How Many Fish Can You Keep in a 60 Gallon Aquarium?

The question of how many fish can you keep in a 60 gallon aquarium is an important one for any aquarist.

The answer to this question will vary depending on the size of the fish, the needs of the fish for different water conditions, and the type of aquarium you have.

A 60 gallon tank is considered a large aquarium and it would be able to easily house 100 small tetras (like ember tetras), 50 neon tetras, or 35 black skirt tetras. If you went for larger fish like fancy goldfish, you’d only be able to keep 3 of them comfortably, however.

When it comes to more aggressive fish, however, the number of fish you can keep in a 60 gallon tank may be more limited.

Keep reading to learn more about how many fish can fit in a 60 gallon aquarium!

How Many Freshwater Fish Can You Keep in a 60 Gallon Aquarium?

With freshwater fish, you can generally keep between 1-100 fish in your 60 gallon aquarium. (I know, very helpful answer, right?)

With large or aggressive fish – such as red tail sharks – you may want to only keep one of them in your aquarium even though they don’t get that big. If you keep them, you’ll also want to skip any other bottom dwelling fish, because red tailed sharks can be aggressive and territorial, and it may cause fights as they get older.

With more community friendly fish, you can safely keep more of them together because they won’t fight with each other.

Because of this, you’re going to be able to keep more peaceful community fish than semi-aggressive or aggressive fish in your aquarium generally speaking.

Here is a table with some general numbers for how many fish you can keep arranged by species:

Type Of Fish# of Fish
Fancy Goldfish3-4
Mbuna Cichlids15-20
Dwarf Gourami8
-Male Dwarf Gourami2
Zebra Danios30-35
Ember Tetras100+
Cardinal Tetras35-40
Neon Tetra50
Red Tail Shark1
Pitbull Plecos10-15

As you can see from the above table, the number varies widely from species to species because of size, bioload, personality, and a number of other factors.

And these are generally going to be for a species-only tank except the ones that you can only keep a few of because of how aggressive they are. If you want to keep multiple types of fish, you’ll have to reduce how many fish you’re keeping.

For example, a few stocking ideas include:

  • 15 Cardinal Tetras, 10 Zebra Danio, 6 Pitbull Plecos
  • 50 Ember Tetras, 10 Marble Hatchet Fish, 1 Clown Pleco
  • 3 Fancy Goldfish

This should give you a general idea of how you need to reduce the total number of fish you keep if you want to add in extra species.

If you were to add a red tailed shark, you’d probably want to skip smaller fish like ember tetras entirely to prevent them from potentially becoming food.

How Many Saltwater Fish Can You Keep in a 60 Gallon Aquarium?

Saltwater fish are relatively demanding in terms of aquarium size. This is because saltwater fish need a more stable environment to thrive, and 60 gallons may not be enough for this purpose.

It’s important to note that factors like your sump setup can affect how many saltwater fish you can keep in your aquarium. For example, if you have more live rock and a good algae reactor or scrubber you will have an easier time filtering pollutants out of the water which may make it easier to maintain water quality even with more fish.

Regardless of the type of saltwater fish you want to keep, it’s always best to research what your particular species needs before adding any new members to your tank!

Here are some general numbers on how many saltwater fish you can keep in an aquarium:

SpeciesHow Many?
Banggai Cardinalfish1
Mandarin Fish1
Royal Gramma1-2

As you can see, saltwater fish are a lot harder to keep in numbers than freshwater fish are. There are some fish that are supposed to be schooling fish – like green chromis, but these fish will often pick each other off until there is only one left.

Because of this, you should only keep multiple of a fish if you’ve checked beforehand that they’ll work together in your reef tank.

Avoiding Overcrowding

A 60 gallon tank is one of the smaller tanks that really starts getting to feel like a ‘large’ aquarium. Because of this, it’s easy to overestimate the number of fish you can keep in the tank.

It’s best to lower your expectations, however, otherwise you might end up with an ammonia spike that kills all of your fish. (Or one fish going after the others if you put an aggressive fish in with more peaceful ones.)

Another thing you want to keep in mind is that you only want to add a few fish at a time into your aquarium – especially if you’re just setting it up.

You want to give your filtration system time to adjust to the new bioload you’ve put into your tank. As the bacteria in your filter multiply, they’ll be able to filter more ammonia out of your aquarium’s water and you can add more fish into the tank.

Because of this, putting 100 ember tetras in all at once may kill them, but putting them in 10 or 20 at a time over a few months may be perfectly fine. With larger fish, you may only want to add one or two at a time.


It’s important to do your research before buying fish to verify that the fish you want to put into your tank will work together and that you’re not planning on putting too many of them into your aquarium.

You can use tools like Aqadvisor for this or you can post your stocking list on forums like Fishlore and get feedback from experienced fish keepers. This is definitely a situation where it pays to start slowly and not bite off more than you can chew.