If you’re thinking about starting an aquarium habitat in your home, you may have found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices when it comes to choosing inhabitants for your tank. And it’s no surprise! The earth is covered in water, so it’s no wonder that there would be thousands of species of fish and other creatures living inside it.
Regardless of whether you have chosen to maintain a fresh or saltwater aquarium, there is no shortage of options when it comes to how you will fill the tank. Fish come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes, with a shocking amount of diversity that makes it incredibly difficult to choose.
All fish are unique, but if you’re looking for a tank that takes your breath away as soon as you walk in your front door, consider these 27 most beautiful fish.
- 1 Threadfin Butterflyfish
- 2 Betta Fish
- 3 Symphysodon Discus
- 4 Banggai Cardinalfish
- 5 Moorish Idol
- 6 Flame Angelfish
- 7 Killifish
- 8 Clownfish
- 9 Regal Angelfish
- 10 Gourami
- 11 Picasso Triggerfish
- 12 Lionfish
- 13 French Angelfish
- 14 Regal Tang
- 15 Clown Triggerfish
- 16 Juvenile Emperor Angelfish
- 17 Mandarinfish
- 18 Flowerhorn Cichlid
- 19 Boesemani rainbow
- 20 Endler’s livebearer
- 21 Fancy guppy
- 22 Cherry barb
- 23 Zebra Danio
- 24 Harlequin Rasbora
- 25 Green Spotted Puffer
- 26 Oscars
- 27 Leopard bush fish
1 Threadfin Butterflyfish
This gorgeous specimen is a feature in many home aquariums, with a friendly, assertive personality that only plays second fiddle to its bold colors. This fish reaches a length of nine inches, and has an outgoing yet calm personality that makes it one of the most commonly photographed species of fish.
It has a pearly white body that fades into a bright yellow color up into the dorsal fins. It also has light black lines, creating a pattern not unlike that of chevron. While this fish must be kept in a large tank (no smaller than 100 gallons), it is a great fish for beginners.
2 Betta Fish
The betta, also known as the Siamese fighting fish, is a classic choice for an aquarium. Unfortunately, because these fish were bred to fight, they are incredibly aggressive and can’t be kept with males or other similarly colored species.
Bettas have been selectively bred to exhibit some of the most vibrant colors, and they are unique in that they can breathe oxygen directly from the air. These fish have long, elegant tails and come in an assortment of colors, making them ideal for a species-only tank.
3 Symphysodon Discus
This discus fish may have a name that’s hard to pronounce, but it’s well worth the hassle. Often regarded as the king of the aquarium, this fish grows up to six inches in length and is a peaceful, graceful addition to any setting. From the front, this fish would appear to be pancake flat, but turn the fish around and you will see that the discus is actually a round disc shape.
Also known as the Pineapple Fish, this variety of discus comes in a number of colors. However, the reddish orange hue is by far one of the most popular. Found naturally in the Amazon River, it can be a challenging freshwater fish species to keep as it requires very specific foods.
4 Banggai Cardinalfish
Native to the Banggai Islands of Indonesia, this graceful fish has a unique appearance with spiky black and white spotted fins and a gold body. These fish tend to rest between seagrass beds and coral ledges, and feed at night, coming up to feed on plankton and other small crustaceans. These fish like to be kept in groups of eight or more and love a tank with plenty of hiding spots.
5 Moorish Idol
The Moorish Idol is one of the most common fish species that you might see on a snorkeling trip, serving as the classic representation of wildlife in the coral reefs. This fish is native to the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and offers a vibrant appearance to brighten up any fish tank. It has large vertical stripes in black, white, and yellow, along with a long snout with a similar pattern of striping.
These fish also have long, extravagant filmanet. This filament, looking much like another fin, spans outward from the tip of the dorsal fin. Moorish Idols can be difficult to keep in captivity, as they grow up to nine inches in length and have a very specific diet.
6 Flame Angelfish
The Flame Angelfish is a dwarf species that is popular among beginner and expert aquarium hobbyists alike. This creature has a squat body in a reddish orange hue, along with black stripes and blue dorsal and anal fins.
These fish are unique in that their color patterns differ depending on their native regions. For example, Hawaiian species are larger and have a deeper color, while those found in the Indo-Pacific are more orange. They can thrive in a tank of around thirty gallons, with angelfish preferring to live in small groups of three to seven each. Males have a tendency to fight, so consider keeping them separate.
The killifish actually encompasses a few different species, but all of them are brightly colored. These hardy fish are tough to find and are usually only kept by experienced aquarium hobbyists. These peaceful fish can be kept in a species-only tank, but also make good community fish.
The clownfish is an adorable fish that is best known for its starring role in the Disney Pixar film, “Finding Nemo.” This fish makes its home naturally in sea anemones, and lives in the coral reefs on the coasts of Australia and Southeast Asia.
These fish are not affected by the toxins of the anemones. They have a symbiotic relationship with the structure, as the anemone provides shelter and protection while the clownfish brings food to the anemone.
9 Regal Angelfish
The Regal Angelfish is just one of the many beautiful angelfish species, but this one is one of the most stunning by far. Although it can be tough to keep in an aquarium, growing to over ten inches in length, it can be kept on its own and does not require any other fish with which to school.
This fish has elegant blue and yellow stripes, and can have a hard time adapting to life in captivity. Therefore, you should always select young, smaller juveniles when selecting the proper Regal Angelfish.
There are multiple types of gouramis, including dwarf and full-sized species. However, all of them would make an excellent choice as inhabitants for your aquarium. These fish require larger tanks, and although they are docile, you may need to include plenty of hiding places and vegetation. They can grow to about six inches in length and come in a variety of colors.
11 Picasso Triggerfish
The Picasso Triggerfish is named after the illustrious artist of the same name, and this fish certainly lives up to its reputation. It has an eccentric appearance, looking as though it has been painted. It has a tan body and bluish black stripes, giving it a cartoon-like appearance in captivity as well as its native habitat of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
These fish can be somewhat aggressive, and should only be kept in tanks with other large fish (ideally those that are ten inches or longer). They cannot be kept with other triggerfish, but are incredibly intelligent, with some specimens adopting the ability to identify their owners.
The Lionfish is native to the Pacific Ocean and goes by many names, including the Dago Fish and the Scorpion Fish. These fish are invasive in North America, as they don’t have any natural predators. They reproduce rapidly and adapt quickly to most environments. These fish can grow up to sixteen inches and length, and have gorgeously striped bodies in shades of red and pink, with their stripes arranged in a zebra-like pattern.
These fish are unique in that they have feather-like fins that are attractive to smaller fish, whom they later lure in. these fish look harmless, but they have venomous spines which they use for self-defense. Luckily, their venom is not fatal to humans.
13 French Angelfish
French angelfish are native to the shallow reefs of Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. These fish mature into colorful beauties as adults, possessing vertical stripes as juveniles that disappear as they get older. As adults, French angelfish have deep greyish black coloring with light flecks of yellow.
In the wild, these fish are often found in pairs, but in the aquarium, you should only keep one angelfish to provide plenty of space for swimming. Otherwise, these fish can rapidly become territorial.
14 Regal Tang
The Regal Tang is an electric blue fish known by many names, including the Palette Surgeonfish, the Common Surgeon, and the Hippo Tang. This fish has an oval body with a bright blue coloration, along with a yellow tail and pectoral fins. Adults also have pronounced blue lines that run across their dorsal fins. Their colors change as they mature, making it easy to differentiate between adults and juveniles.
15 Clown Triggerfish
The clown triggerfish is easily identified by its dark body with large white spots. With a yellow upper half, this fish also has a yellow or white stripe across its face, along with a pronounced yellow snout. Juveniles can be a bit reclusive, but they grow more outgoing as they age. Clown triggerfish can be kept with larger fish, but they do have a tendency to be somewhat aggressive. Make sure you keep them in a large tank (larger than 120 gallons) to give them plenty of spaces to swim and hide.
16 Juvenile Emperor Angelfish
The Juvenile Emperor Angelfish has a black body and pale blue and white vertical lines on its face. These fish also have curved bands, giving them a somewhat hypnotic appearance. Interestingly, these fish change quite a bit as they mature. They were thought to be three different species until 1933. They can reach up to fifteen inches in length, but usually don’t grow quite as large in captivity.
This fish is perhaps one of the most spectacular looking fish species you can find. Native to the Pacific Ocean, this fish can be found in sheltered lagoons and inshore reefs and is covered in small spikes that inject toxic mucus into potential attackers. It produces its own signature blue coloring, and adds a breathtaking pop of color to any tank.
18 Flowerhorn Cichlid
The flowerhorn cichlid is a unique exotic fish, and is actually a manmade hybrid. This fish grows quite large – in many cases reaching an adult length of well over a foot. As a result, these fish require extremely large tanks. They can be aggressive toward tankmates and their owners, so they should be kept in large tanks.
19 Boesemani rainbow
Also known as bicolor rainbowfish, Boesemani rainbows are gorgeous and peaceful fish. They are small, growing only to about four inches and length, and prefer to be kept in groups of six or more. They have silver and orange coloring that make them stand out among the vegetation in a tank, and they pair well with larger, non-aggressive fish.
20 Endler’s livebearer
Endler’s livebearers are easy to keep and are closely related to guppies – meaning there is the potential for them to interbreed if you keep multiples of either species in the same tank. These fish are incredibly colorful with multiple different patterns and color schemes available. You will want to maintain a ratio of two females to every male. These fish populate the top of the water column, but you still need to keep an eye out for larger, more predatory fish who might view the Endlers as prey.
21 Fancy guppy
Guppies are perhaps some of the most popular fish for beginning aquarium hobbyists. These fish tend to hang out at the top of the water column, and are so small that they are ideal for tanks of ten gallons or so in size. They come in all kinds of colors, really standing out in any aquarium. Guppies are livebearers, so you will want to keep a ratio of two females for every male when stocking.
22 Cherry barb
The cherry barb, true to its name, as a bright-red coloring that is reminiscent of its namesake fruit. As a schooling fish, the barb should be kept in groups of six or more. The fish will disperse evenly around the tank, but tend to cluster together when they feel threatened. They can grow to a few inches in size, and although they have the occasional tendency to nip fins, they usually won’t get aggressive with other fish.
23 Zebra Danio
Zebra danios are members of the minnow family, and as shoaling fish, these colorful species should be kept in groups of six or more. They are extremely hardy and are a great choice for beginners, as well as those who have small tanks. They have edgy black and white stripes along with spunky personality, serving to liven up just about any aquarium.
24 Harlequin Rasbora
The Harlequin Rasbora is a gorgeous fish, with a striking red and orange color pattern along with distinctive black markings on the tail. These fish are small and can be kept in ten-gallon tanks, but to keep them in schools – which is ideal – you should aim for a tank that is twenty gallons or larger. This hardy fish is a great option for beginners, and as a shoaling fish, definitely looks best in larger groups.
25 Green Spotted Puffer
The green spotted puffer is a great choice for a more experienced fish keeper. Because these fish can attack and kill other fish in the tank, you may want to exercise caution if you are planning on keeping multiple fish in the same tank. However, these gorgeous fish add interesting life and texture to a tank, growing to an adult length of around six inches.
Oscars are aggressive, carnivorous cichlids, most often kept in single-specimen tanks. These fish are a beloved species among aquarium hobbyists, coming in a wide variety of colors that make them ideal for folks looking for a rainbow assortment of shades in the tank. They can grow to well over a foot in length, so they have some unique care requirements that are not for the faint of heart.
27 Leopard bush fish
Also known as the spotted leaf fish, the leopard bush fish is a peaceful fish that thrive in a well-planted tank. This fish is a predator and will eat anything it can fit inside its large mouth, so make sure you choose its tankmates wisely. Otherwise, this fish is peaceful and will add an astonishing amount of color to your tank.
Keep in mind that although these are the brightest, most vibrantly colored fish you can choose to keep in your aquarium, there are tips you can incorporate to help bring out the color and personality of all of your fish species – no matter how bright they naturally are.
For example, make sure you are feeding your fish a varied, nutritious diet. This can help your fish reach their full coloring potential. So, too, can eliminating stress in your tank, as stressed or sick fish tend to take on a duller tone. Make sure you are keeping up with your tank maintenance, cleaning the water on a regular basis.
Consider these fish species to add a more colorful appearance to your tank. Although this list is by no means exclusive, it is a great starting point in stocking your tank with all of the colors of the rainbow.