10 Easy Coldwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners

You must be quite familiar with aquarium fish from tropical regions. This is to say that such fish species need a heated aquarium to replicate their natural habitat in the tropics.

But do you know you can keep cold water aquarium fish in an unheated aquarium? Here is a comprehensive list of ten best coldwater aquarium fish for beginners.

Easy Coldwater Aquarium Fish

Easy Coldwater Aquarium Fish

1. Goldfish



Goldfish are among the most popular fish kept in tanks as pets. Known as breeding tubercles or breeding stars, goldfish need a tank capacity of 20 gallons or more.

The right water temperature for this colorful fish is 61 to 72 degree Fahrenheit with a pH level of about 7.2 to 8. So, depending on where you house them, goldfish do not require a heater to feel good in their environment.

Omnivorous by nature, goldfish grows to a length of 25 cm. This coldwater aquarium fish comes in various shapes and sizes.

The males develop tiny white bumps on their operculum and pectoral fins. As a hobbyist, you will require to change at least 50% of tank water once a week to maintain tank conditions.

Goldfish are among the most peaceful and slow swimmers tank fish you will ever come across. This means that their tank mates should be of the same behavior and temperament.

Their ideal region in the tank is in the middle where they spend most of their time. Make sure that their living environment has enough tank plants to mimic their natural habitat in the wild.

2. Zebra Danios

Zebra Danio Fish

Zebra Danio Fish

Zebra Danios are an entertaining and spirited cold water aquarium species that thrives best in a 20-gallon tank.

These fish are considered to be among the most peaceful species, suitable for a community tank.

The tank should have the right conditions with water temperature ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH level of about 6.5 to 8.

Native to Ganges River of Eastern India,  these fish are the curious species who spend their time chasing each other around and exploring their immediate environment.

That explains why you need to include holes, caves and other interesting features in their aquarium.

One striking characteristic of Zebra Danios is their social behavior. These aquatic creatures prefer swimming in schools of six or 8 and can grow to a length of 5 cm.

When mating, these fish become very choosey, meaning that they don’t just pair up with any available mate, but go for what they like.

Omnivores by diet, Zebra Danios eat both vegetables and meaty foods. So, you may provide them with live and frozen foods such as bloodworms, flake foods, fish pellets and a few vegetables to balance their diet.

Zebra Danios are active and prefer swimming in the upper region of the tank. With that in mind, you may provide them with enough swimming space, diffuse lighting, and vegetation around their tank environment.

3. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Minnows

White Cloud Minnows

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are easy to maintain, thus a perfect choice for beginners. Their ideal environment should have a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The recommended pH for their survival lies between 6 and 7. These cold-water fish thrive best in groups of six. They can live comfortably in a tank with a minimum capacity of 15 gallons, now that each can grow up to 3 cm in length.

Carnivorous by habit, White Cloud Mountain Minnows need animal diet mostly.

When it comes to breeding, these fish prefer being separated and placed in another tank away from the original one.

Ensure that their aquarium is equipped with clumps of tank plants and spawning mops. Also, gentle filtration using sponge filters will provide them with the right conditions to swim around, breed and feed.

Speaking of feeding, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, prefer live foods to keep them healthy and active in their tank environment.

4. Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs are magnificent cold water ornamental fish that adds vibrancy to the aquarium. These little aquatic animals are bred primarily for their beautiful colors.

As a shoaling species of fish, you are advised to keep at least five of them in one tank. Failure to do so will result in some tiger barbs becoming aggressive.

The minimum tank size for these fish is 24 inches or 60 centimeters. During the setting up of the tank, try to mimic their natural habitat.

Provide plenty of room for them to move around with enough hiding places. Ideally, add a few plants to their aquarium including small rocks and driftwood.

Tiger barbs adapt well to a pH of 6.0 and 8.5 but it is recommended that you provide them with the soft or slightly acidic water environment. Apart from that, a tank water temperature should range from 74 to 79 degree Fahrenheit.

Since they are omnivorous, tiger barbs can feed well on a variety of fish food. These include plant matter, small crustaceans, and worms.

In the real sense, your Tiger barbs should be given plenty of meaty foods and vegetables. You can supplement this with high-quality flake foods as a base.

Other supplements such as frozen and live foods can be included in their normal diet on some occasions.

5. Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs

Of all the nano fish known so far, Cherry barbs stand out as classic and beautiful cold water aquarium fish. This is due to their adaptability, hardiness, and ease of breeding.

Besides, the fish are cheaper on the market, making them the best choice for beginners and experts alike.

These beautifully colored fish thrive in tank water temperatures of about 72 to 78 degree Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0.

The minimum tank capacity for Cherry barbs is 10 to 20 gallons although a larger tank will do better.

When it comes to care and maintenance, these little fish takes the first slot. As omnivores, their diet consists of high quality frozen or dried foods.

Ensure that the food is of appropriate size. Include a few vegetables in their food to create a healthy, balanced diet.

Their social behavior categories these tiny fish into peaceful and schooling fish. This should tell you that their tank mates need to be of the same behavior to avoid conflicts.

In most cases, they occupy the middle region of the tank. Adults can grow up to 2 inches although you are most likely to come across smaller ones as well.

6. Hillstream Loach

Hillstream Loach

Hillstream Loach

They are a unique type of coldwater aquarium fish. If you want to raise them as ornamental fish, you must always provide them with an environment similar to their natural habitat.

These small fish are native to Jiangxi river in South China and can grow up to 9 cm in length. With a lifespan of 8 years, Hillstream Loaches can live comfortably in a 45-gallon fish tank.

As bottom feeders, these unusual fish feed on algae and other types of fish food. As such, you may provide them with small blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, butterflyfish and cyclops.

They can thrive well in tank water temperature range of 68 to 75 degree Fahrenheit. The ideal pH for these tank fish is about 6.4 to 8.1.

Unlike other cold water aquarium fish, Hillstream Loaches do not require plants in their environment. But if you want to include plants in their tank, it is wise to choose between Anubias and Fiddleheads.

When you decide to keep at least 4 of these fish in a tank, ensure that the tank has a capacity of 50 to 60 liters. The bottom substrate should be composed of small rocks, gravel, sand, and stones.

7. Dojo Loach

Dojo Loach

Dojo Loach

Also known as weather loaches, Dojo loaches are one of the large loach species kept in aquariums.

They were named after their unusual ability to display strong reactions to changes in weather conditions.

As coldwater aquarium fish, you can provide them with a tank setup of about 120 cm or 47 inches.

The ideal tank water temperature for these fish ranges from 59 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, although they can withstand lower temperatures for a while.

Since they are bottom dwellers, Dojo loaches prefer a substrate they can spend most of their time burrowing.

So, fine sand will be a better choice for their substrate. On top of that, you must provide enough hiding places for them.

8. Stiphodon Goby

Stiphodon Goby

Stiphodon Goby

The Stiphodon goby is a beautiful fish species with its origin in the Far East.

These fish are famous for their attractive characteristics, causing a sensation among cold water aquarium hobbyists.

One of the most prominent features is the stunning coloration with an iridescent blue line running from the tail fin to the head.

The Stiphodon goby can grow to a maximum size of 2 inches when conditions in their environment are conducive.

These fish prefer a well-established fish tank environment that replicates their natural habitat. Ensure that the aquarium is well-aerated with water circulating as required.

The ideal tank water temperature should be between 56 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 5.6 to 6.8.

Also, the tank should have rocks of different sizes to give an impression of a tumbled streambed. However, the recommended tank capacity for Stiphodon goby is about 20 gallons.

A tight-fitting lid is also necessary to prevent escape.

When feeding your Stiphodon goby, the food should be in small particles that can fit in their mouths. This fish species feed mainly on algae and detritus found on the river rock but you can supplement their diet with high-quality flake foods, fish pellets, wafers, tubifex worms, and free-dried bloodworms.

9. Paradise Fish

Paradise Fish

Paradise Fish

Native to some parts of Asia, Paradise fish are considered one of the best cold-water aquarium fish. These beautifully colored tank fish can thrive in a water temperature of about 50 to 71 degree Fahrenheit.

Being a labyrinth fish, these aquatic creatures need the labyrinth organ to let in air.

Given that they are territorial fish, males shouldn’t be left in the same tank. Instead, they should be kept in a ratio of one male for every two females.

Their perfect tank size should be 80 cm wide to accommodate them. The tank must also have enough aquatic plants, several floating plants, and driftwood.

Even though their behavior varies from one fish to another, Paradise fish are relatively social as well as active. But males are somehow aggressive and you will see them competing with females in almost anything.

On the other hand, females are smaller in size but grow larger when they’re carrying eggs.

You will always see them swimming towards the surface in order to breathe using the labyrinth, as opposed to gills.

Apart from their colorful texture, Paradise fish have blue or black spots on their bodies. Their caudal fins are curved and forked but sometimes they appear rounded.

10. Bloodfin Tetras

Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin Tetra

Bloodfin tetras come out as another type of gorgeous coldwater aquarium fish. This species of fish can be a great addition to community tanks that are 30 gallons and more, just like many other tetra fish types.

This is because they are shoaling fish and will most likely spend their time swimming around in schools.

Bloodfin tetras are easily identified from their shining silver bodies. The bodies have striking blood-red coloration that is visible on their fins, thus the name.

These fish can grow to about 2 inches in length and can thrive well when placed in a school of not less than six.

The main reason why schooling fish are housed with others of the same kind is to minimize insecurity and prevent stress.

If housed in smaller numbers than required, schooling fish will probably get stressed and become territorial. This is the same case with Bloodfin tetras.

Native to South America, Bloodfin tetras can live up to 4 to 6 years under good tank conditions.

Their ideal tank water temperature is 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of about 6 to 7.5. At the age of 6 months, these fish are ready for reproduction.


As a newcomer in the aquarium hobby, you must have found this list to be helpful. Even though there are numerous coldwater aquarium fish species, the ones mentioned above are appropriate for beginners.

This means that you don’t need to be an expert to maintain them as such. Anyone with interest in this hobby can easily handle them without the need for special skills.

Fishkeeping   Updated: October 18, 2019
avatar Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *