10 Best Aquarium Fish For Beginners

10 Best Aquarium Fish for Beginners If you’re getting into freshwater aquariums for the first time, it can be intimidating to know which fish to pick. Ideally, you want something hardy, budget-friendly, and colorful with …


10 Best Aquarium Fish for Beginners

If you’re getting into freshwater aquariums for the first time, it can be intimidating to know which fish to pick. Ideally, you want something hardy, budget-friendly, and colorful with an interesting personality. Check out our list of top 10 beginner fish (in no particular order) that are easy to care for and would make a great addition to your aquarium!

1. Rasboras

There are many types and varieties of rasboras. Our favorites are the Trigonostigma heteromorpha harlequin or lambchop rasbora and Trigonostigma espei lambchop. These peaceful nanofish are well-known for their bright orange coloration, distinctive black triangular patches, and they can be purchased in most pet shops. There are also the microdevario macro-green rasbora and the larger scissortail (Rasbora Trilineata) rasboras. A school of six or more of the same species of rasbora will make an impressive display in your community tank. Our full care guide contains more information on how to care for your rasboras.

2. Common Goldfish

Veteran fish keepers warn novices to avoid goldfish due to their size. However, they are a great choice for beginners as they are resilient and easy to take care of. Common goldfish (Carassius auratus), can grow up to 12 to 14 inches. This means that they need 30 gallons of fresh water (or two goldfish in 55-gallon aquariums). After they reach adult size, many people put their goldfish into outdoor ponds. They enjoy eating Repashy Super Gold, spirulina algae and vegetables.

Although they are very patient with water parameters like pH and hardness, goldfish require frequent water changes to maintain their tanks clean. An aquarium with only one species is preferable, as they will eat any animal or plant that fits in their mouths.

3. Tetras

Like rasboras, tetras are another very popular, small schooling fish that come in tons of varieties – like neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi), cardinal tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi), black neon tetras (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi), and Congo tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus). They’re pretty easy to care for and prefer neutral pH waters from 7.0 to 7.8 (usually on the higher side for African tetras and lower for wild-caught South American tetras). As with most schooling fish, keep them in groups of six or more because they enjoy safety in numbers. Tetras are great with rasboras, and other community fish. You can find more information in our cardinal tetra and neon tetra guides.

4. Corydoras

Cory catfish, a peaceful, schooling fish that looks a lot like tetras and rasboras, live at the bottom of your aquarium. They can grow to just one to three inches long and love to scour the aquarium floor for food crumbs. However, you need to feed them specific sinking foods so they receive enough nutrition.

Over 160 species have been identified so far, but the most popular species include the bronze and albino cory (Corydoras aeneus), panda cory (Corydoras panda), and emerald green cory (Corydoras splendens). Keep them in a group of at least three to six of the same species to best enjoy their silly antics. Read our cory catfish care manual to learn more.

5. Platies

These 3-inch livebearers (meaning fish that bear live young) are especially robust, even more so than guppies. They can handle a wide range of pH from 7.0 and higher and tend to prefer harder waters. Plus, platies are voracious eaters and will eat nearly any omnivore community food you throw at them. We love the variatus platy (Xiphophorus variatus), so be sure to check them!

6. Betta Fish

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 using a gentle filter, or in a group of fish in a 10-gallon or larger tanks. You should not keep them with any other betta fish. Their nickname is “Siamese fighting Fish” because of their tendency to fight. Corydoras, tetras and peaceful creatures make good tank mates. But avoid any fish that might nip the fins. They love betta pellets and frozen bloodworms. Our guide will show you how to create a beautiful betta tank.

7. Barbs

Barbs can be a vibrant, energetic addition to your community tank. The most common barbs grow to 3-4 inches in length and are Odessa barbs, tiger barbs (Puntigrus Tetrazona), and cherry barbs. Some species are semi-aggressive so we recommend that you buy six or more to decrease fin nipping. The rasboras are corydoras as well as tetras and corydoras. But avoid long-finned fish such angelfishes and bettas.

8. Bolivian Cichlids

The Bolivian ram (Mikrogeophagus alpinusus) is a great beginner cichlid. It’s very similar in appearance to their more colorful, but less tough cousins, the German Ram. The three-inch long cichlids make a wonderful centerpiece fish in a medium-sized community aquarium. They can be kept at three inches because of their unusual cichlid behavior, yellow/black coloration and easy breeding. Bolivian rams can be kept with almost any fish in a community aquarium that meets their requirements. They are tolerant to pH levels between 7.0 and 8.0, as well as temperatures between 72 and 79degF.

9. Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli loaches, or Pangio kuhlii, will amaze or scare you. 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. Like corydoras, these bottom dwellers scavenge for leftovers on the ground and between rocks, but you must specifically feed them to make sure they don’t go hungry. Learn more about them in the kuhli locach care guide.

10. Angelfish

The striking angelfish is a stunning specimen due to their unique shape, distinct fins and beautiful striped pattern. Since they can grow to the size of a small saucer, keep them in 55 or more gallons of water (especially in vertically tall tanks). This showpiece cichlid can be kept with rasboras, Tetras, and other community fish. But it is best to just keep one because they will not fight for territorial rights. Marble, veil angelfish, koi and zebra are all common varieties.

All these fish are easy to care and hardy.