5 Saltwater Starter Fish You Should Avoid

Saltwater aquariums are popular for their wide range of attractive fish and accessory options. In our last entry, we went over the 6 Big Rules for Choosing Saltwater Starter Fish. However, when selecting fish for your custom aquarium, a list of fish to include is only half the story. It’s just as important to know the types of fish to exclude.

Unlike freshwater aquariums, you may find it more difficult to find the right fish. New saltwater aquariums will need to start off with a population of fish that are hardy, easy to manage and won’t be aggressive towards others.

Even if you think that a certain fish comes from the ocean, or you have seen before in established reef tanks, that doesn’t mean they should be included in home aquariums. Most pet stores will not be knowledgeable or advertise which fish to avoid, so it is helpful to do a bit of research. Here are several varieties of fish that would do more harm than good in a new custom aquarium:


Although groupers are a smaller than a lot of other fish, they can still prove to be hostile to your custom aquarium’s fish population. They have mouths that will expand to be quite large. Therefore, they will eat most anything alive that will fit inside of it. Unless you have a tank that is at least 200 gallons and include large fish that can take care of themselves, it is best to not include Groupers in your saltwater aquarium.


You may be tempted at first to purchase Mandarin fish for several reasons. Their unique coloring and patterns are a reminder of beautiful coral reefs. They are affordable, known to be disease resistant, and their smaller size will seem beneficial for not overtaking space in your custom aquarium.

This might all sound well and good, but the Mandarin’s  picky diets will be a big problem. You will find it difficult to keep them satisfied since they are dependent on eating copepods and will avoid most other general saltwater aquarium foods. It is difficult to have this type of fish survive in less established aquariums. Large reef tanks with a plentiful population of copepods will keep them healthy and satisfied.

Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse

Similar to the Mandarin fish, the Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse are also picky eaters and would probably starve in most saltwater aquariums. Eating parasites off of other fish is what composes their diet. In new saltwater aquariums, there will not be enough parasites to feed them.

In established saltwater aquariums, these are both helpful and entertaining fish. Their normal behavior includes zipping around in a fun spectacle and cleaning off dead scales and parasites from other fish.


These fish come from brackish waters. This type of water is considered to be something in between fresh water and salt water. It may not be the best choice at first, but once you get your aquarium going, these are fish that can slowly acclimate themselves to a completely saltwater aquarium environment.

You will also need to prepare yourself to expect more fish than you began with. Mollies/Guppies actively breed in captivity.


Avoid the Damselfish at all costs. They are very destructive to the rest of the fish population in saltwater aquariums. Your other fish will find it hard to live with one.

Don’t let their flowy angel-like appearance fool you, they are some of the most aggressive and territorial fish around. A damselfish will chase around other fish to the point that they die from exhaustion. Their competitive nature will also prevent other fish from eating in you custom aquarium.

Getting the Right Saltwater Fish for a Custom Aquarium

A good saltwater starter fish will be able to tolerate less than perfect conditions. Choose fish that are known to be disease resistant, peaceful at co-habiting, and are easy to manage. The fish in our list just don’t make the cut. By referencing this list of saltwater fish to avoid, it should help you establish a flourishing new saltwater aquarium with a minimum of fuss.

If you’re thinking of adding a custom aquarium for your home or business in the Los Angeles area, be sure to Aquatech Aquarium Service. Picking the right fish from the start is the key to a successful and enjoyable custom aquarium, and Aquatech can help!

The 6 Big Rules for Choosing Saltwater Starter Fish

When you are ready to begin your new aquarium installation, it’s important to choose the right fish for your new saltwater aquarium. But how do you know which fish are the right ones to start your new tank? Here’s what to look for when choosing starter fish for your saltwater aquarium installation:

1. Choose Hardy Fish

When you first start your new custom aquarium, the condition of your water can change rapidly. That’s why aquarium installation experts recommend that you start with hardier species of saltwater fish for your new saltwater aquarium.  Fish that are more tolerant of changes in their environment will be less stressed about differences in water temperature and alkalinity.  As a result, these fish usually tend to live longer.

2. Select Fish That Are Resistant to Parasites

Aquarium installation experts agree that parasites such as ich, flukes, and tremotodes can be a nuisance to any custom aquarium. If your fish are stressed by other conditions, such as other aggressive fish or unsuitable water conditions, they are even more likely to ‘catch’ an infection. There are no fish that are immune to these invaders. However, there are certain saltwater fish that are more resistant to these parasites than other fish.

Saltwater fish such as Mollies and Damsels have been known to be more resistant to these pesky parasites than other saltwater fish. That’s not necessarily a good reason to stock your tank with them. For a new aquarium, an aquarium installation expert may recommend that you avoid starter fish like Damselfish because they can be quite aggressive.  You may want to avoid Powder Blue/Brown Tang fish as they tend to be more prone to infection from parasites like ich.

3. Pick Fish That Are Compatible With Everything In Your Saltwater Aquarium

These fish will probably be the first fish in your custom aquarium.  So you’ll want to choose fish that are peaceful and get along well with other fish. Getting along doesn’t just means that they don’t try to eat all the other fish. Fish that are non-aggressive will be less apt to harass other fish both during the day and at feeding time. Some fish are very territorial, and will harass any fish that comes near them, including fish that are bigger than they are. Other fish are greedy eaters and will try to gobble every morsel you put in the tank at feeding time, and will fight the other fish for it, too. Avoiding aggressive and territorial fish help reduces the stress among all the fish you put in your saltwater aquarium.

4. Choose Fish That Are Inexpensive To Maintain

Saltwater fish vary greatly in the cost per fish. You may not want to choose the most inexpensive fish you can find for your saltwater aquarium. However, choosing a relatively inexpensive fish can help save costs in the long run. Generally, the more exotic and rare the fish, the more expensive it is. Some fish have sold for as much as $400,000!

5. Select Vibrant Fish To Make Your Aquarium Installation Look Its Best

Unless your aquarium is gigantic, the number of fish in your aquarium is bound to be fairly limited. Since you can only fit so many fish in your saltwater aquarium, it’s smart to make each one count. It’s tempting to buy a handful of inexpensive, drab fish to get your aquarium going when you’re on a budget. However, in the long run, your aquarium will be much more interesting if you select each fish for maximum visual interest. Remember, some fish are brightly colored, but shy about swimming in the open areas of your tank. Choose some fish that are fast swimmers to get a good mix.

6. Get a Mix of Personalities

Schools of identical fish look great when they swim back and forth in your aquarium. However, too much of one thing quickly gets boring to look at. Different species of fish look different, of course, but they also act differently as they make their way around your saltwater aquarium. Choose a good mix of “personalities” to add interest to the action in the tank. Mix bold and timid fish, and fast and slow swimmers to ensure a constantly changing aqua

Get Expert Advice From Aquarium Installation Experts

For expert aquarium installation in the Los Angeles area, contact Aquatech Aquarium Service. They’ll help you choose the best starting fish for your new saltwater aquarium. They can help with your aquarium maintenance as well.

How To Move a Custom Aquarium Without Taking a Bath

Moving your belongings to a new home or apartment is physically and mentally taxing. The task takes on a brand new layer of work when you have to move an aquarium along with your furniture. In addition to packing up and transporting your custom aquarium, you also have to make sure your fish, and anything else you have in the aquarium, is moved safely to its new home. Just getting to your destination is only half the battle. It’s important to avoid disrupting the aquatic environment more than necessary. Find out the best way to move your aquarium to your new place without taking a bath or losing any of your scaly sidekicks:

Prepare the Tank

As you’re planning your move, it’s best that you save the aquarium for last. That way, your fish don’t have to swim around outside of their normal habitat for too long. When you’re ready to tackle the task of moving your custom aquarium, drain the tank water into sealable buckets. Re-using your tank water helps preserve helpful bacteria. Note that this method is best reserved for quick moves of less than a day. For anything longer than that, it’s best to simply get rid of the water and cycle in a fresh supply in your tank before letting your fish return home.

A Great Opportunity for Aquarium Maintenance

Next, take care of aquarium maintenance as you remove gravel and plants from the tank. Make sure to keep live plants in bags of water to keep them as fresh as the fish you’re moving. When taking out the filter media, it’s best that you not clean it before packing it up with tank water and bacteria. Again, this only applies to short moves. You’ll want to go ahead and give the filter a good scrubbing and cleaning if it’ll take you a few days to complete your move.

Get Your Fish Ready

To keep water as fresh and clean as possible while moving your custom aquarium, it’s smart to stop feeding them about four days or so before the big day. This might seem cruel, but they’ll be fine. The feeding lull gives them time to flush waste from their systems, and do so in a way that won’t compromise their oxygen supply. Just be sure to round up all the fish once you’ve removed all the plants and gravel and most of the water from the tank. It’s easy to lose count when you’re in a hurry.

Solitary Confinement Isn’t Cruel and Unusual

When the time comes to bag the fish, fill plastic bags less than halfway with tank water. Be sure each bag only has one fish. Store the bags with care in rows inside a styrofoam cooler (or Poly box for warm water fish). Don’t bury the box under a mound of other belongings. You’ll need to refresh the oxygen supply every couple of hours by opening and resealing the bags.

Take care that you keep fish out of sunlight and excessive temperatures while transporting them. You should also keep them in the dark as much as possible to help them stay calm during the move.

Move the Tank

Wrap the tank of your custom aquarium inside blankets or equally soft wrapping, keeping the wrapping tight with packing tape. If you like, you can reinforce the protection with pieces of cardboard bound with more tape. Lift the tank from the bottom, and transport it in a way that it doesn’t come into contact with anything that might bump, fall on top of, or jostle it.

Set Up the Tank

Rather than leave the tank for last in your new place like you did when moving from your old place, make setting it up a top priority. Unpack the tank of your custom aquarium and set up the filter and heater and ensure they’re in working order. Slowly introduce tank water to the fishes’ bags to see how they react before letting them back into their old tank in their new home.

With a bit of planning and patience, moving your aquarium won’t open a floodgate of problems. For the ultimate in ease, contact an aquarium setup and maintenance professional to do the job.