Stocking for a 30 gallon with 20 gallon refugium Soft Corals/Macroalgae

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Picture didn’t upload yesterday, bad signal at work.

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Since I have switched from macro algae to bta’s I have been contemplating on changing up my entire livestock. I miss it when it was just the pair of clowns and they would explore the whole tank. Also have noticed the floor dipping down a tad since adding the extra sand.

I really doubt a pair of ocellaris clownfish will be enough of a bioload to sustain bta’s and have noticed the goby getting extremely territorial lately. Would have to do it slowly but I debate on getting my sand depth back to the 1-2” range to gain some water volume and cut down the weight.

When I was debating on going with bta’s initially while I was planning the tank I was think of just a pair of blood orange clownfish to themselves. Seems like a much easier task to manage two bigger fish and a bunch of bta than bta’s and 6 different fish.

Anyone have any advice? Definitely think my sand bed is overkill, even if I cut it in half it would be worthwhile to gain some water volume back. About 25-26 gallons at the moment give or take with the filters, would like to get the volume closer to 30 gallons.
 
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gonna go slow and pull sand out with the gravel vacuum slowly as well as catch the goby and pistol shrimp. Will see how the rest of livestock reacts to the extra swimming room and the goby out of the tank. Clowns are my favorite but the banggai cardinals are a close 2nd. Maybe that will balance things out, I was a bit overstocked anyways.
 
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Didn’t try to catch the goby and pistol, just pulling sand out was enough work. Got it down to 1-1.5”, hopefully the extra swimming room will help with the territory disputes. Stirred up a bunch of air pockets so I changed about 15-18 gallons of water give or take at the same time, roughly 21 gallons of fresh saltwater.

Worst part is I just realized gha started taking off on the back glass, think it started in the fuges. Foolishly turned the yellow lights on in the fuges last week, explains why cheato growth slowed down. I shut all red and white lights off on both lights and put the koralias at the water surface for extra flow.

bta seems to be doing okay, it’s my biggest concern at the moment. Watching it closely to see if it decides to move. Gotta swing by the store and pick up some plastic mesh and zip ties to make guards for the wave pumps. With whites off I may end up having the turn the blues and violet up, peak lighting period is 75% at the moment.
 
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Picked up 4 turbo snails and a foam filter insert for an ac110 for nem guards on the koralias. Not the prettiest but should do the trick. The rbta seems to like the extra room to stretch out, have blues and violet at 90% and brought the white back up to 30%.

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Well that was a chore and a half, got all 6 fish out and rehomed, even managed to get the pistol shrimp out. Fingers crossed it works out okay but just placed the order for 2 Blood Orange Clownfish and a red tuxedo urchin from Ora, coming in Thursday. Probably could get away with a third fish bioload wise but I would just assume let them have the whole tank to themselves.
 
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Hmm, my brother, whose also my landlord, plans to get working on my mud room/entryway pretty soon. Will be same vinyl flooring as upstairs but on top of the cement slab.

Blood orange clowns can have the little 30 gallon tank in the living room, it’s not really big enough to do much of a community stocking. I’m thinking of a possible 125 gallon downstairs next spring. Not quite sure what I will put in it, still want to stick with all captive bred. Don’t want to break the bank either, livestock’s gonna be expensive with the fish I’m looking at.

Purple tangs on algae barn, marine bettas on la and coral beauty angels on either keep catching my eye. Maybe a pair of ocellaris, banggai and a group of pjs but that would make me want to do pairs on the big fish too. Possible mandarin, not sure what else I could consider. All ideas and brainstorming at the moment, my brother might say no to another tank or increase my rent. Lol

had debated on a clown harem with ocellaris but not sure how logical it would be on a long term basis. Will have to think on it a good while, that’s a lot of money in livestock.
 
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Started running the numbers in my head and thinking ocellaris clownfish harem and filling it with splits from my rbta would be the most logical option. Maybe keep mollies in it for six months till it’s ready for nems and 20 clowns. Possibly one big fish to help keep them line but I’ll have to research it more. Hard to even foresee how it would work out long term, especially since none of us are ever in that room except to pass through it.
 
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The blood orange pair made it in and are settling in nicely, only a bit of pecking, no major aggression. Both are exploring the tank, one was in the rbta within an hour. Will try to get some pictures this weekend. Pushing the 125 onto the back burner, might happen someday but probably not anytime soon. Hard to justify all that money to put a tank in a room we never spend time in.
 
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Decided to add a six line wrasse to top the stocking off, missed the flash of color darting through the rocks. Pretty sure I falsely accused the last one of killing 4 shrimp, good chance it was one of the two pistol shrimp. The extra feedings of dry food are barely keeping nitrates at 5 and I’ve only been running the blue lights on the fuge.

Imagine the bristle worms are having a field day with the extra food so the six line will be busy. Turned the white lights back up to 20% on the display, bta was stretched halfway up the tank and turning red and white back up slowly in the fuge. Need to get the cheato growing before it dies and trying to improve ph at night, 8.0 with the windows open so getting better.

Will get pictures with the white lights on later but looking good and getting along, not quite paired off yet though. She won’t let him near the bta. I may still be a beginner even with a year and a half experience considering I’m still learning as I go but I’ve been noticing a trend with beginners on here lately.

See a lot of people asking for advice on their tanks and the fish they have in them and ignoring the advice they don’t want to hear. Starting to see why peta wants to shut down this hobby, some people don’t take it seriously and give everyone else a bad name. Doesn’t help there are lfs that will sell anything to anyone to make a sale but people should have the common sense to research any living creature they consider buying.
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Well that sucks, have had good luck with live aquaria mostly so far but guessing my order got delayed since I didn’t get a shipment notification. Hopefully they email me back in the morning and let me know what’s going on.

Heading to the lfs tomorrow for saltwater, rodi and a purple short spine pincushion urchin. Will try to avoid the urge to bring home a six line wrasse but if they have one close to the size of my blood orange clowns I might do it and tell la to cancel this order.

A few people suggested a pair with one much smaller but I think that would be a big gamble in a 30 gallon tank. Plus I’ve never seen one small enough to consider it a juvenile, usually 2-3” the ones I see in stores.

Granted I’ve had decent luck so far but I hate having livestock shipped.
 
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Haha getting tired of the empty spot in the living room so planning a simple 20 long, just basic Aqueon tank and stand, 2 ac110 for fuge, 2 240gph koralia nano, if I can find them, 20lbs life rock and 2lb special grade sand. 24" Marine 3.0 and green star polyps thinking a pair ocellaris clowns, not sure if I will do a third fish.

Still waiting to hear from LA on the six line wrasse for the 30, everyone locally is having a hard time getting them so not sure what is gonna happen there. I debate on just leaving it as just the blood orange clowns and hope they will work out their aggression issues on their own. There is one Petco I haven't tried to see if they have six lines but still waiting to hear from LA on what's going on with my order. Petco near me lost all their six lines due to a shipment delay, my lfs had one just it didn't look very healthy so it was on hold. Seems to be a rough time to find that fish, getting fish in general is tough right now.

Thinking I will forget the big tank downstairs, we don't spend anytime in that room and it would be way too much money. Gonna stick with the 30, plan out the 20 long and maybe convince my brother to allow a tank in my room. Got a big rugged stand that the 33 long would fit perfect on, maybe a pair of banggai with a group of pjs.
 
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Was actually plain white short spine pincushion urchins but good enough to get the job done. Go figure, I go to another lfs for a six line wrasse and another rbta, same place I got the last one, and they have a couple purple short spine pincushion urchins. This wrasse is huge, was just coming out of qt and still in copper.

Emptied the bag into a bucket and slowly added tank water, then netted the fish and rinsed it in a measuring cup on tank water. Really hoping no copper made it into the tank, just noticed a dead or molted emerald crab so I’m a bit nervous. Dumped a good variety of dry food in the tank to bump nitrates back up. Just did a 15 gallon water change to vacuum the sand and nitrates were only 5 before that.

Tempting to take a ride back over there tomorrow and grab one of the purple ones. May do another water change to be on the safe side.

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I might have to turn the royal blues off just long enough to take pictures and typing on a phone with autocorrect is a chore. Obviously I meant 20lbs sand not 2 lol. Think I missed a new food item there, pe mysis flakes, it’s on their website but not sure if they have it in store.

the male blood orange clown was finally in a nem for the first time, was in the new nem for a few minutes before the female chased him off. Going back tomorrow morning for pe mysis flakes, a purple short spine pincushion urchin and a third rbta. Aggression is toned down a bit and no issues with the six line. Seen them both swimming around with him a few times.

Plan is to fill the tank with this rbta anyways and they are all from the same split, they’ll pay for themselves eventually. I should start saving the plastic containers they send the nems in, when the tank runs out of room for rbta splits I’ll start trading them in towards my water and food. My usual lfs hasn’t had much for bta’s lately. Gonna bring whites up to 50% for the 8 hour peak period tomorrow, brought it from 35 to 45 today.
 
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Shot in the dark but ordered a cheap 550gph pump to hook the 15w uv sterilizer back up for a few days to see if it makes any improvements with what I think is diatoms in the sand bed. Turned the intensity on the fuge light up, trying to get some better growth out of the chaeto. Hoping everything is set in the tank for now, have to stop doing water changes so often. Will test nitrates periodically and do a w/c once nitrates are at a solid 10+ with just api for tests it's hard to say how close it is to a true 5 on nitrates.

So far I'm thinking the usual 15 gallons once a month may not work anymore since it exposes the top layer of rocks. All depends on where the nems are too but thinking 10 gallons might be the safer bet maybe every 3-4 weeks, will have to see where the nutrients go with time. If the chaeto growth starts improving that number might change, might be different once the clowns get some growth in. Will have to add a new set of test kits on to the shopping list, hoping to cut spending on the tank for a while. Would go right to a hanna checker if the reagents on the hr nitrate were readily available.

Took a good chunk of change to get the stocking situated, most expensive buying 3 rbta from the same split to give the male blood orange clown his own nem, at least till the female comes over. But aggression is really start to die down slowly, instead of hiding in a corner he hides in the nem, she goes after him every once in a while but with 3 nems she's a bit distracted and it's very minor each time, she charges at him and he shimmies then it's over. Plus a few splits and the trade in at the lfs and they will pay for themselves, might even be enough to cover rodi and saltwater depending on how often they split and how many I keep in the tank, want to give them room to grow but at the same time fill in some gaps. Really seems to nullify the aggression, female clown goes from angry to calm and diving through a nem in a split second.

The six line seems to mellow her out a bit too but he's also bigger at them moment, he's between 2.5-3", fat and looks good, seems to be the boss of the tank. Swims wherever he wants with no issues from either clown, think he kinda keeps the female in check a bit. Picked up some pe mysis flakes and nls probiotix regular size pellets, thinking of ordering the pe pellets soon and ON formual 1 pellets as well. Still trying to mix up the food and offer new things periodically to see what we can get them to eat.

May shut royal blues off long enough to get some good pictures one of these days, just don't want to stress the new nems. Almost consider if I have the blues too high but the new nems seem to like the lighting so I don't want to make any changes right off. Original nem added a month ago seems okay but he's got his foot stretched from the bottom of the rock up to about 6" up the rockwork most times, tends to shrivel up like when it was shipped once a day, may just be processing food.

Edit: Thinking about going with Nyos for the nitrate test kit, hard to judge if hanna hr checker is affordable with the reagents difficult to find.
 
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Well two lessons learned, 550gph pump was way overkill. The manufacturers chart doesn’t specify the flow rate for a smaller tank but I had a feeling those number were wrong. Pinched the hose with an alligator clip or whatever you call them, slowed the flow down enough that it’s not blowing sand all over now.

Other issue is I forgot to rinse it out when I took it down after the pico pump died. Saw a cloud of salt creep and my salinity shot up to 1.028, quickly brought that back down to 1.025.

I shut the fuge light off and gonna leave it off a few days, probably only gonna run the uv for 3 days to see if it makes any improvement on what I think is diatoms. The hose and pump are an eyesore in the tank, can’t see running it long term.

The blood orange clowns are picky eaters, really only going for frozen brine and mysis, got them to eat flakes if we soak them in tank water and a bit of garlic guard. Only about a week and a half they have been in the tank though. they went for freeze dried brine shrimp so might try freeze dried mysis, maybe a few other options like copepods or other meaty items.

Six line wrasse cruises all over picking at random things but hasn’t eaten anything we’ve offered but it’s only been in since Friday. Will probably try to add a few new food items to what I have, don’t want to bankrupt myself but also don’t want fish to starve if there is something I can get they will eat.
 
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Crap nitrates bottomed out, I had turned the fuge light intensity up last night not even thinking. That was dumb. Shut the light off for a few days anyways, will be throwing a bit of everything I have on dry food to bring it up.

Now it has me questioning if it was dinos or diatoms, nitrates were steady at 5 but I ended up doing another 10 gallon water change yesterday which probably brought them too low. Hopefully the cuc is good and hungry
 
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Threw out the rest of the chaeto, debating if I’m going to need to add a 4th fish or go with a slow growing macro like red ogo. Doing a blackout for 3 days, put trash bags around the tank. Not even sure what would work for a 4th fish, would have to be bigger and probably more aggressive than the six line and clowns.

Slight downside to using ac110s as fuges, seems to turn into a detritus trap regardless of how it’s setup. Gotta start putting them on low flow during feeding time and see if that helps. Worst case pull all the rubble rock and break it up into smaller pieces.
 
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