In our previous article, we suggested the danio, platy and ram as suitable fishes for beginners. However, there are so many more options from the rivers and lakes of the world that new aquarium owners can consider, including tetras, loaches and more.
If you are a beginner fishkeeper, you can consider the following fishes from the following species – tetras, goldfish, angelfish and more below. These are specially selected based on their temperaments and suitability as tankmates with most other fishes, ideal environmental parameters close to Singapore waters and maintenance level such as required tank space and care level.
While choosing fish, here are some basic things you need to keep in mind-
- Your personal preference
- Your budget
- Available tank space
- How much time you can invest to take care of fish
- Availability of the fish in your local area
There are a few species within this family of fishes – red eye, sarpae, black skirt, bloodfin, neon, black neon, lemon and glowlight tetras, that are good for the beginner hobbyist. They all belong to the charachins family and mostly originate from the Amazon. They have varying care requirements. They are also graceful, beautiful and have interesting personalities to watch. Most of them like soft waters, with pH range from 6.8 to 7.8; the water temperature should be between 21 to 27 degree celsius; and the water hardness should be 3 to 8 dgh. They are not picky eaters and can be fed both live, frozen or dry foods, with a rotation of their diets every once in a while to keep them healthy. They can be kept with a variety of community fishes such as other tetra species, peaceful barbs, rasbora, small danio, livebearers and appropriately sized rainbowfish. Their price ranges from $0.6 to $3, depending on species, and they require a tank space of 48L-76Ls, depending on shoal size. They are schooling fish so they should be kept in a small school of 6-8 specimens each, to live comfortably. When well taken care of, they can live up to 10 years in the domestic aquarium. The advantage of starting with this fish is the wide variety of species available to adopt, cheap cost, long lifespan, beautiful appearance. The drawback is its vulnerability to diseases.
Next, we have this mini explorer that loves to sift through the substrate of your aquarium. They belong to the cobitidae family of fishes and also known as the owls of the aquatic world, as they will be awake all night scavenging around the tank looking for food. They originate from the Indonesian and Malaysian peninsular, and are rather shy during daytime. They can be purchased at an average of $3 within the Singapore aquarium market, and are commonly labelled as Coolie loach, Leopard loach or Cinnamon Loach. They can be rather fragile and caution has to be exercised by hobbyists when taking care of them, as their heads are scaleless, and they are very sensitive toward medications. They are also rather prone to diseases. They are comfortable in a pH range of 5.5-6.5 and need water temperatures of 23 to 30 degree celsius, as well as water hardness of 0-5 dgh. They like dried foods as well as grindal worms, daphnia, artemia, microworms. They can be kept with fishes like cories, danios, tetras, rasboras, white cloud mountain minnows, oto catfish, cherry shrimp as tankmates. They need a minimum of 76L to feel comfortable and should be kept in small groups to avoid stressing them out. When cared for properly, they can live up to 14 years in the domestic aquarium environment. The advantage of starting with this little explorer is its long lifespan, interesting personality and also its commonness within the aquarium market. The drawback is: its fragility and vulnerability to diseases, as well as its sensitiveness toward water conditions.
These fast-moving shoalers have many different varieties among them, but we will be focusing on the species most suitable for beginner hobbyists. Barbs are boisterous little fishes that originate from the continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, and can be known to be fin nippers. They belong to the cyprinidae family. They can also be interesting to watch within the domestic aquarium environment. The recommended varieties are the denison barb, cherry barb, gold barb, checkerboard barb and the five banded barb. The denison barb is a commonly spotted fish within the local aquarium market, and retails for a price of $6-$15. They are commonly known and labelled with the names of Bleeding Eye Barb, Denison’s Flying Fox, Red Comet Barb, Red Line Barb, Red Lined Torpedo Fish, Roseline Shark, Torpedo Barb. They are known to be fairly hardy and can survive in ph levels of between 6.8-7.8, as for water temperature, they can tolerate ranges of 15-25 degree celsius, as for water hardness wise, they prefer levels of 5-25dgh. They are not picky in diet, and can accept both dried and live food. They are a shoaling fish so they should be kept in schools of 4-5 specimens to feel comfortable and need a minimum of 208L to feel comfortable within the home aquarium. Tankmates wise, hobbyists can keep them with fish like danios, larger tetras, cichlids, other barbs and rainbowfish. When cared for properly, they can live up to 6 years in a domestic aquarium. For more information on other barb varieties, refer to our upcoming article on barbs. The advantage to starting with this fish is its hardiness, cheap cost to adopt and also its interesting personality, the drawback is its unsuitability to keep within an established community tank, due to its feisty personality.
These fishes can be graceful or clumsy, depending how you view it but they are definitely cute which gives them the moniker of “water piggies”. They originate from the cold regions of China and can be found in many different varieties such as wakin, ryukin, hoe kim, ranchu, bubble eye, fantail, dragon eye, telescope eye, butterfly etc.They are known to be retailed across a range of prices, depending on the grade and quality of the goldfish and can be priced from $3- $250 within the local market. They can live in pH levels of 7-8.4 and within the range of 20 to 23 degree celsius. They prefer the range of 4-8dgh for water hardness. They are not picky about food and can accept both live and dried food. They prefer to live in groups and need a minimum of 76L to live comfortably and can live up to 10-15 years when cared for properly. Goldfish are best kept with other goldfishes only. The advantage to starting with this fish is its beauty and its commonness to discover within the aquatic market. Its drawback is its vulnerability to diseases and tendency to produce loads of waste that dirties the aquarium easily. Hence, a stronger filtration system is required.
Next, we have this graceful fella from the cichlidae family, they originate from the Amazon river in Brazil. They can be found in many different varieties and colours, such as koi, brazilian seal point, black, platinum, marbled, zebra, blue, red devil and leopard form etc. Their retail price can be anywhere from $3- $28 depending on grades. They can live in waters with pH levels ranging from 6.8-7.8, and water temperatures of 26-29 degree celsius, and water hardness levels of 3-8 dgh. They are not picky in their diet and can accept both live and dried food. They should be kept either singly or in groups of odd numbers to prevent fighting. They should be given tall aquariums with a minimum of 208Ls to live comfortably, and can live up to 10 years when cared for properly. The advantage to starting with this fish is its beauty, variety of forms and colours, and also its commoness to discover within the local aquatic market. The drawback to starting with this fish is its large requirement of tank space, and its aggressiveness toward other fishes.
This cute little fella and digger comes from mainly the continent of South America, and belongs to the callichthyidae family. Many varieties can be found such as the leopard cory, sterbai cory, goldline cory, venezuela cory just to name a few. They can be retailed across a range of prices, from as cheap as $2-$150 for the rare varieties. They can live in ph ranges of 6-7.2, as for water temperature, they can live from 23- 27 degree celsius and for water hardness wise, they can tolerate between 5-10dgh. They love to scavenge along the substrate for food, and will accept sinking pellets, catfish wafers or live or frozen food choices and are not picky eaters. They should live in small groups of minimally 6 individuals and need a minimum of 76L to live comfortably. They can be kept with fish like oto catfish, nerite snails, small shrimps, mollies, swordtails, fancy guppies,platies, angelfish, danios, gouramis, or other cory catfishes. They can live up to 5 years when cared for properly in the aquarium. The advantage to starting with this fish is its interesting personality, hardiness and also its cheap cost of adoption. The drawback to starting with this fish is its requirement of a substrate in order for it to live happily.
This zipper, mini little fish comes from the region of south Asia, southeast asia and southeast China. They belong to the cyprinidae family, and many varieties can be found for sale, such as the mosquito rasbora, harlequin rasbora, espei rasbora. They can be retailed across a range of prices, from $1-$3. They can live in ph ranges of 6.8-7.8, and in temperatures of 24 to 27 degree celsius. They can be kept in waters with hardness levels between 3-8dgh. They are not picky about food and can accept both live and dried food choices. They should live in shoals of at least 5 individuals and need a minimum of 48L to live comfortably. They can be kept with small fish and scavengers like cory cats and otos, and also dwarf shrimps and invertebrates. They can live up 5-8 years when cared for properly in the aquarium. The advantage to starting with this fish is its petite size and cheap cost of adoption. The drawback to starting with this fish is its otherwise dull colour, and also its requirement of pristine and clean water conditions.
While these are some of the fishes that are recommended for beginners, it does not mean that you do not need to do your own research and monitoring while keeping these species. Every living creature is unique and complex in terms of personality, behaviours and fitness. That is what makes fishkeeping magical. Once you have bonded with these fishes, you will be able to understand what they need and provide them with the best care with minimal risks.