goliath groupers Epinephelus itajara, which were once very common in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These fish are immense, up to 8 feet long; some weigh in at over 800 pounds and have been known to stalk divers as prey. While very few of the groupers offered in the marine aquarium trade attain this size, they all get big and have tremendous appetites. Groupers are often picked up by aquarists for two reasons: unique coloration and undeniable charm. These fish are underwater puppy dogs. They are intelligent and can easily be trained to accept food from the aquarist’s hand. Once a tiny grouper begins to attain some size, which doesn’t take long, it will begin to devour smaller tankmates. The increased food intake can help the fish grow faster, which only adds to the problem. The panther grouper Cromileptes altivelis is commonly offered for sale. They are generally pretty small when you find them in aquarium shops, sometimes only a few inches in length, but these little fish grow fast and eventually reach a length of 28 inches—a massive fish with a dense body and incredible appetite. Not only will a fish this size occupy a lot of real estate in your aquarium, but their feeding requirements will make it very tough to stay on top of water quality. The bumblebee grouper E. lanceolatus, which is sometimes available for purchase in aquarium stores, attains a length of over 9 feet. These fish would even outgrow aquariums of 2500 gallons!
Massive is an understatement for the bumblebee grouper Epinephelus lanceolatus, which
grows to 9 feet in length and will even outgrow a 2500-gallon aquarium.
Xanthichthys ringens and other triggerfishes are quick to entice with their alluring looks,
but a fierce attitude hides behind their pleasant exteriors.
There isn’t an aquarist alive who can
deny the amazing appeal of triggerfish.
They are colorful, graceful, and intelligent.
The common species are offered for sale at
what appears to be a manageable size. Like
the groupers, these fish attain huge sizes
with some measuring well over one foot.
Triggerfish are also known to be extremely
aggressive, with some species such as the
queen triggerfish Balistes vetula known to
attack even inanimate objects like heaters
and airline tubing.
Feeding a massive reef animal like a
triggerfish can be a tough endeavor. Since
some of these fish require a meaty diet
such as small silversides, water quality is
one of the first things within the aquarium
to suffer. The clown triggerfish Balistoides
conspicillum is immensely popular due to
its wild coloration, though it gets large
and develops quite an attitude. A 20-inch
clown triggerfish is nothing to scoff at,
and while an aquarium of 100 or more
gallons may seem large, it is not even close
to the space requirements of many triggers
offered for sale.
Large Marine Angelfish
Large angelfish are often sold when they
are still juveniles and haven’t even reached
their adult coloration, let alone adult size.
A 2-, 3-, or 4-inch angelfish is cute and
often very charming, but they eventually
get huge, often growing well past a foot in
size, and reach a respectable girth.
While it is impossible to deny their
beauty, it is also impossible to deny their
size. Also, large marine angelfish have
unique nutritional requirements. Live
sponges are often needed to keep these
animals in optimum health, not to mention
their need for a constant source of high-
quality marine algae.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com