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    There is nothing like an aquarium in your home to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere. A freshwater tank is a great starting point if you have never had an aquarium before.

aquarium, fish

Why Freshwater?

     Most freshwater species are not as demanding as saltwater species. For example; Freshwater species tend to be more forgiving in temperature changes within the tank and they can tolerate a wider range of dissolved oxygen(lack of O2). You still need to address them quickly but in the time it took to notice it, saltwater species may have died. Coral are especially susceptible and usually the first to be affected.  This is just another reason to start out on freshwater. 

    A freshwater tank can be a lot of fun and colorful as well. The fish tend not to be as bright or flashy since there is less variety of freshwater species to choose from. Some tropical fish can work well in freshwater such as clown loaches but again, do some research. These fish may be in a pet store 3cm big but in a proper tank, they will grow to over 1 foot in length so they are not good in a 20-gallon aquarium. However, Neons, with their bright colors can make a great addition to an tank.

Freshwater Aquarium Fish

    A freshwater tank can be a lot of fun and colorful as well. The fish tend not to be as bright or flashy since there is less of a variety of freshwater species to choose from. Some tropical fish can work well in freshwater such as clown loaches but again, do some research for the specific species you are deciding on purchasing. These fish may be in a pet store 3cm big but in a proper tank, they will grow to over 1 foot in length so they are not good in a 20-gallon aquarium. 


   Most non-predators get along in a tank easily enough given adequate space. Always make sure you have a large enough tank for the types and numbers of species you get. However, Neons, with their bright colors can make a great addition to any non-predatory freshwater aquarium.

Red and silver fish


     A lot of people are under the assumption that fish only grow to the size of their surroundings then stop and live the full duration of their lives, ie: Thier aquarium. There are multiple factors which may influence growth that you need to take into consideration. The answer is yes and no. First, the species needs to be taken into consideration and then 2nd, the size of the tank(s) and 3rd, the maximum size of the species you are considering. Other elements that come into effect are nitrate levels, quality of the water, food, etc.

Does Tank Size Limit The Size Your Fish Will Grow?

    Let's take the African Clownknife as an example of the ability to grow to a smaller environment, to a point. In the wild, the African Clownknife lives approximately 10 years and grows to a length of 1 meter/3.3 feet/40 inches. You can keep the same fish alive if you had it as a juvenile, in a 200-gallon aquarium for 10-15 years. It will, however, only grow to a length of 20 or so inches. If you kept this same fish in a 55-gallon aquarium then once it hits approx 10 inches or so, it should be transferred into a  larger tank. That's about 2 years and the consensus is that the fish will die shortly after if not moved into larger housing. This can occur within 3 years.   


      So the answer is yes and no for this species. It can survive in a  smaller tank than its natural habitat and only grow to half the size that they do in the wild. They can live just as long if not longer (Up to 15 years) in a 200-gallon aquarium. However, if the habitat is too small,  let's say a 55-gallon, it may die before maturity or shortly thereafter.

Fish Disposition (How well they get along with others)

    There are 3 types of fish demeanor. There are non-aggressive species which get along with everyone.  There are semi-aggressive species that can be aggressive under circumstances such as territory or over-population, etc. Then there are aggressive species that tend to attack or bully everything else in the tank. You need to be careful choosing tankmates for semi and aggressive species.

Great Tropical Fish For Beginners

    A quick word on the Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta Splenden). Stay away from it as a "beginner". Unless you keep it on its' own, you could be looking at issues in your tank.

Semi-Aggressive      Tropical Fish

   This type of behavior can be held in check with the proper aquarium mates, adequate room and hiding spots. These type of fish can kill other fish if certain conditions occur or poor choices of tank mates.

aquarium, fish

Common Semi-Aggressive Fish

Informative List of a Wide Variety of Tropical Species

    A comprehensive list of freshwater/tropical species with information on temperature, PH levels, traits and more. It includes beginner recommended fish as well as more advanced species.

 Aggressive Tropical Fish

     I will not post any links for any of the information I found because everything had annoying pop-ups and so many ads i could hardly find the content. I will not pass the experience onto you. The top 6 seem to be unanimous.

1)Red-Belly Piranha   

2)Red-Tail Shark  

3)Tiger Barbs               

4)Giant Danio   

5)Convict Cichlids    

6)Snakehead Fish

     Most of these you would want to keep with their own type only. Be sure to check the laws and regulations in your home area. Snakeheads are illegal in many parts of the world due to their invasive & destructive nature.

Stress & Fish Sickness/Disease


   Since most non-predators get along this leaves many options open to create a vibrant healthy community of active fish. Never over-stock it. Too many fish in a tank can cause a stressful environment even if they all have enough food. Stress leads to sickness which in turn leads to dying fish and an unhealthy environment for the remaining residents. Many things can cause stress in an aquarium. For a full list of causes and preventions, click below.

Freshwater Common Diseases

   Freshwater fish are subject to disease the same as saltwater fish are. Knowing the signs of disease can help in the treatment of it before it becomes a fatal problem and spreads through your aquarium.


     Know the signs of ick, finrot, fungus infections, fleas, skin flukes and more. The image below has a great reference chart.

fish, disease

  Click Here For Information

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     Easily the most colorful and beautiful tanks in the world capable of housing a wide variety of species all living together forming a captivating living underwater portrait. From vibrant colors to breath-taking coral, these saltwater creatures rely heavily on exacting conditions. A beginner should not choose these but if you have some experience or have researched it thoroughly and have available resources at your disposal, they are worth the effort.

saltwater, aquarium, set

   There is a danger of a power loss for a few days which would start killing off your entire tank starting with the coral. It could occur rather quickly depending on the size of your tank. Once fish start gasping for air, it means there is no more oxygen or it is extremely depleted near the bottom where your coral is and your coral has possibly already died. If you plan on starting a saltwater tank, it may be in your best interest to have something ready for back-up power when the electricity goes out. A gas generator which you can keep outside or a battery-powered inverter generator that you can run just the necessities of the aquarium. The inverter could run a pump and heater for a while. Have a plan just in case! If you travel a lot, have someone watch over your home, be sure to educate them on what to do if the power goes out.

Species Disposition

     We will go on the premise you have already set up your tank and it is now time to add fish.  The size of your tank will limit your choices. It is not necessarily true that the larger the tank, the more species you can have. If you decide on a couple of larger species than they still need adequate room when they get full grown or else they may eat and/or harass smaller species causing stress in the aquarium.


     You need to take this into account when choosing what type of fish you wish to add into your aquarium. The disposition link for peaceful, semi-aggressive and aggressive fish should be able to assist you in deciding what is best for what you wish to accomplish.

Species Disposition Con't

     With so many species to choose from it really helps to know the disposition of a fish. Is it docile? Will it get along with other fish in my aquarium? Is it aggressive? Will it kill anything I put in the tank with it? Understanding your fish's disposition will help you find suitable tank mates.

Saltwater  Fish Disposition Chart

Saltwater Aquarium Clean-Up Crew

     A clean-up crew for your saltwater aquarium is not 100% essential. However, without them, you may be doing more cleaning than you need to and they add character. You may purchase CUC packs but the individual choice for your tank is always best if you can find the species you are looking for.

         Saltwater Aquarium           Diseases & Parasites

    Saltwater tanks are susceptible to many illnesses stemming from dirty water, improper ph, lack of oxygen, introduced sickness, stress, temperature, overpopulation or lack of food. The best way to minimize chances of sickness is to do your best to prevent it as the video explains.

Tips on Fish Disease, Preventative   Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Saltwater Aquarium First-Aid For Fish

   Anyone wishing to start a saltwater aquarium should always have a spare "quarantine" aquarium set-up to isolate any sick fish in the main tank before any sickness spreads throughout your colonies, schools, etc. New fish being introduced into the main tank should also be placed into an isolation tank to monitor it for a couple of days before going into the main aquarium. This is a good way to prevent any unwanted sickness or parasites from being introduced. 

Saltwater Fish



      Coral is a symbiotic lifeform. It can only exist through a process called symbiosis. This form of evolution requires both animal life and plant life. However, since coral does not make its own food it is classed as an animal. They capture their food from the water around them and with ribbon-like tentacles and sweep it into a mouth to devour it. 

      There are 2 main types of coral. 

1) Soft coral

2) Hard coral

Coral Reef Island

      Hard coral is the type that builds reefs and they are known as "Reef builders". There are approximately 800+ of these types of coral. They have a rock hard skeleton which enables them to grow together at up to a rate of 10cm a year.

      Soft coral is much less solid than its hard coral counter type. Soft coral has a soft wood like core and soft fleshy extremities; rind like for protection. These coral grow more in colonies.

Hard or Soft Coral for Aquarium

     A few things to consider in choosing which type of coral is best suited for your aquarium tank are

1) Experience level ( Educate yourself on Palytoxin before you start a reef tank!  Click here!)

2) Food availability (Hard coral requires higher levels of calcium and minerals to help them thrive.)

3) Size

4) With soft coral, you must run carbon in your tank. They release toxins into the water as their defense mechanism which needs to be filtered out.



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Hard Coral

Image by SGR

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      Click the images below more information

How Does Coral Get Nourishment?

    There are 3 different ways which coral may get sustenance.

1) Direct feeding  

    If the coral has a mouth and tentacles as to capture its food it can be sustained with what is known as "Octopus foods". These include a variety of small pieces of shrimp, clam, squid, frozen plankton, krill or small diced fish.

2) Indirect feeding

    Uneaten food and waste products are a  source of food corals. Much of a corals diet occurs when dissolved organic compounds are absorbed directly from their environment. 

3) Photosynthesis

    This is when tiny plant-like organisms called zooxanthellae which live in the tissues of many animals, including some corals, convert light into glucose, The glucose can be converted into pyruvate which in turn creates oxygen, can produce lactate in absence of oxygen and can produce glucose itself.  This method only supplies the coral with a portion of its nutritional needs.

      Click the links below  for more information

Introducing Coral Into The Aquarium

Introducing coral into an aquarium for the first time can be very daunting.  Precautions need to be taken not only to make sure your coral lives and thrives but to make sure you do not get sick. Coral can release palytoxin which could in turn poison you. Anytime you are setting up or maintaining a reef aquarium you want to make sure to have a few precautionary measures in place to help prevent health issues.

    1) Nose & Mouth Protector (Mask): Help to prevent inhaling any palytoxins while handling                        coral or doing maintenance. 

    2) Watertight & Waterproof Rubber GlovesUse whenever touching or moving coral to prevent                any palytoxin infections through your skin via a previous cut or an unforeseen cut that occurs                when you touch the coral.

    3) Eye ProtectionA safety precaution in case dirty water or coral secretion accidentally gets                      into your eye(s).

    4) Adequate VentilationAir flow and venting throughout the area you are working in is highly                  recommended. This helps to prevent any build-up of palytoxin particles in the room. Without              adequate ventilation or air exchanging, these toxins can easily drift room to room throughout              your home and get other people or animals sick and even worse. The effects of palytoxin                      poisoning can be lethal.

    5) Carbon Filter: Prevention and control of palytoxin within a reef tank can be controlled with a                carbon filter among other things. 

Maintaining Coral & Keeping it Healthy

     Weekly maintenance at the minimum is highly recommended to help keep the tank healthy. Multiple checks a week are encouraged to prevent varied fluctuations in salinity levels, nitrates & more. Proper care of your saltwater aquarium requires dedication and time. 

Cautions To Prevent Human Illness

  • Be aware that fish and their aquariums may carry germs.

    • Wash your hands before and after cleaning or maintaining the aquarium or aquarium water. Plan to wear gloves when working with rough rocks or spiny fish to avoid injury.

  • If you have any cuts or wounds on your hands, wear gloves or wait until your wounds are fully healed before working with your fish or aquarium water to avoid possible infection.

  • Avoid cleaning fish aquariums in areas where people with weak immune systems may be affected.

  • Don’t allow children younger than 5 years of age or people with weak immune systems to clean aquariums.

  • Don’t use kitchen sinks to dump aquarium water into or to wash aquariums. If you use a bathtub to dump aquarium water into or to wash aquariums, clean the tub thoroughly afterward, and use a commercial disinfectant like bleach according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not mix bleach with other cleaners, especially ammonia.


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