5 Federation of British Aquatic Societies
Designed around upon the FBAS comprehensive list of commonly-kept species, these Care Sheets are categorised as those found in FBAS Show Classes.

Details of all species referred to in these Fish Care Sheets can be found in the FBAS Booklet No 6 - National Show Fish Sizes. Click HERE for information.


                                     Characins             01/02/2002

Genera: Very many different genera.

Family: Characidae

Geographic Origin: South America, Africa.

Common Names: Piranha, Pacu, Penguin Fish, Headstanders etc.

Compatibility: Many of the characins cannot be kept with other species
                      (Carnivores). Others present no problems.
                      Always thoroughly research the fish you intend to buy or you
                      may find that the other inhabitants of the tank are no longer
                      swimming in the aquarium!

Minimum Aquarium Size: The smaller characins can be kept in a 600 x 300 x
                                      300mm (24" x 12" x12") aquarium.
                                      The larger fish such as the Pacu cangrow very large
                                      and will require a tank of at least 1800 x 600 x
                                      600mm (72" x 24" x 24") to accommodate it

Temperature: Most fish are happy with temperatures between
                     20o/28oC 70o/82oF.

Habitat: Some characins are also herbivores so a planted tank will be rapidly
              stripped bare. Habitat should form part of your prior research.

Water Parameters: Generally these fish come from waters that are soft and
                             acid. However it is not generally a problem to change them
                             over to hard alkaline water. This is usually accomplished in
                             the shop prior to purchase.

Health: Apart from White Spot, they do not have any particular problems
            provided the aquarium water is kept clean and clear. They benefit
            from a water change of approx 25% weekly.

Diet: The carnivores can usually be persuaded to accept beef heart, prawns or
         strips of fish. The feeding of live fish is not acceptable.
         Others readily consume lettuce, spinach etc. Yet others will eat all
         forms of dried, frozen or live food such as Daphnia.

Plants: See above - Habitat. Those fish that are not herbivores will enjoy
           a well planted aquarium.

Breeding Notes : All are egg-scatterers and some means of trapping the eggs
                          and preventing the adults from eating them should be used.
                          Fertilised eggs may be adversely affected by wrong water
                          conditions and/or exposure to light.
                          Larger Characins may not have been spawned in aquariums.

Availability: Many Characins are readily available. Remember to check prior
                   to purchase its eating habits and how big it may grow!
                   Inspect carefully for signs of disease. Reject fish that are
                   lethargic, damaged or hollow bellied.

Show Class: FBAS Show Class C.

© FBAS 2002. PWC/RDE.                             Fish Care Sheet 5 1/1

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Last updated October 2016