What is the Best Fish for a Beginner’s Aquarium?

The fish you choose will have a huge impact on your aquarium’s success or failure. Many aquarium enthusiasts make the wrong choices and lose some or all of their tank’s inhabitants for this very reason.

Other than choosing the wrong species, they sometimes also make the mistake of overstocking the tank.

In this post, you’re going to learn about some of the best fish to begin your aquarium journey with. They’re beautiful, entertaining, easy-going, and no-fuss species.

So, let’s begin.

Zebra Danios

Zebra danios are an attractive fish that are easily identified by the zebra-like pattern. They are a complete charmer with tons of energy.

They like to dwell in the upper layers of the aquarium so you’ll get to learn about the various aquarium zones with these fish. They can eat an omnivorous diet and can accept most kinds of food.

However, small frozen or live inverts and fresh vegetable matter are among their top favorites.

General Information on Zebra Danios

  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Upper level
  • Personality: Friendly and Peaceful
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Approximate Size: 2″
  • pH: 6.5-7
  • Water Hardness: 5-12 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 64-74 °F

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

A white cloud mountain minnow is a tiny, colorful fish that can tolerate cold water. In fact, it can even be kept in outdoor ponds during summers.

It can tolerate temperatures as cold as 60 degrees Fahrenheit which means that these fish are quite flexible when it comes to water temperature.

However, you can’t use very warm water with them as they prefer cooler habitats.

With proper care, they can live up to 5 years. They are a hardy species that tend to live in the top or middle regions of the tank. They are also schooling fish and feel comfortable in a group.

Thus, buying a group of 6 fish will help encourage good health and vigor in these fish. Otherwise, they can lose their bright color and become timid.

White cloud fish are not choosy eaters either. Thus, you can feed them all types of fish food including frozen, live, and flake food.

General Information on White Cloud Mountain Minnow

  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Top to mid
  • Personality: Friendly
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Approximate Size: 1.5″
  • pH: 6-8
  • Water Hardness: 5-20 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 64-72 °F

Rasboras

Harlequin Rasbora (Trignostigma heteromorpha) and Lambchop Rasboras (Trigonostigma espei) are popular for their bright orange and stunning black triangular patch.

These nano fish are peaceful and only grow up to 2 inches long. These fish are also quite social and live well in schools of 6 or more of the same rasbora species.

They’ll make for a striking visual treat in your aquarium.

General Information on Rasboras

  • Level of Care: Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Top to mid dwelling
  • Personality: Friendly
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Approximate Size: 2″
  • pH: 6-7.5
  • Water Hardness: Up to 12 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 73-82 °F

Black Skirt Tetra

The black skirt tetra is an extremely peace-loving, schooling fish that originates from the regions of South America. They love to live in a larger group or a pair.

The fish gets its name from its distinctive translucent black color. This hardy fish is great for beginning any community aquarium. They show a wonderful display of silver bodies with black stripes and long flowing black fins.

These fish love to hide under aquatic greens, rocks, and driftwood pieces. It gives them a sense of security. Since it has mid-level swimming habits, it’s best to use taller plants and plenty of rocky cave structures to give them ample space to hide.

This also keeps them from having uncomfortable confrontations which they dread.

Slightly acidic water is best for their breeding these types of fish.

They are great eaters and accept a variety of small foods such as daphnia (brine shrimp), tubifex, frozen bloodworms, and high-quality flake food.

General Information on Black Skirt Tetra

  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Mid Level
  • Personality: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Approximate Size: 2″
  • pH: 6-8
  • Water Hardness: Up to 15 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 68-79 °F

Platy

Platies are small and peaceful fish that are an awesome choice for a beginner’s aquarium. Selective breeding of these fish has given rise to a variety of new color combinations so you’ll have a lot of choices when picking your favorite colors.

While these fish are considered shoaling fish, they love to be kept in smaller groups of 4 to 5.

They spend the majority of their time swimming in the middle water level through plants and hiding between floating leaves, making them one of the most active fish. They are also fond of breeding.

Platy fish are not really aggressive but the males might overwhelm the females if you don’t keep the right ratio in the tank. These little creatures also enjoy jumping so make sure you keep the tank covered at all times.

They prefer natural-looking habitats that are heavily planted and contain gravel substrate.

Another good thing about them is that they are not fussy eaters. Flake or freeze-dried food works well for them. They will also feed on algae growing in your tank.

General Information on Platy Fish

  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Mid Level
  • Personality: Peaceful
  • Lifespan:2 to 3 years
  • Approximate Size: 2″
  • pH: 6-8
  • Water Hardness: 10 to 28 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 65-78 °F

Swordtails

The swordtail is an easy-to-keep, livebearing, peaceful fish. Best known for their unique attractive tail (resembling a sword), these fish a top choice for beginners thanks to their hardy nature.

They are jumpers so your tank must be covered at all times otherwise they can jump out of it. You can get them in many colors, fin, and tail variations.

They are mostly peaceful and good for community aquariums, however, the males might sometimes become aggressive towards other males so care should be taken when you’re housing more than one.

These fish are livebearers and can birth as many as 80 fry at a time.

You can feed them a variety of foods including flake food supplemented with blanched vegetable matter, freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp and algae.

General Information on Swordtails

  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Mid Level
  • Personality: Generally peaceful (males may be aggressive to other males)
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Approximate Size: 5″
  • pH: 7-8
  • Water Hardness: 10 to 20 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 72-82 °F

Kribensis Cichlids

These belong to the dwarf cichlid family. They are known for their playful nature and beautiful colors. They are tough and sturdy and can tolerate different types of water conditions.

However, they’re territorial so make sure you put them along with the right species and not overstock the aquarium.

These fish are omnivorous and can eat almost anything you feed them. A diversified diet is the best choice. It should include flake food, cichlid pellets, and live food.

They like to swim in the middle level of the fish tank.

General Information on Kribensis Cichlids

  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Minimum Tank Size: Around 30 Gallons
  • Tank Level: Mid Level Dwellers
  • Personality: Territorial
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
  • Approximate Size: 4″
  • pH: 6-8
  • Water Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH
  • Ideal Temperature: 75-79 °F

Factors You Should Consider When Choosing Beginner Fish

Even though you might be tempted to choose fish that have the most physical appeal or those that you’ve seen with other aquarium hobbyists, there are more important factors that you should consider when picking the right species of fish.

You should generally start off with fish that have most —if not all—of these attributes:

  • They must be able to withstand a range of water qualities and conditions.
  • They shouldn’t grow too large in size.
  • They shouldn’t display aggression and should be peaceful.
  • They should accept different types of food and not be too fussy.
  • They should be community-loving and compatible with a number of other fish unless, of course, you’re interested in a single species tank.

Final Word for Beginners

So, this was our list of the best fish for beginner aquariums. You can pick one or more of the above as per your preferences and budget. However, be sure to research their particular requirements.

Also, when you go to the shop, look at the fish carefully and don’t just accept any fish without closer examination.

Fish with wounds, sunken bellies, cloudy eyes or nipped fins are most likely suffering from a health issue and may not be able to survive for long.

Before you introduce your new fish into the aquarium, make sure you have properly cycled the aquarium. This is a mandatory requirement if you want to experience a happy and healthy aquarium journey.

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