What to Consider When Keeping Toxic Marine Fish

The Longhorn Cowfish (Lactoria cornuta) is a toxic fish commonly available in the hobbyToxic marine fishes kept in aquariums present certain husbandry challenges that hobbyists should be aware of if they plan to purchase one. I’m not referring to fishes that possess venomous spines or deliver a venomous bite, such as lionfishes, rabbitfishes, and fang blennies, but to those capable of exuding toxins into the water with potentially deadly consequences. For example, in the family Ostraciidae, the so-called boxfishes, cowfishes, and trunkfishes, there are numerous species that, when harassed or stressed, are capable of releasing a toxin (aptly named ostracitoxin) that can be deadly to all life in the tank, themselves included. A Sixstripe Soapfish (Grammistes sexlineatus) peeking out of a caveThe so-called soapfishes (family Grammistidae) are another toxic lot. Under duress, they can exude mucus containing the chemical grammistin with similarly deadly results. The common name soapfish is derived from the fact that this noxious mucus can form a soap-like lather. The purpose of such toxins is to discourage predators from making a meal of these fish, but hobbyists might wonder what good that does if the toxin ends up killing the fish that released it. Well, consider that Mother Nature never intended these toxins to be used in closed aquarium systems More: What to Consider When Keeping Toxic Marine Fish

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Saltwater Smarts is a unique online resource created by long-time aquarists Chris Aldrich and Jeff Kurtz to inspire and entertain a new generation of marine aquarium hobbyists while helping them acquire the reliable, authoritative knowledge base they need to succeed with a saltwater system. By clarifying key concepts, techniques, and terminology, as well as sharing expert insights from fellow enthusiasts and industry professionals, Chris and Jeff hope to promote a more accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable marine aquarium hobby. Read more about our mission and the contributors who are part of our team.
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