Advice on stocking for a newbie


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May 30, 2022
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Hey guys,

I'm more or less new to the hobby. Had fish as a kid, but as far as things go I'm pretty much a beginner. I've done a lot of research into different fish and their needs the past year or so but that doesn't compare to real experience so I thought I'd come ask you nice people for your advice.

So I finally took the leap and got myself a 240 L (64 gallon) aquarium, with the dimensions 120x40x50 cm. Or for you Americans, 47x16x20 inches. I'm just in the process of getting the last bits for the tank before beginning the build. I'll be doing a semi-aquascape with lots of plants, wood and rocks, with many hiding places and obstacles to break up line of sight. I've been playing around on AqAdvisor with different stocking combinations for the past month and come up with what I want which is a really low aggression tank with many small fish such as tetras and pygmy cories. Their will also be two Bolivian Rams who will be a paired male and female. Similar goes for the Honey Gourami's, where I'll be keeping a Harem of two males to six females. I have tried to separate the fish breeds evenly into the three different water columns the best I could. The aquarium will also be left to establish itself for awhile and to let the plants grow before adding any fish. At least a good month or so.
I'll be getting either a HOB or canister filter with preferably 5x turnover rate. I'll be taking all tank maintenance rather seriously and will be doing 35-40% changes per week, with them most likely being broken up into two separate 17.5-20% changes per week, in order to help prevent large water parameter swings.

Before I get ahead of myself though, I'd like to know what you think because I don't fully trust a random calculator. According to AqAdvisor, my stock is at 89%, with a 29% water change needed per week. Is my stocking below suitable for the tank I have and my fish keeping behaviour?

The stock I'm looking at is as follows:

2 x Bolivian Ram
8 x Honey Gourami
24 x Green Neon Tetra
18 x Ember Tetra
12 x Pygmy Cory
8 x Julii Cory
6-8 x Amano Shrimp

PS. don't worry. I won't be getting all these fish at once. I'll be adding probably 5-10 fish every fortnight to stop ammonia outbreaks and the like.

I appreciate any help and thanks in advance. Happy fish-keeping! ><>
Welcome to the forum!
Make sure you read up on cycling an aquarium before getting any fish (or plants depending on what method you choose). Also, a 64g is way too small for the ammount of fish you want imho. Maybe its just me, but that does sound quite overstocked...
Agreed, seems overstocked a bit. I would go with just 2 honey gourami, a pair, max 3, 1 male 2 females
Would leave only with the pygmy corydoras, skip the julies completely.
That way it could work.

Regarding adding fish, you need to add groups of fish first, and there is a science on adding. You cant be adding 5 of something when that means you will split the group, cause that would mess up the group hierarchy and the newcomers would be in disadvantage.

I cant find the article on it, try googling the order of fish adding, but it is either most aggressive and territorial fish go last, because all the other fish need to be able to occupy the whole of the tank, and the ones picking the territory need to be absolutely last to not attack any newcomming fish
Also, the most hardy fish should go first. Alternative way is also to go with the cheapest fish first, if they die off, not such a burden than
Cheers for the responses. I've taken your points into consideration and revisited my stock. Halved the Honey Gourami's to four, reduced the tetra population slightly and dropped the Pygmy Cories altogether. According to AqAdvisor I've gone from 89% down to 72%. So although it ain't perfect, I must be doing something right haha

In regards to overstocking, I'm just curious as to your reasoning behind it. Is it down to sheer numbers and a lack of swimming space, because of bioload, or something else? I'd find bioload hard to believe, simply because many people are stocking much larger fish in great numbers in similar sized tanks. Would really like to understand that so I can better estimate my limits when choosing my stock in the future.

Also, thanks Beastije for the tip. That's something I've luckily already been looking into. Before anything goes in to the tank, I will be a master of water parameters lol I will be starting with tetras and Cories, and ending off the tank with the Honeys, followed by the Brams.
Welcome to the hobby, and to TFF. :hi:

I'll offer a couple of general comments. As noted by another member, for a shoaling species, which means the fish must have a decent-sized group, always add the entire intended group at the same time. With any shoaling species, this will ensure they settle in faster, which means less chance of stress and thus disease issues (ich for example). Some species have hierarchical issues that this avoids as well.

Second, as you intend plants, they will "cycle" the aquarium. Get them planted, ensure they are growing (some type of fertilizer is usually essential at this stage since there are very few natural nutrients with no fish), include some fast growing species (surface plants are ideal for this), then add the fish species by species.

Third, sites like AqAdvisor can be somewhat helpful, but it is impossible to build into such a site all the essential elements. The numbers of fish is actually one of the least important is more crucial to provide suitable numbers of the species, and compatible species, and the proper environment which includes water parameters (GH, pH and temperature primarily), the aquascape, the filter current, and so forth.

Corydoras must have sand to function properly. Most other fish care nothing about substrate provided there is one--the substrate is the most important part of the aquarium as it is the prime bacteria bed.

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