Monthly Archives: May 2013

Stocking a 3 to 5 Gallon Aquarium

I often see requests for information on starting a very small 3 to 5 gallon aquarium.

Most people are asking about how to stock their 3 to 5 gallon tank — what can they put in it? Or more accurately, what can they get away with putting in it?

My 5 Gallon Hex Tank

So, how big do you think this aquarium is in gallons? (Read on for answers!)

The most common (and undoubtedly excellent) advice out on the web is to put in a single male betta fish — and absolutely nothing else.

However, I believe that small tank owners not only deserve alternatives to the “betta only” model of very small aquarium keeping, but that there really are other good options available — if you’re willing to look outside the ordinary.

So what makes a “good” 3 to 5 gallon aquarium? You might not expect my answer. The things that make a “good” very small aquarium in the looks department are also important for aquarium health!

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Very Small Aquarium Challenges: Lighting and Plants

There are several considerations for lighting a 3-5 gallon aquarium. (If you don’t have live plants, though, you can ignore this section and do whatever you like.)

I run my tank light plugged into a digital timer. For the sake of my plants, it’s on from 9 in the morning to 10 at night, since my light is relatively weak. (Most very small aquariums come with weak lighting, for reasons too complicated to go into). I never have to touch it to turn it on or off, and the timer even “remembers” what time it is and my instructions after it’s been unplugged for a water change.

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