Stocking ideas for a 5 gallon Nano tank setup

A 5-gallon aquarium tank is just spatious enough to host a variety of dwarf shrimp and have a small population thrive in it. As you will need to also have a bunch of live freshwater plants in there, you will need to make sure you make the most out of the space you have. Let’s have a look at some recommendations and stocking ideas for a 5 gallon tank.

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5 Gallon Shrimp Tank

Best shrimp for 5-gallon freshwater tank

Neocaridina heteropoda (formerly also neocaridina davidi), a.k.a. red cherry shrimp should be your number one choice when it comes to stocking a 5-gallon shrimp tank. The reason is simple: these shrimp are as tiny as it gets, and can withstand rapid fluctuations in environmental conditions which are bound to happen with nano tank setups. Luckily, these “cherry” shrimps come in many color variations, although the Red Cherry is definitely the hardiest. Keep in mind that if you want to keep neocaridinas in a small tank, you’d better stick with one color of your choice – cross-breeding different variations will likely result in the offspring “reverting” to wild genetics with a brownish color.

The almighty Opae Ula shrimp (also known as Hawaiian Volcano Shrimp or super shrimp) is also hardy enough to keep in a nano tank environment. It’s the kind of self-sufficient shrimp that requires little to no feeding as long as there’s enough moss and algae growing in your tank.

Amano shrimp (caridina japonica or mulidentata) are also a decent choice, being some of the best algivores which can help you keep your tank clean. Keep in mind that these are considerably larger than neocaridina and therefore the number of specimens you can keep is going to be lower.

Freshwater Amphipods in 5 gallon nano tank

Freshwater amphipods (commonly known as scuds or gammarius) deserve a special mention as they are especially suitable for nano tank setups. They are a type of invertebrate physically resembling shrimp, but with their body compressed and no carapace – more interestingly, they thrive in small containers with minimum maintainance. It is better to keep them in their own tank rather than with shrimp, but they will do fine with snails and other small inverts.

How many shrimp can I keep in a 5 gallon tank?

A 5-gallon aquarium tank can safely host up to 20-30 cherry shrimp, or 5-10 amano shrimp. If you are keeping fish in the same tank, aim at no more than 3 to 5 shrimp and keep breeding in place. It is best to keep a single culture of shrimp in a nano tank, although you can also add other inverts with low bio load such as triops or freshwater isopods.

Best fish tank mates for 5-gallon community aquarium

Unfortunately, 5 gallon is hardly enough capacity to safely keep fish and shrimp together and it can be challenging to keep them both happy. If you want to keep both, we recommended opting for a 10-gallon tank instead as it will allow for many more pairing options. That said, expert keepers may manage to successfully host small fish like tetra or killifish together with a underpopulated culture of neocaridina. Remember though that nearly all species of fish, no matter how small, are a threat to smaller shrimp fry.

Best plants for 5-gallon freshwater tank

With smaller tanks you better stick to two or three live freshwater plants that can provide both nutrition and shelter for your shrimp without growing too much that you can’t see anything but leaves. Opt for “nano” or “dwarf” varities of plants like Anubias and Amazon Sword, and some moss so that your pets can munch on biofilm. Anacharis is also a popular choice: keep in mind that it will likely float in water unless you place a weight onto it (but it’s your choice whether you wish to do so).


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