What Freshwater Fish are Good Together?


Without any doubt, fish are one of the best pets to keep. And to keep them you don’t have to do much. All you need is a fishbowl and a fish and you have your first pet. But you can do more than that. You can decide to have a bigger aquarium that can contain more fish and keep more than one fish. And that is not all, you can even do better by having more than one type of fish in your aquarium. That sounds great, right? Well, it is possible to keep more than one fish together and that is exactly what this article is going to be talking about.

Freshwater Fish that are Good Together

You are not alone if you are asking this question “what freshwater fish are good together?” There are several other people asking the same question. And yes, there are freshwater fish that are good together. Some common examples are the barbs, tetras, rasboras, danios, guppies, rainbowfishes, and some species of catfish.

A tank that is designed to contain more than one species of fish is called a community aquarium. They bring about this beauty of combining a different variety of fish that otherwise might not have been found together in nature. The aesthetic value it adds to the home and the sense of fulfillment of maintaining such a complex community is second to none. There will be different sizes, different colors, and different behaviors that will be interesting to watch.

Conditions for Selecting Freshwater Fish that are Good Together.

Even as humans not all of us can live together so you shouldn’t expect all fish to live together. You can put them in the same tank but you can’t make them live together in peace. And that is not good. You want to watch a thriving and active ecosystem of fish living peacefully together. And not a group of fish fighting and trying to kill each other.

Also, having fish that cannot live together peacefully means that your fish will often be stressed out. And this will weaken their immunity and make them prone to the attack of sickness and diseases. To make sure that you select the best fish that can survive in a community aquarium, there are some guidelines that I will be sharing with you in this article.

1. Avoid Aggressive and Territorial Fish –  No one wants a nagging roommate and your fish don’t want that, too. Most cichlids fall into this category. They can see other fish as competitors and will often result in fighting them to maintain their territory.

2. Avoid Predatory Fish –  This is almost the same thing as the territorial fish above. Predatory fish see every other thing apart from itself as food. You don’t want to put a fish that will eat other fish in your aquarium.

3. Consider the Size of the Fish When They are Grown –  Those tiny fish they want to sell for you at the pet shop won’t be that size forever. I know it’s hard to imagine that those tiny adorable fish will one day grow to be very big but they will. It is not also true that a fish will only grow to the size of its container. Some fish are peaceful when they are small but as they grow bigger they may start feeding on smaller fish. Some example of fish that belongs to this category includes some catfishes and barbs species.

4. Avoid Sensitive Fish That Get Nervous Around Active Fish –  These fragile fish are obviously peaceful and will not pick a fight with any other fish. But the problem comes when they always feel threatened when other fish are active. You don’t want that type of fish.

5. Consider Fish That Consume Similar Food –  You should not put fish that have different food requirements together in a tank. First, it is obvious that you will spend less when you only have to feed the fish with the same type of food. Also, it means you are only going to avoid wastage of feed and excess feeding that can pollute the water.

6. Avoid Fish That Can Not Compete With Others For Food –  It will be difficult for you to feed a fish that finds it difficult to eat when others are eating. For example, the pipefish which has a straight body and also look like a tube will find it difficult to pick food while others are eating. This may lead to malnutrition or even death caused by starvation.

7. Ensure that One Tank Can Meet All Their Needs –  What this means is that all the fish you want to put together must require similar water conditions. For example, it will be difficult to put temperate fish together with tropical fish. Their body needs different water temperature and it will be difficult or impossible to achieve that in the same tank.

8. Chose Fish That Prefer to Swin at a Different Water Level –  You don’t want to put fish that prefers to stay at the same level in the water. This will congest your tank and cause competition between them for space, food, and oxygen. You can mix fish that prefers to stay at the bottom of the tank together with those that like the surface and middle of the water.

9. Consider Keeping s School of Fish for One Species –  Some fish don’t like being lonely. They like to see other fish that looks like them. Keeping at least 4 – 6 fish of that same species will ensure that they do well alongside other fish.

10. Select Fish That Require the Same Water Chemistry –  Consider the range of water quality requirements for the fish that you want to put together. If they can cope with that range you can stock them together. Most freshwater fish will survive in pH ranging from 6- 8. Therefore any fish that can survive within that range can stay together.  

In summary, you must only bring fish that can live together and are compatible in temperament and water condition requirement.

Examples of Some Freshwater Fish that are Good Together

I will be giving examples of freshwater fish that are good together. I will also like to group them based on the level of water that they prefer. Some prefer to swim in the middle while others enjoy staying at the base of the tank.

Examples of Fish that Prefer Any Level of Water.

 The following fish do not have a problem staying at any level of water. You can see them moving back and forth. Giant Danio, Pearl Danio, Rosy Barb, Two Spot Barb, Upside Down Catfish, White Clouds, Zebra Danio.

Examples of Fish That Prefer the Top Level of Water

There are some other fish that prefer to stay at the top of the tank and remain there. The examples I have here are the Common Hatchetfish and Halfbeak.

Examples of Fish That Prefer Top and Mid Level of Water

African Glass Catfish, Axelrod’s Rainbowfish, Banded Rainbow, Black Neon Tetra, Boesmans Rainbow, Celebes Rainbowfish, Congo Tetra, Dwarf Gourami, Guppy, Mosquito Fish, and so many others.

Examples of Fish That Prefer the Mid Level of Water

This type of fish will be seen spending most of their time in the mid-level of water. Some of the common types of fish that behave like this are Angelfish, Black Phantom Tetra, Black Widow Tetra, Blind Cave Fish, Goldfish, Horse-Faced Loach, Tiger Barb.

Fish that Prefer the Middle and Bottom Level

Just like the fish that will move from the middle to the top. These types of fish prefer to move from the middle to bottom, however. Some common examples that are good for your aquarium are Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid, Algae Eater, Bolivian Ram, Butterfly Ram, Cardinal Tetra, Cherry Barb, Dwarf Loach, etc.

Fish that Prefer the Bottom Level

This fish will rather spend most of their day staying at the base of the tank instead of coming to the middle or surface of the water. The examples in this category are Adolfo’s Cory, Bristlenose Catfish, Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid, Corydoras, Kribensis, Kuhli Loach, and Pictus Catfish. etc.

How to Set Up a New Aquarium

Now that you know the type of fish that are good together I’m sure you can’t wait to set up your own aquarium and start putting fish. However, before you do that you need to understand how to set up a new aquarium. What are the requirements and how do you go about it?

The first thing you want to consider is the size of the aquarium you want to use. As a beginner, it is always easier to manage a bigger aquarium than a smaller one. I will suggest you start with at least a 20-gallon capacity tank.The size of the tank will determine the number of fish you can put inside and the number of different types of fish that it can contain.

The next important thing after considering the size of the aquarium that you want is the location. You may wonder that why location? But location matters a lot when it comes to setting up an aquarium that must be successful. The location will contribute to the overall aesthetics and also make the system work properly.

First thing is that you must create a space for the aquarium that will be out of the way of other people. You want to make sure that it is out of the way of kids and working areas where you can easily knock it down. The next thing to consider before deciding whether a location is best for your aquarium is the closeness to the source of water. If it is not going to be close to a source of water then there must be provision for how you will fill it water whenever you change the water in the aquarium.

I know you may be tempted to put your aquarium close to your window but please don’t do it. Keep your aquarium in a cool place away from the sun. There are lights in your aquarium that you don’t need to put it by the window for the sun. The reason for this is simple. There are algae that have the potential to grow inside water in the presence of sunlight. Algae are green plants and they go through the process of photosynthesis in the presence of sunlight. The algae can soon take over your tank and they can be very messy and difficult to clean.

Cleaning Your Aquarium

This brings us to the next topic which is cleaning your aquarium. Your aquarium is not like your car or normal dish that you wash every day therefore there are procedures to follow before cleaning your aquarium. The first thing you must keep in mind is that you must not use soap to wash your aquarium. Soaps contain chemicals that may be harmful to your fish. No matter how much you try to rinse it, traces of these chemicals may linger. And only a small quantity is enough to kill your fish. Rinse the tank several times with clean water. You can use a brush to scrub the wall to remove dirt and debris. You can use a dry towel to clean the tank once you are done.


That cool look that aquariums have is gotten from the background that is added to the aquarium. It does give it the natural look as if it was a section of the sea that was really brought into the tank. Now you know how they come about it. They are created from wallpapers which are sold and attached to the back of the aquarium. You can get a nice looking background and stick it to your aquarium.

Set Up Accessories

The next thing you want to do is to set up the accessories in your tank. The things you can add to your tanks are endless. You just have to be creative and use your imagination to determine how you want your fish tank to look like. There are some basic items you may likely want to add to your aquarium. I will discuss some of them briefly right now.

1. Gravel. This is the base of the fish tank. It adds a natural look to the tank and makes it look just like the river bed. The gravel serves more function than to just make the tank look natural. The gravel also serves as an anchor for holding things in place inside the tank.

2. Plants. For the plants in the aquarium, there are two options. One is artificial and the other is the normal plant. Most people prefer to use artificial plants especially when they have plant-eating fish in the tank. They are quite easy to place in the tank using the gravel as the anchor.

3. Water filter. Water filter serves the function of removing unwanted substances from the water entering into the tank. They are usually mounted at the point where water will enter into the tank and they provide protection against solid particles and dissolved substances.

4. Water heater. Water heaters are used to control the temperature of the tank. Some tropical fish requires higher temperature and if you live in a cold area, you will need a water heater to increase the temperature to a level that is suitable for the fish.

5. Aerator. They are used to introduce dissolved oxygen into the tank. They do that by agitating the surface of the water thereby mixing the oxygen in the atmosphere with the water. They also add the bubble effect that you see in most fish tanks and they make it more pleasant to watch.

6. Biofilter. Before introducing fish it is important to build the bacteria community of a tank to be able to help with the ammonia pollution that does occur from time to time. These bacteria are not harmful but they help convert the ammonia content in water to a less harmful state.

7. Adding water. This is usually done after everything else is in place. It makes it easy to position all the accessories in water. Make sure you don’t add tap water that has been treated with chlorine to your tank as it can kill the fish.

8. Water treatment. You can add a water conditioner to the water after everything to help remove the toxic substances. For example, it will help you reduce the effect of chlorine and heavy metal.

So where is the fish in all of these? I know you are eager to add your fish but it is not yet time. You have to wait for like 24 hours to 48 hours after you set up your tank before you add fish

Basic Accessories You Need for an Aquarium and Their Functions

1. Water filter. Water filter as the name suggest is used to remove and prevent harmful substances from the tank.

2. Water heater. A water heater is used to increase the temperature of water to a level that is suitable for the fish that is in a particular tank.

3. Thermometer. This is used to measure the temperature of water at a particular time.

4. pH meter. pH meter measures the degree to which water is acidic or alkaline. It is a useful water quality parameter that can affect the fish.

5. Ammonia testing kit. Ammonia testing kits come in different forms depending on the manufacturer. They are used to test the level of ammonia and related compounds in the water at any given time.

6. Lights. They are used to illuminate the aquarium and sometimes to beautify the aquarium when different colors are being used.

Setting Up the Filtration in an Aquarium

In a fish tank, the major problem or pollution that can occur is an ammonia spike. Fish excrete their waste directly into the water as ammonia. Depending on the stocking density, the ammonia level can easily build up and can be very dangerous to the fish if not checked. Ammonia needs to be converted to nitrite and then nitrate which is a more stable form before it is being removed from the water.

Ammonia can be converted into this less harmful state by bacteria. These are the good bacteria and not the ones that will cause disease to your fish. They are everywhere and they will develop naturally and slowly. They grow on the substrate in the tank and they can also be introduced as part of the filter system. Once the bacteria community is fully matured and developed, it can easily sustain the level of ammonia that will be produced by your fish.

How to Add Fish to Your Aquarium

Now we’ve gotten to the part you have been waiting for. How do you add fish to your aquarium? This doesn’t seem like a difficult thing to you and that is true. It is not difficult but there are procedures you must follow before you stock your fish into the tank. First, you have to know that you must wait for 24 – 48 hours after adding water to your tank the first time before adding the fish.

Another important thing to note is that you shouldn’t add all your fish at once especially if the setup is still fairly new and the bacteria community has not been fully developed. The reason for this is to prevent an ammonia spike which can be a delay for the fish. As you keep adding the fish in small numbers, the bacteria community will be developed and ready to take more fish. If the water temperature from the place where your fish is coming from is different from the one in the tank you shouldn’t add them immediately. Try to keep them in the same area as your tank to achieve fairly the same temperature before you finally introduce them to their new home. Monitor their behavior and how they react tom their new home before you leave.

Treatment of Aquarium Fish

I know you will like to ask what you would do if you have a sick fish. I will like to start by saying that it is normal to have sick fish. However, the best thing is to do the things that will make you avoid having a sick fish. The best practice when you have a sick fish is to isolate the sick fish and treat them separately. It is not good to add the treatment directly into the tank. It can be dangerous for the bacteria community and indirectly it will affect the fish. SO the best thing is to remove the affected fish and treat them separately.

Do’s and Don’ts of an aquarium


  • Always maintain good hygiene in your aquarium
  • Feed with the right quantity of feed and at the right time
  • Change at least 25% of water weekly
  • Always do your research before you add a new fish
  • Always pay attention to the state of health of your fish
  • Vacuum debris from the bottom of the tank.  


  • Don’t add all the fish once to a new tank
  • Don’t put dirty hands in the water
  • Don’t use soap and other chemicals near the tank
  • Don’t Ignore maintenance


I am sure you must have learned a lot from this article. Freshwater fish can be kept together but there are things you must consider before putting different fish together. It may seem difficult first and that a lot of work needs to be done. Just make sure you understand the behavior of each one before you buy them and remember to always do your own research.

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