A Pint-Sized, Potentially Picky Lionfish: Dendrochirus biocellatus

Yearn to keep a lionfish but don’t think you have the tank space to accommodate one? You might want to think again! While having a small to medium-sized tank might preclude keeping some of the popular Pterois species, there are several lionfish species in the genus Dendrochirus that are small and retiring enough to be … [Read More]

A Hawkfish Even “Caribbean Chris” Could Love

Regular Saltwater Smarts visitors know that “Caribbean Chris” has an irrational (bordering on pathological) hatred of all marine life not connected in some way to the Caribbean Sea or tropical western Atlantic. By logical extension, most of the hawkfishes, being predominantly Indo-Pacific or Pacific species, are unwelcome in his aquarium. (He may even have a … [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]

The Horned Bannerfish: Little Color but Lots of Character

When choosing fish species for our marine aquariums, bright coloration is often a highly sought-after characteristic. But there’s also something to be said for species with more subdued coloration that just happen to have really interesting morphology. One such species that comes to mind is Heniochus varius, the horned bannerfish, aka the humphead or brown … [Read More]

Sweet Coral Hind! A Colorful, Aquarium-Sized Grouper

The name “grouper” conjures up images of underwater behemoths that no home aquarium can conceivably accommodate, such as the legendary goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara). Fortunately, marine aquarium hobbyists who have a yen for these hefty predators can find several attractive, aquarium-sized species in the genus Cephalopholis, including the justifiably popular miniata grouper (C. miniata), aka … [Read More]

The Flame Hawkfish: a Vision in Red

I’ve long been a fan of the hawkfishes, and many a specimen has graced my various tanks over the years—most often the readily available and affordable (for me) Falco’s hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco). But another hawk that I’ve always found particularly endearing is Neocirrhites armatus, the flame hawkfish. Hobbyists looking for an eye-catching splash of color … [Read More]

Go Ahead and Buy a (Captive-Bred) Banggai Cardinalfish!

Being fascinating to behold, very hardy and adaptable to aquarium fare, an exceptional choice for reef systems, suitable for modest-sized aquariums, and even easy to breed in captivity, the Banggai, or Kaudern’s, cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) is a lot like Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way. Physical traits P. kauderni is silver overall with tiny white … [Read More]

Orchid Dottyback: Hardy, Peaceful, and Just Right for Reef Tanks

Captive breeding of marine fishes has been a boon to our hobby in any number of ways, one of which is democratizing access to formerly really pricy species such as the orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani). While I wouldn’t characterize the current market price of this Red Sea species as “cheap,” it’s definitely in the realm … [Read More]

The Sturdy but Shy Marine Betta

With its dark-brown body covered with a myriad of tiny white to pale-blue dots, the marine betta, a.k.a comet (Calloplesiops altivelis) is truly a dazzling sight to behold. Start out with a healthy specimen, and you’ll find it’s also a fairly hardy and rugged species despite its somewhat delicate appearance and shy nature. But success … [Read More]

Dig Those Crazy Pajama Cardinalfish!

A hardy, peaceful, wildly patterned species, the pajama cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera) makes a great choice for novice and experienced marine aquarists alike. Owing to its very manageable adult size, it’s a great candidate for modest-sized systems, and like many of the cardinalfishes, it can be kept successfully in groups. Physical traits In common with its … [Read More]