What Types of Fish Are Suitable for a 10-Gallon Aquarium?

Updated November 21, 2016

Tropical fish can provide hours of enjoyment. They are attractive, colourful and fun to watch. A 10-gallon fish tank is generally the smallest size tank available, and it's very important to understand which types of fish can thrive in such a small environment. For example, fish like goldfish produce far too much waste to be kept in such a small tank with other fish. While there is no set guideline for how many fish can live in a 10-gallon tank, a mix of bottom-, middle-, and top-dwelling fish will provide each species in a community tank enough room to swim.


Platies are small fish with pointed heads and fat, round bodies. Platies are selectively bred to come in several colours, including red, yellow, orange, black, bluish grey and spotted. Platies are a peaceful, non-aggressive fish that are well suited to smaller fish tanks. Platies are livebearing fish, meaning they give birth to fully-formed offspring and don't lay eggs. In community tanks, platies do well with other livebearing fish, such as guppies.

Betta Fish

Betta fish are slender-bodied fish with long, flowing fins and tails. They are commonly seen in very small, cup-sized containers in pet stores but do much better in larger spaces, such as a 10-gallon tank. While beautiful, the betta fish is sometimes called the Siamese fighting fish because males will fight with and kill other males. If kept with other fish, only one male betta should live in a tank.


Tetras are vibrantly coloured, small fish that are suitable for 10-gallon aquariums and should be kept in groups as they are schooling fish. In a 10-gallon tank, the group should comprise no more than six fish. There are many different types of tetras, including neon tetras with bright red and blue stripes, black tetras with black stripes, glowlight tetras with copper or pink stripes and cardinal tetras with red stripes.


Dwarf corydoras are small catfish that have silvery-coloured skin with black backs and little whisker-like appendages near their mouths. These fish are active and spend their time on the bottom and middle of the tank. They should be kept in groups of about six in a 10-gallon tank.


Guppies are one of the most inexpensive and easy-to-keep fish available for small tanks. Guppies are generally plain silver or whitish in colour, but male guppies exhibit colourful patterns that almost look like oil stains. Guppies are usually sold as feeder fish for larger fish as well as reptiles and amphibians, costing as little as 30 cents each.

Fancy guppies are also available, although they are slightly more expensive, about £3 each. Fancy guppies have tiny bodies with large, fan-like tails and come in many colours and patterns. While the males are the most colourful, females also exhibit colour and pattern, although to a lesser extent than the males.

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