What’s a good starter fish for an aquarium?

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    Dr. Sara Ochoa

    Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa is a veterinarian with many years of experience and higher education. During her time in veterinary school she was able to learn form some of the most well-known veterinarians from all over the world. Sara lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the schnoodle, and Bam-Bam her bunny. Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa has a passion and love for animals that makes her a wonderful asset to our team.

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  • Updated on: 17/04/2020

There are many things to consider when it comes to fish keeping.  You must decide if you want a freshwater fish or saltwater fish. Then, you can figure out what fish is best for a beginner to keep? It is best to research things like what kind of food does the fish eat, how big it will get, and even how well it will do if the aquarium is not always kept in tip-top shape.  Deciding which fish is the most suitable for you may seem a little tricky at first, but with a bit of research, finding that perfect fish is very possible. This article will help you figure out what are some of the heartier species of fish that are great for beginners.

starter fish for aquarium@pookpiik / Freepik

Which aquarium fish is best for beginners?

When you first get into the aquarium hobby, you will need to decide if you want to keep saltwater or freshwater fish.  Most new beginners will start with freshwater fish as these are easiest to keep since there is not as much maintenance that has to go into the water parameters, while some people will dive right into saltwater fish too.

BEST freshwater pet fish for beginners:
  • Guppies
  • Swordtails and Mollies
  • Goldfish
  • Glofish
  • Betta’s
  • Angelfish
  • Gourami’s
  • Kribensis Cichlid
  • Clown Loach
  • Neon Tetras
BEST saltwater pet fish for beginners:
  • Tangs
  • Goby
  • Dotty back
  • Chalk Bass
  • Clownfish
  • Coral Beauties
  • Damselfish
  • FireFish
  • Wrasses
  • Pajama Cardinalfish

What type of fish should I get for my aquarium?

This will all depend on your ultimate goal for your tank.  Some people want a lot of rocks, coral or plants in their tank and just a few fish.  Make sure that the fish you are getting will not just eat all your plants and coral. Some people want their fish to be very large.  Then it is best to stick with only one fish. If you want an aquarium full of fish, look for fish that like to school and do well with other fish.  For someone that is first starting out in the hobby should look at less aggressive fish such as Goldfish or guppies for your freshwater aquarium or yellow tang for saltwater fish.  

best starter fish for saltwater aquarium@humming3578 / Pixabay

What is the Most Low Maintenance Freshwater fish?

The most low maintenance fish is the Goldfish.  These fish are easy to keep and very hardy. Goldfish like their water on the colder side, and it is perfect for them at room temperature.  This helps you by not having to worry about regulating the temperature in the aquarium with heaters. These fish come in many different varieties and colors.  This makes them a great choice for people who want a pretty fish that is also low maintenance.

What is the Most Low Maintenance Saltwater Fish?

If you are looking into a saltwater system, the fish will be the easiest thing to care for.  The maintenance that you will have to do to keep the water parameters in check will be the biggest challenge.  Most of the beginner fish for saltwater will be low maintenance compared to keeping the water parameters correct. Saltwater fish such as dotty backs, tangs and wrasses are great first additions to your tank.

How many fish do you need to start an aquarium?

You can start an aquarium with just one fish.  Some fish do better in pairs, and some would rather be alone.  Most experts agree only to add 2 to 3 fish to your aquarium to start.  This helps you learn how to take care of these fish before taking on a large population.

The amount of fish that you can have in your aquarium will depend on the size of the aquarium.  It is best to add these fish over a few months. To start, add 1 inch of fish per 10 gallons but not more than a few fish.  After a few weeks of these fish getting used to their new tank mates, you can slowly add a few more fish. It is always advised to quarantine your new fish before adding them to your take to make sure that they are healthy and not spread diseases to your other fish.

Before you start to put fish in your tank, make a list of all the fish that you want and research their personalities.  Fish can be aggressive or will eat smaller fish in the tank. If you want an aggressive fish, make sure that this is the only fish in the tank, or the other fish will be able to defend themselves.  Some fish do better when they are with other fish, so they may need to be added after you have a few fish.  

What is a good starter fish for a freshwater aquarium?

fish for starter aquarium@zilvergolf / Freepik

Good starter fish for you to get for your freshwater aquarium is a goldfish.  Everyone can remember winning a Goldfish at some point in their life. These fish lived with little to no effort. Why? Because they are tough. Most people will first start off with a goldfish because they remember getting on as a kid. Goldfish can be found in almost every color imaginable. Some are solid gold, some are spotted, some are white, and some are even the color of a rainbow.   This variety in color has led to its great popularity. Goldfish are very hardy and are able to tolerate even some of the worst tank conditions. Goldfish are from the carp family, which can be found in very brackish water such as lakes and streams. They are usually good eaters, so having to deal with a picky or finicky fish is not a problem. Goldfish can grow to be quite large, so make sure that you take this into consideration when buying an aquarium.  Make sure the one that you buy is big enough to accommodate their adult size.

What is a good starter Fish for a Saltwater Aquarium?

Tangs would make a great choice for a beginner to get for a saltwater aquarium.  These fish are very hardy and come in many beautiful colors. They are known to not aggressive with other fish but have been known to fight among themselves.  These fish do need a tank at least 100 gallons.

If you are planning on a smaller saltwater tank, it may be best to look at a Damsel or dotty back fish as they only need to live in a 30-gallon tank.  Both of these can be a little aggressive, but as long as you give them plenty of places to hide, they will do just fine. These two fish come in many different colors and would add a great deal of color to your aquarium.

What kind of fish can survive in a bowl?

When many people think about fish, they first think of a fish in a bowl. There are many fish that can live in a bowl without any problems. This bowl usually does not have a filter like a traditional fish tank, so you may have to clean the bowl and little more often than a tank.  While a fishbowl may not be the best place to keep a fish because it can be very hard to keep the water clean without the filter to help remove waste from the water. Common fish that are seen in a fishbowl are:

  • Goldfish
  • Beta’s
  • Guppies
  • Danios
  • Minnows

Many of these fishbowls will have a plant in them.  These plants help keep the water parameters at an ideal level and provide a house for your fish.  A fishbowl is a great easy, and cheap way to get into the fish keeping hobby.

Saltwater fish cannot live in a bowl as there is a lot of different things that are needed to keep a thriving saltwater system that cannot be provided with a fishbowl.

Are guppies good beginner fish?

good starter fish for saltwater aquarium@marcelokato / Pixabay

Guppies are a great starter fish for freshwater aquariums for the new hobbyist. These fish are native to the tropical region of Northeastern South America but have been introduced all over the world. Guppies are naturally very adaptable and tolerant of changes in their environment better than most other species. These adaptive capabilities have enabled them to populate in almost every region of the world, even ones containing brackish water. So, if you forget to clean your tank regularly or do not have perfect water parameters, Guppies will typically do just fine. But keeping quality water parameters correct, routine cleanings and proper feedings all on schedule, are always recommended.

There are several options to choose from when picking out a new fish for your aquarium, and it depends on which fish you feel like it is the best fit for you. There are many different considerations to think about before getting a fish.  By doing your research on all the different kinds of fish possible, you will be able to pick out the best fish to add to your tank.

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