What Fish Can Live Together in an Aquarium?


When you're considering fish types for stocking your aquarium, basic compatibility between species is a crucial factor. While you certainly don't want some of your fish snacking on others, you also want to avoid fish who just constantly pester other tank mates. Just like a bad neighbor, it only takes one inappropriate fish to destroy community harmony.


  • The types of fish suitable for your aquarium also depend upon the size of the tank.

Fish Levels

When planning your tank stocking, consider the level a particular species occupies -- the top, middle or bottom. Fish at differing levels are far less territorial than they are with species sharing their space. As a general rule:

  • Fish with upturned mouths live at the top of the tank -- their mouth suits food found floating on the surface.
  • If the mouth faces forward, the fish is most likely a mid-level resident.
  • A down-turned mouth indicates a bottom feeder.


  • Always find out the adult size of any fish before purchasing. You don't want fish so large they will overwhelm the tank, and even peaceful species may munch on much smaller fish if given the opportunity.

Peaceful Community Fish

The best choices for relatively easy-care, peaceful community fish for the novice include:

  • Platys -- available in various colors, these social fish reach an adult length of 3 inches.
  • Guppies -- also appearing in a range of shades, the guppy matures at about 2 inches.
  • Swordtails --also colorful, swordtails reach 4 inches at maturity. Avoid keeping them with platies, as they will interbreed. Don't have more than one male swordtail for every three females.
  • Zebra dainos -- commonly referred to as zebra fish, this small -- 2 to 2.5 inches -- species make good cycling fish. Those are the hardy first fish put in a new aquarium to establish ammonia levels. If you keep zebras, avoid other species that tend to nip fins.
  • Corydoras catfish -- although plain, these peaceful creatures excel at cleaning out the bottom of the tank.

As these are all schooling fish, purchase and keep them in minimums of six.

Fish to Avoid

  • Avoid placing certain species in your community tank. These include:
  • African cichlids -- these beautiful fish may devour all of your community species.
  • Red-tailed sharks -- these aren't actual sharks, but they are territorial and will harass other fish.
  • Tiger barbs -- these fish are fin-nippers extraordinaire.


  • Avoid adding a fish to the tank whose mouth is large enough to entirely engulf another community fish.

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