Best Fish for 5 Gallon Tanks: How Many Fish Can You Keep?

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If you’re interested in setting up a 5 gallon fish tank, then check out some of these fish that will keep your little water world interesting. You probably want to avoid anything that will need a large space, as in a 5 gallon fish tank, there isn’t much room for those types of fish. But how do you know which one can survive in a 5 gallon tank? 

There are many types of small fish available today that make great choices for someone who wants an interesting addition to their 5 gallon tank without having too much maintenance or trouble keeping it alive. This article lists the best fish for 5 gallon tank that could be perfect for that situation.

How Many Fish Can Be In A 5-Gallon Tank? 

A 5-gallon tank is a great size for an aquarium starter kit. It’s small enough to not use up too much space but big enough that you can have some fun decorating it with plants and rocks! But what about the fish? How many fish can I put in my 5-gallon tank? 

Fish for 5 Gallon Tanks stocking ideas

You can keep up to 5 small fish in a tank this size, but that depends on the fish species. The best way is by making sure each one isn’t larger than 2 inches because the water will get too crowded for their habitats, and oxygen levels may decrease when there are so many other animals sharing space with them!

In a 5 gallon fish tank, you can stock 2 to 5 schooling fish like Guppies or one small fish like Bettas.

5 gallon tanks are typically used as hospital tanks or quarantine tanks, but they can also be used as small community aquariums if necessary. Community aquariums usually have either one type of schooling fish (i.e., Guppies, Tetra fish) or an assortment of different types of non-aggressive species (i.e., corals).

Best Fish for a 5 Gallon Tank. Stocking Ideas 

We made sure to include fish species not only can be kept in a nano aquarium but are easy to care of. Let’s take a look at the best fish you can keep in a 5 gallon tank.

Betta Fish

Bettas are a perfect fish for any 5-gallon tank. They’re territorial and enjoy having plenty of space without getting lonely or bored with what they have already occupied in their freshwater aquarium. You should only keep one betta per aquarium because pairing two males will inevitably lead to constant fighting. 

best fish for 5 gallon tank guppies fish

Bettas are one of the most beautiful fish you can get, and their colors make them stand out. They come in tons of different morphs with all sorts of tail shapes; typically, a Betta needs at least 5 gallons for its tank, but some might be happy living peacefully in 3-gallon tanks as well!

For your betta’s safety, include in your Betta fish tank plenty of live plants (or even fake ones) that will give them hiding spots to feel secure while not crowded.

Chili Rasbora

If you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for school of small fish, consider adding the Chili Rasbora (Sundadanio axelrodi) to your 5 gallon aquarium! They are beautiful and fun to watch as they swim around your tank in groups.

best fish for 5 gallon tank chili rasbora

Their colors are very vibrant, and their small size makes them perfect for any 5 gallon aquarium setup! With the proper diet and care, they can live up to 10 years or more!

They are peaceful, hardy fish that can tolerate most water conditions. Chili Rasbora can also be kept alone or paired with other small shoaling species such as Neon Tetras or White Cloud Mountain Minnows.

Endlers Livebearers

Endler’s Livebearers come in many bright colors and can be extremely eye-catching. They stay small in size and do not grow beyond 1.5 inches, making them a great candidate for a 5 gallon fish tank.

best fish for 5 gallon tank Endlers Livebearers

They’re actually very similar in care to Neon Tetras in that they need at least a 2.5-gallon or larger aquarium with plenty of plants. They are peaceful, active fish that thrive when kept in good condition.

Some of their most common colors include red, orange, yellow, white, or blue. They are very easy to care for and when given the space they need to grow, they will become even more beautiful!


Guppies are great in all sorts of tanks, including 5-gallon aquariums. You can keep a minimum of 2 Guppies and a maximum of 5 in your tank without any problems.

best fish for 5 gallon tank guppies fish

They’re active, colorful, and fun to watch! With proper care, they can live up to 10 years or more, although their average life span is only 2-3 years. These tropical fish like warm temperatures (75-80 degrees) and oxygen levels of around five ppm.

You can keep them in a 5 gallon tank, but you need to make sure the filter is strong enough. If you want to keep a small school of Guppies in a 5 gallon aquarium, a sponge filter will work well for them.

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are one of the most popular fish in aquariums. They’re beautiful, colorful, and fairly easy to care for. Neon Tetras are very active and fun to watch! It is best to keep 2 to 3 Neon Tetras in a 5 gallon tank (1 inch per gallon rule). They can live up to 3 years with proper care.

best fish for 5 gallon tank Tetra fish

Neon Tetras like soft and slightly acidic water (pH: 6.5 – 7.0). As long as you maintain the water quality in your tank, they can thrive and grow into large, beautiful adults.

They will thrive best on a diet of live foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, or tubifex worms every other day, with sinking pellets being fed once per day for their last meal.

Dwarf Rasbora

Dwarf rasbora has an average size of just 1 inch long but comes in various colors that include red, blue, green, and orange. Dwarf rasbora make great additions to planted tanks because their coloring helps them blend into the background; this makes it easier for them to hide from predators and prey alike.

best fish for 5 gallon tank Dwarf rasbora

Although they are rather small in size, Dwarf Rasboras have a large amount of personality! They are very active and love to swim around the tank, especially when you’re adding food.

They prefer acidic water that is cooler than most tropical fish. Their ideal temperature is between 65-72 degrees but they do best when kept at room temperature.

Ghost Shrimp

Ghost shrimp are also called glass shrimp because their transparent bodies help protect them from predators, while their large claws help them hunt food in the tank.

best fish for 5 gallon tank ghost shrimp

You can create an awesome shrimp tank by stocking your 5 gallon aquarium with 6 Ghost Shrimp. They are fairly easy to care for, so they are a great choice for beginners!

Ghost shrimp prefer brackish water that has a pH of 7.0 or lower. They do best when kept in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They have an average lifespan of 1-2 years. The males are more colorful than the females, but they both make great additions to your 5 gallon aquarium!

Best and Low-Maintenence Plants to Keep in a 5 Gallon Tank 

When you first set up a 5 gallon tank, it can be intimidating. You have all of these options for substrate and decor, but the most important part has plants. Live plants will give your fish a place to hide from view, and they also help with water quality by removing toxins from the tank.

Here are five different types of live plants that will work best in a 5-gallon aquarium:

Java Moss

Java Moss is one of the easiest plants to maintain in a 5 gallon aquarium. It can be used as a carpet or as an accent plant. Hardy and easy-to-grow nature make this great for beginners or experienced aquarists alike!  Java Moss thrives in nutrient-rich water without strong currents, so it makes a good addition to both freshwater tanks.

best fish for 5 gallon tank java moss

This plant grows best attached to driftwood with a fishing line, but if you don’t want to go through the hassle of tying knots every month then there are many other options like suction cups that will do just fine! These little plants grow about 1mm per week on average, which means they quickly fill out your tank with their lush 

Dwarf Baby Tears

Dwarf Baby Tears are easy to care for and thrive in 5 gallon tanks with no CO2 injection required. The Dwarf baby tears plant is a perfect candidate for anyone who wants to add an interesting and lush touch of green to their tank.

Dwarf Baby Tears Aquarium Plant Grow - Hemianthus callitrichoides

This low-maintenance aquatic species produces tiny leaves that form dense carpets when properly cared for with enough lighting, making them easy to care about once established!

Water Wisteria

Water Wisteria is an aquatic plant that produces lace-like leaves which vary in size according to the water temperature. This variety of wisterias can be easily propagated by taking cuttings from their lower leaves.

best fish for 5 gallon tank water wisteria

These plants are really beautiful and make an awesome addition to any 5 gallon tank! They grow extremely fast (in some cases, they grow as much as 1 inch per day!) but do need proper care.

Anubias Congensis

Anubias Congensis can provide some great-looking touch to your 5 gallon fish tank! This plant has very unique leaves and can add a great aesthetic touch to your tank.

Anubias Congensis Planting on Aquarium

It grows in low light conditions so it’s great for beginners looking to add some greenery without needing too much effort or special equipment. This plant can be rooted or anchored in rocks with little effort.


Choosing the best fish for a 5 gallon tank is one of the most important decisions you make when setting up a 5 gallon fish tank. Stocking your tank is the most important part of fish keeping. 

With our list, we made it easy for you to choose your new small fish, but there are a few other unanswered questions. Let’s get through some of them:

Q: What fish can live in a 5 gallon tank without a heater?

If you’re looking to save some money and start an aquarium without a heater, there are a number of fish that can live in an unheated 5 gallon aquarium. These include:

Black Molly
Some Tetra varieties, such as Blue Danios or Rose Diamonds, among others 

Q: Is a 5 gallon tank big enough for 2 Goldfish?

Goldfish are beautiful creatures, but a 5-gallon tank is too small. Goldfish produce big waste, and the water quality can quickly reach an unhealthy danger zone in this tiny space! 

If you want to keep them as pets or if your plan was always going on being more than just temporary ownership with these fish, make sure you have a 20 gallon fish tank for them before considering their new home set up.

Q: Is a 5 gallon tank good for Guppies?

One of the best fish to keep in a 5-gallon tank is Guppy. They are peaceful and low maintenance, making them suitable for beginners and experienced people looking for something interesting on their next aquarium project.

You can keep a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 Guppies in your 5 gallon fish tank

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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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