If you are a beginner, may I encourage you to please read this carefully, hopefully it will save you considerable heartache and frustration as you venture into this beautiful hobby.
Trust me, one of the primary ways to pick good fish is knowing which fish NOT to pick. This list includes fish/invert species NOT for the beginner; in many cases not for any average home aquarium, due to various demands which must be met in order to keep them healthy and happy. If you have had success with one, by all means share your knowledge here with others, but understand; the purpose is not to limit your choices as a marine aquarist, only rather to expand your success, and to observe good stewardship of the natural reefs by leaving some animals where they belong. By learning which species to avoid, hobbyists will reduce demand for them and also reduce the chances of outright bans on all wild imported species. This is by no means a complete list, surely I have forgotten something here; I will edit/update this from time to time so feel free to add your comments with full details (specifics on food, filtration, tank size etc.) of your success so others will benefit. That said, here goes...
Marine Species NOT for the Beginner:
1. Sharks and Rays (Nurse, Leopard, Hornshark, Dogfish, Bluespot Ray, etc.)
Most of these juveniles soon prove to be mega-polluting beasts that easily overwhelm all but the largest of home systems sporting heavy skimmers and high turnover rates. Possible exceptions: Family Hemiscyllidae; the Bamboo/Epaulettes, but even then requiring massive systems (hundreds of gallons) and heavy filtration/organic export for long term success. Coldwater species like the Port Jackson can be even more problematic if housed in tropical systems without chillers. Stingrays like Taeniura lymna can be extremely difficult to keep for any length of time; even a large species tank with sugar fine substrate will not ensure their survival. Note to those considering any of these fishes; there is nothing cute or "cool" about stressing a living thing into early death. Sadly, anyone in the retail side has been asked many times, "can I keep a nurse shark in a 55 gallon aquarium?"... to which I always reply; restricting a shark in a tiny glass box is quite different from successfully maintaining it in a suitable environment.
2. Large Moray Eels (Gymnothorax spp.)
Often sold by the LFS as adorable juveniles, some species easily attain 6 feet or more and most are expert fish killers, sporting flexible jaws capable of swallowing fish far larger than the width of their heads. You have been warned; if hungry, even the popular snowflake at 18 inches can gulp a good sized fish in three blinks of your eye. There are several very good exceptions (i.e. Gymnomuranea zebra) which are more peaceful and remain small, but identifying the various "Misc. Green, Brown Atlantic Eels" staring at you from the bottom row in the LFS is your responsibility; KNOW what you are buying/creating demand for; if in doubt read. If still in doubt, don't. Morays grow quickly my friend, and the fish you purchased at 10 inches will eventually double/triple it's size, taxing your system far more than you think.
3. Ribbon Eels (Blue Ribbon, Black Ribbon, Rhinomuraena quaesita)
Truly gorgeous, always available and... don't buy one. With a 95 plus percent mortality rate you will support demand for many thousands which are stripped from the sea only to die in a matter of weeks. The one exception to this would be the White Ribbon Eel (Pseudechidna brummeri) also called the Ghost Eel, which in my experience has proven itself to be a hardy species when given proper care.
4. Small Groups of Aggressive Damsels
Surprised? Although often used for cycling/toxin testing, an identical group of these toughies usually ends up being the first headache for the beginner; one will dominate the others to the point of death or stress related disease/pathogen infestation, which leads to medications, which leads to... you get the idea. Want a damsel? Get one (1). If you can avoid the aggression issues (especially inter-species aggression) and keep an eye out for bullies, single specimens like Chrysiptera cyanea can make excellent beginner fish. Although they get little respect in the hobby, the lowly Damsels offer hardiness beyond compare and come in a variety of electric colors few other species can match.
Although a few are considered hardy, beginners will do best to leave all of these in the LFS. They are all highly susceptible to Cryptocaryon, Amyloodinium, etc. Many species may nibble/eat prepared foods but thrive only on coral/inverts. Be advised; getting a difficult species to "pick at" or "accept" live brine shrimp is not the same as having it eat the variety of quality foods it will need to thrive in your system. I do not consider brine shrimp as a quality food in any form, but many beginners are suckered into purchasing difficult species at the retail level because they saw them nibble at live brine.
6. Cleaner Wrasses (Labroides spp.)
Removing them from Hawaiian waters is illegal since 1996 for good reason; most survive only a few weeks in captivity. Why do they continue to be sold? Because aquarists continue to purchase them. I have known some who have had these adapt and thrive, but thousands have died for every one that survived. Symbiotic friends of the reefs, Cleaner Wrasses provide a specialized purpose in a limited service area; I have personally watched mantas, sharks and others literally line up/circle the wagons and wait for the service this little fish provides, and they return to the same spot year after year. Please don't spoil the fun. Beginner or veteran, you can help reduce demand for these fish by leaving them in your retailer's tank... and don't be afraid to tell them why you made this decision.
7. Other Wrasses
Leopard Wrasse (Macropharyngodon meleagris), Red Tail Wrasse (A. chrysocephalus) Yellow Tail Wrasse (A. meleagrides)
Although often available and tempting targets for beginners, most of the members of these groups (Macropharyngodon spp., Anampses spp.) will fair poorly in the average non-reef marine system.
Coris Wrasse (juveniles), Red Coris (Coris gaimard), Formosa Wrasse (Coris frerei), Twin Spot or Clown Coris (Coris aygula)
These gorgeous juveniles continue to be a staple in the trade, but poor shipping combined with their high metabolism and delicate nature usually make for an early death in the care of most beginners. Be advised; some members of the Coris family will reach 30-60 cm as they change colors and grow into invert-chomping adults. Although the juveniles I have listed above can be extremely delicate, other types of carefully selected wrasses will prove much more hardy and bring you far more joy; do your homework/research before purchasing these. Remember, all sand wrasses require suitable substrates to bury themselves at night or during stress periods; grain size and type is important.
8. Parrotfishes (Family Scaridae)
Fantastic colors, dismal survival record; see those specialized teeth? I was looking at an online retailer recently who is still offering Parrotfish to aquarists. Under the photo the text explains, "they cannot be confined inside an aquarium for long in good condition." Right below that is the BUY button. Does anyone else have a problem with this? The most commonly offered species (Cetoscarus bicolor) will reach 75 cm in the wild, but suffer an early death in your aquarium. Caveat emptor. Scarids are best left on the coral reefs they love to chomp.
9. Mandarin Dragonets (Synchiropus picturatus, S. splendidus)
Sometimes called Psychedelics, gobies, scooters etc., they are not gobies, but in fact a beautiful and fascinating species that most often starve to death due to slow behavior and demand for continuous live foods. This is not an impossible species, (some have good success, even spawnings when providing the right care) but they are certainly specialized beyond the realm of most beginners with 30 gallon systems. Some will boast of keeping them healthy for a few months, but there are published reports of this fish living 10-15 years in the wild. Established pod colony or not, you would likely never purchase another one if you could see the millions which have died prematurely while in better care than you can provide. I have seen these wild in the lagoons of Micronesia; they are stunning in nature and deserve better than to slowly starve in our glass box... not for beginners or most aquarists for that matter.
10. Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus)
Maybe the biologist who named Diacanthus was trying to tell us something (Diacanthus will DIE). Certainly not impossible to keep in a well-balanced reef system, but not for beginners... Fenner writes; "one of the worst survival records of all marine angels." During my dives in the pacific, these were the most plentiful of all angels seen; perhaps this explains why they are still collected/imported. Beauty beyond compare, but not for your tank.
11. Rock Beauty Angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor)
Sadly, over 50 percent die within the first 30 days. Like diacanthus above, even apparent robust specimens which readily feed on prepared foods often suddenly die. Not impossible to keep, but not for beginners... as a diver and lover of Florida fauna, I implore you; leave them on the reef. There are others in the Holocanthus group which will bring you far more joy.
12. Other Angelfish and Tangs
Although some species are very hardy and adapt well under good care, in my opinion this group as a whole should be reserved for established tanks with at least 6-12 months growth of green micro algae, or even better some live rock and the experience to go with it. As a general rule, these groups are less tolerant of the "unlearned" conditions often found in beginners tanks, including poor water quality, traces of ammonia or nitrites, overcrowded (small) spaces, high nitrates and dissolved organics, low quality diet or unvaried foods, lack of greens, etc. Thus, they will often "reflect" these stressful conditions long before other fish are impacted (canary in the coal mine). Some species are highly susceptible to head and lateral line erosion (HLLE) without proper diet and proper organic export equipment/protocol. Large Pomocanthid Angels like P. Imperator will reach 15 inches in the wild, and must be given plenty of room to avoid confinement stress issues---think hundreds of gallons. If you cannot provide these magnificent and relatively rare fish with anything less than proper space, perfect water conditions and the highest quality diet, please wait until you are better prepared.
13. Anthias, a.k.a. Fancy Sea Basses
As a group, these are a sad "visual target" for beginners... often sporting brilliant orange/purple/pink coloration, yet demanding far better conditions than the average beginner can provide. Usually encountered as a highly visible, schooling fish in nature, but unless you have a tank of several hundred gallons or more, things can be different in captivity. Group stocking strategies/research must be employed; in smaller systems only one specimen can be the best solution. New arrivals often hide for days/weeks, perhaps best described as a delicate/unsuitable group in general... buyer beware, it's your money.
14. Longnose Filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris)
Often called Orange Spot Filefish, obligate coral polyp feeder. Sadly, still frequently offered in LFS, should not be purchased or sold; most aquarists do not offer live coral buffets.
15. Seahorses and Pipefishes
Like the poor Dragonets, these are not impossible only greatly misunderstood/inappropriately sold to unwary beginners, who sadly drop them in a community tank with fast-moving damsels and tangs and offer them flake food. Special animals often require special care and suitable environments; please research your charges. Some 25 million wild Seahorses are removed from the sea each year; the vast majority of those are dried and ground into powder, then promoted as an Asian "cure-all," which is sold for everything from impotence to heart disease. The trade is quite lucrative, and most biologists agree that if this pace of over-harvesting continues, there will be no wild Seahorses left, for either medicinal or aquarium use. The good news? Fortunately, you can now seek out and purchase captive bred Seahorses, and the protection of wild stocks is starting to become a serious international concern (CITES).
16. Boxfish, Cowfish, Long Horns (Ostraciidae, Lactoria)
Fascinating and beautiful yet deadly; cute little Cowfish like Lactoria cornuta can easily wipe out your entire fish population when they suddenly release killer toxins into the water column. Any type of stress can trigger this "ostracitoxin slime bomb," including being transferred in a bag to your tank or simply being harassed by another fish. You have been warned; although highly prized for their coloration, Boxfish species like Ostracion meleagris have earned the nickname "nuke fish" for good reason--please don't gamble with your other livestock.
17. Large Puffers, Burrfish, Porcupines (A. meleagris, A. stellatus, A. hispidus, D. holacanthus, D. hystrix, etc.)
Usually hardy at the outset, but problematic long term for the unprepared, due to diet, overgrown teeth, internal parasites and let's not forget... size. I have seen some of these species at sizes up to 30 inches in the wild, and some (A. stellatus) are said to attain 48 inches. These fish can/will outgrow small tanks. Some puffers seem to have a big problem with diet in marine systems, it's always the same thing; they stop feeding, which makes me think they are very misunderstood in the hobby and perhaps most aquarists should not even attempt to keep them long term. Overgrown teeth can actually prevent Puffers from feeding, and in severe cases the use of anesthesia and a rotary grinding tool to reduce the teeth may be required. A varied diet including crunchables is essential; snails, crabs, fresh clams or mussels in the shell, etc., these foods will help keep the teeth from growing too fast, but it all adds up to messy feedings demanding the most efficient skimmer and a strict schedule of water changes. Many aquarists find that a few months of this cute species creates soaring nitrate/DOC issues. There are also reports of a "lock jaw" condition due to possible thyroid problems. Think before you purchase.
18. Lionfish, Frogfishes, Groupers, Snappers and other Predators
Usually hardy but, surprise!--your clownfish just disappeared. Plan accordingly, the fish in this category need more than flake food--they can/will predate their smaller tankmates faster than you can see it happen. The Frogfishes/Anglers in particular can take a surprisingly large fish down in a blur of speed, including specimens of equal length and beyond (not a misprint, believe it). Lionfish are offered in several varieties, and many of these die prematurely from improper diets including feeder goldfish which should never be used (please research correct Lionfish diets!). The beautiful Lionfish and other scorpions sport venomous dorsal spines that can inflict a lot of pain on the unwary aquarist, and even more serious problems if there is an alergic reaction. To the dismay of NOAA scientists, there is now an established breeding population of Pterois volitans along the Atlantic Gulf Stream, from Florida to New York. Be advised, most of the large predators in this category will outgrow a small tank quickly, demanding heavy protein feedings and easily pushing your filtration system beyond its limits as they do. Two species in particular; 1. The Emperor Snapper (Lutjanus sebae), and 2. Panther Grouper (C. altivelis) are commonly sold to beginners who have no clue how quickly these fishes will reach the 10-15 inch range in captivity. As a beginner, it's imperative to research your choices BEFORE you purchase. Okay, the Frogfish just ate the Lionfish, let's keep moving...
Clown Sweetlips, a.k.a. Harlequin (P. chaetodonoides), Oriental Sweetlips (P. orientalis)
These "puppy dog" juvenile grunts are too often seen in the trade, and rarely adapt to even a few weeks of captivity. Having seen and enjoyed the beauty and charming behavior of these in the wild, I implore you to leave them on the reef, if you see one in the LFS please don't purchase and encourage further exploitation of these delicate fish.
20. Coral Catfish (P. linneatus)
The Lionfish was mentioned above, another venomous species I have been surprised to see in beginner's tanks is the marine catfish or coral cat; Plotosus linneatus. Some have reported possible fatalities associated with Plotosidae, they sport nasty little spines with a super painful venom. Keeping venomous species (Lionfish, Foxface, Toadfish, Urchins, etc.) is sometimes something that happens out of ignorance; often the LFS will employ a sales assistant with very little knowledge, who plops something surprisingly venomous into a plastic bag and sends it home with the unwary beginner; are you listening? I have been jabbed by other types of marine cats here in Florida; it was probably the most painful thing I have ever experienced.
21. Moorish Idol (Zanclus canescens)
Should not be purchased or sold due to its terrible mortality rate in captive systems.
Highly susceptible to shipping damage/stress (including copper treatments). Notice I did not say it is impossible, it CAN be kept with proper selection/space/care, but consider how many will die to bring you the rare one that adapts and most will agree with me it should be avoided unless they are inconsiderate of the world's reefs. Please understand; when you purchase these delicate creatures, you support their continued exploitation and encourage the retailer to order more.
22. Pinnate Batfish (Platax pinnatus)
Sadly, another hard-to-resist beauty, best left in the ocean. With an almost 100 percent mortality rate, it rarely feeds/thrives in captivity. Its two cousins on the other hand, the Orbic (P. orbicularis) and Tiara Bats (P. tiara) are very hardy/wonderful pets as juveniles, but in a single year they will be showing their true spadefish proportions of 12 – 15 inches in height (or more!), and they will heavily tax a small system as they do it. Even the standard 6 foot, 125 gallon setup is no match for their rapid march to adulthood. Better suited to giant public aquaria, Batfish (of all species) quickly require a habitat far bigger than the average hobbyist can offer.
23. Catalina Goby (Lythrypnus dalli)
A hardy, cold water species that suffers a terrible premature mortality rate due to temperature stress in tropical systems. Long term success requires a chilled (some experts suggest 58-60 degrees F) environment. They are simply not tropical creatures; please scold any wasteful retailer you see offering them as such.
Ritteri (H. magnifica), Sebae (H. crispa), Long Tentacle (H. malu), Giant Carpet (S. gigantia), etc. etc.
Although the Bulb-tips (Entacmaea quadricolor) are maintainable by experienced aquarists and can even be propagated with correct lighting/water quality, the fact is, millions of other host anemones have wasted away in aquaria; most live only a few weeks or months under a beginner's care; even advanced hobbyists are now backing off many species, due to increased awareness of the symbiosis/longevity/sparse population of wild specimens and the dismal mortality of captives. Please understand; anemones can live for decades--even the better part of a century--if left in the wild. They are not throw-away seasonal annuals in the local garden center. Your clownfish does not require this invertebrate in captivity. Many of these are still gladly sold to unsuspecting/ignorant hobbyists with no clue about lighting/water movement/feeding requirements, etc. which leads us to...
25. Filter Feeding Invertebrates & Corals
Sponges, sea fans, sea pens, feather dusters, gorgonians, other Cnidaria, soft, stony etc., all specialty feeders requiring far greater care/water quality/hardware/experience than the beginner can afford. Although some are certainly maintainable and can be propagated in a reef system, most serve no more purpose in the beginner's marine tank than a starved, temporary splash of color, reducing our hobby to the level of the dried animal curios in the trinket trade. Many corals require more dollars in just lighting than most beginners have invested in their entire system (!). Although often thought of as passive plant life, corals are actually highly competitive animals and there are aggression issues here; some can send out chemicals and stinging sweepers/filaments/tentacles to damage, even kill other corals, requiring careful placement. Be advised; these animals cannot "get by" until you are able to afford the proper equipment; their environmental demands must be met before they are added, not later. Sadly, many of the filter feeders on the reef are designed to rely on nutrient-rich currents to bring them a continuous food supply;although they may last for a while in the beginner's system, without proper care they s l o o o w l y expire from starvation. Many aquarists are satisfied to avoid them completely, with so many hardy fish species and better quality artificial corals to choose from. Even the base line encrusting inverts on live rock can pose a problem for the novice who has a parasitic infestation with no quarantine tank or experience with medications. For the beginner who must have these, I would suggest trying certain soft corals first, perhaps "sans fish" for a while to greatly reduce the associated complications that can easily arise.
A word of caution regarding the deadly Palytoxin found in Zoanthids (also marketed as Zoas, Zoos, Button Polyps or Sea Mat) and the soft coral Palythoa toxica; this is a highly complex toxin that can be fatal to humans and deserves the respect of protective gloves if you are handling the animals or even working in a tank that houses them. Palytoxin can enter your body by accident, and a trip to the hospital can result from a small open cut on your hand or simply rubbing your eyes after handling the polyps. Some have reported symptoms ranging from angina-like chest pains, breathing difficulties, increased pulse and even collapse due to heart problems. Some reports involve the death of humans by eating crabs and fish which have apparently stored Palytoxin from feeding on Zoanthids. Anyone maintaining these commonly kept invertebrates should research the dangers and exercise proper caution.
Some species, like the Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) make the ideal beginner's invertebrate, but other crustaceans can still pose a problem for beginners so choose with caution. The so-called Mantis "Shrimp,"--actually a Stomatopod--while hardy enough, is a deadly assassin, (read terminator) often sneaking in on live rock but requiring a tank of its own. Do terms like "thumb splitter," "smasher" and "raptorial claws" make the point? Even the aquarium glass isn't safe. Hermit Crabs, often marketed/sold as part of a cleanup crew, require careful selection and a wary eye; in my opinion many mysterious fish "disappearances" can be attributed to hungry Hermit Crabs. For this reason, larger Hermits should be completely avoided in most fish systems. Crabs with large claws have them for a reason, even the largest of shrimps can pose a problem for a small, weak or struggling fish. A few oddball shrimps with peculiar habits occasionally appear in the LFS; the Harlequin Shrimp (H. picta) is most difficult to maintain due to its exclusive diet of living starfish. The Anemone Shrimps (Periclemenes) require a host anemone, and the Saron Shrimps (Saron spp.) can be aggressive predators of fishes/corals/clams. Like other inverts, these crustaceans are sensitive/killed by even a trace of metal in the water, including copper cures required to kill those pesty pathogens like cryptocaryon (marine ich) so plan accordingly.
27. Blue Starfish, other Starfish (Linckia spp., Fromia spp., Potoreaster spp.),
Basket Stars (Ophiuroids), Feather Stars (Crinoids) and other Echinoderms
Commonly imported, Blue Starfish (Linckia laevigata) suffer over 90% premature mortality in captive systems, usually due to shipping damage, salinity changes. While diving in Palau, some of my most vivid memories were formed from these dazzling Echinoderms in shallow water, sunlight dappling on the brilliant blue... makes you appreciate these in a different way, and encourage beginners to avoid them. Some brittle stars and Asterina spp. will adapt well in aquaria, but sadly, most starfish commonly seen in the trade such as the Red Marble Star (Fromia spp.), Red General, Chocolate Chip (Potoreaster spp.), will slowly starve to death in captive systems. This means even when they are carefully slow-drip acclimated and never exposed to air, they are still usually doomed in aquariums. They are slow but voracious feeders, and the average marine aquarium is simply no substitute for the massive and constant supply of specialty foods and microfauna they require to prosper. Even a few hundred pounds of live rock will be eventually grazed bare of its living food supplies, and the supplemental foods commonly offered by aquarists seldom sustain them for more than a few months to a year. Considering some Echinoderms may live 200 years in the wild, this is simply unacceptable. As filter feeders, Basket Stars and Feather Stars are even more problematic and should not be considered by beginners or most aquarists for that matter. As for Urchins, a few species will adapt to aquaria, but require large algae supplies to thrive, and yes--desirable corallines are on the menu. Be advised, some Urchins are highly venomous; the Flower Urchin (Toxopneustes pileolus) has been reported as deadly to humans.
28. Sea Apple, Cucumbers (Pseudocolochirus tricolor, P. violaceus)
More problematic Echinoderms, prone to captive starvation... brilliant coloration makes some of these sad targets for beginners; they can and do poison entire systems overnight when subjected to stress, including getting sucked into an overflow or powerhead intake. Some have reported these "bombs" can be triggered by handling or even spawning. Pacific islanders have been using sea cucumbers to kill the fish in tide pools for centuries, and many aquarists have discovered the hard way that the toxin called holothurin is quite capable of killing every fish in their tank.
The king of the invertebrate world, highly intelligent/fascinating but sadly, very problematic.
Beginners who are not prepared will find them far too delicate, aggressive and short lived, requiring a specimen tank (isolation) and an absolutely escape-proof (sealed) lid. Even in the wild octopus have a short life span; usually 12-18 months--although The North Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) can live 3-5 years. Both males and females die shortly after breeding (females last long enough to tend the eggs). As with their cousins the squids, defensive "inking" is always a disaster waiting to happen; another reason these are seldom shipped. Those hobbyists living near/collecting from Australia's tide pools may encounter the tiny but highly venomous Blue Ring (Hapalochlaena); while the beauty of this creature can "take your breath away," the venom will too... please don't gamble with your life.
30. Other Molluscs
Nudibranchs, Flamingo Tongues, Flame Scallops, clams, oysters, etc., "Buyer beware"...more specialty feeders for the list. Farm raised tridacna clams can be beautiful, long-lived additions to properly lighted reef systems, and they can also die and quickly pollute a beginner's tank without the proper gear/knowledge/experience. Now for all you stubborn aquarists out there, determined to ignore good advice; I don't want to sound too negative here... sure, you COULD maintain a nudibranch like H. bullocki. All you would need is to: 1. Start with a selection of living hydroids, sponges and ascidians. 2. Then, you would need to find the one, exact species to be accepted as food. 3. Then, all you would need is a constant supply! Hopefully you see my point. I remember at 16 years of age, seeing my first gorgeous nudibranch in the LFS... colors beyond compare. How could a beginner resist such a jewel? How many have purhcased them like me, only to see them slowly starve due to lack of knowledge and a proper environment?
With many hardy species available, like clowns and other damsels, hawkfishes, cardinals, certain wrasses, blennies, some of the dottybacks, smaller triggers, certain tangs, gobies, even smaller groupers and predators, etc., the beginner will have no problem stocking the successful marine aquarium while avoiding the ones on this list. Although not all of that last group I just mentioned are necessarily compatible in the same tank, and some will outgrow the small display and eventually need to be moved, they will individually provide hours of fascination and years of success when given proper care and carefully chosen tankmates. Of course, beginners would do well to start with tank raised animals for a while, before risking wild caught options; although sad to lose, captive-bred fish losses will not negatively impact our living reefs. Be forewarned; novices with unstable tanks and little experience who ignore good research, who go on to place a wild caught delicate specimen in a "weak system," where it will likely meet premature death, may encounter a gentle admonishment by the advisors and other members of this forum. Please don't be offended. Any such reaction is constructive in intent; designed to educate and encourage better stewardship of wild caught species and strengthen the hobby as a whole.
Just because they are silent, small and submerged, delicate marine fish and inverts are somehow removed from the mainstream of pet life... how long would an industry last if it continued to sell puppies which starved to death because they required live food that could only be obtained in a remote location of the world? As thousands, even millions of puppies died of starvation, there would be a public outcry so loud it would force a solution... even if it meant the total ban of puppy sales. Although abstract, you see my point; if we do not increase knowledge in our hobby, others will increase restrictions on it. As more and more advances are made and research is documented, perhaps some of the species above will be easily maintained by beginners; it is my sincere hope that until such a time, we all share this information for the benefit of the hobby and the fascinating animals of the sea.
I agree with "Floridaboy's" list of fish NOT suitable for a beginning marine hobbyist. There have been many times that I've seen and talked to people in my LFS who do not have a clue to what they are buying other than the 'pretty fish' or coral/invert. I still see parents buying or discussing to buy a 'Nemo and Dory' fish and anemone because of the movie and the beautiful colors of the fish, but have no clue on how to properly care for them. Not to mention the other more rare and difficult species to keep that are available in my LFS, that many LFS employees do not distract the customer from buying. It's irritating when I see that occur and I try to enlighten the purchasing customer as to problems that may arise from their purchase as a concerned hobbyist. Some change their minds, but others buy them anyway. It's not freshwater fishkeeping, only a little 'harder.' There's a lot more to saltwater fishkeeping than that! A quarantine tank, a lot of research and $$$ BEFORE buying any marine species is the best advice I can give and have received.
I have had a green parrotfish for six years and an orangespotted filefish for three years, but they are only able to live because of the size of the system they are in and should be avoided by anyone who has less than a 5000 L system. Please understand that buying them was a rescue mission and caring for them is very difficult and should only be attempted by experts with very large systems. Please leave these fish in the sea and tell your LFS to boycott these fish.
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