Choosing the right aquarium fish for beginners is crucial for a successful and enjoyable fishkeeping experience. In general, the best starter fish are hardy, easy to take care of, and relatively small. Freshwater aquariums are considered easier to maintain than saltwater tanks as well. Here are some popular and easy-to-care-for aquarium fish that are well-suited for beginners:
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Betta fish (Betta splendens) are a popular choice for beginner aquarists because they are beautiful, hardy, and easy to care for. Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, belong to the gourami family and are native to Southeast Asia. They have been selectively bred for their vibrant colors and long, flowing fins. Betta fish can live up to ten years with proper care, but their average lifespan is 2-4 years. They are considered to be relatively adaptable, low-maintenance, friendly, and inexpensive. Betta fish are often kept in smaller aquariums around 5 gallons, making them suitable for beginners with limited space.
Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are good aquarium fish for beginners because they are hardy, adaptable, easy to breed, and peaceful. They can survive in a wide range of water conditions and temperatures, making them suitable for various types of aquariums. They are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. They can reproduce quickly and often, which can be fun and rewarding to watch. They are friendly and active fish that can get along well with other similar-sized fish in a community tank. They also have distinct personalities and behaviors that can make them interesting to observe.
Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei) is a small, colorful freshwater fish that belongs to the same genus as guppies and mollies. They are native to the Paria Peninsula in Venezuela, where they are endangered in the wild due to habitat loss and pollution. However, they are easy to breed and care for in captivity, making them a popular choice for beginner aquarists. Endler’s Livebearers are peaceful and active fish that do well in community tanks with other small, non-aggressive species.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows
White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes) are good aquarium fish for beginners because they are hardy, adaptable, peaceful, easy to feed, and easy to breed. They are hardy because they can tolerate a wide range of water parameters and temperatures, as long as they are kept in clean and well-oxygenated water. Since they are tolerant of colder temperatures, you may be able to keep these fish without a heater. Their ideal temperature range is 18–22 °C (64–72 °F), but they are known to survive temperatures as low as 5 °C (41 °F) for a short period of time.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are one of the most popular and widely kept aquarium fish in the world. They are a member of the carp family and originate from East Asia, where they have been selectively bred for over a thousand years. Goldfish come in many varieties, shapes, colors, and sizes, ranging from the common goldfish to the fancy goldfish with elaborate fins and body forms. Goldfish are generally hardy and adaptable, making them suitable for beginner aquarists.
Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii) are a unique and fascinating fish that can be suitable for beginners if you provide them with the right care and environment. They are hardy, peaceful, and easy to feed. They are shy and nocturnal, so they need plenty of hiding places and plants in the tank. They also prefer a dim or natural lighting cycle. They are social and should be kept in groups of at least three to six. They will feel more comfortable and display more natural behavior in a group.
Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus) are colorful and lively fish that are easy to care for and breed in freshwater aquariums. They are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions and can help keep the tank clean by eating algae. Platies are peaceful fish that get along well with other similar-sized and non-aggressive species. They are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. Platies come in many varieties of colors and patterns, making them attractive and fun to watch.
Swordtails (Xiphophorus hellerii) are good aquarium fish for beginners because they are easy to care for, beautiful to look at, and fun to breed. They are easy to care for because they are hardy and adaptable. They can survive in a wide range of water parameters, as long as the tank has stable pH levels and temperature. They also do not require any special equipment or supplements, except for a heater and a good filter. All they need is regular water changes, a proper diet, and a well-planted tank with lots of room to swim around.
Bristlenose Plecostomus (Ancistrus sp.) are a type of freshwater catfish that have bristle-like appendages on their faces. They are popular among beginner aquarium fish owners because they are easy to care for, peaceful, and help control algae growth. They can grow up to 5 inches in length and live for 5 to 15 years. They prefer a tank size of at least 30 gallons, with sand or gravel substrate, driftwood, rocks, plants, and a strong filter. They are omnivorous and need a diet rich in vegetable matter, such as algae wafers, fresh vegetables, and occasional meaty foods.
The Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) is a colorful freshwater fish that belongs to the cichlid family. It is native to the upper Madeira river basin in Bolivia and Brazil, where it lives in warm, soft, and slightly acidic water. The Bolivian ram is a peaceful and social fish that can be kept in a community tank with other small and non-aggressive species. It prefers a tank with a sandy substrate, plenty of plants, driftwood, and rocks to provide hiding places and spawning sites. The tank size should be at least 20 gallons.
Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) are freshwater fish that belong to the cichlid family. They are popular among aquarium hobbyists because of their unique shape and variety of colors and patterns. Angelfish are generally peaceful, but they can become territorial and aggressive when they pair up and breed. They can grow up to 6 inches long and 8 inches tall, so they need a spacious and well-planted tank with gentle water flow. Angelfish are omnivorous and will accept a range of foods, including flakes, pellets, live and frozen foods. They are one of the easiest cichlids to keep and breed, and they can add beauty and personality to a community aquarium.
Siamese Algae Eater
The Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus oblongus) is a freshwater fish that belongs to the carp family. It is native to Southeast Asia, where it lives in rivers, streams, and flooded forests. It is a bottom-dwelling fish that feeds on algae and other plant matter. The Siamese Algae Eater is a popular choice for aquarium hobbyists because it helps to control algae growth in the tank. It is also a peaceful and social fish that can get along with most other community fish. It can grow up to 6 inches in length and has a gold/grey body with a black stripe along its side.
Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius) is a small, colorful freshwater fish that makes an excellent pet for beginner aquarists. These fish are known for their peaceful nature and sociable behavior, making them ideal companions in the home aquarium. They are also quite hardy and can adapt to a wide range of water conditions. Dwarf Gouramis need a tank of at least 10 gallons, with a dark substrate, live plants, and gentle water flow. They prefer a water temperature of 72–82°F (22–28°C), a pH of 6–8, and soft to hard water. They are omnivorous and will accept a variety of foods, such as flakes, pellets, frozen, and live foods. They can be kept in a community tank with other peaceful and small fish, but avoid fin-nippers or aggressive species.
Tetras are a group of small, colorful, and active fish that are popular among beginner aquarium hobbyists. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter, and they prefer to live in schools of six or more of their own species. Tetras are native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Africa, and Asia, and they thrive in slightly acidic water with a temperature of around 78°F. There are many different species of tetras, and many are good fish for beginners. Here are some of the best types of Tetra fish for beginners:
- Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
- Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
- Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)
- Red Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)
- Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus)
- Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae)
- Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus)
- Black Skirt Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)
- Pristella Tetra (Pristella maxillaris)
Corydoras are a genus of small, peaceful, and hardy catfish that are popular among beginner aquarium hobbyists. They come in many different species, colors, and patterns, and can grow from approximately 1 to 3 inches in length. They are bottom dwellers that use their whiskers to scavenge for food, and they prefer smooth sand or gravel as a substrate. They are social fish that like to live in groups of at least six of the same species, and they can coexist well with other friendly and docile fish. Here are some of the best types of Corydoras for beginners:
- Bronze Corydoras (Corydoras aeneus)
- Panda Corydoras (Corydoras panda)
- Emerald Green Corydoras (Corydoras splendens)
- Julii Corydoras (Corydoras julii)
- Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus)
Danios are a group of small, colorful, and hardy freshwater fish that belong to the family Cyprinidae. They are native to South and Southeast Asia, and are popular among beginner aquarists because they can tolerate a wide range of water conditions and temperatures. Danios are also active and peaceful fish that do well in community tanks with other similar-sized species. Most danios are surface-oriented and prefer to swim in schools of at least four. There are many types of danios available, and here are some of the best species for beginners:
- Zebra Danio (Danio rerio)
- Giant Danio (Devario aequipinnatus)
- Pearl Danio (Danio albolineatus)
- Rosy Danio (Danio roseus)
- Glowlight Danio (Danio choprae)
Rasboras are small, colorful, and peaceful fish that belong to the Cyprinidae family. They are native to various parts of Southeast Asia, where they inhabit freshwater streams and rivers. Rasboras are popular among beginner aquarists because they are hardy, active, and easy to care for. They also make great additions to community tanks, as they get along well with other peaceful fish of similar size. Among many, here’s a short list of beginner friendly Rasbora species:
- Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)
- Chili Rasbora (Boraras Brigittae)
- Brilliant Rasbora (Rasbora Einthovenii)
- Dwarf Rasbora (Boraras maculatus)
- Lambchop Rasbora (Trigonostigma espei)
- Neon Green Rasbora (Rasbora kubotai)
- Scissortail Rasbora (Rasbora trilineata)
Barbs are a group of freshwater fish from the cyprinid family, which are native to Asia and Africa. They are usually small to medium-sized, colorful, and active. Some barbs are peaceful and suitable for community tanks, while others are semi-aggressive and may nip the fins of other fish. Barbs are generally hardy and easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginner aquarium keepers. They are omnivorous and will accept a variety of foods, including flakes, pellets, live, and frozen foods. Some of the most popular types of barbs for beginners include the following:
- Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona)
- Odessa Barb (Pethia padamya)
- Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)
- Rosy Barb (Pethia conchonius)
- Gold Barb (Barbodes semifasciolatus)