A beautiful wild coral reef full of reef safe fish!

Reef Safe Fish For Sale

The reef aquarium hobby is not just about corals. Otherwise, it would be called the coral hobby. It is not just about fish either. If it were, it would be called the saltwater fish hobby (for some people it is that). The reef aquarium hobby is about having corals, fish, and inverts all live in one ecosystem in our homes. Although, the coral is certainly what causes the most satisfaction and frustration. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to grow beautiful corals, which makes it very annoying when a fish is nipping away your corals. For this reason, it is very helpful when a company such as AlgaeBarn has reef safe fish for sale.


The term “reef safe” can mean a lot of things. Many hobbyists will consider a fish that does not bother corals to be reef safe. Others will say it can not bother inverts or crustaceans either. Reef safe can also mean fish that won’t eat other fish.

There are some fish, especially wrasses, that will not touch corals but may go after some inverts. For example, the Melanurus Wrasse will not harm any corals but is known to go after smaller shrimp or any shrimp it can fit into its mouth. This fish is coral safe, but not invert safe. Even then, that is only to some extent. There are also fish that are generally both coral and invert safe but will occasionally nip at a coral. Sometimes it varies from fish to fish. One could have a Coral Beauty in a tank that leaves corals alone, while a Coral Beauty in another tank is nipping on corals all day. The Frogfish is another extreme example of a fish that will not harm corals but is known to devour fish its own size.

Typically, reef safe means a fish does not cause any harm to corals or inverts and is somewhat peaceful towards other fish. Some examples of popular reef safe fish are clownfish, tangs, and gobies. Most aquarium stores sell reef safe fish, but most of those fish are probably not captive bred. AlgaeBarn sells fish that are both reef safe and captive bred, making them perfect for the reef aquarium.

Captive bred fish are born and raised in captivity. This makes them much hardier and accustomed to aquarium life. They are far less likely to get diseases and they eat more convenient foods. Along with all that, buying captive-bred fish also benefits the ocean. The wild collection of marine fish can impact the population size of wild fish in negative ways. It also harms the corals because collectors often use poisonous chemicals to stun the fish and make them easier to collect. If you can choose to buy captive bred fish or wild caught fish, you should, for your own sake, choose captive bred fish anytime you can. Fortunately, AlgaeBarn sells these sorts of fish at algaebarn.com.


The following are reef safe fish for sale at algaebarn.com:

Forktail Blenny (Meiacanthus atrodorsalis)

White Spotted Dwarf Goby (Trimma cf. caesiura)

Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus)

Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)

Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)

Blue Stripe Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus)

Court Jester Goby (Koumansetta rainfordi)


While it is important to know of some reef safe fish, it is also important to know about the reef terrorizers. Non-reef safe fish are less common, but they can be found at most aquarium stores. Most non-reef safe fish are also predatorial fish. These fish are also much larger than reef safe fish and will cause issues with smaller fish.

Triggerfish are a good example of this type of fish. They have a very interesting shape and some beautiful colors, but they are simply terrible for reef aquariums. They will gobble up most other fish or fight with fish their size. Angelfish are another fish to be careful with (Dwarf Angels are different). Large sized angelfish will often nip at corals and attack inverts. Other non-reef safe fish are eels, filefish, groupers, puffers, frogfish, and some wrasses. Of course, there are others but these are the main ones you should look out for.

There are, of course,  some exceptions to this categorization of non-reef safe fish. Not all large sized angelfish are not reef safe. The Lamarck’s Angelfish is an example of a large reef safe angelfish. Dwarf Angelfish have the potential of being reef safe depending on the fish. As mentioned early, some Coral Beauties are reef safe. Some hobbyist claim that it has to do with how often they are fed and what they are fed. In some cases, this may be true, but sometimes it does not matter how much you feed them. I have also heard people say that Coral Beauties will only target certain types of corals. The question is whether it is worth the risk or not. At least with Dwarf Angelfish, there is a chance they could be just as safe as clownfish, unlike larger angels. It is the same with wrasses too. There are some wrasses that are not reef safe at all, while others do great in reef tanks. There are many fish that belong to a category of non-reef safe fish that are partially reef safe. For example, the Blue Throat Trigger could possibly be put in a reef tank. It is for this reason that it is crucial to do in-depth research on each and every fish you are thinking about adding to your tank. Adding a reef destructing fish to your reef tank is certainly not something you want to deal with!

There are many reef safe fish for sale at local fish stores and even online at websites such as algaebarn.com. While most fish that are sold within the hobby are compatible with our beloved reef tanks, some require more thought before they are added to an aquarium. Research is key in this situation, as it allows you to determine how a specific fish will fit into your aquarium system. All of the fish sold at AlgaeBarn are captive fish and most of them are reef safe as well. It is important to be wise with which fish you put in your reef tank because it can be the difference between an enjoyable reef experience and a very frustrating one.

346 thoughts on “Reef Safe Fish For Sale”

    1. The major takeaway from this article is to research what you put in your tank.
      Some of these fish do better in a larger tank, others will get lost in a larger tank and may not be able to compete for food or territory as well.
      Tailor you stocking list to what your limitations and desires are and you will have a better chance at long term success.

  1. Alex von Hochtritt

    Since I’m most interested in corals and inverts, this is SUPER important. I also like having free-swimmers in my reef, but nothing that’ll eat the rest of the things. 🙂

  2. Great informative read. Personally I have always been a fan of captive bred programs, as it takes some of the strain away from the wildlife, and in some cases outright saves a species from extinction. And anything that helps with saving wildlife is always a plus.

    1. Awesome stuff, wish I had room for a Mandarin as I have wanted one for a couple of years now. Maybe when I upgrade…😁👍

  3. Thanks. I have been contimplating on getting a dwarf angelfish. I see others that have luck with them not bothering corals. So maybe…

  4. Definitely would like to go back and not get my green coris wrasse. Great for flatworms. Not so much for shrimp and hermit crabs

  5. Awesome, captive breed reef safe fish are definitely a step in the right direction. Not just for the hobby but also for conservation in general.

  6. I recently had trouble getting a wild caught fish to eat our prepared foods. It went three weeks before figuring it out and in the meantime survived off algae on the rock. So much easier with captive bred fish born and raised eating what I feed.

  7. The future of our hobby IS captive breeding. Countries that we as a group pillaged for decades are now protecting the local environment. Buy captive bred.

  8. steveszczepanowski

    Would deff only recommend the mandiran if you have a tank over a year old and a healthy pod population and can’t hurt to try to train them to take frozen food

  9. There’s a bunch of fish i would love to have, but sadly they’re not reef friendly. It sucks to see a fish i want and then realize its not good work out.

  10. I have a captive bred millitseed butterfly mabey 1yr old. 1.5″ in a sps dominant tank for about 6 months and no damaged corals and all hermits and snails are fine… even a featherduster worm and all the butterfly wants are pods and flake food.

  11. You can never really tell what a fish is going to do. The blue tang is reef safe…. However mine took a shine to a green goni I had. wouldn’t leave it alone…. I covered the goni for a few weeks in effort.. An hour after I removed the plastic container, he was back picking at the fringing polyps. I removed the coral, and he hasn’t acted up since. I also have a purple goni he never touched. i think he thought it was algae..

  12. Casey Whittington

    Awesome post, I love Gobys. However, I didn’t know Court Jesters were Reef safe. I know what my next fish will be 🙂

  13. Alejandro Rodriguez

    This hobby is so extensive..when one gets all the parts working cohesively it’s beautiful. I hope to get there one day soon.

  14. I tend to over feed my fish and as such tend to find that most reef safe with caution are perfectly fine and don’t touch anything my only problem is that some fish out grow my tank quicker than I expected.

  15. So many people want to jump in and throw fish and coral in a tank because they look nice. Having an understanding of how fish, corals, and invertabrates function in the reef ecosystem can help eleminate costly mistakes with “incompatible” species. Thank you for providing the educational information.

  16. Good read but it depends on the individual fish. I’ve had non reef safe fish in a tank that’s never harmed a coral. Luck of the draw

  17. Nadia Mohandessi

    Exceptions to every rule … I watched my Randall’s goby EAT my blue mandarin whole. Took him 10 minutes. It was like watching a live horror show 😳🤯🤬

  18. Krystal Whittington

    People often get wrapped up in the Fish or the Coral aspect of the Hobby. Spending more time researching what Fish/Coral they want and not putting the same ammount of effort into learning how to provide both an awesome home

  19. It’s good that reef safe, invert safe, coral safe was brought up. You don’t hear about that too much. Are algae barn fish in need of qt or are they pre quarantined?

  20. Learning the “reef safe”, “with caution” fish was a huge deal for us as we truly enjoy a natural and full reef aquarium design.

  21. I rolled the dice on a couple “with caution” fish and they plowed my softies. I stick with known reef safe now lol

  22. I believe if you want fish that are not coral friendly then why not have 2 tanks! One for your favorite fish and one for all your corals! Thanks for the info

  23. Typically what is the soonest you can add a mandarin dragonet to your tank, if you add copepods from the very beginning?

  24. shackelford.jim

    Some of my favorite fish… just ordered a Mandarin feeding kit from your site for a pair of bonded Mandarins I have on the way. 🙂

  25. I always get worried about bringing corals into my tank, I love the idea of it but can never bring myself to introduce it because my fish are my babies! Maybe some day I’ll have the courage to do it!

  26. I used AlgaeBarn for the macro, phyto, and pods I’m glad to know there are certain fish on the site as well!

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