Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid

Today, we have a guest post from Mason about the Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid. Keeping marine life can be challenging and the list provided below is full of critters you should think twice about before adding them to your reef tank. You can find a link to Mason’s website below.

Reef-keeping is certainly one of the most fascinating hobbies out there. So many fish, so many choices… and as if things aren’t confusing enough as is, many of the species commonly sold at aquarium stores aren’t actually easy to keep or even suitable for captive life whatsoever.

If you’re getting confused in your search for saltwater fish that won’t go belly-up at the slightest mistake, do not despair. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid. Many of these are available in aquarium stores, so be sure to check if a fish that you’re interested in is on this list! If it is, you might want to go for something else.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid Video

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #10 Mandarinfish

Also known as the mandarin goby or mandarin dragonet, this fish might just catch your eye if you’re having a look around at the local fish store. Its extremely striking colors – a psychedelic patterned mix of orange, light blue and dark blue – make the mandarinfish an easy impulse buy. There is one little problem, though. As a beginner, you likely won’t be able to keep it alive.

The most difficult parts about caring for mandarinfish are their specific diet and slow eating habits. This species feeds on copepods, which need to be available at all times for a chance of success. Competition from other copepod feeders can be problematic, and even if there is plenty of food available your mandarinfish might go hungry if it’s not used to the feeding method used. Not prepared to cater to its every whim? You might want to skip this fish until you’ve gained a little more experience.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #9 Damsels

Another extremely colorful and relatively popular option that you are best off avoiding as a beginner is the genus Pomacentridae, better known as damsels or damselfish. Their striking blues, yellows, stripes and dots will definitely catch your eye, but unfortunately these seemingly small and innocent fish aren’t the best team players.

Damselfish are very territorial and will bother any tankmate they see as competition to no end, even if it’s a lot larger. This constant terrorization can result in stressed, diseased and even dead fish. While damsels are hardy as well as a joy to see and keep in the right conditions, we definitely don’t recommend them if you plan to keep any other species.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #8 Maroon Clownfish

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid

If I say clownfish, the first thing that pops into your head will probably be images of friendly little Nemo fish in their anemones, right? Well, unfortunately it’s not all fun and games in the clownfish world. Let us introduce you to the maroon clownfish, also known as Nemo’s evil cousin. Okay, we might be overreacting a little here – many reef aquarists still love to keep this gorgeous species – but we can definitely categorize it as “Not Really Suitable For Beginners”.

The reason we’re calling this fish evil is that it’s got some serious aggression going on. It will consider a large portion (or even all) of the tank its territory and can be very defensive about this space. There are ways around this, and the amazing selectively bred patterns can certainly make this species worth it. If you’re a beginner, though, we recommend just going for easier fish.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #7 Lionfish

Although there are multiple fish species that are commonly referred to as lionfish (including the slightly more manageable dwarf lionfish from the genus Dendrochirus), we’re talking ‘classic’ lionfish here. This might just be the showiest and most beautiful species on this entire list, but unfortunately you’ll need a lot of dedication to successfully keep a lionfish.

The main issues with lionfish are their size, aggression level and venomous spikes. Most lionfish sold in your LFS will be juveniles that don’t seem so bad. However, this species is notorious for growing very large very quickly and you’ll need a big tank if you’d like to keep one. Additionally, this is a predator that will swallow everything that fits into its mouth… and if you’re unlucky it will even sting you. Clearly not the best choice for beginners!

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #6 Blue Tangs

Oh my gosh, it’s Dory! And even if you’re not a fan of the famous Disney movies, the blue tang’s beautiful coloration might still seduce you into an impulse buy. Unfortunately this is a recipe for disaster if you don’t have much experience in the reef world yet; this fish is not easy to keep.

First off, even the relatively small blue tang grows quite large and needs to be maintained in groups. You’ll have to get a large tank in order to accommodate this species. Additionally, unlike their movie counterpart, these fish aren’t docile and friendly. They can actually be quite feisty and even carry weapons in the form of sharp tail spikes. Very clean water with strong flow is a must, and you’ll have to supply a steady stream of algae and small foods to keep this grazer happy and healthy. It’s possible to keep blue tangs successfully, but we recommend starting out with easier species.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #5 Filefish

Filefish from the genus Monacanthidae belong to the same order of species as pufferfish: Tetraodontiformes. Although these fascinating fish are not the worst choice on this list for beginner tanks, they are definitely not your best option either.

First off, many filefish won’t hesitate to take a bite out of some of your corals and even some invertebrates such as sea urchins, especially when hungry. And they do get hungry often: malnutrition is a common problem in captive filefish. These grazers need a constant supply of food, both ‘vegetarian’ and meaty. This also goes for the commonly kept aptasia eating filefish. While, yes, this species will eat those annoying pests, it might also go after your soft corals. Filefish can make a great choice for experienced saltwater keepers, but we recommend against them if you’re a beginner.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #4 Sharks and Rays

Alright, this one probably speaks for itself. But because there are plenty of beginners out there that would love to keep something as cool as a shark or ray in their tank, let us just repeat this. Don’t! Most species are entirely unsuitable for the home aquarium, and even the few that are make bad beginner choices.

Even the smallest sharks and rays still require quite a large set-up. Additionally, you’ll need a high level of filtration to keep them successfully, as they produce lots of waste and have messy eating habits. Tankmates are another issue. Anything small is at risk of being eaten, while many other fish can actually damage the shark or ray. And don’t think you’ll be able to create a nice reef scape if you want to keep elasmobrachs, as they need a lot of open swimming room with little decor. Conclusion: a limited number of small sharks and rays is suitable for home aquariums, although a single species set-up works best in most cases and you’re best off leaving it to the experts.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #3 Ribbon Eels

Some fish species sold in aquarium stores aren’t just best left to experienced aquarists; they’re best left in the wild . Ribbon eels are one of those species. Although some aquarists appear to have had moderate success keeping them, most ribbon eels end up deceased within a few weeks of purchase. A real shame, as they’re fascinating to see and feature gorgeous coloration.

So what’s so bad about ribbon eels? The main problem is their diet. These relatives of moray eels naturally eat small fish, but will often refuse feeders in the aquarium and end up wasting away. Additionally, they are very easily stressed and might pass away quickly after shipping or transport to your home. If you want to attempt to keep this species, a single fish set-up is probably the way to go. But honestly, your best option is to just skip it altogether.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #2 Seahorses

Seahorses are a typical species that seems great in theory (not too large! Very cute!) but doesn’t really work out as expected in most cases. Although experienced saltwater aquarists might be able to keep their seahorses alive, their complicated care is likely a bit too much for the average beginner.

Seahorses need specialized aquarium set-ups, so they’re best suited to single species tanks or aquariums with very friendly tankmates. You’ll need to provide a specialized diet (fed 3+ times a day), a tall tank and relatively cool, high quality water for the horses to have a shot at surviving. Sound intimidating? We can imagine. There are plenty of other fascinating species out there that are easier to keep and might be a better option.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid: #1 Gorilla Crabs

Alright, gorilla crabs (named after their spikey appearance) aren’t actually commonly sold for reefs. Why? Because they’re considered massively annoying pests. They’re still on this list, though, because they’re common hitchhikers that might end up in your tank sooner or later.

Gorilla crabs are carnivores that will consume anything that they can get their claws on. This can eventually escalate from inverts to live fish, so it’s a good idea to remove them as soon as you spot them in your reef. Easier said than done, though: gorilla crabs are notoriously difficult to catch. You can try the inverted plastic bottle trick to lure the crab out, or try to catch it at night using a flash light as this species is nocturnal.

Top 10 Species Beginners Should Avoid was written by are friend Mason of

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