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]

Marine Fish Issues: When It’s Best to Leave Well Enough Alone

In most cases, issues affecting marine fish—diseases, behavioral issues, compatibility concerns, etc.—should be addressed and rectified as quickly as possible, lest small problems transform into much bigger ones. But there are some circumstances in which the best course of action is to take no action at all—or at least take a wait-and-see approach. Here are … [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]

When Should Squabbling Marine Fish Be Separated?

I recently introduced a Kole tang to my tank, and it keeps getting in fights with the resident yellow tang. So far, neither one has been seriously hurt, but I’m worried about where this is heading. Do I need to separate these two, or will they eventually chill out and coexist peacefully?” Over the years, … [Read More]

Tomato Clownfish: A Stunning Beginner Fish Ripe for the Picking

Lately it seems many of the species profiles I’ve written have been on fish that either grow too large for the average home aquarium or are otherwise poor choices for aquarium keeping for one reason or another. By now, some of you salties out there might be wondering, “Does this guy ever write about species … [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]

3 Misconceptions About Small Marine Fish

As human beings, it’s in our nature to assign certain traits to small animals—cute, dependent, harmless, defenseless, etc. Perhaps we think this way because when it comes to animals, people included, smallness is usually correlated with infancy. However, if applied to marine fish, this type of anthropomorphic thinking can lead to some rather significant compatibility … [Read More]

Why Territoriality is a Major Issue in Marine Tanks

One of the more challenging aspects of marine fishkeeping, particularly for those interested in creating a mixed community of interesting fishes, is choosing different species that will coexist peacefully in captivity. This might seem easy enough given the fact that, in the wild, so many different species can often be found sharing the same patch … [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]