Reasonable fish numbers...

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Figuring this out is a several-headed problem.
First, understand how your fish store works. You see clowns by the dozen in one tank, colorful and pretty. You see tangs and angels in what looks like a 20 gallon tank. Whoa! Take a look at the whole system.
That whole row of tanks is really one tank. It's not one 20 gallon tank. It's more like 300 gallons, all one sump, and take a look at that skimmer and sump, with the mangroves and the algae...you're not dealing with a 20 gallon, for sure. This is a mega-tank with partitions.

Point two: some of these fish are adults. Some are babies. Can you tell which? Not by looking at them. But blennies, gobies, pygmy angels, basslets, dragonets and the smallest of the damsels are sold as adults. Tangs, triggers, angels, larger damsels (including the red clowns, dominoes, and sergeant majors and garibaldis) are sold as babies, with an upside growth measured, in some instances, in FEET. I've seen jacks and groupers offered for sale. Measured in FEET, no kidding, and this goes for some tangs. There's a large number of 10-inchers, like rabbits, smallest tangs, some triggers, some angels. So if you're not the Atlanta Aquarium, don't buy what you can't keep for life. A marine fish never stops growing. If you don't want to provide for Charlie the Tuna in your living room, read up on adult size, and figure how much energetic swimming a 10 inch fish can enjoy in the tank you can provide him. Because there will be a day of reckoning when you have to euthanize a perfectly healthy fish you've had for years---not because he couldn't live another ten years, but because there's no more room for him, no fish store will take him, you can't sell and ship him because of his size, and you're up against the wall.

Remember, too, that the tank in Finding Nemo was constructed as a nightmare tank full of entirely inappropriate species for its size and shape, run by a careless owner: but nobody got the 'joke.'

You can realistically plan only with adult fish. And if you really need a visual aid, cut out some 'football' shapes the length of the adult size of fish you propose to get, and tape it to the wall in the site where you propose to put your tank. It may be an eye-opener.
 

Reefnation.Jon

In Memoriam
In addition. These systems we see at the stores are not made for long term holding. Think of it as a subway. we couldnt live packed hip to hip on a subway for the rest of our lives. The fish store is a mode of transportation from the ocean to our living rooms where responsible fish owners have a nice "yard" for their fish to swim and play.
 
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Deinonych

New member
In addition. These systems we see at the stores are not made for long term holding. Think of it as a subway. we couldnt live packed hip to hip on a subway for the rest of our lives. The fist store is a mode of transportation from the ocean to our living rooms where responsible fish owners have a nice "yard" for their fish to swim and play.

Great analogy.
 

Reefnation.Jon

In Memoriam
Thanks guys. It's all to often you hear about people putting hippo tangs in a 55 or smaller. Most fish need at least 8 times their adult length in tank length and 4 times in width. Remember there is a difference between surviving and thriving.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
And in the case of the deceptive and tragically popular hippo, he needs 240 gallons and an 8 foot tank. Almost all the hippo tangs sold will die prematurely, because most buyers have no such room. I frankly think we ought to slow way down collecting them, but a certain movie, trying to create the world's worst tank, didn't convey the joke to the viewers---

To illustrate the problem, the Atlantic Blue Tang, which is far from the largest tang, swims 20 miles a day, staying healthy in the ocean. It's not the fish's physical size. It's the oxygen requirement, and the way they oxygenate in these long, fast runs. This is a fish built for speed. The kole tang, on the other hand, is a slow grazer, with a different way of life. We have a chart among the stickies that tries to warn about these different types, so you can judge: if you see a tang that's smaller than the others but that has a huge space requirement, that's one of the long-distance guys, so plan your rockwork and tank length to accommodate him.

Fish kept in too small tanks, besides the runners, may take to neurotic finflicking, backing up, looking confused, and ultimately starting to kill their tankmates, not in any plan, but because they're stressed and touchy.

And if you plan to have it a while and then trade it in---the lfs can only find homes for so many of these. How many 240 gallon tanks do you think there are in your city that belong to someone who wants an already-grown and possibly stress-damaged fish?
 

PatW

New member
Great advice,

People buying fish that they can not keep is a reason why we see things like Clown Trigger Fish off of West Palm Beach FL when we scuba dive. I suppose there is no market for a large fish in the local hobby trade. The owner can not keep it or does not want to keep it. So they do the sentimental thing and toss it into the ocean.

Here in FL, we have to deal with exotics escaped or released from the pet trade. Some are pretty harmless. Others like lion fish and Burmese pythons are menaces to the environment.

Never, ever release an exotic.
 

risin

New member
So, having said that, and seeing a guy on "Shark Tank" (investor show on TV) with a plan on harvest and sell lion fish for consumption... Is it ok, from a health perspective, to eat these fish instead of releasing them? I would assume our tanks are far dirtier and more susceptible to disease than ocean fish.

Personally I don't think I'd have it in me to fillet my Sailfin tang of 8 years. Obviously the best solution is to provide a suitable habitat or not buy the specimen at all.
 
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