Green Terror Cichlid

Let’s be honest, what’s the first thing that draw hobbyists to a fish? I would say color. For this reason, compiling some of the most colorful freshwater fish out there makes so much sense.

While color is very important, you have to consider other care demands such as tank size, temperament, diet, activity and so on. When you combine all these things, coming up with your colorful fish can be a pretty daunting task.

Bearing these challenges in mind, I decided to thoroughly analyze and come up with different species so that anyone, no matter their experience or color preferences could have something they can go for.

I felt that a species that comes in any imaginable color, deserves the first mention. Fancy guppies are without doubt one of the most colorful freshwater species out there.

This is why they are among the early considerations for anyone that want to add splashes of color in their tank.

Fancy guppies look similar to betta with their fan-like tail only that they are thinner and stretched out. These fish come in different colors and patterns, so its safe to say there is one for everyone.

One thing to note is that male guppies are generally more vibrant and more colorful than females.

Guppies are easy to care for and ideal for beginners. They are hardy, although do not respond well to excessive temperature fluctuations.

Another advantage of keeping this species is you don’t have to keep a large group for the sake of the fish if you don’t want to. Contrary to species like Zebra Danio, Fancy guppies aren’t schooling fish.

While they appreciate a group of 5 and above they will also do fine in a group of just 3.

Lastly, they are peaceful, as such you have lots of options in terms of tankmates selection.

A very vibrant colored Guppy

Fancy Guppy Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: Male 1.5 inch, Female 2.4 inch
  • Temperament: Peaceful but males may be aggressive to other males
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Temperature: 74 to 82 °F (24 to 28°C)
  • PH: 6.5 to 7.0
  • Hardness: 5-12 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Cory Catfish, Mollies, Zebra Loaches, Platies, et Cetra.

Zebra Danio

The Zebra Danio is another colorful freshwater fish with only a few colors on its body. These fish have a color pattern that looks, well like a Zebra, which is where the name stems from.

The Zebra danio possesses a beautiful body containing horizontal stripes of silver, white or gold contrasted by another stripe of black, dark green or deep indigo. Despite having this simple color pattern, they sure standout in any aquarium.

Happily, they have all the features that make it ideal for aquarists of all experience level. They are hardy, conveniently sized and peaceful.

Zebra danios are compatible with lots of other peaceful nano freshwater species, so you are spoiled for choice when it comes to their tank mates.

Another cool thing about these species that deserves a mention is their incredible activeness. They are highly social and rarely stay in one place which is why watching them is always a thrilling experience.

Be aware that Zebra Danios are schooling fish just like Tetras.

A Zebra Danion (Danio rerio)

Zebra Danios Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 2 inch
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Temperature: 64–74°F (18–24°C)
  • PH: 6.0–8.0 p
  • Hardness: 5.0–19.0 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Tetras, Guppies, Mollies, Platies, Barbs, Plecos, et Cetra.

Discus

It’s impossible to disregard discus when mentioning the most colorful freshwater species. Apart from their unique shape, the next thing that amazes hobbyists about them is their colorfulness.

With so many types and varieties of colors and patterns to choose from, its hard to not find a discus that will suit you.

Some of the colors you can find them with include red, yellow, bright green, blue pink and so on. The fascinating thing is that the colors can come in a mix of dots, patches and stripes. It all depends on the kind of fish you have.

These fish are mesmerizing to behold nor matter the color. Their discus-shaped body helps revel their body color in a truly unique way.

Unfortunately, they aren’t recommended for beginners because of their high care demand. Their peacefulness doesn’t offset the fact that they requires very precise water parameters and complicated diet.

A colorful freshwater Discus

Discus Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 10 inch
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons
  • Temperature: 82–88°F 
  • PH: 6.0–7.0 p
  • Hardness: 1.0–4.0 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Difficult
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetra, Ember Tetra, Rummynose Tetra, Bolivian Ram, Gourami, et Cetra.

Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror is another colourful freshwater fish from the cichlid family and they look just as they sound. 

It is an incredibly imposing fish with a vibrant green coloration that stand out from the rest of the colors.

One thing to clarify is that the green terror is not a terrifying fish like most people assume. There are other cichlids that are way more aggressive such as the wolf cichlid or the red devil cichlid.

The green terror is a fantastic addition to most aquariums. That striking green coloration is so pronounced in some specimens that it makes their body looks as if it’s patched with neons.

To a large extent, they are easy to care for, however, their aggressive nature make them not suitable for beginner aquarists.

Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 12 inch
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Very Aggressive and Territorial 
  • Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
  • Temperature: 69–75°F 
  • PH: 6.5–8.0 p
  • Hardness: 5.0–20.0 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Firemouth Cichlid, Jack Dempsey, Flowerhorn Cichlid, Clown Pleco, Bristlenose Pleco, Silver Dollar, et Cetra.

German Blue Ram

The German blue ram has a body busied with lots of colors. Unlike many colorful species on this list that have a single color covering a considerable portion of the body, these fish packs different colors almost everywhere (most specimens anyway).

They can vary from specimen to specimen but most of them have a very exciting luminous dots starting from around half the body up to the tail fin.  

Another color that makes them standout is a dark streak that runs over their eyes. A splash of this same color can be found on the front end of their dorsal fin and also around the middle of the body.

There are two popular variations of these fish. The first one has an orange body with luminous blue dots and the second has a yellow body with purple streaks.

Satisfyingly, these sparkling beauties aren’t difficult to keep as opposed to the Discus. German blue rams are small, low maintenance and peaceful which is why they are ideal for beginners.

German Blue Ram

German Blue Ram Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 3 inch
  • Temperament: Peaceful (can be aggressive during breeding)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperature: 82–86°F 
  • PH: 6.5–7.0 
  • Hardness: 2.0–5.0 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Ideal tank mates: Cardinal Tetra, Dwarf Gourami, Rummynose Tetra, Corydora, Bristlenose Pleco, Silver Dollar, et Cetra.

Betta Splendens

Bettas have become so well known and highly sort after in the aquarium space because of their incredible beauty. If you were to ask hobbyists what do they like about their body, they will most like say their distinctively shaped fins and vibrant coloration.

Males bettas are preferred because they are way more colorful than the females. There are different kinds of bettas with different color variations but the most dominant colors are red and blue.

It is always fun to observe them and see how they spread their long flowing fins resembling a gorgeous flower.

Bettas are one of the best fish for beginners thanks to their hardiness and ability to survive a varying range of water conditions. They even have a unique feature that enables them survive poorly oxygenated water.

What they lack though is the peaceful temperament of species like tetras, danios or guppies. 

Bettas are highly aggressive and territorial. Which is why it might be better to keep just one if you are an absolute beginner at fish keeping.

A male Betta; one of the best fish for a 5 gallon tank

Betta Splendens Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 3 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Aggressive and Territorial
  • Temperature: 72 °F to 86 °F but most optimal is 78 °F to 80 °F
  • PH: Around 7.0
  • Hardness: 5.0 – 20.0 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetras, Mollies, Kuhli Loach, Otocinclus et Cetra.

Cardinal Tetra

Probably any fish hobbyist has heard of the family of the little sparkling beauties-the Tetras. If you have heard of the tetra, odds are you know the Cardinal tetra.

The cardinal is one of the most colorful fish you can have in your tank. Thanks to its red and blue iridescence stripe it can stand out in any community tank. Except in a tank where its cousin- the neon tetra is present which is why they are often mistaken for one another.

The major difference between Cardinal and Neon Tetra is the size and extent of the red stripe. The Cardinal tetra is a bit bigger and grows to a maximum size of 2 inches while Neon Tetra tops at 1.5 inches.

As for the red stripe, the Neon Tetra has its stopping around the middle of the body, while cardinal tetra has it’s running the entire length of the body.

Cardinal tetra is one of those species that can instill the fashion of fish keeping to someone in an instant. Watching a school of these little beauties hurtle in a well-planted tank is something you can’t get tired of. Their design is very simple and yet epic.

By happy chance, they are quite easy to keep and recommended for beginners. They also have a very cool temper and get along with lots of other peaceful similar-sized species.

The most important rule is, keep them in a decently sized school giving that they are schooling fish. A school of at least 15 Cardinal Tetras is recommended.

A Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 2 inch 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 73°F to 79°F 
  • PH: Below 5.5 to 6.5
  • Hardness: 1 to 3 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Ember Tetras, Zebra Danios, Neon Tetras, Dwarf Gourami, Pygmy Corydoras, Chili Rasbora, Hachetfish, Guppies, Kuhli Loach, et Cetra.

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are very similar in both appearance and requirements with the cardinal. Cardinal tetras are sometimes kept by hobbyists instead of the neon considering they are a bit bigger and would be less vulnerable to attack from other tank mates.

Additionally, Cardinal Tetras are believed to be less susceptible to disease than the Neon.

Regardless, that does not make the Neon Tetra any less awesome to have. As long as you set up a proper tank and pair it with suitable mates you won’t have any problem.

Their tinier size makes them even more mesmerizing to look at. You will just see flashes of blue and red in your tank.

I stress that you also keep them in a decently sized school. Try a school of at least 15 but if you don’t have the space you can settle for a school of 8. 

Just remember the bigger the school the more phenomenal they will look, and the happier they will be.

Neon Tetra swimming in a nicely planted tank

Neon Tetra Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 1.5 inch 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 70°F to 81°F 
  • PH: Below 7.0
  • Hardness: Below 10dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Ember Tetras, Dwarf Gourami, Pygmy Corydoras, Chili Rasbora, Hachetfish, Guppies, Kuhli Loach, et Cetra.

Gourami

Gouramis are not lacking the pattern and colourfulness of freshwater species like cichlids and bettas. They are of different kinds but the most prefered one are; Sparkling gourami, Dwarf Gourami, Pearl Gourami and Honey Gourami.

Gouramis can standout in virtually any freshwater tank thanks to their unique colors and patterns, with some patterns looking like an art mosaic.

These fish can be found in aquariums of hobbyists of all experience level. Compared to most cichlids, Gouramis are easier to keep. They are substantially low maintenance and are not so limiting in terms of tank mates selection.

Though gourami can show aggression towards their kind they tend to live peacefully with many other species.

That said, you need the right tank set up and suitable tank companions for them to thrive. A heavily planted tank is a must-have if you are planning on keeping gouramis.

On the plus side, they look even nicer when around vegetation (I guess this is true for most fish species).

I recommend you stay clear off this species if your prefer skimpy planted tank. 

Dwarf Gourami

Gourami Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 3 inch 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Mostly Peaceful but males will be aggressive to each other
  • Temperature: 77°F to 82°F 
  • PH: Below 6.0 to 9.0
  • Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Platies, Swordtails, Ember Tetras, Zebra Danios, Neon Tetras, Dwarf Gourami, Pygmy Corydoras, Chili Rasbora, Hachetfish, Guppies, Kuhli Loachet Cetra.

Jack Dempsey

As juveniles, Jack Dempsey tend to exhibit light grey hue with light vertical stripes. Just as they start to mature their real fascinating colors and patterns start to manifest. Most of them have a dark blue hue as the background color.

On top of that, a blue and green patch follows starting from the gill cover to the tail creating a beautiful and unique pattern all over the fish.

Some specimens have a contrasting red color on the tip of their dorsal fin. The fish has a pronounced light blue colored lip making the face appear bolder.

There is a very popular variation of these fish called the electric blue Jack Dempsey. 

It’s preferred by many hobbyists because of its captivating light blue hue which looks way better than the original one. It’s also smaller in size and less aggressive.

You would expect a fish named after the famous 1919 heavyweight boxing champion “Jack Dempsey” to be quiet aggressive, and that it is.

This is why despite being among the most colorful freshwater fish, the Jack Dempsey isn’t as wildly kept as a species like the Angelfish.

This fish doesn’t kid around with most other species that comes its way. The only species that will stand a chance with it are the ones within its size range and able to depend themselves.

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 15.0 inch
  • Minimum tank size:55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Very Aggressive and Territorial
  • Temperature: 72°F to 86°F
  • PH: 6.0 to 7.0
  • Hardness: 9-20dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Green Terror, Silver Dollar, Firemouth Cichlid, Plecos, Giant Danio, Rainbowfish, Loaches, et Cetra.

Boesemani Rainbow

The Rainbowfish is one of the few species on this list with a very simple color pattern. Surprisingly, that only made them look more exquisite and extraordinary.

They do not contain any fancy dots like those you see on the German Blue Ram for instance. Nor do they contain any fancy pattern as you see on the Gourami.

Instead, the front half of the fish is covered in a blue hue and the rear half is covered in orange or yellow hue with shades in-between varying based on the specimen.

It was gathered that the fish color intensifies based on the quality of diet giving to it and overall care.

Rainbowfish activeness makes it one of the major reasons hobbyists consider them. Their body is quite fascinating to gaze at through the tank. It makes them appear like some sort of a wave representation.

Concerning their care, they are hardy, though not as hardy as danios or tetras which is why they are a bit more challenging to keep.

If you are a beginner, you can still keep them successfully. But make sure you study their habitat and requirements, and set up a tank with those considerations.

Rainbowfish prefer being kept in groups, so a minimum of 6 to 8 is recommended. If want to introduce other species into their tank you have lots of options due to their easy-going temperament.

A colorful freshwater rainbowfish

Boesemani Rainbow Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 4 inch
  • Minimum tank size:20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Temperature: 70°F to 79°F
  • PH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 8-25dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Barbs, Tetras, Corydoras, Gouramis, Guppies, Discus, Swordtails Clown Loaches, et Cetra.

From its name you can probably guess that the Paradise Fish will have a nice appearance that is pleasing to the eye, and you be right. 

These fish is a type of gourami, which is why it is sometimes called the paradise gourami.

Without doubt, it is one of the most colorful freshwater fish existing considering the entirety of the fish body is enriched with different colors.

Like gourami, they come in different colors and patterns, plus they have one very peculiar feature- an elongated flowing fins that trail them as they move.

There is one popular variation of this fish characterized by a striking red and blue stripes running across the body and unicolored tail fin. 

In most cases, you will find blue/black spots dispersed all over the fish body and an orange caudal fin.

This color splashes and how the fins trail as the fish move make the paradise fish look spectacular in aquariums.

Regrettably, the popularity of these fish has gone downhill as a result of their off-putting temperament. 

In place of it, many people go for the less aggressive colorful species of Gouramis.

A colorful Freshwater Paradise Fish

Paradise Fish Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 2.5 inch
  • Minimum tank size:20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 60-86°F (16-30°C)
  • PH: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness: 5-30 dH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Ideal tank mates: Bristlenose, cuckoo catfish, clown loaches, large tetras, giant danios, et Cetra.

Endler’s Livebearers

Endlers livebearers are cute little fish with colors scattered all over their body. Their males grow to a maximum size of just 1 inch making them way smaller than the already tiny Neon Tetra.

The females however can grow to a maximum size of about 1.8 inches.

Like guppies or gourami, the Endler Livebearers also come in a varying range of colors. The most common you will find them with include blue, yellow, red, orange and green. Their body colors are scattered adorably. Their tail is mostly transparent.

While they are not a schooling fish they steal appreciate some company, so a minimum of 3 Endlers Livebearers is recommended.

These fish are also very low maintenance and ideal for beginners. But be careful with tankmate selection because they require harder water than many other freshwater species.

Endlers Livebearers

Endlers Livebearers Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: Male 1 inch, Female 1.8 inch
  • Minimum tank size:20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 75 – 86°F (24 – 30°C)
  • PH: 7.0 — 8.5
  • Hardness: ‎15 — 35°H
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetras, Cory Catfish, Honey Gourami, Zebra Danio, Chili Rasbora, et Cetra.

Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Flowerhorn Cichlid is noticeable in any aquarium not just because of its colorfulness but for its completely distinctive look. It has a large prominent feature on its forehead which facilitated the name “Flowerhorn”.

They come in different interesting color varieties with the most popular being bright-red with scattered white spots.

Another common feature you will find most of this fish with, are black patches running laterally from their tail to the middle and sometimes up to the head hump.

Note that their color can change as it grows from juvenile to maturity.

Many hobbyists keep them because they are smart and owners can even befriend them. Some owners have become so attached to theirs so much that can conveniently hand feed them.

Sadly, Flowerhorn Cichlid isn’t for everyone mostly because of its aggressive nature and the fact that it needs a considerably large tank.

It’s more suited for someone who has experience in dealing with aggressive species and can run a minimum of 55-gallon tank successfully.

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 12 inch
  • Minimum tank size:75 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Very Aggressive and Territorial
  • Temperature: 70-75°F
  • PH: 6.0-7.0
  • Hardness: 2-5 dGH
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Care Level: Difficult
  • Ideal tank mates: Bristlenose, cuckoo catfish, clown loaches, large tetras, giant danios, et Cetra.

Cherry Barb

The way male cherry barb turns in to a cherry-like color make them undoubtfully one of the most colorful freshwater fish around. 

Many hobbyists keep them for this reason and who could blame them? Probably someone who has not seen how awesome they look during that time especially in a heavily planted tank.

Normally cherry barbs are covered in silver/black coloration with a golden silver lateral line.

They are also one of the most recommended freshwater fish for beginners.

This is because they are hardy and able to survive a varying range of water conditions. Having a maximum size of just 2 inch makes them manageable size-wise, seeing as they need to be kept in groups.

They are schooling fish and need to be kept in a group of at least 5. Much like many aquarium fish, cherry barb require lots of aquarium plants they can hide in.

Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 2 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 73 °F to 81 °F
  • PH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 5.0 – 19.0 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetra, Ember Tetra, Chili Rasbora, Mollies, Kuhli Loach, Otocinclus, et Cetra.

Electric Blue Hap

The male electric blue hap is another colorful freshwater fish thanks to their excessive electric blue coloring. 

In case you are wondering yes the males are far more colorful than the females, which in most cases are silver colored.

These cichlid have more blue iridescence than any other fish I can think of. Due to this, they can’t be inconspicuous in any aquarium. 

They are covered in one color like a variation of the electric yellow lab but their color shimmers more.

The electric blue hap is fairly easy to care for and is one of the best cichlids to consider if you have no experience keeping aggressive cichlids.

They are not ideal for community tanks and should only be paired with other cichlids with a similar personality.

A Colorful freshwater electric blue hap

Electric Blue Hap Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 6.5 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Semi Aggressive
  • Temperature: 71 °F to 80 °F
  • PH: 7.0 to 8.5
  • Hardness: 18.0 – 25.0 dGH
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Oscar, Plecos, Silver Arowana, Big Cichlids, et Cetra.

Electric Yellow Lab

Also called the Electric Yellow Cichlid, this is a fish will add a spark of yellow to your tank like no other colorful freshwater fish. This is the reason why they are sometimes called “Lemon Drop Cichlid”. 

It’s fascinating how awesome they look despite exhibiting only one color.

Some specimens of this species have black color on the anal, ventral and dorsal fins running from one side to the other. The combination of yellow and black makes them look very classy.

For the most part, they are easy to care for but be aware that they are semi-aggressive and you need to combine them with only suitable tank mates.

Electric Yellow Lab

Electric Yellow Lab Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 5 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Semi Aggressive
  • Temperature: 71 °F to 80 °F
  • PH: 7.0 to 8.5
  • Hardness: 18.0 – 25.0 dGH
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively Easy
  • Ideal tank mates:  Oscar, Yellow Tail Acei cichlid, Green Spotted Puffer, Rainbow Shark, blue dolphin cichlids, Rusty cichlid, Perlmutt, Zebroids, et Cetra.

Harlequin Rasbora

The Harlequin Rasbora has one of the simplest if not the simplest color design on this list. Its has a very clean design covered in virtually two colors.

A school of this diamond-shaped guys always stand out thanks to their striking pinkish-orange hue and the contrasting black patch that extends from dorsal fin to the tail.

They are a nice addition to tanks due to their activeness which make them appear like some sort of orange bullets with black patch cruising around the tank.

Considering they are schooling fish, its recommended you keep a group of at least 6, but more is better of course. 

That should not be a problem seeing as they have a maximum size of just 2 inches. Tanks greenery will make them look even more awesome.

You don’t have to worry much about their care even if you are a beginner because they are incredibly hardy and low maintenance.

When it comes to tankmates selection, you can take your pick because they cohabit well with lots of peaceful freshwater species.  

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasbora Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 2 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Temperature: 72–81°F
  • PH:  6.0–7.5
  • Hardness: Up to 12 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetras, Danios, Guppies, Loaches, Platies, Small Barbs, et Cetra.

Salvini Cichlid

The Salvini cichlid may not look very colorful and beautiful when young but it turns to be a very gorgeous looking fish as soon as it matures. The color combination of this fish body is simply amazing. It isn’t the simplest and also not the most complicated.

It has a marigold yellow as the base color then followed by anthracite-coloured lateral line on either side. You can also see this same color on the face and near the dorsal fin.

Similar to most cichlids, you will also see some color variations of these species. The Salvini cichlid is also called the tricolor cichlid or the yellow-belly cichlid.

While these cichlid is relatively easy to care for, its not recommended for beginners. They can be pretty aggressive to their kind which is why it’s not always a good idea to have more than 1 male. 

Keeping them with smaller species such as guppies or tetras is out of the question.

If you want to keep other species with them, you have to stick to other aggressive cichlids within their size bracket.

A Colorful Salvini Cichlid

Salvini Cichlid Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 8 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Semi Aggressive
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
  • Temperature: 72–77°F
  • PH:  6.5–8.0
  • Hardness: 5 to 8 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Blood Parrot Cichlid, Convict Cichlid, Firemouth Cichlid, Plecos, et Cetra.

Celestial Pearl Danio

At the time the Celestial Pearl Danio was discovered and their picture started circulating on the internet many hobbyists didn’t believe it was real because of how intriguing they looked.

The fish has a busier color pattern than most tetras and many other fish on this list but that does not mean its design is chaotic.

The body is covered with very attractive white spots and orange or red accent on the fins. Those attractive white spots facilitated the fish other name “galaxy rasbora”.

Thanks to the iridescent nature of their fins, they can be conspicuous among other colorful freshwater fish.

The celestial pearl danio is incredibly low maintenance and can be kept by aquarists of all experience level. 

They are hardy, not fussy eaters and mostly peaceful. I say mostly because they are peaceful to other peaceful species and will get along with them without a hitch.

But among themselves, they are known to show aggression especially in a situation where by there are more males than females.

Consequently, it’s recommended to get the correct ration of female to male. You might not want to have more females than males considering the males are more colorful. But you have to, if you want a more peaceful tank.

The celestial pearl danio needs a heavily planted tank because of where they originated from. 

Apart from these things, taking care of this species is a breeze.

Celestial Pearl Danio swimming in a heavily planted tank

Celestial Pearl Danio Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 1.0 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 73°F to 79°F
  • PH: 6.8 to 8.4
  • Hardness: 5-10dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetra, Ember TetraChili Rasbora, Guppies, Cory Catfish, Sparkling Gourami, Honey Gourami, Mollies, et Cetra

Electric Blue Acara

The Electric Blue Acara looks as awesome as its sound. Some of the variations of this species have colors that look absolutely electric.

From tail to the middle (sometimes more) the fish is mostly covered in blue. The blue starts turning to dull grey or back towards the head.

In some specimens, this color doesn’t cover the base of the fish head, in other specimens it does.

In most cases, you will see yellow, white or black spots on either side of the fish.

Most specimens also have a very attractive yellow edging on their dorsal fin. This fish also has a densely arranged scales that create delicate and distinctive cascades.

This, plus a remarkable shade and gradient combination make the body of some electric blue acara appear metallic (with shimmering and everything).  

Contrary to most cichlids, the electric blue acaras are quiet peaceful- although they are known to bully other fish that are rather small.

You have many options in terms of who you choose to house them with, but make sure to avoid large and aggressive species. Nano species are also not a good choice.

This is fish is also among the best options for beginners that are into cichlids considering they are rather easy to care for, peaceful and don’t require a very large tank, like Oscar for example.

Electric Blue Acara

Electric Blue Acara Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 7.0 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginners – Expert
  • Temperament: Relatively Peaceful
  • Temperature: 72°F to 86°F
  • PH: 6.5 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 6-20dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Discus, Cory catfish, Oscar, Rainbowfish, Otocinclus, Bristlenose Pleco, et Cetra.

Rainbow Kribensis

The Rainbow Kribensis is among the dwarf cichlids and certainly one of the most colorful freshwater fish around.

Its scientific name Pelvicachromis Pulcher appropriately translates to “beautiful belly”. Considering how the color of the females’ belly turns to a vibrant cherry red hue throughout the breeding season I say that’s a fitting name.

It’s hard to get tired watching the females when their belly turns to that glamorous color. The good news is Kribs spawn regularly as long as they are established, so you will be seeing more of that color.

That is not to say they are only attractive to look at when their females are spawning. No! Rainbow Kribs are always gorgeous and come in different color variations of red, yellow, green and blue. There is even an albino version of this species. 

By happy chance, this cichlid is relatively easy to care for and recommended for beginners. It has a peaceful temperament and can be kept with other peaceful species such as small barbs, rasboras and other dwarf cichlids.

That said, make sure you don’t have them with other bottom-dwelling cichlids or any cave-dwelling species as they will become territorial in that case. 

You should also skip having them with long-finned slow-moving species such as angelfish because they are known to nip at them.

Kribensis Cichlid one of the best cichlid for beginners

Rainbow Kribensis Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 4 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 75 to 79 °F 
  • PH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 5-20 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Cory Catfish, Harlequin Rasbora, Cherry Barbs, Tiger Barbs, et Cetra.

Peacock Cichlid

The Peacock Cichlid comes in a varying range of colors and patterns most of which are absolutely beautiful. It has been estimated that there are at least 22 different species of this fish available now.

The most prominent colors they come in are yellow, blue and red. You can find different variations of these colors. Thanks to their unique shape and vibrant coloration, this peaceful cichlid can stand in aquariums just as much as an Oscar would.

In terms of body pigmentation, they have an advantage over most cichlid because their color is permanent. Yes Permanent! Most cichlid body pigmentation depends on the mood they are in or their breeding status.

The peacock cichlid originated from the very large lake Malawi. It is interesting to learn that the fish color varies depending on the region of the Lake Malawi it originated from.

Compared to most cichlids, they have a very laid back temperament. They are also relatively easy to care for, and if you want your colorful freshwater fish to be a cichlid this is one of the best options.

A colorful Freshwater Peacock Cichlid

Peacock Cichlid Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 6 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Semi Agressive
  • Temperature: 76 to 82 °F 
  • PH: 7.8 to 8.5
  • Hardness: 18-25 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Copadichromis, Placidochromis, Nyassachromis, et Cetra.

Jewel Cichlid

The Jewel Cichlid is suitably named for its bright coloration and shimmering appearance. Similar to other cichlids, this species too comes in different color variations.

There is a popular variation of this fish which is completely bright red with white spots scattered all over the body and fins.

In some lighting setting, those white spots shimmer almost like a piece of jewelry. Another common feature on this fish body is two large dark spots on either side of the fish.

High aggressive and territorial behavior has made many hobbyists skip having the Jewel Cichlid in their tank. 

Regardless, if you are so sold on their appearance you can successfully keep them by understanding their requirements and avoiding community tanks.  

A Jewel Cichlid

Jewel Cichlid Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 6 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Very Aggressive and Territorial
  • Temperature: 70 to 74 °F 
  • PH: 7.0 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 7-18 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Ideal tank mates: Electric Yellow, Peacock Cichlid, Orange Zebra, Kribensis (but species only tank is better)

Killifish

Killifish is another spectacular color enriched fish species. They come in different color variations and patterns, all of which are hard to miss in any tank. The color saturation of some specimens makes them appear like some sort of epic artwork.

While some colors and pattern might resemble those of another different species, their unique body structure makes them easily recognizable. The most dominant colors of this species are red, bright blue and green.

There is a variation of the killifish called the clown killifish that is favoured by many hobbyists. It is characterized by a bluish-green body with vertical white stripes and a prominent tail containing red horizontal stripes.

All things considered, the killifish is considerably easy to care for and suitable for beginners. Some killifish are small and mostly engage in schooling while others do not school.

Take note that male killifish may show aggression to one another if there aren’t more females than males. So, it’s recommended to have at least 2 females per male.

Lastly, ensure you provide them with a heavily planted tank so can they can have lots of hiding spots. On the plus side, they look even nicer in that kind of tank.

A Killifish

Killifish Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 6 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons for the smallest killifish
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful but males can show aggression to each other
  • Temperature: 68°F to 75°F
  • PH: 6.0 to 7.0
  • Hardness: 7-10dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetra, Ember Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Danios, Rainbowfish Zebra Danio Harlequin Rasbora, et Cetra.

Rubin Red Cichlid

The Rubin Red cichlid is a member of the already mentioned peacock cichlid. I felt they deserve to be mentioned individually because they will put a spark of red in your tank like no other cichlid.

The color design can vary slightly from specimen to specimen. In most cases, you will see their body covered in a vibrant red that contrast the blue markings on their face, fins and tails.

This fish is essentially a peacock cichlid so their personality is same. Water parameters and other requirements may slightly differ from species to species.

If you have experience dealing with aggressive species and are into cichlids and, like red color so much- I highly recommend this colorful freshwater fish.

Rubin Red Cichlid Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size:5 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Semi Aggressive
  • Temperature: 73°F to 84°F
  • PH: 7.7 to 8.6
  • Hardness: 6-10 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Relatively easy

Clown Loach

There are different types of loaches, but clown loach is the only one that deserves to have a spot on this list of most colorful freshwater fish. 

There is so much to love about the clown loach but most people are drawn by their very clean and colorful design.

To me, their color design looks almost cartoon-like. Even though they are very peaceful they are not for everyone.

They are highly social and need to be kept in a group of at least 5 which is a problem since having space for just one can be a challenge giving their size.

With a maximum size of about 12 inches, the clown loach is one of the largest aquarium fish around. 

As a beginner, you should not go for a species that will require a minimum of 100-gallon tanks to thrive.

Clown Loach

Clown Loach Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 12 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 100 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 77°F to 86°F
  • PH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 5-12dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Ideal tank mates: Cherry Barb, Tiger Barb, Neon Tetra, Black Widow Tetra, Kuhli Loach, Bristlenose Pleco, Discus et Cetra.

Oscar

Oscar is another Cichlid, and with so many color variations and patterns it comes in, it is hard to argue that it is one of most colorful freshwater fish out there. 

This fish is one of those cichlids with colors to suit everyone. You can even find some covered in a single color.

There is a popular variation of this species which is covered in orange and black combo and looks so awesome like a computer-generated graphics.

Oscars are kept by many hobbyists just for the sake of their intelligence. They are very clever and recognize their owners and can show emotions in their presence.

Oscar is a very nice pet to own, unfortunately they have the classic aggression of most cichlids. If you are planning on keeping it, know that you won’t have lots of options regarding tank mate selection.

Oscars are very powerful and can wipe out a tank of unsuitable mates or fight them grievously. They are more suited for species within their size range that are neither too easy-going nor too aggressive.

All things considered, Oscars are more suited for hobbyists with experience housing aggressive species and dealing with a relatively large tank.

A colorful Freshwater Oscar

Oscar Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 12 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate – Expert
  • Temperament: Aggressive and Territorial
  • Temperature: 77°F to 80°F
  • PH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 12-15dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Ideal tank mates: Silver Dollar, Firemouth Cichlid, Convict Cichlid, Blue Acara, Jack Dempsey, Severum Cichlid, Birchirs, et Cetra.

There you have it!

Thankfully, no matter your fish keeping experience there is something for you on this list of colorful freshwater fish.

The next thing to do is research further on the ones you like the most so you can know if you can successfully care for them.

Any of these fish will light up your tank. The only thing you need to do is provide it with the best care so it can reach its full potential.

I would appreciate if you comment on your favorite one. Also, if you have a suggestion on adding another species that you think deserve to be on this list I will appreciate your input.

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