As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. The Witty Fish is reader-supported and we hope you love the products we recommend!
In order to find the best 10 gallon fish tank for your home you need some basic aquarium knowledge. Also, once you know what you are looking for you need to know what’s on the market.
A 10 gallon fish tank is a popular choice because it’s ideal for beginners. It is cheap, simple and gives you many options. While the size of a 10 gallon fish tank is small, it’s just big enough to have a small school of fish or one happy beta!
In this article we will discuss important features and review the following tanks:
Essential fish tank equipment
Choosing the best 10 gallon fish tank requires an understanding of the basic required equipment. Different set ups can determine the type of equipment you need. Every healthy environment will include a filter, heater, light source, substrate, and decoration. Most glass aquarium starter kits include these basic components.
There are a wide variety of fish tanks and fish tank kits on the market. Glass aquariums or glass tanks are generally superior to acrylic tanks. While acrylic tanks are lighter and won’t shatter they have their shortfalls.
The biggest shortfall is that they scratch easily. Almost too easily. They can also become brittle and discolored with age. As long as it is well cared for a glass aquarium can last a lifetime.
Aquarium Water Filter
The best filter will provide mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. This three-pronged approach will help ensure that you have good water quality. You will need this if you want a thriving aquarium with fish and plant life.
Filter materials vary based on the intended type of filtration. Synthetic wool and synthetic sponges provide excellent mechanical filter materials. Biological and chemical filtration use charcoal and chemical treatments to maintain water quality.
For filter types there are two basic kinds. They are an internal filter or an external filter. Internal filters are placed, fully submerged in the water of the aquarium. This reduces the turbulence of the filter. External filters are mounted outside of the tank and pull water out, filter it, and pump it back in. These are great for small tanks because of the gentle, aerating quality of the design.
Maintaining your filter is very important for the health of your aquarium. The sponges and other media should be rinsed gently to remove any solids. They should not we washed or scrubbed harshly. This is where the beneficial bacteria lives that we want to keep. Activated charcoal cartridges should be changed regularly on a schedule.
A heater is a necessity if you plan to keep tropical fish or plants in your aquarium. Always check the requirements for your specific types of fish and plants, and adjust accordingly.
Heaters can help ensure your tank doesn’t get too cool. This is especially true if the temperature around your tank tends to fluctuate at night. Even if you don’t plan on having tropical fish, a heater might still be needed.
Make sure you do your research and buy the most reliable heater you can find. Many of the cheap ones have been known to get stuck on and fry your fish. For an in-depth look at aquarium heaters check out my post on selecting the best aquarium heater.
Aquarium Fish Tank Lighting
Lights will provide illumination for viewing pleasure. They can also be a light source for plant life.
Fluorescent lights used to be the most common aquarium light used. Nowadays Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) have gained popularity. This is due to their efficiency, durability, small size, and high light output.
The best LED light fixtures can be customized to display different intensities or spectrum’s of light. You can emphasize blues or reds for a fun multi-colored theme. Or you can create a natural light spectrum for your planted fish tank.
If going with a planted tank make sure you have enough light. Many desirable plants need a lot of light and no 10 gallon aquarium kit will provide enough. You will need to purchase more expensive lights. Instead, make sure select some low light aquarium plants if you’re not ready for the expense.
The substrate of an aquarium fills the bottom of the tank and provides many benefits. A good substrate helps in water filtration and balancing water chemistry. If you have plants it also provides a place for the roots to anchor.
To choose the best substrate, consider the plant and fish life of your aquarium. Also, consider the desired aesthetic look of your fish tank.
If your planning on adding aquatic plants to your 10 gallon aquarium do your research. Are your plant’s root feeders or column feeders? This will make a big difference in the substrate you will need. No matter the type of plant make sure you have at least 3 inches of substrate.
Substrate choice has a very noticeable effect on your fish tank aesthetics. Choosing a dark-colored substrate can help you create a modern feel. Going with a natural-looking substrate can help you create a rustic look. When it comes to design options, substrate can give you many choices!
Decor and Plants
For those of you who are more visual than technical, this is where you can really have some fun. There are a wide variety of aquarium designs and themes to choose from.
If you want a natural-looking fish tank, choose live plants and natural decorations. If you want a quirky, bright-looking fish tank, there are many artificial decorations to choose from.
When looking for decorations, it’s generally best to stay away from plastic materials. When plastic is left in water for a long stretch of time, it begins to deteriorate. It will also need to be cleaned to prevent the build-up of biofilm.
Natural decorations include lava rock substrate, sea wood, and live plants. Lava rock has great water filtration capacity and has a very aesthetic look. Sea wood is also a fun choice for natural aquarium decor.
Fish Tank Placement
Even a 10 gallon glass aquarium can be quite heavy when filled with water. So make sure whatever you are placing it on can bear the weight.
Its also best to place your aquarium out of direct sunlight and in an easily accessible area. Too much sunlight can cause algae to grow in your fish tank. Avoid this problem by putting your tank away from windows.
Also, place the fish tank in an easy-to-reach area. This will make feeding and cleaning your tank much easier.
The Best 10 Gallon Fish Tank Reviews
The Aqueon 10 gallon fish tank is a great starter tank. It is very easy to assemble and includes all the basic components to include fish food. It also includes a pre-set heater which most aquarium kits do not.
This Aqueon aquarium isn’t a fancy cube or bow-shaped tank with hidden filter compartments. It is a standard rectangle-shaped glass aquarium. While not as fancy, these basic rectangular tanks are easier to maintain and clean.
It comes with LED lights that are more than adequate for illuminating the fish tank. They should also be just bright enough for low light aquarium plants.
An interesting feature on the filter compartment is the red indicator light. It turns on when the filter cartridge needs to be replaced. While a neat feature it can be finicky at times and falsely indicate the need for a cartridge change.
Overall this is a great aquarium starter kit with all of the major components you will need to get started.
- Internal LED hood light system
- Full hood with feeding hatch
- Quiet filter feature
- Includes a preset feature
- Basic rectangular design is easy to maintain
- Replacement parts for hood difficult to find
- Rectangular design not very aesthetic
The Hagen Fluval Flex 9 gallon tank is a great tank for someone who wants a little style. The convex front piece of this glass aquarium makes the look and feel of this aquarium very contemporary. It also has a hidden filter compartment in the back to give it a clean look.
The LED lighting system has various mood lighting settings to include a storm setting with lighting. While this is a very cool feature the novelty does wear off. The lights are bright and very capable of supporting low and even some medium light plants. The lights can also be set on a timer and the intensity adjusted.
All of this is controlled with a small remote. The downside to this is that if you lose the remote you also lose the ability to control your lights.
Another great feature of this fish tank is the three-stage filtration system. This includes foam, chemical, and biological media. There is also more room to add more foam or ceramic media if desired. This filter system is a step above the cheap filters of other aquarium kits.
- Contemporary design
- LED lights powerful enough for plants
- Remote operation
- Hidden three-stage filtration system
- Cannot control lights without the remote
- Glass is thin
The Marina LED Aquarium Kit is a great choice for the beginner with its simple design. Its a glass aquarium and includes all of the basic components to get you started. It does not include a heater, however. Depending upon what fish or plants you choose you may not need this.
It has a standard “hang on back” style filter that runs quiet and does an adequate job. This style of filter is great for the beginner because they are easy to clean and change the cartridges. These cartridges are brand specific but you can easily add your own foam or media to the compartment.
The LED lighting is a bright white that will support plants. The only downside is that they are not adjustable. Accessories included are water conditioner, biological supplement, fishnet and an aquarium care guide.
- Easy setup
- Clip-on filter is easy to maintain
- Natural LED lighting will support plants
- Includes accessories with instructions
- One light setting
- Brand-specific filter cartridges
The main distinction of the Penn Plax Aquarium tank kit its curved corners and it’s see-through hood combo. The frameless and seamless front allows unobstructed viewing on all sides.
This tank features a cascade internal filter that is attached to the inside of the tank. This location makes it a bit difficult to change the filter. It requires that you remove the entire filter mechanism from the tank. The flow rate is adjustable which is a nice feature but the pump is noisy.
The LED light fixture is a bit flimsy and not quite bright enough to support plant life. It also does not have an on/off switch so hooking it up to a timer may be necessary. It is adequate if you don’t want or need much light, however.
Overall, the design of this tank is a winner but the light and pump hold it back some. So if you love the look go for it, just buy a separate lighting system and maybe a filter.
- See-through top
- Curved corners offer seamless viewing
- Very easy setup
- Filter takes up very little room
- LED lights not bright enough for plants
- No on/off switch for light
- Filter pump is noisy
For those of you who want to customize or have better components don’t buy a starter kit. Instead, just buy a 10 gallon tank. This gives you the option to research and buy your own lights, filter pump, and hood. This is actually the route I took with my betta tank.
The Aqueon 10 gallon aquarium is a great no-frills aquarium. Its basic rectangular design will allow you the most options for components and decor.
This is a durable high quality glass tank with good construction. Other than some excessive silicone in places, Aqueon does a good job at quality control.
- Simple classic design
- Durable silicone adhesive
- Thick glass
- No lid
- Must by equipment separately
Final Verdict on the best 10 Gallon Tank?
Out of all the products reviewed only the Aqueon 10 Gal LED Aquarium Kit comes with all of the major components. The main component missing in almost all other aquarium kits is the heater. The Aqueon provides this for you.
So if you are looking for one kit that gives you everything you need this would be it.
My personal choice, however, would be the Hagen HG Fluval Flex Aquarium. I just love the look. From the bow front to the hidden filter compartment, it is one sleek design. It also has a great LED lighting system.
What are your thoughts? Do you disagree? Or did I leave and aquarium out I should have included?
Setting Up Your 10 Gallon Fish Tank
To set up your aquarium, follow these simple steps.
- Gather all necessary components. This includes the tank, filtration system, hood, lighting elements, and other accessories.
- Wash all internal materials with warm water. Internal materials include substrate, rocks, and decorations. You can wash your substrate in a colander or in a mesh cloth to ensure no gravel goes down the drain. Place the substrate on the bottom of the fish tank.
- Fill your aquarium with three gallons of room temperature water. Add a water conditioner to de-chlorinate if you are using tap water.
- Connect the air pump, filtration system and install. This process may vary based on the particular tank set you have, so be sure to read instructions for proper placement and operation.
- Add your aquatic plants (if applicable). Anchor the roots to something or plant in substrate depending upon the type of plant. Make sure the temperature of the water is optimal for your plants you want to add. Also, ensure the plants stay moist throughout the entire planting process.
- Add any remaining decorations to the tank.
- If applicable, secure your tank heating device to the proper place on the side of the tank.
- Fill your tank with water and add a corresponding amount of water conditioner. Carefully check for any leaks.
- Plug in all of your aquarium’s operating parts, including the air pump, power filter, and heater. Allow your aquarium to operate for a few hours, and verify the proper operation of all equipment.
Aquarium Nitrogen Cycling
A healthy fish tank is one that converts the ammonia in fish waste and fish food into less harmful nitrate. This process is called the nitrogen cycle.
When a fish tank is first set up, the nitrogen cycle can take between six and seven weeks to balance. This is because the beneficial bacteria responsible for this process needs to colonize the tank. Aquarium plants also aid in this process and need time to acclimate and grow.
Generally, you should only add one fish to a 10 gallon aquarium to start this process. Do your research and ensure you choose a hardy breed.
Continual water monitoring for ammonia and nitrites will help you determine when the cycle has begun. Aquarium water test kits are required for this step but are very affordable.
The natural balancing of nitrogen should occur by the fifth or sixth week. At this point ammonia and nitrite should be at 0 ppm while nitrate will be above 0 ppm. Once you reach this stage you can begin adding more fish.
How many fish can I put in a 10 gallon tank?
The general “rule of thumb” is for every gallon of water, you can have one inch of fish. Or, one centimeter per liter. So with a 10 gallon tank, you could comfortably have 10 neons.
Keep in mind this is a general rule and applies to average-sized fish. You should not keep one ten-inch fish in a 10 gallon tank. Likewise, you will not be able to keep as many big-bodied fish like goldfish or cichlids as you could neons.
A 10 gallon aquarium is a great place to start with the fishkeeping hobby. I hope the info you found here was helpful and gets you started in my lifelong passion.