Last Updated on November 19, 2022 by Matt

The 10 gallon fish tank is by far the most popular size of aquarium. Beginner aquarists are attracted to them as starter tanks, while experienced aquarists prefer them for breeding and quarantine tanks. These starter sized tanks are easy to look after, easy to filter and can house a variety of beginner fish. 

There are many different options available when you are looking for a new 10 gallon aquarium to start a new project. So how should you narrow down the options? What should you look for in a 10 gallon fish tank?

In this complete guide to the best 10 gallon tank we will go over the different product options that are available and the benefits and downsides of each. We will also explain how to set up your new 10 gallon fish tank, and what equipment you need to purchase. Not only this, but we will give you ideas for how to stock a 10 gallon tank, and also review our favorite 10 gallon fish tanks.

By the end of this article you should have all the information you need to go out and buy the best 10 gallon fish tank!


Best 10 Gallon Aquarium Quick View Table

Reasons to Get a 10 Gallon Tank

There are many reasons as to why a 10 gallon tank will be suitable for your needs. One of the reasons why they are so popular is that they are perfect size for a number of uses. 

At 10 gallons these tanks offer enough capacity to house a good number of fish, and are also suited to be a planted tank. Both rooted and floating aquarium plants can be used in a 10 gallon fish tank, though be careful that fast growing species don’t take over the space. For instance Betta fish plants need to allow room for them to breathe at the surface. Java moss is perfect for small tanks as it won’t overgrow the space.

As such 10 gallon aquariums are very popular amongst beginner aquarists, as they offer a chance to become acclimated with the hobby without having to get a huge tank. They are also small enough to be kept easily on a sturdy desk or table. Not having to get a specialist cabinet is a big plus point! 

10 gallon tanks are also easy on the wallet. There are many budget options available, and there are also many 10 gallon aquarium kits available which also contain a range of essential equipment. This equipment can include a filter, filter media, fish food, water conditioner, and LED lighting amongst other things.

Experienced aquarists often use 10 gallon tanks as a quarantine tank for when fish contract diseases. Infected fish are put into a separate tank to isolate them from the healthy fish population. The infected fish can then be medicated and treated without putting the healthy fish at risk. 

A 10 gallon fish tank is also very useful as a breeding tank. As 10 gallons is reasonably small for a fish tank, experienced aquarists often keep tanks of 100 gallons plus, the water chemistry can be easily altered to be perfect for specific fish to promote breeding. For example Indian almond leaves can be added to create a perfect breeding environment for Betta fish.

General Features of a 10 Gallon Fish Tank

Features of a 10 Gallon Fish Tank

In this section we will give a rundown of the general features you can expect of a 10 gallon aquarium.


Of course, the dimensions of a 10 gallon fish tank entirely depend on the type of tank that you get. For instance a standard tank is wider than it is tall to provide fish with as much swimming space as possible. 

Tanks like this in general measure around 20 x 10 x 12 inches.  

There are also portrait style 10 gallon tanks which are taller than they are wide. These tanks are generally better for shrimp and aquascaping tanks, or for breeding or quarantine tanks, as there is less space for fish to swim. Fish tend to stick to their area of the water column, not swim up and down. 

These tanks in general measure around 16 x 8 x 17 inches.


It’s very important to know roughly how much a completely set up 10 gallon fish tank weighs. After you don’t want to find the perfect spot for your new tank, only for the cabinet to not be able to hold the weight!

A gallon of water weighs around 8.33 pounds. Therefore 10 gallons weighs around 83.3 pounds. On average an empty 10 gallon tank will weigh between 5 and 10 pounds. If you use substrate you’ll probably end up using about 10 pounds worth, though it is easy to use more. You’ll also need all the equipment and decorations too, though these won’t weigh as much. Having substrate and decorations will displace some water, so you’ll end up using less than 10 gallons. 

In total you’re looking at a total weight of around 100 pounds total weight as a minimum baseline. 

10 gallon aquarium styles

There are a number of different styles available for 10 gallon aquariums. You will see how different brands and makes of these tanks have different designs. Some of the different designs you can find in a 10 gallon tank are:

Curved/moulded corner tanks: These tanks have curved corners to make it easier to look into the fish tank when at an angle. 

Rimless tanks: These tanks don’t have a cover or a hood. The sides of the aquarium seem to merge into the water surface, achieving a very sleek look. Not good for fish which jump though!

Bow/curved front tanks: In these tanks the front of the glass seems to bulge outwards. This enhances the ability to look inside the tank, and gives the appearance of the tank being larger than it is.

How to Choose a 10 Gallon Fish Tank

There are many things that you should be on the lookout for when buying a 10 gallon fish tank. In this section we will tell you the different properties that these tanks can have and the benefits and downsides of each.

Construction materials

Checking what materials a fish tank is made of is important in knowing what to expect from your tank. 

There are two types of material that aquariums are commonly made from. These are glass and acrylic. Both of these materials have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Glass is inexpensive, won’t absorb or release chemicals into the water column or become discolored by long exposure to sunlight. It will also cause minimal distortion to the visuals as you look into the tank. Glass is a hard material, and so is very resistant to scratching. The clarity will also remain the same over time; it won’t yellow at all. The downsides are that it is the heaviest of the three, and is most at risk of cracking or shattering if hit.

Acrylic is very lightweight and is still durable and strong. It can be moulded, unlike glass, so can be found in aquariums of different shapes to the norm. Acrylic can also be used for rounded edges, something which glass cannot do. However acrylic does cause some distortion on viewing the tank. It is also easily scratched, so you need to be careful. Acrylic can also become yellowed over long exposure to sunlight.


It might seem very obvious, but price should play a role in how you choose a 10 gallon fish tank. Don’t purchase anything outside of your means, and remember that if it is just the fish tank you are buying that you will need to further purchase essential equipment such as a filter and heater as well.

Included extras

Many 10 gallon aquariums come as a fish tank kit. These kits often come complete with equipment that fits the tank in question perfectly. 

Added extras can be a filter, LED lighting, heater, or air stone. Some 10 gallon aquarium kits even come with water conditioner, fish food, bacteria supplements, and test kits included as well. 

Purchasing a kit like this can make it a lot easier, as everything you need to complete setup is included. They can work out cheaper as a bundle as well.

Best 10 Gallon Fish Tank Reviews

Best 10 Gallon Fish Tank Reviews

1) Marina LED 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Marina LED 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit
  • 10 U.S. gallon glass aquarium
  • Includes a Marina Slim S15 clip on filter with quick change filter cartridges
  • Includes everything you need to get your aquatic home started
  • Measures: 20" L x 10" W x 12.5" H

The Marina LED Aquarium Kit is a brilliant starter 10 gallon tank. It is a complete fish tank kit; the filter and LED lighting are included, along with a host of other products to get you started. All you need to complete setup is the substrate, decorations, and a heater.

The filter that is provided is a very good quality Marina Slim S15 power filter. This power filter offers triple stage filtration to provide your tank with clean and clear water. Filter cartridges are used which makes maintenance and cleaning of the filter very easy. The cartridges are Bio-Carb and Bio-Clear filter cartridges. Activated carbon is found in Bio-Carb, while zeolite is found in Bio-Clear. Both of these cartridges also contain filter floss, as well as Ceramitek, which is highly porous to provide a large surface area for bacterial colonization. 

Energy saving LED lighting is pre-installed in the hood of the tank. These lights are designed to have a natural daylight effect. There is no nighttime or other option available with these lights, it is only on or off. Low-light requirement plants will be able to grow no problem under this lighting, but plants with more intense lighting needs may not do so well.

What is brilliant about this 10 gallon aquarium kit is that it comes with a host of extra goodies as well. You will receive a bottle of Fluval Aqua Plus Water Conditioner, Fluval Cycle Biological Supplement, and Fluval Max fish food. Water conditioner is essential in ridding tap water of dangerous chemicals such as chlorine and heavy metals. Fluval Cycle Biological Supplement is a brilliant bacteria supplement which introduces beneficial bacteria into your tank. This greatly reduces the cycling time of a tank, and also reintroduces the bacteria when you clean the filter and change the cartridges. Fluval max fish food is a great flaked food to start your fish on!

Not only do you receive all of this, but you will also get an Aquarium Care Guide that gives you advice on how to set up, maintain, and keep your fish tank and its fish healthy.

2) Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit
  • CONVENIENT FOR SMALL SPACES: The Radius Desktop Aquarium Kit is perfect for small or unused spaces: a desk, dresser, or even on top of the old file cabinet that hasn’t been touched in years. This frameless tank is made from finely constructed bent glass that’s 1/8” thick. At the front, it features 2 curved corners, allowing for unobstructed views from all angles.
  • CASCADE 300 INTERNAL FILTER: This 10 gallon aquarium kit comes with a Cascade 300 Fully Submersible Internal Filter. The filter cycles water at 70 Gallons per Hour, and includes a refillable Carbon Cartridge and an internal Bio-Sponge.
  • GREAT FOR BEGINNERS: The Radius Desktop Aquarium Kit makes for a simple and easy introduction to aquarium ownership. This kit is ideal for adults and children alike, and offers almost everything you need in 1 package!
  • CONTAINS ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU NEED: This kit includes the following: 10 Gallon Glass Tank, Glass Lid, Clear Mounting Clips, Cascade 300 Internal Filter (70 GPH), Silver LED Light, and Mat.
  • MEASUREMENTS: Overall = 17.75” (W) x 11.75” (D) x 12.5” (H) / Tank Water Volume = 10 Gallons / Filter Flow Rate = 70 GPH

With a unique bent glass design the Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit is a fantastic looking tank. It is perfect for beginner aquarists looking for a sleek tank with unobstructed views. This 10 gallon tank really does well as a centerpiece and talking point.

The tank itself is the highlight of this fish tank kit. It really does look incredible; the curved edges allow for a great viewing experience no matter where you are looking from. The clarity of the glass is also very high. Included in the kit is a foam mat to place the tank on which is very useful.

An internal cascade power filter is included which has mechanical and biological filtration. Unfortunately no chemical filtration is provided with this filter, but with regular water changes it should be ok for a 10 gallon fish tank. Just make sure not to over stock the tank.

A clear plastic lid is also provided which is hinged to allow for easy access to the tank. While this lid doesn’t stop much evaporation from occurring, it does stop your fish from jumping out! It also allows the light to come through. 

A clip on light is included in the  Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit. While this light does do its job, if you want to have live plants you will need to consider an upgrade. Unfortunately plants are unlikely to do well under this light. 

The good news is that for this price point, the tank alone is good value! Throw in the filter, hinged lid, LED light, and mat, and this fish tank kit is a bargain. 

3) Lifegard Aquatics Crystal 10 Gallon Fish Tank

Lifegard Aquatics Crystal 10 Gallon Fish Tank
  • ULTRA CLEAR CRYSTAL AQUARIUMS: Enjoy the view and give your fish a healthy environment with Lifegard Low Iron Ultra Clear Crystal Aquariums that feature a beveled edges, rimless glass and a complete back filter.
  • ULTRA CLEAR CRYSTAL AQUARIUMS: Enjoy the ultra-clear view and give your fish a healthy environment with Lifegard Low Iron Ultra Clear Crystal Aquariums that feature a complete back filter with a 103 GPH pump with flow control, sponge media, bio media, refillable carbon bio balls, directional flow jet, bottom drain or plug, beveled edges rimless glass and an insulation leveling mat.
  • GREATER WATER RECIRCULATION: This low iron ultra clear crystal aquarium is equipped with a bottom plug and/or drain to simplify maintenance and offer greater circulation and water flow.
  • COMPLETE AQUARIUM KIT: When opting for the Lifegard crystal aquarium, know that you get all the supplies you need including a Quiet One submersible pump, bio balls, carbon media, sponge filters, a side or back filter and a bottom insulation pad.
  • LIFEGARD Brand is YOUR GO-TO RESOURCE FOR AQUARIUM, POND & AQUACULTURE PRODUCTS: Lifegard Aquatics features an extensive line of high-quality aquaculture products that include fountains, pumps, bulkhead fittings and commercial aquatic and pond equipment. From crystal aquariums to full spectrum LED lighting, trust in Lifegard for all of your aquatic needs.

The Lifegard Aquatics Crystal 10 Gallon Fish Tank is a brilliant rimless glass tank which is perfect if you want to have full control over what equipment, heater, filter media, lighting etc, you install. 

It can be used without issue as either a freshwater or saltwater tank. A brilliant feature is the hidden back filtration system. Filtration media is included; a filter sponge for mechanical filtration and bio-balls for biological filtration. However we recommend getting more porous biological media for increased bacterial colonization, and the filter sponge could do with an upgrade. Chemical filter media definitely needs to be bought, but the point of this tank is that you can customize the filter compartment to suit your needs. What is useful is that a heater can fit into the pump section of the filter compartment, so you won’t have to look at an ugly heater!

The aquarium is amazingly clear; it is produced using low iron glass, which makes for unparalleled views into the tank. A real point of difference is the 45° angle that the seams are glued at. This allows uninterrupted views into the tank. The glue is invisible and won’t impede the view.

As we have said, only the filter compartment is included, with a pump to run the filter. The outflow nozzle is multidirectional so you can adjust the flow. Some media is included but it should probably be changed. Otherwise you have full control over what LED lighting to buy and install. This is useful if you are planning to have plants or corals as you can purchase lighting specially for plant or coral growth. 

This tank is rimless, and looks very sleek. However if you don’t like rimless tanks it is fairly easy to buy a glass or perspex cover, or to make one yourself!

4) JBJ Flat Panel Peninsula Rimless Desktop 10 Gallon Fish Tank

JBJ Rimless Desktop 10 Gallon FIsh Tank
  • 10-gallon All-in-one Aquarium
  • Equipped with Lyra 9w LED 2-color lighting fixture
  • Adjustable brightness
  • Comes with Clip-on Bio-filter ready for plug and play
  • Replacement Medias or Media Cartridges available and sold separately

The JBJ Flat Panel Peninsula Rimless Desktop 10 Gallon Fish Tank is another fantastic looking aquarium. With a clip on filter and LED lighting included it is a perfect plug in and go aquarium kit.

The clip on filter features space enough to provide triple stage filtration. There is space to incorporate a removable filter cartridge and removable biofilter. A brilliant feature is that there is a compartment in the filter to house an aquarium heater. Therefore as little space is taken up in the tank as possible.

The tank glass itself is produced using low-iron glass. This provides exceptional clarity for a crystal clear viewing experience. It is also raised up on a pedestal, which makes the fish tank look very professional and sleek.

A dimmable 2-channel LED light is included which accentuates horizontal aquarium layouts. For an aquarium like this which is designed to be viewed from either side this is a great feature. The two channels are white light or blue and white light. This gives you an extra layer of control. 

You will need to buy an aquarium heater, thermometer, and any other accessories you need, but all the major components are included in this great value 10 gallon fish tank kit.

5) BEGONDIS 9.5 Gallon Rimless Low Iron Glass Aquarium

BEGONDIS 9.5 Gallon Rimless Low Iron Glass Aquarium
  • 5mm crystal clear low iron optical glass, >91% Clarity.
  • Tank Dimensions: 17.7" L × 11" W × 11.8" H/ 45cm x 28cm x 30cm
  • Capacity: 9.5 Gal.
  • The 45° mitered edges are bonded together using high performance German silicone specifically designed for aquarium construction.
  • Premium quality, invisible glue joints for perfect viewing.

The BEGONDIS 9.5 Gallon Rimless Low Iron Glass Aquarium Tank is a brilliant fish tank if you want to set up the tank exactly how you want it. 

What you see is what you get with Landen aquariums; a thick, durable, low-iron glass tank that provides perfectly clear viewing. The transparency rating of the glass is over 91%.

This tank is 9.5 gallons, so very nearly almost at our 10 gallon fish tank target. You will need to purchase all the added equipment that tanks need; aquarium heater, thermometer, filter, LED lighting etc. However a good thing is that you have full control over the quality of the equipment you buy. You can ensure that each piece of kit is perfectly suited for the setup that you want.

There is also a black nano foam leveling mat to place the tank on to, to ensure that the aquarium is perfectly level and that there is no damage to the table or cabinet you have the tank placed on.

6) Fluval Flex Aquarium 

Fluval Flex Aquarium
  • Stylish Fluval Aquarium: Contemporary design with curved front and honeycomb wrap that conceals water line and filter compartment sides

The Fluval Flex Aquarium may only be 9 gallons, but it is too good of a fish tank to miss out on. 9 gallons isn’t too far off 10 anyhow! 

The curved bow front of the tank creates the illusion that there is more space in the tank than there actually is. It is also very modern, and will look fantastic in any home or office. The top cover has an opening which allows for easy feeding. Overall this is a brilliantly designed fish tank. 

Powerful triple stage filtration is provided by the hidden back filter. Oversized mechanical foam pads, activated carbon, and biomax biological filtration media are provided. This makes setting up your aquarium a breeze. A multi-directional outflow nozzle allows you to direct the 61 GPH flow where you would like in the tank. 

Perhaps the best feature of the Fluval Flex Aquarium is the incorporated LED lighting. The light is already installed in the hood of the aquarium. The lighting is great; 36 White and 3 RGB fully adjustable 1900 lux LED lights will be shimmering over your fish and plants, showing them off in all their glory. 7500K LED lamps work to promote plants growth, meaning the Fluval Flex Aquarium is perfect for use as a planted tank.

7) Fluval Evo 13.5 Gallon Marine Saltwater Aquarium Kit

Fluval Evo XII Saltwater Aquarium Kit, 13.5 Gal. – Saltwater Fish Tank with Reef-Capable LED, Efficient 3-Stage Filtration and Seamlessly Integrated Hardware
One of very few freshwater aquarium kits to incorporate brilliant illumination and multistage filtration with convenient aquarium features and contemporary design.

Another slight cheat on this 10 gallon fish tank list, the Fluval Evo 13.5 Marine Saltwater Aquarium Kit is technically 13.5 gallons. But considering that it is specifically designed for saltwater setups, and how good it is, we considered it close enough to include.

Fluval tends to do a great job on fish tank kits, and the Fluval Evo 13.5 Marine Kit is no exception. The LED lighting provided is amazing, as is the side compartment filtration unit.

The Fluval Evo 13.5 Fish Tank measures 22 x 11.5 x 15 inches, and the glass is highly durable and amazingly clear. 

Within the side compartment, hidden by a nice honeycomb matrix, is the powerful three stage filtration system. A foam filter block with a handle is provided, as is a BioMax insert and activated carbon insert. You can also customize the filter media as you like. While a heater and protein skimmer aren’t provided with this kit, it is designed with them in mind. Within the side compartment is space for a Fluval Submersible Heater and a Fluval Sea Protein Skimmer.

We have said the LED lighting is great, so let’s talk about it; super bright 14000K LEDs provide optimal conditions to promote healthy coral growth and color. It is also easy to switch between daylight and nighttime modes. 

How to Set Up a 10 Gallon Fish Tank

If you are a beginner aquarist it can be quite daunting to set up your first fish tank. But don’t worry, you’ve chosen a 10 gallon aquarium so you’ve got off to a good start!

Setting up your new tank should be a fun experience. To reduce your stress levels and make sure it runs smoothly we have put together the following section on how to set up your new 10 gallon fish tank.


What equipment is essential for your tank will depend on what setup you are aiming for. You can either have a freshwater or saltwater tank. For freshwater, you can either have a temperate or tropical tank, though tropical tanks are by far the most common. We will run through what equipment is essential for each type of setup.

Aquarium Filter: Absolutely essential for all tank setups. The filter will remove floating debris such as fish feces and excess food, as well as harmful compounds such as ammonia and nitrite. If the filter has chemical filtration it will also remove discolorations, odors, and organic compounds. For 10 gallon fish tanks often a HOB filter is best suited.

LED Lighting: Another necessity for all aquarium types. Many 10 gallon fish tank kits will come equipped with LED lighting. Normally this lighting is quite basic, but often they produce light to promote photosynthesis in plants. However if you are going to buy your own you can get LED lighting especially designed to promote plant growth, or ones which produce the light spectrum needed to promote coral growth, depending on whether you want a freshwater or saltwater tank. Read our guide on how to choose LED lighting for more info.

Aquarium Heater: An aquarium heater is essential in saltwater tanks and tropical freshwater tanks. They often have use in temperate freshwater tanks too, but this depends on what fish you want to keep and the ambient temperature of where you live.

Thermometer: It is necessary to keep an eye on the temperature of the water to ensure that you maintain the correct temperature. Therefore, an aquarium thermometer is essential in all tank setups.

Protein Skimmer: Protein skimmers are only essential for saltwater tanks. Freshwater tanks have no need for a protein skimmer to be installed.

Substrate: In our opinion, using a good substrate is a necessity for all tank setups, both freshwater and saltwater. In freshwater tanks substrate enables plants to anchor and grow their roots, while in saltwater tanks it gives the tank visual appeal and makes the fish feel at home. You can read our guides on best gravel for planted tanks and best sand for reef tanks for more information.

Air Stone: An aquarium air stone is a good idea for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. Air stones work to create bubbles in the tank, increasing aeration and water circulation. A 10 gallon fish tank is a little too small to warrant a wave maker or powerhead, but an air stone can be a big benefit.

Once you have all the essential equipment that you need you can begin to set up the tank. 

Adding substrate, plants, and decorations

Once you have bought all the equipment you need you can begin to put together the 10 gallon fish tank how you want it. 

First of all, make sure you know where you are going to house it! Once you start adding things to the tank it gets heavier very quickly, so it’s strongly recommended to set it up in its final position. 

Before you put the empty tank down, put a rubber mat on the table/cabinet surface, then place the tank on top of this mat. The rubber mat will help to ensure the tank is level, while also stopping the tank from sliding. 

Once the tank is in position you can add the substrate. Many substrates need to be rinsed before being used, to remove and dust and dirt. Wash and rinse the substrate in a bucket of water until the water runs clear. Empty and refill the bucket as many times as it takes for the water to be clear, trying to to drop the substrate in the process! It’s best to do this part outside if possible. Cleaning substrate this way is a little like rinsing rice or lentils!

Once the substrate is clean you can carefully put it into the tank. Rather than empty the bucket into the tank, you can use your hands or a cup to transfer the substrate; this lessens the chance of you accidentally scratching the glass. 

Now the substrate layer is there, you can add your decorations. Place them into the tank where you like. 

Now to add the water. First you need to treat tap water with a water conditioner. If you are going to have a saltwater tank you also need to add salt to reach the correct salinity. 

To add water to the tank with as little disturbance to the substrate as possible it’s best to gently pour a small amount at a time from a measuring jug onto a plastic lid placed on the substrate. 

Once you have a few inches of water you can plant and add any rooted aquatic plants you want, before filling the rest of the tank with water.

Cycling the tank

Cycling a new fish tank is a vital part of the setup. Without cycling a tank your fish will be submitted to new tank syndrome, which can easily kill fish, as ammonia and nitrite levels spike. 

To cycle the tank you need to first have everything in the tank as you want it, except for the fish. So have the substrate, heater, filter, plants, LED lighting, decorations etc installed. You can then fill up the tank with treated tap water. Treat tap water with a good water conditioner to remove chlorine, heavy metals, and other contaminants. 

Cycling a fish tank involves bacteria, and the nitrogen cycle. Essentially what you are doing is colonizing the biological filtration media and the substrate with nitrifying bacteria. This bacteria converts dangerous ammonia into nitrite. Nitrite is also very dangerous and poisonous to fish, but these bacteria also convert nitrite to nitrate, which is by far less dangerous. 

To enable this bacteria to successfully colonize the filter you should do a few things. 

The first is to turn on all the appliances, heater, filter, LED lighting etc. Once everything is running smoothly you have a choice in what to do. You can leave the tank to cycle by itself, though this may take a long time. 

The easiest and quickest way to cycle a new tank is to use aquarium bacteria supplements. These supplements, such as API Quick Start and Seachem Stability introduce the beneficial bacteria you need into the tank system. 

These bacteria need food in order to survive, thrive, and successfully colonize the biological filter. They need ammonia, so you need to dose the tank with ammonia drops, such as Dr Tim's Aquatics Ammonium Chloride

Test the water regularly for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. As the nitrifying bacteria grow in number, first the ammonia concentration will fall to 0, and the nitrite levels will rise. Then as other bacteria grow in number, the nitrite concentration will fall to 0, followed by a rise in nitrate levels. Once the ammonia and nitrite levels are stable at 0 parts per million, and the nitrate level is stable, ideally at less than 25 ppm, then your tank has finished cycling and is ready for fish!

Adding fish

Now that your tank has finished cycling, the water chemistry is stable to allow you to finally add your fish!

However you do still need to be careful. Fish produce a lot of waste. This waste decomposes and releases ammonia, and the fish themselves excrete ammonia as well. This extra ammonia can overwhelm the nitrifying bacteria if you add too many fish at once. Only add one or two small fish at a time. This prevents a buildup of ammonia which will cause ammonia poisoning.

Make sure the heater is set at a temperature which the fish need, and check the thermometer to make sure this temperature is met. 

Fish need to be acclimated to a new tank; float the bag at the top of the tank for 20 minutes. This allows the water that the fish is in to slowly reach the temperature of the tank. The fish also needs to be allowed to get used to the water chemistry. To do this slowly add a cup of tank water into the bag containing the fish every 20 minutes for an hour. 

After this the fish should be ready to be safely allowed to be placed into the tank to explore its new home. Use a net to gently remove the fish from the bag; try not to add the bag water as it may contain contaminants or have differing water chemistry to your tank.

10 Gallon Tank Live Plant Ideas

Finding the right live plants for a new aquarium can be quite confusing, so to take some of the guesswork out we have provided a list of some plants which will be perfect in a 10 gallon fish tank. 

Marimo Moss Ball: Marimo Moss Balls are a great addition to a 10 gallon fish tank, especially if you are thinking of stocking shrimp! Marimo moss is a low light plant, so is great for fish tank kits which don’t have powerful lighting. This plant isn’t actually moss, but instead is a tight cluster of algae. 

Marimo Moss 10 Gallon Tank

A shrimp searching for food on a marimo moss ball

Java Fern: Java Fern is another low light requirement plant and so is perfect for 10 gallon aquariums. They are very hardy and can tolerate a range of conditions, making them perfect for beginners. They can be attached to driftwood for a very unique effect!

Amazon Sword: Amazon Sword is a brilliant looking plant which can make your 10 gallon tank look more heavily planted than it actually is with its broad leaves. The downside is that the Amazon Sword is a medium to high lighting requirement plant. If you have a 10 gallon aquarium kit, make sure the lighting is strong enough.

Rotala Rotundifolia: Rotala Rotundifolia will provide a dash of color to your 10 gallon aquarium; the reddish coloration of the leaves provide a real focal point in any tank. Like the Amazon Sword, Rotala Rotundifolia has medium to high light intensity requirements, so ensure the lighting is strong enough.

10 Gallon Fish Tank Stocking Ideas

Stocking a fish tank can be a fun but daunting prospect. There are a multitude of fish species which are suitable for a 10 gallon fish tank, and there are also shrimp to think about as well!

In general, you can stock about 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. SO if you are thinking of small fish, this equates to 10 small fish. But remember that shrimps and snails produce waste as well, so if you stock these it will mean you can keep less fish.

In the following section we will give you a few ideas about the best fish for 10 gallon tanks

Betta Fish: Betta fish are stunning fish which are very colorful with long flowing fins. A 10 gallon fish tank is actually perfect for a single male Betta fish. The minimum size for a Betta fish tank is 5 gallons, so 10 gallons gives the Betta more room to swim and feel comfortable. Betta fish like low water movement and need the surface, or some of it, clear so they can breathe air occasionally. A 10 gallon fish tank will have enough room to allow you to have a shrimp or two with your Betta. They also need clean water, so a betta fish filter is needed.

Betta 10 Gallon Aquarium

Guppies: Guppies are perfect for stocking a 10 gallon fish tank. They are very colorful, vibrant, and lively, and are very easy to care for. Very unfussy fish, they are a favorite of beginner and experienced aquarists alike.

Guppy 10 Gallon Tank

Tetras: There are many species of tetra, including the Neon Tetra and Ornate Tetra. Tetras are small shoaling fish, and so are perfect for a 10 gallon fish tank. 

Danios: Another small shoaling fish, species in the Danio genus are very common and popular in aquariums. Species such as the Zebra Danio, Blue Danio, and Celestial Pearl Danio are all undemanding and perfect to stock a 10 gallon aquarium.

Zebra Danio 10 Gallon Tank

Dwarf Corydoras: Dwarf Corydoras are a brilliant and unique fish perfect for 10 gallon tanks. A small schooling catfish, they should be kept in groups of 6, but a 10 gallon tank will allow this without issue.

Platys: Platy fish are a slightly larger fish, but a 10 gallon fish tank will allow for a group of 5. Colorful and hardy, they will make a very interesting fish shoal.

Cherry Shrimp: A fantastically colorful shrimp, Cherry Shrimp make a brilliant addition to any 10 gallon aquarium. Shrimp are sometimes hard to spot in a tank, but due to their bright coloration this isn’t so for the Cherry Shrimp!

Cherry Shrimp 10 Gallon Fish Tank

Ghost Shrimp: Ghost Shrimp are very easy to care for and are another very cool addition to a 10 gallon tank setup. They are see-through, so can be hard to spot, but this is part of their charm.

Snails: Snails such as Mystery or Nerite snails can be great additions to a 10 gallon fish tank, as well as helping to rid the glass of algae. Be careful when adding snails though; you still need to abide by proper stocking rules. Snails produce waste the same as anything else!

Maintaining a 10 Gallon Aquarium

Maintenance is key to any successful fish tank. It doesn’t matter what size it is, if you don’t properly clean a fish tank then you are going to run into problems.

In fact, a major downside of smaller aquariums such as 10 gallon tanks is that it takes less time to become dirty, and less wiggle room in terms of water chemistry. A large tank has more water volume to ‘soak up’ dangerous compounds, so it takes more time for compounds to build to dangerous levels. In a smaller tank though the water chemistry can turn dangerous in a very short time frame.

To clean the fish tank properly, it is important to clean the water, the substrate, and the glass. 

An aquarium vacuum cleaner is vital in cleaning the debris from the substrate. A product like the python water changer removes debris from the substrate and also removes water for a water change. 

A 25% water change should be conducted weekly. A water changer can easily and quickly remove a quarter of the water. When replacing the water make sure it is the same or a similar temperature to the tank water. A sudden change in temperature can greatly stress the fish. The tap water also needs to be treated with a water conditioner to be made safe for aquarium use. 

You can use an aquarium glass cleaner to remove any algae growth from the sides of the fish tank. It is useful to do this before the water change as the water change removes the algae that then is floating in the water column.

If you are struggling with cloudy water, you can read our guide to cloudy aquarium water for how to fix this problem.


Hopefully this article on 10 gallon fish tanks has been informative and helpful. A 10 gallon fish tank is a brilliant way to get into fish keeping; not too small and not too large, a 10 gallon tank is just right!

You should now know what to look for in terms of construction and any additional equipment which is given with aquarium kits, so you can buy the best fish tank for you. 

Follow our quick guide on how to set up a 10 gallon fish tank, and you should do well! Read through our ideas on which plants would be good to have in your tank, and we also gave ideas on how to stock your 10 gallon tank. 

Let us know about your 10 gallon aquarium in the comments!

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Coral Realm

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