20 Best Fish for a 10 Gallon Aquarium
Posted by on 12/21/2023
10-gallon aquariums are great-sized tanks for both beginner and advanced hobbyists. Tanks of this size are relatively easy to maneuver and can quickly be broken down if you decide to rearrange your tank.
If you're looking to stock a 10-gallon aquarium, we're going to recommend 20 excellent freshwater fish options. Let's begin!
Table of Contents
Schooling vs Centerpiece
Before stocking your 10-gallon aquarium, you'll need to decide whether or not you're going to have a centerpiece fish or a small school. Both have pros and cons. Schooling fish will occasionally move in tight groups throughout the tank, while also providing a unique sense of scale to your smaller-sized tank.
Centerpiece fish on the other hand tend to have more vibrant coloration and display a wider variety of colors, patterns, and behaviors.
Regardless of whatever you choose, we guarantee you'll love either aquarium setup.
Our Top 20
Now that we've covered some stocking basics, let's dig into our top 20 list.
Hobbyists familiar with Ricefish may be surprised to see them so high on our list, but what these fish lack in size - they make up for in versatility. These fish are capable of thriving in cold water conditions, making them an excellent stocking choice for a variety of different tank setups.
Plus, due to their small size, you can keep a group of 6 of them in a 10-gallon tank.
Ember Tetras are quite small - adults will only grow to reach about .8 of an inch in length. Hobbyists will appreciate their orange appearance, resembling small embers swimming throughout the water column!
Blue Emperor Tetras
Next on our list is the Blue Emperor Tetra, a line-bred color morph related to the more common Emperor Tetra.
The fish is quite hard to find, and you'll likely need to track down sellers to find a group of these fish up for sale. If you can snag some, you'll be rewarded with their active personalities and beautiful colors.
Celestial Pearl Danio
Ever since their discovery in 2006, Celestial Pearl Danios have been a favorite among freshwater hobbyists. Their unique coloration and peaceful temperament make them the perfect freshwater addition. The fish hails from Myanmar, the same location that's resulted in other gorgeous species, such as the sought-after Sulawesi Shrimp.
Galaxy Koi Betta
Bettas are some of the most commonly seen fish in the hobby. It's no surprise that hobbyists from across the world have crossbred these fish to produce a wide variety of colors. One of the most popular is the Galaxy Koi Betta, a name given to any Betta splendens fish that features a unique "galactic" color pattern.
Rocket Clown Killifish
Take one look at a Rocket Clown Killifish and it's easy to understand how the species received its common name. With a tail resembling the appearance of a rocket, Rocket Clown Killifish are gorgeous fish, constantly swimming near the water's surface to track down food they can eat with their upturned mouths.
One of the most adorable fish on this list has to be the Bumblebee Goby. While the fish can be quite hard to find for sale, its appearance is nothing short of stunning. The fish features an upturned mouth and stripes that resemble a bumblebee.
Similar to the betta fish, the Bumblebee Goby is considered a centerpiece fish, and hobbyists will easily appreciate all that this fish has to offer.
While we frequently see Puffers recommended for Brackish and Saltwater Aquariums, freshwater hobbyists can experience the joy of owning one of these fish by acquiring a dwarf puffer.
These fish are known for their erratic swimming behavior and comical appearance, and hobbyists who own a 10-gallon tank can house up to 3 of them at once. These fish will be the center of attention in an aquarium setup, easily making them a go-to centerpiece fish.
Green Kubotai Rasboras
Kubotai are unique fish. Their all-green-colored bodies allow them to easily blend into an aquarium backdrop rich with foliage. We love these fish for planted tank hobbyists with plenty of red background plants.
Dumbo Ear Dark Dragon Guppy
With an almost unlimited amount of guppy strains available, one of our favorites is the Dumbo Ear Dark Dragon Guppy. These fish have been bred to have enlarged pectoral fins, and feature an exotic pattern on their tail fins.
Keep in mind guppies are live-bearing fish, and a male/female pair can easily result in plenty of offspring.
At 10 gallons, hobbyists can comfortably house a male and female, or 1 male and 2 female platies. Platies make for excellent beginner fish, and one of our favorites has to be the Bumblebee color strain.
Similar to guppies, platies are live-bearing fish, so keep this in mind before purchasing a pair. These fish are also closely related to swordtails and will readily crossbreed. Other than their propensity to breed, platies are a great choice for a 10-gallon tank.
Pygmy Sunfish is more of a general term. There are quite a few different species that are all categorized as Pygmy Sunfish.
While these fish can be hard to acquire, they're gorgeous fish to care for. Just keep in mind they have a relatively short life expectancy. Even when well cared for, they'll only live for a year or two in captivity.
Many of the most unique color strains of guppies trace back to Russia, and hobbyists looking to acquire some of the rarest guppies on earth should look for the Purple Moscow and Black Moscow color variants.
Guppies with this designation are vibrant and show a solid coloration throughout the body and fins of the fish. Hobbyists will have to pay a premium for them, but for some, the price will be well worth it. Once again, since we're talking guppies - always keep in mind they'll breed easily in captivity.
New to the hobby is the Bumblebee Otocinclus. These fish are incredibly rare and have an appearance that resembles the more common Otocinclus vestitus but with one exception. Bumblebee oto's display a striped color pattern, which is much more colorful compared to the all-gray color of the standard oto.
These fish will easily stand out in a 10-gallon tank. Hobbyists can keep up to 10 of them in a 10-gallon, and will also benefit from their algae-eating abilities.
Orange Speckled Mickey Mouse Platy
Next on our list is another platy known as the Orange Speckled Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse Platies are relatively common in the hobby, and their names pay homage to their tail markings, which resemble the face of Mickey Mouse.
This particular color variant displays a deep orange color with additional black spots that cover the fish's body.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow
Native to China, the White Cloud Mountain Minnow is a small, active fish that makes for an excellent 10-gallon tank addition. These fish are quite playful, often chasing one another throughout the tank.
These fish are also capable of living in cold-water conditions, opening up additional types of aquascape configurations for hobbyists.
Gold White Cloud Minnows
While the White Cloud Mountains tend to be more common, the rare Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnow displays a similar temperament, but an orange/gold coloration. If you happen to come across some of these minnows for sale, don't pass up the opportunity to add a few to your tank!
Green Neon Tetra
While Green Neon's tend to be a bit more blue than green in color, they make for excellent fish in a 10-gallon. These tetras are smaller than the more popular Cardinal Tetra and go through a dramatic color change once the aquarium lights turn on. At lights off, these fish can become nearly translucent.
Known for their reputation for being difficult to breed, rummy-nose tetras are unique-looking tetra. A small group of 5-8 of them can be kept in a 10-gallon tank, and hobbyists will appreciate their red-tipped noses.
When water conditions are poor, the rummy-nose tetra's red coloration will turn pale, a sign that you may be falling behind on your water changes.
Native to Mozambique, the Bluefin Notho is a gorgeous freshwater killifish. While females tend to be gray, males showcase a vibrant display of orange and iridescent blue.
Similar to the Rocket Clown Killifish, hobbyists will need a tight-fitting lid, as these fish are known jumpers. Males are known to show aggression towards other males, landing this fish in our centerpiece category.
That concludes our list of 20 of the best fish for a 10-gallon aquarium. Now that we've provided you with some options, which do you think you'll choose? While we reviewed quite a few, there are still plenty of more suitable options for a 10-gallon tank.
Did a fish you love not make the list? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to visit our marketplace where you can find these fish for sale by hobbyists just like yourself.