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In this post, we’ll share a few Centerpiece Fish for a 10 Gallon Tank that will be sure to create an awesome community tank.
Many people buy their first tank based on what they can afford or what fits in their home. And it’s a good enough place to start. If you purchased a 10-gallon tank (you probably have, that’s why you are here), just because it fits well into your room, that’s fine.
Now let’s help you populate it with some good fish.
First of all, there are a few different interpretations of what a centerpiece fish is. Many aquarists believe that a centerpiece fish is one big fish that stands out on account of its size, colors, or patterns.
But the problem is that some aquarium fish that are happy alone, aren’t ideal for community tanks. Most fish that are peaceful and don’t mind other fish in the tank are the ones that live in small groups or schools.
So we have curated this list with a broader definition of “centerpiece” fish in mind. For us, a centerpiece fish can be a single fish or a school of similar fish.
It’s also important to understand that for a 10-gallon tank, it’s smart to look for small fish. While many people love to be the “big fish in a small pond,” actual big fish don’t like to live in a small tank.
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Schooling fish usually bring a lot of activity to the tank, which has its own dynamic beauty, and it’s very “eye-catching,” which is usually the reason for having centerpiece fish.
Also, when you build a tank around a centerpiece fish, it includes everything from the water parameters, decorations, lighting conditions, and tank mates that will make your fish feel comfortable.
It also means that your stocking should be around the bioload. If you put more fish than the 10-gallon can handle, it will get dirtier much faster, and your fish might get sick.
Many aquarists stick with the one fish per gallon rule, but it’s an over-simplification in a lot of cases. Your filtration system, water changes, and even the presence of plants in your tank can vary the bioload your tank can handle. But with a planted 10-gallon, make sure that there is enough room for your fish to swim about.
With that said here are some amazing fish that can help your 10-gallon come to life.
Amazing Centerpiece Fish for 10 Gallon Tank That Will Liven Up Your Small Tank
1. German Blue Ram
- Care level: Intermediate to expert
- Size: 2 inches max
- Temperature range: 78 – 85 °F
- PH range: 4.0 to 7.0
- Social Behavior: They are fine alone, but a pair would be better
- Tank size: 10 Gallons minimum (If you are planning to do a lot of stocking, go for a 29-gallon)
German blue ram (or GBR) belongs to the Cichlid family and comes under the dwarf category. Due to its bright and shiny coloration, it is also referred to as a butterfly cichlid or an electric blue ram. Despite the name, it hails from South America. More accurately, it comes from the warm and acidic waters of Venezuela and Colombia. In the tank, it would thrive in slightly acidic, warm, and soft-to-moderate water hardness.
Despite belonging to the over-active, and sometimes an aggressive family of cichlid, this ram is very peaceful. It does best in a planted tank and sandy substrate (fine gravel would work as well). It has a very colorful body, with the front half light-yellow with a scattering of blue scales, a black patch on the eye, and black front-outline on the dorsal fin. The back half is more densely populated with the blue spots/scales, usually with a small black spot. Honestly, it can’t be described as a symphony of colors, rather as a haphazard painting. But the overall look comes out quite beautiful.
If you are keeping more than one male, they may claim their territories, and a 10-gallon might not be enough of a place for two “bosses.” So keep the genders in mind when picking the pair. As a bottom-feeding omnivore, it would do well on a sinking-pellet diet, and occasional live-feed treats.
It can live with a lot of peaceful tank mates like bleeding heart tetra, silver cod, or discus. But many of its compatible tank mates are too big for a 10-gallon tank. Or they need a bigger tank for schooling. So for a 10-gallon, some good tank mates will be small corydoras, Kuhli loach pair, small guppies, platy, and about six neon Tetras.
It can be considered the prom queen (or king) of the aquarium hobby. Popular, beautiful, and doesn’t fit well with others of its kind, especially the same gender.
- Care level: Beginner to intermediate
- Size: 2.25 inches on average, can grow to 3 inches
- Temperature range: 74 – 80 °F
- PH range: 6.5 to 7.5
- Social Behavior: Males alone (in a 10-gallon, you can keep a pair of females)
- Tank size: Ideally, 10-gallon or more
Bettas have always attracted the attention of novice to seasoned investors due to their unique beauty and long flowing tails and fins. But this also makes them a target of fin-nippers, which is why community tanks around a Betta fish should be very carefully planned. Bettas come in a wide variety of colors. Some of them are solid colors (one color from mouth to tail). The rest are either of two colors, or marbled colored, or butterfly coloration. But almost all Betta types have long flowing tails and fins. Bettas fall neatly into the conventional definition of a centerpiece fish.
As for temperament, let’s just say that there is a reason they are called the Siamese fighting fish. If you keep two males in a small tank, the chances are that you will get to see the aquatic version of Battle Royale. And it’s some sort of evolutionary irony, that despite these territorial and fighting instincts, the fish have developed bright colors that make them easy to spot. And unnecessarily long tails and fins that give attackers and fin nippers a perfect target.
But if you keep a single Betta in a tank with very peaceful bottom dwellers like Kuhli loaches, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, and Cory catfish, they will be fine. Other small fish like ember tetras and harlequin rasboras can also be housed with the Bettas. But if you see any fin nipping, take the assailant or Betta out immediately. But don’t try to house them with slower and smaller fish like Guppies.
Otherwise, Bettas are relatively hardy. They are carnivores, so live-feed would be best. Or pellets or flakes with high animal protein content. They prefer a planted and decorated tank. Some floating and hardy plants will be fine, along with driftwood, rocks, and if you can find them, Marimo moss balls. Bettas show territorial behavior even when they are alone, especially males. This is why a tank of at least 10-gallon is recommended for them.
Further Reading: Betta Fish Care 101 For Beginners
3. Honey Gourami
- Care level: Beginner
- Size: Around 2.6-3.0 inches when fully grown
- Temperature range: 71 – 82 °F
- PH range: 6.0 – 7.5
- Social Behavior: Can be kept alone or in a pair
- Tank size: 10-gallons (But keep the overall bioload in mind)
This easy-going fish hails from the heavily planted slow-moving water bodies of Bangladesh and India. The name reflects its honey-yellow to orange-ish color. This is why it’s also called sunset gourami. The males exhibit better coloration than females. And while they are very peaceful towards other fish in a community tank, they tend to fight with their own species, especially males (Typical!).
Since it mimics their natural habitat, the honey gourami loves a heavily planted tank with a lot of hiding spaces. The water hardness can fall anywhere between four and fifteen. In general, it’s a hardy fish and will thrive in a variety of water conditions. But only if it’s housed with other peaceful fish that don’t chase it or stress it out. They are labyrinth fish (they possess a lung-like structure that allows them to take in the air directly from the surface), so make sure there is adequate space between the water surface and the lid. The good idea is to feed them twice a day and only for about two or three minutes. They are omnivores and not fussy eaters, so flakes, live, frozen, or algae wafers will all go down their tiny gullets.
It’s one of the best community fish and can fit well with many other peaceful fish species, provided that you stock the aquarium according to the bioload. For a 10 gallon with a pair of honey gourami, you can keep a small school of tiny barbs (like Gelius), Dwarf Panda guppies (or other small guppies of similar size), some tetras and a few species of corydoras. It’s also important to note that the bioload depends on more than the fish size. Some fish are just messy. An example is a goldfish, which you cannot keep in a 10-gallon with your honey gourami because they grow absolutely huge, given the right conditions.
4. Celestial Pearl Danios
- Care level: Intermediate
- Size: up to 1inch
- Temperature range: 73– 79 °F
- PH range: 6.5 to 7.5
- Social Behavior: Do well in a group, but are not primarily a schooling fish
- Tank size: 10-gallons
They may be small for a centerpiece fish, but their beauty and attraction makes them eye-catching nonetheless. They hail from Myanmar, and they were discovered in 2006. Their appearance caused such a stir in the fish keeping community that the Myanmar department of fisheries had to stop “fishing” them out. They have a relatively long body, a midnight two body color that is generously dotted with pearlescent spots. This has also earned them the name: Galaxy Rasbora.
They prefer planted, well-lit tanks with a lot of swimming space. Driftwood and rocks will also help them accommodate to the tank, along with a dark substrate. They usually feed near the bottom, so use sinking pallets. And they also won’t say no to live feed like brine shrimp, krill or white worms. Celestial danios have individual personalities, and even in a group of their own, some will act shy and others boisterous. Observe their behavior while feeding them, and make sure everyone gets their due fill.
Choosing the right tank mate for them depends more upon size than the behavior. These small Danios might seem like bite-sized snacks to some of the larger fish. Many tetras, guppies, and small corydoras will be fine with them in a 10-gallon community tank.
A Few More Great Choices
The list for centerpiece fish that you can keep in your 10-gallon is significantly longer than the four fish we mentioned above. But as the size of the fish grows, bio-load will become a problem. Many other fish species will be happy living alone in a 10-gallon tank, but if you want to add any more fish, you might need to move to a bigger tank.
Some other fish that will be perfect for a 10-gallon tank is:
- Scarlet Badis: A small predatory fish that is adorably shy and certainly not as “tough” as its name phonetically suggests.
- Pygmy Corydoras: Hardy and peaceful bottom dwellers.
- Guppies: One of the most popular freshwater species. Its beautifully colored tail makes it quite eye-catching.
- Endler’s livebearer: Easy to keep and even easier to breed.
- Ember Tetra: Very small and active tetras. You can keep a large school in a 10-gallon tank.
Many of these fish do well in a planted tank. And when you are planning a planted tank, you have to consider water parameter requirements for the plants too.
It’s a good idea to decide on your centerpiece fish and stocking plan before preparing your tank. If you prepare a general tank and then start looking for fish, your choices might get a bit limited. Also, live plants might seem like a lot of work, but many live plant species thrive with minimal care. But make sure to provide adequate lighting in your planted aquarium.
Even the hardiest and accommodating fish might lose its liveliness, colors, and even health if it isn’t properly cared for. Many beginner fish keeper makes the mistake of thinking that their responsibility ends at building a good tank and feeding the fish. And the filter in the tank will take care of the rest.
The AquaClear HOB filter has been around FOREVER and is typically the first filter recommended for most beginners. That said, it's a great reliable filter for experienced fish keepers and Aquascapers. It comes with prepackaged filter media but also has the ability to customize to your needs. Don't worry about water flow as the gentle waterfall design creates oxygenation without a strong current perfect for small tanks and Bettas.
It’s wrong, and your fish will have to pay for it. If you want to keep your fish healthy and thriving, make sure you keep the tank clean, keep up with the partial water changes, clean the filter (as frequently as your bio load requires), don’t overfeed the fish, and keep an eye out for signs of sickness and bullying among your fish.
Further Reading About Centerpiece Fish:
- Finding The Right Centerpiece Fish For Your 10 Gallon Tank
- Ideas For Centerpiece Fish For A 20 Gallon Tank
- Ideas For Centerpiece Fish For A 29 Gallon Tank
- Ideas For Centerpiece Fish For A 55 Gallon Tank
- Ideas For Centerpiece Fish For A 75 Gallon Tank