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October 2010 Aquarium Fish International Editor's Note

The Marine Aquarist Ethos

By Clay Jackson |

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While rummaging through my office recently, I came across a list of fish that I pulled from the Internet. Presumably, all of these fish are offered to the marine-fish-buying public, and the listers recommend that 108 of them not be kept by marine aquarists.

The listers offer some really sound reasons for including fish on their “no-keep” list, such as hard-to-replicate wild diets, difficult-to-simulate habitat, questionable catch methods (i.e., cyanide), dangerous (venomous, etc.), outgrow most aquaria, easily stressed or rare in the wild.

While I agree with the spirit behind the list and many of the choices on it, I also feel that the marine hobby continues to evolve. Today’s marine aquarist is more sophisticated and adept at keeping species that even a few years ago might have been deemed impossibilities for home aquaria.

That’s where publications like Aquarium Fish International come into play. For the past 22 years, we have strived to offer hobbyists of all stripes the latest, most thorough husbandry information for easy, intermediate and hard-to-keep fish. No matter how many utterances there are about the challenges of keeping some species, there are always some aquarists up to the challenge. In fact, it is this “amateur-scientific” approach that continually advances the knowledge of how to keep “unkeepable” species.

Of course, if you are not among the 1 percent bent on advancing marine husbandry knowledge, perhaps you should take heed and keep fish that adhere to your level of expertise. Challenging, hard-to-keep fish tend to also run a pretty penny and are not fish you will want to “experiment” with.

You should always make it part of your marine aquarist ethos to thoroughly research the husbandry requirements of any new acquisitions you plan on keeping for the first time. Do they do best in a shoal? What order should they be stocked in? Do they require supplemental algae in their diet? Are they nocturnal? If you learn everything you can about the fish you’re thinking of purchasing, you’ll avoid any surprises once you get your new specimen home. Knowledge is power.

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October 2010 Aquarium Fish International Editor's Note

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