If you want a thriving, brightly colored aquarium then consider picking your freshwater fish by color.
When choosing the fish for your aquarium there are variety of different things to think about. Many aquarium hobbyists design their aquarium around a certain type of environment or they choose a specific grouping of fish. For example, you can an Amazon biotope tank using species native to the Amazon River and cater your tank to the water parameters naturally found in this environment. One thing that many aquarists do not think about when stocking their tank is color. If you want the brightest, most colorful freshwater tank possible, consider choosing your fish by color.
Popular Aquarium Fish Species by Color
Freshwater aquarium fish are typically not as brightly colored as tropical saltwater fish, but there are still some beautiful specimens out there. Below you will find a brief overview of some of the most colorful freshwater fish species divided by color:
Blue – Blue is a very common color in saltwater tropical fish but there are also many freshwater fish that exhibit bold and brilliant blue hues. Many betta fish, for example, exhibit deep blue colorations and there are several blue cichlid species as well. For example, the German blue ram, a smaller cichlid species, has bright blue spots on its body. These fish grow up to 3 inches in length and they can be kept with most community species in a lushly planted tank. Peacock cichlids are also blue in color, particularly Aulonocara nyassae, sometimes known as the blue peacock cichlid.
Another species that is known for its blue coloration is the blue spot gourami. This peaceful community species is also known as the three spot gourami and it has a subtle blue coloration with three dark blue spots. The blue spot gourami grows up to six inches in length and they generally get along well with other fish, though only one male should be kept per tank. These fish can sometimes be aggressive and territorial so they require a fairly large tank with plenty of decorations to break up sight lines.
Red – Many freshwater aquarium fish come in various shades of red such as the betta fish, the discus fish, guppies, swordtails, and various cichlids. The red wag swordtail is a peaceful community fish and a livebearer which means that it bears live, fully formed young instead of laying eggs. These fish grow up to 4 inches in length and they have a deep, dark red color, often with black on the fins. These fish tend to prefer planted tanks and they are best kept in groups with at least five of their own species.
Another red freshwater fish is the blood red parrot cichlid. These fish range in coloration from bright orange to deep, blood red and they are a manmade color variant resulting from a cross between the midas cichlid and the redhead cichlid. These fish can be kept singly or in schools (as long as you have a large enough tank) and they are generally adaptable to a variety of tank conditions. Blood red parrot cichlids are voracious eaters and they produce a lot of waste, so proper filtration is a must.
Green – The color green is not one of the more common colors seen in aquarium fish but there are certain species that have this coloration. The green tiger barb, for example, is a color variant of the tiger barb which is known for its striped pattern. The green tiger barb, as the name would suggest, has an emerald green tint to its body with a fluorescent sheen. These fish tend to prefer warm water in the 6.0 to 8.0 pH range and they are best kept in schools with five or more of their own species. Green tiger barbs can be mixed with tiger barbs and other similar species.
Some other freshwater aquarium fish you may come across with green coloration include betta fish, guppies, rainbowfish, and glofish. These fish come in a wide variety of color variants, so not all specimens of these species are green. The betta fish, for example, can be selectively bred for many different colors and patterns and guppies tend to exhibit a wide range of colors and patterns. Glofish are a type of genetically modified fish that come in a number of fluorescent colors including sunburst orange, starfire red, moonrise pink, and electric green.
Yellow/Gold – If you want your freshwater tank to shimmer like gold, consider adding some yellow or gold-colored fish to your tank. One of the most beautiful yellow freshwater fish you are likely to come across is the lemon yellow lab – this bright yellow cichlid is endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa so it is best kept in a biotope tank catered to its specific tank requirements. These fish have bright yellow bodies with a dark, spiked caudal fin and dark eyes. They grow up to 6 inches in length and they prefer warm water in the 7.8 to 8.9 pH range.
Another option for yellow-colored fish is the gold barb, also known as the Chinese barb. These fish have bright yellow bodies with reddish-brown markings along the side and orange-red fins. Gold barbs grow up to 2.8 inches in length, though most stay around the 1.5 inch mark. These fish are best kept in schools with five or more of their own species and they prefer warm, slightly acidic tank conditions. Gold barbs can be kept in community tanks with other peaceful species and they generally get along well with smaller, gentler cichlids as well.
Multicolored – Why choose aquarium fish that exhibit just one color when you can enjoy a multitude of colors? There are a number of freshwater fish species which exhibit a variety of bright colors such as the discus fish. The discus fish is a type of cichlid known for its round, disc-like shape and its bold, beautiful coloration. These fish can grow up to 10 inches in length and they prefer warm, slightly acidic water. They come in all kinds of colors and patterns, often with strips or spots.
Another multicolored option is rainbowfish or killifish. Rainbowfish are aptly named because they exhibit a variety of colors including red, blue, purple, green, and more. Most rainbowfish grow up to 3 inches in length and they are peaceful community fish, for the most part. Rainbowfish are also schooling fish so they are best kept in groups with five or more of their own species. Killifish are another freshwater fish that come in a variety of colors – they also tend to have spotted or striped patterns. Killifish make good community tank mates for peaceful species.
Feeding Fish to Enhance Coloration
Any experienced aquarium hobbyist knows that feeding fish a healthy diet is the best way to ensure the fish’s survival. More than that, however, a healthy diet can also encourage your fish to display their brightest coloration. Many aquarium hobbyists assume that a diet of commercial flakes or pellets is sufficient for their fish and, while this may be true in terms of meeting the basic nutritional needs of your fish, it is not the best option. It is a good idea to feed your fish a healthy, varied diet of high-quality commercial flakes or pellets supplemented with fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. Rich, nutritious foods are the best way to bring out the brightest coloration in your fish.
In addition to ensuring that your fish get a healthy diet, you should also make an effort to establish and maintain high water quality in your tank. When the water quality in your tank declines, your fish can become stressed and they are more prone to illness – both of these factors can contribute to dull coloration. In the most basic terms, keeping your fish healthy is the best way to preserve and enhance their unique coloration.
The fish you choose to stock your tank is not a decision that should be made lightly. The articles in this category will help you understand the basics of fish compatibility and will provide you with other information you need to make an informed decision when stocking your tank.