- Go with either cold water or warm water fish. You need to choose fish that all thrive at right around the same temperature. You can accommodate only a few degrees difference in preferred temperatures or your fish will suffer. So, a tropical fish generally cannot live comfortably alongside a cold water fish. Your tank equipment needs will also differ greatly as some fish require heaters and lights and others do not.
- For example, a white cloud minnow is a type of cold water fish that requires consistent temperatures between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit in order to thrive. The Discus, on the other hand, need a warmer tank that stays in the low to mid 80s.
- If your tank is the wrong temperature, your fish may become more susceptible to disease. They may also move more slowly and refuse to eat.
- Don’t forget to take into account the pH needs of any live plants that you will add into your tank as well. For example, many fresh water plants require a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. A fairly wide range that can overlap with the needs of a number of fish.
Go with either freshwater or saltwater fish. The tank filtration needs between these two fish groups are generally different, with tropical fish requiring less in the way of filtration and cleaning. The temperature and pH requirements between them are also dissimilar, which really can’t be worked around, even by a skilled aquarist.Provide plenty of hiding spots. Even if you are pretty sure that the fish will get along, it is a good idea to create an interesting tank environment that can provide some “alone” space for an individual fish. Some fish are generally social and friendly, but also need to get away every now and then. This will also minimize any stress associated with overcrowding.
- For example, gouramis are fish who love to hide. They establish a dominance system and, during these contests, the weaker fish will often hide from the stronger one.
- Create a single-species tank. If this is your first aquarium or if you don’t want to worry about intermixing breeds, then you can place a number of the same type of fish in your tank. The actual number of fish will depend, of course, on the size of your tank. Single-species tanks are especially good for fish who prefer to swim in schools.
- Oscars are dominant, large fish who don’t generally tolerate other species tank mates well. They will try to eat smaller fish especially. Puffer fishes are good options for experienced aquarists, but they also prefer to be around their own species.
- Think about your viewing desires. You will also want to consider what you’d like to see when you look into your tank. Some fishes, like the goldfish, will provide a great deal of color and activity. Other fish, such as the shark fish, are less colorful but demonstrate very interesting schooling behaviors. Some fish are bottom-feeders and prefer to hide-out during the daytime, such as the kuhli loach, making them almost impossible to spot.
- Take into account your experience level. Make sure to consider how comfortable you are caring for fish. If this is your first tank, you may want to go with a relatively simply combination of just one or two low-maintenance types of fish. Platies and glofish, for example, are great beginner fish who enjoy living in community tanks.
Method 2Ensuring Compatible Fish Behaviors and Biology
- Look for compatible eating patterns. Some fish will eat anything and everything in sight, including other fish. Some fish are more picky eaters who will refuse to eat if bullied by others. Some fish require a certain number of pellets, whereas others just need a pinch of flakes. Get to know what the nutritional requirements are for your fish.
- Make sure to consider the algae needs of your fish as well. Some fish, like plecos, are friendly algae eaters unless that food is not available. Then, they can turn more aggressive.
- Stock with similar sizes. General wisdom suggests that big fish will usually bully and eat little fish. This is indeed often the case. Try to pair fish together who can grow alongside one another to a similar size at maturity. Angelfish, for example, are known to stalk and kill smaller fish in their tanks. A medium size fish or a schooling fish can sometimes withstand the pressures from larger fish.
- Compare pace of movement. You don’t want to look into your tank and see fast-moving fish chasing fish who move a bit more slowly. Learn about how much movement a certain fish species prefers. Try not to pair an overly athletic fish with aggressive tendencies with a fish who is smaller, slower, and more docile.
- Consider schooling preference. Some fish just do better when living and playing in groups. Tropical fish are often fish who do well in schools. Try to establish a school of at least five fish or more. Tiger barbs, for example, are known to develop a temper unless they are placed with an extremely large school of 20 to 50 fish.
- Be aware of the male/female balance. Some fish are not predatory on the basis of sex, but others are. Try to find out if the fish that you are interested in do best with those of the same sex or the opposite. This especially important information to consider with regard to spawning behaviors. For example, a male Betta fish really needs to be the only male in residence in a tank. Whereas, a female Betta does fine with other females.