Beautiful Fish – Top 10 Most Beautiful Saltwater Fish Available

Saltwater fish are beautiful fish. A number of us get into the hobby loving the site of these fish in public aquariums or seeing a friend’s aquarium. We have compiled a list of the 10 most beautiful fish for saltwater aquariums.

In determining our list, we looked at several factors.

  • Availability – Is this an extremely rare fish or readily available?
  • Care – We removed any expert-only fish from this list — sorry Moorish Idol
  • Price – We factored out extremely pricey fish — sorry no gem tangs

Below is our list and our reasons. We hope you enjoy :).

The 10 Most Beautiful Saltwater Fish

10. Volitan Lionfish

Lionfish

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 120 Gallons
  • Max Size – 15″
  • Reef Safe: With Caution
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – Around $40

One of my personal favorites. The lionfish is generally known to the public due to news of their invasiveness, but in the aquarium hobby they make a great display fish. They are pretty friendly and very hardy in the aquarium – often to the point of getting bullied by some more active fish like triggers and large angelfish.  They will eat just about any fish it can fit in its mouth so they are best with larger fish. They can be kept in reef tanks as they will not harm corals, but may eat inverts.  For those with smaller tanks, you can look at dwarf zebra lionfish which only grows to about 6″ and requires a 50 gallon tank.

9. Marine Betta

Beautiful Fish

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 55 Gallons
  • Max Size – 8″
  • Reef Safe: Yes
  • Temperament – Peaceful
  • Price – Around $80

The marine betta is a very unique and peaceful fish. They are known for being extremely hardy with stories of them surviving tank wipe outs caused by parasitic infections and recovering from wounds without getting bacterial infections. The key with the marine betta is acclimation. They are very shy when introduced and often will do poorly with very active tank mates. They are also quite large, so they need to be placed with larger tank mates or kept well fed to prevent them from eating smaller fish.

They are known for being reef safe and will not bother inverts as long as they are fed well. They are a nocturnal fish but will adjust to the home and be quite showy to their owner once established.   

8. Harlequin Tusk

Harlequin Tusk

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 125 Gallons
  • Max Size – 10″
  • Reef Safe: With Caution
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – Usually over $90

This looker hails from the Indian Ocean and Australia. They are a great addition to a fish only with live rock setup as they will get also with many other active fish like tangs, triggers, and angelfish. They will not harm corals, but it has been known to eat snails, shrimp, and crabs. The Australian varieties tend to be more colorful and more expensive then the Indian Ocean tusks.

7. Emperor Angelfish

Emperor Angelfish

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 220 Gallons
  • Max Size – 15″
  • Reef Safe: With Caution
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – Around $80 for juvenile and over $150 for adults

The emperor angelfish is a very bold and large angelfish. It has striking colors with a signature blue-black mask that covers its eyes. They are an excellent addition to a fish only with live rock aquarium and have also been reported to be safe in SPS dominated tanks. It is a large fish with a lot of personality, often becoming the dominant fish in the tank. If you want to know more about angelfish compatibility with reef tanks, you can refer to this reef safe angel fish sheet published by Reef Central users.

6. Flame Angelfish

Flame Angelfish

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 70 Gallons
  • Max Size – 4″
  • Reef Safe: with caution
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – around $50

Usually when one wants to add an angelfish, this is usually the fish that comes to mind. The flame angelfish is a flashy addition to any tank. In reef tanks, they will usually end up being the most aggressive fish and should be added last. They are also reef safe with caution as some of them will nip at soft and stony corals. Keeping them well fed is the best way to prevent this. They will usually nip at polyps and zoas first. They are great additions to fish only and fish only with live rock (FOWLR) setups.

5. Lyretail Anthias

Lyretail Anthias

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 125 Gallons
  • Max Size – 5″
  • Reef Safe: Yes
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – Around $30…more for males

The Lyretail Anthias is flashy looking and a social butterfly in a community tank. Males look like the picture above while females are orange in color. They do best in groups with one male to multiple females. They are known to change sexes if a male is lacking, with the most dominant female turning to a male. They are great fish for a reef tank. 

4. Lineatus Fairy Wrasse

Lineatus Fairy Wrasse

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 90 Gallons
  • Max Size – 5″
  • Reef Safe: Yes
  • Temperament – Peaceful
  • Price – Over $200

The lineatus fairy wrasse is a very peaceful and active fish that is usually not seen in aquariums. Often considered the most beautiful fish among wrasses, this fish is typically in high demand and seen under what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) sections of online vendors or special ordered through local fish stores. They are great additions for either reef or fish only tanks.

3. Sargassum Triggerfish

Sargassum Triggerfish

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size –  125 Gallons
  • Max Size – 10″
  • Reef Safe: With Caution
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – About $150

The sargassum triggerfish is known as the most reef safe triggerfish that you can add to your aquarium. Triggerfish in general are a blast to have in an aquarium because they have great personalities and the sargassum triggerfish does not disappoint. They will swim laps around your tank all day and it will vocalize using a grunting sound. The sargassum triggerfish will become a conversation piece in the home. 

2. Red Sea Purple Tang

Purple Tang

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 125 Gallons
  • Max Size – 10″
  • Reef Safe: Yes
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive
  • Price – Around $200

One of the most prized tangs in the aquarium due to its coloration. It is a rewarding tang to have and becomes hardy once established. They are aggressive towards other zebrasoma tangs and generally one of the more aggressive tangs available. They are very active in the tank gazing all day and swimming at all levels of the tank. They are a must have for anyone with a large reef tank. 

1. Designer Clownfish

Designer Clownfish

Stats:

  • Minimum Tank Size – 20 Gallons
  • Max Size – 3″ to 6″ depending on species
  • Reef Safe: Yes
  • Temperament – Semi-Aggressive with Maroon varieties being most aggressive
  • Price – Varies some go for over $200

Designer clownfish are fish that are specially raised through selective breeding to produce unique looking strip and fin pattern combinations. If you are looking for a unique looking clownfish, you will definitely find one if you look at designer clownfish. Their prices can get pretty high, especially for newer varieties.

Not everyone is a fan of designer clownfish. Natural clownfish available in the industry are beautiful in their own right and would also make it at the top of this list due to their looks, ease of care, compact size, and temperament. You can’t miss with either type in an aquarium. They are one of the best reef safe fish to own.

Miss Any of Your Favorite Fish? Let Us Known In the Comments Below!

What are some of your favorite fish? Let us known in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

3 COMMENTS

  1. you should really add some more fish then just 10 and add some different types maybe get some other peoples opinion on pretty fish so there is a wider range and more people will most likely be able to find at least one they find pretty

    Reply

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