9 Best Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners

A full-fledged saltwater aquarium is an unrivaled center of attraction as a decorative in any interior setup. While most start their fish-keeping journey with freshwater fishes, some might opt for saltwater fishes partly because of their stunning visuals.

So, here are some of the best saltwater aquarium fish to keep as beginners.


saltwater aquarium fishes clownfish 1

Clownfish or anemonefish belongs to the Pomacentridae family. Its scientific name is Amphiprion ocellaris. Depending on the species, clownfish maybe orange, yellow with red or black and broad white stripes or patches. Large ones can be about 6.3 inches long while smallest measure up to 3 inches long. They have a lifespan of 3 to 6 years. A minimum of 30-gallon tank is suitable for hosting these fishes. The pH of water in the aquarium should be between 8 - 8.4 while temperature should be at minimum 75 degrees Fahrenheit but exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Clownfishes are omnivores.

Yellowtail Damselfish

saltwater aquarium fishes yello tale damsel 1

Chrysiptera parasema or better known as Yellowtail Damselfish belongs to the Pomacentridae family. It has a broad blue-tinted body along with a yellow tail. On an average, yellowtails can live for 5 to 6 years and can be up to 2.8 inches long. They are semi-aggressive. If planning on petting yellowtails, you need at least a 20-gallon aquarium with water at 74 - 84 degrees Fahrenheit and pH ranging between 8.2 to 8.4. Yellowtails are easy to care of and rely on an omnivorous diet.

Volitan Lionfish

saltwater aquarium fishes volitan lionfish 1

Volitan Lionfish comes from the Scorpaenidae family. Taking care of this fish is easy. Volitans are carnivores. They are peaceful but can sometimes be predatory. Unlike most fishes, Volitans have a unique look, much factored to its extravagant fins and body stripes. Their entire body is striped with dark and white colors. Being able to grow up to 14 inches long, they need a tank of at least 120-gallon capacity. As for water conditions, Volitans can live in temperatures between 74 - 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Volitan Lionfishes are carnivores.

Purple Firefish

saltwater aquarium fishes purple firefish 1

Purple Firefish is scientifically named as Nemateleotris decora. They are slender and can grow to be 4 inches long. The body color combination is contrasting with a white or silver body complemented by purple fins (hence, the name purple firefish). These firefishes belong to the Microdesmidae family. They are peaceful and easy to take care. You will need a 20-gallon tank for hosting this purple fish which will grow 4 inches long at maximum. The aquarium water needs to be in the temperature range of 72 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit with pH in the range of 8.1 and 8.4. Purple Firefish have a lifespan of 3 years and rely on a carnivorous diet.

Blue Green Reef Chromis

saltwater aquarium fishes blue green reef chromis 1

Blue Green Reef Chromis is alternatively known as Chromis viridis. They belong to the Pomacentridae family. Their body colors range from light blue to pale green. Blue Green Chromises live for more than 8 years and can be maximum of 4 inches long. These fishes need at least 30 gallons of water with the temperature between 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit and pH in between 8.1 to 8.4. These species are known to be peaceful and easy to care for. Blue Green Chromises are omnivores.

Bicolor Blenny

saltwater aquarium fishes bicolor benny 1

Bicolor Blenny belongs to the Blenniidae family. An alternative name for Bicolor Blenny is Ecsenius bicolor. These blennies have a dark body with yellow tailfin. At maximum, they can be 4 inches long. On average, bicolor blennies can live for 2 to 4 years. Aquarium water with pH between 8.1 to 8.4 and temperature in the range of 70 - 82 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable for hosting these blennies. They are easy to take care of and peaceful. Bicolor Blennies are omnivores.

Chalk Bass

saltwater aquarium fishes chalkbass 1

Serranus tortugarum, better known as Chalk Bass belongs to the Serranidae family. Most of the Chalk Bass’s body is dominated by orange shade along with light color patches. These fishes can grow to be up to 3 inches long with an average lifespan of 8 – 12 years. Concerning the tank setup, you will require at least a 30-gallon tank with water temperatures between 72 – 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Chalk Bass are semi-aggressive and rely on a carnivore's diet. They are suitable for beginners as they are easy to take care of.

Pajama Cardinalfish

saltwater aquarium fishes pajama cardinal 1

Scientifically named as Sphaeramia nematoptera, Pajama Cardinalfish belongs to the Apogonidae family. They have a yellowish face with silver or white body and wide black vertical stripe. These fishes can live up to 5 years and grow to be around 3.5 inches long. These Pajama fishes need at least a 30-gallon tank with water temperatures lying between 72 - 78 degrees Fahrenheit and pH between 8.1 to 8.4. They are peaceful carnivores. Taking care of Pajama Cardinals is easy.

Royal Gramma

saltwater aquarium fishes royal gamma 1

Royal Gramma belongs to the Grammidae family. Its body color transitions from purple to yellow along the body line. They can measure 3 inches long at max and live for more than 5 years under proper conditions. For hosting royal grammas, you will need a minimum of 30-gallon tank. The water temperature in the tank should be around 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit along with a pH in between 8.1 to 8.4. Just like Pajama Cardinals, they are peaceful carnivores and easy to take care of.



  • Cycle the aquarium properly before introducing your fishes.
  • Get to know your fish. Do not just buy any fish. Learn about it; its diet, behavior, compatibility and other aspects to understand its needs and tend to it better.
  • Ensure that your finned friend is on a suitable diet. Check its diet preferences (whether omnivore or carnivore) and feed accordingly. Also, neither underfeed nor overfeed your fishes.
  • Saltwater aquariums can have reefs and corals. Make sure the fish you chose is compatible with reef or coral corresponding to the setup.
  • Install a powerhead to achieve the desired water movement inside the aquarium. It is necessary for the fishes to feel at home in this artificial marine setup for maintaining their health.
  • Also, regularly monitor and maintain the tank conditions.
  • The above individual fish information is based on the assumption that only one type of fish is being hosted in the aquarium. For multiple species setup, you will have to factor in those other aspects like each species' spatial, filtration needs to host all of them together correctly. However, as a beginner, we suggest you stick with single species setup for the time being.
  • The minimum tank size is calculated considering at least three fishes of same species for a particular tank. You will have to adjust the tank size based on your number. For more information on tank sizes, check out this aquarium starter article.

Saltwater fishes make for impressive visuals in an aquarium setup. That said, they do require a fair amount of care and maintenance when compared to their freshwater counterparts.

This was a short introductory article. We hope you got some information about some of the common saltwater fishes available as pets in the market.

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