10 Gallon Tank Stocking 10g Planted Tank?

AngelicDaydreams

Hello everyone!

I’m not exactly new to fishkeeping, but I haven’t kept a community tank in several years, and want to make sure I do things right (as I don’t think 12-year-old me was the most knowledgeable aquarist, and adult me is a lot more careful when it comes to not just trusting the salesperson on “yes, you can totally have three honey gouramis, five pygmy cories, five white skirts, and shrimp in your 10g”).

I have a heated, cycled 10g halfmoon tank with gravel substrate that was previously inhabited by a betta and apple snails, and I recently cleaned it (without changing substrate or filter media, and leaving in some old decorations) and added live plants, which I plan to add a few more of if this first set do well. The filter is designed for a 3.5g tank, since it was better for the betta, who got pushed around by the current of the larger filter. I don’t intend to add fish until I can upgrade from strips to a proper liquid test kit and make sure the water parameters are healthy, and I’m open to upgrading the filter if I can find one that fits the tank and won’t break in a year.

I’ve been doing some research on what types of fish to add. I don’t want to overstock and I know my filter isn’t equal to the tank size, so I want to make sure that I stick to a low bioload, especially until I’m confident I can stay 110% on top of maintenance and upgrade the filter. Would six pygmy corys and some shrimp (I’m thinking of red cherry) be okay in the tank? And could I possibly add anything else later for the top of the tank, like celestial pearl danios?

If the corys and shrimp aren’t a good fit, I’m open to suggestions, but I’ve read lots of conflicting information. I adore honey gouramis but I think I’ll avoid those unless I can someday set up my old 29g and can accommodate a group of 4-6, since I’ve read they’re fairly shy and will do better in a larger group; I love cichlids as well but I don’t think they’d do well in a 10g based on what I’ve read. I definitely don’t want livebearers since watching them eat their own fry makes me pretty upset, and I’d like more activity than a single betta.

Thank you for reading this far, and I’ll really appreciate any advice you can give me, as I want to make sure that any fish I get are comfortable in the tank and that I can take care of them properly.
(I cannot edit my post but huge thanks to the mod who moved this! I realized it was in the wrong forum and couldn’t message a mod to ask for it to be moved due to my account’s newness; thank you again.)
 

Megaanemp

I think you could do 8 Pygmy Corys and 7-8 celestial Pearl danios. Shrimp have very little bioload so you should be able to add quite a few.

OR

Another option could be school of ember tetras and a small school of either corydoras pygmaeus or corydoras habrosus? I would do about 10-11 ember tetras and 6-7 of either Cory. It would be pretty fully stocked but with good weekly maintenance shouldn’t be too unreasonable.

However, I think you would need to upgrade your filter either way. I think a large sponge filter would adequate and is usually relatively cheap to set up. I use a large sponge rated for up to 40 gallons in combination with a 10 gallon rated air pump in my 10 gallon quarantine. Ember tetras are very active and endlessly entertaining. It’s very fun to watch them explore together, same with the Corys. The ember tetras can take a while to gain their beautiful colour but once you get the tank set up just right and get some good food into them they can become very vibrant. Most of these fish were talking about are quite shy and will do better in a heavily planted tank. The plants will also help compensate for weaker filtration, but I would personally still upgrade.
 
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wateriswet

I agree that a sponge filter could be a good fit for you. The air pumps are very reliable, it can go inside any shape tank, you can run it plus your current filter, and it's safe for baby shrimp who will like to eat off it.

No matter what fish you pick, remember to not add too many at one time or the bacteria that cycle the tank won't be able to keep up with the load.

If you're not yet sure what you want, start with one of the 3 types of tiny corydoras. Check out YouTube and Rachel O'Leary video on War of the Wiggles. After the corydoras and shrimp, wait a month and see how you like the tank and if you feel anything is missing. You'll have room to add a small something more. Possibly a small gourami as a centerpiece or a school of another nano fish. Have fun!
 
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AngelicDaydreams

I agree that a sponge filter could be a good fit for you. The air pumps are very reliable, it can go inside any shape tank, you can run it plus your current filter, and it's safe for baby shrimp who will like to eat off it.

No matter what fish you pick, remember to not add too many at one time or the bacteria that cycle the tank won't be able to keep up with the load.

If you're not yet sure what you want, start with one of the 3 types of tiny corydoras. Check out YouTube and Rachel O'Leary video on War of the Wiggles. After the corydoras and shrimp, wait a month and see how you like the tank and if you feel anything is missing. You'll have room to add a small something more. Possibly a small gourami as a centerpiece or a school of another nano fish. Have fun!

Thank you so much! My concern with a sponge filter is the noise - my current filter is virtually silent, which helps me a lot (I am autistic and in the past loud filter noises have triggered sensory overload), and I’ve read that sponge filters can be extremely loud. I’m hoping that the dense planting (including pothos, which should especially help with nitrates) combined with frequent water changes will cover things, but if a bigger filter is necessary, I’ll see if I can find a quiet one.

I really appreciate the reminder to add fish slowly! It’s easy to get overexcited, but I want to make sure I do what’s best for the tank.

Do you think a female betta could work as a centerpiece fish with the corys? I found one I’m absolutely in love with, but if she wouldn’t be a good tankmate, I may get a 4-5g tank for my nightstand for her and keep her in the 10g alone until the smaller tank is cycled (I adore bettas with my whole heart, but I’m hoping for a bit more activity on my desk and corys have been a long favorite of mine). I have a feeling that shrimp would not do so well with a betta, so I’d go without them if I had one in there; I’ve read mixed things on the corys with bettas and so wanted an extra opinion.

Thank you so much for the advice and help!
I think you could do 8 Pygmy Corys and 7-8 celestial Pearl danios. Shrimp have very little bioload so you should be able to add quite a few.

OR

Another option could be school of ember tetras and a small school of either corydoras pygmaeus or corydoras habrosus? I would do about 10-11 ember tetras and 6-7 of either Cory. It would be pretty fully stocked but with good weekly maintenance shouldn’t be too unreasonable.

However, I think you would need to upgrade your filter either way. I think a large sponge filter would adequate and is usually relatively cheap to set up. I use a large sponge rated for up to 40 gallons in combination with a 10 gallon rated air pump in my 10 gallon quarantine. Ember tetras are very active and endlessly entertaining. It’s very fun to watch them explore together, same with the Corys. The ember tetras can take a while to gain their beautiful colour but once you get the tank set up just right and get some good food into them they can become very vibrant. Most of these fish were talking about are quite shy and will do better in a heavily planted tank. The plants will also help compensate for weaker filtration, but I would personally still upgrade.

Thank you so much for the advice!!

My tank is fairly well planted currently, and I plan to add more (I currently have close to forty houseplants including a fig tree in my room, and I think my love of plants is already extending to aquatic plants), but I’ll definitely look at upgrading the filter. My main concern with the filter would be too much noise - I’m autistic and extremely sensitive to sound, so I don’t want anything that will trigger sensory overload.

Ember tetras are gorgeous!! I love their colors, and fish with personality and activity tend to be favorites of mine - I’d never heard much about what they’re like in the tank, and they sound wonderful to watch.

Do you think the filter would need an upgrade for just the 6-8 corys and shrimp if I get more plants? I’d rather be understocked than risk a tank disaster if I were to accidentally miss a water change. Thank you again for taking the time to reply!!
I would get a better filter or make sure you do larger water changes.
Some cute small fish that'll be good for a 10g would be (not all in the 1 tank mind you)
Neon green rasboras
Clown killifish
Celestial pearl danios (like you mentioned)
Chili rasboras
Ember tetras
Scarlet badis
Sparkling gourami
Or if you want just male livebearers like guppies or endlers (no breeding no fry eating)

Thank you so much for these ideas!! I’d never seen scarlet badis before, but they’re absolutely stunning - maybe someday if I’m ever able to make myself feed live foods. I also do intend to do larger weekly water changes if I can’t find a filter upgrade that isn’t too noisy. I really appreciate the suggestions!!
 
Upvote 0

Megaanemp

Thank you so much! My concern with a sponge filter is the noise - my current filter is virtually silent, which helps me a lot (I am autistic and in the past loud filter noises have triggered sensory overload), and I’ve read that sponge filters can be extremely loud. I’m hoping that the dense planting (including pothos, which should especially help with nitrates) combined with frequent water changes will cover things, but if a bigger filter is necessary, I’ll see if I can find a quiet one.

I really appreciate the reminder to add fish slowly! It’s easy to get overexcited, but I want to make sure I do what’s best for the tank.

Do you think a female betta could work as a centerpiece fish with the corys? I found one I’m absolutely in love with, but if she wouldn’t be a good tankmate, I may get a 4-5g tank for my nightstand for her and keep her in the 10g alone until the smaller tank is cycled (I adore bettas with my whole heart, but I’m hoping for a bit more activity on my desk and corys have been a long favorite of mine). I have a feeling that shrimp would not do so well with a betta, so I’d go without them if I had one in there; I’ve read mixed things on the corys with bettas and so wanted an extra opinion.

Thank you so much for the advice and help!


Thank you so much for the advice!!

My tank is fairly well planted currently, and I plan to add more (I currently have close to forty houseplants including a fig tree in my room, and I think my love of plants is already extending to aquatic plants), but I’ll definitely look at upgrading the filter. My main concern with the filter would be too much noise - I’m autistic and extremely sensitive to sound, so I don’t want anything that will trigger sensory overload.

Ember tetras are gorgeous!! I love their colors, and fish with personality and activity tend to be favorites of mine - I’d never heard much about what they’re like in the tank, and they sound wonderful to watch.

Do you think the filter would need an upgrade for just the 6-8 corys and shrimp if I get more plants? I’d rather be understocked than risk a tank disaster if I were to accidentally miss a water change. Thank you again for taking the time to reply!!


Thank you so much for these ideas!! I’d never seen scarlet badis before, but they’re absolutely stunning - maybe someday if I’m ever able to make myself feed live foods. I also do intend to do larger weekly water changes if I can’t find a filter upgrade that isn’t too noisy. I really appreciate the suggestions!!
I think you may be ok with the current filter if you stick with the Corys and shrimp. You could also add a ore filter sponge into the intake which could provide more surface area for the bacteria to grow on.

However, if you do have to upgrade your filter I have a couple suggestions. I also struggle with sensory overload that is often triggered by sounds. I usually put the air pumps on folded rags to help absorb the sound. I’ve found the top fin brand ones to be the most quiet. You could probably return it fairly easily if the sound is too much. However, aquaclear hang on back filters are much more quiet. The aquaclear 30 is designed for up to 30 gallons but I have had success using one on a 10 gallon in conjunction with a baffle I made from a water bottle, which helped reduce the flow a lot. You can also adjust the output and I kept it on the lowest setting. They’re more expensive than a sponge filter but not significantly more expensive than other brands, they also come with a really good warranty and really do work better than other hang on back filters at least in my opinion. This is because they function more like a canister filter so it ensures the water being pumped through will have to wash over all of the media with no stagnant pockets inside the basket.

As for Bettas, I have mostly heard that female Bettas aren’t less likely to be aggressive than males are. However, fish stores often keep groups of female bettas in community tanks. So you may be able to watch them for a while and pick one out that isn’t very interested in bothering other fish. I have seen one store near by keep 1 male betta in each community tank as well. I would always have a back up plan on hand in case the betta just doesn’t like tankmates. There behaviour towards tankmates can also change when they become mature adults. I got lucky with my Betta Arthur I currently have him with some bronze Corys. No signs of aggression after a year with them together, he follows them everywhere and just watches everything they do. I think he finds them just as interesting as I do.
 
Upvote 0

AngelicDaydreams

I think you may be ok with the current filter if you stick with the Corys and shrimp. You could also add a ore filter sponge into the intake which could provide more surface area for the bacteria to grow on.

However, if you do have to upgrade your filter I have a couple suggestions. I also struggle with sensory overload that is often triggered by sounds. I usually put the air pumps on folded rags to help absorb the sound. I’ve found the top fin brand ones to be the most quiet. You could probably return it fairly easily if the sound is too much. However, aquaclear hang on back filters are much more quiet. The aquaclear 30 is designed for up to 30 gallons but I have had success using one on a 10 gallon in conjunction with a baffle I made from a water bottle, which helped reduce the flow a lot. You can also adjust the output and I kept it on the lowest setting. They’re more expensive than a sponge filter but not significantly more expensive than other brands, they also come with a really good warranty and really do work better than other hang on back filters at least in my opinion. This is because they function more like a canister filter so it ensures the water being pumped through will have to wash over all of the media with no stagnant pockets inside the basket.

As for Bettas, I have mostly heard that female Bettas aren’t less likely to be aggressive than males are. However, fish stores often keep groups of female bettas in community tanks. So you may be able to watch them for a while and pick one out that isn’t very interested in bothering other fish. I have seen one store near by keep 1 male betta in each community tank as well. I would always have a back up plan on hand in case the betta just doesn’t like tankmates. There behaviour towards tankmates can also change when they become mature adults. I got lucky with my Betta Arthur I currently have him with some bronze Corys. No signs of aggression after a year with them together, he follows them everywhere and just watches everything they do. I think he finds them just as interesting as I do.

Thank you for taking the time to give such a thorough reply! I’ll definitely look into those filters, and especially see about adding the ore filter sponge to my current filter and check out the Aquaclear for when/if I set up my 29g. I’ll also do research into filters in general to understand the different types more!

I’ve found a gorgeous halfmoon betta girl for sale on Aquabid, so I may give ordering that way a try based on the positive seller reviews + the poor selection of bettas at my local stores. The plan would be to set up a 5g with shrimp and have the betta and corys in the 10g, and swap the tanks of the betta and shrimp if there are issues with aggression. Does that seem reasonable? One of my good friends keeps juliis with her betta in a 20g and hasn’t had any issues, but the larger tank likely makes a difference.

Thank you again!!
 
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Megaanemp

Thank you for taking the time to give such a thorough reply! I’ll definitely look into those filters, and especially see about adding the ore filter sponge to my current filter and check out the Aquaclear for when/if I set up my 29g. I’ll also do research into filters in general to understand the different types more!

I’ve found a gorgeous halfmoon betta girl for sale on Aquabid, so I may give ordering that way a try based on the positive seller reviews + the poor selection of bettas at my local stores. The plan would be to set up a 5g with shrimp and have the betta and corys in the 10g, and swap the tanks of the betta and shrimp if there are issues with aggression. Does that seem reasonable? One of my good friends keeps juliis with her betta in a 20g and hasn’t had any issues, but the larger tank likely makes a difference.

Thank you again!!
I think thats a good plan! I would just definitely stick to some sort of pygmy Corys
 
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AngelicDaydreams

I think thats a good plan! I would just definitely stick to some sort of pygmy Corys

Thank you so much!! I ended up going with salt and pepper dwarf corys instead of true pygmys; the water parameters were about perfect when I tested with the new liquid kit I picked up (no/trace ammonia, zero nitrites, low but present nitrates) so I decided to bring home a small school of seven today to help support the plants and get them established before potentially adding a betta. They’re super active and have been exploring as a group, and they seem to love the patches of sand I added for them to forage in. I didn’t realize how much I missed keeping corys and I’m loving having the tank with life in it again.

After seeing how happy they are, I may just fully embrace the multi tank syndrome, get a separate 5g for the betta to start in, and let these guys enjoy the tank to themselves/with maybe one other kind of community fish or shrimp, since I don’t want to risk stressing them out. The smaller filter seems like a good fit for them since they can zip right past the sponge intake without getting stuck, but I’ll keep a close eye on the water quality to make sure they’re doing all right.

Thank you again for the help!! It was really encouraging, and this has been a bright spot in a rough week.
 

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Cherryshrimp420

10g is too small for schools of anything IMO. You can keep schools alive but it's just making the hobby difficult for yourself.

Some fish live 10+ years, are you really going to have perfect maintenance for 10+ years? Chances are, something will happen and the schools of fish will suffer. If you kept 1-2 fish instead, then it becomes much harder to mess up the tank, especially over a long period of time.
 
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