Ready to set up your home aquarium with a host of gorgeously colorful fish? While it can be fun to select the coolest freshwater fish based on looks alone, there’s a lot more to each species than meets the eye. It’s important to understand the needs and characteristics of each fish before adding them to your aquarium to make sure that they get along and are happy in their new home.
To help you choose, this guide outlines the best freshwater fish for aquariums. With facts about their diet, environmental preferences, and space requirements, it’s a great starting place to turn your aquatic dreams into reality.
Small and adorable, guppies are a beginner’s favorite. They are one of the easiest freshwater fish to take care of and come in a variety of colors. Typically, guppies grow to be less than 2 inches in length, so you can have a good-sized group of at least five in your aquarium.
The rule of thumb for guppies is to have 1 gallon of water per inch of fish and a 1:2 male-to-female ratio if you plan to breed them. Guppies breed quickly, so if you don’t want more of them, it’s best to stick to one gender. In terms of the tank environment, guppies appreciate plenty of vegetation in their tank to hide and rest in.
2. Neon Tetra
Next on our freshwater aquarium fish list is the small and sweet Neon Tetra. Characteristically, they have blue bodies with a red stripe and hover around 2 inches in length, like guppies. They are known for being easy freshwater fish who enjoy hiding among rocks and plants in their aquarium.
As far as how many to put in your tank, it’s recommended that you keep tetras in groups of at least six. This way, they can school together and feel more secure.
Is there a more iconic easy freshwater fish than goldfish? Originally from East Asia, they have been kept as pets for over a thousand years! They are members of the carp family and are closely related to koi fish. While the name suggests that they are always gold, they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including orange, red, yellow, white, and black.
Goldfish can grow quite large, up to 14 inches in length in the wild, and can live for up to 30 years with proper care. It’s recommended to have at least a 20-gallon tank for your goldfish. Hardy, easy to care for, and beautiful to look at, it’s no wonder so many people love goldfish!
4. Black Molly
A type of molly fish, the peaceful Black Molly is another easy freshwater fish to take care of. They are native to the freshwaters of Central and South America and very popular in aquariums. They are known for their sleek, streamlined bodies, long, flowing fins, and shiny black color.
Capable of adapting to a range of water conditions, mollies are easy to care for. They can grow to be about 3-5 inches in length and can live for up to 4 years with proper care. Like other molly fish, black mollies are livebearers, which means they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. They also are omnivorous – like us, they can eat plants and animals.
Native to the freshwaters of Australia, New Guinea, and the surrounding regions, beautiful Rainbowfish are known for their bright colors and iridescent scales that resemble a rainbow. Like guppies and tetras, these easy-to-care-for freshwater fish typically grow to be only about 2-3 inches in length. Highly sociable, they do best when kept in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. They are a peaceful species and can be kept with other peaceful fish, such as tetras and livebearers like mollies.
6. Betta Fish
Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are native to the freshwaters of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They’re one of the most stunning types of fish for freshwater aquariums and are known for their vibrant colors and flowing fins. They typically grow to be around 2-3 inches in length, but despite being small, they are statement-makers. However, while beautiful, they are known for being aggressive and territorial, so they should be kept alone or with other non-aggressive fish.
They are also sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality, so proper care and maintenance is essential for their health and well-being. Bettas love to hide among live plants, so adding some to your aquarium is highly recommended!
These are just a few of the best freshwater aquarium fish – but there are plenty more fish in the sea! Do some research, decide what is most important to you, and opt for the species that fits your lifestyle best. Be sure to consider factors such as compatibility, tank and stand size, and water parameters before selecting from a freshwater fish list.
A successful aquarium requires ongoing maintenance and dedication, but the rewards of having a flourishing environment can be incredibly rewarding. Once you’ve decided on your preferred type of fish, take a look at all the options of aquariums and aquarium stands to set up the best possible home for your new pets.
If you have cats, dogs, or birds, keep in mind that keeping your aquarium out of reach is very important to protect your fish. With easy-to-care-for freshwater fish in your tank, you can enjoy hours of fish-watching for years to come!