Raising fish should be enjoyable – it should not be difficult! However, if you have fish living together in your tank that don’t always get along, this can be a serious challenge. While some types of fish are naturally more assertive than others, some fish can be downright dangerous to keep with calmer, more peaceful tankmates.
Therefore, it’s important that you consider the personalities of all of your individual fish before making the decision to keep them together n a single tank. If you’re looking for the best community fish, look no further – we have put together a list of the best community fish so that you can keep things functioning swimmingly in your community tank.
Top Community Fish For A Peaceful Tank
Neon tetras are popular for novice fishkeepers, and are one of the most well-known fish species that you can keep. These fish are famous for their gorgeous appearance, possessing bright colors that are practically glow-in-the-dark!
These fish are also easy to care for. Neon tetras thrive in any tank in which there are no inhabitants who will view your tetras as food. You should try to maintain a school of at least six neon tetras, but ten is more ideal so that your fish feel safe. Plus, you will be treated to a magnificent display of color if you choose to keep that many neon tetras in your tank!
Blackskirt tetras are also popular species for beginner fish keepers looking for a great community fish. These have coin-like body shapes and impressive black anal fins. If you keep them in schools (ideally around eight or more fish), you will be treated to a gorgeous display of movement and dramatic color. You will want to house these fish in an aquarium that is a minimum of 20 gallons so that they have plenty of room.
Blackskirt tetras get along well with just about any other type of community fish. They are often used as a companion species for large cichlids because they help the larger fish species feel safe in uncertain waters. Other than that, this active species just prefers to have lots of open swimming space.
Another popular tetra species for your community tank is the Glowlight Tetra. This fish is small, peaceful, and extremely colorful. A good option for beginners, this fish doesn’t require a lot when it comes to water parameters and it’s easy to house it with other species of peaceful fish.
This schooling species should be kept with as many of its own kind as possible – eight to ten is ideal, but you can go for even more if you prefer. You will want a long aquarium that is at least 20 gallons in volume so your fish have lots of room to swim. Avoid keeping this miniscule species with large, predatory fish like discus fish and large cichlids.
Platies are livebearers that are extremely easy to breed. If you want to fry to survive in your tank, all you need to do is add floating stem plants to the tank so that they have some cover. Platies are a bit larger than guppies but are very similar in appearance. Similar to the platy is the swordtail, which has an enlarged bottom tail fin.
Marbled hatchetfish are quite shy, but still get along very well with other kinds of fish. Though oddly shaped, this fish is extremely interesting to watch. It will spend most of its time at the surface of the water where, in the wild, it would catch small insects as it camouflages itself like a floating leaf.
This fish species is interesting to watch and a good option for a community tank. Because it is so shy, you need to make sure you select other companions that won’t bother it too much. It should be kept with lots of its own species – ideally, you should keep about ten hatchetfish in an aquarium of 20 gallons long or more. Length is more important than height when it comes to aquarium size, and soft, acidic water will be best, too.
Another note of caution when keeping these fish is that you need to make sure you have a securely fitting lid that offers no open spaces to the hatchetfish. These fish are known for their ability to jump and they can leap quite far out of the tank. It’s not uncommon for hatchetfish owners to find their fish dried up on the floor if the aquarium has no hood, so make sure that this is an investment you make immediately if you decide to raise hatchetfish in your community tank.
Zebra danios are popular freshwater fish and are a staple in the aquarium trade. This striped fish is decorative looking, making it the perfect fish if you are hoping to spice up a boring aquarium. The zebra danio is incredibly peaceful and while you need to avoid placing it with companions who have long fins – the zebra danio likes to nip – it is otherwise very easy to care for.
If you choose to keep zebra danios, know that you will want to give it plenty of space to swim around. At least 20 gallons in tank size is recommended, and it’s better for the tank to be longer than it is tall. You might also want to plant around the edges of the tank with plants like anubias nana to give your danios some cover – otherwise, your fish will enjoy swimming freely around the tank.
corydoras catfish is probably one of the most popular – and most ideal – fish species for beginners. They aren’t only easy to keep, but they’re also easy to house with other species of fish. They are incredibly peaceful and won’t bother your other tank inhabitants. They have sturdy, rigid bodies protected with plates, too – so you don’t even have to worry about nipping or overly interested fish.
There are many types of corydoras catfish, so the best type for your specific tank setup may not be the best for everybody who keeps fish. For example the small corydoras pygmaeus is best for small tanks, while the albino corydoras aeneus offers a more unique look to your tank.
These fish have minimal demands when it comes to setting up the tank. They like to have some kind of cover in the form of decorations, caves, and plants, and you need to make sure you don’t house them on substrate that can damage their barbels – stay away from sharp gravel. Sand is a better choice, as it lets the fish burrow as per their natural instincts.
The Oto catfish, as it is commonly called, is another popular genus of small catfish. This species is about as peaceful as it gets – you will rarely see it interact with other fish, let alone harass them. These fish eat only plant foods, living mostly off biofilm and algae, so they have no reason to bother your other species.
These fish can be somewhat fragile in terms of water quality, so you will need to do your best to keep the parameters in your tank stable at all times. Water changes should be conducted gradually and slowly, and you should probably avoid any aggressive tank mates, who will harass your poor Oto catfish.
Another popular catfish species for a community tank is the glass catfish. This one is small, rarely reaching more than two and a half inches, and is best kept in schooling groups of six or more individuals. You will want a larger tank – think 30 gallons or more – in order to keep it happy.
The glass catfish is native to Southeast Asia, where it lives in water that are slow-moving, dark, and acidic. You won’t want a lot of lighting in the aquarium, and you’ll need to make sure you keep up with your water changes to ensure the health of this see-through fish.
Bristlenose plecos are absolutely lovely, offering a fascinating appearance to your tank. These fish usually don’t grow larger than six inches and are much more manageable than other types of plecos, like common or sailfin plecos.
These fish still need to be kept in tanks that are at least 30 gallons in volume, however. While bristlenose plecos don’t grow very large, they produce a ton of waste and are sensitive to poor water quality that this causes. You don’t have to worry about incompatibility with any tank mates, though – this species camouflages itself with ease and is an omnivore that does well with any type of food and any other companions.
Harlequin rasboras are popular peaceful aquarium fish, suitable for beginners and experts alike. These fish can be found in just about every aquarium store and are an excellent choice for community tanks that house other peaceful species, like the others we’ve discussed in this article.
The only fish you need to avoid keeping with your harlequin rasboras are those that are large enough to eat them – harlequin rasboras only reach about 1.8” and often look like tasty treats to other big fish! This schooling fish only needs a long tank of about 15 gallons – this is plenty of space to house a large group of ten individuals or so. Larger tanks, however, will always be better.
The natural habitat of the harlequin rasbora is the slow-moving streams of the tropics. The waters in these areas tend to be dark and filled with plants. You may not always be able to see your fish well, but rest assured that a well-planted tank will be what makes your harlequin rasbora the happiest.
The mosquito rasbora is one of the smallest fish you can have in your community tank, rarely growing to more than an inch in size. This fish is an eye catching species that is one to consider if you want a peaceful group of fish. With lovely red colors and an easy going demeanor, the mosquito rasbora will get along well with your other fish.
Most people keep mosquito rasboras in long tanks of around 10 gallons or more. The larger the tank, the better, so that you can keep larger groups of mosquito rasboras and also add other community fish. You have plenty of options in terms of tankmates – the only ones to avoid are any that might try to eat them.
Cherry barbs tend to have poor reputations, but it’s not appropriate. This fish has a poor reputation because of the tiger barb, which is a popular aquarium fish for it’s gorgeous appearance but is actually a notorious nipper of fins. However, not all barbs are nippy, and the cherry barb, with its gorgeous rosy appearance and friendly personality, is one of them.
Cherry barbs can tolerate a wide range of water conditions as long as the water is clean and appropriately cycled. These fish can be housed with any other kind of peaceful aquarium fish, but as shoaling fish, it’s recommended that you keep them with at least five others of their own kind. Like the rasbora, this fish prefers waters that are densely vegetated and even has some leaf litter.
The dwarf gourami is a peaceful addition to the top layer of the water column in your community tank. A timid species, this fish is often avoided by aquarium hobbyists who believe it will be too territorial. However, most dwarf gouramis actually do quite well in community settings, just as long as their tank mates are carefully selected.
Dwarf gouramis need to be housed in calm environments. Water flow should be strong and the tank should not contain any overly aggressive or energetic neighbors. In some cases, you also need to be careful about placing fish who are overly boisterous or even brightly colored in the tank with your dwarf gourami. Instead, you would be better off choosing small schooling fish like rasboras or loaches.
The sparkling gourami is a less common species of gourami that is absolutely perfect for a community tank. Only growing to about an inch and a half in size, this fish is perfect for small aquariums – you’ll only need about ten gallons in order to keep it happy.
This fish prefers lots of planted areas and ample cover. You might want to consider long-rooted plants that float ore vein terracotta pots. These labyrinth fish are evolved to breathe air, so it’s also important that you provide them with some open space above the top of the water. Otherwise, it is very easy to set up a tank for these fish, whose natural habitats are calm and acidic.
Dwarf pink fish are native to South America and while they aren’t the most popular species of fish for an aquarium, they still are fantastic additions to any tank.
These fish are truly dwarves, only growing to about an inch in length. You can keep up to twelve of these striped specimens in a tank of only 15 gallons, provided that it is long. You should house this fish with calm tank mates who don’t eat small fish, because they can easily become tasty snacks for larger inhabitants.
Dwarf pink fish are usually found in shallow, calm waters with low hardness and acidity. They don’t like a heavy water flow and do better in planted tanks – avoid bare set-ups whenever possible.
Even if you are brand new to the fishkeeping hobby, you have probably heard of the popular guppy. This livebearing fish is popular for so many of its characteristics – its long, flowy fins, its beautiful colors, and it’s easy breeding ability. These fish are also excellent additions to a community tank.
Guppies are best housed in long 15-gallon aquariums. They aren’t overly demanding when it comes to water but tend to do best when housed in hard, alkaline water. These fish breed easily and are a great species to consider if you are interested in housing additional guppies in your community tank.
You have probably already heard of the colorful molly fish – this is a hardy, popular fish that you can add to your aquarium. Selectively bred into multiple colors and body shapes, there are plenty of variations on molly fish for your tank. While the classic color is black, you can also get orange, dalmatian, white, or sunburst mollies at most aquarium stores.
So what do you think? Is that enough information for you to get started? This list is by no means exhaustive – there are dozens of other good community fish you can keep in your freshwater aquarium. However, this should get you started as you establish your own beautiful aquarium of community fish.