Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site

Zanclus cornutus
Moorish Idol

 Age of Aquariums > Saltwater Fish

Photos & Comments

moorish1.jpg (21kb)
Photo Credit: Leandro Neme

Name: Zanclus cornutus
Size BehaviorReef
Origin: Indo-Pacific
25 cm Shy No


The Moorish Idol is one of the most difficult, but also one of the most rewarding fish to acclimate. It has a slender body and is sometimes difficult to feed and might need coaxing. A word of warning though, it is selective with its food.

Contributed by Manny

Not so long ago I visited my LFS and in one of their tanks I saw two beautiful Idols. To my surprise, however, these Idols were eating. I was in shock. I thought these were a hands off fish, beautiful to look at but not to own. The clerk assured me that they were not difficult to have if they in fact took food. They are herbivores and therefore require greens in their diet (like Tangs), and constantly need to peck at food. I purchased one and it is doing incredibly fine. I purchase dried seaweed from a local Korean grocer, attach it to a clip and submerse it in the tank. The Idol constantly pecks at this seaweed and eats it. I have been experimenting with various forms of seaweed including Dulse. This Idol also eats frozen brine shrimp, plankton, and blood worms. Apparently, if Idols are overly stresed and not fed during their shipping, they will go on a hunger strike and eventually but sadly perish. So, if you see an Idol at your LFS and it is eating, go for it! Idols make great community members.

Contributed by (no name given)

I fully agree that the moorish idol is one of the most difficult marine fish to keep and extremely selective for food. This is also why a lot of hobbyists rather buy wimple or banner fish as their replacement.

Contributed by (no name given)

I at first thought this fish was a taboo. Mine hand feeds, I have had my Moorish Idol for a good 6 months now and it is the best feeder in my tank, even beating my Niger Trigger. I find a good feed of spirulina or nori soaked in Seachem's "Reef Plus" once a week provide optimal nutrition. The most rewarding fish I keep.

Contributed by Dizzy

Although it can be done, I would have to definately discourage most people from even attempting to keep Moorish Idols. You may be able to keep one alive, but it may take you several fish to find one that will actually feed. Just remember that if you continually buy Moorish Idols from your LFS, it will just encourage them to keep buying and consequently kill several (probably dozens) just to get you that one fish that will live. Sorry, but I always have and will continue to discourage the sale and keeping of Moorish Idols, no matter how beautiful and rewarding they might be.

Contributed by Jacoby Hale

The Moorish Idol is one of the most beautiful fish out there. I tend to call them Rent-A-Fish. Why? Because very few people can keep them alive for any length of time. Unless you see this fish eat at your local fish store, and you water conditions are all ideal, leave it alone!

Contributed by Stefan Carter

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