Good Fish for a Small Reef Tank

For one reason or another, my site has been getting some hits from people searching for “Good Fish for a Small Reef Tank”, even though I’m not sure I’ve ever posted anything on the subject.  With that in mind, I thought that I might as well write up a little article documenting what I’ve learned in the past couple years setting up my tanks.  Please keep in mind that most of what I have learned comes from reading a bunch of garbage online, and eventually screwing things up before learning how to fix my mistakes.  Another thing to note is that this info is only applicable for a reef tank.  I’m not personally a fan of FoWLR tanks (fish only with live rock) so I’m not the best source of information for that sort of setup.

What type of fish you put in your tank depends on a number of things, but first and foremost on what you WANT to put in your tank.  If you’re going to have a reef tank (which I would certainly recommend on nothing more than personal preference) then make sure that whatever fish you put in your tank is reef compatible, meaning that the fish won’t destroy your corals.

Another important thing to factor in is the size of your tank.  Are you running a 10 gallon tank you got from your local pet store?  Do you have a new BioCube?  Maybe you’ve got a 20 gallon long.  “Small” means different things for different people, but be aware that the smaller the tank, the fewer fish you’ll want to have.

A lot of people go on youtube and see beautiful videos of the smaller BioCube aquariums that have got 5-10 smaller fish in them and are packed with coral.  While these are amazing to look at, I can promise you that those tanks don’t survive without a fair amount of human intervention (either by dosing, filtration, or massive amounts of water changes to keep all the nitrates down).  Over stocking your tank will result in unhappy fish, high nitrite/nitrate/ammonia levels, and generally a lot more work for you.  I’m not going to tell you what to do.  Maybe that all sounds like fun to you.  To me however, I’d rather have a tank that I can enjoy without having to work on every day just to keep things alive.  It also makes it a lot easier if I want to go on vacation and need to have one of my friends come over and feed my fish.

I know that I still haven’t given you a straight answer yet, but it’s important that you know the factors that go into what I believe is a good reef tank before I can give you any sort of recommendations.

There are so many good fish for small tanks.  While I’m not going to list them all, my rule of thumb is if you’ve got a 10 gallon tank, I wouldn’t go with more than one fish that could potentially grow to be more than 2.5″ in size.  One important thing to note is that there are a lot of wonderful fish that fall into this category that are school fish or fish that like to pair off. Personally I would avoid these.  They will probably do just fine, however I hate the thought of taking a fish that would much rather live in a pair or a school and sticking them in a tank alone.  There are plenty of fish that generally hate being around anything else alive that would love to live in your small tank all alone.

If you have a 20 gallon tank, then I’d consider going up to something that pairs as there are few things more amusing to watch than a pair of fish interacting with each other. I know everyone has them, but clown fish are wonderful fish (even for first timers).  They are beautiful, they have a TON of personality, and they are very robust (being damsel fish).  There are also more varieties than I care to name so you can get them in almost any shape/size/color combination.

As you go up in size, you can go up in fish count.  If you add a sump/refugium you can again increase in fish count or size.  I prefer to have an understocked tank so that everyone has room to swim around and so that I don’t have to deal with as much maintenance as if I had an overstocked tank.  At the end of the day however it’s your tank and you can do with it as you please.  Just be nice to your fish and don’t put them into an environment where they will be unhealthy or unhappy.

I will try to post more articles as I go on, if for no other reason, to document the stuff I’ve learned by screwing things up.

For more info, click on the “Reef Tank Info” tag below.

Real Estate Investing Tip

From Rich Dad’s Real Estate Advantages (paraphrasing):

It’s important to have a team to help you.  Find a good lawyer and accountant.  Don’t get your law advice from an account or your accounting advice from your lawyer.

Go to local investment and real estate meetings.  These can be found in real estate publications, bulletin boards at collages, online, etc.  Ask realtors as they may also know the time and location of these meetings.

When there, meet people smarter than yourself who are into the same type of investing you want to get into and work to get them to mentor you.  Make sure to exchange something equally valuable (food, work, etc).

Datsun 510 Stuff

I’ve wanted to do a 510 for a while now.  If Garage Tune ends up getting new shop space, I’ll be picking up a 510 that’s for sale locally and beginning a new resto/mod build!  I just wanted to make some notes of some of the parts so I didn’t forget.

Radiator For Datsun 510 with SR20DET Engine Swap with Shroud & Fan

Solid Aluminum Cross member For Datsun 510 Supporting SR20DET Or KA24DE Swap

Silicon Radiator Hose For Datsun 510 with SR20DET Engine Swap

Thick Polished 304 Stainless Steel Mounting Brackets For Datsun 510 Rear Bumper

Aluminum Suspension kit For DATSUN 510, 6 pcs Set

SR20DE (non-turbo) Motorset w/Tranny (~1400 shipped on ebay)

Techno Toy Tuning’s 510 Parts Page

Extrudabody KIT: Nissan SR20DE/SR20DET ITBs

Summit Racing® Pro Sport Fuel Cells SUM-290112

Fab Auto 510 Parts Page

Outsourcing Jobs, Who Does it Really Help?

Due to our current economic environment (which I’ll get into in another rant) I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ways that we could potentially resolve some of the issues we’re all going through.  One of the issues that came to mind was outsourcing and it’s pros and cons.

Being a small business owner myself, I can certainly see the benefits.  I sold aftermarket automotive parts and at one point I wanted to sell my own brand.  First I shopped here in the US, calling around to numerous (15-20) parts manufacturers getting quotes and samples at great personal expense.  I then did the same for a number of overseas manufacturers.  Being a very small business and almost totally funded out of pocket, cost for quality was a huge concern.  I refused to put my name on junk, but at the same time, I had to be able to sell something that I could make money on.  I settled on two different companies – one state side, and one from Taiwan.  I purchased a small run from both companies (5 pieces each).  The US company costing me around 850/set, and the Taiwanese company costing me about 450/set.  Unfortunately as it pertains to customer service, I chose the WRONG US based company.  It took 8 months to receive the product that I paid for on day 1.  I paid more in credit card interest carrying fees than I could ever make in profit (the average selling price for these parts being around 950).  The Taiwanese company not only had the order done on time (2-3 weeks), but had the product on my door step in Nevada within their originally quoted timeframe.

After finally receiving both runs from both companies and examining the quality, I was relatively impressed.  Both were of equal quality in construction and materials.  I was very pleased.  For me, the shorter timeframe and better customer service for an equal quality product from Taiwan made more sense.  The price point made it so I could make a decent profit and afford to expand a bit. Who did this benefit?  Me, clearly.  It made it possible for a small business to stay afloat.  If I could have purchased a quality product from an American manufacturer and still made any profit, I would have absolutely done so.

Let’s look at this on a larger scale.  Take a large auto manufacturer for instance.  This auto manufacturer employs thousands of Americans, keeping them employed and paying them money that they can and will reinvest in the US economy. What happens if/when they outsource manufacturing to another country, essentially cutting their costs in half?  Do they lower the price on their cars?  Does they reinvest that money locally and hire more people, creating more jobs?  Unfortunately history shows us that the answer to both those questions is no.  They lay off the American workers, and pocket the increased profits.  This is an unfortunate example of the rich getting richer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some sort of hippy that believes everything should be made locally or that we should all live in tree houses and hug everyone, but I don’t believe in laying off hundreds or thousands, only to buy myself another vacation property, or a couple new exotic cars.

Unfortunately, there is little room for ethics in today’s money driven world.

I believe that the only way to solve this is to tax outsourced labor depending on the size of the business.  If outsourcing is the only way for a small company to stay in business and continue to employ the 1-10 people that they currently employ, then I feel that it should be taxed very little if at all.  If a large company wants to outsource and replace 10,000 American workers, then I believe they should be taxed to the point that they essentially pay for the welfare checks that the US government will then have to cut those 10,000 people until they find a job.

I’m sure there are issues with this plan, but I’m just one guy.  I’d hope that a government full of people who’s job it is to think of ideas like this could come up with something better – something that could keep jobs in the US, or at least tax those who outsource enough to cover the added financial stress put on our government by their actions.

Who knows.. these are just the ramblings of someone who’s sick of seeing campaign advertisements from two dudes trying to prove themselves the shiniest of two turds.

Tank Update (clean up crew, chromis, reef keeper lite)

So I’m not sure if I mentioned this but a few weeks ago I put a chromis in the tank and the poor little guy died.  I did some investigating and found out that it was due to my pH being super low.  Apparently when you use SOME types of dry rock, it can drop your pH way down until it becomes fully alive (3-6 months).  Since then I started dosing some SeaChem pH buffer, and it’s brought my pH up to acceptable levels (high 7’s low 8’s), the ammonia started to go up then down, diatoms started showing up, and the tank started to cycle the way it should have.  I’m still using the SeaChem Stability, and my ammonia has dropped to 0 along with my nitrites and nitrates.  After that, I ended up picking up a little hermit crab and let him roam around the tank.  After he lived 3-4 days, I went to pick up another Chromis, as well as a clean-up crew (4 conchs, 10 nasarius snails, a sand sifting star, and 10 red legged hermit crabs).

I was getting mad at my DIY ATO (though it was of NO fault of the ATO I learned), so I picked up a Reef Keeper Lite by Digital Aquatics.  It’s a cool little unit that has about a billion functions that I’m not even going to attempt to outline here.  I’m currently using it to control my fan, my pumps, my skimmer, and my pH dosing system.  I’ll probably expand it a bit here in the coming months to handle everything else like my lights, my ATO, and my return pump.

I also tweaked my Tunze 9002 Protein Skimmer.  Apparently it’s common to have them come from the factory poorly assembled, so I took mine apart, realigned the ventury and the output, and got it put back together and now it’s making much better bubbles and is a lot quieter.

I’m currently having a bit of an issue with microbubbles, but I’ll get them figured out.  I think that somehow they’re making it into the last chamber of my sump and getting pumped back into my tank.  I’m going to be putting some rubble rock in the first chamber and hopefully that’ll weed out some of them from even getting into the system.

Here are some updated pictures.