A Guide To The Kinds Of Fish You Can Keep As A Pet

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Fish have been kept by humans for thousands of years. Although they have historically been kept as a food source, people began to keep fish on masse for pleasure in the 19thCentury in Asia. There are isolated incidents of ancient people keeping fish as well in some cultures. Some ancient Egyptians were known to keep fish for pleasure as well as food.

A Guide To The Kinds Of Fish You Can Keep As A Pet

Fish are a great pleasure to keep. They are beautiful, hypnotic, and can be immensely calming to watch, but even having an aquarium with items in it can be soothing to look at. Fish are also fascinating creatures – and not just for their beauty. They display interesting behaviors and can facilitate learning and biological understanding as they grow.

Not all fish are suitable for beginner aquarium keepers. Some aquatic animals require extremely specific conditions in order to thrive. Beginners should focus on low-maintenance fish so that they can learn the ropes. This article lists some of the most popular pet fish. Both saltwater and freshwater animals are included. If you are in any doubt about the salinity and PH that your fish needs, consult an aquatic store or vet.

Koi Carp

Koi carp are specially bred varieties of amur carp that have deliberately been bred for their beauty. Amur carp have been kept in Asia as a food source for over a millennium, but the use of these carp as a decorative pet is fairly recent. The breeding of koi carp for decorative purposes began in Niigata, Japan, in the 19th Century. During this time, aestheticism was an extremely important part of Japanese culture. In 1830, the first red koi was bred, and an explosion of differing breeds followed.

Koi breeding was restricted to the area around Niigata until 1914 when Niigata koi were displayed at an international exhibition in Tokyo. This led to the spread of koi keeping in Japan and eventually around the world. Many koi enthusiasts still practice the keeping and breeding of these beautiful fish. Koi keepers come from all walks of life, but the pastime is generally more popular among people with a bit of disposable income. This might explain why it ranks among the hobbies of Mike Savage New Canaan – the CEO of a successful accounting firm. Savage describes his fish as ‘poetic creatures’. This is not an unusual sentiment expressed by koi keepers, who tend to spend hours meditating on the beauty of their fish.

When importing koi or breeding them, it is important not to release them into any local streams or rivers. They have been known to become an invasive species in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Flower Horn

The flower horn is a kind of cichlid fish that has origins in South America. It is one of the most distinctive-looking fish that you can keep at home. Its main distinguishing feature is undoubtedly the large, bulbous mass that grows on its forehead. This bulbous mass is known as a nuchal hump or Kok and is more prominent in male fish. The nuchal hump is thought to play a part in sexual selection, although intensive human breeding efforts have meant that almost all store-bought flower horns have large humps. The Kokis also thought to contain useful liquids.

Flower horns can be quite aggressive when housed with other kinds of fish. For this reason, careful research should be undertaken to see which kinds of animals would be good tankmates with a newly arrived flower horn. Flower horns prefer to live with other fish of the same species. If you feel like adding another kind of fish in, make sure that it is big enough not to get bullied by the often brash flower horn. Suckermouth catfish are powerful enough to make sure that a flower horn will behave appropriately when in company.

Angel Fish

Angel Fish are small, beautiful fish that thrive in fresh water. They are considered to be one of the easiest aquarium fish to keep as pets and can be a great introduction to the world of aquarium fish ownership.

Freshwater angel fish originate in South America – where they are common in the Amazon Basin. They need water that replicates the Amazonian conditions that they once called home: sandy river bed and particle-rich water. Angel fish life a long time. A well-looked after freshwater angel fish can life from 10-12 years. If you cannot look after your angel fish, contact a local aquarium center or pet rehoming service Freshwater fish have the potential to become invasive species if they are released into sewers, lakes or slow-moving rivers in the United States.


Swordtail fish are a common sight in American home aquariums due to their beauty and low maintenance costs. These small freshwater fish will happily breed in captivity, which makes keeping a breeding pair something of a gamble. The males of this species can be distinguished by their long, protruding caudal fin. This fin is often longer than the rest of their body and is a form of sexual dimorphism that has evolved in order to facilitate the positive natural selection in the fish. Due to their willingness to crossbreed, swordtail fish are available in a huge range of stunning colors. The average lifespan of this fish is around 3 to 5 years – making it an excellent beginner type.

Neon Tetra

The neon tetra is a very small fish – measuring no longer than 1.5 inches. It might not be the biggest fish, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. The neon tetra has been described as the ‘jewel’ of many small aquarium setups. From the very tip of its nose to the end of its fin, a neon tetra sports a highly visible blue stripe. It is thought that this strip is used to identify others of the same species in the murky waters of South American rivers. They are shoaling fish: in tanks, they need to be kept in groups of no smaller than ten. This might seem like a big commitment, but they are small enough to make shoal keeping a realistic prospect!

The stripe of a neon tetra will fade if the fish is distressed, ill, or otherwise in poor health. If you are choosing a tetra at the pet store, make sure to choose examples with very bright colors. Stripes will also fade during the night – presumably, so the fish can avoid predators.


Guppies are extremely beautiful small fish that have proven very popular with aquarium owners. They can be distinguished by their ribboned, flowing tails that hypnotically dance in the water. It is a live-bearing fish, meaning that it gives birth to live young. Females mate with multiple males – increasing the breadth of the genome pool. Male guppies are considerably smaller than their female counterparts: an example of sexual dimorphism. While female guppies are usually grey-colored in the wild, males have colorful spots and dorsal fins.

Interestingly, guppies have twenty-three sets of chromosomes – the same as human beings. This has led to the use of guppies as biological models in experiments.

Guppies are popular with beginner aquatic pet owners because of their small size and ease of upkeep. They are, however, rather fragile fish that should not be paired with aggressive species like flower horns.


The discus is another fish on this list that is native to the Amazon basin in South America. The Amazon basin contains some of the most beautiful species of freshwater aquatic animals. As the name suggests, the discus fish is circular in shape. It is one of the most intensively bred exotic fish in the world and has a cult following of collectors. Every year, breeders compete in competitions to see who can create a unique example of the animal. The aquaculture of discus fish is a multimillion-dollar industry in Asia. There is also a growing discus fish aquaculture industry in the West – aided by breeding research carried out at top universities.

Discus fish can reach relatively large sizes. Although the fish rarely grow large in the wild, captive species can reach nine inches. This potentially large size means that they should be kept only by people willing to upgrade their aquarium equipment as their fish grow. Despite their potentially large size, discus fish display no troubling or difficult behaviors.

Suckermouth Catfish

Suckermouth catfish are great tankmates with just about any tropical pet fish. They are peaceful herbivores that happily hoover up biological waste in an aquarium tank. This makes them very popular with fish owners that want to keep their aquatic environments in tip-top condition. Suckermouth catfish are relatively small but very strong and hardy. Despite being tropical fish, they do not need very specific conditions in order to thrive. Any freshwater aquarium keeper should consider purchasing and looking after one of these useful animals. They have uniquely good eyesight, with elongated irises that allow them to see with a very wide field of vision in almost any condition.

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