14 Freshwater Fishes for Aquarium

When starting an aquarium, choosing a fish that meets your needs and lifestyle is vital. Freshwater fishes are the best for a beginning fish lover. So, to ease the process of selecting a fish, we have put together an article discussing the various freshwater fishes for aquariums that are available in the market for the fish keeping enthusiast.

1. Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are also known as Paracheirodo Innesi and belong to Characidae family. They are lovely to view with a gradual transition in color from light blue to silver starting from back to abdomen. The adults can grow up to 1.5 inches long with an average lifespan of 5 years. Neon Tetras are easy to care and peaceful. They require water temperatures between 69 – 80 degree Fahrenheit with a tank of volume no less than 10 gallons. They also demand a planted aquarium setup. Neon Tetras are omnivores and feed on a combination of fish flake foods along with dried or frozen food.

2. Pleco

Pleco or Plecostomus catfish belongs to the Loricariidae family. They are typically dark with light color patterns or spots covering their entire body. Plecos can be quite large when mature and can measure up to 24 inches. A pleco under the right conditions can live for 10 – 15 years. Because of their huge sizes, we suggest that you spend your money on at least a 30-gallon tank comprising a setup that enables them to hide and move around.  Plecos are omnivores like most other freshwater fishes and feed on a variety of food.

3. Guppy

The scientific name of Guppy is Poecilia Reticulata and belongs to Poeciliidae family. The most charming aspect of a guppy fish is its tailfin which is quite large and spreads out like a fan. These fishes are available in many colors with sizes that can range from 0.6 to 2.4 inches long. Guppies have a shorter lifespan, i.e., two years but are easy to care of. They require the water temperature to be around 75 – 82 degree Fahrenheit with a pH range in between 7 to 7.2. An aquarium tank that can hold at least 5 gallons of water is required along with a plant and substrate configuration. Guppies are omnivores too.

4. Cherry Barb

Puntius Titteya or commonly known as Cherry Barb is a fish from the Cyprinidae family. They are characterized by tapered red bodies with dark patches over the entire surface. Adolescent Cherry Barbs can measure up to 2 inches long. Most of these population live for 5 – 6 years. Requiring less maintenance and being peaceful, they can be excellent pets for any beginning fish keeper. Typically, Cherry Barbs need 73 – 81 degree Fahrenheit of water temperature with pH between 6 – 7.5. Being omnivores, they consume both plant and animal matter. As for the tank size, at least a 25-gallon tank is needed if you are planning for hosting 5 of them (5 gallons per barb) along with a plant setup.

5. Fire Mouth Cichilid

The Fire Mouth Cichilid belongs to the Cichlidae family. An alternate scientific name for Fire Mouth Cichilid is Thorichthys Meeki. They have light gray bodies with an orange or orange-red bottom. The same pattern continues on their fins too. As an adult, they can be 6 inches long. A minimum 5-gallon planted aquarium setup will suffice this fish. The water temperature needs to be in the range of 75 – 86 degree Fahrenheit with a pH ranging between 6.5 – 7.5. Fire Mouth Cichilid are omnivores and territorial. Hence, you have to ensure you set the tank in a way that allows places for hiding and laying eggs.

6. Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gouramis come from the Osphronemidae family and are also known as Trichopodus Leerii. They are quite mesmerizing to look at with the white spots over the body accompanied by a zig-zag black stripe running along the eye line. Pearl Gourami come out as semi-aggressive, hence, you need to take care when befriending it with other fishes. Full grown gourami can measure up to 4.5 inches and demand a planted tank set up of at least 20 gallons. The aquarium water needs to have pH between 5.5 and 7.5 with temperatures between 77 – 82 degree Fahrenheit. They have an average lifespan of 4 – 5 years and like most other fishes are omnivores.

7. Cory Catfish

Cory Catfish or Corydoras Catfish belongs to Callichthyidae family. Typically, they are 1.5 – 2.5 inches long; however, breeding females can grow beyond 3 inches. Cory Catfish has an average lifespan of 5 – 7 years, but, in appropriate conditions can live up to 15 years. They do not require extensive care. Suitable water temperature for Cories lies between 72 – 78 degree Fahrenheit with pH range between 7 to 8. For a school of three Cories, you need at least a 10-gallon aquarium with live plants. Cory Catfishes are omnivores.

8. Platy

Platies are scientifically known as Xiphophorus. They belong to the Poeciliidae family. Platies are peaceful and require low maintenance, so they make a viable option for beginners. You can find platies in a wide range of colors in the market which further expands your options. The males can be 1.5″ long while the females can measure up to 2.5″. Platies have a maximum lifespan of 4 years. Ideal water temperature for platies lies between 70 – 77 degree Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.8 to 8. For a school of five adults, you will have to invest at least on a 10-gallon tank. These finned creatures are omnivores.

9. Sword Tail

Sword Tail fishes are much like Platies. The only difference is their sword-like tail. They are scientifically named as Xiphophorous Hellerii and belong to Poeciliidae family. You get various swordtail options in Koi, Red Wag, Red Velvet and others. Most females can grow up to 6.3 inches, i.e., about 0.8 inches longer than average male lengths. Sword Tails have a lifespan of 3 – 4 years and require a tank of at least 15 gallons. As per the water conditions, they can live in waters with temperatures ranging from 72 – 79 degree Fahrenheit and pH between 6.8 – 7.8. They are omnivores. Sword Tail males are aggressive among each other, something you should keep in mind when opting for them.

10. Betta

Bettas are popularly known as Siamese fighting fish because of their aggressive nature. Contrary to their behavior, they are quite fascinating to look at, with their fins being the highlight along with the colors. They can measure up to 3 inches long and have an average lifespan of 3 years. The water temperature range of 74 – 82 degree Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.5 – 7.5 is best suited for Bettas. Unlike other fishes, Bettas are solitary fish and prefer space. For a single Betta, make sure you have a 5-gallon tank. Bettas are carnivores while also being extremely active. They usually come to the water surface for air.

11. Killifish

Killifish is also referred to as Cyprinodontiformes. These fishes come in a variety of combinations of red, yellow, blue with silver. The adults can measure up to 4 inches. Female killifishes can stay together while males are aggressive. To host a killifish pair, you need a tank of at least 20-gallon capacity. Killifish stay healthy in water temperatures from 72 to 75 degree Fahrenheit with the pH lying between 6.6 – 7.2. Killifishes are carnivores and only feed on animal matter.

12. Goldfish

Goldfish is one of the most familiar freshwater fishes with variations like comets, shubunkins, and fantails. They belong to the Cyprinidae family and can live up to 20 years. The suitable temperature range for goldfishes starts from 60 degrees Fahrenheit (for shubunkins) going up to 74 degrees Fahrenheit (fancy goldfish which can survive between 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit). The water should have a pH in between 7 and 8.4. Regarding the tank size, a minimum 10-gallon tank is required (20-gallon for comets, shubunkins). Goldfish are omnivores and will feed on both plant and animal matter.

13. Discus

Discus belongs to Cichlidae family. Similar to the name, these fishes look almost like a disc with fins and some vibrant colors. These fishes can grow to be huge and can measure around 6.5 inches. The average lifespan of Discus is 10 years. Water with pH of 6 – 7 and temperatures between 82 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit is highly suitable for this fish. Discuses prefer a planted aquarium setup with a minimum tank size of 75 gallons. They rely on an omnivorous diet.


  • Choose a fish that you know about. Do some research about the particular fish, its diet, behavior before you buy one. It will help you identify and treat common health problems faster.
  • Cycle the tank properly before introducing the fishes.
  • Most freshwater fishes are omnivores. Hence, they will consume on both plant and animal matter. For omnivore fishes, you can feed them with flake food along with frozen foods like bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp and tubifex. For carnivores, you can feed them dried or frozen food.
  • When thinking about hosting multiple species, always pay greater attention to compatibility between fishes. As an example, you should not mix the peaceful fishes with the aggressive ones.
  • The above information on freshwater fishes only accounts for an aquarium setup with the particular species. If hosting multiple species, you have to consider those aspects and scale your build setup accordingly.
  • Easy care in this context means that you can get away with weekly monitoring and once a month cleaning of the aquarium setup. Take it as a guideline, not as a rule. Each fish will require different care.

Some of these fishes can be hosted in a fish bowl, you just have to maintain the right environmental conditions.


If you have fallen in love with fishes and want to be a fish keeper, hosting freshwater fishes can be your stepping stone. The freshwater setups allow for slow and easy comprehension of the fishkeeping experience which is suitable for beginners. You need to take things slow at first to learn the various aspects of providing an artificial habitat to fishes and freshwater setups help you do just that.

We hope you got to learn something about the freshwater fishes for aquarium and maybe even have a choice in mind now that you have read quite a bit.

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