[stop] [reverse direction]
Is there a less
understood, over-utilized and mistreated fish
family than the damsels? If there is, I am unaware
of it. Hobbyists extending the world over, either
from ignorance or disbelief of the plethora
of information widely available, place these
much maligned finned friends into situations
that are stressful for either the fish, other
aquarium residents, the aquarist, or in many
cases, all three.
So why are they
misunderstood? Because they look cute and adorable
to every new aquarist. Schooling harems of 10-20
juveniles look SO nice in the
retailer's shops. Shop owners instruct the newbie
that these black- and white-striped fish, affectionately
referred to as convicts (no warning sign there!),
make great first additions. I suppose they do,
theoretically, for the beginning aquarist. That
is, until the cute, adorable fish stresses and
kills all newcomers to the aquarium and escapes
even the most valiant attempts at netting.
How can it be
that a marine fish gets over-utilized? With
rare exceptions, local fish stores continually
push the sales of damsels as hardy beginner
fish. They are indeed; there is no denying this.
Few store owners, however, warn of their upcoming
pitfalls. Rather than being the best first fish
into an aquarium, damsels should be retailed
as exactly what they are - fury in a small package.
mistreatment of any marine organism is something
that pains every aquarist. Categorically, there
is no fish family that suffers more than the
damsels at the hands of aquarists. As the first
fish into an aquarium, damsels will see the
rise and fall of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate
- all of these reaching levels which would be
lethal to the vast majority of marine ornamental
organisms. Why does this remain a popular option?
Just as with any
other fish family, damsels have their own niche.
Given their hardiness, disease resistance and
their non-fussy feeding requirements, these
unique characteristics do give them a ticket
for certain aquariums. For newcomers to the
hobby, however, this ticket is best left unused.
to Mark Kingery for his assistance on this project.
For more information on damsels, see Steven
Pro's article here.
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