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20 Gallon Setup/Stocking

Austin Burgess

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Hello all,

I am brand new to the hobby. I had a 5gal when I was a kid with 3 tiger barbs for some reason from Walmart. But that was ages ago.
Now my friend is giving me a 20 gallon long, used as a terrarium for a while, and I wanted to convert it to an aquarium.

What filter/pump/heater would be good for a tropical aquarium? I plan on doing an fishless cycle before I stock with anything.

My water has pH 7.2 and gH of 45ppm according to my city's website (http://www.mlgw.com/images/content/files/pdf/WQR 2018-sm.pdf)

I was planning on stocking with:
6 peppered cories a local hobbyist bred and is giving me
8-10 of a suitable tetra/rasbora/barb (suggestions?)
1-3 honey gourami or similar centerpiece

How does this stocking sound?
And what plants would be good, if any? Or should I stick to fake?

Thanks so much!
 

Byron

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Welcome to TFF.

What filter/pump/heater would be good for a tropical aquarium? I plan on doing an fishless cycle before I stock with anything.
Before deciding on a filter, decide on the fish you intend keeping. Fish have varying needs when it comes to water current and this is the prime duty of the filter, to move the water around and filter it. In a 20g long you will presumably be having fairly quiet, sedate fish, and small sized species, so there is no need for strong currents. A dual sponge filter would be adequate, but first let's decide on the fish. The heater is very important, as you want it reliable. In this sized tank I would use at least a 150w heater. The higher wattages do tend to be more reliable than lower wattage heaters. There are some good brands, members will suggest their favourites; my last purchase was an Eheim Jager heater.

I was planning on stocking with:
6 peppered cories a local hobbyist bred and is giving me
8-10 of a suitable tetra/rasbora/barb (suggestions?)
1-3 honey gourami or similar centerpiece

How does this stocking sound?
Cories are fine, but get a few more; five is minijum with cories but they will always be better with more and here you could have 8-9 easily. If you cannot get all the same species, no problem, all of them chum around together though having the group of one species is probably ideal.

A group of tetras or rasboras, or both, depending upon species, is fine. But forget barbs, this tank really is not sufficient space as they like to swim more (the cherry barb is about as quiet as barbs get) and quiet sedate fish do not appreciate this anyway. And gourami are sedate fish. You could have a trio of Honey Gourami.

There are many options, given your very soft water. Some of the pencilfish species, the small hatchetfish species in the genus Carnegiella, Ember Tetras, Cardinal tetras or the Green (false) Neon Tetras, the dwarf rasbora species in the genus Boraras... etc. Not all of these obviously, but lots to select from. Groups of 8-10 for most of them.

And what plants would be good, if any? Or should I stick to fake?
There is certainly no question that live plants are beneficial. Floating plants are the best and easiest if you don't want to go too deep into plants. And all of the fish species being mentioned will be much more "at home" with floating plants.
 
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Austin Burgess

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Cories are fine, but get a few more; five is minijum with cories but they will always be better with more and here you could have 8-9 easily
So you do not think it would be overstocked to have 9 cories, 3 honey gourami, and 8-10 tetras/rasboras?
 

Byron

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So you do not think it would be overstocked to have 9 cories, 3 honey gourami, and 8-10 tetras/rasboras?
It depends upon the species, but those I've mentioned would be fine. With floating plants better yet.
 
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Austin Burgess

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It depends upon the species, but those I've mentioned would be fine. With floating plants better yet.
so if we went
9 peppered corydoras
10 red dwarf rasboras
3 honey gourami
Would you say that's a good, compatible mix and well stocked?
What kind of filter would be sufficient with that?
 

PheonixKingZ

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What kind you thinking?
Here is a list of easy beginner plants...

  • Anacharis
  • Anubias
  • Duckweed (Floating plants)
  • Water lettuce (Floating plants)
  • Java Moss
  • Amazon Swords
  • Java Fern
This is just a small list of easy to grow plants.

so if we went
9 peppered corydoras
10 red dwarf rasboras
3 honey gourami
Would you say that's a good, compatible mix and well stocked?
What kind of filter would be sufficient with that?
That sounds good to me. Probably a Dual Sponge filter, as @Byron said. Make sure to get an air pumps as well as the sponge it’s self.

This is a really nice set. It comes with everything you need. (Air pump, sponge, airtubing, etc.) https://www.amazon.com/Huijukon-Double-Sponge-Aquarium-Gallons/dp/B06ZZMHCBY?th=1
 

Silencedogood

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What kind you thinking?
I really like Jungle Val. You can get the large kind which is really easy to grow. PheonixKingZ gave a good list of easy plants. I do recommend occasionally using a plant fertilizer until your plants are rooted in and adjusted to the tank.
 
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PheonixKingZ

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I really like Jungle Val. You can get the large kind which is really easy to grow. PheonixKingZ gave a good list of easy plants. I do recommend occasionally using a plant fertilizer until your plants are rooted in and adjusted to the tank.
Yes, I forgot the jungle Val.

Seachem Flourish is a nice liquid fertilizer.: https://www.amazon.com/Seachem-116051309-Flourish-500ml/dp/B00025696M

Use a daily does of 5ml per 20 Gallons of aquarium water. Dose daily to get the maximum use of the fert. ;)
 

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Use a daily does of 5ml per 20 Gallons of aquarium water. Dose daily to get the maximum use of the fert.
Don't add fertilisers each day unless you are monitoring the iron levels or doing a 90% water change before dosing. If you add fertiliser every day and the plants don't use it all up before the next dose, you will overdose the tank and poison the fish.
 

PheonixKingZ

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Don't add fertilisers each day unless you are monitoring the iron levels or doing a 90% water change before dosing. If you add fertiliser every day and the plants don't use it all up before the next dose, you will overdose the tank and poison the fish.
It says on their website to dose every day, or every other day.
 

Byron

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so if we went
9 peppered corydoras
10 red dwarf rasboras
3 honey gourami
Would you say that's a good, compatible mix and well stocked?
What kind of filter would be sufficient with that?
Yes. A dual sponge filter is sufficient here.

If this were me, I would forget the gourami; I am not fond of such "large" fish in small tanks, it looks odd somehow. You will in my view have a more interesting aquarium (for the fish but also for you to view) with smaller fish in shoals. "Centrepiece" fish is something often mentioned, but the reality is that it is almost never a good idea in small tanks, small meaning anything under 4-5 feet in length. The larger the fish the more obvious the tank space becomes, but there is also the matter of more fish interactions with more (smaller) fish.
 

Byron

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It says on their website to dose every day, or every other day.
The instructions on the Seachem site for Flourish Comprehensive Supplement are to dose once or twice a week. Not every day, though in very large tanks you could work out the number of drops (divide the weekly dose by seven or whatever) and dose more frequently but with a smaller amount. But when we are considering low-tech or natural planted tanks where you are not adding a lot of fertilizer it becomes something of a mute point. And one needs to keep in mind that the product is a supplement, i.e., intended to add small amounts of nutrients that might otherwise be missing or insufficient. It is possible to provide all necessary nutrients from the fish feeding and water changes. But this depends upon the number of fish and the number and species of plants; you do not want to go beyond the balance of light/nutrients or algae will take advantage. And then there are the fish to consider...none of these plant additives are beneficial to fish, but rather the opposite, so fewer is always going to be better for the fish.

Flourish Comprehensive Supplement contains all necessary nutrients, macro and micro, but the macro are in smaller quantity because most will occur elsewhere. So using more of this fertilizer means overloading the micro nutrients. More is not better. Too much of some nutrients can cause plants to cease assimilation of other nutrients; it can also kill the plants. Some nutrients can be stored by plants, but this is quite limited when we are talking about overdosing fertilizers. And not all plants can store these nutrients. All of this gets back to the "balance" that has to be maintained both for the good of the plants and fish, and the disadvantage to algae, and the light is big part of this.
 

Colin_T

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It says on their website to dose every day, or every other day.
If you dose every day and there are not enough plants to use all the nutrients that are added each day, the nutrients will build up rapidly and could poison the fish.

If you want to add fertiliser every day or every second day, you should monitor the iron levels in the tank (and anything else you can test for), and make sure the levels are safe for fish. As a general rule, 1 mg/l (1ppm) is the maximum level of iron that fish can safely live with. Higher levels will harm the fish.
 
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