If you’re new to the aquarium hobby, you may want to start small, and a 10-gallon aquarium is a perfect size for a beginner. Also, experienced aquarists often use 10-gallon tanks for quarantine, spawning, and hospital setups.
There are so many small tanks out there to choose from; it can be daunting to pick one. So, with that in mind, we’ve chosen five excellent 10-gallon fish tanks and reviewed each one for you.
Best 10-gallon fish tanks
Here are our five favorite 10-gallon aquariums. We’ve included some handy links to more information on each product and other buyers’ reviews. Once you’ve found the ideal tank for your needs, go ahead and place your order.
1. Dennerle Scapers 10-Gallon Aquarium Kit
- Executive thru SevenSeaSupply on this order will include Dennerle plant Guide Book (Retail $19.99)
- Perfect for Aquascaping Planted Tank
- Complete Set with Corner filter & Spray Bar, 5 watt LED Light 6500k
The Dennerle Scrapers 10-gallon aquarium comes in kit form. That means you get everything you need to get your new tank up and running without having to buy any extra pieces of equipment.
This smart glass tank measures 7.8 x 12.2 x 14.2 inches and comes with a clear cover, an internal biofilter, an LED light, and a mat to place under the aquarium. The seamless front panel of the tank has rounded corners, giving you an unobstructed view of your fish and plants, and the filter is efficient, keeping your water clean and healthy for your livestock. The light has 12 diodes, providing plenty of light for plants. The main downside to this setup is that it doesn’t include a heater, which you’ll need if you want to keep bettas or other tropical nano fish species.
What we like:
- Tank design gives a great view of your fish and plants
- Efficient filter system
Room for improvement:
- Quite expensive as the kit doesn’t include a heater
- LED light might need an upgrade for more demanding high-light species
2. Aqueon LED 10-gallon aquarium kit
The Aqueon LED 10-gallon tank comes as a complete starter kit. This is a glass aquarium that measures a neat and compact 20.25 x 10.5 x 13.3 inches and comes with a kit that’s designed to get you up and running without the need to buy any additional supplies.
The kit includes a low-profile hood, blue LED lighting, a 50W heater that’s preset to keep the water temperature at 78° Fahrenheit, a Quietflow Pro Filter with a cartridge, three plants, a water conditioner, fish food, and multi-colored gravel substrate. For a beginner who is starting from scratch, this kit is a perfect and inexpensive way to get into the hobby. All you need to add are fish, water, and live plants if you prefer them to artificial ones.
What we like:
- Fully-inclusive starter kit
- Inexpensive compared to other kits
- Includes a heater, which other kits don’t
Room for improvement
- Double-check the kit contents is complete, as sometimes elements are omitted
- The preset heater might be the incorrect temperature for some species
3. Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit
- Stylish honeycomb design conceals rear aquarium filter compartment and aquarium water line while looking ultra modern
- Powerful 3 stage filtration with oversized mechanical, chemical, and biological Fluval filter media
The Fluval Sea Evo Saltwater aquarium kit is a starter kit that’s designed for use with marine fish. At 13.5 gallons, this aquarium is well-designed so that a rear compartment hides the filter equipment, and the water line is also concealed, giving the tank a modern, stylish look. The aquarium measures 22 x 11.5 x 15 inches, making it the ideal size to fit neatly into a corner of your room.
The kit includes a powerful three-stage filter with extra-large mechanical, biological, and chemical filter media. The tank has a hood that houses the light touch LED lighting unit, which incorporates day and night illumination effects.
The main downside to this kit is that it doesn’t include a heater, which you will definitely need if you want to keep tropical marine species. Also, you’ll need to buy substrate, fish food, plants, and water conditioner, adding to the cost of the setup.
What we like:
- Ultra-modern design
- Good quality products included with the kit
Room for improvement:
- Heater not included
- No substrate, fish food, etc., included
4. JBJ Rimless Desktop 10 Gallon Flat Panel Peninsula with 9W Lyra LED
- 10-gallon All-in-one Aquarium
- Equipped with Lyra 9w LED 2-color lighting fixture
- Adjustable brightness
The JBJ Rimless Desktop 10-gallon Flat Panel Peninsula aquarium was only released in July 2020, so it’s the new kid on the block in a very competitive niche.
The glass tank can be used to house freshwater or marine fishes and measures a compact 25.5 x 12.5 x 12.5 inches, making it ideal for a kid’s bedroom or for your office desk. The tank has a Lyra 9W LED two-color lighting unit that allows you to adjust the brightness of the lighting to suit a planted tank. The included clip-on bio-filter is ready to use; just plug it in and switch it on. Replacement filter media and cartridges are available for the filter unit, although you do have to buy those separately.
As with many aquarium kits, this one doesn’t include a heater, and you also need to buy substrate, plants, fish food, etc.
What we like:
- Good quality product
- Adjustable lighting feature
- Efficient clip-on filter unit
Room for improvement:
- No heater included
- No substrate, plants, etc. included
5. biOrb Halo 15 Aquarium with MCR Lighting
- Constructed out of Acrylic - 10 times stronger than glass, 50% lighter and has a 93% transparency rating. Effortless set up - everything you need to start your aquarium is included in the box.
- True 5 stage filtration - biological, mechanical, chemical, water stabilization and oxygenation.
The biOrb Halo is an 8-gallon aquarium that’s designed to look like an old-style goldfish bowl but with all technical know-how to provide your fish with a healthy, safe environment in which to thrive. The aquarium is designed with a hidden waterline, so there’s nothing to distract from the beauty of your fish.
The biOrb is made of acrylic, making the structure ten times stronger than glass, as well as 50% lighter, and with a much better transparency rating for a super clear view of your pets. The kit comes complete with everything that you need to get up and running, including a five-stage filtration system that includes an oxygenation function. The aquarium has a handy remote-controlled LED lighting system that offers 16 preset colors, as well as brightness control, enabling you to create dozens of stunning lighting effects.
What we like:
- All-around view of your fish and aquascaping
- Five-stage filter system
- Strong material and excellent clarity
Room for improvement:
- No heater included
- Replacement filter cartridges are quite expensive
How to set up your 10-gallon aquarium
So, now that you’ve chosen your ideal 10-gallon aquarium, let’s look at how to set everything up correctly.
Where to put your tank?
A 10-gallon tank of fish will fit in pretty much any small space, and for that reason, many small aquariums are advertised as being suitable for a desktop in an office or on a kitchen unit. So, although we do recommend that you buy a purpose-constructed fish tank stand to an aquarium of any size, smaller aquariums can sometimes be placed safely on a piece of domestic furniture.
To give you a decent safety margin, use a piece of furniture that can support at least 150 pounds in weight. That should be plenty adequate for a 10-gallon tank and its contents.
Make sure that there are enough power points within easy reach of the tank where you can plug in the filter, heater, etc. Keep the tank well away from direct sunlight and heat sources such as radiators or fires. Also, you need to make sure that the tank is not sitting in a draught. That’s crucial, as any sudden changes in water temperature will harm your fish, and too much light will encourage algae to grow.
Setting up the tank
Set up your new tank as follows:
- Unbox the aquarium and equipment. Remove all the labels, and rinse everything to get rid of any dust.
- Place a polystyrene tile or rubber mat underneath the tank to protect the surface of your furniture and ensure that the tank is sitting completely flat.
- Now, rinse the gravel to remove dust and loose dirt. Once the substrate is clean, put it into the tank.
- Install the filter, heater, and lighting unit as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Put plants and decorations into the tank.
- Fill the tank with water. Don’t add water conditioner; the biological filter needs the ammonia contained in treated tap water to kick start the nitrogen cycle.
- Switch on the filter and heater, but leave the lights off unless you have live plants in the setup.
- Allow the tank to cycle for at least ten days, checking the water every couple of days to see that ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero.
- Once the tank has cycled, you can begin adding fish!
How to choose a 10-gallon fish tank
There are several important factors to consider when choosing a 10-gallon tank for fish. Here’s a quick overview of what to look for when selecting the perfect aquarium.
Although you can buy cheap tanks, it’s always better to put quality above price. So, when looking at a potential purchase, take a close look at the materials that have been used to make the tank. Look at the frame, seals, and seams. The sealant should be neatly and evenly applied; leaks are annoying, and a total seam failure will make a lot of mess!
You can buy 10-gallon tanks made from glass, acrylic, and plastic, all of which have pros and cons.
Glass tanks are considered as the standard and remain extremely popular for several reasons. Glass is typically cheaper than other materials and can last you for many years. It’s also much less prone to scratching and won’t absorb or leach chemicals into the water. Glass doesn’t become discolored or yellowed, and you’ll experience minimal distortion when you look at your fish.
On the downside, glass can shatter if accidentally knocked, and it isn’t flexible enough to withstand earthquakes, which is a consideration if you live in a region that’s prone to them. Glass is very heavy, and it comes in a limited number of shapes. Some designs have sharp corners that can cause injury to kids and pets in the event of an accidental collision.
Acrylic tanks are constructed from a kind of high-quality plastic material that’s more flexible and lighter than glass. Unfortunately, acrylic is generally more expensive than glass. Acrylic tanks come in a wide range of rimless, cornerless, and other custom shapes.
However, acrylic is much more easily scratched and damaged than glass. Also, there’s much more noticeable distortion when you view an acrylic tank than you get with a glass one. Sometimes, poor quality acrylic tanks release chemicals into the water, which could harm your fish. Also, acrylic does turn yellow over time and if exposed to direct sunlight.
Plastic fish tanks are the cheapest and lightest option of the three, but they are also much less durable and are very prone to scratching. That said, you can find plastic tanks in a wide range of shapes and designs, including cornerless and bow-front tanks.
Plastic is not flexible and will crack if placed under too much pressure. Also, there’s a lot of distortion when viewing your fish, and the material will become yellowed over time and if exposed to sunlight.
What fish to choose?
10-gallon tanks are the ideal size for nano fish. As a general rule, you should allow one gallon of water per one inch of fish, but the more space that’s available, the better. Here are a few suggestions for popular fish species that you might like to keep:
- A male betta fish
- A pair of female bettas
- A selection of tetras
- Guppies, mollies, swordtails, and platys
For something a little bit different, you might want to stock a few invertebrates, such as Cherry, Amano, or Ghost shrimp, or perhaps some snails, for example, Nerite or Mystery. African dwarf frogs also make an interesting and entertaining pet that will be happy in a 10-gallon tank, too.
Are starter kits the best choice?
Because 10-gallon fish tanks often appeal to first-time aquarium owners, they are often marketed as complete kits. Generally, you get the 10-gallon fish tank, a filter system, and a lighting unit. Some kits also include a pack of a substrate, plastic plants, fish food, water conditioner, and a fish care guide. The most glaring omission from most starter kits is a heater, which you’ll need to buy if you want to keep tropical fish.
When you’re new to fish keeping, starting out with a kit is a great way to get into the hobby. Then, as you become more experienced, you can upgrade items, such as your filter system and lighting unit, if you want to. So, buying a starter kit is usually the most cost-effective route.
However, if you already keep fish in tanks and this isn’t your first experience of keeping fish, you may be content to utilize some of the equipment that you already have and just add any other bits and bobs that you need.
If you want to get into keeping fish, a 10-gallon aquarium is a very good choice for your first tank. We recommend that you buy a starter kit that includes most of the equipment you’ll need to get you into the hobby. With a kit, all you need to do once everything is set up is to add water and fish.
A 10-gallon tank enables you to keep a few nice species of tropical fish and invertebrates, giving you the chance to decide whether fish keeping is the hobby for you. If you love it, you can always upgrade to a larger setup in the future if you want to.