Orange fish swimming in 5-gallon fish tank

The Best 5-Gallon Fish Tanks for Small Pets & New Owners


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Whether you want a freshwater aquarium or saltwater, a 5-gallon fish tank is a great place to start. 

There is something utterly mesmerizing about watching fish swim circles in their glass aquarium. If you love watching fish, then a 5-gallon tank (if you have space) is the way to go! Five gallon tanks allow you to have a beautiful tank without all the upkeep or cost of a giant one. They're perfect for a betta fish or a few small fish, and can be super affordable as well. You can even add other small pets to your fish bowl that aren't necessarily fish. Here's what you should look for in a small fish tank.

Fish Tank 101

small fish tank with pebbles and decoration

To make things easier for novice aquarists, you can get a 5-gallon fish tank, which is perfect for a small space. You should make sure the tank has LED lighting so that you can see your fish, as well as built in filtration and a nice acrylic or glass window through which to see your fish.

In some cases, a kit will come with an adjustable pump or even a small container of fish food! Aquarium tank kits are a stress-free way to put together your first tank, because you've got everything you need in one place.

Put a couple of pieces together, place in your fish (after you acclimate them!), and let your stress slip away as you watch them swim around their new home.

Needs for a Small Fish Tank 

Small aquariums tend to be the first choice of fish tanks for many new keepers but don't be fooled; a 5-gallon tank is still a lot of work! Many kits come with an internal filter and a basic setup. However, you will need to get substrate, aquarium plants, and high-quality decorations for your fish to hide and play around in.

Even if you have a great filter, you will still need to do periodic water changes. Having a small fishbowl handy for water changes will be helpful, especially if your tank gets really dirty. You need to remove the fish to clean it.

What Are Good Fish for a 5-Gallon Tank?

Simple and elegant, betta fish make a great first fish, as they're easy to care for, spunky, and most importantly, beautiful.

Other fish that are ideal for a small tank include:

  • The Endlers Livebearer
  • Dwarf or Pea Puffer
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Goldfish
  • Guppies
  • Tetra fish

Just remember that a 5-gallon tank cannot hold as many fish as larger tanks can. Never overcrowd your tank with too many small fish. Doing so will cause issues with pH, competition over food and resources, and of course, very unhappy fish! If you wouldn't want to be crammed into a tiny space with lots of other people, just remember that fish are no different. Try to keep it to one fish per 2 inches. Also, make sure you give it a few days before you put your fish into a newly set up tank. Usually, 2-3 days after setup is best. This allows pH levels as well as sediment to settle. Again, you'd avoid a house where work had just been done, and fish are no different!

The last thing you want to watch out for is mixing docile fish and aggressive fish in the same tank. Try to keep the temperaments of your fish the same to avoid any conflict, and try not to mix tropical fish and non-tropical fish since they like the water at different temperatures.

Here are some 5-gallon tanks under $150 for your Betta fish or whatever fish you wish!

1. Koller PanaView 5-Gallon Fish Tank 

The ParaView 5-Gallon Fish Tank includes an energy-efficient LED lighting system with seven color choices, plus four transitioning and color combinations you can choose depending on the time of day, along with an internal power filter that will keep your aquarium water optimal and your fish healthy. An included LED aquarium kit makes setup so easy, and you don't have to search for the perfect light kit. Personally,  I'm loving the bright blue and white LED lights.

2. GloFish Aquarium

What's cool about this fish tank? It's affordable and comes with a blue LED kit that can show off your fluorescent fish. Buy bright fish to complement the cool light, or enjoy the stripe on your neon tetras. Neon tetras make for a friendly first fish, as well. The world is your oyster!

3. Fluval Marine Aquarium Kit

The Fluvial Sea EVO "packs the same performance features as a tank several times its size" but is small enough to fit on any desk or countertop. So if you have less space, this is a great option.

4. Biorb Tube 4 Gallon Aquarium

This kit is a little smaller at 4 gallons, but makes up for it by looking cool and futuristic. With 5 stage filtration, a built in water aerator, and a classy look, this aquarium should fit into any home decor with ease.

5. Marina LED Aquarium Kit

The Marina LED Aquarium Kit comes with the Slim S20 clip-on aquarium filter plus an LED light kit that provides your little fishes with natural-looking light. It also comes with fish food! Marina went the extra step with this kit and includes a water conditioner and a biological supplement. If you need to grab up your fish while cleaning, there is also a soft fishnet.

6. Hygger 5-Gallon Fish Aquarium Starter Kit

This kit comes in a hex shape that allows for a perfect small space fit. The sides are ultra-white glass instead of acrylic panels, making for clear viewing of your fish. Your fish won't be able to jump with the highlight over the top. It also comes with a filter cartridge enclosed in a filter box, so it is not visible. The tank has three different light modes to choose from in blue and white. The low-energy pump is quiet and will keep plenty of oxygen in the water. It has two different modes, rainfall or duck's mouth outlet.

Fishkeeping is a wonderful hobby, and these five-gallon tanks will get you started!

Note that a 5-gallon tank is the ideal tank size for your betta fish aquarium or nano aquarium. Enjoy picking out all the live plants available, and have fun watching your little fishies!

Which tank do you like the best for your small space? Let us know over at our Wide Open Pets Facebook page! 

This article was first published on November 6, 2019. 

READ MORE: Picking the Right Betta Fish Tank for Piscine Pals

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