17 Best & 5 Worst Fish For 10 Gallon Tanks

It can be tough to choose the best fish for a 10-gallon aquarium due to its small size. Moreover, many pet retailers sell species that are inappropriate for nano aquariums. Whether fish will thrive in a 10-gallon tank depends primarily on the species and number of residents. Also, a single betta fish is a good choice for a 10-gallon tank, but a single goldfish would be much too small for this size of aquarium. 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.

Best Centerpiece Fish For 10 Gallon Tank

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, most of the following freshwater fish are schooling fish that require a separate tank for each species. If you want a more diverse group of fish in a community tank, you might be able to include some of the species on this list with care.

Now, let’s check out the top 5 picks for the most eye-catching fish that can live in a 10-gallon tank.


The tropical fish known as Bettas (Betta splendens) is available in a rainbow of brilliant hues and requires little in the way of maintenance. Bettas should be kept by themselves if possible, but if they are calm enough, they may be able to live in a tank with other fish. There should be no other similar-looking species in their care (for example, fancy guppies, which have similar flowing fins).

Celestial Pearl Danios

The tranquil and low-maintenance Celestial Pearl Danios (Celestichthys margaritatus) are a popular aquarium fish. In addition, they only reach a maximum of an inch in length, making them ideal for 10-gallon aquariums. This gorgeous fish has a shiny blue body speckled with bright blue jewels and bright orange horizontal bands on its fins.

The Dwarf Gourami

Colisa lalia, or the Dwarf Gourami, is a 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. Choose a dark substrate to highlight their vibrant colors, and provide plenty of plants, especially floating plants.

The Neon Tetras

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 the outside. Neon Tetras reach a maximum length of about 1.25 inches, are completely non-aggressive, and do exceptionally well when kept in classrooms.

Golden Dwarf Barbs

Although the Golden Dwarf Barb (Pethia gelius) is one of the lesser-known Barb species, its small size (1.5 inches at maturity) makes it a great freshwater fish for a 10-gallon tank. The typical hue of this fish is a deep golden yellow with black patterns. They prefer to live in groups of at least five and thrive in a tank with a variety of floating plants and driftwood.

Planted  Freshwater Aquarium

What Is the Biggest Fish You Can Keep In a 10-Gallon Tank?

With so many options on the market, it can be hard to decide which fish is the best fit for your 10-gallon tank. If you’re looking for a big fish to add to your small aquarium, there are plenty of options available. Just be sure to do your research first.

Here are some recommendations:

Betta Fish

Betta fish (Betta splendens) are one of the most popular types of tropical fish in aquariums. This is probably because they come in so many different colors, patterns, and fin shapes that look great. They can grow to be between 2.25 and 2.5 inches long, which is big enough for a 10-gallon aquarium.

Dwarf Gourami

You can’t go wrong with dwarf gourami if you want a graceful, brightly colored fish for the center of your tank. They are one of the biggest fish you can keep in a 10-gallon aquarium. Males can grow to about 2.5 inches long. Females are bigger than males and can grow up to 3 inches long. Their colors tend to be a little less bright.

Common Molly

Despite needing hard water, the live-bearing Common Molly is otherwise undemanding and simple to maintain. These fish can be kept alone or in groups of up to four in a 10-gallon tank, but stay away from the larger Sailfin morph because it requires more room. Depending on the species, mollies can reach a length of 3-4.5 inches, meaning that three gallons of water is required for every fish.

There are many factors outside the fish’s aesthetic appeal that should be taken into account while stocking an aquarium, such as the fish’s adult size, body form, and bioload. Most fish found in pet stores are juveniles, meaning that while they may fit in a smaller tank at first, they will quickly overrun it as they mature into their full size. Think about this before purchasing a fish for a 10-gallon tank.

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.

Here are the best schooling fish that will make a 10-gallon tank look great.

1. The White Cloud Mountain Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are great nano fish for people who are just starting out. Unlike most tropical species, it thrives in cooler climates. If you want to keep these colorful fish in your aquarium, you won’t need to worry about providing extra heat.

2. Neon Tetra

Neons are among the brightest freshwater fish available, and a large school will make your aquarium really stand out. Due to their small size (adults are just an inch long), they should not be kept near larger fish that might decide to munch on them. Although It is recommended to keep schooling fish in groups of no less than six, the more, the merrier when it comes to neons.

3. Rasbora Harlequin

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.

4. Pygmy Corydoras

One of the smallest tropical schooling species suitable for a home aquarium is the 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.

5. Bronze Corydoras Catfish

One of the most common fish kept in aquariums, corydoras, is 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. Corys of different kinds can be found in the wild, living in large groups of hundreds.

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 Single Fish For 10 Gallon Tank

While it is certainly possible to keep more than one fish in a 10-gallon tank, it is generally best to stick with a single fish. This will help to reduce the amount of waste in the tank and make it easier to maintain water quality. Of course, not all fish are equally well-suited to life in a small tank.

In general, smaller fish are better suited to life in a 10-gallon tank than larger fish. Additionally, fish that are known for being particularly active or aggressive may not do well in a small space with other fish.

Here are some recommendations for the best single fish for a 10-gallon tank.

1. Betta (Male)

Without a doubt, the Betta fish is the most well-liked nano fish for freshwater aquariums. Males of this species are known to fight to the death if kept in the same tank, earning them the nickname “Siamese fighting fish.” Thus, a 10-gallon fish tank should only house one male betta fish.

2. Freshwater Pea Puffer

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.

3. Small Gourami

The dwarf gourami, a member of the betta fish family, is an incredible specimen in its own right. Due to their diminutive size, these gourami fish are ideal for aquariums with limited space. Dwarf gouramis are peaceful fish that do best when kept alone, but a pair could be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium if the tank has adequate filtration.

4. The Common Molly

The Common Molly is an easy-to-care-for live-bearing fish that only requires hard water. You can keep these fish alone or in groups of up to four in a 10-gallon tank, but don’t get the bigger Sailfin morph, which needs more space.

Best Cleaner Fish For 10 Gallon Tank

Algae not only ruin the way the fish tank looks, but they also hurt the ecosystem inside the tank. It’s possible for them to contaminate the tank water and throw the nutritional balance off. Luckily, algae-eating organisms are common in the natural world and can contribute to cleanup efforts. There is a wide variety of options, from fish to snails and shrimp.

People usually think of fish when they think of a fish tank. They get along well with each other and can help clean up. Technically, there are a lot of options, especially for the small fish in the tank that eat everything.

We will talk in-depth about the top five algae-eating fish for 10-gallon tanks.

1. Guppies

You won’t believe how great guppies are at cleaning, but it’s true. Besides eating algae like crazy, guppies are also great tankmates. The guppies work great at cleaning out even the toughest algae, including hair algae. They can finish and tidy up the place faster than you anticipate.

2. American Flagfish

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, so a larger tank is still recommended

3. The Honey Gourami

Not only do they eat algae, but they also make a great centerpiece for your tank. The algae-prone part of the aquarium is where you’ll find them because they aren’t energetic swimmers. So, if you want a fish that will clean the tank, stay calm, and make the tank look nice, this is the one to get.

4. Otocinclus Catfish

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.

5. Platies

They 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.

The aquatic environment of your fish tank is vulnerable to algae growth. They detract from the aesthetic value and also pose a threat to the stability of water systems because of the contaminants they carry. In the long run, the addition of algae-eating fish can have a significant effect.

Best Bottom Feeder Fish For 10 Gallon Tank

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 ingest food from the substrate. What we commonly refer to as “whiskers” are actually barbels located near their mouths that aid in food detection. 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.

Below are the best bottom feeder fish for your 10 gallon tanks.

Otocincus Catfish

Since they only get to be 2 inches tall, these can be another great addition. They are also called Oto cats, algae scrapers, and dwarf suckermouths, among other names. Brown algae are their favorite, so you don’t have to worry about having to clean the tank often.

Kuhli Loach

Loaches have their own personalities and like to live in groups with other types of fish. They are very passionate about what they do, which can be seen in the way they move around the tank. They take great pleasure in rummaging about in the tank’s gravel in search of food. They are so dedicated and determined to find their food that they will even move decorations and sometimes get stuck under them.

Corydoras Fish

They are cuter than Cory Cats and spend all day flitting around and cleaning the bottom of the tank. Most of the time, they stay small, but other species in the same family can get longer. They are also pretty calm, but if you don’t keep a lot of them together, you might hear them fighting.

Indeed, every aquarium should have a few of the gorgeous and intriguing bottom-feeder fish. Some of the most spectacularly beautiful fish can be found in this group, and most of them will do more than just add visual appeal to your aquarium; they will also help keep it clean by eating any leftover food and algae that may have settled to the bottom of your tank. We believe the species on this list to be among the best options for bottom feeders, and we wish you the best of luck in making a wise choice from it.

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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 this nk 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. Plecostomus

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 can’t survive without a supply of driftwood to shave on and will 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. Gourami

Small aquariums are appropriate for dwarf gourami, but their larger relatives should be avoided unless you have the space for proper maintenance. Due to their size and aggressive nature, a pair of gourami should not be housed in a tank smaller than 55 gallons. Even though they are very appealing, you will be disappointed if you add them to your little aquarium.

4. Bala Shark

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 a home aquarium unless you have a really huge tank.

5. Angelfish

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.


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. 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!