Recommended Fish

There are so many different saltwater fish available from pet stores and other resources that choosing which fish to include in your tank can be an overwhelming task. Here is a more detailed list of recommended fish.


Damsels are beautiful fish that stay fairly small (about 4 inches) in captivity. They are good eaters, readily consuming a wide variety of flake, freeze dried, frozen, and live foods. Damsels come in a rainbow of different colors, from black and white, to yellow, to blue-green. The only drawback to these lovely fish is their tendency toward aggression. To discourage this nasty habit, don’t keep more than one damsel of a particular species in the same tank. Also, try making your damsel the last addition to a community tank so he will be less territorial.

Damsels make an excellent choice for a first-time saltwater hobbyist. They are very adaptable fish, able to tolerate the ups and downs that often accompany a new aquarist's tank, such as temperature fluctuations.


The clownfish's playful disposition and brilliant coloring make this fish appealing to the majority of saltwater hobbyists. However, many people think that clownfish cannot survive without anemones. Well, the truth is, they can actually manage just fine in captivity without their stinging-tentacle equipped counterpart. In fact, the reputation clownfish have for being difficult to keep in captivity comes from the anemone: anemones are very difficult to maintain in captivity, but clownfish are an excellent choice for most saltwater aquariums.

Clownfish are close cousins to the damsels and are also excellent fish for beginners. Especially great choices include the maroon clownfish, Clark's clownfish, and the tomato clownfish.


In their natural environment, gobies can be found in rocky areas and on the sandy bottom. While delicate in appearance, they are fairly hardy fish and general do well in captivity. Some species are loners, but other species are often found in pairs or small groups. Because they are generally shy fish, gobies should not be kept in the same tank as aggressive fish that may continually cause them stress. Some common goby species include the fire goby, the yellow goby, and the purple fire goby.


In the wild, blennies are found in shallow waters near coastal areas in all tropical seas. They are fairly small fish, growing to a maximum length of about 4 inches. Because they do not always have the brilliant coloring of other marine species, blennies are sometimes overlooked by saltwater enthusiasts, but these funny fish actually have something of a "personality" and are interesting little fish. For instance, some species of blennies have special sensory feelers located on the top of their head, which may help them detect the presence of a predator. Also, if they become stressed, some species can produce an unpleasant layer of slime to cover their bodies and scare away potential assailants. Two of the more popular species of blennies are the golden blenny and the bicolor blenny.

The small, rainbow-colored basslets are popular choices for marine aquariums. In the wild, basslets are split into two distinct groups, one located in the Atlantic, and the other located in the Pacific. The Royal Gramma is probably the best known from the Atlantic group and is a tolerant fish with a distinguishing dark spot on its dorsal fin. Some of the best known species from the Pacific group include the skunk basslet, the purple basslet, and the bicolor basslet. Basslets are hardy fish and usually do fairly well in the aquarium.


Tangs are beautiful, peaceful fish that make gorgeous additions to a saltwater aquarium. Their bodies are laterally compressed (extremely thin) with a sharp spine at the base of their tail that can be erected when they feel threatened. Generally, tangs are very shy in an aquarium and will flee as soon as you put your hand into the tank, so you should not have to worry about being injured by this predatory defense. Tangs are herbivores, consuming mostly algae in the wild. In captivity, they should be fed a plant-based diet of marine algae, of either the dried or fresh variety, and dried nori.

Most tangs are sensitive when it comes to water quality and diet, making them a bit challenging and therefore better suited for experienced hobbyists rather than beginners. One of the easier tangs to keep is the yellow tang. It will survive under certain less-than-perfect conditions that would quickly bring an end to many of its relatives.


Some angelfish species are among the most colorfully patterned marine fish in the world. They range in size from 5 inches (dwarf angelfish) to 24 inches. Larger species tend to be more feisty then smaller species, and they should generally not be housed with invertebrates. In the wild, angelfish are usually found in snug corners of the lower levels of coral reefs, and in captivity they should be provided with similar circumstances to provide them with a sense of security. Angels are herbivores, grazing on algae in the wild. In a home aquarium, angels should be fed fresh or dried algae as part of a plant-based diet.

While large angelfish are not suitable for the tank of an inexperienced hobbyist, their smaller relatives, dwarf angelfish, are a good choice for a novice aquarist. They are relatively small and very adaptable to aquarium conditions. Dwarf angelfish will accept a variety of plant foods in all different forms. Some suggested species for the beginner include the coral beauty, the lemonpeel angelfish, and the flame angelfish.