10 Best Freshwater Fish For Beginners

Starting an aquarium is easy. All you need is a fish tank, water, substrate, plants, and a few beginner fish. Here are the best freshwater fish for beginners:


There are many different types of guppy fish. So, there is a bit of variety to choose from. Guppies are one of the easiest pet fish to take care of. They thrive in most community tanks and all active most of the time.

Male guppies are colorful. Some have colorful tails and fins each with a unique pattern. Female guppy fish are not so colorful and are larger than males.

Guppies reproduce quickly and they are livebearers (give birth to live fry). Thus, it’s best to keep a tank of only males if you don’t want too many fish later down.

Fire tail Snakeskin Guppies.
Firetail Snakeskin Guppies.


Cory catfish are peaceful bottom-feeding fish. These kinds of catfish only grow to about 3 inches in length. They are schooling fish, so a group of at least three to six is needed to keep them happy.

Corydoras spend most of their time scavenging around the tank floor and looking for leftover food. To supplement their diet, you need to feed them sinking food so that they get adequate nutrition.

Cory Catfish
Cory Catfish eating algae.

White Cloud Minnow

White Cloud Minnows are good fish for a beginner’s tanks because they are one of the hardiest fish. This means that they can survive in varying water temperatures and water quality.

They are schooling freshwater fish and thrive in groups of 6 or more minnows. If kept alone, minnows become stressed and lose their bright coloring.

Beginner fish, White Cloud Minnow swimming against soft green plant background.
White Cloud Minnow

Zebra Danios

Zebra danios are a popular fish for beginners. Not only are they an attractive and hardy fish, but they are also easy to care for. They have a striped zebra pattern hence the name.

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Like other fish for beginners freshwater aquariums, Zebra danios grow best in schools of 6 or more. They usually swim around the upper areas of the fish tank.

Zebra Danios


Rasboras are bright oranged colored fish that have a patch of black coloring on the lower-back end of their bodies. These nano fish only grow to about 2-inches in length, perfect for size for nano aquariums.



Swordtails are super hardy fish best suited for the beginner fish tank. They are brightly colored orange and have a long bottom fin that resembles a sword.

Though males can become aggressive toward each other, swordtails actually do well in groups of 5 or more. Just be aware that the males will fight with each other and put on a display.



Not the usual beginner fish but bettas, once kept by themselves, make good fish to keep. They have beautiful flowing fins that can be of several striking colors.

The only thing you need to keep a betta happy is a 5-gallon tank or larger and a heater. Of course, these freshwater aquarium fish are carnivores so feed them freeze-dried and live foods.

If you don’t mind any of those things then bettas are a great freshwater fish for beginners.

Betta fish.


Platies are a great hardy fish that lives peacefully with other non-aggressive fish in a community tank. They also eat most types of food including freeze-dried and flake feed. And, if your tank suffers from algae, platies will often eat the algae off plants and the tank glass. Platy fish come in a variety of colors.


Bristlenose Pleco

The Bristlenose Pleco or Bushynose Pleco is a hardy fish that can survive in a variety of water conditions. Like Corydoras, they scavenge the bottom of the tank in search of leftover food and algae.

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All you need is a large tank and hiding spots in the tank to make them happy. They prefer caves, driftwood, and logs. They grow to about 6 inches in length.

Bristlenose Pleco


Tetras are also popular starter fish. Neon tetras and cardinal tetras are the most common types of tetras kept in aquariums. They are easy to care for, thrive in groups of 5 or more, and get along with other peaceful fish.

Neon Tetras