Posted by: nyaquatic | January 12, 2010

Moorish Idols-are they really so tough?

What’s the deal with moorish idols?

They are, IMO, one of the most majestic fish you can possibly have in your tank.

But why does everyone think they’re so hard to keep?

There are, I believe, 5 keys to success:

  1. Origin-Moorish idols come from all over the pacific.  They are found in Hawaii in abundance, as well as Bali and the Philippines.  From our experience, the ones from Hawaii fair MUCH better than other Indo ones.  Why?  They are after all the same fish?  I believe it’s a combination of better collection methods and shorter travel time to the US.  See # 2.
  2. Shipping-Moorish idols are not great shippers.  They do fine for relatively short trips (Hawaii to continental US, or overnight shipping within US), but really break down on longer trips.  Also, too many shipments (collector to large distributor, large distributor to regional supplier, regional supplier to store, store to home) tend to make them break down.
  3. Think small-the larger they are, the worse they acclimate to your home aquarium
  4. Solos-Moorish Idols are a schooling fish.  They tend to do better if you can keep at least 2, preferably 3, together.
  5. Feeding-Many people feel moorish idols are difficult to get eating.  If you’ve followed 1-4 above, they should adapt readily to typical aquarium fare-mysis, pellets and flakes:



  1. i bought 3 Moorish Idol and planning to get 5 more since they do better in large group do you think the moorish idol would start fight with each other? i was looking at some of utube videos and saw moorish idol was fighting with each other and how can avoid problem?

    • I always keep them in groups, and never have aggression issues.
      BUT for 8 idols, you’d need a large tank. I’d say 300-400 minumum.

      • i bought one moorish idol and the next day it was eating shrimps,mysid and pellets misc and the next few days i bought another 2 more idols but for some reasons they are not taking any food except picking off the algae off my tank. how could i get them to eat food? i try to feed them live brineshrimp. they came from the same stock.

      • How big is your tank?
        Normally, once one is eating, I’ve always found they “teach” others to eat.
        Where did you get them from?

  2. tank is 90 gallon,fish comes from Hawaii and the two moorish idol eats algae off the glass? is it ok for them to eat off algae from my tank and what should i do to get them to eat mysid and shrimps? they are very healthy!

    • Did you buy them direct from Hawaii, or through somewhere local?
      90 gallons is a bit small for 3 idols, IMO.
      Do you know if they were eating before you got them?
      How long have you had them?

  3. all my morish idols are eating,but i noticed 3 idols have cloudy eyes so i did a 30% water change on my 90 gallon tank and add medication called triple sulfa 1 day and half already and noticed some changes on the cloudy eyes, do you think it will completely go away? do yo u think i over feed the moorish idols ? which caused the water to go bad? should i keep changing water 20% everyday to have good water condition until cloudy eyes clear up 100%?

    • How many do you have in the 90?
      Have you tested your water? If you are heavily feeding, your wc may be lacking.
      what are nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia?

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