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Top 5 Beginner Fish

Neon Tetras

The neon tetra is a small schooling fish with a lifespan of up to 8 years, that originated from the dark waters in small streams and river basins in Brazil, Columbia, and Peru. These fish are known for their bright coloration, small size, and typically peaceful behavior.

The bare minimum tank size for keeping neons is 10 gallons, but with these being a very active schooling fish, 15 gallons or larger is more suitable for them.

These fish prefer softer more acidic water with a pH of between 6 and 7 and have a wide temperature range of between 70°-81°.

Neon tetras do best in a more dimly lit environment and thrive in blackwater aquariums. A well planted aquarium with driftwood, floating plants, and a darker substrate is best if trying to mimic their natural environment.

As neon tetras are a schooling fish, you will want to keep a bare minimum of 5, but to keep them happier, and to see less potential aggression, larger schools of 15 plus is recommended.

Zebra Danios

Danios are known to be a peaceful schooling fish, so you will want to keep at least 5 of them in your aquarium. If they are kept in too small of a grouping, these fish can become stressed, and may show aggression towards other tank mates.

Danios are small mid to top dwelling fish that only get to be around 2 inches in size. They are considered to be an extremely hardy fish, and if well cared for can live as long as 5 years.

While these danios may be small in size, they tend to be extremely active swimmers, and will need a 10-gallon tank or larger.

They do well in a wide range of temperatures between 65°-77°F, and prefer soft to medium hard water, with a pH between 6.5-7.2.

Because they are extremely active swimmers, you will want to take this into consideration when setting up their tank. These fish will prefer diffused lighting with plants and décor to provide them with hiding places, along with a darker substrate and plenty of open space for them to swim.

White Cloud Minnows

Once referred to as the poor man’s neon, the white cloud minnow is a small, peaceful, hardy, cold water schooling fish.

While these fish are available in most aquarium stores, their wild population is rapidly dwindling, and there is hope that captive bred fish will one day help to replenish the population.

As these are a small schooling fish the bare minimum tank size for white clouds is 10 gallons for a small school, although some have had success keeping them in 5-gallon tanks by staying on top of aquarium maintenance.

White clouds are very hardy and can survive in a wide range of water parameters, though the optimum temperature range is between 64°-72°, while these fish can handle warmer temperatures for short periods of time, if kept in higher temperatures long term, it can shorten their lifespan. These also have a pH range of between 6-8 but tend to do best when the pH is kept between 6.5-7.5.

Betta fish (Betta Splendens)

Betta splendens is a great beginner fish that can fit in small spaces. They come in a wide variety of colors and fin sizes and can be very forgiving when it comes to water parameters.

When it comes to tank set up, these fish will do best in a minimum tank size of 2.5 gallons, having said that, bigger, is of course, always better. Smaller tanks also tend to require more frequent maintenance, so you will want to keep that in mind.

Now bettas are notorious jumpers, so you will want to have a tightly fitted lid for your aquarium. These fish are also very intelligent and do better when they have plenty of aquarium décor and or plants to prevent them from getting bored. And for a more natural environment, these fish will do very well in a heavily planted black water aquarium.

Now because bettas have delicate fins, you will want to avoid placing any items with sharp or rough edges in their aquarium, as these could damage or tear their fins.

Bettas are tropical fish and need to be kept in stable temperatures of between 78-80 degrees. They also do best in between neutral to slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.5-7.5, and they prefer slower moving waters.


Guppies are small tropical freshwater fish that are native to South America, and there are around 300 different varieties of guppies out there all with different colorations and tails

The guppy typically only gets to be between 1-2 inches in size, and they are usually considered a very peaceful addition to community tanks with similar sized fish. The only drawback to guppies is that they do tend to have a shorter lifespan of only around 2 years, although I have seen some live as long as 5.

Guppies technically can be kept in as small as a 5-gallon tank, but I would recommend keeping them in a 10-gallon or larger, as this allows for you to keep a small group of them. Guppies are considered a shoaling fish, so while they can live alone, they tend to do best in groups.

Since guppies originate from a warmer tropical environment, their tank should be kept between 75-82 degrees, so you may need a heater for them. They also prefer slightly harder water with a pH range between 6.8-7.8.

Since many guppies do have long flowing fins, you will want to keep your tank free of sharp objects that their fins may snag or get torn on.


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