Unique Nano Reef Fish That Are Rare

Nano reef tanks are quickly becoming one of the most popular kept tanks in the hobby.

unique fish for nano reef tanks

There are so many different nano tank options today, and they can be one of the best modern and decorative looking tanks you can buy.

Some of the best features of a nano tank are that you will have plenty of options for design, equipment, space, livestock, and more.

You may have been doing some research on nano reef tanks and noticed that many people stock them with some of the most common fish in the hobby. 

Basic Clownfish, gobies, blennies, and damsels are all common fish that you can put in a nano tank. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with keeping these fish. But wouldn’t it be great if there were some different and unique fish that you can keep in a nano reef tank?

Well, there is!

Check out the following list of unique fish for nano reef tanks.

Chalk Bass

Chalk bass (Serranus tortugarum)

The Chalk Bass is a perfect choice for a nano reef tank. They will reach a maximum size of 3” and can live in a group or individually.

They are safe around corals and are peaceful. They prefer to have a cave to hide in and are somewhat shy. They have amazing colors and markings that look great under artificial lighting.

They should be fed a meaty diet consisting of brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and flake foods. The Chalk Bass is a great beginner fish as it is hardy and easy to care for.  


The Geometric Pygmy Perchlet fish (Plectranthias), is similar to the Hawkfish and will grow to around 2” in size. Their small size makes them a great candidate for a small tank.

They are a rare fish that is not seen very often in home aquariums. They are a mix of orange and white colors and are peaceful fish.

Similar to the Flame Hawkfish, they can be aggressive towards other bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates. These fish require a rock aquascape with plenty of hiding places.

They should be fed a diet of meaty foods including Mysis and brine shrimp, raw shrimp, and quality flake and pellets. Their natural diet includes Zooplankton.

Black and Gold Chromis

Black-and-gold chromis in Bohol sea, Phlippines Islands
Black-and-gold Chromis

The Black and Gold Chromis are one of my favorites on the list. They are a damselfish but are unique in the fact they are not aggressive like many other damsels.

They have an amazing color pattern of a gold body with black stripes. These fish are completely reef safe and will not bother invertebrates.

They are a tough fish and can handle less than ideal water conditions. They should be fed a diet consisting of meaty foods such as brine and Mysis shrimp.

They will accept flake and pellet foods easily. Another great fish for beginners that are well suited for a nano reef tank.

Blue Lined Pipefish (Doryrhamphus Excisus)

This is one of the most advanced fish on the list, but it can be kept in a 30-gallon tank with proper care. This Pipefish can grow to 3” in size and is a peaceful fish.

It is the smallest of all the Pipefishes available for reef tanks. They are very hardy fish and can be kept in mated pairs. Their body is unique and is skinny with a tubular mouth. Its tail is round and larger than the rest of the body. 

The Blue Lined Pipefish, code name Doryrhamphus Excisus, should only be kept by advanced hobbyists only. They will not bother other fish in the tank, but other fish, coral, anemones, and invertebrates can be aggressive towards them. 

They will normally only eat Cyclops, small Mysis, and Nutramar Ova.

If you have the opportunity to have one of these fish and can care for them properly, they are definitely unique and worth keeping.

Ruby Red Dragonet

Ruby Red Dragonet

The Ruby Red Dragonet is a very colorful and unique fish. The males are noticeably different from the females. They are larger and more colorful with a fan-like fin on top of their body. 

These fish will reach a maximum size of 3” but most will stay smaller. They are a great fish for a nano reef tank. They are completely reef safe and will not bother your corals.

They are a peaceful fish and generally won’t bother other tank mates. Their diet consists of Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, blood worms, and small invertebrates.

They can be kept as an individual or in a group of 2-3 females per male. If kept in groups, a larger tank will be required.


As you can see, keeping a nano reef tank doesn’t mean you have to keep the common fish that are seen around the hobby. There are some unique fish out there that will work out great in a nano tank.