10 Best Coldwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners

Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more

Coldwater aquariums are for those people who wish to go below the temperatures of a tropical fish tank and want to have the unique fish that are suitable for coldwater tanks.

This type of tank comes with some specifications, namely that you will need to keep the aquarium away from hot areas and the sun, as higher temperatures will not suit the fish the best.

But in this article, we will take a look at the best species for a coldwater aquarium. Choosing the right ones will, of course, depend on your personal preferences, which ones you want to have in your tank.

You will need to adjust the tank conditions accordingly to the fish species you want in your tank. If you have no specific ideas, though, then make your way through this list and consider some of the fish in this list.

There are several things you keep in mind before you choose the fish for your tank, though. Firstly, you need to consider how big a tank you are you willing to have – some fish are better for smaller tanks and some for larger.

Then, some fish are more friendly and get along with other fish better than some other fish species – if you really want an aggressive sort, then you might want to keep it alone. Another consideration is the time and money investment a certain fish will require from you – how much maintenance it requires and if it is picky with food.

With those considerations in mind, I made the list of 10 best coldwater aquarium fish for beginners. I’ve also included some of these fish in my top list of freshwater aquarium fish species, because of their popularity and beauty.

Now let’s take a look to the top coldwater fish species:

1. Goldfish


Goldfish are one of the most popular fish species in the world for home aquariums. And there are many good reasons for it. They are a freshwater fish from the carp fish family. They are the third most popular pet in the world, right after cats and dogs.

Common goldfish can reach the size of 8 inches or even more if they are cared for properly, so do not be surprised by the fact that your goldfish might grow a lot, so make sure that you get the fish ample space and be prepared for growth.

Goldfish do not require too much. In terms of food, it will happily settle on dried foods like flakes, but you can feed them worms and live foods from time to time. Just make sure that you do not overfeed them, they do not require too much food to survive.

In terms of tank mates, goldfish can live with plecos, platies, tetras and other similar sorts of fish. Clean the tank often, cycle the water and care for the goldfish and they will be happy.

2. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Minnows

White Cloud Minnows

The white cloud mountain minnows are much smaller than the goldfish, as they can grow to up to 1,5 inches in size, so they are appropriate for smaller tanks as well as possible tank mates for other fish in a larger community tank.

They live for 3 to 5 years if they are cared for well. The minimum required tank size for this fish is 10 gallons.

This species is very rare in the wild due to human interventions and extinction almost occurred, but they can still be found in parts of China and Vietnam in the wild.

It is better to keep the minnows together in bigger numbers, and if you intend to keep them with other fish, they should preferably be smaller ones.

The tank should have plenty of vegetation, and of course, you should keep the water within appropriate temperatures. As for the food, the white cloud mountain minnows are not picky and will eat almost everything.

3. Paradise Fish


Paradise fish or the paradise gourami fish are one of those fish species that appeal to people due to their appearance – they have red and blue stripes that look great on their grey bodies.

They can grow to up to 3 inches, so a 20-gallon tank is probably the minimum tank size that you can fit the paradise fish.

Keep in mind that these fish are quite aggressive towards smaller fish species, so keeping them together might not be the best idea.

The paradise fish is native to Asia – Pakistan, India, Taiwan, and Korea. Generally, they are aggressive towards other males of the same species, but other fish might get caught up in it. This fish has an appealing appearance that will make up for its aggressive character, though.

They are usually slow-moving through the tank and they will eat a large variety of foods, as they are omnivores.

4. Hillstream Loach

Hillstream Loach

Hillstream Loach

The hillstream loach is a native to the rivers and streams of Asia. The body and the appearance of this species are very unique.

They do look a bit like the catfish, so some people might mistake it for the catfish. Hillstream Loaches grow to about 3 inches in size.

They have a torpedo-shaped body with black and white stripes all over the body. It has little to no scales, and the fins stretch out through the whole of the bottom of its body.

They are used to very fast-moving waters, which explains the body shape. The hillstream loach needs some specific requirements to allow it the right conditions to live.

There should be an additional water stream produced by powerheads to make the water flow, and the filtration should be stronger. But all this makes the hillstream loach so unique and special.

5. Dojo Loach


Dojo loach or pond loach is one of the most popular species out there. Of course, it would be, with such an interesting body and colors – it is very unique.

It has a long, thin body with black and white patterns all over it, and it has an interesting feature where it predicts weather changes – when it senses that, the head of the fish tends to pop out of the water.

In the wild, the fish is endemic to Siberia, Korea, Japan and a large area in Asia, but can also be found in Europe and the Americas. It is very sturdy and can adapt to various conditions and is not vulnerable to predators – this is why it is so spread.

This fish will also dig itself into the substrate often.

They grow to up to 12 inches, and in the right temperatures (lower temperatures) it can live even to up to 10 years. They are peaceful fish. It will eat anything, as they are omnivorous. The dojo loach is a great choice for beginners with moderate-size tanks.

6. Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs

The cherry barbs look similar to the goldfish, but their colors are a bit darker.

They are schooling fish and they are adored by the fish-keeping community. They are hardy, do not require much maintenance and are peaceful.

For these reasons, the cherry barbs are one of the most popular coldwater fish out there. They like planted tanks where they will be able to swim around and hide a lot.

They grow up to 2 inches and can live for 5 years or slightly more. The minimum tank size for the cherry barbs is 25 gallons because you can keep more of them and they like to have plenty of space.

They can also be kept together with other peaceful fish like the cherry barbs – tetras, rasboras, minnows, catfish, clown loaches and more. In terms of food and maintenance, they do not need much of your time.

They are omnivorous, which means that they are not picky eaters, as well. All these qualities make the cherry barbs a popular choice for beginners.

7. Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs

The tiger barbs are also easy to take care of. Their character is generally peaceful, but they can get aggressive in certain rare situations.

For this reason, it is not a great fish for community tanks, but rather they are best kept in isolation.

They are omnivores, and they will happily feed on flakes, but do provide them with a variety of foods from time to time – they will appreciate it.

The minimum tank size for the tiger barbs is 20 gallons. They prefer to swim in the middle of the tank. The name of the fish comes from its appearance – it has orange-yellow body with black stripes all over it, which looks like a tiger’s fur.

Generally, the can be kept alone, but if you do keep tank mates with tiger barbs, then have some fast-moving fish, so that they will not be able to nip at their fins.

8. Stiphodon Goby

Stiphodon Goby

Stiphodon Goby (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The stiphodon gobies are found in Indonesia and northern Papua New Guinea islands in short coastal streams and rivers.

The temperature for the gobies is 22 to 28 degrees Celsius.

This species needs plenty of obstacles, such as rocks covered with algae and different obstacles to swim around.

They can be kept in a community tank with peaceful fish, but also in larger numbers.

They can grow to up to 2 inches, so a 20-gallon aquarium would be ideal for them.

You can keep more of them together, and they will even prefer that (stiphodon means swarm, horde in Greek).

But make sure that you keep more females than males because males can get aggressive with each other. Other than that, the stiphodon gobies are good fish that are not too demanding.

9. Bloodfin Tetras

Bloodfin Tetras

Bloodfin Tetras

The bloodfin tetras, also known as redfin tetras or true bloodfins, are very popular fish species for beginners, which is why it is on this list. It is quite hardy, easy to care for and also good looking.

They reach up to 2 inches in size, and they are usually best kept in numbers, so a 10-gallon or a 20-gallon tank would be the minimum requirement for the bloodfin tetras.

Bloodfin tetras have grey bodies with red fins on their sides and at the back, which makes for a nice sight when they swim in a group.

They enjoy flake foods but make sure that you do not feed them only that and keep some variety in their diet. They need quite a lot of food due to being quite active swimmers.

You can keep any other similar fish that is peaceful, of the same size and temperament together with it.

10. Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios

Last but not least on this list are the zebra danios. Are they the right fish for your aquarium, though?

Let’s take a look at some of the specifications of this interesting fish.

Zebra Danios are known as one of the most popular freshwater fish in the world due to their social qualities, as they are quite peaceful and go well together with other fish in the tank.

They are also quite hardy and will adapt to various tank conditions, but they prefer colder water.

They show shoaling behaviors, and they are also very social fish. Luckily, they are non-aggressive, which means that they will go along with other peaceful fish. They have thin bodies with white horizontal stripes all over it.

These grow up to 2 inches. The zebra danios also glow in the dark, which makes them very interesting.

A 10-gallon tank is perfect for the zebra danios. They are also not complicated to care for. As they are omnivorous, so they will eat flakes but also make sure that you keep the food varied.

They can be kept together with peaceful fish – tetras, dojo loaches, gouramis, and other similar fish.


If you are looking for a coldwater fish for you, then you should take a look at the list above.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have a clearer idea of what the perfect fish is for you and which one should you choose. There are some considerations you should care about before.

Take care of the fish well, and they will reward you with a great appearance and a tank full of happy little fish friends. Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy a tank that thrives and looks great.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *