25 Of The Most Beautiful Fish (With Photos)

Scientists estimate that there are over 30,000 fish species on the planet, which is more than any other back-boned animal group. Among those many species are fish with almost every imaginable shape and color, and some of them have to be seen to be believed!

In this article, we’ll meet 25 of the most beautiful fish species in the world. And the best part is, all of these fish can be kept in a home aquarium! Read along to learn what makes them beautiful and also whether they are a good choice for your fish tank.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Choose your fish based on their looks, but also their needs. Each species needs different water conditions and tank sizes to stay healthy
  • There are beautiful fish for saltwater and freshwater aquariums of every size. Koi fish and goldfish can even thrive in outdoor ponds
  • The most colorful fish come from tropical zones, but there are some cold water species with great colors too

What Makes A Fish Beautiful?

They say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, which means it’s up to each of us to decide what is most attractive. Fortunately, fish come in such an incredible array of shapes, sizes, and colors that there is a species to suit any taste.

Let’s take a look at some of the features that make some fish so eye-catching.

Shape

Fish come in an incredible array of shapes, from the long, cylindrical eel to the square-shaped box fish. There are flat, circular fish like the Discus, diamond-shaped fish like the mono and even triangular species like the angelfish!

Color

There is a fish to match any color you can think of, from pitch black to pure white and everything in between. Some fish have every color of the rainbow, while others are highly reflective and iridescent.

Patterns

Solid-colored fish are beautiful, but these fascinating creatures also come in various patterns, including spots, stripes, and almost anything you can imagine.

Fins

Fish use their fins to propel them through the water and to direct their path. Selective breeding in the aquarium hobby has created beautiful fish with amazing fins that are much longer and larger, but many species have naturally strange and impressive fins. Betta fish and fancy guppies will tend to have the most unique tail varieties of the bunch.

25 Beautiful Fish – My Top Choices

Now it’s time to meet 25 of the world’s most beautiful fish species. Each of these fish can thrive in aquariums with the right care, but I’ve included a list of important facts to help you choose a species that will suit your aquarium and skill level.

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Let’s get started!

1. Japanese Koi

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  • Scientific name: Cyprinus rubrofuscus
  • Origin: Japan
  • Size: 12 to 36 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: Pond
  • Special features: Diverse colors and patterns, rich history
  • Water type: Freshwater, cold water

Japanese Koi are large pond fish that are usually kept in outdoor ponds. These colorful fish first domesticated about 2500 years ago, and they have been specifically bred for their colors and patterns for more than two centuries.

Koi Fins

Koi are usually marked in white, orange, and black, although red and yellow are also common colors. There are hundreds of koi varieties, and the most sought-after varieties can cost up to $1.8 million! Fortunately, you can find beautiful koi for very affordable prices.

2. Fancy Goldfish

  • Scientific name: Carassius auratus
  • Origin: China
  • Size: 6 to 12 inches
  • Care level: Easy-Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Special features: various, colors, fin types, patterns, and body shapes
  • Water type: Freshwater, cold water

The fancy goldfish is another beautiful fish with a long history in the fishkeeping hobby. These beautiful fish were already bred and displayed a thousand years ago in China.

Today, you can find goldfish in homes and pet stores worldwide. The most common color is bright orange, but many goldfish have black, white, red, yellow, brown, and gray markings too.

3. Bettas

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  • Scientific name: Betta splendens
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Special features: Amazing colors, patterns, and fins
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

Like Japanese koi and goldfish, betta fish have been bred into various amazing colors and patterns. However, these gorgeous fish come in a much wider range of colors.

Betta fish are highly aggressive, which is why they are also called Siamese fighting fish. They were first kept for fighting, a cruel sport that is illegal in most parts of the world today. However, betta fish are still as popular as ever because they make amazing pets for both beginners and experienced aquarists alike.

4. Discus

Discus In An Aquarium
  • Scientific name: Symphysodon spp.
  • Origin: Amazon River Basin, South America
  • Size: 6 – 8 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Special features: Electric colors and flat, disc shape
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

Discus fish are stunning species from South America that have been bred to show a range of amazingly vibrant colors, including neon blue, red, green, and pearl shades.

Discus fish are not only one of the most colorful fish in the world, but they have a really eye-catching shape too. As their name suggests, these popular freshwater aquarium fish have circular, flattened bodies.

5. Fancy Guppies

  • Scientific name: Poecilia reticulata
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 1.2 to 2.4 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Special features: Bright colors, interesting patterns, long and colorful fins
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

Guppies are one of the most popular aquarium fish, so it’s easy to forget just how beautiful these peaceful fish really are. These hardy fish are super easy to breed, and they are a wonderful first species for anyone new to the fishkeeping hobby.

Male guppies are smaller but much more colorful than their female counterparts. These cute little fish can be pretty much any color, and they usually combine different shades and patterns, especially on their tail and dorsal fin.

Check out my guide to 21 amazing types of guppies to learn more about this beautiful species!

6. Freshwater Angelfish

Altum Angelfish in Planted Tank
  • Scientific name: Pterophyllum spp.
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Care level: Easy to intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 29 gallons
  • Special features: Triangular shape and long fins
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

The freshwater angelfish is one of the most elegant fish in the world. These stunning South American Cichlids don’t have the greatest range of colors, but their incredible body shape and long dorsal and anal fins have made them incredibly popular in the aquarium trade.

There are many types of angelfish, ranging from pure white to striped and even koi-patterned varieties. These fish are great for a peaceful community tank, although they need a deep aquarium to accommodate their long fins.

7. Cardinal Tetra

  • Scientific name: Paracheirodon axelrodi
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
  • Special features: Neon blue and red horizontal stripes
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

The cardinal tetra is a colorful schooling fish that looks amazing in aquarium community tanks and planted aquascapes. These fish have a prominent red stripe from their head to their tail and a neon blue stripe that glows in the water.

Cardinal tetras are a great choice for moderately experienced aquarists looking to add some color to a community tank because they get along great with other smaller fish.

8. Chili Rasbora

  • Scientific name: Boraras brigittae
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 0.7 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Special features: Miniature size and bright red color with a bold horizontal stripe
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

Small fish can be beautiful too, and the tiny chili rasbora is a perfect example. These tiny schooling fish are amazing to watch, especially in a heavily planted aquarium.

The chili rasbora is also known as the mosquito rasbora, and they are one of many similar micro fish species. These little guys are great for fishkeepers with only space for a 5 to 10-gallon aquarium.

9. Celestial Pearl Danio

  • Scientific name: Celestichthys margaritatus
  • Origin: Myanmar, Southeast Asia
  • Size: 0.8 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Special features: Bright orange fins and ‘galaxy’ spotted body
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

The celestial pearl danio is another beautiful nano fish that has become incredibly popular in the aquarium community. Affectionately known as the CPD, these tiny freshwater shoaling fish are peaceful creatures that thrive in well-maintained, planted tanks.

10. Gold Barbs

Gold Barbs Profile
  • Scientific name: Barbodes semifasciolatus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 2.5 to 3 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Special features: Golden body with black-spotted scales
  • Water type: Freshwater, cool/tropical

The golden barb is a beautiful fish that has been bred to show the amazing bright colors that make them so popular today. The wild form of this species has a greener appearance but is nevertheless a gorgeous fish.

11. Rainbowfish

Lake Tebera Rainbowfish
  • Scientific name: Melanotaenia spp., Iriatherina spp. etc.
  • Origin: Australia, New Guinea, Madagascar
  • Size: 2 to 8 inches
  • Care level: Easy to intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 20 to 30 gallons
  • Special features: Various bright colors and long fins
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

Rainbow fish are colorful members of the Melanotaeniidae family. These popular freshwater community fish come in many shapes and sizes, from the elegant threadfin rainbowfish with its long dorsal and anal fins, to the Boeseman rainbowfish with its bright blue and yellow shades.

12. Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf Gourami in Aquarium
  • Scientific name: Trichogaster lalius
  • Origin: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan
  • Size: 2.4 to 3.5 inches
  • Care level: Easy to intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Special features: Red and neon blue colors, long, thread-like pelvic fins
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

The dwarf gourami is beautiful little fish that comes in various breeds. Flame gouramis, for example, have bright orange bodies and a neon blue dorsal fin, while the powder blue breed has an electric blue body with vertical red stripes.

Dwarf gouramis make wonderful pets and will thrive in a planted tank of ten gallons or larger. They are peaceful creatures that can be kept with various other fish like corydoras, rasboras, barbs, and many others in a community tank.

13. Ram Cichlids

Blue Ram Cichlid in Planted Tank
  • Scientific name: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
  • Origin: Amazon River Basin, South America
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Special features: Neon colors and bold, upright fins
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

German blue rams are dwarf cichlids with some of the most vibrant colors in the hobby. There are several breeds, with colors that vary from solid bright blue to specimens with a yellow body and blue spots.

Ram cichlids are popular fish that you can find at many fish stores, but they are not ideal for beginners. These stunning fish require warmer water than many other species, and very high water quality is essential.

14. Sailfin Molly

Sailfin Molly in Aquarium
  • Scientific name: Poecilia latipina
  • Origin: United States and Mexico
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Special features: Huge sail-like dorsal fin
  • Water type: Freshwater, brackish water

The sailfin molly is a pretty fish with a really unusual feature. Males have huge dorsal fins, almost like the sail on a yacht! Sailfin mollies come in many colors and patterns, from pure white to black, and even bright orange.

Sailfin mollies are a great choice if you have naturally hard water. These omnivorous fish are livebearers, so they are really easy to breed in the home aquarium.

15. African Cichlids

African Cichlids in a Rock Aquarium
  • Scientific name: Various
  • Origin: East Africa
  • Size: 1.5 inches to 3 feet
  • Care level: Easy to advanced
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons for most species
  • Special features: Amazing variety of colors, patterns, and shapes
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

African Cichlids are among the most colorful freshwater fish in the world, and also some of the most beautiful. These fish range in size from tiny species that live in empty snail shells to large predators that hunt and eat other fish.

Most African cichlid species come from the great lakes region of East Africa where they live in huge lakes like Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi. These stunning fish come in practically any color you can imagine, from the shocking electric yellow lab to the multi-colored peacock cichlid.

Of course, it’s very important to research the needs of any fish before adding it to your aquarium. Most African cichlids need high-pH water to thrive, and their tank mates must be chosen carefully because these guys get very territorial.

16. Killifish

Gardneri Killifish in Planted Tank
  • Scientific name: Various
  • Origin: Every continent except Australia and Antarctica
  • Size: 1 to 6 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 10 to 20 gallons
  • Special features: Multicolored fish with interesting body shapes
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

There are over a thousand killifish species on the planet, and many have spectacular colors and patterns. These small freshwater fish are adapted to live in shallow waterbodies, and some even live in puddles that dry up each year!

Sadly, these species have a pretty short lifespan, but their eggs live on, even surviving, becoming partially dry before the next rains come.

Many species are available in the aquarium trade, and they make fascinating pets that don’t need a large tank. The gardneri panchax, golden wonder, and clown killifish are all amazing fish that you can keep in your own tank.

17. Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid At Local Fish Store
  • Scientific name: Hybrid
  • Origin: First bred in Southeast Asia
  • Size: 12 to 16 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 75 gallons
  • Special features: Bright colors and a huge nuchal hump on the male’s forehead
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

The flowerhorn cichlid is one of the strangest-looking freshwater fish in the world, but also one of the most interesting to keep. These fish are hybrids bred for the pet trade by crossing two or more Central American cichlid species.

Flowerhorn cichlids are available in various colors and patterns, including combinations of bright red, neon blue, yellow, pink, and black. Their most distinctive feature is the huge hump on the forehead of adult males, which can grow bigger than their heads!

Flowerhorn cichlids have big personalities, and they are very aggressive toward other fish species. These colorful freshwater fish can also be aggressive toward their owners, but they usually make very personable pets.

18. Severum Cichlid

Severums Fish
  • Scientific name: Heros spp.
  • Origin: Amazon River, South America
  • Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • Special features: Variety of beautiful colors and patterns
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

Severums are large but relatively peaceful South American cichlids. They have rounded bodies with big eyes and small mouths. There are a handful of severum cichlid species, and several breeds to choose from, including gold, red-spotted, red-shouldered, and turquoise color morphs.

Choose these fish if you want a large, beautiful cichlid for a peaceful South American community tank. They can also hold their own with oscar fish and others with a more aggressive nature.

19. Arowana

Arowana Fish
  • Scientific name: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: up to 3 feet
  • Care level: Advanced
  • Minimum tank size: 300 gallons
  • Special features: Huge, silvery scales
  • Water type: Freshwater, tropical

The silver Arowana is an incredible tropical fish from South America that most fishkeepers can only dream about. Sure, it’s easy enough to purchase a young fish, but providing enough space for it as an adult is a challenge!

However, let’s not take anything away from the stunning beauty of these animals. Silver Arowanas are strange and stunning to look at. Their massive scales gleam silver in good light, and their huge eyes and mouth give them a distinctive look.

20. Clownfish

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  • Scientific name: Amphiprion spp., Premnas spp. etc.
  • Origin: Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region
  • Size: 3 to 6 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Special features: bright orange color with bold black and white stripes
  • Water type: Saltwater, reef safe

The clownfish is one of the most recognizable fish in the world, thanks to its leading role in the 2003 movie ‘Finding Nemo’. These cute fish live with sea anemones in the wild, protecting them from larger predators.

There are many clownfish species, with colors ranging from bright yellow to maroon and even black and white. However, the ocellaris clownfish (Nemo) remains the most popular and is a great species for newcomers to the saltwater fish keeping hobby.

These peaceful fish can be kept in nano-reef tanks as small as 20 gallons. They are easy to feed, and you can even breed them yourself.

21. Marine Betta

Marine Betta in Fish Tank
  • Scientific name: Calloplesiops altivelis
  • Origin: Indo-pacific Ocean
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Care level: Easy
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons
  • Special features: Black ground color with beautiful starry spots.
  • Water type: Saltwater, reef compatible with caution

The marine betta, or comet as they are also known, is a fascinating and beautiful fish with extensive flowing fins. Their dark brown or black bodies are covered in small white or blue spots and they have one large spot at the base of their dorsal fins.

This large spot has a very interesting function. Marine bettas jam their heads into holes in the reef when a predator swims by. The shape of their fins makes these clever fish look like the head of a large moray eel, and few predators will tangle with those dangerous creatures!

Marine bettas are nocturnal fish, but they can make great a great addition to a tropical saltwater aquarium. They are peaceful fish, but they will snack on smaller fish and crustaceans.

22. Large Marine Angelfish

Emperor Angelfish
  • Scientific name: Pomacanthus spp.
  • Origin: Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans.
  • Size: 8 to 15 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 55 – 100 gallons
  • Special features: Bold colors and interesting body shapes
  • Water type: Saltwater, not reef safe

Marine angelfish are some of the most popular saltwater aquarium fish in the world. These dazzling fish come from tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Angelfish change color as they mature, and the juveniles can be especially beautiful.

Large marine angelfish come in various colors, often with bright yellow and blue stripes like the Emperor Angelfish. One species, the regal angelfish, takes this color scheme to an extreme level with the inclusion of a yellow tail and dark blue dorsal fin.

23. Dwarf Angelfish

Coral Beauty Angelfish
  • Scientific name: Centropyge spp.
  • Origin: Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans
  • Size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Special features: Amazing colors and compact size
  • Water type: Saltwater, reef compatible with caution

Dwarf angelfish come in a staggering variety of colors, from the pitch-black midnight angelfish to the vibrant flame angelfish with its bright orange color and black vertical bars.

These beautiful aquarium fish can be kept in tanks as small as 30 gallons, although some will do better in 55 gallons.

24. Reef Triggerfish (Blue Throat, Niger, Crosshatch)

Crosshatch Triggerfish in Aquarium
  • Scientific name: Odonus spp., Xanthichthys spp. etc
  • Origin: Caribbean and Indo-Pacific
  • Size: 9 to 14 inches
  • Care level: Easy to moderate
  • Minimum tank size: 125 gallons
  • Special features: Strange body shape and amazing colors
  • Water type: Saltwater

Reef triggerfish species like the bluethroat, niger and crosshatch triggerfish make a stunning addition to larger saltwater aquariums. These beautiful fish have very odd proportions with large heads and tiny mouths.

Their small mouths are what make these species safer for a reef tank, but bear in mind that no triggerfish is completely reef safe. These fish have sharp teeth, and they love to feed on smaller invertebrates.

There are many amazing species, but the crosshatch triggerfish is particularly attractive with diagonal black perpendicular lines separating its scales. Each scale is further accented by a spot of blue pigment for a dazzling display.

25. Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish in Reef
  • Scientific name: Balistoides conspicillum
  • Origin: Tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific and Indian Ocean
  • Size: 1′ 8″
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 300 gallons
  • Special features: Striking black fish with round white spots and a yellow mouth
  • Water type: Saltwater

The clown triggerfish is one of the most vibrantly marked fish in the sea. Their bold black and white coloration is accented with a yellow honeycomb pattern around the dorsal fin and a small yellow mouth filled with sharp teeth.

The clown triggerfish is a spectacular saltwater species with an aggressive nature. These beautiful fish can be kept with some other aggressive fish species, but unlike the other triggerfish in this list, clowns are not suggested for a reef tank.

FAQs

Which species have pretty tails?

There are many fresh and saltwater fish with beautiful tails, but guppy fish and betta fish probably share the first-place prize in this category. These fish have the most amazing flowing tails that really move in the water!

Which is the most popular species on this list?

The goldfish is the most popular pet fish in the world. These beautiful fish have been kept for centuries, and they are still just as popular as ever!

Goldfish are not the only ultra-popular aquarium fish on this list, though. The fancy guppy and the siamese fighting fish are just as recognizable.

What is the most unique-looking species on the list?

The flowerhorn cichlid is probably the most unique-looking fish in our top 25. These strange hybrid fish really stand out with their huge bulging foreheads!

Final Thoughts

Fish are some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet, period. The variety of species available to the modern hobbyist means there’s a species out there to suit everyone’s tastes.

Of course, there are many more than just 25 beautiful fish types worldwide, but these are certainly my favorites!

Which fish do you think is most beautiful? Share your favorites in the comments below! Give us a sub on your YouTube Channel if you want to see some of our video content.

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