Fish are wonderful pets to keep, with so many health benefits associated with having them in your home, it’s no wonder more than 12.5 million households in the United States own fish. According to research, keeping fish helps to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and stress. After dogs and cats, they are the most popular pets to own. Fish are quiet, cheap, and pleasing to the eye.
Despite their many benefits though, they can also become a nightmare if they are housed with the wrong species. Fish can become extremely violent and aggressive, and they will kill each other when they feel threatened. To avoid this, you need community fish who will live together in peace and harmony. If you want to know what the best community fish are for your tank in 2021, then keep reading to learn more.
1. Cherry Barb
These vibrantly colored fish are the most well loved in the Cyprinidae family. They are very peaceful and do best in peaceful communities. Cherry barbs need to be around other fish though, or they become shy and go into hiding. You will need to carefully consider how many males and females you will have though, because during spawning males can become a nuisance.
If there are not enough females, the harassment becomes too much and the females get stressed, which has a negative effect on their health. Ideally, there should be 2 females per male so that the females get a break when its spawning season.
Cherry Barb originates from Sri Lanka, but they also make their homes in Colombia and Mexico. In the wild, their populations are declining, but this is not the case in the aquarium trade. Barbs live in small ponds and streams, so your tanks will need to be well planted to make them feel at home. The plants give them somewhere to hide, and they need low lighting. The smallest tank size for a schooling group of Cherry Barb is 25 gallons.
Size: 1-2 inches
This group of freshwater fish are extremely popular, one of their main attractions is their tail, which is the reason they are called swordtails. Their lower lobe is elongated and it looks like a sword. It’s the males who have this distinct tail shape, which makes it easy to spot the females. In the wild, these fish live in streams and rivers surrounded by vegetation. The plants protect them from the sunlight, flowing water, and other fish.
Swordtails are active, peaceful fish, and they don’t like being around aggressive fish. They don’t shoal, but they are sociable when they are around their own species. Males can get aggressive when they’re kept together, so don’t have more than one male in smaller tanks.
Swordtails are omnivorous, and in the wild, they eat vegetation, algae, and insect larvae. High quality dry foods will provide the majority of nutrients needed, but they do need a lot of protein, so feed them lots of brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Green vegetables and algae wafers will also provide them with fiber. If properly taken care of, you can expect to keep Swordtails for up to five years.
Size: Up to 6.5 inches
These fish are the most popular out of the Cichlid family, they are a stunning freshwater species with many unique features. When properly taken care of, they can live for up to ten years. Angelfish are very territorial, and they will fight for their position. When they’re in a lock lipped position, it looks as if they’re being friendly, but they’re fighting.
Although they are aggressive with each other, they don’t show that same aggression to other species. They can get shy in an overcrowded tank, but when they are given their space, they like to parade themselves around the tank.
One of their rarest features is that they protect their young, and will defend their eggs to the death. They have incredible fins that are bigger than their own body, but their most spectacular feature is their wide fan-shaped caudal fin. Angelfish originate from the Amazon River, they are found in slow moving floodplains, swamps, and streams. They are tropical fish that need to be in warm temperatures between 75-82 degrees F.
They are used to slow-moving waters and so don’t need a powerful current, though they also need 8-12 hours of light exposure per day. In the wild, Angelfish eat small live prey such as rotifiers, crustaceans, larvae, insects and some small fish. They need a high fiber, high protein diet, and they don’t eat a lot of algae or plant material.
In an aquarium, an important food source is Tubifex worms, they also feed on brine shrimp and water fleas. For dry foods, you can feed them pellet foods or flakes.
Size: 6 inches
4. Corydoras Catfish
You will also hear them referred to as Cory Cats. They are extremely popular and can be found in the majority of freshwater tanks because they are easy to look after. Corydoras are very active, but peaceful and calm; they are sociable and enjoy being in the company of other fish. They do best when they’re in a group of two or more.
As natives of small shallows, ponds, and streams of North America, they can survive in a range of water conditions, but they have a preference for slightly acidic softer water. These fish are comfortable in both small and large tanks, and prefer to be in temperatures of between 68 and 82 degrees F. They make great tank cleaners, and will quickly eat any leftovers that have sunk to the bottom of the. Their diet should be supplemented with flakes and sinking pellets.
Size: 2.5 inches
Temperament: Calm, peaceful
5. Neon Tetra
With almost 2 million sold in the United States per year, Neon Tetras are massively popular. They make fantastic non-aggressive community fish and spend the majority of their time dwelling in the center of the water column. In general, they should be kept in schools with a minimum of 15 fish, as they feel threatened in fewer numbers.
Neon Tetras come from the warm rivers of Peru, Columbia, and Brazil with the largest populations being found in the Amazon River basin. Due to the direction that they travel, these rivers are not exposed to a lot of natural sunlight, as it’s blocked by dense canopies and thick forests. The rivers also contain a lot of fallen tree roots, vegetation, and leaves.
Therefore, to ensure Neon Tetras are comfortable, their living conditions in an aquarium should be as close to their natural habitat as possible. You can achieve this by planting plenty of driftwood to create darkness and shade. Additionally, do not house these fish in newly cycled tanks, because they will die due to the changes in chemistry during this time. Keep the water temperature between 70 to 81 degrees F.
If cared for in the right way, you can expect Neon Tetra to live for up to 8 years.
Size: 1.5 inches
Most Discus will live up to ten years, but if kept in exceptionally good conditions, that lifespan can be extended to up to 15 years. They are relatively popular, and available at the majority of aquatic stores. Discus originates from the Amazon, but they are peaceful and do their best to avoid conflict.
In general they like to stay in the mid-levels of the tank, swimming up to the top and down to the bottom to forage. These fish enjoy swimming freely, but need to know they have a close cover such as large plants or driftwood in the tank.
Discus fish resemble discs, hence the name, and are round and flat in shape, but there are also some triangular variations. One of the reasons why they are so popular is because of their bright colors, as they come in different shades of yellows, browns, reds, bright blues, and greens.
These fish should be kept in temperatures of 82-88 degrees F. You can break the water flow using vertical wood. Plants like the Dwarf Hairgrass, and the Amazon Sword Plants will provide Discus with plenty of oxygen. They need to be in schools of a minimum of five, so the smallest tank you can house them in is 50 gallons.
In the wild, Discus eat arthropods such as crustaceans or insects, and invertebrates such as amphipods and copepods. They also eat fallen food or algae. In an aquarium, you can feed them brine shrimp, larvae, mosquitoes, and blood worms.
Size: 8-10 inches
With their bright colors these fish are mesmerizing. They are not schooling or shoaling fish though, and prefer to stay in a small group. They enjoy breeding, and they’re very active. Platies spend the majority of their time at the center of the water column swimming in small groups. They also like hiding amongst floating leaves. In general, they are not aggressive, but the females can find the males overwhelming if there are too many of them. Therefore, keeping the right ratios is important.
Platy fish originate from the rivers of Central America, they are found in marshes, warm springs, ditches and canals. There is very little water current in these small bodies of water so this should be the case when keeping them in a tank. They also prefer to be in waters with a temperature between 72-75 degrees F.
These fish prefer a diet with plenty of vegetables, in the wild, they eat plants, insects, worms. In an aquarium, they will eat most commercial and live foods, they will also eat vegetables and flakes. You can treat them with bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp once or twice a week. When kept in the right conditions, platy fish will live for 3-5 years.
Size: 3 inches
8. Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios are a much loved breed because of their stripy skin. This freshwater species are a part of the Cyprinidae family. These fish are social, and easy to look after. They are generally peaceful; however, they can become aggressive towards long-finned, slow moving fish. Because they are community fish, they don’t do well on their own and get stressed and sick. When they are not in a group, they will hide and become less active.
Zebra Danios are found in a variety of habitats, from slow-flowing streams and rivers, to seasonally flooded pools, ponds and rice paddies. They are also found in verged areas with overhanging branch cover and rocky substrates. In an aquarium, keep them in temperatures between 64-77 degrees F, and add fresh water plants such as Amazon Sword Plants and Java Fern, which will give the tank plenty of dissolved oxygen.
In the wild, these fish feed on algae, worms, and mosquito larvae. In an aquarium, you can feed them good quality flakes and fresh vegetables such as spinach, shelled peas, cucumber, and zucchini. In the right conditions, you can expect Zebra Danios to live between 3.5 and 5.5 years.
Size: 2 inches
This is an exceptionally large family of fish made up of over 1250 species. They are very diverse and you’ll find them all over the world living in a variety of habitats. However, they are typically found in tropical and subtropical waters. The majority of killifish are peaceful and socialize well in community tanks. But the males can show aggression to each other. You can get around this problem by only keeping one male per tank. Keeping females together is not a problem.
Most killifish need to be in water temperatures of 72-75 degrees F, and they prefer low lighting. They also require still waters with either no movement, or very little movement.
Killifish eat worms and insect larvae in their natural environment, they also need live foods in an aquarium. To ensure they get all the right nutrients, feed them mosquito larvae, daphnia, tubifex worms, black worms, white worms and brine shrimp. You can also feed them dry foods, paste foods, beef heart, and fruit flies.
Size: 2-9 cm
Temperament: Mostly peaceful
These fish are a member of the Loricariidae family, there are over 150 different species. They originate from the freshwater streams and rivers of South America, and have a lifespan of 10-15 years. Plecos are nocturnal, which means you will rarely see them during the day. When it’s daylight, they hide amongst caves and plants, which is why they’ve been labelled as timid. When they are out and about though, you’ll see them slowly moving along the floor of the aquarium.
Plecos are friendly creatures, but they do better alone because they are so big. They can survive in a variety of habitats, from fast to slow moving waters. It is important to note, that in a tank, they’ll need plenty of hiding places, and they also prefer to be surrounded by a lot of plants. Plants such as java moss are ideal, because they grow quickly. You should also place some driftwood in the tank to give them something to nibble on. Keep the water temperature between 72 and 86 degrees F.
A lot of pet stores advertise them as algae eaters, while they do eat some algae, that’s not all they eat. Their typical diet should consist of vegetables, protein and algae; you can feed them foods such as cucumbers, shelled peas, spinach, zucchini and lettuce. You can also feed them live foods such as earthworms and bloodworms.
Size: Up to 24 inches
Rainbow fish are native to the swamps, streams, rivers, and lakes of Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, and Australia. They are well-loved for their stunning colors which is why they are called rainbow fish. In general, these fish are unassuming and shy, they are sociable and do well in shoals of six or more.
They thrive in peaceful environments so you should avoid putting them in situations that would cause stress such as substandard waters, small tanks, or loneliness. Additionally, when they feel threatened, they go into hiding.
Rainbow fish will swim throughout the day, so they need plenty of space so they don’t feel restricted. They like having plants to snack on, and hiding places they can retreat to when they feel threatened. It is best for them to be in temperatures of 74-78 degrees.
Rainbow fish will eat most foods, but they need a combination of high-protein foods and vegetables. Good foods consist of mosquito larvae, glassworms, bloodworms, blackworms, frozen shrimp, ground vegetables, mysis, spirulina flakes, betta treat, pellets, high-quality flakes. Rainbow fish will survive for up to 5 years in the right conditions.
Size: 2.4-4.7 inches
These freshwater fish are a part of the Cyrinidae family. They originate from East India, are calm and peaceful, and spend the majority of their time swimming around the center of the tank. They are also slow swimmers, which is why they rarely escape when being chased by other fish, and neither do they chase other fish.
Goldfish need plenty of plants in the tank to keep it oxygenated, these plants also provide them with plenty of hiding places when they feel threatened.
In the wild, goldfish eat some vegetation, tadpoles and insects. In an aquarium you can feed them a diet of pellet foods, flakes, and live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. In the right conditions, they will live between 5 and 10 years.
Size: 6 inches
13. Honey Gourami
These fish are the perfect species for first time aquarists because they are peaceful and easy to look after. Although they are classified as surface swimmers, they prefer to swim in the center of the tank, and because they are so timid and shy, they take some time to get used to their environment.
Although they are not the most active fish, they prefer to keep the company of their own kind, you will often find them along with 4 to 6 other fish. They need a lot of dense vegetation in the tank to protect them against bullying and to give them a place to hide.
Honey Gourami are South Asian natives and they are typically found in ditches, ponds, and lakes, although they are sometimes found in flooded fields. You will need to keep them in warm waters between 71-82 degrees F. Experts advise that you use a heater to keep the temperature consistent. Some surfaces should remain uncovered so that they can breathe.
These fish are not picky when it comes to their food, you can feed them pellets and flakes, meat and vegetable sources. When kept in the right conditions, honey gourami will live for 4-8 years.
Size: 3 inches
14. White Cloud Mountain Minnow
This fresh water fish is a member of the Cyprinidae family. You will also hear them referred to as Canton Minnow and Cardinal Fish. Outside of mating season they are very peaceful, but they can become territorial and aggressive when competing for mates.
They cooperate well with other fish, and feed and swim in coordinated shoals. They prefer to be in schools of at least 5, and they won’t compete with or harass their tank mates, which makes them very good community fish. As long as they feel comfortable and safe in their group, they are not shy.
These fish originate from the Pearl River in China. They are adaptable fish and can tolerate a variety of water quality fluctuations and temperatures. Ideally, they should be kept in temperatures between 64 to 72 degrees F. However, they will survive in temperatures as low as 41 degrees F. Keep underwater plants such as Hornwort, Water Sprite, and Dwarf Rotala in the tank, and having Duckweed and floating plants as well will help keep the tank looking more natural.
In the wild, they eat brine shrimp, zooplankton, insect larvae, and green algae. However, you can feed them a combination of pellet foods, flakes, greenery, brine shrimp, and water fleas. For protein, feed them a variety of micro-worms and tubilex.
Size: 1.5 inches
15. Diamond Tetra
The Diamond Tetra are one of the many fish in the tetra species. The diamond has an outstanding scale pattern that gives them a brilliant shine that resembles a diamond. They are a very diverse group of fish and some are native to East Africa with wide rivers and heavy rains, while others are native to South America and their tropical regions. They are usually found in medium or large wetlands, rivers, ponds, and lakes.
Tetras prefer warm water with temperatures between 75-80 degrees F. It is advised that they are not housed in temperatures any lower than this, or they will become less active, which will slow down their metabolism. Although tetras are small, they are active swimmers, so to create a medium to hard flow, you’ll need to install a good filter.
In the wild, these fish eat almost anything, including freshwater organisms and insects. In an aquarium you can feed them a variety of foods such as flakes, granules, dry or frozen foods.
Size: 2 to 2.4 inches
16. Harlequin Rasboro
These striking fish will add a pop of color to your tank, although small, they are captivating but easy to care for. They are Asian natives and are mostly found in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, and typically live in swamp forests and streams. These fish get along well with other species, as long as they’re peaceful.
They don’t bother their tank mates, but unfortunately they’re more likely to become victims. They spend the majority of their time in the center of the water, you will rarely find them on the substrate or the surface. When they get stressed, you’ll find them hiding in caves or amongst plants.
Since they originate from a tropical climate, they should be kept in waters between 72-81 degrees F. Keep them in groups of a minimum of four because they feel more confident in groups.
These fish eat a variety of foods, so to provide them with the nutrition they need, feed them insect larvae, bloodworms, daphnia, pellets and flakes. When kept in the right conditions, these fish have a lifespan of 5-8 years.
Size: Up to 2 inches
17. Bristlenose Plecoptera
Also known as the Bristlenose Pleco, this peaceful species is sociable and has good relationships with other community fish. They adapt well to a range of tank conditions, but it is advised that two males are not housed together, because they can become competitive and territorial when in the company of similar shaped species.
Bristlenose are native to the rivers and streams and South America; therefore, they have a preference for freshwater that has a well aerated current. Their water tank requires a moderate water flow that’s well oxygenated. These fish are nocturnal, so they’ll need plenty of places to rest and hide during the day. They also need a lot of shade, you can achieve this with driftwood and plants. Keep the water temperature between 60-80 degrees F.
Bristlenoses consume a majority vegetarian diet, and they keep the tank clean because they eat plenty of algae. However, their diet should consist of protein and plant matter as well. Some food examples include: Peas, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage leaves, and parboiled lettuce. In general, they have a lifespan of up to five years.
Size: Up to 5 inches
18. Rubber Lip Pleco
You will also hear this species referred to as the rubber nose pleco. They are a very tolerant fish, capable of living through different water levels and temperature changes. In the fish tank, they can generally live peacefully with other fish, as they tend to mind their own business and keep to themselves. However, as they get older, they become very unsociable and territorial.
When in a tank, they spend their days nibbling on algae and sucking on the side of the aquarium. These fish are also very slow and sluggish in their movements. They originate from Columbia and Venezuela and are found in the Apure, and Magdalena rivers.
Keep Rubber Lip Pleco in water temperatures of between 72 to 80 degrees F. Keep plenty of vegetation and plants in the tank. It’s also a good idea to add driftwood, large rocks, and other accessories to the tank, because these fish like exploring. Also, you will need to set up resting areas and hiding places for them.
These fish will eat the leftovers from other fish that sink to the bottom of the tank. They don’t need meaty foods, but a diet that is rich in algae and vegetables is best. You can add bits of spinach, green beans, peas, and zucchini to their meals to ensure that they get a healthy and balanced diet. You can expect Rubber Lip Pleco’s to live for up to 12 years.
Size: 7 inches
19. Guppy Fish
These popular freshwater fish are a part of the Poecilidae family and originate from South America. There are approximately 300 guppy varieties in different shapes, colors, and sizes. Guppies enjoy being in groups, and they are peaceful and won’t fight with other fish.
They are always on the move and you’ll find them constantly swimming around the tanks. The males like chasing the females and trying to impress them by wagging their fins. Since these fish are generally very active, if they keep hiding, it’s an indication that they’re stressed or sick.
Guppies should be kept in water that’s between 75 to 82 degrees F. Keep a lot of substrate, rocks, and live plants in the tank. Feed them fish flakes supplemented with bloodworms, shrimp, peas, cucumber, and lettuce. Guppies only have a two year lifespan.
Size: 0.6-2.4 inches
20. Dwarf Pencilfish
These wonderful colorful fish should be kept in a group of a minimum of six with more females than males to prevent the females from getting harrassed by the males. They are active and enjoy swimming around the tank amongst plant leaves. This species prefers the upper and middle levels of the aquarium. Keep them in water temperatures between 75-79 degrees F. These freshwater fish have a lifespan of 2-5 years.
High quality flake or granular foods will provide them with all the nutrients they need, but they also enjoy small live or frozen foods such as baby brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworm, and mosquito larvae.
Size: 1.4 inches
21. Bala Shark
Despite the fact that they’ve got the word ‘shark’ in their name, this species is extremely gentle. The only similarities they have with sharks is in their appearance, because of their body type and high dorsal fin. They are also known as Tri-Color Minnows, Tricolor Shark, Silver Shark, and Silver Bala. These fish are a member of the Cyprinidae family, and they’re found in Kalimantran, Sumatra, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Thailand. These fish are very tolerant and won’t bother other species they share a tank with.
In the wild, they are shoaling fish, so you’ll need to keep them in a group with between 4 to 6 of their kinfolk. The only problem they seem to pose is that they can be greedy when it comes to food because they are so large. This is something you might want to consider if you are planning on housing them with smaller fish.
These freshwater fish are found in lakes and rivers and they have a preference for fast flowing waters. Their water temperature should be kept around 77 degrees F. If you are going to add plants to the tank, Anubias are the better option.
In the wild, they consume a diet of plant parts, algae, lavae, and insects. To ensure they get all the nutrients they need, you can feed them pellets, flakes, vegetables, bloodworms, spinach, and diced fruits.
Size: Up to 10 years
Fish can be complicated if you are new to keeping them, and you’ve probably got a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about community fish.
What are the best community fish? (top 3)
The best community fish are Guppies, Betta Fish, and Zebra Danio
What are the most peaceful community fish (top 3)
The most peaceful community fish are Neon Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, and Congo Tetra.
What is the easiest fish to keep alive?
The easiest fish to keep alive are freshwater fish.
What pet fish lives the longest?
The pet fish that live the longest are Neon Tetras, Angelfish, Oscars, and Plecostomus.
What is the best low maintenance fish?
The best low maintenance fish are Bettas, Platies, and Black Molly.
Fish make great low maintenance pets, if you travel, live in a small space, or enjoy peace and quiet, fish are the perfect option. Also, if you want to build a peaceful community of fish, there are several things you will need to take into consideration such as aquarium size, plants and decorations.
You should also be mindful of whether the fish are breeding, their unique personalities, and their dominance level. It’s important to mention that although some fish might be peaceful, they can also be territorial, which will ultimately lead to aggression if they’re forced to fight for their space.
Hi, my name is Adam and I’m an aquarium enthusiast! I didn’t discover the joys of being an ‘aquarium fanatic’ (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20’s. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!