Cookie Cutter Setups for 10-Gallon Freshwater Aquariums
Everyone loves 10-gallon fish tanks because they are small enough to sit on a kitchen counter or kid’s bedroom dresser but big enough to give you many options to choose from. Whether you are interested in schooling fish, breeding fish, or oddball animals, there’s something for everyone. A majority of tropical fish will require a heater as well as a filter. Please refer to our 10-gallon aquarium checklist for help in choosing the right size. Then once your aquarium is set up and has begun the cycling process, take a look at our list of recommended combinations that you can mix and match.
10-Gallon Tank with a Centerpiece Fish
A centerpiece fish, which is a fish with unusual or bright colors that really grabs attention of the viewer, is often paired up with smaller schooling fish. We also like adding a clean-up crew consisting of some bottom dwellers and algae eaters to help keep the aquarium looking nice. To create your ideal community tank, choose one bullet point from each category below.
Centrepiece Fish (pick 1)
Betta fish – Female powder blue dwarf gourami Honey gourami
Middle Level Fish
6-8 neon tetras 6-8 green neon tetras 6-8 ember tetras 8 chili rasboras 4-6 Endler’s livebearers 6-8 white cloud mountain minnows 6-8 lambchop (or espei) rasboras 8 exclamation point rasboras
4-5 panda corydoras 6 pygmy corydoras – 6 habrosus corydoras – 6 hastatus corydoras 4 kuhli loaches – Malaysian trumpet snails
2 nerite snails- Bladder snails- Ramshorn snails- 2-3 amano shrimps (may not be compatible avec betta fish).
We recommend starting with 6 aquatic plants for a 10-gallon aquarium. This will help to beautify the tank, purify water, and enrich the animals. Pick taller plants for the background and foreground to ensure you can see all the plants in the aquarium. While most of these plants are suitable for low light tanks (the ones marked with an *) work best in high-light tanks.
Foreground Flowers (choose two or more).
Marimo moss ball Moss Cryptocoryne parva Cryptocoryne lucens Anubias nana petite Bucephalandra ‘green wavy’ – Dwarf hairgrass* – Dwarf baby tears* – Monte carlo* – Micro sword*
Midground Plants (pick two or more)
Cryptocoryne lutea Dwarf aquarium lily Anubias nana Java fern Scarlet temple Anubias golden – Staurogyne repens* – Hydrocotyle tripartita ‘Japan’*
Background plants (pick 2 or more)
Moneywort Water sprite Brazilian pennywort Water wisteria Bacopa caroliniana – Ammannia gracilis* – Mayaca fluviatilis*
10-Gallon Tank for Species
It can be more rewarding to keep a single species of fish than to have a large tank. This allows you to concentrate on breeding fish and observe unusual behaviors that are only found in single-species aquariums. It also makes it easier to care for animals with special needs or who require more attention. Choose one of these species to fill your 10-gallon tank.
Single Species Colony
– Breeding pair or trio of Gardneri killifish (Fundulopanchax gardneri) – Breeding pair or trio of lyretail killifish (Aphyosemion australe) – Breeding pair or trio of red-striped killifish (Aphyosemion striatum) 3 pea puffers Breeding pair of Apistogramma dwarf cichlids – 5 African dwarf frogs (and maybe 1-2 larger mystery snails) 10 white cloud mountain minnows 10-20 cherry shrimp 6 fancy guppies (2 males and 4 females) – 6 Neolamprologus multifasciatus shell dweller 6 Neolamprologus similis shell dweller – Breeding pair of Lamprologus brevis shell dweller
This species is easy to spawn. If the adults are predating on the offspring then make sure you have plenty of hiding spots. As shelter for fry, we recommend living plants with dense roots or leaves. Be aware that shell dwellers love digging and may prefer plants that can be rooted in soil. (All the plants in this list don’t require substrate.
Dense Plants for Breeding
Pogostemon. stellatus. ‘Octopus’. Guppy grass Java. – Christmas. – Amazon. frogbit. Water sprite. Water wisteria Java. fern. ‘Windelov.’ Pearl weed.
A centerpiece fish is not the best choice if you want to create a stunning aquascape where the focus is on the plants and not the animals. Let’s keep the focus on the beautiful foliage and hardscape by choosing a schooling fish to fill the top half of the aquarium and bottom dwellers to fill the lower half.
Mid-Level to Top Schooling Fish (pick 1).
6 Endler’s livebearers 6 green neon tetras 6 cardinal Tetras 6 ember Tetras 8 chili rasboras 7-10 Chili rasboras 7 white cloud mountain minnows 1 zebra, 6 leopard, or blue daios 6 Endler’s livebearers 6 Endler’s livebearers 6 cardinal tetras 2 ember tetras 4 ember tetras 3 3-5 fancy guppies 6 marquinetfish, 8 d hatchetfish, 8 clown killifish, 6 celestial pearl danios
Bottom Dolls (pick 1)
2 larger mystery snails – Malaysian trumpet snails – 6 rosy loaches 4-5 panda corydoras 6 pygmy corydoras – 6 habrosus corydoras – 6 hastatus corydoras – 4 kuhli loaches 2-3 scarlet badis
Algae Eaters (pick 1)
2 nerite snails – Bladder snails – Ramshorn snails 2-3 amano shrimp 3-4 otocinclus catfish
When choosing aquarium plants, think about the aquascape style that you will use. Some of these designs will require that you have more than six plants in order for your vision to come to life. You can find three easy-to-build aquascapes to help you build your next plant tank in this article. As before, plants intended for higher light aquariums are indicated with an asterisk (*).
Anubias nana petite – Java moss – Christmas moss Cryptocoryne lucens – Micro sword*
Anubias coffeefolia Baby teas Dwarf aquarium Liliya – Cryptocoryne sndtii – Green and Red-Bronze varieties
– Red melon or flame sword Anubias Barteri Moneywort – Water sprite Ludwigia repens
Cookies cutters allow you to pick the fish, invertebrates and plants you want. However, if you’re looking for a more concrete set of stocking ideas, we have several articles to inspire your next 10-gallon aquarium.