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. The “Centerpiece Fish” Aquarium
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. The showcase fish in this instance is a gourami with a length of less than 3in (8 cm), such as a powderblue dwarf gourami (females tend to be more peaceful than the males), or honey gourami. 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. We recommend choosing smaller species such as six to eight panda corydoras and six to eight pygmy Corydoras, since they are fond of sticking together in the same species’ schools.
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. A high tech planted tank like this is generally recommended for more advanced aquarists since they are harder to balance, require more maintenance, and can quicky become a huge mess if you make a mistake. The active substrate and CO2 injection can make the water very acidic, which can cause death for your fish and beneficial bacteria. The nano aquascape is a rewarding project that can also be visually appealing if you are up for the challenge.
You should take the time to fine-tune the arrangement of the plants, rocks, or driftwood before you purchase 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.
You can control algae by getting small snails, red cherry shrimp, or amano shrimp. This will keep your plants’ leaves and hardscape looking great. The pygmy and habrosus corydoras dwarf cory catfish are great for cleaning up excess food. Just avoid any animals like Malaysian trumpet snails and kuhli loaches that like to burrow and may mess up your scape.
Although high tech aquascapes can be difficult to create, you will get better at it the more you 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 favorite fish for nano aquascapes. They are small and have bright red colors.
3. The Unheated Aquatic Aquarium
Do you want to set up an aquarium in cool water? Get a tank of fast danios to set up a cool water aquarium. As long as your room temperature at home stays between 67-80degF (19-27degC), there’s no need for an aquarium heater. These fun-filled torpedoes will always be a hit with children. Danios are widely available at pet store chains and local fish stores, and they come in many varieties such as 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 can swim around the aquarium but due to their hunger, they will eat from the surface of the water and take frozen bloodworms or flakes. 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.
Nothing is quite like seeing a tank full zebra danios feeding fervently.
4. The Livebearer Aquatic Center
Endler’s aquatic plants and livebearers will love a 10-gallon aquarium. Endlers can be described as a smaller version or guppy of their cousin, but they also come in many different colors and types such as N-class and tiger. 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. If you’re worried about overpopulation, you can always remove some adults to sell to your local fish store.
Endler’s livebearers will eat anything. Flake, pellets, frozen foods and even huge wafers are all acceptable. They are easy to care for and very resilient. If you’re looking for an easy aquarium that’s bursting with life and color, you can’t go wrong with a tank full of energetic endlers.
Endlers can be used in 10-gallon-sized tanks. They are small and have colorful patterns.
5. The Frog Tank
A tank filled with African dwarfs frogs could be a good option if you are looking for an aquatic pet other than fish. Although a single frog can be bought as a last-minute addition that looks intriguing, we recommend purchasing at least five to six. Pick the healthiest frogs at the pet store that are well-fed and have a slightly rounded belly. You should have a tightly fitting aquarium hood or glass top to stop them jumping out of the water. 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.
Because they are slow eaters, they won’t take to fast-eating fish as well. Good tank mates include larger snails, a clown pleco, or more African dwarf frogs (not the larger African clawed frog). You can see their webbed fingers waving things around in the tank. Don’t give them frozen foods that float, or shrimp pellets that break down quickly. Instead, feed them lots of meaty foods like frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, and live blackworms. 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, 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 was born from a small collection of dwarf water lettuce. If you give this beautiful floating plant lots of light, it consumes your fish’s toxic nitrogen waste from the water and creates long, bushy roots that look like branches in an upside-down forest. 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.
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-leaf becomes too dense, you can remove some to feed your plant-eating animals like turtles or give them away.
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 kinds of white cloud-mountain minnows: regular, long fin, and gold.
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.