If your space is limited, you might have to go for a small tank. If you only have room for a 10-gallon tank, then you might be limited in what species of fish to add to the aquarium.
That being said, it doesn’t mean you don’t have many choices. There is still a variety of fish for 10-gallon tanks. In this article, we’ve compiled a collection of small fish that can live happily in 1o-gallon aquariums.
Stocking a 10-gallon Freshwater Tank
While a 10-gallon aquarium is quite small relate to other fish tanks, there are numerous stocking options for you to choose from.
Due to the small size of a 10-gallon tank, it’s absolutely critical to research and understands how to care for each individual type of freshwater fish that will be living in the tank. Pollutants can easily increase if a small aquarium is overstocked or if you don’t change the water regularly.
There are several fish advisors who use the “rule of thumb”, which recommends one inch of fish per gallon of water. This is not a good rule to obey, as some species require more room. Always research the individual fish you want to raise, how compatible they are with other fish, and how many can be housed in a community aquarium.
Most of the following fish are schooling species, which should be raised in a species-only aquarium because of the small size of a 10-gallon tank.
Best Fish for 10-gallon Tanks
The fish mentioned below are perfect options for your 10-gallon aquarium. Bear in mind that when choosing how many to stock, ensure you consider the other fish you want to add to the tank.
Under proper conditions, most of these fish will live happily with each other, but there is no typical situation. If you overstock your aquarium, if it turns out two fish aren’t compatible, you may need a backup plan.
It’s obvious that all of these fish should not be in your aquarium together at the same time. Do research on the fish and choose to mix and match your stock.
1. Pygmy Corydoras
Pygmy Corydoras are suitable fish for 10-gallon tanks as they only grow up to 1 inch.
The fish come from South America and from more tropical settings. Hence, it’s necessary to keep them in more tropical water conditions, maintain the pH level neutral and a water temperature of around 71-79 degrees Fahrenheit.
These creatures do best in groups of 6 to 8. They need a sandy substrate and an aquarium full of hiding spots and vegetation. They love hiding, swimming and playing around the vegetation.
Despite being algae eaters, these fish are also omnivores. Ensure that you keep their diet as varied as possible and not only give them plant-based foods. They prefer eating frozen foods such as bloodworms, shrimp, and larva.
2. Betta Fish
Betta fish are very interesting, with large fins of different colors. They can live up to 3 years and grow up to 3 inches. That’s why Bettas are beautiful fish for 10-gallon tanks.
The fish are relatively peaceful if given the right conditions. However, if you house two betta male fish together, there will be conflicts, even fatal ones.
These creatures are in essence, carnivores, so they love consuming insects and larvae. It’s great that you balance their diet with a mixture of live food, frozen food, flakes and pellets.
3. Zebra Danio
Zebra Danios have been considered an aquarium staple for many years. Hardy, simple to feed, breed, and tolerant of different water conditions, these creatures are lovely fish for 10-gallon tanks.
As egg scatters, the fish should be provided with fine-leaved plants, such as Java Moss and Guppy Grass, so that their fry can stand a chance. Or else, they might eat their eggs soon after laying them.
Danios as a whole are excellent options for 10-gallon aquariums. Therefore, you can consider related species such as the Pearl, Leopard, and Celestial Pearl Danios.
Zebra Danios were the first species to be genetically engineered and brought into the hobby. These Glofish utilize jellyfish and coral DNA to fluoresce under ultraviolet light (blacklight).
Killifish have brilliant colors as the most stunning reef fish. However, they often have abnormal breeding habits and aren’t produced in huge numbers in the aquarium.
One of them, Blue Notho, is an annual spawner. In the natural environment, they live in seasonal pools that only stay wet for several months out of the year.
The killifish eggs hatch like seeds when the rains come, and the fry grows fast into adults within a month. They quickly spawn and then usually die when their pools dry up. Even in constantly flooded aquariums, they scarcely live longer than 2 years.
5. Dwarf Otocinclus
Plecos are often sold to beginners with 10-gallon aquariums who don’t know how big they will reach. Luckily, there is another fish for 10-gallon tanks, which consumes a lot of algae. It’s Dwarf Otocinclus
These fish rarely reach bigger than 1.5 inches. In the natural environment, they create shoals of hundreds of individuals, so you should never raise them alone because they can be shy.
Dwarf Otos are incredible algae eaters for planted tanks as they are gentle on plants with delicate leaves like Water Sprite or Cabomba. However, when algae seem to run out, you need to feed them sinking algae wafers or veggies.
Corydoras are some of the most amusing bottom-dwelling fish for 10-gallon tanks. Unlike other catfish, Corydoras are relatively active. They roll their eyes, chase each other, and dash to the surface in a burst of pique and speed.
Most of them are social, schooling fish, so pick smaller pieces and house them in groups of 3-6. Unlike Plecos, Corydoras are not a fan of algae and plants. Instead, you can provide the fish with standard prepared food alongside fresh and frozen foods like brine shrimp.
7. Cherry Barb
Cherry Barbs are some of the best-behaved fish for 10-gallon tanks. They have no fin nipping or territorial habits of aggressive fish species. These fish tend to be shy and need a lot of plants to hide.
Males have a spectacular ruby red that becomes more intense when combating one another for females. Luckily, their displays are mostly harmless and they can be housed together.
As omnivores, they consume plant matter. You can give them a mixture of animal and plant matter. Moreover, Cherry Barbs also accept prepared food, frozen treats, blanched vegetables, and spirulina flakes.
Platies are some of the most common livebearing fish species. They are far chunkier than their cousins, the Guppy but not as long as Swordtails. The medium size makes them suitable fish for 10-gallon tanks.
Platies usually don’t have the long finnage of Guppies, Swordtails, or Mollies. Nevertheless, they compensate for their sheer color variety.
They are hearty omnivores that will consume anything you give. Algae, soft plants, tiny inverts, and unluckily, their own fry, can be accepted.
If you are going to raise the fry, you should quarantine the female from the rest when her gravid spot becomes visible. After she lays 10-100 fry, you can keep them in breeder traps on baby brine shrimp until they are big enough to add to the community tank.
9. White Cloud Minnow
White Cloud Minnows are sometimes called the poor man of Neon Tetra. Though more subdued in color, they are still striking with a silvery iridescent stripe that catches the light.
Unlike Neons, these fish prefer things on the colder side as they hail from mountain streams in Vietnam and China. In fact, anything above 72 degrees Fahrenheit, typical tropical fish temperatures, makes them stressed. Instead, these fish prefer a water temperature of around 62-72 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 6.0-8.0.
As being egg scatters, Minnows should have fine-leaved plants because they can breed easily when kept cool.
10. Kuhli Loach
The majority of loaches are in the medium to large size, too large for 10-gallon aquariums. However, Kuhli Loaches are one of the smallest specimens worth a try.
Worm-like in shape, these fish love burrowing through the substrate to search for small inverts like blackworms or Tubifex. They should be raised in fine sand substrates because gravel can simply bruise their soft, scaleless flanks.
If you want your Kuhli Loaches to breed in captivity, you need to provide soft, acidic water and numerous plants so that they can scatter their eggs in.
11. Cardinal Tetra
Cardinals have a similar appearance to Neon Tetras. Nevertheless, they grow a bit larger and more susceptible to poor water quality, but still are the perfect fish for 10-gallon tanks.
Cardinal Tetras feature a bolder red stripe that runs all the way to their gills. As many are wild-caught, they want soft, even blackwater conditions with a pH of 4.0-6.0. Above pH 7.0, they might easily catch diseases, especially ich. The ideal water temperature varies from 78 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
As micro predators, you can feed them small frozen food such as bloodworms and brine shrimp with tiny pellets or crushed flakes.
12. Dwarf Gourami
Gouramis are a huge group of fish that are close cousins to Bettas. Though many are relatively large, Dwarf Gourami lives up to its name and is a good fish for 10-gallon tanks.
Maxing out at 2 inches, they have a few color morphs, including sunset and power blue. Males are likely more colorful than females.
As South Asian natives, they love the water temperature of 74-80 degrees Fahrenheit and soft, slightly acidic water chemistry.
It’s essential to stay on top of water changes with a 10-gallon aquarium, as ammonia levels and nitrites can build up fast.
Ensure you don’t overfeed your fish with fish food or overstock your aquarium; these things will negatively affect the water quality.
Always conduct your research, and don’t rely on the advice from the pet or fish store.