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Choosing the Right Fish for Community Tanks

Choosing the Right Fish for Community Tanks

When jumping feet first into the aquatic hobby it is very easy to get caught up in the excitement when selecting fish, wanting to have one of everything. But have you ever given some thought to selecting aquatic life that complements one another, the aquarium as well as your self-interest?

When researching aquatic life to add to the aquarium, not only do you want to consider compatibilities, but you want to select fish and invertebrates that will utilize the entire available space. The last thing you want to do is select several fish species that only want to swim at the top level of the aquarium, leaving most of tank motionless. Not only will there just be activity at the top of the aquarium, but this could also cause possible issues with fish quarrelling as they compete for space. 

Community Fish

Where do fish like to swim?

Most fish can be grouped into three categories based on the level of the water column they generally tend to occupy. The levels consist of the top swimmers, middle or mid swimmers, and bottom dwellers. Typically, you can determine the level a fish likes to spend most of their time based on the position of its mouth. Top swimming species tend to have an upturned mouth, this allows them to grab food from the surface. Fish with forward-facing mouths tend to be mid-water dwellers, allowing them to dart quickly through the water grabbing their meals. Lastly, bottom dwelling fish have bottom facing mouths that are intended to extract food from the substrate or floor of the aquarium.

A few of the fish species that prefer swimming towards the top of the aquarium consist of African butterfly fish, Killifish, Furcata Rainbowfish, Halfbeaks, Hatchetfish, Pencilfish and Arowanas. Species like labyrinth fish also tend to hover around the top to middle. These consist of Betta fish, Paradise fish and Gouramis. You will also find most mollies, guppies, and platies swimming at the top but they will travel into the middle level as well.

Some of the species that spend most of their day hovering in the middle of the tank are: Neons, Glowlight tetras, Black neons, Emperor tetras, Bleeding heart tetras, Tiger barbs, Denisoni barbs, Silver dollars, Discus, and Boesmans rainbows.

For bottom dwellers, these typically consist of your algae eating fish like Plecostomus, Otocinclus, Chinese algae eaters, and catfish like: Panda corys, Green corys, Bronze corys, Striped raphael catfish, Pictus catfish, and Synodontis eurpterus catfish. Loach species will also spend most of their days skimming the bottom of the tank, a couple familiar are species Clown loaches, Botia loaches, Redtail botias, Dojo loaches, and Kuhli loaches.

Knowing where these species spend most of their day will help you create a well-rounded aquarium when selecting aquatic life to make your aquatic oasis complete. As a reminder, always research any new species of aquatic life you are interested in adding to your aquarium to ensure a harmonious environment sure to bring you peace and relaxation.