The most important part of any tropical fish aquarium is the fish! They come in all different sizes, shapes, colours and temperament. Choosing fish on the basis of appearance only can sometimes cause problems. For example the male Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta's are very beautiful and exquisite fish, but put two or more of these in the same tank and they will fight to the death! This info will try to give you a guide to some of the better community tropical fish available.
Angel fish : One of the most popular tropical fish because of their striking appearance. These placid and peaceful fish get along well in a community tank. Their arrow shaped bodies are either plain white, plain black or white with black markings, normally two or three vertical stripes. The only drawbacks of the angle fish is that their extended dorsal, anal and pelvic fins may be nipped at by some fish, and they are especially fond of baby fish.
A pair of Angelfish
Tetras : There are many varieties of tetras, all striking in their appearance. These fish are definitely not loners, preferring to school in large numbers. Our 100 litre tank supports 18 along with many other larger fish and they all get along well. They are timid and keep to themselves, but are not harmed by other fish, and do not constantly hide. They are an invaluable asset to any community tank giving colour and brightness to the tank. The most common tetras are the Neon and Cardinal tetras which are similar in appearance. They do not grow very large, 2 or 3 centimetres long maximum. The Neon is a beautiful fish with an intense fluorescent blue stripe with red and white throughout its body. The Cardinal tetra is almost identical but has more red and blue colouration and may grow slightly larger. Other species such as the Head-and-Tail light tetra and Blood fin tetra are also beautiful and peaceful fish
These amazing fish are unique as they have a special respiratory organ which
allows them to breath oxygen from the air. Most Gouramis are excellent in a
community aquarium. The most popular are the Blue, Gold, Pearl, and Lace. All of
these types are beautiful fish with long pelvic fins. They are active yet
peaceful but may get aggressive during feeding (this presents no real problem -
as long as they get their food!) They can grow to a reasonably large size in
a large tank with few neighbours, but in a well inhabited tank will not grow to
big. The most interesting of the Gouramis is the Pink or White
Kissing Gouramis. These funny characters get their name from their usual
pastime. If a pair of Kissing Gouramis are place in a tank, they often lock lips
in mock combat. This is not dangerous or harmful, it is just their way of
deciding which individual is dominant.
A Flame Gourami
Mollies are very popular even though they are not the easiest of fish to
maintain. They are how ever very attractive in a community tank. They come in
many different colours and sizes, are rather peaceful and are happy living with
most of their tank mates. There are many different types of Mollies such as the
Marble, Balloon, Lyretail and the very attractive Sail-fin.
Guppies : The
Guppy is a small yet active fish, the best-known of the live bearers. It is their
attractive, extremely fertile, hardy, adaptable and peaceful qualities that make
them ideal to the beginner fishkeeper. The female guppy is less attractive than
the male, whose colouring and tail shape are far more bold and appealing. The
variety of colours and shapes is enormous. The addition of one male with any
number of females into a community tank will soon result in many babies,
which will be eaten by other fish, and the mother herself, if the pregnant
female is not isolated in a proper breeding tank. Males placed together will
undergo mock combat to decide which one is dominant, this is not a problem as
neither male is hurt.
Platys : The
Platy is a small, compact, easily kept tropical fish.
They come in a wide selection of colours including red, yellow, orange, black,
green, blue, white and any combination in between. Platys have been selectively
bred to produce marble and spotted varieties with wagtail and variegated tails.
They are exceptional breeders, often one brood per month, with about fifty to
sixty babies per brood. The Hi-Fin platy is a very attractive and popular
variation of the more common red platy.
Sword-tails : This popular and colorful live-bearing fish is a close cousin of the platy , often breeding together. The Swordtail gains its name from the long sword like extension of the males tail called a sabre. Colours include red, yellow, white and black with combinations of these. The Swordtail's peaceful nature makes it an ideal beginners fish, aggression is rare although males may sometimes fight for a female during breeding times. The Swordtail may grow to a maximum of two or three inches in a community tank.
Male and Female Swordtail - male has the sabre tail.
Catfish : Catfish are an invaluable
part of any beginners tank. They are extremely hardy fish who rarely get any
diseases or illness. There are many different varieties to choose from ranging
from the Bronze Catfish to some of the
more exotic varieties such as the Upside-down catfish, Phantom Glass and Salmon
catfish. These small yet extremely active scavengers help to keep your aquarium
free of algae and rotting food material. Even in a community aquarium they seem
oblivious to anything around them and will often swim straight through anything
in its way!
Sharks : There are a number of
different species of the tropical "shark". Although these are not real sharks
such as the Great White. they do exhibit a striking resemblance to
the real thing. Most of these sharks however do not share their larger cousins
aggressive nature. The Silver and Rainbow sharks are all peaceful
individuals who will not cause concern to other fish. They may be a
little territorial but if your tank is not over inhabited this is not a problem.
One species of shark, the Red Tailed shark, may not be a very good
community tank fish as it can be a little too territorial. Some references say
these sharks are not aggressive except when two males are placed together. So a
little trial-and-error is required with this type. Sharks come in various
colours and can add a bright and active difference to your tank.
Loaches : Most loaches are small,
thin eel-like fish. All Loaches are
members of the Cobitidae family and are very effective scavengers characterised by
three pairs of barbels growing on their snout. The Coolie or Kuhli Loach is
characteristic of this family. They are excellent scavengers, their thin bodies
are able to enter and remove food from otherwise inaccessible crevices. They are
mostly nocturnal creatures who will change suddenly from being extremely active
to hiding and hibernating
under rocks or filters. They behave very well in community tanks, rarely
bothering or being bothered by their fellow tank mates.
Snails : There are a number of
varieties of this slow moving mollusc. Snails can be
extremely useful for eating the algae and slime off of plants, ornaments, rocks
and glass. Be careful of which variety you get as some snails are fast breeders
and may soon swamp your tank with their young. Snails are hermaphrodites, both
male and female, so even one snail can produce young. Ask your fish supplier for
a suitable variety. When introducing a snail to your tank float it on top of a
plastic bag and allow the snail to crawl into the water itself as it
needs to take in some air or it will suffocate and die. Some fish find the
feelers of the snail quite tasty, so if your snail does not come out very often,
you will know why!
Bettas : Bettas or Siamese Fighting Fish are one of the most spectacular tropical fish. Through selective breeding a stunning range of colours and unnaturally long fins have been produced. The female of the species is relatively drab and short finned compared with the male. The male is prized in certain countries for his ferociousness and are often set against each other for contest. They are beautiful fish, but both the male and female often shred the fins of any of its tank mates as well as each others. You should never put two males in the same tank as they will fight to the death and unless you have only small finned fish, not guppies. These fish can be kept on an office desk, computer desk, or anywhere in glass bowl. They do not require any filtration or heating and will live quite happily in these conditions. There natural habitat is semi dried up puddles and stagnant streams in Thailand and surrounding regions , places originally called Siam, hence the name.)
Siamese Fighting Fish or Bettas. Male is Red with large fins, female in the background less coloured and plainer.
Barbs : Barbs are very active and some times aggressive fish despite what some references may say. If placed in a tank on their own they are fine and may fight amongst themselves. If placed in a community tank they may take the fins off of their tank mates often leaving them without the ability to swim and they die. They are very attractive fish and are therefore popular amongst some fishkeepers if not with their fellow fish.