The American flagfish is one of the least-demanding freshwater species available to adopt worldwide – a great choice for families and starter tanks. When living in suitable conditions in captivity, American Flagfish are generally hardy. They are docile and not too energetic, but they need lots of space!
Sometimes in the wild, they wander alone or in pairs – meaning that overcrowding can make them agitated and attack other fish. Males tend to be more aggressive than females and particularly during mating. However, most fishkeepers will know that mixing males together isn’t always a great plan of action!
American Flagfish are hardy community fish. They can mix with other species, but there has sufficient tank space to avoid confrontation or become frustrated. They can live easily an average 2 to 3 years – some have lived to the age of 8 years old, but this is not common.
One of the biggest issues facing American Flagfish and their hardiness is competition for food – meaning that in groups of other fish, they may sometimes be shrinking violets, and struggle to get the nutrition they need. That said, they will still normally live for longer periods than many other tropical fish – they are omnivores, which means providing they have access to vegetation and live meat, you can expect them to stay with you for a long time.
American flagfish tend to be popular with beginner tank owners who have a large tank (of up to 20 gallons), or who may not have much time to tend to their pets. Flagfish have a few needs when it comes to tank size, water type and temperature, however, they are considered some of the least fussy fish you’ll keep in a freshwater tank.
American flagfish temperaments can vary – and while they are generally regarded as a peaceful species, there are a few scenarios where they may find themselves on the attack. For example, flagfish are protective of their eggs – if other fish show too much interest in the eggs or pose a threat to newly born fry, flagfish may be unusually aggressive.
American flagfish can generally live in harmony with other species and are considered to be placid. When alone, too, and given ample food and an interesting area to live in, they are content – as we’ll see below, you won’t always need to keep more than one or two flagfish together for them to be happy.
That said, American flagfish are otherwise unlikely to be aggressive with other fish – but they can get territorial with each other. Once again, overcrowding can prompt aggression – more so between males, though some owners have expressed concern seeing females attack their male counterparts, too! Females are known to chase the males and sometimes nudge or even nip in an attempt to attract attention.
This, however, is generally seen as mating behavior and ‘the chase’. The average American flagfish shouldn’t cause many problems in a wider tank, and in fact appear to prefer the quiet life. It’s one of many reasons why American flagfish are considered some of the easiest tank species to raise.
American Flagfish can do well on their own or with partners – in fact, in the wild, they are often seen wandering around alone. Sometimes this may be due to their mate or group being hidden amongst plants, but unlike some other fish species, you shouldn’t have much to worry about when it comes to keeping a flagfish on its own. That said, unlike some aggressive species, there’s no real need for you to isolate a flagfish on its own for the sake of tank mate safety.
While American flagfish can be alone, it makes sense to try and keep a few of the species together for obvious reasons – when it comes to breeding. Therefore, you won’t need to worry too much about keeping two together as partners – one male and one female will live in harmony. To avoid a female getting too much attention, however, one male can live with 2 or 3 of the opposite gender.
Like many other species of fish kept in tanks, American flagfish males can get territorial when kept cooped up in the same space for too long. Therefore, be careful to ensure you vary the gender split if you are to keep two or more together. As many tank owners and tropical fish experts will tell you, two or more males kept together in close quarters is likely to be a recipe for disaster.