Tank Setup and Captive Care
As with most captive systems, the larger
the tank you have, the better, for stability
and flexibility. Pinguipedids can be kept
in tanks as small as 3 feet ( 92 cm) long
but do far better in bigger environments.
Though they spend the majority of their
time on the bottom, any type and depth of
substrate will work for sandperches. More
important is that the gravel be suitable for
your functional and aesthetic purposes.
Useful décor is important to these fishes,
so do provide a few choice items for yours
to perch upon or scoot under when they
feel the need. It is quite enjoyable to watch
the fixed-pattern antics of a sandperch
moving about its physical environment.
As far as escaping an aquarium,
sandperches are at the top of their class,
capable of launching themselves out of
any suitable gap in the tank cover—during
feeding, while you’re cleaning the system,
or at night. Ensure that you have complete
The sandperches are bold feeders in the
Interesting, Beautiful, and
wild, often following divers around and
nabbing photo-stunned small fishes and
invertebrates as these prey organisms are
temporarily blinded by a camera flash, or
just distracted by the human activity. In
captivity, they consume all kinds of foods:
flakes, pellets, live, frozen, and prepared
homemade mashes. Ideally, you’ll have live
rock, and perhaps a large tied-in refugium
that will provide ready food organisms
on a continual basis, but otherwise,
offering food twice a day is recommended.
Regularly offering food goes a long way in
discouraging tankmate “sampling.”
As tropical reef fishes go, sandperches
are typically hardy and resistant to parasitic
and infectious disease. Nonetheless,
they should be quarantined and given
prophylactic pH-adjusted freshwater baths
ahead of introduction to the main display.
Should they need to be treated for the usual
protozoan maladies, they are not overly
sensitive to copper medications.
Over decades in both the aquarium trade
and dive-travel adventure content business,
I have encountered several groups of
organisms that have been underutilized or
totally neglected in the ornamental aquatics
industry. The sandperches are definitely one
such group. They’ve evidently just never
“made the list” of proffered livestock from the
wild, and hobbyists, not knowing about them,
don’t ask for them.
Call them (as many do) grubfishes,
weeverfishes, or weevers, the sandperches
deserve more play in the aquarium trade.
They’re hardy, behaviorally interesting, and
beautifully marked—and they even eat
P. punctulata, the spotted sandperch, photographed in Mauritius.
The U-mark sandperch (P. snyderi ), photographed off North Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Schauinsland’s seaperch (P. schauinslandii ) can reach 8 inches ( 20 cm) in length.
This is an adult photographed off Maui.