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Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. Default Reef Species to Avoid

    0 Not allowed!
    Marine Species to Avoid

    There are several species sold to unsuspecting marine and marine reef hobbyists which have very little to no chance in aquariums. Was mulling it around in my head those I've seen for sale that nearly all marine keepers have no hope in keeping them alive and thriving in their tank.

    So, I thought I'd write up several species that even experienced keepers should leave at the shop. Especially if they don't study thoroughly the species' specific needs.


    The invert poster child for futility is the Flame Scallop (Lima scabra). The numbers are dismal, since 99 of a hundred of them eventually starve to death in aquariums.

    The reason why is, it is nearly impossible to supply the numbers and type of micro food it needs all day, every day; a constant flow of appropriate foods. In nature it consumes primarily phytoplankton, micro food like Rotifers, coral gametes, and larvae of fish and inverts like copepods. Very difficult for a keeper to culture such things. Not many can financially or otherwise do that.

    The very few that thrive do so in very large, incredibly well established reef tanks

    Despite its glorious scarlet mantle, leave this clam in the shop.


    Long coveted by marine reef keepers is the Moorish Idol, Zanclus cornutus.

    The reason this lovely fish shouldn't be purchased is twofold. First, though very common in Hawaiian waters, it ships quite poorly, and fully 90 percent die due to their time 'in the bag', either dead on arrival, or in days or weeks after purchase.

    Secondly, the only very few successes with Moorish Idols have been in quite large, extremely well established and stable reef aquariums. Moorish Idols are grazers, and feed almost exclusively on marine sponges, tunicates (sea squirts), green algae, and micro-crustaceans like copepods. The former two are found in some very large and established reef tanks. The others are the responsibility of the keeper.

    Without access to all of those foods, Moorish Idols, if you are fortunate to find a healthy one, commonly refuse to eat anything else, and soon starve to death.

    So if you see one or more for sale at your local fish store, leave it there, and save yourself the heartache.


    Another obligate eater are the Mandarin Dragonettes, Synchiropis spendidus and picturatus.

    Though one of the most visually stunning small marine fish, Mandarin Dragonettes commonly starve to death in aquariums, because they eat one thing; micro-crustaceans. As they are near constant feeders, they quickly denude a reef tank of copepods, decapods, and the like. Then, they slowly starve to death. One of a thousand survive and thrive in a reef tank, the other 999 starve to death.

    Though you may see on the internet people who claim to have a Mandarin that eats prepared food, don't buy it. Unless you see one do it, in person, over time, it just doesn't happen.

    The few that do survive do so in quite large, very well established tank in the hundreds of gallons that address the Mandarins' dietary needs.

    Unless you're capable of, and well prepared to, keep your Mandarin 'in pods' throughout it's life, leave them in the shop.


    The beauty of the fish causes unknowing keepers into purchasing the Neon Cleaner Wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus.

    Cleaner Wrasse are obligate eaters; the loose skin and inverts on a fish that presents itself to the wrasse. They WILL NOT eat prepared food of any kind, despite what you might hear to the contrary.

    Cleaner Wrasse are dark with a vivid blue and white stripe.

    The very, very few that survive in tanks do so in reef tanks in the thousand gallon range and larger with sufficient numbers, and types of, fish that it can 'clean'.

    Do yourself a favor and leave this wrasse at the fish store. Instead, buy one or more neon gobies (Elacatinus oceanops). They are brilliant and hardy, and they eat commonly available marine fish foods as well as clean fish tank mates. Majority are captive bred these days, too.


    Lured by its unusual shape and bright colors is the Spotted Filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris.

    Fairly commonly available in shops, this is one reef fish you most defiantly not purchase. The only thing this Spotted Filefish eats is Acropora species coral polyps.

    What attracts unknowing hobbyists is the Spotted Filefish's looks. From an azure blue ground, hundreds of oblong yellow spots are in rows along the lines of scales. The fish is narrow at the front and the tail. The yellow is solid from the top of the sloping head to the long rostrum. That proboscis enables the fish to pluck coral polyps right out of their coralites. Without Acropora species corals to feed on, this fish very quickly starves to death.

    Thus, this fish needs a SPS tank dominated by Acropora in the thousands of gallons, so it can feed without damaging a particular coral. Obviously, one must have either deep pockets and a great deal of floor space to house such a reef aquarium. Everyone else should leave this fish at the store.


    These are the species that come to mind that buyers should avoid. There are several more problem feeders than can adapt to specific commercial foods. Research precise dietary needs and feeding strategies of the reef fish or invert you plan to keep well before purchase.

    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  2. #2


    0 Not allowed!
    Nice thread Dave

    I'm actually working towards getting a mandarin when my tank is ready for one, for all of the reasons you have listed. Hopfully in another 6 months or so I'll be ready, but I'll have to take it one step at a time a see how it goes.
    If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
    "Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
    Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info [URL=""]

  3. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    Have eight splendidus in one of my reefs, one male, the rest females. Their tank was specifically designed to keep them. It's of a size (350), and has five HOB refugiums, plus the large (120 gallon) sump is a reverse daylight refugium. Also have the phytoplankton drip to keep the pod population thriving.

    My Mandarins are entering their ninth year in my care. Put them in my 'do not buy' thing because not many have the large reef tank, excetera, to do so.

    Thank you for the kind comment Cliff.

    When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

    Omnia mutantur nihil interit.

    The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    Awesome article. A lot to learn here.
    <-- Click for journals
    "There is no right way to do the wrong thing." - KingFisher "Only bad things happen fast in this hobby" - Cliff Boo train boo train boo train boo train woohoo

  5. #5


    0 Not allowed!
    Great article Dave, the sad thing is I know what a lot of what these fish look like because most of them are in the lfs.
    Thanks for the writeup!

  6. #6

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    0 Not allowed!
    ive seen some of those in pectco, but none in the specialty sw place or my first choice lfs. wierd.... maybe they know what they are doing XD.

    great read. still wanting a sw set up but i think im going to wait till after college XD
    I wonder if i plant one of my tiger barbs would the demon seed grow to a full tree?
    gotta love them bunnies!
    I.R.S.: We've got what it takes to take what you've got!

  7. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    this list is great. anyoen have anymore to add??
    10G Algae tank-The Nano was moved to the 55G
    55G Reef-
    55G FOWLR-soon
    55G Coral only-soon
    150G-reef/ fowlr? Soon
    75G predator tanksoon

    DIY live rock

  8. #8


    0 Not allowed!
    already have one on the forum Hpimichael, but it just doesn't go into detail about the species. It's a sticky in the Marine Fish forum.
    Considering a Marine Aquarium? A Breakdown of the Components, Live Rock, Cycling a Marine Tank

    "The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The WILLINGNESS to learn is a choice." - Unknown

  9. #9


    0 Not allowed!
    Great write up Dave, definitely a good thing to ward off any unknowing keepers... especially with the mandarins, theyre so cool looking and it's so easy to get baited into getting them... it'd be fun to have one one day but they'd probably suck my little 55 dry of pods in a day or two haha so theyre off the list unfortunately
    55g Long --> After 18mo of doing well the tank crashed during moving. Most likely cause: Flatworm Die-off... won't start another until after moving... Likely not until late 2013

    20g Long --> currently concoting a build plan

    Check out the journal to follow my 20g SW tank

    "Take a chance, because you never know how perfect some things can turn out" -- unknown

  10. #10


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks! I will steer clear of those species for sure... I am having a problem with my Pencil Urchin... should I return him to tropical ocean?

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