Keeping an aquarium can be a rewarding experience, as you get to create and develop an amazing, tiny ecosystem. Starting an aquarium may seem a daunting task for beginners as there is so much information available, it’s hard to know where to start! Just remember, you can always start small and gradually work up to a larger aquarium.  Likewise, if you don’t have a lot of space, a small aquarium can still make a great feature for your home whilst providing the same health benefits, including reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. 

Whether you’re a new or seasoned aquarium owner, this beautiful selection of colorful and unique species will make your small aquarium thrive with life. Here we take a look at some of the best small fish for your aquarium. 

Pygmy Angels 

Certainly some of the most colorful and popular marine angelfish are the Pygmy Angels! These mild tempered fish are compatible with many other species and grow up to approximately four inches, making them ideal for small aquariums. Our favorite is the Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula), originating from the Marshall Islands, it is one of the most popular angelfish, adding a flashing addition to any aquarium. 

The Flame Angel has a bold red to orange color body with vertical black stripes running across the side, as well as brilliant blue-tipped dorsal and anal fins. It is recommended that to keep a peaceful aquarium, the Flame Angel is added last as it will adapt well and not become territorial. 


Blennies are an excellent candidate for a reef tank. We particularly love the Midas Blenny (Ecsenius midas), not only because of its beautiful deep golden-yellow coloration but also due to their peaceful nature and easy care level. The Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus) is also a great option with interesting mottled browns and a large decorated dorsal fin. The Scooter Blenny is so named as it likes to sift through the sand for food. 

Finally, we couldn’t forget to mention the Algae Blenny (Salarias fasciatus), it’s an active but peaceful blenny that is a joy to observe in your tank. They also have the added benefit of grazing on any microalgae that might start growing!


Gobies are relatively small fish that adjust well to aquarium life. A word of caution, they need a well-sealed lid, as they will jump out of an open aquarium. Our recommendations are the Hi Fin Red Banded Goby (Stonogobiops nematodes), Yellow Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus), Neon Goby (Elacatinus oceanops), Randall’s Goby (Amblyeleotris randalli) and Yasha Hase Shrimp Goby (Stonogobiops yashia). 

Not only do these species have beautiful coloration, they are also passive fish which are easy to care for, making them a wonderful addition to any small aquarium. Many of these gobies will also form interesting symbiotic relationships with pistol shrimp, such as Randall’s Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli).


Colorful, slow-moving Dragonets are one of the most interesting fish for any size marine aquarium. They are closely related to gobies, Dragonets are a peaceful, reef friendly fish that is highly prized. Our favorites are the Ruby Red Dragonet (Synchiropus sycorax) and the wonderful array of colors of the Mandarin Dragonet (Synchiropus splendidu). The Ruby Red’s are a brilliant red color, with the males having a particularly impressive dorsal fin! You can also keep more than one of this species, with a ratio of two or three females per male. 

The Mandarin Dragonets are particularly popular among aquarists, especially the very rare red variant, but other colors include blue, green, and spotted patterns. In fact, the common name of the Mandarin Dragonet comes from the fact that their exceptionally vivid coloration resembles Imperial Chinese robes. Looking for the best food to feed your Dragonettes? We recommend Copepods, which are their primary food source and are available here