If you are into nano aquariums, 5-gallon aquariums will be a good choice. They are one of the smallest aquarium sizes in the hobby and good for fish keepers who do not have much space.

In this article, We explore the top fish for a 5-gallon tank and share helpful tips for setting up and caring for your nano aquarium.

What size is a 5-gallon fish tank?

Typical 5 gallon aquariums have dimensions of  16″ x 8″ x 10″ inches .This may weigh about 7 pounds when empty and 62 pounds when full.

Five-gallon Aquariums are super popular right now, and it makes sense because you can put them anywhere. You can put them on a desk, on your kitchen counter or even on a bookshelf.

Although these smaller fish tanks get dirty quickly, their small size and low weight make them very convenient to handle.

How many fish can go in a 5-gallon Aquarium?

As long as each fish is not bigger than an inch, you can keep roughly 2-3 fish in a tank of this size. Fish that grow larger than 1 inch are not advisable to keep in 5-gallon aquariums.

Even though many species cannot survive in tanks of this size, there are some possible varieties. Most of the smaller fish breeds, including Tetras, Bettas, Rasbora, Shrimps, and others, would be great for this kind of small aquariums. 

As well as, if you are setting up a planted aquarium with your 5-gallon tank, it will be a great-looking aquascape with these nano aquarium fish. So these are the top 10 fish that are best for a 5-gallon aquarium.

Betta Fish (Betta splendens)

Betta Fish for 5-gallon aquarium
Betta Fish

Betta fish are one of the best aquatic species for a 5-gallon aquarium. Everyone likes male bettas because they look like fine pieces of art with their colorful nature and the way their fins flow.

Female bettas are amazing little fish too. They have a ton of color and fantastic personalities, making them loving fish to keep. 

They can be thrilled in a 5-gallon aquarium with some plants and even a couple of small tank mates. Because the males are so aggressive toward other males, you should only keep one male in an aquarium.

Feeding bettas is super easy, and there’s tons of food made just for bettas, like bug bites and flakes. You need to provide them with some water movement from a filter or an air stone. Filtering the tank helps to keep the ph around 7.0. 

In a 5-gallon tank, a betta can live happily for three to five years. It is recommended to use an aquarium heater to maintain the temperature around 78 to 82 F.

Freshwater shrimp (Gammarus fasciatus)

Freshwater shrimp for 5-gallon aquarium
Freshwater shrimp

Freshwater shrimp is one of the super small, adorable fish, and they’re available in tons of different colors. They’re super fun to watch and keep. But they’re not exactly for beginner fish keepers.

Most of these shrimp are so tiny. Therefore, you can keep over a dozen of shrimps in a 5-gallon tank. But be aware that! a lot of these shrimp will reproduce fast. So you might get overrun with them pretty quickly.

Use some air-driven filtration for shrimp-like sponge filters because it’s effortless for your shrimp to get sucked right up into your power filters.

Shrimp will always be on the hunt for food. They’ll do a great job by picking algae all day. But you still need to feed them using tropical flakes, spirulina flakes, algae rounds, or shrimp pellets.

Water parameters for the different types of shrimp can vary. So when it comes to setting your ph, water hardness, and temperature, that’s going to depend on the kind of shrimp you decide to keep. Usually, they prefer soft water with temperatures around 65 -84F.

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)


Guppies are one of the most popular fish for the 5-gallon tanks. They’re super colorful and highly active. 

They can tolerate a wide range of water parameters and are perfect for beginner fish keepers. But they breed super fast. So you can keep only males or females to avoid constant breeding.

The males look a little different than the females. They’re not quite as big, and their fins aren’t as full. But they’re still really nice-looking fish.

Guppies aren’t finicky eaters at all. They’ll readily take a good quality flake food or some frozen brine shrimp every once in a while. For guppies, you’ll want to keep your ph neutral and the temperature around 75 to 82F. Just keep up with routine maintenance.

Chili Rasboras(Boraras brigittae)

Chili Rasboras fish
Chili Rasboras

Chili Rasboras are adorable little fish with bright red and black stripes that go down its body. There are schooling fish. So you’ll want to get at least six to eight of these little guys. It’s not going to be too much on your 5- gallon fish tank. They only get about three-quarters of an inch long.

For Chili Roboras, sponge filters are used rather than power filters because they are not super strong and don’t like water movement much. Feeding Chili Rasboras is pretty simple. You can feed them with a quality tropical flake and maybe throw in some Hikari micro pellets. That’ll keep them fat and happy.

These are pretty easy fish to keep and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. But try to keep your temperature around 78 to 80F and a ph anywhere from 6.0 to 7.0. 

Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei)

Endler's livebearer fish
Endler’s livebearer

Endler’s livebearers are one of the best little fish in the whole hobby because they’re super tiny, cute, and easy to keep. They look somewhat similar to guppies.

Suppose you keep both males and females in the same tank of a livebearer species. In that case, you can expect many babies as livebearers reproduce readily in freshwater aquariums kept at home.

They will only grow to a length of around one inch. So it’s not a big deal to keep six or eight of them in a 5 -gallon tank. They’re not schooling fish; you can put them in the tank with other types of fish too. 

Endlers are very hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. They are fine at 75-86F temperature and survive in a wide pH range. It makes them one of the perfect fish for beginners. 

White Cloud Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes)

White Cloud Minnows
White Cloud Minnows

White cloud minnows are colorful and adorable little schooling fish. They get a little over an inch in length. Minnows like to be in groups and put four to five fish at least. The males will have brighter fins and slimmer bodies than the females.

White Cloud Minnows are another type of fish that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. Also, they can tolerate lower temperatures and do not need to be kept at warm temperatures like guppies. The nominal temperature range for the species is around 58-72F.

With White Clouds Minnows, it is essential to keep your water clean. A routine maintenance schedule is important because 5-gallon tanks can fumble up quickly. They eat all types of food, including live, frozen, and flake food.

Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae)

Ember Tetras for five gallon fish tanks
Ember Tetras

Ember tetras are another adorable little tetra that’s super easy to keep. They are schooling fish and well-suited aquarium fish for tiny aquariums. They are peaceful, stay small, and have great colors.

Ember tetras prefer a lower pH, around 6 or 7, and a temperature around 78 to 82F. Also, they prefer soft water conditions. If your water’s hard, you might want to stay away from these fish and pick a fish that does better in that type of water.

But these are simple fish to keep if your water is soft enough. They’re adorable and eat almost anything that you put in the tank. Feed them with some quality tropical flakes or some Fluval bug bites.

Emerald Dwarf Rasbora (Microrasbora erythromicron)

Emerald Dwarf for 5-gallon aquarium
Emerald Dwarf Rasboras

Emerald Dwarfs Rasboras are cute little fish that can be kept in a heavily planted tank with many tank mates. They’re timid. So giving them plenty of hiding spaces is essential.

These little rasboras are super easy to keep. They can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, but you should keep your aquarium water clean. The pH level should be maintained between 7.0 and 8.0, and temperatures should be slightly cooler, like 70-75F.

Put a friendly group of them together with a bunch of plants. Some driftwood or rocks will give them plenty of hiding places. You can feed them a quality tropical flake or frozen brine shrimp.

Galaxy Rasboras(Danio margaritatus)

Galaxy Rasboras fish
Galaxy Rasboras

Celestial pearl danios (CPD) are also called Galaxy Rasboras by many fish keepers. CPDs are gorgeous little fish, with the males having bright orange fins, and the females are nice too. 

They don’t have as much orange in their fins. But they’re still colorful, and they look nice. They are another fish that can tolerate a wide range of parameters. But it’s best to keep around a neutral ph and keep the water at 75 to 78 degrees. 

Galaxy Rasboras are shy and prefer to hide. So if you’re thinking about live plants in your 5-gallon aquarium, these will be great fish. Put a few of them with some Endlers and a Betta, and you’ll have a gorgeous little tank.

Scarlet Badis (Dario dario)

Dario Dario for 5-gallon aquarium
Dario Dario

Dario  Dario is more commonly known as the Scarlet Badis. There s a good chance that when you see these guys in the store, you will walk right past them because they are usually not very colorful.  

But once you add them to a planted tank, Darios will color up beautifully. One downside with this fish is that usually, there are only male fish for sale, and too many males in a small tank will often lead to some aggression. 

Scarlet Baids prefer a water pH around 7.0 to 9.0 and a temperature around 68 to 75 F.

Oto Cat (Otocinclus macrospilus)

Oto Cat fish
Oto Cat

Next up, we will look into an algae eater. Otocinclus are so helpful against algae, and they are fun to watch as well. 

There are days that they don t really move around much, and some days they are just constantly busy scraping algae off rocks and the fish tank glass. 

Otocinclus prefer a water pH around 5.5 to 7.5 and a water temperature around 70 – 78F.

Clown Killifish (Epiplatys annulatus)

Clown Killifish
Clown Killifish

Clown Killifish are very skilled jumpers, so if you are planning on keeping these fish, it is recommended to use a tank with a lid. They are really fun fish to keep and the males have beautiful tails with lots of red and blue. 

Clown Killifish will mostly swim around the top layer of your aquarium, also, floating plants are a must with these guys, they will really appreciate that. The pH level should be maintained between 4.0 and 7.0, and temperatures should be slightly cooler, like 68-78F.

Final Words to Selecting fish for 5-Gallon Aquarium

We hope this guide will help you choose some nice inhabitants for your next nano aquascape or planted tank with a five-gallon Aquarium. Read our freshwater fish care guides to learn more about other fish varaities.


I am Prasanjaya who is an aquarium hobbyist for nearly a decade. I wish to help fishkeepers to get accurate and helpful information regarding every aspect of fishkeeping.

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