Sarasa comets (Carassius auratus) are always eye-catching, with reds that put all but the most highly bred Koi to shame. Whether mixed with contrasting varieties such as Shubunkin or Canary goldfish, or brightening the pond with their crimson and white, it’s hard to find a better pond fish for the average garden pond. You’ll find them in all of our pond sections at the moment.

Asian cichlids are few in number and even more scarce in the hobby, so it was nice to see a batch of Banded green chromide (Etroplus suratensis) at our Lechlade store recently. These Indian natives are similar to Severums in many aspects of their temperament but need hard, alkaline water or even brackish conditions to thrive. Despite being a better choice in those areas blessed with mineral-rich tap water, most people still think you’re referring to the little greeny-blue marine damselfish when you discuss them. Definitely a species that deserves to be more popular.

It’s a familiar tale now, an aquarium fish that we’ve known for decades turns out to be something other than we thought. Take the Tiger barb, which actually turns out to be a few species with subtle differences, some of which can be seen in domesticated strains. Like some lines of the green strain, these new Red-cheeked black tiger barbs have dark pelvic fins, unlike other forms of domestic tiger barbs which have red pelvics that are not seen in wild Puntigrus tetrazona. This means that our aquarium fish are something else and the current thinking is P. anchisporus or possibly a hybrid. This new strain seems to combine an extremely dark form of the green gene with the ‘blushing’ trait that causes transparent gill covers, revealing the bright pink of the gills. In basic terms, their body is covered by one enormous stripe. These youngsters were at our Rutland store and it’ll be interesting to see how they develop.

The Red Sea endemic species of dottyback are fishes full of character. Thanks to their high initial price and ease of care, they were ideal candidates for captive breeding and now tank bred fish are the norm in the hobby. Having kept both wild and captive bred pairs of this species, it’s interesting to see the differences in Sunrise dottyback (Pseudochromis flavivertex) after just a few generations of domestication. Two stand out particularly – wild females were far less colourful and both sexes were far more aggressive than their captive bred kin. This curious specimen was seen at our Huntingdon store and would make a great addition to a reef tank that doesn’t contain any tiny crustaceans.

It’s that time of the year when tender plants are everywhere and for pond keepers, that means Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). Floating plants are a great way to provide shade and mop up excess nutrients during the summer, as well as adding beauty to open-topped aquaria. You’ll find them in pond sections up and down the country and remember that they’ll either need protecting or disposing of when the frosts arrive in autumn.

Beauty isn’t only in the eye of the beholder, sometimes it’s also in the eye of the beheld. They may not have dazzling black and white stripes, yellow fin trims or ornate head gear, but the Blue-eyed redfin plec L137 (Hypostomus soniae) is a beautiful fish that also eats algae. Combine this with a modest adult size and a peaceful disposition and you have a fish that’s a great choice for the larger aquarium. Given plenty of hiding places, it’s possible to keep a few together and the more home bred L numbers the better. This one was one of a batch at our Swindon branch.