7 Best Fish Tank Ideas for A 10-Gallon Aquarium

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. These 7 aquarium design ideas will inspire you to choose the right fish or to design your tank.


1. Aquarium with the “Centerpiece Fish”.

The centerpiece fish is an aquarium fish that draws attention to itself and other members of the community. 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). This brightly colored center fish will make a great addition to any aquarium. It swims around the aquarium and has a lot of personality.

Surround the gourami with six to eight schooling nano fish that have a different color. For example, don’t put the powder blue gourami with blue and red neon tetras, but consider adding orange ember tetras instead. The yellow-orange honeygourami, on the other hand, would look stunning swimming with a group neon tetras.

These tetras prefer to school in middle tanks so Malaysian trumpet and nerite squids are good options for filling in the lower layers. Corydoras catfish is another peaceful bottom dweller. We recommend choosing smaller species such as six to eight panda corydoras and six to eight pygmy Corydoras, since they are fond of sticking together in the same species’ schools.

Honey gouramis are very friendly and can pop in any aquarium.

2. The Nano Aquascape

Unlike the previous example, this aquarium focuses on growing an underwater garden with live plants as the main feature and fish as the 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. This type of high-tech planted tank is recommended for advanced aquarists. They are more difficult to balance and require more maintenance. Due to the active substrate, CO2 injection and pH increase, the water can become extremely acidic which can lead to fish death and harmful bacteria. If you’re up to the challenge, the nano-aquascape can be very rewarding and visually stunning.

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. Aquascapes often resemble scenes from nature, such as an underwater diorama. You might consider adding nano fish like celestial pearl daanios and chili rasboras to your aquascape. These tiny fish “fly” in the midst of your miniature forest, mountains like a group of birds.

You can control algae by getting small snails, red cherry shrimp, or amano shrimp. This will keep your plants’ leaves and hardscape looking great. 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 such as the Malaysian trumpet snails or kuhli loaches, which like to burrow and could cause damage to your scape.

Although high tech aquascapes can be difficult to create, you will get better at it the more you practice. Don’t get discouraged or compare yourself to professionals because their “perfect” aquascapes are usually unrealistic setups in which all the necessary equipment has been removed and the fish are temporarily added.

Brigittae (or chili rasboras) are favorite fish for nano aquascapes. They are small and have bright red colors.

3. The Unheated Aquarium

Are you looking to set up a cool-water aquarium? Then get yourself a tank full of speedy danios. As long as your room temperature at home stays between 67-80degF (19-27degC), there’s no need for an aquarium heater. These fun-filled torpedoes will always be a hit with children. You can find Danios at your local pet shop chains or fish shops in many different colors, including zebra, long-fin, leopard, blue and even Glofish danios.

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 will swim all around your aquarium but, due to their hungry appetites they will often eat from the water surface. On the bottom of the tank, you can add mystery snails or Malaysian trumpet snails to clean up any scraps that happen to make it past the danios.

There’s nothing quite like watching the feeding frenzy caused by a tank full of lightning-fast zebra danios.

4. The Livebearer Aquarium

Endler’s aquatic plants and livebearers will love a 10-gallon aquarium. Endlers can be described as a smaller version or guppy of their cousin, but they also come in many different colors and types such as N-class and tiger. Livebearer fish are named this because they give birth within hours to healthy young that can swim freely and find food. 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 spots. If you are concerned about overpopulation, you may be able to remove some adults and sell them to your local fish shop.

Endler’s livebearers eat virtually anything, such as flakes, pellets, frozen foods, and even giant wafers that they can nibble off. They are easy to care for and very resilient. If you’re looking for an easy aquarium that’s bursting with life and color, you can’t go wrong with a tank full of energetic endlers.

Endlers can be used in 10-gallon-sized tanks. They are small and have colorful patterns.

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? Although a single frog can be bought as a last-minute addition that looks intriguing, we recommend purchasing at least five to six. The best frogs to buy at the pet shop are those that have been well-fed and have a slightly round belly. You should have a tightly fitting aquarium hood or glass top to stop them jumping out of the water. For frogs that can reach above the surface, you can decorate your tank with aquarium gravel, plants and driftwood.

Because they are rather slow eaters, they don’t do as well if you put fast-eating fish with them. A clown pleco, larger snails and more African dwarf frogs are all good tank mates (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. Frozen bloodworms, live blackworms, and frozen brine shrimp are all good options. If you add java moss or other plants that offer dense cover, your frogs may start to exhibit breeding behavior like singing and “wrestling” with each other.

African dwarfs frogs are messy eaters. It may be a good idea to get snails and a small pleco for any leftovers.

6. The “Upside-Down Forest” Aquarium

We got this idea when looking at a bunch of dwarf water lettuce. This beautiful floating plant will grow tall and bushy roots if it gets enough light. It also consumes any fish’s toxic nitrogen waste. Six to eight neon green tetras are the best choice for schooling fish. They have a reflective blue-green stripe, so they can be seen even under ambient lighting. These tetras can be shy so get a group outgoing rosy loaches. They only grow to 1.25 inches (3cm) long and are well-known for their speckled males and red-orange 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 dwarf water lettuce becomes too dense you can either remove them or give them to friends and the local shops.

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. The juvenile white cloud minnows can be aggressive towards their siblings so ensure that you have plenty of plants at the top and lots of dense mosses 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 kinds of white cloud-mountain minnows: regular, long fin, and gold.

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.