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With that out of the way.

In this article, we are going to compare the two most popular options for beginners when setting up their first tank;

Tropical vs Cold Water Fish!

We will explain the slight differences between each fish, let you know which fish are the easiest for a beginner.

Lastly, we’ll share a list of cold-water fish and tropical fish that can also live in cold water (coldwater tropical fish).

Let’s begin

Tropical Fish vs Cold Water Fish (Fish Tank Habitat)

Selecting your fish tank habitat should be the first thing you do before setting up an aquarium.

Start picking a fish tank habitat by thinking about the types of fish you would like to keep.

There are many aquarium fish for beginners, but you should explore the type of habitat you select before selecting any fish.

Aquarium Maintenance Checklist [Free Guide]

There are three main types of fish tank habitats,

Coldwater, Tropical, and Marine.

Coldwater and Tropical are freshwater aquarium setups, and a Marine aquarium is a saltwater setup.

We recommend for the beginner; you focus on either cold water or tropical fish.

A marine aquarium habitat requires special care, time, and in most cases, expensive equipment. Therefore, we recommend a Marine aquarium for more advanced fish keepers.

That said, we will focus on the cold-water fish tank and the tropical fish tank.

The Difference Between Cold Water and Freshwater Fish.

Let’s explore each fish tank habitat in more detail below.

What Are Cold Water Fish (Definition)

Cold Water Fish are a species that prefer cooler water temperatures than tropical fish, typically below 20 °C (68 °F). Some examples are koi and goldfish. These species grow more slowly, live longer than fish in warmer waters, and are generally easier to keep…

When kept in a household aquarium, they do not require a heater and are pretty comfortable at around 60°F (15°C). Wikipedia

Because of these qualities, Coldwater fish are the most popular for children and beginners.

Most Coldwater fish are inexpensive to keep and require less maintenance.

Examples of common coldwater aquarium fish you can keep at home are:

  • Gold Barb
  • Green Barb
  • Rosy Barb
  • Two Spot Barb
  • Bloodfin Tetra
  • Buenos Aires Tetra
  • Guppy
  • Zebra Danio
  • Pearl Danio
  • Weather Loach
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnow

All of the above are very hardy fish and can thrive in temperatures in the mid-’60s; you can find them all in most pet stores.

There are many more options, but this is an excellent list to start from.

What Are Freshwater Tropical Fish (Definition)

Tropical Fish are found in tropical climates and typically require temperatures to be around 75-80°F.

Because of their bright coloring, tropical fish are the most popular with fish keepers.

By installing a heater, your aquarium can maintain a set temperature with minimal effort.

Here is an excellent list of the many tropical aquarium fish available:

Have a look through the list and consider a few things, habitat, temperature range, aggression, size.

Once you have a good idea of what fish tank habitat and fish species you would like to keep, we can move on to Step #2.

Top Tip: Tip: Because of the differences in temperature ranges, Coldwater and freshwater fish are not typically mixed.

However, many Coldwater species listed above, Barbs for example can do very well in both Coldwater and tropical aquariums.

Are Cold Water Fish Easier To Keep Than Tropical Fish?

If you are comparing the two fish Cold Water fish are easier to keep than tropical fish.

Most Coldwater fish are inexpensive to keep and require less maintenance, equipment grow more slowly, live longer than fish in warmer waters.

Which Is Better Tropical Fish Or Cold Water Fish?

Both have their benefits; however, keep in mind that some tropical fish can live in cold water conditions while others can not.

It comes down to what you are trying to accomplish with your tank.

What Tropical Fish Can Live In Cold Water?

There are many tropical fish like Zebra Danio that can live in cold water and lower temperatures.

However, most tropical fish are found in tropical climates and typically require temperatures to be around 75-80°F.

What Aquarium Fish Can Live In Cold Water?

Examples of common coldwater aquarium fish you can keep at home are:

  • Gold Barb
  • Green Barb
  • Rosy Barb
  • Two Spot Barb
  • Bloodfin Tetra
  • Buenos Aires Tetra
  • Guppy
  • Zebra Danio
  • Pearl Danio
  • Weather Loach
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnow

How Long Before You Can Put Cold Water Fish In A Tank?

You should wait for at least 24 hours before you add cold water fish to a tank, here’s why.

When adding fish to a new tank it doesn’t matter if they are tropical fish or cold water fish. What matters is if the water parameters are in the safe range.

Be sure you allow time for your tank to cycle or add enough beneficial bacteria to help speed up the cycle.