The lifespan pf many of the more popular fish we commonly keep in the hobby can surprise many people. Clownfish for example can commonly live up 15 years in captivity and many tangs can live up to 25 years.
Conscientious Marine Aquarist, 2008, Bob Fenner
Just a few ideas to think about when planning a FOWLR set-up. This is not the only way to set-up a great FOWLR aquarium, but it is my preferred way based on my experiences
This acrylic aquarium manufacturer has over 50 years of combined experience in acrylic aquarium design, manufacturing, filtration and construction of individually designed projects
The below links might also be helpful:
I’m the type of hobbyist that likes to keep things as simple as possible while maintaining the best possible water quality that I can. One of the more important parts of this is completing weekly water changes. I have found that completing a weekly water change of about 10% to 20% works well for maintaining trace element that will be consumed by corals and coralline algae while helping to prevent a buildup of nitrates and/or phosphates in the water. Depending on the amount and type of corals combined with the bioload of your fish, you can adjust the amount of your water change to have the same effect. I have found the less supplements you have to dose, the more stable your water will be. Weekly water changes allow me to achieve that without having to put a lot of effort and expense into dosing and testing trace elements.
The below links can add a little more details for you
Some people have asked me which substrate is best for their set-up. Below are some random thought on the subject that always come up in these conversations
1 – Why do you even need substrate ? You can go “bare bottom” saving yourself some money and a little extra work. Pros: less work, less expense. Cons: waiting for coralline to grow on the bottom, doesn’t look as natural as you can have with substrate
2- What are you planning to stock? If you are planning jaw fish or some of the sand sifting fish, then you need to have a substrate that meets the specific needs of those fish.
3 – What about Live Sand. In my experience, it is not worth the extra expense. As this product is placed in a sealed bag and potentially exposed to temperature extremes, you will get a very large die-off of the beneficial bacteria’s that will be there.
4 – What type of flow are you planning for your set-up. If you are planning a high flow set-up, then stay away from finer particle sand. The flow within the tank can move the substrate around if you are not careful
5 – Stay away from crushed coral or excessively large particle substrates. It is very easy to have debris collect in the cracks and crevasses in these types of substrate were your cleanup crew cannot get to it. Without a lot of extra substrate cleaning, this will lead to higher than normal nutrient levels over time.
6 – Do not use substrates meant for fresh water aquariums. These fresh water substrates (especially sand) will contain higher amounts of silicates than what is normally found in marine substrates. This will put higher levels of silicates in your water which in most cases will lead to a lot more diatoms and other algaes in your tank.
The below links can provide you with additional information
Many hobbyist just entering the hobby will have “sticker shock” when they see the prices for good quality live rock. Sometimes this will result in some people t trying to find the cheapest approach to filtration. This is the wrong approach to take. Cutting corners on your filtration will always result in long term difficulties. The below links can better explain what I mean
This is one lesson I had to learn the hard way many years ago. It can be very easy to get a fish that is carrying, or infected with, a disease in the very early stages making it very difficult (if not impossible) to visually see. I used to lose many fish to ick before I started using a quarantine tank. Many people skip this process and add new fish to their display tanks right away, using the agreement that quarantine new fish is too much work and expense. In my experience, the work and expense of dealing any type of disease in your main tank is just as costly and just as much effort as utilizing a quarantine set-up, however, it can prevent the loss of existing fish in your display tank.
The below link will provide you with some more detailed information
A while back I had started reading about fellow hobbyists completing a 3 day black out on their reef tanks every 3 months as a part of their routine maintenance. Starting about 6 months ago, I started blacking out my reef tank for 3 days every two months. There was no harmful effects to my SPS corals or my carpet anemone.
Some of the Identified Benefits Include:
-Slowing down algae growth
-Very effective to help get rid of cyano when used with other traditional control methods
-When done right, it can add a part of a natural cycle as seen in nature as it can simulate a bid storm without some of the negative effects
-In certain set-ups, it will help to slowly reduce the nitrates and phosphates as the inhabitants would experiences a slowed down metabolism allowing the nutrient removal processes in the aquarium to have a greater impact.
Some Tips for Best Results:
-Only turn off the tank lighting. Allow the ambient room light to hit the tank so you can feed your fish
-Keep all other equipment running on the set-up.
-Feed you fish about ¼ to 1/3 of the normal amount during the black-out period.
-On smaller tanks, carefully watch your pH levels as the level could drop very low in smaller set-up
-The approach works very well on set-up with refugium or algae scrubbers if you leave the lighting schedule the same for the refugium and algae scrubber
-Complete a larger than normal water change after the blackout due to any algae die-off can release extra nutrients into the water.
-Return to your normal lighting level slowly as to not shock any of your corals and/or anemones
-BTAs can start to move during a black-out period
-This will only temporarily solve algae problems. Without removing the cause(s) of the algae, it will come back in time.
Some other references for routine aquarium maintenance:
The one aspect about stocking marine aquariums that I have found the most conflicting information on is what is a proper stocking plan when keeping tangs. A part of the problem is the amount of variation between maximum sizes, growth rates, and the temperament / personality of the fish. I have personally seen yellow tangs reaching a maximum size 10 inches and other reaching a maximum size of about 14 inches, both being kept in set-up that would allow for more growth.
So what is the right answer ?
The below links will provide you with some further information to help you understand this better
Manufacture ratings should always be considered as guidelines and never hard fast rules. In my opinion, almost all of these capacities are over rated. The reason for my opinion is that manufactures typically complete their product testing with the gate valve and air valve(s) wide open to calculate the maximum flow rate and maximum air intake using these measurements to calculate the maximum rated capacity for the skimmer. As we all know, the gate valve and air valve(s) will need to be adjusted in order for the skimmer to work properly which will also lower both the flow rate and air intake of the skimmer from the manufacture’s measurements. This is why many hobbyist prefer to use skimmers that have a much higher rated maximum capacity than their aquarium.
The below link can help you determine how to pick out a skimmer for your set-up
And the below will offer you some other ways to evaluate potential skimmers
And some interesting skimmer information
If you are planning to use carbon dosing to reduce high levels of nitrates and/or phosphates, please keep in mind you need to start off slowly and at a very low level. Making quick and drastic changes to your nitrate levels through all/any forms of carbon dosing will cause your water parameters to become at least somewhat unstable. Take it very slow to begin with allowing your system to slowly adjust over time. You have to always keep in mind, only bad things will happen fast in this hobby.
More information about carbon dosing can be found in the below article:
And a few other articles about carbon dosing