Aquariums & Fish Bowls

Beginner’s Guide To Setting Up Of A 10 Gallon Aquarium

10 gallon is one of the most common sizes that people buy. The reason being its suitability for every household, pocket-friendliness and convenience in handling.

This size is best for those people who are looking for a small tank as an introduction to fish-keeping.

If you are one of those people, here I will guide you through everything you need to know about 10 gallon tanks, from deciding which one to buy, to its maintenance and everything that falls in-between.

Let’s begin with the setting up process!

SET UP PROCESS

The most enjoyable thing about setting up process is designing your aquarium. You can decorate the tank as you like.

But you have to keep in mind that a 10 gallon aquarium does not offer much space, so do not make the setup too congested for the fish to swim around.

In a freshwater setup, you can fill the tank with a bunch of decorations that you can easily buy from a petstore.

In a tropical or marine set up you don’t need to buy a heater. Some people opt for a well-planted set up, to oxygenate the tank via photosynthesis.

Saltwater set up tend to be less varied and the most common design is to incorporate corals. Corals are expensive, but you can buy cheaper decorations that look like them.

If you want to make your tank a breeder tank, you will have to look into the specific requirements for the species you want to breed. It demands an advance thorough research.

There is a procedure which needs to be followed when setting up an aquarium, no matter what the size is.

So here we go!

Firstly, you will need to have a tank!

STEP 1: BUYING A FISH TANK

In a 10 gallon aquarium, glass material is preferred over acrylic as it is scratch-resistant. Also, it retains its clarity for a longer period of time, while acrylic may develop a yellow tinge when exposed to direct sunlight.

So if you are planning on using the tank for a longer period, I would suggest you to go for a glass tank

Acrylic fish tanks are not bad either – they weigh less than the glass tanks. However, glass tanks are cheaper than acrylic ones.

So keep these things in mind when buying an aquarium.

Now let’s review some of the best 10 gallon aquarium models in the market.

Here Are My Top Picks


WATERBOX CLEAR 10 GALLON AQUARIUM – Best quality glass material


Waterbox Aquariums WTB01110 10CUBE 10 Gallon All-in-One Aquarium
  • Ultra Clear Glass on all Sides
  • Built in Filter Chamber in Back
  • Includes Pump and filter basket with media

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With a glossy-finish glass material, Waterbox offers with one of the best-quality tanks in the market. You can buy it at a reasonable price from Amazon.

The tank even enables different levels of aquascaping for beginners and advanced hobbyists. So why should you go for anything else when you have this?

FEATURES:

  • Starphire ultra-clear glass technology
  • Weighs 15.78 LBS without water
  • Straight edge silicon seams

AQUA CULTURE 10 GALLON AQUARIUM – Most affordable starter kit


Aqua Culture 10-gallon Aquarium Starter Kit
  • ture 10-Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit With LED Lighting
  • Adds a daylight effect inside of the water with the lighting
  • Includes a Tetra filter that's whisper-quiet as it removes impurities 24/7
  • Cutouts help to make feeding and changing filters simple
  • Tetra food and AquaSafe water conditioner TetraCare enrollment for help setting everything up Can be placed on any flat surface or paired with an appropriately-rated stand Stands, gravel, decor and additional food and water conditioner are sold separately

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Though I would not recommend 10 gallon tanks to a beginner, it is true that they are the perfect size to go for if you are buying it for the sake of hobby or for your child.

Aqua Culture provides a complete kit, from setting up, till the maintenance of your fish tank. The kit includes an internal Tetra Filter, a low-profile hood and energy-efficient LEDs to mimic the natural sunlight.

It also includes a Tetra Care guidance booklet to help you throughout the process.

FEATURES:

  • Low-profile slim hood
  • Powerful yet quiet heater
  • Cut-outs for easy feeding and filter cartridge changes.

MARINELAND BIO-WHEEL LED AQUARIUM KIT – Best quality kit


Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can purchase this 10 gallon aquarium kit from Amazon.

It is one of my favorites as with this kit, all your work is done! It employs industry-leading components that have been carefully selected for compatible and reliable performance.

The aquarium uses a 3-stage Bio-wheel filtration for water-quality and a hood with energy-efficient LEDs.

FEATURES:

  • Bio-wheel 3-stage filtration
  • LED hood boasts energy-efficient technology

PENN PLAX CURVED CORNER AQUARIUM – Premium starter kit


Penn-Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit, Filter, LED Light, Float Glass for Maximum Viewing 10 Gallon
  • This aquarium has a unique bent glass design that is frameless and seamless in front for unobstructed viewing on all sides including top
  • Aquarium tank kit includes a 10 gallon bent glass fish tank, cascade internal filter, LED light, mat, and hinge style plastic lid
  • Made with the highest quality glass for durability and clarity, and utilizes 3 piece construction with seamless rounded front corners
  • This 10 gallon fish tank measures 12 ⅝ inches high by 11 3/4 inches wide and 17 ¾ inches long. Aquarium is suitable for a wide variety of fish

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This kit is great for you if you are concerned about the quality of your fish tank.

It is built with the highest quality glass to ensure longevity and durability. It comes with an LED light, mat, a cascade internal filter and a hinged plastic lid. On top of that, it is frameless and seamless which means that you can watch your fish completely without any obstruction.

FEATURES:

  • It measures 12.5*11.5*17.75 inches
  • Simple yet sleek design
  • Quality filter with 2 customizable chambers
  • Comes with a mat to minimize stress on uneven surfaces.

AQUA CULTURE 10 GALLON AQUARIUM: Most affordable


Aqua Culture Aquarium, 10 gallon
  • The perfect starter aquarium or terrarium for a wide variety of fish and reptiles

Last update on 2020-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It is ideal for you if you are looking to add your own equipment and design a setup from scratch. Which means that you have to be an experienced aquarist who knows which filter and heater would go with it.

FEATURES:

  • It measures 20*12*10 inches
  • Available at an affordable price
  • Built with a high-quality sealant to avoid any leaks
  • Suitable for fish-keeping and keeping reptiles.

This aquarium is available at a very reasonable price on Amazon.

I have listed the best five 10 gallon aquariums above, so we will move on to the next step which is Setting Up!


STEP 2: CHOOSING THE RIGHT TANK-STAND

When searching for the right stand for a 10 gallon aquarium, reliability is of utmost importance. These tanks are available in two common sizes:

  • 10 gallon leader measures 20*11*13 inches
  • 10 gallon long measures 24*9*13 inches

A 10 gallon aquarium must be durable as it will be holding 80 pounds of water or more. It should also be water-resistant as the water is bound to spill onto your stand, sooner or later.

So it should be made of durable steel that cannot decay.

Here are some best-quality stands for your 10 gallon aquarium:

Aqueon Essence Aquarium Stand, 20-Inch , Black
  • Open, contemporary design
  • Strong and durable
  • Water-resistant top
  • Built to last for generations

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Aqueon Forge Metal Aquarium Stand, 20 by 10-Inch, Black
  • Able to hold one aquarium on the top shelf and bottom shelf can accommodate a second aquarium, if desired
  • Top Shelf Fits Aquarium Size: 10, 14 inches; Bottom Shelf Fits Aquarium Size: 5.5 inches
  • Easy 6 7-step setup
  • Durable steel construction
  • Rust-resistant powder coated finish

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

STEP 3: ADDING SUBSTRATE

Gravel forms the bottomost layer of the tank so it should be cleaned thoroughly before being placed.

It is a type of substrate where necessary bacteria lives and supports the nitrogen cycle to breakdown fish food and waste. This keeps the water clean for a long time.

If you have a normal rectangular-shaped 10 gallon aquarium, 10 to 15 pounds of gravel would be sufficient. It will make a 1-inch deep layer at the base, if you spread it evenly.

You can also look into other substrate option like:

Carib Sea ACS05820 Super Natural Moonlight Sand for Aquarium, 5-Pound
  • natural white creates great color contrasts
  • ph neutral ; used in salt and freshwater aquariums
  • no dyes or paints used
  • made in the USA

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum, For Fish Tanks, 4.4 lbs., 12693
  • Fluval Stratum is made of mineral rich volcanic soil
  • Stimulates strong aquarium plant growth
  • Promotes neutral to mildly acidic pH
  • Suitable for live plants or shrimp
  • 4.4 lb. bag

Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Now add water and treat it with a dechlorinator. Add filter and heater later.

STEP 4: CYCLING THE TANK

You think now you can add fish to it? Wait…

Cycling is an important step of the setting up process and there is a reason behind it.

Ammonia released from fish waste might harm the fish, if you do not have enough bacteria present in the tank to break it down.

That is why you need to cycle the tank before adding fish to it, so that enough good bacteria is built-up.

STEP 5: ADDING FISH

Before adding fish to the tank, make sure that it has been cycled properly and the water temperature is at the desired level.

Since a 10 gallon aquarium is not at all big, it will heat up quickly. Make sure that you do not overheat it! Use a thermometer for the purpose.

There are only a few fish species that can survive in a 10 gallon aquarium, so take an idea from here.

TYPES OF FISH YOU CAN KEEP IN A 10 GALLON TANK

A 10 gallon aquarium makes a great breeder tank for the experienced aquarists.

While 10 gallon tanks are pretty small compared to the other ones, there are plenty of stocking options when it comes to freshwater fish tanks. Due to its small size, it is important to understand how to care for each individual species as pollutants can build-up pretty quickly in this size.

Since most of the freshwater fish are schooling fish, they should be kept in specific tanks due to the size of 10 gallon tank.

If want to create a community tank, here are a few species that you may want to have:

Choose the species you want to keep together, wisely.

Moving on to the last part which is the maintenance of your tank.

STEP 6: MAINTENANCE OF A 10 GALLON TANK

If you think that the work is over, let me tell you that it has just begun!

The fact that smaller tanks are harder to maintain than larger ones, startles people a lot. But there is a logical reason behind it.

In smaller tanks, it is much easier for the pollutants to build up. That is why they require weekly water changes, which would hardly consume a few minutes, considering the size of the tank.

You may use a small aquarium vacuum for that purpose and fill the tank with new, conditioned water.

Temperature of the new water should be the same as that in the tank, as fish are cold-blooded, a slight change in water temperature can cause stress and disease.

If you are on a budget, you won’t find a better fish tank than this one. Especially because it comes in a kit, containing most of the things you need.

However, I would not recommend this size to beginners, as there is a lot of maintenance work involved.

Bigger tanks are more stable and can survive beginner’s mistakes easily. Just do your own research and do not rely solely on the advice from the pet store.

Let us know in the comment section below.

That being said, did you start fish-keeping with your 10 gallon tank?

Good luck with setting up of your 10 gallon aquarium!

FAQs

How big is a 10 gallon fish tank?

10 gallon fish tanks are rather small. Their dimensions usually vary depending on their shape, but typically they measure around 20*10*12 inches.

How heavy can it get?

These tanks normally weigh about 11 pounds when empty, and can reach upto 110 pounds when water is added. The weight might increase further, depending on the decorations and fish you choose to go for.

Is it easy to maintain a 10 gallon aquarium?

A 10 gallon aquarium requires less amount of water, however, the low water volume makes it difficult to maintain the quality overtime, compared to larger tanks. Consequently, they need to be maintained more frequently.

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[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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