How to take care of Freshwater fish?

In this article we will discuss everything about how to care for freshwater fish in aquarium settings.We will also learn the necessary requirements for maintaining the freshwater tanks.


In this blog post

  • Primary requirements for freshwater aquariums care
  • Other important requirements for freshwater fish aquarium care
  • List of some well known freshwater aquarium fish
  • Tank plants for freshwater fish
  • Tank mates for freshwater fish
  • Diet for your freshwater fish
  • Freshwater fish disease and treatment
  • Summary 

How to take care of Freshwater fish?

Primary requirements for freshwater aquariums care:

Choose the appropriate aquarium for your freshwater fish

It’s very important to choose the right aquarium for your aquatic friends.The size and shape of the aquarium plays an important role in fish growth and health.

Different aquarium fish have different requirements in terms of size and shape of the tank.Some fish can adjust in nano tanks, some larger fish need bigger tanks with great surface area and groups of schooling fish need spacious tanks to swim together.

Bigger and spacious aquariums will provide more surface areas along with great oxygen circulation in the aquarium, which will keep your aquatic buddies stress-free in an artificial environment.

Some fish require a desktop aquarium,some rectangular and some need taller aquariums.It won’t be a good idea to keep a group of fish in a smaller tank.

Overcrowding could cause stress, hinder their growth and ultimately they will become inactive and die off.

So It’s the very first and foremost thing to keep in mind before getting your freshwater or any aquarium fish in your home from pet shops.

Always do thorough research about it from pet shop owners or experienced aquarists about how to choose an appropriate aquarium for your fish.

Set the best aquarium water conditions​​​ for freshwater fish

The second thing to keep in mind is the water conditions in the aquarium.Its very important to replicate the same water parameters for your freshwater buddies like their natural habitat to keep them sane ,healthy and active in aquarium settings.

Water conditioners, pH, temperature, degree of water hardness should be similar to their natural homes.

Water conditioning in freshwater aquarium:

You should always use good quality water conditioners like dechlorinating agents to maintain the pristine water conditions.

pH maintenance in freshwater aquarium :

Maintain the right pH for the freshwater fish to keep them healthy. Fluctuation in pH could be detrimental to them.

A stable pH between 6.8-7.5 will keep your freshwater fish away from getting sick.You can buy pH testing kits for your aquariums to monitor pH on a daily basis to keep your fish healthy.

Temperature maintenance and aquarium heater in freshwater aquarium:

Temperature plays a great role in maintaining the metabolism of your fish.

Growth and development entirely depends on the stable temperature in the aquarium.

If you are not maintaining the ideal temperature in the aquarium, your fish will become sick and will die off eventually.

Aquarium heaters and thermometers are mandatory in the tank to maintain and monitor the suitable temperature.

It is advised to never keep your freshwater tanks in direct sunlight to avoid unnecessary heat.

Temperature for freshwater aquarium-72F-82F

Tank preparation and tank maintenance for freshwater aquarium

  • It is extremely important to monitor the water conditions regularly and maintain the pristine water conditions.
  • Tank cleaning should be done everyday to avoid contamination.
  • Water should be changed either weekly or monthly depending upon the aquarium size and different freshwater species.
  • Some freshwater fish keepers change 25% water monthly to keep the tank free from tank pollution.
  • A gravel siphon is important to remove dirt, leftovers under the gravel everyday to avoid ammonia spikes in the tank.
  • If we don’t remove uneaten food everyday then this food will settle down in the bottom of the tank and increase ammonia pollution in the tank.
  • A good quality tank scrub is also important to eliminate different types of algae from the aquarium.
  • It’s very important to maintain pristine water conditions for your freshwater fish to survive.
  • The tank pollution will lower the oxygen levels in the tank and this will in turn reduce the oxygen circulation in the tank.The fish will die due to less oxygen in the tank.
  • Always add your freshwater fish in a fully cycled tank.

Practice aquarium acclimation

  • Always ask the pet shop owners about the water parameters in which they were kept in stores according to their natural habitat, to maintain ammonia,nitrite,nitrate,pH levels and temperature conditions in aquarium settings.
  • It is very important to replicate the same water conditions in the aquarium too for their better health and longevity.
  • After getting your freshwater fish home in the plastic bag, keep that bag floating for some 10-15 mins on the aquarium water to let them adjust in their new home.
  • Take some aquarium water every five mites to fill the plastic bag to acclimate your new freshwater buddy.Slowly release them in the aquarium to adjust easily in the new tank conditions.This will help them to adjust to water chemistry easily and stress free.

Observe aquatic life for changes in freshwater aquarium

It is very important to observe them regularly, their behavior, feeding habits, feeding frequency,swimmin patterns, physical status and tank conditions to give them a healthy and stress free environment.

  • If you observe their unusual swimming behavior then kindly check what is wrong with them.
  • If they are not eating properly, become inactive and start floating in the tank then it’s a matter of concern.
  • Always maintain a diet and feeding chart to know the feeding frequency and rotate their diets to provide them balanced and nutritional food.
  • If they feel suffocated in tanks then kindly shift them to spacious tanks to provide them a stress free environment.
  • If they are sick then shift them to a hospital tank until they recover.
  • Always quarantine new freshwater fish or their tank mates before introducing them to the main tank.

Other important requirements for freshwater fish aquarium care

Freshwater fish aquarium filter

Efficient biological and mechanical filtration is very important in freshwater fish aquariums to remove toxic ammonia,other organic pollutants,leftovers and leaves from the aquarium.

Air pumps for freshwater fish aquarium

Air pumps are not needed for all the freshwater species.It is mainly used to oxygenate the tank by circulating the whole tank so that you fish can breathe in the tank.Different brands are available in shops which are efficient and effective.

Substrate freshwater fish aquarium

  • For freshwater tanks, smooth gravel plays an important role .
  • Make sure the gravels are not sharp as it can hurt your fish.
  • Avoid coloured gravels because it can disturb the water chemistry.
  • Always clean the gravel using a gravel siphon to remove leftovers from the underside of the gravels without disturbing the beneficial bacteria.

Lighting freshwater fish aquarium

  • Freshwater fish like other fish need suitable light to distinguish day or night.
  • Natural indirect sunlight in your room is more than enough. 
  • They don’t  need extra ordinary aquarium lights in their aquariums. Standard aquarium lights will do the needful
  • Indirect sunlight for some hours would be fine for your live aquatic plant to perform  photosynthesis and remain healthy.
  • Too much brightness can stress them and even increase the production of algae in their aquarium.

Decors for freshwater fish aquarium

  • Driftwood
  • Seashells
  • Mini ocean look
  • Fake or artificial plants

List of some well known freshwater aquarium fish

  • Catfish
  • Cichlids
  • Cyprinids
  • Loaches
  • Live-bearers
  • Killifish 
  • Rainbowfish

Tank plants for freshwater fish

Adding live aquatic plants to your tank can provide environmental advantages than adding artificial or fake plants. 

Tank plants safe for your freshwater fish tanks should be arranged in the middle or the rear side of the tanks:

  • Anubias nana 
  • Cryptocoryne beckettii
  • Aponogeton ulvaceus bulb
  • Java fern
  • Amazon sword
  • African water fern
  • Dwarf aquarium lily
  • Water wisteria (leaves size changes in accordance with the temperature)

Tank mates for freshwater fish

These tank-mates are suitable and can co-exist with freshwater fish because they swim peacefully,happily and easily adjust with other tank mates.

  • Cory catfish
  • Neon tetra
  • Platies
  • Swordtail.
  • Fancy guppy.
  • Hatchetfish
  • Zebra danio
  • Otocinclus

Diet for your freshwater fish

Most of the freshwater fish are omnivorous so it’s important to feed them both plant based and meaty food in their diets.Include lots of protein enriched food in their diets.

List of food for your freshwater fish are:

  • Livefood- Brine or ghost shrimp, feeder fish,crickets, and worms.
  • Always quarantine live food before feeding your freshwater fish to avoid various parasitic and protozoal infections.
  • Plant based food-you can give both home cooked plant based food and even aquarium plants will do the needful for freshwater fish.
  • Plant based food- Aquarium plants such as anacharis for munching,other food include lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, & spinach.
  • Always wash the plants thoroughly and chop them into smaller pieces before feeding them.
  • Avoid overfeeding as some freshwater species are voracious eaters and they wont stop eating.
  • They will always wait for you to feed them something.This will increase bioload in the tank and will disturb the water chemistry.

Freshwater fish disease and treatment

Freshwater diseases or infections:

  • Fin rot or fin decaying infection
  • Mouth fungus or columnaris disease
  • Swim bladder disease
  • Vibrosis

Freshwater disease or infection treatment:

  • Salt bath-Freshwater fishes should be kept in 15 to 30gm sodium chloride solution per liter of water for some half an hour to treat fungal infections.
  • They can be given a salt bath in potassium permanganate for an hour or so to treat infection. 
  • Aquarium salts are available in stores to cure your fish from such infections.
  • Myxazin can be used to treat bacterial infections.
  • Temperature, pH and other water parameters should be monitored everyday to avoid infections and other health conditions.
  • Water changes should be done to avoid ammonia pollutants.


  • Freshwater aquariums are recommended for both newcomers and experienced aquarists ,as they are easy to maintain unlike saltwater aquariums.
  • Freshwater aquariums are cost effective and manageable.
  • Choosing the right tank equipment,tank accessories,tank plants, healthy & nutritious diet & maintaining the pristine water conditions will keep the freshwater aquariums away from stress and different infections.
  • Water changes and tank cleaning should be done religiously to avoid infections in freshwater aquariums.
  • Don’t overcrowd the tanks.
  • Observe and monitor freshwater tank conditions everyday.

Frequently asked questions

Is a freshwater aquarium easy to maintain?

Freshwater tanks are generally easier to maintain and less risky. Also, freshwater tanks are cheaper than saltwater environments.

Do all freshwater require the same tank set-ups and equipment?

Tank size, shapes and feeding habits may differ, rest all the tank equipment and accessories will be the same in all the cases.