When you walk into an aquatics store to buy fish, how do you make your choice? Is it color or price? Do you know if your tank creates the proper habitat or do you know if the fish will be compatible? By knowing the various species of fish, you will be able to make an informed decision on what to buy, how to decorate your tank and how to take care of your fish.



In the world of today’s tropical fish hobbyist, there are eight different distinct species of fish :

  • Characins
  • Barbs and Danios
  • Rainbow Fish, Silversides, Rice Fish
  • Loaches, Flying Foxes, Elephant Trunk Fish
  • Live Bearers
  • Killiefishes
  • Labyrinth Fishes
  • Cichlids

These fish belong to the species Characiformes. These are the only fish that have an extra fin inserted between their dorsal and their caudal fins. This extra fin is called the adipose fin. Even though Characins survive in the open waters of rivers and lakes, these fish need a protected area in the aquarium. This may be accomplished by having a densely planted bottom and the use of Mango roots. These fish will exhibit fantastic color only if the bottom of your aquarium has dark sand and the lighting is shaded by floating plants, indirect lighting, or lower wattage bulbs. These fish behave better in groups of ten or more and will only show their natural behavior in these groups.

Barbs and Danios
These fish belong to the species Cypriniformes. Barbs and Danios can be recognized by the small barbs that grow out of their mouths, but you will really have to look to see them. These fish are always confused with Characins, but they do not look the same and do not have the extra fin that the Characins possess. The aquarium should be densely planted in dark colours with lots of open areas for swimming. These fish behave better in groups of ten or more. They are both top and mid tank swimmers.

Rainbow Fish, Silversides, and Rice Fish
Rainbow fish belong to the species Melanotaeniidae, the Silversides to the species Atherinidae , and the Rice Fish to the species Oryziatidae. These fish can be easily recognized by their elongated bodies and slightly flattened sides. Their often-splendid colors generally reach their peak when the fish reaches maturity. All these fish are shoaling fish and do not survive well unless kept in schools of ten or more. These fish are generally a peaceful fish and can be kept with most fish except larger aggressive fish.