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22 Great Fish for a 10-Gallon Tank (And How Many Can You Fit?)

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By Lindsey Stanton

celestial pearl danios

If you’re limited on space, then you’re likely limited to a small tank. If you only have space for a 10-gallon aquarium, then you are somewhat limited in what types of fish you can add to that tank. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have plenty of options. There are tons of types of fish that are small enough to happily live in a well-kept 10-gallon tank. It’s important to choose the right fish and to add the correct number to your 10-gallon tank to keep everyone happy and healthy.

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The 22 Greatest Fish for Your 10-Gallon Tank

1. Chili Rasboras

These tiny, brightly colored fish only reach around 0.5 inches in size. They are shoaling fish, so keeping them in groups is a must. They are peaceful and make great additions to a community tank. Chili Rasboras, also sometimes called Mosquito Rasboras, are rapidly increasing in popularity for small tanks, so they’re relatively easy to find.

How Many?: 6-15


2. Ember Tetras

Ember-Tetra
Image Credit: nektofadeev, Shutterstock

One of the smallest Tetra varieties, Ember Tetras stay smaller than 1-inch most of the time. They are an eye-catching orange color. These fish are shy if kept in shoals that are too small, but the larger the shoal, the more active they tend to become. They prefer densely planted tanks with driftwood that mimic their native environment of underwater tree roots.

How Many?: 6-12


3. Celestial Pearl Danios

Two-males-celestial-pearl-danios_Bos11_shutterstock
Image Credit: Bos11, Shutterstock

Rapidly increasing in popularity, Celestial Pearl Danios exploded onto the fish keeping scene just over 10 years ago. You may also see them referred to as Galaxy Rasboras. They have beautiful colors and markings that become more colorful with proper care and a low-stress tank environment. They typically stay smaller than 1-inch and are peaceful, shoaling fish.

How Many?: 6-12


4. Zebra Danios

zebra danios
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

These zebra striped fish are peaceful and extremely easy to care for, making them great beginner fish. Zebra Danios can reach up to 2 inches in length, but usually stay on the smaller side. They can be added to community aquariums due to their peaceful nature. They prefer densely planted tanks that allow for plenty of hiding places.

How Many?: 5-8


5. Neon Tetras

neon tetra
Image Credit: Kristiana Berzina, Shutterstock

Easily the most popular Tetra in the fish keeping world, Neon Tetras are bright blue, red, and silver, and are peaceful, active fish. They typically stay smaller than 1.5 inches, and they prefer densely planted tanks. They are hardy and great for beginners. Their eye-catching appearance has led to some people referring to them as the “jewel of the aquarium trade”.

How Many?: 6-10


6. Cardinal Tetras

Cardinal tetra
Image Credit: chonlasub woravichan, Shutterstock

Cardinal Tetras are similar in appearance to Neon Tetras, featuring red and blue stripes, but their stripes run the length of their body, as opposed to the stripes on the Neon Tetra that cut off halfway down the body. Cardinal Tetras have separate care needs from Neon Tetras and tend to be more sensitive and difficult to care for. They are usually not recommended for beginners.

How Many?: 6-8


7. Beckford’s Pencilfish

Also sometimes called the Golden Pencilfish, these cute fish feature vibrant red coloration with black and gold stripes down the body. They are peaceful shoaling fish and typically don’t exceed 2 inches in length. They prefer a densely planted tank that provides plenty of shaded areas. However, they are surface feeders, so don’t allow floating plants to grow across the whole top of the tank. The more space these fish have, the more vibrant their colors will become.

How Many?: 5-8


8. Brown Pencilfish

These little fish have adorable, pointed snouts and are great for community aquariums. They are shoaling fish and are primarily nocturnal. During the day, you may see them hiding out in shaded parts of the tank. Ensure the tank has plenty of plant cover to provide them shade during the daytime. At night, they will likely become more active, especially in large enough groups. They typically stay below 2 inches in length.

How Many?: 6-10


9. Green Neon Rasboras

You may also see these fish referred to as Kubotai Rasboras. They are similar in appearance to Chili Rasboras, but they feature bright, neon green areas on the body. They rarely exceed 0.75 inches in length and are exceptionally peaceful. These tiny fish are great for community tanks with other small fish. They can be somewhat timid, but larger shoals will help them feel more comfortable and become more active.

How Many?: 6-15


10. Otocinclus Catfish

otocinclus catfish
Image Credit: Swapan Photography, Shutterstock

These little algae eaters rarely reach 2 inches in size. They are not true shoaling fish, but they do prefer to be kept in small groups of their own kind. Plan to keep at least four or five Oto Cats together to help them feel more secure. They are exceptionally good at eating algae and are very active, especially when they have company. Oto Cats are peaceful and great for community tanks with other laid-back fish.

How Many?: 4-8


11. Dwarf Corydoras Catfish

Dwarf Corydoras Catfish
Image Credit: Alice_Alphabet, Pixabay

These petite Corydoras usually stay below 1-inch in length, and, like Oto Cats, they are not true shoaling fish but do prefer to be kept with others of their kind. They are peaceful and will often begin reproducing in low-stress environments with high water quality. They have rounded, stout bodies, and are a good addition to community tanks.

How Many?: 4-8


12. Harlequin Rasboras

Trigonostigma heteromorpha2
Trigonostigma heteromorpha2 (Image Credit: Stefan Maurer, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)

These Rasboras have slightly taller bodies than the Chili and Green Neon Rasboras. They have a black triangular patch on the side of the body and are brightly colored orange red. They are peaceful, shoaling fish. Harlequin Rasboras grow to around 2 inches and prefer a well-planted tank with swimming space.

How Many?: 6-10


13. Guppies

lots of guppies swimming
Image Credit: underworld, Shutterstock

Guppies are active fish that are colorful and fun to watch. They typically stay below 2.5 inches. They reproduce readily and rapidly, so keeping single-sex tanks is the best option if you aren’t interested in ending up with hundreds of baby Guppies. These fish are peaceful but rambunctious, making them a poor option to keep with more timid fish. They prefer to be kept in groups of their own kind, and there should always be more females than males to prevent aggression between males.

How Many?: 5-10


14. Mollies

molly
Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay

Mollies are livebearers like Guppies, but they are slightly larger, growing up to 4.5 inches in length. They are not true shoaling fish, so smaller groups will suffice, although they do prefer to be kept with other fish of their own kind. They are active fish that are peaceful and social fish, so they’re good for community tanks but are best kept with other highly social fish that aren’t timid or aggressive.

How Many?: 4-6


15. Endler’s Livebearers

These live-bearing Guppy cousins are brightly colored fish that are active and bring a lot of energy to a tank. They usually stay below 1-inch in size and are peaceful community fish that are best kept with other energetic, peaceful fish, like Guppies and Mollies. They should be kept with other Endler’s but aren’t true shoaling fish. They reproduce rapidly, so single-sex tanks are a good idea if you want to prevent breeding.

How Many?: 5-12


16. Cherry Barbs

cherry barbs
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

Cherry Barbs are peaceful Barbs, unlike most of their relatives. They are beautiful shades of fiery orange and red, and their colors really come out when they are taken care of. Males competing for females will also enhance their coloration in an attempt to attract a mate. They usually stay below 2 inches and are curious fish. Cherry Barbs are known to be fin nippers with slow-moving tank mates, so keeping them with other energetic fish is a good idea.

How Many?: 3-5


17. Least Killifish

The Least Killifish is an unusual Killifish that is a livebearer. They are small, only reaching around 1-inch in size. These fish are hardy, making them great for beginners, and they are peaceful enough for community tanks. They can be a little on the timid size and need a densely planted tank to feel safe. They should be kept in shoals to feel safe and bring out the most activity.

How Many?: 6-15


18. Lyretail Killifish

These colorful Killifish typically grow to just over 2 inches in size. Males feature brighter colors than females, and both sexes are peaceful fish that prefer to be kept in small groups. They prefer a densely planted aquarium with lots of hiding places. They can be a little on the timid size and will likely not be happy in a tank with highly active tank mates. The Lyretail Killifish outlives many other varieties of Killifish, often living up to 3 years.

How Many?: 2-4


19. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

white cloud mountain minnows
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock

These cool-water fish are known for their iridescent green and pink scales. They also have attractive finnage and grow to around 1.5 inches. They are shoaling fish that become more active in larger groups. If the group is too small, these fish tend to be timid and less active. They are hardy fish in the home aquarium but are practically extinct in the wild now due to pollution.

How Many?: 5-6


20. Licorice Gourami

Licorice Gourami are beautiful, lesser-known Gourami with dark black on their bodies and bright markings on the fins. They can have stripes or stippling patterns on the body itself. They are underrated fish that are very eye-catching in an aquarium. They only grow to around 1.75 inches, and they are peaceful fish that keep to themselves. They don’t typically like to live alone and do best in pairs or very small groups.

How Many?: 2-3


21. Betta fish

Red Veiltail male betta inside aquarium
Image Credit: You Touch Pix of EuToch, Shutterstock

Betta fish are aesthetically pleasing fish that come in a variety of colors and patterns. The males have long, flowing fins, and they are known for their gill flaring and semi-aggressive nature. A single Betta can be kept in a tank as small as 5 gallons, and they are best kept alone. Sometimes, female Bettas can successfully be kept in sororities or community tanks, but they should be watched carefully for aggression.

How Many?: 1-2


22. Kuhli Loaches

kuhli loache
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

These cute, snake-like fish are extremely shy, and some people report not seeing them for days or weeks. They are nocturnal, so having nighttime tank lighting will give you the best chance of seeing Kuhlis out and about. They are less timid when kept in groups, and often will begin venturing out during the day when they have friends. They stay under 4 inches and prefer a soft substrate to burrow in.

How Many?: 4-6

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Why Does Size Matter?

When it comes to putting appropriate fish in a 10-gallon tank, there are two considerations. The first is not just the current size of the fish, but the size they will grow to. The second is the size of the tank itself in relation to the size, type, and number of fish you’re adding. Even if you choose tiny fish, adding too many to the tank can create stress and set up a perfect environment for illnesses. On the other side of that, choosing a single fish that will get large is also setting you up for failure. You can’t put an Arowana in a 10-gallon tank and expect it to survive and live a happy life.

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In Conclusion

When it comes to 10-gallon freshwater tanks, you have lots of great options for fish to stock your tank with. Keep in mind that these fish keeping number estimates are roughly based on the listed fish being the only fish in the tank. If you intend to keep multiple types of fish in your 10-gallon tank, you’ll need to adjust the number of fish of each type that you introduce. Ensure you’re still keeping fish in appropriately sized groups to help them feel safe and live happy, fulfilling lives.

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Featured Image Credit: Bos11, Shutterstock

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