8 Colorful Fish for A 10 Gallon Fish Tank
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
A 10-gallon is a favorite tank for many fish enthusiasts, especially those starting out, and while it may seem like a small space, there are still plenty of colorful fish choices for stocking this aquarium.
From vibrant tetras to flashy guppies, there are several ornamental fish to choose from.
For that reason…
…in this article, we will explore some of the most colorful and eye-catching fish suitable for a 10-gallon tank.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned fishkeeper, read on to discover your options.
1— Betta Splendens
Betta fish are undoubtedly one of the most colorful fish species for a 10-gallon tank. Their vibrant hues and long flowing fins make them a favorite of many fish enthusiasts.
From fiery reds to deep blues and purples, there is no shortage of color options, and above their bold shades, bettas are also available in various patterns, such as marble, dalmatian, and butterfly.
Male bettas are preferably prized for their large and more striking fins, but female bettas can also display stunning colors, including metallic shades of blue and green.
Female bettas also make better alternatives for aquarists who want a betta but are worried about the fish’s aggression.
Bettas are relatively small fish, typically growing to around 2-3 inches in length, making them perfect for a 10-gallon tank, which can comfortably house one betta fish.
However, it is necessary to note that despite their small size, bettas still require a well-maintained tank with proper filtration, heating, and water conditions.
Overall, betta fish can be a stunning and colorful addition to a 10-gallon tank. With a range of color options and unique personalities, and are sure to catch the eye of any fish enthusiast.
The ideal water conditions for betta fish are slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.5-7.5), a temperature range of 75-80°F (24-27°C), and soft to moderately hard water with a hardness level between 2 and 15 dGH.
2— Fancy Guppies
Fancy guppies are a popular and colorful fish type known for their striking colors, unique patterns, and long, flowing fins. These fish come in various colors, from bright yellows and oranges to deep blues and greens, and many have intricate patterns such as lace, tuxedo, and snakeskin.
One of the most distinctive features of fancy guppies is their fins, which can be pretty elaborate and ornamental.
Males, in particular, are known for their long, flowing tails and fins that trail behind them as they swim. Female fancy guppies, while less colorful and ornamental than males, can also have longer and more intricate fins than standard guppies.
In terms of size, fancy guppies are relatively small fish, typically growing to around 1-2 inches in length. This makes them an ideal option for a 10-gallon tank, where you can be kept a small group of 4-8 fish.
Fancy guppies are generally peaceful fish and can be kept with other small and non-aggressive species, such as neon tetras, cherry shrimp, and platies.
Avoid keeping fancy guppies with aggressive fish or fin-nipping species, as their delicate fins can be easily damaged.
Guppies thrive in slightly alkaline and moderately-hard water, with a pH range of 7.0-8.5 and a hardness of 10-20 dGH. Keep the water temperature between 72-82°F, which can be achieved with a sizable aquarium heater in your guppy’s tank.
3— Apistogramma borellii (Umbrella Cichlid)
Apistogramma borellii, also known as the Umbrella or blue dwarf cichlid, are fish that can be kept in a 10-gallon tank. The fish are native to the rivers and streams of South America and are known for vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and unique behavior.
The fish are available in various colors, including bright blues, yellows, and oranges, with many individuals having intricate patterns and markings.
Males are typically more colorful than females and can grow up to 3 inches long, while females are slightly smaller, reaching up to 2 inches.
Apistogramma borellii prefers slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.0-7.0 and a water temperature of 75-82°F. These fish are sensitive to changes in water chemistry, so ensure you maintain stable water parameters and avoid sudden fluctuations in temperature or pH.
These fish are territorial and can become aggressive towards other fish, so keep them in pairs or with other peaceful dither fish.
Umbrella cichlids require a minimum of 5 gallons of water to ensure adequate swimming space and good water quality. Therefore, keep a pair of Apistogramma borellii (1 male and 1 female) or a single fish with tiny, schooling dither fish.
4—Gardneri Killifish (Blue Lyretail)
Gardneri (blue lyretail) Killifish is a colorful and fascinating killifish species that can be kept in a 10-gallon tank. These fish are native to the freshwater rivers and streams of West Africa and are known for their stunning colors and patterns and tiny bodies (smaller than other Killis).
Gardneri Killifish are available in many colors, including blues, greens, yellows, and reds, with intricate patterns and markings. Males are typically more colorful than females and can grow up to 2 inches long, while females are slightly smaller, reaching up to 1.5 inches.
Gardneri Killifish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.0-7.5 and a water temperature of 72-78°F. These fish are relatively hardy and can adapt to a range of water conditions, but ensure you maintain stable water parameters and avoid sudden fluctuations in temperature or pH.
When setting up a 10-gallon tank for Gardneri Killifish, provide plenty of hiding spots and plants to create a natural and stimulating environment.
These fish are relatively peaceful and can be kept in pairs or small groups with tankmates of similar size and temperament.
However, note that male Gardneri Killifish can be territorial towards other males and may exhibit aggressive behavior towards them.
Killifish are also considered more challenging to keep than other fish species due to their specific water requirements and territorial behavior.
5— Rainbow Shiners
Rainbow Shiners, also known as the Notropis chrosomus, are a beautiful and active fish species that can be kept in a 10-gallon tank. These fish are native to freshwater streams and rivers of North America and are known for their vibrant colors and lively behavior.
Rainbow Shiners are typically silver with a bright orange stripe along their lateral line and a blue-green iridescence on their fins. Some individuals may also display red or yellow coloration on their fins or body. They are relatively small, growing up to 2.5 inches in length.
The fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5 and a water temperature of 68-75°F. Rainbow shiners are relatively hardy and can adapt to a range of water conditions, but it’s necessary to maintain stable water parameters and avoid sudden fluctuations in temperature or pH.
When setting up a 10-gallon tank for Rainbow Shiners, provide plenty of swimming space and a well-oxygenated environment. These fish are active swimmers that require a current or gentle water flow in the tank.
Rainbow shiners can be kept in groups of 6 or more individuals in a 10-gallon tank with other peaceful fish species of similar size and temperament.
Overall, Rainbow Shiners are a stunning and lively addition to a 10-gallon tank, with their vibrant colors and active behavior making them a popular choice for many fish enthusiasts.
With proper care and attention to their water requirements and tank setup, these fish can thrive and bring beauty and enjoyment to any aquarium.
They are considered relatively easy to keep compared to other fish species, like killifish, making them a perfect option for beginners or those looking for a low-maintenance fish.
6— Dwarf (Nano) Rainbow Fish
Dwarf rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox) are small, colorful freshwater fish native to New Guinea and sufficiently sized for a 10-gallon fish tank.
Dwarf rainbowfish have a striking coloration, with males being more brightly colored than females.
The males have a blue-green iridescent body with orange-red fins, while females have a more muted coloration with yellow-orange fins. Both sexes have a black spot on their dorsal fin and a series of horizontal stripes on their sides.
These stripes are more prominent in males and range from bright blue to dark purple.
Dwarf rainbowfish are a hardy species that can adapt to different water conditions but require specific parameters for optimal health. They prefer a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0 and a temperature range of 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 28 degrees Celsius).
Dwarf rainbowfish are a relatively small species, growing to an average length of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) in captivity. As such, they are suitable for a 10-gallon aquarium but are active swimmers and require plenty of swimming space.
A well-planted aquarium with open swimming areas will help keep these fish healthy and happy.
7— Red Tail Killifish
The Redtail killifish (Nothobranchius guentheri) is another small, colorful Killi that can be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium.
Redtails stand out for their vivid colors and intricate patterns. Males typically have more colorful and elaborate details than females, with shades of red, blue, green, and yellow. The fins of the males may also be adorned with striking patterns and colors.
These colorful fish are also on the smaller end of the spectrum for killifish, growing to a maximum of about 2.5 inches (6 cm) in length, making them an ideal choice for smaller aquariums like a 10-gallon tank.
Comparatively, Gardneri killifish (Nothobranchius gardneri) also boasts vibrant colors but are slightly larger than the Redtail killifish, reaching a maximum size of about 3 inches (7.5 cm).
Gardneri killifish are also known for their short lifespan, living for just one year, whereas Red tail killifish can live for up to 2-3 years with proper care.
Redtail killifish require slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5. They prefer a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C), with 78°F (26°C) being the ideal temperature.
The fish do not require any special lighting, but moderate light will help to enhance their colors.
A sandy substrate is ideal, as it mimics their natural habitat in the wild, and Redtail killifish enjoy hiding places, so providing plants and other decorations, like rocks or driftwood, is recommended.
8— Peacock Gudgeons (Goby)
Peacock Gudgeon is a unique and rare fish that can add a splash of color to a 10-gallon fish tank. This fish is native to Australia and is known for its bright and vibrant colors, ranging from red, orange and red with green, blue and gold splashes.
As with most colorful tropical fish, the males are particularly striking, with long and flowing fins that are often brightly colored. The females are generally smaller and less bright but still beautiful in their own right.
Peacock Gudgeons are relatively easy to care for but have specific tank requirements. They prefer a planted aquarium with lots of hiding places, so add plenty of plants, caves, and other decorations in your 10 gallon.
A sandy substrate is recommended, as this fish likes to dig and sift through the substrate in search of food. Your peacock gudgeons tank water should be slightly acidic, with a pH of around 6.5-7.0, and the temperature should be kept between 75-80°F.
One of the challenges of keeping Peacock Gudgeons is that they can be territorial and aggressive towards other fish, especially during breeding season. So, add them in a species-only tank or with other peaceful fish that won’t compete for territory.
Males can also be quite aggressive towards each other, so it’s necesarry to provide plenty of hiding places and territories for them to establish.