Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Moorish Idols, Family Zanclidae: Compatibility

Related Articles: Moorish Idols

Related FAQs:  Moorish Idols 1, Moorish Idols 2, & FAQs on: Moorish Idol Identification, Moorish Idol Behavior, Moorish Idol Selection, Moorish Idol Systems, Moorish Idol Feeding, Moorish Idol Health, Moorish Idol Reproduction,

Moorish Idol; porc. puffer incomp.     7/5/18
I purchased 2 Moorish Idols after determining they seemed viable based on appearance and eating habits. After acclimation into the main tank, they were doing amazing.
<What are you feeding them, for how long have you keep them?>
After a short time, I witnessed my porcupine puffer bite directly onto the face/beak of one. By the time I ripped the lid off and grabbed something to interrupt, the puffer had caused a serious amount of physical damage to the Idol. His lips and such are missing. I separated the puffer last night as well as the injured Idol. I fully expected it to be dead this morning. To my surprise, it wasn't. Will the tissue regenerate?
<It will, in time>
Is it likely the porcupine puffer will strike again (attack the other healthy one) if released?
<Besides the fact that the Puffer is an aggressive fish and will “attack” again as soon as it is put back in the tank, I give you very few odds with your Idols as these are a very delicate species and in the best of the cases, will only live for a few months in captivity, even in the best of conditions. I am sorry to disappoint you but if you see these beauties for sale it’s because people buy them, not because they thrive.>
Thank you so much.
<You´re very welcome, Wilberth.>

Moorish Idol and coral      8/10/13
Hey Wet Web Media crew.
I first want to thank you for all of your help and for having a wonderful site.
My question today is about a Moorish Idol in the local fish store that I work at. I have always loved these fish, but have never tried to keep one because of how delicate they are. 
I have some personal experience with keeping the fish in the shop, but I have found that about 80% die of starvation and the others get sold. Now there is a single Moorish Idol that is eating all kinds of prepared foods with a voracious appetite. I have never seen a Moorish Idol eat like this one.
<The occasional individual does; most all do in the wild; freshly caught>
I am considering getting this fish and putting it in my 120 gallon reef tank but I am worried about it eating the coral. I know only one person who kept a Moorish Idol long term, 11 years, and it was in a swim tank. Will the fish peck at corals, and what kind of corals does it like to target?
<Can pick; usually the more fleshy (LPS) types of Scleractinians>
I have a mixed reef with clams, sps, lps, softies, and gorgonians. Is there any food you would recommend for long term success, or any other tips for keeping this fish for the long haul?
<The LPS and Clams may suffer. Please read here:
The linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Moorish idol compatibility    9/30/11
I have had a Moorish idol for 4 years, and am upgrading to a new 180 gal FOWLR.
As a resident fish he will need to go into my new tank first as I want to use my current tank as a large quarantine system.
My question is this, he is a dominant fish,
<Commonly so>
will he harass new tankmates, particularly tangs / surgeons when they are introduced?
Most data on the web seems to be about keeping them alive, not their typical aggression level
(I am wondering if they have a surgeon like disposition to newcomers!
<Indeed the monotypic Zanclid/Zanclus does... this species is classed in the same suborder, Acanthuroidei... along w/ Siganids/Rabbitfishes, Scatophagids, Platacids...>
He was the last addition to my old set up). He will likely not compete too much for Nori clips as he has never shown a great love for it, he seems to be more carnivorous, and substrate algae focused,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol And Orange Frogspawn/Moorish Idol Compatibility 3/24/2011
<Hi Ewan>
Do you know if a Moorish Idol will eat/attack an Orange Hammer Frogswan <Frogspawn> coral?
Apologies for the email, but the Google link was not working on my iPad.
The Moorish Idol, commonly known in Hawaii as "Kihikihi", is one of the "with caution" fish for reef
aquariums. They mainly feed on benthic invertebrates, principally sponges and algae. Do read FAQs here
on compatibility.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Moorish Idol and orange frogspawn   3/25/11

Thanks for the reply, but I don't need to worry about it. Both Moorish idols were dead . So strange, they didn't have any sign of something wrong, and especially both at the same time. Water chemistry is good. I don't know, but I will leave them in the ocean
<Good. These losses are not uncommon. Read here:
Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol In Reef tank?/Moorish Idol/Compatibility 2/11/11
Hi there
<Hello Marci>
You probably get sick of hearing this but I love your site, it is so informative.
<Never get sick of it.>
Two days ago, I inherited a medium/large Moorish Idol. It was healthy and eating.
<Lucky you!>
I put it in my 200 gallon fish tank with 2 large angels, 2 large tangs, and a few other smaller random fish. One of the large angels is really beating it up it. He has him pinned in a corner, and if the Moorish Idol tries to go elsewhere in the tank, he chases him. I have two choices.
I can leave him in the fish tank and hope things will settle down or transfer him to my 180 gallon reef tank. I several small fish in there (cardinals, a couple of Anthias, a Mystery Wrasse, 3 tangs, all smaller than the Moorish Idol) The tank is full of Zoanthids, and hard and soft corals. In your opinion, should I put him in the reef tank, knowing that he will possibly nip at corals or take my chance that since he already is eating pellets, he won't destroy the tank?
<If things haven't calmed down by now, I'd definitely move into the reef.
There would be a medium risk, it may or may not bother the corals. In the wild their primary diet is sponges, algae, and benthic invertebrates.
If it were me, I'd risk losing a few polyps rather than lose a beautiful Moorish Idol that's eating prepared foods.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Moorish Idol In Reef tank?/Moorish Idol/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/16/11
<Hello Marci>
Just wanted you to know that the Moorish idol is very happy in the reef tank, eating like a champ and not picking on the corals.
<That's the best news I've heard all day. May I ask what you are feeding the Moorish Idol?>
Thanks for your great advice.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Moorish Idol In Reef tank?/Moorish Idol/Compatibility/Feeding 2/11/11- 2/16/11
This is a picture of him eating Nori, he also eats Spectrum pellets and Mysis shrimp.
Thank you Marci. Information like this may help others in keeping a Moorish Idol.
A beautiful, if not the most beautiful marine fish. Do take good care of him.
James (Salty Dog)>

Zanclus and Tridacna   12/17/09
Hi Bob
I have a question for you. I want to know if Moorish Idols would bother a 10inch Squamosa clam? I'm asking be fore leaping, Jimbo
<Hey Jimbo... It's possible... They do eat/sample most all sessile invertebrates in the wild. If it were me/mine, I wouldn't place these together. BobF>

Keeping Moorish Idols hello Mr. Fenner, <<JasonC here, Mr. Fenner is away diving>> Is Moorish idol a coral eater? I have Acropora, brain and bubble coral and gobies in my tank. will they pick on them? thanks.  <<From what I read, and I've never dared keep one, these fellows are strict vegetarians or at the very least sponges, tunicates, and macro algae - there is some limited reading on the site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm You may also want to post some questions on the WWM discussion forum to get some more opinions on this: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/  Cheers, J -- >>

Moorish Idols- Dominance Ignorance is probably bliss...After a year of looking I found a healthy eating MI at my LPS and added him to my reef tank (125 gal).  Last week I stumbled over two more healthy heating MI's and jumped at the chance to acquire them.  They are all three feeding but, when the lights are on the original MI dominates and pesters one of the new MI's to the point where it stays almost on the surface between two powerheads and on the brightest part of the tank (one side is lit by a 400 watt MH, the other by several MC's). Sooner or later I would expect the one being pestered to succumb to the stress and contract something. <You are likely correct here. There can be tremendous interspecific aggression in this species> If I could remove the original MI for a period could this help?  If so for how long? <Worth trying, but I do not give this a good chance of "success". I would remove the original fish permanently. A 125 gallon system is too small for three specimens. Bob Fenner> Thank you Roger  

Moorish Idol - Leave them be!  9/10/05 Hi Bob, I have a 150 gal reef tank with Acroporas, Montiporas and several clams. My fish include: 7 Anthias, 1 hippo tang,1 yellow tang,1 Sailfin tang , 1 tomato clown and a bubble anemone. I am fascinated with a very beautiful Moorish Idol, eating like crazy at my local pet store . Will it be ok with all these corals and fish. My real concern is about the clams .I will appreciate your opinion. Thank you. Ramy, Canada. >>>Greetings, I would steer clear of this fish. While it may be "eating like crazy", whether it's eating enough of the right things is most likely a different story. A VAST majority of Moorish Idols do not survive more than a few days or weeks in captivity. Of the ones that do, and snare a hopeful buyer like yourself, another 95% percent of those are dead within a month or two. It will in all Likelihood not bother your clams, but in all Likelihood it will not be alive in your tank in 6 months either. This is one of those fish that should NOT be collected for the trade to begin with, and is best left in the ocean. Cheers Jim<<<

Moorish Idol/Blonde Naso (And Both in A 90g Tank 'Not Good!), sys.  -- 02/09/08 Hello there, <<Hello, Tom>> I have a few questions about my fish. <<Okay>> About two days ago I bought a Moorish Idol. <<Mmm, one of my all-time favorites 'I hope you have done your homework on this fish. Please do read through our FAQs on this fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm>> I never really thought about getting one because I heard they don't do well in aquariums, <<Most do not>> but this was an exception. <<Let's hope'¦>> One of the guys at the store I go to pointed him out. He said that the fish was doing great (one of the best Moorish Idols they have seen) and he was eating well (just about anything you put in the tank), so I decided to purchase this beautiful fish (only about 3 inches). <<Getting these fish to 'eat' is not difficult in my experience...the problem comes from providing the proper dietary requirements. I have often heard where these fish fed well, yet still died 'mysteriously.' On an up-note, there seems to be anecdotal proof that Zanclidae that will accept/feed upon New Life Spectrum pellets exhibit better health/longevity 'providing they have been given proper environmental conditions (e.g. -- not crammed in a too-small tank)>> I put him in my 90 gal tank, <<The Idol needs more volume than this, and preferably at least a 6ft tank>> But I separated him from the other fish in the tank by a piece of plastic (with a lot of water flow) because I was worried my yellow tang would attack it (like it has for every fish I have put in. I figured if he saw the fish in the tank but couldn't attack it he would get used to it being there. <<This is called 'habituation''¦works sometimes 'sometimes not>> He is now eating very well and looks great. Is the success rate high for this fish now that he is eating well? <<It is not'¦ Getting these fish to eat is not atypical 'getting them to thrive/survive the long-term, is. If you don't have it now, I very much suggest you obtain the Spectrum pelleted food (small [1mm] pellets)>> Now that I put the divider in the tank, I think it might have affected my blonde Naso (about 4 to 5 inches). <<[sigh]'¦ This tank is too small for the Moorish Idol'¦ It is also too small for the Naso Tang'¦ Placing 'both' in this too-small system has compounded the issue exponentially>> When I first put the divider my Naso ate out of my hand (like he usually does) and ate whatever I put in. Now a day later he doesn't swim as much and he just swims by the food when I put it in the tank. <<The fish is reacting to all the recent commotion and the now more restricting confines of this already too small environment>> Could this be a result of decreasing his swimming room? <<Indeed'¦ And will only continue/worsen as health and behavioral issues, from 'growing up' in this too-small tank 'divider or not'¦ (Have I said 'too-small tank' enough yet?)>> I turned off the lights and took the divider out, and left the lights off for the night. Will this strange behavior eventually go away now that the tank is back to normal? <<Is hardly 'back to normal' with the addition of this new large (potentially), aggressive, and far ranging/active fish. But yes, the Naso will likely settle back in 'for a time>> What can I do to assure my fish are always happy? <<Well Tom, if I haven't made it evident by now [grin], you need a 'bigger' tank 'at least twice the size of what you have now, for keeping both these fishes>> Hope this wasn't too long. <<Not at all>> Thanks for your time. Sincerely, Tom <<Happy to help, Tom. Keeping Zanclus cornutus 'is' a possibility (though let me be clear 'I don't advocate these fish for the vast majority of hobbyists), but the odds are greatly stacked against you/this fish (and the Naso!) in this 90g tank. For any kind of hope for long-term success, I urge you to upsize these fishes environment. Eric Russell>> <I do hope Eric won't mind my chiming in with a bit re Zanclus in captivity here... Have read in recent months diametrically opposed articles in two popular U.S. aquarium pulp press 'zines re this species... One alleging it was "still impossible", the other a little more optimistic, as Eric and I are here... Do read re our postings re on WWM. RMF>

Idol Reef Compatibility  12/22/08 Crew, I have a friend who's Moorish Idol has been doing well for upwards of 2 years in her 180 gal fowler tank. Her Emperor Angel has attained full adult markings now and is becoming increasingly aggressive, particularly toward the Idol. She asked me if I wanted to take it to a more peaceful home. There is so little info on Idols compatibility on line. My 180 is a mixed reef with a variety of hard and soft corals, clams, and other inverts (Christmas worms, snails, shrimp, hermits, Aiptasia...). I don't know if it would be safe to put him into a mixed reef like mine. Do they eat any corals? If so, which kinds would be least safe? Thanks, Joe <Hello, I would stay away from adding a Moorish idol to your reef aquarium. They will pick at corals and wreak havoc due to their size and somewhat destructive nature. These are best kept in extremely large reefs or at best in the ocean. If you like the look of the Moorish idol and want a more reef safe fish, then Heniochus diphreutes will do. Happy Holidays IanB>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: