Skip to content

7 Fish That Are Simple to Care For For Beginners

  • by

Do you want to start a freshwater aquarium hobby? It’s important to remember that starting and maintaining an aquarium can be time-consuming, but some fish are far easier to get started with than others. White cloud minnows, cherry barbs, goldfish, guppies, neon tetras, and cory catfish are among the easiest fish to care for. All of these fish are relatively peaceful, non-demanding species that do well in a beginner’s fish tank. However, it’s always best to keep fish with similar water temperature, pH, and tank size requirements together, so do your homework before going to the pet store.

Carassius auratus (standard goldfish)

There are many different types of goldfish, but beginners should start with long-body goldfish, such as the comet, sarasa, and shubunkin. For more advanced fish keepers, fancy goldfish with unusual body shapes are preferable. Comet goldfish can be white, orange, gold, or black, and can grow to 14 inches in length, or the size of a large dinner plate. Sarasa and shubunkin goldfish are typically smaller, reaching a maximum size of 8 to 10 inches.

Whatever goldfish you choose, keep in mind that you will need 20 gallons of water per fish just to get started! Goldfish will require an upgrade to a larger aquarium as they grow.

Goldfish are not great feed converters in general, so they may produce more waste than other fish. Gradually transition them to a pelleted diet as soon as they are able to eat it to reduce food waste, which can lead to additional ammonia production.

Betta (Betta splendens) fish

Despite their reputation as one of the easiest fish to keep, your betta will live a longer, happier life if their sad, little fishbowl is upgraded.

Bettas thrive in a minimum of a five-gallon tank with a filter and heater. Bettas, as tropical fish, should be kept at temperatures ranging from 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 28 degrees Celsius). The more water there is, the easier it is for your heater to maintain a constant temperature. Make sure your aquarium has a thermometer, not one of those untrustworthy stick-on types!

Bettas are easily thrown around in fast-moving water due to their long, delicate fins. Use a suitable filter and reduce or divert the flow so that your betta is not pushed around by the water flow. Their fins are easily ripped when they come into contact with sharp decor items. You should not feel any firm or sharp protrusions if you run your finger along any potential decor. If you are concerned, use more specific decor. Keep in mind that betta fish reach a maximum length of three to four inches, so make sure all of their decor will grow with them.

Bettas will fight among themselves, so males must be kept apart. In a large enough aquarium, female bettas can usually be kept together. It is recommended that beginners begin with one male betta fish in his own tank. Bettas are easy to keep in larger aquariums, and one male betta can be kept with non-aggressive fish of similar size from other species. Extra water facilitates an easy maintenance schedule for beginners. Your filter and heater will go a long way toward creating a happy betta environment.

Make sure not to overfeed your betta! Their “stomach” is no bigger than their eyeball. They should never be allowed to eat until they are full, but only as much food as they can eat in about 3 minutes twice a day. The amount of food you feed depends on the size of your fish and the size of the pellets. Bettas should eat betta-specific pellets to ensure proper nutrition, and the pellet size should be appropriate for their mouth.

Paracheirodon innesi (Neon Tetras)

Although they appear small, a school of these brightly colored fish can look stunning in an aquarium. These fish are a colorful addition to a community freshwater aquarium due to their bright blue and red streaks. Neon tetras are generally easygoing, and their small size has little effect on water quality.

Neon Tetras can reach a length of one and a half inches. They prefer to learn in groups of three to five, so begin with at least three to five students. They are ideal inhabitants for a Zen-inspired planted aquarium.

Because neon tetras are easily bred in captivity, look for signs of inbreeding such as missing operculums (gill covers), asymmetrical mouths, or misshapen fins. Baby fish require heavily planted aquariums to hide and survive.

There are pelleted diets available for Neon Tetras, but flake foods can also be used, especially for very small fish.

Mollies and platys (live carriers)

Many molly and platy keepers begin with just one or two fish. They have a lot of fish a few weeks later. Live-bearing fish have this reputation because the first fish you adopt has a 50% chance of being a pregnant female. Because fertilization occurs internally, it is impossible to tell how many fish you are adopting based on their outward appearance. A female livebearer can have multiple batches of babies after a single mating!

Mollies and platys are very easy to care for and come in a wide range of colors and varieties. They can be kept in schools and reach a length of about three inches. We recommend starting with a common, widely available variety, such as a black molly or red platy. Some specialty breeds, which are unique to a single owner or shop, are prone to inbreeding and do not make good beginner fish.

Most mollies and platys are tough and simple to keep. They can eat pellets or flake food. It is recommended to start with a 10-gallon aquarium, but keep in mind that you may need to upgrade as your population grows.

When dealing with live-bearing fish, it is critical to always plan for more fish. Even inexperienced fish keepers can successfully rear several generations of fish, doubling or tripling their initial numbers in a matter of months. However, you will eventually need to slow production, and unmonitored breeding will result in inbreeding. Most species, thankfully, are sexually dimorphic, and males and females can be distinguished by external characteristics. Females have fan-shaped anal fins while males have long pointed anal fins. This allows you to separate males and females in order to prevent population explosions. You can use a tank divider, but if you don’t want continued breeding, keep males and females in separate aquariums.

Danio rerio (Zebrafish)

These adorable, tiny fish are easily identified by their zebra-like horizontal black and white stripes that run along their bodies. Zebrafish, another fish that likes to swim in groups, make excellent beginner fish. Zebrafish, unlike other tropical fish, do not require warm water temperatures. Zebrafish prefer cooler water temperatures (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius), but you may need to use a small heater in the winter to keep your aquarium from becoming too cold.

Zebrafish are available in both normal and longfin lengths. This species can grow to be two inches long. Thanks to some genetic engineering with fluorescent jellyfish protein, they even come in special day-glow colors. Under a blue LED light, these colors can be very visible. Look for individuals with straight spines and a full operculum covering their gills on both sides when selecting specialized zebrafish varieties.

Zebrafish are excellent beginner pets because they do not require constant monitoring of a heater. They can eat tropical fish pellets or flake food. Regular filter maintenance and water changes, as with all other aquatic pets, are required to keep the water clean and the fish healthy.

Trigonostigma heteromorpha (Harlequin Rasbora)

There are several species of rasboras that are commonly kept in aquariums, but the harlequin raspbora is one of the simplest. This lovely fish has a pinkish-beige body, orange fins, and a distinct black triangular marking on its tail. Harlequin rasboras are peaceful fish that do well in a community tank if kept with other fish of similar size (1 to 2 inches). Because these are schooling fish, keep them in groups of four to six.

The harlequin rasbora prefer water that is between 76 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit and has a pH of around 7.2. As long as these conditions are met, the harlequin rasbora is a hardy fish that spends most of its time moving. A 10-gallon tank is required for a school of six fish, but a larger tank is preferable.

Your harlequin rasboras will thrive on a diet of high-quality flake tropical fish food, supplemented with live daphnia or brine shrimp on occasion.

Corydoras (Corydoras Catfish)

The Corydoras family is another excellent choice for beginners. While there are many species in this group, some of the most common are the panda cory (shown here), bronze cory, and albino cory. All of these catfish are bottom feeders who spend their days peacefully scavenging along the substrate for food scraps.

These friendly and social fish thrive in community tanks and prefer to be in groups of at least four of their own species. Most grow to be no more than 1 or 2 inches long. They are fairly adaptable in terms of water chemistry and temperature, but perform best at temperatures ranging from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7.8. Their tank should be at least 20 gallons in capacity.

These fish are easy to breed and aren’t fussy about food, though they prefer worms and pelleted fish food that sinks to the bottom of the tank.