Question Tank Requirements For Clowns?

Gavin Trzcinski

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Hello everyone! Today I want to the LFS to pick up some supplies and saw some clown fish and my mom and I fell in love with them. I was wondering what the requirements are to keep one or two and how much harder it is to keep saltwater than freshwater. Thanks in advance!
 

Alessandra525

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I can't wait to have my first saltwater, and I'm now running two freshwater to learn the basics.

There are people who will suggest that freshwater is not a necessary step, but I didn't feel ready to enter into the marine world completely unequipped.

I've learnt so many things and done so many mistakes already that I doubt any marine fish would have survived (if you also add the potential mistakes related to salt, rodi water, sicknesses, etc).

Honestly, I think I'll give it at least another year before starting an easy saltwater setup. In the meantime, I'm reading so much and learning a lot to be able to one day start my saltwater system
 

thesoulpatch

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Jesterrace

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Saltwater is much harder than freshwater. You basically have to master fishkeeping to keep saltwater fish.
Spoken like a true freshie with zero saltwater experience. Saltwater has varying degrees of difficulty just like freshwater (ie keeping a planted tank vs non-planted, Bettas vs Discus, etc.). A person can easily setup a 20 gallon LONG FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) that can house a pair of occ or percula clownfish and a couple of other smaller brightly colored fish that isn't that much more difficult than a comparable sized freshwater tank. When you add corals and other more complex things to the tank it's where the cost goes up or gets more difficult.

Among the additional equipment needed for a 20 Long FOWLR vs freshwater

20lbs of live rock or dry rock to be seeded with bacteria
A Powerhead/Wavemaker to simulate underwater currents
An RODI system or source of RODI water (LFS often have RODI or RODI/Saltwater pre-mix for sale)
Something like instant ocean salt, if you mix your own
A Refractometer to measure salinity levels and top up with fresh RODI water as evaporation occurs (remember water evaporates but salt doesn't)
 

stella1979

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Agreed with Jester. Saltwater tanks can be as easy or as hard as you please, and as far as costs go... well, I haven't really kept total track of the reef tank, and corals, as well as the lighting they require, are expensive, but corals are not necessary. Plus, if you wanted to, you could start a clown tank, then later on it can easily be upgraded to a reef tank. One more thing about expenses... I spent more than I'll admit on a betta tank. That's because I wanted a dreamy betta cube, and knew what I was getting myself into. So, like anything, it'll cost as much as you make it cost.

However, any build is going to cost something, and Jester has given you a great list to go off of. I would only add substrate and a heater to it, but perhaps that's pretty obvious, lol. Additionally, I would add a large HOB, specifically, an Aquaclear 70. They're pretty good as they come, but the best thing is that they are easily modified to suit specific needs. Not to get ahead of things here, and you may not even need this for a FOWLR, but I run an AC70 with mechanical, bio, and chemical media, in addition to it being modified to work as a refugium. A refugium is simply a place to grow macroalgae, (usually chaetomorpha), which used nitrates for its growth and thus, is a form of nutrient reduction. In other words, the chaeto keeps nitrates low between water changes.

As far as difficulty is concerned, well, once you're up and running, it's really not that different from freshwater. My little reef is a 20g closed system, meaning there is no outside plumbing or a sump on the tank. Like Jester said, water evaporates, but salt does not. For over a year, I manually added RODI to the tank daily, and this kept salinity in line. Lucky me, the hubs built an automatic topoff unit, and that handles things these days. Outside of topping off and feeding the fish, testing and water changes are done weekly, and that keeps things running smooth.
 

Jesterrace

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There is a guide here for a 20 Long FOWLR to be ready for fish in the $362-$415 range. That includes all accessories and building the tank with all mechanical equipment, rock, sand, etc.

 

Jesterrace

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I can't wait to have my first saltwater, and I'm now running two freshwater to learn the basics.

There are people who will suggest that freshwater is not a necessary step, but I didn't feel ready to enter into the marine world completely unequipped.

I've learnt so many things and done so many mistakes already that I doubt any marine fish would have survived (if you also add the potential mistakes related to salt, rodi water, sicknesses, etc).

Honestly, I think I'll give it at least another year before starting an easy saltwater setup. In the meantime, I'm reading so much and learning a lot to be able to one day start my saltwater system
It is true that Freshwater is generally cheaper and more forgiving, but be aware it does also teach you some bad habits that don't transfer well to saltwater. You are doing it the right way though and taking your time to research it. Probably the most irritating thing is the misconception that simply because a person has X number of years of freshwater experience, that they are ready to jump right into saltwater. I recommend the research, research, research route for those going directly to saltwater and those who have prior freshwater experience. While it's true you will learn some basic principles (ie nitrogen cycle, water changing and basic fish care), I can't tell you how many people I have seen coming over from freshwater who try and set up a salt tank like a freshwater tank (ie gravel, goofy decorations, fake plants, bubblers/air stones and simply add saltwater) and are completely oblivious to the function of live rock (or dry rock seeded with bacteria) and then wonder why their tank is crashing or won't cycle properly. Hence the reason I recommend looking at this among other things:

 

Alessandra525

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It is true that Freshwater is generally cheaper and more forgiving, but be aware it does also teach you some bad habits that don't transfer well to saltwater. You are doing it the right way though and taking your time to research it. Probably the most irritating thing is the misconception that simply because a person has X number of years of freshwater experience, that they are ready to jump right into saltwater. I recommend the research, research, research route for those going directly to saltwater and those who have prior freshwater experience. While it's true you will learn some basic principles (ie nitrogen cycle, water changing and basic fish care), I can't tell you how many people I have seen coming over from freshwater who try and set up a salt tank like a freshwater tank (ie gravel, goofy decorations, fake plants, bubblers/air stones and simply add saltwater) and are completely oblivious to the function of live rock (or dry rock seeded with bacteria) and then wonder why their tank is crashing or won't cycle properly. Hence the reason I recommend looking at this among other things:

Thanks for the video and the advice.

I somewhat disagree with the term 'bad habits'. Those are things which work in fresh but not in salt. A bad habit is not doing the appropriate research to check if those things apply to saltwater as well. To an extreme example, you don't need to run a freshwater acquarium to be able to refurbish a kitchen, and if you put gravel, air pump and fake plants in your kitchen because you're learning from your freshwater experience you don't have "bad habits", you're an idiot. The fact that freshwater and saltwater are both containing fish should really not make people assume that they are similar systems.

On the other hand, after my whole 3 months of freshwater experience (sarcasm intended there - as I'm no expert whatsoever) I think that behind the "start with freshwater before going to saltwater" myth there is a deeper motivation than the (wrong) assumption that everything you learn is applicable. In particular

1) you discover first hand whether you have the patience and the discipline to test water/Do water changes/observe your fish for unusual behaviour.

2) you start with needing to worry only about 3 parameters (For an easy setup)

3) you are able to do a more accurate assessment of the space needed (which is way more than the tank volume - to my great disappointment)

4) you develop a sensitivity for problems like overstocking, compatibility, tank cleaning, variety in diet.

5) the procedures become slowly part of your daily routine and are not too many to be overwhelming.

6) you learn how to do the appropriate research. You even learn what to ask Google and how to!!

I agree that if a person does the appropriate research and slowly and meticulously learns everything at the dry stage, then they can start with whatever they want and their chance of success with salt is exactly the same as with fresh. On the other hand, in a lot of cases, there is not such prior research and what you have is a generic "yeah, let's get a pet, dogs need too much care so let's have a fish. Oh, look that couple of yellow tangs! And a Dori!! They seem happy and easy to care for. I mean, they are in a tank with only water, some salt and no decor, I can do that. And I have a bowl. And my kitchen salt is going out of date, so might just as well use it for them. Win win.". A safe (and certainly more rapid) answer to most people is "start with fresh". That will be less expensive, more forgiving and at the very least, will teach them that a fish can not be put in a bowl and forgotten.

My 2 cents.
 

glisterr

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Short answer: 10 and 15 gallon tanks seem to be fine. Long answer: Around the level of 10 or 15 or up seem to work fine to 1-2 clownfish in my opinion. I actually have two right now in my 16 gal tank and they seem to be happy as can be. But don't get more than just two in such a small tank. You will need a bigger tank for more than two.

I'm just warning you that if you get two make sure they are different sizes. Because they will fight each other to try to be come the dominant clownfish.
But if they are different sizes the little one will just basically submit to the bigger one. That's basically all you need to know.

Remember if you plan to get a saltwater tank you may need to do a lot of your own research.
Good luck.
 

Jesterrace

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Thanks for the video and the advice.

I somewhat disagree with the term 'bad habits'. Those are things which work in fresh but not in salt. A bad habit is not doing the appropriate research to check if those things apply to saltwater as well. To an extreme example, you don't need to run a freshwater acquarium to be able to refurbish a kitchen, and if you put gravel, air pump and fake plants in your kitchen because you're learning from your freshwater experience you don't have "bad habits", you're an idiot. The fact that freshwater and saltwater are both containing fish should really not make people assume that they are similar systems.

On the other hand, after my whole 3 months of freshwater experience (sarcasm intended there - as I'm no expert whatsoever) I think that behind the "start with freshwater before going to saltwater" myth there is a deeper motivation than the (wrong) assumption that everything you learn is applicable. In particular

1) you discover first hand whether you have the patience and the discipline to test water/Do water changes/observe your fish for unusual behaviour.

2) you start with needing to worry only about 3 parameters (For an easy setup)

3) you are able to do a more accurate assessment of the space needed (which is way more than the tank volume - to my great disappointment)

4) you develop a sensitivity for problems like overstocking, compatibility, tank cleaning, variety in diet.

5) the procedures become slowly part of your daily routine and are not too many to be overwhelming.

6) you learn how to do the appropriate research. You even learn what to ask Google and how to!!

I agree that if a person does the appropriate research and slowly and meticulously learns everything at the dry stage, then they can start with whatever they want and their chance of success with salt is exactly the same as with fresh. On the other hand, in a lot of cases, there is not such prior research and what you have is a generic "yeah, let's get a pet, dogs need too much care so let's have a fish. Oh, look that couple of yellow tangs! And a Dori!! They seem happy and easy to care for. I mean, they are in a tank with only water, some salt and no decor, I can do that. And I have a bowl. And my kitchen salt is going out of date, so might just as well use it for them. Win win.". A safe (and certainly more rapid) answer to most people is "start with fresh". That will be less expensive, more forgiving and at the very least, will teach them that a fish can not be put in a bowl and forgotten.

My 2 cents.
I would say that was a well thought and well informed post, I used the term bad habits simply because the people approached saltwater from a freshwater mentality, hence the term. I'm actually someone who started with salt with a 36 gallon bowfront and then went to a 90 gallon salty with a 29 gallon sump. After this I actually setup a 10 gallon freshwater tank in my office at work. So I had nearly a year of saltwater experience between two much larger salty tanks before I ever touched even a small freshwater tank. I did make a couple of mistakes, but none of them would've been avoided had I gone with freshwater first, they were simply "cutting teeth" mistakes that had to be learned on the salty side. Either way, because I researched the heck out of the saltwater side first, I didn't make the mistakes mentioned in the "bad habits video" which some folks with years of freshwater experience did. Seriously though if you spend enough time on the forums, facebook groups, etc., you will see the mistakes mentioned in the video come up more than just a few times.
 
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