Pilot Fish

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Aquarium Advice Activist
Nov 7, 2004
Long Island, New York
Hi all,

I searched AA on the topic of pilot fish and came up with very few posts. The only warning I saw was that they get very large.

I recently purchased 3 pilot fish for my 450 gal FOWLR. I put them in QT with a Yellow Tang and I was planning on acclimating them for a few weeks before putting them in the main.

All 3 died withing a few days. They looked fine when I got them.

Usually I will research a fish before I purchase but I was at a LFS and made an impulse purchase because I loved the way they schooled together.

They were pretty small (maybe 2").

I'd like to hear of others experiences/knowledge regarding these guys.

Pete R.
Ouch, how did you acclimate them to your QT? What are the water parameters, in your QT?
wikipedia has a good write up. Not sure why you would want three 3 foot fish in a 72” long tank personally even if it is 450 gallons but considering they were only 2” they probably were just too young to be introduced to a tank yet, were too stressed from shipping/handling, refused to eat and starved, or you had a nh3/no2 spike in your QT tank.

I assume you had either cycled your QT or provided a filter with a bacteria colony to keep nh3/no2 spikes from occurring.

The ph/sg level differences from the lfs and your QT could have created osmotic shock if you didn’t drip acclimate them long enough and death from this cause is most common in young fish or with mobile inverts.

Considering the options for schooling fish that are not 3 feet I’d try something else in the future.

The 3 fish would have maxed out your bio-load at adulthood anyways so maybe it’s for the best. Sorry for your loss but IMO this fish should stay in the ocean.
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