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Most Cephalopholis are Indo-Pacific (12 species); some Red Sea, western and eastern Atlantic, Oceania (mid- tropical Pacific), and one from the eastern Pacific. Mostly hinds are found in shallows to a few hundred feet in areas with lots of hiding opportunities.
The Hinds are relatively small basses, with a maximum length between one and two feet.
Selection: General to Specific
Look for newer arrivals with good color and outgoing or at least "curious" personalities. You will soon be wondering, "who's watching whom?" with a healthy specimen in your tank.
These Basses are best purchased as sub-adults and moved as few times as possible. Adaptability reduces with growing size and captive moves. Move them as little as you can.
Though identified as bully-boys, Cephalopholis spend most of their time hiding, skulking, and looking cagily for food. I'd like to re-emphasize the point; don't move their decor around too much; like turtles, these animals appreciate a great deal of predictability in their physical habitat.
Like larger basses, the hinds are tolerant of a wide range of "water quality". Any stable tropical temperature, mid specific gravity (1.022-1.023) is fine. I would suggest artificially supplementing the buffering capacity of the system with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or commercial preparation for the same. Rationale? The introduction and processing of so much proteinaceous foods tends to drive down alkalinity.
Adequate and rigorous to handle large tanks and occasional large wastes. A high-flow outside power filter is a definite plus.
Habitat: Provide your bass with at least two distinct rock/coral cave hide areas and low lighting for optimized health and behavior; but take care to construct it in such a way to prevent collapse from undermining. The genus Cephalopholis are prodigious diggers, and will move a tank-full of gravel in a system on a good day.
The generalization for this genus is "one to a tank". They are intolerant of being housed with the same species or other similar ones of near size. Most species gather together in pairs or aggregations only for spawning, or group predation.
Cephalopholis basses are typically very shy when first placed in a new system. Don't be overly concerned or bummed that yours doesn't act very "bass-like" for a few days to weeks. Most hide immediately on introduction, and only come out over time, or as trained by their feeder.
These basses as species and individuals are not overtly "mean", but will swallow any tank-mate smaller than their mouth-opening. Reciprocally they are generally left alone by other fishes; with the exception of feisty trigger and moray-types.
Reproduction, Sexual Differentiation:
Hinds have proven to be synchronous hermaphrodites, males turning into females. They pair up or group spawn, releasing their gametes to the wiles of the upper water column. Pelagic young hatch out in a matter of a day or two.
Feeding/Foods/Nutrition: Types, Frequency, Amount, Wastes
Along with water quality, diet is primarily important in determining serranid health and color.
I find that authors, like Campbell in the late seventies, plug the use of live freshwater organisms as suitable food formats. I still don't. Live goldfish may be not be nutritionally unsound, but the behavioral consequences of your livestock dashing about, equating fish-like stimuli with hunting/eating satisfaction sounds like a bad idea. Besides, feeders are expensive and inconvenient. Alternatively, I encourage the use of whole or formulated, preserved-frozen foods. Even the finickiest eater can be trained to accept these with gusto.
On that same note, if your bass doesn't eat for a while, for no or any apparent reason, don't sweat it. They have been known to go "off-feed" for days, even weeks, with no long term negative consequences. Indeed, there is much to be said/written encouraging infrequent less-than-satiated feedings. This will keep your bass/hind active, create less demand on the filtration/aeration, and slow-down its growth.
Disease: Infectious, Parasitic, Nutritional, Genetic, Social
Hinds are relatively disease resistant and hardy; they respond well to copper, specific gravity manipulation, and other treatment regimens for infectious and parasitic diseases.
The bass members of the genus Cephalopholis have much to commend themselves for as aquarium specimens. Many are gorgeous marked and colored, they're hardy, undemanding in their requirements, and extremely easily fed. Just provide yours with adequate space and hiding places and you will have the closest thing to "man's best friend" in a wet pet there is.
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Burgess, Warren E., Herbert R. Axelrod and Raymond E. Hunziker III, Atlas of Aquarium Fishes, v. 1 Marines. 1990. T.F.H. Publications.
Campbell, Douglas G. 1979. Marines: their care and keeping, Groupers and their allies. Parts 1-3. 9-11/79 FAMA.
Fenner, Bob. 1995. A diversity of aquatic life. The Family Serranidae. FAMA 9/95.
Fenner, Robert. 1996. Basses, groupers or hinds? The genus Cephalopholis. TFH 12/96.
Fenner, Robert. 1998. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Microcosm, VT. 432pp.
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Michael, Scott W. 1998. Gorgeous groupers. One genus really does stand out. AFM 1/98.
Murphy, Geri, 1992. The Caribbean Coney, a common fish of uncommon colors. Skin Diver 5/92.
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Pyle, Richard L. & Lisa A. Privitera, 1989. The harlequin hind C. polleni (Bleeker). FAMA 12/89.