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10 Red Tropical Fish for Your Freshwater Fish Tank

celestial pearl danio in planted tank

Freshwater fish come in many different colors, shapes, and temperaments. There is a red freshwater fish to fill every niche in this hobby whether you want to fill a planted community tank or a large aggressive predatory aquarium. This guide will discuss some fantastic red tropical fish that are available for freshwater aquariums. As a disclaimer, I will not be covering a lot of the care needed for these fish, but I will showcase the many different species out there.

1. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barbs are beautiful freshwater fish and are first on this list of red freshwater fish. Unlike many other barbs, this is a very peaceful fish that will do great in a freshwater community tank. The males usually showcase a dark red color, which becomes a vibrant cherry red when breeding, and females are usually a mixture of brown and dull red.

How Many Cherry Barbs in a 10 Gallon Tank?

I personally would not recommend keeping Cherry Barbs in a 10 Gallon Tank. I would recommend for aquariums that are 20 gallons or larger. Although they do not tightly school, it is recommended to keep them in groups of 5 or more. On top of that, this species of fish enjoys exploring the whole fish tank. A 10 gallon aquarium does not provide enough space for your Cherry Barb to explore.

How Big Do Cherry Barbs Get?

Cherry Barbs get to about 2″ when fully grown. They do not get very large so they should not dominate other community fish during feedings.

2. Ember Tetra

Ember Tetras are beautiful little fish with vibrant red colors, that do great in freshwater aquariums. Similarly to many other tetras, this species does best in groups. This species is great if you’re looking for a very small fish to add into a freshwater aquarium. They should not get larger than 1″ when fully grown. They’re very peaceful and will keep to themselves so they will be great in a species aquarium, or a community fish tank with similarly sized fish.

How Many Ember Tetras in a 10 Gallon Tank?

If you’re just keeping only Ember Tetras in your aquarium, you should be able to stock the fish tank with about anywhere between 8 and 14. Someone with more experience, excellent water conditions, and a fish tank full of plants will likely keep 14 successfully. On the other hand, I would recommend 8 if you’re newer to fishkeeping or don’t always keep up with water changes/keeping water parameters in check.

How Many Ember Tetras in a 20 Gallon Tank?

Ember Tetra size and small bio-load allow you to stock a 20-gallon with anywhere between 16 and 24 individuals. Like a 10-gallon, a well-kept aquarium should hold 24 individuals. 16 Ember Tetras are recommended for aquariums that may have a few other fish or that may not always have the best water parameters. Every aquarium is unique, so I cannot definitively answer how many fish can be kept in a fish tank. These are merely suggestions.

3. Red Phantom Tetra

If you love Ember Tetras but want something that’s a little bigger, then you have to check out Red Phantom Tetras. The Red Phantom Tetra is slightly transparent with different red tones on its body. This species grows to about 2″ as an adult, and will do great in aquariums that are 20 gallons or larger. Like many other tetra species, Red Phantom Tetras do best in schools of 6 individuals or more.

How Many Red Phantom Tetras in a 10 Gallon Tank?

To have a properly sized school, I would not recommend keeping Red Phantom Tetras in a 10-gallon tank. A 20-gallon or larger will be more suitable for this fish species. The extra aquarium space will allow you to keep anywhere between 6 and 9 Red Phantoms.

Can I Keep Red Phantom Tetras with Shrimp?

Red Phantom Tetras should not normally bother adult shrimp. However, they may try to make a snack out of recently molted shrimp due to them temporarily having a soft body. Also, baby shrimp may become food for this species of fish. If you are interested in keeping shrimp with Red Phantom Tetras, consider providing many hiding places and heavily plant your aquarium to provide cover for your shrimp.

4. Betta Fish

colorful betta

Betta fish come in a wide assortment of colors. There are fully red bettas or betta fish with red mixed with different types of colors. There is a choice for pretty much anyone. Also, Betta fish are fantastic fish to have due to their wonderful personalities. I have seen aquarists go so far as to teach their betta tricks. I will cover a few things about bettas below, but consider checking out the Betta Complete Care Guide for more information.

How Long Do Betta Fish Live?

A Betta Fish can live anywhere between 2 and 5 years. Excellent water parameters and a properly sized aquarium should help this fish live a stress-free life which should help it live longer.

Do Betta Fish Need a Filter?

From personal experience, I do recommend providing a filter for your Betta Fish. The filter, whether it’s a Hang-on back or sponge filter, holds a lot of beneficial bacteria that help keep your water parameters stable. Although bettas can acquire oxygen from the atmosphere, filters will assist in oxygenating your water to make your life easier for your fish.

There are a few things to keep an eye on when running a filter with a Betta Fish. The biggest is probably the flow rate, especially in smaller aquariums. Many Bettas have long showy fins, and a filter with a high flow rate can toss the fish around. This can damage the fish’s fins and stress it out. You may see this happen more often with hang-on back filters. Also, a hang-on back filter’s suction could potentially be deemed a hazard for your fish. I feel a healthy fish should not generally get caught in a filter’s suction, but a Betta Fish has long fins that may get pulled in.

I recommend using either a sponge filter for a betta fish tank or putting a sponge over the filter intake to slow the flow of water. If you cover the intake, debris may build up on the sponge, which will need to be cleaned out from time to time.

5. Red Blood Parrot

Blood Parrots are hybrid fish made from breeding certain types of cichlids. They have gotten a lot of popularity due to their unique shape and vibrant red colorations. They can grow to about 8″ and will do best singularly in a 30-gallon aquarium. If you would like to keep more, keeping them in groups of 3 or more is recommended. However, you will also need a larger fish tank to house more Blood Parrots. Keeping a pair will likely cause one to be much more dominant and aggressive toward the other.

Are Blood Red Parrot Cichlids Aggressive?

From experiences with Blood Parrots, they can be aggressive, but they are much less aggressive than other cichlids like Jack Dempsey, Convict Cichlid, or Oscar. They can hold their own and are sometimes kept with Oscars and will also do well with Angelfish, larger Tetras, and other Blood Parrot Cichlids.

Can African Cichlids Live with Blood Red Parrots?

I would not recommend keeping African Cichlids with Blood Parrots, due to the Blood Parrot’s docile nature. Also, Blood Parrot Cichlids are more commonly kept in planted aquariums because they do not destroy plants or dig in the substrate like many other cichlids do, and prefer more acidic and softer water.

6. Red Oscar

Red Oscars are a gorgeous species of cichlid that has a variation of colors on its body, with vibrant red being one of them. As beautiful as they are, this species of fish is not for everyone, due to their large size as adults. Working with fish for most of my life, I have seen vast amounts of neglect on Oscars (and other fish) due to improper husbandry. If you love large species aquariums and are on top of filtration/water changes, consider picking up a Red Oscar Cichlid.

Are Red Oscar Cichlids Aggressive?

Yes, like most other cichlids, the Red Oscar fish is an aggressive species. They are also a larger species of cichlid and grow to around a foot long. Due to this size, they should be kept in aquariums that are 75 gallons or larger for one Oscar fish. If you are interested in keeping two, they will likely need anywhere between a 125 or 150-gallon aquarium. If you’re looking for common aquarium sizes, check out some Standard Aquarium Sizes.

7. Red Honey Gourami

The Red Honey Gourami is a great addition to a community tank. They are usually a dull red/yellow color that stands out from a planted aquarium background. This fish can do well in a 10-gallon aquarium singularly, but a group of 3 can be kept in 20-gallon aquariums. They’re an excellent choice if you have a nano aquarium, or are looking for a single fish that does not need to school.

Are Red Honey Gouramis Aggressive?

Red Honey Gouramis should not be aggressive. This species of fish may become shy if there are highly active or semi-aggressive fish in the aquarium.

8. Red Livebearers

For the sake of this article’s length, I am grouping Mollies, Platies, Guppies, and Swordtails into just livebearers. They all come in many different flavors but each can be found with red colorations. Each of these fish should do well in community fish tanks. Guppies are the smallest livebearer fish in this group, with males having long flowy fins.

As a disclaimer, live bearers do just that, they have live offspring. If you are not careful, they may plague your aquarium with offspring which may become a headache to control.

9. Red Irian Rainbow

Red Irian Rainbow Fish is next on this list with their vibrant red, orange, silver, and gold coloration. Their colors pop the most when there are both males and females in the aquarium. This Red Rainbow Fish does well with a combination of both densely planted and open swimming areas.

Aquarium Size for Irian Red Rainbow

This species of fish will grow to be about 4-5 inches, and on top of that they’re schooling fish. I would recommend keeping them in at least a 55 gallon aquarium to provide optimal space. You may get away by starting them off in a 30 gallon, but eventually upgrading to a 55 gallon aquarium is highly recommended.

10. Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestial Pearl Danios, sometimes called Galaxy Rasboras, are not as red as most other fish on this list, but their red fins explode in color and I felt they would be a great addition to this list. This species has a predominately blue/silver body, orange/yellow spots, and vibrant red fins. It is a gorgeous fish to keep in a heavily planted fish tank.

Celestial Pearl Danios enjoy staying in groups and will do best in groups of 6 or more individuals. Take caution against the number of males in the group, especially in smaller aquariums. If there are many males, with too few hiding places, the less dominant of the group will be picked on. Luckily, the Celestial Pearl Danio bicker amongst themselves and should not bother any other tank mates. This species will do great in well-planted 10-gallon fish tanks or larger. Take a look at the Celestial Pearl Danio Complete Care Guide for more information on this fish species.

Final Notes

There is an abundance of red-colored fish available for purchase. These are just a handful that stands out to me and that you can pick up for your aquarium. Take a look at 11 Blue Freshwater Fish for Your Aquarium if you’re looking for a different burst of color in your fish tank. Please let me know if you have a red-colored fish you think should have made a list.