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Gobynose

Fish recommendations and a few technical questions

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Gobynose

Hi All,

 

I’m Starting to set up my first saltwater tank and I have a few questions. My tank is a 20gallon high and I’m hoping I can have it set and cycled with three snails and two peppermint shrimp by the end of May.  Then probably in August I’d want to start adding a fish or two, and ultimately I’d like to have two or three fish in total.  I like the look of many corals but can’t see myself starting to add those until at least a year from now. I’m purposely trying to go light on stocking. Is 3 snails, 2 (or three, see below) shrimp, and 2 or 3 fish actually a light load?  Here are my questions.

 

1) From what I've read, once the tank is cycled I should start by adding snails and then wait and make sure all parameters look good before adding shrimp. The rock I’m going to be using is cured already I’m told it won’t take long for the tank to cycle. Should I wait for it to cycle and wait for algae to appear before adding my snails? I’d like to have maybe 2 cerith and 1 nassarius. I’ve read that I can feed those guys (especially the nassarius) fish food or shrimp pellets as well. Does anybody know the feeding schedule for a snail only tank?

 

2) once the snails are squared away I’d like to add two peppermint shrimp (or I could do one at a time if that’s better). I’ve read that they are bolder as a pair and that they need on average five gallons each so in a 20 gallon it seems like two should be ok?  If my shrimp end up pairing up and spawning will their larvae die and be a problem since I won’t have any fish or filter feeders in the tank? Will the snails eat them? Should I only get one shrimp and then get the second much later after I have my first fish?

3) Live rock and glass. I’ve read that some people put their live rock on plastic “coasters” to avoid stress on the glass. Is this the best way to avoid the potential of breaks? When I was reading about deep sand beds some people say that they are risky in a nano reef because if you get a pocket of trapped nutrients nitrates could spike and your tank would die. Is there the same risk of having detritus collect under the the rocks between the plastic and the glass?  I’ve also heard people say that the grain size of sand can be enough to keep the rocks from getting to the glass. Can anybody say more about that?

 

4) Fish ideas. This is a long way off but it’s still fun to research and plan. I’ve fallen in love with shrimp gobies and their shrimp buddies but is it possible to have a yellow watchman and shrimp in a 20 gallon? The footprint is 2 ft by 1 ft though of course I’d have rock in there.  All of my favorite fish are gobies but it seems like it would not be a good idea to have 3 gobies in one tank even if they were all from different genera. Can anybody suggest fish suitable for a 20 gallon that would work with either a yellow watchman or a clown goby or a tiger goby (the one with thin black stripes, NOT a tiger watchman goby) or a neon blue cleaner goby? If I got a neon blue cleaner goby then it would be cool to also have a fish for it to clean. Does anybody have a recommendation for such a pairing that would fit in my tank?

 

5) can peppermint shrimp and a pistol shrimp share this small of a tank?

 

6) Orchid Dottybacks seem neat partly because I’ve read that they eat bristle worms. I don’t even have my live rock in my tank yet but I’ve read that bristle worms are common. Would an orchid dottyback be ok sharing the floor with a watchman? My guess is no?

 

7) i have been looking for a list of aquarium fish by niche (sandbed, rock dweller, open swimmer) and have not yet found such a thing. Does anybody know if one?

 

 

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Tamberav
27 minutes ago, Gobynose said:

Hi All,

 

I’m Starting to set up my first saltwater tank and I have a few questions. My tank is a 20gallon high and I’m hoping I can have it set and cycled with three snails and two peppermint shrimp by the end of May.  Then probably in August I’d want to start adding a fish or two, and ultimately I’d like to have two or three fish in total.  I like the look of many corals but can’t see myself starting to add those until at least a year from now. I’m purposely trying to go light on stocking. Is 3 snails, 2 (or three, see below) shrimp, and 2 or 3 fish actually a light load?  Here are my questions.

 

1) From what I've read, once the tank is cycled I should start by adding snails and then wait and make sure all parameters look good before adding shrimp. The rock I’m going to be using is cured already I’m told it won’t take long for the tank to cycle. Should I wait for it to cycle and wait for algae to appear before adding my snails? I’d like to have maybe 2 cerith and 1 nassarius. I’ve read that I can feed those guys (especially the nassarius) fish food or shrimp pellets as well. Does anybody know the feeding schedule for a snail only tank?

 

2) once the snails are squared away I’d like to add two peppermint shrimp (or I could do one at a time if that’s better). I’ve read that they are bolder as a pair and that they need on average five gallons each so in a 20 gallon it seems like two should be ok?  If my shrimp end up pairing up and spawning will their larvae die and be a problem since I won’t have any fish or filter feeders in the tank? Will the snails eat them? Should I only get one shrimp and then get the second much later after I have my first fish?

3) Live rock and glass. I’ve read that some people put their live rock on plastic “coasters” to avoid stress on the glass. Is this the best way to avoid the potential of breaks? When I was reading about deep sand beds some people say that they are risky in a nano reef because if you get a pocket of trapped nutrients nitrates could spike and your tank would die. Is there the same risk of having detritus collect under the the rocks between the plastic and the glass?  I’ve also heard people say that the grain size of sand can be enough to keep the rocks from getting to the glass. Can anybody say more about that?

 

4) Fish ideas. This is a long way off but it’s still fun to research and plan. I’ve fallen in love with shrimp gobies and their shrimp buddies but is it possible to have a yellow watchman and shrimp in a 20 gallon? The footprint is 2 ft by 1 ft though of course I’d have rock in there.  All of my favorite fish are gobies but it seems like it would not be a good idea to have 3 gobies in one tank even if they were all from different genera. Can anybody suggest fish suitable for a 20 gallon that would work with either a yellow watchman or a clown goby or a tiger goby (the one with thin black stripes, NOT a tiger watchman goby) or a neon blue cleaner goby? If I got a neon blue cleaner goby then it would be cool to also have a fish for it to clean. Does anybody have a recommendation for such a pairing that would fit in my tank?

 

5) can peppermint shrimp and a pistol shrimp share this small of a tank?

 

6) Orchid Dottybacks seem neat partly because I’ve read that they eat bristle worms. I don’t even have my live rock in my tank yet but I’ve read that bristle worms are common. Would an orchid dottyback be ok sharing the floor with a watchman? My guess is no?

 

7) i have been looking for a list of aquarium fish by niche (sandbed, rock dweller, open swimmer) and have not yet found such a thing. Does anybody know if one?

 

 

My orchid was pretty mean after a year so I would skip that one. Bristle worms are not bad anyways and gobies will eat the small ones if they see them wiggling.

 

No fish that the cleaner can clean fits in this size tank. They generally service large fish. They will try and clean smaller fish like clowns sometimes but most smaller fish won't let them and swim away...

 

You could mix some gobies...being it's a tall tank. A shrimp goby inhabitants the bottom but a clown or neon goby would prefer to sit up on the rocks. The key is to just not pick any overly aggressive gobies as some types can actually be little bruisers.

 

I would not do a deep sand bed and I never put anything under my rocks to protect the glass....even if it's bare bottom. I have never seen a tank shatter from rock sitting on it.

 

Peppermint shrimp sometimes annoy corals but it's okay to have two. Three (appropriate) fish is fine too.

 

If you like gobies you probably will also enjoy small combtooth blennies like the two spot blenny. Some blennies may bully small gobies so choose wisely.

 

You may end up needing more snails at some point depending how much algae grows.

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Tired

Bristleworms are harmless detritivores. They're not a concern. 

 

Cleaner gobies only clean larger fish like tangs, at least successfully. Smaller things get annoyed. Cleaner SHRIMP work, but might not get on well with your peppermints. You could get a cleaner shrimp, or cleaner shrimp pair, instead. Any shrimp spawning won't be an issue- there aren't that many babies. They won't survive, but it'd be the equivalent of throwing an extra pinch of mysis in, if that. It's fine. Plus they probably won't spawn anyway.

 

Yellow watchman and shrimp should be fine, yes. They're generally fine with most other fish. Don't do a deep sandbed, these guys don't need it. 1" of sand should be fine. Throw a few handfuls of small shells or shell shards (ranging from half an inch to an inch, maybe a few larger pieces) around your rockwork, and your pistol shrimp will use those. I'd suggest a tiger pistol shrimp for a yellow watchman, but do avoid putting any small coral frags on the sandbed, he'll steal them.

 

In a 20gal, two or three small fish should be fine. At least two of your fish should probably be 2" or less long, 3" if it's a long, thin fish like a firefish or goby. You could do a watchman goby and a pair of clowns. Small, less aggressive damsels like the yellowtail (NOT yellowbelly devil) are another possibility, or royal gramma (like an orchid dottyback but a bit less mean), or firefish, are other possibilities. Clown goby could also work, or small blennies. 

 

You're going to need a couple more ceriths than that. Ceriths eat the algae and need no feeding, nassarius will need a small amount of food every couple days when you don't have any fish. When you do have fish, the nassarius will eat the bits of leftover food. Wait to add snails until you see a decent bit of algae. 

 

What's your live rock like? Is it visibly crawling with life, or is it just wet rock? It may not be very bacteria-rich if it's not visibly covered in life. 

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Gobynose

Thanks for the information! My live rock will be coming from Petco and it’s in tanks with fish/clean up crews/corals but it’s not covered in organisms that I can see. I really want it for the bacteria and I’m fine with not getting lots of hitchhikers since my tank is small and I want to chose what goes in to take up space.  My plan is to mix up my salt water this weekend and time that so I can have it mixing for 24 hours and then still pick up my rock this weekend. 


I’m happy to put in more snails than the number I had listed. I just said three to start because I don’t want to put in so many that they eat all the algae quickly and then starve before more can grow.
 

Since the rock (and likely snails and shrimp) are coming from tanks with fish, my assumption is that I can follow the 76 day rule and as long as I wait 76 days from the day that the last invertebrate goes in to add fish, I should have a fish disease free tank?

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Tired

Petco live rock is pretty lousy. It may not even bring in a good amount of bacteria. I've also heard of people buying it and finding out it's cement or something of the sort, not even real porous rock. Do you have any other options? 

 

Wait to add snails until you have algae, and they shouldn't starve. 

 

The chance of an invertebrate bringing in a fish disease is extremely low. I wouldn't worry about them. The rock, sure. And don't add water from the retailer's tanks. But snails, I'm not sure would be an issue.

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Clown79
11 hours ago, Gobynose said:

Thanks for the information! My live rock will be coming from Petco and it’s in tanks with fish/clean up crews/corals but it’s not covered in organisms that I can see. I really want it for the bacteria and I’m fine with not getting lots of hitchhikers since my tank is small and I want to chose what goes in to take up space.  My plan is to mix up my salt water this weekend and time that so I can have it mixing for 24 hours and then still pick up my rock this weekend. 


I’m happy to put in more snails than the number I had listed. I just said three to start because I don’t want to put in so many that they eat all the algae quickly and then starve before more can grow.
 

Since the rock (and likely snails and shrimp) are coming from tanks with fish, my assumption is that I can follow the 76 day rule and as long as I wait 76 days from the day that the last invertebrate goes in to add fish, I should have a fish disease free tank?

If you are adding established liverock you shouldn't have a cycle unless you allow the rock to dry out.

 

A small spike may occur but otherwise with established liverock, a full cycle is not common. Adding biospira can help.

 

I would add snails once you need them, when algae starts or they will starve and die.  Theres no definitive amount of snails per tank, add as you need them rather than a certain amount.

 

As for disease, the main way to prevent it is by quarantining the fish for 4 weeks in a separate tank before adding them to your main tank

 

fish are the most common cause for disease being added to a tank. When you add a fish that has a disease, it's far more work then qt'ing them from purchase.

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mcarroll
On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

1) From what I've read, once the tank is cycled I should start by adding snails and then wait

That's a great plan.  Start small, move slowly.   

 

The point is to allow the tanks's biology to keep pace with the increasing nutrient levels.   Move too fast an you cause an algae bloom and give all the nutrients to them.

 

On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

2) once the snails are squared away I’d like to add two peppermint shrimp

Should be fine.  Keep feedings really minimal, but you WILL have to feed them.

 

On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

3) Live rock and glass. I’ve read that some people put their live rock on plastic “coasters” to avoid stress on the glass.

Totally extra/unnecessary.   Folks placed the rock right on the glass on purpose for decades.  Most of us still do.

 

On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

4) Fish ideas.

Seems like you have good ideas already -- and plenty of time to research for new ideas that may change your mind!  😁

 

On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

5) can peppermint shrimp and a pistol shrimp share this small of a tank?

Adequate food and shelter are always the two important things to assure.  If they have it, more than likely they will be happy.   Most animals get somewhat murderous when they starve, so that's something to keep in mind.  😉

 

On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

6) Orchid Dottybacks seem neat partly because I’ve read that they eat bristle worms.

A) Bristleworms will be one of your greatest allies in this tank.

B) I'd worry about a Dottyback and your shrimp...and maybe your other fish too, although the captive bred Orchid's are reputed to be "nicer".

 

On 2/11/2020 at 5:25 PM, Gobynose said:

7) i have been looking for a list of aquarium fish by niche (sandbed, rock dweller, open swimmer)

Scott Michaels book "Marine Fishes" would be a great book to have that includes that kind of information.   Highly recommended.

 

Check out this thread for more good reading ideas:

Chime in with your reef-oriented reading list!

 

On 2/12/2020 at 6:23 AM, Gobynose said:

I really want it for the bacteria and I’m fine with not getting lots of hitchhikers since my tank is small and I want to chose what goes in to take up space.

This is a common misconception.....the bacteria are actually trivial to acquire and add at any time -- in fact they're mostly omnipresent in the environment, so you'd be hard-pressed to keep them off the rock or out of the tank.

 

It's the hitchhikers that are so valuable and MUCH HARDER to come by -- usually impossible outside the ocean!!

 

And we're not generally talking about macroscopic animals that we can see such as bristleworms. 

 

We're talking about the huge range of microbial life that makes "live rock" live.

 

On 2/12/2020 at 6:23 AM, Gobynose said:

I’m happy to put in more snails than the number I had listed. I just said three to start because I don’t want to put in so many that they eat all the algae quickly and then starve before more can grow.

Just make sure there's algae growing first and that adding snails is all you do about it and you'll be fine.  👍

 

Don't over-clean the tank.  But don't add snails very fast....only add a few at a time so you can tell when you get to just the right number.

 

On 2/12/2020 at 6:23 AM, Gobynose said:

Since the rock (and likely snails and shrimp) are coming from tanks with fish, my assumption is that I can follow the 76 day rule and as long as I wait 76 days from the day that the last invertebrate goes in to add fish, I should have a fish disease free tank?

LOL.  If only it were that simple.

 

That's a good start though....it should take you at least that long to be ready for fish anyway.

 

If you're planning to bring in questionable fish you'll need a more complete plan than just setting up this tank and waiting 76 days.

 

I'd really suggest reading either or both of Martin Moe's books before or while you start up this tank.....LOTS of basics in there that are missing from most online info.  (They are both linked on that reading suggestion thread above.)

 

QT Is Hard To Do Correctly

If you decide to run a quarantine tank on your own, consider the problems that you see folks routinely have with the standard QT tank setup that you see around pretty much everywhere. 

 

Do yours differently with the goal to avoid as many of those common problems as you can.   

 

Use at least a little live rock and plenty of fake plants for cover.  It should be set up like a very basic, but essentially capable fish tank. 

 

Running micron filtration and UV (or a large-sized integrated UV filter) would be wise. 

 

Be prepared to feed high quality frozen foods, and to persistently keep the tank free of leftover food and poops. 

 

The fish will ultimately be far better off in the display tank with live rock, but you have to balance the urgency of getting them in there with your perceived risk from introducing a random parasite or other infection they may have.

 

QT isn't very foolproof, BTW, and can even do more harm that good if done incorrectly, so make no assumptions about what it will or won't do for you -- make sure you understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. 

 

There are a lot of things you need to watch for in QT...most of them have to do with behavior related to fish health.  But you also need to be able to notice signs of MANY different possible disease organisms.  Ecto-parasites are the most common (hence the filtration) but not the only possible thing to encounter.

 

Spend A LOT of time watching your fish before you even buy them if at all possible.  Be familiar with them before you even bring them home.  (Obviously do the same after you buy them too!!) 

 

Forgoing the option of watching them before purchase (for a few weeks if possible) puts you at a HUGE disadvantage in selecting a healthy fish in the first place.  There's no substitute for what you can gain by spending time watching -- it literally gives you experience.   That experience allows you to notice potentially important changes in your fish's behavior -- good or bad.

 

 

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Gobynose

Thanks for all the advice! I’ll look up those books for sure!  I’ve been doing more reading since I wrote my first post and right now I think my ultimate plan is to take the next few months to a year to add: 

 

1) a pair of green banded gobies

2) 1 or 2 nassarius, cerith, and trochus snails each depending on need.

3) 2 peppermint shrimp


Once I know I can take care of those start looking at corals 

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