Starting your first fish tank can be a lot of fun, especially when it’s time to start picking out fish. Before you get ahead of yourself, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into. You’ll need to first choose the type of tank you want (such as brackish, freshwater, or saltwater) then choose not only fish that will be suited to your tank conditions but also each other. Here are some tips to get you started.
Freshwater or Saltwater?
One of the first decisions you need to make is whether you want a freshwater or saltwater aquarium. Both have very different setup and maintenance requirements. Saltwater tanks are more expensive to setup and maintain. While a 29-gallon freshwater aquarium will cost less than $300 to set up, a saltwater tank of the same size will cost more than $600 initially. Changing the water is also easier with freshwater tanks and freshwater fish like guppies and angelfish are usually more affordable than saltwater fish.
There are a few other types of tanks you may hear about, including brackish tanks and reef tanks, which have corals and invertebrates. For your first tank, however, it’s best to stick with saltwater or freshwater.
Tropical or Coldwater?
Next, you need to decide if you want a tropical habitat or coldwater if you decide on a freshwater aquarium. Coldwater fish, such as goldfish and koi, prefer temperatures below 68 degrees F. With a coldwater aquarium, you do not need an aquarium heater. Coldwater fish tend to be easier to keep and require less ongoing maintenance.
Tropical fish, meanwhile, live in tropical climates and need a temperature of around 75 to 85 degrees F. Tropical fish like include catfish, cichlids, platies, and live bearers, including guppies and mollies. Tropical fish are often more fun because they usually have bright colors and are more active.
As you choose which fish you want to add to your new tank, you’ll need to consider their feeding requirements. Some fish have easier dietary requirements than others. You’ll need to be careful about adding carnivorous fish to your tank, however. It’s usually a good idea to choose fish that have similar feeding requirements.
Finally, unless you’re making a predator tank (which isn’t recommended for beginners), you want to choose fish species that can get along with each other. A tank that isn’t peaceful will make your fish stressed and unhealthy. Some fish can get along with almost any other type of fish, including bottom-feeders. Other fish, like guppies, are peaceful but may nip the fins of other fish.