Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site
Tropical Fish Forums
Aquarium fishkeeping around the world!
ChatChat  HelpHelp   Search BoardSearch Board   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups 
 ProfileProfile   Check your private messagesCheck your private messages   Log inLog in   RegisterRegister 
Marine Species NOT for beginners
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next
 Forum Index > Marine Fishes and Corals  Reply to topic   Post new topic
Author Message

Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.01.16(Sun)13:55    Post subject: Marine Species NOT for beginners Reply with quote

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on this article.
I have seen similar posts on other forums and decided to start one here for the benefit of new marine aquarists (and their livestock).
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:
Copyright 2013 FloridaBoy

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.

5. Butterflyfishes
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. 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 (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. For full article see here:

Last edited by FloridaBoy on 2013.10.19(Sat)16:30; edited 186 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
New Members

Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Location: Omaha, Nebraska

PostPosted: 2005.01.16(Sun)15:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great article and look forward to more of the same. Many ignore the importance of selecting those species of marine life that have the best odds of survival in a captive environment. Maybe in the future you could post and discuss the best way to select a healthy and appropriate specimen for one's tank.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2005.01.16(Sun)16:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent work!!! I wish people would spend at least a few months researching what they are doing before attempting any salt tank. Even after a full year of research, there is still so much I have to learn. I think a lot of the issues come from LFS's who don't educate thier employees and more importantly their customers. Impulse buying for a salt tank is just a disaster waiting to happen. There are aso many things I want to do with mine...but I am being patient. I hope everyone who even thinks of a saltwater tank would spend a minute or two and read the above post.
Out on the road today...I saw a DeadHead sticker on a Cadillac...
110 Gallon DSA Pentagon
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger Yahoo Messenger

Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia, Australia

PostPosted: 2005.01.16(Sun)18:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

very nice. the bird breeder I used to go to had a blue ribbon eel. and guess what it died. of cource they had to get a zebra moray. and there tank had some tangs, clowns ect. very nice article.

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.01.22(Sat)11:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your comments, hope others benefit.
Keepin' marines happy for 25 years
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 23 Dec 2004

PostPosted: 2005.01.25(Tue)13:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

One can only hope ... but I digress. Great article, great wisdom, lets keep up this positive imformation and pray it works .
Dead I am the dog hound of hell you cry . Devil on your back I can never die !
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Location: Woodstock, GA

PostPosted: 2005.01.25(Tue)14:23    Post subject: Reply with quote


I think it would be a good idea to submit this as a draft in article prep!

excellent, informative reading!
65g Future Anemone Home
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Location: Louisville, KY

PostPosted: 2005.01.25(Tue)21:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is definate article quality. I say post it there & lets get it in the articles section.

I've said it before and I still agree... saltwater success is 90% proper fish selection.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Joined: 15 Nov 2004
Location: Peg City

PostPosted: 2005.01.29(Sat)13:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is one of the first sites to mention the cowfish. I'm really glad that you said what you did. I've been wanting a pair of them for the longest time, ever since I saw my first one.

Do you have anywhere I can read more about them?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2005.01.29(Sat)14:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, plenty of info here:
Keepin' marines happy for 25 years
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
 Forum Index > Marine Fishes and Corals All times are GMT - 6 Hours Reply to topic   Post new topic
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next
Jump to:  
  You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2008 phpBB Group

oF <=> oC in <=> cm G <=> L