Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Ayu-chan 08-02-2008 10:40 PM

New 50+ gallon saltwater tank - what kinds of fish?
Hey, I'm looking into getting either a saltwater or reef tank. I'm an animal fanatic. (Just in case you were wondering: I've got 2 cats, 3 lizards, 2 birds, 2 frogs, 1 sucker fish, and 1 snake. <3) Anyway. I was just pondering on an assortment of questions and such, and would be absolutely thrilled if someone would help me! One of the questions, and perhaps the most important is what varieties of saltwater fish can mesh together well. I'll probly get a tank somewhere possibly above 50 gallons (or like 36" in length). I want a lot of colors.

Thank you to anyone who can help! Email me if you want! Thanks so much, <3

Pasfur 08-03-2008 07:13 AM

Glad to see you've decided to take the step into saltwater fishkeeping. Now, lets get you started in the right direction.

The first thing you need to know is that keeping a marine aquarium is nothing like anything you've ever attempted before. When it comes to pets, if you've seen it, i've kept it. Almost every animal at the pet shop has "requirements" of care than you can bend and still successfully keep. This is absolutely not the case with a marine aquarium. You must realize up front that you simply can not attempt to push the limits or bend the "rules" you will be given for keeping a successful marine aquarium. Problems with marine aquariums occur long term, usually after 12 to 18 months, so it takes some period of time to claim success and knowledge.

Moving on...
There are also extreme differences in difficulty of fish you will see offered for sale. As a general rule, dietary needs and mature aquarium environments are the issues with success. For example, there are many Butterfly fish that are quite easy to keep in a mature aquarium environment of 150 gallons or more. However, that same fish will prove almost impossible to keep in a 55 gallon aquarium that is only 6 months old. You have to be disciplined and make smart choices in selecting fish. Every new marine hobbyist should start with "beginner" fish and VERY slowly advance into more difficult to keep species.

In the typical SMALL aquarium, you should limit yourself to 1 fish per 10 gallons of water. The fish you choose should have an ADULT size that can comfortable fit into the existing aquarium environment. It rarely works to start small and upgrade as the fish grows. Studies have shown that most marine species reach 75% of their adult size within the first year of their life. If you do not give them adequate room to grow, they will not develop properly and your success will be short lived.

For aquariums under 125 gallons in size, you should stick with Clownfish, Basslets, Gobies, Damsels, Dwarf Angelfish, small Wrasse species, some Hawkfish, and dwarf Pufferfish (if not a reef). You will not have adequate space for Lionfish, Large Angelfish, Tangs, Triggers, Groupers, large Wrasse, Butterflyfish, Eels, and other species with adult size of greater than 6''.

One of the most common beginner tanks is to choose a pair of clownfish, a single dwarf Angelfish (Coral Beauty, Flame, etc), and a Six Line or Carpenter sp. of Wrasse. This selection usually fits well in aquariums from 29 gallons to 55 gallons in size. If you move on to a 75 or 90 gallon, then consider adding a couple of goby species (Wheeler, Yellow Clown, etc.) and perhaps a Royal Gramma as well.

There are a lot of options for small aquariums, but realize going in that 90% of the fish you see at the LFS need 125 gallon aquariums or larger for long term success.

Pasfur 08-03-2008 11:08 AM

I received a PM as a follow up, so i thought i'd continue the thread for the sake of the readers...

As to life expectancy of fish. Different species have different life expectancy. As a general rule, small fish should live 7 to 10 years, and large fish should exceed 10 to 15 years. I know of a Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus) which is currently 17 years in captivity and a Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma desjardini) that is 15 years in captivity. Both of these fish are living in 125 gallon reef aquariums. (not the same tank)

As to the actual setup. I would visit 5 or 6 different LFS. Ask a lot of questions and try to find a shop with extensive knowledge and selection of marine fish. Talk about filtration with each shop. If they suggest using biological filtration, then find another pet shop. If they suggest using a protein skimmer, live sand bed, and live rock, then you are off to a good start. When you find a good LFS, buy from them even if it costs you a little bit more money. We have to support the good shops. It is not cheap to hire good people and stock good fish. They need your support and your dollars to stay in business and compete with the PetSmarts, WalMarts, and SuperPets of the world.

Pasfur 08-03-2008 06:11 PM

Again, in response to a PM...

I like the idea of a Coral Beauty and a Six Line Wrasse. You also stated that you may choose a pair of clownfish. I would make 2 suggestions. First, stick with CAPTIVE RAISED clownfish. They will cost a few dollars more each, but are extremely durable fish. And they will achieve the same beautiful color as the wild caught fish when they settle into your aquarium as a pair. Second, for a small aquarium with the fish you name, i would stick with Ocellaris or Percula clownfish. The Maroon grow larger in size, and the Tomato and Cinnamon are more aggressive than you want with these fish selections.

As to the Coral Beauty, make sure your tank is established for at least 3 months, that you have algae growth present, and that you have live rock. Dwarf Angels do not thrive as readily in newer setups or without live rock present.

Ayu-chan 08-03-2008 08:29 PM

The website I chose the species from is called
Is a "wild" fish also known as a "captured" fish? The wording confuses me.
Also, it said that the "wild" percula clownfish wouldn't mesh with other clownfish, and I want two, so I decided to go with the "aquacultured" percula clownfish. Bleh! Confusing! Lol.
Me and my Dad have pretty much decided on buying an aquarium from an LFS. But as for the live rock, live sand, etc., we're looking to find a good deal online. We're worried about the price most of all, lol.
Do sea anenomes grow on live rock? I don't want a reef tank, but I really want my clownfish to have anenomes!

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