Marine animals

Best suited fish for marine aquariums

There are so many marine organisms suitable for your aquarium that they cannot be listed here. Nevertheless we would like to pass on some information and tips.

Animal species in marine water

Unlike in the freshwater aquarium you will find lots of other animal species apart from fish in the seas. These include: Hydrozoans, sponges, hard and soft corals, anemones, snails, slugs and mussels, squids, flatworms, tube worms, starfish, brittle stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sea squirts.

Fish families

Surgeonfish (Acanthuridae)

Its name derives from the scalpel-like spines, which this family of about 80 species has on its tail ends.

Many surgeonfish are schooling fish, but because of their size need a lot of space (smaller species from 400 l upwards). In general they are good algae eaters. If there are not enough algae available in your aquarium you need to feed a good food with a high proportion of algae ( JBL Maris , JBL MariPearls ).

Cardinalfish (Apogonidae)

This species broods its eggs in its mouth and some, such as the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni), are therefore easy to breed.

This is a peaceful fish growing up to 12 cm long, which can also be kept in smaller aquariums (200 l upwards). Food: JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , JBL Maris , JBL MariPearls .

Triggerfish (Balistidae)

Unfortunately all triggerfish need to be kept in very large aquariums (from 1000 l) and the majority is also incompatible with each other and eats corals.

Therefore only two species are suitable as plankton eaters for large aquariums: the black triggerfish (Melichthys niger) and the red-toothed triggerfish (Odonus niger). But both become 50 cm long!!!

Food: JBL PlanktonPur MEDIUM .

Combtooth blennies (Blenniidae)

Cute-looking, small fish, which eat small animals and often also algae.

Please be careful to find out how large your selected species becomes; there are species which remain small (8 cm) but also long growing species (18 cm).

Food: Many combtooth blenny species are algae and/or small animal eaters. JBL PRONOVO TAB M , JBL PRONOVO SPIRULINA FLAKES M , JBL PRONOVO SPIRULINA GRANO M and also JBL Maris are very suitable.

Dragonets (Callionymidae)

The most popular species of this family are mandarinfish which remain small, are peaceful and are suitable for aquariums from 100 litres.

They live on microorganisms in the aquarium but don’t like dry food much. Therefore the aquarium needs to be well established to ensure there is a microfauna.

Butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae)

Most species are specialised coral eaters, which grow large and are therefore unsuitable for most aquariums.

But there are exceptions: Chaetodon kleinii (14 cm), Chelmon rostratus (20 cm).

Food: most butterflyfish are specialist feeders and you need to find out whether the species also accept alternative food. Almost all eat JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , sometimes JBL Maris or JBL MariPearls . In addition often live food, such as Mysis and Artemia or frozen food.

Hawkfish (Cirrhitidae)

Likes living in a harem as male with several females.

Eats small shrimps but no corals. From 200 l upwards. It is sometimes difficult to accustom it to substitute food. With JBL PlanktonPur MEDIUM it almost always successful!

Gobies (Gobiidae)

A lot of goby species are the perfect, small aquarium dweller.

They can easily be accustomed to flake, granulate or plankton food. The leave corals alone and need a minimum 200 liter tank. The exceptions are the tiny 3-7 cm coral gobies (Gobiodon okinawae) which can be kept in aquariums of only 80 litres. Many gobies live in pairs and some like to dig in the substrate (Valenciennea puellaris, V. strigata).

Food: Many goby species can be easily given many different types of food. Only very few species are difficult. Almost all eat JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , very often also JBL Maris and JBL MariPearls .

Basslets (Grammatidae)

Very beautiful animals which grow only 8-10 cm in length.

Feed on plankton ( JBL PlanktonPur MEDIUM ).

Wrasses (Labridae)

A very species-rich family, which includes very diverse types, from the over 2 m large growing Napoleon wrasse to the 6 cm small Minilabrus striatus from the Red Sea.

The popular cleaner fish (Labroides dimidiatus) also belong to the wrasses. Wrasses are very lively fish which swim around all the time, mostly to look for food. Some species sleep in the sand and like to eat worms (even tube worms). Green birdmouth wrasses (Gomphosus caerulens) are often used to combat bristle worms in aquariums.

Food: Choose the most appropriate food for the size of the species. Most species are not choosy. Very well suited: JBL PlanktonPur SMALL very often also JBL Maris and JBL MariPearls .

Longfins (Plesiopidae)

The comet (Calloplesiops altivelis) must be one of the most beautiful reef dwellers and it has already been bred in aquariums.

Although it grows up to 20 cm it gets along with 500 l. It doesn’t eat any corals but it does eat small shrimps.

Food: Longfins are small animal predators that like to eat live and frozen food, but also JBL Maris and JBL MariPearls .

Marine angelfish (Pomacanthidae)

The large marine angelfish species are not only unsuitable for aquariums because of their size but also because of their penchant for eating corals and sponges.

Only the smaller centropyges can sometimes be ideal aquarium dwellers with their incredibly beautiful colours. A lot of species leave corals more or less alone and are very compatible with other fish. You can keep well most centropyges in aquariums from 200 litres upwards.

Food: Large marine angelfish species are often troublesome in the reef aquarium, as they eat corals and sponges. They have no problem with substitute foods such as JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , JBL Maris and JBL MariPearls . But they often won’t leave the living corals alone. Live and frozen food is also readily and greedily accepted.

Anemonefish (Amphiprion species)

These damselfish, known to everyone from the film Nemo, are perfect aquarium dwellers if you have an aquarium of at least 200 litres.

They need a symbiotic anemone in which they live. Anemonefish also accept other coral species as a substitute for anemones, but this is not an ideal situation.

Food: All anemonefish are small animal predators that like to feed on JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , live food and frozen food, but also JBL Maris and JBL MariPearls . It’s not difficult to get them used to new foods.

Damselfish (Chromis, Chrysiptera, Dascyllus, Pomacentrus species)

Sociable small shoal fish which definitely need to be kept in a small group.

These plankton eaters are very active swimmers which can easily starve because of their high energy consumption. When fed at least 4 times a day they can be kept easily and are very resilient.

Food: Choose the most appropriate food for the size of the species. Most species are not choosy. Very well suited: JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , very often also JBL Maris and for larger fish JBL MariPearls .

Dottybacks (Pseudochromis species)

Very colourful species which, with their maximum length of 7 cm, are ideal for aquariums of 200 litres and more.

Do not harm corals, but eat small shrimps. If you plan to socialise several animals you will need to provide them with many hiding places.

Food: Choose the most appropriate food for the size of the species. Most species are not choosy. Very well suited: JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , very often also JBL Maris and for larger fish JBL MariPearls .

Anthiadinae (Anthias and Pseudanthias species)

Plankton-eating shoal fish in free water.

Size 12-15 cm. Aquarium size from 400 l. Need at least 4 feeds per day ( JBL PlanktonPur SMALL ). Only partially accept further foods. Pseudanthias squamipinnis is the easiest to keep.

Rabbitfish (Siganidae)

The foxface rabbitfish (Siganus vulpinus) is the only member of this family suitable for aquariums of 600 l upwards

They grow up to 24 cm and are often used to combat Volvox.

Food: They are usually omnivores. Some of them are also good algae eaters. If there are not enough algae available in the aquarium, you need to supplement a good food with high algae share ( JBL Maris , JBL PRONOVO SPIRULINA FLAKES M , JBL PRONOVO SPIRULINA GRANO M , JBL MariPearls ).

Seahorses (Syngathidae)

Seahorses are NOT suitable for community reef aquariums although they are not difficult to keep and are often bred.

They are very slow eaters and tend to lose out in company of other fish. It is no problem to keep them in a dedicated seahorse aquarium.

Food: live food, happy to feed on live large Artemia; some animals can also get accustomed to substitute food.

You can easily produce live brine shrimps (Artemia) yourself: Put Artemia eggs ( JBL ArtemioPur ) with salt food mixture ( JBL ArtemioSal ) into a culture device ( JBL ArtemioSet ), let them hatch and use them for feeding. Or let them grow and then use them as food. Freshly hatched crustaceans (nauplii) always have the greatest nutritional value.



Most corals, kept in marine aquariums, originate from shallow water (reef top) and have symbiotic algae, which live in their tissues and feed the coral mainly through their metabolic products.

In return the coral protects the algae. Firstly we distinguish between hard and soft corals, depending on their skeletal structure. The systematic classification of the cnidarians, to which the corals and jellyfish belong, is not easy to understand, because the colloquial distinction between hard and soft corals is not quite correct. For you, as an aquarium owner, it is not necessarily important to know the correct biological assignment. More decisive is, to know the coral’s demands: light requirement, current requirement, requirements to the water quality, predators, necessary additional feeding and eventually also the reproduction.

Stony corals: Stony corals form a hard skeleton, hence the name. For the skeleton structure and healthy growth it is important to monitor and, if required, to adjust the carbonate hardness, the calcium and magnesium content, and to add trace elements on a regular basis. All coral species will grow perfectly with these trace elements: JBL TraceMarin 1

Furthermore it is important that stony corals receive sufficient and suitable light. The symbiotic algae, included in their tissue, provide the corals with nutrients and depend on light. Light feeding with JBL Korall Fluid strengthens the corals and promotes the colours.

Popular genera are: Stylophora, Seriatopora, Pocillopora, Acropora, Montipora, Porites, Goniopora, Fungia, Heliofungia, Catalaphyllia, Plerogyra, Trachyphyllia, Caulastrea, Favia, Acanthastrea, Scolymia, Tubastrea.

Soft corals: Despite the name not all soft corals are really soft. Some species form hard skeletons (organ pipe coral, blue coral). Although most species don’t form hard skeletons, they still need the minerals stony corals need for their skeleton structure. This is because soft corals have lime nodules (sclerites) in their soft tissue which need these minerals and trace elements. A lot of very colourful soft coral species require little light but require feeding with plankton ( JBL PlanktonPur MEDIUM , JBL Korall Fluid ).

An additional feeding, of course, always comes along with water pollution. We therefore DO NOT recommend beginners keep the only plankton-eating species (Scleronepthya, Dendronephthya, Siphonogorgia, Nephtyigorgia, Diodogorgia, Menella).

Other soft corals are ideal for beginners, grow well and are easy to care for. They include Clavularia, Pachyclavularia, Sarcophyton, Lobophytum, Sinularia, Xenia, Muricea, Pinnigorgia.


Fire jellyfish belong to the most unpopular animal species in the sea.

A lot of jellyfish are so delicate and graceful that people often want them for their aquariums. This, however, is not normally possible. Jellyfish require a special, ornament-free aquarium with a slight current which moves the animals in a circular direction. They need to be in constant gentle motion without getting caught or snagged on anything. Feeding small jellyfish species with plankton ( JBL PlanktonPur SMALL or JBL PlanktonPur MEDIUM ) or even live artemia is not difficult.


Among the crustaceans there are very useful and beautiful animals which act as cleaner shrimps and free the fish from pests and/or eat algae. There are also some very predatory species which eat everything they can find at night.

Of the many crabs in existence there are really only two species which are commonly bought and kept: the anemone crab or porcelain crab (Neopetrolisthes maculatus) and a few algae-eating crabs as the nimble spray crap (Percnon gibbesi). Most other crab species are predators and some are very large. They are mostly introduced inadvertently with living stones. If you notice an inexplicable fish loss try observing your aquarium with a red light at night for such a predator. Unfortunately catching them is not easy and often only possible with traps.


Shrimps are a must-have for anyone who doesn’t keep large predatory fish.

The animals look beautiful, are very interesting and often very useful.

Among the shrimps you will find helpful cleaner shrimps, shrimps which eat bristle worms or just nice looking species for each aquarium to make all heads turn. Only the bizarre harlequin shrimp can’t be kept permanently because it only feeds off starfish. Mostly the feeding of shrimps is very simple. Their olfactory organs are very well developed to trace the food in any corner of the aquarium, even when most of the fish have lost track of it.


Slugs must be amongst the most colourful sea dwellers of all. But they are mostly difficult or impossible to keep because they often only eat one food, e.g. a single sponge species.

If this nutrition is not present in your aquarium the slug will not survive.

There are species of snails which can easily be kept, even reproduce to some extent and help you to combat algae (Turbo and Nerita species) or to loosen your soil (Mitra species). Take care when keeping cowries (Cypraeidae)! Many species are coral eaters.


The most popular and most beautiful clams are the Tridacna species to which also belongs the (unfairly) notorious “killer clam” (giant clam).

With strong, suitable lighting, and a good water quality they are not difficult to keep. Essential is a KH of at least 7 and a calcium content of around 440 mg/l. There are some other clam species which can be successfully kept, but they are best left to the experts.


You rarely intentionally purchase sponges.

You tend to get sponges growing on the living stones you purchase. Some sponge species die off while others will flourish. Sponges are filtering organisms which require some plankton food ( JBL PlanktonPur SMALL ). Sponges have, like soft corals, lime nodules in their tissue which only can properly form if the KH has at least 7 ° KH and a calcium content of at least 390 mg/l.


Some very beautiful starfish species are easy to keep in well established aquariums.

Keeping feather stars is more difficult since, as filter feeder, they need special plankton nutrition. There are also predatory starfish which are unsuitable for marine aquariums because they eat corals, other invertebrates and sometimes even fish (e.g. Oreaster reticulatus/cushion seastar).

For all starfish you have to be careful not to lift them out of the water and to get them slowly accustomed to the new water, when relocating them. Most imported starfish species originate from the Ophidiasteridae family. They are not choosy with their food and they eat aquarium growth, microscopically small algae and microorganisms in the growth and detritus. The best-known starfish in this family is the blue star (Linckia laevigata). If you find a lot of small starfish on the inside of your aquarium panes, you probably have an Asterina species which quickly reproduces in good conditions. The harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera picta) eats starfish and can be used to prevent their excessive reproduction. However, they perish when starfish are no longer available as nutrition.

Sea urchins

The class of the sea urchins is very diverse.

There are long-spined Diadematidae, short-spined toxic species (Asthenosoma varium) and rough-spined urchins (Cidaridae). Many species are excellent algae eaters which tend to scratch off everything from the lower ground there is to scratch off. Unfortunately this also includes invertebrates which have settled there and have just started growing. Once they have reached a certain size, however, they are safe from the sea urchins. Rough-spined urchins, for example, are very well suited for reef aquariums. And Mespilia globulus don’t damage invertebrates and don’t eat the beautiful red coralline algae.

Sea cucumbers

Most sea cucumbers are useful rather than pretty: they chew through the substrate to find food and loosen it that way.

They are rarely threatened by predators and can be very resilient. But there are also species which develop tentacles with which they filter plankton from the water. These species are often very colourful (e.g. sea apples, Pseudocolochirus species). These sea cucumber species, as all filter feeders, need to be supplied with plankton food separately ( JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , JBL Korall Fluid ).

Occasionally there are reports that the poisonous emission (holothurin) of sea apple species causes fish loss. However with good care conditions this will not happen.

Sea squirts

Among the sea squirts you can find incredibly beautifully coloured and graceful species which are real gems.

Sea squirts are filter feeders which, especially for the larger species, mostly require a little supplementary feeding with plankton ( JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , JBL Korall Fluid ). Sea squirts are harmless, firmly anchored invertebrates which would never harm anyone, but might be eaten by fish or hungry sea urchins.

Tube worms

Unlike bristle worms tube worms are very popular and desirable aquarium dwellers.

Their colourful tentacle crowns look very pretty! They filter plankton from the water and need to be supplied with a bit of food ( JBL PlanktonPur SMALL , JBL Korall Fluid ).

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