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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know something rather similar has been posted before but I thought I'd post this anyway. It just hopefully makes an easy(ish) lol read for a beginner to give them an idea of fish suitable for their tanks. Please feel free to tell me if anything is incorrect or you think I should add something. :D


What fish to buy and how to choose them for a beginner

So, you’ve bought your very first fish tank, brought it home, and are now wondering what fish to put in it? Well, firstly you need to decide if you’re going for a tropical tank, a brackish tank, a saltwater tank, or a coldwater tank. Marine (saltwater) tanks are more expensive and can be more difficult to keep.
If you have chosen to go for a tropical community tank, read further to find out what fish could be suitable for your tank!

Firstly, before even considering stocking your tank, you must complete the Ammonia Cycle. You can do this with fish, or without. For a beginner, a fishless cycle is usually the better option, as you do not have to be concerned by fish dying.

Right, you’ve completed your Cycle, and are ready to buy fish.

A very helpful thing to do would be to buy test kits (the liquid ones are often more accurate) for pH, and hardness of the water. The lower the pH, the more acid the water is, and the higher the pH, the more alkaline it is. Quite simple. A pH of 7.0 is the neutral mark; anything above it is alkaline, below is acidic. Most fish can become accustomed to slightly different water parameters to that which they prefer. It is certainly best to be aware of your pH and hardness, to reduce the likelihood of deaths or some diseases relating to the water parameters of your tank.

You also need to calculate the volume of your tank (width x height x length), so you understand which fish are happy with the size of your tank. It is a common myth that a smaller tank is easier to maintain and look after, but in fact, toxins and other harmful elements are diluted in larger bodies of water, making your fish less likely to become ill. Basically, buy the biggest tank you can afford. As well as being easier to maintain, you can obviously buy more fish, which is something every fishkeeper likes doing! You should not buy a tank smaller than 25 litres, as that severely restricts the variety, and number of fish you can keep in it.
As a general guide, a tank between 25 and 100 litres is considered small, 100 litres to 200 litres is normally classed as medium, and a tank with a capacity of 200 to 300 litres is considered big. You can buy far bigger tanks than that for species and community tanks, but most beginners start off with something in the region of 100 litres. It is entirely personal opinion, and more importantly, how much money you have, that dictates the size of tank you can buy.

Please be aware that some of these fish are not suitable for completely new tanks. Some of them like to be in more mature, and stable tanks.

Here are some lists of fish suitable to different tank sizes and water statistics.

25 to 45 litre tanks:
heterandria formosa
pygmy corys
sparkling gourami (1 single or 1 male+harem)
peacock gobies (1 single or 1 male+harem)
group of 5-6 male guppies
single betta
African dwarf frog
Neon Tetras
Dwarf Pencilfish

45 to 100 Litre Tanks
(Please note, all the fish in the previous section are also suitable for this size of tank)

Cardinal Tetras
Glowlight Tetras
Lemon Tetras
Bleeding Heart Tetras
Rummy Nosed Tetras
Black Neon Tetras
Red Phantom Tetras
Black Phantom Tetras
Emperor Tetras
Pearl Danios
Harlequín Rasboras
Pentazona Barbs
Blind Cave Fish
Blue Ram
Gold Ram
Bolivian Ram
Honey Gourami
Dwarf Gourami
Congo Tetra
Black Molly
Dalmation Molly
Peppered Corydora
Albino Corydora
Panda Corydora
Bronze Corydora
Other Dwarf Corydoras
Golden Barb
Cherry Barb
Diamond Tetra
Silver tip Tetras
Kuhli Loaches

100 to 150 litres

Sailfin Mollies
Pakistani Loaches
Zebra Loach
Bristlenose Catfish
Pearl Gourami
Three Spot Gourami
Tiger Barbs
Albino Tiger Barbs
Rosy Barbs
Zebra Danios
Ruby-headed Barb
Marbled Hatchetfish
Silver Hatchetfish
Flag Cichlid
Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid
Angelfish (150 litres minimum)

Note: There are thousands of different fish, these are merely a small fraction of the total number of fish. Never buy a fish using the information solely from here. Find out more information about the needs and requirements of the fish you like, and ensure you can meet them BEFORE buying the fish.

Many other factors also come into what fish to buy, such as compatibility with the other fish in your tank, sensitivity to water quality and ensuring you are not overstocking the tank.
If you have seen a fish you like, to guarantee it is suitable for your tank, follow these steps:
1) Check the hardness and pH preferences of the fish, and make sure it is similar to the parameters of your water
2) Make sure it does not grow too big for your tank, by checking the adult size of the fish
3) Find out if your fish is compatible with the other fish in your tank
4) Especially if you are a beginner to fishkeeping, make sure the fish is hardy and not too sensitive to water quality.
5) Do research into finding out if your fish prefers company, and likes to be in a shoal, or is more of a solitary fish. Most fish like the company of at least one more of their species, but some do not. Tetras are a good example of shoaling fish; you should always keep them in shoal of 6 or more. The more, the better.
6) Find out what the fish eats. If they are carnivorous ordinary flake food shall not be substantial, or indeed suitable, for them. It is best to feed your fish a varied diet anyway. Every week give them small amounts of live 9and frozen) bloodworms, brineshrimp and daphnia. Also, be aware that some fish will eat, or uproot, your plants in a matter of days.

A good book is always recommended, as it is almost guaranteed to have accurate, detailed information about a variety of fish and their needs.

Ultimately, fishkeeping is a hobby, and the most important thing is to enjoy it. And, if you do everything correctly, you will. A beautiful, colourful tank will catch anyone’s eye, and drop many a jaw in awe.
There is one last warning though: If you could not live without TV, I do not recommend buying a tank, as you will definitely be watching your tank more than television, in many cases, you never use the TV remote ever again!

Thanks for reading. :)

698 Posts
As for the conversion, 3.8L = 1G.

Also, are you sure on the Rams? I've heard from a number of sources that Rams can be pretty touchy and should wait until after full cycling and establishing the tank.

2,889 Posts
yes thats what i meant. 3.8l = 1g, unless you live in britain in which case 4.5l = 1g

i should have typed a full sentence, would have been clearer that way

236 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone. I put it into litres because there are both UK and US Gallons so it could get confusing which I am talking about. I'll write in US Gallons and UK gallons too though.
Did I write Rams are suitable fish for cycling? Well I know that's not truw so I'll change it. ;)

236 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh I forgot you're not allowed to edit your post after 30 minutes. :roll:
Sorry, I can't change it.

13,248 Posts
Kathryn said:
Oh I forgot you're not allowed to edit your post after 30 minutes. :roll:
Sorry, I can't change it.
Which ones were you going to add, Kathryn?:) And where should that be place in your first post? I'll add it for you.:)

I don't see anywhere in your first post stating that blue rams are suitable for cycling.:? You were only recommending various species for each size of tank available.:)

Very excellent article in my opinion.:)

236 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was going to put in the US and UK Gallonage for all the litre statistics afterwards in parentheses (brackets ;) ).
I'll work it out and post all the numbers (eg 300 litres is x UK Gallons and X US Gallons) .
Thanks for offering to edit it.
I'll be back with the numbers in an hour or so. :)

Oh, and thanks for the comment. :D

2,510 Posts
This article is fairly well written. However, I have found it is better to have an idea of what fish you will be purchasing before you set up your tank. By doing this, you will be able to better accomodate the inhabintants with water conditions, biotope(plants and such), and surroundings much more to the liking of your new piscivoric friends.

236 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you.
Yes, some peple prefer to plan their tank out before they begin, but a lot of people, especially beginners new to fiahkeeping, set up theit tank then wonder what fish to buy. It's more personal opinion is it not? :D I ujnderstand what you're saying though.
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