Saltwater fish are tricky purchases. It is very easy to get caught up in impulse buying at a fish store, especially when you are starting a new aquarium.
When I am asked what saltwater fish to buy for an aquarium, I tell people to wait, look around, and ask questions. They will find more saltwater fish and avoid the costly mistakes of putting the wrong fish together or adding a fish that might do better in someone else’s aquarium.
Look at what saltwater fish other people have in their aquariums.
If you can get a chance to see other aquariums, do so. Ask about what fish are in there, and ask how easily they got them all in. Their answers will tell you a lot about the fish that worked the best, and the ones they had difficulty with.
Google different saltwater fish.
You’ll be amazed at how much information you will find. Yes, some of it is contradictory. But by reading, you will get a pretty good idea of a type of fish’s temperament, and how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into an aquarium community.
Talk with people in the hobby and the industry.
Most hobbyists and workers in the industry are great people and care as much about the fish as anybody else. They have different levels of experience and knowledge, and their advice changes based on it, so take their advice with a grain of salt.
The nature of the fish store product cycle is to bring in a bunch of fish and to sell them as quickly as possible. While you get the advantage of seeing the fish that you are considering, you are also subject to the “impulse purchase” instinct. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “It looked so pretty at the store…”
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