7 Best Fish Tank Ideas for A 10-Gallon Aquarium

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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”

A centerpiece fish refers to that one aquarium fish that really draws everyone’s attention because it’s usually the biggest animal compared to the other community tank mates. Our showcase fish will be a gourami less than 3 inches (8cm) in length, such as a honey gourami or powder blue dwarf gourami. (Females are more peaceful than their male counterparts). This brightly colored centerpiece fish has lots of personality and swims all over the aquarium, so it’s sure to stand out in the aquarium.

Consider surrounding the gourami in six to eight schooling nanofish that are a different colour. Consider adding orange ember totras to the gourami instead of putting it with red and blue neon tetras. Conversely, the yellow-orange honey gourami would look beautiful swimming amongst 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. Another peaceful bottom dweller would be corydoras catfish. 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 can be very gentle and brighten up any aquarium with their bright yellow coloration.

2. The Nano Aquascape

This aquarium is different from the previous one. It focuses on the cultivation of an underwater garden, with fish as side decorations and live plants as its main feature. We’re talking about a highly designed piece of art that most likely uses high lighting, carbon dioxide (CO2) injection, 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. Once you are happy with the arrangement and the plant selection, you can then choose aquatic animals to enhance the design. Aquascapes are often designed to imitate natural scenes like an underwater diorama. Consider adding nano fish, such as celestial Pearl Danios, chili Rasboras, or exclamation point Rasboras. These tiny fish look like a small flock of birds “flying”, in your miniature forest or mountains.

To control algae, you can get small snails or amano shrimp. The small cory catfish, such as the habrosus, pygmy, and hastatus Corydoras, are excellent for keeping your plants clean. They will also scour excess food to make sure you have a great crew. Avoid animals such as the Malaysian trumpet snails or kuhli loaches, which like to burrow and could cause damage to your scape.

While high-tech aquascapes are not easy to achieve, they can be achieved with practice. 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 popular fish for nano aquascapes due to their small size and bright red color.

3. The Unheated Aquatic Aquarium

Looking to set up a cool water aquarium? Get a tank of fast danios to set up a cool water aquarium. You don’t need an aquarium heater as long your room temperature is between 67-80degF (19-25 degC). 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 are most comfortable in groups of at least six fish. However, unlike schooling fish, they can be kept together with different types of danios. They will swim all around your aquarium but, due to their hungry appetites they will often eat from the water surface. You can also add Malaysian trumpet snails or mystery snails to the tank to help clean up any leftovers.

There’s nothing quite like watching the feeding frenzy caused by a tank full of lightning-fast zebra danios.

4. The Livebearer Aquatic Center

A 10-gallon aquarium is the perfect home for Endler’s livebearers and live 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. Livebearer fish are named this because they give birth within hours to healthy young that can swim freely and find food. 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 will eat anything. Flake, pellets, frozen foods and even huge wafers are all acceptable. 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

An aquarium filled with African dwarf frogs is a great option for aquatic pets that aren’t fish. Although a single frog can be bought as a last-minute addition that looks intriguing, we recommend purchasing at least five to six. 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. The tank can be decorated with ordinary aquarium gravel, plants, driftwood, or rocks tall enough to reach the top of the water. This will allow the frogs to peer out from the water.

They are slow eaters and won’t eat fast-eating fish because they are slow. 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. If you add java moss or other plants that offer dense cover, your frogs may start to exhibit breeding behavior like singing and “wrestling” with each other.

African dwarf frogs can be messy eaters, so it may help to get snails or a small pleco to clean up any leftovers.

6. Aquarium in the “Upside-Down Forest”.

This idea came about after we looked at some 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. Six to eight neon green tetras are the best choice for schooling fish. They have a reflective blue-green stripe, so they can be seen even under ambient lighting. These tetras can be shy so get a group outgoing rosy loaches. They only grow to 1.25 inches (3cm) long and are well-known for their speckled males and red-orange females.

You may need to create a small hole in the water surface to drop micro pellets or other small foods. Then stir the water to make floating plants grow quickly. 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. However, juvenile white cloud minnows may start to snack on their younger siblings, so make sure to fill the tank with tons of floating plants up top and dense mosses and plants 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.