10G Tank Stocking

chrisdenyer

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Hi guys, so I have a 10g tank which currently has 5 rummnynose tetras, and I really want to get a cockatoo apisto, or a pair since it seems pretty hard to find them for sale singly... I've read a lot of stuff saying that the apisto can work in a 10g with a school of tetra, wondered what you guys think?
 
One small problem is that I've had to move one cherry barb into the tank for now as he was being naughty...presumably he would bother the apistos if I leave him there, and/or make it a bit overstocked? I suppose I could move him out while the apistos are establishing their territory and then reintroduce him? I don't really want to use up my tank space giving him friends, although I don't want him to be stressed out on his own...I wondered if I got him a couple of females, and just had one male apisto, whether that might work with the tetra in there too? 
I'm guessing any option that involves keeping the cherry will mean only getting one apisto, again I've read various things saying one is ok....
 
It's a bit sparse at the moment but I'm going to add in a couple of those fake resin hollow tree trunk things to break it up and create hiding spaces (just got a few plants in there at the mo)
 
 

Ch4rlie

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Am afraid have to say a 10 gallon tank is a little too small for rummy nose tetras

 
I would put them in a 2 foot long tank at very least, 3 foot +  (20 - 25+ gals) being better imho for a small group of 6 of these tetras. (20 - 25 gals)
 
A little more information for you on these lovely tetras, a favourite amongst many keepers - Rummy-nose Tetra / Hemigrammus rhodostomus
 

Byron

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I agree.  We have some other issues here too.  I'll begin by saying that a 10g is actually a quite small space from the fish's perspective.  The "nano" type fish, being the very small species, are well suited to a 10g, or you can use it as a temporary holding for new fish or problems.
 
Which brings me to the cherry barb...if this fish is causing trouble elsewhere, it will likely do so anywhere.  The question is, what sort of trouble?  This is a shoaling species, like most all barbs, danios, rasbora and tetras, and that means having a group of the species.  Numbers vary, but six is minimum with more always being better for the fish.  Obviously tank space has to be considered, but having any species in an environment which is not "natural" for the species, which means not only the aquascape and water but the numbers of the species and other species, is almost guaranteed to lead to problems of one sort or another, and aggression is often the problem.
 
The rummynose tetra is a species that definitely will fare better with more than six; I would never go below 9-10, and more than this is even better.  But a tank of 30 inches length or more will be better for the fish.  This species like to swim together as a group, it is indeed one of the best species among all the tetras for remaining in a close group.  A 20g long (length 30 inches), or a 29g (same length) would be minimum.  You could have a pair of the apistogramma in with the rummys then.  However, I don't know what other fish/tanks you have, you mention the cherry barb being moved so presumably there are others, and apistogramma are not good tankmates for some fish like barbs.
 
Byron.
 
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chrisdenyer

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Mmmm. I only had a couple of cherry barbs to begin with (not knowing any better at the time) got them at the same time as the rummys from pets at home, who's advice I now know not to trust...I've got a 20g, 12g and 10g, and a piddly little 6g. With so many sources giving conflicting advice, I ended up being overstocked in the 20g (I think I'm ok in there now), hence moving the rummys to the 10g. Fish combinations are pretty random but seem to work, other than the cherry barb problem. The one in question had been very shy until a couple of weeks ago. 
 
20g (70x32.5x40) currently has 5 mollies, a pair of f.gardneri killis, a pair of EBRs and one deformed cherry barb.
 
12g long (60x30x30) has 7 tiger barbs and one dwarf gourami, which shouldn't work but does seem to. All chilled out, doing their own things ( again, was told when I got them that tigers would be ok in that size...a point of note is that there is actually more swimming room in the 12g than the 20g because of how they're scaped.) The gourami also started out in the 20g but was being aggressive, I moved him to the tiger tank under close observation, ready to rescue him if it went horribly wrong, but he's actually much happier (just exploring the plants, coasting around, no swimming against glass - he occasionally puts a tiger in it's place with a warning lunge but no chasing or nipping from either party). I may just re-home some or all of the tigers...
 
10g (50x30x30) as described previously
 
before I moved the rummys to the 10g I had tried putting two of the mollies in there, one was happy but the other kept trying to dig her way out of one corner, so I moved them back and tried the rummys. I'm not sure I could successfully move anyone else out of the 20g instead - possibly considering giving the rummys and cherry barbs to the lfs.
 
I know I sound like I'm trying to defend my stocking here - I still want the best for them all, I'm judging their wellbeing on their behaviour, which from what I've read seems healthy (other than the cherry barb problem) but I will make any changes that I can. It's hard to judge when there is so much conflicting information from different but equally credible sources! 
 

Byron

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You are in the predicament that many of us have been in too, something that is unfortunately common when we are starting out in this wonderful hobby.  And sadly the advice from fish stores can be off the mark.
 
First suggestion is, re-home some of these fish.  By re-home here, I mean to a store, or another hobbyist.  It sounds as if this may be feasible, so I would get rid of the Tiger Barbs and mollies.  Tiger Barbs need a group of at least 8, though 10+ is safer, and this means in at least a 30g tank on their own; with other fish, the tank must be larger.  And tankmates must be carefully selected as this species can get very nippy when stressed.  
 
The mollies also need more space, as this is not a small fish, and it is highly susceptible to ammonia and nitrate, issues that often can occur in small and/or crowded tanks.  Mollies should grow to 3 inches (males) and 5-6 inches females.  They need moderately hard water (something the rummys by the way will not appreciate as they are soft water) and space, at least a 30-inch tank for five.
 
Of course, if additional tanks are a possibility, you could plan accordingly and retain the TB and mollies.
 
The cherry barb shyness is likely due to not having a group of them.  But if you don't want this species, in a group of six-plus, I would re-home the one/two rather than add more fish you don't want.
 
Water parameters are not mentioned, but mollies are at one end and rummys completely opposite.  So this should be born in mind if re-homing is done; remove those less suited to your source water.
 
Byron.
 
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chrisdenyer

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eeugh, I suspected that... the tigers I'm happy to re-home, and probably the cherries. I'd really rather not get rid of the mollies, they are my babies! Literally - only one of them was bought (and seems to have stopped growing at 3 inches) the other four were raised in the 20g. Right now, they're all between 1-2 inches which buys me a little time...what would you suggest in terms of volume for them? I may be able to upsize one tank in a month or two...
 
the 20g has been running for a year, 12g 6 months. ammonia/nitrite zero, nitrate <20ppm stable. My water's pretty Darn hard...the rummys have been doing surprisingly well. None of the stockists around here soften their water anyway...
 
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chrisdenyer

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I've just managed to catch the other cherry barb (in the 20g). Not that that really solves anything, it just means I now have both cherries together again, now in the 10g. But I do think I've at least earned some hunter-gatherer stealth netting points... ;-) 
 
I don't know, I do like them...but then I really want apistos...maybe if I re-home the tiger barbs from the 12g, I could then put the rummys in there with the dwarf gourami, and then either have a pair of apistos in the 12g with them, and leave the cherries in the 10g  (with a few more to make up a small shoal) or do that with the apistos on their own in the 10g and the cherries in the 12 with the rummys and DG..
 
also....just a thought...you say at least 30" tank for 5 mollies - my 20g is 28" - will that 2" (4-odd gallons) really make all that much difference? 
 
IMG_3466.jpg
IMG_3469.jpg
 
these are the 20g and 12g tanks
 
 

Essjay

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How hard is "pretty darn hard"?
 
You would need to choose the apisto species carefully. If your hardness is under 19 deg you should get away with A cacatuoides or A borellii, or if under 11 degrees, A agassizii. Other apistos cannot tolerate hard water, eg A macmasteri's range is 2 to 4 degrees hardness.
 
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chrisdenyer

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I haven't actually checked (what with having started off with mollies, I didn't initially consider it too important), I'll pick up a test kit and check before I go buying anything else! I do know that the local cichlid stockist keeps them in water that's not RO or anything, so logically as far as hardness is concerned it would be the same as my tanks. My pH is around 7.4...Will see what I can do. I am currently attempting to soak some wood which would soften it a little? 
As far as everything else goes...I'm hopefully offloading my tiger barbs, rummynose tetras and cherry barbs on Monday to said lfs. Probably going to move my EBRs into my 12g, (with some re-scaping to make sure my grumpy dwarf gourami doesn't bother them...I will probably get him a female to keep him occupied and plant it up a bit more, although when I spoke to the lfs on the phone this morning they said that they don't have any at the moment) and then have a pair of apistos in the 10g. Alternatively I could put the pair of EBRs in the 10g and have apistos in the 12 with the gourami, although I get the feeling the EBRs might not be as happy in 10g... as a side note, I know the EBRs are technically better in soft water although are more able to adapt - mine are pretty well coloured for their size which I think is a good indication that they're happy in the water? 
 

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My first suggestion is to pin down the GH.  Before spending money on a test kit, can you check your municipal water authority for the GH?  If you are on municipal/city water, they may have a website with this data.  Once you know the source water GH, you can plan accordingly, as this is not going to change much unless you deliberately target it, as I will briefly explain.
 
GH is the measure of "hard" minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium, dissolved in the water.  Water is a powerful solvent, meaning a substance that easily and readily dissolves other substances to create a solution.  As it passes over rocks for example, it will assimilate the minerals, depending what they are.  The GH is referred to as permanent hardness because it cannot be precipitated out as can carbonate hardness (KH, or Alkalinity).
 
Organic substances (like wood you mentioned) will also dissolve into the water, but the effect may be minimal if the initial GH is high.  So we need to pin down the GH before speculating, or deciding on delicate fish like essjay mentioned.
 
As for local store water, this is usually nothing we can go by.  Assuming they do nothing to adjust their water (GH, KH or pH), they are only keeping their fish for a relatively short duration.  Permanent maintenance is very different.  The effects of hard water on soft water fish or of soft water on hard water fish is not something that will be seen overnight, or even over days or weeks, depending upon the GH/KH/pH of the water and the specific species.
 
Water is continually entering a fish via osmosis through all the external cells.  So everything dissolved in the water is entering the fish.  Some substances also enter via the gills.  Depending upon the substance in the water, the fish has to deal with this.  Toxins obviously react very quickly in most cases, but the effects of water parameter differences can be much longer to manifest themselves, and often it is merely a shortened lifespan.  This is because the fish is continually working harder just to maintain its internal metabolism, what is termed the homeostasis, and this adds stress to the fish and weakens it.  Taking just mollies, kept in soft or acidic water, they frequently develop shimmying, fungus, and similar issues, and die shortly thereafter.
 
I'd prefer to wait for the water parameters before dealing with fish species, but a 20g is limited space for five mollies, so if the end result is moderately hard to hard water, or if you decide to increase the hardness (this is easier to do than the opposite) to keep mollies, a larger tank, say a 30g, would be preferable, and I would go to a 3-foot 40g if possible.  But let's deal with that when we have the water sorted out.
 
Byron.
 
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chrisdenyer

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That is a good idea -  I just had a look and Bristol water has a very in depth water parameter chart!
 
I don't know which measurement scales you guys are using for GH, but I've got
 
GH 187 (UK degrees clark 13, or german dH 10) which is lower than I was expecting 
kH 146, which is definitely as expected
 
also got 
Ca 59 mg/l
Mg 9.6 mg/Mg
chloride 28 mg/l
Nitrate 10 mg/l
Phosphate 1.8 mg/l
Na 31mg/l
sulphate 57 mg/l
 
although the nasties are obviously sorted out with the water conditioner (I use API stress coat)
 
I don't want to get rid of the mollies...will see if I can upsize their tank at some point. I started adding salt about 6 months ago after I noticed them shimmying, they've been fine since! I don't know how long it will be before I can give them a bigger home, but four are <6 months at the mo so it'll be a while before they're getting cramped. I am thinking it would be best to move the EBRs out of there into either the 10g on their own, or the 12g with the DG which would mean they'd have slightly softer water - and not have five mollies to contend with when they all get bigger! What do you think about the EBRs in the 10g? do you think that would be too small for them? 

Trust me, apart from the potential future space problem, my Mollies are good. Four out of five were born in there and are practically invincible. I had two outbreaks of white spot last year which didn't even touch them! Re-homed about a 100 fry in total, along with the male to avoid future population problems - I think my big mama mollie should have used up all her stored sperm soon too, it's been nearly 6 months!
 
I've ordered a GH/KH liquid test kit to double check anyway, I think the salt has sorted it for the mollies but they might still need it a little harder (I had assumed from the general cloudiness of the tap water that it was rather harder than Bristol water says it is!)
 
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chrisdenyer

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It just occurred to me that it might be useful to say I'm using UK gallons not US gallons. Just in case that makes a difference! 
 

Ch4rlie

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chrisdenyer said:
It just occurred to me that it might be useful to say I'm using UK gallons not US gallons. Just in case that makes a difference! 
 
Yes, that could make a difference actually.
 
Lets say you have a 40 litre tank, usually we round that down to 10 US gallons, but yet for UK Gallons its only about 8.3.
 
10 UK gals is about 12 US gals and about 45 litres, slight differences there but can make the difference when comes to potential stocking choices.
 
Most members here tend to use litres or US Gallons basically for ease. Imperial gallons is actually not used that much on here tbh.
 

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OK, before getting to the hardness issues, a quick comment on the nitrate.  Nitrate at 10 ppm is not an emergency, but it is something to keep in mind.  Nitrates tend to accumulate in the aquarium and regular water changes plus live plants are two good ways to keep them down.  Here you have nitrate in the source water so any additional accumulation in the aquarium will raise nitrates even higher.  Keeping them below 20 ppm is always good, and for some fish essential.  And this brings us to cichlids and mollies, both of which are sensitive to nitrates (and ammonia and nitrite too, even more than some other species).  I'll move on for the present, but do keep this in mind.
 
To the GH, you have moderately hard water.  Dwarf cichlids would prefer it softer, and this can sometimes be got around with certain species (essjay mentioned this) and if they are locally bred or wild caught.  I will leave this for the moment, we can come back to it if you like; but as mollies are definitely intended, I'll deal mainly with this issue.
 
Salt is often recommended for mollies, but it is not essential.  However, your observations very nicely substantiate what I said previously about the effects of soft/acidic water on mollies.  Clearly they were beginning to have problems, and the salt has temporarily relieved these.  However, salt is only one mineral, sodium chloride, and not a good long-term solution.  If the salt is regular rock salt, sea salt or aquarium salt, it is just sodium chloride.  If you used marine salt (sold to make freshwater into salt water for marine tanks) which adds the other hard minerals (calcium, magnesium) it would be better; however, the salt is still actually not needed and best omitted, and there are safer and just as easy methods which I will go into now.
 
The best is to use a substrate composed of aragonite or a mix of crushed coral and aragonite.  CarribSea produce these as gravels and sand, the sand is better; just make sure you do not get the marine sand mix, you want the freshwater mix that is suitable for livebearers and rift lake cichlids.  This means you only want hard water fish in the tank obviously, so mollies and other livebearers if the tank is large enough.  I would not put any soft water species in when you are raising the GH, this is only going tomake their life much more difficult.
 
Re the UK/US gallons, 20 UK gallons is approximately 25 US gallons, so not much difference for our purposes here.  But I would still look at a larger tank for the mollies, with the aragonite substrate.  Vallisneria plants do extremely well in such set-ups, as they love harder water (they can use bicarbonates as a source of carbon, something other plants have difficulty with or cannot do at all, depending).  You could have a lovely authentic Central American/Mexican aquascape for the mollies.
 
The EBR I assume are Electric Blue Rams.  This species, which is Mikrogeophagus ramirezi that has been developed into the various colour forms, is a bit different than some species when it comes to water parameters.  While the wild fish definitely must have very soft water, the commercially bred forms tend to do best in water that approximates that in which they were bred and raised.  Knowing the source of the fish sold in a store is highly unlikely, unless they deal with a specific breeder, so one can only assume the water will likely be not as soft as the natural habitat, which usually holds up.  So these should do quite well in your sourced water--but obviously not in with the mollies and harder water, and certainly not with salt which is detrimental to all soft water fish in varying degrees.
 
The salt will increase the GH if you test it, but as I mentioned above this is not the same as using hard minerals.  GH involves all minerals in the water.  I can for example use magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salt) to raise the GH, but this is not going to help because calcium is missing and this is an essential mineral when it comes to "hard" water species.  So don't be misled by GH test results.
 
Byron.
 
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