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Best schooling fishes for planted tanks

February 03, 2020 2 min read

Best schooling fishes for planted tanks

Fish and other livestock add movement to a tank and algae eaters can help keep the tank clean. For planted tanks, it is better to avoid herbivorous fish or aggressive diggers, and important to be watchful when tuning CO2 injection as excessive levels will asphyxiate fish. Otherwise, choosing fish is a matter of personal choice. From an aquascaping perspective, schooling fish makes a good complement to landscapes.

Good Shoaling Fish

  • Rummy nose tetras
  • Harlequin rasboras
  • Cardinal/neon tetras
  • Bloodfin tetras
  • Lemon tetras
  • Glolight tetras
  • Glass catfish
  • Ember tetras
  • Pygmy cories

Herbivores/ Diggers to avoid

  • Silver dollars
  • Goldfish
  • Buenos Aires Tetra
  • Large Cichlids
  • Large plecos
  • Loaches that burrow
  • Pacus

Tough plants for rough tanks

If you want to keep plants that are not fish-friendly; try it with these tougher, unappetizing plants:

  • Java fern (Microsorum pteropus)
  • Anubias species

Growing larger plants emersed so that their leaves are standing out of water also works.

  • Echinodorus species (sword plants)

Choosing Fish

Fish give movement and life to aquascapes. While fish choice is largely a personal preference; avoiding herbivorous fish and fish that dig deep into the substrate make management easier.

Some fishes are more shy and may prefer tank designs that are more shadowed while other species swim confidently in open water. Certain fishes may also occupy top levels of the tank, while others hug the substrate zone. Having a mix of fishes that occupy their natural zones complete the effect of having a natural environment.

Choosing fish that matches the scale of the tank's aquascaping design intentions is important to the overall aesthetics of the tank. This is especially true for scapes attempting to incorporate perspective and a sense of scale. Smaller fish in large groups can make tanks seem larger than they are.

Schooling fish gives a large impact to tank presentation. Harlequin rasboras, Rummy-nose tetras, Cardinal tetras, Ember tetras, glass catfish are all good examples of fish that swim together in groups.

Josh Sim

In this aquascape by Josh Sim, the aquascape expresses the feeling of being in a deep tropical forest. where Harlequin rasbora can naturally be found in the wild. Both the fish and many of the plants come from the same region - south east asia. Here the fish colors are subtle and complement the aquascape. Choosing Cardinal tetras with blue tones would be a more brazen choice that provide strong contrast to the green and browns of the scape. It is up to the aquascaper to choose what tone he wants his aquascape to express.