The Pacific Sailfin Tang: A Hardy, Bold Species Demanding Spacious Accommodations

The Pacific sailfin tang (Zebrasoma velifer), not to be confused with its Red Sea namesake (Zebrasoma desjardinii), is a fish with many attributes that make it desirable to marine aquarium hobbyists—it’s attractive, hardy, bold, easy to feed, etc. But don’t be deceived by that cute little specimen on display at your LFS. Z. velifer also … [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 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 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]

Panther Grouper: The Tankbuster “Poster Fish”

Every time I need to make a point about marine fish that are sold as small, cute juveniles but grow into real behemoths, the panther grouper (Cromileptes altivelis according to Fishbase/Chromileptes altivelis according to ITIS) is one of several species that come to mind immediately. But despite its indisputable tankbusting tendencies, C. altivelis is very … [Read More]

Anemone Lookalike: The Long-Tentacled Plate Coral

Easily mistaken for an anemone at first glance, Heliofungia actiniformis is a large-polyp stony (LPS) coral that can be an excellent option for reefkeepers with modest-sized systems. Even relative newcomers to the reefkeeping hobby can succeed with this species, provided they make the effort to satisfy its few special care requirements. Physical traits Commonly known … [Read More]

Ecsenius bicolor: a Beginner-Friendly Blenny with Real Character

Included in the Indo-Pacific genus Ecsenius are several interesting, beginner-friendly, generally aquarium-worthy blennies, among them the popular bicolor blenny (E. bicolor). This species’ modest size and bottom-dwelling habit also make it a great choice for smaller aquarium systems. Physical traits Though by no means brightly colored, E. bicolor is attractive nonetheless. Actually, there are several … [Read More]

Don’t Get Burned by Flame Scallops!

Mention beautiful bivalves for the marine aquarium, and the various tridacnid clams (the so-called giant clams) will probably come to mind. Likely, the flame scallops of the genus Ctenoides will too. However, while the tridacnids have a fairly decent survival record in captivity if given proper care and a suitable environment, the flame scallops usually … [Read More]

Chaetodon kleinii: An Excellent Beginner’s Butterflyfish

The word “beginner” and “butterflyfish” aren’t often paired together, as so many of the butterflyfishes seem to present some manner of husbandry challenge, often related to diet. Still, certain butterflies have a well-deserved reputation for hardiness and general ease of care. Among them is Chaetodon kleinii, commonly called Klein’s butterflyfish but also known by a … [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]