Why Do Aquarium Hobbyists Buy Difficult Livestock


Green Target Mandarin Dragonette

Green Target Mandarin Dragonette

Image courtesy of “flipside” from MARSHreef

There was a thread about Mandarin dragonettes on my local reef aquarium club’s website that really had me thinking…why do hobbyists continue to purchase difficult to keep animals? On top of that, why do aquarium store owners and wholesalers continue to order them? I understand that these sensitive creatures are often very attractive and a majority of their purchasers might not realize how difficult they are to keep. But I commonly see seasoned hobbyists making bad purchases, only to be disappointed a few months down the road.

I think part of the reason aquarium keepers make bad purchases is they feel they are skilled enough to handle a difficult fish or invert. At the very least, the individual is looking for a challenge and want to elevate their game. I’m all for advancing one’s skills and gaining more knowledge in the hobby, but not so much at the expense of an animal’s life.

Blue Spot Jawfish Opistognathus Rosenblatti

Blue Spot Jawfish

Here’s a short list of frequently purchased animals that are very difficult to keep and more research should be done prior to their purchase:

  • Spotted Mandarin, Green Mandarin, Scooter Blenny
  • Moorish Idol
  • Alveopora and Goniopora Flowerpots
  • Sand Sifting Sea Star, Linckia Sea Star, Basket Sea Star
  • Sea Apple
  • Elegance Corals
  • Mexican Turbo Snails (yes, they often die in the home aquarium…to warm for them)
  • Blue Spot Jawfish
  • Any Nudibranch

I know this list is somewhat short, but the point behind all of this is to get you, the hobbyist, to research before you purchase a fish, invertebrate or coral.


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