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Starting Your First Saltwater Aquarium? Here Are The Top 5 Best Beginner Saltwater Fish

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Ready to start your first reef aquarium? We’ve chosen 5 saltwater fish you’re sure to have success with.

If you are new to saltwater aquarium fishkeeping, you’ll most likely want to start off with fish that are hardy, easy to care for, and adapt to saltwater life well. There are plenty of species which are both beautiful to look at, and some of them even help to keep your aquarium clean.

This list of 5 of the best saltwater fish are great for beginners because they are easy to care for, hardy, peaceful, don’t require a huge tank and all require the same water parameters:

• 72-78oF
• dKH 9-12
• ph 8.1-8.4
• sg 1.020–1.025

Royal Gamma Photo Credit: https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/

Royal Gramma

The Royal Gramma is very beginner friendly and doesn’t require much maintenance. It has a vibrant purple and yellow body, and is very peaceful so makes a great addition to a community saltwater aquarium.

They should usually be kept singularly, as they are territorial to their own species, and others that look alike. If you want to keep a male/female pair, you’ll need a larger tank of around 50 gallons.

They need a minimum tank size of 30 gallons. They will spend most of their time swimming out in the open and they eat almost anything.

Lawnmower Blenny Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Algae_blenny.jpg

Lawnmower Blenny

The Lawnmower Blenny has so much personality, and makes a very entertaining addition to a saltwater aquarium. This Blenny is also known as the sailfin or algae blenny. They grow to around 5” once matured.

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It is a very hardy fish, and whilst it’s not one of the most attractive on this list, they have the added advantage that they help to keep your tank clean, they will spend the day grazing at rocks and eating algae.

The Lawnmower Blenny needs rocks and caves to hide in and are likely to nip at similar shaped fish – so avoid including other fish which are too similar.

They need a minimum tank size of 30 gallons. As a herbivore, this species require a plant and vegetable based diet.

Pajama Cardinalfish Photo Credit: https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/

The Pajama Cardinalfish

This beautiful playful looking fish has a yellowy-green face and silver back with orange dots. It has bright orange eyes, and blends in well into most aquariums due to its peaceful nature.

Pajama Cardinalfish ideally need to be kept in small schools, and housed with other peaceful tank tanks. You’ll notice that they will form a hierarchy in a school.

They grow to approximately 3.5 inches, and they need a minimum tank size of 30 gallons. They do not have any specific feeding requirements and are generally non-fussy eaters.

Ocellaris Clownfish Photo Credit: https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/

The Ocellaris Clownfish

The staple fish in every saltwater aquarium, this fish is probably the industry’s most well-known salt-water fish. This fish is quite forgiving of poor water quality, and whilst this is not ideal, it is what makes it such a great beginner fish.

Most of the Ocellaris Clownfish available are aquarium bred; this makes them much more hardy than wild-harvested species.

Clownfish are also known as anemonefish because of their close relationship with anemones. However, they do not necessarily have to be kept with sea anemones, however if you are able to – you’ll get a better insight into their behaviours and personality.

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They grow to around 3” long and are aggressive eaters. They are omnivores, so they’ll require both a meaty and vegetable diet.

Yellow Watchman Goby Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aquarist/7075443335

Watchman Goby

The Watchman Goby grows to around 4”long and is also known as the Yellow Prawn Goby or the Yellow Shrimp Goby.

This bright yellow Goby has blue speckles on its face and it spends most of its time perching rather than swimming in open water.

It needs at least a 30 gallon tank with deep sand for burrowing. They are usually peaceful, but can be aggressive to their own kind, unless they’re in a mated pair.

An important thing to remember with Watchman Gobies is they can jump – so you’ll need a secure fitting lid on your aquarium.

They are known for having a symbiotic bond with the pistol shrimp, which has poor eyesight and relies on the Goby for protection. In return, the shrimp perfects the Goby’s home.

As carnivores, they require a meaty diet.

Which fish is right for you?

Do any of these beginner saltwater fish appeal to you? There is something to suit everyone’s need here; whether you’re looking for a bright species to add a splash of color to your tank, or species which will help keep your tank clean.

All of them are relatively easy to care for and don’t require very strict water parameters which is what makes them so perfect for beginners.

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