Top 10 Fish for A 10-Gallon Aquarium


Top 10 Fish for a 10-Gallon Aquarium

One of our most frequently asked questions is “What can I put in a 10-gallon aquarium?” When you’re surrounded by hundreds of freshwater fish at a fish store, the possibilities just seem endless! You can find the best 10 fish species, both common and rare, in our list.


1. Brown Pencilfish

Let’s start off with a top-dwelling fish, which can be hard to find for a 10-gallon tank. Nannostomus eques, also known as the diptail pencilfish or hockeystick pencilfish, is a fish that swoops down at an angle and points its mouth towards the surface. Brown pencilfish are a relatively affordable species. This means that it is easier for you to purchase a healthy group of five to six fish. They are more likely to jump than most other surface dwellers. To keep them in check, you will need an aquarium lid. Also, they have very small mouths, so feed them size-appropriate foods like baby brine shrimp, daphnia, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food. Our full article on pencilfish provides more details.

Diptail or brown pencilfish

2. Apistogramma

If you’re looking for fish to breed, a pair of Apistogramma dwarf cichlids (also known as apistos) in a species-only setup is a great option. A variety of species, including A. cacatuoides, A. agassizii and A. borellii are available at your local fish market due to their unique profile and colors. They’re also very easy to spawn; just provide lots of food and a little cave or coconut hut for them to lay their eggs. After hatching, the mother even cares for her young until they’re three to four weeks old. For more details, read our care guide on apistos.

Apistogramma cacatuoides

3. Lyretail Killifish

Another fun breeding project is Aphyosemion australe, also called the lyretail killifish, orange australe killifish, or golden panchax. Usually, they’re sold in pairs, but you can also keep one male with a couple of females. Many people steer away from killifish since some kinds are known for their aggressive behavior and short lifespan, but this beautiful species is calmer than most and can live up to three years. They need a tight cover to keep them from jumping and can survive in colder temperatures without the use of an aquarium heater. In a well-planted tank, it is possible to spawn the fry together with the parents.

Male and female orange australe killifish

4. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loaches are a wonderful choice. These oddball fish look a lot like eels and come in many different colors (including zebra stripes, black, and silver), and are great at finding food left over from other people. As shyer, nocturnal creatures, they feel safer in groups of at least three to six, and their peaceful nature makes them perfect company for other community fish like tetras, rasboras, and even betta fish. You’ll enjoy their wiggly, underwater noodles if you give them sinking foods such as Repashy gel, frozen bloodworms and community pellets.

Pangio kuhlii

5. Cherry Barb

Unlike many barbs, Puntius titteya is a very mild, friendly species that can be mixed with other community fish. These schooling fish can be purchased in groups of six or more and will stand out against the greenery of a planted aquarium. Plus, they readily breed and will lay their eggs in dense vegetation or spawning mops. Cherry barbs are a bright and attractive addition to your 10-gallon fish tanks.

Male & Female Cherry Barbs

6. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Tanichthys albonubes comes in regular and longfin forms, but our favorite is the golden type because of the way their yellowish-peach bodies and red fins stand out in a fish tank. This species is able to live in an aquarium that is not heated, making it ideal for classrooms or offices. They are also great tank mates with dwarf shrimps and even bettas, as long as there’s enough cover. As with many of the fish on this list, they’re very easy to spawn in a species-only tank, especially when given lots of aquatic plants and good food.

Golden white cloud minnows

7. Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Did you know you can keep African cichlids in a 10-gallon aquarium? These tiny shell dwellers measure between 1 to 2 inches in length. They live and raise their young in snail shells, which is their nickname. Like other African cichlids, they prefer higher pH levels and harder water. They are very entertaining because they constantly change their homes by digging pits in sand and moving the shells around with their mouths. You can provide enough food for your babies to thrive and you will soon be able sell them or give them away to friends.

Neolamprologus multipleifasciatus

8. Green Neon Rasbora

Because of its radioactive colour, this tiny schooling rasbora deserves more attention from fish keepers. The unusual color of iridescent green is rare in aquariums. If you have six or more of these fish in your aquarium, the bright sparkle from their scales will draw everyone’s eye. Although they may not be easy to find in your region, you can request them at your local fish market or order them from an online seller.

Microdevario kubotai

9. Fancy Guppy

If you haven’t owned guppies yet, you haven’t lived! In our opinion, guppies are the perfect, peaceful fish for a 10-gallon tank. Guppies come in all colors, are excellent eaters and will eat every last drop of food in your aquarium. These livebearers can live up to a decade, but the many babies they will give you more than makes up for that. Feed them well, give them hard water with minerals, keep up with your tank maintenance – and you won’t regret it.

Fancy pugpies

10. Dwarf Platy

Are you a fan of livebearers? Do you love dwarfs or teacup platies? They stay around 1 inch long and don’t get as big as regular platies, so a 10-gallon tank isn’t too small for them. Due to their insatiable appetite and ability to find hidden leftovers in the smallest cracks, platy fish are great cleaners. Because of their unique mouth shape, they’ve even been known to pull off and munch on algae. Although dwarf platies are not the easiest to find, their adorable size and vibrant behavior make it worthwhile.

Red platy fish

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