Some fish are capable of amazing transformations in display aquaria and the Odessa barb (Pethia padamya) is one of the best. It’s hard to believe that the mostly brown specimens in our stock tanks are capable of showing these dazzling colours but the males in Shirley’s  temperate display are stunners. Given a planted tank and a bit of competition, the males will blaze with colour as they try to impress the females and intimidate their rivals.

Odessa barb

The hard working turbo snails are always popular for algae control in marine tanks and are specialists at grazing microalgae from hard surfaces. If you’ve got a lot of hard surfaces to graze then the biggest of the lot, the Giant turbo (Tectus niloticus) might be the one for you - just bear in mind that these animals are happiest on substrates of rock and glass. This one at Taunton  was being cleaned up by a hermit crab, as they can’t reach they’re own shells.

Giant Turbo

You know I can’t resist a golden oldie and Silvertip tetras (Hasemania nana) have been in the hobby for generations. This batch at Merton  were hinting at the warm colours that give them the alternative name of Copper tetra and displaying the jostling behaviour that makes them a good choice for active communities. As with many shoaling fishes with this type of temperament, it’s important to keep them in good numbers to keep them busy with healthy interactions amongst their own kind.

Silver Tip Tetras

You often see significant differences in levels of aggression between wild fishes and their captive bred counterparts. In the case of Dottybacks, this is a welcome change and it was a pleasure to see a number of Neon Dottybacks (Pseudochromis aldabraensis) sharing stock tanks at Reading  recently. These little reef fish are full of character and charisma but are no pushovers when it comes to territorial disputes with neighbours.

Neon Dottybacks

Malawi cichlid communities aren’t known for their suitability for other types of fish but there’s one that deserves to be kept more widely. Although Tanganyikan, the Cuckoo catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus) is able to thrive and breed alongside angry mouthbooders by using their spiny fins and unique spawning strategy. Adults will drop their eggs for the female cichlids to incubate and brood - young catfish might look delicate but are well armed and independent.

Cuckoo Catfish

Many of the fishes seen in the trade are hybrids and the real McCoy can be hard to find but definitely worth the search. This one at the Basingstoke store shows the characteristics that separate them in the fin patterns, eye colour and iridescent beige base colour.