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Ten Gallon Stocking Suggestions
By: Susan McClure


 

 

One of the most enjoyable-and most difficult-aspects of fishkeeping is choosing what fish to put in your tank. Your local fish store offers row upon row of tanks teeming with fish just begging to grace your tank with their beauty. But not all of those fish will do well in the ten gallon tank you purchased. So how to decide?

First, we need to debunk the age old "one inch per gallon" myth. It's simply not true. No matter how many pet store employees have told you so, you cannot base your stocking on this guideline. There are many factors that affect stocking levels in a tank, including adult fish size, social needs (Is it a schooling fish? Does it prefer to live in a harem setup? Is it best kept as a single specimen?), territory needs, breeding behavior and available swimming area. Your tank should give the fish an environment that is as natural as possible. This is the best way to avoid stress induced illness.

So back to those rows of fish tanks at the dealer's. Since you can't necessarily take the advice of the teenager who is completing his first week on the job, what are you to do? How will you know which fish will be appropriate in your ten gallon tank? Never fear! You have read this article, printed out the appropriate portions, and are ready to make a beeline for your fish of choice. Let's take a look at some common-and not so common-stocking schemes for your tank.


From this

 

First, we need to debunk the age old "one inch per gallon" myth. It's simply not true. No matter how many pet store employees have told you so, you cannot base your stocking on this guideline. There are many factors that affect stocking levels in a tank, including adult fish size, social needs (Is it a schooling fish? Does it prefer to live in a harem setup? Is it best kept as a single specimen?), territory needs, breeding behavior and available swimming area. Your tank should give the fish an environment that is as natural as possible. This is the best way to avoid stress induced illness.


To this?

So back to those rows of fish tanks at the dealer's. Since you can't necessarily take the advice of the teenager who is completing his first week on the job, what are you to do? How will you know which fish will be appropriate in your ten gallon tank? Never fear! You have read this article, printed out the appropriate portions, and are ready to make a beeline for your fish of choice. Let's take a look at some common-and not so common-stocking schemes for your tank.

 

Tank #1: The Betta Tank
Inhabitants:
1 betta (male or female), 2 apple snails OR
1 betta (male or female), 4-5 ghost shrimp OR
1 betta (male or female), 2-3 African dwarf frogs

This is a classic setup, and my personal favorite. It includes a single male or female betta, and a couple of non-fish companions. The betta will be like a king in his palace, majestically ruling his territory and displaying all those endearing personality traits that we all love. As a bonus you'll get to observe some of the fascinating non-fish aquatic critters that aren't as common in community tanks. Be aware that some bettas may not tolerate companions, so always make sure the store will take back a purchase if things don't work out. A few plants will make this setup a true betta paradise.

Tank #2: The Livebearer Tank
Inhabitants:
6-8 male endlers OR
4-5 male guppies OR
2-3 male platies

Livebearers are wonderful beginner fish, and make for a lovely display with their vibrant colors and flashy fins. I suggest buying only males, because once you bring a female into the picture, you will have multitudes of fry and your tank will quickly become overcrowded. An all-female tank can still produce fry, since females are usually housed with males at some point, and they can store sperm for several months.

Tank #3: The Tetra Tank
Inhabitants:
6 neon tetras

Since tetras are schooling fish, you will need a group of six of the same species. Most tetras will grow too large for six to be kept in a ten gallon tank, but neons will do well. Plants are an added bonus, and will set off the colors nicely. Neons can be sickly due to inbreeding, so be sure you get them from a reputable source. If possible, observe them in the dealer's tank for a week or two before buying, and choose the ones that look the most energetic.

Tank #4: The Coldwater Tank
Inhabitants:
6 - 8 white cloud minnows

If you are wanting a hardy schooling fish, white clouds are the way to go. As a bonus, they are cold water fish and won't need supplemental heating. Just remember that if you decide to convert to tropicals later on, you'll need to add a heater.

Tank #5: The Pygmy Tank
Inhabitants:
1 trio (1 male, 2 females) sparkling pygmy gouramis (trichopsis pumila)
6 pygmy cories

None of these fish will grow larger than 3 cm, but they display behavior just like their larger relatives. You may even be fortunate enough to see breeding behavior from the gouramis. Give them plenty of plants to make them feel at home.

Tank #6: The Rasbora/Loach Tank
Inhabitants:
6-8 galaxy microrasboras
4-5 kuhli loaches

At only 2 cm long, these beautiful rasboras will make a lovely school in your 10 gallon. The bottom-dwelling loaches will add a point of interest and variety.

Tank #7: The Killifish Tank
Inhabitants:
1 pair (male and female) Bluefin Killifish OR
1 pair (male and female) Pygmy Killifish

Killifish are a fascinating group of fish. There are many different species which have different requirements, so be sure to do your research before buying. The Bluefin (Lucania goodei) and the Pygmy (Leptolucania ommata) will both be under two inches when full grown, so you could have a pair in a 10 gallon. There are others that remain small as well, but do make sure you're not getting one of the larger varieties. Breeding requires some special considerations, but is not too difficult.

Tank #8: The Shellie Tank
Inhabitants:
1 pair (male and female) Tanganyikan shell-dwelling cichlids

This tank is for the fishkeeper who understands all the fish keeping basics and is ready to delve a little deeper into the hobby. Shell-dwellers (or shellies) are, as the name implies, fish that take up residence in a shell. They grow to about 1 inch long, and require several available shells to choose from. Once they choose a shell, you can begin watching for breeding behavior. These are fascinating little fish, and will give you a lot of enjoyment.

Tank #9: The Shrimp Tank
Inhabitants:
10-15 cherry shrimp OR
10-15 ghost shimp OR
10-15 crystal red shrimp
Other types of small shrimp would work as well.

This tank is for the hobbyist who is looking for something a little out of the ordinary. Shrimp are fascinating creatures to watch, and can be quite comical at times. Fill the tank with plants to make them nice and comfy, and they'll give you hours of enjoyment. Some will even breed for you.

Tank #10: The Crayfish Tank
Inhabitant:
1 freshwater crayfish

Lobster-like in appearance, the crayfish will entertain you with his antics. You'll be fascinated to watch his architectural prowess as he redesigns his tank from day to day. You'll also enjoy observing the life cycle and molting process. Crayfish do have some special requirements, so be sure to read up on how to set up an ideal tank.


With so many options to choose from, there is no reason a ten gallon tank should ever be overcrowded. The key thing to remember is that the tank must fit the needs of the fish first, and the desires of the hobbyist second. Happy fishkeeping!

 

 

 

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