Cichlids (pronounced ‘Sick-Lids’) are a family of fish from the Order Perciformes. They have a single ‘nostril’ on both sides of the head, a broken lateral line, and cycloid scales. Their anal fin and, in most cases, the dorsal fin contain spines. There are over 1,000 species of Cichlids. Cichlids are highly aggressive and territorial. In the wild, a male will control an area of a few square feet and defend it from encroachment by other male fish. A female will be tolerated in the males territory as long as she is receptive to mating with him; otherwise, she is driven out. In the aquarium, the dominant male will establish territory (usually the entire tank) and attempt to drive out other males and non-receptive females, killing them in the process. It is important to provide many hiding places (caves) and break up the vertical space in the tank with plenty of large rocks (lace rock is a good choice) to minimize aggression. Most enjoy slow moving water (lake-like conditions).

Some common names of cichlids are:
Electric Yellow, Electric Blue, Peacock, Yellow Zebra, Blue Zebra, Red Zebra, Texas Cichlid, Jewel Cichlid, Fire Mouth, Frontosa, Brichardi, Cobalt Blue, Tropheus, Kribs, Kribensis, Oscar, Discus, Ram, Bumble Bee, Convict, Auratus, Jack Dempsy (appropriately named after the famous Boxer), Johanni, Kenyi, Severum.

Anabantids are a family of fish also from the order Perciformes. This family of fish contains a specialized breathing organ that allows them to breathe air directly from the surface of the water. Most anabantids, due to their large fins and tall body structure, are sensitive to water currents and enjoy a well planted tank.

Some common names of anabantids are:
Gold Gourami, Pearl Gourami, Red Gourami, Siamese Fighting Fish, Betta, Paradise Fish.

Catfish are a diverse family of fish from the order Siluriformes. This family of fish does not have scales. Instead, they have either bony plates or very thick skin. Most have barbels to assist in finding food. All have fins that are very spiny to deter predation. Not all catfish are algae eaters; most enjoy a little meat in their diet.

Some common names are:
Pleco, Chinese Algae Eater, Oto Cats, Corydoras.

Characins are a family of fish from the order Characiforms. Most have a rayless adipose fin and teeth.

Some common names are:
Piranha, Neons, Hatchetfish, Darters

Order Cypriniforms
Order Cyprinodontiformes
Most of the “Tropical Fish” sold in your local fish store fall into these Order. They include the families Cyprinidae, Profundulidae, Fundulidae, Cobitidae, Balitoridae, Goodeidae, Aplocheilidae, Cyprinodontidae, Poeciliidae, Anablepidae, and Gyrinocheilidae. Most are shoaling fish and do best in groups of five or more. They are peaceful fish. Most enjoy slow moving water (lake Conditions).

Some common names are:
Rasboras, Minnows, Loaches, Barbs, Carps, Goldfish, Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Killifish, Rainbows, Mollies, Angles, Danio.