When you are first starting out in the aquarium hobby it is wise to stock your tank with hardy species that are tolerant of varying water conditions. Because it may take some time before you get the hang of maintaining stable water chemistry, you should only keep species of fish that will be forgiving of the mistakes you are likely to make. If, for example, the pH in your tank fluctuates or your heater malfunctions and the temperature in your tank drops several degrees in one day, hardy species of fish will be better equipped to handle these conditions than more delicate species. Whereas delicate or sensitive species of fish could become stressed in either of these situations - or even die as a result of the changes in water chemistry - hardy species of fish will simply adapt to the changes.
Small Species of Fish
Many of the smaller species of freshwater fish you are likely to see in pet stores are hardy and tolerant of varying water conditions. Some of the most popular small species for beginning aquarists include neon tetras, danios, barbs and livebearers such as guppies, mollies and swordtails. Do not think that just because a species of fish is easy to care for that they are also boring – guppies, for example, are known for the vibrant colors and patterns displayed by males of the species. Mollies, platies and swordtails are also available in a wide variety of colors and can be mixed in different combinations to create a colorful array for your first tank. Keep in mind when selecting small species of fish for your first tank that many of these species prefer to be kept in groups with others of their kind and, because they are small, they should not be kept with large or aggressive fish.
Medium and Large Species
One of the most recognizable species of freshwater fish is the angelfish. Not only is this species very popular, but it is also a fairly hardy species, easy to maintain in the home aquarium. Another popular group of fish for new aquarium hobbyists is the gourami family. Gouramis can be found in many different color combinations and most species are hardy, peaceful fish well suited to the community tank. Pearl gouramis, for example, have a very mild temperament and exhibit beautiful coloration that can enhance the aesthetic appeal of any community tank. Another species recommended for new aquarium hobbyists is the plecostomus. Small plecostomus are great for community tanks and require little care because the majority of their diet is gleaned from algae growths and uneaten fish food. When stocking your tank with medium and large species, keep in mind that as these fish grow they may become territorial. This is particularly true regarding plecostomus and male gouramis.
Tips for Starting a New Tank
If you are starting your first tank, there are a few things you need to do in order to ensure that the tank is a safe and healthy environment for fish. Not only do you need to make sure you dechlorinate the tank water and install all of the necessary equipment, you also need to cycle the tank before you can add any fish. The nitrogen cycle is the process through which nitrifying bacteria in your tank convert harmful toxins like ammonia into nitrites and then into less harmful nitrates. Adding an EcoBio-Stone is a simple way to introduce some of these bacteria into your tank to help start a colony for maintaining the nitrogen cycle. EcoBio-Stones are made of porous volcanic cement and are infused with beneficial bacteria. Once these bacteria enter your tank they will multiply and work to keep the water clean and clear while also helping to maintain the nitrogen cycle. Though the species of fish previously mentioned are tolerant of changing water conditions, all fish are more likely to thrive in a clean tank where the water parameters remain stable.