Choosing Freshwater Aquarium Fish

Published: 10th March 2010
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Nothing is more fun to watch than aquarium freshwater fish. That's because you can choose many different types of fish that will live happily together in a community. Some will be bright, others more darkly colored, some small and some large, many will move very fast and just fly through the water while others will be extremely slow swimmers.

Fish community

When you are choosing fish for your aquarium, you need to consider many different options. The worst thing you can do is to walk into a pet store and just choose a group of fish because you liked the colors or the way they looked. Just as all people cannot get along together, neither can all fish. Not doing a little research beforehand is a recipe for disaster.

When you are first setting up a freshwater aquarium, you need to let it run for a few weeks so that everything is working properly and the water is just right for the fish. As you eagerly await placing your first fish in the tank, it is the perfect time to do a little research on fish and find out which aquarium freshwater fish are going to get along together the best.

Once you figure out which fish can live together in a community, the next thing to determine is which fish to choose for different levels of the tank. You see, every aquarium works best when you have top feeders, who like to live near the surface of the water, middle feeders, who like to be right in the center of the tank (vertically), and bottom dwellers, those nifty fish who swim around the bottom of the tank, eating all of the food that falls there. These bottom dwellers actually keep uneaten food from spoiling and ruining your tank water, which causes diseases. They also keep it algae-free.

Pet Store Discoveries

Unless you are completely fixated on a certain type of fish, the best choice for aquarium freshwater fish is to have a whole aquarium of fish who get along, live at different levels, and are colorful and exciting to watch. One of the best ways to make these selections is to go to the local pet store and spend some time looking at the fish. Don't let shop salespeople hurry you along. Just take all the time you need going from tank to tank, and bring along a notepad to jot down the names of the fish you really liked.

Next, ask the salesperson to take a look at what you have chosen and make their recommendations as to what fish can live in harmony and which cannot. As a rule it is always best never to put more than one male of any type of fish in an aquarium. Males of different species can get along but as a rule, two males of the same species will not. So, one male and several females is a better choice. The aggression level of fish is very important because some fish will fight another fish to the death of one of them if they are incompatible. And, even if death is not an issue, some placid fish can be terrorized daily by more aggressive fish, having their fins nipped at and being driven away from the food.

The truth is that many of the people who work in pet stores are not experts on aquarium freshwater fish. That means that you should write down what the salesperson said and take your notepad home to do a little more research. There are literally thousands of websites online about aquarium freshwater fish, and dozens of' forums where people get together to talk about their fish. Never let a pet store employee talk you into bringing your aquarium and your fish home on the same day.

Online fish facts

Do a little more research to figure out if the fish you like get along with one another. Find out if the fish need to have lot of plants and other hiding places. If some of your fish need huge open spaces and others need large areas of plants, you will not be able to live with the smallest tank available. Keep in mind that for every one inch of fish, you need 3 to 4 gallons of water. The rule of thumb that says each inch of fish needs one gallon of water is far from reality.

Obviously, if you are enthused by large fish you are going to have to put out some big bucks to buy a big tank. Go down the list of fish you liked and see how much space they will need. Find out if they can all live in water with the same acidity level. This is determined by a number and then the letters, pH. Some fish need a low pH and some need a high one. And, check out as to whether or not you have fish who can live at the surface, mid-way and bottom water levels.

Even if you choose to have fish that all live at one level, you will need a bottom feeder, or you will have big problems keeping your water clean and your fish healthy. Besides, bottom dwellers are a lot of fun to watch as they scour the bottom of the tank with their big mouths constantly opening and closing. Also make sure all the fish can survive at a similar temperature level.

Best beginner fish

As you are trying to determine the freshwater aquarium fish you want to purchase, take a look at some of these fish, who all live at the same temperature level, different water levels, and who all get along in a community. Most fish do best with at least a half dozen of their own kind in the tank. Check these out: tetras (used to be the best tiny fish but in recent years quality has declined and they don't live as long), cherry barbs, danios, blue gouramis, rasboras, and corydoras catfish, who are perfect bottom dwellers.

Kevin Elliott is an aquarium expert. For more great information on

freshwater aquariums

, visit

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