Top 10 Best Aquarium Fish For Beginners

According to a recent official survey, keeping fish has become an incredibly popular pastime, with over 139 million freshwater fish being kept in US home aquariums. And that’s not counting saltwater fish species!

When it comes to choosing the best pet fish for beginners and kids, we recommend freshwater fish. Generally, freshwater species are easier to care for and generally cheaper to buy than reef and marine fishes, making them ideal for newbies to the hobby.

Keep reading to discover our top ten best aquarium fishes for beginners!

Top 10 Aquarium Fishes For Beginners

In this listicle, we introduce our favorite top ten fish species that are perfect for setting you off on your fish-keeping adventure!

1. Flowerhorn Cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus)

  • Care level: Beginner
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Water temperature: 80° to 89°F

The exotic-looking Flowerhorn cichlid is surprisingly easy to care for. They also have a pretty long lifespan, so you’ll get to enjoy your pet for many years if you give it the correct care.

You won’t find Flowerhorns living in the wild environment since these fish are artificially created hybrids. 

Although you need a pretty big tank of 125 gallons to accommodate a pair, these cichlids are pretty easy to look after. Flowerhorns are carnivores, needing a diet that consists exclusively of meat, although they will eat frozen foods, which are readily available and easy to store.

If you want an interactive pet, Flowerhorn cichlids are perfect! These fish will come up to the water surface when you approach their tank and can even be trained to take food right out of your fingers.

2. Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Lifespan: up to 2 to 3 years
  • Water temperature: 68° to 82°F

Neon tetras are a staple in most tropical home aquariums. These brightly colored little shoaling fish can make a dazzling display when kept in large groups, flitting in and out of lush natural planting.

These are pretty hardy fish that are resistant to many of the most common aquarium fish diseases. However, Neons can be susceptible to parasitic disease if you don’t keep their tank clean and properly maintained.

These gorgeous little fish are peaceful creatures that make a good addition to a community tank of other small, active types. Also, there are several different species of Neon tetras. Many hobbyists enjoy keeping a blackwater nano biotope containing several species of Neons to create a beautiful, glittering display.

Finally, these pretty, omnivorous fish are inexpensive to buy, especially if you choose a group of six or more. 

3. Betta Fish (Betta Splendens)


  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Lifespan: 2 to 4 years
  • Water temperature: 60° to 80°F

After goldfish, bettas are the most popular choice of fishy friend, and they’re ideal for a beginner.

There are several reasons why bettas make a good choice for a newbie to the hobby. First of all, these exotic-looking fish are pretty easy to care for, provided that you have an aquarium of over 5 gallons and keep the water clean and at a stable temperature. Despite their glamorous looks, betta fish are not expensive to buy.

That said, you can only keep one male betta, as these fish are very territorial and will become aggressive if they feel that another betta is encroaching on their patch. However, you can keep a male betta with a few peaceful tank mates, shrimp, and snails.

Bettas come in many different forms and in a dazzling array of beautiful colors. You can even teach these intelligent fish a few simple tricks!

4. Redcap Oranda (Carassius auratus)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Water temperature: 65° to 72°F

Goldfish are just about the most popular choice of pet fish on the planet! In fact, we reckon you most likely had a goldfish when you were a kid! 

There are over 200 different recognized species of goldfish in existence today, ranging from the humble Common goldfish to rare and exotic species that are bred for the show ring. Goldfish are extremely hardy creatures that rarely succumb to diseases. You can even keep a goldfish in a garden pond all year round. Even in the depths of winter, these beautiful fish will be perfectly happy, keeping warm in the leaf litter and mud at the bottom of the pond.

The Redcap Oranda is an unusual species of goldfish that you can enjoy in your home fish tank or garden pond. These fish are readily available in most fish and pet stores for a reasonable price of just a few dollars. Although, like all goldfish, Recap Orandas are peaceful creatures, you will need a fairly large tank, as the tiny 2-inch specimen you buy at your local fish store will quickly grow into a 6 or 8-inch monster within a few years.

Also, goldfish are filthy fish, producing lots of waste, so you’ll need a very efficient filtration system to keep the water clean. That said, if you want to take your hobby to the next level, Redcap Orandas are quite easy to breed in captivity.

5. Powder Blue Gourami (Trichogaster Lalia variation)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Life Expectancy: up to 5 years
  • Water temperature: 72° to 82°F

The Powder Blue gourami is a stunningly beautiful labyrinth fish that you’ll find in many tropical freshwater aquariums.

These Dwarf gourami variants are ideal community fish that can live with other peaceful species in a spacious tank. Since these gouramis can be shy, we recommend that you keep a group of at least six individuals. Male Powder Blue gouramis can become aggressive during breeding, so it’s generally best to keep only males. Also, male Powder Blues tend to be larger and more brightly colored than females, so they create a better display.

Gouramis are quite sensitive to water quality, so you’ll need to keep their tank clean. Also, these fish are labyrinth breathers. That means that they need to visit the water surface periodically to take gulps of air into their labyrinth organ. So, you’ll need to keep the surface of the water clear of floating plants and other obstructions.

6. Fantail Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

gold fish

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years
  • Water temperature: 65° to 72°F

If you don’t want the hassle of keeping a tropical fish tank with a heater, you can’t go wrong with a good ol’ Fantail goldfish.

Fantails can be just as beautiful and exotic to look at once fully grown as many tropical and even marine fish. You can find these popular fish in many different gorgeous colors and patterns, too. Although Fantails aren’t the fastest swimmers, you still need a fairly large tank of at least 20 gallons for a pair of juveniles. However, goldfish do best when kept in small groups, so a garden pond might be an option for you.

Goldfish are fun pets to keep, often becoming tame enough to take food from your fingers and rushing to the front of the tank whenever you appear. But don’t be fooled! The fish are merely begging for food, not for your company! Goldfish are omnivores, and they will eat pretty much whatever will fit into their mouths. So, a diet of readily available frozen foods and goldfish pellets is perfect.

If you decide to take on Fantails, you will need a good filtration system to keep the water clean, as these are very dirty fish.

7. Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Life Expectancy: 3 to 4 years
  • Water temperature: 70° to 77°F

Platies are extremely popular tropical fish that you’ll see in many beginner fish tanks. These brightly colored, active little fish are extremely hardy and easy to look after, too.

These fish are livebearers. That means they give birth to tiny, fully-formed, live fry. Platies breed on a very regular basis, producing dozens of babies in one spawning. Unfortunately, many of the fry will be eaten by their parents or other occupants of your tank. However, some usually survive by hiding among your plants until they’re too big to be viewed as lunch.

Platies come in a dazzling range of colors and patterns, and you can even find varieties with long tails.

8. Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Life Expectancy: up to 5 years
  • Water temperature: 74° to 80°F

Cory catfish are incredibly popular with beginner aquariums for many reasons!

Cories are super-hardy, rarely succumbing to any of the common fish diseases that affect other aquarium fish. These fish are bottom feeders, readily scavenging plant matter and scraps of leftover food, helping to keep the tank clean.

Since Corydoras only grow to a maximum of 3 inches long, you can keep a small group of them in a relatively small tank. Ideally, you want to keep a school of five or more of these cute, sociable little fish. There are currently 161 recognized species of these delightful little catfish, many of which are suitable for life in a home fish tank.

Cories are readily available and inexpensive to buy, making them a great choice for a beginner’s aquarium.

9. Kuhli Loaches (Pangio kuhlii)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Life Expectancy: up to 10 years
  • Water temperature: 7°5 to 86°F

Kuhli loaches are beautiful little fishes that are sometimes mistaken for tiny eels or even water snakes. However, these are indeed fish!

The main drawback for a beginner is that carnivorous Khuli loaches need a diet consisting entirely of live food. However, if you’re up for that challenge, these fascinating little fish are pretty straightforward to care for.

These loaches live on the bottom of the tank, spending much of their lives hiding in caves, underneath rocky overhangs, or buried within the fronds of lush plants. You probably won’t see much of these loaches during the daytime, as they’re mainly nocturnal, emerging after lights out to feed. 

Ideally, you should keep these shy fish in small schools of three or four individuals. That gives the loaches the confidence they need to venture out into the open so that you can watch them under subdued lighting.

10. Boesemani Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani)

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Life Expectancy: 5 to 8 years
  • Water temperature: 76° to 82°F

Many beginners balk at the idea of taking on the exotic Boesemani Rainbowfish. However, those who are brave enough to do so will be rewarded with a truly gorgeous fish that lights up any aquarium.

Actually, these fish are not especially difficult to care for, provided you have a clean, well-maintained aquarium with an efficient filter and a generous flow rate. These Rainbowfish are a schooling species that need to live in groups of at least five individuals, preferably more. For that reason, you’ll need a tank of at least 40 gallons. The aquarium should be set up with lots of open swimming space for the fish to shoal, and you’ll need lots of lush planting around the perimeter, too.

Sadly, these beautiful fish are often overlooked in fish stores, as their colors don’t develop fully until the fish reach adulthood. The juveniles that you see in fish shops are rather drab, lacking the glittering half-and-half coloration of the adults.

In the wild environment, the fish inhabit a very limited range, and they are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as their habitat is threatened. Also, due to overfishing, the Boesemani Rainbowfish that you find in the trade are mostly captive-bred.

Our Pick

Of the fish we’ve reviewed in this guide, we recommend the intelligent, beautiful betta fish as a good choice for a newbie to the hobby. 

Your betta buddy can learn tricks, come to recognize you, and even respond to your voice. Bettas are also pretty easy to care for, quite hardy, and relatively inexpensive to buy. 

In Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this list of our ten favorite aquarium fishes for beginners.

We recommend these fish as they’re easy to care for, undemanding in their dietary requirements, and suitable for life in a peaceful, community aquarium. Also, most of these fish are relatively inexpensive to buy and are hardy enough to survive most of the rookie errors that beginners make.

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