Us aquarium hobbyists are always on the lookout for the next big addition to our saltwater tanks. But we rarely give a chance to the actual ‘big’ additions that will elevate our tank’s beauty and set it apart from the other tank setups we so often browse online.
Medium and large fish are very often overlooked for a variety of reasons that are rather obtuse. First, let us dispel these opinions.
The main reasons larger fish species are overlooked in home saltwater aquarium setups are:
Fear of aggression on smaller fish species
Will consume all the food in the tank
They are more expensive
There will be competition for space
They will grow too big
Tough to care for
But, most of these reasons are actually completely untrue with regards to the larger saltwater aquarium fish species.
Tank size is a legitimate concern and if you are looking at a nano tank or a tank smaller than 40-50 gallons, larger species is not a good idea. But our experience shows that most beginners go for a 50+ gallon tank and it is widely considered the optimal size for a saltwater aquarium. A couple of medium to large aquarium fish will thrive in tanks of these sizes.
In fact, smaller tanks are tougher to maintain because there are frequent changes in water chemistry and require greater upkeep than larger tanks. They tend to be more expensive too because you have to invest in advanced pump systems and constantly monitor pH and oxygen levels too.
With regards to potential issues with food and aggression, there are several docile and calm species of large saltwater fish that get on well with all tank occupants. Plus, they are much easier to care for than smaller fish as discoloration and malnutrition are easier to notice and they can resist fluctuations in their environment better, making them easier to care for.
Here is a list of some of the best larger species to have in your tank that will be the center of attention, beautiful, and give your tank a more defined and intricate look and balance that is tough to achieve with a bunch of smaller species. We have compiled a list of fish that are atleast 6” when fully grown.
Top 5 Large Fish Species for Your Saltwater Aquarium:
This popular reef fish is one o the most recognized and widely known species of fish in the world. Their distinctive spines running along either dorsal surface, fins and the spine gives this fish an impressive presence.
They are slow and graceful in their movement and rarely aggressive towards other species. Their spines contain venom which gives them immunity from attack, even in the wild. This gives them the freedom to roam currents looking for small invertebrates to eat. They can easily live off the frozen shrimp diet or common fish foods available in the market.
Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
Forgetful, charming, and kind – Dory captured our hearts in the movie Finding Dory. But the real-life counterpart to this animated fish is a regal creature that is an absolutely stunning addition to any tank. Sporting an almost iridescent shade of blue with black markings from the face along the dorsal line, the Blue Tang is one of those species that captures our attention and holds it there.
Their yellowtail and beautiful fin markings make them a striking presence and will serve as the cynosure of the tank. They possess a regal presence, moving slowly through the currents pursuing the tank for bits of algae and seaweed. Their peaceful presence and gorgeous good looks will make you fall in love with them instantly.
Growing anywhere between 6-10 “, this species of Tang does extremely well in 50-90 gallon tanks. They can be found nestling into large crevices but also swimming around the tank at any height. In their natural habitat, they tend to stick close to the reef but in a tank, with the freedom to roam around, they will be an active presence.
They mostly graze on seaweed and algae from the bottom of the tank but also love some frozen shrimp feed. If they are fed regularly with a constant supply of dried seaweed and shrimp feed, they will be happy and healthy and live for 7-10 years in a tank.
Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish
This beautiful, unique and widely distributed species of butterflyfish is quickly becoming a popular addition in saltwater aquariums. This popularity is because of their stunning yellow coloring, rectangular body shape, and a long snout that resembles forceps. Because of this remarkable snout, they are also called forcepsfish in common parlance.
Feeding on crustaceans and frozen shrimp, they do extremely well in tanks as a bonded pair (this can be achieved by raising a male and female from a very young age). They are hardy fish that do well in medium to large size tanks. Since they are very active and quick swimmers, a tank that is 90-120 gallons (large tanks) fits them best.
Though territorial sometimes, they are generally very calm towards other tank dwellers. When fed well and with enough space to swim, they are a timid and non-aggressive species. They add a bright pop of color to the tank. Growing to 8-9 in tanks, they can easily become the preliminary attractions.
The French Angelfish
This fish found in the waters ranging from the western coast of America to the lively coast of Brazil is a hypnotic beauty. One of the larger members of the angelfish family, this fish grows to be around 9-13” long and can easily be the centerpiece of your tank.
A midnight black body with luminescent gold highlights on the scales makes this fish one of the more stunning and rare beauties of the ocean. A pastel blue face with yellow marking around the eyes sets it apart from its near relative – the gray angelfish.
These fish are omnivorous and feed on plant material like algae and seaweed but also love to munch on tiny marine invertebrates like copepods. They are extremely attractive under aquarium lights and the gold frilled scales shimmer as they swim around the reef in search of a snack. They thrive as a mating pair and tend to live their entire lives paired with a mate. It is advisable to get a male and female as younglings and let them grow up together in the tank.
The last entry on our list is no slouch. Growing up to be around 10 inches in length, this fish displays an incredible change in appearance as it matures. As a juvenile, male princess parrotfish tend to display a plain brown/white color pattern. Upon reaching the terminal of maturity (like puberty) they turn bright blue with brilliant pink highlights and the scales and a pink band running across the face.
Parrotfish are credited with creating coral sand. Their diet of coral polyps and plant matter allows them to excrete out sand that forms a coarse reef bed. In fact, parrotfish sand has aided in the creation of small islands in the Caribbean and its beaches. A parrotfish can produce 90kgs of sand a year.
They exhibit some fascinating mating behavior and females of this species are classified as protogynous, wherein they undergo a change of sex in the absence of a terminal male presence in the reef.
They are great to observe in a tank environment for their unique feeding and mating rituals. Males are also brightly colored making them beautiful additions as well.
These fish species may be overlooked for being too large for many budding aquarists and experienced saltwater aquarium enthusiasts alike. But, there is so much more than just size. When raised in a tank, these fish maintain a desirable size while becoming the center of attraction of your tank. They have long lifespans and are great for jobs around the aquarium too! So, what are you waiting for, give these species a shot and you will not be disappointed.
Zoanthids, more commonly referred to as zoas, are officially categorized as cnidarians and are typically referred to as colonial anemones by the scientific community. You may also be surprised to know that the zoanthid coral is not actually coral at all, even if they’re popularly referred to as such. Because of this, they are often confused with sponges, ascidians, sea anemones, and other blob-like fish species, making zoanthid identification somewhat tricky. The perfect zoanthid garden is highly converted by aquarists. In this step-by-step guide we’ll lead you through how you too can create a zoanthid garden that you will cherish.
Gather your supplies
Firstly, you will need several items to construct your zoanthid garden. We have provided web links to our recommended products at the bottom of this page. You will need the following items:
Colorful zoanthid corals
Cutters to remove zoanthid from plug or cut off stem of plug
Super glue gel or a coral glue
Well structured piece of rock
Protective eye covering
Prepare the corals for placement on your rock
Important note: Anytime you are working with zoanthids we strongly recommend you wear safety protective eyewear. Zoanthids carry a neurotoxin, that can be very painful if it gets into your eye.
Once you have your safety glasses on, you can remove the zoanthids from their bags, cutting the fishing line that attaches them to the bag, and place them into tank water. Next you need to remove the zoanthid from the plug. Using your cutters, remove the coral from the plug at the base and lift it off. Generally, the coral will come off easily. If not, you can instead cut off the plug stem with the flat edge of your cutters against the plug base.
Construct your zoanthid garden!
Taking your piece of rock, lay your small pieces of coral onto the rock where you want them. Once you’ve got your arrangement, take off all the pieces and start one by one gluing them into position with super glue or coral glue. Once you have glued the bottom of a piece to the rock, soak it in tank water for approx 30 seconds so the glue hardens between each glue application. Place your completed rock in your tank and give the corals approximately 2-4 hours to recover from the process. Now just wait patiently for your garden to grow!
Our top tips:
Carefully ensure you are gluing the base of the zoanthid, as gluing the top will kill the coral.
You can also use palythoa, star polyps, or mushrooms to make your coral garden as colorful and unique as you like!
The process is easy! But if you’re not feeling confident about the process you can easily start by ordering 6-10 zoanthids to have a go with initially.
Have fun with it!
Don’t forget to send us your masterpieces! You can tag us on Instagram (@aquariumdepotcom), Twitter (@MyAquariumDepot) or Facebook! We’d love to see what you create!
Links for items needed to create your own zoa garden:
Why Your Saltwater Aquarium Needs Nassarius Vibex Snails
Nobody likes an aquarium full of algae and debris, and this means that a clean up crew of inverts and fish is a must for any hobbyist. From crabs and shrimps, to fish and weird looking slugs, the range of saltwater aquarium cleaners is a little bit overwhelming!
Snails are one of the great ways of keeping your tank clean, and today we will be talking about the nassarius vibex snail. A cool name for a very cool snail!
Nassarius Vibex Snails Love Food
Unlike other snails, the nassarius vibex snail doesn’t eat algae. So, if you are having issues with algae you should look at other options when wanting to keep your tank clean and healthy.
However, this snail will eat everything else. The nassarius vibex snail is a scavenger type snail and will eat all the dead fish that might be leftover in your tank. It will spend its time looking out for anything it might be able to eat and also feeds off waste and fish excrement. Well, somebody has to.
This snail is brilliant to keep your saltwater aquarium clean of debris. As they reduce the amount of waste in the tank, your nitrate levels will be easier to maintain.
They don’t eat anything that is living, so this means that you won’t be worried about them suddenly chomping down on your prized fish!
They Are Sand Sifters
Nassarius vibex snails don’t just eat the bits and pieces that are floating around the tank, but also will sift through the sand for any debris to eat. This keeps the sand clean.
Because of their behavior, they aerate the sand. Doing this means the substrate stays healthy and viable for longer. Bacteria will be healthy and the tank will have great circulation, with oxygen levels in the sand perfect.
They Only Emerge For Food
They don’t need sand, but it is advisable as they like to spend most of their time buried. Mud can also be used as a substrate for nassarius vibex snails. In tanks without substrate, they can survive and thrive sometimes, but make sure you have enough rockery and dark places for them to hide under. However, it is really not advised as they can get stressed without being able to bury themselves.
But, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of what is going on in the aquarium! When they sense dead organic matter, their siphon will emerge from the sand and scout out where their food is.
The snails siphon is a long periscope type thing which they use to breathe and smell. These snails move surprisingly fast when they know food is about, emerging from the sand quickly and rapidly moving around the aquarium.
When they have finished their food, they will go back into the sand and wait for their next meal. Sounds like a great life, right?
Firstly, this is because they aren’t that big so you don’t need a massive set up to keep them happy. They grow to about half an inch in size, their shell about the size of an olive pit. Because of this, they can be kept happy in smaller aquariums.
We recommend two nassarius vibex snails per gallon to make sure they can keep on top of all the cleaning and eating that they have to do!
However, you must make sure there is enough meaty debris for your snails to eat so they don’t starve.
They Are Easy To Care For
Another reason why these snails are great for beginners and novices alike is that they don’t demand much of your time and energy.
These snails are really hardy and can withstand a broad range of temperatures and salinity. In the wild they can be found in polluted areas, showing that they can really survive anything!
A temperature around 24℃ is perfect for them, but don’t stress too much about this. The most important thing is that they have enough to eat.
They Are Also Pretty Peaceful
Nassarius vibex snails generally keep to themselves, only emerging to eat the debris and dead fish that other aquarium dwellers leave behind. However, if they are running out of food there have been reports that they will go after living creatures, mainly other snails.
Because of this, they should be kept in an aquarium with a messy eater! Think about what fish you have and who makes the biggest mess. Seahorses and predatory fish are amazing animals but do create a lot of debris. So, these are perfect to be homed with the nassarius vibex snails!
When we have saltwater aquariums, keeping the environment as close to nature as possible is a great way of making sure all your creatures are happy. A great way of doing this is introducing animals that help out the environment and each other.
In adding nassarius vibex snails to your aquarium, you are developing and maintaining your own little ecosystem. These snails help the aquarium stay healthy and help you by doing all the cleaning work..
Today we will take a deeper look at emerald crabs, a fantastic crustacean to have for many reasons, not just because they love to keep your tank clean! This post will highlight some of the Emerald crab’s best features and what makes it such a great addition to saltwater aquariums.
Emerald Crabs Are Scavengers
If you are a veteran aquarium hobbyist, you will know all about bubble algae. More aggressive than other forms of algae, it seems to never go away. I am sure we have all had our own issues with this relentless slime.
Enter, the emerald crab! These crabs are scavengers and will camp on your reef bed and pick off bubble algae.
Crabs are famous for being algae lovers, with the blue leg hermit crab another one who just wants to munch on the green stuff. But, when it comes to bubble algae look no further than the emerald crab!
Not only does it like to eat the bubble algae, but this crustation is an omnivore and so will do more than just keep your tank clean of the slime. It will clean the aquarium of any uneaten bits of organic matter, and debris. One less job for you!
It must be said that even though these crabs will keep the majority of your aquarium clean, you might still have to roll up your sleeves occasionally and help out. If you have a huge outbreak of bubble algae you should really clean most of it out first before leaving the leftovers for the emerald crabs.
Then, hopefully, the emerald crab will keep on top of the algae and chomp down on any growth, making sure another outbreak won’t occur.
Emerald Crabs are Easy to Care For
The emerald crab is extremely hardy and a great thing is that they are easy to look after. When the tank is low on algae they will just need a bit of dry seaweed or frozen shrimp to keep them going. If they get too hungry they might try and go for other animals in your tank, such as snails or smaller fish. So make sure they have a decent amount of food to eat and keep your aquarium at peace!
They are nocturnal and love to chill out in a dark quiet area during the day, so make sure you have enough places for them to hide out in. Plenty of rocks is a must when it comes to these crabs. When they get comfortable in the tank and used to their surroundings they will start to come out during the day, exploring the tank looking for scarps to scavenge on.
They will molt from time to time, and this can be a bit weird the first time you see it, but don’t worry, it is completely normal and a sign of good health.
When the emerald crabs molt they leave behind their exoskeleton. It might look like a dead crab but don’t panic too much when you see this, it is only their exoskeleton that they are leaving behind as they grow bigger. Just remove it from the tank and make sure your crab is doing well and is happy in his new shell.
They are Docile and Tolerant
These crustaceans are peaceful and don’t really mind who they share a tank with. If the crabs have enough food to eat, they will not bother the other fish and inverts that you might have in your aquarium.
However, you must make sure that there aren’t any big predators in the tank. Triggerfish and hawkfish are two fish that shouldn’t be put in the same aquarium as your emerald crabs as they are known to prey on them.
Other types of crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp., are fine to have in the same aquarium as emerald crabs. They live in harmony together, and as long as the emerald crab is cleaning, everybody is happy!
Emerald Crabs are Beautiful Too!
Of course, a main reason why we have aquariums is because they are really nice to look at. There are so many interesting and beautiful creatures that we keep, and the emerald crab is one of these.
Their green exoskeleton is very eye-catching and adds a brilliant pop of color to the mix of any aquarium. Helpful, peaceful, and beautiful?! These crustaceans are a must for your tank.
They Don’t Grow Too Big
These crabs are also great because they don’t grow too big, and this means you won’t have to worry about the size of the tank.
Emerald crabs grow to about two inches and do well in medium to large tanks where they have a lot of room to explore and feed. You will just need one or two for your tank to keep on top of the cleaning. Don’t put too many of them in the same tank as even though they are pretty chill, nobody likes to not have any personal space! Overpopulation of emerald crabs in the same tank might lead to aggression.
These crabs are amazing for keeping your aquarium clean. Once you get a pair of emerald crabs, you will wonder why you didn’t get them sooner! They can be picked up pretty cheaply, around $12.99 per crab. A small price for such a big boost to the health and wellbeing of your aquarium!
Some of the most exciting animals you can keep in a saltwater aquarium are shrimp! If they are put in the correct aquarium, most of the shrimps available to aquarists are reasonably easy to keep too. When given the suitable shelter and food, they thrive and help add beauty and diversity to the tank. Most reef-dwelling species, for instance, simply need crevices or overhangs to hide in. The key thing to remember with adding shrimp to your aquarium is ensuring there are no predators that might feast on your latest additions!
This article looks at the top 5 shrimps for your saltwater aquarium, and why they are the best choices. As always, before buying additional animals, please do sufficient research to ensure your aquarium is appropriate.
The sexy shrimp (Thor amboinensis) is undoubtedly the cutest shrimp you can add to your saltwater aquarium! This tiny shrimp (~2.8cm) is one of the smallest shrimp species, with vibrant amber to orange colored bodies with white spots. These little shrimp spend their time wiggling their tails and vibrating their abdomen in order to clean their host anemone. They have also been known to take up residence on nearby corals if their chosen anemone is not available.
Do be aware that clownfish are very protective of their host anemone and will likely not want to share. Otherwise, the sexy shrimp is considered as a great reef-safe option for your aquarium.
Randall’s pistol shrimp
Randall’s pistol shrimp (Alpheus randalli) is a small yet powerful little shrimp! These shrimp come with their very own built-in stun gun! They have a large claw-like appendage that works like a pistol, the hammer-like part of the joint allows for quick-release of their pincer. This action creates a rather interesting snapping sound too. Scientists have uncovered this sound comes from the bubbles created by the pincer snapping back into the socket. This lightning-fast, high-energy movement causes the surrounding water to boil to up to 18’000 F, which releases the bubbles! Not bad for a tiny shrimp. But don’t worry, this will not damage your aquarium.
If possible, Randall’s pistol shrimp prefers to team up with the goby fish and share a burrow, excavated by the pistol shrimp. Randall’s pistol shrimp is nearly blind, so the goby acts as its lookout. These two animals make a great pair!
Coral banded shrimp
Next, another great option for your saltwater aquarium is the coral banded shrimp (Stenopus hispidus). This shrimp comes in an array of brightly colored forms! From red and white banded individuals as well as yellow, blue, and purple. This is a hardy nocturnal shrimp species that prefers to hide in caves or under ledges. This species can be territorial and fight off other coral banded shrimp to guard its territory. It is not uncommon for legs or pincers to be lost during these fights, but these will grow back when the shrimp next molts.
Coral banded shrimps are generally found in crevices or caves, or even hanging from ceilings. Interestingly, they enjoy sharing their hiding places with moray eels, as the shrimps feed on the eel’s body slime and any parasites. The shrimp also encourages other fish to take advantage of its cleaning surface and uses its long antennae to encourage posing.
The cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) makes a great addition to your aquarium for a number of reasons. Not only are they colourful and active, they also enjoy living in groups. The key benefit is the free cleaning service they provide to their other tank mates. The cleaner shrimp will happily remove parasites and dead scales from your fish’s bodies, gills, and mouths. This shrimp likes to live on rock and coral outcroppings so that it can easily wait for fish to swim past and perform its cleaning duties.
The cleaner shrimp is no bother to other corals or fish, making it another excellent reef safe option.
Finally, we have the peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni). It is also known as the candy cane shrimp due to its transparent body with bright red stripes. This shrimp is nocturnal, so can seem shy, but it is easy to care for whilst adding a bright flash of color to your aquarium. Again, this shrimp is happy to be kept as part of a larger group.
Your only consideration is to be wary of placing these little shrimps in with anemones, as occasionally they have been known to snack on them. This is often solved by keeping their shrimp pellet topped up so that they don’t feel the need to feast on your anemones.
Starting a hobby is a tough endeavor, especially when it involves other living beings. We all have different passions and like different activities. But something that ties us all together is the desire to care for animals. Something about sharing a bond with another species makes us happy and content.
The hobby of maintaining an aquarium is comparatively (to the thousands of years of domesticating mammals and dogs) new but growing in popularity because of how fascinating and different it is. Humans are fascinated by the vast diversity in appearance and behavior of aquatic life. For marine life enthusiasts, creating a saltwater aquarium ecosystem from scratch is a very rewarding experience.
We understand that venturing into something new can be daunting. But as experts in the field, we will try and guide you towards the best beginner saltwater aquarium fish to buy to make your introduction to the world of fish and corals the best experience it can be!
Here is a list of our top 10 saltwater aquarium fish for beginners:
The wide-eyed Green Chromis is a species of damselfish that get their name from their almost reflective green coloration. A staple addition to saltwater aquariums, they add a unique dimension to the ecosystem. Being schooling fish, they tend to stick together in groups of 4-10 individuals and roam the tank throughout the day. They create a striking contrast to the more docile and slow-moving reef dwellers like crabs and shrimp.
Their dorsal sides shimmer under aquarium flights and offer a glittering show of blue-green shimmer as they weave in and out of the currents in synchronized, tightly-knit groups. They are extremely calm fish that generally get along with common aquarium species. They are omnivores and spend their day clustering and searching for food. They do well with a mixture of frozen feed and dried seaweed diet.
Lawn Mover Blenny
Aquarium enthusiasts adore this camouflaged bottom feeder for its many uses in the tank. With a quizzical and almost scrutinizing gaze, this cute fish from the Blenniidae family spend their time pursuing rock crevices in search of their favorite snack – algae.
With their long and slender body and striking dorsal and pectoral fins, they can be flashy but their black, white, and grey coloring also allows them to blend in well with most rock beds and reefs.
They do well when raised in pairs in a large tank with plenty of grazing areas. They are generally docile and do not bother other bottom grazers. They are known to be a little nippy when they spot other blenny species in the tank but this can be avoided if raised together from spawn.
If your tank is low on algae after a fluconazole flush, supplement their diet with dried seaweed or other plant-based fish food.
Yellow Clown Goby
The Yellow Clown Goby is one of the best saltwater aquarium fish for beginners. Found in the waters around Japan and Australia, they have become popular worldwide for being cute and easy to handle.
Wide eyes and an unimpressed expression gives the fish an almost royal swagger. They swim around the tank exuding an air of superiority. Juxtaposed with their small size, they are comical to watch. They also sometimes sport white patches on their cheeks, which gives them their name.
They are carnivorous fish and will thrive with a simple frozen shrimp feed. But they are voracious eaters. If you have a few Clown Goby, increase your feed bit to keep them happy. They are also usually shy and don’t bother the other tank dwellers.
Another Goby on our list. They have become a staple saltwater aquarium fish sfor beginners and experienced hobbyists alike because of their extremely unique appearance and striking color pattern.
They sport a magnificent elongated silver dorsal fin and beautifully shaped and colored anal and caudal fins which sport black highlights. They are stunning to look at with their silver/ grey anterior section and a pink/red posterior with orange and black highlights. They accelerate fast, giving them the appearance of a flaming streak of red and silver.
They are very shy and tend to hide in rock crevices when they feel threatened. They are generally paired together from a young age and are hyper-aware of new firefish that enters the tank. Despite this, they rarely cause problems and are possibly the best-looking fish on this list.
Who said that beginner saltwater aquarium fish need to be plain and boring looking? The Banggai Cardinalfish is an extremely unique and attractive species and a delight to have in the aquarium.
With a brilliant brown, white and black coloring spotted tail, and lionfish like appearance, they have quickly become some of the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They are calm and tranquil and move slowly. They tend to stick to their own group.
Most tank enthusiasts start with a male and a female. They are extremely hardy fish and reproduce in numbers and soon, you will have your very own colony of Banggai Cardinalfish. The beauty of this is, you can observe a clear hierarchy in their group with the adults leading the school and kids following. It is very fun to watch!
Yellow Watchman Goby
Sporting a perpetual frown and bright yellow coloring with white spots, these unique fish look like a sad face emoji in fish form! Their general appearance and behavior oozes personality and are extremely entertaining to watch.
Usually found in-tandem with Pistol Shrimp, these reef dwellers spend their lives nestled between crevices. They also tend to burrow when they feel threatened. This is an extremely unique behavior to observe and requires a thick substrate or sand and stones at the bottom of the tank.
They are carnivorous and do well with a frozen shrimp feed. They are docile but defend their territory. They get the name ‘Watchman’ goby because they choose a burrow or rock crevice to live in and are often seen sitting at the entrance guardian the area. When raised together, they bond with pistol shrimp and their friendship is unique and great to watch. For beginner Saltwater Aquarium enthusiasts, the watchman Goby will be a great teaching tool.
This active fish species from the Labridae family are beautiful and fill the tank with a lively spirit. Curious and graceful, they are often seen picking at rocks and reefs looking for algae and bristle worms.
Because of their diet, they rid the tank of pesky pests while also adding a splash of color. They generally have a beautiful Navy Blue body with orange highlights near the face. They also sport six horizontal stripes that run across the length of the dorsal side of their body. A beautiful green tail and brightly colored dorsal and pectoral fins give them a look similar to a peacock feather.
Most aquarium enthusiasts use them as an offset to the other brightly colored reef dwellers like the Goby’s and Clownfish as they sport a completely different appearance and persona. They are hardy fish and survive on a range of diets (they love frozen shrimp feed) and look great under most aquarium lights. They are also generally calm and a non-aggressive species and are a delightful addition to beginner saltwater aquarium setups.
Ocellaris Clownfish (Common Clownfish)
Everyone loves Nemo! This extremely popular (probably the most popular) species of saltwater fish in the world (thank you Disney!) is a great aquarium addition for beginners. They introduce newcomers to this hobby to bonding two species together. Since they live amongst Sea Anemones, it teaches newbie aquarium hobbyists about the close bond marine animals share with each other.
They form cute mating pairs and tend to stick to each other. They exhibit a wide range of behavior and hardly ever get into scuffles with other species. Plus, they are an instant hit with the kids for those looking to pass this great hobby on to the next generation. There is no greater incentive for kids that feeding Nemo from their hands (clownfish get very comfortable can often be fed by hand when they are comfortable with humans).
Yellow Eyed Kole Tang
For newcomers to the saltwater aquarium hobby looking for a solution to pesky algae problems, look no further than the Yellow-Eyed Kole Tang. With a bright bluish-purple color and majestic stripes and spots running across the length of their oval body, this fish looks spectacular when fully mature.
Plus, they love seaweed and algae. This forms a majority of their diet and they are the vacuum cleaners of the saltwater aquarium world. For beginners, they will serve as an excellent way to prevent any growth of algae as they are voracious eaters, even compared to the other cleaning fish on our list.
They are not the most docile fish and this is all because of their omnivore diet and insatiable appetite. They are known to go for the smaller crustaceans like pistol shrimps in a tank environment when they run out of algae and frozen feed. So make sure you keep them well-fed.
This saltwater aquarium fish is rather rare amongst hobbyists in America. But, it is an extremely pliable fish for beginners. They are a large species growing up to 20+ inches in a large tank with plenty of food.
Docile and regal, they adjust to tank environments quickly and are very clever. They will quickly learn to eat treats from your hand and love a good side rub! They will grow to become the central attraction of any tank they are a part of.
They love to munch on algae and dried seaweed and thrive in larger setups. If you are a beginner with a large saltwater aquarium with a tight lid, we cannot suggest the Lopezi tang enough. They are adorable and hearty fish with a calm demeanor and beautiful silver body. You will love them instantly.
These are our picks for the top 10 saltwater aquarium fish for beginners. They will be easy to handle, help you clean your tank, and easy on the eye giving you the best first experience in this wonderful hobby.
Feather Dusters worms are some of the most interesting creatures you can have in your aquarium. Beautiful and hypnotic, their day-to-day behavior, and way of life is just incredible to observe. Not only that, even though they are mostly stationary creatures, their movement in the tank adds a dynamic presence that is different from every other creature you can have.
It is important to note that feather dusters that you might have seen in tanks or on videos are often observed in their ‘home’. Like spiders or birds, these worms build their cocoon or tube to climb into and then bloom their ‘feather-like’ radioles or crown outside to catch debris and organic matter floating by in the currents.
What makes this species fascinating is that, even though they are an almost stationary worm species, they are revered for their beauty. They add a ton of color and character to the tank that it is impossible to believe that they hardly ever move from place to place.
What Is The Feather Duster’s Shell Made Of?
For protection and safety, these worms build a robust shell around themselves and spend most of their lives inside them. Though they might go through many shells in their lifetime, they are completely out in the open for very small periods and often get cracking on a new shell once they have abandoned the old one.
They secrete a mucus-like substance that they then use along with tank debris and organic matter to create a robust and safe tube that they crawl into. Inside this shell, their natural predators cannot reach them. Once they are into this shell, they tend to keep building and extending it further into the ocean or tank surface by burying in downwards or into the surfaces of soft rock crevices. This makes them extremely hard to reach and is a great way to keep safe for a soft worm.
So, you might be thinking that a feather worm that buries itself into a shell might not be the best tank addition. But, these amazing creatures are filter feeders. Meaning they catch small pieces of organic matter floating in the oceanic currents near the bed.
To do this, they reveal a brightly colored crown or appendages known as radioles. They are a group of cylindrical projections resembling an underwater feather duster (hence the name). They are described as having small two-edged comb-like projections on the microscopic level. These appendages/tentacles slowly swish and swirl in the currents and the tiny comb-like projections catch any organic matter floating by.
Feather DUster worms are brilliantly colored ranging from a hypnotic white to a bright, almost fluorescent neon purple. Because the crown pulsates and sways in the water, they look marvelous and people love looking at them for a long time contemplating the existence of these fascinating and beautiful creatures in an almost meditative, enchanting experience.
Feather Duster Care
They do well in tanks of any size. As long as they have plenty of reefs and rocks to nestle with, they will do fine. They need a nice comfy layer of aquarium substrate at the bottom to bury into and a medium to strong current in the tank as this helps mimic their natural environment the best. They are found in the sandy areas of the reef as this helps them secure their shells the best.
Also, they feed on plankton and organic matter that floats in the tank. You do not need to include any special food for them as your fish and reef feed will do just fine. They are happy just boobing around the currents all day catching stray organic matter that is floating around.
Also, when you receive your shipment containing the feather duster, they might shed their shells as there is no substrate in the shipment container. Do not panic. Just discard the old shell and put them at the bottom of a buffer tank and cover them partially with substrate, They will form a new shell soon. Also, they tend to molt their feathers but this will regenerate quickly enough.
Lettuce Nudibranch or Lettuce Sea Slugs are incredibly underrated tank additions. There are no other species that are more unique, beautiful, and capable of some astonishing things than the Lettuce Nudibranch. They not only add a unique look to the tank but also help rid the tank of some of the more aggressive and vigorous forms of algae.
Elysia crispata is a form of sea slug but is also knows as the Lettuce Nudibranch because of the function they perform within saltwater tanks. Like the nudibranchs, they help rid the tank of algae by voraciously consuming it throughout the day.
Function and Diet
They belong to a category of creatures broadly classified as sarcoglassans. What makes them unique is their ability to absorb the chlorophyll from the plant and algae matter they consume into their tissue. This allows them to generate their own energy in the presence of sunlight through a process called kleptoplasty. But, it also gives them a stunning green tinge to the curly furls on top of their slender body. This gives them a distinct appearance.
They broadly consume all forms of algae but their favorites include hair and bubble algae. Both these types of algae is a pain for aquarium hobbyists because they are very aggressive. Even after Fluconozole treatments, they tend to return quickly and take over the tank, depleting oxygen and nitrogen for the fish and reefs.
By consuming these rarer but harder-to-get-rid-of algae, they perform a crucial function in certain tank setups. They also consume more algae than other ‘tank-cleaners’ like the hermit crabs and snails. This makes them the pound for pound champion of algae destruction!
They also might consume some other plant matter, but this is rare behavior and there should be plenty of algae for them to consume. If you think that your tank has very low quantities of algae (observe rocks for greenish tinge or slimy texture), you might want to supplement this with some frozen algae in small quantities. This will ensure that your lettuce nudibranchs have plenty to graze on.
The Lettuce Nudibranch is very sensitive to strong currents in the tank. Their lack of limbs makes them easy to displace in tanks with strong filters or electronic current generators. They tend to occupy shallow ocean pools where currents aren’t so severe.
Make sure you have screens on your filters if you decide to introduce Lettuce Nudibranch into your saltwater tank. Also, try and use non-electronic wave generators to keep rotating the nutrients instead of a high-power electronic pump.
Having aggressive or highly curious species of fish also might be detrimental to the Lettuce Nudibranch because of their appearance. The more aggressive fish species tend to peck and nibble at them, creating a highly stressful environment for the grazers.
However, this shouldn’t cause too much of a concern because the lettuce nudibranch does well in most aquarium setups. They tend to find tiny crevices and spaces and spend most of their time feeding while being almost still.
The Lettuce Nudibranch, like most invertebrates in the ocean, are very sensitive creatures that react to minute changes in their environment. This makes it extremely crucial for you to acclimatize them slowly into their new saltwater tank. The breeder or vendor might have water of different pH and mineral densities. To make sure they will thrive in your tank water, slowly introduce them to their new environment in incremental time periods. Also, make sure to test your water for Copper concentration as it is a deadly metal to lettuce nudibranchs.
But, fret not. They are very robust creatures once you follow a few easy rules. You will have a unique creature with varying colors and a wavy, hypnotic pattern to observe for many years. They also help keep your tank clean and maintain a wholesome environment for all creatures in your tank.
When visualizing the perfect saltwater tank, all aquarium hobbyists like to imagine a tank full of different, fascinating marine fauna that exhibit a range of behaviors and are a delight to observe and marvel at.
The sexy anemone shrimp is one such creature that aquariums all over the world consider must-have’s, just because of their extremely unique and mesmerizing movement and brilliant, bright coloration.
Sexy Shrimp (Thor Amboinensis) is a small shrimp species that grow to about 0.5 – 1 inch in length. Though small and delicate – they will quickly become the cynosure of any tank. Their intriguing name aside, their behavior, demeanor, and personality make them an extremely affable and gorgeous marine pet to have and care for.
Sexy shrimp get their name from the way they move around the tank. They have this bobbing gait and they move their tails up and down as they move around the tank. They are called sexy shrimp because it looks like they are walking with a swagger, moving their tails rhythmically.
They are extremely docile creatures and love to laze around scavenging at the bottom of the tank or nestled in anemones for protection from larger shrimps. They also tend to be active throughout the day, giving you chance to observe them for extended periods without them rushing behind corals or hiding in small crevices. If you have anemones, the sexy shrimp will quickly become their best friend.
They also leave your fish alone and are generally a very friendly tank inhabitant. The only thing to keep in mind is that you have to acclimatize them slowly to the tank environment, with a buffer similar to the water they previously lived in. Slowly increase the time they spend in your tank and do not just drop them into a new environment from day one.
Another specialty of the sexy shrimp is that they are extremely versatile. Because of their size and diet, they are just as comfortable in a large tank as they are in a nano tank. In fact, they are a very popular species amongst those who own a nano tank setup. This is because they are much smaller than the other common crab and shrimp species and perform the same function in the tank.
They also do well in tanks with a lot of rocks and anemones. Anemones are their best friend because sexy shrimp are not the best when it comes to self-defense. Other bigger and more aggressive species of shrimp, like the Coral Banded Shrimp, often attack and kill them. But Anemones provide a natural defense once the sexy shrimp and anemones create a bond. Anemones naturally repel Coral Banded Shrimp but do not sting Sexy Shrimp since they clean the anemone’s tentacles of pesky organic matter left over from the fish and reef feed.
Sexy shrimp do well with a range of carnivorous foods. They are versatile when it comes to the diet, they are comfortable with frozen shrimp and fish feed and also a variety of blended organic matter and store-bought carnivorous fish feed. Since they spend the majority of their time scavenging, mixing up your finely blended frozen feed with slightly larger lumps that sink to the bottom is a good idea.
Being a voracious feeder, they can go through a lot of food and quickly deplete the tank. Just add a little extra every day to keep them happy and well-fed.
Since they are highly social creatures, having multiple sexy shrimp is a great idea. Once they form mating bonds and have a loosely-linked colony of sexy shrimp around them to feel safe, they can live for up to 3 years. They will quickly become your favorite reef dwellers. Their bright orange exterior with hypnotic white spots all over makes them easily identifiable and their beautiful gait and utility make them one of the best tank additions you can find.
These colorful decapods are a delight to have in any aquarium. They add a lot of color and character and are extremely fun to observe. These shrimp-like creatures are extremely versatile, durable, and easy to care for and have become one of the most popular marine aquarium additions.
Being a decapod, they have 10 legs. These crustaceans have bright red and white bands that run along their body and first set of pincers. They have a total of two sets of pincers. One set of pincers are found on their front two feet. They are strong and are used for displays of territorial dominance, mating displays, grabbing food, and fighting. They have a smaller set of white pincers on their next line of feet. These are used for exploration and additional support while feeding.
They are nocturnal creatures that use crevices in rocks and other dark areas in a tank to nap and become active during the night. They look for small worms, algae, and pieces of fish in the tank to eat. They are not active hunters but could chase down worms in their environment.
What makes them so popular is their mating display, their tendency to be monogamous and bright colors, and active persona. A tank usually houses a male and female. Their mating ritual dance is a very cute and highly documented behavior in decapods. Male coral banded shrimp have blue undersides and females have blue and green undersides
As they are territorial, it is not advisable to have two males. They fight aggressively and lose pincers or limbs which regrow in 30 days.
They also shed their exoskeleton periodically. This is a good indication of their health. Since they move in a unique, crab-like way – they are extremely mobile across the tank. When they are active, they move constantly putting on an impressive display.
They live for 2-4 years. They can survive in a 72F temperature but are robust with fluctuations. Their other limbs are used for sensing the environment and detecting prey. These shiny white antennas float around and add to their beauty. They are scavengers and can feed on a range of diets including worms.
Coral Banded Shrimp bring life and movement to the tank. They thrive with coral feed and the rocky terrain of a large tank. Make sure you release only a mating pair into a tank and watch out for unwanted offspring too. The eggs are easy to spot and dispose of. Also, they can be aggressive, so watch out when you introduce a new one into the tank.
They are best enjoyed in a well-lit tank with plenty of food for them to scavenge. Coupled with bright fish, they add a new dimension of floor dwellers to the tank and their distinct behavior as a pair can make for great viewing. They combine a tank-cleaner with a marine addition with a quirky and lovable personality which has made them so popular.
Have a nagging algae problem in your tank? Thinking about adding a dash of color to your set-up? The Blue Leg Hermit Crab might be the solution to both your needs. Also known as Clibanarius tricolor, these beautiful crustaceans are quickly becoming synonymous with algae control in modern-day saltwater tanks.
These tiny crustaceans have become crucial reef additions in recent years, with growing popularity amongst saltwater aquarium hobbyists. As people search for more energy-efficient and economical ways to clean the tank, blue leg Hermit Crabs emerge as a natural choice.
They are omnivorous scavengers that will graze the bottom of the tank, gulping down any left-over plant and animal matter that your fish missed during a feed. Plus they live in their own shell which is extremely cute and unique behavior to observe in an aquarium setting.
They are small, which allows them to reach the spaces between rocks and corals in the tank and siphon off the algae that grow in the smallest crevices. This makes them extremely useful as they feed on both algae and the organic matter that algae grow on. This unique combination stemming from their omnivorous diet makes them an extremely powerful algae deterrent.
After a fluconazole treatment in your aquarium, adding a few blue leg hermit crabs is a wise choice as they can prevent algae from reappearing and creating further nuisances. A major complaint with fluconazole treatment is the reoccurrence of algae. Blue Hermit crabs might be the answer to this problem.
They also rid your tank of pesky cyanobacteria. These Blue Green algae can cover your aquatic plants and cause mass wilting. Just a few blue hermit crabs can help solve this problem. By keeping the plant life in the tank healthy and aerating san substrates at the bottom of the tank, they help promote good circulation and healthy bacterial growth.
How to Feed and Care for Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
Blue Leg Hermit Crabs are very low maintenance creatures. They are very shy and docile creatures that do not show aggression towards other inhabitants of the tank. Their evenly sized pincers are used as a tool for feeding and not for self-defense.
The crab uses snail shells or other medium-sized conches as their home. Without suitable shells, they scrounge the tank for a place to live and sleep. Hermit crabs often switch shells, So make sure that there are a few suitably sized ones lying around the tank for them to find. Without the protection of a hard shell, these soft-bodied crabs tend to hide behind reefs and remain elusive, which some tank owners might not want.
They are omnivores and can feed on a range of algae, seaweed, and also tiny bits of shrimp and fish. They are very easy to feed as a little extra frozen shrimp feed for your fish can be used to feed them as well. Monitor the algae levels in your tank. Based on this, you might want to carefully choose the number of blue leg hermit crabs you want. This is because once they run out of algae to feed on, they could face malnutrition problems easily. Just a diet of frozen shrimp or other organic matter does not suffice as algae and other plant material makes up a large portion of their daily nourishment.
Also, they love being a part of a group to exchange shells and also gain comfort from each other when feeding as a part of a group. Even in the oceans, they are often found living near other blue hermit crabs as this helps in protection and also finding a mate.
If you are looking for a way t prevent algae and adding a splash of color and some diversity to your tank, the extremely adorable and efficient Blue Leg Hermit Crabs are the way to go. They give your reef a dash of life and personality and are undeniably adorable additions to any saltwater aquarium setup.
Any saltwater aquarium thrives on diversity in species. The closer a tank is to natural reef environments, the better the health of the fish that live in it. They do not just add variety for you to observe but also provide ecological benefits to the tank by adding essential diversity that our abundant oceans have.
In a list of coral dwellers, crabs are often overlooked for salt-water aquariums by beginners. But their benefits cannot be understated. Crabs are decapod crustaceans that make all the world’s oceans their home. Depending on the species, they have a range of diets and can be extremely colorful and intriguing additions to any tank.
The Anemone Crab is one of the first that pops to mind or aquarium enthusiasts. Beautiful, colorful, and useful – they can occupy your reefs and be a great addition to many tank setups. They are versatile, robust, and low maintenance and are a delight to look after.
The Porcelain Anemone crab (Neopetrolisthes maculatus) are indigenous to the indo-pacific waters but are now widely regarded ‘aquarium regulars’ across the globe. They sport a distinctive red polka dot pattern on a bright white shell body. They have one of the most unique feeding patterns in the marine world which makes them very fun to observe.
Anemone Crabs are classified as filter feeders. This means that they feed on organic matter floating in the currents. The Anemone Crab has fan-like filters behind its pincers that it uses like a net. By raising these ‘fans’ into the flowing current, they catch small bits of food which they then pick off using their pincers.
They are known as Anemone crabs because they usually center their habitat around large patches of Sea Anemones and nestle into the tentacles and feed off the scraps that settle on the anemones. Since they spend most of their day in and around anemones, they are named anemone crabs!
These small and beautiful creatures are very docile. Especially when they are raised together from spawn. They also do well as a male-female pair in tanks and are usually docile around their own species.
They also do not attack any tank dwellers. Their pincers are used to feed and rarely used in defense. They are the perfect addition to medium to large tanks as they have plenty of space to move from one anemone to another feeding and looking pretty!
They are so calm and docile that the anemone does not sting them. They share a symbiotic bond. The crab cleans the anemone by feeding on organic matter that is stuck between tentacles and the crab naturally deters shrimp away from anemones and serves as self-defense for their tentacled home.
How to Care for Anemone Crabs
These beautiful coral dwellers are easy to take care of. There is no specific diet for them as they feed on the small pieces of frozen Shrimp reef roids you feed your fish. When these floating pieces settle, the crabs will munch them up. Just remember to add a little extra feed when you have crabs.
Also, Anemone Crabs usually do better in larger tanks and with a few anemones around (though not compulsory). They also thrive with a good filter and electronic pump setup that produces medium currents through the water. This is crucial as anemone crabs love to raise their beautiful fan-like appendages. This behavior is extremely unique and gives you something uniques to look at, study, and enjoy with friends and family.
Sun Coral Tubastrea are one of the most versatile and beautiful marine aquarium additions on this planet! These stunning ocean creatures get their name from their vivid yellow tentacles that rise out of the polyp like the sun at dawn when it is time for them to feed. Several guides online claim that these corals are hard to maintain and are not suitable for beginners. We at Aquarium Depot believe that this is completely wrong. Using our method you can make your sun coral bloom at the same time every day, giving your tank a radiant display of life at the bottom of the ocean.
Sun Corals are non-photosynthetic corals that usually have an orange to pink polyp body and bright yellow tentacles that come out during feeding time. They live in small to medium clumps and grow on a shared tissue base.
These corals are extremely popular with coral farmers and marine aquarium enthusiasts. We at Aquarium depot love them too. Their shape and size are perfect for aquariums of any size and add a lot of color and aesthetic beauty to your aquarium.
Since they are non-photosynthetic, they do not multiply within the aquarium. This makes it easy to confine them to a base. They are not unruly and will stick to the rock back you provide them. Having them multiply all over your aquarium is not a concern because of this. This makes them very beginner-friendly as there is not much maintenance required in that department.
As for feeding, this is where the true spirit of these creatures comes to light. Like an obedient pet, they are used to feeding at the same time every day in their natural environment. This is seen as a problem for many but a simple hack will save you a lot of trouble.
Using our Polyp Booster is the secret to this process. Turn off the pumps in your aquarium and dust a little polyp booster over these corals. This entices them to feed and the tentacles extend looking for food. Repeat this process over the course of the next few days, and voila! By the third or fourth day, you will notice the tentacles extending at the same time, even before the polyp booster. Their internal clock goes off to let them know it is feeding time, causing them to bloom in anticipation.
Sun Corals are extremely robust too and show a remarkable ability to regenerate. A small mishap could prove fatal to more delicate coral species but not the sun coral. In fact, this article shows how these beautiful creatures have taken over the Brazilian coast.
Sun corals are classified as smallmouth corals and hence the best food for them would be a diluted mixture of our reef roid powder and water. This forms a wholesome and nutritious meal for them. They could also be fed the water of defrosted shrimp using a turkey baster.
Ordering live creatures online can be stressful. As aquarium enthusiasts and lovers of marine life, we understand the importance of quality shipping. But success or failure in rehoming them into their new aquarium environment lies in keeping a few rules in mind.
It is easy when you are dealing with resilient copepod and amphipods. But, a lot of new hobbyists tend to throw them into the deep end too soon, quite literally. When you receive your shipment of copepods and amphipods, follow these simple steps for a 100 percent success rate in transferring them into their new tank.
What are Copepods and Amphipods?
Copepods and Amphipods are small crustaceans that come in a range of sizes. They are one of the smallest creatures in the marine food chain but are no slouches when it comes to positive contributions to the marine and aquarium ecosystems.
In an aquarium setting, they perform two extremely crucial functions. They are the best clean-up crew in the business and also are the richest and most natural source of nutrition for the larger, more eye-catching fish in your tank.
They primarily feed on waste and algae that gets deposited in the impossible-to-reach crevices in your corals and tank bed. It is essential to maintain a clean, waste-free tank to avoid an outbreak of algae (algae are hard to get rid of). But, this is not their primary function.
They are the best source of food for marine fish. Copepod and Amphipods are the first links in the marine food chain. They are a delicious source of protein for fish. They are almost 40 – 45 percent protein, which is excellent to maintain fish health and shiny scales that add beauty to the tank.
How to Acclimatize a Copepod or Amphipod Shipment?
We ship these tiny crustaceans in filters drenched in water. We do not put them in a water-filled bag because they are highly active and can quickly burn out the oxygen in the water during transit. This could lead to unnecessary loss in numbers.
To avoid this, we here at Aquarium Depot, always ship our copepods and amphipods with minimal water, embedded in a series of filters. The filters themselves are damp, enabling the amphipods to stay alive until they reach you. We guarantee an almost 100 percent survival rate for our amphipod shipments.
To acclimatize your new batch of amphipods and copepods, firstly, keep a tub of water handy (the same water you use for your tank). Measure the temperature of this and use a small wave generator or pump to mimic the lazy currents of the ocean. Once you are sure that the tub of water mimics your tank perfectly, open up your shipment.
Extract the filters and slowly pry apart the many layers one by one and drench each extracted layer into the tub. As the filter enters the water, the copepods magically gain energy and start swimming into their new environment. Do this until you have all the filter layers free of tiny copepod. Sometimes a few might be left behind. The best thing to do here is to drop the filter momentarily in the water and swish it around gently, providing a means of escape for the copepods.
Now, wash the cover they came in because there will always be copepods stuck to the sides. This ensures that you extract every last member and get the most out of your shipment.
Let the copepod sit in this incubator for a few hours and watch their activity levels occasionally. Once you see them settle down and look natural in their new environment, it is a simple case of transfer to the marine tank. A simple catch and release using an aquarium net is enough to rehome them. Once they enter their new habitat, they immediately feel at home because of the brief incubation period in which they gained energy after an arduous shipping process.
These tiny but robust creatures will make the tank their new home and immediately relish the algae and start feeding. Another pro tip is to feed the fish in the tank before you introduce the copepods. This is because hungry fish might immediately start eating the new population of copepods. But, allowing the copepods to settle make new homes amongst the coral reefs will mimic the natural environment perfectly, allowing the fish to catch their juicy pods.
The blue velvet nudibranch is a type of sea slug that is popular among marine aquarium enthusiasts. They are black in color with a few bright, electric blue lines that run along the length of its body. They have a head wider than the body and have a blue stripe run down the middle of their head too. They are experts at biomimicking, like most species of nudibranchs. They use this ability to find flatworms – which are the majority of this sea slug’s diet. Their mouth resembles a chameleon’s tongue. They have a tube-like appendage that shoots out to suck flatworms in. Watching them hunt in aquariums is fascinating to watch as their movement is hypnotic. Blue Velvet Nudibranchs require a steady diet of flatworms to be healthy and active.
Though they do not have a great life expectancy in closed-off tanks, they can thrive when taken care of. They need to be acclimated slowly to an aquarium using the drip method. They should not be thrown into an aquarium with a large flatworm infestation as they tend to feed heavily and remain dormant for days which makes them die sooner. They are also known to be sensitive creatures who respond negatively to spikes in alkalinity or nitrate levels in the water.
They should be handled by experts and are not a good choice for beginner aquarium enthusiasts. This fragility means that care should be taken in fencing off pipe outlets, pumps or drains. Heavy turbulence or flow could easily dispel these creatures causing harm. They come in the 1 to 2 inch size range and do not grow very big. They also stick to rocky outcrops in the tank and move around searching for worms. This makes them a beautiful addition as they provide a different viewing experience to traditional marine life. They offer functionality and beauty to the tank, a rare feature in aquariums. Usually, tank cleaning marine creatures are not the brightest or most attractive.
But, the nudibranch will be the cynosure of even the most intricate and beautiful tanks. They still are some of the most efficient and beautiful methods of flatworm control for any aquarium and if you are thinking about getting a blue velvet Nudibranch, we suggest you shore up your tank care and ensure a steady and reliable environment for them. Learn to use the drip method to introduce them to new environments as they do not do well to sudden changes. Temperature and alkalinity settings along with current speeds should be monitored and maintained before considering nudibranchs.
Algae problems are a common aquarium concern. No one likes a green, murky, and swamp-like tank with poor visibility. Algae gets everywhere. It is slimy and sticks to the glass, corals, and clogs up filters in a tank. It is a hindrance that aquarium hobbyists have been trying to solve for decades now.
But there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent this nagging problem. Some methods are more effective and organic than the others and we will detail a few steps you can undertake as preventive measures and also the most effective ways to get rid of algae from beautiful marine aquariums.
Algae Infestations, What Causes it?
Algae is an integral part of marine ecosystems which extends to saltwater tanks as well. It serves several functions within the aquarium environment like helping to neutralize acidic water, removing floating impurities, and organic material. But, when it’s growth is left unchecked, it takes over the environment and reduces the quality and visibility of the water in the tank.
Algae are basically plants that grow underwater and much like terrestrial plants, they require light, oxygen, nitrogen, and nutrients to grow and thrive. The main reason for a sudden spike in growth is due to a high concentration of nutrients in the tank in the form of nitrates and phosphates. This means that the water you use in the tank contains these minerals in high quantities, serving as food for the green slime to thrive.
It could also be due to an excess of fish. Lots of fish = lots of fish feces. And fish feces is a rich source of nutrients that forms the organic material for algae to grow on, in a watery environment.
Natural Ways to Control Algae
Using Algae Eaters
Additions to the tank that consume algae are the perfect solution for this issue. They add variety to the tank and also help perform a crucial function that improves tank cleanliness and health. So, what tank dwellers live off these invaders?
These slimy, bottom dwellers are highly underrated tank additions. An integral part of most high moisture ecosystems, snails are nature’s clean up crew. They stick to the tank and move along munching on delicious algae. They are easy to care for and are mostly non-fussy creatures that require minimal day-to-day care.
Several species of snails like Rabbit, Nerite, and Margarita snails are suitable for this task. But make sure you do not overcrowd your tank with snails as they reproduce quickly and can overwhelm you with high numbers. Usually, a few males or few female snails are great additions to the tank as their population can be kept in check.
We have used Emerald Crabs for years in our coral systems to combat bubble algae. The internet is full of horror stories regarding emerald crabs, however all of the wholesalers that we frequent also utilize them in their coral aquaculture facilities.
Several species of fish are algae lovers. They stick to the bottom and clean out crevices and rocks of the green slime. Fish like most Blenny species, Tangs and Surgeonfish are excellent choices in tanks prone to slime.
Being herbivore fish, they do not target your precious coral and will eat only the green stuff. This is an extremely handy quality for aquarium hobbyists who build their tanks around exotic corals (used as centerpieces).
Surgeonfish and tangs are extremely colorful and attractive too, serving the dual purpose of making the tank more attractive and cleaning it out as well. Perfect for low-maintenance tank builds with new and armature hobbyists.
Fluconazole treatment acts as an algaecide that completely kills the excess algae in the tank. But, it is cumbersome to use and not a permanent solution. Relying on regular fluconazole treatments is an ineffective strategy as a complete fix to this problem. But, in certain scenarios, it can be very useful.
When your tank is plagued with a lot of bubble algae (or one of the other aggressive forms), you could try a fluconazole blast. It takes some time to work but kills the excess algae caked-on rocks, corals, and filters. After a fluconazole treatment, you should consider a full tank clean (within 8-10 weeks of the treatment) After this, introduce a few above-mentioned tank cleaner to help curtail the eventual re-emergence of algae in you beautiful tank setup.
These are the best ways to curtail the spread of excessive algae without much of a financial hindrance or a drastic change in the environment for your fish. We suggest you try out different methods and see which one works best for your tank.
Copepods meaning “oar-feet” are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea
The body of an amphipod is divided into 13 segments
Amphipods are typically less than 10 millimeters
Mature females bear a marsupium, or brood pouch, which holds her eggs while they are fertilized and until the young are ready to hatch
Around 7,000 species of amphipods have so far been described
Most amphipods are detritivores or scavengers with some being grazers of algae, omnivores on small insects and crustaceans. Food is grasped with the front two pairs of legs which are armed with large claws
The name Amphipoda comes, via the New Latin amphipoda, from the Greek roots meaning different foot, in reference to the two kinds of legs that amphipods possess.
Copepods are sometimes used as bioindicators-Biological indicators are species used to monitor the health of an environment or ecosystem. An example of such a group are the copepods and other small water crustaceans present in many water bodies. Such organisms are monitored for changes (biochemical, physiological, or behavioral) that may indicate a problem within their ecosystem.
The copepod is typically 1 to 2 millimeters
Copepods typically have a short, cylindrical body, with a rounded or beaked head. The head is fused with the first one or two thoracic segments, while the remainder of the thorax has from three to five segments, each with limbs.
Because of their small size, copepods have no need of any heart or circulatory system
Many benthic copepods eat organic detritus or the bacteria that grow in it, and their mouth parts are adapted for scraping
They are usually the dominant members of the zooplankton, and are major food organisms for small fish, whales, seabirds and other crustaceans such as krill in the ocean
Live copepods are used in the saltwater aquarium hobby as a food source and are generally considered beneficial in most reef tanks. They are scavengers and also may feed on nuisance algae
Copepods: the largest biomass on earth, the fastest organism and having one of the highest nutrient dense biological makeups,
The mighty Copepod is the Super food of the Ocean.
This subclass of Crustecean, Copepoda, make up the largest biomass on earth.; this fact alone is indicative of the critical role copepods play in the health of the earths water sources. Much to many peoples surprise, Copepods are not limited to oceans. Copepoda live swimmingly well – in both freshwater as well brackish water.
Copepod varieties are well over 10,000 with these small yet durable creatures boasting one of the must robust adaptation abilities known to man. Not only are they the largest single component of the food web, but they are also the fastest animal on the planet relative to their size. Comparatively – if a person could jump 1/2 of a mile in 2 seconds, humans would earn the coveted title of fastest creature. Copepods have all of us beat, hands down. As they are a highly sought after food source, their ability to out maneuver predators has marked their success in the game of cat vs mouse.
Copepods also commonly referred to as Pods, need only a small quantity of moisture to sustain life. They have been found in moist moss as well as polar regions. In 2004, the New York Times wrote about a small crustacean found in the drinking water in NY City. Our forever friend, the copepod, caused quit a ruckus as many orthodox Jews were concerned about the small crustacean and the “Kosher-ness” of their kitchens. Water Filters were installed at such an alarming rate the wait time was several weeks as the plumbers in the NY City area struggled to keep up with demand.
Copepods are also Environmentally friendly. Scientists estimate that copepods are the largest absorber of carbon, valued at 1-2 billion tons of carbon each year. Since they release less carbon waste then they absorb, this gives the humble Pod the well earned nickname carbon sink, defined by Wikipedia as a reservoir which accumulates more carbon from the environment then it excretes.
As a key component in the nutritional well being of many animals, the amazing aspect of pods is their sheer percentage of protein they bring to the dinner table. Pods are one of the most nutrient dense organisms on the planet at an average of 50% Protein. Animals, such as, seabirds, invertebrates, both freshwater and saltwater, as well as whales & many other fish, survive primarily on a diet of pods. .
When considering what these small but mighty creatures will do for your reef tank, consider this: Uptake of waste, super food of protein value, and a natural super organism. Why would you not wan them in your tank?
Considering all that they do and are responsible for, it is easy to say that copepods are the most important creature we can own.
Today I was watching our Banggai Cardinalfish which are a fabulous reef safe fish. I suddenly realized – everyone with a reef aquarium should have 3-5 of these fish. If you want an elegant reef safe schooling fish that looks super cool, this is the fish for you. You may have heard this fish called by a few other names. They are often referred to as a Banner Cardinal, Kaudems Cardinal or a Longfin Cardinal Fish. Banggai Cardinals are typically around 2 inches at max size. The coloration of the Banggai Cardinalfish is quite impressive. The silver tan body is punctuated with black stripes, containing white polka dots like markings. My group of Banggai Cardinalfish are extremely docile, making this one of my favorite schooling fish.
Banggai Cardinalfish are limited to the Banggai Islands of Indonesia. With such a small geographic habitat, it is critical that aquacultured specimens be your first consideration. Without a concerted effort by the aquarium industry to demand sustainable options, over-harvesting & ultimate extinction is a real threat. Fortunately, these beauties breed easily in captivity, and multiple aquafarm facilities have started breed programs for Banggai Cardinals for the aquarium trade in large, consistent quantities.
One of the most amazing sites to see is a group of young Banggai Cardinals hiding within the spines of long spine urchins. These fish are commonly found in shallow pool of 500+ animals grouped together hiding from predators among the long spikes of the urchins.
At a recent trip to one of our wholesalers, I noticed several very small Banggai Cardinals which had recently been born swimming among the selection of leather toadstools. They were as small as a standard pencil eraser on the end of a yellow #2 pencil. Grabbing my Nikon fitted with a 105 Macro Lens & Underwater housing, I quickly began shooting their pictures but to no avail. I will attempt another photo shoot shoot so you can experience this wonderful birthing event.
CoralFood: Easy recipe & guide – how the pros do it every day.
Coral Food – What they need, what they like & how to make it!
Coral Food: We know that corals eat in the wild and yet some forget that corals eating in captivity is the job of the caretakers. We must take responsibility for directly providing coral food daily. Target feeding or supplying a large amount of free swimming foods are your best options.
Target feeding coral food requires patience, dedication and preparation of the food source. You can buy premixed frozen foods or you can make your own by following the recipe at the bottom of the post. Typically it is best when targeting feeding to turn of the pumps so that the animals have the best possible chance of catching their dinner as it goes by, but it is critical to remember to turn the pumps back on within an hour. Unless proper, well functioning skimmers and clean up crews are in place, any leftover food will quickly breakdown into waste and cause excess algae growth.
Supplying a buffet of coral food will frustrate the perfectionist as this approach almost insures excess algae growth etc. It is an easier approach by simply adding phytoplankton, pods, rotifers etc to the system on a daily/weekly basis but the excess load can encourage excess algae growth. Once again – proper well performing skimmer and clean up crew do go a long way in nutrient export and will assist in keeping the algae growth to a minimum in most cases.
There are issues with both options as with anything. Remember – we are attempting to house a closed eco system within our living room, replicating nature will increase our success substantially.
Typically I examine the oral area of the coral. If it looks big, chances are strong it will eat BIG food particles. You can start with smaller food and work up!
In kitchen blender, add thawed mysis shrimp, krill, blood shrimp, cyclopeze, vitamins, HUFA. This mixture can be stored by freezing in slabs or kept in refrigerator in a airtight container turkey baste it on to them with the pumps OFF. I usually leave the pumps off for about 1-1.5 hours.
I like the ZoPlan and PhytoPlan by Two Little Fishies. Other people swear by DT’s Phytoplankton- Find a source for phytoplankton and your filter feeders will be forever grateful! Many large mouths corals love Copepods. Below is a photo I took several years ago of my dendrophyllia eating amphipods & copepods. It doubled in size in less than a month by enjoying these yummy treats! I have also fed Live Pods to Anemones, Blastomussa, Scolys, Chalices & Lord Acans just to name a few.
Dendrophyllia eating pods
I have included a handy guide for preparing coral food below. Enjoy!
Sun Corals are NON photosynthetic – meaning that they do not need sunshine for life – but they must have meaty foods & flow.
Sun Corals are some of the coolest corals available within the coral market because they will eat and eat, and once they are in the habit of eating at an exact time, they will extend their “fingers” at the exact time EVERY day!! It is easier to train a sun coral than some children!!
My sun coral is pretty accustomed to eating every day around 9:30pm. However it will extend whenever you put any food in the tank. I blend up some mysis shrimp, krill, blood shrimp, cyclopeze, vitamins, HUFA and turkey baste it on to them with the pumps OFF. I usually leave the pumps for about 1-1.5 hours. Just don’t forget to turn them back on! 🙂
You can also feed them defrosted mysis shrimp with the turkey baster or pieces of silver sides. They LOVE to eat.
Please remember when you are feeding sun corals, anything that is not eaten will break down into YUCK – which if left in your tank will raise your nitrates, phosphates and cause issues. So… make sure you have a good protein skimmer and plenty of clean up crew to remove leftover food & waste.
Here are the easy steps to follow:
1. Tempt the coral with a VERY diluted mixture of mysis shrimp (just the liquid from the shrimp) no actual shrimp. Defrost the mysis shrimp in saltwater and then using a turkey baster gently blow the liquid around the sun coral. Do not remove the coral from its place in the tank – which is why I say dilute the liquid mysis very heavily. Do this every day at the same time for 2-3 days.
2. By the third day, you should see the coral beginning to extend it “fingers” – they are sticky and will catch meaty substance for eating. You can begin to add some pieces of mysis into the water mixture – I generally slow the current down so that the coral has ample opportunity to catch the food.
3. Feed daily at the same time – if you want the coral to be active and pretty in the day time – make it a noon feeding time.
Position in the tank: they like moderate flow (to catch stuff as it goes by) and LOW light. On the reef they are under ledges, etc….
Here are 6 tips to getting your new saltwater aquarium off to the right start:
1. Choose your poison very carefully. What I mean is – with your saltwater aquarium do you want a friendly nice communal tank or do you want an aggressive tank.
Beautiful Saltwater Aquarium Fish
No matter what size saltwater aquarium you have – you can do either if planned well. So think about the main fish & animals you like then make a list. Classify each animal by the following characteristics: Mature size potential, Food Choice, Schooling or Solitary, territorial or friendly, Cold water species or warm water species, etc.
Many people simply combine the items in such a way that the animals are doomed right from the start – this is heartbreaking for everyone and unfair for the animals. So think ahead when planning your saltwater aquarium.
2. Choose your substrate – deep fine sand bed or shallow crushed coral. Either works fine – but a combo of both or a variation of either can cause problems. Here is a quick explanation: Deep fine sand bed houses Anaerobic bacteria (meaning in the presence of oxygen the bacteria will die). Therefore a deep sand bed (3-4″ deep) consisting of fine sand will allow the bacteria a large surface area to grow and thrive yet also keeping water from flowing around the particles of sand located under the first inch of sand bed. Shallow crushed coral beds house AErobic bacteria – these bacteria must have water to live as they are like fish in need of oxygen. The importance in this bacteria is that they eat nitrates – so by simply setting up the aquarium with this bacteria in mind at the beginning of the journey can automatically eliminate the issue with nitrates. ** remember – unlike a freshwater tank – if you have a deep sand bed – please do not siphon the sand – remember ANaerobic bacteria will die in the presence of water so siphoning the sand is a big NO-NO!!
3. Many people claim that a saltwater aquarium is harder than a freshwater aquarium. This is completely untrue. The main difference between saltwater and freshwater is the set up and equipment. If a saltwater tank is set up correctly from the start, it is far easier to care for long term. Getting the substrate correct, having live rock which also houses many different types of good bacteria and investing in a good protein skimmer are the 3 easiest things to do to be on the right path for a successful saltwater tank.
4. Once you start adding animals – plan you approach carefully. Since you have a list of animals you want to add to your saltwater aquarium – classify them as territorial or friendly. A great resource I use frequently is WetWebMedia.com – add the territorial fish LAST.
5. When thinking about saltwater corals – making your choices in the beginning can help avoid problems in the future. For example, acropora prefer pristine water and mushrooms prefer water with more nutrients. You can successfully keep both in the saltwater aquarium however it will require more attention to water changes, feeding and excess algae growth. When adding corals – think about your tank as real-estate. If your tank is 4′ long then you basically have 12′ of space to work with if we divide the space in sections from top to bottom as follows – high light, medium light and low light. By making a list of the corals you want and then classifying them as follows- you can determine before you make the first purchase a plan to follow and avoid the heartache of a new piece of coral failing to thrive. Here are some suggestions: Lighting: low, medium, high. Flow requirements: low, medium, high. Food choices, stinging – aggressive coral. Photosynthetic or non-photosynthetic.
6. Be aware: Some corals can overtake a tank. This may not be a problem if you never want to keep hard sensitive, slow growing corals. It may be a blessing to get a soft coral that you can encourage to grow on the back of the glass like a shag carpet – this makes everything easier if you never plan to add high dollar, slow growing corals. Remember, just like in real estate, location, location, location. So if you have a slow growing coral that needs high light in your saltwater aquarium and you add a fast growing coral that likes high light – guess who wins. You can keep both in the same saltwater tank – but this will require committed approach to harvesting the fast growing coral weekly to avoid it growing over the slow growing corals.
Below is a helpful guide to make this a bit easier!
Saltwater Aquarium Snails can be classified a few different ways but for the use of snails in aquariums, it is most helpful to think about what they eat.
First consider this, unlike crabs, saltwater aquarium snails consist of a large meaty body… so if they die they will produce a LOT of waste.
Waste becomes Ammonia which becomes Nitrites which becomes Nitrates which then feeds the Nasty Algae.
Simple Infographic displaying the Nitrification Cycle in an Aquarium.
So if you buy the wrong snails or to many snails you will actually increase your algae instead of reducing the algae.
Lets look at the 2 main food substances consumed by saltwater aquarium snails.
1. Algae – algae eaters get a lot of attention because everyone thinks they are the god send for the aquarium. This is partially true. They are great for eating algae … However to much of a good thing is a bad thing when it comes to algae eating snails. To many snails .. not enough food … Snails die …. algae is fed from the death of snails so you end of with more algae. YIKES!!!
2. Detritus eaters / waste eating snails. Now these are your TRUE friends. They keep the house clean in ways you may never know or think about.
A safe recommendation for snail stocking is:
Algae Eating Snails: 1 per 5 gallons of tank water
Detritus Eating Snails: 1 per gallon of tank water
The other consideration is the type of snails. As with people, all snail palates are not created equal. So variation is KEY.
Some snails like green algae (ie: Turbo Snails) on the glass, while Cerith Snails prefer brown algae on the rocks.
My favorite detritus eating snail are Nassarius Vibex.
Snail biodiversity is key to eliminating
nuisance algae issues.
I noticed several saltwater hermit crabs piled up at the front fighting for food, as I watched my saltwater aquarium after feeding time. Their antennae raised and lowered in a warning communication call. It was fascinating to watch them duck and dive for the food pieces, maintaining their distance from each other yet still attempting to steal the morsels.
Hey, That’s Mine!! Get your Own!
One of the best uses for Saltwater Blue Leg Hermit Crabs is the reduction of Cyano Bacteria aka Blue Green Algae aka Red Slime Algae. I conducted an experiment with a patch of slime algae and 100 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs. The pictures speak for themselves!
Red Slime Algae Before Hermit Crab Addition
After Blue Legs Hermits ate all the Red Slime Algae
The diversity of saltwater hermit crabs is amazing, from blue legs, green legs, brown, red, scarlet, white and black. Additionally there are many that have some type of patterned design; ie: halloween, blue knuckle, etc. Some grow very large while other stay small. The diets are very different as well, from carnivores to strict herbivores. Blue Leg Hermits typically will utilize a shell from a whelk, turbo or cerith. I have seen some pretty inventive hermits who took up house in pieces of sponge, dragging it around on their back.