By RENEE FITE
One good reference for anyone considering starting a salt water aquarium can be found at the website Homeaquaria.com. Dennis Hanson encourages readers who keeping a salt water aquarium is not as hard as they might have heard. Maintaining a saltwater aquarium can be a challenge because saltwater fish are more sensitive to changes in the water and their environmental surroundings. The pH levels must be carefully monitored to ensure a stable and comfortable environment for all the fish, and some species are hardier than others.
The 10 Best Saltwater aquarium fish for beginners are, in no particular order, Coral Beauties, Butterfly Fish, Watchman Goby, Tangs, Talbot’s Damsel, Firefish, Chalk Bass. Wrasses, Dottyback, and Blennys
Coral Beauty Angelfish add color, but despite it’s name, are not coral fans. Some live rock in the tank are needed to act as hiding places. They do best in larger tanks of 70 gallons or more. Spirulina, marine algae, high-quality angelfish preparations are the best foods for them.
Dotted, striped multi-colored, hundreds of varieties of Butterfly Fish species swim about in the world’s oceans. Diets will vary by species so check the requirements at time of purchase.
Bluespotted or Pink Spotted Watchman Goby are the most common, but they come in a variety of colors. It isn't always aquarium friendly with it's own species though because unless mated, it may bully other gobies. But they are compatible with most other species. Bluespotted Watchman Goby enjoy a meal of mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, and table shrimp.
Tang come in many colors and have as many different temperaments as colors. They don't always like other Tangs and can be aggressive toward them. Their diet varies so discuss that at time of purchase. Because of its swimming style they are better suited to tanks a minimum of 100 gallons.
Known as a hardy fish Talbot's Damsel has a long life span, if not exposed to fights, illness or tank issues. As they age they may become aggressive to other fish species, as the “cranky old person” of the tank.
One of the smaller fish, colorful Firefish are easygoing, get along well with their neighbors and like to dart about, so they can usually get away if another fish chases them. Zooplankton and algae found in the tank, and brine fish (live or frozen), mysis shrimp and prepared foods are their favorites.
Resistant to illness and changes in water quality, the Chalk Bass are usually smaller than three inches and happy in smaller aquariums. To avoid aggressiveness issues add multiple Chalk Bass in the aquarium at the same time.
Known for burying themselves in the sand and hiding throughout the rock, Wrasses are a brightly colored species. A quantity of live rock are needed to keep them happy. They are good neighbors. Tank size should be considered for different species, especially the larger ones.
Dottyback swim with a snake-like slithering motion. A tank bred Dottyback will be hardiest. They prefer meaty foods like brine shrimp and prepared frozen foods. Add Dottyback to the tank at the same time to prevent any territorial or aggressiveness issues.
Serene and peaceful, Blennys have a great personality, often taking on the role of tank observer when squeezed into a hiding space. Several types of fish fall under the Blenny name, and while they are usually good neighbors, they do not get along with other Blennys so keep it to one type in the aquarium.