Best Fish for 10-Gallon Aquarium (Fish Tank Stocking Guide)

Guppy Multi Colored Fish

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So you want to start a fishkeeping hobby, have learned that a 10-gallon aquarium is the perfect starter tank for you, now one question remains:

“What are the best fish for a ten-gallon aquarium?”

With so many options and different requirements for each, you can easily get confused about which species is right for you.

To eliminate confusion and help you make the best choice, check out our list of the best fish for your 10-gallon fish tank.


Best Fish For A 10-Gallon Aquarium

small tank aquarium fish


1- Betta Fish

Betta fish (Betta splendens) is an extremely popular freshwater fish, perfect for socking a 10-gallon aquarium.

Bettas come in many colors and are great for beginners because they are easy to care for.

As a general rule, Betta fish are best kept in tanks with only other betta fish. Though some can be kept in a community tank with other species, such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Harlequin Rasboras, Ember Tetra, and Corydoras.


Aquarian fish Betta splendens


Betta Fish for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Water Temperature: 78° to 80°F

Max Adult Size: 6 inches


2- Dwarf Corydoras (Cory Catfish)

Peppered Cory Catfish

Another fish species you can consider best for a ten-gallon fish tank is Dwarf Corydoras, commonly known as “Cories”, catfish, or Cory Catfish.

Cory Catfish are bottom-feeding species that will play nicely with other fish. As they are schooling fish, they do best in groups.

The interesting thing about Cories is that they are not only fun to watch, but they are useful tank cleaners, as they clean up anything that finds its way to the bottom of the tank.

Still, you should provide them with sinking pellets just to be on the safe side. You’ll want to make sure they get enough nutrients.

Cories only grow to about 1-2 inches — perfect for your 10-gallon tank, so you should have no problem adding these funky little fish to your aquarium.


Dwarf Corydora for Ten-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 68° to 82°F

Max Adult Size: 1-2 inches


3- Guppies

Poecilia reticulata guppies

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are some of the most beginner-friendly fish as they are very easy to care for and there is less room for mistakes.

They are so easy to care for, in fact, that they can breed on their own without any extra help!

While this sounds great at first (who doesn’t want more fish?), the downside is that they can quickly overwhelm the tank.

You’ll wind up with far too many fish and run out of space.

If you choose to stock your ten-gallon tank with guppies, make sure you put only males or only females into the same aquarium.

As guppies are schooling fish, you must keep them in groups.

Therefore, if you have a ten-gallon tank, start with between five to ten guppies, all the same gender, and you’ll be all set!

Please note that guppies thrive in planted aquariums, so keep that in mind when you think of aquarium design.

Also, while guppies are generally peaceful fish, sometimes male guppies can be aggressive toward other male guppies if there are no females around.


Guppies for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Very easy

Temperament: Mostly peaceful

Water Temperature: 78° to 80°F

Maximum Size: 6 inches


4- Sparkling Gourami


Next, you may like the Sparkling Gourami, a beautiful, vibrant fish growing to only 1.5 inches in length.

The Sparkling Gourami thrives in small, densely planted tanks. They love hiding behind and underneath their plants, so make sure you have enough lighting in your aquarium both for the fish and the plants.

Make sure you have a quality LED light installed, and plan to keep it on for nine to ten hours per day for a healthy habitat.

The Sparkling Gourami are relatively peaceful fish but can be quite territorial. Males may have competition with other males and display aggressive behavior, but this is not always the case.

Another interesting thing about these fish is that they make a croaking or chirping sound when they are happy or mating. Keep that in mind if you prefer to only watch — and not hear — your new pet fish!


Sparkling Gourami for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Mostly peaceful

Water Temperature: 71.5–80.5°F

Maximum Size: 1.6 inches


5- Kuhli Loach

KUHLI pangio kuhli

Kuhli Loaches are small fish that come in various color combinations — even zebra-striped!

They are bottom-dwelling fish that scavenge for leftover food that falls to the bottom of the fish tank. Still, as with other bottom-dwellers, it’s good practice to drop sinking pellets into the water to make sure they get the nutrients they need to thrive.

Kuhli Loaches are rather shy creatures and feel safest in groups with other Kuhli Loaches.

They are peaceful fish, however, and play well with other community fish.

Since a 10-gallon aquarium is so small, however, it’s best to start with just three of these fish and see how things go.

The biggest downside is that these fish do take a bit more know-how to care for than some of your other easier breeds. They are very sensitive and are thus more susceptible to illness.

So if you’re a total newbie to fishkeeping, while the Kuhli Loach is a possible option, it may not be your favorite fish given other available fish types.


Kuhli Loach for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Intermediate

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 75 – 86 °F

Maximum Size: 4 inches


6- Neon Tetras

neon tetra

Neon Tetras are a popular freshwater fish, donning beautiful, distinctive blue and red striped color patterns.

Tetras are great for beginners, and also for your 10-gallon fish tank because they are very peaceful fish, have simple dietary needs, and adult fish max out at 1.5 inches in size.

Neon Tetras are schooling fish — meaning they thrive best in groups.

You can fit five or six Neon Tetras in a 10-gallon aquarium. Keep in mind they like a heavily planted environment, so include lots of aquatic plants in your tank to keep these fish happy.


Neon Tetras for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 70°F to 81°F

Maximum Size: 1.5 inches


7- Celestial Pearl Danios

galaxy rasbora danio

Celestial Pearl Danios are beautiful deep-blue metallic fish with jewel-like markings and orange bands on their fins.

These peaceful fish are great for both beginners and smaller fish tanks because they are relatively easy to care for and adults grow to a maximum of one inch in size.

Like other fish suitable for 10-gallon tanks, Celestial Pearl Danios thrive in well-planted aquariums and are schooling fish.

Since they are smaller fish (only growing to one inch), you can keep five to ten of these small fish in one ten-gallon tank.

If you plan to stock your tank with ten, make sure you keep it a species-only tank. If you stick to the lower end of the stocking recommendation, you could perhaps make it a community tank and add other tank mates, such as Tetras, Guppies, and Corydoras (Catfish).

While Celestial Pearl Danios are a peaceful species, males will become territorial if your tank is small with few hiding spaces. Smaller, less-dominant males may be attacked if you do not provide enough space for all of your fish.

Though Danios are relatively easy to care for, if you have a 10-gallon tank you may have issues providing adequate vegetation in such a small space.

While this fish is a good choice, there are even easier options. If you are just starting out you might consider Guppies or Tetras instead.


Celestial Pearl Danios for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Medium

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 73-79°F

Maximum Size: 1 inch


8- White Cloud Mountain Minnow

white cloud mountain minnow

The White Cloud Mountain Minnow (tanichthys albonubes) is a wonderful beginner fish that is perfect for a smaller tank.

This cold-water schooling fish is low-maintenance as compared to tropical fish. They thrive in a wide range of water temperatures so you don’t need to purchase an aquarium heater if you have only Mountain Minnows in your tank.

Furthermore, they are a hardy species, thus very unlikely to get sick.

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are an extremely peaceful species, making them perfect tank companions for other community fish.

However, keep in mind that you need on average two gallons of water per White Cloud Mountain Minnow. And these are schooling fish.

So, you likely won’t have enough room in your ten gallon aquarium to have enough Minnows and other fish as well.

Note that White Cloud Mountain Minnows tend to be a curious species.

Make sure you have a lid on top of your aquarium — these little fellows might go exploring and jump out!


White Cloud Mountain Minnow for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 64 to 72°F (don’t need an aquarium heater)

Maximum Size: 1.5 inch


9- Golden Dwarf Barbs

golden barbs - bright orange tropical aquarium fish

The Golden Dwarf Barb is another excellent choice for a ten-gallon fish tank because the max adult size is about 1.5 inches.

Golden Dwarf Barbs are schooling fish, best kept in a well-planted tank in groups of five or six fish.

These fish prefer lower than average temperatures, so you should keep the water between 64 and 75°F.

In the wild, Golden Dwarf Barbs are found in clean, slow-moving waters. So you need to provide well-filtered water with a gentle current, which can be achieved with an adequate power filter.

You can keep Golden Dwarf Barbs with other peaceful community species should you choose to upgrade to a larger aquarium down the line. But for a 10-gallon tank, you probably don’t have enough room at the start.


Golden Dwarf Barbs for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 64 to 75°F

Maximum Size: 1.5 inch


10- Cherry Barb

cherry barbs

Finally, the beautiful, red Cherry Barb may be a good option for you to consider for a ten-gallon fish tank.

The Cherry Barb is a mild, hardy species, which makes it great for beginners and experts alike.

Keep in mind that the Cherry Barb is another schooling fish. If not kept in a group, they are likely to be very shy and hide more often than not. Aim to keep at least five or six in your tank at a time.

Cherry Barbs also enjoy heavily-planted tanks, so make sure the aquatic environment is lush with many plants.


Cherry Barb for 10-Gallon Aquarium Cheat Sheet:

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Water Temperature: 73°F-81°F

Maximum Size: 1-2 inches



Questions & Answers

Betta fish, Siamese fighting fish with green plants


1- How many fish can fit in a 10-gallon tank? (The one-inch per gallon rule)

One of the most common questions aspiring aquarists have is how many fish can fit in fish tanks of varying sizes.

You may hear “one inch per gallon” as a general rule. While this rule applies to some species of fish, unfortunately, it is poor advice.

Different fish have different requirements and there is no single answer that works with all types of fish.

How do you decide how many fish to put in a ten-gallon tank?

Do as much research as you can about the fish you’re most interested in. Learn about their unique requirements and needs.

It does take a bit of effort on your part, but it’s well worth it in the end so that you can create the healthiest environment for your fish.


2- What is the best 10-gallon fish tank?

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Our #1 pick for 10-gallon fish tanks is the Aqueon 10 Gallon Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kit with LED Light.

This tank kit has everything you need to get started building your aquarium fresh out of the box.


The Aqueon Tank Kit includes the following:

  • 10 gallon glass aquarium
  • Low-profile hood with LED Light
  • Power Filter
  • Heater
  • Premium Fish Food
  • Water Conditioner
  • Fish Net
  • Stick-on Thermometer

Don’t like the Aqueon Starter Kit? Check out our full review of the top 10-gallon aquariums.


3- What is the biggest fish you can put in a 10-gallon tank?

Since a 10-gallon tank is so small, you will have a hard time finding any large fish that can comfortably thrive.

Many fish are schooling fish as well, meaning they only do well in groups of at least five or six fish of their kind.

So you may be able to fit one larger fish in a ten-gallon aquarium, but this fish is unlikely to do well alone.

If you are looking for the biggest fish you can fit, your best bet is probably going to be a single Betta fish, as Bettas can do well on their own.


4- What’s the easiest fish to take care of?

The most low-maintenance fish for beginners is the Betta fish.

Some people like to start with goldfish as well. And while you could technically fit two to three goldfish comfortably inside a 10-gallon tank, there won’t be enough space for them to grow and reach their full adult size.

Therefore, if you’re looking for the easiest fish to take care of, choose a Betta fish.




Finding the perfect fish for your 10-gallon fish tank does take a little bit of research and time to get right.

But if you spend a little extra time in the beginning, you can rest assured that your aquarium is stocked properly and both you and your fish can enjoy it for many years to come.

Good luck!


P.S. Don’t forget to check out our entire vault of fishkeeping tips & tricks!


Related 10-Gallon Fish Tank Articles:

Best Fish For A 10-Gallon Aquarium