Freckled Hawkfish: A Hardy, Hefty Option for the Rough-and-Tumble Tank

When it comes to keeping hawkfishes in aquaria, one of the more common admonitions is to avoid housing these predators with fish or crustaceans small enough to swallow. For most of the hawkfish species that grace our tanks, which generally have a maximum size somewhere between 3 and 5 inches, only very small tankmates are … [Read More]

Salty Q&A: Harlequin Tuskfish Ate My Cleaner Shrimp!

Question Two weeks ago, I added a harlequin tuskfish to my 90-gallon reef tank with the understanding that it’s a peaceful fish. Then this morning, the stupid thing ate my skunk cleaner shrimp right in front of me! Was I misinformed about this fish’s temperament? Eating tankmates whole seems like pretty aggressive behavior to me. … [Read More]

The Two-Stripe Damsel: Hardiness and Hostility in Equal Measure

Among the pomacentrids (damsels and clownfishes) are many species that rank exceptionally high when it comes to hardiness in aquaria (thus their once common use as tank cyclers) but also tend to mature into little hellions that can turn a peaceful community tank into an underwater war zone. The genus Dascyllus contains more than its … [Read More]

The Royal Dottyback: Pretty but Potentially a Royal Pain

Often described as a purple fish that looks like it’s been dipped in yellow paint (or is it a yellow fish that’s been dipped in purple paint?), the royal, or bicolor, dottyback (Pictichromis paccagnellae) is a visually stunning marine species with the added benefits of being very hardy, easy to feed, and suitable for relatively … [Read More]

Why We Favor Fishless Cycling with Cured Live Rock

In years past, the most common method for establishing biofiltration in marine aquariums was to introduce some hardy, rugged fish to the system as an ammonia source and wait for the cycle to get established before adding more livestock. The usual go-to fishes for this purpose were damsels. While this cycling method does work, here … [Read More]

The Sohal Tang: A Big, Belligerent Beauty

The sohal tang (Acanthurus sohal) is one of many fish species available in the marine aquarium trade that should come with a warning label. It’s a gorgeous fish and generally very hardy, which is a plus, but anyone contemplating purchasing A. sohal should also be aware of its eventual size and often hyper-aggressive disposition. Physical … [Read More]

Humbug Damsel: Prepping for the Hunt

There’s a reason I chose to spotlight Dascyllus aruanus, the humbug or three-striped damselfish, in this profile. “Caribbean” Chris and I will soon be matching wits with four representatives of this species that have laid claim to a large marine aquarium situated in one of our local coffee shops. Steve, the shop’s owner, is at … [Read More]

Seeing Red: The Colorful, Cantankerous Maroon Clownfish

Many of the clownfishes have a well-deserved reputation for feistiness. But there’s one clown that makes all the others seem like milquetoasts by comparison—the maroon clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) from the Indo-West Pacific. Though it’s among the hardier and more strikingly colored clownfish species, P. biaculeatus definitely takes aggression to new heights, making tankmate compatibility the … [Read More]