Question about adding coral to saltwater aquarium - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 04-04-2009, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Question about adding coral to saltwater aquarium

Hello everyone;

i'm new to this forum and thought this would be a good place to ask questions. I have to apologize in advance for any stupid questons - i have a couple of fish where i'm clueless to what they actually are I have a 45gal tank right now with the following fish:

1. Blue Tang
2. yellow tang
3. clown fish x2
4. damsel x2
5. eibli angel fish
6. unknown fish - see picture below

I have had the tank set up for about 2 years now and was looking for some advice on adding coral - i have grown tired of the fish + liverock look and perhaps i'm ready to try coral now. i have no clue in terms of what is required, so i thought i'd ask here to see what kind of things i should start investigating. For example: the fish i have - are they coral safe or are there certain ones i should avoid? What type of light should i investigate for this if i do it? and so on. All the fish were purchased very small and have no grown and the tank is over crowded. i will most likely be transferring some to my brothers tank which has just finished cycling if i go coral. in the meantime, i have been feeding quite heavily to keep them "happy" and not aggressive and over cleaning on a weekly basis (vacuum, wall clean, empty skimmer, bi-monthly rinse/change for various sections of eheim filter system). not really a long term solution i admit...

I don't know if it matters but i am in Canada and purchase my supplies from Big Al's.

here is a picture of the tank - the fish i do not know the species of is the white one that fades to black with the yellow beak and tail.

any advice, tips, articles would be greatly appreciated. i am finding the information available on the net overwhelming and would like to look at the system step by step and take everything into account before i make a decision.

Thank you.

this is unnecessary - but my favourite picture:

Just realized this might not be the appropriate section for this - sorry!

Last edited by 951kid; 04-04-2009 at 06:03 PM.
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post #2 of 3 Old 04-04-2009, 06:17 PM
onefish2fish's Avatar
as it seems like you already know, your tank is overstocked. way overstocked and the canister filter isnt a good choice. infact your tank is better off without it. what brand/model skimmer? how much flow in the tank? what are your alk, ca, mag levels? what do you test your salinity with? how deep is your sand? angels tend to not be coral friendly.
i suggest either t5 or metal halide lights.
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post #3 of 3 Old 04-05-2009, 07:28 AM
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Congratulations on your success. You have been very dedicated to your aquarium for the last 2 years, and I think you are making a wise decision to look at the aquarium today and make the proper adjustments before moving forward further.

Your situation is a bit of an exception. It is very rare to find any hobbyist to successfully keep the combination you have kept together, without having a much larger aquarium. You are also using some freshwater fishkeeping techniques that over the course of time, if you continue to apply these, often cause entire systems to crash overnight.

The most dangerous of these is the practice of vacuuming a deep substrate system in an aquarium that contains large quantities of live rock. Different bacteria grow within different layers of your substrate. Some of these bacteria are deep within the substrate in low to zero oxygen areas. If you disturb these bacteria with a gravel vac, they can die and immediately pollute the aquarium. In your aquarium, these bacteria are likely living in areas that your gravel vac can not reach, such as under the live rock. If you accidentally disturb these, then you could have an issue. Rather than vacuum the gravel, I would suggest leaving it alone to allow these bacteria to spread and colonize the entire substrate. You should do some reading on "Deep Sand Bed" systems. Your substrate is deep enough to qualify, and is capable of removing Nitrates if left undisturbed. The addition of crabs, starfish, and snails are beneficial to these systems.

You are also using a canister filter, which can be beneficial but is usually more harmful than not. These units need to be cleaned every 2 or 3 days in a marine system. If not, the nutrients that they trap allow acids to remove buffers such as carbonates, bicarbonates, calcium, magnesium, and borate. This is an oversimplification, but the bottom line is that alkalinity stability eventually breaks down over a period of years, and wipeouts are known to occur. I prefer to never use a canister filter or other biological filters which process organic waste, removing buffers in the process. The live rock and deep sand bed, along with a protein skimmer, are the only source of filtration most successful hobbyists are using.

As far the fish. The mystery fish is a Scribbled Angelfish. Don't be fooled by google pictures, because this fish changes color as it matures, and males / females mature differently. I am not surprised it is getting along fine with your Ebli Angel, but most people will tell you thy don't mix well. In a 45 gallon aquarium you really do not have enough space long term for the Scribbled Angelfish, but I am concerned about moving it to your brothers tank. This is a very sensitive species and would probably not handle the transition well. It is also not compatable with corals, nor is the Ebli.

Your Blue Tang also needs more space. They grow to 14'' and take on a beautiful yellow coloration as they mature. This is one of the most abused fish in the hobby, rarely given the proper space to live out its lifespan. Both of your Tangs are reef compatable, as are the Clownfish and Damselfish.

I suggest you purchase a much larger tank to be used as a fish only. A 125 to 180 gallon would be appropriate. After it matures for several months you could begin the transition of moving your fish. After the Angelfish and Blue Tang have been moved, you can begin the upgrades to turn your 45 into a reef. You really just need some new lighting and appropriate test kits and additives.
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