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]

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]

Ecsenius bicolor: a Beginner-Friendly Blenny with Real Character

Included in the Indo-Pacific genus Ecsenius are several interesting, beginner-friendly, generally aquarium-worthy blennies, among them the popular bicolor blenny (E. bicolor). This species’ modest size and bottom-dwelling habit also make it a great choice for smaller aquarium systems. Physical traits Though by no means brightly colored, E. bicolor is attractive nonetheless. Actually, there are several … [Read More]

The Saddled Toby: Puffer Personality in a Small Package

Sometimes good things come in small packages. Such is the case with Canthigaster valentini, better known as the saddled toby, black-saddled toby, or Valentin’s toby (you may also see “sharpnose puffer” substituted for “toby” in various sources). Reaching only about 4 inches in total length and usually adapting well to aquarium conditions, this species can … [Read More]

Stenopus hispidus: A Look at a Popular Boxer Shrimp

Among the various ornamental crustaceans available in the marine aquarium trade, one of the most popular and easiest to obtain is Stenopus hispidus, the banded coral shrimp, also known by the common names coral banded shrimp, banded boxer shrimp, barber pole shrimp, and others. This shrimp’s widespread availability and usually very affordable price tag can … [Read More]