Choosing Your First Tropical Fish: Top Picks for Beginners


So you’re ready to take the plunge into the colorful world of tropical fish, and you’re unsure which ones to go with? Well, from my time keeping tropical fish, I find that a few stand out in ease of care. To guide you through this process, I’ll share my top picks for beginners and throw in a few tips, along with why I think these fish make the list of top tropical aquarium fish for beginners.

What are the best tropical fish to start with 

Guppies

Starting with guppies is a smart choice for beginners due to their hardiness and vibrant colors. Here are four reasons why guppies are an excellent species of fish for beginner fishkeepers:

  • Hardiness: Guppies can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, making them resilient and adaptable to different environments. This means they are less prone to stress and diseases.
  • Vibrant Colors: Guppies come in a variety of dazzling colors and patterns.
  • Breeding Opportunities: Guppies are known for their prolific breeding capabilities; beginners don’t need to do much.
Orange Tailed Guppy

Zebra Danios

These small, colorful fish are perfect for fish tanks and have become a favorite among fish keepers. One of the reasons why Zebra Danios are great for beginners is because they are hardy and tolerate all kinds of water conditions. They are also schooling fish, which means they thrive in groups of five or more. Keeping them in a larger tank of at least 10 gallons of water allows them to swim and interact freely.

Harlequin Rasbora

After keeping this fish in many of my community tanks, my top pick for beginners looking to start with tropical fish is the Harlequin Rasbora. Here’s why:

  • Easy to care for: Harlequin Rasboras are hardy fish that adapt well to different water conditions, making them ideal for beginners.
  • Peaceful nature: These fish are known for their peaceful temperament, making them compatible with a wide range of tank mates.
  • Beautiful appearance: With their vibrant orange and black markings, Harlequin Rasboras adds a touch of color to any aquarium.

Neon Tetras

Now, let’s talk about another excellent choice for beginners looking to start their tropical fishkeeping journey: the Neon Tetras. These small, vibrant fish are popular among beginners for several reasons. 

  • Firstly, they are incredibly hardy and can adapt to a wide range of water conditions. This makes them less susceptible to stress and disease, making them easier to care for. 
  • Secondly, Neon Tetras are peaceful by nature and can coexist well with other non-aggressive fish. They are also very active swimmers, which adds liveliness and beauty to any aquarium. 
  • Lastly, Neon Tetras are relatively low-maintenance and require a simple flake or pellet food diet. 

With their striking colors and ease of care, I find Neon Tetras to be a fantastic choice for beginners.

Neon Tetra

Betta Fish

As a beginner, one of the best tropical fish to start with is the Betta fish due to its vibrant colors and not forgetting their ease of care. Here are four reasons why Betta Fish is a great choice for beginners:

  • Beautiful and vibrant colors: Betta Fish come in many variations of colors and patterns, making them an appealing addition to any aquarium.
  • Low maintenance: Betta Fish are relatively easy to care for, requiring minimal equipment and space. They can thrive in small tanks and do not require a heater or filtration system.
  • Hardy and resilient: Betta fish are known for their hardiness and ability to adapt to different water conditions. This makes them less susceptible to disease and easier to keep healthy.

Platies

Continuing with the discussion on the best tropical fish for beginners, another excellent option is Platies due to their ease of care and tranquil nature. Platies are small, colorful fish that come in a variety of patterns and hues, making them a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts. They are hardy and adaptable, making them ideal for novice fish keepers. Platies tolerate a wide range of water conditions and are not overly sensitive to changes in temperature or pH levels. 

They are also relatively easy to feed, as they readily accept both dry and frozen foods. Additionally, platies are known for their peaceful temperament, getting along well with other community fish species. With their low maintenance requirements and vibrant appearance, platies are a fantastic choice for beginners looking to start their tropical fishkeeping journey.

Mollies

These vibrant and lively fish are a great addition to any tropical tank, and here are my reasons why Mollies are perfect for beginners:

  • Hardy and adaptable: Mollies are known for their resilience and ability to thrive in various water conditions. They tolerate a wide range of temperatures and pH levels,
  • Peaceful nature: Mollies are peaceful community fish that get along well with other species. They rarely show aggression towards tank mates.
  • Easy to breed: Mollies give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. This makes breeding them relatively easy for beginners.
Molly Fish

Swordtails

I highly recommend starting your tropical fish journey with Swordtails, as they offer a range of desirable traits for beginners. These colorful and hardy fish are known for their peaceful nature, making them ideal for community tanks. They are also easy to care for and can adapt to a variety of water conditions. Swordtails are known for their long, sword-like tails, which add a beautiful touch to any aquarium. They are also prolific breeders, which can be exciting for beginners looking to witness the miracle of life in their tanks. 

Plecostomus

A popular choice for beginners starting out in tropical fishkeeping is the Plecostomus. These fish, also known as plecos or suckerfish, are well-suited for beginners due to their hardiness and low maintenance requirements. Plecos are known for their capacity to clean algae from tank walls and decorations, making them an excellent addition to any aquarium. They are peaceful and can coexist with a variety of other fish species, making them a versatile choice for beginners. Plecos are also easy to feed; they will happily consume algae wafers, vegetables, and even leftover fish food. 

Corydoras

I find that Corydoras emerge as a top choice due to their peaceful nature and hardiness. These small catfish are not only beautiful to look at, but they also have a number of qualities that make them ideal for novice fish keepers. Here’s why I think the Corydoras are a great option for beginners:

  • Peaceful temperament: Corydoras are social and peaceful, making them compatible with a wide range of tank mates.
  • Hardy and adaptable: These fish can thrive in various tank setups and tolerate different water conditions.
  • Bottom-dwelling behavior: Corydoras are bottom feeders, constantly scavenging for food at the substrate level. This adds an interesting dynamic to the aquarium and helps keep the tank clean.

Barbs

One popular choice for beginners looking to start their tropical fishkeeping journey is the Barb. These small, lively fish are known for their vibrant colors and active behavior, making them a great addition to any aquarium. Barbs are also hardy and adaptable, making them suitable for newcomers who are still figuring out the ropes of fishkeeping. They tolerate a wide range of water conditions and are not too demanding when it comes to diet. Barbs are generally peaceful, but it’s important to keep them in a group of at least six to prevent any aggression. Some popular beginner barb species include Cherry Barbs, Tiger Barbs, and Rosy Barbs. 

Kuhli Loaches

When it comes to choosing the best tropical fish to start with, one option that stands out is the Kuhli Loach. These small, eel-like fish are perfect for beginners due to their peaceful nature and low upkeep requirements. I also add them to my list because of the following:

  • Easy to care for: Kuhli Loaches are hardy and adaptable, making them a great option for novice fishkeepers.
  • Peaceful temperament: These loaches are known for their peaceful nature and get along well with other non-aggressive fish.
  • Unique appearance: With their slender bodies and distinctive patterns, Kuhli Loaches add a touch of elegance to any aquarium.

Angelfish

Angelfish is an excellent choice for beginners starting their tropical fish journey. These elegant creatures are known for their striking appearance, tall, triangular bodies, and flowing fins. They come in a variety of colors, including silver, black, and marbled patterns, adding a touch of beauty to any aquarium. Angelfish are typically peaceful and easy to care for, making them suitable for novice fishkeepers. They adapt well to different water conditions and can tolerate various temperatures. Angelfish are also relatively hardy, meaning they can withstand minor fluctuations in water parameters.

Calico Angelfish
Calico Angelfish

Selecting the Right Fish for Your Aquarium Setup

I recommend adding a few hardy fish to your aquarium setup to ensure a successful start. Here are four types of fish that are known for their resilience and adaptability:

  • Zebra Danios: 
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Corydoras Catfish

Tips for beginners for choosing tropical fish

  1. Research, research, research: Take the time to educate yourself about different species of tropical fish. Learn about their care requirements, compatibility with other fish, and their behavior. This will help you make informed decisions and ensure the well-being of your fish.
  2. Start with hardy species: As a beginner, it’s best to start with hardy fish that can tolerate fluctuations in water conditions. Some popular choices include guppies, platies, and danios. These fish are known for their resilience and adaptability.
  3. Consider tank size: Make sure you have an appropriate-sized tank for your chosen fish. Different species have different space requirements, and overcrowding can lead to stress and health problems.
  4. Seek advice from experts: Don’t hesitate to reach out to experienced fishkeepers or visit your local aquarium store for guidance. They can provide valuable insights and help you make the right choices for your first tropical fish.

So there you have it, a guide to choosing your first tropical fish as a beginner. Remember to start with hardy and low-maintenance species like guppies or tetras. Consider the size of your tank, water parameters, and compatibility when selecting your fish. And remember to research and learn about the specific needs of each species. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Key Factors to Consider When Setting up a Tropical Fish Tank?

  • When setting up a tropical fish tank, key factors to consider include tank size, water quality, filtration system, and appropriate fish species. 

Are There Any Specific Tropical Fish Species That Are Known to Be More Low-Maintenance for Beginners?

  • There are, indeed, species such as platies, guppies, and Danios that are low maintenance.

How Can I Ensure the Compatibility of Different Tropical Fish Species in My Aquarium?

  • To ensure compatibility of different tropical fish species in your aquarium, research their temperament, size, and water requirements.

rick

Just a keen fish keeper from the UK

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