Affiliate disclosure for Amazon and eBay. 

Let’s be honest, like a clown at a birthday party, some of these links contain sprinkles of affiliate magic. Clicking one might mean I get a teeny tiny reward (think: enough for a fancy goldfish, not a life-sized mermaid statue for my pool). Of course at no extra cost to you. But fear not, my endorsement is pure as aquarium water (after a good filter change, of course)! I only recommend stuff I truly feel fin-tastic about.

The Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners in 2024 w/ 16 pictures

by | Jan 31, 2024

aquarium fish for beginners
  • Guppies
  • Bettas
  • Neon Tetras
  • Platies
  • Corydoras Catfish

Introduction:

Finding the best fish for beginners is no easy task. There are so many options, and they are all beautiful.

In this article, we cut through the clutter. You may have read our guide, The 20 Best Fish for Beginners, but today we’ll focus on the top 5 candidates to be your first aquarium fish.

Guppies

Blue colored guppy

Tap Here to Discover the Best Deals on Guppies on Amazon.

Why do we like them?

Guppies turn aquariums into art pieces.

Guppies are energetic swimmers that have risen to fame thanks to their vibrant colors and elaborate tails. They are like the peacocks of the water and thrive in communities of other guppies.

What that means to you is that even if you don’t have top-notch aquarium design skills, you could still place them in a tank and have nothing shy of an art piece.

They are fun to feed:

When it comes to food, there are 23 different options to what guppies eat, making it a great opportunity to bond with your fish. They’ll take anything from regular fish food to live food like brine shrimp and even plain veggies like cucumber, spinach, and zucchini.

This gives you more opportunities to watch them swim and interact with them, which is a pretty relaxing activity. They might be the best fish for beginners. 

You have a chance to share your fishy wisdom with the world! 🐟

Don’t miss this opportunity to tell us which fish are the best for beginners. Whether you love guppies, tetras, goldfish, or something else, we want to hear from you! 

The survey is waiting for you at the end of this page: Just scroll down or Tap Here to get started

They are friendly:

Guppies are very peaceful fish that are known for their mild nature. That means that if you decide to bring on additional species, like shrimp, crabs, or other fish that will be mentioned further down the page, you’d be able to do so without worry.

Ease of care

Guppies are very easy to care for. This is why so many beginners start out with them. They require four things to thrive:

  1. The aquarium
  2. A filter
  3. An aquarium heater
  4. A few aquarium decorations.

Guppies are also relatively clean fish that don’t soil the aquarium like others. They’re hardy as well, meaning you have greater room for error as you learn the ins and outs of the hobby.

half blue guppy

 Amazon Has the Guppies You’ve Been Looking For – Tap Here to See Them

Negatives:

Guppies breed pretty rapidly. Just to give you an idea, the average female gives birth to 20 to 100 fry every single month. The minimum tank you can get is a 10-gallon tank that will house about 4 females and 2 males.

You can do the math; population control is a must. The bad news is that guppies rarely eat their offspring. You will want a predator fish, like an angelfish, in with your guppies to keep the numbers down.

 

Betta Fish

Betta white and red

Your local pet store wishes they had betta fish like these.  Tough nuggets for them  but good for you. Tap to view (eBay).

Why we like them:

Of course, their beauty is the main reason. They bring a certain kind of elegance to a fish tank. Most of their body is their tail, which has a very regal flow to it.

Just like guppies, bettas are known for their vibrant colors, adding instant splendor to any aquarium.

They have great personalities:

Beauty isn’t everything in life, is it?

The Ultimate Guide to Bristlenose Plecostomus Fish: Care, Breeding, and More!

albino bristlenose pleco

“These bizarre looking fish look like they came from another, alien world…”

The Secret to Creating a WordPress Blog that Earns You Money with Divi

I created this aquarium website using DIVI.

 I’ve used divi for at least 4 years now and strongly recommend it. Tap to visit.

The Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners in 2024

orange and white platy in an aquarium

You can do the math; population control is a must. The bad news is that guppies rarely eat their offspring. You will want a predator fish, like an angelfish, in with your guppies to keep the numbers down.

Bettas are packed with personality and are naturally curious. They like to explore the tank, swim side-to-side, and interact with the decorations you place in their aquarium.

Great for bonding:

Out of all of the best fish for beginners out there, you’ll find the most people who swear up and down that their betta recognizes them when they come back from work. They are fun to feed and will take a variety of foods, like commercial fish food and live food like brine shrimp.

Ease of care:

Betta fish are relatively easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for beginners. They require minimal maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

They thrive in warm water temperatures, ideally between 75°F and 80°F, but they can adapt to slightly cooler temperatures as well.

They are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet, readily accepting both commercial flakes or pellets and live or frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp.

“Cup ‘o Betta” from you local pet store, or this bad boy? Easy choice. Tap to buy on eBay. 

Betta Fish Negatives:

While betta fish are generally low-maintenance, their territorial behavior can pose challenges in community tanks. They may exhibit aggression towards other fish, particularly those with long, flowing fins or bright colors that they perceive as rivals.

What that means is that a single betta is the end all be all. You’ll probably only get a single betta, and other tankmates like shrimp or crabs are impossible, mainly because the betta will attack and kill them.

 

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetra fish in a planted aquarium

Do you hate neon tetras? Then for goodness sakes don’t tap here (eBay)!

Why we like them:

Glowing Color:

Neon tetras are like a living light show in your tank. Where guppies and bettas have vibrant colors that catch your eye, neon tetras have a shimmer to them that makes them stand out.

They are best for rooms that have a lot of light, whether it’s natural or artificial. These little guys can shine brighter than a disco ball. They are called neon tetras for a reason.

Peaceful Vibes:

They are compatible with a lot of other fish breeds and rarely have aggression issues.

That makes caring for them simple. As long as you stock your tank correctly with enough hiding spots in the form of decorations, they’ll be well behaved, which will eliminate a lot of headaches.

Made for tanks big and small:

Neon tetras make great tankmates. Since they are schooling fish, they swim in a coordinated pattern that provides them protection from predators. That also means they play defense most of the time and are not trying to go after other tankmates for their own gain.

A lot of beginners start with a small tank with just a few tetras and slowly grow into a bigger tank that includes other fish like corydora catfish and shrimp.

Ease of care:

Neon tetras are incredibly adaptable and forgiving, making them an excellent choice for beginners. They prefer acidic to neutral water with a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F. Neon tetras are omnivores and will readily accept a varied diet of high-quality flake foods, freeze-dried foods, and live or frozen foods.

Paracheirodon innesi. What?? They’re neon tetras. Period. Buy your neon tetras by tapping here (eBay). 

Negatives:

While neon tetras are generally hardy and easy to care for, they can be sensitive to fluctuations in water quality. It’s essential to maintain stable water parameters and perform regular water changes to ensure their health and well-being.

Additionally, neon tetras are small and may be intimidated or outcompeted for food by larger or more aggressive tankmates. Careful consideration should be given to tankmates to ensure compatibility and minimize stress.

 

Platies

Platy

Platies: Embarrassing name. Gorgeous fish. Tap here to view more on Amazon.

Color, Color and More Color:

You’ve heard it before, and now you’re hearing it again: Platies are beautiful. Unlike guppies and tetras, platies are more limited in their color range, with most being anything from bold oranges and fiery reds to subtle pastels and metallic hues.

And just like the others, you can simply add them to the water and have yourself an impressive underwater world.

They Are Hardy and Adaptable:

Platies are incredibly hardy and adaptable fish, making them well-suited for beginning hobbyists. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, including fluctuations in temperature and pH, making them forgiving of minor mistakes.

Their resilience and adaptability mean that even novice aquarists can enjoy success with platies, providing a satisfying and rewarding fishkeeping experience.

“Unleash Your Inner Tiger Barb Fish Expert: Learn the Ins and Outs of Care, Keeping, Feeding, and Breeding!”

Tiger barbs and a platy in my tank

Are Tiger Barbs peaceful or aggressive?

“Peaceful but they are fin-nippers and they do pick on each other…”

Male and female platy in my aquarium

Image above: Platies in the website owners aquarium

I did a fool stunt…by shoplifting these platies! Dont be me. Tap here to buy instead (Amazon).

(Chill. No actual shoplifting was involved in the writing of the above blurb. sheesh). 

Prolific Breeders

One of the most interesting aspects of keeping platies is their prolific breeding behavior. As livebearing fish, they are known for their rapid reproduction, with females giving birth to large numbers of fry every few weeks.

While this may seem overwhelming at first, it provides beginner fishkeepers with an opportunity to observe the fascinating process of birth and growth in their own aquarium. Plus, raising platy fry can be a rewarding and educational experience for fish keepers of all ages.

This said, like guppies that are also livebearers, you should consider keeping a predator fish with them to control the platy population.

Ease of care:

Platies are exceptionally hardy and adaptable, making them an excellent choice for beginners. They can thrive in a wide range of water conditions, although they prefer slightly alkaline to neutral water with a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F. Platies are omnivores and will readily accept a varied diet of high-quality flake foods, freeze-dried foods, and live or frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp.

Negatives:

One potential drawback of platies is their propensity for breeding.

Like guppies, platies are livebearers and can produce large numbers of fry if conditions are favorable. While this can be exciting, it can also lead to overcrowding if it is not managed properly. Population control measures, such as separating males and females, may be necessary to prevent overpopulation in the tank.

Additionally, platies may nip at the fins of long-finned or slow-moving tank mates, so compatibility should be carefully considered when selecting tank mates.

Corydoras Catfish

It there a cuter freshwater fish?? I don’t think so. Tap here to put a few in your aquarium (eBay).

Why we like them:

Grow Your Own Live Fish Food – 8 Easy Types

“To the container, add lettuce, spirulina, yeast or best, farm animal dung. Fill your container with conditioned water and your choice of the mentioned ingredients.”

Bottom-Dwelling Clean-Up Crew

Corydoras catfish have risen to fame for their role as bottom-dwelling scavengers, tirelessly scouring the substrate for leftover food. With their delicate barbels and specialized mouths, they are expert cleaners, helping to keep the aquarium clean and free of leftover food.

They are a gentle, peaceful fish type.

Despite their name, Corydoras catfish are gentle and peaceful creatures that coexist with many different tankmates. They are non-aggressive and unlikely to bother other fish, making them excellent community fish for beginner aquariums.

Fascinating Behavior

Corys are not just cleaners; they’re also fascinating creatures in their own right. They are incredibly sociable and are known for their playful antics and curious nature, often engaging in darting, exploring, and even playing around with tank decorations.

Watching them interact with their surroundings and each other adds another layer of fun to the aquarium, making them a delightful and entertaining addition for the absolute beginner.

Ease of care

Corydora catfish are incredibly hardy and adaptable, making them an excellent choice for beginners. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, although they prefer acidic to neutral water with a temperature range of 72°F to 78°F.

Cory cats are omnivores and will readily accept a varied diet of sinking pellets, algae wafers, and live or frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp.

Panda Corydora

THE SECRET OF MAKING PEOPLE LIKE YOU. (Buy Corydoras Catfish on eBay).

Negatives

One potential challenge with Corydoras catfish is their sensitivity to poor water quality. They have delicate barbels that are susceptible to damage from rough substrate or debris, so it’s essential to provide a soft, sandy substrate and maintain excellent water quality through regular water changes and tank maintenance.

Additionally, Cory cats are peaceful and may be outcompeted for food by more aggressive tank mates, so care should be taken to provide adequate feeding opportunities for all fish in the tank.

Summing Up

We’ve covered a lot, so let’s wrap up everything mentioned:

If you are going for color, choose guppies, bettas, tetras, or platies.

If you want multiple colorful fish – choose guppies, tetras or platies

If you want a single fish – choose a betta.

If you want a low maintenance fish – choose a corydoras catfish.

Comparision Table – 5 easy, best fish for beginners:

Guppies

blue guppy on a black background

Very, very easy

Peaceful and Gentle

Livebearers

Drawbacks: Extremely prolific – cull heavily or add a predator fish.

Betta Fish

Yellow male betta fish

Easy

Usually peaceful. Interacts with owner.

Nesting egglayers. Male guards eggs.

Drawbacks: Males are aggressive towards other male betta fish.

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetra fish in a planted aquarium

Medium

Peaceful, schooling fish. Little interaction with owner. 

Egg Layers. Fry are extemely small. 

Drawbacks: To stay healthy they prefer fairly acidic water. 6.0  pH.

Corydoras Catfish

Panda Corydora

Medium

Peaceful, schooling fish. Little interaction with owner. 

Egg Layers

Drawbacks: To stay healthy they prefer clean water. Frequent water changes.

Platies

Very easy

Peaceful & gentle. Will interact with the owner. 

Prolific livebearers

Drawbacks: Same issue as guppies but not quite as bad. Add a predator fish.