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SW Stocking Guide

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:47 pm
by Crazygar
Beginners Aquarium Stocking Guide For Marine Systems
by: Kieron Dodds (KDodds)

You may not have any fish that is more than one half the length of your tank's shortest side at adult size. It must also be less than or equal to one quarter of the length your tank's longest side. (Reasons: Any given fish must have enough elbow room to move around. Larger fish put out more waste than smaller fish when measured in a linear fashion. Only Adult sizes are considered here because juveniles need both "room to grow" and, since many juveniles like to hide, room for them to be comfortable in their surroundings.)

1. Measure the length and width of your tank and multiply them. Then, divide by 20. This is the maximum number of inches in fish you can keep at adult size. (Reasons: Why not gallons? Well first, comparing linear lengths of fish to volume of tank is comparing apples and oranges. But, it goes deeper than that. While the volume of water in a given tank is important in diluting the nutrients/waste, surface are is likely more important for gas exchange. Also, fish do not swim vertically, they orient themselves to gravity and swim horizontally, another reason why Surface Area is far more important than Volume.)

2. Multiply the adult size of each fish by the following depending on species:

    Slow, Herbivore: 0.75
    Slow, Omnivore: 1.00
    Slow, Carnivore: 1.25
    Fast, Herbivore: 1.25
    Fast, Omnivore: 1.50
    Fast, Carnivore: 1.75

(Reasons: Herbivores put out less waste than omnivores put out less waste than carnivores. Slow species generally have slower metabolisms than fast species, thus putting out less waste. Also, carnivorous species tend to be more "aggressive" towards tank mates, requiring more space.)

3. Multiply the results of the above by the following depending on species:

    3" or under at adult size: 0.50
    Over 3", but under 6" at adult size: 0.75
    6" or over, but under 10" at adult size: 1.00
    10" or over, but under 18" at adult size: 1.25
    18" or over at adult size: 1.50

(Reasons: Smaller fish put out less waste than larger fish. Additionally, smaller reef fish tend to stay more near the rock work, whereas larger species need more "open water" room.)

4. Multiply the results of the above by the following depending on species:

Damsels, or any other aggressive species kept with congeners: 2
Other territorially aggressive species, or any species kept with congeners: 1.5
More peaceful species kept without congeners: 1.00
(Reasons: Marines, in general, are very territorial. Damsels are probably the worst where this is concerned. However, Tangs, Angels, Triggers, etc. will also require more "elbow room" due to territorial aggression, especially if similar fish are stocked and seen as competition.)

5. Add all of the adult fish lengths together for each individual fish, your number may never exceed the number you get in step 2.

Choosing Fish For Marine Community Aquariums

1. Pick a fish you must have. (Reasons: Everyone knows at least one species that they want to keep. Just imagine throwing each one out, one by one, until there is only one species left, that's your "Pick" fish. There must be a starting point for this to work, so this is as good as any.)

2. No other fish may be more than +/- 3" of that fish's adult size. (Reasons: While it is certainly possible to mix fish of greater/lesser size, it is much easier for the beginner to adhere to this rule to minimize predation and bullying.)

3. No fish may deviate more than +/- 1 points in the speed/habit scale below:

    Slow/placid = 0
    Slow/normal = 1
    Slow/aggressive = 2
    Normal/placid = 1
    Normal/normal = 2
    Normal/aggressive = 3
    Fast/placid = 2
    Fast/normal = 3
    Fast/aggressive = 4

(Reasons: Fish are not ornaments, they will interact with one another. Shy, retiring species may be bullied by more aggressive, outgoing species.)

4. Individual species should be kept according to habit: Species which are aggressive towards their own kind should be kept singly, with no other fish that might seem like the same species because of Genus or outward appearance.
Schooling species should be kept in groups of 6 or more. (Reasons: Fish seem to do better in natural circumstances.)

5. The tank should be as closely divided as possible according to the following:

    1/6 of tank occupants should be cave dwellers. These are fish like Grammas, Pseudochromids, and Jawfish.
    1/2 of the tank occupants should be rock dwellers, utilizing the rockwork, but not tied to a particular location. These are fish like Flasher and Fairy Wrasses and Dwarf Angels.
    1/3 of the tank occupants should be "open water" dwellers. These are fish like Chromis, Tangs, and Triggers.

(Reasons: Even the most placid reef fish need some elbow room. Providing a variety of habitat types ensures that each species has enough room in their "preferred space". Cave dwelling species will rarely venture out into the open waters for the majority of the time, preferring to stay near their "homes" throughout the day. In most tanks, cave sites are going to be at a premium, therefore, these species should be very carefully considered and a number of potential "homes" should be available for them to choose from before they're added. "Open water" species exhibit the same behavior in reverse, but will seek "cubbyholes" to sleep in at night. However, they require much more swimming space than cave dwellers. Rock dwellers typically make the most of both areas and are the most efficiently stocked due to the fact that they can and will utilize all areas within the aquarium.).