Entering The Wonderful World Of Reefing! What Fish Should We Get??

Discussion in 'New To Reefing' started by Waylah, Sep 11, 2016.

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  1. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    Hello!
    We're setting up our first marine tank. We haven't started cycling it yet, (been making all the water) but we're so close!

    Here are the specs (Roughly in water flow order):

    5 stage RODI, 23 TDS in 0 TDS out
    2ft cube, ~200 litres
    Jebao RW-4 Wavemaker
    1-2 inch Microbe lift Aragonite Coral Sand bed (nothing like the aquarium hobby to make you randomly start using imperial units!)
    Bean animal overflow

    Display Lighting:
    150 W 10000 K halide
    2x 36 W CFL (Actinic + Daylight combo)


    Sump is something like 50 litres:

    First division of sump:
    AquaOne G216 skimmer
    1 litre of Marinpure spheres
    Middle part:
    28W LED Grow light (Approx 2000+ lumens)
    Intend to be little refugium, planning to have macroalgae,
    Currently contains some aragonite sand and one tray of miracle mud

    Last divider:

    1 block marine pure (vertical; water will flow through it lengthwise)
    return section:
    2 heaters
    ReefAngel Controller:
    - Ph probe, Temperature probe, Salinity probe
    - 4 dosing pumps controlled by ReefAngel
    - ATO pump

    Return pump 4000 litres/hour
    Bleed-line to reactor (we'll be running RowaPhos and aquamax carbon as a mix)

    Other stuff
    Big bag o builder's lime *cough* I mean kalkwasser.
    Magnesium sulphate, Magnesium chloride
    Seneye Reef (for the lux meter. Also neat to see the cycle in action, once we start it)

    We're going to do a SPS tank.

    Right now I've got a big tub of dry rock pumping out phosphate. We acid cleaned it first, and I scrubbed it all (that took ages). It sat in the tub and phosphate went off the charts. Changed all water, and overnight it's gone back up to 1 ppm. I'm adding lanthanum chloride and I'll monitor things until I've got all the phosphate out.

    THINGS WE WANT TO KNOW:

    I'm planing on cycling with ammonium chloride. Can't get non-soapy ammonia in Australia. You know, terrorism and all that. After going to all the trouble of not introducing random unknown organisms, how do you actually start your cycle? How can you safely introduce some seeding bacteria? We don't want to put in live rock or sand, because we don't want the disease risks associated with that. Are bottled products the only way to go then? If so, who's had success and with which products?

    What's a safe clean way to start getting pods for the refugium? What's your preference of macrooalgae for a refugium?

    In your opinion, would two clowns and two bengai cardinals be okay in this size tank? Just them, and some inverts. Anyone know anyone who breeds bengai cardinals?

    Any tips on setting up our quarantine tank? Everyone talks about their display tanks' equipment and setup but no one seems to go into detail with their QTs. What do you have in yours?


    I'm sure there are lots more questions but that's what's on my mind right now.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  2. Sam Parker

    Sam Parker Moderator

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    Welcome! Sounds like you are off to a great start.

    I'll attempt to answer your questions:

    1. I'd cycle with a bit of food or a little bit of prawn. If you want to add bacteria in a bottle, check out dr Tims one and only.

    2. Best way to get pods for the fuge is to get some loaded algae off someone else. A handful of chaeto will have dozens in it.

    3. Pair of clowns and a pair of bangaii be perfect. Maybe a little blenny too?

    4. Can't help with quarantine as I have never done it. Everyone will have a different opinion on this. A QT tank is usually pretty basic though, should be plenty of setups to copy about
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  3. Buddy

    Buddy Member

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    Welcome! Sounds like you have done your research well.
    Sounds like your sump is the complete opposite of mine. I like to keep things simple. I have a skimmer, heater, return pump, RODI section and dosing pump.

    Why not just start the cycle by "Ghost feeding" the tank? This is just chucking some food in each day as if you were feeding fish. This will produce ammonia and start the cycle. There are also off the shelf bottles of bacteria that claim to quickly cycle your tank but I have never tried them.

    If you want pods then get some macro algae from a fellow reefer for free and it will have plenty of critters to start off a nice population. You want a type of algae that won't go asexual. I think chaetomorpha is a good one but may be a little hard to get hold of. Common algaes also get mislabeled as chaetomorpha so be careful with that.

    Two clowns and two Banggais would be perfect. Just stick to the smaller variety of clowns. You could also have a couple more small fish to give the tank a bit more movement.

    My QT tank is just a 3ft tank with various pvc pipes, a few fake plants, a heater and a powerhead. I only use it when I have new fish and then after that it gets cleaned out and dried before using again.
    To prevent ammonia I use seachem prime each day.

    And before anyone else says it... We want pics!
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  4. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    Wow, you're certainly on the right track.

    • You don't need to put anything in to start the cycle. It would start with nothing in the tank but water - the required bacteria are literally everywhere.

    • The main purpose of live rock/reef rock is to provide the required surface area for the bacteria to populate (marine pure also- which is nothing more than providing surface area.). That said, there's strong anecdotal evidence that rock also provides anaerobic zones for anaerobic bacteria.

    • Regardless of how much you've cleaned your rock, there will still be some dead organic matter and that will boost the cycle. Some people add a bit of prawn but personally I don't see why you would purposefully add nitrates and phosphates to a new tank, just to spend every day after the cycle, trying to minimise them.

    • The only practical way to get pods in your situation is to bring them in with macro algae. If you're lucky you'll also get small shrimp etc.

    • 200 litres is plenty big enough for the clowns and bangai, even a few other informed choices.

    • Macro algae - I get tagged in most macro algae threads, I'm a but of a nut - experimenting with it all the time to develop a planted marine tank. So here's my two bob's worth.
      • Personally I avoid ALL caulerpa species. They either go asexual and pollute the tank, are invasive, illegal, or a combination of these.
      • I use Dead Man's Fingers (codium fragile), other codiums are also good, Dragon's Tongue, Chaetomorpha, or Pulsing Xenia coral. I don't recommend running any sand or mud in a refugium. There are some downsides and based on my experiments, no benefits. Macro is best grown in bare bottom (Chaeto) or rubble bottom for all other non caulerpa. I'm not saying avoid sand or mud, just not in the refugium.
    • I'm not a fan of adding things to create the cycle at all, I've yet to see any scientific evidence in support of it. However much of this hobby is based on anecdotal evidence and a couple of knowledgeable reefers on here recommend 'Dr Tim's'. I'm in wait and see mode on this. :)

    • QT TANKS. There are a few ways to do it, I'll tell you mine and also make a few recommendations:
      • A QT Tank should be able to quickly become an HT (hospital tank).
      • NO ROCK - It absorbs medications like copper and sulphur and can release them when you don't want them. Copper kills most inverts.
    • I think all QT/HT tanks should be covered. Your fish are at their worst and most likely to jump while in this tank, due to moving stress or illness stress.
    • Unless you have coral in there, it should have lights but left off. You'll need lights when inspecting things but the simple fact is that fish are less stressed without bright light.
    • You do need places for fish to hide and the best things are sections of PVC pipe in appropriate sizes and believe it or not, artificial plants. Brent at Bunarong put me onto plants and while I hate the look, they are brilliant in non display tanks. The advantage to PVC and fake plants is they're cheap, non absorbent, and can be boiled to sterilise them. With pvc I group them into lots of three pipe with a rubber band around them to stabilise them.
    • No substrate if you can avoid it (ie no sand sifters), same reasons as live rock although less of a problem.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  5. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    I have separate QT & HT tanks but only because my main tank is broken down atm.

    My usual setup for this is a very old, scratched, 2ft all in one tank. I run only carbon in the top (unless medicating), it's just convenient in that it gives me a lid, flow and inspection light all in one.

    Most fish are held for sale in 2ft tanks at LFS so for most fish, this does the job. Bigger fish require a bigger tank but I have a reason for this size which is due to volume of water required to fill it. You'll see why when you see where I get my water..

    I have a selection of pvc pipes and fake plants to provide hiding spaces and cover, I also always actively oxygenate my QT/HT tanks with a cheap pump and airstone to drive Co2 out of the water, lifting oxygen levels.

    So here's how it works at my place:

    Despite knowing better, most of us impulse buy. We just don't know what will be at the LFS when we get there. So I want a QT that can be set up and ready in minutes when I get home.

    1. I get home and float new additions while I set up, to start temp equalisation.
    2. Grab the QT from the shed where it's stored in a garbage bag to keep it dust free.
    3. Put fake plants and appropriate sized pvc pipes in.
    4. I then drain water directly from my display to the QT, filling it.
    5. Add airstone and turn pump on as well as any other circulation. I never run power heads in this tank.
    6. Then I add the magic. In the sump of my DT, I keep four homebrand green scourers from the supermarket. These are heavily populated with the necessary bacteria, also pods, etc. I keep them under the return pump where they also reduce vibration. I simply take all these scourers and put them in the QT then put new ones in the sump. In 10 minutes I have a QT setup with identical water to my display, heated to the correct temp, and a healthy bacteria population.
    7. Drip acclimate all fish for 1.5 hours and move to QT. My drip equipment is simply half a dozen pegs to hold bags open, a rectangular bucket to sit the bag in. Also 6 x lengths of airline tube with an airstone one end & air valve at the other. The stone acts as a weight and filter in the DT and the valve to adjust drip rate into bag. Why 6? I almost always bring more than 1 thing home (inc coral) and I never mix their water. All are dripped separately then netted into tank.
    8. No food for 24 hours and lights only when inspecting fish. Since adopting this routine I have never lost a new fish, a couple of years now.
    If I don't already have new salt water for the display, I just turn off the return and do it next day.

    Other things in my qt/ht kit include a simple box filter and floss for removing organics. Melafix, Permafix, Copper treatment (I've never used it) Ammolock, nets etc. No equipment is shared with the QT & DT - EVER.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
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  6. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    Thanks for your detailed tips everyone!
    Tank is now full of rodi and salt is going in as I type! I'm at home sick today, all rugged up on the couch, and my other half is adding the salt. We have been doing our reading, lots of different forum lurking, but I have to thank the BRS "52 weeks of reefing" youtube series for helping us get off the ground with our research. While that helped with understanding the chemistry and equipment, I still need to learn more about the zoology.

    We've been keeping freshwater fish for years and I can kinda understand how cycling bacteria could land all by itself in a new freshwater system, but I'm surprised to hear the same for marine. Surely bacteria suited to living in a salt water environment won't be floating around my house? Though I suppose it doesn't really matter if I'm adding some macroalgae; there'll be stuff on there. Alright then, mission Acquire Algae!

    Thanks IJG3145 for the macro algae info. Can I ask, why a bare bottom refugium? what's the advantage of that for cheato?

    It sounds like everyone does something different with the QT tank. Plastic plants are a great tip; thanks, pity I've sold all my (very old) plastic plants last year. I guess I'm most concerned about filtration, circulation, and water quality.
    IJG3145, any reason for not running a powerhead in the QT tank? (Just realised saying QT tank is like saying ATM machine. Redundancy is redundant!)

    When we have a solid plan for our QT, I'll float it here for feedback.

    Great to hear the clowns and bengais should be comfortable! If possible I'd like to get a pair of bengais, just for the chance of breeding, further down the line. Because those fry are soooo cuuuute! What should I know about long spine urchins?

    Oh, and photos! (not great ones, but hey:
    20160911_183751.jpg

    20160911_183831.jpg

    20160911_183809.jpg
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  7. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    Chaeto does best if it cannot get a hold anywhere and tumbles, it prevents dead spots from lack of light.


  8. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    That's a very nice setup you have.

    Re powerheads, it's just a personal choice really but the reasons are that I never share equipment between tanks so I would need a separate one, the ceramic bushings and magnets in most powerheads will absorb copper, etc. Not that I would use copper either but I play it safe.

    Fish are most stressed when in QT or HT and I just feel that strong flow isn't great when they're not at their best. To take it to the extreme, think of the sick fish you sometimes see lying on their side at some LFS. If a fish goes belly up like that when you're not watching, it might get slammed around the tank by a strong powerhead..

    Note that if I have coral in there I add a small powerhead, otherwise not.

    I've had Long Spine Urchins and while I like them, never again. They are bulldozers and trample/spike everything in the tank. They also eat most of your coraline. Don't ever pay for one, people are always giving them away. You can buy fake urchins for Bangai breeding or just get a ball of aquaknead and stick toothpicks in it, all over, before it hardens.
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  9. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    Haha that cheato hay-bale is hilarious. I guess rolling moss gathers no stones. ;P

    Good to know about the urchin; thanks. While I do love the idea of seeing natural behaviours reproduced in my tank, I'm willing to make a compromise where sensible. I've heard toilet brushes can make great bengai fry homes, though I don't fancy the look in a display tank! :p

    Next question: again, along the lines of natural behaviours reproduced in a tank.
    I know anemonefishes don't -need- to host in an anemone, but of course I'd love to see that in our tank. So, which anemone, which fish?

    I've narrowed it down to clarkii or nemos. There's something appealing about clark's that I can't put my finger on, and of course the ocellaris and perculas are adorable. I'm leaning towards ocellaris (or percula; I still can't tell the difference!) because being crappy swimmers, I'd be satisfied they'd be happy in a tank, and they're just so bloody adorable. But on the other hand, clarkii will host in just about anything apparently.

    So assuming I go with a pair o nemos, the next question is (eventually) which anemone? I think my tank size limits me to bubble tip or sebae. I'd kinda like to go with sebae because percula host in them naturally. How often do clowns host in non-favoured anemones in a tank environment? e.g. an ocellaris in a bubble tip? Pretty much all the time, some of the time, or rarely?

    I know sebae is labeled as 'difficult', but is that just because they're less tolerant of non-ideal water quality? Because we're going to be running super low nutrient for our SPS anyway, so would it actually be more difficult?

    On second thought I don't think our sandbed is deep enough for sebae. Probably go with bubble tip then! Thoughts?
  10. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    There's no good answer. It took me many many years to finally get clowns that would live in a nem, although I did have some being hosted by a powerhead once.

    Eventually I walked into a store that had maybe 30 BTA's in a 2ft tank and maybe 50 juvenile ocellaris clowns (nemo). I watched for ages and told the guy I wanted one of three particular fish that were constantly on one nem or another. Fortunately he caught one pretty quickly, I also bought a nem from him.

    I got home and moved my existing ocellaris and nem into a QT and put the new additions in my tank. No QT as I didn't want to disturb them. Within hours the new nem had been adopted by the new clown.

    After a month I moved my big female back into the DT (sold the male) and it took a few days but she got it in the end. It's really hit and miss and often the won't be interested in host nems.

    Here are the common thoughts but I reckon it's luck as much as anything.

    http://www.ocellarisclownfish.com/getting-clownfish-host-anemone/

    The main visible difference between ocellaris (false percula) and percula (true percula) is the width of the black outline on the body, percula have thicker black and the edges are not as streamlined as the occelaris. Also eye colouring is different.

    ocellaris.jpg percula.jpg
    ocellaris percula
  11. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    BTW anemone are best put into a mature tank.
  12. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    Oh yup, don't worry, I won't be throwing an anemone in there first thing!

    So are you saying that it's hard to get an ocellaris to host in a BTA, or that it's hard no matter what, even when you have a match e.g. a percula in a sebae?

    Also lols about them hosted by a powerhead! haha!
  13. Buddy

    Buddy Member

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    Clowns are weird and they will just do what they want. I wouldn't get to fixated on getting an anemone to host your Clowns because you might just end up disappointed.
    Once your tank is mature you can put an anemone in and the clowns will probably take it it eventually, but it could take months.
    I have a Percula pair being hosted by a Crispa anemone. It took a few months before they got in my first Anemone but they never leave it now. Laying eggs like clockwork too.

    clowneggs050314.jpg
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  14. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    We has algae!
    A very kind reefer has delivered us a large bundle of algae. He wasn't sure what species, but it's a mixture. He actually delivered it to our place! Such service! :D

    Now, I've had a go identifying it, and I do believe one species is a Caulerpa unfortunately, but there is also something red that could be dragon's tongue? Or red gracilaria? What do you think? Here's a pic of some pieces:
    20160918_184029.jpg
  15. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    I can't quite make it out from the pic but look up caulerpa prolifera and caulerpa taxifolia. If it's either, burn it to a cirsp - do not dump it. Both highly invasive and highly illegal to posess in Australia.
  16. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    Definitely not taxifolia. Could be prolifera, but I'm fairly sure it's something different, probably still a caulerpa though. We have not put it in the tank!
    What do you think the red one is? We've put that one in, because a search showed up only possible matches as reef safe and nothing sinister. It didn't stay in the sump though ...
  17. IJG3145

    IJG3145 Member

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    I can't tell with the red one as it seems to have no foliage to id, but most red varieties available here are safe as far as anything I've come across. Excluding kelp of course.
  18. Waylah

    Waylah Member

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    Well we're back to no algae - we took out the Caulerpa and the red one died (there wasn't much of the red one). But, on the plus side, the pile of sump goodness had what we needed to seed the cycle! Today the ammonia is down to 1 from the 2 to 3 ppm I started it at, and the nitrite has appeared - 0.25 ppm at the moment. And zero phosphate! (well, somewhere between 0 and 0.03). The dry rock finished its course of lanthanum chloride, and is now in the tank, looking lovely. I'm loving this clean cycling. It's slower than if we'd just bought the Dr Tims bacteria, but we had to wait for the rock to de-phosphate anyway. Can't stop staring at this tank of ours, even though there's no livestock yet! 20161002_172700_crop.jpg
  19. ReeferRob

    ReeferRob Solidarité

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    Sebae clowns can be a problem in a tank that small as can percula or occelaris clowns. We had a mated pair or Indian Ocean Perculas in our 2' cube and they were bastards to everything in the tank. I like my Orange skunks, Saddlebacks and nigripes (Blackfoot) clowns, MUCH better temperament than the other 2. My saddles live in their carpet, minding their own business, same with the Orange skunks and nigripes. Nigripes MUST have a ritteri anemone which is one of the most difficult anemones to keep in captivity. I have over 30 years in the hobby and have had hundreds of them and they can be tough for me at times. Carpets are pretty easy as are bubble tips. Saddlebacks and Orange skunks will host carpets. Skunks will also host ritteris and bubble tips.

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