List of marine aquarium fish species

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The following list of marine aquarium fish species commonly available in the aquarium trade is not a completely comprehensive list; certain rare specimens may available commercially yet not be listed here. A brief section on each, with a link to the page about the particular species is provided along with references for further information.

Angelfish (Large)[edit]

A Queen Angelfish

These big beauties are considered to be quite heavy, but because of their size may present a significant challenge to the potential keeper. They need huge aquariums, up to 180 gallons to house one for its entire lifespan.[1] Two angels might be kept in the same aquarium provided it is a large aquarium, they are properly acclimated as juveniles, and they have very different colouring and body shape.[2] However, because all Angelfish have essentially the same diet, mixing them is a feat that should be left to only advanced keepers. None are reef safe, and a potential owner should be aware that they need to have plenty of vegetable matter in their diet. They undergo major changes in colouration while maturing, and unless specified given descriptions are for adult specimens.[3][4][5]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Blue ring angelfish, annularis angelfish
Pomacanthus annularis.JPG
Pomacanthus annularis No Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Arabian angelfish, Asfur angelfish
Pomacanthus maculosus, Toledo Zoo.jpg
Pomacanthus asfur No Easy 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Bellus angelfish
Genicanthus bellus.jpg
Genicanthus bellus Yes Moderate Light blue all over. Exhibits strong sexual dimorphism: females have wide black bands, males' bands are orange. 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)[6]
Blue angelfish
BlueAngelfish.jpg
Holacanthus bermudensis No Moderate Blue Angelfish has an overall aqua hue with a yellow shimmer and yellow edges on the fins and scales. The Blue Angelfish does not have the striking blue crown or other blue highlights of the Queen Angelfish. This species has been known to reproduce with the Queen Angelfish, making a half breed that looks like a mixture between the two species. 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)[7]
Bluespotted angelfish
Chaetodontoplus caeruleopunctatus.jpg
Chaetodontoplus caeruleopunctatus No Difficult 700121000000000000021 cm (8.3 in)
Blueface angelfish
Euxiphipops xanthometopon.jpg
Euxiphipops xanthometopon No Moderate 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Cortez angelfish
Pomacanthus zonipectus.jpg
Pomacanthus zonipectus No Moderate Darkly hued with yellow stripes. 700146000000000000046 cm (18.1 in)[8]
Emperor angelfish
Pomacanthus imperator crop.jpg
Pomacanthus imperator No Moderate Juveniles are black with blue-white spiraling; adults are blue with yellow stripes, accented with white and black and a blue mask. Will easily be the dominate angelfish if housed with other angels. 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)[9]
French angelfish
French Angelfish off Grand Cayman.JPG
Pomacanthus paru No Difficult Juveniles are black with 3 yellow vertically running stripes, may also display blue on pelvic fins. Adults lard black with white vertical stripes. 700141000000000000041 cm (16.1 in)[10]
Gray angelfish
Gray angelfish.jpg
Pomacanthus arcuatus No Easy to Moderate Light grey with dark spots and bluish/grey mask over face. Closely related to French Angelfish. 700160000000000000060 cm (23.6 in)[11]
Griffis angelfish Apolemichthys griffisi No Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Half-moon angelfish
Pomacanthus maculosus.jpg
Pomacanthus maculosus No Easy Blue with yellow splotch-like marking on side. 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)[12]
Koran angelfish
Pomacanthus semicirculatus 1.jpg
Pomacanthus semicirculatus No Moderate Grey towards the face, becoming a navy blue towards the caudal fin with striking iridescent blue accents throughout. 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)[13]
Majestic angelfish or blue girdled angelfish
1 Pomacanthus navarchus Blue-gridled angelfish.jpg
Pomacanthus navarchus No Moderate Yellow dorsal and caudal fins connecting to "saddal" with dark blue dots. Dark blue underside and anal fin. Electric blue separating yellow and dark blue. 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)[14]
Passer angelfish or King angelfish
Holacanthus passer 1.jpg
Holacanthus passer No Moderate Very dark blue with yellow caudal fin and distinctive white stripe. 700136000000000000036 cm (14.2 in)[15]
Personifer angelfish Chaetodontoplus meridithii No Moderate 700137000000000000037 cm (14.6 in)
Queen angelfish
Holacanthus ciliaris 2.jpg
Holacanthus ciliaris No Moderate Tan coloured with yellow caudal fin and neon blue outlined fins. This species has been known to reproduce with the Blue Angelfish, making a half breed that looks like a mixture between the two species. 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)[16]
Rock beauty
Holacanthus tricolor 1.jpg
Holacanthus tricolor No Difficult 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Royal angelfish
Royal angelfish Pygoplites diacanthus photo Patzner R.jpg
Pygoplites diacanthus No Expert Orange and blue striped with dark blue dorsal fin and lemon yellow caudal fin. 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)[17]
Scribbled angelfish
Chaetodontoplus duboulayi.jpg
Chaetodontoplus duboulayi No Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Japanese swallow angelfish Genicanthus semifasciatus Yes Moderate Black and tan striped back with yellow blaze beginning at the mouth and tapering off towards the centre of the side, with light blueish grey underside. Has distinctively shaped tail resembling that of a swallow. 700121000000000000021 cm (8.3 in)[18]
Yellowtail angelfish
Apolemichthys xanthurus.JPG
Apolemichthys xanthurus No Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)[19]

Angelfish (Dwarf)[edit]

A Flame angelfish

Although Dwarf Angelfish are smaller and generally more manageable than their larger counterparts, they still have some specific care requirements. They are omnivores, but plenty of vegetable matter, preferably in the form of macroalgae, should be provided for their grazing pleasure.[20] Their suitability for reef tanks is hotly debated,[2] so add at your own risk. Specimens that have been successfully maintained in reef aquaria include the Flame and Coral Beauty angels. However, for obvious reasons they should not be put into tanks with expensive decorative macroalgae.[21][22]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Barred angelfish
Centropyge multifasciata.jpg
Centropyge multifasciata With caution Difficult White fish with vertical black stripes that change to yellow at the belly 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)[23]
Bicolor angelfish
1 centropyge bicolor Bicolor angelfish.jpg
Centropyge bicolor With caution Moderate 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Brazilian flameback angelfish
Centropyge aurantonotus.JPG
Centropyge aurantonotus With caution Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Coral beauty angelfish
Centropyge bispinosa 1.jpg
Centropyge bispinosa With caution Easy to Moderate Reddish body with blue back and orange fins. A shy fish that prefers multiple hiding locations. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)[24]
Cherubfish or Pygmy angelfish
Cherub fish Centropyge argi.jpg
Centropyge argi With caution Easy To Moderate Blue colored body with an orange yellow head. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)[25]
Eibli angelfish
Centropyge eibli.jpg
Centropyge eibli With caution Moderate Tan coloured body with vertical brown stripes and large distinctive black splotch covering the back of the fish, including the caudal fin. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)[26]
Flame angelfish
Centropyge loricula.jpg
Centropyge loricula Yes Easy to Moderate Vivid orange-red with vertical black stripes and blue patches toward the end of the dorsal and anal fins. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)[27]
Half-black angelfish Centropyge vroliki With caution Difficult Anterior is gray to pearly white with orange accent around eye, posterior is deep black. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)[28]
Herald's angelfish
Centropyge heraldi.jpg
Centropyge heraldi With caution Moderate Completely lemon yellow, with a brown marking around the eye. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)[29]
Keyhole angelfish
Centropyge tibicens.jpg
Centropyge tibicens No Easy Centropyge type species. Overall black with an elongate vertical black blotch on the middle of the upper sides. When small, mainly black with a white bar. Dorsal and anal fins with submarginal blue line; most of the pelvic and the anterior portion of the anal fin yellow. Caudal fin with submarginal blue line. 700119000000000000019 cm (7.5 in)
Lemonpeel angelfish
Centropyge flavissima.JPG
Centropyge flavissima With caution Moderate Bright yellow with distinctive dark semicircle by operculum. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)[30]
Multicolor angelfish Centropyge multicolor With caution Moderate 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Orange-back angelfish
Centropyge acanthops.jpg
Centropyge acanthops With caution Moderate Dark blue with golden yellow blaze running from the face down the dorsal fin, with a colourless caudal fin. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)[31]
Pacific pygmy angelfish Centropyge flavicauda With caution Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)[32]
Potter's angelfish
Centropyge potteri Angelfish.jpg
Centropyge potteri With caution Difficult Similarly coloured to the Coral Beauty, but with a blue body and reddish fins. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)[33]
Rusty angelfish Centropyge ferrugata Yes Easy to Moderate Tan coloured body with dark spots and a reddish tint around the anal fin. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)[34]
Venustus angelfish Sumireyakko venustus With caution Moderate

Anthias[edit]

A Squareback anthias

Although Anthias resemble damsels in shape and size, the two should never be confused. Where damsels are the goats of the Saltwater world, Anthias (also called "Fairy Basslets in) are finicky and many starve to death in captivity. In the wild, they eat zooplankton, and will not accept anything but in the aquarium. They also need to be fed nearly constantly, three times a day at least. The best way to ensure the health and longevity of an Anthias is to attach a refugium where you can grow copepods to "drip" into the display tank. Unlike many other saltwater aquarium inhabitants, they can be kept in groups.[35]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Bartlett's anthias
Bartlett's anthias Pseudanthias bartlettorum.jpg
Pseudanthias bartlettorum Yes Moderate Back and face light yellow, underside pink with a swallowtail-shaped caudal fin. 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Bicolor anthias Pseudanthias bicolor Yes Difficult Similarly shaped and coloured to Bartlett's Anthias, but with a slightly more rounded back. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Cooper's anthias Pseudanthias cooperi Yes Difficult Orange back and finnage with white patch below the mouth running down toward the anal fin with pink sides. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Diadem anthias Pseudanthias parvirostris Yes Difficult Pink fish with yellow streak on top of head running along the lateral line. Caudal fin is red with yellow tips. 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Orangehead anthias Pseudanthias heemstrai Yes Difficult Pink underside with orange back and mask, dark red splotch on caudal fin, along with iridescent blue anal and pelvic fins. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Redbar anthias Pseudanthias rubrizonatus Yes Difficult Tannish-pink with a single vertical red stripe and a dorsal fin with the skin between the rays pulled back like on a lionfish. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Lyretail anthias, Sea Goldie
Juwelen-Fahnenbarsch Pseudanthias squamipinnis 0511173 Weibc.jpg
Pseudanthias squamipinnis Yes Difficult Females are orange with lyre-shaped caudal fin. Males are fuchsia with red markings on fins 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Squareback anthias
Pseudanthias pleurotaenia.jpg
Pseudanthias pleurotaenia Yes Difficult Red back and pink underside with distinctive blue square shaped marking and blue fins. 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Stocky anthias Pseudanthias hypselosoma Yes Difficult Orange back with cream colored underside. As its name suggests, slightly stockier than other Anthias. 700119000000000000019 cm (7.5 in)
Threadfin anthias
Threadfin anthias male.jpg
Pseudanthias huchtii Yes Difficult Olive green with black caudal fin and red stripe running from the eye to the pectoral fin. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)

Bass and groupers[edit]

A Blue Dot Grouper

In this exceedingly large group of fish, few are considered proper aquarium inhabitants, for various reasons including diet and size. Basses vary greatly from species to species. Appropriate research should be done before purchasing a specimen. Many unsuspecting hobbyists bring home cute little specimens of popular aquarium fish such as the lyretail grouper, only to realize several months later that they do not have the resources to care for a meter-long that may cost hundreds of dollars a month to feed.[36][37][38][39][40]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
African grouper Cephalopholis taeniops No Easy 700169000000000000069 cm (27.2 in)
Vermillion seabass
Cephalopholis miniatus.jpg
Cephalopholis miniata 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Blacktip grouper
Blacktip grouper epinephelus fasciatus.JPG
Epinephelus fasciatus No easy The tips of the spines of the dorsal fin are black, and it may have a dark red cap above the eyes. There is a variant with a uniformly pale body except for the frontal part. 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Blue and Yellow grouper Epinephelus flavocaeruleus No Moderate 700190000000000000090.0 cm (35.4 in)
Blue dot grouper
Blue-spotted.grouper.arp.jpg
Cephalopholis argus No Moderate Deep black to tan fish with blue spots throughout. 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Blue line grouper Cephalopholis formosa No Moderate Dark tan with horizontal blue stripes that are not particularly straight. The caudal fin has more of these stripes, and they radiate from the base of the fin out to the tips. 700134000000000000034 cm (13.4 in)
Chalk bass Serranus tortugarum Yes Easy to Moderate Blue iridescent body with distinctive black topside that is interrupted by small vertical blue stripes. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Coney grouper
Cephalopholis fulva02.jpg
Cephalopholis fulva No Moderate 700141000000000000041 cm (16.1 in)
Golden grouper Mycteroperca rosacea No Moderate 700186000000000000086 cm (33.9 in)
Golden stripe soapfish
Sixstriped soapfish grammistes sexlineatus.JPG
Grammistes sexlineatus No Moderate Chocolate brown with light yellow horizontal stripes. Similar in patterning to C. argus (with exception to the coloration). 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Harlequin bass Serranus tigrinus Yes Easy to Moderate Very striking black and white checkerboard pattern all over, with very long tapering nose. 700129000000000000029 cm (11.4 in)
Leaflip grouper Pogonoperca punctata No Moderate Sports a large, hinged mouth and is tan with little spots. Has brown triangle shaped markings down the spine. 700135000000000000035 cm (13.8 in)
Marine beta
Calloplesiops altivelis Comet.jpg
Calloplesiops altivelis Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)[41][42]
Miniatus grouper or Vermillion seabass
Cephalopholis miniata.jpg
Cephalopholis miniatus No Moderate Orange to red with large blue spots throughout. 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)
Orange spot grouper Cephalopholis panamensis No Easy 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Panther grouper
Panther.grouper.arp.jpg
Cromileptes altivelis No Difficult Gorgeous pure white fish with black spots and a distinctive "hump" on the head, leading to a popular common name, "Humpback Grouper". 700175000000000000075 cm (29.5 in)
Painted comber
Serranus scriba by Line1.jpg
Serranus scriba No Easy to Moderate Large fish with classic Bass body, Silvery in colour with vertical tan stripes and a blue underside. 700136000000000000036 cm (14.2 in)
Polleni grouper Cephalopholis polleni No Moderate 700143000000000000043 cm (16.9 in)
Red flag grouper Cephalopholis urodeta No Moderate Very similar to C. miniatus, but the caudal fin is dark. 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Lyretail grouper
Variola louti 1.jpg
Variola louti No Moderate Silver back changing to red around the underside, darkening toward the caudal fin, which is lyre-shaped with neon green edging. 700180000000000000080 cm (31.5 in)
Saddle grouper Plectropomus laevis No Easy 7002125000000000000125 cm (49.2 in)
Spotted grouper Epinephelus summana No Moderate Dark black fish with many light green spots all over body, increasing in number toward the posterior. 700152000000000000052 cm (20.5 in)
Strawberry grouper Cephalopholis spiloparaea No Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
V tail grouper Cephalopholis urodelus No Easy-Moderate 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)

Basslets & Assessors[edit]

A Royal Gramma

Basslets and Assessors are small, long bodied fish strongly resembling Anthias. Their care requirements, however, are closer to those of damsels. They should be kept individually, and generally not with other fish of similar shape and colour. Feeding is easy: they will generally eat any meaty foods offered. Good water quality should be maintained at all times.[43]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Black cap gramma
Black Cap Basslet.jpg
Gramma melacara Yes Moderate Purple with a black mask beginning at the mouth and ending at the base of the dorsal fin. 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Blue assesor Assessor macneilli Yes Easy to Moderate Entirely navy blue with white edging of the dorsal fin. 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Royal gramma
3757 aquaimages.jpg
Gramma loreto Yes Easy to Moderate Purple head and anterior, abruptly changing to yellow about halfway down the body. Has black marking through eye and another on the dorsal fin. Do not confuse with the Brazilian Gramma or the Bicolor Dottyback. 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Brazilian gramma Gramma brasiliensis Yes Easy to Moderate Very similar to the royal gramma, however the change from purple to yellow occurs farther down the body and the black markings are absent. 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Yellow assessor Assessor flavissimus Yes Easy to Moderate Bright lemon yellow with peach fringing of the dorsal fin and around the eye. 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)[44]

Batfish[edit]

A Dusky Batfish

Batfish are gorgeous and striking fish that are not common in aquaria for one major reason: they get huge. A two or three hundred gallon tank is needed for one, minimum, and larger is better. They start out as tiny, manageable-looking cuties, which often fools aquarists into purchasing them for their small aquariums. However they quickly grow to gargantuan proportions, and require large amounts of food as well as space, so beware. They are not reef safe and should be fed plenty of large meaty foods. Batfish change greatly as they grow, however the potential aquarist is most likely to see them in their juvenile form, so that is the description of the colouration here. They all have generally the same body shape: disk-like with tall dorsal and anal fins, similar to a Freshwater Angelfish.


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Orbiculate batfish
Platax orbicularis.jpg
Platax orbicularis No Difficult Brown with generally random black markings resembling a rotting leaf. 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Dusky batfish
Plataxpinnatus.jpg
Platax pinnatus No Difficult Dark black body completely edged by distinctive yellow and orange. 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)
Teira batfish
Platax teira 2.jpg
Platax teira No Difficult Silver with black fins and a black stripe across the face. 700170000000000000070 cm (27.6 in)

Blennies[edit]

A Lawnmower Blenny

Blennies are popular aquarium fish, and for good reason. They are peaceful, colorful, and many are downright helpful. For example, the aptly named Lawnmower Blenny will keep your green algae well trimmed and presentable. With the exception of Fang Blennies, Blennies are totally reef safe- in fact a reef environment is really best for them because they can be shy and the intricate rockwork of a reef provides ample hiding spaces. They are omnivores and should be fed a varied diet of frozen or live foods and plant matter. Blennies do not have teeth or functional jaw, so food must be small enough for them to swallow whole.
Blennies are often confused with Gobies, but there is an easy way to tell the difference. Gobies have two distinct dorsal fins, Blennies have a single dorsal fin that runs the length of their body. Also, Gobies' pelvic fins are fused to form a sucker, similar to Remoras.[45]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Spinyhead blenny
Acanthemblemaria spinosa (Spiny Headed Blenny).jpg
Acanthemblemaria spinosa Yes Moderate Brown checkered body with distinctive yellow frills on head. 70002000000000000002 cm (0.8 in)
Bicolor blenny
Bicolor blenny Ecsenius bicolor.jpg
Ecsenius bicolor Yes Easy to moderate Characterized by the striking contrast of a blue head and upper torso followed by a yellow orange lower torso. 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Black combtooth blenny Ecsenius namiyei Yes Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Blackline fang blenny Meiacanthus nigrolineatus No Easy to moderate Yellow bodied with bright blue mask and dark black line running from the eye to the caudal fin. 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Black sailfin blenny Atrosalarias fuscus Yes Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Blue & gold blenny Enchelyurus flavipes Yes Easy 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Bundoon blenny Meiacanthus bundoon No Easy to moderate Black with lighter patch over caudal fin. Very distinctive swallowtail caudal fin. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Canary fang blenny
Meiacanthus oualanensis.jpg
Meiacanthus oualanensis No Easy to moderate Similarly shaped to M. bundoon, but canary yellow. 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Diamond blenny
Malacoctenus boehlkei (Diamond Blenny).jpg
Malacoctenus boehlkei Yes Moderate Gray with black splotches, and a yellow mask. Shaped more like hawkfish than a blenny. 70006500000000000006.5 cm (2.6 in)
Ember blenny Cirripectes stigmaticus No Moderate 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Lawnmower blenny
Algae blenny.jpg
Salarias fasciatus Yes Moderate to difficult Tan and brown striped and spotted with iridescence. Requires Mature Tank. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Linear blenny Ecsenius lineatus No Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Midas blenny
Ecsenius midas001.jpg
Ecsenius midas Yes Easy to moderate Although often seen yellow, this fish has the ability to change its color to match the surroundings. It has a very distinctive swallowtail shaped caudal fin. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Molly Miller blenny
Scartella cristata 25-09-07 DSCF1035.jpg
Scartella cristata Yes Easy to moderate Mottled tan, white, and black covering the body and fins. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
One spot blenny Crossosalarias macrospilus No Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Red lip blenny
Ophioblennius atlanticus.jpg
Ophioblennius atlanticus Yes Easy to moderate Black to grayish yellow with red patch over mouth. 700119000000000000019 cm (7.5 in)
Red Sea mimic blenny
Copie de El Gouna 02.2009 971.jpg
Ecsenius gravieri Moderate Sky blue anterior fading to yellow towards the tail, with a black stripe running the eye to the base of the caudal fin. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Sailfin blenny
Sailfin Blennys Temper Flaring.jpg
Emblemaria pandionis Yes Moderate Very similar to Salarias fasciatus but slightly darker and with a much larger dorsal fin. 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Segmented sailfin blenny Salarias segmentatus Yes Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Starry blenny Salarias ramosus Yes Easy 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Striped blenny
Meiacanthus grammistes.JPG
Meiacanthus grammistes Yes Moderate 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Tail spot blenny
Ecsenius stigmatura.jpg
Ecsenius stigmatura Yes Moderate Drab tan all over with dark spot at the base of the caudal fin and a light yellow line through eye. 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Two-spot blenny Ecsenius bimaculatus Yes Moderate The top half of this fish is black towards the front and fades to white closer to the tail. The bottom half is white with two distinctive black spots right under the pectoral fins. 70004500000000000004.5 cm (1.8 in)
Convict blenny
Pholidichthys leucotaenia 1.jpg
Pholidichthys leucotaenia Yes Moderate Not actually a blenny but from closely related family Pholidichthys. Juvenile has black eel-shaped body with a distinctive white stripe running down the body. Adults are yellow and black striped. 700134000000000000034 cm (13.4 in)

Boxfish & Blowfish[edit]

A Dogface Pufferfish

Members of the family Tetraodontidae, Boxfish, Blowfish or Pufferfish and their cousins Cowfishes and Porcupinefishes can be very personable and quirky pets, for the prepared.
They are not thought of as an ordinary aquarium tank mate, but are quickly gaining popularity. They do pose a hazard in the community tank however. They are capable of releasing a very powerful toxin which can kill other fish and in some cases, the boxfish itself. They generally only use it when threatened or dying, but can become disturbed easily with aggressive tank mates or overcrowded aquarium. Generally they are reef safe, though they will pick at invertebrates if not fed well enough.
Many people think puffed up Pufferfish, like in the picture, are cute, but an owner should never subject their pet to this as they are often unable to expel the air should they be out of the water. To prevent this, never remove a puffer from the water.[46]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Golden puffer
Arothron meleagris by NPS.jpg
Arothron meleagris No Easy 700148000000000000048 cm (18.9 in)
Hawaiian blue puffer
Canthigaster papua.jpg
Canthigaster papua No Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Hawaiian saddle puffer
Canthigaster coronata.jpg
Canthigaster coronata No Easy 700114000000000000014.0 cm (5.5 in)
Hawaiian spotted puffer
Canthigaster jactator by NPS.jpg
Canthigaster jactator No Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Helmet cowfish
Humpback Turretfish - Tetrosomus gibbosus.jpg
Tetrasomus gibbosus Caution Expert Tan with dark speckles and brown spots at the base of the caudal fin. 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Immaculate puffer
Arothron immaculatus, livrée de camouflage.jpg
Arothron immaculatus No Moderate 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Longhorn cowfish
Lactoria cornuta.002 - Aquarium Finisterrae.JPG
Lactoria cornuta Caution Expert Grayish tan with very distinctive "horns" near the eyes and under the caudal fin. 700146000000000000046 cm (18.1 in)
Scribbled boxfish Ostracion solorensis Caution Moderate Dark navy blue with iridescent "scribbling" and spots. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Dogface pufferfish
Black-spotted.puffer.arp.jpg
Arothron nigropunctatus Caution Moderate Tan with a brown mask over eyes and other over mouth. Also has yellow markings on the pectoral and dorsal fins. 700133000000000000033 cm (13.0 in)
Map puffer
Arothron mappa.JPG
Arothron mappa No Moderate 700165000000000000065 cm (25.6 in)
Porcupine pufferfish
Puffed up Pufferfish.jpg
Diodon holocanthus No Moderate Tan with slightly darker spots throughout and very conspicuous spines that lay flat against the body. When puffed up, the spikes stand up and make the fish completely inedible. 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Spotfin porcupinefish
TucacasDiodonHystrix colour adjusted.jpg
Diodon hystrix No Moderate White and covered in small black spots. 700191000000000000091 cm (35.8 in)
Sharpnose pufferfish
Canthigaster rostrata.jpg
Canthigaster rostrata Caution Difficult Cream, with reddish purple topside and underside, and yellow on the caudal fin. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Star puffer
Arothron stellatus 1.jpg
Arothron stellatus No Easy 7002120000000000000120 cm (47.2 in)
Stars and stripes puffer
Arothron hispidus.jpg
Arothron hispidus No Moderate 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Striped dogface puffer
Arothron manilensis.jpg
Arothron manilensis No Moderate 700131000000000000031 cm (12.2 in)
Valentini pufferfish
Valentinni's Sharpnose Puffer.jpg
Canthigaster valentini Caution Moderate Tan with giraffe-like spots and dark brown markings that resemble saddles over the back. Has distinctive bright green eyes. 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Whitebelly puffer
Canthigaster bennetti.jpg
Canthigaster bennetti No Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Yellow boxfish
Ostracion cubicus.JPG
Ostracion cubicus Caution Expert Usually seen as a juvenile, bright yellow with little black spots. When it reaches maturity it is gray with yellow lines and pink lips. 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)

Butterflyfish[edit]

A sickle butterflyfish

Butterflyfish, when properly cared for, can make beautiful and distinctive additions to fish only marine aquariums. Often large and usually not suited for those with smaller aquariums, nor those of the faint of heart. Nevertheless, when fed a varied diet and kept in pristine conditions, Butterflyfish will usually thrive. That is, if you choose the right species. With Butterflyfish, usually a fish is going to survive, or it's not. Many species simply cannot be kept in captivity, and potential keepers must take care to only purchase those species that have a fighting chance. Also, be very picky about which specimen you choose- any sign of mishandling should be taken as a red flag.
The following species are relatively hardy and an experienced aquarist should have no trouble with them, so long as they are diligent.[47]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Copperbanded butterflyfish
Copperband Butterflyfish.jpg
Chelmon rostratus Caution Difficult Silver with black edged gold stripes, a long nose, and a black eyespot on the dorsal fin. 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Schooling bannerfish
Heniochus diphreutes by NPS.jpg
Heniochus diphreutes No Moderate Sometimes referred to as the "Poor Man's Moorish Idol" because of the resemblance to one. White and black striped with yellow caudal fin and a dorsal fin that forms a long, thin banner. 700121000000000000021 cm (8.3 in)
Longnose butterflyfish
Forcipiger flavissimus.jpg
Forcipiger flavissimus No Moderate From the pectoral fins forward, black above the eye and silver below, with an exceptionally mouth. Past the pectoral fins, bright yellow with an eyespot on the anal fin. 700122000000000000022 cm (8.7 in)
Raccoon butterflyfish
Raccoon butterflyfish.jpg
Chaetodon lunula No Moderate Very distinctive and complexly colored. Is mostly yellow with a darker saddle and a black and white mask. 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Redback butterflyfish
Bep chaetodon paucifasciatus.jpg
Chaetodon paucifasciatus No Moderate White with black stripes that form chevrons on the side and a bright red patch on the posterior. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Merten's butterflyfish
Bep chaetodon madagaskariensis.jpg
Chaetodon mertensii No Moderate White with fuzzy black stripes and a yellow posterior. Also has a black line through the eye. 700112500000000000012.5 cm (4.9 in)
Teardrop butterflyfish
Chaetodon unimaculatus 1.jpg
Chaetodon unimaculatus No Moderate Completely yellow with the exception of black stripes at the base of the caudal fin and through the eye, and an eyespot directly below the dorsal fin. 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Latticed butterflyfish
Bep chaetodon rafflesii.jpg
Chaetodon rafflesii No Moderate Very similar to C. unimaculatus, but with scales that are brighter than the body, forming a lattice-like pattern, and lacking the eyespot. 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Pacific double saddle butterflyfish
Chaetodon ulietensis.jpg
Chaetodon ulietensis No Moderate Silver with two dark saddles over the body (plus a dark mask) and yellow dorsal and caudal fins. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Sickle butterflyfish
Bep chaetodon falcula.jpg
Chaetodon falcula No Moderate Often confused with C. ulietensis, but easily distinguished. The saddles are wedge shaped rather than stripes and do not reach the underside. Overall more yellow coloring. 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Threadfin butterflyfish
Threadfin Butterflyfish.jpg
Chaetodon auriga No Moderate White anterior with thin black stripes at 45 and 120 degree angles from the head. Posterior is yellow, but with a black wedge shape where the stripes meet the yellow coloring. 700123000000000000023 cm (9.1 in)
Tinker's butterflyfish
Tinker's Butterflyfish.jpg
Chaetodon tinkeri No Moderate White with small black spots, a yellow mask, and a black dorsal fin. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Masked butterflyfish
Chaetodon semilarvatus by Konstanze Löwe.JPG
Chaetodon semilarvatus No Moderate Bright lemon yellow with subtle vertical orange stripes and a black splotch behind the eye. 700123000000000000023 cm (9.1 in)
Reef butterflyfish
BEPBS 4977.jpg
Chaetodon sedentarius Yes Moderate
Four-eyed butterflyfish
Chaetodon capistratus1.jpg
Chaetodon capistratus No Moderate
Banded butterflyfish
BEPBS 5271.jpg
Chaetodon striatus No Moderate
Saddleback butterflyfish
Chaetodon ephippium PLW edit.jpg
Chaetodon ephippium Caution Moderate

Cardinalfish[edit]

A Banggai cardinal

One of the few groups of shoaling fish commonly available to marine aquarists, Cardinalfish are nocturnal and tend to be quite shy. They require meaty foods and will often not take prepared foods such as flakes and tablets. For the best chance of success, keep a wide variety of frozen foods on hand. In the event of a hunger strike, they will almost always take adult brine shrimp. As far as other care requirements they are similar to damsels: not picky. So long as they are properly acclimated, they tolerate a wide range of parameters. A marine aqaurist should watch the ammonia/nitrite levels of the environment, as cardinalfish are particularly sensitive to these chemicals.[48]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Fragile cardinalfish Apogon fragilis Yes[49]:133 Moderate[49]:133 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Banggai cardinal
Banggai Cardinalfish Schoal Cropped.jpg
Pterapogon kauderni Yes Moderate Black and silver striped with very tall fins and many white spots. Wild populations have been decimated, consider captive bred specimens. Banggai Cardinalfish are mouthbrooders. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Blackstripe cardinalfish
Apogon nigrofasciatus2.jpg
Apogon nigrofasciatus Yes Moderate Body completely covered in horizontal yellow and black stripes, with red fins. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Bluebarred cardinalfish Apogon flores Yes[49]:133 Moderate[49]:133 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Bluestreak cardinalfish
Apogon leptacanthus.JPG
Apogon leptacanthus Yes[49]:133 Moderate[49]:133 70006500000000000006.5 cm (2.6 in)
Flamefish
Apogon maculatus.jpg
Apogon maculatus Yes Moderate Bright red with black spots at the base of the caudal fin, under the second dorsal fin, and on the operculum. 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Frostfin cardinalfish Apogon hoeveni Yes[49]:133 Moderate[49]:133 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Gilbert's cardinalfish Apogon gilberti Yes[49]:133 Moderate[49]:133 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Girdled cardinalfish Archamia zosterophora Yes[49]:133 Moderate[49]:133 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Orange-striped cardinalfish
Apogon cyanosoma 1.jpg
Apogon cyanosoma Yes Moderate A thin, dark vertical 'waistband' with scattered dark spots toward the tail. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Orbic cardinalfish
Sphaeramia orbicularis-Orbic Cardinal.jpg
Sphaeramia orbicularis Yes Easy Light yellow with iridescent yellow horizontal stripes. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Pajama cardinalfish
Pajama cardinalfish, Boston Aquarium.jpg
Sphaeramia nematoptera Yes, caution with small shrimp[49]:132 Easy[49]:132 This fish displays three distinct color bands: the first, stretching from the nose to base of the first dorsal fin, is a tannish peach. The second, a thin band which runs down the center of the fish, is chocolate brown, and the posterior of the fish is white with brown spots. 70008500000000000008.5 cm (3.3 in)
Ochre-striped cardinalfish Apogon compressus Yes Moderate Almost identical to A. nigrofasticus, but with blue eyes. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Ringtailed cardinalfish
Apogon aureus.jpg
Apogon aureus Yes Moderate Yellow body with a black stripe (ring) at the base of the caudal fin and iridescent blue streaks across the eye. 700114500000000000014.5 cm (5.7 in)

Chromis[edit]

A Chromis viridis

Chromis are perhaps the ultimate reef fish. Generally peaceful, most species are easy to take care of and quite colorful. Like anthias, they will school, but in many cases this tendency disappears as they age. They are, nevertheless, at least ambivalent with their own species, as well as completely reef safe. Like Damsels and Anemonefish, their close cousins, Chromis are omnivores and will accept most foods offered. A flake staple is usually sufficient, but for best color and health supplement with frozen and live foods when possible.[50]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Ambon chromis Chromis amboinensis Yes[49]:192 Moderate[49]:192 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Barrier reef chromis
Chromis nitida.jpg
Chromis nitida Yes Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Black and gold chromis
Neoglyphidodon nigroris - Behn's damsel.jpg
Neoglyphidodon nigroris Yes Difficult Mostly silver, but with a large patch of yellow around the caudal fin and a distinct black line on the operculum. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Half and half chromis Chromis iomelas Yes[49]:190 Moderate[49]:190 Completely black from the middle of the dorsal fin to the nose, completely white from the middle of the dorsal fin to the end of the caudal fin. 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Black bar chromis Chromis retrofasciata Yes[49]:191 Easy[49]:191 Yellowish with bright blue iridescent pelvic fins and a distinct black bar at the base of the caudal fin. 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in).
Blue chromis
Chromis cyanea.jpg
Chromis cyanea Yes[49]:188 Moderate[49]:188 Bright blue all over, although lighter toward the front. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Damselfish
Chromis chromis 2.jpg
Chromis chromis Yes Easy Completely black. Despite the name, this is actually a chromis, in fact, it is the chromis. 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Green chromis
Chromis chromis.jpg
Chromis viridis Yes Easy Generally bluish green, but some specimens may be spring green. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Limbaughi chromis Chromis limbaughi Yes Moderate Dark navy blue with bright yellow spot that covers the dorsal fin and much of the posterior. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Lined chromis Chromis lineata Yes[49]:192 Moderate[49]:192 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Paletail chromis Chromis xanthura Yes[49]:192 Moderate[49]:192 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Black-axil chromis
Chromis atripectoralis2.jog.jpg
Chromis atripectoralis Yes Easy
Spiny chromis Acanthochromis polyacanthus Yes Easy Dark chocolate brown, slightly lighter around the pectoral fins. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Sunshine chromis Chromis insolatus Yes[49]:189 Moderate[49]:189 Rather drab tannish-orange throughout. 700116000000000000016 cm (6.3 in)
Yellowspotted chromis Chromis flavomaculata Yes[49]:192 Moderate[49]:192 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)

Clownfish[edit]

A false percula

Clownfish, more technically known as Anemonefish, are the classic aquarium fish. Both hardy and attractive, they are perhaps best known for their symbiotic relationship with Sea Anemones, a relative of coral. In the wild, Anemonefish are always found with a host, leading many potential keepers to believe that an anemone is necessary to keep them. Anemonefish are easy to keep, but their cnidarian counterparts are inordinately finicky and need high light levels, and luckily Anemonefish will thrive without them. Aquarists often find that Anemonefish will host in other things, from corals and Feather Duster Worms to powerheads and other equipment. Anemonefish care is identical to that of Damselfish, as they are actually very closely related.[51][52]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Cinnamon anemonefish
Amphiprion melanopus in Entacmaea quadricolor.jpg
Amphiprion melanopus Yes Easy to moderate Dark orange body becoming black towards the caudal fin, with a bright white stripe running from the front of the dorsal fin to the pectoral fins and golden colored fins. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Clarkii anemonefish
Amphiprion clarkii.jpg
Amphiprion clarkii Yes Easy to moderate Black or dark brown with bright yellow finnage and two thick white stripes running perpendicular to the body. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Ocellaris
Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris).jpg
Amphiprion ocellaris Yes Easy Bright orange or yellow body with white stripes. Fins are orange, rimmed with black. A. ocellaris from northern Australia are black. 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Maroon clownfish
Premnas biaculeatus juvenile.jpg
Premnas biaculeatus Yes but aggressive Easy Maroon to bright red with three very thin white stripes. 700117000000000000017 cm (6.7 in)
True Percula
Amphiprion percula.JPG
Amphiprion percula Yes Easy Nearly identical to A. ocellaris, but the white stripes are edged with black. 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Pink skunk anemonefish
Amphiprion perideraion.jpg
Amphiprion perideraion Yes Moderate Pink to orange body with one white stripe over the operculum and another running from the tip of the snout, along the back to the dorsal fin. All fins are white. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Tomato clownfish
Tomato clownfish Amphiprion frenatus.jpg
Amphiprion frenatus Yes Easy Bright red with a single white stripe running from the front of the dorsal fin to the bottom of the head. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Saddleback anemonefish
Amphiprion Species.JPG
Amphiprion polymnus Yes Moderate Similar to A. ocellaris and percula, but the second stripe does not extend the full with of the body and instead resembles a saddle. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Sebae anemonefish
Clownfish-mileswu.jpg
Amphiprion sebae Yes Moderate Black or dark brown body from above the pectoral fin, yellow below. Has two white stripes, the second resembling that of A. polymnus. 700116000000000000016 cm (6.3 in)

Damsels[edit]

Blue and gold damsel

All Damselfish can be considered reef-safe, sometimes excluding larger, more aggressive Dascyllus varieties. Some Damselfish will host in anemones like clownfish. Most Damselfish are aggressive and difficult to catch once you put them in an aquarium.

Damselfish change gender as they grow larger and older. Small damselfish are ungendered. Eventually, they become males if no males prevent them from doing so. One or sometimes two males live with a female and guard over the eggs. Females are the largest fish and dominant over the males and juveniles. They will not allow other females into an area they have claimed as their territory without a fight. They may not allow new males or juveniles, either. Aggression increases with each change.[51][53][54]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Ambon damsel
Pomacentrus amboinensis.jpg
Pomacentrus amboinensis Yes[49]:216 Easy[49]:216 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Azure damsel
Crysiptera hemicyanea.jpg
Chrysiptera hemicyanea Yes Easy A beautiful fish with neon blue on its body and a gold underside and caudal fin. Easy to care for and does best on a good diet. Fairly aggressive so choose tankmates carefully. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Black and gold damsel
Neoglyphidodon nigroris.jpg
Neoglyphidodon nigroris Yes Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Blackmargined damsel Pomacentrus nigromarginatus Yes[49]:216 Easy[49]:216 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Blue damsel, Orangetail damsel
Chrysipteracyanea2.JPG
Chrysiptera cyanea Yes Easy An orange tail indicates breeding success. The males have orange on their tails while the females do not. This fish is hardy and aggressive. 70008500000000000008.5 cm (3.3 in)
Blue and gold damsel
Neon damselfish.jpg
Pomacentrus coelestis Yes[49]:215 Easy[49]:215 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Blue velvet damsel
Neoglyphidodon oxyodon.1 - Aquarium Finisterrae.JPG
Paraglyphidodon oxyodon Yes 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Blueback damsel Pomacentrus simsiang Yes[49]:216 Easy[49]:216 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Blueline demoiselle, Yellowfin demoiselle Chrysiptera caeruleolineata Yes[49]:202 Easy[49]:202 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Bluefin damsel
Neoglyphidodon melas.jpg
Neoglyphidodon melas Yes Easy 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Caerulean damsel
Pomacentrus caeruleus.jpg
Pomacentrus caeruleus Yes[49]:215 Easy[49]:215 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Canary deep water damsel Chrysiptera galba Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Cloudy damsel Dascyllus carneus Yes Easy 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Cross' damsel Neoglyphidodon crossi Yes[49]:202 Easy[49]:202 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Domino damsel
Dascyllus trimaculatus.JPG
Dascyllus trimaculatus Yes Easy also known as the three spot damsel, this fish is easy to care for, but is also very aggressive. The fish is black except for three distinct white spots that fade as the fish ages. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Fiji blue devil damsel
Chrysiptera taupou.jpg
Chrysiptera taupou Yes Easy This striking blue damsel is one of the most popular beginner fish. Like other damsels, it is very hardy, and very aggressive when mature. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Four stripe damsel
Dascyllus melanurus 1.jpg
Dascyllus melanurus Yes Easy The four stripe damsel is a perfect beginner marine fish as it is very hardy. This fish is highly territorial and is best suited for a semi-aggressive to aggressive tank. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Garibaldi damsel
Hypsypops rubicundus adult.jpg
Hypsypops rubicunda Yes Easy to Moderate These are temperate fish and require cooler water. They are much larger than most other damsels. 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Honey head damsel Dischistodus prosopotaenia Yes Difficult 700117000000000000017 cm (6.7 in)
Hawaiian Dascyllus
Dascyllus albisella 2.jpg
Dascyllus albisella Yes Easy 700112500000000000012.5 cm (4.9 in)
Jewel damsel
Microspathodon chrysurus.jpg
Microspathodon chrysurus Yes Easy Among the largest and most aggressive Damsels 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
King demoiselle
Chrysiptera rex - Zoo Frankfurt.jpg
Chrysiptera rex Yes[49]:198 Easy[49]:198 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Lemon damsel
Pomacentrus moluccensis 1.jpg
Pomacentrus moluccensis Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Longfin gregory
Does nature's pallete....jpg
Stegastes diencaeus Caution[49]:216 Easy[49]:216 Turns brown, and becomes highly territorial as it ages 700112500000000000012.5 cm (4.9 in)
Marginated damsel
Dascyllus marginatus (Rüppell, 1829).png
Dascyllus marginatus Yes Easy The marginated damsel is noted for blue fins as well as the yellow head and white body. This fish is hardy like most damsels and is also highly aggressive when mature. 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Neon damsel Pomacentrus alleni Yes 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Ocellate damsel
Pomacentrus vaiuli.jpg
Pomacentrus vaiuli Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Pavo damsel
Pomacentrus pavo.jpg
Pomacentrus pavo Yes[49]:215 Easy[49]:215 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Pink Smith damsel
Pomacentrus smithi1.jpg
Pomacentrus smithi Yes Easy 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Rolland's demoiselle Chrysiptera rollandi Yes[49]:202 Easy[49]:202 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Sergeant major damsel
Abudefduf saxatilis.jpg
Abudefduf saxatilis Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Speckled damsel Pomacentrus bankanensis Yes[49]:216 Easy[49]:216 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Springer's damsel
Chrysiptera springeri.jpg
Chrysiptera springeri Yes Easy 70005500000000000005.5 cm (2.2 in)
Stark's damsel Chrysiptera starcki Yes Easy 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Talbots damsel Chrysiptera talboti Yes Moderate This damselfish is somewhat a little more delicate than other. It does best in small groups in large tanks with good water quality and an SG of 1.026. Feed on a good diet for best results. Fairly peaceful. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Three stripe damsel
Dascyllus aruanus 3.jpg
Dascyllus aruanus Yes Easy Highly aggressive and territorial. Will harass fish many times its size. Best kept in an aggressive/semi-aggressive tank. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Three Spot damsel Stegastes planifrons Yes Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Tuxedo damsel Chrysiptera tricincta Yes 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Two stripe damsel
Dascyllus reticulatus (Reticulated dascyllus) in Acropora loripa (Hard coral).jpg
Dascyllus reticulatus Yes Easy the two stripe damsel is a very hardy fish. This fish is perfect for the beginner marine aquarist, as it can tolerate substandard water quality. This fish is highly aggressive, and requires many hiding places. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Yellow damsel
Monaco.Musée océanographique026.jpg
Amblyglyphidodon aureus Yes 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Yellow threespot Dascyllus Dascyllus auripinnis Yes[49]:205 Easy[49]:205 700114500000000000014.5 cm (5.7 in)
Yellowbelly damsel
Pomacentrus auriventris1.jpg
Pomacentrus auriventris Yes Easy 70005500000000000005.5 cm (2.2 in)
Yellowtail Dascyllus
Dascyllus flavicaudus.jpg
Dascyllus flavicaudus Yes 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Yellowtail damsel
Chrysiptera parasema.JPG
Chrysiptera parasema Yes Easy The yellowtail damsel possess an all blue body with a striking yellow tail. This damsel is a good beginner fish as it is very hardy and can tolerate substandard water quality. This damsel is also less aggressive than some other damsel species. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Yellowtail demoiselle
Neopomacentrus azysron.jpg
Neopomacentrus azysron Yes Easy 70007500000000000007.5 cm (3.0 in)

Dartfish[edit]

A Purple Fire Fish

Most should be kept as pairs or small groups where all individuals are added at once.[55][56]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Blue gudgeon dartfish Ptereleotris hanae Yes Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Fire fish
Nemateleotris magnifica2.jpg
Nemateleotris magnifica Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Purple fire fish
Nemateleotris decora.jpg
Nemateleotris decora Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Scissortail dartfish
Blackfin Dart Gobies in front of their hole.jpg
Ptereleotris evides Yes Easy 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Zebra barred dartfish
Ptereleotris zebra.jpg
Ptereleotris zebra Yes Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)

Dragonets[edit]

Dragonets are often mis-categorized as gobies or blennies by fish sellers. They are bottom-dwelling fish that constantly hunt tiny invertebrates for food. Most starve to death in a marine aquarium unless you provide a refugium or place for the invertebrates to reproduce safely without any fish being able to reach them.[57][58]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Mandarinfish
Synchiropus splendidus 2 Luc Viatour.jpg
Synchiropus splendidus Yes Difficult; attach a refugium to the tank A brightly colored member of the dragonet family. Eats only copepods and will die in captivity without an adequate supply, which can only be had in very large, well established reef tanks 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)[59]
Starry Dragonet Synchiropus stellatus Yes Moderate; attach a refugium to the tank Also known as Red Scooter Blenny though not a true blenny. Will often only eat live copepods and amphipods. 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Ocellated Dragonet
Scooter blenny - by BJ Beggerly.jpg
Synchiropus ocellatus Yes Moderate; attach a refugium to the tank Also known as Scooter Blenny though not a true blenny. Will often only eat live copepods and amphipods. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Spotted mandarin
Synchiropus picturatus.jpg
Synchiropus picturatus Yes Difficult; attach a refugium to the tank Often only eats live copepods and amphipods. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)

Eels[edit]

A tessalata eel

Most eels are easily kept in a large aquarium, although several species such as the blue ribbon eel should usually be avoided. With any moray eel care must be taken to secure the lid as one of the most common causes of death is escaping from the tank, and onto the floor.[60][61]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Banded snake eel
Banded snake eel Nick Hobgood.jpg
Myrichthys colubrinus No Easy 700197000000000000097 cm (38.2 in)
Banded eel
Ecpol u0.gif
Echidna polyzona No Intermediate 700169000000000000069 cm (27.2 in)
Black edge moray eel
Gymnothorax saxicola.jpg
Gymnothorax saxicola No Moderate 700160000000000000060 cm (23.6 in)
Blue ribbon eel, black ribbon eel
Ribbon eel.jpg
Rhinomuraena quaesita No Difficult 7002130000000000000130 cm (51.2 in)
Chainlink moray eel Echidna catenata No Easy Can be kept with fish too small to swallow 7002165000000000000165 cm (65.0 in)
Dragon moray eel
ToraUB.jpg
Enchelycore pardalis No Easy A fish eater that will eat anything it can fit in its mouth. When available is typically quite expensive[62] 700192000000000000092 cm (36.2 in)
Golden dwarf eel Gymnothorax melatremus Yes Moderate Rarely available, among the smallest of the moray eels 700126000000000000026 cm (10.2 in)
Golden moray eel
Moray eel and fish.JPG
Gymnothorax miliaris May eat fish and shrimp Easy to moderate These fish should only be kept in fish-only tanks as any small invertebrates will be looked on as food. Keep with fish large enough not to be eaten. Feed on a diet of whitefish, cockles, cod roe, haddock and frozen foods. 700170000000000000070.0 cm (27.6 in)
Green moray eel
Muraene.jpg
Gymnothorax funebris No Difficult Requires a 180 gallon tank with tight fitting lid. Compatible with rays, sharks, and other large fish. 7002250000000000000250 cm (98.4 in)
Jeweled moray eel
Muraena lentiginosa.jpg
Muraena lentiginosa No Easy 700161000000000000061 cm (24.0 in)
Kidako moray eel
Kidako moray.JPG
Gymnothorax kidako No Easy 700191000000000000091 cm (35.8 in)
Peppered moray
Gymnothorax pictus.jpg
Gymnothorax picta No Moderate 7002135000000000000135 cm (53.1 in)
Snowflake eel
Snowflake moray in kona close up.jpg
Echidna nebulosa May eat shrimp if underfed Easy A pebble-tooth moray that generally eats crustaceans and similar. Safer in reef aquariums than other species but be prepared to remove it in case it starts to eat desired invertebrates. 7002100000000000000100 cm (39.4 in)
Spotted garden-eel
Heteroconger at Shedd Aquarium.jpg
Taenioconger hassi With Caution Difficult Rarely available, best avoided by inexperienced aquarists 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Spotted Snake eel
Myrichthys maculosus.JPG
Myrichthys maculosus No Moderate Requires at least six in of substrate 7002100000000000000100 cm (39.4 in)
Tessalata eel, or laced moray
Gymnothorax favagineus 2.jpg
Gymnothorax favagineus No Easy 7002300000000000000300 cm (118.1 in)
Yellowhead moray eel
Gymnothorax fimbriatus.JPG
Gymnothorax fimbriatus No Easy 700180000000000000080 cm (31.5 in)
Yellow mouth moray eel
Gymnothorax nudivomer.jpg
Gymnothorax nudivomer No Intermediate 7002178000000000000178 cm (70.1 in)
Whitemouth moray eel
Gymnothorax meleagris.jpg
Gymnothorax meleagris With Caution Intermediate 7002120000000000000120 cm (47.2 in)
Carpet eel-blenny Congrogadus subducens No Easy Actually a Dottyback, but has the body shape of an eel. 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)
Zebra moray
Gymnomuraena zebra by NPS.jpg
Gymnomuraena zebra No Easy One of the easier moray eels to keep, is usually safe with most fish but will eat most invertebrates. 7002150000000000000150 cm (59.1 in)

Filefish[edit]

An Orangespotted Filefish

Less often kept than their relatives the Triggerfish and Puffers there are many filefish that make good aquarium residents, and a few that require specialized diets making it hard to sustain them in an aquarium.[63][64]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Clown filefish
Cantherhines dumerili.jpg
Cantherhines dumerili Caution Easy 700138000000000000038 cm (15.0 in)
Colored filefish Pervagor melanocephalus Caution Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Fantail orange filefish Pervagor spilosoma No Easy 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Horseshoe filefish Meuschenia hippocrepis No Intermediate 700151000000000000051 cm (20.1 in)
Jade filefish Paramonacanthus japonicus No Intermediate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Mimic filefish
Paraluteres prionurus.JPG
Paraluteres prionurus No Intermediate 700111000000000000011 cm (4.3 in)
Orangespotted filefish
Oxymonacanthus longirostris 1.jpg
Oxymonacanthus longirostris No Expert 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Tassle filefish
Chaetodermis penicilligerus.2 - Aquarium Finisterrae.JPG
Chaetodermis penicilligerus Caution Easy 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)

Foxface[edit]

See Rabbitfish

Flatfish[edit]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Peacock flounder
Bothus lunatus.jpg
Bothus lunatus No Moderate 700146000000000000046 cm (18.1 in)
Flowery (Indo-Pacific peacock) flounder
Bothidae - Bothus mancus.jpg
Bothus mancus with caution Moderate 700145000000000000045 cm (17.7 in)
Banded sole
Blue Edged Sole - Soleichthys heterorhinos.jpg
Soleichthys heterorhinos Will eat shrimp and other invertebrates, will not harm coral[49]:413 Moderate[49]:413 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)

Frogfish[edit]

A Giant Anglerfish

A type of Anglerfish, Frogfish are ambush predators with huge mouths. They are capable of eating fish up to twice their length so care should be taken in choosing tank mates.[65]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Longlure frogfish
6903 aquaimages.jpg
Antennarius multiocellatus No Difficult
Giant anglerfish
Commerson's Frogfish, Kona, Hawaii.jpg
Antennarius commerson No Intermediate 700138000000000000038 cm (15.0 in)
Sargassum frogfish
Sargassumfish.jpg
Histrio histrio No Difficult 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Striated frogfish
Antennarius striatus2.JPG
Antennarius striatus No Moderate 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Wartskin frogfish
Clown frogfish.jpg
Antennarius maculatus No Moderate Has the ability to change color to match its surrounding. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)

Goatfish[edit]

A Yellow Goatfish

While not as common a choice for aquariums as many other species, they are typically hardy and brightly colored[66]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Bicolor goatfish Parupeneus barberinoides With Caution Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Goldsaddle goatfish
Parupeneus cyclostomos.jpg
Parupeneus cyclostomus With Caution Difficult 700151000000000000051 cm (20.1 in)
Manybar goatfish
Parupeneus multifasciatus.jpg
Parupeneus multifasciatus With Caution Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Yellow back goatfish
Parupeneus barberinus.JPG
Parupeneus barberinus With Caution Easy 700141000000000000041 cm (16.1 in)

Gobies[edit]

Typically are hardy and do not harm invertebrates which makes them a good choice of fish for a reef tank.[67][68]

A Hi Fin Red Banded goby


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Black barred convict goby Priolepis nocturna Yes Easy 70004000000000000004 cm (1.6 in)
Black clown goby Gobiodon acicularis Mostly; can destroy unhealthy Acropora by laying its eggs in the coral's tissue Moderate Similar to Yellow clown goby, but black
Bluespotted watchman goby Cryptocentrus pavoninoides Yes Easy 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Catalina goby
Bluebanded Gobies.jpg
Lythrypnus dalli Yes Moderate A cold water species 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Cave transparent goby Coryphopterus glaucofraenum Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Citron clown goby
Lemon Goby.jpg
Gobiodon citrinus Mostly; can destroy unhealthy Acropora by laying its eggs in the coral's tissue Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Court jester goby
Rainfordi.jpg
Amblygobius rainfordi Easy 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Diagonal bar prawn goby Amblyeleotris diagonalis Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Diamond watchman goby
Valenciennea puellaris.jpg
Valenciennea puellaris Yes Easy "Sleeper gobies"; burrow and sift sand constantly; very good algae eaters 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Dracula goby Stonogobiops dracula Yes Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Engineer goby
Pholidichthys leucotaenia 1.jpg
Pholidichthys leucotaenia Yes Easy to Moderate Not actually a goby but from closely related family Pholidichthys. Small burrowing goby but they can get large.
Gold neon eviota goby Eviota pellucida Yes Easy 70003000000000000003 cm (1.2 in)
Green banded goby Elacatinus multifasciatus Yes Moderate Small burrowing goby with green vertical stripes 70003500000000000003.5 cm (1.4 in)
Green clown goby Gobiodon atrangulatus Yes Easy 70004000000000000004 cm (1.6 in)
Hector's goby Amblygobius hectori Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Hi fin red banded goby
Black-ray goby.jpg
Stonogobiops nematodes Yes Easy 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Neon goby
Elacatinus evelynae.jpg
Elacatinus oceanops Yes Easy A Caribbean cleaner species that sometimes eats larger parasites from other fish.
Orange marked goby Amblygobius decussatus Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Orange spotted goby
Amblyeleotris guttata-Orange Spotted Goby.jpg
Amblyeleotris guttata Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Orange stripe prawn goby
Amblyeleotris randalli.jpg
Amblyeleotris randalli Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Pinkspotted shrimp goby
Gobius melanopus - 1.jpg
Gobius melanopus May eat ornamental shrimp Easy White fish with pink bands around the body and pink spots on face and fins. One of the most handsome members of the group. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Pinkbar goby Cryptocentrus aurora Yes Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Red head goby
Elacatinus puncticulatus.JPG
Elacatinus puncticulatus Yes Easy A small goby that can clean like the neon goby but is easily frightened. Often said to 'disappear' in a larger tank, as it never swims out into view. 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Red striped goby Trimma cana Yes Easy 70003000000000000003 cm (1.2 in)
Sleeper banded goby
Amblygobius phalaena.jpg
Amblygobius phalaena Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Sleeper blue dot goby
Valenciennea sexguttata-6 Spot Sleeper Goby.jpg
Valenciennea sexguttata Yes Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Sleeper gold head goby
Valenciennea strigata.jpg
Valenciennea strigata Yes Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Sleeper railway glider goby Valenciennea helsdingeni Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Sleeper striped goby Valenciennea longipinnis Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Steinitz goby
Amblyeleotris steinitzi.jpg
Amblyeleotris steinitzi Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Tangaroa goby
Ctenogobiops tangaroai.JPG
Ctenogobiops tangaroai Yes Easy 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Tiger watchman goby Valenciennea wardii Yes Easy 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Two spot goby
Signigobius biocellatus.jpg
Signigobius biocellatus Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Violet goby
Dragon Goby.jpg
Gobioides broussonnetii No Moderate Also a freshwater and brackish water fish and often sold as Dragon Fish or Dragon Goby 21"
Wheeler's watchman goby
Wheeler's Goby.jpg
Amblyeleotris wheeleri Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Yellow watchman goby
Cryptocentrus cinctus.JPG
Cryptocentrus cinctus Yes Moderate A species of "watchman" or "shrimp" goby that can form a symbiotic relationship with pistol shrimp 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Yasha goby
Stonogobiops yasha-Yasha Goby.jpg
Stonogobiops yasha Yes A species of "watchman" or "shrimp" goby that will form a symbiotic relationship with the red and white banded pistol shrimp, Alpheus randalli. 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Yellow clown goby
Yellow clown goby.jpg
Gobiodon okinawae Yes Moderate Small yellow fish that likes branching corals 70003500000000000003.5 cm (1.4 in)
Yellow priolepis goby Priolepis aureoviridis Yes Easy 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Yellow stripe clingfish Diademichthys lineatus Yes Easy 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)

Grunts[edit]

Spotted Sweetlips


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Crescent banded grunt
XRF-Terapon jarbua.jpg
Terapon jarbua No Easy
Dogfish prientalis Plectorhinchus lineatus No Expert 700186000000000000086 cm (33.9 in)
Oriental sweetlips
Plectorhinchus orientalis by NPS.jpg
Plectorhinchus orientalis No Expert 700184000000000000084 cm (33.1 in)
Painted sweetlips
Plectorhinchus picus.jpg
Plectorhinchus picus No Expert 700184000000000000084 cm (33.1 in)
Porkfish
Anisotremus virginicus photo.jpg
Anisotremus virginicus No Intermediate 700141000000000000041 cm (16.1 in)
Spotted sweetlips
Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides.JPG
Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides No Expert 700174000000000000074 cm (29.1 in)
Striped sweetlips Plectorhinchus diagrammus No Expert 700151000000000000051 cm (20.1 in)
Twostriped sweetlips Plectorhinchus albovittatus No Intermediate 700199000000000000099 cm (39.0 in)

Hamlet[edit]

A Blue Hamlet


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Barred hamlet
Hypoplectrus puella.jpg
Hypoplectrus puella No Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Black hamlet Hypoplectrus nigricans No Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Blue hamlet
Blue Hamlet.jpg
Hypoplectrus gemma Not with shrimp Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Butter hamlet
Butterhamlet1.jpg
Hypoplectrus unicolor Not with shrimp Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Golden hamlet Hypoplectrus gummigutta Not with shrimp Easy
Indigo hamlet
Indigo Hamlet.JPG
Hypoplectrus indigo 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Shy hamlet
Shy Hamlet.jpg
Hypoplectrus guttavarius Not with shrimp Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)

Hawkfish[edit]

A spotted hawkfish

Attractive and relatively small, Hawkfish make excellent additions to fish only or FOWLR aquariums. With extreme caution taken, they could be kept in reef aquariums, but because of their propensity to eat small ornamental shrimps and other mobile invertebrates (usually leaving sessile invertebrates alone) they are not considered reef safe. Lacking a swim bladder, Hawkfish can often be found resting in crevices of rocks or among the branches of corals or gorgonians. Hawkfish are easy to care for and not picky at all about water quality. A varied diet, including spirulina and small meaty foods like Mysis is recommended.[69]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Arc eye hawkfish
Arc-Eye Hawkfish.jpg
Paracirrhites arcatus Caution; will eat shrimp[49]:127 Easy[49]:127 Brown to yellow body with reddish dorsal fin, distinctive white caudal fin, and small semicircular marking behind eye. 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Blood red hawkfish Cirrhitichthys fasciatus Caution; will eat shrimp[49]:123 Easy[49]:123 700112700000000000012.7 cm (5.0 in)
Coral hawkfish
Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus 1.jpg
Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:122 Easy[49]:122 70008500000000000008.5 cm (3.3 in)
Falco's hawkfish
Dwarfhawkfish.jpg
Cirrhitichthys falco Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:122 Easy[49]:122 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)
Flame hawkfish Neocirrhitus armatus Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:125 Easy[49]:125 Striking red body with black on fin tips and yellow lips. 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Freckled hawkfish
Paracirrhites forsteri 3.jpg
Paracirrhites forsteri Caution; will eat shrimp[49]:128 Easy[49]:128 700122500000000000022.5 cm (8.9 in)
Golden hawkfish Paracirrhites xanthus Caution; will eat shrimp[49]:128 Easy[49]:128 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Longnose hawkfish
Long-nose Hawkfish.jpg
Oxycirrhites typus Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:126 Easy[49]:126 White with red lattice-like markings resembling a grid. Nose is elongated and tissue between the spines of the dorsal fin is missing. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Lyretail hawkfish Cirrhitichthys polyactis Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:124 Easy[49]:124 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Redspotted hawkfish Amblycirrhitus pinos Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:120 Easy[49]:120 70009500000000000009.5 cm (3.7 in)
Spotted hawkfish
Cirrhitichthys aprinus.JPG
Cirrhitichthys aprinus Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:122 Easy[49]:122 Bright red with distinctive diamond shaped markings down back, becoming darker towards the topside of body. 700112500000000000012.5 cm (4.9 in)
Whitespot hawkfish Paracirrhites hemistictus Caution; will eat shrimp[49]:128 Easy[49]:128 700129000000000000029 cm (11.4 in)
Yellow hawkfish
Cirrhitichthys aureus by OpenCage.jpg
Cirrhitichthys aureus Caution; may eat small shrimp[49]:122 Easy[49]:122 70007000000000000007 cm (2.8 in)

Hogfish[edit]

A Spanish Hogfish


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Coral hogfish
Splitlevel hogfish001.jpg
Bodianus mesothorax No Moderate 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Cuban hogfish
Spotfin Hogfish.jpg
Bodianus pulchellus Caution Easy 700128500000000000028.5 cm (11.2 in)
Hawaiian hogfish
Bodianus bilunulatus by NPS.jpg
Bodianus bilunulatus Caution Easy 700155000000000000055 cm (21.7 in)
Red diana hogfish Bodianus diana No Moderate 700160000000000000060 cm (23.6 in)
Spanish wierdfish
Spanish-hogfish.jpg
Bodianus rufus No Moderate 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Twin spot hogfish
Bodianus cf. bimaculatus.jpg
Bodianus bimaculatus No Easy 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)

Jacks[edit]

A Threadfin Lookdown


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Golden pilotfish
Gnathanodon speciosus 2.jpg
Gnathanodon speciosus No Difficult
Indian threadfin
Indian threadfin (Alectis indicus).jpg
Alectis indicus No Difficult 7002165000000000000165 cm (65.0 in)
Threadfin lookdown
Selene vomer 1.jpg
Selene vomer No Difficult 700148000000000000048 cm (18.9 in)

Jawfish[edit]

A Yellowhead jawfish

Jawfish are burrowers and require a sandy substrate of sufficient depth.[70]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Black cap jawfish Opistognathus lonchurus Almost always Moderate Requires a 30 gallon tank and 3 inches (7.6 cm) substrate. Tank should remain tightly lidded. May eat small shrimp. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Blue dot jawfish Opistognathus rosenblatti Yes Moderate 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Dusky jawfish Opistognathus whitehurstii Yes Moderate Requires a 30 gallon tank and 3 inches (7.6 cm) sand substrate. Tank should remain tightly lidded. 700114000000000000014 cm (5.5 in)
Yellowhead jawfish
Opistognathus aurifrons.jpg
Opistognathus aurifrons Yes Moderate Requires a 30 gallon tank and 5–7 inches (13–18 cm) soft substrate. Tank should remain tightly lidded. 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)

Lionfish[edit]

A radiata lionfish

"Lionfish" specifically refer to the genus Pterois within the family Scorpaenidae. They have venomous spines and should be treated with caution.[71] Other species within Scorpaenidae but outside Pterois may also have "lionfish" in their common names. Feeder goldfish are not the proper nutrition for a lion fish.


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Antenneta lionfish
Pterois antennata 1.jpg
Pterois antennata Caution Moderate 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Blackfoot lionfish
SetoMKhire.jpg
Parapterois heterura Caution Easy 700123000000000000023.0 cm (9.1 in)
Devil lionfish Pterois mombasae Caution Moderate 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Fu Man Chu lionfish
Dendrochirus biocellatus1.JPG
Dendrochirus biocellatus Caution Difficult 700113000000000000013.0 cm (5.1 in)[72]
Fuzzy dwarf lionfish
Dendrochirus brachypterus.jpg
Dendrochirus brachypterus Caution Moderate Carnivore; Males 6< stripes on pectoral fin femals >6 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Green lionfish Dendrochirus barberi Caution Easy 700116500000000000016.5 cm (6.5 in)
Radiata lionfish
Clearfin Lionfish.jpg
Pterois radiata Moderate 700124000000000000024 cm (9.4 in)
Russell's lionfish Pterois russelli Easy to moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Volitan lionfish
Red Lionfish Pterois volitans Left Side 2460px.jpg
Pterois volitans Caution Easy to moderate Semi-aggressive; carnivore 700143000000000000043 cm (16.9 in)
Zebra lionfish
Pterois zebra.JPG
Dendrochirus zebra Caution Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)

Parrotfish[edit]

A Princess Parrotfish


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Bicolor parrotfish
Bicolor parrotfish.JPG
Cetoscarus bicolor Yes Expert 700176000000000000076 cm (29.9 in)
Princess parrotfish
Princess-parrotfish.png
Scarus taeniopterus Yes Expert 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)

Pipefish[edit]

A Dragonface Pipefish

Pipefish are relatives of seahorses and require a similar level of care. They should only be bought by experienced aquarium owners. Captive bred specimens are sometimes available, and are significantly more likely to survive.[73]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Banded pipefish
Broadbanded Pipefish.jpg
Doryrhamphus dactyliophorus Yes Expert 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Dragonface pipefish
PipeFish.jpg
Corythoichthys haematopterus Yes Difficult align="center" 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Janss' pipefish Doryrhamphus janssi Yes Expert 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Yellow multibanded pipefish
Banded Pipefish - Doryrhamphus pessuliferus.jpg
Doryrhamphus pessuliferus Yes Expert 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)

Pseudochromis[edit]

A Fridmani pseudochromis

Usually only a single specimen can be kept in an aquarium. Sometimes multiple specimens can be kept in larger aquariums, but usually this requires them to be added at the same time or they will be too territorial.[74]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Allen's dottyback Manonichthys alleni May eat shrimps[49]:106 Easy[49]:106 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Australian multicolor pseudochromis Ogilbyina novaehollandiae May eat shrimps Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Bicolor pseudochromis
Pictichromis paccagnellae.jpg
Pseudochromis paccagnellae May eat shrimps Easy to moderate Resembles royal gramma in coloration. The bicolor pseudochromis is semi-aggressive and will defend its territory against fish several times its size. This fish is fairly hardy, and is a good beginner fish. 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Blue flavivertex pseudochromis
Pseudochromis flavivertex.jpg
Pseudochromis flavivertex May eat shrimps Moderate Captive bred specimens are sometimes available 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Bluelined dottyback Pseudochromis cyanotaenia May eat shrimps[49]:106 Easy[49]:106 70006100000000000006.1 cm (2.4 in)
Brown dottyback or yellow pseudochromis Pseudochromis aureus May eat shrimps Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Cherry dottyback Pholidochromis cerasina May eat shrimps[49]:96 Easy[49]:96 70007900000000000007.9 cm (3.1 in)
Dilectus dottyback Pseudochromis dilectus May eat shrimps Moderate
Dusky dottyback
Pseudochromis fuscus.jpg
Pseudochromis fuscus May eat shrimps Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Elongate dottyback Pseudochromis elongatus May eat shrimps[49]:107 Easy[49]:107 70006400000000000006.4 cm (2.5 in)
Firetail dottyback Pseudochromis flammicauda May eat shrimps[49]:107 Easy[49]:107 70005599999999999995.6 cm (2.2 in)
Fridmani pseudochromis or orchid dottyback
Pseudochromis fridmani.JPG
Pseudochromis fridmani May eat shrimps Easy to moderate Community fish does well in most aquariums. is not nearly as aggressive as other dottybacks. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Longfin dottyback Manonichthys polynemus May eat shrimps[49]:106 Easy[49]:106 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Lyretail dottyback Pseudochromis steenei May eat shrimps Moderate 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Neon pseudochromis, Arabian dottyback or neon dottyback
Pseudochromis aldabraensis 1.JPG
Pseudochromis aldabraensis May eat shrimps Moderate Captive bred specimens are sometimes available 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Oblique-lined dottyback
Cypho purpurascens.jpg
Cypho purpurascens May eat shrimps[49]:91 Easy[49]:91 70007400000000000007.4 cm (2.9 in)
Orangetail dottyback Pseudochromis coccinicauda May eat shrimps[49]:102 Easy[49]:102 70005800000000000005.8 cm (2.3 in)
Purple stripe pseudochromis or diadema basslet
Pseudochromis Diadema Larry.JPG
Pseudochromis diadema May eat shrimps Easy to moderate 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Red dottyback
Labracinus cyclophthalmus.jpg
Labracinus cyclophthalmus With Caution Easy Large and aggressive for a dottyback 700122000000000000022 cm (8.7 in)
Sailfin pseudochromis Pseudochromis veliferus May eat shrimps Moderate 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)
Splendid pseudochromis
Manonichthys splendens.jpg
Pseudochromis splendens May eat shrimps Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Springeri pseudochromis Pseudochromis springeri May eat shrimps Moderate Captive bred species are sometimes available 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Striped dottyback
Dottyback in a hole.jpg
Pseudochromis sankeyi May eat shrimps Moderate Captive bred specimens are sometimes available 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Strawberry pseudochromis or purple pseudochromis
Magenta dottyback, Pictichromis porphyrea.jpg
Pseudochromis porphyreus May eat shrimps Easy to moderate 70006000000000000006 cm (2.4 in)
Twolined dottyback Pseudochromis bitaeniatus May eat shrimps[49]:101 Easy[49]:101 70006900000000000006.9 cm (2.7 in)

Rabbitfish[edit]

A Foxface

Less commonly kept than some other species, many still make hardy and colorful aquarium residents.[75][76]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Bicolor Foxface
Fiji rabbitfish Siganus uspi (7594109780).jpg
Siganus uspi With Caution Moderate 700124000000000000024 cm (9.4 in)
Blue-Lined Rabbitfish
Siganus doliatus edit.jpg
Siganus doliatus With Caution Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)[77]
Foxface
Siganus vulpinus 1 edit.jpg
Siganus vulpinus Easy to Moderate 700123000000000000023 cm (9.1 in)
Magnificent foxface
Siganus magnificus 1.jpg
Siganus magnificus Easy to Moderate 700124000000000000024 cm (9.4 in)
One Spot Foxface
Siganus unimaculatus.jpg
Siganus unimaculatus With Caution Moderate 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Yellow Blotch Rabbitfish
Siganus guttatis 2.jpg
Siganus guttatus With Caution Moderate 700142000000000000042 cm (16.5 in)

Rays[edit]

A Round stingray

All rays have a poisonous spine near the base of the tail. Care must be taken to avoid this animal when performing tank maintenance and during capture.


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Fiddler stingray
Trygonorrhina sp.jpg
Trygonorhina fasciata No Expert Requires a minimum 360 gallon aquarium with a 1 meter width and a fine grained substrate. Coarse substrates may damage the underside of this animal, causing infection.
Round stingray
Urobatis halleri.jpg
Urobatis halleri No Expert Requires a minimum 180 gallon aquarium and a fine grained substrate. Coarse substrates may damage the underside of this animal, causing infection. 700131000000000000031 cm (12.2 in)
Spotted caribbean stingray Urolophus spp. No Expert Requires a minimum 180 gallon aquarium and a fine grained substrate. Coarse substrates may damage the underside of this animal, causing infection.
Thornback stingray
Platyrhinoidis triseriata.jpg
Platyrhinoidis triseriata No Expert Requires a minimum 360 gallon aquarium with a 1 meter width

Scorpionfish[edit]

A Leaf Fish

Because they are relatively inactive fish, most species can be kept in smaller aquariums than other equally large fish, and 30 gallon tanks are not unusual. Because they are capable of eating fish that are surprisingly large, but will often be picked at by fish that eat invertebrates a species tank is often set up for them. Some fish will never accept anything but live food, typically these specimens are fed on gut packed guppies, mollies, or ghost shrimp. Similarly to the lionfish, care should be taken when handling these fish as they are also venomous.[78][79]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Ambon scorpionfish
Pteroidichthys amboinensis.jpg
Pteroidichthys amboinensis Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700112000000000000012 cm (4.7 in)[49]:46
Decoy scorpionfish Iracundus signifer Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)[49]:48
Eschmeyer's scorpionfish Rhinopias eschmeyeri Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700119000000000000019 cm (7.5 in)[49]:46
Flasher scorpionfish Scorpaenopsis macrochir Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)[49]:48
Lacey scorpionfish
Rhinopias frondosa 3.jpg
Rhinopias aphanes Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700124000000000000024 cm (9.4 in)[49]:46
Leaf scorpionfish
Taenianotus triacanthus.jpg
Taenianotus triacanthus With Caution Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)[80]
Mozambique scorpionfish Parascorpaena mossambica Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)[49]:48
Papuan scorpionfish Scorpaenopsis papuensis Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)[49]:48
Poss's scorpionfish Scorpaenopsis possi Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700119300000000000019.3 cm (7.6 in)[49]:48
Rogue scorpion Amblyapistus taenionotus With Caution Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Sea goblin
Inimicus didactylus 01.JPG
Inimicus didactylus Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)[81]
Stone fish
Stone Fish at AQWA SMC2006.jpg
Synanceja verrucosa No Difficult Highly venomous! Have caused human deaths 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Weedy scorpionfish
Rhinopias frondosa.JPG
Rhinopias frondosa Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 700123000000000000023 cm (9.1 in)[49]:46
Yellowspotted scorpionfish Sebastapistes cyanostigma Not with shrimp or small fish Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)[49]:48

Seahorse[edit]

A White's Seahorse

It takes a special aquarist to maintain these delicate beauties. A potential keeper must be dedicated and willing to throw artistic creativity to the winds- as what seahorses need is not always beautiful. They require taller tanks, live/frozen food, and many hitching posts, as well as very peaceful tankmates. In fact, beginners would be well-advised not to mix seahorses with any other species until they have more experience.
Seahorses found in stores are generally Captive Bred, but occasionally one might find a wild caught (WC) specimen. WC Seahorses should only be purchased by seahorse experts who are going to breed them, as they tend to be finicky and most are endangered in the wild.
One of the advantages of Seahorses is that many species stay small and can (in fact, some should) be kept in smaller tanks, making them ideal for aquarists who are pressed for space or money.[82][83]

Seahorses are among the few popular marine aquarium species that can be temperate. Species vary in their temperature requirement, so here an extra category has been added.
TR=Tropical ST=Sub-Tropical TM=Temperate


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Temp. Care Level Description Max size
Brazilian seahorse
Hippocampus reidi by Line1.jpg
Hippocampus reidi Caution ST Difficult Usually bright yellow, with a particularly long snout. 700117000000000000017 cm (6.7 in)
Spotted seahorse
Seahorse1.JPG
Hippocampus kuda Caution TR Difficult Generally yellow, but can also range from tan to dark black. 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Great seahorse Hippocampus kelloggi Caution ST Difficult Light tan, with some darker specimens. 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Pot-bellied seahorse
Hippocampus abdominalis by Zureks.jpg
Hippocampus abdominalis Caution TM Difficult Light colored with dark spots and a large abdomen. 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Pygmy seahorse
Hippocampus bargibanti3.JPG
Hippocampus bargibanti Caution TR Difficult White with pink (occasionally yellow) knobby protrusions. 70002400000000000002.4 cm (0.9 in)
Short-snouted seahorse Hippocampus breviceps Caution TM Difficult Grayish to tan with short snout and a spiny head. 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Tiger tail seahorse Hippocampus comes Caution TR Difficult Varying colors with dark striped tail. 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)
Lined Seahorse
Seahorse-aquarium.jpg
Hippocampus erectus Caution ST Difficult Dark colored with ligher belly and white ridges. 700119000000000000019 cm (7.5 in)
White's Seahorse
Hippocampus whitei 1.jpg
Hippocampus whitei Caution TM Difficult Fuller bodied with a comparatively larger head. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Dwarf Seahorse
Hippocampuszosterae.jpg
Hippocampus zosterae Caution ST Difficult Similar to H. reidi but much smaller. 70005000000000000005 cm (2.0 in)
Thorny Seahorse
Hippocampus hystrix (Spiny seahorse) yellow.jpg
Hippocampus histrix Caution TR Difficult Varying colors with distinctive spines all over body. 700117000000000000017 cm (6.7 in)

Squirrelfish[edit]

A Glass Eye Squirrelfish

Typically are hardy fish that can be kept with a wide variety of tankmates.[84][85]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Big eye soldierfish
XRF-Myripristis vittatus.png
Myripristis vittata With Caution Easy 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Blackbar soldierfish
Monaco.Musée océanographique039.jpg
Myripristis jacobus With Caution Easy 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Glass eye squirrelfish
Priacanthus cruentatus.jpg
Heteropriacanthus cruentatus With Caution Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Popeye catalufa soldierfish
Pristigenys serrula 01.jpg
Pristigenys serrula With Caution Moderate 700134000000000000034 cm (13.4 in)
Scarlet squirrelfish Sargocentron tiere With Caution Easy 700133000000000000033 cm (13.0 in)
Striped squirrelfish Sargocentron xantherythrum With Caution Moderate 700118000000000000018 cm (7.1 in)

Sharks[edit]

Main article: Sharks in captivity
A Bamboo Shark

Will outgrow most home aquariums.[86][87]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Black banded cat shark
Bamboo Shark.jpg
Chiloscyllium punctatum No Difficult Requires a 180+ gallon tank. 7002104000000000000104 cm (40.9 in)
Coral cat shark
Atelomycterus marmoratus 1.jpg
Atelomycterus marmoratus No Difficult Requires a 180+ gallon tank. 24 in
Epaulette shark
Hemiscyllium ocellatum 060417w1.jpg
Hemiscyllium ocellatum No Difficult Requires a 180+ gallon tank.[88]
Northern wobbegong shark Orectolobus wardi No Expert Requires 300+ gallon tank
Nurse shark
Photos050306 014.jpg
Ginglymostoma cirratum No Expert Grows to over 14 feet and will outgrow any home aquarium
Ornate wobbegong shark
Orectolobus ornatus 01 Pengo.jpg
Orectolobus ornatus No Expert Grows to near nine feet and will outgrow a home aquarium
Port Jackson shark
Heterodontus philippi.jpg
Heterodontus portusjacksoni No Expert Requires a 1000 gallon tank. 70001670000000000001.67 m (5.5 ft)
Spotted wobbegong shark
Spotted wobbegong.jpg
Orectolobus maculatus No Expert Grows to near nine feet and will outgrow a home aquarium
Whitespotted bambooshark
Chiloscyllium plagiosum.jpg
Chiloscyllium plagiosum No Difficult Requires a 180 gallon tank. 700193000000000000093 cm (36.6 in)

Snappers[edit]

A Black Snapper


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Black snapper, black and white snapper
Macolor niger.JPG
Macolor niger No Expert 700176000000000000076 cm (29.9 in)
Emperor snapper
Lutjanus sebae.jpg
Lutjanus sebae No Expert 7002114000000000000114 cm (44.9 in)
Threadfin snapper
Monaco.Musée océanographique050.jpg
Symphorichthys spilurus No Expert 700158000000000000058 cm (22.8 in)
Yellowback fusilier
XRF-Caesio xanthonota.png
Caesio xanthonota No Intermediate 700138000000000000038 cm (15.0 in)
Yellow-Banded Snapper, Hussar Emperor Snapper
Luade u0.gif
Lutjanus adetii No Expert 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)

Tangs[edit]

A Yellow Tang

Tangs generally feed on algae, though there are a few carnivorous species. Most tangs will not tolerate other fish the same color and/or shape as them. They have a spine on their tails that can cut open other fish and unprotected hands. All tangs should be given plenty of swimming room; try to have at least a 4' tank. Contrary to popular belief they will tolerate smaller (4' to 5') tanks just fine but tend to live better in larger tanks, over 5'.[89]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Achilles tang
Acanthurus achilles1.jpg
Acanthurus achilles Yes Difficult Passive aggressive. This fish is native to the waters of Hawaii and the South Pacific and therefore requires substantial turbulent flow and circulation to be kept in an aquarium. This fish should only be kept in a six foot or large aquarium as it requires a large amount of swim room. Very prone to Cryptocaryon irritans 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Atlantic blue tang
Blue Tang.jpg
Acanthurus coeruleus Yes Moderate Less aggressive than Achilles or Powder Blue 16 in
Blue eyed tang Ctenochaetus binotatus Yes Easy
Blue lined surgeonfish
Acanthurus nigroris by NPS.jpg
Acanthurus nigroris Yes Easy
Bristletooth tang
Ctenochaetus striatus.jpg
Ctenochaetus striatus Yes Easy to moderate
Chevron tang
Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis - Hawaii-Borstenzahndoktorfisch.jpg
Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis Yes Easy to moderate Bright orange when young and dark olive green when transitioned fully to juvenile.
Clown tang
Acanthurus lineatus Flynn Reef crop.jpg
Acanthurus lineatus Yes Difficult One of the most aggressive tangs 15 inches
Convict tang
Acanthurus triostegus and Labroides phthirophagus.jpg
Acanthurus triostegus Yes Easy
Desjardini tang
Zebrasoma desjardinii 1.jpg
Zebrasoma desjardinii Yes Moderate
Doctorfish
Achanturus chirurgs.jpg
Acanthurus chirurgus Yes Easy
Dussumieri tang
Acanthurus dussumieri 1.jpg
Acanthurus dussumieri Yes Difficult 700153000000000000053 cm (20.9 in)[90]
Eibli mimic tang Acanthurus tristis Yes Moderate
Gold rim tang
Acanthurus nigricans by NPS.jpg
Acanthurus nigricans Yes Difficult
Regal / Hippo tang
Blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) 02.jpg
Paracanthurus hepatus Yes Moderate Very prone to Cryptocaryon irritans. More tolerant of other tangs than most other species.
Kole tang
Ctenochaetus strigosus 1.jpg
Ctenochaetus strigosus Yes Easy to moderate
Lavender tang
Acanthurus nigrofuscus by NPS.jpg
Acanthurus nigrofuscus Yes Moderate
Lopezi tang Naso lopezi Yes Easy
Mimic tang, Chocolate tang
Chocolate tang - Acanthurus pyroferus.jpg
Acanthurus pyroferus Yes Easy to moderate
Naso tang, blonde naso tang
Naso lituratus 2.jpg
Naso lituratus Yes Easy to moderate
Orange shoulder tang
Acanthurus olivaceus 1.jpg
Acanthurus olivaceus Yes Moderate
Powder blue tang
Acanthurusleucosternon-Weißkehl.jpg
Acanthurus leucosternon Yes Difficult Very prone to Cryptocaryon irritans.
Powder brown tang
Acanthurus japonicus.jpg
Acanthurus japonicus Yes Moderate
Purple tang
Zebrasoma xanthurum pair.jpg
Zebrasoma xanthurus Yes Easy to moderate
Sailfin tang
Zebrasoma veliferum by NPS.jpg
Zebrasoma veliferum Yes Easy to moderate
Scopas tang
Zebrasoma scopas.1 - Aquarium Finisterrae.JPG
Zebrasoma scopas Yes Easy to moderate Similar to the yellow tang in shape and feeding.[91]
Sohal tang
Acanthurussohal-ArabischerDoktor.jpg
Acanthurus sohal Yes Difficult One of the larger more aggressive tangs 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Tennent tang
Acanthurus tennenti Kreisdorn-Doktorfisch3.jpg
Acanthurus tennenti Yes Easy
Thompson's surgeonfish
XRF-Acanthurus thompsoni.png
Acanthurus thompsoni Yes Moderate 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Tomini tang
Ctenochaetus tominiensis 3.JPG
Ctenocheatus tominiensis Yes Easy
Unicorn tang
Nasounicornis-Blauklingen.jpg
Naso unicornis Yes Moderate
Vlamingi tang Naso vlamingii Yes Easy
White freckled surgeon Acanthurus maculiceps Yes Easy
Yellow tang
Zebrasoma flavescens Luc Viatour.jpg
Zebrasoma flavescens Yes Easy to moderate The yellow tangs require ample swimming room and plenty of algae to graze on. A single tang will not tolerate another of its kind unless there is ample space for each tang to have their own territory. They require high oxygen levels. Can be kept in shoals when a tank of at least 5 ft is provided.
Yellowfin surgeon
Acanthurus xanthopterus by NPS.jpg
Acanthurus xanthopterus Yes Moderate

Tilefish[edit]

Though often categorized as gobies, tilefish are a separate species.[92][93]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Blue-headed tilefish
Bluehead tilefish.jpg
Hoplolatilus starcki Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Purple tilefish Hoplolatilus purpureus Moderate 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Yellow tilefish Hoplolatilus luteus Moderate 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Redlined tilefish Hoplolatilus marcosi Moderate

Triggerfish[edit]

A Clown trigger

While they are generally considered monsters that will chomp invertebrates, a few species can make great reef fish. Other more aggressive species such as the Undulated Trigger, and Clown Trigger will sometimes be so aggressive that it is necessary to keep as the sole inhabitant of the aquarium. All will require large tanks, with good filtration.[94][95][96]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Assasi trigger
Rhinecanthus assasi 1.JPG
Rhinecanthus assasi No Easy 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Blue jaw trigger / blue throat trigger
2005-03-01 - Gilded triggerfish.jpg
Xanthichthys auromarginatus Widely regarded as the only reef safe trigger. Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Blue line trigger
Trigger2a.jpg
Pseudobalistes fuscus No Moderate 700155000000000000055 cm (21.7 in)
Bursa trigger
Rhinecanthus verrucosus.jpg
Rhinecanthus verrucosus No easy 700123000000000000023 cm (9.1 in)
Clown trigger
Clown Triggerfish Balistoides conspicillum Side 1888px.jpg
Balistoides conspicillum No Easy 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Crosshatch trigger Xanthichthys mento No Easy A shy reserved fish when first added to the aquarium, comes into its own when it associates itself with the aquarist. Infrequently available[97] 700129000000000000029 cm (11.4 in)
Goldenback trigger Xanthichthys caeruleolineatus No Easy Rarely available 700135000000000000035 cm (13.8 in)
Golden heart trigger
Balistespunctatus.jpg
Balistes punctatus No Intermediate 700161000000000000061 cm (24.0 in)
Halfmoon trigger
Sufflamen chrysopterum.jpg
Sufflamen chrysopterum No Easy 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Hawaiian black trigger
Melichthys niger on Kona.jpg
Melichthys niger No Moderate 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Lei trigger
Sufflamen bursa.jpg
Sufflamen bursa No Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Indian black trigger
Black triggerfish.jpg
Melichthys indicus No Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Niger trigger
Redtoothed triggerfish.jpg
Odonus niger No Easy Among the more peaceful of triggers, can usually be kept in a community tank 700150000000000000050 cm (19.7 in)
Picasso trigger
Picasso.triggerfish.arp.jpg
Rhinecanthus aculeatus No Easy to Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Pinktail trigger
Pink Tail Triggerfish in kona.jpg
Melichthys vidua No Moderate 700140000000000000040 cm (15.7 in)
Queen trigger
4987 aquaimages.jpg
Balistes vetula No Moderate A large fish that should only be kept in very large aquariums. 700160000000000000060 cm (23.6 in)
Rectangular trigger
Reef Triggerfish 1.JPG
Rhinecanthus rectangulus No Easy 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Sargassum trigger
Sargassum triggerfish Xanthichthys ringens.jpg
Xanthichthys ringens No Easy A shy reserved fish when first added to the aquarium, comes into its own when it associates itself with the aquarist. Infrequently available 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Starry trigger
Abalistes stellatus.jpg
Abalistes stellatus No Easy 700160000000000000060 cm (23.6 in)
Titan trigger
Trigger1.jpg
Balistoides viridescens No Moderate Can only be housed in the largest of marine aquariums 700175000000000000075 cm (29.5 in)
Undulated trigger
Balistapus undulatus (Nausicaä).jpg
Balistapus undulatus No Easy Probably the most aggressive fish kept in marine aquariums. Older specimens should be housed alone. 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Whitetail trigger Sufflamen albicaudatum With Caution Easy 700122000000000000022 cm (8.7 in)

Wrasse[edit]

A Lyretail Wrasse

A diverse group of fish with an equally wide range of characteristics. Some wrasse species are aggressive towards small fish and invertebrates, others are reef safe. Some are quite hardy, some typically die within weeks.[98][99]


Common name Image Taxonomy Reef safe Care Level Description Max size
Banana wrasse
Thalassoma lutescens.jpg
Thalassoma lutescens No Easy 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Bird wrasse
Bird Wrasse.jpg
Gomphosus varius No Easy 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Bluehead wrasse
Blue-headed wrasse det.jpg
Thalassoma bifasciatum With Caution Easy-moderate 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
Carpenter's flasher wrasse Paracheilinus carpenteri Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Cheeklined maori wrasse Cheilinus diagrammus No Moderate 700136000000000000036 cm (14.2 in)[100]
Christmas wrasse
Thalassoma trilobatum by NPS.jpg
Thalassoma trilobatum No 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Cortez Rainbow wrasse
Thalassomalucasanumcropped.JPG
Thalassoma lucasanum No Moderate 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Dragon wrasse
Cleaning station konan.jpg
Novaculichthys taeniourus No Moderate 700130000000000000030 cm (11.8 in)
Eight line wrasse
Wrasse55.jpg
Pseudocheilinus octotaenia Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Easy to moderate
Exquisite fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus exquisitus Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Difficult 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Fine-spotted fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus punctatus Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Difficult 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Flame wrasse Cirrhilabrus jordani Yes Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)
Formosa wrasse
XRF-Coris formosa.png
Coris formosa No Moderate 700161000000000000061 cm (24.0 in)
Four line wrasse
Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia.jpg
Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Easy to moderate
Goldbar wrasse
Wrasse Seychelles.jpg
Thalassoma hebraicum With Caution Moderate 700123000000000000023 cm (9.1 in)
Pastel-green wrasse
Halichoeres chloropterus.jpg
Halichoeres chloropterus With Caution Moderate 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Greenback fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus scottorum Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Difficult 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Harlequin tusk
Choerodon fasciatus.jpg
Choerodon fasciatus Generally, yes, but may eat shrimps Moderate
Hoeven's wrasse
Halichoeresmelanurus1.jpg
Halichoeres melanurus With Caution Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Jansen saddle wrasse Thalassoma jansenii No Easy 700120000000000000020 cm (7.9 in)
Labout's fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus laboutei Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Leopard wrasse
Macropharyngodon meleagris.jpg
Macropharyngodon meleagris Yes Expert 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)[101]
Lineatus fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus lineatus Yes Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Longfin fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Lyretail wrasse/Moon wrasse
Thalassoma lunare.jpg
Thalassoma lunare No Moderate 700125000000000000025 cm (9.8 in)
Marble wrasse
Halichoeres hortulanus 1.JPG
Halichoeres hortulanus No Easy-moderate 700128000000000000028 cm (11.0 in)
McCosker's flasher wrasse Paracheilinus mccoskeri Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Multicolor lubbock's wrasse
Labre de Lubbock (Cirrhilabrus lubbocki).jpg
Cirrhilabrus lubbocki Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Multicolor velvet wrasse Cirrhilabrus cyanopleura Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Moderate
Mystery wrasse
MysteryWrasse.jpg
Pseudocheilinus ocellatus Yes Easy
Orange-back fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus aurantidorsalis Yes Easy 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Pinkface wrasse Thalassoma quinquevittatum With Caution Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Potter's wrasse Macropharyngodon geoffroyi Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Difficult
Red coris wrasse
Coris gaimard real.jpg
Coris gaimard No Easy 700136000000000000036 cm (14.2 in)
Red-head fairy wrasse
Cirrhilabrus solorensis-2.jpg
Cirrhilabrus solorensis Yes; feeds on tiny organisms Difficult 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Red velvet wrasse Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis Yes Easy 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Scarlet pin stripe wrasse Pseudocheilinus evanidus Yes Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Six line wrasse
Six-line wrasse.jpg
Pseudocheilinus hexataenia Yes Easy to moderate Small pink fish with six purple horizontal lines. 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Radiant wrasse Halichoeres iridis Yes Easy 700115000000000000015 cm (5.9 in)
Rhomboid fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus rhomboidalis Yes Moderate Golden body with purple horizontal stripes on head. 13 cm (5.1 in)
Whip fin fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus filamentosus Yes Easy 70009000000000000009 cm (3.5 in)
Yellow wrasse
Halichoeres chrysus-Yellow Wrasse.jpg
Halichoeres chrysus Yes With Caution Yellow body with three or occasionally four black dots on dorsal fins. Require sand bed for sleeping. 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Yellow & purple wrasse Halichoeres trispilus Yes With Caution 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Yellowband wrasse Cirrhilabrus luteovittatus Yes Moderate 700113000000000000013 cm (5.1 in)
Yellow fin fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus flavidorsalis Yes Moderate 70008000000000000008 cm (3.1 in)
Yellow-flanked fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus lyukyuensis Yes Moderate 700110000000000000010 cm (3.9 in)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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