Details of all species referred to in these Fish Care Sheets can be found in the FBAS Booklet No 6 - National Show Fish Sizes. Click HERE for information.
Genera: Very many different genera.
Geographic Origin: South America, Africa.
Common Names: Piranha, Pacu, Penguin Fish, Headstanders etc.
Compatibility: Many of the characins cannot be kept with other species
(Carnivores). Others present no problems.
Always thoroughly research the fish you intend to buy or you
may find that the other inhabitants of the tank are no longer
swimming in the aquarium!
Minimum Aquarium Size: The smaller characins can be kept in a 600 x 300 x
300mm (24" x 12" x12") aquarium.
The larger fish such as the Pacu cangrow very large
and will require a tank of at least 1800 x 600 x
600mm (72" x 24" x 24") to accommodate it
Temperature: Most fish are happy with temperatures between
Habitat: Some characins are also herbivores so a planted tank will be rapidly
stripped bare. Habitat should form part of your prior research.
Water Parameters: Generally these fish come from waters that are soft and
acid. However it is not generally a problem to change them
over to hard alkaline water. This is usually accomplished in
the shop prior to purchase.
Health: Apart from White Spot, they do not have any particular problems
provided the aquarium water is kept clean and clear. They benefit
from a water change of approx 25% weekly.
Diet: The carnivores can usually be persuaded to accept beef heart, prawns or
strips of fish. The feeding of live fish is not acceptable.
Others readily consume lettuce, spinach etc. Yet others will eat all
forms of dried, frozen or live food such as Daphnia.
Plants: See above - Habitat. Those fish that are not herbivores will enjoy
a well planted aquarium.
Breeding Notes : All are egg-scatterers and some means of trapping the eggs
and preventing the adults from eating them should be used.
Fertilised eggs may be adversely affected by wrong water
conditions and/or exposure to light.
Larger Characins may not have been spawned in aquariums.
Availability: Many Characins are readily available. Remember to check prior
to purchase its eating habits and how big it may grow!
Inspect carefully for signs of disease. Reject fish that are
lethargic, damaged or hollow bellied.
Show Class: FBAS Show Class C.
© FBAS 2002. PWC/RDE. Fish Care Sheet 5 1/1