Best fish for vertical tank

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When it comes to choosing the best fish for your small tank, you’re spoilt for choice.

Whether you’ve got a 5 gallon, 10 gallon, or 20 gallon nano tank, it’s easy to get carried away when planning who will be a part of your community.

This guide has been created to make that decision easier for you. I’ve created this list of the absolute best small fish and their key care information so you can make a quick, educated choice.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly which small fish is ideal for your aquarium.

Table of Contents

1. Chili Rasbora (Boraras Brigittae)

Chili Rasbora, sometimes called mosquito rasboras, are tiny tropical ray-finned shoaling fish native to Borneo.

Male Chili Rasbora are brightly colored red, with an iridescent black stripe running laterally down its small body. Whereas females have round bellies and lighter color markings in comparison

Only growing up to 0.7inches in length, these tiny nano fish do best in a (minimum) group of 8 in a planted peaceful community tank.

They’re active and cute, one of those schooling fish that are always doing something when you look in the tank. You should keep them in a group of at least

You’ll need a planted tank, at least 5-gallons, and you can provide them with a protein rich diet. Brine shrimp, Daphnia, and tubifex micro worms are all good choices.

  • Common names: Chili Rasboras, Mosquito Rasboras
  • Scientific Name: Boraras brigittae
  • Life Span: 8 Years
  • Size: 0.7 inches (1.9 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 68°-78°F (20°-25.5°C)
  • pH: 5.0-7.0
  • Diet: carnivore – crushed flake, baby brine shrimp or live or frozen daphnia.

2. Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)

One of the most popular small freshwater fish, Neon Tetra, is native to the blackwater and clearwater  Amazon River basin.

Being part of the Characidar family, Neon Tetras are small, thin-bodied fish with small fins and are defined by their neon blue and red color markings.

As a schooling fish, you should keep Neon Tetras in a group of at least six in a 10 gallon planted tank. However, the larger the tank and shoal, the more interesting and active they’ll be.

A great fish for beginners, Neons are hardy, unfussy eaters, and require no specialist equipment.

  • Common names: Neon Tetra, Neon Fish
  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
  • Life Span: 10 years
  • Size: 1.5 inches (3 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 72°-76°F (22.2°-24.4°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • Diet: omnivore – high quality flake food, micro pellets or baby brine shrimp

3. Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon Axelrodi)

Another tiny freshwater nano fish from the Characidae family, the Cardinal Tetra looks very similar to the Neon. However, the Cardinal Tetra grows to 2 inches and has bright ventral parts with iridescent red and blue stripes running the length of its body.

A peaceful shoaling fish, again you want to keep a school of at least 6 in a 15 gallon planted community tank.

They’ll do well with tank mates like, dwarf gouramis, plecos, rasboras, zebra danio, and other tetra species or peaceful tropical fish. You won’t need any special equipment, and can feed an omnivore diet of high-quality fish food.

  • Common names: Cardinal tetra, large neon tetra, red neon, roter neon
  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon Axelrodi
  • Life Span: 4 Years
  • Size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 72°-76°F (22.2°-24.4°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • Diet: omnivore – high quality flake food, small pellets, brine shrimp and live or frozen daphnia.

4. Bettas (Betta splendens)

Betta (siamese fighting fish) are a small tropical fish originating from the tropical waters of Southeast Asia. These tropical fish are known for being fiercely territorial.

There are over 73 varieties of the genus Betta, and are some of the most widely available aquarium fish around the world. This is down to their array of vivid colors, large flowing fins, and intelligence.

Betta fish can learn tricks and have the ability to recognize and greet their owner.

Another great beginner-fish, you’ll want to provide this curious fish with a stimulating environment. A 5-gallon planted tank with plenty of decorations to keep this intelligent fish stimulated will keep it active and healthy.

Males should always be housed alone. While females can be kept in a sorority, however, I would only recommend this for experienced aquarists.

  • Common names: Betta, Siamese fighting fish
  • Scientific Name: Betta splendens
  • Life Span: 2-5 years
  • Size: 2-3 inches (5.7 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: aggressive, males should be kept alone
  • Temperature: 75°-81°F (23.8°-27.2°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Diet: carnivore – Bettas eat mostly insects in the wild so it’s best to feed them things like Fluval Bug Bites Betta Formula, frozen or freeze dried bloodworms or live daphnia.

5. Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)

The Harlequin Rasboras is a beautiful freshwater fish with a small lozenge-shaped body with a vibrant ruby coloration and black marking shaped like a funnel (known as a “black wedge”), running from their dorsal fins to their tails.

Growing up to 2 inches, these small active shoaling fish should be kept in a group of at least six in a 10 gallon planted tank. Although, keeping them in a larger group in a bigger tank will not only increase their well-being, but also from an aesthetic point of view, a large shoal of harlequin rasboras is truly stunning to witness.

  • Common names: Harlequin Rasboras, Red Rasbora
  • Scientific Name: Trigonostigma heteromorpha
  • Life Span: 6 years
  • Size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 72°-81°F (22.2°-27.2°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Diet: omnivore – high quality flake foods, live or frozen daphnia and bloodworms.

6. Fancy Guppies (Poecilia Reticulata)

Fancy guppies have been selectively bred through programs to produce a variety of stunning, bright colors, pattern combinations, and fin shapes and sizes. As a result, these livebearers are now one of the world’s most popular small fish for  freshwater aquariums.

Guppies are a fish that stays small, growing to around 2 inches in length, and are famous for breeding a lot. So they’re best kept in small schools of 5 males or one male per 3-4 females.

If you’re going to house around 5 guppies, a 5-gallon tank will be enough but a 10 gallon would be easier to manage. Guppies love live plants and tropical water parameters.

  • Common names: Fancy guppies, guppy, millionfish, rainbow  fish
  • Scientific Name: Poecilia Reticulata
  • Life Span: 2-3 years
  • Size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: mostly peaceful. Males can sometimes harass females and each other.
  • Temperature: 70°-82°F (21.1°-27.7°C)
  • pH: 7.0-8.0
  • Diet: omnivore – micro pellets, high quality flake food, frozen brine or mysis shrimp.

7. Endler’s Livebearers (Poecilia wingei)

Endler’s are a small fish native to the Paria Peninsula, Venezuela, and are one of my personal favorite livebearers.

Closely related to guppies (often hybridized with them), male endler’s can have intense color markings of black, orange, and metallic green. And just like guppies, endler’s will breed a lot. So best to be kept in a school of all males or one male per 3-5 females.

These peaceful nano fish will thrive in tropical community tanks, mostly occupying the upper levels of the water column. They require no specialist equipment and will do well on an omnivore diet consistent with high-quality fish food and some live food like bloodworms.

  • Common names: Endler’s Livebearers, Endler’s
  • Scientific Name: Poecilia wingei
  • Life Span: 2-3 years
  • Size: 1-1.8 inches (2.5-4.5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 75°-80°F (°-°C)
  • pH: 7.0-8.0
  • Diet: omnivore – micro pellets, flake food, frozen bloodworms and mysis shrimp are good choices.

8. Zebra Danios (Danio Rerio)

Zebra Danios, also known as zebrafish, belong to the Cyrindae family native to South Asia. It’s name comes from the five metallic blue stripes running on the side of its small torpedo-shaped body down to the caudal fin.

When housed in a shoals of at least 5 in a 15 gallon long aquarium, zebra danios will be extremely active and playful fish. These fish are a fun addition to any small tank.

  • Common names: Zebra Danio, Zebrafish, Striped Danio
  • Scientific Name: Danio Rerio
  • Life Span: 5 years
  • Size: 2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 65°-77°F (18.3°-25°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Diet: omnivore – high quality flake food, micro pellets, live or frozen daphnia or bloodworms.

9. Bluefin Notho (Nothobranchius Rachovii)

Bluefin Nothos (Rachovii Killifish) are a type of killifish originating from Mozambique, where they live in tiny bodies of water which dry up every year, killing the adults and leaving only their eggs. Because of this, Bluefin Notho only have a lifespan of 1-2 years.

Despite their short life span, the bluefin notho is a vibrant nano fish full of life and energy. Brightly colored, with metallic blues, deep reds, and stripy fins.

They will do best in a 5 gallon tank with tropical water parameters and lots of live aquarium plants.

  • Common names: Bluefin Notho, Rachovii Killifish
  • Scientific Name: Nothobranchius Rachovii
  • Life Span: 1-2 years
  • Size: 2.4 inches (6 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: semi-aggressive, especially between males
  • Temperature: 68°-75°F (20°-24°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • Diet: predator – frozen and live foods like daphnia, baby brine shrimp, bloodworms and cyclops

10. White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys Albonubes)

One of the hardiest species of freshwater and coldwater fish, the small While Cloud Minnow has the ability to adapt and thrive in a wide range of water parameters (45°-70°F).

Growing up to only 2 inches in length, this slim bodied fish can range from a bright golden color to a silvery blue with bright red fins.

They should be kept in a shoal of at least 6 and will often be most active when housed in cooler water temperatures. When cared for properly, they can have a lifespan of up to 5 years or longer. 

  • Common names: White Cloud Minnow, Canton Danio, Chinese Danio, White Cloud, White Cloud Mountain Fish
  • Scientific Name: Tanichthys Albonubes
  • Life Span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 45°-70°F (7.2°-21.1°C)
  • pH: 6.0-8.0
  • Diet: omnivore – flakes, micro pellets, live and frozen daphnia, baby brine shrimp and bloodworms.

11. Celestial Pearl Danio (Danio margaritatus)

The celestial pearl danio (galaxy rasbora), are small, 1 inch freshwater fish with a dark blue bod covered in golden spots.

This gold color also runs along their backs. Females have bright orange bases on their fins and tails. Males have large patches of red and black on their fins. They are gorgeous.

Not true schooling fish, celestial pearl danios are happier  in groups of one male per 3-4 females. Although primarily a peaceful fish, males can become aggressive over females, so keeping this ratio is key to a happy environment.

  • Common names: Celestial Pearl Danio, Galaxy Rasbora
  • Scientific Name: Danio margaritatus
  • Life Span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 1 inch (2.5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: males will fight over mating rights. Provide lots of hiding places.
  • Temperature: 73°-79°F (22.7°-26°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Diet: omnivore – flake food, micro pellets, live and frozen foods.

12. Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis Pumila)

The sparkling gourami (pygmy gourami) has a laterally compressed body with a deep chest that tapers slightly towards the tail.

Their bodies are grey or beige with bright metallic red and/or blue speckles. Their fins and tail are almost transparent with rows of more metallic speckles. Their eyes are large and metallic looking as well.

A small hardy fish, the sparkling gourami is a great choice for a small aquarium. A heavily planted, 10 gallon aquarium would be perfect for a small group of 3-5. They can do well in peaceful community tanks as long as they don’t have to compete for food with more aggressive fish.

  • Common names: Sparkling Gourami, pygmy gourami
  • Scientific Name: Trichopsis Pumila
  • Life Span: 4-5 years
  • Size: 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 76°-82°F (24.4°-27.7°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • Diet: omnivore. This species does best if given a mix of animal protein and algae-based foods: high quality community flake food, spirulina, micro pellets.

14. Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras Pygmaeus)

Pygmy corys are adorable tiny catfish that grow up to 1.3 inches. They are active bottom dwellers that have a slightly humped back. Their foreheads are steeply sloped up to the hump at their dorsal fin.

From there, the body tapers down towards the tail. These are great little cleaner fish and frankly, their behavior in a big school is pretty funny. They act like a pack of hyper little kids let loose in a candy store.

Best kept in groups of at least 5 in a ten gallon planted tank. However, a larger group (10 or more)  in a bigger tank would provide much more activity due to them feeling safer in larger numbers.

A peaceful fish, pygmy corys can be kept with other smaller fish species in a community tank. They’ll feed on algae wafers, sinking pellets and love a frozen bloodworm.

  • Common names: Pygmy Corydoras, Pygmy Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Corydoras Pygmaeus
  • Life Span: 3 years
  • Size: 1.3 inches (3 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 72°-79°F (22°-26°C)
  • pH: 6.4-7.4
  • Diet: omnivore – sinking foods like pellets and wafers. They also love frozen bloodworms and gel foods like Repashy Bottom Scratcher.

15. Otocinclus (Otocinclus Macrospilus)

Otocinclus are nano catfish bottom-dwellers famous for their algae consumption. A popular addition to most aquartist clean up crew, Otos are small cute fish that provide plenty of entertainment.

Their look is characterized by their armour plated body and suckermouths, otocinclus will stay small, growing up to 2 inches in length.

They’re easy to care for, and are best kept in schools of at least 5 in a 10 gallon planted tank. However, in the wild they are found in much larger shoals of thousands. So the larger you can do the more active your Otos will be.

Plenty of plants (java moss, java fern, anubias) and hardscape (rocks, driftwood) is ideal, and will go a long way to giving this little fish a happy environment.

  • Common names: Otocinclus, Oto, Oto cat, Dwarf Sucker Fish
  • Scientific Name: Otocinclus Macrospilus
  • Life Span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Beginner
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.5

Diet: herbivore – high quality algae wafer or blanched veggies like broccoli and zucchini.

15. Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

Close up of dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius) swimming in aquarium

The dwarf gourami is a small freshwater fish part of the gourami family, growing up to 3.5 inches in length, it’s excellent for small tanks.

This stunning little fish is notable for its vibrant color variants: blue, flame, neon, honey. Their color combinations make them a stand out choice for many aquarist’s small nano tanks.

Unlike the larger aggressive gouramis species, the dwarf gourami is a peaceful community fish. They are commonly found swimming on the upper levels of a tank, so they fit well with mid and bottom dwelling fish.

  • Common names: Dwarf Gourami, Flame Gourami, Powder Blue Gourami, Red Gourami, Sunset Gourami
  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster lalius
  • Life Span: 4-5 years
  • Size: 2-3.5 inches (8.6 centimeters)
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: peaceful
  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Diet: omnivore. Mix of animal protein and algae-based foods: high quality community flake food, spirulina, micro pellets.

Which Small Fish Is Right For Your Tank?

There really are some stunning nano fish available in the freshwater aquarium trade. Highlighting these gorgeous small fish shows that great things come in small packages.

When deciding on which fish is best for your small tank, it’s important to factor in the needs of the fish you want to keep. Your best bet is to tailor your tank around the species.

Remember that bigger tanks are actually easier to take care of in the long run. Plus, they give you more room for fish and plants.

It’s easy to see why nano tanks have become a craze. They’re beautiful but compact enough to fit lots of different budgets and living situations.

There are so many fun and creative things that can be done with these smaller tanks, the only limit is your imagination.

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Katherine Morgan

Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram


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By Robert Woods of

A 10-gallon fish tank is one of the most popular tank sizes available. It is great for beginners due to its small size, relatively cheap (i.e., ideal for those on a budget), and also makes a great breeder tank for the more experienced aquarist.

Stocking Your 10-Gallon Tank

While a 10-gallon tank is pretty small in comparison to other fish tanks, there are still plenty of stocking options when it comes to freshwater fish tanks.

Due to the small size of a 10-gallon fish aquarium, it’s really important to research and understand how to care for each individual species of freshwater fish that will be put into the tank. Pollutants can quickly build up if a small tank is overstocked or if regular water changes aren’t conducted.

There are some fish advisors who use the ‘rule of thumb,’ which suggests one inch of fish per gallon of water. This is not a great rule to follow, because some species require more space. Always research the individual species that you want to keep, how compatible they are with other species, and how many can be kept in a community tank.

There are plenty of stocking calculators available online which can help you decide how many of each species you can comfortably fit in your 10-gallon tank.

Most of the following freshwater fish are schooling fish, which should be kept in a species-only tank due to the small size of a 10-gallon tank. If you’re wanting to create a community tank, there are a few species listed here that you may be able to include, with care, if you want more of a variety of fish.

So, let’s take a look at the best freshwater fish for a 10-gallon tank.

Celestial Pearl Danios

Celestial Pearl Danios (Celestichthys margaritatus) are very peaceful fish that are easy to care for. They are a relatively new addition to the aquarium hobby, having only been discovered in 2006. They are also perfect for 10-gallon tanks because they only grow to a maximum of one inch.

This stunning fish has a deep blue metallic body with jewel-like spots and horizontal orange bands on its fins, which add a welcome splash of color.

They prefer well-planted aquariums with plenty of rocks, caves and driftwood, and should be kept in schools of a minimum of six. You can keep up to 10 Celestial Pearl Danios in a 10-gallon tank.

If you choose to keep 10, then keep it a species-only tank. If you have less than that, you could perhaps include some Cherry Shrimp.


Marina polyresin cave

SubstrateSource cholla wood 4-inch driftwood

Golden Dwarf Barbs

While the Golden Dwarf Barb (Pethia gelius) is one of the less well-known Barbs, it is an ideal freshwater fish for a 10-gallon tank because it only grows to 1.5 inches.

This fish is native to northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh, and they are usually a rich golden-yellow color with black markings.

They are happiest when they’re kept in a well-planted tank with a mixture of floating plants and driftwood. They should be kept in minimum groups of five. You can fit a maximum of 10 in a 10-gallon tank.

They can also be kept in smaller schools of five with a few other diminutive species, such as Microdevario or Trigonostigma.


SubstrateSource cholla wood 6-inch driftwood

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) are one of the most well-known freshwater aquarium fish. They have iridescent blue bodies and a bright red stripe starting midway down their body.

They prefer plenty of plants to hide in, and adding driftwood and rocks will replicate the natural environment that they are used to in the clear streams of South America.

Neon Tetras grow to around 1.25 inches long and are very peaceful. They thrive when kept in schools; you can fit around 10 in a 10-gallon tank.


Pisces USA Seiryu aquarium rock

Pygmy Corydoras

The Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus) is a tiny, peaceful pet that should be kept in groups of around 10. They have an iridescent body with a horizontal black line that runs from their snout to their tail.

These freshwater aquarium fish need densely planted tanks and plenty of hiding spots. You can use wide-leaved plants and driftwood to create hiding places. They also need a sandy substrate to protect their barbels.

These fish require weekly partial water changes because they are so sensitive to nitrate levels. 

Growing to a length of around 3 centimeters, Pygmy Corydoras should be kept in species-only tanks with eight to 12 fish, or with other tiny specimens such as Ember Tetras or micro Rasboras.


Marina Ecoscaper Lobelia silk plant

CaribSea Super Naturals freshwater sand


Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are one of the most beginner-friendly fish; they are very easy to care for. They’re so easy to care for that they can breed without any extra assistance, so if you’re putting them in a 10-gallon tank, you should have either males only or females only. Otherwise they’ll breed, and the fry will quickly overstock your tank (unless you want to set up a specific breeding tank).

You can have between five to 10 guppies in a 10-gallon tank. If you’re setting up a breeding tank, use the ratio of one male to two females (and make sure you have another tank to transfer the fry into!)

Guppies come in many different colors, the males being a lot more colorful than the females. They thrive in well-planted aquariums with hardy varieties such as Java Fern and Java Moss.


Marina Hang-On breeding box

Betta Fish

Bettas (Betta splendens) are another popular freshwater aquarium fish. They come in a wide variety of vibrant colors and are very easy to care for.

Ideally, they should be kept singularly, although depending on the nature of your Betta, they may be suitable for a community tank if they are peaceful enough. They should not be kept with species that look similar (for example, fancy guppies, which have similar flowing fins).

Many people keep these fish in small bowls, however, they should really be kept in a planted tank with a filter.


Tetra Whisper power filter 30

Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) is a peaceful fish with moderate care needs. This makes them ideal for people with previous fishkeeping experience.

Males are orangey-red with blue vertical stripes, whereas females are silvery blue-gray with very faint yellow vertical stripes.

They can be kept with other peaceful fish, and the tank should be kept in a quiet area—loud noises can scare them. They need plenty of plants, including floating plants, and choosing a dark substrate will help to display their colors.

You can keep three Dwarf Gouramis in a 10-gallon tank, or just one with a school of other peaceful fish, such as five Neon Tetras.


Pure Water Pebbles aquarium gravel

Tips for 10-Gallon Fish Aquariums

It’s important to stay on top of water changes with a 10-gallon tank, because ammonia levels and nitrites can build up quickly.

Make sure you don’t overfeed your fish with fish food or overstock your tank; these things will also have a negative impact on the water quality.

Always do your own research, and don’t rely solely on the advice from the pet or fish store.

Any of these seven freshwater fish will work well in a 10-gallon tank and will provide you with an entertaining and colorful aquarium. Good luck with your 10-gallon aquarium!

Best Freshwater Fish for 10-gallon tank

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Vertical Tank Questions

Vertical Tank Questions

Postby mankup007 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:43 pm

Hello Everyone,

This is my first topic on this forum. This is my first forum of fish and aquarium and I love it very much, Everything here is too much good and nice and great and one more thing I don't have words to express. (Please Don't mind my language grammar and spelling)

So I have some questions about the vertical fish tank. Since we don't have much space in our room for horizontally tank, that's why I decided to make a vertical aquarium by my own. When I was making I don't know anything, I only know that I just have to put the fish in that tank and it's all done. But when the making is in progress I started to read some articles and topics in this forum. And then I know that it is not the thing that you just put the fish in the tank, but there is a lot things to do and to make the fish alive, happy and healthy. I have one picture of my tank and you can see that in my profile.

My tank is 3 foot height, 1 foot width, 1 foot length. That is about 20 gallon because I left some part empty. Now I have 11 fishes in it and I have under-gravel filter, so from here the question start :-

Do I need more space, will fish be ok in this, do fish get enough space to swim, what else I can do to make my fish health and happy.

I know the rules now about the fish that how much water they need normally. But after some time I will be making another tank which will be of 403.95 Gallon. And I want to keep some of my old fish in it with some other new fish too. But since this tank will be a lot much expensive so for sure it will take time.

I want to know what else I can do so that no fish die, till now only one has die and about 28 days has gone. I am happy that my fish are alive and I will try to make them alive how much I can.

I can also donate my fish to pet store if my tank is over crowed. So please help me and tell me.

Thanks in advanced bye bye take care....

Top 10 Fish For A 10 Gallon Aquarium!

21 Best Fish For 5 Gallon Tanks (With Pictures)

There are a surprising amount of options out there when it comes to the best fish for 5 gallon tanks. Even though aquariums of this size are too small for many species, there are still plenty that can thrive!

This list will show you the best options available, and provide some helpful information about each. If you want to learn more about a particular species on our list simply click the link to read their in-depth care guide.

Author Note: While many of these fish can be kept in a 5 gallon tank, we typically advocate for a larger tank if possible. The extra size won’t take up much more room in your home, and will make a big difference on the overall health and happiness of your fish.

We created this list of the best fish for 5 gallon tanks primarily for aquarists who have tank size or budget constraints. But if you can, give your fish a little more room!

Betta Fish

Betta fish are the quintessential “Small Space” species. These fancy fish do not require massive aquariums to stay healthy. In fact, they’re used to shallow and cramped environments (which makes them one of the best fish for 5 gallon tanks).

Betta fish in a 5 gallon tank

Bettas are native to rice paddies in Southeast Asia. Their natural habitat is murky, difficult to navigate, and a little cramped. 

On top of that, betta fish aren’t very social. They’re naturally aggressive and will usually pick fights with fish that encroach their domain. As a result, most aquarists choose to keep these fish on their own.

As long as you have the essentials, bettas will do just fine. Despite their lax space requirements, this species is a real stunner. Their eye-popping jewel-tone colors and expansive fins pack a huge visual punch.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Guppy Fish

Guppies are one of the most well-known species in the aquarium community. Great for seasoned aquarists and novices alike; they aren’t very demanding. Guppies can get by with very little space, thanks in large part to their tiny size.

Multiple guppy fish swimming together in a freshwater aquarium

These fish for 5 gallons tanks only get to be a hair over two inches at the largest. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that guppies are dull or boring. Male guppy fish sport a fan-like tail filled with beautiful colors and patterns.

Even in a compact aquarium, the fins are eye-catching. There are over 300 guppy varieties. Plus, they’re all peaceful and community-friendly fish. House a couple in a small tank, and you can enjoy their playful demeanor without a vast space commitment.

  • Size: 2.4 inches (max)
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Clown Killifish

Hailing from small streams in West Africa, the clown killifish is an interesting species. It doesn’t even reach an inch and a half in length. Plus, they’re used to shallow waters.

A very thin clown killifish

Despite their small stature, clown killifish are natural-born micro predators. They stick to the surface of the water to seek out insects and tiny microorganisms to eat. These fish pay no attention to plants, but they do appreciate the cover they provide.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that clown killifish are adorned with a lot of colors. The dart-shaped body features stripes of black, subtle yellow accents, and some splashes of bright blue.

  • Size: 1.4 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Neon Tetra

No discussion about the best fish for 5 gallon tanks is complete without mentioning the neon tetra! These brightly colored critters are incredibly popular. They’re a schooling species that thrive in a community. As long as they have others around them, they are happy!

Two neon tetra fish swimming together

Neon tetras have a torpedo-shaped body. A long stripe of iridescent shimmering blue runs laterally along the body—meanwhile, a splash of red accents the tail.

Easy-going and docile, these types of tetras are a rather low-maintenance species. They’re also quite hardy and can perform well in a wide range of environments. That said, they do prefer conditions that mimic their natural habitat.

The warm, soft, and slightly acidic waters of South America are best.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Chili Rasbora

Next up, we have the chili rasbora. This species is considered a nano fish, as it only reaches about 0.7 inches in size. Needless to say, they are the perfect contenders for smaller aquariums.

Mosquito rasbora swimming through a 5 gallon tank

Of course, their small stature doesn’t mean that they don’t make a visual impact. Their intense red coloration most often defines these fish. Black accents throughout the fins and body create a nice contrast that pops in tanks of any size.

Chili rasboras come from blackwater environments. You don’t have to go so far as to stain the water pitch black, but these fish do enjoy fine-tuned parameters. Some tannin infusion is always welcome. Most importantly, don’t forget to monitor conditions to prevent any significant health problems. 

  • Size: 0.7 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling gourami are pretty easy to please when it comes to space requirements, as they only reach a mere half-inch in size. The small stature of this species lends credence to its common name. A popular shoaling species, large swathes of fish create a glimmering display that you won’t forget.

Sparkling gourami changing directions in the water

These fish have a lot of colors packed into their small body! Look closely, and you’ll see polka-dotted fins, stripes or red, and a bright blue eye. 

You’ll have to be patient to see all that detail. Sparkling gourami are quite active, zipping around the confined space to get their exercise fish. 

When planning a habitat for sparkling gourami, don’t forget about plants! While these are some of the best fish for 5 gallons tanks, you’ll need to plan for standing water and tons of live vegetation (which can be challenging in a tank of that size).

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain minnows are aptly named from where they originate. The species was first discovered on White Cloud Mountain in China. Since then, they’ve become one of the most popular fish for 5 gallon tanks (or anyone who is seeking a smaller species).

A White Cloud Mountain minnow searching for food

Natural surface skimmers, White Cloud Mountain minnows occupy the upper part of the water column. They do best in clear waters with precisely managed conditions. Unlike most fish in the trade, this species isn’t tropical.

They prefer cooler conditions, making it a challenge to create a thriving community. White Cloud Mountain minnows can live in warm waters temporarily. But long-term living will decrease their lifespan.

Create a cool-water habitat filled with plants to see the best results.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Molly Fish

Molly fish, or mollies as they are affectionately called, are another community staple. Fish enthusiasts all over the world revere these simple livebearers.

White molly fish

Small and self-sufficient, mollies are a breeze to take care of. They’re undemanding and can breed prolifically with very little intervention on your part.

The best part of owning a molly fish is that it’s very adaptable. While they have their preferences, the parameter range is quite wide with this species. They can thrive in everything from barren freshwater environments to lush brackish waters!

Mollies are available in a wide range of colors as well. They can also take on a few different fin designs, giving you plenty of aesthetic options.

  • Size: 4 to 4.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Endler’s Livebearer

At one point in time, Endler’s livebearers were lumped into the same group as guppies. At face value, they look very similar! Both have a pint-sized torpedo body and an expansive fin. The two species are also livebearing.

Endler's livebearer fish for a five gallon tank

But, Endler’s livebearers are a unique species in their own right. Like guppies and mollies, Endler’s livebearers come in a myriad of colors. This species is quite vibrant, taking on several patches of neon hues. Many also have transparent patches, creating the illusion of floating color.

This species is endemic to a single body of water, Laguna De Patos. Thus, they do have specific parameter requirements to meet. To stay healthy, Endler’s livebearers need hard water and relatively high pH levels.

  • Size: 1.8 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Honey Gourami

The honey gourami has a similar appearance to standard gourami. Their bodies are slim, leading to a point at the supra terminal mouth. They even have the thread-like pectoral fins that are iconic for the gourami species.

Male honey gourami inside a clean aquarium

However, the honey gourami has a significantly different color. This particular species takes on an orange-red color, which is a drastic difference from the blue hues standard gouramis.

This species is also quite small, reaching about two inches long as adults. This makes them another great fish for a five gallon tank.

They’re peaceful and can be a bit timid around highly active fish. As a result, they do fine in closer quarters around others. These fish require clear access to the surface as well, as they are air-breathing labyrinth fish.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate-Expert

Scarlet Badis

Another nano species, the scarlet badis has no issues living comfortably in a small aquarium. Adult males reach less than an inch long. Females only make it to about half an inch!

A single scarlet badis swimming by itself

Even still, the beauty of the scarlet badis is undeniable. Clad in gold and orange, these fish stand out in nearly any environment. Small accents of blue make the fins pop and provide a touch of glimmer as they skitter around the tank.

Keeping scarlet badis in good shape can be a bit of a handful. They are on the picky side when it comes to parameters. Make sure to test the conditions regularly and perform routine water changes to avoid significant shifts in pH.

  • Size: 0.8 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Dwarf Pea Puffer

These adorable little creatures have become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s not hard to see why!

Dwarf pea puffer swimming near the bottom of the tank

The dwarf pea puffer has a dense and stout body. The belly is bright yellow. However, the top features swirls of green, brown, black, and shimmering gold. Tiny fins and enormous, bulbous eyes make this puffer look like a cartoon character!

When most think of puffers, they imagine fist-sized fish. However, the dwarf pea is only about an inch and a half when fully grown (which is why they’re commonly kept in 5 gallon aquariums).

Don’t expect to see the dwarf pea puffer darting through an aquarium. While they are active and move around a lot, they aren’t the most powerful swimmers. You might see them swimming through vegetation as they hide.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Pygmy Corydoras

Many aquarists are familiar with the standard-size corydoras. They’re a popular catfish species that many include in community tanks. But did you know that a dwarf variant exists?

Pygmy corydoras resting on some moss

The dwarf corydoras, also known as the dwarf cory catfish, is a tiny version of the iconic species. It’s only about three-quarters of an inch long. However, it retains that signature cory shape.

You’ll see the under-turned mouth, the large eyes, and the bulbous body. Not only are they some of the best fish for 5 gallon tanks, they are also quite beautiful when it comes to their colorful design. Streaks of yellow intermingle with splashes of shimmer to create an eye-catching fish that gleams in the light.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Celestial Pearl Danio

Celestial pearl danios are a highly sought-after species with some awe-inspiring looks. The main body of the fish is deep blue. Cream-colored patches dot the body, mimicking the look of a starry night above! 

One celestial pearl danio in a five gallon aquarium

The fins are bright red and feature distinct black striping. The unique combination of colors and patterns makes this fish one of the most beautiful around.

Caring for celestial pearl danios is pretty straightforward. But, you have to be careful about the conditions. They’re native to clean bodies of water filled with rich vegetation. 

When parameters are off, celestial pearls are prone to stress and disease. They need right conditions, plenty of hiding spots, and a good diet to stay healthy. 

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Least Killifish

At only about an inch long, least killifish are another species that does well in cramped quarters. They’re made to thrive in rougher conditions that other species can’t stomach.

One least killifish swimming alone

Least killifish come from stagnant bodies of water and sluggish waterways. You can often find them in coastal lowlands, searching through relatively barren environments to find food.

This species has adapted well to a rough life, making it a walk in the park in captivity. They’re not fussy when it comes to food and can do well in small habitats without missing a beat.

Sometimes shy and standoffish, least killifish do not like a lot of racket. They prefer to stay in their own lane and mind their business.

  • Size: 1.4 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

Harlequin Rasbora

While not the brightest-colored fish in the world, harlequin rasboras still know how to attract attention. Their diamond-shaped body is accented with a triangular patch of black. It covers the lower half, creating a sharp contrast that draws the eye in an aquarium.

A harlequin rasbora swimming in an aquarium

Harlequin rasboras are hardy community fish. They adapt well to most tropical conditions and can get along with just about any species. These fish prefer peace over aggression, but they can become targets to larger fish if you’re not careful. 

This species also prefers blackwater environments. They enjoy the perks that come with tannin-filled water. The fish also like the privacy that comes with a dark cover.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Nerite Snail

If you want a critter that will actively keep your tank clean, the nerite snail is well worth your consideration. These tiny snails are lovely and discreet. They often spend their days clinging to surfaces in the tank as they chow down on algae.

A small nerite snail on the substrate

Nerite snails are prolific algae eaters. They eat so much of the green stuff that you usually don’t have to feed them any supplementary food. A well-maintained aquarium will provide all the organic food they need.

This invert measures about an inch in diameter (which makes them a no-brainer for 5 gallon tanks). They come in many different colors and varieties. But, most feature muted yellow and black shells. You might see some high-contrast patterns like stripes and spots.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Cherry Shrimp

Here’s an ever-popular invertebrate in the freshwater aquarium community. Cherry shrimp are in high demand. So much so that breeders have a unique grading system to determine a shrimp’s value.

Red cherry shrimp looking for food in a five gallon tank

Specimens with more intense red coloration always fetch the highest price. Those shrimp feature the most solid and vibrant coloration. Lower grades may only have a couple of patches of red against a transparent body.

Cherry shrimp don’t need a ton of space to stay healthy. They do, however, require rich vegetation, surfaces to eat algae off of, and pristine water conditions. Like other invertebrates, cherry shrimp are prone to disease and stress when parameters go south.

  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Malaysian Trumpet Snail

Malaysian trumpet snails are another natural tank cleaner. These critters survive off of algae, plant detritus, and other forms of waste. They work hard to prevent leftover food and debris from souring tank conditions (which won’t be difficult in a five gallon tank).

Malaysian trumpet snail exploring the substrate

The most exciting thing about this invert species is the shell. Rather than the sizable rounded shell of most freshwater snails, Malaysian trumpets have a conical one. Reaching lengths of up to one and a half inches, the cone is a powerful burrowing and navigation tool.

Malaysian trumpet snails have a lot to offer aquariums. But, they can also become a pest if you’re not careful. They breed rapidly, increasing your snail population in only a short period.

  • Size: 0.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp are fun aquatic creatures that are regularly kept in five gallon aquariums. They’re a joy to watch as they scurry around the tank and eat anything edible they can get their legs on.

Amano shrimp resting on a rock

This species is quite productive when it comes to algae-eating. A small group can prevent an aquarium from becoming cloudy or dangerous. 

Best of all, individual shrimp don’t need a ton of room. Small groups can cohabitate just fine. Larger colonies will start to create bioload issues. But if you manage to keep numbers contained, they can thrive in smaller habitats.

All they need is some high-quality decor and plants. These freshwater aquarium shrimp will eat the plants as they decay and find surfaces to scrape algae.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner

Dwarf Crayfish

Here’s an interesting alternative to shrimp or snails. Dwarf crayfish are an excellent addition to smaller tanks. They look like miniature lobsters, complete with claws and everything!

An orange dwarf crayfish

However, they are much more manageable. Dwarf crayfish are only two inches or less in size. Plus, they are like tank janitors. They eat all the unfavorable stuff, leaving behind a healthy tank.

When setting up an aquarium for crayfish, it’s essential to provide plenty of decor. Plants, rocks, and driftwood act as hiding places for these creatures. They become quite vulnerable after molting, so amble hiding spots will make them feel more comfortable.

  • Size: 1.6 to 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner


The best fish for 5 gallon tanks can still bring a great deal of enjoyment and fulfilment to you as an aquarist. These small species are beautiful, fun to watch, and rewarding to care for!

If you have a good species in mind that didn’t make the list, feel free to let us know! We might even add it in the future.

Millie Sheppard

Millie is a passionate aquarist who caught the fishkeeping bug in high school and has been addicted ever since.


Tank best fish for vertical

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Top 10 Fish For A 10 Gallon Aquarium!

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