5 Gallon vs 10 Gallon Fish Tank: Comparison Guide

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Choosing the appropriate fish tank size is the very first step when becoming a successful fish keeper. For some people, it can be a difficult step, since you have to take into account the type of fish you want to keep, where the tank will be placed, and if it is affordable.

There are a lot more things you need to consider, and luckily, I will cover all of them. This article is particularly dedicated to breaking down the difference between 5 gallon and 10 gallon fish tanks, at the same time providing valuable insights and helping you decide, which size to pick for your next fish tank.

Table of Contents

5 Gallon vs 10 Gallon Fish Tank Comparison

Aquarium size is very important, and there is certain information you should know, before picking the right size for you. For example, you need to understand, what fish can be kept in what kind of aquarium size, and how much maintenance each different size fish tank needs. To summarize all of the information provided in this article, I created a table, that depicts the main differences between a 5 gallon and a 10 gallon aquarium.

5 gallon vs 10 gallon fish tank comparison talbe
Tank Features 5 Gallon (18,9 liters) 10 Gallon (37,9 liters)
Dimensions Varies, depends on manufacturer and shape of the tank Varies, depends on manufacturer and shape of the tank
Tank Shapes Cube, cuboid, bowl Cube, cuboid, bowl
Weight when empty 7-10 lbs 13-16 lbs
Weight with water 60-70 lbs 85-95 lbs
Amount of small fish 3-4 6-7
Fish species Neocaridina shrimp, nerite snails, mystery snails, betta fish, chili rasboras Honey gourami, sparkling gourami, betta fish, guppies, neon tetras
Maintenance More regular and harder Less frequent and easier
Experience level Better for seasoned fishkeepers More suited for beginners
Price comparison Cheaper Expensive
Ease of relocation Easier Harder

Fish Stocking Options

Stocking an aquarium can be challenging for a beginner, but a good rule of thumb is to provide 1 gallon of water volume for 1 inch of fish. You also have to take into consideration the full length of the fish when it reaches maturity, also what are the characteristics of the species (does it need to live in groups, alone, or with certain species?).

When it comes to stocking options for both fish tank sizes, things can slightly vary, as a 10 gallon aquarium has a wider range of different fish you can keep in it, while a 5 gallon fish tank can only be a home for a handful of different species.

collage image of 4 species that can be kept in 5 gallon aquarium

For a 5 gallon aquarium, the main species that can be kept are aquatic snails, shrimp, small nanofish, and a few other variants. Fortunately, there are many types of aquarium snails and shrimp to choose from. Here are the most popular options for a 5 gallon fish tank:

When it comes to a 10 gallon fish tank, you can keep everything mentioned above, and there are more options! Here are some additional species:

  • Honey gourami
  • Kuhli loach
  • Celestial pearl danios
  • Pygmy corydoras
  • Cherry barbs
  • Platies

Before picking any of these species, remember to do some extra due diligence and research every one of them, so you won’t run into some problems when actually purchasing them.

Tank Size Impact on Fish Health and Well-being

Aquarium size is a huge factor, when it comes to affecting fish health, and how they thrive in a tank. Here are the things you should know:

  • Too small of an aquarium can stunt your fish growth rate. For example, a lot of people put fancy goldfish species in small bowls, and that really leads to nowhere, because in most cases the fish only lives in its own waste, which eventually leads to health problems. You really have to research every species and check what are their max size, and what size of a tank they actually need. Some fish will not reach their maturity and natural size if the environment is not healthy for them.
  • Not enough space can lead to aggression in certain species. Personally, I have seen a few cases, where people keep betta fish and a group of neon tetras in the same small tank. What happens, is that the neon tetras become often too stressed due to the small amounts of space, and begin harassing the betta, since it is a slower fish. That is why you have to not overstock your tank, or it can harm the fish you are keeping in it.
  • Water parameters can swiftly change in smaller aquariums. Temperature, pH, ammonia, and other significant water parameters, that need to be monitored regularly, can easily be changed in smaller tanks, compared to large aquariums. This leads to the need for more regular maintenance, which not all people can do.

Maintenance Requirements

Moving on, maintenance is another huge factor, when choosing an aquarium between 5 gallons and 10 gallons. A lot of people on the internet often write, that a smaller aquarium needs less maintenance, which is totally wrong. I had fish tanks that were about 50 gallons and 10 gallons, and I can confidently say, that a bigger tank often requires less attention.

Comparing a 5 gallon and a 10 gallon fish tank in terms of maintenance would mean, that a 10 gallon is definitely better. When you have a 5 gallon fish tank, you need to perform more water changes, often siphon the substrate, and clean the algae. You also have to do all of that with a 10 gallon tank, but less often.


The price of a 5 gallon or a 10 gallon fish tank could significantly vary and mainly is a personal preference. If you are on a tight budget, you could easily get a second-hand 5 gallon or a 10 gallon for 10-20$.

If you want a new fish tank, it can cost anywhere from 25-70$, and the price largely depends on the size, material, and manufacturer.

Nevertheless, a 10 gallon fish tank is usually more expensive since it is bigger, it needs a stronger filter and a stronger light, while a 5 gallon aquarium can be kept with the cheapest lights or filters.

Aquascaping and Decoration Opportunities

In a 5 or a 10 gallon fish tank, you can keep both low and high-maintenance plants, as well as plants, that don’t need to be planted, it depends on what you want. a 10 gallon fish tank is better when it comes to aquascaping, since you really have more space to create a beautiful environment, while a 5 gallon is still a good option, it is a slightly less appealing option.

image of a beautiful created aquascape in a fish tank

In a larger aquarium, you can simply keep more aquarium plant species, since there is more space. This can help create a more appealing and interesting environment, than a basic 5 gallon fish tank.

Personal Recomendations For Beginners

From my own personal experience and the knowledge I gathered through the years, I’d highly recommend starting out with a 10 gallon fish tank. With more space, you can get a better feel of keeping fish, and it would require less maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should a 5 Gallon Fish Tan Be Cleaned?

You should clean your 5 gallon fish tank weekly. Perform regular 25% water changes, as well as removing algae off of glass or other decorations, as well as siphoning the bottom of the substrate.

How Often Should a 10 Gallon Fish Tan Be Cleaned?

A 10 gallon fish tank is still considered tiny, which requires more maintenance. You can perform 25% water changes every 2 weeks, and also siphoning the bottom of the substrate, which removes leftover fish food and waste.

Writer's Thoughts

I believe that beginners should know the difference between these two fish tank sizes. Most people think, that smaller is better, but they don’t understand, that tiny aquariums require more maintenance, while larger tanks are actually easier to keep.

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Thank you for reading my blog post. This website was created with the sole intention of providing quality information regarding fishkeeping. I have been in the fishkeeping hobby for 8 years, and through many trials and errors as well as online research I gathered a lot of information, which I want to give back to the community.