Best freshwater, non-aggressive & peaceful community tank fish

Whether you are experienced in oceanography or just an amateur who wants to get started with your own aquarium, this article is for you. It can be difficult to pick the best freshwater fish, especially since you are unfamiliar with these little creatures.

Behind every significant choice is proper research that allows you to make the best choice. Patience is important, so take your time and learn about fish and how to care for them as much as possible. The fact that you are already looking for freshwater peaceful tank fish means you know what you want.

Continue reading as we present you with X species of the best freshwater, non-aggressive & peaceful community tank fish. Take a look at each of them, and you will be able to make a final choice. 

Types of community fish

Although there are many classifications of fish, here is classification based on the type of water they live in, otherwise known as their habitat.

  • Marine water fish – these are those who spend all their lives in seas or oceans which have salinity above 30 PPT.
  • Freshwater fish – these are found in freshwater bodies like rivers and lakes. The salinity there remains under 0.5 PPT. About 40% of all fishes are freshwater fishes. These are further divided into
    • Coldwater fish
    • Warm water fish
  • Brackish water fish – These are very flexible fishes who can survive in a range of salinity from 0.5PPT – 30 PPT. The examples are coastal waters, backwaters and estuaries.

Freshwater fish are the ones that spend their entire life in rivers and lakes, so you will not be able to see them in oceans and seas where the water is salty. These species require a salinity level below 1.05% to survive. 

Almost half of the species of fish in the world thrive in fresh waters, so the aquatic life is somewhat balanced. These fishes are further classified into three categories, depending on the temperature of the water. You can find cold water fish that only survive when the water temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cool water fish prefer water temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and are commonly found in North America’s rivers and lakes. Lastly, warm-water fish can only survive in waters that are around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. While they can also survive winter temperatures, they thrive in warm waters. 

Large peaceful community fish

If you have a large tank and want to go big with this hobby, you should also get large peaceful community fish. The bigger the environment, the better, so the fish will also appreciate the increased size. 

Because they are relatively big in size, you might want to purchase only one exemplar for your tank. But be aware that some species will not thrive on their own, and they need to be part of a group to feel protected and safe. 

Choosing the fish most ideal for your tank is not difficult, especially if you pay close attention to the information in this article. See below, where we present you with the most popular species in this category so you can choose one for yourself. 

Rubber Lip Pleco

This species can be commonly found throughout Colombia and Venezuela, but their natural habitat can change constantly. It makes the Pleco very versatile and easily adapts to changing conditions and different environments.

The under turned mouth allows this fish to search for food on the ground and easily handle smooth surfaces. Because they can adapt easily, you can get them for your aquarium without worrying too much about their preferences.

Plecos can reach up to 7 inches in length, and you should place them in aquariums that can hold between 25 to 30 gallons of fresh water. 

Maximum length 7 inches
Optimum tank size 25-30 gallons
Commonly found Colombia and Venezuela

Blue Gourami

blue gourami

It is one of the most popular types of large freshwater fish, and they are appreciated for being peaceful with other species. You can find them at pet shops worldwide, as they are also affordable and quite common. 

Their body features shades of silver and blue that can shine well when exposed to direct light sources. In the middle of the body, there is a dark spot that can also be found on its tail. These species prefer lots of plants in their environment, so make sure you get lots of decorations.

In size, the Blue Gourami can reach up to 6 inches in length, and you will need a minimum tank size of 30 to 35 gallons. 

Pictus Catfish

These species are well-known for their unique behavior. They dwell at the bottom of the tank, and they don’t care too much about what happens in the upper parts of your aquarium. It spends most of its time looking for food so you can keep it occupied for hours.

Pictus Catfish are peaceful, and they don’t harass their companions. But it is not recommended to place them in the same environment with smaller fish because they can mistake them for food. Experts recommend having other species that share the same size, such as the Rubber Lip Pleco.

This fish can reach up to 5 inches in length, and you will need a bigger tank to accommodate it. Make sure your aquarium can hold 55 gallons of fresh water before you purchase a Pictus Catfish from the pet store. 

Pictus Catfish

Bristlenose Pleco

While the appearance of this species might make it look aggressive, the behavior of a Bristle-nose Pleco is peaceful and harmless. It stays at the bottom of the tank, where it spends most of the time looking for food. Completely uninterested in the fish that swim ahead of him, this is a good choice for beginners.

The bristles on its head are like small tentacles that emerge from the snout. It is how this fish got its name, but the rest of the body is usually dark brown with light spots. While there are no predators in your tank, this fish naturally develops a plate of armor to increase its protection.

It is not difficult to care for a Bristle-nose Pleco. Still, the tank should not be smaller than 25 gallons in capacity because the Bristle-nose Pleco can reach lengths up to 5 inches.

Maximum length 5 inches
Optimum tank size25 gallons
Commonly foundAmazon River Basin

Dwarf Gourami

While they are smaller than the Blue Gourami, they differentiate themselves with the colors on their body. From shades of orange and red to a bright white that shines under the light, these species are highly appreciated by those that have this hobby.

Suppose your tank already holds several other fish. In that case, you can add a Dwarf Gourami to their environment without worrying about behavior too much. These species are peaceful and are not known for starting fights or being aggressive.

The requirements to care for a Dwarf Gourami are minimal, making this an excellent choice for beginners. While they can reach up to 4.5 inches in length, the tank size should have a minimum of only 10 gallons.

Congo Tetra

The distinct look of this Tetra will appeal to many aquarists who want to grow their tanks’ population. From shades of orange and blue, the scales of this fish shine under bright lights. Their fins are long and add to this species’s natural beauty.

While they can survive well on their own, pairing them with a smaller group is recommended since that is how they like to explore the tank. Nevertheless, you won’t see any rude behavior coming from them as they are known to be very peaceful.

Ranging from 3 to 3.5 inches in size, any beginner can take care of the Congo Tetra since their requirements are minimal. However, you will need a tank that can hold at least 30 gallons of fresh water.  

Small community fish

While bigger fish appeal to aquarists with large tanks, some people want to go small to save space. Beginners also choose small community fish simply because they are easier to take care of. If you made the same decision, look at the most popular species.

Cardinal Tetra

These little fish are often mistaken for the neon tetras because they look similar, but they have several differences. The Cardinal Tetra has a long stripe of neon blue and red, and the color is more intense compared to their cousins.

Cardinal Tetras like to swim throughout the entire tank, so you should be careful when you place decorations. They can thrive well on their own, but it is recommended to feature more fish in your aquarium since they do better in groups.

Measuring only 2 inches in size, the Cardinal Tetra is ideal for beginners with a 20-gallon tank. 

Cardinal Tetra

Zebra Danio

If you want something vibrant and joyful to watch, the Zebra Danio is the best choice for you. Blue and purple stripes run along this fish’s body, predominantly silver. They prefer open swimming spaces, so installing tunnels or crowding the tank with decorations is not recommended.

While they are highly active and don’t like being slow, the Zebra Danio is not known to show aggressive behavior, unlike the Betta fish. Do not pair them with slower species since they will get intimidated by the hyperactivity of the Zebra Danio.

If you are a beginner, this is a wonderful choice since they only measure 2 inches in length, and you won’t need something bigger than a 10-gallon tank.  

Harlequin Rasbora

The unique appearance of this cool community fish is enough for some people to make instant decisions. The pink shades, along with the bright gold color, make them shine in any aquarium. On their back, they have a black mark in the shape of a diamond.

It is recommended to keep the fish in groups and purchase at least 8 of them. You will not have to worry about their behavior since the Harlequin Rasbora is quite playful and friendly. 

Any tank will do for their environment, but make sure yours can hold at least 10 gallons. Regarding their size, the Harlequin Rasbora will not grow larger than 2 inches in length.

Honey Gourami

If you are still unsure which fish to choose for your newly built aquarium, the Honey Gourami is always a wonderful choice. Shades of yellow and bright orange are commonly found on its body. As if the Honey Gourami valued aerodynamics, they developed a ventral fin on the front side, differentiating this species from others.

Amateurs will find it extremely easy to take care of the Honey Gourami since they don’t have too many preferences. Playful and peaceful in nature, you will never see this fish pick fights with other species. However, they are known to pick fights with other males if the size of your tank is too small.

Speaking of which, make sure that their environment is big enough for them to thrive in. Even though they are small in size and won’t exceed 2 inches in length, it is recommended to place them in tanks that can hold at least 10 gallons of water. 

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Despite its complicated name, this fish is fairly simple and easy to care for. Suppose you want your tank to feature only one specimen. In that case, we recommend you choose another fish because White Cloud Mountain Minnows only thrive in groups.

They need to swim together to feel safe and secure. Those that don’t pair this fish with other companions notice isolation and withdrawal from the community, followed by several health problems. They are gorgeous and pleasing to look at as they feature shades of bronze and green.

Make sure to keep the water cold in your tank since that is their optimal temperature. Because they only reach 1.5 inches in length, a small environment within a tank that can hold 10 to 12 gallons of water is more than enough. 

Glowlight Tetra

Shaped like a torpedo, the Glowing Tetra can be commonly found in the rivers of Guyana. They are happier in dark environments and might feel unsafe in clear waters such as the one you might feature in your freshwater tank. 

The body of a Glowlight Tetra is semi-transparent but also silver in color. A specific orange stripe runs from the head to the tail, giving it an iconic look. Under perfect lighting conditions, this stripe can glow in the dark hence its name.

Make sure to keep these tetras in a group where they can feel safe in the presence of each other. They are not aggressive as a group, and they are also peaceful on their own. Your aquarium should hold at least 10 gallons of water if you consider getting Glowlight Tetras.

Dwarf Pencilfish

Commonly found in the waters of South America, the Dwarf Pencilfish can also thrive in your own tank if you create similar environments. They don’t have an issue with captivity, and they will live a long and happy life in possession of aquarists that care for them. 

Regarding their visual aspect, several black stripes cover their body, which features various shades of white. You will notice red colors at the base, especially on its fins. While they are not pretentious, they do have some requirements and demands about decorations.

They are timid in behavior and prefer to stay peaceful. Do not pair them with aggressive species, as they will suffer and feel insecure. The minimum tank size is 25 gallons, which is higher than other small freshwater fish species. 

Some other types of freshwater fishes that are considered rare or exotic:

  • Black ghost knife fish
  • Zebra Pleco
  • Chinese paddlefish

Tastiest freshwater fishes

If you’re looking to eat rather than store freshwater fishes, these are the best options:

  • Wall eye
  • Crappie
  • Catfish
  • Trout
  • Striped bass

Tips for maintaining fish tanks

Daily to-doTwice in a weekMonthly
Feed 1-2 times in small amountsChange 25% of the water and add a balancing solutionClean the tank
Keep ideal temperature at 78 degree FChange the water
Keep tank light on for 10 hours Siphon the gravel
Clean the glass
Clean the decorations


What makes a fish a tropical fish?

A fish is considered tropical when it lives and thrives in a specific region right near the equator. These are considered tropical waters, and the fish can be found in fresh and salt waters. Because they are used to their tropical environment, you will also have to ensure similar conditions in your tank.

Are tropical fish freshwater or saltwater fish?

Both fresh and salt waters contain tropical fish, and it all depends on the climate. While the freshwater ones thrive in rivers and lakes around the equator, the saltwater ones can be found in the seas and the 3 oceans that cover the equator.