This is not so much about what to keep but how to choose wisely from the very wide range of fishes on show at your local aquatic shop

Not all fish get on well together; some faster swimmers may harrass or otherwise disturb the more lethargic species. You will want to stock the tank evenly with fish that inhabit all levels of the water depth - surface, middle and bottom swimmers. Of course, rule out keeping fishes that have extreme differences in size and also get to understand, ahead of purchase, what demands the fish will make in respect of diet - carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, plus those fish that like bite-sized chunks, those that eat only microscopic sized particles.

Also, the main emphasis is always to buy healthy fish from a reputable source.

Do NOT buy fish if:

There is a dead fish in its tank.
If it is not swimming naturally and is hiding or sulking in a corner.
If it has got spots, pimples, ulcers, clamped-down or split fins.
If you know you cannot meet its needs of water conditions or food.

When introducing fish into the aquarium, you should do so as gently as possible to avoid subjecting them to infection-inducing stress.

Open their plastic bag and float it in the aquarium for some twenty minutes or so to equalise the water temperatures. You can, if you wish, gently add a few cupfuls of aquarium water into the bag during this time to also acclimatise the fish to the aquarium water quality.
At the end of this period gently tip the bag over on its side and let the fish swim out into the aquarium. If you do not wish to add the 'shop water' to your tank then empty the bag into a small bowl, then gently net the fish and transfer them to the main aquarium, hoping that this extra process won't stress the fish too much.

When adding more fish at a later date, it often helps to add a little food at the same time as the new fish so that the existing inmates have their minds distracted from the newcomers.


You have the choice of using real living plants or equally realistic plastic replicas; either will beautify the aquarium and plastic ones come in handy if you like to keep fish that have strong vegetarian-diet tendencies!

Always plant in groups of the same species - it looks more natural. Plants which dislike strong light can be planted under the shade of those stronger-growing, taller species or under a cover of floating plants.

Do not bury the plant too deeply; the 'crown' (the junction of leaf/stem and root) should be level, or just above the surface of the substrate.

Before planting, rinse off each plant; remove any dead or dying leaves and inspect the undersides of leaves for jelly-blobs - these are snails' eggs and should be removed - unless you want a plague of snails in the very near future.

Don't expect all plants to get on together; settle for those that you can grow well.

What Fish to Keep?
Aquarium Size & Water Preparation
Heating, Filtration Systems
Setting-up and Running-In
Feeding, Water Management & Disease

Useful Hints

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Last updated March 27, 2002