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What Fish Species Are Most Popular for Freshwater Planted Tanks?

Popular Fish Species for Freshwater Planted Aquariums San Diego, CA

Aquascaping is the art of establishing enclosed ecosystems where aquatic plants are the main focus. Aquarists tend to prefer freshwater tanks for various reasons, and one of them is the diversity of fish they can stock their habitats with. All freshwater tanks should be planted to a certain extent. At the same time, a densely planted tank is more likely to thrive when stocked with the right fish species because of the natural carbon dioxide exhalations plants consume as nutrients. In freshwater planted aquariums where exotic or delicate plants are growing, the key to adding fish is to select species that won’t destroy the plants. Here are some of the most popular freshwater fish among the aquascaping community.

Neon Tetras

A school of at least five or six neon tetras will grace freshwater planted tanks with their colorful scales and penchant for synchronized swimming. The bioload neon tetras generate isn’t excessive, and their behavior around plants mostly consists of swimming around them. The shiny coloring of neon tetras is another reason they’re often seen in aquascapes. As long as they’re healthy, their scales will nicely reflect LED lighting used to stimulate plant photosynthesis. Even though tetras are omnivorous, they tend to prefer aquarium food based on insects, brine, and larvae or a good pellet food like TDO Chroma BOOST:


Pellets are less polluting than the normal flake food for planted aquariums.

Dwarf Gouramis

The smallest of the Osphronemidae family of freshwater fish from Indonesia are ideal for heavily planted tanks because of their size and swimming abilities. After all, the natural habitats of this species are mangroves. Make sure you get the bright-red Trichogaster lalius, also known as the flame gourami, because others tend to be aggressive and outgrow their tanks. Dwarf gouramis will get along with all the other species listed herein.

Red or Harlequin Rasboras

Similar to the dwarf gourami, this tropical fish is happier in habitats with dense plant coverage. Rasboras aren’t as attractive as neon tetras, but they’re very lively and won’t disrupt rooted plants or the substrate as long as they’re fed a balanced diet of flakes with occasional frozen brine. If your planted tank only holds 10 gallons, you should limit the size of rasbora schools to six fish. This is where you see the benefit of acquiring a little larger size tank, double the size in a 20-gallon aquarium with only 4” more in length.

Cardinal Tetras

In planted tanks where you have red rotala, Java fern, and water sprite, a school of cardinal tetras will make things come alive. This species is mostly bright red with a horizontal stripe that varies in colors from neon blue to light green. Some fish keepers believe cardinal tetras are more social than neon tetras, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Cardinals aren’t fussy eaters, but they may nibble on plants from time to time if they get tired of flakes and pellets, so you should give them frozen treats as well.

If you have a freshwater planted tank, make sure you have all of the essential freshwater aquarium supplies to properly care for your plants and fish. At Aquatic Warehouse, located in Kearny Mesa, we carry everything you need for your aquarist hobby. You can also order your supplies on our website and have them shipped to you. If you have any questions, call 858-467-9297 to speak with one of our experienced and friendly aquatic experts.


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    San Diego, CA 92123
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