Getting ready to begin my first saltwater tank, looking for advice.


New member
Hi all, I'm Raven8 and I'm both new to this forum and new to this side of the aquarium hobby!

By this side, I mean that I have been a freshwater enthusiast for the majority of my life. I've kept tanks of all sizes and fish ranging from "Oh, forgot to take care of it this month" to "Oh crap, I haven't checked on it for an hour!". However, this will be my first journey into the salty side of the hobby, so I wanted a bit of pro advice in regards to my current plans. But first, some back-story!

I have been working at a local fish-centric pet store for the past 6 months. In that time I've been slowly building a knowledge-base thanks to the store's manager who constantly tells people to come here when learning and knows enough to stagger me at times, and the owner who seems to be a walking encyclopedia on aquatic life. In that time I have been happy sticking with freshwater, but in the past two weeks or so my family has expressed their desire to begin a salt-water tank. As such, I've started my preparations and due-diligence, part of which is this. Another part is watching 52 weeks of reefing... dang there's a lot to learn ._.

What I've done thus far
  • Chosen my tank. I am opting for a 13.5g Fluval SEA EVO, as seen here: I know that the recommended starting point is 30g or so, but I am prepared to do some micro-management, and this is all that I really have room for at the moment. My manager has one and said that the lid is very tight fitting, so it doesn't suffer from much evaporation.
  • Picked out my rock. A few days ago I purchased roughly 15lb of dry lace-rock from where I work, and am currently curing it. I did my aqua-scaping in a demo tank and am very happy with how it's going to look in the end. It is in a bucket at work with filled with salt-water and an aerator for flow. I threw in a dead molly to get some ammonia into the bucket and intend to let it sit for roughly a month now. I will change the water every 2 weeks or so.

What I fully intend to do
  • Purchase live sand. I am thinking roughly 1.5-2 inches of live sand will be my goal here, depending on what I end up adding to the tank.
  • Purchase a heater. This goes without saying.
  • Purchase a tiny circulation pump. One issue that I see with this tank is a lack of flow. As such, I'm going to end up buying a tiny circulation pump.
  • Purchase a protein skimmer. There is a model designed for this tank, so I will most likely end up purchasing it sooner or later.
  • Let the rock cure for at least a month, and then let the tank cycle for roughly the same amount of time. I am cutting no corners and intend to play it safe on all fronts.

    And now that the needs are out of the way, here is what I WANT once the tank is up and running. Note that this is not "I will shove all of these into the tank and see what happens" and more "this is my mental list, I know that only 1/3 of it or so will work most likely.

    High Priority
    • An ocellaris clownfish... or whatever the tiny guys are called.
    • An annenome that the clownfish will host on.
    • Dragon tongue/fire fern macro algae. This is pretty much all that I personally care about, as I absolutely love the stuff and know that it will help take nutrients out of the water table/reduce other algae growth.
    • A basic clean-up crew. Mainly thinking a few small hermits, as snails are likely to take out my dragon tongue. Maybe a Nassarius or two?
    • Pulsing Xenia. Likely going to put it on an island-rock so that it doesn't completely take over.

    Lower Priority
    • A Watchman/Pistol shrimp pair. We have a pair at the store, and I love watching them. Main issue that I can think of is keeping them with a clown in such a small tank.
    • An emerald crab. My understanding is that it may eat my dragon tongue, so I've all but thrown this one out.
    • SOME form of small crab. Don't care what, just so long as it doesn't hurt the macro algae/coral/fish.
    • Some form of coral. Just so long as it's A: not too delicate, B: not dangerous to anything, C: will fit in with my tank nicely, and D: pretty.
    • A brittle/serpent star. One that's small and won't hurt anything.
    • Some form of small starfish. Just not a common white asterina. Those things are everywhere at work....
    • Some other free-swimming fish. Just so long as there won't be an issue with the clown. I'm thinking 2 fish max here.

      So that's my current thought process/planning. Any thoughts/suggestions/critiques would be greatly appreciated. Like I said, I am just getting started on this side of the hobby, so my current goal is simply to learn!

      Thanks in advance!