Top 22 Best Community Fish: Ranked By Compatibility

A community tank is often the crowning jewel of any fish keeper’s collection.

One of the most important steps is picking compatible fish.

A good community fish is one that has a calm and peaceful temperament. They are well behaved species that are unlikely to create tension or stress in the tank.

Different types of community fish will have slightly different preferences. Some will occupy higher levels of the tank and like to shoal whereas others are bottom-dwellers and like to hide among plants. A good community tank will have a variety of these fish as they are less likely to clash with each other.

In this article we have ranked the 22 most popular community fish by tank mate compatibility.

22 Types of Peaceful Community Fish

22. Bolivian Ram

Bolivian Ram

You may be surprised to hear the name cichlid appear in this list!

But the Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) is unexpectedly peaceful and makes a great contribution to community tanks.

They have subtle coloring on their body with slight splashes of red and black, but their overall body will be silver/grey. Their iridescent appearance has given them other common names such as the Butterfly Ram or Ruby Clown Cichlid.

These fish have a very curious nature and like to explore their surroundings so they will ignore most fish. They will enjoy each other’s company if kept in pairs or groups.

Overall, these fish make the perfect addition for community tanks. They can recognize their owners and have a very agreeable personality so they will get along with many community fish species.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Silver Dollars, Tetras and Kuhli Loaches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 3/5

21. Peacock Goby

Peacock Goby

These unique looking fish make the perfect addition to any community as their bold patterns and vibrant colors will shimmer throughout the tank.

Unlike most small freshwater fish the Peacock Gudgeons (Tateurndina ocellicauda) are a silvery-blue color with a yellowish tone towards the underside. The shade of blue varies in each individual. They are covered in vertical lines of red spots and have a dark patch on their tail.

They should not be kept in tanks with smaller fish as they may mistake them for food. Peacock Gobys need a stimulating diet and detest flakes and pellets.

Overall these fish do not pay much attention to others within the tank. This makes them compatible with the majority of similarly sized fish.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Cherry Barb, Cory Catfish and Harlequin Rasbora
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 3/5

20. Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling Gourami

Just like the name suggests, these fish shimmer and sparkle throughout the tank. They are slender-looking fish with iridescent scales and semi-transparent fins. Their body may also be patterned with brown and blue stripes and spots. Their appearance is what makes them attractive for community tanks.

Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) occupy all regions of the tank as they have unique breathing behaviors so you may find them swimming towards the surface or hiding near plants at the bottom.

They are quite shy and small but can get quite territorial at times.

Nevertheless, they do make peaceful community fish and are very small so cannot cause too much tension in the tank.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Rasboras and other Gouramis
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 3/5

19. Threadfin Rainbow

Threadfin Rainbow

This extravagant fish is definitely an eye-catcher.

They have a distinctive forked tail fin and various shades of yellow and gold. The fins at the bottom half of the body are jet black and are a striking ray-like shape.

Scientifically named as Iriatherina werneri, the Threadfin Rainbow is a beautiful fish but can be delicate and requires specific care requirements. For instance, water chemistry has to be very stable as they are vulnerable to changes.

Overall they are a very calm species and do well in community tanks. Just watch out for their flowy fins which can be targeted by fin-nippers. They may also be outcompeted when it comes to feeding so watch out for this too.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Pygmys and Otocinclus Catfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 3/5

18. Bala Shark

Group of Bala Shark

The Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus) might look like a marine shark but these little fish are not as scary as their name might suggest.

Their calm and peaceful nature means they are very compatible with other species. They thrive when kept with Rainbow Fish, Gouramis, other Bala Sharks.

Bala Sharks have a shimmery silver body bordered with black margins on the fins and tails.

Just remember that they get easily stressed if there are no hiding places available in the tank so an aquarium with lots of live plants is vital.

As intimidating as they might sound, Bala Sharks are not at all aggressive and get along well with many different fish. The main problem is that their perky and active nature can stress out smaller and less active fish, so it is advised to avoid keeping them in community tanks with smaller more skittish species.

  • Size: 12 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Rainbow Fish, Gourami, other Bala Sharks
  • Minimum Tank Size: 120 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

17. Diamond Tetra

Diamond Tetra

Diamond Tetras (Moenkhausia pittieri) really do look like little diamonds, twinkling in the water with their shiny silver scales. They also have a distinctive red patch on top of their eyes.

These friendly fish do well in community tanks and often have high levels of activity. That being said, they are not known to disturb other species and will generally keep to themselves rather than actively pursue other fish. These fish enjoy being in groups of their own kind as they are very sociable.

They like to constantly feed due to their active lifestyle so they do occasionally bite at plants in the tank. If they are fed properly they will leave the plants alone.

  • Size: 2-2.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Danios and Rasboras
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

16. Dwarf Pencilfish

Dwarf Pencilfish

Dwarf Pencilfish (Nannostomus marginatus) belong to the Lebiasinidae family and are a unique looking fish. Black, red and cream stripes laterally cover their body which contrasts with their rather transparent fins which only have a drop of red on them.

Like many other tropical freshwater species, they are native to the streams and tributaries that run through South America.

These tiny fish are quite shy which makes them the ideal community fish. They are unlikely to approach other fish in the tank and will most often stay in hiding. They do not do well with large and aggressive species and require other gentle and timid tank mates.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Tetras and Peaceful Catfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

15. Marbled Hatchetfish

Marbled Hatchetfish

Marbled Hatchetfish (Carnegiella strigata) very easy to recognize with their large round belly and a triangular-shaped body.

They are named after the marble pattern on their body which of often shades of brown and black on a silver base.

Marbled Hatchetfish are hardy and are not prone to diseases. Due to their relative disease resistance, outbreaks in tanks are less likely to happen making them the ideal community fish.

They are best kept together as a group of 6-8 and will be more sociable in this setting. However, their shy nature means that you should avoid putting them in a tank with hostile species as they are likely to become the target of aggression.

Overall they are a must have for any community tank.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Tetras, Loricariids and Corydoras
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

14. Platy Fish

Platy Fish

Scientifically known as Xiphophorus maculatus, these active fish come in lots of different colors ranging from bright orange to dark black.

They are considered a very peaceful species and get along with lots of other community fish. They are unlikely to cause any issues in the tank and are very docile. However, it is advised that they should not be kept with guppies as they may try to breed with them.

Instead consider keeping them with Angelfish and Swordtails.

Their looks are very unique with their pointy front and wide body and tail.

Overall a great pick if you are looking to add some color to your community tank.

  • Size: 2-3 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Angelfish and Swordtails
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

13. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

These fish are a true shoaling species so they are sociable and friendly.

Originally from the mountains of China, the White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys micagemmae) thrives in schools.

Even in a community tank with other fish they can feel incredibly lonely which can cause them to become more susceptible to health issues.

Their appearance is very controversial too as they do not really resemble clouds. Instead they have a shimmery bronze tone with a luminous line running along their body and have a white belly. You may come across golden varieties too.

Just remember though that these minnows are actually a cold-water species. This means that they cannot be kept in tropical community tanks. You can consider keeping them with Guppies and Platys. Their small size does make them vulnerable to larger and more aggressive species so they should be kept separated from them.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Celestial Pearl Danios and Mollies
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

12. Zebra Danio

Zebra Danio

Zebra Danios get their name because of their stripped appearance.

You can find them in blue to purple and even silver.

These nano fish are incredibly active and require a lot of open space in the tank. They also prefer to be surrounded by vegetation. Due to their active nature they need to be placed in aquariums with other active fish.

Generally these creatures are gentle and playful so won’t be too troublesome in a community tank. Too many of these fish will lead to hyperactivity and too little will create stress, so they are best kept in groups of five.

They are most active during the day so observing them as part of a community is very rewarding.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Tetras, Rosy Barbs, peaceful Gouramis
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 4/5

11. Bristlenose Pleco

Golden Bristlenose Pleco

The Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosus) is a very reserved species that likes to keep to itself. Their private nature means that they will get along with most fish species.

You will often find them sitting at the bottom of the tank among the gravel and rocks.

Their most distinctive feature is the bristles on their head which extend from the snout. They have a spotted and flat brown, grey or even black body. They are one of the smallest catfish species you can find and are nocturnal so prefer to eat at night.

Overall, these reserved catfish will not cause any tension in your community tank and they will happily sit alone for hours undisturbed by other fishes.

  • Size: 3-5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Neon Tetras, Mollies and Platies
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

10. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb Close Up

Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya) get their name from the bright and intense red cherry color that the males have during the spawning season.

They can get along with just about any other freshwater fish and are ideal for beginners.

Cherry Barbs do well in schools of their own kind or with other small-sized fishes. They will get nervous if they are alone. You will see Cherry Barbs in their most active state when in schools of 6. They are a little on the timid side so will prefer if the tank is well-planted which provides them with hiding spaces.

They can be very active in groups but not to the point where it can trouble other fish. Their shy personality means that they are unlikely to confront other community fish.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Dwarf and Pearl Gouramis, Neon Tetras
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25-30 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

9. Glass Catfish

Glass Catfish

True to their name, Glass Catfish (Kryptopterus vitreolus) are translucent looking fish that resemble glass.

Their most visible feature is their long spine which runs along their body from the head to tail. Most of their internal organs are behind their eyes. They also have no dorsal fins and small pectoral fins which help them to swim.

Studies have revealed that glass catfish change their swimming speed and direction according to magnetic fields and have an ampullary organ which detects these fields.

Unlike most peaceful catfish, Glass Catfish do not tend to dwell at the bottom of the tank and prefer swimming around the middle layer. Their more active nature also means that they prefer to be kept in schools.

This species has very low maintenance and is quite active so make a great addition to community tanks.

Glass Catfish tend to keep to themselves in a community tank. Even when confronted they will shy away, so large and aggressive species should be avoided. Their tranquility means that there are many options for potential tank mates.

  • Size: 4-6 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Kuhli Loaches and Cory Catfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

8. Guppy Fish

Guppy Fish

Guppy Fish (Poecilia reticulata) are very well known for being one of the easiest fish to keep.

You can find them in all kinds of different colors , including multi-colored variants.

For the most part these schooling fish are incredibly playful and like to inhabit the top of the tank whilst also playing among vegetation. Their well-behaved nature means that they will enjoy the company of most similar sized species.

They are ideal for beginners because of their simple care requirements and are a peaceful species that get along with most other fish.

Overall, Guppies are the perfect peaceful community fish.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Platy Fish and Mollies
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

7. Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasbora

These little jewels cannot be missed if you are creating a community tank.

Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) are shaped little little black diamonds. These fish have very few care requirements and can live up to 8 years. They are small and tend to shoal in groups of at least eight.

During squabbles they tend to hide between plants so even if there was any trouble, the Harlequin Rasbora would likely not get involved.

Overall they are peaceful freshwater fish.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Cherry Barbs and Hatchetfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

6. Honey Gourami

Honey Gourami

The Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna) looks like specks of gold as it swims through the aquarium.

They are tolerant and have few care requirements which makes them perfect for beginners. They are also the smallest of the Trichogaster genus which makes them idea for community tanks with other small fish.

Honey Gouramis are timid community fish that are unlikely to confront other fish. Their small size means that they cannot do too much harm in the tank and they will not bully other species. The main problems you will encounter is their occasional tendency to fight with other Honey Gourami males, but this can be limited by having more females than males in the tank.

They also require a lot of vegetation to create hiding spaces.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Cyprinids
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

5. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach Full Size

The Kuhli Loach is a fish like no other. Their elongated eel-like bodies allow them to glide along the bottom of the tank and they often come in colors of yellow with brown/black band that cover the fish from head to tail.

Males have curved tails whereas females have straight tails. You will also be able to tell when a Kuhli Loach is sick as they will become paler.

They are nocturnal so they will sleep during the day which means that they won’t cause trouble for other fish in the tank. They also prefer the bottom of the tank and enjoy burrowing so will keep themselves occupied.

Their activity is not over-bearing to other fish which makes them ideal for community tanks.

  • Size: 3-4 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Corydoras, Rasboras and Tetras
  • Minimum Tank Size: 15 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

4. Molly Fish

White Sailfin Molly

Molly Fish (Poecilia sphenops) are one of the best known community fish.

They are well-behaved and have a tranquil nature which makes them so popular among beginners.

Mollies are a pleasure to keep in the tank as they are very compatible with the majority of peaceful community fish species. They are not known to cause trouble and are more likely to be the target of aggression as they are so gentle.

You can find them in lots of colors including: brown, yellow, blue, white and green. Read Top 16 Best Types of Molly Fish: Rare Colors for more.

  • Size: 4-4.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Guppy Fish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

3. Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

This aquarium favorite is a classic example of a magnificent community friendly fish.

Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are one of the most popular ornamental fish species because of their stunning royal blue and red appearance.

Tetras prefer to live in large groups and thrive when kept with fish that have a similar temperament. They are a docile and slower-moving species which makes them the embodiment of peace in a community tank.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Rasboras and Cory Catfish
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

2. Otocinclus

Otocinclus

These algae eaters are small fish that do a great job of keeping your tank clean. Also known as Dwarf suckers, these small catfish are idea for community tanks because of their peaceful temperament.

There are 20 species of these fish including the Common Otocinclus (Otocinclus vittatus), Golden Oto (Otocinclus affinis) and Zebra Otocinclus (Otocinclus Cocama).

Otocinclus do best with other small-sized fish and are a reserved species so won’t trouble other species.

You will often find them clinging onto smooth surfaces or at the bottom of the tank which proves that they like to keep to themselves. Their size means that they should not be kept with larger species.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Angelfish, Cherry Barbs and Guppies
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

1. Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater are scientifically known as Crossocheilus oblongus and come from Southeast Asia.

As their name suggests they are best known for eating algae.

They often get confused with the Siamese Flying Fox fish. The main difference is that Siamese Algae Eater don’t have flaps in the corners of their mouths. They also have a distinctive bold line that runs from head to tail which contrasts against a gray/gold body.

Overall they are fairly active and are constantly hunting for food which means they keep themselves occupied most of the time. This behavior makes them great companions for community tanks as they won’t disturb other fish. They also do well when kept alone or in large groups which means that they won’t be stressed out either way.

  • Size: 6 inches
  • Best Tank Mates: Danios, Tetras, Gouramis and Swordtails
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Compatibility Rating: 5/5

What Makes A Good Community Fish?

The main thing to remember when designing a community tank is to make sure you have researched the ideal conditions that each fish requires and that these conditions are compatible with each other. For instance, some species may prefer colder waters so cannot be kept with tropical species.

A good community fish cannot be a greedy one. Having greedy fish in a community tank is likely to cause issues as they will snatch up the food causing problems such as malnutrition for other fish.

They will have a peaceful temperament and will show little to no signs of aggression towards each other. Some species will prefer to hide away among plants and caves such as the Honey Gouramis so won’t cause issues for other members of the community tank.

Most community fish are ideal for beginners and have little maintenance requirements.

Different types of community fish will vary in cost and availability but most of the species in this guide are readily available and are sold for as little as $2.

Do you keep a community tank? Let us know what types of fish you have in the comments section…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.

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