Beginner Invertebrates

If you’re beginner aquarist then knowing which invertebrate to keep in your saltwater tank or reef-tank is important. Keeping wrong invertebrate in your tank could result in conflict with other fishes. You’ll also lose lot of money and other stuff in aquarium if you keep incompatible fish & invertebrate in tank.

Depending on the type of tank setup you’ve to choose the invertebrate. If you’ve reef-only tank then you get more option to keep invertebrates than in saltwater tank. Keeping invertebrates in saltwater tank with other fishes requires more care and you need to understand the compatibility as well. That doesn’t mean that invertebrates are for mini or micro reef tanks but are also for saltwater tank as well. There are some invertebrates which are suitable for saltwater aquarium setup. But if you’re beginner aquarist then you should carefully choose the invertebrates for your tank setup. Let’s take a look at the available beginner invertebrates which are suitable for beginner aquarist.

If you’ve semi-aggressive fish tank setup then you can add crabs in your tank. Crabs can be added into tank where there are peaceful or semi-aggressive fishes are placed. Some of the common crabs available are :

  • Arrow Crabs
  • Anemone Crabs
  • Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are easily available in market. Hermit crab eat corals and some other invertebrates so make sure that you select other invertebrates by keeping in mind the compatibility in them. They’re also require less care and they don’t have much requirement related to food or ph. Anemone crabs vary in color & shape and they live on anemone. If you’re going to keep anemone in your reef tank then aneome crab should be placed in tank. Arrow crabs are usually kept single for one tank, keeping them in group or in pair results in conflict unless the pair is of different gender. Avoid keeping arrow crabs with coral banded shrimp.

Crabs are bottom dwellers and will accept almost every fish food available at the bottom of the tank. Crabs are omnivorus and will accept most of the fish food easily.

Anemones require more care than any other invertebrates in reef tank. They’re not suitable for those who are completely new to the aquarium and ocean world. Anemones require better lighting and good water conditions.

Subburst Anemones by Bibliomanica15(flickr)

Though many aquarium shop owners doesn’t tell you truth about them but they require a lot of care than other fishes. So buy them only if you’re going to invest some money in lighting for your tank.

Sea Urchins
Sea urchins are usually preferred by intermediate hobbyists. Urchins are not suitable for beginner aquarium setup. But once you understand the care and water conditions, fish habits then sea urchins can be added to your tank.

Sea Urchin By Jenifer Jinx (Flickr)

There are many varieties of sea urchins you can choose from. They’re poisonous and like lion-fish and similar poisonous fish. Sea urchins requires algae, detritus and similar small food which is available at the bottom of the tank.

Star Fish
Star Fish can be kept with other non-aggressive fishes in the saltwater tank. You should avoid placing them in aggressive fish tank setup. These are available in various shape, color and size. You should keep them if you’re having non-aggressive fish tank setup. They’ll feed on algae, detritus and other star fish food thrown to them.

They’re the first choice when adding invertebrates into the tank. Beaware that many fish eat them as it’s their favorite food. Place them only in the tank where there is no threat to their life. There are many types of shrimps available:

  • Skeleton Shrimp
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Cleaner Shrimp
  • Coral Banded Shrimp
  • Peppermint Shrimp
  • Harlequin Shrimp

The cleaner shrimp is usually preferred by many beginner aquarist as they’re inexpensive. Cleaner shrimp have white bands in red color body. You can place them in group of 3-4 for single reef tank setup. The coral banded shrimps are preferred if there are medium size fishes. Avoid keeping them in small size fishes. Blood shrimps are red in color with white stripes on them. They’re expensive in comparison to other shrimps.


Moluscks can be kept in saltwater tank or reef tank if you don’t have aggressive fish. There are some fishes which eat molusck so avoid keeping them in tank of such fishes. Moluscks don’t have much food requirement and will eat algae and other food available to them. They’ll travel all over the tank and unless you close top they’ll come out of the tank. Snails can be worthy of addition in the tank if you can avoid aggressive fishes.

Things to keep in mind while keeping invertebrates

  • Almost every invertebrates require care with water & lightnings
  • Temperature & Ph should be maintained as well
  • Water changes should be regular as well
  • Daily food supply should be on time
  • Avoid keeping them with aggressive species

Avoid these invertebrates if possible

  • Sea Squirts (They’re poisonous to other fishes)
  • Soft/Hard Corals (Requires proper lighting)
  • Octopi (Short life spans)
  • Flame Scallops ( hard to feed initially)
  • Nudibranchs (Dificult to feed)
  • Tridcana Clams ( Requires strong lighting)