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The Best Tropical Fish for Beginner Tanks

Tropical Fish - Malawi Cichlids
Malawi Cichlid Tank

Tropical Fish For New Tanks

If you are looking at setting up a tropical fish tank (take a look at this post) then one of the first things you will have done is look at the different species of fish you could put in it! I know that’s what I did. Tropical fish species vary as much as any other pet type and possibly more so than most. The variety of colours, shape and sizes of tropical fish is staggering. Choosing which tropical fish you want can be challenging as there are a couple things to consider.

Tropical fish require varying amounts of attention. It would actually be more accurate to say that the water they live in requires different parameters for different tropical fish to thrive in. This is the main consideration that faces new aquarists. Most local fish stores will recommend hardy fish. The reason being that when a tank is first filled up with water and has new equipment in it, it will not have sufficient levels of bacteria that provide healthy living conditions for the fish.

The first fish in the tank will produce waste and it takes time for these bacteria to build up in your filter and on ornaments to change the resultant ammonia into less harmful substances. So fish that are able to withstand levels of ammonia that are high are favoured. Most seasoned fish keepers would advise beginners to do a “fishless cycle” before introducing fish to their new aquarium. This involves placing flakes of tropical fish food in the tank which will decompose and create ammonia which can then start producing beneficial bacteria.

When there are sufficient levels of bacteria (this can be measured by seeing if ammonia is present in the water with test kits) fish can be introduced knowing they will not have to withstand high levels of ammonia, which is probably the best way to go about things and be humane. Unfortunately many people aren’t aware of this and local fish stores aren’t overly quick to inform people of cycling.

So we know why hardy fish are preferred, but what species of fish are hardy?

 

Hardy Tropical Fish

 

First on the list are probably one of the most popular tropical fish out there. The Guppy. The reason for their popularity is evident in the fantastic colours and variety of of colours they can be found in. Also Guppy Breeding is very easy, see this article for details, the guppy fry only take 6 months to mature so it’s easy to see them grow up and develop colours of their own. Their survival rate due to being livebearers (not using eggs) are a hugely attractive trait for people who possibly want to try their hand at breeding fish. A word of caution though, guppy gestation is only 4 weeks so you could find yourself with more fry than you can handle!

 

Guppies
Guppies

BARBS  

Fast active easy to keep fish which are mostly very peaceful

Cherry Barb
Cherry Barb
Chequered Barb
Chequered Barb
Gold Barb
Gold Barb
Rosy Barb
Rosy Barb
Ruby Barb
Ruby Barb
Tiger Barb
Tiger Barb
Green Tiger Barb
Green Tiger Barb
Odessa Barb
Odessa Barb
Aurelius Barb
Aurelius Barb

TETRAS

 

Bloodfin Tetra
Bloodfin Tetra
Black Phantom Tetra
Black Phantom Tetra
Serpae Tetra
Serpae Tetra
Red Eye Tetra
Red Eye Tetra
Black Widow Tetra
Black Widow Tetra
Glow Light Tetra
Glow Light Tetra
Bleeding Heart Tetra
Bleeding Heart Tetra
Colombian Tetra
Colombian Tetra
Black Neon Tetra
Black Neon Tetra
Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus Interruptus)
Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus Interruptus)
Head and Tail Light Tetra
Head and Tail Light Tetra
Rosy Tetra
Rosy Tetra

DANIOS & MINNOWS

White Clouds Danio
White Clouds Danio
Zebra Danio
Zebra Danio

Pearl Danio
Pearl Danio

Giant Danio
Giant Danio

These are some of the hardiest community fish. As always make sure to ask in store which are suitable to live with each other as there are some that will nip smaller fish, though none in the list are particularly aggressive it’s best to double check.

About Mike

Web designer, football fan and budding traveller.

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7 comments

  1. hi a quick question iuf you dont mind.ive aquired fish and plastic plants&ornaments from my daughter ive scrubbed and boiled accesories but tank has turned cloudy.cleaned tank twice still cloudy any ideas please.

    • Hi Andy, what substrate are you using in the tank? Gravel and in particular sand needs to be washed thoroughly a few times. The other thing to consider is direct sunlight, this will almost certainly turn your tank cloudy as it helps algae grow far quicker than normal.

  2. Hi, we’ve just bought a tank second hand. we have a fluval 305 filter and a heater. Tank has been filled and left for 4 days, so the temp is 25. I have put the tap water safe solution I and the tank hasn’t clouded up. I was wondering if it would be ok the put live plants in next week then some guppies and tetras the week after? Just wondering if this is long enough to let the tank settle and would be safe for our little fish. I would also like to know how often do we need to test the water and what I need to look out for. Thank you

    • Hi Rea,

      That’s a great filter you have! The most important thing to bear in mind is the ammonia levels. The safest way to prepare a tank for fish is to add a few fish food flakes to the tank every day. This allows the ammonia to build up, in response to this ammonia building up there will be increase in bacteria to break down the ammonia to Nitrates then Nitrites. Ammonia and Nitrates are toxic to fish, while Nitrites are less so. It takes a few weeks for sufficient levels of bacteria to colonise. So the aim is to have your tank at a stage where when fish are introduced, the ammonia they create will not build up, but will be broken down immediately providing a safe environment for your fish.

      My advice would be to add flakes everyday (if you haven’t already), doing water tests for ammonia and nitrates daily. After a week you will see a ammonia rising and hopefully the nitrates too a few days behind. Then the nitrites will rise. Once the ammonia drops to zero the tank is safe to add fish, if you add fish before ammonia drops, the fish will suffer and will likely not survive a few weeks. High ammonia compromises the fishes immune system and makes it easy for them to succumb to various illnesses.

      Doing a 30% water change once a week will keep the Nitrites level low. That will be enough to keep your fish happy.

      Good luck!

      Mike

  3. Hi mike, thank you very much. I shall add some fish flakes and do some daily checks. This hobby is going to keep me very busy. Can’t wait to get some fish they fascinate me.
    Thanks

  4. The golden danio you have pictured is actually an arowana

  5. That is a great article! It is very frustrating to purchase fish that are not suitable for beginners, and it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one. Peaceful barbs, tetras, and livebearers are all great choices for those just starting out. Check out this article too to find out more information on some other great choices for beginners: http://www.allaboutaquariums.net/the-best-fish-for-beginners/.

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