When it comes to aquarium fish, hardy and easy to care for are at the top of the list for most hobbyists – whether they be amateurs or experts, fresh or saltwater fish keepers. So, what are the easiest fish to maintain in captivity you may ask?
The easiest fish to care for are those that are peaceful in temperament, aren’t picky eaters, adapt to various water conditions, and work to help keep their aquarium clean. There are at least 8 species each both fresh and saltwater fish as well as some ‘cleaner’ shrimp that fit this description.
Now that you know the criteria by which easy-to-care-for aquarium fish are judged, let’s explore this topic together in more detail. We’ll learn which species are best for beginners, what fresh and saltwater fish are considered low maintenance, and what invertebrates are good for keeping their tank clean.
So, if you’re ready to learn all you need know about low maintenance aquarium fish, then let’s begin!
What is the Easiest Fish for Beginners?
The easiest fish to care for in captivity are docile in nature and get along well with others. Species that can live in less-than-ideal water conditions and aren’t picky eaters are also considered hardy and easy to maintain. Fish that will survive just fine if you forget to feed them for a day or two are also on this list. Cleaner fish are also good for beginner hobbyists since they help keep the tank clean.
It’s usually recommended that amateur fish keepers ‘start small’ with just a few fish in not too big of a tank. Freshwater species are also encouraged since saltwater fish tend to be harder to maintain. What you want are survivors – fish that can adapt to various aquatic environments with ease.
For freshwater, I’d recommend goldfish as the easiest fish to care for. Since goldfish don’t require a heated tank, I will also recommend a tropical freshwater fish as the easiest which would be the guppy.
For saltwater, I’d recommend clownfish as the easiest fish to care for.
For more information on those fish and more, please keep reading.
What are the Easiest Freshwater Fish to Take Care of?
The 8 best freshwater fish considered to be low maintenance and easy to care for include:
Bettas are hardy and can adapt to almost any size tank, even one as small as 2 gallons (though a 5-gallon aquarium is better). They’re easy to feed and maintain, provided you keep them alone or with other fish of similar size and non-aggressive temperament.
Goldfish are very easy to keep. They eat almost anything offered to them and can tolerate fluctuations in water temperature and pH better than most freshwater fish. They’ll also nibble on algae which helps keep their tank clean and free of pollutants.
As mentioned previously goldfish do not require a heater and can survive in room temperature water. it’s okay to put them in a heated tropical tank, it’s just not necessary to have heat it heated.
As easy as goldfish are to care for if you haven’t owned them before you should know that they are extremely messy fish. They have big poops and tend to disrupt decorations in an overly crowded tank.
Guppies are tiny fish and easy to maintain in captivity. All they need is a few others of their kind to school with, a simple diet of fish flakes and a clean tank. Cheap to purchase, this species will help keep their aquatic environment clean by nibbling on excess algae.
Guppies will breed easily and if you have male and female genders in the tank you can expect to have baby guppies quite often. This is a bonus as you won’t need to buy fish for a very long time.
Like guppies though larger in size, mollies can survive in both fresh and brackish water conditions. They’ll eat almost anything offered to them and cost very little to purchase. This species is great for beginners due to their hardy nature and peaceful temperament.
Colorful and peaceful, platies are hardy and easy to care for. The perfect addition to almost any freshwater community tank, this species can survive in a smaller 10-gallon tank and will tolerate a wide range of water conditions – which is great for beginner hobbyists.
Tetras, especially neons, are small and peaceful. They spend most of their time swimming about the tank in a school of 6 or more. Hardy and inexpensive, tetras can survive on little more than fish flakes and in less-than-perfect aquatic conditions.
Swordtails are highly adaptable and not very demanding when it comes to care. They do well in a wide range of aquatic conditions and will eat virtually anything plant- or meat-based. Their hardy nature makes them a popular choice for beginner hobbyists.
Zebra danios are small schooling fish and easy to keep in a captive aquatic environment. They can survive in cooler water conditions and don’t require an expensive filtration system. All they really need to thrive are some micro pellets or fish flakes for sustenance.
What are the Easiest Saltwater Fish to Take Care of?
The 8 best saltwater fish considered to be low maintenance and easy to care for include:
Saltwater angelfish usually acclimate well to aquarium life. Hardy and inexpensive to purchase, dwarf or pygmy angels do well in a medium-sized tank (50-gallons) and are a good starter fish for beginner or intermediate saltwater hobbyists.
Butterflyfish are non-aggressive and easier to keep in comparison to other saltwater fish. The pyramid butterfly (in particular) is easy to acclimate, not that difficult to feed, and reef safe. It’s also docile and non-aggressive when kept in a larger aquatic environment.
Cardinalfish tend to be peaceful in nature and do well in small groups of 5 or more. Banggai cardinals are one of the easiest of their kind to keep in captivity. Feeding them a meat-based diet and housing them in a well-filtered 30-gallon tank is all they really need.
Clownfish, especially ocellaris and true or false percula, are small and easy to care for by saltwater aquarium standards. Though territorial and semi-aggressive, if you provide this species with a large aquatic environment and an anemone, it will thrive in mated pair while in captivity.
The clownfish is one of my favorite saltwater fish to own. Not only because of how easy they are to care for but watching them is a extremely enjoyable.
Damselfish, particularly the blue green chromis type, are an easy species of saltwater fish to care for in captivity. Generally considered to be one of the lowest maintenance marine fish around, this species is ideal for beginner hobbyists and can tolerate a wide range of aquatic conditions.
I say that about the green chromis however a blue damsel is probably comparable in ease of care.
Dottybacks are small and can thrive in a medium-sized tank with little more than ample food and a clean aquatic environment. Easy to care for with a relatively peaceful disposition, this species is a great starter fish for beginner marine hobbyists.
Gobies, especially the firefish type, are a great choice for amateur hobbyists and stay relatively small – making them the perfect choice for a medium-size (20-gallon) marine tank. Peaceful and timid, firefish gobies are reef safe and do well on simple omnivore diet of algae, zooplankton, mysis and brine shrimp.
Lawnmower blennies are great algae eaters. This benefits any marine tank, especially new ones where algae grows faster as the nitrate level rises. Peaceful in nature, blennies are bottom dwellers that spend most of their day foraging along the substrate in search of an easy meal.
What Invertebrates are Easiest to Care for?
Aquarium shrimps are a great addition to both fresh and saltwater aquariums. They work overtime to help keep their aquatic environment both clean and safe. They generally get along well with other fish and tend to be quite easy to maintain.
The best low maintenance freshwater shrimp include amano, ghost and red cherry shrimp whereas bumblebee, harlequin, and peppermint shrimp are great for a saltwater tank. These invertebrates can adapt well to most aquatic conditions and help create a healthy environment for all tank inhabitants.
To summarize, the easiest fish to maintain are peaceful in nature and get along well with others. They also eat anything offered to them and can adapt to less-than-perfect water conditions. Species that help keep their tank clean require minimal effort and are especially good for beginners.
I hope you’ve found this article to be both interesting and informative. Thanks for reading and best of luck with your aquarium hobby.