7 Best Fish Tank Ideas for A 10-Gallon Aquarium

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. Here are 7 of our favorite aquarium setups.


1. The “Centerpiece Fish” Aquarium

The centerpiece fish is an aquarium fish that draws attention to itself and other members of the community. 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. The brightly-colored centerpiece fish is very distinctive and will be a focal point in the aquarium.

Consider surrounding the gourami in six to eight schooling nanofish that are a different colour. For example, don’t put the powder blue gourami with blue and red neon tetras, but consider adding orange ember tetras instead. 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. We recommend choosing smaller species such as six to eight panda corydoras and six to eight pygmy Corydoras, since they are fond of sticking together in the same species’ schools.

Honey gouramis are very friendly and can pop in any aquarium.

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. A high tech planted tank like this is generally recommended for more advanced aquarists since they are harder to balance, require more maintenance, and can quicky become a huge mess if you make a mistake. Due to the active substrate, CO2 injection and pH increase, the water can become extremely acidic which can lead to fish death and harmful bacteria. If you’re up to the challenge, the nano-aquascape can be very rewarding and visually stunning.

Make sure you take time to adjust the arrangement and selection of plants, rocks, driftwood, before you buy 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. Because aquascapes are often intended to imitate scenes in nature like an underwater diorama, look at adding nano fish such as celestial pearl danios, chili rasboras, and exclamation point rasboras. These tiny fish appear like a flock of birds “flying” amidst your miniature forest or mountains.

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. Just avoid any animals like Malaysian trumpet snails and kuhli loaches that like to burrow and may mess up your scape.

Although high tech aquascapes can be difficult to create, you will get better at it the more you practice. Do not be discouraged and don’t compare yourself to professionals. Professional aquascapes usually have unrealistic setups where all equipment has been removed and fish temporarily added.

Brigittae or chili rasboras are a favorite fish for nano aquascapes because of their tiny size and bright red color.

3. The Unheated Aquarium

Looking to set up a cool water aquarium? Get a tank of fast danios to set up a cool water aquarium. An aquarium heater is not necessary as long as the temperature in your home remains between 67 and 80 degrees F (19 to 27 degrees C). 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 thrive in groups of six or more, but unlike other schooling fish, they are fine even if you have different types of danios. They can swim around the aquarium but due to their hunger, they will eat from the surface of the water and take frozen bloodworms or flakes. To clean up any stray food that makes it past the danios, you can place mystery snails and Malaysian trumpet snails in the tank.

There’s nothing quite like watching the feeding frenzy caused by a tank full of lightning-fast zebra danios.

4. The Livebearer Aquatic Center

A 10-gallon aquarium is the perfect home for Endler’s livebearers and live aquatic plants. Endlers can be described as a smaller version or guppy of their cousin, but they also come in many different colors and types such as N-class and tiger. 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. If you’re worried about overpopulation, you can always remove some adults to sell to your local fish store.

Endler’s livebearers can eat almost anything: flakes, pellets and frozen foods. They even eat giant wafers. They’re very durable and easy to maintain, yet small enough to be kept in a child’s bedroom or office. A tank filled with energetic endlers is a great choice if you are looking for an aquarium that’s easy to maintain and bursting with color.

Endlers can be used in 10-gallon-sized tanks. They are small and have colorful patterns.

5. The Frog Tank

A tank filled with African dwarfs frogs could be a good option if you are looking for an aquatic pet other than fish. Usually an individual frog is purchased as a last-minute afterthought that looks interesting, but we recommend going crazy with five or six of them. 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. You can decorate the tank with normal aquarium gravel, plants, and driftwood or rocks that are tall enough to reach right under the surface so that the frogs can perch up top and peer out of the water.

Because they are rather slow eaters, they don’t do as well if you put fast-eating fish with them. A clown pleco, larger snails and more African dwarf frogs are all good tank mates (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. Instead, feed them lots of meaty foods like frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, and live blackworms. If you add java moss or other plants that offer dense cover, your frogs may start to exhibit breeding behavior like singing and “wrestling” with each other.

African dwarfs frogs are messy eaters. It may be a good idea to get snails and a small pleco for any leftovers.

6. The “Upside-Down Forest” Aquarium

This idea came about after we looked at some dwarf water lettuce. This floating plant can be given lots of light and will consume your fish’s toxic Nitrogen waste. Six to eight neon green tetras are the best choice for schooling fish. They have a reflective blue-green stripe, so they can be seen even under ambient lighting. These tetras are shy and can grow to be as small as 3 cm (3 inches) in length. They’re also known for being red-orange and speckled, and only reach 1.25 inches (3cm) in length.

You may need to create a small hole in the water surface to drop micro pellets or other small foods. Then stir the water to make floating plants grow quickly. If the dwarf water lettuce becomes too dense, remove some of them to feed to your plant-eating animals (like turtles) or give them away to friends and local stores.

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. However, juvenile white cloud minnows may start to snack on their younger siblings, so make sure to fill the tank with tons of floating plants up top and dense mosses and plants on the bottom. 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.