The 4 Most Popular Species Of Freshwater Fish For Aquariums

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Freshwater Aquarium Fish Breeds

When one is contemplating setting up a freshwater aquarium, many things must be taken into account. From equipment selection, setup, maintenance and other factors, there is a lot to consider. Of all of these considerations, however, selecting the right freshwater fish for aquariums is the most important.

When one thinks about tropical fish species it is common to think strictly about saltwater fish. The reality of course is that there are plenty of freshwater fish that fall under the category of tropical fish. These species mainly originate from rivers and lakes located in warm environments, such as those found in Central Africa and South America.

So, what are the most popular species of freshwater fish for aquariums? There are over 20 families of freshwater tropical fish species. Of these, there are four which are the most popular, especially for beginner aquarium enthusiasts. Each has its special considerations; temperament and compatibly with other species will often determine their suitability to your aquarium. Each family is outlined below.

Cichlidae Family

The 1300 species in this family are communally known as cichlids. Among these you have angel fish, perhaps the best known of the bunch.

They can be fed easily with commercially available food. If you want to breed them, they are easy breeders and do practice brood care. The latter makes the need to separate eggs from the rest of the aquarium unnecessary, provided of course there aren't other aggressive species present. Care should be taken with angel fish and other cichlids if you intend to have smaller species present, as they can display occasional aggressiveness and attack or eat smaller fish.

Poecilidae Family

This family includes species such as guppies, mollies and swordtails. They tend to be small, so consideration should be taken if aggressive species share the communal tank. Left to themselves, they are passive. A special feature to these species is that they give live birth to their young.

Characidae Family

Made up of over 1500 species, this family includes the tetra. Similar in passivity to the poeclilidae family, they are well suited to cohabitate tanks with other non-aggressive species. Of these freshwater fish for aquariums, the neon tetras and lemon tetras display the brightest colors. These species also display schooling behavior which, combined with their bright coloration, can add to the overall look and visual flow of any aquarium. Even thought they do school, they also require secluded areas which they use as protection zones when they are idle.

Corydoradinae Family

This family of tropical fish species is made up primarily of bottom dwellers, such as the catfish. In an aquarium environment they will display nocturnal characteristics, meaning that they are most active under dimly lit conditions. Their feeding habits provide an effective way to combat algae from the substrate of an aquarium. It is normal for them to display occasional forays to the surface to gulp air. This is natural to them as a way to supplement their gill performance, but it also adds an "engaged" look for the aquarium, as they are not static bottom dwellers.

Outside of these four families of freshwater fish for aquariums, you also have other species from other families such as the barbs, danios and minnows which tend to bottom feed, but also provide mid-level filler for an aquarium. Closely related to the corydoradinae family is the plecostomus. A sucker fish that is quite effective at keeping the sides of the aquarium clean from algae.

This general overview of the most popular freshwater tropical fish species should give you a good starting point for your fish selection process. Remember; do not feel obligated to rush into a multi-species setup. For many, it is easier to start with one or two species; slowly augmenting the diversity of the tank with time and experience.

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Jason S Williams has 1 articles online

If you want to learn more about Freshwater Aquarium Maintenance, you can visit my website at for helpful tips on setting up, maintaining and caring for both your Freshwater Aquarium and the fish that inhabit it.

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The 4 Most Popular Species Of Freshwater Fish For Aquariums

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This article was published on 2011/01/14