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Create A Rainbow Of Color In Your Tank With The Most Popular Colorful Fish

So you’ve made the decision to start a freshwater aquarium. Good for you! Raising fish is an enjoyable endeavor that will keep you happy and entertained for years to come. However, choosing the right fish for your tank can be a hefty task in itself.

These fish will be with you for many years, so you don’t want to make the mistake of choosing the wrong fish for your needs and preferences. Instead, you should do your research ahead of time to make sure you are selecting the most beautiful and most colorful fish.

There are some species of fish that are known specifically for their gorgeous appearance, particularly their vibrant colors and vivid patterns. If you care about the appearance of your fish as they swim among the plants and decorations in your tank, you should consider raising one of these most colorful fish.

Colorful Fish

1 Mandarinfish


The mandarinfish is a popular saltwater fish and is a member of the dragonet family. There are multiple members in this family, but perhaps the most popular (and most colorful!) is the striped mandarin fish. This illustrious creature is found in the Pacific Ocean and looks not unlike a goby. It has a blue base and pronounced orange stripes.

These fish can be challenging to keep as they prefer to live in saltwater environments. In addition, they have strict dietary requirements in that they will reject pellet and frozen food and only eat live foods. However, if you are willing and able to meet these challenging demands, the mandarinfish could be an excellent choice for your aquarium.

2 Discus


The discus fish is one of the most popular aquarium fish. Found in movies, advertisements, and other media platforms, this fish is perhaps one of the most famously patterned fish of times. Belonging to the Cichlid genus, this fish is native to the Amazon River and comes in a variety of gorgeous colors. You can find it in yellow, purple, blue, orange, red, pink, and more. They also come with numerous types of bodily markings and solid colors

3 Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish

The clown triggerfish is also known as the big spotted triggerfish. Native to saltwater environments, this fish grows exceptionally large – in many cases, reaching up to 19 inches in length. The fish has a stocky body that is colorful, comprised of a black base and a yellow mouth. It also has white spots.

Clown triggerfish are known for moving around the decorations within their tank, o you’ll want to make sure any decorations or objects in your tank are secured well. You should not add a clown triggerfish if you have a reef environment in your tank, but a live rock tank is acceptable.

4 Rainbow Parrotfish

Rainbow Parrotfish
Photo by Kevin Bryant

The name here says it all! Rainbow parrotfish are absolutely gorgeous, and are named as such because of their strange mouths. These fish have teeth that seem to be stuck together, creating, in essence, a sort of beak. This beak helps the rainbow parrotfish scrape algae off of coral.

These herbivores are some of the largest in the Atlantic Ocean, growing well over one meter in length! These fish are very difficult and expensive to raise as a result, requiring large aquariums of at least 200 gallons and plenty of food as well.

Rainbow parrotfish are known for their bright colors, and can be found in all kinds of shades  including orange, brown, green, and blue. You should try your best to match the conditions of your tank to the rainbow parrotfish’s natural habitat, as it can be tough for them to adapt when they are placed in captivity.

5 Peacock Cichlid

Peacock Cichlid
Photo by Shane Ruth

The peacock cichlid is one of the most popular varieties of cichlids – and also one of the most colorful. This fish is a great choice for beginning aquarium hobbyists, as it is easy to raise and gets along well with most other aquarium inhabitants. It has vertical stripes and can be found in a number of colors, including blue, red, yellow, orange, and even gold.

6 Golden Sailfin Molly

Golden Sailfin Molly

Mollies are one of the easiest species you can raise in a freshwater tank. While they are often found in pale, muted tones, there are some varieties that are remarkably colorful. One of these is the golden sailfin molly. This fish has a spotted golden pattern with a silver base and is a great choice for beginners, as it has a calm, peaceful demeanor.

7 Crowntail Betta

How Long Do Betta Fish Live 3

The crowntail betta is a popular fish with a gorgeous color and design. This fish can be found all over the world, but is native to Southeast Asia. While most species of bettas are gorgeous to look at, this one is something special. It can grow to nearly three inches and length and comes in a variety of colors.

8 Male Betta

How Long Do Betta Fish Live 4

If you are considering raising a betta fish of any kind for its gorgeous appearance, make sure you always select a male betta. Only the males will display the gorgeous colors of the species, with the females possessing more subdued tones. Male betta fish use their vibrant colors and long, flowing fins as a way of attracting females.

They are sold  in a variety of hues and gradients, with popular shades including blue, purple, white, red, yellow, orange, and more. And don’t get confused if you head to the pet shop and see these fish sold under the name of Siamese Fighting Fish – it’s simply another name given to these lovely fish.

Interestingly, betta fish don’t have the same gorgeous colors in the wild as they do when they are being raised in captivity. Instead, they have more muted tones that are designed to help them blend in with their native environments of floodplains and rice paddies. Bettas are labyrinth fish, consuming oxygen from the air as well as through their gills. If you are considering raising betta fish, just make sure you only keep one at a time – the males are extremely aggressive and will frequently fight to the death.

9 Fantail Guppy

Fantail Guppy
Photo by ziggy_lilja

This lovely guppy isn’t just colorful, but it also produces an elaborate show of a rainbow-like display whenever it moves. It has a range of body patterns and colors, and it’s hard to find a guppy that doesn’t represent every color of the rainbow! With multiple color schemes to choose from, this guppy is distinguished by its elaborate, graceful fan tail.

10 German Blue Ram

German Blue Ram

This is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium species you can raise – not just because it’s a gorgeous freshwater fish, but also because it has a relaxed, peaceful demeanor that makes it the low-key star of any tank. This fish is a member of the Cichlid family and has bright scales with blue dots over its fins. It also has noticeable patches of color on its stomach and near its eyes. You will also see a few dark stripes on this fish’s body, the latter of which can be red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, and more.

11 Gourami

Photo by Phil Hayward

The gourami is another popular freshwater fish. It also comes in multiple color combinations and patterns and is found in fish tank aquariums across the world. This fish is native to southeast Asia. there are multiple colors and varieties available, with some of the most common including the Red Fire Dwarf Gourami, the Banded Gourami, and the Blue Gourami.

12 Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

Boeseman’s Rainbowfish
Photo by Ricky Romero

Boeseman’s rainbowfish offers a splash of color (no pun intended!) to any fish tank. This fish is highly sought after by aquarium hobbyists all over the world. Native to Indonesia, it is now found globally as one of the most popular aquarium species. This fish has a light gray body with dark lines. The rear portions of its body are a vibrant orangish red.

13 Threadfin Butterflyfish

Threadfin Butterflyfish
Photo by Tom Barnes

This gorgeous fish doesn’t just have an elegant name – it has a beautiful appearance to match it, too. This fish has a bold personality and can reach lengths of up to nine inches. It is a very calm, peaceful species that gets along well with other inhabitants of your tank. It is frequently photographed and has a pearly white body. This white body fades into a buttery yellow shade towards its back tails, and it also has diagonal black lines that look not unlike a classic chevron pattern.

If you’re considering raising threadfin butterflyfish, just make sure you have plenty of space. These fish require lots of swimming room, meaning you will need a tank that is no smaller than ten gallons in size.

14 Regal Angelfish

Regal Angelfish
Photo by Zsispeo

You’d be hard pressed to find an angelfish that wasn’t gorgeous, but the regal angelfish is perhaps one of the most illustrious. This fish is elegant and lovely to gaze upon, but it should be noted that it is also incredibly difficult to raise in an aquarium.

Why? These fish grow quite large, often reaching length of ten inches or more. They require plenty of space to swim around, as well as ample hiding spots. They like coral reefs as well as plenty of caves, crevices, and cracks. You also have to be careful about when and from where you purchase your regal angelfish, because those that hail from the Indo-Pacific region were often caught using chemicals and therefore won’t survive for very long in your aquarium.

As with all other fish, it is important that you quarantine your regal angelfish for several weeks to make sure they are healthy. They have a hard time adapting to aquarium life, and so it’s recommended that you only purchase young, healthy angelfish.

15 Banggai Cardinalfish

Banggai Cardinalfish
Photo by Toshihiro Gamo

The banggai cardinal fish is native to Indonesia. This elegant fish is usually found in coral ledges and sea anemones, and is entirely nocturnal. They feed in large groups during the night and are exceptionally sociable creatures. They require lots of space in a fish tank, but once you get them there, you won’t mind making a little extra room. These gracious fish have golden bodies accentuated by long black fins and pronounced white spots, making the star of any freshwater tank.

16 Moorish Idol

Moorish Idol
Photo by Omar Flumignan

If you’ve ever been snorkeling – or seen advertisements for snorkeling – you probably already know what the moorish idol looks like. This fish is found in just about every underwater photograph, common to both the coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean., it has large vertical stripes in black and white, as well as a yellow patch toward the back of its body.

These fish look not unlike butterflyfish, but are not actually in the same family. They can grow up to nine inches in size, and although they are difficult to raise in captivity due to their complex feeding and space requirements, they are absolutely worth it.

17 Flame Angelfish

Flame Angelfish
Photo by Nathan Rupert

Another popular fish for your freshwater aquarium is the flame angelfish. A dwarf angelfish, this species is a great choice for beginner and experienced fishkeepers alike. It has a rich red body with black vertical stripes, along with blue dorsal and anal fins. This fish is unique in that its colors vary depending on where in the world it is found. In Hawaii, for example, this fish tends to be larger and in possession of a deeper coloration.

18 Picasso Triggerfish

Picasso Triggerfish
Photo by Volker Wurst

The picasso triggerfish isn’t just colorful, it’s also interesting to look at based on its shape. Also known as the humuhumu triggerfish, this fish has a wacky appearance. It has a tan colored body and blackish blue stripes. Its facial shape is pronounced and while this fish can be aggressive, it can be housed with a variety of other large fish.

19 Clownfish

Photo by R-Studiodesign .nl

The clownfish rose to fame in the Disney Pixar movie Finding Nemo, but this fish is so much more than just cartoon character inspiration. Most members of the clownfish family or yellow, orange, or red, but many can be found with vertical white lines. These fish only grow to about three inches in length, but larger ones can grow to double that size – reaching a whopping six inches or more!

These fish are omnivores, eating both animal and plant matter. They will even eat algae and small zooplankton. These medium-sized fish are well adapted to life in most aquarium environments.

20 Killifish

Photo by Peter Maguire

The killifish is found all over the world and is a gorgeous fish species that you can add to your freshwater tank. There is some sexual dimorphism among this species, as females tend to be much less vibrant than males. However, females can also make a fantastic addition to a tank. Males tend to have bright blue and yellow patterns with orange stripes that reach all the way to their fins.

21 Electric Blue Ram

Electric Blue Ram
Photo by Ruby_lou1987

The electric blue ram is a bright blue colored fish with an outstanding personality. It is a peaceful, sociable fish, and although it looks aggressive, is anything but. These fish grow up to three inches in length and should be housed with other non-aggressive species like tetras and discus fish.

22 Royal Gramma

One of the brightest fish of the Caribbean, this saltwater species is a bright purple in color. It appears almost electric, possessing a yellowish gold tail and a golden stripe. It is a hardy fish, ideal for both beginner and experienced fish keepers alike. It is playful and fun to look at, making it a great choice for your saltwater tank.

23 Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid
Photo by David Leuken

The flowerhorn cichlid isn’t just a colorful fish for you to add to your tank – it’s also one that has a bizarre appearance that makes it the star of any show. This fish stands out among the crowds with a protruding head – it looks not unlike a horn. This fish has petal-shaped markings and can be a bit aggressive, so you won’t want to keep it in a tank with more sensitive species.

24 Juvenile Emperor Angelfish

Juvenile Emperor Angelfish
Photo by Flávio Cruvinel Brandão

Another common angelfish on this list is the juvenile emperor angelfish. This fish has a dark black body along with bluish white highlights. It looks almost electric, and although it is challenging to raise in that it must live in a saltwater aquarium, it adds a great amount of interest to your tank in return.

Juvenile emperor angelfish must live in large tanks of at least 125 gallons. Water temperatures should be maintained at around 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and pH should be around 8.1 to 8.4 these fish grow to be quite large, with juveniles ranging from four to six inches in length.

Should I Raise One of These Colorful Fish?

If you’re looking to up your fishkeeping game by introducing some gorgeous new additions, look no further than this list of colorful aquarium species. You can collect every color in the rainbow while maintaining your tank – just make sure the species you select have similar water and companion requirements, and you’ll have no other issues to worry about.

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