11 Beautiful 10-Gallon Tank Ideas For Your New Aquarium!

The 10-gallon tank is a favorite among fishkeepers, but finding the right setup can be challenging.

That’s why I’ve compiled 11 beautiful and practical 10-gallon tank ideas to inspire your next aquarium project.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a simple, low-maintenance setup or an experienced hobbyist ready for a high-tech aquascape, these ideas cover a range of styles and budgets to help you create the perfect aquatic environment.

The 10 Gallon Epiphyte Tank

My 10 Gallon Epiphyte Tank
My 10 Gallon Epiphyte Tank

Pros

  • Easy To Make
  • No Substrate Problems
  • Plants Are Easy To Find

Cons

  • Limited Plant Selection
  • Minimal Red Plants
  • Slow Growing Plants

Suitable Plant List

  • Anubias Angustifolia
  • Anubias Coin Leaf
  • Anubias Caladiifolia
  • Java Fern
  • Trident Fern
  • Bucephalandra Kedagang
  • Bucephalandra Sintang
  • Bucephalandra Theia Green

The 10-gallon epiphyte tank is ideal for beginners because it uses easy-to-maintain plants that thrive in inexpensive, low-light conditions.

Epiphyte plants absorb nutrients from the water column, so you attach them to the hardscape in your tank rather than planting them in the substrate. This eliminates the need for costly substrates, helping to keep expenses low.

For guidance on setting up this type of tank, refer to my article on how I created my planted epiphyte tank.

Beginner-Friendly Planted Tanks

Betta fish, guppies, tetras, and rasboras all thrive in this type of 10-gallon tank setup.

For guidance on specific Anubias varieties, my article on different types of Anubias can be helpful, though most short Anubias plants should work well.

Java fern is another excellent choice for this tank, with its thick leaves providing ideal hiding spots for your fish.

Bucephalandra, with its smaller leaves, offers a different aesthetic. Available in various colors, it adds vibrant pops of color to your tank.

The Walstad Method

The Walstad Method
The Walstad Method

Pros

  • Cheap To Setup
  • No Need For A Filter
  • Low Maintenance

Cons

  • Needs Lots Of Stem Plants
  • Slower To Start
  • Can Have Algae Issues

Suitable Plant List

  • Limnophila Sessiliflora
  • Rotala Rotundifolia
  • Hygrophila Polysperma
  • Ludwigia Mini Super Red
  • Staurogyne Repens
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Eleocharis
  • Salvinia

The Walstad method is an excellent option for 10-gallon tanks because it is relatively inexpensive and beginner-friendly.

Unlike most planted tank setups, the Walstad method adds as many fast-growing plants as possible.

This helps minimize ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the aquarium, as the plants absorb these compounds as nutrients.

Tanks With A Soil Layer And Healthy Plants Will Remove Ammonia, So A Bio-Filter May Not Be Necessary.

Diana Walstad – Ecology Of The Planted Aquarium (2023 Release) – Page 199

These toxins can harm fish, so converting them into plant growth as quickly as possible helps keep your fish safe, even without a filter.

Filtration is often overcomplicated to sell unnecessary products, but this method uses plants as a natural filter.

My Walstad Planted Tank

This approach requires you to use a large quantity of fast-growing stem plants.

I discuss this in more detail in my article on setting up a Walstad tank, but the key is to use a substantial number of stem plants.

My Initial Planting Plan
My Initial Planting Plan

I aim to cover 50% of my Walstad tanks with fast-growing stem plants to minimize ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

I then fill the remaining space with slower-growing plants to ensure plenty of swimming room for my fish.

Below is a table with some excellent Walstad-friendly plants suitable for a 10-gallon setup.

NameTypeGrowthLightCO2
Limnophila SessilifloraStemHighLowOptional
Ludwigia Mini Super RedStemHighLowOptional
Hygrophila PolyspermaStemHighLowOptional
Rotala RotundifoliaStemHighLowOptional
Hygrophila RosanervigStemHighLowOptional
Staurogyne RepensStemMediumLowOptional
Bacopa CarolinianaStemLowLowOptional
Java FernRhizomeLowLowOptional
AnubiasRhizomeLowLowOptional
Cryptocoryne WendtiiRosulateMediumLowOptional
Cryptocoryne PetchiiRosulateMediumLowOptional
Echinodorus AquarticaRosulateMediumLowOptional
SalviniaFloaterMediumLowOptional
Red Root FloatersFloaterMediumLowOptional
Amazon FrogbitFloaterMediumLowOptional
Plants For A Walstad Style Tank

The Jungle Style Setup

The Jungle Style Setup
The Jungle Style Setup

Pros

  • Great Visual Impact
  • Flexibility In Plant Choice
  • Low Maintenance

Cons

  • Limitations On Fish Visibility
  • Risk Of Overcrowding
  • Needs Lots Of Nutrients

Suitable Plant List

  • Vallisneria
  • Hygrophila Polysperma
  • Rotala Rotundifolia
  • Anubias Barteri
  • Java Fern
  • Echinodorus Aquartica
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii
  • Anubias Caladiifolia
  • Java Moss

A jungle-style 10-gallon tank is another beginner-friendly, low-maintenance option that looks fantastic.

Add plenty of large-leaf plants and let them compete for space, light, and nutrients. This provides ample hiding spots for your fish, helping them stay calm and relaxed.

While you can use stem plants to fill gaps, prefer focusing on java fern, larger Anubias variants, Echinodorus plants, and Cryptocoryne plants.

One potential downside of this method is the need for high nutrients and light for optimal growth. You may need to invest in a decent light and some liquid fertilizers to keep your plants healthy.

Some people heavily stock their tanks to provide nutrients via fish waste, but this can be challenging in a 10-gallon setup.

A Shrimp Tank

My Shrimp Tank
My Shrimp Tank

Pros

  • Very Beginner-Friendly
  • Easy To Breed Shrimp
  • Very Low Maintenance

Cons

  • No Fish In The Tank
  • Strict Water Parameters
  • Slow To Start

Suitable Plant List

  • Java Moss
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora
  • Amazon Frogbit

10-gallon shrimp tanks are underrated, especially for people new to planted tanks, and I highly recommend them for beginners.

Neocaridina shrimp are ideal for beginners as they are affordable, easy to care for, and come in various colors.

If you’re interested in keeping shrimp, my article on setting up a planted cherry shrimp tank can be helpful.

Once Neocaridina shrimp are content and start breeding, they are prolific and unstoppable.

Cherry Shrimp In A Bucket

My video above shows how many cherry shrimp were produced in my 29-gallon tank.

Initially, I added 12 cherry shrimp. After giving away over 100 and relocating over 30 to other tanks, there were still 115 left in the original tank!

This shows why many people breed shrimp in their 10-gallon tanks as a side hustle to earn some extra money.

I mentioned this in my article on keeping guppies with shrimp, as some people breed both species in the same tank and sell the offspring as a full-time job.

That Brings Your Total Monthly Revenue To $70 A Month Or $840 A Year With Only One Aquarium.

Aquarium Co-Op

My article on plants for shrimp tanks provides more detailed information, but adding plenty of moss can be sufficient to encourage shrimp breeding.

Below is a table with my recommended water parameters for cherry shrimp if you’re interested in setting up a cherry shrimp tank.

Water Temperature65-80°F (18.5-27°C)
Water FlowStill-Low
pH6.7-8
GH6-10 dGH
KH3-10 dKH
Ammonia0 ppm
Nitrite0 ppm
Nitrate<20ppm
Red Cherry Shrimp Water Parameters

The Book Shelf Tank

A 10 Gallon Bookshelf Tank
A 10 Gallon Bookshelf Tank

Pros

  • Space Efficiency
  • Unique Aquascaping
  • Lower Energy Consumption

Cons

  • Limited Plant Choices
  • Limited Stocking Options
  • Can Be High Maintenance

Plant List

  • Bacopa Caroliniana
  • Bacopa Salzmanni
  • Bacopa Compact
  • Cryptocoryne Lutea Hobbit
  • Cryptocoryne Parva
  • Cryptocoryne Walkeri
  • Eleocharis Acicularis
  • Anubias Coin Leaf
  • Microsorum Pteropus Trident
  • Bucephalandra

10-gallon bookshelf tanks are popular in North America, where apartments often have limited space or restrictions on aquarium sizes.

This isn’t a common issue in Europe, but I would still like to try a bookshelf tank due to its unique dimensions.

Unlike most 10-gallon tanks with a rectangular or cube shape, a bookshelf tank is long and shallow, allowing it to fit on a bookshelf, which is how it gets its name.

Bookshelf tanks are great for saving space, but their unique dimensions can be challenging when keeping plants.

The low height makes fast-growing stem plants difficult to manage, as they require trimming once or twice a week.

Most types of Bacopa work well because their slow growth rate makes them low maintenance. Smaller Crypts and epiphyte plants are also suitable, as they grow slowly and remain relatively short.

The High Tech Setup

A High Tech 10 Gallon Tank
A High Tech 10 Gallon Tank

Pros

  • Vibrant Plant Growth
  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Precision Control

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Complex Maintenance
  • Steep Learning Curve

High-tech 10-gallon tanks are ideal for experienced fish keepers and aquascapers with the expertise and budget for this type of setup.

They often require expensive accessories like high-powered lighting, CO2 systems, and fertilizers for optimal plant growth.

This setup provides precise control over the aquarium’s conditions, unlike low-tech tanks, where adjustments are more guesswork.

Beginners are often tempted to replicate this setup after seeing their favorite YouTubers or Instagram accounts use it, but they frequently encounter problems due to a lack of experience.

For an easier start, beginners should consider the other featured tanks in this article, which offer a more manageable introduction to planted tanks.

However, if you are experienced with planted tanks and have successfully maintained them, a high-tech 10-gallon tank can be a great way to enhance your skills.

A Riparium Tank

A 10 Gallon Riparium
A 10 Gallon Riparium

Pros

  • Unique Aesthetics
  • Diverse Habitats
  • Improved Water Quality

Cons

  • Complex Setup
  • Limited Space
  • Lighting Challenges

Creating 10-gallon riparium tanks can be a challenging yet rewarding project, ideal for experienced fish keepers.

Unlike most tanks featured in this article that focus on submerged plants, a riparium setup incorporates emergent plants at the top of the tank.

While the beautiful ripariums often seen on social media typically use larger tanks for big emergent plants, 10-gallon ripariums can also be effective.

Emergent plants utilize excess nitrates as a food source, helping to maintain safe water parameters for your fish.

Pothos is one of the easiest options for this type of tank and is available in a wide range of colors, allowing you to mix things up.

The Biotope Setup

A 10 Gallon Biotope
A 10 Gallon Biotope

Pros

  • Natural Environments
  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Species Compatibility

Cons

  • Limited Species Selection
  • Potentially High Cost
  • Maintenance Challenges

Creating a 10-gallon biotope can be a rewarding project for someone looking to replicate a natural ecosystem for their fish.

The goal of a biotope aquarium is to mimic the natural living conditions of your fish in the wild.

Some fish inhabit rivers with varying environments depending on the specific section they are in, but researching these specifics is part of the fun of setting up a biotope.

Flow Grow is an excellent free tool for creating biotope aquariums, as you can search their plant database by specific countries.

Seriously Fish is another valuable resource, with their “Distribution” section providing detailed information about the natural habitats of different fish species.

Heavily Planted 10 Gallon Tanks

A Heavily Planted 10 Gallon Tank
A Heavily Planted 10 Gallon Tank

Pros

  • Lots Of Natural Filtration
  • Plenty Of Hiding Spots

Cons

  • Reduce Swim Space For Fish
  • Can Be High Maintenance

There are several ways to build a heavily planted tank, but they all share the feature of having plants occupy most of the space.

The abundance of plants provides plenty of hiding spots for your fish, making it an ideal setup for bettas, small gourami, scarlet badis, and other small ambush predators.

Liquid fertilizers can help keep the plants healthy by providing all the necessary nutrients.

Stem plants, wide-leaf plants, and floating plants are staples for this type of tank, but you can use any plants you prefer.

While hardscape is optional, adding a small amount of driftwood and rocks can enhance the tank’s visual appeal.

The 10 Gallon Jarrarium

A 10 Gallon Jarrarium
A 10 Gallon Jarrarium

Pros

  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Difficult To Find Jars
  • Low Maintenance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Difficult To Find Jars
  • Lighting and Temperature

Suitable Plant List

  • Hygrophila Polysperma
  • Rotala Rotundifolia
  • Limnophila Sessiliflora
  • Eleocharis
  • Salvinia

Jarrariums can be a fantastic project for people of all skill levels, and they often look surprisingly good when finished.

Jars larger than 3 gallons typically cost more than a traditional aquarium, causing many people to abandon the idea and opt for a standard aquarium.

Additionally, heating and lighting a jar present challenges that are easier to manage in an aquarium.

For beginners, a smaller 1-3 gallon jar is usually a better option because they are affordable and easy to find.

The photograph below shows the first shrimp jar I made, and I have an article detailing how I built it.

My Walstad Shrimp Jar
My Walstad Shrimp Jar

A Tall Tank Setup

A Tall 10 Gallon Tank
A Tall 10 Gallon Tank

Pros

  • Small Footprint
  • Design Opportunities
  • Species-Specific Habitats

Cons

  • Small Footprint
  • Lighting Challenges
  • Limited Swimming Space

I’m not particularly fond of tall tanks because their dimensions limit the types of fish you can keep, but they are excellent for shrimp.

If you prefer the appearance of a tall tank, I highly recommend keeping shrimp instead of fish.

Shrimp are more interested in grazing areas and don’t require much swim space, whether it’s horizontal or vertical.

If you’re new to the hobby, I suggest opting for a different type of 10-gallon tank unless you’re specifically looking to create a shrimp tank.