Top 10 Fish That Are Best As Pets

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Looking to add some pet fish into your life? You’ve certainly got plenty to choose from! Whether browsing for brightly colored tropical freshwater fish, or unique marine fish, the possibilities can seem endless. To help narrow down the choices, several factors can help, such as choosing between a saltwater or freshwater aquarium, picking the size of a tank, and knowing how much time you have to spend on your new pets. 

To make the choice even easier, we’ve gathered together the top fish for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums that are easy to care for, do well in a community of fish, and are simply perfect for beginners. Take a look to find your next fish friend!

#1 Neon Tetra

One of the most popular fish in the U.S., this small, freshwater species is stunning with its iridescent blue stripe. Hailing from South America, this fish thrives in a school, so start with at least 3 to 5 of them, though 10 or more are preferable. With an omnivorous diet, this peaceful species is one of the easiest fish to care for.

#2 Platies

Available in just about every color, these active fish thrive in groups, and get along well with other non-aggressive species. Native to the waters of Mexico and Central America, this freshwater fish is a livebearer, and many an aquarium owner has returned with their one fish only to find they were pregnant, and soon have a school of platies!

#3 Zebra danios

Also known as a Zebrafish, this freshwater species’ distinctive blue and white stripes are stunning indeed! These hardy fish from the Ganges are perfect for first-timers, and should be purchased in groups of at least 5 to prevent lonely fish from becoming stressed. They are jumpers, however, so be sure to keep the lid on the tank!
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#4 Swordtails

Named after the sword-like extension of their tail fin, this freshwater species is native to the small streams of North and Central Americas. In gorgeous shades of every color, swordtails make great beginner fish. They prefer a plant-based diet, and do well with natural algae in their tank. These unique fish thrive in a community, and do best within a school of 5 or more.

#5 Mollies

This adaptable fish from Malaysia can live in either a freshwater or saltwater tank, but needs more care when going from the pet store to saltwater. These livebearers can quickly increase their numbers if you keep both sexes together. Hardy and peaceful, these fish eat algae and kick up dirt from the gravel so the filter can pick it up, helping the tank stay clean.

#6 Ocellaris Clownfish

Also known as the common or false percula clownfish, this specimen found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans is likely the most popular saltwater fish worldwide. Whether due to Finding Nemo, or that they are easy to take care of, many beginners are attracted to this white-banded orange fish. They love to live among anemones, and can even be friendly enough to be hand-fed.

#7 Green Chromis

This beautiful saltwater species will light up any aquarium, especially when in schools of 6 or more when they can shimmer against other fish. This type of damselfish are quite peaceful, unlike other varieties, and easily adapt to community tank life. Found in coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, they don’t bother coral when housed in a tank together.

#8 Blennies

Available in many colors and patterns, saltwater blennies are the perfect small fish to add a splash of color. These active fish love to dig and hide, and while they are easy going around other fish, they can be territorial if there’s another blenny in the tank. Some varieties help clean the tank by eating algae, like the lawnmower or highfin blenny.

#9 Gobies

If you want a fish who keeps the floor tidy, gobies are for you! This saltwater species eats by sifting sand through its gills to strain out food. While generally peaceful to the community, gobies will attack other sand sifters or gobies who are not their mate. Some varieties of these hardy fish can befriend certain shrimps, while others can jump right out the tank!

#10 Pajama cardinalfish

A wonderful fish to add to any saltwater tank, they are easy to care for and are truly unique with their characteristic band and polka dots. Native to the reefs near Fiji, Japan and Australia, they’ll be right at home with any non-aggressive fish in your aquarium. They’ll do best in groups of at least 5, and like to be fed at twilight.