7 Best Fish Tank Ideas for a 10-Gallon Aquarium
A 10-gallon fish tank is one of the most common “starter” aquarium sizes because it’s small enough for an apartment, a kid’s bedroom, or even your kitchen counter. If you’re not sure what kind of fish to get or how to design the tank, get inspired by 7 of our favorite aquarium setup ideas.
1. The “Centerpiece Fish” Aquarium
The aquarium fish known as the centerpiece fish is the one that catches everyone’s attention. It’s the largest of the community tank mates and usually draws the most attention. In this case, our showcase fish is going to be a gourami that’s less than 3 inches (8 cm) long, such as a powder blue dwarf gourami (females are usually more peaceful than males) or honey gourami. This brightly colored center fish will make a great addition to any aquarium. It swims around the aquarium and has a lot of personality.
Consider surrounding the gourami in six to eight schooling nanofish that are a different colour. You might consider adding orange ember Tetras to your powder blue gourami, instead of using it with neon tetras in blue and red. The yellow-orange honeygourami, on the other hand, would look stunning swimming with a group neon tetras.
These tetras will school in the middle, so you might want to fill the tank with Malaysian trumpet snails or nerite snails. They are great algae eaters and scavengers. Corydoras catfish is another peaceful bottom dweller. Since they like to stick together in schools of the same species, we suggest choosing smaller species, such as four to six panda corydoras or six to eight pygmy corydoras.
Honey gouramis can be very gentle and brighten up any aquarium with their bright yellow coloration.
2. The Nano Aquascape
This aquarium is different from the previous one. It focuses on the cultivation of an underwater garden, with fish as side decorations and live plants as its main feature. This piece of art is highly detailed and likely requires high lighting, carbon dioxide (CO2) injections, carpeting plants and careful placement of hardscape. This type of high-tech planted tank is recommended for advanced aquarists. They are more difficult to balance and require more maintenance. Also, the water tends to become very acidic because of the active substrate and CO2 injection, which can be lethal to your fish and beneficial bacteria. If you’re up to the challenge, the nano-aquascape can be very rewarding and visually stunning.
You should take the time to fine-tune the arrangement of the plants, rocks, or driftwood before you purchase any animals. Once you are satisfied with the arrangement and plant selection, then you can choose aquatic animals that enhance the design and won’t blend in too much with the landscape. Aquascapes often resemble scenes from nature, such as an underwater diorama. You might consider adding nano fish like celestial pearl daanios and chili rasboras to your aquascape. These tiny fish “fly” in the midst of your miniature forest, mountains like a group of birds.
For algae control, consider getting some small snails, amano shrimp, or red cherry shrimp to keep your plant leaves and hardscape looking pristine. The small cory catfish, such as the habrosus, pygmy, and hastatus Corydoras, are excellent for keeping your plants clean. They will also scour excess food to make sure you have a great crew. Avoid any animals that burrow, such as the Malaysian trumpets snails and kuhli locaches.
High tech aquascapes may be hard to pull off, but the more you practice, the better your creations will become. Do not compare yourself with professionals. Their “perfect” aquascapes often have a lot of equipment that has been removed, and fish added temporarily.
Brigittae (or chili rasboras) are favorite fish for nano aquascapes. They are small and have bright red colors.
3. The Unheated Aquarium
Looking to set up a cool water aquarium? You can get a tank filled with fast danios. You don’t need an aquarium heater as long your room temperature is between 67-80degF (19-25 degC). These action-packed torpedoes are always a crowd-pleaser for kids, and their hardiness makes them perfect for beginners who are still learning the ropes. There are many Danios available at local fish shops and pet stores. They come in a variety of colors including blue, blue fin, leopard, blue, and even Glofish.
They do best in a group of at least six, but unlike many schooling fish, they seem to be fine even if you keep different kinds of danios together. They will swim all around your aquarium but, due to their hungry appetites they will often eat from the water surface. You can also add Malaysian trumpet snails or mystery snails to the tank to help clean up any leftovers.
There’s nothing quite like watching the feeding frenzy caused by a tank full of lightning-fast zebra danios.
4. The Livebearer Aquarium
Endler’s aquatic plants and livebearers will love a 10-gallon aquarium. Endlers are like a smaller version of their cousin, the guppy, and they come in many colors and types, such as N-class, tiger, and black bar. Because they give birth to young fish that are able to swim and find food in a matter of hours, they’re known as livebearer fish. Adults do predate on their own fry, so to increase the survival rate, add lots of dense foliage like java moss and water sprite to provide hiding spots for the babies. You can always take out some adult fish to reduce overpopulation.
Endler’s livebearers eat virtually anything, such as flakes, pellets, frozen foods, and even giant wafers that they can nibble off. They are easy to care for and very resilient. You can’t go wrong if you want an aquarium that is vibrant with color and life, but it’s simple.
Endlers work well in 10-gallon tanks due to their small size, bright patterns, and ease-of-breeding.
5. The Frog Tank
An aquarium filled with African dwarf frogs is a great option for aquatic pets that aren’t fish. Although a single frog can be bought as a last-minute addition that looks intriguing, we recommend purchasing at least five to six. Pick the healthiest frogs at the pet store that are well-fed and have a slightly rounded belly. To prevent them from jumping out of water, make sure you have a tight-fitting aquarium cover or hood. The tank can be decorated with ordinary aquarium gravel, plants, driftwood, or rocks tall enough to reach the top of the water. This will allow the frogs to peer out from the water.
They are slow eaters and won’t eat fast-eating fish because they are slow. Good tank mates include larger snails, a clown pleco, or more African dwarf frogs (not the larger African clawed frog). They feed at the tank bottom by using their webbed hands to waft things into their mouths, so don’t give them flakes and freeze-dried foods that float or shrimp pellets that disintegrate quickly. You should feed them plenty of meaty foods such as frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp. You can encourage your frogs to “wrestle” and sing by adding java moss, or other densely covered plants.
African dwarf Frogs can be messy eaters. To clean up leftovers, you might consider getting snails or a small pleco.
6. Aquarium “Upside-Down Forest”.
We got this idea when looking at a bunch of dwarf water lettuce. This beautiful floating plant will grow tall and bushy roots if it gets enough light. It also consumes any fish’s toxic nitrogen waste. You can get 6-8 green neon tetras to make the perfect schooling fish. These tetras have a reflective, blue/green stripe that is visible even when the aquarium lights are off. These tetras can be shy so get a group outgoing rosy loaches. They only grow to 1.25 inches (3cm) long and are well-known for their speckled males and red-orange females.
To make floating plants more easily propagate, make a tiny hole at the surface of the water and drop micro pellets. Stir the water gently to make the food sink. If the dwarf water-leaf becomes too dense, you can remove some to feed your plant-eating animals like turtles or give them away.
7. The “Breeding for Profit” Tank
If you’re searching for a fun breeding project beyond livebearers, try an aquarium of long fin white cloud mountain minnows. Unlike most fish, the adults are not known for predating on their own eggs or fry, so it’s quite possible to breed them in a colony without separating out the babies. Although juvenile white cloud minnows will eat their younger siblings, it is possible for them to eat the rest of the family. To prevent this, make sure you fill your tank with lots of floating plants and dense mosses. In fact, if you really want to increase your population, keep this as a species-only tank with no other fish, snails, or even shrimp to prey on the fry.
White cloud mountain minnows are extremely hardy and can live in unheated aquariums or outdoor mini ponds in the summer. Keep the minnows well-fed with a wide selection of tiny foods, like the powder from Repashy gel foods, Easy Fry and Small Fish Food, Hikari First Bites, frozen cyclops, and live baby brine shrimp. Eventually, when the fish tank becomes more crowded, talk to your local fish store about selling some to help offset the cost of your aquarium hobby.
There are many varieties of white cloud mountain minnows, such as regular, gold, and long fin.
If you’re thinking of upgrading to a 20-gallon aquarium, there’s a whole new world of fish, invertebrates, and plants you can keep. Read about our 5 best fish tank ideas for a 20-gallon aquarium, and enjoy nature daily.