21 Easiest saltwater fish to keep in an aquarium

Here is a list of the 21 easiest saltwater fish to keep in an aquarium. Whether you are a beginner or just looking for that next fish to add to your tank, the fish on this list are known to be hardy, easy to acclimate, and easy to feed in most situations. Let’s take a closer look.


Several species of damselfish are at the top of the list of the most popular saltwater fish—and for a good reason. They are beautiful, inexpensive, and readily available at most aquarium stores. In addition to that, here are a few of the easiest saltwater fish to keep:


  1. Yellowtail Damselfish

yellowtail damselfish


2. Domino Damselfish

domino damselfish

3. Blue devil Damselfish

blue devil damselfish

4. Blue Green Chromis

green chromis


All the world loves a clownfish. They are some of the easiest saltwater fish to keep because they acclimate so well to life in a home aquarium. In fact, most of the individuals you will find at the store were most likely born and raised in an aquarium. The smaller clownfish species can be kept successfully in a 10-gallon or 20-gallon saltwater tank.

Here are a few specific species to consider a bit more closely:

5. Ocellaris clownfish

ocellaris clownfish

6. Tomato clownfish

tomato clownfish

7. Maroon clownfish

maroon clownfish

Fairy Basslets

Small and graceful, the king of the Fairy Basslets and one of the easiest saltwater fish to keep is the Royal Gramma. With a gorgeously purple head and yellowtail, this stunner does well in most aquarium settings.

8. Royal gramma

royal gramma


Two popular Cardinalfish species are perfect for this list of the easiest saltwater fish to keep: Pyjama and Banggai Cardinalfish

9. Pyjama Cardinalfish

Pyjama cardinalfish

10. Banggai Cardinalfish

Banggai cardinalfish
One of my all-time faves


Peaceful, inexpensive, and hardy—many goby species are great in a saltwater aquarium even as small as a 10-gallon tank. Here are 3 of my favorites.

11. Neon goby

Neon goby

12. Diamond goby

Diamond goby

13. Yellow watchman goby

Yellow watchman goby


14. Tailspot blenny

Tailspot blenny


15. Firefish

Firefish dartfish
Easy to keep, as long as you have a lid


Hardy, colorful, and full of personality, several hawkfish species are easy-to-care-for saltwater aquarium fish

16. Flame hawkfish

Flame hawkfish
One of the easiest saltwater fish to keep

17. Longnose hawkfish has to be one of the absolute coolest saltwater fish. Take a look.

Longnose hawkfish


18. Six-line wrasse

Six-line wrasse


Dottybacks have a reputation for being aggressive. Sometimes even downright pugnacious. The two dotty backs on this list are two of the most amazing and easiest saltwater fish to keep.

19. Orchid dottyback 

Orchid dottyback

2o. Royal dottyback

Royal dottyback

Dwarf Angelfish

If you are interested in adding a Dwarf Angelfish to your aquarium, one of the absolute best options is: 

21. Coral beauty angelfish

Coral beauty angelfish
The Coral Beauty Angelfish is one of the easiest saltwater angelfish to keep

Advice on building a community

If you will use this list to plan out your own saltwater aquarium community, here is some advice to consider. 

Damselfish and Clownfish

Between the 7 Damselfish and Clownfish options listed here, you should pick only 1 species. If you decide to go with the damselfish species, you should get either 1 individual, or a small shoal of 5-7, if the tank is large enough. You can get 2 of the same species for clownfish, and they should pair up and may even spawn in your tank. 


You should also be able to make a shoal of PJ cardinals if you want, and you can mix Banggai cardinals and PJ Cardinals, but Banggai’s are aggressive with each other, so it is probably best to have a big shoal of 7, a bonded pair or a lone ranger.


Just pick one, and add them to the tank after your other fish have had some time to establish their territories in the tank first. You don’t want to mix dottyback species and even use caution to keep two of the same species. They may pair up or tear each other apart.


I hope you enjoyed reading about the 21 Easiest saltwater fish to keep. While all of these fish are individually hardy and easy to care for, they may not be the best fish for your tank at this time. Please use the information on this article as a starting point to dive deeper into your research about the care of the individual species you have in mind.

What to read next

Don’t stop there. There is a big ocean out there. Once you have some success caring for the easiest saltwater fish to keep, you can branch out to some moderate-difficulty fish. 

Check out these other great articles for some more inspiration:


Michael, Scott W. Marine Fishes: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species. T.F.H. Publications. Neptune City, NJ 2001.







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