What Are the Best Species of Tropical Fish for a Community Aquarium?

March 7, 2024

Creating a community aquarium can be an exciting endeavor. However, you need to consider the species of fish that will cohabit harmoniously, their size, care requirements, and the type of environment they thrive in. Among the vast array of freshwater fish species, some are better suited for a community aquarium than others. This article will guide you on some of the best species of tropical fish to keep in your community tank.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Fish Species for Your Aquarium

Before we delve into the specifics of the best species of fish for a community aquarium, it’s vital to understand why selecting the right species is crucial. A well-planned community aquarium is not just about mixing different types of fish in a tank. It’s about ensuring that all the species you choose can coexist peacefully, have similar care requirements, and thrive in similar water conditions.

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Fish species differ in size, behavior, diet, and preferred water conditions. Some fish are territorial and aggressive, while others are timid and peaceful. Therefore, if you put aggressive and peaceful fish in the same tank, conflict is inevitable. Similarly, if some fish prefer warm water while others need cooler conditions, it will be challenging to keep the aquarium’s temperature at a level that suits all species.

Moreover, the size of the fish also matters. Larger fish may see smaller ones as prey, leading to an imbalance in the tank’s ecosystem. Therefore, it’s important to choose species that will coexist in harmony, not disrupt each other’s wellbeing, and are easy to care for.

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The Top Five Best Tropical Fish Species for a Community Aquarium

There are many fish species suitable for a community aquarium, but some stand out more than others. Here are the top five species that are easy to care for, peaceful, and ideal for a community tank.

Neon Tetra

Neon tetras are among the most popular species for community aquariums. They are small, growing up to 1.5 inches (about 4 centimeters) and have a striking blue and red coloration that adds a vibrant touch to any aquarium. Neon tetras are peaceful schooling fish that prefer to be in groups of six or more.

Tetras thrive in freshwater tanks with pH levels between 5.0 and 7.0. They also like having lots of plants in the tank where they can hide. Although they are omnivores, their diet should predominantly consist of high-quality flake food or small granules. Neon tetras are hardy and easy to care for, making them great for both beginners and experienced aquarists.


Guppies are another excellent addition to a community tank. They are small, colorful, and extremely easy to care for. Guppies grow to about 1 to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6.3 centimeters) and come in a variety of colors and tail shapes, giving you plenty to choose from.

Guppies are peaceful and can coexist with other small, non-aggressive fish. They thrive best in water with a pH of 7.0 to 8.2 and prefer a diet of both plant-based and meaty foods. Guppies are also live-bearers, meaning they give birth to live young ones, which could be an interesting experience for you to witness.


Platies are another great choice for a community aquarium. They are small, peaceful, and come in a variety of colors. Platies can grow up to 3 inches (about 7.5 centimeters) and prefer to live in groups.

They thrive in freshwater tanks with a pH of 7.0 to 8.3. Platies are omnivores and will appreciate a diet of both plant-based and protein-rich foods. They are also live-bearers, and unlike some species, male and female platies can coexist peacefully in the same tank.


Swordtails are admired for their long, sword-like tails, from which they derive their name. They are peaceful, easy to care for, and can grow up to 4 inches (about 10 centimeters) long. Swordtails come in various colors, with the most common being green and red.

Swordtails thrive in freshwater aquariums with pH levels of 7.0 to 8.4. Like platies and guppies, swordtails are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet. They are also live-bearers, and while males can become slightly territorial, they generally coexist well with other peaceful fish.

Betta Fish

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts. Despite their reputation for aggression, betta fish can actually coexist peacefully with other species provided they are not similar in appearance or too active. Male bettas can be aggressive towards each other, so it’s best to keep only one in a tank.

Bettas are hardy and adaptable. They can grow up to 3 inches (about 7.5 centimeters) and prefer slightly acidic to neutral water (pH 6.5 to 7.5). Bettas are carnivores, and their diet should consist mainly of protein-rich foods. Although they appreciate live foods, high-quality pellets and flake foods are also suitable.

In a curated community tank, bettas add a unique touch of elegance and color. However, they need plenty of space to swim and hide, so a tank with a variety of plants and decorations is ideal.

To recap, creating a beautiful, harmonious community aquarium starts with selecting the right fish species. The species mentioned above – neon tetras, guppies, platies, swordtails, and betta fish – are all peaceful, easy to care for, and make a great addition to any aquarium. However, remember to take into account their specific needs and preferences when setting up your tank to ensure they thrive and coexist peacefully.

Managing the Aquarium: From Selection to Care

After identifying the appropriate species for your community aquarium, understanding their specific needs is of paramount importance. This will ensure your tropical fish thrive in their new environment, leading to a flourishing and harmonious community tank.

Neon tetras and guppies are among the smallest species with an adult size of 1.5 and 2.5 inches respectively. Swordtails and platies are slightly larger, reaching up to 4 and 3 inches. Betta fish can grow up to 3 inches as well. The minimum tank size for these species varies, but generally, a 20-gallon tank can comfortably accommodate a small community of these tropical fish.

In terms of difficulty level, these species range from easy to moderate. Neon tetras, guppies, platies, and swordtails are generally easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginners. Betta fish, while requiring more specific care, are also manageable for most aquarists.

All the species listed above are peaceful fish, ideal for community tanks. However, exceptions exist, such as betta fish, which can show aggression towards similar-looking or too active fish. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor your aquarium regularly to detect any signs of distress or conflict.

In terms of diet, most of these species are omnivores, except for betta fish, which are carnivores. A balanced diet of high-quality flakes or pellets, supplemented with occasional live or frozen foods, will keep your fish healthy and vibrant.

Lastly, these species thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water, with pH levels between 6.5 and 8.4. Regular water changes and monitoring of the water parameters are essential to maintain a healthy environment. Additionally, these tropical fish appreciate a well-planted tank with hiding spots, which can be achieved with live plants and aquarium decorations.

Conclusion: Building the Perfect Community Aquarium

In conclusion, creating a harmonious and visually appealing community aquarium is a rewarding experience. With careful selection and understanding of various tropical fish species, one can create a lively and dynamic ecosystem right at home.

The fish species overview above elucidates why neon tetras, guppies, platies, swordtails, and betta fish are ideal for community tanks. Their small size in inches/centimeters, peaceful temperament, and easy care level make them a favorite among both beginner and advanced aquarists.

However, it’s not just about throwing these fish into a tank and hoping for the best. The maintenance of community tanks requires careful monitoring of water parameters, ensuring a balanced diet, and providing a comfortable environment with ample space and hiding spots.

The key to a successful community aquarium is balance. With the right mix of species, a suitable environment, and diligent care, you’ll have a tranquil, thriving miniature underwater world to enjoy.

So, take the plunge and curate your perfect community tank with these tropical fish. No matter your level of experience in fish keeping, the joy and satisfaction of nurturing a thriving aquatic community are simply unparalleled.