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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Fish compatibility

Get the right mix of fish for your aquarium
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - November 6, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Fish compatibility

You’ve got a new tank, done your aquascaping, cycled the tank for a couple of weeks, and are now ready to populate it with fish. So do you just go to the store and buy whichever fish pleases your eye? Not so fast!

Populating your aquarium is not exactly a straightforward matter. You could simply dump all and sundry into the tank, then hope the bunch will get along. But more often than not, you will see fish nipping at one another or sulking in a corner of the tank.

Fish vary in their need for companionship. Some do well with company; others can be downright anti-social. It is thus important to select the right mix of fishes for your aquarium.

Sociable fish
The good news is that many types of fish tend to be gregarious. Not only do they appreciate company, some in fact need to be around members of their own species in order to thrive.

If you keep a single specimen of any such species, the fish could run into difficulties, even if it lives in a crowded tank. Among other problems, the fish may not show off its full colours, or it may hide in a corner. Worse, it could develop a habit of nipping at other fish, though that could be a sign of boredom as much as a symptom of aggressiveness.

Such fish need to be kept in a group of their own species to give them a feeling of security. Apart from this, there is an aesthetic reason for doing so: a shoal of fish of the same type often looks much better than one or a few mixed in with other fish. If you like, you can take advantage of this fact by setting up an aquarium consisting only of one kind of fish. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a very attractive display.

The anti-social ones
At the other end of the spectrum are the anti-social loners. Some fish can be very territorial, even with members of their own species. They may fight continuously among themselves if the tank is not large enough for each to have adequate space of its own. These skirmishes may become more frequent during breeding time. 

Quarrelling among males is common, especially with species like the Siamese Fighting Fish. For such fish, impose the “one male per tank” rule. Some marine species, such as the Blue-velvet Damselfish, won’t tolerate the presence of another member of their own species in an aquarium, even if it is of the opposite sex.

Feeding habits can also cause problems. Bear in mind that carnivores may attack other fish, so if you have one in the tank, the other fish must be at least of the same size or larger, lest the little ones end up as food.

Compatible combos
Here are some combinations you can consider:

Goldfish should be kept in groups and are compatible with various species of catfish.

Angelfish should be kept in groups of at least four, and can get along with Blood Parrots, various types of tetras and gourami fish that are similar in size.

Guppies should be kept in groups where there are more females than males, and are compatible with a variety of smaller tetras.

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