10 Gallon Fish Tank Setup

10 Gallon Fish Tank Setup Guide

10 Gallon Fish Tank Setup Guide

A 10-gallon tank is trendy among fishkeeping enthusiasts. If you are on a budget or have small room for an aquarium, the 10-gallon fish tank setup will be perfect for your home.

The kit is often quoted as being ideal for beginners, not only because it is cheap, but since it is accompanied by other essentials to get you started.

The 10-gallon tank is generally considered as ‘small’ by fish keepers with dimensions at 20ʺ × 10ʺ × 12ʺ. Although these tanks are reputed among beginning hobbyists, they have a thin margin of error.

The goal of any setup is to make your aquatic pets feel comfortable. A fish tank will also add to your home’s décor and spruce up your lifestyle.

Why Choose a 10-Gallon Fish Tank?

The 10-gallon fish tank is quite convenient to purchase. You can set it up in various spaces, including your office and living room. You do not even have to get a stand, as you can easily put in on a table or cabinet. It will especially compliment small apartments and homes since it occupies minimal room.

The setup is also attractively affordable. It will serve those upgrading from fishbowls as well as beginning enthusiasts. It is also cost-effective because you get accessories like test kits, heaters, and a lighting system. The setup is definitely cheaper than sourcing for all the essentials individually. You will save electricity costs because the filter is small and not very powerful, and the water volume is less.

Despite its small size, you can keep a variety of fish in the 10-gallon tank. You can further include ornamentals and decorations, including several plants. Since it comes in endless shapes, it will be easy to get one that fits your style.

Fish Species You Can Keep in 10-Gallon Aquarium

A 10-gallon tank may not be generous on space, but if well-maintained, you can rear different fish species. Generally, source for a fish with non-aggressive attributes, and which will only grow to one to two inches. You should, therefore, know the adult size of the species you intend to buy. Such pets include:


Guppy Fish

Guppy Fish

Fish-keepers will agree that it is very enjoyable to watch guppies in a tank. Since they come in many vibrant colors, you can experiment with a handful of them. They appeal to beginners because it is very easy to take of them.

Guppies breed easily, and it is best to have a single gender in your tank. Placing males and females will result in an abundance of fry that will strain your aquarium setup. Five to ten guppies will do well in a 10-gallon tank.

Guppies are noted as active aquarium inhabitants, who prefer the top-third part of the tank. Leave this region free of plants, as they also do not need a lot of hiding space. They can, however, be targeted as food by bigger tankmates.



Platy Fish

Platy Fish

The platy fish has appealing patterns and hues to brighten up your aquarium.

Beginners will appreciate the easy maintenance with this peaceful fish.

Platies are live-bearing, although the parents and the tankmates will mostly eat the fry.

It will reach two inches in length and will require live food, flakes, and frozen and dried foods.



Molly Fish

Molly Fish

Mollies are mostly known to be peaceful, which is why they are popular.

An aquarium heater will be vital because they respond to warm water.

The balloon molly is particularly a good community fish. It is small, beautiful fish, and it is best to keep it in pairs.


Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling Gourami (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The sparkling gourami will mainly reach 1.5 inches in length, which makes it ideal for a 10-gallon tank. It thrives in a heavily-planted aquarium with endless hiding spaces.

The body of the fish is quite colorful, and it will be a lovely addition to your tank.



Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras

The pygmy corydoras will thrive in schools of six or even more. It is characterized by an iridescent body and a backline that starts at the snout to the tail.

The fish prefers many hiding spots in the form of many plants. It is also advisable to include a sandy substrate for the protection of their barbels.

The pygmy corydoras will rely on the food that sinks to the tank’s bottom, and you can opt to feed them with sinking pellets.

The fish is sensitive to nitrate concentrations, so you need to change the water frequently. It is best to keep the pygmy corydoras with other small fish like tetras.



Betta Fish

Betta Fish

Bettas come in vibrant colors, and they are easy maintenance.

The fish has, however, gained a reputation as an aggressive pet who is best kept alone.

The truth is that only male bettas are aggressive to other male bettas.

If you have a betta fish, you can include other tankmates, but you need to monitor the aquarium situation and have a backup plan. You can assess the behavior of your betta to decide if they can live with tankmates.

Species that you can keep with the betta include White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Corydoras.


Neon Tetras

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetra

Neon tetras are famous in the fish keeping community. Their appealing colors and vibrant nature liven up any aquarium.

If keeping neon tetras alone, opt for 10 of them in your 10-gallon tank. Plants will provide them with hiding spaces, and you can also add rocks and driftwood.

The aquarium environment should be healthy, and you should also not overcrowd them.


Celestial Danio

Celestial Danio

Celestial Danio

The Celestial Danio was discovered in 2006, but it has quickly become a favorite among fish-keepers.

It features a blue metallic body with horizontal bands on its fins that have a deep orange hue.

It thrives among many plants and rocks and driftwood. You can keep six of them in a 10-gallon aquarium.


Filter for 10-Gallon Aquarium

A 10-gallon tank is compact and small in content, and water conditions can change rapidly. Because of the sensitive nature of a 10-gallon tank, it is recommended to oversize your filter for the most effective results. The filters we recommend are:

Aqua Clear Hang On Back Filter

Click to Buy from Amazon

This filter promises quick and easy installation with room for the media you prefer. It is equipped with Activated Carbon, AquaClear foam, Cycle Guard, and BioMax to encourage constant biological filtration and high-water quality. This filter will work excellently for multi-stage filtration processes.

Other accessories included with the filter are the filter basket, motor, leveling gadget, and locking lip. It can be used for tanks of up to 30 gallons, and it comes with a two-year warranty.

Aqueon Internal Power Filter

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This filter has been designed to be economical, easy to use, and efficient. It delivers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. The dense foam will deal with debris while the BioGrid and activated carbon address nitrates and toxins, respectively. You can either immerse the filter in a horizontal or vertical position.

The pump needs no priming as it is automatic, and it will restart in the event that power is lost and restored.

Heater for 10-Gallon Tank

A heater is especially needed when you have tropical fish that need warm temperatures. Heaters meant for small tanks are designed to be compact, and you can experiment with the available varieties. Such effective heaters include:

Eheim Jager Aquarium Heater

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The 50-watt Eheim heater is fully immersible, and it will be perfect for your 10-gallon tank. The temperature can be accurately adjusted from 60 to 93ºF. The readjustment ring allows for precise recalibration with a control accuracy of +/-0.5ºC.

There is an on and off indicator, and you can easily tell if it is working while it still in the water. It comes with a thermo-safety control that shuts off the heater once it is removed from the water.

The heater is fitted with shatterproof glass which can handle extreme temperature fluctuations. It comes with a mounting bracket and easy-to-use suction cups to securely place it in your tank.

Choosing a Substrate for 10-Gallon Aquarium

The choice of a substrate will be informed by the plants you have in the tank. Ensure that an inch of the roots of your plants is under the substrate. The most common options include gravel, fluorite, and aqua soil. The substrate we recommend is:

Seachem Flourite Black Clay Gravel

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This substrate bed is most effective when used alone, and it is designed for an aquarium with natural plants. Since it is not treated or coated, the gravel will not affect the PH of the tank’s water. You may note initial cloudiness after you add water, but it is normal and can be addressed via mechanical filtration.

Buying a 10-Gallon Aquarium Kits

Many retailers stock all-in-one aquarium kits with the fundamental components as well as water additives to start fish keeping. The substrate and decorations are mostly the items that are left out of these kits.

Brands like Tetra and Aqueon will furnish their kits with a standard hang on the back filter. The filters will do a decent job, but most fish-keepers will need an upgrade after a while.

Most manufacturers will also include their heaters, which is mainly rated for heating the particular size of the tank. These heaters are submersible and will do a good job at regulating the aquarium’s temperature. Other companies will also have samples of fish food for most kinds of aquarium fish.

A first-time aquarium will face such technical hurdles as knowing which filters work with their tanks. A kit eliminates such concerns by offering a complete system that is easy to install and use. Most brands sell accessories that have been tested and designed to work seamlessly together.

Kits commonly come with manuals and extra information that offer advice for the beginner aquarist. The manufacturer will typically recommend various practices, installation procedure, and even the kind of species that will thrive in the setup.

Aquarium kits also promise easy maintenance. The tank hood, for example, will be convenient to lift without disrupting the filter. Generally, all the components are designed to facilitate regular maintenance. The accessories are also stylish, and they contribute to one aesthetic.

The best fish tank kits in the market include:

Aqueon Fish Tank Aquarium LED Kit

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This kit comes with a clear tank coated with epoxy resin for durability. Its low-profile full hood is equipped with vibrant white lighting to brighten your aquarium. It features a feeding hole at the front and breakout areas at the back for additional components.

It is furnished with a Quietflow 10 LED PRO filter with a red LED light that indicates when the cartridge should be changed, and eliminates guessing. You get an enhanced five-stage filtration process in addition to an ammonia specialty filter pad to maintain the health of the aquarium’s water. The filter is also incredibly quiet.

The kit includes a submersible heater that is preset to a temperature of 78 degrees, which is favorable for most tropical fish. Other components are premium fish food, fishnet, stick-on thermometer, and water conditioner.

Marina LED Aquarium Kit

Click to Buy from Amazon

The 10-gallon Marina LED Aquarium Kit is perfect for small tropical fish including shrimps and bettas. The tank is constructed from real temperature glass, and it will therefore not break from water pressure or changes in temperature. The tank is also equipped with a hinged canopy that can easily be opened for maintenance. The hood features several holes for placing accessories and for feeding. There is a white LED fixture built in the canopy to deliver natural daylight to the setup.

The kit includes the reputed Marina Slim S series filters. The filters are compact and effective, and they will maintain the health and clarity of your aquarium. The filters make use of two cartridges to purify the water, both of which contain Ceramitek to deal with nitrates and ammonia.

The Bio-Carb cartridge has activated carbon to get rid of toxins and discoloration. The filter is strong but quiet, and its flow rate can be adjusted with a flow-control knob. You also get the Fluval Cycle which removes ammonia and nitrite and creates a well-balanced habitat for your pets. This biological filter supplement works rapidly and comes in handy during aquarium disasters.

The package includes the Fluval Aqua Water Plus Conditioner, which aims to make tap water suitable for aquatic animals. The Fluval Max fish food is ideal for feeding your tropical fish. There is a fishnet which will not harm the delicate fins of your pets. An Aquarium Care Guide will help you set up and get your aquarium running.

Aqueon Fish Aquarium Starter Kits

Click to Buy from Amazon

The 10-gallon tank that comes with this kit has orange fluorescent silicone to guard against leaks and to provide an interesting aesthetic. It is complemented by a low-profile lid, which makes it easy to fit the tank in low-hanging shelves or under cabinets.

The blue LED lights will brighten up your setup and offer a stunning view of the aquarium. The black background and the orange silicone at the edges also add to the attractive appeal of the setup. This starter kit is perfect for people looking for a unique tank for their homes or offices.

It has a QuietFlow E Filter 10 for powerful but silent filtration, and it has a bow design to reach the small areas. The filter’s cartridge has activated carbon to extract toxins from the water.

Also included in the kit is fish food, multi-colored gravel, three plants, and water conditioner.

How to Maintain a 10-Gallon Aquarium?

Pollutants easily accumulate in a 10-gallon tank due to its size, which is why regular maintenance is needed. Such measures include:

Water Changes

Frequent water changes are critical to the health of the tank’s water. Empty at least a third of the water and exchange it with fresh water that has been treated with a conditioner. The added water should have the same temperature like the one in the tank to avoid stressing the fish. Ensure you do not introduce pollutants in the course of changing the water.

Test Water Regularly

You can get a water testing kit to monitor the PH and temperature of your water as well as the concentration of nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia. If left unchecked, these compounds can accumulate after a while and affect your pets. Different fish will also have their own PH and temperature ranges that are most suitable for them.

Do Not Overfeed Fish

Flakes are sufficient for most fish, although you should include sinking pellets if you have any bottom-dwellers. Generally, do not give the pets more food than they can consume in minutes. Any extra food will only pollute the water and contribute to algae growth. The waste from the fish will also accumulate fast, so it is important to keep it at a minimum.


A 10-gallon fish tank appeals to beginners because it is easy to set up, maintain, and store. A kit is also convenient as it comes with various fundamentals to kickstart the fishkeeping hobby.

Do not let the small size hinder you from experimenting with various fish species. You can keep a community of different fish, including guppies, mollies, platies, neon tetras, and bettas.

You will have to buy accessories like filter and heaters if you opt-out of a kit or you want to upgrade the standard components that accompany most kits in the market.

To ensure that your pets are healthy, test the water frequently, change the water every other week, and do not overfeed the species.

Fishkeeping   Updated: October 4, 2019
avatar Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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