It can be tough to choose the best fish for a 10 gallon tank due to its small size. Moreover, many pet retailers sell species that are inappropriate for nano aquariums, making picking the right choice even harder.
With that in mind, whether your fish will thrive in a 10-gallon tank depends primarily on the species and number of residents. For example, a single betta fish is a good choice for a 10-gallon tank, but a single goldfish would be much too big for an aquarium this size. Therefore, it is essential to carefully select the inhabitants of your tank.
To help you choose the fish for your tank, we’ll talk about some of the best and worst species of fish you can put in a 10-gallon tank.
|Dwarf Pea Puffer||6.5-8.5||74-82°F||1.4″||4-5 Years|
|Rainbow Kribensis||5.0-8.0||72-79°F||3-4″||5 Years|
|Celestial Pearl Danio||6.6-7.5||72-78°F||0.8″||3-5 Years|
|Dwarf Gourami||6.0-7.5||72-82°F||2-3″||3-5 Years|
|Neon Tetra||4.0-7.5||72-78°F||1.5″||5-8 Years|
|Golden Dwarf Barb||5.5-7.0||68-77°F||2.5-3″||3-5 Years|
|White Cloud Mountain Minnow||6.0-8.0||64-72°F||1.5″||5-7 Years|
|Harlequin Rasbora||6.0-7.8||72-81°F||2″||5-8 Years|
|Zebra Danio||6.5-7.5||64-78°F||2″||3-5 Years|
|Sparking Gourami||6.0-7.0||76-82°F||1.5″||4-5 Years|
|Least Killifish||7.0-8.0||68-78°F||1.2″||3 Years|
|Pencil Fish||6.0-7.4||72-78°F||1.5″||5 Years|
|Crystal Tetras||6.0-7.5||72-79°F||1.5″||3-5 Years|
|Ember Tetra||6.0-7.0||73-84°F||0.8″||2-3 Years|
|Pygmy Corydoras||6.0-8.0||72-79°F||1″||3 Years|
|Common Corydoras||6.0-8.0||68-82°F||2.5″||10 Years|
|American Flagfish||7.0-8.0||64-72°F||2.4″||2-3 Years|
|Otocinclus Catfish||6.0-7.5||73-81°F||2″||5 Years|
|Ghost Shrimp||7.0-8.0||65-80°F||1.5″||1 Year|
|Cherry Shrimp||6.5-8.0||72-82°F||1.25″||1-2 Years|
|Amano Shrimp||6.0-7.5||65-85°F||2″||2-3 Years|
|Nerite Snails||7.0-8.0||72-78°F||0.75″||1-2 Years|
|Ramshorn Snails||7.0-8.0||70-80°F||1″||1 Year|
|Malaysian Trumpet Snail||7.0-8.0||70-79°F||1.5″||1 Year|
Best Centerpiece Fish For 10 Gallon Tanks
Making your own little or medium-sized “school of fish” in a fish tank is a lot of fun. When you bring in a prize fish to be the centerpiece of your aquarium, the experience takes on a whole new level of fun.
The ideal centerpiece fish would be one that sticks out in the tank, either in terms of size or color, but also gets along with the other inhabitants.
As a result of the limited space in a 10-gallon aquarium, it’s hard to find a lot of centrepiece fish to choose from.
In fact, when it comes to truly centrepiece fish to choose from, that are happy to live alone, there is only one choice.
Betta (Betta Splenden)
A staple amongst aquariums, bettas (Betta splendens) are available in a rainbow of brilliant hues and require little in the way of maintenance.
Bettas make great centerpiece fish for 10 gallon tanks, because they love being alone. Having a brightly colored betta in a 10 gallon tank, will truly draw anyone’s eye. However, in a 10 gallon tank, you could also keep them with some shrimp, or a small species of corydoras!
Just make sure there are no other similar-looking species in the tank (for example, fancy guppies, which have similar flowing fins, can often end up suffering).
Apart from betta’s though there are other options, but be warned, the often do better with other’s of their own kind.
You should also remember that bettas are carnivores, so their diet will need to consist mostly of high quality betta pellets as well as live, frozen and freeze dried food.
Dwarf Pea Puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus)
One of the few truly unique tropical fish species, the freshwater pea puffer. As aggressive little predators, they do best in a tank with only their own kind. And unlike a lot of other fish that need to be in schools pea puffers do just fine on their own.
While it is possible to keep freshwater pea puffer on their own in a 10 gallon tank, they are happier when they’re with their own kind, so try to keep 3 together if you can.
Rainbow Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher)
While rainbow kribs or Kribensis Cichlids do best in pairs, it is possible to also keep them alone in a 10 gallon tank. Even when they’re on their own they’re still going to be active in the tank which makes them great fish to keep alone!
If you don’t want to keep them completely alone, try adding species of larger shrimp to the tank like Amano shrimp.
What Are The Best Schooling Fish For 10 Gallon Tanks?
It’s hard to argue with the aesthetic value of a school of fish swimming gracefully through the aquarium’s water. So, if you want to stock your aquarium with schooling fish, you should familiarize yourself with the various species and their defining characteristics.
Schooling provides protection from predators for both juvenile and adult fish by increasing their numbers and the number of eyes watching the water. Finding food is also easier when there are more eyes looking for it. Then there’s the way water moves when people swim together. By taking turns in the lead, each fish can save energy by drafting behind the one in front of them.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the chances of a fish finding a mate and reproducing increase when they’re part of a large group. Also, for species that spread their eggs, a big school means that the eggs are more likely to be fertilized.
The best schooling fish for 10 gallon tanks are: white cloud mountain minnows, some tetras, harlequin rasboras, zebra danios, pencil fish, guppies, and least killifish. While not technically schooling fish, otocinclus catfish, some corydoras, and some gouramis also make great choices too.
Here’s a closer look at each!
Celestial Pearl Danios (Danio margaritatus)
The tranquil and low-maintenance Celestial Pearl Danios (Danio margaritatus) are popular aquarium fish for a 10 gallon tank because they only reach about 1″ in length. This gorgeous fish has a shiny blue body speckled with bright blue jewels and bright orange horizontal bands on its fins.
Dwarf Gouramis (Trichogaster lalius)
Dwarf Gourami’s are low-maintenance fish that doesn’t mind being in a community. Males are bright orangey red with blue vertical stripes, whereas females are silvery blue-gray with barely visible yellow stripes.
They do well with other mellow fish, and the tank doesn’t need to be isolated, although they are easily frightened by loud noises.
When putting dwarf gouramis in a 10 gallon tank choose a dark substrate to highlight their vibrant colors, and provide plenty of plants, especially floating plants. Apart from this, keeping 3 dwarf gouramis is key to their happiness.
Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi)
One of the most popular types of freshwater aquarium fish is the Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi). They are blue with a vivid red stripe through the middle of their bodies.
They like to have a lot of foliage to hide in, and if you add some rocks and driftwood, it will feel more like their natural habitat. Neon Tetras reach a maximum length of about 1.5″ and you can keep a school of 5-6 in a 10 gallon tank, anymore than that and they may become too crowded.
Golden Dwarf Barbs (Pethia gelius)
Although the Golden Dwarf Barb (Pethia gelius) is one of the lesser-known Barb species, its small size (1.8″) makes it a great freshwater fish for a 10-gallon tank. Just remember, they prefer to live in groups of five for their happiness
The typical hue of this fish is a deep golden yellow with black patterns and it will contrast well in a tank with a variety of floating plants and driftwood, which they love.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are great nano fish for 10 gallon tank and for people who are just starting out. Unlike most tropical species, they thrives in cooler climates. And the best part is you can keep them with coldwater fish, as well as tropical fish, depending on your choice!
One thing to note is that White Cloud Mountain Minnows do a lot better in 15 gallon tanks, however, 10 gallons are still suitable if you’re more experienced.
Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)
A school of these fish looks spectacular. Harlequin rasboras are calm and don’t get much bigger than a few inches. Their black tail patterns stand in stark contrast to the reddish-orange on their sides. They’re easy to care for, small, and a fantastic choice for someone just getting into fish.
Harlequin rasboras are great choices for beginners who want to keep fish in a 10 gallon tank. If you want to a school in a tank this small, you won’t be able to keep any other fish, but you will still be able to add a few shrimp to the tank.
No list would be complete without mentioning zebra danios.
You can keep four to five zebra danios in a 10 gallon tank, and you should ideally keep them in a tank which is long over high, so they have more room to swim. Asides from that, they’re incredibly hardy fish with a great temperament, which makes them fantastic for beginner fish keepers!
In fact, if you’re just starting out in the aquarium hobby, then I couldn’t recommend these small fish enough!
Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)
While technically not schooling fish, sparkling gouramis are another great choice of fish to keep in groups, although they also do well in pairs as well.
While beginners should keep them in 15 gallon tanks, more experienced fish keepers can keep them in smaller tanks that are 10 gallons in size!
Least Killifish (Heterandria formosa)
Another overlooked fish that can go great in a 10 gallon tank are Least Killifish. Growing just over an inch in length, you can keep 3-4 of these fish in a 10 gallon tank happily! They’re incredibly peaceful, but unfortunately, other fish in a tank this small might stress them out.
Pencil Fish (Nannostomus unifasciatus)
Again while they often thrive better in bigger tanks, it’s definitely possible to keep pencil fish in a 10 gallon tank. They’ll grow to about 1.5″ in length, and again try not to keep more than 3-4 in a tank.
With that in mind they’re a great starter fish for most people, and they look absolutely fantastic in any tank! Bare in mind, while they can stay in 10 gallon tanks, 20 gallons is going to provide a much better environment for them.
Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
You won’t believe how great guppies are at cleaning, but it’s true. Besides eating algae like crazy, guppies are also great tankmates. Guppies are great at cleaning out even the toughest algae, including hair algae. They can finish and tidy up the place faster than you anticipate.
(Here’s everything you need to know about keeping guppies in a 10 gallon tank)
Crystal Tetras (Protocheirodon pi)
Not as commonly seen as other tetras, crystal tetras are some of the best fish for a 10 gallon tank as well. They do best in schools of 6 or more, but apart from this, a school of crystal tetras are going to be a unique addition to any tank!
Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)
Platies move around a lot in the tank and like to scurry around eating algae. When it comes to the type of algae they eat, they will pretty much eat any soft algae. They are smaller than most fish, so they are perfect for 10-gallon tanks.
However, while platies can live in 10-gallon tanks, like white cloud mountain minnows, it’s always better to keep them in 15 gallon tanks or larger.
Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae)
If neon tetras don’t take your fancy then why not pick ember tetras instead?
With their dark red coloring, ember tetras are a stand out schooling fish for your 10 gallon tank. While they may be small in size, you’ll still be dazzled with how they glimmer in the tank. Just make sure you’re keeping them in schools of 6 or more for their happiness.
Nothing compares to the sight of a vibrant school of fish darting around a lush aquarium landscaping. Many of these fish are not only beautiful but also easy to care for and remarkably long-lived for small species, making them desirable pets for both novice and seasoned fish keepers.
Best Cleaner Fish For 10 Gallon Tank
Algae will not only ruin the way the fish tank looks, but it can also harm the plants in your tank as well. It’s possible for them to contaminate the tank water and throw the nutritional balance off. Luckily, there are plenty of algae eaters you can add to your tank! And not all of them are fish!
Here are some of the best algae eaters for a 10 gallon tank, including fish, shrimp, and snails!
Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus)
One of the smallest tropical schooling species suitable for a home aquarium are pygmy Corydoras. Small schools of these fish are ideal since they are so fun to watch as they scurry around the tank’s bottom, picking up food scraps. Aside from being a low-maintenance pet, pygmy corys also appear to develop a sense of familiarity with their owners.
Bronze/Common Corydoras (Corydoras aeneus)
One of the most common fish kept in aquariums, corydoras, are a great choice for beginners. These adorable fish are happiest when they are in groups of six or more, where they spend their time looking for food on the tank floor.
American Flagfish (Jordanella floridae)
They are fish that eat hair algae, just like guppies. They are so voracious that even harder forms of algae, such as black beard algae, are no match for their appetites. Also, they are schooling fish and don’t like to be alone. So, at the very least, add three of them when you first put them in your aquarium.
While 10 gallons is the minimum size you can keep American Flagfish, bigger is better, and unless you’re an experienced fish keeper, a larger tank is still recommended
Otocinclus Catfish (Macrotocinclus affinis)
They are smaller than most fish, which makes them great for 10-gallon tanks. This species eats both soft green algae and brown algae. Their ability to clean up is limited, however, because of their size and the fact that they can only consume the softer, lighter varieties of algae.
Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus)
Ghost shrimp are great algae eaters for a 10 gallon tank, and if you don’t plan on keeping them with other tank mates, you can keep 30-40 in the tank at at time! If you want to keep ghost shrimp in your tank, you’ll notice them continuously foraging in the tank looking for algae to eat.
Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)
If you want to add a lot more color to your tank, then cherry shrimp are definitely the way to go! There’s even a whole grading system for the different vibrancy of cherry shrimp. Similarly to ghost shrimp, if you’re keeping them alone you can even keep 50 cherry shrimp in a 10 gallon tank, however, with other fish, this number will be considerably less.
Amano Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)
Amano Shrimp are considerably larger than other shrimp and because of this, you’ll have to keep far less in your tank. Generally speaking you should aim to keep 1 shrimp per 2-3 gallons of water. So if you plan on keeping them in a 10 gallon tank, aim for 3-5.
Amano shrimp are some of the best algae eaters you can buy, and their name actually comes from the aquarist Takashi Amano, who used them to combat algae in his tanks!
Nerite Snails (Nerita)
Nerite snails are fantastic choices if you want the algae in your tank gone! And they’ll eat it in incredibly speeds. One of the best thing about nerite snails is that they don’t eat plants either. So if you have a planted tank, they’re going to be your best choice!
Ramshorn Snails (Planorbarius corneus)
If you want a more unique looking snail, then ramshorn’s might be your best bet. As you can guess by their name, their shell resembles a rams horn. It’s rare for ramshorns to eat plants, however, if there are particularly delicate plant in the tank, then they may not be safe.
If you plan on keeping ramshorn snails, then again 1-2 per 10 gallons is around the maximum you’ll be able to keep.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Melanoides tuberculata)
And lastly, Malaysian trumpet snails can can also be great algae eaters for a 10 gallon tank. While in most cases they won’t eat the plants in your tank, if you there isn’t enough food in the tank, then they will start to see them as a snack too.
Unlike ramshorn and nerite snails, you can keep up to 4 Malaysian trumpet snails in a 10 gallon tank as well.
Best Bottom Feeder Fish For 10 Gallon Tank
Some of the best bottom feeder fish for a 10 gallon tank include species of corydoras like the common cory, pygmy cory, and panda cory. On top of this, you can also try otocinclus catfish as well as many species of shrimp and snail.
Aquariums can greatly benefit from the addition of bottom-feeding fish. Bottom feeder fish are so named because they tend to congregate on the substrate at the bottom of an aquarium, where they can feast on scraps left behind by other fish.
Because of the unique conditions present at the tank’s base, they’ve adapted in a way that makes them thrive there. These characteristics aid in their adaptation to and maintenance of such an environment, allowing them to flourish there.
Their inferior mouth is just one of their many distinguishing features. This characteristic does not imply that these fish have better mouths than others; rather, it indicates that their mouths are located lower on their body, making it simpler for them to eat food from the substrate.
What we commonly refer to as “whiskers” are actually barbels located near their mouths that aid in food detection. As well as this they are able to more easily navigate the tank because of their flatter belly.
Having bottom-feeding fish in your tank would be a good idea, especially because they give your tank more variety and make it more interesting.
What Is the Biggest Fish You Can Keep In a 10-Gallon Tank?
The biggest fish you can keep in a 10 gallon tank will most likely be a dwarf gourami, coming in at around 3.5″. However, they do much better in pairs or triplets, so make sure you’re keeping 2 or 3 of these fish together in your tank.
A close runner up for the biggest fish in a 10 gallon tank, however, would be bettas, which grow up to 2.5″ in size.
Worst Fish for a 10-Gallon Tank
There is a great variety of colorful fish that would do well in a 10-gallon aquarium. With careful planning, you can create a thriving environment in your aquarium, ensuring a long and happy life for your fish. There are some fish that should not be kept in a 10-gallon tank if you don’t know everything there is to know about their needs and personalities.
The five fish listed above are the ones who usually get the short end of the deal.
1. African Cichlids
If you want to see the vivid colors of saltwater fish in a freshwater setting, African cichlids are the closest thing you’ll find. Furthermore, they are extremely aggressive and complex fish that, with a few exceptions, should not be kept in a tank of less than 55 gallons.
Don’t be fooled by the bright colors, and think you can get away with putting a few in your 10-gallon tank. They are inappropriate and may cause serious harm to your current tropical fish population.
2. Larger Plecos
This is the fish that most people call a “suckerfish.” Most species can reach lengths of several feet, making them too enormous to keep in standard aquariums. They also love a tank with a supply of driftwood to feed on and may destroy any vegetation you put in their path. Instead of plecos, a small school of Otocinclus catfish would be a better choice if you’re looking for an algae eater that won’t overcrowd your tank.
3. Larger Gourami‘s
Small aquariums are appropriate for dwarf gouramis, but their larger relatives should be avoided unless you have the space for proper maintenance. Due to their size and aggressive nature, keep larger gouramis in a tank which is at least 55 gallons. Even though they are very appealing, you will be disappointed if you add them to your little aquarium.
4. Bala Sharks
The Bala shark is probably the second most mistreated aquarium fish after the Betta fish. Bala sharks start out as cute three-inch fish, but they grow to be a foot long and must be kept in groups. These fish are strong and quick, yet they are easily startled. These guys are too big for any tank, and should be kept in a tank which is 125 gallons or larger.
It’s tempting to bring home a few baby angelfish for your aquarium because of how cute they are. A 10-gallon aquarium is far too small for an adult of this species, which can grow to be over a foot tall. Also, they do better in tanks with similar-sized species or in tanks where they are the only inhabitants.
Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about fish for a 10 gallon tank!
How Many Fish Can You Put In A 10 Gallon Tank?
Generally you can put 1 inch of fish per gallon of water into a tank. So you can put around 10 inches of fish into your tank. Just make sure you’re checking the specific requirements of the fish you choose!
What Is The Longest Living Fish For A 10 Gallon Tank?
If you want fish that are going to live as long as possible, then I’d recommend neon tetras. Neon tetras can live up to 10 years in the right conditions so they’re a great choice.
Is A 10 Gallon Tank Too Small For A Goldfish?
A 10 Gallon tank is too small for a goldfish. Most goldfish require a tank size of 20 gallons, with each additional goldfish requiring an extra 10 gallons.
How Many Neon Tetras In A 10 Gallon Tank?
You can keep 6-7 neon tetras in a 10 gallon tank. If you do this, make sure the tank has a lot of horizontal swim space, so they can swim as far as possible.
Fish tanks are a popular way to add some life and interest to a room, and with the right fish they can be low-maintenance too. Remember to research the specific needs of each species before adding them to your tank.
And remember, a lot of these fish can be kept happily in a community tank, but it’s always best to check their specific requirements first to be sure.
Our best choices will give your aquarium plenty of personalities while still being easy to care for. And as always, consult with an expert if you have any questions about creating or maintaining your aquarium.
Thanks for reading!