Freshwater Tropical Fish Identifier

Choosing the Right Fish for your Aquarium

Most beginning aquarium owners are soon overwhelmed with the large number and variety of decisions required when setting up a new aquarium. The owner must decide on the type, size and location of the tank; whether it will be freshwater or saltwater; live or plastic plants; types of filters, heaters, lights, and food; and a hundred other technical questions that must be answered for designing a properly operating tank.

Unfortunately, the last decision that is often made concerns the type and number of fish that are going to live in the tank. When the owner does decide on buying fish it is often done based on color and appearance. As a result, many new tanks fail to thrive and many fish perish as a result.

Questions to ask when choosing fish
The correct way to set up a new tank (after you are sure a fish tank is right for you) is to first research and decide what type of fish you would like to have in the tank. There are over 25, 000 identified species of fish and over 2, 000 of these are available to the aquarist. To help narrow down your list of desirable fish you need to consider all of the following questions about the potential candidates:

  • How big is the fish going to get?
  • If the fish gets large will it prey on or frighten smaller fish in the tank?
  • Is the fish too small to fit in with the other fish in the tank?
  • Is the fish territorial and will it require a large space of its own?
  • Does the fish eat other fish? Many tropical fish do.
  • Does it nip the fins of other fish?
  • Is it aggressive or is it too shy and nervous to live with certain other species?
  • Does it eat live plants?
  • Does it dig in the bottom of the tank?
  • What kind of water does it require (pH, hardness, temperature, etc.)?
  • Is it available where you live?
  • What does it cost?
  • Is it raised domestically or taken out of the wild?
  • Does this particular fish need to live in groups or prefer to live alone?

CatfishOnce you have decided what fish you would like to have in your tank, then the rest of the decisions will fall into place much easier. One of the most important steps to take is to build the aquarium around the chosen fish species not the other way around. You will be much more successful and have healthier fish if you build your aquarium around the needs of the fish rather than around your desire to have an attractive tank. If you create an aquarium where the needs of the individual fish in the tank are placed first it will be both healthy and beautiful.

The type, size and location of the tank will be tailored to best suit the species of fish you choose. The filtering and heating choices will be based on the type of fish you choose. The plants, lighting, food source, and substrate choice will all be tailored to provide the healthiest and most natural environment for your fish species.

Seven Categories of Aquarium Fish
To repeat what we mentioned earlier, there are over 2000 species of fish available. To help make your search for the right fish easier, we have divided the most commonly available tropical fish into 7 main categories. Each one of these categories contains fish that are similar in many of their traits. However, it should be emphasized that this listing is just an outline and there are often many unique differences between fish in the same family and individual research into each specific species should be done before making your final decision.

Sustainable Reef Fish Collecting


When: Friday, May 21, 2010 @ 7:00 p.m. Where: IHOP, 1001 E 17th St, Santa Ana CA 92701-2546 To learn more about SCMAS: Guest Speaker: Ret Talbot Ret Talbot is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who frequently reports on the marine aquarium industry. Most often addressing topics at the intersection of the hobby, science and conservation, Talbot is a strong advocate for a robust and sustainable marine aquarium trade where aquarists serve a critical role on the front line of reef conservation. As a marketing consultant and editor, he has worked with many leading marine aquarium companies to promote that vision

Alpha Books The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freshwater Aquariums
Book (Alpha Books)
Barron's Educational Series Essential guide to Choosing Your Tropical Freshwater Fish, An (Tankmasters)
Book (Barron's Educational Series)
Beginner's Guide to Keeping Freshwater Puffers
eBooks ()
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