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February 2012 Aquarium Fish International Editor's Note

They Are What They Eat

By Clay Jackson |

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Aquarium Fish InternationalIn past special issues, we may have run one feature, perhaps two, that pertained to the special theme at hand, such as aquarium lighting. This time out we asked our columnists months beforehand if they could tailor their content to fit the food and feeding theme for February. And several obliged us.

In this food and feeding issue, we still have the usual features befitting the theme. For example, marine fish expert Scott W. Michael walks readers through four marine feeding groups: detritivores (fish that fill their bellies by sifting through the sandbed, one mouthful at a time, looking for delectable morsels to eat), herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. Clear up any confusion you may have about what your marine wards have on their minds come dinnertime by perusing Michael’s “Marine Fish Feeding Guilds.”

Colorful butterflyfishes sit atop most marine aquarists’ lists of the most popular saltwater aquarium fish, but many species have well-earned reputations as occasional coral-nippers, and some are known as out-and-out corallivores. James Gasta offers a nice overview of the wild diets of 10 butterflyfish species and what the ramifications of keeping them in reef tanks are (with the requirements of 10 more listed here). See if the butterflyfish at your local fish store — the one that caught your eye and had you drawing like a gunslinger for your wallet — is dietarily suitable for your tank. (See “Butterflyfish and Coral Compatibility.”)

Then there are our columnists. Steinhart Aquarium Senior Biologist Charles Delbeek takes a quick look at the short but ever-evolving history of coral foods and feeding in aquaria in his “Reef Aquarist” column.

Well-meaning aquarists often overfeed their fish to the point at which the health of their tank and all it contains is compromised. “Wet Vet” author Mark Mitchell, D.V.M., offers his five-point scale to help determine if fish are too thin, just right or obese — or putting it another way, do they need to be fed more or put on diets? Just like in humans, obesity in fish can lead to all kinds of associated health problems. And it’s not just the amount but the quality of the food that matters.

So next time you partake of any of the fat-free, organically grown, cage-free, dolphin-safe, vitamin-fortified, grass-fed, parboiled and “guilt-free” foods available to you, think about what you’re feeding your fish and inverts.

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