First Reef Tank- 65G Tank Ideas


New member
Hello! My wife and I got into fish keeping during quarantine like a lot of people. We started with a 9G nano tank, and have since added a 10G split tank for 2 Betta fish and a 45G freshwater community tank.

My wife likes the pretty fish, I like the weird fish. My in-laws have a 700G tank and it's gorgeous. We do a lot of the stocking and maintenance of it but after 17 years the tank does largely run itself so starting our own reef tank is a unique adventure for us.

We got a good deal on a 65G tank with a wooden stand, sump + plumbing, hand on back refugium and wooden canopy hood. We cycled it with rock that had been in the 700G's sump for 6 weeks, all "old" water from the 700G (when you're doing 150G tank changes its easy to get the 75-80 we needed) and dosed it with skimmer waste from the 700G to activate the bacteria already there and to activate the turbo start. I arrived at this method after talking to a number of people, but as is the case with fishkeeping a lot of things are anecdotal at best and you never really know till you try it. We had our water tested by our favorite local fish store (shout-out Marine Warehouse) and they said it looked cycled and to try some inexpensive fish and watch our levels. We added a pair of black O clowns, and after a week of stable levels have added a small YWG.

I know a 65G handcuffs you on size especially in regards to big fish. Some of the space will be used as a nursery tank for the 700G to raise small tangs, eels etc. We've done a lot of research and the only fish we are really settled on is a Midas Blenny.

My question for you knowledgeable folks, is for stocking ideas. I like the weird stuff (clingfish, eels, inverts) and my wife likes the pretty stuff (angels, tangs etc) we want a community of smaller fish and possibly one "showpiece" fish that will be very striking and give the tank its theme.

Any suggestions and theorycrafting is welcome. Thanks for your time and I look forward to your responses.

Vinny Kreyling

Premium Member
A dwarf angel like a Rusty or Flame, but not both. If you put an eel in you have to watch what they eat. There are plenty of small colorful fish like a Royal Grammar or Black Cap Basslet, again not both.


Staff member
RC Mod
I had a ghost eel (they said reef safe) eat 300.00 worth of fish before I could get him out. Beautiful. Efficient. Fast. And reef safe only means it doesn't eat coral. We all have our beginner mistakes.

I'd avoid tangs in a 65. For color, look to the blennies and gobies, excellent fish for that size tank. Also the royal gramma. And the jawfish are highly entertaining and some are colorful. Many marine fish are territorial and prefer to be alone of their you can tell if you add another. The bluegreen chromis is the only damsel that will (if solo) not cause you a problem. The addition of some tough corals if you have high enough lighting will also lend color. Stony coral requires calcium be added. Soft coral doesn't. I can tell you more about that if you see something you like. Just avoid the 'colored stick' corals (acros), which are delicate and fussy. I'd avoid rabbitfish in a 65. They go freaky as they get too large for the tank. And they're venomous. Anemones---generally no, not unless you're determined. They wander and they sting and they go inconvenient places.


New member
We have since added 10 blue legged hermit crabs and a royal gramma, all of which seem to be doing well. We leave town soon and my sister will be taking care of things so the current residents will have some time to settle in. The Gramma has found their cave and is surprisingly active in the tank for how timid I've read they can be, so that is a very pleasant surprise.

What do you think about Hawkfish? My in-laws have a Falco hawk in the 700G and he's one of my favorite fish because of how interactive he is. My wife and I both like the long-nose hawks, but I know they can be predatory

Vinny Kreyling

Premium Member
If you like 1 gramma you could add a few more for a school. They live normally in groups.
A Long Nose Hawk for me has only been bullish only once after being around a long time.
In fact I just bought 1 last week. Just remember the size of the tank you have.


New member
Interesting and good to know. I was under the impression that the royal grammas are territorial but maybe just not with their own species? Sorry if some of this is really novice material but I prefer anecdotal experience in addition to the "book learning" as well so your input is very appreciated.

We have a new development, I see a purple algae-looking thing that took some effort to scrape off of the glass. Research would imply it is coralline algae- which would be incredible because the tank is celebrating it's 5 week birthday today and supposedly that type of algae only grows when you have really good water parameters. If that is the case, then that makes me really happy. I'll include a picture in hopes of getting a positive or negative identification on it.

Long nose hawk seems like the last thing to go in the tank, if we get one at all. Next on the list after our trip is a Midas Blenny, and then perhaps a pygmy angel. I won a dare tonight involving blue cheese and my reward was I get to add any one fish of my choosing, regardless of if my wife likes it or not. I'll be adding responsibly, of course and my eyes are actually on a pygmy angel.

One additional thing, adding fish from the ocean? I have a piece of live rock I may or may not have grabbed when in the bahamas earlier this year. I dried it out for weeks and then added it to the tank when we began cycling, and it seems to be doing really well. Living in Florida, and traveling to tropical places a lot, I do find things that are interesting. Today, we found a fighting conch for example. I'd love to be able to swipe some of these things and add them to the aquarium but I would be terrified of bringing in unwanted pests/disease/bacteria with them. Is there a way to "clean" fish, or can you just Quarantine for X amount of days to make sure they're good to go?

Thanks again