5 cool freshwater starter fish

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Looking for some starter fish, but tired of the normal guppy, danio, or molly options? Whether you are new to the hobby, getting back in or just looking from some cool looking fish for an easy-to-keep community tank, then this is the post for you.

What makes a good starter and community fish? They need to be peaceful and get along with others, they should be hardy and tolerant of a variety of conditions if things get bad or you forget a water change. What makes a cool fish? Something that has cool coloration, a unique shape and just looks cool in your aquarium.

There are plenty of options, but here are 5 of our favorite cool freshwater fish for beginners or experts alike.

Dwarf Guoarmi

If you are looking for something colorful, with a unique shape the dwarf gourami is a great choice. The dwarf gourami is actually part of a group of fish called labyrinth fish that breathe air from the surface of the water through a lung-like labyrinth organ. What captures your attention is the bright orange-red body with turquoise vertical stripes that extend into the fin. The dwarf moniker means they don’t grow as large as some other gourami species, growing up to about 2 in. long. They are peaceful fish that make it a great addition to a smartly designed community tank. Just keep in mind that some other brightly colored or larger fish can sometimes cause males to become a bit aggressive as. Peaceful, small schooling fish and most bottom dwelling fish are great options for tankmates.

Kuhli Loach

The Kuhli loach, also known as Coolie loach, is a small eel-shaped fish that shares similar striping to clown loaches, with a salmon/yellow body with brown stripes, but they don’t grow as large reaching lengths from 3-5 in. The fun little fish is a bottom feeder with its mouth facing down with three pairs of bushy barbels adorning it that make it look like a bit of a moustache. These fish are peaceful and hardy with minimal impact on the overall bioload compared to other loach. You can keep one, but they prefer to be kept in schools of three or more. They may hide around rocks, but they are known to be playful when they are out and hang out in java ferm. One thing to consider, these little guys can be escape artists, so make sure to keep the tank covered at all.

Panda Cory Cat

Cory cats, part of the Corydoras family, are one of the first fish I fell in love with as a child. Their unique look, small size and easy disposition make them a great choice. There are plenty of choices to choose from (including the albino version which almost made this list) but the Panda cory’s unique patching always bring a smile to our face. These are very peaceful fish and suitable many community tanks. As with all the other fish on this list, don’t keep it with anything very large or aggressive. Experts suggest keeping them in groups as they’re far more confident and active in the presence of others. Larger groups are better, but with a smaller tank at least try aiming for a pair.

Boesemani Rainbow

The Boesemani Rainbow certainly doesn’t look like a beginner fish, but don’t let its bold color fool you. This fish is peaceful, easy to care for and will be an excellent centerpiece for freshwater aquarium. The males are more colorful Males with a striking bluish purple head that fades into a gorgeous orange and yellow tail. Females may not be as colorful, but also make a unique addition. This fish thrives in planted aquariums, but will do well in other systems if they have plenty of room to swim. Like other rainbow fish, the Boesemani has similar characteristics like large eyes, a deep forked mouth, and dual dorsal fins.

Neon Tetra

There is nothing quite as captivating as a school of bright neon tetras darting around an aquarium. Although they are have been collected for the hobby since the 1930s, they are certainly timeless and are one of our all -time favorites. These fish have vibrant iridescent colors and a peaceful temperament that make it a perfect addition to any non-aggressive community tank. They are hardy and acclimate well making them a great choice for beginners or experienced hobbyists. They also are a good addition around a centerpiece fish, like a few we listed above – the dwarf guorami or Boesemani Rainbow.

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