A List of Good Beginner Fish

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish' started by omard, Jul 8, 2007.

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  1. omard

    omard Gnarly Old Codfish

    Sep 28, 2003
    Silverdale, Washington
    (Repost with permission)

    Good Beginner Fish ​


    Coral Beauty Angelfish [Centropyge bispinosus] (probably the hardiest of all the dwarf angels but they can nibble on corals and clams)

    Half Black Angelfish [Centropyge vroliki] (see Coral Beauty)

    Pygmy/Cherub Angelfish [Centropyge argi] (see Coral Beauty but
    consider that they are often meaner, the same goes for most other similar shaped Pygmy Angels)

    *Angels can be a little prone to disease but are otherwise pretty hardy if given a good diet


    Bicolor Blenny [Ecsenius bicolor] (great little fish with lots of personality that can help with algae problems, only problem is they're know to sometimes take a liking to munching on corals and clams, procede with caution)

    Tail Spot Blenny [Ecsenius stigmatura] (in most cases probably a better choice all around than the Bicolor Blenny, though they aren't quite as boisterous which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective, less commonly available)

    Linear Blenny [Ecsenius lineatus] (see above)


    Pajama/Spotted/Orange Lined Cadinalfish [Sphaeramia nematoptera most common] (peaceful, disease resistant, and hardy, Cardinalfish in general are good choices just be a little more leary of Bangaii Cardinals that are new to captivity and red nocturnal varieties)


    Tank Raised Clownfish [Amphiprion sp.] (percula and ocellaris stay smaller and are les aggressive, Skunk clowns can be more peaceful as well, Maroon clowns tend to be the meanest, and all the others usually fall somewhere in between)

    Green Chromis [Chromis viridis] (very peaceful and will school, but it is becoming pretty clear that in smaller schools they will sometimes pick the weakest member of the group off one by one, perhaps larger schools of 6+ in larger aquariums would eliminate that possibility)

    Yellowtail Damselfish [Chrysiptera parasema] (can be aggressive but not quite as mean as most other Damselfish, add them as one of your last fish)

    *In general Damsels are very hardy but the majority of them get far too mean to be considered good inhabitants in most tanks


    Firefish [Nemateleotris decora/magnifica] (great reef fish, just be weary when keeping in groups as they can turn on one another, singles or mated pairs are you best bet, they have been known to jump but it's not a big problem)

    Scissortail Goby/Dartfish [Ptereleotris evides] (almost identical to Firefish in care)

    Yellow Watchman Goby [Cryptocentrus cinctus] (tough as nails, very comical, peaceful, but a little shy and require some sand to burrow in, make sure your rocks are stacked securely)

    Pink Spotted Watchman [Cryptocentrus leptocephalus] (see Yellow Watchman)

    Gold/Blue Neon Goby (peaceful and often avilable as tank raised, keep as mated pairs or singles unless you have a large aquarium)

    Hector's Goby [Amblyeleotris hectori] (similar to Rainford's but seem to accept prepared foods more often, just make sure they're eating before purchase and keep them with more peaceful fish, they will also sift food from your sandbed and tidy it up so it's best to have a sandbed)


    Royal Gramma [Gramma loreto] (kept singly they are peaceful, but the biggest drawback is their shyness, provide plenty of overhangs, they may also do best in aquariums with a little less intense lighting)

    Pseudochromis [springeri/fridmani/flavivertex/aldabraensis] (very hardy and disease resistant, however can get quite mean, they are fairly well behaved as long as they're the last fish added and you avoid similar size/shape fish, frequently available as tank raised)

    Pseudochromis sankeyi (same as above except far more peaceful)


    Zebrasoma sp. [Yellow, Purple, Scopas, Sailfin] (these are the hardiest of the tangs in my opinion, still not great beginner fish, but if you must have a Tang these are the best choices, be sure to provide plenty of green stuff for them to graze on and feed them often to stay plump, as a basic guideline it's best to keep these in 75 gal. or larger aquariums with the consideration that they might outgrow those down the road, they can get mean so make them later additions)

    Foxfaces/Rabbitfish [Siganus vulpinus is the most common] (these fish can get quite large so be sure to research if your tank is large enough to house one, they're great at algae control, more disease resistant than their cousins the Tang, and generally more peaceful, also keep in mind their dorsal spines are mildly venomous)


    Six/Four Line Wrasse (can get mean much like the Pseudochromis, but also requires a sandbed to borrow in, sometimes these will consume undesirable flatworms)

    General Notes

    *Keep in mind that there are plenty of other fish that are suitable to beginnners, I've covered most of the staples. You'll find that most of these fish are easy to find at a local fish store and are fairly reasonable in price. As a beginner don't spend a lot of money on some rare fish just to watch it die from a common beginner mistake.

    *Fish selection is one of the most important aspects of this hobby. Select specimens with bright vibrant colors that are active and overall healthy in appearance. Avoid things like torn fins, strange spots or lumps, sunken in bellies, and sores or red marks. It can also be helpful to see if the fish eats before taking it home.

    *Quarantine tanks are an important aspect of marine aquarium keeping. No matter how healthy and disease resistant your fish looked at the store things can still go wrong. A quarantine tank will help you keep the fish in your display free of disease and help ensure the longterm survival of newly aquired specimens.

    Peter Eichler (Reef Central)

    Fish to Be Avoided - Part I

    Fish to be Avoided - Part II
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2007
    2 people like this.
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  3. coral reefer

    coral reefer Giant Squid

    Jan 9, 2006
    I would like to add Flasher and Fairy Wrasses, Flame Angel, Blue throat, Niger and Pink tail Triggers.
    Good info again Omard!
    1 person likes this.
  4. 2t2_crash

    2t2_crash Fire Worm

    Sep 24, 2007
    Okinawa Japan
    how long should i keep new fish in the QT?
  5. Camilsky

    Camilsky Montipora Capricornis

    Oct 28, 2007
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Thanks! Omard!

    Actually I wanted to add some new inhabitants ! I will certainly follow this advice!

  6. BaxterS80

    BaxterS80 Pajama Cardinal

    Jul 31, 2007
    Baltimore, MD
    Omard, thanks for the great info...We have a sixline wrasse in the large display tank and he is a great fish. He does burrown himself each night at lights out. We also have a yellow finned fairy wrasse in the 29. He not only burrows himself but also covers himself in a cocoon.

    The duo colored african pygmy does pester our small male clown when he is hosting our toadstool coral...This kinda stresses me out.

    We have a Coral Beauty in the 29 and for the most part is a peaceful fish. He will bother the fairy wrasse from time to time.
  7. PharmrJohn

    PharmrJohn The Dude

    Jun 29, 2008
    Shelton, Washington
    Some go two weeks, some up to a month.
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  9. mufassathelion

    mufassathelion Skunk Shrimp

    Feb 21, 2009
    so is a spotted foxface rabbit a good beginner?
  10. Av8Bluewater

    Av8Bluewater Giant Squid

    Aug 27, 2008
    Not around LPS... if you're going to have a reef. They're not reefsafe. They grow super fast and the bigger they get the more food they will want.. then they'll turn to eating LPS. But... that was just my experience.
  11. pinkypictures

    pinkypictures Plankton

    Feb 21, 2009
    I have had a 6 line wrasse he killed my clown so i got rid of him and got a Pseudochromis and he killed 5 other fish that i got in my tank. Now all i have is him left and i don't know what to do!
  12. se7en

    se7en Plankton

    Apr 20, 2009
    Huntington Beach, CA
    One fish that I might suggest as a good beginner fish is a flamehawk. Upon doing some research (on the internet and talking to a friend that used to work at a fish store and as one in his personal tank) I have found that they adapt really easily to tank life as well as having a very peaceful demeanor to them. Also, you'll see what wonderful little personalities they have! They like to watch everything you do and they seem to follow you around when you're near the tank. In the short time I've had mine, when I get near the tank he seems to get all excited and comes right over to the glass & finds the nearest perch to me and just watchs everything I do.

    I added my first flamehawk yesterday and so far he's doing great! My clown got a little territoral at first but after about 20 mins, they seemes liked old friends. My clown has already accepted him and doesn't mind at all when the Flamehawk comes over and hangs out by him. They almost seem to play at times, it almost seems like they have a little game of hide & go seek going.

    My flamehawks has already eaten a little and seems to have made himself at home. But I'll have to have him longer before I can truley say I've had no problems. But so far so good!

    As anybody found that they've had problems with flamehawks?