There is no denying that saltwater trumps freshwater when it comes to exotic aquatic life. But that does not mean that freshwater does not have it’s fair share of exotic species. In fact, here is a list of the most exotic freshwater aquarium fish:
The “Axolotl” is the common name for the Ambystoma mexicanum species. Despite its common name Mexican Walking Fish, the Axolotl is not actually a fish, but rather, an amphibian. They originate from several lakes that are in and around Mexico City. These amphibians have several different color morphs and they reach an adult size of 8-12 inches. Extensive research is done on this species due to its regenerative abilities. In the wild, Axolotls are nearing extinction as they are currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Despite being relatively difficult to care for, Axolotls are quite popular among fishkeepers for their exotic appearance. They require a diet with a meaty pellet as the staple and live or frozen foods to provide variety. They can be difficult to keep with other popular freshwater fish, only because they require colder temperatures than most, with their ideal temperature ranging from 60-64°F (16-18°C). They will spend most of their time slowly walking along the bottom of the tank.
The “Hogchoker” is the common name for the Trinectes maculatus species. They are a small flatfish that is also often referred to as the freshwater flounder. They are an abundant species that farmers would feed to their hogs, hence the name Hogchokers.
Their native habitat consists of the muddy shores all along the North American Atlantic coast. They are a bottom dwelling species that is nearly invisible when they bury themselves.
This species thrives in brackish water but they have been successfully kept in freshwater aquariums. In an aquarium they do not do much free swimming, instead they are often found suctioned to ornaments and the glass. They can however, be very difficult to keep. Their tank should include a muddy/sandy substrate. They are also fairly picky eaters, who usually only accept small live foods. If you are able to keep them alive, their unique body shape makes for a nice exotic freshwater fish.
Freshwater Moray Eel
The “Freshwater Moray Eel” is the common name for the Gymnothorax tile species. Other common names for this species include the Indian Mud Moray, Snowflake Eel, and Psychedelic Eel.
They grow to be an average size of 18-24 inches but they have been know grow to be as long as 3 feet. Freshwater Moray Eels are a carnivorous eel that resorts to scavenging dead fish more often than hunting live prey. They also have a very impressive life span, with the average Freshwater Moray living to be 30 years old.
As far as keeping them in a tank goes, they have been known, in some cases, to survive in freshwater although they will thrive in saltier waters. They are without a doubt one of the more exotic freshwater aquarium fish that are available. They will require a large tank given their adult size of 2-3 feet and it is important that you provide them with plenty of hiding places. You will also need to ensure that your tank has a lid as these guys have a reputation for being jumpers.
The “Blue Crayfish” is the common name for the Procambarus alleni species. They are also often mistakenly misnamed the Blue Lobster. Naturally, this crayfish is only found in the rivers of Florida although they have been spread worldwide thanks to its popularity in the fishkeeping hobby.
Males can be distinguished from females thanks to their more elongated claws. There is no doubt that Blue Crayfish add level of exoticness that not many other freshwater species do. They feature a stunning blue that is usually only found in saltwater species.
If you decide to keep them in a tank, they will require lots of space and hiding places. They are a rather aggressive species which is why compatibility is often the biggest challenge when trying to keep them. They will eat just about anything they can get their claws on that is smaller than them but will also get eaten by some fish that are larger than them, like cichlids. They can be kept with members of their own species but you should make an effort to maintain a male to female ratio of 1:1 to avoid over aggression.
“Pleco” is short for plecostomus which is the common name for all of the different species of the loricariid catfish family. They are the largest family of catfish and they are very popular aquarium fish. Some of them even serve as useful algae eaters.
There are several different types of plecos, over 680 in fact. However this number is growing, with new species being found and described every year. They all have different features and characteristics that make them unique. Plecos feature some of the most exotic colors and patterns that can be found in a freshwater aquarium.
The “Ropefish” is the common name for the Erpetoichthys calabaricus species. They are also sometimes referred to as the Reedfish or Snakefish. They are a unique freshwater fish that is native to West and Central Africa. Their eel like body can reach up to 15 inches when fully grown. In the wild, they are known to explore the land, slithering like a snake. Ropefish are a nocturnal species doing most of their exploring/eating at night.
As far as exotic freshwater aquarium fish go, the Ropefish is right up there as being one of the most enjoyable. They are have a unique “personality” and they are relatively peaceful when paired with appropriate tank mates. They do best in small groups of 4 or 5 and should be paired with peaceful community fish that are larger than themselves. Even though they are nocturnal, they can be trained to get in the habit of daytime feedings.
Ocellate River Stingray
The “Ocellate River Stingray” is the common name for the Potamotrygon motoro species. They are also commonly referred to as the Peacock-Eye Stingray or the Motoro Stingray. This freshwater ray is native to basins of the Uruguay and Amazon River. They feature bright spots on their body and they can grow to be 3 feet in length.
As with all rays, it is important that you are aware of the inherent risk that is involved with keeping an Ocellate River Stingray. They contain a venomous barbs on the base of their tails and can pose a risk to humans if not properly cared for. With that being said several people have successfully kept these rays in captivity without any problem. Not only that, but they also require a very large tank. With captive species reaching an average length of 2 feet, a tank of 300 gallons or more is needed for them to thrive. If you are able to overcome some of the difficulties, the Ocellate River Stingray makes for a truly exotic addition to a freshwater aquarium.
Of course, you can’t talk about exotic freshwater aquarium fish without mentioning Cichlids. With over 1500 species, they are the largest family of aquarium fish. Different cichlids feature vibrant colors including: blue, green, red, orange, yellow…the list goes on!
Although, They are not only known for there exotic colors. They also have a reputation for being some of the most aggressive fish that freshwater has to offer. With that being said there are some cichlids that are known for being less aggresive.
Before you go:
- Read our Resources and Tools & Guides to further your fishkeeping knowledge.
- Learn about Land Of Fish.
- Leave a comment.
- Connect with us on YouTube and Facebook.
- Check out the Site Map, if you’re lost.
- Read our Disclaimer.
- Email Us, if you need to.