Humbug Damsel: Prepping for the Hunt

There’s a reason I chose to spotlight Dascyllus aruanus, the humbug or three-striped damselfish, in this profile. “Caribbean” Chris and I will soon be matching wits with four representatives of this species that have laid claim to a large marine…

Orchid Dottyback: Hardy, Peaceful, and Just Right for Reef Tanks

Captive breeding of marine fishes has been a boon to our hobby in any number of ways, one of which is democratizing access to formerly really pricy species such as the orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani). While I wouldn’t characterize the…

The Sturdy but Shy Marine Betta

With its dark-brown body covered with a myriad of tiny white to pale-blue dots, the marine betta, a.k.a comet (Calloplesiops altivelis) is truly a dazzling sight to behold. Start out with a healthy specimen, and you’ll find it’s also a…

Harlequin Shrimps: Seeing Stars (On the Menu)

Somewhat comical and cartoonish in both name and appearance, harlequin shrimps (Hymenocera picta) are not invertebrates to be purchased on a whim. Keeping these critters, as I’ll soon explain, demands an investment of cash and effort that not every marine…

5 Types of Marine Fish that are Reef Safe with Caveats

When we say a marine fish is “reef safe,” we usually mean that it won’t eat the corals or other sessile invertebrates that we keep in reef systems. Using that definition, we can easily determine that, for example, the peaceful,…

Dig Those Crazy Pajama Cardinalfish!

A hardy, peaceful, wildly patterned species, the pajama cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera) makes a great choice for novice and experienced marine aquarists alike. Owing to its very manageable adult size, it’s a great candidate for modest-sized systems, and like many of…

The Kole Tang: A Commendable Surgeonfish for Medium-Sized Aquariums

Among the so-called bristletooths of the genus Ctenochaetus is one of my favorite tang species and one that I highly recommend to other hobbyists with well-established, medium-sized to moderately large systems—the Kole tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus). Physical traits C. strigosus, which…

Ribbon Eels: Elegantly Exotic but Usually Best Left on the Reef

Why are the most attractive and interesting-looking marine fish always the most difficult to keep alive in aquariums? Okay, maybe this isn’t actually such a truism. After all, there are lots of gorgeous-yet-easy-to-keep fish in the aquarium trade. It just…

Chalk Bass: A Caribbean Jewel Custom Made for Marine Aquariums

Anyone who has visited Saltwater Smarts on a regular basis knows that Chris has a bizarre fixation on Caribbean species. No livestock—fish or invertebrate—originating outside the Caribbean/tropical Western Atlantic is allowed in his tank. If he could, he’d probably go…

Brownbarred Goby: Sand-Sifting Species Well Suited to Aquariums

Marine aquarists looking for a sand-sifting fish to keep the top layer of their sand bed stirred often run into a dilemma. Many of the species renowned for this behavior, such as the ever-popular and commonly offered yellowheaded sleeper goby…