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Choosing Your Aquarium Pet

Even before we jump into choosing a goldfish, I would like to take this opportunity to run through a couple of other different kind of fish available for your consideration.


This article consists of two portions, first portion we shall take a look at the ,brief introduction of different kind of fish available as aquarium pet, and second portion will cover the varieties of goldfish in the market and the level of care required.


There is another article title ‘Selecting Your Goldfish’ which is actually the part 2 of this article. In that article, we will discuss how about the going of choosing the right goldfish for one. With that said, let me start the introduction with Betta… …



The Siamese (Thailand) fighting fish, more commonly known simply as "Betta", were first domesticated in 1893, only till 1920s hobbyists actually started keeping them in home aquariums.

Bettas come in a multi colours with long fins. The more common colours are red, and blue. The wild relatives usually have shorter fins. Males are slightly larger than females, and can grow up to 3 inches. The male will extend their fins and open their gills (flaring) when encounter another male. A fight would break out if not separated and sometime is lead to fatal ending. Betta is an extremely territory fish.

Betta by natural are able to live in water with low oxygen level because the fish has an organ called a labyrinth allows them to breathe air from the surface. Hence hobbyists can keep them in a small container. This is very suitable for hobbyist with limited space. Betta is also ideal for keeping in office table. Water changes are a must, and there is no exception, but because they are kept in small container, that makes it easy to change water, just take care of the temperature change. Nevertheless, Betta can be kept in community tank, but hobbyist has to be very selective with the tank mates. When come to food, Betta is not a choosy fellow.

Betta is not one of the longest-lived fish, they are at their peak probably will last 1 year and generally they can live between 3 and 5 years with proper care and maintenance.



Arowana is a big fish a variety of Scleropages. Their common name is ‘dragon fish’. I’m proud to say that the place of origin for this popular aquarium fish is in Southeast Asia. Juveniles feed on insects and adults feed on small fish. This fish is popular because it resemblance the Chinese dragon and believe to bring fortunate. The other reason is that it is an endangered species. Rarity excites hobbyists.

There are different varieties of arowana:
(1) Green (& silver) – most common variety
(2) Red-tailed Golden – usually found in Indonesia
(3) Gold Crossback - Malaysia
(4) Malayan Blue - Malaysia
(5) Red, Super Red, Blood Red, Chili Red – Western Borneo

For years, I have been rejecting the idea of keeping arowana, reflecting that I can only have one fish in a big 4 feet tank doesn’t excite me at all. Eventually, I did try, it turns out to be more fulfilling than I expected. Due to the fact that the fish is kept in isolation, one tends to pay extra attention to it. As time goes, the fish grow on me. I particularly enjoy the feeding session, sometime it would ask for more and the other it would refuse to eat. It will stare back at you with its majestic look and graceful swimming, these are very captivating characteristic too. In all, it gives a sense of interaction between me and the fish.

Because it only have one fish in the whole tank, with a proper filtration system, one would not have to do any water change, perhaps just to top up the water level once in awhile. For serious hobbyists, I believe they still practice partial water change every week. As for food, it is much easier than I thought. Hobbyist can simply feed them with ‘meal’ or ‘super’ worms, clean not messy and easily available. Surprisingly, in my opinion arowana is a low maintenance pet.



If one is into breeding, needless to say, guppy is a longstanding favourite choice. Usually hobbyists would start of by choosing guppy with vibrant colour and showy fins. However, as time goes more experienced hobbyists will change their aspect of selection. They will choose guppy base on its great breeding potential.

Among the different kind of aquarium fish, guppy provides hobbyist a chance to play a role of a bio-scientist practising selective breeding, and with a bit of trial and error a hobbyist can quite easily develop his or her own strain of guppy according to his own desirable colours, patterns, and fin shapes. However, one should note that for serious breeding, one will require more than 1 tank.

The down side of guppy keeping is that it has a very short life-span. Hence, hobbyist should expect a constant change in his collection. Not to worry, guppy is perhaps the least expensive fish. One can start this hobby by buying the feeder guppies before moving on to the fancier strains at the pet shop


Odd balls (Siamese Tiger, Leopard gar, Ray, etc)

I have to admit that I only get to know about this term ‘odd balls’ recently. It is referring to aquarium pet that are not ordinarily found in the pet shops. The fun part of such collection is to take up the challenge of care keeping of an ‘unknown’ species.

Usually, the hobbyists will pick up an uncommon species home and starts surfing the web or do research from books to find out more about the fish, and next they will try to understand and provide them the right diet and environment.

Personally, I don’t recommend beginners to start of with odd balls. Most odd balls hobbyists are quite experienced in one way or another. They often have a rough idea of the species that they are bringing home.

Lately, I got really crazy about Siamese Tiger. (Not sure if it is still considered as an odd ball). I went to pick up the fish from the pet shop without knowing any thing about it. Only to find out that it is a large fish by nature. Even at 6 inches, they are still very shy and spend most of their time resting at one corner, extremely active when the light is off. To some degree, odd balls hobbyists seek the joy of discovery and care taking of a unique species.



Welcome to the wonderful world of discus. Personally, I adore discus, their calmness and majestic look never failed to captivate me. However, hobbyists have to be ready to set time aside for this high maintenance specimen.

The focus for discus is its display of colours and interesting body shape. There are many ways of setting up a functional aquarium that is suitable for discus. In Asia, most hobbyists would prefer to need it in a bare tank. To ensure the water quality standards remain top condition, it is much simpler to keep and clean an empty tank.

Years of cross breeding results many different varieties of discus on the market. In the western countries the wild or basic discus are very much preferred. In Malaysia and Singapore, we have the many hybrid varieties like the Golden, Leopard-snake, Patterned albino, etc. A healthy discus has bright colour and the vertical bars are only shown temporarily then the fish are frighten or stressed. The dorsal fins are outstretched.

Base on my personal experience, if one is to feed beef-heart, one should perform daily water change. As for feeding frozen bloodworm, water change every two to three days is necessary and finally if one is feeding only dry food, one can reduce the water change to once a week. Juvenile discus strikes better in group. Hence it is good to keep at least 6 discus in a small manageable 2 feet tank and as they grow, we can shift them to a 3 to 4 feet tank. The 2 feet tank can be kept for future breeding possible.


Tetra (and rainbow fish, angel fish, etc)

For hobbyists that are more into coming home to stare at a ‘life painting’ rather than spending too much effort in care taking, I would recommend Tetra. Basically, a tank with a good filtration system set up would have very low maintenances. With a bit of imagination, one can re-create a section of the Amazon River in his or her own living room.

Tetra is native to black-water or clear-water stream in south-eastern Colombia, Peru and Brazil area. Its popularity as a tropical fish is unchallenged. Generally tetra can live 10 years or more with proper caring. They look lovely swimming in school. Keeping in a community with densely planted aquarium is ideal, but should not be kept with large or aggressive fish who more likely to eat them up!

The most famous of the Tetra species is the popular Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi). The Neon tetra grows no larger than 5 centimeters (2 inches). There are also the Congo tetra (Micralestes interruptus) and the Serpae tetra (Hyphessobrycon eques). In my personal opinion, the downside of keeping tetra or similar small family fish is that it doesn’t give me the kind of rarity I seek for. One can easily find his or her identical tetra available in everywhere else.



I have kept marine fish for 2 years and that was about 10 years old. Back then, supporting equipments necessary to ensure a successful marine keeping were very expensive. Hence, trying to take a portion of mother-nature creation and put it in a tank is definitely not a simple task. For the passed years, the equipments have been made cheaper and more advance, hence successful marine keeping is more visible.

There are three ways in keep marine fish.
(1) Bare tank
(2) With live rock (Most hobbyist opinion)
(3) With Reef (Most difficult to maintain)

To start a marine tank, it is far more complicated than a freshwater tank. However, once the hobbyist has understood how to correctly maintain the system and established a routine care taking, the rest would be more at ease.

The hobbyist who decide to take up marine fish keeping, one have to be prepared to constantly check on the water quality, and temperature. In other words, the key to successful marine fish keeping is to create a stable environment for the fish which requires constant monitoring.

One of the main advantages of marine aquarium is that one will be able to keep a wide range of extraordinary beautiful fishes. Examples the Lionfish, Clownfish, Emperor, etc, they have such an attractive shapes and colours that cannot be found in fresh water species. Nevertheless, before one starts buying the fish, it is advisable that one spends some time reading up about the different species available. Generally, most marine fish are pretty territory.


Cichlid (Oscar, Flower Horn; aka Luo Han)

The closest fresh water fish to marine fish or should I say, the second best to marine fish in term of colours are the Cichild family. For example, the East African cichlid (from Lake Malawi), it has more colour than any fresh water fish one can find.

The second best reason for one to consider keeping cichlid is that they are hardy fish. Beginner can pick up the fish without much problem. Cichlid has a wide range of tolerable pH levels. Although they are smaller in size (about 4 to 6 inch) they have a big character like the large species, arowana. They are energetic bunch of fish!

Cichlids covers such a wild range that the Flower Horn and Oscar are all under the same family with the same characteristic. By nature, cichlids is a very aggressive fish, nonetheless, this is good news to many hobbyists because to remove this aggressive factor from the fish, the answer is to ‘crowded’ the tank. When kept in a crowded environment, aggressive and dominant fish tend to lose focus. In fact, crowding is actually a condition that is found in the wild. An Under proper caring, average life span of a cichlids can be as long as 4 to 10 years. Feeding cichlids is very easy since they accept just about any food one may choose to give them. They thrive and do well on standard dry foods.



Koi and goldfish are cousin, both came from the common carp family. Hence, koi and goldfish have very similar characteristic and body system. The actual name for koi is Nishikigoi which name after a place where this fish is developed by the Japanese over 200 years ago.

Koi is a large species fish, the average koi can grow to 24-36 inches, and it is meant to be kept in the pond. Nevertheless, a large aquarium with good filtration and aeration system, I see no reason why it cannot be kept. If one have the luxuries of space, koi is definitely a good choice for pet, it is part of an excellent landscaping, a living art to any garden. Average life span of a koi is about 25 to 35 years!

Like goldfish, koi can go without food for 10 days or more. Hence, hobbyists who decided to go on a short holiday would not have to worry about feeding the fish. Koi can withstand a wide range of temperatures.

What makes koi (so is goldfish) unique is that they come in different varieties, and colours. There are no two that look exactly alike.

Although Fynnmood Goldfish Club as indicate a goldfish club, the club would like to focus on the joy of fish keeping and appreciation not limiting to goldfish. Hope above information regarding the different kind of fish would be helpful. The objective of this article is to provide a brief introductions and expectations to a new hobbyist regarding fish keeping. So that one should have a rough idea of what kind of fish is more suitable for his or her lifestyle.

The second part of this article gives a brief description of the more popular varieties of goldfish easily found in the pet shop. It would serve the beginner as a rough guide to which particular goldfish varieties that interest them.

Carp (Goldfish) are one of the friendliness and least territoriality fish among the rest of the pet fish. In order words, one can always introduce a new fish into the tank without having the concern of it been bullied by the ‘older’ fish. This is a lovely advantage when come to goldfish keeping.



Above photo is a fine specimen of a side-view ranchu. The term ‘side-view’ refers to the fish that is groom and care in the way that it reflects its beauty best from the side. Needless to say, this fish is usually kept in the glass tank. Ranchu are possibility the most sought-after variety among the rest of the goldfish varieties.

Ranchu is a goldfish without dorsal fin. Hence the selection of ranchu is very much focus on the back curve. The angel of curve is very depends of personal preference. As long as the angel of curve does not affect the overall swimming, it is consider a good curve. Of course, the curve should be as smooth as possible.

There are many type of head growth available, again it is up to individual liking. Recently, the Thai has created a storm with their ‘buffalo head’ ranchu. As for the tail, it should be short, but strong and well spread open. Looking from the back, it should form a delta shape.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 2

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)


Strictly saying ranchu is from Japan and it is meant for appreciation from the tub or pond. However, due to the new development of ranchu that mentioned above, the term ‘top-view’ has been given to Japanese ranchu to separate the two varieties. Top-view ranchu are by far a more expensive fish.

Although, both are ranchu to begin with, they are two very different fish in term of body form. And the way to appreciate is very different too. The top-view ranchu are slightly longer in body length and has a broader or thicker back to provide an optimum view from the top.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 5

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)



As the name indicated, it was once made popular by the Japanese, however, for the passed years, the Chinese has catch up and improve greatly in term of quality for this particular variety.

The uniqueness of the fish is its back arch or commonly known as the ‘hump’. Thing to look out for is a smooth hump and not overly big, it has to balance with the rest of the body. Ryukin does not have a head growth, hence one should look for a small, sharp pointed head.

As for the tail, Ryukin has three different types of tails, the short tail, mid length tail and the long tail. Long tail Ryukin is very popular in Thailand and back in Singapore, short tail Ryukin is preferred.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 1

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)



Oranda is arguably most popular variety of goldfish beside ranchu. Originally, Oranda was popular for its unique head growth that resembles the lion’s mane. However as time passed by, the fins spread has become a main focus point.

Recently the Thai has developed oranda with tail spread that open up like a flower. It is endearing to see oranda with such beautiful tail spread that flow gracefully in the water like silk. Aside from the tail fin, one should look out for a well erected dorsal fin and pelvic fins. Due to the reason that oranda has long fins, it is a challenge for hobbyists to maintain the fins in perfect condition without causing the fins to fold. Folded and torn fins are unpleasant to the viewing.

Currently in the market there are the giant oranda that can easily grow up to 9 inch and also the new oranda with a around body similar to the Ryukin body shape.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 4

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)



This variety of goldfish has protruding eyes that resemble the mystic Chinese dragon. Hence it is name as Dragon-eye. Dragon eye goldfish is also a representation of China.

Naturally, the focus of this variety is on the eyes. The basic requirement is to seek for a balance eyes (both shape and size). Second point to look out for is a well developed eye. Unfortunately many have misunderstood that the bigger the eyes are the better the fish is. Well developed eyes are eyes that are not too big and the protruding is on the sides of the eyes rather than the entire eyeball. A badly developed eye will go blind in the later stage of the fish life. Hence finding a good pair of eyes is definitely not an easy task.

Aside from its protruding eyes, the fish are able to take care of itself very well. Hobbyists just have to ensure there is no sharp edges in the environment that might injured its eyes.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 3

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)


Like the ranchu, dragon-eye also has an almost identical variety that is meant to be admired from the top. These dragon-eyes have a tail fin that spread out horizontally along the body and form the shape of a butterfly’s wings. Hence the name dragon-eye has been superseded by the new term ‘Butterfly’.

Butterfly looks magnificent from the top. It’s like literally seeing a butterfly swimming in the water. There are many ‘half-developed’ butterfly in the market, this refers to butterfly that have large spread tail of the shape of the butterfly wing, but the genetic structure of the tail bone belong to the ‘soft’ bone. Thus, the fish is constantly struggling to carry its tail. A true butterfly goldfish has a ‘hard’ and strong tail bone (shoulders tail bone) that stretches or dive forwards giving the tail a full spread effect. Even in motion, the tail remains beautiful spread. This is definitely one beauty that has been under appreciated.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 3

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)



This variety of goldfish is considered the newest variety compared to the above mentioned varieties. It is also very well established to a point that such category is set aside for competition. The unique of this fish is on the scale. With high calcium contents, the scale developed into a half cone shape. As a result a gives an impression of tiny pearl set all over the body of the goldfish.

Malaysia is famous for producing the best pearl-scale in the world. Beside the basic requirement that the scale should be neatly arranged, a quality pearl-scale has to have round body like a golf ball! To achieve this, breeder would have to pay extra attention during the younger stage of the fish which is vital to development.

Hobbyists have to ensure that there is no pointed object in the tank that might cause the fish to rub against which resulting the scale to drop off. It would take up 2 to 3 months before a scale can be fully replaced. The good side of pearl-scale is that it does not require a lot of space compared to the rest of the varieties.

The level of maintaining the fish in top condition is 4

(1 being the easiest and 5 being the most attention needed)

One will never get bored of goldfish. Among the three countries China, Thailand and Malaysia, there are more than 1,000 different and unique species. As the development of goldfish continues, there will be more new varieties of goldfish emerging. The popular varieties are readily available to most hobbyists. The stoutness, robustness and gracefulness will never fail to charm the heart of a viewer.

Hope you will enjoy fish keeping.


Steve TONG.

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