5 Fish with Huge Personalities

Some breeds of fish have remarkably large personalities; let’s take a look at 5 of them.

Jul 23, 2023By Natasha Elder
fish with huge personalities

Did you know, that much like humans and other obvious animals like cats and dogs, different fish have different personalities? That’s right. Some breeds of fish are docile, sedate, laid-back and spend their days hiding at the back of the tank. Others are playful, curious, social, outgoing, and full of energy. If you’re looking for the latter, this article was written with you in mind. Let’s dive into 5 fish breeds with HUGE personalities.

1. Clownfish

clown fish swimming saltwatertank blue coral
Image credit: Pablò on Unsplash

First up is the clownfish. This beautiful saltwater fish is not only striking in the looks department but in the personality too. Clownfish are renowned for being curious, bold, friendly, adventurous, and oh-so-active.

Clownfish are generally really happy and sociable fish. They get along with most fish and make for a harmonious aquarium setup. And thanks to its vibrant appearance and the iconic Finding Nemo film franchise, they’re an eye-catching fish – good thing they like attention!

This is as good a time as any to point out that although some fish breeds are known for being full of personality, each individual fish will have its own unique character traits. For example, a 2017 Australian study found that some clownfish have loads of personality while others express no individualism and seemed to act in a group.

2. Angelfish

angelfish pair bubbles black background
Image credit: Rob Warner on Unsplash

Angelfish are a popular tropical freshwater fish largely due to their beautiful appearance – just look at them! Angelfish have distinct personalities and are extremely intelligent, always on high alert, and -- most notably -- they are soppy romantics at heart!

People who love facts about animals will love this next part. This striking fish will bond with its mate for life, which makes them unique, considering monogamy is rare amongst fish. Another side to the angelfish’s personality is that it can be a bit of a drama queen. When an angelfish’s mate is taken away from it, it will stop eating and will become depressed. They definitely don’t handle breakups well.

When it comes to their mates, their food, their eggs, their fry, and their territory, angelfish are known to display some less than angelic behavior. Angelfish are extremely protective of their, well, everything, and as a result, they can act aggressively. Some fish keepers and aquarists may even go as far as to call the angelfish a bit of a bully.

3. Betta Fish

red blue betta fish swimming plain tank
Image credit: Navin Rai on Unsplash

Betta fish have massive personalities, and they aren’t afraid to put them on display. This stunning freshwater fish is known for its outgoing nature and high level of curiosity. There is no crack, cave, or crevice that this fish won’t explore!

In addition, betta fish are huge show-offs in the skills arena. It’s not uncommon for betta fish to play finger-following games, do underwater flips, eat food out of their owner’s hands, swim through hoops, and even play ball. Bettas are one of the most trainable fish out there – with a little patience, a few helpful fish YouTubers, and some edible encouragement, you can teach your betta to do any number of things in a similar way to training a dog.

It’s worth noting that betta fish are known to have larger-than-life personalities: but not always positive ones. Fish emotions are surprisingly complex. Betta fish are highly territorial and the list of other fish they don’t get along with is a long one. Depending on the temperament of the individual, betta fish can be quite aggressive. Also, if they’re not happy with you, their tank, or their food, you’ll know it as they will flare at you without a second thought.

4. Oscars

oscar fish golden scales school
Image credit: Amir Shahabi on Unsplash

Don’t let their grumpy pout mouth fool you; the Oscar fish is very energetic, lively (when they’re not playing dead, that is!), playful, wildly intelligent, and has a unique personality trait that many find entertaining. They moonlight as interior tank decorators!

Oscar fish are known to rearrange and re-decorate their tank on a whim. The plant they loved yesterday will be uprooted and chucked aside today! In addition to unexpected bouts of gardening, don’t be surprised if bubble disks are pulled out, rocks are moved, furniture is knocked over, and gravel or pebbles are transported from one side of the tank to the other. Also, Oscars are known to be moody and will sulk at the bottom of the tank when they experience any changes to their water temperature or food supply.

Fondly referred to by aquarists as water dogs, Oscar fish will wag their fins when they spot their owners. With a little time and a lot of training, they will even eat from your hand and perform tricks for treats. Much like their canine friends, they’re also known to beg for food!

5. Puffer Fish

yellow pufferfish black polka dots swimming tank driftwood hardscape
Image credit: Yoonbae Cho on Unsplash

And last, but by no means least, we have the pufferfish. It’s outgoing, sociable, and has loads of personality. Like Oscars, this incredible little fish has been likened to a dog because it can get so excited when it spots its owner it will swim up to the surface of the tank to greet them!

Pufferfish are curious creatures. They’ll spend hours exploring their surroundings, so including lots of caves and overhangs in your aquarium setup is recommended. They are known for being playful and even mischievous and will eat anything they want – from algae to coral and from snails to bloodworms. These omnivores have no appetite control and, if left unchecked, will eat until their bellies are comically swollen.

Pufferfish are also super smart and will naturally play finger-following games and can be trained to eat from their owner’s hands. Move over puppy dogs and make way for the pufferfish!

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