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Super Cool Fish for a 10 Gallon Tank

So you are interested in starting a 10 gallon aquarium but not sure what to stock in it. I can definitely help you with that. A 10 gallon tank is a nice size to get started in as long as you don’t over stock it. Just remember that less is more when it comes to stuffing living creatures into a small acrylic or glass container filled with water.

Here are some important things to consider along with what fish you will stock in your 10 gallon tank.

  • Do you want schooling fish or a few different species of fish?
    • If you want schooling fish that’s great. Schooling fish are very enjoyable to watch and take care of. Be aware that if you purchase schooling fish and they all look the same that is what you will be looking at for the life of the fish. If you buy schooling fish that come in different colors then you should be fine.
    • If you are leaning towards getting a few different species of fish that is when it gets to be more important to make sure you don’t buy a fish that is aggressive towards others.
  • How many hiding places will you have in your aquarium?
    • The more fish you have the more hiding places you will need to make available. Whether it is rock piled up or plants there must be locations scared fish can retreat to so they will feel safe.
  • How often will you have to perform regular maintenance on the aquarium?
    • The more fish you have the more food you have to feed the fish which means more opportunity of excess food in your tank. If you have live plants this also adds to the frequency of how often you will have to perform partial water changes as well as general cleaning and maintenance.
  • How big will the fish get that you end up purchasing (will they outgrow the tank)?
    • Even though when you buy your new pets they are most likely going to be super small you have to do some research and know how big the species of fish you end up getting will eventually grow.
    • If you have too much fish for your tank you will run into some issues with fish biting each other to levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate potentially rises to unsafe levels eventually killing the fish.
  • Don’t buy more fish than available tank space.
    • Until you are much more knowledgeable about the fish you are owning follow the general rule of one inch of fish per gallon of water in the tank.
    • Of course this isn’t a steadfast rule that if not followed will result in failure and death in your tank because some fish can live in a larger community with less space and other fish need more space with less fish.
    • For now just remember the one inch rule when you first start filling the tank.
  • The list I am providing is by no means an all-inclusive list. I will however list what I feel are the most widely available fish species at a local pet store near you and compatible fish for your 10 gallon aquarium.

So here we go whether you want a 10 gallon community tank, or a 10 gallon schooling tank below are some great selections. One more thing to note is that the fish species below are also selected because of the high chance there is that your local pet store will carry these fish.


Cory Catfish – Corydoras

Cory Catfish are super cute high energy bottom dwellers. These cute little guys will entertain you on a daily basis. Cory catfishCory’s eat food that ends up on the bottom of the tank as they are bottom dwellers however you shouldn’t count on them getting all of the proper nutrition just by eating up scrapes and excess food.

The Corydoras catfish is a non-aggressive fish so a great choice to live in a community tank. Cory’s do much better when you have more than one in a tank however they will survive just fine if you only get one.

These cute little guys typically grow to be around three inches long.


Neon Tetra’s

If you have ever been in a pet store or fish store most likely you have noticed these tiny little fish with their colorful bodies. Neon Tetras are mostly known for their blue streaks and tiny size. Neon’s are perfect for a small tank especially a 10 gallon size. Neon Tetra are schooling fish and with a 10 gallon aquarium if you had Neon’s only you could have a school of at least 10 fish because Neon’s will grow to about one inch. Remember the one inch rule? I think though as long as you had a top notch filtration system you could have a bottom dweller as well with the 10 Neon’s.


Fancy Guppies

Fancy Guppies are another fish species that you can have a nice size school in a 10 gallon tank. Fancy Guppies have very colorful fins that are a pleasure to watch as they play around. These Guppies like to swim in the upper portion of the tank so they will always be visible.

This is another great choice because you could select a small school of Fancy Guppies let’s say around five fish and combine them with let’s say five Neon Tetra’s which will give you so much color in the tank and a couple of very active schools of fish to enjoy.

A Betta Fish (Siamese Fighting Fish)

Now if you are new to keeping fish your first thought is hey don’t those fighting fish just need to be in a small bowl just like I see in the pet store?

My answer is no do not keep a Betta Fish in a small bowl. Just because the fish will survive doesn’t mean it is having a good healthy life. Ideally I wouldn’t want to see a Betta in anything less than a 3 gallon aquarium.  

If you were to buy a Betta for a 10 gallon tank you could plant live plants and the colors of your fish would just pop. You would also have an extremely happy and healthy fish. Now you might want to have more than one fish in the tank and that’s fine as long as you do your research to pick suitable mates for your Betta.

You could try a school of Neon Tetras which I listed above. Some catfish do well with Bettas as well. Please just make sure you research to get the right roommate for this fish. Another Betta is probably not a good idea. Chances are one of them will be aggressive especially if one is a male.

Glow light Tetras are Super Cool

Glow lights will do well in a small aquarium just like a Neon Tetra will. The cool thing about Glow lights is their body’s transparency. There is a little bit of a band of color in them but not much.

By Jim Zamichieli (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A small school of these fish swimming around in a tank that has darker gravel and or backing will help BBdisplay the beautiful see through bodies of this fish.

If you had some of these with Neon’s and maybe a Cory catfish you would have an active entertaining and beautiful tank to watch.



Best Fish for a 10 Gallon Tank Conclusion

There are many more, smaller fish and even invertebrates that would potentially do well in a 10 gallon tank. The fish listed here are very common, very active and very beautiful fish you can purchase and make a home for. You will not be disappointed.

I have a page of recommended aquariums that I want you to check out. There is a 10 gallon aquarium and other sizes as well. My recommended aquariums page.

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