Good Fish for Starting a Tropical Fish Aquarium

If you’ve made the decision to set up your own tropical fish aquarium, then even after a small bit of research you’ll understand there’s quite a lot to it. Here at Pond Planet, we want to make those early steps of research and setting up your tropical fish aquarium a bit more plain sailing, which is why we’ve put together a small list of ideal species for those who are new to a tropical aquarium. 

What Is A Tropical Fish?

A tropical fish is usually one who needs to live in a heated aquarium, similar to the warmer oceans and waters around the world. They can be split into two categories depending on where their species originates:

Freshwater Fish

Freshwater fish are those who can usually be found in lakes, rivers, and wetlands. This means they are used to living in diverse types of water and can survive in a range of temperatures. Their gills are adapted to diffuse water of impurities and to ensure that they are able to process a lot of water at once.

Saltwater Fish

Saltwater fish can originate from a wide variety of habitats; arctic oceans, warm seas, coral reefs, deep seas and more. Their bodies are adapted to a wide variety of temperatures and can be a bit more tricky to care for.

So what fish species are the best tropical fish to start off with in your tank?

Best Species of Tropical Fish for a Beginner Aquarium 

Tropical fish can be the most attractive types of fish that you can inhabit your aquarium with. Decorated with bright colours, extravagant fins and eye-catching looks, is it any wonder everyone is desperate for a tropical fish aquarium? However, some species can be quite difficult to care for! Originating from all over the world, tropical fish can have particularly specific needs that need to be met. We’ve got a small list of a couple of easier tropical fish to get started with your aquarium on, but we still advise you spend a lot of time researching and understanding what type of fish will best suit you.


Tetra fish are one of the most popular tropical fish species that aquarium keepers choose. Mainly originating from South America, they are used to well-oxygenated, tropical waters. Averaging at less than an inch long they are tiny, brightly coloured fish that love to live within a shoal. Tetra’s are available in a variety of colours and sizes, each with their own distinguishing markings, depending on their type. 

With the taste for pretty much anything, tetras are easy to feed and are well known for their love of hiding places – making them perfect for tanks decorated with rocks and plants and ideal for mixing with other fish who are just that bit shy. Low maintenance and good to look at, it’s no wonder tetras are the number one choice of tropical fish for a starter aquarium. 


Guppies, or as you might know them Rainbow Fish, are another lower maintenance tropical fish that you could home in your new tank. Like tetras, guppies are known to eat a wide variety of foods – making them an easy roommate to other fish. Despite being small in size, they are known for doubling their numbers very quickly and so it’s important to keep the size of your aquarium in mind when choosing how many guppies you want to home in it. As the name suggests, these rainbow fish are beautifully colourful, with their rear fins providing an attractive, patterned design.  

Used to the warm freshwater of South America, these fish need heated water that replicates their original habitat with a pH of 7. With the perfect, tropical aquarium set-up, guppies are peaceful fish that are ideal for beginner tanks that can ease you into caring for tropical species.

Zebra Danios

Danios usually grow to 3-6cm long, making them an easy choice for tropical tank sharing with a great range of other tropical species. Originally from small rivers in Asia, the zebra danio fish still require a lot of space to swim and dart around the tank with each other; meaning they need to be kept in small groups in order to be happy. 

As they are used to swimming down streams, danios are used to changes in water pH, but it is still important to keep the tank heated to approximately 24 degrees celsius, as with most other tropical fish. Their ability to eat a wide variety of food means they join the list of lower maintenance fish types for starter tanks to choose from, that requires less specific attention than more complicated fish types.


Well-known for being a peaceful, brightly coloured fish species, platies should ideally be kept together in a small group to happily roam the tank together. Originating from Central American rivers, the platies are used to small bodies of warm water that have no current – making them ideal for a heated aquarium, as you can easily replicate these conditions.

Requiring a diet high in vegetables, the feeding requirements of platies aren’t very comprehensive and they will eat most types of food. The ideal choice to start your tropical aquarium with, platies are a playful species that will definitely be able to show you the fun side of aquarium keeping.

Spend some time researching tropical fish and what they require. As a beginner, it’s important to start off slowly and not rush into populating your tank, as this can lead to problems for the fish that you choose to keep. These four species are low maintenance and are perfectly suited for beginners to the hobby – but that doesn’t mean they still don’t require careful care and attention like all species. Browse our full aquarium range at Pond Planet and find the best size, style and accessories to suit your needs and that of your chosen inhabitants.

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