Week 15: Adding saltwater fish intelligently and safely | 52 Weeks of Reefing

Week 15: Adding saltwater fish intelligently and safely | 52 Weeks of Reefing

Today on BRStv we are going to get a fish
in this tank. Hey guys my name is Ryan, welcome to another
week of the BRS 160 where every week we do our best to help you guys, members of the
reefing community enjoy your tanks and find new ways to explore the hobby. We do that
by following the set up and progression of this one hundred and sixty gallon reef tank. Today we are going to talk fish: not just
how to select your first fish but how to build a fish plan.
Quarantine options, acclimating your fish, a high level look at feeding and then show
you what we selected as the first fish for the BRS160 There are all kinds of things to consider
when you are stocking the tank, you really need to consider the must haves and work your
way back from there. For instance if an eel or lion fish are something you just have to
have it is probably going to have to be a dwarf species of lion or dwarf golden moray
so they don’t eat your fish. Even then you are probably ruling out smaller fish, shrimp,
or crabs. In fact if you really like shrimp and crabs
there is a whole host of fish like many wrasses and hawkfish which are basically off the table.
If you really want a mandarin at some point you need to skip fish like Coris wrasse which
will likely out-compete it for food. The first part of the plan is really about
the size and how many fish for your tank. As size is concerned most fish stores or online
vendors will be able to tell you pretty easy if the size of the fish is appropriate for
the tank. Keep in mind this advice is generally on the liberal side and should really be considered
a maximum. There is one big exception to that rule. If
you are willing to give the fish back to the store when it gets too big or trade it with
someone you know there is no reason you can’t put a juvenile fish in a tank which is smaller
than the adult version would live in. In fact within the couple years that it takes to outgrow
the tank you might even upgrade to a larger tank. A yellow tang is a good example of that I
personally have no issues with putting a small yellow tang in a sixty gallon cube or seventy
gallon tank. If you start fairly small it will likely be years before it outgrows the
tank and it is normally pretty easy to find homes for a healthy tang. Make sure it isn’t a species that doesn’t
grow disproportionately fast and try not to be reckless but you can bend the rules if
it is part of a long term plan and the health of the fish is part of that plan. There are a ton of rules about how many fish
which are decent guidelines but I have never met a single reefer who actively follows them
religiously. Most of us want as many fish as possible but every fish you add generally
increases the need for water changes, potential for nutrient issues like algae growth. Too many fish, especially of the same type
also reduces potential habitat and competition for food sources. When you are making your
fish plan consider amount of available habitat. There are three basic areas in the tank. Sand
dwellers like gobies, fish who like to perch on surfaces like hawk fish and fish that spend
most of their time in open water like tangs, chromis and anthias. Try spreading the fish
you select over the various habitats available in your aquascape. It’s also wise to try and avoid fish which
are going to out-compete each other for food like the Coris wrasse and mandarin or get
aggressive about food sources like tangs which graze the rock for algae. The first wave of fish should be fairly hardy
fish, if the fish is labeled expert only or costs five hundred dollars it’s also probably
a poor choice. Ideally your first fish should also not require a ton of food for a couple
reasons. First because the tanks biological filtration really isn’t stable yet, even with
ideal cycling. Second because food turns into nutrients which can feed algae growth common
with new tanks which is obviously something we want to avoid. Fish from the damsel family are more tolerant
of new tanks and potential ammonia spikes which make them ideal for the newer reefer
who has little experience with properly cycling tank. The most popular damselfish of coarse
is the clownfish and something almost every new reefer ends up with. Any time you add fish make sure to monitor
your ammonia levels. A really good rule of thumb is to never more than double your fish
or food load in a month which if followed you likely will avoid ammonia related issues.
If you would like to be really in touch with your biological filtration and the impacts
off adding new fish that Seneye monitor we talked about a couple weeks ago among other
things will provide real time ammonia readings and email you anytime things are off track. That fish wave of fish or shortly after is
a good time to add your more timid fish that can really benefit from not being bothered
while they establish some territory. Shrimp and goby pairs, clown gobies, dartfish, blennies
and basslets are good examples. The next wave is generally fish that serve
a purpose in newer tanks primarily eating algae or pests common in new tanks. Lawnmower
blennies, rabbit fish maybe a dwarf angel if you are willing to risk it nipping at corals
later. Next I would add anything you don’t consider
aggressive to other fish and you want to add to the tank, chromis or anthias schools, reef
safe wrasses, some hawkfish really anything from your tanks fish plan that isn’t aggressive. After that it is time for aggressive fish
that will actively go after territory, protect food sources and attract similar species in
the tank. Tangs are probably biggest example of this. It is just a good idea to always
add aggressive fish last. This way all of the more timid fish have already established
their territory and it will be less stressful for them. This is even more important if you plan on
adding multiple aggressive species like a few tangs to the same tank. You are way more
likely to have success if you add them at the same time. This is especially true of
tangs from the same species family. If you add them at separate times the chances of
the first one attacking the second later addition are pretty high. In my experiences as long as the tank is appropriately
sized and there is a stable food supply added together as juveniles the chances multiple
tangs will get along are pretty good. In many cases a school of three to five or more in
large tanks will do better than two as well because it allows a chance to diffuse aggression. This is also the case with our office clown
harem tank were three or four clowns added separate times is almost always ends in disaster.
However adding thirty at a juvenile state combined with proper habitat and stable food
source has been a recipe for success. A harem like this will always have a somewhat aggressive
nature to it as they squabble for dominance but it is diffused and typically not focused
on a single individual. Last wave of fish are those that require established
systems to have high survival rates mandarin gobies and sand sifting gobies are good examples
of that because both of these require developed and sustainable microfauna population to survive. Once you have selected your fish it’s time
to discuss one of the more hotly debated topics, quarantining your fish. Fact is fish come
with all kinds of diseases and parasites on them and if you stay in the hobby long enough
the chances you will run into one is fairly high. There are two basic types of quarantine system
the first is more or less just an observation tank. Easiest way to set this up is to keep
a sponge or some filtration media like marine pure in the sump. When you need to set up
your quarantine tank remove the media and add it to the quarantine tank. This will likely keep the ammonia in check
but you should absolutely test it daily for the first week or so to make sure. If you
happen to have something like the Seneye I would personally take it off my main tank
and put it in the quarantine tank during this time. More or less just observe the fish for
a month or so and if you see no signs of disease or parasites add them to the tank. The second quarantine system designed to treat
fish with medications like copper regardless of signs of disease, often starts with a freshwater
or medicated dip which will cause many parasites to release on their own and then weeks to
a month in the medicated tank to insure the fish is safe for the tank. The nature of this
type of quarantine makes it obviously much more successful than simple observation. Here is where the debate comes in while quarantining
your fish is obviously a good idea from the perspective of preventing the introduction
of disease to the tank throwing fish into an unstable tank that was just set up often
with low salinity or full of harsh medications also has its own mortality issues. There absolutely
is a learning curve to designing, setting up and maintaining a quarantine system properly.
Some fish will likely die that would have otherwise made it if they had been added directly
to a healthy stable tank. And like any other best practice there is
often budgetary and space constraints that might prevent success. If you don’t have the
space or money that about sums it up, end of discussion. Even if you do have the money
is this the best place to put your time and resources. You could argue all day on the
merits of an aquarium controller or quarantine system being more likely to be the best expenditure
of money to protect your system or home. End of the day my advice is best practice says
you should quarantine. Every type of fish is best served with a different method of
quarantining and medications so do your research and protect your tank. For everyone else don’t worry it is very
possible to have a successful reef tank without a quarantine system and you are almost certainly
in the majority of reefers out there. There are many other ways you can reduce the chances
of introducing disease or parasites into the tank. First one is being picky where you buy
your fish from. Find a fish store you trust, the staff knows
their stuff, it’s clean and they obviously care about the business and health of the
animals. Even better if they can show you the quarantine system they use prior to putting
the fish on sale to you. In person you can closely inspect the fish which is the most
important step of buying a healthy fish and why buying online is such a gamble. If you buy fish online it is much more important
to have a proper quarantine system because you don’t know what you are getting and because
if a fish does come slightly sick most of reefers don’t have the heart to flush it so
they throw it in the tank anyways and risk the lives of all the other fish in the tank
which is obviously a bad move. Another common method of preventing disease
or parasite introduction is a few minute freshwater dip before adding the fish to the tank. Most
fish can tolerate freshwater for short periods of time but many invertebrate can’t so they
either die or fall right off the fish. In addition to this many reefers will also medicate
the dips as well. Make sure to research how your specific fish tolerates freshwater and
medications before dipping them. Beyond that maintaining a stable reef tank
with ample habitat, husbandry and nutrition is one of the best ways to make sure your
fish stay healthy. there is also equipment like UV sterilizers we covered in detail in
week fourteen which sterilize the water and reduce the pathogens and chances of an outbreak,
not a replacement for quarantining but a solid preventive measure for those with the space
and cash to implement a sterilizer. Most of you are familiar with acclamation
more or less you just replace small amounts of water so the chemistry in the bag matches
that in your tank and reduce stress. If you are going dip you would want to do this before
that. I think the easiest way to do this is to throw the fish specimen container , hang
it on a five gallon bucket and drip water from the tank into the container until you
have changed over three to four times the water volume . Bigger fish you can do directly
in the bucket. One really important element here you do not
want a single ounce of that water in your tank because you don’t know if the store or
online shop uses copper or other meds and you do not want to add them directly to the
tank. So pour the fish out into a net or something suitable for your particular fish over the
bucket and then add the fish only to the tank. Last piece of this is you now have a new fish
so you have to feed it. We are going to do an in-depth episode on foods so super high
level you can choose from dry options like flake and pellets as well as frozen foods.
Most reefers prefer pellets over flake because they sink rather than go down the overflow.
A few of my favorite pellets are the Hikari, Elos and Fauna Marin. The thing about pellets is they are super
convenient because you can store them right next to the tank but they are very nutrient
dense so a little goes a long way. You can pollute the tank really easy with foods like
this so be careful. This is particularly true with automatic feeders
which dump the pellets in for you. It is super easy to add too much and pollute the tank.
Automatic feeders great tools especially for fish that need a stable consistent source
of food like anthias or if you are out of town a lot but beware they can ruin a tank
just as easy by rapidly increasing nitrate and phosphate levels with extra food. Frozen foods are much less nutrient dense
because they contain a lot of water but they are often much palatable and similar to a
fishes natural food source than pellets. Because they are much less nutrient dense it is much
harder to overfeed and great for new reefers as well. Hikari Mysis is one of the most popular
options out there. So what did we select for the BRS160? We decided to start with a handful of firefish
we picked up at a local store I like a lot called saltwater empire because they freshwater
drip almost everything that comes into the store. Quarantine everything for a week in
the back and the systems are medicated. I know they care about the animals and the reefers
who come in there. We selected X fish because This is more fish than you might add typically
but we did a really solid job cycling the tank with the red sea reef mature pro kit,
have a ton of filtration media with the media pure and the Seneye monitor we installed will
give us real time ammonia updates so we can treat the water if needed and if we need to
move any of the fish I have twenty or so tanks here so that’s no problem. I am going to get blasted for this in the
comments area for sure; we are not going to quarantine the fish because I just don’t have
the space in the studio or available time to set up another tank and monitor it daily. I really strongly considered moving the Seneye
to a new tank so I didn’t have to monitor the quarantine as closely and do test kits
every day but open and honest I have just seen more fish stress out and die in quarantine
than I have seen disease outbreak in tanks. A lot of reefers feel otherwise and based
on their experiences I’d say they are equality right. This hobby is about fifty percent proven
methods and fifty percent personal experiences emulating your own and others you trust successes. Between buying them from a store I trust who
freshwater dips, quarantines and medicates already and the medicated dip I am going to
do here before addition, the giant oversized sterilizer rated for a tank three times as
big as this one and stable healthy system we are putting them in I think we have done
our due diligence at protecting the tank. This tank is officially live now. We have
our first batch of fish next week we are going to talk evaporation and auto top off solutions.
After that protein skimmers and then five weeks of lighting. You don’t want to miss
any of this so hit that subscribe button. If you are interested in learning more about
any of the products we talked about today checkout this link, see you next week with
episode sixteen of the BRS160 Auto top offs.


  1. What about a clean up crew? Are you going to discuss that? Also how about a refugium? Won't firefish eventually kill each other off until only one is left?

  2. What type of preventative medication would you recommend for a Yellow Tang? I always QT my new fish with Seachem Paraguard but I know Tangs can typically come with more harmful diseases like Ich. I know copper treatment like Cupramine is a popular option, but I'm not sure how much and how long to treat for. Thanks.

  3. so after a week of my 10 gallon beeing empty i added bio spira and then added a damsel now is day 9 i tested everything this is what i got. ph between 7.8 to 8.0, amonia 0 ppm, nitrite 0ppm, nitrate 0 ppm is this normal?? please i need help since im new to this u can see on my videos what im running

  4. Love this series and this build. I myself am constantly learning something from you over brs, which is excellent for when I finally start my own reef tank in the next few months!

  5. I have yet to have a fire fish not jump out of the tank. Do you think adding multiple fire fish will have more success. I have some netting I can use. But I'd prefer not to. Also, what type of more aggresive fish will you be adding down the road that wont freak the fire fish out.

  6. If the dealer did quarantines and the freshwater dipping your fish should be okay. Personally I had not heard about freshwater dipping before, sure seems like an effective tool. Good luck! 🙂

    Also I like that you chose Firefish, I have always liked the way these guys look.

  7. great video – i got some great ideas! thanks! oh, and as far as a quarantine tank goes … we use our refugium every now and then 🙂 it's 10 gallons and does a pretty great job since our 145 gallon system is stable already and we don't wanna turn the house into a fish farm 😀

  8. How do you guys feel about short quarantines in a 5-gal? I was planning on getting one, and using water taken from the display so the parameters match. Was considering keeping a cleaner shrimp on hand for it.

  9. would this list work for a jbj 45 rimless with oceanreveive t247
    2 Clowns
     2 blue green chromis
     High fin goby and pistol shrimp
     Royal gramma
     Yellow watchman goby

    10 Nassarius Snails
    10 Cerith Snails
    5 Turbo Snails
    5 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
    5 Mexican Red Leg Hermit Crabs
    2 skunk cleaner shrimp

  10. Personally, I always QT fish for minimum 4-6 weeks with some exceptions. I also like to do a Freshwater dip. And I swear by QT'ing them in Microbe Lift Artemiss and Herbtana. Both of these products are reef safe and I've successfully treated my system with them with no ill affects as well. I also like to add powdered ginger and fresh garlic to the thawed/rinsed frozen fish food.

  11. What is the name of that dark blue fish at 4:47? And does adding crabs or snails still count as doubling the amount of fish?

  12. How long could a 10 gallon tank be maintain set-up like the one 0:30? Considering it would be fish less most of the time. Would water changes still be necessary when empty?

  13. Hi, my family wants to buy a cuttlefish, we researched about everything but don't know where to buy one, could you help me find a place to buy a dwarf cuttlefish? 😉 please respond as soon as possible 😉 thank you. -sincerely Emma

  14. +BRS,Prefect,just the channel I needed,going to start a reef tank and what a wealth of knowledge here,so much input,I take my hat off,thank you!Going to start within the month,so I imagine I'll watch everyone of your videos,sounds like you can never have enough knowledge

  15. Another awesome vid. Just wondering if you've had any jumpers with the fire gobies yet mate. I notice there are no lids on the tank.

  16. Hi I have a 10 gallon nano aquarium boyu I have been very carefull watching. And controling the chemistry and salinity of my tank Bután always any fish I put in last very few days maximum 20 days What aré my mistake

  17. Hey my name is Chris and I've decided that I want to start a saltwater reef tank this is all new to me and I would love if you could guide me through it as I set up my tank so I feel more confident and make sure my aquarium is safe

  18. Know this is late, but on the part of you not QT'ing the fish. Considering they was first additions, could you not argue that the DT could be classed as a QT if you're holding off further additions for a while? If they do show signs as long as you don't treat with copper you should be ok? (Considering getting into marine / reef tanks so more of a question)

  19. I have a 12 gallon nano cube and I just got my yellow watchman goby yesterday. he's the only guy in the tank. I was going to get a tiger pistol shrimp today so they can hopefully pair up, but why do you guys reccomend never more then double the fish amount in a week?

  20. You're saying to add fish at the same time but how do you do that once the tank is established?! Quarantining 5 tangs at once would be impossible. Adding them at once would also be impossible considering your other videos, the types of incompetence in reefing. I don't want to get those fish sick or risk them getting sick and then all the OTHER tank inhabitants getting sick in turn. Would it be easier in the long run to just quarantine the fish initially in the display tank (add them all as juveniles and at the same time) and then add the more peaceful fish later even though it's not recommended. I just don't think that the amount of tangs you recommended to add at once (4-5) would be able to be quarantined in the same tank (small quarantine system, not the display tank), they'd fight to the death.

  21. When quarantining fish, do you always treat the fish assuming they have a disease? Or do you inspect for 4 weeks then if you see a problem within that time you treat the fish?

  22. I have a 130g tank. Can I add a tomini tang, and a square tail tang to this tank? they will be introduced at the same time. (20g QT, then to DT)

  23. I just bought a peninsula 20 and I want to keep a fuzzy dwarf in it and if I could keep other fish it would be nice it will be ready for the bio load 20 pounds of live rock,20 pounds of sand matrix, ghost protein skimmer and a diy cheato reactor and if necessary a drop algae scrubber but the main questions are
    1.) could you put a fuzzy dwarf lion fish in the 20 gallon tank
    2.) if kept well fed could I also keep a flame angel and clown with it if the flame angel gets to big I will do orchid dottyback

    P.S. you guy have awesome customer service keep up the great work.

  24. Hi Ryan, would a 10 gallon quarantine tank be good enough or should I get a bigger size tank? I have a 40 gallon tank i'm preparing.

  25. If I want to add a new fish from the store by freshwater dipping, should I acclimate the fish first with my tank water/temp or Dip it then acclimate to my tank water/temp?? I haven't seen anything specifically stating that online and want to make sure I don't stress them out anymore than I have to. BTW – These are clowns.

  26. Does it matter if you start with fish or corals as the new tanks first addition? Can you do them at the same time? I know for bio-load reasons, we just add a few fish at a time. Is there a rule about how many types of corals you can add at the same time? Loving these videos. About to make the jump into a reef tank.

  27. If anyone seriously thinks you didn't take enough precautions before introducing that fish that's insane. Plus you usually DO quarantine. In this situation the fish came from a fish store you trust and know, where it was quarantined and medicated there. Plus you did another dip of your own. Totally fine

  28. Hi! =) One question, do I need to cycle my quarantine tank? Some say yes others say no. I was thinking of putting a fish into QT while my DT is cycling. For my QT I have bought the Tunze Comline Filter 3162 for filtration, but not sure if that would be enough, or what I can put into the filter bag (i did get some active carbon for it unless I need to medicate).

    Since I'm new to this I want to QT all my fish, so I would probably add one or two creatures every month to my DT, meaning I will have a quarantine tank running at all times. If I need to cycle it first I should get that going now, haha. And do I need to change the water between each fish for quarantine?

    When can I add some clean up crew? Do I need to have had fish for a while first, or can I add a few snails etc with the first fish after the cycle? And do I need to QT the clean up crew? This seemed to be something people had different opinions on, some said no QT needed, others say QT absolutely everything, some say you need to have fish for a while before adding CUC, others say as soon as cycle is done.

    Also Firefish is on my list of critters I want, so after seeing this video I will add it first as well 🙂

  29. So, since a sand shifting gobi needs time to establish territory, is it okay to add it early on? maybe if you use live sand or something…

  30. I put my fish in a bag floating on the water, every 5 minutes I get 2 cups of water from the bag, pour it into the tank. then I take 2 cups from the tank and put it into the bag. I repeat that 3-5 times then I put the fish/invertebrates into my tank, is this efficient or harmful to the fish or invertebrates

  31. You state to take a marine pure block out and put in your QT tank but after you are finished with the QT do you replace the MP block with a new one or can you clean it and put back in your sump?

  32. I smashed the like button when you said you didnt quarantine the fish. Your obviously an honest and genuine dude. Thanks for the killer vids

  33. Hey so I have been in the freshwater side of the hobby for about 4-5 years. I have previously owned countless 30 gallons, a 55 gal and more recently a 125 gallon. Theres a pretty sweet deal on craigslist right now for a 220 gallon with a 55 gallon sump for 600 bucks. Im thinking to sell my 125 and use some extra savings on it. Just wondering what stocking would be good? I definitely
    want a reef with soft and sps, as well as inverts. I want some fish with big personality and not too small although i love clownfish, gobies, dottybacks, etc. I think the reason for this is bc i wanted to switch to salt for
    a while and those are good fish for a small tank. I love to research as it is fun for me to learn so i think i can handle a decent challenge. Any ideas? thanks… sorry for
    being too broad. Lots of fish out there lol

  34. in 30 years of fish keeping I have  never quarantined and I never medicate fish , I have found the best treatment for any fish is good water parameters and stress free environment. Most fish diseases are symptomatic of bad parameters and stress and disappear quickly when these two things are covered. ICH white spot and most parasites are always present, bad parameters and stress will compromise the fishes immune system and then they will take hold.

  35. I honestly like to cycle with Dr Tim's live bacteria and a dose of ammonium chloride then just wait a week or 2. Safest way to make sure no ammonia

  36. I've seen several videos where you keep mentioning Ammonia as the only waste toxic product to be aware of, nitrites are not much of concern?

  37. Hello I have a few questions if you could plz help the dwarf lion you showed was a fuzzy dwarf correct? As for keeping a fuzzy with a mandarin do you think that would be an issue won’t be the only 2 fish and it’s a 125 6 foot tank last question can I keep fairy wrasses with mandarins

  38. Honestly I started watching this channel just for the intro "today on brs tv!" Gets me hype about reefing lol but very good information

  39. Is it possible to have to big of a Skimmer like a Red Sea RSK-600 in a 55 gallon tank? And would you be able to put like a fish or 2 extra if you have a bigger skimmer? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.