Most saltwater aquarists would point you toward a clownfish as being one of the hardiest and most ideal fish for a saltwater aquarium. This is very true, clownfish make great aquarium pets because they are hardy, will swim about the aquarium, and tend to not be very shy. They eat with vigor and will readily accept most any prepared aquarium food without any special diet requirements making them easy to sustain. Clownfish are also widely available as captive-bred in an incredible variety of species and brilliant color morphs. 

This is all very true, clownfish are great and very iconic too but they are not the ONLY fish that makes a great aquarium inhabitant for new tank owners.  

What Makes a Hardy Fish?

  1. A hardy fish can handle minor swings in water chemistry without experiencing significant stress. This includes minor changes in nutrient levels, salinity, temperature, and pH. 
  2. A hardy fish should be easy to feed and not require any specialized feeding.  That means eating just about any aquarium food you offer without hesitation. 
  3. A hardy fish is bold and doesn't hide at the first site of people.  Fearful fish will spend time hiding and are often experiencing higher levels of stress when people are walking by the tank. 
  4. A hardy fish should not be susceptible to common disease-causing pathogens and parasites.

Tips For Finding Hardy Fish

  • Avoid wild-caught fish
  • Practice proper quarantine
  • Source captive-bred fish only, they are worth the effort and expense
  • Buy healthy fish from a trusted source
  • Don't impulse buy; always research first!

Thomas's Top Picks

  • Clownfish
  • Chalk Basslets
  • Orchid and Neon Dottybacks
  • Benghai and Pajama Cardinalfish
  • Yellow Watchman Gobies
  • Yellowtail Damselfish