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Tips on Freshwater Aquariums - Requirements of Fish Species

Introduction

Nowadays more and more people have aquariums and keep aquarium fish. The fact behind this is fish don’t need a lot of space, they don’t make mess in the house, they don’t destroy the furniture, they are silent, they don’t need any attention and they need only food few times a day. Moreover aquariums look very nice in the house. Another reason why one wants to start a fish tank is aquariums do humidify air around it which in the end helps humans get healthier unless the air becomes oversaturated with water. The last reason for starting a fish tank is it helps one to cool down as watching fish swimming peacefully will lower stress levels.

Having an aquarium is like having a piece of underwater world in your living room, however having a really good-looking one requires one to understand the needs of living beings in there - both fish and plants. As most people buy fish at aquatic stores as newbies, they don’t ask much regarding optimal conditions for fish and plants to thrive. Plenty of shop assistants will talk to you about species only after you demand an answer since their primary goal is to sell a product, they’re not paid for giving advice. Shop assistants also understand the basic psychology of a customer which means whenever a customer hears something he or she doesn’t want to hear, he/she rather leaves the shop without purchasing even a piece of driftwood. In worst cases assistants are of no help and lie deliberately just to make a quick buck. Thus, instead of asking whether a fish or plant requires hard water, ask what kind of water it prefers. Ideally you should do your homework before going shopping and go get some fish and plants only after you’ve become familiar with their origin, demands and compatibility. This will save you not only money, but time and some brain cells too.

The best way how not to get betrayed is to know what species you are going to buy or go there and double-check what species of fish they offer in the store, and then go find some information online about those selected fish or plants. We’ve finally made it to the point of writing this article which is advice on the most common species of aquatic fish.

Tetra:

Tetra in general is a very popular species and they exist in many sizes and colour variations not only in the wild, but in tanks too. The most common tetra sold in shops is the Neon tetra and this particular species is a very small one which can live happily only if kept in shoals, which is actually the case for almost all tetras. Bear this simple rule in mind when buying these fish. In general Neon tetras are so popular due to their shiny colouration, however there doesn't exist only one colour variant of this species on the market. People often choose Neon tetras because of their „neon band“ on their body which is the most shiny colour on the fish. Indeed it really looks like a neon light and this can be best viewed under dimmed lighting in brownish waters of their natural habitat.

Of course, as already mentioned many more species classified as Tetras do exist. These fish have several things in common, however perhaps the most notable characteristic for the keeper is they live in shoals and are quite shy, which results from their role in the food chain in the wild. On the other hand they look terrific in big tanks in which they quite often move like one fish. There is no rule as to how many Tetra species can be kept in a single tank, it is however important not to overcrowd your aquarium as this always leads to issues with water quality and then to diseases. If healthy, all tetras usually try to swim in one big shoal since they are very peaceful and seek shelter in such a formation. They will chase each other, mostly males will chase females, and will play together without fighting. Neon tetras and most of other tetras aren't herbivores which means live plants won't be eaten. It is crucial to provide your Tetras with real plants as they tend to use the plants as hiding places. Reproduction, if kept properly and under right circumstances, should not be a problem. They lay their eggs on leaves or will scatter them somewhere in the tank. The eggs are often overlooked by keepers as they're too small and if there are bottom dwellers kept in the same tank, eggs usually get eaten before fry is given a chance to hatch. Bear in mind that the Tetra species usually prefer acidic water.

Gourami, Paradise fish:

These fish are similar in their size and temperament. Both species grow up to 8 to 12 cm long in the adulthood and are territorial. Perhaps Paradise fish can be considered less aggressive to the females and other species of similar size, but their temperament is a limiting factor in terms of space needed by a single specimen. It is impossible to house 4 or more specimens in a tank that's say 100 litre large, otherwise they're going to keep harassing the weakest one. Like above mentioned Tetras, Gouramis too exist in many colour variants including gold, blue, pearl, chocolate, moonlight, sparkling and much more. When compared to Gouramis, Paradise fish exist in less colour variants out of which the most common ones are blue/orange and blue/white combinations. Gouramis and Paradise fish are not shy, however they prefer shadows under the plants instead of direct light. Small cousin of Paradise fish and Gouramis are the Dwarf gouramies which are more shy and more peaceful than their big relatives. As Dwarf gouramis aren't pure predators they often seek shelter in plants for the purpose of feeling safe.

These species do reproduce in a very fashionable way when the male and female swim together as if they felt in love. The process of breeding comes right after the male builds a bubble nest which of then he takes care. Females will be chased away from the nest and the male will keep protecting eggs and fry once hatched. Be careful when keeping the Gouramis or Paradise fish since they like to eat Guppies or other species that fit their mouths.

Betta:

This one is a small fish with big and colourful fins which is the reason why demand won't fall, however every novice keeper should know these are an aggressive species especially males toward males. You can’t even keep two males in one tank without a divider because the stronger one will simply kill the weaker one. Additionally it isn't wise to keep more than one female with one male too as females need to get rid of eggs from time to time, and if they don't do so there's a risk of getting egg-bloated which in the end has fatal consequences. For aquarists who are interested in breeding this species it also makes sense to keep the ratio of males to females at 1:1 as any additional fish in a breeding tank may cause unnecessary stress to the male which often leads to increased aggression and lack of care of their bubble nests where eggs hatch. It is important to mention these fish are usually peaceful towards other species and they don't bother attacking even small fish. Space is crucial to keep Bettas calm, never underrate this requirement and therefore avoid overstocking your aquariums and better raise less specimens than plenty of them.

Plants, especially the live ones are a great addition to a Betta tank as this species will seek some place where they can do nothing but having a break since their fins are quite big which makes it inefficient to swim all day long. Just like Neon tetras and Paradise fish mentioned above, Bettas too aren't herbivores and plants are considered safe when raising this species.

Angelfish:

Angelfish are classified as peaceful species and they can outgrow a small tank very easily. This simple fact must be taken into consideration when buying a group of Angels as a tank of capacity 50 or 60 litres isn't sufficient even for 2 fully grown adult specimens. Small fish may be viewed as meal by Angelfish especially if they're not kept together as juveniles. Angelfish need a big tank, they do best when kept in groups of 6 or more and they may harass each other especially if the ratio of males to females is too high (better keep more females than males)..

Guppy fish:

As Guppies are small fish they often become a dinner of larger predators which is why it's wise to double-check potential tankmates and their temperament, i.e. above mentioned Paradise fish would love to eat Guppies on a regular basis. Guppies are very popular because they can be found in many colour variants and they are easy to care for, especially males are more colourful than females and they also have bigger fins. On the other hand females grow bigger than males, in general female's body is twice as large as male's.

This species is a peaceful one usually swimming around and trying to attract females of their own kind by displaying fins all day long. It's ideal when they're kept in a small group with the ratio of females to males at 2:1 since males may constantly harass females due to their willingness to reproduce. I.e. if you're going to keep a single female with 10 males, it's guaranteed she'll be pregnant all the time, however her lifespan may reduce significantly due to stressful life.

Guppy is a livebearer which means that they don't lay eggs or build nests, but they're born already being able to swim and accept foods. Of course if you keep guppies you shouldn't worry about your plants as they're not herbivores, thus not interested in eating them.

Cichlids:

Cichlids can be found in many sizes and colour variants from South and Central America to African lakes. They are mostly predators and their diet mainly consists of smaller fish, thus be careful what fish are kept with them in one aquarium. They have amazing social behaviour, display extroverted personalities, and are intelligent too (taken from African Cichlids). It is believed most cichlids are too aggressive to be kept in a group, however this isn't always the case and tank size plays a significant role in this matter. Naturally lots of cichlids, especially those from South America are quite peaceful but this doesn't mean smaller species will be safe with them. Depending on a geographical location where they originate, cichlids may prefer soft and slightly acidic water (South American biotopes) or alkaline and hard water (cichlids from Africa), and attention should be paid especially to size of their tank. The bigger, the better. In general they lay eggs on rocks or plants, although lots of African cichlids are mouthbrooders and will take care of fry by carrying them in mouth. Many cichlids are omnivores and won't mind tasting live plants, but it is wise to make sure you've chosen hardy plants such as Anubias which isn't considered delicious by most fish just in case. A rocky tank is suitable especially for species coming from Africa which actually copies their natural habitat in lakes.

Pleco:

According to another articles on this website, most plec's are very peaceful and nice fish. Lots of aquarists cannot imagine their tanks without these bottom dwellers always sucked somewhere in a cave, on rocks or simply on glass. These fish are so peaceful (bear in mind there may be exceptions) that they tolerate other males of same species in the same tank and won't mind sharing caves with each other. Being bottom dwellers you'll find it hard to see these swimming elsewhere but the bottom. If you grow strudy plants including Vallisneria gigantea these can serve as a “landing point” for many plec's and these fish will spend some time sucking algae from such plants. I.e. lots of plec's will come to the top levels and they are even out of the water at all during feeding! The flakes and granules will get caught on top of the plants and these fish won't struggle eating such foods. Many times you can even touch a fish without disturbing it while it's eating!

Bear in mind plec's require driftwood and caves for hiding purposes as many of them are nocturnal beings. They also prefer to breed and lay eggs in caves where they feel safe. Lots of plants are a vital addition not only to tanks where these species are kept, thus add as much plants as you can. Filtration and aeration are a must just like in any other tank with fish.

Plec's are good fish for beginners and are quite easy to breed too which makes them a favourite choice not only for newbies. Before trying to breed them ensure there are no predators kept in a breeding tank, especially Angelfish or Paradise fish, as these tend to chase newborns of catfish and will of course eat them if there's a chance to do so.

Corydoras:

Very similar to Plec's, Cories are lovely fish too. However when compared to Plec's, most Cories usually grow to 7 - 10 centimetres only. Of course there are exceptions including Panda Cory which grows up to 4 centimetres. In general it is necessary to setup a similar tank and offer same conditions like for Plec's when raising Corydoras and these little fish won't mind whether water is a bit acidic or alkaline as long as chemistry is stable and not changing overnight.

Cory's will lay eggs on glass, flat surface such as rock or piece of wood, however parents do not tend to look after eggs so if you keep any kind of snails in their tank, snails are definitely considered predators as regards to eggs. Newborns are safe from snails of course.

Corydoras are best kept in groups of 6 or more, they love being kept in large shoals actually. They're not demanding when it comes to food, however offer them varied diet including bloodworms, granules for small catfish, tablets, daphnia and various frozen foods on a regular basis. There is really no need to buy expensive fish food for newborns since such a kind of food is usually used for the fish which aren’t bottom feeders.

Apple Snails, Ramshorn Snails:

Generally, there are pros and cons regarding raising aquarium snails. Positives are, for example, that if you have a large aquarium and small fish, or an aquarium with lots of plants, it is hard to find a dead fish for a human which is when snails come to the scene. They quickly eat the corpse so they save other fish, because diseases can spread easily from a dead fish. Bear in mind one Ramshorn snail isn't capable of eating a large gourami.

Another positive point of view on aquarium snails is they eat algae and food at the bottom levels of the aquarium as uneaten food might cause serious water chemistry issues such as pH changes and spike of nitrites.

Cons of keeping snails include their appetite for fish eggs even if they were laid in a bubble nest. If a tank is being overcrowded by snails it brings the same issues as if too many fish were present which is too much of food consumption and of course production of excrements, and even oxygen consumption.

Most fishkeepers prefer Mystery snails over other snails as there are quite a few species sold as these, in most cases they can grow up to 5 or 6 cm and they look very similar to common snails found on the dry land. Shells of Mystery snails are usually brown or yellow. Another reason why these snails are chosen by keepers is they reproduce in aquariums fairly easily by producing cocoons (clutches) above surface somewhere on glass or even outside of a tank if they have a possibility to escape.

Bear in mind Mystery snails may pose a threat to plants as they don't care where and how they move which may result in uprooted plants.

Another common snails found in the aquarium "industry" are Ramshorn snails which are smaller than Mystery snails. Ramshorns usually grow up to 1 cm in length, however if they live long enough they're able to make it to 2 cm. Their shells are usually brown or very dark and they're hermaphrodites which is why it's quite difficult to get rid of them once they've settled in your tank. However their population can be controlled by keeping Puffers or Paradise fish which will prey on them. Another issue with Ramshorn snails is they eat many aquatic plants including Vallisneria spiralis or Hygrophila polysperma.

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