Unfortunately, many novice aquarium hobbyists make the mistake of picking out fish for their aquarium based on what looks good in the store. If you base your choices on sight alone, you are bound to experience a number of problems. For example, the fish you choose may come from extremely disparate environments – the tank parameters that work for one species might not work for the other. There could also be an issue regarding compatibility – if one species is more aggressive than another, it could lead to serious problems. One of the most common problems, however, is that novice aquarium hobbyists bring home a “tank buster” without realizing their mistake. A “tank buster” is a species of aquarium fish that grows very large, often within a short time frame. These fish require a very large tank, one that many novice aquarium hobbyists are not ready or not able to supply.
Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus) – The Bala Shark is one of the most common tank-busters novice
aquarium hobbyists make the mistake of buying. These fish are sold as juveniles and their attractive appearance makes them highly popular. In reality, however, these fish can grow very quickly to attain a length of 1.5 feet or more. A small alternative to this species is the red-tailed black shark. These fish only grow to 6 inches in length but they can be very aggressive so use caution when stocking your tank.
Tinfoil Barb (Barbonymus schwanenfieldii) – Though many barbs remain fairly small, this species can grow up to 2 feet in length and can live for 10 years or longer. Another challenge lies in the fact that these fish are very social – they are best kept in groups of 6 or more and thus require a significant amount of tank space. A smaller alternative is the red-tailed tinfoil barb – though similar in appearance, this species only grows to about 8 inches long at maturity.
Red Bellied Pacu (Colossoma bidens) – The Red Bellied Pacu is a relative of the Piranha, though it feeds largely on vegetation rather than meat. These fish can grow to be over 3 feet long and they tend to grow very quickly. If you like the look of these fish but want something a little less extreme, try Silver Dollars – these fish are silver in color and only grow to about 6 inches long.
Clown Loach (Chromobotia macracanthus) – The Clown Loach is very popular for its colorful striped appearance and its amusing personality. Aquarium hobbyists often fail to realize, however, that these fish can grow 8 to 12 inches long. Not only do you have to worry about the length, but loaches grow to be fairly thick as well so they take up even more space than you might imagine. Additionally, these fish need to be kept in groups of 6 or more so they require a very large tank.
Common Plecostomus (Hypostomus plecostomus) – The common Pleco (as they are nicknamed) is very popular because it serves as an algae-eater. Unfortunately, many aquarium hobbyists do not realize that these fish can grow to up to 2 feet in length and they can live for 15 years or more. As these fish get bigger, they also tend to become more aggressive so be very careful when adding these fish to your tank.
Red-Tailed Shark (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) – Also known as the red- tail catfish, these fish are native to the Amazon. Though they are small when they are sold, these fish can grow up to 5 feet long and they are likely to eat other tank inhabitants. Some smaller alternatives to this species include the Pictus catfish which grows to an adult size of around 6 inches. A group of Corydoras catfish would also be a good alternative since these fish remain small and are suitable for community tanks.
Other Tips and Tricks
Though choosing the right species for your home aquarium is important, the condition of that aquarium is just as important. If the water in your tank is not kept clean then it doesn’t matter what type of fish you keep – they will not be healthy. A great way to ensure high water quality in your home aquarium is to install an EcoBio-Stone. These products are made with volcanic rock and infused with beneficial bacteria. Once introduced into your tank, these bacteria multiply and immediately begin working to maintain the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle is the process through which harmful chemicals like ammonia (the result of waste breakdown) are converted into less harmful substances. With an EcoBio-Stone in your tank, your water will remain clean and clear – the perfect environment for all fish, no matter what the size!