When you are a beginner aquarist, picking peaceful fish for your freshwater aquarium is quite a challenge. You don’t know suitable community fish species. You have no idea about the size of the tank. And you don’t really know about the maintenance requirements.
If you don’t want your aquarium to turn into battle royale ground, you need good community fish. Because of their friendly temperament, they go well with other tank inhabitants and pose no threat to the larger tank community.
10 Peaceful Fish Species for Beginners
An ideal fish for any beginner is peaceful and suitably sized for the tank. To avoid ending up with a too large or too small fish species, we have put together this list of the most peaceful freshwater fish species. We have also included some handy information about each species to make your choice easier.
1. Neon Tetra
- Average Size: 4cm
- Tank Requirements: At least 10 Gallons
Neon Tetra is one of the most peaceful fish for a freshwater aquarium. They are a very shy and shoaling fish species that require a community of at least half a dozen individual fish.
Contrary to popular belief, Neon Tetra isn’t just available in red and blue. It is also available in several excellent colorful varieties of white, black, pink, and other combinations of these colors.
However, Tetras come with a little consideration. You need to keep your tank environment very pristine. Avoid overstocking at all costs, and your tank should be at least 10 gallons.
Neon Tetras tend to lash out and nip at each other. That’s why in overcrowded aquariums, neons with chewed-up fins are a common sight.
- Average Size: 14cm
- Tank Requirements: 15 Gallons (mostly recommended)
Swordtail is one of the best freshwater community fish. It is known for its sublimely beautiful and eye-catching tail. It’s hardy, peaceful, and very easy to care for species that do excellent in almost any aquarium.
This makes it another excellent choice for beginners. Female Swordtails are slightly longer with sleeker bodies than the male fish. On the other hand, Male swords have an elongated tail, making them easy to identify.
Swordtail, generally, has a very peaceful temperament. They go well with almost any other fish species. However, the male swords are very romantic. Therefore, if you are keeping multiple male swords in your tank, make sure there are at least two or three female fish to spread the affection and reduce stress on a single female sword.
3. Honey Gourami
- Average Size: 2 inches
- Tank Requirements: 10 gallons
Honey Gourami is a very peaceful and shy species of freshwater fish. It remains very docile, playful and stays out of trouble. If another fish gets on its face, it will retreat to the nearest hiding spot. Large fish also spook them easily. They sport signature ventral fin on the top and work well in most environments.
Unlike the bluish color of standard gourami, it gives orange and yellow hues, providing a unique look to any aquarium you put it in. But most aquarists face one minor problem with this species.
The males start infighting with each other. Experts recommend a large tank (at least 10 gallons) to mitigate this aggressive behavior. Gouramis remain peaceful with other peaceful tank mates such as cyprinids, pethia, and puntius.
4. White Cloud Mountain Minnow
- Average Size: 4 cm
- Tank Requirements: 10 gallons
The white cloud mountain minnow is a nano-shoaling fish. Once, it was called the working man’s neon because of its similarities to neon tetras. It’s very peaceful by temperament, low maintenance, and a lot of fun to behold in a freshwater tank.
Covered in shimmering silver and green scales with very iridescent black and pink stripes, minnows create a fantastic display when swimming in a group.
It does best when kept in a group of at least five to eight minnows. A minnow will withdraw to a corner without a group and face health problems.
When kept in a large tank with other inhabitants, they require a large group to stay safe and healthy. But it can live comfortably in as small a tank as 5 gallons as long as it’s kept with other minnows only.
As for the living conditions, white cloud mountain minnows come from the mountains of China, so they thrive in cooler tanks or community ponds. That’s why minnows are not a good option for most tropical tanks.
- Average Size: 3 to 6 cm
- Tank Requirements: 10 Gallons (for a small group)
Guppies are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish because of their peaceful temperament, non-demanding nature, and excellent spectrum of colors. They are very fancy, active, and tiny fish. Their various versions come in fancy, vibrant colors that can brighten up even the dullest freshwater tanks.
Guppies are very curious and active. They zip around your aquarium like tiny maniacs on drugs. You will always have something to look at in your tank with guppies. While they don’t require to be kept in groups as much as Neon Tetras or Minnows, groups ensure a stress-free life. If possible, keep them in a group of at least three.
6. Pearl Gourami
- Average Size: 4 to 5 inches
- Tank Requirements: 30 gallons
The Pearl Gourami is a freshwater labyrinth fish from the Osphoronemidae family. This unique fish is easily available at the fish shop and easy to come by, though it can be slightly expensive than most freshwater fish. Pearl gourami isn’t just a beautiful addition to any community tank but also a very hardy and easy to keep fish.
Like some other labyrinth fish, don’t get surprised when you hear your pet talking. They can vocalize, especially when breeding or fighting (rare).
Because of their peaceful temperament, they get along well with a wide range of other fish species and enjoy each other’s company. However, you should keep a suitable tank size and proper male-to-female ratio in mind.
- Average Size: 6.5 cm
- Tank Requirements: 15 gallons
Common Hatchetfish (not the Silver ones) are also very peace-loving tropical fish. They are native to the rivers of South and Central America. With their unique half-moon shape resembling a hatchet, Hatchetfish can be a very fun addition to any tropical aquarium. To get the most out of your pet, keep them in small schools of 6.
However, they can be a little picky about their surface environment. Please make sure the water movement is negligible, although they will usually find a quiet spot in the corner. They also tend to jump. When startled, the entire group may leap out of the water at once. Hence, you should always ensure the tank is covered with a lid.
8. Zebra Danio
- Average Size: 2 inches
- Tank Requirements: 10 Gallons
Zebra Danio is another friendly fish for tanks. It’s ideal for any beginner because of its easy-going and nature. They get their name from stripped bodies, making them outstanding to any tank. The blueish purple and silvery strips catch your eyes from a distance. Plus, these hardy little fellows can handle a variety of tank conditions.
Because of their playful nature, make sure there is plenty of space in the tank. They also like to have vegetation and plants around the perimeter. While they are not aggressive at all, their super active nature can stress out some other fish species.
What’s more, they are also notorious fin nippers. So, don’t keep them with flowy fin species. For their companionship, go for similar-sized active species.
9. Rubber Lip Pleco
- Average Size: 5 to 7 inches
- Tank Requirements: At least 25 gallons
The Rubber Lip Pleco is a native of Venezuela and Colombia. It’s a very hardy fish species that can adapt to a wide range of tank parameters without showing any significant health problems. The reason is, in their natural habitat, water conditions change on a regular basis. So, this fish species is used to changing conditions.
Plecos are very mellow, with a large tapered body and a flat belly. They often stick to aquarium’s hiding spots and barely move around. That’s why they make excellent companions for most other fish species. However, they can be very food aggressive. If you drop a single piece of food in the tank, Plecos will believe it is only for them.
10. Cory Catfish
- Average Size: 2 inches
- Tank Requirements: 20 gallons
Like the Zebra Danio, Cories are bottom-dwelling freshwater species. They are small, peaceful, and hardy scavengers. They are a staple in freshwater community fish tanks because of their peaceful nature and ability to clean up the tank. Most of the time, they are busy with their clean-up operation. Other times, you will find them resting under a plant or decoration.
Cory catfish come in a variety of patterns and colors. The more exotic a variety is, the more expensive it will get. According to an estimate, there are over 170 different cory catfish species. Moreover, they are very easy maintenance. They are also very forgiving of tank conditions, making them excellent for beginner fish keepers and hobbyists.
So, these were some of the most peaceful freshwater fish species. We hope this knowledge will help you select suitable community aquarium fish types for your aquarium. Remember, you shouldn’t always need to rely on the labels when it comes to fish species.
Often, some fish labeled as “community fish” show aggressive behavior under certain circumstances. Similarly, some fish that get labeled semi-aggressive do just fine in a community tank (if the conditions are right). Therefore, do proper research about what to expect from each species and how they behave in your particular case.