So, you’re looking for the best fish for kids.
Whether these kids are yours or this fish is a gift for someone else’s kids, you can’t go wrong with any of the fish on this list.
This list comes from personal experience as well as research from around the web and popular opinions of many, many different people.
Enough talk. Let’s get started already, shall we?
What type of fish is best for kids?
When you’re thinking about buying a specific fish species for a kid, you probably want something that’s easy to care for, hardy, and doesn’t require a lot of cash to upkeep. Those three specifics are what the majority of prospective fish buyers are looking for.
A few other desired attributes of the perfect fish for children:
- Colorful body
- Entertaining to watch
- Has a personality
- Tolerant of a variety of water conditions
- Low maintenance
Based on these attributes, I’ve compiled this list of 3 different species of fish that I’ve discovered to be the best fit for kids.
Here’s the list.
1. Betta Fish
The Betta fish has always been one of the most popular fish in the US.
They come in a dazzling array of colors and are readily available at any big or small chain pet store. You can also pick one up for a very reasonable price. The exotic ones that are mass sold only range up to about $20 at the most.
A lot of older fish hobbyists have admitted that Betta fish were the species that got them into the hobby. This could mean two things:
- Betta fish were easy to care for and provided enough entertainment value for them to continue the hobby.
- Betta fish have a high success rate of being kept well.
These fish can be strikingly mesmerizing with their long fins, colorful bodies, and variation of tail morphs. Your fish will be unique from others if you get a slightly rarer Betta.
They’re a good choice for kids and children because they’re very easy to care for.
For a habitat, a single Betta can be kept in a 3-gallon aquarium. All they really need is an internal filter that doesn’t cause a lot of surface ripples. They prefer calmer waters that aren’t disturbed by bubbles from an airstone or from a filter. You’ll also need a basic heater with a temperature dial so you can keep the water temperature stable.
We sell miniature fully adjustable aquarium heaters that suit Betta fish perfectly!
As for maintenance, they’re really easy to care for. Partial water changes weekly of just about 10% should be fine, assuming the water is well kept.
The best part about a Betta fish is the decor. You can get a larger tank if you wish and add a ton of decorations to theme the tank. There are some really nice-looking tanks out there with plants, moss, rocks, lighting, stone, driftwood, and bamboo aquascaped so perfectly that it looks like a different world. You can make some very nice Betta tanks. This gives any kid a very fun project to decorate and continue decorating.
Because they can live in such basic conditions, their cost of ownership is very low. They’re also entertaining enough (especially males with their bubble nests) to draw attention here and there. If you have a kid that gets bored of things quickly, the Betta is a good choice because it doesn’t require much attention and could be left alone other than regular feedings and partial water changes.
This would be my top choice if I had to choose a pet fish for kids due to their ease of care, cheap cost, and low upkeep.
Here’s a video showcasing some basic care for Bettas:
2. Neon Tetras
The Neon Tetra is a schooling fish, and that’s what makes it interesting.
If you decide to go for this fish, you should buy them in a group of at least 3 or more. That way, they’ll school together and you and your kid can be fascinated by them swimming, eating, and darting around in unison.
Neon Tetras have been popularized by their glowing shiny scales. If you buy an aquarium light and shine it on them, especially in the dark, their reflective scales will glimmer with beauty. As they swim around the tank together, you’ll be amazed at what you’re seeing. It looks like a pack of shiny bullets darting around the tank. It’s especially entertaining during feeding time. Getting an aquarium light is almost a must for Neon Tetras. You can even get different colors, such as blue, green, or purple lights. A lot of aquarium lighting now uses LED lights rather than incandescent or fluorescent. LED lighting provides a brighter, vivid experience and uses less energy.
As for habitat requirements, you could easily pack in a school of Neons in a 10-gallon tank. You’ll need a powerful filter and a decent heater to maintain them. It’s always a good idea to get a filter that’s rated for 10 times your current tank volume in gallons per hour.
StickPets sells adjustable aquarium heaters that work for Tetras in any size tank.
So, if you have a 10-gallon tank, it’d be a wise choice to get a 100GPH filter.
With schooling fish, you’ll need to keep the water levels stable and water quality is a must.
That’s the only drawback to owning Neon Tetras. It’s a little pricer because you need to get a good filter (hang-on-back is recommended), but it’s a requirement if you’re going to have multiple fish in a tank. You also need a larger tank (10-gallon minimum for 3 Neons). But both the filter and tank are pretty much a one-time purchase.
Decor is completely optional, but if you’re going for the shimmery sparkle that is a Neon Tetra, you may as well decorate the tank to complete the picture. I mean, who’d want to see swimming bullets in a bare-bottom 10-gallon tank?
I think they’re a good fish for kids because they’re relatively easy to care for. They don’t need any excessive water conditions- a filter and heater will do. They’re hardy and can withstand a variety of water temperatures and quality fluctuations, so they’re pretty tolerant. And they school. The novelty of that in itself is a reason go with Neons.
They’re also very fast swimmers, so that’s also interesting to watch as they feed.
Any kid will be amazed by the schooling. Combine that with awesome lighting and you have an interesting, entertaining, relatively cheap, and easy to care for school of fish.
3. Kuhli Loach
Okay, this isn’t exactly a fish. But for the kid who wants something different, how about a loach?
A loach? What’s that?
It’s almost like an eel. Some like eels. Some don’t. If your kid wants something unique from other fish, consider an eel.
Personally, I think they’re freakin’ awesome. They swim like a sea snake. They eat like a land snake. And they’re pretty interesting to watch as they snake around the tank.
The Kuhli loach is also known as the Coolie loach. It’s a fairly easy to care for loach because it adapts to a lot of different water conditions. All you need is a pH around 6.0-7.0, which is about neutral to slightly acidic.
You also need a decent heater, as it requires a temperature range of about 75F to 85F. A good filter is also a necessity, as it is with pretty much any aquarium fish. A hang-on-back (HOB) filter is ideal because the surface agitation will provide oxygen for the loach. It’s a bottom dweller where it snakes around for food. Oxygen must make its way down the water column. A waterfall outlet from an HOB filter will push fresh oxygen down to the loach’s domain. That’s why this type of filter is ideal.
The best thing about the Kuhli loach and why it’s a good choice for children is that it never grows big. It doesn’t get huge like other aquatic loaches, so it’s always manageable. It only gets around 5 inches at maximize size.
You’ll need at least a 20-gallon tank for a school of 3 loaches. Like the Neon Tetras, they like to school. Be sure to keep a lid on it because they’ve been known to sneak out of the tank. You shouldn’t be scared of it jumping out at you, but rather, making sure it doesn’t jump out of the tank by accident.
You’ll also need to some sand at the bottom of the tank. The loach will spend the majority of its time sifting around the bottom looking for food. You can’t use sharp objects like rocks or pointy decor because it’ll easily injure itself. They really like to touch everything they come across, so make sure your decor is in check
Other than that, the Kuhli loach makes an excellent beginner pet for kids. It’s not a fish, but some kids may be interested in just keeping something out of the ordinary. This loach does cost a bit more upfront, but the novelty of owning a loach pays for itself. They also can be kept with other tankmates as well.
4. Barbs (Cherry)
Barbs are hardy fish that are excellent for kids and newbies to the aquarium hobby. They come in a rainbow of assorted colors so you can literally pick and choose which one you want. They do have specific requirements, but they all nearly overlap each other. If you plan on mixing barbs, be sure to look up each one’s specific habitat requirements before you toss ‘em in.
The most popular Barb (and one of my favorites) is the Cherry Barb. This a slender Barb compared to the other Barbs in the bunch. They have a thinner profile and seem to swim faster as well. They generally have a golden strip going through their body, which makes them have a distinctive look.
Cherry Barbs need a larger tank (preferably 40 gallons) with plenty of plants- whether fake or real. You can also add wood, stones, and driftwood to fully decorate your tank. If you plan to make this fish tank a big project and want to go all out with your creative side, then choosing a Barb would be a good choice. They like lots of objects to hide in, but also need plenty of space to swim around. They’re generally shy and prefer to hide unless food is present.
Cherry Barbs are also peaceful fish and do well with lots of other types of fish so you can house them together. Water conditions are on the temperate side ranging from 75-80F with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
Like any other fish, you’ll need a good power filter. A HOB filter is a necessity. You’ll also need a heater if you live in a cooler environment as well. Water quality is very important to bring out the best in your fish.
They also come in a huge variety of colors- like tiger, green tiger, denison, spotted, clown, and spanner. You can mix and match some of them, but again, you need to do your research to make sure their requirements are the same.
Barbs need large tanks and a little more TLC to raise properly. This obviously means a higher upfront cost. However, after you get everything set up with your kid, you’ll have a very nice project to mesmerize and drool over. Imagine a fully-planted tank loaded with multi-colored barbs darting about when it’s time to eat. That’s worth it.
5. Rosy Red Minnows
And lastly, we have the Rosy Red Minnow.
This is one of the most underrated fish on the entire market.
Because it’s used as a feeder fish. It’s easy to walk into any chain pet store and see tons upon tons of these little swimmers packed into a tiny 10-gallon tank. They’re sold for cheap and some places offer discounts for bulk orders.
They’re actually very underappreciated fish. For one, they care for their offspring and fry. Rosy Reds are very easy to breed (which is probably why they’re a feeder fish), and they’ll take care of their fry rather than eating them like many other species.
Another awesome thing about Rosy Reds is that if you breed them yourself, you can get a very nice strain of minnows. The ones at the pet store are often bland and colorless. If you get a bunch of them and breed them, you can get some very nice coloration.
Minnows take almost any aquarium size since they’ve been habituated to do so. You can easily have 3-4 of them in a 10-gallon tank if you have a good filter going. You’ll need a HOB filter and a decent heater, but other than that, they don’t ask for much. They’ll eat common fish food and don’t need any special housing requirements or fancy things. They’re just happy you saved them from getting eaten. Props to you.
Because Rosy Reds are a feeder fish, you can get them for very cheap. They’re merely just a few cents each at big box pet stores.
They’re very easy to care for and any kid can get a bunch and save some minnows. You have a purpose and a hobby at the same time. This makes them one of most kid-friendly fish you can get.
Did you find the perfect fish?
Well, there you have it. If you found this guide helpful, do me a favor and tell a friend.Or post it on your favorite social site. And If you have any other awesome fish for kids to suggest, post a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.
Or post it on your favorite social site.
And If you have any other awesome fish for kids to suggest, post a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.
Enjoy your new fish with your child!