Aquariums are beautiful assets in any home. Watching how the fish swim around and hearing the sound of the water filter can have a relaxing and calming effect. You can literally stare at it for hours.
After you are done setting the tank up, filling it with water, accessories, and everything that is needed, you need to put in your little companions. There are so many breeds to choose from, one more attractive than the other.
While it is true that the more varied they are, the more beautiful the whole installation seems, you must be very careful what species you put together. In one of our recent articles, we mentioned just how important it is to do your research before beginning such a project.
Before we go any further, there is a significant observation to be made. There are thousands of freshwater breeds out there, and only some of them can live in a fish tank.
Still, there are enough to choose from. Even by selecting one from each species, you can end up overcrowding your aquarium. You should know that it is essential for each fish to have its own space.
Your fish may not be in their natural habitats like rivers or ponds, but they should not feel pressured either. After all, it is not a prison! An overcrowded tank does not even look good, so make sure you select only the recommended number for the size of your aquarium.
The common rule of thumb for fish capacity is between a half and an inch of full-grown fish per gallon of water. This number depends on fish breeds, filtration, and your tank management.
As previously mentioned, setting up a fish tank is an entire process. You do not just get the product, pour some water, and throw in the fish. No, there are more actions required and a lot of research to be made.
The location is important — you have to set the aquarium in an area without direct sunlight, or it will cause excess algae, and you have to place it where you can easily manage it for cleaning and changing the water. You also need to make sure that the tank is at an even level on the stand, or else it might crack. Then, you need to get the proper water filters and safe accessories.
Afterward, you have to get an answer to the real question here — how do you create the appropriate habitat for multiple fish types? The answer is quite simple; it is the practical part that is more difficult. Basically, species that thrive in similar water chemistry and similar temperatures get along well.
It is recommended to go either with warm or cold water fish. You need to select species that all thrive at around the same temperature. Only a difference of a few degrees can be accommodated, or your small companions will suffer. A cold water fish will not live comfortably alongside a tropical one.
You must also adjust your tank equipment according to the fish’s needs, as some require lights and heaters, and others do not. If your tank does not sustain the right temperature or the appropriate equipment, some of the inhabitants can easily become more susceptible to disease. They can also move slowly and even refuse to eat.
After we cleared things regarding temperature, the fish you select should have similar pH level requirements. Many types of fish you purchase directly from a store are adapted to a neutral pH, but they will always do better if the level is customized for them.
A tropical African cichlid, for example, thrives in alkaline water — most freshwater fish fancy levels between 6.5 and 7.5.
Moreover, you need to consider the pH requirements of any living plants you want to add to your aquarium. Many freshwater plants require pH levels in the range of 6.0 to 7.5, which is a reasonably wide range.
It is highly recommended to put together only fish with similar eating patterns. Some species will eat anything in sight, including other, smaller fish. There are those picky ones that will refuse to eat if dominated by others.
Some fish need a pinch of flakes, whereas others require a certain number of pellets. Make sure you know about the nutritional requirements of the fish you want to buy.
There is another aspect to consider in this discussion, and that is the algae needs. Plecos, for example, are friendly algae eaters until their food is unavailable, when they become more aggressive.
Fish that live together
Many freshwater tropical breeds can live together in the same tank with no issues. We can name a few that are referred to as peaceful — Catfish, Corys, Danios, Gouramis, Guppies, Loaches, Mollies, Platies, Plecos, Rasboras, Swordtails, or Tetras.
Within these species, some of them are better adapted to living in groups than others. If your eye is caught by a specific fish, before putting it together with the ones you already have, you need to do some research and find out with which species it is compatible, and how well it could live with others.
Another recommendation is to avoid having the same species female and male together in the same aquarium. They can breed easily, and you will soon have an overcrowded tank.
Another option you have is to keep fish schools of the same breed. Although some of them can live peacefully with other species, they would rather be in the company of their own kind, and they are happier and healthier if kept in schools.
Having a school of at least four or six of the same type of fish can add dynamic interest to your tank. If you decide to enlarge the number of a school, it is recommended to reduce the overall schools in order to prevent overcrowding.
In case you encounter issues setting a peaceful community, you can keep a single-breed tank with a large and energetic school in mind.