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Mike 09-04-2010 05:51 AM

What are the least aggressive saltwater fish?
 
Hi everyone,

I am in the process of restocking my tank and want to make sure I do it with fish that won't eat each other or harass/nip each other to death. Ideally they also won't eat the hermit, emerald, or sally lightfoot crabs in the tank. While we're at it, while I'm not sure if I want to keep coral, I may add some pulsing xenia to the tank down the line. And maybe a shrimp or two.

Can you please tell me which fish you know of that fit this criteria? Also, would the crabs I listed eat pulsing xenia or other types of coral if I go that route?

Thanks!

Pasfur 09-04-2010 05:59 AM

In my experience you can't really think of saltwater fish in terms of aggression. It is pretty easy to line up freshwater fish and say that fish can or can't go together based on their aggressive behavior in a tank. In a marine tank, it is far more dependent upon the exact species in question and their natural likelihood of competing against each other for the same food sources. You just don't have the typical "nipping" and schooling behaviors that you see in freshwater tanks.

Tell me again, Mike, what size tank is this? Also, name some fish that have caught your eye that you are interested in, and what is the #1 fish that you are set on having?

Pasfur 09-04-2010 06:04 AM

After reading another post, I want to clarify my thoughts here. I guess what i'm really communicating is the opposite idea from freshwater. In a marine tank, "aggressive" fish and "non-aggressive" fish will go together without problems, so long as they are not naturally a food source for one another or do not naturally compete for the same food sources. In other words, it would be rare to find a Clown Tang (aggressive) to not get along with a Diamond Goby (non-aggressive).

Tank layout, size, stocking order, and other tankmates also play a huge factor. Which is why I prefer to work from a list of possible fish to determine a good stocking list.

Mike 09-04-2010 06:44 AM

Thanks, Mark. I am not set on any particular fish at the moment. After seeing the damsels in my quarantine tank nip one of their tank mates to death, I am most interested in reducing the likelihood that something like this will happen in my display tank.

As for my tank, it's 55 gallons. I have the rock arranged in sort of a row in the middle so that there is space in front and behind it (mostly so that I can get to the glass to clean it). Right now there are no fish in the tank.

As for what I want, I would prefer hardier fish that are less likely to get ich, etc. I really like puffer fish, but they're out because they would eat the crabs. I would like an angel fish, a jaw fish, some gobies, possibly a blenny, maybe a butterfly or two. My wife wants a clown trigger fish badly but I think that would severely limit what else we could put in the tank, right?

Pasfur 09-05-2010 05:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Administrator (Post 463950)
As for what I want, I would prefer hardier fish that are less likely to get ich, etc. I really like puffer fish, but they're out because they would eat the crabs. I would like an angel fish, a jaw fish, some gobies, possibly a blenny, maybe a butterfly or two. My wife wants a clown trigger fish badly but I think that would severely limit what else we could put in the tank, right?

Very helpful.

You may want to open another browser and have this web site available for the following discussion:
Fish Index

First, lets just eliminate any chance of keeping a Clown Trigger. That tank is way to small for this fish and the cramped quarters will bring out the extreme aggressive nature. I was considering a Clown Trigger for my 180, but decided the tank was to small.

You can keep virtually everything else you mention, provided you made good choices of the exact species. With Angelfish, avoid all of the angels from the Genus's Holocanthus, Pomacanthus, and Genicanthus. All of these fish will prove to quickly outgrow the environment and likely suffer frequent sickness as a result. You will want to focus on the Centropyge Genus, which are much easier to care for, generally hardy and easy to feed, typically safe with inverts, and widely available and inexpensive.

Within the Centropyge angelfish, there are a couple of commonly available fish to avoid. The Lemon Peel Angel and BiColor Angel show up at the LFS frequently and have proven prone to bacterial infections. The don't ship well and are best to just avoid. I am personally very fond of the Coral Beauty Angel and have one in my 54 gallon reef. Another very hardy member is the Flame Angelfish, but it is aggressive for its size and would be best introduced into your tank as the last fish. The Eibli's angel, Midnight angel, Keyhole angel, and Potters angel are also good choices, but somewhat less colorful.

By the way, Centropyge angelfish do wonderful when kept in pairs and display much more natural behaviors. If you were to choose a pair of Flame angels, for example, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Jawfish, Gobies, and Blennies are generally going to work out well. Most that you see are sturdy and not overly aggressive. Do wait until you have a healthy supply of microfauna (copepods, etc) before introducing any of these species. The Wheelers, Rainford, Watchmans, and Sleepers gobies are all good choices. Avoid the Catalina, as they are coldwater species.

The Blennies are also very sturdy fish, but somewhat ich prone so be sure to quarantine for a minimum of 3 weeks. I am fond of the Bicolor, Yellow Tail, and Midas, but many others are available. If they settle in well, they are easy to keep.

Jawfish are another nice choice. The Blue Spot and Yellow Head are the 2 commonly seen. They have become a favorite of many people because of their tendency to dig a small hole to call home. Very sturdy and easy to keep, they will work well in your mix.

With these groups of rock dwelling species which we just discussed, don't go overboard with numbers. You will probably be ok keeping 5 or so of these fish in your tank size before territory starts to become an issue. They will show almost no aggression towards open water fish, such as the Centropyge angelfish, but will develop territories that they defend against other rock dwellers.

The Butterflyfish present certain challenges, but you can have success with specific species. I would strongly recommend that your first Butterfly attempt be with a Kleins Butterfly. The are not as brightly colored, but they are very bold and active, and the colors become more intense after several months in the aquarium. The Threadfin (aka Auriga) is also relatively simple to keep. With the Threadfin be very careful to purchase the correct fish. Many LFS will display the Vegabond Butterfly and mislable it a Threadfin. The Vegabond is nearly impossible to keep. Read this for assistance:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/p...fin-butterfly/

I would suggest that you avoid most other Butterflyfish at this point, especially in a 55 gallon tank. The Racoon, which is commonly seen, grows very large and will not work for you. The Copperband is very ich sensitive and generally doesn't ship well. After acclimation they are sturdy, but I just see no reason to take any chances, given the large number of fish which have proven far more easy to care for.

Lets talk Tangs for a minute, because it is rare that anyone sets up a saltwater tank without their wife wanting to purchase a Tang. I would "recommend" that you avoid Tangs in a 55 gallon tank, but I also recall that you like fish with some size, so I know it is likely that you will at least look at some Tangs. 8-)

The large majority of Tangs will simply dominate your aquarium and grow far to large to quickly. The Acanthurus and Paracanthurus Tangs fit this description, meaning that the Hippo Tang (Dori) is not an option, nor are the Powder Blue, Powder Brown, or Clown. The Zebrasoma Tangs are also a bad idea for a 55 gallon tank, but some people "get away" with them. The Yellow Tang and Sailfin are probably the easiest to keep, but I really do think you should avoid the Zebrasoma's as well.

If you do find yourself forced to purchase a Tang, look at the Ctenochaetus genus. The Chevron, Kole, and Tomini are commonly available. They are very easy to care for and generally less aggressive. In fact, the Kole Tang (aka Yellow Eye) would be the ideal Tang for a tank your size.

Mike 09-05-2010 07:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur (Post 464660)
With Angelfish, avoid all of the angels from the Genus's Holocanthus, Pomacanthus, and Genicanthus. All of these fish will prove to quickly outgrow the environment and likely suffer frequent sickness as a result. You will want to focus on the Centropyge Genus, which are much easier to care for, generally hardy and easy to feed, typically safe with inverts, and widely available and inexpensive.

Within the Centropyge angelfish, there are a couple of commonly available fish to avoid. The Lemon Peel Angel and BiColor Angel show up at the LFS frequently and have proven prone to bacterial infections. The don't ship well and are best to just avoid. I am personally very fond of the Coral Beauty Angel and have one in my 54 gallon reef. Another very hardy member is the Flame Angelfish, but it is aggressive for its size and would be best introduced into your tank as the last fish. The Eibli's angel, Midnight angel, Keyhole angel, and Potters angel are also good choices, but somewhat less colorful.

By the way, Centropyge angelfish do wonderful when kept in pairs and display much more natural behaviors. If you were to choose a pair of Flame angels, for example, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

What types of behaviors have Centropyge angelfish been known to display when kept in pairs, Mark? Do the pairs have to consist of the same species, or will keeping any two species of Centropyge angelfish bring out the types of behaviors you mention?

As for avoiding the Lemonpeel and Bicolor Angels, these may actually be my favorite of the Centropyge angelfish. :-( Most of the Coral Beauty Angels I've seen have looked dark, and for some reason I've never been wild about the Flame Angel either. We actually kept a Bicolor Angel for a long time without a problem. If I'm going to exercise the discipline to not get one of the larger, more beautiful (in my opinion) angelfish species such as the Queen Angelfish, Emporer Angelfish, etc., then I would at least like to get a Centropyge species I really like. Do you happen to know if the False Lemonpeel Angel is also prone to bacterial infections?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
Jawfish, Gobies, and Blennies are generally going to work out well. Most that you see are sturdy and not overly aggressive. Do wait until you have a healthy supply of microfauna (copepods, etc) before introducing any of these species. The Wheelers, Rainford, Watchmans, and Sleepers gobies are all good choices. Avoid the Catalina, as they are coldwater species.

The Blennies are also very sturdy fish, but somewhat ich prone so be sure to quarantine for a minimum of 3 weeks. I am fond of the Bicolor, Yellow Tail, and Midas, but many others are available. If they settle in well, they are easy to keep.

Jawfish are another nice choice. The Blue Spot and Yellow Head are the 2 commonly seen. They have become a favorite of many people because of their tendency to dig a small hole to call home. Very sturdy and easy to keep, they will work well in your mix.

With these groups of rock dwelling species which we just discussed, don't go overboard with numbers. You will probably be ok keeping 5 or so of these fish in your tank size before territory starts to become an issue. They will show almost no aggression towards open water fish, such as the Centropyge angelfish, but will develop territories that they defend against other rock dwellers.

Do you think Jawfish, Gobies, and Blennies will be alright with a relatively shallow sand bed? I could always distribute more of the sand in particular areas, of course. Also, I've committed to quarantining new fish I buy for 4 - 6 weeks in hypo salinity and treating them with PraziPro. Will Jawfish, Gobies, and Blennies be alright in a bare bottom 10 gallon tank for this long a period when they are used to living in/on the sand bed? On a similar note, how many small fish can I quarantine together without issue?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
... I would suggest that you avoid most other Butterflyfish at this point, especially in a 55 gallon tank. The Racoon, which is commonly seen, grows very large and will not work for you. The Copperband is very ich sensitive and generally doesn't ship well. After acclimation they are sturdy, but I just see no reason to take any chances, given the large number of fish which have proven far more easy to care for.

I was about to say that I would probably hold off on a butterfly fish because I didn't find the Klein's butterfly fish particularly appealing, but I looked at more pictures of the Threadfin butterfly and it is a very nice looking fish. I would definitely like to add one to the tank!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
Lets talk Tangs for a minute, because it is rare that anyone sets up a saltwater tank without their wife wanting to purchase a Tang. I would "recommend" that you avoid Tangs in a 55 gallon tank, but I also recall that you like fish with some size, so I know it is likely that you will at least look at some Tangs. 8-)

Like fish with some size? Who, me? http://www.dogforum.com/images/smili...er/whistle.gif

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
The large majority of Tangs will simply dominate your aquarium and grow far to large to quickly. The Acanthurus and Paracanthurus Tangs fit this description, meaning that the Hippo Tang (Dori) is not an option, nor are the Powder Blue, Powder Brown, or Clown. The Zebrasoma Tangs are also a bad idea for a 55 gallon tank, but some people "get away" with them. The Yellow Tang and Sailfin are probably the easiest to keep, but I really do think you should avoid the Zebrasoma's as well.

If you do find yourself forced to purchase a Tang, look at the Ctenochaetus genus. The Chevron, Kole, and Tomini are commonly available. They are very easy to care for and generally less aggressive. In fact, the Kole Tang (aka Yellow Eye) would be the ideal Tang for a tank your size.

In the past we've had to return a beautiful Powder Blue Tang and a Sailfin Tang because they would corner other fish and wail on them with their tails any chance they could get. I've also heard that they are especially ich prone because of very thin slime coats. Do you know if that's true? I'm going to avoid tangs and pop Finding Nemo in the DVD player if my wife needs a fix. :-P

There are some nice looking Chromis and Damselfish. Do you know which of them are peaceful? Is anything with "Chromis" in its name peaceful while anything with "Damsel" in its name is not? That sounds too simple. :-P

Finally, what about Pseudochromis? Some of them are very colorful/beautiful. We had a yellow dottyback that would haze new fish for weeks before seeming to finally accept them as tank mates and leave them alone. Are they generally very aggressive/territorial? I would like to add a false gramma, orchid dottyback, or magenta dottyback if they aren't too aggressive.

How about parrot fish? I don't see any listed on the site you referenced, but I recall seeing some with beautiful coloration that were not too big.

I thought more about it and would really like to add some pulsing xenia to the tank if it wouldn't prohibit me from keeping most of the fish we've discussed. Are any of the fish we've discussed incompatible with it? Are there any other types of coral that actively move?

Thanks again for your help, Mark. If anyone else has any thoughts or ideas I'd appreciate hearing yours as well. :-)

Pasfur 09-05-2010 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Administrator (Post 464680)
What types of behaviors have Centropyge angelfish been known to display when kept in pairs, Mark? Do the pairs have to consist of the same species, or will keeping any two species of Centropyge angelfish bring out the types of behaviors you mention?

They are much less shy, and rarely leave each others sides. Watching them swim around in a pair, grazing on the live rock, is a great treat. Generally speaking, keeping more than one species of Centropyge in an aquarium of your size leads to aggressive behavior.

Quote:

As for avoiding the Lemonpeel and Bicolor Angels, these may actually be my favorite of the Centropyge angelfish. :-( Most of the Coral Beauty Angels I've seen have looked dark, and for some reason I've never been wild about the Flame Angel either. We actually kept a Bicolor Angel for a long time without a problem. If I'm going to exercise the discipline to not get one of the larger, more beautiful (in my opinion) angelfish species such as the Queen Angelfish, Emporer Angelfish, etc., then I would at least like to get a Centropyge species I really like. Do you happen to know if the False Lemonpeel Angel is also prone to bacterial infections?
The Lemonpeel and BiColor are my favorites as well. The BiColor may be my single favorite colored marine fish. It isn't the long term care that is difficult. It is the short term care, getting them acclimated to aquarium life. They just don't typically adjust well. If you can find a good one, go for it!

Quote:

Do you think Jawfish, Gobies, and Blennies will be alright with a relatively shallow sand bed? I could always distribute more of the sand in particular areas, of course. Also, I've committed to quarantining new fish I buy for 4 - 6 weeks in hypo salinity and treating them with PraziPro. Will Jawfish, Gobies, and Blennies be alright in a bare bottom 10 gallon tank for this long a period when they are used to living in/on the sand bed? On a similar note, how many small fish can I quarantine together without issue?
I think you are fine without increasing the sand bed, provided you increase the amount of rock. Your quarantine process is fine as well. I wouldn't personally quarantine more than 1 fish at a time in a 10 gallon tank.... maybe 2 if the fish are very small.

Quote:

I was about to say that I would probably hold off on a butterfly fish because I didn't find the Klein's butterfly fish particularly appealing.
Its funny how much more appealing a fish becomes when it lives for a long period of time and becomes "yours". ;-)


Quote:

I've also heard that they are especially ich prone because of very thin slime coats. Do you know if that's true?
Yes, it is true. However, since I have began feeding garlic enhanced foods every day, I have yet to have ich issues with any of my Tangs.

Quote:

There are some nice looking Chromis and Damselfish. Do you know which of them are peaceful? Is anything with "Chromis" in its name peaceful while anything with "Damsel" in its name is not?
In a 55 gallon tank you need to avoid both. Damsels will likely become very territorial (behaves like a Kribensis with eggs) and Chromis just don't do well in small tanks. They need HUGE schools to be happy. (think Neon Tetra, but much larger)

Quote:

Finally, what about Pseudochromis? Are they generally very aggressive/territorial?
Very very aggressive in tanks under 6 feet. Similar to a Six Line Wrasse.

Quote:

I would like to add a false gramma, orchid dottyback, or magenta dottyback if they aren't too aggressive.
How about a Royal Gramma? Good choice for you.

Quote:

How about parrot fish?
Planning to upgrade to a 1000 gallon tank soon?

Quote:

I thought more about it and would really like to add some pulsing xenia to the tank if it wouldn't prohibit me from keeping most of the fish we've discussed. Are any of the fish we've discussed incompatible with it? Are there any other types of coral that actively move?
Pulsing Xenia are likely food for the Centropyge angel or the Butterfly. I would think Leathers and Mushrooms, for simple lower light options.

Mike 09-05-2010 09:17 PM

Thanks, Mark.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur (Post 464972)
They are much less shy, and rarely leave each others sides. Watching them swim around in a pair, grazing on the live rock, is a great treat. Generally speaking, keeping more than one species of Centropyge in an aquarium of your size leads to aggressive behavior.

Will any two Centropyge of the same species exhibit this behavior, or do they have to be some kind of special "mated pair"?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
The Lemonpeel and BiColor are my favorites as well. The BiColor may be my single favorite colored marine fish. It isn't the long term care that is difficult. It is the short term care, getting them acclimated to aquarium life. They just don't typically adjust well. If you can find a good one, go for it!

I'll keep an eye out for a healthy looking Bicolor Angel that eats well in the store.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
I think you are fine without increasing the sand bed, provided you increase the amount of rock.

I was hoping you'd say that. 8-)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
Yes, it is true. However, since I have began feeding garlic enhanced foods every day, I have yet to have ich issues with any of my Tangs.

I'm glad you've had success with your tangs. I am especially tang shy at the moment since my full wipe out a month ago began with discovering black spot ich on our blond hair naso tang.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
In a 55 gallon tank you need to avoid both. Damsels will likely become very territorial (behaves like a Kribensis with eggs) and Chromis just don't do well in small tanks. They need HUGE schools to be happy. (think Neon Tetra, but much larger)

Oops. :oops: I was excited to post that I visited the LFS today and returned the 3 remaining yellow tail damsels and picked up 4 blue/green chromis instead. I thought these were the peaceful tiny fish that everyone recommended. I hope the 4 of them will be ok. If I wanted to add to their school later to make them more comfortable, would chromis from another school/tank be able to join their school?

I also picked up two peppermint shrimp to hopefully address the aiptasia that is beginning to grow all over the live rock. I haven't been able to find them since I put them in the tank, though.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
How about a Royal Gramma? Good choice for you.

So Royal Grammas are typically peaceful? If so then I will definitely be on the lookout to add one to the tank. This fish looks just like the False Gramma that I liked. That makes sense considering their names. :-P

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
Planning to upgrade to a 1000 gallon tank soon?

Yeah, I just read that the princess parrot fish can grow to 14 inches. Oh well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasfur
Pulsing Xenia are likely food for the Centropyge angel or the Butterfly. I would think Leathers and Mushrooms, for simple lower light options.

Hmm, I'll have to decide whether to plan around pulsing xenia or not. The chromis should be ok with it, right? Did you know of any other coral that actively moves? I really like watching it.

Also, I need to update the thread I started about a light fixture, but these days I've got a T5HO fixture over the tank with 2 10K bulbs and 2 actinics. :-)

Pasfur 09-06-2010 05:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Administrator (Post 465091)
Will any two Centropyge of the same species exhibit this behavior, or do they have to be some kind of special "mated pair"?

Typically any two will work. The do tend to bicker for the first few days, trying to decide who the female is, which is dominant. But once the female and male are established, they are fine. If you can find one larger than another, then this will help, because the female is quickly determined.

Quote:

Oops. :oops: I was excited to post that I visited the LFS today and returned the 3 remaining yellow tail damsels and picked up 4 blue/green chromis instead. I thought these were the peaceful tiny fish that everyone recommended. I hope the 4 of them will be ok. If I wanted to add to their school later to make them more comfortable, would chromis from another school/tank be able to join their school?
If i were going to attempt anything, it would be a pair of Chromis, not a school. Otherwise, they will probably at some point gradually pick each other off.


Quote:

I also picked up two peppermint shrimp to hopefully address the aiptasia that is beginning to grow all over the live rock. I haven't been able to find them since I put them in the tank, though.
Good move.

Quote:

So Royal Grammas are typically peaceful? If so then I will definitely be on the lookout to add one to the tank.
Good little fish... easy to keep also.

Mike 09-06-2010 07:31 AM

Thanks so much for your help, Mark. I feel like I've got a really good road map now. :-)


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