What fish can I keep together in my Aquarium?

Having an aquarium in the home or workplace is a relaxing asset however it is vital you understand which fish will live well together to ensure the aquarium thrives. This can be an overwhelming decision when faced with the thousands of cold-water/tropical fish breeds to choose from. As a novice it can be easy to select fish which you like the appearance of however this is often a mistake. There are many aquarium fish which will happily live together, but equally there are many that will not tolerate one another. Here is our guide to selecting fish in your aquarium.

Why do aquarium fish need to get along? This may seem self-explanatory however it is important you understand the basics. As the aquarium owner, you have the power and responsibility to ensure the fish tank is functioning correctly from an equipment perspective (i.e. filter/filtration, heater/temperature etc.), but also from a fish interaction perspective. To put it bluntly, aquarium fish that don’t get along can become bully’s and in extreme circumstances which will add a great deal of stress to the aquarium environment. While this is generally species specific, you can on occasion be stuck with a boisterous fish which will bully members of the same species.

As with any animal there is always the potential for conflict which tends to result in a fight… The fish world is no different. There are several reasons why a fish may seek this outcome:

  • Resources – Fish can become obsessive with a number of things in the aquarium such as territory, food, plants and hiding places such as rocks. They will often chase off rivals when they see them as a potential competitor for the resource
  • Mates – Depending on the species of fish, you need to keep an eye on your sex ratios (i.e. male – female). Certain species such as Betta fish will often fight to win control of a female and the outcome is often injury or death.
  • Personalities – Certain fish species are shy while others are incredibly aggressive by nature. For this reason, it is important to research a species or speak to an expert prior to adding these to your aquarium.

To begin with, the easiest way of selecting fish is to choose fish which are not aggressive or territorial, and have similar environmental requirements… This rules out most predatory fish. In a cold-water aquarium, there is generally less selection and so this tends to be goldfish and fancy fantails none of which are notably aggressive.

In a tropical aquarium there is a much wider selection, and we generally refer to the peaceful fish as community fish. An overview of community fish which fall into this category are as follows:

  • Small Catfish i.e. Plecostomus
  • Corydoras
  • Danios
  • Small Gouramis
  • Guppies
  • Mollys
  • Swordtails
  • Platies
  • Loaches
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Tetras
  • Male Bettas (although we would advise restricting these to 1 per aquarium)
  • Rainbow fish
  • Minnows

Certain species of tropical fish are okay to keep in groups but as a rule of thumb they should be kept with groups of the same, or similar species, which are detailed below:

  • Barbs (i.e. Tiger Barbs, Golden Barbs, Cherry Barbs, Burmese Odessa Barbs)
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Sharks (i.e. Silver Tipped Sharks, Red Tailed Sharks)
  • Angelfish

A final note on this, an omnivorous fish (i.e. a fish which eats both meat and vegetation) which grows to a notable size will often consume other fish if they will fit in their mouth. A typical example of this is keeping black ghost knife fish with neon tetras. A young knife fish will often start out life in the aquarium as a great fit for a community tank, however the moment it can fit small fish in its mouth, it becomes a threat.

To conclude, please research fish extensively before adding them to your aquarium. If you’re at all unsure about anything then feel free to contact our team of in-house experts at Complete Koi & Aquatics:

Tel: 01204 582105
Email: info@completekoi.com
Address: Complete Koi & Aquatics, Unit 4, Tonge Bridge Way, Bolton, BL2 6BD

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