Dipping My Toes

2006fuzz

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ive recently become interested in starting up a SW tank. I’ve got many FW setups of various types and feel like a little saltiness would be awesome.

My end goal is a 54 corner tank, with a pair of clowns, an anemone, some emerald crabs, some sort of shrimp goby, and maybe a mandarin goby. Probably some corals too

I know these tanks take weeks to cycle, with no real way to jump start it. My question to begin with; since I’m assuming the clowns would have to be QT, can I grow my first portion of liverock in a 10 gallon (Im scared of the creepy crawlers from pre-cured rock) and once it reads as cycled add in my clowns? I know 10 gallons is on the small side, but for the next 6 or so months is the best I can do before I get the new tank... and before people worry, I have the tank purchased, it’s just stuck at my parents for the time being...
 

MrBryan723

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Well there are lots of dynamics that take place. How close do you live to the ocean? If you live very close you sure can do your own live rock, but even still that's a many, many months process. If you have access to a reef tank obviously much less. The cycle process isn't very difficult as long as you have access to the right ecosystem outside of the tank. You run across the same issues quarantining anything so if you want to start with clowns you might as well introduce them immediately but I would recommend something less expensive and more hardy. Live rock and saltwater mollies is a good start. Live rock is expensive for a reason tho. Getting the right algae and such to grow on(and more importantly in) it take time.
 

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Or... you could do like me, start with dry rock, and be very patient. I never added an ounce of live rock to my reef tank and yes, it took time, but less than a year later I had a mature tank with a healthy microfauna population and growing coralline algae. I have quarantined all but the first fish and dipped almost every coral. What can I thank for the diversity in the tank if I've been so careful with the introduction of living things? Certain people that I feel I can highly trust.

For example, when it was time to set up a refugium, I went on down to a favored LFS and bought some cheato. Threw it right in my system. BIG MISTAKE! It was riddled with aiptaisia, a pest that caused all kinds of headaches, which I ended up spending lots of time and money on getting rid of.

Learned my lesson there, threw that chaeto away, and called on a trusted friend right here on Fishlore, who I knew would be straight with me about any pests. From that bunch of chaeto I got a bunch of copepods and some white worms. YAY!! Healthy, tasty snacks for the fish.

Otherwise, there is only one coral retailer that I have purchased from and NOT dipped the frags. I do not recommend this though, as even the best retailers with excellent quarantine protocols can have a pest that they are as yet unaware of.

After the aiptaisia battle, which took months, I became dedicated to quarantining every single thing that goes in my tank. There are worse pests to worry about as well, which I'll not go into now, but imagine things that you can hardly see taking out hundreds of dollars in coral.:banghead:

Diversity needs to be introduced, but I'd recommend doing so very carefully if you're leery of pests like I am.

So, the short answer is yes, you can start curing and cycling rock in your ten gallon, and these rocks would then help to seed the additional rock you'll need when you get the big tank moved in. Meaning, if the rock in the 10g is well cycled, it will jump start the cycle on the big tank.

I do not recommend a fish-in cycle with the clownfish though. You can fishless cycle dry rock in a salty tank with ammonia, just like fishless cycling media in a FW filter.

As for the clowns themselves, if you want two, it will be best if you get juveniles from an established group. Clownfish are territorial little guys, and once established, are unlikely to get along with new fish. For this reason, it's really best to start with your least aggressive fish, which would be your goby.

Please, please, please, DO NOT get a mandarin fish. These guys are my absolute favorite fish, yet I don't and won't have one. They need very well established, large systems with a healthy, thriving copepod population. Even those that are advertised to eat prepared foods may revert to their natural diet of copepods in a high-stress situation... such as a move to a new tank. So many of these beauties starve, even under more experienced care. Properly caring for them takes a lot of time and work, and can cost quite a bit too. Are you prepared to have another small tank where you're culturing live foods just for this fish? If not, please just say no. Can you do a mandy someday in the larger tank? Perhaps... it just depends on certain factors. This should be in the very back of your mind at this point though, as lots and lots of research needs to be done first.
 

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I would skip the 10 gallon system and the fish for now and go with a 32 gallon garbage can on rollers to cycle either dry rock or life rock (dry rock with a bacteria coating). This way you avoid the creepy crawlies that you are so concerned about. The advantage to this is that you will have plenty of space in the 32 gallon to house all your rock and all you need is Salt/Rodi water, the rock, bacteria/ammonia source, a powerhead/wavemaker and a tank heater. I went from my 36 gallon bowfront with 40lbs of rock to my current 90 gallon with 90lbs of rock and I can tell you that adding rock later is NOT a fun task. I added the 40lbs directly from my 36 gallon to the 90 gallon and the couple of fish and inverts I still had from the old tank and then cycled the additional 50lbs in a 32 gallon garbage can. About 60 days later I added the additional rock to the 90 gallon and I can't be sure but I think it contributed to the death of my Diamond Watchman Goby. The point is that it would be best to hold off until about 60 days before you get your 54 gallon corner tank, and use the method listed above to get ALL THE ROCK ready and then when you do get your 54 gallon in, simply transfer all the cycled rock into the new tank together. This also gives you a MUCH LARGER MARGIN FOR ERROR. If another cycle triggers after the transfer, there will be no harm done to any live stock because you won't have any. As long as you keep the rock wet though and make sure it is properly cycled you shouldn't have any problems though (My 50lbs of additional rock never had any issues with the transfer). For this reason I really recommend skipping the 10 gallon for now and going with the garbage can method, it will also save you a bit of money in the long run since you can basically just buy the components for the tank you want instead of a smaller tank and then a larger tank.

Oh and agreed on the Mandarin. Take it from a guy who had one and spent $250-$300 on pods only to have it die in about 2-3 months. Mine even learned to eat frozen mysis and reef frenzy. The other fish were just too quick and beat it to the food.
 
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2006fuzz

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I’d be down for keeping a tank for live foods but as a beginner I’ll head the warning and avoid the mandarin until I can properly dedicate the time. Coming from a FW background, I already have an empty 10, and aquaclear 20, and a sufficient heater to start cycling rock in a “visually” appealing manner. I do plan on 100% doing a fishless cycle before adding the clowns to the small tank. And I’ll be technically doing a second 100% fishless cycle once I get the 54 and I probably be adding more dry rock to that system before moving the clowns. I was aware abot buying juvie pairs or confirmed pairs Burt thanks for the heads up about addin the clowns last.

So my plan is,
Fishless cycle the 10 gallon.
Add a pair of clowns.
Fishless cycle the 55
Stock the goby, and maybe something colourful? Plus my inverts.
THEN add my clowns in last, and turn the q0 into a sumo?

And by doing t in these smaller steps, it’ll hopefully be more financially manageable and fun since I can get a more “immediate” result
 

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Sounds like a plan to me. I too had to take things slow to make our reef build financially manageable, and it is very true that patience pays in this hobby.

By something colorful, I'm assuming you mean more fish, yes? We haven't really started talking about corals yet, and that opens up a whole 'nother can of worms regarding source water quality, lighting, and more test kits. So, we'll get there, but for colorful fish in the big tank, I'd want a wrasse or two. @Jesterrace can help you with those guys and it would be quite helpful if you could tell us the dimensions of your corner tank. Hmmm, wrasses are big pod hunters I think, so if a mandy is in mind for the future, a wrasse may be a bad idea.

The 10g could be used as a sump, but then we're talking about plumbing, which I cannot help you with. I also wonder if it's worth it for a 10G. A better option would be to pick up a 20g at a $1/gallon sale if you can. With that more significant increase in volume, I think plumbing it may be worth it. Also, a sump is a safe place for pods to populate and reproduce. Some will make it into your tank and will probably get eaten, but the general population in the sump would be safe from fish.

If you go that option, the 10g wouldn't have to go to waste. Ehhh, again, don't want to jump the gun, but there's a host of pests that corals can come with. You do not want them in your reef, so a coral QT is a wise choice. A frag rack and a PAR 38 bulb would be about all you'd need.

Disclaimer: I did not qt corals in my first year. I didn't qt the chaetomorpha algae that I got for the refugium either. Dipping coral seems to have kept me pretty safe, but the chaeto brought aiptasia with it. The little pest anemones seemed manageable at first, but it got worse over time. It became a huge headache and a months-long battle before I finally dropped the cash on aiptasia hunters, or Berghia Nudibranchs. That worked. However, the months of frustration and money spent on annihilating aiptasia changed my mind about things... and that's not even to mention the worse pests that can wipe out an entire coral population. Anyhow, luckily I had a spare fluorescent fixture that could go over the quarantine tank, effectively turning the fish qt to a reef qt. I now qt every living thing before it goes in the display tank.
 
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2006fuzz

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I’ve been following @Lchi87’s thread so I can add myself to the list of inspired minds lol. Canada seems to never have dollar per gallon sales sadly, not that I’m sure a 20 high would even fit in the cabnit. The tank is an Aqueon 54 gallon corner tank, dimensions readily available on google :3

Right now I’m set on a pair of clowns and an anemone, otherwise I have no plans. I tend to start off Fowlr until I have the big tank settled for sure, and I don’t mind only keeping the clowns in the 10 until the upgrade either. It is fun to dream tho

I would like to keep the stocking free for a mandarin so any big food competition I think I may want to avoid?

And it’s nice to talk to a reefer without a sump, it’s been by far the most daunting part of the research. An RO/DI system is in order before I even fill the tank, 5 gallon pails in city buses do not add up well.
 

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On the subject of wrasses, just me but having owned a Mandarin and having owned a couple of wrasses (soon to be another as I have a Female Blue Star Leopard Wrasse in QT right now), I would pick Wrasses over the Mandarin any day of the week. Wrasses in general are much easier to care for (provided you go for the Easy to Care For/Peaceful demeanor ones), have far more personality and quite frankly are much more visible. One of the things I found disappointing about the Mandarin was it spent the majority of it's time basically crawling in and around the rock work and as such it wasn't nearly as visible as I wanted. My Melanurus Wrasse on the other hand is almost always visible somewhere in my tank, swimming around, being curious, and in general being a ham, the other advantage is that they won't starve to death from lack of pods and can hold their own against other fish when it comes to feeding time (not being afraid to zip in and grab food). I agree it will come down to a choice between one or the other and for me personally I would pick the wrasses hands down over the Mandarins for all the reasons listed above. For comparison I will show you a couple of vids. The first is of my Mandarin and the second is what a Male and Juvenile Melanurus Wrasse look like and how active and visible they are:


 
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2006fuzz

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How about green clown gobys? The thing that draws me to the mandarin is their crazy coloring. I also love the shrimp/goby relationship but I hear you cant keep multiple gobies in a single tank right?
 

Jesterrace

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How about green clown gobys? The thing that draws me to the mandarin is their crazy coloring. I also love the shrimp/goby relationship but I hear you cant keep multiple gobies in a single tank right?
Clown Goby would be a much better choice as they are much easier to care for. Also, as seen in my vid above, Mandarins look absolutely stunning in pictures, etc. but in reality their colors are a bit less spectacular/muted in real life. Keeping multiple gobies can be a bit of a trick but in a 50 plus gallon tank, it would probably work with a couple of them, provided they are different types of gobies. For example you could keep a clown goby and some sort of bottom dwelling sand sifting goby/pistol shrimp combo and be okay. Either way it would be a lot less hassle and headache for you than a Mandarin and no worries about getting any of them to feed or get food. Oh and as for the clowns and the 'nem, a piece of advice, many clowns these days are captive bred and as such may not even know what to do with a 'nem. They do not need them either. Clowns will be fine without them and 'nems usually require a well established tank with bright light to thrive. Just me but I would skip the stinging critter and just get a pair of captive bred clowns. It will make things much easier for you, especially being a newbie starting out with a 10 gallon tank.
 
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2006fuzz

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That sounds liek good advice

So hows this for a tentative stocking plan;
2 occelaris clowns
1 clown goby
1 pistol shrimp/yellow watchman goby pair
1 tailspot blenny
1 six line wrasse
1 emerald crab
1 fire shrimp
and a CUC

with probably an anemone eventually XD Only going to stock a pair of clowns in the 10 tho, obviosly
 

Jesterrace

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Looks great, except for the 6 line wrasse. 6 line wrasses are well known for going rogue and killing their tankmates when they reach sexual maturity and are a pain to catch and remove. Many horror stories of people having them going on killing sprees even in 100 plus gallon tanks. I would go with a Melanurus, Christmas (specifically H.Claudia) or Red Lined Wrasse. Much nicer temperament and look every bit as cool as the 6 line (and are bigger/more noticeable)







There are also some Flasher Wrasses that could be fun: http://aquarium-fish.liveaquaria.com/search?w=Flasher Wrasse
 
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2006fuzz

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The Christmas and the Hoevens look awesome. Stocking wise, how full am I? I know SW is abit different then fresh with territory being more at play with large stocking plans then actual water volume.

I saw a cool looking dottyback as well as some epic colored azure damselfish but I want to stay on the more conservative side when thinking up stocking. I really do want the more vibrant colors you just can't get in FW...

updated proposal
-2 clowns
-watcherman goby/pistol shrimp pair
-green clown goby
-tailspot blenny
-christmas or hoevens wrasse
-emerald crab
-fire shrimp

-springirei or neon dottyback
-azure damselfish
 

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I started my tank with 25lbs of live rock from another salt tank i had and 40lbs of dry rock. 2-3 months later all my dry rock is completely covered in coraline algae and you'd never know it was dry base rock from the start. Saltwater tank keeping is a game of patience. Nothing comes quick and when you take short cuts you get burned. If you dont want any nasty hitchhikers then start with base rock and let it mature over a couple months. Half that time you'll be in the cycle process anyway so in reality you're only waiting an extra month or two from that point to start getting some nice coraline growth.
 

Jesterrace

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The Christmas and the Hoevens look awesome. Stocking wise, how full am I? I know SW is abit different then fresh with territory being more at play with large stocking plans then actual water volume.

I saw a cool looking dottyback as well as some epic colored azure damselfish but I want to stay on the more conservative side when thinking up stocking. I really do want the more vibrant colors you just can't get in FW...

updated proposal
-2 clowns
-watcherman goby/pistol shrimp pair
-green clown goby
-tailspot blenny
-christmas or hoevens wrasse
-emerald crab
-fire shrimp

-springirei or neon dottyback
-azure damselfish
Steer clear of the Damsel or Dottyback. Mean little buggers. The only Dottyback I would even attempt is the Orchid (not to be confused with the Purple Dottyback) as it is a bit more mild than it's other counterparts. I would say your updated proposal list would be good. One thing to consider with gobies and other small fish is that they have a tendency to hide a lot. Although with the Clowns and the Wrasse that will definitely help fill things in for you. The tailspot is a cool but tiny little fish, so you may not see much of him. Definitely useful for algae removal though. All in all a pretty good list.
 
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