In most cases, I think we can all agree to have a roommate can be interesting yet also beneficial. That is also true for the aquarium. There are many things to consider when choosing tank mates.
- space parameters
- aggression level
- beneficial or not
In this list, we will be focusing on beginner-friendly fish, benefits to tank mates, peaceful to slightly aggressive tank mates. I also Included 2 Bonus Tank Mates.
List Of Best Top 10 Tank Mates
- Corydoras Catfish
- Cherry Shrimp
- Black Skirt Tetra
- Neon Tetra
- Otocinclus Catfish
- Common Plecostomus
- Dwarf Gourami
- Bristlenose Pleco
Personally, these little guys are my favorite when it comes to tank mates. When I was little they were my favorite fish in our family tank. I named my Corydoras Catfish Lightning because he was fast.
What are Corydoras Catfish
Corydoras Catfish are considered to be bottom feeders but can and need to eat more varieties of food. They eat food pellets, bottom-feeding pellets, and fish food. You will often see them scavenging for more food on the bottom as well for additional food.
the Corydoras Catfish are very sensitive to ammonia in their water. In addition, they are also sensitive to the bottom of the tank which is why it’s recommended to have a sandy floor. Without the sand, they can damage their barbels.
Goldfish are not good to have as tank mates with your Corydoras Catfish. I would strongly advise not having them in the same tank. What normally happens and what will happen is that your Corydoras Catfish will end up being swallowed up. Corydoras Catfish have poisonous spikes to help them when they are eaten so it would kill your goldfish and most likely your Corydoras Catfish.
Corydoras Catfish are very social in nature. When you do not have many Corydoras Catfish you will not have them survive very long. It is recommended to have 2 to 3 of them per tank depending on the size. It is okay to see them have friendly fights over food pellets. It’s actually cute to watch them scurry over one another to get to the food.
The average life expectancy is 5 years however the oldest recorded is 11 years. From what I have seen it really determines just how well they are raised.
Mollies are a great addition to aquariums. Knowing these characteristics will help you better understand mollies and how you can incorporate them with your ecosystem.
Mollies can have a bit of sass. The males and females can worry one another so it is best to keep per 1 male, 4 females. Remind me of some couples I know. This will even the field making them behave better amongst one another. Mollies are very similar to betta fish.
Mollies are considered to be omnivores so they will eat just about anything. In nature, they are commonly feeding on plants and algae so it’s best to have some plants for them to eat or a substitute like chopped and boiled spinach would suffice.
Best Beginner Breeder Fish
You can easily breed mollies with a 1 boy / 3 girls ratio. Most mollies can produce 60 eggs at one time. They have easily earned the name breeding machines. Mollies are normally peaceful fish which is good to note if having many mollies in a tank.
For successful breeding, you should consider having good hiding spots. Rocks, plants, decorations are a good hiding place for your mollies. Without any hiding spots, the fish can become stressed which wouldn’t be good for the health of your mollies.
Mollies give birth on average 3 to 5 weeks. Mollies will not lay eggs but will instead have a live birth. Before the female gives birth it is best to move the female into another tank because the male may want to still compilate. After the female gives birth you will then want to remove the female from the fry or she will attempt to eat them.
Cheaper Than Average Fish
When you are thinking about purchasing mollies it may come as a shock to see that they are cheaper than most fish. It’s good because keepers want to have many for their tanks so they have a good supply of them.
Mollies are generally saltwater fish so having 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water will really help them. Mollies can withstand many temps but enjoy the temp around 75 degrees.
Mollies can live an average of 3 to 5 years. There isn’t any factual evidence that suggests that males or females live longer but it is safe to say that if females are consistently giving birth then their life span would be less.
Guppies are very similar to betta fish. However, this does not mean they should be in harsher conditions. Guppies can be placed into at least a 5-gallon tank.
Guppies like most fish from the pet store, are raised in captivity. They do not have any set water parameters which make them easier to throw them in with a huge array assortment of fish. With their peaceful nature, you do not have to worry about aggressive behavior among guppies.
Guppies are live breeders so they will not lay eggs. They absolutely love to hide so having good foliage or decorations will be comforting to the baby guppies.
Males have a brighter color than females. They have bigger fins with intricate designs. Females do not have that rich color and have small fins. It’s best to have them in groups where the females outnumber the males as to not have them worry about one another.
Mollies are not picky when it comes to food. They will eat generally about anything however it can be hard to find food that will fit in their mouth. Small community fish food is perfect for them but you can also have frozen brine shrimp or very small .05 food pallets.
Ick is a disease you can avoid pretty well. Most owners think that guppies do not need a heater and they most certainly do need a heater especially since they are tropical fish. Having a good reliable heater will help reduce the likelihood of getting this disease.
Fin rot can be an issue with those huge tails. They are just a sitting duck for fin nippers. This can be avoided by not putting in fin nipper tank mates. Most won’t do this unless they are stressed.
Most Guppies can live 1 to 3 years. I know it’s a short time but when you keep up on your maintenance you can have an endless supply of guppies. You can make it where they truly never have to leave.
Cherry Shrimp are considered to be omnivores so they consume pretty much anything. They can eat algae, blanched vegetables, and fish poop. Cherry Shrimp are good to add to most aquariums as they are bottom feeders and can help manage your fish waste as well as provide population control between the 2.
Algae is a good food source for Red Cherry Shrimp. Often, as the shrimp are grazing the naturally produced algae is enough to sustain a small population of Cherry Shrimp. Cherry Shrimp will not consume string hair algae so they are not a good control for that. It is recommended that you do not overfeed your Cherry Shrimp as that would impact the water quality.
Cherry Shrimp do enjoy vegetables but not all of them. Cherry Shrimp enjoy carrots and beans A LOT. I have seen shrimp go for zucchini but not quite right away. Mainly for food, I would stick to some frozen brine shrimp for protein and the biofilm.
Cherry Shrimp enjoy the MK-Breed Cheese Burger Food but can enjoy just about any type of fish food remnants. They do enjoy many of the sinking pellets for feeding most bottom feeders, scavengers like the Common Pleco.
Breeding cherry shrimp is the easiest breeding species in the entire aquarium hobby. This is due to how well they are able to withstand harsher environments and changes to their ecosystem.
If you are going to be breeding Cherry Shrimp there are 3 main things you should be most concerned about.
- the breeding
- carrying the eggs
- breeding the young
When breeding Cherry Shrimp the water quality should be kept within strict parameters. The PH balance needs to be kept within 6.5 and 8.0. The water temperature needs to be at at least 22 to 24 degrees Celcius or 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
When breeding the cherry shrimp need to have a constant food source. If you would like a small colony to medium colony then often times the naturally occurring algae is enough to sustain them.
Once a male and female are both grown, all requirements have been met, and sexually curated then they will breed. After a female molts, she is very vulnerable to attacks so she will hide among the foliage for protection. She will then release a pheromone into the water causing males to go into a frenzy to find and mate with her. It’s actually fun to watch males stop scavenging and scurry around trying to find the female.
The female will take her eggs and place them under her tail which she will fan to prevent bacteria from getting on them. She will keep them there until they hatch by live birth. As the babies mature they will eat small particles of food left by their parents and bots of bacteria as well. The young are best kept in a tank with no natural predators.
Black Skirt Tetra
Tetras are omnivores so they eat plants and others like most fish. They are very hearty so they can withstand quite a bit of harsher variations of their environment.
Tetras have been known to eat neon tetras and other smaller fish. They are not the best tank mates but it depends on them and how well they are cared for as well. I will link a video detailing his experience with the black skirt tetra.
Skittish / Security
Black skirt tetras are just like piranhas will jot back when frightened. It’s why it is best to keep half the tank black and the other part bright. Often when they are frightened they will jot back into the sides of the tank and then they can damage their mouths and sides. Its recommended to approaching slowly so you will not scare them. The darkness will make them feel like they are safe which is why when they are frightened they will go there. With this type of tetras hiding spots are a must.
black skirt tetra is not too hard to breed. When they do breed they chase each other and the females drop their eggs just like snow. It’s really something to see when the conditions are right.
Neon Tetras are the most commonly kept aquarium hobbyist fish. There are more than a million Neon Tetras purchased each month in the united states alone.
Neon Tetras are omnivores so caring for them will be pretty simple. Just like every fish in our tanks, we do not want our fish to be just okay. We want them to have the best life possible so feeding them some frozen baby brine shrimp will really help provide them with some much-needed protein in their diet.
Neon Tetras are best to have a 10-gallon tank. Neon Tetras like to be in a temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Neon Tetras love to also have plenty of plants so they can hide as well. When you buy your fish they should be drip acclimated before adding them to your tank.
Neon Tetras are best kept in schools of 8 or 10 fish. They will provide a beautiful display for you as they go around your tank. The fish are a beautiful red and blue color which is why they are a good addition to the tank. The color can be enhanced by tuning down the light in your tank because in the wild the colors are supposed to alert other Neon Tetras that they are around.
To breed Neon Tetras you need to have the PH between 6.5 to 8.0 and have good water quality. The distinction between the male and the female is hard but how you can tell is that the female is rounder than the male.
At night you can turn on an LED light to simulate the moonlight to try to induce breeding. You can also add cooler water to the tank. This will simulate rainfall to arouse and induce breeding as well. Females tend to lay their eggs on driftwood, plants, or sediment. Once the eggs have hatched you will want to move the fry to a safer breeder tank to help increase their survival chances since the males and females will try to eat the fry.
The disease is common amongst most fish which has stress. To avoid this you can avoid adding fish that will nip at their tails, huge drops in temperature, or PH. This will lower the chances of Ick, and Fin Rot.
Otocinclus Catfish are one of the best fish to have as a tank mate. They are herbivores by nature. So they will not consume your brine shrimp and will not be a pest to cherry shrimp if you keep them together. They are best for cleaning your plants and the side of your tank.
store bought Otocinclus Catfish are generally kept in a tank with atleast another 100 Otocinclus Catfish. They are generally given one food pellet and expected to survive off of that. They are absolutely starved which is why to make sure you are purchasing some with very big bellys to make sure they are ultimately going to survive for you.
Make sure you acclimate the Otocinclus Catfish. If you do not you will experience some difficulties and stress them out. They are pretty social so be sure to have more than 1 in a tank.
I havent heard or read a story where the Otocinclus Catfish was hurtful to other fish. They havent nipped others or eaten other fish. I have heard of friendly fights over food but generally they are more concerned about algae.
Otocinclus Catfish are generally caught in the wild with cyanide and their are few success stories. So its truly a great thing to hear about happy breeders. They do dances for mating calls chasing each other around.
A huge water change of 40% is usually enough to trigger mating. There are many things you can try. You can make some currents, or add some LED at night to simulate the moon.
Hatchetfish are omnivorous. They are known to stay towards the top of your tank. Unfortunately, they are known to jump out since in the wild they jump up to catch their food. So, naturally, it’s best to purchase food that stays longer at the top like blood worms, or brine shrimp, and food pellets. The Hatchetfish look just like skipping stones on the top of the tank but that is just my personal opinion.
The average temperature is around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. since these little guys are found in the amazon it’s best to keep temperatures higher.
Unfortunately when the Hatchetfish are store-bought the keepers will not take good care of them. They are known to throw a bit of food at the fish they are supposed to care for and walk away. The fish of course suffer and starve as a result. so, it’s best to feed them quite a bit when you first get them to offset this.
Hatchetfish are very temperamental when it comes to breeding parameters but when they are met they can mate anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. Hatchetfish need the PH to be between 5 and 6.5 PH levels.
Hatchetfish eggs are susceptible to having algae grow on them which is not good for the eggs so having the water medicated will help prevent them from not hatching.
What is the Common Plecostomus?
The Common Plecostomus are found in common saltwater springs in South America. But, now you can find them everywhere. We all know them as algae eaters but they are much more than just that. So, as you learn more about these common little cuties, you will learn some really cool things.
If you have ever touched a Common Plecostomus you know that they are very tough to the touch. This is because they have very hard scales to protect themselves from predators.
Types of Plecos
There are sooo many types of plecos. There are at least if not more than 150 different types. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find a single web page that listed all 150 Plecos.
Holy cow can Common Plecostomus get huge! Seriously they can get up to 20 Inches so I suggest a 6-foot tank. However, you can have them in a small tank if you plan to upgrade further down the road.
How big can Common Plecostomus get?
If you plan to keep them forever its important to remember that they are known to be returned back to stores over 2 inches long. If you are planning to store them in bigger than a 20 Gallon then its okay..
The Common Plecostomus are herbivores so, plants.. enough said. They are scavengers so they will eat pretty much any remnants left behind by your fish. The Common Plecostomus aren’t like your typical fish sleeping all the time. They will take advantage of the lights going down and your other fish being asleep to scavenge. If you want to make their night then drop a piece of zucchini or cucumber down and they will do Bezurk.
If you are planning to breed Plecos just know it’s a bit different than normal fish. The females will lay eggs in a cave and the male will follow her. After the female lays the eggs the male will go behind her and fertilize the eggs. The male will then guard the cave and watch over the eggs and the fry.
I have heard a crazy story on YouTube. I will link the video for you. About 7 minutes into the video the story begins. There was an owner that didn’t want to continue the hobby anymore. He left his tank and let all the water evaporate out but a few inches of it was left. 6 to 7 months later he heard some splashing around assuming it was his cats it was actually his Pleco he had forgotten to give away with his fish. These Are Harty Creatures.
Not Your Maid
The Common Plecostomus will not stop a big algae problem that you thought you could neglect and it would be okay. So do not expect them to do your job for you.
Bristlenose Pleco are herbivores. They love zucchini and other vegetables, plant-based food. They are scavengers so they will eat anything. They will even eat dead fish as well. They cannot get along with just algae alone.
Their favorite food is generally green beans. French cut no salt would be perfect for them mainly because they can get to the soft center easily.
Bristlenose Pleco can survive temperatures from 65 degrees to the 80s. It is recommended to keep them at the Mid 70s however and only having it be that big of temperature change over the entire year and not one after noon.
How big can they get?
They can get about 5 Inches. This isn’t as bad as some of their other cousin species counterparts.
They are generally nocturnal and peaceful. They are bottom dwellers so you will not see them competing with other fish for food. You may have aggressive issues with males but very seldom.
How big do they get?
The Dwarf Gourami can get to be 2 to 3 inches big. They can be raised in a 10-gallon tank.
The Dwarf Gourami can be in many different tanks. They are a good community fish. That is why they made this list.
The Dwarf Gourami can make bubble nests. When the female has her eggs at the top of the aquarium. The male will fertilize the eggs then put them into their own individual bubbles.
Platies are an amazing beginner fish. They are even fun to have to veteran fish keepers.
They are very adaptable to many different types. I would keep them in at about 7.5
Platies are really good livebearers. They are social but they are okay with being alone. They love to have vegetation so they can have their babies hide in the foliage. Males stress out the females so it’s best to have 4 males to 1 male.
They can have 30 to 40 babies every 30 days. They are very crazy to take care of.
There are many different combinations to begin as a beginner but starting is the fun part. Personally, I like pairing Neon Tetras, Cherry Shrimp, Water Snails, and Chinese Plecos. I hope this article was helpful, informative. If so share with your family and friends. It really helps us out!
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