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Best Fish for a 10-Gallon Tank

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The environment that your fish live in largely predicts how healthy your fish will be. Clean water, enough space, the right water parameters, and the right foods will keep your fish healthy and allow them to live a long life. Overcrowding your fish tank will cause poor water quality that leads to disease, stunted grown, and a short life. For a healthy aquarium habitat, think small when choosing the best fish for a 10-gallon tank.

Best Fish for a 10-Gallon Tank10-gallon fish tanks are a great way to get started in the aquarium hobby or bring aquatic life to a small space such as an office. However, smaller doesn’t mean easier. With a smaller tank you have to be more careful about not overstocking and doing water changes weekly. One general rule for stocking a fish tank used by many fish keepers is to limit the number of inches of fish to the number of gallons. So in theory, the 10-gallon fish tank can hold up to 10 inches worth of fish, or one single fish that’s 10-inches long. However, with such a small tank, the one inch of fish per gallon rule doesn’t always work out. For example, the freshwater angelfish grows up to 6 inches long, but these are active community fish that need a buddy and a 10-gallon tank is much too small to house even one angelfish with their exceptionally long fins. A fish this size would be stuck in one spot in such a small tank, conditions that are not appropriate for the angelfish.

When choosing your fish for a 10-gallong tank, take into consideration the size of the adult fish (cause that little baby will grow if healthy), how active the fish is, whether or not they need buddies, and the temperament as some will fight with others.

These are some of the best fish for a 10-gallon tank because they are small and peaceful:

rosy tetra photo

Rosy Fin Tetra

Several types of tetras do not grow to more than about 2 inches and can live in small swimming spaces. However tetras usually prefer be kept in a school, so in a 10-gallon tank, you wouldn’t want more than 4 to 5 tetras total or you will overcrowd the tank.

Some small tetra species to consider: black tetra, rosy tetra, blue emperor, red phantom tetra, and neon tetra.

Betta Fish

There are several betta fish that can be housed in a small aquarium, the most commonly known being the Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens). These often don’t grow to more than 3 inches in length, but two males will not get along. So although you could put 2 bettas in a 10-gallon tank per the 1 inch per 1 gallon rule, don’t put 2 males in the tank. Other bettas to consider include the emerald betta.

guppy photo


These livebearers are hardy in most any tank size if not overcrowded:

Guppies – adults reach 2 to 3 inches

Southern Platy and Sunset Platy – adults up to 3 inches

Sailfin Molly – adults reach 4 to 5 inches


Red rasboras, red-striped rasbora, and the fire rasbora only grow to about 2 to 3 inches long as adults.


Corydoras are catfish that tend to stay near the bottom of the tank. Many only grow to about 2 to 3 inches long such as the skin corydora, bronze corydora, and the brown and gold patterned Sterba’s corydora.

Although fish for a 10-gallon tank must be kept to a minimum, you can populate your aquarium with multiple species if you do keep the size in mind and temperaments in mind. For example, you could put 2 to 4 guppies in with a corydora or two for a total of 6 to 10 inches worth of fish.

Click here to see all the 10-gallon aquarium kits available on Amazon!

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