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Fish recommendations for a Fluval Evo 13.5


lostrider

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lostrider

Hi everyone.

 

Just getting back into the fish hobby, although this is my first time with saltwater. I purchased a Fluval Evo (13.5 gallon nano tank) and bought some of the talked-about upgrades (inTank Media Basket, etc.). My goal is to primarily keep corals, but I also want to keep some fish as well. Also will be doing an open top with net and will be upgrading the stock lighting to something better.

 

I want to be a responsible owner--I don't want to overcrowd the aquarium, nor do I want to keep juvenile fish only to have to give them away/trade them once they get bigger (I get quite sentimental with my pets). I had a 70 gallon African Cichlid tank in the past, which required me to overstock the aquarium to ease their aggression--although the giant water changes became quite exhausting. So want to avoid excess waste and also want to house animals that are ok being in a small space.

 

I know one recommendation is a yellow watchman goby/shrimp pair. If anyone could steer me in the right direction, I would be most appreciative. I can imagine this question comes up a lot, so apologize for the redundancy, but just excited to start my new hobby. 🙂

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Firefish15

Welcome to the salt side! 
 

There’s a decent variety of fish that work well tanks that size.

 

There are a lot of other shrimp gobies in addition to the yellow watchman, so take time to explore there. One of my favorites out of that group is the barber pole goby (Stonogobiops nematodes). They are jumpers though, so that net lid will be a necessity. 

 

Firefish or dart gobies are another fun group. Depending on your budget, you could go with a red firefish, purple firefish, or Helfrichi firefish. My red firefish was my first ever saltwater fish, and still probably my favorite to date.
 

Neon or shark nose gobies are small, but they still have a funny personality. Their antics around feeding time are pretty entertaining.  
 

I’m sure others will chime in more, but those are a couple. Also feel free to refer to Igreen’s nano fish guide

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lostrider
21 hours ago, Firefish15 said:

Welcome to the salt side! 
 

There’s a decent variety of fish that work well tanks that size.

 

There are a lot of other shrimp gobies in addition to the yellow watchman, so take time to explore there. One of my favorites out of that group is the barber pole goby (Stonogobiops nematodes). They are jumpers though, so that net lid will be a necessity. 

 

Firefish or dart gobies are another fun group. Depending on your budget, you could go with a red firefish, purple firefish, or Helfrichi firefish. My red firefish was my first ever saltwater fish, and still probably my favorite to date.
 

Neon or shark nose gobies are small, but they still have a funny personality. Their antics around feeding time are pretty entertaining.  
 

I’m sure others will chime in more, but those are a couple. Also feel free to refer to Igreen’s nano fish guide

Thank you for the detailed response! After doing some research, I will definitely be going with one of the firefish (probably purple or Helfrichi). I went through your 10g journal as well--great stuff! I will decide on a second fish later at some point, but will probably be a goby of some sort.

 

Just having my electrician put in some extra outlets in my office and reconfiguring a few things there. But looking to do a leak test in a few days, and start cycling this coming weekend. I will be doing a fishless cycle like how I did with my Mbunas when I did African Cichlids, so still a bit of a drawn out process. But still lots to learn. Cheers!

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Firefish15

Yeah, hopefully there was some stuff in there that was useful! 
 

A goby of some type should work out with a firefish just fine. 
 

What kind of rock are you going to get? If you grab some old, dried out natural  rock from another hobbyist, it often has better shapes and is more porous, plus there will be dead organisms on it to be the ammonia source for your cycle.  

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  • 4 weeks later...
lostrider

Just wanted to update; I purchased a single Ocellaris clownfish a few days ago. He is very cute and I like him. I’ll probably do some sort of small goby for the second fish. And then I’ll be done. I will probably wait a week or more before I do anything. Still getting used to this little guy.

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I have a pair of clowns, sixline, and a hifin goby in my evo. For a while I had a gramma as well until I lost him to the carpet. IMO you can get away with 3-4 fish in this tank presuming you handle nutrients and there is no aggression. I highly recommend turning the second chamber into a fuge for chaeto if you haven't yet. I don't think I could have gotten away with 5 fish otherwise. Even with a fully stocked tank, I briefly battled dinos because the chaeto was so effective that it zeroed my nitrates and phosphates. Other fish I'd recommend to go with your clown:

 

Gobies (yasha is my favorite I've owned)

Tailspot/Bicolor Blenny

Bangaii Carindal

Sixline Wrasse (added last, only if you have a lid)

 

You should be fine adding any 1 or 2 of these, good luck with the tank!

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lostrider
On 10/3/2022 at 10:19 PM, SF Reef said:

I have a pair of clowns, sixline, and a hifin goby in my evo. For a while I had a gramma as well until I lost him to the carpet. IMO you can get away with 3-4 fish in this tank presuming you handle nutrients and there is no aggression. I highly recommend turning the second chamber into a fuge for chaeto if you haven't yet. I don't think I could have gotten away with 5 fish otherwise. Even with a fully stocked tank, I briefly battled dinos because the chaeto was so effective that it zeroed my nitrates and phosphates. Other fish I'd recommend to go with your clown:

 

Gobies (yasha is my favorite I've owned)

Tailspot/Bicolor Blenny

Bangaii Carindal

Sixline Wrasse (added last, only if you have a lid)

 

You should be fine adding any 1 or 2 of these, good luck with the tank!

Thanks for the recommendation. I actually purchased a second Ocellaris the other day. It’s tiny (maybe an inch). He gets along exceptionally well with my first  mocha Ocellaris (who is double the size of the new one).

 

I’ll post a picture of the two later. One interesting thing I noticed was my original clown typically was in the top left corner of my Fluval Evo (underneath the two return hoses, and didn’t venture out unless I turned off my Jebao wavemaker). But since adding my second clown, they are so adventurous together. They swim all over the aquarium. I initially thought my flow was maybe too much for my clown, but getting the second one really brought out an adventurous nature. I understand I will have to upgrade to a bigger aquarium for them one day, but I am willing to do that. I love these guys!

 

And I am definitely done with fish for this setup. I’ll add CUC at some point, but I don’t have any algae problems (yet). 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...
lostrider

Finally added some CUC. Added 3 trochus snails, 1 cowrie snail, and a Halloween hermit crab. 
 

Snails went straight to work. Took 30-60 minutes for the Hermit to come out of his shell (pun intended). Interestingly, he started mowing his way over my Rhodactis mushroom and it didn’t like that at all. Looked like it was puking out some green stuff. But after the crab got out of his way, the mushroom was happy again.
 

My ammonia and nitrite are zero, nitrates are less than 5ppm, and phosphates are 16 ppb. Tank is maybe too clean. Only have my two Ocellaris clownfish and the CUC.

 

 

F54E19D0-67F3-4B8E-8E11-11B10236CBE5.jpeg

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To deal with low nutrients, stop doing water changes- they aren't needed yet. Water changes are mainly to remove excess nutrients, to replace minerals that corals use up, or to deal with immediate issues like "big snail died and is rotting". If none of those things needs to be done, you don't need to do a water change. 

 

Also, make sure you're feeding on a good schedule. Most fish we keep for reefs should eat a minimum of once per day. More often (in smaller meals) is ideal, but generally not required. 

 

Most reefs will do best with at least 5ppm nitrates and 0.03ppm phosphates. Even if you don't have any corals yet, your beneficial algae will thank you for the nutrients. 

 

As to fish, probably best to stick with two nano fish for a tank this size, at least at first. Three can work fine after a bit. Four might be pushing it, depending on the fish and the tank, and is probably not the best idea- less wiggle room in case of issues. I see you said you're done stocking fish, so I'm talking more in the abstract. 

(Though you could probably sneak in a captive-bred clown goby if you wanted. They're cute lil dudes, have very little bio-load, and their bad-tasting slime coat makes them resistant to territorial aggression from other fish.)

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lostrider
6 hours ago, Tired said:

To deal with low nutrients, stop doing water changes- they aren't needed yet. Water changes are mainly to remove excess nutrients, to replace minerals that corals use up, or to deal with immediate issues like "big snail died and is rotting". If none of those things needs to be done, you don't need to do a water change. 

 

Also, make sure you're feeding on a good schedule. Most fish we keep for reefs should eat a minimum of once per day. More often (in smaller meals) is ideal, but generally not required. 

 

Most reefs will do best with at least 5ppm nitrates and 0.03ppm phosphates. Even if you don't have any corals yet, your beneficial algae will thank you for the nutrients. 

 

As to fish, probably best to stick with two nano fish for a tank this size, at least at first. Three can work fine after a bit. Four might be pushing it, depending on the fish and the tank, and is probably not the best idea- less wiggle room in case of issues. I see you said you're done stocking fish, so I'm talking more in the abstract. 

(Though you could probably sneak in a captive-bred clown goby if you wanted. They're cute lil dudes, have very little bio-load, and their bad-tasting slime coat makes them resistant to territorial aggression from other fish.)

Thanks for the advice. I have two small Ocellaris clownfish, and I am probably done where fish are concerned. I don’t want to feel pressured to buy a bigger aquarium if they get too big one day. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

 

The guy at my LFS said to not do WCs anymore. I was doing too many, but it was because my nitrates were kind of high after my cycle. Then suddenly it drops to 5ppm 😕

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The best way to not have to buy a bigger aquarium is to not buy fish that will need a bigger aquarium. Small tank, tiny fish. Little gobies and such are good for a tank this size.

 

Keep an eye on your parameters. You'll need to do water changes at some point, but it might be awhile, and they might not be very frequent ones. 

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lostrider
8 hours ago, Tired said:

The best way to not have to buy a bigger aquarium is to not buy fish that will need a bigger aquarium. Small tank, tiny fish. Little gobies and such are good for a tank this size.

 

Keep an eye on your parameters. You'll need to do water changes at some point, but it might be awhile, and they might not be very frequent ones. 

I agree. I like the clownfish, but I don’t want to be forced to buy an aquarium just for them. I’ll trade them in once they get big enough and get smaller fish at that time.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/4/2022 at 11:52 AM, lostrider said:

I want to be a responsible owner--I don't want to overcrowd the aquarium, nor do I want to keep juvenile fish only to have to give them away/trade them once they get bigger (I get quite sentimental with my pets). I had a 70 gallon African Cichlid tank in the past, which required me to overstock the aquarium to ease their aggression--although the giant water changes became quite exhausting. So want to avoid excess waste and also want to house animals that are ok being in a small space.

Reefing really rewards patience and moderation in almost all things.   Maybe the #1 thing to know about a reef tank is that it's nothing like a fish tank.  

 

Fish tanks are inherently broken ecosystems that can't get by long without assistance from you.  

 

Reef tanks CAN BE much more functional ecosystems that CAN BE almost self-sufficient by comparison.

 

Reef tanks CAN BE run more or less like fish tanks too....but it's just as much work as a regular fish only tank and results are usually not as good as a "real" reef tank.

 

Keeping the tank's fish load balanced with the overall reef is a GREAT foundation strategy.   Reefs recycle MOST nutrients that reach them (up to 100%), so if you hit the balance right, your work in terms of cleaning can be almost nothing.

 

You should try to imagine the polar opposite of your 70 Gallon African Cichlid tank.  It is possible!!  (not something most reefers attempt tho). 🙂

 

On 9/5/2022 at 11:56 AM, lostrider said:

I will be doing a fishless cycle like how I did with my Mbunas when I did African Cichlids, so still a bit of a drawn out process.

Doing a cycle without fish is fine.  There are better options.

 

But I'm not a fan of the so-called "Fishless Cycle" that most folks use these days...by which I mean where you initiate an ammonia spike on purpose with the goal of growing nitrogen-cycle bacteria.  

 

This is a total fish-tank maneuver – not reefy at all.  Actually a little bit brain dead in terms of reefs.  

 

Again, this can work....but MAKES a lot of work that is unnecessary and doesn't really accomplish much that a REAL reef needs.  (Diversity in microbes is KEY.)

 

And for what it's worth, doing literally nothing for 30-40 days while the tank just runs will accomplish about the same thing.  A cycle will happen, bacteria will grow.  (The natural method.)

 

A better start for a reef tank would be some live rock.  Cultured dead rock at least (very very least).  But real, actual live rock is by far the best option.

 

On 10/3/2022 at 11:13 AM, lostrider said:

I purchased a single Ocellaris clownfish a few days ago. He is very cute and I like him.

Nice.

 

A 10 Gallon is marginal for a Clown.  It falls within some folks' guidelines since Clowns tend to claim a small territory anyway.  But it's still a lot of fish for a fairly small tank, which means an above average amount of work for you....and a bit more stress on the fish relative to being raised in a larger tank (eg 15-20 gallons).

 

On 10/5/2022 at 5:05 PM, lostrider said:

Thanks for the recommendation. I actually purchased a second Ocellaris the other day.

Thought you were gonna wait a week before doing anything!   LOL

 

Now the tank is officially crowded..something you stated at the beginning you explicitly wanted to avoid.  (And something I'd discourage too, for what it's worth.  Be careful taking examples from others.....there are lotsa folks who like to overcrowd their reefs with fish....99% of those tanks have troubles and don't last.)

 

Given the change in your direction, I would consider upgrading to a 15-20 gallon tank if these are your fish of choice.

 

On 10/15/2022 at 11:48 AM, lostrider said:

But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

You're already there by the Clownfishes.

 

Switching tanks now is better than waiting until later when things have stabilized and grown in more IMO.  

 

Waiting until "someday" will make the disturbance that much more disturbing, if you take my meaning.  Do it BEFORE you need to do it.  (This is logical too since you've changed the initial stocking plan so much.)

 

On 10/15/2022 at 11:48 AM, lostrider said:

The guy at my LFS said to not do WCs anymore. I was doing too many, but it was because my nitrates were kind of high after my cycle. Then suddenly it drops to 5ppm 😕

Good advice!

 

Something gave you the idea (and most other newbs) that you have to do tons of water changes to somehow "help the tank".  Myth busted!  🙂

 

Your reef started growing, BTW.  That's why nutrient levels dropped.   Perfectly expected if you understand what starting a reef tank is all about.  👍  (It's about the microbes!!!)

 

If you aren't already monitoring phosphates, start now.   They are more important than nitrates....as Tired mentioned, neither param should be allowed to trend toward zero.

 

Phosphate is like the oil in your car tho, whereas nitrate is like gasoline:

  • Run a can without gas and it just shuts down until it gets more fuel - no harm.  
  • Run a car without oil and you get a meltdown – no more engine!

It's more or less the same with photosynthetic organisms (eg corals and the microbes that live with them.)  

 

Running out of dissolved phosphates can be disastrous for them.

 

So make sure your "tank" always has "gas" in it.  ≥5.0 ppm.

 

But make DOUBLE SURE that it ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS has oil.  ≥0.03 ppm at minimum....but ≥0.05 ppm is a much more comfortable "low".  

 

Levels over that are FINE as well.  My phosphate test has been pegged at max. for years now, just for reference.  There is no "too much" as far as I can tell.   (Another myth BUSTED.)

 

 

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lostrider
7 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Reefing really rewards patience and moderation in almost all things.   Maybe the #1 thing to know about a reef tank is that it's nothing like a fish tank.  

 

Fish tanks are inherently broken ecosystems that can't get by long without assistance from you.  

 

Reef tanks CAN BE much more functional ecosystems that CAN BE almost self-sufficient by comparison.

 

Reef tanks CAN BE run more or less like fish tanks too....but it's just as much work as a regular fish only tank and results are usually not as good as a "real" reef tank.

 

Keeping the tank's fish load balanced with the overall reef is a GREAT foundation strategy.   Reefs recycle MOST nutrients that reach them (up to 100%), so if you hit the balance right, your work in terms of cleaning can be almost nothing.

 

You should try to imagine the polar opposite of your 70 Gallon African Cichlid tank.  It is possible!!  (not something most reefers attempt tho). 🙂

 

Doing a cycle without fish is fine.  There are better options.

 

But I'm not a fan of the so-called "Fishless Cycle" that most folks use these days...by which I mean where you initiate an ammonia spike on purpose with the goal of growing nitrogen-cycle bacteria.  

 

This is a total fish-tank maneuver – not reefy at all.  Actually a little bit brain dead in terms of reefs.  

 

Again, this can work....but MAKES a lot of work that is unnecessary and doesn't really accomplish much that a REAL reef needs.  (Diversity in microbes is KEY.)

 

And for what it's worth, doing literally nothing for 30-40 days while the tank just runs will accomplish about the same thing.  A cycle will happen, bacteria will grow.  (The natural method.)

 

A better start for a reef tank would be some live rock.  Cultured dead rock at least (very very least).  But real, actual live rock is by far the best option.

 

Nice.

 

A 10 Gallon is marginal for a Clown.  It falls within some folks' guidelines since Clowns tend to claim a small territory anyway.  But it's still a lot of fish for a fairly small tank, which means an above average amount of work for you....and a bit more stress on the fish relative to being raised in a larger tank (eg 15-20 gallons).

 

Thought you were gonna wait a week before doing anything!   LOL

 

Now the tank is officially crowded..something you stated at the beginning you explicitly wanted to avoid.  (And something I'd discourage too, for what it's worth.  Be careful taking examples from others.....there are lotsa folks who like to overcrowd their reefs with fish....99% of those tanks have troubles and don't last.)

 

Given the change in your direction, I would consider upgrading to a 15-20 gallon tank if these are your fish of choice.

 

You're already there by the Clownfishes.

 

Switching tanks now is better than waiting until later when things have stabilized and grown in more IMO.  

 

Waiting until "someday" will make the disturbance that much more disturbing, if you take my meaning.  Do it BEFORE you need to do it.  (This is logical too since you've changed the initial stocking plan so much.)

 

Good advice!

 

Something gave you the idea (and most other newbs) that you have to do tons of water changes to somehow "help the tank".  Myth busted!  🙂

 

Your reef started growing, BTW.  That's why nutrient levels dropped.   Perfectly expected if you understand what starting a reef tank is all about.  👍  (It's about the microbes!!!)

 

If you aren't already monitoring phosphates, start now.   They are more important than nitrates....as Tired mentioned, neither param should be allowed to trend toward zero.

 

Phosphate is like the oil in your car tho, whereas nitrate is like gasoline:

  • Run a can without gas and it just shuts down until it gets more fuel - no harm.  
  • Run a car without oil and you get a meltdown – no more engine!

It's more or less the same with photosynthetic organisms (eg corals and the microbes that live with them.)  

 

Running out of dissolved phosphates can be disastrous for them.

 

So make sure your "tank" always has "gas" in it.  ≥5.0 ppm.

 

But make DOUBLE SURE that it ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS has oil.  ≥0.03 ppm at minimum....but ≥0.05 ppm is a much more comfortable "low".  

 

Levels over that are FINE as well.  My phosphate test has been pegged at max. for years now, just for reference.  There is no "too much" as far as I can tell.   (Another myth BUSTED.)

 

 

Thank you for the detailed response. I actually have two Ocellaris clownfish now and a bunch of corals (both are very small). Issue with my tank at the moment is actually low nitrates. Phosphates are 18ppb around. I will be upgrading to something in the 30-50 gallon range (might be more with a sump…still deciding) and I’ll do that within a year. 

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6 hours ago, lostrider said:

Phosphates are 18ppb around.

I don't know the ppm conversion offhand, but if I'm not mistaken, that's above 0.03 ppm.  But maybe not by much.

 

Low nitrates are much less crucial.

 

Probably the main reason they are less crucial is that unlike PO4, NO3 is measured more as an indicator of the nitrogen cycle....which encompasses many forms of nitrogen, all of which are available to corals (and algae) as nutrients.

 

So even if you see 0.00 ppm NO3, there's a really good chance that there's still a supply of ammonia, nitrite, urea, amino acids, etc in the water as alternate sources.

 

Hope this makes sense!   🙂 

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