Resource Center Menu
Best Freshwater Fish for Beginners

Best Freshwater Fish for Beginners

Bettas| Mollies, Platies, & Swordtails| Guppies| Zebra Danios| Neon Tetras

freshwater aquarium

Getting started in fishkeeping can be an exciting new hobby for pet parents of any age! While having a properly set up aquarium that is cycled and established is important for keeping any fish, there are some species that have less requirements than others, making them easier to take core of for the first time fishkeeper. This grouping of fish species generally do well in smaller aquariums, are more adapted to aquarium life, and can be slightly more forgiving with water quality fluctuations.


betta fish

Bettas are a great beginner fish for many reasons. These colorful fish come in an endless amount of color and fin pattern combinations, making every fish unique. Only one male bettas can be kept in an aquarium as they will fight with other male bettas.  Female bettas can usually be kept in a community tank with other species without concern or in sorority with other female bettas if the tank is large enough and there are various hiding places. Bettas have a labyrinth organ allowing them to breathe from the water’s surface. This allows them to be kept in a tank without a filter, although a filter and heater are preferred in an ideal set-up. Betta fish have tons of personality and will often interact when their pet parent comes up to the aquarium.

Mollies, Platies, & Swordtails


Mollies, platies, and swordtails come in an assortment of color varieties and fin lengths.  They are generally considered peaceful community fish that can be kept in schools in an appropriately sized aquarium. These fish are hardy, active, and livebearers that will reproduce quite easily if males and females are kept together.



Guppies are colorful livebearers that are great fish for the beginning aquarist. These fish are hardy, active and generally peaceful, with males sporting large boldly colored tails. Guppies will easily breed in the home aquarium so if keeping males and females, pet parents should be prepared for the possibility of babies. There are many different varieties of guppies available and each has been bred to have different colors or patterns.

Zebra Danios

zebra danios

Zebra Danios are active little fish displaying black and white stripes with an iridescent sheen. These fish do best in schools but only reach a maximum size of around 2”, so several can be kept in a 10 gallon or larger aquarium. These fish can do well in a wide range of water parameters, making them more forgiving of fluctuations and an excellent beginner fish. Despite being very active swimmers, they are generally peaceful fish and can be kept with other community fish.

Neon Tetras

neon tetra

These brightly colored fish are a fantastic addition to the tropical aquarium and can be easily kept by a beginner if water parameters are maintained. Neon Tetras do best when kept in schools of 5 or more, however their small size enables them to be kept in a 10 gallon or larger aquarium. Although these fish can be more sensitive to water quality concerns, they are peaceful community fish with voracious appetites making them an easy keeper in the established aquarium.

Whichever fish you choose to inhabit your new aquarium, ensuring you have the appropriate setup for the species is vital. Minimum size of the aquarium, appropriate heater, filtration, and décor are all important for happy and healthy fish.