The Moorish Idol Fish
The Moorish Idol Fish is from the fish family Zanclidae.
They are popular with saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.
Moorish Idol fish are commonly mistaken to be Angel Fish or
Butterfly fish when in fact they are more closely related to
the Surgeon fish. They are also sometimes mistaken for the
Banner fish or Pennant fish, which are referred to as the
"Poor Man's" or "False" Moorish Idol.
The Moorish Idol is native to the waters of Australia and
Hawaii. They are also found on the west coast of Central
America, The west coast of Africa and the Red Sea.
The Moorish Idol Fish can grow up to nine inches (twenty-
three centimeters) in length but on average at maturity they
are around seven inches (eighteen centimeters) long. They
need a lot of space in the home aquarium and a lot of places
to hide. The minimum size tank that is recommended for a
Moorish Idol Fish is one hundred gallons.
Most Moorish Idol Fish are peaceful and nonaggressive. The
opinions of aquarists on the wisdom of keeping this fish
with other fish vary from only keeping one or a mated pair
of Moorish Fish in a tank to the idea that four to ten
should be introduced into a tank for their well being.
But it is often stated by aquarium publications that the
mature adults do not like each other, so keeping one or a
mated pair is probably for the best. As juveniles they do
better as a group, but their behavior toward each other is
unpredictable so you will need to keep an eye on them if you
intend to have a group.
The adult Moorish Idol Fish has more trouble adjusting to an
aquarium than the juvenile fish. Often the adult may starve
itself when first put into an aquarium environment. They do
not take stresses of any kind well.
When a fish refuses to eat, stimulating its desire for food
is done by adding live rock rich with coralline algae and
sponge growth to the tank. You can also offer treats like
very finely chopped clams, shrimp and squid. Some recommend
giving them supplements like marine algae and Spirulina
along with vegetable matter.
Moorish Idol Fish will pick as their home soft coral polyps
or LPS coral. They live primarily off of coralline algae and
sponge but they have been known to eat a stray crustacean
that wanders too close.
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