Once you’ve chosen what type of aquarium you’d like to invest in, it’s time to select its inhabitants. Aquariums can house from one to several types of fish.
The goldfish is the universal freshwater aquarium fish. “Fancy” or exotic goldfish come in a wide variety of variations in colors, with different fins and body structures. They can be very attractive and ornamental but need colder water than most other other freshwater fish, which makes it hard to combine them with other fish varieties.
African Cichlids are a large family of fish that come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. These fish are highly resilient to changes in their environment, look great ornamentally, and will actually breed in captivity. Because of this, Cichlid tanks will often house multiple generations of fish.
Community aquariums consist of a variety of fish all living and thriving together in the same environment. It is important to choose fish with little to no aggressive traits, which can be blended together in a “community”. Thankfully, you don’t have to do too much biology because your aquarium company will be able to recommend fish types based on your preferences. Generally, Tetras, Platties, Mollies, Barbs, Swordtails, Angelfish, Sharks (not real sharks) tend to play well together in community aquariums. Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to community options.
The type of fish you choose will be affected by your aquarium type, your budget, and the level of maintenance you are comfortable with. Make sure you discuss your options thoroughly with your aquarium professional before you settle on a community type.