Tropical Fish

Your questions answered.

As with any pet, some may find it daunting getting your first tropical fish, but let us put your mind at ease. Here, we will take you through some of the most common questions we get asked about taking the first leap into keeping tropical fish.

What size tropical aquarium should I choose?

The bigger, the better! Whether you’re new to tropical fishkeeping or you’ve been doing it for a long time, the bigger the tank, the easier it will be to look after. With a bigger water volume, you have more “margin of error”. We do great kits for tropical fishkeepers - anything from 5 litres, all the way up to 500 litres and more. If you’re starting out, the Eheim AquaStar 54 is one of our most popular tanks and comes complete with a filter, heater, light and thermometer.

Does a tropical aquarium need a filter and heater?

Fish definitely benefit from filtration of the water. Not only does a filter provide a home for the beneficial bacteria that kicks the nitrogen cycle off, it also can help provide water circulation and oxygen into the aquarium. Heaters for tropical fish are essential, as they keep the temperature of the water constant at 26 degrees centigrade - especially useful in the UK due to our unpredictable British weather! - but also other fish, including coldwater fish, benefit from having a constant water temperature.

What lighting should I choose for my tropical aquarium?

When it comes to lighting your aquarium, there are a wide range of choices. Simply, there are two main options - traditional fluorescent tubes and LED lights. LEDs are becoming increasingly popular due to their low electricity consumption and longer life. As a rule of thumb, LEDs should last for around three years, depending on usage, whilst it is recommended that fluorescent tubes be changed once every 12 months. The options available for lighting vary greatly depending on what tank you have, its size and its inhabitants so best to come in and speak to one of our expert staff, who will aid you with your selection.

What kind of tropical aquarium should I go for?

There are a few different types of tropical aquariums to go for. The most popular choice is a community aquarium, which can house anything from mollies to platies to tetras. There is a huge range of our choice and at our Oxford shop, our labels are colour coded by compatibility to help you make the best selection for your aquarium. Our knowledgable staff will also be on hand to guide you with your livestock purchases.

You could also look at going for a biotype aquarium - with all the livestock from one particular part of the world, whether that’s the Amazon, Africa or Asia. African cichlid aquariums are becoming increasingly popular too, with these fish’s stunning colours rivalling the colour found in saltwater fish.

What should my first fish in my community tropical aquarium be?

If you’re planning to have a community tropical fish tank, your best bet would to begin with some “starter fish” such as mollies, platies, danios, swordtails or minnows. These fish tend to be slighter more hardy than other tropical fish and can cope better with the changes in water parameters that inevitably take place during the first few weeks of fishkeeping.

How many fish can I keep in my aquarium?

This is quite an open ended question as it depends on many different things, such as aquarium size, filtration, the size of fish etc. Here at The Goldfish Bowl, we will guide your livestock selection to ensure your tank is not overstocked. We also offer free water tests and recommend our customers come in for regular tests to ensure the tank is running smoothly.

Should I have natural plants in my tropical aquarium?

Live plants are beneficial to an aquarium, removing nitrates and phosphates from the water. They also give a ‘natural’ look to the tank and some fish will even enjoy nibbling on live plants too. Aquascaping - creating a fully planted aquarium - is becoming increasingly popular and we’ve dedicated a whole section of our website to aquascaping. (See aquascaping). However, live plants are not an essential addition to tropical aquarium and using artificial plants are still a very popular choice for fishkeepers, both beginners and experts alike.