6 Best Saltwater Fish For A 10 Gallon Tank

There are many people in the saltwater aquarium hobby that love to keep small tanks. I am one of them. Small tanks or nano tanks, can make a huge statement in your home or office. Perhaps you are limited in space or funds and having a nano tank will allow you to enjoy a saltwater tank without the high cost or space limitations.

A 10-gallon aquarium is a popular sized tank that many freshwater and saltwater hobbyists keep. Yes, they are small but there are many options available when it comes to livestock, equipment, and aquascaping. Not as much as the larger tanks, but you still have options.

The standard 10-gallon tank has the dimensions of 20″ x 10″ x 12″ and weighs about 11 pounds empty and about 95 pounds when full. So you won’t need a heavy-duty aquarium stand to support it.

One common issue with smaller tanks is the fact that they tend to be less forgiving with respect to water quality and maintaining proper water parameters can be a challenge. Larger tanks are somewhat easier to maintain water quality and parameters.

So it’s important to choose your livestock wisely for a 10-gallon tank. This size aquarium will restrict you with the types of fish and corals you can have. Their behavior patterns and tankmates will also play a role in determining if the 10-gallon tank will be suitable for them to remain healthy.

For example, a standard 55-gallon aquarium which is 4 feet long will provide more swimming space and open up a wider choice of livestock you can keep. But if you are planning to set up a 10-gallon tank, it’s still very possible to have a successful tank with both fish and corals.

Here are 6 best saltwater fish for a 10-gallon tank:

  • Clownfish
  • Clown Goby
  • Purple Firefish
  • Neon Blue Goby
  • Watchman Goby
  • Royal Gramma Basslet

What are the best saltwater fish for a 10 gallon tank?

#1. Clownfish

Amphiprion ocellaris in exotic corals underwater

I put Clownfish on this list as there are some types you can get away with keeping in a small tank. Of course, the larger Clownfish like the Maroon Clown may reach sizes of 4-5″ are not suitable for a 10-gallon tank. But there are a few types you can consider. The Ocellaris and Percula Clownfish are smaller and make a good choice.

Clownfish are the most common fish to see in saltwater tanks. With over 28 different species available, you are sure to find either a common and less expensive Clownfish or a more expensive designer Clownfish for your tank. These fish are always active in the aquarium and will be the centerpiece of your nano tank.

It’s best to keep a single Clownfish in a 10-gallon tank. If you plan on having a pair, you should consider a larger tank of 20 gallons or more.

Read: 7 Best saltwater fish for a 30-gallon tank

#2. Clown Goby

The Clown Goby makes a great choice for a small tank. These fish are very peaceful and vibrant colors. They only grow to a maximum of 1.5″ and get along great with other tankmates but can fight with their own type in small spaces. They are an active fish and can be seen jumping around the rocks or perched on a coral in plain sight.

The Clown Goby is an affordable option, the normal cost is around $12-15 at Liveaquaria.com. They are readily available at local fish stores and online. They are also reef safe so if you are planning to have corals, they won’t bother them. They are carnivores and their diet should consist of a variety of brine shrimp, frozen Mysis shrimp, and table shrimp.

#3. Purple Firefish

Purple Firefish
Elegant firefish (Nemateleotris decora), also known as the purple firefish. Sea life.

The Purple Firefish Goby is a small fish with a ton of personality and color. It is a great choice for a small tank. They are also known as the Dartfish. They can move very quickly around the tank darting from one place to another. They are a very peaceful fish and shouldn’t bother other tankmates.

The Purple Firefish will grow to about 2.5-3″ when fully grown. They are considered reef safe. They are carnivores and prefer a mixed diet of seafood, frozen foods, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and Mysis shrimp. In order to maintain their vibrant colors, they require this diet or the colors will fade.

if you plan to have a Purple Firefish, make sure you have a tight-fitting lid or canopy on your tank. They are known jumpers and do a great job of finding the smallest space to jump out of. I have experienced this myself!

#4. Neon Blue Goby

The Neon Blue Goby is a small fish with electric blue stripes. It is a peaceful fish and won’t bother other tankmates unless it’s another Blue Goby. If they are a pair, then there will not be aggression. These fish are great for beginners as they are a very hardy fish and can handle less than ideal water conditions than other fish.

The Neon Blue Goby will only grow to about 2″ and because of its small size, it makes a great addition to smaller nano tanks. These fish are carnivores and should be fed a variety of live and frozen brine shrimp, frozen Mysis shrimp, and table shrimp. They are considered reef safe and shouldn’t bother any corals in the tank.

#5. Watchman Goby

Watchman Goby

The Yellow Watchman Goby is a small saltwater fish that is easy to care for and can live in small tanks. They should have a sand base as they like to dig and make sure to provide plenty of rocks for hiding places. These fish are not aggressive and will get along with other tankmates unless it’s another Goby.

The Yellow Watchman Goby will form a special bond with a Pistol Shrimp and they will become a great pair. The Goby will protect the shrimp from danger and alert it when trouble should arise. The shrimp will dig and make a cave for them both to live in. So they both benefit from the relationship.

You should have a tight lid on your tank as they are known to jump out of the water. These fish are carnivores and should be fed once per day including a combination of frozen and live foods.

#6. Royal Gramma Basslet

royal gramma basslet
Tropical fish Royal Gramma Basslet

The Royal Gramma Basslet is a very colorful fish mostly yellow and purple. It is a great fish for beginners and can live in smaller nano tanks as they only grow to about 2″ in size. They are peaceful with other tankmates but plan to only have 1 Royal Gramma in your tank. They will not tolerate each other unless it is a mated pair.

I generally recommend these fish be placed in tank sizes greater than 30 gallons, but if you have a small Royal Gramma and plan to upgrade your tank, you can temporarily house one in a 10-gallon tank. They prefer to have plenty of rocks in the tank and provide caves for them to hide in.

A varied carnivore diet is required for Royal Gramma fish. They will eat mostly crustaceans and zooplankton. They will eat the typical brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp that most aquarium fish feast on.


Tips for maintaining a 10-gallon saltwater tank

I mentioned earlier, that smaller saltwater tanks are not as forgiving with respect to maintaining water quality. There are a few steps you can take to help keep the water parameters healthy for your fish and corals.

  • Maintain a consistent water change schedule
  • Ensure to have plenty of filtration and water movement
  • Don’t overstock the tank
  • Don’t overfeed
  • Perform regular water tests
  • Quarantine new fish

I know a lot of these items are standard for all saltwater tanks, but they become more important for nano tanks.

Can you put a Clownfish in a 10-gallon tank?

Yes, you can have a single clownfish in a 10-gallon tank. If you plan to have a pair, you will need at least a 20 gallon. Also, make sure you choose your clownfish type carefully. Some can grow to over 4″ like the Maroon clownfish making it not suitable for small tanks.

How many fish can I put in a 10-gallon tank?

I recommend that you only have 1 or 2 fish in a 10 gallon. You will need to add clean up crew including snails, shrimp and you can easily overstock that size tank.