Posted on Apr 23, 2012 in Animals & pets
I think fish are pretty cool, but I’ve never had my own aquarium before. What are some good fish for a beginner like me?
Fish are pretty, they’re relaxing and interesting to watch, and they don’t poop on the living room rug. They are, however, slightly more difficult to choose for most beginners, simply because fish have a whole different set of requirements from a cat or a dog. As a result, some fish are more suited for a beginner — some are more “hardy” than others, some are less picky about their water than others, some get along better with other fish than others, and so on — and some are terrible ideas for beginners.
Let’s take a look at some recommended “starter” fish for the beginning aquarium aficionado.
Goldfish: There’s some debate over whether the goldfish is a good choice or not. On the one hand, they prefer room temperature water, are generally a pretty hardy fish, and are inexpensive. On the downside, they need a large tank (they can grow to over 18″), they produce a lot of waste and need a good filtration system, and the “fancy” ones like the bubble-eyes and so on are more prone to disease and injury. The verdict: stick to “common” goldfish, avoid “feeder” or “fancy” ones and you should be okay.
>> How can I keep my carnival goldfish alive?
Platy: Native to Central America, the platy is a livebearer — they give birth to live young, not hatched from eggs — that comes in a wide variety of colors and variations. They’re tolerant of pretty much any water acidity/alkalinity except for extremes, they do okay with poor water conditions (though you really should keep the water maintained anyway), they don’t need a big tank, they’re mellow towards other fish, and they’re pretty active. They also make a great fish for teaching kids about the facts of life — just put a male and a female together and wait a bit.
Corydoras catfish: Commonly called just “corys,” these are peaceful little guys that actually do some work for you — they like to scavenge through the gravel at the bottom of the tank, helping it stay clean. Corys are at their most interesting, playful and happy in a group, so definitely pick up 4 to 6 of them. They’re tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, though they do prefer a more sandy gravel, as it keeps their whisker-like barbles from being injured. They hate salt, so avoid using it as a medication in a tank with corys.
Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish: These bright little guys have an iridescent blue body with red or yellow fins, and are native to Australia, New Guinea, and Madagascar. Growing to about two inches in length, they don’t need a lot of room — but they are a social fish, so you should get at least 5 to 6 of them. They prefer warm water (75-82 F) and alkaline water (6.5-6.9 pH), but they’re pretty tolerant of most water as long as it’s warm and not acidic. Like any fish, keeping the water fresh with regular changes will make your fishies happy.
GloFish: The GloFish (which is, in fact, a trademarked brand) are a fluorescent fish available in many different colors, and were originally bred to detect environmental pollutants. Originally bred from a Zebra Danio with a fluorescent protein gene from a sea anemone spliced in, these guys have all the characteristics of the danio zebrafish — just with an added burst of color. They’re fast moving and active, forgiving of poor water quality and varied water chemistry, eat just about any fish food, and are just generally hard to kill. As a bonus, they’re brilliantly colored.
Of course, there are many more fish out there that are a good choice for the beginner and it would be hard to cover them all here. It never hurts to find a good specialty pet store in your area with staff that are knowledgeable about fish, and talk over with them your concerns and ideas you may have. Good luck, and have fun with your underwater pals!
Catfish photo by Noel.Goodwin
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