By Sam Weston
Saltwater aquarium fish are amongst the most beautiful of
animals to be found anywhere in the world. A variety of
saltwater aquarium fish can be housed in your marine tank
provided you know what they need in terms of care, such as
feeding, environment, competitors and space to grow.
Any marine enthusiast will tell you that setting up a marine
tank is tricky and so is choosing the right saltwater aquarium
fish! This is because itís easy to make mistakes with the
of fish you choose. Itís usually best to start your marine
with a few hardy and affordable fish. The majority of
aquarium fish are collected from nature rather than captive
raised so donít waste that gift by making mistakes that result
in the death of your fish.
Damsels are a great saltwater aquarium fish to start off with.
Damsels are hardy little creatures and can survive in poorer
water conditions than many other marine species. They are not
fussy about their food and wonít cost you the earth.
Unfortunately damsels are also quite aggressive. You can
keep one or two of these tough saltwater aquarium fish in a
but donít try any more than that.
Its best to start with damsels and then add more aggressive
fish later, If you want to house saltwater aquarium fish that
are more shy, you need to take your damsels out before adding
more timid varieties of saltwater aquarium fish. Blue and
yellow damsels are two species that are less aggressive than
Mollies are an alternative starter saltwater aquarium fish.
Mollies that are used to salt water allow you to start with
cheaper fish while you learn how to make sure the salinity of
your tank is correct for more sensitive creatures. On the
hand mollies are raised and bred in captivity so you wonít get
much real experience in keeping them. Get them used to the
by allowing saltwater to drip into the bag for about 6-8
When the bag becomes full remove some water. After the tank
cycles you can keep the fish in the tank.
Clownfish are cousins to damsel fish and are a fairly hardy
saltwater aquarium fish. They are not that easy to acclimate
a marine tank, though. They are also quite territorial but
arenít likely to be aggressive to other species. They donít
have to have an anemone to survive. If you do get one bear in
mind that they need water that is very clean and high quality
Blennies or gobies are fairly hardy and small and shouldnít be
a problem for the other saltwater aquarium fish in the tank.
They are character fish but they are small and so might get
lost in very big tanks with bigger saltwater aquarium fish.
They are a good choice to help control algae but if you have a
fish only tank they may not be easy to keep fed.
Tangs are a hardy saltwater aquarium fish which are a little
sensitive and tend to contract marine ich (also know as "White
Spot"). They eat algae so as soon as you grow some you might
try to introduce some tangs.
Triggerfish or lionfish are an ideal saltwater aquarium fish
for a tank which will eventually contain large aggressive
However they can be costly if you make mistakes. It might be a
good idea to Ďpracticeí on fish that are both cheaper and
easier. You will need to feed them lots of shell fish and
sea creatures to keep them healthy.
Angels and butterflies are very sensitive and difficult
saltwater aquarium fish to keep. They need special diets most
of the time so they are not that easy to care for in a tank.
The same goes for batfish.
Once you gain more experience in keeping conditions in your
tank stable you can add a few other varieties of fish. Choose
from hawkfishes, grammas, dottybacks, basslets and wrasses.
make sure to find out about how to take care of them properly
because some are not as easy as others. However they are a
easier bet that angels and butterflies.
So which saltwater aquarium fish should beginners avoid? You
should not attempt angelfish, butterfly fish, pipefish,
seahorses, long-nosed filefish, blue ribbon eels, stonefish,
and Moorish Idols as well as mandarin fish until you really
know what you are doing.
What about invertebrates? Contrary to popular belief
invertebrates are well suited for mini or micro-reef tanks.
Many invertebrates do well in non-reef tanks. For the novice
aquarist the hardy species are best. These include shrimps
the cleaner shrimp, blood shrimp or peppermint shrimp and
banded shrimp. As is the case with saltwater aquarium fish,
stick to the hardier shrimps to begin with.
Anemone crabs are another option you might try along with your
saltwater aquarium fish. And why not add some sea urchins and
starfish which are quite well suited to beginners with a
of monthís experience? They differ in size, shape and color
some are poisonous so be careful! Sea urchins and starfish eat
detritus and algae and other small bits of food so they will
help to keep your tank clean and your saltwater aquarium fish
Anemones are not really suited for beginners. They need
lighting and top-notch water conditions so if you canít foot
bill for the lights stay away or youíll live to regret it.
Invertebrates you should avoid include tridacna clams, flame
scallops, Octopi, Nudibranchs, or any hard or soft coral and
sea squirts. Like the saltwater aquarium fish listed
these invertebrates have special feeding and living
When you choose saltwater aquarium fish, you need to bear in
mind that they are a bit more expensive then the freshwater
varieties. For this reason you should take care with them and
try to keep them alive. When fish are captured and moved from
the store to your home they are liable to get stressed,
especially since most of them have been taken from the ocean
mere days ago. So make sure you can properly care for your new
friends before you bring them home!
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