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A 10-gallon fish tank is probably the most popular setup, especially with new fish keepers. However, it can get quite challenging considering its not the easiest to clean and maintain good water quality.
Therefore, any aquarist keeping fish in this setup, whether new or experienced, needs to know which fish to stock. Otherwise, it’s not uncommon to end up with a toxic tank and many dead fishes.
For this reason, this article will look at 10-freshwater fish species that you can comfortably maintain in a 10-gallon tank. Plus how many individuals of each species you should keep.
But first, below is a quick list of the ten fish we’ll look at:
- Neon tetras -Endlers
- Dwarf gourami
- Betta fish
- Harlequin rasboras
- White cloud mountain minnows
- Pearl danios
- Golden dwarf barb
- Pygmy corydoras
10 Freshwater Fish That Will Fit in a 10-Gallon Aquarium
Majority of the fish that’ll fit in your small aquarium are generally tiny in size and quite adaptable to a wide range of water condition. Plus others have special organs that help them thrive in little spaces.
#1— Neon Tetras
Neon tetras are small freshwater fish native to South America and famous for their vibrant colors and ease of care. They also are some of the most popular species amongst aquarium fish keepers.
Neons usually grow to an average size of 1.5 inches and have slender torpedo-shaped bodies.
Consequently, they will live comfortably in a 10-gallon fish tank, though your setup should be fully mature with stable water chemistry because neon tetras cant tolerate changes occurring during the startup cycle.
For best results, add the fish in soft-acidic water with a ph below 7 and a hardness of no more than 10dGH. To maintain the acidic ph and soften the water, add blackwater extracts or driftwood in your fish tank.
Also, be sure to maintain the water temperature between 68°F and 79°F.
A simple rule to follow when stocking neon tetras is a linear inch of fish for every gallon of water. Which means, a 10-gallon tank could hold a 10-fish school with each fish being an inch in length.
#2— Endler’s Livebearers
Poecilia Wingei, known to aquarist as endlers or Endler’s livebearers is are small fish native to Venezuela.
They are excellent breeders and often hybridize with guppies.
Endlers are also quite hardy and easy to care for beginner fish. Because of this, you can keep them in an aquarium as small as 10-gallons, but larger tanks are sometimes recommended due to their prolific nature.
The species only grow to an average of 1.8 inches which makes them more suited for smaller fish tanks.
You can keep Endler’s livebearers in a community tank, though their small size makes them vulnerable, so it also imperative to consider adding them in a species tank.
The fish prefer moderately-hard to very-hard water with the temperature anywhere between 66°F and 84°F and a ph of 5.5 to 8.0.
You should be able to keep up to 10-Endlers in your 10-gallon tank, but beware because of their reproductive rate, a simple pair could overfill the tank in just 60 days or maybe less. Especially if you are actively breeding them.
#3 — Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf gourami are brilliantly colored fish that are generally peaceful and suited for small-low-oxygen fish tanks because they have a labyrinth organ that helps them breathe above the water surface.
However, they grow to an average size of 3.5 inches, so there is only too many that can go inside a 10-gallon aquarium. Luckily, they are not a schooling species hence it’s not a must you maintain them in a group.
In which case, consider adding just one gourami in your 10-gallon tank together with a school of small peaceful fish or keep a just one pair of dwarf gourami.
The fish prefer a water hardness of between 4 and 10-dGH and a ph of 6.0 to 7.5. Impressively, this fish can tolerate a fairly high temperature sometimes up to 86°F.
However, dwarf gourami have moderate care needs and may be difficult for new hobbyist, therefore, are best kept by people with previous fish keeping experience and own a 10-gallon tank.
#4 — Betta Fish
This species doesn’t need any introduction because it is likely the most popular fish in the fish keeping hobby. The fish are famous for their brilliant colors and long-flowy fins and tail particularly in males.
Betta fish, like their gourami cousins, have a labyrinth organ, plus they don’t have a problem with living in solitary hence are perfect for a 10-gallon aquarium.
You can keep 3 to 5 betta fish in a 10-gallon tank, but make sure you don’t maintain two boys in the same tank because they get aggressive towards each other. However, should you want to have more than one male betta, use an aquarium divider to separate their territories.
Another common setup betta fish keepers love is a sorority tank where they only keep female fish because they are less aggressive and will mostly live together.
Maintain this fish in an aquarium with the temperature range between 75°F and 82°F, though they are known to survive temporarily at extremes of 56°F.
Betta fish are, however, affected by water ph levels thus the ideal range should be near or at a neutral ph of 7.
In case you want to keep your betta together with other tropical freshwater fish in a community tank, avoid brightly-colored species, fin nippers, and big-intimidating fish.
#5 — Harlequin Rasboras
Harlequin rasboras are small that are quite popular in the hobby and probably the most widely spread from the rasboras family.
They are native to South East Asia and are quite adaptable to a wide range of water chemistry.
A fully grown mature individual harlequin rasboras attain a standard length of 2 inches which means you can keep up to 6 fish in a 10-gallon, sometimes even up to 10 individuals.
The fish will live in an aquarium in water ranging from a ph of 6.0 to 7.8 and a hardness range from zero to 15dGH.
The temperature range for harlequin rasboras is mostly between 72°F and 81°F, but the fish breeds at around 84°F.
Harlequin rasboras are a shoaling species and should be kept in a group with a minimum of 6 fish, though shoals of larger numbers are preferable for the well-being of the fish and from an aesthetics standpoint.
In the fish tank you intend to add harlequin rasboras, you may want to consider having it planted making sure you leave some open areas for swimming between strands of plants.
Good species to use in a harlequins tank include cryptocoryne, Aponogeton, and Cabomba plants.
#6 — White Cloud Mountain Minnows
White cloud mountain minnows are a hardy species of freshwater fish that do well in both tropical and coldwater fish tanks.
They are native to China but are virtually extinct in this habitat due to pollution and tourism.
The fish grow to approximately 1.5 inches in overall length thus you can keep a school of slightly more than 6 in a 10-gallon aquarium.
They prefer water with the temperature anywhere between 64°F and 72°F. But will survive in water temperatures down to 41°F which makes mountain minnows ideal for beginners keeping fish in simple unheated tanks.
Moreover, the fish will be more active and healthier when kept at temperatures lower than most tropical tanks.
Your aquarium water hardness should be from 5 to 19 dGH, and ph level should range between 6.0 and 8.0.
White cloud mountain minnows are frequently used as an alternative of Neon tetras because they are more affordable hence the nickname “Poor Man’s Neon Tetras.”
#7 — Pearl Danios
Pearl danios are tropical fish belonging to the minnow family kept by aquarist, though not as common as other species. They are part of the larger zebra danio family but are among the smallest in the group growing only up to 2.6 inches.
The fish are native to Sumatra, Myanmar and Thailand hence prefer a tropical environment with water ph of 6.0 to 8.0 and a hardness between 5 and 19dGH.
The temperature should range between 68°F and 77°F.
According to Aquadvisor, you can have one dwarf gourami, 8-pearl danios and 5-cherry shrimp in a 10-gallon fish tank and be at 74 percent on your stocking levels, with plenty of filtration capacity.
However, you could go for 6-pearl danios to be safe.
#8 — Golden Dwarf Barb
Dwarf golden barbs are tiny, peaceful fish of the barb family that are easily confused with either gold barbs or gold-finned barbs.
They are native to Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and normally inhabit tropical waters with a 6.0 to 6.5 ph and a hardness of between 8 and 15 dGH.
They prefer the temperature to anywhere from 68°F and 77°F.
Dwarf golden barbs can grow in length up to 2 inches, so a couple of fish will fit in a 10-gallon tank. Usually, it’s recommended you add 4 to 5 golden dwarf barbs in a 10-gallon but make sure the fish are not cramped.
Your aquarium should also be heavily planted especially because these fish are eggs-scatterers.
#9 — Pygmy Corydoras
Pygmy catfish also called pygmy corydoras are a species of tropical freshwater fish that are native to the inland waters of South America.
The maximum length of the species is about 1.3 inches, though adults sizes are commonly 0.75 inches in males and 1.0 inches for females.
Because of that, a school of pygmy cory catfish can fit in a 10-gallon fish tank even without any special add-ons to a starter kit tank other than a filter if you don’t have one already.
The fish are also quite peaceful and can be kept in a community tank with other small fish species such as ember tetras.
Pygmy corydoras live in a tropical climate hence need to be kept in a heated aquarium in water with a temperature range of 72°F to 79°F, a water hardness of 2 to 25dGH and a ph of 6.0 to 8.0.
They are also best kept in groups of at least four individuals and will behave more naturally in larger groups of 10 or more. Unlike other cory fish, pygmy catfish swim in shoals around the midwater regions as well as lower regions in the aquarium.
#9 — Guppies
Guppies also called million fish or rainbow fish are one of the most popular and widely spread freshwater aquarium species. The fish are native to North-East South America and also found in small numbers spread around the world.
The size of guppies vary, but males are typically 0.6 to 1.4 inches long, while females are 1.2 to 2.4 inches long hence are perfect candidates for a 10-gallon aquarium.
Ideally, in your water, you can place roughly 7-adult guppies, but I’d recommend adding 5-adults in a 10-gallon fish tank to be safe. Though it will depend on your setup, filtration, substrate, and frequency of water changes.
Guppies prefer a hard water aquarium with a temperature between 78°F to 82°F. Interestingly, they can withstand levels of salinity up to 150 percent than normal seawater, which means they will live even in saltwater tanks.
The ph value found in normal guppies habitant is from 6.8 to 7.8, so its best to replicate this range in your fish tank although the fish is quite adaptable.
My Two Cents
All the fish mentioned above are good candidates for 10-gallon aquariums, especially for beginner hobbyist. However, once you’ve honed enough skill or if you have a long experience in fish keeper, there is an endless list of animal you can keep in your aquarium.
These include inverts like shrimp and snails, amphibians like African dwarf frog, lizards, snakes, crayfish and more. See this article by PetHelpful for more insight.
Hope you enjoy the hobby.