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My IM20: Who needs friends when you can have Anemones?


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My IM20: Who needs friends when you can have Anemones?


I started my saltwater aquarium in June 2011 with a thirty gallon breeder and equipment that I bought second hand from a Kijiji advertisement. I have made a lot of mistakes over the years; the largest one has been allowing apathy takeover the maintenance of the system.

In the fall of 2016, I decided that once my YWG passed on I was going to downsize my aquarium to either an IM10 or IM20 and dedicate it to the only thing really thriving in the aquarium – bubble tip anemones. People will tell you that BTAs need pristine water and no fluctuations in various levels to survive. Empirical evidence suggests that it isn’t necessarily true since my BTAs are thriving where other coral have not with nearly no water changes or testing.

In regards to levels, I can’t tell you any specifics other than I always mixed my new water at a temperature of 26’C and to a specific gravity of 1.025. All of my test kits had expired even by fall of 2016 which might make you infer to the frequency their use. In setting up my new tank, I am using Seachem’s Ammonia Alert device, but eventually, I had to go buy an Ammonia test kit too.

Sometime in January, I noticed that my YWG was no longer coming out during feeding time. He usually greeted me when I would walk up the aquarium. His face wore a grumpy scowl often mirroring my own which is something I always found endearing.

After a few weeks of not seeing him at all, I figured he had passed on. It wasn’t a fantastic feeling realising he was gone, but I know he was an old fish. He was three inches when I acquired him so nearly grown then. He was my first saltwater fish and I had him since July 2011. I believe that is a fairly long time for that species.

I ordered an IM10 and when it arrived, I got about getting it cycled. I had decided to use dry rock in this system again so I started out dosing ammonium chloride and MicroBacter7. When I was setting up the thirty gallon breeder, I ordered fifty pounds of Marco Rock from BRS. I wanted variety and since I live in Canada, I didn’t want to order twice. This left me with a lot of leftover rock sitting in a tote someplace in the basement. For this project, I ended up breaking up a bunch of the larger pieces to get a pile of rock that I was still not overly impressed with. Unfortunately, it is pretty hard if not impossible to get pukani reef rock here so I am just going with what I have. I really like the look of the rock in RockRynos tank as well.

This thread is about my IM20, so why am I talking about the IM10? Well, I started the cycling process with the IM10 on the 1st of February but when I began toying with the aquascape; I realised the aquarium wasn’t going to be big enough for two clownfish and about twenty-four-ish anemones. Additionally, I came to the realisation that I don’t care for cube shaped aquariums.

I decided to order the IM20 about a week later. I left the IM10 running thinking that the sand and water can still keep growing bacteria in the mean time. On the 25th of February, I transferred the sand and water from the IM10 to the IM20 and topped it up with saltwater. During this time I kept up with dosing MicroBacter7 and ammonium chloride to build up the bacteria in the sand and water. I also moved the filter floss from the IM10 to the IM20 for this purpose.

Starting on the 13th of March, I began to add Seachem Stability as well. I am not sure if the tank was nearly cycled or that Stability works really well but by the 17th of March, ammonia was being processed very quickly.  And by the 19th of March the tank was completely cycled.

I had been soaking the Marco Rock that I planned to use in RODI water. I changed the water often thinking it would help leach out any Nitrates or Phosphates in the rock. On the 23rd of March I added the rock I plan to use in order for it to establish a bacterial film.

This tank is going to focus primarily on symbiotic relationships with anemones but I will be keeping a few corals from my current setup. I am aware that the general theme and stocking list are not going to be accurate in terms of species which cohabitate in the wild. I had considered a biotope of the specific region where my BTAs would have been collected from but I have since passed on that idea.

I am also considering expanding the fish selection to include a goby/pistol pair or a blenny. I have some barnacles that bought a few years ago which I could mount to the back wall. In that case, I would look for a small blenny that would occupy them. I will need to add more sand for the goby/pistol pair though.

As for the corals, I have made a list below. I’m guessing on the Gorgonian identification but I am pretty confident that one is a purple brush gorgonian.


Innovative Marine Fusion Nano 20
Innovative Marine Custom Caddy Fusion 20 (x2)
Innovative Marine FishGuard (x2)
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm 50W heater (sized for the IM10... so we shall see about this)
Ink Bird ITC-308C temperature controller with removable probe

CaribSea Arag-Alive Special Grade Reef Sand – 10 lb
Marco Rock – some amount

AquaForest Reef Salt

Salifert NH3 ammonia test kit
Seachem Ammonia Alert badge

Dr. Tims Ammonium Chloride
Brightwell MicroBacter7
Seachem Stability


Amphiprion ocellaris (captive bread) – QTY 2 (a male and female pair)


Entacmaea quadricolor (All green with purple tips) – QTY 22+
Entacmaea quadricolor (Green and indigo base, red tentacles with orange-yellow tips) – QTY 6
Entacmaea quadricolor (Neon green base with white stripes, orange-yellow tentacles and with purple tips) – QTY 1


Tubastraea micrantha (Black Sun Coral – NPS)
Pseudopterogorgia Sp. (Purple Willow Gorgonian)?
Muriceopsis flavida (Purple Brush Gorgonian)?
Favia Sp. (Christmas Favia)





Future stocking possibilities:

Ancylomenes pedersoni (Pederson Cleaner Shrimp)
Anclyomenes venustus (Venus Anemone shrimp)
Periclimenes brevicarpalis (White Spot Anemone Shrimp)

Neopetrolisthes ohshimai (Porcelain Anemone Crab)

Pistol/goby pair or small blenny

It is my hope that with twenty-five plus anemones, the clownfish won’t push the shrimp or crabs out. The female is quite aggressive so this will be a possibility; in that case, I will be sure to have some caves available.

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