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Best Cold Water Fish for Aquariums & Ponds

Fish usually require a particular range of temperature for their living. While some prefer to live in warm water with a slightly higher temperature, a few like to live a healthy life in cold water conditions.

Besides, both cold water and tropical fish tend to have certain specific characteristics that make them differ from each other.

Well, coldwater fish refers to those species that prefer to live in relatively colder temperatures. Thus, there is no need to add any heater or insulation unit to coldwater fish aquariums. However, a stable cold water temperature needs to be maintained for their living.

What Fish are Cold Water?

We usually tag those as coldwater fish that prefers to live in comparatively colder water temperatures.

In terms of aquarium fish, coldwater fish are those species that do not require any heating or insulation unit for their living. They can easily dwell in less than normal or relatively colder water surroundings.

However, you should keep in mind that even if coldwater fish can survive in cold water conditions, they cannot thrive well in a wide variety of water changes.

Also, the aquarium coldwater fish prefer a particular water temperature range, which is comparatively lower than other fish species and needs to be met for their proper living.

Also, it must be noted that a coldwater fish cannot necessarily deal with too low, chilling aquatic environments.

Therefore, the temperature preference for various coldwater fish species differs from one to another. Usually, most fish are poikilothermic ones that are cold-blooded vertebrates, and their body temperature tends to adjust as per their surrounding environment.

But much coldwater fish are eurythermal, i.e., they prefer the water temperature to be somewhat similar to their body heat.


While you are thinking of petting some beautiful cold water buddies, it is better to know about the various coldwater fish types before you bring one. Coldwater fish species can be divided into different categories based on their traits. So, here are the various cold-water fish types, have a look.

Bit Messier Ones

There are various messier types of coldwater fish that are a bit difficult to care for. You need to keep them in a large tank and use a convenient filter to give them suitable water quality. The following are a few messier coldwater fish that you can easily get in the market.

  • Assorted Oranda Large
  • Black Moor
  • Goldfish Small
  • Jumbo Oranda
  • Lemon Goldfish
  • Shubunkin Small
  • Sarasa Comet

Bottom Feeders

Among the large group of cold water fish, you can also find some bottom feeders that prefer to stay near the ground. Here are some cold water bottom feeders that you can look for.

  • Weather Loach
  • Hong Kong Pleco

Clean Water Fish

There are some coldwater fish that prefers to thrive in a very clean water tank. To care for such fish, you need to ensure a top-notch quality water filter, which can keep the tank water crystal clear as per their preference. The following are the names of those fish.

  • Telescope Oranda
  • Pearlscale

Most Popular Coldwater Fish

Coldwater fish for aquariums tend to maintain a healthy balance of immunity and body heat control. Hence, they can easily live without any heating or insulation unit in the aquarium.

Now, as for keeping these species, you need not undergo any additional hassle of installing water heaters. Hence, these coldwater fish for aquariums are pretty popular among aquarists.

So, here are some cold water fish, which are widely popular for petting in a home aquarium.

Pearl Danio: These blue and violet-colored exotic fish species with orangish-red stripes running from their mid-body to their tail are a great addition to a highly decorated cold water aquarium. They can withstand up to mid-60 ℉ water temperature.

Rainbow Shiner: The pink and purple body color of these fish makes them a bright choice for a beautiful cold water tank. These rainbow-hued cuties thrive best in an aquatic environment having a temperature range of 70-74 ℉.

Hillstream Loach: Hillstream loaches are one of the most effective algae eaters for your fish tank. These pretty loaches are best cared for in cold water tanks having a temperature of 68-75 ℉ and a pH balance of 6.6-7.8.

Clown Killifish: With their exotic-colored body and fiery tail, clown killifish look fabulous in a home aquarium. They can easily tolerate as low as 67 ℉ of water temperature.

Barbs: Being tolerant to a temperature range of 60-75 ℉, barbs are one of the best choices to keep in a cold water aquarium. Thus, these pretty orange and golden barbs do not require any heater for their living and are too easy to care for in a coldwater fish tank.

Cold Water Fish for Beginners

There is plenty of coldwater fish that are widely available in a hobbyist or aquarist store. However, not all coldwater fish in the tank are easy to care for.

You often need to check the tank’s water temperature and maintain a consistent cold aquatic environment even when the outside temperature is high. Thus, it is better to start with some easy-to-care coldwater fish species that can adapt to an extensive range of water temperatures.

So, here are a few beginners coldwater fish species that you can consider keeping in your aquarium.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow: These fish species are small and easier to care for with minimal effort. All you need to do is keep them in an aquarium having 60-70 ℉ of water temperature to render them the best care.

Paradise Fish: Add some beauty of paradise to your cold water aquarium with these small fish species. These fish are highly popular amongst aquarists for their pretty bright colors. Also, they can thrive in a much more flexible water temperature range of 50-71 ℉.

Dwarf Crayfish: Dwarf crayfish require a very low range of care and are a good fit for any small fish tank. They need a colder water temperature of 60-75 ℉ for their survival.

Fancy Goldfish: These fancy varieties of goldfish are too easy to care for in a low water temperature. They tend to thrive the best when kept in a cold water aquarium of 62-71 ℉ water temperature.

Weather Loaches: Weather loaches are unique coldwater fish species that can detect various weather-changing conditions. You can easily care for them in a 55-77 ℉ tank without installing any heater.

Bloodfin Tetra: Bloodfin tetra is another nice-looking, schooling coldwater fish that is too simple to care for. They are pretty hardy and can easily tolerate up to a water temperature of 72-78 ℉.

Guppy: Add a bunch of colors to your cold water tank with these exotic little guppies. They are too easy to care for when kept in an aquarium of 72-78 ℉. Besides, guppies are the second-most widely available aquarium fish after goldfish; hence, beginners can easily get them even in any local aquarist shop.

Cold Water Fish for Ponds

To create a beautiful-looking pond, you can consider keeping fish species that thrive comfortably well in the colder waters of a pond. So, here are some of the best cold-water fish for ponds that you can opt for.

Orangethroat Darter: These pond fish species thrive best in a water temperature of as low as 39-68 ℉.

Orange Spotted Sunfish: As a cold water pond fish, this species is best cared for when kept in an aquatic habitat of 39-72 ℉.

Three-Spined Stickleback: These little fish are an excellent option to keep in a pond having 39-68 ℉ water temperature.

Siberian Sturgeon: These coldwater fish survive well in the waters of a pond with 50-68 ℉ temperature.

Koi fish: These colorful carp fish are a great addition to cold water lakes having a water temperature of 59-77 ℉.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is salmon cold water fish?

Yes, salmon is a coldwater fish that is highly popular in the commercial marketing trade of edible fish. Salmon is a good source of fatty acids, vitamins, and protein, making them one of the widely popular fish on the food platters of a wide range of people worldwide.

Is tilapia cold water fish?

Well, unlike other popular edible fish, tilapia is not a cold water fish. Tilapia is intolerant to colder water temperatures. Thus, tilapia fish farming is primarily done in warm climates where these fish are much easier to care for.

However, it is worth mentioning that tilapia is a very hardy fish that can survive in various conditions in the wild. But the water temperature needs to be proper for their better care.

Is cod cold water fish?

Similar to any other edible seawater fish, cod is also a cold water fish. Cod is widely popular in the food fish trade as it tastes better and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, sodium, and other essential nutrients.

Can coldwater fish eat each other?

Whether coldwater fish will eat each other when kept together is entirely dependent on the type of fish species you are picking.

Fish are very opportunistic. To survive and have a good food source fulfilling their hunger, they often eat their tank mates. It does not matter in which shape and form food come to them; if it fits their mouth, they will eat it. So, even if it’s a tinier fish that had been a great companion yesterday, but its size perfectly fits the mouth of a comparatively larger fish, the latter will readily gobble up the former one.

However, not every coldwater fish species will eat their tank mates. This behavior is solely limited to predatory and carnivorous fish. The peaceful, plant-eating, coldwater fish usually do not eat others as they strive to live on a vegetative diet.

Also, it is to be noted that this behavior is not only limited to cold water fish. Any fish species from any corner of the world tend to have this opportunistic behavior.


So, when it comes to picking suitable coldwater fish for your tank, the list is simply large. There are more than thousands of fish species that survive best in cold water conditions.

However, while caring for these coldwater fish in your tank, maintain a stable colder water temperature. During the increasing heat of the outside environment, you need to take special measures so that their aquatic environment doesn’t change and they do not suffer.