How do I start a brackish tank?

Megabeth

Hi!! I have an empty tank from moving fish around and I was thinking of making it saltwater but that's not really achievable right now so I thought instead id look into brackish tanks! Its a 15 gallon high and I was thinking of stocking it with one figure 8 puffer. I think they are super cute and funny. Im completely new to brackish so I have lots of questions!
1. I was thinking of keeping the tank at 1.005. Is this ok?
2. Im going to be converting a freshwater tank to brackish. Anything extra I need to do or anything for me to watch out for?
3. I have a stable colony of bladder/pond snails. Will these work to feed the puffer? Im will also feed bloodworms and brine shrimp.
4. Are there any plants for brackish tanks?
5. Can I still use an air stone in the tank?
6. What is the maintenance like? Do you have to do daily top-offs like saltwater?
7. I assume I will have to get a new siphon and net for brackish since I only have freshwater right now
8. Can I use tap/well water like I do for my fresh? Will I still have to dechlorinate it?
9.What equipment will I need. I know I need a hydrometer and marine slat but what else.
Im sorry for all the questions but I would like to be well researched before even trying to attempt this! Thanks!
 

Megabeth

More questions
Can i have any tankmates?
I have cats and the tank is in the living room. I know its not good for the puffer to puff up so would the cats stress the puffer too much? The cats usually leave the tank alone (when it still had fish in it) although sometimes they would sit next to it and watch it and maybe rarly bat at the tank.
 
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aquachris

Hi!! I have an empty tank from moving fish around and I was thinking of making it saltwater but that's not really achievable right now so I thought instead id look into brackish tanks! Its a 15 gallon high and I was thinking of stocking it with one figure 8 puffer. I think they are super cute and funny. Im completely new to brackish so I have lots of questions!
1. I was thinking of keeping the tank at 1.005. Is this ok?
2. Im going to be converting a freshwater tank to brackish. Anything extra I need to do or anything for me to watch out for?
3. I have a stable colony of bladder/pond snails. Will these work to feed the puffer? Im will also feed bloodworms and brine shrimp.
4. Are there any plants for brackish tanks?
5. Can I still use an air stone in the tank?
6. What is the maintenance like? Do you have to do daily top-offs like saltwater?
7. I assume I will have to get a new siphon and net for brackish since I only have freshwater right now
8. Can I use tap/well water like I do for my fresh? Will I still have to dechlorinate it?
9.What equipment will I need. I know I need a hydrometer and marine slat but what else.
Im sorry for all the questions but I would like to be well researched before even trying to attempt this! Thanks!
1. Thats ideal.
2. Add slowly, about .002/week increase to keep from killing off Beneficial bacteria. If you have mollies or Guppies, you can keep them in during the transition to keep it cycled.
3. yes! They will love them!
4. Some, best to acclimate - my son's brackish tank has java ferns
5. Yes - you may get a slight salt creep tho from the air.
6. Same as FW. If you have high evaporation, you will want to top off freshwater (salt doesn't evaporate). As long as its not a lot and a big swing in salinity, you might be able to wait for water changes once/week
7. Not required - but always recommended to prevent cross contamination of potential diseases - I use the same for my tanks, I start with fresh, move to salt at end of water changes, then clean everything well (rinse with fw)
8. If you have well water, you might not have chlroine. But if you have chlorine, yes dechlorinate. You don't NEED rodi
9. Get a refractometer - a ton more accurate and easier to use once you get used to it.

More questions
Can i have any tankmates?
I have cats and the tank is in the living room. I know its not good for the puffer to puff up so would the cats stress the puffer too much? The cats usually leave the tank alone (when it still had fish in it) although sometimes they would sit next to it and watch it and maybe rarly bat at the tank.
My son's has bumblebee gobies with it, they are cute and fun too. I've heard people have Mollies with them. I would start them together in the same tank.

I've got cats too, they don't bother the fish much. I wouldn't expect them to be too much trouble unless they are getting on top of the tank and putting their paws in the tank.

Since you have a 15 gallon, the recommended is 15g/figure 8. I wouldn't add more than 1.
I would also recommend on planning a deworming/parasite treatment when you get it. It will be wild caught and should go through that process.
You will need to use marine salt to mix - I recommend Instant Ocean, its pretty affordable.
Also pre-mix salt before adding to the tank with fish - you will need to do this in a bucket. Get a cheap powerhead to mix the salt for you in the bucket and you'll save yourself a lot of hard work
 
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Megabeth

1. Thats ideal.
2. Add slowly, about .002/week increase to keep from killing off Beneficial bacteria. If you have mollies or Guppies, you can keep them in during the transition to keep it cycled.
3. yes! They will love them!
4. Some, best to acclimate - my son's brackish tank has java ferns
5. Yes - you may get a slight salt creep tho from the air.
6. Same as FW. If you have high evaporation, you will want to top off freshwater (salt doesn't evaporate). As long as its not a lot and a big swing in salinity, you might be able to wait for water changes once/week
7. Not required - but always recommended to prevent cross contamination of potential diseases - I use the same for my tanks, I start with fresh, move to salt at end of water changes, then clean everything well (rinse with fw)
8. If you have well water, you might not have chlroine. But if you have chlorine, yes dechlorinate. You don't NEED rodi
9. Get a refractometer - a ton more accurate and easier to use once you get used to it.


My son's has bumblebee gobies with it, they are cute and fun too. I've heard people have Mollies with them. I would start them together in the same tank.

I've got cats too, they don't bother the fish much. I wouldn't expect them to be too much trouble unless they are getting on top of the tank and putting their paws in the tank.

Since you have a 15 gallon, the recommended is 15g/figure 8. I wouldn't add more than 1.
I would also recommend on planning a deworming/parasite treatment when you get it. It will be wild caught and should go through that process.
You will need to use marine salt to mix - I recommend Instant Ocean, its pretty affordable.
Also pre-mix salt before adding to the tank with fish - you will need to do this in a bucket. Get a cheap powerhead to mix the salt for you in the bucket and you'll save yourself a lot of hard work
So when I slowly add salt before the fish do I have to mix it overnight? How should I do it? What medicines should I treat with and do you recommend drip acclimation or floating? Thank you so much for the help!
 
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aquachris

levamisole
So when I slowly add salt before the fish do I have to mix it overnight? How should I do it? What medicines should I treat with and do you recommend drip acclimation or floating? Thank you so much for the help!
Based on the size you will have, I would say you could get a 5 gallon bucket, mix it for a few hours ahead of time (especially if you have a powerhead) - super duper easy! This would be a good amount as its about 33% water change each week. Basically your just making sure its "clear" and no salt is sitting on the bottom/sides of the bucket. You can do it the day before if you'd like, it doesn't hurt. My sons setup is done in another tank in our basement ready to go most of the time up to a week before. But your setup is a ton smaller, so no reason to complicate it You do want to keep nitrates low, they are more sensitive to that than other fish, but not like crazy sensitive (like shrimp). Since plants wont grow great, water changes are your friend.

I am hoping some other medicine experts chime in for this question... What I use isn't what everyone else uses (or recommends). I believe levamisole is the "recommended". I personally use Paraguard or Prazipro (praziquantel). I do 1/4 dose for first few days, then increase to half the recommended dosage for the rest of two weeks. I also run temp up high (89 F) to kill off possible ich for a week (slowly increase to, let it sit there for a week, then slowly bring it back down to 79-81). I really play it based on the fish and making sure it never gets "inactive". If they seem to have sunken in bellies within 24 hours still at the end of that time, I will switch the medicine to the other and run another 2 weeks.

I only drip acclimate if things are extremely different (for example, the salinity, or the hardness, ph, etc). If they are close to the same parameters and temps, I flop and drop. If I don't know then I err on the side of caution and drip for 2-4 hours.

Also word of note - I try not to net puffers. I prefer to catch them in cups/containers. They aren't as spaz like as other fish, so thankfully its not too hard. If they are outside in the net and puff up with air, that can be deadly.
 
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NoahLikesFish

I’d keep it fw and do a couple pea puffers, easier to keep and their teeth don’t grow

I wouldn’t do brackish because it can be trickier then salt, you need RODI water, you need to have salt, a powerhead to mix, all that and a refractometer, test kits

levamisole
Based on the size you will have, I would say you could get a 5 gallon bucket, mix it for a few hours ahead of time (especially if you have a powerhead) - super duper easy! This would be a good amount as its about 33% water change each week. Basically your just making sure its "clear" and no salt is sitting on the bottom/sides of the bucket. You can do it the day before if you'd like, it doesn't hurt. My sons setup is done in another tank in our basement ready to go most of the time up to a week before. But your setup is a ton smaller, so no reason to complicate it You do want to keep nitrates low, they are more sensitive to that than other fish, but not like crazy sensitive (like shrimp). Since plants wont grow great, water changes are your friend.

I am hoping some other medicine experts chime in for this question... What I use isn't what everyone else uses (or recommends). I believe levamisole is the "recommended". I personally use Paraguard or Prazipro (praziquantel). I do 1/4 dose for first few days, then increase to half the recommended dosage for the rest of two weeks. I also run temp up high (89 F) to kill off possible ich for a week (slowly increase to, let it sit there for a week, then slowly bring it back down to 79-81). I really play it based on the fish and making sure it never gets "inactive". If they seem to have sunken in bellies within 24 hours still at the end of that time, I will switch the medicine to the other and run another 2 weeks.

I only drip acclimate if things are extremely different (for example, the salinity, or the hardness, ph, etc). If they are close to the same parameters and temps, I flop and drop. If I don't know then I err on the side of caution and drip for 2-4 hours.

Also word of note - I try not to net puffers. I prefer to catch them in cups/containers. They aren't as spaz like as other fish, so thankfully its not too hard. If they are outside in the net and puff up with air, that can be deadly.
Sounds good! Im very excited! How much would you recommend feeding the puffers for like snails and bloodworms? Thank you so much for all the help

I wouldn’t do brackish because it can be trickier then salt, you need RODI water, you need to have salt, a powerhead to mix, all that and a refractometer, test kits
Im just looking into brackish. I know it will be more challenging but I have lots of time on my hands and I think it would be fun
 
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aquachris

I’d keep it fw and do a couple pea puffers, easier to keep and their teeth don’t grow
Thats a fair point too. Pea puffers are fun and great. However, I recommend a shoal of 6 in a 20 gallon long as minimum. Same general rules apply tho about deworming/etc.

Sounds good! Im very excited! How much would you recommend feeding the puffers for like snails and bloodworms? Thank you so much for all the help
Basically feed them till their belly is nice and round. You don't want to go to the point they look like they are going to pop. Lol. They don't stop on their own. Feed snails at least once a week.
 
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Megabeth

One more thing, do i NEED rodi for brackish or can I use my well water?
 
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Megabeth

Finally (lol) do i need to be cautious when doing water changes and stuff? Obviously, it depends on the fish but will they try to bit my hand or anything? This might be a dumb question but I've never had a puffer
 
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aquachris

Finally (lol) do i need to be cautious when doing water changes and stuff? Obviously, it depends on the fish but will they try to bit my hand or anything? This might be a dumb question but I've never had a puffer

I've not seen anyone with bites from the little ones... I have from some of the bigger puffers (fahaka, mbu, etc).
 
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Megabeth

I've not seen anyone with bites from the little ones... I have from some of the bigger puffers (fahaka, mbu, etc).
And I dont NEED RODI water right? I can just use well water
 
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aquachris

And I dont NEED RODI water right? I can just use well water
Depends on your water. I have well water and don't use rodi. It's up to you really.
 
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Megabeth

Depends on your water. I have well water and don't use rodi. It's up to you really.
Thank you so much for the help!
 
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wishuponafish

Don't fret too much about brackish, it's not as complicated as people might make it sound; it's pretty much the same as freshwater except you add salt. Tap/well water is okay as long as you don't have toxins or something in your water, and pre-mixing like saltwater is not necessary as long as you get most of it to dissolve in the end.
Figure 8s, like many brackish fish, are fairly tolerant of salinity fluctuations so the precision and stability that saltwater fish need isn't very important.

I recommend de-worming by dosing their food with any de-wormer or general cure, but you don't need to treat for ich (I'd recommend against it) because neither freshwater ich nor saltwater ich can survive in that salinity.

As for plants, some good ones for that salinity are water sprite, java fern, vallisneria, and susswassertang.
 
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Kribensis27

Water sprite and vallisneria both do great in brackish water, as mentioned above. I’m not sure about the other stuff, but I’ve heard Java fern and anubias are fine.
 
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Megabeth

Are there any tank mates i could add or would you just recommend just sticking to the puffer
 
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Kribensis27

Are there any tank mates i could add or would you just recommend just sticking to the puffer
Puffer tank mates typically have to be small, fast-moving, and hard to catch. I don’t know of any brackish fish that fit this category other than bumblebee gobies, although they spend a lot of time sitting still. It could be stressful for the gobies to always have to move away from a bigger fish. But, I don’t have a ton of brackish experience. Maybe somebody knows a better tankmate.
 
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wishuponafish

Are there any tank mates i could add or would you just recommend just sticking to the puffer
My brackish tank is a community with 2 f8s, a green spot puffer, sailfin mollies, golden wonder killies, bumblebee gobies, a dragon goby, and some inverts. Puffers do have different personalities so YMMV, but mine are peaceful with the tankmates for the most part except they used to nip the dragon goby's tail a little.
 
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Megabeth

My brackish tank is a community with 2 f8s, a green spot puffer, sailfin mollies, golden wonder killies, bumblebee gobies, a dragon goby, and some inverts. Puffers do have different personalities so YMMV, but mine are peaceful with the tankmates for the most part except they used to nip the dragon goby's tail a little.
Ooh what inverts can be in brackish?
 
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Megabeth

Are there any crabs that i can keep the puffer? I have a nerite in fw right now is there a way to climate him to brackish or would it be to stressful for them?
 
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wishuponafish

Are there any crabs that i can keep the puffer? I have a nerite in fw right now is there a way to climate him to brackish or would it be to stressful for them?
Red claw and fiddler crabs are the commonly sold species that can handle light brackish, I won't say it's impossible especially with a young puffer but you can find plenty of youtube videos of them ripping crabs apart limb from limb.

You can acclimate the nerite as you would a fish (put it in a bag and slowly add brackish water over an hour or few).
 
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Kribensis27

You could also drip acclimate the nerite if you want to be extra careful.
 
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