Top of the Food Chain
The Basics of Keeping
Marine Predators, Part II
Last month’s installment touched on some older techniques for maintaining marine fishes, specifically predatory marine
fishes. As in most cases, the techniques
required for keeping predatory fishes
are really very similar or, in many cases,
identical to keeping non-predatory fishes.
Then again, aren’t all fishes predatory to
some extent? I mean, try and tell a mysid
shrimp that a fairy basslet isn’t a predator!
But getting back to serious predators,
this month I pick up where I left off,
adding my feelings and experiences so that
hopefully you can find something that will
help you and your fish benefit from what
fish guy through and through. Interestingly
enough, all of these folks brought up what
they felt to be one of the most important
aspects of marine fishkeeping—lighting.
Brian M. Scottgraduatedfrom The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and a minor in Marine Biology. Whileincollege, his primary focus was in ichthyology, and he has conducted species urveys on coral reefs in Florida as well asthesaltmarshes ofsouthern New Jersey. He has authored or co-authoredfivebooksonaquarium fishes and has published more than 90 articles on all aspects of the aquarium hobby in various popular magazines. Today, Brian keeps mostly large predatory fishes, including many species of cichlids, primarilyfocusingon Cyphotilapia of Lake Tanganyika.
More Basic Topics
Aside from maintaining excellent water
quality through regular partial water changes
and a good feeding strategy incorporating a
well-balanced and nutritious diet, there are
many other areas of basic marine husbandry
that I feel are important. However, I do not
wish to drag this out into a 10-part series, so
I must really cut through the fat and narrow
them down to what I strongly feel are the
primary concerns of most fishkeepers.
Recently I decided to sell off a few of my
aquarium setups. In almost all cases, the
people interested were marine hobbyists.
I had several lengthy and excellent
conversations with them regarding what
it takes to maintain a healthy marine
aquarium. Ironically, despite the ever-increasing interest in reefkeeping, my
potential customers were most interested
in marine fishkeeping. This was a pleasant
surprise for me because (as those of you
who know me well already know) I don’t
keep live rocks and sessile inverts—I am a
A lengthy diatribe on lighting for a basic
marine fish-only aquarium can be reduced
to a simple-yet-concise sentence: Lighting is
not important to the vast majority of marine
fishes likely kept by marine hobbyists.
Now, there is no doubt that some of you
are wondering why such a statement can
be made. But if you have ever snorkeled
or been scuba diving, you may have dived
down to some rocky ledges and, upon
peering under them, may have noticed a
school of fishes huddled closely together
taking shelter under the outcropping. These
are referred to as structure-oriented species.
Good examples of such species are grunts,
groupers, drums, squirrel fishes, soldiers,
some snappers, and pufferfishes.
Certainly not every single species
is structure-oriented, and many types
of surgeonfishes, butterflyfishes, and
angelfishes spend a considerable amount of
time cruising around the surfaces of reefs and
such. But remember, we are concentrating
primarily on predatory marine species. I
suppose the argument could be made that
the mighty barracuda is a marine predator
that spends the majority of its time in open
water, but then again, don’t forget that we
are talking about species that are commonly
kept by hobbyists in home aquariums.
Yes, the reef is a sunny place, and
photosynthetic organisms need extremely
high quality and high intensity lighting.
But what type of lighting is suitable for
marine aquariums where the primary focus
is on fishes? Simple. A basic twin-tube
fluorescent fixture, outfitted with two bulbs