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Advanced Level Freshwater Fish

Updated on September 3, 2018

Keeping aquariums is a wonderful hobby. If you have been fishkeeping for several years, you may feel that you are ready to move on to some more advanced fish. These unique fish can really make your aquarium special and rewarding. However, rare fish require some specialized care, and they may need a lot of expensive upkeep. However, if you are knowledgeable about the hobby and are willing to put in the time, you can successfully bring one of these beautiful species into your home.

Remember - always do your research before bringing home new fish! Live animals should not be a whim purchase, and you should always ensure you are prepared for their arrival.

Tire Track Eel
Tire Track Eel | Source

Freshwater Eels

Eels can be hardy, but they require a very specialized environment in order to thrive. Eels require a soft substrate like sand, as they like to dig down and bury themselves. This means they may also uproot decor and plants, so these items also need to be soft in order to avoid injury. Eels also like to have a place to hide, such as a large cave. They need a large aquarium in order to feel comfortable. They are carnivorous and cannot be kept with small fish that fit in their mouths. They can be picky eaters, so be sure you are comfortable with hand-feeding before considering eels.

Blue Turquoise Discus
Blue Turquoise Discus | Source


Discus are big, gorgeous fish that come in a variety of different colors. However, they are very delicate and they need very specific water parameters in order to thrive. This includes a lower pH then most fish. Because many homes have very hard water, it can be difficult to keep a stable low/medium pH level for the fish. Discus also need very warm water and need to eat a carnivorous diet. They are not hardy and can be easily effected by any small fluctuations in their water. Before you move into discus, be sure to do your research and prepare a suitable habitat.

Amazon Puffer
Amazon Puffer | Source

Freshwater Puffers

Freshwater pufferfish are a popular choice because of their cute looks and unique personalities. However, they require specialized care. Many freshwater puffers thrive in brackish water, meaning they need some marine salt in their environment. Puffers can be aggressive to each other, so many people have one by themselves. The hardest part about keeping puffers is caring for their teeth. Their teeth will grow and may need to be trimmed or clipped if they are not fed enough hard foods. This involves sedating the fish and using tiny clippers to trim the teeth - a nerve-wracking task best left to professional aquarists. If you aren't comfortable with this task, it is not recommended to keep puffers.

Marbled Hatchet
Marbled Hatchet | Source


Hatchets are unique looking fish that come in stunning shades of silver and black. They have a pot-belly look and prefer to live in schools of six or more. They are fairly small fish and can be kept in a moderately sized aquarium. However, they require precise water quality. These South America fish prefer soft water with a low pH, which is different then most household tap water. Without excellent, stable water parameters, these fish will not survive. These fish are also excellent jumpers, and they will escape an aquarium without a tightly fitting lid.

Ocellate River Stingray
Ocellate River Stingray | Source

Freshwater Stingrays

Freshwater stingrays should be kept by only the most experienced aquarists. They will need a huge aquarium with lots of swimming space - an aquarium of 250 gallons or more is not uncommon for these fish. This means having not only a giant aquarium, but also a reinforced floor and proper home setup. They do better in rounded style aquariums. Stingrays are quiet and passive, and cannot be kept with any aggressive or semi-aggressive fish. They also cannot be kept with very small fish, as stingrays are carnivores and may eat them. Sharp decorations and substrate must be avoided as these items can damage the stingrays delicate skin. Finally, some freshwater stingrays are venomous. They must be handled with extreme caution to avoid injury. All of these things make stingrays very difficult to own, and only the most experienced aquarists should attempt to create a habitat for them.

Arowana | Source


Arowanas are beautiful fish that come in a variety of colors like gold, black, red, and silver. They spend a lot of time near the surface and are skilled jumpers - anyone wishing to keep this fish needs to have a secure lid for the aquarium. Their weight can cause a flimsy, unsecured lid to come off the aquarium, damaging the tank and the fish. Arowana fish will get huge - some varieties get up to 48 inches - and need to have a very large aquarium with hundreds of gallons of swimming space. Arowanas are carnivores and can be picky eaters. They prefer live food and will eat any small fish they can fit into their mouths. Some can be trained to eat pellets, but this cannot be expected.

Which is your favorite advanced care freshwater fish?

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© 2014 Nora B


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