Choosing the best fish for 10 gallon tank in 2023

As an aquarist, I know firsthand that most beginners like to choose a small aquarium (such as a 10-gallon tank) for a new hobby. But choosing the best fish for 10 gallon tank, for example, is also confusing for most.

If this is your first time keeping an aquarium, it’s probably better to start out with a smaller tank or just one type of critter. Setting up a smaller aquarium first will be less terrifying than a larger one and will give you a sense of what’s involved in aquarium care and upkeep. In this article, I will try to give an overview of a small aquarium and explain how to choose the best fish for a 10 gallon tank.

Do you think a 10-gallon tank is adequate for a newbie aquarist? According to some, this is a terrible plan. The average fish needs at least a 20-gallon tank, and most can’t even swim in a 10-gallon tank. Now, however, I will offer my thoughts on the subject; perhaps they will prove useful to you. And of course, as in the title, I will assist you in choosing the best fish for a 10 gallon tank.

Here are a few things to think about when choosing a small aquarium.

Setting up an aquaponics system is something I enjoy doing because I find the process challenging and rewarding. I wrote this article to save you time and help you avoid making a lot of mistakes when you first start raising fish in a small tank.

Is the Inch-Per-Gallon rule true for small aquariums?

There is a common myth in the aquarist world about the “one inch per gallon rule,” which simplifies aquarium stocking calculations. Based on tank size, it recommends one inch of adult fish per gallon.

However, a number of factors, such as the size and species of fish, the quality of the water, and the amount of filtration and aeration the tank receives, can determine the actual number of fish that an aquarium can maintain, so it is crucial to remember that this rule is not always true.

10-gallon tank huge or small?

A standard fish tank is 10 gallons, 20 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 12 inches tall. Your tank’s dimensions might very well differ. It’s generally agreed that a 10-gallon tank falls in between the two extremes of small and medium. Depending on the species’ size and needs, it can house a small school of fish or only one kind of fish.

It is essential to give careful consideration to the stocking density of your tank, which refers to the quantity and size of fish that you will be able to keep in the tank without it being overcrowded. Fish that are overcrowded in an aquarium are more likely to suffer from stress and illness.

Besides the fish’s dietary and social needs, the aquarium’s filtration system and other equipment should be taken into account. Depending on how planted your aquarium is, hiding places, filtration, flow, biofiltration, and what else you have or desire, etc. There are too many ifs and buts to say exactly how many can fit in a given tank.

Choosing nano fish for small tank

A nano fish is a small fish that can live in an aquarium that’s 10 gallons or smaller. There are many nano fish that can live in a small tank, and the best fish for 10 gallon tank will depend on your preferences and how the tank is set up.

Nano fish have special requirements in terms of tank size, water chemistry, and other conditions, so keep those in mind when shopping. A few things to think about are:

  • Size: Choose fish that won’t get too big for your aquarium as they get older and stay small as juveniles.
  • Behavior: Choose fish that are compatible with one another in personality and behavior. Do not put fishes that are aggressive or competitive in with others that are more timid or peaceful.
  • Water needs: Think about the pH, temperature, and hardness of the water that the fish you’re interested in likes, and make sure that your tank is set up to meet these needs.
  • Diet: Choose fish that are easy to feed and that will accept a wide array of foods. Avoid domesticated species that normally need specialized dietary requirements in small aquariums.

Researching the individual requirements of your target fish is a smart move before settling on a plan. That should make it less of a hassle to accommodate them.

Best Fish For 10 Gallon Tank

Whew! After days of staring at my 10-gallon tank and doing some rigorous googling, I’ve narrowed down the list of fish fit to live in it!

The basic list: best fish for 10 gallon tank

These fish will not get too big when they grow up, be easy to take care of, and need water temperatures somewhere around 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (a temperature range that beginners can easily handle).

Let’s pick the first five essential fish species for any small aquarium. Betta fish, Neon tetras, Guppies, Endler’s livebearers, and Cherry barbs are all popular freshwater aquarium fish.

Each of these species has unique characteristics that make them popular among hobbyists. Betta fish are known for their colorful fins and patterns, while Neon tetras have a shimmering iridescent blue coloration. Guppies come in a wide variety of colors including blues, reds, yellows, and greens. Endler’s Livebearers are small peaceful fish with bright colorations and an active swimming style. Lastly, Cherry Barbs are eye-catching schooling fish with a bright red body and black stripes along the sides.

Neon Tetra

The neon tetra

* refers to the typical behavior that a fish exhibits in a community with other fish. Source: Temperament

Fish Species Profile

The neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is a small, colorful fish native to South American rivers and streams. Because of their tiny size, vibrant coloration, and ease of care, they are popular aquarium fish.

Temperament*: Peaceful

Grown-up size: upto 1 inch

Usual lifespan: 10 years or longer

Diet: small insects, earthworms, and plant matter.

Level of care: Easy

The neon tetra’s upper halves are where most of the fish’s distinctive coloration can be seen, though the fish’s lower halves also feature some bright patterns. The blue stripe extends all the way from the head to the tail, while the red one is closer to the latter. The neon tetra is a strikingly beautiful fish thanks to its unique color scheme.

The neon tetra deserves to be one of the best fish for 10 gallon tank because of its iridescent, see-through body in addition to its brightly colored stripes. They’re little, pretty fish that look like precious jewels.

Bettas

Fish Species Profile

Betta fish are popular pets because of their bright colors. Betta fish can have patterns and be red, blue, green, purple, or yellow.

Betta fish are known for their long, colorful fins. Betta fish can have short, rounded fins or long, flowing fins almost half their length. Betta fish with “crowns” of long, flowing fins look royal.

Temperament: Aggressive (Males alone)

Grown-up size: upto 3 inch

Usual lifespan: 2-5 years

Diet: plant-based foods like algae wafers or blanched vegetable, brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

Level of care: Moderate

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are small and can thus fit in small aquariums. They are accustomed to living in rice paddies and ponds. Bettas can survive in a variety of water conditions, making them ideal for small tanks with fluctuating conditions. Therefore, they are the first choice you should think of if you need the best fish for a 10 gallon tank.

Bettas, on the other hand, require space and enrichment to thrive. Although Bettas can live in a small tank, it is strongly advised that they be housed in a tank at least 2.5 gallons in size. If you keep two males in a small tank they tend to fight violently. It is best to keep the males alone.

Maintain water quality and feed your betta a varied diet to keep it healthy. However, Betta fish have small stomachs and cannot eat much at once. Overfeeding your bettas can cause obesity and other health issues, so monitor and adjust their diet. Bettas should be fed several small meals a day, not one large one.

Guppies

Fish Species Profile

Guppies are a type of small, brightly colored fish found naturally only in South America. The variety of colors and patterns they come in, combined with their ease of care, make them a favorite among aquarists.

Temperament: Peaceful

Grown-up size: upto 3 inch

Usual lifespan: around 2 years

Diet: Omnivorous, live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

Level of care: Easy

Guppies are peaceful fish that thrive in community tanks when kept with similarly sized and peaceful tankmates. They prefer a tank with at least 10 gallons of water and plenty of hiding places and swimming space. 

If you’re an aquarist looking for a hardy, colorful fish that doesn’t require much attention, guppies are a great option. They are omnivorous and require a varied diet that includes high-quality flake or pellet food as well as live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Instead of a single large feeding, they should be fed small amounts several times a day.

Endler’s livebearers

Fish Species Profile

Endler’s livebearers are a species of small, brightly colored fish found only in Venezuela. They share a close genetic relationship with guppies and are frequently confused for them because of their similar appearance and behavior.

Temperament: Peaceful

Grown-up size: upto 3 inch

Usual lifespan: around 4 years

Diet: Omnivorous, live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

Level of care: Easy

Endler’s livebearers, just like Guppies, are hardy omnivores that thrive in small aquariums. A 10 gallon tank can comfortably house this fish, then they can enjoy having lots of places to hide as well as room to swim. On the list of the best fish for 10 gallon tanks, which I will provide as a recommendation to beginners, this is definitively one of the essential options.

Endler’s livebearers are also known for their ability to breed easily in an home aquarium. Only single-sex specimens should be kept to avoid unwanted reproduction.

Cherry barb

Fish Species Profile

Small and tranquil, the cherry barb is endemic to Sri Lanka. Their striking red color and low maintenance requirements make them a top pick among aquarium keepers. They thrive in groups of at least six because they are schooling fish.

Temperament: Peaceful

Grown-up size: upto 2.5 inch

Usual lifespan: around 5 years

Diet: Omnivorous, live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

Level of care: Easy

Cherry barbs are docile fish that can coexist with a wide variety of tankmates so long as those tankmates are of a similar size and do not exhibit aggressive tendencies. They do not belong in a tank with larger fish that are more likely to be aggressive.

The male cherry barbs are the most strikingly colored of the species. Females tend to be less garishly colored than males, with muted oranges and yellows being the norm. There is a black stripe that runs the length of the body of both males and females.

The extended list: 20 posible best fish for 10 gallon tank

So, without further ado, talk about 20 more species of fish that you most likely have never encountered before. It’s gonna be a blast, so let’s get started.

Here are 20 more fish that could potentially be suitable for a 10-gallon tank:

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin rasbora
TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size1.75 inches
Usual lifespan6 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careIntermediate

A native of Southeast Asia, the Harlequin rasbora is also referred to by its other name, the Red rasbora. I recommend the Harlequin Rasbora because it has an attractive metallic appearance, requires little maintenance, and is also suitable for community tanks.


TemperamentSemi-aggressive
Grown-up size3 inches
Usual lifespan5-8 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careIntermediate

Dwarf gouramis are small tropical fish that live in South and Southeast Asia’s freshwater rivers and streams. They are often kept in small aquariums because they are peaceful and have bright colors.

A 10-gallon tank is ideal for a Dwarf gourami. Keeping multiple dwarf gouramis or other fish in the same tank requires a larger tank.

Dwarf Gourami


Platy

TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size2-3 inches
Usual lifespan2-5 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

Platies are small, colorful Central American tropical fish. Due to their hardiness and adaptability, aquariums favor them. Platies have triangular bodies and long, flowing fins and come in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.


TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size6 inches
Usual lifespan5 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

Swordtails are indigenous to the regions of Central and South America. They are a favorite among aquarium hobbyists due to their vibrant appearance and the low level of care and attention they require. Their lower caudal fins have an extension that is elongated and shaped like a sword, hence their name (tail).

They thrive in groups but can be kept alone. Male swordtails can be territorial during breeding season, but they are not aggressive.

Swordtail

An good fish for 10 gallon tank.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow

TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size2 inches
Usual lifespan5 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

China’s White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes) are freshwater fish. Peaceful and attractive, the White Cloud Mountain Minnows are silver with orange-red fins and a black spot on their caudal peduncle (the area just behind the anal fin).


TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size1 inches
Usual lifespan5 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

Small, peaceful South American ember tetras live in streams and tributaries. Their size and color make them popular for small tanks. As schooling fish, ember tetras thrive in groups of at least 6-8. They require a well-planted tank, hiding places, and a good filtration system.

The Ember Tetra is a great choice if you want a low-maintenance fish. Especially for those just starting out, this colorful species will brighten up any aquarium.

Ember Tetras


Brown Pencil Fish

TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size2.5 inches
Usual lifespan3-5 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

In addition to its good looks and calm personality, the brown pencil fish is a popular aquarium resident because it is relatively easy to care for. It is a brownish color with a few vertical black stripes. Among its natural prey are other fish and small crustaceans, the brown pencilfish is a carnivore. It’s suitable for a community tank, but only with docile fish of similar size; larger, more aggressive fish should be avoided.


TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size1 inches
Usual lifespan5 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

Killifish are small, brightly colored fish native to West Africa, and are notorious for dying young. The australe killifish is well-liked in aquariums due to its popular patterning and placid demeanor. Maximum length is about 2.5 inches; body color is blue or green; fins and tail are marked with bright red or orange. They are a jumper and prefer cooler temperatures, so keep your tank covered.

Australe Killifish


Kuhli Loach

Bottom-dwellers is one of the best fish for 10 gallon tank
TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size4-5 inches
Usual lifespan10 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

The serpentine kuhli loach is a popular aquarium fish. It is brown or black with white bands or spots and grows to 5 inches. The nocturnal kuhli loach is most active at night. Bottom-dwellers eat small insects, worms, and other invertebrates. Peaceful kuhli loaches are good for community tanks.

Kuhli Loach outlives smaller fish. Kuhli Loaches live about 10 years. This fish dies within months of purchase because most people can’t care for it. This fish needs clean, stable water. They also require large groups.


TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size3-4 inches
Usual lifespan5-10 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

African shell-dwelling cichlids are small fish that live in snail shells or other small spaces.

They dig pits all the time, so they’re called bulldozers because they rearrange things. They’re the perfect desktop aquarium fish and do well in a 10-gallon tank. They like harder water with a higher pH, so it is a trick that you have to feed them a lot.

Shell Dweller


Zebra Danio

TemperamentPeaceful
Grown-up size2.5 inches
Usual lifespan10 years
DietOmnivore
Level of careEasy

Zebra danios are tiny, multicolored fish that were first discovered in India and Bangladesh. It reaches a maximum size of 2.5 inches and has a slim, cylindrical body pattern of blue and white stripes.

The zebra danio swims quickly and is a good choice for a community aquarium. It is easy to care for as long as it is provided with a suitable environment and proper nutrition, and it is a peaceful species that is compatible with a wide range of other fish.


A Few More Great Choices

Other, less common options include the Green neon rasbora and the Gold white cloud (a striking color variation of the White Cloud Mountain Minnow). Lastly, you should still include an eye-catching, unique element that not everyone has, such as the Black Phantom tetra, Mystery snail, Buenos Aires tetra, Otocinclus catfish or Glowlight tetra, Panda corydoras, Leopard danio

Bottom line: guide for choosing the best fish for 10 gallon tank, step-by-step

So, What you should to do next is

Step by step: choosing best fish for 10 gallon tank

Finding The Right Centerpiece Fish For Your 10 Gallon Tank

What is centerpiece fish?

Aquarium centerpiece fish draw attention. These fish are usually larger and more colorful than the others in the tank and placed in a central location for viewing. Centerpiece fish are chosen for their striking appearance or interesting behavior. Angelfish, discus, and cichlids are centerpiece fish.

Consider the tank’s dimensions and design in addition to the fish’s size and temperament when making your centerpiece fish selection. Check the tank’s dimensions to make sure the fish has enough room to swim and check its compatibility with the other fish there.

Jim Coffey

Jim Coffey is an authoritative blogger specializing in Aquatic Life, Fish Diseases and Parasites, and Aquarium Setup. His insights and expertise offer valuable guidance to both novice and experienced aquarium enthusiasts.
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