By B. Conde, Nancy, France

(Reprinted from Revue Francaise d'Aquariologie: 9 (1982), 4 March 1, 1983. The fishes marked with a (*) in the table were still on display in May, 1986)

One will find excellent longevity of marine tropicals here. With few exceptions, longevity is greater than 5 years.

The tropical tanks at the Nancy Aquarium are all automated. They work on a semi-closed system with the addition of new synthetic seawater by means of a drip system, regulated by the level of nitrates in the water, which are not permitted to exceed 20 milligrams per liter NO3-N. Filtration is by means of polyester foam, and the water circulates through an ultraviolet lamp after passing through the filter.

Particular attention is given to stocking the tanks, a good equilibrium between the inhabitants appearing to be a condition affecting the longevity of the inhabitants and their resistance to parasites. The quarantine procedures, the first phase of a successful acclimation, are given a great deal of attention. Nets are used on the fish only when capture proves to be impossible with traps or other vessels; if a net must be used, the fish is released underwater in the transport.

The first tropical marine fishes came to Nancy on October 21, 1967. The longest-surviving fish are Dascyllus cameus (10/21/67); Forcipiger flavissimus and Rhinecanthus rectangulus (6/14/68); Arusetta asfur, Zebrasoma desjarinii, Abudefduf sexfasciatus, and Dascyllus marginatus (6/20/69): Amphiprion ocellaris, A. clarkii, and A. frenatus (6/27/69); Platax teira and Balistapus undulatus (7/15/69); and Naso annulatus (10/24/69). The last three species were in homes for a year before being offered to the aquarium by their owners. The longevities represented by 8 families are the subject of the following tables:

Angelfishes - Pomocanthidae

Arusetta asfur (Red Sea)
(Arabian Angel)
17 yrs* Chaetodontoplus dubouleyi
(Scribbled angel)
12 yrs*
Euxiphipops xanthometapon
(Yellow-faced angel)
15 yrs* Holocanthus (Angelichthys)

(Blue angel)
11 yrs
Euxiphipops navarcus
(Blue-faced angel)
15 yrs* Chaetodonioplus personifer
(Yellowtail angel)
8 yrs
Pomacanthus semicirculatus
(Semicircle angel)
15 yrs* Pornacanthops maculosus
Yellow band angel
11 yrs
Pygoliptes diacanthus
(Regal angel)
14 1/2 yrs* Centropyge flavissimus
11 yrs*
Euxiphipops sextriatus
(Six banded angel)
14 1/2 yrs* Centropyge tibicen
(Keyhole angel)
10 yrs*
Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus 10 yrs Centropyge bispinosus
(Two-spined angel)
9 1/2 yrs*
Apolemichthys trimaculatus
(Three spot angel)
14 yrs* Genicanthus melanospilos
(Black-spot angel)
9 1/2 yrs*
Pomacanthodes imperator
(Emperor angel)
14 yrs* Pomacanthodes chrysurus 9 yrs*

The Pygoliptes diacanthus, Arusetta asfur, Euxiphipops navarchus, and Chaetodontoplus mesoleucus have shown modest body growth (2-3cm)

The two Euxiphipops xanthometapon were brought together in a tank on 3/9/82. The first occupant, which was rather large, showed interest in the new arrival with a dominance display followed by some pursuit but no serious battles. The two specimens were then found from time to time displaying to each other with flared fins. The two Apolemichthys xanthurus which share the some tank and were reared together since their acquisition (about 30 mm) show similar behaviour to that of the Euxiphipops. After its introduction, the second E. xanthometapon was the subject of a sharp attack from Pomacanthops semicirculatu

Butterflyfishes - Chaetodontidae

Forcipiger flavissimus
(Long-nosed butterfly)
18 yrs* Chaetodon lineolatus
(Lined butterfly)
10 yrs*
Chaetodon rafflesi 14 1/2 yrs* Chaetodon punctatofasciatus
(Spot-banded butterfly)
10 yrs*
Heniochus chrysostomus
(Pennant bannerfish)
14 1/2 yrs* Chelmon rostratus
(Copperbanded butterfly)
10 yrs
Heniochus varius
(Humphead bannerfish)
14 1/2 yrs* Hemitaurichthys polyepis
(Pyramid butterfly)
10 yrs*
Chaetodon ephippium
(Saddled butterfly)
14 yrs* Chaetodon semilarvatus
(Raccoon butterfly)
9 yrs*

Forcipiger longirostris was only at Nancy for 2 years and 9 months, but it did not appear to be any more demanding in its care than F. flavissimus.

The maximum longevity of a representative genus Chaetodon is 14 1/2 years for a C. rafflesi. C. semilavartus survived nearly 13 years and died accidently when polluted fresh water was accidently poured into its tank.

In the case of C. meyeri and C. ornatissimus, the closely related species (apparently hybrids from Palau) generally accept ground mussels. They have a more or less prolonged juvenile stage which is particularly dangerous to small specimens. Those of meyerii (50mm total length) did not survive more than 56 days, but a large individual of the same species (100mm total length) lived a little more than 6 months (9/1/76-3/12/77). On 9/18/79, a juvenile C. meyeri (60mm), received from Mombasa, was introduced into a tank containing various kinds of Madreporarians (stony corals), among which were Goniopora sp. (brain corals), Plyogyra sinuosa (bubble coral), P. sinuosa var. cultifera (bubble coral), and Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. The fish immediately began to browse on the Trachyphyllia, which was eaten in several days. This food was renewed and was consumed equally (after about 3 weeks) with the chopped mussels. The animal also browsed on a wall of small anemones and later attacked some Plerogyra sinuosa cultifera which was totally destroyed, whereas the P. sinuosa types were not touched. J.P. Chevalier wrote on this subject: "It is rather curious that the Chaetodon, more gifted in classification than the zoologists, is better able to distinguish between P. sinuosa and P. cultifera than anyone since Matthai (1928), and classifies them in the same way. The latter species differs from the first only in that the radial elements were more pronounced. Personally, I also place cultifera with sinuosa. Perhaps there are other physiological criteria more trustworthy." Between times, raw mussel was taken (at least one per day), although its attractiveness was lessened by cooking, and it made up the bulk of the food.

Surgeonfishes - Acanthuridae

Zebrasoma desjardinii
(Sailfin tang)
17 yrs* Zebrasoma xanthurum
(Purple surgeonfish)
10 yrs
Naso annulatus 16 1/2 yrs Acanthurus japonicus
(Whitefaced surgeonfish)
11 1/2 yrs*
Acanthurus xanthopterus 15 yrs* Zebrasoma gemmatum 10 1/2 yrs*
Naso literatus
(Naso tang)
12 yrs  

Our two Acanthurus leucosternon, which lived for 11 years and 3 months and 10 years and 11 months, respectively, showed towards the end a loss of weight and violent attacks of cutaneous parasites, responding little or not at all to the usual treatments. Moreover, one of them ingested quantities of quartzite before dying.One ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, acquired just as it was changing from the juevnile coloration (chevron tang) to the adult pattern (the chevrons resolve into fine longitudinal lines of metalli blue-green), died after 10 years 2 months (7/1/72-8/28/82). Its sudden death, in the night, was not preceded by any symptoms and it is possible that it was a victim of trauma.

Damselfishes and Anemonefishes


Wrasses - Labrides

Dascyllus cameo
10 1/2 yrs Coris formosa
(African clown wrasse)
12 yrs
Amphiprion frenalus
(Tomato clown)
17 yrs* Bodianus loxozonus 15 yrs
Amphiprion clarkii
(Clark's anemonefish)
14 yrs Labroides dimidiatus
(Cleaner wrasse)
11 yrs
Amphiprion ocellaris
(False clown anemonefish)
14 yrs Choerodon (Lienardella)
14 yrs
Abudefduf sexfasciatus
(Chinese sergeant-major)
14 yrs Thalassoma hardwickei
(Hardwicke's wrasse)
8 yrs
Dascyllus marginatus 17 yrs Triggerfishes- Balistidae
Dascyllus trimaculatus
(Three spot damselfish)
16 yrs Balistopus undulatus
(Undulate tiggerfish)
17 yrs*
Pomacentrus amboinensis 11 yrs Rhinecanthus rectangulus
(Rectangle triggerfish)
14 yrs
Chromis caerulea
(Blue chromis)
12 yrs Melichthys vidua
(Pink-tailed triggerfish)
13 yrs*
Paraglyphidodon melas 10 yrs Balistoides conspicillum
Clown triggerfish
11 yrs*

B. undulatus was offered to us by an amateur after about 1 year in an aquarium.

Puffers and porcupinefish
Tetraodontidae and Diodontidae
Chilomycterus orbicularis
15 yrs* Arothron diadematus 11 yrs
Arothrom stellatus 12 yrs Arothron hispidus 15 yrs

The greatest longevity was with Arothron hispidus, acquired 7/18/68 and died 5/27/81 after becoming progressively weaker. As it was a specimen living in an aquarium almost two years before its acquisition, at the date of its death one can estimate the duration of its captive life at fifteen years. One arothron died of an occlusion after 8 years at the aquarium.The Chilomycterus orbicularis still living is the male of a pair of which the female, acquired at the same time, spawned several times. Her last spawn, June 26, 1980, at 5:00 PM., gave birth to a number of fry which survived a month on the nauplia of Artemia, before becoming victims of a rise in the nitrate level in the tank. The female died 10/13/80, in a weakened condition with a distended abdomen from the last spawn.