Best Fish For A 5 Gallon Tank – 11+ Amazing Options

If you plan to buy fish for your 5-gallon tank, the following article is best suited. It includes all the types of fish you pet, which ones to avoid, and how many you can put. 

Aquariums with a capacity of five gallons are one of the most common tank sizes. It’s hardly surprising, given how compact they are and how readily they can fit into almost any area.

The smallest aquarium that can house fish is a 5-gallon tank or cube. If you go any smaller, you’ll have trouble maintaining a consistent cycle. You won’t give your stock enough area to swim. Even the tiniest fish want space to roam around and investigate.


The best fish for a 5-gallon tank is Betta fish and Guppies, which are amazing fish for a small aquarium.

In this article, we’ll also cover the following:

  • Which fish to avoid
  • Each species’ characteristics

Why you can trust us & how we picked

With a love for sea and ocean, we want to make sure the waters and its fauna are protected. If you decide to keep fish in your aquarium, ideal conditions similar to natural ones should be created. That’s why we consulted with experts from pet stores and asked their advice for our aquarium.

Continue reading

Here’s an overview of the fish we’ll take a closer look at.

Care difficultyMax size, inches
Betta FishIntermediate2-4
Clown KillifishEasy1
Neon TetrasEasy1.6
White cloud mountain minnowEasy1.5
Cherry ShrimpEasy1.5
Harlequin RasboraIntermediate2
Honey GouramiEasy2
Molly FishEasy3-4
Endler’s LivebearerEasy1
Scarlet BadisIntermediate0.5-0.75
Dwarf PufferIntermediate1
Celestial Pearl DaniosIntermediate1

Table of Contents

13 Amazing fish for a 5-gallon tank


Betta fish require heat and filtration, just like every other tropical fish. It is difficult to achieve in an aquarium under five gallons. Nano filters and heaters are available for tanks as little as five gallons. They’re an excellent complement to your system. Your fish will be more illness resistant and have a higher quality of life. As a consequence, they’ll most likely live longer.

You must act in the best interests of nature in a personal aquarium to ensure that those processes take place. To minimize waste, cleaning the tank is necessary. The greater the tank, the less difficult it is.

Small tanks rapidly become polluted. Therefore the more freshwater you can offer your betta, the better. Remember that just because something seems good doesn’t mean it.’

  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Max. Size: 2 to 4 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Lifespan: 6 to 7 years


macro of pregnant female Guppy (Poecilia reticulata), bit harsh reflections on the belly

Guppies are calm, easygoing communal fish that get along with various other non-aggressive fish. You should keep them with other live-bearing fish like platys or mollies. Small fish are suitable tankmates, such as neon tetras or zebrafish.

They’re low-maintenance and can put up with a few rookie blunders. Because guppies are quite active fish, a larger tank is advised but is suitable for 5 gallons. In an aquarium with greenery and soft décor objects, they flourish.

Separating males and females in different tanks is suggested to prevent your population from ballooning. Guppy females may retain sperm for multiple spawnings even after being separated from men.

  • Family:  Poeciliidae
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Max. Size: 0.6 to 2 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 2 years
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Clown Killifish

Clown Killies are the best inhabitants. These tiny predators are a fantastic option if you have a 5-gallon tank and want to fill up that often-overlooked part.

Clown Killifish may appear to be placid, yet they are predators. Rather than chasing their target, they wait along the water’s edge. Clown Killies attack unsuspecting insects as they skim the surface, capturing them with their raised jaws.

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Max. Size: 1 inch
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical

Neon Tetras

The majority of neon tetras are captive-bred, with the majority hailing from Far Eastern and Eastern Europe. There are currently a variety of captive-bred species available. The neon tetra’s dazzling colors diminish at night when sleeping, disturbed, or unwell, much like other colorful fish. Choose lively and vibrantly colored examples in the pet store, as faded hues might indicate poor health.

Neon tetras should not be kept in freshly set up tanks since they will not withstand the changes during the starting process. Add neon tetras once your tank is fully matured and your water chemistry is steady.

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Max. Size: 1.6 inches
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years

White cloud mountain minnow

White cloud mountain minnows are little, bright fish previously dubbed “the working man’s neon.” It’s because of their similar hue to neon tetras but lower price.

For more than half a century, the white cloud minnow was the only species in the newly constituted genus. White cloud minnows should always be kept in groups of at least a half dozen minnows. They usually lose color and hide almost all of the time when kept alone. They are calm and get along nicely with other tiny fish. Larger tankmates are more likely to devour white cloud mountain minnows, so avoid them. Any aggressive species is the same way.

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, temperate
  • Max. Size: 1.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp are easy to care for because they are low-maintenance and self-sufficient invertebrates. Cherry Shrimp are resilient and adaptable to various water conditions as long as the aquarium water is consistent.

Red Cherry Shrimp appear to be at ease in developing a tank that is a little on the hard side and has a good running current. The aim is to minimize ammonia surges, high nitrites, and high nitrates by maintaining stable water conditions. Be cautious while taking drugs, and avoid copper at all costs since it can be harmful to aquarium shrimp.

There should be lots of live aquatic plants in the tank. Such shrimp must have a variety of surfaces on which to crawl and explore. Plants provide excellent places to hide and cover these shrimp.

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivorous: feed shrimp pellets, algae wafers, vegetables
  • Water conditions: Freshwater, tropical 
  • Adult Size: 1.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 year

Harlequin Rasbora

The harlequin rasbora is a popular fish among hobbyists because of its attractive metallic color and ease of care. A big school of fish fills an aquarium with life and movement. This fish is ideal for a tiny community tank since it gets along with most other fish. Because it’s a little fish, keep it alongside others of its size; larger fish can be tempted by its sparkle and try to eat it.

The harlequin rasbora is an oceanic fish that must be kept in eight to ten groups. Schools with even more students make for a stunning exhibition. Harlequins may be kept with any fish that isn’t huge and predatory.

  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Max. Size: 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years 

Honey Gourami

This fish species is timid and usually withdrawn, making them suitable for community tanks due to their peaceful nature. They are not aggressive or territorial and will do well in small schools.

Although they do well in small schools, they will develop some form of hierarchy within the group. Some aggression is to be expected. Do not be alarmed when you see them chasing each other.

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • Temperament: Peaceful                                  
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, temperate
  • Max. Size: 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 to 6 years


The molly is a peaceful fish that is ideal for freshwater community aquariums. They’re simple to look after and can fit into most common tank layouts.

Mollies thrive in natural settings that resemble the tropical waterways they frequent in the wild. This necessitates the addition of several plants as well as numerous hiding spots.

Adding sand or gravel substrate to the bottom of your aquarium will make  Mollies spend the majority of their time in the water column’s middle and higher levels. They will not spend a lot of time near the substrate. Molly fish primarily consume Plant-based meals. While they aren’t known for being excellent algae eaters, they do like snacking on it regularly. They may be found scraping it off rocks and wood using their mouths.

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Max. Size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 years

Endler’s Livebearer

The livebearers of Endler belong to the Poecilia genus, which includes mollies and guppies. In terms of genetics, the fish is identical to a regular guppy.

Like their more widespread guppy siblings, these freshwater fish are among the simplest in the trade! They’re ideal for both novice and experienced fish keepers. Endler’s idea for keeping his livebearers healthy is to mimic their natural surroundings precisely. This isn’t limited to interior design. Water conditions must also be compatible.

  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Max. Size: 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

Scarlet Badis

The Scarlet Badis is an underappreciated freshwater fish species. It is sometimes referred to as the Scarlet Gem Badis. The life cycle of this fish is extremely harsh.

The Scarlet Badis is a quiet and calm fish often frightened by larger, more aggressive fish. Other little tranquil fish are excellent tank mates for this reason. You can rely upon them dead for no apparent reason. They will often have vibrant coloring as the male seeks to breed before dying at the end of their life.

On the other hand, the Scarlet Badis will brighten up your tank for a minimum of 3-4 years with adequate maintenance and a portion of well-balanced food.

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Carnivorous: Feed live/frozen foods
  • Water Condition: Freshwater
  • Max Size: 0.5-0.75 inches
  • Lifespan: 4-6 years

Dwarf Puffer

Dwarf puffers are easily bored. Include five gallons per puffer, sand substrate, extensively planted with live aquarium plants.

More hiding spots than puffers make for a decent tank layout. This is especially crucial when maintained in groups since they may be fairly territorial. These small puffers may be selective about what they eat. Frozen bloodworms, snails, and live blackworms are usually accepted. Other delicacies include shrimp of various types and daphnia.

  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater to brackish, tropical
  • Max. Size: 1 inch
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years

Celestial Pearl Danios

The Celestial Pearl Danio is a freshwater species found in Southeast Asia’s tiny, densely vegetated shallow ponds (Myanmar).

The water velocity in these ponds is minimal, yet there is a lot of light. The light encourages the growth of flora and algae, which they may use to hide and feed on. The majority of danios are omnivores.

They have small mouths and pharyngeal teeth, like all other cyprinids. They also have little conical teeth in their jaws, suggesting they eat smaller animals. They are used to a broad array of aquatic plants because their natural habitat is primarily tiny ponds. Such plants keep the aquarium clean, but they also provide a hiding place for the fish and even let them lay eggs.

  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Water Conditions: Freshwater, tropical
  • Max. Size: 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

How many fish can you put in a tank this size?

It depends on the following factors: one inch of fish per gallon of aquarium water is the standard for stocking any fish tank.

The amount of swimming area in the tank and the water quality are important factors. 

Which to avoid

  • Goldfish 

Goldfish are gregarious and friendly fish that make excellent aquarium pets. They are not hostile, but they can become combative if they are malnourished or agitated. It can also happen if they are kept in cramped quarters. They are interested in their surroundings and like to investigate their tank’s plants and decorations. On the other hand, that lovely little 2-inch gourmet goldfish may swiftly grow to be 6 inches long. Other types can grow much larger.

Goldfish are very gregarious animals, and they find living alone to be exceedingly distressing.

  • Angelfish 

Keeping a solitary angelfish does not appear to be detrimental to their health. They can shoal or swim in groups in nature. However, having only one as the focal fish in your tank appears to make them far more laid-back and docile. Angelfish are graceful tropical fish that begin their lives as 1.5-inch juveniles. Many new aquarists are drawn to the Angelfish because of its appealing colors and elegant movement.

However, these beauties are not ideal for a tiny tank. Angelfish may reach a height of at least six inches when fully grown. Angelfish are also cichlids, which means they may be hostile to lesser fish.

  • Cichlids 

Cichlids originate from diverse environments. Combining species is prohibited due to differing water quality requirements. Depending on your species and natural environment, you may need soft and demineralized water. You could even need more basic, hard water. Cichlids come in many shapes and sizes, but don’t assume that smaller fish require less space! Some cichlid species may be fierce competitors for territory and hiding spots. It includes breeding areas and mates. On the other hand, Cichlids are often territorial and aggressive. They prey on smaller fish and crustaceans.

Best aquarium

If you’re looking to get an aquarium, here’s the one we recommend.

Name5-Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit
BrandKoller Products
Comes withheater & filter
Country of OriginUSA
Item Dimensions LxWxH16.5 x 10 x 11.8 inches
Item Weight4.8 Pounds


  • It’s a very reasonable price.
  • It’s great for the fish listed above.
  • We love that it comes with a heater and filter.


  • The filter could be better.
  • The glass is a bit dark.

Factors to consider

Before you buy new fish for your aquarium, make sure you know how to take care of them and what their needs are. There are several factors to consider, which you will have to remember when you find yourself at a pet shop. You can also ask the staff for help as they are experienced in this field.


Some fish might be very small when they are born, but they increase in size significantly when they reach maturity. If your fish tank is small and cannot acommodate larger fish, you should consider species that do not triple in size when they become adults.


While most fish will do just fine with pellets or frozen foods, others have special requirements. They have specific foods in their diet and you need to ensure you have access to it. Some species even require supplements and vitamins to be administered weekly

Water temperature

If your fish was born and raised in an aquarium, most likely it is already familiar with the water temperature and the chemicals within it. However, those that will acquire a fish collected in the wild should know that the acommodation period is longer. Depending on the species, they will need a specific water temperature to feeel comfotable.

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