Moorish Idol

Published July 31, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
Social Media: FishLore on Social Media

The infamous Moorish Idol. Here we present one of the most difficult species of fish to keep and raise in captivity. Their popularity increased with the release of the kid's movie "Finding Nemo" but as most hobbyists soon found out, this fish is very tough to acclimate and keep. Long term survivability of this species in home aquariums is rare.

Zanclus cornutus Zanclus cornutus

The Moorish Idol is colored with white, yellow and black vertical body markings. They are frequently found schooling along the reef and provided that you have a large enough tank, you may be able to keep multiples in your saltwater aquarium.

This is a very finicky eater and to make matters worse, their protruding mouths are sometimes damaged during collection and transport. Another good reason to use the quarantine tank when you first get them is to get them eating without any competition. In the ocean they graze on marine algae and sponges. Having copious amounts of live rock in your tank will provide grazing opportunities in between meals. Try to give them a varied diet of live or frozen marine fish foods.

Zanclus cornutus Zanclus cornutus

They can come down with most saltwater fish diseases especially if you're having difficulty getting them to eat. Therefore, use of a quarantine tank with this fish is a must. Keep your fish in quarantine for at least a few weeks, but at least as long as it takes for them to start eating.

They are true beauties though and if you consider yourself an expert in marine aquarium keeping you may want to try this elegant and delicate fish. Don't cut any corners with your Moorish Idol and be sure to take your time while acclimating them to your reef tank. Give them optimal water conditions and please, don't even think about adding them to anything but an established tank after the recommended quarantine period. For most hobbyists, this is one fish that is best left on the reef for now.

Zanclus cornutus6 Zanclus cornutus

Moorish Idol Fish Care Details

Scientific Name : Zanclus cornutus

Common Names : Moorish Idol

Care Level : Very Difficult

Size : Up to 6 inches (15 cm)

Life span : Unknown, usually short lived in captivity due to acclimation issues and nutritional problems

pH : 8.1 - 8.4

Temperature : 75°F - 82°F (25°C - 28°C)

Specific Gravity : 1.020 - 1.025

Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 - 12°

Origin / Habitat : Indo-Pacific, Hawaii at depths of 3 to 180 meters

Temperament / Behavior : Generally, they are peaceful and can be kept in multiples in large enough systems.

Breeding : Very difficult to keep, let alone breed in captivity.

Aquarium Size : 100 gallon (379 liters) minimum

Tank Mates : Use caution when selecting tank mates. Avoid keeping them with overly aggressive species. May keep a small school of multiples in larger tanks. May not be a good choice for reef tanks because they may pick at sps corals.

Fish Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Foods : This is the most difficult aspect of keeping this fish. They are omnivorous and they eat marine algae and sponges in the ocean. Try to give them a variety of live marine foods. Having plenty of live rock for them to graze on may help.

Tank Region : All over

Gender : Difficult to determine the differences between males and females.

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

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Moorish Idol

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