Inheriting a 65 gallon, new to saltwater

Discussion in 'New Hobbyists' started by PhunkeyPhish, Aug 11, 2018 at 11:07 PM.

  1. PhunkeyPhish

    PhunkeyPhish New Member

    Hi everyone,

    My fiance is taking back her 65 gallon saltwater aquarium that her parents have been taking care of for the past 6+ years. She used to be really into saltwater aquariums, but has kind of fallen out of it. I am pretty experienced with freshwater aquariums, but completely new to saltwater. Our current tank is in some disarray and needs some help. Currently we have one clown fish, one dottyback, a snail, a ton of mushroom coral, another kind I haven't identified and a tiny purple xenia.... and a TON of bubble algae!?!?

    I posted a pic. Our initial plan with the tank was to clear out a lot of the mushroom and add a few different kinds of soft coral and maybe some hard coral in its place. Increase our invert load to help counter the algae load. I thought about getting 2 molly miller blennies as well to help with clean up. She really wants another yellow tang since she had one in the past (I think the tank is too small from my reading, but that is a battle I'm going to lose). We also talked about wanting to get an ORA captive bred mandarin. Just wanted to get some advice on what kind of invertebrates, what types of fish or if those fish combinations work out and some suggestion on what type of coral might be good options. Any other tips would be appreciated, as well.


  2. silverado61

    silverado61 Well-Known Member

    Hi PhunkeyPhish and welcome to the best forum to get all the information you'll ever need to keep your tank up and running smoothly.

    Sorry but I was unable to open the photo you tried to post but I'll still try to answer some of your questions as best as I can.

    First, lets address the Tang issue. First and foremost, Tangs are built for speed and need as much running room as possible. They also grow fairly large and a 65 gallon just wouldn't be big enough in the long run. In planning your fish stock it's always best to know what size tank they'll need as adults. A minimum 6ft long tank is needed to keep them happy. If they get startled they could shoot across the water column and slam into the glass causing serious injury. They also have a thin slime coat and are easily stressed which makes them prone to catching Ich which, as you know even being into freshwater tanks, can be deadly and is very hard to get rid of. It can even infect all your other fish. LLE, Lateral Line Errosion is also a common illness for these fish.

    Check with your LFS and see if they will take in your Mushroom coral as credit towards another purchase.

    On to the Bubble Algae issue. First you need to figure out what's causing the bubble algae to show up. Ventricaria and Valonia spp. bloom in aquariums, reproducing mainly by two methods: vegetative budding growth and formation of "daughter" cells within each bubble. The reproductive cells become clear and the tiny newly formed daughter cells can be seen inside. The original cell wall becomes soft and breaks, releasing thousands of new bubble algae. Popping these bubbles during removal attempts will also release new cells into the water column where they settle in your tank and grow into new algae. The main cause of Bubble Algae is Nitrate levels. Only a couple types of fish are known to eat Bubble Algae unfortunately your tank is too small to house any of them and Blennies will have no effect. However, Diadema Urchins (Long Spine Urchins) and Emerald Crabs are known to have some success at consuming Bubble Algae. That, plus reducing your Nitrate levels through small weekly water changes, reduced feeding, bags of activated carbon, and Macroalgae such as Chaetomorph, will go a long way in reducing Nitrate levels. Macroalgae will out compete problem Algae for food.

    Regular water testing will help you keep track of your Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels. Use a quality marine testing kit such as Salifert or Red Sea. API test kits have proven to be somewhat unreliable as far as accurate results so I would advise against using it this one.

    As far as Mandarin fish? Though some can be trained to eat fresh or frozen foods, most are live feeders only and will only except foods such as Copepods and maybe Amphipods so you'll need to keep a steady supply available. Some will eat Brine Shrimp but they have almost no nutritional value unless they are newly hatched Brine Shrimp with the yolk sacks still attached.

    You'll need to invest in a CUC (Clean Up Crew). A variety of snails will help with keeping various Algae at bay. Nassarious snails will help keep your substrate turned and clean as well.

    I hope this offered a little bit of help and advise to your situation. Keep the questions coming and try to post that photo again.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018 at 9:09 AM
  3. PhunkeyPhish

    PhunkeyPhish New Member


    Thank you for the great advice! Also, thank you for helping me win the debate about the tang. With your help I have convinced my fiance that we should not get a tang and rather wait for the eventual day that we upgrade to a larger aquarium.

    The advice you gave about the algae makes a lot of sense. I have a pretty good understanding of the nitrogen cycle, not only from my experience with freshwater tanks, but also my strong science background. I can definitely say the water has not been being changed very frequently at all! Her mom has been having maintenance done by a fish guy, but I know it has been at least more than 4 weeks since anyone has touched the aquarium or filter, other than for adding evaporated water back, or scraping the walls. We just closed on our house today and the tank should be getting to us next week so I will start those water changes pronto. With my fresh water tanks I always had activated charcoal as part of the filtration, that seems to not be so with marine, why is that, or is that not a thing.

    I have read what you said about the mandarins before, but I thought that perhaps the captive bred ORA mandarins took and did well with commercial foods. Is this not the case?

    Do you have suggestions for fish that would be good to add to the existing clown and dottyback in a 65 gallon?

    Thanks for all your help. I have tried the image again, although could not find the original and this one was doctored by google.
  4. lmforbis

    lmforbis Administrator Staff Member

    I use carbon filtration in my tank all the time. I actually use both carbon and granulated ferrous oxide in reactors. I do buy a higher quality carbon from bulk reef supply than is typically sold at fish stores
  5. beaslbob

    beaslbob Well-Known Member

    I recommend you look into macro algaes (in a protected space called a refugium) to balance out and stabilize the system. It will also help prevent nuisance algae like the bubble algae.
  6. jay0705

    jay0705 Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome. You have gotten solid info thus far. Not surprising bc Silverado, imforbis, and Bob have been at this for awhile.
    I agree w all comments above, so I wont rehash too much of them. Mandarins will eat frozen. This is fact, i have 3 various ones currently that do. HOWEVER, long term survival is debatable. I've had them eating brine, mysis, even pellets. Maybe they last 8 months to a yr. I truly believe they need pods to thrive. They will eat frozen but not enough of it to live long term. That said scooter blennys fair much better, there just a bit more drab.
    Emerald crabs devour bubble algae, however there safety w coral is debatable.
    Fish options with your current stock? A few I like dwarf angel, hawk fish, one spot fox,midas blenny, fairy wrasse
    I hope this helps
  7. Jesterrace

    Jesterrace Active Member

    I agree on the Tang. About the only one I would feel comfortable recommending for that size tank would be a Tomini or maybe a Squaretail (they max out between 6-6.5 inches and tend to cruise the rockwork rather than being open water swimmers). I had a Yellow Tang in my 90 gallon and he tried to claim the whole tank for himself when he was only about half size.

    To give you an idea here is what the Yellow and a Coral Beauty looked like together in my 90 gallon:


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