Are you considering getting a five gallon fish tank, but not sure what fish to house? There are so many to choose from that it can become confusing; additionally, there are some fish that are not suited for a five gallon tank, which limits your stocking options. Millions of people around the world keep fish in their homes, and if you want to become a part of the tribe, then keep reading to find out the 17 best fish for 5 gallon tanks.
1. Celestial Pearl Danio:
Celestial pearl danio are also known as Galaxy Rasboras or CPDs. These are great fish for 5 gallon tanks because they can survive in temperatures between 72-75 degrees F which is ideal for a small group. CPDs are similar to schooling fish, but they are not the same. The males gather together in a small territory, and the females make their way through.
The males will put on a display in the hopes of attracting a mate, and they will also make sure that their competition is kept out of the way. When stocking your tank, it’s important that you have an even number of males and females, because if there are too many males, they will fight each other for the females.
Size: Up to 1 inch
Temperament: Territorial, peaceful
2. Red Cherry Shrimp:
These fish are not at all picky about where they live, they thrive in a variety of water conditions, and spend the majority of their time grooming moss and plants for scraps of food and algae. There are a range of colors for Red Cherry Shrimp, and while the most expensive are a very bright red, the other popular colors include yellow, black, and blue. Shrimp have a very low bioload, which means they can live alongside the majority of fish, except for Pea Puffers because Red Cherry Shrimp are food to them.
Size: 1 inch
3. Sparkling Gourami:
Sparkling Gourami also breathe in air, but only partially. In their natural habitat, they prefer canals and still swamps where temperatures are high, and oxygen levels are low. Even if you put a lot of aeration in your tank, you’ll often see Sparkling Gourami coming up to the surface for a breath of fresh air. Their males are aggressive towards each other, so don’t have more than one in your tank, and give him one or two females. You should also add weedy and thick plants such as Hornwort and Guppy to the tank, because they enjoy hiding amongst them.
Size: 5 inches
Temperament: Territorial, peaceful
4. Scarlet Badis:
Badis are not the most common fish, though they come in a variety of shades, with scarlet being the most popular. They are micro predators and hunt for small plankton and invertebrates at the bottom of the river. Scarlet Badis are not concerned about any other fish, but the males are very aggressive towards each other. Even in a large tank, they fight to kill, but you can keep one male in a tank with up to two females.
They are also slightly challenging because they have a preference for live food. They enjoy eating micro worms, daphnia, and baby brine shrimp. Scarlet Badis are most likely to bypass pellets or flakes.
Size: 3/4 inch
Temperament: Territorial, peaceful
5. Betta Fish:
Betta fish are perfect fish for 5 gallon tanks because they prefer cramped and shallow environments. Betta fish are anti-social though, they’re quite aggressive and will fight with other fish that enter their territory, so it’s best to keep them on their own. Bettas are very attractive, with their elegant coloring and wide fin packs, they’ll most definitely give your tank the wow factor.
Size: 3 inches
6. Clown Killifish:
In their natural habitat, the Clown Killifish thrive in water holes, swamps, and marshes. You will also hear them referred to as Banded Panchax or Rocket Killies. Although they are peaceful fish, they are predators, so they will need live prey such as walter worms, vinegar eels, small daphnia, and mosquito larvae instead of flakes and pellets. They will need slow moving water, and because of their size, it’s important to house them with other small fish .
They are not very social with other fish though, so they are more confident in groups of 10. Clown Killifish also prefer bright lights, and in the right conditions they’ll survive for about five years.
Size: Up to 3 inches
7. Neon Tetra:
Neon Tetras need a filter and heat to break down their waste. Despite the name, they don’t glow in the dark, but their scales are very reflective. Neon Tetras are very timid, so they do best with similar fish in size and temperament. Neon’s don’t feed much, but they do feed often, three times a day is normal for them. They enjoy eating black mosquito larvae, daphnia, brine shrimp, frozen bloodworm, micro granules, and fish flakes.
Size: Up to 2 ½ inches
8. White Cloud Mountain Minnow:
Also known as Canton Minnow and Cardinal Fish, they are often mistakenly called Danios. They will live for up to seven years. White Clouds are very peaceful except for during their mating season, during which time the males become territorial and aggressive. They cooperate well in their environment otherwise, and will feed and swim in coordinated shoals.
They enjoy being in schools of between five and six, and are not as timid when they are in larger schools. White clouds don’t compete with or harass their tank mates, which makes them perfect community fish. As long as they feel comfortable and safe in their group, they are not shy. White Clouds are tiny, with streamlined, thin bodies and pointed snouts.
In their natural habitat, they live in clear streams with a moderate flow that are slightly acidic. They are strong fish and can tolerate a variety of water quality fluctuations and temperatures. The best temperature for them to live in is between 64 and 72 degrees F, but being in temperatures as low as 41 degrees F also works for them. White Clouds originate from the Pearl River, in China, it is the most bio-diverse river.
They share their space with the Paradise Fish, Weather Loaches, and Gold Barbs. They can also live with Horseface Loaches, Dojo, and Cherry Rosy Barbs. However, their ideal mates are the Dwarf Gourami because they are very peaceful. These fish are micro-predators and their diet should include an equal balance of pellet foods, flake, greenery, and live prey. Brine shrimp, water fleas, and tubiflex are their preference.
Size: 1.5 inches
9. Endler’s Livebearer:
Also known as Poecilla Wingei, Endler’s Livebearer are a beautiful freshwater species that are easy to take care of. They are often mistaken for Guppies because they’re very similar in size and shape, but they are distinguishable because of their extremely bright colors. They don’t live for longer than three years, and their natural habitat is in the Laguna De Patos, it’s a very warm lake containing plenty of algae.
These fish prefer hard water with a high pH level; they can survive in different temperature ranges, but the ideal temperature for them is moderate. Live plants are shelter and food for the fish, when they spawn, vulnerable fry will hide within live plants. Endler’s Livebearers eat more or less anything because they’re omnivores. Therefore, you can feed them on a diet of pellets or dry flakes, you can also feed them high-protein foods such as black worms, shrimp, baby brine, daphnia, and bloodworms.
Size: 1.8 inches
Temperament: Sometimes territorial
10. Asian Stone Catfish:
Asian Stone Catfish are tiny with a rock like appearance, they are very shy, and if you have them in your tank, you won’t see them much during the day. However, when in groups of 3-5, they are a lot more confident, but they are easily dominated by larger fish. They are extremely sensitive and must be kept in stable water conditions, and sudden change in such things as oxygen levels or temperature can be dangerous for them.
These fish prefer to spend their days surrounded by plants, so you’ll need to stock your tank with light plants such as anubias, java fern, and mosses. Keep the water temperature between 72-78 degrees F, and feed them small live foods such as bloodworms and daphnia.
Size: 1 inch
11. Pygmy Sunfish:
These tiny fish are very shy, they spend the majority of their day at the bottom of the pond hiding under leaf litter. To replicate their natural habitat, your tank will need to have a lot of plants, you will also need to subdue the lights, this can be done with floating plants. The Pygmy Sunfish are not in the least bit aggressive, although when spawning males create their space, they will chase off other males who attempt to encroach on their territory.
If these fish do fight, they don’t cause much damage. When they are not around their own kind, they’ll avoid active and large fish, so it’s best to keep them alone or house them with other small fish with a similar temperament. These fish are most suited to the Dwarf Mosquitofish because they are non-confrontational, reserved, and produce live fry consistently, which the Pygmy Sunfish can eat. They can eat the majority of live or frozen foods including black worms, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, and brine.
Size: Up to 1.4 inches
You won’t need to heat up the tank for goldfish because they’re cold water fish. However, keep the water temperature stable or you’ll shock the fish. Goldfish like to socialize, so you’ll need to house them with other fish, but not too many or the water can become polluted and they’ll start bullying each other. Keep the tank out of reach from other pets that may cause them harm, and also away from equipment that will make loud noises such as sound systems and televisions.
Place some caves and tunnels in the tank so the goldfish can have some alone time when they want it. Plants will also give them something to occupy their time, but don’t put too many things in the tank, because they need enough room to freely swim around. Feed your goldfish with commercial foods that contain all the nutrients they need, it’s available in flake form. Feed them twice a day according to the instructions on the packet, if there is any food left in the tank, it means you’re giving them too much food. Scoop the remains out with a net and make sure to reduce the amount on their next feed.
Size: Up to 2 inches
13. Amano Shrimp:
These popular freshwater fish are available in most pet stores. They are also known as Japanese Swamp Shrimp, Japanese Marsh Shrimp, Yamato Numa Ebi, Japonica Amano Shrimp, Yamato Shrimp, Swamp Shrimp, Algae Eating Shrimp, Caridina Japonica, and Caridina Yamato Shrimp. They enjoy being in water with plenty of live aquarium plants that give them something to climb on.
They also enjoy looking for places to hide or perch by swimming between plants. In general, these fish are translucent gray in color, but they can also be light reddish-brown, light brown, and different shades of green. Amano Shrimp are easy to care for, they are versatile creatures and don’t mind the size of the group they live in. They are comfortable being out of sight, or out in the open exploring their environment.
Add aquarium plants to the tank because they enjoy having something to pick on. Although these fish are hardy and adaptable, they thrive better in established waters. Amano shrimp will not live longer than three years. These fish enjoy eating soft forms of algae, their feeding can also include, blanched spinach, raw green zucchini, algae wafers, fish food flakes, fish pellets, and shrimp pellets.
Size: Up to 2 inches
14. Common Molly:
These freshwater fish are very exotic looking and will add vibrancy and diversity when it comes to fish for 5 gallon tanks. They are very similar to the guppy, and are often mistaken for them. Some experts claim that they are interrelated because they’re genes are so similar. Mollies are very hardy fish, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular. They are low maintenance as well, so first time fish owners will find it easy to care for them. Found in the majority of fish stores; mollies are rarely aggressive, but there are things that will trigger aggressive behavior with them such as other aggressive fish or a crowded tank.
These fish like being around other fish, and will travel in groups. It’s advised that if you’ve got more than a pair, keep more females than males because males have a tendency to act up and make the females feel uncomfortable. As long as they’re in the right conditions, mollies can live for up to five years. In the world, these fish feed off invertebrates, as well as algae and plants in the wild. You can feed them blanched vegetables such as lettuce and spinach, but they will also eat pellets and fish flakes. To ensure they get enough protein, feed them Brine Shrimp Handy and bloodworms.
Size: Up to 4.5 inches
15. Cory Catfish:
Cory Catfish are easy to care for and peaceful, during the day they spend the majority of their time at the bottom of the tank, then they come out and socialize at night. The only time you’ll see them come to the surface is when they need some air, which means they can live in water with low oxygen levels. Cory are peaceful fish, and you’ll never see them attacking their tank mates; in fact, when they feel threatened, they’ll hide. Their temperament makes them more easy to pair with the majority of community fish.
They live for around five years, but some species are known to live for up to 20 years. Since these fish are tropical, they need to be in water that’s between 70-78 degrees F. It’s also important to keep the temperature consistent, because any sudden changes can cause stress. In the wild, cory catfish eat larvae from the substrate, worms, and small insects. When vegetable matter falls into the water, they also eat that. Outside of their natural habitat, these fish will eat the majority of basic foods such as sinking pellets and flake foods.
They also enjoy daphina, bloodworms, algae wafers, shrimp pellets, and bottom feeder tablets. To ensure they get all their nutrients in, change their food source every few days.
Size: 0.75-4 inches
16. Dwarf Gourami:
Out of the gourami species, the dwarf is the most beautiful. These regal looking freshwater fish are native to the slow-flowing lakes, rice fields, ponds, and rivers of Southern Asia. They are a well-loved fish because they are easy to look after, and they’re small. They typically live for around five year, but if they are exceptionally well-taken care of, they can live for longer. They are schooling fish, and enjoy sticking with their own kind because it makes them feel more secure and comfortable. The majority of the time, they can be found at the middle or top of the tank.
They swim slowly, and like hiding, Dwarf Gourami are timid fish and won’t cause any trouble with their tank mates. They don’t like being around rowdy species, and will hide away when they come out. Males are known to become protective over females, but if there’s enough space, they’ll get over it pretty quickly.
Dwarf Gourami don’t like loud noises, and they’ll hide when startled. These fish can be fed both artificial and live foods. If you are going to feed them artificial foods, flakes are the better option because they provide the most nutritional value.
Size: Up to 4.5 inches
These are the most popular freshwater fish. They belong to the Cichlidaw family and are exceptionally graceful swimmers. They prefer water temperatures between 78 and 84 degrees F. In general, angelfish are peaceful, but they can get aggressive with each other when they are trying to go off and spawn. Additionally, they have no problems eating smaller fish. These fish are omnivores and they thrive on shrimp pellets, tropical granules, color flakes, and aqueon tropical flakes.
They can also eat live or frozen foods, but feed them no more than twice a day, and whatever they eat within three minutes is the amount you should feed them. Angelfish need a lot of space to accommodate their size. Keep a gentle water flow, and arrange large driftwood and broadleaf plants in the tank to keep them stimulated.
Size: 3 inches in length, 6 inches in height
Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked about the best fish for 5 gallon tanks.
How many fish can you put in a 5 gallon tank?
- The answer depends on the size of the fish. One gallon can hold one inch of a fully grown fish.
What is the biggest fish you can put in a 5 gallon tank?
- The size of the fish that can fit into your tank depends on a variety of factors, including tank length and height, and even the fish itself.
What can live in a 5 gallon tank besides fish?
- African dwarf frogs, snails, crabs, seahorses, and geckos.
What is the most low maintenance fish?
- There are several fish that are considered low maintenance, these include; goldfish, swordtail, black molly, platies, and bettas.
How often should I change water in a 5 gallon tank?
Change the water at least once a week.
Setting up a small fish tank can be challenging, but once you find the right fish, everything is in order, and you’ve got a thriving aquarium right in the comfort of your own home, it’s wildly satisfying. And you’ve now got a great selection of fish for 5 gallon tanks in this article. Fish are not like other animals, and as long as they’re fed, the water’s changed, and you’ve got the right tools in the tank, fish are very easy to please.
Hi, my name is Adam and I’m an aquarium enthusiast! I didn’t discover the joys of being an ‘aquarium fanatic’ (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20’s. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!