12 Freshwater Fish For Your Fish Tank

Starting an aquarium is easy. All you need is a fish tank, water, substrate, plants, and a few beginner fish. Here are the best freshwater fish for beginners:

Things To Consider When Choosing Freshwater Fish

Aquarium Type

Before buying fish, make sure you know what type of tank you plan to keep. Some varieties include: tropical community, goldfish aquarium, and cichlid tank are a few. Some freshwater fish do better in one tank as opposed to another. For example, you should not put shrimp in a cichlid tank or goldfish in a tropical community tank.

Tank Size

If you want to get fish for your aquarium, you need to think about: 

How much space there is for them all depends on what size tank you have. It is crucial to keep the number of fish in your tank low. If they are too many, then the water quality and the health of your tank will suffer. 

Think about how freshwater aquarium fish interact with one another. Is there enough room to avoid confrontations? Some fish are territorial. They will protect their place in the tank. There will be fighting when there are too many fish in the tank, and some fish might get hurt.

Tankmates

Choosing the right fish is only one part of the battle. You need to make sure that they are compatible living in your tank. Some fish are quiet, while others can be aggressive. Some fish are more aggressive than other types of fish. Some fish act more aggressively when there is another type of fish in the tank. Before you put different species together, ask someone at the store if they are good tankmates before you buy them.

Feeding

It is crucial to provide your fish with enough food. Different species of fish need different kinds of food. You should not feed them too much or too little. If they don’t have enough to eat, they might fight with each other. If they have too much to eat, it can lead to health issues.

Too much food can also cause the organic materials in the tank to build up. When they are high, it can cause ammonia spikes and nitrate buildup. The organic buildup makes water quality worse over time. It affects all aquatic life and not in a good way.

Popular Freshwater Fish Species – Beginner Friendly-Fish

Guppies

Guppies.
Guppies

Guppy fish come from the Amazon River. They are among the top 5 most popular pet fish. Guppies are livebearers. The fry develops in their mother’s tummy and is alive at birth. They do not lay eggs. These fish are calm and get along well with other peaceful fish. They do best in a tropical aquarium setup.

Corydoras

Cory Catfish eating algae.
Cory Catfish eating algae.

The Cory Catfish is another popular freshwater aquarium fish to add to a beginner’s tank. A Cory Catfish is an excellent fish to have if you have a low-tech tank. They are calm and don’t attack other fish. These fish can live in both planted and non-planted fish tanks. Cory Catfish seem to like living in a tank with lots of plants.

White Cloud Minnow

Beginner fish, White Cloud Minnow swimming against soft green plant background.
Aquarium fish White Cloud Mountain minnow swimming against soft green plants background. Detailed fish pattern. macro nature concept. soft focus photo

White Cloud Minnows are great fish for beginners. They are hardy fish so they can live in different water temperatures and water quality. They are schooling freshwater fish and thrive in groups of 6 or more minnows. If they are alone, they will become stressed and lose their bright colors.

Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios

Zebra danios are a popular fish for beginners. Not only are they attractive and hardy fish, but they are also easy to care for. They have a striped zebra pattern hence the name. Zebra danios grow best in schools of 6 or more. They usually swim around the upper areas of the fish tank.

Rasboras

Rasboras
Rasboras

Rasboras are bright, orange-colored fish. They have a patch of black coloring on the lower back end of their bodies. They are nano fish which means they grow to about 2-inches in length, perfect for size for nano aquariums.

Swordtails

Swordtail fish.
Swordtail fish.

Swordtails are super hardy fish, so they thrive in almost any fish tank. They have a bright orange color and have a long bottom fin that resembles a sword. Though males can become aggressive toward each other, swordtails do well in groups of 5 or more. Be aware that the males will fight with each other and put on a display.

Betta

Betta fish.
Betta fish.

Not the usual beginner fish, but bettas make good fish keep once kept by themselves. They have beautiful flowing fins that can be of several striking colors. The only thing you need to keep a betta happy is a 5-gallon tank (bigger recommended) and a heater. These freshwater aquarium fish are carnivores, so feed them freeze-dried and live foods. If you don’t mind any of those things, bettas are a great freshwater fish for beginners.

Platies

Platies
Platies

Platies are great hardy fish that get along with other non-aggressive fish in a community tank. They also eat most types of food, including freeze-dried and flake feed. And, if your tank suffers from algae, platies will often eat the algae off plants and the tank glass. Platy fish come in a variety of colors.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco
Bristlenose Pleco

The Bristlenose Pleco or Bushynose Pleco is another hardy freshwater fish. Like Corydoras, they scavenge the bottom of the tank in search of leftover food and algae. All you need is a large tank and hiding spots in the tank to make them happy. They prefer caves, driftwood, and logs. They grow to about 6 inches in length.

Tetras

Neon Tetras
Neon Tetras

Tetras are also popular starter fish. Neon tetras and cardinal tetras are the most common types of tetras kept in aquariums. They are easy to care for, thrive in groups of 5 or more, and get along with other peaceful fish.

Otocinclus Catfish

Oto Catfish
Otocinclus Catfish

An Otocinclus Catfish is a popular freshwater aquarium fish that helps control algae. It can eat soft algae, but it is not the answer to an algae problem. Do not keep Otocinclus Catfish should in tanks to make the algae go away. These are small and need a safe place to live. They like tanks with plants and a stable environment. Otocinclus Catfish need stable tank conditions with little to no changes in water parameters and temperature.

Jack Dempsey Cichlid

Jack Dempsey Cichlid
Jack Dempsey Cichlid

The name for this fish is from the boxer, Jack Dempsey. These fish are aggressive and excitable. Jack Dempsey Cichlids eat worms, crustaceans, insects, and fish. The Jack Dempsey fish is native to a tropical environment. It prefers water with a pH of 6-7, a water hardness of 9-20 dGH, and a temperature range of 22–30 °C (72–86 °F). Males can reach up to 10 inches in length.