We are coming into the last, ‘major’ installment in our how to setup a reef tank series wherein we discuss adding fish, what cycling actually means, and the short and medium term maintenance of caring for a new reef tank. We already confessed in our previous video that adding corals to a reef tank is our favorite part of the aquarium setup, but we’re sure that for many reef folk the tropical reef fish are the main event.
Unlike corals which have a very very small footprint on the nutrient load of the mini reef aquarium, fish are a whole other category altogether. Being larger and more complex aquatic animals, fish have a higher metabolism and therefore need much more food, and they produce much more waste in a reef aquarium.
You could never add fish to a saltwater aquarium and still call it a reef, populating it instead with higher invertebrates like mantis shrimp or cephalopods, but we’re confident that is not why you are here. The point is that the metabolism of corals is such that you can add several to a reef tank without much consequence to the biological load of the system, but every fish you add will need some food, will add some waste, and there is a finite amount of fish you can add to a given volume.
It is much more important to pay attention to your mini reef aquarium’s capacity to filter the water when adding fish, than with corals. Therefore you really want to take it slowly when adding fish to a new tank, not to mention making sure you have healthy fish, and that you add them in an order which won’t ‘lock in’ the pecking order of your fish population.
Our first step in adding fish to our 20 gallon mini reef was a pair of Mocha Storm Clownfish from Sea & Reef Aquaculture. It’s actually been two weeks and we’ve since added a trio of nice, orange mollies to act both as dither fish to make the clownfish more comfortable, to eat up leftover food, and to also act as miniature surgeonfish gobbling up any undesirable algae and growth.
At this point we have what most would consider a healthy, successful young mini reef aquarium that only needs time, attention, and very basic maintenance to continue thriving in the long term. We want to thank everyone who helped bring this mini-series together, and especially all of our viewers watching along. We’ll continue to update this reef and what we’re doing to it at infrequent intervals and try to spotlight the pertinent details when we think they are important to emphasize, so be sure and subscribe so you never miss another exciting Reef Builders Video.