saltwater fish

Saltwater Fish

If you don’t know already, saltwater fish are pretty much the best thing ever. They are colorful and interesting to watch, and very easy to take care of. The more people that I talk to about aquariums or saltwater fish in general, the more I come to realize that the reason that most people don’t have saltwater fish is because they don’t know much about them. 

Saltwater fish are a great addition to any family because of their ability to provide a colorful, fun-filled environment in your home. Many families also find it a good opportunity for family bonding. 

There are many reasons to add saltwater fish to your family—the benefits are numerous. For starters, saltwater fish are beautiful, and their colors are often stunning. Many are relatively hardy, making them perfect for beginners. Saltwater fish are also relatively easy to care for, making them an ideal pet for families with busy schedules.

Most fish are easy to take care of, and can be a great learning experience for the whole family. Science has shown that watching the fish and listening to the sounds of the water is a great stress reducer. Many people like to experience this same ambiance at home and have adopted saltwater fish for their own enjoyment.


Clownfish are great fish to keep in your family’s saltwater aquarium. They are one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby, and for good reason. They are easy to take care of, and they are colorful, fun to watch and hardy fish. They are also very colorful and stand out from just about any other fish you are likely to have in your aquarium.

Clownfish are well-known for being the main characters in the popular Disney movie “Finding Nemo”, and people love to buy these fish for their aquarium. They can be a great choice for a family aquarium.

Clownfish are a great option for any aquarium owner, and there are a number of reasons why.  First off, they are relatively easy to care for.  When properly cared for, they can live up to 12 years. They tend to live longer in a home aquarium than in the wild.  

Another reason they are a good option is that they are very hardy when it comes to water chemistry.  They can handle a wide range of temperatures and levels of salinity.  They are also not as susceptible to disease as some fish.  They also live well with a wide variety of fish.

a clownfish swimming in darker water near a Sea Anemone
a Camel Shrimp resting at the bottom of the tank

Saltwater Shrimp

What is white, purple, orange or yellow and possibly red all over? Well if it is in a saltwater tank it could be a Shrimp with your name on it. Aquarium shrimp are a great addition to any saltwater aquarium. Not only are they an interesting addition to an otherwise dull home, but they are also fascinating to watch.

Shrimp always seem to be doing something interesting, and often it’s cleaning up your fish tank. They are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and smaller animals. This means they can help keep algae to a minimum in the aquarium tank. They are also scavengers, allowing them to consume decaying matter that would otherwise pollute the water. They are hardy creatures, which is why they are the perfect choice for beginners.

Even if you only add them to your tank for added coloring, they are a great addition to any aquarium. Shrimps add a ton of color and are very interesting to watch. They will do a lot to promote a healthy and clean aquarium.  It’s easy to fill your tank with a few dozen and let them crawl around on the bottom of your tank while your fish are swimming around above them.  These little guys add color and beauty to any tank.


Butterflyfish are a great choice for a saltwater aquarium because they are hardy, active, and come in a variety of beautiful colors. Butterflyfish are easy to feed, and they are especially responsive to foods that are supplemented with vitamins and minerals, which makes them a pleasure to watch. Butterflyfish are also relatively easy to breed in captivity. 

Butterflyfish get their name from their “wings”, which are actually their pectoral fins. These fins range in color and pattern, but the most common have a thin black stripe across the leading edge of the fin. The pectoral fins are usually about the same size and shape as the rest of the fish’s fins, but they can also develop into large, colorful fans. They are smaller, more peaceful fish, and usually get along well with other fish.

Butterflyfish are one of the most colorful types of fish that you can keep in your home aquarium. They are brightly colored with shades of orange, yellow, black, blue and purple on their bodies. 

The most beautiful part of butterflyfish is their fins. They have long, slender, colorful fins that are a delight to admire.  

If you are thinking about adding a butterflyfish to your aquarium, here are some things to think about. Butterflyfish are rare, colorful fish that add a fun splash of color and activity to any aquarium. They are also surprisingly easy to care for, and will thrive in most home aquariums. If you’re thinking about getting a new pet fish, consider the butterflyfish.

a yellow butterflyfish


Mollies are a very popular fish for saltwater aquariums. Their bright colors and easy care make them a top choice for many aquarists. All species of mollies are peaceful and pleasant fish, making them great additions to saltwater tanks with other peaceful species.

A Molly is a great fish to start with for your family’s saltwater aquarium. The Molly fish is a freshwater livebearer species that has been adapted for life in saltwater aquariums, but studies have shown that the molly fish can’t survive in freshwater after having been conditioned in the saltwater environment for long periods of time. 

Mollies are a great choice for your aquarium because they are a schooling fish, so you should always get at least 6 of them, and they should be kept in a tank that has enough swimming space for the school to be able to move around.

These are one of the most popular fishes for beginner hobbyists.

Mollies are hardy and are considered to be low maintenance. They do require places to shelter and reproduce. If your aquarium doesn’t already have plants consider adding some to the tank. Plants will mean extra lighting may be needed during the daytime.

This fish will peacefully live in a community setting of a healthy environment for up to five years. Families will enjoy watching the schools of these fish swim, and the beautiful colors that they’ll bring to your families aquarium.

Longnose Hawkfish

The Longnose Hawkfish is a great fish for your family aquarium.  If your aquarium has a lot of rockwork and caves, you will definitely want to add this fish.  It will use the caves to hide during the day and come out at night to feed.  They can grow up to 6 inches in length.  

The Longnose Hawkfish is best kept in an aquarium with a sandy bottom so it can do its best to stay hidden. As you can guess based on the name, the Longnose Hawkfish has a prominent long snout, much like a hawk.  It will perch itself on top of the rockwork hoping to be camouflaged.  It will not be completely invisible but it will be harder to see it

The Longnose Hawkfish, also known as the Hawkfish, is probably the most unique fish available in pet stores today. They have vertical mouths, large eyes, and a spiky body covered in scales. Despite all these intimidating features, the Longnose Hawkfish is not overly aggressive towards other fish. They are a hardy fish when it comes to surviving in an aquarium environment. 

These fish can be black, brown, or red, or any combination of the three. They have two long dorsal fins that extend from the top of their head to the bottom of their tail fin.

Longnose Hawkfish
an Achilles Tang with a beautiful spot


Saltwater aquariums require a lot of time and effort to maintain, but they are also very rewarding.  Tangs are one of the most popular saltwater fish among aquarists, and for good reason.  They are colorful, active, and they are generally good fish.  They also come in an array of bright colors, which makes them a great choice for a family aquarium. 

A saltwater tang is an essential part of any saltwater aquarium.  They come in many sizes and colors, and they will bring energy and activity to your aquarium.  There are many species of saltwater tangs, all of which are beautiful.  Some of the most popular saltwater tangs are the yellow tang, blue tang, and flame angelfish.  These are all fish that are very easy to care for, and will bring tons of life to your aquarium.

Tangs are one of the most common saltwater aquarium fish. Among their many attractive traits, they are one of the larger fish. They also have a reputation for being quite personable. Although tangs are considered reef safe, they will eat small and slow moving fish. If you are considering a saltwater aquarium, tangs should be high on your list of fish to consider.


Gobies, Goby, Goby fish… whatever you call them, these small and interesting fish have always been high on our list of good choices for family aquariums.  They’re beautiful, hardy and very entertaining to watch, and they’re a great choice for all levels of aquarists.  They’re also incredibly easy to care for, which is especially helpful when you have a busy life… which is kind of the point of owning an aquarium in the first place, isn’t it?  

Gobies are great fish for families with small children, since they are active in the daytime and not as shy as other aquarium fish. This is a relatively peaceful fish, unless they are placed into a tank with similar species. While this could evoke their aggressive nature, they are also known to create networks of special places for safety and will spend time in hiding.

Gobies grow to a very small size and are considered to be a low-maintenance variety. They have very good hygiene, and are often used as “cleaner fish,” eating all available food and keeping the water clean. They will eat anything that falls to the bottom of the tank, which makes them a great cleanup crew. 

Their low attention requirements make them good for active families. If you’re looking for a great fish for your family, consider a Goby!

Green Chromis

Green Chromis

The Green Chromis is a relatively new saltwater fish that makes a great addition to many aquariums. They are so named because of the bright green body and orange-red bars on the bottom of their bodies. The colorations may vary slightly, but the basic coloring will always be green and orange. These are some of the most durable saltwater fish you can buy, and they will thrive for years in nearly any saltwater aquarium.

For most people their first impression of the Green Chromis is that it is a beautiful fish, as they are easy to identify by their brilliant yellow-green or blue-green color and bright blue eyes. A Green Chromis will remain colorful and active if you keep it in an aquarium that is properly cycled. (The fact that Green Chromis can illuminate an aquarium is a big bonus.)  Green Chromis are an excellent scavenger and will help keep your aquarium clean. 

The Green Chromis, also known as the Blue Green Chromis, is a member of the Damselfish family and are very popular with both beginner and experienced hobbyists. Unlike others in the family, this fish is known for its playful yet calm nature. They love to swim, play, and hide in and around coral formations and other decorations. 

Their sociability makes them ideal for community living. It is recommended to keep a large group of Green Chromis in a tank that contains other fish to prevent bullying.

Blenny Fish

Blennies are fantastic fish for your aquarium because of their unique personalities. They are very social fish that act like “dolphins in the water” and are very entertaining to watch. They love to dance, swim upside down and they also like to play with their owners.  

Blennies are very healthy and hardy fish that are great for novice aquarists or aquarists with large fish only tanks who don’t want to disturb them.  Blennies are great fish for a families first saltwater tank because they are easy to take care of and very entertaining.

Blennies are one of the most interesting kinds of fish available. Reef aquarium owners tend to shy away from these fish, though, because they’re not as common as clownfish and gobies. But many people are unaware that blennies are actually great fish for a family saltwater aquarium—especially a smaller aquarium. 

Blennies are a type of fish that can be found in tropical and subtropical waters. They’re small fish, usually between 2 and 3 inches, so they’re perfect for a nano reef or a 10-gallon aquarium.  They’re also colorful fish, making them a great addition to a dull or under-decorated aquarium.  The only downside is that they’re not as common as more well known saltwater fish.



Looking for a pet to keep your children entertained? A damselfish might be the perfect solution. The gentle, colorful fish are very entertaining, but they’re also quite easy to care for, even for the most inexperienced aquarist.

Damselfish aren’t as flashy as clown fish; they don’t have big horns or elaborate patterns. They aren’t particularly big, and they tend to stay in the background. These little fish are a popular choice for many saltwater fish keepers because of their adaptability, their hardiness in captivity, and their tiny size. As a family pet, a damselfish is ideal for someone who wants a pet that is easy to care for and that won’t require a lot of attention.

Most people confuse the Damselfish with Cichlids as they look quite similar. Their colors are also amazing, ranging from bright blues and yellows to deep pinks and purples.

These tropical fish are hardy, fun for children, do not grow too large and are relatively easy to care for. Though they’re typically kept in tanks with only other damselfish, they can be kept in a peaceful community tank with other small, non-aggressive fish, as long as they are given plenty of space to avoid being eaten.

Royal Gramma Basslet

Royal Gramma Basslets are a great fish for your family’s saltwater aquarium. They are easy to care for and they are a great addition to any saltwater aquarium. They  are playful fish and they will spend all day swimming around the aquarium looking for food.

If you are looking for a fish for your saltwater aquarium that is colorful, family-friendly, and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep, then the Royal Gramma Basslet may be the perfect choice. The Royal Gramma Basslet can be kept in a community aquarium with larger fish and invertebrates.

There aren’t a lot of people that know about Royal Gramma Basslet, but if you have a chance to pick up one of these fish you should. They are great for your saltwater aquarium and are one of the best fish you can have for your home. They are very docile and easy to care for.

One of the most beautiful fish in the saltwater category is the Royal Gramma Basslet. This is an extremely popular fish and is often found to be the first fish that a family purchases. This fish will get along with many other types of fish in their aquarium. They don’t need a lot of room. Approximately 3 gallons per Basslet is enough.

This fish will grow up to 3-4 inches in length. They do get along well with other species, but not as well with their own. They do best when sharing a tank with other peaceful fish. Overall, this is an easy to care for fish that is suitable for families or experienced aquarists.

Royal Gramma Basslet
Some things to consider are:
  • The size and number of fish, as this informs the size and of the aquarium required
  • How much attention is required to attend to the particular needs of the species
  • The amount of equipment required, e.g., aquarium, water pumps and filters, plants and gravel, places to hide, and fish food
  • The cost to purchase the fish and required equipment
  • Care and feeding requirements — feeding and cleaning schedule
  • Activity level and compatibility with the owner’s/family’s activities
  • Lifespan – some types of fish live longer than others

Following is a guide to some of the most popular varieties and their associated costs and care requirements:

Best Saltwater Fish Species for your Aquarium

Saltwater fish require many gallons of water in their tanks to survive, unlike freshwater fish. Large tanks give fish more room to swim and they can also accommodate more than one fish type. Expert fish breeders also advocate for larger tanks because they make it easier to maintain a stable environment for the fish. 

With more water in an aquarium, accidents are less lethal because changes in the quality of water will not affect the fish immediately. Accidents can happen anytime and you shouldn’t panic.  Most problems can be fixed rather quickly as long as you regularly monitor your tank and the water quality. 

Here are some of the best species for new aquarium owners.

Fish species Size Characteristic Cost Lifespan
Royal Gramma Basslet 3 inches Peaceful fish that requires little care. $20 – $25 5 + years
Longnose Hawkfish 3 – 5 inches


The fish is easy to maintain and loves living alone in a tank. Requires a closed tank because it can jump. $30 – $50 5 – 7 years
Mollies 2 – 4 inches


Peaceful species but if kept with a mate, they reproduce fast. $2 – $4 3 – 5 years
Blenny Fish 2 – 3 inches


They fight amongst themselves so you should place only one in a tank. The fish can also jump from the tank if not closed. $25 – $30 3 – 5 years
Spotted Prawn Goby 4.3 inches Peaceful but aggressive towards similar species. $14 – $45 6 – 8 years
Yellowtail Damselfish 1 – 3 inches Moderately aggressive and prefers to occupy the middle or bottom part of the aquarium. $5 – $10 4 – 6 years
Blue/ Green Chromis 3 – 3.75 inches Attractive fish that is peaceful yet active in the aquarium. $10 – $15 8 – 15 years
Cost of Having a Saltwater Fish Aquarium

Fish are generally low maintenance pets. The total cost of having a saltwater fish tank not only includes the cost of the fish but also other miscellaneous costs such as food or the electrical cost of running the water heater.

However, most of the costs are one-off, after which you only need to feed your pet and maintain the aquarium with the right water conditions.

Here is a list showing different items you may need and their approximate costs.

Product Cost
Fish $2 – $50 depending on species
Gravel/sand/decorations $1 – $30 depending on type and quantity
Aquarium $350 – $580
Air pumps & water filters $70 – $100
Food $10 – $100 yearly
Aquarium lighting $5 – $30
Heating methods $15 – $30
Testing kits $50


Saltwater fish are cheap to obtain because the most range between $2 and $25 but some exotic breeds can cost even more than $100. Depending on your budget, you can easily find a pet to suit your needs in the pet stores near you.

The aquariums also broadly differ in size and the bigger the tank, the more it costs.  As mentioned before, most saltwater fish require large tanks. You can get used aquariums from pet auctions or garage sales for a fraction of what a new one would cost you.

Lighting for the aquarium is an option because most fish don’t mind living in the dark. The lighting only serves as a decoration because it’s pleasing to the eye. Medical practitioners even associate watching the beautiful aquarium with the fish swimming around as therapeutic for human beings.

Fish aren’t heavy feeders thus; you shouldn’t expect to spend an arm and a leg feeding your fish.

Water heaters for the aquarium are however necessary because most saltwater fish thrive in temperatures of between 72 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The gravel, sand, and stones coupled with other decorations are an essential part of the aquarium because other than beauty, most saltwater fish love burrowing. The cost of the substrate is insignificant, but it’s crucial to maintain it at optimum cleanliness to prevent your fish from becoming ill or worse, dying.

Saltwater Fish Habitat Requirements

If you get the aquarium right from the start, you’ll have an easy time maintaining it. Saltwater fish require a lot of effort to maintain because any drastic changes in temperature, PH, or salinity could kill them very quickly.  We’ll cover all these in the next sections.

Temperature /Heating

You have to obtain an optimum temperature for your fish to thrive. It’s also important to note that hot temperatures increase the chances of fish becoming ill. The warmth can also lead to excessive growth of algae in the tank.  This can easily be dealt with by using an algae scraper.

Warm water temperatures also reduce the amount of available dissolved oxygen in the water. Different fish types have different requirements for dissolved oxygen.  This shouldn’t be a huge problem because with a standard air pump there should be plenty of available oxygen for your fish.

Scientifically, high temperatures in the tank also speed up the rate at which organic matter decomposes. As materials in the tank decompose bacteria multiply.  In the process, they reduce the available oxygen. Again the problem is minimal because there will be an air pump pushing air into the water.

Other methods to mitigate the lower oxygen problem are to not overfeed the fish, and to regularly clean the tank.  Maintaining optimum warmth in the water is ideal to ensure your fish have a healthy habitat. You should have a thermometer in your tank to help you detect any changes in temperature.

Tank Size

Most importantly, the size of the tank determines the overall health and comfort of your fish. Here is a table showing different saltwater species of fish and their ideal aquarium.

Fish Tank size
Royal Gramma Basslet 30 gallons
Longnose Hawkfish 30 gallons
Mollies 20 gallons
Blenny Fish 10 gallons
Spotted Prawn Goby 24 – 26 gallons



Other than decoration, the substrate (the gravel or any other material at the bottom of your fish tank) material is a vital part of marine fish habitat. Some fish and other sea creatures love to burrow into this. Some do it to rest, others do it because it makes them feel safe.

Choosing a fine gravel or sand substrate prevents your fish from getting injuries while burrowing. Some of the fish that love hiding in the substrate include the Gobies, Starfish, Blennies, and Shrimps.

The material placed at the bottom of the tank also serves a biological purpose of hosting some aquatic animals. Worms, other invertebrates, and even good bacteria your tank needs for a healthy ecosystem can live in this material. Most substrate mediums for marine fish are alive.  The good bacteria grows on it and it becomes alive over time.

The best substrates are the ones you would find in the sea. For example, the Reef, Aragonite, and the shell-based substrates make the best habitats for saltwater fish. These mediums also come in different consistencies, colors, shapes, and sizes.


To make your fish tank a saltwater one, you should use sea salt and not the table salt. Sea salt is obtained from evaporation of water in the ocean or other salty water sources. Usually the salt has coarse textures and more mineral elements because it undergoes minimal processing procedures. Table salt often has other chemicals added which are not good for your tank.

 To determine the salinity of the water, you should use a salinity tester.


While completely optional, lighting is a necessity in adding beauty to your fish tank.  If you decide to buy the tank and the lighting separately, you have a choice of buying a fish only lighting or a reef lighting.

Fish only lightings are readily available, and cheap while the reef lighting is a bit complex and pricey. If you foresee a future where you’ll convert your tank into a reef aquarium, then, buying reef lighting is more economical in the long run.

It is also a good idea to buy a lighting timer so that you don’t keep the tank lit up while you are sleeping.

Food Preference for Saltwater Fish

Overfeeding of fish is a common mistake among fish owners. Adult fish eat once a day while younger ones eat two to three times daily. Only serve your fish with the food they’ll finish within five minutes of serving. Excess fish food ends up as deposits at the bottom of the tank, making cleaning difficult, especially if you don’t have fish that eat leftover food in the aquarium.

Other than the fish flakes, pet owners should supplement the diet of the fish with other food types. For example, bloodworms or brine shrimp make great meals for carnivorous fish. Most of the live foods are available in frozen or freeze dried forms in many pet stores.

The herbivorous fish often eat the algae that grows in the aquarium, but you can always buy algae sheets and dried seaweeds to add to their diet. The omnivorous saltwater fish can eat a combination of meaty foods and plants. Whenever you’re in doubt about what to feed your fish, it’s advisable to consult your fish supplier to avoid making mistakes.

Since different fish live in different locations in the aquarium, feeding can at times be challenging. For example, if you decide to float a leaf of spinach on the tank, the bottom dwellers may not enjoy this.  It might be eaten before it ever has a chance to reach the bottom of the tank. Fish experts recommend that pet owners buy feeding clips to help them place food at different levels within the tank.

Saltwater fish can be picky eaters and are therefore prone to being malnourished. Because you know what types of foods each fish in your tank likes most, try to feed them their preferred foods. A simple search online and you can quickly find out what they like, or you can always ask your local pet shop what they feed a particular fish. By knowing what they like you will reduce food waste from contaminating your tank’s water quality, and help to keep your fish well fed.

Some people blanch vegetables for their fish to help the fish better absorb the fiber present in vegetables.

Aggressive Behavior in Saltwater Fish

Aggressiveness in saltwater fish is associated with space and food. It’s important for fish owners to understand the compatibility of the tank occupants. Otherwise, your most expensive fish may end up being killed by others. Some of the most aggressive saltwater fish include the Damselfish, Banded Hawkfish, Coral Hogfish, and the Clown Triggerfish.

Signs of an Aggressive Fish

          Picking food from the mouth of another fish

          Actively charging / chasing other fish


When a fish is targeted by another, it often reacts by hiding for very long hours and refusal to eat. The stress caused by attacks may lead to deterioration of health or even death of your beloved pet.

Aquarists can help their saltwater fish live in harmony by ensuring that they don’t overcrowd the tank with so many fish. Overcrowding may lead to fish attacking each other over food, space, or even mates.

General Care of Saltwater Fish

Nitrate reduction

The food that falls on the substrate may also increase the buildup of nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia.  Anything that decays within the tank and breaks down can cause a build up of these 3 chemicals.  This is why it is important for the health of everything in your fish tank to keep it clean. Do regular partial water changes to keep a build up of these dangerous chemicals to a minimum.

Unlike the freshwater fish, saltwater fish cannot survive in a Nitrate filled aquarium. Freshwater fish survive with nitrates a little above 200 milligrams per liter while saltwater fish can only survive with nitrate levels below 20 milligrams per liter.

To reduce nitrate concentration, you should change or clean the water often. Most pet owners usually reduce the water level and add clean water into the tank. The best practice is always changing the water and adding adequate sea salt to maintain the correct salinity levels.

Substrate cleaning

Most food leftovers and other waste materials end up at the bottom of your aquarium. Filtration is the best method of ensuring water hygiene. You can also invest in a vacuum cleaner that attracts all waste matter while leaving your substrate medium in the tank.

You can also invest in sand sifting marine invertebrates. The sand sifting creatures usually intake substrate and food debris through their mouth. They eat any food, and spit out anything it doesn’t want through the gills.

Aquarium cleaning

If you feed your fish on vegetables such as algae, seaweeds, spinach, or lettuce, you may expect that some may end up falling to the bottom of the tank and decomposing.

The decomposed matter makes the water look murky while the algae stick on the aquarium walls obstructing views.  The algae is a cloudy film that builds up on the tank walls over time.  You can use an algae scraper to help release the algae from the walls so it can be removed by the filters.  You should also avoid overfeeding your fish to avoid the buildup of waste in the water.

In conclusion, taking care of saltwater fish requires more effort compared to the freshwater fish. Doing some research to identify the best breeds goes a long way to making your work easier. Always choose fish that requires smaller tanks because it’s easier to maintain them.

Basic Facts about Saltwater Fish

Saltwater fish have bolder and brighter colors compared to their freshwater counterparts, and a saltwater aquarium is usually a sight to behold.

Unlike other types of fish, the saltwater ones have to drink water because osmosis makes them lose water from their bodies. 

Most saltwater fish are aggressive to their types but can tolerate other species. But there are some species that prefer living with a paired mate. Pet owners, therefore, need to research the specific characteristics of their fish for compatibility if they intend to keep more than one fish in the tank.

Fish are often able to remember their owners and in most cases, they swim towards the top when the owner approaches the aquarium. The action probably depicts that the fish associate the owner with food and security. 

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