THE BIG AL­TER­NA­TIVES

Want a whop­per but you’ve no room? Don’t de­spair! For ev­ery trop­i­cal tank-buster there’s an al­ter­na­tive beauty more suited to home aquar­i­ums.

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Contents - TRIS­TAN LOUGHER Tris­tan is an aquatic au­thor who has worked on var­i­ous re­search projects. His day job is at Cheshire Aquat­ics.

Want a whop­per but no room for a tank-buster? Then check out our al­ter­na­tive beau­ties more suited to home aquar­i­ums.

FOR SOME aquar­ists, there’s no sub­sti­tute for one or more large fish in the tank. These guys tend to know their fish and stock them in suit­ably large aquaria. For oth­ers, it’s the ap­pear­ance of the ju­ve­nile fish that tempts an im­pulse buy. Some fish may have a par­tic­u­lar fea­ture we find fas­ci­nat­ing, like the swim­ming style of the Sweet­lips.

We’re lucky to have such an in­cred­i­ble diver­sity of species to choose from, but if we don’t think our pur­chases through, we’ll en­counter se­ri­ous is­sues as they grow and ma­ture. For­tu­nately, there are al­ter­na­tives in smaller-sized fish that are just as at­trac­tive and fas­ci­nat­ing as their larger brethren.

Avoid­ing tank-busters

The eas­i­est way to avoid a po­ten­tial leviathan in your tank is to re­search all of your in­tended pur­chases. Max­i­mum fish sizes are widely avail­able and this, cou­pled with the knowl­edge that most marines aren’t lim­ited by the size of their aquar­ium, should mean that large fish aren’t taken home in ig­no­rance. Speak to your re­tail­ers – they’re a mine of fish­keep­ing in­for­ma­tion.

There are, how­ever, spon­ta­neous pur­chases that take ev­ery­one by sur­prise. Thou­sands of species make their way into our hobby – some are rare, while oth­ers aren’t usu­ally seen be­cause deal­ers know they’re a mon­ster fish in the mak­ing. So if an un­fa­mil­iar species turns up at your lo­cal stock­ist, find out why you haven’t seen it be­fore, rather than ask­ing how much it costs.

Tank-buster own­ers think they’ll be able to move on their enor­mous fish once it has out­grown the aquar­ium. But where to? Few pri­vate aquar­ists can ac­com­mo­date them and pub­lic aquaria and zoos have lim­its on the num­bers (and types) they can house, too.

In the right con­text – a su­per-sized aquar­ium, or in their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment – tank-busters are fas­ci­nat­ing to ob­serve. It’s not their fault they end up in aquaria that are en­tirely un­suit­able for them.

The tank-busters shown here come with a hap­haz­ard bunch of al­ter­na­tives. That’s the great thing about this pas­time – even though aquaria have a fi­nite hold­ing ca­pac­ity for live­stock, if you can’t have one species there are al­ways plenty of other op­tions. Your al­ter­na­tive fish can be as close as pos­si­ble to the orig­i­nal, or quite dif­fer­ent but just as ap­peal­ing in other ways.

We have such a wide choice of fish to choose from in this hobby that it makes the ac­qui­si­tion of tank­bust­ing species al­most un­for­giv­able.

Pub­lic aquar­i­ums are the best places to house, and view, tank-busters.

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