Skip to main content
Saltwater Fish

Top 8 Most Colorful Saltwater Fish For Your Tank

By February 16, 2021No Comments
most colorful marine fish: clown triggerfish

One of the benefits of having a saltwater aquarium is all of the brightly colored marine fish that you can keep. There are so many different species, and each has their own unique pattern and design. Under LED lights, these colors really pop especially if you have a reef tank. Brightly lit corals really help these fish to stand out.

There a hundreds of different saltwater fish, but this article only covers species that you can put in a home aquarium. Granted, some of these are difficult and not easy to keep, but they do fit the criteria for this list.

Here is the 8 most colorful saltwater fish:

1. Red Mandarin Dragonet

Gdiggers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Dragonet (Synchiropus cf. splendidus) is very colorful fish that features shades of orange, red, blue, green. The Mandarin Dragonet is definitely a head-turner, and it can be a centerpiece for your tank. The colors and patterns are amazing.

While they look bright, they are not something a beginner should get. They are picky eaters, and you will likely need to feed them separately every day. Plus, you will need to have a stable and establshed sytem before you can introduce them into your aquarium.

Their diet consists of shrimp and worms. They will also eat pods if you have them in your tank.

They also like a tank with a lot of rock and sand. They like to have different areas to hide.

Dragonets are great fish to have, but keep in mind that they are difficult to care for.

  • Peaceful
  • Reef Safe
  • Care Level: Difficult

2. Undulate (Orange-Lined) Triggerfish

© Hans Hillewaert

Triggerfish come in a lot of different colors. The clown triggerfish is definitely unusual and has a unique pattern. The Undulate (Balistapus undulatus) species has a lot of different colors including orange, black, yellow, green, and blue.

This aggressive fish is not reef safe, but for FOWLR tanks these can add some pop to your display. Overall, it is an emerald green color with lines of yellow-orange covering it. It also has a black circle near its tail.

You will need a large tank for a triggerfish. The 120-150 may be on the small side, so something closer to 200g would be a better size. These can grow up to a foot in length, so they need plenty of room.

  • Aggresive
  • Not Reef Safe
  • Care Level: Easy

3. Coral Beauty Angelfish

Coral Beauty Angelfish
Jenny (JennyHuang) from Taipei, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge bispinosa) is full of iridescent colors like blue, orange, red, yellow, and purple. While not a large fish, it makes up for it with its bright coloration.

If you have a reef tank, it may not be the best fish for you though. While it does ok with some corals, it tends to nip at some corals.

4. Royal Gramma Basslet

Royal Gramma Basslet
Emőke Dénes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto) is a yellow, violet, and purple marine fish that is reef compatable. If you are looking for a vibrant fish to add to a smaller aquarium that is beginner friendly, then this is a good choice.

This fish will bring lots of color to any tank, and it will interact with it’s tank mates. Overall, it is a great marine fish for saltwater tanks.

  • Peaceful
  • Reef Compatible
  • Care Level: Easy

5. Flame Angelfish

Flame Angelfish
Andreas März from Darmstadt, Germany, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula) has an orange body with a small amount of iridescent yellow in the background. It is outlined in blue, and it has noticible black stripes throughout.

This Angel will work fairly well if you have an established tank, and you add it last. They are known to be a little aggressive, but in the right setting, they will be fine.

Their colors can vary a bit based on their origin from the Central Pacific ocean.

  • Semi-Aggressive
  • Not Reef Safe
  • Care Level: Moderate

6. Powder Blue Tang

Powder Blue Tang
H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are several species of Tangs, and the Powder Blue(Acanthurus leucosternon) has interesting color patterns that make it stand out in the crowd. It’s main body is a soft powder blue with a distinct black face with a white border. The yellow tones on its dorsal and pectoral finsThe various patterns and lines definitely makes this Tang stand out in your tank.

With Tangs, you will want a larger tank of at least 120 gallons, and you will only want to keep one. They can be aggressive towards others of the same species.

  • Semi-Aggressive
  • Reef Safe
  • Care Level: Moderate

7. Splendid Dottyback

splendid dottyback
Rickard Zerpe, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The unique pattern and colorization of the Splendid Dottyback (Manonichthys splendens) is the reason it made our list. It is not just the vivid colors, but its how they work with the pattern. It can be seen even better under great lighting.

For hobbyist with smaller tanks, you are in luck, because this small fish does not require large sizes. This Dottyback will do well in 30 gallons and up, but it can be territorial in smaller setting. It likes to keep its territory, and it will go after other fish brightly colored or not.

  • Semi-Aggressive
  • Reef Safe
  • Care Level: Easy

8. Royal (Regal) Angelfish

Regal Angelfish
Nhobgood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus) gets its name due to its amazing colors and stripes. While you may love the colors that it can bring to your tank, make sure you know what you are doing as this is an expert level marine fish.

This is a fish that you will need to introduce to your saltwater aquarium before anything else. It needs to claim its area, and you need to have a large tank to keep it happy.

It has such strong colors of blue and yellow, but most people will not be able to keep this in their tank due to its needs.

  • Semi-Aggressive
  • Not Reef Safe
  • Care Level: Difficult

featured image via: Amada44, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


My name is James, and I am the founder of Saltwatercoraltank. I love everything about the ocean, and my main hobby is saltwater aquariums. Currently, I have 3 tanks that I maintain. I have a 130 gallon mixed as my main, and I prefer softies.

Leave a Reply