Top 20 Best Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners

Best Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners: You have probably heard that saltwater fish are much more difficult to maintain than freshwater fish.

It is true that keeping the tank clean and the correct water balance requires a lot of work and commitment.

You can make it a little easier by filling it up with the best beginner saltwater aquarium fish.

Colonizing your first saltwater aquarium can be challenging. You don’t want to buy a fish that is too difficult to care for, and you probably don’t want a boring fish that’s not fun to watch. To help you populate your new tank with beautiful beginner fish that will make your new hobby an instant success, we’ve highlighted a few easy-care fish you can be proud of when you have them in your aquarium.

A compatibility chart for saltwater aquarium fish gives you an idea of ​​which fish may have a better chance of living together in a small space. In many cases, the table shows which one will coexist with some caution. Nothing is guaranteed. There will always be exceptions to a generalization, but the table gives you a starting point if you want to find out what species of fish work in your aquarium.

Saltwater aquariums are one of the most unique, beautiful, and attractive objects in your home.

The bright colors of the fish, the corals, the plants are so fascinating and enchanting that we are drawn to them.

They can help relieve stress, improve mood, and more. Plus, they’re fun!

However, if you haven’t kept one yet, it can be a little difficult to know what kind of fish to store in your new saltwater aquarium or reef tank.

The best reef aquarium fish and the best saltwater fish for beginners are one and the same, but definitely not. Some fish are more difficult to maintain than others, that’s just a fact.

To help you choose the coolest saltwater fish everyone should care for, I’ve compiled this list of saltwater aquarium fish along with their basic info and stats.


20 Best Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners

1. Tangs

One of the things that makes Tangs a great choice for beginners is that they are tough and tough, and extremely beautiful. There are also many different varieties, including bright yellow and light blue.

Remember that spikes are generally not aggressive to other fish, but they tend to fight each other.

You need a tank of at least 100 gallons and it’s a colorful addition to any saltwater community.


2. Ocellaris Clownfish (False Percula Clownfish)

The Ocellaris Clownfish, also known as the False Clownfish Percula or the Ordinary Clownfish, is one of the most popular marine fish and probably one of the easiest to find in an aquarium.

A special feature of this clownfish is that even in a large aquarium, once it has established its territory, it rarely deviates from this area. If you are home in one corner of a four foot wide tank, you rarely see it on the other end of the tank.

Tank-bred (highly recommended) specimens of this type are fairly easy to find, and when a young couple is purchased, they easily become a couple without much of the ritual abuse of other species of clownfish. As they are raised in the tank, they are also used to eating hand-fed food and acclimatizing very well.


3. Watchman Goby

The security guard is one of the best choices for beginners. For one, they are not picky about nutrition and eat things that are available at the pet store. You will even eat table shrimp.

Gobies are very popular, so they are not hard to find and can generally be found at any pet store.

They are peaceful and get along well with other fish species, but they don’t get along very well with other gobies. So if you have more than one make sure to keep them separate.


4. Coral Beauty Angelfish (Two-Spined Angelfish)

The colorful coral fish angelfish, also known as the two-spine angelfish, is a popular dwarf angelfish that easily becomes accustomed to aquarium life. Due to its bright colors, robustness, low price and easy availability, it is a popular species for aquariums. This fish is generally not as aggressive as many other angelfish, but some individual specimens can be territorial in smaller aquariums, especially if they have been in the tank for a while.


5. Chalk Bass

A great saltwater fish for newbies is the chalk bass. These fish are long-lived, disease resistant and can thrive even in less than optimal water conditions.

If you’re just starting out, a tolerant fish like a chalk bass makes learning the strings a little easier.

These fish are white with reddish stripes along the back and are great for starting a tank.

While several may live in the same aquarium, it is important to introduce them all at the same time to avoid territorial struggles within the species.


6. Flame Angelfish (Japanese Pygmy Angelfish)

The flame angelfish, also known as the Japanese dwarf angelfish, is considered one of the best options for aquariums because it is generally well suited to captivity. It is best to keep it alone or in pairs with other less aggressive fish.

Although it is touted as a pretty good reef-proof fish, it can suffocate in large polypsized hard corals, zoanthids, tridacnid shells, and even some soft coral polyps. Therefore, this fish cannot be fully trusted if these invertebrates are present.


7. Damselfish

Many of these fish require large tanks of 100 gallons or more, which can be a bit overwhelming for someone just starting out. That is why Damsel is a good option. You only need 30 gallons!

Damselfish can be a little aggressive, but as long as you give them lots of hiding places, they tend to be left alone.

There are also many colorful varieties to choose from and most of them are impressive.


8. Lawnmower Blenny (Jeweled Rockskipper)

The blenny mower is also known as blenny algae, jewel rock skipper blenny, sailfin blenny, and rock blenny. This blenny is a great algae eater that benefits any saltwater aquarium. New tanks tend to grow a lot of algae when the nitrate level increases. The Blenny Lawn Mower helps keep algae, especially green-haired algae, at bay as the tank matures.


9. Dottyback

Another good option for a small 30 gallon tank is the dotty back. They can be aggressive, but with the correct tank size, plenty of hiding places, and a satisfying diet, they are generally quite happy and not confrontational.

These fish are a great way to add bright little touches of color to your aquarium. There are also a few different varieties to choose from.

They are available in different colors, including blue, purple, and yellow, and two-tone colors that are half yellow and half purple.


10. True Percula Clownfish (Clown Anemonefish)

The true percula clownfish is one of the most popular marine fish and probably one of the easiest to keep in an aquarium. The black and white Darwin variant of the Percula clownfish occurs in the wild only in the waters near Darwin, Australia.

The ocellaris clownfish is often mistaken for the percula clownfish. If you are not familiar with both fish, they are difficult to tell apart. The true percula is very light orange in color, while the ocellaris are quite dry in color. The percula clownfish also has a thicker black outline of its white body stripes. Their beautiful colors and personable personalities make them a wonderful addition to reef aquariums.


11. Clownfish

You may remember that Nemo was a clown fish and if you expect to put one in your saltwater tank, you’re in luck. The clown fish, especially the False Percula species, is easy to care for.

Since it is one of the most popular saltwater fish, dry granules and frozen foods are easy to find.

These colorful fish are active and don’t like to hide like some of their tankmates. Therefore, they are an interesting addition to a starting saltwater community.

12. Blue Green Reef Chromis (Blue Green Damselfish)

Although the blue-green reef chrome belongs to the damselfish family, unlike its damsel cousins, it seems to get along with almost all non-aggressive fish. Nor does it disturb corals or other invertebrates. The greenish blue Chromis feeds easily from the tank and adapts very well to the life of the tank.


13. Firefish

Another great option is the lionfish. These long, slender fish generally have a white or light body and a bright red, orange, and / or magenta tail, which gives them their name.

The lionfish has a great temperament for community tanks. They are calm, non-confrontational, and will do almost anything. They are also fun to watch because they move so fast and like to hide.


14. Yellowtail Damselfish (Yellowtail Demoiselle)

The yellow-tailed damselfish seems to get along well with most non-aggressive fish. The yellow devil rocking horse is one of aquarium hobbyists’ favorites because it is extremely robust and beautifully colored. Unlike other damsels, corals or other invertebrates generally remain alone. The yellow-tailed damsel easily eats food fed from the tank and adapts very well to the life of the tank.


15. Coral Beauties

If you are planning a larger tank with a capacity of 70 gallons or more, a Coral Beauty is a great addition.

This handsome fish generally has a blue body and bright orange stripes. You can do it alone or in small schools.

Coral beauties don’t need corals in the tank, but they like to hide. So give them enough stones and plants. They prefer a mixture of high quality meaty algae and angelfish.


16. Firefish Goby (Fire Dartfish)

The lionfish is a very docile fish. It must be kept individually unless the aquarium is very large or added to the tank as part of a pair. This fish is very shy and will not come out of hiding if it does not feel safe. Lionfish have also been known to jump out of a tank when scared. Therefore, a covered tank is best.


17. Talbot’s Damsel

Talbot damselfish are bright, lively fish that are easy to maintain. They help fight algae in the tank and also eat meaty food. They are tolerant of their surroundings and are available almost everywhere.

These fish are hunted in the wild and are best suited for less aggressive tankmates.

They like to dig under rocks and prefer sandy soil on a pebble substrate. As long as they have enough hiding places, they will do well in a community tank.


18. Orange-Spotted Goby (Spotted Prawn Goby)

The orange-stained goby spends its time gobbling up sand, spitting it out the gills, and sifting the food. This is a great sand filter that will keep your substrate free of unconsumed food and other debris. The diet should be complemented by a variety of live and frozen prawns, mysis prawns, live black worms, and prepared food for carnivores.


19. Wrasses

These brightly colored fish prefer a sandy bottom to bury and lots of rocks to hide.

They are not confrontational and are left alone as long as they have many hiding places.

Most varieties of this type work very well for tanks, but are a bit messy, so larger tanks are preferred.

Some of the best types for a community aquarium are the intermittent fish, the fairy fish, and the six-line fish.


20. Sleeper-Banded Goby (Bullet Goby)

The goby with the sleeping tape uses shallow caves in the substrate as a refuge to provide the substrate with good oxygen. It is rarely aggressive towards other fish. However, it is territorial and will fight with others of the same type unless they are a couple. Like most gobies, this fish is known to jump out of discovered aquariums.


How to choose fish for saltwater aquariums?

The best way to choose fish for a saltwater aquarium is to approach it like any other pet.

She probably wouldn’t bring home a dog of a breed she didn’t know much about. Fish should be approached in the same way.

What should you do first?

Investigation. Make a list of the fish you like, and then do some research. Here are some key points to keep in mind.

  • Aquarium Size Some saltwater fish can live comfortably in a 20-gallon tank, but if you want to grow your community and make your fish happy, it’s best to start with 55 gallons. Keep in mind that some fish need at least 70 gallons, which is even bigger. As you can see, it is a good idea to stop buying a tank until you know what type of fish you want to get.
  • Habitat requirements. Different fish have different needs when it comes to their environment. Some need a sandy substrate to bury, while others need many live rocks with hiding places. When building a community, be sure to choose fish that like the same habitat.
  • Temperament. This is very important because you do not want to harbor soft fish with aggressive strains that hunt them down or, worse, chase them. Different temperaments can live together in the right environment, but you must know how to implement them.
  • Compatibility. You should not only consider the compatibility between different species of fish, but also keep in mind that some fish prefer to live alone without their own aquarium partners.



Saltwater tanks require more maintenance than freshwater, but choosing the right fish can greatly facilitate the process. Check out our tips on the best beginner saltwater fish to build a thriving community.