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It’s common to believe the most exotic aquarium species can only be kept in reef tanks and other enclosed saltwater habitats, but the reality of fish keeping is that some extremely cool fish can be kept in a freshwater aquarium as well. Some of these exotic species are somewhat difficult to care for, but not all of them. A few of the fish listed below can be compared to goldfish in terms of being hardy, resilient, and highly adaptable, but other factors such as conservation status and aquarium hobby lore make them uncommon.
1. Chinese Dragon Fish
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Asian arowana is an endangered species despite being widely farmed across Malaysia and Indonesia. The black market price of this fish, which resembles a dragon from Chinese mythology, can be as high as $300,000 and as low as $20 for common varieties. Dragon fish can easily grow as large as 35 inches, so you would need a tank that can hold at least 180 gallons to keep an adult arowana.
2. Zebra Plecostomus
Aquarists would really appreciate keeping a couple of zebra plecos swimming around the bottom of their tanks. Similar to other small Loricariidae, these plecos are slightly shy and moderately territorial, but they’ll get along with other species in a community tank as long as they have rocks, caves, and decorations as hiding spaces.
3. Discus Cichlid
Even though this is one of the many species endemic to the Amazon basin, its aquarium variant is mostly farmed in Asia. Discus fish look like a more beautiful version of the Oscar, and they’re very docile, but only if they’re bred in a tank and properly fed with larger pellets that sink to the bottom.
4. Dwarf Puffer
This small species looks as if it should belong in a reef tank, but you can actually keep it in a 20-gallon freshwater tank with a nice diversity of plant species. Puffers are territorial and aggressive, so they’re better off living as the sole species in an aquascaped tank. One advantage of this species is that it’s resilient and highly adaptable. They also get along with quite a few of their own kind in a tank.
5. Polka Dot Stingray
As one of the very few freshwater rays in the world, this interesting species is known to adapt to tanks with sandy substrates that can hold at least 100 gallons. You would need to hand-feed these rays with crustaceans and small fish on a daily basis.
If you’re looking for some interesting fish for your aquarium or need to pick up some supplies to properly maintain the tank, stop by Aquatic Warehouse, located in Kearny Mesa. You can also order the supplies you need from our website and have them shipped to you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call 858-467-9297 to speak with one of our aquatic experts.