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Old 12-07-2008, 01:29 PM   #1
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Reef or FOWLR for newbie?

Hi everyone. I am new to the forum and also setting up my first marine tank. I purchased a used 125 gallon, which came with a chiller, a wet/dry, lights, and oak hood and stand, and live rock. A pretty nice set-up which I upgraded with a better protein skimmer, and I purchased 50 pounds of Vanuatu LR (just done curing this weekend). Some of the old live rock is going into the wet dry to replace the bioballs, and the rest will remain in the tank.

So the family and I are trying to decide what type of tank to set up. We all agree that we prefer the look of the angels, and butterfly fish. This would pretty much mean that I cannot have much in the way of coral, I assume.

I spoke with the "fish guy" who moved my tank, and he feels that we can pick the invertebrates to suit the fish, and that there will be a few corals that the fish may leave alone.

So does anyone have any opinions about setting up a tank, that, while not truly a "reef tank", can still have some of that look, with the more resistant corals and inverts? I have been doing quite a bit of research and my understanding (correct me if I am wrong) is that some species of butterfly are more likely to damage coral than others, and that individuals vary.

And by the way,what is the danger of some species of butterfly making short work of my beautiful vanuatu LR? My current thinking is to get the LR into the tank, wait on any questionable fish, see what comes from the rock in the way of hitchhikers, and after a few months make my final decision as to whether to go reef or FOWLR.

Thanks for any advice any of you can give.

BAR
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Old 12-07-2008, 02:40 PM   #2
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My opinion will be a little bias towards a reef tank because that is what i keep but i will put in my 2 cents.

I agree with you that the angels and butterfly fish are great looking fish and make for a stunning display. Some things you may want to keep in mind is that because they get so big and compatibility issues you will only be able to keep one maybe two angels happily in a tank that size. With larger fish like that you will be surprisingly limited to the total number of fish you can keep. I prefer smaller fish in larger number. Gives more of a "community" kind of feel to the tank.

There are several butterfly's that can be kept with some corals. Your research is correct. Some types of butterflys be much more likly to bother your corals then other and then can even very greatly from fish to fish of the same type. Personalities differ. Some will be coral murderers from day one and others will be fine forever. Many people even have had situations where a fish is fine for years in thier reef and just one day get the taste for coral and terrorize a reef for days before their owners realize they have become a coral killer.

Butterfly fish like to pick things off of the rock but they won't hurt the rock its self. Do you have 50LBS of LR for your tank total or was there more that came with the tank besides the 50lbs you bought?

I would urge you to have a look around at the different kinds of fish out there. There are a lot of very cool fish that are reef safe that would allow you to keep your corals and still enjoy all your fish as well. Some fish like sand sifting gobys don't look as flash and pretty as angels but they can be fascinating to watch as they make thier burrows and dig around in the tank.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:22 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, Pat. The tank came with 160 pounds of what the previous owner called live rock, but when the "fish guy" took a look at it, he felt there was not so much life in it, although it has improved very well over the last month, as evidenced by my testing of the water (nitrites just about zero, and nitrates at about 5). So, I am actually adding an additional 50 pounds, and the older rock will be used more for structure, to create caves and safety spots for the fish.

Once the tank is well established, I want to put in one angel, because they do get so big, and I understand that there may be fish compatibility issues if I am not careful and put in two. I am very lucky that I have my "fish guy" available for information and we can discuss what I am looking for in my tank. One thing that I am learning very quickly is that there are a multitude of experiences and opinions out there, and what works for one person does not necessarily mean that it will work for me, and vice versa.

Ideally, I would put in one butterfly, one angel, and one tang, and any additional fish would be smaller. I do not want to overstock the tank!

BAR
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:36 PM   #4
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Since you are going to add more live rock BE SURE TO CYCLE even if the old rock is already cylced you will have to cycle again because of the new rock. *Be sure to see if rock is cured*
Good lUck!!!!
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Old 12-09-2008, 09:57 PM   #5
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Welcome aboard Bar. I also have a 125 gallon tank. Mine`s a full reef. With those three fish you are talking about two of them will destroy a reef after some time. I cant personally speak for the butterfly but I can for the angel. I had two that after 4 yrs of good behavior almost destroyed my reef. If you are thinking about going reef in the future you`ll have to catch these fish which will be hard in a tank with that much rock. I had to tear mine down to catch them. I`ve had folks that have had to tear there`s down to catch a butterfly fish because they were nipping at corals. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but I dont want you to have to go through what I had to go through. Again welcome to the site.
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:02 AM   #6
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Thanks for all your advice. The rock has been curing over the past three weeks. We have been debating what we want to eventually have. a reef tank or a FOWLR. My wife's opinion is that we should decide what fish we want to keep first, then that will make the decision for us. She feels she rather let the fish determine the invertebrates, rather than the inverts determine the fish. Reef tanks are beautiful though.
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Old 12-10-2008, 01:48 PM   #7
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That makes good sense. I was the opposite. I wanted the reef so the corals decided what fish I would have. Either way is fine as long as you have a plan. Tell your wife that`s some excellent thinking.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:07 PM   #8
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I think it's a no-brainer that a beginner should do FOWLR 1st. Corals are more picky about water conditions , perfect flow-rate, etc. than fish.

It's alot more expensive running a reef tank also, so if you make a mistake after investing hundreds of dollars in corals, anemones, lighting , and such , and your tank crashes, you'll be sick to your stomach.

You can always change to reef down the road .
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:40 PM   #9
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I dont know maybe so but you`ll eventually do fish first anyway because you need several months for your tank to stabilyze before corals anyway. But my mind was made up that this was going to be a reef tank as soon as it did.
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Old 12-12-2008, 12:25 PM   #10
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In my opinion you should always start with a FOWLR, just choose your livestock to include only "reef safe" animals, and in time you can begin introducing your corals. This is what I'm currently doing.
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