10 Best Aquarium Fish for Beginners
Disclosure: I earn a small commission when you purchase products through my affiliate links – read more
If you’re looking to get into fishkeeping, you arrived on the perfect article. That’s because I’m going to tell you about the 10 best aquarium fish for beginners.
When you want to buy fish for your new aquarium, you need to know which breeds are best for a beginner and why. This article will help you in this regard.
First, I will tell you about the 10 best fish breeds that are worth checking out by beginner enthusiasts. After that, I will also give you some fishkeeping advice, that might come in handy later.
Keep in mind one thing though: the fish I’m going to tell you about, are all fresh water fish breeds. So, if you want to create a sea life aquarium, this isn’t the list you’re looking for.
Without any further ado, let’s start with the first type of fish, that most people have in their aquariums:
The goldfish is a very popular fish breed, that most new aquarium owners really like to purchase. What makes them a good choice for beginners?
Goldfish usually don’t require a lot of special knowledge, besides the general things that any aquarium owner must do regularly. For instance, they need a regularly cleaned up water environment, and a good water filter.
These are a must for pretty much any type of fish. But goldfish are very sensitive for a good water balance, so you must keep this at its best.
For a good nitrogen cycle, you must buy a well-performing water filter too. Choose one that has a biological filter system built into it, so you won’t have to worry about setting it up yourself.
Guppies are another popular fish breed, that many newcomers like to own. This is a tropical fish breed, that needs a warm and clean water environment to thrive in.
You can find guppies at pretty much any animal shop that sells fish for personal aquariums. They come in all shapes and colors, so all you need to do is choose the one that fits your liking.
Something important to keep in mind when you buy guppies, is to always keep the water temperature at the optimum level. Usually, 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit is a good water temperature for this type of fish.
But to make sure you let them feel totally comfortable. Keep the water at 78 degrees at all times if you can. If you have the aquarium in a colder place, just install a water heater. Don’t forget to take care of this matter for guppies.
Mollies are another tropical fish breed, liked by many new fish tank possessors. What makes them good for starters? The most important aspect, is the fact that they’re easy to care for. You don’t need much special knowledge.
But it’s important to keep the water temperature at a higher level, just like in the case of guppies. A water temperature between 72- and 78-degrees Fahrenheit is the best for this breed.
Mollies can live up to 5 years, if you care for them well. The usual size up to which they grow is 4,5 inches long. They are omnivores, so feeding them isn’t going to be the hardest thing. You shouldn’t put aggressive fish among mollies, because they are a very peaceful race.
But don’t forget that mollies live best in a fairly big fish tank. You should go for a 10-gallon capacity aquarium at least.
Platies are a great fish breed for total beginners. Just like mollies, this is another peaceful breed, that needs no special expertise to care for. Platies are smaller than mollies. They only grow to 3 inches long, but that doesn’t make them bad looking in any way.
To set up a well-crafted environment for this species, it’s important that you put a lot of vegetation in the aquarium. Platies really like a vegetation abundant place to live in, thus making them happier and long lived.
Most platies can live up to 3-5 years, if the environment is well-made. Also, a 10-gallon water tank is a minimum, just like in the case of mollies. This will give them enough space to swim in.
If you buy platies, make sure you purchase a small group. This way, they will feel much more at home in their new environment, and also, this is how they live normally.
This species is a lot similar to the previous platy fish, and also the guppy from above. You could easily mistake the swordtail fish with either of the 2 breeds mentioned.
Swordtails come mostly in 2 different colors: red and green swordtail fish. For a better-looking aquarium, you could opt to buy both colors. They are a very peaceful specie that live in groups, just like the platies from above.
But swordtails are growing a little bigger, to 6.3 inches long. The females are the ones that grow this big. Males are slightly smaller, about 5,5 inches long.
If you plan to buy some of these, you should know that a 15-gallon fish tank is needed, for fully grown swordtails. But if you plan to add more species as well, you could go for a bigger tank.
They don’t need any special treatment. But one thing you should look out for, is sudden temperature drops in the aquarium. They don’t like that, so make sure you keep the temperature the same all times.
The Corydoras fish, or Cory catfish, are a tropical fish breed, that are quite happy to live together with other species as well. Usually, it’s best to keep 2 or 3 of the same species together with the Cory fish.
This specie is quite adaptable as well. For instance, the water temperature is not the biggest concern in its case. You can have a temperature from 68 degrees, up to 82 degrees.
Something interesting about this fish, is that it will leave its environment cleaner than before. This isn’t something we can say about too many breeds. A Corydoras is a good addition, no matter what type of other fish you have.
Mostly, a Cory catfish will stay at the bottom of the aquarium, sucking up the remaining food from the bottom. Basically, it’s cleaning the tank from solid food debris that others leave behind.
If you’re looking for a popular catfish species, the Pleco is a good choice. This is a fresh water catfish, that lives in peaceful environments.
Be aware though, this breed grows quite big: up to 24 inches long, if you give them proper conditions. So, it’s a good idea to buy a pretty big fish tank. You shouldn’t purchase anything smaller than 30 gallons in capacity.
You can put other fish in the same aquarium with the Plecos, but not too many due to size constraints. They are not the most sensitive fish, so it’s a good type to start out with.
Also, if you’re a beginner, you’d probably like a fish that lives long, right? You’ll be happy to know that a Pleco can live up to 15 years. Most of them easily reach the 10-year mark.
To make them feel at home, set up a tank with lots of caves and driftwoods. They like to hide in such spaces, so make sure you have them in your aquarium.
8. Betta Fish
The Betta fish is a beautiful specie that many people like to have in their aquariums. It is one of the most colorful fish you can buy for your aquarium. Bettas are quite minimalist when it comes to taking good care of them.
They don’t require too much special attention. For instance, an important aspect is to buy a 10-gallon fish tank, where they have plenty of room to swim in. This isn’t hard to achieve.
Also, the temperature where your Betta fish will thrive is between 75 and 82 degrees. Like I already mentioned above, for such temperatures, you could need a heater, to make sure the water stays like this.
The Betta fish are quite peaceful, and you can put other breeds in the same aquarium with them. A Betta fish will surely make your fish tank stand out.
9. Neon Tetras
The Neon Tetra rightfully earned its name from the vibrant colors it shows off. You can get this fish in blue, red and translucent colors. It is one of the most basic fish, that is quite popular amongst beginner fish owners.
Like most of the previous species, the Neon Tetra is also very peaceful, and likes to live in smaller groups. If you care for them properly, they can live up to 8 years. But they won’t grow too big. The normal size of a Tetra is about 1,5 inches.
To make the aquarium best-suited for your Tetras, be sure to have a lot of plants placed inside it. This is how their natural environment looks like. This way, they will fell at home in your tank.
Also, a 10-gallon fish tank is a minimum for this breed, especially if you plan to introduce other species as well.
The water temperature should be kept between 70- and 81-degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Tiger Barbs
The Tiger Barb fish is instantly recognizable from the black stripes wrapped around its body. For a starter fish keeper, the Tiger Barb is a perfect fish.
It doesn’t need any special caring, besides the normal temperature and pH level optimization. The temperature should be 75 to 80 degrees, with a pH level of 6 or 7.
Keep in mind however, that Tiger Barbs are not the most peaceful fish. This is especially the case if they’re lonely in the aquarium. You should keep at least 5 or 6 of them together in a small group, to make them comfortable in your tank.
This breed likes to swim around a lot compared to other species. So, it’s best to buy a bigger aquarium, if you plan on putting Tiger Barbs in it. A tank 20 to 30 gallons in volume should do great.
If you do everything by the book, which isn’t too complicated, your fish could live up to 10 years. But most of them easily live more than 5 years.
Maintaining Your Aquarium as a Beginner
Now that you know about the 10 best fresh water fish for beginners, it’s time to cover some advice, you should keep in mind:
Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle
It’s important that you cycle your new aquarium before you add new fish inside it. What does this mean? Water cycling usually refers to the nitrogen cycle that has to happen in any aquarium.
A good water filter will do the job. I briefly mentioned above, that a water filter must include a biological filter media as well. This contains bacteria colonies that are used to break down the harmful substances that will sicken your fish.
Ammonia and nitrates are especially harmful. You need to make sure you have a bio-filter set up, before you add new fish inside the tank. Your fish, no matter what species, will inevitably produce waste that has to be decomposed, so they won’t get sick.
That’s what a good bio-filter does. Basically, it assures a proper water cycling for your fish tank. Don’t forget this step, otherwise, you might hurt your fish without even noticing the cause.
Overfeeding your fish is one of the main causes for losing them. Why? The first problem is, that at one point, your fish won’t be able to eat everything you give to them.
All the remaining food will be deposited at the bottom of the tank. This waste will decompose into ammonia and all sorts of nitrates, all harmful to your fish. Without you noticing, even the bio-filter won’t be able to keep up with the huge concentration of these substances.
Another problem that comes from overfeeding your fish, is that all types of diseases could surface because they eat too much. For instance, a very common sickness is fatty liver.
This will affect liver functions, and result in your fish dying prematurely.
There are other bad results that come with overfeeding. The main idea is to know when it’s enough, and keep the rules closely. This way, you’ll be sure nothing bad happens to your aquarium life because of food excess.
Regular Water Changes
You might think that this is a no brainer, but many people forget to change the water in their aquariums periodically. Why is this so important? Even having a good water filter, the aquarium will get dirty in time.
This is why making regular water changes is essential to having a healthy fish community in your tank. Usually, the water is changed depending on the aquarium you own. But it’s good to know exactly when the time has come to do this step.
To ensure a longer period for water changes, you should regularly do some maintenance for your water filter. Residues will fill the media inside the device, and you have to clean it, to ensure a good performance. This way, the filter will be long lived, and you’ll have a cleaner water all times.
Choosing Tank Mates
I talked a little about this at some of the fish breeds above. However, it doesn’t matter what types of fish you choose for your tank, because you must always have tank mates that feel comfortable with the fish already inside the aquarium.
For example, a fish that grows bigger than the others, and is carnivorous, might not be a good idea to place inside the aquarium among other, smaller peaceful fish. I think you know why.
Also, you shouldn’t place breeds in the tank that could hurt the others in any way. I mentioned above that the Tiger Barbs aren’t too peaceful if you don’t have 5 or 6 of them to live in a small group. If you only buy one, it will start hurting the others.
Just like this specie, others have different behaviors. So, do your research before buying new tank mates for your fish.
What did you learn from today’s article? First, I talked about the 10 best fish breeds, that beginner fish keepers will love to care for. Also, I pointed out that all of the 10 are fresh water fish.
Most of the species listed above work well with each other. However, there are some exceptions, so do a proper research before adding multiple species in the same fish tank.
Right above, I gave you 4 important fish keeping advice, that any beginner must consider before setting up the tank. All of them are important, so don’t skip by them.
All in all, make sure you know everything before you start your own aquarium. The fish I listed in this article can be a great starting point.
Having a thriving water life is all up to you after you set it up. So, put a lot of effort into making your fish happy in their new environment, and they will thrive in it for a long time.