Tropical Fish | 8 Things you may not know!

Have you ever wondered do fish blink? Or perhaps you’ve asked someone do tropical fish have eyelids and received blank stares. Don’t worry we’re here to satisfy your fishy curiosity. You’re among friends here, there are no silly questions.

Keeping fish is a great hobby that opens you up to a whole new world. Tropical fish are the ideal fish to start off with because of the relative ease with which you can set up a tank and have a couple of fish swimming about in no time at all.

If you’re planning on getting your first ever aquarium set up and want to know all there is to know, about tropical fish, then you’re in the right place. We’ve scoured high and low to bring you the top eight things you should know about tropical fish before you begin.

Are you ready? Here we go.

8. There are two classes of Tropical fish

All fish originating in tropical waters the world over is referred to as tropical fish. Now tropical waters are found in the region close to the equator. There are two types of tropical fish:

  • Those that live in freshwater bodies such as streams, rivers, and lakes.
  • Those that live saltwater bodies like seas and oceans.

Examples of each of these are as follows:

Freshwater tropical fish: Catfish, Cichlids, Silver Dollar Fish, Dwarf Gouramis, Neon Tetra, Killifish, Pufferfish, Rainbow sharks

Saltwater tropical fish: Cowfish, Clownfish, Dragonets, Gobies, Coral Beauty Angelfish, Lionfish.

7. There were two world-class Tropical Fish Aquariums on display in 1900

The Fish House

As people began to migrate and travel around the world, British scientists soon discovered the myriad fish found in tropical waters. They saw fish they had never seen up in England.

This fascination with tropical fish led to the construction of the first-ever public tropical fish aquarium in Regent Park, London – The Fish House.

The aquarium was officially opened in 1853. It still stands today and is managed by the ZSL London Zoo.

Barnum’s American Museum

Famed showman P.T. Barnum was the first person to have a public tropical fish aquarium built in the New World. His museum which used to be located on the corner of Broadway and Ann Street was opened in 1842 and featured educational as well as strange attractions.

Known as Barnum’s American Museum it was a key New York must-visit attraction during its heydays. It burned down twice, once in 1865 and again in 1868. After that Barnum never rebuilt it again. However, an online virtual museum now exists.

6. Fish do some weird things

Fish talk

Now, ever looked at a fish opening and closing its mouth and thought it was talking? Well, it turns out fish actually do talk. Well, not in the audible human language of course, but fish such as cod and gurnards do quite a bit chatting.

This happens thanks to the contraction of their swim bladder. This contraction creates resounding vibrations known colloquially as fish talk.

Fish can hear

While goldfish aren’t quite tropical, it’s worth noting that they can hear, Yes fish can hear. In fact, scientists have even trained goldfish to link up certain sounds with food. For example, if you ring a bell before feeding the fish, it’ll soon associate this sound with food.

Fish can’t blink

If you were still wondering do fish blink, we’re now going to put that question to rest. Despite what many people think, fish do not, ladies and gentlemen, blink.

Ever. You might be asking but why? According to fish expert, Richard Brill from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Fish don’t have eyelids; therefore they can neither blink nor close their eyes.

5. Some fish are very aggressive

If you’re new to fish keeping you might not be aware of this, but fish can get quite aggressive. In fact, certain fish have been known to attack and eat their tank mates.

Betta fish, also known infamously as Siamese Fighting Fish are some of the most aggressive fish on the market. They typically fight with other Betta fish so it’s best not to have two Bettas sharing a solo tank.

Don’t put two male Bettas together or a male Betta and female Betta unless it’s mating time because they will fight to the death.

Tiger Oscar (Astronotus ocellatus)

Cichlids are another type of fish that shouldn’t be paired up with any other fish, the cute 2″ oscar fish will grow up to be a huge monster of a fish and can be very aggressive.

These seemingly harmless little fish are territorial and are known to bite, fight, and even kill their tank mates. There are, however, quite a few calm-natured cichlids so if you intend on getting yourself some, discuss with the aquarium staff first before buying.

4. Not all Tropical Fish live in the same type of water

Keeping fish can be quite fun. However, there’s a lot of preparation that goes on before you head on over to the local fish store to pick up your first pet.

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that all tropical fish are the same. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Everything from water temperature to pH to diet must be studied and known prior to getting your new friend.

Do fish have brains?
 Archerfish prefer Brackish water. Freshwater with salt added

One of the most common errors newbie fish keepers make is assuming that goldfish (which are in fact temperate fish and not a tropical fish) can be paired up with a tropical fish.

This isn’t 100% true.  Goldfish typically enjoy a 60F to 74F water temperature and a pH range between 7.0 and 8.4. They can be kept with lower temperature tropical fish but definitely not saltwater tropical fish!

Tropical fish, on the other hand, favor higher temperatures of 76F to 80F. Saltwater fish like a pH of 8.0 and above, while freshwater tropical fish tend to thrive and do better with pH between 5.5 and 7.5

3. Not all Tropical fish are suitable for beginners

There are quite a number of friendly fish you can keep if you’re a rookie fish keeper. The fish we’ve selected and listed below are fish known for their passive nature, and ability to live in community peaceably with other fish.

We’ve also considered how much attention is needed by these fish. Generally, the fish below don’t need a constant watch and can thrive in their environment independently so long as you follow a regular feeding schedule.  So, here is our list of beginner-friendly tropical fish:


Active little fishes these Danios. They are great fun to watch and are not picky eaters. Their diet is simple – fish flakes will do just fine.

Neon Tetra

neon tetra care guide
( Neon Tetras make great tropical fish for a home aquarium)

These multi-colored freshwater fish are ideal for getting as a group. Basic fish flakes and brine shrimp occasionally will keep these little guys happy.

Pearl Gourami

Fantastic to look at, these Gouramis will be happy in a tank that’s open at the top so they can come up for air. Their diet is both plant and meat-based; therefore consider getting algae-based flake food and tubifex.

2. Some fish are only for advanced level keepers 

If you’ve kept fish before, and are up for a challenge, and would like to keep more advanced fish, then boy do we have quite a selection for you! Remember that these fish below require more attention to detail, and need someone who has set up fish tanks before and knows how to keep
them clean.


Mandarin Dragonet
( Mandarin Dragonets are amazing saltwater fish, but can be tricky to feed)

Mandarinfish are absolutely stunning boasting interesting patterns on their bodies. To keep this saltwater fish content, you’ll need a tank that’s at least 6 months old and that has a carrying capacity of 50 gallons.

What makes this fish difficult to keep is its diet. Don’t buy a mandarin fish that hasn’t been trained to eat pellet food.


We’ve all seen them at public aquariums and thought; someday we’ll have enough experience to look after one in our home tanks.

keeping seahorses isn’t a walk in the park. Seahorses are especially sensitive to corals and fish that sting; therefore you have to set up your tank carefully avoiding these two elements.

You also need to add gorgonians so the seahorses will have somewhere to hang.

Orange Spotted Filefish

It’s quite challenging to keep and maintain these fish because of their very delicate diet of Acropora. Acropora is rare to find because it is hard to grow and keep alive.

This fish will not eat Acropora substitutes. So unless you know that you’ll have a lot of Acropora around, you should probably leave the filefish alone.

1.Nemo was not a Tropical Fish

For those with kids, you might have been forced to watch the Disney movie Finding Nemo a handful of times. However, did you know that Nemo is actually a type of tropical fish called a clownfish?

Clownfish are marine fish or seawater fish which make great pets because of their hardy nature. When you’re no longer a rookie fish keeper, you might want to consider trying your hand at keeping a clownfish.

Let’s wrap this up

Fishkeeping is a journey and a fascinating one at that. Scientists have already discovered 30,000 fish species but more keep being added each year. There’s always something more to learn about fish. That’s why this hobby never gets boring!