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Before reading this section, the student must read and understand the information given in the freshwater fish category.

The variety of fish, and other animals, available for saltwater aquaria is immense. Virtually any fish or other animal that can live in the ocean can live in a saltwater aquarium, provided that the other aspects of the environment are similar. Those "other aspects" might include keeping the temperature at 20 degrees below 0, and having enough space for a whale and maybe a few sharks! The animals that are available for saltwater aquaria live, naturally, in the warmer parts of the oceans.

Generally speaking, the best saltwater aquarium fish are larger and much more colorful than those that can live in freshwater aquaria. They are also more expensive, and more delicate in terms of their environmental needs.

The pet stores have books available which have photographs of many different saltwater fish, and describe their habits and their needs. It would be best to learn about the fish before buying them, because we don't want to buy an assortment of murderers, or of animals that are extremely delicate. A few varieties that we could have are damsels (bright blue, pale blue-green), grammas (in many colors), gobys (some look like paisley; all have spots of different colors), fire fish (red-orange), long-nosed hawk (orange with yellow spots), flame angel (burgundy, red, and orange - only $63.00 for just one!), spot file (yellow with orange spots and a sharp nose), tangs (almost rectangular, in very bright colors - some are $15.00 each), butterfly fish (several kinds, mainly yellow and black; the four-eyed butterfly is pale yellow with a vertical stripe down the sides of its face so you don't see its' eyes, and a black spot that looks like an eye,near the tail; $35.00 each), emperor angels (large, with stripes), squirrel fish (cute, little, several different colors), many different colors of eels. There is a lion fish that doesn't really look like a fish - it has very long spines that stick out from all around its body, giving it the appearance of a male lion's mane. The spines have venom that can cause serious illness to a person and to some kinds of fish.

There are even little whales and porpoises in the pet stores. (They probably are not really whales and porpoises, but are similar to them in appearance, and therefore, are so called.) There are some kinds of sharks available, also, for both freshwater and saltwater aquaria. For $50.00, there are even little octopi!

Probably the most fun part of a saltwater aquarium is the variety of different animals that can live there, such as sea horses, anemones, barnacles, urchins, shrimp, crabs, and many more. The pet stores have "living rocks," which are rocks with all sorts of very tiny animals living on them, such as polyps, and tiny anemones, shellfish that are stuck to the rock, and also plants that grow on the same rock. These are sold by the pound, and are very expensive. There are live coral structures, as well as sea tomatoes, starfish, and even tiny lobsters. Further, sea shells and corals can be used to decorate the aquarium, and to provide places for the animals to hide.

Most of these animals need live food such as brine shrimp, tubifex worms, "feeder" guppies, or "feeder" goldfish. It is interesting to watch an anemone catch and eat a fish. The anemone looks like a flower, and is stuck to its rock. When it is hungry, if a fish happens to swim by too close, the anemone flexes its "petals," catches the fish, and sort of sucks the fish into its' "stem."

It would be extremely expensive to stock a saltwater aquarium but probably worth the extra money to have the wide array of very colorful fish and animals available.

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