Freshwater Fish for Beginners

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    Some aquarium fish species are particularly easy to care for. They are well suited for a beginner’s community tank where pH ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 and temperature is maintained between 75 and 79°F.


    Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) needs a well-established aquarium with constant water conditions. They cannot tolerate extreme fluctuations in water quality and temperature. Once you establish your aquarium and water quality remains constant, you can introduce this species. These are placid fish that require tall decorations (such as plants) where they will stay quietly. They are best kept in small groups of 4 to 6 with other even-tempered fish, such as Neon Tetras and Black Mollies. It can grow up to 6 inches long and will eat small fish at this size.

    Black Molly

    Black Molly (Poecilia sphenops) is actually a hybrid of the original variety, the Mexican Molly. This species is another livebearer that is gentle and is basically a vegetable eater. Like the Swordtail, the Molly will consume aquarium algae, keeping it in check. This species is lively and prefers schooling in small groups of four to six members. Although not as hardy as other livebearers, the Molly prospers if aquarium conditions are kept constant.

    Clown Loach

    The Clown Loach (Botia macracanthus) is a uniquely colorful species of Loach. It has barbels like the catfish and the same bottom cleaning propensity. It is recommended that you keep several young as a school, but only 1 mature adult in your aquarium.

    Common hatchetfish 

    The Common hatchetfish (Gasteropelecus sternicla) is a surface dweller that needs to be kept in schools of at least 6. All Hatchets are excellent jumpers, so be sure to keep the hood in place on the tank. A few floating plants will provide adequate cover for these gentle fish.

    Corydoras Catfish

    Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras species) are very similar to one another and come in many varieties. They are generally very hardy fish that feed on the substrate with their whiskerlike barbels. These fish have a flat bottom so they can stay close to the substrate. They tend to be nocturnal, going about their cleaning business at night. They like to live with others of their species, so keep 3 to 5 together. Their diet should be augmented with other foods.

    Flying Fox 

    Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus) is a loner, so it does not require a company of others of its kind.

    Glass Catfish

    Glass Catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis) is one of the few aquarium catfish that does not inhabit the tank bottom. Like other midwater fish, this schooling species should be placed with at least 4 of its peers. This species has a transparent body. Can be sometimes difficult to acclimate to the aquarium.

    Green Swordtail

    (Xiphophorus hellerii) is another popular community fish because it breeds readily in captivity. Since the males tend to harass females, it is best to have the females outnumber the males. These fish breed every 28 days at 74°F. As with the Guppy, dense vegetation provides cover for developing fry. Another benefit of this species is its tendency to consume algae.


    Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is a definite favorite among beginners because it is a very hardy fish that gives birth to live young every month. The male is very colorful, with ornate fins; females are dull in coloration. These fish are vigorous, schooling swimmers and prefer small groups of four to six. Provide plenty of cover and floating plants and you may be able to successfully raise the fry.

    Red Rasbora 

    Red Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) is a popular schooling species which requires a group of 8 or more fish to be at its best. Because of its size (2 inches), it should be kept with other equally small and peaceful species. Egglaying species of Rasboras are not as easy to breed as the Barbs, but they are extremely peaceful.

    Red-tailed Shark

    This species is known for its aggressive behavior. It is, however, a very popular community tank fish. It is best to keep a solitary individual in your tank because these fish occupy territories that they will defend against members of their own species. Only put them together with fast, small fish or with easygoing larger fish.

    Rosy Barb

    Rosy Barb (Puntius conchonius). Barbs get their name from the short threadlike barbels that act as sensory organs on either side of their mouths and sometimes on their lips. Their vigor and agility in the midwater of the tank are important to the vitality of your aquarium. Many barbs, however, can harm smaller fish with ornate, veil-like fins. The Rosy Barb is a very peaceful species that adapts well to other community fish.

    Siamese Fighting Fish

    The Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens) is a beautiful labyrinth fish. Only 1 male can be kept in an aquarium, otherwise vicious fighting will occur; duels between males can result in death. Males are usually peaceful with other species, unless they have similar fin veils.

    Southern Platy 

    Southern Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus) belongs to the same family as the Swordtail and is, therefore, a very close relative. Some consider it to be the ideal community fish. As with most livebearers, many color varieties have been commercially bred for the home aquarium.

    Three spot gourami

    Three spot gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus) and its relatives are peaceful labyrinth fish that do not need to be kept in groups but do quite well in pairs. They should not be mixed with fin nippers, such as Tiger Barbs. The Gouramis will swim among the bottom decorations and make frequent excursions to the surface.

    Tiger Barb

    The Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona) has a bi wilder disposition if introduced singly or as a pair, but if kept in schools of 8 or more, they leave the other fish alone. This species prefers warmer water in the range of 68 to 79°F., however is capable of tolerating a wide range of temperatures. Like other midwater fish, this species should be kept in a school of 6 or more. Related species are also peaceful schooling fish that contribute greatly to a community tank.

    White Cloud Mountain Minnow

    The White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is a very undemanding, active fish that should be kept in a group of 8 or more. These peaceful fish prefer cooler water and should only be kept in temperatures less than 72°F.

    Zebra Danio (Zebrafish)

    Danios are very active schooling fish that should be kept in groups of at least 7 or 8.

    Video Credits: Aquarium Co-Op
    Image Credits: azees math


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