Use this guide and a pH tester to find the best pH for freshwater fish of all kinds! The pH for freshwater shrimp is not listed on here but is recommended to be slightly acidic in the range of 6.3 – 7.2. By maintaining your aquarium at the best pH level, you will help your fish have a more efficient digestive and stronger immune system to combat disease. It is recommended you use a pH meter to test as it will be much more accurate than an aquarium test strip.

Lower pH Wide Range (6.0-8.0) Higher pH
Rasboras (5.8-7.0) Barbs Blind Cave Tetra (7.5-9.0)
Loaches (6.5-7.5) Danios Mollys, Guppies, Platys & Swordtails (7.0-8.5)
Hatchetfish (5.5-6.5) Sharks & Minnows Rainbowfish (7.0-8.0)
Glowlight Tetras, Head-and-Tail-light Tetras, Rummynose Tetras, Serpae Tetras, Black Neon Tetras, Lemon Tetras & Red Phantom Tetras (5.5-7.5) Bloodfin Tetras, Black Skirt Tetras, Silvertip Tetras, Buenos Aires Tetras, Neon Tetras & Emperor Tetras S.petricola & S.multipunctatus (7.5-9.0)
Cardinal Tetra (4.6-6.2) Corydoras African Rift Lake Cichlids (8.0-9.0)
Synodontis (6.5-7.5) South American Cichlids (7.0) Freshwater Puffers (7.5-8.5)
Plecos (6.0-7.5) Kribensis
Apistogram. (6.0-7.0) Angelfish
Rams (5.0-6.5) Bettas & Paradisefish
Discus (6.5-7.0)
Gouramis (6.5-7.0)

pH for Freshwater Fish and Aquatic Plants

It’s also not a bad idea to research the desired pH of the plants you have in your tank, which will almost always correspond with the pH of the water in the plant’s native region. This is a reason why it’s a good idea to populate your tank with freshwater plants and fish native to the same region as each other. You will also be pleased with how keeping the plants, fish, and hardscape from the same region is an easy start to making a true nature aquarium.

Since tap water typically comes at a higher pH then what is recommended for most plants and fish, learning methods to lower your pH is a valuable skill to have as an aquarist. We have put together an article on the various methods you can use to do so here.

Digital pH Meter

Aquarium test strips are important to keep around but using a digital pH meter can give you a much more precise reading. If you are constantly having to monitor your pH, you may find value in checking out the 3 in 1 Aquarium Meter. It gives a continuous read on pH as well as temperature and TDS. There are certainly more budget-friendly options out there if you are only looking for a pH meter, but it can be very useful to have a continuous monitor on pH as well as temperature and TDS.

What has been your experience with monitoring pH? Does it match up with the chart above? Let us know in the comments below, we respond to 100% of the comments left on our site.

Thanks for reading about the best pH for freshwater fish! Your fish will certainly thank you.


Derek V, Co-Founder of Atlantis Aquatics

IG: atlantis.aquatics

FB: Atlantis Aquatics


Chart Reference: Sweeney, M.E. (2009) Tropical Fishes. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications


  1. tajhizyar

    interesting ! Thanks for information !

  2. Delores Van Schaick

    The pH from my tap water is 7.0, but within 24 hours of placing in the tank it reads 8.2. I did an experiment and discovered it only rises that high in glass. I tested my water and a pet store water (also pH 7.0) in two glass bowls and two 5 gallon pails. The glass bowls along with my two fish tanks reach 8.2/8.4 within 24 hours and the two pails came in at 7.2/7.4. Why is this happening. Please help. I would love to have fish in my home.

  3. Sabrina

    Thanks! I didn’t realize electric oh readers existed and will give it a try



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