There are a few lists you need to check before you start your new aquarium hobby. You should start off with a few beginner fishes for which you need to check compatibility of the fishes, hardiness, maintenance (if they are easy to take care of), if they will fit in your tank and their personality that is, if they will be peaceful and get along with other fishes in your tank.
Now let us glance through the top 10 aquarium fishes for a beginner –
Guppies – they come in almost every color you can imagine and look astounding. They’re very hardy, easy to take care of and can be kept in tanks as small as 20 to 40 litres. They’re a great community fish and you can keep them in groups of five or more. They breed very fast and hence it is wise to stock guppies of the same sex unless you want otherwise of course. Though they may survive higher or lower levels of pH, the recommended pH range for a guppy tank is between 6.8 and 7.6.
Swordtails – They are given this name due to their sword like tails.These fishes are great if you want to keep your plant leaves clean. They’ll also prevent proliferation of algae. They’re peaceful in nature and are great for a community tank. Minimum tank capacity for swordtails should be 100 as they grow large. Their water conditions range from moderately hard to hard although their water conditions are very low. They thrive better in communities, so it’s always better to keep more than one, preferably 5 or more. The optimal water temperature would be between 22-28 degrees Celsius, but they can also do well in cooler, or warmer tanks.
This is one of the disputable fishes. The bettas are great to look at, their fin types are breathtaking and they can live in a community tank, but the conditions required might be a little confusing for a novice aquarist. It’s a good idea to keep a betta alone for a beginner, making sure his tank is at least 20 litres. They are easy to keep because they breathe from the surface. They may get territorial in a small tank, so a big tank is preferable if you’re planning on keeping them with other fishes. Just make sure to change the water on a regular basis and keep them at the right temperature (22-28 degree Celsius).
Not compatible with Cherry Barb
These fishes are robust, hardy, active and very tolerant to water conditions. Typically, they prefer to be in a group near the surface of the water. One of the best danios are Zebra Danios. They are appealing as they have black and white stripes down the length of their bodies just like Zebras do. They’re a perfect fit for those who don’t have much experience with setting up a tank. The zebra fishes love to swim, so keeping them in a larger tank will help them thrive. As the danios are schooling fish, we recommend to keep them in groups of at least 6. Other variants of Danios are the blue danio, danio kyathit, spotted danio, etc.
4. Gold Fish
This is a very notable fish with a gorgeous golden-orange color with fanned tails that everyone’s heard of or seen. They can be very easy to care for with a little research for beginners. Typically, you should give them 30 litres per fish and change 30% of water each week as they are nasty eaters. These fish prefer temperatures between 16-23 degrees Celsius. They can easily grow up to 4-6 in a year and upto 14 inches over the years.
These fishes are popular choice among beginners due to their tiny size, stunning colors and vibrancy. We recommend them to keep them in groups of at least 10-12 as they are schooling fish. They grow only about an inch or so long, so any aquarium more than 40 litres or bigger is suitable for them. They are one of the easiest fishes to care for. They prefer tanks with a lot of live plants and a slow moving current. You can choose from neon tetra, cardinal tetra and many more.
The Cherry Barb is still a favourite within the fishkeeping community, thanks to it’s bright, eye catching colours, and it’s entertainment value. There’s tiger barbs who are good for beginners but they are infamous for nipping fins of other fishes. They may take a while to adjust to their surroundings but once they get accustomed to their new surroundings, they’re fun to watch. They are best kept in schools, so anything above 6 is preferred. They are amiable, active and tolerant to changes in water parameters. Typically, the water temperature should be 22°C – 28°C. You can opt from a multitude of barb fishes such as the tinfoil barb, rosy barb etc.
Not compatible with Betta, Gold fish, Angel fish,
Angelfish are generally equanimous, although they can become territorial if there is inadequate space for them to live happily. It is a regal fish but does not thrive in a small tank. You need a tank of at least 100 litres to keep an angelfish and it’s always better to use a tank that is 16 inches high or higher. Make sure you provide plants and other hiding places. They’re very hardy and easy to keep. They’re a cichlid so they might prey on very small fish but in general they make an apposite community fish. Typically, the water temperature should be 24 to 28 degrees Celsius.
Not compatible with Cherry Barb
The gouramis are easy to take care of and can be kept in tanks of at least 100 litres and they require space at the top of the tank so they can breath air. They are undemanding and therefore are well suited to most community aquariums. They’re very hardy and can adapt to tough water parameters. Pearl gouramis would be an apt choice for beginners although they do not like thriving with fishes of aggressive demeanor. Moonlight gourami is also suitable for beginners.
9. Golden Wonder Killifish
This is one of the most unknown beginner fishes. It is a very hardy species and is easy to keep in the home aquarium. They do well in a community tank with peaceful fish that are their size or larger. It is not recommended to keep them along with smaller fishes such as the neon tetra or zebra danios. They require a tank of size 75 litres at least and water temperature of 22.2 to 25° C and are surface dwellers although they love to swim around in the tank. A high quality filter is recommended and bi-weekly water changes of at least 30%. They should be kept in groups of 4 or more to avoid quarrels.
Not compatible with Neon Tetra, Zebra Danios
These are also known as cory catfish or corydoras and are usually quite timid. They will benefit from a few hiding places in the tank. Their size is about 2 to 3 inches and they can be kept in a small tank of about 40 to 60 litres. The water temperature needs to be about 21 to 28 degree Celcius and the pH range is about 6 to 8. They get along very well with other fishes in the tank and hence they make a good community fish. They like to sift through the sand or the substrate looking for tiny morsels of food. They are schooling fish and need at least six in their shoal, though like all schooling fish more is generally better.
11. Kuhli Loaches
The Kuhli Loach fish is an eel shaped fish, a bottom dweller and likes living in reclusion under or inside decorations or plants. They scavenge the tank for leftover food, plant matter and other debris but make sure you also feed them. They can be kept in tanks of 37 litres and you should keep at least 3 of them to make sure they’re happy. They’re peaceful and can adapt to water changes and make one of the best freshwater fishes. They are easy to care for needing water that is medium-soft to medium and pH around 6.0 to 7.0. The water temperature should be 24-29 degrees Celsius.
The common pleco is also known as plecostomus or suckermouth catfish. They are known to keep your tank clean by eating up algae. They spend most of the time on the bottom or hanging from the side of the aquarium and attach themselves to the glass or other objects. Minimum aquarium size should be 75 litres. You should provide proper filtration for maintaining their good health. You should keep only one pleco in a tank but they can be kept with other community fishes. The temperature of the water should be 22-25 degree Celsius.
This one is another live bearer fish. They can handle a wide range of pH changes in the water and they like to be in schools of six or more and make amicable fishes. These are very hardy little fishes who need plenty of room for swimming around. There are many varieties of Rasboras like the Harlequin Rasbora, Scissortail Rasbora, Emerald eye Rasbora, etc. Ideally, the temperature of the water should be around 28 degree Celsius and size of the tank should be at least 38 litres. You can choose from the harlequin rasbora, blackline rasbora, clown rasboras and many more.
There are lot of other fishes which are good beginners fish but we have chosen the above fishes as they are easily available (except a few) in the local fish shop, also known as LFS, and they are pocket friendly too.