Community Fish Tank

More the merrier! – Your community aquarium

By reefspecialty, July 15, 2016

Unsurprisingly, schools of fishes are more glitzy and lively than a standalone colony. Every aquarium lover would love to have a tremendous aquarium with a wide collection of fishes. However, you might panic to set up a communal tank as it is like having a bunch of toddlers in the same room. When one goes cranky, the entire room is a big mess. Despite, they are very attractive and cherish the place with charm and fun. Likewise, every fish has its own characteristics and life style, accommodating them in the same tank is a tough job. Some may be territorial and other may be bully. Apparently, they will start adjusting and will learn their limits once put into a collective tank. Initially you may see some of your little folks attacking other breed of fishes, but this will gradually ease. The intelligent part is in choosing the right fishes for your collective tank. Do not buy all your favorite and attractive ones. Some fishes like goldfish, bettas, and sharks are not advisable for a community tank. A little brainstorm before setting up your communal tank will help you gain the immense pleasure of having it.

Factors to consider for a tropical community tank

There are few key notes to be taken into account for maintaining a peaceful community tank.


Size and growth: Large fishes can gulp the little ones easily. So put equal toughies in a ring. Choose fishes of same size and that has equal growth rate.

Habitation: Water is the essence of life for fishes. Undoubtedly water temperature, alkaline level, water quality, filter, heater, lights are important for a healthy aquarium. Choose fishes that can survive in equivalent water condition. Some fishes cannot live without filter whereas some can manage without it. Therefore, select fishes having comparable lifestyle.

Hangout level: Like human, fishes also have their own apartment criteria. Not that all the fishes prefer the first floor there are some that finds happiness in the ground floor too. Yes, they may be top, middle or bottom swimmers. They find comfort in that particular level of water. Hence, make sure not to put too many of equivalent level swimmers in a tank. All fishes must have their own hangout space, competing for that may stress them or make them tyrant.

Obedience: A dominating person in a conversation can be a big torture for others. You will have no chance to express your views. Likewise, a bunch of aggressive fishes in a community tank can dominate the entire tank by not giving opportunity for other fishes to live their space peacefully. Lookout for the description as “non- aggressive” or “peaceful” natured before making them a part of your community tank.

Tropical habitat is huge; it has numerous species. Fishes matching these basic criteria are good to go in your community tank.

Darlings of tropical community tank

The following lists of fishes are trust-able comrades in a community tank. They have similar lifestyle and are not antagonistic towards their fellow mates.

Tetras: These middle level swimmers can grow up to 2 inches and are extremely active. Cardinal tetra, neon tetra, serape, black neon tetra are popular community tank mates.

Tetras & Guppies in a peaceful community tank

Tetras & Guppies in a peaceful community tank

Rainbowfish: These peaceful natured fishes can grow up to 5 inches. They enjoy swimming in the middle layer of your aquarium.

Loaches: One of the most loved bottom dwellers. They are always busy, working to keep your tank clean. Clown loaches, zebra loaches, horse face loaches can do well in a community tank.

Molly: You can never miss them in a community tank. They swim until the top surface of your tank and are always active and non-aggressive to the fellow being.

Gourami: Aquarist love to have Kissing gourami, just to see them doing the kissing traits. They can sustain even in a poor water condition and grows up to 4 inches. They are usually peaceful, but sometimes aggressive towards long fined fishes like betta and goldfish. So make a note, do not have your pretty fin babies with them.

Danios: These active folks require large swimming area regardless of their size. They grow up to 3 inches and wander all around your tank. Zebra danios are very famous among them due to their attractive physique.

Cory catfish: They are peaceful darlings, which stick to the bottom surface of your tank. They can adjust to extremely poor water condition too.

Shrimp: These creeping creatures will not harm your fishes and will help in cleaning the tank. They can keep algae growth under control by gulping them down. “Ghost shrimp” and “Red cherry shrimp” are efficient ones, for a tropical community tank.

Pleco: Clown pleco, bristle nose pleco and rubber lipped are the famous tank cleaners for a community tank. They are calm bottom dwellers and keep algae growth under control.


Guppy: They live in a group of three or more and are semi aggressive. Their maximum growth is only 2.5 to 3 inches. Hence, bunches of guppies are good to go in tropical tank.

Swordtail: They are relativity small creatures, with a sword like tail and are self-sufficient in a community tank.

Platys: They like planted aquarium and are not aggressive towards their fellow beings. The female is usually larger than male.

The list does not ends here. Many other fishes go well in a community tank. Never, forget that most of them listed above like guppy, Cory, swordtail, tetra are schooling fishes. Therefore, they will be more vigorous with a bunch of their own mates.

Challenges faced in a community tank

Of course, a community tank is full of amazement, but there originates the wisdom on what not to do.

Overcrowding:  Some fishes and shrimps breed more and quick. By doing so they start congesting your tropical tank. So see to that you move the newer ones to another tank and hold fishes lesser than the tank capacity. Fishes needs space to hangout, play and hide. A vast space tempts them to be more energetic and playful. This will be real fun, than seeing them depressed and wrapped in a corner.

Stressful atmosphere: Do not be stunned, fishes are very good at this. They become jittery and depressed for many reason. When they are depressed, they become less active, move to the corner of the tanks; eat less and some starts fading too. This can happen due to many reasons like lack of food, overcrowding, lack of space, incompatible water condition or even due to tough pals. However, this is not good for their well being.

Falling sick: Like every other living creature, fishes are also prone to diseases. Fungal or bacterial infection to any one fish can spread over the tank rapidly. If you do not notice and treat them in right time, then there is a chance of losing the entire bunch.

Lack of food: You may feed them with variety of foods like fish flakes, veggies, dried brine, shrimp, pellets, worms etc. However, you do not know if all the fellow mates receive their share. There comes the hidden threat to your community tank.

Paying attention: Fish keeping is not only an interesting hobby but also a responsible one. Lack of care can ruin the life of your little swimmers. Observe them occasionally to see if any fishes are picking up with others or if any are inactive. Only then, you can give immediate care for the problems you notice.

Risks in having Non-compatible fishes

Keeping non – appropriate fishes in the same tank can cause the following problem for the co-mates.

Polluted environment: Tank mates with different lifestyle are surely a mess. Like some fishes excrete more waste than other does. Water becomes difficult for persistence when the amount of ammonia and nitrate increase, reducing oxygen content. Ammonia and nitrate released from these wastes make the tank filthy sooner. Due to which the tank becomes passive. So never, choose such individuals for your beloved aquarium.

Scary mates: Few fishes tend to baton on the tank glasses, rocks and pebbles. Although, their key motive is to slurp all dirt, algae, left over food from the aquarium, they sometimes accidentally step on other fish’s skin too. Once, I added 2 black mollies in a goldfish aquarium. After few hours, I saw the mollies attacking the gold fishes. This act obviously hurts and harms the fishes causing them slow death. Much caution is required while choosing community tank fishes. If you are not confident with some fishes, better keep them separated from your community tank.

Foodie pals: Food is must for the survival of any living being. Some fishes will be foodie, who will grab all the food you feed them. It does not matter how much time or how frequently you feed them. This habit becomes an issue for other fishes, as they do not earn their part of food. They either fight for it or stop competing for food. As a result, they become more weak, passive, pale and dull.

As a final point ….

You will be struck by their vivacity, when you choose the right fellow mates. A simple study before setting up your aquarium and a wild observation after setting up is all the needed care for a community tank. Take home yellow, blue, green, striped, dotted, moody, active ranges of fishes and enjoy being an aquatic hobbyist.

Algae - Boon or Curse to your aquarium?

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