Oriental Sweetlips: So Pretty but Seldom Suitable for Marine Systems

I recently wrote a post about the options available to hobbyists who have unwittingly purchased a tankbuster fish. The subject of today’s post—the oriental sweetlips (Plectorhinchus vittatus)—could very well serve as the “poster fish” for that situation if it weren’t for its dismal survival record in captivity. This Indo-Pacific species is one of several fishes … [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]

Seeing Red: The Colorful, Cantankerous Maroon Clownfish

Many of the clownfishes have a well-deserved reputation for feistiness. But there’s one clown that makes all the others seem like milquetoasts by comparison—the maroon clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) from the Indo-West Pacific. Though it’s among the hardier and more strikingly colored clownfish species, P. biaculeatus definitely takes aggression to new heights, making tankmate compatibility the … [Read More]

X. auromarginatus: A Well-Mannered, Reef-Friendly Triggerfish

As I alluded in an earlier post about the Niger triggerfish (Odonus niger), triggers in general aren’t usually among the first species that come to mind when one is seeking an aquarium specimen with a peaceful disposition. Certainly as far as reef-friendliness is concerned, most of us would probably put triggers as a group somewhere … [Read More]

The Psychedelic Sixline Wrasse

Whenever I’m asked to recommend a hardier, similarly sized, and equally attractive alternative to the green mandarinfish, the first species that usually pops into my mind is the sixline wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia). If you can acquire a healthy specimen, you’ll find this stunning—but somewhat feisty and mischievous—species virtually bulletproof and well worth the usually modest … [Read More]

Why You Should Never, Ever Release Marine Aquarium Livestock into the Wild

In a perfect world, every fish, invertebrate, or alga introduced to a marine aquarium would be allowed to live out its entire lifespan there. But as we all know, there are many contingencies that can make it necessary for hobbyists to part with livestock—serious compatibility issues arising, an animal purchased on impulse growing too large … [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]

Yellowheaded Sleeper Goby: A Fascinating but Challenging Sand-Sifter

Though not the most chromatically gifted species, the yellowheaded sleeper goby (Valenciennea strigata), is interesting to observe and can serve a utilitarian purpose in marine aquaria—regularly overturning and oxygenating the top layer of the substrate with its sand-sifting feeding behavior. However, for reasons I’ll soon elaborate upon, this same behavior can make V. strigata somewhat … [Read More]

Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish: One of the Best Aquarium Butterflies

The butterflyfishes tend to be a touchy lot when it comes to aquarium keeping. Many have highly specialized diets that are difficult—if not impossible—to satisfy in aquariums. Several are obligate corallivores, which means they eat nothing but coral polyps, making them very poor aquarium candidates indeed. Others may be less-finicky feeders but are still hit-or-miss … [Read More]