Colorful Community Tank II Small

This would be my tank if I were interested in lots of bright color and relatively little care in a package compact enough for an office or bedroom. It is also the only model design in this section that calls for live rock, itself a fascinating aquarium subject.

Something of a hybrid between a fish-only aquarium and a minireef, this model design features three of the all-around best saltwater fish. The live rock can be of any variety you find attractive. Determine, with the help of your dealer, the optimum conditions for the type of live rock you select, and equip the aquarium accordingly. At minimum, you will need 160 watts of fluorescent lighting and extra powerheads to increase water movement.

Aquarium Capacity 75 gallons

Aquascape Materials crushed coral sand coarse grade live sand about 10 pounds live rock 50 pounds

Background black


Gramma loreto 3

Oxycirrhites typus 1

Centropyge argi 3


Lysmata amboiensis 1

Special Requirements

Provide reef tank conditions of lighting, water movement, and salinity.

The royal gramma (Gramma) frequents ledges, under which it often rests upside down. If possible, select a flat piece of live rock that can be used to create a ledge in your aquascape. Choose a single large fish and two smaller ones. This is likely to give you two females and a male. Two males may not get along, as will be evidenced by their mock battles. Each fish opens its capacious jaws as wide as possible, and pushes with them against the similarly gaping maw of the adversary. Such encounters end with the defeated interloper retiring to a crevice in the rocks, eventually to leave the area altogether. In the aquarium, the loser will have no place to go, and the interaction can escalate to a serious fight. Separate the two males as soon as you notice the jaw-jousting behavior. Perhaps you can trade the losing male for a female specimen.

Basic Low-Maintenance Designs 117

Basic Low-Maintenance Designs 117

The longnosed hawkfish (Oxycirrhites) prefers to perch in a prominent spot, alert to the slightest movement of potential prey. Plan to place a tall chunk of rock near the center of the tank, where the hawkfish can show off his picnic tablecloth pattern of red and white checks.

The angelfish (Centropyge) will patrol the entire tank. As with the grammas, choose one larger specimen and two smaller. This will, in all likelihood, result in a harem, the normal arrangement for Centropyge. These fish all start life as females. As they mature, larger and more robust individuals develop into males. The technical term for this phenomenon is protogynous hermaphroditism, and it is more commonplace among marine fish than you might think. In placing the rock, leave open space near one end of the tank to give these beautiful fish room to swim. They will benefit from filamentous algae growth occurring naturally within the tank.

All three fish species snatch food from the water column, and all three will take a wide variety of aquarium foods. Brine shrimp, mysid shrimp, live rock organisms, and chopped frozen diets all suit them. Offer a variety, including some products containing seaweed.

I suggest including two or three brittle stars as scavengers. Hermit crabs may be destructive to live rock organisms. Herbivorous snails might compete with the Centropyge for available food. The scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata) will do a bit of scavenging, as well as remove dead tissue and parasitic organisms from the fish.

Equip this tank with a minireef filtration system, including a sump with an efficient protein skimmer. Use metal halide lighting if you wish, allowing you to add photosynthetic invertebrates later. The pygmy angel may nip occasionally at corals or clams but seldom does extensive damage. Once the equipment is up and running, add the live rock and live sand, and run the aquarium for a month before adding the fish. Start with the grammas, add the hawkfish about two weeks later, and finish up with the angels. You must add the group of angels all at once, or you risk problems. If you add a single fish, it may not tolerate subsequent additions of others. You can avoid the problem altogether by including only one pygmy angel in your community. Add instead a pair of tank-raised clownfish, your choice of species. Then add the single angelfish last.

With either livestock option, this aquarium should be a stunning display after about a year. Remember that maintenance needs is the same as for a reef tank.

So many small community fish are imported these days, picking some substitutes for this tank is easy. Any of the dottybacks (Pseudochromis), for example, can take the place of the gramma, although unless you have a mated pair they will fight, so you can keep only one. That would leave room for a goby, such as Gobiodon oki-nawae, the yellow coral goby. The small, spunky flame hawkfish (Neocirrhites armatus) can replace its cousin. And various species of Centropyge are available.


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