10 Gallon Fish Tank Setup – Complete Guide

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Want to learn everything about the 10-gallon tank and its specifics? You want to have one but you don’t know the basics and how to set it up? You have come to the right place. Welcome to the complete guide of how to set up a 10-gallon fish tank.

In this guide we will take a look at why would you want to choose a 10-gallon tank, which fish species are suitable for an aquarium of this size, which filters and heaters would be the most appropriate, which substrate to choose to suit your fish, which tank to choose and also some maintenance tips that will help you along the way.

There is a lot of information to cover, especially if you are a beginner. Keeping everything together, setting it up properly and running everything optimally surely is a challenge that often confuses more advanced fish tank owners too. But once you get everything right, it can be so satisfying that you will want another aquarium and you will be a proud owner of a 10-gallon tank.

So without further ado, let us take a look at the complete guide – where to begin and how to maintain. There is a lot that you need to know about starting a 10-gallon aquarium, so let’s get started.

Why Choose a 10-Gallon Fish Tank?

If there is really so much work with such a small tank, why would anyone choose to have it in the first place?

Firstly, this aquarium size is perfect for you if you do not have plenty of space in your apartment or flat. It does not take too much space, so if you are short of it, this aquarium will be perfect for you, as it won’t take much space and it will liven up your tiny apartment and make it more friendly for you to live in.

Consider this tank size if you are a beginner, but remember that you will have to put a lot of work, time and money into it. It is often recommended to beginners because of its small size and convenience, but do not be fooled by it.

Expect to have a lot of work on your hands, especially if you want your tank to look perfect – not only in the beginning when you will be setting it up, but also after you have set it up. There is a lot of maintenance work to be done.

A 10-gallon fish tank will be recommended for you if you are on a budget and you do not want to spend too much money before you know if an aquarium is for you. It is budget-friendly and it will not cost you more than a larger aquarium, and you will not need to spend that much money after you have set it up to maintain it.

Fish Species You Can Keep in a 10-gallon Fish Tank

Choosing the right species for a 10-gallon tank is possibly the most important decision when it comes to small tank sizes. Some fish may suit each other better than others – some are peaceful, some are aggressive. That is why you want to choose peaceful fish together.

Also consider how much space each fish takes in the aquarium; there might not be enough space for all fish you want to put in the tank, hence it is best not to overstock the aquarium and choose the right fish.

– Guppy Fish

Guppy fish is one of the most popular for a 10-gallon tank, and for good reasons. They are small (1.2 inches to 2.4 inches), they are beautiful to look at, colourful, very peaceful and can coexist with other fish in the tank and they are quite cheap.

The guppy fish is very lively and likes to swim around a lot. They are happy if they are kept in groups, so if you want to get guppy fish for your tank, it is better if you buy more of them together. What makes them a good choice for a mixed tank is that they are peaceful and get along fine with other fish.

– Platy Fish

Platy fish are very good for beginner fish tank keepers, because they are a peaceful species with lots of pros and not many cons.

They will happily live with other fish that are peaceful, as they are too. They are mesmerizing, beautiful little creatures that will fit any set up, as long as they are not together with more aggressive fish. The platy fish are also not demanding – they are omnivores, which means they will eat anything and will not be picky about their food.

These fish prefer to live in small groups and they are quite active. Make sure that your aquarium has plenty of vegetation, because platy fish is an active swimmer and will use the surroundings to hide.

– Balloon Molly Fish

Poecilia sphenops, or the balloon molly fish, is a freshwater fish that prefer to live in tropical surroundings. This means you will probably have to use a heater, because these fish prefer warm water.

The balloon molly fish will coexist great with other tropical small fish – they are rarely aggressive towards other fish, which is why they are popular. They are also not very demanding – feed them flake food and they will eat it. Consider buying higher quality foods for this fish.

They come in all colors, which will make sure that your tank will be lively and colourful with the ballon molly fish in it.

– Sparkling Gourami

Do you want to liven up your aquarium and make it more colourful? Then the answer for you is get some sparkling gourami. Because these tiny little fellows will glow up your tank and make it attractive and mesmerizing.

The sparkling gourami is a fish that will live for up to 5 years, and it will grow to only about 1.6 inches. They prefer to live in freshwater with plenty of plants and obstacles. These fish have developed an interesting feature due to their environment – they can breathe with a special organ called the labyrinth organ.

In terms of maintenance, these fish are pretty easy to care for, as they will not choose their food too much. Also make sure that you do not put them with more aggressive fish in the tank, because the sparkling gourami will have trouble in that sort of environment due to their size. But other than that, this species is compatible with other peaceful fish.

– Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy corydoras is a fish that is very good for schooling. They make for a perfect choice for smaller aquariums with 2 or 3 peaceful species together. Why? Because they are peaceful, will coexist with other fish just fine, easy to care for and don’t take up much space. Above all else, they are very pretty and fun to watch.

They come from South America, so they do prefer a bit more tropical setting. They will strive in a bit warmer freshwater (22-25 degrees). They will not grow more than 1 inch, so they will not take up much space. They prefer to be in groups of 5 to 8, so make sure you don’t buy one pygmy corydoras alone.

In terms of diet and maintenance, they are omnivores and will eat anything. They are also easy to care for. There are plenty of reasons for you to get these fish.

– Betta Fish

The betta fish, or the Siamese fighting fish are best known for their beautiful fins and their colourful appearance. Although these fish can be put in a community aquarium if they are alone, it is not recommended that you put two betta fish males together, because they will fight.

As the name suggests, the male betta fish will fight amongst each other, but if you want to have two female bettas, that is ok.

As long as they are properly cared for and have sufficient space and enough food. In essence, the betta fish eat insects and larvae, but they are omnivores, so they will eat flakes too.

Betta fish will not do too well in a very small aquarium, but a 10-gallon aquarium should me more than enough for them. Just make sure they are cared for properly and they will be happy. Don’t forget to not put male betta fish together, though.

– Neon Tetra

The neon tetra is a small freshwater fish that comes from South America. They are very colourful and vibrant, so they are very popular for that reason, but also for many other reasons.

They are simple, peaceful and not aggressive, plus they are not demanding in terms of diet. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to put the tetra fish in an aquarium that is already established and where the water is not fresh or newly cycled, as it can kill them.

They will eat both plant based and meat based foods. What you want to buy is high-quality pellets, and that should keep them happy and fed. All in all, the neon tetra fish are a great choice if you are looking for peaceful fish that look beautiful.

– Harlequin Rasboras

The harlequin rasboras are a perfect fit for beginners. Why? Because they are beautiful, easy to care for and don’t demand too much in terms of diet. They are also peaceful fish and quite small (up to 2 inches). For those reasons, these fish are great for beginners with small tanks.

These fish have a silver body with orange fins, and they have a black patch in the middle of their body. They live up to 5 years, maybe even more, if they are properly cared for.

They will not cause you many problems if you keep them with other peaceful fish. However, make sure you don’t have any aggressive fish with them, as they will struggle to find their space.

They are omnivores, so they will eat from plant-based foods to meat-based foods. Just make sure that the food chunks are not too big, because the rasboras will struggle to eat them. Other than that, they are perfect fish for beginners.

– Celestial Pearl Danio

The celestial pearl danio are freshwater fish found in South East Asia. They have become very popular for many reasons.

Firstly, they are very beautiful, because they are very colourful and they have white spots on their body with red fins. These fish are timid, but they are peaceful and will do well in a community of peaceful fish. They will go well with guppies or tetras.

They are quite small (up to an inch) and they are omnivores. However, due to their timid nature, they will often hide or swim near the bottom of the tank, so they may struggle to get food at times.

If you feed them pellets, make sure you buy sinking pellets. They will also consume algae, zooplankton and other plants, and also frozen food like worms.

– Dwarf Oto fish (Otocinclus macrospilus)

The dwarf oto fish, or the otocinclus macrospilus, are native to South America. They are known as algae eaters, so if you have too much algae in your tank, consider getting the dwarf oto fish.

Besides that, they are easy to care for and maintain, so they are great for beginners. They will tolerate various tank conditions, and they will be useful for cleaning your tank. They rarely grow over 2 inches, so they are perfect for a 10-gallon tank.

Filter For 10-Gallon Fish Tank

Filtering of your aquarium is very important for the quality of the water in your tank, which will make a good environment for the fish to live in. So it is perhaps better to use bigger filters that your aquarium might otherwise require, to make sure that the water is perfectly clean.

A good filtration system if one of the most important aspects when you are setting up your tank, so make sure that you buy quality filters and maybe even larger filters than your tank would normally require. Here are some filters that you might want to check out.

Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter

As you may have noticed, this filter is a powerful filter that is suitable for even larger tank sizes, but would be a good choice for a 10-gallon tank.

The filter is great to make sure that the water is clean at all times, and is very versatile. It also makes sure that the operating costs are quite low. Consider this filter for setting your 10-gallon aquarium.

Aqueon Quietflow E Internal Power Filter

The Aqueon Quietflow is another great choice for beginner tank-keepers. It is easy to install, quiet and very effective at cleaning your water.

It is also quite strong, and it would also be suitable for a 20-gallon tank.


Heater for 10 Gallon Aquarium

A good heater is also essential for a good aquarium setup. Consider this heater below.


Choosing the Right Substrate

Consider to get the right substrate for the fish you have in your tank.


10 Gallon Aquarium Kits

Why would you want to buy an aquarium kit? It is a good choice for beginners to buy an aquarium kit, because you get everything included. You would be spared the hassle of buying everything on your own without knowing what the best combination might be. Here are some kits to consider:


How to Maintain a 10 Gallon Aquarium?

First of all, you need to make sure that the filtration of the tank is adequate. You want to keep the water fresh and clean. Make sure that you cycle the water to ensure that it is always clean and fresh.

If you have a lot of algae and dirty aquarium, consider getting some snails to clean it up. Snails can be a good friend of yours if you manage to keep their numbers in check.

Also make sure to keep the temperature in check, clean or change the gravel from time to time. These things are very important to keep the fish healthy and enable them to live longer.


If you want to become an owner of an aquarium, then a 10-gallon one would be great for you. These tanks, if you get everything right, will make for a spectacular sight.

Make sure that you get the right fish, chose the right filters, heaters and substrate and that you maintain the tank properly. Most importantly, be consistent about maintaining your aquarium.

When everything comes together, you will be a proud 10-gallon fish tank owner.

If you have any questions regarding this setup, feel free to leave a comment below.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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