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The Basics of Marine Fish Keeping (Part 1)

To the enthusiastic nature lover having an aquarium at home is one of the most fun hobbies to keep. There are two main types of fish you can keep: freshwater and marine. Many people are into marine fish keeping these days but most are not aware of the huge responsibility, effort, expense in setup and maintenance to have success. Though when your tank is complete any fish keeper will tell you it is worth it.

Nothing beats the relaxing sight of vibrant marine fish swimming around a huge aquarium in your living room. As days and weeks pass by, you’ll notice interesting behaviour of these fish that is unmissable.

Tropical Marine Paradise
Keeping a marine aquarium is not the same as keeping a freshwater tank which is where most beginners fail. A different set of rules apply for marine fish keeping, as marine fish (unlike other fish species), are unable to tolerate many changes in their environment including water salinity, change in temperature, and pH since they come from oceanic waters.

Are you ready for a Marine Tank?

The right information is what you need before getting started on this new hobby. After doing your research and having thoroughly understanding what marine fish keeping involves it’ll be time to decide if you are really up to the challenge. To take up the challenge you have to ask yourself:

  • Are you ready to put in a lot of time and effort in maintaining your aquarium?
  • Are you willing to cover the initial cash outlay and maintenance expenses including electricity?
  • Have you got the patience to learn and practice all the different requirements of feeding and taking care of your marine fish?
  • Can you commit time to regularly maintaining the aquarium so the fish can live a healthy and peaceful life in their new home?

If you decide you want to go for a freshwater tank you can have a look at our guide to setting up a freshwater aquarium here.


Which Marine Fish do I Choose?

There are around 230,000 recorded species of marine life so far. While not all of these are suitable for marine fish keeping there are several choices available for the beginner. When deciding which marine fish to keep, amateurs need to consider their resources, experience, time available to take care of these wonderful pets.

Don’t be overwhelmed with the variety of choices out there as we have narrowed down a few of the popular and easy to care species. Keep in mind that you still have to do further research on them and ask relevant information from the experts at your marine fish shop.

Making sure you have complete information about every aspect  (which we will get into in part 2 and 3 of this guide) is paramount to not having your fish die within a few weeks of setting up your tank, which can be both upsetting and expensive.

Many factors have to be considered including the combination of fish to put together in the aquarium, habitat requirements and characteristics of fish. So without further ado, have a look at some of the popular species known for their unique characteristics and amazing features below:


Blacktip Grouper. (Epinephelus fasciatus).


Part of the family of sea basses and groupers, this species can be found in the Red Sea area to South Africa, Korea and Australia. Its body’s colour can be described as a tie-dyed orange shirt. In addition, the tips of the spine of the dorsal fins are of a prominent black color.


Arabian Angelfish. (Pomacanthus asfur).


This species has an almost perfect striped combination. It is primarily blue, with a tale of yellow and a v-shaped yellow stripe. Arabian angelfish are shy; thus, they need quite a few hiding areas like rocks and corals for security.


Blue and Gold Blenny. (Enchelyurus flavipes)


A reef aquarium is the best home for the blue and gold blenny. One of the visible features of this fish is its interestingly-shaped head. Its ocean blue body with a yellow orange dorsal fin and tale is very noticeable.


Golden Puffer. (Arothron meleagris).


This golden yellow fish actually changes colour in different stages of its life. Puffers like this can inflate their body up to two times their typical size. Another interesting fact is that this puffer is known to easily adapt to its owners and will seemingly be always pleading for a meal.


Four Stripe Damsel. (Dascyllus melanurus ).


It’s almost like the ideal striped fish with alternating black and white vertical bars throughout its body. They are quite aggressive and territorial in nature so other fish that is kept with them in the reef aquarium is of important consideration.


 Fire Goby. (Nemateleotris magnifica).


This fish has layers of shades resembling the colours of a bonfire. It is dark orange at the tail area then continues on to light orange, yellow and white colours. This interesting specie is docile and is best kept in reef aquariums.


Mandarinfish.(Synchiropus splendidus).


Tropical colours of blue, orange and yellow are very visible in this member of the dragonet family. Although this scale-less fish from the Pacific area is non-aggressive, it is advised not to put two males together as they will fight. Male/female pairs are suitable for your marine aquarium.


 Banana Wrasse.(Thalassoma lutescens).


Also known as Yellow Wrasse or Sunset Wrasse, this bright yellow fish is found at the Pacific Ocean. Just like other aggressive fish, it tends to jump out of the tank so a tight lid is recommended for your tank. As it grows, the female species turns yellow and the males turn blue. However, the facial and fin markings remain.


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