How Much Substrate For 10 Gallon Tanks? Guides For Novice Aquarists

The most common start-up setup for novice aquarists who require a little highlight for their apartment is a 10-gallon aquarium.

Many factors, like substrate, decorations, or pumps, make up a beautiful aquarium habitat. One common issue is that many beginners are unsure of the required amount of substrate. How much substrate for 10-gallon tanks?

Wait no longer! Let’s dive into this article to get the exact answer!

How Much Substrate For 10-Gallon Tanks?

According to the guideline, there should be 1.5 pounds of substrate for every gallon of water in a fish tank. How much substrate do you need in a fish tank?

For the 10-gallon tank, you will have to prepare 15 pounds of substrate for this aquarium size. Besides, it must be around two inches tall.

You should select substrate based on the kind of aquarium, focusing not on its size but on its intended purpose.

The underlying substance in a 10-gallon aquarium should be a foundation for orienting creatures and plant species to the aquatic environment.

Many microorganisms and beneficial bacteria can reproduce and colonize the substrate.

The underlying substance will primarily function as a sea floor for the beneficial microorganisms to establish clusters in your 10-gallon aquarium if you keep fish.

Can you mix gravel and plant substrate? Yes! However, the foundation layer of choice for freshwater aquariums among enthusiasts is gravel.

Sand substrates frequently stir up particles that enter the filtration system, which is particularly delicate in aquariums and is prone to clogging.

The ideal surfaces for fostering beneficial bacteria are, nevertheless, sand substrates.

You can substitute sand with finer gravel to use in your freshwater aquarium.

aquarium substrate

The substrate

Why Is Substrate Important For Your Fish Tank?

Before answering the question “How much substrate per gallon planted tanks?“, it’s best to learn why it is necessary for your tank.

“Aquarium substrate” describes the substance used to line the bottom of a fish aquarium.

Sometimes, aquarists use it just for aesthetics. It adds color to an aquarium decor to make it more vibrant.

The water quality and ecology can be better if you select the proper substrate for your particular requirements.

Additionally, the aquarium’s underlying substance has an impact on the health of your pets.

Additionally, the growth of good bacteria that degrade the waste materials generated by the fish occurs in the substrate.

People often use sand as an underlying substance in their aquariums, which looks excellent and is occasionally necessary.

Nevertheless, compared to gravel, sand has some drawbacks. Cleaning and upkeep are critical problems.

Sand’s microscopic size makes it considerably more challenging to clean. That’s why experienced aquarists often use gravel as their tanks’ substrate.

How To Set Up A 10 Gallon Tank?

If you decide to start with a 10-gallon aquarium, let’s consider the following setup recommendations!

1. Fish Species

A 10-gallon tank is relatively small, so selecting species that won’t grow too fast is a good idea. Below are the best creatures to keep in this tank size.


The bright colors and big, fluttering fins on Bettas make them appealing.

Although they can endure brief periods of cold water, they like warm water and are pretty hardy.

Since the fish are around 2.6 inches long, a 10-gallon aquarium will be the right home for them.


Barbs are vibrant, robust shoaling fish that do best when housed in five or more schools.

The fish require a well-aerated, somewhat colder environment that is soft, acidic, and has good aeration.

An adult of the small Barb species will only reach 2.5 inches, while one of the more prominent groups is 13 inches long.


The resilient and vivacious danios enjoy colder aquariums. They are accessible, affordable, and simple fish for novices.

Although they have a maximum length of 2.5 inches, they often reach a dimension of 1.6 inches when kept in captivity.


Since they are labyrinth fish, you may keep them in an aquarium with less oxygen. However, it’s better to be extra attentive to the water quality.

As betta relatives, gouramis may get aggressive. Therefore, release one male and two females together.

Gouramis only get to be 3.5 inches long, so keep them in your 10-gallon aquarium if you can.

Neon Tetras

It’s another common freshwater shoaling species. Thanks to their vivid coloration, neon Tetras are easily recognizable even in darkness.

They may reach 1.3 inches in length and are simple to maintain in a communal tank.


Guppies are among the most extensively distributed tropical fish, making them accessible. They are hardy species, but they favor relatively warm hard water.

Males may reach lengths of 0.6 – 1.4 inches on average, but females can reach heights of 1.2 – 2.4 inches.

Pygmy Corydoras

They are a small, calm species maintained in schools of around ten fish. The fish may grow up to 1.3 inches in length.

These creatures are so peaceful that you can keep them with other species such as tetras.

Fish for small aquariums

Fish for small aquariums

2. Lights

Most 10-gallon setups include top lights that are built-in. These lights, nonetheless, are insufficient for your aquarium.

It’s best to upgrade the lights. You can select marketed or aftermarket lights.

3. Filter

A powerful filter is essential in a tank because ammonia may accumulate more quickly in a smaller volume of water.

There are various types of filtration systems. You can get one depending on the number of fish you want to keep.

4. Heater

You must equip a heater if you keep tropical species in your 10-gallon aquarium. These creatures require temperatures ranging from 65 to 82°F.

For this tank size, it’s better to invest in a 100-watt heater. When using the heater, you need to cover your aquarium using a lid to prevent heat from dissipating.

5. Air Pump

Aeration and oxygenation of an aquarium are accomplished with an air pump. This device is essential if you keep labyrinth or hardy species.

It’s easy to choose this equipment. All you need to consider is the tank depth.

If you want more tips to set up this tank size, you can watch this video:

air pump in fish tank

Considerations for tank setups

Wrapping Up

After reading this article, you have found the answer to your question: How much substrate for 10-gallon tanks?

This tank size will require around 15 pounds of the substrate with a height of about 2 inches.

Besides, you should consider elements like fish species, lights, filtration system, temperature, or oxygen level in your aquarium.

Thanks for reading, and see you in the next post!