The Best Community Fish for Freshwater Aquariums: For beginners

best fish for freshwater aquarium.

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The Best Community Fish for Freshwater Aquariums: For beginners

What Is the Best Community Fish for a Freshwater Community Aquarium from a Beginner’s Perspective? Keeping a freshwater community aquarium is a popular and rewarding hobby, but choosing the right fish to inhabit the tank can be a challenge for beginners. This guide will provide an overview of the best community fish for a freshwater community aquarium from a beginner’s perspective, with the hope of helping new aquarists make an informed decision when it comes to stocking their tanks.

When first starting out with a freshwater community aquarium, the key is to select fish that will live well together and are relatively easy to care for. An ideal community tank should maintain a healthy balance between aggressive, peaceful and mid-ground fish, as well as incorporating fish of various shapes, colors, and sizes.

At the top of the list are Guppies. These small, colorful fish are both attractive and easy to care for. Plus, they breed quickly, making them popular with new aquarium hobbyists. As hardy fish, guppies can withstand a wide range of water conditions, and they tend to get along well with all types of other fish, so they’re the perfect beginner fish for a community tank.

Platies are another great choice for a community aquarium. These colorful fish are similar to guppies in size and temperament, and they are also very easy to care for. Platies are livebearers, meaning that they bear their young alive instead of laying eggs like many other species of fish. The only downside is that they are slightly more susceptible to diseases, so it’s important to keep an eye on their health.

Gouramis are a great choice. These beautiful fish come in a range of colors and are peaceful enough to get along with the other inhabitants of the tank. They’re also hardy fish and not terribly difficult to care for, although they do need hiding spaces to help reduce their stress.

Cory Catfish are a great addition to almost any freshwater community aquarium. These bottom-dwellers are peaceful, easy to care for and will help keep the tank clean by eating scraps of food that have fallen to the bottom. They’re also hardy fish and not overly territorial, making them a great choice for beginners.

In general, when it comes to choosing the best community fish for a freshwater community aquarium from a beginner’s perspective, it’s important to select fish that are easy to care for, get along well with other species, and can survive in a variety of water conditions. Guppies, platies, Gouramis, common plecos, and Cory Catfish are all great choices for aquarists just starting out. With careful selection, stocking the right fish will help create a thriving and beautiful freshwater community aquarium.

The best community fish for freshwater aquariums

9. Guppies

Guppy fish are an incredibly popular freshwater fish in the aquarium scene, sporting gorgeous tailfins filled with color! Low-maintenance and beginner friendly, these fish have a minnow-like profile with a pointed snout and upturned mouth. With luck and genetics, the guppy fish lifespan can be between two and five years, with adults reaching up to two inches in length. Appropriate tank size would be at least a five-gallon tank, but preferably a 10-gallon tank or larger. The best environment for guppies would be one with a water temperature of 64°F to 84°F, pH level of 7.5 to 8.0, and water hardness of 8 to 12. When it comes to decorations, guppies aren’t picky and prefer natural items whenever possible.


Guppy fish are an ideal choice for those looking to start their own fish-keeping tank, as they are well-suited to peaceful multi-species tanks. These small fish possess vibrant fan-like tails in a variety of colors, making them an aesthetically pleasing addition to any aquarium. Guppies tend to swim towards the top of the water and do best in tanks with plenty of vegetation. Furthermore, breeding is easy, since guppies are livebearers and the fry are born fully-formed.

2. Cory Catfish

Cory catfish, also known as Corydoras, are a popular species of tropical fish that do very good in community aquariums. These small, bottom-dwelling fish are known for their gentle and peaceful nature, and for keeping the bottom of tanks clean, making them an ideal addition to a community tank. Cory catfish have a distinctive, armored body with hard spikes and come in a variety of colors, that can include albino, spotted, green, and black.

Cory Catfish
Cory Catfish

Taking care of Cory catfish is easy because, Cory catfish are hardy and easy to feed, making them a good choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists. They are well-adapted to community life and thrive in a well-cycled tank with proper filtration and water quality. Cory catfish prefer water temperatures between 72-78°F with a slightly acidic to neutral pH between 6.0-7.5. They are omnivores and will feed on a variety of foods including flakes, pellets, and small live or frozen foods.

Cory catfish play an important role in maintaining the health of an aquarium by scavenging for food and cleaning up waste. They are also active and social fish that will add both interest and liveliness to a community tank. With their peaceful nature, hardiness, and ease of care, Cory catfish are an excellent choice for a 20-gallon community tank and make an ideal addition to any community of similarly sized fish.

3. Otocinclus

Otocinclus catfish, also known as “otos,” are a species of small algae eating fish that are kept in aquarium to clean up and control algae. They are known for their peaceful and hardy nature, which makes them an ideal addition to any community tank with bettas. Otocinclus catfish have a slender, brown or black body and are known for their ability to clean algae from aquarium plants and surfaces.

Otocinclus catfish
Otocinclus catfish

In terms of care, otocinclus catfish are easy to take care of and is well-adapted to captive life. They prefer a well-cycled tank with proper filtration and water quality and some live plants. Otocinclus catfish require water temperatures between 72-82°F and a slightly acidic to neutral pH between 6.0-7.5. They are strictly herbivores and require a diet consisting mainly of algae wafers or blanched vegetables.

Otocinclus catfish can play an important role in maintaining the health of an aquarium by keeping surfaces of the aquarium and plants free of algae.

4. Harlequin Rasboras

The peaceful, 2-inch Rasbora is ideal for beginner fish keepers. These fish feature an eye-catching orange body with a black triangular patch that adds to its attractive appearance. To ensure a healthy and happy school of Rasboras, it is recommended to buy at least six. These gentle fish get along with other tankmates, including Bettas, and provide great exercise and enrichment for them as they’ll attempt to chase the Rasboras without much success. To learn more about caring for Rasboras, take a look at our full care guide.

Harlequin Rasboras for tank

The Harlequin Rasbora is a fish with an orange-pink body and a large, triangular black pattern on its back, extending from the midpoint of its dorsal fin towards its caudal peduncle. The tail fin is red on the outer rays and hyaline on the inner part. The pectoral and pelvic fins of the Harlequin Rasbora are found in a common cyprinid pattern, the pectoral fins sitting behind its operculum, and the pelvic fins forward of the dorsal fin.

A mature Harlequin Rasbora measures up to 2 inches (5 cm) in length. Males tend to have a slightly bigger black patch and a more rounded marking at the anal fin while ripe females have a fuller body outline.

Species of fish similar to the Harlequin Rasbora are Trigonostigma espei and Trigonostigma hengeli, which were once considered subspecies. These fish have a more slender body shape, and the black marking is replaced by a horizontal strip tapering to the caudal peduncle, thickened and extended below the dorsal fin. This marking pattern is also known as a lamb chop, due to its resemblance to the cut of meat.

5. Cardinal Tetra

The cardinal tetra is my go to pick for a community fish that prefers to hang out in the middle of the tank, they prefer to stay in schools so it is always best to make sure you have at least four to six in your tank.

cardinal tetra fresh water community fish
Cardinal tetra

The cardinal tetra is a popular and pretty fish often kept in community fish tanks, this small fish is known for its bright blue and red stripes along its body, making it a beautiful addition to a clean tank with a dark background. Cardinal tetras are peaceful and are best kept in a tank with other small, friendly fish.

Taking care of cardinal tetras is not difficult, making them a good option for new fish tank owners while they are a tough fish that can handle life in a tank and will do well with proper filtration and water quality. Neon tetras like water that is between 72-82°F and have a pH between 6.0-7.0. They eat a mix of things, including flakes, pellets, and small live or frozen foods.

When kept in the right environment, cardinal tetras are lively and social, adding a pop of color to any tank. With their peaceful nature and easy care, neon tetras are a great choice for a 20-gallon tank and will fit in well with other similarly sized fish.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Aquarium Enthusiast

I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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