Saltwater Fish for Beginning Marine Aquarists

Whether you've been intrigued by the comical characters of Pixar's "Finding Nemo", or simply feel ready to venture into the world of maintaining a saltwater fish tank, begin with hearty yet docile choices.

Whether you've been intrigued by the comical characters of Pixar's Finding Nemo, or simply feel ready to venture into the world of maintaining a saltwater fish tank, begin with hearty yet docile choices.

From the brightly-colored orange clownfish resembling Nemo to the brilliant blue and yellow coloring of a blue tang (or as children call them, a Dory fish), venturing into the world of saltwater fish tank is both challenging and rewarding.

The following list of marine fish are good choices for the beginning marine aquarist. Special requirements and unique traits of each fish are discussed to make filling your first saltwater tank simple and beautiful.

Clownfish

Perhaps the most popular fish to grace a new marine fish tank is the clownfish. The Nemo clones are often chosen by children for their bright colors, personality and popularity. Clownfish are perfect for those just starting their saltwater hobby, according to Central Garden amp; Pet based in Walnut Creek, California. Clownfish average a 10 year life span, making them a good choice for young children to observe for several years.

When fully grown, clownfish are approximately 3 inches in length. The hearty fish does not require an anemone to sustain life, and does well in groups. Three popular varieties include the maroon clownfish, the tomato clownfish and Clark's clownfish.

Damsels

Available in a rainbow of colors, damsels are a hearty fish with a healthy appetite. They willingly dine on live, freeze dried, frozen or flake foods. Damsels are closely related to the clownfish and achieve a similar size of approximately 2 to 3 inches in length. This beginner saltwater fish adapts well to the fluctuating conditions of a new saltwater fish tank set-up. Be warned that damsels may shun other species and even pick fights with other damsels in their groups.

The life span of a damsel is much shorter than that of their clownfish cousins. Expect to enjoy your damsels for 2 to 4 years. Blue damsels are a popular choice with their electric-blue body and lemon-yellow accents on the tail fins. Green chromis damsels are docile and mix well with other damsels.

Dwarf Angels

These smaller variety angels reach a maximum of 5-inches in length, making them an appropriate size for new fish tanks starting with small fish. The shy and delicate angel fish are not as hearty as clownfish and damsels, and should be introduced to the tank after the salinity is balanced and maintained for a few weeks.

Dwarf angel fish enjoy fresh greens, frozen foods and green algae. Although expensive and not readily available, the Caribbean pygmy is a hearty first choice among dwarf angel fish enthusiasts. The purple, blue and yellow fish has a hearty appetite and stays a petite 3-inches in length.

Other docile species of saltwater fish to consider include gobys, mandarins and unicorn fish.