Requirements of Common Aquarium Fish Species

Requirements of Common Aquarium Fish Species

Amid lockdown when going outside was restricted, fish keeping gained popularity as a sustainable hobby. Unlike other pets like canines, there is no need to take fish out for a walk or feed them hefty meals. Apart from these, some major reasons that attract people in fish keeping include-

  • They don’t need a lot of space
  • Don’t make a mess in the house
  • They are silent
  • Require food only a few times a day in small portions
  • Aquariums humidify the air
  • Fish lowers down the stress levels

If you too own an aquarium, understanding the specific requirements of its inhabitants- fish and plants are essential. Every living creature of the tank has optimal conditions for thriving. Therefore, before bringing a new plant or fish home, a thorough knowledge about them is vital. It includes multiple things-

  • Temperature requirement
  • Right pH range
  • Light requirements
  • Food and feeding schedule
  • Suitable ambience
  • Compatibility with other species, etc.

If you rely only on the shop owners to get the details, beware! Most of the time, they lie deliberately just to sell their products and do not tell everything about the fish’s and plants’ specific requirements. Therefore, double-checking the information about selected species from different sources like experienced aquarists, online, and literature ensures what is necessary and what’s not.

In this article, we are providing important information on some common fish species. If you are a new aquarist and trying your hand on fish-keeping, the content below will help. Check out the information below and decide which fish species will be the best for you.


Tetra is one of the most liked and popular fish species. It is because of their existence in a variety of colours and sizes. The best part is most of the varieties are perfect for aquariums. Tetras can be easily maintained in a community tank. They prefer slightly acidic water.

The neon tetra is the most popular variety among the tetra group. It is because of its small size, shy nature and neon band that shines uniquely in dim light. Although tetras are available in different colours, neon tetra is one of the kinds. The shiny colouration makes the fish adorable and the tank attractive.

Neon tetra loves to live in shoals due to its shy nature; therefore, while buying, make sure you purchase at least 3 or 4 neon tetras. If kept alone, it gets stressed and becomes susceptible to different diseases. At the same time, make sure not to overcrowd the tank with tetras as it may cause other tank issues like change in water chemistry, excess of pollution etc.

When all the tetras in the tank are healthy, you can see them moving in a shoal. They are peaceful and do not mess with other tank mates; instead, they seek shelter in such formation. You can see males chasing females and playing together.

If you have live plants in your aquarium, tetras are perfect because they are not herbivorous. Feeding them fish food, shrimp, egg, etc., is a good idea. However, they require plants for hiding and spawning purposes. You can see the tetras laying eggs either on leaves or scattering at someplace in the tank. In case the eggs are laid at the bottom, the bottom dwellers fish may eat them before they hatch.


Gouramis are another species that are pretty popular among aquarists. The small size (8 to 12 cm) makes them perfect for keeping even in a small-sized tank. Gouramis are a bit aggressive in nature as compared to peaceful tetras. You can keep at the most four specimens in a tank as more than that will keep on fighting and harassing the weakest one.

Male gouramis are more aggressive; therefore, keeping them solo is better. Females are still tolerable. If you have a large, well-decorated tank, mix different colours of gourami varieties to give an attractive look to the tank. Also, keep them with fish that are smaller in size and not too active as gouramis are slow-moving fish. Some of the best and most compatible fish mates are tetras, guppies, barbs and angelfish.

Gouramis are found in a variety of colours- blue, gold, chocolate, pearl, moonlight, sparkling, etc. They are not shy in nature and prefer to remain to hide under the plants and avoid direct light. Male species are larger in size with longer fins and brighter colours than females. Talking about reproduction, some gouramis are mouth breeders, and others make bubble nests to incubate their eggs. Many people bred gouramis selectively to get specific colours and fancier fins.

Soft acidic water is perfect for gouramis, although they are quite adaptable to different pH levels and alkalinity. Keeping pH around 6.8 to 7.8 and temperature between 24 to 28 degrees Celsius will make sure that gouramis will thrive well. Do not forget to maintain a good filtration system in the tank.

The majority of Gouramis species are omnivorous and prefers to eat fish flakes, shrimp pellets, etc. You can give herbivorous species like Kissing Gouramis algae feed. Live foods and frozen foods are also good as they induce spawning. You can check what they like by feeding a variety of food and checking which food gets finished within two minutes.


Betta, one of the popular fish species, is often in demand due to its colourful fins. Every aquarist wants its tank to be colourful and lively, and betta fish fulfils this requirement. However, one must ensure that these fish are aggressive, especially males towards males. If you have two males in a tank, you may end up watching them messing around with each other and quarrelling all the time. If you see the weaker male die, it should not come as a surprise.

Another thing to keep in mind while having betta is maintaining the male: female ratio at 1:1. In case the females are more, males have to endure stress while taking care of excess bubble nests where the eggs hatch. It is an important point to keep in mind if you are breeding betta fish.

In general, betta species are peaceful towards other species. They do not pose any harm or attack even the smaller fish of other species. However, you have to make sure that they are getting enough space. If you want to keep your betta calm and poise, ensure providing good space to it. Overstocking and overcrowding the tank is a big NO, especially when you have betta.

Bettas love to be surrounded by live plants. Since they have big fins, making them inefficient to swim all through the day, they often look for spots to hide and take some rest. Since bettas are not herbivorous, you don’t have to worry about your plants at all.


The graceful swimming behaviour of angelfish and beautiful look makes it a wonderful addition in large community tanks. Over the years, with selective breeding, long-finned angelfish have been developed in the recent past that are preferred by most aquarists.

If you are considering angelfish for your tank, make sure that the tank’s capacity is around 100 litres or more. They are peaceful species and often outgrow a small tank. Therefore, 50-60 litres tank will not be sufficient even for two fully grown adult angelfish. It is recommended to have at least 55 gallons or larger tank to have full-grown angelfish. Tall aquariums easily accommodate the body’s shape of this fish.

Gentle water flow and moderate décor will be fine. You can have driftwood and floating plants that will provide shade cover to the fish. Since angelfish loves dwelling at the bottom of the tank, especially for food, maintain fine to medium grade smooth-surfaced gravel.

Talking about the water requirements of angelfish, slightly warm water is the best. At the same time, it is essential to keep the pH between 6.8 to 7.8. The temperature may range from 24 to 28 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, changing the water regularly and keeping an adequate water filtration system makes sure that fish will thrive happily.

Angelfish may grow aggressive while spawning. Although peaceful, they may eat fish of smaller size as they are opportunistic like other fish and eat anything that fits their mouth. The best tank mates for angelfish will be larger tetras, gouramis, barbs, rainbow fish and other medium-sized fish.

Angelfish are omnivorous and feed mid-water or at the surface. They may be found dwelling at the bottom searching or worms. You can feed them shrimp pellets, fish flakes, frozen and live foods. In a nutshell, they will almost eat anything given to them.


Guppy fish are adorable small fish that can make your tank look peaceful and attractive. However, the only downside of having guppy fish is they often become dinner for larger predators. For example, Paradise fish love to eat guppies. Therefore, while buying guppy fish, you have to be double sure about the compatible tank mates or else you will not be able to figure out which fish has your guppy fish in its stomach.

Due to different colour variants, guppy fish are pretty popular among aquarists. Also, they are easy to care for and maintain, making them perfect for beginners too. Males are more colourful and have bigger fins than females. However, females grow bigger in size than males.

Guppy fish are peaceful in nature. They do not bother other species and can be seen swimming around species of their own kind and trying to attract females by displaying beautiful fins. The ratio of male: female could be kept at 1:2. Males are always willing to reproduce and harassing females; therefore, keeping their count low will be good. For instance, if there is one female over five males, the female will end up being pregnant all the time. This may pose unnecessary stress to her life.

Also, guppies are live-bearing species. It means that they will not lay eggs but reproduce the one who can swim and accept food. Another good thing about guppy is you don’t have to worry about your live plants. Since guppies are not herbivorous, they will not eat your plants, and they will remain safe.


If you are introducing cichlids, be very careful as their diet is only smaller fish. Cichlids are predator fish and can be found in a variety of colours and sizes. The amazing social behaviour and extraordinary intelligence make them interesting fish species for many aquarists.

In general, it is an assumption that cichlids will be aggressive, but it majorly depends upon the tank’s size. Cichlids need good space for moving. Also, it is better not to keep them in groups or else they will end up fighting all the time. With other species, they might be peaceful, but it doesn’t mean that smaller species will be safe.

Generally, cichlids love slightly acidic water. They can grow well in alkaline and hard water as well. Out of so many requirements, something that needs heed is the tank’s size. The bigger is the tank, the better it is for cichlids. You can add LED lights or fluorescent lights in the tank as they will not overheat and also give intense lighting to highlight the colours of fish.

Sand seems the best substrate for these fish as they sometimes ingest it to aid digestion. Some species use sand to build next. Gravel is good for bigger cichlids like Oscars.

If you are planning to have live plants with cichlids, chose some hardy ones like Anubias. Mostly, it is not eaten by the fish species due to hardiness and awful taste. Cichlids are mouthbrooders and carry their fry in the mouth. Some species lay eggs on plants or rocks. You can introduce rocks and stones in the tank that will solve two purposes- the tank’s decor and a place for cichlids to lay eggs. Also, rocks will mimic their natural habitat.


Pleco’s are considered to be very peaceful and nice fish. They are beautiful bottom dwellers that can be seen floating over rocks, near the glass, or simply lying at the bottom of the tank. If your tank has some large live plants like Vallisneria gigantea, plecos will love spending their time sucking algae from their leaves. Large leaves also provide them with good hiding spots.

Most of the plecos are nocturnal and therefore love roaming and hiding around driftwood and caves. They also like to spawn and lay eggs in such hiding spots. Therefore having a well-decorated tank with live plants is perfect for plecos to thrive. Make sure that the tank is well aerated and have an adequate filtration system.

Soft water with a pH from 7 to 8 is best for them. The temperature should fall between the ranges of 24 to 28 degrees Celsius. A good filtration system and 10% water exchange after every ten days is ideal for plceos to thrive well inside the tank.

Plecos are not only easy to care for but breed too, making them perfect as beginner plants. Make sure that there are no predator fish like angelfish or paradise fish in the tank as these fish can chase and eat plecos whenever they get the chance.


So, these are some major requirements of common fish species that aquarists look forward to. If you keep these specific requirements in mind while buying a new fish, it will ensure that you pick the right species for your tank and never make any mistake that could take their life.

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