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. Here are 7 of our favorite aquarium setups.
1. Aquarium “Centerpiece Fish”
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. 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). The brightly-colored centerpiece fish is very distinctive and will be a focal point in the aquarium.
Consider surrounding the gourami in six to eight schooling-sized nano fish of a different colour. You might consider adding orange ember Tetras to your powder blue gourami, instead of using it with neon tetras in blue and red. 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. They are more likely to stick together in groups of the exact same species so we recommend smaller species, such four to six panda and six to eight pigmy corydoras.
Honey gouramis are very docile and have a bright yellow coloration that pops in any aquarium.
2. The Nano Aquascape
This aquarium, unlike the one before, focuses on creating an underwater garden. The main feature is live plants. Fish are side decorations. 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. High-tech, planted tanks like these are best for more advanced aquarists. These are difficult to balance, require more care, and can quickly become a mess if they make a mistake. Also, the water tends to become very acidic because of the active substrate and CO2 injection, which can be lethal to 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.
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. Because aquascapes are often intended to imitate scenes in nature like an underwater diorama, look at adding nano fish such as celestial pearl danios, chili rasboras, and 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 to keep your hardscape and plant leaves looking beautiful. Dwarf cory catfish – like the pygmy, habrosus, and hastatus corydoras – are also great clean-up crew members that will constantly scavenge for excess food. Avoid animals like the Malaysian trumpet snails, kuhli loaches and other creatures that love to burrow. They can cause serious damage to your scape.
It may seem difficult to make high tech aquascapes, but you’ll get better with practice. Don’t compare yourself to professionals. They often create unrealistic aquascapes that require all equipment to be removed and temporary fish additions.
Brigittae, or chili rasboras, are popular fish for nano aquascapes due to their small size and bright red color.
3. The Unheated Aquarium
Are you looking to set up a cool-water aquarium? You can get a tank filled with fast danios. As long as your room temperature at home stays between 67-80degF (19-27degC), there’s no need for an aquarium heater. These torpedoes pack a punch and are a big hit with kids. They are also great for beginners learning how to use them. There are many Danios available at local fish shops and pet stores. They come in a variety of colors including blue, leopard, long fin, blue, and even Glofish.
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. To get rid of any scraps left over by the danios you can put mystery snails or Malaysian-trumpet snails into the tank.
There’s nothing like watching zebra danios in their feeding frenzy.
4. The Livebearer Aquatic Center
Endler’s 10 gallon aquarium is the ideal home for his livebearers. 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. Because they give birth to young fish that are able to swim and find food in a matter of hours, they’re known as livebearer fish. 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 places. You can always take out some adult fish to reduce overpopulation.
Endler’s livebearers eat virtually anything, such as flakes, pellets, frozen foods, and even giant wafers that they can nibble off. They are very hardy and easy to care for, and yet they’re small enough to keep in a kid’s bedroom or on your office desk. A tank filled with energetic endlers is a great choice if you are looking for an aquarium that’s easy to maintain and bursting with color.
Endlers are perfect for 10-gallon tanks because of their small size, colorful patterns, high energy level, and ease of breeding.
5. The Frog Tank
If you want an aquatic pet that isn’t a fish, why not try an aquarium full of African dwarf frogs? A single frog may be purchased to add interest or as an afterthought. We recommend buying at least five to six. Pick the healthiest frogs at the pet store that are well-fed and have a slightly rounded belly. 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. You can decorate the tank with normal aquarium gravel, plants, and driftwood or rocks that are tall enough to reach right under the surface so that the frogs can perch up top and peer out of the water.
Because they are rather slow eaters, they don’t do as well if you put fast-eating fish with them. Good tank mates include larger snails, a clown pleco, or more African dwarf frogs (not the larger African clawed frog). They feed at the tank bottom by using their webbed hands to waft things into their mouths, so don’t give them flakes and freeze-dried foods that float or shrimp pellets that disintegrate 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 dwarfs frogs are messy eaters. It may be a good idea to get snails and a small pleco for any leftovers.
6. Aquarium in the “Upside-Down Forest”.
We got this idea when looking at a bunch of dwarf water lettuce. This floating plant can be given lots of light and will consume your fish’s toxic nitrogen waste. 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. These tetras can sometimes be shy so you might want to get a few outgoing rosy liaches. They are only 1.25 inches (3 cm) in length and are known for their red-orange males with 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 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.