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Reef Safe Fish

Is The Angelfish A Reef Safe Fish?

A reef safe fish is one that can be introduced into a saltwater aquarium without fear that it will destroy coral, or any species of reef safe fish or marine life that also inhabits the aquarium. Angelfish are of a special interest in that they are a beautiful and popular addition to a saltwater aquarium.

Some species of Angelfish can be considered to be reef safe fish while other species are not. Larger Angelfish sometime eat at the corral and are aggressive towards smaller fish in the tank, while as a rule of thumb, the smaller species of Angelfish are more apt to be reef safe fish, although there are of course exceptions. At one extreme is the Emperor Angelfish which eats, coral, shrimp, and sometimes other fish. At the other extreme is the Japanese Swallowtail Angelfish which doesn’t eat the coral and gets along with its tank mates. Some smaller species of Angelfish will occasionally nibble at the corral, but usually not enough to cause problems, and usually not at all if they are being fed adequately. Potter’s Angelfish for example is considered to be a very docile, reef safe fish, but has been known to take an occasional nip at large corals, large corals apparently being too much of a temptation.

Many species, like the Multicolor Angelfish, are reef safe when kept in a large aquarium, but may nip at coral, or other fish, if its habitat is too small or crowded.  Almost all Angelfish require plenty or room or at least need some hiding places if more than one or two is to be kept in an aquarium.

The Reef Safe Cleanup Crew – Once reef safe Angelfish, or any other reef safe fish are in place, a saltwater aquarium is generally going to need a reef safe cleaning crew to keep everything spic and span. Angelfish and other fish will do more to dirty up the aquarium than clean it up. Like a reef safe fish, a reef safe cleaning crew, or janitors if you will, would be any type of marine life that takes care of uneaten food, algae, or any waste material that would otherwise accumulate. Reef safe janitors don’t feed on coral, nor do they generally bother other invertebrates or one another. Being scavengers, small crabs, including Hermit crabs, fall into the category of reef safe janitors. Snails also play a valuable role, especially in keeping the sides of the tank clean. Smaller fish like Blennies and Gobies make wonderful tank cleaners although may they may on occasion fall prey to larger fish the aquarium.

Some snails, such as the Bumblebee snail and the Cerith snail are reef safe and do a wonderful job of working their way through substrate, devouring detritus and any uneaten food they may come across. They may crawl on coral, but won’t nibble at it.

A  Lone Survivor – Obviously, if one is to enjoy owning a saltwater aquarium, reef safe fish need to be considered unless the aquarium is only going to house a single species of fish, or the addition of coral is not contemplated. Most varieties of fish, even tropical saltwater fish, that will not bother coral, but many of these will not tolerate being in the same tank with other fish or even others of their own kind. Before going to the expense of purchasing or constructing a saltwater aquarium the first thing to think about is what is going to go in it, and whether or not a need for reef safe fish is going to be an issue. Otherwise, one may start with a number of beautiful and interesting fish, only to find the aquarium containing a single well-fed fish after a few days.

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