New to Reefkeeping (Advice Welcome!)


Reefing newb

I am new to Reefkeeping in the sense that this is my first personal collection. If you count my experience working at my town's local Petco, then it's actually eight months experience, compared to two months personal.

In my time on the job, I have cared for both freshwater, saltwater, and a few brackish fish at the store. I also have experience with aquatic turtles, pond koi, and aquatic and terrestrial plants.

I will readily admit that I have had mixed success at work, especially with inverts, but it has gotten much better with time. I have cared for a limited selection of saltwater fish, mainly damsels, tangs, smaller triggers (although, at work, we have an undulated orange-striped trigger who was supposed to be a Humu Rectangle), clownfish, smaller dottybacks, smaller wrasses, pygmy angels, cardinal fish, Blennies, and snowflake moray eels.

As far as inverts are concerned, we started with anemones, small hermit crabs, turbo and astrean snails, and larger cleaner shrimps, but we've begun branching out into soft coral polyps, squamosa clams, smaller shrimps, crabs, feather dusters, and the VERY occasional small-polyped stony coral.

At home, I have two ocellaris clowns (naturally), a skunk cleaner shrimp, clove polyps, and several turbo snails, as well as my fair share of hitchhikers. I've done a lot of research but despite that, I am still learning new things (my most recent example being that I should've soaked my live rock in coralRX to avoid unwelcome hitchhikers).

Basically, I just wanted to introduce myself and ask for suggestions on invert and fish purchases, ID'ing hitchhikers, and absorb any info that I can pass along to my customers and friends who are taking the leap with me into FOWLR, Reef and Nano Reef Saltwater systems.
Hello and welcome! I too haven't heard of anyone dipping live rock.

For hitchhiker IDs, here are my two favorite sites:

Melev's Reef - Visual Identification

Live Rock Hitch Hikers

That site has a ton more of great articles (including IDs for fish and coral diseases, pests, etc).

If you have any specific questions, feel free to post them here. If you need things ID'd, you can post a picture in the Identification forum. It's nice to see someone that works in the industry out there learning more about what they sell and the animals they work with! Your customers are lucky.
I had read it on a forum earlier today while making the rounds and finding some new hitchers. At current count, I've got five (but probably more) peanut worms, at least twenty spirorbid worms on glass and equipment, some growths that look like white forams, a tiny feather duster, a tiny spiny serpent star, and what appear to be zoanthids but I'm not ruling out majano or aiptasia anemones because they spread quickly after I upgraded lighting. I know pictures are better, but I haven't seen anything yet that I can't identify. I'm just amazed that they survived a dry shipment and are thriving.
Yep, fish have been known to be hitchhikers on rocks too! It really is amazing how some stuff survives, especially when you actually see it out on the reefs, like SPS covers itself in mucus to defend from the sun ect. Its awesome!
Aiptasia are like cockroaches You see one.....I wouldnt dip LR because in my opinion the good hitchhikers out weigh the bad. Welcome to the site....:D
It feels weird honestly, having a saltwater tank, just because I've done it at work and it's always been work so I never really got to enjoy it. I did necessary maintenance and I had (if i was lucky) five minutes to study the animals' acclimation before moving on to other tank systems' maintenance schedules or helping customers with problems or selecting new fish.
So I'm spending all my spare time just watching my clownfish chase each other and my more aggressive one wriggling up on the other, and seeing my cleaner try so hard to entice both of them to come on up and get groomed.
My lineup that I want to have (100th time revised, or so it feels like):

2 ocellaris clowns
1 springer's dottyback
1 six-line wrasse

1 skunk cleaner shrimp
7 turbo snails
clove polyps
colt coral (alcyonium spp)
ricordea yuma mushroom
blue mushroom polyps
bird's nest coral

I know that last coral is a stretch in a 55 with other polyps and only HO lighting, but do you think i could manage it with regular feedings of filter feeder food? My lighting is two t5 HO bulbs, each with 75 watts, one actinic, the other normal lighting ("Ultra" from ZooMed). The filter feeder foods I am currently using are MicroVert from Kent and Phytoplankton from Two Little Fishies. I am also going to get Cyclop-eeze in the future. Anything else I should add to my list, given I could swing the bird's nest in my tank?

As with the fish, in a perfect world, that dottyback would have no problems with the six line wrasse, but I've read that he's not as aggressive, and that's why I have planned to introduce him before the wrasse. I have an extremely proliferant pod population so I know that no one will go hungry (especially the wrasse), but I know that in small tanks, he's really aggressive. Problem is, every source I have read that on, doesn't specify what a small tank is. With my stocking list being small (ish), would I fare better or is my system what you'd call small?
I think my next google search is going to be about where to find metal halide lighting for cheap. Then again, ebay doesn't sound too bad. (I would visit a local shop, but I live near Memphis, TN and well, let's just say NONE of those local shops are in what police call peaceful neighborhoods.) And I know that petco doesn't have what I need.
Hello and Welcome!

Sadly, feeding wont make up for poor lighting because they get most of their energy from a light source. I would also be careful about feeding so much because you could easily create a water quality issue that may turn into a horrible algae problem when you have more light.

I think the dottyback and wrasse will be on the same aggression level, so the order of addition shouldnt matter much.
I was gonna say that there are these guys but so many people bash them. I have a 150w MH pendant that I bought from them three years ago and as I look to my left it is still working just fine.........
Have you considered investing in LEDs? The long-term costs are much lower and the dimmable ones can be had for <$200 nowadays.

Also, if I were you I wouldn't do more than about 5 turbos....especially in the beginning. They're voracious algae eaters and unless you have an algae problem they could starve. I would do 2 or 3 to start, personally, and then add in some other varieties like Astrea, Cerith, and DEFINITELY a bunch of narcissus snails as they're terrific at keeping the sanbed clean.

Good luck in everything!