Good First Freshwater Fish

It is hard to define what is classed as a good first freshwater fish; I think this is different for every new fish keeper, based on their likes, dislike, available space, budget and their tap water characteristics. There would be no point in telling you buy a fish which you thought was ugly and that you had no interest in keeping that would be silly.

So what I will do is go through a list of fish which are very popular with new fish keepers and I’ll tell you why there are so popular, plus a things to think about when considering them.

Zebra Danio

Zebra Danios were some of the first fish I ever kept and they were the first fish I ever bred. This fish is super popular for a number of reasons

  1. They are cheap to buy, last time I looked they were around £1 each.
  2. They are hardy little fish, which means they will cope better than most sensitive fish when you make mistakes
  3. They are fairly small
  4. Active, fast swimmers
  5. They actually shoal, meaning they follow each other round the tank
  6. They are peaceful
  7. They breed really easily

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami is very popular aquarium fish for both beginners and experienced fish keepers.

  1. They are classed as Anabantoids and Anabantoids have adapted to live in less than perfect water conditions in the wild, such as stagnant water. This makes them a little bit hardier than other fish and are more likely to be able to cope with the conditions in a beginners tank.
  2. They are very beautiful fish, which will brighten up any aquarium.
  3. They are peaceful and non aggressive
  4. They only grow to 3 inches and can live in a tank of 60 litres.

There are a few downsides to this fish

  1. The males are aggressive to each other
  2. They can be shy
  3. They don’t like fast moving water


Guppies can be found in pretty most every aquatic shop, they are one of world’s most popular tropical fish and its easy to see why;

  1. Available in wide range of colours and tails shapes
  2. Cheap to buy
  3. Very colourful
  4. Very active fish
  5. Non aggressive and peaceful
  6. Small size
  7. An easy introduction to the world of breeding fish.

I think they a great little fish, I currently have some in my own aquarium. 
However there are things which make me doubt these are good beginner fish.

  1. They can be weak and sensitive to any changes to water conditions
  2. With their long tails they are an easy target for fin nippers
  3. If you keep males and females together, you need to keep three males to every female.
  4. They breed too easily. New fish keepers are often unprepared to deal with fry (baby fish). If the fry are left in the community tank they nearly always get eaten by other fish, including their parent. This can be very traumatic for a new fish keeper.

Readers' Suggestions

Do have an idea for another good first freshwater fish? If so, I would love to hear from you, please complete the form below.

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Swordtails are fun fish to have. They breed fairly easily and they tolerate a lot of water conditions and temperatures. They do need a lot of room to swim …

Tetra Fish Not rated yet
Any fish from the Tetra fish family, are all good starter fish. The list begins with Black Tetra, Silver colored fish with black fins and a somewhat striped …

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