Salty Q&A: How Often Should Your Fish Fast?

For a zooplanktivore such as Anthias, who are frequent feeders, withholding food isn’t necessarily advantageousQuestionI’ve been told that it’s a good idea to avoid feeding aquarium fish on occasion, for example once every week or once every other week. I guess this stands to reason because fish in nature can’t always get a meal. Do you agree with this, and if so, how frequently do you recommend doing it?” – Submitted by Candace Brown Answer While I don’t have an issue with the practice of occasionally fasting fish, I’m always wary of making any sort of blanket recommendation such as “Marine fish should be fasted every X number of days.” In my opinion, a much better approach is to think in terms of feeding in a manner appropriate to the particular species—which may or may not include fasting. For instance, some predatory species, such as groupers and moray eels, naturally take in large prey items in one sitting and then go without eating for a relatively long interval until another prey item happens along. With these fish, it may be appropriate to feed only once or a few times per week and then allow them to fast in between meals. On the other hand, zooplanktivores and herbivores (such as anthias and many of the tangs/surgeonfishes respectively) naturally feed frequently, if not continuously, throughout the day. Thus, in an aquarium setting, it’s appropriate to provide multiple small feedings each day for zooplanktivores and continuous grazing opportunities for herbivores.

The Petite, Pugnacious Atlantic Pygmy Angelfish

Atlantic pygmy angelfish (Centropyge argi)Having very recently departed the state of Ohio and resettled his family down in the Florida Keys, Caribbean Chris has had to part with his beloved, long-established Caribbean-biotope tank. He’s also had to come to terms with the reality that the specimens he bequeathed to me are now gracelessly intermingled with my Indo-Pacific species. So, to give CC a little inspiration (or torment his soul, either way), I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to a fish species that might be a welcome addition to his new tank whenever he gets around to setting it up—the Atlantic pygmy angelfish, aka the cherub angelfish (Centropyge argi). A denizen of the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, this dwarf angel is a visual gem and can be a good choice for smaller systems. It is, however, rather feisty for its size, and this trait must be factored in when choosing tankmates, contemplating order of introduction, etc.Physical traits C. argi is blue overall with varying (by individual) degrees of orange-yellow coloration on its face and throat. The eyes are ringed with blue, and most of the fins (with the exception of the pectorals, which are yellow) are very dark blue, almost blackish, with lighter blue margins. Typical of marine angels, this species also has sharp, backward-curving spines on its gill covers (which are prone to getting tangled in nets).

Sometimes Fish Eat the Funniest Things!

While a fish might seem to have an exclusive diet, they’ll often chow down on “off-menu” offerings, as wellCarnivorous fish eat meat, herbivorous fish eat algae/plants, and omnivorous fish eat both. That’s the order of things, and any fish we buy for our aquariums should fit nicely into one of these categories so we know exactly what to feed it, right? Well, if that’s the case, why on earth do my blue-chin triggers (Xanthichthys auromarginatus)—carnivores by nature—always beat my tangs and foxface to the dried algae sheets I offer and actually eat the lion’s share? After all, FishBase describes X. auromarginatus as “[forming] loose aggregations a few meters above the bottom where it feeds on zooplankton, particularly copepods.” Nowhere in this statement do you see, “Oh yeah, and it likes to tear into algae from time to time, too!”On the flipside of the coin, just as my triggers seem to enjoy ordering “off-menu,” my herbivorous yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), Atlantic blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus), and one-spot foxface (Siganus unimaculatus) will greedily gobble up any meaty items that they can fit in their mouths as well. What gives?

4 Crabby Caveats to Keeping Clibanarius tricolor

Blue-legged hermit crabs (Clibanarius tricolor)Clibanarius tricolor, the blue-legged hermit crab, is very commonly introduced to marine aquaria, either in conspecific groups or as part of a multi-species “reef janitor” package or “cleanup crew” (aka “CUC” for those who just can’t get enough of those marine aquarium acronyms), for the purpose of aiding in detritus and algae control. But does this little hermit really perform as advertised and is it truly reef safe? Based on my personal experience with keeping blue-legged hermits, I would answer both of these questions with a resounding “maybe.” Before adding C. tricolor to your aquarium—especially in large numbers—consider the following four caveats:1. It’s an opportunistic omnivore What this point should tell you is, C. tricolor won’t necessarily limit its menu to the algae, detritus, and uneaten food you want it to consume.

Coral Catfish: Cute-Juvenile Syndrome with a Venomous Twist

Coral catfish (Plotosus lineatus)A school of juvenile coral catfish (Plotosus lineatus) rolling and wriggling en masse along the ocean floor is among the more endearing sights one can behold in the marine realm. Not surprisingly, after seeing this phenomenon in nature or on video, many hobbyists are inspired to recreate it in their home aquaria. What’s more, individual juveniles of the species—the only catfish found on tropical coral reefs—are irresistibly cute, so even those hobbyists who have never observed their schooling behavior may be charmed by them at a local fish store. But before yielding to temptation and acquiring P. lineatus for your tank, it’s important to be aware of some key facts with respect to its growth potential, social behavior, and defensive capability. So, let’s take a closer look at these and other characteristics exhibited by this species.Coral cats and CJS The coral catfish, aka the striped eel catfish or saltwater catfish, is one of several fish species available in the marine aquarium trade that exhibit what I (as of this morning) like to call Cute-Juvenile Syndrome, or CJS.
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