Fishes For 5-Gallon Aquariums: 20 Recommendations That You Should Not Miss

Are you looking for fish for 5-gallon aquariums? Since not all fish species will thrive in such a little tank, selecting some for such an aquarium size might be challenging.

There are a variety of options available. Although many species cannot flourish in aquariums this tiny, there are still those that can.

This article will show a complete list of the most suitable fishes for your small tank. Let’s scroll down to check it out!

How Many Fish Can A 5-Gallon Tank Hold?

Adding accessories, plants, and ornamental fish to a five-gallon aquarium becomes a lovely focal point for a space.

One inch of aquatic creature for every gallon of water in a tank is the standard thumb rule for populating any aquarium.

Nevertheless, 6-inch fishes are not suitable for keeping in a small 5-gallon aquarium.

Besides, you should consider many factors before introducing aquatic creatures into your tank, like filtration, tank shape, fish size, and behavior.

  • Filtration System

You must install a filtration system and a heater in each tank, regardless of its size.

Aquatic creatures produce waste that decomposes and creates ammonia and nitrites.

The filtration system filters out big waste particles and bacteria from the water. This general rule may be readily disregarded for larger species.

  • Size And Behavior Of Species

When selecting fish for a tiny aquarium, consider that aquatic fish vary greatly in temperament and size.

Some varieties may be aggressive to others, so it’s better to choose the ones that can share their space with other tank mates.

Fish also develop their size. Some may be small when they are babies. However, when fully matured, their length may considerably increase.

  • Heater

Apart from the filtration system, you also must equip your aquarium with a heating system as not many species can tolerate cold water in the winter months.

Also, fish experience a hibernating period. During this time, most of their bodily functions slow down to save energy.

So, it’s best to install a heater in your tank, even if it’s relatively small.

  • Tank Shape

The form of the tank is a vital factor when filling an aquarium.

Stocking and decorating square tanks, cube forms, and hexagonal tanks is significantly more challenging than rectangular ones.

This general advice is partially helpful for smaller species, but it ignores several important aspects, including:

  • The Temperament Of A Fish

Territorial fish will not share their territory in a considerably bigger tank, making them suitable for a nanotechnology aquarium arrangement.

  • The Social Requirements Of A Fish

Even when fish species don’t engage in shoaling activity, they will become more stressed while swimming alone than in a fish school.

  • Shoaling Behavior

Fish need to move in more prominent groups to feel comfortable in a single-species tank.

The quantity of fish you may breed in a 5-gallon aquarium is mainly determined by the variety of fish you want to fill it with.

What Are The Best Fish Combinations For A 5-Gallon Tank?

Except for micro-rasboras, a 5-gallon aquarium is not suited for housing numerous species.

It’s critical that all of the species in an aquarium get along. In general, try to pick creatures that don’t disturb each other.

If you still want to keep different varieties in the same tank, let’s consider some of the following suggestions:

Option 1:

  • Betta (1)
  • Cherry Shrimp (2)

Option 2:

  • Cherry Shrimp (5)
  • Thai Micro Crabs (2)

Option 3:

  • Celestial Pearl Danios (4)
  • Cherry Shrimp (2)

Option 4:

  • Amano shrimp (1)
  • Nerite snail (1)
  • Betta fish (1)
  • Killifish (2)

Option 5:

  • Cherry shrimp (10)
  • Nerite snails (5)

Best Fish Species For A 5-Gallon Tank

What fish can you keep in your 5-gallon aquarium? The following list of 20 species will be helpful for you. Let’s scroll down!

#1. Betta

Betta is the archetypal “Small Space” creature. These species do not need large tanks to thrive.

Bettas live in Southeast Asia’s rice paddies. Their native environment is hazy, challenging to maneuver, and rather cramped.

Furthermore, Bettas are not highly sociable. They are aggressive and may often pick battles with fish who intrude into their territory.

That’s why aquarists often keep Bettas in a single tank on their own. They will grow great as long as you provide them with the essentials.

Despite its lack of space needs, this variety is a true beauty. Their vibrant jewel-tone hues and large fins make a big visual impression.

betta fish


#2. Guppy

Guppy fish is a popular aquarium species. They’re suitable for both experienced and new aquarists because they’re not too demanding.

Due to their small size, these fish can survive in relatively small spaces. This fish for 5-gallon aquariums reach a maximum length of over 2 inches.

Male guppies have a fan-shaped tails with vibrant patterns and colors. Their fins are striking even in a small tank.

There are around 300 different kinds of guppy. Most of them are gentle and social fish.

#3. Clown Killifish

The clown killifish are fascinating fish that live in little streams in West Africa. They’re only around half one and a half-inch long.

Clown killifish, despite their petite size, are natural-born tiny carnivores. They float on the water’s surface, searching for insects and microbes to consume.

These fish are uninteresting to plants, but they appreciate the shelter they give.

Clown killifish are brightly colored. Black stripes, light yellow accents, and vivid blue splashes adorn their dart-shaped body.

#4. Least Killifish

The least killifish, which are only around an inch long, thrive in small spaces.

They have evolved to flourish in harsher environments than other animals.

They often live in the lowland areas, hunting for food in sparsely populated areas.

These fish have evolved to live in harsh environments, making captivity a breeze.

They aren’t picky about their diet and may thrive in even the tiniest environments.

The least killifish, which may be reserved and aloof, dislikes loud noise. These creatures would prefer to stick in their area and do their own thing.

Least Killifish

Least killifish

#5. Chili Rasbora

Because this species merely grows around 0.7 inches long, Chili Rasbora is called a nano fish.

They are, without a doubt, ideal candidates for tiny aquariums. Their petite stature does not negate their aesthetic impression.

These fish are most typically recognizable by their vivid red coloring.

Black highlights on their body and fins make a beautiful contrast in almost any aquarium.

The habitat of this species is blackwater. You don’t need to make the water completely black, but these fish still prefer fine-tuned environments.

Most importantly, remember to keep an eye on things to avoid significant health issues.

#6. Neon Tetra

These colorful creatures are trendy. They are a social species that thrive in groups. They are still happy if other tank mates swim around them.

The body of neon tetras is torpedo-shaped. A long shimmering, dazzling blue stripe extends laterally over their body while their tail is accented with a dash of crimson.

These tetras are low-maintenance and easygoing. Some of them are also tough and adaptable to a variety of conditions.

However, they prefer circumstances that are similar to their native environment.

South American waters are great since they are warm, gentle, and somewhat acidic.

Neon Tetra

Neon tetra

#7. Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling gourami fish are simple to satisfy in terms of space needs because they only grow to half an inch in length.

Large swaths of Gourami provide a dazzling sight that you will never forget.

These creatures have various colors filled into their tiny bodies.

If you look closely, you can quickly notice their fins with polka dots, red stripes, and vivid blue eyes.

This species is energetic, zooming about the cramped enclosure and searching for its prey fish.

#8. Molly

Another community favorite is molly fish. They are simple livebearers.

So, many aquarists worldwide look for these aquatic creatures to keep in their 5-gallon tank.

Mollies are easy to look after since they are self-sufficient and tiny.

They’re low-maintenance and may reproduce prolifically with little support from you.

The most extraordinary thing about having mollies is how adaptive they are.

They can flourish in various habitats, from bleak freshwater to rich brackish seas!

Mollies come in many different hues. They can additionally have a variety of fin patterns, offering you a variety of aesthetics.



#9. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain minnows get their name from their origin. The species was seen on White Cloud Mountain in China for the first time.

They are surface skimmers, which means they live in the top water column.

They thrive in clean, well-managed water. This variety is not tropical, unlike the other fish types.

They prefer colder weather, making it difficult to establish a robust community.

This species may survive in environments with warm water for a short time. Long-term living, on the other hand, will shorten their longevity.

#10. Endler’s Livebearer

Endler’s Livebearers were once grouped with Guppies. They appear identical at first glance, and both types are livebearing.

Endler’s livebearers, on the other hand, are a distinct species. Endler’s livebearers are available in a rainbow of colors, just like guppies.

This variety is highly colorful, with numerous patches of bright colors.

Many of them feature translucent patches that provide the appearance of a drifting color.

Laguna De Patos is the only place where this species lives. As a result, they must fulfill specified parameter criteria.

Endler’s livebearers require hard water with a high pH level to maintain good health.

Endler's livebearer

Endler’s livebearer

#11. Scarlet Badis

Scarlet Badis, another nano fish, thrives in tiny aquariums.

Adult males are just around one inch long. Females only grow to approximately a half-inch!

Even so, the scarlet Badis has an undeniable beauty. These golden and orange-colored fish shine out in almost any environment.

The fins sparkle and glisten when they scurry around the aquarium thanks to little blue accents.

Keeping this type healthy might be a challenge because they are pretty demanding.

To minimize severe pH swings, ensure to evaluate the parameters often and undertake periodic water changes.

#12. Honey Gourami

Honey gourami resembles normal Gourami in appearance. Their bodies are slender and taper to a point around the terminal mouth.

They even feature the Gouramis’ distinctive pectoral fins like a thread. The honey gourami, on the other hand, has a unique color.

The color of this type is orange-red, in contrast to the blue hues of other gouramis.

Adults of this variety grow to be around 2 inches long, making them an excellent addition to a 5-gallon aquarium.

They’re calm, but they might be wary of overly energetic fish. Thus, they can get on well with other tank mates.

Honey Gourami

Honey Gourami

#13. Dwarf Pea Puffer

These lovely tiny Dwarf Pea Puffers have grown in popularity in the past few years. It’s easy to understand why!

The body of these fish is thick and sturdy, with a yellow belly. Green, black, brown, and gleaming gold swirls decorate the top.

This puffer has small fins and enormous, bulbous eyes, appearing like a comic character.

Most people conceive of puffers as fist-sized creatures. When completely developed, these fish are almost one and a half inches long.

Despite being active and moving around the tank a lot, they are not the most strong swimmers.

#14. Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestial pearl danio fish are a popular type with stunning appearances. The fish’s main body features a vivid blue color.

Cream-colored spots dot their body, making them look like a starry sky. The fins have a vivid crimson color with striking black stripes.

These creatures are among the most gorgeous because of their unique blend of patterns and colors.

Celestial Pearl Danios prefer clear water with abundant plants.

This species is relatively easy to care for. However, you must be cautious of your surroundings.

Celestial pearls are likely to experience anxiety and sickness when conditions are improper.

To keep healthy, they require the right environment, lots of hiding spaces, and a portion of nutritious food.

Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestial pearl danio

#15. Pygmy Corydoras

The corydoras with the standard size is well-known among aquarists. They’re a common catfish that several people keep in communal aquariums.

Dwarf corydoras, popularly called dwarf cory catfish, is a little replica of the famous species.

It’s barely around 3/4 inch long. It does, however, preserve the cory shape.

You’ll notice the bulbous torso, under-turned lips, and huge eyes. Yellow streaks combine with shimmery splashes to generate a gleaming fish.

They are the most fantastic fish for 5-gallon aquariums, but their vibrant design makes them pretty attractive.

#16. Rosy Loach

If you raise them in a school, rosy loaches are lovely, friendly species that you can keep in a tiny tank.

Gentle water flow, an abundance of shaded hiding spots, and thick planting are necessary for this fish.

Because rosy loaches’ sensory barbels are fragile, they require a peaceful, sandy environment.

#17. Harlequin Rasbora

Although Harlequin Rasbora is not the brightest fish worldwide, they are still outstanding in an aquarium.

A black triangle patch accents their body which is shaped like a diamond.

It can cover the bottom half of the tank, producing a stark contrast that grabs the attention.

Harlequin rasboras are community-friendly species. They can adapt to almost any tropical environment and get on well with nearly any species.

These fish love to live in peace, but they might become prey for larger species when you’re not attentive. This species favors blackwater habitats as well.

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin rasbora

#18. Dwarf Crayfish

Dwarf crayfish are ideal for tiny aquariums. They have the appearance of little lobsters, along with claws.

They are, nevertheless, a lot easier to deal with. They’re only around two inches long.

They’re also like tank cleaners. They consume everything terrible, leaving a nutritious tank in their wake.

It’s critical to include plenty of decorations when putting up a tank for crayfish.

These animals hide in plants, driftwood, or rocks. After molting, they become highly vulnerable, so it’s best to provide them with ample hiding spaces.

#19. Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp are colorful aquatic invertebrates commonly raised in a five-gallon tank.

It’s entertaining to watch them scamper about the tank and eat everything delicious that comes within reach of their legs.

If you are looking for a species to kill algae, you can’t go wrong with Amano shrimp. Algae is their favorite diet.

Most importantly, Amano shrimp require very little space. Small groupings can live well together.

Bioload difficulties will arise as colonies become larger. They may flourish in smaller settings if the population is kept under control.

All they require is some sufficient decor and plants. Once the plants perish, these freshwater aquatic shrimp consume them and remove algae off surfaces.

Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp

#20. Cherry Shrimp

Cherry shrimp is a familiar creature in freshwater aquariums. They are in high demand.

Breeders use a unique grading method to assess the worth of this species.

The most expensive varieties are those with a more vivid red color. Those shrimp have the most brilliant and solid hue.

Lower types may contain simply a few red spots against a translucent body.

These shrimp don’t require a lot of areas to thrive. Nevertheless, they need abundant greenery, algae-eating surfaces, and clean water.

When environmental conditions deteriorate, cherry shrimp, like many other invertebrates, become vulnerable to illness and stress.

Fish That Should Not Be Kept In A 5-Gallon Aquarium

Apart from the tiny fish mentioned above, many species are not suitable for raising in a small aquarium with 5-gallon water.

Let’s take a closer look at the list below if you plan to set up a 5-gallon tank:


Goldfish are beloved pets for children, and they frequently wind up in little aquariums.

That lovely tiny 2-inch gourmet goldfish, on the other hand, can swiftly thrive on being 6 inches long, and different types can grow much more significantly.

Moreover, they create a lot of waste, and even a 5-gallon tank water quality may soon degrade.

Goldfish are also gregarious animals who find living alone to be exceedingly distressing. That’s why these creatures don’t belong in a 5-gallon aquarium.

Consider raising these tiny pets in a small backyard pond or a tank containing 20 to 40 gallons of water if you love keeping them.


Cichlids come in more than 1,300 different species like Jack Dempseys, Oscars, or Green Terrors, some of which are pretty tiny.

On the other hand, Cichlids are often aggressive, devouring smaller creatures and crustaceans.

Furthermore, most of these aquatic creatures are territorial and require a large amount of swimming room.

Therefore, they may require additional space in an aquarium if raised together.

If you’re sure, you prefer to keep cichlids, forget the 5-gallon aquarium and opt for a 20-gallon or bigger tank.




Angelfish are graceful tropical species that begin their lives as one and a half-inch juveniles.

Many new aquarists are drawn to the Angelfish because of its appealing colors and graceful movement.

These beauties, unfortunately, are too large for a tiny aquarium. Angelfish may reach a height of at least six inches when fully grown.

Furthermore, Angelfish belong to the cichlids family, which means they may be hostile to lesser fish. They can also be aggressive against other species.

If you want to know more about these beautiful ornamental fish, you can watch this video:



The Bottom Line

This article has eventually shown you the fishes for 5-gallon aquariums.

If you intend to set up this type of tank, look through the list and pick the most suited and preferred species for yourself.

Various options are suitable for your small aquarium, such as Betta, Guppy, Neon Tetra, Scarlet Badis, etc.

After selecting your favorite types, it’s best to learn about their size, behavior, social requirements, and many criteria for their habitats like tank shape or water quality.

If you know other species for this tiny aquarium, feel free to comment below. Hopefully, this post will be helpful for you.

Thanks for taking the time to follow it!