Aquarists become involved with marine aquaria for a host of reasons, to decorate the living room or test their skills in aquarism. Within every system there are a number of different features that might interest one aquarist more than another. Some might focus on the growth and cultivation of corals. Other might be content with a harmonious blend of beautiful fish and invertebrates.
The hook of many is the ability to maintain an environment that mirrors that found in the natural world and with this comes entirely natural behaviours from the animals contained therein. Chief amongst these must be the courtship and reproduction of the aquarium residents, in particular fish, and for some this is taken as affirmation of the fact that stable, high quality water conditions and habitat have been created and maintained.
For aquarists to experience the courtship and reproduction of their aquarium inhabitants they must first overcome a practical problem; namely the acquisition of compatible pairs of fish. The popular anemonefish aside, few marine aquarium fish are ever offered for sale as male-female pairs. Indeed, a tendency to acquire only one of a particular species is often encouraged in marine aquatics.
Therefore it falls to the hobbyist to research and purchase their potential pairs. Even if the ultimate goal is not to view natural reproductive behaviours in the home aquarium there can be benefits to acquiring compatible pairs; many fish species will form pairs in the wild and when prevented from doing so in the aquarium may become reclusive and shy.
Aquarists may also embrace the fact that many marine fish exhibit sexual dimorphism or one of its manifestations such as sexual dichromatism. The first term refers to a difference in colouration and/or patterning. Thus if an aquarium is deemed suitable for the inclusion of a particular species then stocking dimorphic male and female specimens gives two different-looking fish with essentially the same husbandry requirements.
The Anthiinae or anthias species exhibit sexual dimorphism, they are amongst the easiest to pair in terms of identifying male and female specimens. However territoriality and husbandry issues dictate that stocking of male and female specimens may not be the best way to proceed in the home aquarium unless it is large enough to accommodate a large number of individuals. The chief concern of any aquarist wishing to form pairs or harems of anthias in their own aquarium should be whether they have system and skill base to care for them in the long term.
The genus Pseudanthias contains haremic species where a single male or group of males dominate a much larger group of females and where such an arrangement can be allowed to generate naturally from a group of juveniles there may be less problems than attempting to stock mature individuals.
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