Guppy Fry Care 101 – Caring For Baby Guppies

Having guppies are a great fish to own and have around your house. However, one thing that is not so easy is caring for baby guppies. Adult and parent fish do not take care of their young, and will even eat them if circumstances call for it.

You can help take care of them and make sure your baby guppies survive with the information provided below.

Baby Guppies
Sheherazad Bhote

How are Guppies Born?

Guppies are a unique fish because they don’t lay eggs. This species of fish are livebearers. The female fish gives birth to a group of other live fish. Healthy guppies will give birth monthly for a time span of around 2 years. As with most fish, the mother fish will hide away to have her babies. At the time of birth, most guppies are not ready to fend for themselves and will have to hide at first. After a few hours, the new baby guppies will be travelling around and beginning their quest for food.

How Many Babies Do Guppies Have?

A female fish will birth an average of around 40 baby guppies at a time. This number can vary depending on the health of the fish, as well as other factors. Typically, you will not see a group of guppies born below 20 or above 60 fry in one birthing session.

How to Save Guppy Fry?

The #1 tip to save your guppy fry is quite simple. The best practice is to put your pregnant fish inside of a separate tank. This could be a tank specifically designed for breeding or it can be any other tank you have that is suitable for fish to live in.

This really increases the chance that your guppy fry will live because it gives them a safe place to start out their life when the first few days are so dangerous for them. While your guppies may not survive being around other fish (and even the parents), they should prosper in a brand new environment with no harm to them whatsoever.

If you don’t’ have a separate aquarium, it doesn’t mean your guppies are doomed.

You could also use a different kind of container whether it’s a big glass container or jar, or a large enough plastic container could work.  It’s important to note that you don’t want to isolate the pregnant guppy before she starts giving birth. Doing so could lead to some unwanted problems – so wait until the last possible second to transfer the pregnant guppy.

If no containers are a possibility, you may want to buy a special piece of gear known as a breeding box. This keeps your fish separate even if they can’t be outside of the same aquarium as other fish in a general population.

This is a simple method because it’s not too complicated for you as an owner of the fish. The water can get through the breeding box but fish will not be able to leave or enter the box. This keeps the fish safe but keeps them in the same environment so there are no water quality issues to worry about.

Once the female is done birthing the baby guppies, you would want to remove that specific fish from the breeding box. That keeps the babies safe from their mother and so that nothing bad happens inside the box.

If you are unable to get a breeding box, you will have to turn to the last resort for keeping your baby guppies safe. This would include giving them any possible place to hide that you can. Generally, the best sources of a hiding spot for baby guppies would include a variety of live plants that would be in an aquarium. Guppy grass is an especially popular choice for this kind of fish, and would do about as well as you can in providing them somewhere safe to go.

You need the plants to give the baby guppies protection for at least a week. Sometimes this period is longer, but this allows them to grow up without being attacked by adults who are bigger and stronger than the guppies and could wipe out your entire school before any of them are able to reach a mature age.

Guppy fry care

What to Feed Baby Guppies?

Feeding baby guppies provides an interesting challenge. Even though baby guppies are extremely tiny, they are also a very hungry species. As babies, they are ready to eat about every half hour. While you don’t necessarily have to meet that demand, for optimum growth you should probably be feeding them around once an hour.

Recreational owners will be able to feed their guppies much less than that schedule. The biggest thing that recreational owners should keep in mind is that they need to make sure the food is crushed down small enough for the baby guppies to put the food in their mouth.

Live food is a great choice for baby guppies. Baby brine shrimp is an especially popular food among those who raise baby guppies professionally. Again, if you are a recreational owner, you may consider flake foods without much worry as long as it is crushed in a small format.

Tank Maintenance

One good thing about raising guppies is that babies do not necessarily need a special tank adjustment. If adults thrive in the environment you have set up, it’ll be great for babies too.

If you do have a separate tank, you should set the temperature right around 80 degrees. Change your water regularly. Changing the water 2 times a week would be healthy.  Make sure to keep lights on for over half of the day – while also giving them dark times to rest.


There are many things to keep track of when raising your baby guppies. You want to make sure that they are isolated from any general population of fish. You’ll need to make sure they have proper water changes and food to eat as well. Helping baby guppies grow is a fun and rewarding activity no matter the level of your experience!

Guppy Lifespan – How Long Does a Guppy Fish Live For?

Guppy Lifespan

The average guppy lifespan is about four to five years, but this can be variable depending on the conditions which are discussed below.

Many factors influence this number including not only cleanliness and general upkeep but also the other fish that you keep with them in the tank. Even the number of males compared to the number of females can influence their lifespan, since breeding is stressful for both genders and reduces their longevity.

As a result, most aquarium guppies only last for two years at the most, which is why maintaining the water quality is the first thing you need to get right to make sure they last as long as they should.

Guppy Lifespan

How to Make Guppies Live Longer

The lifespan of your guppy is incredibly variable, dependent not only on the breeding of the guppy but the food you give them, your management of the water quality, and also, believe it or not, the mental health of your fish.

It’s common to think of guppies as easy pets because of their notoriously hardy nature and general tolerance to most of the small variances in temperature and water conditions that come with transporting and upkeeping an aquarium of freshwater fish.

This is a short guide to the conditions that improve the health of your guppies, as well as what you can do to ensure that these improvements mean longer lives for your aquarium pets.

Managing the Water

You may think that since tap water is safe to drink for humans that guppies won’t mind it either. This is true, to a point. Since guppies are a pretty hardy freshwater aquarium fish, they don’t require quite as much diligence as more delicate tropical varieties.

However, tap water can still be too chlorinated for your guppies, so one of the easiest things to do to increase their general health is to buy a dechlorination product from a pet store that will alter the chemical content of your water and make it as safe for your guppies as possible.

Then you need to manage three separate aspects of the water’s condition: pH levels, hardness, and temperature.

The pH level refers to how base or acidic the water solution is. For a guppy, a pH of around 7 to 8 is ideal, which in pH terms basically means as neutral as possible with a small margin of error.

Hardness is a condition inherent in the water that refers to how much calcium and magnesium have dissolved in it. A natural water softener is needed to change this number, which for a guppy’s aquarium should be from 8-12. Maintaining this number is essential to make sure the guppies don’t get overloaded with these minerals.

Finally, you have to maintain a consistent temperature in your guppies’ tank to give them as long a life as they deserve. Guppies are pretty hardy fish, as stated above, so it doesn’t have to be exact, but 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is a standard measure for healthy fish water. Keep in mind that while temperature regulators aren’t necessary, the temperature conditions around the tank can play a role in their safety.

For instance, make sure your aquarium isn’t too close to a source of sunlight that could heat the aquarium and boil the guppies.

Guppy Breeding Practices

Guppies aren’t just bred for color and size. The right food and water conditions over generations of guppies can alter the health of their line, making them more or less susceptible to diseases and therefore more long-lived.

While most pet stores are pretty good about the genetic condition of their guppies, many collectors have noted that guppies that come from respectable breeders often last much longer than those that come from stores.

This is due to the practices listed here repeated over generations of guppies to encourage their long life. Sometimes, even traits that are unusual in natural guppies – such as colors in the females – will appear in especially well-bred, healthy fish.

Paying a little extra for higher quality fish can make them last twice as long and improve the health of their children too, if keeping the fry is part of your long-term aquarium plans.

Feeding Guppies for Health

Guppies are hardy fish, as mentioned above, and they’re not picky eaters. However, an extra dose of protein on top of their normal diet of Baby Brine Shrimp or various worms has been used by some breeders, so they say, to increase the life of their guppies.

They recommend a little egg yolk mixed in with the food for that extra vitamin boost.

One other thing to keep in mind is that if they’re sharing the tank with other fish, make sure the guppies are getting enough food. Pushy or aggressive fish can sometimes starve out smaller or more docile ones.

Guppy Stress

There have been many studies done on how humans react to stress. Many recent ones have found that our environment, particularly as it involves clutter and privacy, can cause stress to build up without it ever manifesting outwardly. Nevertheless, this stress can still shorten our lives by putting unnecessary mental and physical strain on our bodies.

It’s actually very similar for fish. Here are a few specific factors to consider when you want to reduce the stress of your guppies and prolong their lives.

Reduce Clutter

Like humans, clutter stresses guppies out by forcing them to process too much information, affecting their breathing and distracting them. Clutter, in this case, reduces water conditions too and could include anything from too many ornaments to too much floating waste or sediment (thankfully, guppies don’t produce nearly as much waste as comparable aquarium fish, like goldfish, for instance).

Remember though that guppies are skittish fish and like to hide. Ample hiding spaces in rocks and flowing plants are actually a stress-relieving addition to your aquarium. Just make sure there’s a balance between decorations and open water.

Number of Fish

A single guppy is a lonely guppy. Even though it’s okay to have only one, guppies are schooling fish, meaning they feel more comfortable in a group. Remember that they will freely breed, however, so realize that a purchase of four guppies should be more than enough to get a school going.

This brings us to the counterpoint to the lonely guppy: the overcrowded tank. If your tank accumulates a sizable fish population, you need to move or get rid of some of them in order to avoid overcrowded water space, diminishing food availability, and fewer hiding spaces from stressing out your guppies.

Also, keep in mind the type of fish that you keep with your guppies. If you diversify the breeds in your tank, do some research first about their temperaments. You don’t want pushy fish breaking up your schools, aggressively eating all the food, or eating your guppies.

Water Condition

Cleaning the aquarium regularly is obvious advice, but make sure that the sediment you buy works well with your guppy’s activity level. If you notice the tank getting cloudy, you may want to buy something else.

Consider buying a water filter that will get rid of some of the nitrites that pollute regular water and cause harm to your fish over time.

Additionally, when keeping the temperature in mind, you need to make sure that your aquarium doesn’t have too much direct access to sunlight, as this could warm the guppies’ water to dangerously high levels.

Males and Females

The ratio of males and females in your tank is a huge determiner of how stressed out your guppy population will be.

This is because male guppies tend to push females around, chasing them and trying to mate. In order to minimize this effect, try and keep the ratio of males to females strongly weighted towards females (even twice as many would be good).

This will allow them to “tag-team” the males’ aggressive behavior and reduce the stress of your fish population as a whole.

The Takeaway

Guppies are not a delicate fish as aquarium fish go, but that doesn’t mean they are exempt from best practices when it comes to cleaning, breeding, feeding, and taking care of them.

The most urgent matters in your guppies’ lifespans concern their living conditions. This means keeping the pH, water hardness, and tank temperature at reasonable levels, researched for guppy health.

Other than this, the food they eat and the cleanliness of the water can be easily managed by a good filter, regular cleaning, and a varied food supply.

Guppy stress is the most subtle aspect of promoting the long life of your guppies. Managing the plant life in your tank to provide places to hide and distractions from rowdy tankmates can help your guppies keep calm and avoid harassing each other. Keeping tabs on the gender population can also make a big difference in terms of how your guppies treat each other.

Managing the cleanliness of the tank and maintaining your guppies’ mental health can go a long way to helping them live as they should.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Guppy Fish 101: Types, Care, Lifespan, Breeding And Tank Mates


Quick: Think of a fish. The sort of fish that you keep in your home, the sort of fish which properly calls a clear fishbowl its habitat. You’re likely thinking of a guppy—the single most popular aquarium fish there is. If you’ve ever considered owning a fish, you might have been thinking of a guppy—as they’re very easy to procure, easy to care for, and easy to feed.


Species Summary

You might not have thought of them beyond that, though! What are guppy fish, exactly, and where do they come from? Guppies are very small fish, between half an inch and two inches long, and they come in every color under the sea. Originally from South America, they are now indigenous everywhere due precisely to their popularity as easily cared for children’s pets.

Their Latin name is Poeciliidae, and there are several subgenera within that category, such as the Wingei guppy and the Reticulata guppy. The one you’re likely familiar with is the Reticulata guppy, so that’s the one that we’ll be talking about today.

Types of guppy fish (Color, Pattern and Tail Shape)

As we mentioned above, guppies can come in hundreds of different colors—so much so that they earned themselves the name of Rainbow Fish, simply because of their thousands of different hues. (They also have the unofficial moniker of ‘Millions Fish,’ because their breeding rate is so high!) 

Because of their breeding rate and ease of care, guppies are often imported into areas with high mosquito populations to control the number of mosquitoes attacking the human population.

This has been done in South Asia, in fact, with great success. As far as the pattern of the guppy fish, in addition to their bright color they have leopard-like flecks of black across their body. 

Their tail shape is likely the most distinctive thing about them, as it fans out in a beautiful peacock-esque shape behind them, flitting through the water like a delicate leaf.

The patterns swirling across their backs can come in several distinctive genres:

  • The ‘Cobra’, which will have stars across the body as well as zebra-like vertical barring
  • The ‘Snakeskin’, which will have more of a pattern of interlinked chains, as well as the more typical stars
  • The ‘Tuxedo’, which will feature a front half and a back half rocking two distinctly different colors

The fans are larger on the males, as, just like in many types of animal’s mating rituals, it’s up to the male to attract the female. The males will flutter their attractive fins beguilingly at the female they’ve judged most likely to help them carry on their DNA, and after that, the game will be on.


Guppies are naturally very social fish; if they’re not waving their fins at each other and are instead hiding behind tank decorations or rocks, they could be very sick.

You’ll want to keep your guppies in groups, not only because it’s better for them, but because it’ll be more fun for you; after all, the ‘Rainbow Fish’ are undoubtedly best when viewed together. Because the males have the more peacock-y tails, if you’re not planning on breeding them, it’s best to invest in just male guppy fish.

Tank Size

The minimum recommended tank size is approximately five gallons, but most people go for a ten gallon tank—especially if you’re going to have more than a couple of guppies living together, which is also recommended for their mental health. 

Make sure that you set the tank up so that you can always be cycling the water out properly so you can be sure that you’re exchanging the bad bacteria for good ones—that’s extremely important for your fish’s health.

Guppy Tank Mates

Guppies should always be together, but just how together they are and just what else you put in the tank should be dependent upon what you want to do with the fish. Are you planning on just keeping them for show? Or are you planning on setting up a breeding system? This will determine whether you keep only males, only females, or a number of each in the tank, as an example of one consideration you’ll have to have.

If you’re planning on keeping the guppies for show, you’ll want to fill your tank with plants and rocks and other toys for the guppies to interact with; if you’re planning on breeding them, fewer distractions for the guppies are better—and you’ll want to leave the bottom of the tank open, so you can clean it easily.

The best bet, whether you’re keeping males, females, or a mixture, is to keep one guppy per two gallons of water. Therefore, the size of your tank will be the ultimate determining factor in how many guppies you are able to maintain.

As far as keeping the guppies in a tank with other species of fish, the guppy is a very peaceful creature and will be fine with most other species. Our one recommendation would be to simply ensure that you’re not keeping the guppies in the tank with any particularly aggressive or carnivorous sort of fish, as the guppy doesn’t have much in the way of a defense system and will likely be the first to be thought of as food.

Feeding your Guppies

Guppies are as versatile with their preferred cuisine as they are with everything else! As their diet is dependent upon what was naturally available to them in their original habitat, guppies are naturally omnivores; they will eat both plant and animal matter. 

One of the main things they eat in the wild is mosquito larvae, which is why they were imported en masse to South Asia to control the mosquito problem.

However, when they’re in your home, the majority of what they should be eating is simply fish flakes. You should make sure that you’re choosing good ones! Protein-rich fish flakes with an absence of filler ingredients are best. 

To mix it up every once in a while, you can throw a few slices of cucumber or a shrimp in the tank, and watch your guppies as they have a feast.

Setting Up Your Guppy Fish Tank

So you want to bring home some beautiful, easily cared for guppies? Congratulations! You do have a few pieces of homework, however, before you can begin. Let’s discuss setting up your fish tank properly.

Nitrogen Cycle

The Nitrogen cycle is the number one most important thing you have to do prior to introducing fish to your tank; nitrogen is as crucial to the fish and their survival as oxygen is to us! The nitrogen cycle has more to do with cleaning the tank then making it breathable. 

The waste your fish will produce gives off ammonia into the water, which is toxic to fish. Nitrogenating the water will help remove what is toxic and re-establish beneficial bacteria, so that your fish have a fighting chance.


The best substrate for guppies is, fortunately, also the easiest for you to get your hands on! Sand is super-fine, cheap, and likely of a good enough size that it won’t easily get stuck in your fish’s mouths or anywhere else in their systems. For this reason, most professional fish-havers choose sand when it comes to the best substrate.


Aside from the natural machinations of the nitrogen cycle, you will be needing additional filtration systems. This is true whenever you try to board a living thing! However, there’s a very simple solution for needing a filtration system: buy a filter. A power filter, though not necessary, is definitely easier for first-time fish owners; as long as you keep it powered and on, it will take care of most of the chores of cleaning out your tank for you.

For a good rule of thumb regarding the efficacy of your filter, just remember the following equivalency: for a ten gallon tank, use a filter that is able to cycle fifty gallons in a given 60 minute period.


Remember, again, where your fishes are naturally from—the thing you’re trying to recreate with all of these conditions! Guppies are flexible in terms of lighting; keep it bright during the day, and dark at night for their sleep cycles.

Plants and Decorations

If you’re keeping your guppies for show instead of actively trying to breed them, definitely put some plants and decorations in there! Rock formations for the guppies to swim around and several different kinds of plants will help keep them happy. 

Lining the bottom of the tank with some moss will give them a natural place to swim and hide in, which is a good thing for them to have if they need a minute.

Guppy Habitat and Tank Conditions

Gubby Habitat and Tank Conditions

Water Temperature for Guppies

Remember wen you’re putting together the tank that the natural habitat of the guppy fish is the warm, extremely temperate waters found around South America. You should therefore try to replicate that environment as best you can when you’re making them your home away from home—in your living room or office. 

Warm water, preferably between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, is preferable. You’ll likely have to use a water heater to obtain this window.

Always remember to leave the heater at one distinct end of your fish’s tank! Have a thermometer at the other end, though, so that you can easily check to ensure that the water is heating evenly throughout.

Water Flow for Guppies

You should aim to be cycling the water so there’s about a 25% change in water per week, whatever the flow looks like for you to obtain that goal—but the flow should definitely be constant, as that best mimics the water that they’re used to. Failing to meet this goal may result in your guppies becoming sick (you’ll be able to tell this because your social fish will start to seclude themselves).

Water Type for Guppies

As long as you keep your water in the right balance of acids/bases, use a filtration system to keep it clean, and keep it very warm, whatever water type you use should be more than fine.

Tank Water PH

Guppies are naturally very tolerant, so they can live successfully through a range of pH’s, particularly anywhere between 5.5-8.5. However, this does not mean that this is the best place for them to be! See if you can aim for an in-tank pH of about 7.0-7.2 for their best bet at health and happiness.

Ammonia, Nitrite, And Nitrates

Ammonia is the byproduct of fish’s wastes that you will be removing with a properly calibrated nitrogen cycle! Test your water frequently to make sure that the ratio of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates is in a good place—and dechlorinate your water if this isn’t the case.

Breeding Guppies

Guppies are not what we’d consider shy; it’ll likely be more difficult to stop them from breeding then to try to instigate it, as long as you set up the tank and their environment properly so that it’s conducive to their mating habits.

Choose The Best Guppies for Breeding

Guppies are not shy; as long as you put healthy males and females together in a 2 males to 3 females ratio, you will be able to breed them.

How to Tell the Sex of a Guppy

Guppies are very easy to tell apart, male from female. As previously mentioned, the males are usually brighter in color and have a particularly large fin. However, other than the fin, males are actually smaller than females. 

Females often do have a very dark spot behind their main fin, called the gravid spot. This spot gets darker during pregnancy and is often one of the first registered signs that mating has completed successfully and your guppies are expecting.

Creating Your Breeding Environment

Separate Breeding Tank

Guppies can tend to eat their young (or anyone’s young) as they are strange and don’t seem quite like other fish to them yet; so, often, people do choose to put an expecting mother in a separate breeding tank about a week before she’s going to give birth, watch her carefully, and then remove her once she’s spawned her fry and before she tries to eat any of them. Setting up this secondary tank should be very similar to setting up the first tank.

Creating The Water Conditions for Breeding

Again, as the waters to which guppies are indigenous are the warm South American waters, the waters of the breeding tank in particular should be very warm. This will help protect the fry in their earliest days, when they are extremely small. 

Line the bottom of the breeding tank with a dense plant such as moss, which will allow the fry to swim to and hide within while they are small—this is protective and instinctive, and will help them survive.

The Spawning Process

Guppies are ovoviviparous, which means that they have the fish inside of eggs—but the eggs grow inside of their bodies. Therefore, much of the spawning process happens rather invisibly.

Feeding Guppy Fry

The baby fish use the egg for nourishment during the earliest days of their lives; when the nutrients from the egg have been consumed and the baby fish has grown to a size where it can survive outside of its mother, they hatch inside the mother, and then are born after that. 

The gestation of a guppy is only about one month, making breeding guppies a relatively sustainable situation if it’s something that you’d like to try.

Common Diseases

Guppies are relatively healthy; a disease called IcH is your one fear.

The best tips we have for making sure your guppies don’t get sick are:

  • Make sure that you’re always checking their water to make sure that the water is cycling naturally, that the pH is in the right place, and that it’s in a good temperature window.
  • Change the water regularly.
  • Before you put anything new within the tank, rinse it off, or give it a time in quarantine before you expose the fish to it.

Don’t stress them out! Feed them regularly, and don’t overcrowd them. Stressed guppies easily become sick guppies.

How Large Do Guppies Grow?

Guppies grow to be about 2 inches long; smaller, if they’re males.

Average Cost of Guppies?

Guppies are a cheap breed of fish; one fish will only cost you a dime.

Do guppies eat their own babies?

Mothers will eat their young, which is why many people choose to breed in a separate tank.

Guppies Keep Dying?

If your guppies keep dying, make sure that you’ve been cleaning their tank appropriately, and check the water for undue concentrations of chemicals. If everything else looks okay, go see a veterinarian for more information.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Electric Blue Acara Care Guide: Everything You Need To Know!

Electric Blue Acara Care

The Electric Blue Acara is an extremely popular fish for fish keepers around the world.

It simply boils down to having a stunning fish to have light up your tank that is also relatively easy to care for.

The Electric Blue Acara looks exactly what it sounds like. It’s vibrant, almost neon-like blue colors are vibrant and bright. They’ll be a popular fish to gaze at for viewers of a tank it occupies.

They also pair well with other fish and are known to play nice and fit well into community tanks. If you find that your tank houses a large selection of other vibrant fish, you’ll create a tank that rivals artwork with its beauty.

They’re great for beginner and veteran fishkeepers alike. Although, they’re especially popular with those who are relatively new to the fish keeping scene because of their ease.

Electric Blue Acara Care

Species Profile Overview

You’ll find that the Electric Blue Acara offers many benefits to a tank without having to sacrifice much time and effort into adequately providing for it.

The fish hails from South and Central America and will be found in bodies of water without much water movement. You’ll find it in rivers, deep streams alike. They’re also known to be found in lakes that are near a tributary to provide them a small amount of water movement.

They’re different from the other members of the Cichlidae family. Typically, fish within this family are known to be hyper-aggressive and can be problem fish within their tanks. This will make other members of the Cichlidae family a hesitant addition for fish keepers.

However, the Electric Blue Acara breaks away from stereotypes and proves that some of these fish can be friendly and easy additions to a tank.

Typical Behavior

The Electric Blue Acara will play well with a large variety of tank mates.

They’re non-aggressive so you can expect them to play well with others and not cause issues regarding temperament. This is one of the highlights for those looking into this fish.

In general, the Electric Blue Acara is a curious fish. You’ll find it constantly exploring new areas of your tank and inspecting things that are out of the ordinary. This will cause constant movement and add another layer of interest to your tank.

Their curious nature drives them to be diggers. If you have sand or gravel on the bottom of your tank, you’ll often find your Electric Blue Acara rooting through them and digging for debris it may find interesting or for food.

This also means they’ll clear out a moderate amount of algae from the bottom of your tank. A fish that works for you is hard to beat.

However, this also means that your plants may be in danger if they’re known to be fragile. They’ll sometimes root around the base of plants and nibble at the stem. If you have a few special plants that are near and dear to you, keep an eye out for a hungry Electric Blue Acara.

They’re known to display mixed behavior depending on their mood. They can be social and outgoing. They can be seen rooting and actively exploring all regions of a tank.

At other times, they may be shy and timid. You might find them hiding under the cover and structures of your tank.

Appearance & Size

You’ll immediately recognize the Electric Blue Acara because of its stunning color that is impossible to miss.

The light blue, almost-neon color is extremely vibrant and will catch the eye of anyone simply glancing in the direction of your tank.

The color shines along with its scales throughout its entire body and will sometimes catch the reflection of light to create a dazzling effect.

When the scales are looked at in the right light and direction, they may display a green-yellow shine that adds to the wonderful coloration of this beautiful fish.

The edge of their dorsal fin comes equipped with a yellow-orange lining that pairs well with its electric blue coloring. The vibrant shades of yellow and orange starkly contrast against the largely blue colors of the fish. This creates an eye-popping effect and will wow anyone taking a look at your tank.

You and others may even find yourself staring in awe because of the unique color patterns of the Electric Blue Acara. It’s easy to lose yourself in the patterns and beauty it displays.

You’ll notice the color fades at the forehead. The underside of the fish from the dorsal fin to the bottom of their lip is devoid of any coloration and may look to be a whiteish-grey.

You’ll find that their general build is similar to that of other cichlids. They’re longer than they are wide and have a normal torso.

They’re rather small in stature. They grow to about seven inches long, but will often time be a little smaller than that. You’ll be able to house plenty of other fish besides the Electric Blue Acara.

The Ideal Tank Setup

You should always aim to produce an environment that is as close as possible to their natural habitat. Lucky for you, the slow-moving waters of South America and Central America aren’t difficult to replicate well within your tank.

Often, beginning fish keepers will stray toward gravel to line the bottom of their tanks. This is because it’s usually more easily accessible and promoted in supply stores.

However, when considering introducing an Electric Blue Acara into your tank, you should lean toward providing a sand substrate. The Blue Acara will often rummage and dig through the debris at the bottom of your tank. If you use gravel, it may become injured or hurt itself from the constant interaction against the sharp edges of the rock.

Beyond the substrate, it’s helpful to add a lot of structure and surfaces throughout your tank. Floating and potted plants are ideal so that your Blue Acara won’t nibble and tear the base of them.

Other good ideas include driftwood, caves, flat rocks, and other similar structures. This will provide the fish with adequate places to hide and relax when it’s not out exploring. It’ll also give the fish more of a ‘home’ within a tank.

Tank and Conditions

Ideal tank conditions aren’t complicated for the Electric Blue Acara but may be considered above average when compared to other fish.

The most important factor is providing proper water aeration. Use devices such as a powerhead filter to create a strong flow that can recreate the water movements of the lakes, streams, and rivers that it naturally habitats.

Water Parameters

If the water conditions aren’t adequate or are constantly fluctuating, you may cause an increase in stress on your Electric Blue Acara.

In the short term, you can expect this to disorientate the fish and cause it to be less active than usual. In the long term, this can bring out diseases and other harmful side effects that will plague your Blue Acara and other fish it shares the tank with.

With this in mind, you should be maintaining proper and consistent water conditions at all times for the benefit of all the fish in the tank.

Ideally, the water temperature should range from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Whatever temperature you choose to remain, it must remain consistent. Fluctuating even within the ideal temperatures will still cause stress levels to rise in the Electric Blue Acara.

Regarding pH levels, the water should be somewhere between 7 and 7.5. Although, going up to 8 would be acceptable as well. They prefer a slightly acidic to a slightly alkaline range of pH levels.

The water hardness will be the least relevant water condition to maintain, but it can still be important. The Electric Blue Acara is a relatively tough fish and will thrive in water conditions where the water hardness can be a variety of levels.

They’ll do fine in soft as well as incredibly hard water. The water hardness should ideally range between 3dH up to 20dH. You’ll have a large range of water hardness to pick from, so consider optimizing it for other species of fish within your tank.

Electric Blue Acara Care

The Electric Blue Acara isn’t a difficult fish to care for if you keep your tank and water conditions in check consistently. They’re a non-aggressive fish and will be an exciting, eye-catching addition to your tank.

This has created a boom in the purchasing of Electric Blue Acara. If you’re new to fish keeping, this can be a great starter fish.

Here are some easy steps you can perform to provide a healthy and adequate environment for your Electric Blue Acara:

  • Use a soft substrate such as sand rather than gravel to avoid any bruising to your fish
  • Provide lots of structures and surfaces for exploration and housing
  • Monitor your water conditions and keep them consistently within the recommended ranges
  • Provide well-aerated water to mimic their natural habitat
  • Don’t pair them with other fish who are aggressive as they aren’t adequately equipped to defend themselves.

What to Feed an Electric Blue Acara

As with all fish, providing the right diet will drastically affect your fish’s health.

The Electric Blue Cara is an omnivore, which is surprising considering it’s a relatively friendly fish.

However, they prefer small critters and other insects that are commonly found in their natural habitat. Ideal food options include small insects, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

These types of food aren’t always the most convenient food to buy. It’s okay to skip traditional fish foods such as flakes and pellets, but it’s best to keep their diet varied for the best health.

This goes both ways as well. Don’t solely feed them protein-based foods, throw some flakes and pellets into their waters to give them nutrients that they wouldn’t otherwise get.

Because they’re omnivores, they’re used to a wide range of foods in the wild. You must replicate that as best as you can.

If your Electric Blue Acara is being poorly fed, you’ll easily notice. Their coloration and vibrant shades will begin to fade. Your once eye-popping beauty will be reduced to a pale form of what it used to be. If you notice this beginning to happen, take immediate action to provide a better quality of life.

It’s recommended to space their meals out into two meals per day. Avoid overfeeding and underfeeding by noting how long it takes your Electric Blue Acara to consume its meal.

Ideally, it should take only a couple of minutes to eat all the food that you’re providing it. If you find that it’s taking several minutes or mere seconds to devour a meal, you’re either underfeeding or overfeeding it.

Electric Blue Acara Tank Mates and Compatibility

You’ll have the option to have a wide variety of fish when considering the Electric Blue Acara for your tank.

Their peaceful nature will keep them from creating other problems with more aggressive or territorial fish.

Avoid pairing them with fish that are known to be aggressive as their small stature and structure don’t leave them with adequate tools to defend themselves from larger fish.

Ideally, you’ll want to pair it with other fish who are known to be peaceful as well.

Here are some fish that can be paired with Electric Blue Acaras in your tank

  • Rainbowfish
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Guppies
  • Oscars
  • Other Blue Acaras

It should be noted that the best tank mate for an Electric Blue Acara is another of it’s kind! This is great because you’ll be able to add a lot of excitement and color without worrying about having an aggressive fish in your community tank.

Ideally, you’ll want these fish paired. This will ensure that one Electric Blue Acara is alone and can be easily picked on by other fish.

If you don’t see the fish you were looking for on the list, don’t fret. This is a simple, shortlist that doesn’t cover all of the species that would be great tank mates.

If you have a species in mind that is a non-aggressive and peaceful fish, it’ll likely pair well with the Electric Blue Acara.


The Electric Blue Acara is unlike most of their other relatives in terms of easily breeding them.

Often, other family members of the Electric Blue Acara are unable to breed in stereotypical tank conditions. They’ll normally be bred at commercial farms.

However, Electric Blue Acaras don’t have this problem.

Use a separate tank that’s purpose is solely for breeding. It should be at least 20 gallons and have a water temperature between 75 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Provide flat rocks and similar structures to give the fish a place to ay their eggs. In general, the flatter the surface the better for protecting the eggs.

Electric Blue Acaras aren’t shy about their mating, so you’ll be easily able to tell when a batch of eggs is on its way.

They’ll clear a spot at the bottom of the tank for their nest and you’ll be having your own baby Electric Blue Acaras!

Health Risks for the Electric Blue Acara

Like all fish, the Electric Blue Acara is susceptible to multiple types of diseases. However, there isn’t a disease that solely affects them. You’ll simply have to be on the lookout for the common diseases that plague all fish

These may include:

  • Ich
  • Skin fluke

These diseases and others are easily preventable by providing a high-quality and varied diet and maintaining proper water conditions.

In Summary

Overall, the Electric Blue Acara is a wonderful fish for anyone wanting to add a special flair to a single tank or a community tank.

They’re easy to care for and are perfect for beginners. Veterans will find pleasure in their beautiful colors and compatibility with many species of fish.

They’re one of the most popular fish in the world to find themselves in a hobbyist’s tank, and for good reason.

If you’re a beginner or veteran, the Electric Blue Acara is a fish that should never be overlooked.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Siamese Algae Eater Complete Care Guide: Is This Fish Right For Your Tank?

Siamese algae eater care guide

Both beginners and veterans of the fish keeping world can attest to how much of pain algae can be in your tank.

It’ll cover the walls, the floor, and it’d cover the ceiling too if it could! It’s can become exhausting keeping up with the number of algae and debris that your tank produces from housing several species of fish.

This can severely damage plants and the health of other fish if left unchecked.

That’s why bottom feeders and algae eaters have become an increasingly popular addition to tanks across the world.

This is where the Siamese Algae Eater comes in. They’re a unique fish and incredibly popular for their abilities to efficiently clean most of the algae within a tank.

On top of saving you time from cleaning the tank, you’ll save a bit of money by not having to buy it food. Your tank will adequately feed them and provide all the nutrients it needs.

Siamese algae eater care guide

Species Summary

The Siamese Algae Eater, or the Crossocheilus oblongus, is a wonderful addition to tank;, especially for beginners.

They’re a freshwater fish that hails from the carp family, Cyprinidae and are known to be extremely friendly and sociable with other fish in community tanks.

They’re ideal in large groups but will do well when kept by themselves as well. No matter how few or many fish are in your tank, the Siamese Algae Eater fits right in without an issue.

Their native habitat lies in Southeast Asian, mainly in the countries of Malaysia and Thailand. However, they’ve come a long way from their homes. Nowadays, breeders all over the world bring in millions of new Siamese Algae Eaters to be shipped all over the world.

They’re so popular because of their ability to defeat algae more so than any other species. They’re one of the best algae eaters available. That skillset coupled with their relatively easy care guidelines makes this one of the best species for beginner and veteran fish keepers to show off in their tank.

Another unique benefit of the Siamese Algae Eater is that they’re incredibly social and active. They’ll be bouncing off the walls and keep your tank lively and full of excitement. This also means that your Algae Eater will cover more ground and thus eat more algae in the process. It’s a win-win scenario.

Like most other algae eaters, they produce a large amount of waste. This is why a medium-sized tank of at least 20 gallons is recommended to house these fish. You’ll run into this problem with almost all algae eaters that can live in your tank so be prepared if that’s something you’re wanting to incorporate.

Be careful of having too many of this fish in your arsenal, you may find yourself having to clean their waste instead of them removing it for you.

Behavioral Notes

Siamese Algae Eaters are social, especially when you have them paired with others of their species.

They like to form groups and feed along the bottom of your tank together in a group. This group feeding can be interesting to watch. This coupled with the fact that they’re an active species means you may have a couple of bullets whizzing around in your tank.

They aren’t an aggressive species but other fish may mistake them to be. This is because of how quickly they move. They may bounce off of other fish or invaded their spaces. If you have other fish that are territorial or known to have a short fuse, it could cause issues.

However, the Siamese Algae Eater doesn’t mean it. They’re generally incredibly kind and friendly with other species. There are some instances where it has been noted that the Siamese Algae Eater is capable of being an aggressive fish. But, those instances are few and far between.

If you do happen to notice that they become aggressive, immediately remove them from the situation. They aren’t well-equipped to be fighting other fish and may become seriously hurt. Hopefully, you won’t run into this issue.

If you want the best community tank possible, pair them with other friendly species and let them loose. You’ll soon find you’ll have one of the liveliest tanks possible with activity always happening.

Siamese Algae Eater Appearance & Size

Being from the carp family, the Siamese Algae Eater looks extremely similar to other members of the family. The main difference is that they’re much smaller.

Their body is long and narrow and may reach up to a meager six inches. The small size and stature of this fish mean they’re great to have in small groups, even in small to moderately-sized tanks.

They have scales that line their body from head to tail. These scales are hard and will flake off but form the bulk of the protection for the Siamese Algae Eater.

Their colors may include:

  • Pale grey
  • Gold
  • Black stripes

A typical Siamese Algae Eater may have a gold coloring to their scales with a long stripe that runs horizontally across the fish.

If you find a stripe on your Algae Eater, you can use this as an indicator of their health. Sometimes the stripe may fade in color. This can indicate a variety of issues including stress or feeling threatened by a predator.

They can fade their colors to increase their ability to blend in with the background and hide from aggressive fish. It’s their camouflage.

On the flip side, a faded strip may also indicate that it’s mating season. If you notice that your Siamese Algae Eater begins to go through a mating process, don’t be surprised when the stripe fades.

The Difference Between Male and Female

For almost half of the Siamese Algae Eater’s life, there is largely no difference between male and female fish.

The only giveaway between the two will be their size. After approximately four years, the females will begin to get larger than the males. The females may reach a size of up to 30 percent bigger than a male fish.

Siamese Algae Eater VS Flying Fox

It’s been a conundrum since the beginning of fish keeping.

The Siamese Algae Eater and Flying Fox look almost identical but are vastly different species of fish. They’ve been confusing amateurs and experts alike for years.

If you’re looking at the two side by side, you’ll notice that they both have similarly colored scales and a black stripe that runs along the side of its body. If you’re not well-versed in the differences, you can be easily fooled like many others are.

The easiest way to see a difference is by inspecting the black line that runs along the side of the fish. A flying fox’s stripe will typically appear smoother and will end where the tail fin begins.

The Siamese Algae Eater’s stripe is similar, but not the same. Their black stripe will continue until it reaches the end of the tail find, not the beginning.

If you can closely inspect both fish, there is an even easier option. However, it’ll be difficult to see if your fish are flying every which way within your tank.

If you can, check the corner of the mouth for a flap. If you find one, you’ll know it’s a Flying Fox rather than the Siamese Algae Eater. In the same vein, if you don’t find a flap, you can safely conclude it’s a Siamese Algae Eater.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Like with any species of fish, you’ll want to imitate the natural environment of your fish as best as possible.

Because of their origins in Southeast Asia, their habitat will imitate their family member, the Asian Carp, closely.

These types of habitat have several things in common that you should aim for:

  • Slow current
  • Slightly acidic water
  • Lots of structure such as driftwood, rocks, sand, and caves
  • A ton of plants or vegetation

They require these structures because they’re a bit of a shy fish. Their time is spent either feeding or in the structure that they’ve deemed their home. They rarely will venture to the top of the water column and generally stay toward the bottom where their food supply is at.

Try having several pieces of wood and shaded areas that can provide the fish with a sense of protection. This will keep them happy and comfortable

Regarding the conditions of your tank, you’ll want a soft, sandy bottom ideally. Because they live near the bottom and feed on the bottom, they can be easily scraped if there are sharp objects strewn about your tank. However, their scales will adequately protect them from gravel and other similar surfaces so don’t fret too much.

While the Siamese Algae Eater is an herbivore, it shouldn’t be targeting any of your plants. They’ll typically stick to algae that naturally grow along the bottom of the tank or on top of surfaces and structures. If you notice that they are beginning to feed on your plants, it’s a sign that they’re being underfed or not receiving enough nutrients from the algae that are being naturally produced.

Keep your Algae Eaters well fed to avoid your plants being nibbled on.

Recommended Tank Mates for the Siamese Algae Eater

The Siamese Algae Eater is a friendly fish that you won’t typically have to worry about being aggressive.

However, because they live on the bottom, you should be aware that other bottom feeders tend to be aggressive. Make sure you’re avoiding species that have this problem.

Avoid other aggressive fish that are known to attack other fish such as bettas and cichlids.

Danios, guppies, and other smaller, non-aggressive fish are the best candidates to keep your Siamese Algae Eater company throughout their days.

Food & Diet

For the most part, you won’t have to spend too much time feeding your Siamese Algae Eater.

The reason can be found in their names. Normally, they’ll be kept happy by the algae that are being naturally produced in your tank. However, if you find that your tank isn’t producing enough algae or other food, you can feed your Algae Eaters a variety of vegetables

This can include:

  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage leaves
  • Other various nutritional vegetables

Be careful of overfeeding, Siamese Algae Eaters are known to be some of the hungriest fish you can find on the market. They’ll constantly be eating if given the opportunity.


Siamese Algae Eaters are notoriously difficult to breed outside of a breeding environment on a commercial farm.

The act of sex is difficult as well because females become increasingly larger as they get older.

Unfortunately, not a lot of information is known on how to reproduce breeding environments outside of a commercial environment.

Siamese Algae Eater Care

Siamese Algae Eaters are generally a fairly healthy fish. They aren’t known to get any strains of serious diseases, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become sick.

There are some easy steps you can perform to ensure that your fish is living in a healthy and adequate environment:

  • Keep the quality of your water high a consistently clean it
  • Be mindful of chemicals and toxins you may introduce into your tank through foreign objects or plastic materials
  • Don’t be stingy, give them high-quality food when feeding them substances other than algae

Are They Right for You?

The Siamese Algae Eater is perfect for a beginner and can prove incredibly useful an interesting to a veteran fish keeper as well. Regardless if you’re new to keeping fish or have been doing it for years, keeping a few of these fish in your tank is hardly ever a bad idea.

Because their easy to take care of and a generally friendly fish, you’ll be granted a lot of leniency regarding mistakes you may make.

In the end, you receive a cleaner tank and a friendly, beautiful fish to keep your tank lively and exciting.

There perfect or community tanks and make your life easier. It’s a combo you’ll rarely find.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Silver Dollar Fish Care 101: Size, Tank Mates, Care and More…

Silver Dollar Fish Care Guide

The Silver Dollar Fish, also known as Metynnis argenteus, derives its name from its appearance. It is a large, flat fish, silver in color, which is native to the rivers of South America. It belongs to the same family as the Piranha and the Pacus, the Characidae family. 

Although the silver dollar fish’s relatives (such as the Piranha) are famous for been aggressive carnivores, the silver dollar fish itself feeds on a primarily herbivorous diet, although due to its occasional eating of meat, it is technically classified as an omnivore.

In the wild, silver dollar fish are generally herbivores, but they will feed on meat if an easy meal is to be had. It generally inhabits small tributaries heavily overgrown with vegetation. It can then feed quite easily on the plentiful vegetable matter. 

In fact, they’re one of popular freshwater fish in community aquariums. They are easy to care for so long as you’re aware of some specific requirements.

Silver Dollar Fish Care Guide

Species Summary

The scientific name for this fish is derived wholly from its appearance. Metynnis, meaning ‘with plowshare’ which refers to the laterally flattened body, and, argenteus, means ‘covered with silver,’ and Metynnis, means ‘with plowshare,’ a term which refers to the flattened body of the fish.

They are generally sold online and at pet shops for reasonable prices in bulk, since they need to be kept in groups (the minimum number of silver dollar fish in a tank is five). These fish are naturally skittish and nervous and they are used to travelling in schools, so the more silver dollar fish in a school, the better. 

Silver dollar fish are easily startled; when startled, they may jump out of the aquarium, so a lid is necessary for your silver dollar tank.

Appearance & Habitat

The term “silver dollar fish” can refer to a number of different species within the Metynnis genus. Of particular note are the following two kinds of silver dollar fish: the spotted silver dollar fish and the red hood silver dollar fish.

Spotted Silver Dollar Fish

The spotted silver dollar fish has a body with silver as the background color but is distinguishable by the black spots found on its body, as its name suggests. This species of fish is native to French Guyana as well as Brazil. The spotted silver dollar fish can grow to a maximum length of 6.5 inches.

Red Hook Silver Dollar Fish

The red hook silver dollar fish, also known as Myleus rubripinnis, has an anal fin which is distinctive for its black trim and its red coloration. This kind of coloration for a silver dollar fish is unique and fairly obvious, making this type of fish easily identifiable. 

It originates in the rainforests of South America. The red hook silver dollar fish can reach a length of up to nine inches in an aquarium environment and of up to twenty-two inches in the wild.

Silver Dollar Fish Tank Setup

Silver dollar fish are of the tropical freshwater variety, so the aquarium which houses them ought to mimic the natural habitat of the fish as closely as possible. These are pelagic fish, which means that most of the silver dollars’ swimming will take place toward the middle section and the top section of the water column, so they will require open free swimming areas.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Silver dollar fish require a fairly large tank size: the tank needs to be able to hold at least 75 gallons of water for a school of five fish (which is the minimum number of silver dollar fish which ought to be kept together). 

A 100 gallon tank is even more highly recommended, since these fish are so active and large, despite their peacefulness. For every fish you plan to add to the school, another ten gallons of water must be added. If you have the space and the wherewithal, the more silver dollar fish, the better; this will cause them to feel more secure.

Maintaining a tank of this size is quite a commitment, but for those with a moderate level of experience, a tank with silver dollar fish can make a lovely community aquarium.


Clean water is important for maintaining the health of your silver dollar fish, so a moderate flow rate and proper filtration are essential. 

For this type of fish, use a large canister filter. The filter should be big enough to contain a large population of filtering microorganisms. It should also be able to pump a large enough volume of water to process the dissolved wastes in the tank. 

Filters have a gallons per hour (GPH) rating that determines the size of tank for which they are suitable and how much water they can pump in one hour. A good rule of thumb for choosing a filter is that it should have a GPH four times the volume of the aquarium. 

A 75 gallon tank, therefore, should have a filter with a GPH of 300. A 100 gallon tank would need a filter with a GPH of 400. Also, place a few power heads in the tank to assist with oxygenation and the movement of water

A power head is a supplementary water pump placed inside the tank which contributes to the flow of water. However, do not use glass power heads, since these can be shattered easily by a fish as active as the silver dollar.


Choose a heater which will be able to maintain the tank water temperature at the optimal level for your silver dollar fish (between 75 and 82°F). Be sure that the heater can keep the water temperature stable, since sudden changes in temperature will be bad for the health of the fish and the overall aquarium. 

Just as you should not use any glass power heads in your silver dollar tank, you also should not use glass heaters, as these can also be shattered by the fish, which are very active.

Plants And Decorations

Since silver dollar fish have a primarily herbivorous diet, the plants placed in the aquarium should not be too tasty. Hornwort and java fern are good choices. 

Silver dollar fish will attempt to uproot and eat most other types of plants, so a lush and gorgeous emerald green aquascape with a lot of live aquatic plants will not suit this type of fish. If you desire this kind of lush aquarium design, you may want to consider another type of fish. 

However, silver dollar fish are rather nervous and fairly skittish, so it is good to provide them cover and shelter in the form of tall artificial plants. These can be placed in the back of the tank. The rest of the tank should be left fairly open to provide plenty of swimming areas for the fish, which are quite active and require a lot of space to swim freely.


Silver dollar fish require a low, more subdued amount of light, preferring their surroundings to be somewhat dim. Using a substrate that is darker in color can help with meeting their lighting needs, as it will reduce the amount of light that is reflected throughout the tank.

Water Parameters

The water temperature in the tank for your silver dollar fish ought to be maintained between 75 and 82°F with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5 and a KH of at least 3. The hardness of the water is somewhat flexible, ranging from 4 to 18 dGH.

How to Care for the Silver Dollar Fish

Silver dollar fish are fairly hardy, healthy, and resistant to a wide variety of diseases. If they are properly cared for, silver dollar fish can live for approximately ten years. 

The fact that they are hardy and resistant to most diseases does not mean that you will never encounter any diseases with your silver dollar fish. Plants, decorations, substrate, and even other fish can carry bacteria. 

Be sure to maintain the cleanliness of your tank with proper filtration and quarantine any problems so as not to upset the health balance of the tank. If a silver dollar fish gets sick, usually the disease will be limited to just one or a few of the fish in the tank, and this can be dealt with easily at an early stage. The best way to prevent disease in your silver dollar fish is to provide a proper diet and a healthy environment. 

Diseases you may encounter with the silver dollar fish include skin flukes, ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (worms, protozoa, etc.), general bacterial infections, and bacterial diseases.

Silver dollar fish are fairly peaceful fish and are very active swimmers that require a large amount of open space for free swimming. They will generally not bother other fish, although if placed with fish that are tiny, they will most likely be tempted to eat them by swallowing them whole.

Despite being generally peaceful most of the time, silver dollar fish can become somewhat aggressive during feeding times and may chase the other fish around the aquarium.

Foods and Feeding

Silver dollar fish are omnivores but prefer to be mainly herbivorous in diet. The silver dollar feeds on primarily vegetable foodstuffs, such as lettuces, plants, chickweed, cress, larger vegetable flakes, spinach, carrots, peas, cucumbers, boiled potatoes, pellets, tablets, and fruits. 

It can also benefit from spirulina formula. It occasionally enjoys brine shrimp and bloodworms or other tiny fish. Ideally, this fish feeds numerous times each day. Provide to the fish only what they are able to consume in three minutes or fewer per feeding.

Silver Dollar Fish Tank Mates

Silver dollar fish require tank mates and should definitely not be raised on their own. A group of five silver dollar fish, at minimum, is highly recommended. The more fish, the better. They will feel more secure in a larger group.

Generally speaking, silver dollar fish are fairly peaceful and will not bother other fish. But do not keep them with any fish (that are extremely tiny (less than one inch in length), as they may eat such smaller fish, swallowing them whole.

If you want to keep other fish with your silver dollar fish in a community aquarium, choose tank mates which are peaceful enough not to bother other fish and large enough not to be eaten. 

Some recommended tank mates for silver dollar fish include the green severum, blue acara, angelfish, yoyo loaches, nerite snails, and plecos. Be aware that the first three (green severum, blue acara, and angelfish) are cichlids, which are generally peaceful and normally make excellent tank mates for silver dollar fish, but they become exceedingly aggressive and dangerous to other fish when spawning. 

To prevent this, you can keep the water at a cooler temperature, which will discourage the cichlids from spawning.


Silver Dollar Fish can be bred in captivity fairly easily, but an extremely large breeding tank is required. They may breed on their own in your tank if the environment is comfortable and large. 

Spawning in the wild for silver dollar fish occurs in heavily vegetated, shallow areas of flooded tributaries and rivers. For the greatest chance of success in obtaining breeding pairs, begin with six or more juvenile fish and allow them to grow to sexual maturity (approximately 1 year of age and around 4 inches long, though size can vary).

For optimal results, condition females and males in separate tanks before breeding them. For 7 to 10 days, give them a diet of high quality vegetables and plants. Then choose a small group or breeding pair to transfer into the tank for breeding. When ready for breeding, males darken in color, specifically around the caudal, dorsal, and anal fins, and reddish areas intensify in color.

Prepare a separate breeding tank with warm (79 to 82°F), soft (4-8° dGH), slightly acidic (pH 6.0 to 7.0) water that is shallower in depth. Successful spawning has been achieved at temperatures as high as 90°F. It should hold a minimum of 40 gallons for a breeding pair and even more for a breeding group. 

For filtration, use a small sponge filter (air-powered) to maintain a gentle water flow rate so as not to disturb the breeding process.

The breeding tank should be kept somewhat dim and should contain clusters of java moss or spawning mops on which the eggs can fall. Floating plants should be placed on the surface between which the breeders may spawn. 

Males court females by chasing the females around the breeding tank and maneuvering right next to them. A female who is ready for breeding will release eggs near or within the floating plants, eggs which are then fertilized by the male. The non-adhesive eggs then fall to the tank bottom. Each female may generate up to two thousand eggs, which look slightly yellowish and transparent.

The fry can be raised more easily if you remove the parents from the tank. The eggs take three days to hatch, and the fry can swim on their own between 6 and 9 days later. 

At first, feed them with infusoria-type foods. Later, they will be able to eat small plankton, powdered foods, brine shrimp nauplii, and vegetable flakes. Well-fed fry will grow fast and reach adult sizes in about six to eight months.


In summary, the silver dollar fish is an excellent fish for an aquarium keeper with a moderate level of experience. 

In order to properly care for your silver dollar fish, make sure that you have a tank and an area large enough to accommodate at least five of these fish, as a smaller number will make them overly nervous and skittish. Be sure to provide plenty of open swimming areas.

If you have some experience with keeping an aquarium and are prepared for the commitment (in time, space, energy, and cost) that silver dollar fish require, then it is a beautiful investment which will enhance the aesthetics of the surrounding environment and allow you to care for peaceful, schooling fish with a fair amount of longevity and silvery beauty. 

If you have a large enough tank and you have your heart set on silver dollar fish, then be sure to select plants, decorations, and artificial plants suitable for the kind of water conditions that your silver dollar fish will require. And if you want to have a community tank with different species of fish, be sure that those fish are large enough not to be eaten by the silver dollars and peaceful enough to coexist with them.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

The Complete Rainbow Shark Care Guide 2020: Size, Tank Mates, Feeding and Breeding

The Rainbow Shark isn’t related to the shark family, but it can be a great addition to a fish keeper’s tank.

They earn their shark name because of the shape of their body. They sport a long, green or black body, and a flat abdomen. Their mouths hang at the bottom of their faces and they have fins and large eyes. All these features are commonly associated with the shark family.

They’ll catch the attention of anyone passing by. Their red fins are vibrant and contrast well against the bottom of many tanks.

While they’re beautiful to look at, they can be a bit tricky to keep in your tank.

Rainbow Shark Care Guide

Species Summary

The Rainbow Shark is perfect for those who are relatively new to fish keeping. Even if this will be your first species in your tank, they can be easily cared for with the right information.

Their semi-aggressive temperament and tank requirements can be a bit more demanding than other beginner fish. However, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to effectively take care of your Rainbow Shark, owning one can be a breeze.

Don’t let the downsides ruin the thought of owning a Rainbow Shark, they can be a great addition to a tank and are a beautiful fish to have around. It can bring a lot of life and color to a tropical-themed tank.

Rainbow Shark Behavior

Rainbow Sharks can be a notoriously difficult fish to keep in line for beginner fish keepers.

This is because they can be highly territorial and aggressive.

If you have other fish such as Guppies, Betas, or Mollies, be on the lookout. The Rainbow Shark will often chase around and harass these friendlier fish who won’t strike back at them. They’re also known to be aggressive with other fish who can be equally aggressive.

Because of this, It’s important to provide the ideal tank setup for a Rainbow Shark so it won’t feel compelled to constantly defend its territory.

If you do plan on inviting your Rainbow Shark into a community tank, you should be warned that it won’t play well with others if there are too many fish.

Even if you place the Rainbow Shark in a larger tank (above 50 gallons), it can be a difficult fish to handle if more than three or four other fish is sharing its space.

The fish won’t display many of these aggressive behaviors at first. When they’re younger and in their juvenile phase, they’ll often be timid and shy. You’ll find in the corners of your tank or underneath structures for the most part. They’ll continue to hide until they feel confident enough to become a predator as an adult.

It should be noted that this fish isn’t known for jumping out of the tank, but the behavior has been noted from them when initially being placed in a tank. Because of this, you must have a lid on the top of your tank, especially when first introducing the Rainbow Shark to its new home.

As an adult, most of their time will be spent on the bottom of your tank. They enjoy feeding on the algae that are naturally produced at the bottom of your tank or along surfaces such as driftwood or grave.

Because they spend much of their on the bottom, they’ll be most aggressive to other fish that live in the same area. If you’re going to put the Rainbow Shark in the same tank as other fish, it’s a good idea to pair it with fish that will spend most of their time toward the top of the water column.


The Rainbow Shark looks like how you would imagine, like a shark. Besides the fact that they’re not in the shark family, the main difference is the size of the Rainbow Shark.

For having ‘shark’ in its name, it doesn’t grow nearly as large as sharks. You can expect the Rainbow Shark to grow to a maximum of six inches. If you have one of these in your tank, don’t expect it o take an overwhelmingly large amount of space.

Their bodies will be elongated and have a dark-greenish color to it. On the underside, the fish has an equally long stomach that is both flat and long.

Their snouts will be pointed and their mouthers will be on the lower half of it. Their large eyeballs will gleam in the water and give it the appearance of the predator of the sea.

Interestingly, their mouths also house two antenna-like whiskers. They protrude from the front and are used by the Rainbow Shark to help detect its surroundings and feed more effectively on the bottom of your tank.

They also have an upright dorsal fin. This fin, fins on the underside and their tail are all typically colored in a vibrant, dark red.

All of these features combine to help the Rainbow Shark truly look like the beasts we all know that call the sea they’re home.

Differences Between Male and Female

The Rainbow Shark has a couple of different key distinctions between males and females. You should be able to tell their genders apart with relative ease.

Males will have a body that is significantly thinner than their female counterparts. Their beautiful, red dorsal fins will also be beaded with thin and black stripes.

These features should be easily spotted from outside of the tank, you shouldn’t need to pull them out to tell the key differences.

Tank Setup

The Rainbow Shark hails from the tropical freshwaters of Thailand. Because of its origins, you’ll want to do your best to imitate the same habitats that they would find in the wild.

They do the best when their substrate consists of sand, similar to the waters of their homeland. Their fins aren’t well protected, so using gravel is ideal for keeping their bodies in top condition.

If you intend to use gravel, be wary that the sharp edges of the rock can damage their fins. However, gravel can be a great attractor for algae to constantly feed your Rainbow Shark or other bottom feeders.

The Rainbow Shark is an extremely active fish. It’ll constantly be zipping across your tank, bumping into other fish and structures alike. This can bring a lively atmosphere to your tank and keep it consistently interesting to the eye. Because of this, it’s recommended to use a tank of at least 50 gallons. Any less and you’ll be depriving the Rainbow Shark of a healthy environment.

Their frequent movement also calls or a long, horizontally-shaped tank. Ensure that your tank has plenty of widths so the Rainbow Shark can freely move where it pleases.

If you’re worried about the aggression toward other fish, a possible solution may fill your tank with dense vegetation or many plants. Having increased vegetation will distract the Rainbow Shark and keep it busy feeding instead of constantly bumping into other fish in the tank. This can also help reduce the number of algae in your tank!

On top of this, the decreased space will allow for less room for the Rainbow Shark to make its home. This can quickly cause territorial issues with other fish who feel like their home is being invaded by the Rainbow Shark or vice versa.

If you’re planning on having more than one Rainbow Shark, you’ll need at least a 120-gallon aquarium that’s at least six feet wide to provide plenty of space for both Rainbow Sharks.

However, it’s not recommended to keep more than one in your tank at a time. They don’t play with others and that means they don’t play well with those of the same species. Because they’ll be so territorial and have a habit of disturbing other fish, you can quickly create a feud between the two.

There should also be plenty of structure and cover throughout the tank to decrease aggression from the Rainbow Shark. It’s territorial and won’t like its space being intruded upon. By having multiple structures, caves, and cover for the Rainbow Shark to live within, you’ll allow it and other fish to have more options in terms of the space they occupy.

How to Care

The Rainbow Shark doesn’t require extravagant conditions to be met within the tank, but there is important information you should note.

The temperature should be kept between 75 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit, and a water hardness of between five and 11 DH for optimal health.

If other fish in your tank requires a large amount of oxygen or aeration, the fish may not be the most appropriate choice. They’ll need a stable and moderate amount of water movement. If you’re trying to replicate a river or stream’s level of oxygenation in your tank, it may be too much for the Rainbow Shark.

It’s important to note that the pH level must be kept relatively stable, even within the 6.5 and 7.5 range. If a sudden change happens to pH levels, in either direction, it will cause the Rainbow Shark to become irritated and increasingly aggravated. This will cause them to become more aggressive than usual and will cause you a giant headache.

Lighting should be kept at a moderate level, although the Rainbow Shark isn’t too picky when it comes to lighting.

Ideal Tank Mates for a Rainbow Shark

The Rainbow Shark is a semi-aggressive fish, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get along well with other types of freshwater fish species.

You’ll have to be a bit picky when choosing a tank mate, but it’s not impossible. Look for species of fish that will spend most of their time in the upper water column of your tank. That way, your Rainbow Shark and other fish won’t interact as much with each other. This separation is key when considering a tank mate.

In the same vein, don’t consider fish that dwell on the bottom of the tank. This could be the Siamese Algae Eater, catfish, or cichlids. These are all species of fish that will spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank and thus be a problem for the Rainbow Shark.

Appropriate fish will be able to hold their own against the Rainbow Shark. If they can adequately defend themselves in the face of aggression, they’ll receive less attention from your Rainbow Shark.

This mutual respect will bring peace to your tank and can be an effective strategy for creating a small community for your Rainbow Shark.

Rainbowfish, Barbs, and Gouramis are all appropriate fish that will co-habitat well with a Rainbow Shark.

Once these other fish have established their territory, the Rainbow Shark will be much less likely to claim its territory over a large portion of the tank. You’ll have less trouble with its aggression issues.

Pro Tip: The Rainbow Shark will try to claim its space immediately. Because of this, it can be helpful to place the Rainbow Shark in your tank last out of all your fish.

Multiple Rainbow Sharks in a Tank

In general, keeping these aquarium fish  with others of its kind is a bad idea for a fish keeper.

When found in the wild, Rainbow Sharks will be loners and not interact with any other fish. This includes its kind.

If you’ll be keeping multiple Rainbow Sharks, be prepared for continuous brawls. The larger of the Rainbow Sharks will typically overcome the other and claim its space.

This is because of their above-average movement throughout the tank. An average fish keeper simply won’t have a large enough space within their tank to be able to comfortably accommodate more than one Rainbow Shark.

If you find that you will be able to have a large enough tank, some helpful tips can guide you along your way:

  • If you keep more than one, keep a lot. By having a large group of them, the largest of all the Rainbow Sharks will be constantly dealing with multiple fish. This will create less overall stress on an individual Rainbow Shark.
  • Keeping two Rainbow Sharks will almost certainly lead to the death of one. Their attention will be undivided for a large majority of their time and you’ll soon find that you’re back to one Rainbow Shark.
  • The horizontal length of your tank is just as important as the amount of water it can hold. A tank with more than one Rainbow Fish should be at last 120-gallons large and at least six feet wide to provide enough space for the group of them.

What To Feed Them

Rainbow Sharks aren’t picky eaters.

They’ll consume most materials and debris that find their way to the bottom of the tank. If you find that this isn’t enough algae and other food substances, you can simply feed them traditional fish food.

This includes:

  • Pellets
  • Vegetables
  • Live food
  • Flake food

You should keep their diet varied for the best health. If you fail to provide a varied diet, their growth and development may become stunted and they won’t grow to their true size. Try switching up the food it eats every few days or after a week. Keep a rotation for them.

Some examples of food include traditional vegetables, insect larvae, brine shrimp and frozen bloodworms.

You’ll be able to tell that your Rainbow Shark is eating will by their coloration. The shading should be vibrant and beautiful.

Spread their feeding times throughout the day. A full day’s worth of food should be given out in at least two sessions if not three.


Breeding Rainbow Sharks within an aquarium setting is extremely difficult. Success isn’t often found outside of commercial purposes.

This is likely because of natural events that occur in the fall. In the wild, the Rainbow Shark will mate during October and November. The actual spawning season is triggered by falling temperatures and water conditions, which are incredibly difficult to replicate in an aquarium setting.

Is A Rainbow Shark Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Overall, the Rainbow Shark is a beautiful and exciting fish to have dwell in your tank.

However, they come with their own set of issues and can quickly become a problem fish if you’re not knowledgeable enough to provide a peaceful habitat.

If you’re considering owning a Rainbow Shark, ensure you can properly provide for it or you’ll be doing a disservice to its tankmates as well as the Rainbow Shark itself.

If you’re a beginner, it’s okay. You’ve done the first step of researching the fish, you simply must be careful in your planning to provide a good habitat for your Rainbow Shark.

Plus, they help clean the algae in your tank for you. What’s not to love about that?

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Jack Dempsey Fish Care: Tank Mates, Diet, Size, And More!

Jack Dempseys, more commonly referred to as Rocio octofasciata, are a tropical climate fish found in murky waters. Named after the famed American World Heavyweight Champion boxer, these fish belong to the cichlid order. Specifically, the South American Cichlid. As such, Jack Dempseys typically stay in waters of a temperature of 72-86 °F (22-30 °C).

By having a lengthy lifespan, these cichlids make great fish to keep in an aquarium. If properly maintained and cared for, Jack Dempseys can live for up to eight to 10 years. In the healthiest of environments, some have even made it to 15!

jack dempseys fish care guide

Typical Behavior

Like their namesake, Jack Dempseys have strong facial features and a rather aggressive demeanor. When they are under stress, their colors will change dramatically. Cichlids do better when provided with plenty of space and compatible fish with which to swim. These types like to burrow, so make sure that their tank has a lot of fine, deep sand.

Any form of decoration will do that allows your Jack Dempseys to hide, as they will often do. They also prefer direct light blocked from coming in. To accommodate this, place a blanket of live plants to sit on top of the water.

Since Jack Dempseys like to eat plant-life, be mindful of which genus you choose. Sagittaria is a great species that seems to well serve this purpose. It’s a horizontal creeper that is rather tough and hardy, helping to prevent it from being eaten and destroyed.

Keep in mind, though, that this can change overnight depending on their mood. They may like it at first. But should they change their mind, they may deliberately destroy it.

Appearance and Size

Their appearance somewhat resembles a speckled egg. When born, they start out as a light gray or tan color with turquoise flecks. Once they have matured, this coloration changes to a darker purple or gray. Much brighter flecks will be prevalent, too. These can be blue, gold, or green. Reaching their true coloration and design can take well over a year.

Discerning between sexes is simple. Male Jack Dempseys usually have a lot more spots than their female counterparts. Also different in males are bright red edgings along their fins. Some males will also develop a black round spot at either the middle of their body or the base of the tail.

Females can likewise get these spots, albeit smaller and in different locations. These are typically found on their dorsal fin and gill cover. Both of these cichlids can grow to a size of anywhere between 10 and 15 inches in total length.

Their bodies are more oval-shaped with pointy fins. Since becoming aquarium-kept fish in recent years, different color variations have been captive-bred. The most famous and sought after is the brilliant Electric Blue Jack Dempsey. Standard breeds will usually cost around five to 10 bucks. But an Electric Blue can be closer to $20.

Tank and Water Conditions

Jack Dempseys are native to Central America, Guatemala, Honduras, North America, and Yucatan. They live is boggy waters that are warm and swampy. They gravitate to areas that have lots of weeds, along with sandy or muddy floors. You will want to emulate their natural setting as closely as you can.

Begin with at least a 55-gallon tropical freshwater tank. This will accommodate one Jack Dempsey. If you plan on keeping more fish, an increase in tank size is a must. Ensure that their water moves decently, but not too rapidly. A filter will serve this purpose nicely. Since Jack Dempseys like slow-moving waters, you won’t need any pumps.

Floating plants are recommended; just make sure that it adequately blocks light. A moderate to normal lighting level works the best. At the same time, you’ll need to leave plenty of room for your fish to swim. Due to the water becoming murky from their burrowing habits, prime filtration is a must. Jack Dempseys don’t like a lot of direct light, so the more coverage, the better.

Also to that point, any plant-life that you put in the tank will need to be in pots, elsewise the fish may dig them up. Plenty of fine sand and rocks will serve to help with both of these factors. Also important is the water’s pH level, which needs to be between 6.5 to 7.0.

Jack Dempseys live among temperatures as high as 86 °F in the wild. But they have shown more aggressive behavior in warmer waters. Most owners find that maintaining a temperature of 78 °F will keep their cichlids calmer. This is tantamount when living among other fish.

Keep any decorations resting on the bottom spread evenly apart. Jack Dempseys are quick to claim territories. If you are going to keep them in groups, ensure that you have plenty of crevices for each one to inhabit. Any kind of sunken ship, castle, or log will do as long as there are several holes for your fish to hide inside.

Food & Diet

In the wild, Jack Dempseys live on a diet of worms, insects, shrimp, and even other fish. In your home, however, any kind of flake or pellet food should do the job. Be sure to add in some live meaty foods, too. But steer clear of beef and poultry, as this type of meat can be harmful to your cichlid. They will also try to eat any live plants that you may choose to put into the tank.

To alleviate this tendency, toss in some cucumber and lettuce from time to time. It’s certainly fine to feed them their preferred staple of worms and shrimp, but only partially. These fish feed often, so you’ll need to provide flakes and pellets several times a day.

Jack Dempsey Fish Tank Mates

While the Jack Dempsey fish is low maintenance and easy to care for, they don’t play well with others. They tend to become territorial as they grow. You’ll find that it’s easier to keep them with other fish while they’re young. But their behavior will change as they mature.

When kept with other Jack Dempseys and cichlids, they run the risk of getting bitten or eaten in their later stages. You may keep them together at first. but you’ll want to move them to their own tank later on. This will avoid such aggressive and problematic behavior.

If you wish to keep more than one Jack Dempsey, do so in large groups; never keep them in pairs. Shrimps, snails, and even crabs run the risk of harm, so be sure to separate them if you keep these kinds together during the cichlid’s youth.


Jack Dempseys are one of the easiest in their order to get to procreate. But again, if kept in pairs they can even eat their own spawn if their mood changes. This can result from a simple change in their habitat and surrounding. It is vital that you keep close watch of their temperament after breeding and the laying of eggs.

You’ll need to ensure that you provide a hard and flat surface somewhere in the tank on which they can lay their eggs. If you don’t have a flat rock or log, a cleared area on the tank’s bottom glass will do just fine.

As long as your Jack Dempseys’ environment stays normal, you will find them to be very attentive parents. They are also very protective. Both parents like to sit on their eggs for incubation and to guard them.

The female will lay some 500 to 800 eggs. Once hatched, the parental Jack Dempseys will feed their fry as a mother bird does with her young. They will first chew up the food and then release it into the young’s mouth for consumption.

Breeding Jack Dempsey fish is moderately difficult. This stems from their well-documented aggression toward one another. It’s a must that you to keep a close eye on their progress. You’ll need to move them around accordingly.  This will avoid infighting or the potential eating of their fry or one another.

Jack Dempsey Fish Care Guide

It’s vital that you clean your Jack Dempseys’ environment bi-weekly. Water needs added this often to counter the problems caused by natural evaporation. You will generally be replacing 15 to 20% of your tank’s water volume.

Jack Dempseys are very sensitive to incorrect pH levels. Other pollutants can develop when the water gets too hard from evaporation. Any time you’re dealing with tropical fish and their tanks, removing waste is going to be of prime importance. Using a gravel cleaner will help exponentially during the cleaning process.

Once you have moved an aggressive Jack Dempsey to another fish tank, be sure to give your single fish the same level of care that you would give to a group. If you wish to keep many Jack Dempseys but have only one tank, consider going with the Electric Blue variation. They are a smaller, less hostile, and all-around friendlier fish when compared to standard Jack Dempseys.

As with any freshwater fish, Jack Dempseys are prone to infections and other water-borne diseases. Viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases like furunculosis – a deadly serious septicemic plague that is highly contagious – are all known potential dangers to your fish.

Bacterial kidney disease, coldwater disease, vibriosis, and enteric redmouth disease are all concerns that you’ll need to monitor. Jack Dempseys are also able to acquire parasites like worms and protozoa.

Moreover, Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE) is another common disease that is the result of poor tank maintenance. A lack of proper feeding can result in HLLE, as well. Commonly referred to as “hole-in-the-head disease”, this occurs when fish aren’t receiving the proper vitamins.

Providing plenty of essential Vitamin C and Vitamin D, phosphorous, and calcium will help to prevent this awful condition in your fish. It is vital that you research and familiarize yourself with these diseases and conditions. Then you will know exactly what to look for in the event that your fish is susceptible to them.

Proper tank maintenance and precautionary measures go a long way. This will assure that your fish and other aquatic creatures live a long and healthy life while in your care.

Are They Right For You?

The Jack Dempsey fish’s stunning color array makes it a top selection for aquarium owners. They are easy to find in pet stores and are highly affordable fish. They have personalities that lend to some spectacular observations.

Before you commit to Jack Dempseys you need to be sure that you have the capacity to keep them. Each fish needs at least 55 gallons of water. If you’re going to be keeping a group of them, you’ll need a minimum of 80 gallons. As fish that like to stay busy, you can expect a lot of activity in your tank. They are a blast to watch burrow into the sand or hide inside of cave-like decorations.

They are a rather moody fish, which serves to make them moderately difficult in their care. Be prepared to give them a lot of attention throughout their beginning stages of life should you decide to breed them. They will require a lot of moving around initially. But once they get settled into their permanent home, your Jack Dempseys can enjoy a long and comfortable life.

Color varies wildly among their species. Since they are prone to changing, you can’t expect your new purchase to remain in its current state. As it matures, its color scheme will likely look vastly different from its initial look.

Their colors are astonishing to watch change over time. And being temperamental, you may even observe them changing color later in their adulthood. Once you get the hang of how they need attended to, Jack Dempseys will provide your aquarium with thriving splendor.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Red Tail Shark Complete Care Guide: Is This Fish Right For Your Tank?

Red tail sharks are among the most striking freshwater aquarium fish you can find. They’re bright and beautiful, active swimmers, and stand out in almost any tank. Like any fish, they do have some care requirements and behaviors you should know before introducing them to your home tank.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Red Tail Shark, including their origins, behavior, tank and feeding needs, and a lot more.

Red Tail Shark Care Guide

Species Summary

The Red Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos Bicolor) also goes by Red-tailed black shark, is a fish native to Thailand. Once common in Thailand’s streams and small fresh-water bodies, it’s now thought to be extinct in Thailand. Unfortunately poaching for the fish tank trade is thought to be behind the species’ disappearance from its native habitats. But the same fish tank trade now keeps the species alive.

While it’s called a shark and looks and acts much like a shark, you don’t have to worry about this fish trying to chow down on its tank mates. The Red Tail Shark is a member of the carp family, needs a high-quality diet, and prefers its own space.

Red Tail Shark Behavior

Red Tail Sharks are considered a semi-aggressive fish. They don’t generally get into fights or cause problems in your tank just because they can. But they are a territorial fish, and well capable of harassing other fish to death if they don’t have enough space and high-quality food.

A happy Red Tail Shark will spend a lot of its time cruising through the water looking for food. It isn’t a schooling fish and won’t usually join a school or tank mates (although they can encourage schooling behavior in other fish).

They also occasionally zip back and forth across the bottom of the tank, just above the substrate. This is normal behavior in a Red Tail Shark not a cause for concern.

Red Tail Sharks often tend to find a secluded area in the bottom third of your tank to call their home. This can be a cave decoration, a piece of driftwood or behind/under substantial tank plants. Once they’ve marked this territory, they’ll spend a good bit of time there and will chase away any other fish that come too close.

You need to make sure there is plenty of room for Red Tail Sharks to set up this territory. They’re very willing to chase other fish and can chase a fish into exhaustion when there isn’t enough room ‘outside’ their territory.

Red Tail Sharks are also somewhat prone to jumping out of tanks. They jump when excited, when looking for food, and sometimes as a result of territorial disputes. Most of the time this won’t be an issue as long as you have a good tank lid.

These fish also have an amusing behavior when happy. They’ll try to fit themselves into small spaces and crevices within the tank, usually leaving their red tails sticking out as a big flag. They think they’re hidden and sneaky, but are adorably obvious.


Red Tail Sharks are well named. They have bright red tails with dark back bodies. There are some other fish (like Rainbow Shark) that look similar to Red Tail Sharks with red fins in addition to the red tails, but these aren’t the same fish.

Females and males are very similar in appearance in their juvenile phase and remain mostly similar throughout life.

Their coloration is similar, with neither sex being noticeably more striking in good tank conditions. Females, however, do tend to be slightly larger and with a more noticeable belly curve as they mature.

Unlike some other fish, especially bright color is not usually a sign of distress in Red Tail Sharks, although it can be used as a dominance display. Instead, brighter coloration is a sign of a good diet and tank parameters.

Stressed fish, due to tank competition, poor diet, poor water quality, and illness will display by becoming duller and less noticeable. Both their red tails and the black of their main body will dull.

While a healthy Red Tail Shark can look almost iridescent in the body because of how deeply black their scales become, an unhealthy or stressed Red Tail Shark may become almost brown with much more muted color.

The bright red tail should be a rich scarlet. A stressed fish won’t go pinkish, but their tail will be less brilliant.

Thanks to this bright and unusual appearance, a single Red Tail Shark will stand out in most tanks. Their bright scales are unusual enough to make them easy to spot in crowded tanks and heavily planted tanks.

Tank Conditions

Red Tail Sharks are relatively vulnerable to poor water conditions. While they don’t stress especially easily, they can become less attractive and eventually sick in unsuitable conditions.

A tropical freshwater fish, they thrive best in tanks between 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit. PH should hand somewhere between 6.8 and 7.5.

You should also monitor your tank hardness if you want to keep Red Tail Sharks, especially if you live somewhere you know has especially hard or especially soft water. Don’t use unfiltered tap water if you use a chemical softening system.

Tank hardness should be kept around 5-15 dH.

Red Tail Sharks do best in large tanks. A single juvenile Red Tail Shark can be housed in a 30-gallon tank, and adult Red Tail Sharks prefer 55-gallon tanks. If you want more than one Red Tail Shark, you’ll need either an especially large tank or tank partitions to prevent territorial disputes.

They don’t have specific filter requirements, although you should filter your tank. Either a hanging tank filter or a canister filter will work. If you can afford it, a canister filter will almost always maintain higher water quality in a large tank.

Red Tail Sharks do best in tanks with gravel substrate vs sandy-bottomed tanks. They also need some active algae growth since algae is part of their diet. This means that good lighting is essential. You can also plant your tank. Red Tail Sharks won’t eat tank plants, but they may hide under them or claim them as part of their territory.

They’ll also appreciate an environment with a current. Since these are stream-dwelling fish, they like a tank that mimics their natural environment. Using plants, driftwood, and tank decorations to create shaded areas and eddies in the current will also make for happier Red Tail Sharks.


Red Tailed Sharks are omnivorous fish and do best when given access to high-quality food. They aren’t very picky eaters, however. They’ll willingly go after fish flakes and pellets even after the food has been in the tank for a while, and can help keep the substrate in your tank a little cleaner.

These aren’t fish that do well on budget fish foods. Buying better quality flakes and pellets will improve their color, quality of life, and length of life.

Despite being called sharks, these carp don’t do well on predominantly protein-based diets. They need algae (which can be grown naturally in the tank), as well as other vegetable foods. Red Tailed Sharks will appreciate the occasional slice of cucumber, zucchini, or frozen vegetables included in their diet. Place the vegetable directly in the tank and remove a couple of hours later if your fish haven’t eaten all of it.

Make sure you wash all produce you put in the tank before it goes in. Pesticides and other contaminants can seriously mess with your water quality.

While these fish aren’t picky eaters, they will do best with some added variety in their diets. Occasional treats like freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, krill, and daphnia will help keep them much healthier and happier.

If you’re keeping Red Tailed Sharks in a community tank, you may want to consider feeding at different times of day, and even a couple of times a day, to reduce Red Tailed Sharks’ tendency to get aggressive around feeding time.

Red Tailed Sharks Tankmates and Compatibility

Red Tailed Sharks can be placed in community tanks without too many issues. While they don’t always do well with one another, they can cohabitate well with other suitable fish. When planning your community tank always remember that you need 1 gallon of water per inch of fish in the tank.

You should look to pair Red Tailed Sharks with fish that are less likely to be completely cowed by another dominant fish. You should also avoid pairing Red Tailed Sharks with other bottom-feeding fish that will spend a lot of time in the bottom third of the tank.

Fish like cichlids should not be paired with Red Tailed Sharks for two reasons. For one, they’ll also occupy the bottom of the tank. They’re also a more aggressive fish, and likely both the Red Tailed Sharks and the cichlids will end up stressed and unhappy trying to cohabitate.

You should also usually avoid other ‘sharks’ because of the tendency of these fish to fight with one another. One exception to this rule are Bala sharks. Bala sharks are wonderful tank-mates for Red Tailed Sharks.

Other fish like barbs, tetras, and gouramis can also be good companion fish.

Even with fish that will swim mostly in the upper 2/3s of the tank, you should avoid fish with bright red markings. Red Tailed Sharks will see bright red fish as more of a territorial threat and will generally be more aggressive with these fish as if they were also Red Tailed Sharks.


Chances are unless you create a perfect tank environment, your Red Tailed Sharks won’t be breeding in your tank. They are egg-laying fish, and it’s relatively difficult to set up tanks suitable for both the fish and their eggs.

One of the big challenges for residential tanks is size. Since Red Tailed Sharks need quite a bit of territory (think a couple of feet of tank for every shark), it’s difficult to have a big enough tank for breeding purposes.

They’re also a difficult fish to sex. While you might get lucky and get a good distribution of male and female fish in your tank, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have the opportunity to buy healthy Red Tailed Sharks that are old enough to reliably sex.

But, there are commercial breeding operations that are successful and which supply most of the tank fish available today. Since Red Tailed Sharks don’t currently live in their natural environments, these populations also likely represent the biological future of the species.

Commercial breeding operations also prove that captive breeding of Red Tailed Sharks is possible, though they aren’t sharing their secrets.

At the end of the day, you’re welcome to try and create a breeding tank for Red Tailed Sharks, but you shouldn’t be too disappointed if your sharks don’t breed.

Diseases of Red Tailed Sharks

Fortunately, this species is relatively healthy and has good genetic diversity at the moment. There aren’t any diseases that are specific to the Red Tailed Shark, but they are vulnerable to most of the usual tank diseases.

Red Tailed Sharks need their water to be within the specific parameters we discussed earlier.

They are susceptible to dropsy, which is a common bacterial/fungal infection in fish. It usually crops up in tanks with poor water quality, and in fish with malnutrition. Medication is available, but dropsy can usually be prevented by improving water quality and nutrition.

Ammonia poisoning is also common and can be spotted by looking for poor color, reddened gills, and fish that gulp for air at the surface of the water. You should always cycle your tank before adding Red Tailed Sharks. If you notice ammonia poisoning in any of your fish, not just the sharks, try increasing how often you change the water.

A 25% water change every other day for a week usually corrects ammonia poisoning.

Ich, another common ailment in fish, can also affect your Red Tailed Sharks. These fungal infections usually appear as small white or translucent dots on their scales. It may look like someone sprinkled your fish with salt or sugar.

Good water parameters make Ich less likely. There are store-bought treatments for Ich if you do get a breakout in your tank.

Lastly, fish fungus can also affect your Red Tailed Sharks. This fungus usually looks like gray or white cottony growths on the body and more rarely on the fins. Anti-fungal tank treatments usually take care of the problem.

All of these diseases, except ammonia poisoning, may warrant quarantining your fish in a separate tank. You’ll likely want to treat the main tank in addition to the quarantine tank, but separating sick fish makes it less likely for bacteria and fungi to spread.

Is a Red Tail Shark Right for You?

While no one can tell you 100% whether a Red Tail Shark will be the right fish for you, there are some things to consider before you get one. Do you have a large tank with plants and caves or driftwood for your Red Tailed Shark to explore and claim? Do you have other fish, and if so, are they likely to be intimidated by a new dominant fish? Are any of your existing fish red? Can you afford to give your Red Tailed Shark a high-quality and varied diet?

These are good fish for hobbyists with some experience keeping and maintaining a tank. They’re a good option for a striking focal fish or adding some variety to a barb or tetra tank.

While these aren’t what would be considered a beginner fish, they are hardy enough for new fish keepers who are willing to put in a little work.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.

Cherry Barbs 101: Care, Tank Mates, Size, And Breeding

Puntius titteya, the cherry barb, is an omnivorous member of the Cyprinidae family of fish. This family also includes carps and minnows, and includes over 2,000 species of fish. But even with such a large family, the cherry barb is doing anything but thriving in the wild.

The aquarium trade and keep keeping hobby is helping to keep the cherry barb population stable, but natural habitat loss and poaching are difficult to contest with. The cherry barb is a freshwater fish that is native to Sri Lanka, particularly the southwestern areas of the Nilwala and Kelani river valleys.

They prefer dwelling in shadowy areas of rivers and streams that have muddy bottoms. This is because not only are these areas typically more secure, but they’re also easy places to find plant matter to feast upon.

While the wild native populations of this attractive little fish may be in danger, they’re absolutely thriving in captivity in aquariums across the world. Many things make the cherry barb a great fish to add to your aquarium. They live, on average and when taken care of properly, for anywhere from four to six years, but their small size and active nature make them a favorite to the hobby.

Cherry Barb Care Guide

Typical Behavior

Cherry barbs are schooling fish that will bring a pop of color and activity to any tank they’re introduced to. The more cherry barbs in a school, the more confidence they have as a unit to explore and swim around their tank.

Keeping them in groups also prevents any nervous or anxious behavior, such as hiding or being shy.

Ideally, if you have a mix of male and female barbs, you will have two females to every singular male. This helps to prevent fighting within the school and will reduce the rate of stress-induced deaths experienced by the females, who may feel overwhelmed if too many males are fighting over her. Additionally, if a male only has one female to himself, he may stress her out, also resulting in death.

Cherry barbs make great additions to community tanks as they are peaceful and often social so long as they feel comfortable and secure. Cherry barbs should be kept in groups of no fewer than six fish. The larger the school, within reason, the more comfortable your fish will be and the more aesthetically they will be to observe.

Cherry Barb Appearance

Cherry barbs have a distinctive look to them that will make them stand out in almost any kind of tank. They are small, getting to be only about two inches long, but their elongated body and bright colors make them stand out in even large tank sets.

They are relatively slender fish and have a lateral stripe that goes from their head to their tail. In females, this lateral stripe tends to look more brown than black.

Males tend to be a vibrant red color, lending to the cherry title. The females are usually more white or pale than males. They also have rounder stomachs, while males are on the slimmer side.

The dimorphism between the sexes, particularly where coloration is concerned, is often the reason that many hobbyists will choose males over females of this species unless they’re intending to breed them.

Tank Setup and Water Requirements

Cherry barbs are a favorite among beginner keepers because they are easy to care for once you have their preferred water parameters figured out and stabilized. But cherry barbs are impressively hardy fish and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters with some variations.

For six to ten cherry barbs with no other fish, you will need a tank of at least 15 to 25 gallons to adequately accommodate them and give them the proper amount of space to roam and comfortably school. However, they will thrive in larger tanks with larger numbers as well.

You want to make sure to have a balance between plants, decor, or other hiding spaces and open, clear water for your fish to swim around freely. Java fern, hornwort, and Anacharis are excellent plants that provide optimal coverage for your cherry barbs to feel secure should anything in or out of the tank scare them.

For the best decorating practices, you should position plants, driftwood, and other decorative items around the inner perimeter of the aquarium. This will not only provide your cherry barbs with safe places to hide and feel secure when they’re frightened but will also allow them to maximize the remaining amount of available space for swimming and free-roaming.

Tank Conditions

Because cherry barbs come from tropical climates that experience very little variation in temperature. However, cherry barbs will still tolerate a decent range in temperature as long as it is applied gradually. They will tolerate a gradient of about 73 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit, so you have a bit of room to work with depending on any other fish in the aquarium. They do tend to prefer temperatures in the mid- to high-70s range, though.

Cherry barbs also tend to prefer water that is closer to a neutral pH balance. They do best in a range of 6 to 7.5 pH with moderate water flow or circulation.

As far as the hardness of the water is concerned, they prefer the level to be somewhere between 4 and 15 dGH. Again, cherry barbs are hardy and will tolerate a pretty wide range of conditions, but they are not immortal or immune to sudden, drastic changes in their accepted parameters.

Tankmates and Compatibility

Cherry barbs are peaceful schooling fish and do best with other peaceful fish that won’t be tempted to eat them. Larger fish, even peaceful ones, may decide to supplement their diet between meals with a cherry barb or two if they can fit them in their mouth, so it’s best to keep your cherry barbs with similarly-sized fish or those that do not require protein as part of their diet.

Some of the ideal tankmates for cherry barbs include:

  • Neon or cardinal tetras
  • Harlequin rasboras
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Dwarf or small gouramis
  • Rainbow sharks
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • White cloud mountain minnows
  • Clown loaches

Also, cherry barbs are not aggressive toward invertebrates like shrimp or mollusks. So if you want to add some shrimp species, snails, freshwater crabs, or other similar species, you can without worrying that your cherry barbs will try to eat them.

Because they’re so wildly peaceful, cherry barbs make an excellent, vibrant addition to almost any kind of community tank that houses similarly peaceful, small fish or invertebrates.

If you have more semi-aggressive or aggressive fish or larger fish in your tank, cherry barbs won’t make a good addition. This is because they’re likely to be picked on and even eaten due to their small size, whether they exist in a large school or not. Even other barbs, like the tiger barb, may be more aggressive and can be known to attack cherry barbs when added to their territory.

They will not do well with semi-aggressive or aggressive fish like cichlids or Oscars, and will easily become food for these species of fish.

When adding your cherry barbs to your tank, make sure to acclimate them slowly to their new environment. They may dull in color or be shy and inactive for a few days or weeks depending on the other fish in the tank, available hiding places, and the number of cherry barbs that you have or plan to add.

Give your cherry barbs time to properly acclimate to their new environment and any tankmates.

What do Cherry Barbs Eat?

Cherry barbs are omnivorous, so they tend to eat whatever they can fit into their mouths. Once they are comfortable in a new tank or environment, they are not generally picky about what they consume. They may be a little finicky at first due to stress or a limited palate, but with some patience and time, they will prove to have impressive appetites.

Everything is a potential food item to these small, brightly-colored fish. Algae, plant matter, zooplankton, diatoms, small insects, worms, and more all make fantastic diets for cherry barbs.

They love live and frozen food items and have been known to be fond of brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. But, they’ll just as happily take high-quality tropical fish flakes or extra small pellets that contain a mix of plant matter and protein.  

Some of the cherry barbs favorite foods include:

  • Bloodworms
  • Ground or crushed fish flakes
  • Spirulina
  • Daphnia
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Fish-friendly micro wafers

Make sure that any offered food items are small enough for your cherry barb to consume safely. They have difficulties swallowing large chunks of food, so grainy foods and meats may have to be crushed or ground up to be more easily ingestible for these small fish.


Similarly to make other fish, cherry barbs are egg-scattering fish that deposit and fertilize eggs and provide minimal, if any, care to their offspring once they’ve developed. If you want to breed your cherry barbs, doing so is easy with a little observational skill and some appropriate preparation.

The temperament of the male cherry barbs you plan to breed is important, as is the coloration. Brighter, more vibrantly-colored males are more likely to successfully fertilize the spawned eggs of the female cherry barb.

Cherry barbs will lay anywhere from 200 to 300 eggs at a time on the substrate and plants in their tank. They are very easy to breed fish once they’re established and happy.

You will need to set up a separate tank for spawning, fertilization, and hatching. Make sure that you do this well in advance of when you want to introduce your breeding cherry barbs, as you’ll need to add plants and have the appropriate temperature and water parameters to effectively breed your cherry barbs.

The water should have a similar if not slightly more acidic pH balance to the home tank and should be somewhere in the warmer range of what your cherry barbs will tolerate. Typically, around 77 degrees Fahrenheit is a great spawning temperature. The water flow and circulation of this tank should be low, just enough to provide oxygen but not enough to disturb the eggs.

Your female cherry barb, once ready, will spawn her eggs on the plants in the tank or in the substrate if there are not enough plants available. Alternatively, you can add a spawning mop or net into the tank to catch the eggs. This is especially useful if you did not move your fish prior to breeding.

If your fish are not in the breeding tank when spawning happens, remove the eggs from the home tank and carefully put them into the spawning tank. Do this quickly, because otherwise the eggs may be eaten.

Keep the smaller spawning tank dimly lit and make sure that the water flow rate isn’t too high. The more closely you mimic their natural environment while the eggs and fry develop, the better your chances of success.

After a few days, the fry will hatch. It will take a few additional days before they can swim around and explore on their own. During this time, it’s important to feed them particularly tiny food items like micro worms and vinegar eels, which will be small enough for them to consume easily. As they grow, you will be able to begin feeding them brine shrimp and other similarly-sized items.

The fry will grow for approximately two months before reaching their adult size. When this happens, you can safely introduce them to the home tank. Make sure you acclimate them appropriately to avoid shock if there’s any difference in the temperature of the water or heavy difference in the acidity.

One thing to keep in mind while breeding your cherry barbs is that the mating and breeding season will often make your male barbs more active and aggressive, while your females may seem more lethargic with less energy following the egg-laying.

It may be necessary, depending on how aggressive your males are at this time, to remove the females from the home tank into a smaller quarantine tank so that they can regain their strength and energy without the additional stress of the aggressive males.

How to Care for the Cherry Barbs

Cherry barbs are a hardy little fish, but they are susceptible to some common illnesses that you should be aware of and prepared for. Ich, dropsy, and fin rot are some of the common ailments that can affect cherry barbs.

For ich, you may notice that your cherry barb will separate from the rest of the schooling group. It may also be breathing rapidly and suffer from a loss of appetite, depending on the progression of the infection. You can treat ich easily with aquarium salt doses or formalin. You can also use aquarium salt for fin rot.

But they are also reported to be affected by gold-dust disease. Gold-dust disease is caused by a parasite that is known as Oodinium pilularis. The parasite is a microorganism that typically attaches itself to the fins or gills of the host – that is, your cherry barb.

Gold-dust disease is characterized by the development and formation of a velvety layer on the skin on your cherry barb. This can cause labored breathing, general lethargy, a loss of appetite, and frequent rubbing against objects such as gravel, rocks, driftwood, and other decorative items throughout the tank.

To treat gold-dust disease, you can dose your aquarium with aquarium salt and a copper sulfate solution. You should also raise the temperature of the water to the higher end of the spectrum tolerated by the fish housed in your tank. The combination of salt, copper sulfate and heat will help to eradicate the parasite before it can spread to your other fish.

Make sure that you use aquarium salt and not table salt or sea salt to dose your tank, as these varieties will not treat the illnesses in your fish and may cause additional problems for your cherry barbs and their tankmates.

Is a Cherry Barb for You?

A single cherry barb may not be for you, simply because the likelihood of it surviving on its own is not very high. But multiple cherry barbs that can form a school are a great option for almost anyone who wants to keep fish.

They are hardy, active, and sociable with attractive, bright colors. If you’re looking for a new addition to a community tank with similarly-tempered and sized fish, these would be great fish to choose. They’ll add a splash of color and personality to your aquarium.

Keep in mind that cherry barbs may be shy at first when you first bring them home, but if you provide them with hiding places such as plants, they will acclimate quickly and will explore the environment with confidence so long as they can easily travel as a school.

Whether you’re a new keeper or an expert, the cherry barb is a low-maintenance, fantastic addition to have in your home.

Richard Rowlands
Richard Rowlands

Hello fellow aquatics enthusiasts! My name is Richard Rowlands. I’m an aquarium keeper and enthusiast and have been for about 25 years or so. While I won’t claim to be the end-all expert on aquatic life, I will say that I know my way around a tank.