You have your aquarium all set up. The filter has been on for a few weeks, the heater is on, the lights work. Everything is humming. You have cycled your tank and the water parameters are ideal and you are ready to add your fish. But what fish do you add? For those new to the hobby, I bring you information on five great freshwater fish. While that figure 8 puffer looks cool at your local fish store, as does the glass catfish, these fish aren’t exactly for beginners. Take a look at this list of five species that make great beginner fish.
1. Tiger Barb
The tiger barb (Puntius tetrazona) is one of the most popular fish for beginners, provided you keep them in groups of at least 7. The reason being is the tiger barb is a semi-aggressive fish that has a definite pecking order. When you have a large school, the aggressiveness is more widely distributed than if you had just three tiger barbs. The tiger barb is a lively little fish that grows to about three inches in ideal conditions. Provide ample hiding spots for this fish and take care not to stock other fish with long and flowing fins as this barb is known as a fin nipper. Because it is a fast fish and a hearty eater, keep it with fish that are just as fast as the tiger barb. Feed them good quality floating flake foods, and if you can feed them live brine shrimp, that would make an added treat.
2. Corydoras Catfish
The corydoras catfish (Corydoras spp.) is one of the most popular bottom dwelling catfish due in part to its docile nature and its love for hugging the bottom in search of food. That is what they do all the time, so to ensure that they get fed, feed them sinking pellet type foods and fine quality sinking flakes. They also enjoy foods such as bloodworms, glassworms and brine shrimp. They do exceptionally well in a tank with fine gravel or coarse, sandy substrate. If you use a large rock substrate, they tend to lose their whiskers as they are always on the bottom searching for food. The corydoras catfish comes in a variety of different colors and patterns. Keep them in groups of three or more as they are a schooling fish. They are all peaceful fish that can live a long time given the right conditions.
3. Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios (Danio rerio) are small fish at about 2.5 inches in length. They are a schooling fish. The zebra danio is known as such due to its stripes that run the length of its body. Keep them in groups of three or more with other peaceful fish. They can sometimes have long flowing fins, so take care not to house them with fish that are known fin nippers. They are a fast fish and attack food with gusto, so keep this in mind as well so you don’t end up housing them with fish that are slower to feed. You can feed them any quality flake food as well as freeze dried, frozen, and flake food. Spirulina-based foods are also ideal for this fish. I like to keep these fish in large groups as they are really beautiful when they school in a long tank. They will swim back and forth in the tank at the mid to upper levels of the tank.
The guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is one of the most popular freshwater fish to keep in aquaria. It is a relatively small fish that grows to about two inches in length and does very well in a species specific tank, meaning they do well with other guppies. That is not to say that they don’t do well in a community tank. They will, provided they are housed with equally peaceful fish. If you house them with more aggressive fish such as tiger barbs or serape tetras, the guppy will usually remain stressed out until it perishes. Keep these things in mind if you add them to a community tank. The guppy is a livebearer, and if you house a male with a few females, the chances are very good that you will soon have baby guppies swimming around the tank.
Feed your guppies a good quality flake or frozen food and supplement algae based foods and even parboiled zucchini slices for a well-balanced diet.
Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus and X. variatus) come in a variety of colors and patterns, and fin types than any other fish in the hobby. Like the guppy, platies are livebearers and if you keep males and females together in the same tank, chances are you will have babies and will have to separate the babies from the parents to prevent the babies from getting eaten. Feed your plates a good quality flake food that has a large amount of vegetable matter as one of the main ingredients. The play is very easy to keep and does well in community tanks. They are a generally peaceful fish that can live in a variety of water conditions.
While these fish are just a few that make great fish for those new to the hobby there are a variety of other species that also make great first fish. Keep in mind that this list is just a list. You will have to make your own decisions based on your own research, including but not limited to water and filter parameters, how your aquarium is setup as well as the size of your aquarium and other factors. The fishkeeping hobby is rewarding, and when your tank is set up properly and properly maintained, it will reward you with endless hours of fun and relaxation.