what is the best pet fish for beginners?

The decision what fish should be the first in your tank can be both a spontaneous and a deliberate one. Sadly, the beginners often follow their first impulse and buy a fish without knowing anything about it. And after that instead of happiness and joy they get “headache” and troubles. You should choose a fish thoughtfully, because its life and your comfort depend on it. Before going to a pet-shop or a market study all available info about the fish you’ve enjoyed.

Which fish the beginners shouldn’t buy we’ve already discussed here, and now here is the list of 10 most unusual ones. This article is to help you make a decision what fish to buy for your tank and here we’ve created a list of the best fishes with their short description for the beginners.

All of them are not demanding, tolerant to any tank conditions, peaceful, good-tempered and of decent size. We do hope that this will help you to make an easy and right choice!

Best freshwater tropical fishes for beginners



It’s classics for any beginner aquarist. The guppy is rather not demanding, peaceful and it breeds easily. It’s simple to see between guppy male and female – males are much more brighter and they have elongated anal fin.

The female is larger, fatter and its anal fin is shorter, and the main thing is that the female is gray, only the fluke may be colored. They are live-bearing, which means that guppy juveniles can swim right after the birth and can live on their own.

Guppy female can spawn from 10 to 60 juveniles at a time. But if you leave the juveniles in a tank together with other fish, it’ll be eaten soon, so to avoid this you have to catch the juveniles and put them into a separate tank.

The guppy is easy to be bred – you just have to keep male and female together in one tank.

Guppy eats all types of feed, can grow healthy eating some branded feed – flakes, granules etc. We should mention that it’s not a good idea for the beginner to get some high-bred guppy species, since due to long-term cross-breeding the fish has become rather demanding and complicated in care.

Also there’s such guppy species as Endler’s guppy (Poecilia wingei). They differ in size – they are smaller, the male isn’t long finned, however, they are much faster, but they spawn less juveniles at time.

Though the juveniles are larger and the Endler guppy spawns more often.

Livebearer Fishes

Molly; Platy; Swordtails

Let’s join them into one group, since they are very much alike as for their behavior and care, though they have quite different appearance. They are live-bearing as well as guppy is. It means that you won’t have any trouble with the juveniles, since it starts to swim, eat and high at once.

The fish is very easily bred, the idea is the same as for guppy breeding – just keep the male and female together. All the fishes are very bright and active, so you won’t have to search for them and they are always hungry and asking for food.

The fishes are quite tolerant to different tank conditions and they can stand all mistakes the beginners usually make. They eat all types of live, artificial and frozen feed.

In general, they are almost the same in care as guppy, but they are larger and differently colored with different body shape. As for the warnings – just don’t buy a lot of males into one tank, since they may have fights.


Zebra danio

It is a small 4 cm (1.6 in) and very graceful fish. It’s very popular among the aquarists due to its size, good-temper and simplicity in care. Since it’s a schooling fish it’s better to keep at least 5-6 of them in a tank. The tank can be planted, but it’s important to have some free space for the fish to swim.

If you intend to get long finned guppy species, don’t put them into a tank with tank mates who may bite the fins, for example, tiger barb may do this. The tank should be closed since Danio may jump out of it.

The zebrafish eats all types of feed – branded, live and frozen one. It’s better to feed zebrafish with flakes, since they pick up their food from the tank water surface and they also may gladly eat some flakes that’ve been floating on the water for a while.

It’s easy to breed zebrafish, since the female lays about 200 to 500 eggs at a time.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The white cloud mountain minnow is very small (2.5-3 cm) and not demanding at all. At that it’s brightly colored, easily bred and not aggressive, the fish even doesn’t attack its juveniles.

White cloud mountain minnow does well with with cold water, some people even keep it in a pond in the yard in sumer. The fish prefers middle water layers and it likes swimming in a school.

So, it is better to keep it in small schools of about 6 species at least. You can also keep a big school if you want – you won’t need a big tank due to the fish size.

Provided with good care white cloud mountain minnow may live for about 3 years.

Panda cory

Panda cory

These are small, active, good-looking and schooling cat fish. There is quite a lot of different Corydoras species, but the most popular ones are pygmy cory and panda cory.

All of them have common behavior – they swim in the bottom water layers, look for some feed leftovers all the time and clean the tank by doing this. The corys is very active, though it doesn’t grow to become a large one, it stands quite a wide range of tank conditions.

Any feed will do for the fish, but it’s important to make sure that the food gets to the tank bottom and your corys aren’t hungry while their tank mates are eating. It’s advisable to feed corydoras species with special food for catfish, since it drowns fast and doesn’t fall into pieces once it gets on the tank bottom.

Since corydoras prefer to live among their relatives, it’s better to keep them in a school and it’s also more interesting to observe them in a tank this way.

Harlequin rasbora

Harlequin rasbora

Harlequin rasbora it’s a very beautiful and small fish, that will be a good tank mate for all above mentioned fishes. It grows to become about 5 cm (two inches) long and it’s also a very peaceful one. It has a black spot on its brightly colored body, which gave it the name.

The small size and good temper have made the harlequin rasbora very popular among aquarists.

It’s better to keep harlequin rasbora in a school in a spacious tank, since they likes swimming and needs space for this.

The fishes in the school are always together and it looks very nice in any tank. You can feed it with a variety of food, just don’t give it any large grained food, since the harlequin rasbora just won’t be able to swallow it.

Kuhli loach

Kuhli loach

This is the most unusual fish, which can be kept by even unexperienced aquarist. Since it is close to True loaches family it looks a bit like a small snake. At that the kuhli loach is not dangerous at all and it’s quite enduring.

Kuhli loach quite often hides during a day, so to make it feel more comfortable get soft tank substrate for the fish to hide and dig.

There the fish may find and dig out some hidden blood worm or some other food.

If there is some sand in a tank, kuhli loach will gladly dig into it. All above mentioned means that kuhli loach helps to keep the tank clean by eating all that gets to the tank bottom.

You can feed this fish with any food that drowns, but additionally give it some food for the night.

The tank is better to be closed, since Kuhli loach may run away from it. Some aquarists even say that Acanthophthalmus can dig up stones it a tank, but I haven’t seen anything like this.

Dwarf gourami

Dwarf gourami

The fish is from Anabantoidei family, it inhabits in oxygen-deficient water and it’s got used to it by learning to breathe the outer oxygen. You’ll see how the fish gets to the water surface to get another portion of air.

It’s small, peaceful fish, its male species are very bright colored and their abdominal fins have turned into long outgrowths. You can feed dwarf gourami with any feed and floating one, too. Just be careful with blood worm – don’t give a lot of it, since the fish has difficulties with digesting it.

After publishing this article my readers provided me with some feedback – they say, that dwarf gourami may indeed be a bit difficult for the beginners to keep, since it has a bit phlegmatic temper and it is jealous of female.

It’s true, I agree.

I’d like to add that there’s another nice fish from the same gourami family. There are a lot of gourami species, so three spot gourami or opaline gourami will be a good choice for the beginner.

The opaline gourami isn’t demanding, peaceful, with unusual body shape and coloring. In general it is alike dwarf gourami a bit, but it’s larger and less demanding.

So, you may decide on this fish first and get a dwarf gourami a little later.

Cherry barb

Cherry barb

It’s a small and peaceful fish, its male is very bright colored, which gave it the name. This is a schooling fish, so it’s better to keep a school of about 5 at least.

But the cherry barb doesn’t stay together all the time, they get into a group only when scared. Cherry barb isn’t very large, males are are of bright red color, they don’t have very strong demands to tank conditions.

Thus, this is jut the fish to be named in our list.

Bristlenose pleco

Bristlenose pleco

I suppose this is the largest fish from our list – it grows to be about 15 cm long, if the tank size allows.

However, the bristlenose pleco is popular due to its unusual appearance, tolerance to tank conditions and the fact that Ancistrus also cleans the tank. This is an unusual cat fish, in the wild in survives by eating algaes.

Its mouth has turned into a cupule by means of which the fish rasps away its food.

In a tank bristlenose pleco becomes tank walls and decorations cleaner. Ancistrus male has unusual outgrowths on its head, that make him very recognizable. Though it is peaceful, it may fight with other males.

For this fish vegetable food is important, so it has to be fed with some special tablets.


Of course, the list isn’t complete and after thinking for a while, we can make it much longer. But the idea was to make the beginners familiar with the most available and easy in care fishes.

My advise for the beginners is to study all details about the fish they’ve enjoyed before buying it, and to choose first of all fishes tolerant to any tank conditions, easy in care and peaceful ones, which will get on well with their tank mates in a community tank.