10 gallon fish tank planted

10 Gallon Fish Tank : Best Fish, Setup Ideas [The Complete Guide]

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The complete guide to everything you need to know to start a new 10 gallon fish tank as a beginner!

The 10 gallon tank is great for both beginners and expert hobbyist as well.

It is a beautiful small tank which can be placed in small areas to get the maximum out of the space we have.

The 10 gallon tank is a commonly available fish tank in the market. Because it’s cheap and of small size, it’s a go-to tank for beginners. They are also sold with other equipment needed to start a new aquarium making them a perfect choice for beginners.

The following key guidelines will give you all the information you are looking for!

10 Gallon Fish Tank Dimensions and Weight

Before choosing what aquarium you will be buying, a major thing to be concerned is the tank dimensions and weight. Here are some basic questions you will run into when choosing a fish tank. Whether tank can fit the place you are trying to keep it? Whether the stand is steady enough to hold the tank’s weight? How big will it be?

A 10 gallons in liters would be 37.85 liters. So, how much does a 10 gallon tank weigh? Typically the general 10 gallon tank dimensions will be 20″ x 10″ x 12″ in size. But in the current market there are different types of 10 gallon aquariums available. So the sizes can slightly change due to the different shapes like bow-front aquariums and so on. They come in two different types, glass and acrylic. Both types look great!

The tank will be weighing 11lbs when empty and will weigh around 110lbs after water is added. The maximum weight can differ according to the substrate and decorations you add to the tank. That should be a key factor to keep in mind.

So keep those facts in mind when buying your tank!

Aquarium Equipment

As this is a smaller tank holding a smaller volume of water we can go with smaller equipment. We’ll be covering these facts in a nutshell for a beginner to understand.

A small Hang-on-back (HOB) will do the trick for the filteration generally. But if you require additional filteration, going with a HOB and a small sponge filter would be great! As we always hear in this hobby, “higher filteration is always better than lower filteration”. Does the aquarium filter need to be on all the time? Basically that’s the point. It should be able to filter your tank continuously, that will help to keep the water clean and remove the unwanted particles and chemicals from the water.

Heating is the other thing you’ll have to think about. Generally a small heater would be sufficient. In any aquarium store you will be able to find a heater easily. They will be marked for the gallons it can heat. So just pick a 10 gallon heater !

As this will be start, we can start with a basic lighting which will be available in any aquarium store. Just pick out a cheap lighting fixture which is recommended for a 10 gallon tank.

Basic Tips for Buying Your 10 Gallon Tank

The main thing to think about other than fish tank brand, is the fact that whether you want an acrylic tank or glass tank? Glass tanks are usually considered as the higher quality tank. But there are pros and cons for both aquarium types.

When talking about the glass aquarium, it will be durable in the long term which is a major plus point for a fish keeper. And it is scratch proof when comparing with acrylic tanks. On the other hand we should be careful when cleaning acrylic tanks as they tend to get scratched easily.

The cleanness of the aquarium glass will be better than acrylic. Acrylic tends to get a yellow buildup when exposed to direct sunlight. This is a main downside for acrylic tanks in general.

When talking about the weight of the aquarium, acrylic is less heavier than glass which makes it good choice in that aspect. It will be easier to move around. As a hobbyist we know the troubles we have from the weight of aquariums! This will be a good solution for it.

Although sometimes it comes down to the price as the deciding point when choosing an aquarium. Glass tanks are cheaper than acrylic tanks because glass tanks are more popular among hobbyist.

How much will it cost? A glass 10 gallon aquarium will cost around $20-$40 based on the brand. And the difference between 10 gallon acrylic and glass normally is $5-$10 as we are talking about a smaller sized tank.

10 Gallon Fish Tank Stocking Ideas

What fish can you put in a 10 gallon tank? What can live in a 10 gallon tank?

This is the fun part! Time to choose the fish for your 10 gallon tank. But there are a few things to remember when choosing the fish. They have to be smaller species so they can live happily in your fish tank. Preferably 1-2 inch fish will be the most suitable for a 10 gallon tank. And the other question is, how many fish in a 10 gallon tank?

Here are some recommended species as a beginner for your 10 gallon tank. Best fish for your tank should be peaceful and small in size. Keep in mind not to over stock your tank!

  • Guppies : These are a beautiful and hardy fish species for your small tank. How many guppies can I put in a 10 gallon? A group of 5-6 these will be a cool addition to your tank.
  • Betta Fish : A single male betta fish can be a neat addition to your fish tank as well.
  • Dwarf Corydoras : There are several kinds of these fish. So you have a selection to choose from. These are a bottom dwelling species. A group of 5-6 would be suitable for a 10 gallon tank.
  • Shrimp : Can choose from a variety of shrimps. There are many hardy species in the hobby for beginners. You can go with about a group of 10 shrimp. A colony can kept in a species only 10 gallon shrimp tank.
  • Neon Tetras : They have nice coloring, hardy and a peaceful fish. How many neon tetras can I put in a 10 gallon tank? 5-6 neon tetras would be a great addition to your 10 gallon tank.

Can I keep goldfish in a 10 gallon tank?

This is a frequently asked question. Basically, it will depend on the size of the fish, and certainly we can not keep goldfish in a 10 gallon tank in the long run. They will out run it quickly and they will grow into big fish. A 10 gallon tank will be good for a starter tank for 3-4 small goldfish in the 1-1.5 inch range, but it is recommended to move them to larger tanks for their full growth. The rule of thumb is to keep a 1 inch fish in 1 gallon of water.

10 Gallon Tank Setup Ideas

There are many ways to setup your aquarium depending on your requirement. Hobbyist will have many reasons to setup a ten gallon tank. Some of the reasons will be to setup as a breeding tank, planted tank, species tank, grow out tank for smaller fry and so on. Depending on the requirement, we will require different setup methods.

It is always fun to decorate your fish tank. As a beginner hobbyist, there are many decorations available in fish stores to beautify your aquarium. You can use gravel and plants as well. Decorating a tank and beautifying it will get you more interested into this hobby.

If you are setting up a breeding tank, you will require plants for fry to hide among, spawning mops for breeders to breed in and substrate for some species to breed in. There are many things to think about before setting up a breeding tank. Some breeding tanks will be bare bottom as it will be easy for cleaning and maintenance.

For a plated tank you will require substrate, gravel, plants and a great lighting fixture as well. A planted shrimp tank would be a great suggestion! Cherry Shrimp will be hardy species of shrimp for a beginner, if you are going to setup a planted 10 gallon tank.

Setting Up Your 10 Gallon Tank

A basic idea of how to setup a ten gallon tank will be mentioned here. There are many ways to do it. I’ll be mentioning a simple way here for beginners.

The substrate should be cleaned and rinsed using fresh water. So all the unwanted dust and other particles will be removed from the substrate. Easiest way to do it will be to put the substrate in a bucket and keep a running water supply over it. Until the bucket’s water becomes clearer. Rinsing can be done with your hand. Cleaning the substrate will help to keep the water clean when water will be added later on to the aquarium. Afterwards add about 0.5-1 inch of substrate to your tank.

Afterwards add the decorations, wood and plants if you are adding any. Remember to rinse any additions which you will be adding to the tank. Now it’s time to fill up with de-chlorinated water or you can add water and then use water conditioner to de-chlorinate the water. Slowly add water without disturbing the substrate. Usually a plate it kept at the bottom of the tank and then the water is added to it to avoid the substrate from getting disturbed. This does the trick!

Finally add the filter and a heater as recommended above in the guide. Rinse the filter media as well before adding it to the tank. Assembling the filter will require you to go through the instructions provided with it. It will be an easy process.

Setting up your 10 gallon tank is easy as that!

But it isn’t ready for adding fish yet. You should cycle your aquarium afterwards and then it’ll be fully ready for fish!

Cycling Your 10 Gallon Tank

Cycling your aquarium is the most important thing after buying your new aquarium. This maybe a hard to understand topic for beginners. The basics will be discussed here so everyone can understand what they need to do to get their fish tank “fish ready”.

Aquarium fish waste will release ammonia to the fish tank, which will be toxic for fish when there aren’t any bacteria to break it down to less toxic compounds. Therefore before adding fish it is a must to cycle your tank and build up a good bacteria colony.

The nitrogen cycle is what this is all about. Cycling a tank is basically turning toxic ammonia to nitrite and then nitrite will be turned into nitrate which is less harmful for fish in lower amounts.

The best part about cycling an aquarium is that it’s a natural process which happens within a fish tank. The best and recommended method is to use the fish less cycle. All you need to do is provide an ammonia source and monitor it using a test kit.

The basic steps will be explained here.

At the beginning of the cycling process, 3-4ppm of ammonia will be added to start bacteria growth in the aquarium media. Then after a few days it will be reduced to 1ppm per few days. Bacteria will start to grow and multiply within this period.

Cycling a tank will take a considerable amount of time. Some where from 2 weeks to around 6 – 8 weeks. Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate testing using a test kit has to be done weekly to understand how the cycling process is going on.

After a few weeks, the ammonia and nitrite will become 0ppm which will indicate the tank has finished cycling. Afterwards a few fish can be added into the tank, so that they would not produce waste which can not be handled by the bacteria colony the tank has.

Best 10 Gallon Tanks

What is the best 10 gallon aquarium? Here are a few fish tanks to choose from.

  • Aqua Culture 10 Gallon Aquarium
  • Penn Plax Curved Corner 10 Gallon Aquarium
  • Aqueon LED 10 Gallon Aquarium
  • MarinaΒ LED 10 Gallon Aquarium
  • Fluval FLEX 10 Gallon Aquarium
  • Marineland 10 Gallon Aquarium

A complete guide to choose the best fish tank can be found from this article by Aquarium Adviser.


So, is this the tank to start your aquarium journey? Does this meet your budget?

This will definitely be the most budget friendly choice, this will be a good deal for your money as many 10 gallon tanks come with other equipment as well for that price.

The 10 gallon maybe tough to maintain for a beginner who will pick this for the smaller size thinking it will be easier to maintain. It’s always recommended to choose a bigger tank for beginners as those are easier to maintain for beginners.

But, if you have the capability and dedication to maintain your tank as required then it’ll be suitable for expert and beginner both.

If you started this hobby from buying a 10 gallon or you have a 10 gallon aquarium already, please comment your stocking, filteration, heating and lighting used! So everyone can get a better idea of the variations available for them to choose from.

Checkout TheAquariumHobbyist for more informative articles!


  1. Toxic ammonia is released into the water via fish waste. This is broken down into less harmful substances by bacteria, so you need to culture bacterial populations before adding fish. This is known as cycling the tank .

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