Best Freshwater Fish for Cycling Tank

Are you looking for the best freshwater fish for cycling a tank? We have the best freshwater fish to choose from when it comes to a new fish tank. These fish are hardy, easy to feed, and fun to watch! The most important factor in choosing a freshwater fish that will stay alive and keep up with the changing parameters. When deciding on a freshwater fish, always ask your local fish store if it is a good idea. However, make sure the fish store is reputable. The last thing you want is a brand new fish dying and causing your fish tank to spin in circles. Here are our criteria for choosing the best freshwater fish for cycling a tank.


The first element we analyze is the most important one. Always choose a hardy freshwater fish. If you are a beginner, hardiness is the rate that the fish can stay alive. For example, a hardy fish can survive changing water parameters. This ability makes any fish that is hardy a good addition to an aquarium.

However, some freshwater fish are labeled not hardy. A fish that is not hardy will, unfortunately, die much faster in a changing setting. Therefore, if you are starting, choose a freshwater fish that is labeled hardy. You may ask, how do I know if a fish is hardy? Luckily there is a ton of third-party resources to use. A simple online search of the fish you want will show if it is a good addition to your home aquarium.

Eating Habits

Another crucial element of a new fish for cycling a tank is the eating habits. If you are a beginner, always choose a fish that is easy to feed. Some fish require specific foods and will not eat under stress. However, choose a basic freshwater fish that will eat any flake food. I have personally experienced purchasing a fish that required a special diet, then the fish dying a week later from not eating. However, after years of experience, you start to understand why. Before buying a fish, ask the fish store to feed them and what they are eating. Therefore when you bring the fish home, you can be sure the fish was eating at the store. These actions prevent the customer from being sold a bad fish that does not eat.


The aggressiveness of a fish is not crucial for cycling a new fish tank. However, depending on the fish you are looking to add in the future, you should keep a close eye on the aggressiveness. If you want a community tank with fish that get along, start with a community fish. However, if you are looking for large predator fish, start with a smaller aggressive fish. Fish are pets, and you do not want your pet getting killed by another pet. In extreme cases, some fish killings have been classified as animal cruelty. Therefore, ask your local fish store any questions when it comes to the aggressiveness of a fish.

Best Freshwater Fish for new Tank

After reading the suggestions above, you now have a better understanding of the criteria for a new fish. The Nitrogen cycle is crucial for any new tank to develop and obtain beneficial bacteria. However, you may be wondering what exact fish are best for a new tank? Look no further! Check out our list below of the best freshwater fish for cycling a tank!


When it comes to hardy freshwater fish, Goldfish are built differently. These guys can withstand college kids stuffing them in a bowl with sink water. However, one thing to keep in mind is that these fish are living creatures. When feeding these fish, they are known to not have a stomach because of all the food they eat. Also, the Goldfish will eat just about anything you put in a fish tank. However, we recommend feeding them fish flakes for an appropriate diet. One thing to keep in mind, if you have a planted tank, you might want to stay away from this fish. The Goldfish have been known to eat live plants and run into them. Also, make sure to have stable decor. The Goldfish is very clumsy and may knock over decor and other items in your fish tank.

Cherry Barbs

If you are looking for a school of freshwater fish to cycle, the Cherry Barb is a perfect addition. Many people wonder if Cherry Barbs are aggressive. However, they tend to be aggressive towards smaller and slower swimming fish. Therefore we do not recommend keeping Cherry Barbs with community fish. These Barbs fit the category of semi-aggressive much better than community fish. When it comes to the Cherry Barb’s diet, these fish eat a ton of options. However, we recommend fish flakes that you buy from the local fish store. Make sure to have at least a school of three Cherry Barbs in a fish tank no smaller than 30-gallons. This environment will increase the odds of survival and decrease the stress of the fish.

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are known for their beautiful blue and red color. However, these Tetras are beasts when it comes to survival. They are naturally found in settings such as the Amazon and smaller ponds. However, these fish know how to survive. We recommend a school of three when starting with these Tetras. Another factor is that these fish are known as community fish. Therefore they go well with the community and slower moving fish. When it comes to diet and feeding, we recommend fish flakes. Make sure to conduct a pinch and allow time for these schooling fish to eat. Neon Tetras can be found at just about any fish store. These are some of the staple points of a freshwater fish tank. Also, these guys are perfect for cycling a new fish tank.

In Conclusion

You now have a great understanding of the best freshwater fish for cycling a tank. We listed some of the best options we have seen personally. However, there are a ton of other fish that can also be successful. As mentioned above, when choosing a fish, ask your local fish store everything. They are there to help, and we want to see your fish tank flourish. Check-in every week for fish tank updates, news, and trends. If you ever have any questions, send us an email on our contact us page! Together, we will create your dream home aquarium.