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Fish Tank Habitat – Cold Water or Tropical Fish?

Selecting your fish tank habitat should be the first thing you do before setting up an aquarium. Start selecting a fish tank habitat by thinking about the types of fish you would like to keep.

There is a lot of aquarium fish for beginners but the type of habitat you select should be explored before selecting any fish.

There are three main types of fish tank habitats, Coldwater, Tropical, and Marine. Coldwater and Tropical are freshwater aquarium setups and a Marine aquarium is a saltwater setup.

We recommend for the beginner you focus on either Coldwater or Tropical habitat.

A marine aquarium habitat requires special care, time and in most cases expensive equipment. We recommend a Marine aquarium for more advanced fish keepers.

That said, we will focus on the cold water fish tank and the tropical fish tank.

Let’s explore each fish tank habitat:

Coldwater Fish:

“Refers to fish species that prefer cooler water temperatures than tropical fish, typically below 20 °C (68 °F). Some examples are koi and goldfish. These species tend to grow more slowly and live longer than fish that live in warmer waters, and are generally felt to be easier to keep…

When kept in a household aquarium, they do not require a heater and are quite comfortable at around 60°F (15°C). Wikipedia

Because of these qualities, Coldwater fish are the most popular for children and beginners.

Most Coldwater fish are inexpensive to keep and require less maintenance.

Examples of common coldwater aquarium fish you can keep at home are:

Gold Barb
Green Barb
Rosy Barb
Two Spot Barb
Bloodfin Tetra
Buenos Aires Tetra
Guppy
Zebra Danio
Pearl Danio
Weather Loach
White Cloud Mountain Minnow

All of the above are very hardy fish and can thrive in temperatures in the mid-’60s, all can be found in most pet stores.

There are many more options but this is a good list to start from.

Freshwater Tropical Fish:

Are found in tropical climates and typically require temperatures to be around 75-80°F.

Because of their bright coloring, tropical fish are the most popular with fish keepers.

By installing a heater your aquarium can maintain set temperature with minimal effort.

Here is a great list of the many tropical aquarium fish available:

Have a look through the list and consider a few things, habitat, temperature range, aggression, size.

Once you have a good idea of what fish tank habitat and fish species you would like to keep, we can move on to Step #2.

Top Tip: Tip: Because of the differences in temperature ranges Coldwater and freshwater fish are not typically mixed. However, many of the Coldwater species listed above, Barbs, for example, can do very well in both Coldwater and tropical aquariums.

Which is better tropical or cold water fish?

Both have their benefits however keep in mind that some tropical fish can live in cold water conditions while other tropical fish can not. It really comes down to what you are trying to accomplish with your tank.

Can you keep tropical fish in cold water?

There are many tropical fish like Zebra Danio that can live in cold water and lower temperatures. Most tropical fish are found in tropical climates and typically require temperatures to be around 75-80°F.

What aquarium fish can live in cold water?

Examples of common coldwater aquarium fish you can keep at home are:

  • Gold Barb
    Green Barb
    Rosy Barb
    Two Spot Barb
    Bloodfin Tetra
    Buenos Aires Tetra
    Guppy
    Zebra Danio
    Pearl Danio
    Weather Loach
    White Cloud Mountain Minnow