So I’m choosing my fish. I’m aiming to have a small community of perhaps two different types of fish that like to hang out in groups, and maybe one or two loners for variety. My fish must be fairly peaceful and compatible so that they will get along without eating each other or stressing one another out. They must be small, because I don’t have a very big tank. My first fish must be hardy and in an ideal world one that doesn’t need too many friends: you can only introduce fish *very* slowly to a new tank – unless you want them to die of ammonia poisoning, which I don’t. It would be nice if they were pretty, but that isn’t the main thing.

You wouldn’t think this was hard, would you?

The trouble is, every time I settle upon a fish, I find something out about it that doesn’t fit. For example, I fall in love with the reclusive Kuhli loach, only to find that they are not much cop as starter fish and that they like something nice to burrow in – assuredly not big lumps of gravel. Bum.

Kuhli Loach

Now that I’m starting to look for a hardy fish that will suit my tank, the choices suddenly narrow enormously… I settle on silver tip tetras, assured that they are happy in groups as small as four, that they are small, very hardy and dead easy for the other fish to get along with – an ideal starter fish, perfect for beginners, an amazing little community citizen.

Silver Tip Tetra

Only then the conflicting information starts to come in. Some say their silver tips bullied the ickle fish, and certain dealers recommend that you only mix silver tips with larger tetra species because they frighten the small ones. Sometimes, apparently, they even turn on one another. Others recommend that you never have a group of less than six, or they get sad and grumpy. Buggrit.

What about a nice cherry barb? These are not shoaling fish, and don’t get lonely, although they will often play happily with other fish. They are far more peaceful than most barbs, especially that nippy little tiger barb – hardy, great for beginners, eat anything, they even breed, if you can stop them from eating the littl’uns. Great!

Cherry Barb

But yet again, with the conflicting information. Some say they are aggressive, that they are fin-nippers, that they are more needy, that they don’t mix well with certain other fish, that they aren’t great for beginners. Even such simple things as what kind of water or what temperature they like varies according to where you look!

It’s infuriating!

But tomorrow is F-day, and we’re getting fish, come what may. It looks as though we’ll just have to pick a fish that at least some people say might be suitable, and hope for the best. Oh dear.