Tropical fish are a captivating and diverse group of aquatic creatures that have been enchanting aquarium hobbyists and enthusiasts for generations. Their vibrant colours, unique behaviours and wide variety make them a popular choice.  Here, we discover the most popular species, their origins, habitats, care and maintenance. So, whether you’re a seasoned aquarium keeper or a beginner looking to dive into the world of tropical fish, this is your ultimate resource!

Introduction to Tropical Fish
Tropical fish are a diverse group of fish species found in the warm waters of tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. These fish are known for their brilliant colours, intricate patterns and distinctive shapes which have made them highly sought-after for both home and public aquariums.

Here’s a fun fact for you – the keeping of tropical fish can be traced back to ancient civilisations where they were initially kept in ornamental ponds and water features.  Fast forward many (many!!) years and the modern aquarium hobby as we now know it began to take shape in the 19th century.  With the advent of glass aquariums, better filtration systems and improved understanding of fish care, the popularity of keeping tropical fish has skyrocketed in more recent years and many fish-owners tend to opt for a tropical tank compared to cold water or marine fish.

Popular Species of Tropical Fish
There are thousands of tropical fish species that would make a great addition to your home tank, each with their own unique characteristics and care requirements. Here are some popular species you might consider for your aquarium:

  • Guppies – small and colourful, and known for their vivacious personalities and ease of care.  Guppies come in a wide range of colours (and patterns!) and make a captivating addition to any tropical fish tank.
  • Angelfish – known for their distinctive triangular bodies and flowing fins, angelfish are very graceful and relatively easy to care for. But they can be territorial – something to consider when it comes to populating your tropical tank.
  • Betta fish – commonly known as Siamese fighting fish, this tropical species is renowned for its vibrant colours and elaborate fins.  While they can be therapeutic to watch, they should be kept alone or in carefully monitored communities due to their territorial nature.
  • Tetras – small, peaceful and excellent community fish, tropical tetras are schooling fish that come in various species including neon tetras and cardinal tetras.
  • Discus fish – known for their striking disc-shaped bodies and colour, discus fish are considered advanced-level fish due to their specific care requirements. Any plants within the tank need to be warm water and soft water tolerant.  That said, discus fish need a clear area free of aquarium plants in which to feed.  They also need high oxygen levels and so owners need to ensure carbon dioxide is turned off and the planted tank is well aerated at night.

Setting Up your Tropical Fish Aquarium
Before you bring home your tropical fish, it is essential to set up a suitable aquarium environment for them. Here are the key steps to follow:

  1. Tank Selection: Choose an appropriately sized tank for the type of tropical species you plan to keep. Keep in mind that larger tanks provide more stable water conditions and more room for fish to swim.
  2. Filtration and heating: Invest in a high-quality filtration system to maintain water quality. Tropical fish require stable water temperatures, so a heater is essential to maintain the desired temperature range.
  3. Substrate and decor: Add a substrate such as gravel or sand, and decorate your tank with plants, rocks and driftwood to create a natural-looking habitat.
  4. Water parameters: Research the specific water parameters (pH, hardness and temperature) preferred by the tropical fish species you plan to keep and adjust your tank accordingly.
  5. Cycling: Cycle your aquarium to establish a stable and healthy biological filtration system. This process can take several weeks, but it is crucial for the wellbeing and lifespan of your fish.

Feeding and Nutrition
The correct nutrition is vital for the health of your tropical fish – like with all pets.  Most tropical fish thrive on a balanced diet of high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with occasional treats.  It’s essential to research the dietary needs of your specific tropical fish species to ensure they receive the right nutrients.  As a general rule of thumb (or fin!), #RookesRecommends Aquarian Tropical Flake Food or King British Tropical Fish Pellets Easy Feeder.   And, if you’re going to be away for a few days, King British Goldfish & Tropical Weekend Feeder Block is a great way to ensure your fish remain well fed while receiving essential nutrients.

Maintenance and Water Changes
Regular maintenance is key to keeping your tropical fish healthy. This includes:

  • Water changes: Perform routine water changes to remove toxins and maintain water quality (the frequency of water changes depends on the size of your tank and the number of fish).
  • Cleaning: Cleaning your fish tank regularly, including the substrate, decorations and glass, will keep excess debris and algae at bay.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace filter media as necessary to ensure efficient filtration.
  • Monitoring: Regularly check water parameters using test kits to ensure they remain within the ideal range for your fish.

Disease Prevention and Treatment
Tropical fish are susceptible to various diseases, but you can minimise the risk by maintaining clean water conditions and providing a stress-free environment.  Quarantining new fish before introducing them to your main tank can also help prevent the spread of diseases. If you notice signs of illness in your fish, consult with a knowledgeable aquarium professional for diagnosis and treatment options – and avoid introducing any new fish until the illness has been dealt with.

Breeding Tropical Fish
Breeding tropical fish can be very rewarding. Many species have specific breeding requirements such as appropriate spawning sites and optimal water conditions. If you’re interested in breeding, #RookesRecommends researching the particular needs of your chosen fish species – and be prepared to care for the fry (young fish) that result from successful breeding!


Tropical fish offer a captivating and ever-evolving world of colour, behaviour and diversity. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced aquarium enthusiast, the world of tropical fish has something to offer everyone.  By understanding their specific care requirements, creating a suitable environment and practicing responsible fishkeeping, you can enjoy the beauty and wonder of these fascinating creatures for years to come.  

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