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What to stock my 40gl

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What to stock my 40gl
Old 11-10-2009, 03:13 AM   #21
 
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Ok, I did as I said I would, and I emailed Dr. Lichtenberger. I am going to first post my letter to him, and follow it with his reply to me that I received tonight.

"Dear Dr. Lichtenberger,

My name is Dawn Moneyhan, I am an aquatics specialist & nutritionist
in Wisconsin. I frequent a number of online forums to help people
with their many fish & aquarium questions and problems during my spare
time.

The reason I am contacting you is in regard to one such forum and your
recent article in Coral Magazine about Moray Eels. While I have not
personally yet read your article, (can't afford the magazine
subscription at this time) apparently some of these people in the
forum have. In reading your article they have formulated for
themselves what is a proper environment for a snowflake moray eel. My
concern comes from finding out that many of these people believe and
accept what others believe, that based on your article, it is
appropriate to raise and keep a snowflake moray eel in a standard 40
gallon tank.

While as I have stated, I have not read your article yet, I have
raised and kept a snowflake moray eel. I am very aware of their needs
and requirements, thus I am very sure when I advise others that a
standard 40 gallon aquarium will not house an adult snowflake moray,
nor will it support that particular fish's needs with the extreme
amounts of waste they accumulate in their water.

Unfortunately, my word alone is not enough for the people of this
forum, and I am very disturbed by their encouragement for someone else
to go ahead and raise a snowflake moray in a 40 gallon tank. My
concern is for the fish, not the pocketbooks of these people. I ask
if you would please take a few minutes of your time and reply to my
email with a quote I can offer at the forum, on behalf of the well
being of this fish. I work very hard to prevent cruelty to all
animals, especially fish/aquatic species, and I know that a letter
from you would be enough to convince these people that what they are
about to do is just not practical or safe for the animal.

I thank you greatly, in advance, for any assistance you are able to
offer. I look forward to your quick reply.

Sincerely,
Dawn Moneyhan"


The reply:

"Dear Dawn,

I believe something might have been mixed up here. I have had a look at
the Coral magazine article (German original versions, I have not seen
any English version so far) and have found no note on 40 gallons. But
I've also written a small book on morays for the same publisher, and
noted there that small specimens should be kept in a minimum tank size
of 40 gallons. This refers to the pencil-like or even smaller specimens
you can find in the stores frequently. For larger specimens over 1-1.5
foot a minimum tank size of 80 gallons is recommended by me, which
refers - like all minimum tank sizes I note - to keeping just a single
specimen (of course no other fish) and being able to provide an adequate
water quality by sufficient filtration methods.

I know a lot of controversity about minimum tank sizes of moray eels
exists. My own recommendations are not based on a public opinion, but on
observations of their lifestyle in nature, not only by me, but mostly by
a number of scientists, that published numerous articles in various
science journals. They are also based on my own experiences with a
number of morays from keeping them at home and in trade for many years,
as well as monitoring filtration methods and their results. A moray eel
needs a safe cave system (PVC pipes, rocks, clean bottles etc.) where it
spends most of its time. You cannot place a cave system of adequate size
for an adult Echidna nebulosa in a 40 gallon tank. This is the reason
for exclusion of 40 gallons as a minimum tank size for this species to
me, not only water quality, which you might be able to keep spotless
with adequate techniques.

My recommendations on feeding are based on what was found in moray eel
stomachs in nature, and their growth which can be determined by
examinations of the otoliths. I believe that many eels in captivity are
overfed to keep them from eating inadequate tank mates. Such a diet can
result in health problems and too fast, partly irregular growth (also
compare to Purser's moray eel book). Even when feeding similar amounts
as they catch in nature, I believe most juvenile Echidna nebulosa
specimens will have grown out the 40 gallon tank in 2.5 years or less.

I hope this helps to clarify my opinion. Feel free to write back if you
wish to discuss this further. Would it be possible to send me a link to
the forum where such topics are found?

Kind regards,

Marco.
"

I think it important to let everyone know, in my reply to Dr. Lichtenberger
I have included a link to this forum and to this thread, and welcomed him to
contribute anytime he is willing. Having him here would be a wonderful asset
to this forum if he is willing to come.
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:13 AM   #22
 
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Dawn, thank you for taking the the time to do this. I find a lot of time we are at a cross roads on this forum. We are faced with moral issues of keeping fish in captivity and providing for their needs, and with what is practical and reasonable for the home aquarist.

I know that often we (aka "the internet experts behind the mighty computer screen") advise people to not buy a particular fish because it has needs that the fishkeeper will not be able to provide. We do this based on the moral standard that many fish should probably not be collected to begin with, and we hope that eventually the LFS will stop ordering the fish and the collectors will stop collecting them. I personally believe that this approach is similar to telling your bank that you do not want a credit card and hoping they eventually stop offering credit cards. The hobby is far to large for us to impact what fish are collected and then sold at an LFS.

I personally take a different approach. Rather than discourage someone to keep a fish because they do not have all the perfect tools for its care, I prefer to explain the challenges and care needs. I sincerely believe that most people who reach out for help and go to the trouble of learning how to take care of an animal will then upgrade their level of care in the future when the needs arise. I would much prefer to see a fish in the hands of a caring fishkeeper, than in the hands of the average customer at an LFS.

All of these comments above have led to a slightly different approach that many members may have seen from me over the last several weeks. I have suggested to a member that keeping a Hippo Tang in a 65 gallon tank may be a reasonable option, so long as they understand their growth needs. This is clearly a crazy stretch, given that the fish reaches 14'' in adult length and probably "needs" 220 gallons or more to live a normal life. But the truth is these fish will never live a "normal" life. We are participating in a hobby which guarantees this.

I believe it is best to get these fish in the hands of people who care, arm them with information, and if the worst thing that happens is they are kept in systems which are smaller than the ideal, then this is much better than being sold to the typical customer who will put a Snowflake Moray in a 75 gallon tank with a couple of Trigger Fish, Lion Fish, and Porcupine Puffer.

I do not believe Cody was at all out of line in his recommendation on this thread. I believe Cody is a caring fishkeeper who has a similar moral code to myself. I do not believe Cody was far out of line in his original response to be approached with the tone that was taken in response to his advise. This is what inspired my inclusion on this thread.
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:08 PM   #23
 
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Pasfur,

While I greatly respect your hope in people where animal care is concerned, please understand that what motivates me to discourage some things is more the well being of the animals. When someone states that they can afford to do this or that, but beyond that is not practical or expected... then I feel it my responsibility to the animals to discourage what is impractical and in many cases, impossible.

Your example of the hippo tang is a very good one to use. When someone tells me they have a 65 gallon tank and desire a hippo tang, my next question is always the same... "when do you expect to be able to upgrade and how big can you afford to go?" If what they offer is still unsuitable for keeping that animal, I discourage it and if possible, offer alternative choices.

Rather than hoping and wishing for the best, I face the reality that many of these animals simply suffer and die because the person who purchased them for an improper environment simply can't afford the level of care or space needs that are needed for survival. That is another reason why so many species of fish are left as homeless once they reach adulthood... and find their ways into our local rivers, streams, lakes, etc. where they destroy/invade a natural habitat, where they don't belong in the first place. This often leads to a ban on the keeping of these animals by anyone. The state of Florida is a good example, the keeping of snakeheads anywhere in the US is another. The few who act responsibly are left then to suffer the consequences because of those who do not.

I call it responsible fish keeping, but this applies to all pets. I would no sooner encourage someone to purchase a horse if that person lived in an apartment building without a barn and couldn't afford oats, hay, etc... unless there was some indication that they were expecting to provide for this animals needs for a full and healthy life, long term. I would instead be suggesting they seek out an animal better suited to what they can afford and provide for. Human greed is not an acceptable excuse for abuse, neglect, or inhumane conditions for an innocent animal.

Please do not assume where I am concerned. I do not expect that just because I warn against the keeping of some animals that they will disappear from the industry completely, at any point. I am real and practical enough to know it isn't that simple. But, what I do know, from first hand experience, is that when the needs of the animals are approached as most important, many animals that would otherwise not be accommodated, can often be accommodated if the specifics are mapped out and care is taken in suggesting who should be keeping any of various animals. These animals are then also more inclined to be purchased by those who can already accommodate their needs, which may not result in their disappearance from the hobby, but it can slow down the rate of neglect and abuse, and death rates.

Being practical and honest about the situation, it is clear that most people do not go into this hobby with the intent of causing harm to these animals. It is also very clear that many people are sold inappropriate animals for their situations, which gathers expenses that are impossible to meet in so many situations, and also gathers frustration that they are now attached to an animal that they can no longer provide for. Their end choice is either to find a suitable home for this animal, which isn't always possible or practical, or the animals suffer, become sick, and eventually die needlessly. That tends to include expensive and sometimes dangerous medications be administered without proper professional guidance, adding to suffering and expense.

While our overall goals may be similar, our methods are obviously very different. For me to suggest that it is ok to put a snowflake eel into a 40 gallon tank for any length of time would be my idea of promoting the abuse of that animal, and thus would leave me feeling responsible for an ugly outcome, either for the fish keeper, the animal, or both.

I find it my responsibility as a human being to work within a basic moral standard to see that all pets, fish or otherwise, if considered for purchase, and questions are put to me as to what I think of it... I have to be honest and consider the health and well being of the animal long term. I also have to consider what the keeping of this animal is going to bring to the person who has so much time, money, and effort invested.

Ask yourself, if you continuously approached a situation such as with this eel, in the same regard... and the people who are asking for your opinion are going ahead with putting this eel into a 40 gallon tank, the outcome can be no more than destructive... how does that really help anyone? When someone else reads that it is ok to do this... figures they have all of the needed info, and then do it for themselves with a disasterous outcome, how has that helped anyone? The way I see it, all that has done is to misinform people, which causes innocent animals to suffer further at the hands of unknowing people. With that type of approach, the problems in this hobby will only continue to worsen as time goes on. With that type of approach, there is no hope of positive change.

Let me ask you... how would you respond to someone asking about keeping a leopard shark in a 30 gallon tank? Then let me ask... what is the difference?

I hope you are able to see my point, and I hope that this brings a bit more clear understanding between us in the future. Please always remember that all too often, the worst of things happen with the best of intentions. Assumptions are dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible.

I did not mind writing to the good Dr. He is a very kind and incredibly smart and experienced individual. I have a great deal of respect for him and his work. I am enjoying our continued emails and what appears to be a newly developing friendship. For that I must thank you and Cody, for the inspiration in my contacting him in the first place. In the past 48 hrs I have learned even more about snowflake moray eels, as has the good Dr, through our shared information and experiences.

Education is so important! Passifying someone's personal and sometimes selfish desires comes at a very high price to many more than most people would ever imagine. I will continue to do what I see as right, moral, and responsible when I offer suggestions and advice, even if it isn't always what someone really wants to hear. There is something to be said about honesty.
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:06 PM   #24
 
Just so I am reading this post correctly:

I believe most juvenile Echidna nebulosa
specimens will have grown out the 40 gallon tank in 2.5 years or less.

so if he decides to keep this specimen, and upgrade to a bigger tank size...say in a year, it would be ok then? as the above statement suggests it will outgrow the 40 gallon in approx.2.5 years? am I reading it correctly?

From reading the above from Dr. Litchenberger, what I am understanding is, as a young eel 40 gallon is ok for a start, assuming you will upgrade within 2.5 years?

the above article is referring to an adult size eel is not appropriate for a 40 gallon but that a young and smaller specimen would be ok, as long as you are planning an upgrade in the 2.5 years to come...., sorry I don't have that much experience, but in reading the above article, this is the message I would understand.
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:28 PM   #25
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terryap View Post
Just so I am reading this post correctly:

I believe most juvenile Echidna nebulosa
specimens will have grown out the 40 gallon tank in 2.5 years or less.

so if he decides to keep this specimen, and upgrade to a bigger tank size...say in a year, it would be ok then? as the above statement suggests it will outgrow the 40 gallon in approx.2.5 years? am I reading it correctly?

From reading the above from Dr. Litchenberger, what I am understanding is, as a young eel 40 gallon is ok for a start, assuming you will upgrade within 2.5 years?

the above article is referring to an adult size eel is not appropriate for a 40 gallon but that a young and smaller specimen would be ok, as long as you are planning an upgrade in the 2.5 years to come...., sorry I don't have that much experience, but in reading the above article, this is the message I would understand.
Yes, this is correct TerryAnn. I think the point Dawn (BettaBaby) is making is that further questioning of the individual prior to the purchase, ensuring that the individual has plans in the future for an aquarium large enough to take care of the animal, should take priority. I understand this point of view.

I have also think the definition of success is up for debate. I look at examples of what I consider success, such as Austin's 75 gallon reef with a Hippo Tang that is thriving, and I think we are often far to conservative in our recommendations. I think it is a delicate balance between putting fish in the hands of qualified intelligent individuals, versus the long term needs a fish may have to live out its full life span.

Dawn and I will agree to disagree on this point, as there is really no method of judging this situation outside of ones moral standards.
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:17 PM   #26
 
ok thanks, so if I am to understand...,once again....If my intention is keeping a snowflake eel ( while juvenile) in a 40 gallon tank, and then planning to upgrade to let's say 150 gallon within the next 2 years..,this would then be ok?

WELL, what if between now and 2 years, my circumstances change and I cannot affor a 150 gallon anymore?
I don't think this would make me an unresponsible fishkeeper?

if my intentions from the beginning sound reasonable, and then circumstances change and I cannot fulfill my intentions...does this make me a poor fish keeper??

I am only asking because we all know in real life, NOTHING is for sure, I am planning on stocking a 65 gallon...and YES with a hippo tang, and YES my intentions are to upgrade within the next year to year and a half to at least a 125 gallon, but if my personal circumstances change within this time period....{edit by moderator} but I don't think this would make me a poor fishkeeper so to say, or anyone else for that matter with proper intentions.....

am I wrong for thinking this way?

Last edited by Pasfur; 11-10-2009 at 08:33 PM..
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:36 PM   #27
 
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I don't think it makes you irresponsible at all. I do think that as hobbyists we need to do our best to prepare for the long term. But as you mention,sometimes the long term changes.

{By the way, as a moderator I had to remove a portion of your post. Any reference to inappropriate language, even in good fun, is against the rules.}
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:30 PM   #28
 
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In answer to what if circumstances change...

I guess defining who is and who isn't a responsible fish keeper at that point would depend on how the situation is handled. Is the fish forced to live in unhealthy conditions because of these circumstances or is it found a new home with appropriate conditions?

In regards to the hippo tang in a 65 gallon tank... the same thing applies. When that fish outgrows the 65 gallon tank, what is then done about it? If someone shrugs and says "oh well, it happens" and leaves that fish there to die... then yes, I would have to call that an irresponsible fish keeper. If that animal is instead found proper conditions somewhere else... I would call that a responsible fish keeper.

I understand that circumstances change. When I help someone in stocking a tank I will typically suggest that the animals going in should not have to outgrow their current conditions. Preparing for the animal's full size is part of proper care, and makes the most sense. It is quite often that I run across someone who wishes to start a very large fish out in a very small tank, and then chooses to upgrade as the animal grows. I often wonder at this, because most of these situations cost a tremendous amount more in money than has to be.

If a fish needs a 75 gallon tank to accommodate its adult size, and is put into a 10 gallon tank as a baby and waits to grow into a larger tank... 6 - 8 months later it needs a larger tank, so a 30 gallon is purchased... and then a yr later it outgrows the 30 gallon so a 55 gallon is purchased... and on up to the 75... consider the expense involved in purchasing each of those tanks with the needed equipment to run them properly. Then take a look at the expense of starting with the 75 gallon tank and its equipment, a 1 time only purchase and the fish grows into its environment. To me that doesn't even make much sense. Unless someone is looking for an excuse to buy all of those extra tanks and equipment, has plenty of money for it... it would seem to be an awful waste of money and very risky to come up with that amount of money so many times.

When we figure out tank sizes for fish in the freshwater side of the hobby, we advise people to calculate adult fish size when populating their tanks. Why, then, would we do differently for saltwater? The reason behind it is still the same concept/principal.
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:39 AM   #29
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
I do not believe Cody was at all out of line in his recommendation on this thread. I believe Cody is a caring fishkeeper who has a similar moral code to myself. I do not believe Cody was far out of line in his original response to be approached with the tone that was taken in response to his advise. This is what inspired my inclusion on this thread.
Pasfur, I'll be a little blunt on this. You do have to realize your judgment based on what Cody recommended for snowflake morays is not shared by some people who are after the welfare of the fish, not merely what you considered a challenge attempting to keep a fish successfully regardless of the conditions provided to them, whether it will cause them sufferings or not. You have to realize that the advice pasted here by Dawn and written by Dr. Lichtenberger himself has more merits than advice from another person who may have never kept the particular fish before. If I were to choose whom to believe, I'd believe someone with first-hand experience, a scientist with PhD and who has studied eels immensely even writing a book about them than someone who just assumes keeping them in cramped quarters without reasonably considering the adult size is okay.
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Old 11-11-2009, 12:09 PM   #30
 
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Originally Posted by Lupin View Post
You have to realize that the advice pasted here by Dawn and written by Dr. Lichtenberger himself has more merits than advice from another person who may have never kept the particular fish before. If I were to choose whom to believe, I'd believe someone with first-hand experience, a scientist with PhD and who has studied eels immensely even writing a book about them .
Without question you would. There is no debate that a Snowflake Moray, or almost any fish which grows to a considerable size, would benefit from a larger sized aquarium and be more likely to live out a more natural lifespan. This is not at all the point I am trying to make. As I have this discussion I realize the difficulty in communicating the written word, so let me give an other example.

Take a Niger Trigger for example. Lets consider any random Niger Trigger for sale today at an LFS. This particular fish has already been collected and is going to be sold to an at home fishkeeper. This fish has, for all practical purposes, a zero percent chance of being purchased by a zoo or public aquarium. In my view, the question for this fish is not what the ideal conditions are. The question is a matter of what is the best option that this fish currently has available.

In this particular situation, there are only a select number of customers who are available to purchase this fish. Of these, we can make some educated guess as to the sizes of the tanks that the public has, based on experience. Lets be bold and say that 500 customers will come into the LFS each week with fish only systems to consider a purchase of marine fish. I would suspect the breakdown of tank sizes to be something like this:

125 people with aquariums under 55 gallons.
250 people with aquariums between 55 and 90 gallons.
110 people with aquariums of 125 to 180 gallons.
14 people with aquariums of 220 to 280 gallons.
1 person with an aquarium larger than 280 gallons.

I think these numbers are being extremely generous. This assumes the LFS is open 12 hours per day and averages 1 saltwater customer per 5 minutes, which is almost never the case in a typical LFS. These numbers could be reduced by 50-75% in many LFS across the country.

Anyhow, my point is that there are not many options for the specific fish that are being sold. Our Niger Trigger has only 15 customers with the ability to maintain this fish in captivity long term, based on their current tank sizes. Of these 15, we have to realize that only a couple may even be interested in keeping a Niger Trigger, and hopefully they have not already purchased a Niger Trigger in the past.

In the real world that we live in, we are hoping that someone with a 125 to 180 gallon tank purchases this fish. But our odds are still slim. In the real world, the world that the hobby lives in every day, the majority of Niger Triggers are going to be placed into aquariums of 55 to 90 gallons in size.

Again, my point behind this long post is that we live in the real world. We live in a world where Steve Austin has a Hippo Tang in his 75 gallon tank. I would challenge anyone to suggest that this individual fish, this specific Hippo Tang, could have had a better option. If you were a fish, if you were this exact fish, this Hippo Tang that Steve purchased, what tank would you want to live in? I would choose that 75 gallon tank of Steve's any day of the week, regardless of the long term consequences, because I know that "long term" rarely happens in this hobby. Most fish don't make it past 2 years in the hands of their fishkeeper, and if that Hippo Tang lives a short life span of 7 years in Steve Austin's tank, then I think that Hippo Tang had a nice long life in captivity. Because the public aquariums and zoos are no knocking on the door of the LFS to purchase that fish and place it in a 400 gallon tank.
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