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Popular Freshwater Fish for Beginners

You want a beautiful assortment of fish in your freshwater aquarium, but with the hundreds of choices available, where do you start?

You know that you need compatible tankmates that share similar water parameter requirements, but researching fish compatibility may seem like an overwhelming task. We can help.

We’ve streamlined the process for you with the following featured list of gorgeous freshwater aquarium fish recommended for their ease-of-care, hardy nature, compatibility, and overall suitability for the beginning hobbyist.

Peppered Cory Cat

(Corydoras paleatus)

This adorable Corydoras Catfish with playful peppered markings is a peaceful, bottom-dwelling fish originating from the tributaries of larger river systems in South America. The Peppered Cory Cat has black and dark green spots and a white underside. They are social fish that enjoy being in numbers, so a school of six or more introduces lively activity to your aquarium.

Snakeskin Barb

(Puntius rhombocellatus)

Native to the blackwaters of Borneo, Indonesia, the Snakeskin Barb is an active fish with eye-catching coloration. Irregular, deep-green markings contrast boldly against the vibrant orange-red body coloration to impart a striking snakeskin appearance. A school of around six or more enhances this effect dramatically for a truly spectacular aquarium display. Snakeskin Barbs add a lot of action to your freshwater aquarium as they cruise its mid-level regions.

Candy Cane Tetra

(Hyphessobrycon sp. HY511)

The Candy Cane Tetra, or HY511 Tetra, is often confused with the similar Rosy Tetra, but is actually a newly discovered species of fish that has not been officially given a scientific name. The Candy Cane Tetra features the striking color pattern of a light pink body accented with darker red markings in the fins and eye-catching bright white fin tips, giving this beautiful fish its namesake candy cane appearance. The elegant nature of the Candy Cane Tetra creates an impressive mid-level aquarium display when kept in a school of around six or more.

Black Harlequin Rasbora

(Trigonostigma heteromorpha)

The Black Harlequin Rasbora is a popular freshwater aquarium fish with a distinct black, triangle-shaped patch starting near the dorsal fin, and a mostly purple to black body with hints of brassy, iridescent orange coloration. The Black Harlequin Rasbora will occupy the upper region of your freshwater aquarium, adding lively movement and exciting color for a marvelous display. As peaceful, social fish, the Black Harlequin Rasbora does best in a school of around six or more and enjoys lots of open areas for swimming.

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

(Colisa lalia)

The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami is a colorful fish with a dazzling iridescent sheen that brilliantly accentuates the vivid turquoise blue coloration and striking orange-red stripes. The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami belongs to a group of fish collectively known as Labyrinth Fish, which are capable of breathing atmospheric air. As such, the Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami typically occupies the top half of the aquarium and occasionally rises to the water surface to take a gulp of fresh air. Its peaceful temperament makes the Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami a great companion for other small, peaceful fish.

Praecox Rainbow

(Melanotaenia praecox)

The Praecox Rainbow is a peaceful, mid-level, schooling fish with large, distinct eyes full of personality. The Praecox Rainbow has beautiful, vibrant blue coloration that develops in intensity as it matures. Its iridescent shades ranging from turquoise to cobalt blue shimmer brilliantly for a dazzling show of color and light. A rich, deeply colored gravel substrate will help show off your Praecox Rainbow to dramatic effect.

Cherry Barb

(Puntius titteya)

The Cherry Barb is a well-rounded fish that is not only beautiful and easy to care for, but also peaceful in temperament and hardy in nature. The Cherry Barb has a sleek, streamlined profile and sports a warm, fiery coloration of oranges and reds. Ornate markings in chocolate brown coloration decorate the fish along the lateral line, injecting color and texture to the mid-level of your aquarium. For best visual effect, consider a school of six or more. Under ideal conditions, the Cherry Barb will spawn in your aquarium, adding an exciting new element to your hobby.

Bushy Nose Plecostomus

(Ancistrus sp.)

The Bushy Nose Plecostomus, also known as the Bristlenose Plecostomus, originates from the rivers and tributaries of South America. Its subtle and generally muted coloration allows the Bushy Nose Plecostomus to maintain a low profile as it occupies the bottom region of your aquarium. Despite its inconspicuous appearance, you will have no problem locating this industrious fish as it actively scours surfaces in search of algae and other tidbits to devour. Most freshwater setups require only one of these hardworking aquarium cleaners.

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