So you’ve decided to add new fish to your home aquarium. Congratulations! An exciting and interesting selection process awaits you. What will the new inhabitants be like? Will they make friends with the rest of your pets and will they delight you with their health and activity?
In pet stores you can find many unusual and vibrant species, but how to understand which of them can comfortably coexist in the same aquarium, and which will not be happy with new neighbors?
Today we’re going to talk about the questions every hobbyist should ask himself (or the pet shop clerk) before making a choice.
To what size can a fish grow?
If you see an adorable little fish in the store, take your time with your purchase. As a rule, fry is on sale, which after a few months can grow to a size much larger than the capacity of your aquarium.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, fish do not adjust their body size to the size of the aquarium. Some of them in captivity may indeed be smaller than their wild counterparts, but this deviation is observed even in individuals placed in spacious vessels.
Large species include many catfish, as well as cichlids, barbs, and carps. Do not forget that large predatory or omnivorous fish can perceive their smaller neighbors as food – this is a common problem, for example, when keeping carps.
We do not recommend completely trusting the opinion of the seller in the pet store – in order not to be mistaken with the size of the fish, use several independent sources that will tell you what size of artificial reservoir your pet needs.
What is the temperament of this species?
The nature of the fish affects both the selection of an aquarium for it, and compatibility with other species.
Active and active fish (such as thorns and tetras) require more space than calm species of similar size. In addition, they can be aggressive towards congeners. If you settle in the same aquarium a quarrelsome labeo or tetraodon with calm and non-conflict platies or cardinals, the latter is very likely to become victims of persecution and do not receive enough food, they will be in a state of constant stress.
Is she ready to defend her territory?
Not all aggressive fish are territorial, and not all territorial ones are aggressive (although there are species that combine these two qualities). Most are completely calm and even phlegmatic if the neighbors in the aquarium do not approach them and do not try to occupy their territory.
Such species require careful planning of the composition of the aquarium with the allocation of their own zone for individuals who need it. With a competent approach, they do not create problems for the owner.
Tip: Make a list of the species of fish already in your tank, this will make it much easier to explain to the pet shop clerk what you need and also track compatibility with other species.
If you don’t remember the exact name, take a photo of all the inhabitants.
Are these fish gregarious or solitary?
Before buying a fish, you should think not only about its compatibility with other species but also about relationships with relatives. So, solitary fish, uniting only during the spawning period, can compete with each other the rest of the time. And schooling fish, on the contrary, become aggressive and nervous without the company of their own kind.
Classic examples of schooling fish are rasbora, cardinals, and zebrafish. It is better to settle these species in flocks of 5-7 individuals. And your home aquarium should, of course, be suitable for the entire flock.
But two-color labels, calmly getting along with other species, react negatively to the appearance of relatives.
It is equally important to maintain the ratio of males to females in species such as guppies or swordtails – there should be at least two females per male.
Be sure to check the optimal number of individuals for a given species – it can be very different. In small flocks, the leaders often bully the weaker ones and react more strongly to changing conditions and the appearance of new neighbors.
What conditions are the fish used to?
The health of the inhabitants of the aquarium directly depends on how suitable the conditions of detention are: temperature, hardness, and acidity, as well as filtration, aeration, light level, and frequency of water changes.
Even species that are considered unpretentious have their own characteristics and requirements. For example, pink zebrafish feels good in almost any room temperature water but does not like its abrupt change. But the shark reel, which also easily adapts to different water parameters, needs the highest quality filtration and aeration, like many river fish accustomed to clean running water.
It is impossible to create different conditions for different species within the same container, so try to choose pets with similar preferences.
What layer of water does the species occupy?
Almost all types of aquarium fish are divided into bottom, surface, and middle. Therefore, when choosing a new pet, it is important to think over whether there will be enough free space in a layer of water convenient for him and whether he will compete with other individuals there, interfering with them?
Almost all catfish are benthic fish since this is where their food supply is located. But zebrafish and cockerels live close to the surface.
In addition, the aquarium looks most impressive, all layers of which are filled evenly – without overpopulation or, on the contrary, voids. If you do not want to combine several species living in different layers, opt for a shallow container.
What is the best way to equip an aquarium for a fish?
It is easy to pick up plants, soil and decor if you only need to please one fish, but when it comes to finding a new tenant in an existing aquarium, the task becomes more difficult.
In terms of the design and equipment of the aquarium, different types of fish may have completely different preferences. For example, a flock of sharks will actively swim to the ball, and lush thickets of aquatic plants will only interfere. But mollies, on the contrary, need shelter. The thorns feel comfortable only when they receive both.
Many fish (such as swordtails) have an unpleasant habit of jumping out of the aquarium and can die without water, so they can only be kept in containers with a lid. But bright and spectacular cockerels breathe air near the surface of the water and must have access to it.
Another question concerns the fraction and composition of the soil. Some fish in search of food can rummage in it, digging up plant roots (this is often done by veil-tails), so the bottom must be protected with large stones.
Ground with sharp edges is also dangerous for bottom fish. These types include catfish-corridors, which, with the right soil, will help the owner keep the aquarium clean. Other catfish, sticky, clean the walls, but for proper digestion, they definitely need cellulose, which can be obtained by eating driftwood.
What does fish eat?
The diet for your pet must be made taking into account its preferences and characteristics of the species, as well as taking into account the method of obtaining food. Someone collects food particles from the surface, and someone looks for them at the bottom – therefore, it is important that each of the inhabitants gets the prescribed portion.
Fish that prefer to feed near the surface of the water are best served with flakes or chips such as TetraMin or TetraPro. Bottom fish need food in the form of tablets, which immediately drown.
To ensure that everyone in your aquarium receives the most suitable food for them, we recommend using dry food containing particles of different fractions and settling to the bottom at different rates. For example, such as Tetra Selection.
When choosing food, you can focus on the species. For the most popular groups of fish, food lines have been created that satisfy all their nutritional needs. Examples include foods such as Tetra Cichlid and Tetra Pleco.
Many ornamental fish are brightly colored with reds, yellows, and oranges. To enhance and maintain their color, it is necessary to introduce feed with natural carotenoids into the diet. You can opt for Tetra Rubin or TetraPro Color.
It’s also important to consider the size of the pets. For small fish, special lines of micro food are created, for example, Tetra Micro Food. For larger pets, size XL pellets, sticks, and flakes are more suitable.
For many fish species, the presence of a plant component in the diet is necessary. It is important to include foods high in spirulina algae such as Tetra Phyll or TetraPro Algae in their diet.
It is advisable to make the fish nutrition as varied as possible, therefore, in addition to the main food, they can be treated with natural delicacies – food organisms (bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc.) in a nutritious jelly from the Tetra FreshDelica series.
Another important nuance is that the fish should not perceive other inhabitants of the aquarium (or ornamental plants planted in it) as food. That is why experienced aquarists never house large predators with small and peaceful species together.
Is the fish healthy?
Buying sick fish can be dangerous to your home aquarium. Before purchasing it, you need to carefully examine it. Healthy fish have shiny scales, a slightly rounded abdomen, and whole fins. The purchase should be abandoned if we see:
- White spots on the body, ulcers, gray or whitish coating, mucus
- Damaged fins
- Heavy breathing, fish swims near the surface without sinking into the water column
- Parasites on the body (carp louse, lernea)
- Tousled scales, swollen abdomen, bulging eyes
- The presence of the above signs in other fish in this aquarium
How long has the fish been in the store?
This question will not be answered by anyone except the seller – and, nevertheless, it must be voiced before buying.
The path that aquarium fish take from a breeding site to a pet store in your city can be long and very difficult. On the way, they experience tremendous stress – it is not worth prolonging it by buying newly brought individuals and changing their conditions of detention even before they get used to the previous ones.
In individuals bred on farms, in spacious natural reservoirs, the stress during the transportation is even more pronounced, because they find themselves in completely unusual conditions for themselves. Be sure to find out about the origin of your future pet and do not forget about the adaptation period (and, if possible, quarantine the newly arrived fish).
Immediately after the purchase, the fish are much more vulnerable to disease and react more sharply to any other stresses: abrupt switching on and off the backlight, changing temperatures, changing water, and even cleaning. Try not to use these measures in the first days after purchase.
Another tip – about 10 minutes after the newcomer settles in, feed the fish: feeding will distract them, and the likelihood of conflicts with a new neighbor will become much lower.
We hope you find these tips useful and help you make the right choice!