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  • Writer's pictureAmy S.

Beginner Fish for Your First Aquarium

Starting a freshwater aquarium can be intimidating, especially when it comes to choosing which fish can live together in harmony. Check out this list of easy-to-care-for starter fish to build your aquarium family.



red wagtail platy swimming through an aquarium with a green and pink background
red wagtail platy @The Spruce Pets

Platies come in a wide variety and present with different colors, markings, and sizes. The red wagtail platy pictured here is a very harmonious tank dweller, as are the salt and pepper, tuxedo, and "Mickey Mouse" platies. They don't get bigger than 3 inches so these are best for smaller tanks and can add an easy spark of color to your tank. Origin: Mexico and Central America Fish Size: 1-3 inches Tank Size: 10-20 gallons Temperature: 65-78 F Food: Freshwater flakes

Zebra Danio (Zebrafish)

skinny, blue and white striped zebra danio swims in an aquarium with a greenery in the background
zebra danio, @Fishkeeping World

Part of the minnow family, zebra danios, are one of the easiest aquarium fish to care for. These fast swimmers have torpedo-shaped bodies and can easily dodge their fellow aquarium mates. They can sport bright zebra stripes or more neutral colors. Origin: South Asia Fish Size: 1-3 inches Tank Size: 10-20 gallons Temperature: 65-78 F Food: Freshwater flakes

Harlequin Rasbora

triangular orange and black fish swims in an aquarium
harlequin rasbora @Fishkeeping World

Known for their orange and black triangle shape, these Harlequins are small but hearty additions to any aquarium. Their nimble fins keep them safe from larger fish predators and they can live solo or with a group of Harlequins. They are known throughout the fish community to be a breeze to care for at any skill level. Origin: South Asia Fish Size: 1-2 inches Tank Size: 10-20 gallons Temperature: 65-78 F Food: Freshwater flakes

African Dwarf Frog

small water frog swimming through a fish tank
African dwarf frog @Riverpark aquatics

Surprise! These little water frogs should only be kept with very docile fish, perfect for your new fish. Make sure to have a sealed top to your tank or these little guys can escape. They are fun to watch bounce throughout your tank and if you get close you'll see little claws at the ends of their feet! Origin: Africa Frog Size: .5-1.5 inches Tank Size: 5-15 gallons Temperature: 75-82 F Food: Freshwater sinking pellets

Good luck with your fish adventure!

Remember to visit a store (like Plymouth Pet & Aquarium) that can help inform your tank decisions to make sure your fish have a happy and healthy future. They're there to answer any questions you have about your tank setup, water, which fish can cohabitate, and how to eventually expand your fish community. See you at the pet store!

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