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Proceed with Caution Fish – Saltwater

Japanese Dragon Eel (Enchelycore pardalis)

One of the joys of creating a home aquarium is watching the interaction among different species, whether they are fish or invertebrates. When starting a new tank, you can create an underwater environment that serves your new fish well. When looking to add a new member to a community tank, you look to finding a fish that thrives in your existing setup – one with similar water requirements - as well as finding a fish that is compatible with those you already have.

Fish Behavior
An important part in determining compatibility is fish behavior. Some examples of behavior might include being territorial, nipping at other fishes’ fins, hiding when threatened, etc. LiveAquaria® categorizes fish temperaments into the following categories (recognizing that fish are animals and individual members might act differently than others in its species): peaceful, moderate/semi-aggressive and aggressive.

Peaceful Saltwater Fish
Peaceful fish are species that are designated as easygoing and make for good community tankmates. Not every peaceful fish species will get along with every other peaceful fish species, so rely on compatibility charts provided by your supplier to guide you.

Semi-aggressive Saltwater Fish
Moderate/Semi-aggressive saltwater fish are ones that have aggressive tendencies toward tankmates such as: they eat smaller fish or invertebrates, they display aggression in certain situations, they display aggression toward smaller fish but are passive or peaceful with fish larger than them, or fish that become aggressive as they mature.

Banana Wrasse (Thalassoma lutescens)

Aggressive Saltwater Fish
Aggressive marine fish are ones that bully other fish, pick fights, may have a taste for blood, eat other fish, and are highly territorial. Aggressive saltwater fish are ones that the hobbyist must proceed with caution when stocking. You may decide to create a species-only tank for them. If adding to an existing tank (based on compatibility with the other fish in your tank), this requires a higher level of care and maintenance.

Manage Territorial Aggression
You may want to create more hiding spaces to lessen territorial aggression or rearrange your tank before introducing a new fish to your tank, so all fish have to claim new territories after the new fish is introduced. Maintaining optimal water conditions and feeding routines is necessary, as these can be reasons for aggressive behavior. A general guide on introducing new fish to your aquarium can be found here.

Proceed with Caution – Saltwater Fish

Although not inclusive, there are some fish that usually find themselves on lists of semi-aggressive or aggressive saltwater fish and require caution when handling, such as:

Some fish species have families of fish that fit into more than one behavioral category, and LiveAquaria® has a number of other fish that hobbyists should proceed with caution when introducing to a new tank, including specific members of the following: Jawfish, Gobies, Hogfish, Hawkfish, Groupers, Chromis, Cardinalfish, Butterflyfish, Boxfish, Blennies, Basslets, Anthias, Anglers, Angelfish, Dottybacks, and Damselfish, so it is important to form a relationship with a quality supplier who provides information on fish behavior.

The fact that some fish require special care and maintenance should not deter anyone from learning how to effectively care and maintain them. Doing so will allow you to count yourself among the select group of caretakers with the ability to do so.

Porcupine Puffer (Diodon holocanthus)


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