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Top 20 Freshwater Fish

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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Plecostomus. Native to Brazil, plecostomus is one of a number of armor-plated catfish. Plecostomus are placid fish content to live alone. They will not harm other fish and are seldom bothered by others. These fish are active at night and prefer a dark place to hide during the day. They are vegetarians, kept commonly because they will eat algae. Size: up to 12 inches - life span: up to 10 years.

Rainbow Fish. Native to Australia and New Guinea, this is an active peaceful schooling fish best kept in numbers from 3 to 5. The males are distinguished from the female by their more intense coloration. They tolerate a wide variety of tank conditions and eat flake and live foods. Size: up to 3 inches - life span: 1-3 years.

Hatchet Fish. Native to Central and South America, this is a peaceful schooling fish that does best when kept in numbers of 5 to 10. These fish do not do well when kept as individuals. They are a shy species and startle easily, so sudden movements close to the tank may cause them to panic momentarily. They eat flake and live foods. Size: up to 3 inches - life span: 1-2 years.

Corydoras Catfish. Native to South America, this catfish is unlike some of their solitary cousins. The corydoras catfish swim in schools and like to perch in fast flowing water. They are active during the day and are efficient bottom feeders, keeping debris off the tank floor. They will eat anything that ends up on the floor of the tank. Size: 1.5-2 inches - life span: 1-3 years.

Cichlids. Represented by more than 950 species, cichlids are one of the largest families of fish. Native to Central America, South America and Africa, these fish can be found in many places and habitats, defying a single description of size and tank habit. Common types found in aquarium stores would include Jack Dempseys, Oscars, Firemouths, Acaras and Green Terrors. Depending on the species that appeals to you, tank requirements will vary.

Rasboras. Native to Southeast Asia and Thailand, this is a peaceful, easy-to-keep schooling fish best kept in numbers of 5 to 10. Keep rasboras with other gentle tank mates. They prefer both planted areas for cover and open areas for swimming. They eat flake and live food. Size: 2-7 inches - life span: 1-3 years.

Goldfish. The goldfish is native to China. In contrast to the tropical species, goldfish prefer cooler water so a mix of goldfish and tropical fish often causes problems. Either the goldfish are too warm or the tropicals are too cold. Goldfish are active diggers, so they can be destructive to plants. They will eat most anything offered. Size: 2-14 inches - life span: up to 15 years.

Tiger Barbs. Native to Indonesia, barbs are active schooling fish best kept in numbers from 3 to 5. This fish may harass other members of the tank and each other. Fin-nipping is common. Other barb species are more peaceful but the bright black tiger stripes of this species make it a colorful addition. Barbs eat flake and live foods. Size: up to 3 inches - life span: 1-3 years.

Clown Loach. Native to Indonesia and Borneo, the unusual appearance of the clown loach is one of its appealing features. Gold and black stripes with bright red tails add a lot of color to the aquarium. Loaches are active during the day and can be kept singly or in small groups. They will eat flake or live foods. Size: up to 6 inches - life span: 1-3 years.

Other popular freshwater fish include convicts, sharks, koi, silver dollars, piranha, pacu, knifefish and killifish.


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