Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Moorish Idols, Family Zanclidae: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Moorish Idols

Related FAQs:  Moorish Idols 1, Moorish Idols 2, & FAQs on: Moorish Idol Identification, Moorish Idol Behavior, Moorish Idol Compatibility, Moorish Idol Selection, Moorish Idol Systems, Moorish Idol Health, Moorish Idol Reproduction,

Exophthalmia/Pop-Eye      10/25/18
Hi there,
I wonder if you can help with a question regarding pop-Eye. I acquired a Moorish Idol about 5 months ago, and while he was in quarantine, go through the tank transfer method, he developed a fairly large pop-eye.
<One-sided? Do READ on WWM re... most all unilateral... are due to physical traumas. A Zanclus kept for months is testimony to your good care>
This would get a bit better and then flair up again, but once he settled in the DT, it remained constant. The eye is not cloudy, but it rather looks as if there is a gas bubble behind it.
<That or fluid... yes; does happen; and hard to "remedy">
No other fish in the tank have ever had pop-eye and the Moorish Idol is not being bullied by any other fish. He is healthy looking with no other symptoms, can clearly see the incoming food,(not sure whether with both eyes…), behaves normal and eats well and everything he can get. All water parameters are within a good range, with nitrites sitting around 20. There is no other disease in the DT either.
My question is, should I at some stage treat the fish? Will the pop-eye go eventually away or can it be that it has become a permanent condition after 5 months?
<I would not treat, will not likely go away in any time frame.>
As always, I appreciate your expertise and help,
Kind regards,
Jana Maddock
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Exophthalmia/Pop-Eye      10/26/18

Thanks Bob, for the quick reply. Yes, it is unilateral. And it was of course the nitrates (not nitrites) that are at 20!
<Ah yes; assumed>
I’ve always kept the Moorish Idols, the last two in Australia I had for 4 years before we left for South Africa. I collect sponge from the rock pools every now and then…
<Ahh! >
Wishing you a good day further,
Kind regards,
Jana Maddock
<And you Jana. BobF>

Re: Acropora tricolor, fdg., and Zanclus fdg.      6/2/14
Hello Mr. F.
I just wanted to let you know, regarding that Acropora Tricolor that since
our last conversation I started feeding my corals with food specifically developed for SPS (dry zooplankton from an Italian company named Elos ) and the coral completely recovered. All the other SPS are looking much better and the polyp extension is greater than ever.
<Ah good>
So, I just wanted to point out what I have found out by myself: these
animals need to be fed in order to thrive,
<Oh yes; gone over and over on WWM>

maybe the statement that they
need only light in our tanks was true some time ago when the filtration
mechanisms were not so aggressive (the skimmer for example ), but now I
wouldn`t even think to keep corals without feeding them. The same goes for the fish: I have a Zanclus Cornutus for well over 1.5 years now and is doing great and not touching the corals, as well as my P. Imperator but I feed 4-5 times / day with different kind of foods.
Thank you again for pointing me at the right direction.
Andrei from Romania
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol Feeding 5/5/'11
<<Hello Adam.>>
Which type of New Spectrum food do you recommend for Moorish Idols please?
<<Well while New Spectrum is a quality dried food and there is nothing wrong with it, I prefer to use a variety of foods and not be exclusive with just one, especially with something that can be so dietarily sensitive in captivity as Zanclus cornutus. Primarily they are benthic omnivores, some of them feeding primarily on sponges and tunicates...which is why it's best to try them in very large matured reef aquaria, if at all (but that's another argument). If your Moorish Idol is accepting dried fare you've certainly beat the odds. I know new spectrum has a few formulas for finicky omnivores and angels (some of which have a similar diet to your fish) so I would try those. It's also not bad idea to offer frozen planktivorous fare like Mysids and chopped Nori if you aren't already. There is also an Ocean Nutrition frozen formula for larger angels that has sponges and chopped crustaceans in it's recipe, so you may want to try that as well. In the meantime check these out;
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/moorish_idols.htm (and the related linked FAQ's)
http://www.tfhmagazine.com/details/articles/still-impossible-after-all-these-years-keeping-moorish-idols.htm .>>
<<To you as well.>>
<<Adam Jackson.>>
Re Moorish Idol Feeding    5/6/11

<<Hello again.>>
Perhaps it would help to add, I live in Phuket Thailand where on the East Coast these are one of the most common fish and my house is only a few hundred yards from the beach so they do not get too stressed on transportation which I think kills so many of these fish before they even reach the US, Europe etc.
<<Being near the source would certainly increase chances of success, yes.>>
I have been keeping marine fish for 25 plus years and had a Moorish Idol in the UK for about 9 months and then it suddenly died so I was put off trying again as I really believe these fish should be left in the sea unless you live very locally to their food source and water. Anyway I am back in Phuket I caught a Moorish Idol and thought if it did not settle in a week I would put it back on the same reef.
<<Well...releasing animals back into the wild, especially if they have been mixed in captive systems with non-native denizens (i.e. exposed to other bacteria, diseases) can be dangerous, and has been in many circumstances for certain eco-systems around the world. There's somewhat less of a threat here since this a native species and not an invasive one...but that's another discussion though.>>
He ate fresh live cockle from the fish market and I presume the local fish (as you know they range from the Indian Ocean all the way to South America) might come into contact with the cockles in the local ecosystem.
<<Possibly though the diet of these animals is made up of over 80% benthic tunicates and sponges with the rest typically zooplankton and some vegetable material. So while it's a good sign the animal is eating I would still offer a more wide variety.>>
He for many months ate very well (have videos to prove it) but I had to travel so I put him back on the reef I took him from. Last week I decided as I was back to catch another one, I usually try the smaller adults of about 3 inches but he will not take any notice of any food including cockles. He is from the same reef. He eats all the algae from the rocks in the tank but is losing weight so I will put it back at the weekend. Do you know why this fish is not seen in Queensland Australia where I spend a lot of time?
<<The juveniles have a long pelagic larval stage, and they're at the whim of the currents for the most part. With their current range, they'd have to survive a long travel in open water, away from a lot of food sources in a wide range of climates that they simply can't survive in. Check out this for more; http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=5950 >>
<<Adam Jackson.>>

Moorish Idol In Reef tank?/Moorish Idol/Compatibility 2/11/11
Hi there
<Hello Marci>
You probably get sick of hearing this but I love your site, it is so informative.
<Never get sick of it.>
Two days ago, I inherited a medium/large Moorish Idol. It was healthy and eating.
<Lucky you!>
I put it in my 200 gallon fish tank with 2 large angels, 2 large tangs, and a few other smaller random fish. One of the large angels is really beating it up it. He has him pinned in a corner, and if the Moorish Idol tries to go elsewhere in the tank, he chases him. I have two choices.
I can leave him in the fish tank and hope things will settle down or transfer him to my 180 gallon reef tank. I several small fish in there (cardinals, a couple of Anthias, a Mystery Wrasse, 3 tangs, all smaller than the Moorish Idol) The tank is full of Zoanthids, and hard and soft corals. In your opinion, should I put him in the reef tank, knowing that he will possibly nip at corals or take my chance that since he already is eating pellets, he won't destroy the tank?
<If things haven't calmed down by now, I'd definitely move into the reef.
There would be a medium risk, it may or may not bother the corals. In the wild their primary diet is sponges, algae, and benthic invertebrates.
If it were me, I'd risk losing a few polyps rather than lose a beautiful Moorish Idol that's eating prepared foods.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Moorish Idol In Reef tank?/Moorish Idol/Compatibility 2/11/11- 2/16/11
<Hello Marci>
Just wanted you to know that the Moorish idol is very happy in the reef tank, eating like a champ and not picking on the corals.
<That's the best news I've heard all day. May I ask what you are feeding the Moorish Idol?>
Thanks for your great advice.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Moorish Idol In Reef tank?/Moorish Idol/Compatibility/Feeding 2/11/11- 2/16/11
This is a picture of him eating Nori, he also eats Spectrum pellets and Mysis shrimp.
Thank you Marci. Information like this may help others in keeping a Moorish Idol.
A beautiful, if not the most beautiful marine fish. Do take good care of him.
James (Salty Dog)>

Moorish Idol Feeding/New Life Spectrum Pellets 2/12/09
Hello Miss SaraM, or any other crew member for that matter.
<James with you today, Kai.>
Would like to apologise for writing to you almost everyday,
<Not necessary, is why we are here.>
including today, and as Sara mentioned, I have found a local forum where I can share questions and doubts, besides here. However, this one question that I have for you today could not be answered by my local forum people (if that is what you call them), so really sorry to trouble you, (again), but would really appreciate your help :) Besides my small 3 feet tank, my dad has a larger 5 feet reef tank with mainly LPS and a few softies.
Despite my advice, he came home today with a Moorish Idol...
<Yikes. I might mention that Hawaiians call them Kihikihi, and don't ask me what that means. Bob more than likely knows.>
Well, I guess the only consolation was that it is a very healthy specimen, and began eating during quarantine.
<A good sign.>
So far, he is eating live brine shrimp, frozen Mysis, human shrimp meant for human consumption, and a special home-made blend of seafood and Nori seaweed. Ok, firstly, in all your years of experience, do you know if Moorish Idols consume LPS/soft corals?
<Oh yes.>
I have seen it pecking on some Zoanthids in the quarantine tank, but the Zoanthids look perfectly fine, the polyps are closed, but they are not damaged. Perhaps it was just going after food that got caught on the Zoas.
I did notice, however, it obliterated every sponge there was in his quarantine tank.
<Seems to be one of their favorites.>
Which is good? As I hear they consume sponges in the wild, and my dad has a more than healthy growth of sponge in his tank.
<Not for long.>
Regarding the New Life Spectrum pellets which you guys mentioned will give Moorish Idols greater chance of success, there is one LFS in my country that sells it. So far, only seen it being sold there and there only. Is there any special blend I should go for? Or just any kind, so long as it is New Life Spectrum?
<I'd try to get the one for finicky fish, but if not available, you will have to settle for the marine blend.>
The Idol has not taken any pelleted food so far, and my main question is, even though the New Life Spectrum food is so highly sought after, if the Moorish Idol will not take any regular pelleted food, will it go for the New Life Spectrum? Or will it not, considering it is still a pellet kind of food, and the Moorish Idol as of now, does not take any pellets. Or is there some magic in the food that will make the fish eat it?
<The New Life Spectrum site has video showing Idols' eating the pellets like gangbusters but is no guarantee yours will. The are one of the most difficult fish to acclimate to prepared food. Getting it to eat is half the battle. I'm thinking your father's tank may be little too small for keeping an Idol. You don't mention the size, just the length, but regardless, I wouldn't attempt to keep one unless I had at least a 72" x 24" tank.>
It is a shame that such a beautiful fish wound up in my house....where it could have a much brighter future in the sea.
<Yes it is, I wish they would be banned from collecting as a very, very small percentage live more than a couple of months in closed systems.
Hopefully we will learn what it takes to keep these beauties successfully.>
Well, since it is eating well now, perhaps there is a slight chance of survival?
<I do wish you luck here my friend.>
Do advise on the pellet food and I will get them ASAP.
<I have.>
And yes, sorry for troubling you busy people with my incessant questions...my school holidays are almost over and I need to burn off all the excitement :) Will try my hardest to get all my queries answered from my LFS, and the people at my local forum, as I know you guys are real busy.
<Again, this is what we do.>
Thanks for all the help thus far! Well wishes for you and your tanks.
<Kai, do read here and related FAQ's. Will give your more insight to this beautiful fish.
And if you like, visit New Life Spectrum here, watch the video and hope Dad's turns out this way.
Do keep us posted with your hopeful progress on the Idol.
James (Salty Dog)>
Cheers! Kai
Re: Moorish Idol Feeding/New Life Spectrum Pellets 2/13/09

Thanks James.
<You're welcome.>
I have just bought the New Life Spectrum pellet. They only have a few types....I bought the one that says "all purpose formula, for herbivores, carnivores and omnivores" I read the ingredients, looks delicious!
<I wouldn't eat them.>
Contains algae, Spirulina, garlic, etc etc...and copper sulphate!? Ferrous sulphate!? Is this safe for my fish!?
<The levels are extremely low, no problem.>
Anyway, I guess even though it is not the ideal one for the Moorish Idol, it is still better than nothing as it is <n>ew <l>ife <s>prectrum,
<Kai, please capitalize proper nouns, names of companies, etc. I don't like doing that.>
and according to the advertisement I saw, all their products are good!
<They are, use them myself.>
I took some new life pellets and threw it into the quarantine tank with the MI. Did not eat....then i <I> went to take another kind of pellet and threw it in too, and it did not eat again.
<Not surprising.>
Went to the kitchen for a drink of water, came back, and saw it eating the pellets at the bottom of the tank!! AMAZING! But....since I threw both kinds in, I have no idea which one it ate...guess I will have to try again this evening :)
<He is eating, the main goal here.>
I am also pleased to find my corals in my quarantine tank untouched and uneaten. Hope this keeps up.
<So far, so good.>
I hope I can squeeze in another question. My 3 feet tank currently has 2 Banggai Cardinals, they are very established and have been here for months.
Will it be ok if I add 2 more cardinals?
<Should be fine.>
I kinda want to add the yellow striped ones. I am unsure of the exact name, but it has vertical stripes, a neon ring around the eye and a spot on the tail area. Will look up Cardinalfish in WetWebMedia later.
Just updating you on my MI venture. Even though it is my dad's, seems like <I>'m helping him take care of it while he goes to work XD. Really hope I can e-mail you few months, or years down the road saying that my MI is doing really great. Beautiful fishes. I guess when the buying stops, the killing can too! Here's to successful reef keeping! Cheers, you have been nothing but help thus far.
<Good luck with the Idol. James (Salty Dog)>

Keeping Moorish Idols hello Mr. Fenner, <<JasonC here, Mr. Fenner is away diving>> Is Moorish idol a coral eater? I have Acropora, brain and bubble coral and gobies in my tank. will they pick on them? thanks.  <<From what I read, and I've never dared keep one, these fellows are strict vegetarians or at the very least sponges, tunicates, and macro algae - there is some limited reading on the site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm You may also want to post some questions on the WWM discussion forum to get some more opinions on this: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/  Cheers, J -- >>

Moorish Idol - new food from Florida? Hi, I was hoping I could keep a Moorish Idol. <Not easily done historically> So far, anyone I've talked to says they are impossible to keep. I was told at one of my local aquarium stores that some company in Florida came out with this awesome new food just for Moorish Idols and apparently it greatly enhances the chances of keeping one. Is that true? Have you heard of it? <Likely you're referring to Spectrum (food) by New Life (Pablo Tepoot). A very good food, and Pablo has told me (on several occasions) how he has been able to raise Idols on it> Is the food the only thing preventing Moorish Idols from being kept in a tank or is it something else (water quality? some water nutrient? perhaps specific coral or disease?) Thank you, Luke <In my estimation, Zanclus just are "naturally disadvantaged" in the amount of stress, strain they can/will tolerate on being collected, held, transported from the wild. Food issues are important, but secondary to contributions to their captive mortality. Bob Fenner.

"The Undiscovered Country"  (Keeping Difficult Animals) ScottF: <Hi there again, Steve!> I strongly agree with your advice not to buy Moorish Idols. Just because one has been "fine" in someone's tank for many months does not mean it is actually in good health. <Yep! And, unfortunately, as hobbyists we are often lulled into believing that because someone has managed to keep a difficult fish like this alive for some time, they have "mastered" its care where all other hobbyists and many public aquariums have failed. We are often on the "cutting edge" of husbandry with marine animals, but we need to really study the requirements of such animals before we experiment with them...Keeping a fish that lives 10-20 years in the wild for 1, 2, or even 5 years does not constitute success, IMO> Fish often seem "fine" up to the moment they die. A friend of mine who was bragging about how healthy his was and how much it was eating found it dead one morning after about six months. Probably starved slowly. <An all too common experience...> All tests normal and all other fish fine in this long-established large tank. I'm  beginning to feel the same way about Chelmon rostratus personally. I had a 5" one that was thriving--eating a large variety of foods vigorously and active--for several months. One morning he was leaning dead against a rock. Had responded normally and eaten well the night before. <Yeah...this is not an uncommon experience with these fishes. There must be some sort of dietary issue that we are not solving, even with the best captive diets, and with excellent water conditions. Some fishes simply do not adapt to captive life. We need to really research the academic studies on such animals, and perhaps we can glean more about what they need to thrive in captivity...With the vast knowledge out there on the internet, and the many discussion boards out there, many of these mysteries can be solved> All other fish remain fine and all tests normal.  Steve Allen. <Well, Steve- I'm glad that you share this philosophy! As hobbyists, we have a responsibility to the animals that we keep, and to the wild reefs. It's important to continue to push the "state of the art" in Aquariology, but we need to do it in a highly disciplined, controlled manner, with a complete understanding of the ecology of the animal in question. Most important, never forget to share your successes (and failures, for that matter!) with your fellow hobbyists. Together, maybe we can unlock some of the mysteries that may make it possible to keep these challenging animals for their natural life spans. And THAT is success! Here's to the future, the "Undiscovered Country" (Yikes! I've been watching too many "Star Trek" movies...!) Regards, Scott F>

How Much Moor Moorish Idol? >This isn't meant to get anyone to try keeping them, but upon reading your FAQ's on the Moorish Idol, I just had to send a message to you stating that I personally have been keeping one in my 90 G aquarium for over a year now, without any signs of stress or disease. >>Well, share your secret, will you?  And while we're at it, let's shoot for ten! >He is quite chubby, and has a healthy appetite. He eats everything I've offered, from frozen, to flake, to whatever!  I THINK HE'D EAT CAT FOOD IF I PUT IT IN THE TANK!! >>LOL!  Are you SURE it's a Moorish Idol?  Could you have purchased a mutant?  ;) >I started him out eating a paste that I made out of spongiform, shrimps, and algae, placed in half a bivalve shell. >>Your own recipe, or did you find this somewhere?  Did it take much experimentation?  How was the fish when you first purchased him?  Size at purchase?  So on and so forth makes the story so much better (and gives others who might think they have the skill a good place to start, eh?). >Once he started to feed in the aquarium, it was off to the races, (or should I say feed store?! ). Anyway, I would like to say GOOD LUCK to anyone that endeavors to keep such an animal. >>Indeed, but my friend, you and I know that it takes MUCH more than good luck, don't you agree?  This additional information would be quite helpful should you care to share. >The only reason I tried is because I'd heard about the food trick, and found him at a reasonable price. Other than that, I won't argue with the fact that they should probably be left in the sea. Thanks for your time. If you'd like to contact me about what I use in my tanks as far as nutrients, or for feeding fish, please feel free to reply. >>I do, I did, and I will.   >Take care. Happy fishkeeping.  Chuck "Guitornado" Norbury >>Yourself as well.  Marina

- Moorish Idol Food - Hey guys!, As I was reading some of your questions on Moorish idols I stumbled over one guy talking about he had this mixture recipe he feeds his idol and it works real good.  I'm wondering because I have an idol who on the second day at ALL the sponges in the aquarium and is still eating lots of life on the live rock.  So if you got a reply on the recipe would u be so kind to tell me the secret ingredients!? Thanks a lot Scott <Well Scott, the answer was right there in the FAQ. Here's the snippet from the FAQ: "I started him out eating a paste that I made out of spongiform, shrimps, and algae, placed in half a bivalve shell." There you have it. Cheers, J -- >

Moorish Idol Hello, <Hi Scott> It seems this past week I have leaned much about feeding tricks for many finicky eaters. <That's wonderful, always good to learn.> Today I purchased a Moorish Idol.  When I went to the store I was just looking into getting a hang on refugium.  Well I did get it and then I saw the most beautiful  Moorish Idols I have ever seen in captivity. <Truly wonderful fish, shame they often do not do well in captivity.  Might I recommend also that you take a look at the FAQs on the website? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm> I asked one of the workers if they were eating and he said yes and even showed me.  Only 2 weren't eating the food but were pecking ate seaweed and gravel.  I decided to go with the smallest one that was most active, eating the most, and was in over all good condition.  Along with the refugium I bought some frozen brine and plankton.  I took the Idol home.  Acclimated him for just under an hour.  He started to look around the tank and some of the fish were very interested in the new arrival.  Even the clowns came up to him! So I decided to feed half a cube of the plankton and brine to keep the other fish occupied while the Idol got adjusted. <Good strategy. Although I have to wish you had quarantined him. You just never know what they might be carrying.> I poured the food in and the clowns took some the wrasse nibbled at it pleasingly and the tangs was so excited to see new food.  As it got midway in the tank I was very surprised to see the Idol come to the food and start to eat it! <Very good> I am sooo happy.  He ate the most in the tank, and since his 6 hour arrival I have kept feeding  him tiny proportion every 2 hours so he fattens up. I know brine is not a good choice, but one the Idol get adjusted I am planning to slowly switch to Mysis and plankton. <I would suggest that you put Selcon and/or other types of vitamins on the brine to give them some nutrition.> I hope this is some help to anyone who is as crazy as me to buy The Moorish Idol.   From: Scott in Canada. <Good luck Scott, MacL>

Pablo Tepoot's "Spectrum" Fish Foods and Zanclus Hi Bob et al,  <Cheryl>  We are looking to purchase some of the Pablo Tepoot's "Spectrum" Fish Foods - We live in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Do you know where we can get this?  <Check out Pablo's site and contact him re: http://www.nlpublish.com/ >  Fortunately (or unfortunately) we have purchased a Moorish Idol that has been doing well for us in our 90 gal. tank. He was at the fish store for about 2-3 weeks. He was not well in the beginning, but after the 3 weeks he looked great and was eating a variety of foods.  <Very good>  Being that he was already at the store, we decided to take him and give him as good a chance as we could (we have been keeping fish now for about 10 years with good success). I do agree we should leave them in the ocean (we had the pleasure of snorkeling in Hawaii this year and we saw large numbers of them! - Stunning I might add), but once at the store....  His top fin (streamer) was gone, but he is growing it back well. We have had him in our tank now for about 3 weeks and all seems well. I would like to get the food that you recommend as you have the best advice out there! At present we are feeding brine shrimp, Mysis, blood worm, some fresh Caulerpa, and some flake food. He is picking at the rocks and eating at some of the sponge in the tank.  Many thanks in advance.  Cheryl & Joe Vandal  <Sounds like a "winner" specimen... doing well in your care. Do try the Spectrum food... amazing in its acceptance and nutrition. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idols (6/25/04) Hi Steve, <Howdy> My original attachment was quite large, but I tried to send one which was less then 200kb and it still didn't work, I just thought you might like to know. <Thanks, this has been a problem for a few folks recently. Do try again.> While I'm e-mailing you I was wondering, I was in at the LFS today (returning my Vermiculated Angel from my earlier question) and they had a number of fat, active and healthy looking Moorish Idols. The surprising thing was they were eating Spectrum (by New Life) pellets quite greedily. <Promising> I have never even considered getting a Moorish Idol but after seeing eating specimens, I'm am having second thoughts. I was wondering will Spectrum pellets be enough nutrition for this fish, my tank is full of LR and I do have a reasonable selection of macro-algae and half my LR is spotted with red 'fire sponge'? <This food has a good reputation. Combined with other foods, one would think the fish would get adequate nutrition, but Idols have been known to waste away and die despite "eating well." Perhaps some essential nutrient is missing. It could be like the early sailors who thought that they were taking adequate food along and then died of scurvy for want of a few oranges.> I am also in the process of ordering a large refugium for plankton, pods and macro-algae, I'm sure it will take some time to get a reasonable growth of algae (I was planning to add a MH light to the refugium, is this necessary? <Probably overkill. I've found power compacts to work quite well. Search the FAQs for info on lighting refugiums.>) but would it be possible to harvest this algae for Idol in the future, or is time an issue. <You might be able to get it to eat Sea Veggies. You could also order a large quantity of Gracilaria or Ulva from www.inlandaquatics.com or www.ipsf.com and use a clip to feed it. You may also be able to obtain macroalgae starters from local marine aquarists at a club swap.> I'm not likely to get this fish and I can guess what your answer will be but I thought that maybe an eating Moorish Idol may be to good to pass up. <Well, I don not normally encourage keeping these, but some people do succeed. There are a few more question to consider too. How long have they been at the dealer? Maybe you should keep an eye on them for a while to be more certain that they continue to eat well and look healthy.> Also are there any known compatibility issues with Moorish Idols, I only have 2 O-clowns, a Fire Goby and my mystery Hawkfish. <I would not anticipate problems with these fish, depending on the size of your tank. Needs to be at least 125G. Aggressive tankmates like Triggers are a definite no-no.> Sorry about slipping in that extra question <no problem> but I just couldn't stop thinking about them and after spending hours researching Idols it seems that if you do have an eating specimen, there is a chance. <Yes. empting indeed. If you continue to see healthy feeding, and are willing to put the effort into maintaining this fish, you might just succeed.> Thanks in advance for your advice and generally for your great site <an honor to play a small part in this>, I will try to re-send the pics in a week or so <sounds good> - Chris.

Moorish Idols This is not so much a question as an observation regarding Moorish Idols. Given how difficult of a fish they can be to keep, even for experienced aquarist, I thought I'd pass on some insights I've had on keeping them over the past few years. First off, don't even consider purchasing an Idol unless you have a 150 gal or larger tank. I have a 5 year old, 150 gal reef tank with Acroporas, Montiporas, etc.... The swimming patterns these fish deserve is compromised with anything smaller. You might get away with it in the first 6 months, but, I guarantee the fish will waste away eventually. This is a very sensitive fish, and tank ergonomics are very important to it acclimating efficiently. Again, there might be exceptions, but it will be rare. Also, just as important to the size of the tank, is the way the tank is aquascaped. If you have it overloaded with coral and rock, the Idol will not be able to swim in a normal manner- long, graceful slow turns in varying directions. My 150 is a custom design set up with a depth is 30 inches. Even with my configuration, I feel this tank is still on the small side for a med- large MR. Additionally, you need sufficient live rock to help the MR eat during it's acclimatization. Rarely, will an Idol eat right away anything prepared etc. Again, it does happen that they do, but rarely. As for a way I found to help a very finicky eater transition to prepared food- here it goes. Over the first month the fish would not even look at anything I put in the tank- I tried everything from Nori to frozen sponge, flakes, pellets. It wasn't until I took some frozen Angel Food from (it has sponge in it) and placed it in a specially designed clip that has a kind of plastic net attachment and placed a couple of cubes in the netting and set the clip into my rock work. Since almost all Idols pick at rock, the food was displayed naturally and he went for it. Then I placed some Nori in the clip and set it into the rock with the same results. I did this for a couple of days, and then placed the clip and suctioned it to the side of the glass-He continued to go after it. Finally, to make this process work really easy, I have the clip attached to a little bit of fishing line that is secured to the top of the tank, which makes accessing the clip a breeze. My MR has been living a year and has gotten enormous. One other thing to mention, don't have any aggressive fish in the tank as the MR rarely are aggressive and will get bullied. I hope this helps anyone who is considering getting an MR Rich Heisen <Thank you for your input. Will share. Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol Feeding Tips Hi, <Hello! Ryan Bowen in your aid today.>      I recently added a Pseudanthias lori (Anthias), after his initial period of hiding he came out and was then promptly chased around the tank by my Paracirrhites forsteri Hawkfish. <Odd, but not unheard of> This was unexpected because they are both around 3 inches in length and the Hawkfish has never bothered the more mouth-sized fish like the small Chromis' and clowns in my tank. I removed the Hawkfish to a 20 gallon tub (which only has airstones and LR in it - will he be alright in there?)<Check pH, and perform frequent water changes using tank water> and am wondering will the Hawkfish still chase the Anthias if I return him to the main tank in a few days, if no, how long do you think I could maintain the Hawkfish in the 20 gallon tub (with some upgrades to it) while I organize a more suitable home? <I think that a re-introduction is in order, as long as you have re-arranged the rockwork a bit.  This is certainly a territory battle, and now your Anthias may be bit more defensive.> I recently asked you guys (I think it was Steve) some advice on a Moorish Idol that was eating Spectrum pellets, after your response, which was to maybe give it a go, I took up the challenge and after 7 weeks my Idol is looking good. (I have even documented everything in case I succeed) My Idol still eats mainly Spectrum pellets (around 60 pellets a day, for a large juvenile-3.inches long), but after a couple of weeks I taught him to eat Nori sushi seaweed off the water surface, he seems to prefer the Nori to the pellets and given the opportunity he will stuff himself on the Nori instead of the pellets. I usually feed him his pellets first, then his Nori (which I give him on and off between main meals) but I have been thinking (mostly comparing to tang and angel diets) that he may need a higher percentage of Nori then pellets, what do you guys think? <I think that him eating anything is a miracle.  I would use Selcon soaked Nori, as opposed to pellets if possible.  Also, you may want to look for other types of algae formed in mats (red varieties also available, and are important nutrients to include in his diet.  Have you considered using refugia to grow fresh algae for him?> Also, after noticing my Idol slowly (over weeks) pick at a small sponge, I have been trying to get my hands on a commonly eaten sponge to supplement his diet, could you recommend one, preferably a commonly abundant species. <I'd look for frozen foods with sponge content...Some angel composites contain sponge, with mussels, clams, and algae.  Great stuff.> I was also thinking about getting into breeding (gold-banded maroon clowns, neon gobies and Dottybacks) and was wondering if you could recommend any books? <You'd better start with Martin Moe, he's wonderfully simple and precise.>                                                                          Thanks for your advice and your brilliant site - Chris <Anytime Chris!  Ciao, Ryan>

Feeding Moorish Idol Hi Bob, I have a MI, and I am having problems getting him to feed, any advice would be great. I have a 160 gal tank.  I have had the fish for about two weeks, he picks at my live rock, but refuses to eat anything I offer him, yet he seems to be fine. Cheers Jim. <This is going to sound VERY odd, but do try Spectrum Fish Food... yes... pellets... Have seen these eaten by Zanclus... know Pablo Tepoot, the maker... have seen his that are fed on this exclusively... Works. Bob Fenner> 
- Feeding Moorish Idol, Follow-up -
Hi Bob, <JasonC here in his stead.> Thanks for the advice on my Moorish Idol. I will try the pellets. I was reading about the guy who used some sort of clip with a bag attached? he put muscle in it, do you know where I can get one of these items.  <I don't exactly but would avail yourself to the online retailers... also perhaps improvise. Are many types of feeding clips out there.> Cheers Jim. <Cheers, J -- >

Moorish Idol  9/25/05 Hi Bob,   Thanks for all the wonderful help and wealth of knowledge that has helped me maintain and keep my marine livestock alive and well with little loss of life.  With that said I'm embarrassed to say I bought a Moorish Idol.  He's in a 120g 5'  long FOWLR tank along with a Hippo tang, Flag fin angel, Copperbanded BF (1yr and healthy) and false eyed puffer.  The MI is very aggressively eating the following Frozen foods- Formula 1 & 2, Mysis shrimp, Plankton and Spirulina enriched brine shrimp.  In addition it's also eating the following Dry foods- Formula 1& 2 flakes, freeze dried brine shrimp and nibbling at Formula 2 pellets.  I'm also supplementing with lettuce algae from my refuge.  I have yet to get him to eat sushi Nori.  (by the way, I plan on upgrading to a 220g tank in 9 months) My question for you is how often should I feed the MI?  Currently I'm feeding 3 times daily.  Is this enough or should I try and feed 4 times daily?  My live rock is pretty barren except for coralline algae. <Larry, at least you got by the first hurdle.  Three feedings are plenty.  The 220 should increase your chances of keeping this fish, hoping it will make it through the next nine months.  I would add Selcon to the food before feeding.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Larry, getting ready for the big freeze in Minnesota!

Moorish Idol Feeding Problems 9/19/05 Hi Bob  I purchased my Moorish Idol from my LFS (In Oxford England) 6 weeks ago, and knew only about the problems this fish has with eating when you get them home, so I made sure the fish was eating properly before purchasing it.  I then reserved the fish at the LFS and collected him 4 weeks later and yes he was still eating as strong as ever.  What I didn't know after reading your articles, was that this fish will more than likely die after a while which is very sad.  But now I have him, I will do my absolute best to look after him to the best of my abilities.   <Quoted from the first entry in the Moorish Idol FAQ's: "I would steer clear of this fish. While it may be "eating like crazy", whether it's eating enough of the right things is most likely a different story. A VAST majority of Moorish Idols do not survive more than a few days or weeks in captivity. Of the ones that do, and snare a hopeful buyer like yourself, another 95% percent of those are dead within a month or two."  I agree completely with this quote and will pass along a request to Bob to update the Moorish Idol page to more explicitly express these facts.  I applaud your careful observation and patience before buying specimens, unfortunately as you now know even MI's that eat rarely survive more than a few months.> I'm not a new comer to keeping marines as I used to work in my LFS 15 years ago.  At the moment I only have a 2 ft tank holding 80 litres but looking to go larger when I can afford it.  I have in the tank a Sohal Tang and a Moorish Idol (measuring 2 inches) and hope to obtain a Queen Angel very soon.  It has a trickle filter and also an Eheim canister filter for biological filtration and an airstone.  Water tests are good with Ammonia and Nitrite at zero, but Nitrate has gone up to 60ppm.  What is an acceptable level of nitrate for Moorish Idols?  <Yowza!  Even at diminutive sizes, such a small tank is a cruelty to these actively swimming fishes!  Please don't add any more before upgrading.  I don't think that nitrates at their current level are too much of a concern, and even if you controlled them better it would not likely improve the statistical prognosis for your MI.> All been fine since purchasing the Moorish Idol.  He has been eating extremely well, eating dried seaweed, fish flake and his favourite Reef Gel with a selection of Mysis, Artemia and muscles mixed in with a few drops of vitamins supplement.  He even ate out of my fingers from day 2 of owning him.  But around a week ago he started not to eat which after reading many of your articles is a familiar sight. :((  So obviously very concerned for the welfare of my fish I bought all sorts of food stuff I could think of and what was recommended here on your site.  I bought Pellet foods, Frozen Angel Food with sponge in it and also live Brine Shrimp.  At the same time as trying the new foods, I have been putting in Amquel+ to make sure the water quality is the best I can do incase the non feeding was down to that.  After more than 5 days of worry, he finally started to eat again on live Brine Shrimp.  He only ate 2 shrimps but it was a start.  Then the next day he ate 4-5.  And today to my amazement, he must have eaten over 15-20 of the shrimps in a space of a minute.  And he has 2 more feeds to go today.  Best its been for over a week.  He even ate more than my Sohal Tang, which to be honest takes some beating. :))  <The return of an appetite is encouraging.  If this correlated with a decrease in nitrates, then perhaps nitrate control will be beneficial.  Please see here for my discussion of marine aquarium filtration.  Power filters and trickle filters make nitrate control a challenge:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm> I will obviously keep you all updated with how he progresses and let you know if he eats the other food stuff I bought.  But what I am pleased to say is that when a Moorish Idol stops taking an interest in feeding, its not always the case he wont ever eat again and perish away.  I know am still in early days but I will continue to look after him so he at least enjoys his life.  I just hope that if anyone has the same problem as myself, they maybe able to use the information I have provided above and hope it works as well as it has for me.  If I manage to find any more tricks to keep the Moorish Idols alive and happy I will of course share it with all of you.  <Thank you for sharing your experience and please do keep us updated.  For the benefit of anyone reading this in the future, I will say that just as a hunger strike does not spell certain doom, a good appetite does not ensure long term captive survival.  Also, and perhaps more importantly.... occasional and unrepeatable (and generally unexplainable) successes do not justify the casual purchase of specimens well known to be difficult to maintain.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Moorish Idol Survivability (Poor), feeding a big Ritteri anemone - 10/12/05 Hello All, <<Greetings>> I want to try to get two topics for the price of one. <Alrighty>> All is well nothing sick, just general questions of curiosity. <<ok>> The first is my Moorish Idol. <<Mmm...>> I have had him for about 6 months. When I bought him he was a little under weight and had a cut on him. He is doing awesome. <<For now maybe.>> His color is vibrant, cut has been gone for months. He is about 6-8" so he is good size. <<agreed>> He is eating, Seaweed Selects, frozen Mysis, live worms, alga wafers, you name it he eats it. <<Sadly, this usually still proves to be insufficient with these fishes.>> He is the first one in line when I feed, also eats flakes. When I first got him all he would eat is wafers. My question is, I was reading a article that stated no matter how good they do, they will perish. Something about a enzyme they eat in the wild, that we can not produce in an aquarium. Is this true? <<Not familiar with the "enzyme" theory, though it does go with what I've heard/read as far as not being able to accurately reproduce the dietary requirements for long-term health/vigor. I've been in this hobby a long time and tried; albeit unsuccessfully, to keep Zanclidae more than once (has been more than 10 years since my last attempt). They all would eat, seem to be healthy...but then one day, two or ten months down the road, you come home or get up to find it dead in the tank for no "apparent" reason. All you have to do is look around you...how many Moorish Idols do you see on display, or in other hobbyists tanks (long-term)? It's not because they don't have appeal/are not available to the trade. I wish you luck, but this is another specie best left in the sea.>> Secondly, about 2 months ago I purchased a Heteractis magnifica. It has a extremely deep, colorful purple base. Never have seen one like this. It is about 24" wide. It is huge! <<And will likely get bigger.>><Not as far as RMF is aware> I have read conflicting articles on FAQ's and others. Some say to not feed it at all, let the clowns do it (They do but not much). <<Mmm, nope...needs to be fed.>> Some say to feed it chopped silversides 1-2 times per week. <<Not the best diet...do provide some variety...chopped table shrimp/fish.>> Others say once a day. <<Maybe more like 2-3 times a week.>> Due to the anemone being so large, I have been feeding it chopped silversides and shrimp daily. It seems to be doing well. <<This might be fine (small portions). Let the anemone's health/appetite be your guide.>> I just am trying to be pro active and not reactive. <<Does pay dividends.>> Thank you for your valuable time. <<Happy to assist, EricR>>

Moorish Idol ... fdg., keeping period   11/5/06 Hello,   How are you? I hope and take you guys are well. First of all, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my email. I have read allot <a lot> of articles on Moorish Idols and was wondering if I can ask you a few questions. My wife just bought be 3 Moorish Idols for my kids. My kids love the movie Finding Nemo. The reason she bought 3 is that they do allot better when they are kept in schools. <... though the vast majority live for only a very short while in captivity> Anyways, I have been handling fish tanks for a while and I am definitely ready to TRY and tackle this fish. Any tips you can give me to help keep this fish alive? <... posted> Currently in my freezer is Brine shrimp, Blood Worms, Clams, angel and butterfly formula. I also give them freeze dried krill 2 or 3 times a week and I feed the Seaweed everyday. I feed my fish twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. <I strongly encourage you to try Spectrum fish foods here... Have seen Pablo Tepoot feeding this to Zanclus he keeps in mixed associations...> My Tank: - 150 Gallons w/o the filter. - Ecosystem Mud Filtration system - 0 ammonia, nitrates etc.. I don't overcrowd my tank - Metal Halide Lights - Just replace 50% of the mud a few weeks ago - heat is set to 79 degrees. I have a good heater and my tank never falls **below 78 degrees. - Salinity is at 1.018 - Acclimate my fish by the books. 3 hour slow drip method. - 3 blue Damsels - 2 black n white damsels - 1 emperor angel fish - 1 Large Naso Tank - 1 fox Face Large - 1 Dragon Wrasse Large That's all I can think of. Please let me know what I can do to help keep him alive. from what I am reading getting him to eat is not enough. how to I get him the proper vitamins he needs to thrive? Thanks,    David <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Moorish Idol/Feeding  5/31/06 My friend and I were wandering in a pet store looking at their Aquarium Fish, and we both have marine tanks. I am a huge fan of Moorish Idols, and we saw one at the store and it was labeled at only $21.99!!! Can you believe that?! Right then we knew this pet store was crazy and did not know what they were selling. <They knew what they were selling, just wanted to get something for it before it died in their tank.> I have seen this fish being sold for $213.99. My friend bought me the fish, because it did not look that well in the store, and for 21.99 he said that if it dies I could at least say I had my favorite fish at least once in my life. It was going to die at the store anyway, their tanks were bad, and a couple fish were nipping at it, and it lost a few inches of it's long dorsal fin. It was kinda sad really. Anyway, I get it home, and put it in my tank. The fish never ate anything I offered. I knew that they were a very hard fish to keep and their eating habits are a pain, cause I know that this fish has a reputation of being one of the marine fish to never get to eat, and always die if your not the best marine tank keeper in the world. <They can die even in the hands of the experienced aquarist.> But I really have my heart set on at least giving it a shot to keep this fish alive the best I can. I went to the aquarium store I always go to and they said the fish needed "Spirulina" as a main thing in it's diet. and they sold me "Seaweed Selects" from Ocean Nutrition. Well the Moorish Idol LOVES this stuff and Eats it like crazy!! But it still won't eat anything else, and I looked at the label of the food, and all it says for ingredients is "100% Natural Seaweeds (marine Macroalgae)" How would the Aquarium store know what's in it? <Same as you, they read the label.> I looked all over the internet (that's how I found this sight) and I can't find what is really in it in detail, every sight just says what's on the label. <Marine macroalgae, that is what's in it.  You would have to contact Ocean Nutrition if you want to know more.> Can my Moorish Idol just keep eating this and be okay? It does say it has 33.9% Crude Protein (min). The fish is doing much better. It's dorsal Fin already gained back almost two inches, and it even had a couple parasites, and it never bothered it from swimming and eating the seaweed. <Matt, a very difficult fish to keep.  Very few aquarists have been able to keep one alive for any length of time.  Hoping you may be one of the lucky ones. Do read here and related FAQ's above.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/moorish_idols.htm> Thank you very much for your help. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> -Matt

Moorish Idol/Blonde Naso (And Both in A 90g Tank'¦Not Good!), sys.  -- 02/09/08 Hello there, <<Hello, Tom>> I have a few questions about my fish. <<Okay>> About two days ago I bought a Moorish Idol. <<Mmm, one of my all-time favorites 'I hope you have done your homework on this fish. Please do read through our FAQs on this fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm>> I never really thought about getting one because I heard they don't do well in aquariums, <<Most do not>> but this was an exception. <<Let's hope'¦>> One of the guys at the store I go to pointed him out. He said that the fish was doing great (one of the best Moorish Idols they have seen) and he was eating well (just about anything you put in the tank), so I decided to purchase this beautiful fish (only about 3 inches). <<Getting these fish to 'eat' is not difficult in my experience...the problem comes from providing the proper dietary requirements. I have often heard where these fish fed well, yet still died 'mysteriously.' On an up-note, there seems to be anecdotal proof that Zanclidae that will accept/feed upon New Life Spectrum pellets exhibit better health/longevity 'providing they have been given proper environmental conditions (e.g. -- not crammed in a too-small tank)>> I put him in my 90 gal tank, <<The Idol needs more volume than this, and preferably at least a 6ft tank>> But I separated him from the other fish in the tank by a piece of plastic (with a lot of water flow) because I was worried my yellow tang would attack it (like it has for every fish I have put in. I figured if he saw the fish in the tank but couldn't attack it he would get used to it being there. <<This is called 'habituation''¦works sometimes 'sometimes not>> He is now eating very well and looks great. Is the success rate high for this fish now that he is eating well? <<It is not'¦ Getting these fish to eat is not atypical 'getting them to thrive/survive the long-term, is. If you don't have it now, I very much suggest you obtain the Spectrum pelleted food (small [1mm] pellets)>> Now that I put the divider in the tank, I think it might have affected my blonde Naso (about 4 to 5 inches). <<[sigh]'¦ This tank is too small for the Moorish Idol'¦ It is also too small for the Naso Tang'¦ Placing 'both' in this too-small system has compounded the issue exponentially>> When I first put the divider my Naso ate out of my hand (like he usually does) and ate whatever I put in. Now a day later he doesn't swim as much and he just swims by the food when I put it in the tank. <<The fish is reacting to all the recent commotion and the now more restricting confines of this already too small environment>> Could this be a result of decreasing his swimming room? <<Indeed'¦ And will only continue/worsen as health and behavioral issues, from 'growing up' in this too-small tank 'divider or not'¦ (Have I said 'too-small tank' enough yet?)>> I turned off the lights and took the divider out, and left the lights off for the night. Will this strange behavior eventually go away now that the tank is back to normal? <<Is hardly 'back to normal' with the addition of this new large (potentially), aggressive, and far ranging/active fish. But yes, the Naso will likely settle back in 'for a time>> What can I do to assure my fish are always happy? <<Well Tom, if I haven't made it evident by now [grin], you need a 'bigger' tank 'at least twice the size of what you have now, for keeping both these fishes>> Hope this wasn't too long. <<Not at all>> Thanks for your time. Sincerely, Tom <<Happy to help, Tom. Keeping Zanclus cornutus 'is' a possibility (though let me be clear 'I don't advocate these fish for the vast majority of hobbyists), but the odds are greatly stacked against you/this fish (and the Naso!) in this 90g tank. For any kind of hope for long-term success, I urge you to upsize these fishes environment. Eric Russell>> <I do hope Eric won't mind my chiming in with a bit re Zanclus in captivity here... Have read in recent months diametrically opposed articles in two popular U.S. aquarium pulp press 'zines re this species... One alleging it was "still impossible", the other a little more optimistic, as Eric and I are here... Do read re our postings re on WWM. RMF>

Nutrition, Moorish Idols 7/14/08 Hey. <Hello> I love your website and had a question about Moorish idols. I went to my LFS and they had a group of beautiful idols. They said that they would survive if I fed them new life spectrum but I just wanted to ask you if this food is good. <Is of very high quality.> I saw Pablo Tepoot's idols in his tank and they seem healthy. Please tell me if this right. Thank you <The new Life Spectrum is very good food, and there is some evidence that it can sustain these fish long term. However there are no guarantees, and this fish should still be considered difficult, however not near impossible like before. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/idolfaqs.htm .> <Chris>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: