Cookie Cutter Setups for 10-Gallon Freshwater Aquariums
Everyone loves 10-gallon fish tanks because they are small enough to sit on a kitchen counter or kid’s bedroom dresser but big enough to give you many options to choose from. There is something for everyone whether you are interested breeding fish, schooling fish, or even oddball animals. These tropical fish require a heater or filter. If you’re not sure which one to buy, check out our 10-gallon aquarium checklist. After your aquarium is up and running, we recommend that you take a look through our recommendations for combinations you can use.
10-Gallon Tank with a Centerpiece Fish
A centerpiece fish is an unusually-looking or colorful fish that catches the eye of the viewer. It is usually paired with smaller schooling fish. A clean-up crew, which includes bottom dwellers as well as algae eaters, is a great way to keep your aquarium looking good. Pick one bullet point from each subcategory below to put together your ideal community tank:
Centrepiece Fish (pick 1)
Betta fish – Female powder blue dwarf gourami Honey gourami
Middle Level Fish
6-8 neon tetras 6-8 green neon tetras 6-8 ember tetras 8 chili rasboras 4-6 Endler’s livebearers 6-8 white cloud mountain minnows 6-8 lambchop (or espei) rasboras 8 exclamation point rasboras
4-5 panda corydoras 6 pygmy corydoras – 6 habrosus corydoras – 6 hastatus corydoras 4 kuhli loaches – Malaysian trumpet snails
2 nerite snails- Bladder snails- Ramshorn snails- 2-3 amano shrimps (may not be compatible avec betta fish).
For a 10-gallon aquarium, we suggest starting with approximately 6 aquatic plants to help beautify the fish tank, purify the water from toxic waste chemicals, and provide enrichment for the animals. Pick taller plants for the background and foreground to ensure you can see all the plants in the aquarium. The majority of the options below can be used in low-light tanks. However, the plants marked * are best suited for high-light tanks.
Foreground Plants (pick two or more)
Marimo moss ball Moss Cryptocoryne parva Cryptocoryne lucens Anubias nana petite Bucephalandra ‘green wavy’ – Dwarf hairgrass* – Dwarf baby tears* – Monte carlo* – Micro sword*
Midground Plants (pick two or more)
Cryptocoryne lutea Dwarf aquarium lily Anubias nana Java fern Scarlet temple Anubias golden – Staurogyne repens* – Hydrocotyle tripartita ‘Japan’*
Background Flowers (choice two or more).
Moneywort Water sprite Brazilian pennywort Water wisteria Bacopa caroliniana – Ammannia gracilis* – Mayaca fluviatilis*
10-Gallons Species-Only Tank
Instead of keeping a community tank with many different animals, sometimes it can be quite rewarding to set up an aquarium with only one species. This allows you to concentrate on breeding fish and observe unusual behaviors that are only found in single-species aquariums. It also makes it easier to care for animals with special needs or who require more attention. Choose one of these species to fill your 10-gallon tank.
Single Species Colony
– Breeding pair or trio of Gardneri killifish (Fundulopanchax gardneri) – Breeding pair or trio of lyretail killifish (Aphyosemion australe) – Breeding pair or trio of red-striped killifish (Aphyosemion striatum) 3 pea puffers Breeding pair of Apistogramma dwarf cichlids – 5 African dwarf frogs (and maybe 1-2 larger mystery snails) 10 white cloud mountain minnows 10-20 cherry shrimp 6 fancy guppies (2 males and 4 females) – 6 Neolamprologus multifasciatus shell dweller 6 Neolamprologus similis shell dweller – Breeding pair of Lamprologus brevis shell dweller
Most of these animals are easy to spawn in a colony setting, but if the adults are prone to predating on the offspring, make sure to provide plenty of hiding spots. As shelter for fry, we recommend living plants with dense roots or leaves. Note that some species, such as shell dwellers, love digging so plants that need to be rooted in substrate might not be suitable for their aquarium. (All the plants in this list don’t require substrate.
Dense Plants For Breeding
Pogostemon Stellatus ‘octopus” – Guppygrass Java moss, Christmas moss- Amazon frogbit water sprite Java fern Windelov’ pearl weed
If you are designing a beautiful aquascape and want the emphasis to be on the plants rather than the animals, then a centerpiece fish may not be the right choice. To keep the attention on the gorgeous foliage and hardscape, let’s pick a schooling fish for the upper half of the aquarium, bottom dwellers for the lower half, and a few algae eaters to keep the plants clean.
Top to Mid-Level Schooling Fish (pick 1)
6 Endler’s Livebearers – 6-8 green neon Tetras 6 Cardinal Tetras6 ember Teetras8 ember Teetras8 ember Titras8-10 Chili Rasboras8 white cloud-mountain minnows8 lambchop (or espei), 3-5 Pseudomugil Rainbowfish 3-5 fancy Guppies – 6 Marbled Hatetfish 8 clown Killifish 6 celestial Pearl Danios – Trio teacup plates (1 male and 2 women)
Bottom Dolls (pick 1)
2 larger mystery snails – Malaysian trumpet snails – 6 rosy loaches 4-5 panda corydoras 6 pygmy corydoras – 6 habrosus corydoras – 6 hastatus corydoras – 4 kuhli loaches 2-3 scarlet badis
Algae Eaters (pick 1)
2 nerite snails – Bladder snails – Ramshorn snails 2-3 amano shrimp 3-4 otocinclus catfish
As for aquarium plants, consider the type of aquascape style you plan on using – such as Iwagumi, nature, Dutch, or jungle style. You may need to purchase more than six plants to achieve your desired design. Read this article to take a look at three different kinds of easy-to-build aquascapes for your next planted tank. The (*). asterisk is used to indicate plants that are suitable for high-light aquariums.
Anubias nana petite – Java moss – Christmas moss Cryptocoryne lucens – Micro sword*
Anubias coffeefolia Tiger lotus – Dwarf aquarium Lily Baby tears Dwarf Sagittaria – Cryptocoryne Wendtii – green and red-bronze variety
– Amazon sword, red-melon sword or flame blade Anubias barteri moneywort – Water Sprite – Ludwigia Repens
Cookies can be customized to make it easy for you to select the right fish, invertebrates or plants. However, if you’re looking for a more concrete set of stocking ideas, we have several articles to inspire your next 10-gallon aquarium.