Everybody loves a fish with character and looking at this Porcupine pufferfish (Diodon hystrix) you can certainly see why they’re so popular. Once they learn where the food comes from there’s no escaping those big eyes and they make terrific pets for those who are able to accommodate their large adult size. With fish that enjoy regular meaty meals, good filtration is a must and devices such as protein skimmers equipped with ozone or Hydra filters are very useful for dealing with these surges in waste loading.

The small grouper-relatives in the genus Serranus are good choices for reef aquaria that don’t house tiny shrimps or nano gobies, which can prove a bit tempting for these pint sized predators. As hermaphrodites, they can be housed in groups, providing there are plenty of hiding places. Finding a number of them in order to introduce them simultaneously can be a challenge with species like this Lantern bass (Serranus baldwini) seen recently during a visit to our Ashtead store.

Lantern bass (Serranus baldwini) Ashtead store

Gouramis are very popular community fishes, with members of the family available to suit most set ups. As an alternative to the rather feisty Gold gourami (Trichopodus trichogaster) the Yellow form of the Honey gourami (Trichogaster chuna) is a far less disruptive choice. Males carry a dilute version of the splendid orange and black courting colouration of their wild kin but the biggest difference is the extra colour shown by the normally brown females, who are yellow with the same longitudinal stripe. Like most gouramis, they appreciate dense plant cover and thrive best in groups. These were seen at our Cwmbran branch.

Honey Gouramin at Cwmbran store

Cichlids are a very diverse group of fish and have a devoted following thanks to their combination of brains and beauty. Often the price of these traits is housing large, aggressive fish that are experts at beating one another up. The dream solution comes in the form of Tanganyikan shell-dwellers that even prefer the hard, alkaline water that many of us have straight from the tap. These fish come in two broad categories, with some living at low density in territories containing few shells, or the colonial types such as this Neolamprologus similis at Newbury store that inhabit shell beds in large numbers. This tiny but feisty female was part of a group seen at Newbury