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What is the name for a colorful aquarium fish?

What is the name for a colorful aquarium fish?

There are many colorful fish that are popular choices for home aquariums. The wide variety of bright colors and interesting behaviors make these fish appealing for aquarium hobbyists. When setting up a new tank, people often want to include fish that will add vibrant colors and visual interest. But what exactly are these fish called? There are a few common names used to refer to colorful aquarium fish.

Some key facts about colorful aquarium fish:

– They come in a huge range of bright colors like red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, etc. This makes them stand out in an aquarium.

– Certain species are known for having striking color patterns, such as stripes, spots, or bands of contrasting colors.

– While some fish are naturally colorful, others develop more vibrant colors when kept in optimal tank conditions.

– Colorful fish help add diversity and beauty to aquarium displays. They are popular choices among freshwater and saltwater fishkeepers.

– Examples include bettas, guppies, cichlids, danios, angelfish, discus fish, and many types of tetra.

So what terms are commonly used to describe these fish? There are a few options:

Tropical Fish

One broad category is tropical fish. A tropical fish is any fish species that originates from tropical waters around the equator. The warm, stable temperatures in these regions enable fish to develop bright, colorful markings.

When we think of a classic aquarium fish, a small, vibrantly colored specimen like a neon tetra or guppy often comes to mind. These fish are natively from tropical areas like the Amazon River basin in South America.

Other popular examples of tropical fish include:

– Bettas – Known for their long, flowing fins and variety of colors like red, blue, and purple. Native to Asia.

– Discus – Disk-shaped fish with captivating patterns of yellows, blues, reds, and browns. From the Amazon River.

– Oscar – A larger cichlid species with an orange/red/black coloration. Native to South America.

– Zebra danios – Active schooling fish with stripes reminiscent of zebras. From South Asia.

The term “tropical fish” is a fitting description for these fish and many others that aquarium hobbyists value for their bright colors and lively activity. Calling them tropical fish highlights their origins and care requirements.

Freshwater Fish

Another broad category is freshwater fish. As opposed to saltwater fish, freshwater fish live in rivers, lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water with very low salinity levels. Most home aquariums contain freshwater fish.

Some examples of colorful freshwater fish include:

– Neon tetras – Small schooling fish with an iconic blue and red striped pattern. From South America.

– Guppies – Extremely colorful fish that can display any combination of red, green, blue, orange, black, purple, yellow, etc. Originally from northeast South America.

– Mollies – Plump-bodied livebearers that often have yellow, black and white coloration. From Central America and Mexico originally.

– African cichlids – A highly diverse group of cichlids from Africa’s Rift Valley lakes. Many have bright color patterns.

– Rainbowfish – Long-bodied fish named for their brilliant colors reminiscent of rainbows. From Australia and Southeast Asia.

While tropical fish are a subset of freshwater fish, the term “freshwater fish” also includes fish from more temperate regions that can still provide quite beautiful colors, such as koi and goldfish. So “freshwater fish” covers both tropical and temperate zone species.

Colorful Aquarium Fish Examples

Here is a table with some specific examples of popular colorful aquarium fish:

Common Name Scientific Name Origin Colors/Patterns
Guppy Poecilia reticulata Northeast South America Red, green, blue, orange, black, yellow, purple, multicolored patterns
Neon Tetra Paracheirodon innesi South America Bright blue, red stripes
Discus Symphysodon sp. Amazon River Basin Red, brown, blue, green, tan, spotted and banded patterns
Betta Betta splendens Southeast Asia Red, blue, green, multicolored fins
Orange Von Rio Tetra Hyphessobrycon sp. South America Orange, black stripes
Boeseman’s Rainbowfish Melanotaenia boesemani New Guinea Yellow, blue, orange fins with neon blue stripes

This table shows a few popular examples of aquarium fish known for their vibrant colors and interesting patterns and markings. The bright coloration of these fish makes them desirable choices to enhance the visual appeal of home aquariums.


In summary, there are a few common terms used to describe colorful fish kept in home aquariums:

– Tropical fish refers to species that originate in the warm waters near the equator where bright colorations develop.

– Freshwater fish covers all fish that thrive in low-salinity habitats like rivers, including both tropical and temperate species.

– More specific names like bettas, neon tetras, or discus refer to individual species valued for their unique colors and markings.

No matter what phrase you use – tropical fish, freshwater fish, or a specific name – these colorful fish are prized additions to aquarium displays. Their bright colors and lively activity bring life and beauty to tank setups. So next time you see a vivid orange fish or deep blue betta at the pet store, you’ll know they fall under the umbrella of colorful aquarium fish!