Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish

How to find the best freshwater aquarium fish

When you’re new to the fishkeeping industry, it can be difficult to choose what kinds of fish you want to have, so finding the very best freshwater aquarium fish sounds rather daunting. There are many different types of freshwater fish, ranging from larger ones to small ones. So it can turn into a lengthy process to try and find the best ones for your needs.

Because of that, you should conduct some research in order to best understand which freshwater fish would be best for your availability as well as your fish tank and equipment. There are many things that you should consider before choosing a freshwater fish for your tank

And here is some information that you may find helpful. Not only that, but I’ve also included some of the best freshwater aquarium fish for your convenience. 

On another note, if you want to start from the beginning and learn how to set up and maintain your aquarium, start here. 

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a freshwater aquarium fish

Fish size

You should consider what size fish you want to purchase for your aquarium. Whether you have a small or large tank, considering the fish size is important because it will ultimately help you determine how many fish you can fit in your tank. You don’t want to put too many fish in your tank, since the aquarium will then be overcrowded and your freshwater fish likely become stressed. No one wants that!

Tank size

Likewise, it’s important to consider how large your tank is, since you shouldn’t put fish that are too large into a tank that they’ll likely feel claustrophobic in. The tank size will also help you see how many fish you can fit in the tank as well as how many decorations you can include in the aquarium. Don’t overcrowd your aquarium!

Compatibility of your freshwater fish


best freshwater fish

One of the most important things for you to consider before purchasing freshwater fish is how compatible they are with each other. This is really only important if you’re considering on putting multiple types of fish in the aquarium, but it’s important to make sure that they get along nicely. If they don’t, then you’ll likely end up with dead fish some time in the future. Some fish can get rather feisty with others, so keep an eye open for this!

Not only that, but refrain from choosing fish that are extremely territorial, since they will likely fight other fish for simply being in the same tank as them. Additionally, you’re also recommended to put fish together that have similar sizes to one another. This will prevent any larger freshwater fish ones from attacking the other fish smaller than it.

Food and care for your freshwater fish

Before choosing a certain type of freshwater fish, you should consider whether it has any specific food requirements. Some fish require certain types of foods that you will have to attend to while they’re living in your tank. If you have multiple different species of fish that all require certain foods, then this may effect the amount of time that you’ll have to set aside in order to feed them everyday.

Not only that, but some freshwater fish require certain treatment plans as well. For instance, some fish produce more waste than others, so you’ll have to clean the tank more often than if you were to have other types of fish in the tank. Some fish are just overall more expensive than others as well, so it’s important to consider whether you have the budget to care for them.

I recommend this nice little video on fish nutrition to make sure your fish stay nice and healthy, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have the best freshwater fish, if you’re not taking good care of them and feeding them the right food on a regular basis, it’s not going to work out on the long term, trust me!


12 Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish


1. Guppy

The Guppy is classified as a small freshwater fish that is recommended for its calmness. This fish isn’t known for demanding any special care needs, so they’re manageable to take care of.

You can tell the different between male and female guppies by their color, since the males will generally be brighter and have a longer tail fin. Female guppies not only have a shorter tail, but they are also larger in general than the males.

Main Features:

  • Easy to care for
  • Peaceful
  • Compatible with wide range of other fish species

2. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barbs are also recommended for their ability to act calmer and more peaceful than other types of fish. They require low maintenance, since they’re capable of consuming basic fish food. 

Not only that, but they are known for their cleanliness, so you don’t have to worry about constantly cleaning up after them. 

You can differentiate between the male and female Cherry Barbs by color, since the male Cherry Barb is usually more brightly-colored than the female. You should also keep in mind that this type of fish are best behaved when they’re kept in small schools. 

Consequently, you’re recommended to keep between four to six of them in the same tank at one time. 

Main Features:

  • Best when cared for together
  • Calm and peaceful
  • Don’t require special care or food

3. Pearl Gourami

This type of fish is recommended for you because they’re larger, but they also have the ability to act more calm than other types of larger fish. They require at least a 30-gallon tank, and they prefer low-lighting. Because of that, you should consider putting plants and other decorations for your Gourami to hide in if you decide to purchase this fish.

Main Features:

  • Require algae-based and meaty foods
  • Consume Hydra (venomous fish)
  • Larger and calmer than other types

4. Black Molly

Black Mollies are classified as darker fish that are generally peaceful and can work live well in a fish tank with a wide variety of other types of fish species. Because of that, Black Mollies work great in community tanks.

Not only that, but Black Mollies are able to adapt to their conditions well, so you can easily transfer it from tank to tank without having to worry about the fish becoming stressed. They’re also live-breeders, so you aren’t required to care for their juveniles after they give birth. 

Main Features:

  • Dark colors, so they add depth and diversity to your tank
  • Can easily adapt
  • Live-breeders

5. Danios

Danios come in a variety of sub-types as well, including the Celestial Pearl, the Longfin Zebra, and the Zebra Dianos. They’re all generally peaceful and can live well with other fish. They’re best behaved when they’re placed in tanks that hold at least 10 gallons of water. Not only that, but these fish have a deep metallic blue color that’s able to add to the whole aquarium’s aesthetic.

Main Features:

  • Prefer to live near rocks
  • Should be kept in schools of at least 6
  • Extremely small, since most at no larger than 1 inch

6. Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra is a small freshwater fish that’s known for its energy and quick behaviors. This fish is one of the easiest fish to care for, so they’re recommended for you if you’re new to fishkeeping. Not only that, but Neon Tetras are able to live in peaceful community tanks, since they’re able to behave well around others. They do behave best when they’re housed in a school with each other though, which should be around three to six fish total.

Main Features:

  • Easy to care for
  • No food requirements
  • Extremely small

 see our recommendations for picking CO2 regulators for your fish tank

7. Betta

Bettas are probably most common for their ability to live alone and have large, beautiful fins. They do have the ability to come in a variety of different color, and some even have mixtures of beautiful, bright colors along their whole body.

On the downside, Bettas are known to fight with each other as well as other fish. They are classified as territorial fish, so they behave best when they’re housed alone in a tank. Because of that, you may want to consider purchasing a Betta fish if you’re only looking to care for a small amount of fish.

On the plus side, these fish are hardy and can withstand being fed practically any flake food, and they can withstand a range of environments.

Main Features:

  • Known to be aggressive with other fish species
  • Available in a variety of different colors
  • Can survival harsh conditions

8. Discus Fish

Discus fish are classified as one of the most recommended freshwater fish, especially for community tanks, because of their ability to cooperate well with others. Not only that, but Discus fish are generally considered a more social fish than other types, since they’re known to simply swim up to fish that belong to other species and hang around them without causing trouble.

They also have the ability to live up to 10 years, and it’s also known for its ability to interact with humans as well. This is shown through their capability to express their emotions well to humans.

Main Features:

  • Work well with others
  • Require a high protein diet
  • Prefers a tank of at least 25 gallons

9. Goldfish

Goldfish are one of the most common fish found in fish tanks, and that’s most likely because of their ability to withstand a wide range of environments. More specifically, goldfish aren’t picky about what they consume or what other fish they’re around. They require a tank that measures at least 20 gallons, and they perform the best in cleaner water conditions. Consequently, you should change around 10-15% of the water in your tank per week.

Main Features:

  • Have many different varieties
  • Able to withstand a variety of environments
  • Require at least 20-gallon tanks

10. Platy Fish

These types of fish are generally put in a similar class as Swordtail Fish because of their similarity in behavior. Not only that, but they both require generally the same care treatments. Platy Fish are live-bearing, so you aren’t required to care for their young when they’re born. Lastly, they’re small and peaceful, so they’re able to fit in a variety of different tanks.

Main Features:

  • Similar to Swordtail Fish in behavior and care
  • Smaller than most other freshwater fish
  • Live-bearing

11. Angel Fish

Angel Fish are native to South America, and they’re carnivorous by nature. They generally require a diet that can contain a variety of things including flakes, pellets, or even shrimps. They have the ability to grow up to six inches, and they require that you keep them in extremely clean environments. Because of that, you shouldn’t keep them in tanks that have a large amount of other fish species.

Main Features:

  • Require extremely clean water conditions
  • Carnivorous by nature
  • Shouldn’t be kept with a large variety of other fish species

12. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow is described as an extremely small fish that is known for its peace and kindness. It doesn’t generally demand anything specific regarding food, care, or treatment, and they behave well when they’re housed with a variety of other fish species. They’re also brightly colored, so they add color depth to the aquarium.

Main Features:

  • Non-aggressive
  • Don’t demand any special care or food treatments
  • Easy maintenance

Conclusion on the best freshwater fish


Overall, it can be overwhelming to decide which freshwater fish you want in your aquarium, especially considering there are hundreds of different fish to choose from. 

But once you consider all of the different types as well as their care plans, treatment requirements as well as their ability to behave with other fish, then the decision process doesn’t seem as impossible. 

You should just remain aware of the various different types and make sure that you choose the freshwater fish that will work best for the environments that you’re able to provide.


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