Top Saltwater Fish for a 55 Gallon Tank

55 gallon (208 liters) fish tanks are one of the most popular sized aquariums in the hobby for an abundance of reasons. The main ones being that they are not overly burdensome in size for a home, are large enough to house plenty of fish, and are reasonably straightforward to maintain once you have adequate knowledge.

Due to the size of a 55 gallon (208 liters) tank, there are tons of amazing saltwater fish to choose from! Additionally, the majority of the fish that appear on this list are beginner-friendly and hardy, making them compatible with hobbyists of any experience level.

55 gallon saltwater fish

In this guide, we will be detailing the best and most suitable saltwater fish for a 55 gallon (208 liters) tank, as well as taking a look at the classic 55 gallon (208 liters) aquarium dimensions.

It is important to note that if you own a 50 gallon (189 liters) fish tank, which is another popular aquarium size, you can still use the majority of the fish you see on this 55 gallon (208 liters) list unless the description says otherwise.

For a more visual way of consuming this article, why not check out my video below:

Classic Dimensions for a 55 Gallon Aquarium

55-gallon tanks are a popular size, with the majority having a dimension of 48 inches (122 cm) long x 13 inches (33 cm) wide x 21 inches (53 cm) deep.

Despite being a fairly large size, they can still be found and purchased at most pet stores and online. Fortunately, they are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared with even slightly larger tank sizes.

The amount of water they hold as well as their shape of them is great for creating a healthy saltwater aquarium environment. The filled weight of a 55 gallon (208 liters) tank is approximately 625 lbs and when the tank is empty it weighs 78 lbs (35 kg).

Due to 55 gallon (208 liters) tanks being large in size, and weighing a lot, it can be difficult to find a space or an area to place it! Ideally, you will need to acquire a 55 gallon aquarium stand, which are readily available and will solve the issue of where to place it.

Best 55 Gallon Saltwater Fish

The best way of creating a harmonious fish community is by picking compatible and non-aggressive fish from different species that will occupy different territories of your 55 gallon (208 liters) tank.

In addition to the fish that feature on our list, you can use any 40-gallon saltwater fish to fill up a 55 gallon (208 liters) tank and they will have even more room than required, plus you can add a few more.

Top 11 Saltwater Fish Species for a 55 Gallon Aquarium

Listed below are 11 of the best species of fish to populate your 55 gallon saltwater tank. It is important to know how many of each are allowed to live in each sized aquarium and why.

Due to the comparatively large size of the aquarium, you will have many options and flexibility when choosing its inhabitants.

Out of the fish that feature on our list, you can realistically keep between 15 to 18 in a 55-gallon tank.

55 Gallon Saltwater Fish List

1. Dwarf Angelfish

You should only keep one of each dwarf angelfish subspecies, but the best two for a 55-gallon aquarium are the Cherub Angelfish and the Flameback Angelfish.

2. Reef-Safe Wrasse

Any kind of reef-safe wrasse is more than suited to this aquarium size, they will establish a territory quickly and behave well in a community setting but should only be kept individually. Carpenters, Melanurus, Yellow Coris, and Lubbock's Fairy are great options.

3. Marine Betta

Probably the most unusual fish to feature on our list - the Marine Betta is a medium-sized saltwater fish that belongs to the longfin family. They have dark bodies with many white spots and are a unique fish to have in a 55-gallon tank. Due to their size and territorial needs, they must be kept individually, and that is also why they need to be housed in a larger tank.

4. Dwarf Lionfish

Dwarf Lionfish are the smallest form of the incredible Lionfish, they are the best size for a 55-gallon tank or more and are certainly entertaining to watch.

They are pretty aggressive, however, and do not shy away from bullying smaller fish, so be careful with that. You should only keep one lionfish per tank and the best types for this sized aquarium are Fuzzy, Zebra, FuManchu, and Mombasa Dwarf Lionfish.

5. Blenny

Blennies always brighten up aquariums, and, due to the larger size of this one, you have many great options. A singular Tailspot, Two Spot, Canary, Midas, Striped, and Harptail blennies are all perfectly suited to a 55-gallon tank.

6. Cleaner Goby

Not only are cleaner gobies helpful fish, but they also provide much entertainment. Keeping a pair of, or just one Neon, Yellow Line, Shark Nose, or Hybrid Goby is a good choice.

7. Clownfish

Due to there being so many different types of clownfish species, you have many brilliant options. We would recommend keeping 5 or 6 of the smaller species, such as Ocellaris or Percula, and just 1 or 2 of the larger species such as Maroon, Tomato, or Skunk.

8. Chromis

Blue and Green Chromis Fish are well-suited to these larger tanks and will certainly add some awesome color and activity to your fish community. You should keep them individually due to inter-species fighting, but they still remain an excellent choice for a 55 gallon saltwater tank.

9. Dartfish

Dartfish are fantastic little fish, providing bright coloration and patterns, whilst also giving you hours of entertainment. You should look into keeping a singular Firefish, Purple Dartfish, Helfrichi, Zebra, or Scissortail. Fortunately, all of these fish play well with others - take a look at our list of firefish goby tank mates for inspiration.

10. Pufferfish

Puffers are undoubtedly one of the most famous saltwater fish species out there, which is typically down to their unique "puff up", which is an event where their entire body balloons up as a defense mechanism. The best puffer for a 55-gallon tank is an individual Saddle Valenti puffer.

11. Cardinalfish

Both the banggai and pajama cardinalfish are fantastic choices for populating your 55 gallon tank. They are small in size and have peaceful temperaments, not to mention incredibly hardy too, making them brilliant fits for a community tank. Our favorite of the two is the banggai cardinalfish - learn more about caring for them in our banggai cardinal care guide.

Incompatible 55-Gallon Saltwater Fish

The main reason why most of the fish species that feature on our list should be kept singularly is due to them not getting along well with their own, which is why it is advised to mix your community up with lots of different types of fish.

Unless mentioned otherwise, for example, Clownfish and Cleaner Goby, it is best to keep just one fish from the same species. Not only this, but certain species that feature on this list are also incompatible.

So, make sure you do not mix Chromis and Clownfish together, Dottybacks with Basslets, and Wrasses and Gobies. However, you should still consult your local fish or online store and ask about the individual fish profiles to be sure of a certain pairing of different types of fish before you purchase them.

Additionally, there are some fish that simply need a bigger tank. So, why not check out our 65-gallon saltwater fish article for some inspiration if you have or are looking to own a larger aquarium.

55-Gallon Tank Equipment

Listed below is the required equipment for running a healthy and happy 55 gallon saltwater fish community:

  • A 200-watt heater.
  • A protein skimmer.
  • Reef tank LED lighting.
  • An aquarium lid to prevent fish from jumping.
  • A powerhead.
  • Water quality testing kits.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for checking out our comprehensive list! Hopefully, you will have some clear and good ideas as to what you wish to populate your 55 gallon (208 liters) saltwater aquarium with.

There are many other fish that didn't make it on our list, so, if you are looking for something a little different, make sure to research whether or not they are compatible with a 55 gallon (208 liters) tank before purchasing.