Good Fish For A 5 Gallon Tank: What Really Does Work Best?

Good Fish For 5 Gallon Tank: What Really Does Work Best?

It’s an exciting time getting a new fish tank. The excitement rushes through you as you set it up so you can start to add your new fish. Once you have your new tank set up you ask:

What is a good fish for a 5-gallon tank?

Smaller tanks tend to be the first choice of fish tank for a lot of new keepers. I can see the logic. Guys, a five gallon is a lot of work though and you are fairly limited when it comes to stocking a 5-gallon fish tank.

There are some really great fish ideas for your new tank. These little dudes can be a pleasure to watch.

Some even have a feisty little attitude!

So let’s look into stocking this bad boy. What is the first good fish for 5-gallon tank?

Stunning Blue Betta Fish: Good fish for 5 gallon tank

The Betta Fish a.k.a Siamese Fighting Fish

First, on the list, we have the Betta fish (Betta splendens), which is sometimes known as Siamese fighting fish.

These little guys are nippy and very aggressive.

You may have seen these fish in jars, bowls, and weird looking tanks. This is cruel and not how we should be looking after our fish. The minimum tank size is 2.5 gallon for these fish.

They do need a proper filtration system. When you buy your fish tank you really need to keep this in mind. A five-gallon should hold a filter on the back fine.

Betta’s originate from Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia and can be found in the river basins of the Mekong and Chao Phraya rivers. As they come from hotter climates you are going to have to consider a heater for your tank.

No Betta wants to be cold!

In a 5-gallon aquarium, you are only gonna want to keep one betta like I said they can be very aggressive. Some Bettas will happily share a tank but others will fight to the death.

It really depends on how aggressive your individual fish is. You can also take some inspiration from these betta tank ideas on Spiffy Pet Products.

#endler #endlers #endlerlivebearer #endlerslivebearers #endlerslivebearer

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The Endlers Livebearer: The Guppy Cousin!

From an extremely aggressive fish to an extremely placid fish.

The Endlers livebearer (Poecilia wingei) is a great addition and comes from Laguna de Patos in Venezuela.

These are very similar to guppies but are very small and in some cases will never surpass an inch in size. Like guppies, you should aim to keep a minimum of three and stick to the 2 females to one male ratio.

Males will harass the females to mate.

They are very sensitive to water parameters probably due to their small size. Make sure you have a heater they don’t do well in cold waters. For PH aim for around 5.5 and 8.

The Endler Livebearer is a very passive fish so when it comes to tankmates you need to choose a fish that is pretty passive. If not your Endler’s will get picked on by the more feisty fish.

Dwarf Puffer Sometimes Known As A Pea Puffer

Dwarf Puffer: That Is One Mean Fish

Up next is the Dwarf Puffer(Carinotetraodon travancoricus) sometimes known as the Pea Puffer. They come from the freshwaters of Kerala and southern Karnataka in Southwest India.

These little guys will not usually get much bigger than an inch. This makes them a perfect choice for a 5-gallon tank.

I wouldn’t suggest any more than one puffer in a 5-gallon tank as they are very territorial.

When you aquascape your tank you need to think of places for these guys to hide. They are active fish and like to be on the move. If you have more than one in a bigger tank more vegetation will lower the number of fights you have.

As for water parameters, I would suggest a PH of 7.2 to 7.5 but guys, just make sure it’s consistent. For temperature 74-82 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for these little guys.

These fish are totally carnivorous so you are best feeding them on a variety of frozen or live foods. You need to vary it so they do not develop any deficiencies.

Least Killifish: They Like The Peaceful Life

These fish are pretty hard to source but if you are lucky enough they will do great in a 5-gallon tank. They are really passive and come from the same family as guppies and mollies.

Yeah not really a killifish, they are a livebearer.

But a lot of people know these creatures as the Least Killifish.

You will find these in the United States, mainly in South Carolina, South Georgia and Florida. Just now a lot of people have wild caught fish in their home aquariums.

So what about their care?

They like the PH to be around 7-8 but as long as you keep it consistent. For the temperature 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Again just keep it consistent.

They will breed very easily.

Due to their small size, you will see the female depositing little fry near enough daily. The fry will stay out the road to avoid being eaten by the larger fish.

Male Dwarf Crayfish

Dwarf Crayfish: The Easily Pleased Fish

Not really a fish as such but they are great for a five-gallon tank. They have a lovely bright orange color which makes them great to watch.

For a five gallon aquarium, I would suggest no more than one but you could keep a small fish with them. I would say one Dwarf Crayfish per 3 gallons of water.

Unlike the larger crayfish, this little guy is way less aggressive. This is probably due to their small size.

You really need to consider adding vegetation because they like hiding places, it makes them feel safe. This gives them a place to molt also.

Yes, they will lose their shell every now and again.

When they molt they are very vulnerable amongst other fish. So having a place to hide is very beneficial to protect them.

For water parameters keep the PH consistent and around 6-8. For temperature, you have quite a large range of 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beautiful Cherry Shrimp Image

Cherry Shrimp: Just Watch The Tankmates

Red Cherry Shrimp originate from Taiwan and are fun to watch grazing in your aquarium. They are also a source of food for other fish. Keep this in mind if you are hoping to keep your shrimps as a display then they will be safer in their own tank.

They are pretty hardy and will adapt to most aquariums. They like a temperature around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. As for PH around 6.4 and 7.6 is best.

They are quite easy to sex, the males are clear and small and the females are plump and red.

Most of the cherry shrimps will grow to around an inch in size. In a five-gallon tank 5 cherry shrimp would be comfortable.

These little guys eat algae so live plants like Java moss is great for them to graze on. They won’t kill your live plants.

They just graze for algae.

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Rosy Loach: Rather Underrated

These little fish are so underrated but they are great for smaller tanks. They can be found in the wild in Myanmar. If you have a five-gallon tank then you can probably house around 8 of these little hovering loaches.

Don’t ever get just one of these little guys. They need to be kept in groups!

Males will only get about an inch. A female will get around an inch and half. They are really outgoing and will do well with most other friendly fish.

As for the water they are pretty easy going. Keep the PH consistent around 6-8 and keep the temperature around 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit.

They do prefer cooler temperatures.

Rosy Loaches is great addition for a small planted tanks.

Dwarf Rasbora: Tiny & Feisty

We are going really small with these little dudes. Dwarf Rasbora fish can normally be found in the wild around Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand.

They are pretty small and don’t really reach the inch.

You can easily differentiate them with their little black dot around their caudal peduncle and on the side of their bodies. Over time in a dim planted aquarium you can really see the cherry red around their dorsal fin come through.

They do best in really soft water that is why plants are great.

Dwarf Rasbora are great to be kept with shrimp because they have a really low predator instinct. The only shrimp they will predate on is the shrimp fry.

To see them really active it is best to keep them in groups. Males can be pretty feisty but with plenty plants, you should be fine as they can hide out the road. It is impossible to sex the males and females.

As for water, they like a PH around 4.5-6.5 and a water temperature of 75-79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scarlet Badis: The Bad Ass!

So these guys may be really small but they make up for it with attitude. Should it maybe be Scarlet Bad-Ass Badis?

The Scarlet Badis comes from Brahmaputra River in parts of West Bengal and Assam states of India.

Now why Bad-Ass?

Males will set up little 8-inch squares (their patch) and they will defend their territory. They will fight continuously until they achieve dominance in their little square. Having a five gallon is fine but get dense plants in there to separate these guys.

You will more than likely get a male, females are really hard to come by. As they are pretty small they are extremely hard to sex. In general, females lack the red colouring that the males have.

If the male is dominant you will see a blue taint.

For the water keep the temperature around 64 and 68 degrees farenheight. For the PH you want around 6.5 to 8.5.

African Dwarf Frogs: Silly Little Frogs

OK, so not a fish but they are great for a five-gallon tank. I am talking about African Dwarf Frogs, sometimes known as aquatic frogs.

In the wild, these can be found in the forested parts of Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon in the north, and south through Gabon and east throughout the Congo River Basin.

They are really slow eaters which makes them harder to feed. You need something that can stay in the water for a while.

I would suggest frozen bloodworms or blackworms.

If you have fish in the same tank you will need to ensure that the frogs are getting their food.

Fish are a lot faster at eating than frogs.

When you get your frog they will normally be about an inch. As they mature they will grow to around 2.5 inches.

So no more than two in a five-gallon tank.

They are pretty shy so keep plenty vegetation, driftwood or rock for them to hide out of the way. For the water, you want a PH around 7 and a water temperature of 75-79 degrees Fahrenheit.

You Should Never Keep A Goldfish In A 5 Gallon Tank

It Is A Cardinal Sin To Keep These Fish In A Five Gallon

Now you know what fish you can keep, let’s look at the fish you should never keep.

Do you remember the days when you would get a goldfish in a bag at the fair?

Your parents wouldn’t be too chuffed as now you need a tank and everything else. They, however, wore a smile and congratulated you for your efforts.

When this was the common practice a lot of goldfish ended up mysteriously disappearing or ending up in a tank that was far too small for their requirements.

Or even worse:

In a bowl.

Thank god these fairground practices are over!

So let me be the one to look out for all the new fish as they start their journey.

Can you guess the first fish that should never be kept in a five gallon?

Read More: Best Fish Tanks: My Recommendations

Common Goldfish

The common goldfish probably ends up in a 5 gallon more often than any other breed.

These fish can grow up to 12 inches.

They may be a couple of inches when you buy them but they do grow.

This is not the only reason not to house this species of fish in a small tank. Goldfish are heavy waste producers and in smaller tanks, it does not take a lot to knock the water parameters off.

A goldfish is also an active fish, so in a smaller tank, he will not be able to dart around the way he could in a larger tank.

This could cause him to get stressed.

Fish get stressed very easily, if the water goes off or if they are scared or if they are ill and if they are in a small tank.

A stressed fish could DIE!

If your goal is to keep a common goldfish then you are going to need at least a 40-gallon aquarium and this will only be big enough for one.

A 50 – 60 would be best for two common goldfish.

Read More: Choose The Best Size Of Tank For Your Common Goldfish

Crystal clear water with the aquaclear 70 power filter, great for goldfish

Fancy Goldfish

So what about a fancy goldfish if a common is out of the question?

This is definitely a smaller species of goldfish. A fancy goldfish will probably on grow to about 8 inches if the conditions are right.

Fancies are heavy waste producers too so you would need to do very frequent and large water changes. A large water change is not good for any fish no matter how hardy it is.

These alone can kill some fish.

Again with the fancy variety, you have an active and social fish. Your 5-gallon tank isn’t going to cut it. I would recommend no smaller than a 20-gallon tank for this species.

Add 10 gallons for every other fancy goldfish.


Now you might think these little guys would do ok in a 5-gallon tank. If we follow the inch to a gallon of water rule then we could house 2 guppies.

Guppies are social creatures and they love to swim about and hide.

Now three guppies would probably live in a 5 gallon but it would be far from optimal. In your tank, you will need a filter, heater and your decor.

This all takes swimming space from your guppies.

Now your guppy can grow to about 2 inches. That’s six inches for three guppies. I wouldn’t keep less than three. Remember these are social creatures.

So six inches means you would need 6 gallons of water.

You only have five… well, probably less than five by the time you add everything else.

Fo guppies the smallest tank I would recommend would be 10 gallons. That would be great for 3-4 guppies.

If you want to set up your first guppy tank, check out this article here.

Neon Tetra

Ok, you might be a little confused here.

Neon tetras only grow to a couple of inches. That satisfies the 1 inch per gallon rule. So I can keep 2 Neons.


Hold your horses.

Neons are schooling fish and when kept in tiny groups they freak.

They hide out the way. Little Neons are actually very fearful fish. Probably due to their size. They need a group of at least 5 Neons to feel safe.

So if you want to keep this species you will need a 10 gallon at the absolute minimum.

Just remember no less than 5 fish.

In fact, I would probably recommend 10 Neons.

You can check out this article for more information on Neon Tetra tank size.

Pretty Much Any Schooling Fish

If you do your research and you see that a fish is a schooling fish. You will need to take this into consideration when choosing your tank. Schooling fish may get scared in small numbers, if they get scared they may die.

Above I showed you so a number of fish that you could stock a five gallon with, so stick to them. If you think of another species then simply do your research before you rush out and spend your money on a tank.

Taking the time to understand your fish will lead to a much more successful aquarium.

Image Of Schooling Fish In The Wild

There You Have It 10 Good Fish For 5 Gallon Tank

Now you know what you should and shouldn’t keep in your 5-gallon go out and enjoy the hobby. Just remember with smaller tanks you will need to be a lot more vigilant with your water changes.

Do frequent tests and watch for Ammonia and Nitrates. If they are rising take quick action to prevent the fish suffering.

Ammonia will starve your fish of oxygen, this will lead to death.

Sticking with smaller numbers of fish would always be my recommendation. Why?

Because you can really get creative with the aquascaping. You could consider adding some hardy live plants or rocks.

The fish you do have will thank you for it!

So that’s all for today I hope this has helped you pick a good fish for your 5-gallon tank!

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