Skip to main content

The best low-maintenance fish to keep you company in your office

Are you looking for a conversation piece for your office? Consider buying a fish. They are low-maintenance office pets. They’re relaxing to watch and invite more conversation than a houseplant. 

If you work in a cubicle or only have a small amount of space to devote to a fish, consider one of these varieties. As long as you feed them regularly and keep their tank clean, they’ll provide hours of enjoyment for you and anyone who visits your office during the workday.

Meanwhile, if you’re seeking out impressive species for your house and you want a truly jaw-dropping conversation piece, check out small sharks for home aquariums

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish)

Sporting brilliant colors and an attitude, the betta makes a bold statement. These beautiful fish are extremely aggressive and do best when they are the only fish in the bowl. Even so, they are extremely low-maintenance and provide a display of color and majesty as they swim through the water.

Betta fish originate from Thailand where they live in shallow marshes, flood plains, and rice paddies. Their life expectancy is three to five years.

Colorful fish in an aquarium
Grigorev Mikhail/Shutterstock


Guppies come in a variety of colors — even neon. They are one of the several varieties of fish that harmonize with bettas quite well. Their colorful tail fins come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. You can keep several together in a large bowl; however, if you don’t want a bunch of baby guppies, make sure you buy only males. 

These inexpensive fish are very energetic, especially around feeding time, and only require clean water and as much food as they can eat in 20-40 seconds once or twice a day. Native to South America, there are nearly 300 varieties of guppies. Their average lifespan is approximately two years.


Mollies are a collection of three species of fish originating from the Southeastern United States, the Gulf of Mexico, South America, and Central America. They come in a variety of colors and have an average life expectancy of one and a half years. 

Like guppies, these livebearing fish will produce a lot of offspring, so consider buying males if you don’t want to deal with babies. They do best in a well-planted tank with a sandy bottom where they can search for food.

Endler’s Livebearers

Endler’s Livebearers are a smaller version of the guppy that grow to a length of 1 inch. Their vibrant colors are displayed in striking patterns, and many have a double sword tail. They love a habitat filled with plants and other secluded places to hide. 

These hardy, livebearing fish originate in Venezuela, and as schooling fish, do best in groups of three or more. Their average lifespan is two to three years.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

White Cloud Minnows

These small, peaceful fish only grow to a length of 1.5 inches and can live up to seven years. Due to their timid nature, they prefer to have plants and other hiding areas in the tank. They are school fish and are happiest in groups of five or more.

White cloud minnows are native to the Pearl River in China. Common varieties are silver and green with iridescent pink stripes. They have big appetites, and even though they will feed on the algae in your bowl, must be fed a diet of live prey (water fleas and brine shrimp), greenery (green algae), and flake or pellet food twice a day.  

Pygmy Corydoras

These friendly little catfish only reach a length of 1 inch that like sandy gravel and lots of plants in their habitat. These peaceful fish, native to the upper Rio Orinoco basin in Columbia and Venezuela, are easy to care for. They have a lifespan of three years. 

Because they are school fish, it’s best to keep them in groups of four or more. They swim very close to the ground, digging for leftover food in the sand. 

Neon Tetras

Neon tetra in an aquarium
Kristiana Berzina/Shutterstock

Originating in the Amazon basin of South America, neon tetras are brilliant little flashes of red and blue color which usually don’t grow much longer than 1.5 inches. Although they are hardy fish once they’re established in the tank, they are very susceptible to changes in their environment and are the most delicate during the first week.

These peaceful fish like to travel in groups, so plan to add several in your tank. They eat twice a day and have an average lifespan of 10 years.

Cherry Shrimp

Freshwater cherry shrimp are a colorful and unique alternative to owning traditional fish. Since they don’t produce much waste, you can keep as many as 20 in a 5-gallon container. Native to the streams and ponds in Taiwan, they are happiest in a densely planted tank where they can hide and nibble on the algae and moss. Cherry shrimp are active day and night but only live for one to two years.

Harlequin Rasboras

Rasboras are schooling fish that are closely related to goldfish and koi. Dwarf emerald rasboras are perfect for small office tanks. Because they are school fish, plan to purchase several together so they feel safe. Four is the limit for a 5-gallon tank.

These peaceful, colorful fish originate from southeast Asia where they live in forest streams and floodplains. Their metallic silver and orange fins are eye-catching, and they can live as long as six years.

Enjoy the adventure

Research indicates having an office fish tank reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and anxiety levels, and can even improve your sleep quality. And, thanks to the recent popularity of the hobby, you can easily find aquatic kits of every size at your local pet store. Have fun choosing the right tank and fish to fit your space and personality!

Editors' Recommendations

Debbie Clason
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Debbie Clason's work has appeared in Family Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Lutheran Witness, Massage Magazine…
Are bubbles in a fish tank a problem? They just might be
5 reasons bubbles in a fish tank might be there (and what to do)
Fish tank with healthy bubbles coming out of filter

Where there's water, there are bubbles. It's unavoidable and you'll be chasing an impossible dream if you try to eliminate them from your aquarium entirely. For starters, the filter produces a continuous stream, and that's a good thing! It means the system works. But some bubbles may reveal underlying problems with your water or with your inhabitants. So, why are there bubbles in your fish tank, and how do you know if those little oxygen sacks indicate an issue or a healthy ecosystem? Here's how to tell where they're coming from and figure out what to do about it.
Why are there bubbles on plants?
Like we said, bubbles are often totally normal — no action required. This will especially hold true if you have live plants, which produce oxygen naturally and sometimes hold on to it in the form of bubbles. Of course, those eventually dissipate, at which point the gas inside seeps into the water. That's good! Fish need to breathe just like the rest of us and do so through their gills by pulling oxygen from the water in the tank. These types of bubbles go on the good to neutral list.

Why are there bubbles covering the surface?
So, what happens when there's not enough oxygen for your fish to function happily? When they can't get it from the water, they'll make their way to the surface and breathe the air. Some fish do this frequently, as do aquatic frogs and other non-fish aquarium dwellers, so don't take that act alone as an immediate cause for concern.

Read more
Best reptile pets: These are the 5 most affectionate reptiles you can welcome into your home
These friendly reptiles will make great additions to your family
Basking Chinese water dragon

When you picture an adorable pet, you probably don't visualize an iguana. Reptiles aren't generally considered the cutest of animals, but that doesn't mean you can't find a cuddly one. Whether you're looking for a new buddy for yourself or for your lizard-obsessed kid, there's a reptilian beast out there that will work great in your home. With proper socialization, these guys can learn to be handled daily, some even by children. If you want a new pet that enjoys human company, consider one of these most affectionate slitherers — they're the best reptile pets for handling.
Are reptiles high maintenance?
Not necessarily. One of the things that makes reptiles tricky is how foreign some of their needs are. Parrots, dogs, and humans often have similar requirements for food, exercise, warmth, and water. Since we're all warm-blooded omnivores (for the most part), it feels natural to care for many of the animals we welcome into our homes.

Reptiles are totally different. You'll have to think carefully about heating lamps, cool spots, gut loading, moisture levels, and skin shedding. So you only want to go down this path if you feel ready. That being said, with the right mindset, many lizards, snakes, and turtles make solid beginner pets (a few species don't and we suggest holding off on those until you turn pro).

Read more
Can you make a profit breeding your bearded dragon?
Does breeding your bearded dragon make you money? Read on to find out
Two bearded dragons sit on a rock

The first step in getting a new pet of any species is research. You want to make sure you're adopting or purchasing your pet from a reputable breeder who uses ethical sourcing techniques to acquire their animals. While veterinarians suggest that all pet parents spay and neuter their companions, some animals can be bred without causing distress to you or your pet.

One of the easiest pets to breed is the bearded dragon. With that being said, we recommend having experience under your belt before you embark on your journey as a breeder. Here's what you should know about breeding bearded dragons.
Is my beardie male or female?
When they're babies, it's really difficult to tell the sex of your lizard. Wait until he or she reaches maturity before making that determination, which is actually a good thing for breeding. You don't want to start your female reptile before 18 months for health reasons. In order to look at the little beast, you need to get comfortable enough to feel the underbelly, so give it a few days after bringing your beardie home.

Read more