6 Popular Types of Freshwater Aquarium Fish

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of varieties of freshwater aquarium fish fit for your aquarium. Each one has its own individual appeal and unique attractive qualities. They come in all shapes and sizes and in all color combinations you can think of. Deciding which ones to keep is tough.

Putting aside your attraction, choosing your fish for your aquarium also needs some very prudent judgment. Can they get along in the same fish tank or would there be problems and you need to separate them? Peace in a fish tank often depends on size so if the fish are the same basic size, there is harmony more often – they have to be around the same size. (The smaller ones sometimes become food for the others.)

Are your fish types balanced? If you have some top and middle-dwelling water citizens, you may adopt some bottom-dwelling inhabitants as well. Every part of the aquarium would then be explored by your little friends


Basically, there are two kinds of freshwater aquarium fish – the livebearers and the egg-layers. The livebearers give birth to a fully-formed young fish. Guppies, platies, mollies and others are good examples of live bearing fish.

The egg-layers are self-explanatory. Their young are hatched from the eggs laid by the parents. The goldfish, angelfish and the neon tetras belong to this group.

The following are just a few of the fish varieties popular with fish lovers around the world. Each one has its own characteristic that endears them to fish owners.


The goldfish (Carassius auratus, a subspecies of the carp) is among the most beautiful freshwater fishes in the world. Their beauty, their color, their characteristics and their unique charms (based on the variety of breed) make them the most in-demand among all the other ornamental fishes.

Among the exotic varieties to choose from are the lionhead, oranda, pearlscale, and the ranchu. Of course, the more common ones like the fantail, the veiltail and the black moor are still some of the best-looking pet goldfishes you can find.

If you go for the fancy types, you can check the celestial (telescope eyes), bubble eyes (see it to believe it), the pom-pom (it sports a pompom) and some others.


These South American beauties (from the rivers of the Amazon, the Orinoco and Essequibo) are the unusually-shaped variety among cichlids. They have round, laterally-pressed bodies, and elongated dorsal and anal fins which makes their swimming movements mesmerizing to some people.

They love to hide among the roots and plants around their habitat. (They are actually ambush predators who hunt smaller fishes and water invertebrates.) Their striped coloration gives them added camouflage.

They are usually into a monogamous relationship and they are highly-developed when it comes to caring for their young.

Neon Tetra

Neon tetras move about in groups and that makes them fascinating to watch. They sport a green opalescent body color which usually glows (like the familiar neon lights) if the aquarium is lighted the right way. Because they are so small compared to other regular aquarium fishes, they can only be kept with other non-aggressive fish groups, preferably around their size, too. (They are usually eaten by the bigger fish.)

Kept in a species tank (and not within a community of other fish species), Neon tetras breed very well.


Pet shop owners usually recommend beginning freshwater aquarium hobbyists to start off taking care of guppies first. This fish group is very hardy and can tolerate some harsh water conditions (water changes, sudden temperature variations, etc.)

The male guppies are fancier-looking and more colorful than their female counterparts. Guppies breed well enough and may cause some overcrowding if you’re not alert enough.


Like the guppies, swordtails are also easy to care. With a maximum length of 4 inches they tend to look like a bright red sword because of their tailfin that looks like an elongated sword and so they are properly named.

Swordtail males might get aggressive towards each other. This usually happens during breeding season when they compete for the female’s attention.

They breed fairly easily, but the female must be removed after the young are around. (They are not fuzzy eaters and are known to eat even young swordtails.You should almost never mix big fish with small fish as the big fish might desire them.


A close relative to the swordtail, platies come in many colors and can breed just as easily, as long as they have plants to hide for privacy. They are broad-bodied and they are a schooling fish (meaning they go in groups and are seldom alone.)

This schooling fish is a natural in community aquariums. These fish often will also eat the flakes and food that is provided for other fish and often that includes live foods.

Personal Choices

With the current number of fish species, it is impossible to describe all of them. You may learn to know some of their characteristics from books and the Internet, but a visit to your favorite pet shop can help you pick out your choices.

However, it is good to keep in mind that aside from their differences in beauty, charms and temperament, your fish must also fit your own needs and that of your aquarium. Will they live together well? Can you keep up with the maintenance of each variety?

All things considered, keeping freshwater aquarium fish can give you hours and hours of pleasure just by their presence – their beauty, the way they move about, their individual temperaments and the many other cute little things you will later discover.

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