Skip to Content

10 Best Fish for 5 Gallon Tank

10 Best Fish for 5 Gallon Tank

In this article, we will tell you about the best fish species to keep in a 5-gallon tank and a few suggestions for the best type of tank.

In the fishkeeping world, the 5-gallon aquariums are the second smallest size of tank (with the smallest being the 2.5-gallon aquariums). If you are a big fan of fish and you really love to have a tank in your house, we would suggest you opt for a 5-gallon tank.

A 5-gallon tank is small, so you need to carefully choose the type of fish that you want to keep in it. You need to be aware of how big they might grow later, and you need to consider how often you will need to change the water.

Check this 5 Gallon Fish Tank on Amazon, its one of my Favorite! 

It can hold a good amount of water and the fish will be able to swim around comfortably. It won’t take up too much space, costs less than a large fish tank, and the maintenance is also easier.

So once you’ve bought your tank, what’s next? Will you just leave it in your yard empty? Or you will stock it with just any type of fish?

Best Fish for 5-Gallon Tanks

1. Betta Fish

Betta fish (Betta splendens) are also known as the Siamese fighting fish and they are quite popular. The betta fish is a member of the Gourami family and is known to be territorial. Bettas are omnivores, so you can feed them with crickets, flies and grasshoppers.

Betta Fish

They have an organ called a labyrinth organ which allows them to survive outside of water for short periods. An interesting fact about the betta fish is that they are intelligent; they can learn to identify their owners and perform a few tricks.

2. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

The white cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) is a cold water fish species that lives in freshwater and they are often kept in aquariums. The species belongs to the class Actinopterygii.

White cloud mountain minnow

The white cloud fish is a nice looking fish that aquarists love to have in their collections. It can grow up to 4cm and can live for 5-8 years if taken proper care of.

3. Dwarf Puffer

This is one of the most interesting types of fish! If you are looking for a fish that can live for a long period of time, this fish is perfect. All you need to do is to feed them properly and keep them in a good environment.

Dwarf puffer

Many people believe that the dwarf puffers are poisonous, but this is just a myth. The male puffer fish is known to make some interesting moves to attract the females!

4. Cherry Red Shrimp

The cherry shrimp (Neocardina heteropoda) is a dwarf freshwater shrimp from Taiwan. They come in different colors in the wild, but the red colored shrimps are popular in the aquarium market. The cherry shrimp can survive in any freshwater setting and they are well known for their peaceful and non-aggressive behavior.

Cherry Red Shrimp

The females can grow up to 1.5″ long, while the males are a little bit shorter. They can live for up to two years. You can keep 10-14 shrimps in a 5-gallon tank. The ideal tank mates for the cherry shrimp include freshwater snails, small plecos, dwarf gouramis and the small tetras.

5. Various Micro Rasboras

The micro rasboras (Rasbora heteromorpha) are a member of the Cyprinidae family. The rasbora is slender with a protruding lower jaw. They are very popular with fish hobbyists.

Micro Rasboras

They are usually reddish with a yellow tummy and they grow up to 1.5″-2″ in length. They love to swim in groups and they are a good choice for beginners. They are peaceful to other species of fish; they are not aggressive or territorial and therefore make good tank mates.

6. Least Killifish

The least killifish (Heterandria Formosa) is a species belonging to the Poecillidae family (which also includes guppies and mollies). This is the smallest fish found in North America. In contrast to the name, it is actually a livebearer and not a killifish.

Least killifish

They can live for 3 years if properly maintained, they are gentle and peaceful. The male least killifish is usually smaller than the female. Because of their small size, they are perfect for your small sized 5-gallon tank.

When it comes to feeding them, they are omnivorous eaters. You can crush flakes and bigger food particles for them to make the food easier to consume.

7. Dwarf Crayfish

Dwarf crayfish are mainly found in Mexico. They are crustaceans and they look very much like the lobsters. They love to hide and blend into their environment, so your aquarium needs to be shady. They are quite peaceful and they do not attack or disturb other tank mates.

Dwarf crayfish

If you are still searching for something to lighten up your small aquarium, the dwarf crayfish is the way to go. They are omnivores and will feed on almost any fish food. They grow to around 1.5″ in length. You need to maintain the water temperature so that they don’t molt.

8. Crystal Red Shrimp

Looking for something beautiful to add to your collections? We would recommend you go for the crystal red shrimp. The crystal red shrimp belongs to the family Atyidae. They are characterized with having a red spot over a white base.

Crystal Red Shrimp

In their lifetime, they will grow up to 1″-1.5″. They are active creatures and are always looking for food. They form clusters when eating and this is a recognized eating behavior.

They shed their shell regularly as they grow. The females are more beautiful than the males because they are more colorful.

9. Endler’s Livebearer

The endler’s livebearers are also known as the Poecilia wingei, belonging to the Poecilia family. The males of the species are fluorescent in color, while the females are plain silver or grey.

Endler’s Livebearer

The endler’s livebearers grow up to 1.5″ in length. Because of their small size, they should be fed with food that will fit in their small mouths. They can be kept with a peaceful tank mate but the endler’s livebearers will do a lot better on their own.

10. Rosy Loach

The rosy loach, also called Botia (Petruichthys) is a very small fish that belongs to the Botia family. It grows to a length of 1″-1.2″. This fish is beautiful and also extremely active. It also adapts well to its habitat.

The aquarium should include plants, rockwork, and driftwood. The rosy loach must be kept in schools of 8-10, to reduce aggressive behavior. They are very active and they love  to swim almost constantly. They will be a great addition to your 5-gallon tank.

How do you keep these fish in a 5-gallon tank?

Having read about the types of fish species that you can keep in a 5-gallon tank, let’s have a look at how to keep them, and how to combine them.

There are many things to consider before stocking your aquarium. You need to consider the size of your fish as they grow to adulthood. You also need to consider their temperament; you should not combine a peaceful fish with a very aggressive fish. You might wish to make your tank as beautiful and colorful as possible – however, you need to be careful of which fish you mix together.

A general rule of thumb with stocking is to have 1 gallon of water for each inch of fish. You just need to do the math. Many of the species we have listed above can be combined because their bioload is relatively small.

Do your research and decide the fish you want to keep. Overstocking is not advised. It is always recommended to keep fish that will help you to keep costs down and minimize the effort involved.

More: How Many Tetras in a 5-Gallon Tank

Which 5-gallon tank should I go for?

Let’s have a quick look at some of the 5-gallon fish tanks available! There are many 5-gallon fish tanks out there, but don’t just randomly select one. You need to find one that is strong and not too expensive. Here are our recommendations:

MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait

Check Price on Amazon

The MarineLand 5-Gallon Portrait is a great tank for any home. The tank is inbuilt with some hidden filtration and an LED lighting system which helps the tank to switch between natural daylight and moonlight settings.

The tank has a base and a glass canopy that slides to the back of the aquarium to allow for easy feeding and maintenance. The MarineLand 5-Gallon tank is well designed and easy to assemble. The total product dimensions are 11.8″ x 11.6″ x 17.1″ and it weighs 7.36 pounds. With a 4.2 rating on Amazon, you cannot go wrong with this tank.

Panaview 5 Gallon Fish tank

Check Price on Amazon

The Panaview 5-Gallon Fish tank comes with 7 color choices. It is equipped with an internal power filter that you can use to enhance your viewing display.

The Panaview Fish tank is a modern, well-designed aquarium, with a hood that has a unique feeding interface to allow for easy feeding. If you want your guests to be amazed when they see your tank, we would recommend you go for this tank.

What is the RARS? And how does it work?

The RARS is a series of culture tanks equipped with filters and it operates on the model of recycling the same water. It is properly monitored to keep it running throughout the whole year. Fish need a suitable environment because it directly affects their health. Therefore, to prevent a decline in the water quality, the water is treated using several methods.

The water is first treated mechanically by removing any particles, and then treated biologically by converting chemicals that could be harmful. Other treatments like ultraviolent sterilization and oxygen level maximization are also used to manage the tank water quality.

The RARS needs frequent water changes and takes up a lot of space, which might not suit all fish-keepers.

Related Questions?

Can a Betta fish be kept in a vase?

There is a common misconception that bettas do not require much space. This is very wrong. Although, the betta is not really a big fish, the minimum tank size is a 5-gallon tank.

The tanks that we have recommended above are perfectly okay for bettas. If the space is too small, the water will accumulate ammonia and become toxic to the fish.

Can I put some plants in, after I’ve stocked my aquarium?

Yes, you can add plants to your aquarium. However, it is advisable to add plants to the aquarium before stocking it with fish, because it is very much easier and it gives the plants time to establish some roots.

There are two choices; you can either plant directly into the aquarium before stocking or you can use plants that are already connected to something. The choice is yours to make.


Having gone through this article, we hope you have been able to get some new insights about the fish that you can keep in your 5-gallon tank, and how to combine them. Just keep in mind that you need to change your water frequently and be vigilant.

Have you tried out any of our suggestions, and want to share your experience with us?

Let us know what you think, leave your comment in the section below!

Thank you and happy fish keeping.


Thursday 23rd of April 2020

i have a male beta fish whos been alone for 2 years in a 2 and a half gallon. ive never put him in with other fish so i dont know if hes agressive. i was wondering if you think i should get a 5 gallon and put some small fish with him. or if it would be a bad idea.

Saurabh Kumar

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

Hey Autumn, sure you can give it a try, check this article for more information.

Comments are closed.