Pet Education Fish
Pet Education Fish Pet Education Fish Pet Education Fish
 
Nighttime on the Reef: Characteristics of Nocturnal Fish and Nocturnal Aquarium Setup
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Marine Aquarium Set Up
Print Article | Email Article
Bookmark and Share
Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Supplies

Orange Line Cardinalfish: Nightime on the ReefMarine fish can be classified into groups, depending upon when they are most active. "Diurnal" fish are those that are primarily active during the day; those that are most active during the night are called "nocturnal." Some fish are especially active at dusk and dawn, and are referred to as "crepuscular." Various marine invertebrate species can also be classified into one of these three groups.

In aquarium settings, some nocturnal species, such as the cardinalfish, can adapt to becoming more active during the day. Others, such as the Longspine Urchin remain primarily nocturnal.

Nocturnal Crepuscular Diurnal
Cardinalfish
Big Eyes
Soldierfish
Squirrelfish
Pinecone fish
Scorpionfish
Snappers
Eels
Sea bass and groupers
Flashlight fish
Many invertebrates including lobsters, shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans, mollusks, polychaete worms, and starfish
Polyps of many corals, such as Gorgonian, Torch coral, and Tubastrea
Barracuda
Jacks
Lizardfish
Goatfish
Angelfish
Anthias
Butterflyfish
Wrasse
Damselfish
Gobies
Hawkfish
Puffers
Triggerfish
Parrotfish
Surgeonfish


 

Characteristics of nocturnal fish

Depending on when they are most active, fish may have developed certain physical and behavioral characteristics. For instance, nocturnal fish:

  • In general, are not designed to swim as fast as diurnal fish.

  • Tend to have larger eyes.

  • Tend to be more solitary, rather than living in large schools.

  • Are often more shy, and during the day are found hiding in caves or under overhangs.

  • Are often red or yellowish brown in coloration since these colors are absorbed by the water and are the first colors of the spectrum to become indistinguishable as light levels drop.

  • Tend to be carnivores versus diurnal fish who are often herbivores or omnivores.

  • May have a well-developed lateral line, like the Dwarf Scorpionfish, which allows them to sense water movement as an aid in finding prey in the dark or low light.

Setting up nocturnal aquariums

To establish a nocturnal aquarium you will need to create an environment with many caves and hiding places. Try to arrange the live rock and low-light corals to make hiding places that will still allow you to observe the nocturnal life under low light.

Even though it is a nocturnal aquarium, you will still need to provide light, especially if you will be including corals. In most cases, a reef aquarium with the intensity of lighting needed to maintain both live corals, and nocturnal fish will need to be very tall and wide. This will allow it to be aquascaped in a manner to make large enough caves and hiding places for the fish to get away from the light and feel at ease.

Lunar light for nighttime viewingFor nighttime viewing, a variety of lighting systems are available to allow you to see the inhabitants, yet provide the type of light that will bring out the nocturnal life. These include special lights often termed "lunar lights" or "moonlight lights." These lights produce light that is bluish in color and/or simulates moonlight. They are long lasting, draw little energy, and generate virtually no heat. Various styles can be mounted on the glass or in the canopy. Understanding the response of various organisms to changing light conditions is the subject of ongoing study. Many aquarium experts claim success simply with twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of simulated moon light. You can easily automate this cycle using a timer. Because some corals and organisms appear to need a period of total darkness before moonlight appears, you might delay turning on the moonlight for an hour or more after turning off daytime lighting.

When choosing the inhabitants, consider their ease of care and temperament, since many may require extensive experience or be quite aggressive.


RELATED ARTICLES:
The Basics of Reef Aquarium Lighting 
Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Supplies  
Print Article | Email Article
 
 
Elive Blood Worms Natural Purified Frozen Fish Food
Elive Blood Worms Natural Purified Frozen Fish Food
As low as $6.99
 
Elive Brine Shrimp Natural Purified Frozen Fish Food
Elive Brine Shrimp Natural Purified Frozen Fish Food
As low as $6.99
 
Elive Mysis Shrimp Natural Purified Frozen Fish Food
Elive Mysis Shrimp Natural Purified Frozen Fish Food
As low as $6.99
 
Hikari Mysis Shrimp
Hikari Mysis Shrimp
As low as $3.29
 

Facebook YouTube Blog Connect with us

Subscribe to email newsletters:
featuring helpful articles, tips and online only product specials from Drs. Foster & Smith. Learn more here !

About Us Article Reprints Awards & Memberships Request a FREE Catalog Tell a Friend
Meet Our Staff Terms & Use Site Map Free Newsletters Links to Us
Visit our other websites: Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Supplies LiveAquaria.com - Quality Aquatic Life Direct to Your Door
For product information, call 1-800-826-7206

Copyright © 1997-2013, Foster and Smith, Inc. - 2253 Air Park Road, P.O. Box 100, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 54501. All rights reserved.