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Recommendations for reef safe schooling fish

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osterman

Larry
Joined
Nov 17, 2003
Messages
47
Location
Ballard, WA
My new 240G has cycled and I want to add some fish. One advantage of a larger tank is that I can have a school or two. I'm looking for recommendations for what will be primarily an SPS tank--high light, high flow, 80F, lots of rock, heavy skimming, the usual. No DSB, and I'd like to get by without a fuge. I've read the several threads about schooling fish here at RF already but I think there's probably more experience to be tapped. And if anybody has a school they'd like to sell or trade for....

As for compatibility, I'll keep the usual tangs or rabbits for algae control, wrasses to eat flatworms and just because I love them, possibly a mandarin if I have enough pods, maybe a mated pair of clowns and an anemone or preferrably an anemone-substitute. Basically nothing too unusual.

Actually, I went ahead and added what you might call the "default" school, a group of 10 blue/green chromis. Now I'm looking for a second school, up to 10 fish or so.

Other possibilities and what (little) I know about them:

Anthias: Active feeding behavior. Charming interactions with cleaner shrimp. Males (yes, one per school) can be spectacularly colorful. But only a few species suitable, because many are aggressive, require low light/temps, or special feeding. (This according to Scott Michael's excellent treatment in his big book.) The Stocky (also called Pink or Truncate) Anthias, P. hypselosoma, is a hardy, high-light-tolerant, non-aggressive species, but not especially attractive to me. Anybody successfully keeping a colorful anthias suitable for a reef tank? Lyretail (P. squamipinnis) perhaps?

Heniochus: Fascinating highly active schooling behavior, but get too big even for a 240, also may not be reef safe.

Dottybacks, assessors: Recommended by LFS (yes, Chuck, it was an RF sponsor :). Colorful. Orchid dottybacks available captive bred from ORA. Can be expensive. I might prefer these if they don't have the drawbacks of the anthias.

Comments on these or other schooling fishes?

Thanks for any help.
Larry
 

Wolfesbane

Seahorse Wrangler
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
337
Location
Auburn, WA
I might be wrong, but I don't think pseudochromis and assessors school at all. In fact, I've always known them to be rather territorial. They're all great fish and I love my blue assessor, I just don't think they're schoolers.

~ Steve
 

osterman

Larry
Joined
Nov 17, 2003
Messages
47
Location
Ballard, WA
Scott, thanks for asking, the tank's not much more than a pile of rocks right now, so I'd be embarrassed to post a picture for this crowd. Another six months and I'll have something to show.

Dottybacks not reef safe? The sources I'm reading say they may eat ornamental shrimps and such, but won't bother corals. Sealab, sounds like you've had a bad experience, though?

Perhaps I'd just be happy with a small group of fish that generally hang out together, not necessarily a fish that swims in unison high in the water column or anything like that. I guess that opens the field to a lot more fish, though, such as the damsels?

Butterflies are out of course for a reef tank. Don't adult tangs of the same species fight with each other? Just asking, don't have a clue. I think a group of half-a-dozen not-too-big tangs of the same species would be gorgeous.

From what I've read maroon clowns can only be kept singly or as a mated pair. Experience to the contrary?

-Larry
 

jazznreef

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2003
Messages
219
Location
Seattle/Magnolia
No Larry, it was intended as a joke. They are some of the most antisocial fish out there. My sick sense of humor got the best of me. I wouldn't even keep one maroon in my tank.
 

Alice

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 18, 2003
Messages
1,108
A few of the eel-like gobies will school in small groups; scissor-tails, Zebras and one or two others I can't recall off of the top of my head. They tend to be out more when in a group - safety in numbers, I guess.

You might try for a pair of something a little more unusual if you can't really find another schooling fish. I've always wanted a pair of Ornate Leopard Wrasses. :)
 

osterman

Larry
Joined
Nov 17, 2003
Messages
47
Location
Ballard, WA
Kevin, if I were to get Lyretails, I'd probably order them through my LFS, so I could have a look at them first. I'm told the colors vary from shipment to shipment. I wonder if these are true variants due to place of origin, or age of fish, or treatment during shipping? Do these animals ship well in general?

jazznreef, I see, kind of like recommending a school of male bettas to a freshwater enthusiast. I'm usually the one pulling other peoples' legs, but you got me--THIS TIME. :)

Alice, great suggestions, will look into the gobies. In another tank I have a single Leopard Wrasse (M. meleagris) that is a truly beautiful fish. Scott Michael claims you can keep one male with multiple females. Mine accepts frozen mysid, but I'd worry about keeping a number of them in a fuge-less, substrate-less, low-pod system.

Your mention of a pair reminds me that in theory I like the idea of keeping more than one individual of the same species, just because it's kinder to the fish. Of course, some species are solitary except at mating time, but many of the species we keep are social, and given enough space, can be kept in pairs or groups. IMHO, not meeting a fish's social needs is like keeping a tank at the wrong temperature, or whatever. Do I exaggerate?
 

kevinpo

Expert
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Messages
2,287
Location
Spokane Valley, WA
Lyretail Anthias colors vary by locale. I think that the ones from Fiji look the best and have the best looking males. They ship well. Raw shrimp cut into very fine pieces will get them eating quickly. After that freeze-dried plankton, Formula1 frozen cubes, and Nori or similar seaweed is readily accepted. They need to be fed at least 3 times a day for the fist 1-2 months after that twice a day is fine and even once a day will work.
They have an added benefit in that they will cause your other fish to be out more and feel safe. In the wild they serve as dither fish.

Regards,
Kevin
 

Alice

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 18, 2003
Messages
1,108
Osterman,

True on a low-pod system. Does your single wrasse accept prepared foods at all? Though with some fish, even with eating prepared foods, if they are "hunters" and pod eaters, they still sometimes will not fare well w/out natural food in the tank.

I love some of the anthias; others look too much like goldfish to me, but that's just my $.02 ;)

And no, I don't think you're exaggerating. The Vulcan 7-year mating thing comes to mind when I think about solitary fish in tanks.

But maybe I just think too much. :D
 

osterman

Larry
Joined
Nov 17, 2003
Messages
47
Location
Ballard, WA
Alice, my leopard does eat prepared foods, but I've only had it for 6 months or so, so maybe I'm in for an unpleasant surprise. I do have a productive fuge attached to that tank, however, and the leopard looks fat and happy.

I agree some anthias look a bit like goldfish, but their behavior certainly is more interesting, compared to the goldfish that just sort of lumbers around the tank like a cow.

Kevin, that's what you call an alpha male. I may like this fish just because he could teach me something. BTW, which angelfish is that juvenile at the bottom of your picture? Reef safe?
 

kevinpo

Expert
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Messages
2,287
Location
Spokane Valley, WA
This is the Fiji version of the supermale. The neon blue edging on his fins wasn't captured in this picture.

The angel was sold to me as a Majestic but when it changed it was the much larger less reef safe Blueface. I had to remove my Favia and meat corals. It nips at some of my SPS but not too bad. While it was growing up it went through periods where it liked certain corals but overall not a threat in a tank my size with the amount of corals I have.

Regards,
Kevin
 

Crows Ridge

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
103
Location
Eugene, Or
Larry, show us pics of your other collections then until its time for the unveiling of the 240:D

I have Anthias. They look similar to the Lyartails, but I bought them as yellow anthias. They are great! Between yellow and orange, blue stripes under their eyes, blue eyes and the male has a great dorsal and spike.

I have 4 and would like to add a few more. They had one at the LFS that they said was male, but I am sure it was another type. It would not come out of the LR and I assume starved to death.:( They school great, lay around on the LR at times and are a great addition. 6-8 would be great I think.

Frank in Portland had some type that were small. The male would herd the females up about 5pm into the corner behind the powerhead for the night. Very interesting, but he could only see them on the weekends........................

Good luck, Chris
 

Alice

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 18, 2003
Messages
1,108
Chris, did they have a light purple horizontal stripe on them? Could be evansi. They are one of my faves.
 

kevinpo

Expert
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Messages
2,287
Location
Spokane Valley, WA
I had 6 females but one turned into a sub-male. Now the super-male has to spend time chasing him often which leaves the females more time to bicker among themselves :)

Kevin
 
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