10 Best Fish for Nano Reef Tanks

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Nano reef tank is a miniature version of a saltwater aquarium that enables you to observe ocean life in your home. These nano tanks are perfect if you want an inexpensive and smaller version of a reef tank.

Of course, you will not be able to keep as many fish as in the larger versions of reef tanks, but the nano reef tanks will be as spectacular as the bigger tanks if you get everything right. There are more factors when it comes to setting up a proper nano reef tank that will make you proud and will look great.

First of all, you need to buy the right tanks and filters, tank accessories, lighting and heating or you can get a nano reef tank kit, which includes all the equipment you need. Then once you have everything set up, you need to make sure that you maintain the tank properly and this will require a time investment from your part.

But one of the most important decisions about nano reef tanks is which fish you will choose for your tank. It is very important because you have to consider the specifics of every fish and how they coexist with other fish and if they are compatible with your tank.

If you want to learn about which fish species are best for a nano reef tank, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will take a look at which fish species are best for a nano reef tank.

1. Clown Fish (Ocellaris)

Clown Fish

Clown Fish

The ocellaris clownfish is one of the most popular fish for reef tanks. Firstly, because of the beauty of the clownfish. They boast an orange body with white stripes outlined in black, which makes them spectacular to look at.

What also sets this fish apart from other saltwater fish for home aquariums is that they are sturdy and very adaptable to various tank conditions. They grow to up to 2 inches, which is the perfect size for nano tanks. They would strive in 10-gallon tanks, so that is why it is great for nano tanks.

The clownfish will happily accept different types of foods. They will prefer high-quality foods, and you can feed them pellets and flakes. It might be a good idea to feed them some live food or frozen food from time to time, to keep the variety in their diet.

They do well together with other fish that are not aggressive but make sure you do not place them with other aggressive fish together. They can cost from 20 dollars upwards.

2. Royal Gramma

Royal Gramma

Royal Gramma

The royal gramma, also known as a fairly basslet or gramma loreto is a vibrant fish that is native to the Caribbean. It is very colorful and beautiful. They come in a purple color with yellow fins.

In terms of temperament, it is a very peaceful fish that will happily coexist with peaceful fish. This makes them great for beginners, but also for more advanced tank-keepers alike. They are compatible with other peaceful fish. However, they will not do well in an aquarium that has aggressive fish in it.

The price of the royal gramma depends on its size, but most of the time they will cost around 20 dollars. It should be kept as a single specimen. The royal gramma are carnivores in essence. They will eat zooplankton and phytoplankton, and it will also clean parasites from other fish. It tends to prefer more meaty foods, like shrimp or brine. It will also eat dead food.

3. Pajama Cardinal

Pajama Cardinal

Pajama Cardinal

The pajama cardinal is certainly a unique species based on its look. They have beautiful, yet peculiar, big orange eyes and a blue or yellowish body with a black stripe down the middle of its body. This stripe makes it look like it is wearing pajamas.

They should get along with all peaceful fish types and will not eat your snails. That is why it is so popular among fish keepers. They can grow to about 3 inches in size, which makes them perfect for 30-gallon tanks or larger. They can also be bred easily at home.

In terms of their diet, they can be picky if you are feeding them flake foods at first, but the will adapt after some time. If they will not eat flake foods, then feed them live foods like shrimp. If you are buying high-quality flakes, though, it should not be a problem. Make sure you keep variety in the diet.

The pajama cardinal costs about 15 dollars, depending on its size. Sometimes they cost more.

4. Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge Bispinosa)

Coral Beauty Angelfish

Coral Beauty Angelfish

The coral beauty angelfish is a very popular choice among aquarists. They are very hardy and also mesmerizing to look at, with its beautiful colors and an appealing appearance. They can be found in many colors: red, orange or yellow bodies, while their fin colors also vary – from dark blue to purple.

The angelfish grow to about 4 inches, so they are suitable for 30-gallon tanks or larger. This fish is very easy to keep and maintain, which certainly adds to its popularity. They need room to swim, or they might turn aggressive, so make sure that your tank is large enough for this fish. You also want to have a rocky environment in your tank to keep them swimming and hiding between the rocks.

The coral beauty angelfish is an omnivore, so it will eat most of the foods you will offer it. They naturally feed on more plant-based foods, but they also eat invertebrates. These fish are not demanding at all, so they are perfect for beginners. Their price depends on the size – normally they will cost about 35 dollars.

5. Clown Goby

Clown Goby

Clown Goby

The clown goby is another popular fish for reef tanks. Mostly because of the appearance – they are yellow and very beautiful to look at. They are very small in size – they will only grow to about an inch and a half, so they would fit a 10-gallon tank perfectly.

They originate from the Indian Ocean. The clown goby is peaceful and will be a great addition if you have peaceful fish in your tank. You don’t want to pair it with more aggressive fish if you have some in your aquarium.

In terms of diet, you should try to keep it as varied as possible. The clown goby will eat a variety of shrimp – brine shrimp, frozen mysis shrimp, table shrimp, and even flake foods.

It costs about 17 dollars and more, depending on its size.

6. Firefish Goby

Firefish Goby

Firefish Goby

The firefish goby is a magnificent fish to have in your aquarium. It has bright colors and a great personality.  The fish is also called the dartfish, and that is because of its behavior – it keeps darting around the tank and into hiding places when it feels threatened.

It is a small fish that is suitable for 20-gallon tanks. It is a perfect fish for a peaceful community of fish, as it would coexist with them nicely. Like some other fish on this list, the firefish goby might become more aggressive if there is not enough space for it, so make sure that the aquarium is big enough for the dartfish.

The firefish are omnivores. They can eat everything. Naturally, the firefish will eat algae and zooplankton, and it does tend to prefer more meaty foods like mysis shrimp, brine shrimp and maybe even live foods and frozen foods. They will also feed on flakes and dried foods.

The firefish goby would make a great addition to any saltwater tank.

7. Blue-Green Chromis

Blue-Green Chromis

Blue-Green Chromis

This fish is one of the most popular fish for the hobby tank keepers. They are very flamboyant and beautiful to look at – from its various colors to its interesting movement. It makes sure that you will enjoy having the blue-green chromis in your tank.

They can grow to about four inches, so they would perfectly fit aquarium sizes of 30 gallons or more. As their name suggests, they are green and blue with a shining body. They are found in the Pacific Ocean, so you need to keep that in mind when you put the blue-green chromis into the tank – put coral in it.

Keep a couple of chromis together to give company to each other. They will eat plant and animal matter, so they will not really pick about their food. They are known as scavengers in their natural habitat, so they will eat larva, shrimp and even algae. One costs about 20 dollars.

8. Shrimp Goby

Shrimp Goby

Shrimp Goby

The shrimp goby is an interesting fish. It has earned its name by its symbiosis with shrimp. The shrimp goby and shrimp will coexist and learn to live together – the shrimp will dig holes, and the shrimp goby will use those holes to hide, acting as a sort of a watchman for the shrimp.

This fish can become very territorial, especially if it is put into a smaller aquarium, so don’t do that. They are best suitable for a 20-gallon aquarium or bigger.

They will coexist with other fish, but make sure that you do not put male shrimp gobies together or with another aggressive fish. As for the diet, they prefer to eat living food and more animal-based food. They will adapt to the food – flakes or pellets, but make sure they reach them.

9. Skunk Clown

Skunk Clown

Skunk Clown

The skunk clown or the pink skunk clownfish are an interesting species. They look spectacular and will grow to up to 4 inches. They will happily live in a community tank, as they are relatively peaceful. This would make them good candidates for nano tanks. A 20-gallon tank will be enough for these fish.

They are quite hardy fish, but still a bit more delicate than other fish. Make sure that the water is clean and that it gets enough space, and buy high-quality food. As they are sensitive, make sure that you put peaceful fish into the aquarium.

It is similar to the regular clownfish, but it differs slightly in color and it doesn’t have stripes on its body. The skunk clownfish is an omnivore, so you can feed it meaty foods as well as other food sources – they will not be picky.

10. Six Line Wrasse

Six Line Wrasse

Six Line Wrasse

The six line wrasse has a blue body with six orange stripes over the body. It is very interesting – on its tail it has a fake eye, which is a feature that is unique to this fish and it developed it to protect it from the predators.

In terms of size, the six line wrasse grows to about four inches, so it would be wise to get a 30-gallon tank or more if you want to have this fish in the tank. It will thrive in water with a pH of 8-8.4 with the temperatures floating between 23 to 26 degrees Celsius.

These fish are very active, they will swim around the tank a lot and especially around the obstacles in your aquarium. This is why they are popular, and because they look good. In terms of behavior, the six line wrasse can be quite aggressive, so make sure that you do not put them next to more timid fish, as it may hurt them.

The six line wrasse is carnivorous – they will eat meaty food, as they have very strong jaws – you can feed them worms and shrimp. They cost about 20 dollars.


If you want a good looking nano reef tank, there are many important decisions you have to make before you set it up. Which tank to buy, which filters to choose and how to fill it up. One of the more important and hardest decisions will be which fish to put in the tank. There is plenty of choice for you.

Hopefully, you will have an easier time deciding which fish you will put into your aquarium after reading this article.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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