Selecting your first ever saltwater fish is an exciting, but daunting thing. How do you know which fish to choose? I have written an article about how to select your first fish here >>> but, here is a breakdown of my Top 5, beginner friendly saltwater fish.

To make this list these fish must be:

  • Inexpensive
  • Considered hardy
  • Not prone to disease
  • Suitable for a mixed reef tank
  • Colourful & fun to watch
  • Not considered aggressive

5. The Firefish Goby

Firefish Goby
Firefish Goby

The Firefish goby is a peaceful, model citizen. They keep themselves to themselves and spend their days bobbling along in your water column, while at night they tuck themselves away in a little cave, away from the other fish.

They eat pretty much anything you put in the tank and can tolerate slight swings in water parameters. They are colourful, well behaved, hardy little fish that were an easy addition to the Top 5.

4. The Royal Gramma

Royal Gramma
Royal Gramma

Who wouldn’t want these colours in their aquarium? These busy little fish spend their day cruising around your rock work looking for any tasty treats that may float their way. At night, they will have a favoured cave in the rock work, which if necessary they will defend, but they are not bullies!

Though they can be a little timid with bigger fish as their tank mates, as long as they are added early to larger aquariums they will establish themselves a little territory and remain active within your tank. They are a welcome, colourful addition to any reef tank.

3. The Ocellaris Clownfish

Clownfish Banner

What saltwater aquarium is complete without a Nemo? This iconic fish is a staple within the fish-keeping hobby. Made famous by the film Finding Nemo, the Clownfish is most likely the most popular fish within the hobby, and for good reason! They are attractive little fish that can be fascinating to watch when they start hosting an anemone.

Care should be taken when adding these fish, they are a little more prone to disease and parasites than some of the other fish on this list and they can become a bit territorial once they pair up and start spawning. It is for this reason that they don’t make the number 1 slot on this list.

2. The Bicolour Blenny

Bicolour blenny
Bicolour blenny

These plucky little fish are colourful and character full. They enjoy poking in and out of caves, searching for tasty treats or burrowing through the sand. They are algae eaters, which is a bonus in any newly set-up aquarium. Be careful though as some have been known to nip as corals, so keep them well fed & keep an eye on them.

Other than potentially having a slight taste for corals, they are generally model citizens in your aquarium. They are active and fun to watch and provide the holy grail of services, algae eating.

1. The Watchman Goby

Pistol Shrimp with Watchman Goby
Pistol Shrimp with Watchman Goby

The Watchman Goby takes the top spot on my list. It is a model citizen in your aquarium and will provide you with hours of entertainment while it sifts away at the sand bed and creates itself holes to call home.

If you are lucky, you may be able to get your Watchman to pair up with a pistol shrimp. The pistol shrimp will keep watch while the goby does all the work, but they will share a little hole and keep each other safe.

Watchman Goby

These fish meet all the requirements for the perfect beginner fish and I don’t think you could go far wrong with them in any aquarium! Go buy yourself a Watchman & thank me with a nice bottle of wine later 🙂


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