Community vs One Species Fish Tank – Pros and Cons

They say that having a fish tank at home may bring you luck and prosperity, and we agree that, besides the symbolic, owning an aquarium has health benefits too. Watching fish inside floating slowly is really calming, right?

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In fact, it’s scientifically proven that having an aquarium at home or office can help you relax, boost your morale, and increase productivity. Also, it can be excellent for kids, and it doesn’t require a lot of time for maintenance and cleaning.

If you have already decided on getting a fish tank, the only dilemma is which one to choose – single species or a community fish tank? That’s why we’re here. These are some of the basic information you should know before buying a fish tank:

What Is a Single Species Tank?

The single species tank is a type of aquarium where you can keep only one fish type. Having a tank with a hundred inhabitants and lots of plants is amazing. But, for those who prefer more simplicity, single species tanks are the solution.

We all wanted a goldfish when we were little, and if you are thinking about getting an aquarium, this could be an excellent beginning. They’re not demanding at all, and they can live alone or in a colony. All you need is one small aquarium, approximately 20 gallons, water between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit and an air stone.

These are just basic pieces of equipment you can buy in the nearest pet shop. Adding some greenery and plants inside could be a tricky part. Depending on the character of your goldfish, try finding some plant she won’t destroy. Goldfishes tend to dig all the plants out, but we can advise you to plant java fern, Anubias, or marimo ball.

What Is a Community Fish Tank?

A community fish tank is the complete opposite of a single species tank. It refers to having a tank with various fish species that live in a specially created environment with many plant species too. Usually, it can be challenging for beginners, and it requires previous knowledge so you can determine what species could actually function in a community. 

This might seem intimidating at first, with so many options, it’s indeed hard to start. Let’s try it this way: All you need to reach your goal is a peaceful aquarium full of fishes adequately sized for a planned tank. If you want to add more color, guppy fishes are for you.

They are pretty easy to handle and the only thing to worry about is to always have more females than males. Sometimes they can be a bit aggressive if you let the male fishes take the lead. They all have beautiful fan-tales in rainbow colors, and they are an excellent choice for a community fish tank.

Single Species Tank – Pros and Cons

As we said earlier, you need to know that not every type of fish can live in a community. In fact, many species are functioning better by themselves than in different terms. The most frequently asked question is ‘What are the pros and cons of this aquarium type?’ Let’s dive in.

– Pros

Adapting environment: Having a single species tank enables you to use your imagination and creativity in combination with previous knowledge to make a perfect home for your fish. Reading some books or articles could help you out with the introduction to the needs of different species. For example, angelfish prefer acidic water, so it’s hard to satisfy their needs if living in a community.

Easier Care: When having a single species tank for some time, it’s more likely for you to learn something about a certain fish type. Your experience plays a vital role here, and after a while, you’ll be able to notice even a small change which is much rarer when having a community tank.

– Cons

Boring: Unfortunately, some people avoid this type of aquarium because they consider it boring. Some think that it’s monotonous and too simple for them which is the main disadvantage of a single species tank.

Large Aquarium: While there are many fish species that can live in small aquariums, and make a good choice for one species tank, there are other fish species such as piranhas or other aggressive cichlids, that require large fish tanks. This can be a problem if you don’t have enough space for a huge tank.

Community Tank – Pros and Cons

We can agree on the fact that every type of pet deserves your care and presence. Maybe you can’t pet them, but fishes also require some time. Especially when having a community tank, you should consider.

– Pros

Entertainment: Adding even the smallest aquarium can make a huge difference in your home. It’s cute, dough, and also fun to watch. Sitting and watching different types of colorful fish might lower your stress level and boost your morale. This is the main reason why every office should have at least one aquarium.

Excellent Hobby: If you are not into sport, there is a way you can express your creativity by decorating fish tanks or just dedicating yourself to raising a functional fish community at home.

– Cons

Too Much Information: This could be a big problem, especially for newbies. Sometimes, it’s too much to handle, and we know the feeling when you are overwhelmed with information. Nowadays, many things can be found online, but you’ll surely make numerous mistakes before you learn how to please all the species in the aquarium, which is completely legit.

High Prices: Too many species in a single tank can bring too many secret expenses. Starting with some air stones, filter replacements, many additional plant substrates, and cures for fish diseases, we can only conclude that it’s not for everyone’s wallet. When talking about bigger tanks, food can also be pricey.  

Community Fish Tank Ideas

We mentioned earlier that guppies are excellent for community fish tanks. They are pretty peaceful and don’t require any special care, so they are suitable for living with mollies, platies, and tetras. They are really calm and playful, but they also love tanks full of vegetation.

Just make sure not to combine them with barbs or aggressive tetras, because they actually want to nip their tails and fins.

Neon tetras are also pretty calm and friendly, but also easy prey for the species like goldfishes or jaguar cichlid. Combination of these species can only result in disaster because tetras will surely end up as lunch. Remember that every fish small enough to fit the mouth of the bigger one is the prey.

That’s why we vote for guppies, zebra danios, and dwarf gouramis. All of them are calm and a bit shy, so they love plants like java moss, water sprite, and java fern for hiding.

Here are some ideas and fish species for community fish tanks:

  • Livebearer community tank – can be a great choice for those who love vibrant colors and lots of actions. Guppies, mollies, platies and swordtails can be mixed together and will make a good  setup for community tanks
  • Tetras community tank – mixing different tetra species together is also a good idea. Although different tetra species will not school together, they will bring a lot of movement into your tank
  • True community tank – just put 6 neon tetras, 4 guppies, 4 platies, 4 mollies, 4 corydoras, 4 kuhli loaches, and 6 rasboras in a 55-gallon tank, and voila you have a true community tank with lots of fish species.

The options and ideas are endless, just make sure you choose fish that are compatible, have similar requirements and are peaceful.

Species Only Tank Ideas

Siamese fighting fish or betta fish is maybe one of the most beautiful species. You can find it in every possible color, but their behavior is not acceptable for a community. They can be aggressive and just can’t live with other fishes peacefully.

Putting two males in the same tank will result in the fight, while some females can probably form a small community. They can show signs of depression, so they need caves and a lot of plants.

Jaguar cichlid is an extremely fast fish not suitable for a community. She is more than ready to defend herself and hunt. It may seem like a perfect solution for a colorful aquarium with various species, but believe us, it’s not. Her aggressiveness is obvious and much smaller fish will end up as her food.

It’s territorial and usually loves to have her piece, so don’t even try to keep her with guppies or tetras. Keeping these species is excellent for those who have large aquariums because these fishes can be pretty big, and they can live up to 15 years.

There are fish that can only be kept in a one species tank, however, there are peaceful community fish that can make a good choice for a one species tank. For example, you can make the following one-species tank setup:

  • Tetras only tank – choose a tetra species and house at least 12 fish together. They will form a niche school and will swim together along with your fish tank
  • Angelfish only tank – having only angelfish in your tank can also be very attractive, however, this setup needs a huge tank because you will need to house at least 10 angelfish in order to have that wow effect
  • Livebearers – choose a type of livebearer, such as guppies, platies, mollies or swordtails, and make a one species tank. To avoid inbreeding, make sure you get your fish from different sources and add new fish time-to-time.
  • Piranhas – are also a very popular choice for one species tank, because they can’t live with other fish. Get at least a colony of 6 fish, so they can form a school. This setup requires a large aquarium, which can be a downside.
  • Flowerhorn cichlid – can only be housed alone. This cichlid is very aggressive and often will not get along with its own kind. Breeding them is also difficult, because the male will attack the female, so there is no option just to keep them as one species tank, or solitary fish.
  • Rare fish species – should only be kept in one species tank. If you got your hand on some very rare fish species, you should keep them in a single colony and try to create the perfect environment for them to breed. This way you can 

I could continue this list, but I think you are creative enough to figure it out.


Which one to choose, the question is now? After reading this article, you have surely understood that many factors play a vital role here. It’s obvious that any type of fish tank requires attention and time for maintenance. They depend only on you, so be aware that this is one more thing on a daily to-do list.

Patience is the crucial part and the recipe for success. Food, equipment, plants, substitutes, cures, pumps, caves, and new fishes are some of the regular costs. This hobby can indeed be expensive and it’s not for everyone. It has its ups and downs, like everything in life, but once you start understanding that mysterious world, it’ll be much easier.

On the other hand, when we look from a different angle, what you get is priceless. Not only a new detail in your house but a way to start learning your kids to socialize. Believe it, or not, every fish has its own personality and every single one is unique. They can bring you peace, love, and positive energy.

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