How to Select the Right Tank and Fish

Fish make excellent pets. You don’t have to have any special skills for them. You need only have the right fish and equipment, and then give them the right care.

As a dry spectator to their watery world, you can actually lower your stress levels – their bright colors and graceful movements have a calming effect. You can enjoy them if you have very little space, or if you haven’t time for more demanding pets.

There are two types of aquariums: fresh water and salt water. Because fresh water aquariums are much easier to maintain than salt water tanks, creating a tropical fresh water fish community is the best place to start.

When choosing the tank, you will need to consider two things in particular.
1) Where the tank will fit in your home, because that is a determinant of the size of the tank.
2) The water surface area of the tank, which determines the number of fish you can have.

In general, it doesn’t matter how deep your tank is so much as how much water surface area the tank shape creates. This is because fish need oxygen, and it comes to them through the water’s surface. If you overcrowd a tank, the fish can suffocate!

The following formula will help you decide on the right tank for the number of fish you’d like to have, given the space in your home that’s available for the tank. For every inch of fish body length, you’ll need 12 square inches of surface water area.

So, let’s say you have two one-inch Neon Tetras. That’s 2 linear inches of fish times 12 square inches of water surface apiece, which equals 24 total square inches of water surface needed for the Tetras to have enough oxygen.

A 5-inch by 6-inch rectangular tank would create 30 square inches of surface. That would support those two Tetras nicely, but wouldn’t be big enough for three of them.

Once you’ve thought about the size of tank you have space to fit in your home, and you’ve figured out how many fish body inches that tank can support, the next step is to select the fish you’d like to have for your aquarium community. Think this through before you start buying the fish.

Fish behavior is ultimately more important to your decisions than color and size. You are creating a community of living creatures in which all members are forced to live, so plan ahead to save some of your pets from becoming another pet’s dinner.

Each type of fish will prefer a different water level within the tank. Here are just a couple of your many choices among many tropical fresh water fish families.

The Anabantid Family. This is the family of the famous and popular Siamese Fighting Fish. Since the males will fight to the death, it is critical that you only have one male per tank. In the same family is the calm and peaceful Gourami, which grow from 1 to 5 inches. The stunning Gold Gourami and the Kissing Gourami are two types.

The Characin Family. This fish family includes everything from the tiny neon tetra to the piranha – which is not a recommended pet! The beautiful tetras, however, are excellent for aquariums. They prefer the middle level of the tank. The Hatchet Fish prefer the upper water levels.

There are species in the Characin Family for every water level. You will need groups of at least 4 fish for the schooling Characins to perform satisfactory schooling behaviors.

Careful selection will make your tank interesting and variable. Do your homework before you start buying the fish, and you will have long-term pleasure in the community you’ve created.

Jeanine Hughes has developed her expertise about fish and fishing over the course of a lifetime and enjoys sharing her interest with others. For articles by Jeanine, vist Free Aquarium or Fishing Junky.

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