Before our recent Ich breakout we purchased a fish at Preuss Pets in Lansing, MI. He was advertised as a Scooter Blenny, but with research discovered he is not actually a Blenny at all. He is from the Dragonet family found mainly in the west Indo-Pacific ocean. Names he also can be found under are the Scooter Dragonet, Starry Dragonet, and Stellate Dragonet. Our Scooter is red, but I have also seen them in colors of grey, black, and brown.
Once in a while he will display his large sail-like dorsal fin which is very colorful. This labels him as a male. As soon as I can get a picture of this I will post it. It doesn’t happen very often, and I am not sure what triggers it, but when it does happen I will have to have the camera ready to go!
These little guys are carnivores, eating mostly live pods roaming around the aquarium, and are labelled as difficult to keep because they generally will only eat live food. They will not compete for food and are slow, deliberate eaters. I think this is the reason they are purposely mislabelled as a Blenny. It is not recommended he be placed with other fish that will compete with his food source, such as Gobies and Damselfish. Also, this fish is not recommended in aquariums smaller than 55-75 gallons (there are ,of course, debates of this size). Also, it is recommended that the earliest this fish be placed in a new reef tank is at 6-8 months old, to have allowed the pod population to build up enough for the Dragonet to survive.
Because he is such a finicky eater, we have found that people have created unique ways to train their Dragonets to eat non-live food. We mimicked an idea we found online labelled as a “dragonet den”, in where a clear box is placed in the aquarium and live, as well as frozen food inserted, to wean them off of live food overtime. We used an empty Tums container with a hole containing a modified pipet. Our turkey baster fits perfectly into the pipet bulb. We have seen other aquarists use similar homemade methods.
One very cool feature of this fish is that at night they burrow in the sand, with only their eyes exposed!
I have read that these fish have a thicker slime coat than other fish, which helps them against Marine Ich, which is a small comfort as we have had our Goby die recently from it. I suspect that the addition of this fish stressed out our Goby. He was very apprehensive of this fish from the moment we placed him in the tank. This stress more than likely made him more susceptible to the Ich.
For right now he is doing well. I will write later about his feeding and how that is progressing.