Originally Posted by StevieD
Tropical fish need tropical weather. You won't really find any tropical looking fish in New England, and tropical fish will not survive the winter months even if they were dropped in ponds, lakes, etc. You also will not really be able to keep fish native to MA if you don't own a chiller. It can be done, however.
What you heard was probably related to salt water fish, and even then, same rules apply.
You can keep MA natives without a chiller. Some US native fish range from Canada all the way down to FL, and can be kept year-round without a chiller. Just avoid using a heater.
Also, there are quite a few colorful native fish, even in New England, that have sort of a tropical appearance. Unfortunately, native fish are overlooked most of the time, and LFS's don't carry native fish due to additional permits and regulaions that apply.
One example is the Northern Redbelly Dace, Phoxinus eos. Another very nice native fish is the blue-spotted sunfish, Enneacanthus gloriosus. In a planted tank, they take on a very dark, black coloration with irridescent blue spots all over their bodies, and have very cichlid-like qualities. Finally, some of the most colorful fish are the native darters, many of which have ranges that extend up into New England. However, darters are more likely to contain state protected species. All of these fish can be kept without a chiller.
I suggest you contact one of the aquarists at the NE Aquarium, who handles the native exhibits. They can give you the best info on native fish in your area. You might even want to volunteer a couple hours a week to get some good, expert knowledge.
In the meantime, you might want to get some basic info on native fishkeeping by reading some on the two websites I gave you. Also, there is a good book for the beginner native keeper: http://www.amazon.com/North-American...6246617&sr=8-1
This book is out of print I believe, but a very good primer. It also includes distribution maps, so you can see if the fish are native to your area.