Spotted drums are such enchanting fish and we all know impulse buyings are just wrong. Wrong. Very wrong. But, I have to confess: I am also guilty.
This article is about my experiences with a weird fish that I could not resist. Do not get me wrong: I strongly advocate against impulse buyings for the aquarium, but when Jake Adams saw this fish in my tank, he insisted I should write something about it.
When I saw a tiny 1.5 inch long spotted drum, Equetus punctatus for sale I could not resist taking it home… I knew they were reef safe with corals, but I also knew there was ‘something’ with it. The list of potential problems that came up in my mind were:
- They are supposed to be sensitive to diseases
- Aren’t they hard to get eating?
- They eat tiny fish or shrimps
- They grow too large
- There was something I was supposed to read somewhere but still have forgotten
Actually, the first three points were no big deal to me. I have successfully gotten harder fish (such as orange spot filefish, Oxymonacanthus sp.) to eat. Apart from one stupid accident, I have never had serious issues with fish getting ill either. I don’t keep tiny fish or shrimps in my tank, so the first three problems were manageable, in my opinion. Or in my dreams?
The growing large-thing is the main problem, I thought. Although the maximum sizes of most fish are the sizes of the largest species ever found -and most fish will never reach that size, even in nature- the maximum size is definitely important when considering if a new fish is a suitable addition.
When I talked about the spotted drum with Arie de Jong of De Jong Marinelife he told me that this was no good idea, as it would become ‘a serious fish’. He also insisted that this Equetus punctatus would grow way faster than most other fish with the same maximum size, such as angel- or surgeonfish.
Luckily, I have some reefer friends that own very large tanks so I do have space to relocate the fish, if that would become necessary. And no, you should not buy animals that will outgrow your tanks but this article is about an impulse buy, remember?
The last point that I still can not remember, seems to be not too important, as I have not experienced anything negative worth mentioning.
When I got home with the juvenile spotted drum, I decided to keep it separate for a few days in the container I have written about before. Lobster eggs were accepted the next day and they were eaten with gusto. I can not enough stress the importance of lobster eggs for getting fish to eat.
High quality frozen foods, such as Mysid shrimps were soon added to the list and after a few weeks the fish even ate flake and pellet foods. The fish moves in a very interesting way and since the first day I released in the tank it was not bothered by any other fish at all. Also, it didn’t bother any of the other animals (both fish and corals) I keep in my tank.
Arie de Jong was right on the point that this spotted drum grows faster than most of us are used to. Keeping this fish will have you feeding more in order to not only keep this fish satisfied, but also to avoid the other fish from getting hungry. After a few weeks the spotted drum learned to gobble up food in an impressive speed and quantity.
Based on my experiences with this fish in the last 16 months, I have come to the conclusion that this fish is underestimated. Of course, the points above have to be kept in mind, but for a large tank where there is success with other fish and no desirable small shrimps or fish are to be kept, this fish might be an interesting addition.
The spotted drum is not a fish for a tank with aggressive tank mates as it does seem to be timid and not capable of defending itself very well. When still young, this is even more important.
Once more: impulse buys are bad. Avoid them at all costs, especially when you know you can not sustain an animal long-term. This was my first real impulse buy in the more than 25 years I have been reef keeping. Luckily, this one was not too bad. Unfortunately, most are very bad.
Do you have any experiences with spotted drums or impulse purchases you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.