Most Colorful Freshwater Fish For Aquarium in 2021

Colorful fish are beautiful to look at and add a whole new dimension to your home. Being spoiled for choice is a good thing, and when it comes to colorful fish, you will definitely have a very large selection to sift through. There are so many out there in fact that it can get a bit confusing. Besides the color, there are other features you’ll need to take into consideration, all of which will be discussed here, so keep reading to find out more.


Gourami

Gourami

Gouramis are very colorful freshwater fish; and there are some that are more colorful than others. The Flame Dwarf Gourami is exceptionally bright blue, and the skin turns into a bright red color as it gets towards the tail. The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami is just as its name suggests, with spots of reddish orange. The gourami enjoy swimming through thick foliage, and they can live peacefully with other species.

Gouramis originate from Asia, living in slow-moving canals, marshes, swamps, rivers, wetlands, and temporary pools. In the wild, they live in acidic, soft water, but they adapt well and can also survive in alkaline waters.

The majority of gouramis are omnivorous, they eat shrimp pellets, tropical granules, color flakes, and Aqueon Tropical Flakes.

Care Level: Relatively easy, but to prevent disease their tank water needs changing often

Do They Pair Well: Yes, but depending on the fish, the males can become territorial.

Tank Size: 10 gallons and above

Endler’s Livebearer

Endler’s Livebearer

The most popular Endlers’s Livebearer species is the Red Flame variety because of its combination of green/teal and electric red coloring. They are small fish, and need harder water than other species; Endler’s Livebearers are friendly fish, but they don’t school. It’s important to mention that the males are not as colorful as the females, they are a dull silver color.

Endlers originate from Venezuela; they were first discovered by a man named Franklyn F. Bond. But they were later rediscovered by Dr. John Endler, and the species were named after him.

In the wild, Endlers Liverbearers eat a diet of small insects, algae, and plant matter. But you can feed them a combination of live and frozen foods including bloodworms, flake food, blackworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, blanched zucchini medallions, shelled and blanched peas.

It’s important to mention that you should not house Endlers Livebearers with common guppy species because they will crossbreed with them, which will dilute their genes.

Care Level: Easy to care for, a beginner can look after these fish

Do They Pair Well: They pair well with most fish

Tank Size: 20 gallons and above

Boseman’s Rainbow Fish

Boseman’s Rainbow Fish

It is the coloring of this species that makes it so unique. These fish are a rare combination of metallic silver/grey and bright yellow/orange. To maintain this color, they must be kept in the right conditions, which includes water pH and water hardness. Rainbow fish are in their element when in a group of 6-8. They also need thick foliage and plenty of space to swim around freely.

Rainbow fish originate from Papua New Guinea, Australia, and parts of Indonesia. They are found in swamps, lakes, rivers, and streams. Some wild rainbowfish are almost extinct due to hunters tampering with their natural habitats.

In the wild, these fish live in hard, alkaline waters, but they can survive in a variety of conditions. They are active fish who need plenty of space to swim. Rainbow fish need a combination of meat based and vegetable matter in their diets.

Care Level: Relatively easy, but not for beginners because the tank needs a lot of work

Do They Pair Well: Yes, but house them with fish that around the same size to avoid scaring the smaller fish

Tank Size: 30 gallons and above

Cherry Barb

These fish have a magnificent color, but they are also unique in that the males change color during spawning. In general, the Cherry Barb species are white or silver, the males turn bright cherry red during spawning season. They are peaceful fish who enjoy swimming in open spaces, and they also like hiding amongst plants and are comfortable swimming alone or in small groups.

Cherry Barb originates from Sri Lanka, but they also are found in Colombia and Mexico. You will find them in streams, ponds, and on the rainforest floor. In the wild, they are a dying breed, but they are very popular in the aquarium trade. These fish prefer tropical climates with a stable temperature, living in more acidic waters.

The Cherry Barbs tank should be well planted with plenty of places for the fish to hide. They don’t like bright lights, but if you have enough plants, they’ll provide enough shade. Keep these fish in water temperatures between 73-81 degrees F.

In the wild, Cherry Barbs are not fussy and will eat anything that comes their way. They typically eat zooplanktons, crustaceans, worms, small insects, plant matter, and algae. As pets, you can feed them live foods such as blood worms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. They will also eat flakes made with plant material.

Care Level: They are easy to look after

Do They Pair Well: They get along well with other species, especially those of a similar size

Tank Size: 10 gallons and above

The Rubin Red Peacock Cichlid

The males and females of this species are of different colors, the males have a vivid red, blue, and violet skin color with silver specs throughout. The females are a brown or a mottled gray color.

These fish originate from Lake Malawi and they are from the Astatoti;a[ia genus family. There are around 22 different peacock cichlid varieties, the most common are the Sunshine Peacock, Nkhomo Benga Peacock, Flavescent Peacock, and the African Butterfly Peacock.

Lake Malawi has stable alkaline waters, and the areas where these fish live are rocky and sandy. Therefore, in a tank, you will need plenty of rocks and sand, additionally, use the rocks to make a lot of hiding spaces and caves.

Peacocks are territorial but not aggressive, having a lot of caves will prevent them from feeling like they need to protect their space. If you choose to decorate the tank with plants, you should be aware that these fish like digging them up. So the best plants to use are Anacharis or Java Ferns.

Although these are hardy plants, you will also need to anchor them. Peacocks are also very active swimmers, so you will need a horizontal tank, so that they have enough space to swim. The water temperature should be between 76-82 degrees F.

Peacock cichlids are omnivores, they eat plants, vegetables and meat. They are bottom dwellers in the wild, meaning they will look for food at the bottom of the lake. They typically eat zooplankton, larvae, insects and other crustaceans. You should feed them a high quality cichlid pellet, frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and flakes that cichlids are not allergic to.

Another food to keep out of the peacocks diet is tubifex worm or any other type of mammal meat, because it can give them Malawi bloat.

Care Level: Easy to look after

Do They Pair Well: In general, they are peaceful, but to prevent aggression, they should not be kept with other males.

Tank Size: 55 gallons and above

Zebra Danio

These fish come in a variety of colors such as dark green, deep indigo, black, white, gold or silver. They are absolutely beautiful and unique, and have color combinations that you won’t see in other fish.

The Zebra Danio originate from India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh; therefore, they are used to tropical climates. They are found in a variety of habitats, from slow-flowing streams and rivers to flooded rice paddies, ponds, and pools during the monsoon season. They are surrounded by rocky substrates and green vegetation.

Their natural habitat is easy to replicate in an aquarium setting. Their water should be set at temperatures of 64-77 degrees F. Freshwater plants such as Amazon Sword Plants and Java Fern will add high quality oxygen to the water. The fish will also hide amongst these plants.

In the wild, the Zebra Danio feeds on algae, worms, crustaceans and mosquitoes. You can feed them a variety of foods in the aquarium though. Their main diet should consist of high quality flake, flake food with an algae base, spinach, shelled peas, cucumber, zucchini, and live foods such as bloodworms and Daphnia.

Care Level: They are easy to look after

Do They Pair Well: They pair well with any fish and enjoy being in a school

Tank Size: 10 gallons and above

Duboisi Cichlid

The Duboisi is a part of the Tropheus species, which are loved for their engaging personalities and their overactive nature. As they age, they change pattern and color. In their youth, the Duboisi are black with spots of blue and white. As they mature, their middle turns yellow, the head blue, and they lose their spots. They prefer to socialize with their own kind, and have a tendency to be aggressive.

The Duboisi Cichlid originates from northern Lake Tanganyika Africa, and because they are so active they’ve got to be in a large tank. They need enough space to swim, hide, and have their own individual area. Lake Tanganyika is very oxygen-rich, so even if you add plants, the tank will need oxygen pumped into it 24 hours a day.

The nitrate and pH levels will also need to be at the right level. Additionally, they need to be in hard water. Add a lot of rocks and sandy substrate as well, so the fish can mark their territory.

Most Cichlids are omnivores, but the Duboisi eat mainly herbivorous foods. In the wild they mainly eat aufwuchs and stringy algae. But in an aquarium, you can feed them pellet foods, spirulina flakes, spinach, Romaine lettuce, and other foods rich in fiber. You can also feed these fish with live protein supplements such as Cyclos and Mysis.

However, avoid feeding them brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, tubiflex, and beef heart. Overeating is detrimental to the Duboisi Cichlids’ health, so you’ll need to make sure you don’t give them too much food at once.

Care Level: You will need to have some experience with fish to look after them

Do They Pair Well: They need to be in a tank with the same species

Tank Size: 55 gallons and above

Oscars

The Oscars are also a part of the cichlid species, they are mostly white with a beautiful orange tint. The Oscars are known to be extremely intelligent and socialize with their owners. They are known to get excited when their owner makes an entrance.

These fish are native to Peru, French Guiana, Ecuador, Columbia, and Brazil, and are found in and around the Amazon river. You will also find them in China and North America. In the fishing community they are very popular, but you should think carefully before making a purchase because they are very territorial and aggressive, which can make them difficult to deal with. Their personalities are just as vibrant as their color.

For their tank, you will need a strong water flow, and they don’t do well in either extreme acid or alkaline water. Oscar fish like digging, so you will need to place a soft layer of substrate at the bottom of the tank, sand works well. Make some caves for the fish to hide, and avoid adding live plants to the tank.

Even though they won’t eat them, they will uproot them when digging through the substrate. Instead, use floating and hardy plants. The ideal water temperature for the tank is between 74-81 degrees F.

In the wild, Oscars are omnivorous and will eat different kinds of foods. They mainly eat crustaceans, small insects, dead plant matter, and live fish. As pets, you can feed them a diet of flakes or pellets, and give them live foods every so often as a treat.

Care Level: You will need to have a lot of experience with fish to deal with their living requirements and personality type

Do They Pair Well: To avoid aggression, they need a lot of space and tank mates should be introduced carefully

Tank Size: 55 gallons and above

Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Flowerhorn are very different from the rest of the Cichlid species. It was named flowerhorn because its forehead has a large mass on it. Its body is bulky with a unique pattern on it, this fish’s color varies depending on the hybridization and breeding. Also, their color changes with age. But in general, they are a blackish gray, gray, gold, orange-red, pearl, with grayish silver spots on the skin.

These fish are a man-made species, and they’ve been selectively bred in China, this means that these fish are non-existent in the wild. However, some Flowerhorns have found their way into the wild. Although they don’t have a natural habitat, they are fine with having living conditions in an aquarium that match other Cichlids. They are typically found in tropical warm waters. Flowerhorns are often found in sheltered riverbeds and slow-moving basins.

They prefer moderately flowing clean water, so it’s recommended that you use a powerful filter such as a canister. Flowerhorns are messy fish, so you’ll need to clean the tank and change the water often. Water temperature should be between 78.8 to 86 degrees F.

Flowerhorns like digging up substrate, so you’ll need to create an artificial cover using driftwood, rocks, and mono-colored gravel. All decorations should be secured and safe.

Due to their size, these fish have large appetites, they are omnivores and eat a combination of meat and greens. They eat a variety of foods, but it’s also important that they get enough protein. You can feed them pre-made foods such as gammarus, small fish fillets, dried grasshoppers, dried crickets, bloodworms, and shrimp. You can also feed them pre-packaged plant based foods, or live plants.

Care Level: They are easy to care for

Do They Pair Well: They are relatively peaceful, but only if there is just one male in the tank.

Tank Size: 55 gallons and above

Electric Blue Hap

The male of this species is electric blue, the female is a grayish silver color. As schooling fish, they are most comfortable in groups of 3-6 females, breeding pairs, and 1 male.

This freshwater fish are a part of the Cichlidae family, they originate from South and Central America, and they’re found in slow-flowing lakes and rivers. They are tolerant fish, and won’t cause trouble with other fish, the only time you’ll have a problem with them is during breeding time. They are curious fish and they like digging into the substrate and enjoy swimming around and exploring the plants. They also like hiding.

You can recreate their natural habitat by keeping them in a water temperature of 68-82 degrees F, although the perfect temperature for them is between 75-76 degrees F. With the Electric Blue Hap, the chemistry of the water is not important. You will need to keep them in a large tank full of plants, and with a good aeration and filtratration system.

If that’s not in your budget, a regular filter on a medium to high setting will work equally as well. A normal aquarium lamp will work well for the lighting, just make sure it doesn’t interfere with your fish’s natural cycles.

As mentioned, these fish like digging, so you’ll need to use large, even grains of sand, or rounded gravel. You will also need plenty of plants, you can mix them up with rocks or driftwood.

Their diet should be made up of majority meaty foods such as shrimps, bloodworms, and mussels. To help the fish get the nutrients they need, diversify their diet as much as you can. You can also buy pre-made foods in granules or pellets to help. Since Electric Blue Hap are omnivores, their diet should also include plants, so you can feed them dry leafy foods or live plants.

Care Level: They are easy to care for

Do They Pair Well: They are compatible with other species, but don’t keep more than one male together or they can get aggressive.

Tank Size: 55 gallons and above

Fantail Guppy

These fish are popular because of their dorsal fin and their color. The fin fans out wide, and it’s large compared to the body; they come in several different colors from teal, lime green, and neon yellow. Their color is usually mixed with silver or black too, which makes them even more incredible to look at.

Guppies originate from Trinidad, they are a part of the Poecilidae family. There are more than 300 guppy varieties, and they all come in different shapes, colors and sizes. They were named after their founder, Robert John Lechmere Guppy, you will also hear them referred to as The Rainbow Fish, because they come in so many different colors, and The Millions Fish because they breed at such a fast rate.

Guppies are peaceful fish and they enjoy being in groups; they are very active, and like swimming the majority of the time. The males try to impress the females by wiggling their fins and chasing them. If guppies hide a lot, it’s a sign that they’re sick or stressed.

The water temperature should be between 75 and 85 degrees F; it’s best to keep the tank warm with a water heater, keep a thermometer at one end, and the heater at the other. You will also need a heater that hangs on the back of the tank. Add plenty of substrate, rocks, and live plants to the tank.

Guppies eat both plant and animal matter, they will eat most foods that come their way, and that includes mosquito larvae. In general, feed them high quality fish flakes. They don’t do well with filler foods, so check that soy and wheat are not the main ingredients. Instead, make sure the products you choose are high in protein. You can also feed them with frozen or live foods such as bloodworms and shrimp. They will also eat vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, and peas.

Care Level: They are easy to care for.

Do They Pair Well: They get on well with other fish, as long as they don’t share a tank with fish who see them as prey.

Tank Size: 10 gallons and above

Killifish

These fish are popular because of their neon colors and their jumping capabilities. They are more comfortable in small schools with one male, they get aggressive when they are surrounded by other males.

There are over 1250 species of killifish, which are found on all continents except for Antarctica and Australia. They are mainly found in tropical and subtropical still and moving waters. However, there are a few killifish species that also live in saltwater and brackish. They are a versatile fish which makes it easy to replicate their natural habitat.

Keep your killies in a shallow, long tank with a limited amount of water movement. Add a lot of live plants, especially floating plants, the most suitable are cryptocorynes. You can leave the tank floor bare, but you can also cover it with a dark gravel if you wish. However, if you plan on getting bottom spawners, use peat that’s free from additives or fertilizers instead of dark gravel. Give the Killies some hiding places in the wood, rocks, or floating plants.

The water temperature should be between 72-75 degrees F. The lighting depends on the species, but most killies prefer low lighting because they are usually in the shade and out of the way of direct sunlight. A filter is advised unless you are okay with changing the water all the time.

In their natural environment, Killifish eat worms, insect larvae, and crustaceans. The majority of them are carnivores, and some are omnivores. In an aquarium, the Killifish will need to eat live foods, if you can’t provide this, they are not the fish for you.

Care Level: They are relatively easy to care for

Do They Pair Well: Depends on the species they are housed with

Tank Size: 20 gallons or more

Diamond Neon Tetra

The Diamond Neon Tetra has a reddish hue with a blue stripe running down its side. The Neon Tetra species are non aggressive and peaceful, they make a great addition to a community tank.

Neon Tetras originate from the warm rivers of Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. The majority of them are found in the Amazon River Basin. A Neon Tetra tank should have a lot of plants, these fish are used to shade in their natural environment, so adding some driftwood will help recreate this. The substrate should also be in a dark color, you can use pebbles and small rocks for this. Do not house Tetras in newly cycled tanks, because they are sensitive to water changes.

This is extremely important because changes in the water chemistry can be fatal. Therefore, add Tetras to a matured tank that has already been established. Keep the water temperature at around 70 to 81 degrees F. Neons don’t light bright lights, you can keep it subdued using a low-watt fluorescent light.

Tetras eat a combination of meat and vegetables, in the wild they eat larvae from insects, algae, and other miniscule invertebrates. They are not fussy eaters, so you can feed them anything from live foods, frozen foods, flakes, pellets, tubifex, Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, and Bloodworms.

Care Level: They are relatively easy to care for

Do They Pair Well: They are quite shy, and don’t like being in large groups

Tank Size: 15 gallons and above

German Blue Ram

These fish are yellow-orange, covered in fluorescent blue dots. They are very peaceful, and get on well with other species of fish. They are a member of the Cichlid family, and you will also hear them referred to as Butterfly Cichlids and Electric Blue Rams. Even though it has the word ‘German’ in its name, the fish originates from South America and are typically found in the Amazon river, or in shallow streams and pools with plenty of vegetation and sandy beds.

When it comes to the tank setup, the German Blue Ram needs to be in very specific waters. They should not be placed in a tank that hasn’t been cycled with a superior filtration system. Additionally, you will need to constantly monitor the tank’s nitrate and oxygen levels.

The water temperature should be between 78-85 degrees F, with a water current that is slow to moderate. A mix of sand and gravel will work for the substrate. For decoration, you can add some large rocks. German Blue rams like plants, so make sure you add plenty, as well as provide a lot of hiding places. They also like swimming, so don’t make the tank too crowded. You can use plants such as Wisteria, Amazon Sword, and Java Fern.

The German Blue Ram eats a diet of both plant and meat. In the wild, they feed on plant material and invertebrates or insects. It’s important to mention that the German Blue Ram can act a bit funny when it comes to new environments, one of the things they will do is refuse to eat.

You will need to give them some time to get used to their new home. You can help them along by tempting them with live mosquito larvae. Once they are comfortable, you can start feeding them with artemia, earthworms, blood worms, and brine shrimps. You will also need to add some plants and vegetables to ensure they get a balanced diet. They will also eat pellets and flakes.

Care Level: They have complicated feeding and habitat requirements, so they need expert care

Do They Pair Well: They get along well with all fish

Tank Size: 40 gallons and above

Discus

These are one of the most popular freshwater fish, they are covered in a bold pattern, and they’re extremely colorful. There are approximately 54 Discus varieties, they come in four main colors, green, blue, brown, and heckle. They also have red eyes, which adds to their uniqueness.

Also known as the king of the aquarium, the Discus species originates from the Amazon. They are found in breaks in the water flow and crevices, they enjoy being in the shade. Although it can be done, their living conditions in the wild are difficult to replicate in a home aquarium.

They need to be kept in temperatures between 82-88 degrees F, which is typically warmer than other species. The water needs to be treated with formulas and chlorinated so that it neutralizes the tap water. The flow also needs to be weak, this can be intercepted using an ornament, driftwood, a spray bar, or vertical wood.

To provide oxygen for discus, you will need to add plants such as the Dwarf Hairgrass or the Amazon Sword Plant to the tank. Plants also help to maintain the water quality.

They are very peaceful and don’t like conflict, so if there is a problem in the tank, they will hide to avoid confrontation. They like being in large groups, and they are known to create a patterned wall around their tank.

In the wild, Discus are omnivores, the majority of the food they eat is algae, green plant matter, and fallen food. Their diet also comes from arthropods such as crustaceans or insects, and invertebrates such as amphipods and copepods. In an aquarium, you will need to feed them flake foods such as tropical fish flakes, spirulina, as well as shrimp pellets or algae. Live foods such as brine shrimp, larvae, mosquito, blood worm, and beef heart also provide good nutrients.

Care Level: They are difficult to look after because of their complex feeding and habitat requirements, they should be looked after by an expert.

Do They Pair Well: They are very peaceful and do well with other species of fish.

Required Tank Size: 50 gallons and above


FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about colorful freshwater fish:

What are the most colorful fish?

Some of the most colorful fish include: Striped Mandarinfish, Flowerhorn Cichlid, Juvenile Emperor Angelfish, Discus, Clown Triggerfish, Rainbow Parrotfish, Peacock Cichlid, and Ocellaris Clownfish.

What’s the most Colorful tropical fish?

The most colorful tropical fish is the Neon Tetra.

What is the most exotic freshwater fish?

The most exotic freshwater fish is the Arowana.

Do fish like colorful tanks?

Research suggests that different color tanks are healthier for some fish species but not others.

How do I make my fish more colorful?

You can make your fish more colorful by feeding them color-enhancing foods such as brine shrimp, scallops, Mysis shrimp, romaine lettuce, broccoli, and spinach.


Final Thought

You should now have plenty of information to help you make your decision about which colorful fish you want to fill your tank with. Remember though that there are some species that are more difficult to take care of than others, so even if it is your favorite color, whether you can look after the fish in the right way is what’s most important.