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5 Steps to a Better 10 Gallon Fish Tank

by Cory McElroy February 05, 2019 3 min read

5 Steps to a Better 10 Gallon Fish Tank

A 10-gallon fish tank is the most sold fish tank size in the USA each year. With so many sold, they are also the cheapest fish tank sold and, when sold as a kit, quality equipment is often swapped out for cheaper equipment to be more price competitive. In this guide you’ll learn how to get your 10-gallon fish tank up to speed in 5 easy steps.


1. Upgrade your lighting
Many of the fish tanks produced today come with built-in tops with LED lights. Unfortunately to keep the cost down, these lights are only enough to illuminate the aquarium. Upgrading to an aftermarket LED light, such a 20-inch Finnex Stingray, will allow you to get great color out of your fish as well as grow live aquarium plants. Make sure you grab a glass top for your aquarium so you can let your new light shine through.


2. Proper filtration
Being that 10-gallon fish tank will usually house smaller fish we’ll want something with a slower flow. There are many options for filters when it comes to fish tanks. We prefer small hang on back filters like an AquaClear 20 or a sponge filter that runs on an air pump. Having a filter on your aquarium will not only collect the waste fish produce but help break down toxic chemicals such as ammonia and prevent them from harming your fish.

3. Heating
When people think of an aquarium they often think of brightly colored fish. These are tropical fish and require temperatures ranging from 74 to 84 degrees. You’ll need a fish tank heater to warm the water above the ambient temperature in your house. The colder your house runs, the more watts you’ll want to use. I recommend starting with a 100-watt heater for most situations with a 10-gallon fish tank. You’ll be glad you picked up that glass top for your fish tank because heat rises and leaves through the top of the water unless you trap it in with the glass.

4. Get the right chemicals
Most fish stores carry an overwhelming amount of chemicals that can go into a fish tank. The essentials every aquarium owner must have are a dechlorinator to remove chlorine and chloramine from your water to make it fish safe and a test kit to monitor how the water is doing. Everyone agrees that these are the must haves. After that things like bacteria additives, plant fertilizers, and medications are good to have on hand, but you’ll want to know how to use each one and to choose the right ones. You wouldn’t just grab a random medicine off the shelf at the pharmacy, right? Why take the same chance with your fish tank?

5. Decorations!
One of the fun parts of setting up your fish tank. Pick what type of fish tank you want. Is it a princess themed tank with a castle, or is it a natural aquarium with wood, rock and live plants? Live plants have the benefit of helping passively clean your aquarium when paired with a good light that you bought in step 1 and fed with plant fertilizers you may have picked up in step 4. No matter how you decorate your tank, make sure it’s safe for the fish you’ll be putting into it. After all it is a FISH tank, and thus should be setup optimally for them. Don’t use stones, sticks, or fake plants that are sharp. Try to find décor with rounded edges, instead of plastic plants, use silk. We believe that to really bring your fish tank to life add some real aquarium plants.

Now that you’ve got the essentials for a 10-gallon fish tank, don’t be afraid to research more, especially the care of the fish you intend on keeping. Seek out a good local shop who will provide you support. Unfortunately, not all fish stores are not equal, even in the same store there can be different levels of knowledge between the staff. My last word of advice is to research everything before you buy it. When anyone recommends something, be it in person or online, educate yourself and see if this is a good idea for your fish tank. You can start that journey by seeing what we recommend in the playlist below. This is a great starting point for your own research for what kind of fish tank you want to set-up and enjoy!