So you want to stock your new fish tank and you don’t know where to start? How do you know if the fish you select will get along?
Tropical fish will come in three general categories. Community fish, semi-aggressive fish, and aggressive fish. Community fish are smaller, more docile fish that can generally live well together. Semi-aggressive fish are more territorial in nature and can be very aggressive at times for different reasons. When I say very aggressive, I mean chasing and eating other smaller fish. Aggressive fish are carnivorous fish that strictly eat meat and will eat other smaller fish in a heartbeat. These are for more experienced fishkeepers.
I recommend starting out with community fish. They are much easier to keep especially if you are mixing species.
Some of the smaller community fish include:
- Rasboras (schooling fish)
- Tetras (schooling fish)
You can find most of these at your local pet or aquarium shops. You can be pretty safe with all community fish living together. They generally don’t grow more than 3 inches in size so you can have a smaller fish tank around 20 gallons or more. Rasboras and Tetras are schooling fish, so keep that in mind when selecting a tank size.
Semi-aggressive fish include Gouramis, Barbs, and Loaches. They tend to grow larger, so a 30-gallon or more tank is recommended. These species of fish, especially the males, can be a bit more aggressive towards each other and smaller community fish. If you’re going to mix the more docile community fish with semi-aggressive fish make sure the size difference is small. Balance out the tank with far more community fish than the bigger semi-aggressive type.
Aggressive fish like Cichlids and Oscars should never be mixed with small community fish or even semi-aggressive fish. These types of fish grow larger so a large fish tank is needed. These species are not recommended for the novice.
It’s a good idea for all species of fish to have some hiding places in your aquascaping so they can hide away if need be.
Don’t add all of the fish at one time. Add one species at a time and let them get used to the tank first.
Certain species like Betta are territorial, so best not to mix Betta with another territorial fish like Gouramis
What Tropical Fish Can Live With Goldfish?
Goldfish are more cold-water fish, so any tropical fish that requires warmer temperatures are out. Pick a more hardy fish like a Rosy Barb that can survive in similar temperatures. Another good one is Loaches that can survive in similar temperatures. These are bottom feeders that like to burrow.
Other goldfish are good tank mates, but I recommend one goldfish per 10 gallons of water.
What Tropical Fish Can Live With Bettas?
Bettas live well with fish that are bottom dwellers like Corydoras or small catfish. Bettas are also compatible with certain peaceful community fish like Platy or Rasbora as well. You don’t want to mix two male Betta together, as well as, Cichlids or Gouramis because they’re all territorial in nature. You’ll also want to avoid fast fin-nippers like Barbs.
I created a Betta Care Guide here.
What Tropical Fish Can Live With Guppies?
Guppies are a pretty low maintenance fish and can pretty much get along with any other community fish. You want to avoid mixing Guppies with Angelfish and Cichlids as they are just too aggressive and will eat the guppies for dinner. As long as the fish are about the same size as the guppies, you should be safe. Just avoid bigger, more aggressive types. Also, avoid fin nippers like Barbs.
What Tropical Fish Can Live With Neon Tetras?
Neon Tetras are a schooling fish, so 6 or more other Tetras are recommended. You don’t want to overcrowd the tank with too many other species, but they do well with either surface dwellers or bottom dwellers. So Corydoras, other Tetra like the Cardinal Tetra, Guppies, Loaches, Mollies, Plecos, or Swordtail. You want to avoid Cichlids because they will eat the Tetras.
What Tropical Fish Can Live With African Cichlids?
Cichlids are a more aggressive, territorial fish so not easy to mix other tank mates with. You can get away with bottom dwellers like Clown loach or Pleco or suckermouth Catfish. The red tail shark could also work. Definitely stay away from more docile community fish as they just can’t hold their own against the Cichlids. Also, avoid Angelfish and Discus.
What Tropical Fish Are Hardy?
Bloodfin Tetra: Native to South America, they have silver bodies with red fins, grow to about 2 inches long, and live about 5-7 years. They can be kept in a tank without a heater and survive pH changes. Bloodfin tetras are a peaceful fish that can do well in a community tank. Bloodfin Tetras are egg-bearing.
White Cloud Minnow: Small hardy fish that look like neon tetras. These are very hardy fish that can survive in colder water temps. In fact, they don’t like warmer water above 72 F. These are a schooling fish so prefer to live in a group. They usually grow to about 1 ½ inches and are middle to top dwellers in the tank. White Cloud Minnows are a peaceful fish that can live well together with other small community fish.
Danios: Most often used when cycling an aquarium because they can survive a wide range of water conditions. Ideally, the water temperature should be above 70 F so a heater may be required. They come in a wide assortment of colors so you can create a nice variety for your aquarium. Most species grow less than 2 inches and prefer to be in a school. These are active, fast swimmers so a longer tank is best.
Black Mollies: A peaceful fish that can get along in a community tank. They are a hardy, freshwater fish that can also survive in brackish or saltwater. They prefer water temperature above 70 F so you probably want a fish tank heater. Black Mollies are livebearers. If you have a male and female together guess what? Baby fish will suddenly appear. They tend to eat their young so have plenty of hiding places for the babies.
Platy: Another tropical fish that come in a wide variety of colors. They are live-bearers, so a ratio of 1 male to 2-3 females is ideal. They do well in a community tank, but other species may eat their young. A nice feature is that they also eat algae from the tank.
Swordtails: A very hardy, long-lasting fish. They get their name from their tail fin which resembles a sword. They’re a passive fish and will add beautiful color to your fish tank.
Betta: They’re also known as Siamese fighting fish, so you definitely don’t want two males in the same aquarium. These are probably the most beautiful fish tank fish because of their flowing, colorful fins. Other fish may begin to pick at their fins so be mindful of that.
What Tropical Fish Live The Longest?
Goldfish can live up to 15 years. Neon Tetras, Angelfish, and Oscars can live to around 10 years. Betas, Gourami, Zebra Danios, and Jack Dempseys live from 3-5 years.
What Tropical Fish Are Easy To Breed?
Live-bearers like Guppies, Mollies, Platy, and Swordtail are going to be the easiest to breed. You’ll wind up with lots of fry with these species.
What Tropical Fish Survive Without a Heater?
Goldfish would have to top the list of fish that can survive in colder water in between 60-70 F. Another hardy, freshwater tropical fish that can survive without a heater are Bloodfin Tetra, Paradise Fish, and White Cloud Minnows.
Will Tropical Fish Eat Each Other?
With smaller community fish, you shouldn’t have a problem with fish eating each other. When you mix larger aggressive fish with small, peaceful fish it is quite possible the larger aggressive fish will feed on the smaller ones.
Mostly what happens with community fish is that they die due to natural causes or poor water parameters and the other fish will feed on the dead or dying fish. Certain territorial species will get aggressive and attack others, not for food, but territorial rights.
Species like goldfish will eat their eggs and even young fry.
Will Tropical Fish Fins Grow Back?
Fins on tropical fish will grow back eventually if another fish is nipping at them. It may be the fish has “fin rot” due to poor water quality. In that case, you have to make sure the water is clean and treat the fish with medication. If you’re having issues with your water quality try some of this Poly-Bio-Marine in your filter.
How long does it take?
It could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how extensive the damage is.
Which Tropical Fish Eat Snails?
The most common species of tropical fish that eat snails are Clown and YoYo Loaches. Betta and Gourami will also dine on them.
Which Tropical Fish Eat Shrimp?
Most predatory, aggressive fish will eat shrimp, so stick with smaller community type species like the neon tetra, white cloud mountain minnows, and rasboras.
When it comes to fishkeeping, what is your single biggest challenge or frustration? Leave a comment below.
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