12 Easiest Fish To Take Care Of! (A Ultimate Beginner List)

Are you looking to get “become a fish parent” crossed off your bucket list? You’re in luck!

Creating and caring for a home aquarium is an exciting and entertaining hobby. What starts as a few small fish tends to quickly turn into a full aquarium of your favorite species if you’re not too careful (and really, who wants to be?)

If you’re new to home aquariums, you may be wondering which types of fish are best for beginners.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the 12 easiest fish to take care of, whether you’re an aquarium guppy or a veteran!

In this guide, we’ll talk about:

  • Common Goldfish
  • Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Betta Fish
  • Platties
  • Zebra Danios
  • Swordtails
  • Barbs
  • Angelfish
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Cory Catfish
  • Plecos

If you’re interested in raising any of these species, keep reading to learn more about their care requirements and why they’re such a great choice!

What Are We Considered as an Easy Fish To Take Care Of?

An easy fish to take care of is normally considered a fish that is low maintenance and this can take many different forms.

A fish that is easy to care for may mean that it has a calm, gentle nature that won’t cause disruptions in your tank. It may also mean an aggressive yet hardy fish that survives easily, such as the case with cichlids.

How you determine which fish is best for you as a beginner and easy to care for, ultimately is up to you. But here are some factors to consider are:

  • Fish size (you’ll need bigger setups for larger fish)
  • Fish temperament (both by themselves and with other fish!)
  • Fish hardiness (how easy is it to keep them alive?)

By taking each of these into consideration, you can find an easy fish that’s perfect for your needs. 

What Are The Most Low Maintenance Fish To Keep?

1. Common Goldfish

  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus
  • Origin: East Asia
  • Size: 8 to 24 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful

This species is easily the most common fish on the list. For many people, the common goldfish is their first-ever fish pet as a child. 

Though many people think goldfish will do just fine with an ordinary fish bowl, we don’t recommend fish bowls for any aquatic animal.

Fish bowls are simply too small and don’t have space for any fish or the filtering equipment needed to keep them healthy.

If you get a common goldfish, we recommend a tank that can hold at least 20 gallons of water per goldfish.

You’ll also want a regular filtering system, as goldfish can produce quite a bit of waste. 

Finally, you need a heater that is able to keep your tank around 68 degrees.

Goldfish are a hardy species that can tolerate environmental changes pretty well, but you should try to keep their tank as stable as possible for them. 

As long as you have the proper setup, goldfish don’t require much else.

Feed them a few times a day with a high-nutrient food that includes plant and insect matter, whether it’s in flake or pellet form. 

2. Tetras

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon eques
  • Origin: Africa, Central America, South America
  • Size: 1.5 – 2 inches
  • Temperament: calm, peaceful

Tetras are a great addition to any fish tank as they’re extremely easy to care for and can be housed easily with other non-aggressive fish. They’re like the perfect roommate!

Because they’re so small, tetras tend to school together in your aquarium which makes them look cool in your aquarium.

Good beginner tetras include black skirt, red eye, and bloodfin tetras. They can live for up to 10 years when properly cared for and don’t exceed 2 inches in length.

Finally, make sure you keep your tetras in a tank around 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer temperatures may stress your tetras and reduce their lifespan. 

As long as your tank is kept clean and around a pH of 6.5, your tetras should be good to go!

They prefer a diet of nutrient-dense pellets and the occasional bloodworm as well. 

3. Mollies

  • Scientific Name: Poecilia sphenops
  • Origin: Southern US, Central America
  • Size: 4 – 4.5 inches
  • Temperament: calm, peaceful

Mollies are adorable small fish that do great in many home aquariums. Believe it or not, mollies are actually native to Mexico and the southern United States, so they definitely like it warm!

Mollies are similar to guppies and are an extremely hardy species. Most mollies will adapt well to nearly any home aquarium and have greater care ranges than other fish species. 

The minimum tank size we recommend for mollies is 10 gallons. The recommended temperature for mollies is between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit, and their water should be kept at a fairly neutral pH. 

Mollies live up to 5 years and come in many different colors, so you’ll be sure to find one that adds the perfect splash to your aquarium!

4. Betta Fish

  • Scientific Name: Betta splendens
  • Origin: Asia
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Temperament: aggressive, but can become docile in the right conditions

If you’ve ever been to a pet store, you’ve probably seen bettas before. They’re the slow, colorful ones hanging out towards the front in little plastic tubs. (*)

Now, you should know that these fish don’t like those little plastic tubs, and we definitely recommend at least a 5-gallon tank. After all, you wouldn’t like living in a closet very much!

Are betta fish easy to take care of?

Yes, these colorful aquatic friends also need regular filtration just like any other fish.

Betta fish only need to be fed once per day to prevent overfeeding. The best food for bettas is meat-based and contains bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and plant matter.

These lovely, beautiful fish live between 3-5 years with proper care. They do well alone, but females can be housed together if you want multiple. 

Learn more:

5. Platties

  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus maculatus
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 2 – 3 inches
  • Temperament: calm, peaceful

Platties are another small fish that do well in a variety of fish tanks, similar to mollies. These colorful fun-sized fish are hardy and can adapt to many environments, though they thrive best in environments that simulate their own. 

Though platties get along with other fish species just fine, they do prefer to be in their own company, so it’s recommended you get them some friends to live with, rather than living as singles.

Platties enjoy pellets, flakes, vegetables, and live foods like bloodworms. Plus, with so many colors and patterns to choose from (wagtail, twin bar, tuxedo, and more!) you’ll find yourself with a stunning home aquarium in no time. 

6. Zebra Danios

  • Scientific Name: Danio rerio
  • Origin: Eastern India
  • Size: 2 – 2.5 inches
  • Temperament: social, playful

Zebra danios are one of the most peaceful freshwater fish you can get for your aquarium. With their skinny, striped bodies, they look great in any home aquarium.

Like mollies and platties, zebra danios don’t have specific tank needs and adapt well to a variety of tank conditions. Their ideal temperature is anywhere between 64-77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a big range for fish! (*)

Zebra danios also need at least 10 gallons of water to swim in and typically eat a combination of meat and vegetables. If taken care of properly, they live anywhere between 3-5 years. 

7. Swordtails

  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus hellerii
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 5.5 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, social

Swordtails are often considered a hidden gem in the home aquarium industry as not many people talk about them! They’re lovely little fish with a long, pointed tail – like a sword. Duh.

Swordtail fish are extremely easygoing and can be either alone or placed with other types of fish. We recommend at least a 15-gallon tank, though their temperature can be anywhere between 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit!

Because of their long tails, swordtails can reach up to 6.5 inches in length once they reach adulthood, and can live between 3-5 years when cared for well. 

8. Barbs

  • Scientific Name: Barbus sp.
  • Origin: Europe, Africa, Asia
  • Size: 1.5 – 14 inches, depending on specific species!
  • Temperament: active, peaceful

Barbs seem to have taken Dory literally in Finding Nemo when she said, “Just keep swimming!”

These adorable striped fish are known as lively little creatures, often swimming in their tank with their friends. Barbs do best in schools of 6-10 fish and need lots of space to swim with them!

Because they’re more energetic than other fish, you’ll also need a lid to keep them from jumping out. You don’t want to come home to find your barb on the floor! (*)

Depending on the type of barb, we recommend at least a 20-gallon tank and a neutral pH. If cared for well, barbs can live between 5-15 years, depending on the exact species!

9. Angelfish

  • Scientific Name: Pterophyllum sp.
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, sometimes aggressive

Angelfish are easy saltwater fish to care for! Though they have some more requirements due to their saltwater environment, they generally are hardy and do well in home aquariums.

One thing to note about angelfish is they don’t like roommates. Angelfish can get territorial and aggressive fast, so you need a large tank and should stick to only one species of angelfish in a tank. 

You can put angelfish with other types of fish, but you must do it carefully. The angelfish should be the last fish added to prevent it from becoming territorial!

Sharing is caring, angelfish. 

We recommend a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for small angelfish with no other tank mates, and 50 gallons for medium angelfish or angelfish with tank mates.

You don’t want to come home to a turf war between your fish because the tank is too small!

10. Convict Cichlids

  • Scientific Name: Amatitlania nigrofasciata
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 4 – 5 inches
  • Temperament: generally aggressive

Black convict cichlids are one of the best fish for beginner fishkeepers! 

These fish are one of the largest species on this list, making them a good choice for those looking for a few larger species rather than many smaller species.

Convict cichlids have a white body with black stripes (giving them the nickname “zebra cichlid”), can reach up to 6 inches in length, and can live over 8 years. 

It’s important to note that convict cichlids aren’t exactly friendly with other fish. They can be quite aggressive and don’t make good tank mates, so they need to be kept to themselves. 

We recommend a 40-50 gallon tank for your cichlids so they have plenty of space to claim and swim in. The larger the tank, the less likely you are to have any fights between your fish!

11. Cory Catfish

  • Scientific Name: Corydoras sp. 
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 1 – 4 inches
  • Temperament: calm, peaceful

Cory catfish are a great fish for even the most inexperienced of home aquarists. They come from a huge family – there are over 150 species of cory catfish in the world!

This fish is different from others on the list because it is a bottom feeder. This means your care requirements will be slightly different in some aspects, but it is still an easy fish to care for.

Cory catfish are not very large, so we recommend a tank of at least 20 gallons to care for them. If you have other fish in a community tank, you’ll need more than 20 gallons. 

Soft sand is recommended for this species because they spend their lives at the lowest level of the tank, seeking yummy snacks along the bottom. Aquarium gravel could scratch their soft tummies!

You should also be sure to get them weighted pellets to eat, as they’ll eat at the bottom and won’t come up to the top of the tank to feed like other fish. After all, you wouldn’t want your dinner served to you at the top of a tree, would you?

If taken care of well, cory catfish can live over 20 years in captivity! Talk about a longtime friend.

12. Plecos

  • Scientific Name: Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 1.5 – 20 inches, depending on type
  • Temperament: calm, peaceful

Our final fish on this list, plecos, are another type of catfish. There are many species of plecos as well, so you’ll be sure to find one that you like. (*)

Most plecos make excellent fish for first-time home aquarium enthusiasts. They get along with most small aquarium fish and often spend their time attached by the mouth on the glass or other rocks, sucking away.

Gross for us, but good for them!

Plecos need at least a 20-gallon tank, and can live for 15-20 years if cared for properly! They prefer to eat algae and other plant materials.

Learn more: Rubber Lip Pleco: Everything You Must Know!

7 Tips That Every Beginner Fishkeeper Should Know

Before we get into the best types of beginner fish, you should take into consideration some tips that every beginner fishkeeper should know. Consider the following:

1. The bigger the tank or aquarium the better. 

If you get a tank that’s too small, you run the risk of having your fish fight for territory and space. Your fish may also fight over shared resources like food or mates. 

Nobody likes to share their lady, even fish.

Too little space can lead to stress in your fish, which can lead to illness and even death.

When in doubt, always go with the bigger tank. The more space your fish have, the less likely they’ll be to fight over space. 

2. Think about where you place your tank. 

Though you maybe haven’t thought about it, where you place your tank matters. 

If you place your tank near a window, you could run the risk of sunlight harming your fish through UV rays or heat. If your water gets too hot, you could quite literally cook your poor fish. Yikes.

You’ll want to find a cool, dark place for your fish tank to go. If it’s in a room with a window, that’s fine, as long as it isn’t in direct light.

You also want to make sure your floor can hold the weight of a large tank. Consider the bottom floor if you have any doubts about the strength of the top floor!

3. Invest in a decent filter. 

Fish make lots of waste, all of which can hurt your fish. Remember, your fish’s tank is its home and its bathroom, which can cause issues if it isn’t cleaned properly.

Invest in a decent filter so you don’t have to worry about too much waste buildup. Too much waste buildup can result in your fish struggling to breathe through its lungs, which can lead to illness and even death. 

4. Add an air pump. 

Though your fish breathes water, they’ll also likely need an air pump. Air pumps add more oxygen to the water so your fish can breathe easily. 

Always make sure the air pump is gentle but effective. You should also check your breed of fish as some fish prefer still water and don’t do well with strong air pumps!

5. Fish may need heat and light. 

You may think getting a fish is as easy as tossing it in some water, but you’d be wrong. Raising fish is a lot of time, energy, and commitment.

Part of this includes your fish’s heat and light. Fish need specific water temperatures that may require you to get a heater.

Depending on your fish, you may also need a light to help them with their sleep cycle. Always research your specific species of fish to determine their specific needs. 

6. Add some gravel to the tank.

You should add some gravel to your tank. And no, it’s not just to make it look pretty.

Adding gravel to your tank gives your fish a place to burrow and hide as well as enrichment when they look for food. Plus, some gravel can help affect your water chemistry to kill two birds with one stone. 

7. Include some plants and greenery. 

Finally, you’ll need to put some plants and other greenery in your tank. It looks pretty like the gravel, but also has a second purpose.

Plants are great hiding places for your fish. Your fish may sleep in them and rub against them for comfort. 

Plus, any sucker fish you have will suck algae off of them, protecting the plant and feeding your fish at the same time!

FAQ

Can I house freshwater fish and saltwater fish together?

No, you cannot house freshwater and saltwater fish together. Freshwater and saltwater fish have incredibly different housing requirements from one another. (*)

Mainly, saltwater fish need, you guessed it, salt water. Freshwater fish that are left in saltwater will die quickly, as they won’t be able to “breathe” through their gills with so much salt around them. 

These fish types are simply too different anatomically to ever live together. 

Can I have more than one betta fish in a tank?

Believe it or not, yes, you can actually keep more than one betta in your aquarium! 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that more than one male cannot be housed together. Males can get territorial quickly, so they won’t get along at all. 

Luckily, you can keep multiple female bettas in the same tank! Fun fact: aquariums with multiple female bettas are called “sorority tanks.” Cute!

Keep in mind that setting up a betta sorority tank isn’t simply just putting a bunch of female fish together. You have to follow specific guidelines to make sure the girls warm up to each other and don’t fight. Consider this guide to help you. 

What’s the coolest-looking aquarium fish?

Like they always say, there’s more fish in the sea. How cool a fish looks ultimately depends on your preferences!

If you’re interested in a bright, multicolored fish, species such as the checkerboard discus or the betta may be up your alley. For those that prefer a darker, sleeker fish, the black ocellaris clownfish or the black moor goldfish may be a good choice. 

Conclusion

Each of the fish in this guide is beautiful, fun, and entertaining in its own unique way. Whether you’re new to keeping fish or a fishkeeping expert, you’ll love keeping these hardy, easy-to-care-for fish in your home aquarium. 

Remember, if you are new to keeping fish, these fish are the best beginner breeds while you get your feet wet (sometimes literally) learning to care for your fish.

The more prepared you are to care for your fish, even if they have simple care requirements, the happier and healthier your fish will be!

Let us know in the comments below which fish is your favorite and tell us why.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the fish in this guide!

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