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Top 6 Top-Dwelling Aquarium Fish

Awesome Top-Dwelling Fish for Aquariums San Diego, CA

Here’s an aesthetic dilemma some fish keepers face with their tanks: the combination of plants, rocks, and decorations at the bottom can be easily complemented with bottom dwellers and invertebrates, but this can result in a visual void near the surface, especially with freshwater tanks of at least 20 gallons. This situation isn’t seen often in reef tanks because species that are native to coastal reefs will swim, feed, and play in various spots of the tank. If you notice most of your freshwater fish prefer to hang around the substrate, this could be a good opportunity to diversify the habitat and introduce some top dwellers. Several species are known for their surface-dwelling behavior, and they can be a nice addition to a community tank as long as you don’t overstock and increase the bioload. The knowledgeable staff at Aquatic Warehouse, a leading provider of saltwater and freshwater aquarium supplies, has compiled a list of top-dwelling aquarium fish to consider.

1. Zebra and Leopard Danios

These resilient fish will thrive in just about any tank that provides enough room for a school of six, but you’ll need to keep the water temperature under 77 degrees Fahrenheit so they’ll be encouraged to swim close to the surface. If the temperature is higher, they may seek the cooler space close to the substrate.

2. Celebes

Also known as half-beaks, the anatomy of these fish lets you know they’re natural top dwellers. The lower mandible of Celebes is larger than the upper jaw, and they’ll look toward the surface when feeding. Half-beaks are somewhat territorial, so you’ll need to provide floating plants in addition to live feed.

3. Pencilfish

You can spend hours looking at pencilfish floating toward the surface and feeding on flakes or brine. These fish aren’t colorful, but their curious way of swimming in an almost upright position makes them very entertaining. When stocking a tank with pencilfish, you’ll need to position the column of air bubbles off to the side so they can feed easily.

4. Golden Killifish

This is a larger surface dweller that can become the centerpiece of your tank. The golden killifish is very attractive and doesn’t need company, but it can grow to four inches, hence the need for a 20-gallon tank, and you would be better off with a sole female to avoid fighting between males. Similar to other killifish, this one will need live feed.

5. Furcata Dwarf Rainbowfish

The deal with these attractive schooling fish is that they’re voracious eaters that may not get along with other surface dwellers and smaller species, so you may want to mix them with just bottom dwellers and invertebrates to keep things peaceful.

6. Betta Fish

In a smaller tank with plenty of plants and decorations, you can keep a single male betta along with a few bottom dwellers without having to worry about fighting (this rule goes for most bettas but has more to do with the personality of each individual fish), but only if there are resting spots above the middle of the tank. These resting spots can be plants or driftwood that extend out like branches.

No matter which species of fish you choose for your tank, you’ll need several supplies to keep them happy and healthy. Whether you need a dosing pump, a protein skimmer, nutritious fish food, filtration, or any other aquarium supply, you can find what you’re looking for at Aquatic Warehouse. Stop by our store in Kearny Mesa, order what you need from our website, or give us a call at 858-467-9297 if you have any questions.

Contact Information

  • Address: 5466 Complex Street Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92123
  • Phone: (858) 467-9297
  • Email: sales@aquaticwarehouse.com
  • Working Days/Hours: Mon - Fri / 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Saturday / 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sunday / 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM


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