on having damsels, go with a chromis species (green chromis are the most common), as most others will get incredibly aggressive as they mature. (Personally, I"d skil damsels all together).

    And of course, don't forget the wonderful world of inverts! There are a lot of really cool shrimp, crabs, snails, and other critters (like feather duster worms) that are easy to care for, fascinating, and add a lot to a tank!

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    If you like small, bright, active gobies I'm going to suggest green banded gobies (elacatinus multifasciatum). I recently ordered a trio of them from Live Aquaria for a nano tank and so far I love them. I had always heard good things about the species but rarely had seen them for sale so I thought I'd get them as a gift for the boyfriend when I did. The fish have neon green bands running down the side of their light-gray bodies with a white and red face. They're similar to neon gobies in size, but they're a bit more bold and will hang out in the front of the aquarium during much of the day.

    Another species that begins it's life asexually, males will become dominant and larger with richer and brighter colors. They can be slightly territorial but they don't seem to bicker as much if several are added simultaneously. We can already tell the dominant one in the tank, he's the meanest and greenest of the three and always eats first.

    Here's a close up picture of one, they get about 1-1 1/2" at full adult-size.http://www.aquacon.com/images/GreenBandGoby.jpg

    I wouldn't worry about any unwanted offspring if you decide later on you do want a pair of clownfish. We've kept many clownfish over the past few years in pairs only and found that you really need to coax them into breeding by altering their diet, temperature and photoperiod interruptions. Pairs can take a few years to even finally pair off from their "courting stages." Raising marine fish is also much harder than raising freshwater species, (it was even unheard of until recent years) so you really need to plan on breeding them to end up with any successful clutches.

    I'm pretty sure most percs and ocellaris are in the $14.99-$29.99 range on the retail market, depending on if they're captive bred/wild caught, their morph, and who's selling them. Picasso clowns for example can be found for around $100/each, give or take.
    They're really neat-looking: http://aquamarines.trustpass.alibaba...h/showimg.html

    SPS stands for "small polyp stony coral", LPS stands for "large polyp stony coral," and LFS stands for "local fish store." Frag is a "fragment of coral" that can regenerate into a new piece and Macro is short for a "macro algae." LR stands for "live rock" and FOLR stands for "fish only, live rock" system. DSB stands for "deep sand bed." If I can think of any others I'll add them too.

    Protein skimmers are used to remove organic compounds before they break down into nitogeneous wastes, resulting in less waste that then needs to be processed through the biological filter. Small air bubbles are introduced into the saltwater which lift organic molecules to the surface of the water. This organic "skim" is then physically removed and disposed of as a foam-like substance from a chamber in the skimmer. That's basically the gist of things, Wikipedia actually explains the process very thoroughly in detail.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_skimmer
    Last edited by CrestedLove27; 02-17-2008 at 01:41 AM.
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    Was I insisting on having damsels? I really don't know, TBO.lol.

    Do you think I would be ok adding 1 more fish to my tank? I'll have 1 clown fish (ocellaris), one 6 line wrasse, and one goby. The gobies are the cool slender-bodied ones that are bottom dwellers that sift through sand to catch prey, right? Are there any hardy, colorful, and small ones that you would recommend? Preferably something less than 5 inches...more like in the 2-4 inch catagory.

    Any inverts you would recommend? Do hermit crabs need to be kept in groups? What is the minimal gallon size for 1 hermit crab. What about a peppermint shrimp? A small snail? The main reason for inverts is to be the clean up crew. Any really good snails that eat a lot of algae? The peppermint shrimp will indeed eat aptasia that pop up, right?
    Tyler

    Rhacodactylus ciliatus - 1.2.15.4
    Felis domesticus - 0.1.0

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