7 Best 5-Gallon Fish Tanks – An Extensive Buying Guide

Fish in a Fish Bowl
By Garrison Hickles Updated

5-gallon fish tanks are among the most popular choices for novice aquarists who are still trying to understand the nitty-gritty of fishkeeping. Their small sizes invite beginner fishkeepers to try them out without any intimidation. They are also popular among intermediate and expert fishkeepers. Many people prefer a 5-gallon fish tank due to space-constraint issues or budgetary-constraint issues or simply due to their endearing appearance. And to help all of you have a better grasp over them, we are providing an extensive buying guide wherein you’ll learn everything that you need to make a wise choice!

Understanding the Functionalities of a 5-Gallon Fish Tank

Despite their small sizes, 5-gallon fish tanks require heavy maintenance and care when compared to some of their larger counterparts. This stems from the fact that small bodies of water accumulate ammonia, nitrites, and other forms of toxins at a fast rate, which is deadly for your aquatic pets and plants.

Therefore, weekly water replacements (around 25% of the tank water) are an absolute must. You also have to ensure that the entire tank water is not replaced altogether since that would kill off the beneficial bacteria present in the tank. In addition, the new batch of water that you add in the tank must have the same parameters (pH level, temperature, hardness, mineral level) as that of the existing batch of water.


Speaking of their size, these tanks generally measure 16x8x10” (40x20x25 cm).

For saltwater tanks, the recommended minimum tank size is 30 gallons due to the heavy set-up and maintenance involved. So, keep that in mind if you are planning to grow marine lives in your 5-gallon fish tank.

Go through our comprehensive guide in order to understand how to set-up a fish tank properly so that your aquatic pets and plants live a healthy life and grow substantially in your home.

These tanks are also extensively used as breeding tanks or quarantining tanks for small fish.

Types of Fish to Host in a 5-Gallon Fish Tank

Obviously, the small size of these tanks limits your options of aquatic pets that you want to host, but we are certain the situation is not that dire!

You can host the following species in a 5-gallon fish tank:

Despite popular belief, species like Goldfish shouldn’t be kept in a 5-gallon fish tank since they outgrow the tank and get stressed from claustrophobia. In addition, avoid keeping Tetras and Guppies since they are schooling fish and you cannot keep a bunch of them together in these tanks.

Coming to aquatic plants, the following options are ideal for these tanks:

The Best 5-Gallon Fish Tanks Available for Purchase

Okay, time for business! Let us take a look at the best 5-gallon fish tanks available in the market. We evaluate their performance and build-up while also laying down what we like and dislike about each of them.


Marina LED Aquarium Kit

Coming with a three-stage hang-on back filtration system, the Marina LED Aquarium Kit is one of the most popular 5-gallon fish tanks in the market. The Marina’s Slim S20 clip-on aquarium filter ensures that your aquatic pets and plants are living in a clean and healthy environment 24×7. It also comes with quick-change filter cartridges.

Its hinged lid opens up conveniently so that feeding your fish becomes a hassle-free process. This also means that cleaning the tank will also be very easy as you will be able to reach the nooks and corners of the aquarium. It also features black silicone sealed edges, which adds to its beauty.

The canopy of the tank is equipped with an LED lighting system that illuminates the tank through its natural daylight effect.  In addition, you will also get fish food, biological supplements, Nutrafin Aqua Plus Water Conditioner, a fish net, and a set-up guide book in the kit.

The only drawback that we noticed was its loud noise generated by the filter, but if you are not keeping it in your bedroom, then the noise is usually not that of a big deal anyways.

What We Like

  • Durable.
  • Three-stage filtration system.
  • Natural daylight LED lighting system.
  • Nutrafin Aqua Plus water conditioner included.
  • Fish net and fish food provided.
  • User-friendly guide.

What We Don’t Like

  • Noisy filter.

MarineLand Nook Aquarium Kit

Next up on our list of best 5-gallon fish tanks is the Marineland Nook Aquarium Kit that offers a wide viewing angle to the owners, thanks to its curved front.  It makes your aquarium seem bigger than it actually is. This cutting-edge style gives a more premium look to the tank.

The three-stage filtration system provides clear, healthy water to the inhabitants of your aquarium. While the chemical filters prevent any discoloration and odor to appear in the tank water, the biological filter kills off harmful microorganisms that are fatal to the life of the aquatic pets. In addition, the filters are hidden which makes the view of the tank even more spectacular. You will also be able to control the flow of the water since it features an adjustable pump.

It also comes with a bright LED lighting system that illuminates the entire tank. The lights are energy-efficient which means they’ll go easy on your pocket. All in all, this tank is heavily focused on providing a chic-looking product, and we can’t argue with the results.

Having said that, the hood of the tank is a bit flimsy and definitely needed some improvisations.

What We Like

  • Three-stage filtration system.
  • Adjustable flow pump.
  • Energy-efficient LED light.
  • Wide-viewing angle.
  • Easy to maintain.

What We Don’t Like

  • Flimsy hood.

Glofish Aquarium Tank Kit

Featuring their trademark underwater fluorescent appearance, the Glofish Aquarium Tank Kit will give an eccentric look to the interior design of your home.  Thanks to its 15 energy-efficient blue LED lighting system, this seamless crescent-shaped tank is slowly and steadily becoming a highly sought-after product in its category. If you have colorful fish in your tank, the dark background makes them pop even more.

Furthermore, it also comes with the Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag Filter Cartridge which puts an end to all those unnecessary noises, much to the respite of both you and your aquatic pet. You will also get a Tetra Mini UL heater with this product.

The sleek black hood does a great job of reducing evaporation of the tank water in addition to preventing outside dirt and dust from accumulating in the tank.

What We Like

  • Includes a highly-efficient heater.
  • Noiseless filtration system.
  • Dark florescent background highlights colorful fish.
  •  15 blue LED lights.

What We Don’t Like

  • Not suitable for dark fish who might not be visible in a black background.
  • The filtration can be too strong and prove fatal for delicate fish.

Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit

Featuring a chic curved front and a seamless back cover, the Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit will give you an unobstructed view of your aquatic plants and pets.

The acrylic build of the product makes it durable and lightweight, which makes handling the product very easy.

An underrated yet amazing aspect of this product is that its white LED lights (which are energy-efficient by the way) are hidden in its low-profile black cover. There are 16 lights overall that will create a shimmering effect underwater. Since they aren’t too bright, it will serve well for pets that have a low light requirement. However, the light won’t be sufficient for the growth of aquatic plants.

Thus, your aquarium will get illuminated without you having to see the apparatus. It also comes with the Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter that not only keeps the tank water healthy through its three-stage filtration system but also ensures that you get a noiseless fishkeeping experience. In addition, the kit also includes a biological aquarium starter and a water conditioner.

On the downside, the feeding hole on the tank’s lid is a bit too large and opens up the possibility of your fish leaping out of the water surface.

What We Like

  • Highly efficient noiseless, three-stage filtration system.
  • Durable.
  • Hidden energy-efficient LED lights.
  • User-friendly set-up.

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t feature a water heater.
  • No adjustable flow rate.
  • The tank lid could have been firmer.

Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit

For all those glass-aquarium lovers, the next product on our list of best 5-gallon fish tanks in the market is the Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit. Despite being made of glass, it is highly durable since it features seamless rounded front corners and a three-piece construction mechanism. These rounded corners are a boon for those families that have kids since it minimizes the chances of kids cutting themselves after bumping into the sharp corners seen in most glass aquariums.

Furthermore, you will also get a cascade internal filter that will keep the tank water healthy and will prevent foul odor and water discoloration from creeping in. The filter also comes with a black sponge that enables the growth of beneficial bacteria.

The lighting fixture definitely could have used some refinement as it isn’t of the best quality. Moreover, the lack of a switch will force you to unplug the lighting cord every time you want to turn off the lights.        

What We Like

  • Rounded glass corners.
  • Durable.
  • Easy to set-up.
  • Provisions for the growth of beneficial bacteria.

What We Don’t Like

  • Unreliable lighting fixture.
  • Noisy filter.
  • The filter is a bit too strong for small fish.

Fluval 10528A1 Evo V Marine Aquarium Kit

We have stated earlier that saltwater tanks should be of at least 30-gallons in size due to the heavy maintenance involved. However, if you really want a marine environment to thrive in a small space of 5 gallons, then we recommend the Fluval 10528A1 Evo V Marine Aquarium Kit.

Probably, the best feature of this product is its splendid lighting system. Since corals are a big part of a marine aquarium, therefore the lights in this aquarium have been designed in such a manner that will promote their growth. This aquarium comes with an 11,000 LED waterproof casing. It includes both daylight and night-light feature.

Its three-stage filtration system ensures the tank water is run through mechanical, chemical, and biological media, thereby putting the safety of your aquatic pets at first.

The honeycomb design makes sure that the filtration apparatus at the back of the tank is hidden. This adds to the aesthetic appeal of this tank.

What We Like

  • Efficient lighting system promotes coral growth.
  • Daytime and night-time lighting feature.
  • Honeycomb design conceals filtration apparatus.

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficulty in setting up.
  • Not spacious enough.

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

Coming in two color variants – white and black, the Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit is an etched glass tank with aluminum trim.  Its 7,000K LED light makes sure the healthy growth of both your aquatic pets and plants.

It also features a three-stage filtration system that is concealed by a Chinese honeycomb design which makes for an unobtrusive view of the tank. The filter has the capacity to turn water several times per hour to ensure that there is always a flow of clean water in your 5-gallon fish tank.  The filter media includes activated carbon, BioMax Bio Rings, and foam black.

Another great aspect of this product is that it comes with an adjustable pump which allows you to control the flow of the water. In addition, it doesn’t take a lot of space which is highly beneficial for those who are looking to set up an aquarium in a small, cramped up space.

What We Like

  • 37 bright LED lights.
  • Adjustable water flow mechanism.
  • Durable.
  • Sleek design.

What We Don’t Like

  • Absence of a water heater.
  • The filter is a bit strong for small fish.


When it comes to a 5-gallon fish tank, you have to put in a lot of effort into maintaining it. This means there has to be a lot of commitment from your end. So, before bringing one home, schedule your calendar as to which days of the week you are going to clean your tank, replace tank water, among others.

We are sure the aforementioned reviews of the seven most popular 5-gallon fish tanks have given you a clear idea as to which one to pick for your home.

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