Top 10 Fish for A 10-Gallon Aquarium

Top 10 Fish for a 10-Gallon Aquarium

One of our most frequently asked questions is “What can I put in a 10-gallon aquarium?” When you’re surrounded by hundreds of freshwater fish at a fish store, the possibilities just seem endless! Whether you like livebearers, cichlids, or killifish, check out our top 10 list of both popular and uncommon fish to help you discover a new species that you just have to try.


1. Brown Pencilfish

Let’s start with a top-dwelling species, which is difficult to find in a 10-gallon tank. Nannostomus eques is also called the hockeystick pencilfish and diptail pencilfish because of the way its mouth points toward the surface and its tail dips downward at a diagonal angle. Brown pencilfish are a relatively affordable species. This means that it is easier for you to purchase a healthy group of five to six fish. They are more likely to jump than most other surface dwellers. To keep them in check, you will need an aquarium lid. Also, they have very small mouths, so feed them size-appropriate foods like baby brine shrimp, daphnia, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food. Our full article on pencilfish provides more details.

Brown or diptail pencilfish

2. Apistogramma

Apistogramma dwarfs cichlids are a great choice for breeding fish. Because of their striking profile and colors, many species are readily available at your local fish store, such as A. cacatuoides (or cockatoo cichlid), A. agassizii, and A. borellii. You can easily spawn them by providing plenty of food and a cave or coconut hut to house their eggs. The mother will care for her children until they reach three- to four weeks after their hatching. For more details, read our care guide on apistos.

Apistogramma cacatuoides

3. Lyretail Killifish

Aphyosemion autrale, also known as the lyretail killifish or orange australe killifish and golden panchax is another great breeding project. They are usually sold in pairs but you can keep one male and a few females. Many people steer away from killifish since some kinds are known for their aggressive behavior and short lifespan, but this beautiful species is calmer than most and can live up to three years. Like many killifish, they need a tight lid to prevent jumping, and they can thrive in cooler temperatures without an aquarium heater. If there is a lot of moss and water sprite floating on the surface, then it is possible for the fry to be bred in the same tank as their parents.

Male killifish with orange australe females

4. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loaches are a wonderful choice. These eel-like oddball fish come in many colors (such as zebra stripes, silver, and black), and they’re experts at scavenging for any leftover food that falls into narrow cracks. They are shyer and more nocturnal than other fish, so they feel safer when they’re with others like tetras and rasboras. You’ll enjoy their wiggly, underwater noodles if you give them sinking foods such as Repashy gel, frozen bloodworms and community pellets.

Pangio kuhlii

5. Cherry Barb

Unlike many barbs, Puntius titteya is a very mild, friendly species that can be mixed with other community fish. You’ll be amazed how vividly the red hue of these schooling fish pops against the green of a planted tank if you get six or more. Plus, they readily breed and will lay their eggs in dense vegetation or spawning mops. The cherry barb is a vibrant and eye-catching addition for your 10-gallon fish aquarium.

Male and female cherry barbs

6. White Cloud Mountain Minnow

Tanichthys Albonubes can be found in longfin or regular form, but we prefer the golden variety due to their yellowish-peach bodies. This species is able to live in an aquarium that is not heated, making it ideal for classrooms or offices. Plus, their peaceful personalities make them ideal tank mates for dwarf shrimp or even betta fish (as long as there is enough cover). These fish are very easy to spawn in species-only tanks, especially if they are given plenty of aquatic plants and good food.

Golden White Cloud Minnows

7. Neolamprologus multiifasciatus

Did you know that African cichlids can be kept in a 10-gallon tank? These tiny shell dwellers are between 1 and 2 inches in length and, according to their nickname, live and rear their eggs in snail shells. They prefer harder water and higher pH levels, just like other African cichlids. They are very entertaining because they constantly change their homes by digging pits in sand and moving the shells around with their mouths. The babies will flourish if you give them plenty of food. Soon you can sell them or share their bounty with friends.

Neolamprologus multiifasciatus

8. Green Neon Rasbora

Because of its radioactive coloring, this tiny schooling Rasbora deserves to be given more attention by fish keepers. It is a rare color in aquarium hobby. A group of six or more fish, especially in a blackwater aquarium with tannins, will grab everyone’s attention. They may be hard to locate in your corner of the world, but you can always try requesting them from your local fish store or ordering them from a reputable online seller.

Microdevario kubotai

9. Fancy Guppy

If you haven’t owned guppies yet, you haven’t lived! Guppies make a great addition to a 10-gallon tank. They are calm and peaceful. They come in every color of the rainbow, regularly swim up to the glass to beg for food, and are great eaters that always polish off every last morsel in the aquarium. Even though they don’t live very long, these livebearers more than make up for it with the abundance of babies they’ll give you. They will be happy if you feed them properly, provide them with hard water rich in minerals, and keep your tank clean.

Fancy pugpies

10. Dwarf Platy

Are you a fan of livebearers? Do you love dwarfs or teacup platies? They grow to around 1″ in length, and they don’t grow as big as regular plates. A 10-gallon tank is perfect for them. Platy fish are amazing clean-up crew members because of their insatiable appetites and knack for finding half-buried leftovers in the smallest cracks. Because of their unique mouth shape, they’ve even been known to pull off and munch on algae. While dwarf platies can be difficult to source, their adorable size as well as lively behavior makes it worth the effort.

Red platy fish

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