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!

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.

5 Unusual Spots for a Custom Aquarium

Everyone loves a custom aquarium. Aquariums have a calming effect on people sitting close by. That’s why they’re so popular for waiting rooms in doctor’s and dentist’s offices. After a hard day of work, it’s restful to spend a few moments relaxing near your own aquarium. Because the fish are in constant motion, your little slice of the underwater world never gets boring.

While everyone enjoys aquariums, not everyone has space in their home, condominium, or apartment for a big freshwater or saltwater aquarium on a large stand. Not a problem. If you’ve always wanted a custom aquarium with a bit of a wow! factor, all it takes is a little ingenuity and an eye for the unusual. Here are 5 unusual spots for your custom aquarium:

A Custom Aquarium In a Fireplace

Lots of houses have old fireplaces that are no longer safe or practical. Instead of walling that old fireplace up, or filling it with things like candle stands or flower baskets, why not use it for a custom aquarium?

Don’t make the mistake of filling the entire fireplace opening with the aquarium. You’ll need good access to things like the pumps and filters for regular aquarium maintenance. It’s better to build a frame inside the opening and place your custom aquarium inside the frame. The frame can contain hidden access doors to get inside and behind the aquarium.

One great benefit of using an old fireplace for a custom aquarium is the natural soundproofing you’ll get from the masonry. The sound of the pumps and filters will be muffled. Paint the back wall of the fireplace black to make the aquarium stand out more when you turn on the lights.

Built Into Shelving

If you’re afraid of losing precious floor space, building your custom aquarium into an existing piece of furniture is a great way to make room for your undersea world. If you’ve got a large shelving unit, you can build an aquarium right into it.

This approach is much easier if your cabinetry is built in. An aquarium filled with water is heavy, so you’ll probably need to beef up the structure to handle the extra load. If you’re using a freestanding piece of furniture, make sure it’s firmly anchored to the wall behind it to keep it from toppling over.

In a Wet Bar

Aquariums no longer need to be rectangular glass enclosures. Acrylic aquariums can be molded into almost any shape, including curves. They’re immensely strong, so you can mount things on top of them if you want. If you have a corner in your home that’s begging for a freestanding wet bar, it’s a perfect opportunity to add an aquarium that doesn’t need its own floor space. Build it right into your freestanding bar, or better still, make the entire bar into an aquarium.

Kitchen Backsplash

Putting an aquarium in your kitchen backsplash will turn a humdrum kitchen into a showpiece. Backsplashes between the upper and lower cabinets are a great place for long, thin aquariums. Instead of undercabinet lighting, you can turn on the aquarium light to shed a soft, even light over your countertops. The glass side of the aquarium is as easy to keep clean as subway tile.

In a Shower

Shower rooms are a great place for underwater and seaside themes. You can build in an aquarium to really make the room pop with color and motion. A saltwater or freshwater aquarium can be built right into a partition to lend an underwater feeling to both sides of the wall. It’s especially effective if one side of the aquarium serves as a wall in the shower. It’s a lot more fun to watch the fish swimming around than watching the water circle the drain.

Need Help? Ask a Pro

In a very real sense, the sky’s the limit with aquariums. The ability to mold acrylic to make any size or shape aquarium means that if you can imagine your aquarium, it can be built. Of course you’ll need to figure out where to place the equipment you need to keep your fish happy and healthy, and the water crystal clear.

Contact Aquatech Aquarium Service for aquarium design in the Los Angeles area. They’re experts at designing, setting up, and stocking custom aquariums. They’re great at aquarium maintenance, too. Their helpful tips during the design phase will save you money in the long run when it’s time to maintain your one-of-a-kind custom aquarium.