Ten gallon aquariums are tricky to stock, because they are not quite large enough to house a dynamic community of freshwater fish, yet they are large enough to comfortably accomodate more than a handful of tiny fish.
Many fish in ten-gallon and smaller tanks die prematurely from inadequately maintained and overstocked aquaria, because many fishkeepers are wholly convinced based on product advertisements that a large community of more than twenty fish can be stocked in one of these petite aquariums.
The following suggestions for stocking a ten-gallon aquarium are ideal for maintaining the health of your freshwater fish. By keeping your plans moderate, you significantly reduce the stress to your fish, and increase the life of your aquarium.
Aquarium Stocking Plan: Fancy Guppies or Endler’s Livebearers
Either of these two close relatives can live in groups of up to seven in a well-maintained ten-gallon aquarium, and, with very good water maintenance, some aquarists have found that populations of up to ten adults can be sustainable. Guppies and Endlers are very hardy and forgiving, and are ideal for beginners who are just stocking their first small aquarium. Their bright colors make them a delighful and pleasant addition to a home aquarium. Because they breed very readily, purchase only male livebearers unless you plan on housing a brood of babies. Most pet-store females are already pregnant when bought.
Aquarium Stocking Plan: Platys or Swordtails
The platy, or its close relative the swordtail, can be another excellent, forgiving choice for a beginner aquarist with a ten-gallon tank. Up to five adults can usually be comfortably housed in a small aquarium if the tank is kept very healthy and well-filtered. Like guppies, they are beautiful to look at but breed quite readily, and a beginning fishkeeper should only keep males unless prepared to add another tank (or ten) to the collection. They are active, full of personality, and very attractive additions to a small aquarium.
Aquarium Stocking Plan: White Cloud Mountain Minnows
Another forgiving species, the white cloud mountain minnow is tough and requires no heater to thrive. They do best in large groups and will often become depressed and stop eating unless they have “friends” of the same species around. In a very well-kept ten-gallon aquarium, up to ten can live without comprimising water quality. They are quick, active, and colorful, and sure to delight almost any aquarist.
Aquarium Stocking Plan: Dwarf Gouramis amd Corydoras Catfish
The dwarf gourami is an exciting and slightly more advanced addition to a ten-gallon aquarium, and may be kept in groups of up to five, depending on the specific temperaments of the gouramis themselves. Most often, two gouramis and two to three corydoras catfish will work better to create a more balanced aquarium ecosystem and to prevent conflict between competing members of the community.
Aquarium Stocking Plan: Betta and Corydoras Catfish
A single male betta will do very well in a ten-gallon tank, but they require little space and are extremely forgiving of poor water conditions owing to their lunglike adaptation called a labyrinth organ. While a male Siamese Fighting Fish alone in a ten-gallon tank will do well, you can add balance and flair to the tank by including one to six corydoras catfish in the tank. Their antics will amuse, while the betta’s beauty will stun. It’s a combination that can’t be beat.
The ability of a small aquarium to hold a given number of fish will vary tremendously based on the conditions of the water and the individual personalities of the fish, so these estimates are rough and may call for modification as the aquarist gains experience. However, these hardy species are an almost-guarantee of a successful, long-lived community for a ten-gallon aquarium.