Fish belongs to vertebrate group of organisms living in water bodies, either fresh or marine water. As of date, more than 25,000 fish species are identified and scientists are of the opinion that there are 15,000 more species, which are yet to be identified. The characteristic features of fish are breathing through gills, and presence of paired and unpaired fins that help them in efficient swimming. Besides fins, the body of fish is covered with some sort of protective scales.

Most of the fish species are cold-blooded (or ectothermic) and depend on their surrounding environment to maintain their body temperature. Irrespective of the water chemistry, nearly all water bodies are inhabited by fish. For example, you can find various types of fish in the ocean at such a depth where there is very less or no light penetration. Likewise, several fish species are found dwelling in the streams of high mountains. As far as importance of fish is concerned, they are eaten as food and also, reared as pets in fish tanks.

Fish is an important source of food for humans. Enriched with healthy proteins, they are a delicacy for people who eat animal based foods (non-vegetarians). And for aquarists, fish are wonderful pets kept in decorative aquariums. Indeed, rearing them is a relaxing hobby, which you get to enjoy watching colorful fish swimming, playing, and feeding. Since the demand of fish is very high, fish farming and fishing are sources of income for several people. Mentioned below are lists of edible fish and aquarium fish types.

Types of Fish to Eat

Both freshwater and marine fish are consumed as human food since time immemorial. In the market, they are sold fresh, dried, canned, or pickled. Research studies have shown that fish-derived proteins and nutrients are healthier than those of poultry and meat. What's more, many saltwater fish species contain a high percentage of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which help in treating cardiovascular diseases. Commonly eaten fish are listed below.

  • Anchovy
  • Abalone
  • African butter fish
  • Bass
  • Barramundi
  • Basa
  • Black drum
  • Bluegill sunfish
  • Bream
  • Brill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Coley
  • Cod fish
  • Crab
  • Croaker
  • Crayfish
  • Crawfish
  • Cuttlefish
  • Dab fish
  • Dogfish
  • Eel
  • Flounder
  • Grouper
  • Gurnard
  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Hoki
  • Huss
  • Jacksmelt
  • Ling
  • Lobster
  • Mackerel
  • Mahi mahi
  • Milkfish
  • Monkfish
  • Mullet
  • Opakapaka
  • Orange roughy
  • Oyster
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Pollock
  • Pompano
  • Redfish
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Scallop
  • Sheepshead
  • Shrimp
  • Skate
  • Sole
  • Swordfish
  • Tilapia
  • Tripletail
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Turbot
  • Wahoo
  • Weakfish
  • Whitefish
  • White grunt

Fish products, either canned or pickled, may contain traces of mercury and harmful chemicals. Hence, while purchasing them for consumption purpose, make sure you select those of quality brands. Last but not the least, some edible fish types (e.g. shellfish, sushi) increase the risk of food poisoning, if proper cooking is not done. Thus, correct preparation and cooking of fish is a must to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

Types of Fish for Pets

Depending on whether you want to keep freshwater fish or marine fish, you are required to construct an appropriate aquarium. Marine fish are more varied in color, shape, and size than the freshwater types. But, they need special care and maintenance. Hence, a freshwater aquarium is an ideal choice for a novice aquarist. In the United States, the most commonly kept aquarium fish comprises tropical fish. The list of popular aquarium fish types includes the following.

  • Anemone fish
  • Angelfish
  • African butterfly fish
  • Arowana
  • Banded coral shrimp
  • Barb
  • Betta fish
  • Biota
  • Bala shark
  • Bat fish
  • Black knife fish
  • Black-tailed dascyllus
  • Blennies
  • Butterfly loach
  • Bumblebee goby
  • Catfish
  • Cypriniformes
  • Cherubfish
  • Clownfish
  • Comet
  • Copperband butterfly
  • Cory
  • Cichlid
  • Crab
  • Damsel
  • Danio
  • Discus
  • Elephant nose
  • Fantail fish
  • Goldfish
  • Gourami
  • Guppies
  • Knife fish
  • Labyrinth fish
  • Lionfish
  • Loach
  • Molly
  • Mono
  • Needle nose
  • Oscar fish
  • Pacu
  • Platy
  • Scat
  • Seahorse
  • Shark
  • Shubunkin
  • Silver dollar
  • Spotted puffer fish
  • Squirrel fish
  • Swordtail
  • Tetra fish
  • Tiger Barb
  • Upside down cat
  • Yellowhead jawfish
  • Yellow tang
  • Yellowtail wrasse

In the present scenario, there are different types of fish that are listed in the endangered and near extinction categories. No doubt, some species are already extinct knowingly or unknowingly. But, it is never too late to conserve the extant fish. It is high time that we should stop overfishing, polluting water bodies, and destroying habitat to save this aquatic vertebrate animal. These simple conservatory approaches will surely help preserve fish and other inhabitants of the aquatic ecosystem.

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Freshwater aquarium fish are easy to care and very enjoyable pets. They can easily live in a small 5 gallon tank and love swimming in a 100 gallon tank. You can house your pet in a glass or acrylic tank. Use different substrates and decorative ornamental pieces, like rocks, live plants, plastic plants, and even some fancy plastic aquarium toys. The tank can be lit up with a bulb and you can place a filter to keep the water clean. You can even place a heater to provide some warmth to them. You can use normal tap water as the medium for your pet to live in.

As an aquarium enthusiast, you can choose from a variety of fish. You should keep in mind that the fish should be similar in size to avoid larger ones from picking on the smaller ones or the tiny ones eating up the fins of the larger fish. Also, they should not compete with each other for food, as it will result in starvation and death of the weaker lot. You need to choose the right pet for your aquarium so that they can peacefully exist alongside each other.

Basics of Their Compatibility

Fish are very sensitive and delicate creatures. Any amount of stress can lead to their untimely death. The freshwater fish are divided into 3 categories according to their behavior:

  • Community Fish: They are peace-loving and happy-go-lucky. They do not get into fights and are compatible with all the others. You can safely mix and match different community species in your tank.
  • Semi-aggressive Fish: These are a bit high-strung and will not shy away and would occasionally nip and bite other fish. They tend to be peaceful when small, but as they increase in size they turn into fin-nipping rogues. They will chase and tire the others. They are good for community tanks, but make sure you keep an eye on them as they grow bigger in size.
  • Aggressive Fish: Just as the name suggests, these fish can be called the fighters. They love to pick on little ones and are not compatible with any other species. They can live around with other aggressive ones of their own kind or size. However, they have a habit of bullying weaker ones by pushing them around.

The Compatibility Chart

Category Community Semi-aggressive Aggressive
Anabantids Dwarf Gourami

Flame Gourami

Opaline Gourami

Pearl Gourami

Siamese Fighting Fish/Betta Fish

Spike-tailed Paradise fish

Honey Gourami

Kissing Gourami

Black Paradise fish
Aquarium Catfish Banjo Catfish

Bristlenose

Chinese Algae Eater

Corydoras

Green Catfish

Leopard Catfish

Plecostomus

Spotted Catfish

Upside Down Catfish

Bumble Bee Catfish
Charachins Black Neon Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra

Cardinal Tetra

Congo Tetra

Emperor Tetra

Flame Tetra

Glowlight Tetra

Head and Tail Light Tetra

Neon Tetra Fish

Rummy-nosed Tetra

Serpae Tetra

Hatchetfish

Pencilfish

Bloodfin

Penguin Fish

X-Ray Fish

Bleeding Heart Tetra

Black Widow

Buenos Aires Tetra

Silver Dollar

Red Belly Piranha
Cichlids Freshwater Angelfish

Blue Acara

Discus

Festivum

Ram

Firemouth

Severum

Convict

Green Terror

Jack Dempsey

Red Oscar

Cyprinids Cherry Barb

Bala (Tri-Color) Shark

Black Shark

Blue Danio

Giant Danio

White Cloud

Zebra Danio

Harlequin Rasbora

Flying Fox

Green Tiger Barb

Red-tailed Shark

Rosy Barb

Tiger Barb

Tinfoil Barb

Killifish Lyretail
Livebearers Guppy fish

Molly

Platy

Swordtail Knife Livebearer
Loaches Clown Loach

Dwarf Loach

Horseface Loach

Unclassified Australian Rainbowfish

Boesmani Rainbow fish

Boesman's Rainbow fish

Bumble Bee Goby

Elephant Nose

Rainbow fish

Archer Butterfly Fish

This chart will help you know which ones are compatible. You can try keeping some of the community fish with the semi-aggressive species, but make sure you always have an eye on them. Do not introduce the aggressive ones to the tank, else most of your peace-loving fish will end up dead.

You can have a fish tank of some exotic fish even in your home. However, there are many factors you will need to consider while setting up a tank. If you are maintaining a tank with the same freshwater exotic fish species, then taking care of them will be easier. However, when keeping a variety of fishes, make sure these exotic pets are compatible with each other, and don't become aggressive and try to kill each other.

Top 10 Exotic Freshwater Fish

Given below is a list of ten most attractive and freshwater exotic fishes, which can be maintained in an aquarium.

Dwarf Gourami: All gourami are great addition to a community fish tank, are quite easy to take care of. There are two varieties of this fish, the blue and the flame red. These are not picky eaters, and you can feed them fish food and as a treat frozen blood worms once in a while.

Neontetra: These are one of the most attractive looking fish for aquariums. They are commonly known as neon fish, and have a bright-colored horizontal streak in the middle of the body, with red color near the tails. They are peaceful fish, and are best maintained in school of 6 or more.

Angelfish: These are pretty common pet fish, and come in total black, silver or streaked or marbled patterns. They are peaceful, and easy to care for fish. Angelfish are pretty cheap, and perfect for beginner fish owners.

Rainbow: This fish is called the rainbow fish because of its interesting array of colors, as it reflects the colors around it. These are hardy fish, and should be maintained with 6 or more number of the same fish species.

Jewel Cichlid: This is another beautiful freshwater exotic fish, which is quite easy to take care of. When cichlid care is properly maintained, their colors can look great. These fish are orangish in color, with purple fin tips, and white spots all over the body.

Tinfoil Barb: Another good fish for beginners, this fish is sold in pet stores and is very easy to take care of. These fish like to jump out of tanks which don't have any hoods. These freshwater fish are silver in color, and around 13 inches in size.

Oscar: The oscar fish might not be very shiny, but are perfect for novice fish owners, as it is very easy to take care of, and does well in basic aquarium conditions. They are around 13 inches in size, and color varieties like albino, brown, dark gray and olive-green can be seen.

Glassfish: Indian glassfish is a rare exotic fish for aquarium, due to two reasons. The fist reason being it is very attractive, as it is transparent and you can see the bone structure inside it. The second reason for it being a rare aquarium fish is that they are difficult to maintain, and hence not recommended for beginners.

Pearl Gourami: These are another attractive gouramis aquarium fish with their orange bodies, bluish fins and spotted body pattern. These are easy to take care of fish. They are peaceful in nature, and are around 5 inches in size.

Killifish: This is one of the most attractive freshwater fish, and its coloration can vary from pink, silver, maroon, white, red to orange. These are around 2 inches in size, and quite easy to take care of.

The above list has general information about some of the most beautiful exotic fish which live in freshwater. Make sure you study the individual fish characteristics and care factors well, and then set up a community tank. Another important check you need to do, is to see that the fish are legally allowed as pets. So, select these as pets wisely, and enjoy a stunning looking community tank!