especially when they have the option of
purchasing the similar-looking longfin
bannerfish Heniochus acuminatus (a.k.a.
“the poor man’s Moorish idol”), which
is very hardy, adaptable to aquarium
conditions, and amenable to most meaty
I’ve read a few accounts of hobbyists
succeeding with R. quaesita by first offering
it live feeder fish and then weaning it onto
fresh, meaty foods of marine origin. But
I’ve read many more accounts where this
species simply refuses to feed and eventually
perishes. Besides, you have to question
what a hobbyist means by “succeeding
with a species.” Does that mean keeping it
alive for a year or so? Given the surprising
longevity of many marine species (my
percula clownfish, yellow-tail blue damsel,
and yellow tang have been with me since
1997 and are still going strong), keeping
a fish alive for a year or two can hardly be
considered a success.
a specimen has been collected in a reef-safe manner using sustainable collection
techniques is to buy livestock certified by
the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) from
a MAC-Certified retailer.
Do Your Homework!
By now, you’ve no doubt come to the
realization that the successful feeding
of some marine fish species is by no
means a foregone conclusion. The best
way to avoid ending up with a specimen
that refuses to feed or perishes from
malnutrition in spite of feeding is to
research every livestock purchase
thoroughly. That will continue to be my
mantra as long as hard- or impossible-to-feed fish are offered for sale.
But I Am Eating!
In some cases, the problem isn’t that a
fish won’t eat, but that it isn’t getting all
the nutrition it needs from the foods being
offered. The specimen may be gobbling up
everything you offer yet still perishes as a
result of a cumulative nutritional deficit.
Sometimes the problem might be that
there’s some nutritional element missing
from the fish’s diet that is difficult to
provide in captivity, or that the hobbyist
isn’t providing a sufficiently varied diet.
Or, if sodium cyanide was used to facilitate
the fish’s capture (an illegal practice that
still happens more than we care to admit
in areas such as the Philippines and
Indonesia), its digestive system could have
been damaged so severely that it can no
longer extract nutrients from the food it
eats. A cyanide-poisoned fish, if not killed
outright on the reef, will often appear to
be perfectly healthy and have a normal
appetite but then die suddenly weeks or
even months later.
As a hedge against nutritional deficits,
it’s important to offer a variety of fresh,
frozen, and dried foods. It’s even helpful
to alternate the brands of foods offered,
as formulas and ingredients vary. By
alternating products, it’s less likely that
you’ll omit important nutrients that your
fish need to thrive.
Avoiding the purchase of cyanide-poisoned fish is a bit more of a challenge.
However, a good way to be confident that