About three months ago, I
bought a leopard wrasse for
my 40-gallon (151-liter) reef
tank. It wasn’t until after I got it that
I discovered this species’ reputation for
being hard to feed and having a poor
survival rate in aquariums. So far, though,
it is doing well in my tank.
I’ve begun adding live amphipods and
copepods from an online source to the tank
and feeding a reputedly excellent pellet
food, which it does accept. I’ve also been
offering frozen mysid and brine shrimp,
but it takes no interest in them. Since the
wrasse has survived in good health for three
months, is it safe to assume it will survive?
I’m afraid I can’t say with any
certainty whether your wrasse
is out of the woods yet or not.
When it comes to fish species
that are challenging to feed, such as the
leopard wrasses (Macropharyngodon spp.),
sometimes it can take quite some time for
a serious nutritional deficiency to manifest
itself. Specimens can hang in there, eating
some or even all of the foods available to
them, but then suddenly succumb after many
weeks or months of seemingly good health.
An example of this scenario is a Mandarin
dragonet (Synchiropus splendidus) I kept
some years ago. I had the specimen in a
75-gallon (284-liter) reef tank containing 90
pounds ( 41 kg) of live rock, and it survived for
approximately a year and a half, apparently
feeding on the various microcrustaceans
inhabiting the rocks. But then the little critter
took a turn for the worse and died.
Looking back, it’s obvious that the poor
thing had simply eaten itself out of house
and home and then starved to death. I was
too busy patting myself on the back for
my “success” with this challenging species
to notice that its food supply had played
out and the specimen was very gradually
The good news in your case is that the
specimen is at least eating, which gives you
something to build upon. At this point, the
best advice I have is to keep supplementing
the microcrustacean population in the tank,
as you’ve begun doing with the amphipods
and copepods, as well as to continue offering
the pellets and experimenting with various
appropriately sized meaty food items.
If your system doesn’t include a refugium,
you might consider adding one to further
bolster the population of tiny live organisms.
With enough variety, you might just be able
to strike the right nutritional balance to
keep your leopard wrasse alive and thriving.
My wife and I have a
20-gallon (76-liter) saltwater
aquarium that has just one lonely fish
in it right now. It’s a little goby with a
really long extension on its dorsal fin. It
was identified at the fish store with the
scientific name Stonogobiops nematodes.
After doing additional research, we were
fascinated to learn that in nature this
species lives in symbiosis with a type of
shrimp. Do you know what shrimp it is
and whether it’s possible to keep them
together in an aquarium?
Send your questions about the
saltwater side of the aquarium
hobby to “Q&A,” T.F.H. Publications,
P.O. Box 427, Neptune, NJ 07754,
or submit via email to editor@tfh.
com. For answers to more time-sensitive questions, opinions on your
setup, or just to converse with like-minded members of the aquarium
community, please visit the TFH
Forum at forums.tfhmagazine.com.