What will be your initial thoughts on the aquarium size if you plan to start a new fishkeeping hobby? Very naturally, most beginners won’t prefer a vast aquarium, to begin 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 10-gallon tank but want to stock many fishes or large fishes unsuitable for the tank size.
Before stocking, all you need is 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 wellbeing.
Factors in 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.
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? There are some rules to follow as a rough estimate. First, the “one inch per gallon” rule, meaning in a 10-gallon tank total length of fish should not exceed 10 inches.
Another one is the “surface area rule” that suggests stocking one-inch fish for every 12 square inches. But those are all generic; you need to be specific because every setup is different. In addition, those rules don’t consider many other essential factors.
Stocking quantity varies on fish types, shapes, behaviors, how much waste they produce, their adult size, and many others considerations. In addition, your filtration matters a lot; also, if you have a planted 10-gallon aquarium, you can stock more fish than a simple freshwater aquarium because plants work as an added filter.
Ensure you always consider the fish’s adult size and true water volume (excluding substrates, decors, rocks, etc. ). Please read my article on how many fish per gallon – the ultimate guide if you want to know in detail.
Fish temperament is another essential factor while choosing. Fin nippers can’t stay with fishes that have large fins. Aggressive fish that bothers other peaceful fish should not be put 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 nine 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 many 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. So select suitable mates that won’t strain guppies. As mates, find community types of 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 colors. Yet, it is good to have some bottom dwellers who clean the mess. Guppies occupy the top third of the water usually.
If you make a breeding tank, the 3 females to 1 male ratio is a good start. Because males can take care of a lot more females, and Guppies are fast breeders! They are livebearers 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), easily preventable with a heater. Because it’s a tropical fish and they like the water a bit warmer side.
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. As a result, 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 because, in 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 primarily 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 giant fishes for a 10-gallon tank that you can keep with other schooling fish (though it is a little tricky.)
Know more about Betta: Betta Fish Care Guide (How To Care For A Betta Fish For Beginners)
3) Cory Catfish (Corydoras)
Cory catfish are the best beginner catfish, effortless to keep, and they are really entertaining. 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 the bottom dweller, it relies 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. So, in the tank, intermittently, Corry Catfish will move to the surface to take a “breath” of air, which 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 platyfish like a blue tuxedo, top cell rainbow, golden sunset, red, black, blue, yellow, etc., and the list is endless.
Platies are so adaptable, and they can tolerate 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit when it comes to temperature. So 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 the 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. Thus, three or four platy can live comfortably in a 10-gallon tank.
They are considered omnivorous eaters 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.
5) 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, Tetra, etc. Gouramis are labyrinth fish and are 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 Velvet’s disease if water quality fails. However, in a well-maintained tank, it is pretty rare to catch a disease.
They are of tropical origin, mostly in India and Bangladesh, and 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.
6) 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 fish species’ ideal conditions are warm water between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The water pH should range from 7.0 to 7.8
Another vital 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 infections, and the user can treat them with antibiotics.
7) Celestial Pearl Danio
Another easy-care schooling fish is Celestial Pearl Danios; they are shy, peaceful, and don’t like a strong current. Fortunately, they don’t grow much, only 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 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 a floating pallet; make sure the food is tiny enough.
They are pretty flexible with the water conditions, and the ideal temperature should be 73 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plan to make a species-only tank, the 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 to your aquarium.
8) 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 are best kept in a group of six or more.
They have bright blue and red stripes on the body, with a light-blue back and silver-white abdomen. But, 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 reactivate 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 calm. 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 with.
Neon tetras will accept micro pellets and most flake foods. However, 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 are 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.
9) Zebra Danios
Zebra Danios is one of the first bunch of fishes I kept during my early days of fishkeeping. They are one of the best beginners fish and easy to maintain. The tiny little creature is hardy and can tolerate adverse conditions.
They are pretty looking fish, available in different colors; red, yellow, blue, purple, etc. Five zebra pattern stripes are visible along their body, and the stripe’s color differs according to the fish body color.
They are community fish, peaceful in nature, and love schooling. I’ll suggest keeping them in a group of six or more because, in a large group, their behaviors change drastically in a positive way. They become more active and happy.
Zebra Danios are compatible with most peaceful community fish like Tetras, Mollies, Platies, and bottom feeder fish. However, they show a bit of fin-nipping tendency towards long-finned lazy fish.
They don’t grow much; in the aquarium conditions, they hardly exceed two inches. However, they can survive in a different situation and are adaptable to changes. The ideal pH is 6.5 to 7.5.
They prefer a warmer temperature; you can keep them in a temperature range of 65-80°F. At relatively lower temperatures, they are susceptible to fungus and bacterial diseases. Learn more about zebra danios here.
What Else Can You Add In A 10-Gallon Tank?
Besides the above-described fish, you can add some other living beings to your 10-gallon tank, and they will become fantastic aquatic pets for you.
Amano shrimp is one of the most popular freshwater shrimp in the aquarium hobby. As a beginner, you can keep them in your 10-gallon tank as they are excellent algae-eaters.
Amano shrimp are very hardy and the perfect choice to be the first invertebrates of beginners. They are small species and grow up to 2 inches. In appearance – they have a greyish transparent body.
Females are larger than males, having long dashes on their bodies, while males have evenly spaced-out dots. So in a 10-gallon tank, you can keep five of them comfortably.
Amano shrimps are hardy and tolerate a wide range of water conditions. A pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 works well for them. However, you should provide lots of hiding places in the tank to provide them comfort.
You can keep Nerite Snails in your 10-gallon tank. They are one of the most popular freshwater snails these days and are known as excellent tank cleaners. They are tiny species that hardly reach 3/4 inches in size.
Several species of nerite snails are popular as pet snails, and all are algae eaters. Zebra Nerite Snail, Tiger Nerite Snail, Olive Nerite Snail, Black Racer Nerite Snail, Horned Nerite Snail, etc., are well-known names.
Nerite snail care is effortless and straightforward as they are hardy species. They are okay with a wide range of water conditions. They prefer slightly alkaline water of pH around 7.5.
Copper-based medication and supplementation can be fatal for snails – you should keep it in mind when keeping snails in your aquarium. They thrive in any aquarium, so be careful of overstocking. (Read my article – How To Get Rid Of Snails In Aquariums)
African Dwarf Frog
African dwarf frog – yes, keeping them in your 10-gallon aquarium is a unique idea, and you can give it a try. These frogs are small creatures and grow up to three inches in size.
African dwarf frogs are aquatic frog species, and they have lungs so that they can breathe air. You can keep three frogs in your 10-gallon tank with other community fish. But be careful – your frog can eat tiny fish when they are hungry; feed them well, they will remain peaceful.
Feeding your African dwarf frog is no hassle, as they eat pellet foods you would provide to your small fish. But they are slow-eaters, so make sure they are not out-competed by their tankmates.
For 10-gallon tank combination ideas, you can see this video:
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.
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 makes sure the fish don’t have hard times. A heater is necessary for your fishes’ comfort, and it prevents some common diseases like ich (white spot) as well. I was hoping you could read my review article on the best heater for a 10-gallon tank.
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.
Related topic: Best 10-gallon aquarium filter (A buying guide)
The air pump oxygenates the water, and it bubbles the air through water. Thus, it ensures an 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 Tank:
We know after buying the aquarium you can’t wait but to see your fishes swimming through the water. If you can restrain right after your buying, it would help your fishes 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 fish. 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, changing the water routinely in your tank is mandatory. Water changing depends on the quality of the water. However, 25% of water change every two weeks is suggested, which will replenish the dissolved oxygen in your aquarium and 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 are 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 good fish combos for a 10-gallon tank increases the bio-diversity and assists in maintaining a healthy aquarium. Add fishes so that they occupy all three layers (top, middle, and bottom) of water.
It provides maximum swimming space for the fish. Also, if you keep bottom-dweller fishes, it helps prevent food decay and eliminate the threat of ammonia formation.
Why shouldn’t you overstock a tank? Because Overstocking is one of the significant issues of fish loss & it’s considered mistake no#07, out of our list of 25 common fishkeeping mistakes.
Overstocking reduces dissolved oxygen levels. 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 aquarium filter may reduce water change frequency, but if your fish doesn’t get enough space to swim, they will be stressed.
Overfeeding escalates the waste accumulation because of uneaten food and increased waste production by the fish after eating the extra.
If waste is not cleaned correctly and starts to break down, it contributes to high ammonia and nitrites levels, reduces dissolved oxygen, lowers pH level, & raises the tendency of algal bloom in the tank. All of those are not good for your fish’s 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 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.
The best fish for a 10-gallon tank should be hardy, easy to care for, and adaptable enough to suit 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 know about them, and after that, you may 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 search for 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.