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Saltwater Fish and Invertebrate
Care and Compatibility Guide

With the outstanding assortment of beautiful saltwater fish to choose from, it is no wonder that so many hobbyists dream of maintaining a marine aquarium. This guide is intended to answer many of the questions a novice marine aquarist may have, and to provide some basic guidelines for selecting and caring for saltwater fish and invertebrates. In addition, we hope that every saltwater hobbyist will read several good, current books on the subject. Please ask us for suggestions.

Which fish get along? The Compatibility Table will help with selecting fish that are likely to get along. In addition, the three following rules will usually apply:

  1. Any fish that will fit into another fish's mouth usually ends up there.
  2. The less related any two fish are, the more likely they will get along.
  3. The less two fish resemble one another, the more likely they will get along.

Care and Compatibility Table

  • a. PEACEFUL - not commonly known to bother other fish.
  • b. SPIRITED - normally peaceful, but may chase slow species.
  • c. MILDLY AGGRESSIVE - should not be kept with slow or timid species.
  • d. AGGRESSIVE - should be kept with larger, active fish.
  • e. TERRITORIAL - attempts to drive away fish of the same or related species and even unrelated fish with similar shape or colors.
  • f. PUGNACIOUS - not acceptable in community tanks.
  • g. VULNERABLE - likely to be harassed, picked on, or fin nipped by other fish, sometimes even by otherwise peaceful fish.
  • h. CHANGEABLE - may be mixed with other fish when young, but may become more aggressive when older, and may eat smaller fish.
  • i. HARDY - tolerant of various water conditions and not commonly affected by hard to treat diseases.
  • j. MODERATELY HARDY - a good specimen for a healthy aquarium.
  • k. TOUCHY - sensitive to water quality or disease prone.
  • l. SUBJECT TO "ICH" - particularly sensitive to this common but treatable parasite.
  • m. FAST GROWTH - may become much larger than purchased size.
  • n. HERBIVOROUS - need additional vegetable matter in the diet.
  • o. CARNIVOROUS - eats primarily "meaty" type foods, including brine shrimp, plankton or fish of suitable size.
  • p. EATS SESSILE INVERTEBRATES - feeds on or kills anemones, live corals, sponges, feather dusters or live rocks.
  • q. EATS MOTILE INVERTEBRATES - feeds on or kills shrimp, crabs or starfish.
  • r. SPECIAL FOOD - may require a special diet to remain healthy.
  • s. FILTER FEEDER - requires liquified foods.

Angel

annularis = b,e,k,n,p,r
bicolor = a,e,k,n
black or french = b,e,h,j,m,n,p
blue or queen = b,e,h,j,m,n,p
blue face = a,e,j,n,p
blue girdled = a,e,j,n,p
coral beauty = a,e,j,n
flagfin = a,e,k,n,p
flame = a,e,j,n
flameback = a,e,j,n
imperator = a,e,h,k,l,n,p
koran = b,e,j,n,p
lemon peel = a,e,k,n
passer's = d,e,h,i,n,p
potter's = a,e,j,n
regal = a,g,k,n,p,r
rock beauty = a,e,h,k,l,n,p,r
tibicen =a,e,j,n
yellow = a,e,j,n

Angler

common = a,g,i,m.o,q,r

Anthias

purple queen = a,g,i,o
pink square = a,j,o

Basslet

harlequin = a,i,o,q
royal gramma = a,e,i,o

Batfish

orbicularis = b,e,g,h,i,m,p
pinnatus = a,e,g,j,k,p
teira = b,e,g,h,i,m,p

Blenny

misc. = c,e,i,o
scooter = a,i,o,r

Butterfly

auruiga = a,e,j,o,p
black back = a,e,j,o,p
blue spot = a,e,k,o,p,r
blue stripe = a,e,j,o,p
copperband = a,e,k,o,p,r
punctato = a,e,j,o,p
falcula = a,e,j,o,p
foureye = a,e,j,o,p
fourspot = a,e,j,f,o,p
heniochus = a,e,g,j,o,p
latticed = a,e,j,o,p
longnose = a,e,j,o,p
melon = a,e,k,o,p,r
mertense = a,e,j,o,p
ornate = a,e,k,o,p,r
pakistan = a,e,k,o,p,r
pearlscale = a,e,j,o,p
pelewenses = a,e,j,o,p
racoon = a,e,j,o,p
saddleback = a,e,j,o,p
teardrop = a,e,j,o,p
triangle = a,e,k,o,p,r
vagabond = a,e,j,o,p
zoster = a,e,j,o,p

Cardinal

spotted = b,e,i,o

Clown

maroon = c,e,i
melanopus = c,e,i
percula = a,e,j
sebae = a,e,i
tomato = b,e,i

Damsel

blue = b,e,i
green chromis = a,g,j
three spot = b,e,i
2,3, or 4 stripe = b,e,i
yellow = c,e,i
yellowtail blue = b,e,i

Drumfish

high hat = c,i,p
jack knife = a,g,j,p

Eels

asst. moray = b,h,i,o,q
ribbon = a,k,o,q,r,s?

Filefish

fantail = b,j,o,p,r
orange spot = a,k,o,p,r

Goatfish

asst. = b,e,i,m,p,q

Goby

bar = a,e,i,o
catalina = a,j,o
clown = a,i,o
mandarin = a,e,j,o,r

Grouper

asst. = d,e,h,i,m,o,q
sea betta = a,e,g,i,o,q

Hawk

flame = b,e,i,o,q
longnose = a,e,j,o,q
spotted = b,e,i,o,q

Hogfish

asst. = a,h,i,o,p,q

Lion

dwarf = a,h,j,m,o,q,r
fu man chu = a,h,j,m,o,q,r
volitans = a,h,j,m,o,q,r

Moorish Idol

idol = a,g,k,o,p,r

Parrot

bicolor = a,e,j,o,p,q

Porkfish

all = b,j,p,q

Pseudochromis

all = b,e,i,o

Rabbitfish

foxface = a,e,i,p

Ray

asst. = a,g,j,o,p,q,r
blue dot = a,g,k,o,p,q,r

Seahorse

all = a,g,k,o,r

Shark

leopard = d,h,j,o,q,r
nurse = d,h,i,m,o,q,r

Snapper

red emperor = c,e,h,i,m,o,q

Sweetlips

spotted = b,e,h,k,m,o,q,r
striped = b,e,g,h,k,o,q,r

Squirrel

all = a,i,o,q

Tang

achilles = b,e,g,k,n,p
blue (Atl.) = c,e,h,i,m,n
blue (Pac.) = a,e,j,l,n
chevron = b,e,g,j,n
clown = b,e,g,j,n
convict = b,e,g,j,n
naso = a,e,g,j,n
powder blue = b,e,j,n
powder brown = b,e,j,n
sailfin = c,e,i,m,n
yellow eye = e,i.,n

Trigger

clown = d,e,h,j,m,o,p,q
picasso = c,e,h,i,m,o,p,q
niger = c,e,h,i,m,o,p,q
undulated = f,h,i,m,o,p,q

Wrasse

bird = b,e,j,o
cleaner = a,e,k,r
coris = a,j,o
tusk = c,e,h,i,o

Invertebrates

Anemone

Atlantic = j,o,r,s
carpet = i,o,r,s
long tentacle = i,o,r,s
sebae = i,o,r,s
tube = i,o,q,r,s

Coral

hard = k,o,r,s
soft, = k,o,r,s

Gorgonian

all = k,o,r,s

Crab

anemone = a,j,o,r,s
arrow = c,e,i,m,o,p,q
hermit = b,h,i,n,o,p,q
horseshoe = a,i,n,o
porcelain = a,j,o,r,s
lightfoot = b,h,i,n,o,p
spider = a,i,n,o,p

Feather Duster

all = a,g,j,r,s

Jellyfish

all = a,j,o,r,s

Lobster

Hawaiian = d,h,i,m,o,p,q
Indian Ocean = b,i,o,p,q

Nudibranch

all = a,k,n,o,p,r

Octopus

all = e,f,h,j,o,p,q,r

Sea Apple

all = a,i,n,p

Sea Fan

all = k,o,r,s

Shell

clam = a,j,r,s
scallop = a,g,j,r,s
cowrie = a,i,n,o,p

Shrimp

coral = b,e,h,i,m,o
camel = a,i,n,o
cleaner = a,i,n,o
fire = a,i,n,o
harlequin = a,j,q,r
mantis = e,f,i,o,q

Sponge

all = a,g,j,r,s

Starfish

African = a,i,o,p
blue = a,k,o,p
brittle = a,i,o,s
chocolate chip = a,i,o,p
serpent = a,i,o,s

Urchin

all = a,j,n,o,p

The information in this guide is based on aquarium literature, personal experience and customer feedback. Exceptions are always possible, but these guidelines should give a basic understanding of the normal behavior of aquarium specimens. Many factors, including tank size, water quality, available hiding places, and even the order in which specimens are added, can affect compatibility.

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