Halichoeres chrysus: A Hardy Little “Banana with Fins” That’s Just Right for Beginners

Known by a variety of common names—banana wrasse, canary wrasse, golden wrasse, yellow coris, et al—Halichoeres chrysus is hardy, readily available, reasonably affordable, well suited to modest-sized systems, and among the better choices for beginners. Of course, owing to all these positive attributes, this wrasse is justifiably popular among many seasoned salties, as well. Physical … [Read More]

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]

The Yasha Shrimp Goby: A Hardy, Peaceful, Somewhat Rare Nano Reef Candidate

Certain marine fish pack a lot of visual and behavioral interest into a very small package. Such is the case with the yasha shrimp goby (Stonogobiops yasha), also sold under the common names whiteray shrimp goby, orange-striped shrimp goby, clown shrimp goby, and others. This little goby, hailing from the western Pacific, is strikingly colored … [Read More]

The Iconic Raccoon Butterflyfish

Some of the marine fish we like to keep are surprisingly recognizable to both hobbyists and non-hobbyists alike—probably because they’re frequently depicted in photographs and artwork. Among these iconic fishes is the raccoon butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) of the Indo-Pacific and southeast Atlantic, a very hardy species that’s better than your average butterfly in terms of … [Read More]

The Hardy, Colorful, Nano-Friendly Yellow Watchman Goby

Marine aquarium hobbyists who maintain nano tanks, whether by choice or necessity, often find it challenging to acquire fish that are well suited to their diminutive systems. But in the yellow watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus), they can get all the attributes they seek—small mature size, attractive coloration, hardiness, and interesting behavior—in a single package. While … [Read More]

Pocillopora Corals: Hardy, Adaptable Reef Architects

You may not be aware, but Pocillopora, despite being among the less popular stony corals in the reef aquarium hobby, are second only to Acropora in reef-building productivity in the wild. Their skeletons make up a huge portion of the reef’s structure in the ocean. Pocillopora are also among the most adaptable SPS corals in … [Read More]

The Pyramid Butterflyfish: A Hardy, Reef-Safe Chaetodontid

While many of the butterflyfishes are challenging—if not outright impossible—to maintain in captivity for one reason or another, there are various species that go against the grain and make excellent or reasonably solid aquarium candidates. Among the “reasonably solid” species is the pyramid butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis)—a generally hardy, adaptable, not-too-difficult-to-feed, and beautiful chaetodontid from the … [Read More]

5 Traits of a “Beginner” Marine Fish

What exactly does it mean when we say that a marine fish is “good for beginners”? After all, it’s not like certain fish species come with training wheels or have a set of care instructions tattooed on their dorsal fins (though I may just have to patent that idea). So what sets a “beginner fish” … [Read More]

Sarcophyton Leather Corals: Attractive, Toxic, and Tough as Nails

When it comes to hardiness, ease of care, and general adaptability, few corals can compare to those of the genus Sarcophyton—the so-called toadstool, or mushroom, leather corals. Despite their lack of chromatic brilliance, they’re also pretty neat looking to boot. Physical traits As their common name implies, Sarcophyton spp. are typically mushroom- or toadstool-shaped—a solitary … [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]