scuba equipment or at a large public aquarium. Nursesharksgrowto14feetandpossess incredible strength. A nurse shark once had to be moved when I was working as a staff diver at a public aquarium. It took four grown men, two on each side of the fish, to move the massive animal. Even with all four of us it was a tremendous task, and the only thing that brought success was the fact that the animal had been sedated by a marine biology professional. Banded cat sharks Chiloscyllium punctatum, Port Jackson sharks Heterodontus portusjacksoni, and many others are sold at tiny sizes. Banded cat shark eggs are even sold. Any shark gets large, has unique feeding requirements, and in the end is simply better off left at home in the ocean. There are several seasoned, expert aquarists that have huge, dedicated shark tanks of 500 gallons or more. Unless you have a system of this immense size and are familiar with their unique biology and ecological importance, keeping sharks is simply not for you.
The large size and tremendous strength of nurse sharks Ginglymostoma cirratum make
them completely impractical for any home aquarium.
In addition to ample swimming room, the yellow tang Zebrasoma flavescens requires
plenty of macroalgae and superb water conditions.
The truth is that surgeonfish grow large
and need a constant daily source of algae
and open swimming space. The yellow tang
Zebrasoma flavescens is very popular. This
fish is often sold at an inexpensive price
and winds up in aquariums much smaller
than it requires. In reality, yellow tangs are
open-water swimmers that need a lot of
room and turbulent water. It is important
to understand whether or not your system
can handle a surgeonfish.
As we look at other popular surgeonfish,
the situation sadly goes from bad to worse.
Sohal tangs Acanthurus sohal, Achilles
tangs A. achilles, powder blue tangs A.
leucosternon, and even the Caribbean’s
Atlantic blue tang A. coeruleus all
grow large and are highly susceptible
to external parasites. What makes the
tang challenge even greater is that they
require better-than-average water quality
and produce a lot of waste. If your system
is too small, not only will the stress of
living in a cramped space derail your
tang’s health, so will ever-diminishing
My rule is that if your aquarium is less
than 100 gallons and has anything less
than reef-quality water, keeping a tang of
any species is simply not for you.
While I have covered a lot of marine
species that get large, it is just the tip of the
iceberg. Lookdowns, soap fish, snappers,
grunts, goat fish, and soldier fish are just
a few others that are small in the store but
get huge in our aquariums.
While our hobby’s impact to coral reefs is
insignificant when compared to commercial
fishing and the effects of development and
ocean warming, we certainly don’t want
the fish that wind up in the trade to
die prematurely. Why should a fish suffer
and die simply because the aquarist who
purchased them was unaware of their adult
size or captive requirements?
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com