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If you’re considering a saltwater aquarium then you probably already have some ideas of the fish you want to keep. You may not know all their names, but you at least have a mental image of what they look like and can picture them swimming happily up and down your tank already. But before you get started purchasing all kinds of exotic Tropical fish at the local reef store let’s take a closer look at some things you want to consider 1st:

What makes a good starter fish?
First, we need to determine just what it is that makes a fish suitable for the beginner in the first place. Meeting every single one of these criteria for each fish isn’t critical but doing so will ultimately mean less problems later.

Small Size- probably the most important, you need fish that will fit happily in your aquarium.
Friendly- you also need fish that won’t kill each other.
Hardy- some fish are extremely delicate so avoiding them is key.
Affordable- it’s your first tank and mistakes are prone to happen; at least you can avoid them being costly mistakes.
Easy to Feed- the ocean is full of specialty feeders that are best left to the experts.
Easy to Obtain- getting just the fish you want is nice, but for some species you could be waiting a long time.

recommended species: Ocellaris Clown, Percula Clown
Clownfish are possibly the most recognized and most desired of all the marine fish. Nearly all clowns for sale these days are captive bred, making them a hardy bunch and a great choice for your first foray into a saltwater tank. Besides the classic look, clownfish come in various other patterns as well as some color variations. The one drawback is that clowns can be somewhat aggressive. Furthermore, while clownfish are well known for their tendency to live amongst the tentacles of anemones they will get along perfectly fine without one.

recommended species: Clown Gobies*, Watchmen Gobies*, Neon Gobies*
Gobies come in a multitude of shapes, colors, and patterns along with varying behavioral traits. Some are free swimming while others prefer to perch on outcroppings hopping from one spot to another and still others borrow into the sand to make their home or just to search for a meal. What they all have in common is a small size, peaceful temperament, and relatively easy care requirements. They often bring quite a bit of personality along as well.

recommended species: Bicolor Blenny, Combtooth Blenny, Starry Blenny, Sailfin Blennies*
Blennies are small bottom dwelling fish that feed primarily on microalgae which makes them a great addition to most any tank (cause let’s face it- who doesn’t have algae) but will often happily gobble down anything else you throw in the tank. Like a lot of saltwater fish, blennies get along fine with other fish but have a tendency to fight with their own kind as as such should be kept one per tank.

recommended species: Blue Chromis, Blue/Green Chromis
If you’re looking for a schooling fish then chromis are the choice to make. Despite being damsels, chromis are very peaceful and will get along great with other peaceful fish as well as invertebrates and corals. They’re good for luring out shy fish as well who view their willingness to swim in the open as a sign that it’s safe to venture out. As mentioned earlier, they enjoy being in schools, so if you intend to keep them get at least three.

recommended species: Six Line Wrasse, Four Line Wrasse, Fairy Wrasses*
The wrasse category occupies a wide variety of fish in every color combination you can imagine as well as some interesting shapes and behaviors. Wrasses are very active fish and will brighten up any aquarium as they dart in and out of the rocks searching for a snack. When selecting a wrasse do note that some are skilled predators that may make a quick meal of any shrimp or crabs your tank houses.

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