For a start, it is a common mistake to assume a smaller tank such as a 10 gallon aquarium is easier to maintain than a bigger tank.
In fact, maintaining a smaller tank is much harder due to the need to do more frequent water change.
But if you do decide to start a 10 gallon aquarium, then you should know the best fish for your small tank.
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A 10 gallon aquarium
What does a 10-gallon tank represent in the fish-keeping world?
It is among the smallest, however it’s not recommended to beginner aquarists, mainly because it is more difficult to maintain in terms of proper filtration, water change, and generally keeping everything in good shape.
Do your research
One of the reasons a 10 gallon aquarium is not recommended for beginners is that they often make big mistakes when deciding what fish to stock into such a confining aquarium, especially if considering a mixed species community.
Thus, if you are a beginner, the first thing to do is stop being a beginner and do some research on your favorite fish.
It is quite an easy thing to do nowadays with the global Internet. Only then should you go to the store, confident of your knowledge and decisions.
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What you should pay attention to?
There are three main things you should be aware of when it comes to fish you choose:
- fish care requirements
- space they need
- fish temperament
That said, you can’t keep two species comfortable with significantly different water conditions or a highly peaceful fish with an aggressive or territorial one (goes for any size of the aquarium).
And, of course, you can’t stock fish that are simply too large for a ten-gallon aquarium such as Angelfish, Gourami, African Cichlid, or Bela Shark.
Also consider dimension of your tank
Nevertheless, volume of the tank is not all that matters; there are dimensions of the aquarium that should also be considered.
For example, the famous “inch per gallon rule” suggests stocking one inch of the adult fish per one-gallon of water.
That sounds like nice and simple solution, but needs to be accepted with great care.
For example, you may go to your friend’s and find his school of black skirt tetras very amusing making you want to set-up your own school, but you have only a ten-gallon tank.
Since adult black skirt tetras reaches two inches in length at most, the inch per gallon rule would suggest putting five black skirt tetras in your aquarium; however, a thorough research of the fish explains they need at least six of their own kind in the tank and, since they are very good swimmers, nothing less than 24 inches long.
Hence, it is obvious they have no business in your ten-gallon tank.
Reasonable choices for a 10 gallon aquarium
A good start would definitely be stocking some Tetra fish, such as Cardinal tetra, Glowlight, or Neon tetra.
As far as sizes and space requirement of these fish, they are ideal ten-gallon tank mates.
They are all relatively inactive swimmers, so they don’t require much space and are small and peaceful fish.
The only thing they don’t quite agree about is water temperature.
While neon prefer 68° to 78°Fahrenheit, glowlight, and especially cardinals, like slightly warmer water (74° to 80°F).
Yet this is not an obstacle since you can maintain the temperature at both sides, such as maintaining a temperature of 75° to 76°Fahrenheit.
They are tolerant towards other species of fish, but can get nippy toward each other when stressed, so keep them in a larger school.
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Another fish you have to think about is the Dwarf Corydoras.
Dwarf Corydoras, or catfish, are interesting bottom-feeding species that get along with all peaceful tank mates, but should be kept in schools of six or more of its own.
They are also very useful as tank bottom cleaners because they will pick up virtually everything that falls down to the bottom of the tank.
Even so, you should occasionally provide them with some sinking pellets to be sure they get all the nutrients they need.
The next option is the Sparkling Gourami, a small fish growing to 1.5 inches in length suitable for small densely planted tanks with lots of hiding places.
Due to their colorful look, they can be a great addition for a creatively set aquarium.
Although they can be quite shy sometimes, if kept away from aggressive fish they can be very sociable.
Another small vividly colored fish from the rank of livebearers that can be fun to watch in your aquarium is the Guppy.
They come in a variety of different color alternatives, so there is much space for you to be creative when choosing from these fish.
Unlike Neon Tetras and similar, guppies are very active swimmers in the top third of the aquarium, so that segment of the tank should not be heavily planted.
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If kept with proper tank mates, the aggressive fish species known as the Siamese Fighting fish or Betta can do very well in your ten-gallon tank.
However, this will only work if kept with peaceful species such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Corydoras, Ember Tetra, Harlequin Rasboras or the like, this brightly colored fish, with the most magical looking fins can be rather entertaining and a trouble-free option.
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Of course, there are lots of other species that can fit your 10 gallon tank such as Pencilfish, Least Killifish, different types of Rasboras, Dwarf Lamprologus, Kuhli Loaches, or even other species like Apple Snails, Nerite Snails, Ghost Shrimp, and Cherry Shrimp, which can add a live splash of color to your aquarium.
Whichever fish or species you choose, do a thorough research on the fish or species you think is best for your tank.
The main reason to research is because even if your fish can fit a gallon of such volume, it may not be compatible with some other fish/species you wish to add in terms of aquarium setup, water conditions, and behavior.