There are numerous saltwater fish that that are perfect for small reef tanks. Nano tanks are a great option for getting into saltwater fish keeping. Not only are these aquariums affordable, but can also house several fish species and corals. Since nano aquariums are typically less than 30-35 gallons, choices must be thought out in advance.

The Best Fish for Nano Reef Tanks Includes:

  • Clown fish (ocellaris)
  • Royal Gramma
  • Pajama Cardinal
  • Coral Beauty Angelfish
  • Clown Goby
  • Firefish Goby
  • Blue Green Chromis
  • Shrimp Goby
  • Skunk Clown
  • Sixline Wrasse

The fish suggested above, are suitable for nano reef tanks because of a few key factors: they do not grow large, are not aggressive, and a generally peacful. Let’s talk a little about these incredible creatures.

If you plan on keeping corals, make sure to research each fish and their compatibility before introducing fish into your aquarium.

Clown fish (ocellaris):

The clownfish is one of the most popular reef fish in the hobby. The scientific name is Amphiprion ocellaris, however there are several common names such anemonefish, false clown false percula, and of-course Nemo! Clowns are commonly available at local and online marine stores. These reef fish are extremely hardy, and easy to care for.

However, the price range can vary significantly. Just recently I visited my local fish store, and found a range from $20 to $150 for a clown fish!

Learn more about clown fish here.

Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto):

The royal gramma is a bicolored fish. The back half of the fish is bright yellow or orange, and the front half is purple. This is a perfect nano reef fish, as it is great for beginners. The royal gramma is known to be hardy, and peaceful among other fish.

Similar to other smaller fish, this one prefers plenty of hiding spaces such as caves, ledges, and other protective areas. You should not keep more than one per nano tank. Overall, you will be pleased with the royal gramma!

Learn more about the royal gramma fish here.

Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera):

The Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera) is a great option for mini reef aquariums. This hardy fish also has been referred to “polka-dot-cardinalfish” in the aquarium hobby. You can see why this fish has obtained this nickname because of the pronounced dots. Additionally their striking greenish/yellow face, sliver colored body, and orange eyes. It’s easy to see why this fish can be an excellent addition to your reef tank.

The pajama cardinal is a peaceful reef fish and will blend perfectly in your marine tank. Learn more about the Pajama cardinalfish here


Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge bispinosus):

The coral beauty is a hardy fish and generally peaceful, a perfect candidate for a mini aquarium. Typically, you should only keep one angel fish in your nano tank. You should make sure they are well fed, as they are known to sometimes pick at coral polys and tubeworms.

The coral beauty is an incredibly unique and stunning fish. It is a favorite among reef enthusiasts around the world, as its easy to care for and more importantly readily available. Also known as a dwarf angelfish, make sure to have plenty of places for them to hide.


Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris magnifica):

The Firefish Goby is a great addition to any saltwater aquarium, especially a nano reef tank. One of the best qualities is their attractive colors. Truly a keeper the firefish goby will quickly win you over. Also known as the “dartfish” they are known to “dart” quickly if feeling threatened.


Blue Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)

The Blue Green Chromis is a great candidate for any reef tank, including smaller aquariums. It is known for being a peaceful inhabitant that gets along with any fish and is safe around invertebrates and corals. Further, the Green Chromis is hardy and an ideal choice for beginner and experienced reef aquarists.

green chromis
Six Line Wrasse
The Six Line Wrasse is known to be a peaceful reef fish, however, it can also be somewhat aggressive. This beautiful fish serves a beneficial role in your mini tank by pecking at algae and parasites. If purchasing from your local fish store, make sure to ask about compatibility with other fish. When placing a six line wrasse in a nano tank, also make sure to limit the amount of fish so that there is plenty of room!

Learn more about the six line wrasse here

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