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! You can find the best 10 fish species, both common and rare, in our list.


1. Brown Pencilfish

Let’s start with a top-dwelling species, which is difficult to find in a 10-gallon tank. Nannostomus, also known by the names hockeystick pencilfish and diptail penguin, can be found in a 10-gallon tank. Its mouth is pointed towards the surface while its tail dips downward at an angle. The nice thing about brown pencilfish is that they are relatively cheap compared to other pencilfish species, so it’s easier on the wallet to purchase a healthy school of at least five or six fish. As with most surface dwellers they are prone to jumping so an aquarium lid is essential to keep them contained. They have small mouths so they should be fed foods that are appropriate for their size, such as baby brine shrimps, daphnia and Easy Fry. You can read the full article about pencilfish.

Brown or diptail pencilfish

2. Apistogramma

Apistogramma dwarfs cichlids are a great choice for breeding fish. A variety of species, including A. cacatuoides, A. agassizii and A. borellii are available at your local fish market due to their unique profile and colors. It’s easy to spawn them. All you need is food and a small cave or coconut shelter for them to lay their eggs. After hatching, the mother even cares for her young until they’re three to four weeks old. For more details, read our care guide on apistos.

Apistogramma cacatuoides

3. Lyretail Killifish

Aphyosemion Australe is another fun breeding project. Also known as the lyretail killer, orange australe killerifish, and golden panchax, it’s also fun to keep them. They are usually sold in pairs but you can keep one male and a few females. Although killifish are often avoided due to their aggressive behavior and short life expectancy, this species can live up three years. As with all killifish, they require a tight lid to prevent them jumping. They can also thrive in cooler temperatures without an aquarium heating unit. 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

What’s not to love about kuhli loaches? 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. As shyer, nocturnal creatures, they feel safer in groups of at least three to six, and their peaceful nature makes them perfect company for other community fish like tetras, rasboras, and even betta fish. 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. Cherry barbs are a bright and attractive addition to your 10-gallon fish tanks.

Female and male 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). They are easy to spawn in a tank that is only one species, as long as there is plenty of food and aquatic plants.

Golden White Cloud Minnows

7. Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Did you know you can keep African cichlids in a 10-gallon aquarium? 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. Like other African cichlids, they prefer higher pH levels and harder water. Because they are constantly changing their environment by digging holes in the sand, and then moving their shells with their teeth, shell dwellers can be very entertaining to watch. The babies will flourish if you give them plenty of food. Soon you can sell them or share their bounty with friends.

Neolamprologus multipleifasciatus

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. Put a group of six or more together (especially in a blackwater aquarium with tannins), and the brilliant sparkle from their scales will capture everyone’s attention, even from across the room. You might not be able to find them in your area, so you may try asking your local fish shop or ordering them online.

Microdevario kubotai

9. Fancy Guppy

Guppies are a wonderful addition to any aquarium. In our opinion, guppies are the perfect, peaceful fish for a 10-gallon tank. Guppies come in all colors, are excellent eaters and will eat every last drop of food in your aquarium. They don’t live long but they are a great source of life and will provide many more babies for you. You won’t regret feeding them, giving them hard water with minerals and keeping up with tank maintenance.

Fancy guppies

10. Dwarf Platy

Can’t get enough of adorable livebearers? You should get dwarf or teacup plates. They are about 1 inch in length and won’t grow as large as regular platies so a 10-gallon tank is not too big for them. Due to their insatiable appetite and ability to find hidden leftovers in the smallest cracks, platy fish are great cleaners. They are known for their unique mouth shape and have been known to eat algae. Although dwarf platies are not the easiest to find, their adorable size and vibrant behavior make it worthwhile.

Red platy fish

Want to see more Top 10 recommendations? To stay informed about the most recent articles, videos, events and other news, sign up for our newsletter.