Things you might need
- Fish Tank
- Water Hardness Test Kit
- Food – flakes, pellets and live or frozen food
- Pet City Water Conditioner
- Pet City Purer Water
- PH Test Kit
- Neutraliser Blocks
- Gravel Cleaner
- Aqua Salt
- Fish Net
Tropical fish include fish found in tropical environments around the world, including both freshwater and salt water species, to better define Tropical fish, those of the salt water species are referred to as Marine fish. In this section we are featuring Tropical freshwater fish. Tropical freshwater fish are popular as aquarium fish, due to their diversity and often bright coloration, however, they can be quite difficult to maintain. Water quality, temperature, feeding and health are all significant factors to consider when caring for tropical fish. These fish are best suited to experienced and dedicated aquarists.
About Tropical Fish
Tropical freshwater fish require the tank’s water conditions to be calibrated specifically to suit the species that is being introduced. A good filtration system needs to be cultured with appropriate organisms to assist with a suitable water environment. It is imperative to get expert advice and learn what water parameters the fish were in and calibrate your tank accordingly. As well as a layer of gravel or sand, you can add driftwood, plants, rocks and other appropriate ornaments that replicate the Tropical freshwater fish’s natural habitat. In order to keep them healthy, you will need to feed them a varied diet, along with flakes and pellets including brine shrimp, blood worms, white bait and prawn pieces provide a good mix.
Popular Varieties Of Tropical Fish
Angels are one of the best known tropical aquarium fish, with their long trailing fins and graceful manner. They are excellent aquarium fish and the huge array of selectively bred colour forms existing today is a testament to their popularity. Angels are not fussy about water conditions and eat most fish foods. They look best in a small group, and can be kept with most community aquariums; the only exceptions being very lively fish e.g. Tiger Barbs which may nip the Angels long fins, and fish such as small Neon Tetras which may be preyed upon by adult Angels. Related to Cichlids and native to the Amazon River in South America, Angels grow to about 11-14cm in length, with their total height normally greater than their length. Some varieties such as the veil tail can grow even larger.
Silver – The silver angelfish sports the colouration of the wild angelfish. It has a silver body with red eyes. Three vertical black stripes adorn the side. These stripes fade or darken depending on the mood of the fish.
Veil and Super Veil – The veiltail gene causes all of the finnage to be longer and more flowing. A fish with one veiltail gene is called a veiltail, and one with two has even more elaborate fins and is called a super veil. A veiltail bred to a standard fin will produce half of each type, while a super veil bred to a standard will produce all veiltail offspring.
Black and Black Lace – The first colour mutation in captivity was the dark gene. A fish with one dark gene is called a black lace. The entire body is darkened, and there is a very attractive lace pattern in the fins. A fish with two dark genes is called a black, double black, or double dark angel and is nearly completely black, though faint barring can be seen in some strains or in the right light.
Zebra – The zebra angelfish is similar to the silver, but it has four to six vertical stripes. If a zebra has one dark gene, it is called a zebra lace and is a darkened version of the zebra, also with beautiful lacing on the fins. (A double dark zebra looks like a regular double dark.)
Gold – Gold angelfish have no black markings, and the base colour is a yellow-gold. They often have considerable yellow or orange markings on the face, head, and back.
Marble – In marble angelfish the silver and black markings are marbled rather than in stripes. The fish can be lightly or heavily marbled.
Gold Marble – A different gene causes the gold marble colouration, which is a more gold than silver and has only a small amount black marbling compared to a regular marble angelfish.
Blushing – The blushing trait removes the dark bars and causes the gill covers to be translucent in young fish. The bright red gills showing through explain the “blushing” name. As the fish mature, their gill covers become opaque, however. A silver blushing is all-over silver with the red “cheeks,” and these often show considerable blue iridescence and are sometimes called blue angels or German blues. A gold blushing is all-over gold with the blushes.
Platinum Angels – The newest mutation in angelfish is the gene known officially as Philippine blue. They display traits not seen in angelfish and are truly gorgeous. A particularly popular strain is the pearlscale platinum, whose iridescent body looks metallic.
Koi and Sunset – A gold marble blushing is called a koi angelfish. Originally they had red-orange on their heads, but strains have been developed in which the red-orange pigment is displayed on the entire body and into the fins. A gold blushing fish with a prominent orange crown is called a sunset angel.
Half-Black – In the half-black angel, the back half of the fish is solid black. The front half is like that of a silver. This trait can be affected by environmental conditions, so fish that are genetically half-blacks can appear as silvers if their rearing conditions were less than ideal.
Pearlscale – Pearlscale is a scale mutation and can occur on any colour angelfish. It produces a finely crinkled tinfoil appearance to the scales and is much more visible on light fish than on darker ones. Most people prefer, say, an albino pearlscale to a black pearlscale.
Albino – Albino angelfish lack dark pigments, but may retain yellow or red pigments. In the right light you will see a white-on-white effect that shows the bars. The eye pupils are pink/red as in all other types of albino animals. Albinos do not produce any dark pigments and therefore show a white to yellow body.
The Tetra species originate from subtropical and tropical areas of Africa and South America, typically from tropical rainforest rivers and streams. Many species tend to have a silver coloured background to their body over which splashes of iridescent colours occur. There are a huge variety of colours such as the iridescent red and blues of Neon and Cardinal Tetras with the fins displaying many variations of colour and pattern.
Neon Tetra – Neon Tetras are easily the most popular of all tropical fish with their amazing colour and peaceful schooling nature. They prefer soft slightly acidic water, and water temperatures about 20-24 C, but can tolerate other conditions as long as extremes are avoided. They look great at any time, but particularly when kept in planted aquaria in large schools. Do not keep them with large fish, as Neons only grow to 3.5cm.
Black Widow Tetra – This darked hue tetra is one of many small peaceful tetras, ideal for the community aquarium. They like plenty of open swimming space with some plant thickets for security. They grow to about 5cm.
Lemon Tetras – One of the many small peaceful tetras, ideal for the community aquarium. They like plenty of open swimming space with some plant thickets for security. Feeding colour-enchancing foods rich in natural carotenoids will help promote their body colour, it can be yellow to almost orange in optimum conditions. These fish grow to 4-4.5cm.
Head and Tail Lights Tetra – An active and undemanding tetra, Head and Tail Lights are an ideal beginner’s fish. They prefer a planted aquarium with plenty of open swimming space and look best when kept in a school. All standard foods are readily eaten. Maximum size is 4-5cm.
Gold Tetra – These wild caught tetras from South America have an unusual appearance as if coated in gold dust. The gold pigment is due to the fish’s skin reacting to a skin parasite which is present in its natural habitat. (This does not pose a health risk to the tetra or its tankmates.) Interestingly, captive bred Gold Tetras do not develop the gold pigmentation like their wild caught parents. A peaceful community fish, which can grow to 5cm.
Glowlight Tetra – With a bright red stripe, Glowlights are a very popular tetra, an ideal companion for Neon Tetras and other peaceful fishes. Hardy and easily cared for, they look best in a school in a dark bottomed tank. Maximum size is about 4cm.
Emperor Tetra – This is a very popular, graceful looking tetra, native to Colombia. Mature males are easily determined by their blue eyes and longer fins. Best kept in a planted aquarium with other peaceful species, it is not unusual to have self-sustaining populations in heavily planted aquaria. Maximum size is about 5cm.
Black Phantom Tetra – Light grey in colouring, with a black patch, surrounded by iridescent silver edging. The male’s fins are black with females displaying fins that are reddish in colour. Maximum size is 4.5cm.
Buenos Aires Tetra – Being native to sub-tropical regions of southern Brazil and Argentina, this hardy tetra will tolerate lower temperatures than most commonly kept tetras. A robust and active species growing to 8-9cm, it sometimes nips the fins of slow moving tankmates. Best kept in a school with other hardy species.
Congo Tetra – These African Tetras are all extremely hardy and go well in community aquaria. In general these fish grow to a massive size in the region of 10cm.
Cardinal Tetra – The cardinal tetra’s appearance is similar to that of the closely related neon tetra, with which it is often confused; the neon’s red colouration extends only about halfway to the nose, and the neon’s blue stripe is a less vibrant blue. Maximum size is 3cm.
Flame Tetra – The rear half of the body is flame red while the area in front of the dorsal fin is silver crossed by two dark vertical bars. All the fins are red except for the pectoral fins, which are colourless. The tip of the rear fin on the male is black, while on the female the fins have less red colouration but darker tips of the pectoral fins. Maximum size is 4cm.
Glass Bloodfin Tetra – This is an active schooling tetra, usually seen swimming in the top half of the aquarium. They are fairly adaptable to varying water conditions, including moderately hard alkaline water. With their transparent bodies and bright red tails, the Glass Bloodfin makes an interesting addition to any community aquaria containing similar sized peaceful species. Grows to 5-6cm.
Platy fish are small live-bearing fish that are immensely popular for the aquarium, they are colourful, peaceful, breed readily making them very easy to look after. There are two original species, the southern platy fish and the variatus platy, that have been interbred to the point where they are difficult to distinguish. Most platies now sold in aquariums are hybrids of both species. Males of both Platy types grow to about 4.5-5cm, females grow slightly larger to 5-6cm. They eat most standard fish foods and are not particularly fussy about water conditions, however they do prefer neutral or alkaline water of moderate hardness rather than soft acidic water.
Mickey Mouse Platy – With a distinctive “Mickey Mouse” pattern at the base of the tail, this variety has been bred in many colours and is one of the more popular varieties.(Also known as the Moonfish or the Southern Platyfish)
Red Platy – One of the earliest colour strains developed, the Red platy is still a very popular fish with its vibrant red colour.
Red Wagtail Platy – A bright red body and jet black fins ensure the Wagtail Reds enduring popularity.
Speartail Play – One of several varieties with specialized fin development, the middle rays of the tail are elongated. (Also known as Plumetail Platy)
Hi Fin Platy – With a tall dorsal fin, this variety is quite distinctive compared to normal finned Platies.
Glowlight Platies – Glowlight Platies have become popular favourites, with their very bright colours.
Sharks are one of the most popular species of tropical fish and make a great addition to most community Aquariums. Most sharks are skilled jumpers, it is important to keep their aquarium well covered with a secure lid (particularly for the first few days after you receive them).
Silver Sharks – One of the most popular of tropical fishes, Silver Sharks are ideal community fish, hardy and easy to care for. This species is not a true shark, but is commonly so called because of its torpedo-shaped body and large fins. Contrary to popular belief, they are quite peaceful even with smaller species. They are capable of growing to about 30cm, but usually grow to less than 20cm.
The Black Shark – A hardy robust species, quite easy to care for. They can be territorial, particularly towards their own kind, so provide some hiding places. Most standard aquarium foods are readily eaten, and they are not fussy about water conditions. Tank mates can be any hardy medium to large species such as large Gouramies and Barbs.
Siamese Flying Fox Shark – Distinguished by the characteristic black mid-lateral stripe running all the way through the tail. It grows to a maximum size of approximately 14cm. This species is renowned for its ability to consume hair algae.
Rainbow Shark – This is a very popular Shark with bright colours and an active manner. A good community fish, they occasionally can be territorial – usually towards their own kind, so provide some hiding places. Easy to care for, Rainbow Sharks can grow to 12-14cm.
Golden Shark – The albino form of rainbow shark is a very attractive fish with its golden body and red fins. A good community fish, they occasionally can be territorial – usually towards their own kind, so provide some hiding places. Easy to care for, Golden Sharks can grow to 12-14cm.
Red Tail Shark – The contrasting colours of an adult Red Tail Black Shark’s bright red tail and jet black body and fins are quite stunning. Red Tail Sharks are very hardy and they grow to a maximum size of about 12cm.
Gouramies include some of the most colourful of freshwater aquarium fishes. Most types are hardy, peaceful and very easy to care for. They also have an active and decorative manner, all this making them popular sellers. These fishes are also known as Labyrinth fish. They regularly rise to the surface to take a gulp of air and can gradually absorb the oxygen from it by means of an extra breathing organ called the labyrinth organ. This allows them to survive in waters with low oxygen levels, such as in very warm swampy areas. Many Gouramies also have long thin pelvic fins that are efficiently used as feelers.
Male Neon Dwarf Gourami – The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami has a bright iridescent sheen to its body, more prominent in the male. The colouration of the male is a vivid turquoise blue with orange-red stripes. Males grow to about 6cm.
Coral Blue Dwarf Gourami – The beautiful Coral Blue Dwarf Gourami, with its iridescent light blue colour. Males grow to about 6cm.
Honey Dwarf Gourami – The males of the Honey Gourami become deep gold in the breeding period with a dark blue underside. Colour variants include the Red Honey Gourami and Gold Gourami. Very hardy, they are best kept in a small group with similar sized fish such as Tetras, they can be shy if kept with much larger tank mates. Maximum size is about 4.5cm.
Three Spot Gourami – The third spot being the eye, is probably the hardiest of the commonly kept Gouramies. They are not fussy about water conditions or diet, even happily tolerating slightly cooler temperatures (18-20 C). Both sexes are very similar in appearance; mature males have longer more pointed dorsal fins. Alternatively known as the Blue Gourami, it is very easy to care for and grows to 10-12cm. Several different coloured aquarium strains are available, all quite popular.
Kissing Gourami – A popular variety, with their pink-white bodies and strange habit of sometimes “kissing” each other (actually a territorial dispute). Very hardy, they accept most water conditions and have healthy appetites – they should receive at least 2-3 daily feeds and will also graze on algae. In nature they grow to 25-30cm, but in the aquarium they remain smaller, often less than 15cm.
Moonlight Gourami – One of the larger gouramies, this species has a very peaceful nature and is a very good community fish. Both sexes are virtually identical with a lovely moonlight sheen; mature males have red “feelers” and become slightly more colourful. It is not fussy about water conditions and readily eats most fish foods. Maximum size is about 15cm.
Opaline Gourami – A very nice aquarium strain of the Three Spot Gourami, with variable light and dark blue marbling. One of the hardiest of the gouramies, they are not fussy about water conditions or diet, even tolerating slightly cooler temperatures (18-20 C). Both sexes are very similar in appearance; mature males have longer more pointed dorsal fins. Maximum size is 10-12cm.
Platinum Gourami – An aquarium strain of the Three Spot Gourami, very similar in appearance to the popular Gold Gourami, except in a lovely platinum-white version. One of the hardiest of the gouramies, they are not fussy about water conditions or diet, even tolerating slightly cooler temperatures (18-20 C). Both sexes are very similar in appearance; mature males have longer more pointed dorsal fins. Maximum size is 10-12cm.
Striped Gourami – A larger cousin of the Dwarf Gourami, the Striped Gourami is native to India and grows to 10cm. This is a hardy species, not fussy about water conditions or diet. Both sexes have broad slanted stripes, the males becoming more colourful as they mature.
The ghost knifefish are a family, Apteronotidae, of ray-finned fishes in the order Gymnotiformes. These fish can be found in the freshwater of Panama and South America. They are distinguished from other gymnotiform fishes by the presence of a caudal fin (all other families lack a caudal fin) as well as a fleshy dorsal organ represented by a longitudinal strip along the dorsal midline. Ghost Knife fish are nocturnal. They are a weakly electric fish which use an electric organ and receptors distributed over the length of their body in order to locate insect larvae. Commonly available is the Black Ghost Fish but they are also found in Brown, Grey and Glass varieties.
Please Note: It is not possible to feature all varieties and species of Tropical fish available, if you are looking for a certain fish species please ask our staff at your local Pet City Store – Pet City staff are trained to assist you with providing aquarium and fish advice.
For information regarding Barbs and Danios please refer to our Temperate fish section.
Caring for your new Tropical Fish
- Setting up your aquarium
- Heating and Lighting
- Gravel and Rocks
This page is a just a basic guide. To find out more about your pet, please ask Pet City about suitable books.