125 Gallon Reef Tank Stocking Help?

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Cetus

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Hey!

So, I'm planning on getting a 125 gallon reef tank that's 72 inches long. I've been looking all over for what kind of fish I could add to the tank and after several weeks of adding and removing, I decided to use the unit system as described in this article...


I'm fully aware this is a guideline but it does provide a good baseline for me at least so that's what I'm starting with. I have 12 units of available fish according to the list and my stocking list is as follows...

Group A - 0.5 Units Each

1 Yellowhead Jawfish
- Adds personality and brings life to the sandbed. I'm not sure if these guys aerate the sandbed but if they do that's a plus.

1 Royal Gramma Basslet - Pictures do not do this fish justice. That purple is STRIKING. Helps too that they're incredibly easy and peaceful to keep. A must have for the tank.

Group B - 1 Unit Each

2 Banggai Cardinalfish - In addition to being easy, this fish has an incredibly distinct swimming style and body shape. The lack of any vibrant colors also works well to make it stand out in the brightly colored reef tank.

1 Starry Blenny - Every tank needs a blenny and the starry blenny's speckled pattern is very appealing to me. Also adds some life to the rockwork which is a plus.

1 Longnose Hawkfish
- Distinct shape, pleasant colors, and it adds some intrigue to the places it decides to perch.

1 Blue Spotted Toby Puffer - This one I'm unsure about. I am absolutely in love with the blue spots and its curious behavior. The main issue is just how much of a crapshoot toby puffers are for reef tanks. They have the potential to be reef safe but can also eat corals and CUC just as easily. I'm willing to take the risk and try to make the toby puffer work mostly because I love it so much. However, I also would like to explore potential alternatives in the event I give up.

Group C - 2 Units Each

1 Red Tail Triggerfish
- In all the stocking list drafts, the triggerfish has been the only one to have remained completely untouched. They're usually reef safe, have interesting undulating motions that add visual intrigue, and I just find them a bit more appealing compared to the similar Blue Jawed Triggerfish. I don't see myself changing this one.

1 Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish - I love butterflyfish. Unfortunately, some of my favorites like the Saddleback and Auriga butterflyfish aren't reef safe. Fortunately, the Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish is considered reef safe with caution. From what I've read, people have had pretty good success with these fish so I'm confident in my chances. Its bright yellow color and interesting body shape is what catches my eye most. Alternatives I've been considering would be the Yellow Tang, Foxface Lo, Kole Yellow Eye Tang, and Pyramid Butterflyfish.

1 Powder Blue Tang - This is the fish that made me want a 125 gallon tank in the first place. Their blue is perfect to add that final splash of color to the tank to really make it stand out. I would absolutely love to try and keep one however I've been hearing very mixed things about their survivability in 125 gallon tanks. Some people seem perfectly fine with it while others even recommend tanks of up to 180 gallons to properly keep one. In addition to this, they're known for being finnicky and quite aggressive, further adding to the difficulty. LiveAquaria and several tang tank requirement threads say it's doable with 125, but I want to get some more information on it first before I make my decision. If I decide against it, I'm not sure what I'd replace it with. Regal Tangs require a 180 gallon tank but I've heard they can be kept in 125 gallon tanks so long as they're 6 feet long. I'll see if it ever comes to it... Maybe a Purple Tang but I hear they can be pretty aggressive.

Other Considerations

I would love to add a few more fish but I want to be a bit conservative and stick to the unit measurement tool I used before. If possible, I'd be interesting in adding one or more of the following...

1 Richmond's Wrasse - Green is the one color I'm missing and the Richmond's Wrasse fits that bill more so than the Melanurus Wrasse in my opinion. Plus, they can be pretty beneficial with eating pests so there's that. Would it be alright adding one Richmond's Wrasse to the tank alongside the rest of the fish?

2 or 3 Squareback Anthias - These are some of my favorite looking fish out there with their absolutely striking coloration. I was very excited to see that they could be kept in tanks of 100 gallons on LiveAquaria. But reading further into it, I found out that "... if keeping a group, a 180 gallon tank should be used since the Squareback Anthias appreciates plenty of room to swim."

Now, I looked everywhere but I cannot find much information on this aspect of the anthias. I'd rather not keep a single anthias because I hear they discolor if left alone. Another idea was keeping a pair of Squareback Anthias with one male and one female. I would like some expertise on this before I even consider two or maybe even three squarebacks since I know they can get pretty big. Anthias are messy eaters so I might have this one as a backup option in case I need to replace some fish. Though if I could add them alongside the aforementioned fish I would totally give it a go.

Randall's Prawn Goby + Randall's Pistol Shrimp - A symbiotic relationship would add an interesting addition to the tank and out of all the prawn gobies, I like the Randall's Prawn Goby the most.

Inverts - Not gonna do a write up for all of them but any suggestions would be nice.
3 Rock Anemones
1 Abalone
2 Porcelain Anemone Crabs
2 Fighting Conches
1 Blue Tuxedo Urchin
1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
5 Cerith Snails
5 Bumble Bee Snails
5 Trochus Snails
5 Nassarius Snails
5 Nerite Snails

In Conclusion...

The process of research has been fun but I'm at the point where I'm at the point where I've read almost everything I could find. The fish I'm most apprehensive about are the Blue Spotted Toby Puffer because they have the potential to absolutely destroy a reef tank and its clean up crew and the Powder Blue Tang because of its difficulty and aggression issues. Hoping the PBT could work out in a 6 foot 125 gallon since that seems to be the general consensus but I want to make absolutely sure. Thank you for reading and I hope I can figure this out! :)
 
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Caseyoidae

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I’d personally do the jaw fish, starry Blenny, a couple wrasse, powder blue:) I’d also consider a Tomini tang for starters or yellow. I’d wait a while on anthias, powder blue and puffers.Dwarf angels are a nice addition and easier to keep than anthias in my opinion. Some peck at coral though.
 
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Cetus

Cetus

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I’d personally do the jaw fish, starry Blenny, a couple wrasse, powder blue:) I’d also consider a Tomini tang for starters or yellow. I’d wait a while on anthias, powder blue and puffers.Dwarf angels are a nice addition and easier to keep than anthias in my opinion. Some peck at coral though.

Not sure how I feel about excluding the triggerfish, gramma, cardinals, and hawkfish... I do agree maybe pushing the toby puffer and powder blue 'till the very end and waiting to see what I think is the best course of action. (Here's a condensed list without explanations for ease of viewing.)

1 Yellowhead Jawfish
1 Royal Gramma Basslet
2 Banggai Cardinalfish
1 Starry Blenny
1 Longnose Hawkfish
1 Blue Spotted Toby Puffer
1 Red Tail Triggerfish
1 Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish
1 Powder Blue Tang


The one's I'm most tentative about are the Toby Puffer and the Powder Blue Tang. Can go with anything yellow really for the Butterflyfish spot but it may depend on what I do with the aforementioned two.
 
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stanlalee

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I had a 100g of the same dimensions except shorter (still 72x18x20). My stocking was one power brown tang, one hippo tang, one midas blenny, one male and three female lyretail anthias. Tank was fed 2x daily due to the anthias, had a 20g sump with crappy skimmer (coralife...but this was like 12 years ago) and cheato. Had no problem keeping nitrates low and didn't even kill the few wild acros I had.
Even found old video (keep in mind this is 13 years ago and while I had saltwater fish off and on since the mid 90s this was my first reef attempt)
 
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Cetus

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I had a 100g of the same dimensions except shorter (still 72x18x20). My stocking was one power brown tang, one hippo tang, one midas blenny, one male and three female lyretail anthias. Tank was fed 2x daily due to the anthias, had a 20g sump with crappy skimmer (coralife...but this was like 12 years ago) and cheato. Had no problem keeping nitrates low and didn't even kill the few wild acros I had.
Even found old video (keep in mind this is 13 years ago and while I had saltwater fish off and on since the mid 90s this was my first reef attempt)

Hmm alright. No aggression issues from the powder blue? How long did it live for and how healthy did he seem? Anecdotes can be weird when talking about reef tank experience but it's good information to have nonetheless.
 
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stanlalee

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Hmm alright. No aggression issues from the powder blue? How long did it live for and how healthy did he seem? Anecdotes can be weird when talking about reef tank experience but it's good information to have nonetheless.
No aggression from the powder brown (not sure if they are the same temperament as powder blue). The blue (hippo) I raised from the size of a quarter starting in a 30g. After he got bigger moved to the 100g. First fish in there. Got the powder after the hippo and no aggression at all. Just have to add them in the right sequence and the right size. They lived until the tank came down (literally, it broke) and somebody picked them up. The tank was up for a couple years. A 6ft aquarium is perfectly fine for powder brown/blue tangs. Hippo tangs (the blue one) can get too big for a 125g but that would probably take years. No fish ever had a single health issue but they spent a week or two in a medicated quarantine before adding.
 

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Do not get the toby puffer. I had one.. awsome personality look cool swimming.. but he ate and bit chunks of all my zoas. My lps my sps he ate all of it and didnt discriminate
 
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Cetus

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No aggression from the powder brown (not sure if they are the same temperament as powder blue). The blue (hippo) I raised from the size of a quarter starting in a 30g. After he got bigger moved to the 100g. First fish in there. Got the powder after the hippo and no aggression at all. Just have to add them in the right sequence and the right size. They lived until the tank came down (literally, it broke) and somebody picked them up. The tank was up for a couple years. A 6ft aquarium is perfectly fine for powder brown/blue tangs. Hippo tangs (the blue one) can get too big for a 125g but that would probably take years. No fish ever had a single health issue but they spent a week or two in a medicated quarantine before adding.

Ohhh, Powder Brown. I think they are considered to be a bit less aggressive than the Powder Blue but still have some similar requirements. Could be promising I suppose but the jury's still out on this one. I'll def take what you've said into consideration.
 
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Do not get the toby puffer. I had one.. awsome personality look cool swimming.. but he ate and bit chunks of all my zoas. My lps my sps he ate all of it and didnt discriminate

I see... That Richmond's Wrasse is looking a bit better right now... I think I may still try to risk it, see if I get lucky with it, but if it doesn't pan out, then I can easily replace it. The Wrasse might honestly be the wiser choice here since it means I can probably house a clam then. We'll see how I feel...
 
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Gonna bump this. I'm super unsure even now and I haven't been getting satisfactory answers elsewhere.
1 Yellowhead Jawfish
1 Royal Gramma Basslet
2 Banggai Cardinalfish
1 Starry Blenny
1 Longnose Hawkfish
1 Richmond’s Wrasse
1 Sargassum Triggerfish
1 Yellow Tang

Does anyone have extensive experience with a Powder Blue and think it could do well in a 125 gallon, 6 foot tank such as this in the long term? I've been mulling over Square Spot Anthias, Snowflake Eels or whatever but I still don't know. I really could use an expert's opinion on this.
 
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