Reefing newb
I have a 46 gallon bow front running a Whisper 40 and a Whisper 60. I had originally set up a 20 gallon saltwater tank(running the 40) and switched everything over around a month ago. The 20 had been established for 6-7 months, and everyone was doing well. In starting, I lost a brittle sea star and 2 yellow tailed damsels(as soon as I put them in...thinking bullying. First fish.) all that being in the first two months. I lost a sea urchin around the 4 month point. When I switched, I lost my fire shrimp, and I believe that was because he got his tentacles caught in the filter. :frustrat:

We have (and have had for 6 months) 2 yellow tail damsels, 2 blue fin damsels, 2 domino damsels, 2 four stripe damsels, and a Neon velvet damsel. Also we have a Coral Banded shrimp, hermit crabs, an emerald crab, and a pink and green sea cucumber. :sfish:

After testing the water over a several day period, everything tested at 0. So we went to the pet store and purchased a pair of mated sebae clowns and their host anemone, a Haitian condylactis. When I got home, i tested again PH was 8.2, Ammonia was undetectable, Nitrites were less than .25 ppm, and the Nitrates were less then 20 ppm. Since nothing was CRAZY high, I added everyone. At first, the anemone was closed up. He opened up over the course of the night. Yesterday morning he had shriveled up. After the lights came on, he came out and looked GREAT all day.(including immediately after a 10% water change.) About an hour before I went to turn the lights out, he was shriveled again. This morning, i tested the water again. PH 8.2, Ammonia was undetectable, Nitrites were undetectable and the Nitrates were 40 ppm.:frustrat::frustrat::frustrat: (really confused on that one...did a water change and it went UP, while everything else went down?) I use tap water that I treat with a dechlorinator. I also add trace elements once a week and PH buffer when necessary. This morning, I have had the light on for nearly 2 hours and he is just now puffing up and coming out.

The one thing I haven't yet mentioned is my light. I have a SolarplexHE Deep Blue 24" light with 4 led moonlight on the tank right now, so almost 50 watts. I know that's a watt per gallon, but it is directly over the anemone. half the tank isn't lit, so its more like 2 watts per gallon. I intended to get a new light at Christmas ..(well, my mom is buying me one.) the guy at the pet store said that we wouldn't need to worry about lighting...I am just concerned about the well being of the anemone and wondering if he will make it another 19/20 days until Christmas or if I should tell my mom to get me something else and go get the new light myself...this is the light i plan to get: LCD Timer 36" 234W 6x39 Fluorescent Actinic T5 HO Aquarium Light Fixture Marine | eBay
What will happen if he does pass? Hes still stuck firmly to the rock, and is just now starting to puff out for the day. I know i need to get him out asap if that happens But what will the clowns do? Will they host another anemone? Also, would putting some macroalgae help my Nitrates problem? I can go get some later this afternoon.

Sorry this is so long winded we really got into saltwater not knowing much about it because the guy at the pet store said it was easy, (which its not been bad) and now we are hooked. Unfortunately we have two young children and dont have a disposable income to spend thousands on this system.

Thanks in advance!!!


PS water temp is 75.5...keep it there/77
Last edited:
Your nitrates are high because your tank is WAY over stocked. I'm surprised you haven list more of your fish to aggression. As far as lighting, its definitely not enough for most anemones but I don't know much about the condy's. I'm sure others wil chime in.

I wound look into upgrading those lights, and reducing the number of fish in your tank
Your tank is overstocked for sure. Also anemone require very stable parameters to make it, and any detectable nitrites is a bad thing. Your light really isn't powerful enough to sustain an anemone, and watts per gallon isn't a reliable way to measure because there are many different kinds of light. At the max you can have one fish per 10 gallons, and if you have all those in there it's not surprising that you're having issues. I'd do some research and possibly take some of those fish back to the store.
Hi and welcome to the site. I agree. 1 fish per 10 gallons is the rule of thumb to follow in saltwater -- so for your tank, about 5 fish total. So you are at double the healthy stocking level for your tank.

Anemones are very difficult critters to keep in this hobby. Much more difficult than coral. That is because they require higher lighting and perfect water conditions. Your lighting is nowhere near strong enough to keep anemones or corals.

Condy anemones are not normally hosts to clownfish. They do not naturally host any fish. If the anemone gets sick or dies in your tank, it can wipe out every other animal in the tank with it. They are considered "expert only" animals and it's recommended that they only be added to mature, established tanks.

Some signs to look for -- white color. No healthy anemone is white. White means it's bleached and sick. If it detaches from the rockwork and floats around, that's a bad sign. If it stays constantly shriveled up or has an open, gaping mouth, those are bad signs too.

I would definitely take the anemone back to the store and about half your fish back. And switch stores if they are misleading you with bad advice like telling you that lighting doesn't matter for anemones...

You will want to get your water parameters back in check in the meantime. Detectable ammonia and/or nitrites can be fatal to your tank inhabitants. Water changes are the best way to do this. Good luck. :)
+1 to everyone

I also want to add that using tap water is likely contributing to your nitrates - I'd recommend looking in to getting an RO/DI unit - the ones from Bulk Reef Supply are pretty reasonably priced.

Also, those damsels are mean fish. Given that you are overstocked, I'd recommend returning all of your damsels and then adding some more peaceful fish to your tank. Those guys are likely to kill your clowns and each other!

Finally, I'm thinking your shrimp may still be around. They molt frequently and are notorious hiders. I'm guessing what you saw in your powerhead was in fact a molt.

Welcome aboard! They have you covered. Way too many fish for a salty tank unfortunately.
There are people successfully using tap water in this hobby but that is rare. Your tap water may have nitrates in it to start with and who knows what else. A RO/DI unit is a great investment. I would also get that new light sooner rather than later, especially if you decide to keep the anemone.
Good luck and don't hesitate to ask questions! :D
Welcome to the site... you will need to get different lights and reduce the number of fish like they all said. There are some options on lighting. I went with made in China lights from aquatraders and have been happy with them. Saved me a ton of money I didnt have. Its hard to see bad news I know on the fish but keep it up salt tanks are the best looking thing you can have in your house once you get the hang of it.