21 Most Popular Saltwater Fish for Your Aquarium (Beautiful)

If you are looking for a fish that brings a vibrant, alluring appearance to your fish tank, a saltwater fish is an excellent choice.

Saltwater fish are known to be much more colorful which is a huge reason why people opt for saltwater tanks.

Many aquarium hobbyists think that saltwater fish are so much more difficult to take care of compared to freshwater fish. While they do require more maintenance, it is totally worth it if you want your aquarium looking bright and colorful.

There are so many amazing saltwater fish out there to choose from, but here are the 21 most popular ones among fish tank owners.

1. Firefish

The firefish is from the Gobiidae family, and they originate from the Indian and Pacific oceans. They are often referred to as a variety of other names such as Firefish Goby, Nemateleotris magnifica, Fire Goby or Fire Dartfish. The minimum size tank that they can be kept in is a 20-gallon tank.

They have bright and beautiful coloration that has a yellow face, white upper body, and firey red lower body/tail. Their fins usually have a dark black-colored lowlight on their fins. They usually have a slender, long body relative to their 3-inch length.

As for their behavior, they are usually quite peaceful and calm meaning they work in community tanks. These fish love to swim and hide between rocks in the tank. Also, they have the tendency to jump out of the top of the tank, so make sure your fish tank lid is secured properly.

2. Green Chromis

The Green Chromis is actually the number one most imported saltwater fish in the aquarium trade’s entirety. This is due to their great coloration and popularity among fish owners.

This species of fish loves to swim in schools, so they look amazing in community tanks. Their electric-green color brightens up the tank and makes it look so much more visually appealing.

They actually are very small, as they only grow to around 3 inches in length. However, they still do need a wide-open space to swim in due to their energetic behaviors.

3. Common Clownfish

The Clownfish is undoubtedly the most popular saltwater fish on the market today. There are around 30 species of Clownfish that are found to exist.

Their bright orange color cannot go unspotted. They also have clear black and white stripes that stand out boldly against the orange color. Their fins also have black tips. They are quite small, only being around 11 centimeters in size.

A fun fact about this fish is that they can actually start out as a male and change to a female. This occurs when a dominant female dies. Once they go through this change, they cannot reverse it.

4. Tangs

If you are looking for a fish to brighten up the colors of your aquarium, Tangs could be a great option for you. Their bright colors illuminate any tank. The most common colors that they come in are bright sunshine yellow and royal blue.

Generally, they are peaceful among other species in community tanks. But, when combined with their own species, they tend to become aggressive and territorial. They thrive most in environments such as live-rock tanks and coral reef tanks.

They do require a tank of at least 100 gallons size because of their size and activity level. Even though they only grow up to 6 to 12 inches in length, they are known to need a lot of swimming space due to their behaviors in huge oceans. When under proper care, these fish can live up to 30 years old.

5. Chalk Bass

The Chalk Bass is one of the best saltwater fish for beginning fish owners. This is due to their relatively low maintenance compared to some of the other fish on this list. It remains popular for both beginning and experienced fish owners.

The appearance of this fish isn’t as exciting as others, but they still are quite stunning in an aquarium. The fish is mostly white with red stripes along the top of the body.

This fish does good in community tanks given the right methods of introducing it to other fish. You should introduce all of the fish at the same time to avoid this fish from becoming territorial. If you do that, the Chalk Bass should do great in a community tank.

6. Dottyback

The Dottyback is a member of the Pseudochromidae family which has over 150 species of fish in it. They originate from multiple regions including the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Red Sea, and areas in the Western Pacific.

Dottybacks are very colorful and vibrant, and they will be sure to brighten up any saltwater tank. They usually come in colors such as bright violet and yellow with some other variations.

They do alright in community tanks under the correct circumstances. They can be a bit territorial, so it is best to keep them with slightly more aggressive fish so they know their place in the tank. Otherwise, they can attack weaker species.

7. Damselfish

Damselfish are found in areas of the Atlanta, Pacific, and Indian oceans. The largest that this species can grow is about 36 centimeters long, so they are relatively small compared to the other saltwater fish on this list. However, some of the rare species of damselfish can be quite large (up to 12 inches).

Therefore, these fish need a fairly large size tank. They like to claim different areas of the tank and are very territorial. So, you will have to be careful when pairing with other fish. Do not keep them with weaker fish, or else they will become aggressive.

Their eccentric color is what makes this fish stand out. They can come in a variety of different colors such as violet, yellow, and blue. They are beautiful in any saltwater tanks, and they are stunning to look at.

8. Mollies

Mollies are actually a species that can survive in both freshwater and saltwater. However, when placing them in saltwater, they first must become acclimated to that environment. This can most successfully and easily be done with black Mollies, but it can be done with all Mollies.

They make great fish for community tanks given their peaceful nature. They prefer a planted aquariums because they like to swim towards the bottom of the tank and hide in the plants. They are quite social and enjoy the company of other species of fish.

9. Royal Gramma

The Royal gramma is also known as the fairy basslet. They are native to tropical environments of the western Atlantic ocean. They grow to be around 3 inches in length, and they should be kept in a tank that is at least 20 gallons in size.

They are incredibly vibrant, and they do an excellent job of adding some color to your tank. They usually have a purple head and upper body that fades out into a yellow lower body and tail.

They are very easy to pair with other species of fish, so they work great in community tanks. Although, they do need some rocks and/or plants so they can hide.

10. Butterflyfish

The Butterflyfish is very common amongst experienced fish tank owners. They can be a bit difficult for beginning fish owners because they do require a lot of maintenance.

These fish need a large tank for lots of swimming space. They are very active and playful, but they also like to hide. So, it is best that you also have some aquarium rocks for them to interact with.

They size up to around 6 inches in length. Also, they originate from the reefs of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans.

11. Coral Beauties

The Coral Beauty stands out for its vibrant coloration. They typically have a blue body with orange stripes, but some patterns are different from others. There are variations of colors and patterns, but they all usually are some combination of orange, blue, and purple with spots and/or stripes.

The Coral Beauty actually does not need to be kept in coral, unlike the name suggests. They actually prefer lots of swimming space, so a tank at least the size of 70 gallons is necessary for this species.

They do fine in community tanks with both their own species and different species of fish. If they are combined with their own species, it is best to only keep them in small schools to avoid any competition.

12. Pajama Cardinalfish

Perhaps this is one of the most visually appealing fish on this list. They typically have a bright yellow-green face/head with a bright polka-dotted tail. The mid-section of their bodies vary between different colors and patterns.

They can be kept in as small as a 20-gallon tank. However, if you add any more fish, you will need at least a 30-gallon tank or larger.

They prefer to have lots of plants and rocks in the tank. During the day, they are quite shy and timid, so they prefer a place to hide. But, they become super active and playful at night.

13. Blenny Fish

Blenny fish typically dwell at the bottom of the tank. For this reason, they prefer to have plants and rocks, so they are able to hide. Even though they are shy, they are some of the most adorable fish out there. They have great personalities that both beginning and experienced fish owners love.

This species does fine in community tanks but only with other species. Avoid pairing them with their own species, as they have been seen to become territorial and aggressive.

There are tons of different Blenny fish to choose from. They come in different variations appearance-wise, but their behaviors typically remain stagnant.

14. Big Eye Black Bar Soldierfish

The name of this fish is pretty self-explanatory about the appearance. This fish has very large eyes with a dark black pupil that protrudes from the head. They typically have a bright red body with white highlights.

This fish requires at least a tank that is 70 gallons in size. Even though they only grow to be around 2 to 4 inches, they do need a lot of swimming space. This is due to how they act in their natural environment where they love to swim long distances.

These fish are actually nocturnal. This means that during the day, they typically remain hidden, while at night, they are more active.

15. Triggerfish

This is one of the most visually appealing saltwater fish on this list. Their unique body shape and bright colors makes this fish perfect for making your aquarium look better visually.

One thing to keep in mind with this fish is that they are very hard to keep in community tanks. More than one Triggerfish can possibly be kept together but only if introduced at the same time. This will avoid any competition. As for other species, there are only a few that are compatible with the Triggerfish.

This is one of the most resilient saltwater fish out there. They are able to stand up to the toughest conditions which is why they are so loved by aquarium hobbyists. For this reason, they are able to live for approximately 15 years.

16. Wrasses

The Wrasse is part of the Labridae family which are known for their bright coloration. With over 600 species of fish within this family, most of them are very brightly pigmented. In regards to size, they can span from half an inch to six feet long. Therefore, the tank size depends on your specific fish.

Something interesting about this species is that they can change color over time. This is a common reason why these fish are so popular among fish tank owners.

17. Watchman Goby

This saltwater fish is recommended for beginners, but experienced fish owners also love them. They are open to different kinds of diets and they are relatively low-maintenance. These are one of the most popular saltwater fish, and they can found pretty much anywhere.

As for compatibility, they get along great with most other species of fish. But, they should not be kept with other Goby fish because they can become aggressive.

18. Flame Hawkfish

This fish stands out because of its fiery red body coloration. They stand out in saltwater tanks, and they add a visual appeal.

They should be given lots of hiding places to avoid aggression. Otherwise, they attend to attack fish that dwell towards the bottom of the tank.

These fish are not recommended for beginners because they have a hard time swimming and feeding.

19. True Percula Clownfish

This Clownfish is different than the common Clownfish. The most obvious difference is that this species is dark-colored. However, despite their dull coloration, they make a great addition to any saltwater tank.

They are recommended for beginners, as they are very easy to care for compared to some of the other saltwater fish on this list. They have great personalities that mesh well with some other types of saltwater fish.

20. Volitan Lionfish

This Lionfish is also referred to as the Common Lionfish. This fish can grow quite large, as they can grow up to 15 inches in length. Also, if cared for properly, they have a long lifespan.

This fish should only be kept with fish larger than itself, as they are known to eat smaller species. Therefore, you have to be very careful when placing them in community tanks.

Our recommendation is that only experienced fish owners care for this fish, as they can possibly infect you with the venom in their fins. While it is very visually appealing, it should only be kept if the owner is willing to use great caution.

21. Orange Spotted Goby

This Goby is magnificently pigmented, as it has bright orange-colored spots all over its body and fins. They are quite small, as they usually grow to be only 11 centimeters in length. Therefore, they should be kept in a tank that is at least 20 gallons in size.

They love to both hide and swim openly. Therefore, it is good to have a healthy mix of both rocks, plants, and open space.

This is another species that tend to jump out the top of the water, so a firm and sturdy lid that is attached properly is absolutely necessary.

Conclusion

If you are looking for bright colors and excellent personalities, a saltwater fish could be for you. There are so many amazing saltwater fish that you can keep in your tank. However, it is crucial that before getting a saltwater fish, you know you are capable of putting in the work and maintenance needed to keep your fish happy and healthy.

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