Cookie Cutter Setups for 10-Gallon Freshwater Aquariums
Everyone loves 10-gallon fish tanks because they are small enough to sit on a kitchen counter or kid’s bedroom dresser but big enough to give you many options to choose from. Whether you are interested in schooling fish, breeding fish, or oddball animals, there’s something for everyone. A majority of tropical fish will require a heater as well as a filter. Please refer to our 10-gallon aquarium checklist for help in choosing the right size. Then once your aquarium is set up and has begun the cycling process, take a look at our list of recommended combinations that you can mix and match.
10-Gallon Tank with a Centerpiece Fish
A centerpiece fish can be a fish with unusual or bright colors that really grabs attention. It’s often paired up with smaller schooling fish. A clean-up crew, which includes bottom dwellers as well as algae eaters, is a great way to keep your aquarium looking good. Pick one bullet point from each subcategory below to put together your ideal community tank:
Fish as a Centerpiece (pick 1)
Betta fish – Female powder blue dwarf gourami Honey gourami
Middle-Level Fish (pick 1)
6-8 neon tetras 6-8 green neon tetras 6-8 ember tetras 8 chili rasboras 4-6 Endler’s livebearers 6-8 white cloud mountain minnows 6-8 lambchop (or espei) rasboras 8 exclamation point rasboras
4-5 panda corydoras 6 pygmy corydoras – 6 habrosus corydoras – 6 hastatus corydoras 4 kuhli loaches – Malaysian trumpet snails
2 nerite shells – Bladder and Ramshorn snails. 2-3 Amano shrimp (may or not be compatible with Betta fish).
A 10-gallon aquarium should be equipped with six aquatic plants. These will beautify and purify the water, provide enrichment, and help the animals. You will be able to see every plant in your aquarium if you choose short plants for the front, medium and back. The majority of the options below can be used in low-light tanks. However, the plants marked * are best suited for high light tanks.
Foreground Flowers (pick 2 or more)
Marimo moss ball Moss Cryptocoryne parva Cryptocoryne lucens Anubias nana petite Bucephalandra ‘green wavy’ – Dwarf hairgrass* – Dwarf baby tears* – Monte carlo* – Micro sword*
Midground Tree Plants (pick one or more)
Cryptocoryne lutea Dwarf aquarium lily Anubias nana Java fern Scarlet temple Anubias golden – Staurogyne repens* – Hydrocotyle tripartita ‘Japan’*
Background Flowers (pick one or more).
Moneywort Water sprite Brazilian pennywort Water wisteria Bacopa caroliniana – Ammannia gracilis* – Mayaca fluviatilis*
10-Gallon Tank for Species
A community tank that houses many different species can prove to be less rewarding than one-species aquariums. This allows you to concentrate on breeding fish and observe unusual behaviors that are only found in single-species aquariums. It also makes it easier to care for animals with special needs or who require more attention. Select one of the following species to your 10-gallon aquarium:
Single Species Colony
A breeding pair or trio Gardneri killifish.
Most of these animals are easy to spawn in a colony setting, but if the adults are prone to predating on the offspring, make sure to provide plenty of hiding spots. We highly recommend using live plants with dense leaves or roots as shelter for the fry. Some species, like shell dwellers, enjoy digging. Therefore, plants that must be rooted into substrate may not work well for their aquarium. (All of the plants in the list below do not require substrate.)
Dense Plants to Breed
Pogostemon stellatus ‘octopus’ – Guppy grass Java moss – Christmas moss – Amazon frogbit Water sprite Water wisteria Java fern ‘Windelov’ Pearl weed
If you are designing a beautiful aquascape and want the emphasis to be on the plants rather than the animals, then a centerpiece fish may not be the right choice. Keep the eye on the hardscape and beautiful foliage by selecting a schooling fish in the upper portion of your aquarium. Bottom dwellers are for the lower part. A few algae eaters will keep the plants clean.
Middle-Level and Top-Level Schooling Fish
6 Endler’s livebearers 6 green neon tetras 6 cardinal Tetras 6 ember Tetras 8 chili rasboras 7-10 Chili rasboras 7 white cloud mountain minnows 1 zebra, 6 leopard, or blue daios 6 Endler’s livebearers 6 Endler’s livebearers 6 cardinal tetras 2 ember tetras 4 ember tetras 3 asetfish 6 clown killifishetfishetfishetfishetfishetfishetfishetfishetfish, 6 celestial pearl danios (1 male, 2 a)
Bottom Dolls (pick 1)
2 larger mystery snails – Malaysian trumpet snails – 6 rosy loaches 4-5 panda corydoras 6 pygmy corydoras – 6 habrosus corydoras – 6 hastatus corydoras – 4 kuhli loaches 2-3 scarlet badis
2 nerite snails – Bladder snails – Ramshorn snails 2-3 amano shrimp 3-4 otocinclus catfish
You should consider what type of aquascape you are going to use with your aquarium plants. Many of these designs may require you to get more than just six plants in order to accomplish your vision. Read this article to take a look at three different kinds of easy-to-build aquascapes for your next planted tank. As before, plants intended for higher light aquariums are indicated with an asterisk (*).
Anubias nana petite – Java moss – Christmas moss Cryptocoryne lucens – Micro sword*
Anubias coffeefolia Baby teas Dwarf sagittaria Dwarf aquarium Lilian – Cryptocoryne sndtii – Green and Red-Bronze varieties
– Amazon sword, red-melon sword or flame blade Anubias barteri moneywort – Water Sprite – Ludwigia Repens
Cookie cutters can be customized to fit your individual preferences. We have many articles that will help you create a 10-gallon aquarium.