Do these predators need live food?

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Jeremy Gay advises a reader on feeding anglerfish.

Q: I’d like to keep an anglerfish in a nano reef tank of approximately 80 litres. Would this be big enough for an angler and how do I decorate the tank? Any advice on the best variety and how to train it to eat dead food would also be welcome. I’d like to avoid live food if possible. 

Will I need a skimmer? If so, please could you recommend one for a tank of this size?

PHILIPPA MARSH, VIA EMAIL

A: Jeremy advises: There are lots of species of anglerfish, also known as frogfish, and although some get to 30cm in length, the Warty frogfish, Antennarius maculatus, only reaches half this size, is colourful, and would be suitable for an 80 l nano up until it reaches about 10cm in length. 

Frogfish aren’t swimmers and instead spend all day sitting in one place, only moving slowly on their hand-like pectoral fins, to stalk prey. They are highly predatory so shouldn’t be kept with any fish, even of their own size, as I have first-hand experience of one eating an adult female clownfish while another managed a large Marine betta! 

They are often fed live river shrimp when first imported but you should be able to wean them onto frozen lancefish and prawns. Use tweezers to move the food up to them, then waggle it, drop it in front of them and they should engulf it. One large meal a week should be plenty. Beyond 10cm, they become large, stocky fish capable of producing a lot of waste, so at that point I would be considering upgrading to a tank of 170 l. 

Because of the high biological load, I’d definitely recommend a skimmer, lots of bio media and regular water changes. For internal skimmers, try the Tunze 9004 and 9001; for hang-on the back types, consider Deltec or Reef Octopus, and if the tank has a sump, you can’t go wrong with a Bubble Magus C 3.5.