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29 Coolest Freshwater Aquarium Fish: For All Fish Keepers

Many people think that you need a marine or reef tank to enjoy the most brightly colored, cool-looking fishes. Well, we’re here to dispel that myth!

You can create an awesome display in your home aquarium by including some of the rarest, coolest, and most exotic species of freshwater aquarium fish that are available to the home hobbyist. Even the most unusual small freshwater fish specimens are typically much less expensive to buy than marines, they’re often less prone to serious disease, and they are easier to care for too.

So, if you want to add some awesome exotic aquatic pets to your tank, check out this guide to the coolest freshwater aquarium fish for our top picks!

Caring For A Freshwater Fish

A green beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes

Your freshwater aquarium is an enclosed ecosystem that needs careful maintenance to ensure that the environment is healthy for the inhabitants. You can read an in-depth article at this link, which explains how to care for a freshwater aquarium. In the meantime, here are a few basic pointers so that you know what you’re taking on.

The Nitrogen Cycle

When you set up a new aquarium, it’s essential that you cycle the tank before you put fish in it.

Your aquarium filter contains mechanical and biological elements, and some have a chemical element too.

The biological part of the filter system contains certain species of beneficial bacteria that process the harmful substances that are released during the decomposition of fish waste, uneaten food, decaying plant matter, and general detritus. The Nitrogen Cycle, as it’s called, can take up to six weeks to kick in properly, and is absolutely crucial for a safe, healthy tank.

You can read more about the Nitrogen Cycle in our detailed guide.

Introducing New Fish To Your Aquarium

Even though you’re super-excited about buying your new fish, don’t just tip them straight into your tank!

Quarantine

Woman feeding beta fish in aquarium at home.

All livestock, plants, and decorations can carry diseases, parasites, and bacteria that you absolutely don’t want in your display aquarium. For example, a few years back, I bought four beautiful dwarf gouramis and put them into a quarantine tank. Thank goodness I did! Those fish came in water that carried a whole bunch of snails that weren’t visible to the naked eye until they began to grow.

So, you should always put any new fish into a separate quarantine tank for at least two weeks before adding them to your main tank. During that time, observe the fish for signs of ill health and treat problems accordingly. When you’re happy that the fish are healthy, you can put them into your display tank.

Plants and decorations should be rinsed in tank water containing antibacterial treatment to kill off any nasties, and then added to your main aquarium.

Acclimating New Fish

All species of fish are sensitive to sudden temperature and environmental changes, and for that reason, it’s essential that you acclimate your fish before putting them into your tank. Also, fish are highly susceptible to stress.

Little happy boy holding a plastic bag with new fishes he bought at the zoo store for his home room aquarium feeding and taking care of pets

By the time you buy new fish from a fish store, those little guys have endured the stress of transport, been kept in crowded conditions in a store display tank, and then been bagged up and taken back home with you.

Before you add the fish to your tank:

  • Switch off the tank lights.
  • Float the bag containing the new fish on the water surface for ten to 15 minutes so that the water temperature equalizes. During that time, open the top of the bag and fold it open to allow air in so that the fish don’t suffocate.
  • Check the pH of both the tank water and that in the bag. If the difference between the two is less than 0.3, add a half cup of aquarium water to the bag every 15 minutes for one hour. If that difference is .4 to 0.8, continue to do that for two hours.
  • Remove the fish from the bag using a net, and carefully put them into the tank, discarding the water in the bag.

Aquarium Maintenance

Once your tank is set up, you need to keep it clean and well-maintained.

Young man changing water in aquarium using siphon.

Keep an eye on the water temperature to make sure that your heater is working correctly, and check the water chemistry every few days. The levels of ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrate levels should be no more than 20 ppm (parts per million). Levels that are too high could indicate a problem with your filter system or potential overstocking of the tank.

Every week, carry out partial water changes of up to 30% and vacuum the substrate to remove fish waste, leftover food, etc. Use an aquarium magnet to clean algae from the glass, remove dead leaves, and trim plants as required.

Once a month, clean the filter system and replace cartridges as necessary.

29 Coolest Freshwater Aquarium Fish

So, here are our 29 favorite coolest freshwater aquarium fish that any hobbyist would love to have in their collection!

1. GloFish Danio

5-Pack Assorted Danio GloFish (Danio rerio)

View on Petco

 

  • Maximum size: 2.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 3 to 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 64° to 75° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

GloFish danios are just about the brightest freshwater fishes that you can get! These stunning little fishes make the ideal starter fish for a kid’s tank or an eye-catching specialty aquarium.

These captive-bred danios are available in super-bright red, green, orange, blue, and purple. The colors are completely natural and produced through genetics, rather than artificial dyes, so the color does not fade.

The GloFish Danio is omnivorous, thriving on a staple diet of tropical flake and frozen, meaty foods. Keep these peaceful fishes in small schools in species-only tanks or with other non-aggressive companions.


2. Neon Tetra

WorldwideTropicals Live Freshwater Aquarium Fish - (6) 1" Fire Neon Tetras - 6 Pack of Fire Neons (Glo-Lites) Live Tropical Fish - Great for Aquariums - Populate Your Fish Tank!

Check on Amazon

 

  • Maximum size: 1.25 inches
  • Life expectancy: 3 to 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 68° to 78° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Neon tetras are regarded as the jewels of the fishkeeping hobby. With their glittering, iridescent blue coloring and brilliant red tail, these gorgeous little fishes look absolutely stunning when kept in schools of six or more individuals.

Neons do best in a heavily planted tank with subdued lighting and lots of hiding places, such as caves, driftwood, etc, Provide plenty of open water too, as these fish like to hang out in the midwater area of the aquarium creating a breathtaking display of shimmering color as they shoal together. Neon tetras are peaceful little fishes that can be kept in a community setup with other small, non-aggressive tankmates.

Neons are omnivorous, thriving on a diet of tropical flake food and micro-pellets, supplemented with frozen food, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. When fed a good quality diet and kept in the right conditions, these fish will spawn readily.


3. Golden Wonder Killifish

SPLENDID KILLIFISH aphyosemion splendopleure, ADULT

  • Maximum size: 4 inches
  • Life expectancy: 3 to 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 20 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 75° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Golden Wonder Killifish are native to the brackish and freshwater streams, marshes, and ponds of Africa, and their name, Killy, is taken from the Dutch for channel or ditch.

These carnivorous fishes are brightly colored with blue to yellow body coloration augmented by brilliant orange stripes and spots. Killifish are easy to look after and are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, although they do prefer soft, slightly acidic water and are happiest in a heavily planted tank.

Golden Wonder Killifish are carnivores, eating most live foods, including tubifex, white worms, and brine shrimp, and they will also accept some frozen and flake foods.


4. Kuhli Loach

Banded Kuhli Loach Live Fish Aquatic Pets

View on Amazon

 

  • Maximum size: 4.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: Up to 14 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 50 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 79° to 86° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Moderate

The Banded Khuli loach is one of around 100 species that belong to the Cobitidae family. These fishes are primarily carnivorous, living on the substrate and scavenging. Loaches are scaleless fish, and that can leave them susceptible to attack by parasites and some bacterial diseases too.

Loaches are shy fish that need an environment with plenty of hiding places and thick planting. These nocturnal fishes are peaceful, getting along well with other benign community species.

Feeding these fish can be challenging, as they do prefer a live diet, although they do accept freeze-dried tubifex and bloodworms, and they will take frozen meaty foods too. If you invest time in training your loaches, they will eventually learn to accept tropical flake foods, too.


5. American Flagfish

Florida Flagfish (Jordanella Floridae)
Image Source: flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 2.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 2 to 3 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 66° to 72° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The American Flagfish is an easy-to-care-for killifish that is well-known for both its algae-eating services and its stunning colors.

The fish is named for the American flag, having alternating red and creamy green stripes running horizontally across its body and sparkling scales that are reminiscent of the stars on the flag. American Flagfishes thrive in community tanks and even in small outdoor ponds, preferring dense planting and cover provided by floating plants.

These gorgeous fish with their patriotic coloring feed on a diet of live foods, including white worms, brine shrimp, tubifex, frozen meaty foods, and tropical flakes. If you don’t have a lot of algae growing in your tank, you’ll need to supplement the American Flagfish’s diet with algae wafers.


6. Indian Glassfish

Indian Glass Perch (Chanda ranga) aquarium fish

  • Maximum size: 5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 8 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 80° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Moderate

Indian Glassfish come from the clear forest streams of Myanmar. These unusual, almost transparent fishes are reasonably easy to care for, although they do need to live in a school in a well-oxygenated tank with excellent filtration and plenty of open water swimming space.

Glassfish are pretty peaceful characters, although they have been known to eat smaller tetras, so stock your aquarium with that in mind. These eye-catching fish are omnivorous, eating a variety of staple aquarium fish foods, including tropical flake, pellets, fresh, or frozen foods.


7. Peacock Gudgeon

Female peacock goby
Image Source: flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 2.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 to 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 15 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 77° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The Peacock Gudgeon is one of our favorite and coolest aquarium fish that you can enjoy in your home tank.

These gorgeous little fish are a riot of color, as well as being very easy to look after. Peacock Gudgeons are peaceable in nature, settling in well in a community setup, biotope, or planted tank. Also, you can breed these egg-laying fish relatively easily, provided that the tank is well-decorated and has excellent filtration. Once the eggs are laid, you can enjoy watching the male fish guarding them until the fry hatches.

The Peacock Gudgeon is omnivorous, enjoying a diet of flake food, frozen and freeze-dried meaty protein foods, including brine shrimp and bloodworms.


8. Bristlenose Plecostomus

Antcistrus, spotted aquarium catfish close-up. Background for pet shop

  • Maximum size: 5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 74° to 79° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The Bristlenose Plecostomus is a species of peaceful freshwater catfish that makes a quirky addition to any large community tank. These fish come in a variety of colors and patterns, including black and albino.

Plecos need a well-oxygenated tank with highly efficient filtration and good water movement. Provide lots of hiding places, rocks, driftwood, and heavy planting to keep these guys happy. You can breed Bristlenose Plecos in the home tank, and watching the male fish guarding his eggs and fry is fascinating, especially for kids.

These omnivorous fish are not fussy eaters, deriving much of the nutrition they need from algae and by scavenging scraps from the substrate. That said, you should also supplement that diet with flake foods and algae wafers.


9. Bolivian Ram

Bolivian Ram
Image Source: flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 3 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 79° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Experienced Only

The Bolivian Ram is also known as the Red Ram or Butterfly Ram. These peaceful sociable fish make a great addition to a large tank but are not the easiest to care for, so we recommend that only experienced hobbyists take on this species.

In the aquarium, these guys need lots of open water swimming space, as well as plenty of lush planting and some caves in which to spawn. Bolivian Rams pair for life, and they can be encouraged to spawn in a home tank, provided that conditions are right. Once the eggs are laid, both parents take turns raising the fry.

These fish are omnivorous, taking a wide range of foods, including flakes, frozen food, freeze-dried bloodworms, and live brine shrimp.


10. Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

This image shows a Dwarf Gourami female (Colisa lalia).
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 3.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 to 6 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Powder Blue Dwarf Gouramis are a color variant of the regular Dwarf Gourami. I have these in one of my tanks, and they are my personal favorites.

These peaceful, labyrinth fish make an excellent addition to a community tank, preferring lots of planting and floating plants too, and they are extremely easy to look after. That said, you do need an efficient filtration system and you must keep the tank clean, as Powder Blue Dwarf Gouramis will become stressed if conditions deteriorate.

If the water temperature is kept at the upper end of the gourami’s preferred range, they will spawn readily, building bubble nests and establishing territories in the tank. Male fish guard the eggs and raise the fry, which is fun to watch.

These fish eat a mixture of algae-based foods, as well as meaty proteins such as frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex.


11. Roseline Torpedo Shark

Denison's barb Roseline Shark Sahyadria denisonii red-line torpedo barb aquarium fish

  • Maximum size: 4.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 to 6 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 50 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 60° to 77° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The Roseline Torpedo Shark is also known as the Denison Barb and Red Lined Torpedo Shark. Unlike some of the other barb species, these are peaceful characters that make a pretty addition to a large community tank.

Keep these fishes in small schools in a tank that has a tightly fitting lid, as they do jump. You’ll need a setup with a decent flow to replicate the fast-moving streams in which the Roseline Torpedo Shark is found in nature, and dissolved oxygen levels in the water should be high.

These active fish enjoy an omnivorous diet of flaked food and meaty protein in the form of frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, and similar.


12. Crowntail Betta Fish

fancy crowntail betta fish
Image Source: flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 2.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: Nano tank
  • Water temperature: From 75° to 86° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

If you want to enjoy keeping a striking feature fish that has the personality to match his good looks, you need a Crowntail betta!

Betta fish don’t need a huge tank to be happy but these intelligent creatures do need plenty of stimulation in the form of toys, plants, caves, and other decorations. Bettas are sensitive to sudden fluctuations in temperature, and you need an efficient filtration system to keep the water clean.

You can’t keep two male betta fish together, but most individuals will be fine when kept in a peaceful community of fish of a similar size. Bettas are labyrinth fish, and they also construct bubble nests. I kept a small sorority of female bettas with my male Crowntail, and they spawned readily in my tank, which is good news if you fancy breeding bettas.

These fish are primarily carnivorous, although mine did enjoy grazing on algae too. Feed your betta high-quality flake food, as well as freeze-dried and frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae.


13. Koi Angelfish

Pterophyllum scalare (Lichtenstein, 1823) - freshwater angelfish from the Rio Negro drainage basin of northern Brazil (captives, Newport Aquarium, Newport, Kentucky, USA).
Image Source: flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 6 inches
  • Life expectancy: 10 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 75° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Koi Angelfish are a stunning variety of angelfish that are each unique in color and pattern.

These fish are happiest when kept in small schools, and they will pair off as they mature. As semi-aggressive fish, Koi Angelfish are best kept in single-species setups or with other fish of a similar size and nature.

Angelfish are quite large, and they do need lots of swimming space, as well as rocks, driftwood, and plants in their setup. The flow through the tank should be moderate, and you’ll need to keep the water pristine for these guys to thrive.

Koi Angelfish are omnivores, feeding on a variety of food, including meaty protein, tropical flake, frozen and live foods, including bloodworms and brine shrimp.


14. Royal Whiptail Catfish

underwater scenery including a whiptail catfish in natural ambiance

  • Maximum size: 6 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 50 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 73° to 79° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Moderate

The Royal Whiptail catfish is an armored catfish with a long, slender tail and an elongated nose. These totally cool fish have a sucker mouth that they use to feed on algae, helping to keep your plants and decorations clean. These helpful fish are peaceful creatures that make an excellent addition to a community setup.

You do need a large tank for these guys that has plenty of hiding places, including plants, rocks, and driftwood. These bottom-dwelling omnivorous fishes eat fish flake, freeze-dried bloodworms, sinking herbivore pellets, algae, and leftover food that drifts down from above.


15. Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid

at Suma aquarium.
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 3 inches
  • Life expectancy: 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 77° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Moderate

If you’re a fan of cichlids, you’ll agree that the Agassizii’s Dwarf Cichlid is a stunner!

These gorgeous little fish need a tank that’s densely planted and that has a stable environment with very good water quality. Lots of open area for swimming is also preferred, together with hiding places and a sandy or fine gravel substrate. If you want to encourage spawning, you’ll need to include caves in your tank decorations.

Although these fish can be kept in a community, they are quite a shy species and shouldn’t be kept with large or semi-aggressive fish.

Agassizii Dwarf Cichlids eat flake foods, micro pellets, frozen bloodworms, Mysis shrimp, and similar.


16. Honey Gourami

Honey gourami Trichogaster chuna tropical aquarium fish in fish tank. aquaria concept

  • Maximum size: 2 inches
  • Life expectancy: 4 to 8 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Difficult

The Honey Gourami is a close relative of the Dwarf Gourami. These are labyrinth fish that enjoy life in a heavily planted tank that includes floating plants. Honey Gouramis are peaceful fishes that make good community residents, although they can become territorial when spawning.

These fish are not the easiest to keep healthy, and for that reason, we don’t recommend them to beginner hobbyists. The Honey Gourami is an omnivore, eating vegetable and algae-based foods, as well as meaty proteins, including frozen and freeze-dried tubifex, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.


17. Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

Boeseman's rainbowfish
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 4 inches
  • Life expectancy: 5 to 8 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 77° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The Boesemani Rainbowfish is a beautiful fish that looks absolutely gorgeous when displayed in a school in a heavily planted aquarium with a dark substrate and plenty of rockwork. Give these fishes plenty of swimming space in a long aquarium, and you will create a jaw-dropping spectacle. Rainbowfish are peaceful creatures that can also do well in a community tank.

Despite their exotic appearance, these omnivorous rainbowfishes are very easy to care for, and they will spawn readily, too, if given the right conditions and suitable diet. Like all rainbowfish, Boesemanis have very large mouths, but their throats are narrow. For that reason, you should offer the fish foods that are small enough to be easily swallowed. Feed tropical flakes, live, and frozen meaty foods.


18. Red Wagtail Platy

Wagtail Platy Fish, xiphophorus maculatus

  • Maximum size: 2 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 64° to 77° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The Platy is a popular favorite that’s ideal for beginners, being easy to care for and extremely quick to reproduce in the home tank. Red Wagtail Platys are a variation that adds a brilliant splash of color to a peaceful community aquarium. These fish are ideal for kids’ pets, as they don’t need a huge tank and are tolerant of a variety of water conditions.

These lively, sociable fish can be kept in large schools in a bigger tank to create a spectacular, colorful display. And thanks to their rapid rate of reproduction, you could start with just a few fish and breed your own stock.

Platys are omnivores that will thrive on flaked foods, algae, and a range of freeze-dried, frozen, and live meaty foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex.


19. Boraras Brigittae

Male Boraras Brigittae in Aquarium.
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 2 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 77° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Boraras Brigittae is a variety of rasbora that is one of the less commonly seen varieties of these popular tropical fish.

These peaceful omnivores should be kept in schools of eight to ten individuals and make a nice addition to a community setup of similar-sized, small fishes. Boraras Brigittae likes a mature setup that has plenty of planting but also includes open areas for swimming.

If fed a good quality diet of tropical flake food, freeze-dried and frozen proteins such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex, these pretty rasboras will spawn in your tank.


20. Glass Catfish

transparent Glass or Ghost catfish under water

  • Maximum size: 4 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 8 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 75° to 80° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Moderate

Ghost Glass Catfish are such cool fish! These weird creatures are totally transparent, enabling you to see the fish’s internal organs and skeleton.

These are a peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with other species of a similar size and temperament. That said, Ghost Glass Cats are schooling fish that must be kept in a group of at least five individuals if they are to thrive. If kept alone, these fish will become stressed, stop eating, and die.

These fish prefer to be kept in low-light conditions and are most lively at dusk and dawn. Provide the Ghost Glass Catfish with plenty of caves, coves, and hiding places, as well as abundant dense planting.

These fishes are omnivorous, preferring a diet of tropical flake and frozen food, as well as freeze-dried treats of tubifex and bloodworms.


21. Cyrtocara Moorii

Cyrtocara moorii
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 9.8 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 8 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 75 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 73° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Intermediate

In nature, the Cyrtocara Moorii is a semi-aggressive, carnivorous predator, and as such isn’t suitable for life in a community tank, unless kept with other cichlid species of a similar disposition and size. These big cichlids need a very large tank with plenty of space for swimming and shoaling.

These are shoaling fish that need hard, alkaline water to thrive. Also, you’ll need to use a very efficient filtration system and carry out weekly water changes to keep the tank in pristine condition. These are carnivorous fish in nature, and must be fed a meaty diet that includes live foods, as well as frozen items. Also, you can cut up fresh prawns and earthworms, both of which make a good supplement to the Cyrtocara Moorii’s diet.


22. Flowerhorn Cichlid

flowerhorn cichlid or cichlasoma fish in the aquarium

  • Maximum size: 10 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 12 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 50 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 80° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

If you have a very large tank and you’re looking for a cool fish that has a distinctive appearance, look no further than the Flowerhorn Cichlid, so named for the brightly colored hump that grows on the fish’s head.

These are big fish, and they can be destructive in a planted tank, so any live plants must be secured in pots to protect their roots from the digging activities of the Flowerhorn. This cichlid species likes lots of hiding places among rocky terrain, and the substrate of the tank should be sandy to allow the fish to dig without sustaining an injury.

The Flowerhorn is quite aggressive and is not suitable for life in a peaceful community tank, as they will eat invertebrates and smaller fish species. Feed these omnivores a diet of cichlid pellets, flake foods, and frozen bloodworms, ocean plankton, and tubifex.


23. Black Molly

Coppia di Black Molly
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 3 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 to 4 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 68° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Intermediate

The Black Molly is an all-black variant of the Molly fish. Interestingly, although these are freshwater fish, they can acclimate to a brackish or even a saltwater tank. These peaceful, community-loving fishes prefer a tank with good filtration and lots of robust planting, including floating species.

These fish are livebearers, and they can be encouraged to spawn in captivity, although you’ll get best results if you use a spawning tank. These omnivorous fishes do well on a varied diet of flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, and frozen tubifex and brine shrimp.


24. Celestial Pearl Danio

Isolated Celestial Pearl Danio fish in a tank.
Image Source : flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 2 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 to 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 10 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 73° to 77° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Celestial Pearl Danios are peaceful schooling fish that do well as part of a community with other good-natured fish of a similar size. These are very active fishes that enjoy plenty of swimming space surrounded by dense planting.

Pearl Danios are prolific breeders, and they will spawn readily in a shallow breeding tank that has a coarse gravel substrate on which they can scatter their eggs. To encourage spawning, feed the fish live foods and place the breeding tank where it will receive a small amount of sunlight.

These pretty little fishes are omnivorous, thriving on a diet of flake food, vegetable matter, and frozen foods, including bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex.


25. Checkerboard Discus

Beautiful Discus fish (Symphysodon)

  • Maximum size: 10 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 to 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 55 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 79° to 86° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Intermediate

The Checkerboard Discus is a relatively new variety of the ever-popular Discus fish. These fish prefer a shady habitat with lots of dense covers and subdued lighting. For the fish to remain healthy, the water must be warm, acidic, and soft, and you’ll need a very efficient filtration system.

These peaceful carnivores can be kept in a community of other large fish, but they do best in a same-species setup where they can pair naturally. If you do decide to breed from your Checkerboard Discus, you should use a separate breeding tank, as this species can become territorial during breeding.

Discus are generally carnivorous, feeding on freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex, discus pellets, frozen meaty foods, and high-quality flakes.


26. Pearl Gourami

Trichogaster leeri (Gourami Perla/Pearl Gourami)
Image Source: flickr.com
  • Maximum size: 4 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 75° to 86° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

The beautiful Pearl Gourami is a cool fish that gives you plenty of bang for your buck in terms of looks while also being super-easy to keep.

You’ll need a fairly large tank that’s at least 12 inches deep, planted with lots of lush growth and floating plants that provide plenty of hiding places for these labyrinth fish. Pearl Gouramis are peaceful fishes that do well in a community setup with other good-natured species. Like other gourami species, the Pearl Gourami is a bubble nester that will spawn in captivity, provided that conditions are good.

Feed your fish a mixture of algae-based flake foods together with frozen and freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex.


27. Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin tetra fishes swimming inside tropical aquarium.

  • Maximum size: 1.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 5 to 8 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 72° to 80° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Bloodfin Tetras create a spectacular display when kept in schools in a nicely aquascaped tank containing plenty of plants, rocks, and driftwood. Leave plenty of swimming space in the midwater column, perhaps interspersed with tall plants.

These peaceful little fish make a nice addition to a community setup, although they shouldn’t be kept with species that are aggressive or the shy tetras will hide, and you won’t get to enjoy them.

The Bloodfin Tetra eats most small foods, including daphnia, brine shrimp, freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex, micro pellet food, and tropical flakes.


28. Swordtail

A cultivar of the Green swordtail
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org
  • Maximum size: 4 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 to 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 20 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 64° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Easy

Swordtails come in a variety of colors that brighten up any community tank as these lively community fishes dart around the midwater column.

These fish are perfect for beginners, being easy to care for, peaceful in nature, and very easy to breed too. If you want any fry to survive, provide a spawning box or dense floating plants.

To get the best from these pretty little fishes you do need a reasonable sized aquarium with a tightly fitting lid to keep these confirmed jumpers from leaping out. Swordtails thrive on a diet of tropical fish flakes, algae, frozen meaty protein foods and freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex. You can also feed live brine shrimp if available.


29. Archer Fish

Banded archerfish (Toxotes jaculatrix), also known as the spinner fish.

  • Maximum size: 12 inches
  • Life expectancy: up to 3 to 5 years
  • Minimum tank requirement: 100 gallons
  • Water temperature: From 77° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • Care level: Difficult

The Archer Fish is a tropical, schooling species that can live in brackish or freshwater. These large fishes are best known for their habit of shooting down insects with a jet of water.

The ideal setup for these fascinating fish is a paludarium. That’s a tank that has plants extending above the water surface, as well as underwater life. The idea is that the setup encourages insects to settle on the plants, enabling the Archer Fish to indulge in its natural hunting behavior.

Feed these challenging fish tropical flakes, pellets, and frozen meaty foods too.

In Conclusion

Beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Aquascape.

We hope you enjoyed the list of our favorite cool fish species. If you did, please remember to share this article with your friends!

Most of the fish species that we included in our list are suitable for beginners and many make a great addition to a peaceful community tank, so we reckon that there’s something for everyone here.

That said, are there any other cool fish that we didn’t mention? Don’t be shy! Tell us all about the fish that you think deserve to make the list in the comments box below.

Check out our infographic and don’t forget to share!

29 Coolest Fish Species For The Home Aquarium-infographics

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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