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Aquarium Setup Guide

With the seemingly infinite number of combinations of fish, plants, and invertebrates that can be put together in an aquarium, it might be difficult to determine which ones will work best. Generally, putting plants and animals that come from the same type of habitat works well because they all have similar requirements.

  pH Hardness Temperature Salt Aquascaping
Rainforest Fishes
(South American and West African cichlids; bettas and gouramis; tetras, barbs, danios, rasboras; etc.)
6.0 to 7.0 soft to moderate 76° to 82°F no salt needed plants; driftwood; inert rocks (quartz, slate, granite, onyx, etc.), gravel, and sand
African Rift Lake Fishes
(cichlids and other fishes from the rift Lakes)
7.5 to 8.5 hard to very hard 74° to 80°F Rift Lake salts
(if needed to increase hardness and pH)
soluble rocks, gravel, and sand (dolomite, limestone, coral rock, lace rock, tufa rock)
Central American Fishes
(Central American cichlids, livebearers, cave tetras, catfish, etc.)
7.0 to 8.0 moderate to hard 74° to 82°F many species are salt-tolerant plants; driftwood; all rocks, gravel, and sand (soluble and non-soluble)
Brackish Fishes
(monos, scats, some puffers, mollies, gobies, etc.)
7.8 to 8.0 moderately hard 74° to 82°F specific gravity 1.001 to 1.012 salt tolerant plants (anubias, Java fern, mangrove); driftwood; all rocks, gravel, and sand
Marine Fishes
(all coral reef fishes)
8.3 moderately hard 76° to 84°F specific gravity 1.025 live rock; macroalgae; soluble rocks, gravel, and sand
All parameters and values are suggested approximate preferences only; wide variability and adaptability exist among species and individuals within each category.

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