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A delightful 3 in. Dactylopterus volitans in a stunning display at the 04 Interzoo show.

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Fascinated by Sea Robins     4/9/13
Hi there!
I recently found out about the cool family of Gurnard and Sea Robins by a picture my husband stumbled across on Facebook... I believe the picture was of Dactyloptena Orientalis, but it sounds like they wouldn't be very easy to put in a community due to their size and tank layout requirements. The Banded Sea Robin (Prionotus sp.) seems much more promising though! I'm a long ways off from having a saltwater tank that I could keep one in (still love to plan though), but all my attempts to research more about what sort of aquarium size/layout they need, what sort of tankmates they can be kept with, etc have come up frustratingly short. It seems like there's at least a little bit of info about the Dactyloptena family,
<Dactylopterid... family Dactylopteridae>
but there's virtually nothing out there on their aquarium care other than LiveAquaria's out of stock page for them, and I prefer not to use a seller's page as my primary research source.
<Wise; though Dr. F and S's sites are generally excellent information-wise>
Any information you can provide about them would be appreciated, and/or if you can point me to any books or websites about them that would be great too! Thank you!
<This family's members can be kept in captivity... better to start w/ "medium" sized specimens... 4-5 inches overall length... As large and uncluttered system as possible/practical... at least four feet in length, eighteen inches in width... Fine/r substrate... Do search for the species you can find's natural habitat notes... Some are cool/er water... Not appropriate for tropical settings. Bob Fenner>

Gurnard disease? Dactylopterus volitans   3/31/07 Hello Crew, <Elizabeth> I do have a million questions for you but all in good time and after reading your FAQ's in depth . Today's question is slightly more urgent than those, and maybe not for lack of reading the wonderful information available on your site, but my difficulty in understanding and applying it. I'm looking to be a bit more proactive and fix this problem before it becomes any worse. I have a fish, a Dactylopterus volitans (about 5-6" presently) to be specific with a slight (getting to be more severe) facial growth of sorts. <Neat animals... see in the wild, and occasionally offered in the trade... Do need lots of room, water movement, filtration> (pictures attached) First, tank stats. 60 gal <Way too small> (a 90 gal will be his new tank for the near future, and a 220 in time)  with about 60 lbs of live rock. Presently running a Fluval 404 and a skimmer (Coralife, yuck, I know) rated for a 125 gal tank. <Inadequate> Ammonia reads zero, nitrite zero as well, and nitrate between 10 and 20ppm. <Borderline high> His cohabitants are a horseshoe crab <A coldwater species?> and a Dendrochirus biocellatus. They all get a nicely varied diet full of vitamins and garlic when needed. Squid, shrimp, mussels, fish (not gold), krill, brine shrimp, plankton, blood/black worms and a few ghost shrimp as snacks.  (I just got the Fu Manchu to start eating non-live after half a year of trying and am Very proud of him) <Neat> The situation is as follows: Four days ago the gurnard developed a small pin-head sized red protruding spot below his left "nostril" and above his "lip" I summed this up to him having run into something and scratched himself up a bit, as he's been getting older he's been more skittish/prone to what I like to call "freak outs" where he'll haphazardly dart across the tank or try and jump upon being startled. <Yes... and VERY dangerous... too likely swam into the Lion...> After that appeared (maybe not the best idea) but I figured since he was growing he might need more swimming space to feel comfortable and moved the rockwork to compensate. <Needs that larger tank... now> It remained the same size and colour for the next day and a half/two days. Since I last observed him in detail (yesterday)  it's increased in size to about 1/4" diameter and is protruding by a couple of mm. It's mottled red and white, and doesn't SEEM to be causing him any discomfort. He's still eating voraciously, swimming as normal (though he has been swimming "into" (not in a disoriented way, but in a bored "i don't have enough space" way) <Are you listening to what this fish is trying to "tell you"?> the glass more than before, but it could just be because of the adjusted rockwork, but maybe scratching the thing on his face. Also, the Fu doesn't seem to have changed behaviour and looks fine. Nothing out of the ordinary has come into the tank in months. From my reading I thought it could be a fungus or lymphocystis, <Mmm, no... "it's" the environment, tankmates> however I am afraid of medicating improperly, or at all if I don't need to. <... you don't> I don't know what else could be a variable, so I'll leave it in your capable hands to try and help find out what it is and what I need to do before it becomes a big problem. Lastly, I apologize for the blurry pictures and/or picture overload, they were the best my moving fish would allow me. I hope they help. We thank you Very Much for your time and advice. All the best, -Liz <Please step up your plans... to near practical maximum, to move this animal to more suitable quarters. Bob Fenner>
Two IDs please: bizarre walking fish & double-ended "thing"   2/20/07 Hi guys, First up: For a nice day out yesterday, my partner and I decided to go to the Sydney Aquarium, since we've recently (6 months) developed the hobby and started our own tank. While there, thankfully with camera in tow, I spotted a truly bizarre fish in a tank (not sure what type of water, but most probably cold salt water) which unfortunately did not have any occupant labels, nor any nearby staff. <A note here for folks working in such facilities...> The fish looks rather normal from afar, and likes to sit on the bottom, only moving when a ray came and disturbed it. Up close however, you can see that just behind it's head and in front of it's side fins, there are 3 pairs of very crustacean-esque articulated legs (which it has complete control over). <Well-stated> As well as this, when disturbed it spreads it's side fins to glide over the substrate, and although the rest of the fish is a mottled brown colour, the top of the fins is a fabulous spotted iridescent blue, almost like a butterfly. <Ah yes> I've attached two photos, one showing the legs as best I can, and the other a top down of the fins (sorry about the poor quality). Size is approx 20cm head to tip of tail (about 8 inches).   It's "wing" span is about half that. I've searched under all the phrases I can think of both in WWM and Google, with no luck. Any idea what this is? (We've taken to calling it a blue-finned butterfly-lobster fish, but I'd be pretty sure that's not it's name!) <Heee! Is almost undoubtedly a "Gurnard", a Dactylopterid... see the Net with this name... or Fishbase.org particularly... with a search by country, then family... Bob Fenner>

Smart Reader Gives Genus and Species for "Flying Gurnard"  >Dear Crew:  >>Hello.  I am interested in purchasing two sea robins (Dactylopterus volitans) at a new marine shop I visited today, and would like to know if they are appropriate for the tank I have. I have a FOWLR 6 x 2 x 2. I cannot find any information locally regarding this species.  >>They have a couple of common names, one, of course, is the sea robin, the other is flying gurnard. I am unsure as to whether or not this animal is one of the species of flying fish, though the Fishbase description speaks of a benthic associated animal that feeds on benthic inverts and the like.  >Do you have any idea of the size they will achieve when adult and the type of care needed?  >>As per fishbase.org they will hit about 90cm (36") by adulthood. That is one BIG fish for an aquarium, and your tank would not allow space to turn about, let alone comfort. If it were double the current dimensions horizontally, you might be more on track for these animals.  >Their present size is approx 2 inches. In the tank I have a yellow tang, African fireball angel, lime green wrasse, 3 ", 2 Perc's and BTA. Thank you.  Sincerely, Simon  >>Given what I've found of them, I would say they ought only be housed in systems of at least 2-3 hundred, or even a few thousand gallons. Marina

Simon's Lighter a Few Quid - Dactylopteridae Follow-up II  >Thanks again Marina for your prompt reply.  >>My pleasure, Simon.  >Just a quickie before hit the sack.  >>You really shouldn't mention such things to a woman of my nature. My significant other lives over 600 miles away and.. well.. let's just leave it at that.  >The Turboflotor skimmer.  >>Right! I've forwarded this message to Scott Fellman.  >whenever I try to put ozone through this, it just stops all bubbles dead. I have written to Aqua-Medic but have not yet had a response....... Will let you know.  >>And in the meantime, maybe Scott's got some advice for you (and me).  >Must get some kip...Well soon anyway.... Tis nearly 1am and been a long day... Was just increasing the flow in the tank by adding an extra Eheim 1060 pump to the sump with an extra overflow and what happens in the middle of all this???  >>I haven't a clue.  >Yes you got it,.... a bloody power cut.  >>WHAT?? Talk about some pisspoor timing!  >Now have around 40 gallons of water to clean up, tomorrow was the day to actually fit the larger sump !!!! Just goes to show...... Sods law again !!  >>In Puerto Rico we'd say something along the lines of "Ay, carajo! CONO! (with the tilde over the 'n')"  >G'night Marina  >>Criminy, mine's better than yours I'm afraid.  >Sleep well.... I know I will!  >>Will do, seems I'm spending the Easter weekend all by my lonesome. Means I get to walk about the house in my birthday suit. An almost perfect weekend. Marina

Armored Searobins/Gurnards I was wondering if you could tell me how many species of spiny sea robins live in the Atlantic and are there any differences other than size between  sub-adults and an adults  .We are working on what I believe to be a 20 million year old skeleton of a spiny sea robin and would like to hear what you know about the modern spiny sea robins. Thank you <Well, according to Nelson, J.S., 1994. Fishes of the world. 3rd ed.. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York. 600 p. the subfamily Peristedinae (of the family Triglidae) has four genera of about 30 species. You might look up these on fishbase.org with the genera Gargariscus, Heminodus, Peistedion, Satyrichthys to find their distribution. Bob Fenner>      Bill Counterman Calvert Marine Museum Department of Paleontology 410-326-2042 ext.61

Flying Gurnard Can I fit a flying gurnard in a 45gal fish tank? How big does it grow <one of the few true "flying fishes" this species needs great long tanks to thrive if even survive in captivity. I must say that your tank cannot host this animal. Please do admire it from afar. Anthony>

Flying Gurnard II can u send me some pages on flying gurnards <alas, we do not have any Articles on flying gurnards... they are mostly kept by public aquariums. Do pursue other keyword/net searches of this fish by scientific name: Dactylopterus volitans. Best regards, Anthony>

new tank/Gurnards First off, I would like to say thank you for your indirect help with my salt water endeavours (I read your site almost everyday). Your website has been a great help, and the source of a tremendous amount of information. Now for the questions. I recently purchased a 180G glass tank out of the newspaper (got it for $250 including stand, canopy, protein skimmer....and it is in good condition, just needed a cleaning).  <What a bargain> The one problem I have is it has a built in overflow at one of the ends. I want to lower the water level a little but this overflow is fixed. Have any ideas on how I can accomplish this?  <A few... if the supports/walls of the overflow towers are glass, DO NOT try cutting them... unless you want to cut them out and replace them entirely... Do consider rigging "overflow constant level boxes" like those made by CPR for removing water from systems to sumps... And do try just running the system as it is arranged if you have any doubt as to whether this is something you want to modify or no...> Also in my current 30G reef, I have a few silver looking bubbles on the live rock. I have seen one popped, and it almost looked like all that was left was a plastic skin. Any ideas what this could be?  <Yes... Green Algae of the Order Valoniaceae... see the "Green Algae" section on the Marine Index of our website for pix and more: www.WetWebMedia.com as usual...> And finally, I have been trying to find information on Dactylopterus Volitans (Flying Gurnard) but can't seem to find anything. Do you know if they are reef safe, what they eat, an! <Are reef safe, but messy... eat live foods, some can be trained... much like Lionfishes...> d tips for keeping them? Thank you for the help. kevin <Not many "tips"... are relatively hardy... just must be fed... Kept by public aquariums in many places in the world. Bob Fenner>

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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