Top 10 Fish for a 10-Gallon Aquarium
One of our most frequently asked questions is “What can I put in a 10-gallon aquarium?” When you’re surrounded by hundreds of freshwater fish at a fish store, the possibilities just seem endless! You can find the best 10 fish species, both common and rare, in our list.
1. Brown Pencilfish
Let’s start off with a top-dwelling fish, which can be hard to find for a 10-gallon tank. Nannostomus eques is also called the hockeystick pencilfish and diptail pencilfish because of the way its mouth points toward the surface and its tail dips downward at a diagonal angle. Brown pencilfish are relatively inexpensive compared to other species of pencilfish, making it easier to buy a healthy school with at least five to six fish. They are more likely to jump than most other surface dwellers. To keep them in check, you will need an aquarium lid. Also, they have very small mouths, so feed them size-appropriate foods like baby brine shrimp, daphnia, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food. Our full article on pencilfish provides more details.
Brown or diptail pencilfish
Apistogramma dwarfs cichlids are a great choice for breeding fish. A variety of species, including A. cacatuoides, A. agassizii and A. borellii are available at your local fish market due to their unique profile and colors. They’re also very easy to spawn; just provide lots of food and a little cave or coconut hut for them to lay their eggs. After hatching, the mother even cares for her young until they’re three to four weeks old. For more details, read our care guide on apistos.
3. Lyretail Killifish
Aphyosemion Australe is another fun breeding project. Also known as the lyretail killer, orange australe killerifish, and golden panchax, it’s also fun to keep them. They are usually sold in pairs but you can keep one male and a few females. Many people avoid killifish because of their aggressive behavior, short lifespans and poor health. However, this beautiful species can live for up to three years. They need a tight cover to keep them from jumping and can survive in colder temperatures without the use of an aquarium heater. Colony breeding (or raising the fry in the same tank as the parents) is possible in a heavily planted tank with, for example, lots of thick moss on the ground and water sprite floating at the surface.
Male killifish with orange australe females
4. Kuhli Loach
Kuhli loaches are a wonderful choice. These oddball fish look a lot like eels and come in many different colors (including zebra stripes, black, and silver), and are great at finding food left over from other people. They are shyer and more nocturnal than other fish, so they feel safer when they’re with others like tetras and rasboras. These wiggly, underwater noodles will be a lot of fun if you feed them sinking food like Repashy gel food and frozen bloodworms.
5. Cherry Barb
Puntius.titteya, unlike many barbs, is a mild and friendly species that can be mixed well with other community fish. These schooling fish can be purchased in groups of six or more and will stand out against the greenery of a planted aquarium. Plus, they readily breed and will lay their eggs in dense vegetation or spawning mops. If you’re looking for a lively, eye-catching addition to your 10-gallon fish tank, you can’t go wrong with the cherry barb.
Female and male cherry barbs
6. White Cloud Mountain Minnow
Tanichthys Albonubes can be found in longfin or regular form, but we prefer the golden variety due to their yellowish-peach bodies. This cold water schooling species can live in a non-heated aquarium, which is perfect for an office building or classroom environment. Their calm personalities make them great tank mates for dwarf shrimp and betta fish, provided there is enough cover. These fish are very easy to spawn in species-only tanks, especially if they are given plenty of aquatic plants and good food.
Golden cloud minnows
7. Neolamprologus multiifasciatus
Did you know that African cichlids can be kept in a 10-gallon tank? These tiny shell dwellers stay between 1 to 2 inches long, and as per their nickname, they dwell and raise their fry in snail shells. As with other African cichlids they prefer higher pH levels and hard water. Because they are constantly changing their environment by digging holes in the sand, and then moving their shells with their teeth, shell dwellers can be very entertaining to watch. You can provide enough food for your babies to thrive and you will soon be able sell them or give them away to friends.
8. Green Neon Rasbora
Because of its radioactive colour, this tiny schooling rasbora deserves more attention from fish keepers. Iridescent green is such an unusual color that is rarely seen in the aquarium hobby. Put a group of six or more together (especially in a blackwater aquarium with tannins), and the brilliant sparkle from their scales will capture everyone’s attention, even from across the room. They may be hard to locate in your corner of the world, but you can always try requesting them from your local fish store or ordering them from a reputable online seller.
9. Fancy Guppy
Guppies are a wonderful addition to any aquarium. In our opinion, guppies are the perfect, peaceful fish for a 10-gallon tank. They come in every color of the rainbow, regularly swim up to the glass to beg for food, and are great eaters that always polish off every last morsel in the aquarium. Even though they don’t live very long, these livebearers more than make up for it with the abundance of babies they’ll give you. You won’t regret feeding them, giving them hard water with minerals and keeping up with tank maintenance.
10. Dwarf Platy
Do you love adorable livebearers and can’t stop looking at them? Do you love dwarfs or teacup platies? They grow to around 1″ in length, and they don’t grow as big as regular plates. A 10-gallon tank is perfect for them. Platy fish are amazing clean-up crew members because of their insatiable appetites and knack for finding half-buried leftovers in the smallest cracks. Because of their unique mouth shape, they’ve even been known to pull off and munch on algae. Dwarf platies may not be easiest variety to source, but their cute size and lively behavior make it worth the effort.
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