Originally Posted by RebF
We are just beginning our 29 gallon saltwater aquarium. We have 40# live Fiji Sand and about 2 pounds of live rock.
So here are my questions more succintly:
- Do we need the Fluval canister filter?
- Should we add more live rock?
- What type of test kit should we be using? I am currently using Marcal dip strips
- Will we be able to add a clown fish in with the Damsels?
- Do we NEED a protein skimmer? If so what are the benefits?
No, you have no reason to use a canister filter on this tank. Canister filters provide 3 types of filtration, 2 of which cause issues on marine systems, these being mechanical and artificial biological filtration. Both of these types of filtration cause a depletion of carbonates and a rise in nitrates. This can be avoided simply by using live rock and a protein skimmer, as TerryAnn mentioned above.
You definitely need to increase the amount of rock. I would suggest 5 pounds of live rock and 25 pounds of dry rock. Check out Marco Rocks The finest aquarium rock available, base rock, live rock, reef rock, marco rock, reef tank saltwater fish, live corals, Marco rocks, Fiji live rock, Tonga Live rock
for your dry rock. A 25 pound order of Key Largo Rock would be perfect.
In a marine setup, live rock will serve to process organic waste naturally. Live rock will serve as a natural biofilter, breaking down ammonia and nitrite, and even reducing Nitrate levels, with an end result of nitrogen gas. This is by far the most efficient method of filtration, and works very well on home aquariums when a protein skimmer is used.
The protein skimmer removes organic acids directly from the water, before they have an opportunity to break down. This helps to reduce the depletion of carbonates, stabilizing alkalinity and pH. The direct removal of organics (waste) also dramatically reduces (nearly eliminating) the break down of organics, resulting in very little nitrate buildup. This allows for the live rock and sand to process reduce nitrates into nitrogen gas.
A quick explanation. If you use an artificial biofilter, such as a biowheel, then the constant break down of organic waste into nitrate is overwhelming for the system. The live rock and sand simply can not process this amount of nitrate. The skimmer removes these organics, resulting in less nitrate, which can be processed by the rock and sand. This is referred to as denitrification.
I am glad you bought Yellow Tail Damsels. They are very sturdy fish and much less aggressive than other Damselfish. However, they are still a rather territorial fish, and your other fish additions will need to be on the aggressive side. At this point, I think adding a couple of Clownfish, and perhaps a Basslet, Flame Angel, Cherub Angel, or any Pseudochromis would be the ideal stocking list. If you are doing a fish only tank, with no inverts or corals, then you could also consider a Hawkfish or a Canthigastar genus of Pufferfish.
This web site might help you discuss possible fish selections: