21 Most Popular Freshwater Fish for Your Aquarium

If you are looking for a pet that is low maintenance and non-demanding, a fish is an excellent option. Specifically, freshwater fish require the least maintenance and they make for wonderful pets. In fact, freshwater fish are the most common pets in households across the world.

Freshwater fish are some of the easiest pets to own. They are perfect for people who have financial or time limits, prohibiting them from having a dog or cat. Also, they brighten up your space with their vibrant colored appearance.

So, if you want to add a freshwater fish to your home, here are some of the most popular freshwater fish to choose from.

Angelfish

Angelfish are members of the large Cichlid family meaning they tend to grow larger than some of the other common freshwater fish. On average, they span from 6 to 8 inches in length. They originate from rivers in South America, and they are some of the oldest fish aquarists have owned.

They make food community fish, but in some cases, they have had some aggressive behaviors. These behaviors tend to center around being defensive and territorial. Therefore, larger tanks suit these fish best.

Goldfish

Some of the most common fish among fish owners are goldfish. Believe it or not, goldfish can actually span up to 14 inches in length. However, this mainly only holds true in the wild. When they are kept as pets or in captivity, they tend to remain on the smaller side.

Goldfish make great community fish because of their calm nature. The only thing to be careful of is that they sometimes can be aggressive with food.

Neon Tetra

The Neon Tetra fish is very small compared to other freshwater fish. This fish originates from South America, and it is a member of the Characidae family. They are extremely easy to take care of which is why they are typically recommended for beginning fish owners.

They are another fish that are very popular among fish owners – and for good reason! They make amazing community fish because of how well they get along with others. They are quite calm and peaceful.

Additionally, this fish is also a popular choice because of how wonderful they are to watch. Their behavior can be described as playful and energic. Also, their colors tend to be bright and vibrant making them an excellent option to add some color to your tank.

Bettas

Betta fish are great fish to have in smaller tanks. So, if you don’t have a lot of space to have a tank in your home, a betta fish could be a great option for you. Bettas are another popular choice because they are super easy to care for. Also, their vibrant and bold colors make them beautiful to watch.

However, Betta fish are not best suited to be paired with other Bettas, specifically males. Male bettas are aggressive toward other males. However, female Bettas are able to be kept together. Just make sure to keep it to one male Betta fish per tank. Other than that, they make peaceful fish in community tanks.

They are quite small in size, as they only grow up to 3 inches in length. They can housed in either small or large tanks, unlike a lot of other freshwater fish which should only be kept in larger tanks.

Rainbowfish

Rainbowfish come from the regions of Australia, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea. They grow up to 6 inches in length. They make great community fish, as they can get along with fish of any size. They also do well in schools of their same species.

Despite the name of this species, Rainbowfish only develop their bright colors when they get into adulthood. When they are younger, they tend to have a faded, dull color to them. In adulthood, males tend to have brighter colors compared to females.

Guppies

Guppies are a part of the Poeciliidae family. They are a tropical fish that originate from a multitude of regions in the world including Barbados, Brazil, Netherlands, Venezuela, and more. This is why they are one of the most popular fish among all countries.

Their lifespan is quite short compared to other freshwater fish, as they live only about 2 years on average. If treated well and taken care of properly, it can stretch up to 3 years.

They are an incredibly easy fish to take care of. They are nice to other fish, they are active, and they are not demanding in regards to their diet. Because they are friendly and peaceful, they are excellent fish to be kept in a community tank.

In terms of color, males tend to be much brighter than females. The colors range from a wide selection of bright and vibrant tones making them beautiful to look at in your tank.

Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios are native to South Asia. They belong to the minnow family of the order Cypriniformes. They often have a striped appearance to their scales hence the word “zebra” in their name.

Zebra Danios are extremely small, as they only grow to be about 5 – 7 centimeters in length. However, they still need to be kept in a tank at least the size of 10 gallons. This is because they are meant to live in schools of their own species. To prevent them from getting stressed, they should be kept in groups of at least five.

Generally speaking, if kept as pets or in captivity, Zebra Danios tend to have a lifespan of around 3-4 years.

Killifish

Killifish are known for their extremely bright appearance, and they come in a variety of vibrant colors. This makes them extremely popular because they are simply beautiful to look at. Their average size is around 1 to 3 inches in length with some larger outliers.

They are great for community tanks that hold mainly small, peaceful fish. However, male Killifish can be aggressive towards over male Killifish, so sticking to one male in your tank is your best bet.

Something interesting about the Killifish is that there are actually thousands of different sub-species of their species. They vary in appearance and behavior, so you can find a Killifish that suits your tank best.

They tend to jump out of the water, so having a lid on your tank is essential for this species.

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras Catfish, aka Cory Cats, is one of the easiest types of catfish to maintain. This is why they are so commonly found in household’s freshwater tanks. Their size is much smaller than other types of catfish, as they only grow to about 3 inches long.

This species does good in a community tank, but they should be kept with only the most peaceful other species to avoid any aggression. Also, they should be kept in schools of 6, as they thrive better and become less stressed.

Surprisingly, Cory Cats actually make your tank maintenance easier in a way. They clean the tank by picking up excess food from the gravel, but this does not mean you can feed them less.

Discus

The Discus species of freshwater fish come from the Cichlid family. They are quite popular among larger aquariums, as they require a tank at least the size of 25 gallons. This is due to the fact that they can grow pretty large in size (up to 7 inches long).

They are friendly and calm, so they make great fish for community tanks. However, one thing to keep in mind is that the water conditions must be maintained more frequently. It is important to keep other fish that have these same requirements.

Their colors and patterns ranging from fish to fish. For example, some fish have stripes and some have a checkerboard pattern. Some are bright orange and some are royal blue. Therefore, the appearance of the Discus fish you own is incredibly unique.

Mollies

Mollies are a tropical freshwater fish originating from Central and South America. They are relatively small, usually growing to around 3 to 4 inches in length.

Mollies typically do not come in multiple color variations. Instead, they are mainly black and white. They have two types of tails: short-finned and sail-finned. Short-finned mollies are most commonly bred.

They do great with another as a species, but they should never be kept with younger Mollies. This is because they have a tendency to eat their young. They do great with adult Mollies and other peaceful freshwater fish that are relatively small in size.

Swordtails

Swordtail fish are native to North America. Hence the name, this species of freshwater fish is unique because of its sword-shaped extended fin. They have a similar structure of a platy or guppy fish. However, their body tends to be a tiny bit bigger in size. They grow up to 6.5 inches in length, and the females are typically larger than the males.

This species of fish thrives in community tanks, and they do best in schools of their own species. However, some male Swordtails can become aggressive or territorial. Therefore, a larger tank would suit these fish best. They are peaceful, yet playful, so they make perfect fish to watch.

If you are breeding this type of fish, be sure to keep them away from their parents. This is a species where the parents often eat their young.

Cherry Barb

This fish is given its name because of its bright red color. However, before spawning, the male cherry barbs are usually silver and black with a line across their body. They are quite small in size, only coming in at about 2 inches.

These fish work well in schools, so they are perfect for community tanks. The males can be notoriously aggressive, so it is best to have more females than males in the tank. They should be kept in a tank at least 25 gallons in size.

They love to swim around and be playful in community tanks. However, it is important to also have some aquarium rocks because this species loves to hide away.

Platy

The Platy fish has a similar structure to the Guppy, and they can often be mistaken for each other. However, the Platy tends to be more active and playful. They belong to the Poecilia family which has over 170 species of different fish. They originate from Mexico and Central American regions.

This species is generally very easy to care for because they require little maintenance. They work best in community tanks where they can be active and flourish. They come in a wide range of vibrant colors. These things make Platy fish wonderful to look at. This also makes them a great option for beginners.

They are quite small, as they only grow up to approximately 1 to 3 inches in length. The females are typically larger than the males.

Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami fish originate from different regions in Asia. They live up to about 5 years, and they grow to be around 4 to 5 inches in length. Therefore, they require at least a 30-gallon tank in size.

They are known for their stunning appearance of pearl-looking spots all over their body and fins. This gives them a unique appearance that is not like any other freshwater fish. They are peaceful, yet active which makes them wonderful to watch in your tank. They are most happy in tanks with lots of plants.

One thing to keep in mind about this species of freshwater fish is that they, unfortunately, suffer from a disease called fin rot. Fin rot results in the decay and discoloration of the fins. Therefore, they do require a bit higher level of care. Nonetheless, they are still astonishing fish that would be an asset to any freshwater tank.

Oscars

The Oscar fish is a member of the Cichlid family. They come from the South American region, specifically from places like Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, and French Guinea. Oscar fish are some of the biggest freshwater fish that are common in everyday households. They grow up to 18 inches in length!

Oscars are some of the most intelligent fish, as well. They have a variety of unique traits that some people describe as human-like. When trained correctly, they are able to even do tricks. This makes them extremely interesting to watch in your tank.

However, Oscar fish are definitely not suitable for community tanks. They should only be kept in isolation or with other Oscar fish. They thrive in schools of other Oscar fish that contain about 5 fish. If you have too many of them, the tank will become overcrowded due to their large size.

Green Spotted Puffer Fish

This fish looks exactly how it sounds: a pufferfish that is green with spots. The vibrant green color makes them a fun fish to have in your tank. They are native to the Southeast Asia region.

The Green Spotted Puffer Fish is definitely one of the trickier fish to own in terms of maintenance. You have to filter the water more often than you would another species. Also, they will keep eating as long as you feed them, so it is crucial that you avoid overfeeding.

They are able to be kept in community tanks as long as they are big enough. Because of their active and playful nature, they need a larger space to swim in order to flourish.

Tiger Plecos

Tiger Plecos come from South American, specifically in the Amazon Basin. They range from 4 to 6 inches in length, and they live for 10 to 15 years if cared for properly. Because of their size and nature, they need to be kept in tanks at least the size of 40 gallons.

They usually do okay in community tanks, but they are known to be aggressive if kept in smaller tanks. This is why it is essential that you keep them in at least a 40-gallon tank, if not bigger. They are very peaceful if kept in a large enough environment, and they get along with lots of types of fish.

This species of fish is actually nocturnal. Therefore, during the day time, they especially enjoy planted aquariums where they can hide.

They can eat a wide variety of foods making them easier to care for.

Siamese Tigerfish

The Siamese Tigerfish gets its name from its tiger-like stripes which are usually yellow and black. They are native to Southeast Asia. They can grow up to 20 inches in length, making them one of the larger freshwater fish on this list. Also, their lifespan can last around 10 years.

These fish can only get along with some fish, so don’t put them in any community tank. They are known to be aggressive towards their own species, so avoid keeping them in schools at all costs. Also, they are aggressive towards smaller fish. The best environment to keep them in is either isolated or with other large fish.

Glassfish

Glassfish are native to South Asia, specifically regions like Malaysia and Pakistan. They are quite small in size, only being about 2 to 3 inches. They enjoy being kept in schools of five of their own species.

Something incredibly unique about this species of freshwater fish is its appearance. Hence the name, this fish is actually translucent, so you can see its skeletons and organs.

This fish has a lifespan of only 1 to 2 years. This is due to the fact that they are extremely prone to diseases and infections. To help prevent this, it is important to keep your tank clean at all times. To help them be protected against viruses, a water conditioner can aid in them fighting off diseases.

Hatchetfish

Hatchetfish are native to South America. They grow up to 3 inches in size, so they work best in schools of the same species or similar species in size. They only need a tank size of at least 10 gallons because they are not too active.

They are one of the fish that tend to try to jump out of the water, so having a secure lid to your tank is absolutely necessary with this species.

They usually work very well in community tanks due to their calm and peaceful nature.

Freshwater fish come in a variety of different colors, sizes, and behaviors. All of these fish are perfect for beginners as they are generally easy to maintain, and they are wonderful fish to own. Luckily, there are tons of freshwater fish to choose from if you are looking to build your at-home aquarium.

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