6 Easy Marine Aquarium Fish for Beginners

Saltwater fish are often perceived as difficult to care for. They can be challenging as saltwater fish require stable conditions. Marine fish are more difficult than freshwater fish . However, choosing the right fish can be very important. Easy marine aquarium fish are recommended for beginners. Some saltwater fish are extremely difficult to keep. This list runs through the best choices for the beginner saltwater fish keeper.

Ocellaris Clownfish

Ocellaris Clownfish are heralded as the most popular beginner fish. They are easy to keep and have brilliant coloration. Their popularity exploded after the smash hit movie ‘Finding Nemo’. They are suitable for nano aquariums and very large aquariums. Ocellaris Clownfish are tank bred which makes them easier to care for as they are tolerant to a range of conditions.  Ocellaris Clownfish are omnivorous and easy to feed. They are also used to captivity and are less stressed by transport and new environments. Maximum size is 3″ but most inhabitants will rarely get larger than 2″ in size. They are a great choice for smaller marine aquariums. The clownfish are also reef safe. This can be an excellent choice if you are deciding to upgrade to a reef or already have started building a reef. The Ocellaris Clownfish will not damage or consume any corals in the aquarium. The Ocellaris Clownfish is the number one easy marine aquarium fish choice for the beginner.


Blue Green Chromis

The Blue Green Chromis is a stunning and peaceful reef fish. It is an excellent beginner fish as they are generally inexpensive and an active tank inhabitant. The Blue Green Chromis can be purchased for as little as $5 in your LFS. Like the Ocellaris Clownfish the Blue Green Chromis is ‘reef safe’ and will not damage or attack your corals. It is an amazing beginner choice as they are very hardy and will adapt to a range of conditions. Beginners can find it difficult to maintain stable salinity and pH when starting out. The Blue Green Chromis is forgiving and will be able to tolerate mild changes in these conditions. Advanced reef fish will not be able to tolerate changes in the water conditions and are a poor choice for beginners.


Both the Kauderns Cardinalfish and Pajama Cardinalfish are excellent choices for the beginner saltwater aquarium keeper. These are easy marine aquarium fish for the beginner. It is essential to look for the captive bred varieties of these Cardinalfish. Captive bred have not been caught from open waters and endured significant stress and travel. Wild varieties should be avoided as they are much harder to keep. Captive bred variants are often cheaper and tolerant to a range of aquarium conditions. Although it is always best to match your conditions with the shop you purchased the fish from. This includes temperature, pH and salinity. The Kauderns Cardinalfish can be slightly aggressive toward other species. It is recommended for larger aquariums. The Pajama Cardinalfish is more docile and can be kept in smaller marine aquaria. Both fish are reef safe and can be kept with corals without issue.


The Azure Damselfish, the Yellowtail Damselfish and the Rolland’s Damselfish are excellent marine beginner fish. Saltwater Damselfish are reef safe, omnivorous and small. They are best kept in a tank size of 30 gallons or more. The Damselfish can sometimes be aggressive when brooding. It is not recommended to house damselfish with very delicate or long finned fish. However, the damselfish will do fine with other clownfish, cardinalfish and chromis. It is recommended to keep Damselfish in small groups and maintain odd numbers of the same species. The damselfish originate from the Indo-Pacific reefs and are very active both night and day. They are very hardy and a great addition for the beginner.


Blennys are an excellent addition to any beginner marine aquarium. The best species for beginners include the Midas Blenny, Sailfin Blenny, Tail Spot Blenny, Bicolor Blenny and the Linear Blenny. Blennys are notable because of their interesting appearance and their swimming characteristics. Blennys will often spend the majority of their time on the aquarium gravel or hidden in the live rock. Almost all species of Blennys are peaceful and reef safe. They make an excellent addition to the aquarium for a beginner.  They can often grow upwards of 5″ in the aquarium. Larger aquariums are recommended once they begin to grow.


Wrasse are interesting to watch and a great beginner fish. They are hardy, colorful and very active. It should be noted that wrasses can be aggressive towards other fish and fishkeepers should be weary keeping them with slow, long finned species. Wrasses enjoy lots of live rock and crevices to hide and swim between. They also require a high protein omnivorous diet to match their natural diet. Notable Wrasses that are recommended for the beginner include the Red Head Solon Fairy Wrasse, Lubbocks Fairy Wrasse, Ruby Head Fairy Wrasse, Six Line Wrasse, Carpenters Flasher Wrasse and the McKosckers Flasher Wrasse. Wrasses are a joy to keep and their consistent darting around the aquarium will ensure there is always much to watch in the aquarium.



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