Freshwater Aquarium Fish: The Ultimate Guide 2021

Are you planning to keep freshwater fish in an aquarium? Before you decide to buy freshwater fish to keep, you should first have the knowledge. In this article we will provide you with all the information you need to know before starting to buy freshwater aquarium fish. We’ll make recommendations about which freshwater aquarium fish (for both beginners and experts) and how to maintain a healthy aquarium for the fish to live and thrive.

When it comes to maintaining an aquarium, there are many decisions that affect how easy it is to maintain an aquarium and how difficult it is to care for the fish you have. Many aspiring aquarium owners choose freshwater aquariums because they are easy to maintain without buying the most expensive equipment. Maintaining a simple freshwater aquarium offers the advantage that maintaining the aquarium does not require the expense of complex set-up.

Keeping a Freshwater Aquarium Fish: The Essential Things

Keeping a Freshwater Aquarium Fish

Keep The Fish Tank Temperature At The Ideal Point

Many people might argue that maintaining a freshwater aquarium is not difficult, but there are certain aspects to consider when working with a simple aquarium in order for your aquarium to thrive. It is important to remember that in order to maintain life in the aquarium, the temperature in the aquarium must be kept within certain condition.

Most people can maintain the temperature to collect the fish in the aquarium. But many people ignore the life of the plants they plant in their tanks, and this also depends on the temperature of the water.

To create an optimal aquarium atmosphere, it is important to choose fish that will thrive at the same temperature range and plants that can be kept within that range. The optimal temperature range for freshwater aquarium fish is 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. For plants, the recommended average temperature is 76 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

pH of Freshwater Fish Tanks

The pH (aka hydrogen potential) of the water in the aquarium is another important factor for any aquarium. Different fish species require different pH levels in the aquarium. Some types of fish can tolerate higher levels of acidity or pH than others.

We recommend that you do not mix fish requiring acid tanks with fish requiring less acidic ones to improve the health of your fish. Mixing two fish species that have different pH requirements will ultimately result in the death of one of the fish species in the aquarium.

Like temperature, pH is another factor that not only affects the health of the fish in the tank, but also affects the health of the plant life in the tank. The optimal mean pH of freshwater fish is between 6.5 and 7.5; The recommended pH for freshwater plants is 6.0 and 7.5.

Test and Check Water Parameters

Apart from the temperature and pH in the aquarium, there are many other factors that must also be considered in maintaining the health of the aquarium.

In order to control all of these parameters, you will need to purchase a water tester that will allow you to track all of these parameters in your aquarium.

Some of the parameters that should be measured using this domestic freshwater tester are included (together with the ideal values).

  • Ammonia (zero)
  • Nitrite (zero)
  • Nitrate (less than 50ppm)
  • Alkalinity (between 4 and 8 KH)
  • General water hardness (between 4 and 12 GH)

Many beginner aquarium owners are concerned about maintaining the initial water balance. However, a home test kit and water treatment formula can help quickly and easily resolve any mismatches in the values ​​required for a healthy aquarium.

Populate a Freshwater Aquarium

Many people are less enthusiastic about maintaining a freshwater aquarium than a saltwater aquarium because they think saltwater life is much more interesting and diverse. While there are differences between the types of fish that can survive in freshwater versus saltwater, there is a lot of diversity that can be achieved simply by selecting freshwater fish to fill the tank.

The most important factors when choosing freshwater fish are compatibility and experience.


If you want to combine different types of fish in your aquarium, it is important to choose a suitable fish. Do not mix aggressive fish with peaceful fish, as this will result in a quick death for the peaceful breeding fish.


Experience is another important factor when choosing the fish you want for your aquarium, as some fish are easier to care for than others, even in a freshwater setting. For inexperienced aquarium owners, choosing recommended fish species for experienced aquarium owners will be not only frustrating but also expensive.

The fish, which is only recommended for qualified handling, is not used in vain. They are not tough fish and require much more fish experience and knowledge than most beginners. While there is nothing to stop a beginner from buying a much more advanced fish farm, this fish is often expensive to buy and without proper care can quickly die out, leading to a very expensive lesson.

Freshwater Aquarium Fish For Beginners

There are a number of aquarium fish that are highly recommended for aspiring freshwater aquarium owners, including glofish, cichlids, fighting fish, goldfish, spiny fish, and guppies. Read on to learn more about different types of fish.


glofish tetra freshwater aquarium fish

Glofish is a species of zebrafish known for its ability to glow. These fluorescent fish glows in dark aquariums and are increasingly popular as starter fish for kids looking to maintain their own freshwater aquarium. Glofish is a peaceful fish and should only combine with other peaceful fish that thrive in water between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Glofish requires an omnivorous diet and requires at least a gallon tank to grow to about 2 1/2 inches.


Cichlids freshwater aquarium fish

Cichlids are durable fish suitable for beginners and come in a wide variety. They are a very attractive and aggressive fish and can grow up to 8 inches in length, which means a minimum tank size of around 70 gallons. Although these large freshwater aquarium fish are easy to care for, they do require a carnivorous diet. This fish requires an average tank temperature of 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 7.8 to 8.6.

Peppered Cory Cat

Peppered Cory Cat freshwater aquarium fish

The peppered Cory cat is another popular fish that makes a great fish for newcomers to a freshwater aquarium. This silvery fish has thin black markings that touch the body and are especially good for particularly peace fish. It is required minimum aquarium size for this fish is 30 gallons, and the peppered Cory cat needs an aquarium temperature of 72 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 5.8 to 7.0.

The peppered Cory cat comes from South America and is naturally omnivorous. It feeds on catfish pellets, as well as freeze-dried, mosquito larvae, quality flake and other frozen and live worms.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfis Freshwater aquarium fish

The Otocinclus Catfish is another affordable fish for any freshwater aquarium beginner. This slim fish is not as bright as other freshwater fish, which is why many people don’t realize it, but it is very hardy. The minimum recommended aquarium size for this fish is 30 gallons, and these fish are peaceful, making it easy to find aquarium mates for this species. These fish needs an aquarium temperature of 74 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.8 to 7.5. comes from South America, this fish is a herbivore that prefers a diet rich in vegetation and algae. With no algae in the aquarium, Otocinclus needs additional nutrients rich in vegetation. This fish has a maximum length of 2 “.

Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb freshwater aquarium fish

The cherry barb has a gorgeous pink color that attracts many freshwater aquarium owners. This small aquarium fish from Sri Lanka is no more than 2 inches long and is a very peaceful fish. The Cherry Barb is a tough, easy-to-care fish that prefers an aquarium temperature of 74 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. This small fish comes from Sri Lanka and is an omnivore that prefers a wide variety of foods, including cereals and meats such as mosquito larvae and salted shrimp. The minimum recommended aquarium size for a Cherry Barb is 30 gallons.

Boesemani Rainbow

Boesemani Rainbow freshwater aquarium fish

The Boesmani rainbow fish is another fish that is popular with many freshwater aquarium owners for its vibrant, beautiful color. Unlike some of the colorful fish mentioned earlier, the Boesemani rainbow is slightly more expensive. But, because it is peaceful and easy to care for, it is still recommended as a good starter fish for beginners. This fish comes from Thailand. It is an omnivore and prefers a diet of flaky, frozen and live foods, but it is important to only feed smaller foods that can fit in the fish’s small throat. This fish has a maximum size of approximately 3 inches in length and requires a minimum aquarium size of approximately 30 gallons. The ideal water temperature for this fish is between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 7.0 and 8.0.

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasbora is a particularly affordable fish with a beautiful orange color and black triangle on the back of the body. These fish prefer to swim at the top of the aquariums which are a minimum of 10 gallons. The ideal aquarium temperature for this simple-calm fish is 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH of the water should be between 6.0 and 6.5. The maximum length of these fish is about 2 inches. Comes from Asia, the harlequin rasbora is an omnivorous fish that lives on a diet that includes flakes and freeze-dried mosquito larvae and tubifex.

Albino Peacock Cichlid

Albino Peacock Cichlid

The albino Peacock Cichlid is a beautiful sparkling pink and white fish speckled with fluorescent blue and yellow spots. As an albino fish, this fish has pink eyes. The minimum recommended size for this fish is 50 gallons, as adults of this species can grow up to 5 inches. Hailing from the US, the albino peacock cichlid is a predatory fish that prefers meat and vegetables. The diet is flakes and pellets in addition to live or frozen shrimp, these fish prefer an aquarium temperature of 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 7.8 to 8.6.

Bleeding Heart Platy

The Bleeding Heart Platy is a red-striped fish that is popular with many aquarium owners due to its many color variations. This fish is easy to care for, it has a calm character. Ideal water conditions for bleeding Heart Platy include a water temperature of 64–77 ° F and a pH of 7.0–8.2. These fish grow to a maximum size of two inches and require a minimum tank size of ten gallons. Bleeding heart plately is omnivorous and can feed on most commercially available flake foods in addition to lyophilized mosquito larvae and shrimp. This is a fairly affordable fish.

False Tigrinus Catfish

False Tigrinus Catfish

The false tigrinus catfish is a jet black fish with silver stripes that give it the name “Tigrinus”. These fish are natural bottom dwellers of the Amazon and need an aquarium that offers plenty of shade and movement in the water. Most often this fish is found on large rocks in the tank.

The false tigrinus catfish is a coal-black fish with silver stripes, which gave it the name “tigrinus”. These fish are natural inhabitants of the Amazon bed and need an aquarium that offers plenty of shade and movement in the water. Most often, this fish is led on large rocks in the aquarium. Catfish false tigrin is a peaceful fish; however, they are difficult to maintain and require an experienced aquarium owner to maintain their health and predatory diet.

These fish tend to grow to a maximum size of 2’6 inches in length and require a minimum tank size of one hundred and eighty gallons – another reason they are only recommended for experienced owners. This type of catfish requires water with a temperature of 74-82 ° F and a pH of 6.5-7.0. These large predatory fish feed not only on shrimp, but also on frozen cichlids and mosquito larvae. It is not an affordable fish.

Freshwater Pipefish

TThe freshwater Pipefish is a long-nosed fish of black and silver color. Although peaceful fish are easy to care for, their dietary habits can make them difficult to maintain. The freshwater marine needle feeds only on live food. Therefore, this fortified live food means that it is always recommended to use a sponge filtration system to keep the aquarium clean without destroying the live food. Native to Indonesia, these carnivorous fish grow up to six inches and require a minimum tank size of thirty gallons. The freshwater pipefish require an average water temperature of 75–82 ° F and a pH of 6.0–8.0. This fish is quite expensive.

Fire Mouth Cichlid

Fire Mouth Cichlid

The Fire cichlids are often chosen for their beautiful turquoise color with red scales on the tips, as well as their red throat and chest, which is what they are named after. These fish are chosen not only for their color, but also by hobby breeders because they mate and form their own nuclear family. These cichlids burrow into fish and need a sandy bottom in the tank for them to dig. This fish is semi-aggressive and will be aggressive against other fish during spawning, especially fish of the same species. Like a fighting fish, the lionfish cichlid puffs up its pouch around its neck and spreads its gill covers to intimidate other fish.

This type of cichlid is quite difficult to care for and requires an omnivorous diet. On average, cichlids grow to six inches in length and require a tank size of at least thirty gallons. These fish eat mostly frozen, flake or cichlid food. This is an affordable fish

Black Convict Cichlid

Black Convict Cichlid

The black convict cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) also known as the Zebra Cichlid is named because of the black bar like stripes that run vertically along the fish’s body. The basic body color of this cichlid is gray in female species it shows orange scales on the underside of the body. As male black convict cichlids age, they develop a large lump of fat on their head that helps identify them from females of the species.

This type of fish is especially aggressive and does not suit non-aggressive tank mates of the same size. Moderately difficult to maintain, these fish average 6 inches long and require a minimum aquarium size of 30 gallons. The optimum water temperature range for these fish is 68-73 ° F, and the pH should be between 6.5-8.0. It is an omnivorous species. fish will eat most freeze-dried and frozen foods, as well as cichlid pellets and flaky foods. It is a particularly affordable fish.

Bolivian Ram

Bolivian Ram

The Bolivian ram, also known as the butterfly and the red ram, is a gold colored fish with red and blue accents on its fins and a black patch in the center with a black stripe running across the head. Bolivian ram is a peaceful fish that is quite difficult to care for. This species of fish is another species that is attractive to amateur breeders because they form pairs that appear to be loyal to one another. As a peaceful and sociable fish, this species is a great addition to any community aquarium.

The Bolivian ram grows to a maximum size of 3 “and requires a minimum tank size of around 30 gallons. The recommended temperature for this species is around 72-79 ° F with a pH of 6.5-7.5 This omnivorous fish feeds on freezing. Dry foods, flakes and live foods: This is another type of affordable freshwater aquarium

Jack Dempsey

blue Jack Dempsey

The Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata) is a favorite among freshwater fish lovers due to its beautiful coloration. The basic gray color of this fish is dotted with light green and blue spots that become more intense during the breeding season. The Jack Dempsey is a mid to low territorial resident. This fish species is a hidden species that requires a sandy bottom in its tank, as well as plenty of rocks and roots to hide under.

Jack Dempsey is easy to care for, yet aggressive and territorial and should only be placed in an aquarium with similarly sized aggressive fish. This species can grow to a maximum size of 10 inches in length and requires a minimum aquarium size of 50 gallons. The recommended temperature for Jack Dempsey is 78-82 ° F with a pH of 6.5-8.0. This carnivorous fish feeds on fresh, fresh water. frozen foods, including live fish and freeze-dried mosquito larvae.

Gold Doubloon Molly

Gold Doubloon Molly

The golden doubloon molly is a brightly colored fish, with a bright golden front. The back of the fish is solid black. This beautiful fish is peaceful but requires an aquarist with moderate experience to thrive. The Gold Doubloon Molly can grow to 5 “long and requires a tank size of at least 30 gallons. This fish prefers hard water and a little salt in the water, which can be supplemented by adding aquarium salt.

These fish can be combined with other peaceful fish. Golden doubloon molly prefers water with a temperature of 68-82 ° F, and preferably a pH between 7.0 and 8.0. It is an omnivorous fish that thrives on a diet rich in algae and meats such as rotifers, small crustaceans, bloodworms and tubifex

Black Moor Goldfish

Black Moor Goldfish

The black moor goldfish is a solid black, translucent, or orange fish known for its hidden tail and bulging eyes. These large aquarium fish can grow up to 10 inches in length and require a minimum aquarium size of 30 gallons. It is an easy-care fish that feels comfortable in sandy-bottomed pools where it can dig. Black moor goldfish requires water temperature. 65 to 75 ° F and pH 6.5-7.5. This large freshwater aquarium fish of Asian origin is omnivorous and gets along well with both live and dried food; only 30% of their diet should consist of meat products.

Silver Hatchet

Silver Hatchet Fish

The Silver Hatchet is a uniquely shaped multicolored silver fish. The deep belly of the fish gives it the shape of an ax, and its pectoral fins are located higher on the body. It is a schooling fish and should not be kept in groups of less than 6 people. The silver hatchet loves to jump and should not be held in a shell without a top. This fish requires a minimum aquarium size of 20 gallons, and although it is a peaceful fish, it is particularly difficult to care for. The ideal water temperature for a silver ax is 73-79 ° F with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. The Silver Hatchet is a predatory fish that feeds on a variety of live or frozen foods in addition to high quality flakes.

Mosquito Fish

Mosquito Fish

The Mosquito fish are usually chosen by pond owners due to the fact that they prefer to feed the larvae of insects that are located around the pond. These fish consume more not only insect larvae, but also on algae. Mosquito fish are usually white in color and reach a maximum length of 3 inches. The minimum recommended aquarium size for this fish is 20 gallons. The ideal water temperature for mosquito fish is 65-75 ° F, and they prefer a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The Mosquito fish are peaceful fish and are easy to care for if they hide well. The mosquito fish is omnivorous and feeds on high quality flakes in addition to mosquito larvae and algae. It is native to North and Central America.

Leopard Ctenopoma

Leopard Ctenopoma

The leopard ctenopoma or the Spotted Climbing Perch is a brownish fish with black leopard spots all over its body. This fish grows to about 6 inches in length and requires at least 50 gallons. Native to Zaire, the leopard comb jelly is an aggressive fish that requires an aquarist with moderate aquarium experience. This fish needs aquarium mates that are close in size to avoid smaller sizes. To prevent the fish from becoming food. It is also important to provide the leopard ctenopome with plenty of plants to hide in. The ideal aquarium temperature for this fish is 73-82 ° F with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. This carnivorous fish will eat frozen, live and processed foods in addition to floating pellets.

Freshwater Aquarium Fish For Non-Beginners

Not all freshwater aquarium hobbyists are beginners and as such they will have more experience with raising fish, which will provide them with the necessary knowledge to care for more advanced freshwater fish breeds. Some of the most common freshwater fish non-beginners keep are: the Fahaka puffer, African butterfly fish, black ghost knife fish, clownfish, kissing gouramy, African tiger fish, silver arowana, and tiger Oscar.

Fahaka Buffer

Fahaka Buffer

Fahaka puffer or Nile Puffer or Band Puffer is a fish that is generally chosen because of its ability to expand, even though it is a freshwater fish. This fish is very difficult for tank owners and to date no Fahaka puffer has been successfully bred in captivity. These aggressive fish should be housed in tanks that are at least 125 gallons in size as they can grow to 1 foot 5 inches tall. These fish are carnivores and need lots of plants in the aquarium where they can hide. It prefers to consume consist mainly of crustaceans such as mollusks, krill, brine shrimp, and live worms.

African Butterfly Fish

The African butterfly fish is a unique looking fish with fins like a butterfly and is dark brown to black and speckled with a lighter color on its body. However, although this fish looks small, it is very aggressive and a little difficult to care for. The African butterfly fish grows to about 4 inches tall and requires a tank size of 30 gallons or more at temperatures between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.9 to 7.1. These fish are carnivores and prefer to eat small fish and shrimp, but they will enjoy eating freeze-dried food, which carnivorous fish also love.

Black Spirit Knifefish

Black Spirit Knifefish

The black ghost knifefish is an unusually shaped fish that is quite difficult to care for. This fish is semi-aggressive, so it’s best to use it as a partner for this breed when choosing a tank mate. The black ghost knifefish is a carnivorous fish that consumes all types of live food including meat, chopped live worms, and frozen and flake food. It grows to 1 foot 6 inches and requires a tank size of at least 50 gallons to thrive. This fish requires a tank temperature of 73 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0.

Clown Loach

Clown Loach

The clown loachfish or Tiger Botia can be recognized by its three black bars and orange stripes and is often sought after for fresh water aquarium because of its bright decoration and peaceful nature. This fish, while peaceful, is moderately difficult to care for and requires an omnivorous diet. The clown loach can grow up to 12 inches and it requires a minimum tank size of 50 gallons with a temperature between 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

Kissing Gouramis Fish

Kissing Gouramis Fish

The kissing gouramy or Kisser Fish or Pink Kisser is the fish that is usually chosen to “kiss” when meeting the other kissing gouramy in the aquarium. Although these silvery pink fish have a more peaceful name, they are actually considered semi-aggressive and care should be taken when placing these fish in the tank with others. The Kissing Gourami fish feeds on an omnivorous diet, requires an algae based diet as well as a meaty diet. It requires a tank size of at least 30 gallons and requires moderate maintenance experience. The ideal aquarium temperature for this fish is 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.8 to 8.5.

African Tiger Fish

African Tiger Fish  freshwater aquarium fish

The African tiger fish are fish that can get very large and are therefore kept alone or with other members of the same size of the same species. This requires a fairly experienced owner and a minimum size of 500 gallons. Adult African tiger fish can grow to 3 feet 4 inches tall and can be very aggressive with other aquarium mates. The ideal water temperature for this carnivorous fish is 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.5 to 8.

Silver Arowana

Silver Arowana  freshwater aquarium fish

The Silver arowana or Dragon Fish or Monkey Fish is considered a very coincidental symbol in many Asian cultures and therefore many people who practice Feng Shui look for this fish for their freshwater aquarium. Silver Arowana is a fairly heavy fish that requires maintenance and is semi-aggressive, which means you have to be careful when placing it in a tank with others tank mates. This carnivorous fish can grow to 3 feet 4 inches tall and thus requires a tank size of at least 250 gallons. It is native to Amazon South America.

Tiger Oscar

Tiger Oscar freshwater aquarium fish

The Tiger Oscar can be a very difficult fish to work with and will stay healthy and happy. Therefore, it is not recommended for anyone less experienced with fish. The tiger oscar is a carnivore that consumes carnivorous cichlid pellets, insects, brine shrimp, live worms, small fish, ghost shrimp, freeze-dried and feeder fish. This semi-aggressive carnivorous fish can grow up to 1 foot long and requires a minimum size of 70 gallons with an average temperature of between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0.

Which Fish Are The Right Choice For Your Aquarium?

Many people come to their first experience of buying an aquarium with the belief that they can only buy fish of a certain breed to fill their aquarium, this is not true. Although you are limited by the temperament of the fish you choose for your freshwater aquarium, you do not need to choose all types of fish to populate your aquarium – in fact, that would make the aquarium rather boring!

Diversify your freshwater aquarium and try combining different types of fish for the ultimate freshwater fish experience. Remember that in order for your aquarium to be healthy, you must adjust the temperament of your fish as well as their needs. Choose fish that are compatible with your experience level and compatible with each other, and you will have no problem creating a thriving freshwater aquarium environment.

Read Also : How To Set Up An Aquarium – A Step By Step Guides

An Overview Of Freshwater Aquarium Ownership

Although many people will lead you to believe that having a freshwater aquarium fish is not as fun as having a saltwater aquarium fish. It’s a matter of opinion. Freshwater aquarium owners can experience as much variety of fish as saltwater aquarium owners, and some freshwater fish are even more aggressive and picky than some saltwater fish!

Ultimately, choosing a freshwater or saltwater aquarium should be based on personal preference and not on the assumption that there is a “better” fish in the aquarium, as this simply isn’t the case.

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