55 Most Colorful Fish in the World (Photos)

Birds grace the land and air with brilliant color. But underwater, fish bring the same amount of vibrant energy, if not more. In this post, we’ll take a look at more than 50 colorful fish that you can find in nature and in aquariums.

List of Colorful Fish

Here’s our list of the most colorful fish in the world:

1. Moorish Idol

The Moorish idol got its name because the Moor people of Africa believed it to bring happiness.
  • Latin name: Zanclus cornutus
  • Habitat: Usually flat coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to 9.1 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly small invertebrates; corals and sponges make up a major part of its diet
  • Colorful feature: This fish has a body that is primarily black and white, although there is a brilliant patch of yellow that seems almost airbrushed.

The name of this fish makes it sound like a talent show on TV, but the Moorish idol got its name because the Moor people of Africa believed it to bring happiness. Moorish idols are graceful and beautiful in the wild, but they are incredibly difficult to keep successfully in captivity.

2. Flame Angelfish

The flame angelfish are popular aquarium fish thanks to their brilliant colors.
  • Latin name: Centropyge loricula
  • Habitat: Mostly coral reefs in Oceania, although it is sometimes found in Hawaii
  • Size: Up to 6 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly algae and crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: Most of the fish’s body is a fiery red-orange with a few black spots and bands. The very edges of the fins are a deep electric blue.

True to the name, most of this fish’s body is exactly the same glowing orange as a fire. Not surprisingly, flame angelfish are popular aquarium fish thanks to their brilliant colors. They tend to adapt readily to aquarium life and to a variety of commercial fish foods.

3. Bluefin Notho Killifish

Bluefin notho killifish look a little like very bright goldfish.
  • Latin name:  Nothobranchius rachovii
  • Habitat: Usually in floodplains
  • Size: Usually 1.5 to 2 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly insect larvae, small crustaceans, and worms
  • Colorful feature: Bluefin nothos look a little like very bright goldfish that have been partially painted over with bright blue. Their fins are mostly blue with deep red tiger-like stripes.

This killifish variety is one of the world’s brightest. In the wild, they usually can be found in temporary pools of fresh water, but they also make great aquarium fish. If you like bright fish but want to avoid the hassles of a saltwater tank, a few bluefin nothos can add a real burst of color.

4. Queen Angelfish

The Queen Angelfish just might be the most beautiful of all angelfish varieties.
  • Latin name: Holacanthus ciliaris
  • Habitat: Usually coral reefs in the western Atlantic Ocean
  • Size: Up to 18 inches in length
  • Diet: Many different invertebrates including jellyfish and sea sponges
  • Colorful feature: These fish have bluish-yellow bodies, and their fins are bright yellow with hints of electric blue.

The Queen Angelfish just might be the most beautiful of all angelfish varieties, though its very large size makes it difficult for most enthusiasts to keep. Interestingly enough, this fish has teeth; they are small, fine, and similar to brush bristles.

5. Mandarin Dragonet

The Mandarin Dragonet is tough to keep in captivity.
  • Latin name: Synchiropus splendidus
  • Habitat: Warm waters of the Pacific Ocean by Australia and nearby areas
  • Size: About 2-3 inches long
  • Diet: Small marine organisms like crustaceans and fish eggs
  • Colorful feature: Their bodies are primarily bright orange and crisscrossed with bright blue lines. They are one of two vertebrate species that have blue coloring from cellular pigment.

These stunning little fish (also called “mandarinfish”) are tough to keep in captivity, though their beauty makes them popular with saltwater aquarium keepers anyway. Their name comes from their almost impossibly bright colors that look like the robes of an Imperial Chinese mandarin.

6. Flowerhorn Cichlid

 In the world of aquarium hobbyists, flowerhorn cichlids are particularly popular in Asia.
  • Latin name: Cichlasoma sp.
  • Habitat: Released aquarium fish now live in the waters around Singapore and Malaysia
  • Size: Around 8-16 inches long
  • Diet: These fish can eat a wide variety of foods, especially protein-rich foods like smaller aquatic organisms.
  • Colorful feature: These stunning fish are hybrid species created by captive breeding, so they come in an impressive range of colors. The mostly pink one pictured is a Golden Base type.

These odd-looking fish are easily recognized by the large bump on the top of their heads. In the world of aquarium hobbyists, flowerhorn cichlids are particularly popular in Asia. They are highly intelligent fish who can even learn tricks!

7. Endler’s Livebearer

You don't usually see the Endler's livebearer in pet stores.
  • Latin name: Poecilia wingei
  • Habitat: Venezuela’s Paria Peninsula
  • Size: Around 1-2 inches
  • Diet: Mostly insect larvae and plant matter
  • Colorful feature: These fish usually have light bodies marked by unique orange and blue or black lines. Some captive breeders have worked to make them more colorful through selective breeding.

These stunning small fish are very similar to the fancier types of guppies. And they do sometimes hybridize with them, producing especially bright and colorful offspring. Despite its beauty, you don’t usually see the Endler’s livebearer in pet stores; it’s more common with those who are involved in the aquarium hobby on a more serious level.

8. Common Lionfish

The Common Lionfish is sometimes called the devil firefish.
  • Latin name: Pterois miles
  • Habitat: It primarily lives in the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea. It has become an invasive species in warmer parts of the Atlantic Ocean as well.
  • Size: Up to 14 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily invertebrates and smaller fish
  • Colorful feature: These fish have white or off-white bodies that are striped and spotted with red to brown markings.

This fish is fairly colorful, but the dramatic array of spines and rays across its body make it look otherworldly. The spines are highly venomous to humans. It’s sometimes called the devil firefish, and it’s easy to see why. And even though its bright colors make it stand out against the bright blue sea, they help it to blend seamlessly into coral reefs.

9. Emperor Angelfish

The emperor angelfish are some of the most beautiful fish in the sea.
  • Latin name: Pomacanthus imperator
  • Habitat: Many parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, usually along coral reefs
  • Size: Up to 16 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly sponges and similar aquatic organisms
  • Colorful feature: This fish’s body is primarily striped with yellow and blue, with darker blue patches closer to the face. The lower fin is usually deep blue, with the tail usually being yellow.

Angelfish are some of the most beautiful fish in the sea, and this one is among the most brightly colored. It also has a somewhat rare defense mechanism. While most types of fish can’t produce sound, the emperor angelfish can make a knock-like sound if it becomes frightened.

10. Paradise Gourami

The Paradise Gourami frequently attack members of their species and others.
  • Latin name: Macropodus opercularis
  • Habitat: Various freshwater areas of East Asia
  • Size: Usually 2-3 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly insects and aquatic invertebrates
  • Colorful feature: Most of these fish are pale blue with bright orange bands and flowing, bright orange tail fins.

Though their name might suggest that they are fairly tranquil, paradise fish tend to like to fight. They will frequently attack members of their species and others. It does have a couple of more positive behavioral attributes, though; it’s one of the few fish that can change its color depending on its environment, and it also appears to have some ability to be taught by humans.

11. Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

The Boeseman's Rainbowfish is endangered in the wild.
  • Latin name: Melanotaenia boesemani
  • Habitat: Lakes and their tributaries in the area of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua, Indonesia
  • Size: Up to about 4 inches
  • Diet: Usually algae and smaller crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: The front part of the fish’s body is an iridescent blue-gray color. It fades into a brighter orange toward the back of the body.

In the right light, it’s easy to see how this fish got its name. The front of the body sparkles rainbow while the back looks a little like that of a goldfish. It is endangered in the wild, but it is especially calm and gets along well with other fish, so it’s a popular aquarium pet.

12. Bicolor Dottyback

Bicolor Dottyback can add some real color to your aquarium.
  • Latin name: Pictichromis diadema
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in the western Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, and the western central part of the Pacific Ocean
  • Size: About 2.4 inches long
  • Diet: Small crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: These electrically-colored fish have bright yellow lower bodies topped with a brilliant magenta stripe.

This striking tropical fish can add some real color to your aquarium. But you’ll need to make sure that you keep them with fish of similar sizes. Bicolor dottybacks will often attack smaller fish, but if they are kept with larger fish, they will typically hide whenever possible. These fish aren’t the only dottyback variety, so you may find some success having different dottyback varieties in one tank.

13. Cinnamon Clownfish

The Cinnamon Clownfish aren't quite as well-known as the multi-striped false clownfish.
  • Latin name: Amphiprion melanopus
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in the western Pacific Ocean
  • Size: Up to 4.7 inches
  • Diet: Zooplankton, algae, and small crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: These fish are bright orange with a darker, shadowy patch toward the dorsal area. They have one clearly outlined white vertical stripe behind the eye.

These unique fish aren’t quite as well-known as the multi-striped false clownfish (the type of fish in the movie Finding Nemo), which is what most people picture when they think of a clownfish. As a kind of anemonefish, they typically have a close relationship with their host anemones, which they rely upon for shelter. In return, the fish help protect the anemones from parasites and predators. 

14. Blue Triggerfish

Blue Triggerfish have one of the most intricate patterns on the list.
  • Latin name: Pseudobalistes fuscus
  • Habitat: Tropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to 22 inches long
  • Diet: Smaller crustaceans and various invertebrates that live in the bottom of the sea
  • Colorful feature: These beautiful fish have a bright brownish-yellow base color that is covered with thin, wavy bright blue lines as juveniles. Once they become adults, their bodies become a solid blue that’s a bit less brilliant.

These distinctive-looking fish have one of the most intricate patterns on the list. But if you happen to see one on a diving trip, you might want to avoid it. These fish are bold and aggressive, and many of them will even try to bite divers!

15. Peacock Gudgeon

Peacock Gudgeons are relatively easy to care for.
  • Latin name: Tateurndina ocellicauda
  • Habitat: Freshwater areas of the eastern part of Papua New Guinea
  • Size: Up to 3 inches long
  • Diet: Larvae, insects, and small crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: These fish have bluish bodies with orange stripes or bands. Their flowing fins are often tipped in yellow, although that yellow is much deeper in females than it is in males.

These striking little fish are peaceful and relatively easy to care for. They get along well with other fish, and they can even spawn in tanks with adequate cover. Once the female lays eggs, the male takes over. He uses his fins to fan water over the eggs to stop algae from growing on them, continuing until the eggs hatch.

16. Bolivian Ram

The Bolivian Ram is one of the most brightly colored freshwater fish out there.
  • Latin name: Mikrogeophagus altispinosus
  • Habitat: Warm river drainage areas in both Brazil and Bolivia
  • Size: Up to about 3 inches long
  • Diet: Small aquatic organisms and various plant materials
  • Colorful feature: These glimmering silver-yellow fish are marked with a black stripe through the eye and another black stripe at the front of the dorsal fin. Their lower fins are usually striated with bright red-orange and bright blue.

The Bolivian Ram is one of the most brightly colored freshwater fish out there, especially if you’re looking for a great-looking fish for your aquarium. These fish can be kept alone, but they are happiest in smaller groups. 

17. Banggai Cardinalfish

In the wild, though, the Banggai cardinalfish has a limited range.
  • Latin name: Pterapogon kauderni
  • Habitat: Warm waters off of Indonesia’s Banggai Islands
  • Size: Up to 3 inches long
  • Diet: Plankton and various small organisms along the ocean floor
  • Colorful feature: This fish’s unique body shape also has a very unique pattern of coloration. It has a base color of a pale golden brown, and it is marked with bold black vertical stripes outlined in white. It usually also has several small white spots.

This is one of the most distinctive-looking fish on the list, and its unique colors and strange build have made it popular in the aquarium trade. In the wild, though, the Banggai cardinalfish has a limited range, and the capture and sale of many fish have resulted in it becoming an endangered species.

18. Peppermint Angelfish

Peppermint angelfish can sell for as much as ,000!
  • Latin name: Centropyge boylei
  • Habitat: Caves and overhangs on the edges of coral reefs in the eastern central part of the Pacific Ocean
  • Size: Up to almost 3 inches long
  • Diet: Worms, crustaceans, and other smaller marine organisms
  • Colorful feature: These beautiful little fish have a characteristic vertical striped pattern of deep red-orange and white. Their faces and eyes are bright yellow.

This beautiful fish is not commonly seen as an aquarium fish, but some serious collectors are willing to pay startling sums for them. Peppermint angelfish can sell for as much as $30,000! Though their striking coloration looks a bit like a morph developed by a breeder, peppermint angelfish occur naturally in the wild.

19. Super Red Asian Arowana

The Super Red Asian Arowana variant is popular among enthusiasts for its especially bright colors.
  • Latin name: Scleropages formosus
  • Habitat: Slow-moving rivers in Southeast Asia
  • Size: Roughly 2-3 feet long
  • Diet: Juveniles eat insects while adults eat other fish
  • Colorful feature: These fish have very large scales that are mostly a metallic red in color. The scales themselves have a distinct net-like pattern that makes the fish look even more brilliantly colored.

The Asian Arowana is a beautiful, almost prehistoric-looking fish. The Super Red variant is popular among enthusiasts for its especially bright colors. But these aren’t great for the new hobbyist, as they need huge amounts of tank space and can be challenging to care for. However, they do have distinctive personalities that tend to endear them to their caregivers. 

20. Wrought Iron Butterflyfish

A single wrought iron butterflyfish can sell for almost ,000.
  • Latin name: Chaetodon daedalma
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in the western Pacific Ocean, close to Japan
  • Size: Up to 5.9 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly various types of plankton
  • Colorful feature: Most of this fish’s body is a metallic color between charcoal gray and black. Many of the fins are tipped in brilliant yellow.

You might hear the name of this fish and immediately think it’s a dull gray in color. But the wrought iron butterflyfish has a brilliant, almost mirror-like sheen. The fish can use their coloring as an advantage when feeding; they sometimes pack together very closely to form a “wrought iron ball.” Their unique coloring commands a high price in the aquarium hobby world; a single wrought iron butterflyfish can sell for almost $3,000.

21. Cherry Barb

The cherry barb offers surprisingly bright color for such a small fish.
  • Latin name: Puntius titteya
  • Habitat: Freshwater areas of Sri Lanka, although it has since been introduced to both Mexico and Colombia
  • Size: Up to 2 inches long
  • Diet: Plant material and small aquatic organisms; they may sometimes even eat their own eggs and hatchlings
  • Colorful feature: The males of this species are incredibly bright red, though some may have a more rose-colored look. Their scales also usually have some silver highlights. The females aren’t quite as bright, but they do have an eye-catching greenish sheen.

The cherry barb offers surprisingly bright color for such a small fish. They prefer quiet, shady freshwater in their natural habitat, but they do fairly well in captivity. They aren’t picky eaters, and they get along peacefully with most other types of fish.

22. Queen Triggerfish

Despite their large size, queen triggerfish are sometimes kept as aquarium fish.
  • Latin name: Balistes vetula
  • Habitat: Parts of the western Atlantic from Canada to Brazil, and parts of the eastern Atlantic (mainly near the Caribbean)
  • Size: Up to 24 inches long
  • Diet: Different marine invertebrates, especially sea urchins
  • Colorful feature: This fish is typically a mix of yellow, turquoise, purple, blue, and green, but fish can change color depending on surroundings and stress levels.

These fish are beautiful and especially striking, but they are large and aggressive. Despite their large size, they are sometimes kept as aquarium fish, but they’re fairly uncommon. If you do decide you want to keep a queen triggerfish, you’ll need a lot of space; they need at least a 500-gallon aquarium.

23. Rummy-Nose Tetra

Rummy-Nose Tetra are mostly silvery-white and sometimes have a greenish, iridescent sheen.
  • Latin name: Hemigrammus rhodostomus
  • Habitat: Usually in and around the Amazon River, Rio Negro, and Rio Meta in South America
  • Size: About 2 inches long
  • Diet: Almost any small aquatic organism or plant matter
  • Colorful feature: These fish are mostly silvery-white and sometimes have a greenish, iridescent sheen. They have bright-red faces, and their tails have a pattern of black stripes.

Tetras are great aquarium fish for hobbyists of any level. But this particular species is not quite as well known as some others. And while they are pretty to look at, they do serve an important purpose. If they are exposed to dangerous levels of certain chemicals, their red faces will start to become pale.

24. Splendid Killifish

Splendid Killifish are quiet and peaceful, and they do very well when you keep them in pairs.
  • Latin name: Aphyosemion splendopleure
  • Habitat: Streams and other moving freshwater bodies in Gabon, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea
  • Size: Up to about 2.5 inches
  • Diet: Both plant matter and small aquatic organisms
  • Colorful feature: Males are especially colorful, but both sexes can be very colorful combinations of yellow, red, blue, and green. They have a stunning metallic sheen, too.

These cute little fish are quiet and peaceful, and they do very well when you keep them in pairs. There is no definite standard color pattern for either males or females, as the color palette of each fish varies based on the region they come from. However, they do have two lines along each side. On the females, it’s much easier to see the lines.

25. Rainbow Parrotfish

True to the name, the rainbow parrotfish is a very colorful fish that can be found in tropical areas of the Atlantic.
  • Latin name: Scarus guacamaia
  • Habitat: Warmer parts of the western Atlantic Ocean, especially in beds of seagrass, coral reefs, and mangroves
  • Size: Up to almost 4 feet long
  • Diet: Mostly detritus and sea sponges
  • Colorful feature: Most adult fish have bright, shimmery green bodies with orange heads and fins.

True to the name, the rainbow parrotfish is a very colorful fish that can be found in tropical areas of the Atlantic. Though they are definitely fish to look out for while snorkeling or scuba diving, they are also caught for food in many parts of the Caribbean. Unlike many fish, the rainbow parrotfish can live to be 16 years old! 

26. False Percula Clownfish

As juveniles, false percula clownfish select an anemone to serve as the host.
  • Latin name: Amphiprion ocellaris
  • Habitat: Slopes of coral reefs in the eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean.
  • Size: Up to 4.3 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily plankton and algae
  • Colorful feature: Both sexes are bright orange with three black-outlined white bands. Their fins are often tipped in black.

Somewhat confusingly, this fish is also called the common clownfish. You might recognize it from the movie Finding Nemo. As juveniles, false percula clownfish select an anemone to serve as the host. The fish and the anemone have a symbiotic relationship; the anemone provides shelter to the fish, while the fish eats parasites that could harm the health of the anemone. 

27. Six-Line Wrasse

Six-line wrasses find a cavity in a coral reef and then wrap themselves in a cocoon.
  • Latin name: Pseudocheilinus hexataenia
  • Habitat: Usually coral reefs off the eastern coast of Africa and between Japan and Australia
  • Size: Up to almost 4 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly smaller crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: Both sexes are a deep violet in color. They have six orange lines along the body, and in many cases, the tails are yellow. Some of the fins are streaked in blue.

These shy yet beautiful fish are somewhat unusual; though you can purchase them to keep in an aquarium, they cannot yet be bred in captivity. In the wild, they have an interesting way of protecting themselves from predators while they sleep. Six-line wrasses find a cavity in a coral reef and then wrap themselves in a cocoon. The cocoon makes it less likely that a predator will smell the fish and attack while it sleeps.

28. Halfmoon Betta Fish

Halfmoon Betta Fish are the national aquatic animal of Thailand.
  • Latin name: Betta splendens var. Halfmoon
  • Habitat: Freshwater areas throughout southeast Asia
  • Size: Up to about 3 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly small crustaceans, zooplankton, and insect larvae
  • Colorful feature: Both males and females of this species are incredibly colorful. Breeders have selectively bred them for color, and you can find them in blue, red, green, white, pink, and even pied variants (to name a few). The halfmoon variant pictured here is a variety developed for its stunning, half-moon-shaped tail.

You might have heard betta fish called Siamese fighting fish. That name is no accident; at one point, the fish were used in fighting matches that spectators would gamble on. Now, they are better known as very popular aquarium pets. They are the national aquatic animal of Thailand, and they continue to contribute positively to the country’s economy. Though bettas are popular worldwide, Thailand is the top breeder and exporter. 

29. Kribensis

The kribensis is commonly sold in the aquarium trade.
  • Latin name: Pelvicachromis pulcher
  • Habitat: Freshwater areas of Nigeria and Cameroon
  • Size: Up to 3.2 inches long
  • Diet: Algae, various types of plant matter, and diatoms
  • Colorful feature: This unusually-colored fish is sometimes called the rainbow cichlid. Its upper body is typically yellow with black lines, while the lower body is silvery white with a patch of pinkish red.

Like many types of cichlids, the kribensis is commonly sold in the aquarium trade. And while the wild coloring is beautiful (especially in breeding season), you can also find albino variants. As of yet, this is the only color variant developed via selective breeding.

30. Rainbow Shark

Rainbow sharks have bodies that are deep blue, bright blue, or black.
  • Latin name: Epalzeorhynchos frenatum
  • Habitat: Various river basins in Indochina
  • Size: Up to about 6 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly algae, but they also eat insect larvae, zooplankton, crustaceans, and other aquatic organisms
  • Colorful feature: These fish have bodies that are deep blue, bright blue, or black. Their fins are bright red-orange, creating a very striking contrast.

Though their name might make you think that rainbow sharks chase down and attack other fish, they typically eat smaller aquatic organisms and aquatic plants. They do have an aggressive side in the aquarium, though. If you house a rainbow shark with small and shy fish, the sharks will often enjoy chasing them around the tank.

31. Blue Damselfish

Blue Damselfish are a brilliant cerulean blue in color.
  • Latin name: Chrysiptera cyanea
  • Habitat: Lagoons and coral reefs in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans
  • Size: Up to about 3.5 inches long
  • Diet: Algae and various smaller aquatic organisms
  • Colorful feature: These fish are a brilliant cerulean blue in color. Males have a bright yellow tail and nose as well.

These fish are beautiful, but when kept in an aquarium, they are often very aggressive. Both in the wild and in tanks, breeding pairs will attack similarly-sized fish that seem to be encroaching on their territory. If you want to keep a few blue damselfish in a tank, make sure you add them at the same time. Otherwise, the more established fish are likely to attack the newer ones.

32. Regal Angelfish

The regal angelfish is unique in that its diet does not include corals.
  • Latin name: Pygoplites diacanthus
  • Habitat: Tropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to almost 6 inches long
  • Diet: Almost entirely sea sponges
  • Colorful feature: Their coloration varies somewhat depending on location. However, most have a bright yellow-orange body with dark-outlined white stripes. They also have bright blue fins and a yellow tail. However, regal angelfish in the Indo-Pacific tend to have more yellow bodies than fish found in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Angelfish are some of the world’s most colorful fish, so it’s not surprising that this is yet another on the list. However, the regal angelfish is unique in that its diet does not include corals. That makes it one of the few “reef-safe” angelfish, so it is ideal for hobbyists who want to keep fish and coral in the same tank.

33. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loaches are nocturnal by nature.
  • Latin name: Pangio kuhlii
  • Habitat: Sandy riverbeds and streambeds in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula 
  • Size: Up to 4 inches long
  • Diet: These fish are scavengers; they will eat any plant or animal material that reaches the bottom of the water.
  • Colorful feature: These fish vary somewhat in color; adults usually have bodies that range from yellow to salmon pink. They are covered in bars that range from dark brown to black.

The kuhli loach is one of the strangest-looking fish on the list; it looks like a small eel. As a scavenger, it can be a great asset when it comes to cleaning up your home aquarium, too. Kuhli loaches are nocturnal by nature, but it’s possible for them to get used to feeding during the day. They also make pleasant tankmates, as they are sociable with both their own species and other species.

34. Celestial Pearl Danio

The Celestial Pearl Danio were only discovered in 2006.
  • Latin name: Danio margaritatus
  • Habitat: Freshwater at high elevations in a small part of Myanmar
  • Size: Up to about 1 inch long
  • Diet: Small aquatic organisms, larvae, algae, and various types of plant matter
  • Colorful feature: Males have a bright blue body with small pearl-like spots. Their fins are usually bright orange with a few dark streaks. Females are somewhat more dull in color, but they do have a similar pattern.

You might see these beautiful fish advertised in pet stores as galaxy rasboras. They were only discovered in 2006, although their small size and stunning coloration made them an excellent candidate for the aquarium trade.

35. Guppy

Guppies are some of the world's most popular tropical fish to have as pets.
  • Latin name: Poecilia reticulata
  • Habitat: Originally from freshwater areas of northeast South America, although populations and pet guppies can now be found all over the world.
  • Size: Males grow up to about 1.4 inches long while females reach about 2.4 inches long
  • Diet: Usually algae, diatoms, bits of plants, insect larvae, and various marine invertebrates
  • Colorful feature: Guppies come in almost endless ornamental varieties that appear in almost every color. The ornamental strains often have flowing fins and bright, metallic scales.

Guppies are some of the world’s most popular tropical fish to have as pets. While they are bred to have many bright colors, guppies have also been developed into many strains with different tail shapes. These include those with rectangular tails (flag tail), those with long triangular tails (veil tail), and those with circular tails (round tail).

36. Princess Parrotfish

Like other parrotfish, the princess parrotfish gets its name for its beak-like jaws.
  • Latin name: Scarus taeniopterus
  • Habitat: Coral reefs of South Florida, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas
  • Size: Up to almost 10 inches long
  • Diet: Primarily algae
  • Colorful feature: Male fish usually have a blue body with hints of yellow, while females have whitish bodies with bits of orange.

These striking fish are smaller than some other parrotfish species, so they’re a little more common in saltwater aquariums. Like other parrotfish, the princess parrotfish gets its name for its beak-like jaws. It has teeth that are fused to the jaws, and it uses them to scrape and eat algae.

37. Yellow Tang

Thanks to their incredibly bright coloration, yellow tang are some of the most popular saltwater fish for keepers of aquariums.
  • Latin name: Zebrasoma flavescens
  • Habitat: Shallow reefs in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii and east of Japan
  • Size: Up to almost 8 inches long
  • Diet: Algae and other types of aquatic plants
  • Colorful feature: These fish are a bright, electric lemon yellow.

Thanks to their incredibly bright coloration, these fish are some of the most popular saltwater fish for keepers of aquariums. They can live up to 30 years, so they are better suited to committed hobbyists.  

38. Cortez Rainbow Wrasse

The Cortez rainbow wrasse looks like a fish out of a painting.
  • Latin name: Thalassoma lucasanum
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean
  • Size: Up to almost 6 inches long
  • Diet: Plankton, fish eggs, and small crustaceans
  • Colorful feature: These fish have bright coloring; most of their bodies are bright pink with a yellow band around the neck. The head and tail range from turquoise to sky blue.

The Cortez rainbow wrasse looks like a fish out of a painting. Young fish are nearly as striking as adults; they are deep black with bright yellow, red, and green lines. The brilliantly colored adults are sometimes kept as aquarium fish. Though they may not be as well known as some other tropical fish, these fish are still very common in their natural range.

39. Spotted Scat

Spotted Scat it eats almost any plant or animal matter.
  • Latin name: Scatophagus argus
  • Habitat: Muddy coastal areas in the Indo-Pacific region
  • Size: Up to 15 inches long
  • Diet: Almost anything they can find
  • Colorful feature: These fish have a green to silver body that is covered in bold, red-to-brown spots.

The genus of this fish means “dung eater.” And while the spotted scat doesn’t actually eat dung, it does eat almost any plant or animal matter. Their dalmatian-like looks make them popular aquarium fish, although they do have a powerful venom. The venom of the spotted scat is not lethal to humans, but it is powerful enough to cause serious dizziness and pain. Thankfully, it can be treated easily; most aquarium experts recommend soaking it in very hot water.

40. Lake Kutubu Rainbowfish

If you want to see their brilliant colors at their best, make sure you house multiple Lake Kutubu rainbowfish together.
  • Latin name: Melanotaenia lacustris
  • Habitat: Lake Kutubu in Papua New Guinea
  • Size: Almost 5 inches long
  • Diet: Various smaller marine organisms
  • Colorful feature: These fish typically have bright turquoise-blue upperparts and whitish bellies. Some have a little bit of a yellowish sheen in the middle. The blue on the body sometimes fades to a greenish color.

This beautiful little fish has a very narrow natural range, and it is also an endangered species. They do well in small schools in tanks, and their playful nature makes them a joy to watch. If you want to see their brilliant colors at their best, make sure you house multiple Lake Kutubu rainbowfish together. When there’s competition, male fish will make their colors as bright as possible.

41. Royal Gramma

Royal grammas like to select hiding spots in rock crevices, and they will chase off smaller fish that try to intrude. 
  • Latin name: Gramma loreto
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in tropical portions of the western Atlantic Ocean
  • Size: Up to about 3 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly smaller crustaceans and zooplankton
  • Colorful feature: These brilliantly colored fish have purple heads that can range from violet to a paler, more energetic purple. The purple color fades into yellow about midway through the body.

This small fish makes a delightfully bright addition to a saltwater aquarium. When kept as aquarium fish, they are usually calm and peaceful, but they can be territorial. Royal grammas like to select hiding spots in rock crevices, and they will chase off smaller fish that try to intrude. 

42. Dwarf Hawkfish

For instance, male dwarf hawkfish usually claim groups of several females.
  • Latin name: Cirrhitichthys falco
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in tropical regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Almost 3 inches long
  • Diet: Small invertebrates on the ocean floor
  • Colorful feature: These fish have white bodies with pinkish-brown mottling from the top of the body to the middle.

Despite the name, this odd-looking fish doesn’t look much like a bird. In fact, from a distance, its coloring and shape make it look a little like a conch shell. The dwarf hawkfish has several upright spines along its back, and those spines are often topped with tassels. These fish have the ability to change sexes when needed. For instance, male dwarf hawkfish usually claim groups of several females. If the group becomes too big, a female can turn into a breeding male and claim part of the harem.

43. Purple Firefish

The purple firefish is a type of dartfish.
  • Latin name: Nemateleotris decora
  • Habitat: Tropical areas of the Indo-West Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to 3 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly zooplankton
  • Colorful feature: These fish have shiny whitish or yellowish bodies, but their fins are striped with orange, red, black, and purple.

The purple firefish is a type of dartfish. Its stunning colors make it a great candidate for a tropical aquarium. But if you do decide to keep them, it’s important to know that purple firefish can jump very high out of the water when they want to. Be sure the aquarium has a lid or hood that will keep the fish in the tank.

44. Powder Blue Surgeonfish

Powder Blue Surgeonfish have powder blue bodies and black heads.
  • Latin name: Acanthurus leucosternon
  • Habitat: Tropical areas of the Indian Ocean
  • Size: Up to 9 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly algae
  • Colorful feature: These fish have powder blue bodies and black heads. Their throats and lower fins are whitish, while the dorsal fin is bright yellow.

These striking fish are sometimes kept in the aquarium, but they are somewhat difficult to keep. They aren’t as popular as some other types of surgeonfish. And like others, it has what’s called a “surgeon’s scalpel” for defense. This is a sharp spine that can stand up if the fish becomes frightened.

45. Discus

No list of colorful fish would be complete without the discus.
  • Latin name: Symphysodon discus
  • Habitat: Amazon River basin in South America
  • Size: Up to 9 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly plant material, but they may eat invertebrates as well
  • Colorful feature: These may well be some of the world’s most colorful fish. Discus come in many different color varieties, some of which are dazzlingly bright. 

No list of colorful fish would be complete without the discus. Depending on who you talk to, these fish just might be the most colorful in the world. It’s also very popular with aquarium hobbyists. The discus has somewhat of a cult following; there is an international network of breeders, exhibitors, and enthusiasts.

46. Cardinal Tetra

The cardinal tetra's iridescent line is actually much brighter than that of the neon tetra.
  • Latin name: Paracheirodon axelrodi
  • Habitat: The Orinoco and Negro Rivers in South America
  • Size: About 2 inches long
  • Diet: Various smaller marine organisms and bits of plant matter
  • Colorful feature: These fish have bright red underparts and a brilliant, iridescent blue line that runs through the body.

These striking little fish are very easy to care for, though they aren’t quite as well-known as the neon tetra. And while you might think of the neon tetra as being more colorful, the cardinal tetra’s iridescent line is actually much brighter than that of the neon tetra.

47. Harlequin Rasbora

In the wild, harlequin rasboras are omnivorous.
  • Latin name: Trigonostigma heteromorpha
  • Habitat: Streams and boggy freshwater areas of Malaysia, Sumatra, Singapore, and some parts of Thailand
  • Size: About 2 inches long
  • Diet: Plant matter and small aquatic organisms
  • Colorful feature: These striking fish have a pinkish-colored body with red-tinted fins and a deep black patch on the side. The exact color of each fish’s body depends on ancestry, water conditions, and other factors.

These cute little fish aren’t too difficult to care for, but it’s a good idea to place genuine aquatic plants in their tanks. In the wild, harlequin rasboras are omnivorous, and they enjoy eating bits of plants as well as small aquatic organisms. If you decide to breed them, be careful; the adults will sometimes eat their own eggs before they hatch!

48. Sea Goldie

The Sea Goldie is no ordinary goldfish.
  • Latin name: Pseudanthias squamipinnis
  • Habitat: Warmer parts of the western Indian Ocean
  • Size: Females are up to 2.75 inches, while males are up to 5.9 inches
  • Diet: Mostly zooplankton
  • Colorful feature: Females look like very bright goldfish with a purple streak on the face. Males are an iridescent pink with a red patch on the pectoral fin.

This beautiful fish is no ordinary goldfish, although the females look a bit like a more colorful version of your typical goldfish. Not surprisingly, these fish can be found in the aquarium trade. Their bright colors (as well as the marked color difference between males and females) make them an interesting addition to any saltwater tank.

49. Clarion Angelfish

Clarion angelfish are among the most expensive saltwater fish.
  • Latin name: Holacanthus clarionensis
  • Habitat: Coral reefs along Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands
  • Size: Up to almost 8 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly sponges, algae, and various marine invertebrates
  • Colorful feature: These fiery orange fish have fins that are tipped in blue. Juvenile fish are the most beautiful of all; they have bright blue vertical bars on their sides that fade with age.

Clarion angelfish are among the most expensive saltwater fish. They were once collected from the wild and sold, but their native Revillagigedo Islands were declared a protected area, and collecting them is now illegal. However, they can be bred in captivity and can sell for up to $7,000.

50. Threadfin Butterflyfish

Threadfin Butterflyfish get their name from the thread-like yellow trail.
  • Latin name: Chaetodon auriga
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in warm regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to 9 inches long
  • Diet: Small marine animals, algae, corals, sponges, and various other marine organisms
  • Colorful feature: These fish have a mesmerizing crisscross pattern of black lines against a pale blue body. The back of the body and the tail are an incredibly bright yellow.

These stunning fish get their name from the thread-like yellow trail reaching behind the dorsal fin. And even though they look especially exotic, these fish are actually easy for beginners to care for. However, they do require large tanks of at least 100 gallons, so new hobbyists should make sure they have adequate space before purchasing them.

51. Dwarf Gourami

The smaller-sized dwarf gourami is a good choice of freshwater aquarium fish.
  • Latin name: Trichogaster lalius
  • Habitat: Streams and lakes in South Asia
  • Size: From 3-3.5 inches
  • Diet: Algae and small aquatic animals
  • Colorful feature: These fish are usually a pale blue with very bright orange bars. The males tend to have a higher concentration of orange, and they can look almost tiger striped.

The smaller-sized dwarf gourami is a good choice of freshwater aquarium fish. They have extremely gentle temperaments, and more aggressive fish like the Siamese fighting fish can sometimes even kill them. If you’re assembling a group for an aquarium, make sure you pair this one with similarly tranquil varieties.

52. Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish have a striking pattern.
  • Latin name: Balistoides conspicillum
  • Habitat: Tropical and subtropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to almost 20 inches long
  • Diet: Various small animals that live at the bottom of the sea
  • Colorful feature: These fish have a striking pattern; their upper bodies are mostly deep navy blue, while their bellies are marked with large white spots. Their mouths are bright yellow, while some of their fins are accented with pale purple.

These stunning animals are another kind of triggerfish. Though they are large, they are sought-after aquarium fish among serious collectors. Unlike most fish in the wild, they are solitary. Each clown triggerfish claims a territory that it will aggressively defend.

53. Blueface Angelfish

The Blueface Angelfish makes its home along coral reefs, and it is rarely seen as an aquarium fish.
  • Latin name: Pomacanthus xanthometopon
  • Habitat: Coral reefs in the eastern part of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
  • Size: Up to 15 inches long
  • Diet: Mostly sponges and similar organisms
  • Colorful feature: This striking fish, also called the yellowface angelfish, has a bright yellow and blue “mask.” The scales on its body appear laced, while its fins turn bright yellow toward its back.

This is one of the most beautiful of the angelfish; its deep blue and vibrant yellow contrast beautifully. It makes its home along coral reefs, and it is rarely seen as an aquarium fish. Some dealers in Singapore and the Philippines will capture wild individuals and sell them into the aquarium trade.

54. Psychedelic Mandarin

The Psychedelic Mandarin is very rarely kept as an aquarium fish.
  • Latin name: Synchiropus picturatus
  • Habitat: Warm Pacific waters from the Ryukyu Islands to Australia
  • Size: Usually 2-3 inches
  • Diet: Fish eggs, small crustaceans, and other small types of marine life
  • Colorful feature: This fish, also called the picturesque mandarin, is related to the mandarinfish. However, it’s marked with circles instead of lines. Many of its multicolored circle markings look a lot like eyes. Many, but not all, of these fish are a bluish color.

Though this beautiful fish is a fairly close relative of the mandarinfish (also called the mandarin dragonet), it is very rarely kept as an aquarium fish. It has an unusual defense mechanism against parasites and attacks from other fish; its skin is covered in thick, slimy material.

55. Ram Cichlid

Ram cichlids are one of the few fish that tend to be brighter in the wild than they are in captivity.
  • Latin name: Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
  • Habitat: The Orinoco River basin in South America
  • Size: About 2-3 inches long
  • Diet: Various small aquatic organisms and floating plant matter
  • Colorful feature: These fish come in a range of colors and patterns. Their patterns tend to involve dark stripes over bright colors.

Ram cichlids are one of the few fish that tend to be brighter in the wild than they are in captivity. Some breeders will actually inject captive ram cichlids with hormones to make their colors brighter, but this treatment makes some fish infertile.

Nature’s Most Colorful Fish

Whether you see them on TV, at an aquarium, on a snorkeling trip, or even in your own tank at home, brightly colored fish offer a kind of magic that few animals can match. Keep an eye out wherever you go; even a glimpse of one is sure to make your day.