The Fish Keeping & Aquarium Guide.

What Fish Can Live in A 5 Gallon Tank?

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Do you have a tank that can accommodate at least 5 gallons of water? Want to know what’s the best fish to have in it? You are on the right page!
A 5 gallon tank might be the smallest tank you can find in the market today. It is portable, easy to move around, and easy to maintain or clean.
Because it is small, it is easy to find a place for it. You can bring it to your office or bedroom. You can give it as a gift to your nieces or nephews.
A beautifully designed and well-maintained 5 gallon tank can be very refreshing to have. Don’t think that the size limits your choice of fish to have. Even if it is small, it can still choose different breeds of fish to keep.
If you are a beginner in keeping fishes, this size is excellent. Learn the basics of maintaining and owning a fish and your 5-gallon tank will make your day livelier and more colorful every day.

What to Consider When Stocking a 5 Gallon Tank

1) Size and Behaviour of the Fish

The general rule is that for a fish that is an inch long, it should have a gallon of water to swim freely. It means for a 5 gallon tank; you can have up to five small fishes. If bigger than one inch, keep at least 2-4 fishes only.
Besides, you have to consider how fast a fish grows, its behavior with other fishes and of different gender, and the things that you will add in your aquarium such as decorations, shells, and stones.
Small fishes don’t require a large amount of water, unlike big fishes. That means for a 5 gallon tank; it can only 1-2 big fishes and up to 5 small ones.
Also, if you keep an active and aggressive breed of fishes, you will need a larger space. Keeping them in a small tank will stress them out that can lead to death.

2) Tank Shape

Should you go for a vertical or horizontal tank? The general rule says it is best to get a tank with length. Don’t sacrifice the length with height. Fishes often swim in the middle of the water; hence if they have a longer and wider area to swim, it is best. They don’t care about the depth of the tank.
If you have a tall tank and your fish loves staying in the middle, your fish will feel the limitation of the narrow yet tall tank.

Best Fish for 5 Gallon Tank

1) Betta Fish (Betta Splendens)

The first fish to consider for a 5 gallon tank is the Betta fish. This face is famous for its vibrant colors and excellent shape. An adult Betta fish can grow as long as 3 inches, so take note of planning to put a few Betta fish on your tank. This fish is suitable for beginners because it is easy to care for and is not sensitive to different water conditions, just avoid extreme water conditions.
If you have a male Betta fish, remember that it is a territorial breed. It is best to have a single male Betta fish in a small tank. For the female, it can coexist more comfortably with Poecilia, Black Tetras, Bloodfin Tetras, Catfish, and Rasboras.

2) Celestial Pearl Danios (Danio margaritatus)

For aquarium fishes, the Danios or Celestial Pearl Danio is one of the smallest breeds of fishes. It is also known as Galaxy Rasbora. It comes with vibrant colors accented by pearl-white spots on the side. Its fins are either red or orange. If you want a vibrant aquarium, this colorful fish breed can do it.
In nature, Danios are schooling fish. They can grow up to 1 inch, and since they love to be in a group, you can keep up to 6 Danios in a small tank. They also get along well with other fishes. In general, Danios are shy and keep things with themselves, just like Tetras, Guppies, and Mollies. They love staying at the bottom of the tank.

3) Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

With its adult size of 1.6 inches, the Sparkling Gourami or Pygmy Gourami is the smallest species of the Gourami family.
It comes with green, blue, and red colors. Indeed, a lovely fish inside an aquarium with its sparkling colors. If your aquarium has lighting that hits its eyes, it can turn its eyes in blue around the rim. Its body also reflects a rainbow color, making it a bright small fish swimming inside a fish tank.
Though it is not a schooling fish, it can live peacefully with other Gouramis in a group of 5-6.
Gourami is in rivers, small ponds, and rice paddies or any small bodies of water with floating plants. If you have a fish tank with plants as decorations, this will make their life happier in your tank.

4) White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys Albonubes)

Are you looking for green and red fish? The White Cloud Mountain Minnows is an excellent choice if these are the colors you prefer to see in your fish tank. Its adult can grow up to 1 and a half inches.
For brighter colors, choose a male one. It also comes with a smaller and thinner body. However, its dorsal and anal fins are in white, and it looks like a fan.
Female white cloud mountain minnows have a dull body. Its dorsal and anal fins don’t have the fan-like shape that males have. Instead, they have a triangular and wedge-shaped.
This fish loves to be with its friends, and when alone, it isolates itself. With more companions and fellow white cloud mountain minnows, they feel more confident and comfortable.

5) Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei)

This rare species of Guppy is one of the most colorful you can have in your fish tank. It is a livebearing fish, yet they remain undemanding and easy to pet. If you are a beginner in keeping an aquarium, this fish type won’t give you a hard time.
Female Endler fishes grow larger than their male counterparts (1.8 inches as compared to 1 inch for males).
If you want a bigger Endler, look for hybrid Guppies. If you have a tank that can accommodate 5 gallons, a purebred Endler would be fine.
This breed is timid and not aggressive. You can keep it with fishes with the same behavior as small Rainbowfish, Dwarf Corydoras, and Tetras.

6) Dwarf Puffer (Carinotetraodon Travancoricus)

The smallest one and an excellent option for a 5 gallon tank is the Dwarf Puffer from the Puffer species. This fish is also known as Pea Puffer. Perhaps it means as small as a pea!
This tiny fish is known for its intelligence. It is playful and active, as well. Despite its size, it is very territorial and wouldn’t want to share its home with other fishes. With a 5 gallon tank, it is best to have a Dwarf Puffer alone. An adult Dwarf Puffer can grow up to 1 inch.
It loves swimming around plants and stones, so better put a lot of decorations in your tank if you will keep a Dwarf Puffer. As mentioned, it is very active, and it loves playing hide and seeks in stones and caves.
This breed of fish needs constant checking. It needs to have a high quality of water. It is for people with advanced experience in maintaining and cleaning aquariums.
The Dwarf Puffer is a carnivore. Give it its supply of meat every day, or else it won’t stay happy in your tank. You can substitute its regular meal with a snail to give its teeth a rest.

7) Clown Killifish (Haplochilus Annulatus)

The Clown Killifish is one of the types that you can breed easily, even in captivity. It can grow up to 1.4 inches and is very easy to handle and care.
A native of Africa, this fish can be found on marshes, streams, and holes. Its name Killifish, was taken from the Dutch word ‘Killy”. It means channel or ditch. Don’t worry; it doesn’t mean ‘killer’, so your fishes are safe if you add a Killifish in your tank.
This colorful fish is also an active one. It can make your aquarium livelier if you will add one, especially its vibrant male specie. It comes with yellow and black stripes on its body while its anal and dorsal fins come with blue and red stripes. It looks like a bumblebee that swims!
A female Clown Killifish is smaller and duller when it comes to its body color. Overall, Clown Killifish looks like a torpedo with its upturned mouth in its round head.
Clown Killifishes love to be alone. It is not aggressive but instead prefers to be left on its own even when in captivity.


Having an aquarium can be a fulfilling hobby, especially after a hard day at the office. It can be a stress-reliever! Even the act of cleaning your tank might be something you look forward to once in a while.
With a 5 gallon tank and a few friendly fishes to have, you can easily maintain it with the installation of a fitting filter system and a few decorations. Remember, there is no need to overstock your small aquarium with stones and pearls and plants – just add enough for your fishes to play around, but don’t overdo it.

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