Popular Tropical Fish Species
Choose a species to begin your aquarium – Notice that we used the word “begin.” As well as having more fish you’ll also want to add new species to your colourful underwater world. Even at that rate, starting with just one species lets you get used to taking care of tropical fish. The more you learn you’ll be able to tell which species live well together and which will behave badly.
Social breeds. These breeds of fish will get along with any other type of fish. Some of the most common fish to fit in this category are Danios, Tetras, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies and Corydoras.
Semi-social breeds. These breeds can comfortably be kept along with other fish that are of equal size without them showing signs of aggression. Think of fish like Barbs, Angelfish and Gouramis.
Aggressive breeds. These breeds of fish must always be kept by themselves, or at most, in pairs with another fish of the same breed. An example of these type of fish would be Male Bettas, Oscars and Jewelfish.
Catfish – There are several species of tropical catfish you can keep in your tank. The best thing about catfish is that they are bottom feeders. They will eat food from the lower end of the tank and scavenge around. They are perfect for community environments since they keep to themselves on the bottom. Use a soft surface on the bottom of the tank since they forage for food there. They can grow to up to four inches.
Loaches – Sounds a bit like “leeches” but not as icky. These fish are long and round with beautiful stripe patterns and little whiskers or spines that help them hold onto rocks in fast currents. Loaches are bottom feeders that will also help keep your tank clean. They work in community settings. One caution: They are sensitive to nitrate levels in the water so frequent water changes are necessary even with aquarium cycling.
Rainbow fish – Want some colour? Rainbow fish are small and brightly coloured making the perfect addition to your tank. They love to swim fast and dart in and out of things. These fish move in schools. Having one or two rainbow fish can lead to aggressiveness among them. Keep several so that there is a balance. Some popular types are: Celebes rainbow, checkered rainbow and Boese Mani rainbow.
Tetras – These fish are brightly coloured and thrive in open spaces. They also like to hide in vegetation or driftwood. To highlight their colours, keep surrounding light and substrate material darker. They are great for community tanks and move in schools.
If you’ve got a good local pet store, they should be able to give you further advice on what kind of fish you can keep together. A good question to ask the pet employees is if the fish have been kept in quarantine for at least two weeks before being available for sale.
If they haven’t been quarantined the fish will be much more susceptible to disease and early death if they have been exposed to high amounts of stress (such as being on an airplane) without a few weeks rest time.
Another important thing to look for in a fish is its colour. You want to choose a fish that has a dense and well-defined colour. If the fish has a pattern, check to see there isn’t any signs of blurring between colours.
What fish are you considering for your tank? Start with these varieties to see which ones you like.