Dive In: Reef Fish
Colorful, active, and mesmerizing are all words that could be used to describe a saltwater reef. It's no wonder, we want to house one in our living room. Reef fish often develop intricate and dynamic relationships with other creatures in order to thrive in their underwater world. Both symbiotic and commensal partnerships are seen all throughout the reef environment from a clownfish hosting an anemone for protection and in turn providing it with food, to a blind pistol shrimp digging tunnels through the sand to form the perfect home for the goby that watches over it. Reef fish are simply amazing. It is our responsibility encourage sustainable reef practices, so we can all enjoy both the natural ocean and reef aquarium for centuries to come.
What Classifies a Reef Fish?
Reef fish are available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes but they all have one thing in common: a need to be in the right aquarium environment. In the ocean, it would not be uncommon to see schools of tangs, colonies of angelfish, and predators all inhabiting the same reef. However, an aquarium provides a much smaller environment, so one must be selective in the fish they choose to house together and consider their dietary preferences; coral and other invertebrates are often a natural food source for many reef fish, and it would be counterproductive to place fish that dine on coral in a reef aquarium. When reading about "reef-safe" fish, the general assumption amongst aquarists is that the fish is not likely to eat shrimp, snails, crabs, or corals when fed a consistent supplemental diet; however, one should understand that there are always exceptions in the world of aquarium keeping.