10 Tips for Limiting Marine Livestock Losses

Distilled down to its essence, success in the marine aquarium hobby is about keeping fish and invertebrates alive and thriving. And while it may sometimes seem as though fate plays a major role in how animals fare under our care, several decades of aquarium-keeping experience (and more than a few missteps) have taught me that … [Read More]

Does a Naturalistic Environment Reduce Stress in Aquarium Fish?

For today’s post, I’d like to elicit your thoughts on an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed in my aquarium, specifically involving an aggravating repetitive behavior exhibited until fairly recently by my pair of blue-throat triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus). Allow me to set the stage: I introduced the blue-throats to my 125-gallon about a year and a half … [Read More]

Sea Apples: Hazardous Holothurians Best Left to Advanced Hobbyists

In several posts here at Saltwater Smarts, I’ve mentioned that certain marine organisms routinely offered in the aquarium trade should come with a warning label—especially for novice hobbyists. In these cases, I’m usually referring to animals that are really gorgeous or exotic-looking (hence hard to resist) but either difficult to keep alive or dangerous to … [Read More]

5 Maddening Things Marine Fish Do

I love marine fish. I really do. They’ve been part of my life for decades, and observing their beauty and behavior both in the wild and in aquaria seems to fulfill some primal need in me that’s, frankly, impossible to characterize. But then again, sometimes those scaly little creatures do things that absolutely drive me … [Read More]

How to Acclimate Marine Animals in 8 Easy Steps—Plus 5 Cases When You Can’t

In his book The Salt Smart Guide to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Diseases of Marine Fish, Jay Hemdal provides a surprisingly simple method for acclimating marine animals—just one of many useful tips readers will discover in this authoritative tome. Here, excerpted from the book (Chapter 1: Selecting Healthy Specimens), is Jay’s straightforward, step-by-step acclimation technique, … [Read More]

4 Acclimation Stage Issues for Marine Aquarium Fish

When we consider the term “acclimation” as it relates to marine aquarium fish, we usually think of the relatively brief period during which—with the hobbyist’s help—they gradually adjust to the temperature, pH, and other water parameters in a new system. But in actuality, it takes several days to weeks after introduction for a fish to … [Read More]

Ribbon Eels: Elegantly Exotic but Usually Best Left on the Reef

Why are the most attractive and interesting-looking marine fish always the most difficult to keep alive in aquariums? Okay, maybe this isn’t actually such a truism. After all, there are lots of gorgeous-yet-easy-to-keep fish in the aquarium trade. It just seems like it’s true when you consider the relative difficulty of keeping certain particularly beguiling … [Read More]

Yellow Boxfish: Endearing but Perhaps Best Avoided

For hobbyists inclined to purchase livestock on impulse, a yellow boxfish (Ostracion cubicus) paddling about in a dealer’s tank can prove almost irresistible. Typically sold as juveniles at just a few inches in length, these boxfish are as cute as can be, and their interesting shape and garish coloration really make them stand out among … [Read More]

5 Techniques for Catching Fish in a Marine Aquarium

At one point or another, every marine aquarium hobbyist is faced with the necessity of capturing and removing a fish from a fully operational system—perhaps because the specimen is bullying tankmates, the victim of another specimen’s bullying, sick or injured, etc. Whatever the reason, the prospect of catching a fish that has “home field advantage” … [Read More]