Top Picks for Soft Water Fish: Your Ultimate Aquarium Guide

As a fish keeper, you will at some point look into soft water fish, and my best advice before you attempt this is to get at least a few month’s experience before jumping head first. Suppose you do have a little experience or you are familiar with soft water fish. In that case, my list below should help you in selecting appropriate breeds for your setup. Whether you’re a beginner to soft water or a seasoned aquarist, this article will provide you with a list that will best suit you. From vibrant tetras to graceful angelfish, I’ll share tips and tricks for keeping these delicate creatures in optimal conditions. 

List of soft water tropical fish

When it comes to choosing soft water tropical fish for your aquarium, there are several popular options to consider, but my favourites are:

  1. Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)
  2. Discus (Symphysodon spp.)
  3. Betta Fish (Betta splendens)
  4. Gourami (Trichogaster spp.)
  5. Tetras (Various species like Cardinal TetrasNeon Tetras, and Rummy-Nose Tetras)
  6. Rasboras (Various species like Harlequin Rasbora and Chili Rasbora)
  7. Corydoras Catfish (Various species like Bronze Cory and Panda Cory)
  8. Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
  9. Killifish (Various species like Blue Gularis and Aphyosemion australe)
  10. Apistogramma 


Angelfish are ideal for soft-water aquariums due to their natural adaptation to such environments. To create a suitable habitat, maintain a low GH level (below 3 degrees) and a pH below 7. While these fish require specific water chemistry, they are popular among hobbyists and relatively easy to care for with proper knowledge. Ensure a tank setup with hiding spots, warm water temperatures, and a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. Promptly address health issues such as Ich and fin rot. 

Angel Fish

Discus (Symphysodon spp.)

Discus fish thrive in soft-water aquariums due to their native Amazonian habitat. These fish prefer a low GH (under 1 degree) and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. To recreate this environment, use peat moss or specialized water conditioners. Discus are somewhat challenging to care for, requiring consistent water quality, warm temperatures, and a protein-rich diet. However, with the right knowledge, they can bring a splendid vibrancy to your aquarium.

Betta Fish (Betta splendens)

Betta Fish are native to Southeast Asia, naturally thriving in soft water conditions. Their preferred water hardness is typically below 5 dGH, with pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. Creating such an environment can be achieved by using rainwater or commercially available water conditioners. Bettas are reasonably easy to care for, making them suitable for both new and experienced aquarium enthusiasts. All they require is a varied diet, warm water, and regular water changes.

Gourami (Trichogaster spp.)

Gourami are native to Asian waters and are well suited to soft-water environments. They prefer water hardness below 15 dGH and a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. A mixture of tap water and rainwater can help maintain these conditions. Gouramis are hardy and relatively easy to care for, requiring only a varied diet, regular water changes, and a peaceful tank environment.

dwarf gourami


  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Glowlight Tetra 
  • Rummy-Nose Tetras

Tetras flourish in soft water environments due to their native Amazon Basin habitats. They prefer water hardness below 10 dGH and a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Achieve these conditions using peat moss or water conditioners. Tetras are quite easy to nurture, requiring a varied diet, warm water, and regular dechlorinated water changes, making them a delightful addition to any soft-water aquarium.


  • Harlequin Rasbora 
  • Chili Rasbora

Originating from Southeast Asian waters, Rasboras flourish in soft-water conditions. They favour water hardness below 10 dGH and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Attaining these conditions involves combining tap and rainwater. Rasboras are relatively low-maintenance, thriving on a varied diet, warm water, and periodic water changes, making them an ideal fit for both novice and experienced aquarium enthusiasts.

Corydoras Catfish

  • Bronze Cory 
  • Panda Cory

Corydoras Catfish, including Bronze Cory and Panda Cory, adapt well to soft-water aquariums because of their South American origins. They appreciate water hardness below 12 dGH and pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0. These conditions can be achieved using peat moss or water conditioners. Despite their unique requirements, Corydoras Catfish are relatively easy to care for, needing only a balanced diet, warm water, and regular water changes.

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Guppies are particularly compatible with soft water environments, owing to their tropical ancestry. They thrive in water hardness below 12 dGH and a pH between 7.0 and 7.2. This can be achieved with the use of rainwater or commercial water conditioners. Guppies are relatively low maintenance, requiring a balanced diet and periodic water changes, making them suitable for both inexperienced and seasoned aquarium enthusiasts.

Colorful Guppy Fish


  • Blue Gularis
  • Aphyosemion australe

Killifish, which includes species like the Blue Gularis and Aphyosemion australe, are renowned for their ability to thrive in soft water conditions. Originating from diverse regions ranging from Africa to South America, they prefer water hardness below 10 dGH and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Achieving these conditions requires a mix of tap and rainwater or specialized conditioners. Killifish require moderate care, necessitating a varied diet, consistent water temperature, and regular tank cleaning, but their stunning beauty makes the effort worthwhile.


Apistogramma, native to South America, prospers in soft water conditions. They prefer water hardness below 10 dGH and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, achievable by using peat moss or specific aquarium conditioners. Despite their vibrant charm, Apistogramma demands a fair share of care, including a balanced diet, stable water temperature, and regular water changes, but the captivating allure they add to the aquarium is worth the effort.

Soft Water Fish for Beginners

As a beginner in the world of soft water fish, I have found that These fish suit beginners:

  • Betta Fish
  • Guppies
  • Tetras 

Betta Fish

Betta fish are an ideal choice for beginners with soft water aquariums due to their hardiness and adaptability. They can thrive in different water conditions, including soft water, making them easy to care for and a popular choice for novices.

Beta Fish


Guppies, like Betta fish, are perfect for beginners due to their resilience and low-maintenance care. Notoriously hardy, they adapt well to various water conditions, including soft water, making them an excellent choice for those new to aquarium keeping.


Tetras are ideal for beginners as they’re sturdy, vibrant, and flourish in soft water conditions. Their communal nature makes them easy to manage, and their tolerance to environmental changes makes them less demanding for first-time aquarium enthusiasts.

Tip for keeping soft-water fish

To keep soft-water fish in optimal health, it is important to provide them with the proper water conditions and diet. Maintaining the correct pH levels is crucial, as soft-water fish thrive in slightly acidic conditions, with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. Additionally, maintaining a suitable water temperature between 75°F and 80°F is essential for their well-being. 

When setting up a soft-water aquarium, choose plants such as Java fern and Amazon sword, as they thrive in soft, acidic water. Furthermore, selecting the right filtration system will ensure proper water quality and oxygenation. You should also try storing water and using that to top up your tank (this is called ageing water). Avoid common mistakes like overcrowding, overfeeding, and sudden water changes, which can stress the fish. 

The world of soft-water fish offers a diverse range of options for aquarium enthusiasts. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hobbyist, there are numerous species to choose from. By following the tips I gave out throughout this post, you will create the perfect environment for these beautiful creatures to thrive. 

Bloodfin tetra

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Ideal Ph Range for Soft Water Fish?

  • The ideal pH range for soft-water fish typically falls between 6.0 and 7.0. This slightly acidic condition simulates the natural environments of many soft-water fish species. 

Can Soft Water Fish Coexist With Other Types of Fish in a Community Tank?

  • Soft-water fish can coexist with other types of fish in a community tank, but compatibility concerns arise when mixing them with hardwater species. Maintaining stable pH levels and addressing aggression issues are crucial for creating a harmonious environment.

How Often Should the Water in a Soft Water Aquarium Be Tested for Mineral Content?

  • Testing the mineral content in a soft water aquarium is crucial for maintaining optimal levels. Do this at least once a week or once every 2 weeks. Factors such as source water, substrate, and additives can affect mineral content. 

Are There Any Specific Plants or Decorations That Are Beneficial for Soft Water Fish?

  • Yes, some specific plants and decorations are beneficial for soft-water fish. Soft-water fish thrive in an environment that mirrors their natural habitat. Plants like Java Moss, Amazon Sword, and Java Fern are ideal for soft-water aquariums as they thrive in slightly acidic conditions. 

What Are Some Common Diseases or Health Issues That Soft Water Fish May Experience?

  • Soft-water fish may experience several common diseases or health issues. Fin Rot and Ich (also known as ‘White Spot Disease’) are quite prevalent. 


Just a keen fish keeper from the UK

Recent Posts