5 Gallon Fish Tank – The Perfect Nano Aquarium Size

The standard 5 Gallon Fish Tank is a favorite among freshwater and saltwater aquarium hobbyists. Because of its size, affordability and availability, the five gallon fish tank has created a cult-like following in the realm of nano aquariums.

The choices seem endless as aquarium kits and standalone tanks are easy to obtain. We suggest you take a look at a few of the choices we listed below before making your final decision.

There are many fish tanks to consider and knowing what to look for and what you want is helpful to know before making your purchase.

Many will also ask, “what can I put in it?” Let’s take a look at a few options of tanks followed by some recommend nano fish.

5 Gallon Fish Tank Dimensions

The standard dimensions of a 5-gallon fish tank are approximately 16″ x 8″ x 10″.

This makes for a perfect footprint for those short on space but still, want an aquarium to enjoy. It is no secret that just looking at and enjoying an aquarium can help decrease stress levels.

Made popular by many fish tank hobbyists, the five gallon fish tank is a great entry level aquarium to consider for your next planted tank or fish only build.

On a side note, just because the tank is smaller, that doesn’t mean less maintenance will be required. On the contrary, the likeliness of water instability is increased due to the small volume. Thus, careful monitoring and maintenance may be required even more so in comparison to larger tanks such as 20-gallon fish tanks.

Best 5 Gallon Fish Tanks

The following fish tanks have been made popular by consumers. With all in one kit becoming the standard, starting in the aquarium hobby has never been so affordable and easy.

Any model listed below is sure to be a sleek addition to any room in your home or office, providing countless hours of peaceful scenery.

Marina LED 5 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Marina LED 5 Gallon Aquarium Kit

A true all in one kit, Marina has hit the nail on the head with their offering of a 5 gallon tank kit that is affordable, stylish and beginner friendly. Including all the essentials to get you started right away, the Marina Aquarium is a popular hit amongst young fish hobbyists their parents.
The included aquarium guide is a nice touch for beginners to get acquainted with the process of how to start an aquarium.

  Fluval Spec V – Perfectly Designed Desktop Aquarium

The included aquarium guide is a nice touch  for beginners to get acquainted with the process of how to start an aquarium.

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

The Fluval Spec V is an all in one aquarium popularized by its little sibling, the Fluval Spec.

Seeing a need to appease the hobbyist who wanted more than just 2 gallons of real estate, the Spec V is a hit amongst the planted tank community.

With the ability to grow low and medium light intensity plants, Fluval has hit a homerun with his desktop aquarium.

Marineland 5 Gallon Aquarium

Marineland 5 Gallon Aquarium

The Marineland Portrait is a well built aquarium that has seamless corners and built in filtration and lighting.

The tank is raised slightly above the surface it sits on giving the appearance of floating.

Modern and contemporary in design, the Portrait is truly a work of art waiting for you add your own aquascaping touches.

5 gallon Acrylic Aquarium Kit For GloFish

5 gallon Acrylic Aquarium Kit For GloFish

If you are looking for a fun aquarium for kids, then the 5 gallon acrylic fish tank by GloFish may have the right tank for you.

Designed to highlight the beautiful colors of GloFish, this tank is definitely fun to have as a centerpiece in your office or bedroom.

On a side note, GloFish are readily available at most big box stores including Walmart.

How to set up a 5 gallon fish tank?

The standalone tank is something that many hobbyists consider as opposed to all-in-one kits. The ability to pick and choose your equipment based on need is usually more economical and fun to piece together.

A few items to consider purchasing along with the tank itself include: filter, light, lid and heater. These are just the basics to get you started.

  Marineland Portrait – 5 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Whether you are going to start a planted tank is also something to consider as the choices in lighting and substrate will vary dependent on the type of plants you intend to keep and grow.

A great example of building a 5 gallon planted tank setup can be seen in the video below.

How To Setup And Maintain A 5 Gallon Fish Tank

As with any aquarium, it is important to understand the cycling process. Before adding any fish, the aquarium must be suitable and ready to detoxify fish waste. Although a complicated process, it can be sped up using live plants and biological media such as the one included in the Marina LED Aquarium Kit.

I would also recommend purchasing an outlet timer to control the on/off cycle of the lights. It can be quite tedious to do this operation yourself on a daily basis.

A preferred filter for nano aquariums is the Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter. Albeit an old model filter, it is still recognized by many hobbyists as the best canister filter for planted nano tanks.

Filter For 10 Gallon Tank
Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter

Used in favor of traditional hang on back (HOB) filters, canister filters are much more efficient at creating and maintaining both mechanical and biological filtration.

Decorative gravel and plastic plants are favorable for a low maintenance tank. However, adding live plants also help in purifying the the water.

20% weekly water changes are recommended to keep your water quality high and suitable for fish keeping.

If you are considering a planted tank, then take a look at some of the substrate choices to buy when you also purchase your tank. We will discuss substrates in depth in future articles.


When decorating your aquarium, it is important to keep in mind the scale of things. You wouldn’t want to place a large fish or large decorations in a small tank as it would dwarf the tank in comparison.

  Fluval Edge – 3D Water Cube Aquarium

Using small foreground plants and nano fish helps to create a nice, scaled picturesque scape that you can enjoy. Small rocks and branches also add a nice touch into creating a natural looking fish tank environment.

Fish Stocking Ideas For A 5 Gallon Fish Tank


There are many “rules” consider when stocking your aquarium with fish. However, as a rule of thumb, the consensus is that you should add 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. In a 5 gallon tank, that doesn’t give you much options but here are a few fish to consider:

It is important to keep in mind that some fish, such as the Betta and pea puffer, are best kept alone. They are very interesting fish so having just one is more than enough to liven up any 5 gallon aquarium.


A large amount of nano aquarium hobbyists love to keep inverts instead of fish.

These smaller aquariums are perfect for housing popular inverts such as Bee shrimp or red cherry shrimp.

These little critters will undoubtedly provide you hours of entertainment. Just watching them go to work eating algae is mesmerizing.


Whether you are a beginner or a veteran in the aquarium hobby, owning a 5 gallon fish tank is sure to make you happy.

The endless aquascaping possibilities are only limited by your imagination. From artful to whimsical, you should decorate your tank to reflect your personality. It is all about having fun while providing a healthy environment for pet fish. It truly is a rewarding and relaxing hobby.

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