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Tropical Fish

Everything You Need to Know About Aquascaping and Keeping Tropical Fish

 

Keeping fish is considered an easy dip into pet ownership. But any tropical fish enthusiast knows that the hobby is rich with different fish varieties and tank setups.

You can make it as simple or as complex as you like.

The information you’ll find below can help you on either path, whether you want a small, one-fish tank or an elaborate multi-species aquarium with live plants.

This page is a detailed guide for everything you need to know about caring for freshwater tropical fish and aquatic plants. 

Just check out the table of contents, and skip to the information you need.

 

Table of Contents

The Tye-Dyed Iguana’s Top Advice for Tropical Fishkeeping

Which Species Are Best for a Mixed Fish Tank? (And Can You Put a Betta in a Community Aquarium?)

Looking for a New Gardening Hobby? Try Aquascaping

Plants that Thrive in a Hard Water Aquarium

Fish That Eat Mosquitoes (And How to Keep Them Healthy Outside)

Answers to your questions about keeping tropical fish

What do I feed a carnivorous fish?

How can I get my fish to stop eating the aquarium plants?

Will my fish eat their tank mates?

Can I do aquascaping in a turtle tank?

What’s the difference between aquascaping and aquaponics?

Types of Tropical Fish

Guppies

Bettas

Aquarium Plants and Aquascaping

Plant care

Tank Maintenance

Tank cleaning

 

The Tye-Dyed Iguana’s Top Advice for Tropical Fishkeeping

 

Check out these articles to find out some basics that will get you started with keeping tropical fish and creating an aquascaped aquarium...

Which Species Are Best for a Mixed Fish Tank? (And Can You Put a Betta in a Community Aquarium?)

One of the joys of fishkeeping is the beauty of the fish, but it can be harder than you’d expect to keep a variety of species together. Some of them just don’t get along and end up fighting, biting, or eating each other. Fortunately, with planning, you can create a community tank with multiple species.

Here are some of the best fish and other aquatic creatures for community tanks:

  • Cory catfish

  • Tetras

  • Ghost shrimp

  • Guppies

  • Kuhli loaches

Read the full article to learn more about these animals, as well as information on when and how to add a betta fish to a mixed fish tank.

Looking for a New Gardening Hobby? Try Aquascaping

Aquascaping is an excellent solution for people who want to garden in small spaces. By keeping your garden to the confines of an aquarium, you’re guaranteed not to overfill your space (which is easy to do if you’re bringing home potted plants).

Besides the small space benefit, aquascaping is a fun and unique way to grow plants. You can start this hobby on its own or add freshwater fish to the environment. The fish and plants can each benefit from one another.

Learn more about aquascaping in the full article.

Plants that Thrive in a Hard Water Aquarium

A hard water aquarium is simply one in which the water has a lot of minerals in it. This can be a problem for some less hardy plants or fish species. That being said, if you’re using dechlorinated tap water that contains a lot of minerals, you can still start an aquascape or fish tank.

These plants survive well even in hard water:

  • Sword plants

  • Java fern

  • Java moss

  • Anubias

  • Cryptocoryne

  • Hygrophila

Find out more about these plants and why hard water can be an issue by reading this article.

Fish That Eat Mosquitoes (And How to Keep Them Healthy Outside)

As with the plants in the article above, the fish suggested in this article are all hardy, easy to care for, and do well regardless of water hardness. If you’re looking for an easy and natural way to reduce the mosquito population in your yard, consider creating a container pond with these fish:

  • Guppies

  • Zebra danios

  • Goldfish

You don’t need to dig a hole in your yard to have a mosquito-catching fish pond. Check out the instructions in this article for a simple DIY pond.

Answers to your questions about keeping tropical fish

The articles above have some general guidance on selecting freshwater fish and aquatic plants, but they don’t cover specific care details.

Here are some of the common questions about aquascaping and caring for fish:

What do I feed a carnivorous fish?

Some tropical fish are herbivores, some are omnivores, and some are carnivores. If you have fish that require meat as part of their diet, you’ll be happy to know they are fairly easy to feed. 

Some foods for carnivorous fish that you can find at most fishkeeping shops are:

  • Shrimp

  • Brine shrimp

  • Mealworms

  • Crickets

  • Snails

  • And carnivorous fish pellets

Fish pellets contain most of the nutrition a carnivorous fish needs, but you can supplement with other foods for variety. Learn more about taking care of carnivorous fish in this article.

How can I get my fish to stop eating the aquarium plants?

The previous question tackled feeding carnivorous fish, but herbivores pose their own problems. Though generally less aggressive, these fish can wreak havoc on live plants. 

Unfortunately, the only complete solution is to separate your herbivorous fish from your aquascaping endeavors if they keep tearing up plants. But there are other things you can do to minimize damage to the plants, such as:

  • Make sure you are feeding plenty of food and providing supplemental food, like seaweed and algae, for variety.

  • Grow plants the fish don’t like to eat (many don’t enjoy java fern).

  • Choose small species that are unlikely to completely destroy plants, such as danios, barbs, and tetras.

  • Choose fast-growing plants that can replace what has been eaten, such as hygrophila, water sprite, duck weed, and cabomba.

For more solutions to live planted fish aquariums, read this article.

Will my fish eat their tank mates?

The short answer is yes. Some fish will eat tank mates, whether those are other species of fish, other members of their own species, or other aquatic creatures.

The best way to prevent tank mates from being eaten is to provide enough space to prevent territory disputes and enough food to satisfy your carnivores. Even the calm and docile guppy will eat baby guppies if the tank becomes overcrowded.

One type of aquatic creature you will especially want to watch out for is tadpoles. These small metamorphs are prey to many carnivorous and omnivorous tropical fish.

You can learn more about how to keep tadpoles and when to transfer them out of the aquarium by clicking here.

Can I do aquascaping in a turtle tank?

Yes! Aquascaping a turtle tank is an excellent idea. The plants help to filter and oxygenate the water for your pet, reducing harmful bacteria and algae growth. Plants also provide natural hiding spots, which reduces stress for the turtle.

The problem with aquascaping a turtle tank is that turtles tend to tear up live plants. You see, as omnivores, they like to eat the plants, and they tend to eat more plants and less meat as they get older.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure the plants you select are non-toxic for turtles. Read the full article for suggestions on which plants to add to your turtle tank.

What’s the difference between aquascaping and aquaponics?

Although both aquascaping and aquaponics involve growing plants, the end goals for each are different, as are the types of plants being grown. Aquascaping is growing aquatic plants in an aquarium, whether fish are present or not.

Aquaponics, on the other hand, is a sub-type of hydroponics, in which fish provide fertilizer for the plants. In aquaponics, water from the fish tank is used to hydrate and give nutrition to plants that are in separate containers with their own growing medium. The plants do not grow in the aquarium.

Aquaponics can be used to grow herbs and other edible plants. Learn how to start a simple aquaponics setup with a betta fish in this article.

Now, let’s go on to information about the specific types of fish and aquatic plants, and their required care… 

Types of Tropical Fish

 

Tropical fish come in many different sizes and colors. In addition to aesthetics, you’ll also want to consider the care requirements of particular species before making selections for your aquarium.

Guppies

Guppies are an easy fish for beginners to care for, and they come in a lot of color varieties, as well.

Find out more about guppies at this link:

Why Guppies Are Extraordinary Starter Fish

Bettas

Bettas are popular because of their lively personalities and the male’s vibrant fin and tail colors. Females can even be kept in community tanks with the right safety considerations, and less aggressive males can be kept with a few tank mates of other species (but it’s not a good idea to keep male bettas together).

Find out more about bettas at these links:

The Difference Between Peaceful Betta and Fighting Betta

What It Means When Your Betta Fish Blows Bubbles

Betta Fish Can Breathe Air

Aquarium Plants and Aquascaping

 

Aquatic plants are a lot of fun for the indoor gardener who wants to get into fishkeeping, or for the fish enthusiast who would like to add live plants to their aquarium. Of course, you don’t have to combine the two. Some enjoy aquatic gardening without any fish at all.

Aquascaping can create a more vivid tank with visual movement that plastic décor just can’t replicate. And if you’ll be keeping fish, they benefit from the plants, as well.

Plant care

Many of the things you need to know about other indoor plants apply to aquatic plants, as well. Of course, keeping plants in an aquarium does present some unique challenges.

Find out more about caring for aquatic plants at this link:

Why Aquarium Plants Need Trace Elements

Tank Maintenance

 

A live-planted aquarium is a mini ecosystem. It has to be kept in balance in order to thrive and stay beautiful. The good news is tank maintenance isn’t any more difficult than regular gardening maintenance.

Tank cleaning

The majority of keeping a tank clean comes down to prevention through proper setup, but occasionally, you will need to clean out built-up algae, decayed leaves, or fish waste.

Find out more about cleaning aquariums at this link:

How to Remove Algae From Fish and Turtle Tanks