Best Fish for 3 Gallon Tank (Stocking Ideas)

Endler’s Livebearer

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner fish keeper, or an experienced fish keeper, everyone agrees that it can be quite fascinating to watch cute, little fishes swim in a fish tank. These tiny fishes are kept in tanks known as nano aquarium. The sizes of nano aquariums range from about 2.5 to 10 gallons.

In this article, we would be discussing the best fishes to keep in a 3-gallon tank.

A 3-gallon tank contains about 12 liters of water. Although too small for some fishes, a few other fishes like the ones we would be looking at in this article can effectively thrive in a 3-gallon tank. We would be discussing the ways to maintain this tank first.

How to effectively maintain a 3-gallon tank

In reality, a 3-gallon tank might be harder to maintain compared to larger tanks and this is for a number of reasons.

First, a 3-gallon tank is quite small,  this makes it susceptible to sudden changes in water quality or temperature. Thus, you would have to monitor your tank so that you can easily detect any changes in your tank.

Secondly, you might underestimate the quantity of bioload that may be produced by these fishes. Well, they are tiny so they shouldn’t produce any significant bioload, right?

This is not true at all, even if the bioload produced is insignificant, it could accumulate to dangerous levels that might prove to be harmful to your fishes.

So you would be required to regularly filter (a sponge filter would do) to reduce the chances that these bioloads would be degraded and eventually stress your fish.

Thirdly, To adequately maintain your 3-gallon tank, you would be required to do at least 25% water change every week so that the quality of the water in your tank is maintained.

Lastly,  you have to include floating plants or other plants in your tank,  so that your fishes would be able to explore.

You have to be very careful while maintaining your 3-gallon tank as there is a very thin line between your fish surviving and your fish thriving.

Best Fish for 3 Gallon Tank

1. Betta Fish

Scientific name: Betta splendens

It is highly unlikely that you would not come across a betta fish while you are in a pet shop. Remarkably popular for their colorful bodies and long flowing fins, the betta fish is arguably one of the most attractive aquarium fishes.

Although they can coexist with a few other fish species, only one betta fish should be kept in a tank, because the betta fish is not a sociable animal, at all.

Betta Fish

Your 3-gallon tank would only permit you to keep one beta fish to provide them with a fair enough swimming space since betta fishes grow up to 2 inches in length and you would not want an overcrowded tank that would stress your betta.  It is relatively easy to keep a betta fish.

Another probable reason why your betta would thrive in a 3-gallon tank is that the betas belong to a suborder of animals called Anabantodei, or labyrinth fishes; this typically means that they possess a structure called labyrinth (in addition to their gills).

The labyrinth is a breathing organ that enables them to breathe in air through their mouths, this makes them adaptable in an oxygen-poor environment.

Ensure that there is an effective filter and temperature is set to 74-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Although a five-gallon tank might provide a more effective swimming space for your betta.

2. Least killifish

Scientific name: Heterandria Formosa.

The killifish refers to a group of fishes that reproduce by laying eggs; although the least killifish is not a true killifish as it belongs to another family of fishes called Poeciliidae, together with mollies and guppies.

Least killifish

They are tiny, olive-colored fishes that grow to about 1.5 inches in length. Caring for them is quite easy though it can be quite difficult to get one at regular pet shops.

The optimum temperature they require is from 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, with a ph of 7 to 8. They can be very shy you would be required to include a few plants that they can hide under.

3. Endler’s Livebearer

Scientific name: Poecilia wingei

Although very tiny, the Endler’s livebearer is an exceptionally beautiful species. Like other true killifishes, the endless livebearer is a constantly reproducing species that give birth to their young ones instead of laying eggs.

Endler’s Livebearer

You might end up with hundreds or even thousands of endless livebearers if you keep species of the opposite species together. To avoid breeding in your tank, it is advised that you keep 2 or 3 endless livebearers of the same sex in your tank.

The males are usually smaller in size than the females with an average length of 1 inch while the females can grow up to 1.5 inches. They are very energetic fishes They thrive under a ph of 7-7.5.

4. Asian stone catfish

Scientific name: Hara jerdoni

This species of fish is native to Asia, particularly India and Bangladesh. Their average length is about 1 inch.

This species is probably not the best choice if you are looking for a vibrantly colored fish as their dull colors allow them to blend in perfectly with the environment in your fish tanks, but they make up for this with their prominent whiskers.

Due to their passive nature and the fact that they are nocturnal animals; most times, they might not be seen, except you are very vigilant and observant.

Although it is not necessary to keep them together in groups, it won’t hurt to keep about 3 of them in your 3-gallon tank. They thrive well under a temperature of 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a ph of 5.6-7.5.

5. Pygmy Gourami

Scientific name: Trichopsis pumila

The Pygymi Gourami is one of the smallest species in the Gourami family with an average length of 1.5 inches. Their bodies are brightly and attractively colored.

Pygmy Gourami

Like the betta, the gouramis are also labyrinth fishes. they have a docile temperament and relatively easy to care for. Although you have to make sure that they are kept in a place free of noise as they are easily agitated by noise, they also lose their vibrant colors if kept in a place with too much light, so avoid doing this.

They thrive in temperatures between 77 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit, and a ph of 6 to 7.5. It would also be better to ensure that the tank is heavily planted.

6. Pea Puffer Fish

Scientific name: Carinotetraodon travancorius

This particular species is not fit for a community tank at all. Despite their small size of 1 inch, they can be territorial and aggressive towards and might also be difficult to keep with other fishes.

Pea puffer fish

To ensure that they thrive in your tank, it would be helpful to include a few floating plants so that this adventurous species of fish would be able to explore the tank.

There have been reported cases of pea puffers jumping out of their tanks, so you have to be mindful if they would be kept in an open top tank. It is ideal to make sure that the temperature in the tanks is between 77 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the ph should be about 7 to 7.8

6. Bumblebee Goby

Scientific name: Brachygobius doriae

They are vibrantly colored with black and yellow stripes. In addition to being freshwater fishes, all the fishes that belong to this species, thrives as well, if not even better, in brackish waters.

They are very energetic and active. Although they are peaceful, they can be very aggressive towards each other. So it is advisable to keep only one bumblebee goby in your 3-gallon tank.

It is not easy to care for them. They need They feed voraciously and might be underfed if kept with other fishes. Optimum ph for them to thrive is about 7.4 to 8.2, and temperature of about 74 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Scarlet Gem

Scientific name: Dario dario

The scarlet fish is about 1.5 inches in size and the colors are usually in striking shades of red and gold. Though it has a peaceful temperament, It is advisable to keep only one scarlet gem in your 3-gallon tank as they can be aggressive towards other fishes in the same species.

Their timidity and extreme shyness make them an unsuitable choice for a community tank; your 3-gallon tank would be adequate for them, you are only required to make sure that they feed adequately.

They tend to thrive better in heavily planted tanks that affords them enough room to hide.  Ensure that the temperature in their tank is between 74 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the ph is between 6.5 to 7.5

Although a nano aquarium can be very attractive, it is important to note that to ensure that your fishes thrive and not just survive, you have to put in that effort, so it is important to have at least a background experience in fish keeping so that you would be able to successfully create the optimum, stress-free environment for your cute, little fishes to thrive under!  

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience in my hobby. You will find some really useful tips and information that I have learned along the way.

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