Fish Selection for my first reef tank ever!

TSM Aquatics

JonCherba

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
9
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Amarillo
I have been researching and planning constantly for the past several months, I've also started gathering equipment and supplies. The display will be a 40 Breeder along with a 40 Breeder sump. I have a tank build thread as well, that explains more of my plans. I have a really good idea of the fish I want I have done research on each fish. I know the fish need to be added to the tank (after QT) based on temperament from most peaceful to more aggressive. A list of these fish will be below, What I'm posting this thread for is to get more experienced opinions of the fish I have on this list being housed together. I'm looking to figure out which need to go in first and which ones can be QT together and released together as a group while the next group is in QT. Most of them on the list are labeled peaceful so I'm not sure which ones would need to go in first. I will be looking for Captive Bred specimens of any that I can get, regardless of price difference.

Six Line Wrasse - Pseudocheilinus Hexataenia:
- Utilitarian choice, also love the look of the fish as well, they have interesting character as well.
Royal Gramma Basslet - Gramma Loreto:
- Chosen for color and character.
Pajama Cardinal - sphaeramia Nematoptera:
- I want a small school of these 4-6 fish, I have seen a group of 5 that are captive bred. I love the unique look of these guys.
Ocellaris Clown - Amphirprion Ocellaris:
- I have a pair of these at a LFS that have been paired for over a year, that I plan on purchasing. Possibly breeding later. I would love to get an anemone to have the clowns host but it is not priority. To help teach my son about relationships in nature.
Blue Mandarin - Synchiropus Splendidus:
- I have always loved these, I plan on raising live foods and phyto for these guys. Possibly breeding later.
Yellow Watchmen Goby - Cryptocentrus Cinctus:
Pink Spotted Watchmen Goby - Cryptocentrus Leptocephalus:

- The plan with these gobies (one or the other) is to have a symbiotic relationship with a shrimp. To help teach my son about relationships in nature.
Orchid Dottyback - Pseudochromis Fridmani:
- Chosen for color and character.
Yellowhead Jawfish - Opistognathus Aurifrons:
- Chosen for color and character.
Black-Axil Chromis - Chromis Atripectoralis:
- I prefer these over the green due to their color
Green Reef Chromis - Chromis Viridis:
- Backup if the Black-Axil's don't work out. The chromis are some of the largest fish on this list, they may not get added. I would want a small school of them (4-6). The chromis will be the least important to be added to the tank.

My son is just about to be 1.5 years and he loves my cichlid tank. I'm sure he will absolutely love this reef tank. I will add corals later once tank is setup and stable for close to a year so fish need to be as reef safe as possible. I would love some suggestions on inverts to add to this system. I have 80lbs of rock to scape with so I should be able to create plenty of caves and crevices for everyone to feel safe in. I have 40lbs of special grade sand as well. Any other system questions please ask. Thanks!
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

sixline

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
307
Reaction score
344
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
IMO, that's way too many fish and will greatly decrease your chance of success.

I'd add the sixtine last - they're mean.

I've had a group of five pajama cardinals in my 100g for about 10 years. They've gotten pretty big, and once they reached breeding age, they chase each other a lot. But with five of them, the aggression is somewhat distributed. I'm not sure if it'd be a good idea to put 4-6 in a 40g. Others may chime in.

I'd choose one sand dweller, one set of schoolers, the clown, royal gramma OR wrasse. Also verify that the dotty back won't eat your goby's shrimp.

I think you're doing the right thing by planning your stockiest in advance. Good luck with the tank.
 
OP
J

JonCherba

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
9
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Amarillo
I'm trying to do this the right way, or at least trying to be as successful as I can be! Thanks for the comments, I was wondering if I had too many fish. Not all of them need to be in the tank, just all the fish I'm considering.
 

PatW

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 14, 2013
Messages
2,112
Reaction score
1,558
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Orlando, FL
I would not risk a 6 line. Dotty backs can be aggressive so I would give him a pass. Mandarins like live food and with as many fish as you are going to have, it might starve to death unless you get it eating frozen food or pellets. You might give it a pass also. The jawfish is a nice fish but they like making burrows in coarse rubble and it should be 4 “ deep. So that is a bit much for a 40 gallon. I had 2 of them years ago. They were a hoot. They divided the tank and each got a half with a well defined (at least to them) frontier. They would collect pebbles and arrange them at their burrow entrances. The thing is they coveted each other’s pebbles. When one fish was distracted, the other would cross the frontier, grab a pebble and run with the other fish in hot pursuit. They would end up glaring at each other over the frontier. They would do this almost endlessly. It was very entertaining.
 

NoahLikesFish

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
2,753
Reaction score
1,347
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Indiana
That many fish in thst small a tank would be a bloodbath. Mabye you could like have some fish in a display refugium for your son b/c it’s on his level then fish in the surface tank you can enjoy
 
Fritz

NoahLikesFish

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
2,753
Reaction score
1,347
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Indiana
Mabye like a pair of clowns and the mandarin then like some nano fish and lots of inverts so there’s lots of stuff to look at for him. Also it’s better for mandarins to be in refugiums because they have direct access to pods
 
OP
J

JonCherba

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
9
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Amarillo
Mabye like a pair of clowns and the mandarin then like some nano fish and lots of inverts so there’s lots of stuff to look at for him. Also it’s better for mandarins to be in refugiums because they have direct access to pods
Would a pair of mandarins be ok in a 15+ gallon fuge? Pods will be dosed often. I have marine pure plates that I planned on keepingin the fuge. But if I put the mandarin in it should i add sand and some rubble in the fuge or is the marine pure good for them as well?
 

NoahLikesFish

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 16, 2020
Messages
2,753
Reaction score
1,347
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Indiana
Don’t do dry rock, salty bottom has good live rock with free shipping direct submerged. U would need like 375$ worth which is 65 lb and do like 60% in the fuge 40% in the dt Just make like all or most of the sump into a fuge then make a phyto culture with a drip becsuse it works better than a skimmer imo
 
Maxout

MaxTremors

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
1,029
Reaction score
1,515
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Boise
As others have said, if you did your entire list, you’d have about 10 too many fish. In terms of stocking order, I would do the clowns first (just because they’re hardy and are a good beginner fish).

Then I would add either the cardinals or the chromis (I’d choose one or the other, not enough room for two schools in a 40g).

Then the goby and jawfish (jawfish will require fairly deep sand bed, which is something you’ll need to weigh the risk/benefit of).

Theither the Royal Gramma or Orchid Dottyback (can’t do both, they’re both basslets and will fight).

Then the Mandarin (only if you have a ton of real live rock and a refugium, don’t keep in the refugium as suggested above, as the whole point is to have a predator free zone for pods to grow and reproduce - also would take anything that user says with a grain of salt, they have never actually had a reef tank).

Lastly, I would add the wrasse. I know a lot of people hate six-lines, and they can be aggressive, but IME, if you have a lot of live rock and quite a few fish, they aren’t too bad. I wouldn’t put any other similarly shaped or colored fish (especially other wrasses), but I don’t think a six line would be incompatible with your stocking list. Also, six-lines also eat a lot of pods, so you’ll need to make sure your refugium is super productive and supplement new batches of pods frequently so as not to starve the mandarin (also helps if you keep the six-line well fed).

Also, instead of the blue mandarin you could try a green/target mandarin or a scooter/ruby red dragonet as they seem to take to frozen/prepared foods much easier.
 
OP
J

JonCherba

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
9
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Amarillo
I would do the clowns first (just because they’re hardy and are a good beginner fish).
These were the ones I was wanting to do first. As soon as my tank is cycled I'll setup the QT tank/s with sponge filters that I'll have in the main system during cycling.

Then I would add either the cardinals or the chromis (I’d choose one or the other, not enough room for two schools in a 40g).
I'll choose the PJ Cardinals over the chromis. Also I can easily find the PJ Cardinals as a CB group (hopefully not related)...

Then the goby and jawfish (jawfish will require fairly deep sand bed, which is something you’ll need to weigh the risk/benefit of).
So one goby and one jawfish? They can be kept together no issues? Is a 2" sand bed good for a jawfish or will it need like double that?

Theither the Royal Gramma or Orchid Dottyback (can’t do both, they’re both basslets and will fight).
I did not realize the dottyback was a basslet...This will be a hard decision...

Then the Mandarin (only if you have a ton of real live rock and a refugium, don’t keep in the refugium as suggested above, as the whole point is to have a predator free zone for pods to grow and reproduce
I have 80lbs or so of dry rock which I will cycle. My refugium as planned is 15 gallons, I may make it bigger. I was planning on having the marine pure plate on the bottom and chaeto in the fuge as well. I may add broken up leftover pieces of rock into the fuge when I cycle everything. Once system is cycled and fish are in for a month or so I will add chaeto and pods, probably start dosing phyto as well at that point. Would it be safe to add rotifers as well?

Lastly, I would add the wrasse.
Sweet...One of the fish I was looking forward to!

Also, instead of the blue mandarin you could try a green/target mandarin or a scooter/ruby red dragonet as they seem to take to frozen/prepared foods much easier.
The reason I chose the blue mandarin is because i couldnt find a green mandarin that was CB. Biota says their CB blues take prepared food regularly, I would still add pods though...
 

MaxTremors

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
1,029
Reaction score
1,515
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Boise
My wife and I decided on the royal gramma. Would it be safe to get a pair as long as they were for sure a pair?
It is possible to keep pairs so long as they are a pair, but keep an eye for aggression, just because they are paired doesn’t mean they will stay that way. The other thing to think about is that they get pretty big and it’s usually recommended that you have at least a 50g tank to keep two, but I think as long as you have a lot rockwork and hiding places 40g would probably be adequate.

You can keep more than one type of goby, but watchmans can be territorial, so I’d only keep one (there’d still be aggression between different species of watchmen). The Jawfish should be okay with the watchman, though I’d do at least 3” of substrate, which so long as you have plenty of sand sifters (watchman and jawfish included) you should be okay (nassarius snails, conchs, and sand sifting starfish - wait until your tank is well established for those).

The Blue Mandarin should be fine in terms of the size of your tank, just make sure it’s well established (like at least 6 months), especially since you’re starting with dry rock. I would definitely seed it with some real live rock as well as added bottled pods. IME, the pods from live rock are just more prolific, bottled pods seem to just get eaten and have a hard time establishing themselves (I’ve seen people having to add a bottle of pods a week to keep a mandarin fed, which gets expensive). Really try to get it eating prepared foods, though, if you can square away the food part, they’re really pretty hardy fish.

And again with the wrasse (six-lines are one of my favorites too), the only reason I mentioned adding it last (besides aggression issues, which I think would probably only be an issue with the royal gramma, it’s close enough in shape and color to the wrasse) is that you want to make sure that the mandarin has enough to eat since the wrasse spends the day picking off pods and other microfauna.

If I’m counting correctly, that’d put you at 12 fish (2 clowns, 4 cardinals, 2 grammas, goby, jawfish, mandarin, and wrasse), which is probably over the max limit for a 40 gallon. I would try to cut it down to ten (if it were me, I’d cut one gramma, and the jawfish or mandarin - the jawfish because of substrate requirement or the mandarin because of the feeding difficulties), especially if you plan on keeping corals. If you decide to go with all twelve, the issues are going to be making sure that you have enough hiding places in your rockwork while also having enough open swimming area in order to lessen the likelihood of aggression and to ensure that your refugium/biological filtration is productive enough to adequately export nutrients because you’ll need to feed pretty heavy to avoid aggression.
 
OP
J

JonCherba

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
9
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Amarillo
If I’m counting correctly, that’d put you at 12 fish (2 clowns, 4 cardinals, 2 grammas, goby, jawfish, mandarin, and wrasse), which is probably over the max limit for a 40 gallon.
I could definitely drop down to a trio of cardinals, 1 gramma, no jawfish (due to substrate requirements)...so that brings me down to 9 fish...That should be much better.

I'm sure since the Mandarin is second to last fish being added it will be well over 6 months. I plan on QT for 60 days or so...I'm hoping to culture phyto, pods, maybe rotifers as well so that I can dose the tank as often as needed without costing too much. I'll probably use a dosing pump for the phyto to be honest.
 
Avast

MaxTremors

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
1,029
Reaction score
1,515
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Boise
I could definitely drop down to a trio of cardinals, 1 gramma, no jawfish (due to substrate requirements)...so that brings me down to 9 fish...That should be much better.

I'm sure since the Mandarin is second to last fish being added it will be well over 6 months. I plan on QT for 60 days or so...I'm hoping to culture phyto, pods, maybe rotifers as well so that I can dose the tank as often as needed without costing too much. I'll probably use a dosing pump for the phyto to be honest.
The mandarin is a fish I wouldn’t QT. I know some people may risk it, and there is a protocol for it
( https://humble.fish/community/index.php?threads/difficult-fish-to-qt-guide.56/ ), but personally, I wouldn’t risk it. They are one of the more disease resistant genus, and the problem with QTing them is feeding them (which is very important when QTing). Unless you get captive bred that is already eating prepared foods (which they may abandon in a stressful QT environment), even if you add pods, it’s tough to get them to eat off a clean bare bottom tank. Also, if you medicate, certain medications will kill copepods (and any other live foods). Personally, I just wouldn’t risk it, but if you do, make sure to have a decent supply of pods on hand, and then also try and offer live brine shrimp, black worms, and/or white worms. I wouldn’t add phyto to the QT tank (just going to add to ammonia), I would culture the foods separately. To encourage them to eat live foods, if they won’t eat off the bare glass bottom, you can also put a little sandwich size tupperware container in the QT tank with some clean substrate in it and put all of the live foods on that so it has a somewhat natural place to hunt and pick off pods/brine/worms (white worms will stay alive in saltwater for quite a while, so I would get a culture going a month or two before getting the mandarin, that way you always have something on hand that it’ll eat). If you end up medicating, and it’s not eating frozen foods, the main issue is that it’s going to go 10-14 days without food (since most meds will kill everything they eat), so it’s really dependent on the individual and if it’s fat enough to endure that long without food.

It’s definitely a debatable topic, some people are militant with their QTing, some people don’t QT at all, and some only QT certain species. I didn’t QT for almost 20 years and have only recently started (but I’ve always tried to keep up with the newest protocols), and I don’t know whether I’ll stick with it. Over the years I haven’t had all that many fish losses to disease (far more to aggression, or getting eaten by inverts other fish), and so I don’t know if I’m thoroughly convinced that QTing leads to less fish loss. I read here of so many people losing fish in QT, and the percentage is far more than I’ve ever lost to disease by not QTing, though I also haven’t lost any in QT yet. I’m going to stick with QTing for the time being, but I think I’m more on the side of managing disease than trying to fully prevent it (which I’m not sure is even possible). So, it’s really up to you (sorry for the novel), but for me, I don’t think I’d QT a mandarin.
 

BelieveInBlue

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
210
Reaction score
190
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
BC
If you really want a wrasse, I recommend a pink streak or some type of possum wrasse. Keep in mind however that most wrasses will eat pods, which directly competes with the mandarin.

Side note on the gramma: they're protogynous (female to male) hermaphrodites, so if you buy two small ones you'll probably end up with a pair. Good way to tell is that males have longer fins, especially pelvic fins, and more purple, though this takes some time to develop so new males may not show it clearly. They also change sex pretty quickly from what I hear, which can cause problems, especially if they're quarantined separately or one needs to be removed for medicating. In a 40b I'd recommend sticking with just one. There's enough sass to go around.
 
TSM Aquatics

What's the main reason you take on DIY reefing projects?

  • Save Money

    Votes: 67 33.0%
  • You Like To Make Things

    Votes: 70 34.5%
  • Necessity, you want it a certain way

    Votes: 54 26.6%
  • Time, you need it quick

    Votes: 3 1.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 9 4.4%
AFX
Top