South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater

South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater
The South American Blackwater Fish (Copyright: @jim_aquareal On Instagram)

South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater – Besides the clearwater environment in the south part of the American island, Brazil has a blackwater environment called igapo (root forest). These particular environments have brown-colored water that forms from decomposing leaf litter, roots, and woods. Only not many aquatic plants or fish can thrive in these conditions.

A blackwater habitat is not fully dark-colored water, and you can still see something in this environment. This water has huge amounts of dissolved humic substances that make it has tea-colored effects.

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Nowadays, many aquarists set up their tank similarly to blackwater wild habitats in Amazon streams, which gives them more challenges. Creating these projects is a fun challenge and provides natural environments for freshwater critters and fish in the home.

An aquarium blackwater also offers more benefits, especially to wild-caught fish. Their duplicated environments can significantly reduce fish stress levels and increase their morale during the breeding season.

Before you start to build your Amazonian biotope blackwater aquarium, you should know all information about the South American fish varieties and what kind of blackwater habitat they prefer before setting up a tank. Below is a list of tropical South American fish for blackwater aquariums which are originally native to the dark water environments in South American islands.


South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater
An Amazonian Blackwater Tank Setup (Copyright: @aquariodogui On Instagram)

South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater



Symphysodon discus, popularly known as “Discus” or “Pampadour Fish,” is a popular cichlids species for the tropical aquariums from the South American Amazon rivers. Most of them inhabit forest pools which usually have blackwater environments and slow-moving tributaries rather. They are commonly found in the deep areas sheltered with rocks and tree roots. They commonly live in-group/colonies (schooling).

Their body can reach 8-10 inches in length, making them huge schooling fish in home aquaria. S. discus known can live until 10 years. In the optimal aquarium condition, they may live longer. These peaceful fish species have many popular body colors, including reds, green, brown, yellow, and bright blues.

According to their body size, you should need a large tank for keeping them, at least a 50-gallon tank size for 5 fish. You will need $25 to several hundred dollars for each fish, depending on their quality. (Buy Discus Fish On eBay)

Read Also: Asian Popular Freshwater Aquarium Fish Types That Originally Live In Blackwater



The genus Pterophyllum (Angelfish) is one of the best tropical aquarium fish that can survive well in blackwater conditions. Like the discus fish, they also belong to the Cichlidae family. Most angelfish species are found in tropical South American streams, including the Orinoco basin, Amazon basin, and several rivers in the Guiana Shield.

These cichlids fish are known as “Angelfish” because they have fins that refer to wing-like shapes. They can grow up to 6 inches with a lifespan until 10 years. The common colors in aquarium trades include black with 4 dark stripes, silver, and gold.

You will require a 20-gallon aquarium for a couple of angelfish. If you want to keep the schooling form, you need at least an 80-gallon tank size for a small group (around 5-8 fish) of these South American freshwater fish.

The beginner fish keeper can keep these fish because they are not a picky eater and are easy to maintain. They are also suitable for the community tank environment, both of clear or blackwater aquariums. In the fish stores, they commonly sell for around $10. While the breed quality needs a cost of $20 or more depending on their quality and variety. (Buy Angelfish On eBay)

Read Also: COMPLETE Blackwater Fish Tank Setup Guide



Hatchetfish is the best smaller South American fish for a freshwater aquarium that thrive better in a blackwater tank. This is unique based on their triangular profile that is seen like a hatchet. These tropical fish species originate from swamps and rivers in South and Central America.

They also can be found in slow-moving forest streams with clear or tea-colored water, tributaries, headwaters, and pools. There are 9 species with 3 different genera: Thoracocharax (2 species), Gasteropelecus (3 species), Carnegiella (4 species).

South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater
A Spotted Hatchetfish Or Gasteropelecus Maculatus (Copyright: @lawiquarium On Instagram)

Tropical hatchefish can grow up to 1.5 inches or more depending on the variety and life, around 2-6 years. They are typically schooling fish that means you should keep them in the group; six fish is enough to keep in 15 – 20 gallon tank size.

In the wild, they are quickly predators. Almost 90% of their diet is insects. They also are excellent jumping fish where they are capable of flying more than four feet.

Read Also: Sphaerichthys Vaillanti Or Samurai Gourami Is The Uncommon Wild Fish


Neon And Cardinal Tetras

Other small South American Fish popularly used for the home aquarium is Neon and Cardinal Tetras. Both of them are family of Characidae (characin) and are most easier to find on fish stores or online trades. They are mostly found in forest streams and minor tributaries, which typically slow water movement, acidic and brownish-yellowish colored.

These fish only can grow around 2 inches or less. Neon and Cardinal Tetras are known can reach 5 – 8 years of age with optimal aquarium conditions. Their coloration is almost similar where it contains blue, red, and translucent. The distinguishes of them only on color range.

Cardinal and Neon Tetra should be kept in groups to see them display beautiful schooling swim behavior. They tend to live in a large number in the natural habitat; the larger the group, the better you see. You can be housing them in the aquarium at least 20-gallon tank size with at least six fish to create schooling swim behavior.

Both of them are omnivorous, so you don’t worry about their diet. They can easily accept dried food because most captive species normally feed conventional food such as flakes and pellets.

These small blackwater aquarium fish is suitable for beginner aquarium hobbyists. In the aquarium trades, they normally need a cost $1-$2 for each fish. (Buy Neon Tetra On eBay)

Read Also: Licorice Gourami: The Unusual Blackwater Fish



Uaru amphiacanthoides and Uaru fernandezyepezi is origin from the part of the Amazon basin in Northern Guyana and Brazil. The Uaru is a member of large cichlids species that live in whitewater and blackwater streams. Their other names are Panda Uaru and triangle cichlid / Chocolate cichlid / Waroo.

These South American cichlid fish are also made as food by native peoples: now, they can be found in the aquarium trade. Normally they can grow up to 25 cm (9.8 inches) long. They are a large schooling fish type. So, it is not a good idea if you keep a single fish.

South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater
An Adult Uaru Fish (Copyright: @keeping_wild_cichlids On Instagram)

A pair of Uaru fish need a tank at least 55-gallon tank size and 100-gallon tank size for small groups. They tend to prey on some insects, crustaceans, worms in their habitat until some aquatic vegetations. They may readily accept all various food in the home tank, including dried food like fish pellets.

The fish trades commonly cost $20 or more for a healthy single fish, depending on their variety and quality. (Buy Uaru Fish On eBay)

Read Also: Are Axolotls Good Pets For You? It’s A Complete Guide Of Keeping, Feeding, Behavior, Characteristics


Corydoras Species

Corydoras species is the small South American catfish that has become a favorite fish pet for many aquarium addicts globally. These species are often seen in the tank hobby because they are useful bottom-dweller catfish that are easy to maintain and hardy fish.

There are many corydoras varieties found in clearwater or blackwater streams. In the wild, they usually inhabit main and tributary rivers system, ponds, and marshy environments. Their body size ranges from 1 – 4.7 inches (2.5 – 12 cm).

These small tropical catfish species are perfect for keeping in a community tank. They are peaceful fish and can keep in a small group of around 4-6 fish. The 10-gallon tank size is enough to accommodate the small group of them, but the bigger spaces you give, the better they will be.

Almost all the species that are sold in the trades are captive-bred fish. They normally need a cost about $5 for a single fish. But they can be more expensive depending on their variety and quality. (Buy Corydoras Fish On eBay)

Read Also: 10 Good Reason Why You Should Have An Aquarium Fish At Your Home



Apistogramma species is a member of dwarf cichlids fish found in the subtropical and tropical South America region. The most population is known live in the Orinoco basin and Amazon basin. Some populations also can be found in the Guinan Shield and other areas.

South American Fish For Aquarium That Native To Blackwater
Young Apistogramma Macmasteri (Copyright: @apistosa On Instagram)

Generally, they inhabit edges of rivers, lakes, and streams. They tend to prefer sheltered places with a lot of leaf litter, slow-moving water, and a shallow depth. A few species are also found in deeper areas, quick-flowing water, floating plants, and more open places.

The standard length of adult Apistogramma fish variety is 0.8 – 3.5 inches depending on fish varieties. Their lifespan in the aquarium home reaches 3 – 5 years, depending on the maintenance. You need at least a 30-gallon tank size for a single couple of Apistogramma.

You can found them easily in online markets or local fish trades. They usually spend about $20 on a healthy fish, but sometimes get an interesting discount when bought a couple of fish. (Buy Apistogramma On eBay)

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