Something Fishy

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AQUARIUMS: Tropical freshwater fish profiles

I recently rediscovered a childhood hobby of mine, that being the joys and wonders of maintaining an aquarium of freshwater tropical fish species. It really is a therapeutic experience watching them swim about and do as fish do. I wanted to share what I’ve found regarding my fishy room-mates with anyone who has a similar interest in aquatic life. Here’s what I have in my tank.

Dwarf Gourami:Dwarf Gourami

  • Size: 8cm (3 inches)
  • Life span: 3 – 4 years
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Middle to top
  • Origin/Habitat: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • Breeding: Can be difficult. They build bubble nests for their eggs.
  • Temperament: Mostly peaceful and hardy. Good fish for beginners.
  • Diet: Will eat flakes, freeze dried and live foods. Best to vary their diet.
  • Gender: Easy to determine. The male is more colorful while females are usually more gray in colour.

Originating in the warm waters of India, the Dwarf Gourami is not only beautiful but can be particularly hardy as well. They are generally peaceful creatures and make a great addition to a fully cycled community tank and are easy to care for.

Black Ghost Knife:

  • Black Ghost KnifeTemperature: 24 – 28°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Size: Grow up to 50cm (20 inches) but will only grow up to a foot in a small tank.
  • Origin/Habitat: Amazon River basin in South America
  • Diet: Besides beefheart, Black Ghost Knife Fish will accept frozen bloodworms, shrimp pellets, brine shrimp and tubifex worms.
  • Special characteristics: After the Black Ghost Knife is accustomed to its tank, it can develop a strong relationship with its owner. Owners are known to hand-feed their Black Ghost Knife fish beefheart. Additionally, owners are able to pet and stroke the fish, and the fish will actually run through its owner’s hands.

The Black Ghost Knife is known for its flowing movement and unique body shape. They are similar to a graceful, rippling black curtain as they swim through an aquarium. Due to having poor eyesight, the Ghost Knife species have developed electrical organs that allow them to send out electric pulses to navigate through water. Aquarists should avoid placing other fish species that use similar electric navigation in the same tank as their electrical pulses may interfere with each other – confusing themselves in the aquarium.

Julii Cory (also known as Leopard Catfish or Armoured Catfish)

  • Julii CorysSize: 5 – 6cm (2 – 2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
  • Tank Region: Bottom
  • Temperature: 23 to 26°C
  • Origin/Habitat: Lower Amazon River and coastal rivers in northeastern Brazil
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Breeding: Not impossible but can be difficult in a home aquarium (similar to other species of cory)
  • Gender: Females are often larger and have rounder bellies than males.
  • Diet: Not a fussy easter. Accepts flake foods, algae wafers, Cory pellets, shrimp pellets, insects, benthic crustaceans and most types of worms and vegetable matter.

The Julii Cory is probably the most popular Corydora species. They are very pretty and active little creatures that co-exist very peacefully with other tropical fish. They thrive in tanks that best replicate their natural Amazonian environment. A soft river substrate with a few branches of driftwood and a handful of leaves is ideal, but not essential. Most importantly, keep your tank well maintained as Corys are very sensitive to deteriorating water conditions. Ensure that your substrate is kept scrupulously clean as these cats can lose their barbels if kept in poor conditions.

Bronze Corydora

  • Bronze CorydoraSize: 6cm (2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
  • Tank Region: Bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: South America
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Breeding: Can be difficult in the home aquarium.
  • Gender: Females are larger and rounder than the males of the same age.
  • Diet: Bottom feeder, they will scavenge around the tank looking for scraps. Supplement their diet with sinking foods such as wafers.

Bronze Corys are one of the most popular fish in the tropical fish community because of its extreme peacefulness and its habit of constantly hovering the aquarium floor to find food. They should be kept in groups of five or more as they love each other’s company. It is part of the Bronze Cory’s nature to occasioanlly shoot up to the top of the tank to grab some air.

Clown Loach

  • Clown LoachSize: 30cm (12 inches)
  • Temperature: 24°C – 29°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Gender: Difficult to determine
  • Tank Region: Mostly the bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: Borneo, Sumatra
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful
  • Diet: Will accept many types including flakes, freeze dried and live foods

Another favorite in the tropical fish world, the Clown Loach can live for a very long time, often 10 years or more if given good water conditions. They can be comical at times – often found laying on their side. Provide plenty of hiding spaces for your Clown Loach for they can become quite shy at times.

Red Tail Shark

  • Red Tail SharkSize: Up to 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 26°C
  • Lifespan: 5 – 8 years
  • Gender: Larger females have a grayer stomach whereas the males are solid black.
  • Tank Region: Middle and bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: Thailand
  • Temperament/Behavior: These fish can be hostile but seem to behave just fine when kept with larger fish.
  • Diet: Omnivorous scavenger that will happily accept flake foods.

Quite a solidary creature, the Red Tailed Shark is happiest when alone. They can become quite territorial and aggressive towards other shark species so best to just keep one of these fish in any one tank. When grouped with others, the largest shark will most likely become the dominant fish and chase the others relentlessly. Provide your shark with several hiding places (plants will suffice) to help make them feel safe and secure. It’s also recommended to have a tight fitting lid as this fish species are also known to be excellent jumpers!


  • AngelfishLifespan: 8 – 10 years
  • Size: Up to 15cm (6 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 29°C
  • Tank Region: Mostly middle
  • Origin/Habitat: Amazon River
  • Breeding: Egg layers. Fairly easy to breed
  • Gender: No noticeable difference except at breeding time
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive eaters and may become territorial while breeding.
  • Diet: Usually very good eaters, they will take flakes, pellets, freeze dried (blood worms, brine shrimp) and especially live foods.

The freshwater Angelfish is a very popular tropical fish because of its unique shape and because of their interesting personalities. Angelfish are aggressive eaters and will go to the top of the tank when they see you approach. Angelfish are curious about their environment and can become very territorial.

Fancy Goldfish

  • GoldfishLifespan: 10 – 30 years
  • Temperature: 5°C – 27°C
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Size: 8-13 cm (3-5 inches) but can get bigger
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept most fish foods
  • Origin/Habitat: China originally, then Japan and Asia
  • Breeding: Lay their eggs on vegetation on the bottom of the tank
  • Gender: Males have small white spots called tubercles around their gills when ready to spawn. Females are noticeably larger when swelling with eggs and the males may start to chase the females around the tank.

The Goldfish is a favorite for many. They are usually very hardy – capable of living in temperatures ranging from 4°C – 32°C. Being Chinese, Goldfish have extremely long lifespans if cared for properly, so getting one can become a long-term commitment. Many varieties of Goldfish are available with varied markings. Fancy varieties and colors include gold, orange, white and black.

Pearl Gourami

  • Pearl GouramiSize: 13cm (5 inches)
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Middle and top
  • Breeding: Bubble nest builder
  • Lifespan: 3 – 4 years and longer
  • Origin/Habitat: Asia, Thailand, Indonesia
  • Diet: This is not a picky fish. They will eat flakes just as quickly as they’ll eat live and frozen foods.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Mostly peaceful but they may scrap with other gouramis. Males seem to be more aggressive than females.
  • Gender: Relatively easy to determine. The male has a longer dorsal fin and will develop a red breast, which becomes more visible at spawning time.

Pearl Gouramis are a very attractive fish with tons of tiny white “pearl” shapes dotting its body and a horizontal black bar that running down its length. Pearls also have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath atmospheric oxygen. The labyrinth organ evolved in species that frequently found themselves in low oxygenated water. You will frequently see Gouramis come to the surface for gulps of air. Pearl Gouramis need to obtain oxygen from both the water and the air to survive.

Glass Catfish

  • Glass catfishSize: 10cm (4 inches)
  • Temperature: 21°C – 26°C
  • Lifespan: 3 – 4 years and longer
  • Tank Region: Middle near a water flow
  • Gender: Almost impossible to determine
  • Origin/Habitat: Borneo, Sumatra, and Thailand
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful yet very timid
  • Breeding: They are egglaying fish, but so far breeding them in captivity has not been successfully recorded.
  • Diet: Strongly prefer live foods but will learn to eat freeze-dried, frozen food (thaw it first), and flakes.

You should keep at least two Glass Catfish together in your aquarium and preferably a few more. This is a shoaling fish that does not survive in a tank without other members of its own species. A solitary Glass Catfish can actually die of lonliness. You should provide plenty of plants in your aquarium for these fish so that they feel safe. They are very shy and will fare much better if they have plenty of hiding places.

Banded Kuhli Loach

  • Banded Kuhli LoachSize: 7 – 10cm (3-4 inches)
  • Temperature: 24°C – 30°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Tank Region: Bottom of the tank – usually under something
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept most fish foods
  • Origin/Habitat: Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Java, and Singapore
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful fish that should only be kept with other peaceful fish, and one or two of its own species.
  • Gender: Females are fuller bodied than the males when they are filled with eggs, otherwise males and females look very similar.
  • Breeding: Egglaying fish but rarely spawn in the aquarium. When they do spawn they scatter large green eggs among the aquarium plants.

The Kuhli Loach It is an eel-like fish that usually has alternating light and dark bands on its scaleless body. They look more like snakes than fish, and you will often find them hanging from plants and other objects in the tank. Kuhli loaches are nocturnal fish that spend most of the day hiding under plants or rocks. It is best to provide caves and plants in their tank for them to hide in during the day. In fact, if you provide your Kuhli Loaches with a cave to hide in you are more likely to see them. Kuhlis like to congregate in groups, so you should keep at least three kuhli loaches together in your tank to keep them happy.

Black Moor

  • Black MoorLifespan: 10 – 30 years
  • Size: 10 – 25cm (4 – 10 inches)
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Origin/Habitat: Central Asia and China
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful and a great community fish
  • Breeding: Egg layers that spawn readily in the right conditions
  • Temperature: Very hardy. Can tolerate temperatures close to freezing
  • Diet: A very happy eater – it is not difficult to get your Black Moor Goldfish into accepting all kinds of food.
  • Gender: Although is it impossible to sex Goldfish when they are young and not in breeding season, the male is usually smaller and more slender that the female.

The Black Moor is a type of goldfish that has a beautiful velvety look and bulging, telescope-resembling eyes. Most Black Moors stay black but their color can change with age, ranging from gray to black, or they can revert to a metallic orange when kept in warmer water. Since their eye-sight is far from perfect, they may need a little extra help to find their food.

Goldfish generally produce a lot of waste, so good filtration is essential for maintaining the water quality of the aquarium. Regular, weekly water changes is strongly recommended to keep these fish healthy. Goldfish are very social animals and thrive in a community. Not only are they a great community fish but they are great scavengers as well. Provide a large gravel substrate to keep your Goldfish occupied and they will help keep your tank clean.

Blue Ramirezi (Blue Ram)

  • Blue RamireziLifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 – 6 cm (2.5 inches)
  • Temperature: 25°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Origin/Habitat: South American Rivers (Comlumbia and Venezuela)
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladyly accept flakes or pellets but supplementing their diet with frozen foods such as blood worms or brine shrimp is recommended. May also enjoy fresh green vegetables (e.g: spinach, cucumbers and peas).
  • Breeding: Breeding Blue Rams is typically easy. Males and females will often pair up, especially when they grow up together in the same tank.
  • Gender: Males tend to have a longer, more pointed dorsal fin. Females tend to be smaller in size and have a red or orange hue on their pelvis.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful and a bit on the timid side. Can be safely kept with other Rams or non aggressive community fish such as silver dollars, plecos, corys or tetras.

The Ramirezi is both a colurful and characterful little fish. They are typically on full display with all their fins up and can bedazzle one when caught in the right light. The bonds that form between males and females is something special if you wish to breed Blue Rams. Provide lots of vegetation (green plants) for your Rams to feel safe and secure (as they can be quite shy) and you’ll notice them getting braver and embarking on bigger explorations around your tank.

Pleco (Algae Eater)

  • Pleco Algae EaterLifespan: 10 – 15 years
  • Size: up to 46cm (18 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Bottom and sides of tank
  • Origin/Habitat: Central and South America
  • Diet: Herbivore. Try to supplement their diet with algae wafers.
  • Breeding: It can be very difficult to breed them in a home aquarium.
  • Gender: There are no visible differences between the male and female.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive toward others of the same species.

Algae Eaters are very popular because of their skill in keeping tanks clean. They are excellent scavengers that suck up much of the dirt on the bottom of the tank. If you have ornaments in the aquarium you will find the fish attach itself to them in all different hanging positions. When they are first introduced into the aquarium, they find their own spot that they will call home where they can rest. Driftwood is a great addition to include in the tank if you have Algae Eaters.

Fire Eel

  • Fire EelTemperature: 24°C – 27°C
  • Tank Region: Mostly bottom
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years and longer
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful but may hunt new, unsuspecting small fish
  • Size: Can grow up to a metre in length (roughly 40 inches) if housed in a large enough tank
  • Gender: Distinguishing between the sexes can be difficult, but a mature female is usually plumper than the male.
  • Origin/Habitat: Found in floods and streams in India, Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma.
  • Breeding: Very hard, but not impossible. The female lays roughly 800 to 1200 translucent eggs on floating plants.
  • Diet: A carnivore. Live foods such as earthworms and black worms are the best diet but frozen blood worms will suffice.

The Fire Eel is a nocturnal predator best suited to a large aquarium. A soft substrate is necessary for this fish as they love to burrow. This may uproot plants and rearrange decorations so it is often best to provide a dark cave for your Fire Eel. At first, a Fire Eel is usually very shy and prefers to come out only at night, but if you provide your Fire Eel with an aquarium setup that makes it feel safe, it can become quite an affectionate fish and learn to eat food out your hand. A tight lid should be used for any long, slender fish, as they will often try to escape from the aquarium. The Fire Eel should be kept with fish of similar size or larger, and will not tolerate its own kind. Be warned that if you add new small fish to the setup it will happily devour the newcomers.

Monodactylus (Fingerfish)

  • Monodactylus - FingerfishLifespan: 8 – 10 years
  • Size: up to 23cm (9 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 27°C
  • Tank Region: All over the tank
  • Origin/Habitat: Australia and the Red Sea
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will eat flakes, frozen and freeze-dried foods, and live foods
  • Gender: Sexing Fingerfish is difficult as males and females look identical.
  • Breeding: There have been no reports of successful breeding of Fingerfish in the home aquarium.
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally a peaceful fish but may become aggresive towards other peaceful species when they grow up.

If you plan on keeping monos in your aquarium you will need a large one. Monos are shoaling fish so you need to have a large enough tank to house at least 4-6 of them. Monos are fast, energetic swimmers and grow large enough to eat smaller fish. They also frighten easily so you shouldn’t keep them with aggressive fish. They are very hardy – capable of living in both saltwater and freshwater.

Related post: A beginners guide to keeping tropical fish

For more fish profiles here are some great aquatic resources

5 responses to “Something Fishy

  1. If you keep tropical fish yourself and have any extra info regarding the above species please do share with everyone

  2. this is a good website but could have a wider variety of fish such as it could include the fan tail fish

  3. Thanks for the comment hannah. The above post could include a wider variety of fishes but this is not a fish website – these are merely the fish that I keep myself 🙂

    I’m trying to encourage others to add to the list by commenting below…

  4. Which one is Lenny Boy?

  5. Leonard is a Golden or Balloon Ram – a relative of the more colourful Blue Ram. There wasn’t much info on the former, which makes him even more special! 🙂

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