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30 Most Beautiful Freshwater Aquarium Fish (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Discus fish in aquarium

Freshwater fish come in just about every color, shape, and size. So, if you are looking for beautiful freshwater fish, you have a lot of species to choose from.

In this article, we are going to look at the 30 most beautiful freshwater aquarium fish and provide pictures so you have an idea of what these fish will look like. These freshwater fish are our personal favorites. If you have a particular fish in mind that isn’t on this list, go for it. It is your aquarium, after all!tropical fish 2 divider

What Makes a Fish “Beautiful?”

Let’s sort out exactly what it means for a fish to be beautiful. Whether we are talking about bedrooms, people, or fish, beauty is subjective. At the end of the day, what’s most important is that you get a fish that you love and can take care of properly.

That being said, most people find fish that are colorful and patterned to be the most beautiful. At the same time, some fish are dark and have little coloring, yet they are stunning because of their sleek appearance. In our opinion, every fish is beautiful in its own way, but some fish may look more beautiful in the home aquarium than others.

If you don’t like one of the fish on this list, just don’t get it! There are tons of stunning fish around the globe that you may find beautiful based on your own standard of fish beauty.

The 30 Most Beautiful Freshwater Aquarium Fish

1. Betta

red male betta fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Grigorii Pisotscki, Shutterstock

The most classic beautiful freshwater aquarium fish is the male Betta. Male Bettas have very showy fins and a torpedo-shaped body. Bettas can come in just about every color you can think of, which makes them very stunning.

If you want to have multiple fish in your aquarium, the Betta is not a great choice. Males need to be kept separately because they are aggressive. Luckily, if you only have one male Betta, you don’t need the largest tank for them to be happy. A sole male Betta may be a great choice for you if you live in an apartment and don’t have the space for a 30-gallon aquarium.

2. German Blue Ram

couple of german blue ram
Image Credit: Mircea Costina, Shutterstock

German Blue Rams have a striking appearance. Their bodies are yellow, but they have vibrant blue spots all over their abdomen, fins, and tail. In addition to the blue and yellow coloration, these fish have black stripes that run vertically through their eyes, which happen to be red.

German Blue Rams do not need to school, but it’s a good idea to have two per tank. These fish aren’t super difficult to take care of, but they are sensitive to water quality, meaning that this fish is great for intermediate aquarium lovers.

3. Paradise Fish

paradise fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Karel Zahradka, Shutterstock

The Paradise Fish has very large dorsal end anal fins. Its body is covered in bright blue and red stripes. It loves to hang out in densely populated plants, and the blue and red coloration truly pops against the green plant background.

Paradise Fish are great for beginners, but they can be aggressive. If you have a male, it should be alone, or you can place it with several females. Like many other aggressive fish, the males tend to be much more aggressive than the females.

4. Tetras

Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

If you are new to owning a large aquarium with schooling fish, Tetras are a great place to start. Tetras need at least six others to be happy, but they are very peaceful and absolutely beautiful to look at. Tetras are a great colorful edition if you already have some other moderately aggressive fish in your tank.

The appearance of the Tetra will depend on the type you get. Cardinal Tetras, for example, have horizontal blue and red stripes that run over their entire body. Neon Tetras, on the other hand, have a silver abdomen and a horizontal blue stripe that runs from the fish is nose to fins.

5. Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin rasbora in aquarium
Image Credit: InsectWorld, Shutterstock

Harlequin Rasboras are stunning and very cute. Their bodies are almost shaped like an arrowhead, and they’re primarily a red-orange color. They also have a triangular black pattern along both sides of their fin. These fish are very small.

If you get one Harlequin Rasbora, you will need nine others. As schooling fish, they like groups of 10 or more to feel safe. They are very active yet peaceful, and they only need a beginner to properly care for them.

6. Killifish

African killifish
Image Credit: Karel Zahradka, Shutterstock

Killifish are very interesting because of their appearance. These fish are very skinny and small, but they have many color variations. Many Killifish have red and bright blue patterns that make them very easy to spot. Some even have red horizontal stripes on their tail.

Even though Killifish may sound a bit intimidating based on their name, these fish are very easygoing. They also aren’t as sensitive as some other fish, making them perfect for beginners. You will need to get multiple Killifish so that they can swim in schools, though.

7. Jack Dempsey Cichlid

The Jack Dempsey Cichlid certainly gets a lot of attention. Unlike other freshwater fish on this list, this one has a very long and stocky body. The body is naturally light pink, but it is covered with blue speckles that make the entire fish stand out.

This fish is best for intermediates, but you shouldn’t have multiple Jack Dempseys together or pair them with other aggressive fish. Instead, you need to pair them with very peaceful fish, such as Tetras, if any fish at all.

8. Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn cichlid fish_
Image Credit: NERYXCOM, Shutterstock

The Flowerhorn is another cichlid that is stunning. Unlike some of the other cichlids on this list, this one is man-made. It has a very heavy looking body and a giant head. Most Flowerhorns are bright red with sparkly speckles. Many Flowerhorns also have dark spots that run horizontally on the lateral line.

Flowerhorn Cichlids are one of the most aggressive fish on this list. They must be housed by themselves. Still, they only require intermediate skill, and they are very likely to interact with owners and people that approach the tank.

Related Read: 16 Best Tank Mates for Flowerhorn Cichlid

9. Electric Yellow Lab

electric yellow lab
Image Credit: Hans Rohmann, Pixabay

As you would expect, the Electric Yellow Lab has a bright yellow coloration that pops against plants, gravel, and other fish in the tank. In addition to its overall yellow long body, the dorsal fin includes a thin black stripe.

Electric Yellow Labs tend to be very aggressive, especially the males. The males are so territorial that they will fight until the death. Only keep one male per tank and provide sandy substrate and caves. The care level for this fish is intermediate.

10. Fancy Guppy

fancy guppies
Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

The Fancy Guppy is named so for a reason. Its body is very slim, but its tail fans out. Fancy Guppies come in many morphs and patterns so you can always find one that is gorgeous. Males tend to be much showier and more stunning than the females, who often look a bit drab.

Fancy Guppies are great for beginners, and they need to be kept together. These fish are very active, and they are very driven by food. Once they learn that you feed them, they often swarm towards the top of the tank every time you approach it.

11. Endlers

Endlers aren’t necessarily the classic beautiful fish, but they are absolutely stunning to look at. They look like guppies in many ways, and they come in many color morphs. The males are especially bright and often have nearly iridescent green and red patterns over their body.

Endlers are great for beginning fish lovers. They also are naturally schooling fish, which means you need to have at least a group of six Endlers for the fish to feel comfortable. The bigger the school, the better.

12. Rainbow Kribensis

We mentioned that some darker fish are equally as stunning as their bright counterparts. The Rainbow Kribensis is just one example. These fish have black lines over their yellow body and a pink belly with orange tips. It also has black spots, and the males tend to be darker than the females. These fish look very sleek and attractive.

Rainbow Kribs are great for beginners, but you should only have one male per tank. Unlike other cichlids, the Rainbow Krib can be kept in a community tank because of its slightly more peaceful nature.

13. Oscar Fish

white and orange oscar fish
Image Credit: Fabika, Shutterstock

Oscar Fish also have dark colorations, but they are absolutely stunning. Their bodies are pretty bulky, and the majority of their bodies are dark blue or black. However, they have patches of orange scales that really pop against their darker colored scales.

These fish are highly aggressive and need a lot more space than some other fish. The Oscar Fish is best for an intermediate fish lover because of its larger size, more sensitive system, and more aggressive nature.

14. Peacock Cichlid

Peacock Cichlid
Image Credit: Kevin McIver, Pixabay

The Peacock Cichlid has a very long body with large anal and dorsal fins. The males can come in many different hybrids and colors, but our favorite is a golden-orange and yellow hybrid with iridescent or blue stripes. The females aren’t very bright and are often brown or gray.

These fish are great for intermediate owners, and they are semi aggressive. Whenever female Peacock Cichlids are present, the males can be pretty territorial. You can either have one male and a few females or have many males in a very large tank.

15. Clown Loach

clown loaches
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

The Clown Loach may look very different from some of the other fish on this list, but it is very unique looking. It has a very slender body that is primarily orange with black bands that run vertically. These fish can be pretty big, some growing up to be 1 foot long.

The issue with Clown Loaches is that they are sensitive and require so much space. You need to be an intermediate or expert to properly care for these fish. However, with the right skills, this peaceful and attractive fish gets along great in aquariums.

16. Celestial Pearl Danio

Two Celestial pearl danio
Image Credit: Bos11, Shutterstock

The Celestial Pearl Danio has a long body that is dark green. What makes it stand out is its bright yellow spots and bright red or orange fins and belly. The males are especially bright. These fish dart in and out of fish, making them stand out even more.

Celestial Pearl Danios are small and shy. They school with groups of six or more. You want to have more females than males. This is perfect for intermediate fish owners.

17. Discus

discus fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Regina Wölk, Pixabay

The Discus fish comes in many colors and patterns. As their name suggests, their bodies are shaped like a disc, which makes them look very unique against other freshwater fish. As we already mentioned, Discus fish come in a lot of colors and patterns. Some can be solid, but others have spots, stripes, or striations.

If you want a Discus, know that these are schooling fish, and you need many in one school. Something else to know is that these fish are not great for beginners. We only recommend these stunning freshwater fish for advanced fish caregivers.

18. Redhead Cichlid

Finally, the last fish on our list is the Redhead Cichlid. This fish has a very heavy body and a huge head. Like its name suggests, its head tends to be red or pink, where the rest of its body and fins can be blue, green, or golden. The back half of its body also tends to have black spots.

Like many other cichlids, the Redhead Cichlid can be very aggressive, especially the males. It’s best to have one male and one female per tank. This fish needs a lot of space and an advanced owner to survive in captivity.

Honorable Mentions
  • Red Neon Stiphodon Goby
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Boesemani Rainbow
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnow
  • Bluefin Notho
  • Salvini Cichlid
  • Apistogramma
  • Cherry Barb
  • Electric Blue Hap
  • Florida Flag Fish
  • Jewel Cichlid
  • Green Terror Cichlid
Dwarf gourami
Image Credit: Corneliu LEU, Shutterstock

How Do I Pick Out the Right Fish For Me?

Whenever you go to pick out a beautiful freshwater fish, there are several factors you need to consider. The most important includes your tank size, fish mates, and care level. For example, cichlids tend to be very pretty, but these fish often require intermediate or experienced owners, and they’re often aggressive.

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Now that we have gone over the 30 most beautiful freshwater fish, you can fill your community tank with stunning yet gentle fish or place a gorgeous Betta on your table. No matter which fish you select, remember to consider the fish’s living standards, personality, and care level to find a species perfect for your tank.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Juan Carlos Palau Díaz, Pixabay

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