Choosing the Right Tropical Fish to Live Together

The choice of tropical fish available nowadays can be quite overwhelming. After all, they come in so many different shapes, sizes and colours. In can be easy to be attracted to choosing your fish based on their appearance alone and this is where many first-time tropical fish owners are mistaken. There are many species of fish which thrive in a tank together and there are some which are less suited, so care and research is required to ensure the choices you make will lead to a healthy and happy aquarium for all its residents.

In general, aim for non-territorial and peaceful natured fish with similar environmental needs.

Environmental Differences

There are three main differences when it comes to aquatic environments – cold water or tropical water and fresh water or salt water. These different groups of fish cannot live in one tank together as they require very specific water temperatures and conditions. Fish kept in the wrong environment, pH conditions or water temperature can be more prone to disease and the visible signs including slow movement and refusal to eat will be evident.

Optimal Aquarium Conditions

Making certain your fish tank is suitable for its inhabitants is extremely important and will help create the optimal environment for your fish to thrive in. The size of the tank is a top priority as overcrowding can lead to a build-up of toxic waste products which can cause health problems for your fish. As a general rule, allow at least one gallon of water for each inch of fish in your aquarium (e.g. a 10-gallon tank could accommodate 10 one-inch fish).

Be sure to purchase the correct equipment to both create and monitor the correct lighting, heating and pH levels within the tank. Providing real aquatic plants can help to improve oxygen levels and also create much-needed enrichment for the fish, giving them places to hide.

Dietary Requirements

Ensuring the fish you choose share similar diets will make things easier for you and ensure they are all getting the correct nutrition. However, it is possible to accommodate fish that eat different diets within the same tank, just ensure you do the research before making any decisions.

Tropical Fish

The following fish are well known to live well together with relatively little problem due to their placid temperaments. Although these fish do well in a community with others, they are also schooling fish and are happiest when also kept with some of their own species.

Neon Tetra

These striking little fish are very easy to care for and one of the best choices, if you haven’t owned fish before. As they live in large groups, they can easily tolerate being around many fish and it is recommended to buy a few.


Perfectly suited to a community tank, platies come in a wide variety of colours and their peaceful nature means they are both tolerant of other fish species.

Cory Catfish

These placid bottom-feeding fish are a great addition to a communal tank. Not only do they get along with other fish, your tank will also benefit from their natural habit of feeding on algae.


Docile, hardy and available in a wide range of bright colours, guppies are an ideal addition to your tropical fish tank.

Clown Loach

Beautiful and distinctive, these low maintenance fish live well among their own kind and other fish in a community aquarium. They are quite timid and do enjoy plenty of places to hide.


These pretty little fish are hardy and tolerate a variety of different water conditions. They do well with most other fish and make a great addition to a beginner tank.


Available in a wide range of size and colours, mollies are calm in nature and do well in a tank community tank.


Despite the name, these are relatively easy going fish that tolerate communal living as long as they have a few of their own kind too.


These bottom feeders are calm and placid within a community tank. However, they can be territorial with their own kind so if you would like more than one, it is recommended to provide plenty of space and places to hide.