If you’re thinking about getting into coldwater aquariums, congratulations! It’s a great hobby and one that can provide you with even more joy than your average tropical fish setup.

But before you go out and buy a bunch of fish, we recommend starting out with a few species that are especially well-suited to beginners.

These tend to be easier to care for and not as prone to illness or death, so they’re great for dipping your toe in the water (pun intended).

Best Coldwater Aquarium Fishes

Here are our top picks for the 10 best coldwater aquarium fish for beginners:

1. Goldfish


Goldfish are one of the most popular cold-water fish species to keep in home aquaria. There are several different goldfish varieties, with different fin types and patterns, as well as varying body shapes and colors.

These hardy fish can grow quite large, so it’s important to choose a tank size that’s appropriate for their adult size.

2. Koi

Koi Fish

Koi is another type of goldfish that’s also very popular as a pet. They’re larger than most goldfish varieties and tend to be more aggressive toward their tank mates and food competition, which means they should be kept separately from other fish species.

When you feed your koi live food such as bloodworms or brine shrimp, you’ll likely see them jumping for food out of the water!

3. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

If you’re looking for the best coldwater aquarium fish, the White Cloud Mountain minnow is a good one to start with. This tropical fish is native to China, but it can be found in other areas as well.

It has historically been bred with goldfish to produce an even hardier strain that can survive in very low temperatures.

4. Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios

The banded zebra fish is a popular cold water aquarium fish that is easy to care for and fun to watch.

They are named for their black and white stripes, which will help you identify them easily. Because they are active swimmers, they are best kept in larger tanks where there is plenty of room to swim around and play.

5. Rosy Barbs

Rosy Barbs

Rosy barbs are very hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, making them ideal for beginners.

They are best kept in groups of at least five and will quickly get along with other types of coldwater fish. They also prefer live food but will take flaked foods as well.

6. Ghost Shrimp

ghost shrimp

Ghost shrimp look like small glass shrimp and have very low requirements. They are hardy and easy to care for, making them ideal coldwater aquarium fish for beginners.

However, they do not last long in captivity; most only survive a few months.

7. Plecostomus Catfish

Plecostomus Catfish

Also known as plecos, these fish grow large and have the ability to cling to surfaces without the use of their pectoral fins.

Plecos are bottom-feeders and grow quickly even on flake food alone. While they are large, they are peaceful and can be kept with smaller fish provided there is enough room for everyone in the tank.

8. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loach are small, colorful fish that thrive in schools. You’ll need to provide them with sand on the bottom of their tank and plenty of places to hide.

They can also be kept with other community fish.

9. Fancy Guppies

Fancy Guppies

Fancy guppies are easy to take care of and come in a variety of different colors and patterns.

Like the kuhli loaches, they do well in schools and prefer water that is a bit warmer than some other coldwater fish.

10. Mollies


Mollies are another small, colorful coldwater fish that do well in aquariums that have temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hopefully, these 10 coldwater fish will give you a good starting point for your first foray into the aquatic hobby.

Feel free to try out multiple species, as there are numerous others available to cater to all tastes and interests.

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