Keeping a reef aquarium full of community fish in school is a great project. Like any project you get into, a little research goes along way. We have 5 reef tanks in our classroom and we are thinking about adding a sixth tank. I have compiled 10 community fish to add to a reef tank that will be easy to establish to your tank. This is Romans top 10 favorites for a reef tank.
The Firefish Loves to be a Community Fish
these are such a great addition to your tank one of the most docile community fish you can own. The way the white transfers to red and blends is absolutely beautiful. These fish are so non-aggressive its unreal, when I put more snails and hermit crabs into my tank and he went and hid for at least two days. This may worry you however when adding fish to your tank they get scared and hide for sometimes up to a couple weeks don’t worry they are just hiding and should come back out, mine did it too!
The watchman goby is a very colorful community fish many of them have small intricate dots that are beautiful when looking closely. Some of them are plain as well there are many different colors that can vary upon your choice. The coolest part about this fish is its symbiosis with the pistol shrimp. The pistol shrimp has bad eyesight and depends on the goby for protection, in return the pistol shrimp digs intricate holes dens even for the goby to rest in since the dwell in the sand. The pistol shrimp are beautiful as well with red and white stripes.
Tangs are a great fish for any saltwater tank, most of them are pretty docile. And they are great maintenance fish they LOVE algae they will eat the algae off of your rocks and will clear your coral of any pests or micro organisms. They come in various colors so many its insane you may know one as Casper he is a white tang belonging to World Wide Corals, my favorites are the powder brown and powder blue tangs.
Clown Goby: A great Community Fish
All though these fish are calm and peaceful they still carry some great colors! The yellow clown goby could be a solid bright yellow while the other could perhaps be a citrus green and red striped clown goby. However when being that size there are some problems they can hide in small places where you can’t see them for sometime. But they will add great diversity to your tank.
Many wrasse start out small and grow large, but some grow to the size of your tank. These fish have many patterns with very bright colors. This is the best part about them they tend to have very small shapes in large groups with bright colors when focused on fully show their beauty. Fun Fact is majority of these wrasse tend to hide in the sand to escape predators at night so do be afraid if you don’t see them sometimes.
Now this is probably one of the most well known fish being from the movie Finding Nemo, they come in so many shapes and sizes you wouldn’t even imagine the colors that can be produced. But these clowns are semi aggressive fish with the maroons being more aggressive than the rest. Clowns actually believe it or not can change gender based on dominance, which entitles them as a semi aggressive fish. Between each other the clowns may lip lock or pick at each other often until a size difference is obvious. That will be the more dominant clown which will be the female the male will become the smaller one. Now there should be no need to remove a fish unless there is ripping of the fins or high aggression to other tank mates. In my tank my clowns only pick at each other and have never touched my fire fish or my watchman goby even once.
While being not very colorful with browns blacks and whites these fish are very docile and personable species. They come in two very known types the banggai and the pajama cardinal. The pajama cardinal are known to have a brown dotted back half of the body with white fins while the front half has a dull yellow with a big red eye, but my favorite the banggai cardinal has black and white stripes with white dots absolutely stunning.
The blennies are sort of like a goby bottom dwelling and kind of swim then relax community fish. However most of them aren’t that bright. Don’t get me wrong they love grass and algae and are great companions to your tank. Most of them have weird shaped fins and patterns made to look like things in their environment such as the sailfin blenny. But some out of no where are absolutely beautiful with large and small dorsal fins, spotted dots, or dark and light array of bright colors such as the tessellated blennies and the gulf signal blenny.
These fish are very beautiful fish the most known of these is the flame angel. These are a deep orange fish with blue backfins and black stripes. However this species tend to be very expensive though with the flame angel being about 75$. However some can be as low as 15 dollars. Think of them as a small tang however some of them may find a taste for coral and may eat some of it or go on a frenzy. If so you will have to remove your fish when you start to realize it. But I believe it’s worth the risk.
Dottybacks as Community Fish
Dottybacks are amazing fish. They come in all different colors. They possess a strong attitude and strong personality. Dottybacks tend to be a more dominant fish and should be one of the last fish added to your reef. They have been known to dominate fish twice their size. They will cost you from $20 – $50.
By Roman Panarello
A student in Garnet Valley (in their aquarium program)