Choosing Fish for a Freshwater Aquarium: A Quick GuideImage Source: Flickr.com

If you have looked at any pet shop’s fish and marine life section, you most likely noticed that domestic species come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and color patterns. There are hundreds of bright and vivacious little guys on display and getting one of each might seem tempting enough. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you refrain from purchasing aquarium fish haphazardly.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there for you to consult. Websites such as Reef Nation are a great resource for beginner-friendly fish tank advice, as well as other news and useful information related to aquatic creatures in general.

In this article, we will present a brief overview on how to choose the right fish for your beginner freshwater aquarium.

What to Consider

As previously mentioned, shopping for fish can be confusing for any novice hobbyist, as pet shops offer a wide variety of vivid little swimmers that look great upon a first glance. However, you mustn’t let their beauty overcome the fact that they are living beings with specific needs and behavioral patterns.

Thus, there are a few factors to consider when choosing which freshwater fish to put in your aquarium. First of all, it’s important to remember that some have more specific habitat requirements than others. While some fish are hardy and can adapt to just about any condition, others will wither away if the tank’s ecosystem differs from their native one.

What is more, you must also keep in mind that tank mates should be compatible with one another. Some fish simply don’t play well together, which leads to harassment and aggression. This puts a strain on the victims, which can fall ill and even die in the worst of cases. Therefore, maintaining a peaceful environment is mandatory.

Never put timid fish in the same tank as fast swimmers, as they will tend to disrupt each other. Moreover, come feeding time, those that are more assertive generally eat most of the food. The shier ones tend to linger in the background until the frenzy ends, and at that point there might not be much left for them at all. If you are not careful, they will end up malnourished.

Coexisting in peace also has to do with water conditions. While some species of freshwater fish thrive in soft and acidic environments, others prefer hard, alkaline waters. Placing the two kinds together never ends well, as one faction flourishes while the other fades away slowly. Therefore, you need to research the fish you plan on purchasing carefully before doing so.

Best Fish to Choose

After you’ve decided to put together your first freshwater aquarium, you will want to look for hardy and well-behaved fish that prefer water temperatures of 74 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an average pH of 7. Furthermore, it’s best to consider steering clear of fussy eaters for now and choosing freshwater species that easily take a liking to flake food.

Neon tetras are the ideal beginner fish as they are small, fun, and easy to care for. They are at their happiest when they are in large groups, so don’t be afraid to buy several of them. Their beautifully vivid colors play well with most tank mates, so you will also add an aesthetic touch to your aquarium.

A popular choice for most novice aquarium enthusiasts is represented by danios. They are enthusiastic swimmers that are bound to put on a show, but they still coexist peacefully with their meeker tank mates. Zebra danios and pearly danios are both beautiful choices. Remember to steer clear of the giant danio, as it can grow rather large.

Barbs are another great freshwater species for beginners to enjoy. If you find that Tiger barbs are too aggressive for the ecosystem you are trying to build, go for Cherry barbs instead. These little guys are a lot cheerier than their intimidating cousins, as they do not nip at the fins of other fish.

If you want to add a big fish as well, try the blue gouramis. In spite of its considerable dimensions, it is a true darling that doesn’t become aggressive with its smaller brethren. Finally, to liven up the bottom of the tank as well, add two or three Corydoras catfish. These adorable gravel dwellers wiggle around and are as sweet as marine creatures come.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right fish for your first freshwater aquarium depends on various factors. The species you decide upon have to coexist peacefully, as well as adapt to life in the tank. Fortunately, there are quite a few beginner-friendly species out there that you can purchase at any pet store. Focus on getting those with a mild, yet fun personality, and you’re all set.