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  #1  
Old 11/16/2007, 12:48 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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what are some of the hardiest small-tank fish?

Most reefers start young, most young people are looking for economy, ergo most new reef tanks are under 50g.

So how do you make a smart choice about fish and inverts for your new tank?

Fish and inverts you should look at:
1. the inevitable clowns...percs and pink skunks are best. Avoid maroons and tomatos: they're aggressive and they require more room than the others. Clarkiis are semi-aggressive [will bite your hand, and they have teeth!] and also require quite a bit of room. You rarely see the modest little pink skunks, and they are a bit more fragile, be advised, but fairly hardy.
General caution: you MUST quarantine clowns before putting them in your tank: they carry two diseases in particular, ich and brooklynosis...look both of these up, and a) don't buy a sick clown and b) quarantine for at least a week and be sure you're putting in a healthy fish. This is one fish you can pair: get one large, one small, and you're guaranteed a pair. THey change sex, and the dominant one is the female.

2. blennies: hardy, funny-faced, personable, and ich-resistent [quarantine anyway.] I don't recommend the lawnmower blenny or the tailspot for under 55g, but the bicolor blenny is a hoot. Will often live in a shell.

3. yellowheaded jawfish, if you have a sandbed. They dig, make burrows, almost always have their heads up, and are cute and pretty.

4. gobies. The yellow watchman is another funny face, will pair with a pistol shrimp, and provides a lot of amusing action in a small tank. Gets up to 4" long, eats anything, and supervises everything in the tank. Sifts a little sand, too. Other good tiny gobies are the highfins, but they're a bit more fragile.


5: good inverts: micro hermits, ceriths, nassarius [1-2 per small tank] snails, turbos, astraea, bristle worms, sponges [don't buy exotic ones: they'll just turn up, if conditions are right.] Shrimp: peppermints are good.

Fish to avoid: mandarins---specialized, expensive food, not for a small tank: will starve. Scooter blennies: same problem. Butterflyfish: won't survive even in a huge tank. Tangs: need a big, big, big tank. Angels: like tangs. Even the dwarfs, require a big tank. Seahorses: only for a dedicated seahorse tank. Anthias: another, for a big, big, big tank: they need running room and they're very fragile, plus iffy feeders. Diamond gobies: will starve.

Inverts to avoid: anemones---yes, I know you may have clowns, but wait on the nem until your tank is at least half a year to a year old...and guard ALL your water intakes: they head right for them! Avoid big hermits, cucumbers [I know they're in some 'cleaner-packs' from certain dealers. What are they thinking?] conchs [need 50g up] will starve; big snails [pita]; urchins [grow way fast]; starfish [too delicate or too aggressive with the sand-sifting]. Micro brittle stars, ok. Asterinas ok. Avoid coral banded shrimp: predators on fish. Avoid any crabs except hermits.

Corals OK: [lowlight] button polyps, zoas, some leathers, mushrooms. Green star polyps, xenia, yellow star polyps. Sponges. Check: alkalinity at 7.9-8.3 MUST NOT VARY, ditto ph must stay stable. As you can guess---get a little experience or be prepared to test a lot if you get these.
Moderate lighting: frogspawn, hammer: watch it if you have clowns: they may be too rough on these. Same with alkalinity, but also need Calcium at 420.

Corals to avoid: ask, on all others. LPS [hammer,etc] have 'sweepers' and may attack other corals if too close: sweepers can run 6". They get along with each other, however. Mushrooms and gsp [green star] tend to multiply way fast: be sure you want them on the next rock over, because they'll get there.

HTH.
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"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.
  #2  
Old 11/16/2007, 02:55 PM
Kryptikhan Kryptikhan is offline
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your time wasnt wasted, learned a lot as within the next month or so, I will be adding my first fishy. Dem jawfish are gonna be my first.......
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  #3  
Old 11/16/2007, 03:24 PM
Uyro1 Uyro1 is offline
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I did not see wrasses. I have a nano reef with a 6 line wrasse that will not die. They do great! Also nano is the way to go. They are so FREAKING EASY! I am new to this and I did a ton of research though. But they are super cheap and easy. Get 2 fish. Feed. Get a cleaner clam. Feed it Phytoplankton. Got tons of little frags at my LFS for pennies on the dollar growing on rubble. Add to tank and they like the phytoplankton too. On a ten gallon tank change one gallon a week. Two power heads for flow and wrap one with some foam for a filter and clean once every few days or so. Low maintenance and awesome tank!!!! Boom!
  #4  
Old 11/16/2007, 03:25 PM
Uyro1 Uyro1 is offline
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And I do not even have a heater. The two powerheads keep it a constant 77 degrees! I love this stuff!
  #5  
Old 11/16/2007, 05:05 PM
ToxicPoison ToxicPoison is offline
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I plan on getting a 120g-150g tank. Will this be ok for a mandarian? I plan on keeping my other fish fairly "basic" (Clowns, damsels, etc) but I wanted to take a chance with a "tough" fish.
My understanding is if you have a large tank and a refugium to raise brine shrimp and whatnot, the Mandarian will be ok.
I realize they're a bit more work, but I'm willing to put forth the effort.
I really have my heart set on one of these guys, but I don't want to see it die either..

Thanks!
  #6  
Old 11/16/2007, 06:17 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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Your 120 will be perfectly ok for a mandarin IF you don't have wrasses, which will eat every pod in sight. Brine are too little food for the trouble, but pods will grow if you have cheato in a fuge, no question. Just wait about 6 months and get that fuge going, and you'll be good. If you want a pair, get them together, and have a 20g fuge---their capacity for pods is huge. Eventually, like over a 2 year time span, mine learned to eat pellet food and frozen mysis shrimp.

Re the wrasses: yes: particularly the flasher wrasses, more than the fairy wrasses, can be ok, and so can the royal gramma...forgot one whole class of fish, there. Be careful of your species: 'wrasse' also includes some footlong fish, and you don't want to fall in love with a fish only to discover you need 10x the tank! Wrasses, even the most peaceful, are not compatible with everybody: I've had a red filamented fairy wrasse kill two small gobies, so be sure NOT to put them with small, fragile fish, or with mandys---if your tank is large enough: they eat any food, and will hunt down every pod in the tank, thus depriving pod-eating fish of food. They are personable and very 'up front' in the tank. Many new reefers absolutely love them, and a Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse in full display is quite a beautiful fish. The only reason I hesitate to recommend them still is that they're going to like the upper end of the 'under 50' tanks...a Carpenters is not at all overwhelmed in a 200g tank, still upfront and visible. So do realize if you really fall for these fish, you may be doomed to a larger and larger tank!

Beware of dottybacks: they can look like the royal gramma, one species does, but whole different breed: I've had civilized piranha, no kidding, I've had damsels, eels, and other fish known for eating or harassing their tankmates, but the dottyback was the most devious, oneriest, most infuriating creature I have had in my tank---too mean to live, too smart to catch, too fast to die. They can be beautiful, but only if you want to let a smart assassin into your rockwork.
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"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.
  #7  
Old 11/16/2007, 06:29 PM
jakkalofv jakkalofv is offline
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Why don't you recommend lawnmowers for under 55? my plan right now is a 40b with a 20 gallon sump/refug. and I was hoping to have a lawnmower blenny but I don't know if I want to risk anything.
  #8  
Old 11/16/2007, 06:56 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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The problem with lawnmowers is that most of them ONLY eat hair algae, or other filamentous green algae, and the nature of new tanks is that you get a big lot of it and then it all goes away as the next plague moves in. Guy buys a lawnmower blenny and it thrives as long as the algae lasts, then once the tank is clean, the poor thing starves to death and just goes to skin and bone and one day disappears for good. Very sad, and I love the little guys. If you get one, get it locally and make sure you see it eat nori or spirulina algae: some will, and THAT particular lawnmower blenny can survive quite handily in a smaller tank. I hope you can find one. The only downside to them is the same as with a tang or rabbit, in that you keep pouring in seaweed for them to eat and it does contribute phosphate to your tank, which feeds algae, as a fertilizer, etc. If you run phosban or a phosban reactor, you may be able to keep ahead of the curve. I wish you luck finding the right fish. It's not easy. I used to have one in my 100g, before I sold that tank, and never had a clue how fragile they are, because that tank always had algae, but I've answered way too many unhappy letters from people who didn't know that about them and put them in a too-clean tank. They need their algae, and that's the bottom line, be it home-grown or storebought, and just make sure they'll eat storebought algae.
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Sk8r

"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.
  #9  
Old 11/16/2007, 07:17 PM
jakkalofv jakkalofv is offline
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understood. will they eat any macro algaes like caulerpa already growing in the tank? assuming you've found a particularly chompy one... Seems like that wouldn't cause as much of a phosphate problem, though I could be completely wrong.
  #10  
Old 11/16/2007, 07:29 PM
HABS#1 HABS#1 is offline
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We just added a small sand sifter to our 31 gal and we have 2 green chromis in there currently along with 10 blue legs and 4 astreas and 4 ceriths.
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  #11  
Old 11/16/2007, 07:35 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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I'd be real surprised if a lawnmower will eat caulerpa---if they do, somebody please let me know, because they would be a real boon in that department! Only thing I know of that really gets caulerpa in a smallish tank is one mean refugium [with cheato!] and a zealous anti-phosphate campaign. They're not going to be interested in much except hair algae and film algaes.

Keep an eye on your sandsifting [goby?] A dragon goby or diamond goby [same thing] is too much sandsifter even for a 55, and is just about right for a 100g IF you don't mind him keeping the sand almost too clean for good tank health.

If [when] your sand-sifter starts looking lean in the middle, or slows down, back to the fish store for him, to save his life. About the only sandsifter that is safe in a smaller tank is one of the shrimp gobies, notably the yellow watchman: his sand pile is about 6" diameter. A dragon ranges out a foot and keeps moving from spot to spot.

I'm very fond of chromises, but they have one nasty habit [being damsels]: the strong kill off those they consider to be one chromis too many. Don't know how many people on RC have made the complaint: my chromises keep disappearing...or...I had six. Now I have 3. They're often sold as schooling fish, but they're happy as singles, too---especially as they're safest as singles. The only thing I ever saw that could scare chromises badly enough to keep them in a school and keep them from fighting was a blue velvet damsel I once had [almost as mean as the dottyback!] who regularly terrorized them from end to end of the 100g tank. [Note: schooling is not actually a 'friendship' behavior; it's a 'please eat somebody else' behavior, and usually manifests when the fish in question are terrified of being eaten by something else in the tank.]
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"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.

Last edited by Sk8r; 11/16/2007 at 07:41 PM.
  #12  
Old 11/16/2007, 07:45 PM
jakkalofv jakkalofv is offline
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alright last one, if all goes well and I get a lawnmower, is a refugium with cheato enough to back down the phosphates that would result from feeding? thanks for the info.
  #13  
Old 11/16/2007, 07:49 PM
Wimby Wimby is offline
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whats a good sandsifter for a 45gl up since may 07 ?
  #14  
Old 11/16/2007, 08:05 PM
HABS#1 HABS#1 is offline
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We just put in a small sandsifter starfish today no gobies for our system I catch gobies in the St Claire river near Sarnia LOL. We are told to take them out of the river and kill them by the MNR up here as they are not a nitive fish in our great lakes.
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  #15  
Old 11/16/2007, 10:35 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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Sandsifter stars are, again, usually too much for a small tank. If it shows signs of slowing down, go to a very small brittle star [black/white/brown]. It will get your detritus without stripping your sandbed of life.

Best sandsifter for a small tank is, in fact, the yellow watchman goby. 4" max, cigarshaped, more bluster than bite.

A refugium is always a big help with phosphates. It will not solve everything, but is such a benefit on several fronts, it will help your tank in general.

Re sandsifters: what is not generally understood is that copepods eat algae, and if you totally strip your sand of pods, you may actually be encouraging nuisance algae, possibly even of bacteria that are mainly responsible for diminishing nitrate/ammonia. Which is why I say don't overdo it on sandsifters: get the least amount of 'sifter' you possibly need to have---which in a small tank is not much.
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