Best Fish For 10 Gallon Aquariums

10 gallon fish tanks are a common size choice for those who are just beginning to sail across the vast ocean of fishkeeping. 10 gallons offers ample space to support a variety of small fish, invertebrates, or frogs, yet it uses up only a fair amount of space.

Though being an ideal beginner fish tank, the variety of creatures that are ideal for this size is quite limited.

Suitable Fish for 10 Gallon Tanks

These fish can live through their lives in a 10 gallon tank and they will not likely grow more than 2” in length. Three ways of populating your 10 gallon fish tank are listed below, along with the most popular and ideal fish for such habitats.


Community aquariums are suitable for different species that can suitably cohabitate with each other. A community 10 gallon aquarium can hold as much as 12 individual fish, depending on the the kinds of fish.

• Gourami

FishTwo breeds of gourami, the Honey Gourami (Colisa chuna), and the Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila), are ideal for a 10 gallon tank because these do not grow more than an inch. Honey Gourami are very good colorful additions to your community tank. Sparkling Gourami are not colorful as the Honey, but are quite pretty too. They may even ‘croak’ or ‘sing’ when breeding. It is best to include a trio of gourami with only one male, for male gourami are known to be aggressive.

• Livebearer

Livebearers are distant cousins of guppies – they multiply fast, but unlike guppies they do not eat their own fry. Endler’s Livebearers (Poecillia wingei) and Dwarf Livebearers (Heterandria formosa) do not grow more than an inch and both are very colorful. Both breeds are ‘sociable’, as they can thrive with any other species of fish.


• Rasbora

The Dwarf (Boraras maculatus) and Emerald Dwarf (Microrasbora erythromicron) Rasboras are entirely peaceful shoaling fish (meaning they often swim in small groups or ‘schools’). Rasboras are known for their prominently red gills and while the Dwarf has a huge black dot along its lateral line, the Emerald dwarf has several vertical stripes that run across its sides. These do on grow larger than 1.5 ” and can be grouped as many as 6.

• Siamese Fighting Fish

Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens), or Betta (male) are suitable to patrol around the 10 gallon fish tank, while small bottom dwellers swim below. A single male can also thrive with up to 6 female Bettas (males cannot cohabitate with each other. They are dubbed ‘Fighting’ for a reason). They should never be joined by Gouramis, for Gouramis are known to be nippy.



Species specific fish tanks are not meant to mix a species with other species as it may cause some dispute or these fish may require unique living conditions.

• Butterfly Fish

The African Butterfly Fish (Pantodon buchholzi) cannot cohabitate with any other species because this fish is known to be a carnivorous hunter. It has a remarkably large mouth that can swallow any other smaller fish. It also is a very good jumper, so a tight lid is necessary. Its very unusual appearance (a hybrid between a Lionfish and an elaborate Moth) makes it very interesting and vulnerable to nippy fish. It is best to be alone in the tank.

• Dwarf Puffer

These 1” long fish must not be underestimated because these are known to be extra aggressive. Dwarf Puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) are known to be able to kill fish bigger than them. A tank for 3 Dwarf Puffers should be well-planted, dense, and includes quite a lot of caves. Dwarf Puffers that often cross paths may cause disputes between each other.



Instead of keeping fish, marine invertebrates are good alternatives. They also require low maintenance and often are more elaborate and colorful than fish.

• Shrimp

Shrimps like the Ghost (Palaemonetes paludosus), Amano (Caridina multidentata), and the Red Cherry (Neocardina heteropoda), are small species that are highly sociable and can thrive with other large fish (except Gourami. Gourami may see them as food!). These shrimps have a more algae-based diet, so they won’t be out-competed for food.


• Red Claw Crab

Red Claw Crabs (Perisesarma bidens) are brackish water (a somewhat mixture of fresh and salt water) dwellers, and are better off alone. Joining one with other crabs may cause territorial disputes. Fish could also be a food source for the Red Claw Crab. It also needs some area out of the water or it may die.


Fish not suitable for 10 gallon tanks

Unfortunately, the ever popular goldfish cannot thrive in a 10 gallon environment. Goldfish will grow to a size unsuitable for the aquarium. The rule of thumb for aquariums is that aquariums should have at least a gallon per fish. The 10 gallon fish tank is not suitable for larger fish like Goldfish, Plecos, Mollies, and obviously, Arapaimas. 10 gallons is also too small for active fish like Neon Tetra, Zebra Danio, or Platy.

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