Aquarium Livestock

Making a trip down to the local LFS to look at newly-arrived aquarium livestock is surely the highlight of any hobbyist’s day.

But before getting caught up in a buying frenzy, it is imperative that we do adequate research on the care and feeding of the aquarium inhabitants we might be thinking purchasing.

Aquarium Livestock — A Reality Check

The marine specimens we are put in our tanks are precious lives taken out of their natural habitat.  Most have endured travelling thousands of miles in plastic bags packed tightly into styrofoam boxes.

aquarium livestock

Ocellaris Clownfish are a hardy fish for beginners

And up to 20% of all aquarium livestock would have perished in shipping before even reaching the display tanks at our local fish store.  The percentage only gets higher for fish that are improperly caught or poorly handled before shipping.  Add to that the routine importation of specimens with poor survival rates and we have a clearer picture of the dark side of the ornamental marine aquarium industry.

Needles to say, we owe every fish or invertebrate we choose the very best care that we can possibly give them.

Aquarium Livestock — Special Requirements

There are several factors we need to take into consideration before deciding on what we put into our aquariums.  Many species are hardy and take to life in captivity well.  Some species have special and very unique requirements that are key to their survival.  Some are known not to survive in captivity for more than a few weeks.

  • Special Dietary Requirements — This is one of the major factors for the demise of certain wild-caught specimens.  Seahorses and Mandarin dragonets come to mind; both will eat only certain live foods.  If you cannot provide a specific type of food for a particular species, stay away and leave it to the experts
  • Compatibility Issues — a typical beginner’s mistake is choosing aquarium livestock that are not compatible.  Many fish will fight and kill other fish of their own species for territory.  Keeping predatory fish with smaller, meeker fish, or choosing fish that are not reef-safe for a tank that you have painstakingly stocked with corals and invertebrates are also recipes for disaster.
  • Water Quality — while fish are generally forgiving of less than pristine water conditions, invertebrates like corals and clams require clean water with all parameters in check.  Read here for more about Ideal Water Parameters For A Reef Aquarium.
  • Lighting Requirements — While fish can be content with basic aquarium lighting from a couple of fluorescent tubes, clams and small-polyped stony corals (SPS) for example will not do well on anything less than intense lighting, preferably from metal halides or multiple T5 bulbs.

Buying Aquarium Livestock Based On Advice From Your Local Fish Store (LFS)

But how do you tell if you’re getting good advice from your LFS, especially if you’re a total beginner?

There’s no straightforward answer really.

But take a look at the display tanks in the store.  Are the aquarium livestock healthy?  Are their fish active and disease-free?  Are the tanks well maintained?   Are the store assistants knowledgeable or are they disinterested minimum-wage part-timers?

Not surprisingly, the LFS’s likely to give you good advice are small businesses run by owners who are passionate about marine aquariums.

LFS’s that do give good advice should be appreciated and supported.

Read more about Aquarium Livestock:

How To Acclimate Fish

Quarantine Tank

Feeding Marine Fish

Mandarin Fish | Care and Feeding

Aggressive Fish

Reef Clean Up Crew

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