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The Most Colorful (and Popular) Fish in the World
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The Most Colorful (and Popular) Fish in the World

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Apr 22, 2022

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If your aquarium looks a bit humdrum, it might be time to liven it up. Sure, you could toss in some bright plants or interesting decor, but the best choice by far is filling the tank with fish that truly glitter and sparkle. Even though there are thousands of fish species in the world, a few stand out as some of the brightest and most popular. Plus, with so many to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect fish for your aquarium.

1

Juvenile Emperor Angelfish

Close-up view of a Juvenile Emperor angelfish tane-mahuta / Getty Images

One of the most striking angelfish, the Emperor Angelfish, is a favorite of artists, photographers, and fish-lovers around the world, thanks to its incredible patterns. Juvenile Emperor Angelfish have dark blue bodies with concentric curving lines. As the fish ages, the pattern changes, becoming more horizontal and gaining yellow highlights. These fish are as delicate and shy as they are beautiful, so only experienced aquarists should care for them.

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2

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid HuyThoai / Getty Images

The Flowerhorn Cichlid is completely unlike any other sea creature you could care for with a name out of a fantasy novel and looks to match. Cichlids are already widely loved for their wild patterns and colorations, but its unique head growth makes the Flowerhorn even more special. The Golden Base and Golden Monkey varieties are some of the more visually striking types. Flowerhorns do best in water between 80 and 85 degrees F with pH levels of 7.4 to 8.0. Their tank should hold at least 40 gallons, but 75 is optimal.

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3

Clown Triggerfish

Close-up view of a Clown triggerfish tane-mahuta / Getty Images

Sometimes, the most glamorous creatures have mean streaks. The Clown Triggerfish gets its name from its clown-like polka dots and vibrant mouth coloration. However, its behavior is more reminiscent of Pennywise than Bozo. These fish will not only attack other fish but will also throw and rearrange anything in the tank that isn’t anchored down. Clown Triggerfish need meaty foods like clams, small fish, and shrimp. Their tanks should be between 72 and 78 F with a pH of 8.1 to 8.4.

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4

Discus

Symphysodon discus in an aquarium

Another type of cichlid, the Discus, has attracted a massive following of collectors and breeders and formed a multimillion-dollar industry, complete with competitions and shows. These flamboyant fish are among the most popular freshwater aquarium fish. However, they aren’t suitable for beginners because they are extremely sensitive. Discus fish thrive in water between 78 and 87 degrees F and a pH between 4.5 and 7.8

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5

Crowntail Betta

 Male Crown Tail Betta Fish

If you need a superstar for your aquarium, look no further than the Crowntail Betta. Not only are these fish stunning, but they’re also intelligent and lively. However, like most bettas, they can be quite aggressive. While some people claim that Crowntails can live in five-gallon tanks, you’ll probably want something in the 10 to 20-gallon range. Aim for temperatures between 76 and 80 F, with pH levels from 6.4 to 7.0. Also, bettas love to jump out of the water, so keep a strong lid on the aquarium.

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6

Clownfish

Red Saddleback Anemonefish

Pretty much everyone knows how charming clownfish are, thanks to a little guy named Nemo. However, there are many species of clownfish, each with a new color and pattern. Some of the most striking are the Red Saddleback or Pink Skunk Clownfish. Each variety requires a slightly different environment, so make sure to research exactly what your species of choice needs.

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7

Royal Gramma

Royal Gramma vojce / Getty Images

The Royal Gramma is the crowning glory of almost any aquarium, thanks to its bright gradient from one striking color to another. Usually, the pattern begins as a vibrant purple that shifts to a golden yellow at the tail. Royal Gramma are also peaceful and hardy, making them a great choice for beginners. Keep their tank between 72 and 78 F with a water pH between 8.1 and 8.4. Smaller tanks can irritate a Royal Gramma, so the minimum size is 30 gallons.

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8

Gold Dust Molly

Some people think of molly fish as boring or plain-looking fish, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. For proof, the Gold Dust Molly is a perfect example of just how radiant these fish can be. Other notable varieties include the Harlequin Sailfin Molly, Golden Sailfin Molly, and Gold Doubloon Molly. For common mollies, 10-gallon tanks are usually large enough, but sailfins require at least 30 gallons. Most varieties do well in water between 72 and 78 F with pH levels of 7.5 to 8.5.

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9

Electric Blue Ram

Electric Blue Ram mirceax / Getty Images

If you want a fish that will make visitors do a double-take, the clear choice is the Electric Blue Ram. This variety of cichlid sports a dynamic blue color that looks more like paint than a natural coloration. Like other cichlids, the Electric Blue Ram is quite peaceful and very sensitive. Only advanced aquarists should attempt to care for this brilliant little fish, as even minor environmental issues can cause it significant distress.

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10

Killifish

Kisaki Killifish Mirko_Rosenau / Getty Images

With over 1,200 species to choose from, you’ll definitely discover a killifish that you absolutely adore. These fish are so diverse that they live across pretty much every continent and come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some of the more aesthetic species are the Kisaki, Banded Panchax, Golden Wonder, and Steel-Blue Killifish. Remember that each species requires a different environment, so make sure your tank is suitable.

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