It can be difficult to choose the right fish for your first freshwater aquarium. You want something sturdy, affordable, colorful, and with a unique personality. That why we cover Best Aquarium Fish for Beginners in the current post.
You can check out our top 10 beginner fish list (in no particular order). They are very easy to care for and make great additions to any aquarium.
Aquarium Fish for Beginners
1. Rasboras Aquarium Fish for Beginners
There are many types, but we love the harlequin ( Trigonostigma homomorpha) or lambchop ( Trigonostigma spei).
These peaceful nano fish are well-known for their bright orange coloration and distinctive black triangular pattern. They can be found in pet shops and grow up to two inches in length.
Other rasboras are the tiny neon green rasbora and larger scissortail Rasbora .
A school of six or more of the same species will make a stunning display in your community tank. Learn more about caring for your rasboras.
Goldfish can get very large and are a good choice for beginners. However, veterans warn fish keepers not to keep them.
Common goldfish ( Carassius auroratus), grow to 12-14 inches. They require 30 gallons of water for each fish (or two goldfish in an aquarium 55-gallon).
After they are grown, many people put their goldfish into outdoor ponds. They enjoy eating vegetables, Repashy and other foods high in carbohydrate and low in protein.
Although they are very patient with water parameters like pH and hardness, goldfish require frequent water changes to maintain their tanks clean.
It is preferable to have a single species aquarium, as they will eat all animals and plants that are available.
3. Tetras Aquarium Fish for Beginners
Tetras are another popular small-schooling fish, like rasboras. They come in many varieties, including neon tetras Paracheirodon Innesi, cardinal tetras , black neon tetras , and Congo tetras Phenacogrammus intermitus.
They are easy to take care of and prefer neutral pH water from 7.0 to 7.8 (usually higher for African tetras, and lower for wild-caught South American Tetras).
Keep them in groups of six to eight, as they are more comfortable in large numbers than with other schooling fish. Tetras are great with rasboras, and other community fish. You can find more information in our neon Tetra and cardinal Tetra guides.
4. Corydoras Aquarium Fish for Beginners
Cory catfish, which are peaceful schooling fish, are similar to rasboras or tetras but they live at the bottom.
They can grow to up to 3 inches in length and love to scavenge on the tank floor looking for crumbs. However, you need to feed them a variety sinking food to ensure they are getting enough nutrition.
There are over 160 species. The most common species are the bronze and albino Corydoras , panda Corydoras Panda and the emerald corydoras splendens .
To enjoy their playful antics, keep them in a group with at least three to six other species. Learn more about cory catsfish care guide.
5. Platies Aquarium Fish for Beginners
These 3 inch livebearers, which means fish that bear young, are more robust than guppies. They are able to handle pH levels from 7.0 to higher, but prefer hard water.
Platies are also voracious eaters, and will eat almost any omnivore food you give them. We love the varitus platy ( , Xiphophorus variatus), so be sure to check them!
6. Betta Fish Aquarium Fish for Beginners
Because of their bright colors, small size and easy care requirements, betta fish are the best beginner fish. You can keep them alone in a 5-gallon aquarium or in a group with other fish in a 10-gallon or larger tanks.
They should not be kept with other betta fish, as their nickname is “Siamese Fighting Fish”. Corydoras and tetras are good tank mates. However, avoid any fish that could nip their fins.
They eat betta pellets and frozen bloodworms. Our guide will show you how to create a beautiful Betta fish tank.
7. Barbs Aquarium Fish for Beginners
Barbs are a fun, active addition to any community tank. The most common varieties are the tiger barbs ( Puntigrus Tetrazona). They can grow to 3-4 inches in height.
Odessa barbs are Pethiapadamya, and cherry barbs are Puntius Titteya. We recommend purchasing six or more species to reduce fin nipping. Corydoras and tetras make great tank mates. However, angelfish and betta fish are best avoided.
8. Bolivian Cichlids Aquarium Fish for Beginners
The Mikrogeophagus Altispinosus Bolivian Ram is a great beginner cichlid. It’s very similar in appearance to their more colorful, but less tough cousins, the German Ram.
They are three inches in length and make great fish for a medium-sized community aquarium due to their unique cichlid behavior and yellow and black coloration.
Bolivian rams are tolerant to pH levels between 7.0 and 8.0, as well as temperatures between 72 and 79 degrees F. They can be kept with almost any fish in the same community that meets these requirements.
9. Kuhli Loaches Aquarium Fish for Beginners
You will be either fascinated or scared by Kuhli loaches ( Pangio.kuhlii). They look like tiny 4-inch eels and snakes. They are nocturnal fish and tend to hide behind decor. Keep them in groups of three to six to make it easier for them to explore the outdoors.
These bottom dwellers, like corydoras and corydoras scavenge leftovers between rocks and on the ground. However, you must feed them specifically to ensure they don’t become hungry. You can read more about them in the Kuhli Loach care guide.
10. Angelfish Aquarium Fish for Beginners
The striking angelfish is a stunning specimen due to their unique shape, distinct fins and beautiful striped pattern. They can reach the size of small saucers, so keep them in 55 gallons or more of water (especially in tall vertical tanks).
The large, showpiece cichlid is a good choice for rasboras and tetras. However, it’s better to keep one than to risk territorial fighting between their species. Marble, veil angelfish, koi and zebra are all common varieties.
These beginner fish are all hardy and easy to care for. They can be found at your local fish shop. Have fun looking for your next fish and choosing the best one for you.