Looking for a shy saltwater fish? Read more to find out 6 great options for your reef aquarium.
6 Shy saltwater fish you may want to add to your tank
One common trait that the most popular and common saltwater fish share is a certain boldness in the aquarium. I’m not talking about aggressiveness, per se, but rather a lack of skittishness that keeps the fish comfortably swimming in your tank.
But if you have the patience to sit and watch, you may be missing out on some of the more subtle beauties in the tank.
Why are some saltwater fish shy?
Why are some fish shyer than others? Here are four observations:
1. Sleeping habits
Some fish are either nocturnal (which means they sleep all day and are active at night) and other fish are diurnal, which is the lite beer of being nocturnal.
If you have a fish that is naturally more active at night, under the cover of darkness, you will notice that they tend to hide from the bright white lights above your tank.
2. Live in deep water
Another thing I’ve noticed is that some of the deepwater species tend to be shyer in our reef tanks. Deepwater species can seem out of place in the bright shallows of our reef tanks.
Fishes that are being bullied or harassed by a more aggressive fish will also be shy and hide more. I noticed this issue when I tried to add a few more flame cardinal fish to my tank. I ordered them online—but instead of flame cardinalfish, I was sent 2 Ruby Red cardinalfish—which were terrorized into not coming out by the flame cardinal. This is the same flame cardinal fish I was trying to coax out of hiding, by adding some more fish of its ‘kind’. Well, the trick worked, the flame cardinal came out of hiding but caused some havoc in the process.
4. Sick or injured
Sick and injured fish will also hide and try not to be seen until they recover. One surefire sign that things are going wrong for a fish is if you observe a normally bold, brash fish suddenly cowering.
Enough about why the fish are shy, let’s get to the main event and check out 6 fun, attractive, but shy saltwater fish you might want to add to your tank–if you have the time, space and patience.
6 Shy Saltwater Fish
These fish are a beautiful bright red color and they have very large eyes, making them quite cool to look at. But since they generally prefer to be out and about at night, you may find them to be a bit shy when first introduced to your tank.
Yellow watchman goby
My little yellow watchman goby is always hiding among the reef rubble. Sometimes I wonder if what the little guy eats, because I rarely see him, even at feeding time
I once had a purple firefish that was always hiding in the rockwork. Unfortunately, the most I saw of him was the last time I saw him when I found him on the floor. They are jumpers, I left the lid open after feeding late the night before. If you plan to keep this fish, make sure you have a good lid or net to prevent jumping.
The engineer gobies in my tank are a lot of fun—with all that digging they do—but they don’t like to be seen. They come out of their burrows for feeding and seem to immediately slink right back in.
The yellow-headed jawfish I had in my tanks always seemed deathly afraid of becoming a meal. They would nervously pop into and out of their burrows, coming up mostly just to grab a morsel to eat out of the water column.
Marine betta (Comet)
The Marine betta is the king or queen of the shy saltwater aquarium. Stunningly beautiful but also stunningly shy.
Learning more about other shy saltwater fish species
Looking for other shy saltwater fish species? Check out these species while you’re here:
Have you kept these or any other shy saltwater fish? Which is your favorite and why?