15 Aquarium Fish That Start With S (And 15 Others You Can’t Keep)

Thank you for visiting! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon and other stores/partners are affiliate links Aquarium Store Depot earns a commission if you make a purchase.

From Siamese fighting fish to salmon sharks, this post is all about fish that start with S! Read along to learn about 30 species, including some awesome fresh and saltwater fish that you can keep in your own aquarium.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Many aquarium fish start with S, including extremely popular species like the Siamese fighting fish and the shubunkin goldfish
  • This guide lists pet fish and species that aren’t kept in the hobby.
  • Be sure to research any fish before adding it to your fish tank.

15 Aquarium Fish That Start With S

Are you ready to learn about 15 amazing fish species that start with the letter S? Let’s dive in!

1. Severum

Yellow Severum Cichlid
  • Scientific Name (Latin Names): Heros spp.
  • Fish Family: Cichlidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Size Range: 7 – 10 inches
  • Special Features: Peaceful nature and beautiful colors

The severum is an awesome South American cichlid from the Rio Negro and Orinoco rivers. These fish also known through their common names Banded Cichlid and Rainbow Severum Cichlidare have many different types available, ranging from solid oranges to red and green fish breeds with bold black stripes.
These large fish are relatively peaceful as far as cichlids go, and they make a great choice for tanks of 55 gallons or more. They can be kept with a variety of tank mates, but avoid any fish small enough for your severum to swallow.

2. Siamese Fighting Fish

WYSIWYG Available!
Betta Fish

Use Coupon Code ASDFISH at Checkout

Betta Fish are one of the most beautiful varieties of freshwater fish available in the hobby. Easy to care for with plenty of varieties!

Buy Premium Varieties Buy On Petco Online
  • Scientific Name: Betta splendens
  • Fish Family: Osphronemidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Aggressive toward their own species
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size Range: 2 – 2.5 inches
  • Special Features: Amazing range of breeds and colors

The Siamese fighting fish is also known as the betta fish. These freshwater fish species come from Southeast Asia originally, but today you can find them in pet stores all over the world!

Siamese fighting fish are available in almost every color imaginable, and their beautiful fins really add to their charm. These tropical fish are wonderful pets, and they’re a great choice for fishkeepers who don’t have space for a large aquarium.

3. Siamese Algae Eater

  • Scientific Name: Crossocheilus oblongus
  • Fish Family: Cyprinidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size Range: 6 inches
  • Special Features: Shark-like fins and bold horizontal strips

The Siamese algae eater is an excellent species for medium to large tropical aquariums. These hardy fish come from rivers in Southeast Asia but adapt to a wide range of water parameters in the home aquarium.
These useful freshwater fish love to eat aquarium algae, and they work tirelessly to keep your tank clean! Siamese algae-eaters are schooling fish, so be sure to keep them in a group of at least four.

4. Swordtail

Swordtail Fish in Planted Tank
  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus hellerii
  • Fish Family: Poeciliidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size Range: 5 – 6.5 inches
  • Special Features: Long, sword-shaped tail

The swordtail is a popular aquarium fish that comes from Mexico and Central America. They have been selectively bred into many beautiful color forms, mostly with bright orange, yellow, and red shades.
Swordtails are great freshwater fish for a peaceful planted community aquarium. These fish are livebearers like guppies and mollies, which means they are super easy to breed in your aquarium.

5. Snakeskin Discus

  • Scientific Name: Symphysodon spp.
  • Fish Family: Cichlidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Advanced
  • Size Range: 6 – 8 inches
  • Special Features: Disc-shaped body with beautiful neon colors

The discus fish is one of the world’s most beautiful fish species. These South American cichlids are often known as the King of the aquarium because of their bold appearance, although they are pretty sensitive creatures that need excellent water quality to survive.

The snakeskin discus is a particularly mesmerizing discus breed that has 14 dark vertical bars instead of the normal 9 of the wild fish. These stunning freshwater fish are available in many beautiful color patterns, usually including intense turquoise and deep red.

6. Shubunkin Goldfish

Shubunkin Tank Requirements
  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus
  • Fish Family: Cyprinidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Size Range: 8 – 10 inches in aquariums
  • Special Features: Calico color pattern

Shubunkins are a slim-bodied breed of goldfish that were first developed over a century ago. These peaceful fish stand out from regular goldfish with their attractive calico color pattern of pearly scales with overlapping patches of various colors, including white, red, and black.

Shubunkin goldfish make great pets for large, coldwater aquariums, but they can also be kept outdoors in ponds.

7. Saulosi African Cichlid

  • Scientific Name: Pseudotropheus saulosi
  • Fish Family: Cichlidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Size Range: 3 – 3.4 inches
  • Special Features: Different male and female colors

The saulosi cichlid (video source) is an African Cichlid fish species from Lake Malawi in East Africa. These dwarf mbuna cichlids can be kept in a relatively small tank of about 40 gallons, although they do need hard, alkaline water to thrive.

Like many other African cichlids, adult males and females look completely different! Females are bright yellow, while males are electric blue with black vertical bars.

8. Splendid Killifish

  • Scientific Name: Aphyosemion splendopleure
  • Fish Family: Nothobranchiidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Size Range: 2 – 2.2 inches
  • Special Features: Bright colors and full fins

The splendid killifish (video source) is a beautiful African fish that can make a peaceful and fascinating aquarium pet. The male is particularly colorful and develops pearly pink, blue, green, and yellow tones. They are shy fish that do best when kept in well-planted nano aquariums.

9. Sunset Gourami

  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster/colisa chuna
  • Fish Family: Osphronemidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size Range: 2 inches
  • Special Features: Interesting feeler-like fins

The sunset gourami is also known by their common name, the honey gourami. Males develop beautiful sunset-orange colors to impress females in the breeding season, but these tropical fish are fascinating to watch at any time of the year.

These peaceful nanofish are excellent for community aquariums, where they will get along with many other fish species.

10. Smudge Spot Corydoras

  • Scientific Name: Corydoras similis
  • Fish Family: Callichthyidae
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size Range: 2 – 2.4 inches
  • Special Features: Spotted pattern with a dark blotch near the tail

The smudge spot corydoras (video source) is one of over 160 small catfish species in their family. These adorable little bottom-dwellers are excellent community fish for tropical freshwater aquariums where they love to hang out in schools with their own species.

Keep your similis cory-cats on a smooth, fine substrate and feed them quality sinking food to keep them happy and healthy.

11. Seahorse

Seahorse Couple
  • Scientific Name: Hippocampus spp.
  • Fish Family: Syngnathidae
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Size Range: 2 to 13 inches
  • Special Features: Long curly tail and horse-shaped head

There are over 40 species of these strange saltwater fish, and some of them make great aquarium pets for dedicated fishkeepers! They are not all that difficult to keep, although they require a diet of mysis shrimp and very low water flow in their tank.

Seahorses should not be kept with other fish. Rather, keep these unique creatures in a species-only marine tank where you can create the perfect conditions for them to thrive.

12. Scorpion Fish

  • Scientific Name: Taenianotus spp., Amblyapistus spp. etc.
  • Fish Family: Scorpaenidae
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Size Range: 2 – 40+ inches
  • Special Features: Venomous spines

There are hundreds of different scorpionfish in the world’s oceans (video source), and many of these strange marine fish make fascinating pets.

However, scorpionfish have venomous spines, which can cause serious pain or even death in some cases, so this is one fish you do not want to touch!

13. Squirrelfish

Squirrel Fish In Aquarium
  • Scientific Name: Sargocentron spp.
  • Fish Family: Holocentridae
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Easy – Moderate
  • Size Range: 3 – 19 inches
  • Special Features: Large eyes and colorful stripes

Squirrelfish are nocturnal saltwater fish that come out onto the reef at night to hunt for shrimp and other marine invertebrates. These colorful fish are excellent for marine aquariums, especially if you keep the lights low. One thing to note is that some of these fish have venomous spines, so never touch them with your bare hands.

14. Scribbled Rabbitfish

Scribbled Rabbitfish
  • Scientific Name: Siganus doliatus
  • Fish Family: Siganidae
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Size Range: 10 inches
  • Special Features: Circuit board pattern of scribbled lines

Also known as the barred spinefoot and the blue-lined rabbitfish, scribbled rabbitfish are attractive tropical marine fish from the western Pacific Ocean. They take their fish names from the beautiful scribbled blue lines across their pearl and yellow body.

These herbivores don’t only look great in a marine tank, but they also help to keep your aquarium clean by grazing on unwanted algae!

15. Sharks

Bamboo Shark
  • Scientific Name: Various
  • Fish Family: Chondrichthyes
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive – aggressive
  • Care Level: Moderate – advanced
  • Size Range: 7 inches to 60 feet
  • Special Features: Leathery skin and prominent gill slits

Sharks are one of the largest fish in the world, and with over 500 species, these notorious creatures come in all shapes and sizes!

Larger species like the sand tiger shark are only suitable for massive displays at public aquariums like the Georgia Aquarium, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options for a home fish tank. Some small shark species, like catsharks can be kept in tanks as small as 200 gallons.

Other Fish (Not For Aquariums)

Not all fish that start with S are going to fit into your home aquarium. Let’s dive in and meet some larger species from all over the world!

1. Snake Mackerel

  • Scientific Name: Gempylus serpens
  • Fish Family: Gempylidae
  • Origin: Subtropical and tropical waters worldwide
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: 3 feet
  • Special Features: Elongated body and sharp fangs

The snake mackerel (video source) is an ocean predator that spends its days hiding out in deep dark water over a thousand feet below. When night falls, these sleek, sharp-toothed fish rise to the surface to hunt smaller fish and squid.

2. Sea Catfish

Sea Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Various
  • Fish Family: Ariidae
  • Origin: Tropical and subtropical waters worldwide
  • Water Type: Brackish and saltwater
  • Size: Usually 1 -2 feet but over 5 feet in some species
  • Special Features: Venomous spines

Sea catfish are fascinating creatures that are often the first to reach fishermen’s baits.These gray/silvery fish have long, whisker-like barbles and venomous spines.

Sea catfish are great parents, too, and keep their young safe in their own mouth until the fry are ready to fend for themselves. This family includes the Colombian shark, a challenging but popular aquarium fish.

3. Sea Lamprey

Sea Lamprey
  • Scientific Name: Petromyzon marinus
  • Fish Family: Petromyzontidae
  • Origin: North Atlantic Ocean around North America and Europe
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Up to 4 feet
  • Special Features: Jawless sucker-mouth

The sea lamprey is a primitive, eel-like creature that feeds by latching onto other fish and sucking their blood. To do this, lampreyes have round, flattened sucker mouths full of sharp teeth and often kill their victim. Pretty creepy right? Fortunately, lampreys don’t usually bite humans!

4. Sea Bass

Sea Bass
  • Scientific Name: Various
  • Fish Family: Serranidae
  • Origin: Tropical and subtropical waters worldwide
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Up to 8 feet and over 500 pounds in some species
  • Special Features: Large mouth for catching prey

There are many species of seabass, from the giant seabass of the Pacific Ocean to the European seabass of the eastern Atlantic Ocean. These large-mouthed hunters are common in the marine environment.

5. Sea Dragon

Sea Dragon
  • Scientific Name: Phycodurus eques
  • Fish Family: Syngnathidae
  • Origin: West and south coast of Australia
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: 8 – 9 inches
  • Special Features: Amazing leafy camouflage

The Leafy sea dragon is a remarkable little sea creature that looks something like a cross between a seahorse and a piece of seaweed! These slow-swimming creatures cruise around hunting for tiny crustaceans and invertebrates to snack on.

6. Salmon Shark

  • Scientific Name: Lamna ditropis
  • Fish Family: Lamnidae
  • Origin: North Pacific Ocean
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: up to 10 feet
  • Special Features: Chunky body and large black eye

The salmon shark (video source) is built like a tank. These small relatives of the great white shark feed on salmon and other species of fish that they catch with amazing speed. Salmon Sharks occur from California up to Alaska and across the Pacific to Japan.

7. Snake Eel

Snowflake Eel in Aquarium
  • Scientific Name: Various
  • Fish Family: Ophichthidae
  • Origin: Tropical and temperate waters worldwide
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Up to 7 feet in larger species
  • Special Features: Snake-like patterns

Over 200 snake eel species live in the world’s oceans, either free-swimming or burrowing into the substrate of the ocean floor. Burrowing species use their pointed tails that they use to dig down into the sand.

These creatures can have some pretty amazing colors and patterns that make them look just like sea snakes.

8. Sea Toad

  • Scientific Name: Various
  • Fish Family: Chaunacidae
  • Origin: Indian, Pacific, & Atlantic Oceans
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Up to 12 inches
  • Special Features: Spiny scales and leg-like fins.

The sea toad (video source) is a bottom-dwelling sea fish that occurs at depths of several thousand feet. These unusual fish pick a good spot and lie in wait for small creatures to approach a glowing lure above their mouth.
Sea toads may not be strong swimmers, but they have another interesting way to get around. Leg-like fins allow them to walk along the ocean floor!

9. Sea Devil

  • Scientific Name: Melanocetus spp.
  • Fish Family: Melanocetidae
  • Origin: Atlantic, Pacific, & Indian Ocean
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Up to 7 inches
  • Special Features: Glowing lure on the end of a fishing rod-like structure above their head

The black sea devil (video source) is a true sea monster, even though it grows to just a few inches long! The males are really tiny, growing to just about an inch long when mature. These pitch-black deep-sea fish have huge fangs and a glowing lure to attract their prey within reach.

10. Speckled Trout

Speckled Trout
  • Scientific Name: Cynoscion nebulous
  • Fish Family: Sciaenidae
  • Origin: Southeastern United States
  • Water Type: Brackish & saltwater
  • Size: Up to 3 feet and 17 pounds
  • Special Features: Speckled body and bright yellow mouth

The speckled trout or spotted sea trout is a beautiful game fish from shallow coastal waters around the United States. They have huge fangs for latching onto crustaceans and small baitfish like mullets. These predatory fish are very popular with sport fishermen because they aggressively strike at baits in shallow waters.

11. Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon
  • Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus nerka
  • Fish Family: Salmonidae
  • Origin: Northern Pacific, from Columbia River to Alaska and across to Japan
  • Water Type: Fresh, brackish, & saltwater
  • Size: 2 – 2.5 feet
  • Special Features: Bright red and green spawning colors

The sockeye salmon is a common Pacific salmon species that grows to about 17 pounds. Although some populations are landlocked, most sockeyes spend their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn in the rivers where they hatched. The male changes color from silvery blue to bright red and green when it’s time to breed.

12. Skipjack Tuna

  • Scientific Name: Katsuwonus pelamis
  • Fish Family: Scombridae
  • Origin: Tropical and temperate regions worldwide
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Up to 3 feet
  • Special Features: Striped belly and large eyes

The skipjack tuna (video source) is a small tuna species that occurs in warm surface waters of the open ocean and is a popular food fish. These lightning-fast fish feed on squid, crustaceans, and baitfish, although they are also important prey for large pelagic fish like marlin.

13. Spiny Dwarf Catfish

  • Scientific Name: Scoloplax spp.
  • Fish Family: Scoloplacidae
  • Origin: South America
  • Water Type: Freshwater
  • Size: 0.75 inches
  • Special Features: Tiny size

The spiny dwarf catfishes are a handful of South American species that live among debris in streams and lakes. They are among the world’s smallest catfish, with some species reaching just half an inch when full-grown!

14. Sea Bream

  • Scientific Name: Sparus aurata
  • Fish Family: Various
  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: Variable
  • Special Features: Deep body shape

Sea bream (video source) are one of the largest groups of saltwater fish and one of the most popular food fish! These fish have a flattened body with a deep profile and they range in size from a few inches all the way to a few feet.
The sheepshead is a good example of an American sea bream species but European readers may be more familiar with the popular gilthead bream.

15. Sand Diver

  • Scientific Name: Synodus intermedius
  • Fish Family: Synodontidae
  • Origin: Western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico
  • Water Type: Saltwater
  • Size: up to 18 inches
  • Special Features: Lizard-like appearance

The sand diver (video source) is a fierce predator that hangs out in sandy areas around reefs. These elongated bottom-dwellers bury themselves in the sand with just their face sticking out and wait for food to come to them. Any small crustacean or fish that cruises by will be swallowed in an instant by their large, toothy mouth!

Bonus Species

There are many more fascinating fresh and saltwater fish beginning with S that we kept off to keep this post shorter. Keep reading for loads more!

Aquarium Species

  • Sandbar cichlid
  • Sailfin Molly
  • Sailfin Pleco (poecilia velifera)
  • Salvini Cichlids
  • Seba Mono
  • Short finned congo tetra
  • Silver gourami
  • Silver shark
  • Sparkling earth eater
  • Snakeskin Gourami
  • Striped goby cichlid
  • Spike-tailed paradise fish
  • Striped silver dollar
    Siamese flying fox
  • Spotted climbing perch
  • Spiny eel

Other Species

  • Sand Goby
  • Sheepshead minnow
  • Shovelnose Catfish
  • Spot line peacock cichlid
  • Spaghetti eel
  • Southern dolly varden
  • Southern soft-spined rainbowfish
  • Other Saltwater Species
  • Sawtooth eel
  • Smalleye Squaretail
  • Snipe eel
  • Southern hake & silver hake
  • Striped bass
  • Southern smelt
  • Surf sardine
  • Spanish Mackerel
  • Sea raven
  • Scabbard fish
  • Sea chub
  • Sand goby
  • Flatfish
  • Sand sole
  • Southern flounder
  • Sand dab
  • Summer flounder
  • Sleeper shark
  • Smooth dogfish
  • Sandbar shark

Other Lists

Looking for other fish that start with other letters of the alphabet? Check out the other posts below:

Final Thoughts

From sixty-foot sharks to shrimp-sized spiny dwarf catfish, there’s no shortage of fish that start with S. I hope you’ve enjoyed this fun guide, and who knows, one of these species could even be the next addition to your aquarium!

Do you have a favorite fish that starts with S? Share your top pick in the comments below!

Leave a Comment


Turtle Tank Setup (A 7 Step How To Guide)
Are you setting up a new tank for a pet turtle? Creating the perfect turtle habitat is a little different from planning a fish tank, but don't worry; the process is fun and easy once you understand their basic needs!
Cichlid Tank Mates - Great Choices For ALL Species
Nothing looks more stunning than a large aquarium filled with cichlids. No matter if you have African, Central American, South American, or another common type of cichlid, these tropical fish can bring immense color and excitement to the home aquarium.
Why Angelfish And Guppies Are A Deadly Combo
You might think that guppies are easy fish that can be kept with nearly any other species, right? While these small, hardy fish can get along with most fish species, they are not compatible with angelfish. Keep in mind that angelfish are a type of cichlid, and so they should be treated as such.