Caresheet: Swordtail | Xiphophorus hellerii

A jewel in the freshwater community tanks, the swordtail brings an energetic aura into their aquarium. Their quick movements and ease of care make them easily one of the best freshwater community fish. Keep reading for everything you need to know about swordtail care and keeping your swordtails happy and healthy!

This swordtail caresheet is a guest post by Joshua from The Mandarin Garden. Thank you for this long and detailed article!

Tank size 30 gal (114L)
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Temperature 72-82°F/22-27°C
pH 7-8

Swordtail natural habitat

The swordtail originally came from the Honduras and Central Mexico, living in highly planted areas with fast water movement.

Swordtail requirements

Swordtails prefer a water of anywhere between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH between 7-8. These conditions are easily met without any water adjustments, making swordtails also one of the more affordable choices for starter fish. This is not to say swordtails have no requirements.

  • They do need a tank of at least 30 gallons or a 20 gallon breeder tank. The focus here is the tank length, as swordtails need long stretches of water to swim through. Confining them into a smaller tank can result in high stress and territorial behavior that is not common for this peaceful fish.

Continue reading

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Caresheet: Neon tetra | Paracheirodon innesi

When we think of fishkeeping and tropical fish, neon tetras will often be the first thing that comes to mind. They are true ‘classics’ in the aquarium hobby and remain very popular to this day among new and old aquarists alike. Their striking bright colors, peaceful nature and relatively easy care make them great for tropical communities and definitely a species to keep in mind when you’re looking for the perfect schooling fish! Keep reading for more about neon tetra keeping, care and requirements.

Tank size 15 gal (57L) minimum
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Temperature 70-79°F/21-26°C
pH 6-7.5


Paracheirodon innesi, neon tetra

Neon tetra natural habitat:

Neon tetras are naturally found in rainforests in South America. Here, they are mostly found in smaller streams with acidic water that is often stained a dark color by decomposing plants. This makes them typical inhabitants for Amazon tributary biotope aquariums with dark water, driftwood branches and plenty of leaf litter.

Neon tetra appearance

Neon tetras are well known for their colors, which are indeed very bright and almost neon-like! In naturally colored specimens a blue line runs across the top of the body, along with a red line below it that stops halfway. The belly is a silver-white color. Selective breeding has also produced multiple other color variations, such as ‘diamond’ (missing the blue stripe) and albino. Breeders have also developed a strain with long fins instead of the naturally short ones.

Be sure not to confuse neon tetras with their slightly larger but very similar looking cousins, Continue reading

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Culture Daphnia for Live food

Daphnia, commonly known as water fleas, are an excellent food source for juvenile and adult fish. They are easy to culture and take very little maintenance to keep a colony going. Harvesting is very simple as well as they are a fully aquatic live food, which means you don’t have to clean up if you accidentally overfeed as you would with other live foods like grindal worms.

If you have a planted tank that you have a lot of leftover trimmings from that you don’t sell or just leftover vegetables like lettuce, then this is probably the perfect live culture for you.

This guide on culturing live Daphnia is a guest post by Jesse!

Building Daphnia Colony

With this method, you want to make sure you have a spot for multiple 5+ gallon size buckets that will get enough sunlight (typically in the morning or afternoon). Once you’ve found a spot, you’ll need Continue reading

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7 fast growing aquarium plants!

There are plenty of reasons to want to go for fast growing live plants in your aquarium. Some fish love to nibble on plants, so it’s a great idea to grow them separately to add some variety to their diet. Fast growers compete with algae, are usually relatively easy to care for and can really help achieve that lush, overgrown jungle look! Keep reading for 8 super fast growing aquarium plants,

If you’re looking for a list of easy aquarium plants for beginners, this article might be helpful.

Brazilian pennywort, Hydrocotyle leucocephala

Hydrocotyle, also known as pennywort, is a stem plant that naturally grows in swamps and marshes and is available in many different varieties. The type discussed here, Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian pennywort), is one of the most versatile plants in the aquarium hobby.

It forms long, vertical stems with round leaves and looks great as a background plant, but can also be left free floating or even be grown emersed! Parts that are above the water surface can produce small flowers and it makes a great paludarium plant. Temperature is rarely a problem, as this plant does well in a very wide range and will almost always grow very quickly, especially if plenty of light is provided. If you’re looking for a foreground plant you can trail your Brazilian pennywort across the bottom of the tank or look into other Hydrocotyle varieties like Hydrocotyle verticillata.
You can buy Hydrocotyle leucocephala online here.

Hornwort, Ceratophyllum submersum

If there’s one plant we can’t miss on a list of fast growing aquarium plants it’s definitely hornwort. This stem plant has been a part of the aquarium hobby for a very long time and is well known for its quick growth. It also does well in a huge range of temperatures and water values, has a decorative Continue reading

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Aquarium thermometer 101 | Types & why you need one

When setting up an aquarium and buying equipment, it can be easy to forget to pick up a thermometer. For beginning aquarists who do remember to get one, the different types of aquarium thermometers can be quite confusing. Which one works best for your aquarium? Keep reading to find out why you need a thermometer in your aquarium, which types you can find and their pros and cons!

Why do you need an aquarium thermometer?

While most aquarists are aware they need a heater for their tropical aquarium, not everyone knows just how important it is to be able keep a close eye on your aquarium temperature yourself. You should always have a thermometer in your aquarium and check it at least every day; just a quick glance when you’re feeding the fish and after water changes can be enough to catch any problems early on and prevent fishkeeping disasters. There are two reasons for this! Continue reading

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7 Easy coldwater aquarium fish

Most fish sold in pet- and aquarium stores come from tropical regions and require a heated aquarium. If you’re interested in setting up an unheated aquarium, though, you may be surprised to hear which popular “tropical” fish are actually sub-tropical and appreciate lower temperatures! Keep reading for a list of easy aquarium fish that don’t need a heater.

White cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)

White cloud mountain minnows (video above!) are very popular aquarium fish often sold to beginning aquarists as tropical. Although these fish do naturally experience seasonal fluctuations and warmer summers, they actually prefer a temperature between 60-72 °F or 15-22 °C. This means you can keep them without a heater and even outside if you live in a warmer area. Their slightly smaller and lesser known cousin, the Vietnamese mountain minnow (Tanichthys micagemmae), prefers slightly warmer temperatures between 64.5-71.5 °F or 18-22 °C.

Mountain minnow habitat is quite Continue reading

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Caresheet: Clown Loach | Chromobotia macracanthus

Juvenile clown loaches can be found for sale in almost any aquarium store. Their bright stripes and snail eating capabilities make them a popular beginner choice, but they are actually on the list of the 8 worst beginner aquarium fish due to their adult size, activity level and sensitivity to bad water quality! However, don’t write them off entirely: they are fun to keep, have great personalities and make a wonderful aquarium ‘centerpiece’. Keep reading for everything you need to know about clown loach care!

Tank size 140 gal (530L)
Temperament Mostly peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Temperature 78-87°F/25-30°C
pH 6-7.5


Clown loach, Chromobotia macracanthus

Natural habitat

Clown loaches can naturally be found in Borneo and Sumatra, where they live in dark, soft water rivers.

Clown loach appearance

Clown loaches have a body shape similar to other Continue reading

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