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Old 01-11-2009, 12:08 PM   #21
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Let me be a little more specific about my future plans (I probably should have included this in my original post). I have every intention of adding a 135 gallon aquarium to my collection in about 2 years. At that time, the larger fish (mainly the domino and three striped damsels) will be moved to the new tank. That's what I've done with my freshwater tanks since the start and it has worked out fairly well for me.

About 3-4 years ago I started off with a tiny 5 gallon tank that would be considered overstocked by most aquarists. I had a baby goldfish, a mollie, a catfish, a betta, and a pleco in that tank. At this point I'm sure you're all thinking the goldfish would have killed everyone else in the tank once he got a little bigger than them, but that was never the case. I think that since he grew up with everyone else, he had no problems with them and since there was no competition for food, they all coexisted happily. I had enough filtration to take care of their wates and I performed maintenance often enough to where the fish were always happy. Naturally, after about a year these inhabitants outgrew their tank (mostly the goldfish and pleco) so I grabbed a new 10 gallon tank and moved those two out of the 5 and into the 10 and added a couple other fish into that tank to a point most people would consider overstocked, but once again routine care and way more filtration that I needed kept everything running smoothly. Over another year or two the 10 gallon was outgrown so I got a new 30 gallon, combined the 5 and 10 into the 30, added some more fish, and now the 30 has been hapilly trotting along for about a year (recent picture below).



I took the picture on my phone so the quality is horrible, but that gives you an idea... There are 26 fish in there (including a discus, angelfish, plecos, and a few other larger fish like that) which most would consider extremely overstocked for a 30 gallon tank, but the fish are perfectly happy. I have filtration recommended for up to a 110 gallon tank on there and the water is spotless. There are a bunch of hiding places inside/behind the rock and in the plants and I've noticed the fish tend to take turns. One fish will go hide in a plant and hang out for a little while, then come back an hour or two later and when he comes out, another fish will casually stroll into that plant and hang out for a little while, and the cycle continues. It seems thats the way it is with all of the hiding places. There hasn't been one death in the tank in the past year or even as much as a stressed looking fish. They're all eating great and get along very well.

In my mind I was thinking that all aquariums, both fresh and salt, were this way... as long as you went way overboard on the filtration, provided plently of hiding places or just spaces to relax, and got tankmates that could all coexist peacefully, then "overstocking" isn't really a problem as long as the fish still have plenty of open space to swim.

I was planning on running the saltwater tank in the same way... overstocking it and when some inhabitants get too big, getting a larger tank and transferring them to that one. I figured 6 damsels was just the start and I'd get a few clownfish, some anemones, some coral, angelfish and a tang as well. Now I'm kind of at a loss on what to do... Here is a picture of the saltwater tank as it stands right now.



Again... horrible picture quality, but you get the idea
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:03 PM   #22
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I just know from your pictures, that when you get this all sorted out you are going to have a beautiful tank !!! Just stay positive and feel very welcome to AA...lllllllll


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Old 01-11-2009, 05:01 PM   #23
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In My 40 Gallon even with a bit of an ammonia reading from reused gravel, has 2 Tricolor Damsels. They are 2or 3 inches long. They have been fine and so you might need to check their arent any chemicals from the tank or similar. Also you should only add 2 or 3 damsels tops.
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Old 01-11-2009, 06:49 PM   #24
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James, while I agree with you that depending on the fish, 5-6 fish is not overstocking a 55, would you want to put anyting else in a tank with 5 -6 damsels already in it?
Really depends on the damsels. Domino damsels are known terrors so I think that was a poor choice unless an aggressive tank is planned; however, there are relatively shy damsels available such as Chrysiptera cyanea, Chrysiptera talboti, Amblyglyphidodon aureus, Chrysiptera parasema, and Chrysiptera hemicyanea. I'm sure there are many I am missing, but these are common. In stocking any of these damsels, groups of 5-10+ are preferred because damsels are community fish in that they are constantly re-establishing and challenging each other's territories. If there are just a couple damsels then they move onto other fish, which is part of the problem I see most people having other than choosing known aggressive species.
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Old 01-12-2009, 02:13 AM   #25
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So I guess this brings up the age old question...

How do you tell a newcomer to SW aquariums how many fish is too many? Most folks will argue that the "3 gallon per inch" or "5 gallon per inch" rules don't work... but how then does one know when they're maxed out?

debonair23... I guess as long as you realize you're pushing the limit on fish and purposefully overstocking it, then you can at least be watching for issues and deal with it. I guess I just see overstocking and having a reef as two things that don't really want to go together. Seems like you're just making it hard on yourself to keep your water parameters in good shape and your corals healthy.
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:50 AM   #26
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I don't understand how not cycling can cause so many fish to die if he was doing daily tests and reading zero ammonia/nitrite.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:40 PM   #27
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That's a good point. I missed the part about ammonia testing zero when I first read the post. Guess my mind focused on the number of fish, an uncycled tank, and a fish breathing hard and assumed "ammonia". If the test kit was old, it might not be reading correctly - but if it is, this could be a culprit too...

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As far as acclimating the fish, I put their bag in my tank for about an hour to get the temperatures to level off some. Then I have a quarantine tank that clips onto the side of my main tank... I fill that half way with tank water and half way with the bag water, then clip that on the inside of my tank and put the fish in, then leave them there for another hour for so. After that I put them directly into the main tank.
Depending on how different the LFS water was from your main tank water, this could've been a pretty good shock. Most acclimation procedures for SW suggest either drip acclimation over a period of an hour or so, or the "shot glass method" where a small amount of water is removed from the bag and replaced with tank water every 10 minutes or so. (Not exactly sure on that last method... never used it.)
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:53 PM   #28
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I don't understand how not cycling can cause so many fish to die if he was doing daily tests and reading zero ammonia/nitrite.
Thats exactly what I was thinking... I wasn't exaggerating the checking every day or any of that. The ammonia level never rose and if it did, it had to go up and back to 0 within 24 hours tops.

I had another three stripe damsel die today and i'm just really at a loss as to whats going on. Sure enough, all of the level are still registering 0. I even went out last night and got a separate saltwater ammonia test kit just to double-check the results my saltwater master test kit were giving me and sure enough, that test kit says 0 ammonia as well.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:06 AM   #29
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Are you getting these fish from the same source?
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:31 AM   #30
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What kind of test kits are you using and how old are they?
I agree with James as well. How do they get their stock?
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