5 Best Fish Breeds for First-Time Owners

From Betta fish to Kuhli loaches, here is a low down on 5 of the best fish breeds for first-time owners.

Jul 23, 2023By Natasha Elder
best fish breeds for first time owners

So, you’ve decided that your future is going to be a fishy one. Where to begin? Tempting it may be to fill your fish tank with Glass catfish, Kissing Gourami, Bala Shark, and other cool-looking unique aquarium additions, certain fish breeds just aren’t beginner friendly. Let’s look at five of the very best fish breeds for first-time owners.

1. Betta Fish

betta fish bubbles vibrant
Image credit: FishLab

When it comes to choosing a fish to begin your fishkeeping journey with, there’s no “betta” choice than a betta fish! Corny jokes aside, this freshwater fish is the perfect pet for the newbie fish owner. This is because a betta fish is easy to care for, can tolerate all kinds of water conditions, and doesn’t need a complicated aquarium setup. Plus, bettas have tons of personality, which makes them surprisingly good companions.

With their elaborately long fins, striking patterns, and vibrant coloration, betta fish are also beautiful and mesmerizing to look at. As a new fish owner, you’ll likely lose hours of your life to fish gazing if you opt for a betta.

While bettas are an ideal choice for beginner fish keepers, there is something to be aware of before taking the plunge and purchasing one. Bettas are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, and though this breed of fish gets along just fine with humans, they do best without tankmates as they’re extremely territorial and can display aggressive behavior at times.

2. Guppies

guppy aquarium blue
Image credit: Navin Rai on Unsplash

Go for guppies! This freshwater fish is an ideal choice for beginner fish keepers because it’s an incredibly hardy breed. Guppies have minimal maintenance requirements, are super sociable, and extremely adaptable to different water conditions, diets, and even tankmates. Speaking of which, here are some of the best tankmates for guppies!

Guppies are around 2 inches long when fully grown and come in a variety of elaborate patterns that feature colors such as black, white, silver, blue, red, yellow, orange, and rainbow. They generally boast striking fantails, and the males have ornamental caudal and dorsal fins. Like Tetras, Guppies are schooling fish, so you have to purchase them in groups of three and up.

Depending on what you picture your fishkeeping journey looking like, one major possible disadvantage that comes with keeping guppies is that they breed like mad – and like lightning. So, unless you want to become a grandma or grandpa to tons of baby guppies, make sure you only purchase either males or females.

3. Tetra Fish

blue neon tetra fins
Image credit: Flip Aquatics

Next up, we have the tetra fish. Tetra fish are a great choice for first-time fish owners because they’re hardy and can adapt to a range of water conditions and aquatic environments, have simple setup requirements, and are extremely playful, which makes them a pleasure to keep.

Tetras are schooling fish that are full of energy and will zip around your tank for hours on end. A staple in freshwater fish tanks, there are more than thirty species of tetra fish for you to choose from, ranging from the ever-popular neon tetra to the extremely rare rainbow tetra. Almost all tetras feature bright coloration and striking light-catching patterns, which make them visually appealing.

The only real downside to having tetras is that you cannot just have one, as it is a schooling fish, so you will need to purchase three, five, or ten tetras at a time. For a newbie, this can be a big commitment.

4. Goldfish

goldfish fishbowl orange
Image credit: Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash

Here’s an obvious one: the common goldfish! When thinking about pets for kids and beginners, people instantly conjure up a mental image of a bright orange fish blowing bubbles in a fishbowl. And the goldfish remains a popular first fish choice (and first pet in general) for a reason – several, in fact!

Goldfish are super simple to care for, require very little in terms of aquarium setup, and have social personalities, which means they get along well with many other fish breeds. Truly, all you need to keep a goldfish happy is a clean and well-balanced freshwater aquarium.

While goldfish are incredibly easy to care for, they are also incredibly messy and produce a whole lot of waste. This means that frequent water changes are imperative. They might not be the lowest maintenance freshwater fish choice on this list, but they’re still a great option for those dipping their toes in.

5. Kuhli Loach

kuhli loach eelfish stiped
Image credit: A-Z Animals

Now, let’s end this list with a bit of a bang! This last fish breed is a debatable one that divides the opinion of many seasoned fish keepers: enter the Kuhli loach. Some fish keepers think that this breed should be reserved for more experienced owners, while others believe it’s an excellent beginner fish because it’s relatively easy to care for, has a peaceful personality, and – simply put – looks really cool.

Looking for fish that looks like a small eel, acts like a platy, eats like a scavenging Amano shrimp, and will either leave you feeling fascinated or freaked out? Look no further than a Kuhli loach. This freshwater bottom-feeder fish has a long, slender, eel-like body, a white tummy, small translucent fish, and six whiskers near its mouth. It has beady black eyes and is either pink or brown with stripes.

Many people are surprised to discover that fish can sleep, and those same people are just as surprised to find out that certain breeds of fish are nocturnal. Though this characteristic will work for some people, it won’t for others as this fish will be sleeping during the day and will be up and active at night – once most people have long gone to bed!

Natasha Elder
By Natasha Elder

Natasha is a mother, a wife, a writer, and a serial cat owner. Though she is currently in mourning, her heart not ready for another feline family member just yet, she has always lived life with four paws beside her. She loves – you guessed it – cats, as well as creatures of the fluffy, scaly, and finned variety. Natasha longs to meet Sir David Attenborough one day and is passionate about responsible pet ownership