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Fish NOT for the Beginner


I've compiled a list that of fish that should not be kept by beginners and the reasons why, so here goes:

Cleaner Wrasses-Based on stomach contents, cleaner wrasses eat larger parasites such as copepods and isopods. There's no evidence that they eat cryptocaryon, though. If anything, this is yet another good reason not to have them. They don't eat ich, so don't buy them expecting to control it. They also play a huge part in the oceans ecosystem. Thanks mogurnda!

Moorish Idols- Very poor success rate and is best left to the experienced people or in the Ocean. If you want a look a like go for the poor Man's Moorish (Bannerfish)

Parrotfish- Eat foods not available to hobbyists (available but they will only eat acropora corals which adds up very quickly) plus very active swimmers and need huge tanks (7ft long plus)

Sharks and Remoras- Remoras occur on Sharks in the wild and Sharks need huge tanks of 200g plus so definitely not for the beginner.

Orange Spot Filefish-only eat corals and even once feeding most die.

Panther Grouper- look adorable as babies but soon grow to a 2 foot unattractive monster. (their heads stop growing and their bodie keep growing)

Sweetlips and Batfish- grow to 2 feet and the juvies are very difficult to keep alive.

Boston Beans-Long Horn Cowfish- grow from that cute tiny fish to well over 2 feet. They are also known for exuding a toxin that can wipe out tanks if they are stressed or dying. Best left with those with big tanks.

My favorite: The Ribbon Eels- although gorgeous I have rescued 3 from near starvation and death. They are NOT easy by any stretch of the mind so PLEASE do not try these.

Seahorses and Pipefish- Very very difficult to keep, need perfect water quality, feedings at least 3 times a day and practically no tankmates.

Mandarin Dragonettes (Mandarin Gobies)- very hard to sustain for long by those not experts. Need lots and lots of copepods and the like. Plus need an established tank of a year or more.

Powder Blue Tangs, Achilles Tangs, Clown Tangs- very hard to take care of. Huge ich magnets and some just never adjust. All are extremely aggressive if they do survive and need minimum of 125g.

And finally the Large Triggers: Queens, Blue lines, Titans, Starrys and the small but nasty Undulate- These guys grow to huge sizes (except for the Undulate) and have extremely nasty temperments to go with. They all need a minimum of 200 gallons and 99 percent of the time need to be kept by themselves. Same with the undulates.

Feel free to add more but this is a general list and does not include all. Research should always be done before buying a fish. (Orion-sticky please :) )
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Here are some more. I was too tired after that post earlier to add these so here are some more:

Purple Queen Anthias- Rarely will accept to eat in captivity and when they do they generally waste away within a month or two. Best left in the ocean.

Green and Giant Morays- Grow to an astounding 6 feet (larger for the giant) and have a VERY nasty temperment to go with. Best left in the ocean.

Napolean Wrasses- also grow to an astounding 6 feet long and best left in the ocean.

Bumble bee Grouper- also grow to an astounding 6 feet long and best left in the ocean.

Live Bearing Brotulas (often seen as Yellow Eel Gobies) extremely shy and hard to get feeding. Best left to experts and the ocean.

Twin Spot Gobies- have to be kept in pairs and rarely sift enough food in captivity to survive so best left in the ocean.

Pilotfish- grow to 3 feet and need to be kept in schools. Very active fish and best kept in the ocean.

Emperor Snapper- grows to 3 feet but is very hardy. If one can accomodate for their size they are great fish.

Stingray (Blue Ribbon-Blue Spot)- very hard to feed in captivity. Generally wastes away if it gets food. Best left in the ocean

Rock Beauty Angel- Feeds on lots of sponge and fish slime when adults. Best left in the ocean and not in captivity.


AC Members
My $.02

Scooter "blennies" -- basically same problems as Mandarin's, complicated by a very very low retail price.

Rock Beauty Angels - poor survival rate in captivity, needs high volumes of sponge in diet to survive.

(Not a fish, but...) Flame Scallops -- usually starve, seldom live more than a few months in captivity ( need live zooplankton in the rotifer size range). Also, only live 3 years in the wild, and are usually about 2 years old at the size they are collected\imported.


Yes, but what is the chance of seeing a sunfish in a fish store? Few to none of a probability. Most of the fish above one would readily see in a fish store and is enthralled by their beautiful colors. Sunfish don't exactly fit in that catergory!


AC Members
That's a great list MonoSebaelover! :) The only additions I can think of off the top of my head are...

Strawberry Grouper - Simply for the fact that they get too big for most tanks.

ANY filter feeders - I've seen way too many people skunk a tank trying to feed sponges etc etc.... Even if you can follow directions on the bottle, make sure that you have EVERYTHING filterfeeders need to thrive. IE: Proper water conditions, lighting etc...

Invertebrates - Definitely not something you want to throw in your tank first. Not as difficult to care for, but God forbid should one die while you're off on a weekend long trip.

I know these are pretty basic, but I thought I would list them anyway. :)


Registered User of Fish
That brings up the age old problem of what is a successful fish to keep. Most fish have a life span of at least 4-5 years, though most far surpass that in the wild. When asked how a hard to keep fish is doing many people will reply that they have had lots of success keeping certain fish, that they oftyen make it past the 1 year mark. It is just the same as the old gold fish in a bowl. Wow my goldfish lived to be 3 years old, I think I will keep another one in a bowl.

I would add, though not a fish, anemones. They are a super long lived creature that most people cannot make it past the 6 month mark with, aren't needed for clown fish (often won't get hosted anyway) and are often introduced into small aqauria that have no chance of supporting them long term. Right now we don't know enough about most of the species of anemones and frankly there just aren't enough wild ones out there for beginners to be experimenting with them.


Former Squid
MonoSebaelover, I know you put this in your very first post, but I just wanted to touch on the subject just a little more after very extensive research that I've done.


There are 2 sharks that can live, and be somewhat comfortable in a 150gal. tank. They are the Banded Cat Shark and Marbled Cat Shark. They grow to an average of 40"Very cute, and active as babies, but here are 2 things that the fish store doesnt tell you.

In captivity, 50% to 75% of them die within the first month by starving themselves to death. It's not the owners fault, it's just that naturally, they dont know to start eating. And IF they do eventually eat, it's already too late for them to survive. This happens frequently in the wild as well. They are just incredibly hard to get to eat. Frequently, even force feeding doesnt work (trust me, I've tried). I had my newly hatched Banded Cat Shark for 4 weeks before he died from starvation. My fish store actually told me that it would be hard to get him eating, but I thought..."ahhh, it cant be that hard. He'll eat when he gets hungry.".

The second thing is light. Most fish keepers have decent lighting (florescent) to superb lighting (metal halides, etc.). Sharks require VERY low light. Even florescent is too much for them, that's why they're mainly active at night. What's the fun in keeping a large fish tank that has to have extraordinarily low light?

Other than those 2 species, there are NO other sharks that you can keep in anything less that a 1000gal. to 10,000gal. tank. Alot of people get Horn Sharks...these grow to 6 feet. Blacktip Reef Sharks and Whitetip Reef Sharks, although absolutely gorgeous, can grow to 7+ feet.


Former Squid
The Large Angels, I'm not too familiar with except for the fact that they SHOULD NOT be kept be beginners. They are not a hardy fish and are susceptable to disease. The Imperator reaches a few feet in length and I've never seen a juvenile (5" - 6") for less than $400. There are Dwarf Angels that are somewhat ok, but not easier by any means.
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No freelancing!
I do have a problem recommending lions to beginners. One basic reason--feeding. While lions will happily adapt to prepared foods, beginners often succumb to the desire to give live food, typically goldies. Since goldies are not nutritious and contribute to vitamin B deficiencies, lions fed primarily on goldfish die very quickly. Not good. If a beginner is willing to make the effort to either locate a good SW food source or train the lion on prepared foods, they are a failry hardy fish. Every lion death I've heard of has been related to either virus issues or malnutrition.