The Fish Guru

Beginner’s Guide: Selecting and Setting Up a 5 Gallon Fish Tank

When it comes to setting up a fish tank, there are a lot of factors to consider. Aside from the size of the tank, you need to think about the layout, filtration system, lighting, temperature control, and more.

If you’re looking for a 5-gallon fish tank, then you’re in luck! This size is perfect for small spaces and for beginner fish owners. In this article, we’ll explore the criteria for selecting a 5-gallon fish tank, as well as highlight some of the best options on the market.

Criteria for selecting a 5-gallon fish tank

Tank Layout: When selecting a 5-gallon fish tank, consider the layout. Do you prefer a peninsula style, where the tank has three sides of glass and is viewed from three angles?

Or do you prefer a presentation style, where the tank has one viewing area and is placed against a wall? The layout you choose will depend on your aesthetic preferences and the tank’s intended location.

Filtration: A good filtration system is essential for keeping your fish healthy. Look for a 5-gallon fish tank with a 3-stage filtration system that includes mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

The mechanical filter removes debris from the water, the biological filter converts harmful chemicals to nontoxic ones, and the chemical filter removes any remaining chemicals. A heater is also important for keeping the water temperature stable.

LED lights that mimic sunlight are recommended for the growth of plants and the overall health of your fish. Keep in mind that the tank will need to go through the nitrogen cycle before adding any fish.

Price: A 5-gallon fish tank can range from budget-friendly to expensive. Determine your budget first before looking for a tank.

Keep in mind that while a more expensive tank may come with a more advanced filtration system and other features, a budget-friendly option can still provide a suitable home for your fish.

Best 5-gallon fish tanks on the market

Fluval Spec V: The Fluval Spec V is an all-in-one tank that comes with a 3-stage filtration system, including biomax and a sponge. The low light plants and betta fish will thrive in this tank.

The sleek design makes it a pleasing addition to any room. Lifegard Full View: This patented glass tank offers a unique viewing experience from all angles.

The 3-stage filtration system includes a planted LED and a reef LED, making it a great choice for reef enthusiasts. The Lifegard Full View requires regular water changes and CO2 supplementation for planted tanks.

Marineland Portrait: The budget-friendly Marineland Portrait comes with a 3-stage filtration system, glass canopy, and aquarium cartridge. It’s perfect for a fish-only setup and has a compact design that fits well in small spaces.

Fluval EVO 5: The Fluval EVO 5 is a fantastic option for a saltwater aquarium. The tank is designed for soft corals and other small marine life, and the LED light and open design provide ample light and water flow for the corals and other creatures to thrive.

It’s an excellent choice for those just starting with saltwater tanks. Hagen Fluval Chi: The Hagen Fluval Chi is perfect for the principles of Feng Shui, with its gentle water flow and filter.

The LED lighting mimics natural lighting, resulting in a soothing ambiance. biOrb Classic: The biOrb Classic fish bowl has a canister and an internal power filter, providing excellent filtration despite the lack of a traditional filter.

An aquarium kit is included, making it beginner-friendly. biOrb Flow: The biOrb Flow is an acrylic aquarium with a peninsula style.

It’s an affordable option that comes with beginner aquarium plants. It’s perfect for those who want to try their hand at aquascaping.


In conclusion, selecting a 5-gallon fish tank requires careful consideration of various factors such as tank layout, filtration system, lighting, and price. Each of the tanks highlighted in this article has different features, making them suitable for different purposes.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fish keeper, there is a 5-gallon tank out there that will meet your needs. Expert Editor’s Choice for the Best 5 Gallon Fish Tank

After thoroughly examining the many options on the market, the Fluval Spec V is our top choice for the best 5 gallon fish tank.

This all-in-one tank is perfect for beginners and experienced fish keepers alike, with its top-of-the-line features and sleek design. Filtration: The Fluval Spec V comes with a 3-stage filtration system that includes a biomax and sponge, providing excellent mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

The system is efficient and easy to maintain, ensuring a healthy and clean environment for your fish. The filtration system is tucked away, keeping the tank’s overall look simple and minimalist.

Lighting: The Fluval Spec V has LED lighting that provides optimal lighting for your fish and plants. The low light plants and betta fish commonly kept in 5-gallon tanks will thrive under this light.

The LED lighting system offers both white and blue lighting options that mimic natural sunlight, which is essential for plant growth and keeping fish healthy. Dimensions: The Fluval Spec V measures 17.2 x 10.6 x 6.3 inches, with a water capacity of 5.6 gallons.

Its compact design makes it easy to fit in small spaces, while still providing ample space for your fish to swim around. The glass is also made of quality materials that are both scratch and impact-resistant.

Overall, the Fluval Spec V offers the best filtration, lighting, and dimensions, making it a great choice for those who want to keep a healthy and aesthetically pleasing aquarium. With its sleek design and advanced features, it’s no wonder the Fluval Spec V is our top pick for the best 5-gallon fish tank.

Setting up a 5 Gallon Fish Tank

Once you’ve chosen your 5-gallon fish tank, you’ll need to set it up properly to ensure your fish thrive. Here are some tips on setting up a 5-gallon fish tank:

Substrate: When selecting a substrate, consider both aesthetics and functionality.

Sand is the most popular choice for a 5-gallon aquascape since it provides perfect footing for aquarium plants. Choose sand that is finer, light-colored and doesn’t scatter, as this type of sand is easier to clean.

Basic gravel, on the other hand, may not provide the perfect environment for organisms living in the substrate but is still an excellent option for those starting with a fish-only aquarium. Rocks and Driftwood: Adding some rocks or driftwood will give your tank a natural look.

Manzanita wood is the way to go often used in aquascapes, this type of wood doesn’t alter your tank’s water chemistry negatively. Aquarium rocks are also a great option but be careful when picking them.

Don’t use rocks that may contain heavy metals, and ensure they have been cleaned and sterilized. Live Plants: Live plants are not only beautiful, but also serve an important biological function.

They provide oxygen, help to filter harmful substances from the water, and provide a natural habitat for your fish. Some low light beginner plants to consider include Java fern, Marimo moss balls, and Anubias.

If you want to take it a step further, you can create a planted tank environment, complete with a CO2 system, substrate and fertilization. If you choose to go this route, make sure to research the specific needs of the plants you want to keep.

In conclusion, setting up a 5-gallon fish tank requires attention to detail and the consideration of various factors. A suitable substrate, rocks or driftwood and a well-considered live plant or underwater garden will create a peaceful and safe haven for your fish.

Pick a fish tank that fits your space and needs while providing a comfortable living environment for your aquatic friends, and you’ll be on your way to a beautiful and thriving aquarium.

FAQs about 5 Gallon Fish Tanks

If you’re thinking about setting up a 5-gallon fish tank, you might have a few questions. Here are some FAQs about 5-gallon fish tanks that can help you make informed decisions and provide your fish with a healthy and happy habitat.

Number of Fish: How many fish can live in a 5-gallon fish tank? The number of fish you can keep in a 5-gallon fish tank depends on the size, species, and bioload of the fish you choose.

In general, it’s recommended to have one inch of fish (measured from nose to end of tail) per gallon of water. However, some small fish like betta fish or zebra danios require more space and should be kept alone or in pairs.

If you want to keep multiple fish, make sure they are small species with low bioloads. Tank Dimensions: What are the dimensions of a 5-gallon fish tank, and how much does it weigh?

A standard 5-gallon fish tank typically measures 16 inches by 8 inches by 10 inches. The weight of a 5-gallon fish tank varies depending on the type of material used in construction, with glass tanks being heavier than plastic ones.

The average weight of a 5-gallon fish tank is around 10 to 15 pounds. Fish without a Heater: Are there any types of fish that can live in a 5-gallon tank without a heater?

Some types of fish can live in a 5-gallon tank without a heater if the room temperature remains stable. However, it’s not recommended because the water temperature fluctuates too much, affecting your fish’s health.

White cloud minnows, Endler’s livebearers, and danios can survive in unheated 5-gallon tanks, but it’s safer to use a heater to maintain a stable temperature range between 72-78F.

Bowl Tanks: Can a 5-gallon classic round bowl tank be used for fish?

Classic round bowl tanks, without proper filtration, oxygenation, and undersized for fish, can be detrimental to your fish’s health and survival. One solution is to use the biOrb Classic fish bowl, which comes with a filter and air pump that provide proper filtration and air circulation.

It’s also important to choose fish that are suitable for the size of your bowl, such as small species that can comfortably swim in the water, such as neon tetras or sparkling gourami. Two Fish in a 5 Gallon Tank: Can two fish live together in a 5-gallon tank?

Two small fish, especially species such as White Cloud Minnows and Danios, can live together in a 5-gallon tank. It’s essential to ensure the fish you choose are compatible and have similar water requirements.

It’s also important to keep an eye on your fish’s behavior, ensuring they aren’t showing signs of stress or aggression toward each other. In conclusion, the key to having a healthy and happy fish tank is to provide your fish with the right environment and care.

Set up your tank properly, choose fish suitable for the tank size and their needs, and monitor their behavior to ensure they’re thriving. With the right setup and attention to detail, your 5-gallon fish tank can be a beautiful and peaceful addition to your home or office.

In conclusion, setting up and maintaining a 5 gallon fish tank requires careful consideration of various factors including tank layout, filtration system, lighting, substrate, rocks, and live plants. A suitable 5 gallon aquarium that provides adequate space for your fish to swim and maintain their bioload, such as the Fluval Spec V, will help create a serene environment for your aquatic friends.

It’s important to choose the right fish and ensure they have appropriate care and attention. By following the guidelines discussed in this article, you’ll be on your way to creating a beautiful and healthy aquarium that will provide joy and relaxation for years to come.

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