Most aquarium owners would like to have a colourful community tank. However, if fish species are mismatched or there’s not enough room for all of them, this can become life-threatening for some of the inhabitants. Therefore, plan ahead carefully before buying your fish.

Once you have finished setting up your aquarium, it will take about another 14 days until the plants have established their roots and the optimum water quality has been achieved. This will give you plenty of time to think about the kind of fish you would like to have. Buying assorted fish that can live together harmoniously requires expert knowledge and careful preparation, because not all aquarium dwellers will get along well.

See how well they tolerate each other
In a community tank you can only keep species that are able to coexist with other types of fish easily, such as guppies and mollies. However, not all fish that are considered sociable are able to get along with each other equally well, which is why you also need to check which fish can live together harmoniously.

Think about the size of the tank and the fish
Find out how large the fish will grow and check to see if you are able to keep them in your aquarium in a way that’s appropriate to their species. A pair of gourami, for example, will be able to socialise with other tank occupants (those that won’t pull on their thread-like antennae fins), but because of their size they can only be kept in large tanks. An alternative for small aquariums would be dwarf gourami. You should also consider the size of your aquarium in relation to the size of the shoal. Some species that are particularly adept at socialising prefer to live in shoals, and vets advise that you keep a group size of around 20 fish. This requires a lot of space and if you have several shoal species your tank will quickly become overcrowded. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to limit your choice to one kind of shoal species.

Consider the water zones
Choose fish according to their preferred territory. Don’t just buy fish that live in the middle area of the tank. Granted this type of fish has the widest selection to choose from, but your community tank will be much more interesting and colourful if the lower level and the area near the surface are also occupied. Catfish and kuhli loaches, for example, love to stay close to the floor of the tank while gourami tend to hang out in the water at the top. The fish you tend to find in the middle layer are rainbow fish, characids and barbels.

Be aware of their needs
Last but not least, the conditions in which you will keep your fish also play a role and should be similar to the conditions in which the fish are currently living. Most importantly, all the fish must share the same preferences when it comes to water quality and temperature so that they really feel well in their communal home.

Get advice
Once you have narrowed down your choices you can finally visit the specialty store. Before you make your purchase be sure you get some in-depth advice one more time. Sales staff in a good specialty store will be happy to take the time to answer all your questions about buying the right fish and accessories plus how to transport your new pets home and introduce them into the aquarium.

Call into your local store today to discuss your pet’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts