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Justincl

After having some freshwater aquariums, I want to start a small reef tank.

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Justincl

I have kept freshwater fish for awhile now, and I would like to start a nano reef tank with basic corals and live rock along with my hopeful stocking of a yellow watchmen goby, a tiger pistol shrimp, one or so fire cleaner shrimp, 2 ocellaris clownfish, and an anemone such as the bubble tip for the clownfish. Is this a good/realistic goal for a beginner to all this? 

 

Any general suggestions and advice about these stocking choices would be appreciated, but I am not looking yet for advice related to hardware and equipment. Thank you everyone in advance!

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Tired

Bubble tip anemones are not for beginners. They need a very well established tank to thrive. I would look into alternate things for the clownfish to host, or go without- they don't need an anemone. Also, bubble tips don't really belong in nano tanks unless you want the anemone and anemone-proof things to be the only animals in the tank. Xenia (isolated on its own rock) may be a viable substitute? Look at what people's clownfish host, without annoying the coral too much.

 

For the rest, absolutely. That's three small fish, a cleaner shrimp, and a pistol shrimp. I would say you want a tank of maybe 20 gallons? That would nicely fit all of those, without being quite fully stocked. It's a good beginner size. 30 gallons would be nice and give you some room to add more fish, but is definitely bigger. 

 

You should only get one cleaner shrimp, unless you can find a mated pair, or they'll fight. No other species of cleaner shrimp. The pistol will be fine because it lives under the rocks and is not a cleaner shrimp.

 

Start with live rock, if at all possible. Good ocean live rock, not just something left in a bin to grow bacteria. 

 

Set your rock directly on the bottom of the tank, don't rest it on the sandbed. Have an inch of sand, at most, the shrimp doesn't need much. Break some clam or oyster shells up with a hammer until you have an assortment of pieces, and scatter those around your rockwork for the pistol shrimp to use in its digging and shoring. They like that. 

 

Add the goby first. The clownfish are a bit aggressive, so should be added last. If you wanted one more small fish, you could do a clown goby, they're very cute and have minimal bioload. 

 

Check out ReefCleaners.com for ideas of what to stock as cleanup crew. You want mostly snails. Hermit crabs are mostly decorative. Get scarlet reef hermits if possible, they're more peaceful, and make sure you have lots of empty shells for them to move into. 

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paulsz

From what I've heard, two clownfish that pair will end up being aggressive towards other fish. And so in a nano tank (depending how small you plan to go), that might me and issue If you add other inhabitants. Would you consider one clown?

How small were you planning on going?

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Tired

A clown pair can usually work in a smaller tank, if the other fish you want is a watchman goby. The watchman lives under the rocks, so the clowns can't bother him, and they'll generally leave him alone anyway. Especially if you add the clowns last to help reduce their aggression. A single clown isn't guaranteed to be much less aggressive, anway- clownfish are damsels. 

 

Make sure you get ocellaris clownfish, by the way. "Nemo" clowns. You can mix and match the different color morphs as you like, they don't care. 

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Justincl

Thank you for the awesome reply tired! I was thinking about going for 29 or 30 gallons as that seems to be large enough to not be difficult to keep stable but small enough to keep costs and maintenance mostly manageable. I would really like to have 2 clowns if this is possible. Tired, you said possibly adding more fish than just those 3? If so, what do you recommend?

 

And I suppose I'll stay away from anemones for now unless there's one for the clownfish to host that you would recommend to beginners or adding after the tank has been set up a bit. I do know they aren't necessary but I like the idea of clownfish having one. 

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Justincl

And yeah, ocellaris clowns are the plan and I'll likely just go for whatever the basic color is, the one that nemo looks like persay. 

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Justincl

Oh, and I also want to have some small snails that won't be bothered by anything but that's not something I'm too concerned about. 

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Tired

Yep, that's standard. Most tanks have snails. About the only things that will eat them are pufferfish. You should get an assortment of snails to deal with an assortment of algae. The periwinkles at ReefCleaners are a personal favorite, pretty lil guys. 

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Justincl

Awesome. Thanks a bunch for the help, now I'll dive deeper into research on the equipment needed etc knowing that what I want can realistically work for me 🙂

 

Sad about no anemone though. No chance of adding one once the tank is established or anything like that?

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Tired

A happy bubble tip anemone gets very large, over a foot across, and will split into more anemones. Give it a few years of being happy, and it'll fill up a tank that size. I would worry about it stinging your cleaner shrimp and goby, and it would mean you couldn't really keep other corals. You might be able to contain it to half of the tank in a 30gal or so? But even then, it would be a lot of anemone. 

 

If you want an anemone, try rock flower anemones. Clownfish sometimes host them. Rock flower anemones get 5-6" across at most (though exceptional ones can get a bit larger, if given a long time), and don't split into more anemones, so they do fine in smaller tanks. They still need a mature tank, though. Again, you'd want the tank to be at least 6 months old.

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Justincl

Good to know! Assuming those are okay with other corals and fine for beginners, I'll look into those once my tank has been going for a good while. Those do look gorgeous! 

 

Ty for telling me clownfish are fine without anemones, I was worried they needed one to really thrive. 

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Tired

Clownfish will often pick something anemone-like to host if they have the option, but don't necessarily need one. They'll sometimes ignore proper anemones, even, especially if something else that they like (a powerhead, some macroalgae, some xenia, a mushroom coral, they pick all sorts of things) is in the tank. You'll get captive-bred clowns anyway, those are what are for sale, and they're generations out from the wild. They may have lost some of that draw to an anemone. 

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Ksull72487

Your going to get mixed advice. I actually started with Nano Reefs. Lol. My tanks got bigger. 12-14 gallons is a minimum. I wouldn’t do less. Did one out of a Fluval Edge at 6 gallons once. It was fun but too much work. 
 

I’d start with a BioCube or Fluval Evo 13.5. The Fluval is going to be the cheapest option to get started with. Use Live sand and cured rock to cycle faster. About 10-12 pounds of each. You could also use Ocean water to get used to things. Do a lot of research before you dive in. I generally do fish first. 2 clowns the smaller the better is the way to go. Then start adding corals when you keep things in check. Some people do fish last. I do them first generally so I can figure out feeding etc. In a Nano you can’t over feed not even a little. So getting them used to it I prefer. Corals are expensive and if you have a swing in the tank you risk the corals. The clowns are hardy. So I would go fish first. The watchman goby Id add last or after you got some corals etc. Takes a while to get an eco system going. I wouldn’t add much in the beginning. A 30 gallon is best but I’ve done that type of setup in a 14 no issues. The stock filtration sucks on both of those tanks. Get a media basket. As long as you take your time and learn I don’t see much of an issue.

 

As for the clowns go captive bred. 2 clowns in a Nano work well. Those guys are extremely hardy and they usually don’t use much space but they do grow. I always say get the smaller fish .5mm pellets or 1mm pellets lol. 
 

Stay away from anemone. Clowns don’t need it theyll host other corals too. Sometimes. With an anemone it’s extra work and positioning. 
 

If this is your first reef you got a lot of options go with low light hardy stuff.
 

Royal Gramma is good. Clown Goby is good. Yellow watchman is good. I just wouldn’t add one till you have started to establish some corals. They like to hang around on things.

 

One more tip use cycled fake reef rock. Lol. You don’t want to deal with pests. Not in a Nano you could add one small piece of reel reef rock or just buy some corals to get coralline algae going. I’ve done it both ways Fiji Reef rock I loved. I think theirs bans on it now. But you will get the bristle worm etc. They can get so big plus it’s ugly and more on the bio load. Started using this fake reef rock that’s cycled with a purple coating. Looks like Coraline Algae. I love the stuff and no pests but that’s at a local reef shop. Take your time with Aqua scaping. 

 

BioCube (Took this photo because that Royal likes to hide. A Royal Gramma will bark. Clowns won’t beat him up but they like to say hi. Your goby Is going to do the same thing minus the bark he’s gonna hide. Make sure you got plenty of rubble and rock work and corals he’ll stick around that area while the clowns are more of your main display.)

F84B3EB9-95DA-433F-9CFD-FBD7436E8877.jpeg
 

Fluval Evo (Just Started this tank). May change Things. But it’s cycled and the clowns are breaking it in.

EA0BEE92-0298-4BF6-AACB-4A5A23F21D25.jpeg

78802F8E-1958-44DB-AA32-BEAA98C86BCA.jpeg

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Ksull72487
2 hours ago, Tired said:

Clownfish will often pick something anemone-like to host if they have the option, but don't necessarily need one. They'll sometimes ignore proper anemones, even, especially if something else that they like (a powerhead, some macroalgae, some xenia, a mushroom coral, they pick all sorts of things) is in the tank. You'll get captive-bred clowns anyway, those are what are for sale, and they're generations out from the wild. They may have lost some of that draw to an anemone. 

Frogspawn Lol I’ve had good luck with them hanging out by it. Yeah I’d stay away from the anemone. Tougher to care for especially in a nano.

 

Yup in another tank I had a pair pick the Hydor 240. Lol 😂
 

Agree with this post most people do 2 clowns in a Nano. Cuz they are like Damsels. Bullet proof. So no disagreement their. Today’s world and technology clown fish can do well in less than 20 gallons. They’ll adapt. But buy them smaller. That 20 gallon minimum rating should be changed. Used to be 30 gallons. 
 

Water changes and Filtration is important though. Circulation pump needed. 
 

The biggest issue with Nanos and Clowns was back in the day when finding Nemo came out. People were basically doing small plain tanks to try to keep Nemo. As long as you intend to keep a reef. 14+ gallons those clowns will do fine. 
 

if this gives you an idea. I’ve had 8 clownfish. None of them died almost all Nano Reefs. The goby will be a trick tho long run. My guess is you’ll have to target feed. Cuz he’s gonna hang out in the rock. 

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Justincl

Thanks a bunch for the replies, I'm late and just saw them! All awesome info and just what I was looking for. Beautiful tanks Ksull!

 

I'm thinking 30-40 gallons in size for more stability and a good amount of room for stocking and corals. I posted another thread on a kit I'm thinking abt getting but may not be very good quality. And goal is for goby and pistol to have and live in a burrow or however that works hopefully which I will probably end up having to target feed as you said.  

 

Crazy that you were in this hobby when finding Nemo came out. I wasn't even born...

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