The Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish for a 55 Gallon Tank

This article is a list of the best freshwater aquarium fish and includes some beautiful colors. Different kinds of fish have special needs you need to consider before you decide to add them in your fish tank.

To make the selection process easier, we have divided the fish according to temperament and diet.  You can select to create a peaceful fish tank, but you can have one or two types of aggressive fish in a tank of this size. 

Included are fish pictures that will help you make a colorful freshwater fish tank.  When considering what fish you want to include, remember which part of the fish tank they inhabit.  For variety, add different types of fish, including small and large freshwater fish, in addition to colorful tropical fish.

The temperature ranges of the fish are vital and have tabulated the temperature ranges of the fish on this list.  This chart will help you choose the best freshwater aquarium fish for your tank.

Tropical Fish Temperature Chart

This chart will help you choose the best freshwater aquarium fish for you:

NAME OF FISHLow °FHigh °F
 Jack Dempsey Cichlid (Rocio Octofasciata)7075
 Boesemani Rainbow (Melanotaenia Boesemani)7082
 Betta (Betta Splendens)7084
 Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi)7085
 Paradise Fish (Macropodus Opercularis)7074
 Endlers (Poecilia Wingei)7180
 Bluefin Notho (Nothobranchius Rachovii)7180
 Flowerhorn Cichlid (Man-Made Hybrid)7276
 Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya)7277
 Electric Blue Hap (Sciaenochromis Fryeri)7277
 German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi)7379
 Electric Yellow Lab (Labidochromis Caeruleus)7379
 Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi)7482
 Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma Heteromorpha)8285
 Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi)7580
 Salvini Cichlid (Cichlasoma Salvini)7580
 Celestial Pearl Danio (Danio Margaritatus)7582
 Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster Lalius)7680
 Fancy Guppy (Poecilia Reticulata)7682
 Florida Flag Fish (Jordanella Floridae)7682
 Discus (Symphysodon Sp)7782
 Rainbow Kribensis (Pelvicachromis Pulcher)7886
 Redhead Cichlid (Vieja Melanura)8186
 Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara Sp)8286
 Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus)8286
 Green Terror Cichlid (Andinoacara Rivulatus)8286

Fish With a Peaceful Temperament and a High Protein Diet

These fish require a high protein diet and have a peaceful temperament. The more fish you have that are peaceful, the less chance there is of war in your fish tank. Fish with a peaceful temperament make the best freshwater aquarium fish.

Bluefin Notho (Nothobranchius Rachovii)

This fish is 2.4 inches long and like birds where the males are colorful, with a bright red body with shiny blue marks, and the females are dull.  This fish needs living plants in its habitat.  The males are aggressive with each other, keep one male and a bunch of females.  This fish is an active carnivore and hang around in the mid to bottom half of the tank.

Discus (Symphysodon Sp.)

Discus Symphysodon Sp. e1594967546965

The Discus is a beautiful fish and comes in many different colors and patterns to create a colorful aquarium with disk-shaped bodies, between 6.5 – 8 inches in length.  It has small delicate fins that enhance the disk shape and peaceful temperament.  Keep them in schools with a high protein diet.

Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma Heteromorpha)

Harlequin Rasboras Trigonostigma Heteromorpha e1594967912833

This fish has a sharp geometric appearance with a pointed face with bright red coloring and a black triangular shape decorating its tail. It has a ridged sleek tail and fins about 2 inches in length. It is a peaceful carnivore that likes to be in large schools. It has an interesting and diverse appearance that makes it one of the best freshwater aquarium fish.

Aggressive Fish With an Omnivorous Diet

Aggressive fish may be kept together as long as they occupy different places in the fish tank.

Florida Flag Fish (Jordanella Floridae)

This dark fish has a long exciting body, spattered with bright red, green, blue, and gold iridescent dots. They are omnivores schooling fish, so keep them in groups of 6 or more. This fish is aggressive, but only when paired with certain fish.

Be careful if you pair this with fish with long flowing fins which they are inclined to nibble on. Active and will help keep your fish tank clean making it one of the best freshwater aquarium fish. For more on keeping your fish tank clean, try reading our article on Self Cleaning Fish Tanks That Actually Work.

Also read – How to Clean a Freshwater Fish Tank (A Step by Step Guide)

German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi)

German Blue Ram Mikrogeophagus Ramirezi e1594967902983

The German Blue Ram is a small fish growing to 2-3 inches in length and has a yellow body but reflects a brilliant blue shimmer.  Long and slender with medium length fins and tails.  The German Blue Ram has striking red eyes with a line running through it.  This aggressive fish needs 10-gallons of space (you can keep 5 in a 55 gallon tank).  It tends to stay towards the bottom of the fish tank.

Green Terror Cichlid (Andinoacara Rivulatus)

Green Terror Cichlid Andinoacara Rivulatus e1594967893437

Green Terror Cichlid is a large fish (6-12 inches) that has a prominent appearance with a dark, dull body and bright blue or green iridescent color stripes with bright orange edges on its fin and tail.  The firm fins and tail have an interesting shape.  It can be aggressive and is an omnivore best kept in a male-female pairing.  This fish needs rocks and driftwood and live plants.  As a member of the cleanup crew, making it one of the best freshwater aquarium fish.

Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus)

Jewel Cichlid Hemichromis Bimaculatus e1594967882288

This fish is 5.5-6 inches with a long slim appearance. Its body is a bright red color with large black spots and speckles.  This fish is an omnivore but aggressive.  Keep as singles or in a pair.  Warning, you may have to separate this fish into a species-specific tank.  If you need to do this, you may want to keep them in a smaller aquaponic fish tank.

Paradise Fish (Macropodus Opercularis)

This fish has bright red and blue stripes with large floating fins and tail and needs a living planted aquarium.  For more on keeping plants, read our article, Using Aquarium Plants To Create a Living Artwork

A small fish only 2.4 inches in length but is an aggressive active fish that sped there time between the mid and top half of the tank.  This fish is an omnivore schooling fish, easy to look after, keep one male with several females. Don’t keep it with gouramis, bettas, or guppies.

Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara Sp.)

Peacock Cichlid Aulonocara Sp. e1594967870497

This fish is bright with flowing fins and is about 4-6 inches in length. Males come in a variety of bright colors, but the females are dull brown.  A cave-dwelling aggressive fish if kept with females, the diet is omnivorous.  Highly active and needs more caves making this fish one of the best freshwater aquarium fish for large fish tanks.  Keep one male with four females.

Salvini Cichlid (Cichlasoma Salvini)

Salvini Cichlid Cichlasoma Salvini e1594967860444

This fish has an oval-shaped body with a sharp face.  A distinctive look with a golden body, black lines, and a contrasting bluefin. Needs to have driftwood, an aggressive omnivore.  It likes to stay in the mid and bottom half of the tank.  Keep as a male-female pair.

Aggressive Fish With a High Protein Diet

Aggressive fish can be kept together as long as the fish will spend time in different areas of the fish tank.  Adding enough food will lower the tank’s aggression level.

Betta (Betta Splendens)

Betta Betta Splendens e1594967852669

A small fish 2.25 inches available in a variety of colors with long flowing fins and create a striking appearance like a flower.  The Betta is a hardy fish with a carnivorous diet.  These are aggressive, but a schooling fish keep one male with some females.

Electric Blue Hap (Sciaenochromis Fryeri)

The Electric Blue Hap is a long slender fish with firm small to medium fins.  The males are blue with darker blue bars, and females are brown—active and aggressive carnivorous about 6-6.5 inches in length.  Keep one male with many females.

Electric Yellow Lab (Labidochromis Caeruleus)

Electric Yellow Lab Labidochromis Caeruleus e1594967843524

This fish has a bright yellow body, 4-5 inches carnivore with a black stripe along its dorsal fin.  It is aggressive and needs sandy rock piles and holes in which to hide.  An active, aggressive, and territorial schooling fish is best kept with one male and several females.

Flowerhorn Cichlid (Man-Made Hybrid)

Flowerhorn Cichlid Man Made Hybrid e1594967833879

This fish has a large striking hump on its head, bright red fading towards the tail.  Fins are flowing but medium in size.  This fish is large about 10-12 inches and an aggressive carnivore and is a solo fish.

Jack Dempsey Cichlid (Rocio Octofasciata)

This fish is 10 inches long elegant with small fins.  The body is light pink with blue speckles adding to the color.  Paired with rocks and driftwood as it needs cover.  This fish can be aggressive and carnivorous.  Active and stays to the middle or bottom of the tank. The bright colors, making it one of the best freshwater aquarium fish.

Also read – How to Build Your Own DIY Fish Tank – A Step by Step Guide

Peaceful Fish With an Omnivorous Diet

Peaceful fish are easy to accommodate as long as you provide enough hiding spaces for them.  As a rule, peaceful fish make the best freshwater aquarium fish.

Boesemani Rainbow (Melanotaenia Boesemani)

Boesemani Rainbow Melanotaenia Boesemani e1594967824510

A rounded egged shaped about 3-4.5 inches in length with a pointed face and small tight fins.  With a blue face fading to yellow and orange.  A hardy friendly omnivore and needs to be kept in large groups and easy to take care of.

Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon Axelrodi)

Cardinal Tetra Paracheirodon Axelrodi e1594967814571

The Cardinal Tetra is a small schooling fish with the bright coloring of bright blue and a red stripe from tip to tail.  These active fish add exciting movement in your tank. They are kept in a large school of 5 or more with a peaceful temperament.  In a 55 gallon tank, you can keep 25 fish.  This fish is easy to look after and has an omnivorous diet.

Celestial Pearl Danio (Danio Margaritatus)

Celestial Pearl Danio Danio Margaritatus e1594967805419

This tiny aquarium fish only 1 inch in length with a long body with geometric bright, colorful fins.  The dark green body contrasted with bright yellow dots.  The Celestial Pearl Danio is a shy, schooling fish and wants to live in large groups with lots of plants.  This fish is peaceful omnivore the school should consist of more females than males.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya)

Cherry Barb Puntius Titteya e1594967799869

This fish is 2 inches long bright red with silvery scales with flowing medium fins and tails.  It is a schooling fish that is active and needs many companions.  A peaceful Omnivore that is easy to look after, making it one of the best freshwater aquarium fish.

Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster Lalius)

This fish is 3 inches with an oval-shaped body, with large fins and striking colors.  It has cute feelers.  The Dwarf Gourami comes in several different colors and is active and, for the most part, a peaceful fish that is shy of others.  Keep one male with a couple of females as it is a schooling fish but not tolerant of other males. It is a hardy omnivore and swims all over the tank.

Endlers (Poecilia Wingei)

Endlers Poecilia Wingei e1594967789746

A tiny aquarium fish only 1-1.8 inches is like birds where the males are colorful, with bright, flashy greens and red, and the females are drab. This fish is a peaceful omnivore but needs double the number of females to males and is an easy schooling fish to look after.

Fancy Guppy (Poecilia Reticulata)

Fancy Guppy Poecilia Reticulata e1594967783990

The fish is 2 inches with a thin body and a fanned tail; the males are colorful and showy.  Unusual in the fact you can either have only males or more females than males but breeds rapidly.  It is a hardy, peaceful omnivore with a large appetite.  

Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon Innesi)

Neon Tetra Paracheirodon Innesi e1594967775669

A tiny aquarium fish is blue, with a silver abdomen and a red stripe and 1.2 inches long.  This fish is an omnivore, peaceful, and an active schooling fish.

Rainbow Kribensis (Pelvicachromis Pulcher)

Rainbow Kribensis Pelvicachromis Pulcher e1594967769579

This fish will contrast your other fish with its dominant black lines over the head and has a yellow body, a pink belly with orange tips.  Contrary to other fish, the females are brighter than the males. 

This fish needs a live plant, and if you keep males and females, they will breed and look after their young.  It is a hardy omnivore with a peaceful temperament that makes it one of the best freshwater aquarium fish.  This fish needs holes in which to hide. It has a long body between 3-4 inches.

Redhead Cichlid (Vieja Melanura)

Redhead Cichlid Vieja Melanura e1594967760959

A large freshwater fish between 14-16 inches with a square pink head fading to yellows and has blue, green, golden and dark speckles on its body. A shy fish that needs roots and driftwood to use as cover.  This fish is omnivorous and occupies the mid to bottom half of the tank.  Keep it in pairs.

FAQ’s on Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish

What Are the Best Fish for Freshwater Aquarium?

The best freshwater aquarium fish are fish that are compatible with each other and the environment you create for them.  Peaceful fish that like the same temperatures and different areas of the fish tank will create a happy thriving fish tank.

What Are the Best Fish to Get for a Freshwater Aquarium With Live Plants?

Most fish are compatible with plants, but the following are fish that need to be kept in a living aquarium.

  • Green Terror Cichlid (Andinoacara Rivulatus)
  • Rainbow Kribensis (Pelvicachromis Pulcher)
  • Celestial Pearl Danio (Danio Margaritatus)

What Type of Water Is Best for a Freshwater Aquarium?

Without a doubt, RODI water is the best water for all fish tanks.  It is easy to make. Attach a kit like the Aquatic Life Twist-In 75 GPD to a faucet, turn on the water, and as it passes through the system, it will convert your tap water into RODI water.

Things to Remember When Selecting Your Fish

The best freshwater aquarium fish make your life easier, and this comes down to making the right choices. Select fish that have similar temperature and PH level requirements or, at the very least, fall into the same brackets.  There is a lot of colorful freshwater fish in the peaceful section to create a friendly community fish tank.

The temperament of the fish listed in the 25 Of the Best Freshwater Aquarium Fish for a 55 Gallon Tank is based on the species characteristics; individual fish may display different degrees of aggressiveness.

Choose fish that occupy different places in your fish tank and create enough hiding spaces for your fish to interact with and allow the more peaceful fish to hide away from the more aggressive ones.  If you do this, it will decrease the stress of the more timid and shy fish.  Include caves and driftwood for the fish to hide under and swim around.

Also read – Best 30 Gallon Saltwater Fish Tanks

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