5 Reasons to Understock Your Marine Aquarium

Over the many years I’ve kept marine aquariums, guests in my home have more than occasionally noted the relatively low number of specimens, particularly fish, in my tanks. You could say it’s been a hallmark of my fishkeeping career to understock my aquariums, sometimes to the point that they look rather sparse. But there’s a … [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]

Bodianus pulchellus: A Hardy Hogfish for the Spacious Marine Tank

Among the Bodianus spp. wrasses, commonly known as the hogfishes, are several species that, while hardy and beautiful, simply get too large for most home aquariums. But also among this group can be found a few choice species that remain small enough to be kept in manageably sized systems. Of these smaller hogs, one of … [Read More]

X. auromarginatus: A Well-Mannered, Reef-Friendly Triggerfish

As I alluded in an earlier post about the Niger triggerfish (Odonus niger), triggers in general aren’t usually among the first species that come to mind when one is seeking an aquarium specimen with a peaceful disposition. Certainly as far as reef-friendliness is concerned, most of us would probably put triggers as a group somewhere … [Read More]

The Psychedelic Sixline Wrasse

Whenever I’m asked to recommend a hardier, similarly sized, and equally attractive alternative to the green mandarinfish, the first species that usually pops into my mind is the sixline wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia). If you can acquire a healthy specimen, you’ll find this stunning—but somewhat feisty and mischievous—species virtually bulletproof and well worth the usually modest … [Read More]

You Can Succeed with the Copperband Butterflyfish

Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) are among my favorite fish and have almost always been a staple in my tank since the saltwater hobby started in the 70s. It’s not just the beauty of the distinct black-bordered yellow stripes on a silver body, but the unusual shape of this species that appeals to me. The snout, … [Read More]

Purple Firefish: A Shy Beauty for the Small, Peaceful Aquarium

Marine aquarists looking for a gorgeous, interesting, nano-friendly fish might entertain the idea of keeping the purple firefish (a.k.a. the purple dartfish, elegant firefish/dartfish, and decorated firefish/dartfish, among various other common names). Given appropriate tankmates and care, this graceful, hardy, relatively undemanding denizen of the Indian and western Pacific oceans can prove to be a … [Read More]

A. nigropunctatus: The Pet-Like Dogface Puffer

Hobbyists with sizeable tanks who are looking for a truly pet-like fish won’t be disappointed in the aptly named dogface puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus). Looking rather like a pudgy beagle with fins instead of paws, A. nigropunctatus is loaded with piscine personality—though I wouldn’t recommend trying to scratch its chin or rub its belly. Physical appearance … [Read More]

Keeping the Aptly Named Coral Beauty Angelfish

If you have a real yen for marine angelfishes but lack the tank space to accommodate one of the large iconic species, such as the queen angel (Holacanthus ciliaris) or French angel (Pomacanthus paru), you’ll be pleased to know that some really beautiful angelfishes actually come in fairly small packages. Of course, I’m referring to … [Read More]

Chrysiptera parasema: a Gem of a Damsel

Ask the average marine aquarium hobbyist to identify the most aggressive coral-reef fishes, and the damselfishes of the family Pomacentridae are likely to be placed somewhere very close to the top of the list. For many damsel species, the reputation for belligerence is well deserved. However, there are some noteworthy exceptions — damsels that are … [Read More]