I enjoyed this article. I think that fish stock you had when you were young was the standard for 10 gallon tanks of the day, unfortunately.
Because we have several different strains both pure strains and hybrids we must keep the majority of our Endlers in small 10 gallon tanks to help control genetics and maintain a wide variety of fish in a very limited space.
I often get the question of what size aquarium is the best to start of keeping fish or what optimal fish tank size to choose. And my answer always is 10 gallon fish tank.
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“The bigger the aquarium, the easier maintaining it will be.” This is probably the single most important rule in the hobby, and for someone setting up their first aquarium, it is an absolutely essential fact of life. The size of the aquarium has a direct impact on several key physical and chemical processes, including pH stability, thermal stability, and the dilution of metabolic wastes such as ammonia. The smaller the tank, the less stable and the more toxic the environment is likely to be.
The size of the aquarium is also important in terms of how fish behave. Schooling fish need to be kept in groups of at least five or six specimens, and that it turn requires a certain amount of aquarium volume and swimming space. When kept in insufficient numbers, barbs, danios and tetras become frustrated and often turn aggressive or nippy. Territorial fish need to be able to claim a certain patch of ground, and if there isn’t enough space in the tank, fighting or bullying can occur. Livebearers pose a particular set of problems because of the way males fight with each other while also tending to bully the females. It is important that there is enough space for the male and female livebearers to spread out, and if necessary find hiding places where they can rest or give birth safely. For all practical purposes, the minimum “safe” aquarium size is 20 US gallons (75 litres). Such a tank will be big enough to accommodate a reasonable selection of small aquarium fish without being particularly large or expensive. More ambitious aquarists interested in big or territorial species such as cichlids should consider larger systems though, with tanks up to 55 US gallons (210 litres) in size providing a good balance between size and expense.20-gallon (76 litre) tanks
Tanks this size are ideal starting points for anyone entering the hobby. In the United States 20-gallon tanks are available in “tall” and “long” varieties. The tall tanks measure roughly 24 inches in length and 17 inches in depth; the long tanks are 30 inches in length and 13 inches in depth. All else being equal, the long tank is better. Long tanks offer more swimming space and have a greater surface area to volume ratio, meaning oxygen diffuses into the tank at a faster rate. You can keep more fish, more happily, in a long tank than a tall tank. Do tall 20-gallon tanks have any advantages? Not many. They are perhaps a bit easier to decorate with tall plants and rocks, and having a smaller footprint they take up less space on a tabletop or shelf. Greater depth does work better with certain small but tall fish, in particular domesticated angelfish. But beyond that, these tanks are far inferior to long tanks for general fishkeeping and are best avoided by less experienced hobbyists.
Species useful in 10-gallon tanks will do even better in a 20-gallon tank. In the case of things like small tetras, you can keep larger groups. If you have a nicely planted aquarium, consider keeping two dozen neons for example. Otherwise some of the additional species you can sensibly keep in a 20-gallon tank include the following: