The 10 gallon aquarium is one of the most common aquarium sizes. Its also usually what the beginner aquarist starts with. The 10 gallon poses its own set of challenges because it is such a small volume of water, but that does not mean it is not a viable tank to create a beautiful aquatic ecosystem.  This is a list of fairly hardy species that could live in a 10 gallon aquarium.  This list also includes some that you can make your own decisions as well about adding to your new aquarium. There are also some “biotope” ideas at the end of this guide to give some ideas.

Sources: Personal experience, 101 Best Freshwater Nano Species by Rachel O'Leary and Mark Denaro, and Anders247’s guide on

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My 29 gallon fish tank. Photos include past and present residents, but current stock is otocinclus catfish, rummynose tetras, blue rasboras (sundadanio axelrodi), chili rasboras (boraras briggitae). 

Plants (submerged):
Amazon sword (echinodorus amazonicus)
star grass (heteranthera zostirifolia)
red ludwigia (ludwigia repens)
java fern (microsorum pteropus)
java fern var. ‘needle’
java fern var. ‘trident’
java fern var. ‘lace/windelov’
peacock moss
anubias barteri var. ‘nana’
anubias barteri var. ‘golden’
anubias barteri var. ‘petite’
bolbitis heudelotii
jungle val (vallisneria americana gigantea)
tiger val (vallisneria spiralis)
blyxa japonica
staurogyne repens
marsilea minutia
limnophila aromatica
mystery plants!
duckweed (GROAN)

Plants (emersed):
peace lily
dwarf hair grass
pothos vine
philodendron (var ‘green’?)
unknown ivy
unknown dracaena
2x unknown tillandsia
unknown mushroom


Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

Cardinal tetras, and their relatives the neon tetra, are a species of freshwater schooling fish native to South America. Their iridescent blue stripe is thought to work as a defense mechanism to avoid being eaten. The reflective stripe may disorientate predators, especially when many fish are swimming together, making it harder to pick out a single fish.

vii_genau on Flickr, Joachim S Muller on Flickr