Some aquarium fish are not “reef-safe.” Many saltwater fish can rip corals, eat fish, and otherwise devastate the tank’s other occupants. The marine fish species described below are usually considered safe for reef tanks by experienced reef tank keepers. When it comes to saltwater aquariums and live animals, bear in mind that nothing is foolproof. Any species has renegades, so if your new tank critter doesn’t work out, get rid of it before it does serious harm. Here is the best reef safe fish!

Tank Raised Clownfish (Ocellaris or Percula Species)


• 20-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive Temperament

Here is the most common saltwater aquarium fish in the industry. However, all kinds of designer clownfish are now available, thanks to the boom of the tank-raised fish industry. You can keep them in pairs if you buy two while they’re young or one larger and one smaller. In captivity, they know to spawn and host corals. They’re reef-safe and hardy fish. Simply put, a reef tank isn’t complete without a pair of them.

Banggai Cardinalfish



• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive Temperament

This classic saltwater aquarium fish has peaceful tank mates, a strong personality, and striking black lines. They can also house in pairs, can replicate in captivity, and are highly hardy. However, the Banggai Cardinalfish model of how hobbyists, industry experts, and scientists collaborated to ensure a marine species’ long-term viability in captivity is great for reef tanks.

Orchid Dottyback



• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• semi-aggressive temperament

Yes, I realize this is a terrible picture, but the fish is incredible. Dottybacks have a poor reputation. It is because most dotty backs can channel their inner damsel in distress and wreak havoc in your tank.
Thankfully, the Orchid Dottyback isn’t one of them. In a group reef tank, they have a relaxed attitude and make excellent tankmates. However, if you can buy a mated pair, it not recommend to keep these in pairs. It’s difficult to tell the difference between a male because a female and they don’t change gender as clownfish do. They are, however, excellent saltwater aquarium fish. They are reef safe and are effective at eliminating bristle worms from aquariums.

Gramma Royal



• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• semi-aggressive temperament

This stunning saltwater aquarium fish has a striking combination of colors and personality. The Royal Gramma pretends to be the boss in your pool, but clownfish, tangs, and angelfish usually keep her in check. They can attack similar-bodied fish and their species. However, you can’t get a dotty back and a royal gamma in the same reef aquarium, so choose one. I’m leaning toward the dotty orchid back because it can be tank bred. The gramma is a gentler species than the orchid. They won’t damage any corals.

Chromis



• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 3.5?? is the maximum size.
• Temperament – Calming

The Blue-Green Chromis is a hardy saltwater fish with a long life expectancy that school together. They’re saltwater aquarium fish’s neon-tetra. However, you can not go wrong with this fish in your aquarium.

Firefish



• 10-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• Temperament – Calming

The Firefish is the saltwater fish of choice for nano aquariums. Peaceful, calm, vibrant colors, and tough as nails. They can be held in pairs and usually stay together, but it is better to buy them while young to maximize your chances of success.

Six Line wrasse



• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• semi-aggressive temperament

Wrasses are a very abundant species of fish. It’s no different with the Sixline Wrasse. A saltwater aquarium fish that is reef-protected and hardy, the only disadvantage is that this wrasse is aggressive and stalk easily threatened fish. To prevent tank drama, hold them with other semi-aggressive fish like clownfish and introduce them last. They do an incredible job of eliminating pests from corals while remaining reef-protected.

Goby, the Watchman



• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• Temperament – Calming

The Watchman Goby regarded as one of the most beginner-friendly saltwater aquarium fish. They can shape a pair with a pistol shrimp if they pair together. If you’re going to do a pair, make sure you have at least a 2?? sand bed and a tiny shrimp-like candy cane shrimp on hand. It’s a pleasure to watch the interaction between Watchman Goby and a gun. The goby’s job is to keep the shrimp healthy while it works on the sand and gathers food. They’re always a decent fish to have on their own if you don’t want to pair them with shrimp. They’ll eat any cooked food.

Midas Blenny


• 30-gallon minimum tank size

• 6?? is the maximum size.
• Temperament – Calming

The Midas Blenny is the epitome of Blenny’s perfection. Colorful, with a great attitude and little risk to the coral. The majority of hobbyists who have them claim they are their favorite saltwater fish. They don’t have a swim bladder, but they’re still going and have an eel-like appearance when swimming.

McCoosker Wrasse



• 55-gallon minimum tank size
• 3?? is the maximum size.
• Temperament – Calming

The only fish on the list that needs a tank more significant than 3 feet is the McCoosker’s Wrasse. It’s best to keep them in groups because the male can put on a colorful show for the tank’s females. You will, however, need to introduce the female first or as a party. They, like clownfish, alter sex.
They are one of the least competitive tank mates, so make sure they are one of the first saltwater aquarium fish you add to your tank if you want to hold them. Since they consider to be jumpers, a cover suggested.

Damselfish in Azure


• 30-gallon minimum tank size
• 2.5?? is the maximum size.
• semi-aggressive temperament

This fish, also known as the Kupang Damsel, is the most divisive on my list. But, before you respond, hear me out. Damselfishes aren’t all bad. More information about damselfishes can found in our damselfish post. The Azure is the best choice for a reef fish group among all the damsels available in our hobby.
Also, with their more offensive disposition, there be careful decisions to make to ensure your success. They’ll cut my list if you take the right measure. They bully each other to death if you have more than one of these per 18-inch reef tank capacity. They’re perfect color additions because their blue colors contrast with a variety of reef aquarium fish. They also look fantastic when lit with actinic reef lighting.
Other reef safe fishes are listed below

Anthias

Anthias, or Wreckfish, are another shoaling, zooplankton-eating shoaling fish. It is highly reef-protected, as it does not encounter rock, sand, or corals and instead swims in the water column above. They need vast shoals because they can squabble amongst themselves, but they don’t bother other fish and look great when mixed with Green Chromis. Individually, some marine keepers believe they resemble goldfish, but when a group of them add to a reef pool, the reef comes to life.

Surgeonfish

Surgeonfish prevent algae from growing on natural coral reefs, and since they don’t touch the corals, they’re a perfect reef-safe fish. While the super blue Regal tangs do not graze like Yellow tangs, they are coral healthy and perennial favorites. If you have the room, consider Lipstick and Sailfin tangs, and feed plenty of vegetable matter if algae are scarce.

Cardinalfish

Cardinals are a shoaling planktivore that can found in large numbers on the reef. They can squabble between themselves, so keep them in large groups or as individuals. When held in a group, they make for a fantastic reef tank spectacle as they do in nature.

Fairy and flasher wrasses

Wrasses are a diverse group of fish with a wide range of characteristics. Some species grow large and prey on mobile invertebrates, making them unsuitable for reef aquariums. Flasher and Fairy wrasse, on the other hand, are more like the Anthias of the wrasse planet. They like Hovering over the top of the reef, snatching zooplankton from the water column, and showing ornate vintage and coloration to each other. Some are rare and costly, but they are all coral healthy.

Dragonettes

The Mandarin and Scooter blennies are dragonettes, which are goby-like fish with beautiful markings. In fresh tanks, they prefer live foods and are vulnerable to starvation. However, a mature reef provides them with plenty of opportunities to jump across the rocks and sand, searching for their favorite prey – tiny copepods and isopods. They are fully reefing secure, but they do not recommend for beginners.

Pipefish

Pipefish are relatives of Seahorses and come in several patterns and sizes. They can reject all but live foods. They make eye-catching additions to reef tanks and are 100% coral and reef-protected if you can find a pair that accepts frozen foods.

Menu
Candid Themes Theme: Fairy by .