» Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Blog, Education, Glenn L, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on What’s your purpose?

Aquarium Maintenance – Absolutely Fish, NJ

 

Aquarium Maintenance: What’s your purpose?

 

By Glenn Laborda

 

I kind of feel, that when you set up a beautiful reef tank, the coral should be your main focal point. With all that has been invested into your high tech gear like protein skimmers, reverse osmosis units, L.E.D. lighting, and all the other necessary equipment, fish should only be there for a purpose, or to do a job per-se!

I know you're thinking “that’s the point of my cleanup crews like snails, hermits, urchins, and crabs”. True that they are the unsung behind-the-scenes heroes of your tank, but even the fish should serve some function. I know you’re also thinking “but I want a few amazing show type fish too!” As you will see; even the rare or cool reef fish can serve a purpose.

We are going to attack this fish with a purpose by family or grouping. The first families will be the Gobies and Blennies! These little guys are small and on the front lines defending your tank from micro-algae or sifting the sand to keep detritus available to be taken out by your filtration! Some of my favorites are:

What's Your Purpose: Lawn Mower Blenny
Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus)
Distribution: Indo-Pacific
Size: 4″ or more
Care: Easy
Description: A great micro–algae eater, but a little tough with other blenny species.
What's Your Purpose: Bullet Goby
Bullet Goby (Amblygobius phalaena)
Distribution: Indo-Pacific
Size: 5″
Care: Easy
Description: A great sand sifter. It may not be the prettiest, but it is one of the most durable sifters. Will eat prepared foods.
Caution
: Jumper.
What's Your Purpose: Neon Goby
Neon Goby (Gobiosoma oceanops)
Distribution: Atlantic
Size: up to 2″
Care: Easy
Description: Great for cleaning fish of any minor parasites, hardy, and great looking.

 

Another great family of fishes for the reef are the wrasses. Now there are a lot of large aggressive species so please get advice or do research before purchasing a wrasse for your aquarium.

 

What's Your Purpose: Melanurus Wrasse
Melanurus Wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus)
Distribution: Indo–Pacific
Size: up to 5″
Care: Moderate
Description: A beautiful wrasse that is great at cleaning rocks. Will eat planarians or flatworms in small amounts.
Caution
: Jumper.
What's Your Purpose: Cleaner Wrasse
Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
Distribution: Indo–Pacific
Size: up to 4″
Care: Difficult
Description: Great fish for cleaning parasites from other fish. Difficult to keep. Once parasites are gone they are not easy to feed, and many soon get skinny and die!
Caution
: Jumper.
What's Your Purpose: 6-Line Wrasse
6 Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexatneaia)
Distribution: Indo–Pacific
Size: 2″
Care: Easy
Description: Great fish, but sometimes it can be aggressive towards smaller species. Great for cleaning rocks. Eats small bristles, planarai and flatworms in moderation.

 

Next is a group not generally recommended, as most are not reef safe and will eat corals, but are needed at times. Butterflies are beautiful and difficult to keep, that’s why they’re sought after…kind of a challenge.

 

What's Your Purpose: Kleins Butterfly
Kleins Butterfly (Chaetodon kleinii)
Distribution: Indo–Pacific
Size: up to 5″
Care: Easy
Description: One of the best Aiptasia/Majano Anemone eaters I’ve ever used. The downfall is when the anemones are gone the butterflies move onto coral. All corals from Zoas to S.P.S. can be affected.
Caution
: Must remove.
What's Your Purpose: Copperband Butterfly
Copperband Butterfly / Marginulus Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus / marginalis)
Distribution: Indo–Pacific / Australia
Size: up to 6″
Care: Difficult
Description: A fairly decent Aiptasia eater. Very difficult to keep, hard to get to eat prepared foods. Sometimes may take 2–3 Copperbands to get one to “survive”!
What's Your Purpose: Auriga Butterfly
Auriga Butterfly (Chaetodon auriga)
Distribution: IndoPacific, Red Sea
Size: up to 8″
Care: Moderate
Description: One of the “hardier” butterfly species, it even does well in fish only tanks. Will eat prepare foods readily! Similar to the Klein’s Butterfly, it will decimate Aiptasia and Majanos, but will move onto corals and polyps shortly after.
Caution
: Must remove.

 

Lastly, the real soldiers of the reef tank, the Tangs (Surgeonfish). They are the hardiest and hardest working reef fish you can buy. This family also has some rare “Gems” [pun intended] that can also be your “show” fish!

What's Your Purpose: Chevron Tang
Chevron / Kole / Tomy Tangs (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis / strigosus / tominiensis)
Distribution: Hawaiian Islands & Indo-Pacific
Size: up to 7″
Care: Easy
Description: Very hardy fish. The “bristle tooths” are amazing micro–algae eaters. Their mouths are like tiny brushes full of bristles for scraping algae off rocks. Unless it is a large aquarium (200 gallons or more) only 1 per tank!
Caution
: Aggressive to other Tangs
What's Your Purpose: Yellow Tangs
Purple / Yellow / Scopas Tangs (Zebrasoma xanthurum / flavescens / scopas)
Distribution: Indo-Pacific / Red Sea
Size: up to 8″
Care: Easy
Description: Some of the “toughest” Tangs around. They are the “short snout nosed” Tangs. This short pointed snout allows for ripping and tearing of filamentous hair algae, bryopsis, and “unwanted” micro-algaes! I use small Scopas in almost every tank in our Aqua-Culture Facility to keep algae off the frags. They work great, are relatively cheap, and are super hardy. Similar to the bristletooths, you can’t have too many of the same genus in one tank. If the sizes are mixed properly, you can possibly mix a few into one aquarium. Also, there’s not a much better looking fish than a large full color Purple Tang! Except maybe; Zebrasoma gemmatum (Gem Tang), Zebrasoma rostratum (Black Tang), Naso literatus, (Naso Tang) varieties!
Caution
: Aggressive to other Tangs

 

I’ve only been able to touch base on a few choices of “fish with a purpose”. There are countless others such a Pseudos, Breams, Grammas, Dart Gobies, Cardinals, Clowns, etc. We urge you to stop in and talk with an M-1 Certified Aquarist here at Absolutely Fish. Let them walk you through the endless fish isles and see what’s right for you…  

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