A Guide to Finding the Best 10 Gallon Fish Tank for You

10 gallon fish tank

Whether you call them fish tanks or aquariums, there’s no questioning their appeal and value. Aside from being a hobby, fish tanks can be a source of entertainment and a way for you to learn about fish and how they live. While 10 gallon aquariums are widely available, some planning is required prior to buying one.

If this is your first time to buy a fish tank, be aware that they come in different sizes, but generally a 10 gallon starter kit is ideal. Anything less than 10 gallons might prove too small for you, while a larger volume tank requires more patience, time and maintenance than you may be able to handle at this time.

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What Fish Tanks Should I Buy?

Now that you know the ins and outs of buying a fish tank, you can start looking for one in earnest. Fish tanks these days are mainly made of glass and acrylic, these days. There are pros and cons in both of them. To make things easier here’s a quick overview of the best 10 gallon fish tanks today. These tanks have different features but what they share in common is cost efficiency: all the essential components you need to get the aquarium up and running are included so it’s cheaper than buying the components separately.

Marina Style Deluxe Glass Aquarium Kit

This aquarium kit is ideal for beginners because it’s easy to set up as all the equipment you need are here like a filter and 15 watt bulbs. While it’s a basic kit and aimed at first time fish tank owners, it’s easy to maintain and at 10 x 20 x 12, doesn’t consume a lot of space regardless where you put it.

All Glass Aquarium AAG09009 Tank and Eco Hood Combo, 10-Gallon

The AAG09009 fish tank is a starter kit featuring a high quality glass aquarium that’s built to last. It’s a fully functional but economical kit designed for first time owners who want to get a feel of what it’s like to own a fish tank without expensive maintenance.

Carolina Aquarium Tank

The tank may not look that different from others, but what sets it apart is durability, as its glass is triple strength and is joined together via silicone rubber. The fish tank is leak-proof and can last for years with little maintenance, plus the top frame is designed for recessed cover. It is  available in a 20 gallon version as well.

Aqueon 17755 10 Deluxe Kit Aquarium

Aqueon has made a number of quality aquariums before and the 17755 is no exception.  Setting up the fish tank is easy and there’s a care guide so you don’t have to do any guesswork. Aside from the tank the package comes with a quality lighting system and filtration, and the unit is shatter resistant as well.

Perfecto Manufacturing APFNV33121 Tetra Goldfish Starter Kit

This 10 gallon fish tank comes with ten unique light settings so you can give the tank a different look. In addition, the Perfecto APFNV33121 is constructed from shatterproof acrylic, and while the filter is one of the cheapest in terms of cost it’s made of high quality material and is more cost effective compared to other fish tanks.

Tetra 29234 Half Moon Aquarium Kit, 10-Gallon

The first thing you’ll notice with the Tetra Half Moon is its shape, which makes the fish tank stand out, and the frameless top edge design makes viewing easier compared to other aquariums. Also, its cartridge based filtration keeps the water clear and it has a 50 watt heater.

Marineland LED Aquarium Kit

marineland aquarium kit

The Marineland aquarium comes with a BIO Wheel Power carbon filter, and there’s also a LED light hood as well. Once assembled, the kit is easy to maintain and the feeding access is more convenient compared to other fish tanks. While the Bio Wheel generates a sound, it’s not that noisy and won’t keep you up late at night.

Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit, 10-Gallon

The Penn Plax aquarium is notable for its sleek, modern style, and the glass tank is built of high quality material and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Penn Plax is also known for its quality internal filters, and the one here is no exception. While the LED light isn’t the brightest you will come across, it’s more than sufficient for a 10 gallon fish tank.

Aqueon 17750 Basic Kit Aquarium

This is the basic edition of the Aqueon 17755, and while it’s not as sophisticated as the 1755, it does come with more than enough features for the first time tank owner such as the Quiet Flow water filter, 2 incandescent bulbs, a fluorescent bulb, a filter and filter cartridge.

Tetra 10G Deluxe LED Kit

The Tetra 10G Deluxe is another cost effective starter fish tank kit with all the essentials, but what really makes this remarkable is the design as it lets the maximum amount of light reach the tank. At the same time, the fish tank is equipped with splash protection so the electrical components don’t get wet.

How Many Fish Can an Aquarium Hold?

Let’s start by comparing fish tank volume and the fish they can hold. If you’re starting out with a smaller fish tank, something like a 10 gallon, instead of a more standard 55 gallon, you might want to consider starting out with less fish. A standard tropical freshwater fish tank supports an inch of fish for every gallon of water. However this can vary depending on the water surface area (the greater the water surface area the more oxygen it has for the fish).

Fish length is measured at its full size and minus the tail, but you also have to consider other factors like its type. Schooling fish for instance, like to be in groups and need more space, while others are comfortable in a 10 gallon. On the other hand, Bettas (not necessarily alongside their tank mates) can thrive in fairly small tanks. As to which is better, marine or freshwater fish, they both have advantages and some prefer one over the other. Marine fish tend to be more colorful but require more maintenance so a freshwater fish tank is better suited for beginners.

Safety and Maintenance

Starter kits like the ones here are solidly built, but make sure that it’s set on a level surface, have solid support and won’t get knocked off. Unless it’s a self cleaning fish tank, your aquarium will need periodic cleaning. Aside from cleaning the fish tank you also have to keep it far from windows, doors, heater vents and other places that could cause sudden temperature changes harmful to the fish. You should also avoid placing the aquarium near sunlight as that leads to algae buildup.

Learn about Filtration Equipment

Figuring out the filtration equipment can be confusing for beginners but it’s essential if you want to ensure the longevity of your fish tank. There are a wide range of fish tank filters, and each type of them work in a different way. Generally speaking, however, they work in three ways:

  • The first is biological filtration, which uses the bacterial process in the nitrogen cycle. What happens here is the biological filter has large surfaces that allow beneficial bacteria to flourish, keeping fish safe and bacteria from being disturbed.
  • Mechanical filtration on other hand, eliminates unsightly and unwanted particles in the fish tank such as dust excrement, uneaten food, sludge and others. Aquarium water is passed via a mechanical filter media, straining out the particles. For this to be effective however the filter media has to be cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Chemical filtration eliminates the dissolved wastes in the fish tank which a mechanical filter cannot reach. As water goes through the filter media, the filter joins with the waste molecules, removing them from the fish tank.

Filters provide various possible combinations of the above-mentioned filtration systems.

  • Canister filters use various kinds of media under pressure to generate the three filtration types. Under pressure, water passes through the media, giving you mechanical filtration, and by using sponges or ceramic rings, biological filtration becomes possible. Chemical media on the other hand, is usually accomplished using carbon resin.
  • Power filters are usually at the back of the aquarium so changing the media is quick and convenient. Most of these filters utilize a cartridge that holds the media being used, and others have a permanent biological filtration such as a bio wheel or sponge. Generally speaking, these are among the best for small fish tanks like those in the 10-gallon range.
  • Dry and wet filters rely on biological media, and water is distributed via a spray bar or a drip plate, either of which is efficient. A typical dry / wet filter uses a sponge or similar media, although you can add chemical filtration to the unit.
  • Fluidized filters have a lot in common with dry / wet filters and are similar to biological filters in terms of efficiency. However they work differently in that sand or other synthetic media is used, giving bacteria plenty of surface area to thrive in. What makes these attractive is their compactness and very little to no maintenance required. Fluidized filters are also ideal as supplements or for use in stocked fish tanks.

What are UV Sterilizers?

UV sterilizers prevent parasites, fungus, viruses, bacteria and algae from appearing in the tank. In addition these sterilizers have a UV lamp or germicidal where the UV rays kill specific types of organisms. The efficiency of these rays depends on the flow of water in the sterilizer, the sterilizer’s diameter, and the wattage.

UV sterilizers are especially useful in marine fish and reef fish tanks. However, these are not considered essential equipment and may have to be purchased separately from your aquarium kit.


Fish tank lights aren’t just for aesthetic purposes as they are critical for any live plants and marine creatures that depend on it. Aside from making the fish tank more attractive, lighting acts as natural substitute for sunlight for the fish. The good news is most aquarium kits have several light options so you can pick and choose.

Thermometers and Heaters

Regardless of the fish you prefer, they’re going to need a specific temperature to thrive in, so it’s vital the water temperature is at a constant level because if the temperature fluctuation is too much the fish will get stressed and become ill. As a rule of thumb most fish thrive in a temperature anywhere from 75 to 80 F.

If you have just one species of fish in the tank you can set the temperature at the number that suits their needs. But if you have different species of fish in the aquarium you can set it at 76 or 77 F as that is usually safe. Marine fish tanks usually require extra attention as more light is required.

Chemicals and Test Kits

An integral part of aquarium maintenance is keeping the water quality high, and you can do this by buying various chemicals and test kits to maintain the proper balance. You may need buffers, pH adjusters, trace element additives and salt, though it will also depend on what kind of fish you have.

Water conditioners however, are always necessary to get rid of chlorine and other potentially toxic elements in the water. Test kits on the other hand, are used to check the purity and stability level of the water.

Fish Food, Diet and Supplements

Once you’ve got your fish tank up and running, it’s time to look at the food and supplements. Some fish tanks come with fish food but of course you’ll want to buy your own supply. The flake foods you see in stores aren’t bad, but they only provide just enough for the fish to live.

There are thousands of fish foods available and some are made for specific types of fish. The most important thing to remember is to vary their diet and supplementing with vitamins and supplements so they remain healthy. You might also come across people who say that live food is better than freeze dried food, and while live food does have benefits, today’s freeze dried are of very high quality and make for good alternatives.


Buying a fish tank for the first time can be a challenge as you’ll be concerned over maintenance, the cost, if it’s the right size, etc. But as this guide has shown, things will be much easier provided you have some basic know-how of how of fish tanks work and what you need to look for. By simply following this guide, you’ll be able to buy an aquarium with confidence.

Image Courtesy: Flickr

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