Indigo Hamlet: A Comely Sea Bass Suited to Modest-Sized Systems

The family Serranidae, the sea basses (not to be confused with a certain film character portrayed by Cam Neely), is a diverse assemblage of fishes ranging in size from tank-busting “bruisers” to diminutive species that are well suited to life in home aquaria. Included among the aquarium-friendly types are the so-called hamlets of the genus … [Read More]

The Petite but Somewhat Pugnacious Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish

Having very recently departed the state of Ohio and resettled his family down in the Florida Keys, Caribbean Chris has had to part with his beloved, long-established Caribbean-biotope tank. He’s also had to come to terms with the reality that the specimens he bequeathed to me are now gracelessly intermingled with my Indo-Pacific species. So, … [Read More]

Rock Beauty Angelfish: a Finicky Feeder Best Left in the Sea

On one of my earliest dives down in the Florida Keys back in the 1990s, a gorgeous yellow and black angelfish caught my attention as I drifted over a section of reef. In my mind’s eye, I envision the angel hovering boldly above a large barrel sponge, but I can’t be sure whether that’s actually … [Read More]

The Harlequin Bass: An Exceptionally Hardy, Beginner-Friendly Marine Fish

Prized for its striking patterning, modest adult size, exceptional hardiness, and overall adaptability, the harlequin bass (Serranus tigrinus), denizen of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean, makes an excellent choice for the novice marine aquarist and experienced hobbyist alike. (In fact, just try to stop Caribbean Chris from keeping one!) Physical traits This fascinating dwarf … [Read More]

Blackcap Basslet: A Comely Deepwater Cousin to the Royal Gramma

Most marine aquarium hobbyists are well acquainted with the royal gramma (Gramma loreto), a worthy tank inhabitant by virtually any measure. But G. loreto isn’t the only member of the Gramma genus that is well worth its salt. Another is the blackcap basslet (Gramma melacara), a denizen of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea … [Read More]

The Candy Basslet: A Sweet Deepwater Denizen on Many a Hobbyist’s Wish List

Ask any group of marine fishkeepers to name their most sought-after species—the fishes they’d really love to own if money and availability were no object—and most of them will likely place the candy basslet (Liopropoma carmabi) somewhere close to the top of that list. Ah, but despite its stunning good looks and very manageable size, … [Read More]

What Constitutes a Marine Biotope Aquarium?

For today’s post, I’d like to take a slightly different tack than usual. By presenting my meandering thought process on the concept of marine biotope aquariums, I’m hoping to elicit some input from you, my fellow salties, on precisely how to define this term—or if we can even agree on a definition at all. The … [Read More]

Chalk Bass: A Caribbean Jewel Custom Made for Marine Aquariums

Anyone who has visited Saltwater Smarts on a regular basis knows that Chris has a bizarre fixation on Caribbean species. No livestock—fish or invertebrate—originating outside the Caribbean/tropical Western Atlantic is allowed in his tank. If he could, he’d probably go so far as to encase his entire fish room in a plastic bubble and pump … [Read More]

Lionfish Invasion: An Update on Successes

I still remember the first time I encountered an invasive lionfish. It was in the late spring of 2010 during a scuba dive on the North Wall of Grand Cayman. For those unfamiliar, the North Wall is where the coral reefs surrounding the island, at 50 to 70 ft. in depth, abruptly drop off to … [Read More]

The Sally Lightfoot Crab: A Real Character of a Crustacean

Sharing the surname of a famous Canadian folk singer, of whom I’ve been an ardent fan for many, many years (once again confirming that my profound nerdiness knows no bounds), the Sally Lightfoot crab, a.k.a. the nimble spray crab, of the Tropical West Atlantic, Caribbean, and Indo-Pacific, is a common offering at local fish stores … [Read More]