There are often fish purchases from members on the threads that could have been prevented. Many fish in this hobby are simply impossible to care for in captivity and despite the best efforts of the fishkeeper the fish will perish. This often happens slowly over the course of 3 to 4 months, as the fish slowly starves to death, or suffers from stress that occurred in capture and shipping, which ultimately leads to disease and death.
There are areas on this forum where you can research specific fish. There is a sticky which has run for some time, located here Fish Not Suitable for Beginners
. There is also the Tropical Fish Profiles area, located here Tropical Fish Profiles
. While both of these areas provide a nice reference for many fish, there appears to be a need for more in depth information.
My goal with this article is to provide my opinion on most fish which you may find available at the LFS. What you are getting here is only my personal opinion, based on my personal care at home, my years at the LFS, several years in the aquarium maintenance industry, and nearly 20 years of internet forum and chat room discussions with hobbyists all over the world.
In every case below I will not be attempting to provide you with care information. If you are looking for information such as dietary requirements, tank size, growth rates, aggression, reef compatibility, etc, then this article will not provide that. To do so would require a book. This article will only attempt to describe how difficult the specific fish are to care for.
If you need help creating a stocking list for your particular aquarium size, I suggest reading this article: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...ng-list-38579/
If you have questions about a specific fish, post on the threads here: Saltwater Fish
Lets get started. I will use these ratings: Easy, Average, Difficult, Very Difficult, Expert only, Believed to be impossible. I suggest in your first year of saltwater fish keeping, that you stick with Easy to Average to keep fish. Fish rated Difficult or higher will require some years of experience WITH MARINE FISH, in most cases. In every case, I make the assumption that you purchase a healthy fish and are placing it into a mature aquarium environment of appropriate size, after a quarantine period. Angelfish Dwarf / Centropyge Angelfish
There are many Centropyge Angelfish available to the hobby. In this genus, you can not generalize. Some are very easy to care for, while others are nearly impossible.
Flameback Angel - Easy.
Cherub Angel - Easy.
Golden Angel - Experts only.
BiColor Angel - Very difficult.
Coral Beauty Angel - Easy.
Eibli Angel - Average.
Rusty Angel - Average.
Lemon Peel - Difficult.
False Lemonpeel - Average.
Flame - Easy.
Multifasciatus - Believed to be impossible.
Midnight - Average.
Potters - Average.
Keyhole - Difficult. Apolemichthys Genus of Angelfish
Bandit Angel - Difficult.
Flagfin - Difficult. (A. trimaculatus)
All others should be treated as Very Difficult. Chaetodontoplus Genus of Angelfish
Conspicuous - Very Difficult.
Scribbled - Very Difficult.
All others should be treated as Expert only. Genicanthus Genus of Angelfish
All should be treated as Difficult. Holacanthus Genus of Angelfish
Queen - Average.
Blue - Average.
King / Passers - Average.
All others should be treated as Difficult. Pomacanthus Genus of Angelfish
Asfur Angel - Difficult.
Annularis / Blue Ring - Difficult.
Gray - Easy.
Emperor - Difficult.
Majestic / Blue Girdled - Difficult.
French - Easy.
Koran - Average.
Blue Face - Difficult.
All others should be treated as Very Difficult.
Regal Angelfish (Red Sea) - Very Difficult.
Regal Angelfish (all others) - Believed to be impossible. Clownfish
Ocellaris (Tank Raised) - Easy
Ocellaris (Wild Caught) - Average
Percula (Tank Raised) - Easy
Percula (Wild Caught) - Average
Clarkii (Tank Raised) - Easy
Clarkii (Wild Caught) - Average
Fire (Tank Raised) - Easy
Fire (Wild Caught) - Average
Tomato (Tank Raised) - Easy
Tomato (Wild Caught) - Average
Saddle (Tank Raised) - Easy
Saddle (Wild Caught) - Difficult
Skunk (Tank Raised) - Easy
Skunk (Wild Caught) - Difficult
Maroon (Tank Raised) - Easy
Maroon (Wild Caught) - Average Damselfish
Blue Devil - Easy
Yellow Tail - Easy
Humbug - Easy
Brown Humbug - Easy
Domino - Easy
Garibaldi - Cold Water Fish should not be kept in the home aquarium.
Canary - Average
Sergeant Major - Easy
Bowtie - Easy Pomacentrus genus
Allen's - Average
Neon - Average
Ocellated - Average Chromis
Green - Easy
Blue - Easy
All others - Average Tangs Acanthurus Genus
Achilles - Expert only
Powder Brown - Very Difficult
Powder Blue - Very Difficult
Clown - Very Difficult
White Check - Very Difficult
Orange Shoulder - Difficult
Mimic - Difficult
Sohal - Average
Convict - Average
Hippo / Regal / Dori / Paracanthurus hepatus
- Average Ctenochaetus Genus
Chevron - Average to Easy
Kohl - Average to Easy
Tomini - Average to Easy Naso Genus
Naso (Lipstick) - Average
Unicorn - Difficult
Vlamingi - Difficult Zebrasoma Genus
Sailfin (Z. desjardini) - Easy
Sailfin (Z. veliferum) - Average
Purple - Average
Yellow - Average
Scopas - AVerage Morish Idol -
Expert only Triggerfish
Undulated - Easy - keep them wet, add a little salt, and you are set.
Clown - Average
Indian Black - Easy
Pink Tail - Average
Niger - Easy
Jigsaw - Average
Rhino - Easy
Picasso - Easy
Bursa - Easy
Crosshatch varieties (Xanthichthys genus) - Easy Filefish
- Expert only Wrasses
- the Wrasses are best considered by genus, with a wide range of difficulty of care from one genus to the next.
Banana Wrasse varieties - Average
Bird Wrasses - Very difficult
Cleaner - Believed to be impossible
Coris - Difficult (wild caught)
Coris - Easy (aquacultured)
Fairy varieties - Average
Flasher varieties - Average
Leopard varieties - Difficult
Six Line & Four Line- Easy
Mystery Wrasse - Average
Possum - Difficult
Dragon - Very difficult
Tamarin varieites (Anampses genus
) - Average Halichoeres genus
- Difficult Anthias Pseudanthias genus
- Difficult (Most Anthias for sale at the LFS will be from this genus) Holanthias genus
- Difficult Luzonichthys
- Very Difficult Basslets
Royal Gramma - Average
BlackCap - Average
Candy Basslets - Average
Chalk Bass - Average Blennies
BiColor - Average
Midas - Average
Yellow Tail Black - Average
Sailfin / Lawnmower - Average
Forktail Fang - Average
Striped Fang - Average
Red Spot (Istiblennius chrysospilos) - Difficult
Convict Blenny - Average Boxfish
- Expert only Cowfish
- Expert only Butterflies
Black Vegabond (Chaetodon decussatus) - Difficult
Vegabond (Chaetondon vegabundus) - Expert Only
Threadfin (C. augiga) - Average
Kleins (C. kleini) - Average - by far the best Butterfly for the home aquarium.
Racoon - Average
Dot Dash (C. pelewensis) - Difficult
Copperband - Difficult
Longnose - Difficult
Heniochus - Difficult
Pearlscale Butterfly / Red Sea Pearlscale (C. paucifasciatus) - Average
Cheveron / Madagascar / "Pearscale" (C. madagascariensis) - Very Difficult
Most all other species - Expert Only to Impossible Cardinals
Pyjama - Easy
Kaudern / Banggai (captive bred) - Easy
Kaudern / Banggai (wild caught) - Very Difficult
Red Stripe - Average Squirrelfish
- Average Mandarins / Dragonets
Green Mandarin - Very Difficult
Spotted Mandarin - Very Difficult
Scooter Blenny - Very Difficult Eels
- remember folks, this assumes you have the correct tank size!!!
Snowflake - Easy
Blue Ribbon - Believed to be Impossible
Green Moray - Average
Zebra Moray - Average Goatfish
- Average Gobies
- care difficulty primarily based on genus Amblyeleotris
genus (Shrimp Gobies) - Difficult Amblygobius
genus (includes the Rainfords Goby) - Average Cryptocentrus
genus (Watchford varieties) - Average
Neon Gobies - Difficult Groupers
- Again, watch your tank size!
Marine Betta - Difficult
Panther Grouper - Easy
Lantern Bass - Easy Hawkfish
Scarlet / Red - Easy
Falco / Coral - Easy
Longnose - Average
Red Barred - Easy
Arc Eye - Easy Hog Fish
Cuban - Easy
Spanish - Easy
Lyretail - Average
Diana - Average
Candy Cane - Average Jawfish
- Average Sand Perch
- Average Lion Fish
- Assuming you can get it to eat dried foods, which requires patience.
Dwarf Lion - Average
Zebra Lion - Average
FuManchu - Difficult
Volitan - Easy
Radiata - Easy
Antennata - Easy Scorpion Fish
- Extremely toxic, often deadly, and not suitable for an aquarium. See Frogfish as an alternative. Frog Fish / Anglers -
Average, assuming you get them to eat prepared foods. Dottybacks / Pseudochromis
BiColor / False Gramma - Easy
Neon (tank raised) - Easy - just keep it wet.
Neon (wild caught) - Average
PurpleBack - Easy
Orchid / Fridmani - Easy Pufferfish
- Please be aware that Pufferfish which are fed Freeze Dried Krill are far more difficult to sustain in captivity. Do not purchase a Puffer which has been eating Freeze Dried Krill at the LFS unless you are prepared to hand feed the fish to ween it on to other foods.
Porcupine - Average to Difficult
Spiney Box - Expert only
Sharpnose varieties - Easy Arothron
genus (Dogface sp.) - Difficult due to long term dental needs. Very hardy. Rabbitfish
Foxface - Average
Orange Spotted Foxface - Difficult
Doliatus - Average Sea Horses
- Expert only, considered impossible to keep long term by many experts. Pipefish
- Expert only. Snappers
- Average (appropriate tank size needed!) Batfish
- Average (Appropriate tank size needed! As in, public aquarium tank size!!) Sweet Lips
- Expert only. Striped Catfish
(Plotosus lineatus) - Average
I believe this to be a complete list of all fish which I've seen offered at the LFS over the years. If I'm forgetting anything, just shoot me a message and I'll add it to the list. Happy fishkeeping!