The Top 11 Schooling Fish for a 20-Gallon Tank: A Guide for Aquarium Enthusiasts

Estimated read time 7 min read

Selecting the right fish can be daunting for those new to aquariums or looking to set up a new tank.

The right fish for a 20-gallon tank should be colorful, lively, and sturdy enough to withstand water conditions.

Schooling fish are perfect for this tank size as they add color and movement and offer a sense of community.

Here’s a quick list of the 11 best schooling fish for a 20-gallon tank;

  1. Neon Tetra
  2. Harlequin Rasbora
  3. Cherry Barb
  4. Dwarf Gourami
  5. Zebra Danio
  6. Endler’s Livebearer
  7. Glowlight Tetra
  8. Ember Tetra
  9. Cardinal Tetra
  10. Black Neon Tetra
  11. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Related: Check out How Many Fish Can Live In A 20 Gallon Tank Comfortably to learn the right stocking guidelines for a tank this size.

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Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra
Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra is a popular and attractive fish among hobbyists. These fish can live up to 5 years and should be kept in groups of six or more.

They require a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 and a temperature range of 70°F to 81°F.

Harlequin Rasbora

Rasbora schooling fish for 15 gallon tank
Rasboras Schooling

Harlequin Rasbora is a peaceful and active schooling fish that adds vibrancy to the aquarium.

They are easy to care for and can adapt to different water conditions.

They thrive in groups of six or more, requiring a temperature range of 72°F to 80°F and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb is a hardy and peaceful fish that is perfect for beginners.

They come in bright red colors and require a temperature range of 73°F to 81°F and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

They thrive in groups of six or more.

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami Centerpiece Fish
Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami is a beautiful and peaceful fish that comes in various colors.

They require a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5 and a temperature range of 77°F to 82°F.

They are best kept in pairs or small groups of 3-4 and require plenty of hiding spaces.

Zebra Danio

zebra danio
Zebra Danio

Zebra Danio is a small, active, hardy fish perfect for a beginner’s tank.

They thrive in groups of six or more, requiring a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature range of 65°F to 77°F.

Endler’s Livebearer

Endler’s Livebearer is a colorful and peaceful fish perfect for small tanks.

They require a pH level of 7.0 to 8.0 and a temperature range of 72°F to 82°F. They thrive in groups of six or more.

Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight tetra closeup
Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight Tetra is a small, vibrant fish that adds color and liveliness to the tank.

They require a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 and a temperature range of 72°F to 82°F. They thrive in groups of six or more.

Ember Tetra

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon Amandae)
Ember Tetras

Ember Tetra is a small, peaceful fish perfect for a 20-gallon tank.

They come in bright red colors and require a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and a temperature range of 75°F to 82°F. They thrive in groups of six or more.

Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetras
Cardinal Tetra

Cardinal Tetra is a popular and attractive fish suitable for a 20-gallon tank.

They require a pH of 5.0 to 7.0 and a temperature range of 72°F to 81°F. They thrive in groups of six or more and need plenty of hiding spaces.

Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra - Hyphessobrycon Herbertaxelrodi
Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra is a beautiful and peaceful fish that adds contrast to the aquarium.

They require a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 and a temperature range of 72°F to 81°F. They thrive in groups of six or more and need plenty of hiding spaces.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a small, peaceful fish perfect for a 20-gallon tank.

They come in various colors and require a pH of 6.0 to 8.0 and a temperature range of 64°F to 72°F. They thrive in groups of six or more.

When selecting the right fish for your 20-gallon tank, it is crucial to consider the number of fish that can comfortably inhabit the space.

A 20-gallon tank can accommodate six to eight small schooling fish, depending on the species.

Aside from schooling fish, consider adding other fish species as tank mates. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Betta Fish: Betta Fish are solitary fish that can live in a 15-gallon tank with a filter. They require a pH level of 6.5 to 8.0 and a temperature range of 76°F to 81°F. It is important to note that Betta Fish are territorial and may not do well with other fish species.
  • Guppies: Guppies are small and colorful fish that require a pH level of 7.0 to 8.2 and a temperature range of 72°F to 82°F. They can live in a 10-gallon tank and thrive in groups of three or more. It is important to note that male guppies can be aggressive toward each other.

When setting up your 20-gallon tank, you will also need to consider the type of substrate and filter you will be using.

Fluval Stratum substrate is an excellent option as it is made from volcanic soil and helps stabilize the water’s pH level.

As for the filter, the best aquarium filter for a 20-gallon tank would be a hang-on-back filter or a canister filter.

In conclusion, adding schooling fish to your 20-gallon tank can add color, movement, and a sense of community to the aquarium.

When selecting the right fish, consider the number of fish that can comfortably inhabit the space and their specific requirements.

Adding other fish species as tank mates can also enhance the overall aesthetic of the aquarium.

And remember to invest in a good substrate and filter for optimal water conditions.

Now that you’ve explored the fascinating world of schooling fish, it’s time to dive even deeper into this captivating topic!

Here are some articles to help you expand your knowledge and discover more about the best schooling fish for various aquarium sizes and setups:

  1.  Best Schooling Fish for 5-Gallon Tank: Learn about the perfect schooling fish options for a compact 5-gallon aquarium.
  2.  Best Schooling Fish for 10-Gallon Tank: Explore a variety of schooling fish that thrive in a 10-gallon tank, adding life and movement to your setup.
  3. Best Schooling Fish for 20-Gallon Tank: Discover the ideal schooling fish for a 20-gallon aquarium, creating a mesmerizing underwater display.
  4. Best Schooling Fish for 30-Gallon Tank: Enhance your 30-gallon tank with a selection of schooling fish suitable for this size.
  5. Best Schooling Fish for 40-Gallon Tank: Uncover the top schooling fish choices for a 40-gallon aquarium, adding color and dynamism to your setup.
  6. Best Schooling Fish for 55-Gallon Tank: Find out which schooling fish will make your 55-gallon tank an aquatic wonderland.
  7. Best Schooling Fish for Aquariums: Get an overview of the most popular and best-suited schooling fish for various aquarium types.
  8. Best Schooling Fish for Community Tank: Discover the ideal schooling fish that can peacefully coexist with other species in a community tank setup.
  9. Best Schooling Fish for Planted Tank: Learn about the perfect schooling fish that will complement and thrive in a lush planted aquarium environment.
  10. Bottom-Dwelling Schooling Fish: Explore the world of bottom-dwelling schooling fish, adding diversity and intrigue to your aquarium floor.
  11. Mid-Level Schooling Fish: Dive into the realm of mid-level schooling fish, which bring balance and movement to the middle section of your tank.
  12. Schooling Fish for Small Aquariums: Uncover the best schooling fish options for small tanks, maximizing beauty without overwhelming your space.
  13. Top-Dwelling Schooling Fish: Learn about the fascinating top-dwelling schooling fish that will enhance the surface of your aquarium with their captivating behavior.

By exploring these resources, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of schooling fish, their care requirements, and the most suitable options for different aquarium setups. 

As you continue to learn, you’ll be able to create the perfect aquatic environment for your schooling fish to thrive in.

So, immerse yourself in the captivating world of schooling fish today!

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