34 Colorful & Beautiful Freshwater Aquarium Fish

A Super Colorful Freshwater Peacock Cichlid 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.

Nowadays, 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.

34 Colorful and Vivid Freshwater Aquarium Fish

Have a look at the most bright-colored freshwater fish for a beautiful aquarium:

1. Blue Gularis Killifish

A Blue Gularis Killifish swimming diagonally

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.

Have in mind that though they can live among other companion fish, they feel best if they have their own, planted fish tank.

2. Eggersi Killifish

Eggersi Killifish in a planted tank

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 the hobbyists for their bright blue-ish and red coloration and have a reputation of a peaceful freshwater fish.

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. Paradise Gourami Fish

A beautiful Paradise Gourami Fish

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 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.

4. Apistogramma Macmasteri

A vividly colored Apistogramma Macmasteri

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 have yellow, blue, reddish, and orange color patterns.

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

Creating lots of hiding places in the aquarium is a good idea with these beautiful fish.

5. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

A school of White Cloud Mountain Minnows

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.

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.

6. Chili Rasbora Fish

Close-up of a small, brightly-colored Chili Rasbora

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: Yes

The Chili Rasbora is a nano freshwater fish that grows to about 0.7 inches and petrifies with its beautiful color patterns and the contrasting bright stripe crossing the length of its body.

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

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

Related: 16 Tiny Freshwater Aquarium Micro Fish

7. Red Neon Stiphodon Goby

A colorful Red Neon Goby resting on the aquarium's substrate

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 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

8. Snakeskin (Cobra) Guppy Fish

Snakeskin Guppy fish with a colorful tail

By TheJoshDillon

Adult Size: up to 1.5 inches (up to 3.8 – 4 cm)
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
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.

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

9. Celestial Pearl Danio

A Celestial Pearl Danio with vivid color patters

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.

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

10. Clown Loach

A school of Clown Loaches in an aquarium

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 has very cool stripes, which are similar to those of an actual tiger, which makes 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.

11. Chinese Hillstream Loach

A Chinese Hillstream Loach on a rock

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 is a social and active species, so it is happy when in a group of at least three others of its kind.

12. Samurai Gourami Fish

A Samurai Gourami with red and blue patterns enjoying its planted aquarium

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 are shy fish, and they feel best when kept in a group.

13. African Butterfly Fish

Two African Butterfly Fish showing off thier color saturation

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.

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

14. Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow

A Tropheus Kasanga Rainbow Cichlid showing its vibrance

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.

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

15. Red Phantom Tetra

A large school of Red Phantom Tetras showing thier contrasting colors

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 get along with many other smaller and non-aggressive fish.

16. Pygmy Sunfish

A Pygmy Sunfish swimming across aquarium plants

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?

No need to look further, The Pygmy Sunfish is exactly what you need to see.

The Pygmy Sunfish have a calm temperament, so mix them with other peaceful nano fish, in your heavily-planted fish tank.

17. Banded Rainbowfish

Two Banded Rainbowfish with extremely vibrant color

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.

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

18. Bolivian Ram

A colorful Bolivian Ram Cichlid in a planted fish tank

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.

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

19. Kribensis Cichlid

A Kribensis Cichlid with vibrant coloration

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 Kribensis Cichlids 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.

20. Scarlet Badis

A Scarlet Badis fish with bright red and neon blue colors

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 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.

21. Glowlight Danio

A Glowlight Danio with colorful body patterns

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.

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

22. North American Rainbow Darter Fish

A small Rainbow Darter Fish that's amazingly colorful

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.

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.

23. Pumpkinseed Sunfish

A centerpiece Pumpkinseed Sunfish with beautiful colors

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.

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.

24. Blood Parrot Cichlid

A Blood Parrot Cichlid that has a bright orange coloration with pink hue to it

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.

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

25. Redfin Shiner

A brightly colored Redfin Shiner fish in an aquarium

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 that 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.

26. Roseline Shark

A Roseline Shark fish with contrasting red and black stripes

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.

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

27. Congo Tetra

Two beautifully colored Congo Tetra fish swimming together in a planted aquarium

By satansearthworm

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 are also schooling fish, and by keeping them in a group of 6, you will make sure that your aquarium remains a peaceful piece of colorful heaven.

28. Pearl Gourami

A stunning Pearl Gourami in its planted tank

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.

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.

29. Peacock Gudgeon

A super colorful Peacock Gudgeon siwmming in its aquarium

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.

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

30. Marble Betta Fish

A Marble Betta fish with a colorful body pattern

By weebro55

Adult Size: 3 inches (without the fins)
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.

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

The Marble Betta fish have a gene that makes them randomly change their entire body colors every couple of months.

This makes the keeping of Marbles ten times as exciting.

31. Spotted Rainbowfish

Blue-Eyed Spotted Rainbowfish

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 30 °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 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.

32. South American Diadema Cichlid

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 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.

33. Flowerhorn Hybrid Cichlid

A Flowerhorn Cichlid in a fish tank

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.

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.

34. Discus fish

Multiple colorful Discus Fish

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.

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.

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 bloodworms can do to improve the brightness of a fish’s colors:
Before and after color enhancement in Betta Fish

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.

In the process of cycling, beneficial bacteria establish themselves and 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.

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.

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