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Old 04-24-2015, 06:52 PM   #1
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Gentle guidance for neophyte, please.

I have a 36 gal newly set up salt water bow front tank (30"x20"x14") cycling right now (well, it has cycled, but isn't populated yet).

I have 40 lbs of aragonite sand and 35 lbs of dry rock (with "rubble" purchased from the LFS to seed the rock - upon which came a now evicted and deceased aiptasia) in the tank but currently only have a single 24" 50/50 (10,000k/actinic) T8 17W 24" bulb. I am planning on upgrading my lights to a 165w dimmable TaoTronics LED unit at my earliest opportunity.

For filtration, I am running a Rena FilStar canister filter. I have a 270 gph powerhead and dual Aqueon Pro heaters.

Current parameters are as follows:

Temp 77
SG 1.0235
NH3 0.1
NO2 0
NO3 7.5
pH 8.3
PO4 0.25
KH 180
Ca 400

I am also adding a HOB skimmer this weekend.

I think that I might be ready to populate the tank - what would be decent fish to start with that are hardy and not terribly expensive? Would it be reasonable/possible to add an anemone with my current setup, and if so, what one? I must admit, I am a terrible parent. I told my daughter that the "cute little anemone " (aiptasia) moved to find his happy place.

I am planning on blue leg hermit crabs, cerith snails and possibly a turbo as our cuc.

Thanks in advance. Hope I have given enough information.
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:55 PM   #2
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The most common hardy fish out there are clownfish. Just avoid damsels. They are mean and difficult to catch after they have fun killing off your new fish and you want rid of them.
In my old 36, I had two clownfish, a royal gramma, and a yellow watchman goby...of all that I can remember.
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Old 04-24-2015, 07:04 PM   #3
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Thank you, Hank. You were so helpful with my first post (about the aiptasia) as well. What about anemones (aside from the nasty ones, of course)?

I am happy to hear about clown fish and gobies, those were what I was hoping for.
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Old 04-24-2015, 07:09 PM   #4
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What about anemones? Once the taotronics fixture is above the unit, you can easily support them. You will just want to make sure that they are acclimated to the light and not blasted with these very high powered lights. This is a mistake I made when I upgraded to powerful LEDs...roughly 500 dollars worth of coral dead.
The key to anemone, lighting aside, is that they want stable pristine water. So it is normally recommended you wait 6 months to a year for one. This way your tank will have matured enough to avoid any odd swings or mini cycles that may occur.
I always suggest bubble tips. They are very popular and have the ability to host the more common clownfish that you would find. They don't always pair up and you can't force it to happen, but the chance is there.
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Old 04-24-2015, 07:14 PM   #5
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Fabulous. Thanks again.

And, until then, I just tell my daughter that the anemone is "hiding".
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Old 04-24-2015, 09:41 PM   #6
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The royal gramma is a good choice IMO.
Hard to swallow (and follow through with) as it is Hank is right about the nem.
6 months is a minimum and 1 year will just make you and your future nem much happier.
Stable water conditions aren't always something we measure as well as the tank inhabitants tell us about.
Even with good regular testing and results the timeline stands true as a standard.
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Old 04-25-2015, 03:30 PM   #7
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I don't want to be getting tank residents without knowledge and guidance, and subsequently setting them up for stress, illness or worse. I typically under stock my tanks - and surprisingly enough, my fish live for years.

If you recommend 6-12 months of inhabited stability (as well as changing my lights out, which I am planning to do), then I would be foolish to just jump and stick a victim in my tank...
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Old 04-25-2015, 04:18 PM   #8
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What fish have you decided on?
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Old 04-25-2015, 06:54 PM   #9
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I am leaning towards one or two clown fish, a royal gramma and a couple of sand sifting gobies.

Oh, and politely decline the green chromis that was offered to me

Any other recommendations (or is that plenty for my 36 gal)? I don't want to crowd the tank, but a little variety is nice.
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Old 04-25-2015, 07:02 PM   #10
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For anemone, my experience is they lIke a little dirty to the water. Strong lights and stable water condition.

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Old 04-25-2015, 07:06 PM   #11
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Anemone are sensitive inverts, 'dirty' water will not benefit them. They should be treated like SPS coral, pristine and stable water conditions with strong lighting.
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Old 04-25-2015, 07:08 PM   #12
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That sounds great!
If you can maintain pods OR find "captive bred/tank raised"(not the same)
Blue Mandarin | Synchiropus splendidus | ORA | Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums
mandarins are great!
With my sump I have always had a male and female and they graze on pods all day and such.


Good call on the chromis!
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Old 04-25-2015, 07:12 PM   #13
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Define dirty water?
XX nitrates?
Or unstable new tank type water?
Or unkept?
My nem split into two last fall(7 years old then) and that water is any thing but dirty!
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Old 04-25-2015, 07:58 PM   #14
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I'd love (LOVE) a Mandarin, but fear I might not be able to feed it adequately.

After seeing one, I fell in love - then started researching and am not sure that I'll have the resources to give it what it needs.

There are 3 LFSs in town, and the only thing I know of them is that they hate each other and will tell customers whatever they feel will get business. I was told that nems, many corals, most fish (including clowns, gobies, bennies and chromis (!!!)) were "just fine" with sea horses and pipefish. Guidance on a consistent supply of pods is definitely not something I feel confident I can get from any of them - despite the fact that they all have multiple mandarins in stock.

Because of this, I am very wary. The next closest source for salty stuff is about two hours away. We travel there often for medical care for our little girl, so we try to visit when we can.
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:08 PM   #15
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Not matter what a good LFS will feed the fish for you to see if they really want to sell it.
If they say it ate already or won't feed it for you DON'T buy it.
You should work into it all slowly.
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:24 PM   #16
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That is fabulous advice, thank you!

The one LFS (the one that told me to cycle the tank with green chromis) was happy to show me the "fancy" fish eating... he fed the puffers and some long thin black fish (looked something like a black Bichir with larger fins) but it seemed like more of a show than "caring" for the fish.

On LiveAquaria, Copepods are only one of the recommended foods for mandarins - will they actually get their required nutrients from brine shrimp and black worms? My gut says no...
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:29 PM   #17
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I would not count on supplementing their food right off the bat.
Some LFS sell "artic pods" which are good for feeding but $$ over time.
I wouldn't offer "freshwater foods" to marine fish.
IMO brine shrimp or Mysis are ok marine foods but the brine are not very nutritious and should be supplemented with vitamins(selcon) and such.
I would wait after introducing other fish a while(maybe 6 months) and then see if the mandarin is appropriate.
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:32 PM   #18
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I read somewhere that mandarin eat something every second or something like that. They are constantly eating. I spent a fortune keeping my mandarin alive with trying to keep pods going in my tank, and that was with it even eating mysis shrimp...which is rare.
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Old 04-25-2015, 08:56 PM   #19
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I think I will (at least for now) admire the mandarins at the shop and try to avoid the problems I could cause them. I heard something similar about their eating - every 2-3 seconds, and capable of eating a couple thousand pods a day.

In a perfect world, perhaps...

Side question - what about starfish? Another potential tank dweller I should wait on?
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Old 04-25-2015, 09:06 PM   #20
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That depends. Serpent and brittle stars are simple to keep. I am not aware of any other reef safe stars that are easy to care for. The others are fromia and they are not only difficult to keep, we don't even really know what they eat. This is another example of a beauty we throw in our tanks that simply ends up starving most of the time.
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