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Are you looking to get into freshwater fish keeping? If yes, then you are in the right place. Fish-keeping, in general, is an interesting and enjoyable hobby that does not need a lot of effort. By doing research, you are on the right track in the process of fish keeping. It is important to have some knowledge about fish-keeping and know what is needed and what you should expect. Most starters get into the fish-keeping business without prior knowledge and just buy any fish without some knowledge on how to deal with the fish. This fish will later die because the owner will unknowingly provide the wrong condition or diet.

Tahir mq, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In this guide, we are going to discuss a few freshwater fish species for both beginners and experts. Also, we will give you a brief description so that you know what to expect and the requirements to keep them.


The mollies are a great choice of fish to keep in your aquarium, and they make a great choice for both beginners and experts. The process of taking care of these fish is easy, and they also look great in the tank. This fish is generally peaceful, and they make great community fish, and this means they will not bother other species in the same tank.

If they are placed in the same tank with the tank mates that are not peaceful, they will start to get aggressive towards them. Therefore it is important to ensure that you place them in the same tank with peaceful species to avoid conflict. This fish is an omnivore which implies that they feed on both the plant and fresh matter. One of the great choices of food for this fish is the worms, but you should also include some plant matter such as algae to supplement the diet. You can also give them some vegetables but ensure that they are sliced into small pieces so that they are easy to swallow.

The molies are generally small fish that grow to an average size of 4.5 inches when fully grown. You can therefore put several of them in the small tank, and they will fit comfortably. This makes them feel more at home when they have other mollies in the same tank. Under optimal care, this fish can live for up to 5 years.


Among the fish enthusiasts, the Guppy fish is a popular fish since it does not need a lot of specialized care. The only requirement is a simple freshwater aquarium that is planted and has substrate. This fish originated from South America and was discovered in 1866. They are also known as the Million Fish. This species comes in varying colors and variations. Some will be red, gray, or blue, and many other versions in the market. They also have different shapes of tails, and this varies with the type. One thing that stands out among all the types is their beauty in the aquarium.

The guppies are generally peaceful, and they will co-exist with other tank mates without bothering them. They will spend most part of the day swimming. If you find your puppy is sitting in a corner or hidden place or without any movement for a long period, this means they could be sick or stressed. The Guppies are generally small, and they need a small tank of approximately 10 gallons, and they will be comfortable.


The Cory Catfish, also known as Corydoras, is popular fish among the fish keepers. One of the main reason why most keepers have a tone of more Cory catfish in their tank is that they feed on the algae, which help to clean the tank. They are used as aquarium cleaners for the bottom. This species spends most of their time at the bottom of the tank as they scavenge for the algae and the leftover foods. One Cory can clean up to a 30 gallons tank by itself.

This fish is a community fish that peacefully co-exist with other species in the tank. It is best to keep multiple of them so that they can fully clean the tank. This fish is mainly active during the day, but in rare cases, they are active even during the night. If you are planning to keep corries, you need at least a 10 gallons tank.


Swordtail Fish is a big family of different fishes since they come in different shapes and colors. One of the outstanding aspects of this fish is the sword-like tail which is common in all the versions, and that is where the name is derived from. They are popular and preferred by many people since the process of taking care of them is easy and has fewer headaches.

This fish does not grow to a big size, and therefore the ideal tank size is around 15 gallons. They love swimming and will swim a lot, and this size will be sufficient. The Swordtails are jumpers, and it is, therefore, advisable to cover the top side with a lid. The average temperature of water in the aquarium should be between 65 to 82 degrees F, and you should avoid sudden changes.

This fish is an omnivore, and the feeding process is quite easy. You can feed them on flake foods, worms, and shrimps. You can supplement this by feeding them vegetables.


The Platy fish is easy to take care of, and this makes them an ideal choice for beginners. They look good, especially in a community tank, as a result of their peaceful nature. They have an average lifespan of 5 years under optimal conditions. This species is small fish, and they grow to a maximum size of 3 inches. Just like the guppies, this species comes in many different colorations, and this gives you an opportunity to choose.

Most Platies are Omnivores, and this implies that they feed on both fresh-based and plant-based matter. You should ensure that you balance the diet. The vegetables need to be the bigger part with some small component of fresh. In the wild, these fish feed on many things, but they mainly feed on herbivorous foods. To ensure that this species remains happy in the aquarium, keep some aquarium plants that provide some hiding spots and bring the natural feeling in the tank.


The Angelfish is one of the most beautiful freshwater fish you can get yourself for the aquarium. It comes in different colors, shapes, and sizes. This fish originates from many rives in South America. They prefer living in slow-moving waters that are full of driftwoods and other great hiding spots. You, therefore, need to provide some hiding spots in your home aquarium. You can put some rocks, caves, and driftwoods.

This fish species is an omnivore, and this means they can be fed in different food items, both plant, and meat-based. Some of the ideal food choices include flakes and worms. You can also feed them on simple vegetables that are sliced into small pieces. This fish should not be kept in the same tank with smaller species since they might eat them. This is the first thing you need to consider when choosing the tank mates.


The tetra fish is a big bunch of different versions of the small species of Tetras. They come in different types, such as Neon Tetras, Rosy Tetras Penguin Tetras, among others. One of the most common versions that are preferred by most aquarists is the Neon Tetra. This is a small fish that grows to an average size of 1.5 inches in length. Despite the size, this species is among the most beautiful freshwater species known. They also have a long lifespan of 8 years compared to the other fish species.

This species is a schooling fish, and they like spending most of their time swimming together around the aquarium. They thrive best in a community tank due to their peaceful nature. They should be kept with other small fish to avoid getting eaten by larger species.


The Gourami is another big family of freshwater fishes. They are many in different versions, and most work best in freshwater indoor aquariums. If you are planning to add this species to your tank, you will need a small or a bigger tank, depending on the version you want. For instance, the dwarf Gourami is a small version and will comfortably live in a 10 gallons tank, and there are other big species that will need a 30 or 40 gallons tank.

This fish species loves living in a heavily planted aquarium. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the aquarium is well planted with some tall plants that touch the water surface. This will mimic the natural habitat, and the fish will feel at home. The males are very aggressive towards each other, and therefore, you should not keep two males in the same tank to avoid confrontations. Only one male should be kept with several females in the same tank.


The Danios are a bigger family of freshwater fish. They come in different versions. Some of the popular ones include Queen Danios, Zebra Danios, Pearl Danios, among others. Let us focus on the common one, which is the Zebra Danios. This fish grows to an average size of 2 inches, and therefore they need at least 10 gallons tank. They are small and peaceful, and this makes them the ideal choice for most keepers and also makes them a great choice for community aquariums.

Different from the other fishes, this species thrives best under colder waters as well as warm ones. Most of the Danios will do well in the aquarium water with an average temperature between 64 to 745 degrees F.  You, therefore, do not need any heater in your tank. However, a filter is needed in their tank. For the Danios to thrive, they need to live in clean water. Ensure that you buy the cleaners that will do an excellent job.


The Otocinclus is another freshwater breed that is popular due to its algae-eating capabilities. Due to this feeding them will be a bit easier. This species is naturally herbivore, and therefore you should avoid feeding them meat-based foods. The ideal choice for food you can give to this fish is the algae wafers, and they can be found in any fish store. You can feed them one piece every two days, and this will be enough to feed them.

If you do not want to feed them on ready-made food, you can prepare some from the kitchen. This fish loves some green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and zucchini. Ensure that you cut them into smaller pieces so that consumption can be easy. If you already have a tank with small fish species, this species can make a great addition to the tank. This is because they are generally peaceful and will do best with other small and peaceful species.


This is one of the controversial fish species in the aquarium world. They are very beautiful fish and are among the highly sought-after fish that ideal choice for aquarists. On the other hand, this fish is a bit difficult to take care of, and this makes it a bit hard for beginners. They have an amazing and special look and for this most aquarist would love to have one or two Bettas.

This fish comes in different colors, but one of the outstanding features when you first look at them is the fins in the back. This fish covers half of their body, and this makes them species compared to the rest of the species. This fish, being among the most beautiful species, comes with a price. The Bettas rarely get along with other species in the tank. They only get along with other bettas. This means that you should be very careful when adding another species to the tank because there is a high likelihood that they will fall out.


Just like the Tetras, the Rasbora is a big family that consists of different versions of the same species. Some of the common versions of Rasbora include; Clown Rasbora, Brilliant Rasbora, Harlequin Rasbora, among others. The Harlequin Rasbora fish is common among aquarists. They live in groups and love to meet the other tank mates frequently. It is also one of the easiest species o take care of. This makes this fish species an ideal choice for beginners.

Ensure that you provide clean water for your Rasbora and also they are fed a balanced diet, and that will definitely thrive. This fish has a long lifespan compared to many other species, and they live for approximately eight years under optimal conditions. Ensure that you put the small species as the tank mates to the Rasbora. At most, the tank mates should be double the size of this species. If you provide bigger tank mates, they will end up eating them.


They say looks can be deceiving, and Oscar Fish is the living proof of this statement. The Oscars is a beautiful freshwater fish that spends most of its time swimming in the aquarium. As we said, the look is deceiving. This fish is very aggressive towards other fish in the tank. This fish grows to an average size of 12 inches. They are omnivores which implies that they feed on both plant-based and fresh-based food. Due to their aggressive behavior, you should be very careful when choosing the ideal tank mates for this species. You should not be surprised by their aggressiveness since they are a race of cichlids.

This fish loves dwelling in the middle region of the tank, and they will spend most of their time swimming in this section. In some instances, that will dive at the bottom areas in search of food. If you are a beginners aquarist, this is not the ideal choice, but you should look for other options.


This is one of the popular freshwater aquarium fish in the market. This fish has different versions, but we are talking about them in general. Most of the Goldfish grow to an average size of 6 inches. Under optimal care, this fish lives for a lifespan of 10 years. To comfortably house this fish, you need to provide a tank that is at least 20 gallons. You do not need to heat the aquarium water since they also thrive in colder water.

The Goldfish is a peaceful fish species that work well in a community tank. You should also bear in mind that some of the Goldfish versions are not good swimmers. This, therefore, means you should avoid putting them together with fast swimmers since they will not be able to get away.


The Discus Fish is considered complicated fish that is a bit difficult to take care of. This does not, however, mean that you should not own one; you can do so but ensure that you follow all the requirements. Some of the common requirements are stable and clean water always; the average temperature of the water should be around 84 degrees F with a ph value of 6.5. This fish is carnivorous in nature, and this means they only feed on fresh based foods. You can feed them on dry or live foods. Some of the ideal foods include; blood worms, pellets, beef hearts, and flakes.

Beef heart is one of the important additions to this fish diet since they love it and also contain some important substances that this fish needs. There is, however, some disadvantage to it, however, since it can pollute the tank. To avoid this, ensure that you give it in small quantities and do regular maintenance and cleaning work.


Killifish is one of the gorgeous fish species in the world that you can get in a freshwater aquarium. This also makes them so popular in the aquarium world. There are several versions of Killifish that you will find in the market, but there is some common aspect in all of them. They are all vivid colored. All the version of this fish is peaceful to other fish in the tank, and this makes them great tank mates to most of the community tanks. However, some males might be aggressive to other males in the tank as they fight for dominance.

In the wild, this fish is a carnivore, meaning they feed on fresh-based matter. To feed them well, you can feed them on insect larvae, crustaceans, and worms. These should all be live as you feed them to the Killifish. To meets the nutritional needs of this fish, ensure that you provide a well-balanced diet. Some of the ideal foods that provide the needed diet include; Tubes worms, White worms, brine shrimps,  black worms, and Mosquito larvae.


If you are looking for a colorful freshwater fish in your aquarium, this is the ideal choice. This fish is a beautiful species that comes in varying kinds of colors you could imagine. A community fish will look amazing if you add some African Cichlids into it. The African Cichlids live for a period of up to 15 years, but this depends on the breed. This means that before you can go for this species, you should be prepared for a long-lasting relationship.

The only shortcoming of this fish is the fact that they are territorial and aggressive towards other species in the tank. If you put them in the same aquarium with other species that love swimming, the Cichlids will attack them at some point. Therefore if you want to keep this fish in the community tank, ensure that the tank mates live in the bottom section of the tank most of the time. This is because no one will invade the space of the other fish, and they will live in peace.


The Clown Loach is a popular freshwater aquarium fish due to its look and behavior. They are schooling fish that are active during the day. This fish has an orange body, and this body is covered by some stripes that are V-shaped on both sides, and that is where the name is derived from. This fish being schooling fish, they should be kept in a group of 3 to 4 in the tank. They are peaceful in nature, and this means it is okay to put them in a community tank.

As long as the fish species are peaceful, they will prove to be great tank mates in the tank. This fish is a carnivore in nature. They fed on both live and dry foods, but they prefer the live most. The main source of nutrients for the Clown Loaches is the earthworms. If you want to feed them on ready-made food, you can buy them from the fish stores anytime.


The rainbow fish is a common breed that is loved by both beginners and expert aquarists. They are small peaceful fish that are easily compatible with other species in a communal tank. Due to their small size, avoid putting this species in the same tank with bigger species such as the bettas since they might be eaten. This species is schooling, and therefore you need to ensure that you put them in a tank in a group of 5 or six of them. This makes them happy and feels at home in their new environment.

If you keep the Rainbowfish in a group, the males’ will exhibit the best of their vibrant colors towards the females, and the group will look much better as a result of this. Feeding this fish is easy. They are omnivores in nature, and this implies that you can feed them on plants and fresh matter. Some of the ideal foods in captivity include earthworms, pellets, specially made food for this fish, or some simple vegetables.

This fish is not a bottom dweller, and you should ensure that they have enough space in the aquarium to be able to swim effectively. Due to the fact that they are schooling fish, you need a spacious tank of at least 30 gallons to accommodate them well.


The barb fish is a bigger family that has different versions of fish. Some of them include; Tiger barb, Rosy barb, Gold barb, among others. This fish is a schooling one, and this means they live in small groups. Suppose you have a plan of keeping some in your home tank be prepared to house them in a group of about 5 or 6. In a group, they feel at home and happy, and they will thrive.

One of the common types of barb is the Tiger barb. This is beautiful fish that is popularly known to nip the fins of other fish in the tank. Due to their behavior, this fish does not make a good community fish since it will harm others. This only happens to the tiger fish, just as the name implies. It is advisable to keep this species with other bards, not necessarily the same type.


If you are looking for a different freshwater fish, then the Kuhli Loach is the ideal choice. This species resembles the ell, but in a real sense, it is not. This fish is mainly active during the night, and therefore you should not expect to see them during the day. They will spend most of the time hiding during the day. However, if they are kept in a group of 3  to 4, they are likely to be active.

Another reason why this species makes a great choice for beginners is that they are small in size, meaning they do not need a big tank. They grow to a maximum length of between 3 to 5 inches, and this means they can be kept in a 20-gallon tank as a group. This species is easy to take care of, and this is another reason why they are preferred by aquarists. They are peaceful species that will not bother other fish in the tank.


The Glass Catfish is an incredible freshwater fish that is unique. These fish do not have scales, a dorsal fin, and all the body pigmentation. Just as the jellyfish, this fish is a see me through aside from the bones. This is fascinating and interesting to watch, but it might freak some people out. This fish is schooling fish, and this means they need to be kept in a group of 6 or more in order to feel comfortable. They thrive in heavily planted aquariums with other decorations too.

 This fish has a skittish nature, and therefore if you place them in a tank without proper hiding spots, they will constantly be stressed, more so if they are in a community tank. This fish is very sensitive to changes in water temperatures and other parameters, and therefore you need to ensure they remain constant as much as possible.

When changing the water in their tank, ensure that you do not change over 50 percent since this may cause undue stress, and therefore you can opt for about 30 percent on a weekly basis. This fish is not picked in terms of diet, and therefore they do not have any complex requirements. This means they can make an ideal choice for a beginner. They are peaceful, and they can comfortably live in a 30 gallons tank.


The Raphael Catfish is freshwater fish that has alternating black and horizontal cream stripes across the entire body. These stripes are coupled with very long barbels and fins. Taking its tadpole-like body into consideration, this fish is somewhat odd-looking. This fish cannot be netted like the normal fish since their long fins, and hidden spines can get stuck in the net easily.

The process of taking care of these fish is pretty easy, and this makes them dear to most keepers. They are no picky eaters though it is important to feed them on a mix of high-quality pellets and frozen food. This fish is not active, and they spend most of their time hiding in decorations such as caves and rocks, and plants. As a result of this, they are kept in community tanks, more so with larger fish. The larger fish do not both with the slow-moving nocturnal fish.

This species should be kept in a community tank that has peaceful species. After the lights are off, ensure that you throw some food in the tank so that this fish can feed. Doing so under no light ensures no fish snatches food from the Raphael fish.


The Rainbow Shark is a popular freshwater fish that can be found in almost every pet store. They can sometimes get very large, which attracts some keepers, but to some, they are attracted by their vibrant color and personalities. This fish is semi-aggressive, and they need some decoration in their tank in order to build their territory. With no decoration in the tank, they will dominate the whole tank, which will lead to a lot of aggression to other small fish.

This Rainbowfish is a community fish that lives comfortably with other species as long as the tank is spacious enough. The species only tank with this fish is rare since they cannot be housed with one another. The ideal tank size for this fish is a50 to 60 gallons tank with one large active fish and the other four small school fish. This fish is hardy and has an active personality with vibrant colorations, and this has always made them a popular choice among aquarists.


This fish is perpetually smiling and often looks quite adorable, but they can sometimes be aggressive. This fish is artificially created, and they cannot be aggressive towards other fish even if they want to due to their deformed mouths. The whole body of this fish is medium pink to red in color and is misshapen compared to other fish. This fish is round in shape and with a unique separation between the body and the head. Some of the people get freaked out by the cute faces and the general appearance of this fish, and to others, it is aesthetically appealing. This fish is not able to be aggressive toward the tank mates, and this means they make great community fish.

Blood parrots need plenty of hiding areas so as to feel secure and be able to establish their own territory. This fish also loves digging out in the substrate and rearranging the decoration on the tank and therefore ensuring there is no sharp object in the tank to avoid harming them as they dig. This fish is generally fascinating and interesting to watch as they swim around the aquarium as a result of their adorable personalities.


Jack Dempsey is an interesting freshwater fish that is among the most aggressive fish. They are, however, easy to take care of and make a great choice for beginners. This fish is generally good-looking, with their dark bodies being spackled with bright colored iridescent and opalescent scales changing with every movement they make. Compared to other fish that are peaceful, the Jack Dempsey needs more care, but they still can be kept by a beginner.

These fish need a bit large tank, and the food is expensive. The filtration system is also expensive to keep the water clean. These are some of the challenges a beginner is likely to face, but with determination, they can actually do it. All cichlids have individual personalities, but as they get bigger, the more personable they become.


The German Blue Ram may be the most beautiful cichlid that is beginner-friendly. This fish does well in a small tank, and they thrive in either pairs or small groups, but the tank should also have other species. Some of the German Blue Ram can be picky with their food but feeding them frozen food as a treat at least once or twice a week is good to turn them in the right direction.

 This fish-like makes some adjustments to the tank arrangement, and therefore you should not be worried when you find some stones and gravel moved around every now and then. This fish is small in size, and they have great personalities; however, they are not afraid of showing off to other fish. It is hilarious and interesting to watch this fish interact with the tank mates, but this depends on their mood. If you go for this fish, be assured that you will never regret your choice.


Birchir is freshwater fish that are often regarded as difficult to keep. This can, however, be made possible by doing proper research to get all the information on making them thrive. This fish is not aggressive but will eat small fish if they are put in the same tank. While most fish species prefer a community fish, this fish does not prefer either the community or species only tank. 

This fish loves feeding, and they have a high appetite; therefore, the main problem is not what they are going to eat but how expensive it is feeding them. The ideal food for this species is frozen food, such as mussels, worms, shrimps, and clams. This fish is incredible and fun to watch, and therefore the cost of keeping them is worth it. There are no fish species as quiet as them, and none exhibit the same personality as the  Birchir.


You have now discovered the best freshwater fish, and you are now ready to go. The next step to take is to compare your choices and go for the best that you can be able to keep and provide for with fewer difficulties. You need to consider the size of the tank needed and the cost of feeding them before deciding. You can start with one breed, and then after garnering some experience, you can then proceed to keep different breeds that are compatible. It is upon you to make a good choice.

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