Make a List and Check it Twice

Thanks for checking out Day 4 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Saltwater Aquarium Challenge. Your task today is to make a list (and check it twice).

What fish, corals and other invertebrates do you want to add to your tank?


Done brainstorming? Now look at the list and rank them in terms of importance/priority to you. If you’re using the free download, use the column next to the names to indicate which animal is your 1st most important, 2nd, 3rd, etc.

Finally, let’s take a look at aggression. In order to build a better aquarium, you’re going to need to add your animals to the aquarium in the right order. Territorial/aggressive fish species tend to do better when they are added to the tank last. So what I would like you to do now is to look at your list and rank the fish and corals in terms of level of aggression. That means rank your pseudochromis or damsel species last—and your docile species, like mandarin fish or jawfish first.

Congratulations, you took a few important steps in planning out a better aquarium.

  • You brainstormed important new animals you want to put in the tank
  • You ranked them in order of your personal preferences.
  • You ranked them in terms of aggression

This gives you clarity to know what is most important to you and even provides a recommendation for the ‘optimal’ order for adding them to your tank.

Two more steps to consider:

  1. Now look at your list to identify incompatible species. For example, did you put two different species of clownfish on the list? Or how about hawkfish and shrimp? Be sure to cross out any of the incompatible animals that are below the prioritized animal.
  2. Consider printing a clean copy to re-write your wish list in ranked order. All the information is already in the chart you created, but this will make it simpler for you to refer back to in the future. You won’t have to re-interpret all the rankings or question your rationale for prioritizing one over the other.

Check out the next day






7 responses to “Make a List and Check it Twice”

  1. Leslie

    This is exactly what I did when I started my tank…on a more “nerdy” level! I found a journal style notebook, and from day one I started writing everything going on with my tank starting with cycling to now. I write in parameters, anything I change or dose, maintenence, what critters go in, what dies…and generally what I did to kill it! I got a little lax for awhile so this is a good reminder to catch it up!

  2. Yvonne Galloway

    Can’t get to the list. Wants me to reregister.

    1. Hi, sorry for the frustration. After registering, you should have received this link:

      I really apologize, not sure why it’s not sending…looks like I need a 31 day email challenge for myself too. Thanks for your patience.

  3. Andrea

    I also crossed checked:
    1- if their needs for space will be satisfied with the size of my aquarium
    2- if they are reef safe ( because that will be the next step after the fishes).

    And I agree with Leslie about taking notes :c)

    1. Andrea, great cross check!

  4. John

    I pretty much have the fish I want but a nice trigger and a snowflake Monday are on my list of fish. Corals are another matter. I’d like a nice hammer and frogspawn garden. Lobophilia Scoly, acanthophilia. Just the short list.

    1. John, sounds like a great short list…although you may need a few tanks 😉

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