Often the best choice of aquatic pets for a small aquarium aren’t fish. Easier to keep than goldfish and far more suitable for tiny tanks, Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda) make great pets. These dazzlingly bright animals are even bright under flattering lighting, such as these at our Mere Park store.

There’s never been a wider selection of tropical species available but it’s still nice to see an old favourite, especially when they become something of a rarity. They might be brown but what the Dwarf giraffe catfish (Notoglanidium macrostoma lacks in colour, they make up for in character and interest. That mouth that’s so efficient at grubbing through the substrate can also hoover up small fish at night, so make sure that all of this otherwise peaceful fish’s tankmates are suitably sized. This batch of fish were one of a few highlights of a recent trip to Basingstoke.

Dwarf giraffe catfish (Notoglanidium macrostoma) - Basingstoke store

Marine fish are obliged to be colourful, glamorous and intelligent. It’s in some contract somewhere, otherwise why would you keep them? One fish that delivers on all counts is the Harlequin Tuskfish (Choerodon fasciatus), a very clever wrasse that makes a great pet and enjoys interacting with its keeper. Bright blue teeth complete the package and allow it to process hard-shelled invertebrates. This one was watching me from the tanks at our Weybridge store.

Harlequin Tuskfish (Choerodon fasciatus) - Weybridge store

As well as the familiar gouramis, the labyrinth family contains slightly more heavyweight members that are rarely imported. One such species is the Javan Combtail (Belontia hasselti) which has beautifully marked finnage reminiscent of a Pearl gourami but a temperament more like a cichlid. Of course, this fish was remarkable in that it was far less colourful than most of Belfast’s livestock but there’s a lot to be said for quietly beautiful fishes that are a bit grumpy.

Javan Combtail (Belontia hasselti) at Belfast store

Sometimes I’m drawn to take photos of attractive fish behind scratched glass and it’s hard to resist the charms of courting female Kribs (Pelvicachromis pulcher) such as these two that were slugging it out at Lisburn. These dwarf cichlids have long been kept alongside community fishes but need an aquarium that allows for their territorial nature, as they will exclude all other fish from the vicinity of their spawning cave when breeding. Given sufficient room, they’re a fascinating addition to an uncrowded community.

Kribs (Pelvicachromis pulcher) at Lisburn