Fish for a Community Aquarium

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. October 30, 2016
Fish for a Community Aquarium

Community aquariums allow for the harmonious and lasting coexistence of different plant and fish species, whether it is a cold-water or tropical aquarium.

A community aquarium is one of the most complex and difficult systems that animal lovers can aspire to own. There are many variables and parameters that must be aligned accurately, so it is essential to go slowly when setting up an aquarium in your home, especially if you're not experienced.

This AnimalWised article will assume that the reader is an enthusiast who already has experience with aquariums and knows everything related to cleaning, pH, water hardness, salinity, temperature, lighting, substrates, volume and other parameters that affect the aquarium's maintenance. If you fit that description, continue reading so you can decide on the best fish for a community aquarium.

You may also be interested in: Fish Compatible With Guppies

Small freshwater community aquariums

This type of community aquarium is the easiest to manage. A primary rule is that in any aquarium, no fish should fit into the mouth of another. Therefore, there must be a similarity of sizes among the various species.

When it comes to community aquariums, it is better if the fish don't eat the plants in the tank. Your local shop will advise you on the best plants for this combination, and the minimum time you must wait between placing the plants inside and adding the first fish.

When it comes to community aquariums that are 60 to 80 litres big, a beautiful combination may be include a shoal of neon tetras (15 to 20 individuals), a pair of cardinals, some dwarf cichlids and some pygmy corydoras for the bottom of the tank.

Fish for a Community Aquarium - Small freshwater community aquariums

Medium freshwater community aquariums

For a freshwater community tank of 100-300 liter capacity, a good combination would be several varieties of compatible tetra fish and barbs. The possible species are the following:

  • Neon tetra
  • Lemon tetra
  • X-ray tetra
  • Black neon tetra
  • Copper tetra
  • Bleeding heart tetra
  • Red phantom tetra
  • Gold barb
  • Cherry barb
  • Tiger barb
  • Green tiger barb

It is very important not to cram community aquariums with too many fish, because they may become stressed and sick. Furthermore, excessive waste produced by the fish dangerously lowers water quality.

For the bottom of the tank, a couple pygmy corydoras would be ideal.

Fish for a Community Aquarium - Medium freshwater community aquariums

Large freshwater community aquariums

If you have a large freshwater community aquarium you can increase the size of its inhabitants.

In aquariums of more than 400 litre capacity you can have American cichlids, but choose those that are medium-sized and less aggressive. Put them in pairs to facilitate breeding, but it is essential not to have more than a couple (male and female) of each of the following species:

  • Firemouth cichlids
  • Jack Dempseys
  • Banded cichlids
  • Flag cichlids
  • Oscars

All of these fish are very aggressive among their own kind, but tolerate the species described above. Each pair will mark its territory, so they must have hideouts where they can hide from the view of other fish in order to protect possible offspring.

If you put neon tetras or other smaller fish in the aquarium it will look more complete, but eventually the bigger cichlids will eat them.

Fish for a Community Aquarium - Large freshwater community aquariums

Medium saltwater community aquariums

In medium saltwater community aquariums you can house a beautiful collection of medium-sized tropical fish. Saltwater fish have a more aggressive and territorial temperament than freshwater fish. However, these fish only show aggressiveness towards members of the same species, while they tolerate other species much more easily. However, the golden rule of not mixing fish that fit into the mouth of the others must still be taken into account.

Compatible tropical fish for this type of aquarium can be:

  • Damselfish, strong and beautiful fish.
  • Gobies, small fish that eat the algae at the bottom of the tank.
  • Clownfish, magnificent, very strong and lively fish. Clownfish need sea anemones in the aquarium to create symbiosis. There are different varieties of clownfish, each with a different type of linked anemone. Here you can learn more about feeding a clownfish.
  • Blue tangs, beautiful fish that eat the algae that forms in community aquariums.

Just like before, it's best to keep these species in pairs of male and female, as two males of the same species should never be put together; they will attack each other.

Fish for a Community Aquarium - Medium saltwater community aquariums

Large saltwater community aquariums

In large saltwater aquariums (over 400 litres), you can introduce some more aggressive species. There can only be one solitary individual, as two or more would fight to the death.

  • Yellow longnose butterflyfish
  • Ornate angelfish can live in small shoals of their own species
  • Bicolor angelfish will swim near the rocks, feeding on the algae covering the stones
  • Cornet fish have cleaning habits and grow to a large size, up to 20 cm (7.9 in)
  • Bluestreak cleaner wrasse fish clean and deworm other fish, but it is essential that there is only one individual in the aquarium as it is aggressive towards its peers.
  • Six-line wrasse fish are very peaceful despite their size, which can reach 18 cm (7.1 in).

Here you can learn more about caring for angelfish.

Fish for a Community Aquarium - Large saltwater community aquariums

Do you want to know more?

Explore different types of fish at AnimalWised to learn more about them and decide which one is best for your community aquarium:

If this is your first aquarium, we definitely recommend you start with coldwater fish, which are easier to maintain.

If you want to read similar articles to Fish for a Community Aquarium, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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