The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Maintaining a 5-Gallon Fish Tank for a Stunning Underwater World

Are you ready to dive into the world of fishkeeping and create a stunning underwater world?

If you’re considering a 5-gallon fish tank, you’ve come to the right place. In this ultimate guide, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing and maintaining a 5-gallon fish tank, ensuring that your aquatic pets thrive and your tank becomes a captivating centerpiece in your home.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fish keeper, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the right choices and maintain a healthy environment for your fish. We’ll cover essential topics such as:

  • Tank Size
  • Filtration
  • Lighting
  • Heating
  • Water Quality
  • Suitable Fish Species
  • Feeding
  • and Regular Maintenance.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have the confidence and knowledge to create a vibrant underwater paradise that not only showcases the natural beauty of your fish but also enhances the aesthetics of your space. So, let’s get started on this exciting journey into the world of 5-gallon fish tanks!

Best Overall

Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit

Marineland ML90609

✔ Works quietly
✔ Has an LEDs function
✔ Easy to assemble


Premium Choice


Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

✔ Durable
✔ Terrific three-stage filtration system
✔ Operates quietly


Editor’s Choice


Glofish Aquarium Tank Kit

✔ Has 1 LED hood
✔ Has 15 blue LED bulbs
✔ Amazing three-stage filtration system


Top-Quality 5 Gallon Fish Tank Reviews

1. Marineland ML90609 Aquarium Kit

Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit

Not all tank filters are created equal. See for instance, the Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit. This is the kind of filter that all hobbyists – whether beginner or seasoned one should have.

What I admire about this five gallon fish tank with filter kit is its size. It's so small and compact it fits any small space. This is very ideal in offices and living rooms. It is also ideal for aquariums that can be put on top of a small desk. I even put one in my kids' rooms, and they're so delighted to see Betta fish every night before they go to bed.

In terms of performance, the filter in this aquarium kit works magnificently. The three-stage filtration system effectively keeps all the unwanted elements out of the water – particles, chemicals, and harmful organisms that could compromise the health of the fish and plants. Even though the filter is particularly small, it keeps the water crystal clear and totally smell-free at all times.

There are so many things to like about this product; like the fact that it is easy to assemble. I didn't need to use any special tools just to set its filter up. But I think the top-rated part of this product is its lighting. It keeps the aquarium well-lit which becomes a charming part of the decoration, especially at night.

What I don't appreciate about this 5 gallon aquarium kit is how the LED lighting looks gets dimmer over time. Just four months of using this filter in my home office aquarium and the LEDs are already getting darker. It can be easily replaced though.

  • Easy to assemble
  • Works quietly
  • Has an excellent three-stage filtration system
  • Has a hinged canopy that functions as a sliding door
  • Has a back compartment that hides away all the accessories that could block the view
  • Has an LEDs function as decorative light
  • The LED is a little dim
Having said all of the important information above, I can confidently state that the Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit is an excellent product. It works quietly, is easy to set up, has an amazing three-stage filtration system which keeps the water clean and smell-free all the time. It has so many amazing features that hobbyists will love – so if you are looking for a good five gallon aquarium kit, this one is a great option.

2. Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit


If you are a complete amateur in fishkeeping, chances are you are looking for 5 gallon tank fish combinations that would fit your level of expertise. The Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit is definitely the one that will help your fish thrive even with minimal supervision.

There are so many things to like about this product. First is the design. I was very impressed that the filter itself was incorporated into the tank. Not all filters can be integrated into the tank itself. This one, however, makes things a whole lot easier. The filter is separated into a small compartment which allows the fish to roam freely without getting interrupted, although the filter looks a bit bulky.

I also commend the wonderful display of LED lights, especially at night. This feature brings out the beauty of the aquarium to a whole new level. I can easily see the condition of the contents of the tank because of the balanced illumination LEDs bring.

Seeing the design of the filter makes me agree on the manufacturers' brilliant marketing strategy. The filter fits perfectly in the tank, therefore reducing any potential drawbacks that other separate products have. Moreover, the filter and the tank are absolutely durable and can withstand accidental bumps without getting compromised.

What I don't like about this product is the uncontrollable flow rate. The flow rate is too strong for my fish. Sometimes I see them getting blown over when they pass through the portion of the aquarium where the water is delivered back to the tank.

  • Has a terrific three-stage filtration system
  • Has 37 LEDs to illuminate the tank's contents
  • Package includes: BioMax bio rings, foam block, and activated carbon
  • Durable
  • Operates quietly
  • The flow rate is too powerful for Bettas
After carefully weighing the pros and cons, I can honestly say that the Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit is an impressive kit. A complete beginner will truly appreciate the features this product have. The 5 gallon tank is included, so you don't need to worry about how the filter will fit on it or even how to set it up. Moreover, its three-stage filtration system will make sure that the water is clean and safe all the time. It is durable and operates quietly. Finally, the LEDs will illuminate the tank and highlight its beauty even during nighttime.

3. Glofish Aquarium Tank Kit


If you are looking for a good aquarium kit that would hide the fact that you are a complete beginner in fishkeeping, the top-quality product that you can use in your newfound hobby is the Glofish Aquarium Tank Kits with LED Lighting.

One of the top-tier things about this product is it comes with a 5-gallon tank. If you are a complete novice, you will find the feature quite beneficial because then you won't have to purchase it separately. The curved shape of the tank appeals to sensitive aesthetics.

The lighting feature of this aquarium kit is truly elegant. It has 15 blue LED lights which not only provides illumination during night time, but also add an extra layer of beauty. The lighting works magnificently if placed in a dark corner of any room. I think that people who will see this lighting effect in an aquarium will make them get one for themselves thereafter.

Although this filter is designed for 5-gallon fish tank size, I believe that its filtration system is remarkable. It can successfully remove any standing debris or particles, harmful chemicals, and unwanted organisms to keep the water clean and odor-free at all times. Beginners will also love using this filter because it can really take some stress of fishkeeping away from them.

What I don't appreciate about this product, though, is how the LEDs gradually destroy the ornaments inside the tank. The fish thrives with the LEDs on however, it's the opposite when it comes with the plants. The upper portion of my ornamental plants that are near the LEDs withered. I can turn the lighting off, but it would make the aquarium dull.

  • Has 15 blue LED bulbs
  • Has 1 LED hood
  • Has an amazing three-stage filtration system
  • Plants start to get a bit flaky after two weeks
To wrap it up, I am confident to say that the Glofish Aquarium Tank Kits with LED Lighting is a great filter for every beginner. Even the seasoned ones are impressed with this one. The package comes with a reliable 5-gallon tank, has 15 mesmerizing LEDs, and an efficient filtration system.

4. Tetra Crescent Aquarium Kit


Novice fishkeepers should have a reliable aquarium kit to help them maintain the health of their fish. If you want to keep your pet fish and plants alive, the most trusted product that can help you is the Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit.

What I appreciate about this product is its portability. Every important component of the filter is packed together in such as small space in order to bring out the highest quality of water for the fish. The filter works as if it was intended for larger tanks. Moreover, it can be easily set up without using special tools. This is perfect for busy hobbyists.

The lighting is another commendable feature of this product. The effect of the LED on the aquarium is so mesmerizing I can't divert my gaze on the aquarium to anything else. This is great for those who use their aquariums to relax.

The filtration system is also wonderful. Once started, the filter will make sure that no unwanted particles or harmful chemicals will linger in the water. For beginning hobbyists who wants to save every penny, this filter will make sure that the fish and plants will survive and thrive inside your precious tank and won't easily die off. Finally, I love how this filter works quietly. This can be a phenomenal decoration piece in a classroom, library, or bedroom.

If there's anything that I did not really like about this 5 gallon fish tank setup is its bulkiness. The size of the filter makes it difficult for fish to swim around and explore every nook and cranny of the aquarium. I just wish that they reduce its size so that the fish have some freedom to move around.

  • Portable
  • Has an efficient mechanical and chemical filtration
  • Has an energy efficient LED lighting
  • Durable
  • Easy to set up
  • Operates quietly
  • The bulkiness of the filter prevents the fish from moving freely
All in all, I can say that the Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit is one of the top-quality filters for novices. It is portable, easy to set up, durable, and operates quietly. Furthermore, it has an amazing LED lights that illuminate the contents of the tank properly without consuming too much energy. If you are thinking about keeping fish as a pet, this is the aquarium kit that you need to include in your shopping list.

5. Marina LED Aquarium Kit


Every beginning hobbyist needs a reliable and affordable aquarium kit. This way, they can slowly learn the process of maintaining their tanks and the contents thereof. If you know someone who is interested in keeping fish as a pet, the top-tier filter that can help them succeed is the Marina LED Aquarium Kit.

What I like about this product is its reliability. I was surprised to see that it performs in a comparable level to other larger aquarium kits. Its three-stage filtration system keeps the water free from floating particles, undesirable chemicals, and harmful organisms which can prevent the fish and plants from thriving.

I also admire the LED which lights the canopy of the aquarium. I love how it illuminates the plants and the fish through crystal-clear water. In my opinion, this is truly a marvelous addition to the product that can help other people appreciate the beauty of the aquarium. If I can have it my way, I want all of the filters to have LED lights to bring out the charm of my other tanks.

The best thing about this kit is the inclusion of fish food and the Nutrafin Aqua Plus water conditioner in the package. I highly doubt that other brands offer the same features. This is perfect for those who are just beginning to understand the meticulous nature of fishkeeping. When I gave this aquarium kit for my 12-year-old son, he was thrilled to see the fish food and gave his Betta fish straight away. Of course, I had to teach him how to feed the fish properly, it just shows how great this kit is even for kids. It's a cool 5 gallon fish tank set.

What I don't like about this product is the way it vibrates loudly, especially at night. My son complained about it and had to shut the filter down immediately. He thought that the filter should only be turned on during the daytime. After a nice conversation about this matter, he learned that the filter should not be turned off except during maintenance breaks. We disassembled the filter and reassembled it a few times until the vibration was eventually reduced and the noise became tolerable enough for sleep.

  • Amazing LED for the aquarium's canopy
  • Has an excellent three-stage filtration system
  • Fish food included in the package
  • Nutrafin Aqua Plus water conditioner included in the package
  • Uses a quick-change cartridge
  • Compact
  • Durable
  • Vibrates wildly at times
To cap off what has been discussed above, I can confidently state that the Marina LED Aquarium Kit is one of the most trusted starter kits in the market these days. It is compact and highly durable, so you won't need to replace it anytime soon. It has an excellent filtration system which keeps the water clean all the time. Finally, you will definitely save money because of the extra fish food and water conditioner included in the package.

6. Penn Plax Aquarium Kit


When it comes to performance, nothing beats the Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit. Whether a pro or a complete novice, this product is absolutely perfect for you.

Complete beginners will absolutely love this aquarium kit. The package comes with a 5-gallon aquarium and its own filter. The filter is easy to set up; just plug it in and it is ready to go. Because the filter is so compact, it doesn't obstruct the view. I can properly see the movements of my fish. Furthermore, the filter works quietly. This makes it an ideal decoration inside a bedroom, classroom or a library.

The aquarium's rounded front corners are perfect for small kids. This way, they won't cut themselves when they accidentally bumped their head into the tank's corner. Moreover, the LED lamp provides excellent illumination, especially at night. This allows me to properly check on the condition of the fish and plants without straining my eyes.

In terms of performance, the filter of this aquarium kit is truly amazing. It has a three-stage filtration system which keeps the water in pristine condition 24/7. It keeps unwanted particles, harmful chemicals, and unwelcome organisms which can lead to water's discoloration and foul odor. I think that you won't believe this filter's magnificent performance unless you have one for yourself.

What I really hate about this particular product is the lighting fixture. Sure, it is bright, relaxing even. However, after only a few months, it becomes completely useless. I thought that the light bulb needed a replacement. But after examining it, I found out that it was the electrical connection that got compromised.

  • The aquarium has rounded corners
  • Has an LED lamp
  • Operates quietly
  • Easy to set up
  • Compact
  • Doesn't get in the view
  • Easy to maintain
  • The lighting fixture is unreliable
After carefully considering all of the important facts stated above, I can say without hesitation that the Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit is one of the best 5 gallon fish tank products in the market this year. The kit comes with a 5-gallon aquarium and an LED lamp. The tank has a rounded front corner which is perfect for places where kids roam about. It is compact, easy to set up, and easy to maintain. If you are thinking of keeping a fish, this product will help you keep your pets thriving.

7. Fluval 10528A1 Aquarium Kit


If there is a perfect product to help complete beginners to get started with a fishkeeping hobby, this product is none other than Fluval 10528A1 Evo V Marine Aquarium Kit. This particular aquarium kit has features that both seasoned and novice hobbyists will surely appreciate.

The lighting system is absolutely terrific. With just one touch, I can turn on and turn off the LEDs. The lighting's character is truly wonderful. I also realized that this can become a great decoration in any space I placed the aquarium on. What I was surprised to learn is how LEDs are vital to coral growth. Apparently, the LEDs of this particular filter promote the growth of said marine creature!

In terms of performance, the filter of this aquarium kit's three-stage filtration system is really fantastic. It can easily clean the water without getting strained. Moreover, the water doesn't get any bad smell after every kind of fish food I put there. I think that novices will appreciate how powerful its filtration system is.

Other positive feature of this product is its durability. I am happy to report that after almost five months of using this in one of my 5-gallon tanks, it is still in top condition. This is something that beginners will appreciate because they won't have to replace their whole aquarium kit soon.

If there is one thing that I don't approve of this product is how tight it looks from a distance. The honeycomb cover may be doing a good job hiding the filter away but in reality, it makes the aquarium look uncomfortably compressed. I feel like the fish doesn't have enough space to move around.

  • The LED lighting is ideal for coral growth
  • Has a top notch three-stage filtration system
  • Has a stylish honeycomb cover to hide the filter
  • Has a touch-start day and night lighting
  • Durable
  • Compact
  • Not spacious enough for other fish
After carefully weighing the pros and cons, I believe that the Fluval 10528A1 Evo V Marine Aquarium Kit is a magnificent product. It is durable, stylish, and provides high quality performance. You can be confident that the tank water will always be in top condition. If you are thinking about purchasing an aquarium kit, I am confident that this one will help you get started.

8. Carolina Biological Supply Company Aquarium Tank


Sometimes, you don't need a filter to ensure your pet fish's survival. All you need is a good aquarium to launch a successful career in fishkeeping. Or maybe you want the option to purchase a separate filter yourself. For such purposes, the Aquarium Tank, Glass, 5-1/2 Gal by Carolina Biological Supply Company would be good for you.

If you want to go back to basics, this is the aquarium that you should be looking for. This 5 ½ gallon tank is made of triple-strength glass that is protected by a silicone rubber. This makes that tank able to hold the water without straining and eventually breaking.

The thickness of the glass is just enough to accommodate the weight of the filter it is going to use. In addition, no amount of seawater can decrease the integrity of this aquarium. This makes it an ideal tank for marine fish and plants.

If there is one drawback with this product, it's that it is not a 5-gallon fish tank with a filter and heater. But as I mentioned above, you can simply purchase one on your own additional aquarium equipment.

  • Has a lifetime warranty
  • Made of triple-strength glass and silicone rubber
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to maintain
  • Highly affordable
  • No filter included
After everything is said and done, I can confidently say that the Aquarium Tank, Glass, 5-1/2 Gal is an ideal tank for beginners. It is durable, easy to clean and maintain. This tank is not only perfect for hobbyists but also teachers, researchers, and those who are undergoing therapy. When looking for cheap 5-gallon fish tanks, this is the one.

Outdated Products

MarineLand Nook Aquarium Kit (Outdated)


If you want a serious aquarium kit to help you get started on your newfound hobby, one of the most trusted products that you should try using is the MarineLand Nook Aquarium Kit.

Personally, one of the top-tier features of this aquarium kit is the wide front. This gives the illusion that the tank is huge. Moreover, it is fun to see the fish swimming around because it provides a visual effect that the fish are large.

The LEDs provide not only illumination but also a fantastic effect on the tank. Once the lights are turned on, there is a whole new level of beauty that can be viewed from the aquarium. This is what made me fall in love with this particular product. It really became an integral part of my home office's decoration.

On the other hand, the filter's three-stage filtration system gives the water crystal-clear quality. Through its mechanical filtration, no amount of debris or particles is left on the water. The biological filter removes harmful organisms which can affect the health of the fish and plants inside the tank. Finally, the chemical filter prevents the water from getting discoloration and bad smell.

I have observed that this filter is easy to set up and maintain. This is beneficial to me because I am a very busy person. This way, I don't need to focus a significant portion of my time just on maintaining the filter. I think amateurs will also love this feature as it will not take too much of their time and effort.

Make no mistake; this aquarium kit is great, but it has some flaws. What I don't appreciate about this product is the tank is actually too small for diverse plants and fish. I also feel like they are too cramped inside.

  • Has a curved front for wide viewing effect
  • Has a shiny cover with built-in LEDs
  • Has a powerful filtration system
  • Compact
  • Easy to maintain
  • Tank too small for placing diverse plants and fish
All in all, I think that the MarineLand Nook Aquarium Kit delivers a top-notch performance that can satisfy both amateurs and seasoned hobbyists. It has a powerful filtration system that keeps the water clean and clear at all times. Furthermore, it has LED lighting that can enhance the beauty of the tank's contents, especially at night. Finally, it is compact, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to maintain.

Koller Products Panaview 5 gallon Aquarium Kit (Outdated)


If you are searching for a five gallon aquarium kit that can be set up immediately, the Koller Products Panaview 5 gallon Aquarium Kit is the perfect product for you. Despite its small size, it delivers a top-notch performance that's not easy to find in the market today.

There are so many things that I positively like about this aquarium. First is its price. It is cost-effective and can be easily afforded by entry-level hobbyists. For those seasoned ones who are looking forward to saving some cash, this is an ideal product to purchase.

Next is convenience. Installing the filter that comes with the aquarium is pretty easy to do, and you won't need special tools. Even though its size is small, the filter has a powerful impeller. It can quickly clean a rather dirty tank of water and keep it clear and smell-free for a long time. Its three-stage filtration system is totally impressive. It keeps unwanted particles, chemicals, and harmful organisms from spoiling the quality of water which can lead to the decline of fish and plants' health inside the tank.

However, the filter of this tank can get really noisy. In all honesty, I did not expect this filter to be this loud. I placed it on my veranda where the filter's noise is continually drowned by passing cars. But despite this one unfortunate setback, it still performs quite admirably.

  • Cost-effective
  • Has an energy-efficient LED lighting system with 7 colors
  • Has a powerful impeller
  • Has a flow rate of 45 GPH
  • Has an efficient three-stage filtration system
  • Made with durable plastic
  • Easy to set up
  • Compact
  • Powerful
  • Makes a loud noise
After examining the important points expressed above, I believe that the Koller Products Panaview 5 gal fish tank is a phenomenal product. It is easy to set up, has a filter with a reliable and powerful three-stage filtration system, and most of all – very affordable. Despite its one major flaw, you will still be satisfied with this product's excellent performance.


Benefits of owning a 5-gallon fish tank

Owning a 5-gallon fish tank can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both novice and experienced aquarium enthusiasts.

One of the primary benefits of a 5-gallon tank is its compact size, making it an ideal choice for those with limited space, such as apartment dwellers or individuals with small homes. Despite its modest dimensions, a 5-gallon tank can still accommodate a vibrant and diverse aquatic ecosystem, allowing you to create a captivating underwater world right in your own living space.

Another significant advantage of a 5-gallon fish tank is its affordability. Compared to larger tanks, 5-gallon setups generally require less initial investment in terms of equipment and supplies, making them an accessible option for those on a budget. Additionally, the smaller size translates to lower operating costs, as the energy consumption for filtration, heating, and lighting is typically less than that of larger aquariums.

Furthermore, a 5-gallon fish tank offers a unique opportunity to experiment with aquascaping and explore the art of creating visually stunning underwater landscapes. With its compact size, you can get creative with the placement of decorations, plants, and hardscapes, allowing you to craft a personalized and visually captivating aquatic environment that reflects your individual style and preferences.

Considerations before buying a 5-gallon fish tank

Before diving into the world of 5-gallon fish tanks, it’s essential to consider a few key factors to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishkeeping experience. One of the primary considerations is the type of fish you plan to keep. While a 5-gallon tank may seem like a small space, there are still several species of fish that can thrive in this size of aquarium, provided you choose them carefully and maintain the tank properly.

Another important factor to consider is the level of commitment and time you are willing to invest in the maintenance of your 5-gallon fish tank. Smaller tanks generally require more frequent water changes, testing, and cleaning to maintain optimal water quality and a healthy environment for your fish. It’s crucial to assess your available time and willingness to dedicate the necessary attention to your aquarium’s upkeep.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider the initial setup costs, which can include the tank, filtration system, lighting, heater, and other essential equipment. While 5-gallon tanks are generally more affordable than larger setups, it’s essential to budget for these expenses to ensure you have everything you need to create a thriving aquatic ecosystem.

Choosing the right location for your fish tank

Selecting the right location for your 5-gallon fish tank is crucial for the overall success and aesthetics of your aquarium. Ideally, you want to choose a spot that is easily accessible, well-lit, and free from direct sunlight or drafts, which can negatively impact the tank’s water quality and temperature.

When it comes to placement, it’s best to choose a sturdy, level surface that can support the weight of the tank, water, and equipment. This could be a dedicated aquarium stand, a sturdy table, or a piece of furniture designed specifically for housing an aquarium. Avoid placing the tank near windows, air vents, or other sources of temperature fluctuations, as these can disrupt the tank’s stability and create challenging conditions for your fish.

Another important consideration is the visibility and accessibility of the tank. Placing the aquarium in a prominent location, such as a living room or entryway, can allow you and your guests to enjoy the mesmerizing underwater world it creates. At the same time, ensure that the tank is positioned in a way that allows for easy access during maintenance and feeding times, making it convenient to care for your aquatic pets.

Essential equipment and supplies for a 5-gallon fish tank

Equipping your 5-gallon fish tank with the right gear and supplies is crucial for creating a thriving and sustainable aquatic environment. The essential components you’ll need to consider include a quality aquarium, a reliable filtration system, appropriate lighting, and a suitable heater.

When it comes to the tank itself, look for a well-constructed, tempered glass or acrylic aquarium that is specifically designed for a 5-gallon capacity. These tanks are often available in a variety of shapes and styles, allowing you to choose one that complements the aesthetic of your living space.

The filtration system is a critical component, as it helps to maintain water quality by removing waste, debris, and harmful toxins. For a 5-gallon tank, an efficient hang-on-back (HOB) or internal filter is often the best choice, as they provide adequate filtration without taking up too much space.

Appropriate lighting is also essential for the health and well-being of your aquatic inhabitants. Opt for an LED or fluorescent lighting system that is specifically designed for aquarium use, as it will provide the necessary spectrum of light to support the growth of aquatic plants and ensure the overall vibrancy of your underwater ecosystem.

Finally, a reliable heater is necessary to maintain a stable and comfortable water temperature for your fish. Look for a submersible heater that is specifically sized for a 5-gallon tank, ensuring that it can effectively regulate the water temperature and create an optimal environment for your aquatic pets.


Setting up and cycling your 5-gallon fish tank

Setting up and cycling your 5-gallon fish tank is a crucial step in establishing a healthy and thriving aquatic environment. This process involves several key steps that will ensure the long-term success of your aquarium.

Begin by thoroughly cleaning the tank, decorations, and any other equipment you plan to use. Rinse all components with dechlorinated water to remove any residues or contaminants that could harm your fish. Next, carefully arrange the tank’s substrate, plants, and decorations, creating a visually appealing and functional layout that will provide hiding places and enrichment for your aquatic inhabitants.

Once the physical setup is complete, it’s time to fill the tank with dechlorinated water and install the filtration system, heater, and lighting. Ensure that all equipment is properly functioning and that the water temperature is within the recommended range for the fish species you plan to keep.

The final and most crucial step in setting up your 5-gallon fish tank is the cycling process. This involves establishing a stable and beneficial bacterial colony that will help to break down harmful waste products and maintain the overall water quality. The cycling process can take several weeks, during which you’ll need to closely monitor water parameters and perform regular partial water changes. Be patient and diligent during this stage, as a properly cycled tank will provide a solid foundation for the long-term health and well-being of your aquatic pets.

Selecting the right fish for your 5-gallon fish tank

Choosing the right fish species for your 5-gallon fish tank is essential to ensure the success and longevity of your aquarium. While a 5-gallon tank may seem small, there are several fish species that can thrive in this compact environment, provided they are selected and cared for properly.

One of the most popular choices for a 5-gallon tank is the betta fish, also known as the Siamese fighting fish. Bettas are known for their vibrant colors, long, flowing fins, and relatively peaceful temperament, making them an excellent option for a small aquarium. However, it’s important to note that bettas are territorial and should not be housed with other male bettas or certain aggressive fish species.

Another suitable option for a 5-gallon tank is the dwarf gourami. These small, colorful fish are peaceful and can coexist with other compatible species, such as small tetras, rasboras, or corydoras catfish. Dwarf gouramis are also known for their interesting behavior and can add a unique visual element to your aquarium.

For a more diverse community tank, you may consider a group of small schooling fish, such as neon tetras, cardinal tetras, or ember tetras. These vibrant, active fish thrive in small groups and can create a mesmerizing display in your 5-gallon aquarium. Just be sure to choose species that are compatible in terms of size, temperament, and water parameter requirements.

When selecting fish for your 5-gallon tank, it’s crucial to research the specific needs and care requirements of each species to ensure they can thrive in the available space and water conditions. Overstocking or choosing incompatible fish can lead to stress, aggression, and poor water quality, so be mindful of the tank’s limitations and choose your inhabitants accordingly.

Feeding and caring for your fish

Proper feeding and care are essential for maintaining the health and well-being of your fish in a 5-gallon tank. Establishing a consistent feeding routine and paying attention to the specific dietary needs of your aquatic pets will help ensure their longevity and the overall success of your aquarium.

When it comes to feeding, it’s important to avoid overfeeding, as excess food can lead to water quality issues and potential health problems for your fish. Opt for a high-quality, balanced fish food and feed your fish small, frequent meals, rather than large, infrequent feedings. Carefully monitor your fish’s appetite and adjust the feeding amount accordingly, ensuring they consume all the food within a few minutes.

In addition to feeding, regular water changes are crucial for maintaining water quality in your 5-gallon tank. Depending on the number and type of fish, as well as the overall bioload, you may need to perform partial water changes of 25-50% on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This will help to remove accumulated waste, replenish essential minerals, and keep the water parameters within the optimal range for your aquatic inhabitants.

Alongside water changes, it’s essential to monitor and maintain other water quality parameters, such as pH, temperature, and ammonia levels. Use reliable testing kits to regularly check these parameters and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a healthy and stable environment for your fish.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of the tank and its equipment are also vital for the long-term success of your 5-gallon aquarium. This includes tasks such as cleaning the glass, removing algae, and maintaining the filtration system to ensure optimal performance and water quality.

Maintaining water quality in your 5-gallon fish tank

Maintaining water quality is crucial for the health and well-being of your fish in a 5-gallon tank. Due to the smaller water volume, water parameters can fluctuate more quickly, making it essential to stay vigilant and proactive in your maintenance efforts.

One of the most important aspects of water quality is the nitrogen cycle, which involves the conversion of harmful ammonia and nitrite into less toxic nitrate. This process is facilitated by beneficial bacteria that colonize the tank’s substrate, decorations, and filter media. Regularly testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels and performing timely partial water changes can help to keep these parameters in check and prevent any spikes that could be detrimental to your fish.

In addition to the nitrogen cycle, it’s essential to monitor and maintain other water quality parameters, such as pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen levels. These factors can significantly impact the overall health and behavior of your aquatic inhabitants, so it’s crucial to ensure they remain within the optimal range for the specific fish species you have chosen.

To help maintain water quality, consider incorporating live plants into your 5-gallon tank. Aquatic plants not only add visual interest and natural beauty to your aquarium but also help to absorb excess nutrients, produce oxygen, and provide hiding places for your fish. Carefully select low-light, low-maintenance plant species that are well-suited to the size and lighting conditions of your 5-gallon setup.

Regular water testing, partial water changes, and maintaining a balanced ecosystem are all essential for ensuring the long-term success and water quality of your 5-gallon fish tank. By staying proactive and diligent in your maintenance efforts, you can create a thriving and visually stunning underwater world for your aquatic pets to thrive in.

Troubleshooting common issues with 5-gallon fish tanks

While 5-gallon fish tanks can be incredibly rewarding, they can also present unique challenges that require prompt attention and troubleshooting. By being aware of the most common issues and how to address them, you can ensure the continued health and well-being of your aquatic inhabitants.

One of the most prevalent issues in small tanks is water quality problems, such as spikes in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate levels. These can be caused by overfeeding, overcrowding, or inadequate filtration and water changes. To address these issues, be diligent in your water testing, perform more frequent partial water changes, and ensure that your filtration system is functioning correctly.

Another common problem in 5-gallon tanks is temperature fluctuations. Due to the small water volume, the tank’s temperature can be easily affected by changes in the surrounding environment, such as drafts or direct sunlight. Invest in a reliable heater and monitor the temperature closely, making adjustments as needed to maintain a stable and optimal environment for your fish.

Algae growth can also be a challenge in small aquariums, as the limited water volume can quickly become imbalanced, leading to excessive algae blooms. Combat this by introducing live plants, reducing lighting duration, and performing regular tank cleanings to remove any accumulated algae.

Finally, be mindful of the potential for aggression and territorial behavior, especially when housing certain species like bettas or cichlids in a 5-gallon tank. Observe your fish closely and be prepared to make adjustments, such as rearranging decorations or removing aggressive individuals, to maintain a peaceful and harmonious community.

By being proactive in your troubleshooting efforts and addressing any issues promptly, you can ensure the long-term success and enjoyment of your 5-gallon fish tank. Remember, a little diligence and attention to detail can go a long way in creating a thriving underwater ecosystem in your home.

Conclusion and final tips

Congratulations! You’ve now reached the end of our ultimate guide to choosing and maintaining a 5-gallon fish tank. By following the insights and recommendations provided, you are well on your way to creating a stunning and vibrant underwater world in your own home.

Remember, the key to a successful 5-gallon fish tank lies in careful planning, diligent maintenance, and a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of your aquatic inhabitants. Take the time to research, plan, and set up your tank properly, and you’ll be rewarded with a captivating and low-maintenance aquarium that will bring joy and relaxation to your daily life.

As a final tip, don’t be afraid to start small and gradually expand your fishkeeping journey. A 5-gallon tank is an excellent starting point, allowing you to hone your skills and build confidence before potentially upgrading to a larger aquarium. And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the process – the joy of watching your fish thrive and the mesmerizing beauty of a well-maintained 5-gallon tank is truly unparalleled.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of 5-gallon fish tanks and create your own stunning underwater paradise today. Happy fishkeeping!

Frequently Asked Questions


Is a 5 gallon tank big enough for 2 fish? 

It’ll depend on the type of fish inside your 5-gallon tank. But in most cases, a 5-gallon vase or tank will be fine with holding two small fish. For instance, I could see it being an excellent situation to keep two minnows.

If you want a more precise measurement, use the one-inch per gallon size comparison rule. For example, someone with a 5-gallon tank should only have fish up to 5 inches long. These 5 inches could be from one single fish or two.

A modern option like Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit would be an excellent choice for two fish. Its measurements provide everything necessary to give them a comfy environment. Plus, this small fish tank with filter and light included is easy to set up for newbies.

However, I wouldn’t look to fit two fish in my 5-gallon or even a 10-gallon tank. I have a betta fish that isn’t a species known for playing well with others. So if you want a 5-gallon tank for betta fish or larger species, don’t test your luck.

What fish can go with a betta in a 5-gallon tank?

Placing any fish with bettas isn’t one of the smartest ideas. Sadly, bettas are known for their aggression and tendency to attack other fish with reckless abandon. It often leads to them killing the other fish rather quickly.

But you can limit these occurrences by choosing less aggressive fish. In doing so, there’s a much higher likelihood of your betta not becoming territorial over the tank. A solid example would be an ember tetra, which isn’t known for being aggressive.

However, I’d still steer clear of housing a betta with any fish unless absolutely necessary. It’s most suitable to keep them alone inside the dimensions of a 5-gallon fish tank. Trust me; it’s just not worth the potential consequences.

How long do you have to wait to put fish in a 5 gallon tank?

Any 5-gallon tank will need at least 48 hours to achieve ideal conditions. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a top brand like Top Fin or a subpar one: you’ll need to let the tank run with all components set up for a sizable amount of time before adding your fish.

Some experts even suggest waiting a week. I followed this recommendation with my 5-gallon circle fish tank when I first bought it. It allowed me more than enough time to create a suitable environment for my brand-new betta fish.

What are the most trusted 5 gallon aquarium brands?

There are several aquarium brands available today, but there are several more preferable ones of course. These are:

  • Koller Products
  • MarineLand
  • Fluval
  • Marina
  • Tetra
  • Penn Plax
  • GloFish

Most of these products I have tested and mentioned above.

How big is a 5-gallon fish tank?

The typical fish tank has a length of 16 to 18 inches, a width of 5 to 8 inches, and a height of 10 inches. However, some makers like to innovate by creating cube ones, vertical ones (tall and narrow), even curved ones. So the size depends on the style. But it's the smallest filtered aquarium that can fit on your side desk.

What fish can live in a 5-gallon tank?

There are several types of good fish for 5 gallon tank. Full-grown fishes that are small to medium in size (1 – 5 inches long) can fit and live in this small tank. I have my bettas for this, but you would also often see paradise fish, clownfish, killifish, puffer, gourami, crayfish, loach, livebearer, gourami, or fighting fish in some other 5-gallon tanks.

How many fish can I put in a 5-gallon tank?

Again, the rule of thumb is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. So depending on the size of your fish, you'll have: 5 one-inch ones, or 2 two-inch ones plus 1 one-inch fish, or 1 five-inch fully grown fish for your 5-gallon tank. This may seem an easy ratio, but you also must account for the total allowable space for the fish to grow.

Try to estimate first all the dimensions of the materials (e.g. ornaments, filters, pumps, etc.) that you will set up inside the tank. Once you have an idea of what you'll put in, you may deduct the space that these will occupy from the total capacity. From there, you may know the number of fish you can put so as not to make the aquarium too crowded.

Fish may be harmed by their wastes, too. Since they too have by-products, it is important to take note of the frequency and amount. The wastes should be easily cleaned by the filters and should not stay long in the water. So, try to put one or two fishes first, then add the other fishes once you're sure the unwanted products can be cleaned properly.

What fish tank equipment do I need for my 5-gallon aquarium?

There are things that I wish I had known before I decided to keep fish as pets. I should have not bought a lot of unnecessary things for the aquarium. Here's a list of the important equipment and materials:

  1. Filtration system – Choose one that is reasonably priced and can support your fish's needs
  2. Stand or Table – Support for your aquarium is a must.
  3. Fishnet or mesh – You can use this as a cover.
  4. Siphon – I use this whenever there's a need to adjust the volume of water or when I had to get something that is deep down the aquarium.
  5. Scrubber – This one's to clean the built-up algae around the tank.
  6. Thermometer – If you are planning to breed them or if you have a fish that is sensitive to temperature, a thermometer can come in handy.
  7. Heater – This is useful mostly during winter.
  8. Light – this helps illuminate the aquarium at night.

There are some other things that you might put in the tank and buy, but they're not really equipment. You can add gravel, plants, water conditioner, and even figurines.

How to setup and use?

It really depends on the aquarium you opt to buy. If you purchase an aquarium kit, make sure to follow instructions included in the kit. Setting up is pretty standard though:

  • Clean the aquarium first
  • Prepare the water for at least 12 hours
  • Prime the equipment (filters and pumps) by running water through it
  • Fill the tank with the prepped water
  • Decorate the tank
  • Add the fish!

How to care and clean?

There are two ways to maintain and clean a five gallon aquarium: with weekly water change, and deep cleaning for every two to three weeks.

Weekly water change

Tank owners are expected to remove some of the dirty water and replace it with the same amount of clean water. You can remove 25% to 50% of the dirty water. Make sure you prep the clean water first by making it stand for 12 to 48 hours.

Deep cleaning

This must be done every two to four weeks. This is important so as to prevent algae and waste build-up that will not only be unpleasant to look at, but also toxic for the fish. Some algae are alright, but too much of it can also be bad.

The steps to do a deep cleaning are as follows:

  1. Get some of the original aquarium water and place it in a container which will temporarily house the fishes. About 30% of aquarium water is fine.
  2. Turn the filter off and remove it, then carefully remove tall decorations so as not to stir the water too much and to prevent stressing the fish.
  3. If you're using a pump, move it to the temporary container. Carefully remove the fish and place them on their temporary home while you clean the aquarium.
  4. While the tank still has water, scrub the sides to remove some of the algae and waste buildup. If you like to leave some algae, that is fine. Make sure that it does not overtake the tank, though.
  5. Siphon the old water out.
  6. Vacuum the gravel.
  7. Fill the tank with clean water that has been prepped for 12 to 48 hours. Don't fill it to the brim as you will place the fish back together with the old aquarium water. This is so as not to stun the fish and help them adjust to the new clean water better.
  8. Alternatively, if you don't have time to prep the water for at least 12 hours, use a water conditioner. A water conditioner neutralizes chemicals in the water.
  9. Replace the decorations, pump and filter.
  10. Reintroduce the fish by pouring the contents of the temporary container into the aquarium so you place the remaining old aquarium water back.

Don't wait for your tank to see visible signs of dirt before doing a deep cleaning. Instead, create a schedule between two to four weeks, or else you'll pay for it by having unhealthy, or even dead, swimmers.