Talk Fish -- Brackish Water II
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Several denizens of brackish water environments make
excellent aquarium residents. Most
of these fish have been available at one time or another, but many are
available only on a rare-to-occasional basis, so keep your eyes open.
Scats are the first fish to come to the mind of the average hobbyist when brackish water is mentioned. There are three species available, only one of which is commonly seen.
Red and green scats are different varieties of the same species, the easily found Scatophagus argus. The silver scat, Selenotoca mulifasciata, is occasionally available. A third species, the banded scat, Scatophagus tetracanthus, also exists, but it is extremely rare.
Scats get their name, by the way, from Scatophagus, or “offal-eater”; their tendency to congregate around sewage outlets will give you an idea. Despite their weird dietary habits, however, scats are enjoyable members of the brackish community, and are quite comical to watch when young.
Scats prefer increasing amounts of salt as they get older and larger. Adults are captured in natural conditions in full-strength seawater, except at spawning time. Wild adults also grow quite large (full-grown is nearly 12 inches). I’ve never seen a scat over six inches in a private home aquarium.
Scats are omnivorous, but require a fair amount of vegetable matter in their diet. Invest in some vegetable-based flakes or frozen foods, or feed them regularly with duckweed or spinach.
Monos are the next most recognized brackish water species. There are two monos. The more stately of the monos is the sebae mono, Monodactylus sebae. It could easily be referred to as the “rich-man’s angelfish”, because it is more stately and attractive than the silver angelfish, and much more expensive.
The other species, the argenteus or silver mono Monodactylus argenteus, is a pretty fish when young, not quite as tall as the sebae, with lemon-yellow fins, shading to orange toward the tips, and edged in black. The yellow and orange fade as the fish grows however.
Monos are generally good residents of the brackish aquarium. Keep them in schools of four or more, or keep only one, Monos are relatively peaceful to other fish (particularly when kept in schools), but they can be nasty to each other in pairs or trios, the end result being two or three will eventually become one as the strongest singles out first one and then the other to slowly harass to death.
Also, like scats, monos get large, and, like scats, argenteus monos require more and more salt as they grow (sebaes do not).
Archer fishes (several Toxotes species) are the marksmen of the aquatic world. These fish actually shoot insects off of overhanging vegetation in their natural environment with droplets of water forced between the tongue and a groove in the roof of the mouth. I’ve actually been witness to this phenomenon, having had some medium-sized specimens shoot crickets held between my fingers. These are truly fascinating fish, even if you never witness their firepower. Some specimens easily adapt to prepared foods, but most will accept only live and frozen foods.
Go to -- Brackish Water III
3600 Sixth Avenue
Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues
Des Moines, IA 50313
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