Aquaforest / Blog / Poradnik / Best Saltwater and Freshwater Fish for Beginners | Aquaforest

Best Saltwater and Freshwater Fish for Beginners | Aquaforest

8 04, 2024

Best Saltwater Fish for Beginners

I have been keeping both freshwater and marine aquariums for nearly 20 years and thought I would share some of my favourite fish for starting your fishkeeping journey.

One of the first decisions aspiring saltwater aquarists face is selecting the right fish for their tank. It's important to choose species that are hardy, adaptable, and well-suited to not only the size of the aquarium but compatibility with future tank inhabitants.



Clownfish are perhaps the most iconic saltwater fish. Whether you choose the common ocelaris, or one of the more designer varieties available, they’re one of the first fish aquarists introduce to a cycled tank.

These colourful  fish are hardy and have quirky personalities

Clownfish are known for their unique symbiotic relationship with sea anemones, making them fascinating additions to any reef tank.


Bangaii Cardinals

There are so many reasons why these fish are one of my top 5 beginner saltwater fish.

They have proved to be a resilient fish to perameter swings and have interesting behaviour when added in pairs or small groups.

I managed to buy a breeding pair and was fortunate enough to witness they’re mating behaviour and raised a few fry to adulthood.


Goby Fish

Many goby species are well-suited to beginner setups, such as the Yellow Watchman Goby and the Firefish Goby.

I have had several over the years and especially enjoyed keeping the Watchman goby paired with a pistol shrimp, entertaining to watch but can undermine rockwork so a stable structure is a must.



Also known as fire gobies, are stunningly beautiful and relatively low-maintenance fish.

Firefish are peaceful by nature and can coexist peacefully with a wide range of tankmates, making them suitable for community setups. I enjoy watching mine dart in and out of the rockwork searching for food.


Green Chromis

Green Chromis are schooling fish known for their shimmering green and blue coloration.

These fish are hardy and adaptable, making them an excellent choice for beginners.

Green Chromis thrive in groups, so it's best to keep them in schools of six or more to mimic their natural behavior.

I have found small frequent feedings reduce aggression within groups.


Pink Streaked Wrasse

I added this wrasse to my favourite beginner fish as it can kept in a small nano reef tank (15 gallons)  and is a great alternative to the usual recommended 6 line wrasse, which can become aggressive to other tank mates. 


Best Freshwater Fish for Beginners


I have enjoyed keeping many different freshwater tropical aquariums over the years, from small planted aquariums to large Discus tanks.

Whatever route you take in fish keeping, cycling your aquarium correctly and stocking slowly is essential in building up enough biological bacteria to support your gradual increase in fish population.

Choosing the best freshwater tropical fish for beginners involves considering factors like hardiness, ease of care and compatibility Here's a list of my favourite beginner fish.


Guppy (Poecilia reticulata): Known for their vibrant colors, guppies are small, peaceful, and easy to care for. They also reproduce readily, so be prepared for potential offspring.


Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus): Platy fish are similar to guppies in terms of care requirements and temperament. They come in various colors and patterns, adding diversity to your tank.


Molly (Poecilia sphenops): Mollies are hardy and adaptable, making them ideal for beginners. They prefer slightly brackish water but can adapt to freshwater conditions with ease.


Betta (Betta splendens): Bettas, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are popular due to their stunning fins and colors. While they can be housed alone, they require proper tank conditions and shouldn't be kept with aggressive tank mates.


Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi): Neon tetras are small, peaceful fish with striking blue and red colors. They thrive in schools, so it's best to keep them in groups of six or more.


Danio (Danio rerio): Zebra danios are energetic, schooling fish that are easy to care for and can tolerate a range of water conditions. They're great for beginners due to their hardiness.


Corydoras Catfish: Corydoras are bottom-dwelling fish that help keep the tank clean by scavenging for food. They come in various species, with the most popular being the bronze cory.


Swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii): Swordtails are similar to platies and mollies in terms of care requirements. They're peaceful fish that add color and movement to the aquarium.


Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona): Tiger barbs are active and engaging fish but can be slightly nippy, especially if kept in small numbers. However, they thrive in a well-established tank with plenty of hiding spots.


Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha): Harlequin rasboras are peaceful schooling fish with distinctive black triangular markings. They're relatively easy to care for and do well in community tanks.


Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya): Cherry barbs are peaceful and easy to care for, making them suitable for beginners. Their vibrant red coloration adds visual appeal to the aquarium.

Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii): Kuhli loaches are slender, eel-like fish that are active at night. They require hiding places and soft substrate, but are otherwise undemanding.


The author of the text is Paul Toy, we cordially invite you to his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cornish__reefer/ where you will meet amazing content related to marine aquariums!