The joys of keeping fish as pets are well-known by amateur and experienced hobbyists alike. With a seemingly endless variety of species, a novice fish keeper may be faced with some tough choices. Which types of fish should I get? How many?
A good way of making your choices is to pick the species which have been proven to be appropriate beginner fish. Generally they are hardy, small in size, they aren’t picky eaters, (some fish will not only eat “live” foods) they don’t produce massive amounts of waste, have a harmonious disposition and will tolerate other fish. (Meaning they are not particularly territorial) These traits make them easy to care for.
It would be good to set up your freshwater aquarium in the appropriate environment that your fish are used to. For example, if you have lots of schooling fish, make sure to leave ample space for them to gather and swim. If you have a fish that is generally shy or secretive, give him a few hiding spots. Doing some research on the characteristics of the fish you decide to keep will assure that your wet pets are happy.
Now, onto the species…
Tetras – These are perhaps the most common starter fish available. There are numerous kinds and all are very inexpensive. As they are considered “schooling” fish, they do well in groups of 6 or more.
Minnows, Danios, Rasboras, and Barbs – Very hardy. They come in multiple colours and design patterns. Interesting, if not endearing schooling behavior.
Gouramis – Generally peaceful, they have an interesting look and come in various colors. There is also a type of this species known as “kissing” gourami. Surely these fish can add a bit of personality to your tank.
Guppies, Platies, and Swordtails – Very colorful and have unique features. They stay small. (Usually, no more than 3 inches) Very peaceful and thrive in a community environment.
Loaches, Cory Cats, Plecostomus and other bottom feeders – Let’s start with loaches. These fish have a unique look as they have a bottom oriented snout. Good for taking care of your snail population, if you happen to have a problem with it. Usually secretive and nocturnal, these would do well in pairs.
Cory Cats are named aptly so because they have what appear to be whiskers. They use these to sift the bottom for excess food. These guys are dynamic and seem to have lots of energy.
Plecostomus are a good addition because they mainly feed on algae and excess food. They have tough scales and boast a suction cup mouth. They are quite interesting to watch when feeding. There are some rare ‘plecos’ which do cost more, but the regular ones are widely available and fairly cheap.
One important aspect you must remember, is the size of your tank (it is usually advisable to have no less than 10-15 gallons) will determine the number of fish that are appropriate to have. A general rule of thumb is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Do not make the common mistake of overpopulating your starter tank. If you do, you will soon find the levels of dangerous chemicals (produced by waste) will quickly get out of hand.
Keep your fish happy and healthy and they will provide you with an interesting, if not relaxing view into their world.