The Fish Guru

Discovering the World of Tropical Fish: An Introduction to Freshwater and Saltwater Species

Introduction to Tropical Fish

Keeping tropical fish is a popular pastime for many people, thanks to the therapeutic and entertaining benefits it provides. These aquatic creatures come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes, and can be freshwater or saltwater species.

If you’re new to the world of tropical fish, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and what to look out for. In this article, we’ll provide an introduction to tropical fish and explore some of the most popular freshwater tropical fish species you can keep as pets.

Benefits of Keeping Tropical Fish

Before delving into the species of tropical fish, let’s take a moment to discuss the benefits of keeping fish. First of all, watching fish swim around in an aquarium can be very calming and therapeutic.

Studies have shown that watching fish swim can reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure, making it a perfect activity for relaxation. Additionally, maintaining an aquarium can help you develop a sense of routine, which can be beneficial if you are looking to get into meditative practices.

In addition to these benefits, keeping tropical fish is also a form of entertainment. A well-maintained aquarium can be a striking and visually pleasing addition to any room.

It provides a fascinating and engaging focal point, with colorful and unique creatures to observe and admire. With so many types of fish well-suited to different skill levels, budgets, and spaces, there really is something for everyone.

What Are Tropical Fish? In general, tropical fish thrive in warm water environments that maintain a temperature between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

This means that they are best suited to indoor aquariums, where the temperature and light can be controlled. In addition to temperature, one of the most important considerations when keeping tropical fish is whether you choose a freshwater or saltwater habitat.

Freshwater fish are typically more common and do not require expert skill to care for. These fish typically live in rivers, streams, and lakes and require a stable water source with ideal conditions that are easy to maintain.

Conversely, saltwater fish tend to have more specific needs and require more expensive equipment and ongoing care. Saltwater fish are found in the ocean, and their care requires knowledge of algae, pH balancing, and water flow in addition to expertise in monitoring water quality.

Choosing Between Freshwater and Saltwater Fish

When it comes to choosing between freshwater and saltwater fish, several considerations come into play. The first one to consider is the ease of maintaining a water source.

Saltwater fish require a constant source of freshwater, and this can be challenging to maintain for some people. Second, saltwater fish are typically more expensive to obtain, while freshwater fish are more generally available and thus more reasonably priced.

Lastly, experience level is something to consider. If you are a novice and new to the world of tropical fish, then freshwater fish are an excellent starting point.

Freshwater fish tend to be more forgiving, which is often a fantastic learning experience as the aquarist is learning more about how to care for their fish. Saltwater fish, on the other hand, require more knowledge and experience to successfully keep them alive and thriving.

Freshwater Tropical Fish Species

Now that we’ve covered some of the introductory information, let’s explore some of the most popular tropical fish species, starting with freshwater fish. Angelfish:

Angelfish are serene and graceful fish that make an excellent addition to an aquarium because of their striking and unique patterns.

They can typically be found in the Amazon Basin, and their colors are often vibrant and highly contrasted. They require a suitable tank size starting at 55 gallons with a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.


Another freshwater fish species is the Arowana. Though they are often expensive, they can still one of the most sought after and prized fish available in the aquarium trade.

Arowanas have a long-body, and they’re best kept in a tank size of 100 gallons to allow them enough space to swim freely. Their care and maintenance require experience and dedication to keep them healthy and thriving.


Barbs are energetic and schooling fish that are generally easy to care for, and they make a refreshing and active addition to any aquarium. They are a hardy species that enjoys swimming around with others of their own kind, and they require a suitable tank size starting from 15 gallons.

Betta Fish:

Betta fish are easy to find, beautiful fish with unique personalities. They have long and flowing fins and are available in many different colors.

Not only are they visually appealing, but they can also become very entertaining to watch. However, it’s essential to keep them in warm water with a somewhat consistent temperature between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Black Ghost Knifefish:

The Black Ghost Knifefish is a particular freshwater fish in that it is nocturnal, meaning it is active during the night and sleeps during the day. They eat a varied diet and require a tank size of 125 gallons to allow them enough space to swim.

These species require experience care as they are specific in terms of tank mates, filtration, and other requirements. Cichlids:

Cichlids come in colors ranging from bright yellows to exotic blues, are an engaging species, and can become aggressive.

They can be quite territorial, which means they require a large enough tank to accommodate their needs. A suitable tank size would be starting at 55 gallons for a starter couple, and the fish require good filtration, cleaning, and water changes to keep the water conditions where they need to be.

Clown Loach:

Clown Loach is a peaceful tropical fish species that enjoy schooling, and require a suitable tank size starting from 75 gallons. Although technically bottom dwellers they tend to explore much more thoroughly than average bottom-dwelling species.

Cory Catfish:

Cory Catfish are small tropical fish that are a common bottom-dweller species, often seen cleaning up leftover food and debris. They are social creatures and should be kept in schools of at least three to five fish.

They are also easy to breed, and their care and maintenance are relatively easy. They require a suitable tank size starting at 10 gallons, though a more appropriate tank size would be starting at around 20 gallons.


Discus are beautiful and colorful tropical fish that originate from South America. They have striking patterns, making them an ultimate focal point in an aquarium.

They require a tank size of at least 50 gallons, and when it comes to their care and maintenance, they require more attention to water quality, food quality, and water temperature within specific parameters to keep them thriving.


Gouramis are peaceful tropical fish species that come in an array of colors and enjoy exploring their habitat.

They are not fussy eaters and are relatively easy to care for. However, they do require a well-planted tank to thrive, and a suitable tank size starting at 20 gallons is recommended.


Commonly called “millions fish,” Guppies are known to be the perfect beginner tropical fish species. They are easy to care for and have a peaceful personality, making them an ideal addition to any aquarium.

They are live bearers, which means that they give birth to fry instead of laying eggs for them to hatch. These fish are incredibly active and colorful, and they require a suitable tank size starting at around ten gallons.

Pictus Catfish:

Pictus Catfish is a hardy tropical fish species with interesting barbels that feed on small insects, crustaceans, and fish. They require a rocky, plant-free habitat in tanks with a capacity of no less than 30 gallons.

Their maintenance is easy, making them a popular choice for novice aquarist.


Swordtails, a species belonging to the Xiphophorus family, are easy to keep tropical fish that are peaceful and thrive in a planted tank.

They come in a wide range of colors, and males have a sword-like appendage on their tails. They require a suitable tank size starting at 10 gallons and are generally fed a varied diet of flakes, frozen, and live foods.


Keeping an aquarium can be one of the most rewarding pastimes. With many tropical fish species to choose from, the decision of which ones to select is a personal choice.

It’s essential to research and be knowledgeable about the fish to sustain them in good condition. However, with the right equipment and care, many species of tropical fish make excellent additions to any aquarium.

We hope this article has provided an introduction to tropical fish, and perhaps you may consider adding one of these brilliant creatures to your aquarium.

Saltwater Tropical Fish Species

If you’re looking to add an exotic touch to your aquarium, then saltwater tropical fish are the perfect addition. These fish come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes, each with its unique characteristics.

However, some special considerations should be taken when it comes to caring for saltwater fish, mainly because these fish require specific parameters in terms of water chemistry, salinity, and temperature. In this article, we will explore a selection of saltwater tropical fish species, diving into details about their temperament, tank size, and dietary requirements.

Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or new to the hobby, read on to discover these fascinating and colorful marine creatures. Blenny:

Blennies are curious and often hilarious-looking fish, with their permanent smiles and big eyes.

They are hardy and relatively easy to care for and tend to burrow in sediment or use hiding places for safety. They adapt well to captivity and become trained to accept a varied diet of frozen and dry foods.

They require a suitable tank size starting at 20 gallons and prefer rocky habitats with hiding spots to nest and rest. Butterflyfish:

The butterflyfish is a gorgeous and fanciful tropical fish species that requires special care compared to other species and is associated with reef habitats.

They have vibrant colors, unique patterns, and are highly sought after by aquarist, making them relatively expensive to obtain. They thrive best in tanks of 125 gallons or more and should be kept with other peaceful tankmates and experts’ care due to their feeding habits and delicate balance of water quality.

Cardinal fish:

Cardinal fish species fall under the nocturnal hunters’ category, meaning they are most active at night. These fish are peaceful and enjoy hiding and seeking cover, making them an ideal addition to reef aquaria.

Some of the cardinal fish species are under the risk of extinction, so it is essential to research the specific species’ environmental impact before deciding to buy them. Cardinals require a suitable tank size starting at 20 gallons, and they prefer tanks with plenty of hiding places and live rock.


Chromis is a type of damselfish, which are usually very active and exciting to watch. They enjoy shoaling and swimming in groups, and will even care for and lay their eggs in the aquarium.

They require a specific carnivorous diet and are a little more sensitive to water quality than other damselfish species. They thrive best in tanks of 30 gallons or more, where there is plenty of live rock for them to swim through.


Clownfish are perhaps the best-known species among saltwater fish due to how they burst in popularity after the movie series “Finding Nemo” was released. These friendly and colorful fish are ideal for beginners thanks to their hardiness and playful personality, and they require at least a 30-gallon tank.

Clownfish enjoy hiding in an anemone, providing excellent color contrast and interest to an aquarium. Damselfish:

Damselfish are territorial in nature, which can make them challenging to introduce into a new tank with other fish.

While they’re generally hardy, they are known to be aggressive toward smaller fish, which means they should be paired with larger tank mates or other species that can hold their own. They require a suitable tank size starting at 30 gallons and enjoy rocky environments with plenty of hiding places for safety.


Dottybacks are hardy tropical fish species and tend to be a little introverted compared to other varieties. They show confidence in being able to hide whenever the environment gets too challenging, making them a robust and ideal candidate for a beginner aquarist.

They require a suitable tank size starting at 30 gallons with live rock in tanks, providing them with plenty of hiding spots to call home when they’re not out exploring their habitat. Firefish:

Firefish have vibrant colors and are a peaceful species commonly found in saltwater aquariums.

They are a reef-friendly fish that is exceptionally compatible with other inhabitants with their bright orange-red coloration. These fish can even be trained to eat out of their owners’ hands.

Firefish enjoy a suitable tank size of at least 20 gallons and requires an adequate amount of hiding places to nest and rest. Hawkfish:

Hawkfish are characterized by their hunting nature and fascinating perching habits.

They are known to be notoriously fussy eaters, so it’s essential to provide them with a varied diet to keep them happy and healthy. They require a specific tank size to depend on the species starting from 20 gallons to above.

Hawkfish prefer rocky environments with plenty of hiding spots and a healthy source of live rock to nest and rest.


Saltwater tropical fish species can add an incredible and unique touch to any aquarium. While they can be costly and require special care, they offer a rewarding and exciting experience for aquarists.

Each species is distinctive and requires the owner to consider the fish’s specific needs when it comes to diet, temperament, and, of course, the tank size. By conducting thorough research beforehand and being aware of the appropriate care, anyone can enjoy watching these fascinating and colorful fish thrive in their aquariums.

In summary, tropical fish species offer an immersive and rewarding experience to aquarium enthusiasts, providing therapeutic and meditative techniques, entertainment, an engaging display of colors, and unique behavior. Freshwater or saltwater, these fish require specific care and attention to thrive, providing a learning experience that can be tailored to any skill level or budget.

Thus, it is essential to research each species’ needs, water parameters, tank size, and compatibility for a successful aquarium system. Raising tropical fish species require patience, expertise and dedication, but lies great rewards.

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