Setting up your first freshwater fish tank can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it also can be challenging, especially if you start off with fish that are difficult to maintain. Luckily, there is not a shortage of hardy, inexpensive freshwater fish species. Finding good starter fish for your first aquarium is relatively easy.
If you've never had fish before, you may want to start with guppies. These fish can sometimes be found as juveniles in feeder fish tanks, which means you can buy six to ten fish for as little as a dollar. Of course, they are quite boring to look at until they mature, but raising them is certainly a great way to get the experience you need.
Some feeder guppies grow into lovely adult fish. Of course, if you don't want to wait, you can simply buy adult guppies. Guppies are very social fish and get along well with others. They are easy to feed and care for. In fact, guppies are so hardy and laid back that it isn't unusual for new fish owners to find that their fish have produced several dozen offspring.
If guppies aren't quite your thing, you may want to consider tetras. Tetras do well in a small school. Most of these fish species are on the small side and aren't very colorful to look at unless there are several of them darting about together. They are happiest in groups of six or more. These fish are good community fish and rarely act aggressive.
If you want a larger fish, the gourami is a good choice. These fish do best as pairs, since some males are aggressive towards other males. Gouramis are easy to care for and rarely act aggressively towards other species.
Most loaches are fairly easy to care for and get along well with other fish. With the exception of the yoyo loach, these fish enjoy having a buddy of the same species to hang out with. Loaches need a place to hang out during the day to stay happy, so be sure to provide a rock or pipe for your fish to hide in.
Barbs are extremely easy to keep, but not a good choice for tanks that also have fish with long fins, such as angelfish or guppies, since they tend to shred fins. Barbs do best in large groups, so you should keep at least four of these fish in your tank.
It seems like everyone wants to add an angelfish or two to their tanks. However, these fish can really be troublesome in the tank. They tend to be bullies and will eat smaller fish, such as tetras. At the same time, you will have to be sure that any fish that are too large for the angelfish to eat do not attack the angelfish and shred their fins. If you do decide that you want angelfish, you may be better off having a tank just for them. Angelfish are happiest in groups of two to four.