The Most Popular Saltwater Fish: A Comprehensive Ranking

Choose the saltwater fish you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 22, 2024 07:30
Dive into the fascinating world of marine life with StrawPoll's latest exciting ranking - "What is the most popular saltwater fish?" Join thousands of aquatic enthusiasts and let your voice be heard as you vote for your favorite finned friend or suggest a missing option. Our ever-changing list offers a vibrant array of saltwater fish, from the vibrantly colored clownfish to the awe-inspiring whale shark! Don't miss your chance to make a splash and contribute to this oceanic showdown. Cast your vote now and explore the depths of the most popular saltwater fish as chosen by people like you!

What Is the Most Popular Saltwater Fish?

  1. 1
    These colorful fish are easily recognizable and popular due to their appearance in the animated movie "Finding Nemo." They are also easy to care for in a home aquarium.
    The clownfish, also known as anemonefish, is a small and colorful marine fish found in the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is renowned for its vibrant colors and unique symbiotic relationship with sea anemones.
    • Size: Clownfish range from 2.3 to 4 inches (6 to 10 cm) in length.
    • Coloration: They have bright orange or yellow bodies with distinctive white stripes outlined in black.
    • Habitat: Clownfish are primarily found near coral reefs and in shallow lagoons.
    • Symbiotic Relationship: They have a mutualistic relationship with sea anemones, living among their tentacles for protection.
    • Immunity to Anemone's Stinging Cells: Clownfish have a mucus layer that protects them from the anemone's stinging cells.
  2. 2
    Another popular fish from "Finding Nemo," the blue tang is known for its bright blue color and unique shape. They are also relatively easy to care for in a home aquarium.
    The Blue Tang, scientifically known as Paracanthurus hepatus, is a tropical marine fish that can be found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. It is widely recognized for its stunning blue coloration and sleek body shape. The Blue Tang is a small-sized fish, typically growing up to 15 cm in length. Its body is flat and thin, with a laterally compressed structure. The fish has a distinctive bright blue color, which covers most of its body, contrasting with a vibrant yellow tailfin. Along its dorsal and anal fins, there are sharp spines, adding to its unique appearance.
    • Scientific Name: Paracanthurus hepatus
    • Size: Up to 15 cm
    • Coloration: Bright blue body with a yellow tailfin
    • Body Shape: Flat and thin, laterally compressed
    • Spines: Sharp spines along dorsal and anal fins
    Blue Tang in other rankings
  3. 3
    These striking fish come in a variety of colors and patterns and are known for their graceful movements. They are a popular choice for saltwater aquariums due to their beauty and ease of care.
    The Angelfish is a stunning freshwater aquarium fish known for its majestic appearance and graceful swimming. It belongs to the family Cichlidae and is native to the Amazon River basin in South America. This fish is highly coveted by aquarium hobbyists due to its striking colors and elegant fins.
    • Size: Up to 6 inches in length
    • Lifespan: 10-15 years
    • Color variations: Numerous color and pattern varieties
    • Body shape: Triangular with elongated dorsal and anal fins
    • Diet: Omnivorous - consumes both insects and vegetation
  4. 4
    These vibrant yellow fish are popular due to their bright color and ease of care. They are also known for being hardy and adaptable in a home aquarium.
    The Yellow Tang is a popular saltwater fish known for its vibrant yellow color and sleek body shape. It is native to the reefs of the Pacific Ocean, particularly around Hawaii and surrounding areas. The creator of the Yellow Tang is Mother Nature itself, as it is a naturally occurring species.
    • Scientific Name: Zebrasoma flavescens
    • Average Size: 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm)
    • Lifespan: Up to 20 years
    • Temperament: Peaceful and territorial
    • Diet: Herbivorous, mainly feeding on algae
  5. 5
    While not originally a saltwater fish, guppies have become increasingly popular in saltwater aquariums due to their vibrant colors and hardiness. They are also known for being easy to care for and breed in a home aquarium.
    Guppies are small and colorful freshwater fish that are widely known for their vibrant and diverse appearance. Their bodies are usually slender and elongated, with a fan-shaped caudal fin and bright patterns on their scales. The colors of guppies can range from various shades of red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple, making them an attractive addition to any aquarium.
    • Scientific Name: Poecilia reticulata
    • Origin: Trinidad and Tobago
    • Size: 2.5 - 6 centimeters
    • Lifespan: 2 - 3 years
    • Temperament: Peaceful and sociable
  6. 6
    These unique-looking fish are known for their large, sharp teeth and powerful jaws. They are a popular choice for saltwater aquariums due to their interesting behavior and hardiness.
    The Triggerfish is a popular saltwater fish known for its unique appearance and behavior. It belongs to the family Balistidae and has a distinct trigger-like spine on its back, from which its name originates. The eccentric beauty and fascinating behavior of Triggerfish make it a sought-after species among aquarium enthusiasts worldwide.
    • Scientific Name: Balistidae
    • Average Size: 6-20 inches
    • Average Lifespan: 8-15 years
    • Coloration: Vibrant patterns and colors such as blue, yellow, orange, and black
    • Habitat: Coral reefs and rocky areas
  7. 7
    Tangs come in a variety of colors and patterns and are known for their active and playful behavior. They are popular in saltwater aquariums due to their beauty and ease of care.
    The Tangs, also known as surgeonfish, are a popular group of saltwater fish recognized for their vibrant colors and unique body shape. They are found in various oceans around the world and are highly sought after by aquarium enthusiasts due to their distinctive beauty and active swimming behavior.
    • Average Size: 6-12 inches
    • Lifespan: 10-15 years
    • Coloration: Bright and varied colors, including shades of blue, yellow, orange, and green
    • Body Shape: Oval-shaped, laterally compressed body with small mouths and sharp spine on each side
    • Diet: Herbivorous, primarily feeding on algae and marine plants
  8. 8
    These striking fish are known for their venomous spines and unique appearance. They are popular in saltwater aquariums due to their beauty, but also require a bit more care and attention than other fish.
    The Lionfish is a stunning and mesmerizing fish found in the ocean. It is known for its striking appearance and vibrant colors, making it one of the most beautiful fish species. With its long, flowing fins and intricate patterns, the Lionfish is truly a sight to behold.
    • Species: Pterois
    • Size: Up to 15 inches
    • Color: Varies between species, but commonly includes red, orange, brown, and white
    • Venomous: Yes
    • Native Habitat: Tropical and subtropical regions
  9. 9
    Moorish Idol
    Philippe Bourjon · CC BY-SA 3.0
    These beautiful fish are known for their striking black and white coloration and unique shape. They are a popular choice for saltwater aquariums, but require a bit more care and attention than some other fish.
    The Moorish Idol is a stunningly beautiful fish found in the oceans, renowned for its bright colors and unique shape. It features a distinctive elongated dorsal fin and a long, pointed snout. The body of the Moorish Idol is adorned with vibrant black, white, and yellow vertical stripes, which make it an unmistakable sight underwater. Its graceful movements and delicate appearance add to its allure.
    • Scientific Name: Zanclus cornutus
    • Size: Up to 23 cm (9 inches) in length
    • Weight: Up to 60 grams (2.1 ounces)
    • Habitat: Coral reefs and rocky coastal areas in the Indo-Pacific region
    • Diet: Primarily herbivorous, feeding on algae and small invertebrates
    Moorish Idol in other rankings
  10. 10
    These colorful fish come in a variety of colors and patterns and are known for their active and playful behavior. They are a popular choice for saltwater aquariums due to their beauty and ease of care.
    Surgeonfish is a brightly colored saltwater fish commonly found in tropical and subtropical oceans. It is known for its laterally compressed body, small mouths, and sharp, scalpel-like spines on its tail. Surgeonfish are popular in aquariums due to their vibrant colors and active nature.
    • Scientific Name: Family Acanthuridae
    • Size: Ranges from 5 to 15 inches in length
    • Habitat: Coral reefs, rocky shores, and seagrass beds
    • Coloration: Vibrant shades of blue, yellow, orange, and purple
    • Body Shape: Laterally compressed and oval-shaped

Missing your favorite saltwater fish?


Ranking factors for popular saltwater fish

  1. Popularity and demand
    The popularity of the saltwater fish among hobbyists, aquarists, and collectors, as well as its demand in the marketplace.
  2. Ease of care
    How easy it is to maintain and care for the fish in terms of tank requirements, food, and general well-being.
  3. Hardiness and adaptability
    The ability of the fish to adapt to different tank conditions and its overall hardiness against diseases and other common issues that may be faced in a saltwater aquarium.
  4. Compatibility
    The fish's ability to coexist with other marine species in the same aquarium, which is important for aquarists who want to create a diverse and vibrant community tank.
  5. Aesthetic appeal
    The fish's visual appeal, including its colors, patterns, shape, and overall appearance.
  6. Size
    The adult size of the fish should be considered, especially when space is limited in the aquarium.
  7. Rarity
    Unique or rare species may be of interest to collectors, and their value or appeal may be higher.
  8. Conservation status
    The conservation status of the fish species, with preference given to those that are not endangered or threatened.
  9. Behavior
    The fish's behavior and temperament should be considered, particularly when it comes to peaceful vs. aggressive species.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular saltwater fish. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or saltwater fish is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 224 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each saltwater fish once every 24 hours. The rank of each saltwater fish is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


More information on most popular saltwater fish

Saltwater fish are a fascinating and diverse group of aquatic creatures that inhabit the world's oceans and seas. These fish come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, each with their unique characteristics and behaviors. From the majestic sailfish and marlin to the colorful clownfish and angelfish, saltwater fish are a popular subject of fascination for many marine enthusiasts and fishermen alike. But which one is the most popular? Let's dive into the world of saltwater fish and find out!

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