The mammoth freshwater predatory fish guide with speciesIt might be hard for you to believe, but freshwater predatory fish are very popular when it comes to keeping fish as pets. Yes, these fish are challenging to care for, but in this article, we will provide you with expert advice on the fish species that make it to the list of aggressive freshwater fish and those you can keep in an aquarium in your home.

List of Fresh Water Predatory Fish

Freshwater Predatory Fish Species What They’re Known For
Bucktooth Tetra Aggressive temperament, Fin-nipper, unsuitable for community tanks.
After Knife Aggressive and territorial, should be housed alone as adults.
Dwarf Pea Puffer Territorial, should only be housed with larger or fast-moving fish.
Wolf Cichlid Requires advanced-level care, highly aggressive in nature, grow very quickly.
Hoplias Aimara Rare and expensive, should always be housed alone.
Red Devil Cichlid Semi-aggressive, can be accommodated in large community tanks with hiding spaces.
Silver Arowana Requires advanced-level care, can gobble smaller fishes.
Texas Cichlid Sports iridescent spots, fast swimmers, aggressive as adults.
Flowerhorn Cichlid Semi-aggressive, playful, respond to human interaction.
Tiger Barb Fin-nipper, bullies smaller fish, suitable for Tiger Barb tanks only
Jaguar Cichlid Fast swimmers, aggressive temperament, require protein-rich diet.
Betta Fish Aggressive, males will fight each other over territory.
Bichir Suitable with mid and upper-level fish, tail-nippers.
Oscar Fish Semi-aggressive, attacks smaller and more passive fish.

List of the Best Freshwater Predator Fish

Many fish enthusiasts find the fascinating behaviors and the appearances of predatory freshwater fish irresistible. And once you get the hang of caring for these fish, you will discover that aggressive fish are quite a joy to watch and keep.

Here’s a list of 14 such amazing and predatory freshwater fish.

– Bucktooth Tetra

Bucktooth tetraThe Bucktooth Tetra comes from the shy Tetra family, yet these fish are anything but bashful. The Bucktooth Tetra is similar in appearance to its Tetra cousins and will add a lot of shine and glimmer to your fish tank due to its silvery-gray color. Part of their body is even semi-transparent, making their hues even more striking.

However, you can’t keep the Bucktooth Tetra with other fish, not even other Tetras. They are highly popular for ripping off fish scales and fins of other fish. The worst bit is that they don’t stop there, as they will happily gobble down their prey.

Hence, aquarists are recommended to keep Bucktooth away from community tanks in groups of twelve or more. And with the provision of ample space to burn off their excessive aggression.

The Bucktooth Tetra has a lifespan of ten years and grows up to five inches. However, do not be fooled by their size, as these fish make it to the top five on the list of small predatory fish.

– Afer Knife

Another fish that makes its mark as a killing machine is the Afer Knife. These fish come from western and central Africa, where they live in densely planted rivers. Hence, it’s evident that the Afer Knife doesn’t like well-lit aquariums with no places to hide.

To keep the Afer Knife happy, you must provide similar living conditions in captivity to their natural habitat, with plenty of plant life and driftwood. And, it’s best to avoid keeping smaller fish species with the Afer Knife, even their kind, as these fish have nasty temperaments.

They are predatory and live for the hunt. Hence, feeding time becomes a superbly stimulating watch for fish keepers as these fish love availability to live fish.

Anything from Lance fish and smaller Characins to brine shrimp is acceptable for the Afer Knife. But beware, if you have a weak stomach, stay away as these brutal fish don’t shrink from creating gory scenes.

This fish grows up to 20 to 30 inches and has a slender, elongated body, they belong to the small group of teleost fish to be electroreceptive. Hence, they are sensitive to electric charge, but they don’t possess an electric organ. They use this unique ability to locate objects in their proximity, detect prey and avoid predators.

– Dwarf Pea Puffer

The Dwarf Pea Puffer, also known as the Malabar Pufferfish, is a tiny fish reaching only up to 1.5 inches, with a round body and large eyes.

Dwarf pea pufferThey can change color and use their eyes independently of one another. And, yes, it has a pygmy look that gets awws from even the most hardened hearts. The Dwarf Pea Puffer isn’t cute by nature. The Dwarf Pea Puffer is an extraordinarily territorial and aggressive fish. They can be kept with other fish species but only with larger fish or fast-moving ones.

Slow-moving fish such as Guppies will surely have their fins nipped. And, if you plan to keep more than one Pea Puffer, it’s best to go with one male and several females as that makes them less aggressive and encourages breeding.

Not to mention, the Dwarf Puffer Fish isn’t afraid to discover every part of the aquarium. It is well known for its fast helicopter-like mobility and ability to puff up like a miniature balloon occasionally.

Nonetheless, you will need to ensure that these curious creatures have lots of hiding spots. A dense cover from plant life, driftwood, and other decorations will allow the Pea Puffer to investigate every nook and cranny of the fish tank. Additionally, when it comes to their diet, these carnivores love to hog on shrimp and small-sized snails.

– Wolf Cichlid

The Wolf Cichlid, as the name suggests, is a thorough predator with its large mouth, strong jaws, and very sharp teeth. It is a carnivorous freshwater fish that can eat anything from fish, insects, and crustaceans to other small invertebrates. No, it isn’t what you would call a conventional beauty with its exceptionally intimidating looks and beefy body.

Some fish owners vouch that their Wolf Cichlids respond to their presence and follow their movements with a watchful eye. However, the Wolf Cichlids are very famous pets due to their perceived intelligence. They keenly watch their keepers and sense what’s going on around them, even outside the fish tank.

Another element that many fish lovers find intriguing is how fast these fish grow. The Wolf Cichlid can grow an inch per month until they reach its full size of 12-28 inches. Considering that these fish can devour anything smaller than them, keeping them with only equally sizeable freshwater fish is advised.

– Hoplias Aimara

The Hoplias Aimara, aka Aimara Wolf Fish, is what you would call a stand-out species of fish as it isn’t found in the average aquarium. It isn’t a fish species that can be handled by a novice fish keeper either, as it has special needs.

Hoplias aimaraYou see, you can’t keep an Aimara Wolf Fish in an open, small tank. Nope, these fish love to jump around mid-air, and they swim in high flow water, so you must replicate that in captivity to allow the Hoplias Aimara to thrive in a fish tank. Hence, you will need a large-sized tank as it can grow up to 47 inches long and have a firmly-held tank cover.

Speaking of uniqueness, the Hoplias Aimara aren’t peaceful or delicate fish. These fish are aggressive enough to attack just about everything from the fish equipment to their kind, but they will often attempt to bite the hand that feeds them.

As the name might give you some indication, the Aimara Wolf Fish is a ferocious predator. It’s a super-fast swimmer and an excellent jumper with a powerful jaw and razor-sharp teeth. Hence, there’s little hope for smaller fish to live in any modicum of harmony with these beastly creatures. Nonetheless, the Aimara Wolf Fish is a sight to behold, not for its looks but for its ability to hunt and ravage its prey.

– Red Devil Cichlids

These fish may not be the most friendly tank mates as they enjoy wreaking havoc with the tank equipment, plant life, and decorations. However, many aquarists enjoy caring for the Red Devil Cichlids as they are known to be highly interactive and possess distinctive personalities.

Red devil cichlidsThese fish can create strong bonds with their keepers where they will respond to your presence and even seem to beg for food from you. Nevertheless, it would be best if you didn’t think that their affability extends to other fish species.

The Red Devil Cichlids are often mistaken for carnivorous aquarium fish as they are so aggressive with other fish and frequently eat them. In truth, the Red Devil Cichlids are omnivores. They’ll eat everything you give them, from dry fish food pellets to live food.

Yet, the Redd Devil is famous also because they are quite the lookers. Growing up to 15 inches with striking colors ranging from red and yellow to white, muscular nuchal humps on the head, burly body, and pointed fins, these fish are nothing if not eye-catching.

– Silver Arowana

Native to the Amazon, Essequibo, and Oyapock basins, the Silver Arowana is considered one of the most sought-after freshwater fish.

Silver arowanaThese remarkable creatures grow up to three feet long even in captivity and have a lifespan of 10-15 years. It’s not just a challenge acquiring a Silver Arowana but keeping one is a very serious commitment.

When you consider their size, you must realize that these fish can’t live in cramped spaces. For a Silver Arowana, you are advised to keep a tank of at least 250 gallons in volume. Needless to say, it’s not a fish every fish fan can easily keep.

Moreover, Silver Arowanas are stunning animals with large, iridescent scales, a vertical mouth like a drawbridge, and the dorsal and anal fins that stretch down to the tailfin. And it looks pretty flat from the side, but when you look at it from the front, you will realize that it has a sizable girth.

But that’s not why it makes our list since the Silver Arowana is primarily a carnivore. It can eat some plant-based foods, but the Silver Arowana is also reputed to eat rabbits and snakes in the wild. You can keep the Silver Arowana with other fish, such as the Silver Dollar Fish or the Parrotfish, but you will still need to keep a wary eye on your Arowana to ensure that it behaves itself.

The Silver Arowana is also known to have personality quirks, so it might allow a fish to stay in the tank one day and decide to eat it the next day.

– Texas Cichlid

Texas cichlidHailing from the Rio Grande, the Texas Cichlid is the apollos of the fish community. These fish have a background color of gray or brown, but they have iridescent blue spots on the body. So, in the right setting and lighting, these fish look spectacular.

The Texas Cichlids are adept swimmers and like to have lots of open space to move about. Hence, it would help if you kept the plant life and decorations to the minimum in a tank where you keep the Texas Cichlid. Also, the Texas Cichlids like to dig and uproot stuff, so it’s wise to have sand as the substrate in a tank with the Texas Cichlid and firmly-rooted plants.

Although the Texas Cichlid is calm and amiable at its young age. Their personalities take a violent turn in adulthood, where they turn into hermits leading lives of solitude, any fish daring enough to come close might get its features rearranged. However, if you are a hopeless optimist and plan to keep the Texas Cichlid as a part of a community, you ought to get a large-sized tank.

– Flowerhorn Cichlids

The Flowerhorn Cichlid comes from Southeast Asia. And, since it belongs to the Cichlid family, you might have guessed that it has a feisty temperament. The female Flowerhorn Cichlids are aggressive and territorial. However, the male Flowerhorn Cichlids are a nasty piece of work. The male Flowerhorns will chase, irritate, and kill all those who venture close to the borders it has set as its territory.

Flowerhorn cichlidsYes, they are carnivorous freshwater fish with healthy appetites, which means you will have to feed them at least twice or thrice a day, or you will soon find a huge dent in the fish population in your aquarium. It’s unwise to place different fish species in an aquarium with the Flowerhorn male. It’s ridiculous to put in another male Flowerhorn because you have unwittingly spelled war for your fish.

However, if you want to have a good-looking fish in the tank that is fun to watch and one that responds to human interaction, then the Flowerhorn is your best bet.

– Tiger Barb

The Tiger Barb doesn’t belong to the Cichlid family, but you might mistake it for one because it loves to pick fights. It’s a small-sized fish reaching up to only 3 inches in full maturity, but it has a huge personality.

Tiger barbComing from Borneo and Malaysia, including Sarawak and Kalimantan, the Tiger Barb can live up to five to seven years in captivity. And they do create a picturesque view for their owners with their yellow-orange base color and darker vertical stripes giving the appearance of a tiger.

But these small predatory aquarium fish like nothing better than to nip at fins and bully other fish. Nonetheless, if you keep the Tiger Barb as a bunch as it is a shoaling fish, you will manage to subdue its aggressive attitude.

You need to house at least six Tiger Barbs in a tank to activate their socializing behaviors and neutralize their viciousness. And, because these creatures are pretty sturdy, they make perfect pets for first-time fish keepers with a penchant for predatory fish.

– Jaguar Cichlid

The Jaguar Cichlids come from the Cichlid family, so they are gorgeous but have unpalatable personalities.

Jaguar cichlidThese impressive-looking fish start as juveniles when they are merely silver with a hint of pale gold. Nonetheless, as they grow older, thick stripes of black appear, and once they reach maturity, the lines turn into the spots that give these fish their name, ‘Jaguar’ Cichlids.

However, you could say that it’s a fitting name as the Jaguar Cichlid are as wild as their namesake. Their muscular bodies are designed for fast swimming, their jutting and strong jaw are meant to capture prey, and their spiny fins are crafted to mutilate.

Put these together with a hunger for live food and territorial instincts, and you have an epic predatory freshwater fish.

– Betta Fish

If you want your aquarium to be a star-studded show, you can fill it up with a sorority of female Betta fish. These are small-sized fish that grow to a length of 2.5 inches max. And they come in a variety of colors, patterns, and tail shapes. Not to mention they have fancy flowy fins that create a very pretty picture indeed.

Betta fishThe problem with the Betta is that they have contrary personalities. You see, females might live peacefully together, or they might not. Hence, you might have seen a fish tank with many female Bettas together, but you might not succeed when you try that for yourself. And, if your collection of female Bettas decides to be averse to each other, you will have a tragedy on your hands rather than a happy ending.

Betta fish are very territorial and highly aggressive, that’s saying nothing when it comes to a male Betta. Some fish keepers vouch that their male Bettas were ready to charge at a picture of another male outside the fish tank. You might not know this, but Betta fish are also called ‘Fighting Fish.’

As captivating as a Betta fish might be, it’s safe to say that the Betta isn’t a fish for the first-time fish owner. These feisty beauties need proper care and attention to thrive. In addition, if you, by chance, ever take your focus away from these aquatic babies, male or female, you might find your fish collection much smaller than before.

– Bichir

The Bichir adds a sense of quirk to any fish tank. You can’t say that the Bichir is an aggressive freshwater fish because it isn’t. These weird-looking creatures are a cross between an eel and a fish, and you can’t claim that they have vibrant colors, patterns, or personalities.

BichirIn most circumstances, you will find a Bichir at the bottom of the aquarium, chilling on the substrate. Hence, you are advised to put sand in a tank with Bichir as gravel can cause injuries to their delicate lower bellies.

Bichirs are natural carnivores, so you will find them exhibit aggressive traits when hungry or going for the kill. Nonetheless, the Bichir isn’t an obnoxious soul that thrives on fights and lives to kill.

On the contrary, Bichir has very weak eyesight, so they rely on their senses to find food. Additionally, many times, they unintentionally end up killing their smaller tank mates mistaking it for food.

– Oscar Fish

Also known as the Velvet Cichlid, the Oscar fish is one of the most identifiable and popular Cichlids as domestic pets. Oscar’s are mostly black, but you will see their body accentuated with a range of colors going from orange, red to gray.

Oscar fishOscar fish is a relatively common freshwater fish as these are resilient underwater animals that do okay with little care and adapt well in most situations. Moreover, they aren’t discernible eaters, so looking after them isn’t a challenging chore.

However, the Oscar fish frequently go off its tangent and turn psycho on its tank mates from time to time. You could call the Oscar fish the playground bully as they seem to relish picking fights with vulnerable fish. Sometimes, they go as far as to eat them too.

Therefore, the easiest way to turn Oscar fish into putty is to place tank mates in the aquarium who can hold their own in a fight.


Mammoth freshwater predatory fishYou now possess knowledge about some of the most predatory freshwater fish. And with the help of the article, you will hopefully be able to become a fish aficionado with an astounding collection of phenomenal fish. But, before you go your way, let’s recap the finer points:

●     Fish enthusiasts around the globe love to watch and care for predatory freshwater fish for their vivacious personalities and exceptional looks.

●     In most cases, you can curb the aggression of predatory fish by housing them in larger aquariums and providing plenty of places to hide through plant life or decorations.

●     Keeping shoaling fish in bunches also curbs their predatory instincts at bay.

●     Yet, some carnivorous freshwater fish are better off being on their own.

●     But if you happen to be a novice at keeping predatory fish, it’s best to stick to the advice of experts and keep freshwater fish that are relatively less aggressive.

Now are equipped with the knowledge you need to determine if you can keep and look after a bunch of belligerent freshwater fish. And hopefully, this article will lead you to choose fish that won’t bite your hand off and bring you hours of entertainment through their highly spirited antics.

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