10 Best Fish for 5-Gallon Aquariums

Best Fish for 5-Gallon Aquariums

Best Fish for 5-Gallon Aquariums

Small aquariums are especially popular with beginning aquarists, primarily because they are easy to setup.

The aquariums, however, limit stocking options since they are only a few fish species that can survive in a nano aquarium.

To ensure that the pets in your small tank are healthy and comfortable, you have to maintain the water quality by changing the water frequently. Some of the fish to consider for your nano 5 gallon aquarium include:

1. Betta Fish

Betta Fish

Betta Fish

Betta fish are quite popular with small tanks. They are tropical fish, and they, therefore, need tropical temperatures. Ensure that the temperatures do not fall beneath 74 °F or above 80 °F.

You should thus equip your system with a heater and thermometer. Your choice of filter should not generate strong currents in the tank so that your betta finds it easy to swim.

Bettas have a reputation of being aggressive, which is why they have also earned the name Siamese fighting fish. Since a 5-gallon tank is confined, keep only one betta of either gender.

Bettas are native to Thailand, where they seek out rice paddies and slow-moving streams. They appreciate numerous hiding spots, and you will have to provide plants and caves for them in your tank.

Around half to three-fourths of the aquarium will need to be shaded cover for your pet. The ornaments you choose should be assessed so that they do not impact on the fragile fins of the bettas.

The lighting influences the behavioral patterns of the betta. It will sleep when it is dark and wake up when it lights up. Such a regular schedule will sustain the health of the fish, and you can invest in quality LED light.

Bettas prefer a carnivorous diet, but ensure you do not overfeed them.

2. Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling Gourami (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The Sparkling Gourami will brighten up your tank with the rich coloring on their bodies. It is sourced from Southeast Asia where it has made habitats in rice fields, ponds, and slow rivers.

They have a labyrinth organ that acts as a lung, and you will observe them swimming to the top of the water to breathe.

The Sparkling Gourami is a dwarf when it comes to size, and it reaches a mere length of 1.6 inches. You can keep five or six of the fish in a small tank. Males are territorial, so it is better to keep females.

Use a low-powered filter because the fish does not do well in strong currents. They have adapted to low-oxygenated regions in the wild, so your tank does not need a powerful aeration setup.

The pet will respond to temperatures between 71.5 to 80.5°F and a PH range of between 6 to 8. Include a lot of plants and several decorations.

Sparkling Gouramis prey on insects in the wild, but they will welcome live and artificial food in aquariums.

The pet also makes sounds which are easily heard on the outside. If they are quiet, they might be stressed by their immediate environment.

3. Dwarf Puffer Fish

Dwarf Puffer Fish

Dwarf Puffer Fish

The Dwarf Puffer is native to the freshwater of the Pamba River in India. It will therefore not appreciate any addition of salt. Temperatures between 77 to 80°F and a PH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5 will do just fine.

At 1 inch in length, it is among the smallest species of the tetraodon family. Its eyes rotate independently of each other, and it is quite keen on the surrounding environment.

After some time, the Dwarf Puffer will begin recognizing its owner, and it will vie for your attention by swimming near the glass.

They are not sensitive to water parameters, but it is best to avoid extremes. Dwarf Puffers do not like any ammonia or nitrates content in the water, which is why you should schedule regular water changes and invest in a powerful filter.

It will, however, be stressed by strong water flow.

You can keep two or three of the fish in your nano tank. Males like territorial space, so you should have a lot of plants in your setup.

Dwarf puffers will eagerly feed on small snails and frozen feed like blood worms and brine shrimps.

4. Fancy Guppies

Fancy Guppies

Fancy Guppies

Besides their striking colors, fancy guppies are coveted for their ease-of-care and hardiness. These small pets also have a small bio-load, making them perfect for a 5-gallon tank.

You can keep a trio of males and females or a single gender in your small tank to start.

Fancy guppies are natives of South America, and you can try to mimic the water parameter of their host rivers. The temperature should be between 50 to 84°F with the PH between 7.0 to 7.2.

Consistency is vital with fancy guppies. Extreme fluctuation will influence the health of the pets.

Fancy guppies will appreciate animal and plant matter. The flake foods you get should be high on protein, which you can assess from the list of ingredients.

Vegetables like cucumber and lettuce will also be good for the guppies. Alternate the food you give the guppies to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

It is quite easy to take care of fancy guppies, but their long tails render them vulnerable to fungal infections. If you observe small white spots on their skin or see them rubbing themselves against objects, they could be suffering from Ich.

Fancy guppies are also prone to fin rot, which is easily addressed with medication.

5. Endler Guppies

Endler Guppies

Endler Guppies

Endler Guppies are one of the rarer guppy species, and they live in Venezuela’s Laguna de Patos. The lake appears green due to large populations of algae, and it was warm freshwater.

Your aquarium should be heavily-planted if you intend to keep the pet, and you should also include floating plants.

It is best to keep Endler guppies alone since they are quite small in size. They will reach a maximum length of 1.8 inches. Keep several males together, because mixing genders will make your tank loaded with fry.

If you opt to keep females, keep an even number as they can get territorial. Endler guppies are noted jumpers, so ensure you close the tank tightly.

Change the water in small amounts to avoid disturbing the guppy. Keep the PH between 6.7 to 8.5 and the temperature between 72 to 78°F.

The guppies will enjoy eating live and frozen food, and they especially like frozen bloodworms. Include vegetables like zucchini and peas in their diets.

6. Ember Tetra

Ember Tetra

Ember Tetra

Ember Tetras is one of the many tetra species. They have a fiery red body with an orange rim around their eyes.

The Ember Tetra is a resident of Brazil, where it seeks out slow waters around thick plantations.

The Ember Tetra is a mere 0.8 inches in size, making it perfect for nano tanks. Ensure that the tank does not have strong currents, and the temperature and PH should range between 73 to 84°F and 6.5 to 7.5, respectively.

Ember tetras are quite active, so it is best to provide a lot of plants to swim through. If you intend to fully display the colors of the fish, source for a dark substrate and contrasting decorations.

Floating plants will make the pet feel safe and add to the beauty of your tank. Include several of them in a single tank to make them feel comfortable.

Give the Ember Tetras a mix of frozen, live, and dry foods. Make small grains out of these foods as the fish has a small mouth.

The food Ember Tetras eat will affect their appearance and color, so make it as diverse as possible.

If you detect any signs of exhaustion and stress, try changing the diet. As with any other small fish, overfeeding is a problem with Ember Tetras.

7. Scarlet Badis (Dario Dario)

Scarlet Badis (Dario Dario)

Scarlet Badis (Dario Dario)

The Scarlet Badis is famed for its striking appearance, which varies with the gender. Females bear a silvery-grey color, in contrast to the bright red appearance in males. The fish is sourced from India’s Brahmaputra River Basin.

It prefers clear water and gravel or sandy bottom. The Scarlet Badis relies on plantation to establish its boundaries so you should avail several plants in your tank.

Males are more territorial so give them sufficient room to scout for territories. The water temperature should be between 71 to 79°F and the PH between 6.5 to 7.5.

Scarlet Badis are picky eaters. Provide such live food as mosquito larvae, daphnia, grindal worms, brine shrimp, tubifex, and cyclops. They can get obesity or other diseases if their diet is not diversified.

Scarlet Badis are especially sensitive to poor water quality, and they can easily contrast fungal diseases that will manifest on their bodies.

Breeding the Scarlet Badis is simple, but avail tank vegetation for them to lay their eggs. The female will lay about 80 eggs with an incubation period of two to three days.

8. Chili Rasbora

Chili Rasbora

Chili Rasbora (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The Chili Rasbora is not a real rasbora, and it was included in the Boraras genus in 1993. Its body is reddish with a dark line along its side. Another red stripe stretches on top of the dark one to create stunning contrast. It grows to just 0.7 inches, making it ideal for nano tanks.

The Chili Rasbora was first identified in “blackwater” wetlands in Banjarmasin located in the South of Borneo.

This water is generally soft, with a PH of below 5.0. Maintain this PH range with temperatures between 74 to 82°F.

To illuminate the colors of the fish, get fine-sized dark gravel. It will also welcome live plant cover, and you can add peat moss to lower the water’s PH naturally. Beneficial tannins will encourage good health in your Chili Rasboras.

Chili rasboras should not be exposed to strong currents. If you want to filter alot of water, distribute the water evenly across the tank to avoid disturbing the fish.

You can add structures like branches and driftwood to break up the currents.

Chili rasboras need subdued lighting, which is achievable with an LED light with a dimming capability.

Use plants to create shaded spots. The fish will appreciate a varied diet given in tiny particles.

9. Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras

The Pygmy Corydoras is an inch in size, making it unsuitable for a community tank. Being a shoaling fish, it is best to keep at least eight of the fish. It is a resident of South-Eastern Asia, where it has been recorded in blackwater rivers linked to peat swamps. This water is acidic and soft.

If kept in an aquarium, the temperature should be between 75 to 79°F and the PH between 4.5 to 6.5. Include a lot of floating plants to dim the light and use rocks to create shaded spaces.

Create more hiding spaces at the bottom with leaves that are suitable for a fish tank. The fish prefers leaves that stain water with tannins. You can use soft sand as a substrate.

The Pygmy Corydoras are quite sensitive, so it is best to establish your 5-gallon tank before adding them.

10. Brachygobius (Bumblebee Goby)

Brachygobius (Bumblebee Goby)

Brachygobius (Bumblebee Goby)

The Brachygobius has been recorded in Indonesia and Borneo in both brackish and freshwater.

The substrates in these habitats are comprised of silt, mud, and sand with rich organic matter like driftwood and leaf litter.

You should avail a lot of cover and hiding places in your 5-gallon aquarium if you intend to rear the Brachygobius.

The filtration should not be too strong. Temperature and PH should range between 22-28°C and 7.0-8.5, respectively.

Keep around six of the fish together in a tank. Males can be territorial, although multiple of them will help spread the hostility.

It will be most-receptive towards small live food.


Experienced aquarists know the importance of researching on the fish species one intends to rear. Small tropical fish will generally be better to keep in a 5-gallon tank.

Species like guppies, rasboras, bettas, and tetras can brighten up your nano tank with their attractive sheens.

A nano tank is quite sensitive to maintain, given its small nature. Ensure that waste does not overrun your setup and impact on the health of your pets.

Once you have narrowed down on the required water parameters for your preferred species, encourage consistency through water changes and efficient filtration.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *