Aquaria Information from



   Characoldei is the largest and most diverse family of fishes kept in the aquarium. This family includes the neon tetra, one of the most popular of all aquarium fishes. Also included is the fierce Exodon, as well as the peaceful hatchet fishes and pencil fishes. 

   All characoldei have teeth, even the neon tetra, and the numbers and shapes of these teeth help with classification. Other shared traits include prominent scales on the body with an unscaled head, no whiskers or barbels, and most have a rayless adipose fin on their back between the dorsal and tail (caudal) fin. The characolds are native to Africa, Mexico, Central and South America. The diversity in body shape is great, with some being carp-like (Congo tetra), some disc-like (silver dollars), while others are torpedo-shaped (anostomus and pink tailed chalceus). 

   All characoldei are egg layers, scattering their eggs into clumps of plants. Males tend to be more brightly colored at spawning time, with longer fins than the plump females that are filled with eggs. None are dutiful parents, consuming the eggs as quickly as they spawn. 

 Characoids will eat a large variety of food. Many of the prepared foods on the market will maintain them in excellent condition. Live foods like brine shrimp and tubifex worms are a must to bring them into spawning condition. Characoids are fast feeders, but you should never feed them more than they can consume in 2 or 3 minutes. It's far healthier to feed them smaller amounts more frequently. Remember: uneaten food easily pollutes an aquarium, and no filter can solve an overfeeding problem. 

   Characoids are schooling fish, so never tank them singularly. They will not thrive or reach their full potential in an aquarium without members of their own species. Groups of four or preferably six are recommended. 

   The characoids are always in demand because of their brilliant coloration, diversity of shape, and undemanding ways, and the fact that they can live in groups without conflict. There are over 60 varieties of tetras and their kin. Ask your dealer for some of the more unusual or less common varieties. These can add interest to your aquarium, and might just be the fish you've been looking for!


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