The 39 Most Colorful Freshwater Aquarium Fish

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Dive into the vibrant world of freshwater aquarium fish with our comprehensive guide to the most colorful species available. Each entry on our list showcases stunning hues and patterns that will elevate any aquarium to a new level of beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or just starting out, these fish are sure to dazzle and inspire, offering a kaleidoscope of colors to brighten your aquatic landscape.

Most Colorful Freshwater Aquarium Fish
Most Colorful Freshwater Aquarium Fish

As hobbyists, we know how it feels when passing by a beautiful fish tank full of healthy, unique fish. You’d be amazed to learn how many colorful fish types are suitable for a freshwater home aquarium.

At one point in my fish-keeping journey, I had the goal to find the most brightly colored species and to add them to my aquarium.

During my research, I stumbled upon many stunning breeds and each of them was a worthy candidate for a cool-looking centerpiece specimen.

I have so many favorite freshwater fish with bright, pretty colors that I can’t miss the chance to share at least half of them with you.

So let’s find out what fish are the most colorful in the freshwater aquarium hobby!

The Top 39 Most Colorful Freshwater Aquarium Fish

For this list, I’ve managed to collect photos of fish who have at least three body colors, including on their fins.

Have a look at the most colorful freshwater fish for your aquarium:

1. Blue Gularis Killifish

A Blue Gularis Killifish swimming diagonally
A Blue Gularis Killifish – Image By ZaevaSarain
Adult Size:3 – 5.1 inches (up to 12 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons but 30 would be better
Water Temperature Range:72 to 79°F (22 – 26°C)
Suitable for beginners:Not the best option for new hobbyists due to their semi-aggressive temperament towards other males of their kind and their relatively large adult size

If you are looking for a multi-colored tropical fish for your aquarium, the Blue Gularis Killifish is one of the best choices.

The Blue Gularis Killifish belongs to Fundulopanchax genus of egg-laying killifish.

Have in mind that though they can live among other tank companions, these colorful fish feel best when having their own, planted tank.

2. Eggersi Killifish

Eggersi Killifish in a planted tank
Eggersi Killifish in a planted tank – Image By WitchSlap
Adult Size:1.5 – 2 inches (around 5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Water Temperature Range:Between 72 and 77°F (22 to 25°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, if you keep a single male Eggersi per aquarium

The Eggersi Killifish species are known among hobbyists for their bright blue-ish and red coloration and have a reputation of a peaceful freshwater fish. The Eggersi Killifish is one of more than 70 species from the Nothobranchius genus of small killifish.

If you consider adding this species to your colorful community aquarium, remember that male Eggersi Killifish tend to show aggression toward other male Killifish.

3. True Red Terror Cichlid

true red terror cichlid
True red terror cichlid – Image By WarStrategy
Adult Size:Males grow to up to 18 inches (45.7 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:180 gallons
Water Temperature Range:72 to 86°F (22.22 to 30°C)
Suitable for beginners:No

Coming from the Mesoheros genus, the True Red Terror Cichlid is, in my opinion, the prettier alternative to the more popular Green Terror Cichlid.

This species grows large and is territorial, so I would not ever recommend it to a beginner in the hobby.

Once you get the experience, however, do give the Red Terror Cichlids a try as it’s very entertaining to watch them color up when guarding their spawn.

male red terror cichlid guarding spawn
Male red terror cichlid guarding spawn – Image By Andy woods cichlids uk

The colors of the males become really intense when “patrolling”.

4. Paradise Gourami Fish

A beautiful Paradise Gourami Fish
A beautiful Paradise Gourami Fish – Image By Spike240sx
Adult Size:4 inches (about 10 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons
Water Temperature Range:61 to 75°F (16 to 24°C)
Suitable for beginners:Not really recommended if you don’t have a little bit of experience and if you haven’t looked after any aggressive fish before

I stumbled across the Paradise Gourami, a member of the Macropodus genus, when I was searching for an aquarium fish with bright orange or red colors.

They immediately caught my attention with their pretty, rich orange and blue color patterns.

Another advantage of theirs is that they can tolerate cooler water temperature, but be careful with their violent attitude towards other male Gourami fish.

5. Apistogramma Macmasteri

A vividly colored Apistogramma Macmasteri
A vividly colored Apistogramma Macmaster – Image By Chritterr
Adult Size:2.5 – 3 inches (about 7 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons
Water Temperature Range:78 – 82°F (24 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, after doing some reading on the species

The Apistogramma Macmasteri is an excellent example of an eye-catching, exotic fish that will bring vivid colors to your tropical freshwater aquarium.

These Apistogramma species from the large genus Apistogramma have yellow, blue, reddish, and orange color patterns. These fish are among the smallest species of dwarf cichlids, which makes them an ideal addition to a smaller planted aquarium.

However, be careful when placing males together with other males, as they can be quite territorial.

Creating lots of hiding places in a 20-gallon aquarium is a good idea for helping these beautiful fish settle.

6. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

A school of White Cloud Mountain Minnows
A school of White Cloud Mountain Minnows – Image By CMReaperBob
Adult Size:1.4 inches (3.6 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Water Temperature Range:59 to 71°F (15 to 22°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

If you are in search of a small yet colorful fish for your home aquarium, the White Cloud Minnow comes to mind as a fantastic option.

Tanichthys, the name of their genus, has its origins in the name of the Chinese Boy Scout, Tan, who discovered the first specimen.

These minnows grow to a tiny size of 1.4 inches and have lively silver stripes, contrasted by a dark green body and bright red dorsal and caudal fins. They are also a great choice as non-aggressive fish that can live in coldwater freshwater aquariums and are a suitable schooling species for beginners.

7. Chili Rasbora Fish

Close-up of a small, brightly-colored Chili Rasbora
Brightly-colored Chili Rasbora – Image By amanofscience
Adult Size:up to 0.78 inches (2 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons
Water Temperature Range:75 to 82.4°F (23.9 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:No

The Chili Rasbora is a nano freshwater fish which belongs to the small genus known as Boraras. Those specimens usually grow to about 0.8 inches and petrify with beautiful color patterns and contrasting bright stripe that crosses the length of their bodies.

Chili Rasboras are a great addition to a colorful community aquarium with small and peaceful inhabitants, as these fish are very tiny, and timid.

Chili Rasboras feel best in tropical waters and when in a school of at least 6.

Related: 16 Tiny Freshwater Aquarium Micro Fish

8. Red Neon Stiphodon Goby

A colorful Red Neon Goby resting on the aquarium's substrate
A colorful Red Neon Goby – Image By animalia21
Adult Size:up to 2 inches (5cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons for a single fish, 20+ for a school
Water Temperature Range:70 to 82°F (21 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

The neon Stiphodon Goby from the genus known as Stiphodon is equipped with a fascinating orange and reddish coloration (seen mainly in males).

In my opinion, the Red Neon Stiphodon Goby is one of the most interestingly colored fish, and in addition – they have a peaceful nature which makes them a preferred companion for a vivid community aquarium.

Related: Community Fish That Would Best Fit a Social Freshwater Aquarium

9. Snakeskin (Cobra) Guppy Fish

Snakeskin Guppy fish with a colorful tail
Snakeskin Guppy fish with a colorful tail – Image By TheJoshDillon
Adult Size:up to 1.5 inches (up to 3.8 – 4 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons because Guppies have a very low bioload
Water Temperature Range:72 to 80°F (22 to 28°С)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

One of my favorite Guppies these days is the Cobra guppy because of the radiant red, blue, orange, and green patterns, which may even resemble a tiger in some specimens.

These livebearer fish are part of a genus named Poecilia.

Originating from South America, Guppies are known around the whole world, and lots of beginner hobbyists choose to add them to their peaceful fish tanks.

10. Celestial Pearl Danio

A Celestial Pearl Danio with vivid color patters
A Celestial Pearl Danio – Image By IsaacMTSU
Adult Size:close to 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10+ gallons for a school of 6 to 7
Water Temperature Range:between 71 and 78°F (21.6 to 25.5°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

I’m deeply impressed by the beauty of the Celestial Pearl Danio fish, with the orange and violet dots, delicately crossing their distinctive silverish bodies.

The Celestial Pearl Danio is a part of the genus named Danio, meaning “of the rice field” translated from Bengali.

They’re not aggressive, and I recommend choosing them as a colorful schooling fish for your subtropical freshwater aquariums.

11. Clown Loach

A school of Clown Loaches in an aquarium
A school of Clown Loaches – Image By blobb123
Adult Size:5.9 to 12 inches (between 15 and 30.5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:70 gallons for a single specimen, but 150 gallons for a school of 5
Water Temperature Range:77 to 86°F (25 to 30°C)
Suitable for beginners:A certain amount of experience is needed as this fish requires pristine water quality and a very large tank in order to remain healthy

Known also as a Tiger Boatia, the Clown Loach is the only member of the genus Chromobotia.

Their very cool stripes, which look much like those of an actual tiger, make this fish one of the most popular species for a vibrant aquarium.

They get along with other peaceful fish, can also eat pest snails, and are a perfect choice if you want to add some exotic presence in your tropical fish tank.

12. Chinese Hillstream Loach

A Chinese Hillstream Loach on a rock
A Chinese Hillstream Loach – Image By Bangshak
Adult Size:up to 3 inches (around 7 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:55 gallons for a school of 3 to 4 fish
Water Temperature Range:68 to 75°F (20 to 23.8°C)
Suitable for beginners:Not recommended for beginners, as those fish need special conditions such as moderate water currents in a large aquarium

Sometimes called the Spotted Loach, the Chinese Hillstream Loach cannot stay out of your focus with its vivid dotted and labyrinth-like patterns.

This fish from the Pseudogastromyzon genus is well-known as a social and active species, so it is happy when in a group of at least three others of its kind.

13. Samurai Gourami Fish

A Samurai Gourami with red and blue patterns enjoying its planted aquarium
A Samurai Gourami enjoying its planted aquarium – Image By myth1n
Adult Size:up to 2 inches (about 5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons for a school of 6 fish
Water Temperature Range:75 to 80°F (between 23 and 26°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

The Samurai Gourami fish are known for the dark red bars, covering the sides of their light blue bodies.

Samurai Gouramis like the ones from the Sphaerichthys genus are shy fish, and they feel best when kept in a group.

14. African Butterfly Fish

Two African Butterfly Fish showing off their color saturation
Two African Butterfly Fish – Image By ry5458
Adult Size:around 5 inches (12 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:40 gallons
Water Temperature Range:73 to 86°F (22 to 30°C)
Suitable for beginners:Not the best choice for a first fish, because they require high maintenance and pristine aquarium water

The African Butterfly Fish is one of the most captivating fish I have seen.

This water surface hunter is a member of the Pantodon genus.

The color combination of their dark patterned butterfly fins makes them a subject of curiosity amongst the other hobbyists as well.

15. Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow

A Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow Cichlid showing its vibrance
A vibrant Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow Cichlid – Image By kilroy
Adult Size:around 5 to 5.9 inches (up to 14 – 15 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:75 gallons
Water Temperature Range:75 to 80°F (24 – 26°C)
Suitable for beginners:No

Once you see this tropical fish, you can’t forget its beautiful, flamboyant rainbow tints.

The Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow, as the name suggests, belongs to the Tropheus genus which inhabit all regions of Lake Tanganyika.

Be careful when selecting tank mates, as sometimes the Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow Fish can be rather aggressive.

16. Red Phantom Tetra

A large school of Red Phantom Tetras showing their contrasting colors
A large school of Red Phantom Tetras – Image By Waul
Adult Size:about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters)
Minimum Tank Size:15 gallons for a small school of 5 fish
Water Temperature Range:69 – 77°F (21 – 25°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

Unlike what their name suggests, the Red Phantom Tetras are quite easy to spot and recognize, thanks to their red and orange bodies.

Known generally as a peaceful fish, Red Phantom Tetras from the Hyphessobrycon genus get along with many other smaller and non-aggressive fish.

17. Pygmy Sunfish

A Pygmy Sunfish swimming across aquarium plants
A Pygmy Sunfish – Image By shinyshiny42
Adult Size:1 inch (2.54 cm), though they usually remain at less than that
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons
Water Temperature Range:between 68 and 74.3°F (between 20 and 23.5°C)
Suitable for beginners:No, because of strict dietary needs for live foods

Looking for a cool nano fish with neon blue coloration that can fit in your new 5-gallon aquarium? No need to look further, The Pygmy Sunfish is exactly what you need to see.

Coming from the Elassoma genus, the Pygmy Sunfish also is liked for its charming breeding behavior.

The Pygmy Sunfish have a calm temperament, so mix them with other peaceful nano fish, in your heavily-planted fish tank. They also do great in a species-only aquarium setting.

18. Banded Rainbowfish

Two Banded Rainbowfish with extremely vibrant color
Two Banded Rainbowfish – Image By Burningfyra
Adult Size:about 5 inches (12.5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:60 gallons for a group of 6 specimens
Water Temperature Range:70.0 to 79.0°F (21.1 to 26.1°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

Depending on the area the Banded Rainbowfish is coming from, their bright colors may vary from red and green, to yellow and purple.

The Banded Rainbowfish is one of over 80 known species in the Melanotaenia genus.

Easy to take care of, friendly and calm, this fish is one of the best choices for a colorful and peaceful aquarium.

Related: 11 Easiest Fish to Take Care of in a Low Maintenance Aquarium

19. Bolivian Ram

A colorful Bolivian Ram Cichlid in a planted fish tank
A colorful Bolivian Ram Cichlid in a planted fish tank – Image By manuallaborsucks
Adult Size:3 inches or 7.6 centimeters
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons is the absolute minimum and a larger tank is preferred
Water Temperature Range:75 to 83°F (24 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

Also known as Bolivian Butterfly Cichlid, the Bolivian Ram is an incredibly beautiful fish that never ceases to amaze with its intense and diverse pigmentation and color patterns.

These spawning fish from the genus Mikrogeophagus, are native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America.

Anyways, my experience has been that this fish is an excellent fit as a centerpiece species for a non-aggressive community in planted fish tanks.

Related: Cool and Pretty Freshwater Aquarium Fish from Around the Hobby

20. Kribensis Cichlid

A Kribensis Cichlid with vibrant coloration
A Vibrantly Colored Kribensis Cichlid – Image By EmperorGestahl
Adult Size:about 3 inches (close to 7.6 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons for one fish
Water Temperature Range:the sweet spot is between 78 and 80°F (25 and 26°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, in a single-species tank

The African Kribensis Cichlids, members of a genus known as Pelvicachromis, are one of my personal favorites because of their extraordinary coloration and patterns.

I find their rainbow-like appearance and dotted fins extremely interesting.

If kept with the right companions, they remain moderately aggressive, so keep them with other passive and peaceful species.

Suggested read: 10 Types of African Cichlids

21. German Blue Ram

german blue ram
A German Blue Ram – Image By Jinxieruthie
Adult Size:3 inches (7.62 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallon-tank
Water Temperature Range:84 to 86°F (29 to 30°C) as high water temperatures are necessary for this species
Suitable for beginners:Some experience is needed

The German Blue Ram is one of the few cichlids that would fit a medium-sized community tank with tropical temperatures.

Same as the Bolivian Ram, the German Blue Ram is a member of the Mikrogeophagus genus.

They do well with most other fish in their temperature range and have a stunning body coloration.

I would recommend trying them out as a centerpiece species in a tank with smaller, less colorful fish that school together.

22. Scarlet Badis

A Scarlet Badis fish with bright red and neon blue colors
A Scarlet Badis fish with bright red and neon blue colors – Image By kharma_chameleon_
Adult Size:1 inch, but usually remains under 0.8 inches (2 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons for 1 male and 4 females
Water Temperature Range:between 68 and 78.8°F (20 to 26°C)
Suitable for beginners:No

The Scarlet Badis, which belongs to the Dario genus, is a small freshwater fish that displays bright neon-blue and red colors.

It is suitable for peaceful community aquariums, full of other tiny fish because other bigger species can make a snack out of the Scarlet Badis.

Keep in mind that the Scarlet Badis prefer mainly live food, and they like a lot of aquatic plants in their fish tank.

23. Glowlight Danio

A Glowlight Danio with colorful body patterns
A colorfully patterned Glowlight Danio – Image By Sergev1001
Adult Size:1.1 inches (2.8 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons Long and other Long tanks
Water Temperature Range:19 – 24°C (67 – 76°F)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

The Glowlight Danio is an example of a nano fish with luminous colors, such as green, orange, turquoise, and green.

Both the Glowlight Danio and the Celestial Pearl Danio are part of the same Danio genus.

This brightly-colored fish is the schooling type, so it will be most happy in a group of at least 6 other Glowlight Danios.

24. North American Rainbow Darter Fish

A small Rainbow Darter Fish that's amazingly colorful
An amazingly colorful small Rainbow Darter Fish – Image By ZTHerper
Adult Size:between 2 and 3.5 inches (up to 9 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20+ gallons
Water Temperature Range:60 to 68°F or 15 to 20°C (in general, they prefer cooler water)
Suitable for beginners:a certain level of experience required, especially when it comes to the food, as they are known for being picky eaters

Are you looking for a bright-colored and peaceful companion for your new fish tank?

The North American Darter Fish is a suitable option for you, as they get along with other tank mates and will make your aquarium even more vibrant with their neon blue fins and vivid body patterns.

This species is part of the very numerous genus known as Etheostoma.

Interesting fact: The Rainbow Darter fish do not have a swim bladder, and therefore you won’t see them floating here and there around the tank.

25. Pumpkinseed Sunfish

A centerpiece Pumpkinseed Sunfish with beautiful colors
A centerpiece Pumpkinseed Sunfish – Image By EZaquaculture
Adult Size:4 inches on average but some reports claim 10 inches or more (10 centimeters on average)
Minimum Tank Size:55+ gallons
Water Temperature Range:between 61 and 71°F (16 to 21.6°C)
Suitable for beginners:No, previous experience with aggressive species is required

The Pumpkinseed Sunfish has some radiant colors – bright yellow, orange, and sometimes even blue or green patterns.

The Pumpkinseed Sunfish is one of the recognized species in the Lepomis genus.

Before you get one, however, don’t underestimate the fact that they can become quite aggressive and dominant, regardless of gender.

Don’t keep them together with other larger and territorial fish.

26. Blood Parrot Cichlid

A Blood Parrot Cichlid that has a bright orange coloration with pink hue to it
A bright orange Blood Parrot Cichlid – Image By Rafini
Adult Size:up to 8 inches (up to 20 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:30+ gallons for a single fish
Water Temperature Range:between 75 and 82°F (24 to 27.7°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, these fish are hardy

Although Blood Parrot Fish are mainly colored in intense orange or pink, sometimes they can come with a different pigment, such as yellow or even grey.

Presented as a man-made hybrid, they come from the Cichlidae family.

Keep them in a fish tank with large species who are equally peaceful, because the smaller ones could turn into prey.

27. Redfin Shiner

A brightly colored Redfin Shiner fish in an aquarium
A brightly colored Redfin Shiner fish – Image By double_chili_cheese
Adult Size:up to 3.5 inches (8.9 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:55 gallons for a school of 6, or any tank with a length of over 36″
Water Temperature Range:between 57 and 75°F (14 to 24°C)
Suitable for beginners:No

The Redfin Shiners are colorful fish from the genus named Lythrurus, and have bright and rich silver and green bodies, giving a finished vivid look to your aquarium.

Originating from Illinois, USA the Redfin Shiners are schooling fish, and a group of around 6 or 7 will live well among other fish with the same activity and temperament.

28. Roseline Shark

A Roseline Shark fish with contrasting red and black stripes
Contrasting red and black striped Roseline Shark – Image By Jose Cardona
Adult Size:5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:75+ gallons but go for a 125 gallon one if you can afford it
Water Temperature Range:72 to 77°F (22.2 to 25°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

The Roseline Sharks always amaze me with their unique, vivid body colors and the dark stripe that crosses them.

This fish comes from the Sahyadria genus, native to the Sahyadri Mountain in India.

If you want to keep a Roseline Shark, bear in mind that they need to be in groups of at least 5 in order to peacefully inhabit the tank, as this prevents aggression among them and the other fish.

Related: Small & Big Freshwater Pet Fish That Look Like Sharks

29. Congo Tetra

Two beautifully colored Congo Tetra fish swimming together in a planted aquarium
Two beautifully colored Congo Tetra in a planted aquarium
Adult Size:up to 3 inches (7.6 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons
Water Temperature Range:between 74 and 80°F (23.3 to 26.6°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

Congo Tetras are another representative of the rainbow-colored fish, although they have some showy dominant colors in the orange spectrum.

The Congo Tetras species of the Phenacogrammus genus are also schooling fish.

By keeping them in a group of 6, you will be sure that your aquarium remains a peaceful piece of colorful heaven.

30. Pearl Gourami

A stunning Pearl Gourami in its planted tank
A stunning Pearl Gourami – Image By yackim
Adult Size:4.5 inches (11.5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:20 gallons
Water Temperature Range:76 to 81°F (24 to 27°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, but do provide good water quality for these fish despite them being supposedly hardy

The Pearl Gourami has its name well deserved, as the pearly appearance is the first thing you notice when you look at this magnificent fish.

The Pearl Gourami is from a genus named Trichopodus, the name of which is composed of two Ancient Greek words – “hair” and “foot”.

Pearl Gourami Fish are considered hardy because of their tolerance to low oxygen environments, and as long as you have 2 females for each of the male Pearl Gouramis, you can expect a harmonious atmosphere in the aquarium.

31. Peacock Gudgeon

A super colorful Peacock Gudgeon siwmming in its aquarium
A super colorful Peacock Gudgeon – Image By wodesorel
Adult Size:2.5 to 3 inches (6.3 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:15+ gallons for a single specimen
Water Temperature Range:from 71 to 80.5°F (between 21.6 and 25.6°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

Here we come to one of my personal favorites in this colorful list.

The Peacock Gudgeon is an aquarium nano fish that has fantastic yellow, blue, pink, and silver markings all over its body.

This species is in the family Eleotridae the members of which are also known as “Gudgeons”.

These fish are also incredibly friendly and get along with a wide range of other species, especially when you keep them in a school.

32. Marble Betta Fish

A Marble Betta fish with a colorful body pattern
A colorful Marble Betta fish – Image By weebro55
Adult Size:3 inches at most, but usually remains around 2.7 inches
Minimum Tank Size:3 gallons for a juvenile and 5 gallons for a single adult specimen as a bare minimum. See some adequate fish tank options for a Betta fish
Water Temperature Range:75 to 82°F (24 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

The majestically-colored Marble Betta fish will catch your eye the second you look at it.

Depending on the breed, these tropical fish may have 4 to 5 different and bright colors placed all over their bodies, especially on the fins.

The Marble Betta fish belongs to the large and well-known Betta genus.

Moreover, the Marble Betta fish have a gene that makes the fish randomly change its entire body color every couple of months. This makes keeping a Marble Betta ten times as exciting.

Before taking one, though, don’t forget the Betta fish is one of the most territorial fish, so either keep it alone or be very careful when choosing its tank mates.

33. Spotted Rainbowfish

Blue-Eyed Spotted Rainbowfish
Blue-Eyed Spotted Rainbowfish – Image By mangroveassassin
Adult Size:1.5 inches (around 3.8 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:15 gallons for a school of 6 specimens
Water Temperature Range:between 72 and 84°F (between 22 and 29°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, but it takes some knowledge to breed them successfully

Silverish with some blue marks and pinches of a glowing rainbow, the Spotted Rainbowfish from the Pseudomugil genus will enrich the brightness of your planted aquariums.

On top of that, this tropical fish is one of the most peaceful freshwater creatures you can stumble across, and they get along with almost any other fish.

34. South American Diadema Cichlid

Two vibrantly-colored Diadema Cichlids
Two vibrantly-colored Diadema Cichlids
Adult Size:about 4.8 inches (about 12 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:40 gallons Long
Water Temperature Range:75.2 to 78.8°F (24 to 26°C)
Suitable for beginners:No, experience with aggressive fish will be needed

Coming from the Aequidens genus, in different color variations, such as yellow, bluish, and reddish, with a dark strap in the middle, the Diadema Cichlid can be a colorful addition to a large community fish tank.

Although Diadema Cichlids stay relatively small in size, these fish can be quite aggressive towards their tankmates, so it’s best for them to be kept with large cichlids or other large predatory fish.
Related: 14 Best Foods for Cichlids That Need More Growth & Color

35. Flowerhorn Hybrid Cichlid

A Flowerhorn Cichlid in a fish tank
A Flowerhorn Cichlid – Image By xrhonzz007
Adult Size:12 inches on average (30 cm) but up to 16 inches (40 cm) are possible
Minimum Tank Size:75 gallons
Water Temperature Range:82 – 86°F (27.7 – 30°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes, just don’t forget they need space and keep them singly

Once you see a Flowerhorn Hybrid Cichlid, I guarantee that you won’t forget its distinctive, vivid colors, which may greatly vary from red, to orange and even blue.

The Flowerhorn Hybrid Cichlid belongs to the Cichlidae family, and they, like the blood parrot cichlids, are a hybrid species.

Despite their unique beauty, these tropical fish are aggressive, and the best decision here would be to keep them alone or with other aggressive species in a big enough tank with lots of hiding spots.

36. Discus fish

Multiple colorful Discus Fish
Multiple colorful Discus Fish – Image By AliNier23
Adult Size:up to 6 inches (15 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:75 gallons
Water Temperature Range:84 to 87°F (28.8 – 30.5°C)
Suitable for beginners:No, it’s a delicate species that needs stable aquarium parameters

Discus are quite the cool fish, immediately grabbing your attention with their various color patterns and interesting body shape.

A favorite among connoisseurs, this fish is from the genus known as Symphysodon.

Discus fish are most happy when they live in a group where the females will be slightly more than the males.

Also, suitable tank mates are fish with the same high water temperature tolerance.

37. Clown Killifish – Epiplatys annulatus

A pair of cute Clown Killifish swimming beneath the water’s surface in a planted tank
A pair of cute Clown Killifish – Image By gabibakos
Adult Size:1.4 in (3.6 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons
Water Temperature Range:67 to 80°F (19.4 to 26.6°C)
Suitable for beginners:Yes

This is one of the best fish to stock your 10-gallon aquarium with!

Tiny as they might be, clown killifish (Epiplatys annulatus) will rarely go unnoticed in an aquarium.

These cold water nano fish have a yellow body that’s covered in black stripes and boast a gorgeous multicolored tail.

To top it all off, they have striking azure eyes that neatly blend with the markings on their tail.

Even though their beauty isn’t fleeting, their stay in your aquarium might be if you don’t keep them under a tight lid.

38. True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby – Brachygobius xanthomelas

A True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby resting on a green leaf in a planted aquarium
A True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby – Image By JamesWoodsAllDay
Adult Size:1.2 inches, but they usually stay under an inch (2.5 to 3 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Water Temperature Range:71.6 to 82°F (22 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:No

The True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby from the Brachygobius genus is well deserving of its name.

This miniscule rascal won’t miss an opportunity to “sting” or rather nip at the fins of goldfish, tetras or other long-finned species.

Moreover, they have a bi-colored, blue and yellow body which is highly reminiscent of their terrestrial namesake.

Fortunately, you can mitigate the aggressive tendencies of bumblebee gobies by keeping them in a school or dare I say, hive, of at least six fish.

39. Electric Blue Jack Dempsey – Rocio octofasciata

An Electric Blue Jack Dempsey swimming over a rock with some driftwood in the background
An Electric Blue Jack Dempsey – Image By zer0signal
Adult Size:10 inches (25.4 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:At least 55 gallons for one fish
Water Temperature Range:74 to 81°F (23 to 28°C)
Suitable for beginners:A certain amount of experience and knowledge is required since these fish can get highly territorial

Electric Blue Jack Dempseys can certainly pack a punch when they’re kept with smaller tank mates.

But unlike the late boxer of the same name, you’ll see their punches coming from miles away.

That’s because the body color of these cichlids darkens when they get aggressive.

As entertaining as this might be, it’s best to keep Jack Dempseys in a single species tank where they won’t harass other fish. Contrary to their occasional violent tendencies, Jack Dempseys are actually one of the most compassionate fish in the hobby. Not only do they not eat their fry, but they also pre-chew food for their babies.

How to make your pet fish even more colorful?

You might be thinking that adding a couple of vivid fish into your tank is enough for it to reach its full potential for color saturation.

What if I told you there’s an option for your aquarium to become even more colorful?

This can easily be done by taking proper care of your pet fish by encouraging a healthy diet:

All you need to do is to feed your fish quality freeze-dried or live foods, and you will see how their colors change from bright to fascinating in just a few days. On top of that, the fish will be healthier and, hence, happier.

Be careful when choosing the live food source, because if they are not coming from a trusted vendor, they can carry parasites and bacteria.

My recommendation here is to play it safe and choose freeze-dried foods, which are sterilized, and therefore bacteria and parasite-free.

The main advantage of freeze-dried foods is that although sterilized, they preserve their nutritional qualities.

Here’s a depiction of what a day of feeding high quality bloodworms can do to improve the brightness of a fish’s colors:

Before and after color enhancement in Betta Fish
Before and after color enhancement – Image By how_fedorable

Starting with freshwater aquarium fish

I know once we have the idea of setting up a new aquarium, we are impatient, and we want it to happen in the fastest way possible. However, there are some basics we need to follow before adding live fish to the tank.

An essential part of making a freshwater aquarium ready for inhabitants is “cycling” it. Otherwise, your new fish will keep perishing one by one, and no one wants that.

Anyway, in the process of cycling, beneficial bacteria establish themselves in the tank. These bacteria eliminate toxic components such as ammonia and nitrite, making the tank a safe and healthy home for ornamental fish.

It usually takes around 8 to 10 weeks to completely cycle a new aquarium naturally.

However, if you don’t want to wait for so long, there’s a great way to speed up the process:

You can add live bacteria supplements to start an aquarium. Visit the link to learn more about aquarium bacteria starters and how to use them.

With some help from these products, you can cycle your fish tank in just 2 weeks, and it will be ready for your bright and colorful pet fish.

Which fish did you like most from the list above?

Drop me a comment below and share your favorite freshwater aquarium fish with pretty colors.

What are ideas for colorful fish in a freshwater aquarium?
What are ideas for colorful fish in a freshwater aquarium?

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Momchil Boyanov is the Founder and now Senior Editor of AquAnswers. He has over 13+ years of experience in keeping home aquariums as well as providing professional aquarium services. Momchil has had his fair share of adventures in aquarium care. He has made MANY mistakes throughout his fishkeeping journey and thus learned A LOT. Through Aquanswers, Momchil shares knowledge about freshwater and saltwater aquariums with the people within this community.

15 thoughts on “The 39 Most Colorful Freshwater Aquarium Fish”

  1. I am just starting a 20 gal tank with the basic fake plants good gravel a dozen small tetras etc 3 black f fan tail guppies two each 2″ flame gouramis and dwarf silver somethings and oh yes 3 catfish. All seem happy except the catfish who are frantic in the corner when not racing up and down. I will reduce the hardness to help
    the catfish I hope but you have scared me by advising weeks of conditioning with bacteria before I even add fish one
    Help plz

    • Hey, no need to fret. Test your water to get a better read of your numbers. Catfish should have a few buddies and plenty of space to hide to feel happy as well. I have had a few Catfish when first introduced act quite frantic for a bit before calming down as well.

  2. Hi

    I am setting up my first community tank of 66 Gallons,
    I plan to have it moderately planted and would like to manly have small tropical schooling fish, and would like to have some recommendations of some colorful schooling fish,

    Thank you for taking time to reply

    • Hello,

      That’s a great idea. I have an article about schooling fish ideas which you might find helpful. Just type schooling fish in the search bar of the website (bottom of the page on mobile and top right on desktop) and you’ll find it.

      Good luck.

  3. Nice list! Though it did make me giggle seeing the pumpkinseed sunfish on here, I had no idea they were in the aquarium trade. Growing up in the Eastern US, I caught them all the time when I was a kid!

    • Thanks, Iona! I personally think Native North American fish are underrated. I’m sneakily trying to popularize them one at a time.

  4. I find this article extremely useful. I’m setting up a new tank and wanted to have different types of fish from what I already have in my other tank. Thank you

    • I’m glad it was helpful to you.

      Good luck with the new tank!


  5. Do you ship to Canada? What happens if the fist arrive dead? Thank you!

    • Hello,

      I personally don’t ship anywhere, because I don’t sell anything. However, some online stores do ship to Canada I believe. This article is just a collection of fish ideas for beginners.


  6. I would like to buy some unusual fish. Where can I get them.

    • Hi,

      You can take a look at my article about online fish stores. Shipping is more costly, but you have access to virtually anything.

      Just look up “online fish store” in the search bar of my website.



  8. Hey are any of these fish suitable for High PH (8.0) and 16 DGh water hardness? im struggling on my last few options currently have 3 corys and 3 guppies in a 56 litre

    • Hi K A,

      Most African Cichlids tolerate higher pH levels well and also prefer hard water. However, I don’t think that any cichlid species will be suitable for the tank mates you listed.

      I would recommend trying platies (cool bright orange colors), swordtails (really beautiful), and/or mollies.

      Paradise fish could also tolerate higher pH and water hardness, however, they prefer subtropical water conditions and tend to be a little on the aggressive side.

      Hope this helps!

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