Originally Posted by britainj
my question is. i like coral/live-rock/reef tanks, my fiance likes fish only types...such as the fish tank on finding nemo... just some fake plants, volcanos, tiki heads, and tiki hut type stuff.... if i went with like a half tank of just decor and the other half with live-rock/coral/reef... is there anything wrong with that? issues? or if not even half and half... what about it all mixed together?
To a degree you can have some of this stuff, but the real problem occurs with algae. Any place in the aquarium decor that is not live is a place that organics will settle, break down, and produce nitrate and phosphate. In almost every situation, you will eventually run into difficult problems controlling hair algae which will overrun the corals.
Another problem is cynobacteria. The best deter ant to cyno is good coraline algae growth. It is virtually impossible to get coraline to grow over artificial plastic decorations. This means that these decorations are a perfect place for cynobacteria to take hold. Cynobacteria causes all sorts of problems in reef setups especially.
All of this being said, I would look for an inbetween solution. Set up a tank as a full blown reef, and incorporate some decorations into the reef structure. Avoid anything that bubbles, and try your best to stick with decorations that look somewhat natural. There are some very attractive ship wrecks and such available.
On your side, stick with soft corals that grow and spread very quickly. Keep a very close eye on alkalinity and calcium, and be sure to utilize a good protein skimmer. The addition of a proper clean up crew (CUC) will help greatly.