Choosing The Right Fish For Your Saltwater Tank

Saltwater Tank

The fish of the world thank you for doing your research before stocking up your saltwater tank with your new underwater friends. Like any pet, keeping fish is a big responsibility. They are living, breathing animals and proper care and education is the difference between them suffering, or living a happy, thriving life. 

First of all, know your level of expertise and experience. If keeping a saltwater tank is a new thing for you, then don’t get cocky and adopt fish with more complex needs and that are ultimately higher maintenance, unless you are going to hire a professional like Crystal oceans.

If you’re not confident in your ability to take good care of it, then you picked the wrong fish.Telling yourself ‘Eh, we’ll just see how this goes’ is the wrong attitude. Again, these are living, breathing organisms and treating them anything less than wonderful doesn’t do them justice. Make sure you’re choosing fish that suit your own abilities. Leave the seahorses and octopuses in the ocean!

What Fish Should You Choose?

Right Fish For Your Saltwater Tank

Some nice fish species for beginners are clownfish, watchman gobies, blennyfish, and firefish. These fish are less picky eaters, less sensitive to temperature, and tend to get along with their tank mates.

If you’re new, think about these fish as a starting point, and once you’re comfortable keeping them happy, you can start thinking about fish for more advanced fishkeepers, such as the Mandarinfish. Mandarinfish will not eat any of the same food that its tank mates will eat.

In fact, it will only eat live invertebrates called amphipods and opepods, and these invertebrates won’t even survive unless the tank is very big and very matured. If that sounds confusing to you then that’s exactly why you should avoid mandarinfish and other advanced fish for now.

Will The Fish Mix Well Together?

After you’ve decided what your abilities are and what your willing to take on, you then have to consider the biological compatibility of the fish in your tank, so you don’t end up putting a predator fish in a tank full of prey.

Fish keepers like to classify fish in 2 categories: Reef safe and non-reef safe. Reef safe fish are fish that do well in reefs, while non-reef safe fish are fish that do not do well in reefs because they like to eat other fish. So unless you want a giant massacre in your tank, keep these two categories separate. These categories are generally pretty well established so, if you’re not sure, consult the internet or your local fish shop.

An example of non-reef safe fish are pufferfish, eels, and groupers; These species can sometimes be kept together when they are young, but as they mature they will get aggressive and deadly towards each other, so if you’re interested in these species, it’s usually better that they be kept alone.

Which Fish Will Maintain Your Tank?

compatible saltwater fish

Another important aspect to keeping your saltwater tank in good standing is to think about the role your fish play in the ecosystem of the tank.

Some fish love eating algae, and are great at preventing overgrowth of it in your tank. An example of these species are the siamese flying fox, the otocinclus, and the plecostomus.

Some fish, like the chromis, will eat just about anything, and are great at scooping up leftover food floating around. Many types of gobi fish specialise in sifting through the sand looking for algae and uneaten food. Other fish simply just look nice. An imbalance in the jobs and roles in the ecosystem can cause problems. If you don’t pay attention 

to the role each fish plays in maintaining the ecosystem, you can end up with some issues, so always keep this in mind. Each fish is capable of serving a particular purpose in keeping the tank clean, beautiful and peaceful.

How Big Is Your Fish Tank?

large saltwater fish tanks

You have to be conscious of the size of your tank and what it can and can’t handle. A general rule of thumb is for every 1 inch of fish in your tank, there should be 5 gallons of water. Once your tank matures and you know how to keep your tank healthy, you can then do up to 1 inch for every 3 gallons. This must be kept in mind when choosing fish because some fish, like Tangs, can grow quite large and all the sudden be too big for the tank.

Too many fish in one tank can cause nitrate imbalances, territory issues, and stress amongst the fish. It’s better to have fewer but healthy and happy fish in a tank, than to crowd them all in and make them sick and stressed out. 

Remember that this is a process and not something you’re going to do all in one go. In fact, adding fish to your tank will be a slow process, and you have to think about this when choosing and buying your desired fish.

Once you have an idea of the fish you want to keep, you must establish the environment of the tank first. This means getting your lighting right, testing ammonia and nitrate levels, keeping your algae in check, and other details. Once this is all done, you can prepare to add your first fish species.

The first species you add has to be the more docile and unaggressive species. They should be able to spend at least a few weeks to acclimatize to the tank and become comfortable before you add a larger or more territorial species later on.

Consult with an expert to determine the perfect order of which to add fish, and make sure the fish are happy before progressing to the next step. The order of which you get the fish is just as important as choosing the fish itself! 

Enjoy The Process Of Aquarium Maintenance

Choosing the right fish while considering all the other components to a saltwater tank can take time and effort, but the right planning will be the key to giving your tank the life it deserves.

Seeing all your finned friends getting along in a healthy, clean, and enjoyable environment will be a very rewarding feeling you can look forward to after all is said and done. Enjoy, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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