Last update: November 14, 2022

75+ Popular Fish That Start with D   

We share Planet Earth with literally tens of thousands of different species of fish – including thousands of species that have yet to be discovered or identified!

That’s right, while scientists have been able to catalog more than 20,000 different species of fish in our lakes, rivers, creeks, and oceans they believe that there are at least 33,600 different species living underwater – including many at depths we just haven’t had a whole lot of time to explore.

With all these fish swimming around it stands to reason that there would be hundreds and hundreds of fish that have names that start with the D.

Below we highlight 75 of these fish, shining a light on some of the most interesting, exciting, and popular fish you’ll want to spend a little more time researching on your own and petting in your tank.

Popular Fish That Start with D

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1. Dwarf Driftwood Catfish

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The dwarf driftwood catfish (sometimes called the pygmy driftwood catfish) is a relatively difficult fish to track down, as they can be found in only one spot in the wild – the Nanay River Basin in Peru.

A beautiful fish, while they are quite rare for folks to keep in their own private aquariums they do have lively personalities and tons of character if you’re lucky enough to add one to your underwater world.

These fish are a little tricky to keep in captivity, though. They require very specific water conditions (soft, acidic water with a pH balance somewhere between 6.5 and 7.0) as well as very strict water temperature conditions that closely line up with their “home water”.

Unlike their larger catfish cousins found all over the world these dwarves aren’t going to grow into absolute behemoths. They stay pretty small (hitting about 3 inches in length on average as an adult), but they do consume a whole lot more food than most fish their size.

Carnivores, you’re going to need to make sure that you load up the tank with plenty of food for them to eat. They love live treats (brine shrimp especially) but do well with frozen food as well.

If you do decide to track down dwarf driftwood catfish to keep in your tank you’ll need to be sure that you have at least 20 gallons of water for them to roam around in. 30 gallons would be even better, especially if you keep a group of these fish – which is where they really excel.

It’s generally not a good idea to have just a singular dwarf driftwood catfish in an enclosure, but instead to keep them in small “schools” of between five or six.

2. Dragonet

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Dragonet fish (sometimes called Mandarin fish) are not the kind of fish to be kept by newbies to the aquarium keeping world.

No, these fish can be very difficult to keep for a couple of different reasons – not the least of which is their very strict and very specific dietary requirements.

Beautiful fish with multiple vibrant colors (almost looking like a psychedelic painting), these fish have to be almost trained to eat when in captivity. And sometimes it feels like they resist the training just to starve and die off.

If you are dead set on keeping these kind of fish, it’s a good idea to start with live food first. Only after a couple of months of a 100% live food diet can you then slowly start to mix in frozen shrimp – and only just a little bit at a time.

Over the course of a year or so you might be able to eventually get the mandarins to start accepting the frozen food on a consistent basis. It’s a long, slow, arduous process but these fish are so beautiful it might be worth the extra effort.

3. Dusky Corydoras

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A lot of people that own dusky corydoras for the first time get really anxious and nervous when they see their fish gasping and gulping for air. Don’t be afraid, though!

This kind of behavior is 100% normal for these kinds of fish. They gulp air to breathe and you’ll want to make sure that there’s plenty of room between the surface of your aquarium water and the aquarium hood for them to breach. More than two inches of space is ideal.

That’ll guarantee they don’t bump themselves on your hood (and potentially injure themselves) every time they go to take a breath.

If you can swing it, sandy or small gravel substrate is best for these fish as well. A plant or two will go a long way towards helping them feel more at home. Be sure that you are comfortable feeding them at night, too!

4. Dwarf Loach

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A gorgeous little fish with an almost “retro” kind of aesthetic, the dwarf loach is quickly becoming popular with those in the home aquarium community – especially those that want more unique looking freshwater fish in their underwater environment.

You do have to be a little bit on the careful side of things when adding these fish to your aquarium, though. They do have a semi-aggressive personality.

Indigenous to the waters of Thailand, wild populations of these fish have been on the decline for years. They are now protected which means all of the dwarf loach fish available for sale have been raised in commercial fisheries.

5. Decorated Synodontis

The decorated synodontis, regularly referred to as the decorated catfish, is a beautiful spotted fish that typically calls the Congo River basin their home.

Known to grow to sizes of about 12.6 inches (on average), these catfish are quite a bit larger than the dwarf driftwood catfish we mentioned a moment ago – but still aren’t quite as big as the catfish “monsters” people pull out of the Mississippi River, for example.

Those that keep decorated catfish in an aquarium should make sure that there’s plenty of space for these fish to zip around in. Tanks of at least 30 gallons are recommended, and you’ll want to be sure that you keep water temperatures between 73°F and 81°F on a consistent basis.

A soft, sandy kind of substrate is perfect for these fish. It protects their barbells – a huge part of the catfish sensory system.

Canister filtration is recommended as well, simply because these catfish (like most other kinds) can eat and eat and eat. That means a lot of waste is going to be produced, waste you’ll need to filter out to keep your water healthy.

Don’t forget about mixing in a quality pump that can maintain a decent current as well as one that can keep the water well oxygenated.

6. Dealfish

The overwhelming majority of dealfish (a sub species of ribbon fish) live natively in the North Atlantic Ocean, though there have been some reports of these fish being found in the Mediterranean Sea as well.

Not often seen by human beings because of how deep under the sea they live, these fish look a lot more like an eel than anything else.

With skin that is brilliantly silver in color (almost the color of aluminum foil), they sometimes have black spots and a pink dorsal fin that runs the entire length of their fish body.

These fish grow to almost unbelievable lengths, with the average size hovering in around 8 or 9 feet (and sometimes adults get even larger than that).

Truth be told, not a whole lot is known about these fish just because they can be so difficult to find and research. It’s not at all common to find these fish and aquariums (especially not private, home aquariums) today.

7. Denticle Herring

Frequently found in the rivers of Nigeria and Western Cameroon, the denticle herring is a cousin of other herring fish though they have a pretty distinct feature that separates them from the rest of the pack (so to speak).

We are talking, of course, about a large anal fin and denticle like scales that sit underneath the head of the fish. This gives this herring almost a “fuzzy” kind of look, one totally different from other fish in the herring family.

8. Dragon Goby

A very special, unique kind of fish you might want to add to your aquarium, the dragon goby has an almost prehistoric kind of appearance to it but with some very vibrant, bold colors.

If you do decide to add one of these to your aquarium, though, know that they can sometimes be a little bit of a challenge.

They do have skittish and sometimes antisocial behavior as well as unique water requirements that closely match the kind of waters they are native to in Central and South America.

If you are careful, though, these fish can live to be 10 years old or older. The trick is making sure that the water conditions closely match what they are expecting (at least 50 gallons of water, temperatures of between 72°F and 82°F, and a pH of between 6.5 and 8.5).

9. Dwarf Distichodus

These beautiful green fish are native to the waters of Africa, stay around 3 inches in length even when full grown, and while they have a reputation of being somewhat aggressive with one another they are peaceful when other fish species are dropped in the same tank with them.

These fish do require relatively warm waters to be maintained for them to thrive. We are talking soft water between 70°F and 82°F. Water pH levels should be held consistently between 6.0 and 7.5 as well.

Because these fish are becoming so popular the price has continued to rise year after year. If you’re thinking about adding them to your tank now might be the perfect time to do so!

10. Delta Smelt

A unique species of smelt living only in California Delta waters, this fish is actually on the verge of extinction – though major conservation efforts are being waged right now to give the tiny fish a fighting chance.

Gorgeous, with a luminescent flesh that sort of smells like cucumbers, these fish only grow to be about 3 or 4 inches in length.

They are a huge part of the San Francisco Bay Delta as well as the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, though their numbers have been declining rapidly over the last few decades as freshwater gets diverted away and into aqueducts and canals.

Hopefully this trend can be reversed over the next couple of decades, giving the delta smelt a chance to bounce back and come close to the thousands and thousands of fish that used to live in these waters each year.

65 More Fish that Start with D

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  1. Dovii

2. Dawn Loach

3. Deepwater Flathead

4. Deepwater Hap

5. Dogfish Shark

6. Dorab Wolf-Herring

7. Damselfish

8. Daggertooth Pike Conger

9. Death Valley Pupfish

10. Demoiselle

11. Dusky Shark

12. Dogteeth Tetra

13. Desert Pupfish

14. Darter

15. Devario

16. Dojo Loach

17. Dwarf Gourami

18. Dragonfish

19. Driftfish

20. Dusky Piranha

21. Drum

22. Dory

23. Driftwood Catfish

24. Dusky Pimelodid

25. Duckbill Eel

26. Dottyback

27. Dusky Doradid

28. Dwarf Croaking Gourami

29. Duckbill

30. Dusky Black-Striped Barb

31. Denison’s Flying Fox

32. Dwarf Livebearer

33. Dolphin Catfish

34. Dusky Grouper

35. Dhufish

36. Dawn Tetra

37. Dolly Varden Trout

38. Dwarf Corydoras

39. Dwarf Ornate Bagrid

40. Dorado

41. Dwarf Gourami

42. Disco Fish

43. Dab

44. Dolphin Fish

45. Dickfeld’s Julie

46. Discus

47. Dorsey’s Pimelodid

48. Danio

49. Discus (Blue

50. Dace

51. Deep Sea Smelt

52. Dartfish

53. Dwarf Loach

54. Debauwi Cat

55. Discus (Green

56. Dotted-Line Barb

57. Dragonet

58. Devil Ray

59. Deep Sea Eel

60. Deepwater Cardinalfish

61. Diamond Tetra

62. Dwarf Giraffe Catfish

63. Deepwater Stingray

64. Dogfish

65. Dogtooth Cichlid

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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