Hardiest Saltwater Fish for Beginners

If you are a beginner hobbyist looking for suitable fish for your first saltwater aquarium then you must ensure that they are hardy.

As a new fishkeeper, you will need time to learn and grow as you become more experienced, which can be pretty tricky if you keep non-hardy fish that are difficult to keep healthy.

Hardy fish are those that can handle changes and swings in water chemistry without it negatively affecting their health, as well as changes to salinity, nutrient levels, temperature, and pH.

Not only this, but hardy fish are easy to feed, not requiring a special diet, or specialized feeding.

The last characteristic of hardy saltwater fish is that they are not prone to disease, and are able to fight off harmful parasites much better than non-hardy fish can.

Top 7 Hardiest Beginner Saltwater Fish List

Now that you know what it takes to be a hardy fish, and also ones suitable for beginner hobbyists or those that simply do not have the time, we will now dive straight into our list of our top 7 beginner-friendly and hardy saltwater fish that you can acquire for a relatively trouble-free aquarium!

1. Blue Green Chromis

The blue/green chromis fish is a brilliant place to start when it comes to hardy and beginner-friendly fish. They are not only peaceful, hardy, and easy to care for, but they share very broad tank requirements with most other saltwater fish and are compatible with 30-gallon or larger fish tanks, which is a common size for new fish keepers.

Blue Green Chromis Overview:

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Maximum Size: 5 inches (12.7 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 15 years
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons (113.5 Liters)

2. Ocellaris Clownfish

We couldn't do a list of hardy and beginner saltwater fish without mentioning the popular ocellaris clownfish!

Gathering their fame from the infamous Finding Nemo film series, this clownfish subspecies has to be one of the most beautiful, unique, peaceful, and most importantly, hardy fish in the hobby to date.

Ocellaris Clownfish Overview:

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Maximum Size: 3 inches (7.62 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 10 years in captivity, but this number greatly varies - check out our clownfish lifespan post to find out more
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons (75.7 Liters)

3. Banggai Cardinalfish

Banggai cardinalfish is a favorite of many hobbyists - they are schooling fish with brilliant personalities, and of course, they are extremely hardy and beginner-friendly too.

Their appearance is unique, sporting a silver body with three black stripes running vertically across it and an unusual body shape and incredibly long fins.

Banggai Cardinalfish Overview

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful/Semi-Aggressive
  • Maximum Size: 3 inches (7.62 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 5 years
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons (113.5 Liters)

4. Yellow Watchman Goby

Yellow watchman gobies are seriously entertaining fish, and not to mention their appearance is awesome too. They are very hardy fish and can also be kept with a whole host of tank mates.

Watchman gobies will undoubtedly provide you with hours of entertainment, with their distinctive behavior and also their symbolic relationship with saltwater shrimp!

Yellow Watchman Goby Overview

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Maximum Size: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 5 years
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons (113.5 Liters)

5. Royal Gramma

Royal grammas are quite possibly the most beautiful and mesmerizing fish on our list due to their bright purple and yellow colored body. They are also one of the hardiest saltwater fish too and are peaceful by nature, making them a must-get beginner-friendly fish.

Royal Gramma Overview

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Maximum Size: 3 inches (7.62 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 6 years
  • Diet: Planktivore (will also eat brine and mysis shrimp)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons (113.5 Liters)

6. Midas Blenny

These guys have their own wacky personalities and behavior that make them incredibly endearing. They showcase a beautiful golden-yellow coloration, with a slightly blue under-chin.

Midas blennies are one of the hardiest fish too, not to mention they are super easy to care for.

Midas Blenny Overview

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Maximum Size: 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 5 years
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons (113.5 Liters)

7. Pajama Cardinalfish

Another favorite here at Lionfish Lair is the pajama cardinalfish, and fortunately for you, they are not only beginner-friendly, but they are hardy little guys too!

They are closely related to the banggai cardinalfish, sharing a similar body shape, however, that is where the similarities end. Pajama cardinals have perhaps the most unusual pattern display out of any saltwater fish, with a mixture of spots and stripes, they are truly awesome to watch go about their business. Learn more about the pajama cardinal through our care guide.

Pajama Cardinalfish Overview

  • Care level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Maximum Size: 3.5 inches (9 cm)
  • Temperature: 72 - 78°F (22 - 25.5°C)
  • Maximum Lifespan: 5 years
  • Diet: Cardinalfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons (75.7 Liters)

As you can see from the fish that appear on our list - they all share similar tank requirements and identical temperature ranges, making them more than compatible with each other too, if your saltwater fish tank is large enough.

Final Thoughts

There may be some fish on our list that might not be your cup of tea (or coffee!), and if so, that is totally fine, there are other hardy fish out there.

As a saltwater fish beginner, or someone with more experience and less time on their hands, it is important to take into account the requirements that we have mentioned here when you decide on your own easy-to-care for saltwater fish.

They must be incredibly hardy fish, as well as peaceful that play well with others, which makes introducing tank mates a far easier and less stressful task.

Your first saltwater fish should also have a wide temperature and pH level range, giving you more room to maneuver and allowing for a few easily made beginner hobbyist mistakes.

Good luck - we hope that this will help you out with your saltwater fishkeeping journey.