One of the safest pets that every owner can have is fish. Unlike furry pets, fishes are unlikely to trigger allergic reactions, and they don’t consume too much space at home. Aside from that, these colorful swimmers also double as a gorgeous décor for your home. If this is your first time setting up an aquarium or looking for new additions, we listed here 10 options for the coolest freshwater aquarium fish.
Each one of these fishes bears a unique beauty. They are colorful and come in different shapes and sizes. Each guest will surely marvel at your home whenever they see your new pets.
Here are 10 of our best picks if you’re looking for the coolest and most unique fish to care for as pets:
1. Red Tail Shark
A shark in your aquarium? Yes, you can now have a freshwater shark swimming in your small tank. Unlike typical sharks, the Red Tail Shark is smaller, but its color makes it stand out. Its body is charcoal black, but its forked tail is scarlet red.
This fish was first found in the Chao Phraya River in Thailand. Although it’s called a shark, it’s biologically a type of carp that can grow up to 6 inches for up to 6 years.
Young Red Tail Sharks are timid, but it will start to be aggressive as it grows older. It may attack other fish that will invade its territory. With this, each Red Tail Shark should be given at least 1 meter of tank length.
The Red Tail Shark is an omnivore, so its diet mainly consists of plants, small insect, and tiny crustaceans. You can also get a high-quality pellet for easy feeding.
2. Crowntail Betta
Betta fish is the coolest freshwater aquarium fish for beginners. It’s low-maintenance, not to mention that it has very aesthetic tails. We personally prefer the Crowntail betta as it comes with a large and flowy tail that varies in shape and color.
Their caudal fins make betta a very popular fish in the U.S. as a pet. It’s also called the Siamese fighting fish due to its behavior. Take note that this is very aggressive and may attack other types of fish if placed in the same tank.
Usually, Crowntail betta fishes grow up to three inches long and can live for up to three years under excellent conditions.
Unlike the Red Tail Shark, betta fishes are carnivores and require a high-protein diet. We recommend using at least a 10-gallon tank if you’re not mixing other fishes. Although tiny, betta fishes need enough space to swim through so their fins won’t bump into each other.
Are you looking for a unique fish to add to your tank? Try the Glassfish. Unlike other fishes we listed here, the Glassfish has a glassy, semi-transparent color. They are peaceful and calm tankmates that don’t mind living with other fishes.
However, Glassfish is a schooling species, so you need to keep them in groups. A large group is ideal as this fish gets timid in a small school. Also, you should keep this fish in a tank no smaller than 10 gallons.
Glassfish is also known as ‘X-ray fish’ because it’s translucent that you can see through its body. They are attractive choices for hobbyists and those who want a fish that will make others do a second look.
However, you should avoid Glassfish labeled as ‘disco fish’ or ‘dyed glassfish’. These fishes are injected with dye to look more appealing. The coloring process will stress the fish and likely kill it too.
4. Malawi Mbunas
The Malawi Mbunas fish is bigger than the previously listed swimmers. This one can grow up to 7 inches and can be aggressive toward other fish. Mbunas fishes have to compete for food in their natural habitat, which explains why they can be territorial in the tank.
If you are to get this fish, you must have a tank no smaller than 30 gallons. Also, you should know that this is a rock-dwelling fish. Your tank should have rocks and cave-like formations inside where the fish can hide and swim through.
Also, avoid getting similar-looking species as Mbunas may confuse it as same-species partners. When that happens, the fish will produce a hybrid that is usually aggressive in nature.
You should also avoid large and aggressive species that Mbunas may butt heads with. Some of these are Bumblebee cichlid, Golden Mbuna, Fuelleborn’s cichlid, and Powder Blue cichlid.
The good thing about Mbunas is they are hardy fishes that can live for as long as 10 years.
5. American Flagfish
Another colorful option that you can get for your aquarium is the American Flagfish. This is also called the Killifish with colored stripes that somehow resembles the American flag (thus, the name).
The American Flagfish is a small swimmer that only grows a maximum of 2.2 inches. It’s suitable for 10+-gallon tanks, though you need larger aquariums if you’re keeping it in large groups.
If you want to get a colorful bunch, look for males since they have more striking coloration. You can mix it with some females since it’s also attractive in its own way. Take note that you should get a large group if you’re purchasing more than one male American Flagfish.
When setting up the tank, avoid soft-leaved plants as the fish will eat it. Also, add more roots, driftwood, and a few rocks.
Moreover, the American Flagfish is omnivorous, so their diet is a combination of plants, insects, and small crustaceans.
6. Blue Dwarf Gourami
Do you have a small tank? If so, you should consider getting the Blue Dwarf Gourami. This fish has a powder blue color all over its body. It’s a cool option to add a unique touch to your tank.
Moreover, this fish grows at a maximum of 3.5 inches. Take note that male Blue Dwarf Gourami is aggressive and may attack surface-dwelling fishes. Still, you can add them in the tank, but avoid getting more than one male if your tank is smaller than 40 gallons and has a lot of plants.
Also, don’t fill your aquarium to the brim. It’s quite normal for the Blue Dwarf Gourami to breathe atmospheric oxygen from time to time. Aside from that, you should place your tank in a more secluded spot in the house because this fish gets stressed if there’s too much noise and foot traffic nearby.
If you don’t want the Blue Dwarf Gourami, you can also get this fish in an orange-red color.
Swordtails are called as such due to their caudal fin, which is usually as long as half of their body size. Usually, the fins have a black edge, and the rest has the same hue as the body of the Swordtail fish.
This is a low-maintenance, which is an excellent choice for beginners. Just make sure that you have at least a 20-gallon tank to keep this fish happy. Take note that Swordtails are very easy to breed at home since they give birth to fry and not lay eggs.
If you are to mix male and female Swordtails, the ideal proportion is 1 male to 4 females. This is to prevent the male fishes from over-harassing the female ones.
The Swordtail fish comes in different colors like blue, green, orange, and so on. They are usually paired with black spots and lines on their tails.
Moreover, Swordtail fishes are peaceful and social. They can live with other fishes that are equally passive and preferably of the same size. This fish can grow up to 5.5 inches.
8. Rainbow Fish
For those who want to accentuate their tanks with a range of colors, the Rainbow Fish is a good choice. This fish has iridescent scales that project rainbow-like colors, much so when struck by light. It’s the same reason why Rainbow Fishes are a joy to watch.
This fish requires a tank with lots of aquatic plants as well as a large space to swim. Also, since they are schooling fishes, you should keep at least 6 Rainbow Fishes together. If possible, get them in a shoal of 10 or more.
Rainbow Fish is a peaceful swimmer and an ideal choice for community tanks. If you want them to retain their aesthetic colors, keep them in a large school and feed them right. Also, their color gets better as they get older.
Take note that there are more than 50 species of Rainbow Fish, though the most common are Madagascar Rainbow Fish and Salmon Red Rainbow Fish.
9. Platinum Guppy
If you’re more of a hobbyist, we recommend that you get some Platinum Guppies. These small fishes are very low-maintenance and can thrive even without an air pump. Also, it’s very easy to breed since it gives birth to fry and not eggs.
Guppies are small fishes that only grow a maximum of two inches. With this, they are suitable for 10-gallon tanks.
Platinum Guppies look spectacular, especially with good lighting. You can also mix them with other colored guppies for a burst of hue in your aquarium.
Since guppies are small, we recommend getting at least 6, so it will look good on your tank. If you are to get colored ones, remember that male guppies tend to have better coloration. Just remember to get more females than males so the ladies won’t be over-harassed by males.
10. Checkerboard Discus
For those looking for a bolder choice, the Checkerboard Discus might be the coolest freshwater aquarium fish. It has bright colors and exotic patterns that will surely stand out in your tank.
This fish can grow as long as 9 inches, though they are usually 6 inches at most. The exotic beauty of the Checkerboard Discus makes them a great sight at the tank. Just take note that this fish loves living in groups, preferably 6 with more females than males.
This fish can be found in different colors like red, yellow, orange, hints of blue, and brown.
Also, this fish needs water at a higher temperature as well as frequent water changes. Though it’s a bit high-maintenance, the hassle is worth it. Still, we want to warn that this fish isn’t for beginners. You must research and prepare before you get a Checkerboard Discus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can clownfish live in a freshwater aquarium?
A: No, because clownfish is exclusively a saltwater being. However, if you’re looking for an equally beautiful and interesting fish to add to your aquarium, you can check the 10 options we listed above.
Q: Why are my fishes swimming at the surface?
A: It’s probably a sign that there’s a lack of oxygen underneath. They swim to the surface to breathe. Take note that you should act right away when your fishes start doing this. Prolonged surface breathing will cause extreme distress and may lead to the deaths of your fishes.
Q: Can fishes sleep at the top of the tank?
A: Weirdly so, yes. Fishes can sleep at any part of the aquarium at any day, though they usually doze at night.
Q: Can my pet fishes live without an air pump?
A: Air pumps are used to provide additional oxygen into the water by boosting surface agitation. Through this, oxygen is forced into the water. Some fishes can survive without this extra oxygen though many require this boost. If in doubt, we recommend setting up one nonetheless.
Q: What are the best fish pets for first-time owners?
A: Some of the low-maintenance fishes newbies can own are bettas, barbs, tetras, and guppies. These small fishes are easy to care for and require minimal maintenance. With proper feeding, these fishes can survive even if you don’t clean the tank too often.
The coolest freshwater aquarium fish will make your tank stand out at home. Just make sure that the fish you’re getting is suitable with your current tank, fish, and maintenance capabilities. Through this, the fish will live harmoniously and as long as possible. What do you think of these fishes? Which do you plan to get? Let us know!