5 Best 10 Gallon Fish Tanks for Beginners and Experts 2019

It used to be that all fish tanks were basically the same: a large rectangle with a black lid. If you wanted to get fancy, you might even be able to find a tank with a faux-wood lid.

But all that has changed. Now there are so many different tank designs and filter types out there that choosing your next tank can be a bit of a challenge.

If you’re looking for a new 10-gallon tank, we have some tips for you as well as our picks for the best 10-gallon fish tanks. Whether you’re new to fishkeeping or a seasoned aquarist, you’re going to want to keep reading.

Is a 10-Gallon Tank the Right Choice for Your Needs?

10-gallon tanks have always been the perfect starter tanks for new fish owners, but they’re also great choices for seasoned fish keepers looking to start a specialty or brooding tank. But, before you set your sights on this sized tank, it’s worth taking a moment to make sure its the right size for your needs.

Number of Fish

The standard rule for the number of fish in a tank is one inch per gallon. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a 10-gallon tank can hold 10 fish.

Fish vary in size by species and age. Always take into account the size your fish will be when fully grown when calculating how many fish you can fit.

When measuring your fish, look at the approximate size of their body (not including the tail). Most popular tropical fish like tetras tend to be about an inch each, while goldfish can vary greatly in size and you often won’t know how big they’ll be until after you purchase them.

Spruce Pets recommends also taking into account the amount of space taken up by decor and plants. Your 10-gallon tank is likely to only hold 8 or 9 gallons of water after you factor in rocks, filters, and decorations.

Care

Unlike a fishbowl, which can be easily scrubbed clean while your fish hang out in a temporary container, a 10-gallon tank requires regular upkeep.

Fishkeeping World recommends weekly checks of the water’s PH and ammonia levels and a partial water change every 2 to 3 weeks. For this degree of maintenance, you’ll need special test strips for water purity as well as an aquarium vacuum and chlorine-free water.

You’ll also need to clean and replace your filters routinely and scrub algae from the glass as needed.

Of course, all this care is worth it if you have the time for it.

Tanks offer a lot of advantages over fishbowls. They are much larger, allowing for more decorations and fish and you can keep an endless variety of freshwater, tropical, or saltwater fish while a bowl is limited to only a few species that can gulp air directly from the atmosphere.

Understanding Different Filter Types

One aspect of selecting a new tank that shouldn’t be overlooked is the filter type. Many tank kits come with all major accessories included, and while your attention may be fixed on the look of the tank design, taking a moment to understand the pros and cons of what kind of filter you’re getting is important in assuring you don’t regret your decision later on.

“Hang On” Filters

This is the most common filter type used in beginner and intermediate fish tank kits. This filter sits on the back or side of the aquarium and a siphon pulls water up through the filter pathway.

A multilayer filter piece typically provides large debris skimming by catching items in a floss screen while the filtration of chemicals is accomplished through a carbon filter. The filter cartridge allows beneficial bacteria to grow which further cleans the water.

These filters are simple to use and clean but aren’t as powerful as other options. They also can be a little noisy, especially if you don’t like the sound of trickling water.

Undergravel Filters

These types of filters used to be more common and can still be found in more expensive 10-gallon tank kits. Instead of relying on a single siphon to pull water from the tank at about mid-level, these filters have tubes that open under a strainer that sits beneath the gravel.

The water is pulled through an air pump or a similar mechanism and pushed back into the tank, helping oxygenate the environment. There is no chemical filter with this set up which means, while the water may stay clearer for longer, ammonia can still build up in the system, especially near the bottom of the tank.

These filters are easier to upkeep than others since they have no filter pads to replace and the system itself stays relatively clean. But you will have to clean your gravel much more often and do more partial water changes to keep a healthy PH.

Internal Filters

These types of filters are similar to hang on filters but are much more compact and use suction cups to attach to an inside wall of the tank. While these would not be sufficient to clean a large tank, they do work well for 10-gallon tanks.

These filters can remove sediment from the water before it has time to settle on the bottom of the tank and usually come with filter pads that contain chemical and biological filtration similar to hang on filters.

The best internal filters have air pumps that help push water through the system and oxygenate the tank. These filters are quieter than the other two options but not quite as powerful, especially for tanks that produce a lot of waste.

Reviews of The Best 10-Gallon Fish Tanks

#1. Aqueon 10 Gal LED Aquarium Kit

Best Overall

Aqueon 10-Gallon Kit
Score: (5/5)

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Standard tank with sleek design, all necessary equipment included for beginners and up.
Pros

Includes all necessary supplies

Efficient, quiet filter

Sleek look but traditional design

Cons

Heater is not adjustable

Filter position is fixed

When it comes to the best 10-gallon fish tank kits, Aqueon’s kit easily tops the list. This aquarium comes with everything you need to start a healthy tank but still leaves room for you to provide decor and make the tank your own.

The filter included in this tank is a standard hang on back style system with an included cartridge and QuietFlow technology that reduces humming and splashing sounds. The filter setup also includes a red indicator light to remind you when it’s time to change the filter cartridge.

The kit also comes with a preset 50w heater, thermometer, water conditioner, hood with LED lights, food, and fishnet.

What this kit doesn’t include is any decorations, making it perfect for both the beginner who wants to choose their own decor and the expert who may need to use the tank as a hospital setup or brooding tank with a specific layout.

This tank is moderately priced for a simple starter kit but the sleek design and included supplies make it a great choice for any level of fishkeeper.

#2. Hagen HG Fluval Flex Aquarium 34L, 9gal

Runner Up

Hagen Fluval Flex
Score: (5/5)

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Curved front panel tank for clear viewing with integrated hybrid filter for fish enthusiasts.
Pros

Multi-colored lights with remote

Hybrid filter with multiple elements

Curved front panel

Cons

No 360-degree view

Small fish can hide behind back panel

Only 9-gallon capacity

If you’re looking for a standard fish tank with a little pizzazz, the Hagen Fluval Flex 9 Gallon is for you. While this tank is a touch smaller, the rounded front panel and honeycomb top wrap give the appearance of a much larger aquarium.

To add to the pizzazz, this tank includes three-dozen white LED lights to promote plant growth and provide brilliant light day or night as well as multicolored LED lights that can be used to add ambiance. This tank even comes with a remote to create custom light color blends and activate special effects options.

Of all our choices, this tank has one of the best 10-gallon fish tank filters. The filter is a hybrid hang on, under gravel filter that sucks water from both near the surface and near the bottom of the tank into an oversized system hidden on the back wall of the tank.

Water is filtered through a foam, carbon, and BioMax system before being returned to the tank through adjustable outputs at both the top and bottom of the tank.

This tank is priced higher than most standard aquarium sets but is worth it for the advanced filtration system and fun extra features.

#3. Aqueon 15 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit

Best Small Footprint

Aqueon 15-Gallon Kit
Score: (5/5)

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Vertical tank with extra-large capacity and small footprint with all items included.
Pros

Small footprint

High capacity

Includes all necessary supplies

Cons

Standard filter only

Limited space for bottom feeders

Have limited space but still looking for a larger fish tank? The Aqueon 15-gallon kit might be your best option.

This unique tank was created with a small footprint but a large capacity. It stands taller than it is wide with a 360-degree view of the environment inside.

Even if you’re looking for the best 10-gallon fish tank setup for a tight space on the floor, this aquarium is a great option. You can buy a coordinating stand that is slim enough to fit in even the tightest spaces.

This kit comes with a standard hang on filter system, preset thermometer, fish food, net, thermometer, and water conditioner. The included hood has LED lights and a small flip door for feeding.

Given the larger volume and unique design, this tank is well priced but does run on the higher end.

#4. Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit for Starters

Most Unique

Hygger Horizon 8-Gallon
Score: (4.5/5)

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Smaller tank with curved front panel and clear top for advanced viewing with integrated filter.
Pros

Curved front panel

Clear top panel

Hidden filter system

Cons

No 360-degree view

Lower water capacity

Low capacity filter

If you’re looking for a tank with a clean design and an ultra-clear view of your school, the Hygger Horizon 8-Gallon tank is an excellent choice.

The sleek design of the aquarium uses a curved front panel similar to our second choice pick but also incorporates a clear top panel for an uninterrupted view of the environment inside.

This tank comes with a built-in faux rock 3D back panel that allows crevices for the fish to hide in while also hiding the filtration system. Unfortunately, this bulky feature reduces the true capacity of this tank to only 6 gallons.

The filter is an internal system that is ultra-quiet but has a lower capacity than others on the list. But, this system has the unique distinction of functioning even when the water level in the tank is below half-way, a great feature for beginner aquarists or kids who might occasionally forget to refill the tank when needed.

Like our third pick, this tank comes with a remote and multicolored lights for extra customization.

Given the low capacity and limited features, this tank is a little higher priced than you might expect, but the unique design and clean look are worth the extra investment.

#5. Aqua Culture 10 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit with LED

Best Beginner

Aqua Culture Beginner Kit
Score: (4/5)

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Simple, standard tank with filter for beginners at an affordable price.
Pros

Affordable

Filter included

Simple set up

Cons

Minimal features

No flip-open lid

No heater included

If you are just dabbling in fish care, looking to buy a tank for your child, or in need of a cheap tank setup as a backup aquarium, the Aqua Culture is a great choice. This tank comes with stripped-down features and a price tag to match.

This tank comes with an internal filter system efficient enough to keep the water clear while remaining quiet and compact. The small filter attaches to the glass with suction cups and can be moved around as needed.

The tank lid is low profile with cutouts for feeding. It does include simple LED lighting.

The kit does not include any extras but is adequate to house the best fish for beginners, 10-gallon tank sized or smaller. This would include betas, goldfish, and guppies.

If you are interested in putting some of the best tropical fish for 10-gallon tanks in this aquarium, you will need to buy your own heater.

The best feature of this tank, though, has to be the price tag. Considering this kit comes with a decent filter system, you aren’t likely to find a better deal.

What is the Best 10-gallon Fish Tank?

When it comes to choosing the best 10-gallon fish tank, you need to take your skill level and needs into account. But for the average aquarist, whether they are new to the game or a seasoned veteran, the Aqueon 10-Gallon Aquarium Kit is a great choice.

This standard tank setup has a clean look, simple design, but comes with all the needed equipment for a quick and easy set up. The included filter is quiet and efficient and can easily be swapped out for a higher quality system if you so desired.

Of course, if you’re looking for something with a more unique design or something to fit a tight space, we have some great options for those types of aquariums on our list as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best fish for a 10-gallon tank?
The best freshwater fish for a 10-gallon tank are guppies, betas, danios, and dwarf varieties such as dwarf barbs. The best schooling fish for 10-gallon tanks with heaters are tetras, rasboras, platies, and small catfish like pygmy cories and clown loaches
What happens if a tank is too crowded?
The more fish in a tank, the more waste is produced which causes the water quality to drop quickly. A crowded tank needs a high-efficiency filter and more frequent water changes to stay clean, but you may also experience aggression between fish if there isn’t enough space.
Should I dump all the water out when I clean my tank?
You don’t want to remove more than 50% of the water during any one cleaning or else you risk throwing off the balance of beneficial bacteria and overwhelming your fish with water of a dramatically different PH and temperature.

Summed Up: The Best 10-Gallon Fish Tanks

NameAqueon 10-Gallon KitHagen Fluval FlexAqueon 15-Gallon KitHygger HorizonAqua Culture Beginner Kit
Best FeaturesSleek design, quality filter, includes all necessary equipmentCurved front panel, integrated hybrid filterSmall footprint, high capacity, includes all necessary equipmentCurved front panel, clear top panel, integrated filter and rock formationSimple set up, affordable
Capacity10 gallon9 gallon15 gallon8 gallon10 gallon
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Sources

  1. Shirlie Sharpe. “Guidelines for Stocking Your Aquarium” thesprucepets.com, 9 May 2019.
  2. Robert Woods. “How to Clean a Fish Tank in Five Easy Steps” fishkeepingworld.com, 6 June 2018.
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