Something Fishy: Freshwater Fish For Beginners

Goldfish in an freshwater fish aquariumWhen a beginner decides to enter the world of fish-keeping, one of the biggest questions involves the choice of what type of fish to keep. There are the obvious questions about the size of the first tank, if it will be freshwater or salt water, and whether or not it will be a cold water or heated water tank. Even that matter might surprise a beginner, for most people do not think about the salinity and temperature of a water environment.

Choosing Freshwater Fish

Choosing a heated aquarium would allow the beginner to select from more varieties of fish. But one of the most familiar types of freshwater fish for beginners is a cold water fish: the Gold Fish. So selecting the animal you want to be spending time with will affect the temperature of the habitat the fish will live in, as well as determine any additional residents you might choose to add.

Warm Water Fish

There are several options for the beginner who chooses to have a warm water aquarium. A broad selection of such fish could include Danios, Black Mollies, Black Skirt Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, Platies, and Swordtails.

Swordtails are a popular choice for beginners both for their dramatic appearance and because they are very hardy and do well in community aquariums, where they share the space with other types of fish. The name of this fish comes from the shape of the lower lobe of the male’s tailfin, which is elongated. The females tend to be larger than the males and lack the same length of “sword”. Although the wild form of the fish is an olive green, captive breeding has developed many colors and patterns. It is an omnivorous eater, meaning it will dine on anything, both plants and small crustaceans and insects.

Mollies are also easy to keep. For the beginning fish-keeper who wants a home-grown population, Mollies are prolific breeders. Although Mollies are generally compatible tankmates with some other fish, because of their energetic nature, they can be mildly aggressive and chase the other fish. They would certainly not be a boring choice for the aquarium of a novice.

Cold Water Fish

Another option for someone starting out with aquarium fish is to choose cold water freshwater fish. This choice would mean a little less work in paying attention to the temperature of the water, so if limited time for maintenance care is an issue, these fish are worth considering. Popular choices are White Clouds, Bloodfin Tetras, and the very familiar Gold Fish.

The hardy Bloodfin Tetras are usually kept in groups, most typically a school of five or more fish. They’re very sociable creatures and prefer the upper reaches of the aquarium. Their silvery bodies with their tailfins splashed with red make them very decorative in a tank. They do, however, like to nibble on the longer flowing fins of other fish.

And of course, how could anyone not consider Gold Fish? It was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, so there is a long history of keeping Gold Fish. The history alone would be a source of enrichment to the novice who chooses to keep Gold Fish. This small carp has been bred into a variety of sizes, shapes colors and skin patterns. It would never be a boring choice. The one thing to be careful about with Gold Fish is that they are opportunistic feeders and will easily over-eat. But with a little care and planning this need not be a problem.

Keeping fish can be a soothing and relaxing hobby. If you consider adding an aquarium to your home, especially if you have never kept fish before, seek the advice of experts who can help you with the selection of size of tank and type of fish. Consult the team at Aquatech Aquariums and begin to enjoy the presence of an aquarium in your life.

Something Fishy: The Beauty of Koi

outdoor koi pondMany people are fascinated by watching koi. The large decorative fish were bred from ordinary carp in Japan in the 1800s. The name “koi” comes from a Japanese term, nishikigoi, which literally means “brocaded carp.” The koi fanciers cultivated mutations in the fish for color, making the animals collectibles. The arrangement of ponds suitable for keeping the fish developed into an art of its own, for there are many considerations to be taken into account in building a suitable koi pond. The addition of a koi pond to a property adds a tranquil beauty to the setting.

The Fascination of Koi

Part of the fascination with these decorative carp comes from the size these fish can grow to. In ideal conditions in Japan, it is possible for koi to grow to a length of 37 inches. In the United States, with a more variable climate, they often grow to 27 inches. Age also contributes to the popularity of these fish, for the ordinary life expectancy can be around 50 years. That means that providing the fish is properly cared for and protected from predators, it could live for quite a long time. A famous koi named “Hanako” reportedly lived to be over 200 years old. It was, of course, owned by several people in the course of its life.

colorful koi fishOne thing that many people are not aware of is that these carp do not breed true for coloration and patterns.  If left to breed on their own, in a few short generations, the offspring will have reverted back to ordinary carp. This difficulty in fixing coloration contributes to the mystique of koi.  Koi fanciers look for certain combinations of color and markings. The usual colors are red, black, yellow, brown, blue, silver, gold, pine cone pattern, orange, gray, and white. The metallic colors tend to be solid, all over, while the other colors have a variety of marking combinations.

In addition to color, koi also have different types of scales. They are even given names, in order to help describe a particular fish. Scaled are the most common type, and they possess typical carp scales. Then there are Doitsu, which have scales only along the dorsal and lateral lines. Leather describes a fish that has no visible scales, except for the occasional presence of very small scales along the dorsal line alone. The last type of “scaling” is the Gin Rin, which refers to a normally scaled fish that has a mirror-like quality to the scales, and the scales are usually of a gold or silvery appearance.

The size and coloration of these carp are what fascinate people. We like to watch them swimming amongst the water plants in an appealingly designed pond. For the more ambitious owner, there might be the opportunity for competitive display. But for most, it is the pleasure of watching the sizable fish circulate in the clear water of the koi pond, giving hours of quiet pleasure.

Maintaining a koi pond’s pristine beauty is not an easy task, and is best left to experts who know how to clean and service the pond without disturbing the fish.  At Aquatech Aquarium Services (in Los Angeles), we have over 25 years of experience caring for aquarium and pond fish.  One of our specialized services is koi pond maintenance.  Give us a call at (310) 993-2183 – we would love to help you continue to enjoy your koi pond for years to come