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Community Tanks

A well-planted community tank

The community aquarium (in contrast to a species aquarium) is most peoples first experience with tropical fish. As a general rule, community fish, are those that hardy, have no special feeding requirements, and live peacefully together. The fish are not necessarily found in the same bodies of water in the wild (indeed they may be from completely different continents) but will get along together as long as they have space and food. Likewise, community aquarium plants will have no special requirements, and may indeed be absent entirely. Perhaps you prefer sunken ships and treasure chests?

The majority of low-priced fish in an aquarium store will be good candidates for a community aquarium, however it is worth looking up each species requirements before making a purchase - will they get on with existing species in your tank? Will they be ok in your local tapwater?

Neon Tetras - Live Tropical Community Fish Tetra Paracheirodon innesi Aquarium

Current price: $21.99
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Time left: 18d 8h 41m

Aggressive, or predatory fish, or fish with difficult or unusual requirements with regard food, water conditions or tankmates should all be avoided. Ideal community fish are hardy, peaceful, and certainly not-fussy eaters.

A typical community tank will contain a mix of the following fish


cyprinids - barbs, danios etc


catfish - some catfish can grow huge - stick to smaller species, such as Corydoras

cichlids generally should be avoided in anything but a cichlid only community tank, as they get quite aggressive. In a large, well-planted aquarium, the following dwarf ciclids are appropriate

Tropical Fish, 8 Blue/Green Moscow Guppy's, FREE SHIPPING!

Current price: $69.95
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Time left: 29d 8h 23m

Some fish are often sold as community fish, and on occasions may do well, but the vast majority of the time do not. However cool or cute you think these species are DO NOT buy them for your community tank

  • Pleco - dwarf varieties are fine, but the standrad pleco can get very big very quickly. If you have an algae problem, feed less food, don't add to the bioload!
  • Elephant nosed fish. These are very sensitive, nocturnal and difficult to feed - in a community tank the other fish will get all their food and they will slowly starve
  • Red tailed catfish - these cats look cool as tiddlers in your local shop, but can grow several feet long. Public aquariums are already bursting with donated red-tails that their owners should not have bought in the first place
  • Pangasius sutchi - another species sold as a youngster that gets too big for most home aquaria. Furthermore they like to swim continually, which gets difficult in a small rectangular tank

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Fishkeeping Facts and Tips

Cichlids? There are estimated to be over 2000 different Cichlid species in the wild, of all sizes, shapes and colours. Many require very specialist conditions such as those coming from the sandy/rocky waters of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. Others, such as the Apistogramma dwarf cichlids from the Amazon basin require softer water and a well-planted tank. In general cichlids do not make good community fish as they can get quite aggressive, especially when spawning - but a specialist cichlid tank is certainly a sight to behold, and can be very rewarding for the more experienced aquarist

Have a look at some of these related sites

killifish information
paludarium information
cichlids for sale