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Avoid these fishes!

YES, Avoid these fishes!

Here today we will discuss the most popular fish in the trade to be avoided. Given the beautiful color or the fish or perhaps the cheap price, you should always research and prepare for it as the fishes listed might be difficult to keep or difficult to get it fed.

One of the most sough after fish Achilles Tang which belong to Acanthurus family is very susceptible to ich and require good water quality and large swimming space

One of the most sough after fish ( Achilles Tang ) which belong to Acanthurus family is very susceptible to ich and require good water quality and large swimming space

Ich Magnet

Tangs are one of the obvious ich magnets, by saying ich magnets means they are easily susceptible to ich. One of the genus to avoid are Acanthurus which consist of Powder Blue, Powder Brown, Powder Black and Archillis tang are the most common fish to be seen in trade and also most susceptible to disease in a Reef Tank. It is not totally impossible to keep this species however you are required to quarantine every single fish that enters your tank from the start and also prepare to dip anything that enters it too because this is to lower the risk of diseases entering your tank.

However, it still doesn’t 100% eliminate the chance of this fish getting caught with ich or die. One way to ensure your fish to be healthy and resistant is to feed them well to build up their resistance and ensure fish is fully quarantined before introducing it to your marine tank. Do also take note of the existing tank mate in your system as if it is not properly introduced, they might be aggressive towards each other and being bullied by established fish in the system which might weaken their immune system making them susceptible to develop ich again. Tangs also required amber swimming space and it is only recommended for reefer with 3ft tank and above.



Affordable, elegant and beautiful as it seems to be, however so note that some of the damsel species are notoriously aggressive fishes to other tank mates, that will attack another tank mate once it is established. If you really like this species you should consider introducing it last (Which maybe seem impossible because we always want to add new stuff), or introduce a bigger size fish after it. Be sure to research on the behaviour of the damselfish that you will be getting to avoid any aggression.

Damselfish might do well in a school in the ocean but however, in a small tank, they often chase and bully themself to death as victims of the bullied may find themself hiding and die from starvation.


Copperband butterfly 

Even myself, I love the beautiful white and yellow colours and also the long peck. However, do note that this fish diet is only known to eat copepods and aiptasia. You can train them to eat Mysis shrimp but it will require a lot of patience for that. Impossible to keep? No. But it has really come to how much commitment you can keep this fish with some stroke of luck as well. 

Once you are able to obtain a healthy specimen, the chance of getting it to feed prepared food will be higher, and you will be rewarded with a beautiful specimen swimming in your tank.


Dragonet (Mandarin fish )

Same as a copperband butterfly, their diets in the wild consist only of live copepods and pods that are small enough to enter their mouth. It should only be kept in an established tank with lots of critters for them to hunt in the while. If you keep in a small tank, train them to eat mysis in a small isolation before release or else they will just ignore the food as they are never going to try to nibble on it unless in a confined area. Weird huh. Fortunately, there are captive breed specimen that is ready train to feed prepared food even pellets as well! However, do prepare to pay a little bit more for these captive breed one.


Bicolor Dottyback

Small yet aggressive. Dottyback is one of the most common fishes in the marine trade that newbies tend to purchase because they look like Royal Gramma from finding nemo. This fish may look gentle and harmless but do not be deceived by its looks, as once settled, they are really really really aggressive in their own space and always tends to bully new tank mates to death. I would totally avoid this fish but then if you really like this fish, do consider introducing it as the last fish without its own kind/body shape with ample swimming space for it.


Pygoplites diacanthus – Regal angelfish is consider one of the harder angel fish getting it to feed prepared food in an aquarium environment. Most eat sponge in the wild.

Picky eater Angelfish

Some angelfish are picky eaters and it could be challenging getting them to eat prepared food in the captive aquarium, as some of their natural diets in the wild usually consist of a wide variety of sponge. Some species not limited to are Regal Angelfish, Multibar Angelfish and Golden Angelfish are the few of the beautiful angelfish that are often reported hard getting them to eat in a captive environment, which often ends up being dead from starvation.

I will only recommend to purchase them if they are eating pellet in a LFS or show sign of feeding . 

PS: Do find out what pellet brand it is eating and get them to mix with what you feeding with.

Lastly, other than avoiding the fish, you should also learn about how to pick a healthy fish which I will write on it next time. If you have more fish you wish to bring to attention to avoid, do write on the comment below.


Author - @Willy Guccivera Yap

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      Fixed vs. Free Nutrient
      Queen Angelfish (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f3/Holacanthus_ciliaris_10.jpg/1280px-Holacanthus_ciliaris_10.jpg) Let us consider a fully grown queen angelfish (H. Ciliaris). Show size queen angelfish is a foot long fish weighing almost a kilogram. For a fish of this size, it contains large amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in its body. However, when you add this beautiful fish into your aquarium, the nitrate and phosphate does not rocket through the roof. Why? It is because the nutrients are fixed in the tissue of the fish. Therefore these nutrients are not available for other organisms, such as bacteria and algae.
      Pellets are a staple food for many captive fish Let us look at pellets then. When we toss a handful of pellets in to the aquarium, does the nitrate and phosphate increases? Maybe. When the pellets is freshly added, the nitrogen and phosphorus are “locked” in the pellet ingredients. When a fish eats the pellet, it digest it, and some of the nutrients become part of the fish. These portion of pellets does not increase the free nutrient of the aquarium. The uneaten and indigestible part of the food, however, will breakdown thanks to the bacteria in the water. This will increase the free nutrient in the aquarium. Thus overfeeding (define as feeding more than fish can consume), and feeding low quality food (contain much ingredients, especially terrestrial origin, which can’t be digested by the fish) are the two main reasons of out-of-control nutrition levels.
      The much feared algae: Bryopsis (By B.navez – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9364885) Let us last consider algae. A bunch of hair algae contains fixed N and P in its cell. if these algae dies due to medication or water quality. These N and P will be released, and the free nutrients in the water increases. Without intervention, theses free nutrients will likely encourage the growth of some other forms of undesirable algae or bacteria.
      Test kit and Expectations
      High nutrient or low nutrient? We often take reference not from the nature, but from the test kit we use. Take for example, nitrate. natural reef water has a nitrate level around 0.25 ppm. Based on this standard, we may consider 1 ppm nitrate as high, while 0.05 ppm nitrate as low. However, reefers generally consider 1 ppm nitrate to be rather low. This is because many popular test kits, such the Salifert nitrate kit, has a lowest reading of 2 ppm in their normal test mode.
      Things are not much better when it comes to phosphates. Most test kits are not able to measure the level in the natural reef. The worst challenge, however, is that hobby test kits only measures inorganic phosphates. While there are plenty of organic phosphates in the water. For an aquarium with 0 ppm phosphate from Hanna test, it may have significant organic phosphate in the water. These organic phosphates supplies nutrient to cyanobacteria and dinoflagellate alike.
      When it comes to organic carbon, well, welcome to the jungle. There are few organic carbon test kits in the market. Not to mention the desired level of carbon is, for a lack of better word, undecided. We don’t care so much about organic carbons because we can’t test it. What if this is the key to reef nutrient management?
      C-N-P and the Redfield Ratio
      Redfield Ratio
      It is only reasonable that aquarist talk about nitrates and phosphates when talking about nutrients in a reef aquarium. After all, the only accessible test kits for our hobby is nitrate and phosphate. The inconvenient truth is, if we cannot test certain things, doesn’t mean it’s not there, or it’s unimportant.
      Alfred C. Redfield In 1934, oceanographer Alfred Redfield went around and sampled the marine phytoplankton and deeper ocean water. When he examined the chemical composition of these samples, he discovered something interesting. The ratio of C-N-P, as well as other elements, are more or less the same. On average, the ratio is 106:16:1 in terms of the number of atoms of C:N:P. Since then, Redfield ratio is one key idea for oceanography studies.
      In Aquarium
      Does Redfield ratio applies to our reef aquarium? Yes and no.
      Unless you aquarium is a bowl of highly concentrated phytoplankton, or a void consist of deep seawater, the Redfield is not directly relevant for the water parameter. In fact, most of our reef aquarium supports far less phytoplankton than natural reef waters. Therefore, fixating on a magic ratio is generally counter-productive.
      However, Redfield ratio gives us some hint about nutrients. The C:N:P ratio is a fixed value for a given organism. For example, Chaetomorpha has fixed C:N:P ratio. Nitrosomonas has a different fixed C:N:P ratio. Green Hair algae, cyanobacteria, diatoms… each of them has a fixed ratio of C:N:P.
      Diatoms, which have different ratio of C:N:P to, say, hair algae. (By Damián H. Zanette – Originally uploaded 01:59, 16 July 2008 (UTC) by Dhzanette (talk) to en:Wikipedia (log).(Original text: I created this work entirely by myself.), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7267563) Therefore, if your aquarium relies on these organisms for export, then we need to supplies them with a good balance of C:N:P. For instance, we harvest chaetomorpha to export nutrients. The carbon is supplied when the algae photosynthesizes. In order to grow, chaeto takes up N and P from the water, thus export thing them. If the concentration of N in water is not sufficient to support the growth, the chaeto will not be able to take up any P as well.
      The lesson from Redfield ratio is simply: organisms exports nutrients in a fixed ratio. If one nutrient is insufficient, they can’t export other nutrients either.
      Exporting by Biomass
      Why do we need to care about the nutrient ratio for algae and bacteria? This is because most of the aquarium relies on exporting biomass for nutrient management.
      A fish contains a lot of phosphate. However, adding a powder blue tang into an aquarium does not release these phosphates into the water. The phosphates are “fixed” within the fish. It’s not dissolved in the water. The algae cannot make use of these phosphates to grow. Basically, these phosphates does not contribute to the available nutrient in your reef tank.
      You are looking a a picture of efficient nutrient export (Reef2Reef forum) If we can grow organisms which takes up nutrients in the water column; fix the nutrient in its cells. Then we remove some of these organism from the aquarium. Voilà, the nutrients are exported. The more these organism grows, the more nutrients they remove from the water. In practice, there are many different approaches to achieve this.
      Bacteria and Skimming
      Like it or not, bacteria is the most numerous organism in your reef tank. In the most ideal condition, bacteria undergo binary fission. During the process, one bacterium becomes two, two become four. Before you know it, the amount of bacteria can reach unreal proportions. For instance, nitrosomonas, one of the common nitrifying bacteria, has a growth rate of 3.0/day. If your aquarium starts with a single bacteria, theoretically, there will be 205,891,132,094,649 bacteria one month later. This amount of bacteria would weight more than 200 kg. Fortunately for us, such situation is next to impossible in our reef aquarium. There is limited space and nutrient to support exponential growth. In addition, some bacteria dies off, or become prey to other organisms. Nevertheless, this growth of bacteria can significantly deplete the nutrient in the reef, and cause cloudiness at the same time.
      Since the reef aquarium can only support a limited population of bacteria, nutrient export is inefficient unless the bacteria is constantly removed from the aquarium. Lucky for us, bacteria tends to flock together. This bacteria flocks are easily removed with protein skimming.
      Skimmers remove bacteria flocks, diatoms and whole lot of stuff from your water Algae as a form of nutrient reduction
      Growing algae outside the display tank is a natural and effective way for nutrient reduction. Aquarists can grow turf algae within an algae scrubber. Alternatively, they can grow macroalgae in a refugium, or more recently, a reactor. Algae, being slightly more complex than bacteria, grows and propagates much slower. Therefore it takes longer for an algae based export to be up and running at full capacity.
      Algae make the required organic carbon mainly from photosynthesis. However, different algae contains different proportions of N and P; and these inorganic nutrients must be take up from the free nutrients in the water column. This tiny detail is significant, because it affects the efficiency of an algae scrubber or macroalgae refugium.
      Algae Turf Scrubber
      (image from carousell) In an algae scrubber, the aquarist does not purposefully keep a (few) species of algae. Many different algae species compete with each other based on available nutrients and space. When the phosphate is higher, for example, more brown algae will grow. In a way, an algae scrubber is effective across a wide range of water parameters, and it is self-tuning to a certain extend.
      In a macroalgae refugium, the aquarist has to provide proper nutrients for the chosen species of algae. If a species of algae use up most nitrate in the water, but leave behind a lot of phosphates, then the aquarist needs to intervene to maintain the balance.
      If an aquarist pulls some algae from refugium, and feed them to the fishes, are they exporting nutrients? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment below.
      Corals, as well as photosynthetic invertebrate such as tridacna clams, requires N and P to grow. Therefore by growing these desirable organisms, aquarists unknowing remove some of the nutrients from the water column as well.
      Since growing corals and invertebrates is the main goal of a reefer, this export technique is almost perfect. The problem however, is that the corals and inverts are more advanced than algae and bacteria. Therefore they grow slower, and also demand a more exacting water quality.
      Managing Nutrient Imbalances
      The methods listed above exports C-N-P at the same time. What can we do when the nutrients become out of balance? There are two tools in our arsenal: we can add in the limiting nutrients, or we can export the excess.
      When it comes to addition, carbon dosing is extremely effective to provide the limiting nutrient for these bacteria: organic carbons. Addition of organic carbons directly into reef waters allows faster growth of bacteria, This, coupled with an efficient skimmer, can be very effective to export large amount of N and P. In some aquaria, when N and P becomes imbalanced, the aquarist can dose nitrate or phosphate to make up the difference, and eventually achieving a lower level for both N and P.
      Selective export method; for N and P gives aquarist fine tuning ability to adjust the level of specific nutrients. Sulfur denitrator removes nitrate from the aquarium without affecting the phosphate level. On the other hand, phosphate media such as GFO and aluminum oxide takes care of phosphates without changing the nitrate level.
      Conclusion and More
      I start discussion from the perspective of nutrient removal, because achieving low nutrient level is the goal of many reefer. However, just like you need both accelerator and brake to drive a car, reefers need to know how to increase the nutrition in the water. Remember, the goal of reefing is not to get nutrients as low as possible, but to provide correct and stable level of nutrient based on how your aquarium is run.
      In part II of this article, I would discuss the flip side of the coin. we will look at how we can increase nutrients in the reef in a controlled way. Meanwhile, keep the nutrients low where you want them, and carry on reefing.
      Author - @JiaEn
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