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Old 04-02-2010, 12:57 PM   #1
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Newbie with a LOT of questions

I am brand new to this and have been reading up and researching but have a lot of questions still. I know I am asking a lot, so please feel free to just answer what you like.

Here is a video of the tank to go along with my questions.
YouTube - Video 1.AVI


Within the next year or two, my hubby and I plan to buy a house. I am wanting to get a large tank (175-200 gallons) at that time. Since we will be moving, I obviously want to wait because I can't imagine you can move fish (or can you??).

So while researching I went into the local pet store and the guy there really seemed to know a lot about saltwater tanks. He had a nano tank display he had been working on. It was a small 10 gallon tank and I loved it so just bought it. Plus I figure it will make a nice quarantine tank in the future. He gave me some instructions but some things don't quite match up with what I'm reading. Plus I don't have any of the manuals for the parts.

The tank is 10 gallons. It is 6 weeks old and has done it's cycling and everything. To transport it home, he put the rocks on the ground and drained half the water into a bucket and I went home with that. I put the water back in and put the rocks back up and the fish seem to be doing fine. Today is day #2. The tank has seeding live rock and sand. It has 2 false clown fish, 1 yellow tail damsel, 1 blue cleaner neon goby, 1 gold striped cleaner goby, 2 firefish gobys, 1 yellow clown goby (who isn't very active or eating so Im worried about him), 1 yellow sea cucumber, 2 feather duster worms, 1 large turbo snail, and various little snails and hermit crabs. Okay my questions....

Rock and Sand questions
1. He said the live rock and sand is seeded. Half sand, half regular. How can I tell which rocks are live and which arent?
2. I put the rocks back up Im not too happy with the arrangement. Can I keep moving them? Im so afraid to move them again both because I dont want to stress out the fish again, and also Im afraid I will squish something like the worms or snails! How do you not squish stuff??
3. Is there a way where I can secure the rock? I noticed a lot of aquariums have rock high up the back wall which I like. I can't get mine to stack that way.
4. Do I vaccuum the sand? There's a lot of brown algae areas. I dont think it has any gravel so Im not sure what maintenence I should do on the sand. Do I ever stir it? Can I rearrange it?

Fish questions
5. I'm worried it has too many fish for the size of the tank. I keep reading clowns need at least 30 gallons. They seem happy enough so far (Though one hides in the back corner non stop. The other comes out to say hello and isn't shy at all.).
6. He was planning to add 2 more worms and 2-3 small low light corals. I'd like to add that as well (plus a shrimp) because the aquarium is lacking a lot of color especially since the firefish gobys hide so much. So I plan to add it but dont want to overcrowd the aquarium.
7. He said anemonies would be a no no without me changing the light. I dont even know what the light is. Looks like a small flourecent but I dont know what watts. I wish I had the manual for that!
8. How do you put in things like corals, anemonies, worms etc (after acclimating)? Do you just grab them with your hand and stick them in or do I need a tool to touch them?
9. Is a tank like this too small or light too bad for any small starfish?

Invertebrae questions
10. He said the cucumber and worms were filter feeders and to just smoosh up some flakes into a powder. (I also have some frozen cubes.) But everything Im reading says they should be fed liquid food. I dont want them to starve so should I run out and get some? And if so, how do you feed them? Do I just put a drop on top of the water?
11. One of my worms isn't opening up. I'm scared he might have been squished from a rock. It's only day 2 after moving though so how long do I give it before I check him?
12. If I move the rocks, can I just grab the worms and move them? Or should I move them with a tool?
13. How much algae will be snails and stuff need to live? Most of the brown algae I seeis down inside the sand and I don't see much elsewhere. Although the snails are on the rocks a lot. I just want to make sure they have enought to eat.

Water Temperature and equipment questions
14. I don't know what kind of heater I have. I can't see any numbers on it at all. The guy said it was already set so to just leave it. But obviously I may need to adjust at some point. Any idea how I would adjust that one?


QT questions
15. Do I need to make a QT tank? How do you do that when your main tank is only 10g? And do QT tanks stay running all the time?

(He didn't have me buy any testing kits yet other than the gravity measure. He asked me to come back in a week with a water sample so he can test the water. I'll be buying anything else I need then so I can learn to do this on my own.)

I really love the tank so far and love all the fish. I just wish my firefish gobies weren't hiding so much! (But it's only been 2 days.) The tank definately needs more color in the way of corals or plants or something?

Thanks for taking the time! I appreciate any thoughts.
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Old 04-02-2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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So as I understand it you have 8 fish in a 10 gallon tank. Way too many fish. I dont even have that many in my 125 gallon tank. You`ll really need to pare that down. Dont stir your sand. You`ll have an ammonia spike if you do. Just get some nassirus snails that move through the sand and feed on what`s there. Good janitors. Again check out what needs to be taken back. Way too mant fish and inverts in there.
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Old 04-02-2010, 04:36 PM   #3
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I thought it had too many too. But he's had it running for 6 weeks now with no problems. What would be the downside if I left what he set up?

Also, would small corals, worms, shrimp, etc. count as fish space?

(BTW, the worm I thought I squished finally opened up today )
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Old 04-02-2010, 04:45 PM   #4
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Agree with Mike, and I'll try to hit some highlights on your questions. Thanks for numbering them, and as always... many of these things are "just my opinion"!!

1. "Live" rock and sand just means it's "live" with beneficial bacteria. No way of knowing which is which. After a month or so, it will all be "live."

2. Yes... you can keep arranging the rock until you like it, and yes, it will stress things out a little. So try and do as much planning beforehand and keep the hands in the tank to a minimum. But definitely arrange things to your liking. Only way not to squish things is... well... just don't squish them!

3. Securing rock is a huge topic. Do some searching here and you'll find lots of info. You can use plastic zip ties, aquarium safe epoxy, or even drill the rock and insert acrylic rods between pieces. Lots of ways to do it.

4. I vacuum the top 1/2" or so of my sand. Don't stir it.

5. Yes... you have FAR too many fish, and fish that shouldn't be housed long term in a 10g tank. Only thing I'd even consider housing long-term in a 10g would be a clown goby, or fish like that. A 10g quarantine tank is good for clowns, etc... but long term... not good.

6. Tank is way overcrowded as it is, and is probably headed for some rough times in the future if it stays that way. I wouldn't add anything, if it was me, before reducing the bioload and understanding the ins and outs of keeping a marine aquarium.

7. Can't help ya there... but even with an upgraded light, keeping stable water parameters in a 10g is a tough thing. Especially if you're just starting out. And anemones need good, stable water.

8. Best thing is to use rubber/latex gloves when handling corals. Some can sting and leave welts, some don't. And some folks are more sensitive than others. Corals like zoanthids contain a potent neurotoxin in their mucous. Best bet is to just use gloves and error on the side of caution.

9. See #6, and yes... I wouldn't even consider a star in anything under 75g.

10. See #6. And I wouldn't even consider cucumbers. Beautiful things, but if they get overly stressed or die, they pretty much nuke your tank.

11. Nothing really you can do anyway, so just keep an eye on it. Sometimes it takes a while for them to acclimate to their new surroundings. Sometimes they lose their crown (the "feathers") due to the stress of the move and it will take a while for it to grow back. Only time will tell.

12. Probably better to use your hands since you can be gentler.

13. The snails will do fine. If you've overstocked on snails, some will die off and you will have some natural population control going on.

14. Can't say for sure without knowing what kind it is. But for the most part, there should be a knob or dial somewhere on it that you can turn to adjust the thermostat setting - assuming it is adjustable. Rule #1 is don't trust a thermostat on a heater... they are notoriously incorrect. Best thing is to get a separate thermometer (I like the small digital Coralife ones) and adjust your thermostat based on the thermometer. It's not unusual to have your thermostat set at 78 and see your thermometer read 76.

15. If you're not going to add anything (see #6!), no need for a quarantine tank. Until something gets sick. Quarantine tanks can be run all the time, or set up only when needed. If set up when needed, you need to be prepared with something to provide biological filtration in the newly setup tank - or spend the time to re-cycle the quarantine tank.

The best advice for you right now is to stop, not add anything to this tank, and research what it is you want to take back to the LFS. Keeping all the stuff you have in a 10g is just a disaster waiting to happen. It could take a week, or a month, but it will happen unless you devote every waking second to this tank. I would not trust any LFS that sells a 10g tank to a beginner, and lets them stock it the way you have. Not your fault... you were just given some bad advice.

Welcome aboard, keep asking questions, and in the mean time you might want to get a hold of a book by Robert Fenner called "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". It's an absolute must-read for anyone starting out in this hobby.
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Old 04-02-2010, 04:47 PM   #5
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With 8 fish in a ten gallon tank it would be like a ticking time bomb. I would suspect it would be OK after 6 weeks but one day the bomb will go off . The bioload keeps getting bigger and bigger till the tank crashes. I`ve been on this site a long time and you dont know how many folks have posted with too many fish and they even say their fish are happy only to post a thread about 6 months later called "Why are my fish dead". Not trying to be a smart alec but I just want you to know what the deal is and what my experience leads me to believe.
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Old 04-02-2010, 04:57 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, I appreciate the input. Im taking this very seriously, especially with my ultimate goal.

The two clowns are probably the fish I would want to keep the most, I just adore them. But in the end, I'd rather do what's right for the fish so if they absolutely have to go, I will get rid of them. *sniff* I plan on keeping this tank for about a year and then going much bigger. Will the two clowns be okay until then?

The firefish gobys are pretty but they are hidden 95% of the time so it wouldnt bother me for them to go back. The clown goby is very cute but so far not eating and moving much so Im worried about him.

I thought the cucumber was a wierd choice to have in a beginner 10g tank! I read that those are a no-no unless you're experienced. When I asked him about it, he said that specific type (yellow) was ok?? ...How would I get him out of there without nuking my tank?


The yellow tail damsel is pretty but seems to nip at one of clowns ever so often so maybe he should go. I kind of like the two cleaner gobys...so what if I kept both of them and the two clowns?
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Old 04-02-2010, 05:20 PM   #7
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i would take the advice of mel and kurt two of many who know what there talking about.take it from me i left that very same post.under saltwater fowlr (fisk onlly with live rock) forum. they gave me some great advice.
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:07 PM   #8
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If I were to go buy a bigger tank...would I be able to move with it? Im just assuming you cant move big tanks without killing the fish.
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:19 PM   #9
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Not true. You can move a tank with very little problem. I`ve done it for myself and others. You`ll just need a few buckets for the fish and corals and maybe some styrofoam coolers to keep the LR in. It can be done.
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:41 PM   #10
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Hmmm, maybe I'll go buy a bigger tank then since I'd rather have that anyway. I guess the only question is whether I can cycle a new tank before anything happens to these guys.

Thanks for all your help!
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