The Best Freshwater Fish for Small Tanks

So you are probably thinking about having fish as your pets. Naturally, you will need a fish tank as a home and also the breeding ground for your fish. In the past, you might only rely on the fish bowl. But you need to remember that there are a lot of options of fish tanks these days, and they come in various sizes, types, and also different arrangements.

black skirt tetra
Photo by Mycatkins

Some fish tanks may be small and compact, so you can place them on the counter, on your desk, or on the corner table. Some tanks, however, are big and cumbersome enough. They have their space on the corner. It is also possible that they have their stand and support frame.

Choosing the Economical Fish Tanks

A lot of people would go for the small fish tanks because of the many positive reasons. First of all, the small tanks are more affordable. Depending on the type of tanks, the materials, and the system, you can adjust your budgets with your needs of keeping the fish. Moreover, smaller tanks are easier to care and maintain. You need to remember that you have to clean the tank regularly so the fish will live and be happy. No one likes to live in a dirty environment; not even a fish. Imagine if you have to live in a dirty surrounding and breathe in foul air, you wouldn’t like it either, will you? With bigger and heavy tanks, the cleaning process will be more tiring. Not to mention that it will take a longer time to complete. Third, smaller containers allow adjustability and flexibility. You can place your fish tank anywhere you like; in the living room, in the kids’ playroom, in your home office, and so much more.

The Considerations

If you have decided that you are going to start with the small freshwater fish tank, you also need to decide whether it is going to be a heated fish tank or the cold water tank. Deciding on the type of tank will determine what kind of fish you can have because each fish has their requirements when it comes to water temperature. Just because they are all fish, it doesn’t mean that they can live in the same water. Some fish are okay with cold water while some can only live in warm water. Make sure to determine this factor before you can choose the right fish for small tanks.

Fish for Cold Water Freshwater Tank

When you have decided that you want to have a cold water aquarium, make sure that the tank has lights and also good (at least decent) filtration system so your fish can stay healthy and happy. Here are some of the fish options:

  • Goldfish. Despite the name, you can find various kinds of colors and species of goldfish. Some fancier species include fanned tails or bubbly head. The Goldfish is a good option for beginners, and they don’t mind the cold temperature either. However, if you have a 5-gallon fish tank, you may want to consider how many fish to include as they can grow big and overcrowd the tank. Not to mention that they are messy, and the tank will be dirty easily. You need to change the water at least 10% of it once a week. You can also consider adding dechlorinator into the tank to maintain the cleanliness.
  • Bloodfin Tetras. The fish is small, they have unique characteristics of the silver body with red fins, and a good choice as a small aquarium fish. They can live up to 10 years with proper care and treatment. Keep in mind that this fish is active and like to move around in a group. If you have a small tank, you may want to keep five fish at max. They are peaceful fish that likes to live in a group. If you only have one fish, it tends to be a shy fish.
  • White cloud minnow. They can handle cold temperature very well. That’s why they are often kept as outdoor fish at fish pool or pond. They are a group of fish that likes to live on the top and also a middle area of the fish tank. If you have a small tank keeping up to 4 fish will be good for you. If you properly care for them, they can live up to 5 years.

Fish for Heated Freshwater Tank

When it comes to a heated tank, there are more variants of fish that you can choose, including the common tropical fish. A heated tank comes within the range between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here are some of the fish options:

  • Danios. The small fish is adjustable to any condition and temperature. They aren’t only small but also active. They eat almost anything. They have unique bright horizontal stripes that make them noticeable. They like to move in groups on the top surface of the water.
  • Black Molly. This is a type of fish that has high flexibility and adaptability. It can live in saltwater, freshwater, and even brackish water. If you consider having a community fish with different types of species, this fish can be a perfect option as a small tank fish. But then again, you need to find your small tank to have a community fish. In fact, if you buy the pair of a female and male fish, they can be couples, and you can end up with Black Molly babies. However, you need to have enough vegetation so the kids can hide; otherwise, they will end up being eaten by their parents. If you have a small tank, you may not want to have a couple as it may result in overcrowding issue.
  • Black Skirt Tetra. If you choose this type of fish, you need to buy a couple, at least. If you tank big enough, you can purchase a group of them. Black Skirt Tetra is the best tetra fish for beginners. They are peaceful fish that dislikes confrontation, and they like to eat. They live happily in a tank with plants and rocks (or other structural accessories) for their hiding spots.
  • Kuhli Loach. They are fish, but they have an eel-like appearance that will look perfect for your tank. They like to live on the bottom, and they like to hide when it is daytime. If you want to keep them, it is advisable that you include hiding spots too, like a cave or tunnel. Choose the food carefully; you may want to choose foods that can sink to the bottom.
  • Platies. This fish is great for beginners because they come in a wide array of varieties. They can live in a community fish, and they can also reproduce. But you may want to separate the babies from other fish because other members of the tank will eat the young fish. They like freeze-fried or flake food. They also like eating the algae, keeping the tank cleaner.
  • Swordtails. It is a variant that can live long with proper care; not to mention that they are passive fish too. They will be definite add colors into your tank because of their bright colors.
  • Bettas. They come in various colors where the male variant has bright and brilliant long fins. They also have another name, the Siamese Fighting Fish. Just the like name suggests, they will fight with other Betta fish. They are perfect for the small tank because you can only have one in the reservoir.

The Tank Consideration

Again, a 5-gallon tank may be perfect for everyone because the size of the tank fits their needs just well. There are other tanks with one gallon, two gallon, or three-gallon arrangements, but the tank may be too small for the fish. Remember, we are talking about the fish home, not yours. When you want to make sure that your fish is happy and healthy, be sure that you also choose the right size. A lot of fish die because overcrowding or they don’t have enough space to move around.

The Best Freshwater Fish for Small Tanks

A 5-gallon fish tank kit is considered ideal enough because it has a heater, a filtration system, and a lighting system. In most cases, they are pretty general, in terms that they are okay; they are not too great in quality, but they aren’t too bad either. If you want to change the system, feel free to do so. A lot of people would change the regular and mediocre filtration or heater system with the more advanced (and better) one.

If you have the budgets, you probably want to consider having a 10-gallon tank, or 20 gallon tank for the better which is more than enough to have a community fish. But then again, if you are new to this, choosing the 5-gallon tank will be sufficient. You can upgrade the tank to a bigger size when you are more experienced in handling and caring for the fish.

Don’t forget that a regular maintenance and cleaning is a must. Be sure to spend at least once a week to have a thorough cleaning. Pay attention to their eating pattern as well. If you can’t dedicate yourself to care them, then you probably shouldn’t have any pets at all.


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