Freshwater Aquarium Fish

Aquarium Native Gold Fish
EuToch / Getty Images

Deciding which fish to have in your freshwater aquarium requires you to explore the choices. Take a look at some of the popular types of fish and learn more about them.

  • 01 of 09

    Anabantoidei: Bettas and Gouramis

    Helostoma temminckii - Kissing Gourami
    Daniel Ahlqvist

    :An interesting subfamily of fish are the Anabantoidei, often referred to as the Labyrinth fish. These species have a special organ that allows them to breathe air directly. The popular fad of keeping a betta in a vase, came about because of this ability. Many of these species are very popular, including:

    • Bettas
    • Gourami Species: Blue/Three Spot Gourami, Chocolate Gourami, Dwarf Gourami, Kissing Gourami, Moonlight Gourami, Pearl Gourami
  • 02 of 09

    Cyprinidae - Barbs, Danios, Goldfish

    Tiger Barb
    Ash Nicholas

    Cyprinidae are the largest family of entirely freshwater fish. Often referred to as the carp family, it includes many of the most popular aquarium fish. This family also includes many food fish as well as those favored in recreational fishing. Some of their more popular members include:

  • 03 of 09


    Ash Nicholas

    Catfish may seem alike, but in truth they are one of the most diverse families of fish. One unusual characteristic of this family is the Weber's apparatus, which connects the hearing and swim bladder organs, providing them with an exceptionally keen sense of hearing. Some popular species in this family include:

  • 04 of 09

    Charcoids: Hatchets, Pacus, Silver Dollars, Tetras

    Thoracocharax stellatus - Spotfin Hatchetfish
    Brian Gratwicke

    Spread throughout the world, this family includes a wide variety of species. Many are peaceful schooling, commonly seen in community aquariums. Some members of this family include:

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09


    Steven Viemeister

    Cichlids are an extremely popular freshwater family ​and include a wide variety of species, from elegant angelfish to large and boisterous Oscars Some common members of this family include.

    • Angelfish: Believe it or not, there is only one primary species of angelfish sold in the aquarium trade.
    • Blood Parrots: A controversial hybrid, this species is widely available.
    • Convicts: Named for their prison uniform coloration, convicts are one of the most popular South American cichlids.
    • Kribensis: This attractive, and peaceful, member of the Cichlid family hails from Africa.
    • Oscar: This cichlid ranks high on the list of fish with oodles of personality.
    • Texas Cichlid: The northernmost member of the cichlid family in North America.
  • 06 of 09

    Livebearing Fish

    Guppy aquarium fish
    Getty Images

    Livebearing fish are colorful peaceful fish that are easy to care for. They fall into a couple of primary groups, including:

    • Guppy
    • Molly: 24-carat Gold Molly, Gold Dust Molly, Sailfin Molly
    • Platy:  Mickey Mouse Platy, Tuxedo Platy, Red Wagtail Platy
    • Swordtails:  Marigold Swordtail, Marigold Wagtail
  • 07 of 09


    Loach school
    Getty Images

    Loaches are lively bottom-dwelling fish that make a great addition to most community aquariums. Some species include:

  • 08 of 09



    Native to Australia and New Guinea, Rainbowfish have rapidly become popular worldwide. Their bright colors and dual dorsal fins set them apart from many other freshwater species. Unfortunately, their attractiveness has caused some species to be captured to the point of near extinction in the wild. As a ​result, some species, such as the highly prized Boseman's Rainbow, are largely captive bred.

    Some of the fish included in this group are:  Axelrod's Rainbow, Boesman's Rainbow, Lake Kutubu Rainbow, Lake Wanam Rainbow, Madagascar Rainbow, Neon Rainbow, and the Red Rainbow. Visit the Rainbowfish gallery for a full list.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09


    Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps - Leopard Pleco
    Leopard Pleco h080