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. If you’re not sure what kind of fish to get or how to design the tank, get inspired by 7 of our favorite aquarium setup ideas.
1. Aquarium’s “Centerpiece Fish”
The aquarium fish known as the centerpiece fish is the one that catches everyone’s attention. It’s the largest of the community tank mates and usually draws the most attention. 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.
You can surround the gourami by six to eight schooling, nano-fish of a different color. Consider adding orange ember totras to the gourami instead of putting it with red and blue neon tetras. In the opposite direction, the yellow-orange honeygourami would look great swimming alongside a group of neon Tetras.
These tetras tend to school in the middle of the tank, so if you’re looking to fill in the lowest layer of the tank, Malaysian trumpet snails and nerite snails are excellent algae eaters and scavengers. Corydoras catfish is another peaceful bottom dweller. Since they like to stick together in schools of the same species, we suggest choosing smaller species, such as four to six panda corydoras or six to eight pygmy corydoras.
Honey gouramis are very docile and have a bright yellow coloration that pops in any aquarium.
2. The Nano Aquascape
This aquarium, unlike the one before, focuses on creating an underwater garden. The main feature is live plants. Fish are side decorations. This piece of art is highly detailed and likely requires high lighting, carbon dioxide (CO2) injections, carpeting plants and careful placement of hardscape. These tanks are recommended for advanced aquarists as they can be more difficult to maintain, more expensive, and more messy if you make mistakes. 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. The nano aquascape is a rewarding project that can also be visually appealing if you are up for the challenge.
Make sure you take time to adjust the arrangement and selection of plants, rocks, driftwood, before you buy any animals. After you’re satisfied with the arrangement, you can select aquatic animals that will enhance the design without blending in with the surroundings. Aquascapes often resemble scenes from nature, such as an underwater diorama. You might consider adding nano fish like celestial pearl daanios and chili rasboras to your aquascape. These tiny fish “fly” in the midst of your miniature forest, mountains like a group of birds.
To control algae, you can get small snails or amano shrimp. The pygmy and habrosus corydoras dwarf cory catfish are great for cleaning up excess food. Avoid animals such as the Malaysian trumpet snails or kuhli loaches, which like to burrow and could cause damage to your scape.
High tech aquascapes may be hard to pull off, but the more you practice, the better your creations will become. 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 Aquatic Aquarium
Are you looking to set up a cool-water aquarium? Then get yourself a tank full of speedy danios. 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 torpedoes pack a punch and are a big hit with kids. They are also great for beginners learning how to use them. You can find Danios at your local pet shop chains or fish shops in many different colors, including zebra, long-fin, leopard, blue and even Glofish danios.
They do best in a group of at least six, but unlike many schooling fish, they seem to be fine even if you keep different kinds of danios together. They will swim all around your aquarium but, due to their hungry appetites they will often eat from the water surface. On the bottom of the tank, you can add mystery snails or Malaysian trumpet snails to clean up any scraps that happen to make it past the danios.
There’s nothing like watching a tank of lightning-fast Zebra Danios feed their animals.
4. The Livebearer Aquatic Center
Endler’s aquarium of 10 gallons is ideal for their livebearers, and aquatic plants. Endlers are like a smaller version of their cousin, the guppy, and they come in many colors and types, such as N-class, tiger, and black bar. 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. The adults can predate on their fry so make sure to add plenty of dense foliage, such as water sprite and javamoss, to give the babies hiding spots. You can always take out some adult fish to reduce overpopulation.
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. You can’t go wrong if you want an aquarium that is vibrant with color and life, but it’s simple.
Endlers work well in 10-gallon tanks due to their small size, bright patterns, and ease-of-breeding.
5. The Frog Tank
If you want an aquatic pet that isn’t a fish, why not try an aquarium full of African dwarf frogs? 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. Choose the best-fed, roundest frogs from the pet store. They may try to jump out of the water, so make sure to have a tight-fitting glass top or aquarium hood to prevent escape. 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 consume food at the tank’s bottom using their webbed hands. You should feed them plenty of meaty foods such as frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp. Your frogs might start to show breeding behavior if you give them java moss and other dense plants.
African dwarf Frogs can be messy eaters. To clean up leftovers, you might consider getting snails or a small pleco.
6. Aquarium “Upside-Down Forest”.
This idea was born from a small collection of dwarf water lettuce. This beautiful floating plant will grow tall and bushy roots if it gets enough light. It also consumes any fish’s toxic nitrogen waste. For the perfect schooling fish to swim amongst the fuzzy roots, get six to eight green neon tetras, which have a reflective, blue-green stripe that can be seen even in ambient lighting when the aquarium light is off. Because these tetras can be a little shy, get a group of outgoing rosy loaches, which only get to 1.25 inches (3 cm) long and are known for their red-orange males and speckled females.
Since floating plants propagate quickly, you may need to make a little hole at the water surface to drop some micro pellets (and other tiny foods) and then stir the water a little to make the food sink. 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. The juvenile white cloud minnows can be aggressive towards their siblings so ensure that you have plenty of plants at the top and lots of dense mosses 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.