Some hobbyists go for a fish- only aquarium, some
like a combined fish-
invertebrate aquarium, and although the basic choice of livestock is
same, and indeed most fish from marine outlets these days are suitable
for both, there are additional rules for a succesful combined
setup, in particular the very popular reef aquarium type.
This chapter is not a long list of species with individual
characteristics- such information is widely available. Just be aware
that some of this is plagiarised, so myths about one species tend to be
repeated in various books over time, adding to their strength.
Many species are widespread, but may have local variations in behaviour
and food preferences. They also haven't read the books.
For all setups
The usual reasons for going for a fish- only setup is that you can put
in any fish you like, so long as
i) inter- fish compatibility
Many fish, even those which shoal in the wild, may not tolerate others
of their own kind in a confined aquarium environment, especially if you
introduce a second specimen when the first has already
established itself. Fish that resemble each other may well not get on,
nor may those which share a food source.
In the initial readjustment of the pecking
order, a chased fish is a stressed fish and may develop signs of
disease the next day, or everything may have settled overnight. In the
wild any fish being attacked can always swim
off, in the aquarium it can get as far as the top back corner, if it is
still being attacked there, it can
only escape by jumping out or by your removing it in
time. Or it dies!
Generally introduce the fish to your tank in reverse order of
aggressivity. Particularly the advice to start
the tank with a couple of territorial damselfish is a problem.
ii) enough room for larger fish
If you really want to have large angelfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish,
surgeonfish or wrasse then look at the body shape and fins- a
streamlines acanthurus lineatus just needs to flap its pectoral fins
two or three times and is already at the opposite end of your 2 metre
tank. Do you want to have those fish which are only happy when
readjusting your decoration?
Food requirements and excrement quantities may mean you cannot maintain
the water quality many creatures, particularly sessile invertebrates,
need to thrive.
iii) capability to care for the individual fish
Acanthurus leucosternon, one of the most beautiful of fish, needs
absolutely stable water conditions, and tolerates other stress factors
badly. This is THE example of a fish which isn't excessively priced, is
readily available and if you don't know how to look after it will
certainly die within a short time and may get cryptocaryon infections
which the other fish then contract and you may lose your whole
stock. Many other tangs and surgeons are much easier to keep. Thes same
goes for many other groups of fish. A good dealer will advise you.
Some fish are food specialists (certain butterfly and angelfish)or need
to have food available all the time(certain Anthias) which may need to
be alive (sea horses). Some are going to grow too large too soon (hands
off shark eggs) or are too dangerous (stone fish).
For a combined or reef setup
Make sure the fish you purchase don't have your favourite invert as a
main constituent of their diet. Not all butterfly and angelfish will
eat your corals, not all triggerfish will decimate your shrimp
population. Damselfish will be happy with a small area and swim in, out
of and round the rocks and corals.
Carpet anemones will catch fish, reef lobsters will hide all day and
may catch sleeping fish at night, even if well fed. What does your
dealer have together in the show tank?