I have been out of the saltwater arena for 20 plus years, and am thinking about giving it another try. I'm thinking about setting up a 50 gallon tank with live rock, soft corals and a few anemones, along with a few clownfish. I want to keep things simple and started to acquire some of the items I would need. Picked up an Eheim 2224 professional filter unit and a 36" light system that had been made by Custom SeaLife (company out of business). It has two twin 96W tubes, one labeled ultra actinic and the other 6700K ultra daylight. The other items I planned to add are a Venturi driven skimmer and an outside filter to hang over the back of the aquarium, which would return water to the tank at the top breaking up the surface. However, after reading your answer to another reader of FAMA/AFI, I am having second thoughts about this endeavor! I realize things have changed over the years, but the article left me feeling like there's no longer any way to keep it simple any more!
I'm 70 years old and am choosing a smaller tank to reduce the amount of maintenance and complications. I would love the challenge and the relaxation the tank would provide, but feel somewhat that things are now over my head. Do the mix of inhabitants pose additional up-keep problems? Any advice would greatly be appreciated.
San Diego, CA
Thanks for the letter and as in any form of hobby in today's world, those interested in it have taken it to new levels of involvement, which can speak highly for their interest and caring. In fact, the more we know about our beloved hobby, the more we can properly care for our wet pets. And manufacturers have also contributed greatly as they have listened to our desires for better equipment and food products and have delivered by producing new and much improved items.
As for your desire to re-enter the hobby, starting small and keeping it simple is the way to go. Unfortunately, your thoughts on keeping more than one anemone in this small aquarium is incorrect, as only one per aquarium, except in very large systems is feasible. Furthermore, the lighting fixture you have may not suffice, as intensity and spectrum are two important aspects in anemone maintenance, and both are questionable in my opinion. Nevertheless, it might still be upgradeable, but we need to discuss it further. Also, would highly recommend keeping only one pair of clownfishes, preferably small juveniles, as they will develop into a pair and defend their anemone/aquarium space from all others. And in the smaller aquarium, that's an aspect to keep in mind if other, different species fish are added. Remember, these are 'damselfish,' and they can be very aggressive to others in the aquarium, especially in smaller systems. And aggression can lead to disease problems!
To help facilitate the entrance back into the hobby, let's talk more about it as I would like to build on your previous experience and be sure the right selection of animals are chosen and that the needed equipment is available to maintain them without any 'do-overs!' I'll also give you my thoughts, if desired, on other 'details' such as salt mixes, additives, sand type/depth, corals, etc.
Hope this helps,