Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Selecting the Saltwater Fish
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Selecting the Saltwater Fish

for the week of 3/4/99

Saltwater fish have a reputation as being high-risk which is unfortunately too well deserved. Even though progress has been made in recent years, too many fish and invertebrates are damaged in collection, shipping or handling. In addition, some species that are too often offered for sale have survival requirements that the home aquarist cannot meet.

Avoid new fish. Too many saltwater fish are still damaged in capture, handling and shipping. Others survive the initial trauma but become infected with diseases that the dealer may be better prepared to handle. The wise aquarist picks fish that have been at the dealers for two weeks or longer.

Inspect closely. Watch the specimen in question for a few minutes, looking for signs of damage or infection. Is it swimming, breathing and behaving "normally"?

Watch it eat. Make sure it is alert and eats food that you are prepared to provide. Avoid coral-feeding butterflies, sponge-eating Rock Beauties, and nothing-eating sweetlips and ribbon eels.

Look it up. Check a few reference books for opinions on requirements, compatibility and overall hardiness as an aquarium specimen. Timid, slow-feeding species belong with others of similar temperament; likewise aggressive chow-hounds deserve one another. If the "experts" have little success with a given species, don't expert to do a lot better.

Be prepared to treat common diseases. I am constantly amazed by people that plop down $20, $50 or $100 on a fish, but are completely clueless as to how to treat a common case of "ich." Learn the symptoms and treatments of at least "ich" and "velvet."

Think Tank-Raised. Tank-Raised fish are much hardier and more adaptable than wild-caught and are highly recommended.

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

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