Ultimate Secrets To Saltwater Fish

Idiot Guide To The Marine Aquarium

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The species can he maintained only if its special requirements are met; such requirements can be provided in a home aquarium setting, given sufficient effort.

provided with a deep substrate in which to excavate a burrow. Lacking a burrow, jawfishes spend all their time hiding and thus starve. Seahorses and pipefishes (Family Syngnathidae) are also difficult to keep if not provided with abundant, living foods.

Creatures typically found in deep water, such as the Pinecone Fish {Monocentrus japonicus) and the flashlight

With these species, the problem is usually one of pro- fishes (Photoblepharon and Anomalops) seem to require dark-viding an adequate diet. The Achilles Tang (Acanthurus ness and living foods. These fishes are sometimes collected achilles) is an exception. Since it inhabits very turbulent water and grazes heavily on algae, it often fares poorly in aquariums with low water movement. On the other hand, its cousin, the Lipstick Tang (Naso lituratus), must have brown algae, such as kelp, included in its diet in order to survive long term.

Frogfishes (Family Antennariidae) all feed by enticing prey into the range of their cavernous mouths with a "fishing pole" that is actually a modified fin ray. Antennarids require regular feeding with live marine fish.

Callionymids, such as the popular Psychedelic Mandarin {Synchiropuspicturatus) or Mandarinfish (Synchiropus splendidus), feed exclusively on tiny benthic invertebrates and should be placed into a well-established system with an abundant natural population of benthic copepods. A typical corallivore, Rainford's Butterflyfish iChaetodon rain-


Species of Amblygobius, including A. decussatus, the fordi) should be shunned by knowledgeable marine aquarists

298 Natural Reef Aquariums

Chaetodon Collare Large

Table 14-2


Aspidontus spp. Exa/lias brevis Plagiotremus spp


Anampses spp. Labro ides phth irophagus

Mimic Blennies Short-bodied Blenny Mimic Blennies

Tamarin Wrasses Hawaiian Cleaner

Wrasse Leopard Wrasses Pencil Wrasses Stethojulis Wrasses


Chaetodon austriacus C. bar ones sa

Exquisite Butterflyfish Eastern Triangular

Butterflyfish Bennett s Butterflyfish Arabian Butterflyfish Meyers Butterflyfish Eight-striped Butterflyfish Ornate Butterflyfish Blue-blotched Butterflyfish Triangular Butterflyfish Chevron Butterflyfish


Oxymonacanthus longirostris Orange-spotted Filefish

C. bennetti C. melapterus C. meyeri C. octofasciatus C. ornatissimus C. plebeius C. triangulum C. trifascialis

C. zanzibariensis


Centropyge boy lei


Pseudanthias pascalis n Anthias and exported to the aquarium trade because they possess luminescent organs that hobbyists find intriguing. But they require husbandry at a level more commonly found in public, rather than private, aquariums.

Among the butterflyfish family are a few species that are neither easy nor impossible, with a curiously high number of species in which some individuals will adapt to the aquarium and some will not. The following butterflyfishes are slow to acclimate to aquarium conditions and may require careful attention for two months or more, some failing even then to flourish: Chaetodon capistratus (Foureye), C. collare (Red-tailed), C. ephippium (Saddleback), C. ocellatus (Spotfin), C. sedentarius (Reef), C. striatus (Banded), Chel-

mon rostratus (Copperband) and Chelmonops truncatus (Truncate Coralfish). Of these, the Caribbean species (Foureye, Spotfin, Reef, Banded) are readily maintained in public aquariums, suggesting that the problem may be one of continement or the need for a particular social milieu. The schooling, planktivorous species o£Heniochus, including the Pennant Butterflyfish (H\ acuminatus), may also be difficult if not kept in a group and provided with live foods.

Planktivorous fish species may or may not be easily adaptable to the aquarium, depending upon the size of the food items pursued. Smaller species, such as many anthi-ids, may need not only an appropriate plankton substitute but also the correct social environment. Other anthiids,

Chapter Fourteen 299

however, make very good aquarium specimens. This family is one that a novice should skirt, returning later as a seasoned hobbyist. Much depends upon the choice of species and the care with which specimens are collected and handled.

Among the invertebrates that require special husbandry are those that feed on plankton. These include sponges, nonphotosynthetic soft corals, such as Dendronephthya, nonphotosynthetic gorgonians, such as Mopsella, and the stony coral Tubastraea. Filter-feeding echinoderms include the delicate crinoids, or "feather stars," and the basket stars, close relatives of brittle stars. Apparently, the problem with many of these species is not in finding a satisfactory food. Cultured unicellular algae, brine shrimp, and microinverte-brates can be used to feed them. The trouble arises in providing adequate quantities, perhaps at frequent intervals, to meet the needs of larger specimens, such as the basket stars. There is also the danger of starvation when food cultures fail to perform as anticipated.

Australia Giant Clam

Badly overcollected in some areas, giant clams iTridacna spp.) are best acquired as captive-bred rather than wild-harvested

300 Natural Reef Aquariums

Thalassoma Lunare

The Blue Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita), being shy and difficult to feed, has a poor survival record in captive systems.

A few other difficult invertebrate species are regularly imported for reef tanks. These include the stony corals He-liofungia actiniformis and Goniopora spp. Neither seems to fare well for the majority of hobbyists, although there are some reports of successes.

One can argue that the requirements for all photosyn-thetic invertebrates, stony corals in particular, are exacting. But I am suggesting that certain species lie at the outer extreme of fastidiousness, even for the experienced aquarist, and are best avoided.

Category 9

The species is hardy in the aquarium and its care requirements are understood\ but problems resulting from methods of collecting and handling are frequent.

This final category is the most controversial, because the species included are among the best aquarium animals. After many years of working with imported marine fish and talking to hundreds of people who have tried, with varying degrees of success, to maintain marine aquariums, I have

Chapter Fourteen 301

Table 14-3

Marine Fish with a High Likelihood or Problems Resulting from Improper Collecting and Handling Techniques


Acanthurus nigricans A. leucosternon Paracanthurus hep at us


Balistoides conspicilhim


Coris aygula Choerodon fasciatus

Powder Brown Tang, Powder Blue Tang

, Hippo Tang

Clown Trigger fis h

Threespot Wrasse Harlequin Tuskfish

Novaculichthys taeniourus Dragon Wrasse


Centropyge bicolor C. bispinosus Pomacanthus imperator i^P navarchus P. xanthometapon

Pomacentridae npnon spp. Premnas biaculeatus

Thalassoma lunare

Moon Wrasse, Lunar Wrasse


Galloplesiops altivelis

Bicolor Angelfish Coral Beauty Angelfish Emperor Angelfish Majestic Angelfish Blueface Angelfish


Maroon Clownfish


*Wild-caught specimens only.

noted that an unreasonable number of people fail with some very popular species. It is my view that most of the time, these fish are subjected to stressful conditions during collection (often, perhaps, with cyanide) and subsequent holding and shipment. The list is presented as Table 14-3 (above). My advice to hobbyists concerning this group: only purchase these fish from a supplier whose reputation you know and trust completely. It is tempting to suggest that these species should be avoided altogether, in an effort to thwart the cyanide trade. This, however, would only penalize those competent collectors, wholesalers, and dealers who make the extra effort to bring high-quality specimens of these species to the American market.

A few comments are in order regarding these species:

Powder Blue Tangs, Regal Tangs, Emperor Angelfish, Harlequin Tuskfish, Coral Beauties, and Dragon Wrasses from localities other than the Philippines and Bali do very well and typically command a much higher price than their less-healthv counterparts. Wild clownfishes, except for the mated pairs often exported from Australia, arrive in very poor condition and are usually suffering from Brooklynella infestation (see Chapter Eleven). While these fishes can be treated and often recover, many do not. It seems wasteful, therefore, to continue to remove them from the ocean when captive-propagated specimens of all popular clownfish species are now widely available and inexpensive.

Although the Tables in this chapter will cause controversy, my motivation for assembling and including them is to spare at least one novice aquarist the consternation of watching a splendid, exotic animal slowly die despite 1 lis or her best, most conscientious efforts to keep it alive. No "hobby" should exact such a price.

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The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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