Home· Freshwater Aquarium Blog·Top 5 Nano Fish for a 5-Gallon Aquarium

Top 5 Nano Fish for a 5-Gallon Aquarium

A 5-gallon fish tank is the ideal size for your office desk or dorm room, but it can be hard to find creatures that are small enough to live in it. Check out our 5 favorite fish that are perfect for inhabiting a nano aquarium.

1. Dwarf Pea Puffer

Carinotetraodon travancoricus is an adorable, 1-inch (2.5 cm) long pufferfish with a small yellow body, dark spots, and independently rotating eyes. This carnivorous creature loves to eat frozen foods and will go after your live snails and dwarf shrimp if given the chance. In fact, we generally recommend only one pea puffer in a 5-gallon fish tank because they can get a bit nippy if you try to cram in more tank mates. Think of them as an individual wet pet to dote on and consider decorating the rest of the aquarium with live plants for your tiny helicopter fish to explore. To learn more, read our complete care guide here.

dwarf pea puffer

Dwarf pufferfish or pea puffer

2. Rosy Loach

Rosy loaches are outgoing, little scavengers that grows up to 1.25 inches (3 cm) long. Because this species is sexually dimorphic, it’s almost like you get two fish in one school – the males with their beautiful red-orange color and the females with their spotted pattern. Get a school of six or more, and you will often see them excitedly swimming at the bottom and middle of the aquarium. Rosy loaches can even spawn in your fish tank when given plenty of dense foliage and nutritious foods.

female rosy loach

Female rosy loach

3. Green Neon Tetra

Paracheirodon simulans looks like a regular neon tetra but is actually an entirely different species. It prominently features a brilliant blue-green horizontal stripe from head to tail that can be seen across the room even in a dimly lit tank. It stays smaller than a typical neon tetra, growing to around 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, so get a school of six and provide lots of shelter so that they feel safe and comfortable. As with most nano community fish, they enjoy eating tiny granules, crushed flakes, baby brine shrimp, and frozen cyclops. You can mix them with some rosy loaches or ramshorn snails to create a little ecosystem in your room.

green neon tetras

Green neon tetras

4. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

These hardy, beginner-friendly minnows come in many varieties, such as regular, long fin, and golden. The gold white cloud minnows are particularly eye-catching because of their blue eyes, red fins, and peachy-yellow body. The breeding colors and behavior displayed among males are truly a sight to behold. These minnows can live in a wide range of water conditions, eat almost any fish foods, and don’t even need an aquarium heater. We enjoy keeping them in nano tanks, larger tanks, and even outdoor mini ponds during the summer.

gold white cloud minnows

Golden white cloud mountain minnows

5. Scarlet Badis

Like the pea puffer, it’s best to only keep one Dario dario in a 5-gallon aquarium. Nevertheless, you can add other tank mates from this list (all except for the pea puffer) to keep him company. The males are more commonly sold because of their distinct red vertical stripes and blue accent color. They normally only like to eat live and frozen foods at first, so keep them away from your dwarf shrimp. With enough patience, you may be able to eventually convert them to dry prepared foods.

male scarlet badis

Male scarlet badis

Most of these fish can be found at your local fish store, but if you’re having difficulty getting the species you’re looking for, check out our preferred online fish vendors to see what they have in stock.


Recent blog posts