Best Fish for 1 Gallon Tank: Stocking & Setup Ideas

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best fish for 1 gallon tank stocking

Aquarists may find themselves with a 1 gallon tank on their hands and need to know what kind of aquatic life is best for that size. There are many fish that would be great for a one-gallon tank, some more suitable than others.

But before you go ahead with purchasing fish for this type of tank, it’s important to know if they are compatible with this size of the tank and compatible with each other so they will not hurt or bother each other during their stay inside your tank.

We have made a list of stocking Ideas for a 1 gallon fish tank which you can refer to while selecting your fish. In this article, we will go over the pros and cons of different types of small freshwater fish. 

1- Guppies Fish

Listed as one of the best fish for 1 gallon tank, guppies are great starter fish. They can live up to 2 to 3 years if cared for well. These small colored fishes are small in size, but this does not mean they will stay inside the tank where there’s limited space once fully grown up. As they grow, bigger is better to keep them in at least a 5 gallon fish tank.

best fish for 1 gallon tank guppies fish

Guppies are the ideal choice for your 1 gallon tank because they are active and will swim around the tank from time to time. You can combine one male guppy with two female guppies inside a 1 gallon fish tank. There is a small chance of them harming one another if kept in a limited space for a long period of time.

The ideal temperature for them is between 72°F-77°F, with a pH range of 6.0-7.5 and water hardness of 5-19 dGH. As livebearers, Guppies are very sensitive to changes in the quality of their environment, so it’s important to maintain stable parameters at all times.

2 – Bettas Fish

Bettas are known to be one of the most popular, colorful, and easily kept fish. Bettas are beautiful fish that have a friendly nature. They’re easy to keep and inexpensive to purchase. Bettas come in many colors, including red, orange, yellow, blue, white/cream, green, black, and even purple!

best fish for 1 gallon tank Bettas fish

Bettas need an aquarium that’s at least 1 gallon in size – bigger is better! Bettas like to live alone and dominate the tank; that’s why they are your best stocking idea for your 1 gallon tank. The reason why you will be forced to buy a bigger Betta fish tank for your Bettas is that they love open space and swim around chasing each other (in case they live with other Bettas) or play with toys. So the more space they have, the happier they’ll be.

The aquarium temperature should be between 78°F and 83°F. You can use a tank heater to achieve this temperature. Bettas are very sensitive to cold temperatures, which is why you need to be careful with and use an aquarium heater. Also, remember that bigger tanks are less affected by fluctuations in room temperature.

3- Tetra Fish

Tetra fish are a kind of small fish. Tetras have a lot of color varieties and are very active swimmers that can live up to 2-3 years. They also come in many different sizes and shapes, which makes the fish more interesting to watch as it swims all around your 1 gallon tank.

best fish for 1 gallon tank Tetra fish

Tetra fish tank requirements are not that strict. The usual water temperature for them is between 70°F-75°F, pH 5.8-7.5, and dGH hardness 4-18. Tetra fish are quite hardy, so you don’t have to worry much about tank conditions as long as it remains stable.

Tetra fish behavior can be a little aggressive. The best stocking for a 1 gallon tank is to put 3 fish only as a group, and they will play around the tank a lot. Compatible fish species are Black Phantom Tetra, Glowlight Tetra, Congo Tetra, and Neon Tetras fish which can leave together in a bigger aquarium. To keep it happy within its small tank, you need to provide lots of places to hide to reduce its stress level.

4- Goldfish

The Goldfish is hardy, long-lived, and active. The common goldfish can grow to 12-14 inches (30-35 cm) in length, but generally, they don’t get bigger than 8 inches (20 cm). Fancy varieties are much smaller, about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm). You can keep a 3-inch Goldfish in your 1 gallon tank.

best fish for 1 gallon tank Goldfish

If you plan on keeping a big Goldfish for a long time, it’s best to go for a specific tank and not a 1 gallon tank, so it has enough room to swim around.

If you want your goldfish to live for years, it will need plenty of space because the common Goldfish grows up to 14 inches! You can start keeping a Goldfish in a 1-gallon tank, and while he grows, you can transfer it into a bigger tank. We recommended a 20-gallon fish tank for a large Goldfish.

5- Dwarf Pufferfish

The Dwarf Pufferfish, or Carinotetraodon travancoricus, is an interesting fish that requires a bit more care than most 1 gallon tanks are able to provide, even tho you can keep it in a 1 gallon tank. If the Dwarf Pufferfish has plenty of hiding spots and places to explore, it can be fairly calm, but activity should still be monitored closely.

best fish for 1 gallon tank dwarf pufferfish

The Dwarf Pufferfish will eat just about everything you feed it, including flakes, frozen or freeze-dried foods that sink to the bottom, algae wafers/flakes, shrimp pellets, etc. Though if you are regularly feeding it meaty foods, make sure to supplement with algae wafers as well for proper nutrients. 

They tend not to do well in aquariums with strong currents or with larger fish that might see them as food.

Keeping Dwarf Pufferfish in a 1 gallon tank with other fish is not recommended. In a tank with no current or competition from other fish, they can be fairly calm, though it should still be watched for signs of stress such as excessive gill flaring and puffing up, etc. Don’t keep them in tanks that are too shallow, or else you risk damaging their barrels.

5- Mollies Fish

Mollies have medium-sized bodies with bright silver tails and dark vertical stripes along their sides. Male mollies have an orange or white belly, while the females are gray-brown.

best fish for 1 gallon tank Mollies Fish

Mollies are some of the most popular aquarium fish out there. They can be considered the best fish for a 1-gallon tank because they can survive in a small tank, and many people choose to have multiple species of Mollies living together.

Mollies have quite sensitive to temperature changes. They will be happiest if kept between 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). They can adapt to a wide range of pH levels but would prefer slightly more acidic water with a pH between 7.0 and 8.0.

6- Southern Platyfish

The Southern Platy fish is one of the few tropical fish that can be kept in a 1 gallon tank! Their body is flat and roundish with a mild horizontal curve just before the tail fin, which gives them their name “platy,” meaning flat.

best fish for 1 gallon tank Southern Platyfish

Platyfish are active, peaceful fish. They have a lifespan of 5 years or more. They like to hide among plants or decor made from materials such as plastic, silk, or ceramic tile without being seen easily unless you look closely.

A 1 gallon tank set up for Southern Platyfish should include live aquarium plants (preferably Java Moss) that they will enjoy sleeping under; these flat little fish like to hide during the daytime but become active during nighttime. You can also keep a few snails in the tank as they will not harm plants and provide an extra activity for your fish to watch and play with.

7- Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios is an ideal fish for a colorful, active community aquarium under average conditions. This schooling fish grows to four inches long, and it has two black stripes down each side of the body. It has a broad band of bright yellow or gold on its flanks and a bright blue iris in the eye. These beautiful fish are available in attractive color combinations, including calico, red, blue, and silver, with white markings.

best fish for 1 gallon tank zebra danios

Zebra Danios can live in a 1 gallon tank, but they are best kept in a school of 8 or more adult fish. A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended for keeping Zebra Danios, and the bigger the tank, the better. Well-planted tanks with rocks, driftwood, and live plants will provide hiding places, offer cover for breeding and allow space to swim at different levels.

Zebra Danios is an active schooling fish that will be most content when kept in groups of eight or more. Keeping this species in small groups ensures each fish receives adequate attention from its schoolmates, and it will be less likely to stress out easily. 

It can also reduce aggressive tendencies between members of large social groups by providing occupants with companionship and security within an established hierarchy of dominance.

8- Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmies have a lifespan of about five years if properly cared for by aquarists. Their maximum size is no more than 1 inch. They are nocturnal fish that have spines on their body. The male can be differentiated from the female by his thicker first ray on the pectoral fins.

best fish for 1 gallon tank Pygmy Corydoras

The natural habitat of this fascinating little catfish is the tiny, densely grown-up tributaries and small watercourses where they travel along in these tight spaces with practically no room for anything else. In captivity, they can be kept in a 1 gallon tank with no problem. 

Pygmy corydoras is beloved by many aquarists because it is easy to care for; it has a very peaceful temperament; it’s attractive; it doesn’t grow too large; it is affordable, and last but not least, it’s made an ideal choice for your 1 gallon fish tank.


A 1 gallon fish tank is an excellent starter tank for any aquarist. When choosing the best fish for your 1 gallon you are left with a lot of unanswered questions. Here will answer some of the most common questions about these small tanks. 

Q: Can a Betta fish live in a 1 gallon tank?

The answer is yes, but it’s not ideal. A 1 gallon tank will only provide enough space for the fish and maybe some decorations like plants or rocks. You won’t be able to add any other inhabitants like shrimp or snails because there’s no room left over for them. 

This type of tank works best as an emergency backup plan if you find your old tanks cracked and leaking everywhere!

Q: How many Guppies can live in a 1 gallon tank?

The two main variables we’ll consider here are: (1) the size of the tank and (2) water quality. If we have strong, high-quality water conditions, then 2-3 Guppies should do well in a 1 gallon tank. However, if we have poor water quality, it can be problematic. 

Q: Can I breed Guppies in a 1 gallon tank?

The short answer is no, and here’s why. Guppies can grow to be about 4 inches long, and females may give birth to as many as 50 fries at a time! That means you’ll need an aquarium with at least 10 gallons of water if you plan on breeding Guppies. 

In addition, the fry will need feedings every 2-3 hours, so they don’t starve to death. Clearly, this isn’t feasible for your average one-gallon fishbowl or jar!

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I am Mario, a experienced fish keepr and the editor-in-chief of Epic Aquarium.

At Epic Aquarium, we take our commitment to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews very seriously. Our team carefully reviews each product, and we only recommend the very best in terms of quality. We also consult with leading fish keeper experts to ensure that each article is based on the most reliable and up-to-date information available.

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