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What is perhaps the most striking assembly of marine fish becomes viewable only upon descending below the surface of the water, dropping down along the face of a steep reef drop off. Thickets of Acropora may inhibit a clear view of the reef structure, but generally, this is not what grasps the diver's attention. Hundreds, if not thousands, of brightly colored fishes splashed with a vibrant collage of orange, yellow, red, and purple garner an observer's immediate and complete attention. Hovering and feeding high above the reef structure, these vast schools of feeding machines are attention grabbers, to say the least. And boy, can they feed! They are, after all, family members with groupers.

Aquarium hobbyists can only hope to piece together a crude mimic of this awe-inspiring scene. Just the same, though, it's a scene that remains breathtaking even in a home aquarium. Without failure, a small shoal of Anthias species will become the focal point of the fish selection.

Anthias are not, however, for every aquarium or aquarist. They require a bit more attention to detail than do many other aquarium fish. Prerequisites to success with these fish include: copious amounts of both prepared and naturally available food, pristine water quality, a vast amount of swimming room, and a higher than average water flow.

Each species is slightly different in regards to its preferred captive conditions as well. While some may prefer to associate with eight or more individuals of the same species, other species of Anthias which will not thrive unless kept as solitary members of the family. A few minutes of background research will undoubtedly go a long way toward success with whatever species is chosen.

Finally, do not be willing to settle for just any old Anthias. After a few minutes of research, you will quickly realize that color choices are various and plentiful. Not all species are regularly available (or available at all, for that matter), but just the same, search for those eclectic members of the genus. Once you have obtained that long sought-after species after some diligent searching and planning, the wait surely will have been worth it. Come to think of it… a long search period might be helpful (and necessary). After all, the price of a 10-member shoal of Anthias will likely rival that of the next semester of classes at your local community college.

Text by Henry C. Schultz III.
Photos by Reef Central members.

Reefkeeping Magazine™ Reef Central, LLC-Copyright © 2008