15 Low Maintenance Fish For Your Tank

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Fishkeeping is a wonderful hobby that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from kids to seniors. Although every fish species and tank setup requires a regular maintenance schedule to keep the environment clean and safe for your fish, some fish species are more low maintenance than others.

In this guide, we introduce you to 15 of the best low-maintenance fish species to get you started on your fishkeeping journey!

But first, here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about keeping fish.

What Tank To Choose?

First of all, you need to choose a suitable tank for your fish. 

The size and shape of the tank you pick are crucial to the health of your fish. So, you need to research the fish species to determine how large they will be as adults, whether they’re territorial, what areas of the tank they prefer to inhabit, and how active the fish are.

Ensure that the tank you choose is big enough, as overcrowding is a major cause of stress and ill-health in all fish species. Begin with at least a 10-gallon tank and plan to upgrade from there as you catch fish fever.

Many newbies to the hobby mistakenly think that a small tank means less maintenance, and to an extent, that’s true, as you don’t need to change as much water. However, a larger tank has a greater surface area, so the water contains more dissolved oxygen, which is good for the fish. 

Also, a larger water volume diffuses fish waste more effectively than a smaller one. That means a healthier environment for the fish and, potentially, less frequent water changes for you to make.

Creating A Habitat

The key to keeping your fish healthy and thriving is to learn about their natural habitat and replicate those conditions in the aquarium environment.

When choosing fish for a community fish tank, check to see that all the fish you want to keep have the same water parameter and habitat requirements. Also, you want to pick fish that enjoy the same basic habitat requirements in terms of planting, shelters, hiding places, etc.

Filtration

No matter what fish you decide to keep and what size tank you have, you must have an efficient filtration system to keep clean water in the tank.

There are several different kinds of filtration systems to choose from. However, most beginner-friendly tanks come with a built-in filter. 

Heater

If you’re keeping tropical fish, your tank must have a heater to keep the water temperature suitable for the fish. All fish are vulnerable to temperature shock, so you need to keep the tank temperature constant.

Tank Maintenance

Once a week, you’ll need to vacuum the substrate to eliminate any fish waste, dead plant material, and uneaten food. If you leave that stuff in the tank, it will decompose and pollute the water, so you mustn’t skimp on that job.

You also need to carry out weekly partial water changes, generally between 20% and 30%, depending on the size of the tank and the number of fish you have. Also, the filter media needs rinsing in tank water once a month or so to prevent it from becoming clogged, and you’ll need to change spent filter media periodically, too.

If you choose to keep live aquatic plants in your tank, they will require trimming and thinning out from time to time. However, if you don’t have time to do that, you could have silk plants instead.

Aquarium Cycling

One crucial thing to know is that you must fully cycle your new tank before you add fish. 

If the nitrogen cycle hasn’t fully completed, the water in your aquarium will contain harmful chemicals, including ammonia and nitrites, that will very quickly kill your fish. So don’t just bring your new friend home from the fish store and dump him in the tank.

Read the article at this link to find out more about how to set up and cycle your tank so that it’s safe for your new fish.

What’s A Good Low-Maintenance Fish To Keep At My Office?

There are many low-maintenance fish that can do well in a tank that you keep in your office. In fact, any of the species listed below make a fabulous focal point in a well-aquascaped aquarium. 

However, if you want a small tank for your office desktop, a betta fish and a couple of shrimp as tank mates might be a good choice.

15 Low-Maintenance Fish

Now that you know a little more about general fishkeeping practices, you can start to consider what fish species to keep.

Zebra Danio

Zebra Danio
  • Scientific Name: Danio rerio
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1.5 to 2 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 65° to 75° F, pH 6.5 to 8.0

Zebra danios are small, beautifully patterned fish that are undemanding and very easy to keep. These beginner fish hail from cool mountain streams, so they can tolerate living in a tank of room temperature water without a heater. 

These peaceful, active little omnivorous fish do well on a diet of both meat and plant matter, including flakes, pellet food, and brine shrimp.

Zebra danios come in several different variants, including Albino, Leopard, Golden, and Longfin danios. So, you could keep a community of nothing but different varieties of Zebra danios for the ultimate low-maintenance setup! 

Guppies

Guppy Fish
  • Scientific Name: Poecilia reticulata
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 68° to 82° F, pH 6.5 to 8.5

These colorful fish from South America come in an array of colors and patterns, adding a splash of vibrant color to a peaceful community tank.

If you keep a mixture of male and female guppies, you will never need to buy more since these fish breed constantly! Provide your guppies with plenty of dense planting, driftwood, and rocks that they can use as hiding places, and feed them a diet of flake food with frozen meaty foods and the occasional mosquito larvae.

Because guppies are so easy to breed, they are extremely cheap to buy, especially if you buy a large group.

Platy

Platy Fish
  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus maculatus, variatus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 65° to 77° F, pH 6.8 to 8.0

Platies are perfect low-maintenance fish from Central America that bring a riot of color and activity to your aquarium. 

These beautiful fish are omnivorous and easy to please in terms of diet and habitat, and they get along great with other peaceful fish species. They eat a wide variety of food. Platies are livebearers, spawning readily in the tank. If you want to preserve some of the fry, be sure to include plenty of dense planting to give the babies somewhere to hide.

Fancy Goldfish

Fancy Goldfish
  • Scientific Name: Carassius auratus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: up to 8 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 62° to 71° F, pH 7.2 to 8.0

Fancy goldfish can be a beautiful feature fish in a large aquarium. They are one of the most popular pet fish in the world. There are over 100 different Fancy goldfish varieties to choose from, too, some of which are quite rare.

If you want to keep goldfish in a pond, you could opt for a selection of the long-bodied types, but those can reach over a foot in length, making them too big for an aquarium. However, Fancy goldfish generally grow to between 6 and 8 inches. So, you can keep two fish in a 20-gallon tank, adding an extra gallon of water per additional inch of fish.

Although goldfish are very hardy fish, you need an efficient filtration system, and you must keep up with weekly water changes, as these fish produce a lot of waste.

Betta Fish

Betta Fish
  • Scientific Name: Betta splendens
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 75° to 81° F, pH 6.5 to 7.5

Betta fish make a wonderful pet! These aggressive fish are beautiful, curious, intelligent, and can even perform simple tricks. Bettas must be kept alone or with a few small, peaceful tank mates, as two male bettas will fight to the death.

However, if you keep up with weekly water changes and other tank maintenance tasks, your betta will be healthy and thrive. Be sure to provide at least a 5-gallon tank if keeping a solo betta and choose betta-specific pellets as a food source.

Dwarf Otocinclus

Dwarf Otocinclus
  • Scientific Name: Otocinclus vittatus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 75° to 84° F, pH 5.5 to 7.0

Dwarf Otocinclus are a species of small catfish that come from the Amazon River. 

As well as being easy to keep, these cute little fish are helpful, too! Otocinclus are algae eaters, spending their days grazing on any algae growing on your viewing panes, decorations, and plants. 

These fish are a schooling species, so you need to keep a small group of at least three individuals.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

  • Scientific Name: Tanichthys albonubes
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1.5 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 60° to 72° F, pH 6.0 to 7.0

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are beautiful little cold-water fish that need a cold or temperate setup.

White Cloud Minnows come from the clear, cold waters of mountain streams in Southern China and Northern Vietnam and are related to goldfish, sharing the same basic water preferences. 

You can keep this hardy fish species in large shoals to make a stunning, low-maintenance display in a community or single species aquarium.

Ghost Shrimp

Ghost Shrimp
  • Scientific Name: Palaemonetes paludosus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1 inch 
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 65° to 80° F, pH 6.0 to 7.0

Okay, so Ghost shrimp are invertebrates, not fish, but they’re super-easy to keep low-maintenance pets and totally beginner-proof!

However, these busy little critters are easy to care for, and they help keep your tank clean by eating algae and other general detritus such as leftover food and decomposing plant matter. 

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra
  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1.5 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 65° to 80° F, pH 6.0 to 7.0

When you visualize a tropical aquarium, the first fish that springs to mind is the ever-popular Neon tetra.

Neon tetras come in several color morphs and make a glorious, sparkling display when kept in large shoals in a peaceful community tank. These beautiful, active little fish are easy to care for and relatively inexpensive to buy, making the Neon tetra the perfect choice for a low-maintenance tank.

Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb
  • Scientific Name: Puntius titteya
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1.5 inches 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 74° to 80° F, pH 6.0 to 7.0

For a pop of bright color, the Cherry barb makes a great choice for a low-maintenance community setup.

Unlike some of the other barb species that come with a reputation for bullying and fin nipping, Cherry barbs are peaceful creatures that fit in well with a community of other small, active fish.

Both sexes are beautifully colored and patterned, although the males display a gorgeous ruby red color that intensifies during breeding. Fill your tank with dense planting, feed your fish a high-quality, protein-rich diet, and your Cherry barbs will most likely reward you by spawning.

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Corydoras paleatus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 74° to 80° F, pH 5.5 to 7.0

Corydoras catfish are another trendy, beginner-friendly fish that are a perfect fit for a peaceful community tank. These cute little bottom-dwelling fish spend their time busily scurrying around the tank, scavenging for scraps of food, and helping to keep the tank clean. 

Corys are extremely hardy, disease-resistant, and totally peaceful. This fish really is a “set and forget” species! As long as you provide the fish with a clean tank, safe water conditions, and a varied diet, they will provide you with years of enjoyment. If conditions are right, Corys will spawn in a home tank, too.

Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra
  • Scientific Name: Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 72° to 82° F, pH 6.0 to 7.5

Another attractive species of tetra that makes a good addition to an aquarium containing low-maintenance fish is the Black Skirt tetra.

Black Skirt tetras might not boast the brilliant variety of colors of some of the other fish we’ve featured here, but they are nonetheless prevalent in the hobby. This peaceful species is slightly larger than most other tetras and can make a lovely addition to a monochrome-themed tank.

Galaxy Rasbora

  • Scientific Name: Danio margaritatus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 70° to 75° F, pH 6.5 to 7.5

The Galaxy Rasbora is also commonly known as the Celestial Pearl Danio. These beautiful nano fish come from Myanmar and are a relative newcomer to the hobby.

As well as being peaceful and relatively easy to care for, the Galaxy Rasbora is blessed with captivating coloration and markings, which makes these fish so desirable. Galaxy Rasboras are not true schooling fish. In fact, they are quite territorial, with males competing for the attention of groups of females.

Mitigate those behaviors by providing lots of dense planting, driftwood, and caves that offer shelter and potential territories for the males to claim. 

Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach
  • Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 74° to 79° F, pH 5.0 to 6.5

Kuhli loaches come from the blackwater environments of Indonesia and Malaysia. These little loaches adapt well to aquarium life, adding a quirky touch of color and fun to the bottom part of the tank.

Unlike some catfish species, these loaches are very active during the daytime, foraging, and feeding. These peaceful little creatures enjoy burrowing in the substrate, so you’ll need a tank with soft sand to cover the bottom and plenty of lush plants for the loaches to hide in and explore.

Mollies

Mollies
  • Scientific Name: Poecilia sphenops
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: 3 to 4.5 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarium Conditions: 71.5° to 82.5° F, pH 7.0 to 8.0

Mollies are another extremely popular tropical aquarium fish species that suit beginners. 

These low-maintenance, brightly colored fish come in a wide range of hues and captivating patterns that really light up your tank! Start with a common variety if you’re new to the fish world. Specialty varieties can be prone to disease due to inbreeding. Mollies are peaceful community fish that mix well with most other fish with similar water condition requirements, such as guppies and Platies.

These fish are livebearers, regularly producing fry, which adds to the fun of keeping them. They thrive on a flake diet in a well-planted tank with a sandy bottom.

In Conclusion

As you can see, keeping a fish tank full of beautiful, entertaining fish doesn’t have to be a massively time-consuming chore. All the species we’ve featured in this guide require only basic care and tank maintenance to remain healthy fish, and all are pretty hardy and robust.

If you’re not sure keeping fish is for you, start with a  10-gallon fish tank and a couple of goldfish as a low-budget starter kit. Whatever species of fish you decide to keep, you will need to keep the aquarium clean, maintain your filtration system, and carry out partial water changes every week to keep the water safe and healthy for your fish. However, those tasks are not tremendously onerous and are all part and parcel of the fishkeeping adventure!

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