#1: Dwarf Corydoras
Most small Corydoras species can
be wedged into a 10-gallon tank, but a
couple of dwarf species really stand out as
being ideal choices. The first is Corydoras
habrosus, which gets to about 1½ inches in
length. They are busy little creatures and
are a joy to watch. Like other Corydoras,
they are schooling fish, so keep them in a
group of six or more.
Corydoras hastatus is even smaller,
barely an inch long when fully grown,
but what really sets it apart from most
other corys is that it is a mid-water fish.
If kept with larger fish, they tend to stay
out of sight, hidden among the plants;
but if their tankmates are of similar size,
these adorable catfish will flutter all over
the tank, often hovering in the current
and twitching their fins and whiskers like
strange little hummingbirds!
Corydoras pygmaeus is similar to C.
hastatus, though less widely traded, and
can be kept in just the same way.
#2: Neons, Cardinals,
Here are three fish guaranteed to catch
the eye. Neon tetras Paracheirodon innesi
are relatively inactive animals. This makes
them a better choice for the small aquarium
than similarly sized danios or minnows.
Neons mostly like to hang out under a
bushy plant and just wait for some food to
come drifting by.
Cardinal tetras Paracheirodon axelrodi
are similar to neons in shape and color,
though a bit larger. Basic care is similar,
although cardinals prefer slightly warmer
water than neons, so it’s a good idea to
choose one or the other depending on
what your other fish prefer. For neons, 68°
to 78°F suits them well, while cardinals
prefer 74° to 80°F—or you could just keep
both at a nice happy medium, around 75°
Glowlight tetras Hemigrammus
erythrozonus are slightly larger than
cardinals. They are basically transparent,
but with a lovely copper-colored band
running along the midline of the fish from
nose to tail. Glowlights really earn their
keep in tanks with a dark substrate and
lots of plants. Adding a bit of blackwater
extract to the water makes them look even
better. In fact, neons and cardinals also
look their best in dark tanks that mimic
the blackwater streams of their natural
Corydoras hastatus, one of the smaller dwarf cory catfish.
A school of cardinal tetras Paracheirodon axelrodi makes a colorful display.
#3: Sparkling Gouramis
The sparkling gourami Trichopsis pumila
is a jewel that lives up to its name, with
brilliant blue spangles on a pinkish-brown
body. A mere 1½ inches or so in length,
sparkling gouramis are perfectly suited to
a small, thickly planted aquarium where
they will swim about at all levels but
mostly close to the top. They can be quite
shy, but if kept in a peaceful tank away
from nippy or aggressive fish, they will
become much more outgoing.