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In this article, I am going to show you 15 tropical fish species that are great for setting up a colorful and exciting community aquarium. My goal was to create a list of fish that are fun to keep and easy to take care of at the same time.
The fish market is huge and it is important to know which are those species that are popular, colorful and also compatible with each other. I also wanted to make sure that there is no need to tweak the water parameters that much and to pick those fish that are not particularly picky when it comes to their diet.
I believe that the tropical species I am going to talk about below are going to be interesting both for beginners and experienced fish keepers. Beginners can learn a lot in the process, while advanced hobbysts are surely going to enjoy the beauty and personality of these tropical fish. Enjoy!
1. Guppy Fish
When it comes to the Guppy fish, there is a wide palette of colors and patterns to choose from. This fish can be as fancy as it gets while also being hardy, making it an ideal choice for beginner fish keepers.
If you want the really colorful ones for your aquarium, then you should look for the males.
Female Guppies are not essential for a community tank, except if you buy them with the goal of breeding them. Since the water temperature is the parameter they are most sensitive to, you need to keep it consistent and between 50-84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall, it is easy to buy or prepare food for Guppies and they are really not that picky. They are omnivorous species that need to eat plant-based and meat-based foods as well.
2. Molly Fish
Whether it is plain colored or mixed with some pattern, the Molly is always a delight to look at because of its decorative fins. This tropical fish species is rather flexible when it comes to water conditions and prefers a pH between 7.0-8.0.
If you want to set up a fish tank of omnivorous fish that can consume the same foods, the Molly fits well into the picture.
They are livebearers, just like most other hardy fish that people like to keep at home. You could set up a pretty interesting tank just by populating it with Mollies if you would like to.
Breeding them is not a problem either, as it comes naturally for them no matter the water conditions. If you want to avoid it, then I recommend you to keep only males or females.
3. Swordtail Fish
The Swordtail is somewhat similar to the Guppy and Platy fish, except that it has a long and pointy tail.
It pretty much looks like a sword, which is how this species got its name. They can flourish in a range of different colors, allowing you to choose the ones you like the most.
Swordtails might look fancy but they really don’t have any special needs. They can adapt to a range of water parameters and feeding them is not going to be a big deal either.
This species is also compatible with all of the other fish on my list thanks to its peaceful temperament.
The Swordtail is a schooling fish that is going to liven up your aquarium thanks to its energetic nature.
4. Platy Fish
If you take your time and look for it, then you can find Platies in some of the craziest color combinations. It is simply breathtaking how many different Platies there are in the market that would look amazing in a community aquarium.
The Platy fish get along especially well with Mollies and Guppies, which is why fish keepers often keep all three of them in their tank.
I recommend keeping them in a group of at least 5 individuals since they are schooling fish.
I have to note that you need to feed more plant-based to them than meat-based because they are omnivores with a herbivore preference.
I came to the conclusion that I can’t really make a tropical species list without mentioning the Angelfish, so here you go! The fins of this species pretty much look like wings and their body is often decorated with a horizontally striped pattern.
They are absolutely glorious and there are many color varieties to choose from. These cichlids thrive on an omnivorous diet, which means that you have a lot of options when it comes to feeding them. They prefer the water to be slightly acidic and soft.
I don’t recommend keeping them with significantly smaller fish and also make sure that your aquarium is not overcrowded.
Gouramis usually have a nice vertically striped pattern that looks kind of pixelated because of the size of their scales. Their vivid colors are surely going to liven up your tank.
They are completely beginner-friendly, you only need to make sure that they can swim up to the water surface to get some air.
Gouramis need to swim up every now and then because they are Labyrinth fish so they can breathe air.
Living in a busy community tank is not an issue for them at all thanks to their peaceful nature. Using some floating or rooted plants is always a plus when you keep this species.
7. Betta Fish
The Betta fish is widely kept for its long, floating fins and exciting color varieties. This is probably the fanciest fish you are going to find on my list that is also very easy to take care of. They are basically the beginner fish keeper’s dream.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you can’t really keep more than one male because they are aggressive towards each other. When it comes to other fish species, they are perfectly fine with the most popular peaceful aquarium fish.
Don’t shy away from buying a bigger tank if you can because Bettas really need it. I’m only saying this because Bettas are often seen in smaller aquariums.
8. Bristlenose Pleco
The Bristlenose Pleco is probably the most popular catfish you can find in the aquarium trade.
What makes this species stand out is that it has plenty of bristles protruding from its nose. Their suckermouth makes it easy for them to gobble up some algae near the substrate.
Although Bristlenose Plecos are always on the lookout for algae, you need to make sure they have enough food throughout the day.
If you are looking for tropical fish to breed, then the Bristlenose is definitely not for you as they are very hard to breed.
9. Corydoras Catfish
The Corydoras is the next catfish I am going to recommend for your home aquarium. Corys are a bit more active than Bristlenose Plecos and they are also bottom-dwellers. Their main mission is to look for that delicious algae and consume it all.
They might be fast-swimming, yet they are peaceful at the same time. They are not going to bother any of your other fish and enjoy each other’s company in a group. Don’t keep them together with aggressive fish and they are going to be fine.
The Corydoras Catfish is often kept for its cleaning capabilities, as they collect and consume leftover foods in the tank.
If you are looking to keep a colorful fish species in your aquarium that is also beginner-friendly, then I can always recommend you to keep a Tetra.
They are widely popular in the aquarium trade, especially among hobbyists who are just starting out.
Watching them as they move in a group is a fantastic sight to look at, as they are schooling fish.
They feel safe when they are together and they also want no trouble with other fish thanks to their peaceful nature.
The fact that they are omnivores and rather hardy makes them easy to take care of.
Tetras are tropical fish species that prefer acidic water, which you need to consider when looking for tank mates.
Barbs have eye-catching, shiny scales and they can be caught in so many interesting colors that it’s simply unbelievable. With their 1.5 inches, they are one of the smallest fish on my list. Get a few of them and they are going to look amazing in your aquarium.
These little beauties absolutely love well-planted tanks so make sure there is plenty of greenery inside. I would recommend you to put in some driftwood and floating plants as well. Keeping Barbs in a group of 5 is the minimum but you should still get a few more if you can.
Loaches are widely kept in community tanks because of their friendly personality.
Feeding them is going to be especially exciting, as they love to interact with other fish. Being a schooling fish, the Loach loves to hang out with its own species as well.
In my opinion, the best way to keep them is to buy 5-6 of them right away.
Loaches are carnivores so you need to feed them plenty of freeze-dried and live foods but it can be some commercial flake or pellets as well.
They spend all their time near the substrate scavenging for food while their tank mates are swimming above them.
13. Discus Fish
If you can afford to buy a bigger aquarium, then by all means do so and then you can keep some Discus fish as well. The large oval-shaped body of this species is covered by detailed patterns and a combination of bright colors.
The fact that Discus are one of the bigger species on my list makes them even more graceful. I simply had to add it to my list, although I can’t really recommend it for beginners.
In order to keep a Discus at home, you need some experience and also to learn a thing or two about their diet and the recommended water parameters.
You can keep them with other fish as long as they prefer the same water parameters. The Discus fish thrives on meat-based foods and prefers to eat blood worms and beef heart, although minerals and vitamins are also necessary.
14. African Cichlids
Just to make things clear right from the beginning, African cichlids are definitely not for beginners. There are some species in the family that are peaceful and easier to take care of but even those are not completely beginner-friendly.
The problem with them is that most of them are very territorial and you need to know exactly how to set up the aquarium for them. You need to cut their line of sight using decoration and plants. Also, if you fall into the mistake of keeping them with significantly smaller tank mates, they are going to eat them.
Other than that, African cichlids are fun to keep and there are plenty of colorful species to choose from. I only recommend them to experienced fish keepers who did the research on them.
The Killifish is really something out of the ordinary thanks to its unusual elongated body and beautiful colors.
There are countless variations available with breathtaking patterns and color combinations which makes this species an essential part of a colorful community tank.
Killifish are not sensitive at all and I can light-heartedly say that they are one of the hardiest fish on my list. Another advantage is that they are peaceful, which makes it easy to keep them together with other tropical fish. Just don’t put two or more males together because they are not going to tolerate each other.
With this list, I wanted to make sure that your new tropical community tank will be as exciting as it gets. It only depends on you and your wallet how many of the aforementioned fish you actually want to keep in your aquarium. Of course, you need to match the tank size to the amount of fish you want to keep and to the needs of each species.
I recommend that you read a bit more about each of the fish you are interested in so that you learn about their needs. Although most of them are rather hardy and undemanding species, there are still a few nuances you better know about. After all, learning about the topic is one of the main things that is going to make you a better fish keeper.
I hope you are going to have a lot of fun with your new aquarium! After a while, if you need a new challenge, you can consider keeping some more demanding species with complex needs and temperaments.Fishkeeping