New Fish & Tank Parameters! Advice Needed


HI all,

I am very new to salt water tanks. I have a 5 gallon that has about 2.5 lbs of liverock in it, as well as matrix biofiltration rocks and chemipure blue for nano tanks. The tank currently has two blue leg hermit crabs and I recently added a clown fish to the tank on Friday. So far, my fishy is doing really well aside from not eating much.
Due to him not eating the pellets I have dropped and needing to try and feed him again, I am really worried about an ammonia spike or something occurring.

So I was wondering, how often should I be checking my ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to make sure he is safe? Also, should I be siphoning out the food he doesn’t eat every day to prevent a spike? And should I be concerned he isn’t eating much?

Thank you so much in advance!

Collin Chorba

Fish can survive without food for a long time, I’m more worried about how the clown fish will outgrow that tank fairly quickly if my knowledge is correct, in terms of water parameters, depends on how long the tank has been set up for, a tank that small is difficult to keep steady. I’m not very experienced with saltwater but I’m sure you could find a stocking more fitting for a 5 gallon

Also if he doesn’t eat within a week, try frozen foods and if he won’t eat that try live
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Live rock should go a long way to cycling your tank, but it is not a lot of live rock compared to the bioload, so I would keep a very close eye on the cycle for the first few weeks. I'd probably test daily and have Prime onhand in case of low ammonia or nitrite levels and new water readily available for a change in case of a large spike.

I would absolutely switch away from pellet foods in this tank. You are working with a small water volume, a pico tank really, and pellet food is absolutely packed with nutrients. The high nutrient level only leads to more organic waste breaking down in the tank, so pellets significantly add to the bioload. I would switch to frozen only and feed only what the fish will eat. Using long fine-tipped tweezer/tongs allows you to feed one piece of food at a time, and if the fish won't eat it, you shouldn't add more.

Clowns need the bulk of their diets to be protein, but also need green stuff too. For this reason, I'd recommend getting mysis shrimp that are gut-loaded with Spirulina... or just pick up the San Fransisco Bay Brand Saltwater Multipack, which is readily available at places like Petco and offers a variety of foods allowing you to mix things up. A varied diet is best for most fish.

It is completely normal for a fish to not eat for the first few days, but then again, clowns are piggies. I highly suggest getting the frozen food and feeding lightly and carefully, but if he doesn't begin eating in the next week, it will be time to worry. Feeding only what the fish will eat every other day will be quite enough to keep him well fed. For now, I'd suggest you remove any pellets the fish hasn't eaten, as they will only add to 'dirtying up' the new tank. A dedicated turkey baster is a very handy tool for the tank.

I'm sorry to say it, but I agree that a clown in a 5 gallon may be quite difficult in the long run, particularly for a beginner. The clown is the mascot for our hobby, and I understand wanting one, as I felt the same and have that clown now. What concerns me is avoiding ammonia spikes keeping nutrients like nitrates and phosphates low enough that you won't have an algae garden in the coming months. More concerning imo is the level of activity in a healthy clown. Personally, I wouldn't put one in less than a 20g, but I'm not hatin' and I've seen what appeared to be a successful 5 gallon or two with a clown. I just don't know how well it works out over time and tend to think that cramped quarters might lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and lowered immunity... meaning I'd be afraid the fish would be more susceptible to illness. If you can, I'd really suggest rehoming/returning him and looking into a smaller, less active, and lighter bioload fish. Perhaps a neon goby or a possum wrasse.
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