Travis Carter's all-time favorite fish are marine Angels. Like so many of
us, he is fascinated by the vivid hues, brilliant patterns, seemingly endless
variety of color schemes, and feisty attitudes displayed by the Pomacentridae.
And rightly so. Many people feel the Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites
diacanthus) is the most beautiful fish in the ocean, with its alternating
vertical bars of white, orange, and black, bright orange tail and chin, and
brilliant blue highlights on its fins. Others would accord that title to
the Majestic Angelfish (Pomacanthus euxiphipops navarchus) or the Emperor
Angel (Pomacanthus imperator). It's hard to beat the elegant
streamlined shape and electrifying colors of a well-marked Queen Angelfish (Holocanthus
ciliaris). Of course, the intensity of the neon blue markings on the
Blue-Ring Angelfish (Pomacanthus annularis) and the Blue-Striped
Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis) have made them the
centerpiece of many a marine aquarium. Certainly a dazzling dwarf
angelfish (Centropyge spp.) is the star attraction of many smaller tanks.
And the rarity and bold markings of the Conspicuous Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus
conspiculatus) make this exotic gem the crown jewel in many collections of
reef fish. Heck, that's one fish that many aquarists will actually design
their entire aquarium system around.
The rarity and bold markings of the Conspicuous
Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus conspiculatus) make this exotic
gem the crown jewel in many collections of reef fish, and this
community tank is no exception..
Even in a tank teeming with angelfish, tangs, and triggerfish, the
Conspicuous Angel shown here is the undisputed ruler of the
aquarium." Photo by Joel Giwojna
But Travis is not your average aquarist.
He was not content to choose one, or two, or even a few of these Angelfish to
grace his aquarium and do without the rest. He wanted to add all of them
to his collection. And then some. And he wanted to keep them all
together in the same aquarium. Peacefully and happily. Along with
assorted Triggerfish, various Tangs, and a bounty of Butterflyfish. In
short, his dream aquarium was an Angelfish community tank.
The problem with this plan is that marine Angels are solitary fish that are
typically found either individually or as mated pairs of the wild. In the
aquarium, they are well-known for their territoriality. As a rule, they
will aggressively defend their turf against members of their own species, are
apt to fight with other angelfish of the same genus, and often extend their
hostility towards any other similar-looking fish of roughly the same size
(Fenner 2004). Consequently, most experts recommend keeping just one
angelfish from any given genus per aquarium. And the best advice is often
to limit yourself to one Angelfish of any kind, which will inevitably emerge as
the top dog of the aquarium and rule the roost with little need to assert its
dominance thereafter (Fenner 2004).
A community aquarium composed primarily of Angelfish would therefore seem to be
out of the question. And sure enough, Travis' initial attempts to
establish an Angelfish community in a traditional aquarium system eventually
failed due to outbreaks of disease. No doubt most aquarists would have
abandoned their overambitious Angelfish project after a few such setbacks.
But Travis is not your ordinary home hobbyist. His passion and zeal for
Angelfish know no bounds, and he was willing to do whatever it takes to make his
impossible dream a reality. When it became obvious that a conventional
approach would not produce the desired results, he was more than willing to try
some unconventional alternatives. With some expert advice from Joel at
Aquatic Environments, a new aquarium system was designed that would "push the
envelope" in a number of ways. If that meant they would be exploring
uncharted territory, blazing new trails, and boldly venturing where few
aquarists had ever gone before, so much the better. And so Travis launched
himself into a new Angelfish adventure with renewed energy and his usual
The first step was to set up a large aquarium with lots of elbow room, provide
an abundance of shelter and hiding pieces, beef up the filtration system, and
institute strict disease prevention measures. A 250-gallon aquarium was
established to serve as the Angelfish community tank and gradually stocked with
fish handpicked by Travis himself over a period of weeks and months.
Live rock arranged to create
labyrinth of caves, arches, and overhanging shelves and ledges
provides natural surroundings and abundant cover for all the
inhabitants of the 250-gallon community tank. Photo by Travis
It is now eight months later and the results thus far have been nothing short of
spectacular! The community tank currently houses no less than 26 different
Angelfish along with dozens of Tangs, assorted Butterflyfish, and seven
Triggerfish, among others. Included among the Angelfish are nine
Pomacanthus species, three Holocanthus
angelfish, and six Centropyge species as well as a number of exotic
Angels from other genera. As you can imagine, the aquarium is absolutely
ablaze with color and activity. It resembles nothing more than a bustling
coral reef scene from a nature documentary, only the swarms of exotic fish are
Angelfish and Tangs and Butterflies, not Damselfish and Anthias, and it's
all taking place in the executive office of US Internet in Minneapolis rather
than a pristine Polynesian reef in the middle of the ocean! Contrary to
what you might expect, there is very little aggression and almost no overt
hostility (for reasons we'll discuss in more detail later). The fish are
all coexisting peacefully, they have retained their brilliant coloration, and
they are always out in the open, actively exploring their surroundings and
boldly displaying themselves. And they are thriving on a staple diet of
assorted pellet foods. They are fat and healthy and many of them have grown
considerably since they were first introduced to the aquarium.
Here is a complete list of the aquarium residents:
1 x 6-7” Conspicuous Angel (Chaetodontoplus conspiculatus)
1 x 5-6" Griffis' Angelfish (Apolemichthys griffisi)
1 x 4-5” Personifer or Queensland Yellowtail Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus
1 x 2-3” Red Sea Regal Angel (Pygoplites diacanthus)
1 x 4-5" Blue-Striped Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis)
2 x 4-5” Pair of Scribbled Angels (Chaetodontoplus duboulayi)
1 x 3-4” Emperor Angelfish juvenile (Pomacanthus imperator)
1 x 3-4” Majestic or Blue-Girdled Angelfish (Pomacanthus euxiphipops
1 x 3-4” Blueface Angel (Pomacanthus euxiphipops xanthometopon)
1 x 4-5” Blue-Ringed Angel (Pomacanthus annularis)
1 x 2-3” Koran Angel juvenile (Pomacanthus semicirculatus)
1 x 2-3” Rock Beauty Angel (Holocanthus tricolor)
1 x 4-5” French Angel (Pomacanthus paru)
1 x 2-3” Queen Angel (Holocanthus ciliaris)
1 x 4-5” Asfur Angel (Pomacanthus asfur)
1 x 2-3” Yellow-Band Angel (Pomacanthus maculosus)
1 x 3-4” Chrysurus or Gold Tail Angel (Pomacanthus chrysurus)
1 x 1-2” King Angel (Holacanthus passer)
1 x 4-5” Flagfin Angel (Apolemichthys trimaculatus)
1 x 3-4" Japanese Pigmy Angelfish (Centropyge interruptus)
1 x 2-3” Orange Lemonpeel Angel (Centropyge flavissimus)
1 x 1-2” Goldflake Angel (Apolemichthys xanthopuntatus)
1 x 3-4" Bicolor or Oriole Angelfish (Centropyge bicolor)
1 x 2-3” Flame Angel (Centropyge loriculus)
1 x 2-3” Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge bispinosus)
1 x 2-3" Indian Headband Butterfly (Chaetodon mitratus)
1 x 2-3" Declevis or Marquesan Butterflyfish (Chaetodon declevis)
4 x 3-5" Red Sea Golden Butterflies (Chaetodon semilarvatus)
3 x 2-3” Purple Tangs (Zebrasoma xanthurum)
1 x 2-3” Power Blue Tang (Acanthurus lucosternon)
1 x 3-4” Blonde Naso Tang (Naso lituratus)
5 x 1-3” Blue Tangs (Paracanthurus hepatus)
1 x 3-4” Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis)
4 x 2-3” Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flaviscens)
1 x 4-5” Clown Trigger (Balistoides conspicillum)
1 x 5-6” female Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento)
2 x 2-3” Blue Throat Triggers (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) -- a M/F pair
1 x 2-3" Humu Humu or Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)
2 x 3-4” Niger Triggers (Odonus niger)
1 x 2-3” Polleni or Harlequin Grouper (Cepholopholis polleni)
1 x 1-2” Flame Hawk Fish (Neocirrhites armatus)
1 x 1-2” Black box fish (Ostacion meleagris)
6 x 2-3” Dragon Gobies (Gobioides broussonetti)
3 x 3-4” Engineer Gobies (Pholidichthys leucotaenia)
That makes a grand total of 66 reef fish in this spectacular community tank,
many of which are rare, highly prized specimens that are difficult to obtain.
Yup, you're correct -- that is indeed an incredible amount of marine fish
to keep in any conventional marine aquarium. But Travis is not a
conventional aquarist and this is not
a traditional aquarium. In this article, we will discuss the factors
that make this unorthodox community tank so successful, and as you will see,
there is method to his madness.
Nothing goes to waste in this tank full of voracious eaters, and the
fish will continue to glean the bottom until nothing edible is left.
Photo by Joel Giwojna
The spectacular fish are the decorations in this
aquarium so they rockwork aquascaping is very simple yet extremely
effective. Photo by Travis Carter
It might surprise you to learn that the cornerstones of this unusual aquarium
system are the same basic principles of good aquarium management that all
hobbyist should follow. Like an entire generation of hobbyists, Travis was
first inspired to become a fish-keeper after reading Bob Fenner's landmark book,
The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. As a Fenner disciple, he is
well-versed in the fundamentals of aquarium keeping. The success of this
Angelfish community tank depends not upon gimmicks but rather on religiously
adhering to the principles of sound aquarium management and carrying them out to
the Nth degree. This includes:
maintaining optimal water quality at all times
providing a highly nutritious, varied diet that features numerous small
feedings spread throughout the day
furnishing a stress-free environment with natural surroundings that provide
abundant shelter and cover for all of the fish
practicing aggressive disease prevention measures
relocating large specimens to more spacious accommodations as they grow.
Let's take a closer look each of these aspects of sound aquarium management as
they apply to this awesome Angelfish community tank in greater detail.
First and foremost, the filtration system for the angelfish community tank is
designed to provide optimum water quality. If you're unable to maintain
good water quality in a heavily loaded aquarium, nothing else that you do will
matter. With that in mind, a 250-gallon aquarium equipped with an equally
large sump was installed in order to provide stable conditions for the community
tank. By equally large, I mean that Aquatic Environments in Minneapolis designed
and installed a Maxi-Sump specifically for this aquarium that takes advantage of
every inch of space under the tank in order to provide a sump/refugium of
maximum possible size. The new sump was custom-made to fit the exact
dimensions of the aquarium stand and then slid into place from above before the
aquarium itself was installed.
The bulk of the nitrification and denitrification for the aquarium are provided
by over 300 pounds of live rock. An oversized custom-made wet/dry trickle
filter supplies supplemental biological filtration to assure that the ammonia
and nitrate levels remain at zero at all times. Anaerobic denitrifying
bacteria in the interior of the porous live rock keep the nitrate levels low by
converting the nitrates to harmless nitrogen gas almost as fast as they are
The Angelfish, Tangs, Butterflies, and Triggerfish in the community aquarium
are all active fish that require high oxygen levels in order to thrive (Fenner
2004). Efficient oxygenation begins with the wet/dry filter that features
a thin film of water slowly trickling over filter media with an ultra-large
surface area, thereby allowing maximum air-water contact. This provides
excellent oxygenation with efficient offgassing, which helps keep dissolved
oxygen levels high and carbon dioxide levels low at all times. An
efficient external protein skimmer equipped with ozone further improves the
water quality and aeration of the aquarium. ORP controllers regulate the
introduction of ozone into the bubble column of the skimmer, continuously
adjusting the oxidation-reduction potential of the aquarium.
A minimum of 100 gallons of saltwater are replaced weekly without fail.
The newly mixed saltwater is made from RO/DI water and is preadjusted to the
same temperature, pH, and salinity as the main tank before the water changes are
performed. This assures that at least 40% of the aquarium water is
replaced every week. The aquarium is equipped with an Aqua Controller
which provides continuous measurements of the pH, ammonia, nitrites, water
temperature and specific gravity on a real-time basis, and additional water
changes are performed whenever the trends indicated by these readings suggests
that it would be beneficial. This exemplary maintenance protocol thus
assures that the water quality in the angelfish community tank remains rock
solid despite the heavy bioload.
Although this is a fish-only system, the water chemistry in the community tank
is monitored and regulated as though it were a reef system to assure that
nothing is overlooked. Aside from the basic water quality parameters, the
carbonate hardness, total alkalinity, and calcium and phosphorus levels in the
aquarium are checked several times a week, which is an important precaution for
marine aquarium that maintains a salinity of only 15 parts per thousand.
The aquarium is dosed with calcium, magnesium and iodine regularly to maintain
optimum levels at all times.
Bottom Feeders: hungry fish scour the bottom for leftover food
granules and pellets. Included here are a scribbled angel,
clown triggerfish, blue-striped angelfish, and a blue-ring angel
among others. Photo by Joel Giwojna
A highly nutritious diet is equally important. Pristine water quality
won't keep the community tank healthy if the fish are malnourished or develop
dietary deficiencies. This is especially crucial for Marine Angelfish
(Pomacanthidae) and Tangs which are prone to characteristic disease problems if
their diet is deficient in key nutrients and vitamins. The most serious of
these are head and lateral line erosion (HLLE) and vitamin A blindness (Fenner
2004). Head and lateral line erosion is associated with a deficiency of
one or more of the following nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium, or
phosphorus. It can effectively be prevented by feeding Angelfish and Tangs
foods high in vegetable fiber and rich in calcium and vitamins C and D.
Similarly, blindness in Marine Angelfish can result from a deficiency of Vitamin
A (Fenner 2004). It is now known that Vitamin A blindness is problematic
in angels that do not receive enough green material in their diets.
Angelfish are particularly prone to such dietary deficiencies because of their
specialized feeding habits in the wild. Many angelfish feed primarily on
sponges and tunicates in the ocean (Marine Angelfish 2007). Angels from
the genus Holocanthus and the genus Pomacanthus, in particular are
habitual sponge grazers in their natural habitat, and it's imperative for their
color and general health to include some sponge-containing material in their
diet (Fenner et al., 2004). Co-enzymes derived from the poriferans in the diets
of these Angelfish are largely responsible for their brilliant, intense
coloration. Consequently, in order for angelfish to retain their vivid
colors and look their best and brightest, their diet should include plenty of
natural color enhancers such as carotenes and xanthophylls. Marine
organisms cannot synthesize these pigments, so if they do not receive adequate
amounts in their diet in a form that's easy for them to absorb, their colors
will fade over time.
Likewise, in order to sustain proper growth and development, juvenile Marine
Angelfish require a diet rich in highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA),
including the DHA omega 6 and omega 3 series, which are extra long chain fatty
acids that are absent in virtually all live and frozen feeds (Giwojna, 2002).
Most marine organisms, angelfish included, cannot synthesize these long chain
fatty acids and must obtain them through their diet. DHA, for instance,
has been proven to be essential to high survivability, nerve development, stress
management, and proper reproduction in fishes (Giwojna, 2002).
Finally, Marine Angelfish are omnivorous, so it's important to provide them with
a varied diet that includes plenty of vegetable matter as well as proteins and
lipids. For best results, experts suggest that fully half of the diet of
Marine Angelfish should consist of plant material (Campbell in Fenner 2004).
Moreover, the vegetable matter and proteins and lipids in their diet need to be
of marine origin so that it can be readily digested and absorbed.
(Laterally compressed fish such as angelfish, butterflies, and tangs are more
prone to constipation, and providing a varied diet rich in vegetable material is
the best way to prevent such problems.)
Providing a suitable diet that meets all of the above requirements was
especially challenging for Travis' Angelfish community tank because it is an
office aquarium. Nobody is there to feed the fish on the weekends or
holidays, so the foods that are provided must be suitable for use in an
automatic fish feeder.
The diet developed by the experts at Aquatic Environments to meet these
demanding feeding requirements is based primarily on a variety of pellet foods
and granulated foods, including products designed for use in commercial
aquaculture as well as for the ornamental fish industry. A mixture of
granulated foods from several different sources that have been derived from
natural marine products and fortified with the proper vitamins and minerals
serves as the staple diet for the angelfish community tank. This is
complemented by daily feedings of vegetable material of marine origin (Nori,
kelp-based sheet algae, and macroalgae) in quantities that amount to roughly 50%
of the fishes' diet.
The following combination of granulated foods was devised to meet the strict
needs and requirements of the angelfish:
Nelson's Silver Cup
Tropical Breeder Feed "Scientific Fry" No.2 (sinking -- 0.84-1.38 mm) for
protein + vitamins A, D, and E.
Ziegler's Salmon Starter
for rapid growth plus additional enrichment and variety.
Ocean Nutrition Formula Two
Marine Pellets (small) for its high vegetable content and stabilized Vitamin
Ocean Nutrition Formula One
Marine Pellets (small) for HUFA, enhanced disease resistance and additional
Boyd's Vita Diet Marine
(slow sinking pellets -- 1.5 mm) for supplemental vitamins and additional
To assure that all of fish get enough to eat every day, eight feedings of these
pellet foods are offered throughout the day, rather than one or two large
feedings. The granulated foods are dispensed by a sophisticated automatic
feeder that includes a fan and a heating element to control humidity and keep
the pellets dry, which effectively prevents clumping, while a photoelectric eye
prevents the pellets from being dispensed after the aquarium lights have been
turned off. Along with the right combination of pellet foods, the proper
proportion of large granules to small food granules is also carefully calculated
for every feeding. The bigger fish naturally concentrate on the largest
food granules, allowing the smaller fish to go after the smallest pellets.
As shown here, the moment the first pellets hit the water, the
entire aquarium explodes in a flurry of activity and erupts in a
riot of colors as gaudy fish rush in from every corner of the tank
and converge at the source of the bonanza. Note: the dark specks and
bright flecks shown in the water column and along the flanks of the
fish are actually the pellets and granulated foods drifting slowly
to the bottom. Photo by Joel Giwojna
Roughly 50% of the fish's diet consists of vegetable matter, so as
you can imagine, there is a lot of competition for algae which gets
chomped down amazingly fast. Photo by Joel Giwojna
In addition to the eight portions of pellet food granules, algae clips are kept
loaded with macroalgae and sheet algae to assure that the fish have something to
graze on throughout the day. Nori and different types of sheet algae are
alternated with occasional feedings of live macroalgae.
To further enhance this "meat and potatoes" staple diet of pellet foods and
vegetable matter, the menu of the fish is supplemented liberally with enriched
frozen Mysis, sponge-containing products, and specialty foods for
angelfish. These frozen food supplements include the sponge-based Angel
Formula by Ocean Nutrition as well as their Pigmy Angel Formula, which is
designed especially for
Centropyge angelfish. The frozen Mysis is enriched with
Vibrance One, which includes a potent immunostimulant (beta-glucan), pure
Astaxanthin and other color-enhancing carotenoids, water-soluble vitamin C, and
various other essential vitamins and minerals in the proper proportions.
Regular feedings of the fortified Mysis, sponge material, and Angelfish formulas
are offered during the working week.
All things considered, this feeding regimen has proven to be very successful.
It has good variety, a high content of vegetable fiber in easily digestible
form, and is designed specifically to meet the unique dietary requirements of
angelfish. It's highly nutritious, rich in protein and highly unsaturated
fatty acids to promote good growth, and fortified with the vitamins and minerals
necessary to prevent head and lateral line erosion and vitamin A blindness.
Best of all, the fish eat the various foods that comprise their diet with great
gusto. They attack them aggressively and devour their specially prepared
Even the pellet foods, which comprise the bulk of their daily diet, are eagerly
eaten. This is surprising because several of the fish in the community are
considered notoriously finicky eaters that are difficult to feed in captivity,
and which typically ignore granulated foods and other prepared food products.
That's not the case in this aquarium. All of the fish in the angel
community tank devour food pellets like there was no tomorrow.
Several possible reasons for this come to mind. For one thing, all of the
granulated foods are derived from natural marine products. So although
they may be in unnatural form, they smell good and taste good; once the fish
have sampled them, they immediately recognize the familiar tastes and the food
pellets are eagerly accepted thereafter. The trick is just to get the
newcomers to take that first bite of the pellets. And that's where the
other factors come into play.
For instance, many of the fish are juveniles and young specimens that are more
adaptable in their feeding habits and can adjust to strange foods readily.
Unlike adult specimens, the youngsters are not hardwired for a specialized diet
with their food preferences set in stone. And no doubt the extremely
competitive atmosphere in the aquarium also has a lot to do with the willingness
to dive in and join the rest of the crowd at feeding time. The fish do not
fight over the food, but as you can imagine, there is a great deal of
competition at mealtime in the "first come, first served" sense of the word.
When newcomers see all of the other fish going nuts over the pellet foods, they
quickly get the idea that it's good to eat and don't want to miss out on their
share of the goodies. In this dynamic community tank, nobody wants to be
late for dinner!
I believe that classic Pavlovian conditioning also plays a strong role in the
fishes' aggressive feeding response. When the automatic fish feeder clicks
on eight times a day and dispenses the delicious pellets like manna from Heaven,
it doesn't take long for the fish to associate the "click" of the feeder with
good things to eat. That association is positively reinforced eight times
a day, so even new additions are soon responding to the stimulus of the
automatic feeder switching into motion like the ringing of a dinner bell.
Only in this aquarium will you see a dainty Lemonpeel dwarf angel
brazenly brushing aside a much larger Conspicuous Angel and clown
triggerfish for its share of the sheet algae. Photo by Joel Giwojna
Whatever the reason or reasons, it's an undeniable fact that all of the
residents of the aquarium are aggressive eaters that go crazy for pellet foods
and sheet algae. And that makes feeding time in the Angelfish community
tank a sight to behold!
We have all marveled at the film footage of a school of piranha making the water
boil as they relentlessly stripped the flesh from an animal carcass and
skeletonized it in a matter of minutes, or watched with bated breath while a
diver recorded a feeding frenzy of sharks from a fish's eye view, and certainly
those are compelling scenes that excite the imagination. But I'm here to
tell you that that you haven't seen anything yet until you have experience the
thrill of witnessing an angelfish feeding frenzy erupt before your very eyes.
About once every hour, Travis' automatic fish feeder clicks into action and
dumps a carefully prepared combination of gourmet goodies into his community
tank. The moment the first pellets hit the water, the entire aquarium
explodes in a flurry of activity and erupts in a riot of colors as gaudy fish
rush in from every corner of the tank and converge at the source of the bonanza.
At first glance, it's like looking through the rotating barrel of a kaleidoscope
as shimmering shards of brilliant color swirl about in ever shifting patterns,
come together briefly to form a mosaic of glittering colors, and then break
apart momentarily only to coalesce once again in different combinations that are
even more dazzling. The eye struggles to take it all in and make sense of
the whirlpool of darting movements and fleeting flashes of color, and it takes a
moment to adjust to the sensory overload before you can quite comprehend exactly
what you are seeing.
But once the adjustment has been made and your eyes catch up with the frantic
pace, so that you can finally focus on individual fish, some astounding sights
begin to emerge from the chaotic clash of colors. A dainty Dwarf Angelfish
(Centropyge loriculus) jockeying for position with a spectacular
Conspicuous Angel (Chaetodontoplus conspiculatus) many times its size and
challenging it for a choice morsel. A Red Sea Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites
diacanthus) right in the thick of the melee, greedily gobbling up pellets
one after the other as fast as possible. (Who said regals were finicky
eaters?) A delicate Butterfly fish (Chaetodon mitratus) swooping in
to snatch a tasty tidbit away from the much larger but less maneuverable clown
triggerfish. A squadron of Golden Butterflies strafing the bottom for
pellets that have settled to the substrate while formations of purple tangs and
blue tangs patrol in midwater, snatching up drifting pellets from the water
column as dozens of assorted Angelfish swarm over their heads. Glorious!
The spectacular fish are the decorations in this aquarium so the aquascaping is
very simple yet extremely effective. It consists of well over 300 pounds
of live rock arranged in a labyrinth of caves, arches, and overhanging shelves
and ledges to maximize the amount of shelter and protection it offers.
Each individual piece of the live rock was handpicked for the many holes,
cavities, gouges and grooves that riddle its surface in order to provide
additional microhabitats for the smaller fish.
The result is a reef face biotype that provides the marine tropicals with
familiar surroundings and an abundance of cover. No matter where they go
in the aquarium, a convenient hidey hole or sheltered nook is never more than a
foot away from the fish at any time. This seems to give them a great sense
of security and the fish are very much at home amid these natural surroundings.
Perhaps because there is always a handy hiding place or safe haven within easy
reach, the fish are not at all inclined to hide. They are relaxed, weaving
lazily in an out of the rockwork and leisurely exploring their surroundings.
They put themselves on parade and boldly patrol the open water.
Aside from pellet food, one can also trigger a feeding frenzy in
this tank full of algae eaters by introducing sheet algae or
macroalgae for the fish to graze on throughout the day. In
this photo, a generous portion of sheet algae has been just added to
tank and all the fish are coming out of the rockwork to swarm the
white lettuce clip adhering to the front glass. This photo
also shows the rockwork structure that provides plenty of cover to
make the fish feel comfortable and secure. Photo by Joel
Remarkably, this applies to the new additions as well. Rather than
concealing themselves, cringing in the background, and desperately trying to
remain inconspicuous or out of sight, as you might expect of newcomers that have
just been introduced into a strange new environment teeming with Angels,
Triggers and Tangs, they remain in the open and school freely among themselves
and the established residents of the aquarium. Very often, they are
grazing nonchalantly on the live rock moments after being released in the
aquarium. And as likely as not, when the first serving of pellet foods is
dispensed, the new arrivals will dive in and partake with the others.
I suspect that the ease with which the new additions adjust to the community
tank is largely because they are taking their cues from the established fish.
The longtime residents are relaxed, swimming about unconcerned and just
generally ignoring the newcomers, giving them the impression it's completely
safe to remain out in the open as well. In essence, the very well stocked
community tank is like an entire aquarium of dither fish, coaxing the new fish
into the thick of the action. Fascinating!
Disease Prevention and Control
When it comes to disease, prevention is always the best cure, and nowhere is
this more true than in a community tank heavily stocked with rare, highly prized
fish. Aquatic Environments and Travis have accordingly instituted strict
disease prevention protocols for this unique Angelfish aquarium system,
including the following prophylactic measures:
Let's examine each of these disease prevention measures individually a little
Hyposalinity, or osmotic shock therapy is at once perhaps the most controversial
and the most effective of the disease prevention measures used to protect the
angelfish aquarium from disease. As the name suggests, this method of
disease prevention simply involves maintaining the aquarium at a lower salinity
than normal -- in this case, 15 ppt (specific gravity = 1.011-1.012). (To
assure accuracy, a refractometer is used to measure and regulate the salinity.)
Hyposalinity is an effective technique because Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon
irritans), external trematodes, and most ectoparasites and protozoal
parasites cannot survive for long at such low salinity. And since most of
the bacterial and fungal problems that plague marine fish are secondary
infections that take hold after the fish's integument has been compromised by a
mechanical injury or external parasites, eliminating those ectoparasites via
hyposalinity also helps minimize problems with bacteria and fungus. In
addition, hyposalinity helps parasite-ridden fish avoid dehydration and save
their strength by reducing osmotic pressure and making it easier for them to
osmoregulate. Allow me to elaborate.
Because the seawater they live in is far saltier than their blood and internal
body fluids (Kollman, 1998), marine fish are constantly losing water by
diffusion through their gills and the surface of their skin, as well as in their
urine (Kollman, 1998). The mucus layer or slime coat of the fish helps
waterproof the skin and reduces the amount of water that can diffuse through its
surface (Kollman, 1998). However, when the skin is compromised by abrasions or
attacked by parasites such as Costia,
Cryptocaryon, Cryptobia, Amyloodinium, Brooklynella,
Epistylus and the like, this protective barrier is damaged and water is
lost at an increasing rate (Kollman, 1998). The affected fish can easily become
dehydrated as a result, further debilitating them.
Low salinity is an excellent way to treat most such skin infections, since
reducing the salinity helps the fish recover in several different ways (Lowry
2004). It lessens the risk of dehydration by decreasing osmotic pressure
(Kollman, 1998), and reduces the amount of energy the fish must expend on
osmoregulation, helping the weakened fish to recover (Kollman, 1998).
And if the salinity is dropped far enough, as in this case, it prevents
reinfection and provides the fish with immediate relief by destroying the
parasites in the water and on the surface of the skin (Kollman, 1998). At low
salinity, water moves into the parasites' bodies by passive diffusion until they
literally burst (lyse). This method of treatment is known as hyposalinity or
Osmotic Shock Therapy.
In the eight months sense the salinity of the Angelfish community tank was
adjusted to 15 ppt, there have been no ectoparasite problems of any kind.
Period. This includes the outbreaks of
Cryptocaryon and Oodinium that eventually doomed Travis' early
attempts to establish such an Angelfish aquarium.
A Declevis butterflyfish and a beautiful blue-striped angelfish duel
for a delectable morsel under the watchful eye of a powder blue
tang." Photo by Joel Giwojnayposalinity is a well-established disease control procedure and its hard to
argue with those results, but it's a controversial approach in this instance
because of the duration that the hyposalinity has been maintained. The
hyposalinity was initially instituted during the high-risk period when the
community tank was being gradually stocked and groups of new fish were being
introduced into the aquarium every week or two. It is very common for new
arrivals to carry
Cryptocaryon or Amyloodinium or other parasites into the main tank,
and maintaining the salinity at levels appropriate for osmotic shock therapy can
minimize such problems while a new aquarium is being populated. In this
case, however, stocking the aquarium has lasted fully eight months, and the fish
have been doing so beautifully that Travis plans to maintain the hyposalinity
indefinitely. To the best of my knowledge, that's something that has never
been attempted before with an aquarium of this nature.
Osmotic shock therapy is normally administered only as a short-term bath, while
hyposalinity is traditionally administered in a hospital tank while fishes are
being quarantined. Under such circumstances, the hyposalinity may be
maintained as long as 30-45 days (Lowry 2004), in order to assure that the
entire life cycle of any parasites has been thoroughly accounted for and
neutralized. Wholesalers and retail pet dealers often maintain
hyposalinity in their crowded holding tanks at all times, but there is such a
rapid turnover of fish at such establishments that no specimens remain in the
systems for any length of time. So there is very little data available
regarding the long-term effects of hyposalinity on marine fish.
Although it's an established fact that hyposalinity or osmotic shock therapy can
protect marine fish from
Cryptocaryon, external trematodes, gill flukes and most protozoal
infections, it is by no means a cure all. It has no effect on internal
parasites or primary bacterial, viral, or fungal infections (Lowry 2004).
Other disease prevention measures are necessary to protect the Angelfish
community tank from such health problems.
Accordingly, metronidazole and praziquantel are kept on hand to be administered
orally should problems with internal parasites ever be indicated, and ozonation
and ultraviolet sterilization are employed on the aquarium to keep microbes at
Ozone (O3) is the highly unstable triatomic form of oxygen. The
instability of the ozone molecule makes it highly reactive, and it oxidizes or
"burns up" organic compounds and microbes on contact. As a result, ozone
is widely used for water purification and sterilization, particularly in Europe
(Fenner, 2003). When used in conjunction with a protein skimmer and
properly administered, it provides many benefits for the aquarium as well.
Ozone chemically degrades large organic molecules, thereby helping to raise pH,
increase dissolved oxygen levels and Redox potential, and improve water quality
in general while enhancing the efficiency of your protein skimmer (Fenner,
2003). Its ability to destroy microbes on contact also makes it a very
useful disease control measure. Virtually all the large public aquaria
employ ozone in their systems for these reasons.
In Travis' Angelfish community tank, the ozone is regulated by an ORP controller
and introduced into the bubble stream of an AquaMedic external protein skimmer.
When the ORP reading drops, indicating that more ozone is needed to reach the
desired setpoint, the ozonizer can put out up to 200 mg of O3 per hour, which is
more than adequate for this particular aquarium. I should also point out
that the discharge from the protein skimmers is very well filtered through
activated carbon before it enters the sump or the atmosphere. A pair of
ultraviolet sterilizers then picks up where the ozone leaves off for additional
Although it does not improve water quality to nearly the same degree as an
ozonizer used in conjunction with a protein skimmer, UV radiation in the proper
range (295-400 nanometers) is known to help oxidize phosphates, metabolites,
organic molecules and nitrogenous compounds through the incidental production of
ozone (Fenner, 2003).
The primary benefits UV sterilization provides, however, are disease reduction
and the control of nuisance algae. Ultraviolet radiation can be very effective
in reducing free-floating algae, bacteria and microbes in general, certain
parasites while in the free-swimming stages of development, and other suspended
microscopic organisms (Fenner, 2003). A properly installed and maintained
UV sterilizer can be invaluable in reducing the incidence and spread of such
infections in heavily stocked aquaria. The Angelfish community tank is
thus equipped with two separate 36-Watt Turbo Twist ultraviolet sterilizers.
Aquatic Environments assures that the quartz sleeves are cleaned regularly, the
UV bulbs are replaced on schedule, and the units are operating at peak
efficiency. When properly used in this manner, UV sterilization can reduce
microbial levels in the aquarium to the low levels normally found in the wild or
below (Fenner, 2003).
Boosting the Immune System
To further improve their disease resistance, all of the fish in the community
tank receive daily doses of various natural immunostimulants as part of their
everyday diet. Chief among these is beta glucan, which is a primary
ingredient in the Ocean Rider Vibrance, (the powdered enrichment formula used to
fortify the frozen Mysis). Administering beta glucan orally
stimulates phagocytosis of certain white cells (macrophages). Studies show
that beta glucan can thus help prevent infections from bacteria, fungus, and
Research also indicates beta glucan helps prevent infections and helps wounds
heal more quickly (Bartelme, 2001). It is safe to use in conjunction with other
treatments and has been proven to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics
(Bartelme, 2001). Beta glucan is known to alleviate the effects of stress and to
help fish recover from exposure to toxins in the water (Bartelme, 2001).
For more information on the potential benefits of beta glucan for aquarium fish,
please see the following article:
Click here: Advanced Aquarist Feature Article
Other immune boosters the fish receive in their staple diet include the potent
antioxidant beta carotene, found in a red and green Gracilaria, and
garlic extract, which is an ingredient in some of the Ocean Nutrition Angelfish
formulas. Together with beta glucan, these natural immune system
modulators help reduce stress and keep the community tank healthy.
Many of the exotic fish in the Angelfish tank can reach adult sizes well in
excess of 12 inches and the 250-gallon community tank is by no means the
final destination for such specimens. Although all of the fish are
doing well at their current level of occupancy, that may not remain the case as
the juvenile fish begin to reach maturity, and their owner is preparing
larger accommodations to deal with that eventuality. And, since Travis
is not a typical hobbyist, he is currently contemplating a closed-system home
aquarium of up to 4000 gallons total capacity for this purpose. That's a
whopping 16 times larger than the 250-gallon community tank! The
more spacious home aquarium will be set up in much the same manner as the
250-gallon aquarium but will have all of the elbow room even a fully grown
18-inch Queen Angelfish or football-sized clown Triggerfish needs to be
And that still leaves plenty of space to add additional specimens to Travis'
ever-growing collection of exotic marine fish. As an avid Angelfish
aficionado, he is always on the lookout for rare, hard to find species.
The following amazing Angels are high on his wish list at the moment:
Cocos Pigmy Angelfish or Yellowhead Angelfish (Centropyge
Boyle's or Peppermint Angelfish (Paracentropyge
Juvenile West Africa or Guinean Angelfish (Holacanthus
Clarion Angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis)
of non-Mexican origin
Any information on the availability of these or other angelfish rarities would
be most welcome. If you know of a source for any such exotics, please feel
free to contact the author (PeteGiwojna@aol.com) at your convenience.
Those are the main features that make this remarkable community tank tick.
When I first learned about this amazing angelfish system, I was immediately
struck by certain aspects of this setup. The first observation to leap out
at me was that it appears many marine fish may be much far more euryhaline
(i.e., able to tolerate and adjust to a wide range of salinities) than I or many
others had previously suspected. Quite a few fish in the aquarium are from
the Red Sea and Indian ocean, which are bodies of water that have a
significantly higher specific gravity than normal seawater, yet here they are
thriving in an aquarium at 15 ppt and have been doing so for many months! They
received no special acclimation whatsoever when they were introduced into the
community tank, going from full strength seawater to a specific gravity of 1.011
over a period of approximately 20 minutes. Yet they're healthy, eating
aggressively, their colors are brilliant, and they are growing. If they
are stressed in any way by the low salinity, it certainly isn't apparent from
their appearance or their behavior. The same is true for all of the fish
in the aquarium. It doesn't seem to matter if they are from the tropical
Atlantic, Caribbean, Indo Pacific, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, or Australia.
The fish seem to very quickly adjust to the unusually low salinity and remain
comfortable at that salinity thereafter. That's remarkable and worthy of
C. Semilarvatus can be kept in pairs or small groups. This
pair makes a stunning addition to this already stunning collection
of fishes. Photo by Joel Giwojna
But that's not true of all marine fish, of course. Sharks and Rays (elasmobranchs)
and certain clownfish, for example, do not tolerate hyposalinity at all.
And it's way too early to draw any conclusions about what the long-term effects
of the hyposalinity may be in this case. But I am surprised to see that so
many different Angelfish, Tangs, andTriggerfish seem to be perfectly happy at a
salinity of 15 ppt, at least thus far.
The lack of aggression in the Angelfish community tank is equally surprising.
How can so many well-armed Angelfish, Triggerfish, and Tangs be confined
together in such a limited space without mayhem, murder and chaos on a massive
No doubt the labyrinth of live rock that offers instant shelter and handy
hideouts within fin's reach at all times helps in much the same way that a tank
full of feisty Lake Malawi cichlids of different species can be maintained and
even breed in a good-sized aquarium with elaborate rockwork. But I feel
the sheer numbers of fish in the community tank also helps to prevent and
diffuse any aggression. For one thing, I believe it keeps the angelfish
and tangs from establishing set territories that they would then feel the need
to defend. How can you stake a claim to a piece of turf if other fish are
continually moving in and out of your territory and nobody is respecting your
claims? I don't believe the fish can establish fixed boundaries in such a
fluid situation and that helps to defuse any hostility.
Furthermore, with so many fish present, if any of the specimens are inclined to
indulge in a little bullying, their aggression is spread out among so many
potential targets that no one fish is subject to any significant amount of
harassment. It's the same principle that allows pet dealers to keep dozens
of pugnacious damselfish together in the same small aquarium -- none of them can
claim a territory and any fin nipping or hostility is so dispersed as to be
insignificant. So they coexist peacefully under those circumstances and
maintain an uneasy truce with very little aggression. I suspect much the
same dynamic is playing out in the angelfish community, and that after living
together for weeks and months and seeing that there is plenty of food and
shelter for all, the other angels are gradually accepted as tankmates at some
point in the process.
Whatever the reasons, all of the 26 Angels, 7 Triggerfish, and dozens of Tangs
and butterflies get along together remarkably well. In fact, when
newcomers are added to the community tank, they are often virtually ignored by
the big bad Angelfish and temperamental Triggerfish. The only specimens
that seem to regard the new additions as unwelcome intruders are a Chevron Tang
(Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis) and a Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus
leucosternon), and even their objections are relatively mild; any
halfhearted attempts at persecuting the newcomers by these two tough-guy tangs
typically persist only for the first couple of hours. After the new fish
have been in the tank for a few hours, even the chevron and powder blue tang
seem to regard them as part of the crew.
But don't take my word for it -- see for yourself! The still photographs
in this article will give you a glimpse of what I'm talking about, but you need
to really see the fish in action to fully appreciate all of the color and
activity in the aquarium and how peacefully the fish interact with one another.
This is one aquarium that has to be seen to be believed and, fortunately, the
owner has installed a web cam within the aquarium itself that is connected to
the same circuit as the aquarium lights, so that anyone with a high-speed modem
can marvel at the spectacle any time the tank is illuminated. Just go to
www.angel-tank.com:8080 if you want to check out this incredible community tank
in all its glory. I should warn you, however, that Travis' "Angelfish
Channel" is far more entertaining than most anything you'll find on television
these days. (If you're a fish lover and Angelfish fancier like me, it can
be downright addicting!) No drooling!
The Angelfish community tank has been very successful thus far and is certainly
an unforgettable sight, but I hasten to emphasize that it is very much an
experimental aquarium system. Quite frankly, Travis and Aquatic
Environments are pushing the limits of what's possible with a closed-system
marine aquarium. In the process, they are breaking every rule in the book
with regard to stocking densities, blithely ignoring all the recommendations
regarding inches-of-fish-per-gallon, and blatantly violating every guide on the
compatibility of marine fishes that has ever been devised. Mr. Carter can
tempt fate this way and survive because he has all the resources and expert help
he needs to do whatever is required to make his unorthodox system work.
In short, this is not a system the typical home hobbyist should attempt to
emulate. But by the same token, if the basics of good aquarium management
(maintaining optimum water quality, good nutrition, providing natural
surroundings with plenty of cover, and disease prevention) can produce such
phenomenal results under the extraordinary circumstances we have been
discussing, then just think what a difference they could make for your humble
home aquarium with a more reasonable stocking density of fish! It's the
superior aquarium maintenance, feeding regimen, and disease prevention measures
that Travis employs which other hobbyists should strive to duplicate.
And although Travis' ultimate Angelfish aquarium may be beyond the reach of most
aquarists, the home hobbyist certainly could consider something similar on a
smaller scale. Say a 55-gallon fish-only aquarium with a large sump and an
efficient filtration system that houses a community of Damselfish, Dottybacks,
Wrasse, Tangs and perhaps a small Humu Triggerfish and a hardy Coral Beauty
Angelfish. Use plenty of live rock and branching coral formations to
create elaborate aquascaping and abundant shelter. Maintain hyposalinity
during the high-risk period while the aquarium is being stocked as a precaution
and then very gradually return the salinity to normal over a period of at least
a week after the tank has been fully populated. Follow the disease
prevention methods we have discussed in this article, provide the fish with a
nutritious, varied diet, and maintain optimum water quality, and you, too, can
enjoy an aquarium that's alive with color and bustling with activity. <Again,
this approach is not recommended for everyone- Ed>
In part two of this article, we will discuss hyposalinity or osmotic shock
therapy in depth and explain when and where it's appropriate and when it should
be modified or avoided altogether.
<Editors' note: At Conscientious Aquarist, it is our mission to promote the
careful stewardship of the animals that we keep. To this end, we try to present
content that embraces this philosophy. As you are now aware, and as Pete Giwojna
has stated, the aquarium discussed here seems to break many of the "rules" of
the marine aquarium hobby. However, rather than interpreting this article as a
"guide" to creating a similar system, we feel that the real message is that
careful attention to husbandry techniques can be applicable to any
aquarium system. No one here is recommending that you attempt to stock a system
like Travis', yet we do implore you to embrace his philosophy of water quality
management, feeding, and long-term planning for your own systems. These are the
true keys to success, in our opinion. -S.F./A.C.>
Bartleme, Terry D. 2003. "Beta Glucan As a Biological Defense Modulator."
Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine, feature article. Accessed 7 May 2004.
Fenner, Bob. 2003. “Protein Skimming, Ozone, and UV Use in Marine
Filtration”. Part of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. 2003.
Accessed 12 December 2003. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm
Fenner, Bob. 2004. "Marine Angelfishes, Family Pomacanthidae."
Part of The Conscientious Marine Aquarist online:. Accessed 14 April 2007.
Jun. 2002. "Ocean Rider: A 'Horse of a Different Color, Part II."
Freshwater and Marine Aquarium
Kollman, Rand. 1998. “Low Salinity as Quarantine and Treatment of
Marine Parasites. SeaScope. Aquarium Systems: 1,3.
Lowry, Toby, DVM. 2007: "Quarantine of Marine Fish (Teleost) Using
Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine, short takes.
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/nov2004/short.htm Accessed 21
Marine Angelfish, Family: Pomacanthidae. 2007. Part of Dr. Jungle's
Animal World: http://animal-world.com/encyclo/marine/angels/angels.php
Accessed 7 April 2007.
Travis Carter’s Mega Angel Tank
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pete Giwojna’s article on Mr. Carter’s tradition-
challenging tank! I would love to know if there is any follow up information out
there about how this tank progressed long term did Mr. Carter upgrade to a
larger system as was alluded to in the article. What was the long term effect of
running in hypo?
<Ahh, wish I had a good email addy to ask Pete re. You might try writing him via
Ocean Rider in Kona, Hawaii>
Is there any info out there! I greatly appreciate you help and run to WWM
frequently for all my fish questions!!! Working on stocking a 650 FOWLR right
<Wowzah! Am not a fan of continuous hypo(salinity), but do know of a few service
companies, retail, wholesale marine livestock outfits that use it. Some upsides
(lower ext. parasite, infectious agent loads, cheaper using less salt, higher
dissolved oxygen) and down (diminished "sliminess" and what it provides esp.)>
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Travis Carter’s Mega Angel Tank
Thanks for the prompt reply! Will seek Pete out if possible. Look forward to
seeing your presentation at RAP Chicago!
<Ahh, see you there! I just tried to look up OR, now: https://seahorse.com/
Peter used to write informative articles, answer seahorse questions for them.
Angelfish tank, stkg. mostly... comp. f' as well
Hey there Crew. I have a quick and hopefully easy question for you.
There is an article on your website found here...
It deals with keeping a large volume of fish in a tank. I've read the
disclaimers through the article and know it isn't exactly the ideal
setup although it was working for the guy who has the tank. I'm curious
if you have any more information on the status of the tank? The article
is a couple years old, it looks like to me... do you know if things
worked out long term for him?
<I do not have any further update, info. re status of this one set up,
but can tell you that this sort of seemingly over-crowded, largely
angel-system is not unique, has been used several times... mainly in the
orient, but also a standard in some east coast U.S. service companies...
And can indeed be "done". IF ones mechanicals (filtration et al.) and
maintenance are up to par, packing such animals together appears to
greatly depress territorial expression... Bob Fenner>
Concerns re Angelfish Article in May/June
Have you read this article?
Did you THOROUGHLY read this article?
>Had seen, read it... Don't endorse the apparent philosophy. RMF<
An email came in yesterday about this article. >
I just got done looking through the newest issue. The article "The Ultimate
Angelfish Aquarium" really shocked me. The folks at WWM have always stressed
the importance of proper conditions for the fish being kept. This article
strays so far from that it isn't even funny.
I really used to enjoy reading the informative and knowledgeable advice
given but I guess those times have changed.
<It happens to be from someone I know and respect ,and to tell you the
truth, after reading the article I tend to agree with him. I am saddened and
concerned by Carl's disappointment. I'm not really sure this article belongs
in the Conscientious Aquarist Magazine. I will agree that it is an
interesting system, but I'm not convinced this is a "success story".
Seems more like of a "disaster hasn't happened yet story". I just don't know
if this is something we should highlighting and seemingly
endorsing...particularly if the reader fails to read the editors note at the
end. A couple of things that I find disturbing. First off this feels a bit
like a commercial for Aquatic Environments. It bothers me that this tank has
come about due to Travis Carter's passion, but the tank is in a office
setting where it is questionable if he has ownership and it is also stated
it is left unattended over the weekends. I'm also not walking away with the
sense that Travis did a lot of research and investigation before setting up
this system. Perhaps he did, but I don't think it is well conveyed by the
The article also states that the system is too small many of these fish once
Many of the exotic fish in the Angelfish tank can reach adult sizes well in
excess of 12 inches and the 250-gallon community tank is by no means the
final destination for such specimens. Although all of the fish are doing
well at their current level of occupancy, that may not remain the case as
the juvenile fish begin to reach maturity, and their owner is preparing
larger accommodations to deal with that eventuality. And, since Travis is
not a typical hobbyist, he is currently contemplating a closed-system home
aquarium of up to 4000 gallons total capacity for this purpose. That's a
whopping 16 times larger than the 250-gallon community tank! The more
spacious home aquarium will be set up in much the same manner as the
250-gallon aquarium but will have all of the elbow room even a fully grown
18- inch Queen Angelfish or football-sized clown Triggerfish needs to be
<....So he's CONTEMPLATING a system... That's not terribly reassuring.>
<Pete states that the aquarium is 250 gallons and there is an "equally large
sump" Copied from the article:>
By equally large, I mean that Aquatic Environments in Minneapolis designed
and installed a Maxi-Sump specifically for this aquarium that takes
advantage of every inch of space under the tank in order to provide a
sump/refugium of maximum possible size. The new sump was custom-made to fit
the exact dimensions of the aquarium stand and then slid into place from
above before the aquarium itself was installed.
<Pete then goes on to state:>
A minimum of 100 gallons of saltwater are replaced weekly without fail.
The newly mixed saltwater is made from RO/DI water and is preadjusted to the
same temperature, pH, and salinity as the main tank before the water changes
are performed. This assures that at least 40% of the aquarium water is
replaced every week.
<Something is incorrect here. 100 gallons is 40% of 250 gallons, but
supposedly the total system volume is much more because of the "equally
Although this is a fish-only system, the water chemistry in the community
tank is monitored and regulated as though it were a reef system to assure
that nothing is overlooked. Aside from the basic water quality parameters,
the carbonate hardness, total alkalinity, and calcium and phosphorus levels
in the aquarium are checked several times a week, which is an important
precaution for marine aquarium that maintains a salinity of only 15 parts
per thousand. The aquarium is dosed with calcium, magnesium and iodine
regularly to maintain optimum levels at all times.
<So the system is dosed with Magnesium and Iodine, but no mention was made
of testing for these additives.
What do you think of this long term hyposalinity?
>Again, not a fan. RMF<
I appreciate the editors note at the end, but I think it should at the very
least be at the beginning of the article and could/should be worded/written
a little more strongly.
Just some of my thoughts... makes me question if this is responsible
conscientious aquarium keeping. I am curious your thoughts re...
>What more can I state? I am neither of the co-editors... ScottF and AdamC
are... It is up to their discretion what to include/omit... They have
>accepted the task/responsibility... and along with this comes
Re: Concerns re Angelfish Article in
May/June CA 6/13/07
Michelle and all,
Scott and I are both in agreement with the points stated in this
conversation, and I agree that the editor's note/disclaimer should be beefed
I think one of the major reasons this "slipped through" without more
condemnation is because Scott and I both looked at it from our own
perspective.... that is (modesty aside for a moment) as well read,
experienced and skilled aquarists. I personally would not attempt to
maintain a system like that because I don't have the patience and
discipline. However, with disciplined maintenance, careful observation of
the health of the fishes and acceptance of the fact that fish that "don't
fit in" (due to large size, excessively aggressive or timid behavior, etc.)
must be removed, it can be done. All that said... it is riskier than a more
conservatively stocked system, but none of the fish in the images appear to
be underfed, in poor health or beaten up.
Michelle and Bob, would you consider it sufficient to add a beefier and more
stern disclaimer to the beginning of the article? If the consensus is that
this article is entirely contrary to the WWM ethic, then we should remove
it. In my mind, it comes down to whether a bad example can be used to teach
a good lesson or if most readers will find the answers they want to hear and
gloss over the warnings/admonishments.
<I appreciate this elaboration, and will add to the article itself... Though
we may be disdainful to such stocking... this case is not peculiar in many
parts of the world... Take a look at Wayne Shen's book... BobF>
Re: More concerns re Angelfish article.
Learning From A Bad Example? – 06/14/07
<Hi there, Scott F. with you today.>
I live in Recife, Northeast Brazil where reefs abound, but few successful
marine aquarists can be found.
Therefore, I have relied on your great service for the bulk of my
information since setting up my tanks a year ago.
Thanks to you, I have been quite successful and my systems are my pride and
<We're pleased to have been of service!>
Yesterday, while I showed your online Angelfish article to the local fish
shop owner, his first comments were, "the live rock is dead".
<"Dead" in terms of obvious macrofauna, but most likely inhabited by
microorganisms and bacteria...Nonetheless, an interesting observation!>
I thought this was a significant observation, considering the tank has been
running for eight months and receives regular additions of calcium,
magnesium and iodine.
Surely, this has much to do with the low salinity.
Wouldn't it be interesting to see how this tank is doing eight months from
<Yes, it would!>
Perhaps then it would be mature enough to serve as an example to
Stephen J. Jones
<Interesting point, Stephen. Long-term stability and success are the true
goals of conscientious aquarists. We received some interesting feedback
about Pete's article! As indicated in our Editors' note in the piece, we
absolutely DO NOT recommend or condone this type of aquarium or the stocking
practices demonstrated by the owner. WWM and Conscientious Aquarist have
always been about the responsible husbandry and stewardship of aquatic life.
However, this article was selected for inclusion in Conscientious Aquarist
not to serve as an endorsement of these practices, or as "how to" guide for
others to replicate the system. It was selected because we felt that
sometimes, there is even a lesson to be learned from a bad example! At best,
it may have been thought-provoking, and at worst, it might be offensive-for
which we do apologize. Some of the husbandry practices of the hobbyist who
owns the featured aquarium were, in our opinion, the only reason that this
system was even able to work in the short run. The long-term results will be
even more interesting. On the other hand, the shortcomings of the system and
it's stocking density were immediately obvious to all of our well-informed
readers, such as yourself. In a way, it's gratifying to hear that our
readers, the majority of whom embrace our philosophy, recognize that this
system is run in a manner contrary to what we preach here on WWM. And that's
the point...I don't believe that a single one of the Crew would ever
recommend stocking an aquarium in this manner, and I'm virtually certain
that none of our readers would attempt such a system. It is our hope that no
one interpreted the piece as a tacit approval of the featured system.
Hopefully, anyone who found the aquarium featured in the piece offensive or
contrary to their sensibilities will continue to dedicate themselves to
spreading the WWM philosophy of conscientious husbandry to other hobbyists,
for the benefit of the animals that we all cherish. Thank you so much for
your feedback. We welcome interaction from our fellow hobbyists! Regards,
How Many Angelfish Can You Fit In...? –
Dear Scott F,
Thank you for your prompt and full reply to my observation.
Another thought that crossed my mind regarding that tank, is that the lack
of aggression among so many territorial fish may have something to do with a
slight discomfort, or "anxiety" also (possibly) caused by hyposalinity.
In other words, you don't pick fights when you're feeling under the weather.
<I agree that this is a possibility...but I also think that the reason that
you're seeing little aggression is that the stocking density is just sooo
high in the system. Regards, Scott F.>
Marine Angelfishes on WWM
Marine Angelfishes, Family Pomacanthidae by Bob Fenner & FAQs on:
Angelfishes In General,
FAQs 2, Angelfish
Angel Compatibility 2,
Disease 2, Disease
Butterflyfishes & Crypt,
Best Marine Angelfishes for Aquarium Use
by Bob Fenner &
Angelfishes of the Caribbean, French and Gray
by Bob Fenner &
Angelfishes of the Tropical E. Pacific/Baja
by Bob Fenner &
Islands Angels by Bob Fenner &
Angelfishes of Indonesia
Marine Angelfishes of the Maldives, Indian Ocean &
Angelfishes of the Red Sea &
Genera and Species Accounts:
Marine Angels of the Genus Apolemichthys &
Dwarf Angels of the Genus Centropyge
by Bob Fenner &
FAQs 2, FAQs 3, FAQs
4, Dwarf Angel
Dwarf Angel Behavior,
Dwarf Angel Selection,
Dwarf Angel Systems,
Dwarf Angel Feeding,
Dwarf Angel Disease,
Dwarf Angel Disease 2,
Dwarf Angel Disease 3,
Dwarf Dwarf Angelfishes
of the Genus Centropyge; C. acanthops, C. argi, C. aurantonotus, C. fisheri,
C. flavicauda, C. resplendens... by Bob Fenner &
The Bicolor or Oriole
Dwarf Angel, Centropyge bicolor by Bob Fenner &
The Coral Beauty,
Centropyge bispinosus, A Sometimes Great, Other Times Dismal Dwarf Angel
by Bob Fenner & FAQs,
Coral Beauty Behavior,
Coral Beauty Systems,
Coral Beauty Feeding,
Coral Beauty Disease,
Lemon/y Dwarf Angels,
A Couple of Lemons; the True and False/Herald's (nee woodheadi) Centropyges
by Bob Fenner &
The Flame Angelfish, Centropyge loricula by Bob Fenner &
FAQs, FAQs 2, Flame
Flame Angel Behavior,
Flame Angel Compatibility,
Flame Angel Selection,
Flame Angel Systems,
Flame Angel Feeding,
Flame Angel Disease,
Centropyge potteri... a Hard, But Not Impossible Hawaiian Endemic by Bob
Marine Angels of the Genus Chaetodonoplus &
Marine Angels of the Genus Genicanthus &
Marine Angels of the Genus Holacanthus &
The Queen Angelfish, Holacanthus ciliaris by Bob Fenner &
Queen Angel Behavior,
Queen Angel Selection,
Queen Angel Systems,
Queen Angel Feeding,
Queen Angel Disease,
The Clarion Angelfish, Holacanthus clarionensis
by Bob Fenner &
The Atlantic Rock Beauty, Holacanthus tricolor by Bob Fenner &
Marine Angels of the Genus Pomacanthus &
The subgenus Arusetta, the Yellow Banded
and Asfur Angelfishes, Pomacanthus maculosus
and P. asfur
by Bob Fenner &
FAQs 2, Arusetta
The Emperor/Imperator Angel, Pomacanthus imperator by Bob Fenner &
FAQs 3, Emperor
Emperor Angel Selection,
Emperor Disease, Emperor
The French- Angelfish, Pomacanthus paru
by Bob Fenner &
The Koran-Angelfish, Pomacanthus semicirculatus by Bob Fenner &
Koran Angel Behavior,
Koran Angel Systems,
Koran Angel Feeding,
Koran Angel Disease,
Koran Angel Reproduction,
Subgenus Euxiphipops (genus Pomacanthus) Angelfishes
(Navarchus/Majestic, Blue-Face, Six-Striped)
by Bob Fenner &
FAQs 2, Euxiphipops
Genus Paracentropyge Angels, &
The Regal Angelfish, Pygoplites diacanthus
by Bob Fenner &
The Venustus Angel, Sumireyakko venustus &