Today I purchased a 27 gallon cube aquarium and stand from my LFS
. It was on sale for such an amazing price I just couldn't give it up. I already have a 46g community tank and am in the process of setting up a 55-70g Cichlid community so I didn't know right off the bat what I was going to use this tank for.
Then it dawned on me that a few weeks ago while at another aquarium store my husband saw a Green Spotted Puffer and fell in love with it. He wanted to take it home so badly but I had to explain to him that they are NOT a community fish and needed to be housed in their own brackish environment.
I told him that when I was a child (12-13) I had two GSPs named Tiffany and Congo and they lived in a separate 10 gallon aquarium (I know right? YIKES!) that I setup specially for them after they harassed and took a chunk out of all my fishes' fins in my 30g community tank. I didn't know any better and the gentleman at Wal-Mart where I purchased her from said she was a community fish and would be fine. HA! Wal-Mart has NO business selling these fish, but that is neither here nor there and when you're 12 years old a fish is a fish and nothing but a fish.
Anyways, I told him that they were the best fish I had EVER owned. They became my best friends for the next three years. Every day when I got home from school they would race around the tank at 100 miles per hour and were so excited and overjoyed to see me. This would happen especially at feeding time and they would get so excited and rambunctious that on two separate occasions one of them even jumped out of the tank and landed on the floor. The funniest part however, was they wanted nothing to do and had no interest whatsoever in my grandparents (my guardians at the time). They would not even touch their food no matter how hungry they were if anyone but me were to feed them.
While reminiscing about them I decided I wanted to have another one and when I saw that tank at the store today I felt it was meant to be. Now that I am "all grown up" and have had years of fish keeping experience and knowledge under my belt I want to do this the right way and ensure its home is comfortable and safe and although I have read countless articles on this particular species, I would like some advice from someone who has owned/or owns one and knows what they are talking about.
Like I said, I plan to have ONE puffer in this tank. I liked that it is cubed shape so he/she will have plenty of swimming room in every direction. I am going to have a small-medium grain sand as the substrate. This will ensure that its stomach will not get scraped up. I have also read in a few different articles that they will also sometimes use the sand to grind down their teeth, much like how they use snails.
I do not plan on having any live plants because from my readings and my personal experience I have read/seen that they will eat most plants and even if they do not eat them they will certainly uproot them. My community tank is planted and pretty much all of my plants have been uprooted at one time or another and I know how much of a pain it is to replant them every (sometimes other) day. Therefore I am just going to use driftwood and possibly some rocks to aquascape. I even thought about having a big root in the middle of the tank, instead of driftwood, to simulate somewhat of a brackish mangrove environment. The problem with that though is finding a root (either real or resin) that fits the tank. I feel as though roots look best when they protrude out of the water however this won't be possible since I need to have a tight fitting lid so it does not jump out. Therefore I am leaning more towards driftwood. Does anyone have any recommendations of what other decor would look good with driftwood?
Next, the aquarium comes with a HOB
Penguin 150 filter. I am thinking of using this filter and adding a small canister as well since the Penguin is only rated for 30g and I like to over filter. Since I will be using a HOB
do you think it will be necessary for me to run an air pump and stone? Or should the circulation of the filters be enough? I honestly don't know how much oxygen one puffer would need.
Lastly, the age old question....tank mates. Having only one puffer in the aquarium is fine by me, however I would like to have something that can munch on the algae and possible leftovers since they are such messy eaters. I have looked on Liveaquaria, Seagrest (our local fish supplier), and a few other "mom and pop" fisheries for other brackish fish. The only ones that are coming up are a plethora of Mollies, a few Gobies, and of course Puffers. There were a few oddballs I found such as Archers and Sebaes(sp.?) however they require at least 100g habitats from what I've read.
Mollies would theoretically do the trick best due to the fact that they will eat most any food as well as algae. What worries me though is their somewhat long fins, they utilize the entire tank for swimming instead of just sticking to the top, middle, or bottom and the puffer's insatiable appetite and affinity for live fish as a tasty snack. I know that most Mollies are going to be larger than the juvenile GSP that I purchase, but that won't always be the case. Besides, I have seen Pea Puffers go at fish 10-20x their own size and Green Spotters are a lot larger and probably a tad more aggressive than their bite-sized cousins. Would it be a good idea to put a Molly or two in the tank at the same time as the puffer and when it matures relocate it/them to my 46g community tank? Or would you just not even bother?
I did see one brackish fish that caught my eye. I believe it was called at Bumblebee Goby? I know they stay exclusively at the bottom of the tank in a cave that they will mark as their own and rarely leave that cave which is perfect because from my experience GSPs tend to stay at the middle-top of the tank. The only problem with that however is again the size and I do not believe they eat algae. Does anyone have any suggestions as far as possible tank mates?
Since I have never had a true brackish tank before (only pure salt/fresh water) I am a little confused on the salt addition schedule. They start out as total freshwater and must be slowly weaned into brackish or even full salt (one of the employees at my LFS
has a GSP that he has weaned to full salt water and showed me pictures of it in a coral tank. It blew my mind!). Do you add salt daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.? And also how much salt per gallon? If anyone could point me in the right direction of a schedule/chart/calculator I would REALLY appreciate it. I don't want to wean it too slowly or too quickly.
My last question/confusion is what is a brackish tank considered? Marine or freshwater? Some of my chemicals and tests indicate that they are for freshwater only, some are usable in both, and I have seen in stores and online chemicals and tests that are to be only used in marine systems. I have NEVER seen anything that indicates it is designed for and/or only to be used in brackish systems. A prime example would be test strips. Although I do not use them (I only use API's master test kit) which "cheat sheet" should the results be checked against? Marine or fresh? The results GREATLY differ on each side and I want to make sure I get accurate results and most importantly want to make sure I am not adding any chemicals that can harm a brackish system.
I am very sorry for posting such a long entry but like I said I want to make sure I do everything right this time. Any knowledge, tips, or tricks would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you SO much!