Other System Components

Control the temperature of each system by installing a heater having 5 watts of heating capacity for every gallon of water. Temperature fluctuations do not stress only the fish; beneficial bacteria may respond negatively, also.

For housekeeping purposes, nothing beats a few small hermit crabs. In fish-only tanks such as those described in this chapter, stray bits of food will invariably be missed by the fish. Hermits are expert at cleaning up, and will also feed on algae. I suggest adding any of the species mentioned on page 71 at one per fifteen gallons.

When using coral rock, allow about one-half pound of rock per gallon for the model designs in this chapter. This much rock will occupy approximately half the space within the tank, leaving the rest as swimming room. An open expanse of water shows off the fish to their best advantage.

You may have little choice when it comes to background color. Tanks designed for use with a wet/dry filter, which is what I recommend for all but the smaller systems here, come predrilled, with an overflow box permanently installed. Most of the time, the tank also has a built-in background to match the overflow. Usually, they come in black, black, and black, although some manufacturers may offer optional colors. If any of the options make sense to you, and you don't mind waiting to special order the tank, you may want to consider the background colors I have suggested. You can also order the tank with a black overflow and a clear back, to which you can apply any color of paint you desire. In this case, you may want to arrange rocks or coral to help obscure the overflow box.

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