COMMONLY AVAILABLE REEF-SAFE FISH & INVERTEBRATES

Commonly Available Reef-Safe Fish & Invertebrates
Published October 20, 2009
Learn about commonly available reef-safe fish and invertebrates that are good candidates for your reef aquarium.
We all know how much hard work and money it takes to get a quality saltwater aquarium set up. Now, imagine your dismay if every time you peeked into your aquarium, you noticed that your corals were being picked at or ripped apart.  What could be causing this?  The probable answer is that some animal in your tank, be it a fish or invertebrate, is not reef-safe.  In other words, it will eat or kill your coral by inflicting continuous damage.  Below is a listing of commonly available reef-safe fish and invertebrates.  While the fish below are generally considered reef-safe, some do require very specific care (and some should only be kept by experience aquarist) so you should, as always, research all animals carefully before adding them to your tank. Also realize that there is always variability in the personalities of any species so you should always watch your specific individual to ensure it is not harming anything.
 
Readily Available Reef-Safe Fish


 
Japanese Swallowtail Angelfish

Angelfish:

Smaller species of angelfish are generally considered reef-safe if kept in a tank with plenty of algae to graze on.  If algae is not readily available, you must keep them well-fed so they do not begin to pick on corals.  The Japanese Swallowtail Angelfish is the most reef-safe in this category.


Percula Clownfish
 

Clownfish:

These animals are a favorite reef-safe fish in the hobby.  Some species, such as the False Percula Clownfish or Percula Clownfish provide no threat to tankmates. However, be sure to evaluate the other tank inhabitants before purchasing some species like a Clarks Clownfish or Cinnamon Clownfish, as they may find small ornamental shrimps a tasty treat.


Blue Spot Shrimp Goby

Gobies:

There are three types of goby fish: small gobies, shrimp gobies, and sand sifting gobies.  Their diet varies between species but includes nutrients found in the substrate or brine shrimp.  Thankfully, none of the varieties are fond of coral so that makes the goby a prime choice for reef tanks.

Yellow Tang

Tangs (Surgeonfish):

These beautiful fish are a good choice for reef tanks as they are herbivores and consume an algae-based diet.  Tangs do have a few drawbacks in that certain species can be very aggressive to other members of their species and can easily outgrow a small tank.  They also have a high incidence rate of contracting ich and HLLE (head and lateral line erosion).  The Yellow Tang may be one of the better choices for a tank with multiple inhabitants as it generally does not bother other fish.  If you are going to keep multiple yellow tangs, introduce them to the tank at the same time to promote compatibility.

Readily Available Reef-Safe Invertebrates

To keep your clean-up crew from ridding your tank of coral, stick with the following guide.

Dwarf Yellow Tip Hermit Crab

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are a great choice for janitorial services in reef tanksif you do your homework.  Some species are excellent cleaners and some will destroy your coral and fish if given a chance.  A few species that are considered safe for reef tanks are: Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab, Electric Orange Hermit Crab, Halloween Hermit Crab, and Left-Handed Hermit Crab.  These animals will all enjoy feasting on algae and sifting the sand in your tank as well.

Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp

Shrimp

These interesting animals are ornamental and useful in a tank.  In addition to being scavengers and ridding your tank of detritus, some even perform fish cleaning services, eating infected tissue and parasites off of them.  There are many good choices for inclusion into a reef tank, but be sure they are listed as reef-safe.  Many varieties consider coral a delicacy.  Some reef-safe shrimp species are: Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp, Large Bright Red Fire Shrimp, Coral Banded Shrimp, Camel Shrimp, and Pederson Shrimp.

 
Large Tonga Nassarius Snails


Snails

In addition to being an integral part of a regular cleaning crew, some snails are also good at cleaning troublesome outbreaks such as red or brown slime or hairy varieties of algae.  Peaceful animals, they spend their days munching on algae and sifting sand (which also helps to aerate your substrate).  The Tiger Sand Conch, Astrea Snails, Banded Trochus Snails, Zebra Striped Turbo Snails, and Large Tonga Nassarius Snails are all perfect varieties to choose for reef tanks.


Fromia Sea Star

Starfish

While this is not an animal that comes immediately to mind when choosing a cleanup crew, a starfish is an efficient and hardworking cleaner.  Some varieties are also good sand sifters, in addition to being a pretty addition to the tank.  In general, all brittle stars and serpent stars are reef-safe.  Other choices include the Fromia Sea Star, Feather Starfish, Red Bali Star, Linckia Stars, and Orange Sea Star.


Bright Red Flame Scallop


Sea Scallops

While scallops do not perform tank janitorial duties, they certainly deserve a mention for being an attractive invertebrate that poses no threat to coral or fish.  Two readily available scallops are the Bright Red Flame Scallop and Electric Flame Scallops.  These animals are very hard to care for, so please use caution and do your homework to keep these successfully.

Conclusion:

Please keep in mind that there are individual differences within any animal species.  The fish and invertebrates mentioned above will give you a general guideline when choosing reef-safe tank inhabitants, but rogue members exist in every species.  If a specific animal in your tank suddenly decides they would like a little coral crudit, remove immediately before any more damage can be inflicted.
comments powered by Disqus

Most Recent Forum Discussions

  • Silver Dollars + Plants - By lumi, 06/25/17 06:37:04 pm (1 replies)

    Is this a bad combo and doomed to fail? Or are there some plants that are hardy enough to sustain some damage from the silver ...

  • What helps with a snail overpopulation problem? - By lumi, 06/25/17 06:06:44 pm (2 replies)

    Is it a myth that water changes help?

  • Fish food supplier - By friend_of_fish, 06/25/17 12:42:35 pm (0 replies)

    My supplier has closed store so I'm looking for a new place to buy a variety of fish foods from. Petco is costing too much ...

MOST RECENT ARTICLES

The Bright and Colorful Discus Fish: Spring 2017 Aquarium Trends
THE BRIGHT AND COLORFUL DISCUS FISH: SPRING 2017 AQUARIUM TRENDS
Discus fish are some of the most brightly colored fish in the animal kingdom.
Do You Know What You Are Feeding Your Fish?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE FEEDING YOUR FISH?
Not all aquarium fish food is created equal.
What You Need to Know About pH in Marine Aquariums
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PH IN MARINE AQUARIUMS
Maintaining proper water quality in your tank is essential but many aquarium hobbyists overlook one important aspect - pH.

SALTWATER AQUARIUM ARTICLES

STOCKING THE TANK

The fish you choose to stock your tank is not a decision that should be made lightly. The articles in this category will help you understand the basics of fish compatibility and will provide you with other information you need to make an informed decision when stocking your tank.

What's That? The Top 10 Strangest Looking Saltwater Fish
WHAT'S THAT? THE TOP 10 STRANGEST LOOKING SALTWATER FISH
There are some odd=looking animals out there but these ten saltwater fish are among the strangest.
Why Are Tangs Some of the Best Fish for Reef Tanks?
WHY ARE TANGS SOME OF THE BEST FISH FOR REEF TANKS?
Tangs are not just some of the most brightly colored species of tropical saltwater fish - they are also great additions to the reef tank.
Marine Shrimp for the Saltwater or Reef Tank
MARINE SHRIMP FOR THE SALTWATER OR REEF TANK
Marine shrimp can be a useful addition to the saltwater tank - just be sure to pick the right species.
Keeping Moray Eels in the Marine Tank
KEEPING MORAY EELS IN THE MARINE TANK
Moray eels can be a challenge to keep in the home aquarium but they are well worth it.
Top Recommendations for Tank-Raised Saltwater Fish
TOP RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TANK-RAISED SALTWATER FISH
When purchasing saltwater aquarium fish, you need to think about whether the fish are tank-raised or captive-bred.
Hermit Crabs in Saltwater Tanks
HERMIT CRABS IN SALTWATER TANKS
Hermit crabs do more than just add decoration to the saltwater tank -- they can also help to keep your tank clean.
Saltwater Fish Article Database
SALTWATER FISH ARTICLE DATABASE
Articles on dozens of saltwater fish and appropriate care.
Guide for Keeping Anemones in a Reef Tank
GUIDE FOR KEEPING ANEMONES IN A REEF TANK
Keeping anemones in a reef tank can be a challenge if you are not fully prepared.
Stocking Salt Water Reef Tanks
STOCKING SALT WATER REEF TANKS
Learn how to select the right quantity and combination of fish for your saltwater aquarium.
Keeping Lionfish in the Home Aquarium
KEEPING LIONFISH IN THE HOME AQUARIUM
The lionfish is a beautiful but deadly fish that makes a unique addition to the saltwater aquarium.
Sea Cucumbers for Reef Tanks
SEA CUCUMBERS FOR REEF TANKS
Sea cucumbers are found throughout the ocean but they are a popular addition to saltwater reef tanks.
Selecting and Caring for Saltwater Angelfish
SELECTING AND CARING FOR SALTWATER ANGELFISH
Saltwater angelfish are some of the most colorful saltwater fish available.
Keeping and Breeding Mandarinfish
KEEPING AND BREEDING MANDARINFISH
Mandarinfish are a small, colorful species of saltwater aquarium fish.
Tank-Raised Fish for Saltwater Aquariums
TANK-RAISED FISH FOR SALTWATER AQUARIUMS
Stocking the saltwater aquarium can be an exciting challenge, especially when you have so many options to choose from.
Clownfish in the Reef Aquarium
CLOWNFISH IN THE REEF AQUARIUM
Clownfish are one of the most recognizable types of saltwater aquarium fish.
What Are Good Saltwater Fish For Beginners
WHAT ARE GOOD SALTWATER FISH FOR BEGINNERS
What makes a saltwater fish a good candidate for beginners?
Caring for Saltwater Gobies
CARING FOR SALTWATER GOBIES
The Goby family is one of the largest families of marine fishes, having over 2,000 unique species.
The Secret to Keeping Seahorses
THE SECRET TO KEEPING SEAHORSES
If you are looking for a unique inhabitant to add to your saltwater tank, consider the seahorse.
The Benefits of Snails in the Saltwater Tank
THE BENEFITS OF SNAILS IN THE SALTWATER TANK
While snails are often viewed as a nuisance in the freshwater tank, they can serve a valuable purpose in the saltwater aquarium.
Saltwater fish are known for being some of the most colorful creatures in the world.
UNDERSTANDING THE COLORATION OF SALTWATER FISH
Have you ever been dazzled by the bright colors and bold patterns of a school of saltwater fish?
Sea urchins are a great addition to the saltwater tank.
SEA URCHINS IN THE SALTWATER TANK
If you are looking for a unique invertebrate to add to your saltwater tank, consider the sea urchin.
The Achilles tang is one of the most popular tang species.
TIPS FOR CARING FOR TANGS PROPERLY
Tangs are a group of fish that make excellent additions to the saltwater tank.
If you purchase your saltwater fish online you may have a larger variety of species to choose from.
THE BENEFITS OF PURCHASING SALTWATER FISH ONLINE
If you are thinking about buying some new fish for your saltwater tank, think about purchasing them online!
Commonly Available Reef-Safe Fish & Invertebrates
COMMONLY AVAILABLE REEF-SAFE FISH & INVERTEBRATES
Learn about commonly available reef-safe fish and invertebrates that are good candidates for your reef aquarium.
Saltwater Species That Should Not be Kept by Beginners (and Sometimes not Even by the Experienced)
SALTWATER SPECIES THAT SHOULD NOT BE KEPT BY BEGINNERS (AND SOMETIMES NOT EVEN BY THE EXPERIENCED)
Learn about saltwater animals that beginners (and sometimes experts) should avoid keeping.
Establishing up a Clean-up Crew in Your Saltwater Aquarium
ESTABLISHING UP A CLEAN-UP CREW IN YOUR SALTWATER AQUARIUM
Learn how to properly select and establish a clean-up crew in a saltwater or reef aquarium.
Read more articles (26) Aquarium Setup (9)
Saltwater Aquariums
SALTWATER AQUARIUMS
A brief introduction to saltwater aquariums.
Getting The Tank Ready
GETTING THE TANK READY
Creating an ecosystem.
Stocking a Brackish Aquarium
STOCKING A BRACKISH AQUARIUM
A brackish aquarium is an exciting challenge for the aquarium hobbyist.
Types of Saltwater Tanks: Fish-Only, FOWLR and Reef Tanks
TYPES OF SALTWATER TANKS: FISH-ONLY, FOWLR AND REEF TANKS
There are several different types of saltwater aquariums to choose from and each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Setting Up A Saltwater Tank System
SETTING UP A SALTWATER TANK SYSTEM
What to Consider before Starting.
Handy Aquarium Accessories and Devices
HANDY AQUARIUM ACCESSORIES AND DEVICES
There are many accessories and handy devices which can make your life as an aquarium hobbyist easier.
Preparing Saltwater for your Marine Tank
PREPARING SALTWATER FOR YOUR MARINE TANK
Setting up and maintaining a marine tank can be a challenging experience and preparing your saltwater correctly is one of the most important tasks.
Balloon mollies make great additions to the brackish tank.
HOW TO START A BRACKISH TANK
If you are looking for a new challenge as an aquarium hobbyist, try cultivating a brackish tank.
Saltwater versus Freshwater Aquariums
SALTWATER VERSUS FRESHWATER AQUARIUMS
Learn the arguments for choosing to set-up either a freshwater or saltwater aquarium.
Aquarium Maintenance (18)
Getting Rid of Aiptasia in Your Reef Aquarium
GETTING RID OF AIPTASIA IN YOUR REEF AQUARIUM
Learn about aiptasia in the reef aquarium and how to get rid of it.
What You Need to Know About pH in Marine Aquariums
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PH IN MARINE AQUARIUMS
Maintaining proper water quality in your tank is essential but many aquarium hobbyists overlook one important aspect - pH.
Why is Water Flow So Important in a Reef Tank?
WHY IS WATER FLOW SO IMPORTANT IN A REEF TANK?
Cultivating a thriving reef tank can be a challenge with all of the requirements you must meet.
How to Solve Common Saltwater Tank Problems
HOW TO SOLVE COMMON SALTWATER TANK PROBLEMS
Cultivating a thriving saltwater tank can be a challenge but it is also incredibly rewarding.
Saltwater and Reef Tank Cycling
SALTWATER AND REEF TANK CYCLING
Tips on cycling your fishtank.
Maintaining Your Saltwater Tank
MAINTAINING YOUR SALTWATER TANK
Tips for maintaining a saltwater fish tank.
Choosing the Correct Temperature for a Marine Aquarium
CHOOSING THE CORRECT TEMPERATURE FOR A MARINE AQUARIUM
One of the most important things you must to do ensure the health of your marine tank is to achieve and maintain the ideal temperature.
Maintenance Schedule for Reef Tanks
MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR REEF TANKS
Maintaining a reef tank can be a challenge but as long as you keep up with your routine maintenance tasks, you should have no problem.
Why Do Fish Disappear from the Saltwater Tank?
WHY DO FISH DISAPPEAR FROM THE SALTWATER TANK?
There is nothing as heart-breaking as losing a fish but it can be even more devastating when the fish simply disappears.
How to Deal with Marine Fungus in the Saltwater Aquarium
HOW TO DEAL WITH MARINE FUNGUS IN THE SALTWATER AQUARIUM
Fungal spores are present in all aquariums but, if you are not careful, they can become a problem in the saltwater tank.
Salinity Requirements in a Saltwater Aquarium
SALINITY REQUIREMENTS IN A SALTWATER AQUARIUM
The key to maintaining a healthy saltwater aquarium is to strike the right balance in the salinity of your tank water.
Kalkwasser for the Marine Tank
KALKWASSER FOR THE MARINE TANK
Maintaining proper calcium levels is an important part of keeping your marine tank healthy.
Dealing with Hard Water in the Saltwater Tank
DEALING WITH HARD WATER IN THE SALTWATER TANK
When it comes to maintaining a healthy saltwater tank, water quality is extremely important.
The Dangers of High Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate
THE DANGERS OF HIGH AMMONIA, NITRITE AND NITRATE
Water quality is extremely important in maintaining a saltwater tank.
Marine algae can be beneficial in the saltwater tank.
THE BENEFITS OF ALGAE IN SALTWATER TANKS
Many aquarium hobbyists assume that algae in the aquarium can only be bad.
Learn how to modify the pH in your saltwater tank so you can correct pH problems if they occur.
HOW TO MODIFY PH IN A SALTWATER TANK
The pH level in your saltwater tank is incredibly important for the health and vitality of your tank.
What NOT to do with a Saltwater Tank
WHAT NOT TO DO WITH A SALTWATER TANK
Learn what "not" to do when starting out with your saltwater fish or reef tank.
How to Remove a Mantis Shrimp From a Saltwater Aquarium
HOW TO REMOVE A MANTIS SHRIMP FROM A SALTWATER AQUARIUM
In this article you will receive an overview of what mantis shrimp are, how they can impact your saltwater aquarium, and how to remove them properly.
Reef Tanks (13)
Tips for Using Rockwork in Saltwater and Reef Aquariums
TIPS FOR USING ROCKWORK IN SALTWATER AND REEF AQUARIUMS
Building a beautiful saltwater tank landscape out of rock is a challenge but with some helpful tips you can make it work.
The Top 5 Most Colorful Corals for a Saltwater Tank
THE TOP 5 MOST COLORFUL CORALS FOR A SALTWATER TANK
With more than 2,000 different species of coral out there, how do you choose the right option for your tank?
Reef Aquariums: Is Bigger Really Better?
REEF AQUARIUMS: IS BIGGER REALLY BETTER?
Cultivating a reef tank is an exciting but challenging task - learn more about choosing the right size for your reef tank.
Beginner Coral Species: Low-Light Corals
BEGINNER CORAL SPECIES: LOW-LIGHT CORALS
Keeping corals in a saltwater aquarium can be challenging but these low-light species are perfect for beginners.
How to Care for Marine Blue Sponges
HOW TO CARE FOR MARINE BLUE SPONGES
The blue sponge makes a great addition to the marine tank.
Recommended Species for Nano Tanks
RECOMMENDED SPECIES FOR NANO TANKS
Cultivating a nano tank can be an exciting challenge but unless you choose the right fish for your tank, you may be in trouble.
Bristle Worms in the Marine Tank
BRISTLE WORMS IN THE MARINE TANK
Dealing with pests is an inescapable part of cultivating a marine tank.
Common Myths and Problems Regarding Nano Reef Tanks
COMMON MYTHS AND PROBLEMS REGARDING NANO REEF TANKS
Cultivating a nano reef tank can be an exciting challenge.
Feeding Corals —  Keeping Your Saltwater Invertebrates Healthy
FEEDING CORALS — KEEPING YOUR SALTWATER INVERTEBRATES HEALTHY
If you want to keep your saltwater or reef tank healthy, you need to learn the basics of feeding corals.
Types of Coral for Reef Tanks
TYPES OF CORAL FOR REEF TANKS
Stocking a reef tank can be a challenge because there are so many different types of coral to choose from.
Set-up Guide for a Reef Tank
SET-UP GUIDE FOR A REEF TANK
If you have ever considered starting a reef tank, read this setup guide to make sure you start your reef tank off right.
A nano reef is a miniature reef environment less than 30 gallons in size.
WHAT IS A NANO REEF?
Whether you are looking for a new challenge as a saltwater aquarium enthusiast or you are trying your hand at a reef tank for the first time, a nano reef is a great way to go.
Reef Aquariums
REEF AQUARIUMS
An overview of the reef aquarium along with a short history.
Aquarium Lighting (3)
UV Sterilizers for Reef Aquariums
UV STERILIZERS FOR REEF AQUARIUMS
A UV sterilizer is a valuable piece of equipment to add to your reef tank or fish-only saltwater aquarium.
Tips for Lighting a Reef Tank
TIPS FOR LIGHTING A REEF TANK
When it comes to maintaining a thriving reef tank the type of lighting system you choose is incredibly important.
Saltwater Aquarium Lighting and Heating
SALTWATER AQUARIUM LIGHTING AND HEATING
Kind of lights you need.
Heating and Filtration (8)
Saltwater Aquarium Filtration
SALTWATER AQUARIUM FILTRATION
The type of filtration system you choose for your saltwater aquarium is incredibly important.
Wavemakers for Saltwater Tanks
WAVEMAKERS FOR SALTWATER TANKS
If you want to keep your saltwater tank healthy, you need to consider the ideal level of water flow.
Reverse Osmosis for the Saltwater Tank
REVERSE OSMOSIS FOR THE SALTWATER TANK
If you want to keep a healthy and thriving saltwater tank, you need to start with high-quality water.
Foam Build-up on Saltwater Tank Surface
FOAM BUILD-UP ON SALTWATER TANK SURFACE
Foam build-up is a common problem in the saltwater tank.
Common Problems with Heating in Saltwater Tanks
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH HEATING IN SALTWATER TANKS
Maintaining a stable water temperature in your saltwater tank is important for the health and well-being of your fish.
An aquarium sump can simplify the maintenance of your saltwater tank.
WHAT IS AN AQUARIUM SUMP?
If you are new to the aquarium hobby you may not be familiar with the term "sump".
How to Keep Your Saltwater Aquarium from Overheating
HOW TO KEEP YOUR SALTWATER AQUARIUM FROM OVERHEATING
Learn how to keep your saltwater aquarium from overheating.
What is Protein Skimming?
WHAT IS PROTEIN SKIMMING?
Learn about protein skimming, why it's important, and which aquarists should use it.
Nutrition and Feeding (6)
Top Commercial Foods for Saltwater Fish
TOP COMMERCIAL FOODS FOR SALTWATER FISH
What you feed your saltwater aquarium fish will play a major role in determining their health and vitality.
Tips for Getting Fussy Fish to Eat
TIPS FOR GETTING FUSSY FISH TO EAT
Feeding saltwater aquarium fish can be tricky, especially when your fish refuse to eat.
How to Raise Brine Shrimp
HOW TO RAISE BRINE SHRIMP
Brine shrimp are an excellent source of protein for aquarium fish and they are very easy to raise at home.
Live Foods for Marine Fish
LIVE FOODS FOR MARINE FISH
Feeding your fish a proper diet is the key to keeping them healthy.
Nutritional Needs of Saltwater Aquarium Fish
NUTRITIONAL NEEDS OF SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH
In order to keep your saltwater aquarium fish healthy you need to understand and meet their basic nutritional needs.
Many saltwater aquarium fish enjoy the addition of fresh vegetables to their diets.
TIPS FOR FEEDING SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH
What you feed your fish will determine whether or not their reach their full potential.
Saltwater Fish Diseases (5)
How to Treat Saltwater Aquarium Parasites with Freshwater
HOW TO TREAT SALTWATER AQUARIUM PARASITES WITH FRESHWATER
Parasites can quickly become a major problem in the saltwater aquarium if you do not address the issue immediately.
Common Saltwater Aquarium Fish Diseases
COMMON SALTWATER AQUARIUM FISH DISEASES
No matter how hard you try, you cannot completely protect your fish from falling ill.
Good Medications to Keep on Hand
GOOD MEDICATIONS TO KEEP ON HAND
In the event that your fish become ill it is important that you take action to begin a treatment regimen as soon as possible.
How to Deal with Marine Ich in the Saltwater Aquarium
HOW TO DEAL WITH MARINE ICH IN THE SALTWATER AQUARIUM
Marine Ich is a common disease affecting saltwater aquarium fish and, unless you know how to deal with it, it can spread quickly throughout your tank.
Though many saltwater fish diseases are treatable, the best option is to prevent your fish from becoming sick at all.
HOW TO PREVENT SALTWATER FISH DISEASES
There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as losing one of your fish to disease.
Aquarium Decorations (3)
Live rock is the foundation for a thriving saltwater aquarium environment.
CREATING YOUR OWN LIVE ROCK FOR SALTWATER TANKS
Live rock is the foundation for any thriving saltwater tank and it is the base for saltwater aquarium decor.
How to Cure Your Live Rock Before Placing it in Your Aquarium
HOW TO CURE YOUR LIVE ROCK BEFORE PLACING IT IN YOUR AQUARIUM
Learn how to properly cure live rock before placing it in your tank.