Top 15 Best Freshwater Fishes That Are Always Popular

There is no surprise that people prefer keeping fish as a pet more than any other animal. According to a study by the American Pet Products Association, in 2019-2020, over 11.5 million people in the US alone have freshwater fishes as their pets. Also, check archived information about pet statistics on

Many people consider them a stress releaser as they feel relaxed just by watching them swim. They also believe that fish can help reduce blood pressure and heart rate. At the same time, many believe that they bring luck and prosperity. Also, they are easy to look after and need less maintenance, and when people visit your home, you will get lots of appreciation.

Every fish has distinct personalities and characteristics, which makes them more attractive. Many people start fishkeeping as a hobby, but they get attached to them. Read the entire article, and you will learn all about the most popular and best freshwater fishes today.

15 Best Freshwater Fishes

1.  Goldfish

A freshwater gold fish

Most people don’t know how to keep Goldfish. They end up putting them alone in a bowl, but that’s not the right way. They should be kept in the tank of 20 gallons as they can grow up to the size of 14 inches. You also need a filter and change 10-15% of the water every week to keep them healthy.

Goldfish come in a variety and usually live in a group. You can mix up different breeds as long as they are not competitive towards each other. For example, you can keep single tailed varieties together.

2. Neon Tetra

A freshwater Neon tetra fish

This little neon tetra fish is best for you if you are a beginner as they are easy to look after and maintain. Neon tetras are peaceful social creatures who love to live in a group. They are best for the one who wants to keep a small aquarium as they grow up only to the size of 2.2cm.

These beautiful neon tetra fishes are visible in the dark because of their iridescent blue horizontal stripe across their body. They have bright colors, which make them more attractive. They are omnivores so you can feed them anything from plants to shrimp or worms, and the water condition should be soft and acidic with tropical temperatures.

Fun fact: Each month, the US alone imports over 1.5 million Neon Tetras.

3. Guppies

A freshwater guppy fish

The popularity of guppy fish is not only because of their attractive looks but also because they are adaptable to different water conditions.

They live in a group, so it will be best if you keep Guppies in the set of three. It won’t be a problem as they are very easy to look after. The water temperature for Guppies should range from 50o F to 82o F (10-28o C), and the fish tank capacity should be 1 gallon of water per Guppy. Also, make sure the water temperature is consistent.

If you just want them as a pet and have no intention of breeding them, then go for males as they are more vibrant and colorful than the female Guppies. You can feed your Guppy either a pre-made mixture of plants and animals available in the market or make it yourself as it is not that difficult to do.

4. Mollies

Freshwater molly fishes

These small species can grow up to 3-4 inches, are peaceful, and are easily adaptable to a variety of water conditions. Mollies are also easy to look after, so they are the best choice for a beginner.

A Molly fish can be fed both plants and animals as they are omnivores. They don’t lay eggs and give live birth like mammals. So, they are also called livebearers.

The tropical water temperature with a pH of 7.0-7.8 and a tank size of a minimum of 20 gallons is most suitable for Mollies. Mollies breed easily, so beginners should only keep the species of same-sex in the aquarium.

5. Bettas

A freshwater betta fish
Crowntail Betta Fish

Betta is beautiful and has vibrant colors that make it famous among aquarists. They can be kept by a beginner as they are easy to look after.

Bettas can be kept with other peaceful fishes but avoid keeping two or more male Betta in the same tank. They can get aggressive towards each other.

They can grow up to 3 inches and fed both plants and meat. Betta is small, but it is advised to keep them in a large tank. They are active swimmers, so they need ample space to swim.

The Betta fish has a labyrinth organ that can help them breathe air just like humans.

Here is another post about different types of betta fish, read it, and get the knowledge about bettas.

6. Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

A freshwater zebrafish or danio rerio

These easy to maintain little fish can grow up to the size of 5-7cm, which makes them ideal for beginners. Zebra Danios are peaceful but love to jump, so it will be best if you keep the tank covered.

They can eat most of the food, but the healthiest option for them can be crustaceans, insects, and worms as they fed on them in their natural habitat. You can also give them a treat of good-quality flake with frozen or live food.

Zebra Danios should be kept in the group of minimum 5, as the lower number can trigger stress in them. The fish tank capacity of 10 gallons is ideal for Zebra Danios.

7. Platies

A freshwater platy fish

Platies are peaceful and easy to care for. You can find them in a variety of colors which make them popular among the fishes.

They like to be social and make a great companion with Guppies and Mollies. Platies are active swimmers when they are young and should be kept in a group. The ideal fish tank capacity should be 10 gallons for 5 Platies.

They are omnivores. They require a protein diet but more plant-based food. So prefer more herbivorous food in comparison to meats.

8. Cherry Barb

A freshwater cherry barb fish

As the name suggests, Cherry Barb is found in a red appearance, and the males look brighter than the females. At the time of spawning, their color becomes more attractive than ever. You can notice a golden lateral line on their silver/black body.

These peaceful Cherry Barbs are a community fish that can grow up to a size of 2 inches.

They need ample space to swim, and the ideal tank size for them is 25 gallons. They are easy to look after, and you can easily feed them fresh, live, frozen, or flake foods as they are omnivorous. Make sure they have enough planted areas to hide in the aquarium.

9.  Pearl Gourami

A freshwater pearl gourami fish

Pearl Gourami is a peaceful fish that can get to the size of 4-5 inches. They are easy to look after and need a tank capacity of at least 30 gallons. It is advised to keep them with the fishes of the same size and temperament but avoid the aggressive ones. Pearl Gourami needs plenty of hiding places and sandy substrates.

They aren’t a fan of bright lights either, so make sure the lights are low. They can be fed both algae-based foods and meat as they are omnivorous. Pearl Gourami can solve the Hydra problem in your aquarium as they are one of the few species that eat them.

10. Swordtails

A freshwater swordtail fish

Swordtails are easy to care community fishes that make a great fish for beginner aquarists. These peaceful fishes are similar to Platy and Guppy fish in shape. But slightly bulkier and have an extended fin in the shape of a sword. You can also find them in a variety of colors.

Swordtails are active swimmers and need ample space to swim and a group to thrive. They are also livebearers and easy to breed. But after giving birth, it is advised to remove mother fish from the tank as they often eat their fry.

11. Oscar Fish

A freshwater oscar fish

Oscars are one of the intelligent species of fish, and you can even train them to do the tricks. It can become a challenging task to keep Oscar fish if you are a beginner. They are aggressive and don’t easily go along with other fish species. They are hard to maintain as they are carnivores and create a lot of waste. They also grow big too quickly.

The best thing is that you can keep the same species in your tank, either in pairs or in a group of 5+. Don’t keep a single Oscar in the tank when they are young. It can impact the growth of the fish. Also, you can hand feed them, and they are the species who can even eat their favorite fish food from between your fingers.

12.  Discus

A freshwater discus fish

Discus are difficult to maintain and hence are not for beginner aquarists. They are beautiful to look but can grow up to 8-10 inches. They need a minimum tank size of 50 gallons.

Apart from size, there are plenty of reasons why Discus should be kept only by experienced aquarists. You can feed them with a variety of food, but the best diet is the beef heart and blood worms with flakes as they provide vitamins and minerals.

It is advised to keep Discus in a group of 5, but if you want, you can keep it with other species. But make sure that the water conditions are favorable to them and they don’t have an aggressive temperament.

13. Angelfish

A freshwater angelfish

Angelfish belongs to the Cichlid family, which also includes Discus, Oscars, and Parrotfish. They are very common, and most aquarists keep them in their aquarium. They are found in a variety of colors and patterns and can grow up to 6 inches in length and 8 inches tall.

They need to be fed a balanced diet of both meat and plants as they are omnivorous. The water conditions should be slightly soft and acidic, and 20 gallons is the perfect tank size.

Angelfish are the community fish but can become aggressive when they get mature. Avoid keeping them with small or fin-nipping species and keep the tank less-crowded.

14. Killifish

A freshwater killifish

Killifish are hardy and available in a variety of colors. There are almost 700 species of Killifish, and all of them are suitable for every tank condition. Killifish are non-aggressive fish, but two males should not be kept in the same tank as they can get aggressive towards each other.

You can keep them with other small and peaceful fishes. You can feed them with insect larvae, worms, and crustaceans, as most of their species are carnivorous.

Killifish can be non-annual or annual breeders. The annual Killifish lay eggs in the non-permanent body when in their natural habitat. These bodies dry up for a few months, and they hatch only when the water returns.

15. Rainbowfish

A freshwater rainbowfish

Rainbowfish are non-aggressive community fish, originated from South-East Asia and Australia. They can grow up to 6 inches. Rainbow fishes are stunning, and their body is covered with vibrant colors. But they are visible only after they enter in their adulthood.

Also, proper care and diet are the reason for their vibrant appearance. They can be a great companion for upper-level community fishes as Danios, Bards, and Tetras.

16.  Plecostomus

Plecostomus sucker fish

Plecostomus is known as suckermouth catfish and belongs to the family of catfish. They are famous for their heavy armored plates on the body and sucker-shaped mouth. It is almost similar to Bristlenose pleco, but don’t have any bristle over the nose.

Some Pleco species eat algae, flakes or wafers while others eat frozen brine shrimp. Many fish species can become a fit companion of Pleco, but it is advised to avoid keeping them with fat/flat-bodied fish like Goldfish.

Placos can live for almost 20 years or more if taken care of in the right manner. They are easy to care but hard to breed, as only a few aquarists have managed to breed Placos. Make sure the lid of the tank is closed correctly, as they are also known to jump.

17. Corydoras Catfish

A freshwater cory catfish

Corydoras or Cory Catfish is another famous freshwater fish. They are one of the species of non-aggressive fish, but they like to dwell at the bottom of the tank.

Cory Catfish can thrive in a group of two or more, but they won’t get stressed even if they are kept individually in the tank.

While keeping Corydoras in a group, make sure there aren’t any aggressive fish. They usually pick up the leftover food from the bottom, but you can feed them bottom feeder tablets or flakes. They can clean up the tank for you and grow up to a length of 2.5 inches.


Freshwater fish are usually hardy and comes in different sizes, vibrant colors, and appearance. If you are a beginner, I will recommend you keep only a few fishes in the aquarium. You can add more once you get comfortable and learn more about them. Always research before buying a fish so that you know how much maintenance they require and also if they are fit for you or not. You should have a thorough idea of their diet, water conditions, and how to set up the aquarium.

The purpose of this article is to only give the name of the most popular fishes. It does not give insight on how to take care of them. If you want to know about fishes in detail, visit here. Which fish do you think is the best one for a beginner? Do you have a fish or planning to have one?