Stocking a 180 Gallon Fish-Only Tank
I have kept freshwater fish and pond fish, but I'm new to saltwater. Several months ago, I installed a 180g saltwater fish-only tank, with a wet-dry filter, protein skimmer, UV sterilizer and T5 HO lighting. Last week, I added two ocellaris clownfish. I now have questions about future stocking. Below I have listed the fish I would like in the tank, and would appreciate any comments (compatibility, too many/too few, etc.). I also have three other questions:
a) In what order should I add the fish? I have listed them in the order I think they should be added to the tank, but I’m just learning, so my ordering is a guess.
b) I plan on setting up a quarantine tank in the next week or so. Given the type of fish that will go in there (see list), what size tank would you recommend?
c) I’d like to add a new fish every 2 or 3 months, so I have time to “get to know” each new fish (feeding habits, etc.) and just enjoy the new fish. At that rate, it will take 2 to 3 years to stock my tank, which is also good, since I’ll be more experienced by the time I add the later (more difficult) fish. However, my stocking plan is slower than most I’ve read about. Is there any downside to stocking the tank slowly? For example, will my existing fish be so big and well established in 2 to 3 years that they will give the later newcomers a much more difficult time?
Thanks in advance for any help. Below is my list, including the scientific names to avoid confusion:
2 Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)…already in tank
3 Blue Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)
1 Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)
1 Pacific Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
1 Threadfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga)
1 Scott’s Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus scottorum)
1 Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus)
1 Flame Hawkfish (Neocirrhitus armatus)
1 Naso Tang (Naso lituratus)
1 Coral Beauty (Centropyge bispinosa)
1 Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
1 Queen Angel (Holacanthus ciliaris)
1 Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon)
I would personally use a minimum of 20 gallon tank. In fact, when I stocked my 180 I used a 38 gallon Q-tank. You want your fish to be comfortable.
The Banggai will not be able to compete for food with these other fish. I strongly suspect that they will slowly shrink up and die over a period of months to a year.
Butterflyfish can be added at any time, but these are difficult fish compared to the others on your list. Even the Auriga is a step up in terms of difficulty. The Auriga is an "easy" butterfly, but I would give yourself some degree of experience before purchasing one. Also, be sure to check out the Profile on the Auriga for some identification help. There are other fish which are easily mistaken and mislabbed by the LFS. YOU need to know how to recognize the difference. Threadfin Butterfly (C. auriga) Profile
At this point, I would add the Queen Angel, follow by the Naso and Yellow Tangs as my last addition, again adding these 2 Tangs simultaneously. If you want success when stocking Tangs, it helps to add more than one at the same time.
One final note. If you want to have a miserable experience in this hobby, then purchase a Powder Blue Tang. If you want to be successful and enjoy the tank, then avoid this fish at all costs, even if given to you for free. They are so far beyond difficult and disease prone that they should not even be considered. For most people, staying away from Acanthurus Tangs is a smart idea all together. As a replacement, I suggest a Foxface or Niger Trigger.
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