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Choosing Your Fish

Now comes the fun part - adding the fish!

The first step is to work out the number of fish you can comfortably keep according to the size of your tank. The general rule of thumb is to give two inches of fish per gallon of water.

Buy all your fish from a reputable dealer willing to back up their product. Your aim is clean fish that won't get each other sick. Check out the show tank! If the seller knows what they’re talking about the fish will seem happy. Is it the way you imagine your tank when it's finished? If you see dead fish in the tanks then look somewhere else!

Read up on the fish you want. Be aware of their particular needs, whether temperature, chemical, dietary, or compatibility. Then begin with just a few inexpensive fish.

Look for the excellent damselfish, which are good for beginners. Damselfish are a bit tougher than most other marine fish at tolerating poor water conditions and temperature fluctuations. However they can be aggressive and you should limit your tank to two of them. Also consider the cousin to the damselfish, the clown fish, another attractive starter fish. They are territorial, but only to their own species. Mollies, although also listed as freshwater fish, can be an ideal stepping stone between freshwater and saltwater tanks. They are very hardy fish. Try gobies and blennies, fun little fish with a lot of character. Some eat algae, an added benefit. They do well with most other fish.

Add a few starfish and sea urchins, too. They vary in colour, size and shape and help keep the tank clean by eating algae and are generally easy to keep.

Initially at least avoid angelfish, pipefish, eels, stonefish, clams, seahorses, octopi and jellyfish. These are the expensive species and have very fairly rigid needs that are quite challenging for a new tank owner.

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