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Tropical Fish Keeping – Popular Freshwater Tropical Fish Species

Listing all of the popular freshwater tropical fish species adapted to aquarium life would be an effort in futility.  There are literally more tropical fish species in Africa, South and Central America and the Orient than you could ever count and scientists are discovering new ones on a regular basis.

If you want your tank filled with beautiful fish that will give you hours of enjoyment;  here are some of the more popular and readily available fish species that people have been putting into their aquariums for a number of years.

The following species are all freshwater fish.  Freshwater tanks are more affordable and easier to maintain than saltwater tanks and they provide tropical fish keeping enthusiasts with just as much pleasure as saltwater, without the learning curve.   Once your fish keeping skills have been refined and your tank is large enough, you can always adapt it to saltwater use at a future date.

  • Catfish –


There are many species of tropical catfish that can be kept in your tank that will remain relatively small.

Catfish are bottom feeding scavengers and will help clean up any uneaten fish food from the bottom of your tank.

Most species of catfish are perfect for community tanks and will keep to themselves foraging just off or on the bottom of the tank.

The more common types like the Pictus, Synodontis, Porthole, and Armored catfish seldom grow over five inches long.  A “soft” bottom or coated surface gravel on the bottom of the tank will help bottom feeders forage for food lodged there.

Some of the more exotic species like the Red Tail and Shovelnose catfish can grow several feet long and should be avoided.

  • Cichlids –


Countless books have been written about these beautiful fish.  They are found in the tropics of South and Central America and in Africa’s lakes and rivers.

One of the more popular and common cichlids is the Angelfish with their many varieties.  All have strikingly colorful stripes and long pointed fins.

The Rams and Geophagus (Pearl Chiclid) have bright sparkling scales.

The Lake Malawi African Cichlid varieties with their  bright, sparkling scales and dazzling color patterns are some of the most beautiful in the world.

Most –cichlids are territorial and will require special housing.   Because they usually claim the entire tank as their territory, they are not suitable for community tanks.

  • Loaches –
Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli Loaches

Loaches like catfish are bottom feeding scavangers and can be found in most South American rivers and lakes.

Loaches have small wiskers and spines that help them hold onto rocks in fast currents.  They are readily available in most pet shops are are an asset in the community tank settings.

The only drawback to keeping these little cleaners is that they are sensitive to high nitrate levels and will die without water changes.  Never put loaches in a tank before it has gone through the cycling process.

  • Tetras –
Congo Tetra

Congo Tetra

These small brightly colored South American fish thrive in large schools and in wide open spaces.

They do exceptionally well in planted tanks and love to hide in the vegetation or driftwood.  Although they require slightly acidic water to breed, they can tolerate being in a neutral environment.

Tetras are great in community tanks with their own kind and are quite peaceful with most other peaceful species.

To highlight their many varied colors, many tropical fish keepers accent the surrounding lighting to keep the tank and substrate materials slightly darker.

  • Rainbow Fish
Boesemani rainbow

Boesemani rainbow

Rainbow fish –are small, brightly colored freshwater fish found in northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea, islands in Cenderawasih Bay, and the Raja Ampat Islands.

If you really want to add some vibrant color to your tank, buy yourself some rainbowfish.

Rainbow fish are the perfect addition to your community tank. They move in schools, love to swim fast and are constantly darting in and out of things.

Having only one or two rainbow fish in a tank can lead to aggressiveness and since they do better in schools, purchase at least six when adding then to your tank.

Some popular types are the Celebes rainbow, the checkered rainbow and the Boesemani rainbow pictured here.

These are only a few of the many types of tropical fish you have available to populate your freshwater tropical fish tank.  Start up with a few of these varieties and build from there.

Look for specific articles on each fish under Tropical Fish Species in future posts.

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

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