Keeping fish is a popular hobby, due in part to the widespread belief that aquariums and fish are easy and inexpensive to maintain. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Setting up the appropriate aquarium ecosystem for any fish can be challenging, but more so for tropical fish. Whether saltwater or freshwater, tropical fish have unique needs that must be addressed in order for them to stay happy and healthy. On top of that, many hobbyists make a lot of costly mistakes when they get into the hobby, leading to plenty of frustration and wasted time.
If you want to start an aquarium off right, a beginner guidebook is essential. Plenty of fish and aquarium care books are on the market, but the best ones offer comprehensive guides to aquarium setups and equipment, fish selection and care, and ongoing maintenance. Take a look at the 9 best tropical fish books for beginners to set yourself up for success.
A Quick Look at Our Favorite Picks in 2023
|Best Overall||Aquascaping: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planting, Styling||
|Best Value||An A to Z Guidebook on Freshwater Aquariums & Betta Fish||
|Premium Choice||A Practical Guide to Tropical Aquarium Fish||
|Best for Young Hobbyists||Freshwater Tropical Fish: A Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Pet Fish||
|Your New Saltwater Aquarium: A Step By Step Guide||
The 9 Best Tropical Fish Books
1. Aquascaping: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planting, Styling, and Maintaining Beautiful Aquariums – Best Overall
|Print Length:||200 pages|
This in-depth guide to aquascaping, the art of creating beautiful, naturalistic aquariums, is the best overall tropical fish book for beginners and the ideal starter guide for keeping tropical fish and a marine aquarium. The book includes step-by-step instructions on setting up a tank, tips on styling, guides to selecting appropriate plants, décor, and animals, and information on maintenance. With information on the chemistry and biology necessary for keeping a healthy aquarium, you’ll have an excellent foundation for learning and growing your aquarium and fish collection.
In addition to comprehensive guides and full-color photographs to help beginners, Aquascaping is a suitable guide for intermediate and advanced aquarists. You can use the information to develop more elaborate aquariums and keep more delicate species as your hobby grows.
2. An A to Z Guidebook on Freshwater Aquariums & Betta Fish: A Simple Guide to Creating and Keeping – Best Value
|Print Length:||82 pages|
This A to Z Guidebook on Freshwater Aquariums & Betta Fish is the best book on tropical fish for beginners for the money. You’ll find plenty of information about the necessary and optional components of your aquarium, proper aquarium setup, and information on buying healthy, hardy fish. Along with information about proper setup, this book includes guides for choosing the right aquarium mates by species and aquarium size, feeding fish, and preventing illnesses.
One of the best features of the guidebook is a guide to common mistakes and how to avoid them, which can help a new aquarist save time, money, and frustration. You can purchase an inexpensive paperback, but Kindle Unlimited subscribers can access the book for free.
3. A Practical Guide to Tropical Aquarium Fish: A Fully Illustrated Introduction to All Aspects of Keeping Tropical Freshwater and Marine Fishes in the Aquarium – Premium Choice
|Print Length:||124 pages|
A Practical Guide to Tropical Aquarium Fish has all you need for getting started with tropical freshwater and marine fish in an aquarium. Complete with full illustrations, the book is packed with useful information about aquarium setup and maintenance, keeping various tropical species, and expanding your collection. Few books cover all the aspects of tropical aquarium fish, making this an essential book for aquarists.
With its all-in-one approach, it is suitable for children and adults alike. Though an industry staple, this guidebook is from 1996 and may contain some outdated information about trends and developments in the aquarium industry. The hardcover can be expensive, but you can save by buying a used paperback format.
4. Freshwater Tropical Fish: A Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Pet Fish – Best for Young Hobbyists
|Print Length:||20 pages|
This beginner’s guide to tropical fish is the perfect companion book for young hobbyists. The guide features “quick-glance” information about popular tropical fish species from all over the world, complete with ideal parameters like food preferences, size, and water temperature preferences.
Freshwater Tropical Fish includes information on hundreds of fish species and approachable writing to help younger readers learn and develop their hobbies. Because it focuses on tropical fish species, this book is a great choice as a companion to guides for setting up and maintaining aquariums. Adults and intermediate-to-advanced hobbyists may find the information too limited.
5. Your New Saltwater Aquarium: A Step By Step Guide to Creating and Keeping a Stunning Saltwater Aquarium
|Print Length:||296 pages|
If you want to start a saltwater aquarium with tropical species, Your New Saltwater Aquarium is the best choice for a beginner. It’s written by an aquarist with nearly 30 years of experience and offers guides on two popular types of saltwater setups with step-by-step assembly instructions. You’ll also find information on the proper equipment for your aquarium, hardy and compatible saltwater fish and invertebrate species, and quarantine and introduction procedures.
The expert advice in this book makes it an excellent resource for beginner and intermediate aquarists, but only for saltwater aquariums. If you’re planning to set up a freshwater aquarium, it’s not an appropriate choice.
6. Freshwater Aquariums Blueprint: A NO-Nonsense Step-by-Step Guide to Freshwater Aquariums for Complete Beginners
|Print Length:||89 pages|
|Format:||Kindle, hardcover, paperback|
If you want to start a freshwater tropical aquarium, Freshwater Aquariums Blueprint has all you need to get started and keep healthy fish. This book covers all the essential information for your planning, including tips on finding the best location, aquarium components, choosing an aquarium stand, and considerations before taking on the hobby. You’ll also find a ton of information about choosing the best fish, plants, and lighting, how to maintain your aquarium, and how to keep your fish healthy.
One of the greatest benefits of this guidebook is that it’s written for absolute beginners. Every detail is covered to help you get started properly without costly and time-consuming mistakes. This book is exclusive to freshwater tropical aquariums, however, and doesn’t include information on saltwater aquariums.
7. Everything on Freshwater Aquariums & Betta Fish: Set Up Your Tank & Learn to Make Your Fish Thrive
|Print Length:||82 pages|
Whether you want a full aquarium of freshwater tropical fish or you prefer the simple and beautiful betta fish, Everything on Freshwater Aquariums & Betta Fish is for you. This essential guidebook includes all the necessary and optional aspects of setting up your aquarium, buying the right fish, and how to feed and care for your fish.
It goes a step beyond most aquarium guidebooks and includes a lot of information on preventing and treating fish illnesses, cleaning your aquarium, how to feed your fish, and which fish are compatible. You’ll find plenty of information on keeping bettas, a popular but solitary species if you prefer the simplicity of maintaining one fish in an aquarium.
8. Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies
|Print Length:||352 pages|
Saltwater aquariums can be challenging, especially for beginners. Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies covers all the information you need for a thriving saltwater aquarium with marine fish and invertebrates. You’ll find information about aquarium setup and best practices, maintenance, and how to care for marine fish and invertebrates. If you want a luxury tank, this guidebook has plenty of information about trends and options for luxury tank setups.
Though this book has been on the market for a while, it’s continuously updated to include new information and developments in the industry. As a bonus, you’ll find facts about popular marine fish and their heating, lighting, filtration, and dietary needs.
9. Saltwater Fish and Reef Tanks: From Beginner to Expert
|Print Length:||352 pages|
Saltwater Fish and Reef Tanks is a great choice for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. Written by a long-time reef enthusiast and aquarist, this book provides a blueprint for setting up, maintaining, and caring for your aquarium, fish, corals, and invertebrates. The book is designed for beginners but includes plenty of information on more advanced species and aquarium setups. When you’re ready to expand your setup, you’ll have the information you need.
As a bonus, it includes tables for maintenance logs, testing logs, and aquarium cost calculations that can be copied and used for your own records. You’ll also find information on water parameters, cycling, choosing equipment, picking healthy fish and coral, and responsible reef-keeping. It’s worth noting that this book is only appropriate for saltwater aquariums, not freshwater.
Buyers Guide – How to Choose the Right Tropical Fish Book
Aquariums can be an expensive and time-consuming hobby, and it’s best to choose the right book to guide you with your aquarium setup and stocking. Here are some things to look for:
Anyone can write a book. When you’re shopping around for aquarium books, be sure to check the credentials of the author to see the qualifications they have to offer advice and information on keeping fish. Not every author needs to have advanced education on aquariums and fish, but long-time hobbyists and professional aquarists are more likely to provide solid, reliable information.
Plenty of aquarium and tropical fish books are on the market, but some are geared toward advanced aquarists. Building a strong foundation is vital to a long and enjoyable aquarium hobby, and it’s important to look for books with information for beginners. Starting out with more advanced aquarium setups and fish species will only set you up for frustration and unnecessary expenses.
Like other industries, the aquarium and pet fish industries have trends and developments that improve the hobby. Look for books that have been published or updated in recent years, especially if you’re looking for tips and buying guides for aquarium components. That said, if you find a solid beginner guidebook that’s outdated, you can supplement it with newer companion books on tropical fish species or a subscription to a reputable aquarium magazine for hobbyists.
Setting up an aquarium with tropical fish can be a challenge, but not when you start with the best information. Aquascaping: A Step-By-Step Guide to Planting, Styling, and Maintaining Beautiful Aquariums is the best overall choice for learning about tropical fish and setting up and maintaining a healthy aquarium. The best bang for your buck is An A to Z Guidebook on Freshwater Aquariums & Betta Fish: A Simple Guide to Creating and Keeping, which offers comprehensive information at a bargain to get you started.
- You might be interested: 8 Best Betta Fish Books – Reviews & Top Picks