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Old 10-21-2007, 01:31 PM   #1
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Location: Michigan
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New SW Tank

I've started a new tank (my first in way too many years) and I'm having a blast with it.

First I'll give the specs:

  • 46 gallon bow-front
  • 84 watts of T-5 lighting (42 10K, 42 actinic) - I intend to add one more 42-watt T-5 fixture which will bring the total up to 126 watts
  • 65 pounds of rock (45 live/20 base)
  • 5-inch bed of aragonite sand
  • 2 powerheads - one Koralia 2 and one AquaClear 50 (this will end up in my water premix bucket when I get another Koralia)
  • 200 watt Stealth heater

Water parameters are good. Ammonia and Nitrites both at zero, with Nitrates at about 15ppm. SG of about 1.022 (read with a Deep-Six, but the LFS refractometer agrees). Temp is at about 81 F.

My tank's been up and running for about two weeks now. I got an emerald crab hitchhiker in my last small batch of LR about 5 days ago, and he's doing fine. I checked my water params when I realized I had a resident sooner than planned and everything checked out.

I kicked off the cycle (so I thought) with clear ammonia a week ago, bringing the reading up to about 2ppm. So, in only a few days the bacteria in my tank were able to convert all of that as well as the resulting nitrite. It seems my LR is up to the job.

Yesterday, I had my water readings confirmed at my LFS, and the guy there confirmed that the cycle was likely about done. He said there was a slight risk, but some hermits and a couple damsels should tolerate the slightly high nitrates without any trouble. So I got a dozen hermits and two small yellow tail damsels.

The damsels seemed happy and ate some mysis shrimp within an hour of being let loose in the tank. I did acclimate them for 45 minutes prior to putting them in.

This morning, one of the damsels is nowhere to be found. He may show up, but based on how active they both were yesterday I'm guessing he's a goner. Is it possible the emerald crab has already disposed of the remains?

The 12 hermits seem perfectly happy and are already making surprising progress on cleaning the rock.

Assuming the water parameters stay safe, I'll probably add some more hermits within the next week. And a couple weeks down the road, I'll (try to) catch the damsel and return it to the LFS, to be replaced with an ocellaris clown or perhaps a yellow-headed jawfish. I just have to decide which I want first.

When I start seeing some algae growth on the glass, I'll begin adding snails.

My eventual plan for livestock is to have the following:
  • 1 Ocellaris Clownfish
  • 1 Yellow headed Jawfish
  • 1 Lawnmower or Scooter Blenny
  • 1 or 2 more fish with personality - again looking for input
  • Several reef-safe stars - looking for input here
  • 2 emerald crabs
  • About 20 or 30 hermits
  • 1 cleaner shrimp
  • Snails (playing the exact number by ear)

I'd love suggestions on any of the above, with particular attention where mentioned.

I do plan on going full-blown reef with this tank, so I'd appreciate only reef-safe livestock suggestions.


-- Warren

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Old 10-21-2007, 03:25 PM   #2
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It sounds like you just did a minicycle and it is possible you will have a couple more when you add more fish.

You will want to get rid of the damselfish, I guess unless you want to keep them, but they can become very aggressive when they get older and they are VERY hard to catch, so it would be easier to catch them now when there's no other fish in there to stress out.

I don't suggest a lawnmower blenny unless it is a very large tank with a lot of algae in it for it to consume. I've heard a lot of stories about people buying them and within a year they die from starvation.

Also, same thing goes with scooter blennies and other dragonets, they must have a mature system with a large pod population and a refugium should be in place. They only eat live food, some are trained to eat frozen foods, but they are hard to come by and even then they cannot live longterm on just frozen foods.

For other fish, I have a sixline wrasse. He's very active swimming around and gets along with everything. They can be aggressive so they should be the last fish added to the tank to allow the other fish to setup their own territories.

Also look into some gobies. I have a yellow watchman goby in each tank and they are great fish imo. Both of mine have a pistol shrimp with them.

For starfish, you can look into serpents and brittle stars. I have heard of the green ones being very aggressive and can eat fish, but I think if they are well fed they will be less likely. I have a large ~8'' black brittle star in my 20 gallon and he is awesome to watch, whenever I put flakes or mysis in he'll be waving his arms around grabbing food out of the water column.

And once you start your reef, you may find out later that you want to upgrade your lighting.


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Old 10-21-2007, 03:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, Lance!

I do plan on returning the damsel to the LFS before putting any more fish in my tank.

I appreciate the info on the blenny. That one's off the list now.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:28 PM   #4
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You do not have enough lighting for a reef tank. After you add the extra 42 watts then you`ll have enough for some low to medium light corals.
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