Choosing the Ideal Centerpiece Fish for Your 75-Gallon Tank: A Discussion with an Aquarium Enthusiast

Estimated read time 16 min read

When it comes to creating a captivating aquarium, selecting the perfect centerpiece fish is paramount.

In a recent conversation with an expert from Tropical Fish Care Guides, we explored some excellent options for a 75-gallon planted cichlid/community tank.

Let’s delve into our chat and discover the top contenders for this essential role.

The Quest for the Ultimate Centerpiece:

In our discussion, the expert mentioned that an aquarium enthusiast was on the lookout for a remarkable fish that met specific criteria:

  1. It must not have a penchant for feasting on plants.
  2. Ideally, it should reach a size of approximately 8 inches.
  3. Compatibility with other gentle cichlids and schooling fish is a must.
  4. The fish should be comfortable living alone.

Suggestion 1: The Severum

One of the initial recommendations that arose was the Severum.

It’s a visually stunning fish that fits the size requirement. Nevertheless, there were concerns about its appetite for plants.

Suggestion 2: The Angelic Angelfish

The expert proposed Angelfish as a top choice. These fish are renowned for their peaceful nature and are frequently favored for planted tanks.

Their graceful appearance makes them an exceptional centerpiece.

Contemplating the Pearl Gourami

While considering Angelfish, the expert also suggested the Pearl Gourami. These fish, particularly the males, exhibit striking colors.

They are known for their serene temperament and thrive in planted tanks. It’s a superb choice for those seeking a centerpiece with a touch of elegance.

Other Worthy Suggestions:

  • Flagtail Prochilodus: These are intriguing but can exceed the 8-inch size limit.
  • Threadfin Acara: A captivating option, although availability might pose a challenge.
  • Discus: While Discus can thrive solo in a planted tank, they require meticulous care and maintenance.
  • Snakeskin Gourami: While distinct in appearance, they may not be as vibrant as some other choices.

Customizing the Stocking List:

As the discussion continued, the aquarium enthusiast contemplated adjusting the stocking list to create a more aggressive planted tank. The revised list included pairs of Kribensis, Sajicas, Rainbow Cichlids, and Threadfin Acara, along with a lone EBJD. Additionally, the plan involved introducing Pearl Gourami and Snakeskin Gourami for added diversity. For schooling fish, Tiger Barbs, Giant Danios, and Columbian Tetras were considered. Bristlenose Plecos were among the bottom feeders in the mix.

Final Reflections:

Selecting a centerpiece fish for your aquarium can be an exciting journey. While exploring various options with an aquarium expert, the key takeaway is to carefully assess the fish’s compatibility, size, and dietary habits. Whether you opt for Angelfish for their grace or Pearl Gouramis for their stunning hues, there exists a perfect centerpiece fish to transform your 75-gallon tank into a true work of art.

Next we’ll dive deeper into this post, we’ll share a few Centerpiece Fish for a 75 Gallon Tank that will be sure to create an awesome community tank.

A 75-gallon is a reasonably large tank. If set up correctly, it looks grand in small bedrooms and living rooms, and it’s appropriately proportioned for large halls and commercial setups.

But its placement options are secondary. Its primary merit is that it allows your fish a lot of room to swim about.

The typical dimensions for a tank with that capacity are 48″ x 18″ x 21″. It weighs about 850 lbs when it is filled with water. That’s quite a weight, so make sure the tank stand is up to the task.

Some Equipment For Your 75 Gallon Fish Tank

With a 75-gallon, more people prefer to go with brightly colored and relatively larger saltwater fish. However, there is also a wide variety of tropical freshwater fish available to choose from.

While most of them require a tank even larger than the 75-gallon, there are still plenty of options available for this size of tank.

As a larger tank, a 75 gallon offers you a wide variety of stocking ideas. You can house one (or a pair) of large centerpiece fish with one or two schools of active smaller fish like Tetras or mollies.

Or you can go for a reef-tank.

With a 75-gallon, you can try many configurations you couldn’t have with a smaller tank.

Centerpiece Fish That Look Awesome

As a large tank with a lot of open space, a 75-gallon can accommodate even the more “feistier” of fish.

It has enough room that even if you throw in a couple of bossy little fish together, that would have stressed each other to death in a smaller tank, they can live relatively more peacefully in the 75. Each bossy fish can claim its little territory and region.

Some of the fish that deserve the spotlight in your 75-gallon are:

1. Rainbow Shark

Don’t worry; it’s only half as violent as the name suggests (semi-aggressive).

  • Care level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Size: 6 inches (Many species stay around 6 inches)
  • Temperature range: 72 – 80 °F (Ideally, maintain the temp somewhere between 75 – 78 °F)
  • PH range: 6.5 to 7.5 (soft to medium hardness)
  • Social Behavior: Ideally alone, or at least in a group of five (all similar-sized)
  • Tank size: 50-Gallon minimum / 75-gallon is a good size

This down-to-substrate (bottom-dwelling) aquarium shark hails from Thailand. They aren’t real sharks, but if you put them in with one of their own or other sharks like red-tail or Bala, you would see similar predatory behavior. Cichlids and catfish are also bad tank mate choices.

Rainbow shark, or more accurately, red-fin shark have long slender bodies, black to grey. They have a forked tail, and all their fins are transparent with a red hue, which stands out quite strikingly against their dim colored bodies. These sharks are territorial, bottom-dwelling, and very active. A planted aquarium is ideal for it, primarily because other fish will need places to hide. They prefer sandy substrate that mimics their natural habitat, and a steady flow in the water.

Rainbow sharks prefer to dine two, three times a day. They will eat almost everything you throw in their (maybe the throwing hand as well), but pallets and flakes should be sinking, not floating. As for tank mates, they accommodate best with barbs. Danios and gouramis are also good tank mate choices. Fish that are similar-sized as the sharks, can fend for themselves, and don’t dwell near the bottom should be fine.

2. Blue Dolphin Cichlid

Psd. blue dolphin
You don’t have to stick with sharks only; you can have dolphins as well.

  • Care level: intermediate
  • Size: 8 to 10 inches
  • Temperature range: 73 – 82°F (75 – 79 °F ideal)
  • PH range: 7.2 to 8.8 (Moderately hardy: 10 to 18 dGH)
  • Social Behavior: Shoaling fish, keep one male with at least three female
  • Tank size: 75-gallon minimum

These strikingly blue exotic fish come from Lake Malawi in Africa. It’s also called the Blue Moorii Cichlid. The dolphin name comes from the prominent hump it develops on its head. It’s more pronounced in adults than in juveniles. It’s a relatively peaceful fish; just don’t like males of its species.

The blue dolphin prefers high alkalinity, and can even thrive in a brackish tank with 10% salinity. It also prefers strong currents in the water. The ideal substrate is saltwater sand, but normal sand will do fine as well. It doesn’t care for a planted tree, and more interested in a lot of swimming space. So you can decorate the tank with a few rocks, minimal plants, and some wood.

The blue dolphin cichlid is a carnivore in nature, so it will thrive on live feed (but your wallet won’t). Frozen feed or protein-rich pallets or flakes will also do. Don’t try to feed them live feed derived from other sources (beef or mutton) as it can lead to diseases.

It’s a relatively peaceful fish by nature. It can be housed with peacock cichlids, some peaceful large haps, Frontosa, a few catfish species, and other cichlids from lake Malawi. Other smaller fish might be regarded as food, and the blue dolphin might “peacefully” eat them.

3. Copperband Butterfly

Copperband Fish - Dallas World Aquarium - Dallas, TX
The butterfly is a beautiful family of saltwater fish, and Copperband is a fantastic choice for a 75-gallon saltwater tank.

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Size: 7 to 8 inches
  • Temperature range: 73 – 81 °F
  • PH range: 8.1 to 8.4 (Moderately hard water, nothing more than 12 dGH)
  • Social Behavior: Single or pair
  • Tank size: 75-gallon minimum for one fish, ideally 125-gallon for a pair

Copperband butterfly has a flat, disc-like body (though not as round as discus fish). It’s like dissected oval, with the back caved in, and a small, rounded tail fin. The mouth is long and protruding. The base is silvery-white, with usually four pronounced orange to copper-colored lines. One of them goes over the eye. There is also a circular black dot on the top back half of the body and a black stripe at the base of the tail. It’s beautiful and relatively unique (compared to many freshwater species) shape and color, and solitary disposition makes it a perfect candidate for a centerpiece fish.

As a carnivore, they might prove expensive dinner guests. Some might not take directly to aquarium live feed, so you have to leave worms in rock crevices or blacked mussels with cracked shells, to make them feel like they are back at home. They need coral and rocks with holes big enough to hide in (that’s quite a size since the fish can get as big as 8 inches). They are generally not recommended for reef tanks.

It’s usually peaceful and successfully housed with flame angelfish, tangs, clownfish, and dartfish.

4. Clown Loaches

My clown loaches
Not remotely as funny as the name sounds (nor as scary for kids).

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Size: 12 inches max
  • Temperature range: 75 – 85 °F
  • PH range: 6 to 7.5 (soft to moderately hard)
  • Social Behavior: Group of around four (at least keep a pair)
  • Tank size: 75-gallon minimum

Clown loaches are very playful fish with a lot of character. Once they get comfortable in the tank, you may find watching them a blissful activity. The come from the Asian waters of Malaysia and Indonesia. As the name suggests, they have an orange base color with asymmetric and thick black strips. The tail fin is bright red. Like other loaches, they have barbles on their mouth.

As bottom feeders, clown loaches would appreciate sand or fine gravel substrate, something they can sift through without harming their sensitive barbels. The tank should be generous with hiding places (rocks, driftwood, plastic decorations) and sturdy plants. One thing to note about clown loaches is that they are particularly susceptible to ich infection, so be very careful when you introduce anything new in the tank, i.e., a plant or another fish.

They are carnivore in nature and mainly thrive on worms. Ideally, you should raise the worms yourself. It will reduce the risk of contaminating your tank. They also get by with flakes, and sometimes even fresh vegetables. They are very gracious as hosts so that you can house them with many peaceful middle and top dwelling fish. They share their natural habitat with the tiger and hard-lipped barbs and Barred Rainbowfish, so they are comfortable with them by default. Other good tank mates can be tetras, Kuhli loaches (same region though), some cichlids, and Bolivian Rams.

5. Foxface Rabbitfish

Foxface Rabbitfish
It’s one of the beginner saltwater fish.

  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: 8 inches max
  • Temperature range: 75 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 8.1 to 8.4 (moderately hard: 8 to 12 dGH)
  • Social Behavior: Alone or a Pair
  • Tank size: 75-gallon minimum

Its scientific name sounds much more sophisticated: Siganus Unimaculatus. And even though it has two animals in its name (rabbit and fox), it doesn’t share much with either of them. For a saltwater fish, it’s relatively a hardy fish. It has a stunning color and design distribution. The bulk of the body, as you move back from the head, is bright yellow. The head has a white base and two large black stripes covering the eye and the fox-like snout. The distinct appearance is truly eye-catching, making it a natural centerpiece fish.

The natural habitat of the Foxface Rabbit Fish is at reefs and lagoons in the tropical Western Pacific, which ironically means that you can’t put it in the reef tank. As, when it’s hungry, it will munch on the corals. Make sure there is plenty of space for it to swim around, and rocks and crevices to hide in. It usually occupies the middle and the bottom region of the tank. It’s also essential to keep the salinity at an optimal level so that you don’t stress out your saltwater fish. It also requires frequent water changes to keep the water pristine.

It’s a herbivore, and in its natural habitat, feeds primarily on zooplankton and algae. Ideally, naturally growing algae in the tank would be best for them, but you can also feed them plant-heavy flakes and pellets. As herbivores and inherently peaceful fish, they are compatible with a wide variety of fish. You can house them with clownfish, eels, hawkfish, lionfish, puffers, tangs, wrasses, gobies, and angelfish. Just don’t keep them with other rabbitfish.

A Few Other Centerpiece Options

Some other freshwater fish that might look beautiful in your 75-gallon are:

  1. Green Terror: Partially terrorizing and entirely delightful.
  2. Tropheus cichlids: Aggressive little fish, comes in six different varieties.
  3. Banded Leporinus: Peaceful bottom dweller and grows up to a foot in size.
  4. Ryukin goldfish: Not a tropical fish but a good option for a 75-gallon tank.

Some saltwater fish that you may want to consider:

  1. Antenneta Lionfish: Majestic and aggressive. They have venom only in their spines, not in their hearts.
  2. Heniochus: Very similar to Moorish idol in shape.
  3. Potter’s angelfish: Small for a centerpiece but very elegantly eye-catching

Before you go ahead and pick your ideal fish let’s briefly discuss freshwater and saltwater tanks.

The Difference Between Freshwater and Saltwater Tanks

While a saltwater tank set up might not be as “unfathomable” for novice aquarists as many of them are led to believe, it is different from building freshwater tanks. For starters, you need a larger tank. It’s usually recommended that beginners start with a tank of at least 55 gallons. It also costs more. There a few things that marine water or saltwater tank might need that you don’t require for freshwater tanks, like protein skimmers, powerheads, and live rocks.

But the most significant difference comes from the fish. Saltwater/ocean fish are sought because of their beautiful designs, luscious colors, and a huge variety, compared to freshwater fish. But the problem is that the sea, a large and relatively undisturbed body of water (if you discard the pollution), offers very stable water parameters to its inhabitants. While freshwater fish are exposed to a variety of water parameters, and therefore, they turn relatively hardy and more forgiving of fluctuations in water parameters. Think of saltwater fish like the prim, elite-school kids who get disturbed and throw tantrums over minor inconveniences while the freshwater fish are kids, who are used to fending for themselves and are relatively tough.

While it’s true that saltwater aquarium and fish need relatively more care and research then freshwater aquariums do, it doesn’t necessarily stop beginners from starting a saltwater tank. You just have to be willing to spend a little more, do your due diligence about the fish and tank parameters more thoroughly, and be much more prompt and active regarding your tank’s maintenance and care of your fish. If you are willing to do all that, then it doesn’t matter if you are a novice at fish keeping or an expert, you can build and maintain a healthy saltwater tank.


Which Fish Can You Keep?

There is a lot of fish that can be kept in a 75 gallon tank. Here are a few great centerpiece fish that look awesome;

How Many Fish Can You Keep?

The number of fish you can keep in a 75 gallon tank depends on the species of fish and their temperament.

For example:

You could easily fit 15 African Cichlids and have plenty of room for them to live a long, happy life.

However, you probably wouldn’t want to keep three Oscars in a tank this size. They would grow far too large, create too much mess, become very aggressive, and ultimately kill one another.

As a starting point, you can use the 1″ of fish per gallon rule.

However, you should also consider the type of species you are keeping: peaceful, aggressive, or predator?

Lastly, what do they require in terms of territory, water requirements, and how big will they be when fully grown.

When you are designing a tank, make sure you understand the difference between what you want and what you can (feasibly) have. In a lot of cases, a limited budget will make your choices for you. But if you do your research and shop around, you may find a lot of different options, and a variety of configurations and setups you can have in your 75-gallon. If you can’t afford expensive and colorful saltwater fish as a centerpiece, try assimilating live and bright schools of smaller fish. If you are creating a community tank, make sure the fish are compatible. And even then you should keep an eye on the behavior of the new and the old fish.

While a 75-gallon has the potential to disperse a lot of territorial issues and provide stress-relief in the form of a lot of swimming space, you can’t just put the fish in and forget about it. Keep a lookout and see if a fish is getting bullied by others, or if only a few fish are getting all the feed while the others are too shy. Fishkeeping requires you to be a bit more observant, compared to how you might be with other pets.

Further Reading About Centerpiece Fish:

Centerpiece Fish for 75 Gallon Tank – Sizeable and Beautiful Swimmers

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