There are several categories to consider when examining fish that are good for beginners. Ease of care, temperament, hardiness, beauty, size, cost, and availability. This is our list of the 10 best fish for beginners.
- Anandarajkumar [GFDL]
Bettas come in many different colors and have long luscious fins. They are easily one of the most beautiful fish. This, coupled with their ability to survive in tanks as small as 2.5 gallons and thrive in tanks 5 gallons, make them a great first fish. While they typically don’t do well with other fish, those with little space for an aquarium at home or those who are looking for a small friend for the office will no doubt enjoy these magnificent and majestic fish.
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With vibrant blue and red colors, neon tetras are a great fish for a small community tank. While they should be kept in small schools of 6 or more fish, they are small enough that you can put 6 of these fish in a 10 gallon tank. They are active swimmers and very fun to watch especially during feeding.
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There are several varieties of swordtails which have several different colors and patterns. Males have a long “sword” which extends off the bottom of their tail fins making them one of the more unique freshwater fish you can find. As a bonus, they are livebearers and will reproduce with little to no effort which can be great fun. They should be kept in ratios of 1 male to every 3-4 females to reduce nipping. Don’t keep swordtails with Mollies to prevent inbreeding.
- By Kai Schreiber [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Cory catfish are bottom dwellers that are easy to maintain and are great fun. They are active swimmers that like to swim in schools. During feeding time, they become very active and alert and swim across the bottom of the tank – it’s just really cool. They come in several different species that range in size from about 2 inches to 4 inches.
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Zebra Danios are extremely hardy fish, meaning they will survive and recover from many adverse conditions where other fish would stand little chance. They are a small fish that prefer to be kept in groups. They are active swimmers that really get into it during feeding times. They can get a bit nippy towards other tank mates with longer fins, but this can easily be avoided with proper care in selecting tank mates
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Rosy barbs are a peaceful, active fish perfect for a community tank. Males are a reddish color which can be a very intense shade red while females are pinkish to silver. They can grow to nearly 6 inches and should be kept in small groups which make them an idea candidate for larger aquariums. Like the Danios above, they will sometimes nip longer fins on other fish in the tank so choose tank mates wisely.
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Cardinal Tetras are one of the most popular fish of all time. They are peaceful, social and active. They should be kept in a smaller group to keep them happy. But the small group will keep you happy also as the school is a lot of fun to watch swim. They will all stick together and roam the tank. Highly recommended.
- Jvarszegi [Public domain]
Dwarf Gouramis are a perfect centerpiece fish for a beginner tank. They grow to be about 4 inches long and are intensely colored in orange and blue. They will mostly keep to themselves so they won’t bully any of their tank mates.
- By Brian Gratwicke [CC BY 2.0]
Small, peaceful, hardy, and beautiful. What more could you want out of a beginner fish. Cherry barbs don’t grow more than about 2 inches long and should be kept in small groups. A group of 6 cherry barbs are a perfect start to a 20 gallon community aquarium. They will get along with nearly all other peaceful fish that are about their same size.
- By Marrabbio2 [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Platies are another livebearer that are a great fish to start with. Like swordtails, they come in several different colors and patterns. They are hardy and peaceful, growing to about 2 to 3 inches depending in the variety you are able to find. They shouldn’t be kept with swordtails to prevent inbreeding.