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How to decide which fish to buy for your aquarium

Updated on February 2, 2013

Red Aqaurium Fish | Source

Things you may need to know about aquarium fishes

I will not give or recommend you a particular type of fish to buy, that is your personal choice according to your taste. In this article I will give you some valuable tips and advice before you decide on which one to buy and breed, so good luck.

First of all, the beauty of different aquarium fishes is mainly in the eye of the beholder. Some fish lovers might be eager to own a community tank of tetra fishes, and others may be keen on owning a tank full of fancy goldfish, or perhaps a tank with Asian gouramis and loaches, for example. Or maybe if you intend to visit a pet shop or an aquarium shop, you may see a small typical goldfish in a tank and you desperately want it, despite the fact that it looks uninteresting and boring to your friends and family. Basically, it's all down to ones taste, but there are advantages and disadvantages for each individual fish, and more research and knowledge needs to be acquired.

Provided that the aim of your admiration towards fish increases to a size you can afford and accommodate, then if you really want it that bad, you will almost be likely to buy it from the store. However, and bear in mind, to make certain that your joy at your new purchase of fish does not result in tears at the end, and finding it dead the next day, always read everything you can about the fish before giving it a new home. To make this sound easier to understand, for instance, some fish are known to be aggressive carnivores that require an aquarium on their own and chopping up pieces of meat in the tank for many hours, and it's not a good idea to mix other weak and naïve fish with these predators.

You can believe the worst of what you read or hear, for instance if a fish is a 1 meter long carnivore, there is no chance that your fish will turn out to be a 15cm pussycat. This long predator will eat all the other fish in the tank, and it will either cost you a lot of money rehousing it or it will die because of space shortage. Out of the 10,000 or so fishes that have been seen at one time or another in breeders' tanks, there are plenty that will fit into a community aquarium happily and peacefully. If you opt to build a community around your favorite fish, it's best to obtain information about it and then choose tank-mates of a similar size, temperament and preferences, but there is no point in surrounding your beloved guppies with a group of mischievous fin-nipping goons.

Although there are a couple of species which are exclusively herbivores, most fish will see and eat practically anything that fits into their mouths as food. Small fish such as the Neon tetras can easily end up as an appetizer for a larger tank mate, and new fry will be devoured without hesitation, especially by their own parents.

As mentioned earlier, always do research about fish before buying them. The picture below is of a piranha fish. This fish would cause a catastrophe in a community aquarium tank, so beware.

The Pestering Piranha | Source

The quantity of fish in a tank and its capacity

The amount of oxygen that be be dissolved in water varies with the temperature. More fish can be kept in a tropical, heated aquarium than in an unheated temperate aquarium. Since oxygen is absorbed into the water from the surface, the calculation to calculate how many fish you can keep is based on the surface area, and not specifically the size of the tank itself. A tall tank with only a small surface area will accommodate fewer fish than one of the same capacity that low, long and wide. It is important to consider that as well.

So to figure out the surface area of a rectangular tank, for instance, you can multiply the length and width to give you the total area. To calculate the number of centimeters of fish you can keep in a tropical aquarium, divide it by 30, or by 60 to give you the number of centimeters of fish to keep in a temperate aquarium. Here is a typical example - 90cm long X 30 cm wide equals 2700 square centimeters surface area. Then 2700sq cm divided by 30 equals 90cm of tropical fish. Or 2700sq cm divided by 60 equals 45cm of temperate fish.

The temperate golden minnow fish for example, can reach 10cm, so you could keep four fish in this temperate aquarium, along with 5cm of another smaller fish of different type. To work out the number of inches of fish you can keep, divide the surface area, in square inches, by 12 for tropical fish, and 24 for temperate fish. This typical calculation provides you with some decent guidelines. However, if you are thinking of keeping bigger fish, then more space needs to be acquired. Although a fancy goldfish, at 20cm for instance, is only twice as long as a golden minnow, it takes only a short glance to notice that its body mass is many times greater. The fancy goldfish will excrete far more than two golden minnows, and will require more oxygen in the tank. For bigger fish, at least 36 inches of surface area per inch of fish is required, and the tank described above will really only suit one fully matured goldfish.

This fish below is a redtail catfish is a long-whiskered catfish and is also know as cute kittens. These redtails can grow very fast up to a meter long and maybe more in an aquarium.

Long-whiskered Redtail Catfish | Source


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