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10 Gallon Freshwater Equipment List For Beginners

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Ottocinclus on driftwood

The 10 gallon aquarium is the starting point for many fish hobbyists. It’s a fish tank that will fit a handful of fish and also visually appealing without breaking the wallet. It’s the perfect size for smaller bedrooms, countertops and large enough where it should not be as challenging as smaller fish tanks. This guide will provide information on equipment and items needed to setup a 10 gallon aquarium. Each image has a link attached which will take you to the product’s sale page.

Aquarium Glass

First, we must start with the 10 gallon aquarium. For this guide, we chose the Aqueon 10 Gallon Aquarium with clear silicone. Aqueon is a great company and makes great fish tanks.

Needing the aquarium is pretty self explanatory, we need it to hold the water and give your future fish a home! This aquarium is 14 x 23.75 x 16.5 inches.


Filtration makes aquarium keeping a little bit easier by sucking up extra food and fish waste. There are two different types of filters we recommend for this type of setup. We recommend either using a hang on the back filter or a sponge filter. They both function differently and each have their ups and downs and we will give a little information about both.

The Aquaclear 30 is our preferred filtration system for a small nano aquarium such as the 10 gallon. This hang on the back filter is quite easy to install and it provides mechanical, chemical and biological filtration.

This filter achieves mechanical filtration using water flow and running it through filter pads or filter floss. It also reaches chemical filtration by running water through activated carbon. Lastly, biological filtration is present because beneficial bacteria forms colonies in the filter.. The Aquaclear filter is compact. Also, the majority of its housing is out of the aquarium which leaves more space inside for decorations and swimming space for fish. The flow is adjustable and the Aquaclear 30 is rated up to 30 gallon of water so perfect if you ever decide to upgrade.

The sponge filter has the capability of reaching the mechanical and biological filtration but not the chemical. It is a big sponge and quite a bit of beneficial bacteria will find home in it.

Besides lacking chemical filtration, the only other downside is that an aquarium air pump and air line tubing must be purchased with a sponge filter. The air pump sits out of the aquarium with a tube that goes into the fish tank and gets inserted into the sponge filter.

Whichever is chosen is determined by personal preference. Both sponge filter and HOB filter will aid in keeping your nano tank clean.


Our preference for heaters is the Fluval M50. It is rated for fish tanks up to 15 gallons and has an adjustable control dial which is convenient.

This heater is fully submersible, wires and all. The only thing that should not be submerged of course is the outlet plug. It’s a sturdy heater and we personally have had great success in using this one.

It also has a mirrored finish to help blend it to the environment surrounding it.


A great budget light for your aquarium is the Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED Light. This fixture will illuminate your nano aquarium with customizable & controllable green, red, blue, and daylights.

Furthermore, the Finnex light fixture will give you the right amount of light to potentially grow plants in your 10 gallon fish tank. A remote is also included with the light fixture to program your lights to your needs. This light fixture can handle medium to high light demanding plants.

An even bigger budget light fixture is the NICREW ClassicLED aquarium light. The NICREW light does not carry the same bells and whistles as the Finnex fixture but still can pack a punch for the price.

This light fixture has a nice low profile and extendable legs but unfortunately does not have a controller to program the light for your desires. This light fixture should be able to handle medium to high light demanding plants.

Final Notes

Hopefully this guide will provide you enough information to setup the skeleton of your fish tank. There is still much to add such as gravel, decorations and things like fish food and extra filter media. For information on items needed for your fish tank take a look at our setup guide here. The guide will provide a good foothold to starting and setting up your fish tank.