Easy Care Freshwater Fish For Beginners

Would you like to get into the freshwater aquarium hobby? It’s important to remember that starting and maintaining an aquarium can take some work, but some fish are a lot easier than others. Here are some of the best beginner fish to consider.

  • 01 of 05

    Standard Goldfisch (Carassius auratus)


    Jessie Sanders

    There are many types of goldfish, but beginners should start with long-body goldfish, including the Comet, Sarasa, and Shubunkin varieties. Fancy goldfish are better suited for advanced fish farmers. Comet goldfish can be white, orange, gold, or black, and although they start out very small, they can grow up to 12 inches or the size of a large dinner plate. Sarasa and Shubunkin tend to stay smaller and can grow to a maximum of around 8 to 10 inches.

    No matter what type of goldfish you choose, keep in mind that you will need 20 gallons per fish just to get started! As they get bigger, Goldfish needs to be upgraded to a bigger system.

    Goldfish are generally not great feed processors, so they may produce more waste than other fish. Put them on a pelleted diet once they are large enough to reduce food waste that is added to your ammonia waste.

    Species overview

    Long: 1 to 2 inches (or 6 centimeters) and in some cases up to 6 inches

    Physical Properties: Two pairs of fins and three single fins, no scales on the head, exceptionally large eyes, in the colors red, orange, blue-gray, brown, yellow, white and black

  • 02 of 05

    Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi)

    Mirko_Rosenau / Getty Images

    They may seem small, but a school of these brightly colored fish can be a great school for beginners. Light stripes of blue and red make this fish a lively addition to a communal freshwater pool. Neon tetras are usually very straightforward and, due to their small size, have only a minimal effect on the water quality.

    Neon tetras can grow from about an inch to an inch and a half in length. You like to go to school together, so start with three to five people. You are the ideal occupant for a gentle, zen-planted tank.

    Neon tetras can easily be grown in captivity. So watch out for signs of inbreeding, such as: B. missing gill covers, asymmetrical mouths or incorrectly shaped fins.

    There are pelletized diets small enough for Neon Tetras, but flakes can replace very small fish.

    Species overview

    Long: 1 and a half inches (or 4 centimeters)

    Physical Properties: Red, white, blue, silver, and black, usually with a turquoise line between the eyes to the adipose fin and a red stripe that runs from the center of the body to the caudal fin

  • 03 of 05

    Betta fish

    Jessie Sanders

    Despite having a reputation for being one of the easiest fish to keep, your Betta will live a long, happy life with a few tweaks to her sad little bowl.

    Bettas thrive in five-gallon tanks with a filter and heater. As a tropical fish, Bettas should be kept at 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. The larger the volume of water, the easier it is for your heater to maintain a constant temperature. Make sure your tank has a thermometer and not those that are unreliable!

    With their long, delicate fins, Bettas tend to be knocked over by fast flowing water. Use an appropriately sized filter and turn the flow all the way down or redirect it so your betta doesn’t get pushed around. These fins can easily be snapped onto sharp decorative items. When you run your finger over a possible decor, you shouldn’t feel any solid or sharp protrusions. Use betta-specific decor if you have any concerns. Keep in mind that betta fish protrude from the top by about three to four inches in length, so make sure that all of their decor matches them as they grow.

    For beginners, it is recommended to start with a male fish in its own tank. Bettas are easy to keep when kept in a larger tank. Extra water makes it easy for beginners to have a casual maintenance schedule. Your filter and heater go a long way in creating a happy home.

    Be careful not to overfeed your Betta! Your “belly” is only about the size of your eyeball. You should never be allowed to eat your fill. Feeding will depend on the size of your fish and the size of the pellets. It is best that Betta’s eat Betta-specific pellets for proper nutrition.

    Species overview

    Long: Up to 7 centimeters

    Physical Properties: Long, elaborate fins and overlapping scales; Available in bright colors such as red, green and blue

  • 04 of 05

    Mollies & Platys (Living Porters)

    isoft / Getty Images

    Many Molly and Platy owners start with just one fish. A few days later they have a lot of fish. Livebearers enjoy this reputation because this first-time adopted fish has a 50 percent chance of being a pregnant woman. Since fertilization occurs internally, externally you never know how many fish you may be ingesting.

    Mollies and Platys are very easy to care for and available in many types and colors. They can be kept in schools and grow to be about an inch long. We recommend starting with a popular variety. Some specialty breeds that are only specific to one owner or business tend to have inbreeding problems and do not make good beginner fish.

    Most mollies and platys are sturdy and easy to fish. You can eat a micropellet or flake diet. It is recommended that you start with at least a 10 gallon tank, but you may need to upgrade as your population grows.

    With live fish, it is always important to plan more and more fish. Even novice fishers can successfully raise multiple generations by doubling or tripling your starting numbers in a matter of months. However, you will have to slow down production at some point, and unsupervised breeding leads to possible inbreeding. Fortunately, most species are sexually dimorphic and males and females can be distinguished by external characteristics. This way you can separate males and females so that the populations don’t explode. You can try an armor divider, but it is safer to put men and women in separate systems.

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  • 05 of 05

    Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)

    isoft / Getty Images

    As the name suggests, these cute, tiny fish are characterized by horizontal stripes along their body. Another fish that likes to train in groups is the zebrafish, which are great beginner fish. Unlike many other pet fish, zebrafish do not like warm, tropical temperatures. Therefore, do not use preset heaters! Zebrafish are similar to room temperature (around 21 degrees Celsius) water, so you may need a small heater to keep your tank from getting too cold in winter.

    Zebrafish are also available in different colors and fin lengths. Most species will be at an inch to an inch and a half above. Thanks to a little genetic engineering with fluorescent jellyfish protein, they are even available in special daylight variants. These colors can be very pronounced under a blue LED light. When choosing specific species of zebrafish, look out for individuals with straight spines and a full bract that covers the gills on both sides.

    Zebrafish are great pets for beginners without constantly keeping an eye on a heater. You can eat common topical micropellets or flakes. As with any other aquatic animal, follow your regular maintenance schedule to keep the water clean and healthy.

    Species overview

    Long: 2 inches (or 6 centimeters)

    Physical Properties: Silver-gold body with distinctive blue-purple horizontal stripes from gill to tail, in albino, gold, veil and long-fin varieties

  • Getting started with the aquarium hobby is an exciting experience! Once you’ve decided on a species of animal, do your homework and plan a suitable home. Remember that all new tanks must be nitrogen cycled before they become established systems. If you start out with low numbers of fish in lots of water, you can expect success!

    Aquarium Checklist: Everything you need to welcome fish to their new home