12 Coldwater Fish for Aquariums

Posted by on 3/14/2024

One of the best parts about owning an aquarium is selecting fish to stock it with. As long as you've done your research on a fish's temperament and care requirements, there are tons of different combinations you can do in your tank!

While some hobbyists prefer to keep a large school of one particular fish, others may want to track down some of the most colorful fish in the hobby. With new species of fish still being discovered by the scientific community, there is no shortage of options for hobby aquarists. In this post, we'll recommend 10 of our favorite small colorful fish that will brighten up the appearance of any aquarium!

Coldwater Fish

Hobbyists will have different definitions as to what they define as "coldwater". For the sake of this post, we're going to define coldwater as anything between 50-65°F, but we'll provide temperature ranges for each fish so that you'll know what each species can tolerate. Let's begin!


First on our list is arguably the most common aquarium fish, the guppy. These fish are some of the hardiest around, and we've even seen them thrive in saltwater tanks! Guppies will behave differently in a coldwater tank, so hobbyists can expect to see slower growth rates and less frequent reproduction. Guppies can live in temperatures ranging from 65°F-75°F (18°C - 23°C)

A Guppy fish
panpilai paipa/Shutterstock.com
Guppies are some of the most popular aquarium fish

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Next up is arguably the most recommended coldwater fish, the White Cloud Mountain Minnow. These incredibly active fish hail from China, and can withstand temperatures as low as 40°F! White Clouds are a joy to own, as they're incredibly playful, and make for excellent schooling fish. Hobbyists should have no issues keeping them between 51°F-72°F (5°C-22°C)

White Cloud Mountain Minnows
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White Cloud Mountain Minnows, native to China

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Hobbyists looking for a unique coldwater fish may be interested in learning about the Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow. These fish display a brilliant orange color and display the same personalities as their white-colored counterpart. While these fish can be a bit hard to acquire, hobbyists can also keep them in temperatures between 51°F-72°F (5°C-22°C)

A Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow
Andrej Jakubik/Shutterstock.com
Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows tend to be more rare than traditional White Clouds

Rainbow Shiners

One of the most beautiful fish on this list has to be the Rainbow Shiner. Iridescent blues, oranges, and reds are present throughout the body of the fish, and hobbyists will appreciate the fish's small size and peaceful temperament. Room temperature is perfectly suited for the Rainbow Shiner, which can thrive in temps ranging from 60-70°F (15°C-21°C)

Rainbow Shiners
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Rainbow Shiners

Comet Goldfish

Experienced hobbyists may be surprised to see Comet Goldfish on the list, as these fish require a massive aquarium to thrive. In fact, they're best suited as pond fish. But for those that have a large tank at home (75 gallons+), juvenile comets can live comfortably until they're ready to find their permanent home in a pond. As outdoor fish, these fish are capable of hibernating in winter temperatures, but hobbyists should experience little issues with at-home tanks in the 60-75°F range (15°C-23°C)

Comet Goldfish
Tracy Quigley/Light Fish
A top-down view of a group of Comet Goldfish

Zebra Danio

While Zebra Danios are usually housed in warm-watered tanks, these fish can transition to cooler room temperatures. These hardy and easy-to-care-for fish can withstand temperatures in the 65-75°F range, and are frequently sold at local fish stores and online retailers.

Zebra Danio
A Zebra Danio

Pygmy Sunfish

There are quite a few different types of Pygmy Sunfish (if you're interested we cover the details in our guide: Pygmy Sunfish: Care, Appearance & Types, Diet & More), but all types of these fish can survive in temperatures between 50-70°F (10°C-21°C). These fish can be quite sensitive, so make sure that they're not exposed to a dramatic swing in temperature. Hobbyists should also be aware that these fish are known to have a short life expectancy, only living for around 1.5 years.

Pygmy Sunfish
An Everglades Pygmy Sunfish

Candidius Goby

The rare Candidius Goby is native to Sun Moon Lake (formerly known as Lake Candidius), a gorgeous 3-square-mile lake that's considered one of 13 national scenic areas designated by the Taiwanese government. The fish has a preference for cool-water conditions, and hobbyists lucky enough to care for the species will want to keep their tanks between 57-68°F (13°C-20°C)

Candidius Goby
The Candidius Goby

Bluefin Killifish

Killifish in general can withstand cooler water temperatures (68°F-75°F) but bluefins can do quite well in even colder temps. These fish can thrive between 55°F-70°F (12-22°C). Hobbyists new to killifish-keeping should be aware that these fish are known to jump, so a tight-fitting lid is a must for the species.

A Bluefin Killifish
WildFloridaNatives/Light Fish
A small group of Bluefin Killifish

Glowlight Danio

Hailing from Myanmar, the same location that introduced Celestial Pearl Danios and Sulawesi Shrimp into the hobby is the Glowlight Danio. This gorgeous schooling fish can live comfortably in an aquarium with temperatures between 61-79°F (16-26°C). Hobbyists looking to see schooling behavior in a coldwater tank should strongly consider this species as their next tank addition.

A Glowlight Danio
A Glowlight Danio

Japanese Ricefish

We adore Ricefish - these small adorable fish resemble small grains of rice, swimming throughout the water column! Just like the previously mentioned White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Ricefish are a very popular coldwater fish, as they prefer to live in a coldwater tank! While cold water is best, the species is highly adaptable, with Ricefish capable of being kept in temperatures between 32-108°F (0-42°C)

Japanese Ricefish
Pavaphon Supanantananont/Shutterstock.com
Japanese Ricefish


Named after their appetite for mosquito larvae, mosquitofish are small-sized fish that grow to about 3 inches in size. Native to the eastern United States, found as far north as Massachusetts and south as Florida, these fish are capable of withstanding temperatures as low as 33°F and as high as 104°F (0.5-40°C) making them a viable coldwater option for hobbyists.

Fredlyfish4/Wikimedia Commons
A female Mosquitofish


That wraps up our list of coldwater aquarium fish. Now that we've suggested a few options, do you plan on starting up a cold water tank? With so many different aquarium styles to choose from, coldwater tanks are equally as amazing as their warm-watered counterparts. 

Did you have a coldwater fish that didn't make our list? Let us know in the comments and be sure to visit our marketplace, where you can find these fish for sale from hobbyists and small businesses across 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!