There have been a number of people reaching out and asking questions about stocking options for a 5 gallon saltwater tank recently and with more and more people switching over from freshwater tanks to trying their hand at a saltwater tank, we wanted to publish this article.
Our hope is that our 5 gallon saltwater tank stocking options will be able to help as many of our readers as possible find the perfect fish for their tanks.
That said, a 5 gallon tank really is on the small size and it is going to drastically limit the options you have available.
Even then, you will usually only be able to keep a single fish from these species in the tank too so if possible, we would always recommend that you try to go with a 10 gallon or even a 20 gallon saltwater tank if possible instead.
We know that many of our readers will already have their 5 gallon tank though so hopefully, there will be something on our list that takes your fancy.
Our Recommended 5 Gallon Saltwater Tank Stocking Options!
This is our list of recommended stocking options for a 5 gallon saltwater tank and yes, guppies can live in saltwater without issue but more on that later in the article:-
- Nano Goby!
- Sexy Shrimp!
- Bumblebee Snails!
Just a quick reminder before we go any further, as we mentioned, it will always be better for you to go with a 10 or 20 gallon tank instead of a 5 gallon tank if possible as it really opens up the available options to you.
Although guppies are usually thought of as a freshwater fish, they can thrive in saltwater when correctly acclimatized to living in saltwater.
Our guide on acclimatizing guppies to saltwater should be able to help any of our readers who do want to use guppies as their stocking option for their 5 gallon saltwater tank.
Guppies can be kept in saltwater tanks, but it is important to slowly acclimate them to the new environment.
When kept in saltwater tanks, guppies will need a higher level of maintenance as they are more susceptible to bacteria and parasites. It is important to keep the water clean and to watch for signs of illness.
They offer a great range of colors and patterns for a saltwater tank but a saltwater tank is often wasted on guppies due to their popularity on the freshwater side of the hobby.
We love clownfish and the smaller types of clownfish are usually going to be the most popular option when it comes to stocking a 5 gallon saltwater tank.
We have a dedicated article on keeping clownfish in a 5 gallon tank that goes into more detail but the short version is that just because you can keep a clownfish in a 5 gallon tank doesn’t mean that you should.
The fish will probably be miserable and sad in such a small tank and it can be a pain to add an anemone for the fish to host too.
We would highly recommend that you keep your clownfish in a 10 gallon tank if possible but they can work in a 5 gallon tank if needed but the specific type of clownfish you want to keep will come into play.
Our article going over the minimum tank size for a wide range of different clownfish should be helpful to anyone wanting specific advice on the type of clownfish that you can keep in your 5 gallon tank.
Any of the species in that article that are listed as a 10 gallon minimum tank can work in a 5 gallon tank but we wouldn’t recommend it if possible.
The nano goby is an excellent option for a 5 gallon saltwater tank and it is the only real fish species that can live in a 5 gallon tank with minimal issues.
Just provided that you use a suitable substrate and offer it plenty of spots to make its burrows and caves and a nano goby will usually be fine.
We have seen other people keep various types of goby in a 5 gallon tank with minimal issues but we would only really recommend you keep the nano goby in such a small tank.
As you may have guessed by now, if you upgrade to a 10 gallon tank, the different types of goby really do open up to you.
Although the name sounds a little silly, sexy shrimp can be a great addition to a 5 gallon saltwater tank.
They are peaceful, don’t need much in the way of a specialized diet and they add a little bit of color and interest to the aquarium.
You should be able to keep between one and three sexy shrimp in your 5 gallon tank without issue depending on your setup and they can be surprisingly interesting to watch.
Shrimp tanks are becoming more and more popular on the freshwater side of the hobby with many people keeping a 1 gallon freshwater shrimp tank but we expect the trend of keeping shrimp tanks to move over to the saltwater side of the hobby soon.
When the saltwater side of the fish keeping hobby does start to keep shrimp only saltwater tanks, we really do think that 5 gallon tanks with sexy shrimp in them will be the most common option.
The bumblebee snail is another excellent option for a 5 gallon saltwater tank and it is a species that many people have kept in such small tanks with great success.
Bumblebee snails are peaceful, don’t need much in the way of a specialized diet and they add a little bit of color and interest to the aquarium.
You should be able to keep between one and three bumblebee snails in your 5 gallon tank without issue but some people will be able to keep more than this if they don’t add many plants or tank decorations.
We really do think that the bumblebee snail is an excellent option for anyone looking to add a little bit of color and interest to their 5 gallon saltwater tank with snails being underrated for smaller tanks.
Although many people think that chitons are boring, they can be surprisingly interesting and make great options for such a small tank size.
This has caused them to become more popular for smaller 5 gallon tanks and they can sometimes be used as a tank mate with some of the other options on our list provided that you manage the bioload correctly.