Just like people, fish come from different environments and have different aquatic habits. In ocean, reefs are 1 kind of habitat and there are others like rock caves. In freshwater fish too there are different varieties of fish. Places like Rift Lakes of Africa are known for their alkaline nature, rocky environment and hard water. Amazon River, on the other hand, has soft acidic water filled with vegetation from jungle banks. Such different environments host different fishes which have gradually evolved and adapted to the surroundings which they have been brought up in.
Hence, the fish that you buy for your aquarium largely depends on the environment which you have made in the aquarium. If you have already bought an aquarium in your home and want to add fish in it, then you should look for the ones which can go well with your native environment. Don’t get fish which are too big for stocking capacity and buy the fish which get along well with other fish in the aquarium. Different species occupy different water levels and hence if you have some bottom dweller fish like cat fish, then you should get some mid level or top level ones. Different species also have different temperaments – peaceful or aggressive and there are also diurnal and nocturnal fish.
There are different ways to find things about fish which you may be considering. Apart from atlas out there, you can look for information in different online database. When you check in print or with online sources, you should look for cross reference info about specific species from at least three sources and you shouldn’t use retailers for source. They use statistics which are often inaccurate and forgiving especially for things like how long the fish grows.
Often, it is said that fish can adapt to different pH. This is not true and most fish can’t do well outside pH of native waters which they were brought up in. one good example of this is neon tetras. They are brightly coloured, freshwater peaceful fish having distinctive looking red and neon blue strips. It is believed that this fish can easily adapt to pH which range from alkaline to acidic. However, this fish can live in alkaline environments for just one to three years and in native Amazon conditions, they can live for 20 years where the water is acidic and soft.
If you haven’t bought an aquarium yet, then you should think about what kind of fish you want and then create an environment in the aquarium which will support that particular fish. If you are interested in any particular species, then you should create an environment which is conducive for them. For the tank mates, you should look at other species from same environment which will be compatible with the fish that you already have.
You are looking to create specific aquatic environment, then you should choose fishes that are native for that environment. For instance, heavily planted fresh water tank is close to acidic Amazonian and hence soft water environment for peaceful school fish like the neon tetras or beautiful discus should be chosen. Gouramis or Angelfish will also do just like other acid loving fishes. Big fish often eat smaller ones and hence if you have small like neon tetras, then you should avoid having bigger ones like Angelfish.
On the other hand, if you are looking to create freshwater rock and sand aquarium, which is close to Rift Lake environment and has hardwater with alkaline pH, then you should choose something like cichlid fish. They can live well there.
Before you decide on the specific type of environment, you should consider nature of tap water. If you get alkaline and hard water in your taps, then converting it in to soft water will be difficult and expensive process. However, if you want to make the water harder, then it won’t be an expensive process. It is easiest to keep same species which are comfortable in same environment.
While buying fish, you should know what are its needs and its life duration. You shouldn’t go to the store and simply say, ‘Give me one of those, three of those, and five of those’. The population of fish in the tank should be planned well before.
Fish can live for a long time, for around ten or more years. Growing a fish is a big time investment but you will be rewarded well. You should be good to the fish and they will give you pleasure for a long time.