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Freshwater Setup: Finding the Right Fish for Your New Aquarium

Freshwater Setup: Finding the Right Fish for Your New Aquarium

The day has finally come. You've assembled, furnished and decorated your aquarium. You’ve taken precautions to establish a healthy, life-supporting environment.

You’re ready to add fish.

But, as the old adage goes, there are lots of fish in the sea (or, for our freshwater purposes, rivers, lakes and streams). They come in all shapes and sizes. Some like to dart about, while others are happy to lie in wait. Each has their own fishy personality. (And that’s why we love them, right?)

So, which fish should you choose for your freshwater aquarium?

Even if a new aquarium has completed the nitrogen cycle, which is a sequence of biological reactions necessary for sustaining plants and fish, its environment may fluctuate. For this reason, the fish you choose should be hardy and easy to care for.

Here are four fish that are great for getting your aquarium started:

  • Danios
    Danios are at the top of the honor roll—they love to school towards the top of the aquarium. With lots of colors and varieties to choose from, Danios make a fascinating addition to any freshwater aquarium. Their activity can even coax shy, reclusive fish out of hiding.

  • White Clouds
    White Clouds are happy-go-lucky fish that don't ask for much. They are active schoolers. Their size also makes them a good choice—adults rarely exceed two inches long.

  • Barbs
    Barbs come in several varieties, and all require ample swimming space. Varieties such as the voracious Gold Barb and the timid Cherry Barb receive high marks for their community-oriented behavior. But not all Barbs play nice: Tiger Barbs are known to be aggressive to other fish. And all Barbs have a tendency to "fin-nip," so think twice before placing them with long-finned fish.

  • Corydoras Catfish
    Corydoras Catfish, or Corys, are Zen-like scavengers that spend their days burrowing and swimming along the bottom. Don't be surprised if you rarely catch a glimpse of their whiskered faces—they're most comfortable in a cave or behind a plant. Just be sure to offer their favorite treat: frozen bloodworms.

    But other fish like frozen bloodworms, too, and they may gobble them up before bottom-dwelling Corys can even get a bite. For this reason, it's important to also provide Corys with sinking wafers or pellets.

These four fish are generally compatible with one another, giving you options for creating a dynamic fish community.

The right fish are key to starting off on the right fin—er, foot

While it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of becoming a fish parent, it's important to do your homework. Read up on proper fish care. Know the formulas for determining the size and number of fish your aquarium can support. After all, being aware of your needs can keep you from getting carried away by a beguiling flick of the fin, and headed towards providing a healthy home for your fish.