How to Make Your Aquarium Fish Happier with Their Fish Tanks. A thriving Discus fish aquarium utilizing aquascaping based on the native origins of the fish that live in the tank.

How to Make Your Aquarium Fish Happier with Their Fish Tanks

How to Make Your Aquarium Fish Happier with Their Fish Tanks

Yes. Your fish can be happier. And you have the power because they have lateral lines. Their entire body, head to tail, is sensitive to vibrations in their water world. Waves bouncing off their aquarium walls may be a stressor. Skin illness could blind them to their environment. We consider lateral lines of fish their sixth sense. It’s a big deal to understand they have a big awareness. Pressure, movement, and waves send information through specialized nerves to their brain. This begs the question, is your fish getting good vibes, or bad vibes from his tank?

Keeping a fish in an aquarium that simulates what their lateral lines are looking for is the difference between living in a house filled with comforting natural light and a hall closet shut tight.

Where do you understand what your fish’s lateral lines are looking for to be happy? Know your fish. Consider the top three freshwater aquarium fish. Zebra fish are happiest with an area of moving water. Their lateral lines need it to be happy.

How to Make Your Aquarium Fish Happier with Their Fish Tanks. Small aquarium zebra fish swimming alone waiting for his aquascaping to add some happy to his tank.


Betta fish prefer slow moving if not stagnant water. Their natural environment in the wilds of Asia are shallow rice paddies, slow-moving ponds, and streams.

How to Make Your Aquarium Fish Happier with Their Fish Tanks. Betta fish photo by Ondosan Sinaga from


Guppy fish come in 300 different forms found in rivers throughout South America. They are adaptable to fresh or brackish waters. Guppies are Gumby.

How to Make Your Aquarium Fish Happier with Their Fish Tanks. Fancy male guppy swimming in a bouquet of healthy water plants resting alone.


But keeping a Betta splendid in flowing water makes for a struggling over stimulated fish whose lateral lines seek peace. Zebra fish are Danio rerio. Their origins are rivers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Your Zebra would prefer what your Betta cannot stand. Where a fish lives in the wild defines their lateral lines.

For happy aquarium fish, replicate their natural environment.

  • Start with water movement. Your filtering system will need to match the flow they naturally seek. Adjustable flow pumps are the way to go, no matter what type you purchase.
  • Feeding. Flakes are fabulous, but there aren’t any prey flakes in the wild. Consider origin foods rather than just processed flakes. Bugs, river fishtubeworms, and bloodworms.
  • Plants. If origin plants aren’t available, for whatever reason, consider aquarium plants that mimic growth patterns and density of your fish’s native water plants. Plant against the interior walls of your aquarium to minimize the wave action bouncing off the glass. This will make every aquarium fish happier. Aquascape your fish happier.
  • The proper aquarium. Lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, and bays are not square. Consider aquariums that are not four straight walls. Curved glass reduces sharp angle wave echoes. No matter the shape, buy the biggest you can afford. Pro Tip: Bigger aquariums are easier to maintain than small tanks. Particularly with saltwater aquariums.
  • Habits. Betas live among other fish, and when the territory is large enough, two males can live in the same aquarium without incident. Consider how your fish live in their environment in the wild. There’s more to a fish’s life than a cave.
  • Light. Fish need dark rest just as much as a human. Connect your aquarium lighting to timers set to sunrise and sunset. Plants also need dark rest. Light pollution is a thing for aquariums just as it is for any environment.
  • Vibrations and noise. Make sure pumps and equipment do not vibrate your fish aquarium. Consider what you’ll be doing in the room where their tank will be located. Having an aquarium in a room of guitars and amps is not a good idea. Bedrooms, studies, reading rooms, and low-tech rooms are best.
  • Room placement. If you can see in, they can see out. Place their setup away from busy doors. Surprise ins and outs of shadows carrying vibrations and voices is off-putting. The fewer surprises, the better.

Fish can feel. If fish can feel, they can feel stress or no stress. We can remove stress for a relaxed happy fish. Fish can recognize their people. Fish thrive, and fish feel pain. Fish can get depressed. It’s not rocket science, but it is animal science. Zoology, actually. Ichthyology, specifically.

You can’t argue with good ichthyology.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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