The Top 8 Best Orange Freshwater Fish (Perfect for Aquariums!)

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: June 8, 2023
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Fish are the perfect pets for those who want something low maintenance to keep them company. Their many beautiful colors are mesmerizing, and a beautiful aquarium with bright orange fish adds character to your space. Check out these top eight best orange freshwater fish and discover their personalities.

If you like orange fish, check out these great freshwater species!

Small Orange Freshwater Aquarium Fish

Are you looking to add some smaller fish to your aquarium? Check out these five options for small orange fish.

1. Ember Tetra Fish

Ember Tetra

Ember tetras are omnivores, and they are micro-predators that feed on other small invertebrates.

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The ember tetra fish is native to Brazil and lives in the Araguaia River basin. Tetra fish are known for their small sizes, growing to a max of 0.8 inches long. While they may be tiny, ember tetra features striking orange and red coloring, with some transparency, especially near the pelvic fin. 

Level: Beginner

Tank Conditions: These fish need at least a ten-gallon tank with acidic water (PH 6.6), a few live aquatic plants, and open water. They are schooling fish, so they do best when kept in groups of nine to ten. 

2. Tiger Barb


barb bodies are brownish yellow with four vertical black stripes.

©Faucon, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons – License

The tiger barb is a tropical fish from the carp family. Their native range is in Indonesia, but you can also find them in many other parts of Asia. They can grow over four inches in the wild. However, they are usually smaller when kept in captivity, with an average length between two and 3.9 inches. Their bodies are brownish yellow with four vertical black stripes. And their fins and snout are bright reddish orange.

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Tank Conditions: Tiger barbs need at least a 20-gallon tank with soft, slightly acidic water between 6.0 and 8.0 PH. They are shoaling fish and are known to be aggressive in groups of less than five or six. 

3. Orange Sailfin Molly

Molly (Poecilia sphenops) - orange molly

Orange mollies reach their color through selective breeding. They can grow to 3 inches long.


The sailfin molly is native to the Americas, where it inhabits both freshwater and saltwater. They typically reside in areas of the Southeast and Mexico. These fish are oblong shaped with dorsal fins that look like sails, hence the name. The orange sailfin’s color is reached through selective breeding. And they average between half an inch to three inches long.

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Tank Conditions: These fish need a large tank, at least 20 gallons or more, and they do best when in groups. However, there should be more females than males due to the aggressive nature of males fighting for the alpha position. The tank should include open water with a few spots to hide, like live plants and rocks.

4. Orange Venezuelan Cory Catfish

Bronze Cory in an aquarium

The orange Venezuelan cory


are indigenous to Venezuela.

©Geza Farkas/

This fish is a peaceful, easy-going bottom-dweller. The orange Venezuelan cory catfish are indigenous to Venezuela and feature a natural color variant of the bronze cory catfish. They have a striking contrast of metallic bluish-green sides and bright orange backs that increase in color as they age. Their average length is around 2.4 inches.

Level: Beginner

Tank Conditions: This cory catfish does best in schools of at least six, and they need a minimum of 15 gallons. They prefer softer water with a PH between 6.0 and 7.5. The bottom of the tank should contain sand or smooth gravel.

5. Orange Platy Fish

Southern platyfish

The orange platy fish needs at least a 15 to 20-gallon tank with a PH between 6.8 and 8.5.


Platies are native to Mexico and Central America and feature many color variations. The average platy grows between two and three inches. But there are also variations called dwarf platies that stay around one inch. Some color variations are all orange, while others may feature black fins.

Level: Beginner

Tank Conditions: The orange platy fish needs at least a 15 to 20-gallon tank with a PH between 6.8 and 8.5. They also like harder water and plenty of live aquatic plants. They need to be in groups of at least three to six. And there should be two females for every male.

Large Orange Freshwater Aquarium Fish

There are many small fish for home aquariums but what about bigger fish? Check out these three selections for large orange aquarium fish.

6. Orange Goldfish

goldfish swimming in aquarium

The goldfish has at least 125 different species. They do best in a 30-gallon tank with live plants.


Goldfish are members of the carp family and are native to China. They are one of the most popular aquarium fish on earth, featuring numerous variations in size, color, and body shape. Goldfish are fascinating creatures that will change sizes depending on their environment. Those kept in small tanks will average around one to two inches, in larger tanks they can reach six inches, and outdoor ponds allow them to grow up to 14 inches.

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Tank Conditions: Orange goldfish prefer cooler temperatures between 65 and 72 degrees, with a neutral PH. They do best if you start them with a 30-gallon tank and include live plants and pebbles. These fish can do just fine on their own, but many owners keep at least two.

7. Red Devil Cichlid

Red devil cichlids come in different color variations and measure around 15 inches long on average.

©Mircea Costina/

The red devil cichlid is native to freshwater lakes in Nicaragua. These fish are known for their unique yet feisty personalities. They are a favorite in the aquarium world due to their propensity for forming bonds with their owners. But, as their name suggests, the red devil can be a handful. They are aggressive towards other fish and like to destroy things with their teeth. They come in different color variations and measure around 15 inches long on average.

Level: Experienced

Tank Conditions: These large fish need a lot of room for their antics. You should have at least a 75-gallon tank for one fish. If you have more than one fish, it’s recommended you have a 200-gallon tank. These fish need clean water, with a PH between 6.5 and 7.5.

8. Orange Discus Fish

The discus fish is bred in many color variations, and they grow between 5-7 inches on average.

©Doronenko / Creative Commons

The discus fish is a beautiful orange freshwater fish and a favorite aquarium fish. They are cichlids native to South America in the Amazon River basin. This fish is bred in many color variations, and even the orange can be in different shades. These fish grow between five and seven inches on average, but some have reported lengths of nine inches.

Level: Intermediate to experienced

Tank conditions: Some people start the orange discus in a 55-gallon tank. But the bigger, the better. We recommend placing one fish in a 75-gallon tank and increasing the size if there are more fish. They are very sensitive to changes in the water and need their tanks exceptionally clean.

Summary of the Top 8 Best Orange Freshwater Fish

Here is a summary of the top orange freshwater fish for home aquariums. The tank size recommended is the smallest required – larger tanks are even better.

#FishExperience LevelTank Size
1Ember Tetra FishBeginner10 gallon
2Tiger BarbBeginner to Intermediate20 gallon
3Orange Sailfin MollyBeginner to Intermediate20 gallon
4Orange Venezuelan Cory CatfishBeginner15 gallon
5Orange Platy FishBeginner15 – 20 gallon
6Orange GoldfishBeginner to Intermediate30 gallon
7Red Devil CichlidExperienced75 gallon
8Orange Discus FishIntermediate to Experienced75 gallon

The photo featured at the top of this post is © nektofadeev/

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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