130+ Clever Names for Your Pet Fish That Are Fin-tastic

Casting about for some good fish names for your new water-bound bestie? Lucky for you, we've rounded up the best of the best. You can "tank" us later!

Fish aren’t exactly the cuddliest of animals, but they do make for lovable low-maintenance pets. Plus, studies indicate it’s good for us to have them as pets. Watching them do their thing can be both calming and entertaining. Feeding them, interacting with them and keeping their habitat clean can provide structure and purpose (especially for older adults). And pet fish ownership offers a fairly low-stakes foray into the joys and responsibilities of pet ownership in general. That, of course, starts with selecting the perfect name for your finely finned friend. And, yes, fish names matter—and not one drop less than land-dwelling pet names do.

Just as with dog and cat names, as well as bird names, hamster names and bunny names, settling on the perfect fish name is the first step in building a relationship with your new family member, says Maria Baker, DVM, a veterinarian at Pet How. The very best names for pet fish will conjure up a unique identity and personality for your water-dwelling pet, which, in turn, can enhance your mutual emotional attachment.

Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more pet tips, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.

Do fish know their names?

Speaking of emotional attachment, fish are cognitively capable of recognizing and interacting with their owners, according to Kathryn Rosalie Dench, DVM, a veterinary surgeon. When they see you approach, they may swim right up to you. They may even respond to hearing their name, although they may not grasp that it refers to them so much as associate the sound with good stuff to come, like food and social interaction.

And just to be clear, fish can hear—even through water, says Dr. Baker. However, even the smartest can’t necessarily distinguish tone, and certainly not the way dogs can. So while tone matters when calling to your dog, what matters most with your pet fish is simply repeating its name, both consistently and often. Accordingly, good fish names are those that resonate with you and feel “right” for your pet.

In naming your fish, you could start by considering the particular species and its more common characteristics, either in personality or appearance. Or you might go with a cool or funny name because, let’s face it, any fish of yours is bound to be cool and/or funny. Our roundup of the best fish names goes into all that, plus famous fish from your favorite animated movies, perfect names for fish pairs and some that were just too darn cute not to mention.

Cute fish names

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

Humans are conditioned to love cute things, and the fact that you can’t resist these cute animal pictures stands as giddy proof. That’s why cute fish names may be the fastest, easiest and most direct route to bonding with your pet fish. Just be warned that these names might trigger cuteness overload.

  • Bubbles
  • Bubby
  • Baby
  • Guppie
  • Puppy
  • Tadpole
  • Sparky
  • Schmoopie
  • Snookie
  • Kiki
  • Fifi
  • Coco
  • Franny
  • Frankie
  • Jake
  • Johnny
  • Pipsqueak

Funny fish names

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

Funny fish names tend to work well when there’s a funny fish owner in the picture. But they also work well with species that are known for their funny personalities. These include dwarf puffers, crayfish and oscars, to name a few. Also deserving of a funny name? Any species of fish known for their adorably funny faces, including porcupinefish, triggerfish and plecos. In this roundup of funny fish names, you’ll find a generous helping of irony and gill-splitting fish puns. We couldn’t resist!

  • Sushi
  • Sashimi
  • Unagi
  • Gefilte
  • Rumaki
  • Sir Fin USA
  • James Pond
  • Rory Gill-more
  • Lorelei Gill-more
  • Huck Finn
  • Marlin Monroe
  • Skate Middleton
  • Bubble-Fett
  • President John Fin-cy Adams
  • President Woodrow Gill-son

Betta fish names

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

Sassy, wriggly and prone to eating their roommates, betta fish (aka Siamese Fighting Fish) come in a rainbow of colors. And don’t let anyone tell you they can’t be a great starter fish—as long as you do your homework first. To wit, bettas are happiest when they live alone. But they also crave stimulation, which can be achieved by stocking your betta’s habitat with plants and rooms to swim in and out of. In addition, calling them by name and offering some level of interaction daily will also go a long way toward keeping your betta happily occupied. Here are some ideal betta fish names.

  • Lonestar
  • Solo
  • Roy G Biv
  • Aquaman
  • Blaze
  • Ginger
  • Onefish (but never Twofish, because see above)
  • Redfish
  • Bluefish
  • Betta Midler
  • Betta Grable
  • Betta Rubble
  • Betta Ray
  • Mo Betta Blue
  • B.B. King (best for a blue betta)

As you can see, music and movies are great inspiration for everything from fish names to dog names.

Goldfish names

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

There’s a lot that people get wrong about goldfish. For starters, many people believe goldfish are rather dopey. But studies show that goldfish have remarkable problem-solving skills and recall, as well as an ability to recognize and respond to different stimuli, according to Mustafa Tshash, founder of Howto-pets.com. In addition, many believe goldfish are destined for an early demise when, in fact, goldfish can live for several decades. And while they’re at it, they may grow to at least 12 inches long. Accordingly, we think you’ll find these goldfish names to be quite apropos.

  • Old Yeller
  • Stretch
  • Sunny
  • Saffron
  • Gulden (as in the mustard)
  • Yellowtail
  • Sun Tzu (author of The Art of War)
  • Karats
  • Daisy
  • Goldie Prawn (technically, a famous fish name, but most appropriate for a goldfish)
  • Pepperidge (the manufacturer of Goldfish crackers)
  • Chardonnay
  • Prosecco
  • Woodstock
  • Yolkie

If you were surprised to learn those goldfish facts above, see if you know these other animal trivia questions about fish and so much more.

Famous fish names

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

Since few actual fish have ever become famous, our famous fish names consist mostly of famous fictional characters from film, television and books. That includes, of course, a selection of the best fish names inspired by Disney characters. But we’ve also included a few names that just seem to work as fish names, albeit sometimes with a bit of creative spelling applied.

  • Wanda (A Fish Called Wanda)
  • Kilgore Trout (Slaughterhouse-Five and other Kurt Vonnegut books)
  • Bruce (the mechanical shark used for filming Jaws)
  • Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
  • Nemo (Finding Nemo)
  • Dory (Finding Nemo)
  • Marlin (Finding Nemo)
  • Oscar (Shark Tale)
  • Flipper
  • Carrie Fish-er
  • Lance Bass
  • Joe Pesce
  • Catfish Hunter
  • “Salmon” Rushdie
  • “Marlin” Brando

Cool fish names

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

Animals with unusual superpowers may well be the pinnacle of cool. But most don’t make for great pets, with the exception being cuttlefish, which can change color at will and live comfortably in an indoor aquarium. On the other hand, aren’t all pet fish pretty cool—what with their mysterious grace and their uncanny ability to breathe underwater? In other words, the “cool” is implicit, so you don’t have to go out of your way to select a cool name for your new underwater bestie. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

  • Poseidon
  • Neptune
  • Ikaroa
  • Bubba
  • Big Gulp
  • Plato
  • Skipjack
  • Gemini
  • Phish
  • Rebel
  • Bruiser
  • Chompers
  • Loki
  • Lasso
  • Flounder

Names for fish pairs

Fish name handwritten on an image of a fishRD.com, Getty Images

Many pet fish can live harmoniously in pairs. In fact, many crave fish companionship, and if you do decide to bring home a pair of pet fish, you may get to witness them communicating, cooperating and otherwise interacting. But first, you’ll want to give them one of these fish names designed specifically for pairs. Yes, this may be more for your own amusement, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

  • Rick and Morty
  • Shrek and Donkey
  • Wayne and Garth
  • Thelma and Louise
  • Mom and Pop
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono
  • Carrie and Big
  • Jerry and Elaine
  • Will and Grace
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • Snoopy and Woodstock
  • Mutt and Jeff
  • Abbott and Costello
  • Frank and Beans
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Butch and Sundance
  • Felix and Oscar
  • Hootie and the Blowfish
  • The Prince and Princess of W(h)ales

Some of these would also make excellent cat names, so bookmark this page for future reference.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.