I am lucky enough to live close to two very good local fish stores (LFS), one that specialises in just marine & the other (controversial as it may be) a Maidenhead Aquatics store. Both are a similar distance away, and both have a good selection of fish and coral, meaning I am on first name terms with both shops! Both shops know roughly what is in my tank, the size of it & what my aims with the tank are.

Valentines 2020. My partner, who is in no way interested in the tank decided to buy me a fish for valentines. He has been into the shop with me enough times that they would know who he is. He spent a while watching the fish, and picked out three that he liked, he then asked the staff there the following questions about each of the fish:

  • What size tank does it need?
  • Does it eat corals?
  • Will it pick on the other fish?
  • Will it go in with this big yellow fish? (showing pictures of my favourite fish, my Orange Shoulder Tang)
  • Does it have any special feeding requirements?
  • Does it get sick easily?

Now, for a “non-fishy” person, I was majorly impressed that he remembered to ask those questions. Granted, if it were me, I would have Googled it, but for him to have the fore-thought to ask these questions was a very pleasant surprise.

From the questions, he managed to rule out a Damsel (thank God), and a Powder Blue Tang (probably for the best). The fish he was left with was a Gold Spotted Rabbitfish. Not the most beautiful or colourful fish, but he liked it and he has put some serious effort into this gift.

Gold Spotted Rabbitfish Colour Change
Gold Spotted Rabbitfish in it’s stressed colours

He presented me with my gift, the fish looked terrifying. It was a mottled brown colour with blue cloudy eyes and visible spines running along it’s back. When I asked him what it was, he handed me a scrap of paper with “Gold Spotted Rabbitfish” written on it. Panic mode sets in, I know nothing about this fish or it’s requirements. He see’s the panic in my face & explains the questions he asked. I calmed down.

While the fish was acclimating, I started researching. Reading everything I could find on this fish, my heart began to sink again.

After some quick reading, I discovered this fish will grow to over a foot long & has a tendency to nip at corals. At the moment, the size isn’t an issue, it will be a good while before it outgrows the tank, but the coral nipping… Not happy about that!

I’m stuck. I can’t take the fish back, my other half was so proud of himself and has finally shown a bit of interest in the tank (that isn’t how much did that cost?). I know, if I put this fish in my tank, I will likely lose some of my corals. Against my better judgement, my heart won. I put the fish into the tank. It immediately went into hiding. Regret set in almost instantly, if this does turn out to be a disaster, I am never catching this fish.

Zoa & Paly Frags
Zoa & Paly Frags

The next morning I awoke to what I had dreaded, half of my Palys & Zoa’s all demolished. Not so much as a pup left on my favourite green Paly’s. The fish wouldn’t take anything I put in the tank. Infact, the second I went near the tank the fish disappeared into the rockwork and refused to come out for an hour.

Same thing the next morning. The Rabbitfish had eaten the remaining polyps of my Zoa’s & Palys. They were all gone. Now, I’m worrying about my Acans and the fish still isn’t eating anything I put in the tank.

In a blind panic I went out and bought 3 different types of Macro-algae, £30.00 worth to be precise. I added it into to the tank, and immediately my Tang’s start scoffing as much of it as they can. The algae lasted all of 4 days in the tank, but by the time it had gone the remainder of my corals were safe & the Rabbitfish had started to eat flake & pellets. It also gave me chance to buy some different algae based foods for it.

I bought some Hikari Pellets, meant for algae eaters for freshwater and saltwater… The Rabbitfish LOVES them! I attach them to a vegetable clip & let the Rabbitfish go nuts. It seems to keep it entertained for long enough that it is leaving my corals alone.

Gold Spotted Rabbitfish
Gold Spotted Rabbitfish

Now that it is settled & eating well, it is being a model citizen. And the colours on it are spectacular when the light hits it right. It has a metallic blue base with gold spots running right the way over it’s body & fins. But it has proven to be an expensive fish!

I’m a little annoyed at the Maidenhead Store that sold the fish to my partner, only because he asked all the right questions & had explained that he knew nothing about fish. I realise not every person can know every fish, but they would at least have known where to look on Google. They could have done that for him.

I guess the moral of the story is really either don’t let your “non-fishy” partner buy you fish, or don’t trust your LFS to know what it is they are selling all of the time.

I’m very happy with my partners choice now that it has settled, but to start with I honestly thought my tank was going to have to be a fish only system.

I have since braved putting a couple of small Zoa Frags into the tank… One week on and they are still there!

Keep a Gold Spotted Rabbitfish well-fed & you won’t go far wrong with them.


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