Information, Freshwater fish

10 Fish Species That Are Ideal for a 5-Gallon Tank

If you have limited space but still want to add an aquatic touch to your home, consider getting a 5-gallon fish tank but finding the right fish for a small 5-gallon tank can be daunting.

There are more options than you might think when choosing the best fish for 5-gallon tanks. Although many species cannot survive in such a small aquarium, others will do great!

To ensure that your 5-gallon tank is healthy and full of beautiful fish, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best species to choose from. Stay connected with us to learn more.

Ideal Fish for a 5-Gallon Tank

1. Guppies

Image Credit: By visarute angkatavanich, Canva

Guppies are perfect for anyone looking for a flashy, low-maintenance fish to spruce up their 05-gallon tank. With a wide variety of colors and patterns available, these tropical freshwater fish are sure to add some personality to your aquarium. Guppies are also easy to care for, so they’re ideal for beginner fishkeepers or experienced aquarists.

The fins on guppies are especially beautiful, making them stand out in any size aquarium. There are over 300 varieties of guppy fish. They’re also relatively peaceful and get along well with other community fish. So if you have a small tank, you can still enjoy their playful personality without taking up too much space.

2. Molly

Image Credit: By Gazali Rakhman, Canva

Molly fish are perfect for your 5-gallon tanks because they get along with other species and don’t require much care. They can also tolerate different water conditions, including temperature, pH level, and hardness. Plus, they eat anything! As long as the tank is clean, Molly fish will be happy.

Depending on the species, mollies can grow about four and a half inches long. The most vibrant colors are seen on types with black, silver, or bright yellow bodies. They’re relatively small emotional fish that need around 4.5 gallons each, so a single mollie will do well in your 5-gallon tank.

3. Endler’s Livebearers

Endler's Livebearers
Image Credit: neryxcom, Canva

Endler’s Livebearers and Guppies are often confused because of their size and color. However, there are some key differences. Endlers only grow to 1.5 inches, whereas Guppies can get up to 2 inches big. The former usually has a reflective neon or silver coloration with shiny scales, whereas the latter is more flat and vivid.

Endler’s Livebearers are good choices if you’re looking for fish to put in a 5-gallon tank. However, when caring for them, follow the same precautions as guppies and mollies. If you don’t want an overcrowded tank, ensure they’re all the same sex because these species reproduce quickly.

4. Chili Rasbora

chili rasbora

The chili rasbora is the next species on our list. As a nano fish, it only grows to be about 0.7 inches in size, which makes it perfect for smaller aquariums. While they may be small, they are still very visually appealing with their intense red coloration and black accents throughout the fins and body.

Chili rasbora fish come from blackwater habitats, so it is critical to adjust the environment of your tank to match theirs as closely as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to make the water in your tank pitch black, but these fish prefer some tannin infusion. Most importantly, remember to constantly monitor conditions to prevent disease or health problems.

5. Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra
Image Credit: stoickt, Canva

The Neon Tetra is a popular freshwater fish for aquariums. With its unique coloration, it is sure to stand out in any tank. The natural colors and glow of the neon tetra help these fish blend in with their environment and avoid predators.

These are wonderful fish for a 5-gallon tank if given plants and some hiding places, despite their skittish nature. They only grow to an average length of 1.5 inches, perfect for smaller tanks like a 5-gallon tank. A school of neon tetras should ideally not exceed five fish in a 5-gallon planted tank.

6. Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling Gourami
Image Credit: MartinLisner, Canva

The sparkling gourami is a small fish that only grows half an inch in size, making it one of the smaller fish species. This fish has a lot of colors for such a small body! Looking closely, you can see polka-dotted fins, stripes or red, and a bright blue eye.

Don’t forget about plants when constructing a habitat for your sparkling gourami! Even though they’re some of the best fish for 5-gallon tanks, you’ll need to ensure enough standing water and live vegetation.

7. Scarlet Badis

Scarlet Badis
Image Credit: Samuel Torres, Canva

The Scarlet Badis is a fish that doesn’t need much room to thrive and is quite low-maintenance. You don’t see them often, but they come in different colors depending on gender. Male Scarlet Badises tend to be brightly red or orange, while females are less eye-catching with their dull silver hue.

Because of their small and shy nature, these fish thrive in smaller tanks. They typically stick close to plants at the bottom or middle of the tank, which doesn’t require a lot of space- making them ideal for a 5-gallon tank. A single male can comfortably live with one or two females in a 5-gallon tank.

8. Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestial Pearl Danio
Image Credit: corridor91, Canva

Celestial Pearl Danios, also called Galaxy Rasboras, are shy fish only discovered in the past decade. They’re timid and require a few specific things to thrive, making them slightly difficult to take care of. They get their name from the white dots on their dark blue or black scales – the dots resemble pearls floating in the night sky.

An expert’s level of care is necessary to keep them in a five-gallon tank. You must balance the plant density, swimming space, and shoaling numbers all at once – it’ll be quite a juggling act. If you’re experienced enough to pull it off, keeping them will be out of this world!

9. Dwarf Cory Catfish

Dwarf Cory Catfish
Image Credit: Mirko_Rosenau, Canva

Did you know that there’s not only a standard-sized corydoras but also a dwarf variant? The latter, also known as the dwarf cory catfish, is about three-quarters of an inch long. Although small, it has the same shape as its regular counterpart.

Among the best fish for 5-gallon tanks, you’ll notice them by their under-turned mouth, large eyes, and bulbous body. They’re not only great tankmates but also beautiful in their own right because of their colorful design. Streaks of yellow intermingle with splashes of shimmer to create an eye-catching fish that gleams brightly in any light.

10. Pea Puffers

Pea Puffers
Image Credit: User10095428_393, Canva

Out of all the fish in the world, pea puffers might be the cutest. They have big eyes and goofy-looking faces, almost like cartoon characters. And like most pufferfish, they buzz around their environment cutely as they look for food.

Though they might look cute, puffers can actually be quite mean to other fish. If you have a 5-gallon tank, you should only put one puffer in it because each fish needs their territory, and putting more than one would overcrowd the small tank.


Now that you have read this article, hopefully, you will be inspired to get one or more colorful freshwater fish that fit your taste and your 5-gallon tank. Just remember to do your research on their care requirements before making any decisions – after all, you want them to thrive in their new home with you!


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

🐠 Get Your Free Ebook: A Beginner's Guide to Aquariums - Sign Up Now!

Learn everything you need to know to keep fish, including setting up your tank, choosing the right fish, and maintaining water quality. As a subscriber, you'll also stay up-to-date on the latest aquarium products, special offers, and discounts.

Your privacy is important to us. You can trust that we will never share or sell your information, and we'll only send you relevant content.

2 thoughts on “10 Fish Species That Are Ideal for a 5-Gallon Tank”

  1. Really enjoyed your article. I was unaware of how many beautiful fish were available in a non salt tank. I just fell in love with the pea puffers, how truly adorable.

    • Thank you for your kind words and for reading my article! I’m glad to hear that you found it informative and that you’re now aware of the many beautiful fish that can thrive in a freshwater aquarium. Pea puffers are definitely a unique and adorable species that many fish enthusiasts enjoy keeping. They’re a great addition to any freshwater tank and can add a lot of personality to your aquarium. If you have any further questions or need advice on keeping pea puffers, feel free to reach out!


Leave a Comment