Which Animals Can Live in a 10 Gallon Fish Tank?

Goldfish are too big for a 10-gallon tank.
Goldfish are too big for a 10-gallon tank. (Image: gold fish image by Daria Miroshnikova from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

A 10-gallon aquarium is a suitable habitat for several types of pets, some more unusual than others. Pets that can live in a small tank take up little space and are typically undemanding as a pet. Setting up the tank for each type of pet will require special knowledge about that pet's care needs.

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs do well in a 10-gallon glass aquarium, according to the Hermit Crab Association. With sand on the bottom of the tank, a piece of bark and empty shells, the tank is almost ready for a hermit crab to move in. These pets do need a highly humid environment at all times or they will be unable to breathe. To maintain the required 70 to 80 percent humidity, use a solid lid with a small opening for airflow and keep a large damp sponge inside the tank. Another method recommended by the Hermit Crab Association for maintaining the humidity is to pour water into small holes dug into the sand at each corner of the tank.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

These large insects, found at reptile or exotic pet shops, are easy to handle. Their tank needs dirt as a substrate and several pieces of bark or logs for them to hide in. Cockroaches are decomposers and eat any rotting meat or vegetation. You can feed them soaked dog chow, fruits and vegetables. They live in colonies, and a 10-gallon tank can house 10 to 20, depending on their size. They do breed easily, so be sure you want hundreds of babies when housing males and females together. Male hissing cockroaches have large horn structures on the area above their head.


Fish take more work to set up, but once established the tank usually only needs regular water changes and filter cleaning to keep the fish habitat healthy. A 10-gallon tank is not a lot of space, so consider small fish only. About 1 to 2 inches of fish can live in 1 gallon of water. Choose fish should based on their adult size. For example, a 10-gallon tank could house five guppies (2 inches each), two swordtails (4 inches each) or 3 to 4 sunset platys (2 to 3 inches each). Other small fish to consider are tetras, bettas and corys.


One or two hamsters can live comfortably in a 10-gallon tank. These small mammals need pine or aspen shavings--never cedar as it is toxic--or shredded paper to burrow in and tubes to run through. The setup for a hamster in a tank, versus a wire cage, does require more care in cleaning and providing ventilation. Hamster urine can quickly build up, making the air noxious. Provide a mesh lid for good airflow. Clean twice a week by completely removing the substrate and washing the tank with soap and water to keep the hamsters in a tank healthy.

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