Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Saltwater Fish to Avoid
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Saltwater Fish to Avoid

for the week of 11/11/99

While great progress has been made in the survival of saltwater fish as a whole, there are still a number of fairly common species whose requirements are either not known or not readily provided. That such species are still commonly sold to beginners is one of our hobby's biggest embarassments. The fish listed below are not just "challenging" or "difficult;" they are all but impossible to keep in captivity at this time.

  • Ribbon Eels - Blue, Black or Yellow
  • Polyp-Eating Butterfly Fish - Baronness, Bennett's, Eight Banded, Melon, Meyer's, Ornate, Triangulum and others.
  • Sponge-Eating Angelfish - Rock Beauty, Regal
  • Parasite-Eating Cleaner Wrasses - all
  • Coral-Munching Parrotfish - all except Bicolor
  • Pinnatus or Red-Finned Batfish
  • Clown Sweetlips
  • Purple Tile Fish
  • Moorish Idols

There are occassional, rare reports of success with almost every one of these fishes, but much more often these fish are doomed to a short and unhappy life in an aquarium. In most cases, the natural diet of these species is unavailable, and they have no interest in or are not adequately nourished by substitute foods.

Whether or not these species should even be collected might be a subject for debate, since experimentation is the only course that might someday lead to an understanding of just what their requirements are. In fact, a number of other "impossible" fish such as seahorses and mandarin gobies are now being regularly maintained by dedicated aquarists willing to offer suitable conditions. However, far too often these species are sold to hobbyists unaware that experts have consistently failed to maintain them.


"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

Copyright © 1999 Aquatics Unlimited
All rights reserved.

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