How Many Fish for a 10-Gallon Tank? The "One Inch per Gallon" Rule
So how do you decide how many fish you should put in your 10-gallon tank? You research the fish you are interest in, and learn as much about them as you can. This way you will know their care requirements, space requirements and temperaments. It takes a little work on your part, but there really is no better way.
You may have heard a "rule of thumb" that suggests one inch of adult fish per gallon of water. Therefore, if you wish to stock fish that reach an adult length of one inch, you can have ten of them in your tank.
That makes enough sense, but what if you choose a pair of five-inch fish for your 10-gallon tank? How about one nine-inch fish and a one-inch fish? Or, a single ten-inch fish?
Those are silly examples, but hopefully the point is made that this "rule of thumb" isn't worth a whole lot of thought. It's much better to do some research and understand the fish you plan to stock rather than rely on a simplistic method that doesn't take their needs into consideration.
5 Fish for Your 10-Gallon Tank
The following fish are good choices for your 10-gallon aquarium. Remember, when deciding how many to stock be sure to consider the other fish you plan to have in the tank.
Under ideal conditions most of these fish ought to live peacefully with each other, but remember that no situation is typical. If you overstock your tank, or if it simply turns out two fish aren't getting along, you may need a backup plan.
Also, hopefully it's clear that I'm not suggesting all of these fish should be in your tank together at the same time. Learn about the fish and decide how to mix and match your stock.
Cories are spunky little bottom-feeding catfish that only grow to about 2-3 inches in length. They're peaceful, fun to watch, and best of all they serve as the "clean-up crew" for your tank.
Cories subsist on food that falls to the bottom of the tank. You may wish to provide them with sinking pellets to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need, but generally they will scavenge anything edible that falls into their domain.
They are schooling fish, so they're happiest when there at least six of them together.
Neons are small, vibrant fish and a school of them really makes a tank pop. Like cories they prefer to be with more of their kind, so plan for a small school. However, if you intend to have a neon-only tank you can go up to 10 or so in a 10-gallon aquarium.
Make sure your water conditions are pristine and don't overcrowd them. Even though they are docile toward other fish species, they can get nippy at each other when stressed, and this leads to death in their ranks.
These mini-gouramis have been bred to exhibit some beautiful colors, and you can find some amazing blues, reds and oranges if you choose wisely. A pair of these in a planted 10-gallon tank would make for an amazing setup.
However, be aware that these guys are considered a semi-aggressive fish species, and there can be trouble if one decides to pick on the other. Be sure to include hiding spots and plenty of decorations in your tank in case one becomes dominant.
A guppy tank is lively, colorful, and a lot of fun to watch, and like neons you can have a bunch of them in 10-gallons. Fancy guppies comes in many different colors and you can really get creative when choosing your stock. They are active swimmers in the top third of the water column, so they don't require much in the way of hiding spots and decorations, especially if they are in a species-only tank.
Be careful if combining them with other fish species, as they can become lunch for bigger tankmates!
Contrary to their reputation as the kung-fu wrecking machines of the aquarium world, Betta can live in a community tank with other fish in certain situations. The key is understanding their behavior, keeping a close eye on things and having a back-up plan if things don't go well.
That said, I do not think a 10-gallon tank is the right environment for keeping Betta with other fish. But they may do well with certain critters such as Apple Snails or Ghost Shrimp.
A single Betta in a planted 10-gallon is a great setup, for him and you. Of course it should go without saying that you should never, ever, put two male Betta fish in the same tank together.
5 Common Mistakes When Stocking a 10-Gallon Tank
Just as you can make some really good choices when stocking your aquarium, you can make some dumb ones too. Try not to feel too bad about it if you do. We've all made stocking mistakes, and it's always a learning experience.
Some fish inappropriate for a 10-gallon tank get into this situation when they are purchased by aquarium owners who either didn't know any better, or were misled by pet-store staff.