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Article – Fish For Beginners To Avoid


Fish For Beginner Aquarists To Avoid

What’s the best part of setting up a your new aquarium? Picking out your fish! And while there is a vast selection of fish to choose from, some are better choices than others. If you’ve never managed a marine aquarium before, you could find yourself struggling to meet the demands of some of these more difficult species.

Choosing fish can sometimes create a desire for something you know you should not and can not have. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of species we believe beginner aquarists should avoid. 

Remember these are recommendations for the ‘Beginner’. Once you have an established aquarium and some experience, every one of these fish can be kept with ease so long as you provide it with the correct environment!



Predatory Fish

Sharks / Stingray / Eels / Lionfish / Triggerfish / Cod / Groupers / Anglerfish

The majority of these species will actively hunt and eat other fish if the opportunity presents itself.  Some species listed here will also be extremely difficult to transition from eating live food (shrimp/small fish) onto prepared and frozen foods. Some species listed here will also, dependant on species, grow quite large and require a large aquarium. 

Seahorse & Pipefish

Whilst Seahorse and Pipefish may look extremely unique, these little specimens require a huge amount of dedication.  

Firstly, they are not great swimmers and do not compete for food so a dedicated, species specific aquarium is best. They may be housed with other fish but only peaceful community fish are recommended.

Diseases are another threat that is always a threat in any aquarium but in this case, Seahorses are particularly susceptible.


Anthias are beautiful, active fish that many aquarists choose for their “schooling” fish.  They are often expensive as many species are collected from deep water. They are highly susceptible to stress and generally do not acclimate very well into aquariums. Keeping a small group of Anthias can help to reduce that stress but acclimating them can still be tough.

The other issue with Anthias is feeding them properly because they are high energy fish therefore require multiple feedings throughout the day. They need to be fed high quality food at least 3 to 5 times per day which can pose a problem for a aquarium owner.  In turn, this creates additional waste and nutrients in the system that need to be dealt with.

Dragonets / Mandarinfish

Dragonets boast some absolutely stunning colouration and have interesting personalities. That being said, they have very specialised diets with tiny mouths designed to hunt the smallest prey. They naturally hunt for small crustaceans like copepods and amphipods and they do this all day long.  In an aquarium, it can be difficult to maintain a sufficient population of Copepods to sustain a Dragonet, unless manually supplementing or introducing to an established aquarium of a year or more.

The good news is there are captive bred Dragonets available these days which are much better candidates for an aquarium. They will eat frozen foods and small pellets and are already adapted to life in an aquarium.  As long as you can commit to feeding them multiple times per day, the captive bred specimens are always best. 

Copperband Butterflyfish

The Copperband Butterfly is a very finicky eater. Just like the Dragonets and Mandarinfish, they have specialised diets and need to be fed often to stay healthy. So even if you are lucky enough to get a Copperband Butterflyfish that decides to eat in your aquarium, you must constantly supply food for it to stay healthy.

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