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Best Fish for a 10-Gallon Tank Setup

Updated on May 16, 2016
EricDockett profile image

Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.

Find out which fish to choose for your 10-gallon tank, how many fish to stock and more!
Find out which fish to choose for your 10-gallon tank, how many fish to stock and more!

Stocking a 10-Gallon Freshwater Aquarium

A 10-gallon fish tank presents a wide array of possibilities for stocking pretty, vibrant fish. If you choose wisely, your aquarium will become a healthy ecosystem and your fish will live long, happy lives.

Unfortunately, with a tank this small there is also the possibility of making some serious mistakes. If you don't completely understand the needs and temperaments of your fish you could end up with some aquarium inhabitants who have no business in your 10-gallon tank. This will lead to premature death for your fish, and heartache for you.

Don't rely on staff at your local pet store to help you make the right choices here. Some are very knowledgeable, but others have no idea what they are talking about. Worse still, sometimes the little cards on the front of the display tanks that are supposed to give you information about a fish can be flat-out wrong.

So how are you supposed to know which fish to choose for your 10-gallon tank? You do your own research. Reading this article is a good start! Here you will find some information on good fish to stock, and others you ought to avoid.

But don't stop there. Learn as much as you can about your fish and aquarium care. It takes a little work, but it will make the hobby much more fun in the long run.

Also, keep in mind that just because some fish are appropriate for a 10-gallon aquarium doesn't necessarily mean they are easy to care for. If you are a newbie to fish keeping you may want to check out this article on the Best Tropical Fish for Beginners.

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.

Corydoras (Cory Catfish)

Cory catfish are bottom-feeders who would be at home in a 10-gallon tank.
Cory catfish are bottom-feeders who would be at home in a 10-gallon tank. | Source

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.

Neon Tetra

Neon tetras are a fun choice for a 10-gallon tank.
Neon tetras are a fun choice for a 10-gallon tank. | Source

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.

Dwarf Gourami

A pair of Dwarf Gouramis would look great in a 10-gallon tank!
A pair of Dwarf Gouramis would look great in a 10-gallon tank! | Source

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.

Fancy Guppy

Fancy Guppies are colorful, active fish that can really liven up your tank.
Fancy Guppies are colorful, active fish that can really liven up your tank. | Source

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!

Betta Fish

Consider a Betta for your 10-gallon tank. They don't belong in plant vases and tiny cubes!
Consider a Betta for your 10-gallon tank. They don't belong in plant vases and tiny cubes! | Source

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.

If you want to learn more about keeping Betta with other fish and critters check out this post on Betta in a Community Tank

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.

Sometimes parents, in an effort to please kids, end up buying inappropriate fish. Perhaps, instead of giving in to the child, this should be seen as an opportunity to educate them on respect for animals and proper care.

However they get there, these five fish often end up on the short end of the stick.

Angelfish

Angelfish belong in a tank no smaller than 55-gallons!
Angelfish belong in a tank no smaller than 55-gallons! | Source

Baby angelfish are adorable, and it can be tempting to add a couple to your tank. But these guys grow over a foot tall, and their adult size is much too large for a 10-gallon aquarium. In addition, they are aggressive, new-world cichlids best housed with similar large species, or in species-only tanks. If you want angelfish, consider a tank 55 gallons or bigger.

Bala Shark

Bala sharks are fine when they are small, but they grow much too big for all but the largest aquariums.
Bala sharks are fine when they are small, but they grow much too big for all but the largest aquariums. | Source

Next to the Betta fish, the bala shark is possibly the most abused aquarium fish out there. They start out as cute little three-inch fish and end up in some kid's 10-gallon tank because they are so cool.

But bala sharks grow a foot long and need to be kept in schools. They are fast-moving, powerful fish that are easily startled, and there are even rumors of spooked adult Bala sharks cracking aquarium glass. Unless you have a truly massive tank, these guys don't belong in your home aquarium.

Gourami

Gourami are beautiful fish with temperaments much too complex for a 10-gallon tank.
Gourami are beautiful fish with temperaments much too complex for a 10-gallon tank. | Source

Dwarf gourami can do fine in a small tank, but their bigger cousins should be avoided unless you have the space to care for them properly. Gourami are large, aggressive fish with complex behaviors, and a pair should be kept in no tank smaller than 55 gallons. They may be colorful and attractive, but if you add them to your small tank you'll get more than you bargained for.

Plecostomus

Plecostomus, aka the ""Sucker Fish". Not a good choice for small tanks!
Plecostomus, aka the ""Sucker Fish". Not a good choice for small tanks! | Source

When it comes to plecos, you a really need to know what you're getting yourself into. This is the fish commonly thought of as the "sucker fish". Most species grow very large, up to several feet - way too big for most aquariums. They require driftwood to rasp on, and will demolish any live plants.

They also don't do as good a job of cleaning algae as typically thought. If you want a more tank-friendly algae eater, skip the pleco and consider a small school of Otocinclus catfish instead.

African Cichlids

African Cichlids are too big, too aggressive and too complicated for a 10-gallon tank.
African Cichlids are too big, too aggressive and too complicated for a 10-gallon tank. | Source

African Cichlids are the closest thing you can get to the vibrant colors of saltwater fish in a freshwater environment. Some aquarium owners specialize in cichlids, and they make for some beautiful tanks. But they are also very aggressive, very complex fish and, except for a few species, do not belong in a tank smaller than 55 gallons. Even then you need to know what you're doing to prevent them from killing each other.

Don't let their pretty colors lure you into popping a couple into your 10-gallon tank. They are not appropriate, and they can potentially devastate any tropical fish you already own.

Enjoy Your 10-Gallon Aquarium!

When I was around seven or eight years old my family got our first 10-gallon tank. We took advice from the owner of the pet store when stocking it, and, thinking back, the guy was either nuts, stupid or just trying to sell a bunch of fish.

Our stock was something like this:

  • 2 angelfish
  • 6 neons
  • 2 cories
  • 1 pleco
  • 2 black mollies
  • 2 swordtails.

I know now this was a very poorly stocked tank. But my parents didn't know any better and they trusted this guy to guide them.

The point is, don't rely on the staff at the fish store to tell you what is right. Do your own research and learn what's best for your aquarium. Back then there was no internet, but today you have everything you need at your fingertips to learn about any fish species you have in mind.

Good luck with your new tank!

What Fish? A Buyer's Guide to Tropical Fish: Essential Information to Help You Choose the Right Fish for Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium (What Pet? Books)
What Fish? A Buyer's Guide to Tropical Fish: Essential Information to Help You Choose the Right Fish for Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium (What Pet? Books)

Understanding the temperaments and care requirements of the fish you intend to stock is the most important factor when it comes to running a successful freshwater aquarium. It's smart to have a manual handy to help you find the root of challenging behaviors and choose the right fish for your tank.

Buy Now

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    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      I loved having neon tetras and angelfish, until the angelfish swallowed the neon tetras...

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 years ago from USA

      I learned that lesson the hard way too, many years ago!

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 2 years ago

      Interesting and useful. I guess my mind is set at 10 gallon tank even though I have a 28 gallon one. I prefer the easy maintenance fish. I only have one green Cory right now so maybe I should get another one. Also, for some reason, I never have any luck with neon tetras even though I love seeing them in a tank. I always enjoy reading your fish articles because I learn so much. I look forward to reading the next one.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks Sheila! Neons can be tough, but once you get solid little school they're a very pretty addition to a freshwater tank. Yes, your Cory would probably appreciate a few more of his kind in there with him. Good luck!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Your information is very helpful and straightforward. Wish I had seen it when I purchased my first small tank.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      I enjoyed this article. I think that fish stock you had when you were young was the standard for 10 gallon tanks of the day, unfortunately.

    • profile image

      Namsak 2 years ago

      Excellent advice on choosing tropical fish for a small tank. I agree with all of your choices and your reasons for not choosing some fish. Complete beginners (we all have to start somewhere) may be better joining a dedicated aquarists' society where they will get much advice and many useful tips and also gain the friendship of experience fishkeepers who can help them avoid expensive mistakes as well as giving access to a source of home-bred fish which are usually both healthier and more acclimatised to the local water conditions than any shop bought import.

    • misterhollywood profile image

      John Hollywood 2 years ago from Hollywood, CA

      I loved this hub. I have had all of these fish in my tank. The shark fish have to be watched - they like to attack! Lil. Voted up.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 2 years ago from Texas USA

      I've been thinking that the space once occupied by the tv will best be filled with an aquarium. Your information is most useful. I especially appreciate your providing caveats.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the kind words everyone!

      @ Robert: You may be right about the tank stocking back then!

      @Namsak: Good advice about joining the aqaurist's society.

      @ misterhollywood: Thanks! In my experience, Bala sharks will eat what they can fit in their mouth (as will most fish) but are otherwise docile with other fish species.

      @Arachnea: My aquarium is only a few feet from my TV in my living room. When I get bored with what's on TV, I do find myself watching the fish. :-)

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 2 years ago from Connecticut

      Excellent advice. Like many hobbyists, I started out with a 10 gallon aquarium and made many of these mistakes. My daughter now has a 15 gallon tank with a couple of corys and a handful of guppies, and it is an active and healthy tank.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks Anthony!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i used to keep angel fish, gold fish, guppy fish but never thought of setting up a good fish tank, voted up

    • profile image

      Evan 21 months ago

      I made the mistake of getting 2 african cichlids, and they killed and ate all of my other fish. They promptly got released into the creek close to my house. :) I didn't even feel bad about doing it either....

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 21 months ago from USA

      Hi Evan. We've all made stocking errors and I'm sorry it happened to you. However, it would have been far better to put a little effort into finding a home for the cichlids, or to return them to the store.

      And you should never, ever, release non-native species into a foreign ecosystem.

      The deed is done. The important thing is to learn and move on.

    • kbdressman profile image

      kbdressman 21 months ago from Harlem, New York

      I was surprised to see you put the Beta fish on your list of fish to include in the tank! We had a 10 gallon fishtank growing up. Bluey, my sister's Beta fish, picked on all the other fishes when they were little. Goldie, our fantail goldfish had lots of little chunks missing out of her tail, thanks to Bluey. (She was still a beauty though!) When all the other fish grew up they started fighting back and Bluey had to be moved to his own fish bowl as a life-saving precaution.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 21 months ago from USA

      @kbdressman: As I said in the article, I don't think a 10-gallon tank is a good environment for keeping Betta with other fish. It may work out, or you may end up with a situation as you described. It sounds like you had several stocking errors going on in your tank, not only the Betta but also the goldfish should not be kept with tropical fish. It's not surprising there was trouble!

      There are circumstances where Betta can live in a community setting, but there are steps you have to take to make sure it is safe for him and other fish. In most cases it is better to keep a Betta alone in a 10-gallon aquarium or with a critter or two (again as I said in the article). Hope this clears things up! :-)

    • kbdressman profile image

      kbdressman 21 months ago from Harlem, New York

      :) Oh I know that our tank was grossly miss-stocked. It was stocked by a daddy following his little girl's squeals of "I want THAT one!" on a trip to the pet store that was mandated by my winning a goldfish at school. There wasn't much time for research, as my new friend had to have a home that day.

      We also learned that sometimes silver goldfish (named treasure) are silver because their old. Which means they die quickly and traumatize the previously excited new owner. And, goldfish with black dots on their forehead (named bandit) don't just have a cool birthmark, they have injuries and brain damage. I can't count how many times that dumb fish ran full speed into the side of the tank. He had a special place in my heart, which is weird, as I don't like stupid people.

    • profile image

      Louise 20 months ago

      Thanks for the advice! I am just starting my first fish tank adventure. I was wondering do fancy guppies and tetras get along? If I got a 10 galloon tank could I get 5 tetra and 3 fancy guppies? Is that enough of each to keep them happy?? Do they get along?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 20 months ago from USA

      Hi Lousie. Not sure what kind of tetras you mean. They are typically peaceful and good community fish, and would be fine with guppies. If they are smaller tetras (neons, cardinals, etc) I think you're stocking idea is fine. If they are larger tetras like black skirts it may be a bit over-crowded. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

    • alphajuno profile image

      alphajuno 20 months ago from League City, TX

      Very good article, thanks. Danios are a small and fun fish for a small tank although they really like swimming and are happy to take advantage of a larger tank as well. Guppies are best when kept with others of the same sex. We got some "bonus" fish when we bought some plants at the fish store. Most were guppies - let me know if anyone wants some :). We keep the males and females separate but removing the males in time is a challenge :).

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 18 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, Great article and I have found out a little about different fish. The photos you have provided are beautiful. I have never had fish in a tank, but I can see the joy it could bring. Thanks, Stella

    • MonetteforJack profile image

      MonetteforJack 17 months ago from Tuckerton, NJ

      My husband and I raised & bred tropical fishes for a hobby. Both of us enjoyed reading your hub. This will help people who are seriously considering to put up a fish tank. It's no easy feat to have a fish tank at the start. There's a lot of learning to do asides from which breed goes with what; there are other things to consider like plants and stones and woods and sand and other decors. It might be a hobby but just like any pet, a fish tank requires responsibility, too.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 17 months ago from USA

      Thanks for the kind words, Monetteforjack! I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub.

    • profile image

      AGold 17 months ago

      I have a 6 gallon Fluval edge. It is stocked with glow tetras, a flying fox, a ram and pleco. In the months that I've had it, several of the fish or getting big and now I see that I should have probably got different fish. While they are all fine, I'm thinking of bringing back some of them and getting others that might be more appropriate. What do you recommend in terms of fish and how many? I also have a male betta in another tank. Can I put him in this tank with any other fish?

    • EricDockett profile image
      Author

      Eric Dockett 17 months ago from USA

      Hi AGold. That's a small tank, and I wouldn't really recommend putting any tropical fish in there. We've all learned lessons the hard way. Good thing the fish are presently healthy. You are smart to re-home them, and pronto. You could maybe keep 3-5 of the glow tetras and see how they do, or try a small school of neons.

      Your 6-gallon would be a great home for your Betta, though. However, I would not advise trying tankmates with him in a tank that small. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Tammy 16 months ago

      I have a 10 gallon tank with 4 goldfish, 2 guppies, and a small sucker fish. Everything was fine for quite a while, but they've been overfed for a few days by accident. The goldfish are hanging out at the bottom now. The guppies seem to be just fine and dandy. & the sucker fish seems fine too. I did a 50% water change yesterday. The guppies don't seem to have been effected by the overfeeding. What do I do? Please help! I fear the goldfish my die.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 16 months ago from USA

      Hi Tammy. Your tank is overstocked. A 10-gallon tank is way too small for 4 goldfish. Also, goldfish and tropical fish are not compatible. They have different water temperature and parameter requirements, and goldfish pollute terribly.

      You can re-home the goldfish, do another water change and let the tank stabilize for a couple of weeks, then add a few more tropical fish. If you like the guppies you can have 3-4 more of those little guys.

      Sorry. That's probably not the answer you were hoping for, but with 4 goldfish plus tropical fish in such a small tank the problems are only going to escalate. If you want to keep the goldfish and raise them to maturity you'll need a 45+ gallon tank for fancies, and if they are comets or commons they'll eventually need to live in a pond.

      Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions.

    • profile image

      Mitch 15 months ago

      Hey, question here! I've got a 10 gallon tank with 3 platies, a molly, an electric tetra, and a cory. Is this overstocked? I've been wanting to get either the molly or electric tetra a friend but I'm not sure if adding any more to the tank would be a good idea.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 15 months ago from USA

      Hi Mitch. I'd say your tank is borderline as-is. The problem is that tetras and cories are shoaling fish, so ideally you'd want a little school of 5-6 of each. That's not going to happen in your tank (I hope). Your options are either to leave things as they are, or upgrade to a bigger tank and add more fish. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!

    • profile image

      Emma 15 months ago

      I'm having a difficult time getting the ammonia level down in my 10 gallon tank. I have had my tank going for 3 weeks. 2 guppies, 2 balloon mollies, and 1 platy were added 1 week ago when the ammonia level was at 0. The ammonia level was only at 0 for 1 day. Everyday I have checked the level and it's been between .25 and .50, so I do a 50% water change. When I check the level afterwards it's still at .25. I've even done a second water change immediately following the 1st one and still .25. So, I've been doing a 50% water change daily for a week now. My tap water is at 0. & Of course I add the water conditioner. Is there anything more I can do to get the level down? Help!

    • profile image

      cold and dank 15 months ago

      I just got a 10 gallon and I don't really have an end-game plan yet for what I want inside it (don't have it cycled yet either so have a while before I'm gonna add anything) but I was thinking of starting with 1 snail and 3 Cory cats. Then I was thinking of having 5 or so tetra/guppy sorta fish along with that. What do you think?

      PS - Excellent article :3 I'm loving the amount of info they're putting on the web about the true needs of these fish. I turn to Internet for everything so when I got a hankering for setting up an aquarium I hit Google before I ever set foot in a pet store. And I'm glad I did as obviously employees just seem to be ill informed, or they know better and are just doing the job, but I like to give them benefit of doubt there..fish are creatures too not "just fish"!!! So again, thank you for your article!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 15 months ago from USA

      @Emma: It certainly sounds like your tank hasn't adjusted to the new bio-load. You didn't say how many fish were in your tank before you added the mollies, platy and guppies. Those fish would be coming close to the limit for your 10-gallon. If you have too many more than that, your tank is overstocked and you may always have trouble getting the parameters under control. Live plants can help a bit and of course you can add chemicals but ultimately the microbe colonies in your tank need to adjust to handle the new fish.

      If you don't think your tank is overstocked all you can do is keep up with your water change strategy until the ammonia drops. It may have been better to add the fish slowly instead of all at once, but nothing you can do about that now. I'm also assuming the tank was properly cycled before any animals were added. Good luck!

      @cold and dank: I think that setup sounds really nice as long as you stick with smallish tetras. Thanks for the kind words! When I was learning about aquarium care many years ago it was tough to find good info (there was no internet) so I just try to pass on what I've learned over the years. There are many fish keepers out there who are a lot smarter than me! :-)

    • profile image

      Rosie 15 months ago

      This article was really interesting to read!

      I'm about to set up my first tank and it's a 10 gallon.

      I was thinking of adding a dwarf gourami and a few fancy guppies. Is it best to get a few (2-3) male guppies or to get one male and a few (2-3) females? I don't want to breed at the moment.

    • profile image

      Diane 15 months ago

      My 10 gallon tank always stay cloud I clean it once a week don't not help what can I do

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 14 months ago from USA

      @Diane: Constant cleaning may be the reason your tank is always cloudy. You may be in a perpetual bacterial bloom of sorts. Do some research on the nitrogen cycle so you better understand how the bacterial colonies in your tank help to keep water conditions under control. These little microbes live everywhere in your tank, but most notably in your filter and substrate. They need to establish themselves and when you constantly clean the tank they reduce in numbers and need to re-populate. I'd back off to partial water changes no more than once a week, and deeper a cleaning monthly. Even when you do deep cleaning you still need to be careful not to disturb the colonies in your filter and substrate too much. Good luck!

      @Rosie: Guppies should be kept with at least 2 females per male to reduce male harassment. Obviously, if you are very concerned about breeding you may wish to have a female-only tank. But most people who breed live-bearers really have to make a effort to keep the fry safe as they are usually consumed by other fish in the tank or even other guppies. You won't necessarily have a plague of guppies in your tank. If that method population control bothers you (it might bother me, to be honest) just go with a female-only tank. Good luck!

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      PamelaDH 14 months ago

      recently replaced a 10 gallon that had housed 2 goldfish for 15 years. got another 10 gallon, a marineland, but am having issues getting the goldfish to live so I decided to go tropical. read what type are good fish for a 10. with my older tank the hood broke so I decided to go with a penguin filter that would clean a 75 gallon. with the live plants, near a window and the waste producing goldfish this was fine and kept it very clean. I don't think the small penguin will keep the tank clean. I don't mind changing but how do you get a hood with lights that will accommodate this change. I do like the led nights that this hood has. read through your threads and have gotten excellent info.

    • EricDockett profile image
      Author

      Eric Dockett 14 months ago from USA

      Hi Pamela. I'm not sure I'm following correctly. You have a Marineland 10-gallon with a hood you like, but the hood broke and you want to use the larger filter and are trying to figure out how to get a hood to accommodate it. (???)

      As long as you don't overstock your tank, a filter appropriate for a 10-gallon should be all you need. If you have a filter for a 75-gallon tank it is overkill. If the tank measures normal dimensions for a 10-gallon you ought to be able to get a basic hood and light from a pet store. If not, you may need to contact the manufacturer for a replacement hood.

      If I am not understanding something let me know! :-)

    • profile image

      Valerie 13 months ago

      These articles really hit home. I work at a animalerie and we carry a large assortment of fish. Customers want what they want no matter what and when they come back a few days later and one fish has eaten the other, all of a sudden it is my fault??????

    • EricDockett profile image
      Author

      Eric Dockett 13 months ago from USA

      At least you are trying, Valerie. Many shops that sell fish have uneducated workers who give customers terrible information to begin with. Your shop is lucky to have you. All you can do is try to be a voice of reason and point customers in the right direction.

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      Maja 13 months ago

      I have a single common goldfish (about 2-3 inches long) in my 10 gallon tank. Although it won't happen any time soon, my family was thinking of putting some neon tetras in the tank too. Sushi previously ate his former tankmate who was slightly smaller whem they were bot an inch long, and I'm afraid that will happem to the tetras too. Will it or am I just being super careful?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 13 months ago from USA

      Hi Maja. I do not advise mixing tropical fish and goldfish. They have different care requirements and should be kept separately. Also, that goldfish will outgrow a 10-gallon tank. When he gets bigger you'll need to think about moving him to a larger aquarium. Good luck!

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      Kayebabe 13 months ago

      Can I get a pleco and two Oscars in a 10 gallon fish tank?

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      Eric Dockett 13 months ago from USA

      @Kayebabe: Absolutely not. As juveniles they would be temporarily okay, but if you take a moment to research their adult size you'll see that both of those fish grow much, much too large for a 10-gallon. I'd be thinking about a 75-gallon.

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      FishMom 12 months ago

      I currently have a gorgeous blue Betta in a 10 gallon tank with 6 Harlequin Rasboras, 4 Ghost Shrimp, a zebra nerite snail, and have been trying to add a couple additional cardinal tetras to my current 3 without overloading (so they have a nice little school). I have a Java fern, two other plants, driftwood, and bought a slightly more powerful filter to see if it allows the higher bioload. I don't want a super strong current for my betta, so we'll see how they react. I tend to do a 15% water change each week. The cardinals don't get very big and occupy different space from the shrimp/snail, so I have not stuck strictly to the 10 fish (in.) per 10 gallon rule, but I think it would be best to either put 8 cardinals or 8 Rasboras with a betta in a 10 gallon tank, rather than the smaller schools of each that I have (assuming they're properly acclimated and the betta is carefully added last). I've had the tank a few months and only had trouble adjusting the cardinals to my water that has a high pH from adding a few too many minerals back into the distilled/filtered water that I mix with tap (Perfect water aside from high pH from time to time). Otherwise, it's a lovely tank that both me and my small boys—and husband, too—enjoy!

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      Eric Dockett 12 months ago from USA

      Sounds nice, FishMom! It will be getting a little tight if you intend to have 16 small fish besides the Betta, but you seem to know what you're doing. Live plants help a lot. Good luck with your pretty little 10-gallon!

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      Jonathan 11 months ago

      Hello Eric, great post. Helps beginners like myself a lot!

      I currently have a Crown Tail Betta in a 2.5 ga tank, and love it. I plan to add a 10 gallon tank. What would you say would be a good distribution of the following fish you mentioned?

      Corydoras (Cory Catfish)

      Dwarf Gourami

      Fancy Guppy

      Can you recommend adding one more to the above list?

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      Eric Dockett 11 months ago from USA

      Hi Jonathan. It depends on how many of each you are putting in there. Ideally, cories should be in small schools, if you have six of them plus 4-6 guppies and a pair of dwarf gourami your tank is pretty well stocked. If you stock fewer cories and guppies you can have another small school of neons or something. Remember with a 10-gallon tank it is really easy to overstock so I always err on the conservative side.

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      Yoyo4567 10 months ago

      Can I put one single small-ish pleco in my ten-gallon. I was hoping I'd be able to add some tetras too.

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      @Yoyo: As I said in this article, you should not add a common pleco to a 10-gallon talk. They grow much, much too large. Consider a small school of otos instead.

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      Shy 10 months ago

      I currently have a 10 gallon fairly planted, it currently has a betta and 3 corys. I think bettas can go with others at that stage but you really have to know your fish and provide plenty of hides and keep your stock smaller than you would with other species. since bettas are primarily top swimmers and corys bottom ones, they don't bother each other much. I'm especially lucky because my betta has a very mild temperament which I knew going into placing him with others... I've seen him let the corys rest on him or run into him and he doesn't chase after.

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      LBfromTX 9 months ago

      I have bought tetras twice. Once from my local pet store. We ended up getting behind an accident and the road was closed so it took us over 45 minutes to get home. I then bought a set of 7 glow tetras in a 10 lb tank from a neighbor who didn't want to maintain any longer. Needless to say they lived in an algae filled tank for about a month she said. Basically telling me these guys were indestructible ( exaggerating of course but basically saying their resilient little fellas).

      I get home super clean the rocks. The toys. The tank. Took better part of 2 hours. I put water in and reset the tank. Tasted the ph to make sure it was between the 6.5-7 that I read on another site they needed. I put a tap water equalizer and put that in as well.

      So I put the fish in. All the lights are on and they glow beautifully. Within about 15 mins they shoot from one side of the tank to the other and start to do the belly up dance. I freak out because that's what happened to the other three I had throught had died because of the stress of the long ride and not having oxygen in the bag they came in.

      So I think I'm doing something wrong. Any tips or ideas of something I may be missing. I am a total fish owner beginner. I have had a beta in the past and it lived about 4 years but these are new to me.

      Eric thanks for the very informative articles. I have been really bummed all these fishes died :-/

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      Eric Dockett 9 months ago from USA

      Hi LB: Sorry about your fish. When fish are coming from an abusive environment it is sometimes hard to guess what might be wrong with them. It sounds like you did many things correctly, but one thing you didn't mention was whether you cycled the tank.

      New tanks must go through a cycle where the microbe colonies are allowed to grow so they can properly process the waste. Otherwise, the fish will quickly pollute the tank and create a toxic situation,

      However, when your fish reacted so quickly to the tank water it makes me think there might be something off with your tap water. Or, in your process of cleaning the tank.You need to be sure there are no chemicals or detergents in the water, including chlorine. Sometimes tap water can include all kinds of things that are "okay" for humans but deadly for fish. Maybe it would be a good idea to have your local fish store test the water and see if it is safe, or ask them if they have heard of any other issues with tap water in your area.

      Good luck and let me know how things go!

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      Robert Sacchi 9 months ago

      A couple of silly questions: What did you use to clean the tank? How did you to the transfer from what the fish were in to getting them in the tank?

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      Madelyn 8 months ago

      Help! I think I overstocked my 10 gallon. I have: 1 dalmatian molly, 1 dwarf fire gorami, 1 red wag platy, 1 black skirted tetra, 1 orange Molly, and today I just bought 2 Bueno Aires Tetras on the account of a fish seller at petsmart who said with my situation I should get them because my tetra is a schooling fish.

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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      Hi Madelyn. I don't think your tank is overstocked right now, but you have made some odd choices. Please learn a little more about the types of fish you wish to have in your tank before buying more. The tetras (both black skirt and Buenos Aires) are indeed schooling fish and should be kept in a group of 6 each or more, which you do not currently have the room for.

      We all make stocking mistakes when we are first starting out. Just learn from your mistakes and it won't happen again. Good luck!

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      Nyeesha 8 months ago

      Hello,

      I recently had bought a 10 gallon tank. From the suggestion of the petsmart employee we had a pleco and a black molly and some other kind of fish that I don't remember but anyway all the fish died. All the fish we have ever put in the tank died and we are not sure why. Is there any suggestions you can make for beginners about what fish to start with and how many to start with?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      Hi Nyeesha. This article has my best advice for stocking a 10-gallon tank. There are a few more things you should think about though. Did you cycle the tank before adding fish? Did you test your water source to make sure it is safe and then treat it if necessary? Before you add any more fish I would make sure you are addressing these basic things.

      Here is more advice more newbies: https://museum-pu.spb.ru/fish-aquariums/How-to-Care-...

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      Nyeesha 8 months ago

      Thank you Eric. When you say cycle the tank,do you mean let it run for 24 hours? I definitely did not do that so I imagine it would probably make a big difference. Is there a certain amount of fish I should start with?

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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      @Nyeesha. You need to do some research on how to properly cycle a fish tank. There is more to it than letting the tank run. It is also wise to spend a few bucks on a water testing kit so you can monitor your water parameters.

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      Mickey 8 months ago

      Hi, Can neon tetras and Guppies live together? We have a 10 gallon tank so how many can be housed inside?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      Hi Mickey. They should be fine together. I wouldn't have more than 5 of each in a 10-gallon tank, and no other fish.

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      Tim 6 months ago

      What fish species would you recommend for a 10 gallon tank? I have a 10 gallon that has been running for a few weeks now, and it's got some dwarf hairgrass and other plants growing in it. Looking to add some fish now, and would love any advice on what type and how many to put in there. If possible I'd like to have some small bottom feeders from the catfish family, maybe some ghost shrimp, and some small, pretty schooling fish like guppies or neon tetras to swim in the middle and top of the tank. Would this combination of fish work? If so, how many of each? Thanks!

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      Eric Dockett 6 months ago from USA

      @Tim. The fish I recommend are outlined in this very article. Check it out.

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      FishNewbie 4 months ago

      I really appreciate your post about the fish types for a small tank. I did have 2 questions I'd like your help with. 5/6 Cori's and 2 fire dwarfs and a mystery snail with live plants such as Amazon sword and ferns... Is this too much and over stocked?

      And two. when doing the water changes what do you recommend for getting the "junk" off the substrate without disturbing the needed bacteria and such in a cycled tank? My city water is very hard and the conditioner doesn't seem to help much. Any advice or pages you can point me to for some much needed knowledge? Thanks for your help and post. It's appreciated.

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Fishnewbie: Your tank might be a little tight, but especially with the live plants I think you're okay. However, keep an eye on the Amazon sword. You'll need to keep it trimmed back as the typical size is a little too large for a 10-gallon tank.

      If you don't want to refill your tank with the tap water you can still use a gravel vac to clean the substrate and simply send the water down the drain or outside. You'll then need to refill the tank from another source, such as bottled water. It's not terribly bad with a 10g as a couple of one-gallon jugs of water equal a 20% water change. Just make sure you test your new water source, even if it is bottled water.

      Good luck with your tank!

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      Will 4 months ago

      If I wanted to stock a tank with 3 corey cats and 5 or 6 Neon tetras, would this work. Could I mix tetra speicies.Or should I get fancy guppies. Please help

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      Hi Will. You're stocking sounds fine to me. As for mixing tetra species, it depends on what you mean by that. Will they get along? Probably. Will they have the reduced stress that comes with living in a school if there are only a few of each? Maybe not. That's why I always recommend 5-6 of each species. You may wish to stick to either one school of tetras or a small group of fancy guppies. That's my opinion. Good luck!

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      Amanda 4 months ago

      Hi. We are in the process of setting up a 10 gallon freshwater tank for my 3.5 year old. (Don't worry.. we will be caring for the fish!) We want colorful, pretty, active fish... my son really wants a little frog (they had them at the pet store).. recommendations? I like the idea of variety... we plan on possibly upgrading if all goes well..

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Amanda: African dwarf frogs are small and relatively easy to care for, and do well with most community fish. Colorful fish would include neons and other similar tetras, fancy guppies, dwarf gourami. Good luck with your new tank!

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      Amanda 4 months ago

      We were looking at a cherry barb? We would get a couple.. I have heard they're super active once they get comfortable. Is that bad idea for such a small tank? Also, since pleco is a bad idea for a small tank (my hubby was set on this one) is there another that will clean up like it would? Thanks so much for your input. My father in law had a huge salt water tank for a long time so my husband has had fish before, but I've never had a fish before.. so I have no idea what I'm doing!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Amanda: If you go for cherry barbs I'd think about a school of 5 or 6. . They school loosely, and they are somewhat active. I had a school in a 55-gal semi-aggressive tank and they worked out very well. One of my favorite fish.

      Instead of the pleco consider a small school of 5-6 Otocinclus catfish (otos). Like plecos they stick to the glass and eat algae, but they are tiny, only about an inch or so in length. But, remember, the ultimate job of cleaning up algae goes to the tank owner. Fish can't do the job all on their own.

      If you had the cherry barbs and the otos that would probably be the limit for a 10-gallon. Both are schooling fish, and so you'd need 5-6 of each.

      Good luck!

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      Amanda 4 months ago

      Thanks Eric for your input! Still messing with what to do.. I like the idea of variety. I think this is too many... we wanted to stay under 10. But so far this is what were thinking... 2 cory catfish, 1 african dwarf frog, 2-3 fancy guppies, 2-3 dwarf gourami, 2-3 cherry barb, 1 gold mystery snail... thoughts? Any no-nos or conflicts in our choices?

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      Hi Amanda. In my opinion that's too many fish for a 10 gallon. Also, the guppies, cories and cherry barbs are shoaling fish, which means you need 5-6 of them minimum to keep their stress levels down. Dwarf gourami can be aggressive (I know, the pet stores say they aren't) and I'd especially be concerned with them and the frog. The frogs tend to sit at the top of the water where they can be easily picked on. I'd consider paring this down to either a school of cories and a school of cherry barbs or guppies. You could maybe add the frogs or the snail as well, but not both. Or, go with the cories and a pair of a dwarf gourami.

      It really comes down to understanding the needs of the fish and pairing them accordingly.

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      Amanda 4 months ago

      Hi again Eric! Thanks for your input. Our tank was ready.. water tested great so we got a few fish yesterday... 2 cories and 3 guppies to start and I think we may stick with a school of guppies and a school of cories, although I still love the idea of a couple barbs too. We decided against the frog because not only were half of them dead in the tank they were in (they said they just came in yesterday and it happens like that from the stress from moving), but the lady said that often times you have to essentially hand feed them or the fish will just eat their food and they'll starve. Anyways... to my question... We were thinking like 6 cories and 6 guppies.. or could we do 6 cories and 3 guppies and 3 cherry barbs? Is that too much? Also, is it okay to mix species of cories? what about guppies? I've found mixed opinions online about this.. some say yes, some say no.. the lady at the pet store said yes... We currently have a julii cory and a sterbai cory, a fancy guppy, a yellow guppy, and a red-gold tuxedo guppy.. We were planning on going back sunday afternoon to get a few more. Appreciate your thoughts since I'm a total newbie.

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      Hi Amanda. Again: Cories, guppies and cherry barbs are schooling fish and should be in groups of 5-6 minimum. My advice is to make your decision based around that. I can't advocate having only 3 of any of them in a tank.

      Depending on what other fish you have in the tank the frogs may struggle to get food. I always used a mix of sinking pellets and flake food.

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      Amanda 3 months ago

      Thanks for your input.

      We are struggling at this and have decided guppies aren't working... The 4 we started with died. We still have 3 cories.. we lost 2.. finally got the ammonia levels back under control. In talking with friends who have some experience we decided on platies... We got 4 platies (red wag, sunburst wag, sunburst, and sunburst mickey mouse) and a powder blue dwarf gourami today to join our 3 cories.. Planning on seeing how it goes with these for the next week or two and then possibly adding another dwarf gourami, another platy or two, or possibly another cory or two...

      Couple questions...

      First, we currently have no live plants.. should we? I read that both dwarf gourami and platies like them and they can help with the water parameters. If so, what do you recommend?

      Also, do we need to replace those cories? The cories aren't very active and tend to hide so they aren't my son's fav. (We have two julii and a sterbai.. we lost a panda and a sterbai)

      Lastly, if we decide to get a second dwarf gourami does it have to be the same kind (powder blue)? Ours is male.. female best for the second?

      Thanks again we really are trying! Any input is appreciated as we are newbies and don't want my son to have to deal with losing more fish (at least not for awhile)!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      @Amanda: Regarding the cories: Whether you replace them or not is up to you. If you decide to keep them, again, they should be in a small school, all of the same type. I'd concentrate on ONE type of cory and have at least 5 of them.

      Hiding is what cories do when they aren't looking for food. It's a defense mechanism. They don't know they aren't going to be eaten in your tank. :-) You can make it a game to "find the cories" in your tank to make it more interesting for your son.

      Live plants can help, but you have to take care of them like you do fish. In a small tank they will need to be trimmed back to avoid them taking over. I've always liked Amazon Swords, but they do get somewhat large.

      Whether you choose male or female for your 2nd dwarf gourami, they may or may not get along. That's why I advised above to have hiding spots for one fish to escape if the other becomes very aggressive. If you want to avoid that drama altogether, stick with one gourami.

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      SoleFish7 3 months ago

      I'm thinking of stocking my 10 gallon tank with 6 ember tetras, 3 cory catfish, and 1 dwarf gournami. Is this too much?

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      SoleFish7 3 months ago

      I'm thinking of stocking my 10 gallon tank with 5-6 ember tetras, 2-3 Cory cats, and 1 dwarf gournami. Does this sound overstocked?

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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      @solefish: Seems okay, but I'd think of having a slightly larger school of cories. Good luck!

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      josh 3 months ago

      i have a 40g freshwater planted refugium that is the filter for a 72g bowfront turtle tank, the single turtle has a single goldfish friend (was a feeder fish, now the size of a decent pork chop). the planted tank has been running for about 4 months now so its well cycled and the plants are growing well and some (dwarf grass hairs, moss plants) have runners growing and spreading out.

      im having a massive algae buildup in the planted 'fuge space and am looking for a suggestion for algae consuming fish that would be compatable with goldfish type water, wont tear up all my plants, and would be comfortable in 15 gallons of "real estate". (i measured it out and, with out taking into consideration how much room the plants are taking up, between my dividers, and measuring the gravel/sand bed at the shallowest spot to average the living space i have exactly 14.9 gallons of space to add algae consuming animals)

      can you suggest what i may add that is compatible. id like to keep it simple with 1 or 2 species, example: 4-5 dwarf otto cats and 3-4 shrimp.

      also please take into consideration that this is in essence a "sewer system" for the turtle and though the plants are doing a good job, they have to be kinda hardy incase a random spike happens.

      thanks

      ps though great article, you didnt talk about real estate issues vs decoration.. i have seen some 10g tanks that have the infamous "bubbler boats" that turn that 10g tank into a 7g tank, and most people still account for 10g of living space when trying to plan species placement.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      Hi Josh. First, great point about the real estate issue. This is one of the reasons I think it is important to consider the needs of the fish we are stocking as well as the environment we intend to create rather than simply going by tank size.

      As for recommending algae eaters, I think the otos and shrimp are a good idea. I'd think you'd want to avoid even smaller pleco species because of the plants. But, a little army of otos might do just fine.

      However, I'm a little concerned that this environment might be a bit too rough for tropical fish. They'll make some impact on the algae, but you're still going to have to do most of the work yourself to keep it clean. I'd put some thought into whether it is worth it or not to add them in there. You seem to know what you are doing, and obviously it is your decision here. Good luck!

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      Josh 3 months ago

      eric, that was a quick reply. i appreciate that. ive had this turtle for about 15 years now, in a 20g home. but only within the last 5 years i have been able to afford growing and expanding his tank, with trial and error too boot.. i got his 40g breeder tank with a $1 a gallon deal at a LFS, with a canister filter and it worked great then last year i picked up the 72 gallon tank for $50 yea it was a great deal. but the canister filter didnt like the 72g and kept flooding so with some quick research i came up with the 'fuge. i liked the idea of the more self sustaining environment, and if i had the space i would get that nice 180g tank using the 72g as a fuge that i could habitat live bearing fish in for feeders.

      you voiced concerned about the environment, did you mean cold water vs tropic or the possability of pollutants? if its temp wise, i plan on switching my tank heater to the smaller tank with the theroy that because the water moves fairly slow through the fuge it should hold the tropic temps better and balance out, if its pollutants i have about 6 or so common small pond snails from a neighbors molly/platty tank and they havnt died yet so im hoping the water will hold fish. though im pretty sure these snails are the equivalent of a cockroach in that it can survive a nuclear blast haha..

      anyways i know i discussed a few advanced topics for a basic article, id still like to hear a little feedback if possible. thank you very much.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      Hi Josh. Yes, my concerns were mainly water temp and quality. Pond snails are pretty tough little critters and I don't know that they are a great benchmark of water quality. I used to raise them in a small tank as food for my green spotted puffers and while I did my best to keep the tank tidy it was no environment I'd ever keep a fish. The snails did fine, though. I'm a little surprised you haven't had a snail explosion with all the algae, but I guess that's a good sign.

      If you feel you have a good plan you can always give it shot and see how it goes. I'm interested in hearing the results. Good luck!

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      Amanda 3 months ago

      Hi there. Stocking question again.. We currently have 6 platies, 1 dwarf gourami and one cory catfish. Is that too many fish? We had so many issues with water parameters getting crazy that we lost the other cories :( We had only 4 platies, however one of the male platies was getting dominant with the other male so we needed to get a few more females to try to get him to simmer down. The lady at the pet store made me think it was too many fish.. because its too many inches? We are hoping that this last surviving cory makes it, however he still doesnt look great (coloring is very pale) so were waiting to see if things turn around for him before we get him more friends and we would like to ensure that the water parameters stay good so that we aren't just bringing more home to die. So, are we currently overstocked? Would we be overstocked if our cory survies and we decide to get him 4-5 friends? Thanks in advanced for your input again!

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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      @Amanda: If I were you I'd let things sit for a while, given the issues you've had already. I think it would be a little tight with more cories but not terrible, but that's considering you can get your water parameters under control for the long term.

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      Sebastian 2 months ago

      Is 6 neon tetras and one nerite snail in a 10 gallon tank considered overstocking?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      @Sebastian: I think you're okay. :-)

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      Ashley 8 weeks ago

      This website is so awesome! I wanted to see what other cool kind of fish I could get besides my GloFish in my 10 gallon tank!

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      Person 1 13 days ago

      The only things that can go in a 10 gallon, are following:

      Neon and Black Neon Tetras

      Platys

      Mollies

      Betta fish

      Guppies

      Snails

      Shrimp

      Swordtails

      Endlers Livebearers and Guppies

      good information :)

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      Betta newbie 12 days ago

      Hi Richard. I just cleaned my tank from algae bloom I had along time ago so all the algae was dead. I put in various chemicals. Then I when to petco and for some teteras and some black and a bristle nose pleco. The pletco is doing amazing and the teteras just at in the corner actting stressed out. I tested my water and the water qualities are perfect. So I have no clue what's wrong so can you please help me - betta newbie

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 12 days ago from USA

      Hi Betta newbie. Not sure what you have going on there. Maybe some chemical lingering that the tetras aren't liking? Have you done any water changes since introducing the chemicals?

      By the way, there are ways to deal with algae without resorting to chemicals: https://museum-pu.spb.ru/fish-aquariums/Aquarium-Alg...

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      Shanna black 10 days ago

      Hi Eric I got some fish from petco a couple weeks back and when the light is off there fine they love exploring the tank t as soon as I turn the light on they go into the corner and hide and act stressed I don't know what to do I tested my water d e qualities are perfect do you think is had to do with the species the black skirts and some type of neon

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 10 days ago from USA

      Hi Shanna. Don't know but here are some thoughts: Both black skirts and neons are schooling fish that require a small group for security. If you have 10-12 of them they may feel a little crowded in a 10-gallon tank. If you have fewer than 5 of each they may be feeling some stress from the lack of other of their kind.

      Is there any cover in the form or decoration and artificial plants? Perhaps the light is a little too much for them.

      Do they eventually relax? Sometimes a sudden change in light can stress fish out in the short term.