Top 12 fish for beginners

Top 12 Fish for Beginners; everything you need to know

Top 12 Fish for Beginners: Freshwater aquariums are the perfect way to start with the hobby of fishkeeping. In this article we have explained the best and easy fish to keep and start your aquarium hobby


Freshwater aquariums are the perfect way to start with the hobby of fishkeeping. They are low-maintenance and generally less expensive than saltwater tanks. The key to success is choosing the right fish for your tank.

There are many factors that will affect what kind of fish you should get for your freshwater aquarium. You need to take into account what type of water, temperature, and how much space you have available in your tank. However, there are some beginner friendly species of freshwater fish that are ideal for anyone looking to get started with their own freshwater aquarium.

Most of the fish recommended here are good for beginners and for a community-style tank.

Here are some of the top ten best fish for beginners:

Kuhli loach

Kuhli Loach
Kuhli Loach

Cooley loach is a bottom dweller it’s goanna hang out down low they’re fairly nocturnal and what that means is they don’t like a whole lot of light, they prefer like low light, more active when the light is dim so if you can dim the light down or turn one of the lights off or something like that when you’re feeding them it makes it a lot easier form they like to hang out at the bottom of caves and rock formations pieces of wood roots of plants any of those things and get a little group or posse of these of three to six they’re good scavengers and so you do need to feed them they don’t get much bigger than about that and they’re cool because they’re lie snakes and since they hide behind plants and burrows into the soil it is difficult to catch them.

They are easy to take care and they live long often times they are one of the last remaining fish if someone’s neglected an aquarium, they can live for 7 or 8 years. They’re hidden most the time they don’t really run into the problem of aggression from other aggressive fish as they stay hidden for most of the times

Bristlenose Plecostomus

Bristlenose Pleco
Bristlenose Pleco

This is my most recommended algae eater or kind of clean-up crew type of fish now I don’t think that every aquarium has to have one but in general everyone ends up owning one, subtle difference I know you can balance an aquarium without needing something to eat algae but most people get one because they look cool it’s a different level they kind of hang out the bottom or up on the glass they’re a sucker fish and lot of people end up buying one once they visit a pet store.

Bristlenose Plecostomus is a great choice they get all these bristles on his face and that’s how you

know it’s a male a female not so much now they do want a little bit of wood in their diet so if you got some driftwood in there that helps I do want some meat in their diet so get them some good quality food and they do want to eat on some algae and they want to eat all the time and again like a Cooley loach they prefer to do that when it’s a little more dim .

The issue you can run into is if you’ve got other bigger fish in there and you dropped the

food in they gobble up all the food and the bristlenose pleco doesn’t get time to eat because they eat slow so they want to eat the food over the hours.

They do take a dedicated effort to be fed they’re highly tolerant of all different types of water parameters temperatures you can keep them with goldfish, you can keep them with tetras, you can keep them with discus.

They really go with this wide span of water parameters or forgiving but they do have a preferred

range and that’s kind of moderate in the middle there of like a pH is 7 to 7 and temperatures a 72 to 80 you know in that span of what’s normal tropical fish community fish temperatures and ranges

they do really well and so that’s goanna allow most people to have success with this fish

Black Neon Tetras

Black Neon Tetras
Black Neon Tetras

This is a tetra that is always been fairly cheap been very Hardy gets a little bit bigger than neon tetra and they just seem to withstand the new person mistakes and that might be water quality issues or temperature issues. They are nice schooling fish they’re usually 2 or 3 bucks get a get a group of like 6 or more. They look good their schooling around or interact with your live plants. The are quite forgiving fish and is definitely good for a beginner as they require less caring and they adapt well to varying temperature or water parameters.

They aren’t too picky when it comes to eating and things like that and they genuinely transition really well from the fish store to your home aquarium

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasboras
Harlequin Rasboras

I think it’s because it looks so cool and it’s got the elements of like the black neon tetra where it’s very Hardy it also tends to be a cheaper fish usually under about four dollars now this fish gets about that big the orange can get very intense on the males and it’s got black on there as well and in general it’s a nice schooling fish again kind of six or more on that and as you fall in love with them maybe you go to 12 18 depending on how big your aquarium is but they are readily available at most pet stores.

They are fine with wide variety of water parameters like all the fish on this list we want it to be easy for a beginner.

Albino Corydoras

Albino Corydoras
Albino Corydoras

This is another bottom dweller and that is the albino Corydoras and it is yellowy whitish colour, these guys are a schooling catfish or at least a group catfish that lives down low and they get about two and a half inches and cheap so those are good things when it comes to be picking out beginner fish and what their job is to pick up any kind of food leftover from feeding your fish.

They help to keep the gravel clean from any leftover food. They are very easy fish and goes well with all kinds of fish. They are a good tank mate for community fish.

They are very hardy fish and tend to live longer, I have been keeping 3 of them for last 7 years.

It is highly recommended to get yourself six or more if it is a big aquarium but smaller aquarium you can go for 3.

Cherry Barb’s

Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs

You might have heard Barb’s are aggressive yes some Barb’s are very aggressive the Cherry Barb’s tend to be on the non-aggressive I would say they’re not really any more aggressive than your average tetra or rasboras. The male’s get all this really dark red colour look amazing and then the females get this like oh kind of tannish red and don’t look as amazing but if you don’t have females the male’s won’t look as good too you have a chance that you could breed these in your aquarium you could have a group of six you got three boys three girls.

They are very tolerant of water parameters whether it’s temperature pH or anything they are tolerant and they eat mid water they look really good in a planted tank.

Red eye tetra

Red Eye Tetra
Red Eye Tetra

This tetra is a very robust tetra it’s it gets to be a bigger body it gets to be a little bit longer it’s typically a little cheaper it’s not as flashy but this is a great fish to add in you get a group of six or more of these Red eye/ Monk tetras and they’re just goanna school around mostly just eat mid water they’re slightly more fast than your average fish to go and get food but that’s okay they mix in with all the other fish that we’ve recommended and they’re very Hardy and tolerant of wide water parameters and forgiving.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White cloud mountain minnows
White cloud mountain minnows

There’s a few different varieties and they’re all cool what I want to make sure is you don’t buy feeder white clouds which is used as feeder for other big fish, these raised poorly so dont buy these ones.

The normal white cloud that’s a couple of bucks and it’s about this big and it doesn’t have to have a heater and it can go outside for at least part of the year here it can go around year-round and they can live in small tanks and the male’s say they spar with each other and by sparring this kind of put up their fins like a peacock and but they look super cool to all the other males and girls and you get to witness that makes a great addition to your tank. I wouldn’t put them in if you’re keeping temperatures very hot they don’t like that, they generally prefer cooler temperatures.

They tolerate pH and hardness almost doesn’t matter but when you start getting above about eighty degrees they start running into some illness problems.

Siamese Algae eater

Siamese Algae Eaters
Siamese Algae Eaters

I want to add in another cleaner fish the Siamese algae are not to be confused with the Chinese alligator or the Siamese fighting fish. This is a fish that gets about six inches so you’re going to be a big fish yes it could be a big fish in your aquarium they’re very good at eating hair algae’s and different types of algae’s. When it grows bigger its looks like a shark but it’s goanna help you keep your plants clean keep your glass, wood and substrate clean but it also eats flake food and you know any food you’re goanna put in there.

They are a schooling fish but do they do well in a group so I would recommend to get 3 or more depending on the tank size as they tend to grow fast to 3 or 4 inches.

They tolerate very wide water parameters. They are quite fast and they’ll make sure they get their portion of food so if you got an army of these Siamese algae eaters make sure you’re putting in quite

a bit of food but in general they are really nice for Blackbeard algae’s and hair algae’s. Once they get bigger they tend to eat less algae’s and more fish food. They are generally good algae eaters when they are small in size.

Endlers Livebearers

Endler Livebearer
Endler Livebearer

I don’t advise too many different live bearers for new people because they have specific water requirements and they they’re beautiful but can be heavily inbred when it comes to this Endler livebearer it’s a very basic live bear lots of colour in it looks kind of like a wild guppy but because it looks so good in the wild it has never been able to or never needed to be line bred so that we get the

colour and what that means is it’s very adaptable so it can live in PH as low as kind of 6.5 to 7 and higher but there and it can tolerate maybe down to 68 degrees maybe 65 degrees as far as temperature goes and I can go to 80 to 84F.

They keep reproducing and they make a ton so if you’re looking for that I want to make a ton not by very many this is a great fish to do that and it’s forgiving they don’t have giant tails on them to get bacterial infections or anything like that they’re a nimble fish they’re quick so they don’t get picked on by your tetras and other stuff.


Black Molly

Black Mollys is another live bearer which is very easy keep, it can adapt quickly to different environments. They usually like warm temperatures so if you have cold weather, please do use a heater. Since they are live bearers, they quickly breed and you will quickly have a colony of fishes.

They are good algae eaters so it is also recommended for a planted tank and they are very cheap to buy as well. It is a good beginner fish as it is very hardy.



Guppies are very easy to keep but it likes slightly harder water and warmer temperatures. Use a heater if you can cold weather at your place but these are very easy to keep.

They are live bearers so easily breed and you will develop a colony of fishes quickly, if you keep the guppies in a community tank, the breeding will be controlled as other fishes might also eat the small babies so your community of fishes will be on check. They tend to inbred within their group so you might loose the quality of fishes in the long run, in case you have keep the quality of the fishes then it is best to separate males and females and then to do a selective breeding to get the best fishes for your tank.


I have listed only few fishes for beginners but there are lot of fish out there which are good for beginners. I would suggest to start the hobby with few of the above fishes and then experiment with other fishes. Pleas ensure that whenever you are selecting fishes it should be compatible and also temperature and other parameters might be slightly different from one species to another.

If you have some doubts please do reach out to me



  1. International Federation of Online Clubs and Aquatic Societies (IFOCAS)
  2. Federation of British Aquatic Societies (FBAS)
  3. Northeast Council of Aquarium Societies (NEC)
  4. Federation of American Aquarium Societies (FAAS)
  5. Marine Aquarium Council (MAC)
  6. UK Aquatic Plant Society 
  7. International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC)
  8. ADA – Nature Aquarium

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