15 Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners

saltwater aquarium 1

If you’re thinking about getting some saltwater fish as pets, there are a few things you need to know.

It would be heartbreaking to run out and buy a bunch of fish only to have them last just a few days. You really want to do your homework before building your home aquarium.

Here, we’ll talk about the 15 most popular saltwater fish that are great for beginners. These fish are hardy and don’t need a whole lot of attention. But that doesn’t mean they won’t make great pets. Some of these fish are not only beautiful but also quite fun to watch.

15 Popular Saltwater Fish for Beginners

1. Tangs


Tang fish is awful pretty to look at. They’re almost always either a bright yellow or light blue color. They’re hardy and resilient, so they’re great for new fish owners. They get along with other fish but not so much with other tangs. If you put several tangs in the same tank, they may fight. You also want to make sure you put them in a large tank that’s at least 100 gallons. This way, they have plenty of room to swim.

2. Chalk Bass

Chalk Bass

These fish are highly durable. They don’t get sick all that easily. They also tend to survive in water that has seen better days. There’s no good reason to let your tank water get dirty, but, if it does, these fish will usually be okay. They’re white with red stripes. If you’re going to have several chalk bass, make sure you add them to the tank at the same time. If not, the early fish will become territorial and try to hurt the newer fish.

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3. Watchman Goby

Watchman Goby

These are some of the most peaceful fish you’ll find. They’re not picky eaters either. They like to eat shrimp or any fish food you find at the pet store. They get along with other fish, but they’re not all that fond of other gobies. So, you may want to keep your gobies in separate tanks.

4. Dottyback


These fish are so pretty, you’ll want to stare at them all day! They come in bright purples, yellows and blues. Some are even half one color and half the other. They need to be kept in a tank that’s at least 30 gallons. If the tank is too small, they tend to get aggressive when it comes to food. 

5. Clownfish


If you’ve ever seen “Finding Nemo”, then you’re familiar with the clownfish. They’re cool to look at and one of the most popular starter fish. They’re really easy to take care of. They eat dry pellets and any frozen fish food. They’re very active so you want to make sure you feed them often.

6. Coral Beauties

Coral Beauties

Despite their name, these fish do not require coral in their tanks. They need to be in a tank that has at least 70 gallons of water. They’re typically blue with orange stripes. They’re better off alone or with just a few friends. They like to hide too so make sure you have plenty of rocks and plants in the tank.

7. Firefish


These fish are interesting. They’re white with a colorful tail. The tail can be red, orange or magenta. They’re good with most other fish. They move fast and like to hide so make sure you have toys and rocks in the tank.

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8. Wrasses


These fish are definitely loners. They are non-confrontational but don’t like to play with others. They need to be in a big tank because they’re quite messy. You’ll need to clean their tank quite often. They’re brightly colored but, since they like to hide in the sandy bottom of their tank, you won’t see them as often as you’d like.

9. Talbot’s Damsel

Chrysiptera talboti

These brightly colored fish are light colored with a yellow nose. They’re great because they will eat the algae in your tank. They don’t mix well with aggressive fish so be careful who you pair them with. They are so peaceful that they tend to be bullied by other fish. 

10. Pajama Cardinalfish

Pajama Cardinalfish

What a great name! These fish are interesting looking. They have a yellow or green face with a wide black belted middle. They have a polka dotted tail as well. They need to be in a 20-gallon tank if they’re flying solo but, if you have more than one, make sure your tank is at least 30 gallons. They’re shy loners and tend to be active at night so that’s when they should be fed.

11. Butterfly Fish

Butterfly Fish

There are several kinds of butterfly fish but they’re all pretty. Each type has different eating habits so make sure you check when you buy them. They’re two different colors, alternating in stripes. They’re rectangular shaped and it almost looks as if they have an eye at the back of their tail.

12. Blenny Fish

Blenny Fish

If you want peaceful and loving fish, a blenny is the way to go. They like to hide and play peek-a-boo. You really only want to have one in your tank because they don’t get along with other blennies. But they do get along with other fish. 

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13. Green Chromis

Green Chromis

These fish are awfully mellow. They like to hang out with friends and love to hide under rocks. Make sure you have a well-lit tank because they are luminescent and look cool at night.

14. Royal Gramma Basslet

Royal Gramma Basslet

These purple and yellow fish grow to be about 3 inches long. They are territorial with other royal gramma basslets so don’t mix them in the same tank. They are carnivores but get along with other fish. Make sure your tank is at least 30 gallons. They like to be in the dark and love to hide in rocks and caves.

15. Longnose Hawkfish

Longnose Hawkfish

These fish are white with red stripes. They are very aggressive when it comes to food. Don’t let them share the tank with other hawkfish or they will fight. They also like to hop out of the tank so make sure you have a good, right cover.

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