The 15 Best Fish for Beginners

The 15 Best Fish for Beginners

Vannessa le Roux


Written by Charlotte Johnson





Aquariums can be a wonderful addition to any home, providing both aesthetic appeal and a source of relaxation. When starting an aquarium, it is important to choose the right type of fish. Not all species are created equal, and some are more suitable for beginners than others. Understanding the needs of each species is essential to ensuring they live a healthy and happy life in your tank.





In this blog post, we will outline the 15 best fish for beginners. Whether you're looking for a vibrant and colourful addition or a peaceful and low-maintenance species, this list has you covered.





1. Goldfish






  • Size: Up to 40 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 10-20 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Large aquarium with a good filtration system, temperature between 18-24°C, and regular partial water changes





Goldfish are a classic species of fish that have been kept in aquariums for centuries. These hardy fish are native to East Asia and are known for their bright orange colour and signature "bubble-eye" appearance. While they are a great option for beginners due to their ease of care, it's important to note that they can grow quite large and require a spacious tank to accommodate their size.





Goldfish are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least three individuals. They are also peaceful and compatible with other peaceful fish species, making them a great option for community tanks.





2. Guppies






  • Size: 2.5 cm - 5 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 2-3 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with neutral pH, temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Guppies are a popular and cheerful species of fish that are often a staple in beginner aquariums. These small fish are native to South America and known for their striking colours, which can range from bright orange and yellow to iridescent blue and green. Guppies are highly active and playful, making them a fun addition to any community tank. They are also peaceful and get along well with other species, making them a great option for those new to the hobby.





It is worth noting that guppies are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. This can be an interesting aspect of keeping guppies, as it allows aquarists to observe the breeding process and watch the young grow and mature.





3. Neon Tetras






  • Size: 1.5 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 5 years or more




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with neutral pH, temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





If you research some of the smallest pet fish, then you’ll definitely encounter neon tetras. Neon tetras are small, brightly coloured fish that are native to South America. They are known for their distinctive electric blue and red stripe running down the length of their bodies, making them a popular addition to many home aquariums.





Neon tetras are a low-maintenance and hardy species, making them a great option for beginner aquarists. They are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals. They are also peaceful and compatible with other peaceful fish species, making them a great option for community tanks.





4. Betta Fish






  • Size: 6 cm - 10 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 2-3 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Small, filtered aquarium with a temperature between 24-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Betta fish, aka, Japanese fighting fish, are famous among beginner aquarists due to their unique appearance and ease of care. These striking fish are native to Southeast Asia and are known for their long fins and lively colours. Betta fish are easy to care for, making them a great option for those new to the hobby, and they can be kept in smaller aquariums, making them ideal for those with limited space.





While Bettas are known for their aggressive tendencies, they can still be kept in community tanks with other species if proper precautions are taken. Betta fish are highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of water conditions, making them a low-maintenance and hardy species. However, it's important to note that they are also sensitive to changes in their environment, so it's important to maintain stable water parameters to ensure their health and well-being.





5. Corydoras Catfish






  • Size: 2-4 inches in length




  • Lifespan: 5-10 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, feeding on a diet of live, frozen, and dry foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with neutral pH, temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Corydoras catfish are bottom dwellers that are known for their playful and active behaviour, as well as their interesting appearance, with many species featuring distinctive patterns and colours.





They are also effective at keeping the bottom of the tank clean, eating any uneaten food and helping to prevent the build-up of harmful waste. With their unique and fascinating appearance, corydoras catfish are a great addition to any home aquarium.





Corydoras catfish are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals. They are also peaceful and compatible with other peaceful fish species.





6. Angelfish






  • Size: Up to 20 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 10 years or more




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Large tank with a temperature between 22-28°C, and neutral pH, and regular partial water changes





Angel fish are a species of cichlid native to the Amazon Basin in South America. They are known for their distinctive tall, triangular shape, and elegant swimming style. Angelfish are a popular choice for home aquariums due to their beauty and low-maintenance care requirements.





Angelfish come in a variety of colours, including silver, black, blue, and gold, and are prized for their intricate patterns and contrasting colorations. They are a slow-moving, peaceful species that do well in community tanks, provided their tank mates are also slow-moving and peaceful.





Angelfish are semi-aggressive and should be kept with other peaceful fish species that are larger than themselves. They are also best kept in pairs or small groups, as they can become territorial if housed with multiple Angelfish.





While Angelfish are a low-maintenance species, they do require a larger tank than some of the other fish on this list, as they can grow up to 20 cm in length. They also prefer neutral water conditions and regular partial water changes to maintain their health.





7. Swordtails






  • Size: Up to 15 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 5-8 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with a temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Swordtails are a species of fish native to Central America. They are known for their distinctive "sword-like" tail and vibrant colours, making them a popular addition to many home aquariums. Swordtails are social and active fish that do well in community tanks, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists.





In addition to their attractive appearance, Swordtails are also hardy and low-maintenance, making them easy to care for. It's important to provide them with plenty of swimming space and a well-planted tank for hiding and resting, as well as for visual appeal. Swordtails are a great option for those new to the hobby who are looking for a hardy and attractive species to add to their aquarium.





8. Mollies






  • Size: Up to 15 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 3-5 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with a temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Mollies are a species of fish native to the Americas, and come in a variety of colours and patterns, including black, silver, and golden, making them an attractive addition to any aquarium. They are active and social fish that do well in groups, making them a great choice for community tanks.





In addition to their attractive appearance and social nature, Mollies are also hardy and adaptable, making them a low-maintenance species for those new to the hobby. They do well in a well-planted tank with plenty of swimming space and do not require any special water conditions.





9. Zebra Danios






  • Size: Up to 6 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 5-7 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with a temperature between 20-25°C, and regular partial water changes





Zebra Danios are a species of fish native to South Asia. They are named after their distinctive black and white stripes, which run down the length of their bodies. They are active, hardy, and peaceful fish that make a great addition to many home aquariums.





Zebra Danios are a popular choice for beginner aquarists due to their ease of care and adaptability. They do well in a well-planted tank with plenty of swimming space and do not require any special water conditions. They are also relatively low-maintenance, making them a great option for those new to the hobby.





In addition to their hardiness, Zebra Danios are also active and lively, making them an interesting and enjoyable species to watch. They are social fish that do well in groups and get along well with other species, making them a great choice for community tanks.





10. Platies






  • Size: Up to 8 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 3-5 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Well-planted tank with a temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Platies are a species of fish native to Central America and come in a variety of colours and patterns, including red, orange, and yellow. They are active and social fish that do well in groups.





Platies are also hardy and adaptable, making them a low-maintenance species for those new to the hobby. They do well in a well-planted tank with plenty of swimming space and do not require any special water conditions.





11. Gourami






  • Size: 4-6 inches in length




  • Lifespan: 5-7 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, feeding on a varied diet of live, frozen, and dry foods




  • Tank Requirements: Planted tank with neutral pH, temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Gouramis are a type of labyrinth fish, which means they have a unique organ that allows them to breathe air directly from the surface. This makes them a great choice for aquariums with poor water conditions, as they are able to tolerate a wider range of conditions than other fish. They are also known for their peaceful behaviour and attractive appearance, with many species featuring iridescent scales and flowing fins.





Gouramis come in a range of sizes and colours, so it's easy to find one that suits your tank and preferences. They are a great option for beginner aquarists, as they are hardy and adaptable, and can live in a variety of different tank setups.





12. Harlequin Rasbora






  • Size: 2.5 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 3-5 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: A well-planted tank with neutral pH, temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Harlequin Rasboras are small, vibrant fish that are native to Southeast Asia. They are known for their distinctive, triangular shaped bodies and their metallic green and red scales, which give them a unique and eye-catching appearance. These active and social fish do well in community tanks and are peaceful, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists. They are hardy and low maintenance, and their playful behaviour makes them enjoyable aquarium fish.





13. Cherry Barb






  • Size: 5 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 5 years or more




  • Diet: Omnivores, requiring a balanced diet of both dry and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: A well-planted tank with neutral pH, temperature between 22-28°C, and regular partial water changes





Cherry Barbs are small, brightly coloured fish that are native to Sri Lanka. They are known for their distinctive red-orange body colour and energetic behaviour, making them a popular addition to many home aquariums. They are a peaceful and social species that get along well with other species, making them a great choice for community tanks. In the wild, they feed on a variety of insects and other small invertebrates, so they should be offered a balanced diet of both dry and live foods in the aquarium.





14. White Cloud Mountain Minnows






  • Size: Up to 4 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 5 years or more




  • Diet: Omnivores, accepting a variety of foods including flakes, frozen, and live foods




  • Tank Requirements: Cold water tank, temperature between 18-24°C, with plenty of hiding spots and plants





White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small and peaceful fish native to China. They are known for their silver-white bodies and distinctive red fins, making them a popular and attractive addition to many home aquariums. They are hardy and adaptable, and they can thrive in a range of water conditions, making them an ideal choice for beginner aquarists.





White Cloud Mountain Minnows are also social fish that enjoy being kept in small schools, so it is recommended to keep at least 6 in a single tank. This species is a great choice for those who want an attractive, low-maintenance fish that is easy to care for and adds some excitement to their aquarium setup.





15. Kribensis






  • Size: 4-5 cm in length




  • Lifespan: 5-8 years




  • Diet: Omnivores, accepting a variety of dry, frozen, and live foods.




  • Tank Requirements: Requires a well-planted tank with a neutral pH, temperature between 24-28°C, and regular partial water changes.





Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) are active and energetic fish that are well suited for a community tank. They are relatively peaceful but can become territorial when breeding, so it's best to keep one male with several females or a group of individuals in a larger tank. They are hardy fish that are easy to care for, making them a great option for beginner aquarists. They are also known for their breeding habits, as they will often lay eggs on flat surfaces and then guard their young.





Tips for Choosing Your First Aquarium Fish





Here are some things for you to do when you’re thinking about buying your first aquarium fish:






  • Determine the size of your aquarium: Consider the size of your tank and choose fish that are appropriate for the space.




  • Research compatibility: Make sure the species you choose are compatible with each other in terms of size, temperament, and water requirements.




  • Consider their maintenance level: Choose species that are easy to care for and suitable for a beginner's level of experience.




  • Look at their water requirements: Make sure the species you choose are compatible with the water conditions in your tank.




  • Determine your budget: Some species can be more expensive than others, so it's important to determine your budget before making a purchase.




  • Observe the behaviour of the species: Watch how the fish behave in the store, this can give you an idea of their personality and how they will interact with other species in the tank.




  • Get advice from experts: Talk to pet store staff or consult with a local aquarium society to get advice on what species may be best for your first aquarium setup.





Conclusion





Starting an aquarium can be a fun and rewarding experience for both new and experienced aquarists. With the variety of species available, it can be difficult to choose the right fish for your tank. It's important to consider factors such as size, temperament, and diet when selecting fish for your aquarium.





Regardless of your choice of fish, make sure to research the species you're interested in and provide them with proper care, including a well-maintained tank with appropriate temperature, pH levels, and diet. With the right preparation and care, you'll be well on your way to creating a beautiful and thriving aquarium.