Top 15 Tropical Fish for Beginners

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

When starting your first aquarium, it can sometimes be confusing to know which fish you are able to put in your tank.

With so much choice, some beginners out there make the mistake of picking 20 or so different fish species which look very nice and colourful, but as soon as they are added to the tank, they fight each other or struggle to stay alive.

So, which fish should you pick out if you are just starting? What are the best beginner fish for your tropical freshwater aquarium? We can help.

The best tropical fish for beginner aquarists

Seeking the correct guidance in choosing your first tropical fish is key to success –  you need to be clued up on which fish you want to keep, before taking them home.

Not all fish have the same care requirements. They are found in all different parts of the world, have different life cycles, diets, water conditions and different social needs. This makes some species more difficult for beginners, as the fish can create different problems while early aquarists are still learning the basics of aquarium keeping.

In this list, we give some of the best recommendations for beginners. These fish are hardy, able to live comfortably in most aquariums, have adaptable diets and don’t get too large.

Here are our top 15 picks for some of the easiest tropical fish to get you started in aquarium keeping:


Guppies are an excellent fish to start off with.

They come in all different colours, are peaceful and easy to manage, eat all different types of fish foods, can live in smaller tanks, breed easily and are all around a great fish to keep for both beginners and experienced aquarists alike.


Much like Guppies, platies are another excellent fish to keep. They are highly versatile when it comes to tankmates and water conditions, meaning that they can fit into a variety of community aquariums and tank types.

They are another hardy fish with a range of stunning and colourful breeds to choose from.

They are another hardy fish with a range of stunning and colourful breeds to choose from.

Harlequin Rasbora

A great starter fish for anyone who wants something that schools and sticks together in groups. 

Harlequin Rasboras are tolerable of a wide range of water parameters and get along well with most tropical community fish. They are a model tank inhabitant for anyone who wants a simple to keep, peaceful tank mate with flashy colours to go in their community setup.

Bronze Corydoras

Cory Cats are possibly the best beginner Catfish available in the hobby – they are peaceful, always active and interesting, tolerate a wide range of water parameters and are easy to feed.

Cories are great for someone who needs a fish to inhabit the bottom half of their tank.

Cherry Barbs

A fish for those smaller planted aquariums, Cherry Barbs have a striking red colour that once settled in, will contrast greatly against the green plants and foliage in your tank.

They stay small, are peaceful and are very adaptable to change, making them ideal for beginners.

Blue Emperor Tetra

Emperor Tetras are a highly entertaining fish to keep in large groups. They are very active and add a great deal of movement to the tank. 

They are fun to watch and are very rewarding to keep, especially if you are a beginner looking for a more boisterous and charismatic fish.

Black Phantom Tetra

Another Tetra species ideal for beginners, Black Phantoms add a different shape to the tank as they are tall bodied with very bold colours and a stunning fin arrangement.

Black Phantoms are very fun to keep in large schools as they like to stick close together. They make great community fish and are very forgiving of beginner mistakes.


Possibly the best beginner Cichlid out there, Kribs are full of character and show extremely interesting behaviours. They are a relatively peaceful Cichlid and do great in communities or species-only tanks.

Kribensis are also very fun and easy to breed. They are great for teaching the process and life cycle fish go through, from eggs to fry to juvenile to adult.

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami provide a stand out centrepiece fish for any peaceful community. They stay near the top of the water and look amazing in a planted tank once they mature.

Gourami are fairly easy to care for, and make excellent beginner centrepiece fish.


One of the most commonly kept and beautiful freshwater fish out there – despite this, there is still plenty of misinformation surrounding Bettas.

However, they still make excellent starter fish for those willing to listen to the right advice, and who want to dedicate proper care for a showy and personable aquatic pet.

Glowlight Tetra

One of the easiest beginner fish out there, Glowlight Tetras may not look like much at first glance, but don’t pass up on this fish.

They are an excellent starter fish that are very fun to keep, and look amazing once settled in a tropical tank.

Golden Barb

For those who want a more boisterous tank with larger, more active fish, Golden Barbs make a great addition.

They are showy, active and can hold their own against some of the larger and more nippy fish out there.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose are the best Pleco for beginners for many reasons. They are one of the smallest Pleco species out there and do well in typical community settings, as well as more aggressive tanks.

Bristlenose are peaceful in nature, but can hold their own against aggressive fish. They can also help clean your aquarium glass and will spend all evening grazing on algae around the tank.

Daisy Ricefish

An often overlooked and underrated fish, Daisy Ricefish are superb for community tanks. They are peaceful, eat most fish foods and inhabit all regions of the tank.

When reaching maturity, the males are a bold dark blue with dazzling red stripes on their fins. They are fun to watch school around the tank and show very interesting behaviours, especially if you decide to breed them.

Checker Barb

One of the most peaceful and easiest species of Barb in the hobby, Checker Barbs do well in large groups, so they are a top choice for beginner display tanks. 

They do best in planted aquariums with other peaceful fish.