8 Of My Favourite Fishes For The Coolest Aquarium 2021


Moray eels

Moray eels are among the easiest marine fish to keep – provided your tank is well covered! They are hardy and able to withstand a range of water conditions but be warned their reputation as escape artists are well-earnt. They can be messy so you will need good filtration, and the other accessories required for any marine aquarium, but little more than that aside from a suitable hideaway. Some morays can grow large but there are a number of species that are suitably sized for average aquaria, including the commonly available mottled, snowflake, and goldspot varieties. Most are primarily scavengers and will take frozen foods readily, and although most also have a hunting instinct as well they will not tackle tankmates that are larger than bite-sized. Moray eels can become quite tame and, once well acclimatized, will be seen out and about in the aquarium – particularly at feeding time. Hand feeding should be attempted with caution – their teeth are sharp! But bites occur mainly by accident and rarely as the result of the attack. All-in-all morays are an easy and rewarding pet and it’s no wonder they are a perennial favorite with marine aquarists, and one of the many reasons hobbyists venture into marine keeping, to begin with!

Eel-tailed catfish

There are two groups of catfish native to Australia, the fork-tailed catfish, and the eel tailed catfish. Representatives of each are often kept as aquarium fish. Of the fork-tailed catfish, the Salmon catfish is probably best known. These are extremely showy fish, but their large potential size rules them out for many aquaria. On the other hand, while not small fish, many of the eel-tailed catfish remain at a more suitable size for home aquaria. One of the most popular species is the yellow-finned eel tail illustrated. This species rarely grows past 20cm, and its bright yellow fins and unusual shape make it an attractive display fish. These fish also tend to be less shy than other catfish, particularly once acclimatized. However, it should be noted that some eel-tailed catfish can grow large. The Tandanus catfish, for example, can grow to 60cm+. This particular is not without appeal however, having the most southerly range, they can be kept in ponds in most parts of Australia. Most other eel-tail catfish are from tropical areas, so often need heating, but are not overly demanding of water quality. They are placid, but do need space to swim, and none should be kept with fish small enough that they can be swallowed whole.

Lemon cichlid

Many hobbyists associate the term “cichlid” with fish that are colourful but highly aggressive and not suitable for mixing in any community tank. While this is true of some cichlid species, the cichlids are a huge family, with many placid and interesting species as well as the more aggressive types. Lemon cichlids are one of the small and brightly coloured species that can be mixed in many community tanks, and as well as adding colour, their complex behaviour makes them a very interesting aquarium subject. Lemon cichlids are relatively undemanding fish but do need fairly clean water that is neutral to alkaline. They are also happiest with some rocky caves or hideaways among ornaments. Plants are not needed but will not be damaged or eaten (although they may be uprooted by digging behaviour as these fish will occasionally excavate, especially if preparing to spawn). Lemon cichlids are not aggressive, but like nearly all cichlids, they do defend a territory. They will mix with most community fish except very timid or tiny species. If given adequate retreats, they are also able to be kept with species more aggressive than themselves. Although a little more expensive than many fish for tropical community tanks these are rewarding fish well worth the investment.

Fancy Goldfish

While anyone who has kept an aquarium is sure to be familiar with the humble goldfish, few people are truly aware of the huge range of varieties that have been developed from this species. Centuries of selective breeding have developed fish almost unrecognizable as goldfish, from the beautiful to the truly bizarre. Some of the characteristics fancy goldfish are bred for are elaborate finnage, fleshy head growths, rounded body shape, and telescopic or up-turned eyes. While they are not to everyone’s tastes, many aquarists find fancy goldfish a fascinating and rewarding alternative. Fancy goldfish are a little more delicate than basic goldfish varieties but certainly not difficult to keep.

Flagtailed Prochilodus

These are not fish commonly seen in stores and when we recently added two to our large tropical fish display they created quite a bit of attention. These fish are not only large and showy, they intensify in color with age and can grow to over 30cm, but they are also very placid in nature and not the slightest bit territorial, aggressive, or even predatory. This means they can be mixed with fish much smaller than themselves, but because of their size, they are also able to be mixed with certain larger fish, including cichlids. They are excellent algae eaters and spend nearly every moment grazing. Possibly the only negative is that, if not provided with sufficient vegetable foods, they will graze on aquarium plants. Unfortunately, their rarity means they do command a relatively high price, but they are not demanding or difficult to keep fish, tolerating a wide range of water conditions. If you are interested in these, or any other unusual fish, please talk to Kathryn about ordering them.

Dottybacks, blennies, gobies & dragonets

The royal dottyback is one of the most strikingly colored marine fish. These small marine fish are quite hardy and a great addition to many marine tanks, from very small systems to large reef aquaria. They are territorial and like a hideaway for themselves, but are not overly aggressive except to others of their own kind. Blennies, gobies, and dragonets are generally not as brightly colored (although the psychedelically marked mandarin fish are an exception), but are also small and very popular marine fish. They are non-aggressive and exhibit interesting behaviors – and what’s more are great tank cleaners, constantly picking around the bottom or at algae. Many of these species also become quite tame.

Fancy Goldfish

While anyone who has kept an aquarium is sure to be familiar with the humble goldfish, few people are truly aware of the huge range of varieties that have been developed from this species. Centuries of selective breeding have developed fish almost unrecognizable as goldfish, from the beautiful to the truly bizarre. Some of the characteristics fancy goldfish are bred for are elaborate finnage, fleshy head growths, rounded body shape, and telescopic or up-turned eyes. While they are not to everyone’s tastes, many aquarists find fancy goldfish a fascinating and rewarding alternative. Fancy goldfish are a little more delicate than basic goldfish varieties but certainly not difficult to keep.

Lemon cichlid

Many hobbyists associate the term “cichlid” with fish that are colourful but highly aggressive and not suitable for mixing in any community tank. While this is true of some cichlid species, the cichlids are a huge family, with many placid and interesting species as well as the more aggressive types. Lemon cichlids are one of the small and brightly coloured species that can be mixed in many community tanks, and as well as adding colour, their complex behaviour makes them a very interesting aquarium subject. Lemon cichlids are relatively undemanding fish but do need fairly clean water that is neutral to alkaline. They are also happiest with some rocky caves or hideaways among ornaments. Plants are not needed but will not be damaged or eaten (although they may be uprooted by digging behaviour as these fish will occasionally excavate, especially if preparing to spawn). Lemon cichlids are not aggressive, but like nearly all cichlids, they do defend a territory. They will mix with most community fish except very timid or tiny species. If given adequate retreats, they are also able to be kept with species more aggressive than themselves. Although a little more expensive than many fish for tropical community tanks these are rewarding fish well worth the investment.

Clownfish

Mascot has always been a popular fish but now is more so than ever because of the “Nemo” craze! The lovable clownfish has always been one of the most recognizable fish and is now also a famous movie star – and everyone wants a piece of him. Fortunately, advances in aquarium equipment mean that marine fish are now much easier and cheaper to keep than ever before. However, there is still a bit greater investment required than for the same sized freshwater tank, and there is a little more involved. But it needn’t be hard, and right now more and more people are setting up small marine aquaria. And not just for clownfish either, dottybacks, damsels, blennies, gobies, dragonets and more are all marine fish that can be kept in a small tank and with only a modest budget.

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