Freshwater Aquaria Part 1: A Guide to Selecting Fish for Your Peaceful Community Tank

Peaceful community tanks are wonderful for people who like to have groups of a species instead of one of each kind. Schooling fish like tetras, some barbs, and most danios will do well in peaceful community-style aquaria. Whenever you get schooling fish, it’s recommended that you get a group of at least 5 of a kind, though 10 or more is ideal! A fish of one species won’t typically try to form a group with fish from another species, but different groups can live peacefully alongside others. 

  • Larger schooling species like red phantoms, bleeding hearts, x-rays, lemons, candy canes, rummynose, black phantoms, white skirt tetras, black skirt tetras, kerri tetras or emperor tetras would be compatible schools to keep together. 
  • Smaller schooling species to keep together are smaller tetra species such as ember, neon, green neon and ruby tetras; danios like tinwini danios or celestial pearls; rasboras, such as harlequin or emerald eye rasboras; and peaceful barbs like cherry barbs, African banded barbs or butterfly barbs.
  • Livebearers such as guppies, platies, and occasionally balloon mollies can usually be added to peaceful community aquariums. These fish can add a lot of color and movement that stands out! Swordtails and ‘regular’ (non-balloon bodied) mollies can sometimes be added, but they both have a tendency to be assertive or semi-aggressive as they mature, so you will want to avoid putting them in community aquariums with any small or extremely docile inhabitants.
  • Bottom feeders such as corydoras catfish or kuhli loaches are great to have to pick up any flakes, pellets, or worms your main schooling fish may have missed! 
  • Dwarf cichlids and gouramis such as rams, checkerboard cichlids, Apistos, and honey gouramis are fish that stay towards the bottom of aquariums, and can sometimes be kept with peaceful aquarium fish depending on tank size and tankmate size. These fish are territorial, so only one (or one pair) per tank is typically recommended.
  • Invertebrates such as colorful freshwater shrimp in the Neocaridina or Caridina genus, vampire shrimp, bamboo shrimp, nerite snails, mystery snails, and rabbit snails can do great with most peaceful community fish, though some fish may eat shrimp offspring when they see them. 

Green neon tetras (red) , African banded barbs (yellow), and Checkerboard dwarf cichlids (blue) coexist peacefully in a fully-planted display tank at Blue Fish Aquarium.

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