Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.
Looking for the Best Pets for a 5- or 10-Gallon Tank?
So you’ve just pulled out a dusty old aquarium from the basement and are now wondering if there are any interesting animals you can keep in it to avoid throwing it away or pursuing an arduous search for someone who’d be willing to come pick it up from your house (shipping an aquarium would be far more expensive than the unit itself). You can consider a limited number of animal species that can reside in your tank for their entire lives, livening up a boring space with movement, and/or a natural, thriving aquatic or terrestrial ecosystem.
Choosing a Pet: What to Do First
First things first:
- Make sure you clean out your aquarium with vinegar only. Never use any chemicals or soap.
- Research is paramount to finding a pet that best meets the level of commitment you’re willing to put into them, as well as one that doesn’t tax your pocketbook.
- Never place any animals in an aquarium unsuited for their adult size while they are neonates, unless you are prepared to switch them later. Viewing animals thriving and behaving in a properly sized environment is very rewarding.
Pets for a 5-Gallon Tank
Generally, only experienced keepers will push the envelope, but it is always best to do everything in your power to assure a comfortable existence for your pet. For most animals, bigger is better, and with small tanks comes more maintenance to compensate for excess nutrient levels (animal waste turning into nitrates). Think in terms of long-term success for best results; don't purchase any pets that you don't foresee living at least five years in your five-gallon tank.
Observe the behavior of prospective fish for your tank before buying them. Do they utilize a lot of horizontal swimming space? Do they tend to stay toward the bottom? Ignore the "1 inch per gallon" rule as it is meant to be utilized with a minimum tank size in mind.
Many retailers advertise with photos of five-gallon tanks with everything in them from angelfish to lizards, but it is by no means acceptable to house a majority of these species in this amount of space. Always do careful research to pick fish for small tanks to ensure they are suitable, and to find out if they should be kept alone or with tank-mates.
What Can Live in a 5-Gallon Tank?
With that said, what are some of these suitable creatures? We'll take a look at options in the following categories:
- African Dwarf Frogs
- Freshwater Fish and Other Small Aquatic Invertebrates
- Marine Fish
- Dwarf Seahorses
- Other Invertebrates
1. African Dwarf Frogs
African dwarf frogs are an excellent choice for five-gallon tanks and are probably the most suitably-sized vertebrate for nano aquariums. These tiny frogs are not to be confused with African clawed frogs, a much larger species.
Also, fire belly toads are a small frog species that can minimally tolerate a five-gallon tank size—but again, this is not ideal, and many keepers would recommend against it.
2. Freshwater Fish and Other Small Aquatic Invertebrates
- Betta fish (also known as Siamese fighting fish) are the most popular choice on this list. They are often erroneously said to do well in the small, cup-like aquariums that they are routinely sold in. However in the wild, they live in large rice paddies, not puddles, and they should have a minimum of a five-gallon tank. The males also cannot be kept with members of their own species. Remember that while there are small fish that would seem to fit well in a five gallon, like bigger neon tetras, they need to be in larger groups that do not fit.
- Some other freshwater species: Paradise fish, sparkling gourami, dwarf gourami, head and taillight tetra, guppy, platy fish, Otocinclus, green neon tetra, dwarf puffers.
- Most small aquatic invertebrates, such as freshwater shrimp (small shrimp like cleaner shrimp, sexy anemone shrimp, and peppermint shrimp), corals, button polyps (Zoanthids), small hermit crabs, snails, and clams. These are all small but very entertaining, perfect for a five gallon. Such aquariums are equally fascinating and water changes aren’t such a critical necessity every week.
3. Marine Fish
There is some controversy on what fish are suitable for a five-gallon tank. Even relatively large fish like the smaller clownfish species are routinely kept in what are referred to as nano-reefs. Unless they are babies, I wouldn’t recommend clownfish. My preferred recommendation for a five gallon is to stick to the invertebrates listed above.
However, for those determined to have fish inhabitants, here are a few species that some people keep in smaller tanks because they are ‘perching’ fish as opposed to swimmers, although it is not considered to be ideal:
- Neon goby
- Clown goby
- Trimma goby
- Eviota gobie
- Catalina Goby (needs colder water)
As mentioned already but it bears repeating: Invertebrates would do very well in a five gallon.
The popular flame scallops fare very poorly in captivity.
4. Dwarf Seahorses
Dwarf seahorses are another option for your five-gallon tank. However keep in mind, while they may sound like an exciting animal to consider because they are the right size and very slow swimmers, they still require very particular care. In fact, dwarf seahorses require small tanks in order to feed. However, they are not very easy to care for, and require live brine cultures for their food. For the more adventurous aquarist however, this is one option that will dazzle a small tank.
5. Other Invertebrates
There are many other invertebrates that you can consider for your aquarium, like land arthropods. For those into animals that most would consider ‘creepy,’ many pet bugs are suitable for five gallons:
- Tropical cockroaches
Remember that all tarantulas, centipedes, and scorpions are venomous. Also, some species are larger and not recommended.
Pets for a 10-Gallon Tank
Ten-gallon aquariums are some of the most popular tanks on the market. Nearly all pet lovers have a spare one floating around somewhere. Despite not being drastically larger than a five gallon, you have a little more leeway stocking-wise with the few extra inches of horizontal space that a 10-gallon offers.
Ten-gallons are the minimal size for many species, and unlike the five gallon, you can also keep a few snakes in this size. For most species of the species mentioned here however, upgrading to a 20-gallon is considered to be more optimal. However, the following are still appropriate and can be housed in a 10-gallon tank.
What Can Live in a 10-Gallon Tank?
Below, we'll discuss some pet options in the following categories:
- Freshwater Fish and Invertebrates
- Frogs and Amphibians
- Hermit Crabs
- Marine or Saltwater Fish and Invertebrates
- Species-Only Tanks
1. Freshwater Fish and Invertebrates
Many species of freshwater fish are said to do well in larger tanks, and this is a standard size for beginners. Fish species include (aside from those already listed for the five gallon) but are definitely not limited to:
- Groups of tetras
- Pygmy cory
- Pygmy hatchetfish
- Norman's Lampeye
While most snakes do not need tanks longer than the size of their bodies, they should still have some room to roam around. It is not uncommon to see popular beginner snakes like corn, king, and milk snakes kept in 10-gallon aquariums as adults, but this is a little on the small side, especially if a particular snake grows larger than expected. However, there are some snakes that are small enough to reside comfortably in a 10 gallon for their whole lives. These include:
- Scarlet king snake (if you can find one)
- Kenyan sand boa
- Egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis species)
- Smaller garter snakes
- Rosy boa
- Western and Eastern hognose
- Also some other species if they remain small after reaching adulthood. Perhaps consider adoption/re-homed snakes that have reached adult age (at least three years)
The snakes, as do all pets, listed all require research into their care. Egg-eating snakes for example, must be large enough to handle quail eggs or they will require hard-to-find finch eggs from bird breeders. They may also need supplemental biotin.
Lizards can be suitable for 10-gallon tanks. However, 10 gallons is about the minimum tank size that can be done with even the smallest lizards. Lizards tend to be active and nocturnal. Geckos are the most popular choice for smaller lizards.
- Geckos: Leopard geckos, African fat-tailed geckos, house gecko, panther geckos, crested geckos, golden geckos, flying geckos, day geckos
- Anole species
- Pygmy chameleons
4. Frogs and Amphibians
Frogs and amphibians are popular options for this size. You can consider from the following, among others:
- Fire belly toad
- Pacman frog
- Reed frog
- American green frog
- Some small newts can fit, but with the filtration they require, a bigger tank might be needed
- One axolotl (some non-academic hobbyists recommend a minimum of 20 gallons, and while as a general rule, bigger is better, there is no evidence 10 gallons is inadequate as long as the water quality is maintained.) [1-8].
- African clawed frog
Note: Poison dart frogs are very small, but are generally recommended to have at least 20 gallons.
5. Hermit Crabs
Aside from the other arthropods listed for the five-gallon tank, hermit crabs are popular starter pets often kept in 10-gallon aquariums. However, there is much misinformation about them being spread by pet stores that are in the business to make sales and this leads to a high mortality rate in captivity.
As far as hermit crab care is concerned, be sure to provide hermit crabs with at least six inches of sand or coconut fiber for burrowing, access to salt water, climbing branches, hiding places, and proper humidity levels. Hermit crabs should also be housed with at least two individuals as they are social animals.
A crayfish tank is another option.
6. Marine or Saltwater Fish and Invertebrates
There are plenty of options for saltwater tanks for 10-gallon aquariums, starting with corals which can be kept in tanks as small as 0.5 gallons. A reef-only tank with 'cleaner crew' invertebrates are highly recommended because the lack of fish will make the water quality easier to maintain, and the extra space a 10-gallon offers could really allow for some amazing aquascaping. For those who are fixed on adding fish, opinion varies for different species, but the following are safe bets:
- Clownfish (most species except the maroon clown which gets rather large)
- Yellow watchman goby
- Small wrasses
There are certainly other small fish that would be recommended by many. A Randall's pistol shrimp and yasha hase goby pair demonstrate the interesting phenomenon of a symbiotic relationship between two different species and would be very comfortable in a 10-gallon.
However make sure you avoid the beautiful but not easy to care for scooter blennies and mandarin dragonet fish, which require large mature tanks in order to feed.
7. Species-Only Tanks
For those interested in something more unusual for their 10-gallon, consider species tanks or species-only tanks.
An aquarium can be dedicated to animals like:
- Tube anemones
- A planted saltwater tank
- Cherry-picked zoanthids
The tanks can be dedicated to these species only:
- Mantis shrimp (no other inhabitants)
- Harlequin shrimp (feeds exclusively on starfish)
- Small frogfish (will eat other fish and invertebrates)
Small Animals NOT Recommended for 5- or 10-Gallon Tanks
Poison dart frogs
White's tree frog
Red eye tree frog
Most king snakes
References for Axolotl Tank Size
- Adams, Christopher. Axolotl Care Sheet: Expert Guide on Housing, Feeding, & Breeding. 2019.
- Björklund, N. K., and S. T. Duhon. "The Mexican axolotl as a pet and a laboratory animal." Biology, husbandry and health care of reptiles and amphibians. Jersey City, NJ: Tropical Fish Hobbyist (1999).
- Brown, Lolly. "Axolotl. Facts and Information: A Complete Pet Owner’s Guide". 2013.
- Clare, John. "Requirements and Water Conditions". axolotl.org. 1998
- Clare, John. "Ambystoma mexicanum". Caudata Culture. 2001.
- Duhon, Susan T. "Guide to Axolotl Husbandry."
- Kim, Wonsun, et al. "Axolotl Husbandry Methods." Methods (1996): 15.
- Pound Road Veterinary Clinic. "Axolotl Care".
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can a male ball python do well in a ten-gallon tank? If not, how long can they live in a ten-gallon tank until having to move to bigger sizes?
Answer: I would go by the size of the animal. Babies could probably last at least a year in a ten-gallon tank. Once they get to a certain size, they will need an upgrade.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 06, 2020:
"do more research" I have looked into the axolotl tank size recommendations and my answer is the same. Plenty of credible sources say 10 is okay. I've had mine in a 10, although he's a smaller size. Somewhere I got my dates screwed up and I recently found out he is at least 14 years old.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 19, 2020:
Sierra: I did not recommend a single reptile for a 10 gallon. What is your objection to this article?
Loves gerbils! on July 19, 2020:
A ton of people put two gerbils in a 10 gallon fish tank
should I do that?
holy_guacamole15 on July 12, 2020:
i have a few different exotic animals. im 15 with out a job, so i cant get anything that the animal itself costs more than $35. i have rats and mice, fish and lizards and turtles and bettas, cats and dogs and a very large boa. ive owned scorpions, tarantulas, roaches and other invertabrates. im looking for an animal that i can hold, fits in a 20 gallon long tank, for either its whole life, or for atleast a year, and is something i have not owned before. my mom says no birds, im not a huge fan of geckos, nothing against them im just not interested in them. i dont really fancy amphibians and im not interested in hermit crabs either. could you give me some suggestions, im having a very difficult time trying to figure out what pet i want. also im not spoiled i adopted or purchased all of my animals with the money i have earned doing yard work and small jobs. im not immature and i know how to do research before getting an animal. im not cruel and i dont neglect my animals. i added that so you dont think im some dumb spoiled kid looking to get an animal.
Opinion maybe on July 03, 2020:
I think people are getting confused, a ten gallon tank isn’t technically too small for an axolotl, but twenty gallons is recommended as axolotls expel a lot of waste. So you can keep Ax’s in a ten gal but you need to buy the necessary filtration, which may be more expensive than just getting a 20 gal.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 28, 2020:
Emily Mincey: I did a quick fact check on the housing of axolotls and my information has been confirmed. I have added my references which are from scientists, vets, and experienced keepers. Your links, one from a website that frequently rips off my articles, are sources from random people. I am aware some people feel axolotls should have a minimum of 20 gallons. That is just their opinion and preference, they have no evidence. These 'minimums' are just made up numbers. Todays hobbyists are also saying hamsters need 10 foot enclosures. People have had success with 10 gallons so I'm presenting that information here.
Sierra on June 25, 2020:
Just wanted to add that a lot of the reptiles and amphibians listed cannot live in 5 or 10 gallon tanks. I cannot think of a single reptile that can live in a 5 gallon tank but if you are wanting a reptile and have a 10 gallon tank, you can have a house gecko or a anole just make sure you do your research and only have one.
Maggie on June 23, 2020:
I need some recommendations for a small reptile. I'm not sure about these options and I'm looking for a frog or small reptile that would fit in a 5-gallon tank. If it's possible I don't want it to eat live bugs as I have a fear of bugs. I also will be saving up money so cost isn't really a problem. If you have any recommendations that would be great!!
Emily Mincey on June 13, 2020:
I have seen so many rude comments from you in your own comment section, and it reminds me of how the world is doomed because of this generation. I see a person who doesn’t want to admit to their mistake and fix the information. In fact you should be nice to the people reading this horrid information. For the people in the comment section, you should thank them for trying to help out. No one in here wanted to be rude. None of us wanted to be talked to in such a bad manner. So why. Why. Why are you acting like a child, calling people stupid and other names. You keep asking for sources so here I am. Here to give you those sources on Axolotl care, in hopes of you being nicer to the people in the comments section (which is probably not going to happen considering how far gone you already are).
I hope you learn to be a better person one day.
Ps: try living in a 4x4 box and see how that makes you feel. After that, think of how dumb your information is.
Good work on May 25, 2020:
I loved this site and it’s cute animals
do more research on May 14, 2020:
As much as i like your willingess to help, much of this info is false. My local NON CHAIN pet store that i and all my family shop at has very heathly animals. This is because they keep all snakes that reach maturity in l40-80 gallons depending on the species. They also keep chameleons in screen cages at least 2 feet tall, and thats for the females of small species. And the biggest lies havent even been covered yet. The store and my uncle, who has 25+ years of keeping aquatic animals, say axolotls belong in at least 20 gallon for one, and at least 35 for 2. And every healthy leopard gecko that I have ever seen has been in a minimum of 20 , and a 25 or even 30 would be best. also no fish other than neon tetras and maby some of the smaller guppies should be kept in anything smaller than a 10 gallon. anymore than 5 fish and i would say 20 or above depending on species. My rule is 2 gallons for every inch of full grown fish, it is usually 1 inch but 2 will help your fish live long. I used this rule and my fish lived 2 years longer than any store said they would. so anyone reading this and wanting to get a pet, use very reliable sources. Preferably experienced keepers or very high quality non chain pet store workers.
Charlotte on April 29, 2020:
Very helpful site :) thank you
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 30, 2020:
Hello-- Here is the page where my information came from http://www.axolotl.org/housing.htm
As you haven't provided any evidence to back your claims your guesses are as good as mine. There is a current trend among herp and small animal keepers to start barking information like they know it to be a fact. There are very few known 'facts' with these animals because they are understudied, however the limited information allows for animal rights nuts to start proposing every animal needs impractically large enclosures so that they can accomplish their goal of phasing out people's pets. Many of them are conducting low quality studies and suggesting their claims have been proven based on that information. Do not fall into their trap.
Hello on March 26, 2020:
Almost all the information up there on the article is false. This article is misinforming a lot of people. I have read a lot of the comments and even the oldest ones, and its sad to see people believe this, and buy animals that will die in a year or two. I would also like to point out the snakes, there are a couple of snakes that could live in a ten gallon, and none of them are on here. Also, the lizards, a lot of lizards cannot live in a 5 gal or 10 gal tank, leopard gecko and crested seem the worst for the size you recommend. A couple more things, first, that website you supported your claims of axolotl care is now taken down. (I disagree with all of your axolotl claims, so I can guess why it was taken down) Also, your axolotl is most likely stunted from growing, many fish and lizards can be stopped from growing from incorrect tank size. A five gal or ten gal tank also requires a lot of cleaning, more then bigger tanks, so fish are not best for it. (Do not take my advise if you don't believe it, because I know this from many websites and personal experience but I also didn't go into much detail, I just wanted to point out a couple flaws and possibly stop people from relying on this source, correct me if i'm wrong too :3)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 22, 2020:
GetHerpsNotHerpes: I don't care if you are a zookeeper. Post the studies. If you have none those are just your opinions.
Brittany on January 22, 2020:
Melissa A. Smith I support you as a professional, as women and as a person with a heart and a lovely for animals, and a wonderful prove it to me attitude. YOU GOT THIS GIRL
GetHerpsNotHerpes on December 21, 2019:
Most of these animals listed on here are suitable for the enclosures they are listed under however there are some that are not. As a reptile and amphibian enthusiast, veterinary school student, and working as a zookeeper assistant at my city's zoo, I have done quite a bit of research on animals.
Leopard geckos should only be kept in an enclosure of 10 gallons if they are still a juvenile. Adult leopard geckos require a minimum of 20 gallons for them to not just live, but live happily.
I see one comment a person posted below saying that they have a 10 gallon tank divided into thirds so that each fish has only 3 gallons to swim around in. The reason that betta splendens need at least 5 gallons of water is so that they can develop their muscles and maintain them. Many studies have proven that bettas in small tanks die earlier in age than those in 5 gallons. Necropsies show that the main reason they die young is due to not having enough water to swim around in and led to muscle atrophy.
Please provide your animals with their basic living requirements or do not own an animal at all until you learn more about the species you would be responsible to care for. Read articles written by reliable sources such as specialists and veterinarians. It would break my heart, and I'm sure yours as well, if your animal passed away due to something that could have easily been prevented.
me on October 21, 2019:
um its just me but I'm a 13 year old and you all know that snakes in the zoo are only in small five gallon tanks even though their adult ball pythons but keep in mind they TAKE THEM OUT OF THEIR TANK FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS A DAY AND HOLD THEM FOR GUESTS thats what gives them exercise and room to stretch then they just chill for the rest of the time. no need for gigantic cages if you hold them and exercise them for a little while each day you don't need much besides a smmaal tank a log to hide under and proper lighting
Carter Bailey on August 27, 2019:
Do you breed
FishAreFriendsNotFood on July 26, 2019:
Wow! At all of the many aquarium sites I go through there's always ridiculous people going on about how you have to have these huge tanks for everything. I have 4 bettas right now. Two are in a 10 gal split tank with two emerald corydoras, plants in tiny terra cotta pots, and a whisper 5-10 gal filter on each side. One is in a 10gal tank divided in three with a back panel filter that takes up around 2 gals of tank so each section is around 2.75 gals, soil substrate heavily planted with 2 ottocinclus. The last betta is in a 5 gal with 2 otto's and a lyretail guppy, soil substrate heavy planted with a back panel filter that takes up about 1 gal of the tank. All of my fish are very healthy and active. The thing is, they have been upgraded in tank space more than once and beyond a certain point they didn't really care. I had to wait for tank delivery so I got them 1gal critter keepers to stay in until they came. It was cracked and had to be returned and replaced so I got them 3 gal clear plastic storage boxes(I was running out of money, those cost $3.50 each while just the little 1gal acrylic tanks were $7!) and some sponge filters and some live plants to hold them over. They were excited to get out of the pet store cups, then they were excited to go in the next upgrade and loved their plants. When the bigger tanks were up and cycled I moved them and their plants and rocks and they really didn't care. They didn't get excited, they weren't any healthier or happier than they already were in their 3gal storage bins! The only difference was I could see them better because glass is clearer. Beyond a certain point it's not as important to them as what's in it decor wise and how clean you keep it. I had perfectly healthy happy fish in every size container because I put in the maintenance necessary. The only time I had sick fish was when I stupidly didn't quarantine a new ottocinclus and a new
bristlenose pleco, put them straight in the 3 section tank, they died a week later and took two of my precious beloved betta boys with them. That's why I don't have six bettas right now. I also have a 20 gal with 2 veiltail angels and a small pleco, and a 5 gal with a 10gal whisper filter with 2 emerald corys and a baby short finned angel that won't get as big as my veiltails ( I grow my baby angels in this tank, he will get a 10gal when full grown). Both of these tanks have potted plants also. All of my tanks have more than the recommended filtration, I change water more often, and I have live plants. This will keep your fish healthy even if it's what would otherwise be considered overstocked or too small. If you are willing to put work into keeping it clean, then your concerns about tank size come down to size of fish (if I tried to keep my veilteils in a 10 gal their dorsal fins would stick out of the water like a shark!), swimming movement, and territorial stress and aggressiveness. Bettas have so much fin they aren't the best swimmers. They swim slowly, and usually lurk in a favorite hiding spot. Angels spend most of their time hovering or slowly gliding, and only sprint very short distances. The problem with both is territorial space. They can be chill in a minimal space so long as they aren't challenged for their zone. A fish that swims super fast for long distance should not be put in a smaller tank. I wouldn't put zebra danios in a 5 or even 10 gallon for that reason even though they're pretty small. I wouldn't put a comet goldfish in a ten gallon, but I might put one blackmoor goldfish and just clean it a lot. Proper water maintenance for the level of waste produced in your tank is the key to stretching the limits on smaller tanks. To the people who go self-righteous freak out on people and say their cruel, yes we would all like to give our pets the best that we can, but there are limits to what is reasonable. Get a grip. To the author, the only one I saw that was a totally bad recommendation was the seahorse in a 5 gal. Those are incredibly difficult to keep alive regardless of tank size. Unless you're an expert you shouldn't mess with those. As for the reptiles and snakes, don't any of these people take them out of the tank? It's like walking your dog. You take it out of the tank for exercise or just to hold? I had a box turtle in a 10gal when I was a kid. I'd regularly take her outside and let her crawl around in the grass or on the kitchen floor when it was too cold out. My daughter has a leopard gecko in a 10gal and he's fine, it's got all the accessories a gecko could want. She also takes him out regularly. My husband had a rainbow boa in a 10 gal. He took her out often and she would wrap around his arm. Anyway, my recommendation is of course a betta and 2 corys for a 5 gal, do the same and add a few small schooling fish for the 10 gal. Cory cats are funny and clean up dropped food while bettas have vivid colors and will actually interact with their owners. My son however would recommend you go in the yard and catch yourself an American toad. He's got two juveniles in his ten gallon tank. Don't do it if you can't stand listening to the crickets you have to feed them though. I guess that also goes for quite a few reptiles and amphibians.
Karmen on July 15, 2019:
Thank you so much for ALL the info. I know it takes a lot of time and I just want to THANK YOU.
Brittany on July 07, 2019:
Jaisa Stanley, you obviously don’t know anything about snakes. Western hognoses don’t need anything larger than a 10 gallon unless they’re abnormally large as adults and most won’t eat if they’re in an enclosure too large. A baby hognose is perfectly happy in a 5 gallon for a long time, especially a male. Species like ball pythons also prefer smaller, enclosed spaces and 10 gallon tanks are the preferred size until the snake is at least 700-800 grams in size. Again, too large of an enclosure and the snake will not feel safe and secure, and will not eat.
Bigger isn’t always better! Yes, for some species they need the most space they can get. Actually for geckos such as leopard gecko, the absolute minimum for an adult is a 20 gallon long but preferred is a 40 gallon breeder. But that’s not the same for every animal. The best way to determine an animal’s requirements for captivity is to look at how it lives in the wild. A ball python spends its life in a termite mound, for example.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 06, 2019:
Cresties101 I'm considering removing all of these comments and updating the article with sources. I agree with you, always use more than one source. The problem is there are far too many know-it-alls that have opinions that are not supported by evidence. Of course, there is rarely actual research conducted in this hobby (and when it IS done it is often conducted by animal rights nuts that want to confirm their anti-captivity bias, like Clifford Warwick and Lori Marino), so there is a lot of information termed folklore husbandry that floats around and becomes gospel. Few people seem to be aware of this. I don't like to deal with certain 'rules' and 'minimums' for enclosure/tank size. An animal living for 2 years is no evidence of anything. Animals in gigantic enclosures also die. Was a necropsy performed? You can't just assume the animal died of living in a small enclosure. People need to go to the sources and take up their BS with them, because most of these recommendations are not coming from me, and I have not kept most of these species.
Chili on July 06, 2019:
I'm not trying to hate, but Pacman frogs aren't aquatic. They need very little water besides misting
Cresties101 on July 02, 2019:
This comment section seems really heated, and I think there's good and bad information throughout it, but bottom line is try to give your pets the largest accommodations they will feel comfortable in (some critters are stressed in too large of spaces) and do not read a single article, blog post, or website and use it as your only reference when purchasing an animal. I own a crested gecko and currently keep it happily in an 11 gallon, but that is because it is a BABY and crests will get stressed if plopped into a 20 gallon when they're still small, but I will need a 15-20 gallon or larger once my gecko is an adult. I spent months of research before I purchased a crested gecko and have looked at dozens of websites, blogs, videos, and the like. Im not going to get into the arguments happening below because some people refuse to change their minds regardless of evidence you throw at them, but most of these pets will need larger terrariums/tanks in order to live their full lifespan and thrive. The person who I purchased my current 11 gallon terrarium from had a crest that was kept in it it's whole life. Te gecko lived 2 years. Cresteds are supposed to live 15+. This is a prime example of what happens when a reptile or any animal is left in too small of a habitat for its life. This gecko lived less than 20% of its average captive lifespan. Just because an animal is alive in a small tank does not mean it will continue to stay alive in poor accomadations. Please do much more research than this article and do not skimp on the habitat for any animal. Thank you for reading
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 29, 2019:
maria: It's my page and I'll respond as I see fit. I don't need to be pleasant to people who attack me and accuse me of cruelty.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 29, 2019:
Blake, all of these animals would also be better off in a 1,000,000 gallon tank. This is why animal rights activists are so successful. People complain about the cage size until no cage size is adequate. All the cage sizes listed here are big enough for the animal to carry out its essential functions and fit any necessary cage furnishing. After that, anything is just your arbitrary preference without actual evidence.
Blake on June 29, 2019:
You're extremely over defensive of criticism and openly insult anyone who disagrees with you, even if they're right, most of the animals listed as 5gal would be better off in a 10gal after about a year, or just once they're fully grown, and most things here listed as being able to live in a 10gal would be MUCH better in a 20gal right from the start and will NEED a 20gal once they're fully grown. I found all this info from googling it and just doing a bit of research, as well as just having prior knowledge. At the very least put a note at the top of the article mentioning that you'll have to upgrade tank size to accommodate most of the pets as they grow.
maria on June 23, 2019:
stop being so defensive about criticism
talk about unprofessional
Sandie on May 02, 2019:
If you are going to add african dwarf frogs to your list please advise others that they are social little things. So more than 1 is needed. I have read a gallon a frog and 5 gallons a frog depending on what sites you go to. Also they need filtration, plants and plenty of hidding spaces. While they are a fully aquatic species they do require to be able to break the surface for air they are also not strong swimmers. So a tank with no higher than 12 inches of water is best.
So it is recomended that a shorter longer tank be used. Thanks.
Celine on March 04, 2019:
I was reading this with interest until you recommended marine fish and seahorses... doesn't even matter what size the tank is, these kind of animals do not belong on these kind of lists, way too many inexperienced people and already enough animal abuse out there of people who just buy an animal without any research.
And if you want to be a likeable blog poster, beside doing proper research, you should really change the attitude of your replies. Everyone tells you your post is full of misinformation, yet you reply with rude comments. It's not because you think it's true, that it actually is.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 09, 2019:
Blackosprey Your personal anecdote is neither 'food for thought' or helpful. I can't find a primary source at the moment, but I was under the understand that axolotls are not supposed to be too active, and high activity is a sign that the water is too warm, which leads to stress. When the water is appropriately cold, they will just be 'motionless' a good portion of the time. Maybe the zoo has a chiller.
Blackosprey on January 14, 2019:
Axolotls are messy animals. Their poop is huge, and it tends to disintegrate and get everywhere if not cleaned up, and can make even a 20g look pretty gross. A smaller tank size like 10g could work but with less water volume to dilute the waste, the dirtier the tank will be. The axie might become more prone to disease and the tank might be prone to ammonia spikes.
Sure, they can live in a 10 gallon. I think they can survive in much smaller containers at research labs, though that's hardly ideal for a pet. This is like the whole betta debacle... like, sure, they can live in a 2 gallon bowl with a cheap plastic decoration, but in my personal experience, giving them a large habitat with lush plant growth and warm, clean water made them much more active and colorful, less prone to disease, and made their care much, much easier.
While I haven't kept an axie in a 10g to compare to mine in a 20g, I have seen one in a 10g at the local zoo... its gills are almost featherless stubs and it hides curled in a corner motionless, while my pet has healthy gills and will leisurely follow around anyone moving around the tank, so there's food for thought I guess.
Also, part of pet care and hobbies is having an open mind and being willing to acknowledge that other people may have valid knowledge and experience that you did not have before. Learning is how we become better caretakers! I would have never discovered how wonderful bettas actually are if I had adamantly stuck with supposed "facts" from the pet store like "bettas need dirty water to survive," they don't need heaters," or "they'll live their best life in a quart of water," or attacked anyone who said otherwise with disproportionate rage and name-calling. :)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 03, 2019:
Writing something down = doesn't make it inherently true.
Look Butlicker, I'm pretty fed up with people running around demanding that people care for animals THEIR way with no supporting evidence other than what they've pulled out of their butts. 10 gallons is plenty of room for axolotls to do as they do; float around, remain on the floor stationary, feed, go in and out of structures at .001 miles per hour. If your axolotl is moving around a lot THAT is a sign of stress. I see no reason why 10 gallons isn't fine and unless you have real reasons for your statements, sit on it.
Bill Butlicker on December 31, 2018:
Melissa A Smith, if you are trying to educate people then maybe you should try to teach them instead of being rude and telling them to get off 'your' site. also if everyone disagrees with you then you're probably in the wrong. and just because a single website (http://www.axolotl.org/housing.htm) can back you up doesn't mean that you or the website is correct.
we should try to give our animals the best habitat and living conditions we can, and by saying that putting and Axolotl in a twenty gallon tank is wrong is basically denying an Axolotl the opportunity to live in something better. its like, would you rather live in a small apartment or a medium sized house?
10 gallon = surviving, not thriving
20 gallon = thriving and surviving
as the author of a page you might want to consider being more welcoming to people with different opinons
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 09, 2018:
ZT2Cans My "advice" comes from axolotl.org http://www.axolotl.org/housing.htm So what makes you an authority on axolotls or their mental state in a 10 gallon? What evidence are you basing your claims from? I know that these days so many kids watch some know-it-all pet tubbers and then start preaching their pet care gospel. I think you should stick to gaming.
ZT2Cans on September 09, 2018:
An Axolotl can NOT live in a ten gal. They need at least a twenty gallon tank to thrive. Just because your Axolotl survives in a ten gallon, doesn't mean it's thriving or happy. The only snakes I can think of that can live in a ten gallon/five gallon are Blind snakes and Ringneck snakes. I hope nothing bad happens to any of your pets or the pets of people who followed your "advice" here. Have a good day.
CascadeLepidoptera on July 11, 2018:
All animals, mammals, reptiles, marine life all have a place in this world that deserves respect to there natural habitats. The habitats should be taken into consideration when choosing pets or leaving them in their natural world. Humanity has been abusively taken animals and other species for granted for thousands of years. In truth we owe homage to their lives because we would cease to exist without them. Example Honeybees have been disappearing for decades now we need them like all living things on this planet to survive. If anyone truly wants living beings as pets then they need to consideration what really matters to their well being. Therefore I heartedly say talk to a veterinarian. A vet would and should know how to take care of all of life pets. Signed CascadeLepidoptera i.e. (WaterfallButterfly.)
Alexis Dooley on June 11, 2018:
Him what kind of lizards will be good in 5 gallon tanks?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on October 13, 2017:
Jenna: From axolotl.org
"For the enthusiast, the accepted minimum size would be a 45 cm long aquarium (US 10 gallons) for one adult. "
My axolotl is around 7 years old and nowhere near 1 foot. They aren't all the same size. Now run along.
jenna on October 09, 2017:
Axolotls need a 20 minimum. Just because you managed to keep yours alive doesn't mean it's good. Axies can get to be almost a foot long. Your pet is probably miserable.
Glitch on September 17, 2017:
Nice list! I think some people are thinking you are recommending these animals as starters which is making some people upset. This is one of the only lists I could find that wasn't just starters lol. Looking for good pets for ten gallons is hard.
Raven BlueFeather on September 05, 2017:
I have a Praying Mantis
Cole Hodgson on February 20, 2017:
a flying gecko in a ten gallon tank? that's way too small! flying geckos should have at least a 20 gallon! (everything else in this is accurate)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 19, 2017:
Will: should be fine
Will on December 23, 2016:
Just double checking I have a 12gallon tank and was thinking about getting a western hognose would that be ok?
Jack on November 27, 2016:
Nice fount of information here! I've recently upgraded my 5 betta tank to a 10 gallon. I was wondering if I could use the spare 5 gallon for anything else, but then this article gave me the idea of trying out African dwarf frogs. I've never had much success keeping them with fish, but I may try a frog-only setup in the future after I do a bit of research.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 19, 2016:
First you say I should get snails, then you say I should not do anything to an animal I wouldn't want done to me. Are you stupid?
Drift on April 08, 2016:
Looking to add simbent friends to a 10 gallon tank with a 1.5 in. naturally caught red slider. Any suggestions?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 22, 2015:
Please present your research.
Kittenvixen on September 22, 2015:
Actually a 10G tank for hermit crabs would not be good at all. I admin a hermit crab group and the smallest we suggest after tons of research is 29G tanks at 10G per crab. The only thing a 10G tank would be good for is an ISO tank for crabs that have lost limbs, etc etc.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 30, 2015:
It looks like a meant to write 'other invertebrates' because I discuss a few invertebrates prior to that section. This article got hubpro'ed so I didn't write "There are many other amphibians you can consider for your aquarium, like land arthropods." Originally it was set up like:
Land Arthropods: For those into animals that most would consider ‘creepy’, many pet bugs are suitable for 5 gallons. Remember that all tarantulas, centipedes, and scorpions are venomous.
I don't know how that happened thanks for pointing it out.
Shaddie from Washington state on May 30, 2015:
Great Hub as usual! But I'm curious, why do you have a section titled "Other Amphibians" and then under that you list a bunch of arthropods? Did you mean "Other Animals" or "Other Arthropods"? Amphibians are things like frogs and salamanders, as I'm sure you know, or even loosely could be used to describe any animal that lives half on land half on water (such as a red eared slider or a beaver). I know you know that so I'm assuming it was a typo :)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 30, 2015:
AP, 10 should be fine, probably depending on the amount but I'd say a few could be in there.
AP on May 28, 2015:
Somehow, I keep discovering new articles of yours that I missed on previous go-rounds. (I blame HubPages' distracting and chaotic layout.)
Neat article as always, but I have a question:
Would triops be content in a ten gallon tank? (I'm guessing five gallons is definitely too small.)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 12, 2015:
That's your opinion. Bigger is usually better but 10 is fine for the average-sized hermit crabs. Nearly every site says the same.
Lacey on May 12, 2015:
You're information about hermit crabs is wrong :( hermit crabs need at least 5 to 10 gallons per crab with play sand (not store bought) and eco earth mixed in. The smallest tank they should be in is a 20 to 29 gallon tank.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 01, 2014:
Thank you mariekbloch
mariekbloch on March 01, 2014:
Excellent, informative hub. Such a variety of options.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 28, 2014:
Thank you raymondphilippe!
Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on February 28, 2014:
What a lovely display and interesting info. It seems like a real labour of love to build a beautiful aquarium. Nice!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 26, 2014:
Thanks for commenting Ann1Az2. Many people are fine with keeping smaller fish in a 7 gallon. The rules keep bending to accommodate people's interests as nano-reefs became more popular, but these fish probably do not stay fair well long term.
Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on February 26, 2014:
Great information that should be taken to heart when first starting an aquarium of any size, but particularly the small ones. I had a friend of mine one time that had a 7 gallon reef tank. He had the coolest lighting and all that was in it was some coral and some tiny shrimp - no fish. He said the tank wasn't big enough. He was pretty well an expert on marine tanks - had a huge one at home. This 7 gallon he kept on his desk at work. It was mesmerizing because of the way he had it decorated and watching the little shrimp move.