Let's see now how we can build a tank
Choosing the tank.
As I already said a tank must be more than 200 litter. All hobbyists should know already that it is
very common to do a mistake but the smallest the tank is, the greatest the danger exists for your fish
because in a big tank the parameters of water are more stable and you can eliminate the danger in
case of a mistake. And you should also take into consideration that taking care of a big tank takes less
time and effort. Despite all that, it is possible to build the ideal biological conditions even in a 100 litter
tank. As a general rule, every mistake in the maintenance has serious consequences.
You bring your tank home. The next step is to find a perfect place for it. You must
remember only two rules..
First : never put your tank near the window, because sunlight will increase unwanted
algae growing and it will raise the temperature levels, and we do not want that at all.
Second: keep it away from the doors because doors open very often and your fish can get
Well, when the right place is found it's time to fill your tank with water. You can do it
by using the rubber (bought from the pet store) , or you can use any other way you
prefer. Fill only half tank. Here we need to put salt within it so as to make the water
salty as it is in the ocean and the sea.
Personally I use two different kinds of salt.
If you fill half tank it should about 125 litter. You need about 4 kg of salt for the beginning. Sea's
salinity is 1.022-1.025 and the temperature is around 25 C. Put the salt in and put two power heads to
circulate the water. Turn on the heater in 25 C. and let it function for 24 hours.
The next day, measure the salinity with the hydrometer and the temperature with a thermometer and
if the special gravity is more than 1.025 add some fresh water if it is less then put a little more salt
and leave it for 2 more hours.
After that get the power head out of the tank.
At this point you need sand and crushed corals. The most important role of the aquaria bottom is to
provide additional vital space for bacteria that need oxygen in the upper levels and for the bacteria
that live without oxygen in the lowest levels. For the salt tank you need crushed corals because the
high content of oxide calcium contributes in the stabilization of the PH.
Some kind of fish like gobies need a zone of sand because during the night they use to hide in it. The
depth of the crushed coral and sand must be 6-10 cm. Crushed coral is dead coral from the reef sea's
which you can buy from the pet store, it's totally inexpensive . You need about 15 kg. Do not forget to
rinse it well under warm water before place it because of the rubbish and dust. Put the crushed corals
into the tank and above it put 20 kg aragonite sand or (live sand)( personally, I didn't buy it, but made
After your reef bottom is ready put back the power heads. One goes on the left side of the depth and the
other on the right. Make sure that they are not moving the sand. One or two cm above the sand
is a good place for them. At this point you have to buy some rock. Preferably live rock. Live rock is full
of live organisms mixed with sperm of invertible, microscopic crabs and shrimps. Also it is covered by
beautiful red, pink, and purple algae. In the beginning take about 5 kg live rock. The animals that live
on them will immigrate to the sand and make colonies there with the beneficial bacteria, and in a
while your sand will become live. (it worked fine for me and I didn't have to give more money in order
to buy live sand). The fish, the crabs and the other animals in the reef tank need places to hide. You
can easily create caves and places to hide with rocks such as lava, tufa and other. Just use water proof
non toxic silicone. You can decorate your tank by using your imagination. There is no limit in
creation........Under the rock constructions it is advisable to place Plexiglas in order to avoid the
breaking of the glass. Put your structure within and place the live rocks above.
So it's time to install the filter.
decided that suits you, tell the pet shop guy about the measurements of your tank and
buy one scale bigger ( for example a 250 litter tank needs 300 litter filter). The bigger
the better, as a general rule. Install your filter by using the instructions. Run the air
pump. Make sure that bubbles are going into the filter, because the beneficial bacteria need oxygen to
live and break down the wastes. Dichloride the water by using "stress coat" product which also consists
Aloe Vera, an ingredient that helps the fish. Then add into your tank at the first, second, seventh and
fourteenth day a product called " stress zyme" that helps in growing the beneficial bacteria .
stress coat stress zyme
In the end turn off the light for a week. Do not be afraid if during the "cycle" your live rocks loose
coralline algae. It will come back quickly.
Now let's discuss about reef tank lighting. Lighting is probably one of
the most important factors for a healthy tank and for the growing of corals . You have to realize that
all the animals on earth need light to grow and live. Corals themselves do not require any special
lighting .It is the one-celled algae, known as zooanthellia, that needs special lighting. The algae and
zooanthellia are obligatory symbiosis of each other. This algae is important to their host animals
because it removes toxic metabolic wastes products from the corals. The same waste products are
required nutrient for the algae. In return the algae produces glucose which is high energy food for
corals. For example , in the presence of bright light , the algae removes carbon dioxide from the water
and produces oxygen.
Corals do not live at the surface of the sea, but underneath, where the light is a little more blue. That's
why the 30% of tank lighting must be Blue. Totally you have to put 4-6 watt per 5 litter. So if the tank is
250 litter you need, 5 watt per 5 litter = 250 watt-260watt. 80 watt must be blue actinic light, and
170-180 watt white. Use neon lamps. They do not warm the water too much . (I do not write about
wavelength. It's not interesting at all. )
Make a 25% water change after a week has passed and add "stress zym".
For the water change you need a kind of a big canister filled with dichloride water where you will add
the salt and you will leave it so for 24 hours. A power head must be functioning within it. 24 hours is
enough time for the salt to melt and aerate. Because when you add salt in the water toxic gas is
produced. After the water change, test the PH, the ammonia and nitrite levels by using ph ,nitrate, and
nitrite tests. If still the ammonia, nitrate levels are high and if the PH level is less than 8.2 to 8.4 (which
is the natural levels) wait one more week and during it add "Reef Buffer" product or "sodium
carbonated". If the PH levels are above these parameters, then add the product "Ph Down " (usually it is
not necessary). And on the fourteenth day, test the water again, make 25% water change and use stress
zyme .Usually 2 weeks are fine if you are using stress zyme, if not ,then you have to wait 5-6 weeks. But
from my personal experience I couldn't wait I was impatient so I used the stress zyme and my filter
was ready in 10 days. Try the same if you want, but please test ammonia level before putting any fish
or invertible in the tank.
PH NITRITE NITRATE
REEF BUFFER PH DOWN
Here comes the most interesting part of the whole process. The big time has come. It's time to buy a
fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But don't get carried away, only one fish at a time. Before it, do not forget to
install the protein skimmer.
one False Percula, the common name is Ocelarius, and I call it Kuki. It is safe for reef and
invertebrates. Clownfish are not really good swimmers. In Nature they live in Anemones
because they are hosts of Anemones. Try to buy tank bred fishes because they are
harder than natural ocean fishes. I'll give you more information about clownfish in the
section about which fish and invertebrate are safe in a reef tank.
Choosing and acclimation of the fish and invertebrates.
For the first fish (and be careful only for the FIRST FISH) this acclimation method is just fine.
When introducing a fish to a new aquarium for the first time, or adding new fish to an existing system,
it is important to acclimate it to the new conditions. Allowing the new fish to slowly adjust to the new
temperature and water conditions reduces stress and helps avoiding outbreaks of disease. In the pet
shop observe the fish you want to buy.It shouldn't have any white spots or damaged skin, or have a
pale colour. It must be active, healthy , and vivid. Never buy fish unless you've seen it eating. That's
why it is very useful to choose a fish, give a deposit to the shop to keep it there for a week or two.
The steps for the acclimation of the FIRST FISH are the following:
1. Float the bag in the tank for about approximately 20 to 30 minutes (adjusts temperature). 2. Gently empty the bag into a 5 litter bucket. (make sure there is enough water for the fish)
3. Run a piece of air line tubing from the tank to the bucket. 4. Start siphon
5. Tie a knot in the tubing to control flow rate, adjust to 1-3 drops per second.
6. Allow to drip until the bucket has three or four times much water as when you started (should
take a couple of hours).
7. Gently net fish and place it in the tank.
This method is fairly simple and doesn't require a lot of work on your part, but it does require a little
DO NOT BUY A FISH IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FEW HOURS TO PROPERLY ACCLIMATE IT!
SLOWER ACCLIMATION = BETTER ACCLIMATION
Then observe the fish in the tank for about 10 days and make 10 % water change. Feed it two times per
day in the morning and in the evening as much as they consume in two minutes. Do not overfeed
them!!! Generally clownfish accept all kind of food live or frozen, flake food. Personally I feed my
fishes with frozen worms and twice a week with flakes.
It is advisable to use a quarantine tank for better acclimation, for disease treatment and for protection
of your main tank. Quarantine tank is a smaller tank (approximately 50 litters) with corner (sponge)
filter, heater, air pump. There you place a fish by following the above steps of acclimation except the 7.
Keep the fish in the quarantine tank for about 2 -3 weeks. This is a very wise move because in this way,
you eliminate the parasites and the diseases in the main tank, in case the fish is infected. If something
is wrong with the fish, you must provide the appropriate treatment for it. We will discuss disease
recognition and treatment in the section of Diseases. If everything is ok, put the fish in the main tank
following the above steps.
After 10 days it is time to buy some shrimps. One of the most common shrimp is Cleaner Shrimp.
|Parameters.||Preferable level.||Your tank levels.||Actions in case of inappropriate conditions.|
|KH||8-10 dKH||Increase with Reef Builder.|
|PH||8,0-8,5||Increase with Reef Buffer and decrease with "Ph Down".|
|Calcium||400-450 mg/l||Increase with "Calcium-Plus".|
|Ammonia||max. 0,2 mg/l||Add "Stress Zyme".|
|Phosphate||max. 0,1 mg/l||Hairy algae will consume phosphate and also change the activated carbon.|
|Salinity||1,022-1,025||Increase by adding salt and decrease by adding fresh water.|
KH test Ca test
I personally use products from the companies such as ReefChem, Sera.... I trust them because of personal experience.
Let's see now. We have one Ocelarius in the tank, two shrimps and a lot of snails and other creatures. It's time to buy a new fish and maybe the first coral or better an anemone for Ocelarius. If you decide to buy an Anemone you need to find which one is symbiotic with Ocelarius. In nature false percula host anemone is "stichodactyla gigantea" and "heteractis crispa". So you can ask your pet store guy to order for you the host anemone of the ocelarius if he doesn't have it in store, but they usually have. Make acclimation as you did for the fish and put gently the anemone in the tank. Ocelarius will watch it for a while and then go and sit on it. Sometimes it may take 2 or 3 days but at last clownfish will occupy the anemone. Let's see now what other fish are safe for reef and not aggressive against the clown.
|fish||will co-exist||may co-exist||will not co-exist||notes|
|Angels, Dwarf||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Angels, Large||x||Large Angels may become territorial.|
|Anthias||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Assessors||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Basses||x||Adults may consume clownfish.|
|Batfish||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Blennies||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Boxfishes||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Butterflies||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Cardinals||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Catfish||x||Adults may consume clownfish.|
|Comet||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Cowfish||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Damsels||x||Best avoided except for large aquariums.|
|Dottybacks||x||Some Dottybacks are very aggressive and are best housed by themselves.|
|Dragonets||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Drums||x||Drums can be aggressive. Clownfish in first.|
|Filefish||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Gobies||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Grammas||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Lionfish, Scorpion fish||x||Adults may consume clownfish.|
|Triggerfish||x||Some trigger fish are incredibly aggressive clownfish at first|
|Wrasses||x||Should be excellent tank mates.|
|Waspfish||x||Adults may consume clownfish.|
So there is a time when you must decide by yourself what fish and what invertebrates to buy for your aquaria..
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Copyright © 2005 [Hakob Arakelian].