Top 11 Best Beginner Pet Fishes For Pets

Aquarium keeping is an interesting and fun activity that all ages will love. The best thing about keeping an aquarium is that you can easily keep a wide range of species in a tank. However, there are millions of fish species out there, and you may be wondering which fish species are suitable for beginners.

When looking for a pet fish, there are many species to choose from, ranging from freshwater fish to saltwater fish. Some of the best beginner pet fishes that are suitable for new hobbyists are highlighted in this article.

Cute Reptiles as Pets
Cute Reptiles as Pets

What Makes A Fish Beginner Friendly?

You should always keep in mind that fish species have different tolerance levels. A beginner-friendly fish needs to be the hardy type of fish. This is because a hardy fish has a high chance of surviving in bad water conditions as beginners tend to make mistakes.

When you are looking for beginner-friendly fish, you need a species that easily fits into these categories.

  • They are peaceful fish and can get along with other fish.
  • They are hardy fish and thrive well in different water conditions.
  • They have an easy-care level.
  • They stay small and will feel comfortable in the tank.

Things To Consider Before Getting A Fish As Pet

Here are some of the things that you need to consider as a beginner when choosing a fish as a pet.

Type Of Fish Species

When choosing a fish as a pet, you will need to opt for fish species within your budget and have low maintenance costs. There are several types of fish species, and they can be categorized into temperate fish, tropical fish, and cold-water fish.

A beginner pet fish owner should opt for temperate fish as they stay in a tank with stable room temperature. Furthermore, it is very easy to set up their equipment. Coldwater fish are also hardy fish, and they are affordable and need low maintenance costs.

They are also suitable for beginner pet fish owners and can live long under optimal conditions. Tropical fish are colorful and appealing to the eye but require a consistent temperature with oxygenated water to thrive very well.

Furthermore, it is quite expensive to maintain them as they need a thermometer, pump, and a heater in their tank.

Freshwater Or Saltwater Fish

When choosing a fish, you need to choose between a freshwater aquarium or saltwater aquarium fish. However, you should keep in mind that saltwater aquariums need more maintenance, unlike freshwater aquariums.

Furthermore, saltwater fish are usually delicate and more expensive than freshwater fish. This is why it is recommended that you should opt for a freshwater aquarium as a beginner.

The Size Of The Fish

Many beginners usually overlook the fact that some fish can grow very big like other pets. Fish are usually very young during the purchase but can grow very big at adult size. You need to know how big a certain fish species can grow to help determine the best fish to get.

As a beginner pet owner, it is best to opt for a fish species that does not grow very big.

Fish Compatibility

You need to consider several factors when talking about fish compatibility like water quality, size of the tank, type of environment, and reproductive behavior. If you want to build an aquarium with different fish species, they need to be in harmony to create a stunning natural balance.

Apart from the basic compatibility, fish also need to be compatible in their behavioral patterns, food requirements, and tank water conditions.

The Health Of The Fish

It is important to consider the health of the fish that you plan to buy. This is because you don’t want to buy a fish that will end up dying after some days that you buy it.

You can decide whether a fish is healthy by buying a fish that actively swims, has clear eyes and bright color, and doesn’t have lumps on their body. Furthermore, a healthy fish needs to have scales and does not show outward flesh damage.

Fish Food and Care

Before you opt for a new fish, you need to know everything about its food and care requirements. As a beginner, it is best to go for fish species that do not need special food, and it is easy to care for them.

This is because some fish species require special care that you may find hard to comprehend as a beginner.

Best Beginner Pet Fishes

Here are some of the best beginner fish species that you can keep as a beginner.

Best Beginner Pet FishSizeCost
Standard goldfish8-14 inches$5-$11
Guppy2 inches$10-$100
White cloud minnow1.5 inches$2
Neon tetra1.5 inches$2-$8
Dwarf gouramis2.5 inches$3-$8
Corydoras1-3 inches$10-$35
Betta3 inches$10-$35
Platies2 inches$2-$4
Zebrafish2 inches$10-$30
Swordtails4 inches$5
Firemouth Cichlids6 inches$7+
Size and price comparison chart of best beginner pet fishes
best beginner pet fishes
Guppy and Standard Goldfish pet fishes

Standard Goldfish

Although there are numerous types of goldfish, you can start with long-body goldfish like the Sarasa, Comet, and Shubunkin species as a beginner. Comet goldfish are usually orange, gold, white, or black in color and usually grow to about 14 inches long.

However, Sarasa and Shubunkin species are much smaller and can grow to about 8-10 inches long. You should keep in mind that you will need to keep a goldfish in a 20 gallons tank and will upgrade to a larger system as they get bigger.

Note: Goldfish are not a great feed converter and usually produce more waste. Once you notice they are big enough, you can cut down their food to reduce ammonia waste in their tank.


Guppy fish is also known as rainbow fish or million-fish, and they originate from Northeast and South America. You will find guppies in a wide range of vibrant colors. They are suitable for beginner aquarists because it is easy to care for them, has low maintenance, and are affordable.

Guppies are tropical fish and are widely distributed. Furthermore, they are known to be hardy fish species that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions, making them suitable for beginners. 

Furthermore, they are omnivorous fish and will easily eat most foods without any issue with their health.

Guppy is a small-sized fish that can grow to about 2 inches in length. They have a tiny body, and it is best to keep them in a 10–20-gallon tank filled with hard water. Another thing is that guppies have a docile temperament and can mix well with other peaceful fish species.

White Cloud Minnow

White cloud minnows are small colorful fish that you can keep as a pet. They are suitable for beginner aquarists because they are very hardy and can live in a wide range of water temperatures and quality. However, they prefer cold water, and you should avoid getting too warm on them.

Furthermore, they have easy care levels and have a docile temperament. White cloud minnows are regarded as shoaling fish and usually feel comfortable when they are in a group of about 6. They usually become timid and lose their bright color when you keep one in a tank.

White cloud minnows usually grow to about 1.5 inches long, and you can keep them in a 10-gallon tank. They are not picky eaters, and you can feed them with all types of food like frozen, live, and flake food. 

They are also a good community fish, and you can keep them with other fish that cannot eat them. White cloud minnows can live for up to 5 years under optimal care.

Neon Tetra and White Cloud Minnow pet fishes
Neon Tetra and White Cloud Minnow pet fishes

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are beautifully colored and cool freshwater fish that you can keep in your aquarium. They are usually silver, white, red, black, and blue. 

They also have a turquoise blue line that stretches from their eyes to the adipose fin, with a red stripe running from the middle of their body down to their caudal fin.

Although neon tetras are small in size, they will use every space available in their tank. Furthermore, it is quite easy to care for them, making them suitable for the beginner aquarist. They are community fish and love staying in groups.

They can grow to about one and a half inches long and have a simple diet. You can feed neon tetra with basic fish flakes and will also take bloodworm or brine shrimp. Since they are community fish, you can start with 3-5 individuals.

Note: Neon tetras are prolific breeders and easily breed in captivity. You should keep an eye for signs of inbreeding, such as asymmetrical mouths missing operculum or misshapen fins.

Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf Gouramis pet fish
Dwarf Gouramis pet fish

The dwarf gourami originates from South Asia and is a small species of gourami. Dwarf gouramis are considered labyrinth fish because they breathe directly from the air. This means they need access to the water surface.

Dwarf gouramis are popular fish species because of their diversity. Furthermore, they have radiant colors and are available in flame red, powder blue, and rainbow patterns. 

They are suitable for beginner aquarists because of their peaceful temperament and have moderate care level. They are also a perfect community fish and can easily acclimatize to a wide range of conditions. 

They are hardy creatures and can tolerate both soft and hard water. Furthermore, dwarf gouramis can grow to about 2.5 inches long, and you can keep them in a 10-20 gallons tank.

Note: Dwarf gouramis can be affected by numerous tropical fish diseases, and you should try to clean their tank regularly.


Corydoras are peaceful schooling fish with more than 160 species already identified. However, the most popular species are the panda cory, bronze and albino cory, and emerald green cory. 

They are considered bottom-dwelling fish, and you will find them at the bottom of your aquarium. They are suitable for beginners because of their easy level of care and peaceful temperament. 

Corydoras can grow to about 1-3 inches in length. They usually scavenge around the tank floor for food, and you can feed them with a wide range of sinking feeds.

Note: you should try to buy them in a group of about 3-6 of the same species to help enjoy their personality.

Betta and Corydoras pet fishes
Betta and Corydoras pet fishes


Betta, also known as the Siamese fighting fish, is among the most popular fish species in the world. They originate from Thailand and are popular due to their mind-blowing looks. Furthermore, they are considered Labyrinth Fish when they are kept in ideal waters.

They are suitable for beginner aquarists because they are hardy fish species and have an easy-care level. They can also sustain themselves in oxygen-deficient water as they can get oxygen from the water surface.

Bettas are omnivorous fish species, and you can feed them with both plant and animal food. They can grow to about 3 inches long, and you can easily keep them in a 10-gallon tank. Bettas are not schooling fish, and you should avoid keeping the same species together.

However, they can live with other peaceful fish species such as barbs, neons, mollies, rasboras, etc., without any issue.

Note: Bettas are fin nippers, and you should be on the lookout to determine whether they nip the fins of their neighbors.


Platies are an ideal community tank fish as they can live peacefully with non-aggressive fish species. Due to selective breeding, you will find them in a wide range of colors. 

They are suitable for beginner aquarists due to their easy-care level, and they are not picky when it comes to their food. You can easily feed them with any type of flake foods and also frozen live foods. 

Furthermore, they are considered hardy fish species and can survive when the water condition in their tank fluctuates. Platies can grow to about 2 inches long, and you can keep them in a 10-gallon tank without any issue.

Zebrafish  and a Platy pet fish
Zebrafish  and a Platy pet fish


Zebrafish are cute and tiny fish species that you can easily identify by the horizontal stripes found on their body. They are ideal beginner fish as they like to school in groups. 

One of the best things is that they prefer room temperature, and you don’t have to use pre-set heaters for their tank. However, you may need a small heater to help keep your tank from becoming too cold during the winter season. 

Zebrafish are available in a wide range of colors and fin-lengths. You will be mesmerized by the special day-glow varieties of zebrafish as their colors become more pronounced under a blue LED light. 

Zebrafish can grow to about 2 inches long, and you can easily feed them with standard tropical micro pellets or flakes.


Swordtail fish originate from North and Central America. Although many believe that they are beginners only fish, they are suitable for aquarists of all types. They are considered beginner fish because of their easy-care routine and docile personalities.

You can easily identify them by their unique sword-like tail. They are considered as community fish but can be territorial if kept with other males of the same species. Swordtail fish can grow to about 4 inches long, and you will need a 20-gallon tank to keep them.

Furthermore, they are hardy fish species and can live under a wide range of water conditions.

Firemouth Cichlids and Swordtails fish
Firemouth Cichlids and Swordtails

Firemouth Cichlids

The fire mouth cichlid originates from Central America and is a perfect beginner fish. You will surely be mesmerized by this fish species once you set your eyes on them. It has a pearlescent turquoise blue body with red coloration on its scales.

Although they are considered semi-aggressive fish species, this is usually during the breeding season. They are friendly fish species that you can easily keep with larger and more active fish. They have an easy to moderate care level and usually grow to around 6 inches long.

You will need to keep them in at least 30 gallon tanks due to their size. Furthermore, they love digging, and you should try to glue their décor in place to prevent it from falling on them.

Wrapping Up

There is a wide range of fish species suitable for beginner aquarists, from freshwater fish to saltwater ones. This is why it is best to research more about the fish species you want to keep before buying them. This will give you an insight into what to expect once you buy the fish.

As a beginner pet owner, you can opt for one fish species on this list to start your aquarium.