12 Beginner-Friendly Fish For A 5 Gallon Aquarium Tank!

Choosing the right fish for a 5-gallon tank can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Small tanks require careful selection of fish to ensure a healthy, balanced environment where the inhabitants can thrive.

This article highlights twelve beginner-friendly fish species perfect for a 5-gallon aquarium. These species are known for their compatibility with small tank sizes, ease of care, and vibrant presence, making them excellent choices for both novice and seasoned aquarists.

Whether you’re looking for colorful solo swimmers like Betta Fish or peaceful group dwellers like Guppies, this guide will help you select the best fish to create a captivating and healthy 5-gallon aquarium setup.

Betta Fish

A Betta Fish
A Betta Fish

Pros

  • Colorful Fish
  • Plenty Of Tail Shapes
  • Cheap And Easy To Find

Cons

  • Can Be Aggressive
  • May Jump Out Of Tank
  • Can Have Genetic Problems

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their vibrant colors, unique personalities, and relatively low maintenance needs.

A single Betta fish can comfortably thrive in a 5-gallon tank, providing ample space for swimming while maintaining optimal water quality. Betta fish prefer a well-planted tank with plenty of hiding spots, which can be achieved using live or silk plants, as well as decorations like caves or driftwood.

A lid is highly recommended to prevent them from jumping out of their tank. Betta fish thrive in calm waters, so a gentle filtration system is recommended with a cheap sponge filter being perfect.

Feeding Betta fish is straightforward. They are carnivorous and thrive on a diet of high-quality Betta pellets or flakes, supplemented with occasional treats like freeze-dried or frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. Feed them once or twice daily, ensuring not to overfeed to prevent water quality issues.

Betta fish are known for their territorial nature, so it’s best to keep only one Betta per tank to avoid aggression.

Their fascinating behaviors, such as bubble nest building and flaring, along with their stunning color variations and fin shapes, make Betta fish a captivating and rewarding addition to any 5-gallon aquarium.

Water Temperature72-86°F (22 – 30°C)
Water FlowLow
pH6-8
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Betta Fish Water Parameters

Guppies

Guppies In Their Tank
Guppies In Their Tank

Pros

  • Cheap And Easy To Find.
  • Plenty Of Color Options.
  • Active Fish.

Cons

  • Breeds At A Rapid Pace.
  • Can Have Genetic Problems.
  • May Jump Out Of Their Tank.

Guppies are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their wide range of colors, active behavior, and ease of care.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep three to five male guppies, as they are smaller than females with a lower bioload.

A well-planted tank with live plants like Java fern, Anubias, and Hornwort creates a natural environment for guppies, offering hiding spots and improving water quality.

Additionally, using a gentle filtration system helps maintain clean water without creating strong currents, which guppies prefer.

Feeding guppies is simple, as they are omnivores and readily accept various foods. Provide a balanced diet with high-quality flake food, supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

Occasionally, you can offer vegetable matter such as blanched spinach or spirulina flakes to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients. Some guppies will eat it, others won’t but you won’t know until you try with your guppies.

Water Temperature63-82°F (17 – 28 °C)
Water FlowStill-Low
pH7-8.5
GH8-12 dGH
KH4-8 dKH
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<10ppm
Guppy Water Parameters

Clown Killifish

A Killifish In Its Tank
A Killifish In Its Tank

Pros

  • Colorful Fish
  • Interesting Behaviours

Cons

  • Can Be Hard To Find
  • Expensive In Some Areas

Clown Killifish, also known as Rocket Killifish or Epiplatys annulatus, are great fish for 5-gallon tanks.

These fish typically grow to about 1.2 inches in length, making them well-suited for smaller tanks. In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep a pair or a small group of three Clown Killifish.

Setting up a tank for Clown Killifish involves creating an environment that mimics their natural habitat. They thrive in tanks with plenty of plant cover and leaf litter on the substrate. Live plants like Java moss, floating plants, and other dense vegetation provide hiding spots and enhance their comfort.

It’s essential to use a lid on the tank as Clown Killifish are known jumpers.

Feeding Clown Killifish is straightforward as they are carnivorous and enjoy a diet rich in protein. They will readily accept high-quality live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Due to their small size, finely crushed flake food can also be offered. Feeding them small amounts twice daily ensures they receive the necessary nutrients without overfeeding.

Clown Killifish are peaceful and can coexist with other small, non-aggressive fish, but they are best kept in a species-specific tank to prevent any stress from more dominant tank mates. Their unique, rocket-like appearance and ease of care make them an attractive and enjoyable choice for any 5-gallon aquarium.

Water Temperature68-79°F (20–26°C)
Water FlowLow
pH4.0 – 7.0
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Clown Killifish Water Parameters

Scarlet Badis

A Scarlet Badis In Its Tank
A Scarlet Badis In Its Tank

Pros

  • Needs Plenty Of Cover
  • Easy To Feed

Cons

  • Can Be Aggressive
  • Takes Time To Color-Up

Scarlet Badis are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, beautiful pattern, and fascinating behaviors. These fish typically grow to about 1 inch in length, making them ideal for smaller aquariums.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep one male Scarlet Badis, or one male with two females if you are looking to breed them.

Setting up a tank for Scarlet Badis involves providing plenty of cover and hiding spots. They thrive in heavily planted tanks with live plants such as Hygrophila, Rotala, and Cryptocoryne. These plants not only offer hiding spots but also help maintain stable water parameters.

Driftwood and small caves also provide additional shelter and create a more natural environment.

Feeding Scarlet Badis is relatively straightforward, though they can be picky eaters. They prefer live or frozen foods, such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. It’s essential to offer a varied diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

Due to their small size, they may struggle to eat larger food particles, so finely chopped foods are ideal. Feeding them small amounts once or twice daily is sufficient.

Scarlet Badis are peaceful fish, but males can be territorial, especially in small tanks. Therefore, it’s best to keep only one male in a 5-gallon tank to avoid aggression.

Their stunning colors and interesting behaviors make Scarlet Badis a captivating addition to any nano aquarium, providing both aesthetic appeal and a dynamic environment.

Water Temperature65-79°F (18–26°C)
Water FlowLow
pH6.5 – 8.5
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Scarlet Badis Water Parameters

Sparkling Gourami

A Sparkling Gourami In Its Tank
A Sparkling Gourami In Its Tank

Pros

  • Hardy Fish
  • Easy To Feed

Cons

  • May Jump
  • Lack Of Color Options

Sparkling Gourami are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, beautiful coloration, and peaceful nature. Growing to about 1.5 inches in length, these fish are perfectly suited for smaller aquariums.

Sparkling Gourami are known for their unique ability to produce croaking sounds, which can be an interesting feature in your tank.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep a pair of Sparkling Gourami, or a trio (one male and two females) if you wish to breed them.

Setting up a tank for Sparkling Gourami involves creating a natural, heavily planted environment. They thrive in tanks with plenty of live plants such as Java fern, Anubias, and floating plants like Salvinia or Amazon Frogbit.

These plants provide necessary cover and mimic their natural habitat. Adding driftwood and small caves also helps create hiding spots, reducing stress and encouraging natural behaviors.

Feeding Sparkling Gourami is straightforward as they are not fussy eaters. They enjoy a varied diet of high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

They are generally peaceful fish, making them suitable for community tanks with other small, non-aggressive species. Their stunning iridescent scales and fascinating behaviors make Sparkling Gourami a delightful addition to any 5-gallon aquarium, providing both visual appeal and dynamic interaction.

Water Temperature72-82°F (22–28°C)
Water FlowLow
pH5.0 – 7.5
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Sparkling Gourami Water Parameters

Rice Fish

Japanese Rice Fish
Japanese Rice Fish

Pros

  • Hardy
  • Easy To Feed
  • Lower Water Temperature

Cons

  • Lack Of Color Options
  • May Hide With Minimal Cover
  • Multiple Fish With Same Name

Rice Fish, also known as Medaka, are excellent choices for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, hardiness, and ease of care. These fish typically grow to about 1.5 inches, making them perfectly suited for smaller aquariums.

Rice Fish are also known for their tolerance to a wide range of water conditions, including cooler temperatures, which makes them very adaptable and beginner-friendly.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep a small group of 5-6 Rice Fish, which will exhibit natural swimming behavior and add lively activity to your tank.

Setting up a tank for Rice Fish involves creating a well-planted environment with plenty of hiding spots. Live plants like Java fern, Anubias, and Rotala provide shelter and improve water quality.

Adding some driftwood and rocks can enhance the tank’s natural look and offer additional hiding places. Rice Fish prefer calm waters, so a gentle filtration system, such as a sponge filter, is ideal to maintain water quality without creating strong currents.

Their diet should include high-quality flake or pellet food but they will eat cyclops and daphnia as treats.

Their peaceful nature allows them to coexist with other small, non-aggressive tank mates, making Rice Fish a versatile and attractive choice for a 5-gallon tank.

Water Temperature61-72°F (16–22°C)
Water FlowLow
pH6.5 – 8.5
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Japanese Rice Fish Water Parameters

Pea Puffer Fish

A Pea Puffer In A 10 Gallon Tank
A Pea Puffer In A 10 Gallon Tank

Pros

  • Unique Look
  • Interesting Behaviours
  • Thrives In Small Tanks

Cons

  • Difficult To Find
  • Can Be Expensive
  • Picky Eaters

Pea Puffer Fish are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, unique appearance, and fascinating behaviors. These tiny fish typically grow to about 1 inch in length, making them ideal for small aquariums.

In a 5-gallon tank, it is best to keep a single Pea Puffer to avoid territorial disputes. However, if you have experience with these fish, you might keep a trio (one male and two females) to reduce aggression.

Setting up a tank for Pea Puffers involves creating a densely planted environment with plenty of hiding spots. Live plants such as Java fern, Anubias, and Vallisneria provide shelter and help maintain water quality.

Adding driftwood and rocks can create additional hiding places and break the line of sight, which helps reduce stress and aggression among the fish. Pea Puffers prefer slow-moving waters, so a gentle filtration system, like a sponge filter, is ideal.

Feeding Pea Puffers can be a bit challenging as they are primarily carnivorous and prefer live or frozen foods. Their diet should include bloodworms, brine shrimp, and small snails.

Feeding them small amounts once or twice a day ensures they get the necessary nutrients and helps keep the tank clean. Avoid overfeeding, as uneaten food can quickly degrade water quality in a small tank.

Pea Puffers are known for their curious and active nature. They enjoy exploring their environment and interacting with their surroundings.

Despite their small size, they have a bold personality and can be quite entertaining to watch. Their unique behaviors and striking appearance make Pea Puffer Fish a fascinating addition to any 5-gallon tank.

Water Temperature72–82°F (22–28°C)
Water FlowLow
pH6.8 – 8.0
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Pea Puffer Water Parameters

Peacock Gudgeon

A Peacock Gudgeon In its Tank
A Peacock Gudgeon In its Tank

Pros

  • Beautiful Colors
  • Easy To Feed

Cons

  • Picky Eater
  • Takes Time To Color Up

Peacock Gudgeons are a vibrant and colorful choice for 5-gallon tanks, offering both beauty and interesting behavior. These fish typically grow to about 2.5 inches in length, making them suitable for small aquariums.

In a 5-gallon tank, it is best to keep a single pair (one male and one female) to avoid overcrowding and aggression.

Setting up a tank for Peacock Gudgeons involves creating a well-planted environment with plenty of hiding spots. Easy plants such as Java fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne are ideal, as they provide shelter and help maintain water quality.

Adding decorations like driftwood and rocks can create additional hiding places and territories, which are important for reducing stress and encouraging natural behaviors.

Peacock Gudgeons thrive on a varied diet that includes high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. Observing their feeding habits can also help prevent overfeeding and maintain water quality in the small tank.

These fish are known for their peaceful nature and stunning colors, featuring a mix of blue, yellow, and red hues. They are relatively easy to care for and adapt well to different water conditions, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Water Temperature72-79°F (22-26°C)
Water FlowStill-Low
pH6.5-7.5
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Peacock Gudgeon Water Parameters

Chili Rasboras

A Chilli Rasbora In Its Tank
A Chili Rasbora In Its Tank

Pros

  • Shoal Around Tightly
  • Look Great Once Colored
  • Stands Out In Planted Tanks

Cons

  • Can Be Expensive
  • Take Time To Color Up
  • Picky Eaters

Chili Rasboras (Boraras brigittae) are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, peaceful nature, and striking coloration. Growing to only about 0.8 inches in length, these tiny fish are perfect for nano aquariums.

In a 5-gallon rectangle tank, you can comfortably keep a school of 6-8 Chili Rasboras, which will allow them to exhibit their natural shoaling behavior, reducing stress and enhancing their visual appeal.

Live plants provide excellent cover and create a sense of security for these shy fish. Adding some floating plants can also help diffuse light and provide additional hiding spots. A dark substrate will enhance their vibrant red coloration, making them stand out even more.

Feeding Chili Rasboras is straightforward, as they are not particularly picky eaters. They thrive on a varied diet that includes high-quality micro-pellets, and crushed flake food.

Chili Rasboras are known for their bright red color and active swimming patterns, making them a delightful addition to any nano tank. Their peaceful demeanor makes them compatible with other small, non-aggressive tank mates, allowing for a harmonious community setup.

Water Temperature68–82°F (20–28°C)
Water FlowLow
pH4.0–7.0
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Chili Rasbora Water Parameters

Ember Tetra

Ember Tetras In Their Tank
Ember Tetras In Their Tank

Pros

  • Colorful Fish
  • Easy To Feed

Cons

  • Pushing The Limit Of 5 Gallons
  • May Have Health Problems

Ember Tetras are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, peaceful nature, and vibrant coloration. Growing to only about 0.8 inches in length, these diminutive fish are ideal for nano aquariums.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep a small school of 6-8 Ember Tetras. Keeping them in a group is crucial, as it allows them to exhibit their natural shoaling behavior, which reduces stress and enhances their vibrant orange-red coloration.

Setting up a tank for Ember Tetras involves creating a well-planted environment that mimics their natural habitat in slow-moving rivers and streams. Live plants, rocks, and driftwood provide excellent cover and create a sense of security for these shy fish.

Adding some floating plants can help diffuse light and provide additional hiding spots, while a dark substrate can enhance their brilliant colors.

They thrive on a varied diet that includes high-quality flake food, micro-pellets, and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and micro-worms.

Ember Tetras are known for their bright, fiery color and active swimming patterns, making them a visually appealing addition to any nano tank.

Water Temperature68-82°F (20–28°C)
Water FlowLow
pH5.0 – 7.0
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Ember Tetra Water Parameters

Endler’s Livebearer

Three Endler's Livebearers
Three Endler’s Livebearers

Pros

  • Cheap And Easy To Find
  • Hardy
  • Colorful
  • Interesting Behaviours

Cons

  • Can Be Picky Eaters
  • Small And Difficult To See
  • Can Hide In Some Setups
  • Breeds At A Rapid Pace

Endler’s Livebearers are an excellent choice for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, vibrant colors, and active nature. Growing to only about 1-1.5 inches in length, they are perfectly suited for nano aquariums.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably keep 5-6 male Endler’s Livebearers. It’s generally recommended to avoid keeping females in such a small tank to prevent rapid breeding, which can quickly lead to overpopulation.

They thrive in well-planted tanks with plenty of hiding spots, which can be created using plants like Java moss, Anubias, and Rotala. These plants not only provide shelter but also help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

A gentle filtration system is ideal, as Endler’s prefer calm waters. Regular water changes are essential to keep the water clean and parameters stable.

Feeding Endler’s Livebearers is easy, as they are not picky eaters. They are omnivores and will readily accept a variety of foods.

Endler’s Livebearers are known for their bright, striking colors and active swimming behavior, making them a captivating addition to any nano tank. Their hardy nature and minimal care requirements make them an excellent choice for beginners and experienced aquarists alike, providing a lively and colorful display without demanding extensive maintenance.

Water Temperature75–86°F (24–30°C)
Water FlowLow
pH7.0–8.5
Ammonia0
Nitrite0
Nitrate<20
Endler’s Livebearers Water Parameters

Cherry Shrimp

A Cherry Shrimp
A Cherry Shrimp

Pros

  • Lots Of Color Options
  • Cheap And Easy To Find
  • Easy To Care For

Cons

  • Not Fish
  • May Be Eaten By Tank Mates
  • Some Colors Are Expensive

Cherry Shrimp are fantastic for 5-gallon tanks due to their small size, vibrant colors, and low bioload. These shrimp typically grow to about 1-1.5 inches, making them perfect for nano aquariums.

In a 5-gallon tank, you can comfortably start with 10-50 shrimp. They are prolific breeders, and their population will naturally adjust to the available food and space in the tank.

Setting up a tank for Cherry Shrimp is relatively simple. They thrive in well-planted aquariums with plenty of hiding spots. Plants like Java moss, Salvinia, and stem plants are ideal because they provide surfaces for biofilm growth, which is a crucial food source for the shrimp.

Additionally, driftwood and rocks can offer extra hiding places and enhance the tank’s aesthetics. A gentle filtration system, such as a sponge filter, is recommended to avoid sucking in the tiny shrimp.

They primarily feed on biofilm, algae, and detritus in the tank, but supplementing their diet is important. High-quality shrimp pellets, algae wafers, and blanched vegetables like spinach or zucchini are excellent food choices. Occasionally, you can offer live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or daphnia for added protein.

Cherry Shrimp are peaceful and can coexist with other non-aggressive fish species, making them a versatile addition to a community tank.

Their active foraging behavior and vibrant colors, ranging from deep red to bright orange, add a dynamic and visually appealing element to any 5-gallon setup. Their hardy nature and ease of care make them an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Water Temperature65-80°F (18.5-27°C)
Water FlowStill-Low
pH6.7-8
GH6-10 dGH
KH3-10 dKH
Ammonia0 ppm
Nitrite0 ppm
Nitrate<20ppm
Red Cherry Shrimp Water Parameters