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Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners - Top 5 Choices for a Successful Saltwater Aquarium
What are aquacultured fish and livestock?
A. Aquacultured means the specimen is captive-bred and raised. Aquacultured fish tend to be hardier and tend to do better in aquariums than species that are caught in the wild. Sometimes aquacultured fish may cost more, but they will live longer and be less prone to diseases. Aquaculturing helps save our natural ocean resources, so you should buy aquacultured aquarium livestock whenever possible.
Buying saltwater fish for your newly set up aquarium is the most exciting and rewarding part. The beginner fish in this article are saltwater species that have proven to be very hardy, undemanding, and are very forgiving when it comes to less than ideal water conditions. By choosing these easy species, you will find that keeping a successful saltwater aquarium can be an amazing experience.

Always research any new additions you would like for your saltwater aquarium. In particular, know how and what to feed and any specific care requirements. Be careful not to base your choices on color and appearance alone. If you really want a particular type of saltwater fish - do your homework. LiveAquaria.com is a great resource for stocking options and information on your new altwater aquarium.

Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners - Damselfish
Damselfish are the fish typically used to cycle an aquarium. They are extremely hardy and very forgiving. The downside to damsels is that they become very aggressive as they grow larger in your saltwater aquarium. They come in various colors such as the more commonly available Blue Damsel, 3 Stripe Damsel and Domino Damsel. Damselfish are typically the least expensive saltwater fish on the market.

QUICK STATS
  Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Reef Compatible: Yes
Approximate Size: 3"
Color Form: Blue, Yellow, various colors
Diet: Omnivore

QUICK STATS
  Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Reef Compatible: Yes
Approximate Size: 3"
Color Form: Black, Orange, White
Diet: Omnivore
Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners - Clownfish
Clownfish are very hardy saltwater aquarium fish, readily available, and not very expensive. Clownfish have a somewhat unique way of swimming. They swim in a "bobbing" fashion rather than smoothly through the water. They will accept most types of marine food available and can be very easy to keep. Over time, they may even take food out of your fingers. Clownfish are now captive-bred so they are readily available and much hardier than wild-caught clowns.

QUICK STATS
  Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Reef Compatible: Yes
Approximate Size: 3"
Color Form: Blue, Green
Diet: Omnivore
Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners - Blue Green Chromis
The Blue Green Chromis is a very beautiful fish; its scales reflect different colors of blue or green. Blue Green Chromis should do well in most setups, but don't keep them with overly aggressive tank mates or fish large enough to eat them. They do best when kept in a small school of 4 or 5. The Blue Green Chromis usually swims out in the open and will make the shy fish in your aquarium more at ease, and willing to come out of hiding more often. Blue Green Chromis will accept most types of marine fish food, but feed a variety of foods for optimal coloration.

Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners - Firefish

QUICK STATS
  Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Reef Compatible: Yes
Approximate Size: 3"
Color Form: Orange, Red, White, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
The Firefish is a magnificent fish with brilliant coloration, a unique body shape, and unparalleled personality. Considered a great beginner's fish because they are very hardy, they should eat most foods offered. Firefish will be about 3.5 to 4 inches when fully grown and can be kept in tanks as small as 10 gallons. Keep with species of similar size and temperament. These fish are accomplished jumpers, so do not house in an aquarium with an open top; a fitted aquarium hood is a necessity. Provide live rock or other suitable items for shelter.

QUICK STATS
  Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Reef Compatible: Yes
Approximate Size: 3"
Color Form: Black, White
Diet: Carnivore
Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners - Kaudern's Cardinal Fish
Kaudern's Cardinal Fish is remarkable looking, having a silver body with vertical black stripes covered in small white spots. This is one of the easier saltwater species to breed. The males are mouth brooders, which increases the chances of successfully raising the young. Once introduced, they may hide out for a day or two but should come out at feeding time. If given hiding places such as live rock, they may become more comfortable to stay out in the open.
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