50 best freshwater aquarium fish

In this guide, we'll walk you through some of the best freshwater aquarium fish for beginners as well as professionals, as well as how to properly set up your first aquarium.

Here are some of our favorite freshwater aquarium fish for beginners:

1. Cory Catfish


If you have read other articles on my blog, you probably know that the Cory Catfish is one of my all time favorite freshwater aquarium fish. These bottom-dwelling catfish are some of the best community fish out there – they survive in a wide variety of conditions, get along with (almost) all species, and are active and entertained when see.

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Since Cory Catfish are schooling fish, they should be kept in groups of at least 4-5. They are not picky eaters and should go well with mixtures of flakes and pellets. Dried bloodworms are also a great food supplement that will keep your Cories happy and healthy.

Because of their docile nature, I recommend keeping dogs only with other temperate species such as Tetras, Mollies, Loaches, Plecos and Danios.

  • Care level:  Easy / Medium
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size:  20 gallons for groups of 5

2. Guppies

favorite guppies

The Fancy Guppies are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish out there – and for good reason! Their hardy nature, bright colors and ease of care make them a great choice, even for first-time aquarists.

Because of their small size, guppies can be kept in pretty small tanks – 10 gallons is more than enough. That said, guppies are also known to breed very quickly. 5 can turn into 50 in no time, so make sure you have a plan for all the fry.

In terms of care, guppies are as easy as they come. As long as your aquarium is set up properly and you're feeding high-quality flake food, raising a school of healthy guppies should be a piece of cake.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size:  10 gallons

3. Mollusks

Molly fish

Mollies are a hardy, easy-to-keep species known for their wide range of colors. Like guppies, Mollies thrive in most conditions and reproduce extremely quickly. That said, they are a bit larger and require a bit more room.

Krill are an omnivore, so they will eat anything that is fed to them. Flakes, pellets, and frozen foods all work very well. Krill fish also come in a wide variety of types and colors, so every aquarist can find the right one for their tank.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size:  10 gallons

4. Swordtails

Swordtail red male in the dark

Often grouped with Guppies and Mollies, Swordtails are the last surviving individual on our list – but with a unique twist. Male Swordfish are equipped with an interesting “sword” protruding from their tail, giving them their name. This unique feature makes them a great attention-grabbing species in any community aquarium.

Like most other living creatures, Swordtails are easy to raise and thrive in a variety of environments. If raised in groups, Swordtails will also spawn very quickly. As a small and peaceful species, they should be kept with other community-friendly fish.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size:  10 gallons

5. Kuhli Loach

kuhli fish in aquarium

If you are looking for something a little different, the Kuhli Loach might be the perfect freshwater aquarium fish for you. Although this species resembles an eel, it is not actually in the eel family.

Kuhli cockroaches are most active at night, so don't expect to see them too much during the day. That said, Loai Kuhli are usually much more active during the day if they are kept in groups of 3-4.

Another reason why Kuhli's slugs make a great aquarium fish for beginners is because of their small size (especially when compared to other species of lizards). With a maximum length of 3-5 inches, a group can be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium with no problem.

  • Care level:  Easy / Medium
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

6. Neon Tetra

neon tetra

Neon Tetras are small, high-energy fish known for their bright colors and interesting school habits. If you are looking to set up a lively, natural aquarium then Neon Tetras is the perfect choice.

Since Neons peak at about 1-1.5 , good size fields can be kept even in small tanks. Personally, I like to drop 1 Neon Tetra per gallon of water. That said, the 10-gallon tank should only hold 5-7 Tetras. Water parameters tend to fluctuate a bit more.

Neon Tetras are considered fairly easy to keep and can adapt to a wide variety of water conditions. As long as your tank is stable and can function properly, you should not have any problems keeping this species.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size: 1 0 gallons

7. Bristlenose Pleco

bristlenose pleco

Bristlenose Pleco, commonly known as Bushy Nose Pleco or Armored Catfish, is one of the most popular varieties of Pecostomus in the aquarium hobby. Despite its alien-like appearance, the Bristlenose Pleco is actually a wonderful, peaceful addition to any community aquarium.

One great thing about Bristlenose Pleco is that it is relatively small compared to other Pleco species. Just under 5 inches, they should be kept in tanks of at least 30 gallons.

Bristlenose Plecos has a strong appetite for algae, so it does a great job of cleaning up the aquarium. That said, aquarium owners should feed wafer algae supplements to keep their Bristlenose Plecos well fed and healthy.

8. Betta fish

betta fish

Even if you've never owned an aquarium before, chances are you've heard of Betta fish. These popular freshwater aquarium fish are known for their bright colors, versatility, and alert personalities.

Despite the popular belief that Betta fish can live in small bowls, you really shouldn't try to keep them in anything less than 5 gallons. Small bowls are not only cruel, but they can significantly cut down on a Betta's lifespan. This list of the best Betta tanks is a great resource for raising Betta fish correctly.

Although bettas generally prefer to keep in a tank, there are a number of other species that can share a good habitat with them. Some suitable mates in a Betta tank include Cory Catfish, Plecos, and certain species of Tetras.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Character: rampage
  • Tank Size:  5 gallons

9. Zebra Danio

zebra danios

Zebra Danios are one of the most iconic beginner freshwater aquarium fish in this hobby. They are prized for their instantly recognizable striped motifs, dynamic antics, and ease of care.

Zebra Danios are most active when kept in small schools – a group of 7-8 Danios will provide all the entertainment you need from a freshwater tank. Because they tend to be very versatile and lively, it's a good idea to have a tank of at least 20 gallons.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

10. Dwarf Gourami

gourami5 01 compressor 1

A hardy and colorful species, the Dwarf Gourami ranks highly as one of the top recommended beginner aquarium fish. Not only are they easy to keep and extremely adaptable, the Dwarf Gourami make a great "centerpiece" for any aquarium due to their electric coloration and large personalities.

Dwarf Gourami should be kept in an aquarium of at least 20 gallons. They are generally peaceful in the wild, but can become territorial if placed in small tanks with other fish. Some suitable tank mates include Cory Catfish, Guppies, Platies and Endlers.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

11. Goldfish


Goldfish are the most popular freshwater aquarium fish of all time (so far). To the surprise of most aquarists, Goldfish come in many different types and colors (many of which are easy to keep).

Like Betta fish, the idea that goldfish can live in a bowl is completely wrong. In fact, a goldfish tank should be at least 20-30 gallons in capacity.

Aside from the slightly large minimum tank size, Goldfish are extremely easy to keep and do well in a variety of conditions, making them the perfect beginner fish. That said, they prefer cooler environments than most tropical aquarium fish (68-75 .). ° F), so they tend to work best in goldfish-only tanks. Goldfish also do well on a simple flake diet, so no special feeding is required.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size: 20-30 gallons

12. Condemning Cichlid

convict cichlid

In my opinion, Convicts are one of the best beginner Cichlids out there for new aquarium owners. In fact, my first fish was a male Convict Cichlid (and I still own several of his fish almost 20 years later!).

If you are interested in raising fingerlings, the Convict Cichlid is definitely the right choice. As long as your tank is stable and you have a male/female pair, it doesn't take much else for these fish to breed – and being a hardy species, Convict fry are fairly easy to keep.

Be warned, though – as a Cichlid, Convicts aren't always the friendliest of fish (especially when they're spawning or tending to their young). If you decide to go with the Convict Cichlid, save yourself headaches and avoid any more teammates in the tank.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Character: rampage
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

13. African Cichlids

african cichlid yellow lab

The term "African Cichlid" is a generic term that includes tons of different Cichlid species (more than 1,200) – some of the most common include Yellow Lab Cichlids, Peacock Cichlids and Zebra Cichlids.

In general, African Cichlids tend to be showy, hardy and are prolific herders. However, for most cichlids, they can be a bit aggressive – choose your tank mates carefully if you want to keep them with other species.

Most African Cichlids are mouthful, meaning they keep their young in their mouths for about 3-4 weeks until they can fend for themselves. If you're interested in fish breeding and want something unique, I highly recommend you check out the African Cichlid - the hatching process in the mouth is truly amazing.

  • Care level:  Easily
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

14. Red Cherry Shrimp

red cherry shrimp

The Red Cherry Shrimp are not technically fish, but they are interesting. Small, colorful and easy to keep, Red Cherries are the most popular freshwater aquarium shrimp available.

While most shrimp species are particularly sensitive to water conditions, Red Cherries have been selectively bred for hardiness. That said, Red Cherry Shrimp still need good water conditions to thrive. Also, Cherry Shrimps are best kept in shrimp-only tanks – otherwise they often become an unfortunate snack for hungry fish.

  • Care level: Medium
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

15. Cherry Barb

barb cherries

If you're looking for a colorful aquarium fish, Cherry Barbs are hard to beat. These bright red Barbs are not only eye-catching and full of life, but also very easy to care for.

One great thing about Cherry Barbs is that they are just as self-satisfied as they are in a community tank with other fish. Although they are generally very peaceful and sociable with other species, these Barbs can be a bit excessive when kept around more aggressive fish.

Overall, Cherry Barbs are a great beginner fish that brings a touch of life to any aquarium they inhabit.

  • Care level: Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Tank Size: 20-30 gallons

16. Tiger Barb

stubborn tiger

The Tiger Barb is a lively, energetic fish known for its recognizable orange and black striped pattern. As a school fish, Tiger Barbs should be kept in groups of 5-6 for best results.

Tiger Barbs are one of the most fun fish to watch in my opinion – these little things NEVER stop moving. That said, they can be a bit nimble. Be careful when keeping them with longfin fish like angelfish.

As an omnivore, Tiger Barbs should be fed a mixture of flakes and meaty foods (frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms) for optimal health. They also feel most “at home” in planted aquariums, but plants are certainly not an absolute must.

  • Care level: Easily
  • Character: Peaceful (albeit a bit sly)
  • Tank Size: 20-30 gallons

17. Oscar Cichlids

Oscar fish (Astronotus ocellatus)
  • Science name: Astronotus ocellatus
  • Common names: Oscar, Oscar fish, Marble Cichlid
  • Care difficulty: Medium
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Minimum tank size: 75 gallons

The Oscar fish is a big undertaking, having a lifespan similar to that of a dog. They also have a very dog-like personality and are often referred to as "water dogs".

Oscar winners can learn to recognize their owners and often respond positively to them, with some even allowing owners to pet them.

If you can provide the proper space, food, and water to change Oscar's needs, then taking care of them will be quick. Bigger tanks are actually much better for beginners than smaller tanks.

An important part of keeping fish is the chemistry of the water, and the chemistry of the water is more likely to change quickly in a small tank than in a large tank, so if something starts to go sideways you will have more time to fix it in bigger tank.

Oscars are also very hardy and forgiving fish, which makes them suitable for beginners. In addition, most other hardy fish are not nearly as beautiful as the Oscar statuette, nor are there many color variations.

As long as a beginner has space for one and knows they are signing up for 10+ years of care, Oscars are a wonderful pet and they will stay loving and entertaining for a lifetime.

 18. Platies

  • Science name: Xiphophorus maculatus
  • Common names: Platy, moonfish
  • Difficulty Care: Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

One of the toughest fish available, the platypus comes in a wide variety of designs and colors. Platies are a hard water fish, so although they are extremely durable you will have problems keeping them in soft water.

They are also a live pregnant fish, which means they give birth to well-developed young, instead of eggs like most other fish. Platies are some of the easiest fish to breed and some of the best fish to start with, both in terms of spawning and overall fish care.

Juveniles require no special care, other than their food being smaller than adult food. They are born fully functional, although you may want to provide an extra hiding area, as they can be cannibals.

One way or another, if you have a female, she will give birth, and some of the young will survive. Make sure you have enough space to accommodate them or have other houses arranged for them.

Platies is a highly interactive fish that is easy to care for and can adapt to very hard water that other fish cannot. Despite their cannibalistic nature, platies are very calm and peaceful fish, and can be kept with a wide variety of tank mates.

19. Gourami Pearls

gourami pearls
  • Science name: Trichopodus leerii
  • Common names: Lace Gourami, Mosaic Gourami
  • Difficulty Care: Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

Pearl eels, aptly named for their beautiful, white, circular pattern on their bodies, are a gorgeous and easy to care for fish. They are one of the weirdest looking fish on this list and are often used as center fish in aquariums.

Pearl eels make an excellent appearance in community aquariums, as long as there are no other labyrinthine fishes. Gourami, which are labyrinthine fish, can get along well with other fish, but usually don't get along well with each other.

Labyrinth fish have both gills and labyrinthine organs, essentially a primitive lung. Make sure your connoisseur has access to the top of the water for a breath of air whenever they want, or else they might start to suffocate.

Pearl eels are easy to keep, are not too picky about water hardness (although they prefer soft water) and require less maintenance than other fish.

They have a great and unique look, and will look great in just about any aquarium you put them in. Pearl eels are intelligent and highly interactive and make excellent aquarium fish.

20. Disc

  • Science name: Symphysodon. disc, tarzoo, aequifasciatus, haraldi
  • Common names: Discus, Pompadour, King of the Aquarium
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 60 gallons

Discus, often considered the holy grail of fish keeping and considered one of the most difficult fish to care for, can actually be kept by beginners. While it's not recommended to raise Discus as your first fish, you can still do it.

When you're just getting started with discus keeping, you'll want to start with some of the lower end fish, although these still cost $20-40 each. Discus are more demanding than your average fish, so you should have experience with at least one other fish before switching to discus.

Recently, there have been a number of lower end lines that can easily be considered hardy, meaning that the average aquarist can successfully raise these fish.

Their main problem is nitrate; While most fish will only tolerate 20-40ppm as well, it is best to keep nitrates in a Discus tank between 0-10ppm. Essentially, these fish need more water changes than other fish, mainly because their meaty diet produces a lot of nitrogenous waste.

As long as you can provide a large tank, the right food (usually including beef hearts and homemade food), a school of Discus (at least 6), enough filtration, and a solid time commitment, you'll be fine. No problem raising them. And it would be great when you start your fish farming journey by raising the most beautiful freshwater fish in the hobby, right?

21. Killifish

Killifish in freshwater aquarium
  • Science name: Fundulus
  • Common names: killifish, killie, topminnow
  • Care difficulty: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, depending on species
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10-20 gallons

While there are hundreds of species of killifish, here we will look at some general aspects of care. Most species you can find for sale will fall under this category and be cared for in general, as sensitive species are usually only sold online.

Most species are extremely hardy, and while they have a tendency to jump, they don't have any other downsides. They can have stunning colors, such as f. Gardneri, although there are hundreds of dark-colored killifish.

Unlike the other fish on this list, killifish perform best in species-only or single-fish tanks. They can be small and difficult to feed, so a community tank can cause a lot of stress for them.

Simply because there are so many species, and because each species has slightly different requirements, they require more in-depth study than other beginner species.

Even so, their hardiness and cute little personality make for the perfect beginner fish.

22. Rainbow fish

Boeseman's Rainbow Fish
  • Science name: Melanotaeniidae
  • Common names: Rainbowfish
  • Care difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons

Rainbow fish are large and brightly colored fish that usually do best in equally large community tanks.

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They are extremely active, can make other fish feel more secure, and are very hardy and easy to care for. Rainbow fish are not picky eaters, nor are they aggressive.

Some species can be difficult for beginners to care for, although they are not commonly found in stores, so it is very unlikely that a beginner will accidentally purchase a difficult rainbow fish. .

They work best in heavily planted tanks, as they love to creep in and out of plants. Also, greenery provides a beautiful contrast to their bright colors and can really make them stand out.

23. God Fish

angel fish
  • Science name: Pterophyllum scalare
  • Common names: Angelfish, Freshwater Angelfish
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

Freshwater angelfish are fish that are often overlooked, for absolutely no good reason. Many people are surprised to discover that these amazing animals do not exist only in salt water and even more surprised to discover the diversity of freshwater angelfish.

Freshwater angelfish have been domesticated for a relatively long time and there are countless varieties of fish available. You can get a wide variety of fin colors, shapes and sizes, and even scale types; they are basically as versatile as bettas!

Another aspect similar to bettas is their aggression; Angel fish are cichlids, and most cichlids have distinct personalities and temperaments. While one angelfish can be completely passive towards its fellows in the tank, another angelfish will show mild to severe aggression.

You don't need to be experienced to deal with angelfish aggression, as it's usually not serious and is usually easily manageable. As long as you research ways to handle potential aggression before it happens, you should be able to move on.

Cichlids, despite their potentially aggressive nature, are often a great starter fish. They are sturdy, strong, very cute and make a great pet to own. They have distinct and unique personalities that are irreplaceable, it is impossible not to stick with them.

24. Firemouth Cichlids

cichlid crater
  • Science name: Thorichthys meeki
  • Common names: Firemouth, Fire Cichlid
  • Care difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

Firemouth cichlids are gorgeous and hardy fish that are perfect for beginners. They are very flashy, iridescent and can brighten up any tank.

They also thrive in a wide range of water parameters, so there's no need to give them a special water source or change the amount of water you already have.

Like other cichlids, they can be aggressive, especially when breeding, but as long as you choose a mate of the same size, the aggression won't last.

Offer plenty of decorations like rocks and driftwood, as these serve as potential viewing spots and territories. If your cichlid can establish a territory around an ornament or two that they feel safe with, the tank will be peaceful.

25. Catfish Pictus

  • Science name: Pimelodus carvedus
  • Common names: Pictus catfish, Pictus cat
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons

Catfish is one of the most classic looking catfish a beginner can own. They have a light gray body with dark dark spots, and huge antennae or antennae, making them look like "catfish".

Other catfish in the aquarium, such as the pleco catfish, do not have large antennae and may not be immediately recognized as catfish.

Pictus catfish will go away if you keep them together, but you will need a much larger tank. They are peaceful residents in community aquariums, as long as there are enough decorations for them to hide and stay in the middle.

These catfish are very active and do not stay at the bottom of the aquarium. Expect them to regularly swim around the midfield area and plan their tank mates accordingly.

While they live peacefully, they will eat smaller fellows when hungry, so it's best to keep them with larger fish.

26. Clown Loach

Chromobotia macracanthus - clown
  • Science name: Chromobotia macracanthus
  • Common names: Clown-chick, Tiger-chick, Tiger-chick
  • Care difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 125 gallons

Clowns have large, bold, vertical black and yellow stripes that make them stand out in any aquarium. They are very boisterous and must be kept in groups, so there is no way for them to blend into the background.

Many people take them to deal with a snail infestation, but you need to make sure you'll be able to keep a school of these large fish. They simply won't survive in small tanks, but the larger you put them, the happier and more active they will be.

Clown cockroaches require quite a few hiding areas to be safe and stress-free, thus reducing their chances of getting sick.

They are active during the day, unlike most cockroaches, so feeding them in a community setting won't be an issue. As long as you can manage their size, you shouldn't have any trouble taking care of this fish, and their personalities make it impossible to regret keeping them.

27. Harlequin Rasboras

harlequin rasbora
  • Science name: Trigonostigma heteromorpha
  • Common names: Harlequin rasbora, pigchop rasbora
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

Harlequin rasboras is a great, hardworking fish. They are well suited to community aquariums and are very adaptable in terms of water hardness.

Harlequin rasboras are also quite beautiful, having a red body with a large chunk of pork, like patches of black and glittering iridescence.

Very few aquarists have problems with this fish, and they are truly one of the easiest fish to keep and care for. They are not fabricating and will not present any behavioral problems as long as their school is large enough.

Harlequin rasboras are also much more interactive than normal school fish, and all of these factors combined make them perfect beginner fish.

28. Marble Hatchetfish

Carnegiella strigata (Carnegiella strigata)
  • Science name: Carnegiella strigata
  • Common names: Marbled Hatchetfish
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

There is nothing quite like a fingerling fish, and the marble fish is no exception. They have a beautiful opaque white and black marble pattern, and the unusual body shape of a brooding bird. They spend their time swimming just below the surface of the water, dashing in small groups.

When with other small fish, they make excellent community dwellers and their activity often encourages other fish to come out of hiding.

As long as you keep nitrates low and the water not too hard, you should have no problems with this fish. However, keep in mind that they can be prone to jumping, so make sure to completely cover your tank.

29. Catfish upside down

  • Science name: Synodontis nigriventris
  • Common names: Catfish upside down, Catfish is crushed
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

While a normal upside down fish is a very bad sign, this small fish almost exclusively swims upside down. They usually lie upside down in ornaments and live most of their lives in this position.

They have very large and pronged eyes, and uniquely shaped fins. The upside-down catfish has an almost desert-like pattern, with patches of varying brown and tan, similar to lizards. They do best in small schools and are great peaceful residents of community tanks.

30. Celestial Pearl Danios

Danio margaritatus - pearl danio
  • Science name: Danio margaritatus
  • Common names: Celestial jade danio, cpd, galaxy rasbora
  • Difficulty Care: Easily
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

Celestial Pearl danios, also known as galaxy rasboras, is a very small school fish. If they are kept with tankmates of similar size and temperament, they will do great in a community tank.

They prefer planter tanks, as they can be quite dodgy and plants provide perfect natural hiding areas, as well as making their colors pop.

CPD has a medium gray body with white spots and contrasting dark red and orange fins. Like other school fish, they need a school of at least 6 people to feel comfortable.

Feeding and overall maintenance is not a difficult task for these little boys and they are not too demanding in care either.

31. White Clouds White Clouds

Tanichthys albonubes
  • Science name: Tanichthys albonubes
  • Common names: White clouds, white clouds, WCMM
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

The white cloud minnow (WCMM) is an adorable and flashy little fish. Although they have only recently been introduced to this hobby, they have become quite popular in a short time.

Their lively and peaceful nature, along with their white bodies and colorful red fins, make them perfect for many aquariums.

In terms of hardness, this fish is most likely the hardest fish on this list. They are durable in terms of adaptability to different water parameters, their food, school size (although it should be at least six), tank mates, and they can thrive in water from 45 to 85 degrees F. This fish is not demanding and is well suited to learning how to fish.

32. Bichir

Bichir fish in aquarium
  • Science name: Polypteridae
  • Common names: Bichir, Dragonfish
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 50-125 gallon

While bichirs are often considered a difficult fish to keep, anyone who has done the research thoroughly and can feed them properly should be able to let this fish thrive.

Bichirs are not necessarily aggressive, but they will try to eat the smaller fish in the tank. While other fish prefer community tanks, because the activity of other species makes them feel more secure, amphibians don't like community or species-only tanks.

In terms of feeding, they are very gluttonous, so it's not a matter of getting them to eat, rather their food can be quite expensive. They require frozen foods, such as shrimp, mussels, mussels, worms and fish as a staple part of their diet, and the cost of these can add up quickly.

Even so, owners rarely see cost as an issue, simply because twin bikes are incredibly unique and fun to keep. No other fish is quite like them, and no other fish exhibits a personality like them.

33. Golden Barb

golden barbs
  • Science name: Puntius semifasciolatus
  • Common names: Gold barb, Chinese Barb
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

The golden barb is a large and flashy fish, with a yellow body with black spots and bright red fins. Planted aquariums are particularly good at creating the colors of these fish, which will draw a lot of attention to your tank.

School fish can spoil quickly if their school is too small, and gold bars are no exception. They are not particularly aggressive, but if they are uncomfortable in their school, they may attack other species in the tank. Fortunately, this is easily solved with the addition of a few more gold bars.

Can't be disappointed with these gorgeous and brightly colored fish, especially since they do so well in community tanks.

While they are not usually the centerpiece fish, they are great for enhancing other colors in the tank and helping to increase the overall aesthetic. The yellow barb is a good beginner fish due to its tough nature, calm demeanor and ability to interact peacefully with other fish.

34. Rosy Barb

pink barb
  • Science name: Puntius conchonius
  • Common names: Rosy barb
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

Although they are larger than golden barbs, and most barbs for that matter, pink barbs are not aggressive or overly boisterous. Their size makes them more compatible with larger fish than other barbs, but otherwise has little effect on their care.

The rose barb is aptly named for its pronounced red color and highly iridescent scales, reflecting the gentle pink color. Other colors are sparse and vary from fish to species, but they usually have a black dot at the tip of the tail and a black tip at the tip of the fin.

Keeping a properly sized group of at least six is important for pink barbs, as they tend to bite the fins of other fish if their field is too small.

Besides, they are an absolute joy to own and will brighten up any tank. They are extremely hardworking, not picky eaters, and do very well in community tanks and with other peaceful fish.

Most of them are also very good at handling semi-aggressive fish, so your tankmate options aren't as limited as other barbs.

35. German Blue Ram

German green ram
  • Science name: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
  • Common names: German Blue Ram, Butterfly Cichlid, Ram Cichlid
  • Care difficulty: Medium
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

The German Blue Sheep may be the prettiest beginner cichlid. These fish are well suited to smaller tanks and do well in pairs and small groups, although they should also have other tank inhabitants acting as dithers.

Some can be picky about food but feeding them frozen food 1-2 times a week is usually enough to get them on track.

They will be making some minor adjustments to the tank layout, so expect to see some rocks and gravel moving around from time to time.

Although very small, they have a very large personality and are not afraid to show off to other fish. Watching them interact with each other and each other in the tank is both fascinating and fun, depending on their mood. I have never met anyone who regrets owning this little fish, even a few beginners!

36. Cockatoo Cichlid

cockatoo cichlid
  • Science name: Apistogramma cacatuoides
  • Common names: Cockatoo Cichlid, Big Mouth Cichlid
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

Cockatoo cichlid, also known scientifically as Apistogramma cacatuoides , is a small, thin-bodied fish with a dark color. They are intelligent and personable, make excellent aquarium fish, and are often used as center fish in community aquariums due to their vibrant markings.

While their bodies are tan/gray with a horizontal black stripe, their fins are black, with orange, red, and yellow spots in a bold, flame-like form. They are very eye-catching, hence their central position, but are also non-aggressive and get along well with other fish, except during spawning.

Cockatoo cichlids need a well decorated tank with several small burrows and hiding places. They prefer tight-fitting caves and caves with only one entrance/exit.

These cichlids are not very demanding in any other respect and perform wonderfully in just species and community environments.

37. Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey cichlid
  • Science name: Rocio octofasciata
  • Common names: Jack Dempsey, Electric Blue Jack Dempsey
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Character: rampage
  • Minimum tank size: 60 gallons

The Jack Dempsey Cichlid is probably the second most aggressive fish on this list, and despite that fact, they can still be successfully kept by a beginner. They are strikingly beautiful, as their dark bodies are speckled with white and iridescent scales of light color, which change with each of their movements.

Understand that aggressive fish require more care and maintenance than peaceful fish, so a Jack Dempsey will need more care than other fish on this list.

They also need larger tanks, more expensive food, and more expensive filtration. These are obstacles for beginners, but by no means they prevent the knowledgeable beginner from properly caring for this fish.

All cichlids have personalities of their own, but the older they get, the cuter they tend to become. Everyone who owns a Jack Dempsey absolutely loves their fish; it's like having a smaller, water-bound version of a dog.

38. Green Texas Cichlid

green texas cichlid
  • Science name: Herichthys cyanoguttatus
  • Common names: Green Texas Cichlid, Texas Cichlid
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Character: rampage
  • Minimum tank size: 60 gallons

The Green Texas Cichlid is the most aggressive fish on the list; The same rules of aggression listed for Jack Dempsey apply. Both fish should only be kept with fish of similar temperament and size for a successful tank. However, if your Texas cichlid decides that it's breeding season, it will try to kill any fish it sees.

They are also highly territorial, so it is important to provide some large decorations. It will claim one or more of these as its territory and will spend most of its time around these decorations. As long as the other fish in the tank don't mess with its territory, everything should be fine.

Feeding time can cause some minor aggression, but it usually doesn't last long nor does it cause significant damage to any fish.

If you are intrigued by the interpersonal relationships between different fish species, then an aggressive tank is the one for you.

Keeping large boisterous fish is a great way to observe these relationships and interactions, and allows you to manage them yourself to prevent damage.

39. Odessa Barb

Odessa Barb
Anandarajkumar at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0]
  • Science name: Pethia padamya
  • Common names: Odessa Barb, Scarlet Barb
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

The Odessa barbfish is a silvery-bodied fish with a deep red stripe, horizontal from head to tail. Their scales are perfectly bordered black, with some black appearing on the fins, and their highly iridescent scales make some scales white.

A school of these fish looks great in any tank, and no barb or similar four-tailed fish can replace them. Odessa geese are gentle and hardy, and although they do best and look their best in planted tanks, this is not essential for their overall health.

They rarely have problems with tank mates, unless they are kept with a very aggressive fish and they remain peaceful even during the breeding season. Odessa barbs are tough and will survive many beginner mistakes that other fish may not make.

40. Asian rock catfish

  • Science name: Hara jerdoni
  • Common names: Asian rock catfish, Rock cat
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

These tiny little fish won't add to the visual aesthetic of your tank, but their size and unique behavior make them a must-have, at least once in your aquarium career. It is best to keep a lovely small group of these dogs in the same tank.

Refer: 11 great bottom-eating fish for your aquarium

They have a small, almost banjo-like body shape, long prongs, and large triangular fins.

Asian rock catfish can thrive in very small tanks, as they are not very active, but it is best for beginners to have a tank larger than their minimum tank size.

A smaller tank is susceptible to rapid changes in water chemistry, which can be difficult or impossible to correct. Larger tanks allow for more mistakes and changeability, which makes it ideal for beginners.

Although Asian rock catfish are not picky eaters, they can find it difficult to get enough food in a community tank.

Do not add any other bottom-feeding fish, or these little ones are at risk of starving to death. As long as they are the sole benthic species, they will thrive in a biome or just aquarium species.

41. Tetra Diamond

Moenkhausia pittieri
  • Science name: Moenkhausia pittieri
  • Common names: Diamond Tetra
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

The diamond tetras have a pure silver color, slightly raised scales, and a high luster, giving them the name "diamonds". They have some slight redness around the top of their eyes, but other than this, their bodies are gem-like.

This fish thrives in softer waters, although they can tolerate moderately hard water. As long as your water parameters are somewhere in that range, congratulations – you can easily keep these fish!

These tetra fish are non-aggressive fish and can interact peacefully with most other fish. They are not difficult to find, nor do they make food and prevent other fish from eating. Apart from water hardness, they do not require any specialized care and are quite hardy.

42. Cardinal Tetra

tetra . card
  • Science name: Paracheirodon axelrodi
  • Common names: Cardinal Tetra, Red Neon
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

Cardinal tetras are an alternative to neon tetras. In some areas, neon tetras are becoming much weaker – whether it is due to poor genetics or improper care, they are not nearly as healthy as they once were.

Cardinal tetras are newer to the aquarium scene than neon tetras, but they look very similar. Cardinals have a silver body with a thick horizontal blue stripe in the middle of their body and a thick red stripe on the lower half of their body.

The shades of blue and red closely resemble those of neon tetra, and the basic difference between the two is that Cardinals are larger than neons and have less silver on their bodies.

These tetras require a school of at least six and should only be kept with other peaceful tank mates.

They are commonly used in community aquariums, as their blues and reds stand out from the green and those colors are difficult to find in other school fish.

43. Cichlid Blood Parrot

cichlid blood parrot
  • Science name: Amphilophus citrinellus x Paraneetroplus synspilus
  • Common names: Blood Parrot Cichlid, BP, Bloody Parrot
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons

This often smiling fish usually looks quite adorable, although they can actually be aggressive. However, they are an artificially created species, and even if they wanted to be aggressive with another fish, their deformed mouth prevented them from doing so.

Their entire body is medium pink to red and misshapen when compared to other fish. They tend to be very round, with a clear separation between the head and body.

While this fish's appearance, including its permanently cute face, may surprise some, it is aesthetically appealing to others.

Since they cannot be aggressive with other fish, they do very well in a community setting.

Blood parrots need many hiding areas to feel safe and establish a territory. They also love to dig around the substrate and rearrange some decorations, so make sure there's nothing too sharp or rough in the tank.

Blood parrots have adorable personalities that match their adorable faces and are very attractive to watch.

44. Rainbow Shark

rainbow shark in aquarium
  • Science name: Epalzeorhynchos frenatum
  • Common names: Rainbow Shark, Redfin Shark
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Character: Sell Aggressively
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons

Rainbow sharks can be found at most pet stores, although not everyone is equipped to keep this fish. They are quite large in size, which is very appealing to some aquarists, while others like their color and personality.

Decoration is a must for this fish, as they are semi-aggressive and territorial, and they need decoration to build their surrounding territory.

Without any decorations, they will claim the entire tank as their territory, which will cause serious aggression problems with any other fish.

They are usually kept in community tanks, which work very well, as long as they establish a properly sized territory. Species that only have rainbow sharks are rare, as they cannot live together.

While rainbow sharks are extremely active and fun to watch, a 50-60 gallon tank with a single fish is not as exciting as a 50-60 gallon tank with a large, interesting fish and 4 schools of fish. less.

These fish have always been a popular choice, due to their hardy nature, active personalities, and beautiful colors. This is not going to change any time soon.

45. White dress Tetra

Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
  • Science name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
  • Common names: White tetra skirt, tetra skirt, yellow skirt
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size:  20 gallons

The white skirt tetra is an easy fish to care for and doesn't require much in terms of overall care. They are not fussy at all when it comes to food or decorations, even though they claim both.

Since they are school animals, they need a group of at least 6 to feel safe.

The white skirt tetra is a flesh-colored, partially translucent fish, although there are several other color variations. Avoid fish with unnatural colors, especially bright blues and pinks, as these are commonly dyed fish. They will lose color or have a shorter lifespan.

The only exception are the glo-fish versions of the white-dressed tetras, which live normally and without the side effects from their unnatural but attractive colors.

46. ​​Blood Tetrafin

Apyocharax anisitsi tetra bloodfins
  • Science name: Apyocharax anisitsi
  • Common names: Blood Tetrafin
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

Bloodfin tetras are aptly named, because while their bodies are plain silver, their fins are completely red.

Despite their gory-sounding name, they are completely peaceful and must be kept with others of their kind. Their unique coloration has a dramatic appearance when they are in school, and many aquarists use this color to complete their community tanks.

This hardy fish will require very little care and can thrive in most types of water, although softer water is preferred.

As long as you feed them and change the water regularly, they will spend a happy time wandering around the aquarium.

47. Redeye Tetra

Red-eyed tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)
  • Science name: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
  • Common names: Redeye tetra, lampeye tetra
  • Care difficulty: Beginner
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

The red-eyed tailfish is a silver-bodied fish with red rings around the eyes with two vertical bands on the tail, one white and one red. While this may sound like an ordinary-looking fish, when they were in school their red eyes stood out in a unique way that other fish couldn't copy.

They need to be kept with other peaceful tank mates, as they are defenseless against aggressive tank mates. Also, they like to have some decorations that are big enough to zoom in and around, as this will help them feel more secure and secure.

Similar to the other school fish on this list, the red giant is most commonly found in community tanks, especially beginner community tanks.

They are tough, undemanding and moderate, which means there is little chance of any problems.

48. Raphael Catfish

  • Science name: Platydoras armatulus
  • Common names: Raphael Catfish, Striped Raphael Catfish
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

The Raphael Catfish has alternating black and cream horizontal stripes on its body, along with very long fins and fins. This catfish has a somewhat odd appearance, especially when its tadpole-shaped body is considered.

They cannot be caught in nets like normal fish, because their long fins and hidden spines can easily get caught in the net, trapping fish with no safe way to get them out.

In addition to the inability to use nets, their care is quite simple. They are not particularly picky eaters, although they do require a combination of high quality pellets and frozen food.

The Raphael catfish is also not particularly active, and spends a lot of time hiding among decorations, trees, and driftwood.

Therefore, they are often kept in community tanks, especially those with larger fish. Large fish usually don't mind slow-moving nocturnal fish, and Raphael catfish are not small fry.

They also do well in community tanks with more peaceful fish. Either way, remember to add more food to the tank about an hour after the lights go out, as this gives the catfish a chance to eat without other fish grabbing their food.

49. Glass catfish

glass cleaner - Kryptopterus vitreolus
  • Science name: Kryptopterus vitreolus
  • Common names: Glass catfish, glass catfish, ma
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons

Glass cleaner fish is a very unique fish, without scales, dorsal fins and all pigments on the body. They can see through like jellyfish, except for their bones. While this may surprise some people, most find it extremely appealing.

Glass catfish require a field of 6 or more and do best in heavily planted and heavily decorated aquariums. They have a tantalizing nature, and without the right amount of hiding places, they will often get stressed, especially in a community tank.

These catfish are more sensitive to fluctuations in water parameters, mainly hardness and pH, so make sure they acclimate to new habitats more slowly than others.

Also, large water changes above 50% can cause undue stress, so it's best to do about 30% weekly, depending on your nitrate levels.

They are not picky eaters, nor do they have any other complicated requirements, so a dedicated beginner will be able to successfully raise this unique species.

50. Otocinclus

Catfish Otocinclus in a culture tank
  • Science name: Otocinclus
  • Common names: Otocinclus, Oto, Dwarf Sucker
  • Care difficulty: Intermediate
  • Personality: mild
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons

The Otocinclus catfish, or "Oto" for short, is a small fish that is cream, brown, and black in color, although the pattern depends on the species. These small fellows need to be kept in moderately large schools and a fully established storage tank.

The distinction between a cyclical tank and an established tank is essential for keeping this fish. While a cycled tank can convert ammonia to nitrate quickly, helping to avoid poisoning and killing your fish, a tank set up on a cycle will have high levels of biofilm and harmless algae. . Cycling usually takes about a month, while it usually takes three months to reach a solid tank.

Otters have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria in their gut; They mainly eat plants and algae but cannot digest them. The bacteria will digest it for them, and both species benefit.

However, if otos are placed in a tank with little or no biofilm and algae, the bacteria in their gut will die and the fish will starve.

If your otters are kept in captivity, they are more likely to accept blanched vegetables and algae cakes. However, the majority are wild-caught fish and it will take a few days to a few weeks to acclimate to their new food, so a pre-designed aquarium is required.

Aside from this particular problem, otos are a cheerful, active and very docile little fish so they are the only fish that can be kept with dwarf shrimp.

As long as their tank is cyclical and has stable parameters, anyone can take care of this fish. They can also thrive in a community setting, and you'll find them darting around the tank, from decorative to decorative.

How to set up an aquarium (the right way)


Setting up your aquarium correctly the first time can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Here's our step-by-step beginner's guide to setting up your first aquarium:

Step 1: Collect equipment

Choosing the right equipment is crucial to the success of your tank. Remember not to put fish in a bowl! If you want to purchase a complete kit, we recommend purchasing the Marina 20 Gallon Kit. It contains most of what you need for the tank to work and is much better than other kits on the market.

If you're looking for a more custom setup, here are a few things you'll need:

  • Tank:  A lot of beginners make the mistake of thinking that small tanks are easier. In fact, the water volume is very small in small tanks, so it is difficult to control the water parameters. In my opinion, 20 gallons is the magic number for first-time aquarists – big enough to provide stability, but small enough that it's not an attack.
  • Filter:  Unless you are keeping really tough fish (none of the above), a strainer hanging from the back will be more than enough. I've been using the AquaClear Power Filter for years – it's powerful and fairly quiet compared to other filters on the market.
  • Heaters:  Heaters not only give you precise control of the water temperature in your tank, but also allow you to create a stable environment for your fish. I recommend Cobalt Aquatics NeoTherm.
  • Background: Most of the species on our list do well with plain gravel (the only exception is the Cory Catfish, which requires softer sand).
  • Water conditioner:  Water directly from the faucet is not suitable for aquariums, as it contains chlorine and other harsh chemicals. Conditioning the water removes these toxins and makes your tap water safe for fish.

Step 2: Set up the tank

Now that you have all the right gear, it's time to put everything together! Here are some basic steps to follow when setting things up:

  1. Rinse and lay gravel:  I can't stress that first part enough – don't forget to rinse your gravel. Gravel straight from the bag will create a cloud that is difficult to repair. Drain until the water is clear, then gently place it on the bottom of the tank.
  2. Pour & Dechlorinate:  After the gravel is laid, it's time to refill your tank! Fill the tank with water as lightly as possible. Once full, add the appropriate amount of conditioner according to the instructions of the bottle.
  3.  Aquarium : Now that the tank is filled with dechlorinated water, feel free to let your creative process flow. Add decorations, live/fake plants, air stones or anything else you want.
  4. Heaters, filters, lighting:  Add new heaters, filters, and any other equipment you purchased.

Step 3: Cycle

Cycle is the most important (though also the most overlooked) step in setting up an aquarium. But what exactly is the cycling process?

In a nutshell, the Nitrogen Cycle is the process of forming colonies of beneficial bacteria that convert harmful compounds (ammonia from fish waste and uneaten food) into safer compounds, such as as nitrates.

Without these beneficial bacteria, Ammonia and Nitrite levels in your aquarium would skyrocket – meaning serious problems for any tank inhabitants.

To make this article as short as possible, we won't go through the entire nitrogen cycle completion process in this post. Instead, check out our step-by-step beginner's guide to the nitrogen cycle here.

Step 4: Maintenance

Once your tank goes on cycle and your fish swim happily, all the hard work is done, right? Unfortunately there is no…

To keep your tank healthy, regular maintenance is required. Here are a few things you should do to keep your aquarium running smoothly:

  • Weekly or biweekly water change: Change  Water is a great way to remove unwanted toxins (ammonia, nitrites and nitrates) and bring back vital trace elements for healthy fish. Make sure you always use the water condition for the new water you are adding to your tank.
  • Check regularly:  Checking your water chemistry regularly is the only way you can really  understand what's going on below the surface. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit is the best water tester on the market.
  • Filter cleaning:  A lot of junk tends to build up in the filter (obviously). That said, never wash your filter under the sink faucet. Huge colonies of beneficial bacteria (very important to the health of your tank) living in the filter media will be eliminated by untreated water. Simply rinse the filter sponge in a small cup of water for best results.


Breeding freshwater aquarium fish can be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable hobby – but it certainly comes with a good amount of work. Despite this complete guide, you should be able to choose a great beginner fish and set up your tank the correct way.

Good luck and happy fishing!

I have a Convict Cichlid. He is the only survivor. As you say, he has a tendency to kill his neighbors.
I've had him or her for about 5 years or so. I might try another Cichlid to keep him company.
Maybe not.

Thanks for the good article. It's fun to read. I have learned a lot!

Hi Terry, thanks for the kind words! The Convict Cichlid has a special place in my heart as it was the first species I ever raised. The albino varieties are also very interesting!

Unfortunately, I never had much luck keeping them with other fish – my large male is not too kind to anything I try to keep with him (including females). As you said, many people have had success keeping other large cichlids.

Good luck!

See more: How Long Do Aquarium Fish Live (If You Take Good Care Of Them)

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