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· TRT Staff The Mominator
11,825 Posts
After doing a couple of small SW tanks with my kids' schools, one thing to keep in mind is that the tank is going to have periods where it will have to be left to it's own devices. Will your school allow you in to care for the tank over Christmas and Spring breaks? (That is assuming you'll have the tank set up that long.) Here, the teachers are not allowed in the schools during the breaks (costs too much money :rolleyes: ) so the classroom animals are either returned to the Living Lab or are "adopted out" over the breaks. You can't easily do that with a fish tank.

Even for long weekends you are going to need to set up an auto top-off device to keep your salinity stable and you'll need a very reliable heater as schools don't waste money on heating the building over breaks; I'd suggest an Ebo-Jaeger. You'll also need timers for the lights.

Letting live rock mature in your tank is truly amazing; my kids were absolutely fascinated by it and I still find critters every so often that make me say "What the heck is that??"

On the subject of fish, Anthias need to be fed more often than many SW fish so I don't think they'd be a good choice. You're also more than likely not going to see much schooling behavior in a 50 gallon tank, you're more likely to see squabbling, especially with Chromis.

Clownfish will host with just about anything if they are of a mind to want a host; everything from powerheads, lol, to large Hawaiin Feather Dusters. Soft branching corals like Colts, or the variety of leather corals or even fuzzy/hairy shrooms would be a good starting point as well as good beginner corals.

Agreed on the shrimp/goby pair. The shrimp will dig and maintain the burrow, the fish is the "guide dog" for the shrimp. They'd do fine in crushed coral as long as it's not too large in size.

Cleaner shrimp are good; kids can see the commensual relationship between the shrimp and the fish they clean; besides, they are hermaphrodites and their larvae will provide free fish and coral food.

I could go on and on about fish selection in small tanks, lol; I love picking fish but you're best bet would be to get a copy of Scott Michael's PocketGuide to Marine Fishes-indispensable when fish shopping, IMO.

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