8 Best Fish for 10 Gallon Tank - Guide for Newbies

best fish for 10 gallon tank

If you are planning to start a new hobby of fishkeeping, what will be your initial thoughts of the aquarium size? Very naturally, most beginners won’t prefer a vast aquarium to start with. They prefer to go for a smaller aquarium and find the 10-gallon tank is a viable choice. A 10-gallon tank is easily portable, user-friendly, and inexpensive. 

Sometimes people buy a small tank but want to stock many fishes or large fishes unsuitable for the tank size. So, before stocking, all you need, to do some homework and find the ‘best fish for 10-gallon tank‘. A decent fish combination & quantity can keep you free of tension about your fish’s well-being.

Factors in a selection of the best fish for a 10-gallon Tank

Picking the best fish for a 10-gallon tank is not a hard job, though you need to consider a few crucial factors. 

Size of the adult Fish: 

Many fishes sold in the pet store at a small size, but as an adult, they may reach a size which is no longer suitable for a 10-gallon tank. So, always check the length of the adult. 

Care requirement: 

As a beginner, you should select easy-care fish for a 10-gallon tank. Fish those are hardy, can resist a broad range of water condition and doesn’t need special type care is the best choice. 

How many fish: 

The common question is, in a 10-gallon tank, how many fish can you put? Few experts follow a thumb rule, one-inch size fish per one gallon. Over time, when you are skilled enough, you can add as many as two one-inch size fish per one gallon. So, you can start with ten fish and can stock a maximum of 20 fishes over time. If you want to keep large fishes, obviously you need to cut the number.

Fish Temperament: 

Fish temperament is another essential factor while choosing. Fin nippers can’t stay with fishes that have large fin. Aggressive fish that bothers other peaceful fish should not put in together. Also, some fish doesn’t like its same-sex counterpart. So a careful selection of the fishes based on temperament is necessary to make a good community in your aquarium.

Best Fish for 10 Gallon Tank

In the list of best fish for a 10-gallon tank, we added some schooling fish, they swim in the same direction, and they stay well in a group of six or more. Also, we have chosen some centerpiece fish like Bettas, Gourami. Though they are a bit aggressive, you can put them together with schooling fish on this list. We also added bottom feeder fish to lower the cleaning job frequency for you.

Here, we outlined the best eight fishes for a 10-gallon tank to guide you on this lovely journey.


Guppies are one of the widespread freshwater aquarium fishes. They are tons of bright colors, ornamental fins, very active, and a beginner’s friendly fish. They can pass through a lot of mistakes that beginners make since they are super hardy and super easy to keep. The ideal temperature for guppies is 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Guppies are very much compatible, and they will not bother any other fishes. Select suitable mates that won’t strain guppies. As mates, find community types peaceful fishes and stay away from fin nippers.

You can make a species-only tank with nothing but only 5 to 10 guppies. And, still, you can make your aquarium attractive, since they are of so many varieties and color. Yet, it is good to have some bottom dwellers to clean the mess. Guppies occupy the top third of the water usually.

If you make a breeding tank, the ratio of 3 females to 1 male is a good start. Because males can take care of a lot more females, and Guppies are fast breeders! They are livebearer and will give birth to fully formed baby guppies.

Guppies can grow a maximum of 2.4 inches long. They are omnivorous, but you need to feed proper size food for this tiny little creature. 

The most common disease for guppies is ich (white spot), which is easily preventable with a heater. Because it’s a tropical fish and they like the water a bit warmer side.

Betta Fish

You would like to have a centerpiece fish for a 10-gallon tank, here is the one, the Bettas. Flashy color, dazzling scales, and decorous fins make the Betta is one of the most eye-catching fish for aquarists.

Bettas are tough fish, and they can survive in water with lower oxygen levels, thanks to the “labyrinth organ”, which lets them take gulps of air from the surface. They love to hover around near the top of the water.

Betta fish is well known for fierce fighting because of its territorial nature. This aggressive fish for a 10-gallon tank is picked because you can keep it carefully with other fish. First, don’t put Bettas with Bettas and avoid aggressive fin nipper fish. Bettas can feel stressed sharing a tank with rivals.

The bigger the tank is better for Bettas, with small tanks, they can attack other species.  In your 10-gallon aquarium, you can put only one Betta fish with other nonviolent mates. Guppies, neon tetras, and scavenger fish cory catfish are the best mate for Bettas.

Bettas prefer water temperature maintained between 75 to 82 degrees. Therefore, Bettas should never be kept in a tank with Goldfish, who require colder water to be comfortable.

Bettas are carnivorous animals who, in nature, eat mostly insects and insect larvae. In captivity, feed your Betta fish pellets, or frozen foods.

The average length of Bettas is 2.25 inches, and it can grow as long as 3 inches depends on the care it gets. Betta is one of the biggest fishes for a 10-gallon tank that you can keep comfortably with other schooling fish.

Cory Catfish (Corydoras)

Cory catfish are the best beginner catfish, effortless to keep and an entertaining one. They are bottom-dweller & will care for you by working as a scavenger in the tank. They love hiding places to rest, so provide some live plants, reefs, and rocks to make them happy.

Cory Catfish can grow 1 to 2.5 inches in length. They are schooling fish, and they seem much happier in a group of two or more; moreover, they can get along well with other species.

Since Corry Catfish is bottom dweller, rely on foods that fall to the lowermost region. Floating food may never reach them; therefore, you can add some sinking food for proper nutrition.

They are well suited to tropical freshwater; however, they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, including cooler than tropical. The optimum temperature is 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similar to other catfish, they can breathe oxygen from the atmosphere. In the tank, intermittently, Corry Catfish will move to the surface to take a “breath” of air, and this is entirely normal behavior.


Another most common, amazing aquarium fish is Platy. They are straightforward to keep and hardy fish, originally from Central America.

There are many different color variations of Platy fish like a blue tuxedo, top cell rainbow, golden sunset, red, black, blue, yellow, etc. and the list is endless.

Platies are so adaptable, and when it comes to temperature, they can tolerate 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s a vast range in that tropical Zone.

The great part is, you can keep them solo or in a group. They are peaceful and can co-habitat with other fish. Small nonviolent fish is the perfect tank companions, such as Mollies, Guppies, or Tetras. Platy will have a difficult time with aggressive fish like Bettas, Chiclid, etc.

You can also breed them, keep female to male ratio in 2:1. They’re livebearers, which means females deliver live babies who start to breathe in no time.

The platy grows to a maximum overall length of 2.8 inches. Three or four platy can live comfortably in a 10-gallon tank.

They considered as omnivorous eater but preferred herbivores. The best diet for them is the ideal mixture of protein and vegetables. Flakes and pallet foods available in the pet store would be sufficient enough for their nutrition.

The most common disease of platy is ich and fin rot. Ich is preventable by using an aquarium heater and keeping warm temperatures. For fin rot, antibiotics should be applied. The best way to prevent those is to maintain good water quality and a healthy diet.  

Honey Gourami

This one is another centerpiece fish for a 10-gallon tank, Honey Gourami. It can reach a length of 2.8-inch maximum, and we recommend only one in the tank.

Male and females are distinguishable through colors. Male has a red-orange variety known as sunset or robin red, and a lighter variety called gold, while females are mostly silvery-blue.

Honey gouramis are generally peaceful and shy fish, but males can either be hostile to other male counterparts. They’re well-matched with most docile fish, such as Platy, Molly, Catfish, and Tetra, etc. Gouramis are labyrinth fish and usually found swimming in the middle or top regions of the aquarium.

Although they are labyrinth fish and this allows the fish to survive in oxygen-depleted water. However, it doesn’t eliminate the water changing requirements since they are prone to a disease called Velvet if water quality fails. In a well-maintained tank, it is pretty rare to catch a disease.

They are tropical origin, mostly in India and Bangladesh, they like the water temperature maintained between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Honey gouramis are omnivorous, these fish will generally eat all kinds of pallet and flake foods, but they can also eat live fries or insects.

Sailfin Molly

Molly is the unique fish species in the world. They are typically known for giving birth to their offspring rather than laying eggs like other species.

These stunning livebearers are small and peaceful species. A beginner can easily keep the fish species since they are easy to care for.

The most beautiful thing is that these creatures can survive both in freshwater and saltwater. The bodies of these species tend to adjust faster, depending on the prevailing conditions.

Besides that, the ideal conditions for the fish species are warm water between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The water pH should range from 7.0 to 7.8

Another important feature is that these fishes are mid-level swimmers. Hence, it is advisable to keep them in densely planted aquariums with proper illumination.

One of my favorite features is growth length and vibrant colors. These species grow to about 3 to 4 inches, and they make your aquarium look spectacular.

Furthermore, mollies are omnivorous. They have a diet that comprises both plants and animal foods.

One of the nicest features is that these species are non-aggressive, making them compatible with other aquarium fish.

To sum up, the species of fish is highly prone to fin rot and swim bladder diseases. Most of these diseases are due to bacterial infection, and the user can treat them with antibiotics.

Celestial Pearl Danios

Another easy-care schooling fish is Celestial Pearl Danios; they are shy, peaceful, and don’t like a strong current. They don’t grow much, only to about 1 inch long.

They are sexually dimorphic in color, and males are more beautiful than females. Males have a bright blue background color compared to the dull grayish-brown color in females. Lustrous golden pearls sprinkled all over the body and fins are made of orange and black combination.

Since they are shy, they would like to a densely planted tank for hiding. Keep a school of six or more, and you will observe more of a shoaling behavior. It means they swim independently, but they always stay connected, forming a social group.

Celestial Pearl Danios usually occupy the middle and bottom strata of the water. Sinking food is a good option for them to feed, but they won’t mind with floating pallet, just make sure the food size is tiny enough.

They are pretty flexible with the water conditions, and the ideal temperature should be 73 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have the plan to make a species only tank, right stocking should be 10 Celestial Pearl Danios in your 10-gallon tank.

Celestial Pearl Danios stays well with other non-hostile community fish like neon tetra, corydoras, etc.  Overall, they are quite peaceful, though some fin-nipping occurs. Their dynamic nature and behavioral pattern can bring perfect contrast in your aquarium. 

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra is the most popular aquarium fish among the hobbyist, and this list will be incomplete without mentioning them. They are schooling fish and best kept in a group of six or more.

They have bright blue and red stripes on the body, with light-blue back and silver-white abdomen. The most fantastic part of Neon Tetra is, it changes color! While it rests at night, blue or red colors become gray or black and reactivates again when it becomes active in the morning.

As mentioned before, they are resilient, and they can live in a water temperature range of 70-81 degrees Fahrenheit and pH of 6-7.5. They reach 1.4 inches in their lifespan. Due to their small size, keeping them with large or violent fish should be avoided. They mix well with Guppies, Danios, and other peaceful community fish.

Neon Tetras are very energetic; in contrast to that, they are also very clam. They love to stay in the middle part of the water and enjoy swimming plants. So, if possible, try adding some live plants to play around.

Neon tetras will accept micro pellets and most flake foods. Since they are mid-level feeders, a tropical sinking pellet is ideal, and to add variety to the diet, you may offer some frozen food as well.

They occasionally affected by the so-called “Neon Tetra Diseases” and are mostly not curable. It happens because of some parasites, removal of the diseased fish is somewhat the best treatment to preserve the others. But, this disease is rare in a healthy and balanced aquarium.

Accessories for a 10–gallon tank

If you want to keep your aquarium vigorous and stable, some appliances are necessary as well. Here, we added the three most essential accessories for your aquarium.

Aquarium Heater: 

With an aquarium heater, you have a steady temperature in your tank, which is ideal for your fish. It ensures that the water doesn’t get too cold and make sure the fishes don’t have hard times. A heater is necessary for the comfort of your fishes and to prevent some common diseases like ich (white spot) as well.

Aquarium Filter: 

The aquarium filter will reduce the frequency of water change. Because it sucks the water and passes through some filter media like a sponge, foam, ceramic rings, etc. and after that returns the clean water. For the 10-gallon tank, choose an aquarium filter with a turnover of 40 to 60 gallons per hour. Routine cleaning of the filter also needs to be included in your maintenance list.

Air Pump: 

Air pump oxygenates the water, and it bubbles the air through water. It ensures adequate oxygen concentration level in the tank. Although, if you can maintain enough water movement and surface agitation with an aquarium filter, you need not buy an air pump.

Tips for Setting up your 10-gallon tank

Cycle the water: 

We know after buying the aquarium you can’t wait but to see your fishes swimming through the water. However, if you can restrain from doing so, right after your buying, it would be helpful for your fishes to find an ideal home to live in.  

Because cycling the water in your aquarium will be beneficial, and that will prevent any unwanted death of your fishes. Buy some beneficial bacteria from the local fish store, or take some mature filter media or substrate from a cycled aquarium. Then add them to your new aquarium, which helps to establish good nitrifying bacteria in the tank. 

Change the water: 

Although you may have a filter for your tank, it is mandatory to change the water routinely in your tank. Water changing depends on the quality of the water. 50% of water change every two weeks is suggested, which will replenish the dissolved oxygen in your aquarium and will keep your fish disease-free.

Check the water parameters:

Checking your water parameters is a smart thing to do. By doing that, you can get a quick understanding of the water quality and take action accordingly. Ammonia, nitrite, and pH test kit is very useful, while your aquarium is established. Use those kits to check the water quality at least once a week.

Establish a good community:

Establishing a good fish combos for 10-gallon tank not only increases the bio-diversity, but it also assists in maintaining a healthy aquarium. Add fishes in a way so that they occupy all three layers (top, middle, and bottom) of water.

It provides maximum swimming space for the fishes. Also, if you keep bottom-dweller fishes, it helps by preventing food decays and eliminates the threat of ammonia formation.  

Don’t overstock: 

Why shouldn’t you overstock a tank? Because Overstocking is one of the significant issues of fish loss.

Overstocking reduces dissolved oxygen level, with too many fishes there might not be enough oxygen to breathe in. An air pump may help, but still, there is a limit.

Also, pollutants develop more quickly, which can lead to ammonia and nitrite formation. In that case, you may need to change the water very frequently. A larger size aquarium filter may reduce the frequency of water change, but if your fish doesn’t get enough space to swim, they will be stressed. 

Don’t overfeed:

Overfeeding escalates the waste accumulation, because of uneaten food and an increased amount of waste production by the fish after eating the extra.

If wastes are not cleaned correctly and if they start to break down, it contributes to high ammonia and nitrites level, reduces dissolved oxygen, lowers pH level & raises the tendency of algal bloom in the tank. All of those are not good for your fish wellbeing. 

How often should you feed your fish? You may feed your fish on a routine basis, two or three times a day, and always provide the amount of food that they can finish within 2-3 minutes.

Cleaning of the aquarium: 

Cleaning the aquarium is one of the vital parts of a maintenance job. Routine water change and filtration are not enough to keep your tank clean. You need to wash gravel or sand, scrap off the algae from glass and decors to keep the tank in good shape. It depends on the number of dirt materials gathered in the tank.

Final Words

The best fish for a 10-gallon tank should be hardy, easy to care, and adaptable enough to suit in different water conditions. The fish selection is the most crucial part of setting up a 10-gallon tank. You can’t randomly put them, but a careful mixture is mandatory. 

We don’t tell you to keep all of the fishes listed in this article. The purpose is to let you will know about them, and after that, you may able to choose the best fish combos for your 10-gallon tank.

As a beginner, it is very typical to make some blunders while keeping the fish. Sometimes you may find dying fish, which can cause heartache, but don’t be discouraged, try to understand your mistakes and learn from them.

In this way, you may develop your skill as an aquarist; after that, you may need not to search the best fish for 10-gallon tank, you can keep any fish that you like. Moreover, you can go for a larger size, like a 20-gallon tank with confidence.

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Sujit Modak Aquarium Tales Owner
Sujit Modak

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my aquarium blog. Fishkeeping is my passion, and I started this fascinating hobby back in 2006. Besides my engineering profession, I deeply studied many fishkeeping topics since I started building my home aquarium. I researched effective aquarium filtration and lighting of planted aquariums. I am keeping 20+ species of freshwater and saltwater fish as my aquatic pet collection. I successfully experimented with a complex ecosystem inside the aquarium, biotope aquariums, aquaponics, etc. I would love to share some learnings from my hands-on experience of the last 14 years. Hopefully, my sharing will be somewhat helpful to make your aquarium journey awesome! 

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