Is it really fair to have fish labelled as certain care levels?

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i cant think

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Okay, so this may be a HIGHLY controversial subject but we’ll have to see how it goes. With certain fish you keep that are labelled as a certain care level, do you actually agree with it? I’ll start first, if you can’t tell I love harder to own fish. In fact my three most prized fish are labelled as harder to own. Do I agree with it? No. These fish I own once they settled in are the exact same as my £15 clownfish.

Here’s what I own that are classed as difficult:

Chelmon rostratus - “Difficult to Expert Only” this is what I find the most unrealistic label. Now you may be wondering why, well if you can get one that eats already and is atleast an inch long if not 2 you’re already at a good start. Mine is a puppy, just swims in and out of the caves aswell as at the surface.
C1194743-DA23-46A4-A417-6A7A862C430E.jpeg


Hoplolatilus chlupatyi - This is again labelled as “Expert Only” may I just say I’m not an expert, this fish is a puppy. I have an entire thread on how easy this fish is after it’s been added into a tank calmly with as little stress as possible.
BB453BC6-433C-4BF5-B1E3-DCACB516A0FC.jpeg


Halichoeres iridis - Yet again, another “Expert Only” when in reality the only hard bit about this fish is getting it through the shipping stage. Once established this fish is easy as can be.
84028C81-E9C1-4158-8D4E-A64C92E82C2D.jpeg


Macropharyngodon bipartitus - another “Expert Only” wrasse, yes they tend to not eat and have internal parasites but if you get a young one ~1” to 2” that’s eating and been in the LFS for a couple weeks you should be just fine.
image.jpg


I wouldn’t call this luck, I think it’s more knowing what to look out for in the specimen and the basics. Also trial and error does MUCH more than a quick search will get you is what I’ve learnt.
 
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A Young reefer

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Last thing you want is a beginner buying a fish that has a specific diet or has a special husbandry care. I think this is what gets them labelled as expert only or difficult fish to keep. For me I kept many wrasses labeled as hard to keep but I found them as easy as any easy labelled fish once they got established (I think this is the part of the procedure that makes them get that labelling)
 

hja99

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I had a leopard wrasse like yours. It was about 2 inches long when I got it, and it was as easy, and did just as well as the captive bread clown fish I had. The same with a small mandarin dragonet that I got from Petco. I wasn’t an expert by any means, so maybe I was just lucky too.
 
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Paul B

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I don't see any of those fish as expert only and am not sure why they are called that. I also hear mandarins are expert only and I find them the easiest, no care fish there is. It is not "expert" for certain fish, it is how your tank is set up and how long it is set up.

All those fish mentioned are simple fish if they are in a reef that has some age on it and none of them will fare well in a new tank. Almost all fish hunt for food all day and besides the stuff we supply, there should be a lot of other stuff they can munch on and all natural, normal aged tanks will have that.

I keep and spawn mandarins, pipefish, ruby red dragonettes and every kind of wrasse for years with no extra help or feeding from me as they find their own way.

My copperbands normally live for 10 years with no problems. But my tank is old, natural and not quarantined or medicated which will kill any natural food that will grow in there.

I think my fireclown is almost 40.



Expert fish would be shrimpfish, orange spotted filefish, twin spot gobies etc. They are not impossible, just different from our normal easy fish due to their diet and some people with the patience have no problem with them.
 

Chris Spaulding

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I keep fish that are considered advanced/expert ,and once settled in are not any harder than any other fish I have. I think that these labels are good . As it will HOPEFULLY get people who are looking into one of these fish to do the research and gain the understanding of what is required to give the fish the proper care for a long term health life. It is our responsibility to make sure the animals in our care are kept healthy and happy.
 

ying yang

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I've got a copperband at moment ,only early days at maybe 5 months but I got put off with needs more care / expert / finnicky eater etc buy then after doing lots of research thought I could do this.

But saying this I think the labels that our fish get given are a good starting point and I'm guessing they labelled because lots of past experiences with others found them that way ( new ways/ techniques may make it easier so a once expert fish may become an easy fish )
But all depends on the owner on how much prior research they do before buying fish and amount of time/ care they can give the fish ( like I feed my tank 3- 4 times per day as read cbb burns off alot if energy and needs to eat often or best if does so catered all tank around that fish )
But it's a good starting point in being imo tells the aquarist that more research is needed then if you think you can give it what is proven by others that it needs then go for it.
As lots things to make the fishes less stressed which imo is one if not the most important thing to do with how rocks are arranged / overhangs/ underhangs/ swim throughs/ let fish be able to loose sight of each other and hide holes and caves so a fish can retreat or sleep at night along with lots other things .

So all in all I think the labels are needed as hopefully will make some do more research if see a fish labelled " expert "
 
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LiamPM

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I guess it largely depends on your source for calling them "expert only" in all honesty.

I think you answered the bulk of your question yourself. You say they arent necessarily "expert" fish to keep in the same sentence as saying "If you can get one that eats"..........This is the 99% that equals the fish being labelled as dificult for most species as getting one that regularly eats isnt as easy as it may sound. This then equals a difficult fish because newcomers either arent pre prepared with many different varieties of foods to offer and entice or simply dont have a tank with the ability to offer so many foods without issues.

Almost all difficult to keep fish revolve around diet (Or adult size) and not everyones experience will be the same - But for the most part its an average rating and is usually pretty accurate as a par.

Ive had 3 Moorish idols in my time as an example. All have eaten no problem. Yet i know multiple other people that have had a few examples that have never eaten for them. In my experience i could call them easy, whereas in their experience they are as diffiult as they are labelled. Its one of those where if theres a remote chance it could be a difficult fish to keep them im all for it being labelled as such and think its fair and agree with it.
 

LegendaryCG

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I sure hope you know how to keep a pipefish if you buy one. Not sure if calling stuff expert only is fair, but there are fish that require a little more care or at least an environment that is appropriate for them to do well.
 
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ALL fish tend to do well once they're settled and eating. Even the ones labeled expert only. The problem is getting them to that stage.

Some fish (Flame Angels, Acanthurus Tangs, many Butterflys) just do not ship well, so ordering them online can be difficult. I've had a lot of success with tougher shippers (Flames, Achilles Tangs, Majestic Angels, etc) by ordering them from my local fish store, having them hold them for a few weeks, and then keeping them isolated in my QT for 6+ weeks. That allows them to fatten up and settle down without bullying or competition.
 

OrionN

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Most beginner have no idea that fish cannot adapt well. If they evolved to eat certain food and grew up in the wild eating that food, they will not be able to change their diet very much. If a fish evolved to live in certain condition, they will not do well if these condition is meet in captivity.
An expert reefer able to keep the tank stable, and know how to observe the animals, know what it need and provide it for the animal. That is why they are experts.
Any animal is easy to keep if we get it healthy and they are going in to an aquarium that meet their needs. A novice reefer cannot keep the tank stable, don't know how to observe and cannot provide for the needs of all the animals. The “easy animals" able to adapt and live while the "experts-only-animals" will often died because the care from the novice reef keeper is wrong for the species.
 
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Most of these responses are all kinda saying the same thing. I think "Expert Only" doesn't necessarily mean that the species in question is "Hard" to keep in captivity. Anything once established in our hobby is easy in my book. I have had freshwater fish that seemed more demanding than any of my saltwater fish, and have seen "easy" labeled saltwater fish die unexpectedly, seemly more so than some of my "expert" level fish. The labels are simply tools to help make educated guesses. You can bet that most multi figure fish will have that label, simply because of price. It is a great deterrent.
 

polyppal

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I think its more of an antiquated way of classifying fish that's just never changed. To me, EXPERT ONLY fish mostly means its delicate and has a good chance dying in transport...

Feeding should be its own category IMO - like on a scale of 'easy to feed/eats anything' > 'highly specified dietary needs'
 

polyppal

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When I was starting out I was grateful for those labels. They helped me decide what I could handle at the beginner level. 13yrs in, I don’t care so much!
Looks like you hit EXPERT level :D
 
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vetteguy53081

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To a degree- no
There are fish that will be the easiest of care while there are some that will challenge the most experienced hobbyist.
An example is Moorish Idol. There are hobbyists that have no problem caring for them while there are others for the life of them cant even get one to eat, To label it as difficult raises question about difficulty
 

rhostam

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Yes, its fair. Advice is advice. People don’t have to take it. It seems many folk don’t even bother researching care requirements or compatibility let alone difficulty assessments.

Another similar label is “reef safe with caution.”

If you acquired a “expert only” species and it turned out to be “easy,” then great!

I think it’s better to prepare someone than to have them go in blind and have the creature just “survive,“ inflict suffering, or worse kill them if it was preventable. Of course, that assumes people even read descriptions.
 

GHOSTLY

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Some could be really re labeled but look at fish like mandarin gobies, Deepwater fish, and cbb.
Cbb are finicky making them hard but not expert imo. Dragonets require very mature systems, high micro fauna population, and less strong currents so id say this is an expert fish. Deepwater fish can't handle our tsnks and usually suffer for that
 
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i cant think

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I get it’s for the sake of beginners however, a lot of the expert/difficult level fish are from WAY back when there was only one or two successes per year. We could bump the difficulty of a lot of the fish we own now such as the CBB to moderate. Also a lot of fish are called expert due to how little we know about them, this is one of the reasons fish in the genus Hoplolatilus are labelled expert only. Yes shipping is also an issue for fish in that genus however, once you get passed that they’re easy as ever.

But again, “Expert” leads you to believe that only the best of us should be keeping this fish, yes with some fish I know that is true but with a lot of the expert fish, it just isn’t true. I’ve had experience with a lot of the “Expert level” and “Difficult level” fish, after they were settled they were easy as ever. A few of the ones I worked with :
Lythrypnus dilla - Difficult
Acanthurus achilles - Expert
Hoplolatilus chlupatyi - Expert
Hoplolatilus starcki - Expert
Hoplolatilus purpureus - Expert
Chelmon rostratus - Difficult
Chelmon marginalis - Difficult
I don't see any of those fish as expert only and am not sure why they are called that. I also hear mandarins are expert only and I find them the easiest, no care fish there is. It is not "expert" for certain fish, it is how your tank is set up and how long it is set up.

All those fish mentioned are simple fish if they are in a reef that has some age on it and none of them will fare well in a new tank. Almost all fish hunt for food all day and besides the stuff we supply, there should be a lot of other stuff they can munch on and all natural, normal aged tanks will have that.

I keep and spawn mandarins, pipefish, ruby red dragonettes and every kind of wrasse for years with no extra help or feeding from me as they find their own way.

My copperbands normally live for 10 years with no problems. But my tank is old, natural and not quarantined or medicated which will kill any natural food that will grow in there.

I think my fireclown is almost 40.



Expert fish would be shrimpfish, orange spotted filefish, twin spot gobies etc. They are not impossible, just different from our normal easy fish due to their diet and some people with the patience have no problem with them.
You say the Twin Spot Goby is expert but the mandarin is easy… They have the same diet so how is one easy and the other expert?
Most beginner have no idea that fish cannot adapt well. If they evolved to eat certain food and grew up in the wild eating that food, they will not be able to change their diet very much. If a fish evolved to live in certain condition, they will not do well if these condition is meet in captivity.
An expert reefer able to keep the tank stable, and know how to observe the animals, know what it need and provide it for the animal. That is why they are experts.
Any animal is easy to keep if we get it healthy and they are going in to an aquarium that meet their needs. A novice reefer cannot keep the tank stable, don't know how to observe and cannot provide for the needs of all the animals. The “easy animals" able to adapt and live while the "experts-only-animals" will often died because the care from the novice reef keeper is wrong for the species.
But what MAKES a reefer a “Novice” or “Begginer” or “Expert” because I can tell you now, I have seen novice reefers with TONS of information on certain fish. I’m certainly not an expert and have kept many of these fish alive and thriving in a tank under 6 months old. My CBB went in when my tank was 4 months old, My radiant went in when the tank was 5 months old, My leopard went into my nano when that was at 7 months. 2 years later in went the tilefish and 2 months and 1 day later, he is thriving. My tank is only 2 years old and my nano isn’t even 1 year old.
Yes, its fair. Advice is advice. People don’t have to take it. It seems many folk don’t even bother researching care requirements or compatibility let alone difficulty assessments.

Another similar label is “reef safe with caution.”

If you acquired a “expert only” species and it turned out to be “easy,” then great!

I think it’s better to prepare someone than to have them go in blind and have the creature just “survive,“ inflict suffering, or worse kill them if it was preventable. Of course, that assumes people even read descriptions.
You assume many people don’t do research? Why is that? I didn’t do a ton of research on my “expert” level radiant however, I still got it and took that risk and 2 years later it thrives. I think the reason why people don’t research is because there is NEVER a straight answer. Maybe if we gave out more straight answers to questions asked then more people would understand it. Or if we got more information of the care of certain difficult/expert fish more people would see how other hobbyists care for it and probably try to do the same or similar.

Most of these responses are all kinda saying the same thing. I think "Expert Only" doesn't necessarily mean that the species in question is "Hard" to keep in captivity. Anything once established in our hobby is easy in my book. I have had freshwater fish that seemed more demanding than any of my saltwater fish, and have seen "easy" labeled saltwater fish die unexpectedly, seemly more so than some of my "expert" level fish. The labels are simply tools to help make educated guesses. You can bet that most multi figure fish will have that label, simply because of price. It is a great deterrent.
This is how I feel about them but also I think that some of the fish should really be dragged down in the “levels” of hardiness, I have had to tackle some “Easy” fish that are almost impossible to keep alive and alot of “Hard” fish that thrive from day one.

Here’s just two of the “Hard” fish that thrived from day one:
Hoplolatilus chlupatyi
image.jpg

Halichoeres iridis
F0777704-3DCF-4392-B7EF-36B06FBF44F6.jpeg
 

Aquaman11

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I agree that a label can alert a potential buyer that it is necessary to educate ones self to any special requirements that species may have. However, the 'Expert Only' tag may be misleading. Perhaps labeling them 'Special Care Required' closer is a bit closer. Maybe someone can chime in and improve on this.
 
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