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Tropical fish that start with S

Tropical Fish that Start with S (with Photos)

Did you know there are well over 30,000 different species of tropical fish identified? This number continues to rise as more species are discovered.

This article will give you a list of our 7 favourite tropical fish beginning with the letter S.

Some you may have heard of, whilst some I am sure you won’t as they are more unusual. We are using their common names, as who actually uses their scientific names when popping into the local pet shop?! I have included the scientific names as well though for the nerdy types.

For the purpose of variation (and because, quite frankly, some of these letters were hard to research!), we may have included some saltwater fish as well. These are clearly marked, as rule number 1 in the world of fishkeeping is that you can’t mix your freshwater fish with your saltwater fish.

Tropical Fish that Start with the Letter S.

  • Striped Barb
  • Spotted Headstander
  • Severum
  • Swordtail
  • Steel-blue Killifish
  • Silver Arowana
  • South American Leaf Fish

Striped Barb.

striped barb
Striped Barb

Scientific name: Striuntius lineatus.

The Striped Barb reminds me of an old humbug sweet with the lines going from the head to the tail! They stand out more as most of the striped barb varieties have stripes going around their body rather than down the length of it.

They originate from South-east Asia, mainly from the Malay Peninsula down to Indonesia. They grow to approximately 4 inches, and are a peaceful and sociable barb. They can get a bit nervy sometimes so need some places to hide.

They show their stripes best if in a dimly lit tank. The brighter the tank, the less you can see their lovely markings.

where do striped barbs come from?
Where Striped Barbs are from

Spotted Headstander.

spotted headstander
Spotted Headstander

Scientific name: Chilodus punctatus.

These guys get their name due to the fact they are at a 45 degree angle most of the time in the tank. These ones are also spotty. Their spots are in nice, neat rows down their body, as well as on their fins. Their background colour can vary from nearly white to a pale golden colour.

The Spotted Headstander likes to be amongst its own, so in a group of at least 6 please. They are not the hardiest of fish so they are best going into a more mature tank that has regular partial water changes.

They can grow up to approximately 4 inches and are very peaceful fish. In fact, if there is ever any sign of trouble, these guys are usually the first to hide.

They originate from South America, mostly in Guyana.

where are spotted headstanders from?
Where Spotted Headstanders come from



Scientific name: Heros severus.

I actually prefer the scientific name for the Severum. It’s a lot more dramatic!

The Severum is part of the cichlid family. They originate from the Amazon basin in northern parts of South America. They can grow up to an impressive 8 inches, so you need a decent sized tank for these guys!

They are recognisable by their black striped bands, with the most prominent one being the last stripe nearest their tail.

These stripes are brighter the younger the fish is. They fade as the fish matures.

The Severum Cichlid can be quite aggressive as they are territorial by nature. They like to patrol around the top of the tank.

If you want to house them with other fish, they must be non aggressive, of a similar size, and have plenty of space so nobody gets stressed and loses their temper.

where do severums come from
Where Severums originate from.



Scientific name: Xiphophorus hellerii.

The swordtail originates from Central America on the Atlantic side, from Mexico to northern Honduras. They tend to grow to about 4 inches long, but a lot of that length is taken up by their sword-like tails! These tails are actually an extension of the bottom part of their caudal fin. This is only present in the males.

The males can become very aggressive towards one another in an aquarium set up. The best way to reduce conflict is to only keep one breed of swordtail and house them in a mixed group. That will then lead you to your next potential issue….the amount of babies they will produce!

Female swordtails are notorious for both producing crazy amounts of fry-it can be up to 200 at a time, and then eating said fry! The female will have to be separated from its young or it will just be lunch.

where do swordtails come from?
Where swordtails originate from.

Steel-blue Killifish.

steel blue killifish
Steel-blue Killifish

Scientific name: Fundulopanchax gardneri.

These striking fish hail from Nigeria and western Cameroon in West Africa, and can grow up to 3 inches.

They are also known as Blue Lyretail and they have a gorgeous blue background with prominent red spots. As is usually the case, the males have the better colours. The females have brown dots and are a lot duller.

They are an active species, especially around the upper parts of the tank. The males can be argumentative with each other, and there needs to be at least twice as many females as males. They are best kept in groups of at least 6 and it is advised to house them in a single species tank.

where do steel blue killifish come from?
Where Steel-blue Killifish come from.

Silver Arowana.

silver arowana
Silver Arowana

Scientific name: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum.

The Silver Arowana is a popular species originating from the Orinoco and Amazon regions of South America, as well as in Guyana.

You will need a monster of a tank for one of these as they can grow to an incredible 39 inches! They are no good in an outside pond, unless you live somewhere warm, as they need to be in warm water.

Even though they are big, and don’t look especially agile, they are very quick movers. They are also good jumpers and can jump up out of the water if they spot something tasty. They also like to prey on other fish, especially when a bit hungry.

where do silver arowanas come from?
Where Silver Arowanas originate from.

South American Leaf Fish.

south american leaf fish
South American Leaf Fish

Scientific name: Monocirrhus polyacanthus.

If there was a dead leaf look-a-like competition, this species would win it by a mile!

The South American Leaf Fish originates from the Amazon region in Peru. They are very narrow bodied and are yellow in colouring, making them a very unusual looking species. They can grow up to 4 inches in the correct environment.

They use their leafy likeness to hide amongst plants and vegetation, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to swim by, and then they pounce! Therefore, they are best kept in a single species tank, which needs to be spacious and well planted.

where do south american leaf fish originate from?
Where South American Leaf Fish are from.

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