Freshwater fish are often regarded as being dull and virtually colorless. This is, however, very far from the truth as freshwater fish can be just as eye-catching and colorful as their salty water counterparts. Below are some colorful varieties that you could consider adding to your freshwater tank.

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Most Colorful Freshwater Fish Perfect For Aquariums

1.Neon Tetra

Tracing their origins back in South America, the neon tetra is part of the Characidae family. This tiny freshwater fish is popular for its striking colors and lively character. They are, in fact, a popular fish choice for most hobbyists. These fish are easy to look after and are often frequently recommended to beginners. 

Neon tetras are peaceful community fish and it is best to keep them in a tiny school of about 5 members. They grow to about one and a half inches in length and have a lifespan of 10 years. Being omnivores, they feed on almost anything from plants to worms, insects, brine, and shrimp.

2.Bettas 

A common choice for most beginners, this brightly colored fish species is very easy to care for. They are completely stress-free in terms of maintenance and their tank does not necessarily have to include any heaters or filters. 

Bettas are a peaceful species and this means that they can be kept with other similar tank mates without any worries.  The males are, however, quite notorious fighters and so only one male Betta should be housed in a single tank.

Their lifespan is normally 2 to 3 years, though some live longer than this. They grow to a maximum length of 3 inches and this makes it possible for them to be kept in small aquariums; they are relatively small in size.

They are omnivorous creatures and they require a diet with lots of fiber and protein foods such as daphnia, dried bloodworms, or brine shrimp.

3. Longfin Zebra Danio

The longfin zebra danio is part of the Cyprinidae family and it can live for up to 5 years. It exists in a variety of colors; yellow, white, purple, and blue and grows to a maximum length of about 3 inches. Originating from Eastern India, the Ganges region to be specific, the longfin zebra danio prefer living in planted aquariums with huge swimming areas.

These fish are quite peaceful and thus housing them with other calm fish in tiny schools would suit them well. The males have a more torpedo body shape in comparison to the females that have larger bellies. Being omnivores, they feed on basically anything from frozen foods to high-quality flakes.

4. Killifish

Killifish are one of the most beautifully patterned and brightly colored freshwater aquarium fish you will ever come across. They are brightly colored fish with a lifespan that varies from three months to an incredible five years.

They are incredible swimmers thanks to their slender and pike shape. They also have bigger anal and dorsal fins, which play huge roles in their great swimming abilities. And like most other freshwater aquarium fish species, killifish are good community fish and they peacefully co-exist with other fish such as the runny nose and neon tetras.

There are numerous killifish species, which all have different care levels; some are easy to look after whereas others are very difficult to care for. Killifish can grow to about 3 cm in length when housed in an aquarium with a minimum capacity of 20 gallons. They prefer simple tank set-ups; bare floors, minimal lighting, and sponge filters. The water temperatures should vary from 72 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

5.Cherry barb

Cherry barb

These fish are native to Sri Lanka and they prefer living in shadowed zones surrounding small rivers and streams. They are tiny fishes that can grow to about 2 inches in length and have a lifespan of roughly 4 to 5 years. They thrive in waters with pH varying from 6 to 8 and temperatures of about 25 degrees centigrade. 

Cherry barbs are popular for their striking colors. Female cherry barbs are either brown-red or yellow-grey in color, whereas their male counterparts have a reddish, brown-red, and brown-green color combination. 

Cherry barbs enjoy swimming in the bottom and middle water layers. They are a peaceful species with a calm temperament. Their males fight one another by simply dancing right in front of their opponents. 

Their diet is quite simple since these water creatures are omnivores by nature. This means that they can feed on virtually anything. You should, however, note that tiny cherry barbs are often preyed on by larger predator fish and so should be housed with fellow community fish species like bettas, harlequin rasboras, and catfish.

6.Guppies

Guppies

Guppies are a freshwater aquarium fish species and are widely spread all over the world. They are among the most popular freshwater species of fish for aquariums and their striking colors make them beautiful additions. 

These fish are active, reproduce easily and their diet is not that demanding. Their bodies are elongated with flattened sides that are 1.2 to 2.4 inches long in females, and 0.6 to 1.4 inches long in males. They have a lifespan of around 2 years but can live for up to 3 years depending on the conditions of your tank.

Guppies are not picky eaters and will consume almost anything that is fed to them, for instance, pellets, flakes, and even artificial foods. They are friendly tank mates, but you need to be careful with them as they prey on juveniles. Their preferred water temperature varies from 50 to 84 Fahrenheit and should always remain consistent.

7.Discus Fish

Often referred to as kings of freshwater tanks, discus fish are quite huge and social fish. They can grow to about 8 to 10 inches and for that reason, do well in tanks with a capacity of not less than 25 gallons. 

The most interesting and exciting thing about these fish is how they interact with humans. They observe your movements and are known to display their personalities and moods when playing with humans. 

They are those who claim that discus fish are not for beginners, which is partly correct. However, once you familiarize yourself with habitat conditions and behavior, they will make quite a good addition to your tank. Do not forget they are also very beautiful to look at.

When kept in an aquarium, they should be fed on a high-protein diet that comprises of things such as blackworms, bloodworms, beef heart, flakes, pellets. And when properly looked after, they can live for more than 10 years. 

8. Goldfish

Goldfish are a great freshwater choice for both new as well as experienced aquarium hobbyists. They can grow to a maximum length of 18 inches and do well in aquariums that have a capacity of 40 gallons or more. The aquarium should also be maintained at temperatures of about 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

These fish are popular for their stunning looks; they have this gorgeous shiny blue or silver combination color on their skin. They are an aggressive species and even tend to injure one another when it is breeding time. They can, however, be housed with guppies, discus, and tetras.

Goldfish make great water pets for travelers as they only required to be fed after about two weeks. They enjoy eating aquatic plants, crustaceans, larvae, insects, and any other tiny insects.  You can even feed them on crackers, bread, potatoes, rice, oranges, carrots, and even zucchini. Just ensure that you do not overfeed your fish. Also, make sure that you conduct regular water changes to keep your tank environment clean and healthy.

9. German Blue Ram

This particular fish stands out from other freshwater aquarium species for the luminous blue dots that beautifully cover its yellow-orange body. It also has a uniquely spiked dorsal fin that adds to its beauty even further.

The German blue ram is a low maintenance fish. It only requires a freshwater tank with plenty of caves or hiding spots, which are particularly important for breeding; this is where they lay their eggs.

Because of their peaceful and social nature, rams can be kept with other fish without any troubles. They can either be kept in pairs, as individuals or in tiny schools; the choice is yours. 

10. Endler’s Livebearer

A popular choice for most Endler lovers, this particular species is often difficult to get in most aquarium supply stores or pet shops. They are a very peaceful fish species and are capable of easily adapting to any environment. 

These fish are usually quite colorful, exhibiting striking neon patterns which include orange, blue, yellow, and green. Some individuals even say that they resemble wild guppies.

11. Oscar fish

This is a tropical freshwater aquarium fish species that belongs to the cichlid family. The Oscar fish is relatively huge in size, about 35 cm long, and so should be kept in a tank with a capacity of at least 30 gallons. 

The water should be clean and fresh with temperatures of between 74 to 81 degrees centigrade. This is important in preventing several diseases as well as strengthening the immune system of the fish. They prefer living in an aquarium with rock ridges, and because of their digging habit, live plants don’t really last in their tanks.

Originating from South America, the Oscar fish is quite peaceful and interacts well with other fish. They are a beauty to behold and have a lifespan of about 10 years.

They enjoy consuming live foods but the young ones should be fed on flakes. Note that the Oscar fish should not be housed with smaller fish as they will only prey on them. 

12. Jack Dempsey 

This is a favorite amongst many aquarists primarily because of its stunning looks and striking mannerism. This member of the cichlid family has a lifespan of 5 to 7 years and it can grow to an incredible 8 inches. 

The Jack Dempsey is quite an aggressive as well as territorial fish and it has pronounced facial features that can be likened to that of Jack Dempsey, a popular 1920s boxer. It is among one of the most vicious fish that one can house in their aquarium. It is thus advisable to build several hiding places or keep a clay pot, or even a cave-like structure by its side (it likes this) and this also works really well when housed with other fish.

This enthusiastic eater enjoys easting vegetables, flakes, as well as a variety of live foods such as worms, other fish, crustaceans, and insects.

13. Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami

This is a stunning freshwater aquarium pet with white dots all over its body and very delicate fins. They are generally peaceful and require just a bit of care. They can grow to up to 5 inches in length and have a lifespan of five years. They should be kept in densely planted aquariums with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons.

The bodies these fish are covered with white spots that resemble pearls, which give them quite a unique appearance.  They are accustomed to living in gentle-flowing waters and they do well in tanks with temperatures ranging from 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

They are peaceful fish and often good tank mates to other fish. Being omnivorous, they feed on algae, live larvae, eggs, and tiny insects.

14. Corydoras Catfish

Commonly referred to as coy cats, Corydoras are perfect for beginner aquarists. They come in different colors and sizes. These freshwater fish are common inhabitants in almost all community tanks.  And even though they are lively bottom dwellers, cory cats are a peaceful and calm species. They are also very easy to look after.

Their size varies from 1 to 1.25 inches in length and they have a lifespan of about 5 years. However, depending on your tank’s conditions, these fish can live even longer. These fish do well in small groups of two or three and can peacefully co-exist with tank mates of similar temperament. 

Cory cats have a tendency of digging the bottom of the tank in search of food remains, which is usually not enough to fulfill their dietary needs. With that in mind, you can supplement their diet with pellets and fish flakes. 

15. Rainbow fish

rainbow fish

This fish species is native to Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. They do well in swamps, rivers, and lakes and thrive in fish tanks whose water temperatures are maintained between 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. And in case the temperatures drop below 74 degrees Fahrenheit you will be forced to use an Aqueon aquarium to increase the temperature.

Male rainbow fish are more brightly colored and they compete for females during the breeding season. Breeding of these fish is, however, a difficult job.

These fish are peaceful and quite active and can be housed with larger tetras, catfish danios, rasboras, as well as any other non-aggressive fish. They feed on betta treat, spirulina flakes, aqua tropical flakes, and color flakes. Feeding time should only last for two minutes and practicing food rotation is advisable.

16. Harlequin rasbora

These tiny, gorgeous will make a suitable tank mate for almost any freshwater aquarium fish species. Harlequin rasboras are popular among most hobbyists for their tiny size, calm temperament, and most important of all, they are very easy to look after.

These fish are distinguished by the black dot on their brightly colored bodies. They can grow to a maximum length of about 2 inches and have a lifespan of 3 to 4 years.  

Harlequin rasboras enjoy swimming and so should be kept in tanks with a lot of space. They are a very peaceful species and can be kept with other fish such as bettas, gouramis, and tetras provided they are not huge or vicious predators.

They can eat basically any kind of food apart from large grains that are difficult to swallow. These fish often stay together in a school, and large schools look gorgeous thus making the aquarium bright and vibrant with their elegant movements.

17. Platies

Platies

These tiny but active species are effortless to care for and come in a variety of colors. They are among the most colorful species of fish you can ever come across. They are also quite peaceful and co-exist well with other tank mates when housed together. They are mostly kept with guppies, mollies, and swordtails. 

Platies have a lifespan of about 3 to 4 years and they grow to about 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length. The female platies are normally bigger than the males. Being omnivorous creatures, they feed on both meat and vegetables; they enjoy a good mix of proteins and plants.

18. Swordtails

If you are looking for a hardy freshwater fish to add in your tank then look no further than swordtails. They have somewhat larger bodies that almost resemble the shape of guppies or platies, with sword-shaped extended fins. 

Swordtails are quite huge, about 4 to 5 inches in length and have a lifespan of approximately 5 years. These fish come in a wide range of colors and are naturally peaceful. They are, however, quite lively and enjoy swimming in small groups.

Note that not all swordtails are peaceful; some are aggressive whereas some are shy. Their temperament depends on the specific swordtail species.  And when it comes to their diet, their food ought to be diversified, comprising of frozen, live, or artificial food. It is also advisable to supplement their food with vegetable supplements. 

19. Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

This is one of the most colorful freshwater aquarium fish. It comes in a variety of colors such as yellow, brown, and black just to mention a few, and they feature colored spots all over their bodies. And just as suggested by the name, Bristlenose Plecos normally have flat bodies with thin plates that look like tentacles upon maturity.

Bristlenose are a hardy species and thus a great option for beginners. These fish are peaceful and they get along well with fellow tank mates. The preferred water temperatures vary from 15 to 27 degrees centigrade and have a pH of 6 to 7.5.

They are omnivores and their diet should comprise 15 percent plant matter and 85 percent protein. That said, if you are in search of an effective algae eater, then consider getting this fish.

20. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

This is one of the best fish for beginners. They are very small in size, about 2.5 to 3 cm long, and are completely not demanding. 

These brightly colored fish are not really aggressive; they do not even attack their young ones. And when properly looked after, they can live for up to 3 years.

They prefer mid-water layers and enjoy swimming in schools. They like being in small schools with at least 6 individuals. Being predators, they love feeding on small insects, worms, crustaceans, as well as other kinds of zooplankton.

21. Kribensis

Kribensis are native to Africa and are capable of growing to a maximum length of 3 to 4 inches. These fish do well in tanks with a capacity of at least 20 gallons and a pH of about 6.4, and the preferred water temperatures vary from 75 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. They are a naturally peaceful species and can live for up to 5 years.

These colorful fish have color morphs such as blue, yellow, green, and red. Their females grow to about 3 inches whereas their males grow larger by about an inch. They are housed in community aquariums where they often nib on the fins of slow-swimming fish.

Like most other fish, they are omnivorous creatures and thus feed on all sorts of foods such as bloodworms, mosquito larvae, shrimp, flakes, and daphnia just to mention a few. And when it comes to breeding, they often require caves.

22. Electric Blue Hap

Electric Blue Hap

The male electric blue hap is such a beauty. The females are also beautiful but are not as brightly colored as their male counterparts. Their tank surroundings should resemble their natural habitat, with dense plants and huge rocks (do not add driftwood).

Blue haps are actually schooling fish that do well in groups of about 3 to 6 females and a single male. They can also be kept in pairs for breeding purposes. They are a part of the cichlid family and they grow to around 6 inches in length upon maturity. 

23. Plecostomus

Plecostomus

Plescotomus, aka plecos, are tropical fish that belong to the Loricariidae family. There are about 150 different varieties of plecos that range from aggressive to extremely peaceful varieties. The most common variety is the armored pleco that can grow to a length of 24 inches and can live for 10 to 15 years.

Beginners can, however, go for much smaller plecos, which can comfortably be accommodated in 10-gallon tanks. The body color of most plecos depends on their surrounding but the majority of them are brown in color.

24. Sailfin Molly

These beautiful fish trace their origin back to the central and southern parts of the United States. Mollies can do well in both fresh and saltwater tanks, based on the way they have been acclimatized. They prefer living in tanks that are well lit and have plenty of plants as well. The recommended water temperatures are 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to breeding, mollies are very easy to breed as they aren’t picky and will readily breed with any kind of molly. Even though there are several kinds of mollies, tiny finned mollies are the most popular variety kept in freshwater tanks. 

These fish are considered mid-level swimmers/ dwellers. That said, their tanks should be decorated with plants that allow them to hide. They love feeding on algae but can still be fed on boiled spinach, flakes, or any other fish food.

25. Kuhli Loach

These are among the rarest fish species and can be kept by anyone because they are very low-maintenance. Even though the kuhli loach resembles a tiny snake, they are not dangerous. They are rather very peaceful. They often hide during the day and become very active at night. This, however, changes when they are kept with other fish; they become really active during the day.

Being omnivorous fish, they eat all sorts of frozen and live foods such as pellets, brine shrimp, tubifex, daphnia, bloodworms, and granules. Others even obtain their food from the bottom of the aquarium, which makes them great tank cleaners. They can grow to a length of 5 inches and have a lifespan of about 10 years.

26. Angelfish

Angelfish

This is a freshwater fish that originated from South America. They are naturally carnivorous and need a high protein diet for their proper growth and overall wellbeing. Keeping that in mind, feeding them with pellets, flakes, daphnia, and shrimp can be beneficial to them. 

Angelfish are regarded as community fish and prefer being kept with fellow tropical fish. They should be housed in huge, clean tanks with a properly functioning filtration system.

Note that maintaining suitable water conditions reduces stress to these fish and keeps them happier and healthier.  The tank’s water temperatures should be about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the pH should be about 6.7.

Both male and female anglefish look alike; they are very difficult to tell apart. And when properly looked after, these fish can grow to about 6 inches in length. And when housed in larger aquariums, they can even grow bigger; 10 inches long.

27. Bolivian ram

These fish are best suited to planted aquariums and maintaining them is quite simple. They are calm, good-tempered, and very peaceful fish that are not only hardy but also do well in standard aquariums. You might find them to be a bit aggressive, but they are only more likely to scare away other fish than hurt or attack them.

The Bolivian ram is omnivorous and it can eat all sorts of frozen or live foods such as tubifex, daphnia, or bloodworms. They can also be fed on artificial foods. Their size varies from 2 to 5.4 inches and they have a lifespan of about 6 years. They are okay living either alone or as a group of 6 to 8 fish.  

28. Duboisi Cichlid

Duboisi Cichlid

This fish is among the several varieties of the cichlids; fish that are well-known for their high levels of activity as well as individual personalities. These particular fish undergo an incredible transformation in both pattern and color as they grow, making them a nice choice for any color-seekers. 

The young Duboisis are normally black in color and are covered in blue-white spots. As they get older, they lose these spots and acquire a yellowish band around the middle and a bluish head.

The Duboisi cichlid is naturally aggressive and has a strong social structure. And it is precisely because of these reasons that these fish are best housed in species-specific aquariums. They should be kept in schools of about 8 to 10 individuals.

29. Glo Fish

These gorgeous translucent fish are available in several neon colors such as blue, purple, green, orange, and red. They are genetically improved zebra danios and were initially bred to assist in detecting environmental pollutants. They are great water pets and a nice choice for both new and experienced hobbyists.

Glo fish are capable of growing to a length of 2 inches and have a lifespan of 2 to 4 years. They, however, at times live for up to 5 years. They can be housed with other danios, barbs, angelfish, tetras, as well as any other freshwater fish that are not big enough to consume them. 

They are calm and peaceful and do well in schools of at least 6 individuals. These fish enjoy eating insect larvae, worms, brine shrimp, and tiny crustaceans. 

30. Flowerhorn Cichlid

The flowerhorn cichlid stands out from other cichlid fish in a massive way. This fish has a huge mass on the forehead, which is normally present in both females and males. It has a bulky body with extreme color variations based on hybridization and breeding. Moreover, these fish undergo incredible color transformations until they are completely mature.

Flowerhorns tend to be aggressive and do not interact well with fellow tank mates. That said, it is advisable to house them in species-specific tanks to avoid stressing other fish. When housed alone, they are a really pleasant species with great beauty and good size.

Final thoughts

From the above, it is clear that colorful fish species are not just for saltwater tanks. As you can tell, there are lots of colorful freshwater fish available that you can easily get from your local fish stores or pet stores. Additionally, the majority of the fish on this list do not need any specialized care and do well in community tanks.