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LesMelling
09/04/2016, 08:04 AM
Why I choose smaller fish over the larger specimens for my reef aquarium.

Many years ago I made a conscious decision to concentrate of keeping smaller specimens of reef fish and in as large an aquarium as I could afford to have and run. No large tangs, angels or the like for me. At the same time I also made the decision to try as much as possible to house my fish as they would be found in nature.

I won't keep any open water fish and only those that stayed close to the reef structure and corals just as they would be found in their natural habitat on and in the reef. I also keep my fish in pairs, trios or small groups again as they would be found on the reef. What I am attempting to do is mimic as much as I can a natural environment for my fish and believe they are happiest that way. .

There are many reasons I chose to go down this route not least of which was for the concern of the welfare of the fish in my care. However there are more reasons that I think we should consider when setting up our reef tanks and our choice of fish. The following is the main reasons I went with my decisions.

1/As above IMO we all have a moral obligation to provide the best care we can for any animal we keep. We are the custodians of those animals we incarcerate in their glass box. IMO If you can't meet the requirements of an animal then don't keep it, it really is as simple as that. We have a duty of care which entails many things from space to diet to tank mates, there are more of course.

2/ By choosing fish that naturally stay close the reefscape and corals we are mimicking their natural enthronement. This has many beneficial effects on the fish IME. Our fish will feel secure in familiar surroundings. Fish will feel less stressed (always a good thing right?) They will be healthier, often more colourful and even less aggressive to others. Your fish are likely to live a longer life and be more healthy as a result.

3/ When we house fish in as they are found on the reef in pairs or small groups many will nest build and spawn as mine often do while others are pelagic spawner’s of course . EG, I have a pair of common clowns that spawn continuously, a group of damsels that do the same. A pair of pinstriped wrasse that spawn, a pair of Royal grammas that I am sure are spawning and so on.

Many fish that I have heard people say are boring come alive when they have a mate after all fish live to eat and reproduce along with self preservation. I have 2 different species of gobbies along with partner pistol shrimps in a symbiotic relationship as my clowns are in their Red Bubble Tip Anemone. BTW I would never keep clowns without a host anemone as they are never found in nature without one and yes I know about clowns doing well without an anemone and even spawning without a host nem.

4/ Lets take a look at the so called age old stocking fish ratio in relation to size of fish per gallon. 5 x 1” damsels does not equate to a 5” angel for instance with regards to bio load so there is less pressure on your filters. I am not suggesting you can therefore cram your aquarium with a lot more fish as a result however.

Having said that most small fish are almost constant feeders so I feed a little and often and provide a good varied diet but that is for another post. Most my fish are opportunistic feeders feeding on what comes their way in the water column but I digress.

5/ My fish enjoy a predator free environment, sure there is the odd squabble as with my 5 star damsels but they are so preoccupied chasing one another they have no time or any other fish in the aquarium it would seem. However these squabbles never end in any injuries to any of them not even a nipped fin. I recently introduced a pair of Purple Firefish, none of my fish including the damsels have given them a second look.

There are other reasons I have chosen to keep my reef as I do and I could expend on the above but I have covered most of if not all the main reasons for my choice, my fish have no option after all.

Finally I would like to think given the choice or returning to the reef with all the perils that await them or staying in the 5 star Hilton I call my reef aquarium they would choose the latter. I have no real way of knowing this but all appear very healthy and contented with what I provide in my 100 gallon reef tank. I am not trying to preach to you all at all as these are just my thoughts and philosophy towards my animals and reefkeeping.

BlackTip
09/06/2016, 10:22 AM
Great post, thanks

hartin461
09/06/2016, 10:34 AM
Good thoughts that any pet owner should follow. Thank you

LesMelling
09/06/2016, 10:42 AM
Great post, thanks
Y W. Just my take on reefkeeping but not to everyones ideas and thoughts on the hobby.

LesMelling
09/06/2016, 10:45 AM
Good thoughts that any pet owner should follow. Thank you

Thank's, just the way I have seen it for quite some years now. I don't mean nor want to impose my ways on anybody and of course there are those who have a different opinion as we see often with many peoples tanks.

OrQidz
09/09/2016, 11:24 PM
I completely agree! Sounds like your fish have a happy home in your tank.

Tradewinds
09/14/2016, 07:01 PM
Well said Les. I noticed my docile blue tang become aggressive as it grew larger. It was traded into the LFS store, hopefully to find a home in a larger tank. So as not to start a debate please note that I had it in a 180 gallon tank.

Besides the fish you mentioned, I would be interested to hear which fish you keep in your tank.

I once kept a fresh water male Betta and two females in a 20 gallon tank for similar reasons.

LesMelling
09/15/2016, 04:42 AM
Well said Les. I noticed my docile blue tang become aggressive as it grew larger. It was traded into the LFS store, hopefully to find a home in a larger tank. So as not to start a debate please note that I had it in a 180 gallon tank.

Besides the fish you mentioned, I would be interested to hear which fish you keep in your tank.

I once kept a fresh water male Betta and two females in a 20 gallon tank for similar reasons.

I have kept many species of fish in groups or pairs. Currently I have the following in my reef aquarium.
Pair of pin striped wrasse
Pair of common clowns
Pair of Royal Grammas
Pair of Purple Firefish
6 Allens Damsels
Pair of Talbots Damsels
Pair of Red Scooter Dragonets

Others I have kept in pairs or groups include
Pairs of dwarf angels African flame backs and Cherub angels
Pair of Snake Pipe fish.
Pair of Tomato clowns

Yellow gobies
Pair of 6 lined wrasse
Pair of Common firefish
Groups of Neon Gobies
Pairs of Mandarins
Small groups of Fang Blennies
Trio of Convict Blennies
Trio of Yellow wrasse
Various small Damsels in groups
Various Cardinal fish in groups
Pair of Skunk clowns.

I have probably forgotten a few more.

m0nkie
09/27/2016, 06:17 PM
cool write up. I'm currently designing a huge tank. Planning on keeping small fish only.

However, the issue I'm facing is aquascaping. I want to keep it minimalistic. But that means not enough space for tons of small fish.

I'm designing 3 rock structure look. Keeping as much gaps in between the rocks as possible for the small fish to hide

ThRoewer
09/29/2016, 02:46 AM
I have been following the approach to keep fish (or shrimp and crabs) in pairs or groups since the 80s.
This is the list of species I keep or kept in pairs or groups over the years (I likely forgot a few):

Fish

Anemonefish
Amphiprion allardi
Amphiprion clarkii
Amphiprion latezonatus
Amphiprion melanopus
Amphiprion nigripes
Amphiprion ocellaris
Amphiprion percula
Amphiprion perideraion
Amphiprion polymnus
Amphiprion sandaracinos
Amphiprion sebae
Premnas biaculeatus

Damsels
Chrysiptera cyanea
Chrysiptera hemicyanea
Chrysiptera parasema
Cryspitera starcki
Dascyllus trimaculatus
Pomacentrus coelestis

Angels
Pygoplites diacanthus
Centropyge loricula
Centropyge argi
Centropyge acanthops

Butterflies
Chelmon rostratus

Roundheads
Calloplesiops altivelis
Assessor flavisimus

Basslets
Gramma loreto

Dottybacks
Pseudochromis fridmani
Pseudochromis springeri
Pseudochromis dutoiti
Pseudochromis aldabraensis
Pseudochromis cyanotaenia
Ogilbyina novaehollandiae

Jawfish
Opistognathus aurifrons
Opistognathus randalli
Opistognathus rosenblatti
Opistognathus whitehursti (not totally sure if it was precisely this one)

Gobies
Stonogobiops nematodes
Stonogobiops yasha
Cryptocentrus cinctus
Lythrypnus dalli

Dartfish
Nemateleotris magnifica
Nemateleotris decora

Cardinals
Pterapogon kauderni

Dragonets
Synchiropus splendidus
Synchiropus picturatus

Blennies
Acanthemblemaria hancocki
Ekemblemaria myersi
several other barnacle and signal blennies
2 species of Mediterranean blennies (self collected)

Pipefish
Corythoichthys sp.
Doryrhamphus exisus
Doryrhamphus janssi
Doryrhamphus melanopleura
Dunckerocampus pessuliferus
Dunckerocampus multiannulatus
Syngnathoides sp.
Several Atlantic species (self collected)

Seahorses
Hippocampus kuda
Hippocampus reidi

Wrasses
Pseudocheilinus hexataenia

Hogfish
Bodianus bimaculatus

Shrimp

Stenopus cyanoscelis
Stenopus hispidus
Stenopus tenuirostris
Stenopus zanzibaricus

Thor amboinensis
Periclimenes brevicarpalis

Lysmata ambionensis
Lysmata debelius
Lysmata wurdemanni

Alpheus bellulus
Alpheus randalli

Crabs
Neopetrolisthes maculatus
Petrolisthes spp.

Trapezia septata

BlackTip
09/29/2016, 02:55 PM
When I started my tank a year ago, I wanted to keep all fishes in pairs, but I was told by many people here not to, because most fishes are aggressive towards own species. And mated pairs is rare.

LesMelling
09/29/2016, 02:59 PM
When I started my tank a year ago, I wanted to keep all fishes in pairs, but I was told by many people here not to, because most fishes are aggressive towards own species. And mated pairs is rare.

I and a few others have constantly proved may wrong with regards the the above. Yes there are fish that are more difficult than others to keep together but most IME can be with a bit of care and understanding of each needs.

tamanning
10/01/2016, 09:23 AM
I have been keeping for about a year now. I have a 55gal display with a thirty gal sump I made. My lighting is an aquaticlife four t5ho 2 actinic 1 6.5k grow light and 1 10k. I am keeping a mix of lps and sps and I have 4 little fish. 1 clown two cardinals and a cleaner blenny. My clean up crew is 1 coal banded shrimp 14 red legged hermits and 120 cerith snalis and 2 mex. turbos. I keep 26 or 25 gravity. I have 70lbs of sand 50 fine capped off with course crushed coral. 40lbs of live rock stacked with as many gaps as I could make. I have seeded the tank and sump with pods and I have macros in my sump with my skimmer and sock filter. I am currently building a phosphate reactor. I am trying to create as natural an environment as possible. any sugetions?