Most Popular Saltwater Aquarium Fish

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    Vicki Smirnova
    Vicki Smirnova

    Author: Vicki Smirnova

    Vicki S. is a professional writer and editor who adores animals and helps readers get along well with their pets. Vicki has been working in digital media for more than 5 years and has great experience writing content about lifestyle, including pets. Vicki specializes in dog health and nutrition, cat feeding, dog training. She is an aquarium lover and is passionate to write about fish care at home. Also, Vicki headed several websites and worked as a news editor.

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  • Updated on: 12/15/2020

Marine aquariums differ significantly from freshwater aquariums, in the variety of colors and shapes of animals and in the complexity of their care. There are unpretentious fish, and there are very capricious sea inhabitants. Besides, each marine fish or invertebrate has individual characteristics in health and character.

popular fish for saltwater aquarium@alexkoral / FreePik

Saltwater fish are unpretentious and can survive in different conditions. We must remember that they are not all compatible with each other; they differ in size and relation to their invertebrate neighbors!

Thre are 10 types of saltwater fish best suited for novice aquarium owners.

1. Damselfish

most popular saltwater

A damselfish is a small bright fish belonging to the Pomacentric family. The damselfish has a tall, deep-blue body with yellowtail. In nature, it lives in the Pacific Ocean. Damselfish are very unpretentious and perfect for beginners. These fish grow about 12 inches. Damselfish are territorial; the aquarium should have a sufficient number of shelters and decorations. You can keep them as a group of 5-7 fish or one individual. They do not damage corals and are ideal for a reef aquarium. The recommended volume for damselfish is from 20 gallons.

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2. Clownfish

most popular fish for the marine aquarium@gelpi / FreePik

A clownfish is one of the most common fish in the marine aquarium. Clownfish are easy to maintain, beautiful, and interesting in behavior. These small fish grow about 3-4 inches. Their color is very contrasting: a bright red body with three vertical white stripes. They naturally occur in the Indo-Pacific region.

In the aquarium, clownfish can be kept in a small flock. A pair of clowns requires a volume of 10 gallons. Also, clownfish in nature live in symbiosis with sea anemones.

READ MORE: Best Live Plants for Freshwater Aquarium

3. Tangs

most popular saltwater aquarium fish- tang@gordoba / FreePik

Tangs is another favorite among marine aquarists. This fish is valued for its bright color, unpretentiousness, and friendliness. Tangs have a high, strongly flattened body from the sides. For one individual, an aquarium of 80 gallons is suitable. It is desirable to have a large number of live stones overgrown with algae. These fish are well compatible with the reef aquarium.

4. Mollies

mollies fish most popular fish for seawater aquarium@user6729138 / FreePik

Molly can live in both fresh and saltwater, but they require adaptation to saltwater. These fish are peaceful. Most will grow to about 3 inches, so a tank of at least 10 gallons will be required. A molly gets along well with the other inhabitants of the aquarium.

READ MORE: Why can’t Saltwater Fish live in Freshwater

These fish must be fed a variety of food. Although mollies are the most popular as freshwater fish, they can be a great addition to your seawater tank. [1]

5. Dottyback

most popular fish for marine aquarium dottyback fish

A dottyback is a small fish that grows about 2.5 inches. This fish has a bright color and is easy to maintain. Dottyback has an elongated body of a rich purple color. In nature, it lives in the Red S

Dottybacks get along well in a reef aquarium. For fish, an aquarium from 40 gallons with enough shelter will be suitable. Keep this fish better alone; a dottyback shows aggression to their relatives.

READ MORE: Best LED Light for Reef Aquarium

6. Butterflyfish

most popular saltwater aquarium fish butterflyfish@anutaray / FreePik

A butterflyfish is a very spectacular and beautiful fish. In nature, it lives in the Indo-Pacific region. A butterflyfish has a flattened triangular body with a narrow, elongated mouth and large eyes. These fish are a great decoration due to their great appearance and shape. They grow to about 10 inches.

Fish of this type are very friendly; a spacious aquarium can contain several individuals. For one fish, a volume of 75 gallons is required.

We must remember that butterflyfish can pinch polyps of hard corals. As a rule, they do not touch soft corals.

7. Green Chromis

most popular fish for marine aquarium green chromisBy John Hoover /

This blue-green fish is prevalent among novice aquarium owners. Green Chromis is a lovely and peaceful fish. The fleece in shallow water, in a flock of at least six individuals. A group of twinkling fish will enliven your aquarium and add beauty and magic. These fish look great in a well-lit aquarium.

Green Chromis are also incredibly hardy and unpretentious, so they are easy to care for, but they need to be fed live food, as they are carnivorous.

8. Big Eye Black Bar Soldierfish

most popular fish for saltwater aquarium big eye black bar soldierfish

Big eye black bar soldierfish is an easy-to-maintain-and-care-for fish. In nature, they live in the Indo-Pacific region. These fish have an elongated, a laterally compressed body with a pointed head and very large eyes. The color of the fish is bright: the red body has horizontal thin white stripes. These fish grow about 5 inches. They are very unpretentious and are perfect for beginners.

In the aquarium, they can live alone or with several individuals. They need a volume of 70 gallons. The aquarium should have a sufficient number of shelters and free space for swimming. Big eye black bar soldierfish get along well with big fish, but it is undesirable in a reef aquarium, as it is a threat to invertebrates.

9. Longnose Hawkfish

most popular fish for saltwater aquarium longnose hawkfish@zilvergolf / FreePik

The longnose hawkfish is a medium-sized fish that grows up to 5 inches. This type of fish is common in the Indo-Pacific region. The longnose hawkfish has an elongated body with a small head and a sharply narrowed nose. The color of the fish is light with a red or reddish checkered pattern. The longnose hawkfish lives in the lower layers of the aquarium. This fish is unpretentious and is perfect for novice aquarists.

The longnose hawkfish need an aquarium of 30 gallons with enough shelter. The longnose hawkfish is better kept alone with proportionate fish. In a reef aquarium, it can attack crustaceans.

10. Diamond Watchman Goby

diamond watchman goby popular fish for saltwater aquarium

This shy fish has a strong character, and it also looks charming in the aquarium. Goby has a light color with bright orange spots along their body that resemble diamonds.

These fish mostly live at the bottom of the aquarium, cleaning the substrate in search of food. They grow up to 6 inches and will need a tank of at least 50 gallons.

Interestingly, a diamond watchman goby can change its gender to combine and breed.

You can successfully collect these beautiful fish, and it only needs patience and dedication.

This will be very useful as these fish can help you reduce stress and improve your mental health.

READ MORE: How to Care for Seahorses

Article Sources:

  1. Jakob, Roland. “14 Popular Types of Molly Fish Colors, Species & Tails (With Pictures).” Pet Keen, 23 Nov. 2020,

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