Top 5 Saltwater Fish For a 10 Gallon Tank

One of the most common and popular tank sizes for hobbyists at any stage of their journey is the 10 gallon (38 liters) tank.

People love keeping their saltwater aquarium community in small tanks, this is mostly due to space being somewhat of an issue for a lot of hobbyists and lack of time to take care of a much larger tank.

10 gallon fish tanks, which are 38 liters, are a fantastic option if you do not have much space in your home or office.

Owning a small tank or a nano tank will allow you to enjoy the benefits of a saltwater tank without spending extortionate amounts of money or being limited with space.

10 gallon aquariums are incredibly popular with both saltwater and freshwater hobbyists. Despite being small there really is a plethora of brilliant options when it comes to a 10 gallon (38 liters) saltwater fish tank as well as for a 10 gallon freshwater fish tank.

Obviously, you won't have the same options that you would have if you owned a 100 gallon tank, but we find that some of the most beautiful and fun fish are the smallest ones!

Typically, the standard dimensions for a 10 gallon tank are 20 inches x 10 inches x 12 inches (50.8 cm x 25.4 cm x 30.48 cm) and they weigh around 98 pounds (44.5 kg) full and only 11 pounds (5 kg). 

Below is a graphical representation of a typical 10 gallon (38 liters) tank:

Top 5 10 Gallon Saltwater Fish

Here is our carefully crafted list of the best saltwater fish for a 10 gallon (38 liters) tank. The way in which we have chosen these fish is by their size, peaceful personalities, and beautiful coloration, making them absolutely perfect for a 10 gallon (38 liters) tank.

1. Clownfish

Clownfish are undoubtedly one of the most popular saltwater fish to grace the hobby. However, there are only a few certain types of clownfish that you can house in a small fish tank.

Certain types, such as the Maroon Clownfish are not suitable for a 10 gallon tank as they grow to around 5 inches in length, but there are a few types that are perfect for it. The Ocellaris and Percula Clownfish are small enough to populate a 10 gallon tank with relative ease.

There are so many different species of clownfish available that you can certainly find the perfect one for you and your tank. It is, however, incredibly important that you do not purchase clownfish that are too big for a 10 gallon tank and that you do not add too many clownfish to your nano tank.

Not only are clownfish beautiful in coloration and pattern, but they are peaceful and active fish too. They will certainly become the main attraction of your saltwater aquarium community.

Keeping a single clownfish in a 10 gallon tank is certainly the most advisable plan of action. However, if you do want to add a pair or even more, you should look into getting a larger tank, 20 gallons or more.

2. Neon Blue Goby

The gorgeous Neon Blue Goby is a small, active fish that possesses electric blue stripes running down their long, shiny bodies.

They are model citizens, which is due to them being incredibly peaceful fish, leaving others alone unless it is another blue goby.

If they are paired with another blue goby then there won't be any aggression displayed, but it is not advised to have more than 2 in the same tank.

They are fantastic for beginner hobbyists as they are very hardy fish that can handle less than ideal water conditions.

These blue gobies will only grow to around 2 inches (5 cm) in length and are carnivores, meaning that they need to be fed a variety of live and frozen brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and table shrimp.

They are also considered to be reef-safe marine fish, meaning they will not harm corals in your tank.

3. Clown Goby

When you consider the best saltwater fish for a 10 gallon tank, the Clown Goby is up there with the best choices you could possibly make.

They are very peaceful and come in an abundance of vibrant colors. These gobies will only grow to a maximum of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length, and they get along very well with different types of fish. Additionally, they are active fish that can be seen darting around the tank or resting on some coral.

Another plus with these gobies is their price, they are certainly an affordable option, especially when compared with some other tropical fish.

Additionally, if you're planning on having some corals in your tank, do not fear as these gobies are reef safe meaning they will not bother them. They are also carnivores, so their diet should consist of a balanced variety of brine shrimp, frozen Mysis shrimp, and table shrimp.

4. Purple Firefish

Another goby to enter the list, what a surprise! When it comes fish that can occupy and live comfortably in a 10 gallon saltwater fish tank, you will struggle to find one that has as much personality and bright colors like this one.

They also go by the name of Dartfish and will move quickly around your tank, darting from one place to the next, which may have something to do with that name. Like all the other fish to appear on this list, they are peaceful and friendly with others, making purple firefish tank mates available in abundance.

These fish will typically grow to around 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) in length and are reef safe. Additionally, they are carnivores that prefer a mixed diet of seafood, frozen foods, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and also Mysis shrimp.

Their diet is pretty specific and must be followed correctly, otherwise their amazing coloration will start to fade if they do not get enough nutrients. If you own a Purple Firefish it is important that you ensure the lid of your tank is tightly fitted as they are known for being jumpers!

5. Royal Gramma Basslet

With the unique coloration of bright yellow and purple, the Royal Gramma Basslet made it onto our list for the most colorful saltwater fish, and for good reason too.

They are fantastic for beginners due to their hardiness and also peaceful nature, additionally, they will only grow to 2 inches (5 cm) in length making them perfect for smaller fish tanks. They play very well with other fish from different families, but it is best to keep them away from other royal gramma basslets.

Typically, you should look at housing these in larger fish tanks than 10 gallons, however, if you only have one royal gramma and not many other fish residing in the tank, you can certainly house it within the small tank (10 gallons) if there are plenty of rocks that provide good hiding spots.

These royal grammas will eat mostly crustaceans and zooplankton, which is great for keeping your tank clean. Although, you should probably add a mixture of brine shrimp and Mysis too to vary their diet.

10 Gallon Saltwater Fish Tank Downloadable PDF List

To provide further insight and information, we have created a comprehensive PDF summary of this list, consisting of all 5 of our top saltwater fish for a 10 gallon tank.

Feel free to download our free PDF guide to this article below:

Final Thoughts

When it comes to saltwater tanks, especially small ones such as the 10 gallon (38 liters), you will find that they are not forgiving when it comes to the water quality or parameters.

This means that owning a 10 gallon (38 liters) tank could potentially require more water maintenance than having a larger, more forgiving tank when it comes to the quality of water.

Another popular topic regarding small tanks and the 10 gallon ones in particular, is how many fish can I put in a 10 gallon tank? Our recommendation would be between 1 and 3 fish in a 10 gallon tank from this list. However, the bigger the fish, the less space you will have.

For example, we would advise you to only keep 2 fish if they are bigger than 2 inches in length, but if they were 1.5 inches or smaller, you could certainly have 3 or 4.

If you have decided to get yourself a 10 gallon (38 liters) tank but would rather keep freshwater fish as it is less hassle, then make sure to check out our list of the best freshwater fish for 10 gallon tanks.