If you are thinking about putting together a freshwater aquarium of community fish, you have some great fish to choose from. A community aquarium is one that contains more than one species of fish. Many times, the variety of fish do not occur together in nature, but you can find fish of compatible temperament and water requirements that can co-exist well. This helps to develop an aquarium full of color and interest.

The first rule of putting together any aquarium is knowing the size of your aquarium. That will limit the type and number of freshwater fish you can have. That being said, here is a brief guide that will help you create an aquarium of freshwater community fish that are happy and healthy:

  1. Look at livebearers (such as Guppies, Mollies, Platies, Moons, and Swordtails), Barbs, Tetras, Rasboras, Danios, and Rainbowfish – most of these fish are peaceful. Once you choose the specific type you like, do research to make sure it isn’t aggressive.

    Of these fish, avoid the ones can be classified as “fin nippers,” such as Tiger Barbs and Serpae Tetras.

  2. Consider Angelfish, Gouramis, and Corydoras catfish. Angelfish and Gouramis swim in the middle to upper range of your aquarium, which Corycats primarily stay on the bottom.

    If you plan to have many smaller fish, Angelfish many not be the best choice. They are predatory and will eat small fish such as Neon Tetras and livebearer fry. If you don’t plan on having livebearers or Neon Tetras, Angelfish are fine.

  3. If you choose schooling fish, you will want to keep 6 or more of each species. This will keep them calm and happy, as they are meant to be in larger groups.

Here are fish you do NOT want to include in your community aquarium:

  1. Territorial or aggressive fish that don’t “play” nice. This includes African Cichlids and South American Cichlids. If you fall in love with Cichlids and have a tank size that can support them, you are looking at a Cichlid-only aquarium with no other types of fish.

    Other aggressive fish include Tiger Barbs, some Gouramis, Sharks, and Eels.

  2. Red-Tailed Black Sharks should not be placed with others of their species, as they will become territorial.
  3. Predatory fish, like Snakeheads and Bucktooth Tetras, should not be put in community aquariums.
  4. Bettas. While Bettas are beautiful, schooling fish will nip at a Betta’s fins. When that happens, Bettas can become aggressive towards other fish.
  5. Really small fish and fish that have big mouths. If a fish can fit into another fish’s mouth, chances are the smaller fish will get eaten.
  6. Slow or specialized eaters that cannot compete with other fish. Slow or specialized fish mixed in with fish that aren’t picky about food can slowly starve to death if they are not kept with other slow eaters.
  7. Fish that are fragile or get nervous around active swimmers. Some examples include Discus and Threadfin Rainbowfish.
  8. Large, active fish that will quickly outgrow the aquarium, such as Tinfoil Barbs, larger Catfish, and Iridescent Sharks.

Hopefully, this guide will help give you an idea of fish you can and cannot successfully keep together. If you have any doubt, keep researching. It is better to gather as much information as possible before putting together your community aquarium. Good luck!

View more articles written by Kristen Sydelko.

About The Author Kristen Sydelko

Kristen is the Web Coordinator at PetSolutions. She has over 5 years of experience working in the pet care industry, with many more years of pet ownership experience! When not at PetSolutions, Kristen enjoys spending time with her family (which includes an extremely spoiled Lab mix), crafting, and trying to decide when to set her fish tank back up.

comments (2)

  • gentlemen i have ordered your fish catalog 3 times over the last 4 months and have never received one.I am very disappointed with your website and your company in general and would never recommend anyone buy from you henry cover

  • Hi Henry

    I apologize that you have not yet received a fish catalog. I have informed our Customer Service Representatives to make sure that you are on the mailing list.

    If you can send me an email at ksydelko@petsolutions.com, please verify your address to make sure the one we have on file for you is correct. When we get a verified address, we will send a catalog today.

    I will also send you an email with this information.

    Thank you for your patience!

    Thanks –
    Kristen

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