Did you know…..one of the best things you can do to ensure your long-term saltwater aquarium success is learn how to select the best and healthiest marine life possible.
Some of the stuff you read today you will already know, but my question to you is are you selecting your fish according to the right formula or are you one of those people who get swayed by the newest brightest fish or coral in the shop and makes that impulse buy? This scenario is the most commonly occurring mistake that even experienced aquarists make and then regret.
The reason intelligent selection is so important is because collection, transport, shipping and multiple acclimation procedures are without a doubt the most stressful event in a pet marine fishes life. Up to 80% of wild caught livestock die before they establish themselves in the home aquarium. So it makes sense to learn how to choose the healthy ones and leave the rest in the pet store.
The second reason intelligent selection is critical relates to your tank; the ecosystem you have created and what you have living there.
Here are some crucial considerations in regards to your prospective new pet and your tank:
- Available space in your tank, is there enough for the organism to be happy?
- Suitable habitat(s) for your prospective pets (for example Royal Grammas like caves).
- Existing water parameters and light levels.
- Availability of and ease of feeding any specialised foods.
- Longevity in captive environments (species like Moorish idols traditionally don’t do well in captivity).
- Compatibility with other species regarding territoriality, predation, toxicity, chemical warfare (for example as with Cowfish/Boxfish and certain invertebrates).
So, intelligent selection all comes down to 2 things: adequate research on the species you want to ensure you choose something you can provide for easily (or happily) and it will do well with your livestock and current tank environment. The second thing is going to pet stores and fish shops and choosing the best specimen available (or waiting to find the right one) of your researched, chosen species.
Doing good research…
I advise all my clients to do their marine life selection research according to a saltwater aquarium plan; this “plan” is a written proposal, a blueprint of your tank outlining all species and equipment that will be the evolution of your tank over time. This plan is designed to be adhered to and abided by to ensure the long-term harmony and sustainability of your aquarium will be paramount now and in the future.
Your plan should include a list of prospective species you want that are researched in terms of:
– Care required (and how easy they are to care for, can you provide for them willingly?)
– Size (at purchase and at maturity compared to the size of your tank and how many species you currently have)
– Diet (food and feeding, fish with difficult to provide for diets like Mandarins should be thought through very carefully before purchasing)
– Behaviour (shy fish cant be put with boisterous ones too easily, known bully species like Damsels should be shunned in a community tank)
– Set-up/water conditions required (additives, water movement, light levels)
– Compatibility with other marine life (will they get along?)
– Degree of aggression/territoriality (if high will cause other species stress)
– Can they be kept in pairs or groups?
This planning will allow you to make intelligent choices where every other relationship in the tank is taken into consideration. It may seem like a lot of work but it only needs to be done once and is well worth the effort made.