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FAQs about Moorish Idols, Family Zanclidae 1

Related Articles: Moorish Idols

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

Try Pablo Tepoot's "Spectrum" Fish Foods with this species... have seen them really chow down. Bob F.

Exophthalmia/Pop-Eye      10/25/18
Hi there,
I wonder if you can help with a question regarding pop-Eye. I acquired a Moorish Idol about 5 months ago, and while he was in quarantine, go through the tank transfer method, he developed a fairly large pop-eye.
<One-sided? Do READ on WWM re... most all unilateral... are due to physical traumas. A Zanclus kept for months is testimony to your good care>
This would get a bit better and then flair up again, but once he settled in the DT, it remained constant. The eye is not cloudy, but it rather looks as if there is a gas bubble behind it.
<That or fluid... yes; does happen; and hard to "remedy">
No other fish in the tank have ever had pop-eye and the Moorish Idol is not being bullied by any other fish. He is healthy looking with no other symptoms, can clearly see the incoming food,(not sure whether with both eyes…), behaves normal and eats well and everything he can get. All water parameters are within a good range, with nitrites sitting around 20. There is no other disease in the DT either.
My question is, should I at some stage treat the fish? Will the pop-eye go eventually away or can it be that it has become a permanent condition after 5 months?
<I would not treat, will not likely go away in any time frame.>
As always, I appreciate your expertise and help,
Kind regards,
Jana Maddock
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Exophthalmia/Pop-Eye      10/26/18

Thanks Bob, for the quick reply. Yes, it is unilateral. And it was of course the nitrates (not nitrites) that are at 20!
<Ah yes; assumed>
I’ve always kept the Moorish Idols, the last two in Australia I had for 4 years before we left for South Africa. I collect sponge from the rock pools every now and then…
<Ahh! >
Wishing you a good day further,
Kind regards,
Jana Maddock
<And you Jana. BobF>

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.>

Morish idol; no eating/rdg.      9/21/14
<Moorish; Zanclus...>
I enjoy doing the hard to keep species tanks and usually have fairly good
success with most things. Tuesday I picked up a pair of morish idols which appeared to eat blender mush at the lfs. After bringing them home I put them in my 55g quarantine which I keep running with liverock. Since Tuesday neither have taken food since leaving the lfs and one has died while the survivor seems to be holding on by eating film algae and detritus.
<.... have you searched/read what is archived on this species on WWM?>

I've offered 2 mixes of frozen blender mush, pe mysis, clam on
the half shell, Cyclopeeze, Nori, krill, sponge, formula 1 and 2 and nls pellets,
<Good choices>
as well as a sampler of flake foods all soaked in garlic. the
surviving specimen seems to respond during feeding by going into a frenzy darting around the tank but doesn't seem to actually eat. Since it ate
well in the sales tank at the lfs even the day they received it I'm at a
loss why the 5 minute drive home appears to have triggered a hunger strike and I'm running out of ideas. Any other ideas on how to get him started?
<Reading... Bob Fenner>

another Moorish idol question, comp. mostly   1/29/11
<... grammar> a friend of mine has had a MI for about 10months now, however his tank in my opinion is too small 125g. so he has offered the MI to me. This fish is feeding find and has grown in size. i have a 6ftX2ftX29in tank. but before i decide to take the fish i was wondering if this fish is compatible with my live stock. i have 3 tangs, yellow, regal, power brown,
<Not likely w/ these>
2 clown fish 3 damsels and 3 chromes. i also have various LPS and soft corals and few SPS. so do MI eat corals and are they compatible with tangs?
<Can nibble>
any help would be appreciated
thanks Dan
<Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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>

Moorish Idol Selection (More Than Just "Eating") - 08/11/08 Hello crew. <<Hi Shea>> I found a Moorish Idol at my LFS last Thursday and have been monitoring him for days now. <<Ah! …this fish is my overall fave. You have perused our FAQs on this fish? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm >> His colors are great, eyes are clear, he looks well fed, and he is eating freeze-dried krill and frozen mysis shrimp. <<Good signs…but likely not good enough. Just "eating" is not enough with this fish as most will still decline. I think there is something about their diet/dietary requirements that we don't yet understand…although, there has been anecdotal proof that specimens that will feed on New Life Spectrum pellets may be fulfilling that unknown requirement>> He is also eating dried seaweed and is picking at the ground, eating there as well. <<Or searching for what it "needs" and is not getting otherwise>> Would this be a good specimen to purchase given the difficult feeding? <<This fish sounds like a good prospect, but as stated earlier just the fact that it is feeding is no guarantee. There have been many instances where these fish ate heartily, only to die "mysteriously">> My LFS is also trying to feed him New Life Spectrum Pellets at my request, and he is starting to show interest. <<This will probably be key to successfully keeping this fish…along with housing it in a proper environment>> I am going to pick him up on Wednesday if he keeps up with this good eating behavior, and if you think this would be a good purchase. <<Is up to you, but I would prefer to see this fish taking the Spectrum pellets first…though if it is feeding as heartily as it seems, you may be able to train it on to this food yourself in short order>> I would be putting him in a 75 gallon tank <<Too small in my opinion. This fish needs space to roam (much like a large Tang species would), along with a good supply of live rock upon which to browse (at least initially) as in that afforded by a larger tank>> to start out but in less than a year will be in a 125 gallon with a powder blue tang and a possible dog face puffers. Would these conditions be suitable for a Moorish Idol? <<The larger/longer tank will be of great benefit, but I'm not so sure about the chosen tankmates. Idols are very aggressive fish, and this one, should it survive/thrive, will be "king fish" of this domain. The Powder Blue may work out fine and is a better choice than a Zebrasoma species due to the similarity in body profile, but I would give the puffer a miss in the interest of water quality (messy feeders/large bio-mass) and keeping the Zanclus's finnage in prime condition (that streamer would be very tempting to a puffer, in my opinion)>> Look forward to hearing from you, Shea <<If you decide to go forward with this fish I think it is very important you tailor the system to the Moorish Idol for long-term success. That means basing "all" decisions on the needs of this fish. Doing anything less will only end in disappointment/tragedy. I would be very interested to hear how things progress. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Re: Moorish Idol Selection (More Than Just "Eating") - 08/14/08 Hello Eric, <<Hi Shea>> I have decided to purchase the Moorish Idol tomorrow evening, he has been eating the New Life Spectrum pellets for a few days now and I have witnessed this. <<Very good>> But I was just curious on how disease resistant they are? <<Mmm, a good question. From what I have observed and heard/read, they seem to fall along the lines of many tang species re disease and treatment. But malnutrition, should it be present, will significantly increase the fish's susceptibility to complaints of all types>> I can't find many articles on this subject, <<There are a few noted individuals who have done some work/observations with this fish (I believe Helen Thayer is one); though I think most of what I've read was geared toward aggression among conspecifics. A search of the NET on the scientific name (Zanclus cornutus) does yield hits, but much of the info is indeed very basic/brief>> seems like the only hard thing to do, is to get them to eat. <<History/experience with this fish would seem to indicate otherwise. Many hobbyists have been able to get this fish to eat…but few have been able to keep it healthy for more than a year…and most for a much shorter period of time. As mentioned before, aside from a proper diet you will need to provide a large and open environment for this fish and choose its tankmates carefully>> Thanks in advance and I'll keep you posted. Shea <<Please do…and perhaps consider keeping a journal of your methods and observations re this fish for sharing later. I wish you and your Idol much luck. EricR>>

Nutrition, Moorish Idols 7/14/08 Hey. <Hello> I love your website and had a question about Moorish idols. I went to my LFS and they had a group of beautiful idols. They said that they would survive if I fed them new life spectrum but I just wanted to ask you if this food is good. <Is of very high quality.> I saw Pablo Tepoot's idols in his tank and they seem healthy. Please tell me if this right. Thank you <The new Life Spectrum is very good food, and there is some evidence that it can sustain these fish long term. However there are no guarantees, and this fish should still be considered difficult, however not near impossible like before. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm .> <Chris>

Survival of Moorish Idol vs. Ribbon eel in Captivity 5/11/08 Hey Crew, <Hello> I have recently gone to my LFS and saw a Black (juv.) ribbon eel in an adjacent tank to a Moorish Idol. As I do to before I purchase any saltwater fish, I asked the sales representative to feed the ribbon eel, and then Moorish Idol. The ribbon eel gradually came up and snatched a feeder goldfish from the tongs. Surprisingly, the Moorish Idol also went after the mysis shrimp being offered. My question is that from the research I have done, in any case, a Moorish Idol will perish in Captivity since at the end, they are still not receiving the sufficient nutrients that they require, such as the specific sponges, and inverts that they eat in the wild, as would a human would being fed popcorn for a while. <Great analogy, fair statement, yes.> However, is this the same for the ribbon eel? <Feeding is one issue, the ability and drive to escape from the tank and just flat out stress being the others.> If the eel has a good appetite, and considering that shipment was reasonable for the animal, would it also perish due to a lack of nutrients? <If it is eating you have a shot, although do be sure it will feed on a marine diet, not feeder goldfish. You will need to seal off the top of the tank and any plumbing that the eel may escape through.> Kishoth <Good luck, a link and related FAQ's regarding the eel below, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ribbonmorayeels.htm

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>

Moorish Idol, swollen eyes, no useful info.  - 12/13/07 Hi, thank goodness for people such as yourselves with web sites like this one! <Glad to share> I have just come home to find the Moorish Idol with large swollen eyes, one is slightly pinky red around the inner edge. He had been feeding well, and this is the first time he has shown any signs of illness. <... how long have you had this fish? What re the system? Tankmates, foods, feeding...?> I'm not sure what to do, or if to put anything into the tank medication wise ( there are crabs and shrimp in there ) so I'm limited to what I can put in ( I think!? ) <...?> Hope you can help, any advice would be welcome. All advice given in the past by you guys has been great, and always worked, hope you can come through for me again. Amanda <Need data to develop a first approximation... BobF>

Moorish Idol... beh.   11/21/07 Hello Bob, <Joe> I have had two Moorish Idols for a little over a year. They have both grown in size and eat a wide variety of food mainly Spectrum Thera A pellets. <Ah, yes... have seen Pablo Tepoot's Zanclus... almost bulging at the seams on this food> Last week one of them just went off on the other biting it relentlessly for a couple hours. Later that day the one under attack turned very dark <A bad behavioral/physiological sign... Need to be separated stat!> it looked almost like it was covered with soot. I wrote this off to stress as the next day it's natural color had returned and the two of them seemed to be friends again. I have not seen another attack since then but, the one that was attacked has become discolored once again now going on 48 hours although it is eating and acting normal this discoloration has me concerned. Do you have any ideas as to what is going on? Sincerely Joe B. <Inter-species aggression... dominance... Again, I would move them apart. Bob Fenner>

Re: Stocking An Angel, now Snowflake Moray beh., and Moorish Idol sel.   8/21/07 Thanks, I think on your advice I'll stick with the Hippo... Bob, I obviously thoroughly read your FAQ's and information on Snowflake Moray's... And I've had mine for almost a year now... He's a little over 2ft. In the past 3 weeks, he's started 'wigging out' and jumping. My water level is a good four inches below the top of the tank, I have egg crating over each of my three top openings weighed down with 2x4's that support my PC lighting. <Good> In both instances there was food present (the kind he'd be after... i.e not flake or pellet). Instance one, he went for a piece of scallop and instead decided to wrestle with the feeding stick... After a few seconds he just flew to one side of the tank and back and then out of the tank, up the wall... Luckily falling back into the tank. The second instance was just last night where I dropped a few tank thawed krill into the tank. My Harlequin Tuskfish went after the same piece the Snowflake was after... The eggcrating was on (secure I thought) and when he jumped he managed to wedge himself in between the egg crating and the glass top. A few squirms and he was up n over and onto the floor. I scooped him into my largest net and placed him back in the tank and he quietly returned to his hole. <Happens... this is not atypical behavior for Echidna nebulosa in captivity> I'm a little worried that he is so peaceful and well behaved, but if I add perhaps a Trigger or Angel... That they may compete for his feeding stick dinner, thus repeat jumpings. I know that they are notorious escape artists... But is it common for them to scare like this? <Yes and yes> On a side note, I'm worried that my favorite fish retailer has disappointed me this past weekend. 4 x 10" Moorish Idols for sale for $110/each. Listed as a 'medium' to care for fish in a minimum 150 gallon tank. <Good luck... trace these specimens for a couple weeks...> I asked him about them and he said that one of the other owners has had a Moorish Idol for 8 months and is doing well in a 220gallon. I don't know, beautiful fish it's a shame that these will be sold and will likely perish. Have you heard of anyone keeping these successfully? <Yes... to sing its praises once again, Spectrum pelleted foods really seem to be a/the "trick" here... Accepted readily and completely nutritious. BobF> David Brynlund

Interesting re: the Moorish idol. Comp.    8/22/07 Likely a good companion for Puffers, Triggers, and Angels? David Brynlund <... No. Please see WWM re Zanclus. RMF>

Sharing Information/Observations/Opinions On Zanclus cornutus - 06/06/07 Hello WWM Crew, <<Greetings Frank!>> Your site has been very helpful. <<Good to know>> I would like to share my, short-term, experience with Moorish Idols and would love to hear any feedback you would have. <<Excellent...an done of my most favorite fishes>> I purchased 3 Moorish Idols (2-1/2", 3", and 3-1/2") in February 2007 from LiveAquaria.com and put them into my 120-gallon display aquarium that was cycled back in 2003. <<Mmm, too small a tank for three of these beauties...in my opinion. These are far ranging and, yes, aggressive fishes on the reef. Nor do they tolerate conspecifics well in the confines of an aquarium...reason enough to keep them in very large setups>> The main tank has 150 lbs. of live rock, a 35-gallon refugium with 50 lbs. LR, and 35-gallon sump with a Euro-Reef CS80 Protein Skimmer. <<An excellent but undersized skimmer for this system, even without the Zanclus>> I built the aquarium, in the wall, between two rooms for double the enjoyment. <<Nice...my own large reef display is situated in the wall between my dining and living rooms>> The display has 820 watts lighting made up from a Coralife Compact Fluorescent with 4-65 watt 10,000k and an Outer Orbit HQI/Compact Fluorescent 2-150 watt 10000k Metal Halide; 2-130 watt Actinic. <<This is a reef display? Zanclus cornutus is not particularly "reef safe">> The refugium has a Current-USA SunPaq Quad 96 watt 10000?K/Actinic. I added the Outer Orbit about two years ago and my nitrates went down to undetectable. <<...?>> I guess lighting is a real key. <<Ah!...yes...for driving metabolic processes and the associated usage/consumption of nitrogenous waste...and maybe something to be learned here for those hobbyists with low lighting on their FOWLR systems...perhaps?>> After adding so many watts I needed to get a chiller and added a Current-USA 1/3 HP Tower Chiller. My tank conditions are: 76-78?F, spg 1.023, pH 8.0-8.3. <<I would prefer you to increase the SPG closer to natural seawater levels of 1.025/026>> I use an Orbit/SunPod adjustable Hanging Kit for the lighting to control the vegetation growth by moving the lighting closer to the tank for more and further for less. Is this okay to do or should I play with the lighting time settings? <<I wouldn't fool with the timing/duration settings...would prefer to see these kept constant (much like in the tropics, where our livestock hails from). But I can't really comment on the other without knowing more about your system/process...e.g. - what species livestock/corals do you keep?...how "high" do you raise the lighting and for how long?...what do you mean by "vegetation growth" (algae?)?...>> Most of my fish are from 2003-2004, are very healthy and all get along. I have 1 Queen Angel, <<Mmm, a very much "alpha" fish...and likely close to needing a much larger system for continued good health and maintaining "acceptable" social behavior>> 3 Dwarf Angels (Flame, Herald, Keyhole), <<Hmm...I think you mean "Herald's">> Tomato Clownfish, <<A very agonistic species...especially when well established>> Firefish Goby, Yellowtail Damsel and a Neon Goby. Here are a couple things I would like to share: The small Moorish Idol was severely attacked by my large Tomato Clown and didn?t make it. <<Not surprising...on either count>> Tomato, one of my original cycling fish, is now in my son's 20-gallon tank. <<Hmm, won't get in to the waste/harm/unnecessary need for using live fish to cycle tanks...but do hope that Tomato Clown is alone in the 20g>> They say Moorish Idols are very difficult fish to feed but it only took a couple of days to get them eating. <<It's not so much a matter of getting them to eat...but more a problem of providing the "necessary" nutrition. Many a Moorish Idol has seemed to be feeding well only to die from apparent malnutrition, or secondary disease/infection brought on by malnutrition. But on the bright side, there appears to be anecdotal proof that the pelleted foods from New Life Spectrum can/do provide the necessary nutritional requirements for these (and many/most other) fishes. If you choose to persist in your pursuit of these fishes I highly recommend you give the Spectrum foods a try>> Now they are fat and eat like pigs. <<Is "early days" yet>> One thing I noticed is they seem to shake everything they grab, like its alive and they want to feel it fight back. <<As alluded to earlier...these are not "gentle" fishes>> At first they would shake the food and spit it out. Now they eat whatever I put in front of them. <<Is good to hear>> Moorish Idol in aquarium eating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDj0coeXhRY Moorish Idol in refugium eating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-3CfDiEQtY <<Unfortunately, I'm not able to view these at the moment>> They may be peaceful but not with each other in my 120 gallon tank! <<Bingo! Not a "peaceful" species...very intolerant of conspecifics in such confines...and can be a danger to other peaceful fishes>> I had to move the middle sized one to the refugium because they were fighting. <<Very difficult to keep more than one to a tank unless the system is VERY large...maybe in the thousands of gallons>> He was the more aggressive one. Shortly after that I posted him for sale and found a new home for him. <<Not somebody's 55g tank I hope...>> I once again have a happy tank. Moorish Idols in aquarium fighting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfOiLr0jeSk I have also found that they are very fast healers. <<As are most all fishes...when kept in healthy systems and fed a plentiful and nutritious diet>> When I split them up most of their fins were torn. After about 4-5 days they looked like perfect specimens. <<Fishes have amazing recuperative abilities, when given the chance>> Malnutrition is what I fear the most <<Indeed>> so I feed them 5 times a day-frozen food (Hikari Mysis Shrimp, SF Bay - Marine Cuisine, Plankton, Squid, Cyclops) or Sweetwater Zooplankton in the morning (9am) plus a Rondomatic Auto-Feeder is set for 12, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm into a Feeding Frenzy Feeding Ring with a variety of foods (New Life Spectrum Marine pellets, Ocean Nutrition Flakes - Spirulina, Formula One, Formula Two, Prime Reef, Brine Shrimp, BIO-Blend Marine Herbivore and Carnivore pellets). <<A very nice selection/varied diet...and oh!...I see you already use the Spectrum food...Excellent!>> I am hoping years from now I can tell you my Moorish Idol is doing fine. <<Me too!>> I will keep you posted. <<Please do my friend>> My fish and I thank you, Frank (North Wales, PA) <<Is my pleasure to share with you. Regards, EricR in Columbia, SC>>

Happy Balance Of Ich In The Reef Tank?? - 02/22/07 Hi crew, <<Hello Jana>> Could someone please advice me on the following? <<I'll give it a shot>> I have a 430 litre reef tank that has been infested with ich for some time now. <<Mmm, indeed...these protozoan pests are present in most all aquaria, to some extent>> My inhabitants are 2 medium Moorish idols, <<Difficult to keep>> 1 yellow tang, 1 juvenile emperor angel, 1 milky way cardinal <<...?  I'm going to go out on a limb and guess this last here is a Banggai Cardinal>> and the latest edition was a redline cleaner shrimp.  Except for the cleaner all fish have been treated with copper twice already for 14 days and the main tank has run fallow for 36 days (1st time) and 30 days at 28 degrees second time round. <<Hmm...some would say a minimum of six weeks fallow is best>> The yellow tang did not take well to the Cupramine but came right after being introduced back into the main tank. <<Ah, yes...hopefully the bacteria in the fish's gut has not been too severely malaffected>> Both times when I reintroduced the fish the ich came back. <<A longer fallow period would seem to be called for...though this is not foolproof, and even when successful is only temporary as the protozoan is so easily reintroduced>> Very subtle on the 2 Moorish idols and a few spots on the angelfish.  Yellow tang and cardinal are completely clean. <<No...just not manifested as "spots">> The newly introduced cleaner shrimp does not seem too interested on the job. <<Sometimes happens, but these "bio-controls" can be very helpful where this pest is concerned.  I would obtain one or two more>> All fish seem happy and healthy (other then the few spots), eat well and look good. <<Not uncommon at all.  If water chemistry is kept optimal, the fish are not overly stressed and are well fed with an appropriate diet (some added vitamin supplements would be a good idea), there's a good chance they can fight-off/keep the infection from becoming problematic>> I've been reading your website for months now (best of all sites!!!) and find it very interesting. <<Is good to know>> The ich in my tank however seems to be persistent. <<Oh yes!>> I have read a couple of frequently asked questions where you guys talk about reducing the virulence of the problem. <<A healthy, well balanced system is key>> Bob advised once to 'give it a good two months of running the tank fallow to be more or less (90 some %) sure of reduced virulence' in an extreme ich infested tank. <<Good advice from a man who's seen much more than most re this hobby>> I've also read of tanks with an existing balance of ich and fish. <<Yep...as already stated...is present in most everyone's aquaria>> So my questions are: What are the chances of actually having an ich-free tank once there has been an infestation? <<Ich "free?"  Is possible, though usually short-lived>> From what I understand, even after months there can still be a few hardy ones left.  And if ich exists in the tank but is under control, how does it stay under control and does not break out every now and then? <<When I first ventured in to the marine hobby several decades ago the saying regarding ich infections was "not if, but when"...and this still holds true today.  In my opinion, your best defense/weapon against ich...aside form proper quarantine/prophylactic treatment...is to maintain optimum water conditions and stock wisely (don't overload the tank, house incompatible species, etc.)>> Every time one adds a new fish, the new guy on the block picks it up, right?? <<Usually as a symptom of stress from being the "new kid in school," yes>> Other then what I've already been doing, can you suggest anything else that there is left to combat ich.  I seem to have a mild but constant infestation. <<If the infection is not worsening I would be inclined at this point to keep a close eye on things and let the fishes immune response deal with the protozoa...oh yeah, and add a couple more cleaner shrimp...>> Thanks for all your wonderful advice, Jana <<Quite welcome...happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Re: Happy Balance Of Ich In The Reef Tank?? - 02/23/07 Thanks Eric for your speedy reply and advice. <<Quite welcome Jana>> I think I'll do just that, instead of moving fish back and forth in and out of quarantine, I will see how it all goes, seeing that fish seem happy. <<Ah yes...the "fuss" can sometimes do more harm than good>> Oh, and will get another cleaner shrimp or two (not cheap these little creatures).. <<Indeed...if you're in the UK, I remember the prices as quite dear for these little crustaceans, though camel shrimp were quite cheap by comparison...if you are "down under" I expect prices to be even more inflated>> My Moorish idols by the way are awesome. <<Much in agreement...I am particularly enamored by these fish and would love to have a tank-full myself>> I heard that they are difficult to keep but I got them fairly small and have them on the Spectrum food. <<EXCELLENT!  Of the few successes I have heard about concerning these fish, New Life Spectrum foods have played a key role>> In between I get them sponges and other algae from the ocean (live by the beach, Australia). <<(Ah, mystery solved)  Do be cautious of introducing pathogens/parasites>> They eat like pigs. <<Very good to hear>> Anyway, still wanted to know what you think of how many fish one could keep in a 430-litre tank without overcrowding? <<Depends on the fish Jana...what do you have in mind?>> Wanted to add a majestic angel still and may be a pair of maroons... Too much? <<Considering the Moorish Idols and the already established Emperor Angel, yes.  If you wish to keep the Z. cornutus happy and healthy I suggest you look to a specimen or two of smaller and more "peaceful" species>> Thanks again for your advice, Jana <<Always welcome.  Eric Russell>>

Moorish Idol ... fdg., keeping period   11/5/06 Hello,   How are you? I hope and take you guys are well. First of all, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my email. I have read allot <a lot> of articles on Moorish Idols and was wondering if I can ask you a few questions. My wife just bought be 3 Moorish Idols for my kids. My kids love the movie Finding Nemo. The reason she bought 3 is that they do allot better when they are kept in schools. <... though the vast majority live for only a very short while in captivity> Anyways, I have been handling fish tanks for a while and I am definitely ready to TRY and tackle this fish. Any tips you can give me to help keep this fish alive? <... posted> Currently in my freezer is Brine shrimp, Blood Worms, Clams, angel and butterfly formula. I also give them freeze dried krill 2 or 3 times a week and I feed the Seaweed everyday. I feed my fish twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. <I strongly encourage you to try Spectrum fish foods here... Have seen Pablo Tepoot feeding this to Zanclus he keeps in mixed associations...> My Tank: - 150 Gallons w/o the filter. - Ecosystem Mud Filtration system - 0 ammonia, nitrates etc.. I don't overcrowd my tank - Metal Halide Lights - Just replace 50% of the mud a few weeks ago - heat is set to 79 degrees. I have a good heater and my tank never falls **below 78 degrees. - Salinity is at 1.018 - Acclimate my fish by the books. 3 hour slow drip method. - 3 blue Damsels - 2 black n white damsels - 1 emperor angel fish - 1 Large Naso Tank - 1 fox Face Large - 1 Dragon Wrasse Large That's all I can think of. Please let me know what I can do to help keep him alive. from what I am reading getting him to eat is not enough. how to I get him the proper vitamins he needs to thrive? Thanks,    David <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol/Feeding  5/31/06 My friend and I were wandering in a pet store looking at their Aquarium Fish, and we both have marine tanks. I am a huge fan of Moorish Idols, and we saw one at the store and it was labeled at only $21.99!!! Can you believe that?! Right then we knew this pet store was crazy and did not know what they were selling. <They knew what they were selling, just wanted to get something for it before it died in their tank.> I have seen this fish being sold for $213.99. My friend bought me the fish, because it did not look that well in the store, and for 21.99 he said that if it dies I could at least say I had my favorite fish at least once in my life. It was going to die at the store anyway, their tanks were bad, and a couple fish were nipping at it, and it lost a few inches of it's long dorsal fin. It was kinda sad really. Anyway, I get it home, and put it in my tank. The fish never ate anything I offered. I knew that they were a very hard fish to keep and their eating habits are a pain, cause I know that this fish has a reputation of being one of the marine fish to never get to eat, and always die if your not the best marine tank keeper in the world. <They can die even in the hands of the experienced aquarist.> But I really have my heart set on at least giving it a shot to keep this fish alive the best I can. I went to the aquarium store I always go to and they said the fish needed "Spirulina" as a main thing in it's diet. and they sold me "Seaweed Selects" from Ocean Nutrition. Well the Moorish Idol LOVES this stuff and Eats it like crazy!! But it still won't eat anything else, and I looked at the label of the food, and all it says for ingredients is "100% Natural Seaweeds (marine Macroalgae)" How would the Aquarium store know what's in it? <Same as you, they read the label.> I looked all over the internet (that's how I found this sight) and I can't find what is really in it in detail, every sight just says what's on the label. <Marine macroalgae, that is what's in it.  You would have to contact Ocean Nutrition if you want to know more.> Can my Moorish Idol just keep eating this and be okay? It does say it has 33.9% Crude Protein (min). The fish is doing much better. It's dorsal Fin already gained back almost two inches, and it even had a couple parasites, and it never bothered it from swimming and eating the seaweed. <Matt, a very difficult fish to keep.  Very few aquarists have been able to keep one alive for any length of time.  Hoping you may be one of the lucky ones. Do read here and related FAQ's above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/moorish_idols.htm> Thank you very much for your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> -Matt

Moorish Idol Mortality - 03/15/06 Hello esteemed purveyors of sound aquatic advice, <<Mmm, one can hope...Howdy!>> First of all I would like to thank you for your wonderful site.  It has helped me tremendously, which is why I feel bad questioning certain info on your site. <<No need to feel bad my friend, intelligent debate is always welcome...question away!>> I was wondering how you can be so certain the Moorish Idols who died in captivity after eating well for over a year died of starvation or nutrient deficiency. <<Hmm, well...speaking only for myself here...I don't consider it a "certainty" as much a "theory".  Lacking any real documented scientific evidence (results of post-mortem examination <necropsy>/any real knowledge of this fish's nutritional requirements), and considering the seemingly large proportion of fish that perish just as you have described, lack of "proper/necessary" nutrition seems completely viable.  Also, rumblings/rumors of successes with this fish by utilizing/getting them to feed upon the 'New Life Spectrum' line of foods lends credence to this theory.>> Is it possible they ate something they shouldn't have (poisoned) or even lost the ability to digest food. <<Indeed...the careless use of an antibiotic can have just such an effect, but I doubt this is the cause for large scale losses.  I still think a missing nutrient better explains the problem overall.>> Tangs (a relative) have certain things in their stomach to aid in digestion and when it's lost due to illness or distress, they need another tang to seed the tang with the stomach fauna they need.  Could this be the case for Moorish Idols? <<It could...from time to time...>> The possibilities are endless. <<Mmm, maybe>> I really value all your assistance and don't wish to seem ungrateful by questioning your genius. <<Hardly a genius here, but thanks <grin>...and you don't seem "ungrateful" at all...these are good points for consideration/examination.>> I just thought you guys might be painting yourselves into a corner by making starvation the only possibility. <<I don't think any of us have made it the "only possibility," but until better data becomes available to the contrary, I do feel it is the best explanation.>> Sincerely, Jose Saldana <<Be chatting my friend, EricR>> p.s. I wrote you a long time ago about a Moorish Idol my wife bought me that died about ten minutes after I got home from work.  I've since bought a 2.5 " one that's been alive for about a month.  I don't doubt your statistics regarding mortality, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and trying hard to make his life worth living.   Thanks again for all your help in the past and I'm sure, the future. <<Ah, I truly love these fish...I wish you success!  Do look in to the 'Spectrum' line of fish foods...and please keep me posted on the fish's progress.  EricR>>

Moorish Idol Mortality II - 03/16/06 EricR, <<Jose>> I should have mentioned I took your (WWM) advice about the Spectrum food the day after I purchased my Idol. <<Great!>> Unfortunately, I have yet to see him eat anything other than coralline algae and the various types of macro algae I have in my tank.  He has regular bowel movements and seems thick.  I'll keep trying the Spectrum. <<Ah yes, very important to train it to eat this/other prepared food.>> Thanks Again <<Welcome, EricR>>

Moorish Idol Death - 02/17/05 Hi, <<Hello>> I would like to express my appreciation for all that this site has to offer for aquarists of all experience levels. <<Thank you for this.>> I have a question about a mysterious death of a fish that I had for about a year.  Up until last night, I had one of the most beautiful fish I have ever seen, it was a 7" Moorish Idol. <<Ooh...I love these fish...>> Now before I get reprimanded for buying a fish like this, <<Hee!  I see you've gotten to know us.  Actually, this fish has "moved up the ladder" a small bit with the introduction of some commercially available prepared foods (Spectrum) that reportedly are helping with providing the nutrition essential to this fish. Now don't take this as an endorsement for folks to run out and buy Moorish Idols for their tanks!  I still believe this fish is best left alone/in the ocean by most hobbyists.>> I would like to say that I bought it from the most reputable dealer in my area (I had to drive 2 hours each way with this thing in a plastic a little bigger than a basketball), it was fat, it had the most gorgeous coloration I have ever seen on one of these fish, it had been in my tank (6 ft 135 gall....a little small but an upgrade is in the works.) for a year and was not skittish or stressed, eating like a pig, and not being bothered by anyone, he was the king and the centerpiece of the tank. <<I share your enthusiasm, truly magnificent fish.  I had the opportunity to see these fish in their natural element while diving on the Big Island last fall...captivating (as was so many things/everything there <grin>).>> Yesterday morning I fed the fish and he ate his usual amount and had no signs of disease or damage.  That night I came down to feed the tank, I do two feedings a day and Nori in between, and he was dead on the bottom, no signs of damage and he did not have any apparent disease on the outside or internal parasites and all of the other fish are doing fine.  What could have happened? <<Though you don't say what you were feeding this fish, though you say this fish was feeding well, it likely died of long-term malnutrition/some dietary deficiency.  This is thought to be a common demise...so much we don't know about this specie yet.  But as mentioned earlier, there has been some promise shown when the fish are fed/will accept the New Line Spectrum brand of prepared foods.>> I immediately checked the levels and they are perfect. <<Likely this wasn't a water quality issue.>> I know that this fish has somewhat of a dismal survival record but he was always the fish that I never had to worry about, probably the easiest fish I have ever had.  The tank looks so empty now.  Any help that you could give me is appreciated. Regards, Dave <<Like I said, I'm hesitant to recommend this fish to anyone but if you do try again, request your LFS obtain its stock from a Hawaiian supplier, and give the Spectrum food a go.  Regards, EricR>>

Moorish Idol Death - 02/21/06 Hi, <<Hello Dave>> Thank you so much for your help. <<My pleasure>> I had been feeding him, Formula 1, 2, Nori soaked in Zoe, Mysis shrimp, and another frozen cube, I'm not sure who makes it but its a combination of brine shrimp and other meaty foods for carnivores. <<I see...a good mix...still may not have been enough.  No way to know without a necropsy.>> Also, I used Formula 2 and Spirulina in the flake form as well as formula 1 pellets.  Along with the Zoe I also used garlic extreme by Kent as a supplement. <<Mmm...of dubious utility...in my opinion.  I consider Selcon or Selco to be a much more worthwhile product.>> I also checked out the Spectrum foods on their website and I was wondering what kind of Spectrum I should be using for this fish? <<The marine and color formulas>> Since I had a good deal of luck with my first Idol I will definitely give another try, they are so beautiful and they almost become like the family dog, it would come to the glass every time I approached the tank and would eat the Nori right out of my hand.  Do you think that it is better to find a bigger sized Idol or should the usual 3-4 inch rule apply? <<Stick with the 3-4 inch specimen.>> Thanks for all of your help. --Dave <<Welcome Dave, EricR>>

Moorish Idol Survivability (Poor), feeding a big Ritteri anemone - 10/12/05 Hello All, <<Greetings>> I want to try to get two topics for the price of one. <Alrighty>> All is well nothing sick, just general questions of curiosity. <<ok>> The first is my Moorish Idol. <<Mmm...>> I have had him for about 6 months. When I bought him he was a little under weight and had a cut on him. He is doing awesome. <<For now maybe.>> His color is vibrant, cut has been gone for months. He is about 6-8" so he is good size. <<agreed>> He is eating, Seaweed Selects, frozen mysis, live worms, alga wafers, you name it he eats it. <<Sadly, this usually still proves to be insufficient with these fishes.>> He is the first one in line when I feed, also eats flakes. When I first got him all he would eat is wafers. My question is, I was reading a article that stated no matter how good they do, they will perish. Something about a enzyme they eat in the wild, that we can not produce in an aquarium. Is this true? <<Not familiar with the "enzyme" theory, though it does go with what I've heard/read as far as not being able to accurately reproduce the dietary requirements for long-term health/vigor. I've been in this hobby a long time and tried; albeit unsuccessfully, to keep Zanclidae more than once (has been more than 10 years since my last attempt). They all would eat, seem to be healthy...but then one day, two or ten months down the road, you come home or get up to find it dead in the tank for no "apparent" reason. All you have to do is look around you...how many Moorish Idols do you see on display, or in other hobbyists tanks (long-term)? It's not because they don't have appeal/are not available to the trade. I wish you luck, but this is another specie best left in the sea.>> Secondly, about 2 months ago I purchased a Heteractis magnifica. It has a extremely deep, colorful purple base. Never have seen one like this. It is about 24" wide. It is huge! <<And will likely get bigger.>><Not as far as RMF is aware> I have read conflicting articles on FAQ's and others. Some say to not feed it at all, let the clowns do it (They do but not much). <<Mmm, nope...needs to be fed.>> Some say to feed it chopped silversides 1-2 times per week. <<Not the best diet...do provide some variety...chopped table shrimp/fish.>> Others say once a day. <<Maybe more like 2-3 times a week.>> Due to the anemone being so large, I have been feeding it chopped silversides and shrimp daily. It seems to be doing well. <<This might be fine (small portions). Let the anemone's health/appetite be your guide.>> I just am trying to be pro active and not reactive. <<Does pay dividends.>> Thank you for your valuable time. <<Happy to assist, EricR>>

Moorish Idol  9/25/05 Hi Bob,   Thanks for all the wonderful help and wealth of knowledge that has helped me maintain and keep my marine livestock alive and well with little loss of life.  With that said I'm embarrassed to say I bought a Moorish Idol.  He's in a 120g 5'  long FOWLR tank along with a Hippo tang, Flag fin angel, Copperbanded BF (1yr and healthy) and false eyed puffer.  The MI is very aggressively eating the following Frozen foods- Formula 1 & 2, Mysis shrimp, Plankton and Spirulina enriched brine shrimp.  In addition it's also eating the following Dry foods- Formula 1& 2 flakes, freeze dried brine shrimp and nibbling at Formula 2 pellets.  I'm also supplementing with lettuce algae from my refuge.  I have yet to get him to eat sushi Nori.  (by the way, I plan on upgrading to a 220g tank in 9 months) My question for you is how often should I feed the MI?  Currently I'm feeding 3 times daily.  Is this enough or should I try and feed 4 times daily?  My live rock is pretty barren except for coralline algae. <Larry, at least you got by the first hurdle.  Three feedings are plenty.  The 220 should increase your chances of keeping this fish, hoping it will make it through the next nine months.  I would add Selcon to the food before feeding.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Larry, getting ready for the big freeze in Minnesota!

Moorish Idol Feeding Problems 9/19/05 Hi Bob  I purchased my Moorish Idol from my LFS (In Oxford England) 6 weeks ago, and knew only about the problems this fish has with eating when you get them home, so I made sure the fish was eating properly before purchasing it.  I then reserved the fish at the LFS and collected him 4 weeks later and yes he was still eating as strong as ever.  What I didn't know after reading your articles, was that this fish will more than likely die after a while which is very sad.  But now I have him, I will do my absolute best to look after him to the best of my abilities.   <Quoted from the first entry in the Moorish Idol FAQ's: "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."  I agree completely with this quote and will pass along a request to Bob to update the Moorish Idol page to more explicitly express these facts.  I applaud your careful observation and patience before buying specimens, unfortunately as you now know even MI's that eat rarely survive more than a few months.> I'm not a new comer to keeping marines as I used to work in my LFS 15 years ago.  At the moment I only have a 2 ft tank holding 80 litres but looking to go larger when I can afford it.  I have in the tank a Sohal Tang and a Moorish Idol (measuring 2 inches) and hope to obtain a Queen Angel very soon.  It has a trickle filter and also an Eheim canister filter for biological filtration and an airstone.  Water tests are good with Ammonia and Nitrite at zero, but Nitrate has gone up to 60ppm.  What is an acceptable level of nitrate for Moorish Idols?  <Yowza!  Even at diminutive sizes, such a small tank is a cruelty to these actively swimming fishes!  Please don't add any more before upgrading.  I don't think that nitrates at their current level are too much of a concern, and even if you controlled them better it would not likely improve the statistical prognosis for your MI.> All been fine since purchasing the Moorish Idol.  He has been eating extremely well, eating dried seaweed, fish flake and his favourite Reef Gel with a selection of Mysis, Artemia and muscles mixed in with a few drops of vitamins supplement.  He even ate out of my fingers from day 2 of owning him.  But around a week ago he started not to eat which after reading many of your articles is a familiar sight. :((  So obviously very concerned for the welfare of my fish I bought all sorts of food stuff I could think of and what was recommended here on your site.  I bought Pellet foods, Frozen Angel Food with sponge in it and also live Brine Shrimp.  At the same time as trying the new foods, I have been putting in Amquel+ to make sure the water quality is the best I can do incase the non feeding was down to that.  After more than 5 days of worry, he finally started to eat again on live Brine Shrimp.  He only ate 2 shrimps but it was a start.  Then the next day he ate 4-5.  And today to my amazement, he must have eaten over 15-20 of the shrimps in a space of a minute.  And he has 2 more feeds to go today.  Best its been for over a week.  He even ate more than my Sohal Tang, which to be honest takes some beating. :))  <The return of an appetite is encouraging.  If this correlated with a decrease in nitrates, then perhaps nitrate control will be beneficial.  Please see here for my discussion of marine aquarium filtration.  Power filters and trickle filters make nitrate control a challenge:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm> I will obviously keep you all updated with how he progresses and let you know if he eats the other food stuff I bought.  But what I am pleased to say is that when a Moorish Idol stops taking an interest in feeding, its not always the case he wont ever eat again and perish away.  I know am still in early days but I will continue to look after him so he at least enjoys his life.  I just hope that if anyone has the same problem as myself, they maybe able to use the information I have provided above and hope it works as well as it has for me.  If I manage to find any more tricks to keep the Moorish Idols alive and happy I will of course share it with all of you.  <Thank you for sharing your experience and please do keep us updated.  For the benefit of anyone reading this in the future, I will say that just as a hunger strike does not spell certain doom, a good appetite does not ensure long term captive survival.  Also, and perhaps more importantly.... occasional and unrepeatable (and generally unexplainable) successes do not justify the casual purchase of specimens well known to be difficult to maintain.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

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 petstore . 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 Swelling of the Mouth  8/16/05 All, <One> Let me first say thanks for all the extremely valuable information you have provided me over the past year.  I never would have attempted saltwater keeping if it wasn't for the information provided at your site. <Welcome> My problem is this:  I have a 150 gal FOWLR tank with the following inhabitants: 1 Moorish Idol 1 Cinnamon Clown 1 Yellow Tang 1 Hippo Tang 1 Diamond Watchman Goby 1 Flame Hawkfish 1 Fire Goby 1 6 Line Wrasse 1 Cleaner Shrimp 1 Pygmy Angel Several Mushroom corals Several Leather Corals 150lbs. of live rock Lighting is provided by 4 96W compact fluorescent lamps (2 actinic and 2 10000K) The water parameters are: PH 8.2 Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 20 S.G. 1.022 Temp 78 The problem I am having is twofold.  First, My Moorish Idol has stopped eating. <Common> It came with the tank I purchased 14 months ago.  I would not otherwise own one as I know how they acquire these specimens. <Mmm, actually... have collected Zanclus... in Hawai'i, Mexico... they're caught with hand and fence nets, the same as most tropical marine fishes>   The previous owners said it has always eaten great and I have not had any problems with it either, until now.  It seems to have some sort of swelling in its mouth. <Not good> Its breathing is faster that usual.  He doesn't have any signs of trauma anywhere.  I usually alternate feeding him Mysis shrimp and Formula Two mixed together and some homemade fish food I purchase at my LFS once a day. My question is:  How can I tell what is wrong with him and what can I do to treat it. <... not easily done... if you're referring to root cause/s> All the other inhabitants of the tank are doing fine, with the exception of my star polyps, which brings me to my second question.  A couple of months ago, they began retreating and they have all but vanished. What was once a very large carpet of polyps is now only a few individual polyps.  My water parameters have stayed constant the entire time I have owned the tank.  I do a 35% water change every 3 weeks.  It seems as if algae has been growing over the polyps, cutting them off.  I am not sure, but I think I have high levels of Phosphate in the water, but do not know for sure because I do not own a test for it. <You might invest...>   Even with regular water changes, the algae seems to be taking over.  I used to feed twice a day, then cut back because my nitrates increased.  I am at a loss as to why my polyps and Idol have both "gotten ill" within a couple of months of each other. Thanks John Banks <Very likely all related... I would read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/po4faqs.htm and on to the files on Algae, their control, and look into/purchase some Spectrum pelleted foods (about the only thing I've seen Idols eat universally), and improving your water quality period... and quickly. Adding a live sump, some new live rock... Bob Fenner>

Re: Moorish Idol Swelling of the Mouth 8/17/05 I forgot to mention that I have an Amiracle skimmer in an Amiracle sump with bio-balls as the biological filtration.  I also run an Eheim filter with carbon and ceramic filter media. Thanks <I would get rid of the bio-balls, likely trade in the canister filter... More troubles in the way of water quality... Please see WWM re. BobF>

Feeding Moorish Idol Hi Bob, I have a MI, and I am having problems getting him to feed, any advice would be great. I have a 160 gal tank.  I have had the fish for about two weeks, he picks at my live rock, but refuses to eat anything I offer him, yet he seems to be fine. Cheers Jim. <This is going to sound VERY odd, but do try Spectrum Fish Food... yes... pellets... Have seen these eaten by Zanclus... know Pablo Tepoot, the maker... have seen his that are fed on this exclusively... Works. Bob Fenner> 

- Feeding Moorish Idol, Follow-up - Hi Bob, <JasonC here in his stead.> Thanks for the advice on my Moorish Idol. I will try the pellets. I was reading about the guy who used some sort of clip with a bag attached? he put muscle in it, do you know where I can get one of these items.  <I don't exactly but would avail yourself to the online retailers... also perhaps improvise. Are many types of feeding clips out there.> Cheers Jim. <Cheers, J -- >

- Moorish Idol Popeye - Hey guys,  I lost your reply about my Idol but thought I better give you an update.  I wrote to you on Jan 18 and stated that my Idol had severe Popeye in both eyes.  He hadn't eaten in about 2 weeks at the time.  Just this week he started eating again and is eating vigorously.  One eye is still terrible and he appears to be blind in it. <Bummer.> The other eye is pretty good now but he can't seem to pinpoint his food very well.  He tries hard though and eventually gets it.  Maracyn didn't seem to work and neither did  Furan-2. <The causes of Popeye aren't always bacterial... and in those cases Maracyn and Furan compounds won't do anything to help.> Prayer was the best option. PS:  you said that they are best viewed in the wild--I agree.  My wife and I both have dove the Kohala and Kona Coasts of Hawai'i and they are magnificent.  Moorish Idol lovers, don't give up. <I'm sorry, but I just don't agree... when 99% of these fish that are caught for use as pet fish, die... something ain't right. Hope things work out for you and your Moorish Idol, but having dived with them myself, I just can't encourage anyone to keep them. Cheers, J -- >

- Sick Moorish Idol - I have a Moorish idol who has Popeye (BOTH eyes protruding badly) and I have him quarantined in a 29 gallon tank giving him Maracyn 2 as prescribed and monitoring the water parameters rigorously. Prior to this he was a voracious eater; seaweed, plankton, Formula 2, Cyclop-eeze--he wasn't picky after the initial no-eating stage. Question:  How long can a fish like this survive without eating since he hasn't eaten in about a week? <Probably not much more than two weeks... in the wild these fish are fat and eat constantly. If yours wasn't holding its weight, then your mileage will vary.> His eyes are marginally better but he is relatively blind since the extreme protrusion.  Is he possibly beyond the point of no return? <I hate to say it but it's very possible.> I know from my African Cichlids that a brooding female may not eat for a solid month and do just fine but Mr. Zanclus is a pretty thin profiled fish even when healthy. <If this fish was thin to begin with, then the outlook isn't good.> Beautiful fish, hate to lose, please advise. <You need to see these in the wild... rarely see one that isn't eating. If you can provide a constant source of algae, other foods, you stand a better chance of keeping these. Very challenging fish to have for any period of time. I wish I had better news for you... am hoping that things improve. Cheers, J -- >

Moorish Idols This is not so much a question as an observation regarding Moorish Idols. Given how difficult of a fish they can be to keep, even for experienced aquarist, I thought I'd pass on some insights I've had on keeping them over the past few years. First off, don't even consider purchasing an Idol unless you have a 150 gal or larger tank. I have a 5 year old, 150 gal reef tank with Acroporas, Montiporas, etc.... The swimming patterns these fish deserve is compromised with anything smaller. You might get away with it in the first 6 months, but, I guarantee the fish will waste away eventually. This is a very sensitive fish, and tank ergonomics are very important to it acclimating efficiently. Again, there might be exceptions, but it will be rare. Also, just as important to the size of the tank, is the way the tank is aquascaped. If you have it overloaded with coral and rock, the Idol will not be able to swim in a normal manner- long, graceful slow turns in varying directions. My 150 is a custom design set up with a depth is 30 inches. Even with my configuration, I feel this tank is still on the small side for a med- large MR. Additionally, you need sufficient live rock to help the MR eat during it's acclimatization. Rarely, will an Idol eat right away anything prepared etc. Again, it does happen that they do, but rarely. As for a way I found to help a very finicky eater transition to prepared food- here it goes. Over the first month the fish would not even look at anything I put in the tank- I tried everything from Nori to frozen sponge, flakes, pellets. It wasn't until I took some frozen Angel Food from (it has sponge in it) and placed it in a specially designed clip that has a kind of plastic net attachment and placed a couple of cubes in the netting and set the clip into my rock work. Since almost all Idols pick at rock, the food was displayed naturally and he went for it. Then I placed some Nori in the clip and set it into the rock with the same results. I did this for a couple of days, and then placed the clip and suctioned it to the side of the glass-He continued to go after it. Finally, to make this process work really easy, I have the clip attached to a little bit of fishing line that is secured to the top of the tank, which makes accessing the clip a breeze. My MR has been living a year and has gotten enormous. One other thing to mention, don't have any aggressive fish in the tank as the MR rarely are aggressive and will get bullied. I hope this helps anyone who is considering getting an MR Rich Heisen <Thank you for your input. Will share. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol Feeding Tips Hi, <Hello! Ryan Bowen in your aid today.>      I recently added a Pseudanthias lori (Anthias), after his initial period of hiding he came out and was then promptly chased around the tank by my Paracirrhites forsteri Hawkfish. <Odd, but not unheard of> This was unexpected because they are both around 3 inches in length and the Hawkfish has never bothered the more mouth-sized fish like the small Chromis' and clowns in my tank. I removed the Hawkfish to a 20 gallon tub (which only has airstones and LR in it - will he be alright in there?)<Check pH, and perform frequent water changes using tank water> and am wondering will the Hawkfish still chase the Anthias if I return him to the main tank in a few days, if no, how long do you think I could maintain the Hawkfish in the 20 gallon tub (with some upgrades to it) while I organize a more suitable home? <I think that a re-introduction is in order, as long as you have re-arranged the rockwork a bit.  This is certainly a territory battle, and now your Anthias may be bit more defensive.> I recently asked you guys (I think it was Steve) some advice on a Moorish Idol that was eating Spectrum pellets, after your response, which was to maybe give it a go, I took up the challenge and after 7 weeks my Idol is looking good. (I have even documented everything in case I succeed) My Idol still eats mainly Spectrum pellets (around 60 pellets a day, for a large juvenile-3.inches long), but after a couple of weeks I taught him to eat Nori sushi seaweed off the water surface, he seems to prefer the Nori to the pellets and given the opportunity he will stuff himself on the Nori instead of the pellets. I usually feed him his pellets first, then his Nori (which I give him on and off between main meals) but I have been thinking (mostly comparing to tang and angel diets) that he may need a higher percentage of Nori then pellets, what do you guys think? <I think that him eating anything is a miracle.  I would use Selcon soaked Nori, as opposed to pellets if possible.  Also, you may want to look for other types of algae formed in mats (red varieties also available, and are important nutrients to include in his diet.  Have you considered using refugia to grow fresh algae for him?> Also, after noticing my Idol slowly (over weeks) pick at a small sponge, I have been trying to get my hands on a commonly eaten sponge to supplement his diet, could you recommend one, preferably a commonly abundant species. <I'd look for frozen foods with sponge content...Some angel composites contain sponge, with mussels, clams, and algae.  Great stuff.> I was also thinking about getting into breeding (gold-banded maroon clowns, neon gobies and Dottybacks) and was wondering if you could recommend any books? <You'd better start with Martin Moe, he's wonderfully simple and precise.>                                                                          Thanks for your advice and your brilliant site - Chris <Anytime Chris!  Ciao, Ryan>

Moorish Idols (6/25/04) Hi Steve, <Howdy> My original attachment was quite large, but I tried to send one which was less then 200kb and it still didn't work, I just thought you might like to know. <Thanks, this has been a problem for a few folks recently. Do try again.> While I'm e-mailing you I was wondering, I was in at the LFS today (returning my Vermiculated Angel from my earlier question) and they had a number of fat, active and healthy looking Moorish Idols. The surprising thing was they were eating Spectrum (by New Life) pellets quite greedily. <Promising> I have never even considered getting a Moorish Idol but after seeing eating specimens, I'm am having second thoughts. I was wondering will Spectrum pellets be enough nutrition for this fish, my tank is full of LR and I do have a reasonable selection of macro-algae and half my LR is spotted with red 'fire sponge'? <This food has a good reputation. Combined with other foods, one would think the fish would get adequate nutrition, but Idols have been known to waste away and die despite "eating well." Perhaps some essential nutrient is missing. It could be like the early sailors who thought that they were taking adequate food along and then died of scurvy for want of a few oranges.> I am also in the process of ordering a large refugium for plankton, pods and macro-algae, I'm sure it will take some time to get a reasonable growth of algae (I was planning to add a MH light to the refugium, is this necessary? <Probably overkill. I've found power compacts to work quite well. Search the FAQs for info on lighting refugiums.>) but would it be possible to harvest this algae for Idol in the future, or is time an issue. <You might be able to get it to eat Sea Veggies. You could also order a large quantity of Gracilaria or Ulva from www.inlandaquatics.com or www.ipsf.com and use a clip to feed it. You may also be able to obtain macroalgae starters from local marine aquarists at a club swap.> I'm not likely to get this fish and I can guess what your answer will be but I thought that maybe an eating Moorish Idol may be to good to pass up. <Well, I don not normally encourage keeping these, but some people do succeed. There are a few more question to consider too. How long have they been at the dealer? Maybe you should keep an eye on them for a while to be more certain that they continue to eat well and look healthy.> Also are there any known compatibility issues with Moorish Idols, I only have 2 O-clowns, a Fire Goby and my mystery Hawkfish. <I would not anticipate problems with these fish, depending on the size of your tank. Needs to be at least 125G. Aggressive tankmates like Triggers are a definite no-no.> Sorry about slipping in that extra question <no problem> but I just couldn't stop thinking about them and after spending hours researching Idols it seems that if you do have an eating specimen, there is a chance. <Yes. empting indeed. If you continue to see healthy feeding, and are willing to put the effort into maintaining this fish, you might just succeed.> Thanks in advance for your advice and generally for your great site <an honor to play a small part in this>, I will try to re-send the pics in a week or so <sounds good> - Chris.

Moorish Idol Hello, <Hi Scott> It seems this past week I have leaned much about feeding tricks for many finicky eaters. <That's wonderful, always good to learn.> Today I purchased a Moorish Idol.  When I went to the store I was just looking into getting a hang on refugium.  Well I did get it and then I saw the most beautiful  Moorish Idols I have ever seen in captivity. <Truly wonderful fish, shame they often do not do well in captivity.  Might I recommend also that you take a look at the FAQs on the website? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm> I asked one of the workers if they were eating and he said yes and even showed me.  Only 2 weren't eating the food but were pecking ate seaweed and gravel.  I decided to go with the smallest one that was most active, eating the most, and was in over all good condition.  Along with the refugium I bought some frozen brine and plankton.  I took the Idol home.  Acclimated him for just under an hour.  He started to look around the tank and some of the fish were very interested in the new arrival.  Even the clowns came up to him! So I decided to feed half a cube of the plankton and brine to keep the other fish occupied while the Idol got adjusted. <Good strategy. Although I have to wish you had quarantined him. You just never know what they might be carrying.> I poured the food in and the clowns took some the wrasse nibbled at it pleasingly and the tangs was so excited to see new food.  As it got midway in the tank I was very surprised to see the Idol come to the food and start to eat it! <Very good> I am sooo happy.  He ate the most in the tank, and since his 6 hour arrival I have kept feeding  him tiny proportion every 2 hours so he fattens up. I know brine is not a good choice, but one the Idol get adjusted I am planning to slowly switch to Mysis and plankton. <I would suggest that you put Selcon and/or other types of vitamins on the brine to give them some nutrition.> I hope this is some help to anyone who is as crazy as me to buy The Moorish Idol.   From: Scott in Canada. <Good luck Scott, MacL>

Pablo Tepoot's "Spectrum" Fish Foods and Zanclus Hi Bob et al,  <Cheryl>  We are looking to purchase some of the Pablo Tepoot's "Spectrum" Fish Foods - We live in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Do you know where we can get this?  <Check out Pablo's site and contact him re: http://www.nlpublish.com/ >  Fortunately (or unfortunately) we have purchased a Moorish Idol that has been doing well for us in our 90 gal. tank. He was at the fish store for about 2-3 weeks. He was not well in the beginning, but after the 3 weeks he looked great and was eating a variety of foods.  <Very good>  Being that he was already at the store, we decided to take him and give him as good a chance as we could (we have been keeping fish now for about 10 years with good success). I do agree we should leave them in the ocean (we had the pleasure of snorkeling in Hawaii this year and we saw large numbers of them! - Stunning I might add), but once at the store....  His top fin (streamer) was gone, but he is growing it back well. We have had him in our tank now for about 3 weeks and all seems well. I would like to get the food that you recommend as you have the best advice out there! At present we are feeding brine shrimp, Mysis, blood worm, some fresh Caulerpa, and some flake food. He is picking at the rocks and eating at some of the sponge in the tank.  Many thanks in advance.  Cheryl & Joe Vandal  <Sounds like a "winner" specimen... doing well in your care. Do try the Spectrum food... amazing in its acceptance and nutrition. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol/Moving To Larger Aquarium 3/26/04 Good Morning Crew from PA  The move to the larger aquarium has been accomplished and was uneventful.  All the original livestock has settled in and seem to be enjoying the new digs.  My yellow tang was a little stressed for a few days but has settled in doing fine.  ONCE AGAIN, I CANNOT THANK ALL OF YOU ENOUGH. <Glad you have benefited from WWM!> This was a big step for us.  When all is well you hate to disturb things but to make improvements sometimes you have too.  This has been one of the most wonderful projects my husband and I have done together, with your help it was a year+ of learning and tremendous pleasure.  To have these creatures in our home is truly special.  Nothing like freshwater hobby (have had them for some 30+ years). Do have a question!  Have always been attracted to the Moorish Idol.  Have not been able to find out much about them.  I know they are finicky to keep but with some effort CAN they be kept healthy in captivity?  If it is only a matter of some effort I wouldn't mind but if they stressed or unable to be fed that is a different matter. If it is within reason I would like to try! Your advise please fellows. Regards Ceil Wagaman <Moorish Idols are very difficult, but it really isn't just a matter of effort.  Many won't eat, and even those that do still fail to thrive.  Getting a healthy specimen is extremely critical to success.  Specimens from Hawaii have the best chance.  Specimens from elsewhere should be totally avoided.  It takes a special LFS to be able to trust that you are truly getting a Hawaiian fish.  Diet must be varied but be heavy in marine algae.  Large amounts of live algae on substrate is beneficial if not critical for success.  Aggression by tankmates will almost certainly lead to death.  Overall, any attempt to keep this beautiful fish should be well researched and very thoughtfully carried out.  Best Regards!  Adam>

Moorish Idol Hi, Bob I have a 135G tank with 120lbs of live rock, 11/2in. substrate live sand), 30G sump and protein skimmer. I recently added 2 Moorish idols in the tank that has 2 damsels, 1 Foxface, 1yellow tang, 1goat fish, 1parrot fish, 1diamond watchman, 1copper band, 1 niger trigger, and 1eblis angel. Of all the fish I have in my tank, Foxface is the one I thought would be safest towards MI. Well, am I wrong about that. Foxface is the only one that is bothering MI.. especially when they are trying to nibble the LR. Other than that MI is doing well except .......................Do MI. sleep? <Yes... they "settle on the bottom and turn to whitish overall" during the night> I have never seen them in their sleep mode. Is it normal for MI. ? Any information would help. Thank you Bob Jo <Hope yours is eating. If not, and this may seem odd, do look into Pablo Tepoot's "Spectrum" pelleted fish food. I have visited with Pablo and seen in first person that Zanclus inhale his food. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol   I have a 7 month old 75 gallon tank, 80 pounds of sand,  40 pounds of live rock, a skimmer, filter, UV sterilizer, 6-line wrasse, Purple Tang, Kole Tang, 2 Percula Clownfish and 1 Banggai Cardinal fish. I was wanting to try a Moorish Idol as my LFS gets them in every week and they said the odd one doesn't eat.  Could I try this in the near Future? Thanks From Canada, Akira <The odd one lives... I would wager more than 99% are dead w/in a month of collection. Good luck to you. Bob Fenner>

Moorish idols - 1/30/04 Hey, <Hey> First off your site is the best on the net and is very helpful. <Thank you for participating> I have a 75 gallon tank and was wondering if I could add a pair off Moorish idols in the tank in a year or so. <A pair in a 75 is a no go. Too small an environment for such a big adult fish (9-11 inches) As a matter of fact, I wouldn't choose even one fish for a 75 gallon, to be honest. Just too restricting> In that time the setting will be as follows:  80 pounds of live rock,  1 six line wrasse, 1 purple tang, 1 Banggai cardinal fish, 2 percula clownfish, possible some Firefish and some additional invertebrates. <Seems to me that this will be a little tight. Not to mention, too many Moorish Idols die just to get one to your tank (that will likely still be disadvantaged due to stress, feeding, amongst the other givens like water quality and room enough to roam for a large fish such as this.> I would be getting an automatic feeder to feed new life spectrum 4 times a day and be feeding brine shrimp and Selcon, seaweed and some other additional foods. <admirable> will this work? <I would rather you try a different fish as I think this will ultimately lead to death. Worth a try if you must, but I would only try one and maybe leave some of the other fish on the list out of the scenario. Moorish Idols are slightly aggressive in pairs and trios in confined spaces. I know that in the ocean they have been known to move in "schools" but....well......that is the ocean. Our tanks are far from that, eh?? Do your research, here. Look through our site, forums, magazines, reef clubs, other sites and any literature you can find. Be informed as knowledge is half the battle. ~Paul> Thanks Akira.

Marine dips/baths, Zanclus Robert Fenner, I just realized that you're the author of what has been my bible over the past few months. Duh... That was where I found out about the Methylene blue. I have another question for you.  What can I do as far as "decontaminating" a fish that is too large to quarantine in my 10g? <An extended dip/bath... you may benefit from reading through the articles and associated FAQs files here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm the blue items at top are links> (other than setting up another quarantine tank). My local aquarium is breaking down an exhibit that has had a Moorish idol in it happily for over a year and I told them I would take it since I have plenty of room in my tank. But I do not think it would be very happy sitting in my 10 g for 2-3 weeks. <I agree with you. Best to give it a dip/bath and place it in the main/display tank ASAP... slightly reduced spg, matched pH... perhaps a little Formalin and/or copper sulphate> Do you have any ideas? Oh and I treated the other fishes (in quarantine) with malachite green/Formalin and all spots seem to be gone. thank you again, Jessa <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine dip/baths cont.  Bob Fenner, Yep, I read that one and came to the conclusion that the Methylene blue/FW dip would be best, but it doesn't seem like something I could do as an extended dip, I just really don't want to mess this up. This is really a magnificent fish.  I what I am asking you is what would you do? I trust your opinion. Jessa <1-2 minute dip/bath... then into the main tank. Bob Fenner>

How Much Moor Moorish Idol? >This isn't meant to get anyone to try keeping them, but upon reading your FAQ's on the Moorish Idol, I just had to send a message to you stating that I personally have been keeping one in my 90 G aquarium for over a year now, without any signs of stress or disease. >>Well, share your secret, will you?  And while we're at it, let's shoot for ten! >He is quite chubby, and has a healthy appetite. He eats everything I've offered, from frozen, to flake, to whatever!  I THINK HE'D EAT CAT FOOD IF I PUT IT IN THE TANK!! >>LOL!  Are you SURE it's a Moorish Idol?  Could you have purchased a mutant?  ;) >I started him out eating a paste that I made out of spongiform, shrimps, and algae, placed in half a bivalve shell. >>Your own recipe, or did you find this somewhere?  Did it take much experimentation?  How was the fish when you first purchased him?  Size at purchase?  So on and so forth makes the story so much better (and gives others who might think they have the skill a good place to start, eh?). >Once he started to feed in the aquarium, it was off to the races, (or should I say feed store?! ). Anyway, I would like to say GOOD LUCK to anyone that endeavors to keep such an animal. >>Indeed, but my friend, you and I know that it takes MUCH more than good luck, don't you agree?  This additional information would be quite helpful should you care to share. >The only reason I tried is because I'd heard about the food trick, and found him at a reasonable price. Other than that, I won't argue with the fact that they should probably be left in the sea. Thanks for your time. If you'd like to contact me about what I use in my tanks as far as nutrients, or for feeding fish, please feel free to reply. >>I do, I did, and I will.   >Take care. Happy fishkeeping.  Chuck "Guitornado" Norbury >>Yourself as well.  Marina

- Moorish Idol Food - Hey guys!, As I was reading some of your questions on Moorish idols I stumbled over one guy talking about he had this mixture recipe he feeds his idol and it works real good.  I'm wondering because I have an idol who on the second day at ALL the sponges in the aquarium and is still eating lots of life on the live rock.  So if you got a reply on the recipe would u be so kind to tell me the secret ingredients!? Thanks a lot Scott <Well Scott, the answer was right there in the FAQ. Here's the snippet from the FAQ: "I started him out eating a paste that I made out of spongiform, shrimps, and algae, placed in half a bivalve shell." There you have it. Cheers, J -- >

Moorish Idol  This site has got to be my biggest find on the internet yet! <thanks> I am an apprentice in marine fish. I have 50 gallon new system and have purchased a Moorish Idol and a red snapper. Question? My Moorish Idol turns black or green over night (from his original yellow and black. To be honest he looks terrible. <I have never observed Moorish idols over night and have never kept a specimen myself but I do know that many fish exhibit color changes during the night time hours my (Naso vlamingi) tangs turn a very dark color at night> Once I turn the lights back on he returns to normal within minutes. any idea why this happens. We have had "Shirley for a couple of months now and this has just started. <This just started? if he is still eating and acting relatively normal I would not be concerned> I have no live vegetation in my tank? PS Could you recommend what other fish I could introduce comfortably?<In a 50 gallon aquarium I would just keep these two fish, do you know the adult size of the snappers? They get huge...many get at least 12" easily> I had no Idea the Idol was so hard to care for, or that the snapper was so aggressive to smaller fish<good luck, IanB> Thank you - Trevor in Canada  <<Natural nocturnal behavior. RMF>>

- Pump Gone Bad - Fish Gone Dead - <Hi, David, JasonC here...> I screwed up and let the sump get low enough to where the main pump lost it's prime. The tank (125 reef) sat like that for maybe 36 hrs with only small powerheads for circulation. When I awoke this morning I found the flame angel dead and the Moorish idol is in bad shape. <Oh no... sorry to hear this.> Before you criticize, the idol is not new, I have had him well over a year and he is (was) in excellent health. <Am familiar with this/your fish. A real bummer.> Anyway I had to tear the reef apart to get him out and have him in a barrel with 5 gals tank water and 10 gals of water I had on reserve, with a strong air release. I added Amquel+ to the barrel. If I keep him upright and moving or just create a current with my hand he stays upright, but when I stop he falls to his side within a few minutes. <Doesn't sound good at all...> He may be too far gone but if there is anything I can do please let me know. <I think you've done just about all you can do... I would keep to this program until all hope is lost or the situation improves.> - D <Best of luck. Cheers, J -- >

New aquarium. Moorish Idol   Hi I need lots of help. I currently have a 80 gallon tank that is a fish only with live rock and a 4" deep live sand bed. I have had it for one year and been keeping fish for 4 years with good success.<sounds good> I am in the process of upgrading to a 180 gallon it is not drilled for a sump. What type of filters do you recommend?<I would still get a wet/dry filter along with a protein skimmer> I wanted to have the same setup I have now (live rock, sand).<you can do this too!> I was planning on a refugium (H.O.T.) with micro algae & miracle mud.<that works> I also wanted a Moorish idol fish, and in all the articles I have read I read they are picky eaters what should I feed it (exact brands and products would be very helpful)?<I would not purchase this fish, first of all they rarely live. even advanced aquarists have tons of trouble keeping these things, they are best left in their natural environment> One more question can I keep a emperor angel a blue tang, blonde Naso tang and a pair of percula clowns in the same tank? <yes in the 180, but I would exclude the Moorish idol> Thanks for your advice I think it will be very helpful.<good luck, IanB>

"The Undiscovered Country"  (Keeping Difficult Animals) ScottF: <Hi there again, Steve!> I strongly agree with your advice not to buy Moorish Idols. Just because one has been "fine" in someone's tank for many months does not mean it is actually in good health. <Yep! And, unfortunately, as hobbyists we are often lulled into believing that because someone has managed to keep a difficult fish like this alive for some time, they have "mastered" its care where all other hobbyists and many public aquariums have failed. We are often on the "cutting edge" of husbandry with marine animals, but we need to really study the requirements of such animals before we experiment with them...Keeping a fish that lives 10-20 years in the wild for 1, 2, or even 5 years does not constitute success, IMO> Fish often seem "fine" up to the moment they die. A friend of mine who was bragging about how healthy his was and how much it was eating found it dead one morning after about six months. Probably starved slowly. <An all too common experience...> All tests normal and all other fish fine in this long-established large tank. I'm  beginning to feel the same way about Chelmon rostratus personally. I had a 5" one that was thriving--eating a large variety of foods vigorously and active--for several months. One morning he was leaning dead against a rock. Had responded normally and eaten well the night before. <Yeah...this is not an uncommon experience with these fishes. There must be some sort of dietary issue that we are not solving, even with the best captive diets, and with excellent water conditions. Some fishes simply do not adapt to captive life. We need to really research the academic studies on such animals, and perhaps we can glean more about what they need to thrive in captivity...With the vast knowledge out there on the internet, and the many discussion boards out there, many of these mysteries can be solved> All other fish remain fine and all tests normal.  Steve Allen. <Well, Steve- I'm glad that you share this philosophy! As hobbyists, we have a responsibility to the animals that we keep, and to the wild reefs. It's important to continue to push the "state of the art" in aquariology, but we need to do it in a highly disciplined, controlled manner, with a complete understanding of the ecology of the animal in question. Most important, never forget to share your successes (and failures, for that matter!) with your fellow hobbyists. Together, maybe we can unlock some of the mysteries that may make it possible to keep these challenging animals for their natural life spans. And THAT is success! Here's to the future, the "Undiscovered Country" (Yikes! I've been watching too many "Star Trek" movies...!) Regards, Scott F>

- Missing Info? - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/moorish_idols.htm Is this all there is to this article? I'm getting one tiny paragraph and 2 pictures on this page... I thought there was more...? <Not in my recollection. As a rule, we don't recommend these fish for captive use although sadly they do show up in the trade from time to time. Leaving data off the page is a one way to discourage their use... do look at the FAQs beyond to see some tales of woe. By the by, was diving here in Hawaii today with these fish and really feel that if you want to see/admire this fish you should learn to dive and see them where they live... big, fat and healthy unlike many that I've seen in captivity.> Thanks, Luke <Cheers, J -- >

Moorish Idol - new food from Florida? Hi, I was hoping I could keep a Moorish Idol. <Not easily done historically> So far, anyone I've talked to says they are impossible to keep. I was told at one of my local aquarium stores that some company in Florida came out with this awesome new food just for Moorish Idols and apparently it greatly enhances the chances of keeping one. Is that true? Have you heard of it? <Likely you're referring to Spectrum (food) by New Life (Pablo Tepoot). A very good food, and Pablo has told me (on several occasions) how he has been able to raise Idols on it> Is the food the only thing preventing Moorish Idols from being kept in a tank or is it something else (water quality? some water nutrient? perhaps specific coral or disease?) Thank you, Luke <In my estimation, Zanclus just are "naturally disadvantaged" in the amount of stress, strain they can/will tolerate on being collected, held, transported from the wild. Food issues are important, but secondary to contributions to their captive mortality. Bob Fenner.

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 Idols Mr. Fenner, <"Jim, I'm just a doctor". Sorry am an old Star Trek fan> Just wanted to post something regarding a letter in the FAQ on Moorish Idols. One of your other readers mentioned that his had small, dark spots on it's body, particularly in the areas that are yellow. Mine also had those spots. Looked like a flatworm infection or something like that. But he lived for nearly a year (till an unfortunate A/C accident in July sent the tank temp to 95) <Smoking> with those spots, and they never got any worse or seemed to bother him. Never even saw him scratching. Not that I am trying to encourage anyone to buy this delicate animal. I myself have pretty much given up on Idols. In ten years of trying (roughly 9 or 10 fish), two lived and thrived, while the others all perished inside of three weeks. If you can get a healthy, unstressed, undamaged specimen, they make beautiful pets. But the odds are not good, in my experience. Just wanted to supply an answer, since I do have some experience with these. <Agreed entirely. Thank you for your input. Will post for others edification. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Jim Jensen

Bacterial or Parasite Infection? Sad to say, my Idol came down with something and can't figure it out. I'm sending a pic. I treated him with Rally and Melafix, it started as a darkish patch and then the skin peeled away leaving a open sore. Bacterial or Parasite infection? Is it contagious? <clearly not parasitic... bacterial or viral. The above treatments were way too mild. This fish needs serious and strong antibiotics in a hospital tank. If you do not have access to vet prescribed drugs, use a product like Jungle brand "Fungus Eliminator" at double strength for five days with daily water changes and good feeding. Else, find another Furazolidone/Nitrofurazone combination. You should see stabilization or improvement within 3-5 days or another antibiotic may be necessary. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks! Gary Gregory Medford, Oregon

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 Idol Follow-up <<JasonC again.>> I've tried the WWM Moorish idol but to nothing avail there. <<there is admittedly very little there. This fish historically fails miserably to adapt to anything but the most pristine tank conditions in the largest of tanks - it's one of the reasons you don't see many questions about them - very few people buy them.>> By the way what to u think of miracle mud? <<while it is not actually a miracle, it does what they say it does - it works well.>> And your reply is express only 10 min and u reply fm states to s'pore. CHEER!  <<am trying hard. Cheers! J -- >>

Moorish Idol Hi, Bob: Greetings from your most loyal fan in Hong Kong again ! ( I read your column almost every day !!!) <About as often as I write it!> However, I don't find anything much written in your Moorish Idol section. <Not yet... really don't want to encourage people to try this tang relative...> While most people complain Moorish Idols don't feed, mine always have a hearty appetite --he eats anything from pellets to frozen brine shrimps to worms to finely chopped clams. I 've had him for more than a month now. Recently , I have noticed that his body has very fine dark colored spots around his body, particularly on the yellow parts of his body. Thus, he looks dirty. Yesterday, I decided to move him to my hospital tank and put some low levels of CopperSafe. He stopped eating for 1 day, and the next day his appetite returned heartier than ever. However, spots on his body seemed to be the same. He remains a very active swimmer . Kindly advise what disease this is, and if I am doing the right thing. More Power ! <If you have had this specimen for a month and it is eating well, you are definitely "doing the right things"... I consider that the darkening, markings might well be transitory... and wouldn't worry about them> On a separate matter, can you recommend some good sites which discuss more extensively about groupers? <Wish I could. If you find such, please send them along to place as links on the appropriate (serranid) sections of WetWebMedia.com> Warm Regards. Richard Fan <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

ITCHING FINGERS AGAIN Dear Bob, So far, both the Moorish Idol and Melon BF are still alive. Melon has started to take some bite out of brine shrimp but Moorish not eating at all but picking live rock, especially sponges. The MI has started bickering and I may have made a mistake in obtaining 3 instead of one. The guy at the LFS may be right that they are schooling fishes but 3 is probably too few. Will keep you posted in a few days time. <Okay> I need an advice from you. I have just started a 30 gal today specially for the Pinnatus batfish and maybe some seahorse and pipefish. In your opinion, if I only have limited time i.e.. 2 times of feeding regime, it is enough for the seahorse or should I forego the intention. This tank will have lots of LR and Caulerpa. <It's too small for these three species> I am also thinking of either keeping the Meyer BF or the Ornate BF. What's your pick? <For? Neither for captivity... for difficulty? Both. For looks? The ornatissimus> Thank you in advance. <Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idols Hello Robert, Recently I was given a Moorish Idol (yesterday, lol) . And although I have been reluctant to ever buy one , my girlfriend gave it too me. I understand that they are almost impossible to keep. Do you have any suggestions. I have a 100 gallon tank. Wet dry filter w/ built in protein skimmer. A magnum, as well as 2 bubble walls for additional aeration. Currently I have a 1 year old lion fish, 2 percula clowns 3 blue damsels, and 2 domino damsels. Its a fish only tank. Any and all suggestions would be wonderful. Taking it back is not an option, she absolutely wont allow me! Please help! <The prognosis isn't good, but a few things might help... do offer a variety of foods including (surprising as it may seem) Pablo Tepoot's Spectrum dried... and add Selcon to it and the tank's water... and do make available new live rock with Ascidian (tunicate) and sponge material as part of it... Good luck. Bob Fenner>

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