17 Best Fish for a 30 Gallon Aquarium

Posted by on 01/03/2024

If you've allocated enough space for a 30-gallon aquarium, you have plenty of unique and vibrant fish to choose from. 

Tanks of this size allow for many different stocking options, and hobbyists can choose from large groups of nano-sized fish, or larger fish, such as plecos and dwarf cichlids.

In this post, we'll recommend 15 of our favorite fish that you can care for in a 30-gallon aquarium.

Our Favorites

Whether you're interested in purchasing a large group of small fish, or a few centerpiece fish, the following list should get you started.

Queen Arabesque Pleco

Although this fish is one of the more expensive on our list, the Queen Arabesque Pleco commands a high price for a reason. This pleco sports a unique zebra-like pattern, making this fish frequently in demand by those who are in the know. We've seen these fish go for about $100, and if you're interested we've built a complete care guide for the species.

Image of a Queen Arabesque
chonlasub woravichan/Shutterstock.com
A Queen Arabesque Pleco

Green Dragon Bristlenose Pleco

Next up on our list is yet another Pleco, the Green Dragon Bristlenose. There are two variants seen in the hobby, a short fin version and a long fin. We cover the differences in more detail in our care guide: Green Dragon Bristlenose Pleco: Care, Size, Lifespan & More, but the gist of it is that the long fin version is significantly harder to find. Hobbyists will appreciate either option, as the coloration of this fish is quite beautiful.

A Green Dragon Bristlenose Pleco
A Green Dragon Bristlenose Pleco

Bumblebee Platy

Platies are relatively common in the hobby, as these fish have been crossbred to produce a wide variety of different colors. One such example is the Bumblebee Platy, a small fish with a bee-like coloration. Hobbyists can keep a group of these in a 30-gallon tank, but keep in mind that platies are live-bearing fish, and will easily breed in captivity. 

Bumblebee Platy
Richelle Cloutier/Shutterstock.com
A Bumblebee Platy

Green Phantom Pleco

Not only does the Green Phantom Pleco have one of the coolest names in the hobby, but it also has an appearance to match. Green Phantom Pleco's sport a lemon-lime coloration, and hail from the same region of the world as some of the hobby's most popular aquatic plant species: Cabomba, Alternanthera, Bacopa, Salivina, and the Green Phantom all can be found in the wild in South America's Rio Orinoco. Hobbyists will need to provide plenty of wood for this fish to rasp on and can learn a bit more about the species in our Green Phantom Pleco Care Guide.

Green Phantom Pleco
5snake5/Wikimedia Commons
A Green Phantom Pleco

Platinum Parrot Fish

Arguably the most controversial fish on our list is the Platinum Parrot Fish. This fish has been crossbred to develop an odd appearance. Hobbyists appreciate the fish's upturned mouth, which gives the fish a perpetual smile. Unfortunately, crossbreeding has resulted in a low life expectancy for the fish, but we'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not the fish is right for you. If you decide on a platinum parrot, we have some tips on how you can give your pet the best life possible in our Platinum Parrot Fish Care Guide.

A Platinum Parrot Fish
A Platinum Parrot Fish

Kribensis Cichlid

The Kribensis Cichlid is a classic fish, and has also landed on our list of best fish for a 20-gallon aquarium. The species has been recommended to hobbyists new to cichlid-keeping for decades, and for good reason. The fish is hardy, and not nearly as aggressive as many of the other cichlids kept by hobbyists, such as the Cuban Cichlid

A Male Kribensis Cichlid
danifox88/Light Fish
A Kribensis Cichlid

Apistogramma Agassizii

Hailing from the Amazon Rainforest is the Apistogramma agassizii. This fish can be found living in slow-moving waters, and the coloration of the species can vary significantly from fish to fish. Aquarium hobbyists often pursue the "fire-red" agassizii, in demand due to its bright red coloration.

A Fire Red Apistogramma Agassizii
DesertDiscus/Light Fish
Apistogramma Agassizii "Fire Red"

Blue Emperor Tetra

The Blue Emperor Tetra is a line-bred color morph, descending from the more common Emperor Tetra. The fish displays a beautiful violet/blue coloration and is known for its active personality, often swimming throughout the tank in search of new food sources. Hobbyists should have no issues keeping up to 20 of these fish in a 30-gallon tank.

Blue Emperor Tetra
Pavaphon Supanantanaeenont/Shutterstock.com
Blue Emperor Tetra

Neon Tetra

Perhaps the most commonly kept fish on our list is the Neon Tetra. It's a classic aquarium fish, pursued for its bright red and blue color. The fish is hardy and easy to keep. Hobbyists will appreciate keeping a large group of these fish, which are capable of forming loose schools (technically shoals) in an at-home aquarium.

A Group of Neon Tetras
A Group of Neon Tetras

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Native to China is the White Cloud Mountain Minnow. The White Cloud is an active, coldwater fish, and displays a playful personality in an at-home aquarium. Less commonly seen is the Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow which displays an orange/gold coloration compared to the all-white color seen in the more traditional white cloud. Hobbyists can keep up to 20 of these in a 30-gallon tank.

A Group of Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Andrej Jakubik/Shutterstock.com
A Group of Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Platinum Blue Medaka Ricefish

Another coldwater fish is the Platinum Blue Medaka Ricefish. These fish are incredibly tiny, and adults will only grow to be about 1.5 inches in length. Native to Japan, hobbyists can keep up to 18 of them in a 30-gallon tank, but they have a relatively short life span, only averaging about 2 years in captivity.

A Platinum Blue Medaka Ricefish
Pavaphon Supanantananont/Shutterstock.com
A Platinum Blue Medaka Ricefish

German Gold Rams

Beautiful, active, and relatively peaceful when compared to other Rams, the German Gold Ram is a great fish for a 30-gallon aquarium. These fish require a warm-watered tank, and hobbyists will be required to provide a sand-based substrate due to the fish's propensity to dig in the substrate. Hobbyists can keep up to 3 of these fish in a 30-gallon tank.

German Gold Rams
FishyRamGuy/Light Fish
German Gold Rams

Apistogramma Cacatuoides

Also known as the Cockatoo dwarf cichlid, Apistogramma Cactuiodes is named after its cockatoo-like tail and dorsal fins. Males display a brilliant display of red, orange, and yellow, and due to their temperament, hobbyists can care for these fish in a community tank setup. Due to their popularity, these fish are frequently bred, making them quite affordable. However, if you're after the best and the brightest apisto, you may need to pay a pretty penny. 

Apistogramma Cacatuoides
Daylowdart/Light Fish
Apistogramma Cacatuoides

Turkana Jewel Cichlid 

Turkana Jewels are beautiful cichlids, but only juveniles can be cared for in a 30-gallon tank. If you have a larger aquarium at the ready, keeping a pair of turkana jewel juveniles in a 30-gallon tank is a sight to behold. These fish are pursued for their bright orange coloration, and they do well in a semi-aggressive community aquarium setup. Eventually growing to be 12 inches in length, hobbyists will easily appreciate all this fish has to offer.

Turkana Jewel
octurkanas9260/Light Fish
A Turkana Jewel Cichlid

Sparkling Gouramis

Reaching a maximum size of 1.5 inches in length, hobbyists can keep up to 12 of these fish in a 30-gallon tank. These fish are peaceful and will appreciate a large variety of aquatic plants in an at-home aquarium. Sparkling gouramis are stunning fish to keep. Native to Thailand, they make for excellent aquarium fish.

Sparkling Gourami
Chaotic Aquatic/Light Fish
A Sparkling Gourami

Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs are often pursued for their bright red coloration. Hobbyists will want to keep at least 6 of them, as they do best when kept in small schools. The fish is known for its peaceful temperament but requires plenty of hiding spots and natural vegetation. Male Cherry Barbs will have a much stronger coloration than Females, and hobbyists can keep up to 10 of them in a 30-gallon.

A Cherry Barb
Kylie St.Clair/ Light Fish
A Cherry Barb

Electric Blue Acaras

Although the Electric Blue Acara is quite large, hobbyists can keep 1 of these fish in their 30-gallon tanks. It's not surprising as to how the fish got its common name. The fish sports a bright blue coloration, similar to the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, but not nearly as aggressive. Hobbyists should be prepared to care for this fish for quite some time, as they have a lifespan of up to 10 years.

An Electric Blue Acara
EBACrazy/Light Fish
An Electric Blue Acara

Where to Purchase

Now that we've covered quite a few options for your 30-gallon tank, you'll want to find a reliable vendor if you choose to shop online. We've seen many of these fish up for sale on our marketplace, but if none are available we built an extensive list of 250+ online aquarium stores to help your search.

We recommend only keeping one of them in a 20-gallon tank, but for hobbyists with a backup tank, you may be able to keep 2 males in a 20-gallon. If you choose to do so, you'll want to regularly monitor them for signs of aggressive behavior. Similar to the Rocket Clown, a tight-fitting lid is a must for the species.


That wraps up our list of some of the best fish for a 30-gallon tank. Did you have a favorite fish that didn't make the list? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our marketplace, where you can find many of these fish for sale from trusted hobbyists and small businesses throughout the United States.

Image of Miles Harrison

Miles Harrison

With over a decade of aquarium experience, Miles can be found writing about saltwater and freshwater aquariums. When he’s not writing about fish, you can find him going for a run or building websites, such as this one!